Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 21 February 1962

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

House Of Commons

Wednesday, 21st February, 1962

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Messages From The Queen

Statutory Orders (Special Procedure)

THE VICE-CHAMBERLAIN OF THE HOUSE-HOLD reported Her Majesty's Answer to the address, as follows:

I have received your Address praying that the Provisions of the Statutory Orders ( Special Procedure) Act, 1945, cease to apply to the following Orders under the Public Health Act, 1875, that is to say

  • (A) Any Order made under Section 303 of that Act;
  • (B) Any Order made under paragraph (5) of Section 297 of that Act other than an Order for the repeal, alteration or amendment of an Act confirming a provisional Order made under section 279 of that Act.
  • I will comply with your request.

    Income Tax

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

    I have received your Address praying that the Double Taxation Relief ( Taxes on Income) ( Malta) Order, 1961, be made in the form of the draft laid before your House.

    I will comply with your request.

    New Writ

    For Blackpool, North, in the room of the right honourable Sir Toby Austin Richard William Low, K.C.M.G., C.B.E., D.S.O., T.D., called up to the House of Peers.—[ Mr. Redmayne.]

    Oral Answers To Questions

    China (United Nations Representation)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress Her Majesty's Government have made during the last three months towards securing the admission of the People's Republic of China to a seat on the Council of the United Nations Organisation.

    Chinese representation has not been discussed in the United Nations since 15th December last year. It is unlikely that the subject will be raised again before the next full session of the General Assembly.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the present policy is both irrational and ineffective and that it fails to give the world the settled peace and trade understanding for which it longs? Will he take some steps of a more effective character to achieve those aims?

    I am not clear whether the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary question refers to the policy of the United Nations or that of Her Majesty's Government. What he has said certainly does not apply in the latter case.

    Sudanese Students (Grants)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal how many students from the Sudan received Government grants for technical and university education in Great Britain in 1961.

    In 1961, six British Council scholarships were awarded to Sudanese students for an academic year's training or research in post-graduate studies at institutions of higher education in Britain. In the same year, eleven British Council bursaries were awarded to Sudanese students for short-term visits to the United Kingdom not exceeding six months in duration for technical education and training.

    I thank my hon. Friend for that Answer. First, is he satisfied that these numbers compare favourably with the number of students now going from the Sudan to China and Russia? Secondly, will he consider the point that there is believed to be some money, about £10,000, which is not being used for student bursaries now in a bank in the Sudan?

    I shall be glad to look into my hon. Friend's second point. I am always pleased to hear of any money which is available for these purposes. On his first point, I have not the comparable figures. All the figures which I have given relate only to those receiving Government scholarships. On average, there are between 200 and 300 Sudanese students studying in this country each year.

    United Nations



    asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the United Kingdom's contributions to the United Nations are payable in currency other than the United States dollar; and what consideration was given to the possibility of paying in sterling for the United Nations bonds the Government have undertaken to buy.

    We normally pay as much of our contribution in sterling as the Organisation can use.

    Her Majesty's Government's purchase of United Nations bonds will be made wholly in sterling. Sterling is, of course, fully convertible.



    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government will raise the upper limit on the number of United Nations bonds to be purchased by this country, in view of the fact that $12 million is a smaller fraction of the total issue than our assessed share of the United Nations budget, and in view of the decisions of all the other countries who have announced that they will purchase those bonds to do so on a bigger scale than their share of the budget.

    No, Sir, Her Majesty's Government do not regard voluntary participation in the bond issue as necessarily related to the proportion Members pay towards the regular budget of the Organisation.

    Would the Government reconsider this, particularly in view of the reply which the Lord Privy Seal gave to an earlier Question to the effect that the payment will now be made in sterling, to bring us up to our proportional share? It would mean a comparatively trifling sum, something not much more than £1 million, and might this not have a profound effect on the deliberations of the United States Congress and other assemblies considering how much to buy of the issue?

    In reply to the previous Question, I carefully added that sterling is convertible, and therefore, if this amount of sterling is more than the United Nations needs for its normal requirements or for meeting particular deficits, it might be possible to convert it into dollars and it would, therefore, be a drain on our exchange reserves. The fact that we were the second to answer this appeal and, moreover, the fact that our contribution is still the second largest of the contributions has, I think, helped the American Administration in the Congress.

    In view of the fact that the Government said in answer to a Question last week that they consider this issue to be a once-for-all payment, and in view of the fact that apparently the United States Government take exactly the opposite view, would my right hon. Friend say what is the official United Nations view on this matter?

    I understand that the Resolution which was passed by the United Nations was a once-for-all effort to meet the current deficit of the United Nations while the Organisation puts its finances on a sound footing.

    Since our proposed contribution even at the maximum is less than would be justified on a proportionate basis, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a pretty tawdry effort, and could not the right hon. Gentleman say that he will raise this offer to a minimum figure corresponding to our percentage and will pay it quickly and not wait till the end of 1963?

    No. I cannot differ from the statement we have already made. We are carrying out a voluntary contribution. With our present foreign exchange problems this is, in my view, a generous contribution, and I would have hoped it would have been recognised as such by the right hon. Gentleman.

    Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is not only a generous contribution but in fact goes far beyond what some of us are willing to support? Would he not also agree that a first priority of the United Nations should be to conduct a little bit of self-discipline in gathering in those subscriptions now far overdue?

    General Assembly (Observers)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now come to a conclusion as to the advisability of appointing Members of Parliament as observers to the United Nations General Assembly for three-week periods, in addition to the official delegates, as is done by the Canadian Government.

    Certain problems would arise from adopting this interesting suggestion, but we will continue to keep it in mind.

    Is my hon. Friend aware that this practice has been a great success as carried out by Canada? While recognising the greater economic problem involved here, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he does not think that, in view of this country's increasing responsibility towards the United Nations, it would be invaluable if hon. Members had this opportunity, in addition to those who attend as official delegates?

    Yes, Sir. I agree that it would be of real value to hon. Members who have not had the opportunity of attending these debates to go there. There is the question of cost, which I am sure my hon. Friend realises. I know that the Canadians are able to follow this course—they are much more conveniently situated—and I will continue to keep the matter in mind.

    European Economic Community


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the progress of his negotiations with the European Economic Community.

    Since my statement in answer to Questions on 29th January, officials have continued their work on nil tariffs and Commonwealth questions in preparation for the Ministerial meeting in Brussels tomorrow when, in addition, we shall begin our discussions on agriculture.

    Can the Lord Privy Seal report any progress yet in getting acceptance of any of the requirements put forward by the United Kingdom? Would he agree that the fuller the information that the House has about what is going on, the less danger there is of us being presented with a fait accompli without time to judge it properly?

    The work done so far is largely that of analysing the problems and considering a variety of solutions to them, and the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate the difficulty of giving detailed information to the House so long as that process is continuing. But, as I have said before, I am anxious to do that as soon as possible and I will consider after this Ministerial meeting during the next few days whether it is possible to give a rather fuller statement to the House.

    Will the Lord Privy Seal say whether he intends to publish, as a White Paper or in other appropriate form, the text of the agricultural agreement of the Six and when the House can expect to get it? Secondly, while we understand that there are many difficulties on the economic side, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether there are some pretty frank discussions going on and that Britain's view on the question of the political implications of the Treaty of Rome has been clearly stated?

    I have undertaken to place in the Library a translation of the agricultural agreement arrived at by the members of the European Economic Community as soon as the definitive agreement is published. It has not yet been published, but as soon as it is we will have a translation made and copies will be made available to hon. Members. I have said before that we have been informed of the substance of the documents being considered by the Fouchet Commission and at the appropriate time there will be discussions at which our views can be clearly stated.

    Following the supplementary question of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), can my right hon. Friend assure the House that there is no question of any fait accompli as far as the Government are concerned?

    None whatever, because we are bound by the Resolution of the House of Commons. But I appreciate the desire of the House to have as much information as possible as we proceed.

    In view of the statement reported to have been made by my right hon. Friend to the diplomatic correspondent of the Irish Times, to the effect that there was no question of the negotiations dragging on unless Commonwealth safeguards could be obtained, can my right hon. Friend confirm whether or not he has obtained agreement from the Common Market countries to safeguards provided for the Commonwealth being of a permanent nature and not subject to a time limit?

    The position on that was clearly stated in the Paris speech, as I have told my hon. Friend before. One has to look at both the arrangements during the transitional period and those during the Common Market period. Both of those are covered.

    I am sorry to press the right hon. Gentleman on the publication of the agricultural agreement, but is he aware that it would not be enough for a copy to be placed in the Library, as most hon. Members will want to take it away and study it in detail? Will he make arrangements to have it printed and made available to all hon. Members as quickly as possible? Will he express at the forthcoming meetings in Brussels what I am sure is the almost unanimous disapproval of hon. Members of suggestions that some of our E.F.T.A. colleagues, referred to in the House of Commons Resolution, are to be told that they will not be welcome as associate members if they are neutrals? Will he ensure that the question of political or military neutrality is quite separate from what is supposed to be an economic negotiation?

    The undertaking I gave was that as soon as we received the agricultural documents in the Community languages, we would place the French version in the Library, and as soon as they are translated we will make available to hon. Members the English translation. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of political matters which are separate from the Fouchet Commission to which he referred in his previous question. The position of our E.F.T.A. partners was clearly stated both in the House of Commons Resolution and in my Paris speech. Unless arrangements are made to meet their legitimate requirements, it is not possible for us to enter into an agreement.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent discussions on the association of Commonwealth States in Africa with the Common Market will be held up while current discussions between the Six and the sixteen associated African States are carried on; and if he will make a statement.

    The two sets of discussions are inter-related but it is not possible to say at this stage how the timetable for each will affect the other.

    Will my right hon. Friend make clear that there is no question on the part of the British Government of accepting inferior status for Commonwealth countries in Africa to that enjoyed by ex-French territories?

    As I stated in the Paris speech, we wish to have the opportunity of association for those countries in the British Commonwealth who desire it.

    Would the Lord Privy Seal be a little more precise? Would it not be extremely unfortunate if a policy for uniting Europe had the effect of dividing Africa? Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear that it is the view of Her Majesty's Government that there is nothing in reason, logic or sense why Commonwealth territories in Africa should have any less favourable treatment accorded to them than is being given or is proposed to be accorded to the associated territories of France?

    The plain fact is that Africa is already divided. Sixteen countries associated with the European Economic Community have certain trading arrangements. The countries of the British Commonwealth are excluded from those arrangements at the moment and have different arrangements. Our object is to try to bring the two together. In these negotiations there must be a long process of examination of the characteristics of the trade and economies of the countries involved; all that is part of the negotiations.

    May we not have it made clear that there is no reason why Britain should be expected to make sacrifices in respect of Commonwealth territories in Africa to buy ourselves into the Common Market, if that is the intention, and sacrifices which are not demanded of France and her associated territories?

    We are certainly not regarding the Commonwealth as being asked to make sacrifices so that we can buy ourselves into the European Economic Community. The actual conditions which we and the Commonwealth countries themselves are asking are matters for negotiation.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now received, as a result of negotiations to date with the European Economic Community countries, official intimation from the Six of a desire to modify the Rome Treaty.

    Would it be correct to assume that the Government are now negotiating our entry into the Common Market without seeking any modification of the constitution of the Rome Treaty? If so, would the right hon. Gentleman explain what this would mean by way of constitutional change in the United Kingdom if the Government's application is successful? Would he issue a White Paper on this aspect as well?

    We have to be careful about the use of particular terms in this connection. The hon. Member spoke of "modification" of the Treaty of Rome. That is not being considered. That does not mean to say that adaptations of such things as voting rights, financial arrangements or protocols dealing with special circumstances are excluded. These two things are necessary.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is very grave concern about the apparent acceptance of the Treaty of Rome as it stands and in particular of Article 101, which will give the Commission by a majority vote—not a unanimous decision—the right to direct this House to pass laws in order that the laws of the United Kingdom will correspond with those of the rest of the community? Would not this be an outrageous invasion of our sovereignty? What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to amend this?

    I know the hon. Member's anxieties about some aspects of this, which he never ceases to exploit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am not complaining that he does so. The hon. Member is entitled to do so. Any particular article of the Treaty, of course, must be considered against the whole background of the Treaty. It should be recognised that in this sphere, which is strictly delineated, of activities under the Treaty of Rome, the Commission has certain powers, and the Council of Ministers has certain powers. These are carried through various regulations and directives, each of which has different force in the countries involved. This must be seen against the whole context of the Treaty of Rome.

    To avoid "exploitation" by different hon. Members, would it not be better if the right hon. Gentleman gave the House some definite information? I recognise the difficulties while the negotiations are going on. Is the right hon. Gentleman still of the opinion that he may be able to give the House some definite information on the progress of negotiations before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

    I said that I hoped it might be possible to give a rather fuller statement after the Ministerial meetings tomorrow.

    Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that hon. Members in all parts of the House are showing considerable patience and understanding on some of these questions about which many hon. Members feel deeply? The right hon. Gentleman is carrying on these negotiations, inevitably, against a background of secrecy but, on reconsideration, will he not feel that he went too far in using the word against my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) and talking about "exploiting" this? Is it not right that all hon. Members should be free to express their views and anxieties about the Treaty so that the right hon. Gentleman should better represent the views of the House in negotiations?

    I have always paid tribute to the restraint which the House is showing, and I am anxious to give as much information as possible. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stone-house) is bitterly opposed to the negotiations which I am carrying on. I am entitled to say so, and I do not blame the hon. Member for using any tactics which he thinks right.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the Governments of Commonwealth countries are able, within the machinery of the negotiations now being conducted in Brussels, to make direct representations regarding the safeguarding of the economic interests of underdeveloped countries.

    The negotiations themselves are of course between the United Kingdom and the member Governments of the European Economic Community, but Her Majesty's Government are in continuous consultation with Commonwealth Governments. This is true both of independent Commonwealth countries and the territories of the Commonwealth for whose international relations the United Kingdom are responsible.

    Is it not the case that many of the newly-developing countries, both ex-French as well as ex-British, are concerned that the Common Market may well become a ganging-up of the industrial States against the States producing primary products and raw materials? Is it not also the fact that this must be seen against the background of a change in the terms of the Treaty which has completely wiped out, in terms of higher prices for manufactured goods, any benefit from the so-called economic aid from Europe and the United States? What opportunity is there for these newly-developing countries to represent that point of view directly in the negotiations?

    That is not our view of the development of the European Economic Community and it is not borne out by the facts. Former French territories are in consultation with France and members of the Community. They are holding a meeting about future developments and the form of association, and there they are able to speak frankly and express their views. Similarly, members of the British Commonwealth have given us their views about the matter. The plain fact is that the amount of aid given by the European Economic Community to overseas territories is very large indeed, far larger than we are able to give, and almost as large as that given by the United States.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in the negotiations concerning Great Britain's application to join the Common Market, he will reserve the right of Her Majesty's Government to prohibit export of capital from this country to the countries of the Six in view of the importance of such monetary controls in ensuring full employment and relevant economic planning within the United Kingdom.

    I have nothing to add to what I said on this subject in paragraph 15 of my statement to the European Economic Community on 10th October.

    But will not the provisions in Article 67 make it absolutely impossible for any future administration in the United Kingdom to plan the country's economy? Shall we not be completely powerless to act?

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we approved what he said in Paris on this point, which expressed rather less forcefully but perhaps more elegantly what we on this side said last August? But if the right hon. Gentleman said this, will he recognise that it is a cardinal point of the negotiations and that an export of capital in the early months after Britain's joining, if she does decide to join, could have the most disastrous results on our balance of payments and the future viability of this country?

    Yes, Sir; I remember the right hon. Gentleman raising the point in the debate last July, and I said in Paris that this is one of the matters that we would wish to discuss. We have not yet reached the point, in connection with the Rome Treaty, of discussing the economic union with the Commission, but as soon as we do so I will bear the right hon. Gentleman's point in mind. I expect that he also has in mind the possible consequences of another Labour Government coming to power.

    Fishing Vessel "Red Crusader" (Inquiry)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is yet in a position to make a detailed statement on the course and result of the international commission of inquiry into the "Red Crusader" incident which was due to begin on 21st November, 1961.

    I have nothing to add to my reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman's Question of 29th January.

    Is not that a disgraceful confession of incapacity on the part of the Government and is not this whole transaction another instance of the Government's failure to deal with and protect the British fishing industry? Will the Government look into the matter with a view to seeing that justice is done to the British fishing industry, particularly the Aberdeen fleet?

    I am afraid that I could not accept that description of the position. It is in the hope of ensuring that justice is done that this Commission is taking time with these discussions. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will realise that the matter is sub judice, and that it would be wrong for Her Majesty's Government to press the Commission unduly to hurry its deliberations.

    Disarmament Conference


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government will propose to the United States and French Governments that they should undertake a joint study of the problems of disarmament inspection, with a view to removing the expressed fears of the Soviet Government of espionage, in preparation for the forthcoming Eighteen-Power Disarmament Conference.

    We are already in close consultation with our allies over the preparation of our position for the Eighteen-Power Disarmament Conference, and both France and the United States are taking part in these consultations. The question of inspection naturally takes an important place in these consultations.

    As Soviet fears of espionage constitute the main obstacle to disarmament agreement, is it not possible to work out a system of verification in relation to each agreed measure of disarmament without probing into the remaining armaments which have to be dealt with in subsequent measures of disarmament?

    I entirely agree with the first part of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said—that this is the key to the whole problem. His suggestion is one of several interesting proposals which we are studying very carefully. Indeed, I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and other hon. Members will realise that we must have sufficient to give us a complete element of confidence if these negotiations are to succeed. That is the basis on which any verification procedures can go forward, but we will certainly bear in mind the right hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion.

    Will the hon. Gentleman agree that the pathological dislike of the Russians for inspection by foreigners has lasted for many centuries and is concerned not only with espionage, but is also political and psychological? Would he not agree that it would be worth carefully examining the idea of the spot check, which has been put forward by a Scandinavian expert, so that we might be able to get some reassurance for the Western countries and yet have a scheme which bears some possibility of acceptance by the Russians?

    Yes, I presume that the hon. Member is referring to the suggestion of Dr. Sohn, which is another of the possibilities which we will consider in the total problem. What we have to find is some mode of agreement on this vital question of inspection if we are to make progress in these talks.

    Is there not a danger in the use of the word "inspection" in connection with disarmament or partial disarmament? Would it not be a good thing to get away from that word and to use "verification" of disarmament?

    Yes, I am very happy to refer to it as verification. I agree that it is important that people should be clear about the position to which we are referring.

    Nuclear Tests


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations he had with the Government of the United States of America regarding the use of sites other than Christmas Island, with particular reference to the Marshall Islands, for the testing of nuclear bombs.

    Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government agreed that only Christmas Island would be suitable for a new series of tests.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that that Answer avoids the main part of the Question? Is it not the case that the United States wanted them away from the Marshall Islands because she had been criticised all over the world for the way in which she had abused the mandate for these territories which the United Nations gave her in 1946? If she wants to conduct tests, ought she not to have considered other American Pacifiic territories, such as Johnston Island?

    We were, of course, in the closest consultation with the United States Government throughout consideration of this matter. President Kennedy himself has publicly stated that the United States Government were anxious to maintain the spirit as well as the letter of the trusteeship agreement over the Marshall Islands.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent he has informed the Government of Japan about the decision to agree to nuclear tests on Christmas Island; and what reply has been sent by the Japanese Government.

    The Japanese Ambassador was given a full explanation of Her Majesty's Government's decision to agree to preparations for tests on Christmas Island on 9th February.

    Does not the Lord Privy Seal feel thoroughly ashamed of himself that he had to tell the Japanese Ambassador that a Christian nation was contemplating this barbarous, uncivilised act? Is he aware that the Japanese agree with the hon. Member who questioned the Prime Minister saying that after this they should change the name of Christmas Island and the name of the Pacific Ocean as well? However, will the right hon. Gentleman also tell us how many square miles of water Japanese fishermen will be deprived of during the tests?

    If the hon. Member would like to put down a detailed Question I will give him a detailed Answer.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the nature of the consultations which took place with the United Kingdom's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies before the decision was taken on the resumption of nuclear tests.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the private enterprise shown by Her Majesty's Government in this respect may tend to encourage other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to acquire such weapons, and does he regard that as desirable?

    We keep in touch with our N.A.T.O. allies as closely as possible, but we are not always able to have close consultation about such matters as this.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman, without disclosing the details of such discussions, say whether discussions did, in fact, take place before the decision was taken?

    I cannot say anything about the confidential nature of the N.A.T.O. discussions.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to a test-ban treaty on the basis of the national monitoring of atmospheric and underground tests.

    To be acceptable, any treaty on this subject must provide the essential element of impartial and effective international control.

    As it is now possible to monitor nationally all atmospheric tests and most underground tests, what is the objection to adhering to a nuclear test ban treaty on this basis accompanied by a limited number of on-site inspections?

    I would not accept that it is possible to monitor even all atmospheric tests, and certainly not all underground tests. There is always an element of doubt. Even if we were to accept some arrangement of this kind, there would have to be a basis for on-site inspection. This is one of the points on which we have failed to get any agreement at all. It is a matter on which we have to continue to seek every possible means of finding an accommodation when we renew the talks, as I hope we shall, in March.

    Will the hon. Gentleman give us a White Paper or some other statement about the technological advances which have been made in regard to the detection of both atmospheric and underground tests?

    I should certainly like to look into that and see whether it is possible to do so.

    Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is absolutely vital to remove any impression at all that the West are a little more determined to go on with their tests than they are to get a really valuable agreement on the stopping of tests? Will he look very carefully into this matter in order to ascertain whether over the past few months monitoring has improved to such an extent that the Lord Privy Seal can now put forward new proposals and then make it clear that there will be no tests by the West or the East thereafter?

    Yes, certainly, Sir. I am glad to have the opportunity to make it clear that there is no question whatever about our dragging our feet in this matter. We are most anxious to go ahead and get an agreement. But it is very difficult to get an agreement on any basis we can find which gives us any element of assurance at all. We shall continue to seek this in our talks in Geneva in March. We hope that we shall get further discussions in regard to nuclear testing brought up within the ambit of the general disarmament negotiations, and I hope that this will enable us to solve some question of inspection there.

    Since the hon. Gentleman says that he is not dragging his feet in this matter, may I ask whether the British delegates are going to Geneva clearly to state that if some agreement can be reached about nuclear tests, there is no question whatever about going on with the Christmas Island tests?

    Certainly, if we can reach an effective agreement about a system of international verification and control, there will obviously be no need to carry on with the tests.

    Naval Forces, Baltic (Nato Commander)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal why the British representative on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreed to the appointment of Rear-Admiral Gerhard Wagner as commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation naval forces in the Baltic.

    Appointments of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation subordinate commanders are made by the Supreme Allied Commanders in consultation with the Governments whose forces are concerned. As there are no British Naval forces in the Baltic, the question of British agreement to Admiral Wagner's appointment did not arise.

    Then I do not know how I got the Question on the Order Paper. Does the Lord Privy Seal really believe that the man who was arrested by British troops in 1945 as Hitler's U-Boat Chief of Staff, who helped to sink many British ships, and who at the Doenitz war crimes trial admitted that neutral ships had been sunk without warning where this was of political value to Germany—and others like him—should be appointed to such key positions?

    I have explained our responsibility as far as this appointment is concerned. It is not the responsibility of the Supreme Commander to consult us in this matter. It is not my duty to question how Questions get on to the Order Paper. This commander is himself subordinate to a Danish commander and the Danish commander is in turn subordinate to a British commander who is the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces, Northern Europe.

    France (Nuclear Weapons)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what preparations have been made by the Council of Western European Union, in the light of President de Gaulle's announcement that before the end of next year France will have her first operational atomic unit, to determine the level of nuclear weapon stocks which France shall be permitted to hold on the European continent, in accordance with the revised Brussels Treaty.

    The Council of Western European Union is fully conscious of its responsibilities with regard to Article III of Protocol No. III of the Revised Brussels Treaty. The conditions laid down in the Article for fixing levels of stocks of nuclear weapons and for the simultaneous introduction of controls have, however, not yet been fulfilled. The Treaty provisions have, therefore, not so far entered into effect.

    In the light of that very unsatisfactory reply, does the Lord Privy Seal recall that it was part of the bargain struck in the Paris Agreement that arms control should be on a non-discriminatory basis? If France is to be allowed to evade her obligations, as now seems likely in the light of that reply, how long will it be before Germany does likewise?

    I think that the hon. Member's deduction is completely unjustified. The reason why the Treaty provision has not been carried into effect is that effective production of such weapons on the mainland of Europe has not yet begun. I am surprised that the bon. Member, holding the views he does, thinks that deplorable. The Council of Western European Union has accepted assurances from the French Government that this stage has not yet been reached and that, therefore, the question of control does not yet arise.

    Allied Courts, Germany (Life Sentences)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal how many persons were given life sentences for crimes against humanity by allied courts in Germany; and, of those, how many have since been released.

    I can only answer for tribunals for which there was British responsibility. Of the major war criminals who were given life sentences by the Nuremberg Tribunal, Raeder and Funk were released in 1956 and 1957, respectively, whereas Hess remains in Spandau Prison.

    Twenty-four persons were sentenced to life imprisonment, for crimes against the laws and usages of war, by British military tribunals in the British Zone of Germany. None of these sentences is still being served. No person was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Control Commission—or Military Government—Courts in the British Zone which tried persons charged with crimes against humanity committed against Allied nationals.

    But is it not not a fact that of the ninety-eight sentenced to life imprisonment at Nuremberg in 1949 not one remained in prison five years later, and is not the release and then the return to power of such men, by both the British and the Americans, a very dangerous price to pay for making West Germany our ally in the East-West struggle?

    No. As for the ones Britain was responsible for at the Nuremberg trials, they were released by quadripartite agreement on health grounds. It was purely on this basis that agreement was made and those releases took place.



    asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the present position in the negotiations with the Soviet Union on Berlin.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what new initiative he now proposes to take to solve the Berlin problem.

    Talks are proceeding between the United States Ambassador in Moscow and Mr. Gromyko to try to establish whether a basis for negotiations on Berlin exists or not. We are keeping in close touch with the United States Government about the progress of these talks, and have full confidence in the manner in which they are handling them.

    Have not the Government been dragging their feet over this important issue? Has not Mr. Khrushchev frequently expressed a desire to reopen negotiations? Are we to understand that we are being subordinate to opinions expressed by Dr. Adenaeur and his friends?

    No the Government have not been dragging their feet and are in no way subordinate to other opinions. These talks have been going on between the ambassadors, and Mr. Gromyko has been taking his part in them. It is accepted that this method of negotiation should continue.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it is most deplorable that when the Russians remove the deadline for their agreement with East Germany—they have lifted it—there seems to occur a great lack of urgency in dealing with the Berlin problem? Does not he think it a dangerous incitement to the Russians to re-establish the deadline?

    Although it is right that the deadline has been removed, talks of this kind between the Ambassador and the Foreign Minister in Moscow should continue. While exploration is possible, it is absolutely right it should go on.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this problem is urgent and that he should get it settled as quickly as possible and get negotiations going? Does he have to wait till there is another critical situation?

    The whole basis of the talks which have been carried on by the three Powers in these last few months has been an exploratory one—first of all, between the American Secretary of State and the Soviet Foreign Minister, and then between my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and the Soviet Foreign Minister, and continued by the American Ambassador and the Soviet Foreign Minister in Moscow—to explore the circumstances of the present situation to see what the possibilities are for entering negotiations.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that if the proposed meeting of the three Foreign Ministers takes place in connection with disarmament—as we hope, and with a Summit talk after—steps will be taken to try to make real progress on this Berlin issue, which has obviously been dragging somewhat slowly in the diplomatic talks in Moscow?

    Of course, the main purpose of the three Foreign Secretaries would be to discuss the very important issues of disarmament before the conference which is going to follow, but, naturally, when Foreign Ministers are together in a particular place other subjects may be discussed.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations have been made by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the restricted use of the air corridors to Berlin; and what has been the nature of Her Majesty's Government's reply.

    No representations have been received from the Soviet Government. However, in response to our aide mémoire of 15th February, the Soviet Government addressed a note to Her Majesty's Government on 17th February. This note makes no attempt to justify recent Soviet activities, and makes unwarranted claims about Soviet rights in the air corridors. Her Majesty's Government do not accept any restrictions on their right to fly in the corridors, and will continue to assert their rights. They earnestly hope that the Soviet Government will desist from activities which carry a serious risk of incident.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are very many hon. Members on this side of the House Who would entirely agree with the Government's assertion of Western rights in this respect, but does he not also agree that the facility with which the Soviet Union can whip up a crisis in this regard underlines the urgency of the need to get down to negotiations about the whole question of Berlin?

    I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for the view which he has expressed, which I think is the view of a great number of hon. Members on both sides of the House. We have always wanted particularly to reach an arrangement about access with the Soviet Union. I agree with the hon. Member that what has happened emphasises the need for this. Fortunately, the access has not, in fact, been interrupted, and so far there has been no incident. I hope very much that the Soviet Union will cease provocations of this kind.

    British Honduras


    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on Guatemala's claim on British Honduras.

    I have nothing to add to the statement of Her Majesty's Government's position as given by my right hon. and learned Friend, the then Foreign Secretary, in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs Davison) on 30th March, 1960.

    If there is no question of the transfer of sovereignty in this case, except to the people of British Honduras on independence, can my hon. Friend explain what is the point of the suggested discussions with the Guatemalan Government?

    Certainly there is no question of accepting the validity of the Guatemalan claim here, but we are always ready to discuss informally any constructive proposals which the Guatemalan Government may feel able to make with a view to lowering tensions which have recently prejudiced relations between us.

    Education (Unesco Convention)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal why Her Majesty's Government have not so far ratified the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Convention against Discrimination in Education, passed on 14th December, 1960, and contained in Cmnd. 1613.


    asked the Lord Privy Seal when Her Majesty's Government propose to ratify the Convention against Discrimination in Education adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation on 14th December, 1960.

    Command Paper No. 1613, containing the text of the Convention, was laid before the House on 6th February. Her Majesty's Government intend to accept the Convention as soon as possible.

    I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he pay particular attention to Article 5 of the Convention which draws attention to the importance of education in racial tolerance in our schools and in support of the work of the United Nations, and will he consult with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Education to see what practical steps might be taken to pursue these ends in our schools?

    This is a very important part of the Convention, and I will certainly draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman know how much we welcome this decision? May I ask him whether he will draw the attention of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the acceptance of the Convention and ask him to apply it in British Colonial Territories and Protectorates?

    This is an important part of the Convention. Article 15 of the Convention requires us to consult with territories for whose international relations we are responsible in advance. This we have done. The question of their adherence to it is a matter for my right hon. Friend.



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


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the situation in Laos and on the recent proceedings of the Laos Conference in Geneva.

    Since my reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) on 29th January, there have been renewed breaches of the cease-fire in North and Central Laos. These have delayed the meeting of the leaders of the Laotian groups.

    However, a meeting was held between Prince Souvanna Phouma and General Phoumi on the 17th of February and it is thought that further meetings have begun in Vientiane today to deal with the military situation as well as with the formation of a Government.

    The Geneva Conference is now awaiting the outcome of these talks.

    Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the situation now is very serious and dangerous? Would he agree that the Right-wing leader Prince Boun Oum is really asking too much, and will he give an assurance that if the negotiations for a neutral Government break down as a result of his attitude there will be no question of further support for his régime by the British Government?

    I do not want here to start passing judgment on the particular demands of each of the Laotian leaders. What I think is encouraging is that Prince Souvanna Phouma has seen the King and has been encouraged to continue his work for the formation of a national Government. He is meeting General Phoumi today and that will cover the military situation as well as the formation of a united Government.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the forces which so disastrously turned out Prince Souvanna Phouma two years ago are not again at work?

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us think that it is quite right for people to be cautious in Laos? Can he name one single Government where Communists have been taken into the Government which has not become ultimately a wholly Communist one?

    I think that it is possible to have a Government of national unity in Laos where all three parties are represented. Speaking from memory, I believe that formerly in Laos there were Communist members of the Government. A Right-wing Government was then formed in which there were no Communist members and Laos retained its independence. I think that answers the question of my hon. Friend.

    In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he does not want to pass judgment, may I ask whether it is not a fact that the good work done by the two Co-Chairmen. one from this country and one from the Soviet Union, who arranged for a joint meeting several weeks ago has been deliberately destroyed by the reluctance of the Right-wing Government to honour that preliminary agreement? Can he not say on behalf of Her Majesty's Government that he will do everything he can to see that a coalition Government is now formed and to impress upon the Right-wing that we are not going to stand by and see another dangerous war situation arising out there!

    We have done our utmost to bring about a Government of national unity in Laos. A large number of meetings have been arranged from time to time and all these have failed to materialise because one or other of the princes has not been willing to attend them. I know that at the moment the cease-fire has been broken in the area of Nam Tha by Prince Souphanouvong's forces and also that there has been a breach of the cease-fire in the area of Mahaxay by both his and the other forces, and so there are difficulties on both sides. Our purpose is to bring the three together.

    While we condemn breaches of the cease-fire from one side or the other, would the right hon. Gentleman perhaps think that it is time to start passing judgment on this issue? Is it not a fact that both the British and American Governments have made strong representations to Prince Bonn Oum and to General Phoumi, and does he not think that it is time that they now made it clear that their patience is getting a little thin and that they will give no further military or other support to General Phoumi unless he sets out to honour the agreement made in Geneva?

    Her Majesty's Government are not giving military support to General Phoumi. What we are trying to do is to encourage the formation of a Government of national unity, and so are the American Government. That must be our purpose.

    Ussr (Cultural Exchanges)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal what plans he has for a further development of exchanges of teachers, students and other young people between this country and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

    The present exchanges are taking place under the current two-year Anglo-Soviet Cultural Agreement. We hope to be in a position to negotiate a further agreement when the present one expires at the end of this year.

    Would the hon. Gentleman agree that these exchanges have proved their value and that so far there has been no evidence that a single one of these hundreds of young people has come under Communist influence as a result of these exchanges? Will he now invite the national youth organisations to join in this work outside the programme on their own initiative?

    I certainly agree that the programme has been valuable so far. As I have indicated, I hope that we shall be able to continue it. As for the suggestion for matters outside the programme, I should like to look at that to see what is practicable.

    West New Guinea


    asked the Lord Privy Seal, in view of the fact that resolution 368 failed at the United Nations to get a two-thirds majority vote, what action is now being taken by the United Nations to help in getting a peaceful settlement of the dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesia with regard to West New Guinea.

    I understand that the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations has been trying to persuade the parties to agree on a basis for direct negotiations.

    In view of our trade connections with Indonesia right from the time of Sir Stamford Raffles, and later in 1945–46, and the fact that the geographical position of these islands is important to us and we have the N.A.T.O. agreement with Holland, can my right hon. Friend see whether we can help in negotiations between the two territories?

    As the House realises, we have associations both with the Netherlands through N.A.T.O. and with Indonesia through other connections. I think that it would be better to leave it in the hands of the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations who has taken this initiative and is having discussions with both sides. We are aware of what is going on.

    Fishing Agreement (Danish Memorandum)


    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now considered the memorandum from the Danish Government concerning the 1959 fishing agreement received by him on 5th February; and whether he will make a statement on the questions involved.

    The views of the Danish Government on future fishing arrangements around the Faroes are receiving careful consideration. These are matters for discussion between the two Governments in accordance with the provisions of the 1959 Agreement.

    Is my hon. Friend aware that it is widely reported that the Danish Government will seek to extend their fishing limits to twelve miles and that if this were to take place it would cause great damage to the fishing industry, particularly in the Port of Aberdeen? Will my hon. Friend, therefore, seek in these negotiations to ensure that our traditional fishing rights are at any rate phased out over a period of years to give the fleet time to adjust itself?

    I realise the importance of this matter to our fishing fleet and in particular to those whom my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) represents. This is a difficult problem, but I assure her that we will keep very much in mind the considerations which she has advanced.



    asked the Lord Privy Seal for what purpose the United Nations sought the agreement of the Katanga Government to the movement of their troops to Kolwezi and Jadotville; and whether he will make a statement.

    I understand that the United Nations purpose was to maintain their right to freedom of movement of their forces throughout the Congo and to act in co-operation with the Joint United Nations-Katanga Mixed Commissions whose task is to see that mercenaries really are leaving Katanga. Her Majesty's Government have continued to stress the great importance in matters of this kind of the United Nations acting in full co-operation with the Provincial Government.

    In view of the two campaigns of aggression by the United Nations against Katanga, was not this request dangerous and provocative, and would it not be better now to think about the withdrawal as soon as possible of United Nations forces from Katanga, with possible benefit to the British taxpayers?

    My noble Friend made clear in another place very recently that we have taken great pains to explain our view in regard to these actions, that any actions taken by the United Nations should be taken in conjunction with Mr. Tshombe and that it is very important that there should be complete agreement before moves of this kind are taken.

    Does not my hon. Friend realise that it would be quite easy just to send an ordinary commission, without sending troops to these towns, if there is any particular study that has to be made? Does he not also realise that the sending of United Nations troops into Katanga on the borders of Rhodesia is a most dangerous matter in so far as they come from countries with which the Rhodesias may not be very much in agreement?

    I am aware of those views. We have certainly made the British position on the whole matter quite plain to the United Nations in New York.

    Did not the hon. Gentleman's noble Friend say in another place the other day that Mr. Tshombe had agreed that all mercenaries should be removed and that he would co-operate in every way with the United Nations in getting them out?

    Would not the United Nations' expenditure, to which we contribute, be much better spent if the United Nations concentrated less on sending troops and much more on sending administrators and technicians to help in administering the country, with the free will of the Governments concerned there?

    These troops are already in Katanga, but I know that it is the wish of the Secretary-General to reach a position in which it would be possible to withdraw them as early as possible.

    Since the policy of Her Majesty's Government, after many hesitations, is still presumably based upon the United Nations, with the concurrence of the overwhelming majority of Members of this House, can the hon. Gentleman say what good purpose is served by the constant attempt to fish in these troubled waters and make the task of unification and pacification more difficult than it is already?

    We must be clear on this. Of course, we support the United Nations, but as major contributors we are entitled to make our views known in New York, which is what we do.

    Patrick Pottle And Others (Sentences)

    (by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether he will immediately advise the exercise of the prerogative of mercy in respect of sentences passed at the Old Bailey yesterday on Patrick Pottle, Terence Chandler, Ian Dixon, Trevor Hatton, Michael Randle and Helen Allegranza

    No, Sir. It is open to the persons concerned to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal against their sentences.

    In asking the Home Secretary to have second thoughts on this matter, may I ask him to bear three things in mind? First, that this was a symbolic political trial of half a dozen people arbitrarily selected among thousands of people who consider themselves equally technically guilty—

    Order. The hon. Member cannot, in a Question, criticise the conviction of a court.

    I was hoping, Mr. Speaker, in the Question and in my supplementary, to avoid any reference to the proceedings of the court and therefore to underline my submission to the Home Secretary that this is a case for the exercise of the prerogative on these grounds: that the real conflict here was not between the State and its power to protect itself against illegal activities, but between the image of Parliament and democratic processes against those who are half convinced that those democratic processes are no longer adequate to deal with the issues before the nation.

    Is it not a fact that it is not the severity of penalties which will deter these activities, but a conviction that the green card which I hold in my hand—that is why I say only half convinced that the democratic processes do not work—carrying the name of one of the defendants, with an address in Paddington, who, a few hours before his trial, was prepared—

    I have no authority from the House to allow the hon. Member to make a speech in the guise of a question. He must have regard to the rules of the House.

    Is the Home Secretary aware that there is grave public concern at the fact that the Official Secrets Act, which was designed expressly and only for the security of the State, is being used as a vehicle for the suppression of freedom of political opinion?

    I am not prepared to comment upon the proceedings in court on this case, but I should like to stress that it is open to the persons concerned to apply for leave to appeal within ten days of their conviction. In the meantime, it would not be right for me to comment on the case.

    Is the Home Secretary aware of the deep sense of injustice which is felt that such savage sentences—

    Although the accused are technically guilty under the Official Secrets Act, since there is no doubt whatever that they are sincere young people who are patriotic in the deepest sense in their concern for the safety of the people of the country, would it not be a welcome act if the Home Secretary would use his powers to advise the Queen to exercise clemency in mitigation of these harsh sentences?

    When I realised that this Question would be put, I knew that it would place a natural inhibition upon me, because it would be quite wrong for me to comment on the case while the right of appeal lies open to the convicted.

    Surely, the problem is this. The Official Secrets Act was designed to protect the country from a foreign enemy. It is not designed to protect us against political disturbances. We have legislation with regard to public nuisance. Indeed, I believe that the Attorney-General has to give his consent to a prosecution under the Official Secrets Act precisely to avoid its being misused. Here, surely, no foreign enemy was involved. This was a public nuisance and a nuisance to the police. Is it not an abuse of procedure to have used the Official Secrets Act on this occasion?

    On a point of order. I should like to ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker—

    Having heard those exchanges, I thought that we could not further pursue the matter today. Sir Samuel Storey.

    It probably is convenient to me to hear the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) on a point of order on this subject before passing to another.

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rose several times to address a question to the Home Secretary, but apparently I did not catch your eye. l observed that several hon. Members caught your eye. Nevertheless, I wish to address a question to the right hon. Gentleman which I regard as relevant to the subject. Am I to be allowed to put my question?

    I intended no kind of discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman or to anybody else, but I came to the conclusion, in the discharge of my responsibilities, having heard what had passed, that it would not be right to allow further questions about the matter. It was for that reason that I passed on. Sir Samuel Storey.

    It is very unfair. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] I said that it was very unfair and I say what I mean.

    If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to criticise the conduct of the Chair, he must take the proper steps about it.

    You will no doubt recollect, Mr. Speaker, that on 6th December, just before the charges were brought under the Officials Secrets Act, I attempted to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 to raise the question of the use of the Official Secrets Act in this connection. You will remember that on that occasion you refused my request and said that I would understand that this was a matter that the House would want to discuss at some other time. Since then, I have made every effort to raise the matter during the normal course of Parliamentary procedure. I applied during December for an Adjournment debate, but was unsuccessful. Last week, I applied for an Adjournment debate this week or next week, when I understood that the trial of the members of the Committee of 100 would be over, but, again, I was unfortunate and did not gain an Adjournment debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is clear that this is a matter which demands discussion.

    May I, therefore, ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to the point at which, either before or after possible appeals have been made, you would regard it as appropriate that this House should have the opportunity to discuss this matter, which is vital to our democratic civil liberties?

    The hon. Lady will understand that I have nothing to do with the fixing of business. Sometimes, under a Standing Order, I have to decide whether I can leave an application to the House, but otherwise I have no control of these matters.

    Further to that point of order. While it would be quite improper for the House or the Home Secretary to comment on the actual case, or its conduct, or its result, nevertheless, under the Official Secrets Act, such a prosecution cannot be instituted without the leave of the Attorney-General, and for the giving of that leave the Attorney-General remains responsible to the House of Commons. When are we to have an opportunity of calling the Attorney-General to account for what many of us believe to be an abuse of his powers?

    I do not understand this. The hon. Gentleman rose to a point of order. There just is not one in that.

    Standing Committee E (20Th February, 1962)

    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your guidance on a matter arising out of the remarks of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) during the debate last night on local government in Greater London?

    You will recall that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) asked your guidance about the position of hon. Members who wished to attend the debate, but who were members of Standing Committee E, which was sitting upstairs. The right hon. Gentleman was followed by the hon. Member for Greenwich, who said that he
    "tried without success to get the Chairman of the Committee to permit us to take part in this debate. We have made representations on behalf of our constituents in that matter, which is a direct constituency interest and of interest to the people of London. There seems to be no good reason at all why this Standing Committee should go on at this exceptional hour. We have tried, but without any success at all, to get assistance upstairs, but it has been refused …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1962; Vol. 654. c. 281.]
    As you will know, Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of a Standing Committee has no powers or duties about the sittings of a Committee, except to fix the time of the first meeting, to adjourn the Committee at one o'clock, to accept or reject a Motion for the adjournment, or to suspend the sittings of the Committee. At no time yesterday was I asked to accept a Motion for the adjournment of the sitting. The only thing I was asked was whether it was possible to fix the time at which the Committee should rise in the afternoon, and I had to rule that it was not competent for the Committee to fix beforehand the time at which it should rise at an afternoon sitting.

    I am not so much concerned about the misrepresentation of the hon. Member for Greenwich. But I am concerned about the implication that it is possible in this way to criticise the conduct of a Chairman of a Standing Committee. May I call your attention to two precedents? The first was on 14th August, 1889, when Mr. Speaker Peel gave a Ruling in reply to a point of Privilege raised by the then Member for Sunderland, Mr. Samuel Storey.

    While declining to rule that it was a matter of privilege, Mr. Speaker Peel went on to say:

    "… I should like to say, regarding as I do all questions of order that may be raised in Grand Committee upstairs, that I cannot allow appeals to be made to me on points of order rising in Grand Committees, there being no such appeal, in my opinion, from the decision of a duly-constituted Chairman of a Grand Committee."
    The other precedent to which I should like to call your attention is one given by Mr. Speaker Fitzroy, on 29th June, 1928, when he said:
    "With regard to this question, of which the hon. Member has been kind enough to give me notice, I should like to lay down an emphatic Ruling that there is no appeal from the Chairman of a Committee to Mr. Speaker; and, in the second place, that, if any Member or group of Members have any criticism to make of the Chairman of the Committee, or, indeed, of anyone in the Chair, the proper thing to do is to put down a Motion on the Paper, so that it may be discussed in the ordinary way in the House."—[OFFICIAL REPCRT, 29th June, 1928; Vol. 219, c. 852.]
    In view of what happened yesterday, I should like to ask you to confirm, as I feel certain you will, that the precedents I have quoted still hold good.

    I am obliged to the hon. Member. Seeing these words in the OFFICIAL REPORT, I realise that they could carry the implication of criticism of the Chairman, and I reiterate our well-known rule that no such criticism is proper, save on a substantive Motion.

    I do not think that the other point arises, because, as I understood yesterday's occasion, there was no question of appeal from some decision of the hon. Member himself. There would, of course, be no such appeal, but I do not think that it was made.

    Constitution Of Rhodesia And Nyasaland (Amendment)

    3.45 p.m.

    I beg to move,

    That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland by providing that immigration and emigration shall be a matter with respect to which the Federal Legislature shall not have, and the legislature of each territory shall have, power to make laws.
    May I make one preliminary observation. This is the third occasion upon which this Motion has appeared upon the Order Paper. It appeared twice in earlier weeks, and on each occasion it could not be discussed because of the operation of the Guillotine on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. I do not think that it is fully realised in the House that one of the many objections to the Guillotine procedure is that it operates to deprive private Members of one of the few rights that they still fully enjoy, the right to bring forward a Motion of this kind at the commencement of Public Business.

    Coming to the Motion, when, in 1953, the Constitution of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was set up, and the Federation was created, it provided for a tripartite division of functions between the Federal Legislature, the Territorial Legislatures, and the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom.

    As hon. Members will recall, it was specifically provided in the Preamble to the Constitution that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue under the special protection of Her Majesty and should enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desired. It was also specifically provided that those Governments should be subject to the ultimate authority of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, which means subject to the ultimate authority of this House.

    It was, therefore, contemplated that the Federation itself should not be a completely sovereign State, but that its foreign relations, except in so far as they might be delegated to the Federation, should still be the concern of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. But, at the same time, provision was made that immigration and emigration into or out of the Federal territory should be an exclusively Federal subject.

    Those various arrangements have created an extremely anomalous situation. The fact is that although the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs is still answerable to this House for the administration of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, he has no authority to say who may enter those territories, or who may be allowed to remain. This matter is within the sole discretion of the Federal Government. Looking back over the last nine years, I suggest that this power, which was entrusted to the Federal Government, has been used on a number of occasions in a most capricious and arbitrary manner. I have a number of examples, but I will content myself with a few.

    In 1954, it was announced that there was to be a complete ban on Africans from South Africa entering the Federation. In 1958, a Miss Rosalynde Ainslie was visiting the Federation. She was the United Kingdom representative of the quarterly newspaper South Africa, published in the Union. She was officially asked to leave the Rhodesian Federation, and a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Home Affairs said that she was asked to leave under Section 51 of the Immigration Act.

    That Section, among other things, states that anyone who is deemed to be an undesirable inhabitant, on information received from other Governments, may be declared a prohibited immigrant and asked to leave. It was quite clear that the information in that case was received from the Union Government. In other words, this lady was asked to leave a British territory because she was persona non grata to the Government of the Union of South Africa.

    A further case, a little later in 1958, concerned a Mr. A. E. Lewis. He had been on the staff of the Commonwealth Section of the T.U.C. in this country. In 1955, he was sent by the Colonial Office to Aden, to advise on labour problems. In 1958, he was appointed General Secretary of the Northern Rhodesia European Mineworkers' Union, but was refused a permit to enter the Federation.

    A month later in the same year Commander Fox-Pitt was refused permission to enter the Federation. He had served for no less than nineteen years as district and provincial commissioner in Northern Rhodesia. He retired because of a disagreement with the African policy of the Northern Rhodesian Government, and particularly over their refusal to allow Africans to grow a certain type of tobacco, which the Northern Rhodesian Government thought that only Europeans should be allowed to grow. After a lapse of eight years in retirement. Commander Fox-Pitt expressed a wish to return to the Federation, but he was declared a prohibited immigrant.

    I now remind the House of a case which concerned us rather more closely—the case of my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stone-house). The House will remember that he was in Northern Rhodesia—a territory for which this House is responsible—and he was about to fly to Nyasaland—another territory for which this House is responsible. He was a United Kingdom Member of Parliament, exercising his constitutional responsibilities, but he was declared a prohibited immigrant. Each of us is responsible for what goes on in those Protectorates—

    —but there is an extraordinary position, which seems to trouble hon. Members opposite not at all, namely, that a Member of this House cannot go to a territory for which the House is responsible except with the permission of another Government.

    Another case concerned the Rev. Tom Colvin. He had been employed for years in Nyasaland, and had been appointed to the post of General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Central Africa. While on leave in this country he was informed that he had been declared a prohibited immigrant and would not be allowed to return.

    Those are only a few of many cases that I could quote. When we consider those cases and the surrounding circumstances, I submit that the inference is clear enough: people are forbidden to enter the Federation, or are ordered to leave, not because they have a criminal record, or are likely to break the law, and not because their characters are in any way impugned, but because their political views, or what are supposed to be their political views, do not commend them to the Federal authorities.

    I now turn to the second aspect of the matter. We all remember how, a few weeks ago, the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations made a request that United Nations observers should be stationed along the frontier between Northern Rhodesia and the Congo. This matter clearly comes within the scope of external relations; that is to say, it is a matter for which the Government of this country—the Government represented in this House—are responsible. But the power to issue or withhold entry permits rested with the Federal Government, and the decision was taken by the Federal Government.

    I remind the House of a communiqué issued in Salisbury at the beginning of January, because the words are extremely significant. It said:
    "In view of the established policy of the Federal Government, action which it has taken to ensure that this is implemented and the failure of the United Nations authorities to substantiate their allegations, the Federal Government does not consider that there is any justification for the acting Secretary-General's request to station United Nations' observers on Federal territory, and has accordingly informed the British Government that it must reject his proposal"
    It said that "it"—that is, the Federal Government—"must reject his proposal." Some hon. Members may recall an extremely pertinent comment by The Times Commonwealth Correspondent, who said:
    "As it is, whatever the British Government say in their reply, it will appear that they have been moved entirely by what Sir Roy would permit, and that the only scope for British initiative has been in toning down the language"
    That is a perfectly fair comment. The decision was taken by the Federal Government and by that Government alone, and all that Her Majesty's Government could do was to combine the rôles of sub-editor and postman. I submit that the experience of these years has shown that while the control of emigration and immigration remains with the Federal authorities the British Government cannot properly discharge their responsibilities either to the people of the two Protectorates or to the United Nations.

    I now come to the third aspect of the matter. It is high time that this House emphasised that the responsibility for future constitutional arrangements in Central Africa rests here, in Westminster, and nowhere else. I say that because of the remarks attributed to Sir Roy Welensky by The Times on the 13th of this month. It reported him as saying:
    "The British Parliament could not use its legal power to provide for dissolution of the Federation except at the request or with the consent of the Parliament of the Federation"
    When I saw that, I tabled a Question to the Prime Minister, and in the reply which he gave me, last week, he said:
    "I have seen reports of Sir Roy Welensky's speech. As the text makes clear he was referring to the Joint Announcement of April, 1957, by the British and Federal Governments; apart from that no assurance has been given by Her Majesty's Government about legislation affecting the Federation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February, 1962; Vol. 653, c. 184.]
    I now remind the House of the terms of the announcement in 1957. It said:
    "The United Kingdom recognise the existence of a convention applicable to the present stage of the constitutional evolution of the Federation, whereby the United Kingdom Government in practice does not initiate any legislation to amend or to repeal any Federal Act or to deal with any matter included within the competence of the Federal Legislature except at the request of the Federal Government"
    There are two things to say about that announcement. First, it is a convention, and nothing more. Secondly, it certainly cannot bind all future British Governments never to make a change except with the consent of the Federal Government in Salisbury. In this connection, I quote the comment made by the Monckton Commission. The Commission said:
    "This Announcement refers only to powers conferred upon the Federal Legislature by the Constitution and it cannot affect the legislative authority of the United Kingdom Parliament to provide for the future constitutional development of the Federation and, for this purpose, to make any necessary amendments to the Constitution itself"
    The Commission went on to say:
    "It is essential that this right should be retained"
    It seems to many of us, at any rate on this side of the House, first, that there is no doubt, as the Monckton Commission said, that this right should be retained, and secondly, that it is high time that the right should be exercised. It is for that reason that my hon. Friends and I seek leave to introduce the Bill.

    4.0 p.m.

    I know that it is unusual for a member of the Government to rise to oppose a Private Member's Motion for leave to introduce a Bill. But it is not usual for a private Member to seek leave under the Ten Minutes Rule, as it is normally called, to introduce a Bill of this nature.

    Its object is, as the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) has pointed out, to amend the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Any Bill with such an object, limited in character though it may be, is of immediate concern to Her Majesty's Government and that is the reason why I rise, and also, I should make clear, why I rise to oppose its introduction.

    The hon. and learned Member seeks to remove from the Federation power to legislate in respect of immigration and emigration and to transfer that power to the Legislatures of the Territories. He has advanced a number of arguments in support of his proposal. I will not take up the time of the House, either in commenting on the cases to which he has referred us or upon his arguments, but it should not be assumed that I accept them at all. I shall ask the House to reject this Motion on the ground that it would be quite wrong to amend the Constitution piecemeal as the hon. and learned Gentleman proposes.

    The present Constitution is contained in the Order in Council of 1st August, 1953, made under the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation Act of that year. Under that Constitution it is, as the hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out, for the Federal Government, and the Federal Government alone, to make laws with regard to immigration and emigration. By Article 99 of that Constitution, provision is made for a review of the Constitution by a conference consisting of delegates from the Federation, from each of the three Territories and from the United Kingdom.

    As the House knows, and the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to it, in preparation for that conference the Monckton Commission was appointed, an advisory Commission, to review the whole Constitution. Its Report was presented in 1960, and the hon. and learned Gentleman has not cited, and I cannot find, any passage in it supporting the proposal for the amendment of the Constitution on the lines he suggests—

    —envisaged in Article 99, met on 5th December, 1960, and was adjourned on 17th December, 1960. Since then there has been much discussion, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has only just returned from the Federation, where he has been for some time for the very purpose of discussing the whole question of the review of the Constitution with a view to a decision being reached on the best way to make progress. He indicated on his departure that he expected to discuss a wide range of questions, constitutional, political and economic, and I am sure that it is—it certainly should be—the hope of us all that those discussions will prove fruitful.

    Order. It is not our practice to allow interventions in the discussion on a Ten Minutes Rule Bill.

    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is not our practice, if I may say so respectfully, to have the Attorney-General intervene in a matter of this sort.

    It is not forbidden by the practice of the House, even though it be odd, but we do not allow interventions.

    Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is an extraordinary occasion from the point of view which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) has mentioned. I think that in a matter which, as the Attorney-General has indicated by his intervention, is of great constitutional importance, it might be that, with your permission and with his permission, we might be allowed to put the constitutional issue—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—of whether this House is able to abrogate the Constitution of the Federation.

    Order. I did not mean any disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman. It is important that we should adhere to our practice about not intervening, in order not to take up more time than we need to.

    Mr. John Stonehouse