Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 656: debated on Monday 26 March 1962

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

House Of Commons

Monday, 26th March, 1962

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Death Of A Member

I regret to have to inform the House of the death of the right honourable Clement Edward Davies, Q.C., Member for Montgomery, and I desire on behalf of the House to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and our sympathy with the relatives of the right honourable Member.

Private Business

Saint Thomas Apostle (Queen Street) Churchyard Bill

Read the Third time and passed.

Northampton Corporation Bill

As amended, considered.

To be read the Third time.

University Of Sussex Bill Lords

Read a Second time and committed.

City Of London (Various Powers) Bill (By Order)

Second Reading deferred till Tuesday, 3rd April, at Seven o'clock.

Oral Answers To Questions

European Economic Community

1.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what preparations are being made to deal with the situation which will arise if the negotiations with the European Economic Community break down.

I have nothing to add to the replies which my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal gave to Questions on this subject on 8th March.

Would my hon. Friend not agree that, as a result of the speeches of the German Chancellor and of the French Minister of Agriculture, the likelihood of these talks breaking down is far greater than when the original reply was given? Will he give the House an assurance that active steps are being taken to study the alternative?

I would not agree that the position is less favourable. I would remind my hon. Friend of the remarks made by the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Schroeder, towards the end of last week, when he said that the Federal Government were of the opinion that Britain's joining must not prejudice the vital interests of the Commonwealth; hence it was with the full consent of the Federal Government that the Commonwealth problem in E.E.C. was being tackled so as to take account of the vital interests of the British federation of States; in the new talks in Brussels about Britain's accession a synthesis between the Commonwealth and the Rome Treaties must be found.

I would think that that represented very well the position.

Is it true, as reported in one of the London newspapers this morning, that the Lord Privy Seal has gone to Ottawa to try to persuade the Canadian Government that they must expect adverse conditions if Britain joins the Common Market? Would it not be much better for him to go there to plead that a representative of the Canadian Government should come over here and join his Australian colleague in Brussels?

Certainly I am not responsible for what appears in the London newspapers. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has gone over for discussions which I am sure will be useful in regard to this whole field. Certainly we would in no way object to a Canadian observer coming as my noble Friend suggests.

Will the Minister of State give an assurance that the Government will do nothing to cause trouble between France and Germany, since the reconciliation of France and Germany was the main purpose for which the Community was created?

Certainly I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the last thing we would wish to do would be to cause trouble between those States.

Would my hon. Friend not agree that unless there is a practical, constructive alternative plan as indicated in the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), there may be a temptation to continue negotiations with the European Economic Community beyond the point at which they may be thought to be rewarding?

No. I would not accept that. These two concepts are not necessarily antagonistic, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear the other day.

2.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make representations to the members of the European Economic Community to allow Her Majesty's Government to participate in the work of the Fouchet Commission dealing with the political development of the Community.

40.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has now made to associate Her Majesty's Government with the discussions of the Fouchet Commission.

We do not participate in the work of the Fouchet Commission because we are not members of the European Economic Community. Of course, we are closely concerned with the outcome of the Commission's work; and the six Governments have kept us fully informed of the substance of the drafts being considered by the Commission. They recognise the need to hold consultations with us before they finalise any agreement.

Would not the Government make representations to be directly represented here? Is it not highly unsatisfactory that very far-reaching discussions should be taking place without British participation, and are we not likely to be presented eventually with a fait accompli which we might find it very difficult to resist? Why should not the Government have the opportunity of putting their point of view both to the Six and, for that matter, to the House?

We are being kept informed informally of the procedure with regard to these discussions. I think that in regard to our position on our own negotiations, we have got as far as we can reasonably expect at the present moment.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that if, as most hon. Members think, the economic and political aspects of this matter are very closely intertwined, it would be very dangerous to come to a decision to join the European Economic Community without fuller information about and fuller association with the consultations taking place in Europe in regard to political developments?

My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has made clear on a number of occasions that we realise the political implications in all this, and what I would ask my right hon. and learned Friend also to remember is that there are safeguards in the Treaty with regard to any extension of its powers. I would call attention to Articles 235 and 236 in this context.

Is it not a fact that the implications over the surrender of national sovereignty through economic integration are far more serious in the Treaty of Rome than in the proposals of the Fouchet Commission's Report, and that if we do not wish to have any surrender of national sovereignty we should not consider going into the Community at all?

No, I would not accept that the provisions of the Treaty of Rome go any further than has been expounded from this Box on many occasions. The position is quite clear. Hon. Members have read the Treaty of Rome, and these provisions relate largely to the economic field, and cover social problems as well. As to what will be covered in the Fouchet Report, we have to wait to see what will be covered by the agreed proposals of the Six.

3.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how far Her Majesty's Government are participating in the discussions taking place within the European Economic Community on the arrangements to be made for the associated overseas territories after the expiry of the present Convention at the end of 1962.

These discussions are confined to the present members of the European Economic Community and their associated overseas territories. There is, of course, a close connection between them and the parallel discussions we are holding with the Six on the association of Commonwealth countries and territories. Discussions on this subject are being resumed by the Deputies in Brussels this week.

Again, is that really satisfactory? Is it not a fact that there are differences of opinion within the Six on this question of the participation of overseas territories, and that any agreement which the Six may come to will, therefore, be hammered out with great difficulty? Would it not then be extremely difficult for us to make any changes at all in whatever agreement is arrived at, and, in view of the tremendous importance of this to the Commonwealth, would not the Government ask if we could participate in some way, if only at official level, in the discussions going on just now?

We are having informal discussions. I do not think we can expect more at the present stage of our own negotiations with the E.E.C. When we reach a later stage then we shall be more entitled to seek to have our views considered.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the sooner we join the European Economic Community the better we shall be able to influence decisions on political and other matters?

That is certainly a point of view which I quite recognise my hon. Friend has. Once we are in we shall be in such a position, and it is because we wish to see the exact terms on which we can go in that we are pressing forward with our proposals.

14.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement summarising the views on future political and constitutional developments in Western Europe which are to be put forward by Her Majesty's Government in connection with the United Kingdom's application to join the European Economic Community.

The views of Her Majesty's Government were set out in paragraphs one to ten and paragraph 22 of my right honourable Friend the Lord Privy Seal's statement in Paris on 10th October last.

Are those the only views that are to be communicated in due course to the Fouchet Commission—which we were told last week would be done? There are many other aspects of the important political developments that may follow our adherence to the Common Market. Have the Government considered, for instance, the position of the British monarchy in a predominantly republican federal set-up?

I would not have thought that the position of the British monarchy was at stake or at risk in any way in these negotiations. Any such suggestion would seem to me to be almost frivolous. As for the Government's proposals, I have answered a previous question in relation to the Fouchet Commission which sets out the position. I would remind the House of the views officially put forward by the Lord Privy Seal, and I do not think that I can usefully add to them here.

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm what the Lord Privy Seal told the House recently, that there can be no question in relation to the Rome Treaty negotiations of entering into any commitments which involve a federal or supra-national set-up, a unified foreign policy or a unified Parliament, and that such matters would require a separate treaty? If that is the position and it is the view of the Government, as we hope it is, that we shall not accept any such commitments now or hereafter, would not it be more honest for the Government to say that plainly to Europe now so that there can be no accusations of bad faith in three or four years time?

My right hon. Friend set out the latest position in his statement the other day. I have already reminded the House of the safeguards under Article 236 of the Treaty of Rome in regard to extension. I think that that is as far as I can usefully take the matter now.

17.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether arrangements have now been made for British film experts to attend the meetings of the Common Market Working Party on film policy.

Does that mean that the Brussels delegation from the British Government is not concerned about the matter? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that for several weeks now the British Film Producers' Association has been trying to obtain from either the Board of Trade or the Brussels delegation some information about what discussions on film policy are going on inside the Common Market? Since it is known that there has been a Commission on it for over twelve months, why do not the Government know anything about it and why are not they concerned?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are concerned about this matter. The Question refers to arrangements for our experts to attend meetings of the Working Party. In the work of the Working Party, as in other matters, the Six and the Commission are, not unreasonably, reluctant to admit United Kingdom representatives to discussions while the Brussels negotiations are in progress and before we have joined the Community. The United Kingdom delegation will, however, keep in touch with the Commission, and I hope that arrangements will be made at an appro- priate stage to ensure that our views are fully taken into account by the Working Party.

18.

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent Common Market policy on films has been studied by the experts negotiating in Brussels; what conclusions they have reached on the effects of the British film industry of Great Britain's proposed entry into the Common Market; and what proposals he will now put forward to safeguard the industry's position.

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Gentleman on 7th December last.

That reply did not contain any answer at all. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Board of Trade has recently replied to the British Film Producers' Association saying that it has no official information whatever about either the subject-matter or the personnel of the Common Market Commission which has been sitting for over twelve months on film policy? Is it the policy of Her Majesty's Government that the whole matter should be decided by the Common Market Commission, that they will then sign on the dotted line, and that the film industry can take the consequences?

No, Sir. Common Market policy on films has yet to be decided by the Community.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that it is being decided now by the Commission?

If the matter is so important and potentially dangerous for this country, would it not be an advantage for us to be inside the Common Market so that we may take part?

If we become members of the Community, we shall, of course, have our say in the decisions on what the policy should be.

Would it not be of advantage if Her Majesty's Government requested the members of the E.E.C. to let them know what is being decided by the Commission in respect of the interests of film industries in Western Europe so that the Government could formulate a policy to safeguard the interests of the British industry? Why does not the hon. Gentleman do that?

25.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will indicate in the course of the negotiations with the European Economic Community on the proposed association of the United Kingdom that there can be no agreement which calls for the creation of a European Parliament and which curtails the authority of the House of Commons.

In my right hon. Friend's statement to the Six on 10th October, he said that we were ready to accept and play our full part in the institutions established by the Treaty of Rome. These include the European Parliamentary Assembly. That Assembly does not encroach on the authority of national Parliaments. Any proposal to amend or widen the powers of the Assembly would require unanimous agreement.

But what would be the purpose of a European Parliament unless a Parliament of this kind were subordinate to it in some respects? If anything of this sort occurs, will it not be a complete and disgraceful betrayal of British sovereignty and independence?

The reference is to an Assembly, and there are various international assemblies in different parts of the world in which we play our full part which we do not necessarily think derogate from our responsibilities in this Parliament.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how far ahead the Government are looking in giving these Answers? While various institutions have already been set up by the Common Market, it is well known that they are but the foundations of something far stronger. How far are the Government looking ahead?

It is difficult to say how far we are looking ahead. In this context how far can one look? We are looking a considerable way. We are trying to see precisely what are the terms on which we can enter the Common Market. In that connection, if we have a satisfactory position established, clearly we shall be in a position to evaluate both the economic and the political links which will be called for. Obviously we shall have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages in that respect.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to give the House some definition of a European Parliament and what its powers are to be—or is it to be like the gentlemen in another place, not vested with any powers at all?

I would not endeavour to forecast the body which the right hon. Gentleman envisages, nor would I comment on his criticism of another place, which I do not support.

27.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received from members of the European Economic Community regarding their discussions and decisions reached about East-West trade.

41.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his negotiations on the European Common Market have included discussions on a common policy towards trade with state trading countries.

My right hon. Friend has not discussed these matters in the negotiations nor has he received any information from the Member Governments of the European Economic Community about them.

Has the Minister received any information? Is it not a fact that the Common Market countries have agreed that a quota shall be fixed on all East-West trade of member countries including, if we join, Britain? Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is or is not a fact and what is the Government's attitude towards such a proposal?

I have no knowledge of such proposal. If the right hon. Gentleman has any information about it I shall be glad to look into it.

Is it not the case that the quota is 5 per cent. and that, if it were accepted, it would affect Britain very seriously, because our total trade with the Eastern bloc has been increasing greatly? If such a provision were inserted, would the Minister consider it possible to accept it?

I have just said that I have no information about such a regulation. If the hon. Member has such information I shall be glad to receive it from him.

39.

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the negotiations with the European Economic Community have sought a revision and modification of the Regulation-making powers of Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said in paragraph 13 of his statement of 10th October.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this is a very important matter in the context of the principle of sovereignty of Parliament in that these regulations, under Article 189, will be of general application, will be binding in every respect and will be directly applicable within member States—that is to say, without any opportunity of scrutiny by this House or any control by this House?

This matter was fully discussed last August, and I call my right hon. and learned Friend's attention, in particular, to the speech of the Lord Chancellor in another place. As a layman, I am very reluctant to attempt to put a gloss on what he said on that occasion.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the sovereignty of Parliament referred to will not be worth very much unless it rests on a sound economic foundation?

Is it not a fact that under the inevitable momentum of the Treaty of Rome decisions will increasingly be taken by the Council of Minister on a majority vote and that this means that the sovereignty of the British House of Commons will, under the existing provisions of the Treaty of Rome, increasingly be eroded?

I do not think that it is necessary to make such an assumption. It is an assumption which the hon. Lady is making—a very big assumption—that there will be such an erosion. As I pointed out earlier this afternoon, there are Articles in the Treaty which make it essential that any extension of the Treaty itself require unanimity. As for the provisions in the Treaty, the House will have plenty of opportunity of considering them when we know the terms and conditions under which we could enter the Community.

Laos

4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement about the present situation in Laos, and about the conference on Laos now sitting in Geneva.

Since my right hon. Friend's replies on 21st February, the military situation has remained generally quiet, although there have been occasional minor outbreaks of fighting. Negotiations for the formation of a Government of National Union are continuing and the Geneva Conference is awaiting their outcome.

Does the Minister of State recall that it was the C.I.A. which most disastrously brought about the downfall of Prince Souvanna Phouma's Government, and is he satisfied that the C.I.A. are not now reinforcing and supporting the Right-wing Government of Vientiane and thus preventing us from bringing Souvanna Phouma back into power, as we desire?

I think the right hon. Gentleman will have seen the statement made by Mr. Harriman over the weekend, which is extremely helpful, and I would recommend him to study it further.

Can my hon. Friend say whether the weekend news was confirmed with the British Government, because we welcome this new approach to the problem and the agreement that Prince Boun Oum will not be supported in establishing an opposite Government.

We have not received the official version of Mr. Harriman's Statement, but the hon. Gentleman will have seen in The Times today a reference to it.

As the hon. Gentleman a little earlier warned us not to be taken in too quickly by what we see in the Press, can he guarantee accuracy this time?

I said that I was not responsible for all that appears in the Press. That is the position now, but I should be very surprised if this report were wildly inaccurate.

Egypt (British Property)

6.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now received information from the Egyptian Government as to their intentions with regard to the seizure of the property of over 30 British citizens; and if he will make a statement.

I can add nothing yet to the reply my right hon. Friend gave my hon. Friend on 29th January.

Is it not outrageous that after nearly six months these people do not know whether their property is sequestrated or frozen and whether they are to get compensation? Is he not aware that there is a growing feeling that the way in which the Ango-Egyptian Financial Agreement is being implemented is far from satisfactory?

I certainly agree that we would like to have received a substantive reply from the U.A.R. Government sooner. We are continuing our efforts to get one, and we have left them in no doubt of the seriousness with which we view these matters.

Western European Union (Recommendations)

7.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has studied Recommendation 69 passed by the Assembly of Western European Union concerning the state of European security; and whether he will make a statement.

I have read the recommendation with interest. Since it is very detailed and covers a large variety of different subjects, I do not feel that it would be useful or indeed possible to make a general statement about it.

Would my hon. Friend agree that point 3 of the recommendation, dealing with the pooling of technical and industrial resources with a view to general standardisation, would be of great advantage to this country within the N.A.T.O. Alliance?

I agree that this article to which may hon. Friend refers, as well as certain other of the articles, is indeed important. We should like to give it further study.

8.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has studied Resolution 19 passed by the Assembly of Western European Union concerning the situation in Berlin; and whether he will make a statement.

I have noted this resolution, which is encouraging evidence of the solidarity of the Western European Union Assembly on the issue of Berlin.

Can my hon. Friend assure us that we are taking full advantage of this resolution with the member countries of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, and is he convinced that they are pulling together at the moment?

Yes, I think I can say that we are satisfied. Of course, there are difficulties and problems in regard to the different nuances of this matter, but this sort of resolution is indeed very helpful.

Germany (Anti-Nazi Reprisals)

9.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many young men, who were sentenced as boys by the Allied Military and Central Commission Courts in Germany, after the surrender of the German forces in 1945, to long terms of imprisonment, for reprisals taken after their release from concentration camps against S.S. guards or members of the Gestapo, are still in prison; and when it is intended that they shall be released.

May I ask my hon. Friend whether his attention has been drawn to a report by the Forgotten Allies Trust to the effect that 133 of these young men are still in prison, and can he definitely confirm that none of these were sentenced by British military courts?

I have see that report and I have made inquiries about the facts alleged in that report. We know of no case where a person sentenced for such a crime is still in prison.

The Minister's original reply referred to the former British Zone of occupation, and his answer was limited to that, but as that zone is now part of Western Germany, which we have recognised and with which we have treaties, would it not be worth while finding out whether in Western Germany as a whole there are any such cases now?

I referred to the British Zone since zones other than the British would not be the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. I can only repeat what I said. We know of no case where a person sentenced for such a crime is still in prison.

Nuclear Tests

10.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will initiate proposals at the disarmament talks for a ban on all nuclear tests than can be detected by means of existing instruments on the territories of the Powers involved.

20.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if, following improvements in detection methods, Her Majesty's Government will support proposals for banning all nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere which can be detected by existing means.

This is not simply a problem of detection. It is necessary also to locate and to identify. The number of natural seismic events occurring annually in the Soviet Union alone may run into hundreds. We need, therefore, to have a capability to distinguish between natural events and nuclear tests, and to verify what has occurred in cases of doubt. Our present state of scientific development does not by itself provide this but we are continuing intensive research. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on 13th March, we are seeking to reach agreement on the whole problem and not just part of it.

Is it not a fact that national stations are sufficient to identify the overwhelming majority of tests and that the Soviet Union has offered to conclude a treaty banning all those tests which are identifiable by national stations? Would it not be a good thing for us to take up this offer as a starting point, particularly as President Kennedy said at his Press conference the other day that a test ban treaty would do more for the security of the West than any resumption of nuclear tests?

We are very anxious to conclude a treaty, and I have been engaged in these discussions in Geneva only last week. I know the great difficulties, but unless the Russians are prepared to agree to some kind of verification we cannot agree to a treaty which would provide no safeguards.

Would not the common sense approach be to agree first on the easier issue of detectable tests and use that as a basis fox a wider agreement? What is stopping that?

There is no agreement between the two sides on what is detectable. My noble Friend only last week appealed to the Russians if they had any knowledge of what was detectable to come forward. We have asked them again and again to let us have scientific information and they have always refused.

In view of the bad faith shown by the Russians in the recent moratorium, would not my hon. Friend agree that we cannot jeopardise our national security by agreeing to something which we cannot verify ourselves?

Yes, Sir. This is one of the real problems which has forced us to insist on verification.

Were there not proposals for verification by neutrals, and what was the reply?

We put forward proposals ourselves at the end of last August, and we have repeated them now, that there shall be a considerable proportion of neutral representation in any inspecting team. The Russians have replied that they will not accept any inspection team on Soviet territory on any conditions whatever. My noble Friend pressed them only last Friday.

It has been suggested that it could be done by neutrals alone. Has that been put forward? If so, what was the reply?

The offer put forward was that half the team should be neutrals. We have had no counter-offer. My noble Friend has pressed the point in Geneva, but we have had no indication that inspection teams of any kind would be acceptable to the Soviet Union.

Christmas Island (Nuclear Tests)

11.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what assurances were given to the Japanese Ambassador on 9th February regarding the danger to Japanese citizens in the event of a nuclear test on Christmas Island.

The Ambassador was assured that all possible precautions would be taken in regard to any nuclear tests to be conducted in the atmosphere in the Christmas Island area.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable concern in Japan about this Christmas Island test? Is he aware that there has been an increase in Strontium 90 in animals and vegetation since the Russian tests? Is not this a splendid opportunity for the Western Powers to show that they are more Christian and civilised than the Russians by announcing that they will abandon these tests?

I saw the reference which the hon. Member made to this point last week. I have made inquiries. We have received no representation from the Japanese Government based on these facts.

Would the Government now be prepared to issue a White Paper showing the effects on plankton and marine animal and vegetable life? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is well known that after tests fish have been found with two, three and more heads in the ocean currents off the coast of Japan? [Laughter.]

On a point of order. Is it in order for some hon. Members opposite to consider that a scientific fact is just a matter for jocularity in the House? This is a matter for civilisation and its future. It is a fact which has been shown to the world by the staff of a ship engaged on scientific research.

We should be in grave difficulty if what hon. Members considered became a point of order.

I have no knowledge of this. I shall be happy to receive any information which the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) can give us.

Nato (Nuclear Warheads)

12.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will request the United States Government to circulate to their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies details of the steps taken to ensure security of nuclear warheads where custody pending use remains with the United States Government.

No, Sir. The North Atlantic Alliance is aware that the security of such nuclear warheads is rigidly enforced and that they remain in the constant physical custody of United States military detachments. Detailed security arrangements are concluded bilaterally between the United States and each North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country concerned. I see no reason to recommend any change.

But has not the Mace already been supplied to Germany? Did not the Minister of Defence on 20th December admit that nuclear warheads are allocated to Germans in N.A.T.O. as they are to the British? Since the warheads in time of emergency must be stored near the missiles, would this not mean that they could be seized and used by German officers?

I am advised that this is definitely not so. There is no question of this happening. The security arrangements are strict and are stringently enforced, and I am sure that they would cover all eventualities.

Is it not the case that the Americans have agreed to hand over custody of nuclear warheads in an emergency?

Central Europe And Africa (Nuclear-Free Zone)

13.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government to propose the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe and Africa, respectively, as part of an agreement on disarmament.

37.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if Her Majesty's Government's representatives in Geneva will support proposals for nuclear-free zones in Central Europe and in Africa.

What is the Government's objection to this proposal? Would not the creation of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe not only ease the tension that exists there, but also provide a system of control and inspection which might well be the first step to an agreement on general and comprehensive disarmament?

No, Sir. I do not think that this is really the way to proceed. The Government do not think that it is readily feasible to eliminate any particular area from the effects of nuclear war. We believe that this can be done effectively only by eliminating these weapons altogether through general and complete disarmament, and that is what we are seeking at the moment.

Whilst we all agree with the objective of general and complete disarmament, may I ask whether it would not be useful to put forward at Geneva a pilot scheme in Central Europe and elsewhere with a view to proceeding to general disarmament later?

All sorts of proposals are being put forward at Geneva, but I do not think that this is one to be put forward for immediate discussion.

Since it is clear from the hon. Gentleman's answer that we are running into great difficulties on the nuclear test ban which raises the whole question of inspection, may I ask, without going into a general disarmament agreement, which we all want to see, whether the hon. Gentleman would not agree that at any rate the Government should encourage the development of agreement on any issues which will lead in the long run to a general disarmament agreement? Does he not feel that this question of a non-nuclear zone might be a very valuable advance while we are trying to create the confidence necessary for wider agreement?

The right hon. Gentleman has a Question on the Order Paper later on the disarmament conference generally. Perhaps replies on this point might come up more readily there. My immediate reaction on this narrow point is that it is not one of the most fruitful avenues of approach.

Vietnam

15.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what action has been taken by the representative of Her Majesty's Government, as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam, following the recent worsening of the situation in South Vietnam.

16.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what action he will now take, as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam, in view of the recent developments in Vietnam and the deterioration in the situation there.

As the House is aware, we have had exchanges of Notes with the Soviet Government. These rest with a Soviet aide mémoire of 17th March, which again urges that the United States should be called upon to cease interfering in South Vietnam. This ignores the United Kingdom proposal that the Soviet Government should deal with the root cause of the trouble by exercising restraint upon the North Vietnamese. As there is clearly no agreement between the two co-Chairmen on the facts of the situation, we must now await a report from the International Control Commission.

Is not this a very serious situation for the whole of South-East Asia, particularly in relation to Laos nearby? Will the hon. Gentleman answer these questions? First, what are British commitments in Vietnam at present? Second, in addition to communications with Russia, has there been any communication sent to America regarding the military aid which America is offering to South Vietnam? Third, will the Government consider recalling the Geneva Conference so that this very grave situation can be discussed in the spirit of the earlier conference at Geneva?

As I said when the matter was last discussed in the House, it is, obviously, a serious situation. I gave the reasons why Her Majesty's Government think that it is serious. In answer to the questions which the hon. Member has put: first, there is no British commitment in South Vietnam. Second, we have had no communication with America in our position as co-Chairman, although, of course, we are in communication with America on these and all matters which affect us. Third, it would hardly be possible to agree on a policy when there is no agreement at all as to the nature of the situation. Therefore, I think that we should await the report from the I.C.C. before any question of recalling the Geneva Conference arises.

Since the Minisster has said that there is no commitment by the British Government in South Vietnam, can he go further and say that that implies that there is no commitment under the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation in Vietnam, and will he assure the House that we shall not interfere in the internal affairs of Vietnam? I endorse the supplementary questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). Will the Minister please approach the American Government to see whether we can, at least in the transition period, bring about a standstill in the movement of troops and military equipment into South Vietnam?

When I said that there was no British commitment in South Vietnam, I was not talking about our obligations under Article 4 of the Manila Treaty.

Whether or not Britain would be required to give assistance under that Article would depend upon the situation at the time. Clearly, I cannot give a categorical assurance at the moment. On the other matter which the hon. Gentleman has raised, the United States has said that if the North Vietnamese will stop their campaign to destroy the Republic of Vietnam the steps which the United States is taking to assist the South Vietnamese in their defence efforts will no longer be necessary.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this country has serious commitments and responsibilities in South Vietnam, and is he aware that, although, no doubt, the interference of North Vietnam is contrary to all principles of co-existence and is a main cause of the crisis there, it is nevertheless the fact that the Americans are being provoked, it seems, beyond the brink of what is sensible in their aid to South Vietnam now, and will he urge on the Americans that they should not go beyond operational military training of troops at the most and should not in any circumstances take part in operations themselves as service men?

I think that the Americans are fully aware of what their responsibilities in that area are. They are there assisting at the moment by reason of a call which came from the South Vietnam Government. If the campaign which is being conducted by the North Vietnamese were to cease, the American intervention would no longer be required.

Is my hon. Friend aware that some of us think that the Americans are doing a great deal to help against very serious Communist penetration in South-East Asia in what they are doing in South Vietnam?

It is quite clear that what is taking place in South Vietnam now is a calculated Communist take-over bid.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House what, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the oppressed and impoverished people of this country are to do while great Powers thousands of miles away play with their fortunes and their future for ideological considerations of their own?

As I have said, I cannot agree with the view frequently expressed in some quarters of the House that what is happening in South Vietnam is the action of an oppressed rebel minority. In fact, it is quite clearly directed and assisted from North Vietnam.

23.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the participation of United States pilots and ground staff in military operations conducted by South Vietnam Government forces against South Vietnam guerrillas, he will, as co-chairman, reconvene the Geneva Conference on Vietnam and propose bringing the situation before the Security Council as a threat to peace.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that American armed intervention in Southern Vietnam, whatever may be the allegations concerning North Vietnam help or otherwise to Southern Vietnam, is contrary to the Charter and might involve us in war? Will not the hon. Gentleman at least give the same warning that Mr. Eden, as he then was, gave to Mr. Dulles over Dienbien-phu, that, if American military action in Vietnam results in war with China, we will dissociate ourselves from such a war and will refuse to be involved in it?

As I have said before, there is no agreement between the two co-Chairmen as to what is the cause of the conflict which is taking place in South Vietnam. In our view, the next step is for the International Control Commission to report to the co-Chairmen.

Non-Nuclear Countries

19.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reply he has given to the official request of U Thant for information on the policy of the British Government towards the General Assembly resolution of 4th December, 1961, calling upon the non-nuclear countries to agree not to produce, acquire or station nuclear weapons on their territories.

21.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reply has been sent by Her Majesty's Government to the letters from the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking Her Majesty's Government to state their response to the Swedish resolution, passed by the United Nations on 4th December, 1961, proposing that non-nuclear countries should not manufacture nuclear weapons or acquire them from the nuclear powers.

I am placing copies of the Secretary-General's letter and of Her Majesty's Government's reply to it in the Library.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this resolution for a non-nuclear club was passed by 58 votes to 10 with the support of four N.A.T.O. members, including Canada? Since the Soviet Union has indicated its readiness to sign a treaty preventing it from passing on nuclear weapons and nuclear "know-how" to its allies, including China, will the British Government seize the magnificent opportunity which this presents to prevent a further spread of nuclear weapons?

I have already explained Her Majesty's Government's attitude on this matter in reply to previous Questions. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman studies the reply, which he will find in the Library.

Does not Her Majesty's Government's insistence on retaining the British independent nuclear deterrent act as a serious obstacle to the creation of a non-nuclear club? Is it not clear that the United States Government are increasingly opposed to Her Majesty's defence policy, as was made clear recently in an article in the semi-official magazine "N.A.T.O.'s Fifteen Nations"?

Whatever is the American Government's attitude to this resolution and whatever is our reply to it, Britain's possession of the nuclear deterrent plays no part in it because it is related to countries which are not at present nuclear Powers. Therefore, I do not think that the question is relevant.

Why was the reply placed in the Library in the first place? Should not it have been published in HANSARD or as a White Paper so that the whole country could see what attitude the Government take? Is not this another case of the kind to which I referred a few minutes ago? If there are grave difficulties about reaching agreement on the major issues, we should do all we can to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh countries. Has the hon. Gentleman and the United States' Government considered what would be involved if countries such as Egypt, Israel, China or even Cuba get nuclear weapons?

First, I should have thought that the way in which we have circulated the reply was adequate. Secondly, Her Majesty's Government supported the Irish resolution, which was opposed to the dissemination of nuclear weapons to additional Powers. That seems to me to meet the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. This is a matter to which my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary referred in his speech at Geneva only last week as one which we fully support.

Thailand

22.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations he had, within the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation arrangements, with the United States Secretary of State before the joint statement of Mr. Dean Rusk and Mr. Thamat Khoman was issued affirming that the United States of America would come, if necessary, to the assistance of Siam even if there were no South-East Asia Treaty Organisation unanimity.

5.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations took place between Her Majesty's Government and the United States authorities in the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation before the declaration by the United States Secretary of State that the United States of America would take immediate military action to assist the Thai Government to resist Communist aggression or subversion without consulting the cosignatories to that treaty.

There is constant consultation between South-East Asia Treaty Organisation members, but these discussions are confidential. The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) has not represented the United States Secretary of State correctly.

Is not this treaty with Thailand one way whereby the United States can circumvent the unanimity provision of the South-East Asia Treaty? Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that, despite any bilateral pacts into which the United States may enter, we will stand by the unanimity provision in the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty?

Article 4 (1) of the Manila Treaty lays an obligation on each signatory, in certain circumstances, to take action in accordance with its constitutional processes. This is an individual as well as a collective responsibility. But if these circumstances should arise S.E.A.T.O. members would presumably act in concert.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the official text issued by the State Department of the assurance given by the United States Secretary of State to the Thailand Foreign Minister contains the following passage:

"The Secretary of State … expressed the firm intention of the United States to aid Thailand, its ally and historic friend, in resisting Communist aggression and subversion. … The Secretary of State reaffirmed that this obligation of the United States does not depend upon the prior agreement of all other parties to the treaty, since this treaty obligation is individual as well as collective."
Does not that mean exactly what my Question states, that the United States reserves to itself military action which might involve us in war without consulting us and without our agreement?

No, Sir. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the words in his Question, he will see that they are quite different from the words which he has just read out. As we see it, there is no conflict between the joint United States-Thailand communiqué and the provisions of the Manila Treaty. Her Majesty's Government welcome the statement and the bilateral discussions which led to it. They will help to strengthen the fabric of collective defence in South-East Asia.

Will my hon. Friend make it clear that this country's support of Thailand's opposition to Communism is no less strong than that of the United States?

While it is understandable, in view of events in Thailand and Laos, that the Thais should be worried about their security, and while I understand that this bilateral agreement has been welcomed by other countries in the area, including Australia, is it not a rather strange procedure that a bilateral agreement of this kind should be made on the main purpose of this Treaty without proper discussion and consultation with the members of the organisation?

If the hon. Gentleman reads what Mr. Rusk said, he will see that he did not say that there would be no consultation with other S.E.A.T.O. members. Nor did he say that the United States would take immediate military action to resist Communist subversion in Thailand, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus). He said that, in the event of Communist armed attack on Thailand, the United States' obligation to take action under the Manila Treaty does not depend on the prior agreement of other parties to the Treaty.

Foreign Policy In Second World War (Publication)

24.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the complete edition of the recent official publication, "British Foreign Policy in the Second World War" by Sir Llewellyn Woodward, will be available at the Foreign Office or other suitable premises for the use of authorised students of history.

Since the United States Government have published their documents, why should we allow the British case to go by default? If we can allow the publication of an abridged edition, why cannot students of history have access to all of the documents, like people in the United States? Is it not ridiculous to issue an abridged edition and then to deprive people of the opportunity to look at the proper edition?

The larger work was compiled for official purposes. One of the reasons why it is considered that it should not be made available to students is that the larger work contains references and quotations from Cabinet discussions which, by custom, are not made available to students until the documents are fifty years old.

Geneva Disarmament Conference

26.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present state of the negotiations at the Geneva Disarmament Conference.

36.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the position reached at the disarmament conference in Geneva.

Since my right honourable Friend the Lord Privy Seal answered a similar Question last Monday, there have been five plenary meetings of the conference, and also four informal meetings, besides meetings of a sub-committee consisting of the delegates of the United Kingdom, United States and the Soviet Union to discuss nuclear tests.

It has been agreed that the conference should pursue in plenary sessions its primary objective of reaching agreement on general and complete disarmament and for this purpose should consider the United States programme of September, 1961, and the Soviet draft treaty of 16th March, 1962, together with any other documents submitted. It has also been agreed that concurrently and without prejudice to this work, a committee of the whole shall consider various proposals of a more limited nature.

The sub-committee on nuclear tests has unfortunately made no progress, because of the Soviet refusal to consider any system based on international verification. That sub-committee is due to meet again today, possibly with the addition of representatives of other States.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in the light of the experience of the last ten days or fortnight, he feels that we are getting near a point at which urgent consideration should be given to Heads of Government attending the conference? Will he take it that both sides of the House would support him in an all-out effort to get a general agreement on disarmament? There is some reason for feeling that going all-out on the question of a test ban, which involves getting over the difficulties of the inspection hurdle for only a limited objective, may possibly not be the most rewarding line on which we should be pressing ahead. Will he give an assurance that the Government are making an all-out effort to get a general disarmament convention?

Yes. On the first part of the question, it would perhaps be most appropriate to await the answer which the Prime Minister will be giving tomorrow. On the second part of the question, I gladly give an assurance that we are doing all we possibly can both in the field of general and complete disarmament and in that of the narrower measures to which the right hon. Gentleman referred earlier this afternoon. We think that these two things can go ahead concurrently.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the problem of nuclear tests. This is proving a real difficulty at the present time. But this surely need not impair our efforts in the general field where we are seeking in every possible way to find areas of agreement at least as a start.

Does the Minister's reference just now to narrower issues raised earlier this afternoon, including a nuclear-free zone and a non-nuclear club, mean that the Government have not closed their mind to these questions as part of what might be a very useful disarmament convention?

Those suggestions to which the right hon. Gentleman refers have been put forward and will undoubtedly come up for discussion. There are a number of other similar measures which I think have hopeful overtones in them. This is the way in which we are seeking to press forward.

What proposals, if any, are the British representatives making on the question of inspection and the gap between the Soviet and American positions about the scope of inspection? Are the British Government supporting the idea for splitting up the areas of inspection into zones, as has been suggested in some quarters?

We are very willing to look at this question of sampling inspection, which was put forward originally at the Pugwash Conference. I have discussed this with certain Russians at the Conference, and I am still hoping to get more of a glimmer of response than I have so far achieved. This is one of the avenues which we are exploring. We are exploring every avenue which will get over the difficulty of the inspection problem.

28.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will publish a White Paper containing the latest disarmament proposals of the United States and Soviet Governments and the official speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the Geneva Disarmament Conference.

A White Paper is in preparation covering the basic documents published before the conference met. In addition, I am placing in the Library copies of the speech delivered on 15th March by the United States Secretary of State, containing proposals for immediate action on disarmament, the draft treaty tabled by the Soviet Delegate on the same day and the speech of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary on 20th March. These papers have also already been made widely available through the Press.

What is the difficulty about adding to the White Paper, which apparently is in preparation, the information asked for in the Question?

It is the practical difficulty that the White Paper is already in hand and that if one seeks to keep holding it up to add additional documents, it will take a considerable time. The question of a subsequent White Paper could well be considered, but I have tried to cover these points in the way in which I have indicated in my reply.

This point was raised in the defence debate about the publication of the daily transactions. Will the Minister consider this again? We welcome the White Paper. Will the Minister consider whether we could not have a daily statement in the Library at any rate of all the important transactions of the conference? They are given by member Governments to the Press. Could not hon. Members have that on a day-to-day basis with the authority of the Government?

The right hon. Gentleman presumably refers to the verbatim daily reports. There is a Question to arise in a moment about that, and I should like to wait for it.

At the end of Questions

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

30.

To ask the Lord Privy Seal what proposals were made by the British delegate concerning the publication of the verbatim record of the United Nations Disarmament Committee now meeting in Geneva; and what arrangements have been made.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of what the Minister said when we were dealing with Question No. 26, may I ask, through you, whether he will now be willing to answer Question No. 30?

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was frustrated, but I am afraid Chat there is no mechanism whereby Question No. 30 can now be answered unless application is made to me.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since the Minister of State rather cut out obvious supplementary questions by saying, when dealing with Question No. 26, that this Question appeared later on the Order Paper, and as it then looked as if we should reach Question No. 30, would it not be in order for the Minister of State now to apply to you for permission to answer the Question?

It is not right to involve the Chair in those matters, although I am afraid that it is from time to time.

Might I have your permission, Mr. Speaker, to reply to Question No. 30, because I feel that I gave rather an indication that I would answer it and by so doing somewhat limited the discussion? The Reply to Question No. 30 is as follows:

It has been agreed at Geneva that the verbatim records of the Conference will be made available for public use as soon as they have been checked, unless otherwise decided. Checking will take about ten days.

I should like to express my gratitude to the Minister of State for his Answer and for all that he is doing about this matter. Might I put it to him that we had the Foreign Secretary's speech the next day in The Times, we had Mr. Dean Rusk's speech three days later from the Embassy and Mr. Gromyko's speech three days later from Soviet News, but we have not had Mr. Unden's speech or the speech of the Indian delegate or other very important speeches? Would it not be more satisfactory to get the secretariat to issue these speeches next day, as it could easily do if it so desired?

There is a difficulty here. At the start of the conference—I wild be quite frank with the House about this—no procedural arrangements were agreed on. Indeed, they could not have been. There were informal discussions in advance. We tried to get agreement on certain matters, and we got the best we could. That resulted in the present form. I would point out that 17 nations were concerned, and we could go only so far as we have gone in this regard. We shall seek to give the maximum information that we can and will try to circulate additional papers in the form I suggested, through the Library.

I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but will he consider whether the secretariat could not do for this vitally important committee what it does for the General Assembly, a much larger body, and get the record ready for the next day? Time is very important in this matter.

There is a distinction here. The Assembly is held in public, but these committee meetings are not, and it was agreed that delegations should have the opportunity to correct speeches before they were finalised for publication. That was the agreement which was reached, and on that I must rest.

Orders Of The Day

West Indies Bill Lords

Order for Second Reading read.

3.33 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purposes of the West Indies Bill, has consented to place Her Majesty's prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

This is not a Bill that any Secretary of State could propose to the House with pleasure. It marks the end of an experiment in government in which many of us placed high hopes. But I believe—and I shall try to put my reasons before the House—that the Measure is necessary and practical in the light of the circumstances we are now facing.

The Federation of the West Indies was inaugurated in April, 1958, and I think that we all felt then that there were many difficulties in this Federation, with its great geographical spread for example, but we hoped that the various islands and their political leaders and political parties would come closer together by being united in a federation.

But, in fact, the opposite has happened. There has been a widening division among the various islands, partly on matters of doctrine with the arguments between those who supported greater centralisation and those who supported less centralisation, and partly—we must face it—on differences of personality that have arisen during the last four years.

There have been a series of conferences on a possible Constitution for independence for the Federation, but they have been time and time again be-devilled by the economic and financial problems—questions of the freedom of movement and of financial and economic power—and although Her Majesty's Government have at all times tried to help these conferences reach agreement, we must, I think, all recognise that on these basic problems of labour, finance and economics there have all the time been deep divisions among the various units of the Federation.

Agreement was reached at Lancaster House, in June last year, at a conference at which my right hon. Friend presided, but by that time it was already known, and had been known for some time, that a referendum was to be held in Jamaica. In fact, it was in May, 1960, that the Jamaica Government announced their intention to hold a referendum, and the whole Lancaster House conference of 1961 was held in the light of that decision and in the knowledge that such a referendum would shortly take place.

Some people, I think, had tended to suggest that we might have objected to or refused the Jamaican proposals to hold a referendum, but, of course, we have no power whatever to do so. It is a self-governing country, and when countries become self-governing they clearly have the right to make decisions of this kind. We did not propose a referendum to the Jamaica Government. It was their initiative and their proposal, and we had no power whatever to refuse.

The result of the referendum, which was held in September of last year, and which produced a majority against federation, was, I think, a disappointment to very many people in this House and elsewhere. But it was a fact that we all had to face and a fact which could not be set on one side. It meant in itself a radical change in the future of the West Indies when one recognised that Jamaica represented more than half the total population of the Federation. The referendum represented a complete change in the position of the Federation.

Shortly after the referendum was held, the Federal Prime Minister, Sir Grantley Adams, and a delegation came to London where they were informed that Her Majesty's Government could not refuse to Jamaica the right to secede, and the Federal delegation neither dissented from that proposition nor asked for further consultation.

The next move was when a delegation from the Government of Jamaica came to this country, and it was announced by my predecessor on 6th October, 1961, that legislation would be introduced to give effect to Jamaica's desire to secede and that we would make every effort to ensure that the legislation passed by the end of March, 1962.

The next stage of the development was in January this year when I paid a visit to Port-of-Spain. At the time of my arrival it was announced by the General Council of the People's National Movement of Trinidad, the Premier's party, that it had decided not to take part in a federation of the Eastern Caribbean territories.

It was generally assumed that this recommendation would be accepted by the party as a whole and by the Trinidad Government. That assumption has, of course, proved to be quite correct, because both the party and the Government of Trinidad have accepted it. It was against that background that I held consultations with other people in the West Indies during my visit.

If it was right in principle—which, personally, I doubt—for Jamaica to hold this referendum and to decide, as a result thereof, to withdraw from the Federation, did my right hon. Friend suggest to the Prime Minister of Trinidad that it would be appropriate, before Trinidad decided to dissociate itself from the Federation, that it, too, should hold a referendum, particularly having regard to the fact that this question had not been an issue at the December elections in the island?

No. I think that my right hon. and learned Friend would agree that, when countries like Jamaica or Trindidad become self-governing, they must decide these matters for themselves. We did not propose a referendum in Jamaica. I do not think that we would have done so, because, on the whole, the use of the referendum is not a system of government we tend to favour in this country. But Jamaica was entitled to hold one, just as the Trinidad Government, having been elected shortly before, were entitled to reach a decision without a referendum. In either case, we must accept the decision presented to us.

In the light both of that and of the discussions with the Premier of Barbados and the Chief Ministers of the other islands—who all said to me without exception that they wished to see the present Federation dissolved and to set about finding a new system for Barbados and the Windward and Leeward Islands—I was presented with a situation in which Jamaica had decided by referendum to secede and the leaders of the Governments of every other unit of the Federation had asked to have the present federal system dissolved. I think that, in the light of those factors, there was clearly no course whatever for us to take other than to dissolve the Federation. It was, as I have said, the unanimous wish of the unit Governments that we should do so.

Some question has been raised as to the speed with which we are acting, and also about consultation. We are accused of acting with undue haste—on the whole, the opposite of what we are usually accused of doing. But, first, we had undertaken to pass through Parliament, by the end of March, if we could, legislation permitting the secession of Jamaica. Secondly, all the Governments I spoke to in Port-of-Spain considered that, once the decision had been taken to dissolve the Federation, the sooner it could be done the better, because the remaining in being of the Federation would only complicate the discussion of future arrangements for whatever new system might be evolved.

It was, therefore, urged on me by everyone except the Federal Government that the action I should take should be as swift as possible. I have mentioned the discussions which took place with the Federal Government delegation after the Jamaican referendum. When I went to Port-of-Spain, the Federal Government were the first people I saw and I discussed the whole problem with them. At the end of my visit, I again discussed the whole problem with them completely frankly and told Sir Grantley Adams and his colleagues exactly what I intended to recommend when I returned to this country. I also explained the timing I proposed and the reasons for moving swiftly.

In referring to Sir Grantley Adams, I should like now to pay tribute to a man whom all of us regard as a person of charm and distinction who has many friends in this country and in this House. I know that the House would wish me to pay that tribute. I would not like it to be thought that I or anyone else thinks otherwise about this very distinguished West Indian.

Logic pointed to the conclusion that the right thing to do in the present situation in the West Indies was to dissolve the present Federation swiftly and then set about consideration of the next step and what the new organisation should be. This Bill has been drafted in that light. It has three purposes.

The first is to provide for secession by the individual territories or, preferably, for dissolution of the Federation. The second is to deal with the future of the existing assets and liabilities of the Federation, including the liabilities for public servants of the Federation, and with the common services at present performed by the Federation for the islands as a whole. The third is to make provision for further groupings among the islands if this should be thought desirable.

I should point out that we do not, in the Bill, provide for the independence of any territory, because it has been a tradition—and I believe it to be a good one—that independence should be provided for by Parliament by a specific and separate Bill.

I turn now to the provisions of the Bill as a whole. Clause 1 gives Her Majesty power by Order in Council to provide for secession or the dissolution of the Federation. I have said that I believe, having heard the views of the unit Governments, that the right course is to proceed by dissolving the Federation. That we will propose to do if we are given powers embodied in this Bill.

Clause 2 deals with the assets of the Federation and the common services. What we have in mind is that the future of these assets and of these common services must be settled by agreement among the various parties—Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and the other islands. We envisage holding a conference some time in the summer, possibly in July, at which the long-term future of these various common services will be determined.

Of course, some of them are very important indeed. I do not think that the university is probably properly described as a common service. It has a special position, and I think that the House would attribute special importance to its maintenance. It was my impression in the West Indies that everyone shared that point of view. Certain services like shipping, the meteorological service, and the advisory service must be continued in a different guise under the new set-up.

We therefore feel that there should be a conference at some time in the summer to work out the long-term future of these things, but, in the meantime, there is need for someone to act, as it were, as trustee or liquidator, taking over the assets and holding them and the common services pending a decision by the conference. Clause 2 therefore provides that the assets of the Federation shall vest in a Commission or Commissioner appointed by Her Majesty's Government and that he shall also carry on the common services as trustee until it has been decided by general agreement—which will take some time—what their long-term destiny should be.

What does my right hon. Friend envisage as the future of the office of the Governor-General of the Federation? The present Governor-General has rendered services of very great distinction to the West Indies. Does my right hon. Friend envisage replacing his office by that of a Commissioner-General or something similar?

I would like to pay a sincere tribute to the Governor-General. I was very much impressed, in my short visit to Trinidad, by the position he has established there, and by the widespread friendship and understanding that he has with all people in the West Indies. But once the Federation is dissolved the office of Governor-General will disappear automatically as part of the process.

We must hope, I imagine, that some form of co-operation will continue amongst these islands. Would it not, therefore, be helpful to replace the post of Governor-General by somebody with an overall authority, perhaps with the title of Commissioner-General? Is it not necessary to have someone in the West Indies with responsibility extending beyond Trinidad?

I agree that we want the maximum co-operation among the islands. However, we will have a situation in which Jamaica, for example, after August will be an independent country. The co-operation will be between independent Jamaica and Trinidad, moving towards independence, and possibly a federation of the Eight. I do not know, but whatever form of co-operation evolves, it would not be appropriate to have a Governor-General, or representative of Her Majesty, at the head, because there would be a mixture of dependent and independent territories. The situation will be very different from what it now is.

Clause 3 deals with the payment of compensation. I attach great importance to ensuring that the public servants of the Federation are properly treated and properly compensated. The first charge upon the existing assets of the Federation should certainly be a compensation scheme for these public servants.

Clause 4 provides for the establishment of a new Court of Appeal in place of the Federal Supreme Court.

Clause 5 provides powers for the governing of individual Colonies, and I should like to explain what lies behind this Clause and the powers which we are seeking. I should like, first, to repeat the assurance which has already been given—that it is not our intention in any way to derogate or reduce the powers of the territories already enjoying full internal self-government. Clearly, we would not contemplate anything of that kind. But there are several purposes which we have in mind in Clause 5.

The first is the possibility of providing a written constitution for Barbados. The new Premier of Barbados, who is an outstanding figure in the West Indies, has told me that his Government may ask us to provide it with a written constitution, and we need the necessary powers from Parliament to be able to do that.

Is that a serious intention of Barbados? Barbados has always enjoyed the prestige of a charter which goes back more than 300 years and which it has always jealously safeguarded against any representations from the Government here for any modification or change. Is it now suggested that the Barbados Government are quite prepared to tear up that charter and have a written constitution in its place?

It is not a question of Barbados being prepared. This was not an initiative on our part. The new Government of Barbados are contemplating asking us to provide it with a written constitution—I believe that this was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, but it is certainly public policy of the party. The Premier told me that he would be asking us in such a situation, and all we are taking is power to meet that request, if it is made. The clause also contains some technical arrangement which we have to make for the Jamaica Independence Bill, and there is the third purpose which is financial and which I should like to explain to the House.

With the dissolution of the Federation, the powers which the Federation now has of supervising the use of grant in aid from this country will disappear. I am very anxious that we should have adequate powers to ensure that the substantial moneys which Parliament grants to these territories are properly used. I think that we must have these powers, and, in the face of the dissolution of the Federation we would not have them unless some provision of this kind were made.

I must say quite frankly that I have been very disturbed recently by the inadequate levels of financial administration which have appeared in some of the unit territories, and it is only right that, when Parliament votes money for these territories, the Government should have adequate powers to ensure that these moneys are properly used. That is one of the reasons which underlies the Clause.

Clause 6, the last substantial Clause, provides powers to form new associations within the area. The House will have observed that in such a case it is provided that there should be an affirmative Resolution before any such provision is made effective. What is very much in everyone's mind, of course, is the proposal for a federation of Barbados, the Leeward and Windward Islands. I should like to repeat what I have said on previous occasions—that we regard this proposal as very promising, although one to be examined with considerable care.

There was a recent conference of the eight Governments and they have been good enough to send me a substantial memorandum, setting out their detailed proposals for a new federation, which I am urgently examining. I agree that there is a need for speed in these matters and the possibility of an early conference of the unit Governments is something which we should have in mind if we decide to proceed on these lines.

On the other hand, I am anxious to proceed with a due amount of caution. We should not be wise to rush into a new federation unless we were fairly confident that it would be well founded. The questions which we should have in mind are whether there would be adequate central organisation, particularly for economic and financial matters, and whether we can avoid excessive machinery of government. These eight islands comprise a land area of less than Shropshire or Wiltshire and with a population less than that of Hertfordshire. To have eight separate chief ministers and eight separate legislatures and eight separate cabinets seems to be a rather substantial amount of government, and a rather expensive amount of government, for such an area; and that is something which needs to be carefully considered before we reach a final conclusion.

It is also of great importance to study in some detail the financial viability of such a new association. I am indebted to the eight Governments and to Professor Lewis, that very distinguished West Indian, who has had a lot to do with advising them on these matters, for the advice which they have given me on making these units of the Eight an organisation which can stand on its own feet, free of financial dependence on this or any other country. I am examining that with, obviously, considerable sympathy, but these things must be carefully examined before any decision in principle about a federation of the Eight can be reached. However, I should like to repeat that in these conditions this seems to us to be a very promising idea and Her Majesty's Government certainly have no wish to stand in the way of such a development, if it can be shown to our satisfaction to be in the best interests of the islands as a whole.

I have endeavoured to set out the background which has led to the production of the Bill and to explain in broad terms its purposes and the purposes which we are seeking in it. As I said in the beginning, it is a sad occasion to see the end, as it must be, of this experiment in government. But this is an occasion for us to be practical and realistic and to move swiftly to try to lay a foundation for a future about which no one need feel pessimistic.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say a few words about Clause 4 (6), which deals with the abolition of the West Indian Court of Appeal? How does that affect the former jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council? Formerly, the ultimate court of appeal from the courts was to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. A West Indian Court of Appeal was then set up. By Clause 4 (6) that West Indian Court of Appeal is now to be abolished. What happens to what was the appellate jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in this respect?

I must ask my hon. Friend to give a detailed reply to that in winding up the debate. I think that the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) will find that this provision is mainly formal and not substantially important.

3.58 p.m.

I think that all of us will sympathise with the Colonial Secretary in what was clearly a disagreeable and melancholy task. He told us that we have to wipe the slate clean of an experiment which was certainly hopeful, but which proved to be over-ambitious.

All of us regret the need for the Bill. Most of us think that it is still true that the British territories of the West Indies could best achieve prosperity and political stability by forming some form of union or association. Indeed, it is difficult to see a long-term future for some of them unless they can become members of a larger whole. But we must also agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there was no alternative to a Bill roughly of this nature once the result of the referendum in Jamaica was known.

I confess that the right hon. Gentleman's argument that it was not possible for Her Majesty's Government to prevent the Jamaican Government from holding this referendum must be taken very seriously. But now that this decision has been taken we have a duty to give the remaining territories in the West Indies the best possible chance of survival, and I confess that many of us on this side of the House, and possibly some hon. Gentlemen opposite, feel rather unhappy about the way in which Her Majesty's Government have handled the situation since the referendum in Jamaica, and about some of the things in the Bill itself.

I think that the fundamental uneasiness we feel is due to the fact that Her Majesty's Government are choosing now to destroy everything which does exist in the form of co-operation between the individual territories without first seeking to achieve any agreement among the unit Governments concerned about what to put in its place. I would not go so far as to accuse the Government of indecent haste, but it seems to me that to act simply on a rapid examination of the wishes of the independent unit Governments is not adequate in these circumstances. Indeed, this offers an extraordinary contrast with the Government's behaviour in a similar situation which has developed in the Central African Federation.

There, after all, Her Majesty's Government refused until recently to concede even the right of secession, even after the views of the majority of the local inhabitants had been made crystal clear. And even now, when they are prepared to consider the right of secession in principle, they have made it clear that they are not going to concede this right in practice without first having a full discussion among all concerned about the alternatives to the Central African Federation in its present form.

The Government have shown what many of us regard as even excessive concern for the views of the Federal Government as distinct from the views of the Governments in the three separate States of the Central African Federation. This is in astonishing, and if not wholly inexplicable, certainly illogical, contrast with the Government's behaviour over the West Indian Federation, because here there has been no attempt by the Government at an initiative to preserve what all of us regard as an extremely hopeful, desirable, and even perhaps necessary, form of co-operation between a number of territories for which we are still responsible, and there has been very little attempt to preserve even the form of consultation with the Federal Prime Minister of the West Indian Federation

We must accept the statement of the Secretary of State—and I know that it is true—that when he was in the West Indies in January he made it clear to Sir Grantley Adams that it was his intention to introduce a Bill providing for the dissolution of the Federation. Indeed, he told Parliament this when he made a statement on his visit a month ago, but it still remains true that neither Sir Grantley, nor, so far as I have been able to discover, any of the unit Governments in the West Indies, actually had a chance to see the Bill before it was published.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether consultation means any thing in the Commonwealth if it is simply confined to the Government making a general statement of intention and then publishing a Bill without any attempt to find out whether those immediately concerned by its operation consider that the form it has taken is a suitable one. So far as I have been able to discover, nobody in the West Indies had a chance to comment on the draft which is now before the House before it was presented to the House of Lords.

Sir Grantley did not even hear about it until he arrived at London Airport, and I am sure that a great deal of the alarm and suspicion which was created in the West Indies by the publication of the Bill could have been avoided if the right hon. Gentleman had sent drafts of the Bill to the unit Governments and to the Federal Government in advance, and had explained to the Governments concerned some of the things which had been dragged out of the Minister of State for the Colonies in another place, and which the Secretary of State has confirmed this afternoon.

The right hon. Gentleman knows, for example, that when the Bill was first published and first heard of in the West Indies everybody believed that the Government had in mind somehow or other to return many of these territories to some sort of Crown Colony status. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if this matter had been handled properly, if there had been the sort of consultation which I think we have the right to expect as natural and regular in cases like this, this alarm and suspicion would not have been created, and that a great deal of the prejudice which has now developed in the West Indies against some of the elements in the Bill could have been avoided.

I was extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the sincere tribute that he paid to Sir Grantley Adams, a leading Commonwealth statesman, but it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman, by his treatment of Sir Grantley, added a little insult to injury. After all, we had this extraordinary business of the Prime Minister of a Federation which is still recognised by Her Majesty's Government, who was coming here as a result of a resolution of the Federal Parliament, arriving at the airport with no representative of Her Majesty's Government to greet him. This was extraordinary, and, I think, almost unprecedented.

I accept that that was an error, for which I personally apologise to Sir Grantley.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that, and perhaps it will do something to wipe out the most unfortunate impression created on Sir Grantley.

We also had the fact that it was several days after his arrival before he was even clear that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to see him. Though I recognise the extremely heavy commitments of the right hon. Gentleman during that week, it was almost a week after Sir Grantley arrived before he saw the Minister whom he had come to see.

I should like to echo the tribute paid by the right hon. Gentleman to Sir Grantley. For many years he has been one of the leading statesmen of the Commonwealth; a man with a long record of loyal service to the Crown; a man who has spent his life in the service of the people of the West Indies, and in the service of British people too. It seems to me a most unhappy contrast between the treatment accorded to Sir Grantley and the treatment which has been consistently accorded to his opposite number from Central Africa when he chooses to appear in this country as an uninvited guest. I cannot help wondering whether the real explanation for the contrast is not the simple and unfortunate fact that Sir Grantley did not threaten to use force to keep the Federation together, and that he did not have a posse of Conservative vigilantes at his beck and call.

The fact is, and the right hon. Gentleman must be aware of this, that Her Majesty's Government had already given to many people in the West Indies an impression of bored indifference to their opinion by their conduct over the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. We know this to be the case because leading West Indian statesmen have said so in so many words. I cannot help feeling that in some respects this impression must have been reinforced by the rather offhand way in which the Government introduced this Bill, and yet hon. Members on both sides of the House know that there is no part of our Commonwealth to which we in Britain owe a greater obligation.

As has been so often said in this House, most of the people there were taken there by us either as slaves from Africa to work on the plantations, or as indentured labour from Asia, and have always in recent years been distinguished by their exceptional loyalty to this country. They all feel themselves British, and describe themselves as British.

Against that background, I cannot understand why, after the unfortunate result of the Jamaican referendum, the right hon. Gentleman did not call a limited federal review conference. Why not at least bring Trinidad and the small islands together to discuss what the future should be? It was well known that the form of the Federation before the Jamaican referendum was to some extent enforced by the conditions which Jamaica set, but might it not have been at least possible, if the right hon. Gentleman had called the Governments of the unit territories together last autumn, that something might have been saved out of the wreckage?

Why, again, have the Government still taken no initiative to save such regional co-operation as is represented by the common services? The first collective consultation, so far as the Government have been able to tell us, will perhaps be some time this summer—practically a year after the referendum in Jamaica. So far as we were able to understand from the Colonial Secretary this afternoon, and from what the Minister of State has said in another place, this collective consultation—the first for almost a year after the referendum in Jamaica made it clear that the Federation could not continue in its present form—would be limited to the common services.

I agree that the Colonial Office has drifted in connection with the West Indies position, but would it have been possible to hold a consultation of the kind recommended in the autumn of last year? Dr. Williams said that he had no intention of discussing the question of federation until his own elections were out of the way in December.

I do not know whether or not it would have been possible. If that was a reason for some delay the Government should have called a conference the moment the Trinidad elections were over. The future of the Federation was not an issue in the Trinidad elections. If this was a major obstacle to the holding of an earlier conference, it does not seem to have been a very decisive one.

The fact that we are giving a blank cheque to the Government in passing the Bill would worry us much less if the Colonial Secretary or some other Government spokesman had given us some idea of what was in his mind. The blank cheque is worrying because it seems to reflect a blank mind. Since the Jamaican referendum made it clear that the Federation could not survive we have had no indication from Government statements which would give us any clue as to their idea about the future of the territories for which they are still responsible.

Clause 6 aroused alarm and suspicion in the West Indies, because it was held to foreshadow a return to Crown Colony status for some of the territories. The Colonial Secretary has cleared that point up, but it is unfortunate that it was not cleared up when the Bill was originally published. This could have been avoided if normal consultations had taken place before the Bill was published.

I want to sound the Government's mind on some of the major issues which lie in front of them, the House and the West Indies now that federation in its old form is to disappear. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), in winding up for the Opposition, will deal with the most important problems of economic aid, on which the Colonial Secretary rightly said that the future survival of these islands will to a large degree depend, and he will also say something about the question of pensions for those federal civil servants who will, unfortunately, find themselves unemployed.

I warn the Joint Under-Secretary that we will want to know whether the Government are to make the normal contribution of 50 per cent. towards the pensions of those federal civil servants who find themselves unemployed as a result of the passage of the Bill.

When the Colonial Secretary made his statement in February it was clear that to hon. Members on both sides of the House the most urgent and important single issue created by the dissolution of the Federation was the future of the common services. The common services—the two Canadian ships, meteorological services and the advisory services, and also the university—will constitute the only tangible sign that there is a degree of community of interest among these territories which once belonged to the Federation. We would all agree that if we can build up and develop these common services we may succeed in creating a new basis of common interest among the territories concerned on which some new and more viable association may be built.

I cannot understand why, among the membership of this provisional holding company—as it might be called—which the Government are setting up to run the common services there are no representatives from unit Governments. When this question was discussed in another place, the Government spokesman argued that this was an extremely temporary provision and that it was hoped to produce a long-term arrangement very quickly. If this is the case, surely it is not necessary for the Government also to include in the Bill a provision for raising money for this holding authority from the unit Governments.

Her Majesty's Government cannot have it both ways. If they believe that the scope and duration of this proposed authority is such as possibly to require financial contributions from the unit Governments, it would seem, on the basic principle of "no taxation without representation"—if on no other political principle—that the Government should be prepared to have some representation of the unit Governments on the common authority.

I cannot help feeling that this is one of several issues on which it would have been wise for the Government to have had negotiations with the unit Governments in the Federation before dissolving it. Surely they have to some extent weakened their bargaining power with the unit Governments by giving to the most important Governments—Jamaica and Trinidad—all they wanted in the way of independence before getting any solid assurances as to their future contributions to the less fortunate members of the old Federation.

Nevertheless, we are all glad to read of the Prime Minister of Jamaica's assurances that Jamaica, as an independent country, will not ignore the interest of her sister islands—I believe that he referred to them as "her poorer sisters". I hope that this will equally be the case with Trinidad. But I think that we should have been wiser to have had a more statutory and juridical obligation accepted by the independent States of the West Indies before proceeding with the dissolution of the Federation.

It is a little hard for the hon. Gentleman to say that we should have made provision for the less fortunate territories in connection with Jamaica's wanting to be independent and, in the same breath, to say that he is glad to see that the Government of Jamaica have undertaken to do precisely that.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica gave assurances in the most general terms. In fact, nobody has as yet discussed in detail how the common services are to be run in the future, and what contribution the various unit Governments will make towards their operation. It would seem to have been wiser if the Colonial Secretary, before going all the way on these other issues, had at least obtained a rather more solid framework for the future of the common services than he was able to offer the House this afternoon.

I want to ask the Colonial Secretary a few questions about the future of the other islands. Most hon. Members will regret the decision of the Trinidad Government as much as we regret the decision of the people of Jamaica, but is it still absolutely out of the question that some form of association may be established between Trinidad and the other islands of the Eastern Carribean? If the fact that there is still some possibility of this is one of the reasons why the Colonial Secretary has been so unusually coy about the federation of the little Bight on this occasion, we would applaud his modesty.

Some of the early reactions of the Governments of the small islands towards Dr. Williams's offer of membership of a unitary State with Trinidad—I think I am right in mentioning the Governments both of St. Kitts and Grenada in this respect—suggest that there is still some flexibility in the situation, and if this flexibility is there it should be used to the fullest extent by Her Majesty's Government in any negotiations which follow.

What the right hon. Gentleman said about the federation of the little Eight seemed highly reasonable. We would all wish these countries to work together as closely as possible, but we have doubts whether it is possible for them to carry the institutional paraphernalia of full federation. There is no doubt that a federation of the little Eight could scarcely be economically viable without a guarantee of long-term economic assistance from some foreign country or other. There is a danger that if such a federation were formed, some of its members might decide, in time, to opt out of the federation and associate with Trinidad, leaving a federation of the little Five or the little Four, which would have even less chance of survival than the Federation already proposed.

This takes us to the far broader question of what we shall do with our remaining colonial responsibilities in the West Atlantic and the Caribbean area. We have not only the countries which have already stated that they want to join the federation of the little Eight; we have the Virgin Islands, whose future is referred to in the Bill, the Turk Islands, the Caicos Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, and even Bermuda, British Guiana and British Honduras on the mainland, all with a very uncertain future and yet, somehow or other, we have to see whether they can be included in a larger economic or political unit. This seems typical of the most formidable problems which future Colonial Secretaries of State will have to deal with.

I went through the list of territories still under the right hon. Gentleman's control, which he thoughtfully provided us with a fortnight ago, and I noticed that of the 45 Colonies under British responsibility, only eight have a population of over 1 million. Of those eight, six will be independent by the end of next year. By the end of next year we shall probably have 37 Colonial Territories all with populations of under 1 million, and 20 with populations of under 100,000.

It seems to me that the time has certainly come when we should have some really hard thinking on both sides of the House—I do not blame the Government particularly about this—about what we are to do with these remaining territories, most of which will find it absolutely impossible to survive as independent States, and some of which may be in areas of great strategic importance and may, therefore, before long become the subject of very dangerous take-over bids from one great Power or another. It would be helpful if the Government could tell us about their ideas on this question, if only in relation to the future of the smaller islands in the Caribbean, some of which are directly concerned with the Bill.

It seems to me that either we shall have to find for these islands some entirely new status as members of the Commonwealth—some new form of Dominion—or encourage them to associate themselves with their regional neighbours even if those neighbours are outside the Commonwealth, as, I understand, we are already doing in the case of Gambia with Senegal. In this respect, it would be helpful if the Government could say what proposals they have to revitalise the Caribbean Commission.

This Commission was set up almost exactly twenty years ago. It did a great deal of useful work during the Second World War, but it has been rather moribund during the last ten years. It seems to me that in the context of the collapse of the Federation there is a very strong case for some British initiative to try to revive it. I hope that there will be no dog-in-the-manger attitude on the part of Her Majesty's Government in this respect. If it proves impossible for us to do what we would wish for these islands, I think that there is everything to be said for encouraging our friends to join us in trying to help them.

I come to my final point. We tend always to discuss the problems of the West Indies—in the main, rightly so—as a problem of British colonial policy, but in a few months' time Jamaica will be a new independent State in the Caribbean. A little later, perhaps, Trinidad will also be a new independent State. It is time that we began thinking about the West Indies as part of the general problem of the Caribbean and of Central America.

This is an area which is of major concern to the United States of America and in which, possibly, Canada rather than Great Britain is likely, in the long run, to be the most influential member of the Commonwealth. It seems to me that we need now, at any rate, when the Federation is collapsing, to try to engage the interests of the United States Government rather more directly than we have done in the past. Some of the individual territories, like Jamaica, have already tried to make economic agreements with the United States.

There is the big American contribution to the Federal Development Loan. Incidentally, I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us later what will happen to this United States contribution if the Federation itself is to be dissolved. It seems to me that the climate in Washington at the present time is particularly fruitful to negotiation and consultation on this between ourselves and the Americans. It is not only that the Americans are deeply concerned, some of them perhaps are over-concerned, with the menace of Castroism in Cuba, but also, I think, that they recognise, in general, the need for progressive and stable Governments in Central and South America, Governments which can command widespread popular support and Governments exactly like the Government that we have in Jamaica at present, Governments for which there are very few parallels, unfortunately, in the case of the Southern part of the Western Hemisphere.

It seems to me that Governments like the present Government of Jamaica and Trinidad are natural candidates for membership of the Alliance of Progress. One of the things we might do for these islands in the concluding years of our responsibility for them is to introduce them into some fruitful and long-term relationship with their great continental neighbour.

We might do something in respect of Canada. I think that the Colonial Secretary will be as glad as I am at the growing interest Canada has shown in the future of the West Indies. There has been the gift of two ships—one of the major physical assets in the common services that we have been discussing today. I believe that there is talk in Canada, although not in official circles, of making the Bahamas a new maritime province. Here, too, is a case for a British initiative to see whether we cannot produce an international context in the Caribbean more favourable to the survival of these countries than the existing one.

I believe that the Government could initiate discussions quickly on this and also, possibly, discussions with the Commonwealth as a whole to find out whether there is some possibility of a joint Commonwealth contribution to the future of the British West Indian Colonies when they move towards independence.

I have tried to make some constructive suggestions about the future of the West Indies, and I regret if, in the course of doing so, I have been so critical of Her Majesty's Government, but I think that the criticisms that I have expressed reflect a very widespread feeling in the West Indies.

I ask the Colonial Secretary to believe me when I say that my criticisms have nothing to do with party politics. I believe that this is a widespread feeling among all people who have the welfare of the West Indies at heart. I do not feel that in making these criticisms I am attacking the Colonial Secretary personally. I think that the major part of the responsibility for what has gone wrong here, as in Central Africa, lies with the present Leader of the House. In the West Indies, as in Central Africa, he really left the mess—maybe not of his own choice at that particular time—which the present Colonial Secretary has to clear up.

I cannot avoid the impression that one reason for the inertia of Her Majesty's Government lies either in the machinery of the Colonial Office or the machinery of government itself. It seems to us, from the outside, at any rate—and I hope that the Under-Secretary will reassure me on this point if I am wrong—that the Government's machinery is incapable of dealing with more than one or two colonial problems at once.

One of the reasons for the lack of initiative by Her Majesty's Government in the West Indies has been the preoccupation of the Colonial Office with more urgent and perhaps more dangerous problems in Africa and other parts of the world. I cannot feel that this type of overloading of the present machinery will be met by improvisations like giving the responsibility for Central Africa to a Minister who is already responsible for the Home Office and the Common Market.

I do not think that it is enough simply to wait until we can reach Question 9 on the Colonial Office agenda. The problem will not wait. This sort of delay might mean at best the missing of a real opportunity to exert a constructive influence on the problem. At worst, it might lead to a cycle of violence, making it impossible even to impose a solution.

As I said at the beginning, hon. Members on this side of the House feel that the Bill is justified only if it means that the Government are wiping clean the slate of the Federation in order to take an immediate and positive initiative themselves. I hope that in his reply the Under-Secretary will be able to give some hope that this is the case.

4.30 p.m.

The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) ended what I thought a most reasonable speech by suggesting that some of the blame for what is happening in the West Indies rests on the shoulders of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I wish to say—particularly as I have not always agreed with the policy of my right hon. Friend—that in my opinion one of the troubles has been the terrific overloading of the Colonial Office, where decisions have had to be made on all sorts of problems in the Commonwealth.

Various countries have pressed for decisions. Some of them, I regret to say, have been encouraged by a number of the hon. Friends of the hon. Member for Leeds, East, although those hon. Members are not at present in the Chamber. This has added to the burden which the Colonial Office has had to carry. I do not think that any Government Department could have had a harder task than the Colonial Office has had during the last four or five years. A terrific pace has been generated by the emergence of nationalistic movements in all parts of the world, some of which have proved more destructive than constructive.

This is a sad occasion. As was said by my right hon. Friend, no one can say that he welcomes the Bill. It is a regrettable necessity. After all, the West Indies is the oldest part of the Commonwealth. Jamaica and Barbados have a Commonwealth history extending over 300 years. What is more important is the fact that the West Indies is a non-racial part of the Commonwealth, at least so far as Europeans are concerned.

There are racial problems regarding the Indians in Trinidad and in British Guiana which still produce tensions, but from the point of view of Europeans versus Africans there exists no tension at all. This is due largely to the fact that we have been in charge of these parts of the world for so long compared with the time for which we have been responsible for parts of Africa.

I take it that in the case of Jamaica and the referendum there is no analogy with Western Australia, which has been quoted as an example of a course which might have been followed. Western Australia was never an independent State, and, therefore, presumably, its referendum could be disregarded. Jamaica is in a different category. I should be grateful if my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary would deal with that in his reply.

It is strange that the Prime Minister of Trinidad did not make the question of the secession an issue during the recent general election. It seems extraordinary that when such an issue is imminent, and the country is having a general election, it should be completely ignored until after the election, and that then, without authority, the Prime Minister and the Government should decide to secede. It seems an unusual course to adopt. One would think that it would have been made an issue at the election, when the Government—as did the Prime Minister of Jamaica—could have received and respected the decision of the people. However, that was not the case. I take it from what my right hon. Friend has said that there is no method by which constitutionally we could question that decision. Nevertheless, I consider it highly regrettable.

Like the hon. Member for Leeds, East, I hope that a system will be created eventually for the continuance of the little Eight. It would be disastrous were they to be left on their own. I think that some kind of unitary strength is the obvious solution, and if that can be achieved in combination with Trinidad it would be all the better. I hope that the Government will be bold in this matter and give a lead in the direction which they consider the best. If there is one criticism which might come from the country about the present Government it is that sometimes they are rather nervous in giving a lead. Therefore, I urge my right hon. Friends to consider the point carefully.

In my opinion, a form of unitary State with Trinidad at the head would be the best solution for Trinidad and for the remaining eight, and I hope that the Government will not hesitate to put forward that view and to impress it on the politicians of those territories. It seems to me that it would be a complete waste and a top-heavy system to have, as it were, a federation of eight countries with a central Government and eight legislatures and eight independent governors. That would involve a colossal expense, particularly for some of the smaller members, and I hope that that will be borne in mind by my right hon. Friend.

I agree that a problem is coming up—in fact, it has already come up—regarding the final solution in respect of some of the smaller Commonwealth territories. This problem arrived on 1st January of this year when New Zealand gave independence to Western Samoa, an island with a population of just over 100,000. Incidentally, it is a little ironical that such a country can have what is, presumably, complete independence within the Commonwealth when there are many Greater London boroughs with populations nearly twice as big which are not to have municipal independence. However, I should be ruled out of order were I to pursue that point further.

I wish to support what was said by my right hon. Friend about Sir Grantley Adams. I also hope that some means will be found for the West Indies as a whole to continue with the Mission that has been in London ever since the Federation came into being, with its excellent head, Sir James Gordon.

My lay mind finds Clause 1 (2) of the Bill completely unintelligible. It may be that lay minds which are much more expert than my own can arrive at a solution. But I find it difficult to follow and I hope that my hon. Friend will explain it more fully. I hope also that he will tell the House how many public servants of the Federation are involved and how many will find themselves out of office as a result of the dissolution. I agree that we must see that these people do not suffer in any way. I hope that they will be absorbed into whatever unitary or federal government may be formed.

It was suggested that the United States might be interested in the Caribbean territories. I prefer that we should concentrate on the Canadians rather than the Americans. There is a great deal of trade between Canada and the West Indies and I should like to see Canada rather than the United States in the position of a "mother country" to the West Indies. In one respect the United States have been far from helpful, although when the Federation came into being the Americans asked in what way they could be of help.

I refer to the market for products such as citrus. Time and again the Americans have pressed for the ending of restrictions on the importation of citrus into this country from the dollar area and that could be only to the detriment of the West Indies. I give Her Majesty's Government credit for having fought this proposal as hard as possible, and so far with a considerable amount of success. The free entry of American citrus into this country might be described as paving the way for the complete ruin of the citrus industry in the West Indies.

We must not try to ingratiate ourselves with the United States, but with Canada, by all means, I sincerely hope that this will happen. I think that we shall have to struggle with the United States over this battle for the ending of discrimination if we are to preserve the citrus industry of the West Indies. I hope that this trade aspect will be borne carefully in mind. We must not damage an area where there is considerably high unemployment through any further weakening of Commonwealth preference, or of quotas or whatever restrictions there are on imports of the dollar area. I hope that a solution will be found to this problem to the benefit of the nine other countries concerned and that it will bring unity and prosperity to that area.

4.41 p.m.

I suppose that of all hon. Members I am the most grieved at the necessity for this Bill. I deplore the break-up of the Federation. At no time have I regarded it as an over-ambitious experiment.

My interest in the West Indies goes back well before the war. I certainly did something to try to secure the famous Royal Commission which studied the social and economic problems of the West Indies. I also helped, through colonial development and welfare schemes, the subsequent developments which took place. I had the great honour and privilege of presiding over the famous Montego Bay Conference, in 1947, when the conception of Federation received an enormous impetus and the various Governments of the West Indies set to work to find how this constructive idea could be brought into operation.

I did not initiate that conference without the legislative councils of the respective Colonies themselves considering most thoroughly the proposal of federation. What transpired was as a result of their quiet deliberations in their respective territories and was the answer to the felt need for some corporate body to carry forward the progress of the West Indies. It should be appreciated that the Federation was born largely because for a long time there had been the necessity for close consultation and association between the territories. It was born because it was felt that there should be established certain common services.

The university college had been founded at the end of the war. There had been certain technical services developing under the Stockdale group of advisers. There was also the need for other services—meteorological, defence, post, etc. All this work was going on, creating in the minds of those statesmen and others working in the West Indies a feeling of necessity for an organisation which could function as a whole and supervise and develop the services obviously necessary.

There was a further thought which at that time was of great significance. The individual territories felt that of themselves they could never become fully independent. The only way to reach a viable status and to exercise genuine responsibility was by coming together in the form of a Federation and thereby securing Dominion status. It may be that conditions in the world have altered since, but the fact was that this was an expressed wish and the Federation was the answer to a felt desire. Like all federations, there were obvious difficulties as to how such a thing could be devised and it was recognised that once it was established there must be considerable strains.

The difficulties of building up a Federation, I repeat, were fully appreciated. There were the variety of territories forming the British Colonies, the distances between the islands, the dif- ferences, sometimes in language, and of peoples, the difficulties of communication, transport and fiscal arrangements. All these factors were fully known. They were not burked. It was understood when the idea was formulated that the Federation must tackle these problems in the hope that more of a corporate spirit could be allowed to develop.

This Federation was a free coming together. It was not something that was imposed on these colonies by the imperial Power. It was recognised as necessary and Britain gave all the aid she possibly could in the formulation of the plans in building up the Federation. I wish to pay tribute to the early work of people like Sir Thomas Lloyd, Sir George Seel, Sir Hubert Rance and Sir Frank Stockdale and those other civil servants who worked very hard for the success of the project.

So today, there is a Parliament, a Cabinet, a Prime Minister, a Governor-General and a capital. Now we must face the collapse of all this which has been built up over the years. In the formulation there have been many great efforts at compromise. One has watched with anxiety the various conferences which have taken place but not until, I believe, May of 1960, was the announcement made by Jamaica which threatened the whole of the work. That Government announced that a plebiscite would be held. The consequences at the time could not be altogether foreseen.

I would not attach blame to Her Majesty's Government for permitting a plebiscite. As the Secretary of State has pointed out, the British Government had no option but to allow the plebiscite to go forward. They were conscious of the calamity which might overtake the Federation if the plebiscite went against the continuance of Jamaica in the Federation. Her Majesty's Government, in one of their official statements after the conference in 1960, issued a warning that there should be caution in the West Indies because there were grave dangers if such a plebiscite were to result in a decision at the expense of the Federation.

I am a little critical about whether, once it was known that the plebiscite would be taken, Her Majesty's Government engaged in the fullest possible consultation with the other Governments which would be affected should it happen that the plebiscite brought the result which it subsequently did. The consultations might have been wider because Her Majesty's Government were aware of the dangers confronting the Federation if the plebiscite gave a vote for Jamaica to pull out.

I must point out that it was known, in May, 1960, that there was to be a referendum in Jamaica and that for much of 1961 we were sitting either in the West Indies or in Lancaster House fully aware of this threat to our deliberations.

I am arguing that Her Majesty's Government having become aware that such a plebiscite might result in Jamaica pulling out from the Federation, further consultation should have been taken, as for instance, what would happen to the common services and the position of the respective islands in that event. I must leave that point, but I reiterate that I regret that consultation at that time was, in my judgment, altogether inadequate.

The impression was created in the outside world that there was a capitulation to the demands of Jamaica instead of there having been an effort to try to modify her course of action. I deplore the personal antagonisms which, apparently, existed in the West Indies among responsible statesmen. I would have thought that there would have been a greater amount of discussion and consultation between, at least, the Prime Ministers of the respective territories, particularly discussions about the dangers confronting the Federation by the withdrawal of Jamaica. But, as far as I can gather, there was very little discussion between them.

Even now, although the situation after August will be changed, the Prime Ministers have not come together, nor have the representatives of the Governments directly concerned, to see whether some of the services can be saved in the days to come. We are all aware that the Federal Government feel very strongly about the course of events. That Government feel desolate. It was obvious from the delegation which was recently here just how sick at heart they are that all the labour of fourteen years—the hard work put into the construction of a Federation—is being lost by the action which Jamaica has taken.

We have now, therefore, to look to the future and I certainly regard the Bill not only as inevitable, but, in the circumstances, necessary. It may be that it is couched in the most ample terms, and gives astonishing authority to Her Majesty's Government. It allows for the alteration of constitutions, and of making new constitutional groupings without consultation with the territories concerned and even without parliamentary discussion. All this is being done by Order in Council, for thereby the Government can, by this procedure, escape parliamentary discussion. In any case, I regard the Bill, such as it is, as necessary, although there are many defects in it which will have to be considered in Committee.

Not only is Jamaica pulling out, but Trinidad is likely to do the same. The position, as I understand it, is that in Trinidad there has been no declaration of the will of the people regarding their future relations inside a federation of any kind. All that has been decided—by a party conference, later supported by the Trinidad Government—is that Trinidad will withdraw. Trinidad has tended to complicate the situation, I gather, by offering to extend to certain of the Windward or Leeward Islands the right to go into their own unitary State in the form of provinces or county councils whereby they would surrender a certain amount of their sovereignty. This could be a real complication to the idea put forward by the Secretary of State for a small federation of the Eight.

It remains to be seen what Trinidad will do, but I feel that if recognition is to be given to what appears to be the desire of the Trinidad Government it should at least be supported in some way by popular approval in that island. There is also the other proposal; that there should be a lesser federation. I confess that I was surprised by what the Secretary of State said about the Colony of Barbados—that Barbados was prepared to destroy her own Charter, receive a new written constitution and co-operate with the Leeward and Windward Islands for the formation of a lesser federation—always provided that the slate was cleaned regarding the existing Federation.

This is a considerable risk. If a federation is formed—of the Leewards and Windwards and Barbados—obviously it must be viable. In view of the grants in aid which are now paid out by the present Federal Government from United Kingdom grants I cannot see how such a small federation could operate with any degree of prosperity and success. Be that as it may, it may be a fruitful line of exploration and perhaps a unit in the Caribbean can be formed in this way.

I now return to the larger problem presented to us—the preservation of the common services. These are of vital significance to the British territories in the Caribbean. It seems that any attempt to preserve the common services must include the co-operation of Jamaica and Trinidad in that effort. Otherwise, I am afraid that many of these common services will just disintegrate.

To depend only on the strength of Barbados and the Leewards and Windwards for maintaining the common services will be only half-hearted. A university cannot be run except on the basis of the co-operation of all the territories. The meteorological services, defence and many of the technical services are all largely dependent on the co-operation of all the territories which have so far been grouped in the Federation. Therefore, it is of very great importance that in the preservation of the common services we should not think merely of their preservation in the interests of Barbados and of the islands which might link up with it in a small federation, but in terms of the larger association which is now being dissolved.

It is perfectly true that in such an association there will be independent islands. Trinidad and Jamaica will very soon receive their independence. But that should not deter us from trying to bring them into an arrangement whereby they can contribute with the other territories to the success of some loose organisation concerned with and responsible for the common services. It has been said that in the meantime and before any permanent arrangement can be made for the common services, an interim holding organisation should be created. It seems to be in the mind of the Secretary of State for the Colonies that such a holding body would be of very short duration.

I would point out that many temporary bodies have a habit of staying in existence for a long time because of the sheer inability of those concerned with forming a permanent organisation to agree on the structure which such permanent organisation should take. Therefore, it may well happen that this interim organisation will last for a long time before differences can be resolved and a permanent structure created.

What is this permanent structure to be? As far as the temporary structure is concerned, that, presumably, will be unaccountable to anyone, as my hon. Friend has pointed out in his speech. It is clear that as regards defence and other services, money will be raised and spent by, the appointed Commissioner. He will be quite unrepresentative and the various islands will not be represented. He will have power to carry forward what plans and schemes he likes as far as the preservation of the services are concerned.

There is also, of course, the problem in respect to the existing Federal staff, who have a vast experience. The Governments and the federal staff have been working on Federal services and problems for a long time. It seems to me that even if there is an interim arrangement there should be some opportunity for them to share in the decisions taken in this temporary arrangement. With regard to the long-term arrangement, that, I think, would take some time to bring into being, though I am glad to know that Jamaica has said that she will co-operate during the interim period. She is also interested in what is called the Caribbean organisation.

This brings me to the further point. I quite agree with what my hon. Friend has said in regard to the curious political influences which are at work in the Caribbean at present. Some of those influences are destructive and some are constructive; some of them are authoritarian and some are more democratic. In any case, the Caribbean is a region of great significance and importance. Therefore, as far as Britain is concerned, we should be in a strong position and not necessarily rely on ourselves alone to tackle some of the economic and defence problems that arise there. There should be the fullest co-operation through a central organisation so that all parties who have an interest in that part of the world can work together.

I agree with Mr. Norman Manley that it is important that Jamaica should come into the Caribbean organisation. It was our purpose right back in 1942–43 to create the Anglo-American Commission—an organisation concerned with the social and economic development of the whole of this region. In that organisation we had the co-operation of the Americans, of France and Holland. A certain amount of work was done which was of benefit to the islands. I would hope that perhaps on the basis of the Caribbean organisation, it would be possible to build up a stronger organisation in which Canada, the United States and, possibly, the other independent Powers, including the independent territories of Trinidad and Jamaica, could all play a part in the improvement of the social and economic life of that part of the world.

After all, a similar experiment has been tried out by the Colonial Office in the South Pacific, where a great deal of satisfactory work for the benefit of the people of the South Sea Islands is done through the co-operation of all the Powers interested in that region. I should, therefore, like to see, now that the Federation has collapsed, the various Powers interested in the area coming together and helping forward West Indian social and economic life.

Although I deplore very deeply the passing of the Federation, I believe that out of this wreck, with wise statesmanship, a new organisation of value might be formed. I do not think that we need necessarily despair because this experiment is coming to an end. As I say, I should like to see the co-operation of the other Powers with Britain and with the new independent States in the Caribbean for the purpose of securing the welfare and prosperity of the people.

Finally, I also should like to add my tribute to the work which has been done by the statesmen of the West Indies in their efforts to secure a solid Federation. I do not exclude from that tribute, Norman Manley, who, over the years, has proved himself to be a very great statesman, a man of very great quality and one who has been able to look ahead and to do magnificent work on behalf of his people. I would also include Sir Grantley Adams, who, with his wisdom and common sense, has done a great deal of first-class work. I include also, of course, those who have sometimes been in opposition to him, men like Mr. Gomes, in Trinidad, and others throughout the West Indies who have been loyal workers for the idea of federation.

I believe that we should acknowledge today, even while we announce our regret and feel somewhat melancholy at the passing of this experiment, our thanks and obligations for all that these men have done in their efforts to make this dream come true.

5.10 p.m.

I am very glad to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), because he was one of the earliest architects of the Federation and he must be more unhappy than almost anyone in the House to see the sad outcome of all his early efforts. As my right hon. Friend and everybody else who has spoken in this debate have said, we cannot pretend that this is either a happy occasion or a happy Bill; for any of us here who know and love the West Indies it is a very sad thing.

We in Britain sought to achieve something very sensible indeed and immensely worth while when we established this Federation. Lord Hailes, the Governor-General, Sir Grantley Adams, the Federal Prime Minister, successive Secretaries of State, of course of both parties, and many men of good will throughout the Caribbean and in this country have all worked and striven for a very long time to launch this Federation and to make it a success, and now it has all come to pieces in our hands.

Federations, of course, are never easy to create, and they are even more difficult to sustain, especially in the early years of their existence, and we knew at the outset that the West Indian Federation would be one of the most difficult of all because there were immense problems of distance and separation by sea; there were conflicts of personality and of island interests; of freedom of movement and of trade, and different, rival methods of taxation.

There were always local island patriotisms, but there was never, unfortunately, a wider West Indian patriotism. There was no real sense of being part of an exciting new West Indian nation which would have a tremendously important rôle in the Commonwealth and in the free world. This somehow always seemed to be lacking. Some of the islands wanted a stronger central Government than the rather weak one with which we began. Others wanted it to remain weak.

I believe we here did our best with both money and advice under successive Governments to reach a compromise. Perhaps we made mistakes. I dare say we did. But I was rather surprised, I am bound to admit, that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) singled out my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House for special criticism. I thought that this was a little hard. He said that my right hon. Friend the present Colonial Secretary was left with "an awful mess" on his hands, but the mess arose because of the Jamaican referendum, not through any action of the former Secretary of State. However, no doubt mistakes were made on all sides. I said at the time, and I am sure it is true, that a mistake was made in 1956 when leading West Indian Ministers like Mr. Norman Manley decided to remain in their own islands instead of going to Port-of-Spain. I dare say that everybody has made mistakes.

There was, to be perfectly honest, a sad failure of human relationships. The island leaders indulged in public recriminations against the federal leaders and vice versa. Everyone criticised everybody else. No one seemed to consider it to be his duty and his opportunity to launch and propagate the theme of unity through the Caribbean. No one really sold the idea of this Federation to the people. I have been amazed—I know other hon. Members have had the same experience—on going out there in years gone by to be asked by West Indian journalists, "What do you think of federation?" and of being put in the position of going from here to try to sell the idea to them, because Ministers out there were not doing that job, and this was perhaps one of the reasons it failed.

There has been a parallel in Central Africa—a failure by us and, I think, by Sir Roy Welensky and his Ministers to sell the concept of federation there and its advantages. So that I believe—it is a purely personal view—that that Federation, too, is likely soon to dissolve.

The truth is that nowadays, whatever may have happened in America or Australia in the past, we cannot impose federations and we cannot force them to survive, unless they are based upon the consent of the people. There were the best reasons in the world for a federation of the West Indies, political reasons and economic reasons which we all of us know.

There were innumerable conferences, I believe seven or eight conferences, between 1947 and 1961, and at the last of them, last summer everyone bent over backwards to make it possible for Norman Manley to win his referendum in Jamaica upon which, in the end, everything depended.

It is no use jobbing backwards but of course that referendum should never have been held. We all know that a referendum is the most unsuitable way of appealing for the verdict of the people. We should certainly, I am sure, have advised against it if we had had the opportunity to advise at all. If Mr. Manley wished to put this issue to his people I am quite sure that the proper thing to do was to go to the country in a general election, when his own party, in party loyalty, would, naturally, have supported him. Instead, he selected the most unpopular plank in his whole political platform and went to the people on that alone, in isolation, for a "Yes" or "No" answer; and he announced his intention to do this without consulting the Governor-General, without consulting the Federal Prime Minister, without, so far as I know, any consultation with Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, and without consulting anyone at all in the whole of the West Indies.

I have the very greatest respect and admiration for Mr. Norman Manley who, I think, is one of the most brilliant and gifted national leaders I have had the pleasure of meeting, but this really was a calamitous and, as it turned out, an irretrievable error of judgment on his part. Jamaica has full internal self-government. Once the referendum was announced, we could not stop it or influence its course.

All we could do was to hope that it would succeed, and help it to succeed, which I think we did, in June, 1961, in London. Everyone helped at that conference; and yet, despite all that was done there—on 19th September by a small majority on a small poll it failed, and brought the whole federal experiment crashing down in ruins. Mr. Manley accepted that verdict. He had to. We all had to accept it. We could not have overturned it except by force, which would have been unthinkable. I thought that it was unrealistic and rather a waste of a journey for Sir Grantley Adams and his colleagues to come here, as they did this month, and ask us to put the clock back. That is not, of course, a criticism of Sir Grantley Adams, who is an old friend and, I hope he will not mind my saying, a close friend of mine and of this country. He had to come here no doubt because of the unanimous resolution of his own Parliament in Port-of-Spain. But I do not think there was anything we could possibly have done to help him.

Now, as we see, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago have chosen the same course of independence alone. I do not know whether this is the wish of the people of Trinidad or not. Nobody knows. The issue was not put to them at their recent election. I think that it is quite extraordinary that it was not put to them, but I am certainly not advocating a referendum there as well.

I can express only a personal view, which, I am sure, is shared by many hon. Members of this House, that the decision of the Jamaican people and the decision of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago are profound mistakes which even they themselves will come one day to regret. I think that it is perfectly pathetic that the very able men who lead these territories—and they are of a very high calibre, as we all know—have in a way let themselves down, because of their failure to co-operate with one another, and have fallen below the level of events in the world and certainly below the level we expected of them.

In so doing they have certainly shown no interest whatever in the future of their own compatriots in the remaining small islands, whose fate has been almost cynically disregarded—though mitigated perhaps by the words of the Prime Minister of Jamaica which were quoted by the hon. Member for Leeds, East when he spoke. Now we understand that the eight smaller islands wish to remain federated together. If that is so, I think we should give t