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Commons Chamber

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 11th May, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Message From The Queen

Immunities And Privileges

The VICE-CHAMBERLAIN OF THE HOUSEHOLD reported Her Majesty's Answer to the Address, as follows:

I have received your Address praying that the European Free Trade Association ( Immunities and Privileges) Order, 1961, be made in the form of the draft laid before Parliament.

I will comply with your request.

Oral Answers To Questions

Education

Scottish Education Department (Seconded Staff)

1.

asked the Minister of Education what staff is seconded to his Department from the Scottish Education Department to assist in dealing with international relationships in the field of education.

None, Sir. My Department maintains close contact with the Scottish Education Department in these matters.

Is the Minister satisfied with the adequacy of these arrangements? Is he aware that in his Department, which is singularly lacking in an adequate supply of information, inquiries from abroad are sometimes met with the answer "No information on this subject is available", when information is available in respect of the Scottish education system? Would it not be much better either to allow the Secretary of State to have his own direct relations with overseas agencies or to have adequate liaison at London?

I am not aware of such difficulties. In the international sphere we work very closely together, and we very much appreciate the help which we get from Scotland and from the Scottish Members who come on our delegations.

Youth Organisations And Teaching Profession

2.

asked the Minister of Education whether he will take steps to encourage women over 60 years of age to remain in the service of youth organisations and the teaching profession if they should so volunteer.

This is a matter primarily for employing authorities. In my Circular 15/60, issued last December, I asked local education authorities to invite teachers who were able and willing to do so to postpone their retirement in order to meet the urgent staffing needs of the schools. If an authority wished to retain a women over 60 in the Youth Service, I hope that it would do so.

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask how many people have been taken on? Has there been an increase? In many cases this is a very fruitful source. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to publicise the arrangements?

Women Teachers

3.

asked the Minister of Education what the response has been to his Come Back to Teaching campaign for married women teachers; and if he will make a statement.

Reports from authorities show that over 1,300 married women answered my appeal in the two months between the launching of the campaign and 31st March. Of these, 840 have already been appointed and the applications of another 500 are being considered. It is to early yet to say what the full response to the campaign will be, since many authorities have only recently begun their own local publicity campaigns to follow up the national campaign.

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask him how long he envisages carrying on this campaign? Has he in view any target figure which he would like to achieve?

The campaign will be a permanent feature of recruiting married women to the teachers' force I have no target figure.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman say at one point that he had a target figure? Did he not say that there were 50,000 married women teachers at an age at which they might still be able to teach in this country and that he hoped to obtain at least 5,000 of these for his service?

It would be a very good thing if we could get 5,000 over a period, but I have no time limit for such a task.

Would not my right hon. Friend get many more of these married women back into teaching if he could induce the Chancellor to allow their earnings to be separately assessed, for tax purposes, from those of their husbands? Would not that be a price worth paying, from the educational point of view?

My right hon. Friend has gone some way to meet the case of those married women whose incomes, taken together with those of their husbands, bring them into the Surtax class.

School Discipline (Corporal Punishment)

5.

asked the Minister of Education whether he will now take steps to ensure that all school authorities are allowed to use the cane to maintain discipline in schools under his Department's control.

Local education authorities make their own regulations about the use of corporal punishment in schools and I consider this to be a matter properly within their discretion. But I hope that authorities in their turn give discretion, within limits, to head teachers.

Can my right hon. Friend say why his Department cannot issue general guidance throughout schools and not leave this matter entirely to local authorities? Surely this is one thing that we want to bring about, in view of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's remarks not so long ago.

We have always left this question of the organisation of discipline in the schools very much in the hands of those who employ the teachers. I have no reason to think that it is not working well.

Is not the use of the cane recognised by the Home Secretary and many other authorities on this subject as one of the means of averting serious delinquency later on in life? In those circumstances, why are Socialist-controlled London County Council school managers allowed to obstruct Government policy?

I consider that the use of the cane, although it may be necessary, is an admission of failure on the part of the teacher. It is certain that the use of the cane could have a good effect only if the teacher himself believed in using it.

Are we to judge the results of the use of the cane by the products of public schools sitting opposite?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that public and educational opinion all over the United States and the U.S.S.R.—and, in fact, in every civilised country—is appalled at the recrudescence of this barbaric idea that the use of the cane is good for discipline?

We do what we think is right here. We do not need to take lessons in civilisation from other countries.

Public Schools

6.

asked the Minister of Education whether he will set up a working party to consider methods of entry and selection to public schools and to consider whether this entry should be more broadly based.

No, Sir. My policy is to raise the standards in the maintained day-schools. If there is some special reason for a boarding education, and the parents cannot afford it, local education authorities have power to help.

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to a speech made recently by the headmaster of Eton, at Manchester? Is it not time that more positive steps were taken to encourage local authorities to make grants for boys to go to public schools? Would not this do much to encourage these great institutions to expand and, perhaps, new ones to be set up?

I do not think that public schools are in any need of candidates at the moment. They have nearly all got waiting lists. I read a report of the speech of the headmaster of Eton. It raises large issues, which cannot be answered at Question Time.

Adult Education

8.

asked the Minister of Education what expansion of adult education he will encourage during 1961–62 by increasing the grants to the responsible bodies.

My Department's Vote includes£740,000 for adult education grants for the current year. This is an increase of£28,000 over last year. Most of the increase will be absorbed by unavoidable additional costs, but there will be some margin for new developments proposed by responsible bodies.

Is not this quite inadequate in regard to the right hon. Gentleman's responsibilities under the 1944 Education Act? Is not he aware that the number of staff and the amount of money involved would be quite small to make a considerable increase in the amount of adult education undertaken by responsible bodies? Will he look seriously into this matter?

There are many parts of the education service to which I should like to see more money going, but we have to have priorities, and at the moment I cannot see my way to increasing these grants.

Is it not time that the expansion referred to in the Question was tackled in quite a different way, by greatly improving the status, emoluments and conditions of service of teachers generally, so that British children could compete with foreign children in the educational field?

Youth Clubs

9.

asked the Minister of Education what increase in membership of youth clubs has taken place since his Department accepted the recommendations of the Albemarle Report.

It is too early to assess the increase in club membership, but there has been a marked growth of enthusiasm, activity, and expenditure among both local education authorities and voluntary organisations.

Would it not be very helpful if the matter were debated here, so that all these facts could be brought to light? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in County Durham there is considerable alarm because the recommendations of the Albemarle Report have not been carried out? What is his reaction to that?

I believe that there is to be a Motion on Friday on this subject. I should be glad if the Youth Service expanded in County Durham. My information is that it is going quite well.

Teachers' Salaries

13.

asked the Minister of Education, in view of the increasing unrest among teachers, what further action he intends to take to deal with their demand for an improved scale of salaries.

The Burnham Committee is now engaged in negotiating revised scales for teachers' salaries.

I am aware of that. In view of the possibility of the Burnham Committee recommending an adequate increase in salaries, does the Minister propose to take action?

Is the Minister aware of the report that he has already intimated to the Burnham Committee that he would not approve any settlement which it might reach which would involve more than a 10 per cent. increase in expenditure on teachers' salaries? Would he care to say whether that report is correct?

Unless the Minister is responsible for the report he cannot be asked about it. I do not know to what the hon. Member is referring.

Youth Service Development Council (Report)

14.

asked the Minister of Education when the Youth Service Development Council is to issue a report.

An account of progress in the youth service, including the work of the Youth Service Development Council, will be published in my Department's Annual Report for 1960.

Useful as that may be, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that it might be very helpful if a special report were made by this Council, of which I understand he is chairman? As my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) has pointed out, there is a good deal of anxiety about what is happening about the development of the Youth Service, and this might be a way of spreading information about what is being done.

I will consider that, but I hope that the hon. Lady sees our monthly bulletin called "Youth Service", which has a circulation of 22,000 copies and was started expressly for the purpose of reporting progress.

It is a monthly publication, but it does not give the picture over the country as a whole, although it gives some very interesting information about certain experiments.

Statistics (Review)

15.

asked the Minister of Education when he expects to announce the results of the review of the statistics provided to his Department.

The current review of the various parts of my Department's statistics is proceeding steadily, but will take some time to complete. As decisions are taken they are being implemented and will be evident in the statistical information published from now on.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that in answer to a recent Parliamentary Question that I put to him he confessed that he could give no useful estimate at all of the number of children taking mathematics and science and the number of hours of tuition in these subjects, although his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland provided useful and exact information on these matters? How does he expect to plan education in this scientific age without that basic information? Will he ensure that the result of his review is at least to bring his statistical services up to the level of the Scottish Education Department?

School Building

16.

asked the Minister of Education what inquiries he makes about the particular needs of each area before approving the school-building programme; and what criteria he applies to the proposals put forward by local authorities.

I ask local authorities to supply supporting information with their major building proposals, and I also have the advice of Her Majesty's Inspectors. The relative urgency of each authority's proposals is then considered within the scope of current educational building policy and the national allocation for the year.

Is the Minister aware that his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, on 23rd March in this House, spoke of local authorities putting in grossly inflated programmes for school building? Does the Minister agree with this assertion of the Parliamentary Secretary? If so, what is his evidence for saying that local authorities are putting in grossly inflated proposals?

I do not have the Parliamentary Secretary's words exactly in mind, but it is true that the proposals of some local authorities are inflated in relation to what could actually be done by the building industry in time.

Is it not clear that local authorities are putting in programmes to bring the educational standards in their localities up to the minimum requirements laid down by his Department and that, in that sense, they cannot be called inflated programmes? They are minimum programmes.

I quite agree, but it is necessary to be practical in the matter of building programmes.

School Meals

19.

asked the Minister of Education what steps he proposes to take to include fresh apples in school meals in order to promote dental health.

My right hon. Friend gives general guidance to local education authorities on nutritional standards for the meals service and has suggested that fresh fruit may be used.

Education For Industry And Commerce (Report)

21.

asked the Minister of Education when it is intended to publish the report of the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce on the various matters mentioned as having been referred to it in Better Opportunities in Technical Education, Command Paper No. 1254.

I will publish this report as soon as I have received and considered the comments of the associations of local education authorities and technical teachers.

I appreciate that it is essential to have these opinions. Will the Minister do what he can to expedite matters? Is he aware that many people are much concerned about the whole programme of technical education and that we want decisions on matters such as block release?

Northern Rhodesia

Constitution

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is yet in a position to announce the revised proposals for the Northern Rhodesian constitution.

Not yet, Sir. The discussions to which I referred in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) on 4th May are still continuing.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his constitutional proposals are now universally unpopular in Northern Rhodesia and regarded as being a departure from the non-racial principles of the 1958 constitution, being in conflict with the Treadgold Report on the franchise? Does he realise that delay over the announcement of their revision is undermining confidence in the Federation and playing into the hands of extremists on both sides?

I certainly do not agree with the first part of my right hon. Friend's statement, which is in entire contraction to the reports which I have had from the Governor and from other people. There has certainly been no delay in the announcement of these proposals. Regarding the reference to Southern Rhodesia, although the date of the referendum has not been announced, I can assure my right hon. Friend that the Northern Rhodesian discussions will be announced shortly.

Can the Secretary of State say what stage has been reached? Has every party accepted the Governor's proposals and has he put counter-proposals to them?

It is not quite in that sense. The Governor issued a memorandum explaining how the White Paper proposals would work out and possible ways in which they could be implemented. He has had meetings with the four political parties and chiefs and independents, and various meetings with people of different communities and so on, some of whom have put counterproposals. That is the situation.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that it is one thing to ensure the assent of the various parties in Northern Rhodesia to his proposals but quite another thing, in the interests of a continued Federation, to secure the assent of appropriate and smaller groups in Southern Rhodesia? Will he frame his proposals for Northern Rhodesia in such a manner as to keep the Federation in being?

The view of Her Majesty's Government has always been—as I am sure my noble Friend knows very well—that federation is the best and the right form of association for these parties. But, frankly, I do not think it possible to put it in the way in which my noble Friend puts it. This is a Northern Rhodesian constitution discussion and must be directed in the first instance to that territory.

Can my right hon. Friend say when he will be able to make some announcement as a result of the discussions now going on?

It is very difficult to give a precise time, but I should think something like three weeks.

Moscow Radio Broadcasts

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the subversive and untrue statements which have been broadcast recently by Moscow radio about conditions in Northern Rhodesia in connection with the constitutional talks; and what steps are being taken to counteract this propaganda.

Yes, Sir. The best positive answer to these grossly distorted statements is the effective dissemination of the true facts about conditions in Northern Rhodesia, and the constitutional talks and Her Majesty's Government's part in them. This has been and is being done by the B.B.C., the United Kingdom Information Services and local information services in United Kingdom territories.

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply and apologising for not being present to ask Question No. 30, may I ask if my hon. Friend will say what steps have been taken to increase the information services in Rhodesia to dispel some of this propaganda?

In the current Budget, expenditure on information services will rise from£97,000 to£157,000.

Will the hon. Gentleman agree that the most effective way to meet this kind of distorted propaganda is to ensure the speediest possible constitutional progress towards self-government in Northern Rhodesia?

Political Meetings

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what conditions political meetings of Africans are now permitted in Northern Rhodesia.

Permits are required for meetings in public places and may be withheld only if there is reason to apprehend a breach of the peace. Such conditions may be attached as are considered necessary to maintain public order.

Can the Colonial Secretary now say whether he has investigated the allegations and charges made by Mr. Kaunda, leader of the United National Independence Party, about intimidation and interference with his supporters in the Northern Province? Can he give information to the House on that matter?

I am in communication with the Governor of Northern Rhodesia on some of the matters raised with me by Mr. Kaunda when he was in this country. The position is that permits can be withheld only if there is reason to apprehend a breach of the peace.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no one, certainly not myself, is alleging that the Administration in Lusaka is withholding permits unnecessarily, but what some of us are worried about is the local administration in the Northern Province? On that particular point I should like him specially to take up the matter with the Governor.

I was aware that that was the particular point to which earlier inquiries had been directed.

Kenya

Sheep Stealing

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many sheep have been reported as stolen in Kenya during the last six months.

2,398 sheep have been reported as stolen in Kenya in the six-month period ending 31st March, 1961.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reports of sheep stealing for the purposes of obtaining sheep for Mau Mau rites show that the stealing is nearly as prevalent as it was nine years ago and that there is every indication of a revival of Mau Mau in its new form, as the terrible murder of Mrs. Osborne only last week clearly shows? Would he reassure the House that he is taking firm and immediate steps to suppress Mau Mau in its new form?

Of course firm steps will be taken. In view of my right hon. Friend's Question, I have asked for a comparison with the figures for previous years, which I have not yet received, except that last year the figure was 1,500. If my right hon. Friend wishes to put down another Question, when I have the figures I will bring them to his attention.

Ministerial Talks

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state the subjects he discussed, and the results achieved, at his recent conversations with the present Ministers of the Kenya Government.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent discussions with representatives of the new Government of Kenya.

The talks were concerned almost entirely with problems of finance and commerce. At the conclusion, we issued an agreed communiqué which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is not it a fact that Her Majesty's Government have made a substantial grant to give the new Kenya Government a fair start on its new régime?

With respect, I should not like to put the matter quite in that way. We met a delegation of Ministers of all races who had a number of projects which they wanted to start in Kenya. We discussed the whole of the future development of Kenya. Regarding Kenya's next financial year, we are now to contribute from this country£14½million, plus an amount which cannot be revealed but which has been described as substantial toward Kenya's current figure and forthcoming Budget.

While not wishing to take sides between the different political parties in Kenya, would not my right hon. Friend agree that the constructive and courageous attitude of the new Ministers has resulted in a constitutional advance and that we ought to be as generous as possible to them—I recognise we have given them a lot—to ensure that there is a stable Government under the new constitution?

With similar considerations in mind and apart from the money mentioned in the communiqué, I agree that if Ministers wish to do so, later in the year I would hold further discussions.

Can the Secretary of State tell the House why he cannot state the amount of money given towards current expenditure?

Yes, because the budget speech in Kenya has not yet been made and I cannot announce it in advance.

If it is a fact that Her Majesty's Government have granted amenities to the new Kenya Government with a view to helping them on their way, does the Minister realise that that will be welcomed on this side of the House?

Following is the communiqué:

In the course of the discussions the delegation affirmed their determination to proceed with measures designed to effect an early improvement in the country's economy. They pointed out that to this end certain projects for which plans had not previously been made, must be put in hand forthwith.
Her Majesty's Government informed the delegation of their keen appreciation of the Kenya Government's intentions in the economic field, and, as a result of detailed discussion with the delegation, agreed to proved further assistance both for development and to support the budget. As recently announced in Parliament the amount of aid to Kenya already provided in United Kingdom Votes for the current United Kingdom financial year is£7½million. In addition to this it is contemplated that an Exchequer loan of£1 million will be provided for the Kenya land settlement schemes. It was also contemplated that an Exchequer loan of£3 million would be made available provided the need for this could be established.
During the discussions, the delegation satisfied Her Majesty's Government as to the need for this loan. Her Maesty's Government have also agreed to provide a further£3 million, half of which will be grant and half loan. This means that the total assistance to be made available by Her Majesty's Government for the Kenya financial year 1961–62 will be£14½million with, in addition, and subject to the approval of Parliament, further substantial help towards recurrent expenditure which will be announced when the Kenya Government present their forthcoming budget.
This increased level of assistance will now make it possible to start at once on further agricultural, educational and works projects which in the view of the Kenya Government need to be tackled immediately.
Finally, Her Majesty's Government agree that further talks should be held before the end of the next financial year with a view to considering Kenya's needs for development in 1962–63, and subsequently. The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Iain Macleod) has also undertaken to review the situation in respect of the financial year 1961–62 if this should prove to be necessary.

Mau Man Activities

32 and 33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) in view of the further evidence of resurgence of the bestial practices of Mau Mau in Kenya, forwarded to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the Governor of Kenya, on 3rd May by the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West, what steps he is now taking to deal with this situation in the interests of all the peoples of all races in Kenya;

(2) if, in the short- and long-term interests of the peoples of Kenya, he will instruct the Governor of Kenya to hold immediate consultations with the leaders of all political parties in Kenya, with a view to the issue of a joint declaration in support of the putting down of the resurgence of Mau Mau and the maintenance of law and order.

I have drawn the Governor's attention to material forwarded to me by my hon. Friend. The Governor has ample powers to deal with any threat to security and will not hesitate to use them if necessary. I gave details of convictions in connection with oath taking in reply to a Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) on 4th May.

Hon. Members will be aware that leaders of both the main African political parties in Kenya have already clearly and publicly condemned violence in expressing their abhorrence—which I know the House will share in full measure—of the murder of Mrs. Osborne. I am, however, passing on to the Governor my hon. Friend's suggestion regarding a joint declaration by leaders of political parties.

In view of the very regrettable fact that some ten years ago the then Kenya Administration was unfortunately not fully prepared for the outbreak of Mau Mau, and the subsequent fact of the terrible death roll of Europeans, Asians and 10,000 Africans, will the Colonial Secretary assure the House that the present Kenya Administration is fully prepared for any resurgence of Mau Mau and has all the strength and ability to deal with it should it unfortunately arise? Will he assure the Governor of Kenya that this House is completely behind him in firm dealing with a matter of this kind and the maintenance of law and order in Kenya?

Yes, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I am sure the Governor knows what has been referred to in the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, but it is right to have it stated in this House and I endorse it. On the situation now as compared with some years ago, my hon. Friend knows Kenya very well indeed and I am sure he knows the number of police, for example, and the forces available now, which are entirely different and much stronger than they were before. As to the intention to use all forms of protection against violence whatever may motivate the violence, if anything, my hon. Friend need be in no doubt at all. The Governor, I think, showed conclusively in what was called "Operation Milltown" a year ago how swiftly and effectively the security forces in Kenya could move.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I say that I appreciate that the forces are there, but can he make certain that the forces know they can be fully utilised to safeguard law and order without any question of doubt in Kenya?

I am sure there is no doubt about that whatever. I have been in touch with the Governor for a long time on this particular matter.

Aden

Aden Protectorates Federation

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what further developments have taken place recently in respect of the Aden Protectorates Federation.

During my visit to Aden I was able to hear from the Federal Ministers themselves about the progress which is being made. The Federal Government have now moved into the new buildings at the Federal capital. An economic survey to provide a basis for development planning is in progress. A Federal Public Works organisation is being formed. I was impressed by the evidence of growing authority which the Federal Government is showing.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he also found among the people themselves an increasing understanding of the value of federation and, therefore, a readiness to support it?

Yes, I think that is so. It would be difficult in such a brief visit to get a comprehensive picture, but I got the impression that the Federation, which now includes all the important States of the Western Aden Protectorate, was doing very well.

Trinidad

Trinidad Cement Ltd (Strike)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that since 14th January, 1961, there has been a strike at Trinidad Cement Limited, in which the Colonial Development Corporation is a large shareholder, and that this strike is prejudicing the economy of the island; if he will state the causes of this strike; and if he will set up negotiating machinery to resolve the differences.

I have been kept informed about this strike. It began as a result of the Company's refusal to recognise the trade union which claimed to have the support of the majority of the employees. The Governor has recently informed me that negotiations under the chairmanship of the Minister of Labour have resulted in an agreement between the parties which was signed on 9th May providing for the ending of the strike and the establishment of trade union bargaining machinery. The interests of the Colonial Development Corporation are confined to non-voting preference shares which do not entitle the Corporation to intervene in the management of the company.

Is not it a fact that the strike is still continuing and that the grave economic situation in Trinidad calls for the setting up of an authoritative and independent inquiry, with an outside chairman, to investigate relations between capital and labour in the island?

As a result of that agreement, my understanding is that the strike ended the day before yesterday. But, in view of what the hon. and learned Gentleman says, I should like to check that. If this strike is over and if bargaining machinery has been established, it is a very satisfactory outcome on both counts of the investigation.

Is the Minister aware that there is great interest among trade unionists in this House on this subject and that we have done our best to help in ways that were open to us? If it turns out that the strike did not end, would the Minister consider what other action might be taken?

Yes, Sir. But I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will understand that Trinidad is virtually at the stage of full internal self-government and that this is something about which we could move only with the agreement of the Government.

East And Central Africa

Civil Service Organisations (Representations)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give a list of the Civil Service representative organisations in East and Central Africa from whom he has received representations about their future conditions of service during the last six months; and what machinery exists for settling these grievances.

I have received representations on various aspects of conditions of service from a number of associations, a list of which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Representations are submitted to me under the provisions of Colonial Regulations and full consideration is given to them in consultation with the Governor of the territory concerned or the Administrator of the East Africa High Commission. I have met representatives of several of the associations, either in East Africa or in London.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this file, which contains, very exceptionally, all the memorials I have received in the last three months on the subject of conditions of Asians, Europeans and others in these territories, is without precedent in my experience? Does he not think that, in view of this astounding spate of complaints which are being made about the implementation of the Flemming Report, some new machinery might be needed to arbitrate between himself and the Treasury, on the one hand, and the Colonial Civil Service, on the other, as undoubtedly they are feeling a strong sense of grievance?

I do not think that is surprising. I have received a great number of delegations recently and a considerable number of representations about East Africa. That is not surprising either, because Tanganyika is moving swiftly towards independence. That has repercussions in that territory and in others, and naturally all the associations write to inquire about these matters. On the question of whether there should be arbitration or not, I think associations should be—as they are—fully consulted. After all, representations are part of the machinery and it is inevitable that these matters should be considered on a Government basis.

While this House has much sympathy with the pension problems of retired civil servants and the effect on the morale of existing civil servants, does not my right hon. Friend think that the implementation of the Flemming Report will bring great benefits to those at present serving? Will he also agree that over-statement of their case by some associations is to be regretted?

Yes, I do very much. The surest proof of that is the anxiety I find among people and staff associations representing other territories not covered by the original Flemming Report to have similar conditions of service attached to them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is not the first group of territories which has reached self-government but I have never known anything like this coming from them before? Some of us are not allowed to say that these claims are over-stated because we do not know. Is it not right that the Colonial Secretary should adhere to the normal practice, that if there is a dispute on which Members of Parliament cannot arbitrate—we cannot ask for the details—there should be some machinery able to look at this again to see whether the implementation of the Flemming Report is being pursued properly or not?

I should be very glad if the hon. Member would like to send to me a commentary on some of the memorials he has received. There is no question of a change of policy, but this is inevitable because we have had both the H.M.O.C.S. scheme and the Flemming Report together. It is right that we should have these representations from East Africa. If he would like to see me further about the machinery I would be glad to see him, but my impression is that on these matters concerning Governments in East Africa which are at different stages of evolution and economy for this country to arbitrate would not be a suitable method of settling differences.

Will my right hon. Friend undertake to keep the House well informed on the situation in Tanganyika? I am sure he will agree that this should be done on two scores. First, the future employment of overseas civil servants who lose their positions. Secondly, the danger that the newly independent Government of Kenya may be so depleted of talented service as to have their efficiency impaired? Will he assure the House that he will keep us well informed and devote all his efforts towards avoiding these two dangers?

I will do that. This is one of the matters I will be discussing next month with the Tanganyika Ministers when they come here.

Following is the list:

  • Tanganyika European Civil Servants' Association.
  • Tanganyika Asian Civil Servants' Association.
  • Tanganyika Overseas Recruited Asian Government Servants' Union.
  • Railway Asian Union, Tanganyika.
  • Customs Asian Union, Tanganyika.
  • Kenya Civil Servants' Union.
  • Senior Civil Servants' Association of Kenya.
  • Clerical and Allied Civil Servants' Association of Kenya.
  • Asian Postal Union, Kenya.
  • The East Africa High Commission Association of Professional, Technical and Executive Officers (various branches).
  • The East Africa Posts and Telecommunications European Staff Association (various branches).
  • The East Africa Railways and Harbours European Staff Association (various branches).
  • The East Africa High Commission Non-Self-Contained Departments European Staff Association, Tanganyika.
  • The Federation of the East Africa High Commission European Staff Associations (Tanganyika).
  • High Commission African Staff Union (Kenya).
  • Posts and Telecommunications African Workers Union (Kenya).
  • Uganda Railway African Union.
  • Uganda Asian Civil Servants' Association.
  • Uganda African Civil Servants' Association
  • Zanzibar European Civil Servants' Association.
  • Nyasaland Senior Civil Servants' Association.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Fish Merchant, Cleethorpes (Complaint)

38.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has studied the complaints, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Louth, of a Cleethorpes fish merchant whose fish arrives by train in Leeds early in the morning but is not delivered to the Leeds fish market till 7.30 a.m., whereas fish from Aberdeen is delivered at 6 a.m.; and, in view of his responsibilities for the efficient distribution of fresh food, if he will make representations to the British Transport Commission to speed up deliveries of fish from Cleethorpes to the Leeds market.

I have been in touch with the British Transport Commission and they have asked for more details than the hon. Member furnished me with in his letter. If the hon. Member will provide me or the Commission with the further details I have asked him for in reply to his letter, then the British Transport Commission will be glad to investigate the matter.

I am under the impression that I sent these details to the Minister of Transport to whom the Question was first put. I think that there must have been some misunderstanding between the two Departments. I will send the details to my right hon. Friend. All I am asking is that the Grimsby fish merchants should be protected. Their trade is entirely dependent on the railway services, and at the moment they feel that their Scottish competitors are getting an advantage. Will he see that they get a fair crack of the whip?

My information is that British Railways require the date and size of the consignments, and they further say that no representations have as yet been made to them locally. If my hon. Friend will provide me with these details, I know that British Railways will be glad to have them.

Would the Minister agree that one reason for this situation is that the interests of Cleethorpes and Louth are not so forcibly represented in this House as are those of North Aberdeen?

The hon. Gentleman would not necessarily arrive at the right conclusion if he thought that.

Is the Minister aware that Aberdeen gets up very early in the morning to do its business, and does it very effectively?

The Question is not about the time at which Aberdeen gets up. It is about the time at which fish is delivered to Leeds in the morning.

Space Research

40.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of their respective responsibilities towards a space research programme and the importance of co-ordinating public statements on this subject, he will instruct the Minister of Aviation and the Minister for Science to consult together before the issue of official statements concerning space research.

No, Sir. There is no need for me to instruct Ministers to consult together on matters of mutual concern.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minister for Science is always belittling the possibility of Britain having an independent space programme? At the moment, the Minister of Aviation is patriotically and correctly saying that we could perfectly well have one. Is not this very confusing? Will the Prime Minister understand that we must make up our minds soon about what we are going to do about the Blue Streak rocket? Will he assure the House that he will not be put off by the Americans dumping cheap-rate rockets on Europe, but will have our own independent rocket launcher?

There are quite a number of questions in that supplementary question, but perhaps the most important is with regard to the programme which we hope to be able to organise. We shall certainly try to reach a final conclusion as soon as possible.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the whole spectrum of industrial technology is associated with space research, and can he say how we will maintain an industrial basis for our society unless we are involved in these technologies?

I think that what the hon. Gentleman said contains matter for deep thought, which I shall certainly give to it.

Does the Prime Minister accept what is generally being urged on us, that if we are not in this field at all in the sense of ourselves providing some of the machinery and thereby learning the technological problems we will, in fact, suffer a considerable blow nationally? If he accepts that, ought not he to talk rather firmly to our American allies about the action that they seem to be taking to keep us and our rockets out of this field, and to keep the field to themselves?

I do not think that that was the intention of the Secretary of State. I am informed that any question of American launchers being used would have to be from American bases, which could not possibly take the place of a European or British launching system, but would be additional to and not in place of a European or a British system.

Is not the Prime Minister aware that his Government have been trying to make up their mind on this problem for over a year and a half? What possible excuse can there be for further delay? Can his Government not make up their mind about any important subject?

What I think the hon. Gentleman does not appreciate is that the work on Blue Streak has gone on continuously.

The right hon. Gentleman did not answer the first point I put to him, and about which we would all like to be clear. Does he accept the view being urged on us that unless we are in this in the sense of using or providing our own rocket and thereby ourselves learning the problems, we will suffer considerable damage?

I suppose that one could say that of anything, but there are two different aspects to this. There is the launching technique, or what we might call rocketry technique, which I hope we will be staying in as part of a European organisation which would be a fine thing to get going, and there is the separate part of the satellite, the instruments, and the whole spectrum of scientific information which comes from the instruments which are put into the sky.

Security (D-Notices)

41.

asked the Prime Minister which Minister is responsible for preparing the D-list; how many copies are circulated; and to whom, in addition to newspaper editors, this document is sent.

Ministerial responsibility for D-notices rests on the Minister responsible for the subject covered by the notice. The circulation varies according to the subject matter.

We appreciate that the Prime Minister has little time for effective general supervision of our Secret Service. Is it not rather ridiculous to continue this relic of war-time censorship for the purpose of concealing information which a potential enemy already knows? Will he put copies of this document in the Library so that hon. Members can judge for themselves the futility of what was issued in connection with the George Blake case?

No, Sir. It can hardly be described as a relic of war-time procedure, as it began in 1912. Secondly, I think that there were advantages in this procedure, and they have been of importance.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the question of the D-list and the handling of the Press in this matter is quite distinct from the broader issues of the Blake case, on which I understand he is to make a statement later? Is he aware that there is a good deal of anxiety about how this D-list operated on this occasion? Can he throw any light on how it was that when British newspapers were asked not to publish certain in formation, this information was nevertheless published, presumably becoming available——

Order. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is trespassing on Question No. 49, unless I hace misunderstood the situation.

I hope that I am not wrong. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question was anticipating Question No. 49.

I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, but it was not my intention to anticipate Question No. 49. If you will wait until I have finished my question, you will see that it arises out of Question No. 41.

I am referring to the question of the D-list, which is not referred to in Question No. 49, and I am asking whether on this occasion the issue of the notice concerning the D-list was not one of the factors which appears to have resulted, no doubt indirectly, in far more publicity being given to this matter than would otherwise have been the case?

No, Sir. I think that it had the opposite effect, and quite an important element of time was involved.

But was it not also the case—[Interruption.] I cannot understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite are not interested in this important question. Is it not the case that first the British Press was asked not to publish certain information, then not to publish what was in foreign newspapers, and was then allowed to publish it? Does not this suggest that the whole way in which this question of the D-list was handled was really very unsatisfactory on this occasion?

No, Sir. I still think—and I have discussed this, but I cannot publicly discuss it—that there were reasons why some advantage in time was important.

Water Supplies (Conservation)

42.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the rapidly increasing use of rivers for irrigation, especially in the agricultural counties of eastern England; and whether he will instruct the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs to consult together with a view to the establishment of one authority responsible for the conservation and use of water.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir".

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government expects to receive a report on water conservation from a sub-committee of the Central Advisory Water Committee later in the summer and he is already in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. A memorandum has recently-been circulated to interested bodies outlining tentative proposals for a new approach to water conservation and river management. Their views on the proposals are now awaited.

Does the Prime Minister realise that, even if we have a summer of only average rainfall, a most serious position may arrive, especially in eastern England? Will he instruct his colleagues to do everything they can to speed up the consideration of this matter, which has dragged on for a very long time?

Great improvements have taken place. I admit that it is an important matter, and it is for that reason that my right hon. Friend is acting.

Nuclear Weapons

43.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will propose to President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev that the three nuclear powers should immediately conclude a treaty not to transfer nuclear weapons to other countries or groups of nations.

I have every sympathy with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's objective. I think that the most effective first step towards this objective would be the speedy conclusion of a Treaty to stop the testing of nuclear weapons.

Does the Prime Minister agree that it is very much in the general interest to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons? Would not such a treaty make a substantial contribution to achieving that result?

Yes, but if we cannot make progress with the much easier treaty to arrange, namely, the one now being discussed at Geneva, I do not think that we are likely to make progress in this wider sphere. I reiterate the hope which is widely felt in every part of the House and the country, namely, that progress will be made and that the Soviet representatives will adopt a more constructive attitude at the Geneva Conference.

Disarmament

44.

asked the Prime Minister what representations he has received from Mr. Khrushchev with regard to early discussion on disarmament.

If I had received any message, it would, of course, be confidential. But I have received none since our talk in New York last autumn.

In view of the statement published in The Times of 8th March purporting to come from Washington, to the effect that these bilateral talks would start in May and in mid-June would proceed to a consideration of the composition of the main conference to start in August, may we take it that Her Majesty's Government will have the opportunity of offering their suggestions as to the composition of the conference in relation to the presence of neutrals and the Republic of China?

We have been consulted. I understand that there are to be bilateral talks between the Soviet and United States Governments, perhaps in June or July, to try to find a proposal, which the two Governments may make to their colleagues, for an acceptable basis for the resumption of multilateral disarmament discussions. In all this we are in close touch with the United States Government.

Home Secretary (Speech)

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Secretary of State for the Home Department in Essex on Saturday indicating special treatment for the farmers in respect of the proposed payroll tax represents Government policy.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary pointed out that the payroll tax was being held in reserve. He used these words: "If it is imposed it may not be exactly in the form at present suggested". I think what my right hon. Friend had in mind was the Chancellor of the Exchequers statement that if this proposal became next year a permanent part of our defensive economic structure it may be possible to devise a more flexible system than the present one, which is necessarily based on the national insurance machinery.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that statement. Can he assure the country that the payroll tax as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to be retained for this year as an instrument for revenue-raising purposes, or am I right in assuming that it could be used on a selective basis, as many Ministers have suggested from time to time? The suggestion has given industrialists and other people generally cause for great apprehension. Can we have a firm statement as to what is intended?

I do not want to anticipate the debates on the Finance Bill, but I think this is the position. This is an instrument, a so-called economic regulator, which the Treasury and my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer wish to have in their hands in case it is necessary to use it. It is hoped that, if it has to be continued as a permanent instrument, it will be possible to organise it in a more flexible and effective manner.

If the payroll tax is to be used, is it to be imposed in the form proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or in the form now proposed by the Home Secretary?

It is clear that if it became necessary to use it this year it could be used only on the basis of the National Insurance Scheme, on which it is based. Therefore, any flexibility must be within the different categories of the National Insurance Scheme. If, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated in his Budget speech, it were made part of what I might call the permanent instruments of economic regulation, it would be hoped in that period to devise a more flexible instrument.

Would it not have been better if this had been thought out before it was introduced?

It was useful to have this, like the other regulator. All this is to be debated in the Finance Bill and I do not want to waste unnecessary time.

Security (Services And Government Departments)

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will inform the House of the special security steps which were taken by Her Majesty's Government after the end of the war to ensure that known Communists who had been recruited into British service during the war were not retained in posts either in Government Departments or in Service appointments where information of a secret nature could be obtained.

The purpose and efficiency of these measures would be frustrated if they were disclosed in detail. The procedures have, however, been progressively strengthened—in 1948, 1952 and 1956.

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, can I reserve my supplementary question until after the Prime Minister has made the statement at the end of Questions?

Is the Prime Minister aware that the trouble in the Foreign Office does not seem to be the known Communists there but the respectable Tories and Liberals who in the process of studying Communism become Communists? What does he intend to do about it?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would help in counter-indoctrination.

Underwater Warfare (Documents)

47.

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that United States documents concerned with secret experimental work on underwater warfare, entrusted by the Admiralty to one of their contractors, have been lost or stolen; and if he is satisfied with the action that has been taken in this matter.

Documents of the kind described are missing at a contractors' works. A thorough investigation has been made and the circumstances indicate that the documents are more likely to have been mislaid than lost or stolen.

Security (Conference Of Privy Councillors)

48.

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied that the recommendations mentioned in paragraph 8 of the Conference of Privy Councillors on Security of 1956, Command Paper No. 9715, have been carried out, especially in view of the fact that paragraph 4 of that report refers specifically to the danger of espionage by people subject to Communist influence.

The recommendations of the Conference of Privy Councillors were implemented in full by instructions subsequently issued to Departments.

Are we to take it that they were totally ineffective in the Blake case, because the Blake case seems to be absolutely on all fours with the danger to which the Privy Councillors drew attention of people who are either contacts of Communism or may be indoctrinated by Communism?

No. I think that the instructions have been carried out, but in one case—the Admiralty case—a Committee is sitting to examine whether they have been carried out in the form in which they were approved by the Privy Councillors or whether there has been some dereliction of duty on that matter. On the larger question, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will await the statement I propose to make at the end of Questions.

49.

asked the Prime Minister by what authority, and for what purpose, Her Majesty's Government requested the British Press to refrain from publishing information which had already appeared in the foreign Press.

I have already explained in my reply to the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) the basis on which guidance is given to the Press in such cases. The Lord Chief Justice decided in the public interest to hear the case of George Blake in camera. For the same reasons it was undesirable that there should be speculation at that time about the details of the case.

Will the Prime Minister tell us, in view of his earlier reply, which Minister made this decision? Is he aware that what worries a number of people in the House is the belief that on this occasion the procedure was used not to protect the British public and British security but to protect Her Majesty's Ministers? There seems to be no other reason for it.

In answer to the first part of the question, I personally authorised it. With regard to the second part of the supplementary question, I absolutely repudiate what the hon. Gentleman said.

Can the Prime Minister throw any light on why the foreign Press published a great deal of information about this case when the British Press was not permitted to do so? Does he agree that it is very unfortunate that so much publicity has been given to this, doing almost as serious damage as the case itself? Will he give us rather fuller answer in this respect?

I would rather not add anything publicly to the position I have taken. There were some advantages from the time lag. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman privately exactly what happened.

Does the Prime Minister agree that, if this system is used to keep things out of the British Press which are in the foreign Press and, therefore, known to everyone in the world except the British people, it is getting very close to political rather than security censorship?

That is not the case. I am quite satisfied that it was right, for a number of reasons which I do not wish to reveal, to issue this statement on that day.

Is the Prime Minister aware, as I said earlier, that this is in our view a quite distinct issue from the subject of the statement? Has he inquired into the question how the foreign Press obtained this information? Even if he cannot give us an answer, can he give us at least an assurance that the matter has been inquired into? It is very serious.

Is the Prime Minister taking any steps to ensure that this kind of leakage, as I think it clearly was, does not happen again?

It was not exactly leakage. I can explain to the right hon. Gentleman privately what happened.

Is the Prime Minister telling the House that Members of Parliament and members of the British public are not entitled to the same amount of information as is readily available to the nationals of other nations?

That is not the point. The point is whether, in the circumstances which came to my attention, when I heard the circumstances of the case, I was right to authorise the issuing of this notice. We never discuss in this House matters of this kind. I am satisfied that what I did was right, and what happened subsequently confirms me that it was an advantage.

Would the Prime Minister tell us if it was the issuing of the D-notice which provided the information to the foreign Press, or did it obtain it in some other way?

No, it was not the issuing of the D-notice, which was rigorously observed, broadly, by the Press, but an incident occurred later which to that extent weakened the position, but not altogether destroyed the purpose which we had in mind.

May I ask the Prime Minister to tell the House candidly whether it was an error that this information got into the foreign Press, and, if so, how it happened; or, if it was not an error, how he justifies it? I can understand the reasons for the D-notice, but the whole basis on which the D-notice procedure rests will be completely destroyed if information which is forbidden to the British Press is allowed to leak out to the foreign Press.

I am sure that, quite unintentionally, the Prime Minister makes it very difficult for those who want to approach this not only in a responsible way but even to the point of withholding questions which otherwise ought to be asked. If he makes the kind of answer which he did to the last supplementary question, one has to ask who is he alleging planted it? Was it planted from here or from America? It seems a little unlikely that the Herald-Tribune had it planted from Russia, which would be very difficult; or what does he mean?

I do not wish to take it any further, except to say that if the House does not trust me—I hope it trusts my personal word—I believe that what I did was right and had some advantage. It is true that the advantage was not sustained for as long a period as I had hoped. I think there was advantage in it, and that what I did was right. I cannot go further than that for reasons which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will understand.

Questions To Ministers

On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that Question No. 50 has now been talked out for the seventh successive occasion? Is there any help or advice which you can give to enable my hon. Friend to ask the Prime Minister the Question to which we are all eagerly awaiting the answer?

I should like to help the hon. Gentleman, but I can do nothing but continue to urge brevity, so that we may make better progress with Questions.

Business Of The House

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 15TH MAY—We shall begin the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, which will be resumed on TUESDAY, 16TH MAY.

WEDNESDAY, 17TH MAY, and THURSDAY, 18TH MAY—A debate will take place on Foreign Affairs.

To meet the general wishes of the House, two days are being allocated for this debate.

The Government are giving one day and the Opposition propose that an allotted Supply Day shall be taken formally.

FRIDAY, 19TH MAY—Adjournment for the Whitsun Recess until TUESDAY, 30TH MAY.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is the intention of the Opposition to put down a Motion for the foreign affairs debate in order to concentrate the debate somewhat and make it rather tidier? It will, however, be in terms not intended to divide the House or the nation.

May I also ask him, about the length of the Whitsun Recess, whether I am not right in supposing that this is a week shorter than we normally have? Can it be that the Government have had a little trouble in getting their business through? Could the right hon. Gentleman throw some light on why the change has been made?

I think that it will be reasonable if we ask the right hon. Gentleman to discuss the Motion for the foreign affairs debate through the usual channels. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to divide the House or the country. We are also keen to keep the scope of the debate as wide as possible.

Latterly, it has been the custom to have two weeks for the Whitsun Recess, but, formerly, it was usual to have the length of time that we are allotting on this occasion. The Government have made good progress with their business—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in the interests of the country generally. We have a heavy and formidable programme, which we propose to pass through in good time, and we think that this is a reasonable time for the Recess.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that not everybody shares his view? Is he also aware that there are a lot of duties which Members of Parliament have to do, and that many of them require time at Whitsuntide? We do not want to see his legislation actually held up, but is he aware that some of it is not really very necessary, and that some of it, like the North Atlantic Shipping Bill, is highly undesirable? Will he think again about the matter?

No, Sir. I have announced the decision of the Government about the length of the Whitsun Recess. The legislation which we have to put through is very important, and I cannot, therefore, agree with my hon. Friend.

Have the Government abandoned altogether both the Weights and Measures Bill and the Road Traffic Bill, and, if so, is not this further evidence that the Leader of the House has entirely lost control of the Government's legislative programme?

No, Sir. I have no statement to make on those Measures at present, but the Government have complete control of the legislative programme, and we have, in fact, made exactly the progress which we foresaw. We have a heavy programme of legislation after the Whitsun Recess, and the Finance Bill to get through. I think that we are following the normal practice in making the Recess between the 19th and the 30th, which, I think, is ample time.

Is the Leader of the House aware that his explanation why the Whitsun Recess should be cut in half is not adequate? Can he explain the difference this year, compared with what I think has been the practice for five, six or even ten years, during which we have had a two weeks' Recess? Has there been some change in the Government's position? We are all willing to sit here an extra week, but we are entitled to make sure that it is for necessary business.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman added the latter part of his remarks, because on every occasion when I have moved the Motion for the Adjournment for any particular Recess, there have been violent observations from the opposite side of the House that, first, we should have no Recess at all, or that we should have a short week-end. On this occasion, we are having ten or eleven days, which will be sufficient for the Government to recuperate, even though the Opposition may be so fatigued that they want three or four weeks.

May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to Item No. 12 of the Orders of the Day—Suicide Bill [Lords]? Can he tell us when this eagerly awaited event is to take place? If he cannot, will he say when his own Motion on House of Lords reform is likely to be brought before the House?

[ That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament be appointed to consider, having regard among other things to the need to maintain an efficient Second Chamber,

  • (a) the composition of the House of Lords,
  • (b) whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the rights of Peers and Peeresses in their own right in regard to eligibility to sit in either House of Parliament and to vote at Parliamentary elections; and whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the law relating to the surrender of peerages, and
  • (c) whether it would be desirable to introduce the principle of remuneration for Members of the House of Lords, and if so subject to what conditions,
  • and to make recommendations.]

    It is obvious that this Motion will not be brought before the House before Whitsun, and it therefore follows that it will be taken after Whitsun. The Suicide Bill [Lords], which has passed through another place, is a desirable Measure.

    May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the threat to the maintenance of law and order in Kenya by the resurgence of Mau Mau, he will consider an early debate in the House on Kenya?

    I did not gather from the right hon. Gentleman's statement any indication of the nature of the business to be taken in the week we return. It is likely that we shall then have that long awaited debate on shipping and shipbuilding?

    I cannot give a definite date for such a debate, but I will make an announcement about the business for that week before we rise.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say when the House will have the opportunity of further considering the Army and Air Force Bill?

    If the right hon. Gentleman is still in control of the Government's legislative programme, will he tell us, in rather more direct language than he usually employs, whether the Government are proceeding with the Weights and Measures Bill or not?

    Security Procedures And Practices (Committee)

    With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will now make a statement.

    In accordance with what I told the House on Thursday, 4th May, I have been reviewing what further measures should be taken to protect the security of the realm. I made it clear then that I did not rule out the possibility of a further inquiry into our security system. I have now had an opportunity of considering the whole matter in some detail and I have discussed it with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and some of his colleagues. I have also taken account of the public anxiety which has been aroused by the case of George Blake and by other recent convictions under the Official Secrets Acts.

    The Government have decided that a fresh review should be made of the security procedures and practices currently in force throughout the public service. I propose that this review should be undertaken by a body of independent persons of standing, who will, between them, be able to bring to bear on this problem a judgment based on wide and varied experience. The names of the Chairman and other members will be announced as soon as possible. The terms of reference will be as follows:
    In the light of recent convictions for offences under the Official Secrets Acts, to review the security procedures and practices currently followed in the public service; and to consider what, if any, changes are required.
    The House will recall that the Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Charles Romer which is already inquiring into the circumstances connected with the earlier case of espionage at an Admiralty establishment at Portland was required by its terms of reference to
    "…draw attention to any failure in existing security procedures which may come to their notice in the course of its inquiry."
    The findings of the Romer Committee will, of course, be made available to the new Committee, which will be able to take them into account in the wider inquiry which it is to undertake.

    The new Committee will report to me as Prime Minister. Until I receive the Report I cannot say whether it will be possible to publish it in whole or in part. While the responsibility for any action lies with the Government, it is a longstanding tradition of this House that in these matters there should be consultation between the Government and the Opposition. I shall, therefore, consult the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition when I have the Report.

    Is the Prime Minister aware that there will, I think, be much satisfaction with his statement that he has decided to appoint a Committee of the character he has described? Would he confirm that he will consult the members of the Opposition, with whom he has contact, on the membership of the Committee?

    We have had some discussion of it. I hope that we wall be able to get a membership that will be generally agreeable.

    I welcome the decision to have an independent Committee of inquiry, but will my right hon. Friend agree to put on that Committee one or two people who have had some experience of these matters; and that the Committee should not be composed entirely of people who are really on the Olympian heights? Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the country would prefer some down-to-earth people as well, who know something about what goes on in this direction?

    Of course, I will bear that in mind, but my hon. Friend will know that some persons who may be called eventually to reach Olympian heights have gone up the steep road through the ravines, and some of those may be very valuable to us.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say what sort of person he is looking for as chairman of this Committee? We have had one inquiry into these procedures and, obviously, it has been ineffective. The Committee of Privy Councillors reported in 1956, and it was obviously ineffective in the Blake case. Is the Prime Minister looking for a mind with traditional experience, or one of experience in the foreign service, or the public service?

    I will try to find for the Committee the people whom I think will do the work best, but I am bound to say that it is one thing to try to get people, and another to get them to serve on what will be a rather long and arduous undertaking. I hope that we shall be able, and I feel sure that we shall be able, to obtain a Committee that will command the general confidence of the House and the country.