Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1961

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

House Of Commons

Wednesday, 15th November, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

Scotland

Fish Exports (Aberdeen)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to extend the export of Aberdeen-caught fish to Czechoslovakia and other European land-locked 5/9/2007countries; and how successful they have been.

Both the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board are prepared to help merchants to develop an export trade in fish to foreign countries. I am informed, however, that at the present time Aberdeen merchants are experiencing difficulty in obtaining suitable supplies to meet their existing export contracts.

Does the Minister realise that during the last nine months alone Czechoslovakia has imported 900 tons of fish valued at £77,000, besides importing fish from Iceland and Norway, and that the potentialities for Aberdeen and Scotland in general are very great? As negotiations are at present going on between Her Majesty's Board of Trade and Czechoslovakia with a view to enlarging that trade, will he take steps to see that Aberdeen gets a fair share?

I am aware of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, and, of course, we want to encourage the export of fish, but with the best will in the world, unless we can meet our existing contracts, it is very difficult to expand it.

Valuation Appeal Committees

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take power to direct valuation appeal committees, sitting in Scottish island areas, to make special arrangements to ensure that people are not forced to abandon appeals by reason of travel and lodging expenses and other factors of difficulty in those areas.

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend regrets that he would not feel justified in asking Parliament to give him power to direct valuation appeal committees on any aspect of their work.

In view of the fact that 90 per cent, of the appeals in the Western Isles had to be abandoned because of exactly these factors which I have mentioned and that that would not have happened had there been decentralisation of the committees, what steps does the Minister propose to take to ensure, first, that the committees work, and, secondly, that justice is done to the people?

As I said in my Answer, my right hon. Friend does not feel that he would be justified in asking Parliament to give him powers to direct valuation appeal committees; because, from the local knowledge that they have, they would presumably choose a place which is most suited—as, indeed, they are required to do in the original Valuation Act.

Has the Minister no proposals at all to make sure that appeals are in fact heard? When 90 per cent, of the appeals have had to be abandoned, surely some alternative procedure has to be devised of one kind or another in the interests of the working of the Act. In view of the fact that there is a Bill coming before the Scottish Committee in which he can make this provision, why does not he put that into the Bill now?

Fishery Protection (Minch)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has yet sent a reply to Ross and Cromarty County Council about proposals it made last May for fishery protection in the Minch.

Yes, Sir. The county council were informed in August that the question was still under consideration and a letter was sent on 30th October reporting the outcome.

Would the Minister do us the courtesy of telling us what the outcome was?

Will the Minister really press for this reply to be given more precisely to the county council? This is a very serious matter indeed. It affects the small fishermen and crofter fishermen who have virtually no protection in some of their waters.

In short, the answer amounted to an explanation that, in view of the need for economy in Government expenditure, it was not possible at this time to give additional protection.

Pit Closures

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent he proposes to assist local authorities in mining areas to plan schemes of work to absorb men who may be unemployed as a result of pit closures.

My right hon. Friend has no specific proposals on the lines which the hon. Member has in mind. The National Coal Board has advised my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power that alternative work will be available within daily travelling distance of their homes for the great majority of the men affected by the colliery closures which have been announced. For dealing with local employment, the Government will continue to operate the Local Employment Act vigorously.

I did not expect the hon. Gentleman to have any specific proposals, and I should have been surprised if he had, but is he aware that in Ayrshire there may be an unemployment problem in spite of the fact that some men may be absorbed in the new pits? If the Ayrshire County Council or any other local authority puts up useful schemes of work which would benefit the community and give employment, may we be assured that they will have his support?

As I said in my Reply, the Coal Board believes that the great majority of men will have work in nearby collieries. A further factor is that the list of areas in which the provisions of the Local Employment Act can be operated is under regular review.

The hon. Gentleman has missed the point of the question. Even though existing miners may be employed, does he not understand that the closure of the mines will close the opportunity for employment of a large number of youngsters and people coming along? This in itself will create a problem. Will the Government as a whole take that into account and see that something is done about it?

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Fife County Council concerning the future economic prospects of the county, consequent on decisions recently taken by the National Coal Board to close collieries; and what reply he has sent.

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from Fife County Council regarding proposed pit closures in Fife; and what reply he has sent.

My right hon. Friend has received a copy of a resolution approved by Fife County Council, expressing alarm at what is described as

"the inference and suggestions of the Minister of Power concerning the Annual Report of the National Coal Board particularly regarding the Scottish Division".
He has brought it to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power.

Why is not the hon. Gentleman more specific about what the Scottish Office intends to do in these circumstances? Is he aware that two of the major collieries concerned, Rothes Colliery and Bowhill Colliery, are in the West Fife constituency, that more than £12 million has been invested in these pits, and that their closure is imminent? In the circumstances, does he deny the validity of the anxieties of Fife County Council, which itself has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on social investment for these mines? Has he no more specific proposals to advance than are already formulated in the Government's policy?

The question of Rothes Colliery is a matter for the Coal Board, as the hon. Gentleman knows. In regard to the concern about Rothes, it might be useful to re-emphasise the point made by the Prime Minister yesterday, that it was noted some time ago that miners in the numbers originally expected were not moving into the area and, accordingly, the development of the new town at Glenrothes was re-orientated in 1959 to general industrial development linked with overspill from Glasgow. We trust very much that this will assist in the difficulty.

Does not the Minister think that, although his English colleagues have turned down the demand for an inquiry, there is a case for an inquiry by the Scottish Office into the social and economic effects of the closures on local employment and on the finances of local authorities, in view of the fact that what we are witnessing now is the slow annihilation of the coal industry in Scotland?

We are all aware of the circumstances already and an inquiry would not reveal any new facts.

Whereas it might be the responsibility of the Minister of Power in the ultimate to decide whether a colliery shall close or not, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the social and economic consequences of the closures in the various areas of Scotland are the responsibility of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State? Will he undertake to consult his right hon. Friend about the desirability of an inquiry being made into the social and economic effect of the closures on considerable parts of Scotland?

The first point is that the Coal Board is confident that the great majority of men can be re-absorbed. The second point, in regard to any ancillary difficulties, is that we very much hope that it will be possible to meet these under the existing powers.

The Minister's last answer is wholly unsatisfactory. Does not he realise that his statement that miners can be absorbed in other pits is quite wrong, because what happens is that pits which are being operated economically at present become uneconomic as a result of the great influx of men from the closed collieries? Is he aware that a great deal of alarm and despondency have been created among the mining fraternity of Fife, in particular, because of the implications of his right hon. Friend's statement in the House a few weeks ago, that collieries at present working to full capacity are threatened by that statement, and concern is being felt not only by the newest recruits but by the men at the top of the industry? Will he press his right hon. Friend to secure a debate in the House and come clean on this matter?

It is because we are well aware of the anxieties that I have been trying to re-emphasise in my replies that the Coal Board is confident that the very great majority of the men can be reabsorbed into other pits.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the terms of the letter he received from the Presbytery of Ayr on the proposed closure of collieries in Scotland; and what was the nature of his reply.

The letter which my right hon. Friend received at the end of last week from the Presbytery of Ayr enclosed a copy of a resolution which in effect supported the Scottish miners in their call for a public inquiry into the working of the coal industry in Scotland. My right hon. Friend will refer the Presbytery to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) on 13th November.

Can the Minister give a definite assurance to the ministers of the presbytery that there will be no unemployment as a result of these pit closures?

I do not think that I can add to the answers which I gave to previous supplementary questions on this same point.

Orange Juice

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the amount of welfare orange juice issued in Scotland in June and July, 1960, and in the corresponding months of 1961, indicating the percentage reduction in each case.

The estimated numbers of bottles of welfare orange juice issued in June and July, 1960, were 200,000 and 175,000 and in June and July, 1961, 40,000 and 45,000. The reductions between the corresponding months are 80 per cent, and 75 per cent.

Is not this one of the strongest possible condemnations of the harsh attack which the Government have made on the welfare of Scottish children? Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider this disincentive to the use of welfare foods by reducing the price of them to the former figure and thereby help to maintain and sustain the welfare of Scottish children?

The important thing is not the amount of these welfare foods being consumed but whether or not the health of children and expectant and nursing mothers is suffering. We have no evidence that that in fact is so.

Then why do we have a welfare foods scheme at all? Are not the Government virtually abolishing the scheme, and would it not have been at least honest for them to have done it outright instead of doing it in this underhand way?

Roads (Farming Areas)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many miles of unclassified and unadopted roads in upland farming areas will be eligible for grant assistance under the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, 1955, in the present financial year; what mile age will be improved next year; and what sum of money will be made available.

In 1961–62, my right hon. Friend expects to authorise schemes covering about 50 miles of road thereby virtually completing the distribution of the £1 million allocated to Scotland under the Act. The total mileage will be about 370; of this 104 miles have been completed and it is expected that about half the rest will be completed by the end of 1962. My right hon. Friend's proposals for expenditure in 1962–63 will be declared when the Scottish roads Estimate is published next year.

Are not these figures of mileages and sums expended very small compared with the need? Does my hon. Friend agree that, if we want to keep people living in these upland areas, we must be prepared to spend on the small hill roads as well as the trunk roads? Can he say what progress has been made in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and when he expects to authorise any further schemes?

I know that the county council has one or two schemes in mind which it would still like to do, but I think that the stewartry has had 16 schemes approved, which is a substantial proportion of its requirements.

Will my hon. Friend make sure that there are no financial cuts in this very important expenditure?

Storm And Flood Damage, Galloway

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the widespread damage and loss caused throughout Galloway by the storm and floods of 22nd October; and whether he will make a suitable contribution to local funds organised to relieve distress.

My right hon. Friend is aware that some damage and loss did occur in the area, which has since been visited by his engineers. Various forms of remedial works may qualify for Government grant under the appropriate Acts, but, on present information, he does not consider that Government assistance to local relief funds would be justified.

If this storm had struck in Essex or the south of England, would it not have been a major disaster? Is my hon. Friend aware that local funds raised amount to only about one-seventh of the damage suffered by householders in the area, and will he say what assistance is to be given to the county councils to help in repairing roads, piers, breakwaters, bridges and the like?

There has been considerable damage to roads, and a joint inspection has been carried out by the county engineer and an engineer from the Department. The county council has already been informed that the bulk of remedial work will qualify for grants under the Coast Protection Act at the rate of 75 per cent, and the remainder at 50 per cent. of the cost of the work.

Does not the recurrence of these floods in this area show how inadequate are the two miserable flood prevention Acts which the hon. Gentleman supported and would not strengthen at our request?

A8 (Glasgow-Greenock Section)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to authorise the reconstruction of the Glasgow-Greenock section of the A.8 trunk road to provide for a dual carriageway system to meet present and future traffic requirements.

My right hon. Friend has no plans yet for starting any major reconstruction work on this road since others must take priority at present. He has, however, appointed consultants to investigate the practicability of a bypass of Renfrew serving Abbotsinch airfield.

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that there is already considerable congestion on this road and that it is estimated that it is carrying double the traffic for which it was intended? Could the hon. Gentleman arrange for an early check to be made on these figures and make a statement as soon as possible about trying to include this road in the next estimates?

The traffic census of last August showed that there was an overload on this road, but it is building up at considerably below the general average rate. We are fairly confident that by the time the dual carriageway is built, or prior to that, there will not be a serious problem.

New Hospital, Greenock

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to build a new general hospital to serve the needs of the people of Greenock and district in view of the pre sent inadequate facilities and shortage of beds.

The Western Regional Hospital Board is at present working out the precise general hospital needs of the Greenock area. This is the first stage in the planning of the new hospital, and it is too early to say when building will start.

That is a very disappointing reply. Would the Under-Secretary of State care to visit the eye infirmary and the X-ray department in Greenock to see the inadequate and primitive conditions which doctors and patients are obliged to endure? Would the hon. Gentleman ensure that this hospital is included in the ten-year programme about which the Government have made great announcements and which was the excuse for the Health Service cuts this year?

I very much appreciate the hon. Gentleman's invitation, which I shall certainly consider.

Poor-Roll Solicitors

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the decision of poor-roll solicitors in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire to work to rule from 31st December, 1961; and what action he proposes to take to implement the recommendation of the Guthrie Report, published in May, 1960, that legal aid should be extended to cover criminal proceedings.

I understand that in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire applicants for the benefit of the poor's roll are now required to produce affidavits setting forth their circumstances. As regards the second part of the Question, my right hon. Friend is considering the Report of the Guthrie Committee, but he is not yet ready to make a statement about the Committee's recommendations.

Has not the Minister any sense of urgency about this matter? Is he not aware that the whole scheme is likely to break down in Glasgow and Dunbartonshire? Why do we have to get into a state of crisis before the Secretary of State ever does anything? Why cannot he do something in this matter now? He has had the Guthrie Report for about 18 months.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Guthrie Report made it clear that the trouble in Scotland could not be dealt with simply by bringing into force the provisions of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1949. The changes which the Committee recommended will need legislation, and that is still under consideration.

Housing

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the number of local authority houses likely to be built in 1961–62 and 1962–63, respectively.

Present estimates assume the completion of 18,000 houses by Scottish local authorities in 1961–62 and 16,500 in 1962–63.

In view of the housing problem in Scotland, is not the Undersecretary of State ashamed to make such an announcement and to declare that next year he will reduce the expenditure by £1 million? In view of the condition of Scotland's housing problem, is not this scandalous?

The Hon. Gentleman asked a Question which enabled him to get an Answer which enabled him to ask his supplementary question in the way that he did. The figures, of course, which have not been included are those for building by the Scottish Special Housing Association, the development corporations and private builders.

But surely the hon. Gentleman appreciates that the Government's own White Paper includes these organisations in this reduction of £1 million. They are all to be reduced next year.

Would the hon. Gentleman tell us what the figures are for the bodies to which he has just referred? When he has added those figures to the 18,000 which he has mentioned, does the estimate come within even an appreciable extent of Scotland's housing need?

The figures for completions for the last two years and the two succeeding years are 21,600, 21,500, 21,300 and 21,000 to the nearest hundred.

Do not these figures imply that young married couples will still have to wait five years in rooms with their in-laws before they get the chance of a house?

My hon. Friend will have to wait that time before he gets an answer to his question.

In view of the unsatisfactory reply which I did not receive, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Secondary School Courses, Lanarkshire

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of schoolchildren in Lanarkshire allocated to a three years' secondary course has subsequently been re-allocated to a four or five years' course.

In session 1959–60, the latest for which figures are available, 81 pupils, or about 0·5 per cent. of the total number taking three year secondary courses, were transferred to senior secondary courses.

Does not this show how exceedingly difficult it is to get out of this classification once it has been made? Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that the three-year courses in this part of Scotland do not synchronise with the four-year and five-year courses and that if a youngster wishes to continue at school beyond the age of 15 years there is practically nothing that he or she can do but repeat the third-year curriculum of the third-year course? Is not this a very bad situation?

I think that the whole of this matter will come up for further consideration when the report of the Advisory Council on Promotion Procedures is published, and I hope that that will be very shortly.

New Technical School, Motherwell

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the date upon which it is proposed to commence building the new technical school at Motherwell.

No date can be given at present. Accommodation proposals were submitted by the education authority in July and have been discussed with representatives of the authority. As a result of these discussions, the authority is now formulating revised proposals which we are awaiting.

Does the Under-Secretary of State recall that it is more than five years since this decision was taken? In view of the admitted urgency and agreement on both sides of the House about the importance of technical education, does not the hon. Gentleman think that it is very unfortunate, to say the least, that we are still as far back now as we were five years ago?

I hope that we can make progress in this matter, but it is primarily one for the education authority. I believe that, owing to the provision of these facilities at the other four existing colleges in Lanarkshire, the authority did not regard this question as one of high priority.

Minor Offences (Trial)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to ensure that due expedition is shown in hearing the cases of persons charged with minor offences in Scotland.

This is a matter that my right hon. Friend keeps under review in consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and, as the hon. Member knows, the number of sheriffs-substitute and the staffing arrangements for the courts are adjusted from time to time. In addition, courts where business is heavy are given temporary assistance.

The Secretary of State has been keeping this matter so long under review that he seems to have forgotten about it altogether. Does the Under-Secretary of State realise that the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Thomson, recently protested against these unfair delays to the persons charged—they run to about four months—and that the Sheriff of Ayr and Bute recently said that this was a scandalous situation? Could not the hon. Gentleman encourage his right hon Friend to be a little more active and indicate now any steps that could be taken to reduce these delays?

My right hon. Friend certainly has not forgotten about this matter. With regard to Glasgow's difficulties, which have become greater, I think that the recent appointment of an additional sheriff-substitute and provision of new court room facilities should speed things up.

Does the Minister not realise that the right to a speedy trial involves an honoured principle of British law which still applies in Scotland? Will he take a lesson from what is being done in England by the speedy appointment of more judges and ensure that accused persons are not kept confined longer than is necessary and are brought to a speedy trial?

The hon. and learned Member will appreciate that in fixing dates for trials priority is invariably given to those cases in which the accused is in custody because he has been refused bail.

Hospital Services, West Fife

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from general practitioners in West Fife on the future of hospital services in the area; and what reply he has sent.

These representations dealt with several aspects of the planning of the hospital services in the area, which my right hon. Friend has invited the practitioners to pursue with the regional hospital board as the responsible authority.

Is the Minister aware that his reply is most insulting, that medical practitioners only write to a Minister of the Crown when they are seriously concerned, that as a professional body they are not given to exaggeration, that they asked for his intervention because they are desperately concerned about the state of hospital services in West Fife and that they cannot afford to wait 20 years as planned for the new general hospital? Will the hon. Gentleman look into the matter and do something?

My reply certainly was not meant to be insulting, and I apologise if the hon. Member took it that way. The regional hospital board has agreed to meet the board of management to discuss the matter, and at this juncture it would be better to leave it at that.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that nobody in Fife is satisfied with his passing of the buck continually to the regional hospital board, and that it is the view of the general practitioners and the general body of the public in West Fife that it is the function of the Secretary of State to exert pressure on the Government to get more money to give to the regional hospital boards? What is the hon. Gentleman doing in that regard? Furthermore, can he tell me when I will get an answer to the invitation which I issued to him at least two months ago to come with me to Fife to see the deplorable conditions in the Northern Hospital in Dunfermline?

I will certainly consider the hon. Member's invitation again. I must admit that I had forgotten it. It is the second invitation I have had today, so I shall pay more attention to it.

Shipping

Foreign Shipyards (Minister's Visit)

24.

asked the Minister of Transport what conclusions he reached as a result of his tour of foreign shipyards; and if he will make a statement.

I have nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 8th November to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams).

The Minister did not say very much on that occasion. While we all support him in any action he may take to make the British shipping industry more competitive, may I ask whether he gained any information as a result of his visit which was not already known to the British shipping industry? If so, what use is he making of it? Has he put it before both sides of the industry, and what has their reaction been?

I gained information which was not known before. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is in touch with both sides of industry and I am consulting closely with him, because I am certain—without casting any doubts about who has been responsible in the past—that we must get the relationship between management and men better. Another by-product of my tour abroad was that I managed to get quite a number of inquiries here. I have with me a letter from a shipbuilding firm stating that it has now been asked by a Norwegian company to tender for a ship and adding:

"I think their last paragraph about your visit is a very nice tribute and, I am sure, justified."
The last paragraph which is referred to was to the effect that the Norwegian company would put inquiries here which they did not put here before.

Can the Minister answer one simple question within the limit of what he saw? Can he say whether modernisation in those shipyards is more advanced than in Britain?

The best of our yards are equal to their yards, but there are quite a number of yards in this country which are not equal to the best in other countries.

Did my right hon. Friend find the same multiplicity of unions and the same lines of demarcation in yards abroad as exist in this country?

If the Minister is claiming that as a result of his visit to Norway an order is likely to be placed by a Norwegian firm in this country, why does he not go away more frequently?

I am so fond of the right hon. Gentleman that I could not part company from him for too long.

Coastal Shipping

31.

asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has to stop the number of British ships engaged in coastwise shipping from shrinking further; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of the decline in the number of British ships engaged in coastwise shipping. Nevertheless, I do not consider that this situation is such as to call for special measures by the Government at the present time, apart from the provision which has been made for coastal shipping in the Transport Bill at present before the House. I am, however, keeping the position under close review and will continue to do so.

I think that that is an unsatisfactory Answer. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the disastrous contraction in the size of our shipping fleet is having very grave repercussions on, amongst other things, our small ports? Will he not now take steps to see that our coastwise trade is carried only by ships which fly the British flag unless there are reciprocal agreements, and will he in any case take steps to see that the proper manning scales are fulfilled in foreign ships plying round our coasts?

I must say that I have not had any request from the General Council of British Shipping to exclude foreign vessels from the coasting trade. If we were to do this it would be a very serious step indeed.

Is the Minister aware that we on this side of the House, too, share the concern expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne), that coastwise shipping is a necessary part of our transport industry, and that it should be possible for the Minister to decide as a practical matter, if he wants so to do, that certain types of traffic ought to be taken on the sea to relieve our over-congested roads? Is he aware that we need something more than his looking at the matter? Will he make a statement to give us some idea exactly what is going on?

Competition between road, rail and coastwise shipping can be discussed on the Bill which will be introduced next week, that is, the Transport Bill. I am bound to say that in 1960, for the first time in many years, the tonnage of cargoes carried in United Kingdom vessels in the non-coal tramp trades increased.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the coastal shipping people are anything but satisfied with what is now in the Transport Bill, and will he have the courage to stand up and tell the House what is the position? Is he aware that unless we are to get more protection for coastwise shipping I myself at any rate have no intention of voting for the Bill?

In answer to the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, the next time my hon. Friend supports me will be the first time. The answer to the first part of the supplementary question is that we could debate that next week.

In order to encourage the smaller ports, will my right hon. Friend do all he can to improve the communications to those ports, as certainly much more encouragement is needed in that sphere?

I am quite certain that that is a good point, and Lord Rochdale and his Committee are looking at that particular point.

Credit Facilities

32.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will publish a White Paper giving details of the information he has received regarding the credit facilities now being offered by the principal foreign competitors of the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry.

The information which I have received, some of it confidential, demonstrates that the credit facilities offered even within one country vary widely from one transaction to another, depending on the commercial prospects and, in some cases, conditions imposed by the Government. In these circumstances it would be neither appropriate nor helpful to publish a White Paper.

Surely my right hon. Friend is aware of the very strong feeling that this is one of the disadvantages our industry suffers under? The more information he can give to clear this up the more welcome it will be, so that we may know where we stand in our shipping industry.

The difficulty is that if we produce a White Paper we want it to be comprehensive, to show what people abroad are doing. The difficulty is to find a comprehensive picture. The picture we have now got at present in the Ministry is that credit facilities are not necessarily a handicap to our exports.

May I ask the Minister to get a small booklet which was issued by the Federation of British Industries yesterday as a result of a visit made by Sir Norman Kipping and another gentleman to Japan, where they say, on page 15, that

"A Japanese exporter of shipping"—

Order. Verbatim quotations from articles are out of order in Questions.

I am very grateful. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will send it to me, and I will read it, but we are not losing orders to Japan. We are losing orders to Sweden, Germany and Holland, and they do not get credit facilities.

If my right hon. Friend cannot produce a White Paper about credit facilities offered to foreign competitors, could he publish one to show how streamlined trade union representation works to the advantage of both the workers and industry?

I think the best thing I can try to do is to get this industry efficient as soon as we can without attributing blame to anybody.

Why should the Minister regard as confidential information he has received while overseas in connection with credit facilities furnished by financiers and shipbuilders to enable them to build British ships? Is it not very important that we should know all the facts so that we can decide upon a policy of our own? Is he aware that there is nothing confidential about our position in this country? Why should he be confidential about the position elsewhere?

If people give me information confidentially I intend to treat it confidentially and not to publish memoires.

Roads

50 Mph Speed Limit

25.

asked the Minister of Transport the total mileage of roads under a 50 m.p.h. speed limit; how many miles of this type of road were previously subject to a 40 m.p.h. speed limit; and how many were previously derestricted.

None, Sir. But on 15 weekends during the summer a speed limit of 50 m.p.h. was imposed experimentally on 750 miles of trunk road. All these roads were previously unrestricted. The experiment ended on 17th September and its results are now being studied.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the imposition of an overall speed limit prevents accidents? Is it not a fact that at one time of the day it might be safe to drive at 50 m.p.h. but that at another time it might be extremely dangerous? Is it not wise to try to prevent the imposition of speed limits wherever possible?

I do not think I would disagree with the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. Our experience with this type of experiment is that last year we found a substantial drop in the number of accidents as a consequence of it. This year, we think that the same picture is likely to be repeated, but we are awaiting the results of the experiment.

Wales

28.

asked the Minister of Transport the total expenditure from Exchequer funds on the new road construction and major improvements in Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire, Brecknockshire, Pembrokeshire and Monmouthshire in the five years ended 31st March last.

Despite what has been done, is there not evidence that the new works have not been commensurate with the tremendous industrial growth of the region?

I would not agree on that. We have been doing a great deal of work in Wales. Over the next six or seven years, we plan to spend an additional £50 million, which will include the Severn Bridge. Wales will, of course, receive the terminations of the London to South Wales and the Birmingham to South Wales motorways. We have not being doing too badly.

Is it not clear that the comparatively small amount which has been spent in comparison with the expanding industrial needs will mean that if there is closure of passenger railway lines in Monmouthshire there is every danger of industry in Monmouthshire choking itself on its own roads?

Industrial Association Of Wales And Monmouthshire (Report)

30.

asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the comprehensive report on future highway requirements in South Wales and Monmouthshire prepared for the Industrial Association of Wales and Monmouthshire, a copy of which has been sent to him: and what plans he has for road development in that area.

57.

asked the Minister of Transport if he has studied the report prepared by the Industrial Association of Wales and Monmouthshire, a copy of which has been supplied to his Department; and what reply he has made to the Association.

This is a valuable Report and I congratulate the Industrial Association of Wales and Monmouthshire on its initiative. It is useful to my Department to have independent reports like this. I am studying its proposals and hope to make a further statement before long. In the meantime I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a note of my plans for highway improvements in the area.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that that is not a fully satisfactory reply? Has he noticed that this comprehensive report points out that already half the trunk roads in South Wales are overloaded and that the position is likely to get considerably worse in the future? As Wales has been rather the Cinderella of our road programme in the past, does my right hon. Friend not agree that it should be given greater priority in future road plans?

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend. It grieves me, but I cannot, because during the next six to seven years the programme of work in Wales and on the Severn Bridge will amount to more than £50 million worth, not far short of the report's recommendations.

Will my right hon. Friend note that some of the work for which he gives credit in Wales is work really in the Midlands? He attributes the Birmingham motorway as a benefit to Wales. Well, it may be, remotely, but will my right hon. Friend consider what actually is being done in the Principality?

Does the Minister think that the possible closure of the railway train services in Monmouthshire will not accentuate the very serious road shortage which we already have in that area?

Following is the note:

Highway Improvements In Wales And Monmouthshire

1. I propose to carry the London-South Wales Motorway from the Welsh end of the Severn Bridge westwards to form a by-pass of Newport.

2. The main trunk road improvements I have planned in South Wales are:

  • (a) The coast road (A.48) from the end of the Newport By-Pass to North of Swansea;
  • (b) the Heads of the Valleys Road;
  • (c) the road from Ross to Newport;
  • (d) the Taff Vale Road from Cardiff to Abercynon.
  • All except ( b) will be brought up to two-lane dual carriageway standards.

    Some lengths of the coast road have already been improved and other lengths—notably the Port Talbot By-Pass—are due for an early start. Work is under way on parts of the Heads of the Valleys Road and more is due to start very soon. Work has also started on the improvement of part of the Ross-Newport road.

    3. The classified road improvements in South Wales and Monmouthshire include the Swansea East Side Approach Road, the bulk of which is now completed, and the Newport Second Bridge.

    37.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been drawn to the comprehensive report on highway requirements in Monmouthshire prepared for the Industrial Association of Wales and Monmouthshire, a copy of which has been sent to him; whether he is aware that the Pontypool-Newport road is now carrying more than twice its designed capacity; and whether he will order an enquiry into the effects of closures of railway passenger lines in Monmouthshire upon traffic volume on the Pontypool-Newport road.

    Yes, Sir. I am aware that this trunk road is carrying twice its designed capacity. I am now considering the recent recommendation of the Transport Users' Consultative Committee that the proposals to withdraw passenger services on the Eastern and Western Valley railway lines should be agreed. The Committee's report takes account of road traffic conditions and I do not think another inquiry at this stage would serve any useful purpose.

    In view of the fact that the Industrial Association's comments have been published since the Consultative Committee met, may I ask the Minister whether he will give an assurance that, bearing in mind that 15,000 units a day use this Pontypool—Newport road, he will not take action which will throw all the people hitherto using the passenger service on to a heavily overloaded road of this character?

    I cannot give an assurance of that sort until I have examined in detail the evidence put before the Consultative Committee.

    Is the Minister aware that conditions on this road have to be seen to be believed? Therefore, will he go and see them? Does he not recognise that it would be absolutely shocking if he were to agree to the British Transport Commission's proposal for stopping the passenger services before there had been a really radical effort to deal with the whole road problem in the area?

    I do not think that any decision should be arrived at before the evidence has been examined.

    Will the Minister not have another look at this type of thing? He will be aware that a Select Committee of the House, when considering this question last year, asked the Government to accept some social responsibility as distinct from the profit-and-loss account which the Transport Commission has to consider when it closes branch lines? Will the Minister not give some directive, irrespective of what will be proposed in the new Bill, with a view to keeping these social amenities still available to the public?

    I was asked for my comments on this case. Obviously it is impossible to give a decision until the evidence laid before the Consultative Committee has been seen by me.

    When does the Minister expect to complete his study of the Transport Users' Consultative Committee's report?

    Temporary Flyovers

    34.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether in order to prevent traffic congestion he will, as a temporary measure, erect pre-fabricated steel bridges to carry traffic at points such as the crossing of A.5 and A.41 on the North Circular Road.

    We are studying various possible sites for temporary flyovers including some in the London area.

    We are about to publish our proposals for a permanent flyover at Brent Cross. A temporary flyover there would have too short a life to be worth while. Consulting engineers are investigating the situation at the A.5 junction.

    Many people will be pleased to hear that news. Would my hon. Friend say on general principle that these temporary steel prefabricated bridges have been a great help, not only at Knightsbridge but in other parts of the country?

    Yes, indeed, not only at Knightsbridge, but also the excellent example put up in Birmingham recently. We do not rule out the possibility of having temporary flyovers where the ground is suitable for them. I only say that they should really be suitable for the sites and have a reasonably long life, otherwise the money is wasted.

    M1

    40.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he will authorise the extension of aluminium slotted screening between the carriageways to the entire length of the M.1.

    No, Sir. Although this experimental screen gives protection against glare from approaching headlights, there is no indication that its presence has, in fact, helped to reduce accidents. It may encourage drivers not to dip their headlights, thus increasing danger and discomfort from dazzle in the driving mirror from the lights of following vehicles. The screen is definitely not adequate as a crash barrier.

    Would my right hon. Friend not agree that this antidazzle barrier should be erected throughout the length of the carriageway? It certainly acts as a wind-break. Only the other day a lorry overturned on the M.1. Will he not look into the matter again? Would he not agree that the cost is well worth while even if only a few lives are saved each year?

    There is a committee which sits continually to consider safety on the M.1, and we have members of the Road Research Laboratory on it. They are not satisfied that what my hon. and gallant Friend asks for is justified at present.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people like myself who use this road fairly frequently, including the other day when the lorry overturned, find it quite invaluable to have this light barrier down the middle of the road? I notice particularly that where the barrier stops is the place where the dazzle starts again.

    This road is being observed almost daily by the Road Research Laboratory and my engineers. If my hon. Friend has any evidence to offer to them I will certainly see that it is sent.

    Junction, Harrow (Traffic Lights)

    41.

    asked the Minister of Transport when he will announce the plans for a new traffic control system at the junction of Alexandra Avenue and Northolt Road, Harrow.

    An improved layout for this junction, including traffic signals, has now been approved. I understand that the highway authority is now obtaining estimates of cost and hopes to proceed quickly with the scheme.

    While thanking my hon. Friend for his comments, may I ask whether he realises that plans for this road junction were first produced ten years ago? Is he aware that from personal experience I can tell him that it is impossible to join the main stream of traffic at this junction except by shutting one's eyes tight and accelerating?

    I would not advise my hon. Friend to do that. We certainly are aware of the difficulties at this place. That is Why we are getting on with this work, and it is a poor heart that never rejoices.

    West Auckland By-Pass

    44.

    asked the Minister of Transport if in view of the unemployment in South-West Durham, he will authorise the early construction of that part of the West Auckland by-pass which will improve access to the new Fielden Bridge industrial site at St Helen's, Auckland.

    This by-pass would be on a classified road for which the Durham County Council is the highway authority. It has not as yet proposed its inclusion in the road programme. Until it does so we cannot consider it for inclusion.

    Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the shortage of money for this purpose? Could he not make money available so that several things could be done at once, 100 acres of industrial development laid out, unemployment in the area relieved, and everybody satisfied?

    The hon. Member has not followed my original Answer. I said that until the Durham County Council puts forward a proposal for this road, which is one of its roads, we cannot consider it for inclusion in the county council's programme. The ball is in the council's court. When the council eventually brings its proposal forward we will try to do what we can.

    Railways

    Parcels And Goods Service, North-Eastern Region

    26.

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to investigate the railway parcels and goods service and make a report to him.

    No, Sir. This is not an appropriate subject for a general direction. Users who are dissatisfied with the Commission's services can make representations to the transport users' consultative committees.

    Is the Minister not aware that users who are dissatisfied have been making representations in the North-Eastern Region for at least the past four years without getting any improvement in the services? Does he not know that British Railways in that region are facing great difficulty about staff, and so on, which is interfering with the efficient working of the service and that they cannot possibly get better staff unless better wages are paid? Why does not the Minister do something about that if he will not have an inquiry?

    The question of wages is another subject. The Commission has said that in the three months ending 30th September the North-Eastern Region handled many hundreds of thousands of parcels but only 34 complaints of delays were received.

    In such cases of delay, is it not useful to take up the matter with the general manager of the region concerned, from whom one might get more satisfaction than from any committee?

    When there have been only 34 complaints from handling hundreds of thousands of parcels, it is straining one's imagination too much to believe that the service in the North-Eastern Region is inefficient.

    Severn Tunnel (Incident)

    36.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of public concern, following upon a recent outbreak of fire in a diesel engine travelling through the Severn Tunnel, with the existing safety system used in the tunnel; what action he is taking to investigate the present safety arrangements; and if he will make a statement.

    Yes, Sir. I am aware that some concern has been expressed in the Press about this incident. It has already been investigated by the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways and he is following up certain points, but in general the present safety arrangements are considered satisfactory.

    Is it not a fact that instead of the tell-tale wire, which when cut communicates itself to the signal box on the other side, being cut, unfortunately the telephone communication wire was cut, with the consequence that there was no possibility of communication from the broken-down train with the outside of the tunnel? If that was the case, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that some action will be taken to protect the telephone wire so that there will be no possibility of a recurrence of such an incident? Will he also tell the House whether he is prepared to give proper instruction to all those who act as guards in the tunnel?

    They already have instruction. On one side of the tunnel is a telephone wire. On the other side is a tell-tale wire which when broken sends an alarm to the signal box. On this occasion the guard made a mistake. He cut the telephone wire instead of the telltale wire. This is one of those human things which occur. Generally speaking, anyone who goes through the tunnel is trained and instructed on which side of the tunnel the tell-tale wire is located.

    Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not saying that this is only a matter of human frailty. What steps has he taken to prevent a recurrence, such as replacing the tell-tale wire? How does he distinguish between one wire and the other? This is a most unsatisfactory reply.

    The distinction between the telephone wire and the tell-tale wire is that the telephone wire is on the one side of the tunnel and the tell-tale wire is on the other.

    Catering Establishments

    42.

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to examine the advantages of reducing the prices in the catering establishments of British Railways, in view of the success attending experiments of this nature.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of these experiments concerned a group of railway employees who took over a refreshment room which was not paying and made it pay by reducing prices? Would he take notice of the talent that resides in railway employees and when he makes appointments to the Transport Commission look to that source?

    Certainly, but I should like to have more information on how much voluntary work is provided there.

    British Transport Commission (Surveys And Work Studies)

    43.

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to ensure that full consultation with local trade union branches takes place before work study schemes and works surveys are begun in British Transport Commission establishments.

    I understand from the British Transport Commission that preliminary surveys and work study schemes are introduced only after consultation with the appropriate trade union representatives.

    Would the right hon. Gentleman see that this thing really works? Is he not aware that before any of these schemes can be successful there must be trade union consultation and (that most trade unionists are reasonable people and if consulted will help to get the schemes established?

    I am glad to hear that, and I am certain that it is true. I quite agree that work study must be extended on British Railways in co-operation with trade unionists.

    Transport

    Road Vehicles (Noise)

    27.

    asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is now taking to prevent excessive noise from the engines of all types of vehicles using the roads.

    We are preparing new regulations based on the British Standard for a method of measurement, which was issued last month; on the proposed British Standard for sound level meters; on the results of tests on the actual noise emitted by vehicles; and the effect of various levels of sound on the hearers. I cannot yet say when the work in this complex field will be completed.

    Does my hon. Friend agree that while only a minority of road users make this noise, they should be dealt with severely and as soon as possible?

    That is exactly why we are pressing on as quickly as we can with the proposed new regulations. I do not, however, want to hold out any hopes that we will be able to act all that quickly, because, as I have said, this is a complex matter.

    Exhaust Purifiers

    29.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he has made arrangements for the test of the latest United States lorry exhaust purifier; and what plans he has for dealing with this problem in England and Wales.

    I understand that the United States authorities are urging on American motor manufacturers certain devices to prevent the escape from the crankcase of unburned hydro-carbons which leak past the pistons. It may be that it is these that my hon. Friend has in mind. They do nothing to purify or suppress exhaust fumes, and have in fact been fitted to most petrol engined vehicles manufactured in this country since the nineteen-thirties. It is more difficult to adapt them to diesel engined vehicles, and fewer are so fitted. The police and our technical officers do all they can to enforce the existing law throughout the country; new regulations to prohibit the use of the excess fuel device while vehicles are in motion come into effect on 1st January next.

    Trafficators

    38.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he is satisfied that the existing practice with regard to the location of trafficator lights on motor vehicles is satisfactory; and if he will now make a statement.

    Positional limits for the fitting of trafficators laid down in Regulations are necessarily fairly wide because of the number of different kinds of vehicle to which they are fitted. We have no evidence that manufacturers fit indicators in positions in which they are not adequately visible to other road users.

    Is my hon. Friend aware that it is not that they are not adequately visible? It is that they are very much too visible on occasions. There are many motor cars one meets in London whose trafficator lights are a positive menace and a nuisance, especially on dark and rainy nights? Would my hon. Friend not have a look at the matter to see whether he cannot make recommendations to motor manufacturers about it?

    I answered my hon. Friend's Question, which referred to the location of trafficator lights and not their brilliance. I will look into the point, but I should add, for the benefit of the House, that we have already done a great deal of work on the subject of the brilliance of trafficator lights and that we hope to announce a decision very soon.

    Driving Licences (Eyesight Tests)

    39.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that all persons aged 60 years and over undergo an eyesight test on applying for renewal of a driving licence.

    At the beginning of every driving test a candidate is asked to read a number plate at a distance of 25 yards; if he cannot do so the test is cancelled. Drivers seeking renewal of their driving licences must declare whether they can read a motor car number plate 25 yards away. Licensing authorities refuse a licence application or revoke an existing licence if they become aware that a driver's eyesight does not reach that standard. I do not think that further legislation is required.

    Ballot For Notices Of Motions

    Gypsies

    I beg to give notice that on Friday, 1st December, I shall call attention to the tragic situation of gypsies and other travellers in England and Wales, and move a Resolution.

    Civil Defence

    I beg to give notice that on Friday, 1st December, I shall call attention to the failure of Her Majesty's Government, in their Civil Defence plans, to provide for any real protection for the civil population in the event of war, and move a Resolution.

    Overseas Information Services

    I beg to give notice that on Friday, 1st December, I shall call attention to the need to increase the effectivenes of the Overseas Information Services, and move a Resolution.

    Bill Presented

    Army Reserve

    Bill to make further provision with respect to reserves for the regular army, presented by Mr. John Profumo; supported by Mr. Harold Watkinson and Mr. John Hare; read the First time; to be read a Second time Tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 16.]

    Orders Of The Day

    Expiring Laws Continuance Money

    Resolution reported,

    That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to continue certain expiring laws, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of such expenses as may be occasioned by the continuance until the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and sixty-three, of the Rent of Furnished Houses Control (Scotland) Act, 1943, the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946, and Part 11 of the Licensing Act, 1953, being expenses which under any Act are to be provided out of such moneys.

    Resolution agreed to.

    Expiring Laws Continuance Bill

    Considered in Committee.

    [Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

    Clauses 1 and 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Schedule—(Acts Continued)

    3.33 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 7 and 8.

    Some of my hon. Friends and I have tabled this Amendment for the usual reason, so that we may have a discussion on the Bill in Committee when hon. Members can raise a variety of issues. Every year there is usually a discussion of the Home Office policy about aliens, and we think it essential that this tradition should be maintained, because the whole way in which the aliens law is operated makes it all the more necessary for the House of Commons to be vigilant about how the Home Office is exercising its powers.

    I do not propose to discuss in detail the general principles underlying the provisions of the law. That subject has been discussed on previous occasions. However, I dare say that many other hon. Members may wish to discuss the general issue during this debate.

    One principle which, as I understand it, governs the manner in which the Home Office conducts its affairs is that, if it does not want to, it does not have to give any reasons at all why it has refused a visa to somebody who wishes to come to this country. Nevertheless, in some cases the Home Office is prepared to give reasons to Members of Parliament who make representations, and is sometimes prepared to give explanations to the House of Commons. I repeat that, under the law, it need give no explanations. I trust that the Government will be able to give us an explanation today of the cases which we shall raise.

    I am sorry that the Home Secretary is not here to participate in the debate. This is the main occasion during the year when we discuss the manner in which he exercises his responsibility towards aliens and his personal responsibility for the decisions which are taken. I should have thought that the Home Secretary should have attended the debate, particularly as he has shed some of his responsibilities in the Government's latest reshuffle. I should have thought that one of the reasons why the Prime Minister has carried through a reshuffle—there may be other very good reasons for the changes—was to enable the Home Secretary to give closer attention to the affairs of his own Department and longer explanations of his activities to the House of Commons.

    I do not say this out of any disrespect to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Minister of State, but the Home Secretary himself ought to have been here, particularly as we shall be discussing decisions for which he is personally responsible. It is very difficult for the Minister of State to explain why the Home Secretary has made decisions. All that the hon. and learned Gentleman can do is merely defend the decisions which have been taken; he cannot respond to the pressures exerted by or proposals made from various parts of the Committee.

    It ought to be accepted as regular practice by every Government that the Home Secretary himself should be present when we discuss this Measure each year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is the Home Secretary?"] We hope that the right hon. Gentleman will come along later. Even so, I think that he should have been here at the beginning of the debate. From what we read in the newspapers, he may have some detailed concern with the efforts to get us into the Common Market. I do not know what will happen to the aliens law when we get into the Common Market. I imagine that he will have considerable difficulties in working it out. I emphasise that the Home Secretary should always be here on these occasions to explain the decisions in certain cases which he has taken over a period.

    I shall refer particularly to cases which concern the long-standing tradition of this country that we should exercise our aliens law in a liberal manner and that people who have political reasons for wishing to come here, on grounds of political asylum or other political reasons, should be allowed to do so. I include people who wish to come to this country or to stay in this country to advocate certain political views. I wish to refer to that principle and the application of it in a few particular cases.

    I do not need to argue at length on the issue of principle itself, because the Minister of State, in the debate on 13th June, referring to the case of Captain Galvao—to which I shall return later—stated the principle in terms with which I hope every hon. Member would agree. He thanked me on that occasion for having initiated the debate on Captain Galvao—I hope that I shall get similar thanks from him today—and said:
    "… it gives me an opportunity to affirm yet again our traditional policy of granting asylum to political refugees and of allowing foreigners who are in this country to express themselves as freely as British subjects may."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th June, 1961; Vol. 642, c. 387.]
    That is a very good declaration of principle. There are some people who argue that, although we should allow persons to come into this country who may have strange political views, or what some may consider to be strange political views, once they get here we should expect them to keep their mouths shut. I do not believe that that is the principle on which our liberal practice should be based. Therefore, I take my stand on the principle which was initiated at the beginning of the debate on 13th June by the Minister of State, although, later in the debate, he went on to say that, while agreeing to the principle, he was not going to carry it out.

    The first case I wish to raise is that of Mr. Ralph Schoenman, who has lived in this country for a considerable period and has been told by the Home Office that he must clear out. Many representations have been made to the Government to reverse their decision. The Government have not clearly explained why they are taking this action. It cannot be argued that Mr. Schoenman is a burden on public funds, or something of that sort. In any case, I would not regard that as being an excuse for removing a person from the country or for refusing a visa to stay. Nevertheless, that argument cannot be used about him, because he has an occupation in this country, and is earning his own living as an American citizen. It would be perfectly proper for the Government to let him stay.

    The suspicion is, of course, that the Government are demanding his removal because he has been engaged in activities connected with nuclear disarmament. That suspicion is bound to remain—I think that it will remain whatever excuses the Government may give—but if it is the real reason for their action, then it is an improper one, and I hope that the Government will listen to representations made in the Committee today and to the others that have been made outside the House of Commons, change their mind and allow Mr. Schoenman to stay.

    It so happens that the civil disobedience activities with which he has been occasionally concerned are run by a body with which I disagree, but that makes no difference to the argument. If one looks at the record of Anglo-American relations over the centuries, one sees that many of the freedoms in both countries were built up by people who were exiled from one country to another. Indeed, we probably would not have the Anglo-American alliance today had it not been for Tom Paine, who went to America and stirred up trouble there. The British Government kicked him out when he returned to this country.

    If the same principles which the Government are applying to Mr. Schoenman—who has stirred up far less trouble here—had been applied to Tom Paine, then Paine would not have been allowed to stay in the United States—and many people over there thought at the time that he was causing a great deal of trouble. But the views Paine advocated later became generally accepted as being wise. Indeed, the very term "United States of America" was first invented by him.

    Our aliens law should be designed not only to allow people to come here if they have differing views, but designed to tolerate people with the most heretical views, because very often those views prove to be the wisest a little later. I hope, therefore, that the Government will reconsider the question. I do not want to press the argument now, because I hope that the Minister of State will be able to say that the Government have reconsidered the matter and are prepared, in this case, to abide by the best traditions of the country.

    I want now to come to the other case, which we raised on 13th June and also at Question Time last Thursday—the case of Captain Galvao. I shall not say a great deal about the manner in which Captain Galvao was treated at London Airport when he came here a week or so ago, except possibly to quote what was written in the leading article of the Guardian on 28th October. This said:
    "Portugal's much canvassed position as our oldest ally seems still to entitle Dr. Salazar's régime to carefully considerate treatment as far as the British Government is concerned. It was surely gilding the lily a bit to keep Captain Galvao … under 'technical arrest' for five hours at London Airport on Thursday. If Captain Galvao had had it in mind to ask for political asylum or even for permission to make an extended stay one can see that the Government might have had qualms"—
    I do not agree with the Guardian on that point, but that is its view—
    "though in times when we showed less deference to oldest allies or to tyrannical regimes in general we made no bones about taking in political refugees of all sorts."
    3.45 p.m.

    I would have thought that, whatever the Government's view about the main case for admitting Captain Galvao to this country, they should have taken special precautions to ensure that they treated him with full courtesy when he arrived at London Airport. Last Thursday, the Government's claim that they behaved properly towards him was disproved by what was said by one of my right hon. Friends, who made it clear that the better treatment of Captain Galvao on the second occasion he came here was largely due to the fact that a Labour Member of Parliament was there to see that he got it.

    I want to deal, however, with the more important aspect of Captain Galvao's case—why the Government have refused to allow him to come to this country, why they have refused the visa for which he asked some months ago, and why they persist in their refusal to allow him to come here at present. I shall not recite all the details about Captain Galvao. I mention only, in passing, that the origin of his quarrel with Salazar's Government arose because of his views about Angola.

    When Dr. Salazar was originally established in power, Captain Galvao was one of his supporters, but it was Captain Galvao's visit to Angola, just after the war, when he saw the appalling conditions which prevailed, which chiefly prompted him to become a rebel against the Portuguese régime. Following his return to Portugal and his attempt to report to the Portuguese people what was happening in Angola, he was first sentenced to three years' imprisonment and later to sixteen years. His offence was that he tried to tell the Portuguese people what was happening in Angola.

    One hon. Member opposite complained last Thursday that Captain Galvao was a pirate and that, when he seized the "Santa Maria", someone was killed. In acts of piracy these things do happen, but if Captain Galvao's report about Angola had been properly heeded by the Portuguese authorities in 1947 and 1948, hundreds of thousands of lives in Angola might have been saved. Therefore, the Government should take into account that here we are dealing with a man who, not merely for a matter of months but for the past fourteen or fifteen years, has been trying to rouse the conscience of the people of Portugal and of the world to the perils in Angola.

    Everything Captain Galvao prophesied was proved correct. The horrors did take place and Captain Galvao should at least have the credit of being the man who tried to prevent the terrible things that have occurred. I thought that that would have weighed with Her Majesty's Government. But no. The Government said, "We are not going to give him a visa." When Captain Galvao escaped from prison in Lisbon he got sanctuary in the Argentine Embassy and he has been given sanctuary by the Argentine Government, permitted to stay in Brazil, permitted to go to Sweden to give lectures there, and permitted to go to Norway.

    So we have a situation in which the British Government refuse to take towards Captain Galvao the kind of liberal attitude which is taken by Norway and Sweden—perhaps we would expect Norway and Sweden to be in the highest tradition in these matters—and the Argentine. I am sorry to see the British Government acting in a manner which does not measure up even to the liberal principles of the Argentinian Government. But that is the situation and the Government must answer for it. Why is it that the British Government refuse to take towards Captain Galvao the attitude taken by the Argentinian Government, the Brazilian Government, the Norwegian Government and the Swedish Government?

    What are the Government's excuses? In his various speeches, the Minister of State has used different terms to describe the dangers which he thinks will arise from Captain Galvao's coming to this country. He first said that we must not allow him to come here because he was asking to deliver lectures here. I do not see how anybody can object to someone coming here to deliver lectures. He went on to say that some of those lectures might be inflammatory—adding to his objection—and, furthermore, when he was properly incited about the case, he said that Captain Galvao's purpose in coming here was to advocate insurrection. Apparently that is the Government's main ground for their refusal to allow Captain Galvao to come here.

    It is extremely difficult for any Portuguese citizen who believes in freedom to do anything other than advocate insurrection. There has just been an election in Portugal, in which opposition candidates were not able to stand and were not allowed to issue statements of their case. What is the citizen of Portugal to do? The only proper course for him is to advocate insurrection. He is allowed to go to the Argentine and to give lectures in Sweden and Norway, but in Britain, apparently, it would be too dangerous.

    That is a denial of this country's whole tradition in this respect. I am sorry that the Home Secretary is not here, as I said, because I would have liked to have asked him what course he would recommend to a Portuguese citizen who disagreed with the policy of his own Government. There is no democratic method by which he could make his protest. There is no democratic method by which he could rouse feeling against what is happening in Angola. What ought he to do?

    I wanted to ask the Home Secretary, in particular, because we are told in the newspapers—we have not always seen it in practice—that he is different from what he used to be. I would not have asked what he would recommend about such a question before the war, when he was the rising hope of the pliable, appeasing Tories. But now he has shed that mantle on to the shoulders of the Leader of the House. We would not expect the pre-war Home Secretary to have had any answer about what he would recommend to people who believed in freedom and who were living in a dictatorship.

    But we now have a new, bold, adventurous, modern, up-to-date Home Secretary who is eager to bury his Munich past, and I ask him what he would recommend. What does he think the citizen of Portugal ought to do? Should he be content to leave the situation and say that it is nothing to do with him, or should he not try to rouse other peoples in other parts of the world to recognise what is happening in Portugal, and, if in other parts of the world, why not in this country? Why is it that we are not prepared to permit a man, now regarded in Portugal as one of the bravest fighters for freedom, to set foot on British soil?

    There are other aspects of the matter. What is happening in Angola affects policy throughout the whole of Africa. In all parts of Africa there is deep concern about what is happening in Angola. What does the Home Office believe will be the effect in other parts of Africa of the announcement that Captain Galvao, who had dome his best to prevent the catastrophe in Angola and who is regarded by the people in Angola as one of their foremost champions, is to be excluded from our shores?

    The people in those other parts of Africa will say what is the truth—that the Government are crawling to the Portuguese Government. That belief is confirmed by the admissions which the Home Office has had to make, showing that the whole of this decision about Captain Galvao has been governed by its conversations with the Foreign Office. It is a very serious matter when the Home Office is supposed to take all the responsibility for these exclusions but when the decisions are made by the Foreign Office.

    I ask the Home Office to tell us how many other people have been excluded from this country when the decision has been taken on the recommendation of the Foreign Office. There is no doubt about it in the case of Captain Galvao, for the Minister has admitted more than once that the Home Secretary asked the Foreign Office what it thought about Captain Galvao's admission. Because the Foreign Office said that it would not like it, the Home Office agreed.

    Instead of the Home Office sustaining the traditions of freedom which it is supposed to sustain, decisions have been made in the assumed interests of foreign policy. That is outrageous. This country should be honoured to have Captain Galvao coming to these shores, and I hope that the Home Office will reconsider the whole question and try to wipe out this stain by issuing, as soon as possible, an invitation to Captain Galvao to come here.

    4.0 p.m.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) dealt with two specific cases for most of his speech. I should like to deal rather more generally with the question of the Aliens Order and the legislation under which it has been made in the past.

    The Minister of State knows that we have had these debates as an annual event, in which he and I have taken part, for some time. I assure him that we do not consider them an annual formality and that we still feel as strongly as ever that the way in which the Aliens Order is handled by the House of Commons is entirely wrong. We do not accept the form by which an Order is made which Parliament itself has never considered and which we have never had the opportunity of criticising and which Parliament has never passed. We hope that an opportunity will be taken to get rid of this procedure. Without trespassing on tomorrow's debate, it seems to me that the arrival of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill will put the Government into a ridiculous situation. I shall refer to that later.

    Before coming to such contentious matters, I think that my hon. Friends would like me to tell the Minister of State that we have always found him very helpful and courteous in dealing with individual cases which we have brought to his attention. We would like to thank him and his officials in the Home Office. Having often criticised the procedure under which they work, I should like to say that I have the highest regard for the efficiency and courtesy of the officers of the Immigration Service who have to operate this procedure for which they are not responsible and who, like the Customs officers, who have an equally cumbersome and, I believe, unnecessary job, do it with courtesy, efficiency and tact.

    It may not be inappropriate to say a few words about the many thousands of aliens—the Minister of State will later tell us how many thousands—who permanently live in this country and make a major contribution to the business, science, learning and arts of the United Kingdom. Many of them are playing a notable part in our national life, and many thousands of others are doing jobs which we find it difficult to get United Kingdom citizens to do.

    The Minister knows that the legislation operated by the Ministry of Labour admits to work in this country aliens to do jobs for which British citizens cannot be found. Indeed, there are many activities in this country—agriculture, forestry and many others—which would find themselves in great difficulty if a large number of aliens and other people from overseas were not coming in to do those jobs.

    My hon. Friend referred briefly to what will happen when this country joins the Common Market. No doubt the Minister noted carefully a remark of the Prime Minister in his speech at the Mansion House on Monday night. Referring to the negotiations, he said:
    "We do not yet know whether these will succeed. I trust that they will; I believe that they must."
    The right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends appear to be assuming that very shortly the negotiations will be successfully concluded and that we shall be moving into the Common Market.

    The Minister knows that one of the conditions of the Rome Treaty is that it aims ultimately at the complete mobility of labour, and that the first phase, which might end in 1968 as far as we are concerned, appears to require arrangements not very different from our own, but when that phase has ended citizens of the Common Market countries will be entitled to come here freely to seek jobs and work on a reciprocal basis.

    That is one of the ways in which our entry into the Common Market will make nonsense of the present legislation. Therefore, we ask ourselves why the Minister is asking the House of Commons to perpetuate this antiquated legislation at a time when it is quite plain that very shortly it will have to be changed?

    What consideration is being given in the Minister's Department, as it must be along with other Government Departments, to the effect on our aliens legislation of Britain's entry into the Common Market? What provision will be made in the Aliens Order which will be introduced under the Act of Parliament which we are now extending—if the House agrees to extend it—to deal with the effect of our entry into the Common Market? It seems clear to us that a large part of the present arrangements will have to be scrapped in respect of those countries of Europe with whom we are about to associate ourselves.

    In all these debates my right hon. and hon. Friends have made specific complaints about the red tape and bureaucracy which are applied at ports and airports in the United Kingdom, and the way in which they compare increasingly badly with the formalities in foreign countries, particularly those of Western Europe.

    Last year reference was made to the sheer volume of visitors to the United Kingdom which was causing grave bottlenecks at London Airport, at Dover, and at other points of entry. As the Minister knows, the volume of these visitors is constantly growing, and if he has been again, as he told us last year he had recently been, to specific points of entry, and if he has travelled in Western Europe lately, he will have noticed that the gap between the speed and efficiency with which visitors are handled, for example, at the new French airport of Orly, or in Western Germany, Switzerland, or Italy, compared with the speed and efficiency of the arrangements here, has rapidly widened during the last year.

    What new proposals has the Minister in mind to simplify our antiquated procedure? Has he at last been persuaded to standardise the procedure, and to standardise embarkation and landing cards which aliens are required to fill in, at least with the other countries of Western Europe with whom we are to be associated very soon? Has he finally decided that some of these forms can be dispensed with altogether?

    I want to ask the Minister one or two specific questions about which I have given him notice. Can he say how many aliens are now in this country on a permanent basis, that is to say, those who are now exempt from the requirement to notify the police when they change their place of residence? How many came in during the past year? What are the figures for entry and departure? Incidentally, can he say what the effect has been of the admission of the selected people whom we allowed to come in as a special concession as a result of World Refugee Year? In the debate last year he said that we were to admit over 1,000 of the so-called hard core cases. What difficulties, if any, have resulted from their admission? How many of them are living at the expense of the taxpayer, on National Assistance, and so on? How easy have these people found it to integrate themselves into the normal life of this country?

    On another subject, can he say what extension there has been of arrangements for passport-free travel on a bilateral basis with other countries, and whether any progress has been made in the abolition of the requirement of visas for visitors coming to this country? Can he also say how many aliens have been deported from this country since our last debate on this subject? He will remember that last year he gave us some figures.

    Also, can he tell us the effect of the new exemption from the requirement to register with the police which he announced last year and which was incorporated in the Aliens Order which came into effect on 1st January? Have there been difficulties? Have there been complaints from the police or other authorities, or has that exemption worked smoothly?

    Turning to a minor point, what arrangements have been made to make it easier for aliens coming to this country on a temporary basis—by which I mean visitors and tourists—and bringing their motor cars? How far has the procedure been simplified during the last twelve months?

    In that context, may I ask whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has considered, and if not, whether he will now consider, the possibility that we might extend the system of travelling immigration officers? He is aware that if one goes by train from London to Paris the immigration formalities in the United Kingdom take place at Dover and involve the passengers standing in a long queue. In France, these formalities are conducted on the train.

    At the end of the last Recess, while travelling from Boulogne to Dover on the car ferry, I was interested to note that although the Customs formalities were conducted in Dover, the immigration formalities were being conducted by one of the Minister's officials on the ship. If this can be done on the car ferry, if the immigration officer can, in that case, be on the means of locomotion, why cannot that be extended, and, instead of the immigration officers dealing with long queues in Dover, travel on the train to Victoria and conduct their business there? The Minister may say that this would create an awkward situation for visitors or other people whom the immigration officers decided, between Dover and London, they wanted to deport.

    Some arrangements might have to be made at Victoria to detain those people and send them back on the next train, but the inconvenience would be caused not to the Minister or to his Department or his officers, but to the aliens who were trying to get into this country in some way which was not thought to be right, and it would be a great convenience to the general public if there could be an extension of this system.

    I want to refer to another question which, looking carefully at last year's debate and what was said by one of my hon. Friends and by the then Temporary Chairman, I would have thought was in order, namely, the question of naturalisation procedure. I want to refer to it briefly because I believe it to be relevant to the debate, since naturalisation touches upon the question who is and who is not an alien and, therefore, who is and who is not affected by the procedure laid down in the Bill.

    There are large numbers of refugees and other permanent residents in this country—including some Poles living in my constituency and people of other nationalities living elsewhere—who have been here for many years, who propose to remain here, and who would like to become naturalised, but who tell me that the procedure is long, cumbersome and very expensive. They would like to see it made shorter, cheaper and easier. Will the Minister say a word about that question?

    I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but we cannot discuss naturalisation, which comes under another Act altogether.

    I accept your Ruling, Sir Gordon, but it seems to me that the question of who is and who is not affected by the Aliens Order is very material to this debate. It has been traditional, over a number of years, for this debate to range fairly widely. Last year, the Minister of State made a speech a large part of which was about World Refugee Year. Matters more or less affecting aliens legislation and the Aliens Order have been discussed in these debates in the past.

    I agree that the debate has been wide on this Order, but I do not think that we can discuss another matter altogether.

    With respect, Sir Gordon, we are discussing aliens, and only aliens can become naturalised. Therefore, the question of naturalisation must overlap with this, because someone who becomes naturalised goes outside the scope of the Act which we are renewing, whereas someone who fails to become naturalised remains within its scope. A person's failure to become naturalised means that he is within the category that we are now discussing. I therefore submit that my hon. Friend is in order.

    We are discussing the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, and Amendments to that Act.

    The point made by my right hon. Friend is the point that I was trying to make. Many of the Polish people in my constituency would like to be relieved of the provisions of the Aliens Order which would be introduced on 1st January if the House approves what we are now discussing. They would like to be relieved by becoming British subjects, but they find it difficult, slow and expensive.

    Whatever view the Minister of State, or you, Sir Gordon, may take about the introduction of this matter into the debate, I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will look into it and, if he cannot reply this afternoon, will find some other way of doing so, because it affects many people and it would be in everybody's interest if those people who live and work permanently in this country, and who wish to become British subjects—and if there is no objection to their doing so—could do so more easily.

    Since the year before last, when I spoke in the debate, I have had correspondence about these Orders with the Minister of State. I have sometimes sought to persuade him that in the past there have been unreasonable anomalies between our aliens legislation and our treatment of people from the Commonwealth. I was doing that while in no way seeking to diminish the rights of Commonwealth citizens. The Minister of State's replies have always been in the same vein, and I want to quote two typical examples.

    In Jannuary, 1960, he wrote to me explaining why it was that the provisions applying to Commonwealth citizens could not be applied to aliens. He said:
    "Commonwealth citizens are free from all immigration control not because they have been exempted from the Aliens Order by administrative decision, but because they are not aliens at all and enjoy an entirely different status in the law and tradition of the United Kingdom. They are British subjects and belong to the Commonwealth, and their free right of entry to this country is one of the ties that help to bind the Commonwealth together."
    Last January, in another letter, again in connection with the Bill that we are now discussing, the hon. and learned Gentleman wrote:
    "The fact that we maintain an open door to all British subjects, regardless of race or colour, derives from our unique position as the centre of a multi-racial Commonwealth."
    The hon. and learned Gentleman made a number of other points which, if I am fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye tomorrow, it might be relevant for me to raise then.

    4.15 p.m.

    The point that I am now trying to make is that, as far as I can see, if legislation which is now pending is accepted by the House the distinction will disappear. It will not disappear in the way that I urged on the House and on the Minister of State, by the liberalisation of the aliens legislation, but by extending the narrow and restrictive practices of the aliens legislation to all overseas people—Commonwealth citizens and aliens alike. That is something that we very much deplore.

    If I am fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye then, I shall hope to elaborate that point. The point I am now making is that the distinction between Commonwealth citizens and aliens, about which the Minister of State has spoken with such pride in recent debates, now seems to be disappearing, which is an additional reason for reconsidering what we are being asked to do this afternoon.

    I conclude by reminding the House of the end of the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the new Leader of the House. He finished with some remarks about the difference between the two parties—about the policies advocated by my hon. Friends and myself being about equality whereas the policies advocated by the Conservatives were about opportunity. On this matter our policy is about treating human beings like human beings, wherever they come from and whatever the colour of their skin, whereas Conservative policy, as embodied in successive Aliens Orders and as expressed by the speeches of hon. Members opposite, seems to be about short-sighted, reactionary, and restrictive bureaucracy, insularity, narrow nationalism, and "red tape".

    For those reasons I hope that the Committee will support my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale.

    I feel that I should be slightly cautious about entering this debate, because I know that hon. Members who have taken part in these debates over many years form rather a select band. It may be incautious for a newcomer to enter the debate, and I do so only to make a relatively narrow point.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) is a frequent speaker in these debates. It is not in his capacity as a past tutor of the Leader of the House that I wish to follow him, but because I think it does no harm for somebody on these benches to say, this afternoon, that this sort of temporary legislation for the control of aliens is bad constitutional practice. That has been said very often by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton, and there is no harm in my saying it once more this afternoon.

    Bad constitutional practices often get Governments into messes, and that is the situation in this case. Tomorrow, we are to be invited to consider a new Bill, which I believe to be necessary but which will have the effect, if passed in its present form, of controlling aliens by means of an annually renewable Bill and Commonwealth citizens by means of a Bill of five years' duration. It seems indefensible that the period for aliens should be one year and for Commonwealth citizens five years. For this reason the Government must consider for the first time the necessity for introducing permanent legislation in respect of aliens.

    I appreciate that the present situation is a new one, in respect of which a Government cannot be expected immediately to produce legislation, because of the many changes which are taking place— not least those referred to by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) in regard to the Common Market. This I see, but I think that, because this is bad constitutional practice, it would be only right for my hon. and learned Friend, when replying for the Government, to say that it is their intention not just to prevaricate over any issue. When the European situation has been cleared up the Government should undertake to bring forward permanent legislation.

    If the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley) is claiming the privilege of a maiden speaker in this annual enterprise of ours, I am very happy to pay him the compliments which maiden speakers always deserve. I do it with the greatest sincerity, as the principal point he advanced is the point which I have always considered to be the main point of principle which we ought to examine.

    After all, although the debate has always been allowed to be a wide-ranging administrative debate, it does not really arise in that way. It arises only on the narrow question whether Section I of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, should be continued for a further twelve months. On that peg we hang administrative discussions and particular questions. I entirely agree with the hon. Member that the principal anomaly about which the House should be concerned in this matter is the continuance of this emergency legislation for one year at a time, annually, for now almost forty-five years, with no end of it in sight.

    In 1919, this was intended to be an emergency power to deal with an emergency situation following the First World War. I think that the House would never have been content to give to one Minister of the Crown the absolute power which he has under this legislation had it contemplated that it would go on from year to year for half a century. The House did not think of it in those terms at all. It thought of dealing with an emergency situation by giving the Home Secretary an absolute discretionary power, for which ultimately he was responsible to Parliament, but for a period designed to deal with that emergency.

    When it continued from year to year for three or four years the House was prepared to tolerate that. But when an emergency situation, following the end of the First World War, is still regarded as an emergency situation to be dealt with on an emergency basis sixteen years after the conclusion of the Second World War, I think that the hon. Gentleman is perfectly justified in saying that surely the time has come when this legislation ought to be put upon a permanent basis.

    I admit, and I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman will probably make this point, that the situation in this respect is not as bad as it was a few years ago, because then we did not have the benefit of the Order in Council which set out a number of detailed provisions such as might or might not be incorporated during the Committee stage of the Bill. But that does not alter the question of principle and I ask whether the time has not come when the House should be given an opportunity of adopting a code for the admission, permission to remain, and deportation of aliens on a more permanent basis?

    This view is reinforced by what both of my hon. Friends have said about the Bill which we are to discuss tomorrow. I have no intention whatever of attempting to discuss that Bill now. But it is relevant to point out that the Government themselves say that the principles which they now propose to apply to the admission of British citizens into this country are largely those which we are now applying to the admission of aliens. In this case—rightly, I am not complaining of it—we are to do it by legislation. There will be a Committee stage. I am thankful to acknowledge that the Committee stage will take place on the Floor of the House, so that we may all look at this and try to introduce safeguards, alterations, and modifications such as we should like to introduce, had we the power, into similar legislation dealing with the admission of aliens into this country.

    We are doing this in the Bill to be discussed tomorrow on the basis of legislation. We can deal with questions like the right of appeal; the right of publicity; the right of representation; the right of consultation with witnesses and the right to call evidence in cases where permission to land is refused or, and more important, in cases where deportation is recommended. We can do all that in Committee on the Bill which will be before us tomorrow. Surely the time has come when we ought to have the opportunity to deal with that on the Floor of the House in the case of aliens.

    Let me say a word or two about the situation as it is now. One of the most important matters resulting from giving the Home Secretary these arbitrary powers is the effect on what has always been one of the proudest boasts of Great Britain—our liberal attitude to the problem of political asylum. By this legislation no one in this country, except the Home Secretary himself, has any power to influence or control decisions about political asylum which surely everyone would admit is fundamental to questions of freedom and democratic liberty.

    It is true that the Home Secretary assumes responsibility. If we get the opportunity, we can raise such matters on Adjournment debates, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) in the case of Captain Galvao. We can put down Parliamentary Questions and get Answers, so long as Mr. Speaker thinks that we are not interfering too greatly with the rights of other hon. Members who have Questions on the Order Paper. Once a year we have the opportunity which is presented to us today. But they are ex post facto rights. By the time we have the opportunity to exercise them the question has been decided, and in most cases the person involved is no longer here. Surely we ought to have more than that. Surely in a case such as that of Mr. Schoenman, or Captain Galvao, there ought to be a right of appeal, some third-party judgment.

    They have it in the United States of America. There is no Minister there who has the completely arbitrary powers which the Home Secretary has in these matters. If a man is refused admission, he can appeal and call evidence and make the Government state the reasons for the refusal of permission. Why, in this country, should not rights no less than those be exercisable? How unfortunate it is in these circumstances if this power is not exercised liberally.

    4.30 p.m.

    I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), who paid a compliment to the Minister which I should like to endorse. It is certainly true that if any of us in the House of Commons has a personal case in which we are interested we have the sympathy of the Minister in looking at it. We do not always agree with his decision—very often I do not—nevertheless, we acknowledge his courtesy and sympathy and his worth in looking into a matter and explaining what has happened.

    But that is not enough. There must be many cases which no Member of Parliament ever hears of so that there is never any personal representation. It must be remembered that this is a matter which the House of Commons entrusted to the personal discretion of the Home Secretary of the day and not to the discretion of the Minister of State. Under the law it was the Home Secretary who decided that Mr. Schoenman should not remain here for another twelve months. It was by the Home Secretary's personal decision that Captain Galvao—who did not want to come here at all at the relevant time, but was in transit to Sweden; his plane came here and he had to wait a few hours before he could get his next plane and did not want to leave the airport—should be kept under lock and key in circumstances of the greatest indignity while he was waiting.

    I agree with my hon. Friend that we make nonsense of the responsibility of Parliament if the Minister who is responsible is not here to tell us what happened and why. The Minister of State will do his best, but, assuming that the law has been properly carried out, he will be giving us only hearsay evidence. Only the Home Secretary knows what happened. He personally decides. That, at any rate, is the fiction which we are asked to accept because this is what is laid down by the law.

    It is very difficulty to justify what was done in either of these two cases. There is an antithesis between them. Mr. Schoenman was not allowed to remain here because he believed in non-violent resistance. Captain Galvao was not allowed to enter because he believed in violent resistance. I suppose that the only people whom the Home Secretary will admit are those who do not believe in any resistance at all, the apathetic upon whom the fortunes of the Government depend, those who do not care, those who do not know, those who accept no responsibilities and no obligations, those who are prepared to risk nothing and those who believe nothing which seems important enough to them to take action about it.

    All these harmless, nameless people the Home Secretary will let in, but if one believes something about the threat of mass human suicide or extermination one is an undesirable alien and asylum cannot be granted to him. He cannot even be allowed to remain free in the lounge of London Airport, waiting for an aeroplane to take him somewhere else.

    This is not in accordance with our traditions. The right hon. Gentleman knows that it is not. In the mid-nineteenth century, when so many European nations were struggling for some kind of liberty, a great deal was said about the unity of Germany and of Italy. Today, no one threatens the unity of Italy. Where would the unity of Italy have been if the Home Secretary of that time had taken the same attitude to Garibaldi that the present Home Secretary takes to Captain Galvao? In the dangers, uncertainties and insecurities of our time political asylum has become a complete mockery. It is little more than an instrument in the cold war.

    If Captain Galvao, instead of being a Portuguese rebelling against the murderous tyranny of a Portuguese Government, had been a Hungarian exile who had taken his part with his comrades in the Hungarian revolt a few years ago, he would have been welcomed with open arms. I am not saying that he should not have been—of course he should—but, if we make discriminations on political lines so that we admit to political asylum those with whom we agree, and exclude those with whom we do not agree, that is not the exercise of political asylum as we have always understood it. One great glory of British freedom will have been sacrificed for no advantage of any kind.

    These things need explanation; they need justification. If Captain Galvao was refused permission for some other reason—some more respectable reason, if it exists—I am sure that the Home Secretary would come to the House of Commons this afternoon and tell us what it was. In the case of Mr. Schoenman I suppose that this argument might apply. He might say that if one is an alien and allowed to come into this country one should not make a deliberate practice of disobeying its laws. A case might be made for saying that the position is quite different in that respect between British citizens who refuse to comply with the laws for a certain political purpose and aliens who refuse to do so.

    I think that that would be a very dubious proposition and I would not agree with it, yet I could see that at least an arguable case could be made for such a proposition. But the Home Secretary does not make it. He tells us that this is not his reason for not allowing Mr. Schoenman to stay. If it were his reason we could debate it, we could examine it and at least there would be something to be said for it, but apparently the Home Secretary does not think there is anything to be said for it. He does not think that that is a sufficient explanation. He does not think that would be a justifiable ground, so he assures us in all solemnity that it had nothing whatever to do with it. If it had nothing whatever Ito do with it, what on earth had? Are we not entitled to know?

    After all, Mr. Schoenman was asking very little. He had been here for many years, and he not only assisted Earl Russell in his political or rebellious activities. Earl Russell happens, I suppose, to be one of the most distinguished philosophers in the world who is engaged upon his own work at times when his public conscience does not lead him to take part in other activities for other purposes. Mr. Schoenman is his personal secretary. They are engaged together now on work, quite apart from all these more questionable matters, in which Earl Russell needs this man's assistance. He is not easily replaceable. The work will be finished shortly. He was asking for one year's extension; nothing more.

    If the Home Secretary thinks that the activities of those of us who want to see an end to nuclear insanity will be significantly reduced by the lack of assistance from Mr. Schoenman, he should perhaps think again. Mr. Schoenman's presence will not add much to it and his absence will not take much away from it. If the Home Secretary thinks that his connection with it is irrelevant, then his refusal of permission to stay becomes inexplicable and is certainly unexplained.

    I conclude by repeating what I said at the beginning. Let us re-examine these things. Let us have a Bill to put these matters on a firm basis. Let us introduce into that Bill a right of appeal and a right for a man to make his own case, in public if he likes, for admission or for not being thrown out, or against whatever it is that is being threatened. Let us relieve the Home Secretary of what must be a very burdensome and difficult responsibility. Let him make his decisions in the first place but, like all other decisions where human liberty is concerned, let them be referable from the arbitrary decision of one man in secret to a public tribunal in accordance with the public law of the land.

    I rise so that it should not be thought that some of the views expressed in the course of the debate represent those of the Committee. I feel certain that I am speaking not only for my hon. Friends, but for the vast majority of hon. Members opposite when I say that a great many, although not all, of the things which have been said in the debate are contrary to the wishes of the Committee.

    I am aware, as is every hon. Member, of the great responsibility which is placed upon the Home Secretary in respect of the admission or refusal of admission of aliens, but he must accept that responsibility, and I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who debated the Committee stage of an imaginary Bill to put this provision upon a permanent basis, moving his Amendments in Committee and giving answers to some of them. If there were the Committee stage of such a Bill and he were to move those Amendments, I should most certainly disagree with them.

    The decision whether to admit an alien is not one which can possibly be debated in public before a tribunal, with evidence being given. A great deal of the information is secret. A great deal of the information is private. The matter must be left to the Home Secretary, as it is under the Act of 1919, which we renew every year.

    As some hon. Members have said, it was an Act introduced in a condition of emergency. Unfortunately, the emergency has continued ever since, sometimes a little better, sometimes a little worse. We have a great many aliens in this country, and there are a great many others w ho seek to enter the country. The vast majority of aliens who come here do so for a short time on a holiday. They are welcome and every facility should be given to them to come here. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) that the facilities for checking them should be improved, as they have been in many Continental countries. He mentioned various ways in which that should be done, and I am in entire agreement with him.

    The hon. Member told us of difficulties with the immigration authorities. I hope that he had better luck with his car in the Customs, because the delays at Dover in that respect are a scandal to the administration of this country, when people of whatever nationality endeavour to come to this country or to return to it. He did not tell us about that.

    We have a vast number of aliens here. The great majority of them do very useful work, and we are very pleased to see them, but let us not forget that a very small proportion of them are undesirables and in many cases have been the subject of deportation recommendations made by courts of law. They cannot be returned to their own country because that country is on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and we have to retain them here. We have to be very careful not to allow this sort of person into the country. Once such people are here, if they are undesirables we cannot dispose of than, and they form an undesirable part of the country's population.

    4.45 p.m.

    I disagree with the hon. and learned Gentleman on a question of law with great diffidence, but when I had to administer this law I was never given the advice that any alien was in the position which the hon. and learned Gentleman has just described. When they are here they are liable to deportation not necessarily on the order of the courts, but because the Home Secretary makes an order to deport them.

    The point is that they cannot be returned to their country. They cannot be returned to the country from which they came and of which they are subjects. They represent a small minority.

    This is an important point. I have known American citizens in this country who were the subject of a deportation order made by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, now Lord Chancellor. The United States decided that it did not want them. It managed to persuade Czechoslovakia that they could go there. As far as I know, they were not delivered by steamer to Czechoslovakia, but the position was that if they could get there they were permitted to go, and, in fact, they did go.

    Mr. Doughty