Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

United Nations (Working Group)

1.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information has been supplied by Her Majesty's Government to the 15-member Working Group appointed by the United Nations on principles to be applied in determining a special scale of assessments for peace and security, further to the General Assembly's resolution on the question of covering the costs of the United Nations peace-keeping operations.

We have already made clear in the General Assembly our dislike of a special scale of assessment. The United Kingdom is a member of the Working Group and our representative has been instructed to reiterate this view.

is the Minister not aware that the Government were asked to give information on the principles which they wished to see applied by 1st July? Is the hon. Gentleman saying that no such information has been provided? In view of the difficulties of running the Congo operation on an ad hoc basis, will the British Government not press, in line with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' disarmament proposals, for the setting up of a permanent United Nations peace force financed on a permanent basis by the members of the United Nations?

That supplementary question goes a little wide of the original Question. As to the first part, the fact that we are members of this group means that our views will be adequately put forward. But I ought to make it plain that we object to a special scale because we believe that the capacity of members to pay is adequately reflected in the regular scale of assessments. If people only paid their regular assessments there would be no difficulty.

African And Colonial Issues

7.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about the changed instructions that have been given to United Kingdom delegates to the United Nations regarding the action to be taken when resolutions relating to African and colonial issues are under consideration.

I assume the hon. Gentleman is referring to the statement made by my noble Friend in another place on 26th June. As my noble Friend made clear, Her Majesty's Representative in the United Nations is being instructed to ignore any reference to General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) whenever this is referred to in a preambular clause of a draft resolution, and on every occasion to make clear that he does so. The United Kingdom vote will then be directed to the substance of the matter.

This is a very welcome and important statement. Does it mean that in future we shall not be placed in the humiliating position of being in a minority of two or three with the French and Portuguese on issues like Angola, South Africa, South-West Africa, Algeria and the Congo, and that we shall begin to vote according to the principles of democracy and liberty?

It is quite clear as to what this will mean. It will affect our voting on some of those issues, but we are not afraid of being in a minority when we believe that we are right.

Germany

Deconcentration Of Industry

3.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now make a statement on progress made with deconcentration of German industry required by Allied High Commission Law No. 27, as announced to the House on 4th March, 1953.

The Allied deconcentration measures have been carried through to completion, in accordance with the Bonn Settlement Convention, except for the disposal under the Krupp Deconcentration Plan of the coal and steel assets incorporated in the Rheinhausen company.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for not seeking to answer Questions Nos. 3 and 4 together, may I ask him why six weeks ago the House of Lords was given the full figures when the noble Marquess in another place said that £100 million of Krupp assets had not been disposed of and that the Krupp turnover was now £452 million a year? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that those of us who hold a favourable view towards the Common Market will be affected by the fact that this notorious war criminal is likely to dominate our steel industry? Was the right hon. Gentleman unaware of this statement in another place five or six weeks ago? Otherwise why did he not mention it to the House of Commons today?

If the hon. Gentleman will look at my Answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see that there is exactly the situation I have described. The hon. Gentleman asked for a progress report. The scheme has been carried through, as I said, except for the disposal of the Krupp assets incorporated in the Rheinhausen company. If the hon. Gentleman wants the full and detailed figures I will give them to him if he will put down another question.

Does the Lord Privy Seal not remember an undertaking that was given to this House in 1953 by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had now embodied this agreement in the Bonn Convention Agreement No. 17. Chancellor Adenauer agreed that it would be enforced, but that it might take a year or two to enforce, but now, when the Lord Privy Seal says "with the exception of", is it not the fact that the Krupp assets were estimated at £112 million and that the amount he says he has accepted is £100 million—or about 90 per cent. of the amount for which they were going to be disposed of in 1953?

Other assets were disposed of under that plan, but the situation remains as the hon. Gentleman described. In fact, of course, the Mixed Committee of Experts was given the reponsibility of looking at this progress over the years, and it recommended another extension until 31st January, 1962. It could not have done that under its terms of reference unless there had been evidence that a genuine attempt had been made to sell the assets and than it had not proved possible to do so.

Berlin

5.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reply he proposes making to the Soviet proposal that West Berlin should become a demilitarised free city with its neutrality guaranteed by British, Russian, United States and French troops.

Her Majesty's Government have received no proposals from the Soviet Government.

Is the right hon. Gentleman then not aware that on 15th June of this year Mr. Khrushchev agreed that he was in favour of a free city of West Berlin? Is the right hon. Gentleman also not aware that his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said from that Box that he, too, is in favour of the freedom of West Berlin? Could the Lord Privy Seal tell me how these freedoms are going to be advanced if we arm West Germany with nuclear weapons?

These are two unrelated questions. The hon. Gentleman has often had the answer about the arming of Germany, within the N.A.T.O. framework, with the nuclear warheads under American control. As far as the first part of the Question is concerned, that is surely a question of how one is to protect that freedom.

24.

asked the Lord Privy Seal why he cannot give an undertaking that Her Majesty's Government will never again agree to the bombing of Berlin.

A unilateral undertaking by Her Majesty's Government would not serve any useful purpose.

If the Government are so concerned about the future of Berlin, why cannot the right hon. Gentleman give a definite assurance to the 3 million people in West Berlin that we will not bomb them?

The 2½ million people of West Berlin have their anxieties. They know who is responsible for heighten- ing tension over Berlin. It is not the Western Powers.

In that case, will the Government approach Mr. Khrushchev to see whether they can get a joint declaration that Berlin will not be bombed, in the same way as Paris and Rome were not bombed in the last war?

Such a joint declaration is not necessary if Mr. Khrushchev does not make a crisis over Berlin.

Nato

20.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is still the Government's policy, as laid down in the 1959 and previous proposals, that a united Germany should be free to enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that Germany should be reunited on the basis of self-determination and become an independent sovereign state, free to join any defensive security pact or none if it so wished.

On the basis of principle, if Germany is to have full self-determination and sovereignty, does that include the right to provide herself with any arms she wishes, in any quantity? If not, why grant her freedom to join a military alliance, which is another way of preparing for war? On the point of policy, is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this condition has imposed an insuperable barrier to any German settlement for years and that, by clinging to the condition, the Government have laid themselves open to the suspicion that they do not really want any German settlement?

No, Sir. The N.A.T.O. alliance, if that is what the hon. Member refers to, is a defensive alliance. The conditions regarding German arms are clearly laid down in the Western European Union Treaty.

As has been repeatedly said in the House, the whole question of the exact frontier settlement must depend upon a peace conference.

British Property (Claims)

23.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, pending a German peace treaty, he will collect details of the claims of British citizens whose property, situate in Germany, was lost as a result of the war of 1939–45.

No, Sir. I do not think that in existing circumstances this would serve any useful purpose.

Does not my hon. Friend feel that when a German peace treaty is negotiated eventually one may find oneself in considerable difficulty in formulating these claims owing to the passage of time? Does not he feel that this would be a good opportunity to collect a comprehensive register of these claims which could be put forward in any German peace treaty negotiations?

I do not think that we could do that. This is normally done under a peace treaty by the submission of claims by the claimants direct to the dependent Government. Therefore, prior registration with us would probably not be accepted. Certain particulars of British property in Germany were registered at the Board of Trade during and after the war, although they did not include details of claims.

Foreign Ministers (Conference)

25.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government are now prepared to take a new initiative and propose a conference of Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to discuss all aspects of the German problem.

We are in the closest consultation with our allies on the many aspects of this question. When we act we shall act in concert with them.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be sensible to start serious negotiations at a fairly high level before the momentum of military preparations on all sides becomes an element in making a successful outcome of these negotiations all the more difficult?

As we have made plain on a number of occasions in the House, and after the breakdown of the Summit Conference last year, the Western Powers are prepared for negotiation, but not under threat.

Angola

4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make representations to the Portuguese Government in view of the fact that it is not complying with Article 10 of the Anglo-Portuguese Convention of 1891, which guarantees full protection for missionaries in British and Portuguese territories in Africa.

I shall, of course, be ready to consider this if the missionary bodies who are those principally concerned bring forward facts which justify such representations.

Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting to the House that he is in any doubt at all that there is no freedom of religion and religious speech in Angola? After the miserable collaboration of the Tory Party with the Portuguese Government and the I.L.O. in the breaches of those terms in 1930 and after the miserable collaboration of the Tory Government over the United Nations resolution seeking to abolish forced labour in Angola in 1957, is the right hon. Gentleman really now suggesting that the Foreign Office, all of them, several thousands of them, are unaware that missionaries have been murdered in Angola and are unaware that there is no freedom of religious expression? Has the right hon. Gentleman not read the speeches of Dr. Salazar that were made 15 years ago?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As we have a debate this afternoon on the question of Angola, is not that the moment for the hon. Gentleman to put forward all these points?

The real point about it is that rather too often I have to appeal to hon. Members not to make speeches at Question Time because we do not get through enough Questions. Perhaps the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) will get near to bringing his question to an end.

I appreciate your courtesy, Mr. Speaker. One does not often speak on the grave of 50,000 citizens.

If questions were to be increased in length proportionate to their importance and gravity, it would be difficult for me to judge the element of inordinate length.

I understand that in central and South Angola British Baptist missionaries are carrying on their work without difficulty. That is the information that we have. As far as Northern Angola is concerned, where the troubles are at the moment, the Baptist missions have been closed in certain places, in one where the whole Portuguese administration has been withdrawn and is, therefore, unable to protect them, and in another where they have been withdrawn for security reasons. I propose to deal with this matter later on in the debate.

8.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the decision of Her Majesty's Government to send the United Kingdom Consul-General and another official of the Lisbon Embassy on a visit of inquiry to Angola.

18.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reports on the situation in Angola have now been received from the Consul-General in Luanda and another member of Her Majesty's Embassy in Lisbon.

31.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what report he has received from the Consul-General in Luanda, Angola, following his visit to the northern part of that territory; and what changes in the policy of Her Majesty's Government are proposed in the light of that report.

Her Majesty's Consul-General at Luanda will be accompanied on his visit by the Military and Air Attaches to Her Majesty's Embassy at Lisbon, who left for Luanda on 3rd July. It is expected the visit to Northern Angola will begin shortly.

Will the Lord Privy Seal give our representatives instructions that whilst they are in North Angola they will meet the few English missionaries who remain there, and the few African pastors; and will he instruct them to proceed to the Congo to meet the representatives of the 100,000 refugees who are there?

As to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, our representatives in the Congo are already able to meet the refugees who are now in that country. I am certain that the Consul-General and the Attaches who are to go to Northern Angola will take every opportunity to meet those on the spot and judge the position for themselves.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the important things about a mission of this kind, investigating this kind of allegation, is that it should take place very quickly, because the material evidence tends to vanish? Is he aware that it is now about ten days since his noble Friend made this announcement in the House of Lords? Since he himself told us that the Consul-General was in Luanda all the time, could they not have gone there a bit sooner?

We are anxious that they should go there as soon as possible, but as part of the issue in debate is the military conditions and situation there we thought it advisable that the Consul-General should go accompanied by the Military Attaché. As the Air Attaché has a fluent knowledge of Portuguese, we thought that too would be an asset.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman been aware for some time that there was to be a debate in this House on the Angola situation, and could not he have pressed that the Consul-General should himself, if necessary, have gone to the Northern Territory in order that the right hon. Gentleman might, during the debate later this evening, give the House a report of what was found? Will he give an assurance that when the report comes through he will consider publishing it as a White Paper?

The necessary arrangements have to be made, and they are not entirely in our own hands. As to publishing the report, it is not, of course, the practice to publish diplomatic reports of this kind, but I will certainly give all the information I can to the House at the earliest opportunity after we have received the report.

Did Her Majesty's Government previously ask permission for our Consul-General in Luanda to be allowed to visit the area where fighting was going on in Angola in the middle of March? Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has instructed the mission making the visit to inquire whether British arms are being used by the Portuguese Government in their repression of the native population?

We have not previously asked formal permission to go to the Northern Territory. In regard to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, our representatives can certainly look into that.

9.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has considered the petitions forwarded to him by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme on 27th June calling for action within the United Nations by Her Majesty's Government in relation to Portuguese punitive measures in Angola and to bring about peace in the area; and what reply he has made.

I have already sent a reply to the hon. Gentleman, which he should by now have received.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say on what occasions and in what form he has conveyed to the Portuguese Government the very strong protests received from citizens in this country, especially from members of the church communities, about the atrocities and outrages in Angola? Is the Lord Privy Seal aware of the very strong opposition there is throughout the country to any continued supply of arms to a Government responsible for these outrages?

The Portuguese Government is well aware of the strong feelings we have in this country, and of the petitions presented to individual Members of Parliament—and to this House, as we have seen this afternoon. In addition, my noble Friend had a very full opportunity to discuss this matter with the Portuguese Government during his recent visit to Lisbon.

11.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received regarding the activities of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Inquiry on Angola.

35.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what recent representations he has made to facilitate the work of the United Nations Committee of Inquiry into the situation in Angola following the decisions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

2.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information has been brought to the attention of the United Nations sub-committee on Angola regarding the execution of Africans in the village of Tomboco and other places, and regarding the machine gunning of children from aeroplanes in that country; and what progress has been made by the subcommittee in their study of conditions in Angola.

I understand that the Sub-Committee is meeting at present in New York, and that the Portuguese Government is in touch with Senor Salamanca, who is its Chairman. Its proceeding are confidential, and I am unable to say what information may have been brought to its attention. Its latest progress report is in United Nations Press Release GA/2221, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. We hope that the Sub-Committee will report as soon as possible.

Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether the Sub-Committee has yet requested permission to enter Angola to pursue inquiries and, if so, what has been the response of the Portuguese Government to this request?

As I have said, the Sub-Committee is in touch with the Portuguese Government, but we do not know what decision has been reached.

In the event of Portugal refusing such permission, will the Lord Privy Seal consider allowing the Sub-Committee entry to Northern Rhodesia in order to pursue its inquiries?

We hope that that eventuality will not arise. We have expressed publicly the hope that the Portuguese Government will co-operate with the Sub-Committee. In regard to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, this is not a matter that the Sub-Committee wishes to discuss with individuals. It wishes to go to Angola itself.

Will the right hon. Gentlernan supply to the Sub-Committee the evidence of the British missionaries and British journalists who have been in Angola?

I think that the right hon. Gentleman raised this question last week, and I understand now that the Sub-Committee has been in direct touch with British Baptist missionaries who have come back from Angola about any evidence they can give to it.

34.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what contribution has been made or offered to the United Nations by Her Majesty's Government for the relief of refugees from Angola.

None, Sir. The United Nations authorities have not asked for contributions for the relief of refugees from Angola. However, as I told the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) in reply to a Question on 28th June, the United Nations authorities are using supplies provided by the Congo Famine Relief Fund for relief work amongst Angolan refugees in the Congo. They consider that their present stocks of food are adequate for this purpose.

If the Government will not do something positive about this matter through the United Nations, will not they go a little further on humanitarian grounds alone? Will the Government consider the fact that there are 100,000 Angolan refugees in the Congo now? Would not it be appropriate for the Government to make some contribution to the International Red Cross in order to deal with this human problem?

I have looked into this matter most carefully. The fact remains that the United Nations famine relief organisation is doing an extremely good job. It has adequate supplies. The Red Cross is also very well provided for, and I should like to pay tribute, as I am sure the whole House would, to the remarkable job which it has done with regard to this very large number of refugees. There is no call at present for additional funds. If any came, naturally the Government would consider it sympathetically.

Does not the Minister of State recognise that the greatest contribution which the Government can make to this repression by the Portuguese Government is to make a forthright declaration against the atrocities which are taking place?

Bulgaria (Claims)

6.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress is being made towards the settlement of claims made by British subjects against the Bulgarian Government through the Foreign Compensation Commission.

One hundred and thirty-eight applications have been received by the Foreign Compensation Commission under the Foreign Compensation (Bulgaria) Order, 1958; the Commission has finally determined ninety-eight of these and expects to have disposed of the remainder by the end of July, with a view to making an interim payment shortly afterwards.

While welcoming that news, is my right hon. Friend aware that some of these people have been waiting for over ten years and that one gentleman, about whom I have already written to his Department, was for four years in a Nazi internment camp and is 79 years of age? As his claim has been provisionally accepted by the Foreign Compensation Commission and estimated at being over £12,000, will my right hon. Friend at least make sure that these people are able to get something before they die?

I realise that there has been a delay, but it has been a complicated matter. I am hopeful, as I say, that the Foreign Compensation Commission will be in a position to make some payment shortly, and I hope that that will help my hon. Friend's constituent.

European Economic Community

10.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what conditions have been proposed to Her Majesty's Government by the West German Federal Republic, on behalf of the Common Market countries, under which Her Majesty's Government could gain entry into the European Economic Community.

Why is the Lord Privy Seal so cagey about this? Is it not the fact that the Foreign Minister of the German Federal Republic has made it quite clear in London, on behalf of the Common Market countries, that before Britain would be allowed to negotiate a special settlement she must sign the Rome Treaty, with all its political consequences? Would he not now therefore tell the House the true nature of the special settlement we wish to negotiate, and in what way he would define the political consequences in the event of this country becoming a full member of the European Economic Community?

There was some complaint from hon. Members opposite when I devoted forty minutes of my speech in the recent foreign affairs debate to the situation in relation to the Common Market and the Treaty of Rome, and I do not need to go through that again now. These talks have been carried out between officials and Ministers. They have been bilateral talks, not on behalf either of the European Economic Community or of E.F.T.A. They have been exploratory discussions of a confidential nature, and I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to divulge what took place in them.

But cannot the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that we have not sunk to a condition in which we allow the West German Government to dictate conditions to us?

Nobody is dictating conditions to anybody on either side. If there is to be progress, it must be by negotiation.

Disarmament

Committees Of Experts

12.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Gov- ernment will put forward written proposals for the creation of a United Nations committee of experts to prepare a detailed plan of disarmament and inspection.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already proposed to the United Nations the appointment of a series of Committees of Experts to discuss the necessary verification procedures and I do not see why this system should not later be extended to other matters. But we must first resolve the fundamental disagreements on how to reconcile disarmament with national security. These can only be tackled at the political level and in multilateral negotiations, and it is for the resumption of such negotiations that we and the United States Government are working hard at present.

Are the Government proposing to put forward any suggestions for a concrete plan of action to be discussed by the committees or the political representatives when they meet?

I think that the best way to proceed in this is for the present discussions between the Americans and the Russians to be carried on, and this matter will then come before the United Nations at the next meeting of the General Assembly. We are perfectly willing to put forward proposals if we can see a way of making progress, but I think that we should see how the present discussions work out.

But are we preparing a plan ourselves, so that we leave the realm of general phrases and get down to work?

We have been in close discussion with the Americans on this matter and I think that it is better that we should work together on this. I think that any fresh individual plan will not really help things forward, particularly at this moment.

33.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations have been made by Her Majesty's Government to the Governments of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics concerning the recommencement of negotiations for general and complete disarmament.

We have made no formal representations to either Government. But we have been and continue to be in constant touch with the United States Government on this matter. Nor is there any reason to think that the Soviet Government are not fully aware of our attitude.

United States And Ussr (Discussions)

13.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government will propose to the Governments of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now about to engage in new talks, that the Government of Peking shall be invited to send a representative to take part in any new negotiations about disarmament which may be begun.

No, Sir. I should point out that the talks to which the right bon. Gentleman refers began on 19th June.

Is it not becoming more and more plain every day that unless the Chinese take part in these negotiations very soon it may be too late, because they may refuse to do so?

I realise the difficulties of this, but I think that my right hon. Friend dealt with it in his supplementary answer on 20th March. We want to see them brought in at the appropriate moment, but we do not want to com- plicate the initial moves, and so hold up the start of these discussions in any way.

14. Mr. A. Henderson asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has made to the United States Government, in view of the official conversations now taking place in Washington between the United States and Soviet Governments, with regard to the association of a number of Governments who are not identified with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the Warsaw Pact, with the disarmament negotiations, and the appointment of a neutral chairman.

I have at present nothing to add to the answer to a similar Question by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) on 28th June.

Can we not be told whether Her Majesty's Government are actually making proposals along these lines to the United States Government for discussion with the Soviet Government? In view of the fact that during the last six years disarmament negotiations have taken place entirely between Governments representing N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact, is it not time that we invited such neutral countries as India, Yugoslavia and Sweden to take part in the disarmament negotiations?

We are certainly not opposed to it. It is just a question of such arrangements as can be made. We are in discussion in the normal way with the United States, and the arrangements could include the principle the right hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind.

If the Minister accepts the principle, will he say where the difficulty lies? Surely he must recognise the tremendous faith which the non-aligned countries have in disarmament and the great contribution they could make in building bridges between the opposing sides.

I recognise that they can play a useful part. The difficulty would be when it came eventually to fixing the exact numbers concerned, and so on. I think that it is far better to leave this to the informal discussions that are now taking place, and which will embrace this sort of thing. I think that the best means of making progress, which the whole House wants, is to leave it as it stands at the present moment.

Convention On Genocide

16.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government will now accede to the Convention on Genocide in view of the repeated anti-Semitic activities of Nazis and neo-Nazis.

I am not yet in a position to add to what I said in my speech in the House on 5th June.

Does the Minister of State realise that time is extremely important in this matter now? Twelve years have passed since the Convention was accepted, and we have, for our part, made no move at all. Is he aware that, throughout the world, moneys which were extracted from the unhappy victims of Nazism, the 6 million who died, brutally murdered and tortured, are being utilised by Nazis all over the world in order to carry on further anti-Semitic activities? The matter is extremely serious. Will he do something about it?

I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's point of view, as I made plain in our earlier debate, but I do not think that the point he has just raised would be assisted by our adherence to the Convention. I remind him that there are special problems in relation to Article 7 of the Convention and the right of this country to give asylum in certain cases which must be given most careful consideration.

I think that this is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. Although I have raised it before on the Adjournment, I beg to give notice that I must seek an early opportunity of pressing the Minister by raising the matter again on the Adjournment.

Circuses And Variety Performances (Exchanges)

17.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make it a condition of future grants to the British Council that they should encourage circus and variety performances with a view to arranging exchanges of those performances with countries overseas.

No, Sir. It is Her Majesty's Government's view that per- formances of this nature can best be arranged through normal commercial channels.

Is the Minister aware that circuses and variety acts in this country are not included in cultural recreations and that there is great concern about this among those who are organised in the Variety Artistes' Federation? This is the only country where circus and variety acts may not go abroad in the way that such acts may come to this country. Does not he think that it is time that the whole matter was reconsidered in order to bring circuses and variety acts within terms which will allow them to go outside this country in the way I suggest?

I assure the hon. Lady that there is no invidious distinction here at all. We honestly feel that the most effective way is through the normal commercial channels, which is how these things are usually arranged. I do not think that there is any difficulty arising now, although I should be happy to discuss it with the hon. Lady if she thinks that there is.

May we take it from that reply that Her Majesty's Government is no longer in favour of Summit Conferences?

Europe (British Forces)

19.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government's representative on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council of Ministers has informed that body of United Kingdom intentions to reduce British forces in Europe.

No statements on this subject have been made this year by Her Majesty's representative to the North Atlantic Council.

Presumably the Minister is aware of what his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor said about this matter and the need for reducing our military forces overseas. If anything is done in Europe, will it be on grounds of economy, or are the troops to be withdrawn to Kuwait?

No, Sir my right hon. and learned Friend made the point that the burden of keeping forces overseas is very great and that some way must be found of dealing with the problem. It may be that in Europe a fairer sharing of the cost could be reached.

No, Sir. No decisions have been taken on this matter. My right hon. and learned Friend was making a very general point.

Do those answers mean that Her Majesty's Government are considering reducing our present commitment in Germany, which is already less than we undertook to keep there? Are we reconsidering the number of troops there?

No, Sir; I did not say that. I said that my right hon. and learned Friend's statement referred to all our forces overseas.

Foreign Ministers' Conference (Western Peace Proposals)

21.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Western peace proposals, tabled at the Foreign Ministers' Conference in May, 1959, are still regarded by Her Majesty's Government as inseparable.

Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that there is any prospect of a peaceful settlement of the German question so long as the Western Powers insist that there can be no consideration, for example, of the Macmillan-Khrushchev proposals for a demilitarised zone in Central Europe until after the creation of an all-German Government with full authority to remain a member of N.A.T.O.?

These proposals were put forward by the West in 1959 as a comprehensive plan with the object of giving safeguards for European security to all the parties concerned. Therefore, they should be considered as a whole.

Kuwait

22.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present situation on the borders of Iraq and Kuwait.

30.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the situation in Kuwait.

Nothing has occurred to remove our anxiety concerning the Iraqi threat to the independence of Kuwait, and our defensive build-up has proceeded according to plan. The Security Council is today resuming its consideration of the Kuwaiti complaint, and a Kuwaiti delegation is on its way to New York.

Is the Iraq-Kuwait border clearly defined? In any event, would it not be a good thing if the British-Kuwaiti Forces were kept several miles away from the border so as to minimise the risk of border incidents?

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will realise that in desert country such as that of the Kuwait-Iraq border it is very difficult to find precisely on the ground where the border is, although it is defined on the map. From that point of view, I agree that there is a great deal in what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says.

I recognise that Her Majesty's Government had no option but to accede to the Ruler's request for assistance last week, but will he agree that the scale of the operation now being mounted imposes serious military strains upon this country's defensive forces and, if continued indefinitely, will impose serious political and economic dangers on the country as a whole? For that reason, have Her Majesty's Government any plan in mind for trying to transfer their share of the burden for the defence of Kuwait, and, in particular, will they make some proposal that the United Nations should join in this work?

We are anxious that we should have in Kuwait only the forces necessary to be able to meet the threat from Iraq, and we shall have no more forces there than are necessary for that purpose. Until we are satisfied that the threat has disappeared, and the Ruler of Kuwait, as an independent country, is satisfied, we must see that there is effective defence against any attack.

It may be much too early to talk about the establishment of permanent security forces in Kuwait, but will my right hon. Friend take note of the grave danger of allowing what might be called normal United Nations Forces to take up a position there as they are so liable to infiltration by Iraq and other Arab countries? Will he make absolutely certain that, if any foreign force is ultimately established there, the British will have a very important component part to play in it?

That was why, in answer to the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), I used the expression that any defence must seem to be effective to both the Ruler of Kuwait and ourselves.

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my earlier question? Have Her Majesty's Government any plan in mind for requiring the introduction of some form of United Nations force into Kuwait?

This matter is under consideration at the United Nations and discussions will take place there very shortly. We are, of course, considering what steps we should take there. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that our minds are not closed to it, but the immediate need is to be able to deal with the threat which still remains.

In order to avoid the risk, in the interval before a United Nations force could go there, that British troops might be engaged against the Iraq Army which they have so recently been training, will the Government propose to the United Nations that they should establish a neutralised zone under United Nations observance, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has proposed?

This is another proposition which can be considered, no doubt, in due course. At the moment, the main thing is to be able to deal with the threat which remains.

32.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what recent consultations there have been with the Ruler of Kuwait concerning the defence of the state of Kuwait in view of the latest developments there.

Her Majesty's Government have been in constant consultation with the Ruler concerning the defence of Kuwait, and have taken the necessary action there.

37.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will publish a White Paper on the situation in Kuwait.

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the sooner he comes to a decision about this the better? If this is a major military operation, could not the people of this country be told what it is all about and the background? Is he aware that this operation looks suspiciously like the old Suez operation which cut off this country's oil supplies? Could he explain why this occurs a week after the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that it is necessary to cut overseas military expenditure?

The text of the Exchange of Notes on 19th June, which I announced to the House, has been published as a White Paper and is now available in the Vote Office. The Prime Minister made a very full statement to the House about this on Monday. The purpose of the operation is to meet the request of the Ruler of Kuwait for defence against a threat from Iraq. It is carrying out our obligations under paragraph (d) of the Exchange of Notes.

In making up his mind, will the Lord Privy Seal bear in mind the rather extravagant historical justification contained in the speech made by General Kassim when he laid claim to this territory?

I will, indeed. I said we would bear the suggestion in mind in order to choose the right moment when there is sufficient information to publish in the White Paper.

38.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations he has received from members of the Arab League following the decision of Her Majesty's Government to land troops in Kuwait.

Would it not be very helpful in this venture if we could be assured of the good will of the Arab League? Is it not the case that it has met very recently and come to a decision? Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not he has any inkling of what the attitude of the members of the Arab League, apart from Saudi-Arabia, is in this matter? How does the balance of opinion lie?

I think that all the Arab countries, with the exception of Iraq, sent messages of support and congratulation on the occasion of the Exchange of Notes about the independence of Kuwait. I have no knowledge of the Arab League's having reached a decision in the last few days since the events in Kuwait.

Has the verbal support been manifested in any other way, say by the support of troops?

No, sir, Saudi-Arabia is the only country which has offered the support of troops and has, in fact, sent a token force.

Does not the Lord Privy Seal agree that it is a very peculiar thing that our soldiers should be shoulder to shoulder with Saudi-Arabian troops in Kuwait although our two Government at the moment have no diplomatic relations? Have the Government any intention—in view of the fact that we may soon be co-belligerents with Saudi-Arabia—of resuming negotiations for the restoration of diplomatic relations?

As it is always said that British troops are the best ambassadors in the world, it may be that this will lead to a better relationship.

Could the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the House that 40 per cent. of the oil on which this country's industry depends comes from Kuwait and that our troops are there in order to defend it because the Government think they cannot defend it in any other way? If those facts are made clear, does he not think that our reputation in the world would be just a trifle higher than by this constant humbug and pretence about the protection of the Ruler of Kuwait? If we are there for protection of our own interests, why not say so frankly?

—as indeed have other countries and nationals, in the oil which is either in Kuwait or adjacent to Kuwait. Kuwait achieved independence. Only a fortnight ago we offered protection for Kuwait's independence. I notice that the hon. Member is very careful in his choice of countries which ought to have their independence protected for them. This is a case where we undertook obligations and we are carrying them out.

Portugal (Supply Of Arms)

26.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what quantities and types of British arms have been supplied to Portugal in each of the last 12Months; what conditions have been attached in each case; and on what date Her Majesty's Government not to employ these arms in overseas territories.

27.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will state the amount and value of naval, military and air equipment sent directly to Portuguese overseas territories during the past year.

29.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will publish in HANSARD details of all arms exported to Portugal between 1st January and 15th March, 1961, and since 15th March; and what steps are being taken to ensure that arms supplied to Portugal for use in the fulfilment of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation obligations will not be used in the Portuguese overseas territories.

As it is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to give details of arms supplied for foreign Governments, I have nothing to add to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 27th June and yesterday.

On the eve of a debate on the situation in Angola, is the Lord Privy Seal telling the House that we are not entitled to know what quantities of British arms have been supplied to be used by the Portuguese to massacre the people in Angola? Does he propose to refuse this information to the House? Will he tell us how the Government will ensure that arms now supplied to Portugal will not continue to be used to massacre people in Angola?

It is a long-standing policy of Governments on both sides of the House not to give details of arms supplied to other countries, whether by Governments or by private purchase. With regard to policy towards Portugal and Angola, it has been clearly announced to the House that any orders for Portuguese overseas territories are in suspense. As for Portugal herself, the arms are examined to see whether they are in accord with her N.A.T.O. requirements. It is for the Government to decide whether that is so or not.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say why he has not answered the second part of Question No. 29, which does not ask for details and which the Prime Minister did not answer yesterday? Will the right hon. Gentleman please answer it now? What steps are being taken?

The steps being taken are that the arms which are supplied have to be seen by Her Majesty's Government to be in accordance with N.A.T.O. requirements.

With regard to Question No. 27, is it not a fact that no arms were supplied last year directly to Portuguese territories because they were all sent to Portugal for trans-shipment? Does not this make complete nonsense of the Prime Minister's promise not to send any in future?

I do not think it does, because, as I explained, supplies of arms have to be seen to be within N.A.T.O. requirements.

is it not a fact that almost the whole of Portugal's effective fighting forces are at present serving in Angola and that therefore any arms sent to Portugal are likely to be used there rather than anywhere else? Can the Lord Privy Seal give a straight answer to a straight question: have Her Majesty's Government asked the Portuguese Government for any assurances that arms supplied under N.A.T.O. arrangements will not be used in Angola?

No, Sir. The arms which are supplied for N.A.T.O. requirements are very often, in fact almost entirely, of a different type from the sort of arms which can be used in a colonial territory or colonial type of territory such as Angola.

When the right hon. Gentleman relies on precedent in this matter and says that these figures are not generally revealed to the House, will he recall that at the time of Suez the detailed figures of arms supplied during the previous few years to Egypt and Israel were given to this House? Will he look up those figures? Is it because we happen to have this alliance with Portugal that facts similar to those which were revealed on a previous occasion are denied to the House?

I will look up the precedent cited by the hon. Gentleman, but the statement of general policy as I made it remains.

Are not we bound under the Arms Traffic Convention of 1920 to publish licences of arms which we sell abroad? Have the Government repudiated that obligation?

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

28.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will instruct the Government's representatives in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to insist that all contingency planning should be based on strict respect for the restrictions on the right to resort to force laid down in the Charter of the United Nations.

The plans and policies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are, as has been repeatedly stated, purely defensive and fully consistent with the United Nations Charter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give a clear reply to the effect that the Government will not associate themselves with any contingency planning which contemplates resort to force without the authorisation of the Security Council, except as a measure of defence against armed attack? Is he aware that resort to force in any other circumstances would constitute aggression and violation of the Charter? Will he assure the House and the country that the Government's contingency planning does not include aggression and violation of the Charter?

We shall continue to plan for all eventualities and to carry out our obligations under the Charter.

In view of the completely unsatisfactory and, in fact, menacing nature of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, I give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first opportunity.

Laos

36.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a further statement concerning the negotiations to establish a neutral status for Laos.

The Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Boun Oum, held conversations with Prince Souvanna Phouma and Prince Souphanouvong at Zurich from 18th to 22nd June. The three Princes issued a communiqué recording their agreement in principle to form a provisional coalition government and a single delegation to the Conference at Geneva. The communiqué also outlined a list of tasks to which the new Government would address itself when formed, including the pursuit of a neutral policy. The three Princes have announced their intention to meet again in order to complete the task of making the new Government.

Meanwhile, discussion has continued in Geneva on the various proposals which have been tabled.

When does the right hon. Gentleman expect a further conference to take place? Does he agree that unless it takes place soon and agreement is reached there is danger of Laos becoming divided into two States instead of being unified as an independent and neutral State?

The date does not depend on us, but we understand that the three Princes have it in mind to meet during the course of this month. As to the latter part of the supplementary question, I think that all the parties to the Geneva Conference have announced their desire to see a unified as well as an independent neutral Laos.

Will the Lord Privy Seal clear up confusion, at any rate in my mind, about Press reports of an agreement which may or may not have been reached concerning the supply of transport and other facilities to the International Commission in Laos?

The Conference has been discussing the request of the Commission and how this should be met, but it has not yet been possible to reach agreement between the two Co-Chairmen as to the way it should be done.

Employment

Remploy Factory, Birmingham

39.

asked the Minister of Labour what progress has been made regarding the closing of the Remploy factory, Clay Lane, Birmingham; what use will be made of the old buildings; and whether he will make a statement.

It has been decided to bring the two Remploy factories in Birmingham under one roof. This will cause no loss of employment, and the workers have been given assurances that they will not be adversely affected in any way. The change will make possible substantial savings in running costs and overheads. The premises at Yardley will be relinquished.

Would my hon. Friend say whether or not the same number of work places will be available for disabled men?

Remploy has assured me that there will be no loss of work or reduction in the number of severely disabled employed. I am, indeed, hopeful that, on the contrary, the new combined factory at Garretts Green will be more accessible by public transport and it may be possible to place additional Section 2 cases in employment there.

United States Air Force Station, Bruntingthorpe (Closure)

40.

asked the Minister of Labour what steps are being taken to assist those who will become unemployed when the United States Air Force station at Bruntingthorpe is closed.

Arrangements will be made for the advance registration of employees at Bruntingthorpe before discharges begin in March, 1962.

Whilst thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him to bear in mind that a number of these employees are of a specialised category who are not easy to place in normal civilian work?

I appreciate that there may be difficulties in a few cases, but fortunately unemployment is very low in the whole area and I hope that those cases will be very few indeed.

Commercial Apprenticeship Scheme

41.

asked the Minister of Labour how many boys and girls, respectively, have been apprenticed through the commercial apprenticeship scheme since 31st August, 1959; and what percentage this represents of recruitment into clerical employment of the relevant age group.

Ninety-eight boys and three girls between 16 and 18 were enrolled under the Commercial Apprenticeship Scheme in the year ended 31st August, 1960. This represents 0·2 per cent. of the number of boys and girls in this age group taking up clerical work. The scheme is for the training of candidates for executive posts, and the field of recruitment is therefore much smaller than that for clerical work.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary explain why the Minister of Labour boasted about the high number of people entering clerical employment when he spoke in the apprenticeship debate? This is one example of apprenticeship training where there are serious deficiencies, and there are other wide areas as well. Can he give reasons why more efforts are not made to encourage clerical apprenticeship schemes?

I agree that the increase hoped for has not been achieved, but it should be remembered that a number of firms have their own schemes for training, both for executive posts and general clerical duties. Unfortunately, the figures are not available for people trained under those arrangements, but I am informed that the number is appreciable. However, there is no doubt that more systematic training is required.

Youth Employment Bureaux

42.

asked the Minister of Labour whether alternative accommodation has yet been found for the eleven youth employment bureaux reported on by the Youth Employment Advisory Committee as unsatisfactory and for which suitable premises had not been found by 2nd May, 1960.

Of these eleven offices, whose premises were criticised by inspectors of the Central Youth Employment Executive, alternative accommodation has been found for four, and in two cases is already in use. Efforts are being continued to obtain alternative premises for the other seven.

Is not this another example of the Ministry of Labour dragging its feet in relation to the Youth Employment Service? Surely it is high time that these officers were found suitable accommodation?

I do not think it is a question of the Ministry dragging its feet. In many areas it is difficult to find existing suitable accommodation. Of the seven offices for which alternative accommodation has still to be found, four are part-time. I am sure the hon. Member would agree that we cannot build very fast for part-time use.