House Of Commons
Thursday, 4th June, 1959
The House met at half-past Two o'clock.
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Humber Bridge Bill
Middlesex County Council Bill Lords
As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.
Oral Answers To Questions
Trade And Commerce
asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to be able to state which sites he finds suitable for the establishment of industry at Douglas, Lanarkshire.
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary sent this information to my hon. Friend on 27th May.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I draw his attention to my answer, which was an invitation to him to complete the information by saying what was the square footage of factory space which each of these sites could accommodate, and also asking if he would list these sites in the OFFICIAL REPORT so that they would be widely known?
To the best of my knowledge, one can take about 15,000 square feet per acre. The development plan has still to be approved by the county council and the Scottish Office. I hope this approval will not be long delayed and then we shall be able to meet my hon. Friend's request.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now use powers available under the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, to attract industry to Douglas, Lanarkshire.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer given him last Tuesday by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that had I been successful in catching Mr. Speaker's eye last night in the Scottish debate I would have drawn the attention of the Board of Trade to the fact that the Scottish Council has now put out its views on the employment problem to this extent——
Order. It seems to me that the hon. Member is trying to deliver a speech which he did not have an opportunity of giving us last night.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I complete my supplementary question and ask my right hon. Friend whether he has yet been acquainted with the Scottish Council's view on this matter, which is that the problems of depopulation as well as unemployment should be considered in giving D.A.T.A.C. assistance to designated areas?
That is a very big question which is outside the scope of this answer, but I will be quite ready to talk to my hon. Friend about this if he wishes.
May I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply?
Consumer Protection Committee (Terms Of Reference)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to announce the terms of reference drawn up for the committee appointed to consider the whole question of consumer protection.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now ready to announce the name of the Chairman of the Departmental Committee on Consumer Protection and the terms of reference of the Committee; and whether he will make a statement.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is yet able to state the terms of reference and the names of the members of the Committee to consider the protection of consumers.
I am glad to announce that Mr. J. T. Molony, Q.C., has accepted my invitation to serve as Chairman of the Committee, the terms of reference of which will be:
The membership of the Committee will be announced as soon as possible.To review the working of the existing legislation relating to merchandise marks and certification trade marks, and to consider and report what changes if any in the law and what other measures, if any, are desirable for the further protection of the consuming public.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of how glad we are on this side of the House that after a very long time we have got somewhere? With reference to the last part of his Answer, can he give any indication of when the names of the Committee will be available, since if there is a General Election in the autumn the Committee will hardly have time to start work?
Within about a fortnight or something like that.
Is not the appointment of this Committee a further example of delaying tactics on the Government's part, especially as adequate information is already available from the two organisations which have been engaged in consumer protection for some time? The Government have been playing about with the problem for years and still do not intend to do anything about it.
The hon. Member is wrong if he imagines that the position of the law is simple. On examination we find that it is very complicated indeed and we need the advice of an expert committee.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether there will be any women on this Committee?
Yes, without any doubt at all.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, on first hearing, these terms of reference appear rather narrow? Can he inform the House whether he has had full consultation with the trade organisations about the terms of reference of this Committee?
I talked to appropriate Departments and I do not think the terms of reference are very narrow. For instance, they state
"… what measures, if any, are desirable for the further protection of the consuming public."
Advertisements (Hire Purchase) Act, 1957
asked the President of the Board of Trade how many of the sixty cases looked into by his Department for possible infringement of the Advertisements (Hire Purchase) Act, 1957, revealed breaches of the law.
The investigation disclosed a small number of cases of possible breach of the Advertisements (Hire Purchase) Act, 1957. Most of these appear to have been due to ignorance: in the others I am considering what action, if any, is appropriate.
Is not the President of the Board of Trade able to give the actual number, which is what is asked for in the Question? Further, is he aware that, rightly or wrongly, among the public generally the impression has got around that hire-purchase dealers and advertising agents have only to plead ignorance of the Act or misunderstanding to be sure that the Board of Trade will take no further action? Does the last part of his Answer mean that that is quite incorrect?
I am sorry that I did not give the hon. Lady the number. It is nine. As regards the second part of her supplementary question, no, it does not mean that. The fact is that, in a number of cases, people are completely ignorant and we have to put them right.
Are we to understand that the President of the Board of Trade is saying that in this case ignorance of the law is a defence?
No, not a defence; but if somebody has done something just through sheer ignorance, and it is a very small thing, it is really better to tell him to behave better in future than to prosecute him.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the confusion existing among the shopping public as to the provisions of the Advertisements (Hire Purchase) Act, 1957, with respect to the information to be included in advertisements as to the total cash price, the deposit payable and the amount and number of instalments; and what action he proposes to take to dispel this confusion.
The evidence I have does not suggest that the shopping public is confused; a number of traders appear to be uncertain about the meaning of the Act, and we do our best to clear up their doubts, but the final interpretation of the Act must rest with the courts.
Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that, more than anybody, the Parliamentary Secretary is unaware of the provisions of the Act? Does he know that, on 14th May last, the Parliamentary Secretary, replying to me, said that this Act did not require the cash price or the amount of each instalment to be stated? As I have a copy of the Act here and it seems to state the contrary, will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Parliamentary Secretary to clear up the confusion and withdraw that statement?
I cannot accept what the hon. Lady says. The knowledge of the Act displayed by my hon. Friend astonishes me every day—[Interruption.]—because it is very much greater than my own. I will look into what the hon. Lady says.
Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he is looking forward to many years of co-operation with the Parliamentary Secretary?
I have already had eight, and I am looking forward to another eight.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In justice to the Editor of HANSARD, would it be in order for me to ask, through you, that the Minister should note that the statements are as I gave them, as they appear in column 1414 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, and the Parliamentary Secretary did make a very great mis-statement, accusing me, in turn, of having made it myself?
It is quite in order for the hon. Lady to ask me that question, but I am afraid that it is impossible for me to give her an answer.
Peterlee (Industrial Development)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will direct the attention of firms engaged in industry to the facilities available in the new town of Peterlee.
Yes, Sir, I should welcome industrial development in Peterlee, but I must point out that there are areas where unemployment is higher and more persistent.
But is not the President of the Board of Trade aware that I have made representations to him during the past three or four years and very little progress has resulted? Does he not appreciate that we are becoming very worried about the situation because there is a good deal of unemployment in the area and there is a possibility of more? If he does not do anything about it, I shall have to put down a Motion of censure on him.
I realise what the right hon. Gentleman says and, particularly, I realise that there are women unemployed in the area. We are doing our best to get some new factory to go there.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will cause an investigation to be made into the practice of second-hand car dealers of falsifying car performances by tampering with mileage meters and reducing the recorded mileage so as to encourage sales at more favourable prices, with a view to his Department taking steps to protect purchasers.
Anyone who considers that he has been defrauded in a purchase as a result of false pretences on the part of the seller should either consult a lawyer or report the matter to the police.
Wool Cloth (United States Tariff Quota)
asked the President of the Board of Trade what fresh representations have been made to the United States Government about shipments of wool cloth caught by the closing of the United States tariff quota on 20th May, 1959.
The United States Government are fully aware of our concern about the operation of this quota and we lose no opportunity of reminding them of the present unsatisfactory position.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer, but will he undertake to impress upon the American authorities that many firms dealing particularly in fashion goods in the West Riding and, indeed, in Scotland, meet serious losses from the sudden curtailment of the low tariff, and that the announcement of the tariff made about 23rd April was followed within a month by complete closure on it? This is upsetting the trade enormously. Also, will he impress upon them that their arrangements are operating in favour of Italy and Japan and, therefore, discriminating against us?
I have made almost precisely those representations, and I will do so again.
asked the President of the Board of Trade what reciprocal concessions he has obtained from the United States Government in return for removing restrictions on dollar imports.
The lifting of the discriminatory restrictions on a range of dollar imports follows from the improvement in our balance of payments and has not been a matter of negotiation.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British manufacturers and traders do not always have a fair deal in the American market? Was not it his obvious duty to find out what concessions he could obtain from the United States Government in return for throwing open the British market for more dollar goods? What is he doing as President of the Board of Trade if he is not helping British traders and manufacturers? It may be necessary to report him to the Institute of Directors if he goes on like this.
I think that the hon. Gentleman may not be fully aware that we are importing all these things from Europe, for instance, from Sweden and Germany, and we were keeping the dollar quotas only when dollars were short. When dollars are not short, we have no right to keep on the quota.
Why does the President of the Board of Trade persist in making these unilateral concessions without getting anything in return? Did not the matter of the American wool tariff, where America has an extremely poor case, give an obvious opportunity to set one concession against another?
It is not a concession. It is something which we are under an obligation to do when our balance of payments permits it.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give an assurance that the effects on the Commonwealth canning industries of further liberalisation of imports of dollar canned foods will be fully considered before any Government action is taken.
Yes, Sir. Commonwealth Governments whose interests are affected are consulted. The increase recently granted in the quota for dollar canned fruits is equal to 2½ per cent, of our imports in 1958.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the value of Commonwealth trade in canned fruits is about £28 million a year and that this is in danger of being jeopardised if further imports are allowed to come from the United States?
I hardly think that so small an opening of the quota could endanger such a large import from the Commonwealth and, as my right hon. Friend will know, the Commonwealth Conference at Montreal pressed us to make this liberalisation.
Flame Resistant Fabrics (Laundering)
asked the President of the Board of Trade, since the Fabrics (Misdescription) Regulations prescribe new standards of non-flammability to which textile fabrics must conform in an effort to provide greater safety from fire, if he is aware that the flame resistant qualities can be destroyed in laundering if the garments are not marked and the launderer has no guidance about the method of washing; and what action is to be taken to remedy this.
Fabrics described as giving any degree of protection from fire must pass severe washing tests. Certain bleaches containing hypochlorites may damage the flame resistance finishes and the British Standards Institution stipulates that a warning not to bleach should be attached to the goods.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Co-operative Laundry Trade Association has had tremendous experience in this matter and is very worried in view of the fact that over 300 people were burned to death last year as a result of their clothing catching fire, and it feels that there is something missing in the relevant regulations? Will he look at the matter again?
I am worried, too, and I hope that discussions with the responsible processors to ask them to attach this warning will be successful.
Firm (Trading Activities)
asked the President of the Board of Trade what inquiries he has made into the trading activities of the firm, particulars of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Fife, West; and whether he will make a statement.
I shall write to the hon. Member as soon as I can.
May we have an assurance that the President of the Board of Trade will take vigorous steps to protect quite humble people from the ravages of the scoundrels who have been running this company, the Master Vending Machine Co. Ltd.? Is he aware that the letter I sent to him two days ago had come from a constituent of mine, an ex-Service man who had put £800, his entire life savings, into these machines, and the managing director has now gone to Italy? Will he give an assurance that the Board of Trade will co-operate with the police in bringing these people to justice?
Yes, of course I will look into it very carefully, but I have had the letter for only two days. If the hon. Gentleman will give me just a few more days, I will write to him.
South Pacific Commission (Meeting)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decisions were reached by the South Pacific Commission at its recent meeting regarding social and economic developments in Colonial Territories in the Pacific.
The decisions reached by the 18th Session of the South Pacific Commission in October, 1958, are recorded in its published proceedings. A copy of these has been placed in the Library of the House. The 19th Session of the Commission has just been held in Rabaul. A full report of its decisions has not yet been received.
In view of the fact that this Commission represents the co-operation of Australasian, European, and American Governments with seventeen Colonial Territories in the development of economic, medical and social services in that area, could not it be accepted as a precedent for other areas overriding the old imperial proclivities, as, for example, in the Caribbean Islands?
The hon. Gentleman's suggestion is interesting, but I do not think that I can answer it off the cuff.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the present annual rate of rehousing of refugees in Hong Kong.
No separate records are kept for refugees. Thirty-seven thousand people were rehoused in Resettlement Estates during the year ended 31st March, 1959.
Is it not a fact that that represents a high percentage of the total estimated population of Hong Kong?
Yes, it does.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proportions of the present population of Hong Kong are represented by immigrants or refugees who have entered the Colony since 1948; and what is the estimated total of new arrivals in the last twelve months.
Approximately 1 million or 35 per cent. It is not possible to give a reliable estimate of new arrivals.
Do not these two Answers, taken together, reflect extremely well on the administration of this small territory? Would it not be as well to give further publicity to these facts, and can it not be clearly seen that we are giving a real lead in the resettlement of immigrants and refugees at the beginning of the World Refugee Year?
I hope that my hon. Friend's Questions and supplementary questions will help in that process.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to make a further statement about landholding in the highlands of Kenya.
In pursuance of the policy which I described to the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stone-house) on 30th April, the Kenya Government last week announced their intention to alter by legislation bath the existing system of tenure and the machinery for controlling transactions in land. The latter will involve creating Divisional and Regional Control Boards, establishing a Central Land Advisory Board representative of all points of view in respect of all land in the Colony. The Kenya Government also expect to make arrangements so that leases between races in all areas will be possible. Further details of the proposals will be announced later.
Can my hon. Friend confirm that it is the intention of the Government eventually to open up the highlands to suitably qualified farmers of all races at the same time as opening up the African reserves, as recommended by the Royal Commission?
Yes, that is the general intention, but there is no innovation here. There is already a control board to scrutinise all transactions in land. Also, the highlands are part of the scheduled areas under agricultural legislation and special arrangements are needed to ensure that the standards of good farming are maintained.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this development is very welcome, despite the fact that it has been so long delayed? Can he say whether arrangements will be made for loans to enable co-operative farms to be developed on the unused land in the highlands?
That raises a rather different issue. If the hon. Gentleman would like to table a Question on it, I will certainly try to answer it.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many of the 776 existing growers and the 116 new growers who have been given licences this year to produce pyrethrum in Kenya are Africans; how many are Asians; and how many are Europeans.
The 776 existing growers and 116 new growers who have been licensed for the year beginning 1st July are individual Europeans. But licences have also been approved for twelve registered co-operative societies, four societies in the process of registration, and four districts in which societies have yet to be formed. The total number of African growers covered by these licences will be about 4,000.
Would not the Under-Secretary of State agree that this is a very suitable crop for new African farmers on improved farms? What steps are the Government taking to encourage the import of pyrethrum into this country, where it is getting a growing reputation, by long-term agreements, for instance, or any other way, so as to encourage the economy?
I agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I think that the second part is a matter for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many of the eleven men who died following the use of physical violence in the Hola camp were suffering from scurvy; and to what extent this deficiency disease contributed to their death.
The magistrate, who heard evidence from a number of medical witnesses, found that it was impossible to say affirmatively that the deceased, or any of them, were suffering from scurvy, although the evidence suggested that some or all of them may have been suffering from ascorbic acid deficiency at the time of death.
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that ascorbic acid deficiency means scurvy? As these men were suffering from scurvy, is it not true to say that they would be unable to walk, let alone to work? Because they could not work, they were beaten to make them work, and died as a result of their beating. May we know what is being done to ensure that there is no ascorbic acid deficiency in future among these prisoners?
I do not think that the hon. Member's analysis of the facts is strictly accurate. Before the incident, arrangements were made for anti-ascorbic acid pills to be made available in the camp. I think that there was some doubt whether sufficient care was taken to make sure that they were consumed. The detainees were taking their meals in their own huts because they did not like collective feeding. Since collective feeding was introduced to ensure that there was no ascorbic acid deficiency, there has been a hunger strike in protest against this move, but we are taking steps to make sure that there should be no further deficiency of ascorbic acid in the diet of the detainees. Precautions against it were taken before the incident, but whether they were sufficiently fulfilled is an open question.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a full statement on the decision of the Attorney-General of Kenya not to institute criminal proceedings in connection with the deaths of eleven Africans at Hola.
The reasons given to the Governor by the Attorney-General of Kenya for his decision not to institute a criminal proceedings in this case were the subject of a Question in the Kenya Legislative Council on 2nd June.I am circulating the Attorney-General's reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Did not the Attorney-General also say that he was satisfied that the majority of the force used in this incident was illegally used? Would the hon. Gentleman care to say why, in the cases where there were no identification problems—that is, concerning the camp commandant and his deputy—disciplinary charges were thought to be more appropriate than criminal proceedings?
Perhaps the hon. Member should first see the statement of the Attorney-General's reasons:
Following is the reply:
"Reply given by Mr. D. W. Conroy (Acting Attorney-General) in the Kenya Legislative Council on 2nd June concerning the reasons of the Attorney-General of Kenya for his decision not to prosecute.
Following the conclusion of the inquest proceedings, the Attorney-General, with his advisers, gave careful consideration to the question whether or not the available evidence warranted the preferment of criminal charges against any person or persons.
2. All the witnesses from whom statements were obtained by the Criminal Investigation Department in its full and thorough investigation were made available at the inquest. In the absence of identifying witnesses, identification parades could not be held. No further or other evidence is available to sustain any criminal proceedings.
3. The Attorney-General was satisfied that the evidence available established that the deaths of the eleven deceased detainees resulted from the use of force and that the greater Dart of the force used was illegal force. He concluded, however, that the evidence was insufficient to warrant the framing of any criminal charges in respect of the causing of death or injury to the detainees, or in respect of the orders given regarding the use of force in the operation or in respect of a combination or conspiracy to use illegal force.
4. Much of the evidence was patently unreliable, but even if the question of credibility were disregarded and the evidence were taken at its face value, it was inadequate, particularly in regard to identification, to sustain criminal charges.
5. The detainees had refused to co-operate in the C.I.D investigation or to identify warder staff or even to identify the bodies of the dead detainees (which had, therefore, to be identified by fingerprints). Some were eventually persuaded to testify at the inquest but their evidence was dismissed by the Magistrate as valueless.
6. In any criminal proceedings the onus of proof lies on the Crown, the standard of proof required being that beyond a reasonable doubt. That onus has to be discharged in respect of both the commission of the alleged offence and the identity of the alleged offender. In any such proceedings in this case the evidence of the detainees would be worthless, and the evidence of any members of the Prison staff who were present when violence was used and who were not accused would at least be suspect and possibly, in some cases, of the nature of accomplice evidence which would require to be adequately corroborated in a sense connecting the accused with the commission of the offence.
7. It is impossible, as the Magistrate found, to distinguish, on the evidence, which part of the force used was illegal force and which part was justified, or to separate the one from the other in terms of time, injuries caused, and identities of persons involved, whether in the application or in the receipt of force.
8. Such limited independent evidence as was available was inconclusive, and did not afford the means of identification of individuals with the culpable use of force, even in respect of the minor offence of common assault or abetment of common assault. Only two independent witnesses testified to having seen, from a distance of 100 yards or more, assaults on detainees which, as described, appear to have been unlawful, but, understandably, neither was able to identify the assailants. One of these two witnesses referred to the presence of the Commandant, but was unable to say what he was doing.
9. Section 18 of the Prisons Ordinance authorises the use of weapons, where necessary, by prison officers against detainees escaping or attempting to escape, engaged in a combined outbreak or using violence to any prison officer or other person. Prison Standing Orders forbid the striking by prison officers of persons in custody save to the extent necessary in defence or to overcome violence or resistance to escort. The Emergency (Detained Persons) Regulations, 1954, prescribe the circumstances and manner in which corporal punishment may be applied to detainees for offences against discipline.
10. The evidence at the inquest does not establish that in the planning of the operation the use of illegal force was contemplated. The document described at the inquest as the "Cowan plan" was a report submitted to the Commissioner of Prisons by Senior Superintendent Cowan after his visit to Hola for the planning of the operation; no copy of that document was ever in the Possession of those who carried out the operation.
11. The evidence also established that orders given to the warder staff regarding the use of force, which were given in Swahili, in no way established any intention to authorise the use of illegal force or any contemplation that illegal force would be used. They would not, therefore, sustain a prosecution in that respect.
12. While the public interest clearly requires that any person or persons who can be proved to have been criminally implicated in such a shocking and tragic accurrence should be brought to justice, it requires no less that no person should, in this or any other case, he placed in jeopardy on a criminal charge unless there is available sufficient evidence which, if believed, would establish his guilt. In this case the Attorney-General decided that the available evidence was insufficient for this purpose, and he accordingly decided that no prosecutions should be instituted."
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the names of the members of the tribunal appointed to consider the disciplinary charges against the commandant and deputy-commandant of Hola Camp, Kenya.
Mr. D. W. Conroy, the Solicitor-General (Chairman), Mr. R. E. Luyt and Mr. M. N. Evans.
What is the normal occupation of these gentlemen? May we take it from the hon. Gentleman's reply that the grounds given by these two officers did not succeed in exculpating them from the charge?
Mr. Luyt is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Labour and Lands. Mr. Evans is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.
Is the Under-Secretary aware that the composition of this tribunal gives no cause for faith that there will be a full investigation?
The tribunal is set up under the normal procedure of the colonial regulations. It has been shown by many other such tribunals in the past that such officers are perfectly capable of exercising independent judgment in a matter of this kind and I resent the implication that these officers are incapable of establishing the facts.
While these gentlemen may be perfectly honourable and capable of carrying out an inquiry into normal disciplinary charges against a civil servant who may be accused of an offence under the Civil Service code, does the Under-Secretary not realise that the question here is whether these officers are the proper people to carry out an inquiry into circumstances in which eleven men lost their lives as the result of illegal violence? Does he not think that a tribunal composed of persons who are independent of the Government would be more likely to reach a proper conclusion?
This inquiry is directed to investigating disciplinary charges and for that purpose a tribunal set up under the normal procedure of the colonial regulations seems to us to be appropriate.
Does the Under-Secretary or the Attorney-General really believe that, when the disciplinary code was framed, it was ever believed that it should be used to deal with a case of such magnitude and gravity?
It is dealing with a case of disciplinary charges.
In view of the gravity of this case, does the hon. Gentleman think that the status of these officers is such as to justify their appointment? Has he considered whether it might have been wise, and, indeed, an advantage, in this case to appoint competent Africans or Asians to serve on the tribunal?
I think that the right hon. Gentleman misunderstands the position. The purpose of the tribunal is to see whether there was a breach of discipline. All sorts of other issues are, I know, at stake, and I understand that we are to have a debate upon them, but upon the particular matter which has to be straightened out—whether there was a breach of discipline—a disciplinary tribunal appointed under Colonial Office regulations would appear to be the appropriate body. I should not have thought that persons recruited from outside would have been as capable judges of that specific matter.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what investigations he is making into the circumstances in which Government servants and Ministers in Kenya authorised the Cowan Plan proposing that physical force should be used to compel unwilling prisoners in Hola Prison Camp to work.
The hon. Member's Question does not correctly paraphrase the relevant statement from the so-called Cowan Plan which was that should the party of detainees refuse to go to the work site
These words have, of course, to be read in their context and in the light of the knowledge of those concerned of the Prison Ordinance. This makes it clear that prisoners cannot be forced to do work by beating. My right hon. Friend is in communication with the Governor of Kenya on all aspects of this matter and I am not in a position to make any further statement at this juncture."they would be manhandled to the site of work and forced to carry out the task".
Is not the Under-Secretary aware that the coroner indicated that the beatings were illegal and that the plan, as a result of which the beatings were carried out, was unclear? I am asking what investigations the hon. Gentleman is making into this set of circumstances in which Ministers of the Crown gave their assent to a plan which was both unclear and in its execution unlawful.
The hon. Gentleman will remember that the written version of the Cowan Plan was not received at Hola Camp before the incident took place. Therefore, it is a little difficult to take a view on the written terms of a plan which was not in the possession of Sullivan and Coutts at the time that the incident took place.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am not pursuing either the commandant of the camp or his deputy, who in some ways are being made scapegoats for a plan unclear and in some respects unlawful, and that the responsibility here rests upon the Ministers and civil servants who initially gave their consent to a plan which could be so construed? What inquiries is the hon. Gentleman making into that?
I have said that the Colonial Secretary is in communication with the Governor of Kenya on all aspects of this matter, but I have no statement to make on that at this time.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what further decisions have been made arising from the coroner's report on the deaths from violence of eleven Africans in Hola Detention Camp, Kenya.
Disciplinary charges have been preferred against Sullivan as follows:
Does not the coroner's report show that the real responsibility is with this Government and with the Kenya Government? Did not the coroner's report, first, condemn the Kenya Government's statement that these men had died following the drinking of contaminated water? Did it not criticise the Cowan Plan? In view of the repeated refusal of the Secretary of State to make an inquiry into the conditions in this camp—which might have prevented this tragedy—would it not be seemly for him to resign his office?
The hon. Member raises large issues which can be best considered in the debate, but I would remind him that my right hon. Friend has already announced that an inquiry, consisting of Mr. R. D. Fairn and Sir George Beresford-Stooke, would be held into the future administration of the remaining detention camps. I am glad to announce that since the House went into Recess, Canon Bewes has also agreed to join the inquiry as a third member.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give details of the detention camps now in use in Kenya, and the number of detainees in each establishment at the latest convenient date.
The main emergency detention camps in which Mau Mau detainees are held are Aguthi, Athi River, Manyani and Hola, but four other temporary camps also remain.I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table showing the position in all the camps at 31st March, which is the latest date for which I have separate figures. There has been a number of releases since then.
Is the Under-Secretary aware that we continue to receive allegations about past and present ill-treatment of these detainees? In view of the considerable improvement in the political situation in Kenya, has not the time come for these men to be released or to have charges brought against them?
We have been very carefully investigating a number of allegations which were made in the debate of 24th February, and I can say that almost without exception they have been proved unfounded.
Can the Under-Secretary give us an explicit assurance that the Cowan Plan is not likely to be and is not in operation in any of these other detention camps?
I have no information to suggest that it is in operation in any other camps.
Does the Under-Secretary know? Is it in operation in any of these camps, or not? If he does not know, will he please say so and make sure that it is withdrawn straight away?
I have told the hon. Gentleman the position as I know it. He has not put down a Question and has not given me any notice of this whatever.
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that eleven men were killed in the Hola Camp and that, judging by the coroner's report, that appears to have been connected with the implementation of the Cowan Plan? Is he really standing at that Box and saying that after all these weeks he does not know whether the Kenya Government have withdrawn the Cowan Plan or whether it is in operation in the other camps?
To begin with, I think that the right hon. Gentleman misunderstands the position. Whether the Cowan Plan in its application or misapplication was responsible for the deaths is one of the matters which will no doubt be discussed when the debate comes forward. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) sprang a question of which he had not given me notice. Speaking as of now, I have no reason to believe that the Cowan Plan is being implemented in any other camp.
Following is the information:
No. of Detainees at 31st March
NOTE: An additional 61 detainees were in transit or under medical treatment, or for other reasons temporarily held elsewhere.
Rights Of Minorities
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to safeguard the rights of the minorities in Cyprus on the transfer of power, in particular, the right to vote, the right of representation, and safeguards against discrimination.
I have nothing to add at present to the answer my right hon. Friend gave my hon. Friend on 28th April.
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a feeling in the island that the rights of the British community in Cyprus are being somewhat neglected in the series of discussions? Can he assure the House that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will keep this matter under close attention?
I can certainly give that assurance. We have had representations from various sections of the British community in Cyprus to which we are paying the closest regard.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about the murder in Cyprus of Zacharias Karafotias.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent police protection was given to Zacharias Karafotias, lately murdered in Cyprus, and his relatives.
Since the murder of his sister in July, 1956, Zacharias Loucaides had been afforded police protection. He was brutally murdered on 11th May on his return to his village after being released at his own wish from protective custody.
Does my hon. Friend agree that this type of incident gives the idea that it does not pay to be a friend of and loyal to this country? Will my hon. Friend do everything he can to ensure that the people in Cyprus who have remained loyal to us are protected from outrages of this kind?
Yes. Two arrests have been made, and two men have been charged with murder.
Was not it almost inevitable that this man should be the object of attempted E.O.K.A. vengeance? Should not he have been either given satisfactory police protection or removed to a place of safety?
It was at his own wish, and in the belief that he would be safe, that he returned to his village.
Cypriots (Protective Custody)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Cypriots are still in protective custody; and what action is taken to ensure their safety when they are released.
It would not be in the interests of public security in Cyprus or of those who have been given protection to give this information.
While fully understanding that, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he will ensure that measures to prevent any recurrence of the scandalous murder that was referred to in previous Questions are taken when other detainees are released and that they are given the opportunity, if they so desire, of emigrating to another country, even to Britain?
Yes, Sir. All steps will be taken to give protection to those who would be in danger.
Christos Hji Efthymiou
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Christos Hji Efthymiou, who was wounded by security forces in a E.O.K.A. hiding-place in the Kyrenia hills, has been flown for treatment in England at the expense of the Cyprus Government; what is his policy in such cases; and if he will make a statement.
Hji Efthymiou was not wounded by the security forces. The rest of the Question does not, therefore, arise.
Mrs Brooks (Medical Expenses)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why he has refused to pay the medical expenses of Mrs. Brooks, of Kantara, whose husband was murdered by a pressure mine in the Kyrenia hills, or any compensation, but sent their daughter a bill of £34 for his funeral, including a wreath; what is the Cyprus Government's policy in such cases; and whether he will make a statement.
The Cyprus Government accept no general liablity to pay compensation but where financial hardship can be shown ex gratia payments may be authorised towards such items as medical treatment, funeral expenses, and passages.In the case of Mrs. Brooks, there was no disclosure of financial hardship but the Cyprus Government has not asked her for payment of medical expenses. These amounted to £243.
Northern Rhodesia And Nyasaland
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many officers in the former Overseas Service in the Northern Rhodesian and Nyasaland Protectorates have transferred to Federal employment; how many administrative officers are responsible both territorially and federally; and what is his policy regarding the Civil Service.
Fifty-seven officers from Northern Rhodesia and thirty-nine from Nyasaland have transferred to the Federal Public Service. Under Article 41 of the Federal Constitution any territorial administrative officer can be made a competent authority under certain Federal Acts by declaration of the Governor-General with the consent of the Governor, and this has been done in certain cases.My right hon. Friend's policy regarding members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland is the same as for members of that service in other territories and is laid down in the White Paper, Col. 306.
In view of the fact that both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia are Protectorates, is it the intention of the Government to transfer to the control of the Federal Government in Salisbury all the administrative and technical officers who are now overseas servants? Is that the broad policy which is now to be pursued?
This is a permissive matter. It can be done where it is administratively convenient.
The point to which it is so essential to get an answer is whether it is now to become the policy of the Colonial Office that all administrative officers in the employ of the Protectorate Governments will now transfer their allegiance to the Government in Salisbury?
As I have said, it is a matter of administrative convenience, not of policy.
If there is a large transfer of these officers, even at their own request, how can the Government safeguard the right of people in the Protectorate that they shall not be transferred against their will if the levers of power are put into other people's hands?
We are satisfied that this will be done only where it can be done conveniently from the point of view of administration. That covers the point raised by the hon. Gentleman.
It is not a question of administration. Is it not the case that if the Federal Government control the Civil Service, the Civil Service will look to the Federal Government for guidance, and if the Colonial Office controls the Civil Service, the Civil Service will look to the Colonial Office for guidance? It is nothing to do with administration. It is a question of adhering to the promise that these Protectorates would remain under our control until they desired to go elsewhere.
We have taken this point into account in guiding and ordering our decisions in this matter. The hon. Gentleman should remember that we were not born yesterday.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has considered the resolution passed by the Synod of the Methodist Church District !which includes North Staffordshire, a copy of which has been submitted to him, concerning the paramount importance of consulting true representatives of the African people about the future of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; and if he will make a statement.
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the resolution of which he sent a copy to my right hon. Friend on 25th May while he was on a visit to West Africa.The Constitution of the Federation itself lays down in Article 99 that the five delegations to the review conference shall be chosen by the respective Governments.
Will the Under-Secretary study this matter? Is he aware that this is an expression of religious opinion in this country which is comparable to that which has been expressed in Scotland, namely, that British policy should be directed in Central Africa to establishing the majority rule of the people, irrespective of colour, and that nothing should be done by any Government here except with the open consent of the true representatives of the African people?
The hon. Member can be assured that the most careful thought will be given to proper representations of all points of view made to the two different Governments concerned.
African Hospital, Lusaka
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action has been taken with regard to the conditions at the African Hospital in Lusaka.
Health is a Federal responsibility and it would not be for me to provide the information requested.
Has the hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to a series of articles in the Lusaka newspapers about two months ago indicating that the hospital in Lusaka was a sore on the thriving flesh of Lusaka and also giving details of the ill-treatment of children, 20 per cent. of whom die because of the appalling conditions in this hospital? What is the Under-Secretary doing about it? Does it not indicate that health responsibility should be transferred from the Federal administration to being a territorial responsibility?
If the hon. Member would care to put down specific Questions to the appropriate Department, I have no doubt that they will be dealt with.
On a point of order. May I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker, concerning which is the appropriate Department to reply to these points?
I understood that the hospital at Lusaka was a Federal responsibility and not one for us.
Further to that point of order. Are we to understand that no Questions can be put to the Secretary of State for the Colonies about, for example, an African hospital in a Protectorate?
I should have to consider that. I understood the Under-Secretary to say that health was a Federal responsibility. I should have to examine further whether the hospital actually came under the general description of health administration. At the moment, I do not know.
When considering the matter, Mr. Speaker, would you also consider how far we can discharge our responsibilities for these people, who are in our protection, if we are not allowed to ask Questions about their health?
I am not at all concerned with the matter of policy which is involved. It is our practice in this House that if we delegate powers to other authorities, we let them carry on with them.
Further to that point of order. When you are considering the matter, Mr. Speaker, will you consider whether the conditions of Africans and their administration are, in fact, the responsibility of the territorial Government and this House? It is difficult to separate the conditions of these people when they are in their territories and when they are in hospital.
That may be an argument against its being entirely a Federal responsibility, but I do not know.
In this and in similar cases, Mr. Speaker, will you consider whether there is a responsibility on the Secretary of State for the Colonies for which he ought to answer Questions in this House?
If I had a specific question. I could answer it. I should not like to go into a roving inquiry as to the exact boundaries of responsibility. If the right hon. Gentleman considers the matter further and will ask me a specific question, I will do my best to unravel it.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Mr. Chivunga, President of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers Trade Union in Northern Rhodesia, has been arrested and restricted to Barotseland.
The Governor has informed me that the reasons for making a restriction order against Mr. J. Chivunga are that he was
"participating in and immediately intending to participate in publishing and uttering statements with intent to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different classes of the populaion of the territory."
But is the Under-Secretary aware that when this round-up started in Northern Rhodesia the Government said that its purpose was to restrict members of the Zambia African National Congress, because they were trying to incite Africans to boycott elections? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Chivunga has never been a member of the Zambia African National Congress? Does this mean that the round-up in Northern Rhodesia is so wide that men are being arrested and restricted merely because they are trade union leaders?
I think that the hon. Lady is not entirely fully informed on this matter. The Government had reason to believe that Mr. Chivunga was connected with the Zambia African National Congress.
African National Congress
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent he authorised the announcement by the Government of Nyasaland that the leaders of the African National Congress will be detained for a long period and inviting Africans to provide information to the authorites of any unarrested members of the Congress.
The Governor was not obliged to consult my right hon. Friend and did not do so. His action has his support because the security situation required that Congress sympathisers should be disabused of the expectation that Congress leaders would not only soon be released from detention but would be able to resume the use of the methods by which they sought to attain their ends—methods which led to the situation which made it necessary for the Governor to declare a state of emergency. The continuation of detention was clearly stated to be related to the need to prevent a further threat to the peace of the Territory.
Does that Answer mean that these leaders of the African National Congress are to be kept in prison or detained for long periods without any public trial? Does not the Answer mean that it is an invitation to Africans in Nyasaland to become informers against fellow-Africans and create a dangerous situation of bitterness? Does the hon. Gentleman think that this action should have been taken before the Devlin Commission has issued its report an the situation in Nyasaland?
Yes, Sir. As I have said, my right hon. Friend fully supports the Governor's action.
Is not this a really extraordinary situation? The Government appoint a Commission to investigate the truth or falsity of charges accusing certain leaders of the African National Congress of incitement to murder. These men have been detained. Before the Commission has reported, the Governor of Nyasaland announces that, whatever the findings of the Devlin Commission, these men are to be kept in detention. Is the hon. Gentleman really defending this point of view? If he is, what is the purpose of sending out the Devlin Commission at all?
The right hon. Gentleman characteristically misrepresents——
—misrepresents what the Governor said. The Governor made it clear that continuation of detention was clearly related to the need to prevent a further threat to the peace of the Territory.
Does it mean that, whatever the report of the Devlin Commission may be, these people will be kept in detention, or will the decision of the Government be dependent upon that report?
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would await the report of the Commission.
I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to evade this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."] He has announced the Government's support for the announcement that these people in any case will be kept in detention. On what grounds is he putting this forward, and how does he relate this to the appointment of the Devlin Commission?
The right hon. Gentleman is making a purely hypothetical assumption about what the report of the Devlin Commission is likely to be.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the vast majority of Africans in Nyasaland are only too glad that the Congress leaders are being detained, because a great deal of the bloodshed which has taken place in the past has been because of intimidation by these Congress leaders, and that the more they are kept in detention, the better it will be for the majority?
It is indeed true that a number of Africans have expressed relief at the fact that the intimidating leaders are in detention.
asked the Prime Minister to what extent individual variations in the sensitivity of human bone marrow will account for the increase of aplastic anaemia, leukaemia and bone cancer in those subjected to ingestion of radioactive strontium at levels considered safe for the population as a whole.
There is no direct evidence that aplastic anaemia, leukaemia, or bone cancer have resulted from the ingestion of radioactive strontium at present levels, which are far below those regarded by the Medical Research Council as the upper limit for the general population.
Does not the Prime Minister agree that, long before we heard of any danger from fall-out, individual cases were found in people in different parts of the world of bone cancer, aplastic anaemia and leukaemia? Is it not because there are individual idiosyncrasies and weaknesses in different people that they have so suffered, and that we think ionising rays are the cause of it? If that be the case, does it not follow that threshold values are individual matters, not racial or group ones, and that every addition will pick up its selected victims?
There are individual variations, but the International Commission on Radiological Protection regarded the maximum permissible level for workers in special occupations as 1,000 units, and the Medical Research Council here used this as the basis for the figure of 100. The highest level of strontium 90 in any one bone sample yet assayed in this country as the highest is, so far, three, which is far below those figures.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will state the proportion of the radiation affecting the organs of reproduction from the average intake of radioactive strontium as compared with the natural background and with the use of diagnostic X-ray apparatus.
I have already given the House the figures 100, 22 and between 1 and 2 as the proportions in this country between the radiation dose to the gonads from the natural background, from the diagnostic radiology and from fall-out generally. The radiation dose to the gonads from radio strontium only is however far less than one on this scale since this material is predominantly deposited in the bones.The figure of twenty-two for the dose from diagnostic radiology in the United Kingdom is subject to the findings of the Committee on Radiological Hazards to Patients whose final report is expected shortly. A considerably higher figure has been given for countries where more use is made of X-ray apparatus.
Does not this rather highlight the Question I put previously and the Answer which, with great respect, I think the Prime Minister gave in a somewhat unsatisfactory fashion? Is it not true that this tiny amount of stuff ingested into the bone marrow, with its radiation to bone marrow alone—not taking into account the genetic effect and not affecting the gonads—is probably responsible inevitably amongst certain people for future illness, which will show itself as cancer or leukemia or aplastic anaemia?
No, Sir. I am trying to answer Question No. 46, which is about the diagnostic effects, and I think my Answer covers it.
Can the Prime Minister tell the House how he relates the answers he has just given to the answer he gave on Tuesday, when he agreed that there was no known threshold dose below which there could be no danger?
I was assuming—indeed it had been put forward by all the bodies—that one could not say there was an absolute threshold of this or that kind for this particular thing. I was basing myself both upon the United Nations and the British Medical Research Council that, for practical purposes, some arrangement has to be made. They took 1,000 in certain cases and 100 for the general population as the point at which sonic danger might be considered.
asked the Prime Minister what research has been done into the amount of radioactive fall-out which would be released by the operational use of tactical nuclear weapons; and what number of kiloton weapons it is estimated can be used before the atmosphere is polluted above the level defined by the Medical Research Council as warranting immediate concern.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence stated in a reply to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) on 11th February, the only difference between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons is the nature and location of the target. Thus, as regards the first part of the Question, my many previous statements on fall-out are of general application. If, however, the hon. Member's Question is meant to refer to low-yield kiloton weapons as contrasted with megaton yield weapons, then it is relevant that, in general, the fall-out from small yield weapons is of local rather than world-wide distribution.So far as the second part of the Question is concerned the Medical Research Council has never attempted to define a danger level for the pollution of the atmosphere. What it has done is to quote a figure for the level of radioactivity in human bone which, if greatly exceeded, would warrant immediate concern. It would be unprofitable to attempt to calculate the number of kiloton weapons which might be used before this level was exceeded, since the answer would depend upon a number of assumptions, not only about the circumstances in which the weapons were used, but also, for example, about the possibility of avoiding food, especially milk, from the affected areas.
But would not the Prime Minister agree that the whole concept of a limited nuclear war is that it would be possible to localise the consequences, and although in the United States, at any rate, a great deal of research has been done as regards blast effects into the practicability of using low yield nuclear weapons, are we not neglecting the radioactive consequences? Whatever there may be in the poisoning of the atmosphere from isolated test explosions, is it not obvious that, even from a limited war, we would succeed in poisoning the world's atmosphere?
I find it difficult to go into these speculations by question and answer, but I can say without hesitation—and I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with me—that all wars of all kinds are very destructive. We have seen two in my lifetime which have caused terrible loss of life, limb and property, and the great purpose we must keep in mind is to avoid war.
asked the Prime Minister what revision there has been in his estimate of man-made radiation.
As the House will know, the contribution from the largest of the man-made sources, namely the medical use of ionising radiations, is at present being investigated by Lord Adrian's Committee. Until this report is received, the average figure for these medical uses of at least 22 per cent. of natural background in the United Kingdom is the most authoritative that is available. As regards the contribution from fall-out, I see no reason to alter the figure I have already given the House of between 1 and 2 per cent. of natural background radiation.
Did my right hon. Friend see a recent article in the Sunday Times which seemed to suggest that the amount of man-made radiation is much greater than had been thought?
I read the article which, broadly speaking, put the position very well and fairly. Professor Waddington, however, fell into an important though understandable error. The estimate of 2 per cent. to 4 per cent. which he gave was the worst case considered by the United Nations Scientific Committee. That was based upon the continuation of weapon tests for some hundred years or so.
Has the Prime Minister noted that the 22 per cent. for which diagnostic and curative techniques are responsible was based upon work done in one or two of the best teaching hospitals we have available, and that therefore it is fair to assume that if the figure is revised, it will have to be drastically upward?
Well, Sir, I think the best thing now is to wait for the report of Lord Adrian's Committee, which is bound to be very authoritative and very helpful.
Select Committee On Procedure (Report)
asked the Prime Minister what action the Government pro- pose to take on the recommendations of the Select Committee on Procedure.
The House will no doubt wish in the first instance to debate the Report from the Select Committee on Procedure. Indeed I observe that there have already been requests for such a debate. In view of the pressure of other business at this time of the Session, however, we have not yet been able to fix a date.
The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what report he has received from the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis regarding the death of a West Indian citizen in the Kensington area in the early hours of Sunday, 10th May; and if he will make a statement.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the recent murder of a West Indian in the streets of Notting Hill and of attacks upon the property of coloured residents in that area, he will issue a public statement deploring such manifestations of colour prejudice and violence; if he will draft extra police into the district to ensure the preservation of law and order and the protection of the persons and property of coloured British citizens; and if he will use the resources of his department to initiate the vigorous and sustained education of public opinion about race relations by all means and through all media available.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many extra police have been assigned to the North Kensington area since last September.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the number of prosecutions of North Kensington residents during the last twelve months who have been concerned respectively in acts of violence, drug trafficking, prostitution, living on the earnings of prostitutes or keeping disorderly houses.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent Her Majesty's Government has investigated the causes of racial tension in certain areas where violence and incitement to violence have occurred; and what proposals are under consideration for combating the dissemination of racial prejudice and removing the causes of racial strife.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will move to appoint a Select Committee or other ad hoc body to examine the problems of areas which have received large numbers of immigrants from overseas.
I will, with permission, and for she convenience of the House, now answer Questions Nos. 61, 62, 72, 73, 74 and 75 together.I would appeal to anyone who can help the police in their investigation of the recent deplorable murder of a coloured man in Notting Hill to do so. It is the duty of the police, which they will discharge impartially, to maintain law and order; and I am satisfied that the Commissioner of Police has made adequate dispositions for this purpose. Racial discrimination has no place in our law and responsible opinion everywhere will unhesitatingly condemn any attempt to forment it. I am satisfied from consultations which I have had with my colleagues mainly concerned, and from consultations which have taken place with local authorities, voluntary bodies, the official welfare organisations and the police that everything possible is being done, and that every effort will continue to be made in areas where there is a large coloured population to encourage their effective integration into the community. Standing arrangements exist, on both the Ministerial and official levels, for the effective co-ordination of the work of the Departments concerned; and I do not consider that any special inquiry is called for at present. As regards the extent of crime and violence in Notting Hill, I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that the number of North Kensington residents prosecuted for offences committed in the area in the year ended 31st May, 1959, were 75 for acts of violence, 7 for drug trafficking, 131 for soliciting, 11 for living on the earnings of prostitution and 5 for keeping disorderly houses. I should perhaps add, in order to put the position in perspective, that the Commissioner informs me that during the past six months the great majority of the cases of serious assault reported to the police sub-divisions covering this area—118 out of 156—involved white persons only and that only 16 involved white and coloured persons.
While deeply appreciating the Home Secretary's statement, may I ask him whether he will agree that there was very little evidence of racial hatred before certain organisations became active in that area? Is it not significant that these organisations are allied in thought to organisations which created racial enmity in the 1930s? Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take any action about those organisations?
We are watching the situation closely and I have discussed this matter with the police authorities. If there is any evidence whatever that any activities are being undertaken which are calculated to lead to a breach of the peace or of public order, the police will take steps under their existing powers to deal with such organisations.
As there is very deep and genuine concern about this matter on both sides of the House, and as it is rather complex and difficult to cover by Question and Answer, will my right hon. Friend agree to receive a small deputation of hon. Members of all parties to discuss the situation in detail, from both short-term and long-term points of view, since some of us on both sides have made as close a study as we can of this matter and have also personally visited the area and feel that we can make some constructive and practical suggestions?
Yes, Sir. I saw my hon. Friend yesterday and suggested to him that if a deputation of hon. Members of all parties wished to call upon me I should be only too glad to receive it. I have already received representatives of the local authority and of the voluntary societies concerned with the area, and I should very much like to see any hon. Members who are interested.
While welcoming the Home Secretary's statement, particularly his firm remarks on racial discrimination, may I associate myself with the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider this matter in conjunction with other hon. Members interested and will not rule out the advisability of appointing a small committee to produce an urgent report? It is a matter on which all of us feel considerable anxiety lest a further outbreak may occur.
Yes, Sir. I think that the situation will have to be watched literally from day to day and that the more contact I can have with those who have knowledge of the subject the better.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that while it is perfectly true, as he said, that racial discrimination forms no part of our law, there is nothing in our law to make racial discrimination itself illegal? Does he not think that the time is rapidly approaching when there ought to be?
Part of what I said was that it was not known in our law, and perhaps deliberately to take action against it might not be so effective as the hon. Member might think. That is why I do not want to step into that part without a great deal more consideration.
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the Press that it can play a very big part in preventing these racial troubles and that very often the way the Press reports matters can bring in people who should not be brought in and that it creates a situation which makes it possible for racial hatred and racial struggles to take place? In Liverpool, we have a very big coloured population and we have no difficulty at all. We have not had difficulty for some time. The right hon. Gentleman might care to study what is done in Liverpool to prevent this sort of thing and he might suggest to the Press that it should be very careful about reporting matters connected with racial discrimination.
It is, naturally, possible to fan a particular incident, or to treat the matter wrongly. My contacts with the Press indicate that it is willing to take a responsible view of this matter. I have studied the position in Liverpool as well as that in other large cities where there is a colour problem and I shall study all the evidence that can be brought to me and maintain my contact with the Press.
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that in 1937 and 1938 the House gave serious consideration to a somewhat comparable situation in the East End of London, at the time of the Fascist agitation. By common consent, the House unanimously passed the Public Order Act, 1937, which makes possible prosecutions against those who foment disturbances of this kind. In the consideration now being given to the situation in Notting Hill and elsewhere, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether that legislation is adequate for the present situation? If not, will he seek to introduce new legislation?
Yes, Sir. If any hon. Member has any views on the Public Order Act, perhaps he will put them to me. I have studied the legislation in question, but as at present advised I Think that we have sufficient powers. However, it is a matter which will continue to receive constant attention.
Business Of The House
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business for next week?
Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:MONDAY, 8TH JUNE—Report stage of the National Insurance Bill. TUESDAY, 9TH JUNE—Third Reading of the National Insurance Bill. Consideration of the Motion to approve the International Wheat Council (Immunities and Privileges) Order. WEDNESDAY, 10TH JUNE—Committee stage of the Finance Bill. THURSDAY, 11TH JUNE—Committee stage of the Finance Bill. FRIDAY, 12TH JUNE—Consideration of Private Members' Bills. This is the last of the 20 Fridays set apart for private Members' business this Session. It may be convenient to say that I have noted the Motion on the Order Paper this morning in the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and other hon. Members opposite relating to Hola Detention Camp. [That this House deplores the circumstances in which 11 men in Hola Detention Camp met their deaths as a result of the use of unlawful violence and regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to take immediate steps to set up a public inquiry to ascertain where the responsibility should be placed.] My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary is not returning from West Africa until the week-end. We also propose to publish a White Paper containing the findings of the inquiring magistrate into the happenings at Hola Detention Camp, but I am informed that it cannot be made available before Wednesday next at the earliest. In those circumstances, I do not think that we can consider any proposal to debate this Motion next week, but I will discuss through the usual channels arrangements for an early debate the week after next.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say why it has taken so long to publish a White Paper on the coroner's findings? I understand that it is not a long report. Is he aware that we shall certainly regard it as essential that the debate on the Hola Detention Camp shall take place at the earliest possible date?
It is the natural desire of the Government to take up this question as soon as possible. We should have liked to take it up sooner, but, for the reasons that I have given, this arrangement will be more suitable. As there is only one copy of the White Paper available in the Library, we thought that that was not sufficient and that the debate should not be held until the White Paper was available for all hon. Members to read.
The White Paper has been in the Library since 8th May. Has it been impossible to produce a White Paper of 10,000 words in a month? If the Government choose to lie under a Motion of censure for another week, that is a matter for them, but is this not typical of the indifference and incompetence with which they have handled the whole matter?
No, Sir. It is a sign of the consideration with which we wish to treat the House, namely, to give an indication that a debate is likely, and that we thought it wise to make available sufficient copies for all Members. The White Paper itself, in an isolated position in the Library, was not so convenient for hon. Members as if we printed sufficient copies, and the printing of these copies would coincide with the return of my right hon. Friend from an official and arduous tour. It is important to have his counsel before the debate takes place.