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Commons Chamber

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 10 May 1961

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 10th May, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions


Trade Union Officials (Elections)


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he takes to satisfy himself that the rules and regulations for the conduct of elections for trade union officials as laid down by the Registrar of Friendly Societies are observed; and what action he takes with regard to persons who infringe these rules and regulations.

The Registrar of Friendly Societies has no power to lay down rules and regulations for the conduct of elections of trade union officials.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the only existing external check of the conduct of trade union elections is the Chief Registrar's powers to prosecute in cases where voting papers or other documents have been fraudulently misapplied? In view of the disturbing evidence which has been given——

In view of the national importance of this question, will my right hon. Friend say whether he is satisfied that the rights of rank and file trade unionists are adequately protected at the present time?

As you have already indicated, Mr. Speaker, that the matter is sub judice because of a certain court case which is going on, it would be better for me to refrain from making any comment at the present time.

Whilst agreeing that it is an issue on which one should not comment, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not agree that from long usage it has been shown that there is a very fine level of democratic elections within the trade union movement and that it is not for an organisation which never has an election of its officials to criticise a trade union?

I still think that as Mr. Speaker has indicated that the matter is sub judice, it is better for me not to comment even on what the hon. Member has just said.

Fishermen (Medical Examination)


asked the Minister of Labour what consultations he held with representative organisations concerned with the fishing industry before deciding not to ratify Convention No. 113 of the International Labour Organisation concerning the medical examination of fishermen; what views were expressed by those he consulted; and whether he will make a statement.

Both sides of the industry were fully consulted during the various stages of discussion leading to this Convention, and their views have been well known throughout. The reasons for the decision not to ratify are set out in the the White Paper Cmnd. 1318, which was laid before the House on 23rd March.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the arguments in the White Paper are very unconvincing to the trade union mainly concerned here? Would he agree that in the smaller fishing vessels, in particular, a man is often on watch for long hours unaccompanied, either on deck or in the engine room, and that a sudden illness could be serious? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the better employers insist on medical examination? Should not the others be brought into line?

This is a matter of opinion, but I think that the hon. Member will agree that the provisions of the Convention go well beyond what is laid down in the United Kingdom not only for the fishing industry but for the Merchant Navy and indeed for industry generally. I think that this was made clear when the matter was discussed.

School Leavers, Kirkintilloch


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to provide employment for the increased number of school leavers in Kirkintilloch.

Absorption of the additional numbers in Kirkintilloch this year and next should not present undue difficulties.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is a quite unsatisfactory Answer? We want some positive efforts. Is he aware that the population is increasing rapidly as a result of the overspill agreement with Glasgow and that there is some frustration among young families who come out of Glasgow because of the lack of opportunities for young people in the town of Kirkintilloch? Would the hon. Gentleman take some steps to see that there is a drive to bring industry into Kirkintilloch as well as the overspill from Glasgow?

The employment position at the moment is healthy and we have every expectation that that will continue. The Easter school leavers, for example, were absorbed into employment very rapidly; of the 36 boys and 54 girls, only one boy was still on the register on 10th April.

Apprentices, Dumbarton


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to increase opportunities for apprenticeship in industry in the County of Dumbarton.

Opportunities for apprenticeship depend largely on the general employment situation. The Government, through the Local Employment Act, is encouraging further industrial development in Dunbartonshire. A Committee on which all sides of industry in Scotland are to be represented is about to be set up to keep the apprenticeship position under review and encourage employers to increase their intake.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that as a result of the rapid expansion of the new town of Cumbernauld some frustration is felt among young families who come out of Glasgow into the new town because of lack of opportunities or apprenticeship for young people there? Will the hon. Gentleman see what can be done in that direction?

I am grateful to the hon. Member. That is the sort of point we would gladly look into.

Pottery Industry (Tuberculosis And Pneumoconiosis)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the special danger of tubercular infection to workers in some sections of the pottery industry; and what action he is taking to reduce the number of cases of pulmonary massive fibrosis.

I am aware that there is a close relationship between certain forms of pneumoconiosis and tuberculous infection. As my hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) on 6th March, a Committee comprising both sides of the industry and the factory inspectorate has been charged with following up the Survey on the Pottery Industry. In an interim report, the Committee made recommendations about dust control appliances which have been circulated to every pottery firm in the country. The Committee is continuing its work and I am sure that this is the most effective way of making progress.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is something further which he himself could do at once, by seeing that no entrant comes into the industry suffering from tubercular infection? Will he, by regulation or some other means, see that entrants are X-rayed by the mass X-ray centre, because that would certainly preclude a great deal of suffering and some deaths?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said that I was considering the point he raised in an earlier Question on this matter. I am considering this and will be writing to the hon. Gentleman.

Pottery Industry (Dust Sampling Programme)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has yet received a re quest for financial aid to expedite the work of the Joint Industrial Council in the Potteries, particularly in the estimation of dust counts.

The Joint Standing Committee has suggested that financial aid be given to the British Ceramic Research Association to enable it to carry out the proposed dust sampling programme. Government aid to research associations is made available through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. I understand that the Director of the Association has expressed an intention of raising the question with the D.S.I.R. If he does so, I shall certainly be prepared to make clear the importance I attach to the work.

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply? Is he aware that I put this Question down because as long as ten months have gone by between the taking of these dust samples and the announcement of their significance? In view of the importance of this, may I again say that I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his sympathy?

Dispute, Mansfield


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the dispute between Harwood, Cash & Company, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and the union representing the employees; and if he will endeavour to bring the two sides together with a view to ending the dispute and entering into negotiations.

Yes, Sir, I am aware of this dispute. Our officers have been in touch with the employer and the union. They will continue to do what they can to end the dispute.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this dispute has been going on since last November? In the meantime, there has been a strike, which was called off in the hope that the employers and trade union could get together, but that move has failed. Will he continue his efforts to get the two sides together, because the central problem is one of recognition?

As I have told the hon. Gentleman, we will certainly continue to do all that we can, but at the moment, as he knows, there is a certain amount of ill feeling over the strike. I hope that this can soon be dissipated and that the two sides can get together and enter into discussion of their problems.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is a particularly unfortunate case of a firm not allowing the ordinary decencies of trade union recognition and discussion? Would he agree to meet my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor) and me to discuss the matter if we can be of any help?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish me to take sides in this matter. I have already met his hon. Friend and have had a full discussion with him on the matter. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am fully aware of the position.

Vacancies, Wales


asked the Minister of Labour how many unfilled vacancies exist in Wales, in South-East Glamorgan, and in the Borough of Barry, respectively; and how these figures compare with a year ago.

On 5th April, 14,808 in Wales, 2,053 in the Cardiff, Bute Docks, Penarth and Llantwit Major area, and 216 in Barry; and on 6th April, 1960, 10,290, 1,658 and 133 respectively.

Should not these figures of increased vacancies be good encouragement for areas which suffered from inter-war unemployment? Does not this reflect the remarkable success of the Conservative Government's policy in bringing new industries to these areas and creating extra jobs?

How many of the unfilled vacancies are in coal mining in East Glamorgan?

If the Distillers Company, Limited, is making such a big contribution to the expansion of employment in the area represented by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), can we, through you, Mr. Speaker, suggest to the company that it should also store whisky in the area instead of always in Scotland?

Iron And Steel And Tinplate Industries


asked the Minister of Labour how many persons were employed at the latest convenient date in the iron and steel and tinplate industries in England and in Wales, respectively; and how these figures compare with the numbers who were employed in 1951 and 1956, respectively.

As the Answer includes a table of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

19511956Latest available date19511956Latest available date
Iron and steel (including tinplate)321,440331,630381,790(a)70,88077,16078,530(a)
Tinplate only1,060940460(b)16,84014,1509,910(b)
1. The figures given are those for mid-year.
2. Separate figures for tinplate are not available after 1958 owing to changes in industrial classification.



asked the Minister of Labour what was the number of immigrants unemployed in the London and South-Eastern and the Midland areas, respectively, on 7th May, 1961, as compared with the corresponding date in 1960; and what percentages they are of total unemployment in the said areas.

On 2nd May, 1961, the numbers of unemployed Commonwealth immigrants were 7,913 and 3,722 for the London and South-Eastern and Midland regions respectively, representing 15·4 per cent. and 13·5 per cent. of the total unemployed register in those regions. The corresponding figures for May, 1960, were 4,754 and 1,202, representing 10·2 per cent. and 7·7 per cent of the total unemployed register.

While I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for circulating the figures, may I ask him whether there is evidence that the greatly increased number of people required for the expansion of these industries in South Wales will be forthcoming, in view of all the problems, such as housing, which must arise?

It is my hope that these vacancies will be filled as they come forward in the future.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider the other point that if the Steel Company of Wales is allowed to import coal from the United States there will soon be no vacancies?

Following are the figures:

Does my right hon. Friend realise that these figures indicate that unemployment benefit is paid in these areas at the rate of over £1 million a year? In view of the high incidence of unemployment among immigrants, will he urge his Cabinet colleagues to introduce regulations insisting that immigrants can enter this country only if they have guaranteed jobs to come to?

As my hon. Friend knows, Questions on this subject have been put to my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary as well as to me. I have nothing to add to what they have already said.

Is not the answer that most of the immigrants are unskilled people? Among British personnel, the majority of those unemployed are unskilled people.

I think that there is truth in what the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) says. As I said only last week, one-third of the unemployed immigrants are women, and two-thirds have been unemployed for less than eight weeks.

Manpower Situation


asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement on the recent discussions of his National Joint Advisory Council on the manpower situation.

At its last meeting the National Joint Advisory Council considered a paper on the manpower situation which had been submitted by the British Employers' Confederation. This emphasised particularly the shortages of skilled labour and suggested a number of points which the Council might discuss. It was agreed at the meeting that my Ministry should seek some further information, particularly about the composition of the unemployed labour force and that a working party of the Council would consider the whole problem.

While welcoming that statement, and hoping that these further discussions will have constructive results, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will say what views were expressed at the last meeting of the Council about the payroll tax? What was the view of the employers' representatives and of the T.U.C. representatives about the effect of this tax on the manpower situation?

Again, that is hardly to do with the original Question. The employers' representatives asked me to convey to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer their feelings about the payroll tax, but very little expression was given about the matter by the trade union representatives. That applied purely to discussion on the payroll tax—not to the discussion to which I referred in reply to the Question on the Order Paper.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether both sides are against the payroll tax?

While not desiring to create difficulties, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that the trade unions catering for highly-skilled tradesmen have another point of view on this matter in view of their experience in the last twenty years? Will he also bear in mind that certain hon. Members who have made so many observations about this are not necessarily representing the trade union point of view about it?

This is a complicated and difficult subject, and there are many aspects to it. That is why it will be useful to have the working party, which will consider all those aspects, including the point which the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) has in mind.

Royal Navy

Shipbuilding And Ship-Repairing (Orders)


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what proportion of orders by his Department for shipbuilding and ship-repairing, in tonnage and value, have been allocated to Scottish and English shipyards, and in particular to Aberdeen, during the last six months.

Orders for naval new construction during the past six months have been for three new frigates, one submarine, two replenishment-at-sea tankers, two seaward defence boats and various small craft. Roughly 18 per cent. of the orders in tonnage and 36 per cent. in value were placed with Scottish firms. A similar proportion of the ship-repair work, by value, outside the Royal Dockyards, went to Scotland. All the orders were placed as a result of competitive tendering and I regret that none were won by Aberdeen firms.

I thank the Minister for that Answer and regret its last sentence. Is he yet in a position to say who won the tender for the new research ship for the National Institute of Oceanography? In that connection, will he bear in mind that Aberdeen shipyards have built many research ships with great success?

I know that an Aberdeen firm has tendered, but I am not yet in a position to say which firm has been successful with its tender for this vessel.


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what plans the Government has for placing additional orders for warships with the shipbuilding industry, following the recommendations of the Report of the Sub-Committee of the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee.

The matter is under urgent consideration. Pending the outcome of this review I am afraid I am not in a position to make a statement.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that this is the best opportunity since the war to build warships quickly and, consequently, economically. Will he ask his right hon. Friend to make further representations about this matter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

It is true that in the present state of the shipbuilding industry we are getting our warships built much more quickly and, through competitive tendering, more cheaply than we have previously. I am sure that my hon. Friend, having been in my office, will understand that only 8 per cent. of all the shipbuilding industry's construction comes from Admiralty orders, so that a solution of its problems cannot come entirely from the Admiralty.

Holy Loch (Security)


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, in view of his responsibilities for joint arrangements for the security of United States ships in the Holy Loch, if he will make a statement on the recent activities of canoeists approaching and boarding these ships.

So far as the local naval authorities are concerned these demonstrations although sometimes foolhardy are no more than a nuisance. They do not in any way endanger the security of the American ships involved or the contribution which this anchorage makes to the Western deterrent and the peace.

As a few canoeists, however much of a nuisance they may have been, seem able completely to riddle whatever security or insecurity arrangements have been made in consultation with the hon. Gentleman, would he not find it more to his advantage if he were to follow the advice recently tendered by certain great trade unions and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, that the sooner he gets these vessels out of this country the better for himself and for every other person concerned?

I am glad that the hon. Member agrees that it is only a very small number of canoeists. Our information is that there were eight, all English, I think. Of that number, only two or three provided most of the publicity stunts. I cannot agree with the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question. The country as a whole believes that this is a very valuable and safe method of adding to the deterrent.

Is my hon. Friend aware that public opinion in Scotland would welcome the prosecution of these law breakers, especially as they are mainly Sassenachs anyway?

I think that that is a matter for the Procurator Fiscal rather than myself.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Scotland treats the English much better than his hon. Friend wants to see them treated?


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty for how long it is expected that the additional cost of £24,000 to provide Admiralty constabulary personnel in connection with the Polaris base at the Holy Loch will have to be met.

The duties on which these personnel are employed and the cost involved are likely to continue so long as the depôt ship and Polaris submarines are using the Holy Loch. I cannot say how long that will be.

Do these police, costing £24,000 a year, have to play a part in protecting the Polaris submarines from these canoeists, from English "weirdies" who are attracted to the Holy Loch by the inflammatory speeches of Left-wingers and pacifists and fellow travellers?

These police are normally employed on security duties at the Navy Buildings, Greenoch, the Cardwell Bay jetty and Ardnadam Pier, Dunoon. Although they play a small part, they do not play all the part in protection against the canoeists.

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why the police protect the Holy Loch and the vessels so ineffectively? Is he aware that the point of the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) was not the damage done by these canoeists—because it is common ground that they do not intend to do any damage—but that if the canoeists who do not intend to do any damage can get through with the ease which has been demonstrated on this occasion, it is clear that people with much more nefarious designs could get through?

I think it shows the sort of tolerance with which we have approached this—the fact that we have not tried to use strong-arm methods but have shown sensible tolerance. The hon. Member will agree that these canoeists are sometimes very foolhardy and even dangerous, and I fear that if they continue with these very strange tactics, they will not only risk their own lives, but may also risk the lives of those people who are trying to save them from accident.

Shipbuilding And Ship-Repairing Contracts, Aberdeen


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how many Admiralty shipbuilding and ship-repairing contracts have been allocated to Aberdeen during the last twelve months.

It is the policy to place orders for new ships and craft as far as possible by competitive tender. As to contracts for repairs, the majority of naval repair work is undertaken in the Royal Dockyards. Aberdeen firms have not so far won any of the competitive tenders. No Admiralty shipbuilding and ship-repair contracts have been placed in Aberdeen in the last twelve months.

The hon. Gentleman has not given any figures. Is he aware that Aberdeen gets a very small proportion of the orders from the Admiralty—quite disproportionate to the amount of skill, the good shipyards and excellent workers and the unemployment in Aberdeen? Will he try to remedy that situation?

Yes, but it so happens that the shipbuilding firms in Aberdeen are not suitable for building frigates, or submarines, or the large tankers for which we have placed orders in the last year. I am aware of the problems, but the hon. and learned Member will agree with me that it is not just Aberdeen which is suffering from these difficulties.

Commonwealth Technical Training Week


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what Admiralty support will be given to the Common wealth Technical Training Week.

Commanders-in-chief and other authorities throughout the Commonwealth have been asked to give their utmost support to the local organisers of the Commonwealth Technical Training Week. As a result displays and exhibitions are being contributed at 150 different events. The Royal Navy and Royal Marines are also to be well represented at the parade and service at St. Paul's Cathedral on 1st June.

Navy Days And Naval Air Days


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what plans are being made this summer for Navy Days and Naval Air Days.

Two or three Navy Days will be held at each of the naval ports at Portsmouth, Devonport, Rosyth and Portland. One Air Day will be held at each of the seven air stations. I will circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can my hon. Friend say whether the attendance figures in recent years indicate that these events are maintaining their popularity?

Yes, Sir, I can. More than a quarter of a million people attended the open Navy Days and Air Days last year and the figure is increasing rather than decreasing. This is an excellent way of bringing the Navy into the eyes of the public, not just potential recruits, but parents, women and children who visit our ships. These are certainly a popular form of outing for many families.

Will my hon. Friend bring to the attention of his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War, who is sitting beside him, the possibility of having Army Days as well as Navy Days in future?

Following are the details:

Navy Days will be held during 1961 as follows:

  • At Rosyth on 20th and 21st May.
  • At Portland on 20th, 21st and 22nd May.
  • At Portsmouth and Devonport on 5th, 6th and 7th August.

Air Days will be held as follows:

  • At H.M.S. "Ariel" (Lee-on-Solent) on 15th June.
  • At R.N.A.S., Arbroath, on 24th June.
  • At R.N.A.S., Yeovilton, on 17th June.
  • At R.N.A.S., Abbotsinch, on 8th July.
  • At R.N.A.S., Culdrose, on 15th July.
  • At R.N.A.S., Brawdy, on 15th July.
  • At R.N.A.S., Lossiemouth, on 22nd July.

Shipbuilding, Devonport Dockyard


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty in view of the fact that the building of H.M.S. "Plymouth" has now been successfully completed in Her Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, what plans he has for allowing another ship of this class or any other class to be built there in the near future.

Although H.M.S. "Plymouth" is virtually completed the construction of H.M.S. "Tartar" will continue until August, 1962. I am not yet in a position to make a statement considering future new building. I can promise that the particular claims of Her Majesty's Dockyard at Devonport will be fully taken into account.

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that Plymouth has twice the national average of unemployment and that H.M.S. "Eagle" will be finished in three years and that we do not now come under the Local Employment Act? Has he considered how he is to employ the 20,000 people who are now employed by the Admiralty in the dockyard?

I can foresee—and I have looked at this matter very carefully—a long period of high employment for Her Majesty's Dockyards, because we have to undertake a good deal of major refitting and modernisation of our ships. Only about 10 per cent. of our new construction, a comparative trickle, goes to the dockyards, while more than 90 per cent. goes to the commercial yards.

Car Parking Accommodation, Devonport Dockyard


asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what action he is taking to provide increased parking accommodation for the cars of his Department's employees working in Her Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, in view of the fact that these are now parked all day in College Road, Royal Navy Avenue, Avondale Terrace, and the lane behind the terrace, to the inconvenience of the residents.

There is already parking space within Devonport Dockyard for 570 cars and 330 motor cycles. Parking space for another 480 cars and 320 motor cycles has been provided within the dockyard extension and outside, or is now being sought in local negotiations. The possibility of acquiring further sites for parking another 90 cars is at present being examined.

May I thank my hon. Friend for that reply? Is he aware that I put down this Question in view of the many representations and petitions I have had which show that there are still at least a hundred cars being parked in an area where there is no private parking space? Would he be kind enough to try to see that more space is made available in the dockyard area for these persons' cars?

I should like to take ths opportunity to say how grateful we are for the forbearance of the Plymouth City Council and also of the local residents in helping us to overcome this parking problem.

British Army

Recruits (Discharge)


asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of the recruits enlisted in 1959 have now either been discharged or bought themselves out; and what was the cost to the Army in money and manpower of training these men.

Twenty-five per cent. of which just over one-third bought themselves out. It is not practicable to assess the cost in training manpower, but in money terms the cost would be about £1¾ million.

Are not these figures a little disturbing, since it was thought that one of the advantages of the volunteer Army would be that it would save in the training of manpower? Will the War Office take this problem very seriously?

Yes, but I think that we must keep the problem in perspective. As the House knows, my right hon. Friend is well aware of the problem of wastage by purchase during the early months of a man's service, and is taking steps to try to contain it, but 14 per cent. of this number are accounted for by discharge on medical grounds and other reasons, such as that their service was no longer required.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that if one can solve this problem it will go a long way towards solving the extraordinary crisis in recruiting? Is he aware that there is a great difference between units in their success or failure in retaining recruits? What has been done to ensure that less successful units learn from the more successful ones?

There is the long-term study by the Army Operational Research Group to investigate in more detail the cause of excessive wastage, which is not yet fully understood. We shall take action when we receive that. Apart from that there are measures proposed by the Select Committee to which, I hope, the House may give effect later.

Private H A Daker


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will order an independent inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Private Herbert Albert Daker after he was ordered back to his unit by an Army doctor.

No, Sir. A board of inquiry has already been held to investigate the circumstances of this man's tragic death. I have studied its report and am satisfied that all the facts concerning the death of Private Daker were fully established and that there was no neglect of duty on the part of the medical officers or the unit to which Private Daker's death could be attributed.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this man, although feeling very ill indeed, returned to his unit because his wife's allowance book had been requested by the authorities? Can the hon. Gentleman explain how it was that the Army doctor ordered this man to return although he saw him for only five minutes or less without proper examination, and how it was that he was charged with being absent without leave for a period for which he had a certificate from his own doctor? In view of these unsatisfactory details, would it not be better for the Army to have an independent inquiry?

Private Daker returned on the 16th of the month to Dover with a clean bill of health from his own doctor, whom he had seen. On his return he was fit to resume normal military life, including having to answer the charge which resulted ultimately in the award of detention. The administrative mistakes about which my right hon. Friend has been in correspondence with the hon. Member, although doubly unfortunate in view of the sequel, had no bearing, I can assure the hon. Member and the House, on the illness of Private Daker and its tragic outcome.

Yes, but can the hon. Gentleman explain why the Army doctor who went to see him in his own home spent only five minutes or less and did not give him a proper examination? Did the regimental doctor examine the man when he was returned back?

There is this difference, I think the House will appreciate, in the functions of an Army and a civilian doctor. It was the duty of the Army doctor to form a view on whether the man was fit to travel, to return to his unit, where he would still have been under medical supervision. When that doctor saw him he was up and about, and he gave it as his opinion that he was fit to travel. The civilian doctor in this case said that he thought that the man was fit for work, that is, fit to return to normal duty. Those were the different bases for making the diagnosis.

Recruiting Films (Television)


asked the Secretary of State for War on how many occasions since 25th February, 1961, recruiting films have been shown on television; in what areas they were shown; and with what results.

From 25th February to date Army advertising films have been shown on television on seventy-nine occasions. I will, with permission, publish full details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that this Answer will give general satisfaction? Will he assure the House that it is the intention to continue with this recruiting campaign till the target figure set for volunteer recruits has been achieved?

Yes. We have a full programme for television this summer. I can tell the House that in the Northern television area from 12th February to 8th April enlistment was 20 per cent. higher than the corresponding figure last year. It is too early yet to assess the results of this campaign over the country as a whole.

Will the figures which the hon. Gentleman proposes to publish also refer to the wastage of recruits drawn in primarily by television?

Following are the details:

AreaPeriodNumber of Occasions
Northern25th February–8th March.9
11th April–9th May8
London9th April–8th May8
Southern9th April–9th May8
Anglia10th April–9th May8
Ulster9th April–9th May8
Midlands10thApril–7th May7
Wales and West.11th April–7th May8
Scottish9th April–9th May8
Tyne Tees11th April–6th May7

Military Knights Of Windsor (Houses)


asked the Secretary of State for War on what basis recommendations are made for the allocation of houses to the Military Knights of Windsor.

The appointment of a Knight of Windsor is made by Her Majesty and carries with it the allocation of a residence. The question of any special allocation of a residence does not therefore arise.

Is it not the fact that these houses are allocated on the basis of military service? If that is the case, is not the War Department consulted at all? How long has this practice been going on? In view of the fact that now the wealth of the country is determined not by military prowess but by industrial prowess, would he consider that representations be made through the Government that these houses should be allocated to industrial workers rather than to military people?

My right hon. Friend's responsibility in this matter is limited to the submission of a list, from which Her Majesty makes the final allocation. As to the qualifications, they are laid down in Appendix XIX to the Queen's Regulations.

Gurkhas (63Rd Brigade)


asked the Secretary of State for War why the 63rd Brigade of Gurkhas is to be stationed in this country; and if he will make a statement.

I have nothing to add to the Answer my right hon. Friend gave my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) on 24th March.

But can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether or not it is the case that these Gurkhas—who are recruited in Nepal, where there is a poverty which is completely unknown in this country despite the large sums of money which we pay to King Mahendra for the purpose of getting these soldiers—when they are stationed here will be paid the rate paid to our own soldiers? Is it the case that they are coming here basically because of the failure of his recruiting campaign?

No. The Gurkhas will be a welcome accession to the Strategic Reserve, and I think in general the presence of these fine troops in this country will be widely welcomed.

Will my hon. Friend agree that in view of the magnificent record of the Gurkha Brigade——

—these soldiers will be very welcome in this country and will be a great accession to our armed strength not only in this country but overseas as well, and that we should welcome them in every possible respect?

May I ask the Under-Secretary of State not to be misled by the people behind him? Will he answer the supplementary I have put to him? Are these soldiers, whom we respect, of course—there is no personal attack in this——

—to be paid the same rate and given the same conditions and the same treatment as British soldiers in this country?

Germany (Local Overseas Allowances)


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the additional cost of maintaining United Kingdom forces in Germany as a result of the revaluation of the Deutschmark; and whether any steps are being taken to assist members of these forces to meet the increased cost of living.


asked the Secretary of State for War what changes he has now made in the overseas allowance of British forces in Germany to meet the devaluation of the Deutschmark; and what was the reason for the delay in making these changes.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he has now completed his consideration of the revision of local overseas allowance rates for troops stationed in Germany; whether the necessary adjustment will be retrospective to the date of revaluation of the Deutschmark; and if he will make a statement.

As my right hon. Friend told the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) and Barking (Mr. Driberg) in a Written Answer last week, the revision of local overseas allowances is still being considered. Apart from any increase this revision might bring, the additional cost to Army Votes arising from the revaluation of the Deutschmark will be in the region of £2 million a year.

Is my hon. Friend aware that as a result of the revaluation of the Deutschmark a soldier in Germany who was being paid £10 a week is now receiving 10s. a week less in terms of real money, and that where such a soldier has to go into German accommodation and pay for it he may well be suffering severe hardship?

The factors mentioned by my hon. Friend, and others, are among those which we are considering in the course of this review.

Why is the review taking such a long time? It is many weeks since the Deutschmark was revalued. Will the Minister also say what statements have been made to the Forces in Germany that the changes will be retrospective and that they will not be out of pocket in any way on account of this change?

The time factor is a complicated matter, and it involves inter-Service consultation. The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that any adjustment that may be made will be retrospective, and this is in fact the safeguard of the soldier's position.

Royal Wedding, York


asked the Secretary of State for War how much his Department expects to spend on the occasion of the Royal Wedding at York next month; and if he will itemise such expenditure.

The Army will have the privilege of providing a guard of honour for Her Majesty The Queen. This will be found from troops in the neighbourhood; the cost will be about £50.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is something like the figure we appreciate?

Training Area, Imber

32 and 33.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether, under the reorganisation of Southern Command, any of the land occupied by the Army at Imber, Wiltshire, will be released;

(2) when he expects that the Army will cease to occupy the village of Imber, Wiltshire.

The reorganisation of Southern Command affects in no way our need to keep the Imber training area; and as my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) on 1st March, there is no prospect of this need coming to an end.

In view of the bitterness felt by the dispossessed villagers of Imber, and their feeling, right or wrong, that the war-time undertakings and agreements have not been honoured by the War Department, will the hon. Gentleman consider meeting some of them so that, once and for all, this bitterness and misunderstanding can be cleared out of the way and they can put their questions to him and get answers?

Naturally I will consider any suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman. I am satisfied that the Army locally is very well in touch with local feeling and very appreciative of it and does its best to smooth over difficulties which inevitably arise from time to time.

This happens to be in my constituency. Will my hon. Friend suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it would be as well if, instead of butting into other people's constituencies, he took a little trouble to find out what the actual feeling is?

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that it is because the villagers are not satisfied that they have asked somebody else to look at this?

The close co-operation of the Army on the spot, to which I have referred, especially as it concerns myself, has been much helped by the information I have had from my hon. Friend.

Recruiting Campaign


asked the Secretary of State for War what progress he has made in his campaign to increase recruiting.

Has the Minister taken note of his right hon. Friend's recent speech in which he stated that he expected the target of 165,000 by 1963 would not be reached by 1 per cent.? Is this what is meant by a "promising start" to the recruiting campaign? May I also ask the hon. Gentleman to give us an assurance that there has been, and will be, no lowering of standards of physical fitness and intelligence for those recruited and retained in the Army?

I cannot altogether accept the interpretation put by the hon. Gentleman on my right hon. Friend's speech without seeing the text, but I assure him and the House that if results continue to improve on the lines indicated by the figures for the first quarter of this year I have every confidence that we shall get to where we want to be.

Will the hon. Gentleman answer my second part of my supplementary question?

Will the right hon. Gentleman translate the term "promising start" into figures so that we might know what progress has been made? Is not the War Office a little optimistic about this matter, and could not the House be informed of a matter so vital to the interests of the country?

Naturally we shall give the House all the information we properly can. The figures, when taken in isolation, particularly these recruiting figures—it is so much a question of the interpretation of statistics—can be misleading, and I think that it would be unwise to go beyond what I have said today.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am willing to be misled? Will he be good enough not to deal with this matter in isolation but to give us the facts and figures so that we can know the present position?

The figures to the end of February have been published, and I understand that some more are due. We have to think of those who are less subtle in the ways of the House and Whitehall than the right hon. Gentleman.

The House is happy to know that the figures show that we are likely to reach the target, but it is not clear to me when we are likely to reach it. Can my hon. Friend give us that information?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that speaking on the radio on Monday night Field Marshal Montgomery said that this country could not possibly discharge its military commitments without a strength of 200,000 men? Would he care to correlate that figure with his recruiting campaign?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State for War said that he did not expect to get the target of 165,000 by 1963, but 1 per cent. under? So already, presumably, that target has been abandoned?

Recruiting (Press Advertisements)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give instructions for the withdrawal of advertisements appearing in the national Press appealing for recruits for Sandhurst, the illustrations of which show soldiers with their guns at the ready for internal warfare in Kenya; and whether he will ensure that any future recruiting advertisements are so designed as to avoid giving any impression of armed suppression of colonial people for whose welfare and development towards independence this country is responsible.

No, Sir. These advertisements were designed to show routine training and exercise of troops in the field. I cannot accept the implications of the hon. Member's Question.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the advertisement appearing in The Times yesterday the copywriter gave an impression of trigger-happy adventure in Kenya? This can create a most unfortunate impression. May I ask the Minister whether these matters, and other related questions, have been discussed with the newly-installed administration of Mr. Ngala?

No. As I said in the Estimates debate, the presence of our troops in these stations is a contribution to stability and the preservation of law and order, which is of inestimable benefit to the ordinary folk of all races since they are the first to suffer if law and order breaks down.

Royal Air Force

Fighter Command


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make a statement on the arrangements which have now been made to implement the decision placing Royal Air Force Fighter Command under the direct orders of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence explained the general position to the House on 12th April. Staff discussions are proceeding on the detailed arrangements which flow from the assignment.

Is it now the position that a foreign commander, from his headquarters in France, can order British fighter aircraft to intercept other aircraft in the vicinity of British territory and therefore commit an act of war, without consulting Her Majesty's Government?

This is part of a general N.A.T.O. decision and it is in the general interest of the West that the defence of N.A.T.O. in Europe should be as efficient as possible. A unified system in needed to achieve this. As for our purely national position, closer co-ordination with the European warning system is bound to be of value, and this fact must not be left out of the thoughts of the hon. Member.

Will the Minister answer my question? It is of vital importance to know whether a foreign commander can commit British forces to hostile acts.

S.A.C.E.U.R. has the responsibility of deciding what orders shall be given under certain circumstances. The main point is that we still maintain the right to control our Fighter Command force in this country, and only in the context of the general requirement of S.A.C.E.U.R. would it be brought into action.

Lightning Fighter Aircraft (Weapon)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what weapon is, or will be, fitted to the Lightning fighter; and whether this weapon has been designed and tested.

The Lightning Mk. l's main armament is the air-to-air missile Firestreak, which is in service now. Later marks of Lightning will carry an improved missile at present under development.

Can the Minister say whether the present Lightning can fire a Firestreak without a reduction in speed? Can he also state when he hopes to have the new weapon in operation?

I am not able to give the date when the new weapon will be brought into service, but development is going on. There are certain restrictions, in relation to firing the present weapon, but they are not considered by the military authorities as being in any way seriously detrimental to the weapon. The new weapon will have, as one of its main features, a much wider field of attack.

Can the Minister confirm that the missile-firing arrangements of the Lightning are not inferior to those of the fighters of other countries, such as the American F.104?

Space Vehicles


asked the Secretary for Air what steps will be taken by the Royal Air Force to put vehicles into space.

The Royal Air Force is studying the possible military applications of space vehicles with close interest.

Will the Minister induce his Ministry to move rather faster than that, in view of its rather slow appreciation of the existence of space? Will he also bear in mind the fact that much of the American work on space has been done with Thor missiles, of which he has had about sixty at his disposal for several years?

I am aware of those facts, but I would remind the hon. Member that other of my right hon. Friends have an interest in these matters. On this occasion I shall confine myself to saying that the Royal Air Force and the Air Ministry are always forward-looking. We are always looking into the future, and we shall not neglect our responsibilities in this regard.

May we take it that the Ministry of Aviation and the Air Ministry are not waiting for each other to act, and doing nothing?

Will the Minister take a ride on the London Underground during a peak hour of travel and then consider whether putting space into vehicles should not have a higher priority?

I do not see the relevance of the hon. Member's supplementary question, except that it might have been asked with the intention of taking me for a ride.

Ministry Of Defence

Accidental War


asked the Minister of Defence if he will order an inquiry to be made into the dangers of accidental war, in view of the increasing evidence that they now constitute a major possible cause of nuclear war.


asked the Minister of Defence what consideration has been given to the special measures necessary to prevent a third world war starting by accident or by the misinterpretation of a signal or a situation.

As the House has been assured on many occasions, we take the most stringent precautions against any accident or miscalculation which could lead to accidental war. These are kept under review and no special inquiry is necessary.

Is the Minister aware that about a month ago the United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. McNamara ordered a special inquiry to be made in America into the ways in which the accidental causes of war might be reduced, and into the basic policy in relation to both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons? Since Britain intends to have her own nuclear force, would it not be as well to follow the American example?

I had the advantage of having discussions with Mr. McNamara in Washington recently, but I am not prepared to say what we discussed.

Does the right hon. Gentleman admit that this danger exists and will be enormously increased if forty-five Polaris submarines are roaming the seas, or if nuclear weapons are placed in advanced positions in Germany?

I do not admit that this danger exists, in the sense that the hon. Member puts it, because, as most people who have studied the matter carefully admit, the Polaris weapon is a second strike weapon which is much safer, and this greatly decreases the chances of an accidental war.

In that case is there not a powerful case for getting rid of the first strike weapons, such as the Thor missile?

The right hon. Gentleman has his time tenses a little mixed. Thor is a perfectly valid contribution to the deterrent now. It may not be so in a few years' time.

If no conceivable danger of the possibility of an accidental war arising exists, can the Minister say why, after his conversations with Mr. McNamara, he has ordered an inquiry into the matter?

Is it the Minister's policy that, while allowing complete political control over nuclear bases, and of weapons operating from nuclear bases in this country, to be in the hands of the American Government, we should also leave the question of the reduction of the causes of accidental war to the Americans?

Not at all. I said in my original Answer, if the hon. Lady will study it, that this matter is kept under the most careful and detailed examination. The warning systems that we use, as a whole, include a wide range of built-in checks, and I consider that those checks are satisfactory.

European Economic Community (Agriculture)


asked the Prime Minister whether the speech made on Saturday, 6th May, in Essex by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on agriculture and the Common Market represents Government policy.

I have been asked to reply.

Yes, Sir.

In view of the contradictory statements being made by Ministers on this important matter, and in view of the fact that they are causing a great deal of confusion in the agricultural community, is it not time that the Prime Minister co-ordinated the Home Secretary, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the President of the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office Ministers so that a sensible and definite statement could be made, after the rather contradictory ones that have been made?

There is no contradiction at all. If the hon. Member will look at column 220 in yesterday's HANSARD he will see that the Prime Minister said:

"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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1961; Vol. 640, c. 220.]
That is exactly the same line as I took in Essex.

Can my right hon. Friend assure me that in any eventual arrangements which are made with Europe there will be no damage whatsoever to Commonwealth trader? Will he remember that the Commonwealth is much more important to us than Europe is or ever was?

The point about the Commonwealth is covered by the Prime Minister's statement yesterday and by the same observations that I made in Essex. It is a precondition for the consideration of our future action in this matter that our relations with the Commonwealth, with agriculture and with E.F.T.A. are all properly taken into account.

Is the Home Secretary aware that the most serious contradictions in relation to this matter are those which occur in the statements made by the Prime Minister himself, on different occasions in different places? Will he use his influence with the Prime Minister to try to get him to come clean on this matter and not adopt different forms of words in different places according to what he thinks is best calculated to win approval?

As is usual, the Prime Minister is defending the interests which are chiefly at stake in this very important matter while preserving the obvious advantage of examining the future with a constructive attitude.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Prime Minister gave me the exact assurance yesterday that he gave me in 1957 with regard to agriculture, and that for that assurance—in which there is no contradiction—the farmers and my constituents are very grateful?

Why on earth are the Government only now examining this matter, when it has been quite apparent that the Common Market has been growing for years? Should not the Government long ago have made up their mind and commenced these negotiations?

The Government entered into negotiations with a view to obtaining a rather different arrangement with Europe, which would have excluded agriculture and saved us the embarrassment of the present situation. That proved unacceptable, and we are now looking at the matter again with a view to seeing whether the same interests can be protected in a different way.

Has my right hon. Friend been able to conclude what the Opposition really think about this question?

I read an article in the Sunday Express, written by an hon. Member opposite who takes a great interest in foreign affairs, and I thought that the article seemed to express a negative point of view.

Orders Of The Day

Rating And Valuation Bill

As amended ( in the Standing Committee), further considered.

Clause 3—(Valuation Of Hereditaments Hitherto Valued By Reference To Profits, Etc)

3.31 p.m.

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

I beg to move, in page 2, line 22, to leave out from "to" to the end of line 34 and to insert:

  • (a) any hereditament occupied by the National Coal Board,
  • (b) any other hereditament which consists of or includes a mine or quarry or the whole or part of which is occupied together with a mine or quarry in connection with its working, or the treatment, preparation, storage or removal of its minerals or products of its minerals or the removal of its refuse,
  • (c) any hereditament occupied by the persons carrying on, under authority conferred by or under any enactment, a dock or harbour undertaking, and
  • (d) any hereditament occupied by the persons carrying on an undertaking for the diffusion by wire of sound or television programmes.
  • Any reference in paragraph (b) of this subsection to a mine or quarry includes a reference to a well or bore-hole or a well and bore-hole combined, but except as aforesaid expressions used in Chat paragraph and the Mines and Quarries Act, 1954, have the same meanings in that paragraph as in that Act.
    (3) Any order under this section applying to any hereditament falling within any paragraph of the foregoing subsection, or any class or description of such hereditaments, may provide for determining rateable value by the application of different methods of valuation to different parts of the hereditament.
    This Amendment—if I can make my voice heard above the turmoil——

    This Amendment implements an undertaking which I gave in Standing Committee, as I think the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) will recollect. There was criticism of Clause 3 on the ground that the order-making powers were too wide. Fears were expressed that classes of undertakings of all kinds which are at present valued on the profits basis might find themselves brought within the scope of an order to change the basis of valuation to a formula. I explained that there was no intention of making orders quickly in respect of all sorts of categories, but there were certain types of undertakings which, the Government understood, were interested in pursuing the question of whether a formula basis could be arrived at which would be less difficult and less liable to give rise to hard litigation than the existing method.

    In Committee, I said that to meet this criticism—and my words, I think, were favourably received on both sides—I would move an Amendment at a later stage to narrow these powers to a certain number of categories of undertakings that might, within the next few years, desire to change over, after the necessary consultations, to a formula basis. That would still the fears of those who found themselves not on the list but were valued according to the profits method, and no harm would be done in any way because, quite clearly, so much work would be involved in arriving at a formula basis that there would be no likelihood of orders being made within the next few years except, at best, for a limited number of categories of undertakings. That is the purpose of the Amendment.

    Instead of giving a wide order-making power, it limits that order-making power to those classes of undertakings set out in categories (a), (b), (c) and (d). Category (a) relates to the National Coal Board. That was in the Bill originally, and I understand that the Board welcomes the opportunity of discussion to see whether suitable formula can be devised for at least some of its property.

    Here let me emphasise, what I said repeatedly in Standing Committee, that this Clause is not designed either to increase or diminish the overall liability to rates. That overall liability will be left substantially unchanged. The only question is whether a valuation can better be done by a formula than on the basis of the profits method. That applies throughout.

    Category (b) refers to mines and quarries. I have no idea whether a formula basis will be discoverable which will be satisfactory for any sections of the mining and quarrying industries, but I know that some sections of those industries are attracted by the idea of pursuing the possibility of working out a formula that might be acceptable. I have no preconceived ideas about that one way or the other. I know, however, that after the Bill was published I received several enquiries from mineral companies, wanting an assurance that they were within the scope of Clause 3. It seems, therefore, on that and other grounds, desirable to include them.

    Category (c) refers to dock and harbour undertakings. Again, that seems a suitable field for examination. Most of the public utilities are already valued on a formula basis—the railways, the gas industry, the electricity industry—and the Bill adds the water undertakings. So, at any rate, it is not unreasonable to include the docks and harbours as another category for which the change may or may not be made.

    Does what the right hon. Gentleman is now saying mean that when the Bill becomes an Act negotiations will be entered into with the various undertakings to negotiate a formula?

    It does not mean that necessarily. The fact is that a certain amount of work has been done, I understand, in some directions within the industries to see whether it would be practicable to work out a formula. The motive usually, in the first place, is that the profit basis has not been operating satisfactorily and has given rise to a great deal of dubiety and litigation with the result that uncertainty has been prolonged for years as to what should be the real valuation.

    No one wants uncertainty, neither the Inland Revenue, which is responsible for the valuations nor the industries which will have to pay, nor the local authorities which will be the recipients of the rates. Therefore, if it is possible to work out a formula that is generally accepted and which leaves the total valuation substantially unchanged that would seem to be a useful step in streamlining the somewhat complicated process of valuation.

    Category (d) is one which I do not think was mentioned at all in Committee, and relates to wireless and television rediffusion undertakings. In this case an association which claims to represent companies serving 95 per cent. of the relay subscribers has indicated that it would like to see whether a formula method of valuation which would be acceptable to the Inland Revenue could be worked out for relay services. Again, I do not prejudge that. I have no idea of the answer. If the present system is not working to the satisfaction of everyone, there seems to be no reason why, in that sphere, too, which is rather different from the ordinary industrial undertaking, further inquiries should not be made.

    It may be that the examinations and negotiations which might take place under these four headings will show that only certain parts of any class of hereditament are suitable for formula treatment. That is the reason for subsection (3) which, if possible, will enable an order to be made determining the rateable value by different methods for different parts of a hereditament. The simplest example of that which I can give is an undertaking which may own a cement works and a pit, it may be a chalk pit—[HON. MEMBERS: "Careful!"] This is entirely hypothetical.

    The formula method of assessment might apply to the pit, the actual extraction part of the property, and exclude the cement works which would then continue to be assessed by the present method. That, again, is one of the points which could be decided only in the course of consultations, but it would seem desirable to make a provision of that kind in the Bill now that we are considering this Clause.

    I want to make it clear that by asking the House to accept this Amendment I am not saying that any orders will actually be made. All that will be done is to take power to make orders if a general degree of agreement is arrived at that any one of these classes of undertaking could be more satisfactorily assessed on a formula basis. I should like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to hon. Members from both sides of the House who served on the Standing Committee which considered the Bill. I hope that they will feel that the Government have made a genuine attempt to meet the criticisms expressed in the Committee and to bring forward a practical Amendment. I will willingly answer questions which hon. Members may wish to raise, but I shall not now trouble the House with a further explanation.

    May I, first, thank the Minister for complying with the wishes of hon. Members on both sides of the House who served on the Standing Committee? Our apprehensions about the Clause were partly as to its scope, that it might apply to any industry—it is to that point that this Amendment is directed—and partly to the generality of the powers. I doubt whether subsection (3) in the Amendment adds very much to the very wide words of subsection (1). However that may be—we may have to consider it in connection with the next Amendment—the scope is limited.

    On 31st January, during the Committee stage, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the first three of the categories of hereditament to which this Clause is now to be limited. He did not mention the fourth hereditament, but he did say that there might be other cases and that he would make inquiries. This addition, presumably, is the result of those inquiries. I think it an addition which may raise some difficult problems as between one local authority and another and as to the proper substitution of a claim under this Clause for the ordinary profit basis.

    I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and of the House again to what he said on 31st January:
    "… it might be appropriate to proceed in this way, if there were general agreement between undertakings concerned and the local authorities …"
    That is the first point, and then:
    "… if it were understood that the new formula was designed not to make any material change upwards or downwards in the amount of rates payable but rather to produce a more satisfactory and simple method of arriving at assessments."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 31st January, 1961, c. 208.]
    3.45 p.m.

    After what he has already said, I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to confirm that those conditions for the use of the powers under this Clause will still apply, and particularly that they will apply in the category which has been added, which I call the rediffusion stations. To me, it seems most important that it should be done in a case where such wide powers are being taken. I feel sure that the House will note that any scheme made under this Clause, with the very wide power it gives to the right hon. Gentleman, even as it is now limited, must be subject to the affirmative Resolution of the House. Again, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for meeting the criticisms made in the Standing Committee which, I thought at the time, and, I still think, were well founded.

    I also wish to thank my right hon. Friend for putting down this Amendment to meet the doubts and criticisms which were felt and made by hon. Members on both sides of the Standing Committee. As one who used strong language in describing the Clause then, I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for meeting some of those criticisms.

    Originally, I was worried about the Clause for two reasons. One was the wide ambit of the Minister's powers under it and the other that I was afraid, even though there might be agreement between associations and the Inland Revenue or the rating authorities on some formula desirable for the rating of hereditaments which fell within their class, that nevertheless injustice might be done to individual owners of hereditaments inside the class. In other words, the class as a whole, represented by an association, might agree to something which would prove oppressive to individuals within the class.

    My right hon. Friend's Amendment has dealt with the objection about the very wide range of the Clause. He has not met the second objection, but, in fairness to him, I must say that he never pretended that he would be able to do so. Therefore, I am particularly glad that there is a further Amendment to line 40, which we are not now discussing but which, perhaps, I may mention, because it will help in that respect. I feel that my right hon. Friend has gone a long way to set at rest the anxieties which we felt during the Committee stage discussion.

    Having taken part in the debates in the Standing Committee, I appreciate the technical complexity of this matter. At the same time, I do not think that we should pass to the next stage of our proceedings without making some comment upon a matter of principle as distinct from the question of technical detail.

    The matter of principle is that we have become so tied up, or bogged down—hon. Members may choose their own metaphor—with all the machinery of valuation that we are rapidly reaching a stage where there cannot be real equality between different ratepayers. That is a matter of principle which ought to concern this House.

    One of the principles of good government is that when legislation requires the levying of taxes locally or nationally, there should be no doubt as to what has to be paid by the individual. We are reaching a situation, in my submission, in which we give certain alternative powers to a Minister to apply different formulae in different circumstances, and, in the end, this may produce inequality between different ratepayers.

    I am not concerned for the purpose of this argument with whether those ratepayers are individuals, corporations, or groups of people in nationalised or private industry. It ought to be said in this House that where we have a system of local taxation which is so obscure, so capable of refinement and adjustment as to produce no clear picture in the minds of those concerned as to the ultimate requirement, it is bad legislation. As I understand these procedures, a lot depends on the skill of the person appointed to negotiate the transactions. A particularly powerful or influential authority which could employ the best counsel or negotiator, and pay high fees for his services, would be at a great advantage compared with a humbler individual not so fortunately placed.

    I am not saying this in any unkind or unfair criticism of the Minister. He understands the point involved and has tried to do his best to meet it. I hope that serious note will be taken in this House, when we are embarking on legislation, that the further we get away from certainty on a tax the further we get away from the principle of good government. Naturally, I am not opposed to this Amendment. It is an attempt to meet a criticism advanced so powerfully in Committee by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), but I hope that what I have said will be noted by the Minister.

    The Minister will recollect that during the Committee stage I raised a number of points in connection with the china clay industry, which was very apprehensive about the effects which the Bill would have on the costs of its production. I wish to place very briefly on record that I feel sure my constituents will be grateful for this Amendment. It will go a long way to meet the points that they have in mind.

    I wish to join in thanking my right hon. Friend for this Amendment. I criticised the Clause very severely on Second Reading and in Committee. My right hon. Friend has made a genuine attempt to meet the views expressed at that time and to bring the Clause more into line with straightforward valuation practice. I am glad to see that the Amendment gives all the appearances of not reversing a decision of a court of appeal at some later date by an order.

    I think that the attempt which has been made has been good. The only reservations I might have are about the consultations likely to take place between such people as quarry owners in arriving at the formula method. This Amendment is not designed to increase or decrease substantially the valuation of a hereditament, and that puts a lot of fears at rest. The Clause should work effectively in future and do all that is required.

    I am grateful to hon. Members on both sides of the House for the way in which they have received the Amendment.

    I say straight away to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) that if an order is made under this Clause its principal purpose will be to impart certainty into a field where there has been a degree of uncertainty which has been unacceptable to both sides. I am glad that my attempt to demarcate the field in which orders may be made appears to commend itself to the House generally. I certainly reinforce what I said in Committee, first, that it is not intended that the application of an order under this Clause to any class of undertaking should be regarded as either a privilege or a punishment.

    I cannot guarantee that it would leave the rateable value of every individual hereditament unchanged, but the formula would not be acceptable to the Government if it made any substantial upward or downward change in the rateable value of a class of undertakings. Furthermore, it is not the intention of the Government to use this Clause to impose a formula basis on to an unwilling class of undertakings. There would need to be general agreement that the formula method was worth trying. There again, I cannot guarantee that every single undertaking in the class would welcome the change any more than I can guarantee that every single one of the 1,400 rating authorities in England and Wales would welcome the change.

    The order-making power would be used only if there were general agreement between a class of undertakings, or the Coal Board, on the one hand, and local authority associations, on the other, that a formula method should be applied because, by common consent, the existing method was not working satisfactorily. In a moment, we shall come to a further Amendment which bears on the same point. I want to express my appreciation to the House for the way in which it has received this Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 40, at the end to insert:

    (4) In the year following the coming into force of the first valuation lists to come into force after the coming into operation of any order under this section the Minister shall, in consultation with such associations, local authorities and persons as aforesaid cause investigations to be made into the effect of the operation of the order; and the Minister shall cause to be laid before Parliament a report on any investigations made under this subsection and their result.
    This Amendment also fulfils a pledge I gave in Committee. The working of one of these formulae can be reviewed at any time without statutory provision. It was pressed in Committee that there should be written into the Bill a statutory requirement for review after a certain time when the new formula method had been well tried out and had settled down, when the transitional period was over and it would be appropriate to take a new look at it to see whether it was working well or not. That is what this Amendment provides. It will require an investigation to be made into the operation of the order. It will require the Minister of the day to lay before Parliament a report on the investigation and on its result.

    As to the date when the investigation takes place, it will be made during the year following the coming into force of the first valuation lists which take effect after the coming into operation of the new order. Let us assume that an order is made to come into effect on 1st April, 1963, when the new valuation lists take effect. In that case, this Amendment would provide that the review would be made during the year 1968–69. There would have been a full five-year period during which the transitional provisions would have run out and a new quinquennial valuation period would start in 1968. In the first year of that new valuation period the investigation would take place.

    If an order came into operation, not in 1963 but in 1964–65, it would still be reviewed in the year 1968–69. On the other hand, according to this Amendment, if the order did not come into operation during the currency of the next valuation lists—that is to say, did not come into operation before 1st April, 1968—the review would take place in the year 1973–74, presuming, of course, a revaluation every five years.

    It is desirable that there should be such a period before the statutory review takes place, but I repeat the important point that if, clearly, the new system is not working to the general satisfaction, a review can be put in hand at once. There is no need to wait for the year laid down for the statutory review.

    This is a safeguard for all concerned, and, in particular, for Parliament, that after a period there must be a statutory review, and a report on the investigation must be laid before Parliament. That is how Parliament will ensure that it does not lose sight of the matter. When Parliament has approved the order it can be certain that after the order has been working for a reasonable time, it will receive a report.

    4.0 p.m.

    This, too, is an Amendment resulting from the Committee proceedings. We had put down an Amendment going rather beyond this, in that it tied the Minister to the undertaking which he has just repeated not to allow schemes which would result in a substantial increase or decrease of the total rates paid by the industry and in that it provided for continued reviews at five-year intervals. I share the Minister's somewhat cynical view that Rating and Valuation Bills come more or less regularly at five-year intervals, and I therefore regard this Amendment as sufficient compliance with our request, coupled with what the right hon. Gentleman has just said. In the circumstances, I once more brace myself to thank him for meeting our criticisms.

    I, too welcome the Amendment and thank the Minister for it. It may well be, as the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) said, that its effect will be anticipated by the next Rating and Valuation Bill and that we shall never see its effect, but, in part, it meets the anxieties which I had that an individual inside a class might be unfairly dealt with by the procedure, and it will make sure that in due course we have a Parliamentary review to see how it is working.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 2, to leave out "relating" and to insert:

    "so far as that enactment relates".
    This Amendment, in its present form, can be regarded either as a drafting Amendment or as preliminary to the next Amendment. It seems desirable as a drafting Amendment, and I have moved it on those grounds.