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Commons Chamber

Volume 610: debated on Thursday 30 July 1959

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 30th July, 1959

The House met at Eleven o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

Milford Haven (Tidal Barrage) Bill Lords

I beg to move,

That the Milford Haven (Tidal Barrage) Bill [Lords] be re-committed to the former Committee and that it be an Instruction to the Committee on the re-committed Bill that they have power to reconsider their decision on the Preamble of the Bill as reported by them to the House.

May I put the Motion down for 22nd October? May I seek your guidance Mr. Speaker? If the House is recalled at an earlier date, may I give notice that I wish to put it down for that date?

Oral Answers To Questions

British Cameroons

British-Protected Persons (Deportation)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what representations he has had from the French authorities in the French Cameroons for the arrest and deportation of British-protected persons in the Northern and Southern Cameroons; and what action is contemplated in this regard.

I am surprised but very gratified to hear that reply from the Secretary of State. I have in my hands—

Is the Secretary of State aware that I have in my hands three cables from different parts of Africa indicating that British-protected persons are being arrested and deported to the French Cameroons and that their lives are in very grave danger?

There must have been some misunderstanding on the part of the correspondents of the hon. Gentleman, because there have been no requests for the deportation of British protected persons. It is unlikely that any would be made, since the extradition treaty does not provide for the deportation of British-protected persons. There have been requests for the repatriation of French Cameroonians believed to be taking refuge in the British Cameroons. In these cases the normal extradition procedure would apply but no French Cameroonians have been repatriated. The answer to this Question is clearly "None".

Is not the difficulty that of distinguishing between citizens of the Cameroons, to decide which people come from the French or British regions in view of the close association of these regions, and the great uncertainties about registration?

I do not think so. I think that the people who are lucky enough to be British-protected people know it.

Plebiscite, Southern Cameroons

4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what agreement has been reached between the parties concerned in the Southern Cameroons in connection with the questions which are to form the basis of the promised plebiscite; and what representations he has had on this subject.

I regert that so far the parties have reached no agreement. I have had no representations on the subject from the Southern Cameroons but of course I discussed it with the Premier while I was in Nigeria in May.

5.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what provision he has made against the possibility of the two political parties in the Southern Cameroons, namely the Kamerun National Congress Party and the Kamerun National Democratic Party, failing to agree on the questions to be submitted for the impending plebiscite.

Her Majesty's Government must reserve their attitude on this question until the political parties in the territory have given their final views, which they will no doubt do when the question comes before the General Assembly of the United Nations.

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be a mistake for the British administration to make an arbitrary decision? I take it from the Minister's reply that this matter will rest with the United Nations if a deadlock is reached on the questions to be submitted.

The ideal would be for the parties in the British Cameroons to agree. That is what we are working for and I hope that will happen. If that does not come off, Her Majesty's Government will have a point of view to express at the United Nations with whom the final decision will rest. I take this opportunity of thanking the hon. Gentleman for his very helpful and worth-while visit to the Southern Cameroons.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the desirability of the Cameroonians having an opportunity of remaining under British guidance and help so that, with greater experience, they will be able to make up their own minds about their ultimate intentions?

It is important that they should know what it is that they are being asked to decide. As I made clear in 1957, Her Majesty's Government accept that among the options should be the option to continue under the trust administration of the United Kingdom. The precise form in which the questions will be asked and what the questions will be are matters for the United Nations to settle.

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present policy of political bodies in the Southern Cameroons in respect of the future of their country; how far agreement on questions to be asked in the plebiscite has been reached; and what attitude representatives of Her Majesty's Government intend to take when the United Nations reassembles.

I understand that the present Government party, the Kamerun National Democratic Party, wishes United Kingdom trusteeship separate from Nigeria to continue for some time before a final decision is taken; and that the main opposition parties, the Kamerun National Congress and the Kamerun People's Party, favour becoming a self-governing region of Nigeria. No agreement on the questions for the plebiscite has so far been reached, and Her Majesty's Government must reserve their attitude until the General Assembly meets.

Does the right hon. Gentleman's Answer mean that the prospect of securing agreement on the terms of the plebiscite is still very remote? Can he say whether there is any time within which some decision must be reached on this matter?

I cannot force agreement on the parties, and if they do not arrive at agreement it will be for the United Nations to meet to make up its mind, and at that meeting Her Majesty's Government will express their view.

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend has completed five successful years in office today, can he confirm that in that period he has dealt with about 6,130 Questions?

My hon. Friend has many qualities, and I trust him in everything, including his mathematics.

Nyasaland

Shire River Development Scheme

7.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the future of the Shire River Development scheme in Nyasaland, with particular reference to reclamation of land for African agriculture.

As the reply is detailed I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

In the meantime, can the right hon. Gentleman say what sort of scale of operation is envisaged, what will be the capital expenditure, and what the timetable is likely to be?

The Answer takes up two and a half pages of foolscap, and it would be very unwise to try to summarise it at this stage.

Following are the details:

Shire Valley Project

The various projects which combined together will eventually constitute a total scheme for Shire Valley development have recently been reviewed and considered by the Government of Nyasaland and, to the extent which they are concerned, by the Federal Government. There are three principal aspects.

The first is a scheme for using the water of the Shire River in the urban development of Blantyre and Limbe and the immediate neighbourhood. For this purpose the Nyasaland Government, out of its £3 million C.D. & W. allocation is providing £1 million towards the cost. The Colonial Development Corporation is also working out means by which it can provide the remainder of the funds required and negotiations between it and the Nyasaland Government are in an advanced stage. When the final proposals emerge they will be considered with the utmost sympathy so that the scheme may go forward quickly.

A new scheme for the use of the river for power is in an advanced stage of consideration. It is for a 14 megawatt installation at the Mkula Falls, which may cost £3 million. The Federal Government, who have the primary responsibility for the power aspects of development, have provided the funds to commission a project report, which is now nearly completed. It will then have to be examined by both the Federal and the Nyasaland Governments, but if the report is favourable, it is hoped that the scheme will be able to start without further delay thereafter.

The financing of this scheme is the responsibility of the Federal Government, who may do this within the ambit of their overall development plans, for which in the past they have been able to raise money by loans issued on the London market, as well as from their own resources. Failing this they may perhaps suggest to Her Majesty's Government that finance may be made available in the form of Commonwealth assistance loans in the spirit of the Montreal decisions. Naturally, careful consideration would be given to what would most appropriately be done.

The third resource is land. Large areas in the lower Shire Valley are at present swamp. The Nyasaland Government have commissioned a firm of consultants, who are carrying out an investigation as to the extent to which a large part of this area, which at present is only sporadically cultivated, can be brought into permanent cultivation. This will need some form of water control. Preliminary investigations show that the soil is excellent and that it may be possible to get water control without the expensive barrages previously contemplated. The final report of the consultants is awaited and when it is available it will naturally require very careful consideration by all the Governments concerned—the Federal Government, the Nyasaland Government and Her Majesty's Government.

The calls on Her Majesty's Government's financial resources for Colonial development are many and varied in relation to the size of the funds available, but it is very much hoped that it may be possible, at the appropriate time, to find the necessary finance to make a start on these projects and hon. Members may be assured that I shall not let any unnecessary obstacle stand in its way.

Prohibited Publication

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the grounds upon which the Governor of Nyasaland has prohibited the entry into the Protectorate of the periodical entitled Dissent.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) on 28th July.

Can the hon. Member say whether there was any ground for keeping out this periodical from the Protectorate except that it had published an article from an ex-detainee about the conditions in Kanjedza detention camp?

Dr Hastings Banda

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will either arrange for the release of Dr. Hastings Banda from detention or permit him to travel to this country for residence until he is permitted to return to residence in Nyasaland.

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the findings of the Devlin Commission, he will release Dr. Banda from detention.

I have nothing to add to what I said on this subject in the debate on Tuesday, 28th July.

Will the right hon. Gentleman think over this matter again, in view of the fact that Dr. Banda lived here until quite recently and had lived here honourably for many years? If he cannot be released in Nyasaland, it would be only fair and gracious to allow him to come here pending alterations that may take place in future. Will the right hon. Gentleman seriously consider this matter again?

It would be unwise if I added anything to what I said during the course of a very long debate two days ago.

If Dr. Banda has to be kept away from Nyasaland, would it not be wise to bring him to London, so that the Colonial Secretary may be in a position to start the constitutional talks that will be necessary sooner or later in order that the next stages may be begun?

I am afraid that not even that sort of cunning way of trying to get me to say more than I said in the debate will prompt me to do so.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on Tuesday I asked the Prime Minister a Question similar to Question No. 14 and received a most unsatisfactory Answer from the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies? In view of the debate in another place yesterday, does not the Colonial Secretary feel that there should be further consultations with the Prime Minister about the release of Dr. Banda?

I was not able to attend the whole debate in another place yesterday, although I attended parts of it. I shall naturally read the report of the debate very carefully. But my general impression was that it confirmed the attitude taken by Her Majesty's Government in this House.

In the light of the experience of successive Colonial Secretaries, would the right hon. Gentleman care to forecast how long it will be before Dr. Banda becomes Prime Minister of Nyasaland?

West Indies

Citrus Industry (Five-Year Plan)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is yet in a position to make a statement on the West Indian citrus industry negotiations.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now in a position to make a statement on the decisions reached as a result of the negotiations with the citrus delegation from the West Indies Federation; and what have been the reasons for the delay.

Yes, Sir. The discussions with the West Indian delegation concluded yesterday. The objective of the talks was to work out a comprehensive five-year plan for the industry; and agreement was reached with the delegation on such a plan, which will now be considered by the Governments of the West Indies and British Honduras. Agreement was also reached on the lines of a new four-year arrangement to cover the sale of concentrated orange juice for the United Kingdom welfare scheme. The talks were somewhat protracted because they had to survey the whole field of problems facing the citrus industry in the West Indies, and this involved a number of complex technical, agricultural, financial and trade questions. An agreed statement was issued at the conclusion of the talks, and with permission I will circulate the text of this in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. Is he aware of the gratitude expressed to me by members of the West Indian delegation for the help they received from the Colonial Office in these long negotiations, and also for his personal intervention despite his many other preoccupations this week, which was instrumental in converting deadlock into decision and even accord?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is satisfied that the four-year period that he has mentioned will be sufficient to enable the industry to build up and meet possible competition from America and elsewhere?

It was a five-year period for research and development and a four-year period for the orange juice contract. Yes, I think it is sufficient, and that is also the view of the delegation.

I should like to associate this side of the House with the compliment that has been paid to the Colonial Secretary for getting a settlement with the West Indies delegation, but may I ask him not to hang it out so much that it creates great uncertainty, so that even now, although the delegation is satisfied, it is not absolutely confident that the future is secure?

I do not think that even eight or ten weeks is too long in which to get agreement and to settle a very complicated and important subject touching the future of the West Indies for the next five years.

Following is the text of the agreed statement:

Discussions at the Colonial Office with a delegation from the West Indies and British Honduras, led by Dr. C. G. D. La Corbiniere, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federation of The West Indies, concluded today, Wednesday, July 29, 1959.

The delegation included agricultural and technical advisers; and the discussions covered the whole field of problems facing the citrus industries of the West Indies and British Honduras, especially in regard to the need for research and development schemes, and for a degree of market assurance in the United Kingdom, to which the industry looks as its main market.

During the currency of the price assistance scheme for the industry which was operative from 1955 to June, 1959, a number of expert reports on different aspects of the industry was made. In the light of these, detailed work was carried out during the present discussions on the outlines of plans to safeguard and develop the industry.

A plan for a research unit for the industry was worked out and is under consideration by the Colonial Agricultural Research Committee.

The broad outlines of a development plan to assist growers in the application of larger quantities of fertilisers were worked out. Such a plan would of necessity be a matter for consideration by the Governments of the West Indies and British Honduras, and will be taken up with those Governments by the delegation on its return.

The delegation represented that plans for research and development would be rendered ineffective unless measures could be taken to give the industry a sufficient degree of market assurance over a period of five years. The nature and extent of the risks facing the industry were fully discussed. The problems of trade policy involved are complex and there was agreement on the ways in which Her Majesty's Government would seek solutions.

Other matters discussed with the delegation included the long-term contract for the sale of West Indian and British Honduras concentrated orange juice for the United Kingdom welfare scheme, which comes to an end in 1960. Agreement was reached on the lines of a new arrangement to cover the succeeding four years.

The objective of the discussions was to work out plans designed to raise the yields of the industry and thereby place it in a position, by the end of the development period, to meet fair competition from any quarter. The plans discussed were related as a whole to this objective, and the discussions, necessarily involving many technical, agricultural, financial and trade problems, were successful in drawing up the broad outlines of a comprehensive five-year plan for the industry.

Uganda

Disturbances

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the fact that the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances in Nyasaland has revealed a state of affairs different from that which he himself had previously thought to have existed, he will now reconsider his decision not to hold an inquiry into the disturbances that took place recently in Uganda.

Will the Colonial Secretary say why he will not give the people of Uganda the same opportunity as was given to the people of Nyasaland to appear before an independent tribunal to give evidence? Is he afraid that if he does so there will be as much condemnation of his administration of Uganda as was made of his administration of Nyasaland? Is he afraid, in particular, that it will refer to the police State that he has set up in Buganda?

It is certainly not a police State. The right hon. Gentleman's visit did not help to ease the situation there, but the situation in Buganda is wholly different, and I very much hope that as a result, among other things, of the statement of his Highness the Kabaka a few days ago, tranquillity will be restored to Uganda.

Aden Protectorate

Aden-Yemen Frontier

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many sheikhs or native rulers in the Aden Protectorate have withdrawn to the Yemen during the past three years; how many have returned and how many Yemeni sheikhs or other Yemenis have been allowed to settle in the Protectorate; to what extent the road from the Yemen into the Aden Protectorate is now open to the transport of goods and passengers both ways; and what control of immigrants from the Protectorate into Aden Colony exists or is practicable.

The rulers of three minor States went to the Yemen. All three later returned to their States.

In addition, some 30 minor tribal section leaders went there and 18 have returned.

Fourteen leading Yemeni Sheikhs fled to the Aden side of the frontier.

I have no figure for the total number of other Yemenis settled in the Protectorate.

The Aden-Taiz road has never been closed.

As regards control of immigration from the Protectorate into the Colony of Aden, this was covered in the reply given by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, in his reply to the hon. Member on 27th November, 1958, and I have nothing to add to this.

Does the hon. Member's Answer mean that far more will come from the Yemen to Aden to settle than vice versa? Can he say whether any kind of penalty was imposed on the sheikhs and native rulers who went to the Yemen and then returned? Did they maintain their former status?

With regard to the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, the answer is "Yes". The traffic has been much more from the Yemen into Aden than the other way round. As for the second part of the supplementary question, I will look into the matter and write to the hon. Member

Colonial Territories

Admiralty Jurisdiction

16.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the ratification by the United Kingdom of the International Convention relating to the Arrest of Sea going Ships, 1952, he will, in addition to consulting the administration in Bermuda, also consult the appropriate authorities in all the other territories for which responsibility is exercised through the Colonial Office, excepting Aden Protectorate, Brunei, Gambia Protectorate, Sierra Leone Protectorate, the New Hebrides, Tonga, Uganda, and Zanzibar, in order to have the Admiralty jurisdiction contained in the Administration of Justice Act, 1956, applied to the courts of their respective territories by Orders in Council made under Section 56 of the said Act.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Can he give any estimate as to when such consultations are likely to be concluded?

Merchant Shipping (Liability Of Ship-Owners And Others) Act

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the ratification by the United Kingdom of the International Convention relating to the Limitation of Liability of Sea-going Ships, 1957, he will consult the appropriate authorities in all territories for which responsibility is exercised through the Colonial Office, excepting Aden Protectorate, Brunei, Gambia Protectorate, Sierra Leone Protectorate, the New Hebrides, Tonga, Uganda, and Zanzibar, in order to have the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Ship-owners and Others) Act, 1958, applied to their respective territories by Orders in Council made under Section 11 of the said Act.

My right hon. Friend has already approached colonial Administrations on this question and is awaiting their views.

Some colonial Governments may prefer to adopt the provisions of the United Kingdom Act, or similar provisions, by amendment of their own local legislation rather than have the United Kingdom Act extended to them by Order in Council.

Malta

Democratic Institutions

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is now proposed to re-establish and extend democratic institutions in Malta.

I cannot add anything to my reply to the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) on 23rd June.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as it had been indicated that when there was quietude in the island the matter of a new and more liberal constitution would be considered, and as there have been no disturbances for six months, is it not time now that negotiations were resumed with the parties in Malta for a new and liberal constitution?

I do not think the time is yet opportune for that, though I gladly pay tribute to the fact that the situation in Malta at the present time is calm and wise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present method of governing the island has created a certain amount of bitterness—it may be underground bitterness, but it is still there? Could he say what steps have been taken to ascertain the wishes of the people about the future of democratic government in the island?

I do not think that would be a fair description of the attitude of the majority of the people.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter, as this is one of the territories upon which we found a real bipartisan approach to the problem, though, unfortunately, it broke down? In view of the fact that this is the oldest Colony and that it has a deep association with this country, will he undertake to review the matter, so that Malta can be brought back into the main stream of our colonial development?

If the right hon. Gentleman will read the speech of the new Governor on taking office, he will see in that speech an attitude of forward-looking hope, which is also the view of Her Majesty's Government.

Tanganyika

Constitutional Development

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is now proposed to establish full self-government in Tanganyika.

It would be premature to estimate when this stage in the constitutional evolution will be reached.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Tanganyika African National Union won just as sweeping a victory at the last election, even including the European and Asian representatives? In view of the very constructive attitude of its leaders towards racial co-operation, is it not time that there was some reconsideration of the demand put forward by the party which was elected by an overwhelming majority of the people?

The hon. Gentleman's supplementary question altogether leaves out the fact that it was only at the beginning of this month that the first elected Ministers took office in Tanganyika. It also overlooks the fact that the Ramage Commission is now sitting, and that when it reports and the Government have had time to study it, the Governor has undertaken to make a statement.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman give some encouragement to people who have, in fact, produced just that unity for which he has asked among different races, and which he has not found in every country to the same extent as in Tanganyika?

That is quite a different question. Of course, I give encouragement to all people who approach problems in that non-racial way.

British Guiana

Constitutional Development

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is now proposed to establish full self-government in British Guiana.

As the House will be aware from the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to the hon. Member on 20th November, 1958, the Governor has appointed a Constitutional Committee to go into the whole question of the form which future constitutional development in British Guiana should take.

I have not yet received the report of this Committee; and until I have been able to consider its recommendations I am unable to make any statement on the matter.

Is it the case that there are likely to be further discussions in September and, if so, in view of the very commendable attitude of the parties in British Guiana since the interim Constitution was introduced, will the right hon. Gentleman give encouragement now to the demand for full self-government for that territory?

If the hon. Gentleman casts his mind back only a few months, he will realise that when the Committee was set up, it was agreed that I should receive the reports of the Committee, and that I would consider them in consultation with the people who had taken part in the Committee. I have not yet received a report, but I understand from the chairman that he has decided not to submit the main report until he has received certain minority reports which some members of the Committee are preparing. The existence of minority reports shows that it is not quite so simple a matter as the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question might suggest.

Home Department

Home Safety

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has considered a letter from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in regard to their plans for the extension of home safety lecturers and organisers; and if he will make a statement.

I regret that I am not in a position to add to the Answer which my right hon. Friend gave on 23rd July to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Dr. Johnson) and the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann).

Is the Minister aware that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has undertaken a very much larger campaign in the prevention of these accidents; that it has stated quite clearly what its commitments will be, and that the present grant is totally inadequate if it is to continue its work? Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the possibility of increasing the grant in the near future?

As the hon. Lady must realise, the position is that the Society is expected to enlist voluntary finance from outside sources, but the Home Office and the Scottish Office each advance up to £1,500 a year on their Votes on a deficiency basis, and that is the present position. No promise has been made, or can at present be given, in regard to future years.

Surely, the Minister agrees that this is a very paltry sum, despite whatever may be received from voluntary contributions, in view of the seriousness and the number of accidents occurring every year, when one considers the amount of money put into the Road Safety Campaign, which is very important, and the miserable sum put into this campaign, which is equally important?

As my right hon. Friend pointed out on a previous occasion, the Society has increased its facilities, and has appointed a second secretary in the Home Safety Department and an organiser for Scotland and the North of England.

London Bankruptcy Court (Finn's Managing Director)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to require the return to this country of the managing director of a firm, particulars of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Dundee, East, and whose presence in this country has been requested by the senior official receiver of the London Bankruptcy Court.

My right hon. Friend cannot take steps to obtain the return of a person to this country from abroad unless a warrant has been issued for his arrest in respect of an extraditable criminal offence and he is in a country with which we have an extradition treaty. These requirements are not at present fulfilled in the case which I understand the hon. Member has in mind.

Is the Minister aware that many people in different parts of the country have lost substantial sums of money through the sharp and dishonest sales practice of this Mass Machine Vending Company, and that its managing director, Mr. Levine, has apparently fled the country rather than face the financial consequences of the disaster he has caused? Is the Minister really saying that he can do nothing to ensure that this man is brought back to this country so that justice can be done in this matter?

It depends whether or not he is in a country with which we have an extradition treaty. Most bankruptcy offences are extraditable, but, of course, a criminal proceeding would have to be started and a warrant obtained.

Can the Minister tell us what information he has received from the Board of Trade about the activities of this firm, because I understand that the Board of Trade has sent on to the Home Office the particulars which I supplied? Will he give an undertaking to communicate with my hon. Friend and myself and give us an indication of exactly what kind of investigation the Home Department has undertaken in this matter, because there are literally thousands of people who have been deprived of their life savings through the dishonesty of this man?

The Question relates to the inquiries by the senior official receiver, whereas the question of extradition can apply only when there are criminal proceedings. If either of the hon. Gentlemen have any further information they would like to give me, I should be glad to consider it.

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman consider asking for the opinion of the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter?

I would have thought, quite candidly, that that is a question which would be more appropriately addressed to the Board of Trade, which is more closely concerned with prosecutions in a matter of this kind.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman himself ask the Board of Trade for an opinion?

Schoolchildren (Employment)

29 and 30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many local education authorities forbid the employment of children under the age of 15 years on school days;

(2) how many local education authorities permit children under the age of 15 years to engage in paid employment before going to school in the morning.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

No local education authority has prohibited altogether the employment of children under 15 on school days, and it appears doubtful whether a local education authority has power to do so; 116 authorities allow employment for not more than one hour before school.

Is the hon. Lady aware that not a single public schoolboy or independent schoolboy or a child of a Member of this House goes out selling newspapers before he starts the arduous day's work in school? Does not the Under-Secretary agree that it would be very much in the interests of equality of opportunity, for which the Home Secretary did so much in the 1944 Act, if we prevented children under 15 years of age from going out delivering newspapers before going to school?

Under Section 18 of the Act this matter is left to the local authorities. Before putting bye-laws before my right hon. Friend, they have to consider very carefully, and we have the duty to see that they have considered carefully, any objections that may have been made to their proposals. Generally speaking, I think the local authorities can be trusted to deal with this matter sensibly; and, if I may say so, I think the hon. Member is making rather a sweeping assertion when he claims that no child from the schools that he has mentioned ever undertakes a certain amount of this hourly employment.

Is my hon. Friend aware that while it may be true that no children of hon. Members do this work, many hon. Members did so when they were children and they do not seem to be any the worse for it?

Research And Experimental Establishments (Animals)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how often the animals used at the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment and the Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton are inspected under the provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876.

An inspector under the Act has visited the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment three times and the Microbiological Research Establishment four times so far this year.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman say whether these inspectors are inoculated beforehand? I ask that because when hon. Members visited the Microbiological Research Establishment they were refused access to the place where the animal experiments were being conducted on the ground that they had not been inoculated beforehand?

No. This is a very interesting question, but I should require to have notice of it.

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the fact that experiments performed on animals under the provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, may be carried out only with a view to the advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge or of knowledge which will be useful for saving or prolonging life or alleviating suffering, by what authority experiments have been, and are being, carried out at the Porton Microbiological Research Station, of a kind in which highly toxic substances are tested on animals with a view solely to assessing their lethal potentialities.

The purpose of such experiments is to advance knowledge which will be useful for saving or prolonging life and alleviating suffering in the event of the use of toxic substances in war.

The Minister did not appear to answer the Question that I was asking him. Is the Joint Under-Secretary of State suggesting that experiments on about 100,000 animals in the past year were solely for the advancement of physiological knowledge? Is not the concern that most people are feeling based upon the belief that the animals are being used in most cases for the purpose of assessing lethal potentialities?

The object of the experiments is to discover antidotes and protective measures when toxic substances are used in war, so that life may be saved and suffering alleviated if such substances are used. It is true that a great many animals are used for such experiments, and my right hon. Friend is satisfied that they are rightly so used.

Postcards

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what complaints he has received about the existence and activities of an organisation, purporting to exercise censorship over postcards, details of which have been set to him by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West; what action he proposes to take; and if he will make a statement.

My hon. Friend has been good enough to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to a self-styled British Board of Postcard Censors. This body has no official standing and its certificates have no legal basis or effect.

If my hon. and learned Friend has seen some of the postcards purporting to have been approved by this body, would he not agree that they are in the main filthy rather than funny? Is it not unfortunate that they should be permitted to carry what appears to be an official stamp of approval?

Although I may well set myself up as an arbiter of taste, I cannot express an opinion on a matter of obscenity. The point that I wish to stress is that it is no part of the Government's duty to help the publishers of vulgar postcards to sail as close to the wind as possible.

Will my hon. and learned Friend at least make it clear that these stamps do not carry any immunity from prosecution?

No immunity whatsoever. Indeed, in respect of some of them bearing this particular stamp there have been successful prosecutions.

Habeas Corpus (Legislation)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now announce detailed proposals for ensuring that there will always be an appeal available against refusal of a grant of habeas corpus.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal
(Mr. ]]]]HS_COL-670]]]] R. A. Butler)

The Government intend, when a convenient opportunity can be found, to propose that the law should be amended so as to provide for an appeal from the Divisional Court to the House of Lords in any criminal cause or matter, including not only applications for habeas corpus but also applications for the prerogative orders and cases stated by magistrates or quarter sessions, as well as convictions for criminal contempt of court. It is proposed that an appeal should lie only where the point of law involved is one of general public importance which merits consideration by the highest tribunal. The Government propose at the same time to abolish the certificate procedure under Section 1 (6) of the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, and to provide for appeals from the Court of Criminal Appeal to be dealt with on substantially the same basis as those from the Divisional Court.

Does the Home Secretary appreciate that that announcement will be very generally welcomed? May we take it that legislation is required and will be introduced as soon as possible?

Yes, Sir. Legislation will be required and will be introduced in the next Session of Parliament.

Does my right hon. Friend's announcement mean that an appeal in those cases would be direct from the Divisional Court to the House of Lords and would not go through the Court of Appeal on the way?

I should want to examine my hon. Friend's supplementary question in detail before sending him a reply.

Is the Home Secretary aware that without committing ourselves to the approval of the exact details of what he said, we very much welcome the statement and look forward, when we on this side of the House are in office, to introducing the legislation?

I have refrained, in such matters as contempt of court, from introducing any such significance into my remarks. The fact is that whoever is the next Government will find a great deal of very useful work ready to bring in.

Factory, Hockley (Fire)

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that four persons recently died as a result of a fire at the factory of J. F. Spears, Limited, Great Hampton Street, Hockley, and a number of people in houses adjoining this factory were in considerable danger because of inadequate means of escape; what report he has received from the Chief Fire Officer, Birmingham, concerning this fire; and if he will make a statement.

I am sure the House will join with me in expressing sympathy for the relatives of those who lost their lives in this fire. A report upon the operational aspects of the fire has been received from the chief fire officer. The report does not mention the danger to people living in nearby houses, and I understand that it is considered to be doubtful whether these people were in danger on this occasion.

Will the hon. Lady take note of the fact that a number of tenants had to be put out into the street for two hours because the passage was narrow and dangerous? Is she further aware that the housing manager of Birmingham admits that there are many premises of this nature which cause considerable danger and apprehension to many people in Birmingham, especially in view of the loss of life which has taken place? Will she look into the matter, with a view to safeguarding the lives of Birmingham people?

While appreciating the concern shown by the hon. Gentleman, I would point out to him that my right hon. Friend's responsibility is concerned with seeing that the fire brigade functions efficiently—I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it did—and with ensuring that it is in a position to give adequate advice about fire prevention. Fire precautions in private dwellings are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs.

Firearms (Unlawful Possession)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to provide that after a stated period any person found in unlawful possession of a firearm will receive a sentence of not less than five years' imprisonment.

No, Sir. There are serious objections in principle to a minimum penalty. Courts ought to be free to fix a penalty within a specified maximum according to the circumstances of the offence and the offender. The law already provides for penalties up to a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment for possession of firearms in connection with criminal activities.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that the present arrangements are rather one-sided, because while criminals may be in possession of firearms and the police continue to be liable to be shot at there may be understandable pressure for the police to be armed, which would not necessarily be a good thing?

I dare say that my hon. Friend appreciates that there is nothing to prevent people surrendering firearms to the police. In each of the last ten years, an average of about 1,900 firearms have been surrendered to the Metropolitan Police. It is not felt that any change in the present practice would cause criminals to surrender the firearms which some of them undoubtedly possess.

Civil Defence (Lectures)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that misleading information is being given to mothers in lectures on civil defence measures to provide protection against nuclear warfare; and what steps he takes to ensure accuracy in all lectures and information relating to civil defence matters.

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend does not know what particular talks the hon. Member has in mind, but anyone officially concerned with civil defence instruction and information is provided with authentic material through official channels.

Will the Minister examine reports, which I can send her, of such lectures given in schools where so-called useful hints include, "Paint your windows with a mixture of whitewash and curdled milk to prevent blast", "Soak your curtains in borax and starch to prevent fire", and "Have candles in plant pots to produce heat"? Is not the effect of such lectures to deceive ordinary people into thinking that a real protection against the bomb exists?

If the hon. Member were sufficiently interested to study the very careful investigations and experiments that have taken place and the authentic material that has been provided for these lectures—practical measures, I imagine he is thinking of the "One-in-five" lecture scheme operated by the W.V.S.—I do not think he would scoff, as his supplementary question implies, at the responsible attitude of people who are surprised how much they could do, in the unfortunate event of an emergency, to protect themselves and their families.

Detained Persons (Medical Attention)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what facilities are open to legal advisers of persons detained in custody to obtain medical or psychiatric attention for their clients without delay on the part of the detaining authority.

An untried prisoner may for the purposes of his defence receive a visit from a registered medical practitioner, who may be a psychiatrist, selected by him or by his friends or legal advisers. A prisoner who is an appellant may be similarly visited for the purposes of his appeal. An untried prisoner with reasonable ground for desiring it, may further be visited and treated by a registered medical practitioner of his own choice if he is able and willing to defray any expense thereby incurred. Facilities for these visits are normally available on application to the prison governor.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in many cases, particularly of a psychiatric nature, it is essential that the detaining authority should immediately notify the legal adviser in order that there should not be undue delay, since a trial could be prejudiced? Will he give an assurance that instructions are given to detaining authorities that when mental instability is suspected in detained men their legal advisers are immediately advised so that independent psychiatric advice can come to the detained individual?

I think the hon. Member has made a point which is worthy of consideration and I shall see that it is given great thought.

Prisoner (Restraint)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department upon whose authority and advice and for what periods of time a person detained while awaiting trial for murder in the Glamorgan Summer Assizes was placed in a strait jacket.

The prisoner whom I think the hon. Member has in mind was twice placed in a canvas restraint packet, once in Cardiff prison for a period of 20 hours 45 minutes and once in Bristol prison for a period of 21 hours 40 minutes. He was partially removed from the restraint during both of these periods for three intervals of approximately five minutes each. The restraint jacket was used in each case on the instructions of a medical officer.

Is the Joint Under-Secretary of State aware that no self-respecting mental hospital would today use a strait jacket and that it is barbaric and mediaeval that these methods should be used—as mediaeval as putting on trial a schizoid paranoiac, as occurred in this case? Would he consider whether it is possible in local prisons in Wales to be able to have access immediately to local psychiatric advice and not to depend on psychiatric advice in Bristol or Exeter so that these disgraceful mediaeval scenes should cease forthwith?

Restraint jackets are used only in those rare cases where the prisoner is so violent that he may do injury to himself or to others. The prisoner can be put in a strait jacket only on the instructions of a medical officer, and a psychiatrist can be brought in in any case in which it seems advisable to do so.

India, Pakistan And Caribbean (Immigrants To The United Kingdom)

49.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the estimated net inward movement of immigrants into the United Kingdom from India, Pakistan and the Caribbean countries, respectively, for 1958 and for the current year to the latest available date.

I will, with permission, circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will the hon. Lady state why regular and more frequent statistics dealing with immigrants are not published, as that would save putting Questions on the Order Paper when information is required? Do the figures include all entries, by air, sea and short sea routes?

The hon. Member will be aware that it is easier to obtain exact statistics of aliens than of British subjects who have free right of admission at any time to this country, but I shall look into the question he has raised to see whether it is possible to provide statistics more regularly.

Approximate figures are as follows:

19581959 (to 30th June)
India6,2001,600
Pakistan5,000*
West Indies15,0005,400

* It is estimated that there has been a small net outward movement to Pakistan during this period.

Motor Bicycles (Noise)

50.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that, when members of the public send to the police the registration numbers of motor bicycles which make excessive noise on the highways, the police have adequate powers under the regulations to inspect such machines at the homes of the owners and to test the amount of noise they make; and if he will make a statement.

The police have powers, under the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations. 1955, to test the silencer of a motor vehicle on private premises, with the agreement of the owner of the premises and of the owner of the vehicle. My right hon. Friend is informed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that these powers are of limited value and are seldom exercised. Apart from difficulties about access to premises, there is no satisfactory equipment which the police could use for measuring noise; excessive noise is often due to misuse of the vehicle rather than to any mechanical defect; and even if a vehicle is found to have a defective silencer no offence is committed unless it is used on the road in that condition

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that much of the mischief in this matter is caused by motor cyclists who either remove or interfere with the silencing devices which have been so carefully provided by the manufacturers and that the public would welcome any opportunity that could be found of their being able to help the police in the efforts to reduce what is becoming a very serious and unpleasant nuisance?

It is a fact that the removal of effective silencers gives rise to great nuisance. I hope that as many people as possible will bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.

Nuclear Tests

45.

asked the Prime Minister if he will give an undertaking that there will be no nuclear test explosions by Great Britain before the resumption of Parliament.

I have been asked to reply.

So long as useful discussions continue at the Conference on the discontinuance of nuclear tests, Her Majesty's Government would not propose to authorise the resumption of testing.

While thanking the Home Secretary for that Answer, may I ask if he can give such an undertaking even if no agreement is reached? Would it not be a terrible thing for humanity and our hopes for peace if these tests were resumed because, if we cannot stop them, we have precious little chance of stopping anything else? Would it not be very wrong to resume these tests during the Recess in the absence of Members of Parliament?

In the midst of negotiations designed to achieve a major result I think it would be unwise for me to go any further than my reply. The hon. Member need not deduce from my remarks anything which would be of a dangerous or unpleasant character. I simply consider that in the middle of negotiations following on statements made by the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary we had better adhere to that Answer.

Is it really necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to be quite so guarded in his replies? After all talks go on and no tests take place; then, when the talks stop, is it seriously suggested that Her Majesty's Government will make a new nuclear test explosion before we come back in the autumn? Surely the preparation for these tests alone would take far longer than between now and the date of resumption? Could he not be more categorical in his assurances?

I do not think it is usual in the middle of a negotiation to achieve a desired result—namely, the discontinuation of nuclear tests—to make statements about the future after the negotiations, when we trust the negotiations will be successful. Therefore, I cannot go further than I have today.

While negotiations are continuing, the right hon. Gentleman has assured us that there will be no further tests. All we are asking is that he should go a shade further than that and say that there will be no tests before Parliament meets again. What conceivable objection can there be to giving such an assurance? How could it possibly interfere with the negotiations taking place now?

As I say, this matter has been discussed with my right hon. Friends and myself and it has frequently been stated by them that this is our policy. I am not prepared to go further than that today. Nor do I think it would be right to make any deduction such as the right hon. Member indicated as possible from the fact that I cannot go further than that today, because the Government realise fully the importance of this subject and the potential dangers.

Police

Pensions Regulations (Widows And Dependants)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the increasing hazards to Metropolitan police officers in the execution of their duties; and if he will introduce legislation to give more generous treatment, such as is given in similar circumstances in the United States of America, to the dependants of these public servants who lose their lives while carrying out their duties.

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will provide more adequate compensation for the dependants of policemen killed on duty.

The Police Pensions Regulations governing the amount of awards made to the widows of police officers who die as a result of injuries in the execution of their duty were last revised in 1953, and the basis for their assessment, which received the general approval of the House at that time, still seems to me to be sound.

Can the Minister inform us whether the amount received by the widow of the officer who was recently shot is more than she would have received if he had died a natural death? Can he say if he is satisfied that the amount which she will receive will be such as to encourage any other officer to take the necessary risks when carrying out his duty?

The first part of that supplementary question comes up on a later Question on the Order Paper, and I think I ought to answer it then. The answer to the second part of the supplementary question is that the present basis is the best that we could adopt. It was initiated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in 1953. The decrease in the value of money is not a ground for reconsideration, since the pension is on a rate proportionate to the husband's pay. Therefore, the basis of this present arrangement is a sound one.

May I say, as a personal explanation, that I was not responsible in 1953 but I did support the recommendation of the then Home Secretary?

Is the Home Secretary aware that despite what he has said, public opinion generally feels that we deal with these cases in a rather mean way? In view of the fact that such cases are fortunately rare, should we not be a little more generous than the present regulations provide? After all, in cases of road accidents or industrial injuries, the unfortunate victims and their dependants are treated much more generously.

I have compared the police benefits in cases of this kind with other public pension schemes, and, on the whole, I find them to be better. Of course, it is not a subject that I would leave absolutely static, but the present basis is a sound one on which to proceed.

In answer to the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I was really paying him a compliment, because the plan in 1953 was based on plans that he left behind him.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that we should look again at this matter? The police are not comparable with any other set of people in the country. These are very brave men who have to risk, and sometimes lose, their lives. Should not we look again at the whole question of a more generous provision, when these men lose their lives, for their dependants?

As I said, this is obviously a matter which must not remain static and which needs continuous review. I entirely endorse the right hon. Gentleman's statement that these are very gallant men whom we should look after.

Detective Sergeant Purdy

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what compensation he proposes to pay to the widow and dependants of Detective Sergeant Purdy.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to Questions on this subject on 23rd July last.

Can the Home Secretary tell us the actual amount of special pension in the weekly income which the widow is to receive? As the police, with the good will and support of all of us, are now engaged in an attempt to battle against crimes of violence, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be an encouragement to these brave men if they knew that their widows would be adequately cared for by the State?

In a previous Answer I said that the total sum was £10 10s. 8d. The combined police pension, Industrial Injuries and widow's award amounts to £7 4s. 6d., and the rest of the total award is in respect of two of the children. That is how the total to which I referred is made up.

Women Prisoners (Police Matrons)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how far it is the practice in the Metropolitan Police area for a police matron to accompany a woman prisoner in a police conveyance in which male prisoners are also being carried; and what steps are taken to ensure that the practice is observed.

The practice is for a police matron to accompany women prisoners in police conveyances on routes on which women prisoners are regularly carried: and this arrangement is being supplemented by the use of policewomen. The Commissioner is considering whether any further extension is desirable and practicable.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there will not be a repetition of the incident in which apparently a woman on remand was taken in a black maria alone with a number of male prisoners and without any official—man or woman—present, and was submitted to a great deal of abuse and vilification? This was reported in the Press at the time and I do not think that the report has been contradicted.

Some incidents of a similar character which took place in a van between 16th April and 25th May were investigated by the Commissioner. He tells me that all the police officers concerned report that on those journeys no unseemly incidents took place. We shall naturally follow this and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have taken particular care in the design of vans to see that this kind of thing does not happen.

As there were no police officers present, how do they know that no unseemly incident took place?

South London Press Office (Police Dogs)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why police dogs were sent recently in the Metropolitan area to the South London Press, where members of printing trade unions were engaged in peaceful picketing; and if, in view of the provocative effect, he will give instructions that police dogs should not be used in such circumstances again.

My right hon. Friend is informed by the Commissioner of Police that on the night of 25th June two dogs were taken to a cinema car park at the back of the premises of the South London Press when it was reported that the tyres of cars had been deflated. From time to time since then a dog has been used to patrol the area at night. Dogs have not at any time been used to control pickets.

Is the Minister aware that when the pickets protested to the chief inspector he did not tell them of the incidents which had occurred in another part of the premises and that he threatened to set the dogs on the pickets; that the relations with the police which had been good humoured up to that point suddenly became embittered, and that I possess signed statements to this effect; and that this is the third case I have raised with the Minister of police dogs being sent to gatherings of trade unionists?

I was certainly not aware of those facts, and I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to let me have details of the particular cases. I cannot accept his assertion that on this occasion the dogs were used for other than the purpose I have stated. As for the police not mentioning the purpose, it is not usual for them to tell all and sundry when they are trying to trace the commission of an offence.

Chief Constable Of Nottingham (Suspension)

40.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether a reply has yet been received from the Town Clerk of Nottingham to the letter he caused to be sent to him on 15th July asking the Watch Committee to consider further its decision to suspend the Chief Constable and to inform the Secretary of State for the Home Department as soon as possible of the conclusion at which it arrived; and if he will make a statement.

At the request of the Nottingham Watch Committee I received the Committee and the Town Clerk, who were accompanied by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham, West (Sir T. O'Brien) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Lieut-Colonel Cordeaux) on 28th July. After discussion, the Committee and I agreed that the suspension of the Chief Constable should not be allowed to continue indefinitely; and that the Committee reach an early conclusion in the matter.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply and for the very close study and attention he has given to this deplorable case, may I ask him whether he realises that great distress has been caused to the people of Nottingham as a whole; that we are intensely proud of our police force, which we believe to be second to none; and that we believe Captain Popkess to be one of the most famous policemen in England, with a nation-wide reputation? He has been our Chief Constable for 30 yeas and has been the principal architect in building up the police force there to its present proud position.

No one would disagree with the tribute that my hon. and gallant Friend has paid to the police force of the City of Nottingham which is renowned for its efficiency. We all hope that the disagreements and difficulties will be solved as soon as possible. I understand that the Watch Committee is actually meeting today and therefore I would not wish to make any further statement, nor would I wish to detract from the character of any person present or, on this occasion, to pay any particular tributes. The matter had better be left to the Watch Committee to decide.

While we agree very much with the last words of the Home Secretary's statement, is it not the case that in a matter like this in which there is genuine difference of opinion, it is a great pity to try to drag party-political issues into it?

Metropolitan Police (Methods)

53, 54 and 55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) to what extent there has been an increase during the past two years in the number of representations made to him criticising methods used by the Metropolitan Police;

(2) if his attention has been called to the deteriorating relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the public; and to what extent such deterioration is due to the increase in the volume of representations made to him regarding brutality in police methods;

(3) what plans he has for improving the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the public; and if he will institute an inquiry into the methods used by the police.

No record is kept of the number of representations which I receive about police methods and I cannot therefore say whether there has been any recent increase I am satisfied, however, that there has been no decline in the standard of conduct of the Metropolitan Police, and I do not propose to institute any enquiry into police methods. The Commissioner of Police, in whom I have complete confidence, has shown in his Annual Report that he is fully alive, as I am, to the need for good relations between the police and the public and to the importance of taking all possible steps to maintain them.

Is the Secretary of State aware that almost exactly a year ago when Sir John Nott-Bower retired as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force he gave a warning in an interview on T.V. of the deteriorating relationship between the police and the public? Since then there has been a considerable increase in crime and also an increasing amount of intimidation, to which a considerable amount of publicity has been given, on the part of the police. Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in New York, for instance, where intimidation is part and parcel of the methods of the police, there have been eleven times as many murders as in London, forty times as many rapes as in London, and eleven times as many robberies as in London?

Order. With the best will in the world, I cannot allow the hon. Member to make a speech at Question Time. He has already asked the Home Secretary a number of questions.

In view of the allegations which have been made, is the Home Secretary aware that the Central Committee of the Police Federation, which represents 75,000 junior ranks, has given much consideration to this problem? It has stated that, if there are abuses, it wishes them to be removed and it will co-operate in so doing. It would welcome the opportunity of placing its views before the Home Secretary on some of the difficult matters concerned with the administration of the law of prostitution, betting and gaming, and particularly its difficulties with motorists. Has the Home Secretary received those representations? Is he willing to hear the views of the men on the beat?

Yes. I have just received a letter from the Central Committee of the Police Federation, and I am very glad to have this opportunity of saying that I shall be very glad to meet the Committee at a convenient date in the near future. The fact that it has communicated with me, not only on the subjects to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but also on the question of relations between the public and the police, is a good sign, because it shows a sense of great responsibility on behalf of the ranks of the police and a wish that we can go into these things together to do what we can to make relations between the public and the police exactly what both sides wish them to be. I hope that the hon. Member who tabled these Questions will accept that answer to his own representations as indicating the spirit which we wish to prevail.

Adjournment

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. Heath.]

Arabian Peninsula (Military Operations)

12.3 p.m.

In July. 1958. I asked the Prime Minister for a White Paper which would give the House a comprehensive picture of the military operations which had been going on in the Arabian Peninsula since 1955. A few weeks later, in August, 1958, the Prime Minister wrote me a letter in which he said that he was grateful for my suggestion and would bear it in mind for the future. But he said:

"We have given it very careful consideration. Our view is that a report would only be of value after the operations had been completed so that they could be viewed in perspective and conclusions and lessons drawn from them. We have not yet reached that stage in the Arabian Peninsula."
Therefore, no White Paper.

Four months later, on 6th November, I asked again and received a different answer. The Prime Minister said:
"I indicated in some correspondence I had with the right hon. Gentleman this summer that since the campaign in the Oman was finished there was no purpose in publishing the report."
In August the operations had not been completed, so a White Paper would have been premature. In November, they were all over, so a White Paper would do no good. In fact, the operations had not been completed.

On 7th July, three weeks ago, I renewed the suggestion for which the Prime Minister had been grateful a year ago. I received a very curt reply—no White Paper; there would be disadvantages, which the Prime Minister did not name; there would be no advantages. When I asked about the connection of the operations in Oman with drilling by a British company for oil. the Prime Minister thought fit to say:
"I entirely repudiate the insinuations which the right hon. Gentleman has made and which I believe to be quite unworthy of him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th July, 1959; Vol. 608. c. 1112.]
Remembering the Prime Minister's record of candour over Suez, I prefer my own evaluation to his of what is worthy of me.

Therefore, I tabled further Questions, which the Prime Minister transferred to other Ministers. In due course, in Written Answers, the Paymaster-General refused any information about the oil drilling in Oman—a most extraordinary decision; the Minister of Defence gave me some startling facts about the work of the R.A.F.; the Minister of Defence further told me that the operations in the Peninsula had not been completed, and he used phrases which implied that the present situation may continue indefinitely.

There have been two separate areas of fighting—Oman, and the Yemen-Aden frontier. They form part of one picture, but I will take them separately, and deal with Oman first. Why are the Government reluctant to admit that the Oman operations were connected with oil? Everything in Western Arabia is connected with oil. In 1953, King Saud tried to seize Buraimi. Two British officers were killed. We started an arbitration before an eminent tribunal in Geneva. We broke up the tribunal before it had finished, because, as the Foreign Office said in an official statement on 4th October, 1955, King Saud's agents had offered a local sheikh in Buraimi a bribe of £30 million to keep the British company, the Iraq Petroleum Company, out of the territory and to leave the field free for the American company, Aramco. We broke up the arbitral tribunal, making plain that we thought there might be an immense quantity of oil at stake.

Of course, it was for oil that the military operations in Oman were undertaken. In April of this year a well-known authority, Brigadier Longrigg, set out the basic facts in a full-scale study about the search for oil. In 1937, he said, the Sultan of Oman and Muscat gave two blanket concessions in his sultanate to a subsidiary of the Iraq Petroleum Company. There was prospecting before the war, and after 1948, in the Western Provinces It led to nothing. Then the brigadier says:
"In 1954 the company conducted further surveys, and in 1955 decided to drill the Jabal Fahud structure, west of the mountains … Immense difficulties of access were overcome, and drilling began in December, 1956."
Ultimately, the Fahud well was abandoned as a dry hole at 12,250 feet.
"whereafter further geophysical survey revealed a second site at Ghaba, eighty-five miles South-East of Fahud, still in Oman. Drilling there started in mid-1958, and by late December had reached nearly 12,275 feet, with negative results."
There were preparations to drill at Fahud in 1954 and 1955. There was actual drilling in 1956. There were preparations at Ghaba in 1957. There was actual drilling from mid-1958 till late December. But there had been interruptions in the work.

In 1955 the Imam of Oman put in vigorous claim to possession of the oil. With his brother Talib he raised the tribesmen and occupied Fahud. Thereupon the Sultan took in a military expedition, drove out the Imam, and thus made it possible for the preparations to proceed.

Mr. James Morris, who is known to hon. Members and who went with the Sultan, wrote a book about the expedition. He said:
"The Sultan was our leader; but ultimately responsible for the elimination of the Imam had been the gentlemen of the Foreign Office."
He explains that the Sultan's Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Neil Innes, was British; his Commander-in-Chief was British and his troops were led by British officers. It is inconceivable that the Sultan could have conducted his 1955 expedition without our encouragement and help. Mr. Morris described their arrival at Fahud to visit the oil rig. It was, he said,
"a place of understandable interest to the Sultan, who stood to become a multimillionaire because of it … The day for drilling to begin was now very near."
There was no doubt about what the Sultan's expedition was for.

In due course the drilling for oil began, but the Imam and Talib were not finished. In the summer of 1957 they raised a much larger body of supporters, they reoccupied the disputed territory of Oman, and the Sultan's troops were defeated and withdrawn. The Sultan asked for the help of British Forces. The Trucial Oman Scouts, with their British officers were sent in; four companies of Cameron Highlanders, with heavy machine guns and 3 in. mortars; some of the 15/16th Hussars, with Ferret armoured cars; and, of course, the R.A.F. These forces played a much larger part in the actual fighting than had been intended.

On 6th August The Times reported:
"British troops advanced today from Fahud … the official communiqué said tonight. This is the first time that it has been acknowledged that any British Forces have been at Fahud, but with its ready-made airstrip and other facilities resulting from its use as a base of British oil explorations in the past two years, it was suspected that troops might be moved there."
Of course, the Imam's tribesmen could not hold this area against British arms. By 20th August, after three weeks, the Manchester Guardian correspondent in Muscat was able to report that the
"convoys of Petroleum Development (Oman) Limited "—
the I.P.C. subsidiary—
"which were interrupted by the rising, are once again crossing the desert from Muscat to the drilling site at Fahud."
The drilling went on, but the Imam and Talib took refuge in the Jebel Akdar. It was not until March of this year that they were driven from this fastness, and by that time two troops of Lifeguards had taken part in what The Times described as "fierce fighting," together with a handful of Marines as instructors for our levies. The Marines lost two men killed and four wounded. Thus British troops took an active part for eighteen months in driving the Imam of Oman from the territory of which, up to the oil drilling of 1955, he had been the accepted head.

On what did the Imam base his claim to the oil at Fahud and Ghaba? He based it on a document which has gained notoriety as "The Treaty of Sib". It is well known that the tribes of the hinterland rose against the Sultan of Muscat and Oman in 1913. They elected their own leader, The Imam of Oman. The fighting was protracted, the rebels came near to seizing Muscat itself, and the Sultan was saved from ignominy by the intervention of Great Britain. Peace was restored in 1920 by this Treaty of Sib, negotiated by the British representative in Muscat and initialled by him.

The Foreign Office and the Sultan have consistently refused to publish this Treaty, but when the Arab States sought to raise the Oman question in the United Nations, the editor of the Sunday Times printed the text, saying that it would be of importance in the New York debates. This is the text given in the Sunday Times:
"In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful, This is the peace agreed upon between the Government of the Sultan and Sheik Iso Ibn Salih ibn Ali on behalf of the people of Oman, through the mediation of Mr. Wingate, I.C.S., political agent for Great Britain in Muscat."
Article 4 reads:
"The Government of the Sultan shall not grant asylum to any criminal fleeing from the justice of Oman … it shall not interfere in their internal affairs."
I find it difficult to believe that the editor of the Sunday Times would have published this text and would have given it such an introduction unless he had the strongest reasons to believe that it was authentic. The Foreign Office, of course, have a copy, since their agent drew it up, and I invite the Under-Secretary of State to say whether it is authentic or not. In any case, I believe that I am right in saying that the treaty, which established internal autonomy for Oman, worked perfectly for thirty-five years. Until 1955 the Sultan's Government did not interfere in Oman's internal affairs, and there was peace. But then came the hope of oil. The Imam held that oil drilling in Oman Territory was a matter of "internal affairs" belonging to him. The Sultan, hoping to become a multimillionaire, held a contrary view, and we backed the Sultan with British arms.

In view of all that has happened, I think it singularly unfortunate that the Government have suppressed this vital document which has so great a bearing on the legal and the moral aspects of what we have done. I think that it is still more unfortunate that we opposed the discussion of our Oman expedition in the United Nations. In August, 1957, all the Arab nations joined in asking that the Security Council should debate the matter. Their leading spokesman was the delegate of Iraq, that is, of Nuri Pasha, our great ally. But we got Australia, Batista's Cuba and France, our Suez partner, to vote with us; the United States abstained; and the necessary seven votes for the inscription of the item were not obtained. If we had a good case for what we did in Oman, why did we seek to stifle that debate?

Let me turn to the Western side of the Peninsula. Since 1955 there have been constant troubles there—with the tribesmen in our own Protectorates; with the tribal chiefs; with Yemeni tribesmen; and, no doubt, with Yemen Government troops. Let me take some of the incidents of a few weeks early in 1957 which happened to be reported in the Press. On 16th January the Durham Light Infantry—this is 1957—were in action with mortar fire and supported by rocket attacks from Venom fighters. On 28th January an official Aden communiqué said that 30 "dissident Protectorate tribesmen" were killed by the Cameron Highlanders when they attacked an airfield near Dhala in the Western Aden Protectorate. Artillery was used.

On 3rd February it was reported that the Protectorate village of Hedhiya, which had been occupied by dissidents, had been destroyed; no building remained intact and some of the villagers had been killed. Another village, Sawdanya, had been attacked, substantial damage had been done, and it was still on fire. On 4th or 5th February a British patrol was ambushed near Dhala and two Cameron Highlanders were killed and six wounded. In punishment for this, the village of Danaba, also in the Western Protectorate, was destroyed on 11th February; ninety-six 500 lb. bombs were dropped by Shackletons, and Venom fighters fired seventy-two rockets. It was reported that the bombardment was "unlikely to have left anything inhabitable. "In an action on 15th February near Mishal, also inside the Protectorate, a British officer and a British soldier were killed. This was in January and February of 1957.

The same kind of thing was going on when my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) visited the Territory and went into Yemen in January this year. While he was there, there was an ambush in which British soldiers lost their lives. There was a bombing action in which a British aircraft was shot down and the pilot killed. His own movements were restricted for several days because military operations were going on.

I do not believe that one person in a thousand in this country understands the scale of the fighting in which we are involved. In a Written Answer the Minister of Defence told me a week ago that in six months of 1958 the R.A.F. had carried out 1,300 ground attack sorties—1,300—and had dropped 780 tons of bombs. These figures speak for themselves, and I hope that the House and the public will ponder on them deeply and long.

I know that finding oil is a vital interest, not least for the simple tribesmen in whose land it lies. I do not blame the British company in any way; I do not defend Aramco; least of all do I justify what the Government of the Yemen may have done to stir up trouble. But I say that it is intolerable that year after year this situation should go on.

Long ago I drew attention in the House to the fact that the Yemen is a member of the United Nations and that if we have a dispute with them we are under a Charter obligation to take it to the Assembly or the Council. I urged that we should ask the United Nations to send out a commission of inquiry to establish the facts about the fighting, to demarcate the frontier in accordance with the Treaty of 1950 and perhaps to send a police force to keep the peace. That proposal was supported in many influential quarters, including editorial articles in the Manchester Guardian and The Times. In February, 1957, the Foreign Secretary said that the Government were "keeping the possibilities" which I had suggested "in mind." Two and a half years later the troubles are just as bad, and the Government apparently have no idea how they can be brought to an end.

Last December, writing of the Oman operations, The Times, in a leading article, said:
"In Britain the average citizen is not of course misinformed: he is not informed at all. The main reason for this is the reluctance of the Sultan of Muscat and Oman to allow any news to come out of his country. The British Government's equally reluctant contribution has been two written Parliamentary answers, which have merely confirmed that the rebel Talib and his followers are still at large. … The operations now going on in Oman to ferret out Talib … may well seem small beer, but the public have a right to know what is going on. In the first place, it is not small beer to the British troops involved In the second place, official silence leaves the field clear for the propagandists of Cairo."
This applies no less to the operations on the Aden side of the Peninsula. We ought to have the White Papers for which I have so often asked. But we also need new policies, both in East and West. In July, 1957, The Times special correspondent in Bahrain spoke of the disastrous interplay of power diplomacy, Arab nationalism, oil interests and modern communications. He said that we must find some better way of keeping law and order than by unilateral military action. In repeated messages from Oman and from Aden responsible correspondents have said that bombing as a routine police weapon is obsolete, that
"the use of modern aircraft against primitive tribesmen is disquieting,"
and that events in the Peninsula are doing our prestige and our influence the greatest harm.

I ask the Government to think again about these things. I ask them to give us full information about the present and the past. I ask them to find new policies for the future that do not rest on the exclusive, the naked and the protracted use of force.

12.25 p.m.

I am very glad that the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) has raised this extremely important subject. I have been a member of this House for four years, during which I have devoted my attention to Anglo-Arab relations and to the Middle East in general. I have always disliked the proposition that one must be either pro-Arab or pro-Israeli. That shows a fundamental misunderstanding of international politics. Like many hon. Members on this side of the House, I am pro-peace, pro-common sense and pro-progress in that part of the world. By that we mean the distribution of some of the wealth into the homes of the great majority of the peoples in the area.

The problem of the Trucial sheikdoms has been raised. I do not believe that people in this country are even today aware that three-quarters of the world's proven reserves of oil are in the Arabian Peninsula. Should any crisis happen at Kuwait or Bahrein during the coming years, we should be faced within 48 hours with a balance of payments crisis too enormous to contemplate. Therefore, we are dealing with a subject for which I hope Her Majesty's Government will consider fixing a new policy.

It is all very well to make these comments, but I should also make some suggestions. I have three points to put to the Minister and I hope that he will convey them to the Prime Minister. First, it is essential that Her Majesty's Government re-open both diplomatic and commercial relations with Saudi Arabia. Secondly, it is likewise essential that they reconsider their political, diplomatic and commercial relations with the United Arab Republic. Thirdly, I suggest that it may now be time to consider the appointment of a Royal Commission to go into the question of the Trucial sheikhdoms and to re-examine again the treaty arrangements which we have with the sheikhs in that area.

It seems to me that all the time we are hanging on to old worn-out ideas. We ought to be offering new ones. In that area we see new wine being offered in old bottles which are bursting in our faces. I hope that the Government will now take a very serious view of the situation in Oman and Muscat and find a more proper policy for Great Britain.

The last thing I wish to say is to you, Mr. Speaker. We may not reassemble here again with you, Sir, in the Chair, when I would have the opportunity of occupying the Floor, so I wish to take this opportunity to say, on behalf of the 48,000 constituents whom I have the honour to represent, that to my mind this has been a great and momentous Parliament of which you, Sir, have been a very great and memorable Speaker. When you are called to leave this House I am sure that the Mother of Parliaments will be very sorry, and on behalf of my constituents I offer to you their very best wishes in your retirement.

12.30 p.m.

I am sure that we should all wish to join in a humble way in the gracious tribute paid to you, Mr. Speaker, by my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates).

I only hope that my hon. Friend will continue to be a Member of this House after the next General Election, as I am sure he will, and be able to continue to distil the wine of oratory which he has so generously distributed in our debates.

We have had an interesting debate and I have been asked a variety of questions. But, as the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) will understand, I must stick to my brief, which is to answer the debate on military operations in the Arabian Peninsula.

I think it important to get some of the rather acid comments which the right hon. Gentleman has delivered into proper perspective. To do that I think it right to go back and see what our obligations are. These, of course, vary enormously. But right from the head of the Persian Gulf round to Aden—a distance of nearly 2,500 miles by sea—we have a series of special relationships, of friendships and of treaties, some of which are more than 150 years old. Our agreements with the States in the Aden Protectorate, for instance, range in date from 1802 to 11th February of this year.

I find it strange, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman should, today and in the past, have tried to attribute recent British military support given to some of the rulers in the Aden Protectorate or to the Sultan of Muscat or to the ruler of Abbu Dubhai, solely to our oil interests in that area. Of course, such interests are important, but I think of far greater importance are the ancient connections of this country with these States; connections stretching back as they do through the years when this area was—as, indeed, it still is—a bridge between Asia and Africa and a bastion on the Indian Ocean. Hon. Members who have been to Mombasa even today can see one of the finest sights in the world, the dhow fleet sailing down from the Persian Gulf into that great harbour.

It has always been the duty of British Governments to stand by their pledges to the rulers of this area. I would remind the House that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have not been backward in performing this proper rôle. As late as 1930 the party opposite, which was then in office, quite properly, at the request of the Sultan of Muscat, sent two of His Majesty's ships, in company with a gunboat of His Highness the Sultan, to bombard the Musandam Peninsula to compel the surrender of a Sheik of Khasab who had defied the Sultan's authority. This, then, has been and will be the policy of Her Majesty's Governments—to give support to our friends when they call for it in the Arabian Peninsula.

The right hon. Member for Derby, South raised one specific point about the Agreement of Sib. He questioned the legality of our aiding the Sultan of Muscat against the rebellious forces of Talib and others. As the Foreign Secretary has pointed out, the Agreement signed at Sib in 1920 was one under which the tribes were given some autonomy, but that this did not in any way detract from the sovereignty of the Sultan over the area. The right hon. Gentleman has gone further and asked that we should publish this agreement. I see no cause whatever to do so, nor, as the agreement solely concerned the internal affairs of an independent sovereign State, can I see that it is for Her Majesty's Government to publish or even to comment on it.

This Agreement in no way detracts from the Sultan's sovereignty over Muscat and Oman. I therefore think that what we have done and the policy we are pursuing is right, and should have the support of this House as it has of our friends along the Trucial coast in Muscat and Aden and in the Protectorate. It is the simplest and best policy of all to give support and succour to our friends.

My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin raised several points which are outside my province. First, the question of arrangements and negotiations with Saudi Arabia and negotiations with the Egyptian Government. As he knows, we are endeavouring to restore a proper relationship with the Government of Egypt. My hon. Friend suggested that there should be a review by a Royal Commission of the various treaty arrangements spreading round the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. Again, that is a question for my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Foreign Office to answer. My own reaction is that a Royal Commission would be the wrong sort of body to investigate this matter. There is an endless process of negotiation with the various rulers. In this very year, for instance, we have made an agreement with the new Federation of the Emirates of the South and he will know that during the last two or three years other commercial treaties have been initiated.

This cannot be regarded, as the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to regard it, as a united area. It is, essentially and naturally, Balkanised into a large number of states and for that reason it is as impossible to put forward an over-all policy as it is for the British Commonwealth. There is an immense variety of differences in this huge land mass and in these States which cover great distances.

The right hon. Member for Derby, South and others have tried to give the impression that all these activities in support of our friends have been cloaked in an atmosphere of secrecy. But I think that on no occasion, except when military operations were pending, has the House been denied information. On Aden, the Aden Protectorates and Aden Colony there have been a large number of Answers to Questions and a statement by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary as well as by Ministers responsible for Service Departments

Regarding other areas of operations, I would refer the House to the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary on Muscat and Oman in July, 1957. I would, further, refer the House to the information given in the Memoranda accompanying the Service Estimates in February of this year. I can see, therefore, no case for the publication of a White Paper on military operations in the area as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman on 17th July, 1958. I can only echo the words of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the letter which he sent to the right hon. Gentleman at that time, in his Answer on 6th November, 1958, and his reply given in this House on 7th July this year As the Prime Minister said then, he saw little advantage in cataloguing a large number of operations over a very wide territory with no particular relation one to another.

To expand this point further, I think that it would be very difficult to find a firm thread running through the various operations over the last four or five years in areas as disparate as the Jebel Akahdar in Muscat, the Buraimi Oasis, or Sarir Fort on the Jebel Jahif, in the West Aden Protectorate. These incidents are separated by vast geographical distances, by years in time and by circumstances none of which are common or applicable one to another.

Perhaps, however, it would be of benefit to the House if I ran through the variety of military operations which have taken place in the Arabian Peninsula over the last four years. Hon. Members opposite may, of course, have been impressed—although I do not think so—by the propaganda from Radio Cairo. I will make one quotation from the "Voice of the Arabs" on 17th June of this year, where it was stated, with regard to operations in the Peninsula, though these ceased some months before, that
"… the British are using about 1,000 military aircraft … together with a force of 150,000 men … There is an aircraft-carrier off the coast between Muscat and Bahrein … These are the facts of the situation in Oman which, in short, we hand as a gift to the British Daily Worker."
I am sure that neither the right hon. Gentleman nor any of his hon. Friends would wish to add fuel to those foolish flames.

At the height of the operation in January, 1959, against the rebels on the Jebel Akhdar, the maximum number of British troops engaged was under 300. This action was ably described in The Times in the early summer of this year, and I gave some description of it in the debate on the Army Estimates. Of course, there have been in the Aden Protectorate and in the Federation of Emirates of the South occasional and sporadic sorties against Yemeni forces attacking those State rulers, our friends, who do not recognise the Yemeni claim to sovereignty over them. In the early months of 1957 and 1958, these sorties reached a considerable pitch but, at the moment, I am glad to say that, due in no small part to our military actions, Yemeni pressure has relaxed.

But apart from these, I think that it is worth noting certain specific operations. In September, 1957, an operation was mounted to clear out the Yemenis who had been occupying the Jebel Dhahat-Shaquier features. This operation was supported by the Royal Air Force. In April, 1958, in Lahej, a force including British infantry was alerted to guard against possible disturbances in connection with the arrest of the Jifri brothers. In April, 1958, at Jebel Jahif, the Sarir Fort was besieged by about 500 dissident tribesmen, and an attack was, therefore, mounted to clear the area.

Turning further eastward, to Muscat and Oman, since 1955—I do not look back beyond 1955—we have from time to time assisted the Sultan in the training and organisation of his forces and by the loan of personnel and equipment. I should like, here, to pay tribute to those British Service men who have volunteered to help make the Sultan's Army an effective military force in conditions of grave discomfort, with temperatures which are scarcely believable, in areas as barren as barren areas can be.

In 1957 and 1958, we mounted operations to quell rebellious tribesmen of the ex-Imam of Oman and his brother Talib, to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred. After due warning, the Royal Air Force gave support by attacking forts in the dissident area. Leaflets were dropped on behalf of the Sultan. This operation resulted in the rebels being driven up the Jebel Akhdar, an inaccessible mountain region rising to about 8,000 to 9,000 ft. From December, 1958, to February, 1959, British forces, including elements of the Life Guards and the Special Air Service Regiment, assisted the Sultan's armed forces in clearing the rebels from the Jebel Akhdar. The Royal Air Force assisted, and I think that proper tribute has been paid in the newspapers of this country to this brilliant operation successfully carried out with very few British casualties.

All these things have been referred to in the House and on all of them, the Government have, quite properly, been prepared to answer, and have answered, questions unless points of military security came in.

Let me now turn to the area further north, in Buraimi. Between October and November, 1955, an operation was mounted by the forces of the Sultan of Muscat and the Ruler of Abbu Dubhai in conjunction with the Trucial Oman Scouts—an excellent force largely officered by British officers, created in 1951 with prescience and wisdom by the late Labour Government—to remove the Saudi forces in the Oasis. As the House will remember, this operation was entirely successful and met the general acclaim of the House and of our friends around the Persian Gulf.

Now a word about air and sea forces. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has explained to the right hon. Gentleman that, of course, in this area air forces have a very special part to play. In an area of great size, with incidents widely scattered, bombing, after due warning, is obviously a most effective means of dealing with trouble. The wisdom of this policy has been proved by its effectiveness. Over these vast distances, the Royal Air Force has a most important logistic rôle in ferrying, in carrying stores, and in occasional military operations. About 5,000 tons of freight were carried in the period of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. The Navy, too, has played an important rôle, not least in providing patrol assistance to the Sultan of Muscat against the smuggling of arms.

These operations, which have all been successful, covered, as I said, a huge area. Between one and the other, except, of course, the two operations in Muscat, there cannot be seen any close geographical, political or economic link. They have all been operations on a small scale. They have all been operations about which the House has been given proper information when it asked for it. As I have said, only one thing has held us back at moments and that has been the question of military security.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for having raised this subject. Only in putting undue emphasis on oil interests and not paying sufficient attention to the historic connection, in global and strategic matters and in friendship, between this country and those States, was his speech not as helpful as it could have been. I wish to conclude by paying a tribute, in which I am sure we can all join, to the skill and devotion to duty of our forces throughout the area, whose presence safeguards the peace and makes a major contribution to security in this part of the Eastern world.

If further detail is needed, my right hon Friend the Minister of Defence will consider affording further information on any particular operation. Seeing things as a whole, however, this is a huge area, divided by mountains, desert and the vast empty quarter. It is politically disparate and regionally enmeshed in a most complicated and changing pattern of tribal loyalties. All operations have been on a small scale; British forces involved never amounted to more than a few hundred; nothing that could be called an organised campaign, except in Muscat and Oman, on which the House has been fully informed, and which itself was a very small affair. Otherwise, there has been nothing but sporadic incidents arising from an unsettled situation on a long frontier, the definition of which has never been accepted by the Yemenis.

Nothing, therefore, has happened which it would be appropriate to describe in a special dispatch or White Paper. The House will continue to be informed from time to time of any matters of general interest affecting the situation in those parts of the Arabian Peninsula where Her Majesty's Government have defence responsibilities. The maintenance of peace and order in this vastness is .1 continuing, necessary and honourable process, and, as I think I have shown, a process in which every Government elected in this country must engage.

Hospital, Mid-Cheshire

12.47 p.m.

The people of mid-Cheshire will be grateful for having this opportunity, through me, to raise the matter of hospital facilities in mid-Cheshire. The area concerned is that included, roughly, in the urban districts of Middlewich, Wins-ford and Northwich and the rural district of Northwich. I wish to ask my hon. Friend whether he can give us any help in obtaining the erection of a hospital to serve the area of mid-Cheshire.

The need has been very well established. In the first place, the county council has supported the local authorities of Middlewich, Winsford and Northwich in their endeavours, over three or four years, to have such a hospital erected. I will quote from a letter from the medical officer of health for the county which, I think, shows the very great need for such a hospital in the area. The county medical officer wrote to the Northwich Urban District Council on 26th November, 1957, saying that he was interested to know that the councils in mid-Cheshire had banded together to try to persuade the regional hospital board to provide an additional general hospital in the area. He was, he said, very happy to support their endeavours and he reminded them that, if it had not been for the passing of the 1946 Act under which this activity was transferred to the regional hospital board, the county council would, in his opinion,
"undoubtedly have put forward proposals to the Minister to erect a new general hospital on the Lines of Clatterbridge, to serve the mid-Cheshire and surrounding areas."
He gives his opinion of the present accommodation, saying,
"At the present time"—
this was as long ago as November, 1957—
"the hospitals in mid-Cheshire are small, and when the accommodation is added together it is totally inadequate for the area."
He says that the best evidence is provided by the ambulance service which does the biggest mileage in the county, by far the greater part of which is due to the long distances over which patients have to be conveyed to hospital for both in-patient and out-patient treatement. He says that the hospitals are over 12 miles away from the ambulance station, and he adds that
"undoubtedly there is an urgent need for hospital provision for the chronic sick in mid-Cheshire."
The facts about the provision of an ambulance service are very serious. No fewer than 85 hospitals are visited by patients in the mid-Cheshire area. The total mileage of the ambulance service is 200,000. It will be appreciated that when patients have to travel these long distances they must be assembled in parties of four to six people. They have to wait a good many hours before the ambulance is filled and it may be that they are going to the hospital only for the very briefest treatment. Perhaps the treatment might last for only five or ten minutes, but the patients have had to waste the greater part of the day, and some people from remote rural areas in this district may have to spend the whole day going to a hospital in Manchester to have five minutes' treatment. In the case of those going for a longer visit to the hospital, those who may have to be hospitalised, it is difficult for relatives to visit them.

The regional hospital board itself recognises the need for a new hospital. In a letter dated 17th September, the secretary of the board wrote to the Northwich Urban District Council saying:
"The Committee requested me to inform you that the Board are aware of the need for development of the hospital services in the mid-Cheshire area and that they have already requested the local Planning Authority to reserve land in this area as a site for a new hospital at a future date. Whilst the Board have in mind, therefore, the need for a new general hospital … it is not quite correct to say that the hospital has been 'programmed'."
It is true that a site has been reserved at Davenham. It is intended to use 11½ acres as a site for the new hospital.

As I understand, the procedure is that in cases where the finance exceeds £250,000 the regional hospital board has to put forward a scheme of this sort to the Minister when he calls for schemes for what are called central financing. The disappointment of the council, about which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary knows, stems, I think, from the fact that the board was asked by the Ministry, following a meeting of the council with the Minister earlier this year, whether it would like to add the hospital for mid-Cheshire to its existing programme of works for central financing and, if so, whether it would like it to be ahead of other schemes or at the end of schemes which had already been put forward. Very disappointingly, from the council's point of view, the board said that it would wait until it was asked for the next lot of schemes to be centrally financed. In other words, it did not propose to add it to the existing schemes to be financed by the Ministry of Health but would wait until the Minister called for a new programme.

This was especially disappointing as there had been a letter from the board in 1957 to the Northwich Urban District Council saying that it had reserved the site and that the Minister was in the habit of asking for a programme for central financing every year, therefore giving the impression that the board was likely to put this scheme into the central financing programme the next time it was asked. It appears that after 1957 there was another central financing programme. On this occasion, too, the board did not include the proposal for this hospital in the programme.

The object of my raising this matter is to impress on my hon. Friend the need for a new hospital in this area in Cheshire. There are other factors of which perhaps my hon. Friend is not altogether aware. At the moment we have an excellent small hospital at Northwich, the Victoria Infirmary. Being small, it naturally does not have the facilities of a larger hospital. For instance, it is not equipped to have a resident doctor. Unfortunately, like all areas in this country, there are many road accidents in this area and I suppose that the Victoria Infirmary gets road accident casualties from within a radius of ten miles of the infirmary. There are some very important and dangerous roads in the area, like the Manchester—Chester road, which runs very near to Northwich.

Road casualties are continually coming into the Victoria Infirmary. When they arrive, the infirmary has to call up the doctor who is on call and who has other demands on his time. He may be out dealing with another case, and the hospital then has to call on the next doctor. Inevitably, with the best will in the world and in spite of all-round efficiency, the result sometimes is that the injured cannot be dealt with as quickly as their injuries perhaps demand. What I am afraid of is that one day somebody may lose his life through not being attended to in time.

If there were a proper general hospital in the area it would have all the resident doctors, specialists and apparatus that it would need. As it is, the skilled and devoted matron and nurses of the Victoria Infirmary, who have very great knowledge, deal with the casualties when they come in. I have been visiting the hospital when some casualties have come in, and the staff deals with them very well indeed, but I am afraid that one day special medical attention will be needed which will not be forthcoming.

A questionnaire was sent out to the doctors in the area. Of the twenty-eight doctors who answered, twenty-four said that the hospital facilities in the area were not sufficient. All twenty-eight said that a general hospital would meet the need of the area.

Let me illustrate the need in a little more detail. The Manchester Regional Hospital Board, which, as I have said, is the authority to put forward this proposal for a general hospital, held a meeting on 24th September, 1957. I have here the minutes of the meeting. The board was in possession of a schedule of the various areas most in need of further hospital facilities, from the point of view of having additional medical beds. North and mid-Cheshire are grouped together. The minutes show that the north and mid-Cheshire area has only 11 medical beds per 100,000 of population. Of the other areas also in need of extra hospital beds, Preston and Chorley has 30, nearly three times as many as north and mid-Cheshire. There are five other areas which are allocated up to 48 beds per 100,000 of population in need of additional hospital beds. The mere evidence of this figure, 11 per 100,000, shows how great is the need in this area for medical beds.

I should now like to deal with general surgery beds. Here again, north and mid-Cheshire are most deficient, although the difference between it and the runners up is only 7 per 100,000 instead of 19 per 100,000. North and mid-Cheshire have 34 general surgery beds per 100,000 of population. The other six areas in greatest need of extra surgical beds have as many as 62 beds per 100,000. In orthopaedic surgery, north and mid-Cheshire are third in the list of deficiency, while in gynaecology beds they are sixth or seventh in need and come towards the end of the table. The board is reported as having in mind a new hospital eventually near Northwich to serve the southern end of this group in central Cheshire.

I would like, in conclusion, to impress upon my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary the need for this facility in mid-Cheshire and the fact that it has excited a great deal of local interest. I understand that arrangements are being made to get up a petition to the Minister and the matter has attracted a great deal of attention in the local Press. It is felt by all the doctors, the medical officers of health and the councillors of the local districts that the need is a real one. While they appreciate that they are not in a position to weigh the need of one district as being higher than another, because they do not have the facts in their possession, it is difficult for them to imagine that any other district under the Manchester Regional Hospital Board is in such need as the mid-Cheshire district. The need has existed for some years and the fact that a site has been reserved, and the medical officers and doctors in the area have given the answers to which I have referred, shows that the need is great.

I am asked by the councils to thank the Ministry for the courteous reception they had at a meeting earlier in the year and to urge not only upon my hon. Friend, but, through him, the regional hospital board, the urgent need for the establishment of this general hospital. As is shown in the correspondence, even if it were decided today to proceed with the scheme, it would probably be three years from the making of the decision until the hospital was erected. Therefore, for another three years at least, this great need must continue, with danger to patients and great inconvenience, which spreads to their relatives.

The figures show that about one person in eleven took an ambulance journey in the district in the past year. All these people are visited by their relatives and one can realise the general dislocation and frustration in the area. In many cases, the bus services to get to Stalybridge, Manchester, Crewe and Liverpool are not sufficiently adequate for these visits, having regard to the visiting hours.

I know the sympathetic nature of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and that he recognises a need when he sees one. I urge him to do all he can to induce the regional hospital boards to put up a scheme to him for central financing. To satisfy the needs of the area, it is necessary that it should be treated as a matter of urgency.

1.3 p.m.

I support my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster), who has put the case so clearly and fairly and with his customary eloquence. This agitation for the provision of better hospital services in mid-Cheshire has been going on for several years. The position, as the doctors have reported and as we all know, is that the patients who have to be treated from mid-Cheshire are forced to attend hospitals in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Warrington, Macclesfield and Altrincham. Tremendous distances, therefore, have to be covered. We all wonder whether there are any other districts in the country whose people are scattered over 85 hospitals for treatment. At the moment, there is no sign of any proposed hospital being built. What is even worse and causes such anxiety in mid-Cheshire is that there is hardly any sign that anybody is even thinking of building one.

The Minister has said that it is a matter for the Manchester Regional Hospital Board to decide and the board states that it is a matter for settlement when the Minister calls for further proposals for central financing. This is a clear case of passing the buck backwards and forwards, which is supposed to be a rather favourite pastime for public servants. The Cheshire public are getting fed up and feeling is very strong.

We Cheshire Members have been in close touch with the local authorities in the district, who have made strenuous efforts to obtain better hospitals. As a final gesture, they have asked us to persuade the Minister to hold an inquiry, because such an inquiry would clearly show what bad hospital service mid-Cheshire has. All of us, however, have received the same reply from my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister refusing to hold an inquiry. Therefore, the people of mid-Cheshire feel that they will have to go on suffering.

This is no new problem. Attention was drawn to it years ago and the situation is getting worse. All we ask is that an inquiry should be held at top level. There is also a feeling of deep frustration in the area. The people look at the hospital building programmes all over the country, which show that expenditure is increasing rapidly each year and next year will be double what it was three years ago.

Why cannot the people in Mid-Cheshire have their share? Is it not about time that they should be next on the list for better hospital services? What a wonderful record this Government have. The Socialists did not build any hospitals at all between 1945 and 1951, but since the Conservatives have got in, the first parts of four new hospitals are in use in England and Wales and work is in progress on ten more new hospitals. In addition, 40 large schemes involving new units or major extensions are in progress and more are being planned. Many other smaller schemes are under way or completed. These include new laboratories, operating theatres, X-ray equipment and improved out-patient and casualty departments. Already, the benefits are showing in at least 100 hospitals at a cost of £7 million. Cannot mid-Cheshire have a fair slice out of this huge national cake?

I end this plea on a personal note. My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Health has a record which is, possibly, second to none amongst his colleagues and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is his ardent lieutenant. After the election, when the Conservatives are returned with an increased majority, he is bound to be promoted. Before he leaves his Department, however, what mid-Cheshire would like to see would be my right hon. and learned Friend crowning his brilliant record by saying, first, that he will hold an inquiry and, secondly, stating publicly that he realises the great hardship in mid-Cheshire and that he will give an early priority to improving the hospital service in that area.

The last thing that the people of mid-Cheshire want to see is this country living beyond its means. Overspending of the taxpayers' money is a favourite pastime of the Socialist Party. All we ask is that a fair slice of the National Health Service cake should be given to the central area of our lovely county of Cheshire.

1.10 p.m.

First, I must thank my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut-Colonel Bromley-Davenport) for raising this matter and so ably arguing the undoubted and acknowledged needs of their area. In doing this they have simply followed up the numerous and pertinacious representations which they have made in correspondence with me and my right hon. and learned Friend, and also the representations made by the local authorities in the area to my right hon. and learned Friend and to the Manchester Regional Hospital Board.

I should like to give a short account of the recent history of this matter. The local authorities concerned, the Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich Urban District Councils and the Northwich Rural District Council, set up a joint committee with the object of taking all necessary steps to ensure the provision of adequate general hospital facilities in the area. It is from that point that I want to trace the course of events.

On 13th May, 1958, a deputation from this body was received by the regional hospital board. I am told that the board informed the deputation that it fully appreciated the need for additional hospital developments which the deputation was seeking in mid-Cheshire. But at the time the Board could not finance a new hospital out of its own capital allocation. Therefore, the project would probably have to be considered for inclusion in the programme of major schemes selected on a national basis by my right hon. and learned Friend. On the next occasion when the Board had the opportunity to put forward a list of schemes for this purpose it would give very serious consideration to the mid-Cheshire case.

The local authorities, however, thought that the matter was one for the Minister and they sought an interview with him. A deputation was received by officers of the Department in November, 1958. It was pointed out to it that the regional board had not included this project in the list of schemes which it had submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend in June, 1958. I want to make the point, so that there will be no misunderstanding about it, that this does not imply any bad faith on the part of the regional board. These boards have had delegated to them the responsibility for planning hospital services in their regions. It follows that it is their duty from time to time to review the relevant urgency and importance of capital developments proposed throughout the regions under their control. This, of course, is a most unenviable and thankless task, particularly when one thinks of the conflicting demands for urgent developments in a region which has a population of 4,379,000 which extends from Windermere in the north to Crewe in the south, and which has 200 hospitals and clinics most of which could make out a claim for a certain amount of improvement.

I am sure that the Manchester Regional Board, in that kind of situation, is doing an honest job of trying to get the priorities right and, of course, it cannot please everybody on the way. When the board was invited in 1958 by my right hon. and learned Friend to submit a list of major schemes for inclusion in the programme, it was its conclusion, after weighing up all the circumstances, that certain other schemes, particularly the second phases of schemes already started, had a greater degree of urgency. This was a hard and difficult decision to take, but the board felt it to be the right one at the time and that explains how it was that the mid-Cheshire scheme did not come forward in 1958.

Does not all this add up to the fact that there is not sufficient allocation of money for the Manchester Regional Board to do what is reasonable?

No, I would not agree at all. We are never likely to agree that any sum of public money is sufficient for the schemes that we have in mind, but, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford has said, the actual capital available next year will be double what it was three years ago.

The situation was explained to a deputation which visited the Ministry last November. The deputation then said that it would seek a further interview with the board. The views expressed by the deputation were transmitted to the board which was asked whether it wished to add a new hospital for mid-Cheshire to the list of major schemes which it had already submitted and, in particular, whether it wished this project to be ranked in priority after the schemes already submitted or to take precedence over any one of them. The board, however, felt that it should hold its hand until it had received the expected further approach from the local authorities.

This meeting with the local authorities took place on 10th March of this year. I understand that the local authorities were particularly anxious to receive some indication as to when a new hospital might be selected by the board for submission to my right hon. and learned Friend. As I have told my hon. Friends in correspondence, the board felt that it was not right for it to give any undertaking, since at that time—and I stress "that time"—it could not say how soon it might be asked to submit further proposals, and it felt that it should keep itself free to assess the priorities in its region afresh when the time came. I think that decision was right.

So far, I have been dealing with events up to the time when I wrote to my hon. Friends on 26th May. My hon. Friends will be glad to know, however, that a new hospital for mid-Cheshire was included among a list of schemes which the regional board submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend on 23rd June, and we shall thus be able to give consideration to this proposal when my right hon. and learned Friend is next considering the addition of schemes to the special major schemes programme.

I am sure that it will be understood that at this stage I cannot give any precise undertaking that this project will be selected on the next occasion, but it will certainly be considered, and I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will bear in mind the very cogent arguments forcefully put forward today. I am certain also that this submission is an important stage in the progress of the scheme and a definite advance on the situation which existed up to a few weeks ago.

I have devoted my attention mainly to the question of a new hospital, which was the principal issue raised by my hon. Friends. The need for it stems from the fact that mid-Cheshire itself does not contain sufficient hospital beds—

As my hon. Friends have said, numbers of patients living in the area have, willy-nilly, had to go to hospitals some distance away, but I would not have thought that the small hospitals in the area are not doing their bit. They have put up a very good show indeed.

It has not been possible to make major additions to these hospitals, but the regional board has done all it can to improve them. For example, at Davenham Hospital the isolation block has been converted to form a maternity unit, and a new physiotherapy and X-ray department has been provded at the Victoria Infirmary.

Generally speaking, the mid-Cheshire hospitals have had a fair share of the capital moneys available for developments in the group as a whole. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich mentioned specially the need for full-time medical staff at the Victoria Infirmary. I am glad to tell him that the regional hospital board, after consultation with the hospital management committee, has decided to appoint a junior hospital medical officer to this hospital.

The precise range of duties of the post are being discussed now with the general practitioners who form the present staff, and the board has also recently authorised the appointment of a junior hospital medical officer at Grange Hospital, where it is intended to admit a larger proportion of medical cases to permit more surgical cases to be treated at the Victoria Infirmary.

That, then, is the picture. I hope that the information I have given to my hon. Friend, that a new hospital for mid-Cheshire is among the schemes submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend for consideration, will prove acceptable at this stage. I am grateful for the constructive interest they have shown in this project, which, I recognise, is of undoubted and growing importance to the people they have the honour to represent in this House.

Scotland (Paper-Making Industry)

1.21 p.m.

The subject of this brief debate is the European Free Trade Agreement and the paper-making industry in Scotland. The purpose is to extract from the Government, if possible, a clear statement of their intentions. This will be a very short debate and several of my hon. Friends who, like myself, represent constituencies containing paper mills in Scotland, are hoping to catch your eye, Sir, to make brief contributions. Therefore, it seems to be my responsibility also to be brief in order that they may possibly have a chance to do so. Consequently I have not time for sketching in any background, but in any case the background is already known to the President of the Board of Trade and to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Also, in a recent debate on industry and employment in Scotland my hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) and Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), who are in their places on these benches today, have also endeavoured to pursue it in questions. So far, however, we have not received any satisfactory answer to the direct question whether the Government intend to encourage any safeguarding arrangements for this important British industry or whether they regard it as expendable. Was any attempt made in the Stockholm talks to put the point of view of the British paper and board-making industry to the Scandinavian Governments?

The White Paper, Cmnd. 823, which has been published since we tabled a request for this debate, entitled "Stockholm Draft Plan for a European Free Trade Association", gives not the slightest indication that the industry was even mentioned during the talks. There is not a word in the White Paper about the industry. There are special arrangements to protect Danish agricultural products and there is a proposal submitted by the Norwegians to protect fresh and frozen fish and other products.

These industries are of special importance to the countries concerned and we can readily understand and appreciate that the alert and efficient Governments of those countries defended the economic interests of their citizens. The industry most likely to be severely affected in Britain by E.F.T.A. is the paper making industry. There is no other major industry in Britain which is likely to be affected to such an extent as this one, and it seems unbelievable that the British Government made no attempt to secure a quid pro quo by negotiating an arrangement to safeguard the industry.

The exploitation of the United Kingdom market for paper must have been uppermost in the minds of the Scandinavian Governments, and in particular of the Swedish Government, as the outstanding potential advantage to them of the E.F.T.A., particularly when previous markets in the European Economic Community, in the countries of the Six, are becoming increasingly closed to them. Therefore, we want to know on behalf of our constituents employed in the industry—there are 17,000 of them in Scotland alone—and on behalf of the good firms who have undertaken heavy capital investment to modernise their plant, equipment and premises, what steps did the Government take or do they propose to take to safeguard the future of these jobs and investments?

Why does the White Paper contain no mention of any British proposal to lay down such safeguards? Did the Government, in fact, take such steps? Did they table any such proposals? Do they intend to do so? These are important questions and the answer vitally affects the jobs and the security and the future of thousands of our people. It is possible, I should think it is highly probable, that the President of the Board of Trade will direct our attention to paragraphs 19 to 23 inclusive of the White Paper which deal with difficulties in special sectors. I will read paragraph 19, because it is necessary that we should have an explanation of what it means. It says:
"If a Member experiences difficulties in a particular sector of industry or a particular region, and there is an appreciable rise in unemployment in that sector or region resulting from a spectacular decrease in internal demand for the domestic product because of imports from other Members, the Member concerned shall be able to take certain protective measures. Any such measures shall be applied non-discriminatorily to all Members, and Members should not be treated less favourably than third countries."
Obviously the paper and board industry is
"a particular sector of industry"
and an important sector of industry in Britain. Obviously that sector will experience difficulties if E.F.T.A. is operating. Obviously these difficulties will be more severely felt in Scotland, where the paper-making industry is a major one. Obviously the comparative effect in Scotland as a whole of E.F.T.A. will be disadvantageous because the advantageous results of the association will be in those manufacturing industries of which Scotland has not a normal share.

The White Paper seems to me to say that if an industry is so hard hit that it is in danger of collapse, the Government may take certain unspecified "protective measures". What exactly is in the minds of the Government and the other countries? What protective measures have they in view? Why not take protective measures before the industry suffers? Why not take them now before things go too far? The only way effective protective measures can be taken is by inserting in the Agreement a safeguarding section for the paper-making industry, as has been pro- posed for Danish bacon, for Norwegian fish and in the special steps to protect Portuguese interests.

The matter is urgent. We must have the assurance today. Parliament will be rising in three hours' time from now and will be dispersed for three months. In our absence the Government may present us with a fait accompli. They may have ratified the Agreement, or at any rate, may have gone too far with it, and so put themselves beyond hope of retrenchment, which would be disastrous to an industry built up with efficiency and pride in our own country and in our own constituencies.

The next Government will not, of course, get rid of this Agreement. They will probably strengthen it, but if it has gone too far and we have the difficulty of inserting a clause into the Agreement which has already been made, it will be a long and difficult process. I ask this Government and I plead with the President of the Board of Trade to give us an assurance today, at this eleventh hour, that they will do their duty by this industry and by those who work in it.

1.31 p.m.

Like the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor), I want to be brief. Therefore, I will try to make my speech in almost telegraphic form. I do not share altogether the fears of the hon. Gentleman, but I recognise that the employment position in Scotland is much more sensitive than it is in England. I do not complain in the least that hon. Gentlemen opposite have raised this question today for that reason. With double the rate of unemployment in Scotland to that in England, any action that might increase that unemployment in a particular trade to benefit the United Kingdom as a whole is bound to be looked at with some care by Scottish Members.

I have a paper mill at the edge of my constituency and I received a letter from those concerned in it when they first heard about this proposal. I think that they got the wrong end of the stick and exaggerated the fears that were expressed in the letter they sent to me, because they thought that the tariff would be abolished in five years. That was never the proposal and is not the proposal today, as can be seen from the White Paper, Cmnd. 823.

On studying that White Paper it seems to me that there will be quite a number of safeguards for the paper industry. Paragraph 19 of the White Paper, which the hon. Gentleman read in full, is, I think, a material safeguard. First, if there is an appreciable rise in unemployment, or a spectacular decrease in internal demand for the domestic product, certain protective action can be taken by the Government. Secondly, according to paragraph 20, the Government can limit imports by a quota if there is danger to the home trade. According to paragraph 23, the agreed rate of tariff reduction can be slowed up if harm is being done to a particular trade. Paragraph 41 deals with a different aspect of the position.

One of the things which the paper-makers require is a free and fair market for their pulp, which they require to make their paper. At present, there are, I think, cartels in Sweden and Norway which may artificially reduce the price of pulp to the Swedish manufacturers. I think that I am right in saying that by paragraph 41, which deals with restrictive practices, these cartels will have to be abolished and there must be the same price paid for pulp by the Swedish and Norwegian manufacturers as by the British manufacturers. Therefore, there will be a fair market for the pulp. The British paper manufacturer, being nearer his own market for home consumption, ought to reap some benefit from that if we bear in mind that the British paper manufacturers' market is at home and the Swedes and Norwegians will have to bear the cost of insurance, freight and so on.

Finally, there is a further safeguard. In paragraph 44 it is definitely laid down that members can take anti-dumping action if anything goes wrong and one of the seven nations does not play the game. We are free to retain, each of us, our anti-dumping regulations.

I do not think that the paper-making trade has much to fear, bearing in mind that the tariff reductions are to be spread over a much longer period than was originally contemplated and all the safeguards exist for dealing with special difficulties.

Looking at it from the other point of view, the advantage to Scottish trade of the Stockholm Agreement seems to me to be overwhelmingly in favour of the Government entering into such an agreement. I do not want to go into this at length, because I believe that Scottish trade, the wool trade, for instance, will reap great advantages from it.

There is one aspect, if I may trespass on the time of the House, which worries me. The British forestry industry is expanding rapidly. In 1965, in Scotland alone, there will be an output of 18 million cu. ft. of timber, equivalent to about 645,000 tons. In 1975, there will be 28 million cu. ft. output from British forests, equivalent to about 950,000 tons. The British Forestry Commission is planting in the United Kingdom about 50,000 acres of trees a year and private woodland owners are planting 30,000 acres of trees a year. This process is going on and the marketing of that timber is a problem which I do not believe we have adequately thought out.

One outlet, and it may be the main outlet, from the thinnings of these vast acreages which are coming into marketable form in the next twenty years, will be pulp. This is a young, growing industry and I hope that the Government, in negotiating this "Little Seven" Agreement, will not do anything to hinder or hurt the output from British forests, because I believe that it is an industry which we ought to foster, being of very great importance for the Highlands of Scotland.

I hope that the suggestions made both by me in the Scottish Grand Committee on the 3rd July and by various noble Lords in another place on 28th July, reported in HANSARD, will be studied by my right hon. Friend and the Board of Trade with very great care to see that in spite of what is being done, which I support, in the "Little Seven" Agreement made at Stockholm, no action will be taken to impair confidence in the future of tree growing in this country either by the Forestry Commission or by private woodland owners.

We are doing out best, and woodland owners' associations have been formed in Scotland and England. We must not hinder or hurt their efforts. I believe that there will be very great benefit to employment in the Highlands of Scotland if nothing is done which might hinder or hurt this new industry which will be growing into such importance in the next twenty years. I would only add that the Forestry Commission and the British taxpayer are as much interested in this as anyone else today. It is in the interest of the taxpayers, as much as anything, that I make this plea.

1.40 p.m.

Mr. E. G. Willis
(Edinburgh, East)