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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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The West Indies

Inter-Governmental Conference, Trinidad

1.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what agreements have been reached at the inter-governmental talks in Trinidad about the future of the West Indies Federation; and whether he will make a statement.

The Inter-governmental Conference in Trinidad ended on Tuesday. I have not seen a full report of its conclusions, but I understand that agreement was reached on a wide range of matters. There are, however, certain outstanding questions which remain to be decided. I hope that the Constitutional Conference which opens at Lancaster House on 31st May will reach final agreement on all these questions and that it will be possible to agree a date for independence.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how delighted are all those of us who take an interest in the Caribbean that there now seems to be every prospect of a Federation with Jamaica taking part in it? Could he say with regard to these talks, which have reached so much agreement, to what extent it seems likely that the Federal Government will be less powerful than was perhaps originally envisaged, and also to what extent any special concessions have been made to meet Jamaica's particular difficulties?

The fundamental argument in these territories, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well, is between those who feel that there should be a very tight form of Federation and those who feel that there should be a much looser form. What I find encouraging about the Inter-governmental Conference, which was expected to be very difficult, is that it has, on the whole, reached a considerable range of agreement. There are some matters on freedom of movement and of allocation of revenues that we shall have to discuss in London, but it is too early to be precise on the forms that the decisions will take.

Jamaican Sugar

5.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many tons of Jamaican sugar are included in the additional West Indian allocation of the United States sugar import market, arranged in April, 1961; what surplus production this is likely to leave in Jamaica; and what representations are being made by the United Kingdom in Washington that the surplus should be taken by the United States when the reserved figure of 1,200,000 tons is allocated to producer countries later in 1961.

A total of 31,349 short tons of Jamaican sugar is included in this allocation. This will leave about 70,000 short tons available for export this year in excess of all Jamaica's existing export quotas and United States allocations, although much more could readily be made available for the United States market if required. The United States authorities have been given full information about the amounts of sugar which the West Indies could supply in 1961 and in the long term.

Will Her Majesty's Government help by pressing in Washington that America should take as much as possible of the sugar as quickly as possible? Secondly, could Her Majesty's Government help in putting on further pressure in Washington to make sure that longer-term guarantees in respect of West Indian sugar are given instead of having this matter reach danger point every year?

We put forward the claims of many territories, not just of Jamaica but of the whole of the West Indies and such places as Mauritius and Fiji and countries in the Commonwealth, too. Representation is made on behalf of them all. Answering the second part of the supplementary question, the allocations which are made are temporary, and I think that the question of the permanent quotas will arise later when the American Sugar Act is amended.

Northern Rhodesia

Constitution

2.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in the discussions on the new constitution for Northern Rhodesia.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) on 11th May.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea when he expects to be able to make a statement on the results of these discussions and will he confirm that, although the Federal Prime Minister will be advised of the progress made, there is now no question of Sir Roy Welensky having to be consulted about these discussions?

On the first point, I gave what can only be a very rough guess last week. I should think that we should be able to make an announcement on these matters in the early days of June, in other words, very shortly after the House reassembles. On the second point, the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Federal Government and the Federal Prime Minister have every right to be consulted. Indeed, it is laid down that they will be consulted, but they do not themselves take part in the discussions.

Is it not a fact that now that we are on the threshold of reaching agreement between Great Britain and the people of Northern Rhodesia, represented through their various political parties, it would be most regrettable if an outside influence were brought to bear, possibly vetoing the successful outcome of these talks?

There never has been any question of that, and in his own words—I paraphrase them, though they are as near to what he said as makes no difference—Sir Roy Welensky said, "I recognise that I am not a party to these talks but that the Federal Government have a full right to be consulted." They always have been consulted, and, of course, they will be.

Does my right hon. Friend realise how welcome will be the end of his first supplementary answer? Does he not agree that there could be nothing more stupid than to continue this malicious vendetta against Sir Roy Welensky, who has every right to be consulted?

Primary And Secondary Schools

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many primary and secondary schools, respectively, there are in Northern Rhodesia for Africans.

There are 1,543 lower primary schools, 460 upper primary schools and 26 secondary schools.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that Moscow Radio recently broadcast the statement that there were only eight schools for 3 million Africans in Northern Rhodesia? Will he do his best to see that his Answer receives maximum publicity?

African Schools (Disturbances)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what were the findings of the Commission of Inquiry as to the causes of disturbances in certain African schools in Northern Rhodesia in 1959 and 1960; and to what extent the United National Independence Party was held responsible for influencing the disturbances.

The causes of the disturbances are considered in Chapter X of the Commission's Report, of which I have sent my hon. Friend a copy. The Commission exonerated the United National Independence Party of direct responsibility but was satisfied that the party's policy and the actions of some party members were indirectly responsible for the disturbances.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer and for sending me a copy of the Report. Will he agree that the part played by the U.N.I.P. was about as bad as the part played by the Communist Party in strikes in this country?

I am not sure that I should like to make such a comparison without examining it a good deal more closely. This Report was laid before the Legislative Council last July and the Government have said that virtually all the recommendations will be accepted.

Nyasaland

Election

3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the Nyasaland election will be held; and what are the reasons for the delay.

There has been no delay. The procedures for the registration of voters have been going on smoothly, and, as I have already undertaken, the election will be held as soon as is practicable.

What does that mean? May we have the date of the election? The people of Nyasaland want to get on with the job of electing their own representatives in order to have someone to speak effectively in their name.

Of course I cannot give a date. If the hon. Member studies these matters, he will see that there are a considerable number of statutory processes to go through for which minimum times are allotted, and the length of time which they take depends on matters which are entirely unknown to me, such as the number of claims which may be registered against those who have put their names on the voters' roll. It is, therefore, not possible at present to give a date, but it will be as soon as practicable, and that is not very far off.

Employment

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what special steps are being taken to find employment in Nyasaland for the increasing number of those seeking work, in view of the increase in population due to the recent influx from Angola.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many refugees from Angola from Portuguese policies of colonial repression have sought asylum in Nyasaland over the last few weeks? Can he assure us that those who seek asylum will be given it and that their welfare will be looked after?

I do not know of any refugees. I should have thought that it was rather unlikely that there would be any, because, after all, the two territories are about 600 miles apart.

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to have a look at the copy of the Malawi News of Nyasaland and I have here, which includes photographs of Angola refugees in Nyasaland?

Of course I will. I shall be glad to do that, but the hon. Member knows very well that there is a great distance between the territories. I have no information that any influx has taken place.

Kenya

Mr Motsamai Mpho

4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what grounds Mr. Motsamai Mpho, a British-protected person from Bechuanaland, was refused permission at Nairobi to proceed as a delegate to the Pan-African Conference at Cairo, and was returned to Bechuanaland handcuffed and under police guard.

Mr. Mpho arrived in Nairobi on 20th March by Central African Airways. The East African Airways Corporation, however, declined to book him on to Cairo, his ultimate destination, because he had neither a passport nor a visa for the United Arab Republic. In these circumstances, Mr. Mpho had no claim to an in-transit pass, without which his entry into Kenya was illegal. He was therefore served with a Notice to a Prohibited Immigrant under the Kenya Immigration Regulations, 1957, and required to remain on board and return by the aircraft on which he arrived. He was only in Nairobi some 45 minutes and at no time there was he handcuffed or placed under police guard, nor was he handcuffed when he arrived in Bechuanaland.

Whatever the circumstances and whatever the technical excuse, is it not clear that this conference in Cairo was held with the good will of the Government of the United Arab Republic and that they would immediately have admitted him into that country, even if he had been without a visa? In view of the representative character of this conference, which was even attended by an observer from the Conservative Party, is it not a great mistake to have prevented a representative from Bechuanaland from attending?

No. I am bound to say that I do not agree with that. With respect to the hon. Member, I cannot accept that it is the merest detail to put on the Order Paper statements about people being handcuffed and under police guard where that is not so; I cannot accept that it is not a matter of great importance. It should not be done without the closest investigation by the hon. Member concerned. It seems to me quite clear that if somebody arrived with only a local travel document valid within the Protectorate, and with neither a passport nor a visa, then the action of both the airline and the Kenya Government was entirely correct.

Does not the Government of Bechuanaland have a certain responsibility here? Did this gentleman apply for a passport and for a visa in Bechuanaland and had he difficulties in getting them there?

I cannot answer that without notice, but I will gladly go into the matter. The only travel document which he had was a Protectorate Administration native's travelling pass, and clearly the East African Airways Corporation, in my view rightly, thought that that could not possibly be accepted as taking the place of both a passport and a visa for onward transit to Cairo.

On a point of order. In view of what the Minister said, am I entitled to make this personal statement—that a month ago I sent him a letter from Mr. Mpho including the statements which are made in the Question and asked him to make an inquiry. I have had no reply to that letter.

Public Meetings

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will propose to the Governor of Kenya that the ban on public meetings be lifted.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the present restrictions on the holding of political meetings in Kenya; and what changes are proposed.

Any person wishing to hold a public meeting must first apply for a licence to the local district commissioner who, if he is satisfied that the meeting is not likely to prejudice the maintenance of public order, is required to issue the licence. Some time ago, district commissioners were advised to bear in mind, when considering applications, that there was a grave danger that public meetings might so exacerbate the already high political feelings that breaches of peace might occur. But with the formation of the new Government this danger seems less acute, and it is the hope that applications can now be granted much more freely.

Is the Secretary of State aware that only yesterday in the Legislative Council in Nairobi the Minister stated that the ban would be lifted and that I had, therefore, hoped to be able to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the change? If district commissioners still have power to prohibit meetings, will the utmost influence be used so that the African leaders may guide public opinion in Kenya against violence and against continued oath taking?

There is something of a risk either way, in allowing public meetings and in stopping them, in the present situation in Kenya. I am, of course, aware of what was said in the Legislative Council yesterday, and it is the fact that the Government have decided, with the agreement of all Ministers, consisting of people of all races, that this ban should virtually disappear and that public meetings should be permitted.

There will be a general welcome for the statement which the Minister has just made. Will he bear in mind, in the existing circumstances in Kenya and against the background of anxieties of the kind frequently expressed from the benches behind him, that in politics, sometimes, if one shows too much fear and distrust, one creates the very conditions which one fears and that, although there may be risks either way, there are sometimes important benefits to be gained by taking risks on the side of creating good will?

I do not dissent from that, provided that the hon. Gentleman is prepared to recognise the other side of the coin, that there are risks at present in having a more flexible policy in relation to public meetings. Either way, a risk has to be taken. The decision of the Government of Kenya is that the lesser risk of the two is, in effect, to allow public meetings.

Mr Jomo Kenyatta

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a further statement of his policy on the release of Jomo Kenyatta.

No, Sir; the Governor made the position in regard to Kenyatta's release very clear in his statement of 1st March.

Does not the Secretary of State know, particularly after his recent talks with Mr. Nyerere and others, how strong the feeling throughout the Continent is? Is he not aware that Mr. Kenyatta—as he is now officially described by the Government—denounced violence in much rounder terms than were used by that distinguished Commonwealth statesman Archbishop Makarios when he was in similar circumstances, and that public opinion, including white European settler opinion, in Kenya was, if reluctantly, reconciled to Mr. Kenyatta's release some months ago, when the Governor made a very unfortunate broadcast? Will the Secretary of State look round the Commonwealth, learn from history, and accelerate what is an inevitable process which can do nothing but help the Government in reaching a peaceful solution in Kenya?

I have always thought it a fallacy to compare Mau Mau with other even violent nationalist movements such as Eoka. There were elements in Mau Mau, as the House knows very well—though it may not wish to allocate responsibility—which set it quite aside from comparisons of that kind. Of course, all these matters were taken carefully into consideration by the Governor and myself before we reached this decision.

Agricultural Development, Masailand

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to promote agricultural development in Masailand.

Her Majesty's Government have made, and are making, considerable sums of money available under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for the Kenya Government's agricultural development programme as a whole. I am asking the Governor whether he can provide details of those parts of the programme which relate specifically to the Masai areas, and I will write to the hon. Member when I have his reply.

I thank the Secretary of State for that Answer. Will he suggest that the Governor might have a word with the Paramount Chief of the Masai, who is particularly interested in extended help and advice in cattle raising? It was said at one time that the Masai were not very receptive to such guidance, but the Paramount Chief assured me the other day—no doubt, he said the same to the Secretary of State himself—that his people would benefit very much from extended advice if this could now be provided.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The attitude of the Paramount Chief and, indeed, of the people of the Masai Territory is as he describes it. I will certainly bring the point he makes to the attention of the Governor.

Land Prices

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the nature of the consultations he had with Mr. Michael Blundell on the problem of land prices in Kenya since the general election in Kenya.

My discussions with Mr. Blundell, and, indeed, with the Ministerial delegation as a whole, ranged over the entire field of the country's development needs.

They included general discussion of projects which would have a bearing on land prices.

But this problem as such did not call for specific discussion at this juncture because we are concerned primarily with the total amount of finance that would be available for development in Kenya, and not with detailed projects.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people in this country hope that the visit of the Under-Secretary of State to Kenya at this moment will lead to a rather more realistic approach to this serious problem?

I could not accept the last line or so of that supplementary question. It is certainly of value that the Under-Secretary of State is in Kenya at the present time, and I have asked him to look specifically at this point.

Law And Order

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a further statement about the preservation of law and order in Kenya in view of the murder of Mrs. Swanepoel on 14th May.

The Minister for Internal Affairs in Kenya made a full statement yesterday, and I am placing copies in the Library of the House.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are now two distinct organisations in Kenya, one called Nyahunyu and the other called the Land Freedom Army, composed of ex-Mau Mau detainees, which are engaged in stealing arms, training for violence and drawing up lists of people to be murdered? Are we to stand aside as we did with Mau Mau until these subversive organisations have power to spread their influence?

No, Sir. As the House will see from the Answer which I am making to a Written Question today, on a comparison between now and 1952, the number of police in Kenya is about twice as high as it was before the emergency started. The statement that the Minister of Internal Affairs in Kenya made yesterday puts the matter in perspective. It shows the growth in crime, not merely over the last month or so, but over the last few years—a phenomenon known to us in this country as well—and it shows quite clearly that the impact of crime is not directed against Europeans and Asians but that the overwhelming number of victims of the crimes are Africans. It is natural and wholly right that we are concerned, above everything else, with the safety of people of our own blood and who have come from these islands, but I am sure that we must see the problems of law and order in Kenya as a whole and not in racial terms.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Minister of Defence and Internal Security used these words yesterday in the Legislative Council in Kenya:

"There was no evidence that crimes of violence against Europeans and Asians had been committed for political or subversive reasons since the emergency. In every case that had been brought to court personal gain or a grievance was found to be the motive."

That is perfectly true, but again, with respect, the hon. Gentleman is falling into the mistake of taking one sentence out of a very carefully balanced survey of the situation at present. There is a grave situation in regard to law and order in Kenya. I have never under-estimated and I will never under-estimate it, but it is not confined to a particular type of attack.

Will my right hon. Friend agree that, in the statement which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) quoted, the Minister of Defence referred to the distressing number of oath-taking ceremonies? Many of these ceremonies involve a murder oath. I had a reply from the Under-Secretary of State only on 20th April saying that there had been no prosecution in respect of any illegal society's activities this year. Since then there has been a number of murders. Is it not his duty to suppress the illegal societies which are, in fact, a revival of Mau Mau?

My right hon. Friend has quoted an immensely important passage from the Minister's statement which, again, with respect to both sides of the House, one must read as a whole and not take individual parts from it. Of course, it is true—there must be no question about this—that the Government in Kenya, fully supported by the Government in this country, are determined in the name of law and order to act against any form of illegality, whether it takes the form of oathing, crime, illegal society or otherwise. The Kenya Government will have the fullest support of Her Majesty's Government in this.

Detainees

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many persons still remain detained under the former Emergency Regulations in Kenya; how many of these were detained without a trial; and what is the longest period of time any of the latter have been detained, at the latest convenient date.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this information will be warmly welcomed, because, when this Question was asked before, there was a very large number of people detained. The very least that I can say is that the Question has served a useful purpose.

Aden Protectorate

Irrigation

6.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state approximately the number of persons in the Aden Protectorates who have benefited directly from the Abiyan and other irrigation schemes; whether the Protectorate Federal Government has considered the further expansion of irrigation; and to what extent the growing of cotton and food crops has resulted in increased production owing to improved irrigation.

Some 40,000 people benefit in the two major irrigation areas of Abyan and Lahej. Plans are in train to expand the Abyan scheme. The Lahej area has been surveyed with a view to increasing the area under flood irrigation. Under these schemes cotton has increased by some 35,000 acres and other crops by some 8,000 acres. Some 120 market gardens around Aden have been developed by pumped irrigation during the last six years. Further development is planned.

May I ask the Minister whether the Federal Government initiated these schemes or whether they have done anything to expand them? Does he not agree that one of the chief hopes of increasing the per capita production in the Protectorate areas is by still further extending irrigation?

Yes, I agree. Both the local Government and Her Majesty's Government, through C.D. and W., have had a share in this. In such a barren area as this, one of the main essentials which we are trying to carry out is aerial mapping and survey in order that, as far as possible, we can see which are the resources which can be used.

Slavery

7.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies approximately how many persons in the Aden Protectorate are under some form of slavery; in which States this now exists; whether these persons are aware of the opportunity to secure manumission; and why few persons during the last fifteen years have sought and secured manumission.

Slavery has almost ceased to exist in the Aden Protectorate. This explains the few recent instances of manumission, the facilities for which are well known.

Arising out of that reply, does not the fact that manumission has been granted imply that slavery exists? Should there not be some further inquiry to see to what extent slavery remains and in which form? What approaches have been made to the various States and their rulers to get this institution entirely abolished, especially in view of the splendid work initiated by Mr. Ingrams some years ago?

Manumission is a certificate given on request to a person certifying that he is no longer a slave but a free man. It is given by members of the British Advisory Service in the Protectorates. I do not think that such an inquiry would be of any help. No certificates were given last year. The only reason I cannot say that slavery does not exist at all is that there may well be one or two people of slave origin who are still with families in the Protectorates. I do not think that we should track that down profitably by an inquiry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that from 1948 I served for five years in the Aden Government? There is no question of any slavery at all in the Protectorate or the Colony. The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) is probably thinking of the odd case over the Saudi Arabian border.

There were no certificates last year and in 1959 there were only five. I cannot say absolutely that slavery does not exist, but I cannot think that an inquiry would enable us to be any better informed about the extent to which it exists.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that although the incidence may be diminishing, it is obvious from the statement which he has made that it exists, in spite of what was said by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison)? In those circumstances, could not some special representation be made to the various rulers in order to remove the last remnants of this hideous practice?

I shall be glad to consult those responsible in the two Protectorates. Perhaps hon. Members would like to look at the figures for the last year or two. There was none last year; there were five in 1959; the 1958 figure is a corrupt group in my telegram and I cannot read it; there were three in 1957; there was none in 1956; and there was one in 1955. It can hardly be said to be significant.

Are not they the numbers of those who have applied to secure manumission? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that, in his original reply, he used the expression, presumably on advice, that slavery had virtually ceased to exist? Is not this an admission by the Government that there is still some slavery there, and is it not complacency to allow slavery to go on in any circumstances in any Protectorate for which Her Majesty's Government are responsible? Will he investigate the matter?

I should be glad to investigate it if I honestly thought that the slightest fruit would come from it.

Without question, not only in this country but in the Aden Protectorate the whole of public opinion is entirely opposed to slavery. All I am saying is that there may well be here and there one or two people of slave origin remaining with families. They know perfectly well that they can tomorrow, if they wish, have a certificate that they are free men. In view of what has been said in the House, I will take up the points which have been made, but I frankly say that I do not think that it will be a very fruitful investigation.

Malta

Dockyard (Development Plan)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his discussions concerning the development of the Malta dockyard are complete; and if he will now make a statement.

Agreement has now been reached between Her Majesty's Government and Bailey (Malta) Limited on the financing of the first and main phase of a revised and enlarged Development Plan for Malta dockyard.

The first phase of the plan, which the company hopes to complete during 1963, includes provision for a dock which will take tankers up to 85,000 tons deadweight, and include all the major works of conversion except the enlargement of No. 2 dock.

The preparatory clearing and diversion of services for the main dock alterations have been nearly completed and all the contract documents and plans for these main works are now finished, so that the company can now go to tender for the conversion of Nos. 4 and 5 docks, extension of Boiler Wharf and a tank cleaning farm and jetty. Towards the scheme for the first phase of this overall revised plan, which the company estimates will cost £8,060,000, Her Majesty's Government will contribute by way of loans £7¼ million. Her Majesty's Government have been able to make this offer because of the receipt of a satisfactory assurance from the company regarding the use of its own resources to meet the balance of the cost of phase I of the plan.

I warmly thank my right hon. Friend for that reply which, I assure him, will be very welcome in Malta, particularly to the many thousands of people who work in the dockyard. In view of the considerable amount of capital to be invested by Her Majesty's Government in this dockyard, and in view of the even larger sums of Maltese capital invested outside Malta, which I understand are something in excess of £40 million, will he give me an assurance that he will, in conjunction with Messrs. Bailey (Malta) Limited, devise some plan to encourage Maltese capital to be invested in the dockyard?

Secondly, in view of the fact that two docks will be out of action for most of the time this work is in progress, will he ensure that a large proportion of the direct labour force of the company is used on this work?

I should like to look at the specific points which my hon. Friend has made. The main point is that we have at last—I know that it has taken a long time—reached agreement on the financing of the main phase of the conversion of the Malta Dockyard, which is of enormous importance to the economy of Malta.

Rhodesia And Nyasaland

Education (African Children)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what plans he has for the compulsory education of African children in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

The first task is to provide primary education for all the children who want it. Compulsory attendance will no doubt be considered by the Governments as progress is made towards that aim. It is already in force in certain areas of Northern Rhodesia, and there are plans to extend it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider expediting the programme, because one of the most effective methods of eliminating the engagement of child labour in these territories is to ensure that children are adequately schooled? Will he assure the House that he will, to the best of his ability, expedite the fulfilment of the programme?

I do not think that it is for me to expedite the programme. I try to give what help I can. It is then for the Northern Rhodesian Government, which will, I am sure, bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman said, to allocate their priorities within the programme.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Forestry

23.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps are being taken by the Forestry Commission to acquire more land suitable for planting and so reduce the shortfall in its planned reserve of land.

The Forestry Commission is always looking for suitable land at a fair price for forestry. But with all the competing demands for land in this country, there is no easy solution for this problem.

May we take it that it will continue to acquire land when it becomes available in view of the disadvantages of having an inadequate reserve for the whole of the programme?

Yes, Sir. The disadvantages of having inadequate reserves are considerable. The Commission is about 60,000 acres down. It would like to have a reserve of about 390,000 acres. It is pressing on to get all the land it can to make good the deficiency. It is very important to the Commission.

Milk

24.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the negotiations between the Milk Marketing Board, the National Farmers' Union and his Department on the possible restriction of milk output.

Possible alternative price systems for milk are now being considered by a technical study group on which the farmers' unions, the five milk marketing boards and the three agricultural departments are represented. This group's report will be submitted to the Joint Committee set up by the unions and the boards, and, when they have considered it. I will be able to make a statement.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also undertake, at the same time as he is making these inquiries from the farmers' unions, to consider the possibility of greatly increasing the supply of dried milk from this country to under-developed countries on the same lines as is done by the United States and Canada?

European Economic Community

25.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what negotiations on agriculture he has held with the European Economic Community.

In view of the anxiety which is felt about our future relations with the Common Market or the European Community, will my right hon. Friend consider publishing a statement on the views, of the Ministry of Agriculture concerning the possibilities of our associating with the European Community?

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, what is happening in this field, as in other fields, is a general study to see whether there is a basis on which we would be able to negotiate with the Common Market countries and, at the same time, preserve the vital interests of agriculture and, of course, the many interests of the Commonwealth and other countries which are interested in our food market.

In view of the many contradictory statements which have been made about this subject by Ministers, will the Minister of Agriculture undertake that, soon after we return after the Recess, he will make a full statement of the implications, not only to the agricultural community but to consumers, of our entering the Common Market?

I understand that it has been contemplated through the usual channels that there might be a debate in the House on agriculture soon after we return after the Whitsun Recess. That would seem to be an appropriate time.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one is most disturbed that any abandonment of the 1947 or 1957 Acts might not only hurt the farmer and increase the price of food in this country, but also increase our competitive costs with the rest of the world?

Yes, Sir. Of course, integration with the Six in any form would involve quite considerable changes in the methods that we use for supporting the farmer and also in the cost of food in this country. But, of course, the pledges which the Government have given in this regard at the last election stand inviolate.

In view of the general interest in this matter, will the Minister consider circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a full account of his rowdy meeting with Conservative back benchers a night or two ago?

I read a report of that in one daily edition and it was one with which I did not agree.

Agriculture (Improvement Of Roads) Act, 1955

26.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many grants have been made under the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, 1955; what was the amount of grant paid up to the end of 1960 in Devon; and how many applications for grant aid have been turned down during the same period.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

Up to 31st March, 1961, grants have been paid towards the cost of 692 schemes in England and Wales. The grant paid in Devon up to the end of 1960 was £95,844. Sixty-eight applications for grant-aid had been turned down in England and Wales up to the end of 1960, one of which was in Devon.

Farmland, Somerset (Flooding)

29.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to relieve the farming land in the Long Sutton Machelney area from chronic flooding.

The Somerset River Board is the responsible authority, and is carrying out drainage improvement works in this area with grant-aid from the Department.

While I am grateful for that information, which I have known for a long time, may I ask whether my hon. Friend is aware that this problem, which has existed for the last eight or ten years and is getting worse, is beyond the resources of the river board, which has a great many other problems to deal with anyhow? In this case, a number of farmers are being deprived of their land year after year. The land is being ruined and it is not good enough to go on like this. Will my hon. Friend have a good look at the matter and accept that it is quite intolerable that people should have their land used as a receptacle for other people's drainage?

While I do not accept all that my hon. Friend says, we have done a good deal more than simply look at the matter. We are offering the board 80 per cent. grant for substantial work, which it is now undertaking, to help conditions in the area, and the board hopes to have one important work, a new pumping drain, in operation before the end of the summer. This will give a measure of immediate relief and it is the forerunner of other work to follow.

Will the hon. Gentleman look again at the Motion on the Order Paper signed by approximately a hundred hon. Members on the question of water conservation and flooding, and see whether he cannot produce a much more comprehensive plan to solve not only this Problem but others like it?

Trade And Commerce

Factory Sites, Bishop Auckland

30 and 31.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many factory sites are known to him in, or within two miles of the villages of Cockfield, Woodlands, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Eggleston, Staindrop, Copley, and Butterknowle in the Bishop Auckland constituency;

(2) how many industrialists seeking factory sites have been shown sites in the villages of Cockfield, Woodlands, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Eggleston, Stain-drop, Copley, or Butterknowle since the passing of the Local Employment Act.

The Department is aware of one industrial site within the area specified, but has not shown it to any industrialist since 1st April, 1960.

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that unemployment in the area of the Bishop Auckland exchange is two and half times the national average and that a far higher percentage of unemployment will be found in some of these villages? Cannot he take special steps both to survey the factory sites that are available and then to publicise them to industrialists? His attitude is far too complacent.

We will consider that. The hon. Member has, however, picked out merely a few villages in the area. There are three main industrial sites nearer to Bishop Auckland and they are shown to industrialists first, as they are more likely to be attracted by them.

These are the very areas where the people are out of work, and the transport facilities to get to other areas are not all that good. Will the hon. Gentleman seriously consider the problem of these people and do something about it?

We do take them into consideration and we shall also take into consideration what the hon. Member has said.

United Arab Republic

32 and 33.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) in view of the competition from the European Common Market countries, what proposals he has received on trade to the United Arab Republic Government to hold or increase the traditional British export trade with Egypt and Syria; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what steps he has taken to arrange a trade and payments agreement with the United Arab Republic.

I have heard of various proposals for increasing our trade with the United Arab Republic. This is at present governed by the Financial and Commercial Agreement of 1959. Within its framework, the annual value of our total trade with the United Arab Republic has increased by 32 per cent. in 1960 and by a further 5 per cent. in the first three months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier.

Is it not time that we brought our payments negotiations up to date? If a small country like Austria can make a payment under treaty arrangements, why cannot we? How are British industrialists like the Rootes Group to establish factories in the United Arab Republic unless more attention is paid to helping them?

We pay a great deal of attention to increasing our trade with the United Arab Republic, and the Advisory Council for Middle East Trade helps me to study the problems. I think that when the hon. Member looks at the financial and commercial agreement, he will see that the arrangements we then made are very satisfactory.

Resale Price Maintenance

34.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to repeal Section 25 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956.

My right hon. Friend will consider this point in the light of his inquiries into resale price maintenance generally.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of a case a few weeks ago in the High Court when the Addis Brush Company, of Hertford, obtained an injunction against a retailer for selling its brushes below the fixed retail price and that the defence of the retailer was that had he not done so, it would have shown him a profit of 87 per cent.? Is that the intention that the Government had in mind when they brought in Section 25, and what do they propose to do about it?

This is one of the aspects which my right hon. Friend will be considering together with all other considerations arising from his inquiries.

Non-Ferrous Metals (Export To Russia)

35.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will explain the reason for the fall in the export of non-ferrous metals to Russia in 1960 as compared with 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Soviet imports of non-ferrous metals are mainly copper. I understand that the Soviet Union is now importing this from other producing countries, including Rhodesia, rather than through the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman has not given the reason why that is being done. Is it not in the long run due to the fact that we are refusing to admit into this country any quantities of a certain number of Russian exports and that this process which has taken place in copper will continue to be repeated unless we reverse that policy? Is there any reason why we should not give Russia most-favoured-nation treatment, as Canada does, which is a method that works successfully?

I can only surmise at the reason of the Soviet authorities for not buying their copper from us. I think, however, that the reason is that the strategic control on copper has been removed and the Russians are now free to buy from whatever source they wish, whereas formerly they bought from us a large quantity of copper wire. The other points in the hon. Member's supplementary question do not have a bearing on the matter of copper. As regards most-favoured-nation treatment, we accord that to Russia in certain respects, and this will be one of the subjects discussed by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade during his visit to Moscow.

Polish Eggs

36.

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he received a communication from the National Farmers' Union asking him to ascertain the internal price of eggs in Poland; and what period elapsed between the receipt of this communication and his acceptance of the formal application for anti-dumping measures to be applied to the import of Polish eggs.

The Board of Trade was asked on 30th March to ascertain the internal price of eggs in Poland. The application for anti-dumping measures to be applied to the import of Polish and Roumanian eggs was received on 19th April and accepted for full investigation on the following day. Before a full investigation can be made, there must be some evidence not only of dumping but also of material injury to the affected industry.

Could my right hon. Friend give some idea of what went on between 30th March and 19th April? Is he aware that his reply indicates that it took twenty-seven days to come to a decision on the matter, by which time tens of thousands of Polish eggs had been dumped in this country?

I think that my hon. Friend ought to ask the National Farmers' Union what it was doing in that period, because that was the time between its request to us to ascertain the price and the date of the application. It would not be appropriate for him to add those days to the short period of nine days which we required for our investigation and decision.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there is nevertheless something very unsatisfactory about the anti-dumping procedure in connection with trade with Iron Curtain countries? Would not he admit that it is very difficult for producers to establish whether dumping is taking place or not in view of State trading and other conditions that exist in these countries? Will my right hon. Friend have an inquiry made into the whole anti-dumping system?

It is, of course, difficult for private individuals and organisations to establish these prices and that is why we give all the help we can. That is why the National Farmers' Union approached us on 31st March, to find out the internal price. As for anti-dumping legislation in general, I ask my hon. Friend to remember that we operate in accordance with a Statute passed by this House. While that may have certain defects in my hon. Friend's eyes, in our view it represents a reasonable compromise between conflicting interests.

Is it not remarkable that hon. Members opposite get hot under the collar about the importation of Polish eggs but not a word issues from their lips about the importation of American coal?

I think that my hon. Friends are perfectly right to make known the views of their constituents on an important matter in this House just as hon. Members opposite make known the views of their own constituents.

Industrial Building

37.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will state the rate of new industrial building for the years 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and to the latest available date in 1961, in the northern, midland, and southern regions of England, giving each region separately.

As the Answer involves a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the figures reveal that the rate of new industrial building has declined in the northern region over past years, and particularly in northeast England, whereas in other regions it has increased rapidly? Can he tell us what the Government intend to do or what policy they intend to pursue to bring about a more equal distribution of industry in the country?

No, Sir. The year 1957 was a period of high construction after which there was a dip in 1958. Since then there has been an increase in all three regions.

Following is the information:

The areas, in millions of square feet, covered by Industrial Development Certificates issued in the three standard regions were:

Standard Region19571958195919601961 Jan.-March
Northern7·32·31·54·21·0
Midland10·46·17·510·91·3
Southern3·82·94·26·61·2

European Common Market (Common Tariff Rates)

39.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in the course of his negotiations with representatives of the European Common Market, he has obtained information about the rates of import duty which those countries intend to impose as part of their common external tariff, on the principal foods and raw materials; and what these rates of duty are on beef, mutton, lamb, wheat, bacon, butter, cheese and tea, respectively.

All common tariff rates of import duty except for some tobacco and petroleum headings have now been published by the European Economic Community. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the details for the eight foodstuffs in question.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the duties on the foodstuffs mentioned range from about 18 per cent. to 25 per cent. or 30 per cent., and that it would be impossible to impose these high food taxes on present tariff-free food imports into the United Kingdom without a serious effect on our cost of living, our standard of living and our industrial costs?

The rates actually vary from 12 per cent. to 25 per cent., but of course we recognise the importance of the effect that these duties would have, and this is one of the matters that we take fully into account in our consideration of the whole complex problem.

Would the right hon. Gentleman make it clear now that the Government would not in any circumstances impose these high rates of food taxes on imports?

I should not like to say anything now while there is going on in the House an important debate which deals largely with these problems.

Following is the information:

The common tariff rates asked for are as follows:

Per Cent.

beef; fresh, chilled or frozen (meat and offal)20
beef; sailed, in brine, dried or smoked (meat and offal)24
mutton and lamb; fresh, chilled or frozen:
(meat)20
(offal)12
mutton and lamb; salted, in brine, dried or smoked (meat and offal)24
wheat20
bacon; salted, in brine, dried or smoked25
otherwise20
butter24
cheese23
tea; in immediate containers of a net capacity of 3 kg. or less23
otherwise18

New Factories

38.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what percentage, measured by square feet, the total of new factory approvals of over 5,000 square feet in the London and South Eastern Region represented of total approvals in Great Britain in 1958, 1959, and 1960, respectively; and whether he will give similar figures for areas now classed as development districts under the Local Employment Act.

These percentages in respect of schemes mainly of over 5,000 square feet for 1958, 1959 and 1960 respectively for the London and South Eastern Region were 21, 18 and 12, and for the areas now classed as development districts 10, 15 and 20.

Although this shows some welcome decrease in factory development in London and the South Eastern Region, may I ask what the figures would look like if office developments were included?

That is an entirely different question. I am afraid that I could not answer it without notice.

Holidays

40.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will instruct the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade to speed up their examination of the problems of spreading Bank Holidays and annual holidays more evenly throughout the year; and whether he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.

This is a very complicated problem in which many outside bodies are closely concerned. It would not be right to obtain a quick solution by disregarding the interests of these bodies.

But is the Home Secretary aware that in the East Midlands, particularly, and also in a great part of the North, quite unnecessary frustration is caused by the concentration of annual holidays round August Bank Holiday? Since I have raised this matter Session after Session by Question and on the Adjournment debate, is it not possible for the Government to give some indication of what the problems are that prevent any such solution?

The matter was dealt with in some detail by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State in answer to a debate on the Adjournment on 30th March in which he gave figures of the millions of employees involved and details of their terms of employment. This is a very complicated problem which will take time to solve.

But will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that this problem is linked most intimately with the question of school holidays? While we are urging industrialists to show a greater flexibility of mind, would he not agree that we might apply similar tests to education authorities which tend to have all children away from school about the same time?

I beg to give notice that once again I shall attempt to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Atomic Energy Project (History)

41.

asked the Prime Minister if he will now carry out the undertaking given by Her Majesty's Government to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, some years ago that an official British record should be published of nuclear research; if he will include in such a record a description of the contributions made by Professors Rutherford, Cockcroft, Hill, Fowler, Robert Watson-Watt, of the part played by Tube Alloys, Metropolitan Vickers at Manchester and Rhydymwyn-Mold, Imperial Chemical Industries, Sir Henry Tizard's Mission and of the importance of the black box; and if he will publish the minutes of the Maud Committee and papers containing the United States request to co-operate with the British.

I have been asked to reply.

The Atomic Energy Authority recently appointed an archivist and historian, one of whose main tasks will be to prepare a history of the United Kingdom atomic energy project. It is the Authority's desire and intention, subject to the public interest, that the history should be published, and the matters referred to by the hon. Member will no doubt be given due weight.

In relation to the minutes of the Maud Committee, I see no reason for varying the normal rule that public records are not made available until fifty years after they were originated.

Will the Home Secretary, first, convey to the Prime Minister my appreciation of the courteous letter he sent to me about his inability to be present? Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the responsible authority which is to compile this official report to see that credit is also given to the ordinary working men who played such a great part in difficult circumstances during the war and also to the gentleman who is now sitting in the Peers Gallery for the part which he played when France collapsed?

I will certainly convey to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the hon. Member's appreciation of his letter, in relation to the preoccupations of an international character which are occupying the Prime Minister this afternoon. As to the rest of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I think that some of it would be out of order in taking cognisance of somebody who is not in our presence, but I am obliged to the hon. Member for those observations.

Commonwealth Trade

42.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement regarding his proposals for an Atlantic Free Trade Area, and for a quickened economic development within the Commonwealth; and what action is to be taken by Her Majesty's Government to assist an increase in Commonwealth trade which would contribute towards an accelerated increase in world trade.

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made no proposals for an Atlantic Free Trade Area but, as he has said before, we need to work for the largest area of free trade that we can create. As regards the Commonwealth, the best contribution that we can make towards stimulating trade and economic development is to maintain a high level of activity at home and to continue to work towards a multilateral trade and payments system over the widest possible area, as agreed by Commonwealth Governments at the Montreal Trade and Economic Conference in 1958.

While not trying to get the Home Secretary involved in this, because he must have his hands full with his own work, may I ask whether he will ask the Prime Minister to consider recent developments in relation to the Commonwealth and the unfortunate growing support for subordinating the future of our trade to the object of setting up a European Community? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that some of us who are loyal to the Commonwealth, because many of our relatives were driven to Australia and Canada during the industrial depression, greatly deprecate recent developments? Will he ask the Prime Minister to give an undertaking that the Government will now use their influence with the whole of the Commonwealth to reverse the trends of economic development?

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in answer to a Question on 16th May, gave the conditions preliminary to the possibility of our entering into an arrangement with Europe. We are in touch with the Commonwealth on these vital matters, and I will certainly convey to my right hon. Friend the observations made by the hon. Gentleman.