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Commons Chamber

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 9th May, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]


Hotel Licences, Ross And Cromarty

I beg to ask leave to present a Petition on behalf of the majority of the residents of Invergordon in my constituency. The Petition draws attention to the anomaly that the local licensing authority is treated quite differently from any other licensing authority, except Dumfries, in Scotland.

It showeth that the Petitioners are aggrieved by the decision of the Secretary of State for Scotland by which he refused to consent to the approval of the Licensing Court for Ross and Cromarty of the application by Mrs. Thomson, Salson Hotel, Invergordon, for a hotel licence. The Petition concludes:
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that the said Licensing Court be empowered to approve applications for hotel licences in the Cromarty Firth State Management Area to provide adequate facilities for the growing tourist traffic and also local requirements in the said area.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

To lie upon the Table.

School Accommodation, Moodiesburn

I beg to ask leave to present a Petition on behalf of my constituents in the village of Moodiesburn, Lanarkshire.

My constituents in Moodiesburn are seriously perturbed at the lack of adequate school accommodation for their children. This is a new housing area with a little over 900 houses. The people have been brought in from surrounding villages where the county council found it impossible to build houses because of the mineral situation. These people have not only had to leave their own villages but they now find that the education of their children is in serious jeopardy. This has been caused by lack of adequate financial assistance in the general grant for the building of schools.

Lanarkshire Education Authority, in accordance with a circular from the Scottish Education Department, worked out a programme which would cost £16 million. It now finds that under general grant it will receive less than £7 million. Representations have been made to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, but no relief is being given and schools which were to have been built in Moodiesburn are no longer to be built. It is for that reason that out of this community of 900 houses, 1,366 of my constituents have signed this Petition. The Petition concludes:
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that immediate steps be taken to make it possible for Lanarkshire Education Authority to provide this school.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

To lie upon the Table.

Oral Answers To Questions

Trade And Commerce

Eggs (Imports From Poland And Roumania)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if the sales of Polish eggs in Great Britain in the week be ginning 1st May were reduced to not more than 18,000 boxes, in accordance with the undertaking given to him by the Polish authorities; and if he will state the current sales of Roumanian eggs in the British market.

I understand from the Polish authorities that for technical reasons 18,900 boxes of Polish eggs were in fact sold in the shell egg market in the week beginning the 1st May. Shipments of Roumanian eggs are well under 1,000 boxes per week.

Can my right hon. Friend tell us what is the meaning of this phrase "for technical reasons"? Will he recall that only ten days ago the President of the Board of Trade gave a definite undertaking that the sales of Polish eggs would not be more than 18,000 cases? The number has now been reduced to 11,000 cases from this week onwards, but we do not want any fiddling about for technical reasons. Can my right hon. Friend say what this means?

We did not require the Poles to limit their sales to these figures, but that is what they told us they would do. They regret that they sold quantities in excess of that stated. The reason was that there was trouble over a ship which was delayed in handling cargo because of the dock strike. The Poles have told us that future sales of 11,000 cases a week will be reduced to take account of the excess of 900 boxes which were sold.

Kilwinning Industrial Estate


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the total cost of site preparation and servicing of Kilwinning industrial estate in the constituency of Central Ayrshire.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this site was prepared and serviced during the period of office of the Labour Government, which also provided the one factory which is as yet on the site? Would not it be a good thing if the Board of Trade were to follow the excellent example of Irvine Town Council, by providing suitable buildings on the rest of this industrial estate, ensuring that they are utilised in the way in which the council has utilised its buildings in the area? Would not this attract industrialists from over a wide area?

I will take note of that suggestion. The original factory is now being extended to accommodate about double the number of workers.

Cotton Goods (Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will circulate details of the importation of cotton piece goods and yarns for the first quarter of 1961 from the main exporting sources including Hong Kong; and if he will make a statement on the refusal of the Hong Kong cotton textile industry to renew the voluntary undertaking given by it to the Cotton Board on 31st December, 1958, regarding limitation on the export of cotton goods from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures of imports from the major supplying countries. My right hon. Friend has seen reports in the Press that the Hong Kong industry is not willing to renew the present undertaking when it expires in January, 1962, but, so far as he is aware, there has not yet been any direct communication between the Hong Kong industry and the Cotton Board. In the opinion of the Government it would be most regrettable if it does not prove possible to continue to deal with the problem by way of inter-industry agreement. The Government believe that an inter-industry agreement would be in the best interest of Hong Kong and Lancashire alike.

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress on the President of the Board of Trade the need for more modern organisational and marketing arrangements? Will his right hon. Friend also keep in touch with, or consult, the trade unions concerned in this vital question? In view of President Kennedy's action, has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about the forthcoming international conference between importing and exporting countries on the subject?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend maintains close touch with all representatives of the industry. I should like to see a Question on the Order Paper about President Kennedy's proposal.

The following are the figures:


Main Supplying Countries

Cotton Cloth*
India62·6million square yards
Hong Kong20·2million square yards
Spain16·3million square yards
Japan16·3million square yards
Total Imports176·4million square yards
Cotton Yarn
India3·1million lbs.
Spain2·6million lbs.
Hong Kong1·1million lbs.
Italy1·0million lbs.
Total11·8million lbs.

* These figures relate to grey cloth only. They include grey cloth for finishing and re-export. Total imports of cotton piece goods of all kinds were 224 million square yards but a complete analysis by country of source is not yet readily available.

Resale Price Maintenance (Questionnaires)


asked the President of the Board of Trade which organisations have been asked by him to distribute questionnaires on resale price maintenance to their members; and if he is satisfied that the selected bodies will provide a truly representative sample of opinions.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of those organistions whose help the Board of Trade enlisted for the purpose of circulating the official questionnaires to retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. Care was taken to impress upon all concerned the importance of ensuring that all types of interest were included. The answers returned are being scutinised with the same end also in view. I am glad to take this opportunity of thanking all those who have helped us by sending out questionnaires and by answering them.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the National Union of Towns-women's Guilds in included in the list of organisations?

The National Union of Townswomen's Guilds is not in the list. That organisation sent out a questionnaire, but we felt it necessary to point out that there was some danger that it might be thought to be an official questionnaire, and the union very readily corrected it. We are grateful to the N.U.T.G. for the interest it has shown.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this kind of ad hoc inquiry would perhaps give misleading results? Would he consider following up the commendable initiative of the N.U.T.G. by arranging for a wider and more scientific inquiry, so that we can find out what the views of housewives really are about fixed prices?

That has been considered, but there are great difficulties in drafting questions which would get answers which would not be biased in some way or other.

Following is the statement:

Primary distribution of the Board's questionnaires to retailers was undertaken by the National Chamber of Trade, the Parliamentary Committee of the Cooperative Union, the Retail Distributors' Association and the Multiple Shops Federation. These organisations distributed the Board's questionnaires either directly or through other representative member organisations throughout the country. Distribution of questionnaires to wholesalers was effected by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce through its affiliated chambers. The Board of Trade, in consultation with the Federation of British Industries and the National Union of Manufacturers, selected manufacturers to whom questionnaires were dispatched. A number of questionnaires were also sent to individuals and firms who asked for them.

Committee On Consumer Protection


asked the President of the Board of Trade what additional questions he has asked the Committee on Consumer Protection to consider since the Committee was appointed; when he expects the Committee to report; and if he will consider asking for interim reports on the more important questions arising either from the original terms of reference or subsequent submissions.

The Answer to the first part of the Question is, "None, Sir". My right hon. Friend understands that, if the Committee's present plans are not disturbed, there is some hope that its report may be ready in the early months of next year, though it is too soon for a firm prediction. He doubts the wisdom of seeking interim reports on particular aspects of consumer protection.

Is the hon. Gentleman's reply to the first part of my Question correct? We have had statements in the House on other questions which have been submitted to the Committee for its investigation. Would he not agree that, as this Committee has been on the job now for two years, it might be helpful to it to ask it to publish interim reports, much on the same lines as the Report which it published on safety regulations?

It is not true that we have asked the Committee to investigate further questions. We have, however, from time to time sent it further evidence. In answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, the danger is, again, that we should simply hold up the inquiries if we asked the Committee to find, at the present time, answers to particular questions which we might put to it. We think it better that it should get along in accordance with its plans.

In view of the fact that the last interim Report brought out some amazing information, which resulted in some action being taken, does not the hon. Gentleman think that some "headaches" which have been sent to the Committee for consideration could be dealt with almost at once? In this way, something could be done without our having to wait for a very long time.

Most of these questions are, in some way or another, related. We think it better to allow the Committee to consider them all together.

Pekin (Trade Fair)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will seek to arrange for a British Trade Fair to be held in Pekin.

The organisation of trade fairs is primarily a matter for industry, and I am, therefore, passing on the hon. Member's suggestion to the trade bodies concerned.

While welcoming that reply, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that some of us have been employed in manufacturing large-scale electrical plant and equipment for China for many years? Is he aware that many of China's leading electrical engineers were employed and trained amongst us? There is enormous goodwill in this. Has not the time arrived when we should be doing something on the lines I have suggested?

I am sure that what the hon. Gentleman has said will be considered by the trade, to whom I am referring his proposal.

British Trade Fair, Moscow


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will assist all persons in the United Kingdom who so desire to visit the British Trade Fair in Moscow, and to assist in this respect parties or representatives of firms who have exhibits in the fair; and if, in order to promote the United Kingdom export trade, he will arrange for films to be taken of the fair.

My right hon. Friend has no reason to suppose that persons in the United Kingdom who wish to travel to Moscow to see the British Trade Fair will be unable to do so. As he told the House on the 30th March, no special facilities have been arranged to enable people to attend the fair. I understand that some films of the fair will be taken.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this fair will probably be the largest ever held in Russia, and that there is great interest among managements and workpeople in this country about it? Does not he also agree that they have taken great pride in our exhibits? Would it not be a good idea to encourage this kind of thing by such visitations as this?

Yes, Sir. It is a very pleasant proposal, and it is surely for the firms concerned to make any arrangements they wish.

Development Projects, Scotland


asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he intends taking to increase development projects by the National Research and Development Corporation in Scotland.

My right hon. Friend has already asked the Corporation to bear the needs of Scotland in mind when placing contracts. The Corporation sends the Scottish Council each week a list of the inventions which it is making available for commercial licensing.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Appendix 2 of the Report of the National Research and Development Corporation, thirty-five projects are reviewed, but that only one of them is in Scotland? Is it not disgraceful that a Government Department should finance development and research in thirty-five projects and that all but one of them should be in England when the need in Scotland is so great?

The difficulty is that the choice of firms with which to place contracts for development is liable to be restricted to a small number particularly interested in this kind of work. The choice is not wide open, nor can the Corporation itself set up firms to develop the various inventions.

According to the list, the majority of these projects are in university institutions and technical colleges. There are plenty of universities and technical colleges in Scotland, yet only one project is in Scotland—in Glasgow—and the rest are in the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London and at other universities in the South.

I am quite certain that the Corporation will take note of what the hon. Member has said. I have said that we have drawn the attention of the Corporation to the needs of Scotland in this respect.

New Factories, Durham


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications have so far been made to his Department for new factories in Durham County; how many have been granted; and what are the prospects for new factory building in 1961–62.

Since the Local Employment Act came into force, thirteen applications for new Board of Trade factories in County Durham have been received; of these eight were approved, but four were subsequently withdrawn by the applicants. Three are now being considered. The applications approved for new factories and extensions built by the Board of Trade, excluding the withdrawals, provide for 488,000 sq. ft. of space, but I cannot say how much of this building will be completed in 1961–62. If the last part of the Question refers to all new factories or extensions, whether privately financed or Government financed, there have been seventy-two applications for I.D.C.s covering 1,716,000 sq. ft. in the last twelve months.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am very grateful for that reply? Could he say whether any representations have been made about the disused Army site which is not in operation at the moment? Have any representations been made that his Department should take over that site from the War Office for use for industrial development? If not, will the hon. Gentleman make representations to his regional office to see what inquiries can be set in motion about such a development?

I should like to have notice of that question. Offhand, I should say that the Board of Trade can take over sites only if they are in development districts.

Can my hon. Friend say what all this means in terms of jobs and extra employment? Could he go out of his way to visit us in Sunderland to see a new factory which is about to be opened there in the near future?

I should be glad to do anything the hon. Member invites me to do, if at all possible. The total number of jobs in prospect in the county is 14,500.



asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the number of bankruptcies for the years 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960; and how these figures compare with 1951 to 1954.

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

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether the figures are up or down? Has he any opinion as to the reasons for such bankruptcies?

Last year the figures were up, but I do not think that it would be safe to draw any deductions from one year alone.

Will my hon. Friend say what is the position in regard to the revision of the out-of-date law on this subject in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee which considered it and reported some years ago?

The figures are as follows:


European Economic Community


asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the changed situation concerning the Common Market, if he will institute a detailed study of the likely advantages and disadvantages to United Kingdom trade if Great Britain were to join the European Economic Community.

I am not certain what "changed situation" the hon. Member has in mind, but we have constantly under study the likely advantages and disadvantages to United Kingdom trade of various possible forms of closer economic association in Europe.

Does not the Minister of State think that it would be useful to communicate to a wider sphere, particularly the House of Commons, what some of those advantages and disadvantages are? This movement has gone on for some time now. We have had almost incomprehensible statements of an unhelpful nature from the President of the Board of Trade. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be more useful to set out in a White Paper some of the obvious advantages and some of the disadvantages there may be for us, so that we may understand the problem?

The basic facts about our trade are available from a number of publications. I shall be glad to give the hon. Member the details. As to the wider suggestion of a White Paper, I doubt whether it would have any value at present, but I will make sure that the suggestion is brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend.

Factory, Glenrothes


asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations have been made to him concerning the prospect of a factory closure in Glenrothes, Fife; and whether he will make a statement on this development.

The owner of the factory concerned has recently outlined his difficulties to the Board of Trade Office for Scotland, but my right hon. Friend has no power to give assistance in such cases as this.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that this is just the kind of case in which Board of Trade help would be beneficial, not only to the owner, but to the people employed there? Is he aware that Mr. Thomson came to see me on Sunday and that he outlined a very promising venture? All he needs is a little help from the President of the Board of Trade. Will the right hon. Gentleman urgently reconsider the matter in view of the great psychological importance of it in the new town?

I do not think that my right hon. Friend could reconsider this particular case because he has no powers as Glenrothes is not in a development district.

Companies (Solicitation Of Money Deposits)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the reasons for delay in introducing legislation to regulate the solicitation of money deposits by companies; and when he intends to introduce such legislation.

The reason is the difficulty of framing requirements, particularly as regards the contents of the accounts to be published, which will give the depositor an adequate measure of protection without being unduly burdensome or hampering to legitimate business. As regards the latter part of the Question, I regret that I am not in a position to add to previous replies on this subject.

While appreciating the difficulties and the points which my hon. Friend has made, may I ask if he is aware that legislation on this subject was first foreshadowed four and a half years ago in the Queen's Speech of 1956? Does not he think it time that we had legislation on this subject? Will he and his Department kindly look at the matter again to see if we can have legislation during this Session, as has already been promised?

We are looking at the matter all the time. The basic trouble is that there are many ways in which this control might be effected and we have to examine all of them with the greatest of care.

London Dock Strike


asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the loss caused to the export trade by the recent London dock strike.

We have lost some export trade, but my right hon. Friend can make no estimate of the amount. Nor can he estimate the damage caused by delays in deliveries to overseas customers for the second time within six months.

Is it not the case that when it is working the Port of London is an efficient port? Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps he is taking in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour to try to iron out the difficulties when a few men are obstructive and there is loss to the country as a whole?

The Rochdale Committee will be looking into all aspects of working at the docks, including management-labour relations.

Should not this strike illustrate to importers and business people the folly of concentrating so much traffic in the Port of London when they could make use of other ports in other parts of the country which have a better record of labour relations, including the South Wales ports and, above all, the Port of Barry?


Geological Survey Board (Geophysical Department)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will give details of the staff employed by the Geophysical Department of the Geological Survey Board.

Seven scientists are employed, and four more scientists are being recruited. Ancillary staff are provided as a common service to all branches of the Geological Survey and Museum.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a need to expand the department much more because we still need a proper geophysical survey of the country's resources? Will he try to recruit on a larger scale?

I fully agree with the hon. Member that we should do more than we are doing at present. There has been great difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified staff for geophysical work in face of commercial competition and the attractions of research in the universities, but, as I said in my original Answer, we are doing our best to recruit four more scientists.

Machine Tool Industry, Scotland


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science to what extent he is supporting scientific research in the machine tool industry in Scotland.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research supports the Machine Tool Industry Research Association and the Production Engineering Research Association, both of which carry out research in this field and have Scottish members. Research of direct value to the machine tool industry in Scotland is carried out at the National Engineering Laboratory, East Kilbride, and also in the National Physical Laboratory. In addition, a research grant on the mechanics of metal cutting has been made to Glasgow University.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the light engineering industry in increasingly having to look abroad, to Italy, France, Germany and the United States, for machine tools because of the shortage and lack of modern machine tools in this country? Will he and his Department take more energetic steps to see that there is more scientific research and development on machine tools, not only in Scotland, but in the United Kingdom as a whole?

I fully agree with the hon. Member that more research and development are needed in future than has been the case in the past in this industry. However, we have only recently set up the Machine Tool Industry Research Association and we have very great hopes of it.

University Research


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what is the percentage of the total national expenditure on research and development which is allocated to university research.

Expenditure on research and development at universities is incurred at their discretion and is not determined by allocation. The Advisory Council on Scientific Policy recently estimated that in 1958–59 expenditure at universities amounted to about 5 per cent. of the total national expenditure on research and development. The proportion of basic research which is done in universities is, of course, much larger than this.

Does not this figure of 5 per cent. compare very unfavourably with the amount allocated in the United States, which is about 9 per cent., and, in view of the fact that the universities are responsible for the best fundamental research as a whole, should not greater assistance be given to them?

I think that one has to be careful in talking of any of these percentages, first, because it is very difficult within a university allocation to allocate that part of a man's salary, that proportion of the cost of buildings, and to say how much is to be considered the cost of research and how much the cost of teaching. Secondly, it is a fact that basic research, which is just that type of research upon which the universities particularly specialise, costs much less than applied research and very much less than development.

Cancer Research


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, in view of the fact that progress in cancer research is limited, not by lack of finance but by the number of experienced scientists available, what plans he has for extending the provisions for post-graduate research in the life sciences.

The main bar to rapid progress is neither a lack of funds nor a shortage of experienced scientists engaged on the problem, but a relative lack of new ideas and promising leads. My noble Friend will give his full support to any encouraging new lines of study.

As regards post-graduate research financial support continues to be provided by the Medical Research Council to an increasing number of research workers in aid of an extensive programme of clinical and laboratory investigations. A list of these will be found in the Council's last report.

While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for his Answer, may I ask him whether he does not agree that if we want to have promising ideas and new methods of approach it may well be necessary to have suitable men who are capable of delivering them to us? Does not that mean that we must give more money to promising young people in this form of science?

We do, of course, continually increase year by year the amount of money we spend directly, through the Medical Research Council, upon cancer research. The figure has risen from £175,000 in 1949–50 to £650,000 in 1960–61, and I am advised by the Council that merely to devote more staff to this research would not guarantee any advance towards a solution of this problem and might well retard solutions being found to other scourges of humanity.

Would my hon. Friend fully accept the statement contained in the Question that cancel research is in no way limited for lack of funds?

Nuclear Reactors (Research)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he has now reached a decision with regard to the application from the London University Imperial College of Science and Technology for permission to build a low-power nuclear reactor.

The Government has approved in principle the provision of three reactors, which will be available to Universities and Colleges of Technology for teaching and research. One will be sited in Scotland and one in Lancashire. It is proposed to site the third in the London area. This will be available to the Imperial College as to other institutions in London. Negotiations on arrangements are continuing.

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that we are being very late in supplying these low-power nuclear reactors? Can he give the House some definite date on which they are supposed to be erected?

Yes, indeed; it is to be for the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. As regards the exact site, I should like the hon. Gentleman to put a Question on the Order Paper in order that I may be absolutely accurate.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that sites have been fixed for the reactor to be used by Liverpool and Manchester Universities and, therefore, can he state where it is to be exactly, because two years ago he was given an indication about the arrangements made for Liverpool and Manchester?

I admit that there has been considerable delay since the projects were first mooted, but this has been necessary in order that we should decide where best to locate the reactors in order that they could be put to the maximum amount of use by the various universities and the colleges of technology. We could not possibly permit, with public funds, reactors to be allocated for every single institution of higher education.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will give details of research being conducted in the development of small and medium nuclear reactors.

I am advised by the Atomic Energy Authority that it is not at present developing small and medium reactors.

Is the Minister aware that only recently a factory which produces small reactors, and its research organisation, was closed down: namely, the Hawker-Siddeley nuclear power research centre at Langley? In view of the fact that the Americans now have a virtual monopoly in the export of small reactors, when are we going to do something about it?

Small reactors, and in fact medium reactors, have already been designed by commercial undertakings. There is the point of the work which the Authority ought to do. As nuclear power is very dependent on economies of scale, and as the prospects of achieving competitive nuclear power in this country within the next ten years are based on building units of large generating capacity, it is surely right that the main emphasis of the Authority's attack should be on problems relating to that. On the other hand, the Authority is undertaking research into a large number of fields of study which would be applicable both to small and large reactors.

While we recognise that the Authority must do the main research on power reactors, this specialised field is now being neglected. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have given the Minister an example of one major firm which has been doing remarkable work in this field, and yet now it has closed down and nothing is being done?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is inaccurate in his final statement, but if he cares to put a specific Question on the Order Paper, I will look into it and make certain of the degree of his inaccuracy.

Medical Research (Cardiovascular Disease)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what knowledge has been gained by the Medical Research Council about the relationship between the hardness of local water supplies and mortality from diseases of the heart and arteries.

A recent statistical inquiry undertaken by the council in the county boroughs of England and Wales has shown that the death-rate from cardiovascular disease tends to be higher in areas with soft water supplies. It is not yet known, however, whether the relationship between water softness and cardiovascular disease is one of cause and effect.

Hydrofoil Craft


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what official United Kingdom experiments have been made with hydrofoil ships; what were the results; what were the maximum speeds obtained; and what are the plans for future development of ships with under-water wings.

No research work specifically concerned with hydrofoil craft has been carried out since the war by D.S.I.R. Some experiments have been made at the National Physical Laboratory to measure the performance characteristics of foil sections considered suitable for propeller blades. The results so obtained are of general value and can be applied to non-cavitating type foils for hydrofoil craft.

Is it not astonishing that a country with our maritime traditions has done virtually nothing in this field, in view of reports of what has been achieved in Scandinavia and, indeed, in the United States, where they are already contemplating quite large sea-going vessels travelling at very high speeds indeed?

I do not think it is fair to say that we have done nothing in this country, since the National Physical Laboratory has undertaken basic investigation into fully cavitating and ventilated hydrofoils. I would also remind my hon. Friend that this country holds the world's water speed record with Bluebird, which uses hydrofoils.

Ministry Of Works

Military Knights' Houses, Windsor


asked the Minister of Works on what basis the rents of the Military Knights' Houses at Windsor are determined for those tenants who pay rent to him; and what has been the outlay of his Department on such houses in each of the last five years.

As the Answer is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the Minister aware that this Order was founded in 1348, and that the time for looking at it again is probably now due? Is he further aware that these Knights still receive a stipend, still receive their uniforms and quarters at Windsor, plus their Army pensions, that some, in fact, do not pay rates, and that some of them sit on Windsor Borough Council—

Order. The Minister has no responsibility for who sits on Windsor Borough Council.

He is responsible, Mr. Speaker, but does not answer, because he has not answered 112 letters which I sent him a week ago.

The hon. Member knows that he can only, in order, ask Questions in respect of which there is Ministerial responsibility. I do not want to rule him out of order altogether on that, but he must confine himself within that principle.

Can the Minister say why there is nearly £2,000 in his Estimates for the repair and maintenance of these houses, which shows an increase of more than 30 per cent. on last year, whether in fact the Knights pay rates or whether the houses are subject to the Rent Act?

As I have said, I will put the whole Answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not now?"] The reason I do not give it now is to save the time of the House.

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

Following is the Answer:

Rents of four houses of the Lower Foundation are assessed by my Department in accordance with the terms of the Rent Restriction Act of 1957; the fifth house was let in 1957 at a rent based on the market value which is above the controlled limit. I receive 20 per cent. of these rents towards the cost of maintenance and repairs to the structure. The cost of such maintenance and repair of the five houses in each of the last five years has been £390, £175, £240, £230 and £250. Tenants are themselves responsible for internal decoration and repair.

Ancient Monuments And Historic Buildings (Opening Hours)


asked the Minister of Works whether he will arrange for all of his Department's buildings open to the public to be opened for the full period of summer time in April and October on both Sundays and weekdays for the same hours as during the period from May to September.

Opening hours at ancient monuments and historic buildings in my right hon. Friend's care are regularly reviewed in the light of demand. In most parts of the country the likely demand would not in my view warrant the extra cost of extending the hours of admission. There may, however, be a few cases where extension would be justified and I am considering this.

As we have extended British Summer Time in order to try to persuade tourists to come to this country, surely we should give the tourists the benefit of that extra time when they do come here?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong in thinking that the hours of opening have in the past been related to British Summer Time. They have, in fact, been related to public demand which, I think, depends much more on the season of the year—holidays, and things of that kind.

Local Government

Flood Relief Funds (Government Contributions)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT an up-to-date list of contributions which Her Majesty's Government have made to local relief funds for the alleviation of distress resulting from flood disasters in 1960; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs
(Mr. Henry Brooke)

I will, as requested, circulate the list in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Exchequer payments on account amounting to over £690,000 have been made to thirty-one local flood relief funds. Total voluntary contributions to all local flood funds exceed £210,000.

Of the £1,500,000 voted in 1960–61, £652,442 18s. 8d. was issued as grant-in-aid up to 31st March. The balance was surrendered.

Exchequer payments continue to be made as required. The money will be accounted for on the main Vote of my Department, where it will be shown as grant-in-aid. Parliament will be asked to sanction this expenditure by means of a supplementary Estimate for 1961–62 to be presented in due course. Pending the voting of supply, issues are being made from money advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that very full Answer, but is he absolutely convinced that all claims by private persons are being, or will be, met happily and satisfactorily? Can he say what the total liability on the Government in this respect will be?

I cannot yet judge what the total liability will be. I have every reason to believe that the flood relief funds are dealing absolutely fairly with all the claims made, but until the claims have all been assessed and settled, no one could put a total to them.

Following is the list of net Exchequer advances to local flood funds:

Bath Flood Relief Fund60,00000
Bathavon Flood Relief Fund2,15000
Beaminster R.D. Flood Relief Fund3,65000
Bridgwater R.D. Flood Relief Fund1,725510
Bridport B. and R.D. Flood Relief Fund2,30000
Brotherton (Osgoldcross R.D.) Flood Relief Fund4700
Calne Flood Relief Fund10000
Cottam (East Retford R.D.) Flood Relief Fund15,778710
Denby Parish Flood Relief Fund711140
Devon and Exeter Flood Relief Fund140,00000
Dulverton R.D. Flood Relief Fund3,75000
Eastleigh Flood Relief Fund35000
Frome U.D. Flood Relief Fund14420
Heanor U.D. Flood Relief Fund8951110
Hereford City and County Flood Relief Fund28,20000
Horncastle Flood Relief Fund35,60000
Keynsham Flood Relief Fund1,02000
Lewes Flood Relief Fund10,70000
Maidstone Flood Relief Fund50000
Isle of Wight Flood Relief Fund10,61800
Norton-Radstock U.D. Flood Relief Fund2,25000
Repton R.D. Flood Relief Fund1,40000
Romsey B. Flood Relief Fund18800
S.E. Derbyshire Flood Relief Fund6,072168
Shrewsbury Flood Relief Fund6,00000
Taunton B. and R.D. Flood Relief Fund5,00000
Wales and Monmouthshire Flood Relief Fund335,00000
Warmley R.D. Flood Relief Fund1,40000
Wenlock B. Flood Relief Fund40000
Williton R.D. Flood Relief Fund16,00000
Wincanton R.D. Flood Relief Fund114143

Gas Liquor (River Foliation)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will make a further statement on research into the question of gas liquor and its effect on river pollution.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Local Government
(Sir Keith Joseph)

I can add little to the information sent to the hon. Lady last October. I understand the pilot scheme at Southall is showing encouraging results, but that it is too soon to reach any firm conclusions after only a few months' trial.

But does not the Parliamentary Secretary realise how very important this is to every local authority? Is he aware that Stoke faces a dreadful situation, and that unless something is done about this gas liquor a whole sewerage system may be put out of operation, when a local authority such as ours will be faced with a colossal bill? Can he not do something more urgent about it?

The hon. Lady should be encouraged by the preliminary results, but those doing the research cannot command results; they can only go on with research.

Holiday Camp Project (Stansgate)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware of the projected holiday camp development at Stansgate, Essex, and of the threat that it represents to the amenities of the Blackwater estuary; and if he will take steps to protect this hitherto relatively unspoiled coast from such development.

My right hon. Friend understands that the local planning authority has such a proposal under consideration. He has no doubt that it will have due regard to its effect upon amenity, and since it would involve a substantial departure from the development plan, that it would not grant permission without consulting him.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, when that consultation takes place, the Minister will bear in mind that besides this project there are a number of applications for caravan sites in the neighbourhood, and that there is a serious risk that this unspoiled stretch of river quite near London will be turned into just a swarming shanty-town unless he does something about it?

I must be careful, since this may come to my right hon. Friend for decision, but my right hon. Friend would not be likely to give consent for this without a public inquiry.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the concern there is about the amenities of the countryside in other parts of Essex as well? Is he in touch with the Civic Trust in such matters? It seems that the Trust's advice should be sought about a great deal of the development at present taking place in the countryside.

My right hon. Friend's status has to be preserved because of his appeal jurisdiction and, of course, such amenity interests can be represented at inquiries.

As this area is in my constituency, can my hon. Friend look very carefully at the whole planning position? We have the Central Electricity Authority taking one line, and barring planning in one area, and now we have this other problem in the coastal areas.




asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs in view of estimates now being made that immigrants this year may reach 150,000, what special arrangements he is making to provide houses or flats for such a number additional to the present housing programme.

As the great majority of immigrants on arrival do not need family accommodation, I do not think that there is warrant for the assumption that new houses and flats should be built in proportion to the numbers entering the country. So far as families are concerned, it is the practice of local authorities to assist the rehousing of settled immigrants in the ordinary course of their slum clearance and other housing activities, and I am sure that they will continue to do so.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that these immigrants want accommodation somewhere, and that the building trade's present and future programme is fully stretched? Would he tell his right hon. Friends and colleagues that we cannot take 150,000 persons this year on top of our present housing programme?

I do not know the basis of my hon. Friend's estimate of 150,000. I certainly would not be a party to any special building on grounds of race or colour. I think that by far the best thing is for us to maintain a high standard of building.

Landlord And Tenant Act, 1958


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that many of the county court judges in London, the Home Counties and some provincial areas are gravely concerned at the impending expiry of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1958, on 31st July next when they will no longer have any powers to give protection to tenants of decontrolled premises on hardship grounds; and whether, in view of their especial knowledge of the day to day working of this Act, he will consult with such county court judges as to the desirability of extending the Act for a further period.

Neither my right hon. Friend, the Lord Chancellor nor I have received any representations from county court judges. I do not think that any special action is called for.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the county court judges do not think it part of their business to initiate legislation? They do not approach the Lord Chancellor or my right hon. Friend—they approach us, so that we can put it to my right hon. Friend. Will he hastily initiate some discussion on these lines because, although the cases of hardship may be limited, those that are hard are very hard, and something must be done to protect these people? We do not propose to stand by while an old gentleman of 86 in my constituency—with a crippled daughter in her sixties—who has been 61 years in the same house, is about to be thrown out. That will not be done without protest.

The number of cases coming to the courts under this Act is, in fact, falling all the time. If there is any question of the owner of the house seeking an extortionate rent the local authority can make a compulsory purchase order. If it is a case of some very old person, such as my hon. and learned Friend has mentioned, who cannot otherwise get accommodation, that is unquestionably the sort of case in which the local authority ought to take special action.

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that the necessity for this Act arose because he under-estimated the hardships that would be caused by the Rent Act? It would be a great pity to cause further hardship by making a similar under-estimate on this occasion.



asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what answer he is sending to the Cardiff City Council's proposal that a national scheme of insurance should be set up to cover all risks not normally covered by the ordinary comprehensive householder or personal accident policies.

This suggestion will certainly be considered. But I am not in a position to make a statement.

Would the Minister consider calling in the insurance companies as well as the local authorities for a discussion of how this comprehensive system of insurance might be made really comprehensive, instead of being as it is at the moment?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will leave this with me for the time being. Statements have been made that the Government are looking at the whole problem in the round now that the winter floods are over. I have not anything further that I can say, but I am quite ready to follow up all suggestions, including that of the hon. Gentleman.

Compulsory Purchase


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that it is now possible for private landlords, in an area to be acquired compulsorily by a local authority for redevelopment, to spend substantial amounts of money on improvement of a house and soon afterwards to claim compensation at market value when the house is demolished; and whether he is considering legislation to prevent this.

It is already provided in paragraph 8 (5) of the Third Schedule to the Housing Act, 1957, that improvements effected after notice is given of a compulsory purchase order, and carried out with a view to increasing compensation, must be ignored in assessing compensation.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether it is his policy to confirm compulsory purchase orders made by local authorities on residential property under the Housing Act, 1957, in order to prevent the eviction of a tenant, in circumstances where the rent asked by the landlord is over five times the gross annual value.

I think it would be unwise to take any particular multiple of gross value as the point at which rents of decontrolled properties can be said to be exorbitant. Values of property have risen since 1939, more in some places than in others. Moreover, the other conditions of the tenancy need to be examined as well as the rent demanded. Each case has to be decided on its merits.

Is the Minister aware that he has just refused to confirm a compulsory purchase order in a case in my constituency where the family is being evicted under the Rent Act and where the borough council has asked for a compulsory purchase order and where the rent being asked is more than five times the gross annual value?

This is a case in which the borough council made a compulsory purchase order and partly, at any rate, as a result of that, the rent being asked has been reduced from £400 to £300. That rent, which includes a sum for landlord services, I calculate at four and a half times the gross value.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case which I have in mind he has refused to confirm the compulsory purchase order and that the rent being asked is in fact five times the gross annual value? Will he undertake, if that is so, to look at the case again?

We are considering the same case, but the right hon. Gentleman calculates the rent at five times and I am allowing for the fact that, by common consent, the rent includes something for landlord's services.

Development Programmes (Parish Councils)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that rural district councils give advance information to parish councils regarding proposed future housing development programmes in their parishes.

Normally each parish is represented on the rural district council, and I would hardly have thought that special legislation to give effect to my hon. Friend's suggestion was justified.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that development is going on in rural villages where the villagers have had no knowledge of it at all? I know of one village, for example, which consists of a hundred houses and where plans for building another hundred, doubling the size, are well advanced. That will alter the whole character of the village, and it is causing bitter resentment among the villagers. Does that encourage local people to sit on parish councils?

I advise the people in that and other villages to vote at the rural district council elections this week, because every parish has its own representative on the rural district council.

European Economic Community (Agriculture)


asked the Prime Minister if his assurance to the hon. Member for Louth on 16th July, 1957, that the provisions of a free trade area in Europe would not whittle away the safeguards and protections enjoyed by British agriculture still holds good; and if he will make a statement.

As has been made quite clear, both in this House and outside, satisfactory arrangements in respect of the interests of British agriculture, our fellow members of the Commonwealth and our partners in the European Free Trade Association are a precondition of any closer association with the European Economic Community.

Does my right hon. Friend remember saying something even stronger to me about three years ago? He said:

"…the provisions of a Free Trade Area could not extend to agricultural products."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1957; Vol. 573, c. 943.]
Is he aware that the farmers in my constituency are getting rather nervous and fear that the bad old days of the 1930s are coming back again, and that they would be grateful to him for his reassurance that the protection which they have enjoyed will not be whittled away?

The negotiations then, of course, were about the European Free Trade Area, which specifically included agriculture. Those negotiations broke down. I want to make it quite clear that the interests of agriculture, the Commonwealth and of our partners in E.F.T.A. must be a precondition for any negotiations to be satisfactory.

Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that in any negotiations the principle of the tariff-free entry into this country of Commonwealth exports of raw material, as well as food, which is to the advantage of the British consumer as well as British agriculture, will be preserved by the Government?

Of course, all those matters will be fully taken into account, but we have not yet reached that point. We have had some preliminary discussions with officials to see whether there is a possibilty of negotiations being successful, taking into account what we regard as necessary preconditions.

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the statement, re ported in today's issue of The Times to have been made by Professor Hallstein in Hamburg yesterday, to the effect that President Kennedy had made it clear to my right hon. Friend that only full membership of the Community—

That is out of order. A Minister cannot be asked to comment on a statement for which he is not responsible.

Would not the Prime Minister agree that we may get the worst of both worlds by a continued state of uncertainty? Can he say when Her Majesty's Government can make any definite statement about whether it is the intention or wish of Britain to enter the Common Market and what proposals will be put forward with a view to bringing to an end the division of Europe into two separate economic blocs?

We are having these various discussions in order to see whether there is a basis for negotiation to be likely to be successful. As I have said very often, and I think it is generally accepted, nothing could be worse than to have a long negotiation which then broke down. It would be better to try to get a general idea of whether there is a possibility of agreement on acceptable lines.

The Prime Minister referred to the talks which have been taking place between the French and British officials. Can he say something about the outcome of those talks and what the next stage of the discussions is likely to be?

I understand that some progress was made and there is to be a fresh meeting.

Elgin Marbles


asked the Prime Minister what conversations he has had with the Prime Minister of Greece regarding the return to that country of the Elgin Marbles removed from the Acropolis in Athens in 1799 and now at the British Museum.

The Prime Minister will be aware of the gratitude generated and the appreciation felt when we made a similar gesture in returning the national treasures of Ethiopia and Burma some time ago. Now that relations between the United Kingdom and Greece have returned to their former happy state, would not the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of first taking copies of these antiquities and then returning them, on grounds of generosity, to a very loyal ally, causing them to be restored to their former sites where they would certainly be likely to be seen by far more people, probably including far more British people, than they would by remaining in a musty room in the British Museum?

I will consider what the hon. Gentleman has said, but this is a complicated question and it can hardly be solved without careful consideration. I am told that it is thought by many experts that, after their many years of careful preservation in the British Museum, the Elgin Marbles are better in that position and are certainly seen by a much larger number of people than would be the case if they were returned. There is a problem and I will certainly not dismiss it from my mind, but this is a very important matter.

European Common Market


asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from Chancellor Adenauer concerning the possible entry of Great Britain into the Common Market; and what reply he has made.

I have had no communication on this subject from Chancellor Adenauer since our last talks. The Chancellor was then very helpful and that spirit has animated our subsequent talks with the Germans at the official level.

As Herr Adenauer has publicly stated that he would very much like Britain to join the European Common Market, and as the Government evidently wish to do the same thing, would it not be a good idea for the Prime Minister to get into communication with him and make use of his aid and support? Does he not agree with Lord Gladwyn that since the Government have decided to do this, every day that we delay means that the terms on which we join become progressively worse?

No, Sir. As I have said before, it is not a question of joining. If the hon. Member means that we should sign the Treaty of Rome and that is all, then that is quite impossible and we have never even considered it with our allies. What we have to decide is whether it would be possible to associate ourselves with membership of such an organisation, subject to a protocol or agreement reserving those important matters mentioned a moment ago.


asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from President Kennedy about exploratory talks between the President and President de Gaulle, with a view to preparing the ground for negotiations between the United Kingdom and French Governments on the political and economic implication of merging the European Free Trade Area and the European Economic Community.

Any communications of this nature which I might have would be confidential. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have observed in the agreed communiqué isued after my discussions with President Kennedy, we said that we recognised both the urgency and the importance of further steps towards the economic and political unity of Europe.

No doubt President Kennedy will speak in the same spirit in his talks with President de Gaulle.

Would the Prime Minister assure the House that, so far as he is concerned, he would understand that any intervention by President Kennedy with General de Gaulle on this problem would be based on Britain's entering the Common Market in agreement with her E.F.T.A. partners and having regard to her Commonwealth committments?

Yes, Sir, and the interests of British agriculture. All those have always been regarded as preconditions. The problem remains. It is a very difficult and technical problem, as those who have studied the details are aware, of whether this can be done. I have always thought that it could be done if there was a will on all sides to do it, but I recognise the difficulty and complication in any such negotiation.

Questions To Ministers

Mr. Speaker, in view of the importance of Question No. 53 and the Prime Minister's eagerness as expressed last week to answer a Question of this type, would you grant him permission to answer it now?

The House will appreciate that this practice is capable of defeating the rule about the time at which Questions end. I have to confine myself to occasions when the Minister asks leave to answer a Question, but that is not this case.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am fully seized of the importance of Question No. 53, but there is Question No. 44 which was beaten by a very short head. Because of the public interest in this matter, which far transcends the interest in Question No. 53, I wonder whether the Prime Minister might wish to make a statement on that and related Questions?

I am sure the hon. Member will understand that that illustrates, most happily for me, the difficulty into which I shall get unless I stand firmly by the rules.

Does not this show that it is time we moved Questions to the Prime Minister to a quarter past three instead of having the important Questions cut out?


On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I desire to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 on a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,

the need for the Prime Minister to give an assurance that all appropriate steps are being taken to strengthen Government security and that counter-espionage measures are being taken to prevent a recurrence of the case recently raised at the trial of George Blake.
It was my indention yesterday to attempt to move the Adjournment of the House on this matter, but urgent issues arising out of the latter part of the fourteenth century intervened and made that impossible. I think that it would be accepted by both sides of the House that there is extreme public anxiety over the state of the nation's security services at the present time. It is also, I think, accepted by both sides of the House that this is a matter of extreme urgency. I think, too, that persons of all views would accept that where about six major breaches in the security of the nation have occurred in a matter of weeks—

Order. I am unable to allow the hon. Member to make the speech which he would make were his application to be granted. I am sure that he will follow that and bear it in mind.

I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, and I accept your Ruling. May I, therefore, make the point briefly?

Many hon. Members believe that the Prime Minister would welcome an opportunity to deal with a matter which is so urgent, that it is impossible to deny the public importance of this, and that after this length of time the public are entitled to know exactly what measures Her Majesty's Government intend to take to meet this position.

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,

the need for the Prime Minister to give an assurance that all appropriate steps are being taken to strengthen Government security and that counter-espionage measures are being taken to prevent a recurrence of the case recently raised at the trial of George Blake.
I am unable to hold that this falls within the Standing Order.

Orders Of The Day

Covent Garden Market Bill

( Recommitted)

Considered in Committee.

[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

Unless any hon. Member wishes to raise a point about the first fifteen Clauses, with the consent of the Committee I propose to put the Question, "That Clauses 1 to 15 stand part of the Bill."

3.35 p.m.

As you know, Sir Gordon, this Bill went to a Select Committee. No doubt you read the proceedings of the Select Committee. It is a fabulous, intricate document. As a result of going to the Select Committee, Clause 2 and many others were amended. I do not want to waste time, but it would be of assistance if the Minister could tell us the effect on each Clause of the Amendments made in the Select Committee.

There was one major Amendment made in the Select Committee, dealing with the Finsbury lands, and there are a number of consequential Amendments flowing from that decision to take the Finsbury lands out of the Bill. Those were the only Amendments made to Clauses 1 to 15 in the Select Committee and perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if, as you suggest, Sir Gordon, we had a discussion on Clauses 1 to 15 to take in this major Amendment to which I have referred and all that flows from it.

It is fair to say that only one major Amendment was made in the Select Committee. I gather that we can discuss Clauses 1 to 15, or, Sir Gordon, do you want to put the Question on each Clause separately?

If the Committee agrees, I will put the Question, "That Clauses 1 to 15 stand part of the Bill." If the Committee does not accept that, I will put the Question on each Clause.

Clause 2 raises special points. As the Minister recognised, Clause 2 is now substantially different from Clause 2 of the Bill as we passed it on Second Reading.

I accept that, and I was suggesting that we should have a discussion on the Question, "That Clauses 1 to 15 stand part of the Bill." Indeed, I should like to open the discussion to explain what happened upstairs. I should like to explain this major Amendment from which consequential Amendments flow.

As a good deal of the discussion might centre round Clause 2, would it not be desirable to have the Question specifically put, "That Clause 2 stand part of the Bill."

That is what I am trying to find out. The Committee is entitled to have it Clause by Clause, and I will put it that way.

Clause 1—(The Covent Garden Market Authority)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Clause 1 sets up the Covent Garden Market Authority. Perhaps we could be told the composition of this Authority, some of its general powers, and how the Minister sees it working. Perhaps the Minister could give certain assurances which are needed by this side of the Committee, because I understand the position of this Authority is somewhat extraordinary. As I understand, once the Bill leaves the House of Commons this Authority will have enormous powers. We will not be able to ask questions about it.

For example, if I feel that the Authority is doing things inside the market to which I object, I understand that I shall not be able to question the Minister about what is happening. In the Select Committee, Mr. Gerald Gardiner, Q.C. argued on much the same lines about the setting up of this body, with enormous powers. We are unhappy about leaving the position there. Perhaps the Minister would give us some details of the Authority.

As the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) will know, Clause 1 was not amended during the Committee stage. It contains seven subsections. The first sets out that the Authority should be constituted on a certain day appointed by the Minister. Subsection (2) provides that the Authority shall consist of a chairman and a managing director and from three to six other members who would be appointed by the Minister.

As to its powers, the best analogy I can think of—I used it during the Second Reading debate—would be the Port of London Authority. It is true that the hon. Member would not be able to put down Questions in the House about the day-to-day activities of the Authority, but it will not be the only statutory authority of which that is true.

As I say, this Clause has not been changed.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2—(Vesting Of Market Lands)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

The Committee may wish to spend a little time on this Clause. It was on Clause 2 and the related Clauses and Preambles to it that the Select Committee had to spend so much time. We should appreciate the effect of the changes made in the Bill as a result of the considerations and recommendations of the Select Committee. For that purpose, it is necessary to look not only at Clause 2 of the Bill as it was presented on Second Reading, and compare it with the present text, but also to look at the Preamble to the Bill as it was on Second Reading and the Preamble to the Bill as it is now.

Clause 2 is bound up with the Preambles. If one looks at the Bill which was—

Order. We do not discuss the Preamble now. We are now discussing only Clause 2, although I appreciate that they are connected.

They are very much inter-connected, Sir Gordon. With respect, I submit that it might prove convenient for the Committee if we could refer at this stage to the Preamble in connection with Clause 2 rather than to have a separate discussion on the Preamble.

If the Committee understands that we shall not have a separate discussion on the Preamble, that would be satisfactory.

When the Bill was introduced and given a Second Reading it contained two Preambles, which were the basis of part of Clause 2. These Preambles have been omitted and hon. Members can follow this only if they have a copy of the Bill as originally introduced with the Explanatory Memorandum.

The Preamble recites, first, that
"it is expedient to make further provision for regulating the market business"
at Covent Garden and also
"for reducing the congestion of traffic"
in the rest of the borough, and, for that purpose, to vest in the Authority certain lands which are subsequently referred to as the Finsbury lands. I will paraphrase the wording to make it intelligible:
"whereas the storage, elsewhere than"
in Covent Garden
"of horticultural produce intended to be dealt in in bulk and of empty containers…would conduce to the achievement of the object"
originally suggested
"it is accordingly expedient to vest in the said authority certain lands in the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury suitable for the provision thereon of facilities for the storage of such produce and containers as aforesaid."
3.45 p.m.

This Preamble has disappeared as a result of the recommendations of the Select Committee. There has also disappeared from Clause 2 the specific subsection (2) which provided, in effect, that what are generally known in this context as the Finsbury lands should be vested in the Authority merely as an automatic operation of this Measure so that the Authority might use those Finsbury lands for the purpose of an annex to the market for the purposes of storage therein of produce in bulk and of empty containers. Those provisions have been deleted.

Nevertheless, as I understand the Minister—I may be right or wrong—it is still contemplated that the Authority should make some arrangements outside the Covent Garden area for an annex, so that congestion may be relieved and that produce for some of the operations now carried on in the market—namely, sales by samples or of bulk produce—can be stored at the annex, and so that empty containers may be taken there.

I should have thought this a matter more appropriate to be discussed when we come to Clause 16, where power is given to the Authority to acquire land outside the market for the purpose of storing empty containers. I am wondering whether it would not be better, when discussing Clause 16, that we try hard to get assurances from the Government.

Clause 2 is the first Clause in which the Amendment of the Select Committee begins to bite. I take it that this is the Clause on which we were to have a major discussion about the alteration made by virtue of the Amendment in the Select Committee as it affects the Finsbury lands; and, generally speaking, the small consequential Amendments growing from that. In addition, there are other discussions which we shall have, about whether the the annex shall be inside or outside the market area, which will be separate. I foresee that Clause 2 will be the Clause on which we shall have the major discussion about the Finsbury lands.

On the point raised about procedure by my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), I do not in any way wish to curtail the debate which I think we shall have on Clause 16. At the same time, I did not feel that we could dispose of Clause 2 without some explanation of the con sequences of the changes in it. As I understand, we shall want to debate Clause 2 and Clause 16 separately. I do not think that those debates can be merged.

The short point on Clause 2 relates to the opinion of the Minister of the effect of the changes made by the Select Committee. When the Minister mentioned them to the House during the Second Reading debate it was part of the proposal, in fact it was the essential part of the whole scheme, that the Authority should have the Finsbury lands transferred to it and that this land should be used as an annex for part of the purposes for which the market is now used.

That was, therefore, an essential ingredient of the Bill to which the House gave a Second Reading. I am not questioning whether or not the recommendations of the Select Committee were wise. We may come to that point later. Before we dispense with Clause 2 and pass on to a discussion of Clause 16, I would like the Minister to tell the House how, in his opinion, this serious mutilation of Clause 2 affects the whole of the scheme.

Hon. Members should remember that since the controversy in the concession of 1959 and 1960, it had been contemplated that the Finsbury lands would be used as an annex. It was because they had been earmarked, and because the L.C.C. had taken all the preliminary steps to acquire them, with a view to their subsequent transfer to the Authority when constituted, that the Bill was introduced.

It may be that the Select Committee was right—and I know that the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe) would say so—but if it was right, what becomes of the whole scheme? Is the Minister now prepared to proceed with the Bill in the absence of any Finsbury land, because a couple of years ago we were told that the L.C.C. and the City Corporation had for years been looking for an appropriate site for an annex? When there was some controversy in 1959, it did not take them long to find an annex. They found the Finsbury land and, because of that, the Ministry was able to proceed with this scheme and to introduce the Bill.

Now, the Finsbury lands have gone, and there is no site earmarked for an annex. No site is contemplated for an annex and, therefore, a large part of this operation has disappeared. Before we part with Clause 2 the Minister should tell hon. Members whether he is really satisfied that the Bill can proceed without the Finsbury lands.

Is the Minister now proposing that the whole scheme should proceed without an annex? Is he now saying that all the argument used two or three years ago—in which it was stated that there was an essential need for an annex—are no longer valid? It may be found in the coming years that containers will all become non-returnable and that there will be no need for an annex for the storage of containers. If that is valid, it would support the argument for there being no necessity for an annex in which to store empty containers.

That may not be the Minister's idea. His idea may be that an annex should be found. If so, hon. Members are entitled to know, at this stage, what prospect he has of finding a site for an annex. Has he any alternative site in mind? Is he proposing that the alternative site should be put out of the periphery of London, or perhaps somewhere nearer? Whichever alternative he advances, there would be arguments about traffic congestion. We must have more information from the Minister as to how far this radical change in Clause 2 affects the Bill, because, in my view, it largely destroys the whole case for having the Bill.

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) is right, procedurally. We should discuss Clause 2 and the Preamble together, because they both dealt in the original Bill, to which the House gave a Second Reading, with what were known as the Finsbury lands.

We are in a difficult position and perhaps you can advise us, Sir Gordon. This Bill is, of course, a different Bill from the one which was given a Second Reading. Since it left the House after its Second Reading the Bill has been to a Select Committee and that Committee has amended it in certain respects. Would it not, therefore, be appropriate for the Minister, on each Clause that has been so amended by the Select Committee, to intervene in order to give hon. Members the benefit of his views on the changes which the Select Committee have made?

The Bill—it is a peculiar one and a hybrid Measure, because it is half public and half private—is not as clear from a procedural point of view as it might be. With your consent, Sir Gordon, and with the agreement of the Minister, it would be advantageous for the Minister to intervene at each point where the Select Committee has made a change.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East raised the subject of the Finsbury lands not with any desire to go over the controversy once again, but to get a clear picture of what is the Ministry's attitude to the alternative in Clause 2 and in the Preamble that has been made by the Select Committee.

Yes we have.

In any case, I hope that the Minister will deal with the point that by Clause 16, unless it is amended as we suggest it should be, the Authority is told that as far as practicable, it should provide these facilities outside the Covent Garden area. That point is of great significance in relation to what my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East said. We all agree that it would be helpful that, where changes have been made in the Bill, the Minister should comment on them.

We cannot discuss matters which arise on Clause 16 until we reach that Clause.

There are a number of Clauses, after Clause 2, from which references to the Finsbury lands have been deleted. These were purely consequential Amendments following the major Amendment which removed any reference to the Finsbury lands.

On the major Amendments made upstairs, it was my hope and intention to say something on each one of them as they were reached.

The main point that has been raised so far in this debate is the question asked by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher): how has the Bill been changed by the taking out of all references to the Finsbury lands? When they brought forward the Bill, the Government's view was that the Finsbury lands were a suitable and convenient site for the purposes of an annex, and it was laid down in the Bill, as presented to the House, that the site should be vested in the Covent Garden Market Authority.

That was put in because the Government felt that it was essential that the Bill should provide for an annex, and we still regard that as necessary. The Government's view has not changed; they still regard an annex as an essential feature for the clearing up of existing conditions in Covent Garden.

4.0 p.m.

What did the Select Committee do? It did not say that the Finsbury lands shall not be used. It decided that it would put Finsbury on the same basis as every other borough within the bounds of which a suitable site might be found. The Committee thought it fairer and wiser to make the Covent Garden Market Authority responsible for finding a site and going through all the planning processes necessary to enable it to buy and occupy the site rather than to vest the specific site on the Finsbury lands in the Authority.

Instead of there being an annex in that particular spot, it will now be for the Authority to request the planning authority to designate a site for the purpose. From that point, it will go through the well-known procedure for purchase with a public inquiry if need be. My right hon. Friend might well think it right, in a matter of this kind, that there should be a public inquiry, but, of course, that would be for him.

In any event, it will be for the Covent Garden Market Authority to go for whatever site it may choose. I agree, of course, that the choice is limited, but what the Government have not done since the Select Committee made its alteration was to find another site and say that that must be the one. It is now left to the Authority to find a site, and among the sites to which it could direct attention Finsbury is still one.

The effect of the alteration by the Select Committee is not, therefore, that the Finsbury lands may not be used, but merely that that site should be treated on exactly the same basis as any other which the Authority might consider for the annex.

As the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) said, when we come to Clause 16 we shall discuss whether the annex should be inside or outside the Covent Garden area. But the answer to the question arises on Clause 2, that is, what is the effect of the alteration, is briefly this. Instead of it being determined by the House that the Finsbury site will be vested in the Authority for this purpose, it is now open to the Authority to choose a site, and it will thereafter have to go through the necessary planning procedure.

The Minister has made the legal position perfectly clear. The effect of the deletion is that the Finsbury land will no longer be vested by the Bill in the Authority. But this means that the Authority will have to search for other land for an annex. It may find somewhere or it may not. If it does find a site, it will face all the procedural complications. It may find a site which it regards as convenient, but for which it will not receive the necessary planning permission. All this must take a considerable time.

One additional effect of the deletion is that, instead of the Authority being able to make an early start by having an annex site fixed for it to which it could go by statutory right, it will have its operations considerably delayed. As I understood the position hitherto, it was contemplated that operations in the annex should be the first and immediate step after the passage of the Bill. Now, it may be two or three years before the Authority has its annex. I do not know. Is it now envisaged that the Authority will still have to wait to find an annex and obtain planning approval for it before implementing the rest of the provisions of the Bill?

No. The implementation of the rest of the provisions of the Bill by the Market Authority is not affected by the change at all. The hon. Gentleman's guess is as good as mine about how long it will take the Authority to find another site. Perhaps delay will be caused. I have no doubt that this was borne in mind by the Select Committee when it considered the matter, but, none the less, it felt that this was the fairer, more equitable, and proper way to do it. It would have taken some time anyhow before the Authority could have moved on to the Finsbury lands. I cannot judge what extra delay might be caused as a result of the change. Although I accept that the change might possibly cause delay, I do not think that it will necessarily be so.

The change has been made, and I think that it should be said now that my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe), my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans) put up a tremendous fight in the House against the Bill as it originally stood. We had considerable debate about the principle of any site being used in the central area for storage, and I think that it can be said now that my hon. Friends may take great pride in the fact that that menace, to which it was intended to give legislative force by the Bill as it originally stood, has been removed.

As I understand the position now, the Authority can go anywhere for the annex it requires. It is not confined to one particular site, but it can itself decide where the site ought to be, subject to the usual town and country planning provisions. For the benefit of the Authority, I think that it should be put on record now that, if it eventually does meet to decide that it wants an annex inside London for the purpose of storing empties, it will face the biggest battle of its life.

All those concerned had better be quite clear about that. I can imagine nothing more obnoxious to any Metropolitan borough than having in its midst a site used purely for the storage of empty packages from Covent Garden Market.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East that the day is coming when the annex will not be required. Thanks to modern packaging and marketing systems, the return of empties will soon no longer be necessary, so what we have been arguing about may well become abortive. Nevertheless, it ought to be put on record now—I do not know whether the Authority will do us the honour of reading the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee stage of the Bill—that the Authority can take it firmly from some of us that it had better not try to put anything of this kind within Metropolitan London.

I find it extremely difficult to follow the logic of the Minister's statement. A good deal of public money and time has been devoted to establishing that the proposal that the annex should be at the junction of City Road and Old Street was a bad one and should not stand. A Select Committee was appointed. Thousands of pounds were spent on engaging advocates to establish that what was proposed was wrong not only for Shoreditch and Finsbury, but for London as a whole. The idea of putting the annex at one of the busiest junctions in London was regarded by most people who knew the area as absolute lunacy.

The Finsbury lands are now taken out of the Bill, but the Minister has told us that we are almost back where we started, despite the change made by the Select Committee. If the Authority decides that it is difficult to find another site which can be regarded as suitable, it may revert to the City Road-Old Street junction for the purpose of its annex.

Whether it is unlikely or not, the statement of the Minister is very disturbing, to say the least. I can only interpret it in the way that I have just indicated to the Committee. If I am wrong, perhaps the Minister will correct me.

I do not think that I have misinterpreted either the effect or, to the best of my knowledge, the intention of the Select Committee in altering the Bill in this way. In deleting all mention of the Finsbury lands the Borough of Finsbury has been left on all fours, so to speak, with every other borough. That is all that has happened. That is not very different from what was sought by the petitioners. The Bill does not now say that the annex must not be built in this or that particular borough, but merely that a site should not be singled out and vested in the Authority without going through the usual planning procedures. Whether that was what was in the mind of the Borough of Finsbury, I cannot say. I gather from what has been said that it might have aspired for more, but this is the effect of the Amendments made by the Select Committee.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) says that there will be great trouble if the Authority tries to put an annex in any borough. We will have to jump these hurdles when we reach them. It will be for the Authority to get the necessary planning permission. It may be that there will be objections. They will be handled in the normal way. The hon Member appreciates and understands that. He says that the need for the annex is fast disappearing since the use of returnable empties is diminishing. One reason why an annex is needed is to house these returnable empties, which are like tinder and are a great fire risk. I agree that the move towards the use of non-returnable contained is all to the good.

There will, however, still be the other object of the annex, which is to prevent the unnecessary carting of very large number of crates of citrus fruits, and the like coming into the Port of London, into the Covent Garden area, when they could well be stored somewhere else, perhaps near the port.

I recognise that the annex could be used for the purposes which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned. I repeat, however, that I think that most Metropolitan boroughs, certainly those whoch are Labour controlled and probably most Conservative controlled boroughs, would strongly object to their land being used for this purpose. One of the problems that we face under Clause 1 is that the authority will be given certain powers. I agree that there will be the normal restrictions concerning appeals against compulsory purchase orders, but at the end of the day it is a pity that the fight will not be on the Floor of the House.

The argument about Shoreditch and Finsbury and Islington is one which concerns Parliament. This is what caused the Government of 1959 and the Government of today to change their minds on this aspect. It is a pity that we are hoping that outside sources will deal with a matter which, to many of us, is very personal.

The Minister has made it clear that, under the Bill as amended by the Select Committee, the Finsbury lands are not alone in the picture. The site is on all fours with other sites in the country, because the Bill is not confined to London. There may be doubt in the mind of the local authority of my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe), because the Minister is on record as having said that the Finsbury site is eminently suitable. His representative in the Select Committee agreed that the right hon. Gentleman had said on more than one occasion in this Chamber that, in his view, the Finsbury site is eminently suitable for an annex to Covent Garden.

Perhaps the Minister can help us further and say whether he accepts the Amendment which the Select Committee has made in the Bill, that he regards the position as open and that the Finsbury annex is not under special favour by himself or by his Ministry.

4.15 p.m.

I wish to clear up one or two points. The first concerns whether my right hon. Friend regards the Finsbury site as eminently suitable. The fact is that the matter is no longer in my right hon. Friend's control. It has now been handed over to the Covent Garden Market Authority. The Minister has parted with his rights in the matter. That is what the Select Committee intended.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Authority, when it is constituted, will act under the Minister and with his approval or disapproval in finding land for an annex. That is in the Bill.