Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1961

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

Ministry Of Works

Empress State Building, Earl's Court

1 and 5.

asked the Minister of Works (1) for what purpose his Department has leased the 28-storey Empress State Building from City Centre Properties; and what are the financial terms and duration of the lease; (2) what will be the annual cost to public funds arising out of the use of the Empress State Building by Government Departments; and what annual saving or increased cost will result from these departments moving from other accommodation.

My Department has taken a lease of the Empress State Building at Earl's Court in order to replace certain leased buildings where the leases cannot be renewed on expiry or could be renewed only on much less favourable terms. On the question of financial terms and costs, I would refer to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) on 18th July. I can say, however, that the leasing of this large office building away from the expensive Central London area will lead to considerable savings to my Department.

May I ask my right hon. Friend if he is aware that the Answer which he gave to my hon. Friend for Harrow. West (Mr. John Page) does not cover my second Question, No. 5? I asked my right hon. Friend the cost to public funds, not the lease, and whether it would, in fact, be a saving or an increase in expenditure. Could he give me that information?

I am not prepared to give my hon. Friend the information, in so far as the amount charged for the rent would emerge, for the reasons which I gave last time, but, overall, the facts are as I stated. This will result in a saving.

John Lilburne


asked the Minister of Works whether, in view of recent historical evidence of the part played by the Levellers in the establishment of Parliamentary freedom and democracy in this country, he will make arrangements for the establishment of a suitable memorial to John Lilburne and his associates within the Palace of Westminster.

Does not the Minister appreciate that the minorities of today, even the very small minorities, very often become the majorities of tomorrow? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would induce a healthy respect for this excellent truth if we paid proper tribute to the first Englishman who dared preach the doctrine of democratic Parliament?

As far as I am aware, the Levellers were primarily an extra-Parliamentary group, and I am not sure that it would be a good thing to go too wide.

The Minister is absolutely misinformed on the subject. There were quite a number of spokesmen for the view of the Levellers in Parliament at that time. When the right hon. Gentleman has examined his history and read, say, the recent book of Mr. H. N. Brailsford and got his history more accurate, would he reconsider the matter?

However accurate or inaccurate my history may be, the Answer which I have given to the House must be my answer.

The right hon. Gentleman says that he will be guided by the wishes of the House. Will he ask his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to give us an opportunity to express our views, because I think that if he were so guided he would reach a conclusion such as is urged upon him by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)?

Cholwichtown Stone Row


asked the Minister of Works why he agreed to the proposal of English China Clays Limited that they might obliterate Cholwichtown Stone Row, an ancient bronze-age monument in the Dartmoor National Park.

This stone row, which is by no means one of the best on Dartmoor, is not to be destroyed: it will simply be buried. I was satisfied that there was no other site would could reasonably be used for dumping the spoil from the china clay workings.

May I ask the Minister to reconsider his decision, because burial is usually the end of things, and will he take into account that this is a scheduled monument of anything from 3,500 to 4,000 years' old and that there are alternative sites for the spoil?

It is quite literally true—it really is—that this monument will not be destroyed by burial, unlike some other things which were in the hon. Gentleman's mind. These stones really are not by any means the best examples of their kind.

Royal Palaces (Expenditure)


asked the Minister of Works whether, in the interests of the national economy and the new need to curtail public expenditure, he will now stop the £50,000 improvement work contemplated on IA, Kensington Palace; and if he will reappraise other expenditure on Royal Palaces with a view to effecting further economies.

The Answer to the first part of the Question is "No." With regard to the second part, the maximum economy is exercised over the Royal Palaces Vote, as with all the Votes for which I am responsible.

Does not the Minister recognise that very soon now the whole nation will be asked to make sacrifices in the national interest? Why, therefore, should a very tiny, highly privileged and, in the main, useless minority —

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot ask that supplementary question. It is out of order. Mr. Fletcher.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Are you referring to the original Question or to the supplementary question, because, if it is to the supplementary question you refer, I would gladly withdraw—

Further to that point of order, may I have an opportunity to rephrase the questions—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]

I am sorry. The hon. Gentleman's question is out of order, so I have to go on to call the next Question. Mr. Fletcher.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that it is within the recollection of almost every hon. Member that, when a supplementary question has been ruled out of order, the hon. Member asking the original Question has been given the opportunity to ask a supplementary question which is in order, and I am simply seeking—

Order. The hon. Gentleman has, I think, some illusion. In fact, I called the next Question.

Then, Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. In view of the grossly unsatisfactory nature of the original reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.



asked the Minister of Works what are his present proposals for improving the public facilities for visitors to Stonehenge.

Facilities are at present provided in three rather obtrusive structures. Because of the increased number of visitors these are no longer adequate. I therefore wish to tidy up the site and provide proper facilities in one building, which, unlike the present structures, would be invisible from the Stones. But the National Trust, which owns the land, feels unable to agree. I regret that I can make no further headway without the co-operation of the Trust.

I thank the Minister for that reply, but will he appreciate that there is increasing public interest in Stonehenge; that greater facilities are required, but that it is equally desirable that any new building should be so sited as not to destroy the natural detachment and isolation of the site? Will he do his best to continue his negotiations with the National Trust with a view to getting an agreed solution?

I will, indeed. I should tell the House that the Ancient Monuments Board for England supports my proposals as being a definite improvement of what is there now, just as I myself support the Board's long-term view that the perfect solution involves the closure of A.344 where it passes the monument. In the meantime, the Board agrees that what I propose to do is an improvement on what is there now, but I cannot go on with it until I have the agreement of the Trust.

Will my right hon. Friend set my mind at rest? I am rather afraid that the intention is to bury Stonehenge.

There is no more danger of my burying Stonehenge than that that same fate awaits my hon. Friend.

Since the closure of A.344 is the only satisfactory solution to a very intractable problem, will the Minister have urgent discussions with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to see whether his right hon. Friend cannot press ahead with this rerouteing?

I think that the hon. Gentleman will realise that this must lie some way ahead, but I certainly do not mean to lose sight of it. It is the right answer. Meanwhile, I cannot see why we should not do as well as we can temporarily, and that is precisely what I have asked to be allowed to do.

Local Government

Greater London


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is yet in a position to announce his proposals for the reorganisation of local government in the Greater London area.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister far Welsh Affairs what consideration he has now given to the representations made to him by local authorities with regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the Report of the Royal Commission on London Government.

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

The Government have the Royal Commission's Report and the representations of local authorities on it under consideration, but I regret it will not be possible to make an announcement before the Recess.

Can my right hon. Friend give some indication of when he is likely to bring forward the Government's proposals; or, at least, to introduce a White Paper on the subject? Furthermore, will will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that many local authority employees are becoming increasingly apprehensive about how their future will be affected by these proposals, if they are accepted, and that local authorities are finding it extremely difficult to recruit new staff?

Whether or not the proposals are accepted, I think that it is desirable to keep the period of uncertainty to a minimum. Therefore, in response to my hon. Friend's main supplementary question, I certainly reply that the Government will announce their decision as soon as they properly can.

When the right hon. Gentleman says that the decision will be announced as soon as it properly can be and, at the same time, says that it will not be before the Summer Recess, is he anticipating that the statement will be made while the House is in Recess, or is it meant to await the return of the House before making the statement? In addition to the present effect on local authority staff recruitment, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the London political parties will shortly be preparing for next year's elections? If there are to be major changes there will, presumably, be no elections, so the sooner we know the better.

I think that the political parties can take it for granted that there will be elections next year, but I really cannot say when I shall be able to make a statement.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be better to have a debate in this House before the Government make their decision, so that they can make it in the light of the opinions then expressed?

There has been nearly a year during which it has been possible for the Oppposition to seek a debate on the question. It seems better now that the Government should reach their decision and make their announcement, and for that to be debated.

Local Government Act, 1933 (Section 76)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will now make a statement on the operation of Section 76 of the Local Government Act, 1933, in view of the continued uncertainty of those engaged in local government.

I intend to make a statement in due course, but I regret I cannot do so yet.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on 4th July, 1961, 3rd May, 1961, 28th June, 1960, 29th March, 1960, and 17th November, 1959, we had Answers almost precisely similar to the Answer just given, and can he not give us a definite date when he will make a statement on this matter, which looks like dragging on like the trial of Warren Hastings?

I regret that I cannot give a definite date. In any case, I have no power whatsoever to interpret the law, and any change in the law would naturally require a Bill.

Green Belts


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will categorise the exceptions permitted by the Government to its policy of maintaining the green belt.

This information is set out in Circular 42/55, a copy of which I sent to my hon. Friend, following his Question on 3rd May.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the deep concern felt among my constituents in the Chigwell urban district and the Epping and Ongar rural district lest there be further encroachments on the Metropolitan green belt, which they value very much? Will he remove any misapprehensions that Government Departments and public institutions are in a privileged position in this matter?

Nobody is in a privileged position, though my hon. Friend will recollect from that Circular that the purposes for which buildings might be erected in the green belt include

"… agriculture, sport, cemeteries, institutions standing in extensive grounds or other uses appropriate to a rural area."


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether it is now his policy that new schools should be built in a green belt whenever possible, instead of in areas designated for building development; and what consideration he has given to the effect on the green belts of the present financial incentives to local education authorities to acquire land for schools in the green belt because of the much lower compensation payable.

Schools ought not to be built in a green belt simply because the land there is cheaper. Most schools need to be near to the homes of the boys and girls, and this factor alone will normally rule out a site in a green belt. But there are cases where the most suitable site in all the circumstances may be in a green belt, and I would not think that green belt zoning should be held to preclude absolutely such a use as a school.

May I take it from my hon. Friend's reply that he does not regard it as generally consistent with his green belt policy that two or three schools should grow up side by side in what is said to be a green belt?

It is not my policy to encourage schools in a green belt, but there may be cases where the green belt is really the most desirable place for a school, and if it is surrounded by extensive playing fields it might not be an offensive intrusion there.

Dorell Glass Company Limited (Planning Decision)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what inquiries he has made of the Shoreditch Borough Council concerning ex gratia compensation for financial loss by the Dorell Glass Company Limited, arising out of planning decisions, in view of his circular to local authorities on the considerations governing such matters.

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

I wrote to the hon. Member on 7th June fully explaining the position. The only change since then is that the borough council has decided to pay an additional £39 18s. 0d. in respect of surveyors' fees.

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, and for the trouble that he has taken in the matter, may I ask him whether he is aware that my constituents have been brought very nearly to the verge of bankruptcy by the interpretation of policy by this council, and could he see his way to making further representations to that authority?

My right hon. Friend has no power to intervene here, since the compensation payable is only discretionary. Of course, my hon. Friend's constituents did not object to the compulsory purchase order.

Cholwichtown Stone Row


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will hold a public inquiry into the application of English Clays Ltd for permission to obliterate the ancient Stone Row at Cholwichtown, in the Dartmoor National Park.

No, Sir. The hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir H. Studholme) has already been in touch with me on the same subject. My right hon. Friend gave his decision on this matter on 9th May.

Can the Minister say whether he will reconsider his decision because, after all, Dartmoor is a National Park and is something of a right to the nation? This is a wealthy company which could very well site the spoil heap elsewhere. Surely an ancient monument of this kind should be respected.

My right hon. Friend cannot reconsider his decision now it is taken. The National Parks Commission was consulted before the decision was taken.

Drainage And Sewerage, Onneley


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware of the insanitary smell at Onneley, near Crewe, due to the lack of proper drainage and sewerage; and if he will consult with the local authority about ways and means of removing this nuisance and introducing a reasonable standard of sanitation.

My right hon. Friend is making inquiries of the local authority, and will write to the hon. Member.

While bearing that in mind, would the hon. Gentleman take note that several years have been spent trying to bring about a limited land drainage scheme to which the Ministry of Agriculture would contribute? This has failed owing to the difficulty of getting local agreement among the farmers. Could the hon. Gentleman's Department take the initiative and propose a proper sewerage scheme for this rural area?

Aluminium Scrap Plants (Fumes)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will issue a Command Paper giving a report on the work carried out by the Alkali inspectorate in conjunction with the aluminium scrap plants industry; and what results have been obtained in diminishing the fumes emitted by such plants.

I would invite the right hon. Gentleman's attention to my Chief Alkali Inspector's Annual Report for 1960, presented to Parliament last month, which records the position reached in England and Wales by the end of 1960. His next Annual Report will record progress during 1961.

Is the Minister aware that, in spite of what he has told me in previous Answers, the results of the Inspectorate's efforts in Derby are nil? Is that due to the fact that there are net enough inspectors, that their powers are inadequate or that new legislation is required to deal with this evil of air pollution?

Their powers are adequate and the number of inspectors has been increased, but if the right hon. Gentleman will look alt the inspector's report he will see that more experience of some other tentative methods of remedying the troubles is needed before we can he quite sure what is the best course to follow.

I have looked at the report. Will the Minister come to look at the fumes emitted by Denby Metals Ltd.?

Property (Compulsory Purchase)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is satisfied with the way in which local authorities are acquiring property under the threat of compulsory purchase orders, or by means of compulsory purchase orders; and if he will make a statement.

I have not received many complaints on this matter; and no compulsory purchase order has effect unless the appropriate Minister decides to confirm it. The basis of compensation is no different whether a property is bought by compulsory purchase order or not.

Is the Minister aware that certain practices take place where there is a threat of compulsory purchase? Is he aware, for instance, that the City of Birmingham, when acquiring property and having to evict an owner, frequently charges £500 if alternative accommodation is found? Would he not agree that this is most unfortunate?

I think I know what is in my hon. Friend's mind, but the position is that I have no jurisdiction over the compensation which owners receive under a compulsory purchase order. That is settled, or can on appeal be settled, by the Land Tribunal and I must not trespass on the Tribunal's ground.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the whole question should be looked into.

I will certainly examine further any information which my hon. Friend sends to me, but I have not anything before me at the moment and, as I say—and it should be widely known—if there is a dispute about compensation, then an appeal lies to the Land Tribunal and the aggrieved person can take advantage of that.

Is it not true that, while the Minister has no control over the amount of compensation to be paid, neither has Birmingham Corporation? As the Minister has said, the appeal lies to someone outside both the Ministry and local Government.

Yes, but I would add that advice has been given to local authorities that if they are unable to reach agreement on the price to be paid for a property which they wish to acquire and they are not actually exercising compulsory powers, they should refer the matter to the Land Tribunal so that a proper decision can be arrived at.

Public Lavatories (Turnstiles)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs why he has refused to accept a deputation from the National Council of Women on the prohibition of the use of turnstiles in public lavatories.

The hon. Member is misinformed. I did not refuse to see a deputation, but suggested that the Council should in the first place approach the local authority associations. It has done so, and has now asked to see me; I am arranging to meet it.

While welcoming the Minister's belated agreement to meet this deputation from the National Council of Women, may I ask him whether he will now accede to the desperate plea of a large number of women's organisations that he should take action in this matter? Will he either support my Private Member's Bill abolishing turnstiles or introduce similar legislation himself to the same effect?

I understand that a new Clause on this subject has been tabled to the Public Health Bill, so there seems to be plenty of potential legislation about. The National Council of Women is coming to see me this week and, with respect to the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), I should prefer to say nothing more at this stage until I have seen that deputation, which I am looking forward to meeting.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will now state the composition of the delegation which he has agreed to meet regarding turnstile entrances to ladies' public lavatories.

I understand from the National Council of Women that the deputation will include representatives of that Council and of the British Federation of University Women, the British Rheumatism and Arthritis Association, the National Federation of Women's Institutes, the National Union of Townswomen's Guilds, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Women's Co-operative Guild.

Would my right hon. Friend agree that, in view of the large number of women's organisations represented on this delegation, this is obviously a matter of great importance to all women in this country? In view of his answer to an earlier supplementary question to the effect that he preferred to say and do nothing until after he has met this delegation, and since two new Clauses on this point have been tabled for consideration during the Report stage of the Public Health Bill on Friday morning, which will naturally come before Parliament before he meets the deputation, will he reconsider this matter?

I am extremely anxious to find a solution of this genuine problem which will be satisfactory to everybody, but I also want to meet all these important bodies when they come to see me.

Planning Appeal, Saffron Walden


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs on what grounds he concluded, when deciding the planning appeal of Messrs. D. Heath & Son against the Saffron Walden Rural District Council, that there was need for the production of chalk in the area.

What I actually said was that chalk from the appeal site would make a useful contribution to an area which is partly dependent on pits lying at a distance. But, as I made clear in the House when the case was debated in May, my decision on the appeal did not turn on this. It turned on whether there would be serious nuisance from chalk dust blowing on to neighbouring land. Once I was satisfied that there would not, there was no reason for withholding planning permission.

Clean Air Act, 1956


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what progress has been made in the five years to 30th June, 1961, in securing implementation of the provisions of the Clean Air Act, 1956, notably in the establishment of Smoke Control Areas in black areas denoted in the Beaver Report.

In the black areas of England and Wales, over 623,000 premises and over 102,000 acres are now covered by confirmed smoke control orders. Over 128,000 more premises and over 29.000 more acres in these areas are covered by orders submitted for confirmation. These figures, which are correct to 30th June, indicate a substantial start, but continued vigorous use of all the Act's provisions is needed.

While this is impressive progress in the first five years, will my hon. Friend recognise that the whole of the policy for clean air is being vitiated by the fact that no progress is being made in the abatement of diesel oil exhaust fumes? As there is divided executive responsibility between the Ministers of Transport and Housing and Local Government, cannot we have a combined policy to rid us of this public menace?

I cannot accept that the clean air policy is being vitiated for this reason, but consultations are taking place on the subject.

Alkali Inspectorate


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what improvement has occurred in the effectiveness of the Alkali Inspectorate and associated facilities in his Department during the five years to 30th June, 1961, since the Clean Air Act reached the Statute Book; and whether he will make a statement upon the adequacy or otherwise of current alkali arrangements.

The annual report shows how many distinct problems there are in this field. While in most cases the necessary techniques are known and are being applied, there are some processes which cannot in the present state of knowledge be entirely without undesirable emissions. Research continues and the co-operation of all concerned is unstinted. To deal with its increased responsibilities, the staff of the Inspectorate in England and Wales has been increased from 10 in 1956 to 25 now. My right hon. Friend has in mind extending the Alkali Acts by order to cover certain additional processes, where control is now on an informal, though satisfactory basis.

Having regard to the very great increase in chemical production and associated processes in this country, is my hon. Friend satisfied that, notwithstanding the increase in staff among the Alkali Inspectorate, it is likely to be sufficient to enable the members of the staff to tackle their formidable duties in all parts of the country?

My hon. Friend must bear in mind that a number of manufacturing processes are converting to smokeless techniques and a number of other undertakings, particularly gas and coke works, are concentrating in fewer hands.

Roads, Oxford (Inquiry)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will announce his decision on the Oxford roads inquiry when the House reassembles after the Recess.

I cannot yet say when I shall be able to announce my decision, but I will do so as soon as I can.

Can the Minister give an assurance that he will neither come to a decision nor announce his decision while the House is in recess, because of the very important issues involved, especially if he finally decides to sanction the pernicious proposal to drive a road through the Meadows? Before coming to a decision, will he also have a word with the Chancellor of the University of Oxford about it?

Having a word with people after public inquiries is just what I am not allowed to do and do not want to do. I should not like to give an undertaking that in no circumstances will I announce my decision on this matter before the House reassembles, because there are many people who are extremely anxious for a decision one way or the other to be reached. What I will say to the hon. Member is that, after a decision is announced, a very long procedure has still to be followed and it will probably be several years before a single sod is dug.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that everybody will breathe a sigh of relief if he can bring to an end this inter-collegiate road warfare at Oxford in good time and once and for all?

Does not my right hon. Friend recall having a word with the Minister of Agriculture after the public inquiry on the chalk case?

My hon. Friend cannot have been present when I said in the House, in the early morning of 17th May, that I reached my decision that that appeal should be allowed because there appeared to be no substantial agricultural or amenity objection to it. I let the Ministry of Agriculture know that that was my view. I am quite sure that it was proper for me to do that, and the Ministry of Agriculture had no comment or objection to raise.


Housing Loans (Interest Rates)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what additional help he will give local authorities to offset the latest increase in interest rates on public works loans for housing purposes and on loans to house buyers affected by the rise in interest rates.

It is not Government policy to insulate housing from the market cost of borrowing.

That is no help at all. Is not this the fourth increase in a series? Is the Minister aware that, because of the resultant high rents, many people living in tragic housing conditions are having to refuse council houses and, indeed, in certain cities even with Tent rebate schemes the top fifteen or twenty with priority on the list are having to forgo their chances of a house.

Certainly no one in the borough which I represent, where there is an effective differential rent scheme, ever has to refuse accommodation offered because the rent is too high.



asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will list the fifty local authorities with the largest populations which, under the Housing Bill, are likely to receive an annual subsidy of £8 instead of the present £22 per house, and the fifty largest to receive £24 instead of £22.

As the rate of subsidy payable will depend in the first instance upon the state of a local authority's housing revenue account at the end of March, 1962, I have not at present sufficient information to make reliable forecasts about individual local authorities; their own treasurers are best qualified to advise them what rate they are likely to receive initially.

Yes, but the Minister surely must have prepared such figures when telling us in Committee that the increases would balance the cuts. Is the Minister aware that this list would show that Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, with terrible housing situations, are to have their subsidies slashed, while Bournemouth will benefit? How can the right hon. Gentleman defend such a gross injustice?

This has been fully debated. If Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle do not qualify in the first instance for more than £8 subsidy, that is because the test shows that they have considerable potential financial resources which they could mobilise by charging more realistic rents.

The matter has been debated a good deal, but the Minister has never answered this point. When preparing the Bill, he must have had some idea about the answer to my hon. Friend's Question. Why cannot we have the information as to which authorities he thinks will gain and which will lose so that we may judge the matter in the light of the facts?

During debates on the Bill I gave a broad indication—and I stick to it—that half the local authorities will qualify initially for the £24 and half for the £8. But that is a very different matter from that raised by this Question, which asks me to specify one hundred particular authorities. That I could not do.

Slum Clearance, Birmingham


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what progress has been made with slum clearance in Birmingham since his visit to the city in mid-March.

Since my visit, I have confirmed thirty-one Birmingham slum clearance orders, comprising more than 1,000 houses. I understand that in the same period the corporation has demolished some 700 unfit houses and reconditioned a further 650.

What have you done about it since on 21st March—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Order."]

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I will put myself in order. What has the Minister done since he visited Small Heath in the middle of a by-election—for the purpose of ensuring that I did not come here—when he said that he had seen property in Birmingham such as he did not know existed, and that he thought that that sort of thing

"had come down years ago. It appals one that children should be playing around them. They have got to come down."
Since the sight which he saw at Small Heath appalled him—and I agree with that feeling—may I ask the right hon. Gentleman what emergency action he has taken since he returned to Westminster the next day to help Birmingham to get rid of its slums? Can he give us a guarantee that no reduction in slum clearance will be proposed later this afternoon?

I saw the property to which I was referring, not on that occasion, but on an earlier visit to Birmingham, in company with the Birmingham Corporation. Since then I have been giving the Birmingham Corporation all the help that I can, some of which is set out in the Answer to the hon. Gentleman's Question. I hope that Birmingham will press on with slum clearance.

Leasehold System, Wales

30 and 31.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (1) what reply he has sent to the protests concerning hardship caused by the operation of the leasehold system in South Wales; and whether he will make a statement;

(2) what steps he has taken to collect evidence regarding hardship caused by the operation of the present leasehold laws in Wales; and whether he will make a statement.

All protests or evidence sent in have been acknowledged, and my right hon. and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and I are having them examined to see whether they do demonstrate hardship. He has been making inquiries through the solicitors' profession also. As I said in the House on 12th July, if hon. Members have any evidence of a specific character which seems to them to prove hardship, I am very ready to consider it.

is the Minister aware that there has been a storm of indignation following his statement that there was no evidence of hardship caused by the leasehold system in Wales? Can he indicate how long it will be before he and the Attorney-General are able to reach a conclusion on the evidence, which I know that they have received, of grievous hardship being caused in Wales by the operation of the leasehold system?

Since the debate, I have received only twenty-one communications. What I am trying to discover is cases of actual hardship. In the debate, the hon. Member quoted the case of a man who, he alleged, was suffering hardship because his rent had been increased from 1s. to 11 s. 7d. a week, which did not seem to me to be evidence of hardship.

I can provide the right hon. Gentleman with many more than twenty-one cases of extreme hardship, and I will gladly do so today if he is willing to see me. Is he aware that all his hon. Friends who represent constituencies in South Wales say in public that they also support leasehold enfranchisement and that he stands alone, disowned by the Welsh Conservative Party, on this matter?

I have stood alone before. My concern here is to get at facts. To use phrases like "a storm of indignation" does not help unless people produce actual cases of hardship following from the action of ground landlords.

Is the Minister saying that, even though there is no hardship —of course, it can be demonstrated that there is—the system is fair as between landlord and tenant? If so, he will be disowned by everyone in Wales.

I am saying that up to the present the Government see no cause for amending the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954, which considerably improved the position of the occupying lessee. However, if hon. Members have further evidence to submit to me, I, together with my right hon. and learned Friend, will be glad to examine it.

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

British Guiana

Colonial Development Corporation (Consolidated Goldfields Ltd)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the financial reorganisation, and in view of the importance of maintaining local good will for the operations of the Colonial Development Corporation, he will reconsider the decision of the Corporation to insist on its rights as secured creditors of British Guiana Consolidated Goldfields Limited being given priority over other small creditors in the area.

I understand that the Corporation has authorised the Receiver to make a number of ex gratia payments to creditors of the company. It is expected that the Corporation will shortly dispose of its residual assets and that the company will remain in operation.

While thanking the Minister for that Answer, which, I think, will be very welcome in the West Indies, may I ask whether he is aware that it would be much easier for the Colonial Development Corporation to build up the kind of local good will that is essential if the Government would relax some of the financial restrictions which they impose upon the Corporation?

The West Indies

Citrus Industry


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the official citrus negotiations now taking place with a West Indian delegation.

I have nothing to add to the reply given on 20th July to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher).

Is not it a fact that these negotiations have been concluded? In view of the fact that British orders for concentrated orange juice from the West Indies are to be cut by nearly 50 per cent., will the Minister consider ways and means of averting what may be a disastrous effect upon the West Indies citrus industry?

I understand that the negotiations have not been completely concluded and that there is to be a further stage of negotiation, at which the Colonial Office will doubtless be brought in.


Financial Assistance


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a statement about economic aid to be provided to Tanganyika after independence; and how far this will help the government of that territory to fulfil its development plans for the period 1961 to 1964.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what grants or loans are being made to Tanganyika to assist with her three-year development plan.

I have been able to put improved proposals by Her Majesty's Government for continuing financial assistance after independence to the Prime Minister of Tanganyika. But as these are being considered by the Tanganyika Government I am not yet in a position to give details.

When does the Secretary of State expect to inform the House about this? Are we not being kept waiting a very long time? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Press statement made by Mr. Julius Nyerere, one of the ablest and most friendly Prime Ministers towards this country in Africa? Has he not seen the expression of regret and despair made, too, by Mr. Julius Nyerere? Can the Secretary of State offer any hope that the proposals of which Mr. Nyerere was then speaking will be modified before he makes his next statement?

I have made it clear that I have put forward improved proposals. For myself, I would be quite ready to give details of them, but the Prime Minister of Tanganyika prefers not to do so at this stage and, of course, I agree with him. I will, however, make as full a statement on this matter as I can in the debate which we are to have later today.

Is it not a fact that Tanganyika was promised generous aid for its £24 million development plan? Will my right hon. Friend look again at the possibility of concentrating British aid in the earlier years of the plan and forming a consortium with the United States and West Germany to finance the later stages of the plan?

Yes, Sir, those two latter points are very much in my mind. Indeed, it is, perhaps, rather the phasing than the amount of the assistance we give that creates the more difficulty.

Does the Secretary of State mean that his proposals which he has been putting to the Prime Minister of Tanganyika are the Government's final word, or does he mean that after the Tanganyika Government have considered them, he will be prepared to continue negotiations with them?

Of course, we should be very glad to look again if Mr. Nyerere came back to us with new suggestions. In any event, we have said that we would study the development and the phasing of these loans and grants after a reasonable interval.

It could do. The matter that affects Tanganyika most, however, is how she will be able to go ahead with her three-year development plan. Therefore, as the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate, it is not only the amount of the loans and so on that one gives, but the phasing of them in the early years, that is important.



asked the Prime Minister if he will invite the Ruler of Kuwait to London to discuss with him plans for the withdrawal of British forces from Kuwait.

No, Sir. Any discussions with the Ruler can take place through Her Majesty's representative in Kuwait.

Is there not an urgent need to reduce military expenditure overseas? Could not something be done to speed up the withdrawal from Kuwait? Is the Prime Minister aware that the Ruler of Kuwait would be very welcome in the City of London, because he has £300 million invested there and he would be the right man in the right place at the right time?

In regard to the removal of our troops, as the hon. Member knows the forces there have been considerably reduced and, of course, we are urgently seeking ways by which we will be able to make a withdrawal without the threat to Kuwait being increased.

Can the Prime Minister state by how much our forces have been reduced and how many troops remain, in order to clear up the confusion which appears to exist in this matter? Can he also say whether any approach has been received from the Ruler of Kuwait since Kuwait joined the Arab League?

With regard to the first part of that supplementary question, I would rather not state the number of troops which remain. An announcement has, however, been made about some which have been withdrawn. With regard to the second part of the question, we are, of course, in the closest touch with events. For instance, we welcome very much the admission of Kuwait to the Arab League. That may enable us to find a way out.

Is the right hon. Gentleman learning the lesson, which might be of value to some of his supporters, that it is a great deal easier to put troops in than to take them out?

Yes, Sir. We had that experience in Jordan, but we were able to accomplish our task and successfully to make a withdrawal. I hope that it will be the same thing again.

As it is now clear from the statements made by the Minister of Defence and by the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air that the number of our forces is very limited indeed, what is the purpose of retaining them in that area when it is quite impossible for them to deal with any act of aggression?

The right hon. Gentleman rather over-simplifies that question. I would rather leave it where it is.

Ministerial Statements


asked the Prime Minister whether he will arrange for all members of the Government making public statements when Parliament is not sitting to submit them first to him for approval.

European Economic Community


asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to discuss economic conditions for the association of the United Kingdom with the European Common Market at the Commonwealth Finance Ministers' Conference in September: and whether decisions will be taken on these conditions by Her Majesty's Government before that conference.

Relations with the European Economic Community will no doubt be one of the subjects for discussion at this meeting. As regards the second part of the Question, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to await the statement that I intend to make on Monday.

But as this conference is to be held in September, anyway, and it is now the end of July, might it not be wiser for the Government to await the conference before making further decisions on these issues?

I told the House that I intended to make a statement and I propose to do so.

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to a report in The Times today of the warning from the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India that India's export programme will be affected and her loan repayment plans upset if Britain joins the European Economic Community? Would not this have extremely serious consequences for our invisible exports?

I should prefer not to discuss this question. We shall have a statement on Monday and a two-day debate, and it will be better to discuss it then.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will now seek an early personal meeting with President de Gaulle to discuss Great Britain's relations with the Common Market.

I have had several useful meetings in the past with President de Gaulle. I am always glad of an opportunity to meet him.

While accepting that the Prime Minister's remarks are unexceptionable in that respect, may I ask whether he is aware that about three weeks ago, in a speech in Metz, President de Gaulle said that Britain's entry into the Common Market would be welcomed only if it was unconditional? Would the Prime Minister therefore not agree that it would be unforgivable if we were to enter into negotiations with the Common Market, which are bound to impose a dangerous strain on our existing links with the Commonwealth, unless there are real prospects of agreement in the end? In view of that, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he should try to see President de Gaulle as soon as possible to find out whether his speech at Metz represents his final position?

All these matters will be discussed, but I really would prefer not to pursue the point at the moment. I do not think that it would be very wise to do so.

Would the Prime Minister make clear to the House that the Government do not intend to involve themselves in any real commitment, even as to negotiations, until they have consulted the House of Commons and ascertained the views of the House?

I think that all these matters will arise in the course of our discussions next week.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will undertake that, in issuing a White Paper on the measures taken by the parties to the Treaty of Rome in implementation of its articles on common organisation and institution, he will include the declaration on steps towards political unity issued by the Heads of State of the Common Market countries on 18th July.

In reply to Questions on 11 th July, I said, not that I would issue a White Paper, but that I would make available in the Vote Office copies of the Progress Reports issued by the European Commission. This has been done, except for the latest report which is now printing. I am arranging for copies of the Declaration to which the Question refers to be placed in the Library of the House.

While thanking the Prime Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that heads of the Common Market countries have now explicitly stated that they are seeking political unity in order to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider again whether it would be wise for this country to enter into an organisation whose avowed aim is to perpetuate the division of Europe and to intensify the cold war?

Those are points which no doubt the hon. Member will make in debate. I do not think that they arise out of this Question.

Public Expenditure (Control)


asked the Prime Minister what steps he proposes to take, in the light of the recommendations of the Plowden Committee, to secure effective Government machinery for taking collective decisions with regard to the control of public expenditure.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be making a statement at the end of Questions which will be relevant to this matter.

Does not the Prime Minister realise that the Plowden Report amounts to a condemnation of the Government's failure in ten years of Tory rule to plan the economy effectively, and that this failure has produced the present crisis?

Those are matters which no doubt the hon. Member and others will deal with in the two-day debate which we are to have tomorrow and the next day.

But does the right hon. Gentleman remember that when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he pledged himself to cut Government expenditure by £100 million, since when it has gone up by £1,200 million?

I think that I succeeded in my efforts during that period. Of course, Government expenditure is rising. The Plowden Report does not say that it should not rise. It says that it should be related to gross national product.

Hong Kong

Food Parcels


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the figures for food parcels sent from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland during May and June.

The figures for postal packets are 1,389,300 and 1,114,140 respectively.

Can my hon. Friend enlarge at all on those figures and say whether they are more or less than for the previous month? Can he also say Whether the actual parcels are in any way similar to the food parcels which we used to send abroad or used to receive from America?


Sea Fisheries Compensation (Scotland) Act, 1959


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will name the oases, and give the circumstances of each case, where seizure of fishing gear by Her Majesty's fisheries cruisers was not followed by conviction or by prosecution; and if he will state in each case the amount of compensation for loss and damage which was paid under the Sea Fisheries Compensation (Scotland) Act, 1959, or otherwise.

There has been only one case since the Sea Fisheries Cornpensation (Scotland) Act, 1959, became law where seizure of fishing gear by one of my Department's vessels has not been followed by prosecution and conviction. This was the case about which the hon. and learned Member asked me a Question on 18th July when I informed him that I had been advised that there was no liability against the Department and that the claim for compensation had therefore been refused.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this amounts to Star Chamber conduct and is repugnant not only to English law but to Scottish law? Will he see that it does not occur again?

The hon. and learned Member knows very well that the procedures followed have been strictly legal and proper.

Hydro-Electric Schemes


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to receive a report from the Committee on the future of hydro-electric schemes in Scotland; and whether all further developments are to be held up until its conclusions are reached or whether there will be an interim report where schemes are now held up.

I regret that it is not possible at present to say when the Committee's report is likely to be available. I am, however, considering with the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board how its generation requirements over the next few years can best be met.

May we at least have a guarantee that this further development will not be held up until the Committee reports, which I understand is not likely to be this year?

The Committee, for very good reasons, is taking longer to report than I had hoped, but I am considering very carefully with the Hydro-Electric Board its programme for electricity generation.

Private Property (Collection Of Rates)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he received a letter from the Society of Procurators of the Central District of Fifeshire regarding the collection of rates by landlords of private property on behalf of local authorities under the Rating of Small Dwellings House Letting and Rating (Scotland) Act, 1911; what was the nature of his reply; and what action he will take in the matter.

The letter was received on 13th July. It represented that the valuation limits under the Act of 1911, below which house occupiers pay rent and rates together, should not be raised; and further, that amending legislation should be introduced to terminate the collection of rates by owners of small dwelling-houses. The reply, dated 20th July, stated that I do not propose at present to introduce legislation on this subject.

National Finance

Federation Of Rhodesia And Nyasaland (Financial Aid)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his official discussions with Sir Donald Macintyre, Minister of Finance of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, regarding financial aid by Her Majesty's Government to the Federation.

As announced in the official statement on 13th July, the United Kingdom Government have offered a loan of £5 million to the Federal Government for the purchase of United Kingdom goods and services. The loan is to provide funds towards the development programmes of the Federal and South Rhodesian Governments over the next two years.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether, even at this late hour, he will whisper into the Chancellor's ear that we hope that his statement this afternoon will not mean any restriction on aid to under-developed countries?

Does the hon. Gentleman think it fair shares to give a loan of £5 million to the Federation for two years and to restrict Tanganyika, with its much greater poverty, to £3½ million for five years?

Protective Tariffs


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer his estimate of the loss to the Revenue in this financial year of a 50 per cent. reduction, from 1st August, of all United Kingdom protective tariffs.

The estimated yield from the duties charged under the Import Duties Act, 1958, for the current financial year is £155 million of which £103 million is estimated to relate to the period from 1st August to the end of the financial year. The cost of halving all protective tariffs would depend on the extent to which imports increased as a result of such reductions.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced such a cut this afternoon it might actually be worth the cheer which the right hon. and learned Gentleman was given earlier when he entered the Chamber?

Any questions on trade policy are, of course, for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Trade And Commerce

Japanese Trade Fair


asked the President of the Board of Trade, how much money he will be making available for the pro- motion of the official British stand at the forthcoming Japanese Trade Fair in 1962; and when it is proposed that preparations should begin.

It was originally intended that there should be a display of British machine tools at this Fair, mounted by the Board of Trade in collaboration with the Machine Tool Trades Association. On the advice of the Embassy and with the support of the industry, this display will now be staged at a specialised fair at Osaka in the autumn of next year.

My right hon. Friend does not tell us how much money will be spent on this. Is he aware that the British community in Japan is feeling very unhappy about the way the British Government are trying to prepare for this Fair?

The cost to the Government of the machine-tool display will be about £11,000. If any other industries in addition to the machine-tool industry wish to participate in this Fair we shall be very glad to discuss matters with them.