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Commons Chamber

Volume 600: debated on Wednesday 18 February 1959

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 18th February, 1959

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

National Association Of Almshouses (Investment) Bill (By Order)

Second Reading deferred till Monday next.

North Devon Water Bill (By Order)

Read a Second time and committed.

Oral Answers To Questions

France (Nuclear Tests)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if in view of the progress made by the French Government in the production of a hydrogen bomb and the preparations for testing it, Her Majesty's Government will propose to the Governments of the United States of America and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that France be invited to participate in the negotiations at Geneva for the termination of nuclear tests.

No, Sir. I do not think it practicable to enlarge the composition of this conference.

Is not it rather farcical that whilst America, Russia and Britain are considering the termination of these tests the French Government should be producing this hydrogen bomb and should be planning their first test? Is not there some way in which the Government can bring France into association with these negotiations?

The first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is really addressed to the French Government. In regard to the second part, of course it is our wish that as soon as we have an agreement at Geneva we should persuade as many other countries in the world as we can, including France, to undertake the same obligation.

Is not this proof of the fears of many of us that this weapon would now be developed in more and more countries? Would it not be better, therefore, to open consultations with France to see whether she will agree with us that the production of this weapon should be restricted to America and the Soviet Union?

The best method of proceeding is, I think, to continue our negotiations with America and Russia to get agreement to suspend nuclear-weapon tests and then to persuade other countries in the world to undertake the same obligation.

If the Minister of State does not succeed in getting agreement within measurable time, would not it be wiser to call in more nations, since this is a matter of interest not only to France but to all the nations of the world?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make representations to the French Government regarding its intention to establish a nuclear weapons testing station at Kerguelen Island, in view of the danger of radioactive fall-out over British Protectorates in South Africa because Kerguelen is in a cyclone belt where winds reach 140 miles an hour.

I understand that a Press report about French plans to test a nuclear device at Kerguelen Island was officially denied in Paris at the time of its publication.

Is not the Joint Under-Secretary of State aware that this report has aroused considerable disquiet throughout South Africa and among the populations of our Protectorates? Is he aware that I hope the denial which he has now made will receive wide publicity there, so that that disquiet may be eased?

I quite agree, but I have not made a denial on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. I said that the French Government denied it.


United Kingdom And Soviet Notes


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has now completed his discussions with other Western Governments on the reunification of Germany; and what proposals he intends to put forward in the forthcoming discussions with the Soviet Government.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals for a reduction and withdrawal of foreign armed forces in Germany he will put forward in the proposed discussions on a German Peace Treaty.

7 and 8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) in view of recent proposals affecting the settlement of outstanding problems in Central Europe, what further consideration has been given by Her Majesty's Government to the revised Rapacki plan for a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe;

(2) whether the discussions with other interested Governments on various possible methods of achieving the reunification of Germany have now been completed; and whether he will make a statement.

On 16th February Her Majesty's Government sent a Note to the Soviet Government proposing a conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union, France, the United States and the United Kingdom to deal with the problem of Germany in all its aspects and implications. The text of this Note, together with the Soviet Note of 10th January to which it replies, have been published today as Command Paper 670. It is the view of Her Majesty's Government that at such a conference neither side should seek to impose a veto on specific subjects to be discussed. We are now consulting our Allies in preparing the Western position and this will be stated at the conference.

The negotiation has been going on for some time. Is not it a fact that the Note which has been delivered appears to contain no constructive proposal at all for the solution of this problem, while it throws cold water on the proposals that have been made by the Soviet Union? Apparently, as the result of the consultations that have been taking place for many weeks, no proposals are being put forward by the Western Powers in regard to the settlement of the German problem or the problem of European security.

We have proposed that in the near future there should be a meeting of Foreign Ministers and, as I said in my original Answer, our proposals will be put at that conference.

Would the right hon. Gentleman take a little message from me to his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, by asking him to let the good sense that guided him in his Glasgow speech, due perhaps to his environment, guide him during his sojourn in Russia, not the outmoded concept of the Bagdad Pact? Will the Foreign Secretary take with him this little pamphlet to guide him during the time he is in Russia? I will send it to him.

If the hon. Gentleman sends it, my right hon. and learned Friend will probably receive it.

Is it not a great disadvantage that, while the Russians have put forward fairly detailed proposals which can be considered by world public opinion, no similar proposals have come from the Western side? Would it not be an advantage if the British Government could put forward proposals, so that public opinion may have an opportunity of considering both sides?

I think that a great many of these matters could be discussed more fruitfully in the debate tomorrow than by Question and Answer today.


On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understood that Question No. 8 had been answered with No. 3, but not Question No. 7. As my Question No. 7 deals specifically with the Rapacki Plan, on which there have been no supplementary questions at all, may I put one on that?

I think I was in error here in calling the hon. Member. I thought the Minister of State answered Question No. 9, with the earlier Questions, but in fact I now find he answered Questions No. 7 and No. 8.

Peace Treaty


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent Her Majesty's Government now accepts the Potsdam Agreement as a basis for discussing the provisions of a German Peace Treaty.

Those matters which the Potsdam Agreement reserved for decision at a peace settlement will of course come up for consideration at any discussions about a Peace Treaty.

Is the policy of Her Majesty's Government still based upon the principle embodied in the Potsdam Agreement, namely, the demilitarisation of Germany? Is that still agreed?

We still regard the Potsdam Agreement as valid, but the hon. Member will be aware that, owing to the history of the past ten years, many of the propositions stated in the Potsdam Agreement are no longer valid. That, of course, is true of the demilitarisation of Germany.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what policies will be put forward by Her Majesty's Government in the proposed discussions about a German Peace Treaty for preventing a resurgence of Nazism in Germany.

If such discussions take place this will be one of the points for consideration, but the hon. Member will be aware that responsibility for denazification was handed over to the German authorities in 1949.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many people are very dissatisfied about the position on denazification? Is he aware that there are reports about the appointment of Nazi judges and prosecutors, the formation of an underground S.S. and the spread of anti-Semitic propaganda in various parts of Germany? Will Her Majesty's Government pay serious attention to these matters and ensure that they are reconsidered in any agreement about a German settlement?

I am, of course, aware of these reports, but I should say they are greatly exaggerated.

Is not it a fact that some of the alleged anti-Semitic propaganda has been discovered to be the work of Communists and is accepted as such by Jewish people themselves in Germany?

British Military Base, Dortmund


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of the unanimous protest passed by the Dortmund City Council against the projected establishment of a British military rocket base within the city limits, what steps he proposes to take to protect our troops against the possibility of further seious demonstrations from the local population.

None, Sir. The Federal Government have agreed to the stationing of the regiment at Dortmund.

Will the Minister tell the House what are the respective degrees of responsibility between Her Majesty's Government and the German Federal Government for siting this base? Is not it the case that Lord Ismay made a declaration only recently to the effect that no regiment would be placed in or near industrial towns? Is not it also the case that the German Federal Parliament, as recently as February, 1957, passed a unanimous resolution declaring that no such stations would be placed in or near heavily populated towns?

That is a matter for the Federal Government to decide and they have agreed to the placing of this regiment there.

Since our troops are now there in a difficult situation, is the hon. Gentleman taking steps to put the responsibility for the protection of our troops firmly upon the Federal German Government?

I think that we can take it that the Federal Government are perfectly aware of their responsibility and that our troops are not in an impossible position. There has been one incident, after which the burgomaster told the commanding officer of the regiment that no demonstrations were made against his troops.

Is it the case that Herr Strauss himself protested against this siting and, therefore, how can the right hon. Gentleman say that the Federal Government are entirely responsible?

Krupp Deconcentration Agreement


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for what reason Herr Alfred Krupp has been allowed another year in which to carry out the terms of the 1953 Deconcentration Agreement, under which he should have disposed of his steel and coal holdings by 31st January, 1958.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what protest he has made to the West German Government regarding its failure to ensure the implementation of Allied Law No. 27.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the conditions which will need to be fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Mixed Committee constituted under the terms of the Bonn Settlement Convention before extensions of time are granted to Herr Krupp for the disposal of his holdings.

As my hon. Friend explained in his reply to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on 4th February, an extension of time has not been granted to Herr Krupp. No protest has been made to the Federal Government since the question of extensions of time in which to fulfil remaining obligations to sell under Allied High Commission Law Number 27 is to be considered by a Mixed Committee, as provided for in the Bonn Settlement Convention. This Committee can grant an extension of time if the applicant establishes that, without it, the securities could not, with the exercise of reasonable efforts, be disposed of on reasonable terms and on a basis compatible with the German public interest and without a disruptive effect on the German capital market.

Will Her Majesty's Government oppose such an extension? Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is already a great deal of public indignation at the lenient way in which this large-scale exploiter of slave labour, who was indirectly responsible for the loss of many British lives, has already been treated?

The most important thing is that we should carry out the terms of the Bonn Convention, which lays down that in a case of this kind a Mixed Committee should be set up. I think that to give judgment before the Mixed Committee has made any report would be quite wrong.

Is not it a fact that the family of Krupp had a very bad record before the First World War and also before the Second World War in building up the Hitler movement? Is not it a fact that Krupp has already begun to assemble military aircraft and that he is now taking a part in a large combine for military aircraft production?

The right hon. Gentleman has made a certain number of statements. I do not think I am called upon to comment on them.

Will the Minister bear in mind that both in the House and in the country there is very deep feeling about this matter? I hope that the Government will express the feeling of the whole country about it.


33 and 42.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) to what extent, in preparation for exploring the Soviet point of view in Moscow, he has considered the official Soviet proposals for making West Berlin a free city and inviting United Nations agents to supervise on the spot the arrangements for maintaining the status of the free city and its communications with the West, as well as replacing Soviet by East German officials for the control of these communications;

(2) whether he will give an assurance that the Government will in no circumstances be a party to the use or threat of force to maintain access to West Berlin by direct action instead of by working on a de facto basis with East German officials replacing Soviet officials on the lines of communication.

My right hon. and learned Friend has naturaly studied the proposals put forward by the Soviet Union. The views of Her Majesty's Government on these matters are set out in their Note of 31st December to the Soviet Government.

Will the hon. Member give an assurance that no force will be used to attempt to maintain communications with West Berlin in preference to allowing East German officials, as Soviet agents, to stamp documents for people travelling to and fro?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what agreement he reached during his recent official discussions with Mr. Dulles regarding access to Berlin by the Western Powers on the transfer by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of its authority in Berlin to the East German authorities.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) on 16th February.

Is the Minister of State aware that on 9th February Mr. Dulles stated in Washington that agreement had been reached between the Powers on the points that

"… we do not accept the substitution of East Germans for the Soviet Union in its responsibilities towards Berlin. … We are resolved that our position in and access to West Berlin shall be preserved"?
Mr. Dulles added that general agreement had been reached as to the procedures to be employed in case of physical resistance to the attempt to maintain communications with Berlin without accepting the substitution of East Germans for Soviet officials. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Government will scrupulously observe the obligations of the United Nations Charter concerning no use of force to settle disputes?

The whole of the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question was, of course, a quotation, of which I am well aware.

Is it not the whole of our experience in dealing with Russia that the most dangerous manoeuvre one can make is a step backwards? Would the right hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. and learned Friend not to repeat the mistakes made by Sir Edward Grey and Mr. Neville Chamberlain, and to make quite clear to the Russians the risks they are running?

Austria (Neutrality)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what exchanges have taken place since the signature of the Austrian Peace Treaty between the signatory Powers and the Austrian Government with particular reference to the maintenance of Austrian neutrality.

In a constitutional law passed by the Austrian Parliament on 26th October, 1955, Austria declared of her own free will her perpetual neutrality. Her Majesty's Government formally recognised this neutrality, as did the other signatories of the Austrian State Treaty. There have been no further exchanges between Her Majesty's Government and the Austrian Government on this particular matter.

While accepting that, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he would agree that the principle as it has been applied to Austria and honoured by the guaranteeing Powers, even though the circumstances are not parallel, might effectively be applied in the case of Germany, if similar guarantees were given?

For reasons often stated in this House, there is a much greater difference here than the hon. Member has suggested and it is really a quite separate question.

Iceland (Fishing Limits And Territorial Waters)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement about negotiations with Iceland over the fishing limits and territorial waters.

I regret that I have nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 26th January to the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes). The Icelandic Government have unfortunately not yet been prepared to accept any of the proposals which have been made.

Now that it is quite clear Her Majesty's ships can give adequate protection to our trawlers fishing on their lawful occasions and that there can be no real answer to this problem until the Conference on the Law of the Sea is reconvened, is there any chance of getting an agreement with Iceland and a truce until the Conference has reassembled?

My right hon. Friend has made that very proposal, but unfortunately there has been no response from the Icelandic Government.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on recent diplomatic negotiations concerning the future of Cyprus.

Her Majesty's Government hope to be in a position to make a statement shortly and I would ask the hon. Member to be good enough to wait until then.

While we are all profoundly hopeful that a solution will be found on the basis of independence in Cyprus, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman appreciates that a solution on these lines could have been found four years ago if Her Majesty's Government had not always insisted on maintaining British sovereignty over the whole island?

I do not think that is a true statement of the case. Anyway, I assure the hon. Member that we wish to make a statement as early as possible and I think that if a final statement cannot be made, an interim statement will be made this week on the present state of the negotiations.

Will the Minister of State draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary to the very important letter in The Times by Sir William Hayter two days ago?

Can my right hon. Friend say anything further at this stage about the bases? Can he bear in mind, for example, that our use of them in the long term might be more securely guaranteed if we were in the position of a freeholder rather than that of a leaseholder?

I have already said that later this week a statement will be made on the present state of the negotiations.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent in the discharge of its obligations to protect Kuwait, it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to give assistance to the Ruler of Kuwait against internal subversion.

Her Majesty's Government intend to fulfil their obligations to protect Kuwait. I do not think a useful purpose would be served by trying to define the precise circumstances in which our protection might be required.

While recognising the delicacy of this matter, may I ask if the Minister will agree that, if we are to defend Kuwait from subversion, the internal situation there is of interest to us and as much information as possible should be given to the people about democratic consultation and about economic progress? Secondly, is not it desirable that the people of this country should be much more fully informed about the obligations we have undertaken to these States all up and down the Gulf?

I think this is a request for a rather longer statement about our relations with the sheikhdoms up and down the Gulf. Certainly I think it is a matter about which this House should be informed from time to time.

Is not the use of troops after the trouble has happened a very inefficient way of dealing with this sort of obligation, and is not it time that in these areas where our interest is vitally affected we should take a real interest in the police arrangements because, so far as these are concerned, the sheiks' interests and our own are the same?

I think that there is a great deal in what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said.

Outer Space (Rockets And Satellites)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the achievement of international co-operation on the experimental projection of rockets into outer space.

As my right hon. Friend said on the 11th February, Her Majesty's Government regard international co-operation in the peaceful uses of outer space, including research of the kind envisaged by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as a matter of the greatest importance. Their policy is to work for the achievement of such co-operation in every way they can.

Would not it be a useful first step in the direction of international co-operation if the Governments concerned were to agree to register with the United Nations their intention to project satellites and rockets into outer space?

I will certainly bear in mind the right hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion.

Foreign Governments (Supply Of Arms)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, following the sale of arms to the former Government of Cuba, he will now review the general principle followed by Government Departments which authorise the supply of arms to Governments with whom Her Majesty's Government is in normal diplomatic relations.

The principles followed by the Government Departments which authorise the supply of arms abroad were explained by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State, on 21st January. As a matter of general policy, my right hon. and learned Friend has reviewed them and his conclusion is that they are sound.

The policy of Her Majesty's Government is designed to preserve a balance between our interests in this matter. On the one hand we must guard against British equipment being used to the direct detriment of our security, or to our indirect detriment through the disturbance of international relations and the peace. On the other hand we must look to the export interests of the shipbuilding, engineering and aircraft industries in the United Kingdom; which affect their prosperity and the level of employment.

The House will not, I think, disagree with these principles. As regards their application in particular instances, my right hon. and learned Friend and his colleagues will continue to ensure that the responsible Departments give full weight to the political, strategic and economic factors in each case.

In view of what has happened in Cuba, would not it be a good thing if the Government banned the sale of all arms to any Government the armed forces of which are actually engaged in putting down an insurrectionary movement?

I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would find himself in conflict with his hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) who wishes to step up our sale of armaments to Indonesia.

Israel (Oil Pipeline)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what discussions have been held with the Government of Israel in regard to co-operating with that Government in constructing an oil pipeline from the Gulf of Aqaba large enough to permit the full-scale operation of the oil refinery at Haifa.

Would my hon. Friend agree that we ought to take every possible step to safeguard our oil supplies in the event of emergency, and would not the construction of such a pipeline not only achieve this but be a great advantage to this country, to Israel and to the whole of Western Europe?

I understand that the Government of Israel are interested in constructing this pipeline. They have not made any approach to us for Governmental help on it.

Bagdad Pact


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the principal decisions, both military and economic, reached by the countries adhering to the Bagdad Pact at their recent conference.

I have nothing to add to the reply given on the 4th February to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence who attended the last meeting.

May we take it that economic decisions were arrived at at the Conference, and may I ask whether Iraq was in any way affected, or must we assume that Iraq is now out of it in all except name?

That certainly is the position since 14th July. Iraq is still legally a member of the Pact but has been taking no part in its deliberations. As regards progress on the economic side, I would say that that certainly has been considerable and an offer by Her Majesty's Government to spend £850,000 on economic development in the Pact area was very well received at the Conference.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Defence last week, when asked about the economic results of this Conference, asked the House to await a reply by the Foreign Secretary, and is it really sufficient for the right hon. Gentleman to say now that he has nothing to add to a reply which asked us to await a reply?

I was not present at the time, but I understand that my right hon. Friend said that a communiqué would be issued which goes into some detail about the economic discussions which took place.

Would it not be useful if the Minister of State could persuade his office to let us have a White Paper with all the decisions taken at the recent Conference, the context of the Minister of Defence's speech and other explanations which would enable us to know what happened?

I will look into that; and I will certainly look into the right hon. Gentleman's request that we should make a detailed report about economic progress.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress to date in economic co-operation between the member States of the Bagdad Pact.

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a note—and I think this answers the supplementary question just asked by the right hon. Gentleman—giving some details of the progress of economic cooperation between participating countries of the Pact.

Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to the economic work of the Bagdad Pact, and are satisfied with the progress which has been made.

Will not the Minister agree that the purpose of this Pact was to establish friendly and constructive cooperation between countries which had previously been isolated and in some cases hostile; that, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the fullest publicity should be given to every step in the direction of establishing peace and co-operation between these countries, and that that publicity has been sadly lacking in the past?

I do not know whether publicity has been sadly lacking but I certainly agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

Had we not better contemplate changing the name of this Pact? Was not it originally designed to be a Pact for the Arabs primarily and most of the Arabs were against it, and now it is called the Bagdad Pact and Bagdad is against it?

I think that is a very inaccurate account of the history of this Pact which started off with Iran and Turkey as members of it, and neither of them is an Arab country.

Following is the note:


The Economic Committee of the Bagdad Pact was established at the end of 1955 with, as its terms of reference, the study of measures of economic co-operation designed to develop and strengthen the joint economic and financial resources of its members, and in particular to consider ways and means of sharing experience in the field of development. In the three years which have passed since the first meeting of the Committee, considerable progress has been made. The main items are summarised in the following paragraphs.


Contracts have been placed in the United Kingdom for equipment for high-frequency radio telecommunication links between London and Turkey and Iran. A request from Pakistan for equipment for improvement of links between London and Karachi is under consideration. An agreement has been concluded for the reduction of press telegraphic rates between regional members. It has been decided to appoint a team of specialists to consider the joint operation of civil airlines. Further progress has been made towards a unified system of road signs and traffic control regulations. Progress continues to be made in the various projects for improving road and rail links between regional members: in particular, the United Kingdom have undertaken to supply Pakistan with £200,000 for survey and construction in part of the coast road link in Iran, and £100,000 to Iran for their part of one of the road links with Turkey. The United States are also allocating substantial sums both for this and for the Turco-Iranian rail link, for which the United Kingdom are also providing £100,000 worth of equipment.

Scientific co-operation

The establishment of a Scientific Fund with an initial capital of £10,000 provided by the United Kingdom was welcomed.

Technical assistance and joint projects

A Multilateral Technical Co-operation Fund was established with an initial capital of $150,000, designed to increase technical cooperation amongst members. It was announced that the United Kingdom would make provision each financial year for a rate of expenditure of £850,000 for technical assistance and joint projects. In addition Her Majesty's Government have offered to provide equipment for a nuclear training centre to be set up in Tehran.


An Agricultural Training Centre is to be set up at Karaj in Iran. A veterinary convention was signed on 23rd January between regional members. Further assistance is to be given by the United Kingdom to the Red Sindhi Cattle Artificial Insemination Centre near Karachi. United States experts will assist Pact countries in the control of plant and livestock diseases.


Regional member governments are taking steps towards the standardisation of the agricultural projects and studying ways and means to expand trade between their countries. The next session of the Sub-Committee on trade will consider a series of studies in the Free Trade Area.

Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the estimated value of the abandoned British claim in respect of the Suez base seized by Egypt; and the amount Egypt claimed for war damage in the Suez campaign.

Until the signature of an agreement with the Government of the United Arab Republic my right hon. and learned Friend has no statement to make on these matters.

What has the right hon. Gentleman to hide? These figures are known to the Foreign Office. Why cannot they be given to the House? Are they something to be covered up and to be ashamed of? Furthermore, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that dispatch after dispatch from Cairo makes clear that until the agreement is signed British industrialists are losing trade to the value of millions of pounds to foreign markets —to the Czechs, Americans and Germans —and will he do something to speed up the signing and so give us a chance in world trade?

It is certainly our desire to see this agreement signed as soon as possible. I do not think that an answer to some of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary questions would help in getting that speedy signature.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received from the Egyptian Government to his proposal to establish a British Mission in Cairo.

The hon. Member will understand that I cannot inform the House about the provisions of the agreement now being negotiated with Egypt until it has been signed. But there is no difference between the two Governments on the nature of the representation which it will be necessary for Her Majesty's Government to have in Cairo in order to implement the terms of the agreement and to help and advise British subjects.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is or is not the case that after the agreement was initialled, the British Government sought to impose conditions, and can he say what those conditions were?

No, that is not the case. I appreciate the difficulties of the hon. Member in that if one reads newspaper accounts, they are conflicting, and, therefore, cannot all be true. I assure the House that we wish to see this agreement signed as soon as possible, and then full details can be disclosed to the House.

Cuba (Supply Of Arms)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the value of arms supplied to Cuba during 1958; and how much of the said amount is still owing.

In answer to the first part of the Question I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Answer given to the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) on 4th February.

With regard to the latter part of the Question, as far as I am aware nothing is owing for arms supplied to the Cuban Government during 1958.

After what has happened, does the right hon. Gentleman still think that we were justified in supplying arms, and does not he think that it is time the Foreign Office became a little more wide awake in finding out what is happening in countries before we make decisions of this kind which redound to our discredit?

That is quite a different question which has been dealt with on a number of occasions.

Spain (British Protestants)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the continued discrimination against Protestant British subjects in Spain; and if he will make a further protest to the Spanish Government.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the concern felt amongst Protestants in this country in relation to the continued discrimination exercised against British Protestants in Spain; and what answer he received from the Spanish Government to his previous protest on this matter.

As my right hon. and learned Friend said in reply to the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) on 25th June last year, we know of no discrimination against British subjects as such, but if my hon. Friends have any particular cases in mind, I will gladly look into them if they will give me details.

Will the Minister have further inquiries made if I send him a copy of an article which appeared in The Times about ten days ago?

Is my hon. Friend aware that the discrimination is against them as Protestants? Is he aware that this is coming very close to a denial of the freedom of worship? Will he remind the authorities concerned that we are living in the twentieth century and not the Middle Ages?

I quite understand my hon. Friend's point of view, but if the Protestants are Spaniards, then Her Majesty's Government have no locus standi. If they are British subjects we can take action.

Does my hon. Friend mean to say that Her Majesty's Government completely disinterest themselves in a condition of religious persecution in a European State with whom we have tolerably friendly relations? Is he aware that this is exceedingly retrograde? Is he aware that in the 1830s George Borrow sold the Bible all over Spain and wrote a book about it? Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a very retrograde step? Will he ask Her Majesty's Minister to the Holy See to make representations in this matter?

I will draw the last suggestion to my right hon. and learned Friend's attention.

If the Foreign Secretary does not read The Times, can he at least read Milton's sonnet on the persecution of the Vaudois?

Sudan (Gift Of Arms)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the value of the recent gift of 655 tons of arms made to the Sudan by Her Majesty's Government.

This was the first consignment of a gift, the total value of which is £587,000.

Does the hon. Member think that we are contributing to the peace of the Middle East by continuing to pour in arms? Is not it time that Her Majesty's Government learned the lesson from past events and began to pursue a policy which would bring pacification to the area rather than aggravate the situation?

These countries require arms. I think that it is preferable in the interests of peace that they are supplied from this country rather than others.

South Tyrol (Autonomy)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what recent reports he has received from the British Ambassadors in Rome and Vienna on the discussions between the Italian and Austrian Governments concerning the execution of the Paris Agreement relating to autonomy for South Tyrol annexed to the Italian Peace Treaty.

I understand that discussions are going on but I am not in a position to say what progress has been made.

Is the hon. Member aware that those discussions have been going on for more than a year without any result being reached and that the Austrian Chancellor has recently found it necessary to protest publicly against the violations of the Paris Agreement by the Italian Government? Is not it time that the British Government, which was a signatory of the Paris Treaty, took some steps to assist the German-speaking minority in the South Tyrol to achieve their rights?

This is a question for direct negotiation between the two Governments. These negotiations are going on and have been going on for a year. We have not been asked to intervene. We are not a party to the Agreement as such. I therefore think that intervention is not called for.

Geneva Conferences (Nuclear Tests And Surprise Attack)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress made at the Geneva Conferences on the discontinuance of nuclear tests and the provision of safeguards against surprise attacks, respectively.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement about the present deadlock in the negotiations in Geneva for the discontinuance of nuclear tests.

As regards the Nuclear Tests Conference, since the reply given by my hon. Friend on 26th January, a further article of a draft treaty has been tabled by the United States Delegation. This deals with detonations for peaceful purposes. The Soviet delegate has submitted a long list of those issues which, in his view, would require unanimous agreement between the original parties to the treaty in order to reach decisions on them in the Control Commission. A technical working group has been studying the staffing of control posts. It would be wrong to describe the negotiations as being deadlocked.

The Conference on Measures against Surprise Attack adjourned on 18th December. The marked difference between the technical approach of the Western experts and the political proposals advanced by the Soviet bloc delegations prevented it from achieving the results which we had hoped for. We trust, however, that if its terms of reference can be clarified in a way acceptable to both sides it will reconvene before long and produce an agreed report.

Could the Minister of State throw a little more light on what has taken place at the Conference on the discontinuance of nuclear tests? Are we to understand that the real objection on the part of the Soviet Government arises from their fear of being outvoted on the Control Commission by the votes of Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government? Could not this be avoided by inviting at least two neutrals to sit on the Control Commission in order to avoid that possibility?

In my original reply I specifically confined myself to information which had been given in communiqués issued by the Conference. I am not at liberty to discuss precise proposals inside the Conference.

We welcome the Minister's statement that the Conference is not in deadlock. Could he clear up the point about the staffing of control posts? Is it a fact, as has been freely reported, that the Soviet Government have agreed to have four to five foreign experts in each control post? If so, should we not do well, as The Times advises, to accept that proposal?

I think perhaps that I can clarify it to this extent. The Soviet proposal does not mean the introduction into the control post of five operating staff. They still wish that all the operating staff in the control post in the Soviet Union should be Soviet nationals. They have now raised the figure of what we would more rightly term, I think, observers to five in that control post. We do not believe that the presence of those five observers, coupled with the complete staffing of the control post by Soviet nationals, would give a sufficient safeguard.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what authority it was proposed by Her Majesty's Government at Geneva that neutral inspectors of nuclear tests should be responsible.

If the hon. Member is referring to nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes, and if it is agreed that such explosions may take place, it will no doubt be agreed also that machinery should be established under the International Control Organ to satisfy all concerned that their purposes are exclusively peaceful.

Is the Minister of State aware that I was not allowing for the possibility of the inspection of so-called peaceful test explosions at all? In addidition, may we take it from that Answer, and the Minister's previous Answer, that it is now the policy of the Western Powers to make provision for further test explosions for so-called peaceful purposes?

If the hon. Gentleman will read his Question again, he will see that it refers to neutral inspectors of nuclear tests. From that, it was not very clear what he was getting at, because the whole object of the agreement is to stop nuclear tests. There would, therefore, not be neutral inspectors of nuclear tests, except of nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes. In my previous reply I have stated that the United States have put forward a proposal for conducting nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes under certain specified conditions. We have to see whether we can get agreement on that. But I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the speech made by Mr. Gromyko about Christmas time, in which he said that he would consider that proposal.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the difficulties of wording Questions on this subject is that his predecessor told us that he would not answer any more Questions about it? It is, therefore, rather difficult to get precise wording. Will the Minister now answer my supplementary question: is it the policy of the Western Powers now to make provision for the detonation of nuclear devices for so-called peaceful purposes?

Yes, that is the proposal that has been put forward and it would, of course, be accompanied by provisions to ensure that they were only for peaceful purposes, and were conducted under such conditions—that is, underground—that no contamination of the atmosphere could take place.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the temporary lack of progress at the Geneva Conference on the suspension of nuclear weapon tests, he will now make a statement as to what extent Her Majesty's Government's representatives have put forward proposals for the enforcement of any agreement to suspend tests.

The hon. Member must realise that one cannot enforce a treaty of the kind we hope to negotiate.

In view of the great interest there is in this matter, and of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman does find it possible to give details when it suits the Foreign Office—as, for example, the statement given to Press correspondents in January—may we ask for a full statement of the present position at Geneva, so that the country can take an intelligent interest in these matters?

I have stated on many occasions that, obviously, the actual negotiations should be confidential, but if, as often happens at this type of conference, various stories leak out—or, sometimes, are deliberately leaked out—it must be within the rights of other delegations to put what they think is a correct explanation before the general public. To go further than that would, I think, be dangerous.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now lay a White Paper before the House containing the texts of the proposals made by the Governments which are now participating in the negotiations for the discontinuance of nuclear tests.

No, Sir. I fully understand the natural wish to know exactly what is going on at Geneva, but I do not think that a publication such as the right hon. Gentleman envisages would help us to obtain the agreement we all want on stopping nuclear tests under proper international control. The considerations my right hon. and learned Friend put before the House on 4th December were generally accepted at the time, and I think they are still valid.

Has not the Minister himself said this afternoon that there has been a long series of statements and leakages by members of different delegations, some of them highly tendentious? Would it not now be right to follow the precedent set in the middle of 1957 for the proceedings of the Disarmament Sub-Committee, and to let hon. Members know the texts, so that they can realise the nature of the differences now being discussed?

No, because I am still very optimistic that the differences between us will be overcome. I believe that if we can continue the private negotiations they will be overcome

Somaliland (Future)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what consultations have taken place with the Italian Government in respect of future association after 1960 between Italian Somaliland and the present British Colonial Territories; and what representations the Italian Government has made to him in respect of their interests being affected by a possible union of all areas occupied by Somalis.

We have for some time had regular and informal exchanges of view with the Italian Government, as with other Governments with interests in the Horn of Africa, about developments in that area. As part of this continuing exchange, these Governments were told, well in advance, what it was intended to say in the statement about the future of the Somaliland Protectorate made by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in Hargeisa on 9th February. Her Majesty's Government took account of comments made by the Italian Government in formulating that statement.

May we take it from that reply that the interests of the indigenous peoples in these areas will be protected, and that that will be the guiding principle and criterion in any future arrangements for bringing these territories together?


Shipment Of Arms


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the official complaints of the North Vietnam authorities that there were 15 shipments of war materials into South Vietnam from the United States of America in 1955, 82 in 1956 and 109 in 1957; and what steps the Control Commission have taken to investigate these charges.

Under Article 17 of the Cease-Fire Agreement, it is the responsibility of the International Commission in Vietnam to control the shipment of arms and war material into Vietnam. In its eight Interim Reports, the Commission has set out the action taken on complaints of violations of this Article.

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Control Commission will be given every facility to visit South Vietnam to see whether or not this Agreement has been broken?

We cannot give any facilities to the Control Commission. That must be done by the two countries concerned.

But, surely, the Foreign Secretary is responsible, as Joint Chairman of the Geneva Conference, for the functioning of the Control Commission?

Phu Loi (Prison)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what visits have been made by the Control Commission in Vietnam to the prison at Phu Loi.

As far as Her Majesty's Government are aware, the North Vietnamese complaint on this subject is still under consideration by the International Commission, which has not reported on it. No information is available as to whether its members have visited the camp at Phu Loi.

From the information I have from the Press, it seems that the North Vietnam Government have suggested that over a thousand people have died in this camp. The South Vietnam Government have denied this—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is now giving information, instead of asking for it. Could he ask a question?

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House how it is possible to decide between the two, if the Control Commission is not allowed to visit the camp?

I have every reason to believe that the figures given by the hon. Gentleman are entirely inaccurate, but if he likes to send me the details I will be glad to look at them.

Postal Facilities


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that a recent report of the International Control Commission in Vietnam announced that it had been possible to arrange for the exchange of postcards between South and North Vietnam on certain festivals; and what steps the Commission are now taking to secure the reintroduction of normal postal facilities between the two halves of the country.

My right hon. and learned Friend has not received, nor been informed, of any such report.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that, apart from occasional letters, there are no postal facilities between the North and the South? Is not it the function of the Foreign Secretary, as Chairman of the Geneva Conference, to see if something can be done to introduce a more civilised relationship between North and South Vietnam so that the people can write to each other?

The latest information we have is that, over a recent holiday period, 500,000 postcards went from North to South, and 350,000 from South to North

Anglo-Argentine Tramways (Debentures And Shares)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the recent successful financial outcome to the visit of the President of the Argentine to the United States of America and the growing settlement of conditions in the Argentine; and if, in the light of this, he will now renew his request to the Argentine Government to settle out of court or otherwise compensate the British holders of Anglo-Argentine Tramways debentures and shares.

Her Majesty's Government have made clear to the Argentine Government the importance which they attach to an early settlement of the company's case, and will continue to give the company all the assistance that they reasonably can.

Does my hon. Friend realise that the summer holidays are just over in the Argentine and the Law Courts in Buenos Aires have gone back; and, since the Argentine Embassy here informed me over seven months ago that within a few days the results of the case would be declared, is not it now high time that some pressure was brought to bear by our Government for the decision to be announced by the courts—or is it the case that the directors of the company do not wish our Government to intervene at the moment?

As I have said, the issue is before the courts now, and, therefore, there is limited action which Her Majesty's Government could take. They have not been asked to take any further action by the company.

Antarctica (International Co-Operation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the outcome of the proposal by President Eisenhower for a twelve-Power conference to ensure international co-operation in Antarctica for peaceful purposes; and whether he will make a statement.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his reply of the 5th of February, consultations about this proposal are continuing and a working party representing the twelve countries concerned has been meeting in Washington for this purpose.

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving the Special Committee on Antarctic Research, which was set up last year at the end of the International Geophysical Year for international coordination, some functional job in this matter which might help?

Would not the most intelligent solution to this problem be to give up sovereignty in Antarctica and to transfer ownership to the United Nations, so that that body could lease out development rights, either to nations or corporations? Have the British Government contemplated this proposition?

That is not precisely the policy of Her Majesty's Government. As I think has been stated, the principles on which this working party should proceed are freedom of, and continued co-operation in, scientific research in the Antarctic, and the non-militarisation of the area.




asked the Minister of Labour what steps have been taken further to encourage both sides of industry to get together on the question of juvenile employment; how far local apprenticeship committees are able to deal with the problem; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service
(Mr. Richard Wood)

Employers and workers are both represented on Youth Employment Committees which advise on the administration of the Youth Employment Service in their area. Local apprenticeship committees which have been appointed by some industries are concerned with training rather than employment. The placing in employment of boys and girls who left school at Christmas is proceeding satisfactorily though it is taking longer than in recent years.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary comment on the suggestion which was made last night by Mr. Jack Jones, of the Transport and General Workers' Union, to the effect that it would be useful if there were group apprenticeship schemes, to which the smaller employers might contribute some of the cost? Can he also comment on the the fact that Mr. Jones said that it was an entirely erroneous belief that the number of apprentices was limited by the trade unions in many industries, and that in the engineering industry it was the employers who were deciding the number of apprentices?

I am entirely in agreement about group apprenticeship schemes, and I have done what I can to say how necessary it is that they should grow. So far as the second part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question is concerned, I think there are various limiting factors to the number of apprentices. I am quite certain that it is to the benefit of us all that these limiting factors should be eliminated.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he is aware that there is now increasing anxiety in the country about the number of school leavers who are unable to find jobs, and about the slow way in which even those who do find jobs are going into industry, and also about the fact that the "bulge" within three years will increase the number leaving school by about one-third? Can he say what steps are being taken by the Government to meet such a situation?

I think that the figures of unemployed school-leavers have to be kept in proportion. In the hon. Lady's city, I find that out of nearly 1,000 who left school last Christmas, there are only 11 boys and 21 girls still without jobs. I certainly have the matter very much in mind, but I think it ought to be kept in proportion.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Coventry is one of the areas in which there is one of the smallest problems in this respect, and that it was rather from the general point of view of other parts of the country that I was putting my question to him?

Careers Festivals


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a five-day Careers Festival was held recently in Coventry, aimed at giving senior children in Coventry schools an opportunity of learning about a wide range of occupations; and if he will make a statement concerning the steps which he is prepared to take to support and encourage such festivals.

Yes, Sir. Functions of this kind are held in many areas, with the support of the Youth Employment Ser- vice, and I do not think that any special steps are required.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary think that this was very valuable, since not only were parents invited, but young entrants into industry also came and gave their impressions? Further, is he aware that groups of careers were taken together, and that sessions were devoted to groups of careers or those linked together? Does not he think that that is particularly valuable?

I think it is very valuable indeed, but there are various methods of doing this. It may be that some Youth Employment Committees may employ one and others another, but I think that the Careers Festival was probably a very valuable thing indeed.

Young People


asked the Minister of Labour how many teenagers are signing on at the employment exchanges at the nearest convenient date; and what steps he is taking to find employment for them.

On 12th January, 45,748 young persons—aged 15 to 17 years— were registered as unemployed. The Youth Employment Service is doing its best to place them in employment as quickly as possible.

I view of these figures, surely the Ministry should take some action to find employment for these job-hunting teenagers? May I ask the Minister to what extent he is now considering the use of the existing employment training centres, to which some of these young people could be directed for training?

I will certainly consider any idea which the hon. Gentleman likes to put to me. I think it is important to place against the figure which I gave him in my Answer—45,000—the fact that there are very nearly 45,000 unfilled vacancies for boys and girls, rather more for girls than boys. Therefore, the situation regarding the employment prospects of girls is not very bad.

Dock Regulations, 1934


asked the Minister of Labour what progress has been made in revising the Dock Regulations, 1934.

As the hon. Member knows, this problem raises a number of practical difficulties. A memorandum on the subject has been sent to the interested organisations, which have been asked for their comments. Comments have been received from all but one organisation, and my officers have had discussions with a number of organisations. Further discussions will be necessary, and my right hon. Friend will then be in a position to decide what action is appropriate.

Does the Minister recall that his predecessor two years ago said that the Department was getting a move on in revising these Regulations, particularly in view of the strong criticism of them in the Court of Appeal? As there is some evidence that three or four men a year are being drowned because the Regulations are not right, could not something be done to speed up the matter?

When we have this further comment we are awaiting from one of the interested parties, and when we have had discussions with another interested party who wishes to discuss certain matters with us, we will make progress as soon as we possibly can.

Turkish Ministers (Aircraft Accident)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement.

I feel that the House would wish me to say a few words to express our deep regret at the accident which took place last night involving the Turkish Prime Minister and his party. There was serious loss of life, the dead including one Minister, Mr. Somuncuoglu, Minister of Broadcasting and Television, a former Minister, Mr. Zeytinoglu, and the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary, Mr. Ersu. Happily, Mr. Menderes survived without serious injury although he must clearly have been subjected to severe shock.

It is particularly sad that this tragedy should have fallen upon the Turkish Prime Minister and his companions while on a mission of peace and reconciliation. As a mark of respect for the dead, no formal meetings of the Cyprus Conference are being held today.

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation will be following this with a statement about the accident. Meanwhile, I feel sure that the whole House will wish to express its sympathy with the Turkish Prime Minister, Government and people.

I should like to say, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, how much we desire to associate ourselves with what the Prime Minister has said about this tragic episode.

I should like to associate myself with what my right hon. Friend has said about this tragic accident. The circumstances, so far as they are known, are as follows.

The aircraft involved was a Viscount aircraft of Turkish National Airlines and the crash took place at Jordan's Wood, about 3 miles west of Gatwick, shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon, when the aircraft was approaching to land at the airport.

The aircraft was making use of the standard Instrument Landing System at the time and at a distance of about 4½ miles from the airport the pilot had reported that he was located on the I.L.S. At this point, the aircraft might have been expected to be flying at above 1,000 feet.

The weather at the airport at the time of the accident was quite good, with a horizontal visibility of about I nautical mile and one-eighth cloud at 800 feet. After the accident seven other aircraft made normal approaches and landings at the airport using I.L.S.

The Chief Inspector of Accidents is investigating the cause of the accident and has had a team on the site since yesterday evening.

I am sure, as my right hon. Friend has said, that the House will wish to join in expressing its deep sympathy with all those who have been injured or bereaved by this tragic accident, and its appreciation of the services of all of those who participated in the work of rescuing and helping those who survived.

Does the Minister agree or disagree with statements in the Press that, at the time of the accident, the aircraft was, in fact, on G.C.A.?

I understand that the aircraft was not under ground control, but that, of course, will no doubt be brought out during the inquiry.

The Minister said that the Chief Inspector of Accidents is making an investigation. Are we to take it that there will be a formal inquiry following that investigation?

I understand that the Turkish Government have sent a message to say that they wish that there should be a full inquiry and that they should be associated with it. I am sure, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman will understand that I must consult them before I take a final decision; but, of course, the investigation on the site is going on.

May I say that I was on the site this morning and ask my right hon. Friend to confirm what I understand was the case, namely, that the local services, notably the Crawley Fire Brigade, appeared on the scene with commendable alacrity? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that that alacrity may well have saved this disaster from being much worse?

Yes, I think that that is certainly so. As I said, I feel that we should be very grateful to all those who went to the scene and did very notable work.

Ballot For Notices Of Motions

Employment (Older Men And Women)

I beg to give notice that on Friday, 6th March, I shall call attention to the Reports of the National Advisory Committee on the Employment of Older Men and Women, and move a Resolution.

Road Programme

I beg to give notice that on Friday, 6th March, I shall call attention to the current road programme and the need to relieve traffic congestion by the provision of urban motorways, and move a Resolution.

Industrial Situation, Lancashire

I beg to give notice that on Friday, 6th March, I shall call attention to the industrial situation in Lancashire, and move a Resolution.

Bill Presented

Agricultural Improvement Grants

Bill to empower the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State to make provision by regulations as to the payment of improvement grants under the Hill Farming and Livestock Rearing Acts, 1946 to 1956, and as to the payment of grants and contributions under certain other enactments; and for purposes connected therewith, presented by Mr. Kimball; supported by Sir Anthony Hurd, Mr. Thomas Williams, Sir James Duncan, Mr. Champion, Sir Arthur Baldwin, Mr. Peart, Mr. Michael Noble, and Major Sir Frank Markham; read the first time; to be read a second time upon Friday 27th February and to be printed. [Bill 66.]

Business Of The House

Proceedings on the House Purchase and Housing Bill exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).— [ Mr. Redmayne.]

Orders Of The Day

House Purchase And Housing Bill

Considered in Committee [Progress, 4th February].

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Clause 11—(Conditions To Be Observed With Respect To Dwellings)

3.37 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 6, line 38, to leave out subsection (1).

Subsection (1) repeals a provision in the 1958 (Financial Provisions) Act, 1958, that the premises in respect of which an improvement grant is made should remain available for letting unless occupied by the owner or someone, to put it very generally, related to the owner, for a period of twenty years. The effect of subsection (1) is to reduce that period to ten years. The point is quite a short one, and, in moving this Amendment very briefly, as I propose to do, I have in mind the promise given to the right hon. Gentleman from this side that we would do our best to complete the proceedings at a reasonable hour this evening.

We see no reason why this period should be reduced. We attach great importance to these provisions since they make the house, in effect, either owner-occupied or available for letting. We do not think it right that, within a comparatively short period such as ten years for this purpose, the house should be sold and the benefit of the improvements, in respect of which public money has been used to contribute half the cost, should pass to the buyer, the seller taking advantage of public money in receiving a higher price. That position has always been recognised in relation to improvement grants. I have been looking at the debates on the 1949 Act by which they were originated at the instance of my own party, and I cannot find that any objection was taken to the principle.

It occurs to me that we shall be told by the Government, "We are reducing by the Bill the minimum period of leasehold interest which the applicant for an improvement grant must have. It used to be thirty years. The twenty years was related to that. It is now being reduced to fifteen years and, therefore, there ought to be a similar reduction of the period during which the provisions apply." We cannot accept that, because there is no reason why an arrangement of this sort should not go on and attach to the house, although I doubt whether provision will be made for it so attaching. The substance of the matter is that the house should be kept owner-occupied or available for letting during a much longer period than ten years and that an advantage, obtained partly out of public funds, should not accrue on the sale within any period shorter than twenty years.

This is the last moment for restricting the supply of houses available for letting. If these restrictions on improved houses are taken off, we are obviously making the availability of houses for letting a bit more restricted. We are making it possible to take the house away from the market for let houses and to transfer it to the market for sold houses. Without going into detail of the reasons, there is no doubt that in the big towns at present the shortage of houses to let is acute, and that people are being driven by other legislation, for which the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors in office are responsible, to buying houses when they would not have otherwise bought them because they cannot find houses to let. Incidentally, they are being driven to making some very harsh bargains because of that difficulty.

Therefore, this is the very last moment to make a change which will, to some extent, reduce the pool of houses available for letting. That will be so, in particular, in relation to large towns. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the proposal to shorten the period, and, of course, if he cares to say that twenty years is perhaps too long but that he admits ten years is too short and suggests another period, we shall be interested in what he says. Our own view, however, is that twenty years never was too long, was never thought to be too long and, in present circumstances, certainly is not too long.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government
(Mr. R. Bevins)

Like the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), I, too, should like to speak to this Amendment with brevity. He is perfectly right in his exposition of the existing law and also in his sense of anticipation of the Government's views. The existing position is that the conditions which are set out in the Fourth Schedule to the 1958 Act have to be observed for twenty years after the improvements have been completed.

Clause 11 (1) reduces the period to ten years. That has been done quite deliberately by my right hon. Friend because, in his view and that of the Government, a twenty-year period for the conditions to run must deter people from applying for a grant. It is true that years ago the period was even longer than twenty years, but it has been found by experience that as this period has been reduced the desire to use and the popularity of improvement grants has correspondingly increased.

As the hon. and learned Member and, indeed, the whole Committee know, all of the changes which have been written into the system of improvement grants have the same objective in view, namely, to encourage people to apply for improvement grants. It is chiefly for that reason that to leave the period at twenty years would work in the opposite direction and would discourage people from applying for grants. My right hon. Friend cannot accept the Amendment.

3.45 p.m.

There is an incidental objection to the Amendment, and it is this. To qualify for a standard grant a dwelling need not now have an estimated life of more than fifteen years, and, therefore, to make the conditions of grant apply for twenty years would make the whole business rather ludicrous. That is a purely incidental objection. The main objection is that to leave the period at twenty years is likely to discourage applications.

I thought that the object of the Bill and of the improvement grants was to provide accommodation for people who could not afford a house with decent amenities. That can be the only justification for spending public money on private houses. There must, however, be some social advantage in doing this. The Parliamentary Secretary's explanation of what is happening blows that theory sky high, because he says that the effect of reducing the period for which conditions are to be in force is immediately to increase the number of people who are prepared to apply for grants. In other words, people who apply for grants, according to the hon. Gentleman, are not interested in providing a house for their own family or providing it at a reasonable rent for a tenant, but are interested in getting quick profits at public expense.

The hon. Gentleman says that provided the period for which these quite reasonable conditions have to be observed is reduced, provided it is whittled down, people will think it worth while waiting 10 years in order to sell it at a profit, whereas they will be put off if they have to wait twenty years. Surely the logical implication of that is that people are merely using public money as an excuse to get quick profits. If that is true—and the Parliamentary Secretary has said it, I am only taking his word for it—it seems to me to be a most deplorable result of the Act and it indicates the dangers of the policy of merely trying to subsidise the property market instead of providing homes for the people.

The reply of the Parliamentary Secretary is not convincing. He says that if the term of years during which the restrictions applied were reduced, then the result would be that a great number of people would apply for improvement grants. If that argument is taken further, one could very well see that if there were no term of years and no conditions imposed there would be an avalanche of applications for grants. We must be mindful of the amount of public money which is involved in these grants, which are very generous. A private owner can obtain from the Exchequer and from the local rate fund an amount of up to, I think, £400 for the improvement of one dwelling-house.

When the Minister agrees to hand over £400 to the owner of a private dwelling, the money coming partly from the Exchequer and partly from the local rate fund, he must necessarily impose certain obligations upon the recipient of that public money. We cannot hand out public money willy-nilly without some social tag being attached to it. Nobody here would defend the proposition that we should hand out public money, and in considerable amounts—as much as £400 for one house—without making certain requirements obligatory upon the recipient of the money. To reduce from twenty to ten years the period during which the conditions apply is going a bit far.

I could have accepted the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary as being more reasonable had he said that the Minister would consider changing the ten years to fifteen years to fit in with another part of the Bill, but not even the Parliamentary Secretary can sustain in logic his argument that we should make it easier for people to obtain public money for their own purposes. He must go further and agree that certain obligations must be imposed upon the recipient of public money. It would be more in keeping with other parts of the Bill had the Minister agreed that between ten and fifteen years would have been more appropriate and if he had suggested amending the Bill to make the period, not ten years, but fifteen years.

I agree entirely with what has been said by my two hon. Friends. The point about a fifteen years' title is a purely incidental one. There is no reason whatever, if it is thought necessary, why some express provision should not be put into the Bill, but I am inclined to think that this arrangement

Division No. 44.]


[3.55 p.m.

Agnew, Sir PeterCampbell, Sir DavidGlyn, Col. Richard H.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Cary, Sir RobertGoodhart, Philip
Alport, C. J. M.Channon, H. P. G.Gough, C. F. H.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir WilliamChichester-Clark, R.Gower, H. R.
Arbuthnot, JohnConant, Ma, Sir RogerGrant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)
Armstrong, C. W.Cooper-Key, E. M.Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)
Ashton, H.Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Green, A.
Astor, Hon. J. J.Corfield, F. V.Grimond, J.
Baldwin, Sir ArcherCrowder, Sir John (Finchley)Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Balniel, LordCunningham, KnoxHarris, Reader (Heston)
Barber, AnthonyDance, J. C. G.Hay, John
Barlow, Sir JohnDavidson, ViscountessHill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Barter, Johnde Ferrantl, BasilHill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Batsford, BrianDigby, Simon WingfieldHinchingbrooke, Viscount
Baxter, Sir BeverleyDodds-Parker, A. D.Holland-Martin, C. J.
Beamish, Col. TuftonDonaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Holt, A. F.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Drayson, G. B.Hope, Lord John
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)Hornby, R. P.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Duncan, Sir JamesHornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Biggs-Davison, J. A.Duthie, W. S.Horobin, Sir Ian
Bingham, R. M.Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynHoward, John (Test)
Boyle, Sir EdwardErroll, F. J.Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Farey-Jones, F. W.Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Fell, A.Hurd, Sir Anthony
Brooke, Rt. Hon. HenryFisher, NigelHutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh,S.)
Brooman-White, R. C.Fletcher-Cooke, C.Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)Freeth, DenzilHylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Garner-Evans, E. H.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Burden, F. F. A.George, J. C. (Pollok)Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Gibson-Watt, D.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)

would run with the House anyhow. Be that as it may, however, that is not the real reason.

The reason why the Government are proposing the subsection is not in the interests of owner occupiers, who will not object, and not in the interests of tenants, but is to increase the number of persons seeking grants having as their object, or one of their objects, to resell the house afterwards with the benefit of the public money which has contributed to the improvements.

I did not know that the party opposite was prepared to admit so openly that that was one of its purposes in the Bill. I had supposed that it was for the benefit of owner occupiers or tenants and that it was intended to provide for small houses and the rest of the story, which appeals to us all because of the housing position throughout the country and particularly in the big towns. Now, for the Government to say that they adhere to this proposal because their friends will otherwise be unable to make profit out of reselling with the benefit of improvements financed by the Government, is an admission of the real motive which I had hardly expected. I advise my hon. Friends to divide on the Amendment.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 195, Noes 165.

Joseph, Sir KeithMaydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.Stevens, Geoffrey
Kaberry, D.Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Kerby, Capt. H. B.Moore, Sir ThomasStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Kerr, Sir HamiltonMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesStorey, S.
Kershaw, J. A.Nabarro, G. D. N.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Kimball, M.Neave, AireyStudholme, Sir Henry
Kirk, P. M.Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)Summers, Sir Spencer
Lambton, ViscountNicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Langford-Holt, J. A.Noble, Michael (Argyll)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Leavey, J. A.Nugent, G. R. H.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Leburn, W. G.O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Teeling, W.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.Temple, John M.
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)Page, R. G.Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)Peel, W. J.Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Linstead, Sir H. N.Peyton, J. W. W.Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Pickthorn, Sir KennethVane, W. M. F.
Longden, GilbertPilkington, Capt. R. A.Vickers, Miss Joan
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Pitman, I. J.Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughPott, H. P.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
McAdden, S. J.Powell, J. EnochWakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Macdonald, Sir PeterPrice, David (Eastleigh)Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
McLaughlin, Mrs. P.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Wall, Patrick
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)Redmayne, M.Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
McLean, Neil (Inverness)Renton, D. L. M.Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Ridsdale, J. E.Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Maddan, MartinRopner, Col. Sir LeonardWebster, David
Maitland, Cdr. J.F.W. (Horncastle)Russell, R. S.Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Markham, Major Sir FrankSharples, R. C.Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Wood, Hon. R.
Marshall, DouglasSmyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)Woollam, John Victor
Mathew, R.Spearman, Sir Alexander
Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.Speir, R. M.


Mawby, R. L.Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)Mr. Bryan and Mr.J. E. B. Hill


Abse, LeoGreenwood, AnthonyMayhew, C. P.
Ainsley, J. W.Grey, C. F.Mellish, R. J.
Albu, A. H.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Messer, Sir F.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Griffiths, William (Exchange)Mitchison, G. R.
Awbery, S. S.Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Moody, A. S.
Bacon, Miss AliceHamilton, W. W.Mort, D. L.
Balfour, A.Hannan, W.Mulley, F. W.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)Hastings, S.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Benson, Sir GeorgeHerbison, Miss M.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Beswick, FrankHolmes, HoraceOliver, G. H.
Blackburn, F.Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)Oram, A. E.
Blenkinsop, A.Hoy, J. H.Owen, W. J.
Blyton, W. R.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Paget, R. T.
Boardman, H.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)Hunter, A. E.Parker, J.
Bowles, F. G.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Parkin, B. T.
Boyd, T. G.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Paton, John
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethJanner, B.Pearson, A.
Brockway, A. F.Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs,S.)Peart, T. F.
Bronghton, Dr. A. D. D.Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)Pentland, N.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Johnson, James (Rugby)Popplewell, E.
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Prentice, R. E.
Burton, Miss F. E.Jones, Rt. Hon.A.Creech (Wakefield)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Jones, David (The Hartlepools)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Champion, A. J.Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Probert, A. R.
Chapman, W. D.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Randall, H. E.
Chetwynd, G. R.Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Rankin, John
Cliffe, MichaelKey, Rt. Hon. C. W.Reeves, J.
Coldrick, W.King, Dr. H. M.Reid, William
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)Lawson, G. M.Reynolds, G. W.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Lee, Frederick (Newton)Rhodes, H.
Cullen, Mrs. A.Lewis, ArthurRobens, Rt. Hon. A.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Lindgren, G. S.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Logan, D. G.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
de Freitas, GeoffreyMabon, Dr. J, DicksonRobinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Delargy, H. J.McAlister, Mrs. MaryRoss, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.MacColl, J. E.Royle, C.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)McInnes, J.Short, E. W.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)McKay, John (Wallsend)Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Fernyhough, E.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Skeffington, A. M.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Mahon, SimonSorensen, R. W.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Sparks, J. A.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)Mann, Mrs. JeanSpriggs, Leslie
Gibson, C. W.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Steele, T.
Gooch, E. G.Mason, RoyStewart, Michael (Fulhaes)

Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)Viant, S. P.Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.Warbey, W. N.Winterbottom, Richard
Swingler, S. T.Watkins, T. E.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Sylvester, G. O.Wells, Percy (Faversham)Woof, R. E.
Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)Wells, William (Walsall, N.)Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Taylor, John (West Lothian)White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Thornton, E.Willey, FrederickZilliacus, K.
Tomney, F.Williams, Rt. Hon. T, (Don Valley)
Usborne, H. C.Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)


Mr. Deer and Mr. Wilkins.