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Commons Chamber

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 28 March 1962

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 28th March, 1962

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]

New Writ

For Derby, North, in the room of Group Captain Clifford Arthur Bowman Wilcock, O.B.E., A.F.C., deceased.—[ Mr. H. Bowden.]

Oral Answers To Questions

Royal Air Force

Chalgrove Airfield


asked the Secretary of State for Air if the agreement with Martin Baker Aircraft, Ltd., in respect of Chalgrove Airfield, has yet been signed.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I raised the matter two years ago, on 31st March, 1960, and that on 8th December, 1960, I was informed by the Under-Secretary of State that only one or two matters of small detail remained to be settled? May I know what those points of detail are? Furthermore, does the original assurance still stand, that the land will be offered back to the original owners as agricultural land at current market price when the company ceases to have use for it for its present purpose?

A public local inquiry was held by the War Works Commission in February of this year. The firm, not unnaturally, wants to await the result of the inquiry before it signs the agreement and before everything is finally settled.

With regard to my hon. Friend's second point, I understand that the firm has made it clear that it would give a first option to the original owners—I think that is the position—if it terminated its lease.

Might I press my right hon. Friend to be a little clearer about this? Will he reassure me and the House that when the company ceases to wish to use the airfield for the purpose of testing ejector seats it will then offer the land back to the original owners as agricultural land at current prices in accordance with the undertaking originally given?

Airmen's Wives, North Luffenham (Hospital Facilities)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what hospital facilities are available to the wives of airmen at North Luffenham in cases of confinement.

Service wives at North Luffenham may use either the National Health Service maternity facilities or those provided by the Royal Air Force Hospital at Nocton Hall.

Can the right hon. Gentleman be satisfied with the present arrangements when some of the wives who are already in labour have to be sent by road to hospital 50 miles away with no qualified person in attendance to deal with any emergency en route? Does he not think this a disgraceful and scandalous state of affairs? Will he bring this sort of thing to an end without further delay?

I do not think that the situation is a scandalous one. We should, of course, like to have even better facilities than we have, but what we have compares very reasonably with the civilian facilities available in the area.

As North Luffenham is in my constituency, might I make it clear to my right hon. Friend that we have all the health facilities in Rutland available for anyone from North Luffenham who cares to make use of them? This is contrary to the view that some people seem to have about my county.

We should like a little more information. Is it not the case that some wives of Service personnel have to go fifty miles for their confinement? If that is the case, ought not something to be done about it?

There are facilities at North Luffenham, but they are not on a large scale, and some wives of airmen prefer to go to Nocton Hall for their confinement, and this is some distance off. They have a choice.

In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Newspaper Representative (Facilities)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what facilities were afforded by his department to Mr. Chapman Pincher, of the Daily Express newspaper, to investigate the effectiveness of Great Britain's hydrogen bombs.

Mr. Chapman Pincher was given facilities to visit Headquarters Bomber Command and a Bomber Command station.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in its issue of 19th March the Daily Express made clear that the Air Ministry had offered unique facilities to Mr. Chapman Pincher to see everything at one of our chief bomber stations and that no vital facts were withheld from him? Is the right hon. Gentleman able to square that with the statement which he made a week earlier in the Air Estimates debate, on 12th March:

"I am not prepared to explain here the exact details of our readiness or dispersal systems."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1962; Vol. 655. c. 909.]
When he could not explain them to Parliament, how was it that Mr. Pincher was able to go and see all about them?

I thought Mr. Pincher wrote some very well-informed articles, but I am not, of course, responsible for everything that he wrote.

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that Members of Parliament who want to write articles on this subject will be given facilities equal to those given to Mr. Chapman Pincher?

Similar facilities have been given in the past to hon. Members belonging to the party opposite.

While welcoming the maximum information that can be given to the public, may I ask why these facilities were granted immediately after the Air Estimates debate when the Secretary of State had declined to give the House information about scrambling and so on which subsequently appeared in Mr. Chapman Pincher's articles? Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he approved the articles as well as providing the facilities, and will he give like facilities to any accredited defence correspondent who wishes to avail himself of the opportunity?

As I have already said, I thought Mr. Pincher's articles were very well informed and well written, but I do not accept responsibility for everything that he wrote. As I have already said, I have previously provided facilities for other journalists, including hon. Members opposite, to make visits of a similar kind.

Aircraft, Transport Command


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will give the types and numbers of aircraft on order for Transport Command and the dates on which he expects to have them available for service.

I would refer the hon. Member to the information in the Air Estimates Memorandum and to the speech of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State in the debate on 12th March.

With respect, that information is not nearly as full as the information about V-Bomber Command which Mr. Pincher had made available to him. Cannot we have the dates when the Air Force expects to get into service some of these transport aircraft which are on order? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us something about the Belfasts and when they will be in service—all ten of them—because there is great concern about this lack of a strategic air freighter and we want to know what the right hon. Gentleman is doing about it.

I understand, appreciate and share the hon. Gentleman's concern about the heavy freighters and the need to have them in service as soon as possible, but I think it would be unwise to go beyond what I have said previously; that we expect to have ten Belfasts in the mid-1960s.

Children (Education Allowances)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what allowances and arrangements are available for Royal Air Force officers and other ranks to assist them to educate their children in this country whilst on overseas tours, and to avoid the problems arising from frequent changes of school.

Allowances are paid for children at boarding or at day schools, at the rates set out on page 17 of the Air Estimates. In addition, children are given one free passage every year to visit parents serving abroad.

I am sure that the Secretary of State realises that the education of children is a very important welfare and recruiting factor. Can he say how the Service allowances compare with similar allowances for personnel in the Foreign and Colonial Services? Are any steps taken not only to advise Service men about public and private school possibilities but also to bring to their attention the possibility of local education authority schools, some of which are boarding schools? My impression is that an airman is left very much to his own devices and that if he is in Singapore or Hong Kong and has no relatives in this country he finds the placing of his children in school a difficult matter. What help is the Air Ministry giving?

The Royal Air Force education branch can and does help, but we have found that, on the whole, parents have strong and decided views of their own about the education of their children. With regard to comparable rates paid by the Foreign Office, our rates are at present lower than theirs but I am, with my right hon. Friends the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War, discussing with the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there should be any change.

I understood the Minister to indicate that children who are attending school will be given the fare to visit their parents abroad once a year. Does that concession include children who are not attending school? If so, does it include the children of officers under 25?

That is a different question, and I will write to the hon. Gentleman about it.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are hon. Members on both sides of the House who are very anxious about the limited educational standards reached by some of these children? Will he undertake to consult the Minister of Education with a view to improving the facilities which are available when the children do not come back to this country for schooling?

I will gladly consult my right hon. Friend who will, naturally, be glad to receive any representations from my hon. Friend.

We wish the right hon. Gentleman well in his discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter. Will he make a statement to the House as soon as he is in a position to do so?

I have no doubt that a statement will be made, although it may be made by the Minister of Defence rather than by myself.


School Building


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps have been taken in the past six months to encourage local education authorities to combine in school building consortia; and with what results.

Arrangements are in hand for meetings in Edinburgh and Inverness, with the Minister of State in the chair, to which representatives of all education authorities will be invited and in which the advantages of consortium methods will be explained and discussed.

Does that Answer mean that nothing has been done in the last six or twelve months to explain in greater detail to the local education authorities the quite considerable economies that can arise from the establishment of such consortia? Is not Lanarkshire, as a member of the English consortium, the only authority in Scotland at the moment which is in a consortium? Since many of the steel components are made in Scotland, may we not call on the Secretary of State to make tremendous efforts to bring more education authorities in Scotland into this kind of arrangement?

I agree that these consortia are of great importance. We are moving as fast as we can to get more authorities involved and interested.

Forth Road Bridge (Tolls)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to receive the draft schedule of toll charges from the Forth Road Bridge Joint Board; and when he proposes to invite objections to the suggested charges.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 14th March to the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn).

I recall the reply the Secretary of State gave to my right hon. Friend, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since the Forth Road Bridge Joint Board accepted the principle of toll charges considerable economic changes have been taking place in Fife resulting from pit closures? Does the right hon. Gentleman expect that Fife will be able to attract the necessary industry if toll charges unduly increase the freight charges of those industries? Will he, therefore, assure the House that if toll charges must be imposed they will be of a nominal character?

I am awaiting the schedule that is to be submitted to me. There will be opportunity for a public inquiry if there are objections to the proposed toll charges.

Why is a toll imposed on this particular part of a trunk road while the M.1, which is also a trunk road, has no toll charges?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware, from previous answers that have been given, of the Government's policy in relation to toll charges. This policy has been set out by myself and by the Minister of Transport.

Commonwealth Immigrants


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that 10,800 Commonwealth immigrants arrived in January, 1962, against 2,940 in 1961 and only 120 in 1960, which, on the 1961 total figure of 136,000, indicates a total of over 400,000 for 1962; and if he will take the necessary steps to see that Scotland's proportion of 400,000 are property housed and found jobs.

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend on 7th March.

Why does my right hon. Friend mot want Scotland to have its fair share of the immigrants who are coming to this country? Will he direct 20,000 of them to Dundee, the Socialist hon. Member for which is so keen on unlimited numbers coming here?

My hon. Friend must be aware from previous answers that we do not consider that any special Scottish measures as regards jobs or houses are necessary.

In view of the enormous difficulties in Scotland in regard to jobs and houses, does my right hon. Friend think that Scotland could take a fair share of the numbers who are coming in?

We have never been restrictive in our view in Scotland about people coming from any part of the world.

Is the Secretary of State aware that jobs and houses are essential in Scotland and that when we have them we would certainly resent any measures being taken to prevent people coming in merely because of the colour of their skin?

Certificate Of Education (Spoken English)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will introduce an examination in spoken English in the leaving certificate in Scotland.

I am certainly anxious to secure a high standard of spoken English in the schools, but I do not think it would be practicable to try to test this in the examination for the Scottish Certificate of Education.

Will the right hon. Gentleman pay due respect to what are sometimes contemptuously called dialects, Whether they be spoken in Scotland, Ireland, the West Country or elsewhere, and ensure that they are properly dealt with?

Speaking personally, I should greatly regret the disappearance of dialects such as those to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred.

Marginal Land (Financial Assistance)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has completed his discussion with Scottish farmers about the continuation of financial assistance for marginal land; and whether he will make a statement about the future of marginal agricultural production.

As stated in the recent White Paper on the Annual Review, 1962, there will be further discussions with the farmers' unions on the proposals for the winter keep scheme. The marginal agricultural production scheme, as already announced, will terminate with the 1962 cropping season.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of bringing these discussions to a conclusion before the marginal agricultural production scheme ends so that the new schemes can follow on in the immediate cropping season? Will he also bear in mind that it is very important that these schemes should replace completely and adequately the good work done under the marginal agricultural production scheme in the Highlands over the last ten or more years?

I am well aware of both points which my hon. Friend has raised. I think that these new proposals, together with the existing production grants, will provide a system of grants very well suited to our marginal areas.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is very strong criticism of the mean and niggardly action of the Government concerning aid in respect of marginal land? Does he realise that most farming people in Scotland believe that this was a very good way to develop the land of Scotland? He has done a gross disservice to Scotland by the attitude which he has adopted.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the proposed legislation will be introduced in the present Session so that there will be no gap between the ending of the marginal agricultural production scheme and the introduction of the new schemes?

I am afraid that I cannot give any positive assurances about the dates of legislation, but I am well aware of the need to ensure that there is no gap.

Unfit Houses


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many unfit houses he expects to be closed or demolished in 1962.

Not all local authorities have yet sent me their slum clearance programmes for the three years 1962 to 1964, but it is already clear that they are planning to deal with more than 12,000 unfit houses a year during that period.

Is the Secretary of State satisfied that that is a serious estimate? Is it not a fact that between 1956 and 1961 there was no improvement in the number of houses dealt with in Scotland? Since the Government have said that the emphasis in their housing policy is on slum clearance and redevelopment, when may we expect an improvement in these figures? What are the Government doing about them? This is a very serious matter.

I should not like to accept everything that the hon. Gentleman has said without checking the figures, which I do not have in my head. However, I believe that the figures which I have given are a fair estimate of what we are hoping to achieve. It is difficult to be absolutely precise as to what will be achieved at this stage.

Civil Defence (Dispersal Of Population)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are his latest proposals for the dispersal of the civil population in the event of nuclear war.

I am about to write to local authorities giving outline arrangements for a dispersal scheme and I will send the hon. Member a copy of the letter.

Will the Secretary of State take care to ensure that in future he does not make arrangements for the population of Glasgow to be sent to the neighbourhood of Holy Loch? Can he give us any idea as to where nearly three million of the industrial population can be dispersed in Scotland when there are no houses for them?

I said that I am sending the hon. Gentleman a copy of the letter. I hope that this time I will get the information right up to date.

Houses, Faifley (Repairs)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received respecting the repairs necessary to Scottish Special Housing Association houses in Faifley, Clydebank; and what measures he is taking to inquire into the cause of defects occurring soon after the houses were built.

The Town Council of Clydebank wrote to me on 15th March expressing its concern and the following day senior officers of my Department and of the Scottish special Housing Association discussed the matter with representatives of the Council.

As I explained to the hon. Member when I wrote to him last week, I expect to receive from the Association soon a full technical report on the causes of the defects in these houses.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is grave concern not only in Clydebank but in other areas about the serious defects in these houses? Thousands of pounds have to be spent on houses which have been ill designed and badly constructed. Notwithstanding some assertions made by the right hon. Gentleman and his Department, will he ensure that in future public money is used to build houses with some "guts" in them?

The hon. Gentleman must let me await the Report before expecting me to agree with the criticisms which he has expressed. However, I very much regret that these difficulties have arisen.

These defects have been known for months. Thousands of pounds are having to be spent, the houses are in ruins—

This is a bad case. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment.



asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what reply he has made to the memorandum he received from the editor of the Glasgow Herald on the need for a fifth university for Scotland.

This memorandum was addressed to the Committee on Higher Education, of which Lord Robbins is Chairman, and I cannot make any comment upon it.

Is the Secretary of State aware that the memorandum rejected the idea of a satellite university, doubted the practicality of the expansion of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities and, therefore, claimed that Scotland needed a fifth university so that it might have its fair share of the increasing financial and human resources which will be devoted to higher education in the years ahead? Will the right hon. Gentleman give us his views on those three points as Secretary of State for Scotland?

Certain of the matters are outwith my direct responsibility, but I have a general interest in the matter as a whole. For a general answer to the points which the hon. Gentleman has raised, I would refer him to the Answer given by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) on 8th March.

That Answer was most unsatisfactory. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is responsible for educational facilities in Scotland? Is he also aware that there is a grave shortage of university places in Scotland and that this shortage will become much graver in the years ahead? Surely the time is ripe for an announcement on a fifth university for Scotland.

The hon. Lady knows that I am well aware of the feelings on this matter in Scotland and that I am following very closely what is going on. However, she will realise that it is not competent for me to make any statement about the future of another university in Scotland.

Young Persons (Remand Centres)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many young persons were committed to prison before trial during 1961 because of the lack of remand home or remand centre accommodation.

Figures are not available for the whole of 1961, but for the six months from 1st September last 1,042 persons between 17 and 21 years were committed to prison before trial who could have been committed to remand centres had they been available.

That is a most serious statement. Can the Secretary of State indicate by what right and under what Statute these young people are detained in Barlinnie Prison and other prisons on remand before trial? Will he take action to ensure that this practice stops and that the stigma attaching to these young people, who may be declared innocent when they come to trial, is completely removed?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is very desirable that proper accommodation should be available. A remand centre at Polmont, en- tirely separate from the borstal institution, will be opened probably at the beginning of August. We are proposing to erect a fully equipped remand centre at Larbert, but it will be a little time before it is built.

This is a very serious matter, as my hon. Friend has said. Cannot the Secretary of State speed up work on these remand centres, because it is intolerable that young people should be sent to prison even before their trial?

I am very anxious that this work should go forward as quickly as possible.

Flood Prevention Schemes


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications he has received from local authorities for approval of flood prevention schemes under the Flood Prevention (Scotland) Act, 1961.

One authority has formally submitted a scheme for approval and six others are known to be actively considering schemes.

May I take it from what the Secretary of State has said that one scheme has been approved, or has one been submitted to him for approval? Does the fact that assistance to the value of, I think, only £20,000 is available under the Act have anything to do with the schemes not coming forward?

No, I do not think so. My Answer was that one authority has formally submitted a scheme for approval. I cannot add to that at the moment.

In view of the problems concerning water supply, flooding and drainage, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the time has long since passed for a complete survey and control of the Whole watershed in Scotland?

I appreciate the gravity of these matters, but we have debated them very often in relation to Bills on drainage and flooding which have become Acts of Parliament. However, I will have regard to what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Agriculture (Winter Keep Scheme)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland which parts of Scotland will be in a position to receive grants for the production of winter keep in connection with the scheduled scheme under the recent Agricultural Price Review.

It is proposed that the winter keep scheme will apply to livestock rearing land in all parts of Scotland.

Will all farms, whether at present they benefit from M.A.P. grants or not, be in a position to submit requests for grant under this scheme when it comes into operation?

I should not like to go into details of that kind in answer to a supplementary question. I should, however, make clear that details of the scheme have still to be worked out and the National Farmers' Unions consulted.

Does my right hon. Friend realise the importance of the scheme to these areas and that it as essential that people should know exactly what will happen before the M.A.P. scheme ends?

Electricity Boards (Finance)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement regarding his discussions with the electricity boards in Scotland on the implementation of the policies set out in Command Paper 1337, The Financial and Economic Obligations of the Nationalised Industries.

The South of Scotland Electricity Board has agreed that it should be its financial objective over the five years 1962–66 to secure an average gross return before deducting interest or making provision for depreciation of about 12½ per cent. on its net assets. This will enable the Board to finance from revenue more than 50 par cent, of its capital development.

Discussions with the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board are still in progress.

While one cannot fully appreciate these figures without looking into them, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is a fact that this additional raising of capital means, in effect, price increases? Will the Secretary of State answer the simple question: how much will this cost electricity consumers in Scotland? They are already worried and annoyed about the South of Scotland increased electricity charges.

I understand that the South of Scotland Board, which recently announced its new tariffs to produce an additional 11 per cent. of revenue, had all these matters in mind when making these increases.

Does any consultation take place with the Secretary of State regarding these new tariffs? Is it true that the weight is being put upon the domestic tariff as against the industrial tariff?

The fixing of tariffs is a matter for the Board, but details of discussions which were held were set out in the White Paper dealing with the nationalised industries.

How can the right hon. Gentleman say that these increases are a matter for the Board? Can he answer the simple question: how much is this costing electricity consumers? It must be costing them something. Are we not entitled to know how much?

I cannot answer that in reply to a supplementary question. If, however, the hon. Member would put a Question down, I would try to give him the answer. It would be a fairly complicated matter.

Municipal Elections


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the forthcoming municipal elections, he will circularise returning officers drawing their attention to the regulations made under the Representation of the People Act; and if he will stress the impropriety of unauthorised persons being present in premises where polling or counting of votes is proceeding.

No, Sir. Returning officers are well aware of the local elections rules scheduled to the 1949 Act under which unauthorised persons must be excluded from the polling station and from the counting of votes.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that in view of the recent local election in which abuses certainly took place, it would be very desirable to issue a circular reminding returning officers of such abuses as, for example, the local provost standing in the hall although not himself a candidate and welcoming the electors, with a count taking place under the same roof as the committee rooms of one of the political parties? Surely, something should be done to remind returning officers of the proper practice.

There is a technical point which I should explain. The conduct of elections is entirely in the hands of the returning officers, as provided by the terms of the Representation of the People Act, 1949. It would be both unnecessary and improper for me to issue reminders to them about certain aspects of their duty, but doubtless the hon. Member's Question will come to their attention.

Students (Grants)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to receive the Report on student grants from the Standing Advisory Committee; and if he will publish this Report.

The Report has recently been received by my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Minister for Science and myself. We are considering the Report but no decision has yet been made about publication.

With the new dispensation in student grants, does not the Secretary of State consider it important to engender as much confidence in these committees as possible and that publication of the Report would help considerably, irrespective of what the Government's final decision might be?

I appreciate the point that the hon. Member is making, but the Advisory Committee is a new body and it has not yet been worked out how its advice can best be handled. It might well be contrary to the most useful working of the Committee to make a general rule at the beginning either that all its reports should be published or that none should.

Technical Colleges (Building Programme)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the completion dates of the present technical colleges building programme will be realised; and if he will provide a table in the OFFICIAL REPORT showing the progress of each project.

Of the Government's programme of technical college building to the value of £18 million to be started by the end of March 1964, project have beeb strated to date to the value of £13½ million. This includes projects to the value of £1 million already completed and others to the value of approximately £1½ million are expected to be completed by the end of the present year. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT tables showing estimated dates for the start and the completion of further projects which are at earlier stages.

While it is difficult to accept all the implications of that Answer without seeing the full statement, may I ask whether the Secretary of State is, like the rest of us, rather disappointed at the progress which has been achieved under the earlier programme announced in 1956? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many communities, such as my own, have an interest in the present programmes and wish that they could be carried out with dispatch?

I have been disappointed with the delays encountered concerning certain colleges, but the hon. Member will appreciate that the figure I have given for starts is not too bad. One of the major difficulties, which has arisen in the hon. Member's constituency among others, is the problem of sites.

Is the Secretary of State aware that a firm in my constituency which has a good apprenticeship record has been directed by the President of the Board of Trade to conduct its expansion in a development district and that it wishes to choose Dunbarton but finds that no facilities are available for technical education?

Starting DateCompletion DateStarting DateCompletion Date
Stow Colleges of Building and Printing, Glasgow.May, 1959November, 1964
Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen (New School of Domestic Science).November,1960August. 1963
Aberdeen Technical CollegeFebruary, 1961January. 1964
Kilmarnock Technical CollegeFebruary, 1961May, 1964
Ayr Technical CollegeFebruary, 1961June, 1964
Barmulloch College, GlasgowMarch, 1961December, 1964
Dundee Trades CollegeJune, 1961Summer, 1963
Langside College, GlasgowAugust, 1961August, 1964
Anniesland College, GlasgowFebruary, 1962January, 1965
Clydebank Technical CollegeMay, 1962December,1964
Napier Technical College, EdinburghJanuary, 1962Autumn, 1964
Bathgate Technical CollegeMarch, 1962November, 1963
Galashiels Technical CentreMay, 1962September, 1963
Esk Valley College, MidlothianSeptember, 1962July, 1965
Glasgow Nautical SchoolNovember, 1963August, 1966
Greenock Technical CollegeNot yet available
Dundee Commercial CollegeJanuary, 1964September, 1965
Reid Kerr College, PaisleyMay, 1960August, 1962
Glasgow School of ArtDecember, 1960September, 1962

*Kirkcaldy Technical College

September, 1960June, 1966
Heriot Watt College, Edinburgh (New Department of Brewing and 1963 Applied Chemistry).August, 1960February,
Thursc Technical CollegeMay, 1962November, 1963
Stow College of Engineering, Glasgow.August, 1962August, 1964
David Dale College, GlasgowAugust, 1962August, 1964
Buckhaven Technical College†October, 1962March, 1963
July, 1963 July, 1965

*Three phase totalling £1,045,100: two years each phase.

† Temporary Scheme.

Agriculture (Price Review)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what communication he has received from the National Farmers' Union of Scotland

I should be grateful if the hon. Member would either write to me about this or let me have time to examine what he has said.

Following are the tables:

about the 1962 Price Review as it affects Scotland; and what was the nature of his reply.

I have not received any communication from the Scottish National Farmers' Union on this subject.

Is the Minister aware of the deep resentment in Scotland about agricultural subsidies? Is he aware that the dairy farmers in Ayrshire especially regard this as a severe blow to the dairying industry, because it will increase the price to the consumer without helping the farmer? Is he also aware that it is a heavy blow against the small egg producers and that the farmers of Scotland unanimously wish to see him in another place?

The hon. Member has gone wide of his original Question. As he knows, I had a meeting last week with the Scottish N.F.U. The Union made it clear that it was unable to accept the Government's conclusions, but I gained the impression that it was well aware of the reasons for the result of the Review.

Was my right hon. Friend satisfied with the reception he got last week at the dinner of the Scottish N.F.U. and particularly with that part of the discussion which related to winter keep, to which the Scottish farmers are looking forward with keen interest?

Even though the representatives of the Scottish N.F.U. did not like the Review, they were extremely kind to me when I met them on that occasion.

In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Ambulances (Maternity Patients)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what arrangements are made by regional hospital boards to ensure that no maternity patient is taken to hospital by an unaccompanied ambulance driver.

The normal practice is that, where a patient has to travel to a hospital by ambulance and the doctor thinks it necessary for her to be accompanied by a midwife, he arranges for either the district midwife or a midwife from the hospital to go with her.

Is it not the case that all maternity patients going to hospital should be accompanied? Have there not been examples of patients with a fair degree of urgency being unaccompanied? Will the Secretary of State make full inquiries and press upon the regional board the need for a midwife to accompany the driver?

This is a matter which is best left to the discretion of the people immediately concerned. It would be wasteful of badly needed skilled staff to send somebody on every occasion if it was quite unnecessary to do so.

Is the Secretary of State aware that, time after time, regional hospital boards apparently do not take the proper precautions to ensure that ambulance drivers are accompanied? In these circumstances, is it not his duty to intervene?

If I were persuaded that some authorities were not fulfilling their duty properly, certainly I would take steps to bring the matter to their attention. Perhaps the hon. Lady will send me details if she has any cases in mind.

In view of the number of complaints made recently about the service, will the Secretary of State look at the whole matter once again to make sure that at least certain boards are not slipping up with regard to the ambulance service?

I will certainly look at the matter. It would be helpful if any further cases which need examination were brought to my attention.

Derelict Sites (Clearance)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report the names of those local authorities which have applied for and have been granted financial assistance for the clearance of derelict sites under the terms of the Local Employment Act; and whether he will indicate the purposes for which the grants have been made in each case.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is satisfied with the rate at which applications are coming forward? If he is not, can he tell us what is his opinion as to the reasons for this tardiness in the applications? Is it not the case that the Toot-hill Committee recommended that the grants be increased in order to get the local authorities to be more forthcoming in their applications? Can the right hon. Gentleman say, further, what stage has been reached in the consultations between himself and Fife local authorities about the clearance of sites?

That is really rather a handful for one supplementary question. The initiative does lie with the local authorities, who are fully informed of grant facilities. I should be glad to consider more applications. As to the question whether the level of grant is right, the standard rate of grant is 50 per cent., which we feel is a fair division between the Exchequer and the local authorities, bearing in mind that a cleared site is a permanent asset to the local community.

Following are the details:

Local Authorities to whom grant has been promised


West Lothian County Council1. Clearing of 8 acres abandoned colliery site at Armadale for school playing fields.
2. Remedial works on the Bog Burn, Bathgate, to improve amenity.
3. Removing a disused railway embankment at Fauld house to provide I acre of land for housing.
4. Removing small Bing at Fauldhouse for housing.
Coatbridge Town Council1. Consulting Engineers Report on scheme for piping and infilling Monkland Canal (grant promised on fees).
2. Clearance of 37 acres Bing and Old Iron Works site at Sikeside for industry and housing.
Fife County CouncilRehabilitation of 9½ acres ex A.A. gun site at Halbeath for industry.
Renfrew First District CouncilInfilling 28 acres of swampland at Muirend for recreation area.
Motherwell Town CouncilClearance of Parkhead Bing to provide 6½ acres of land for multi-storey housing and car park.

Glasgow-Kilmarnock Road


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when work started on the Glasgow-Kilmarnock road; and when it will be completed.

Work on improvement of this road from Eastwood Toll to Malletsheugh, including the reconstruction of Whitecraigs railway bridge, started in November, 1959, and is expected to be completed in September, 1962.

Classified Roads, Ayrshire (Maintenance And Repair)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much he has allocated to the authorities in Ayrshire in respect of maintenance and repair of classified roads in 1962–63; and how this compares with 1961–62.

The initial allocation of grant made to Ayr County Council earlier this month towards the cost of works of maintenance and minor improvement on classified roads in the county during 1962–63 was £192,000. The equivalent figure for 1961–62 was £200,050.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the inadequacy of the provision in respect of classified roads is equalled only by the slowness in respect of the trunk road from Kilmarnock to Glasgow?

I agree that all of us would like to have more money available for that road, but we really cannot do everything simultaneously.

Barlinnie Prison


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the many serious incidents of violence in the past few months amongst prisoners in Barlinnie Prison, he will institute an independent inquiry.

The circumstances of each incident of this kind are fully investigated as it occurs and I do not consider that an independent inquiry into recent incidents at Barlinnie would help.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the number of stabbings has gone up to ten this year; and that the chaplain, who has been there twenty-four years, says these are the worst cases of violence he has seen during that time? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the general public want to know where the people in the stabbing cases get the implements they use for stabbing, and that the general public want to know more about it? I do not see that anything but an independent inquiry would be of any use to satisfy the general public.

I am quite sure the hon. Lady will agree that what matters above all is to get this kind of thing stopped, and that is what our objective must be. As to the wisest and best way to achieve that, I should inform the hon. Lady that the police are informed immediately of every serious assault and are given facilities for questioning the prisoners and members of the prison staff. At the same time the governor carries out his own inquiries into the circumstances as affecting the discipline of the prison and the supervision arrangements. Each incident is inquired into very fully indeed.

All of us agree that the important thing is to get this stopped. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in these last few months there has been one stabbing incident after another? Is he also aware that, according to his own information, a local inquiry has been held in each case and that it has not prevented further instances of stabbing? Surely he must come to the conclusion that we need an independent inquiry into this matter, since those who have sons in the prison, and the people around the prison, are very concerned indeed about the continuing disturbances there? It would hearten them if the right hon. Gentleman were to accept what my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Gorbals (Mrs. Cullen) is asking for—an independent inquiry.

I think I should inform the hon. Lady of some of the things done in reviewing the internal security arrangements. A number of measures designed to ensure the closer supervision of prisoners have been brought into operation. The exercise time of the prisoners has been changed to allow more effective supervision. Additional supervising officers are on duty at certain times. Special measures have been taken to open passageways to shorten the routes taken by bodies of prisoners. I shall continue to watch carefully to see how far these measures are successful.

Air-Raid Shelters, Glasgow


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to remove the surface air-raid shelters in the City of Glasgow.

It remains the policy of the Government to preserve sound airraid shelters so far as possible. I am, however, always prepared to consider whether in individual cases there are compelling grounds for removal.

Does the Secretary of State really believe that these shelters are of any use at all or ever were of any use? Back courts are cluttered up with them, people cannot get their washing out, and the shelters are used for all sorts of purposes. I am sure that if we had another war they would be of no earthly use at all.

I do not think it would be sensible to get rid of something that would give a degree of protection in the event of another war.

Will the right hon. Gentleman stop pretending to the House, an assembly of sensible men and women? Is he not aware that his predecessor indicated some years ago that he would consider these things? If these are just obsolete anachronisms in the nuclear age, will he not take a decision to dispense with them at the earliest possible moment?

I really do not think that it would be sensible to dispense with them all at once, but I always have said that I will consider in any individual case whether there are grounds for removal.


Vehicle Tests


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the effect of the compulsory testing of cars more than seven years old in removing faulty cars from the roads.

Up to the end of January, 1962, over 935,000 vehicles submitted for test were refused a certificate on initial inspection. This represents 35 per cent. of all vehicles tested under the scheme. Precise figures are not available of the number of vehicles subsequently brought up to standard and passed, but a detailed analysis of a sample of the returns from testing stations indicates that about 5 per cent. of the total number of vehicles tested failed to qualify for a certificate. There are no means of telling how many vehicles were scrapped without submission to test because they were known to be faulty. The licensing records indicate, however, that the vehicles in the testable classes which were scrapped during 1961 appeared to show a sharp increase over previous years.

Is the Minister aware that a very dangerous racket is still carried on by unscrupulous dealers in old cars? When certificates have been granted, a day or two later experts have said the cars are of no use, and cars in the meanwhile have been sold. Will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that some further protective measure is taken because certificates at present deal only with questions of lighting, steering and braking, whereas there are many other defects which ought to be considered before a certificate is granted. There are many other matters to be dealt with. Will the right hon. Gentleman see whether anything can be done in that regard, because this is becoming a public scandal?

If the hon. Member will give me details of what is becoming a public scandal and will be kind enough to send me the details of any particular cases, I will certainly look into them, but a general statement such as he has made is not really very satisfactory.

In view of the great value of the testing of these cars in getting unfit cars off the roads, as shown by the Minister's Answer, can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication at the moment when he expects to be able to reduce the seven years to six years?

I cannot at the moment, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it will be done as quickly as possible.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has yet found a means of bringing within the scope of the tests cars manufactured abroad more than seven years ago but not registered in this country until less than seven years ago?

Fraudulent Disposal Of Motor Vehicles (Inquiry)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he has completed his inquiry into the fraudulent disposal of motor vehicles when subject to hire-purchase agreements; and what is the outcome of the inquiry.

This inquiry was put in hand in January of this year. As a first step the interests most closely affected were asked to submit their views and recommendations; these have been received and are now being studied.

I cannot say when the inquiry will be completed, or what its outcome is likely to be.

As to the outcome of this inquiry, is the Minister aware that there are still many cases of fraudulent sales which cause very real hardship for the unfortunate people who have been taken in, and in considering any remedy will he keep in mind the fact that a purchaser who pays cash is not protected by any voluntary arrangement between the hire-purchase companies designed to protect purchasers from this kind of deal?


Rule Of The Road


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will initiate an inter-departmental inquiry to consider the long-term advantages and the short-term costs of changing the rule of the road in Britain to driving on the right hand side.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we may expect some form of report to the House on it?

No. I cannot say at the moment, but it was started some considerable time ago.

Road, Chalgrove (Public Inquiry)


asked the Minister of Transport when the public inquiry was held Co consider the proposal to develop a road along the southern boundary of Chalgrove Airfield as an alternative to that section of the Oxford-Watlington road now diverted through Chalgrove village; and if any buildings or fencing had been erected on the airfield in advance of the inquiry, which would have been affected by the proposed line of the new road.

The public inquiry into road closures at Chalgrove Airfield was held by the War Works Commission on 7th February, 1962. Re-fencing of the airfield boundary for safety reasons was begun in June, 1961, and part of this will be affected by the line of the proposed new road. No buildings have been erected on this line.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the erection of this fence, which I understand runs for about 1¼ to 1½ miles and has cost about £3,000 to £3,500, before the inquiry was held has given the impression that the company concerned thought the inquiry was merely a formality and that the necessary permission to close the road would be granted whatever objections were raised? Would my right hon. Friend like to comment on that?

It is not a formality. The fence can be realigned if it is decided to provide a new road inside the existing airfield boundary. There have been instances of dangerous trespassing on to the runways of the airfield and it was for that reason that fencing was necessary.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great part of the airfield is still open to trespassers?

Rochester Way, Woolwich


asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has for redeveloping the Rochester Way in the Borough of Woolwich as dual carriageways; and when he hopes to authorise the commencement of this work.

The London County Council as improvement authority is investigating various ways of improving A.2 between Bexley and Greenwich. Until it has decided what scheme to adopt I cannot say when I am likely to be able to consider it for grant.

Will my right hon. Friend have another look at this matter with the London County Council and see whether he cannot expedite at least the section immediately on either side of the junction of West Mount Road where the trunk road develops into one-way traffic in either direction?

I think that my hon. Friend refers to Woolwich where the A.2 ceases to be a trunk road, and here the L.C.C. is now investigating three possibilities, as I confirmed this morning. First, there is the improvement of the A.2 on its existing alignment which involves the demolition of a large amount of residential property. Secondly, there is the linking of A.2 to Shooter's Hill over open space and the improvement of Shooter's Hill. Thirdly, the L.C.C. is considering the construction of a new road alongside or above the Bexley railway line to the L.C.C. boundary. This is being actively considered at the moment.

Is there any point in continuing to develop the A.2 into a six-line carriageway until someone has made up his mind whether there really is any point in increasing the volume and speed of traffic when the road which joins it is already too narrow? The Minister is developing a six-line carriageway which will run into a bottleneck.

I do not think that is so. There is always the question when a new road is built that it takes traffic quicker and gets somewhere else where traffic conditions are more difficult, but one cannot build roads simultaneously all over the country.

Road Junction, Newcastle


asked the Minister of Transport whether he will erect signs at the junction of Sackville Road and Addycombe Terrace, Newcastle, to show clearly which of these roads is regarded as the major road.

This is primarily a matter for the local authority but I am consulting it and will write to my hon. Friend.

Horsham By-Pass (Roundabout)


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the proposed Horsham by-pass road provides for a roundabout at the A.281 crossing of approximately 620 feet in length and 435 feet in breadth; and how many other roundabouts of this size or larger are at present in use in the United Kingdom.

The plans for the bypass submitted to me by the West Sussex County Council, which is the highway authority, provide for such a roundabout.

The line of the by-pass and the land required for its construction were the subject of a public inquiry on 21st March. I cannot yet say whether the county council's plans will be approved.

There is one other roundabout of comparable size already in use; several are projected.

Whilst appreciating that a public inquiry has taken place, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he thinks that the fifteen acres which will be taken up will provide a really modern solution? Will he please press for consideration of a road that will stall be up-to-date in about ten years' time?

The reason why the roundabout is so large is that it is in line with our policy which I stated on 7th June, 1961, of providing

"flyovers in place of roundabouts at major traffic intersections where this is practicable and the volume of traffic justifies the additional cost. Some roundabouts will, however, continue to be built where they offer the most suitable form of junction. In appropriate cases new roundabouts are so designed as to permit conversion to a grade-separated junction should this become necessary later."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th June, 1961; Vol. 641, c. 91.]
That is the reason for what my hon. Friend thinks is excessive use of land.

County Surveyors' Society (Report)


asked the Minister of Transport what reply he has sent to the County Surveyors' Society in regard to the recommendations contained in its report, which has been submitted to him, concerning increasing road traffic and the need for motorways.

As the report was sent to me only two days before it was made public, I have not yet had time to give it the full consideration which it deserves. I shall, however, be pleased to discuss it with representatives of the Society and the County Councils Association in the light of the studies which my Department is already making into future highway needs.

Meanwhile I shall continue to give priority to the large programme of motorways which I have already announced. These will provide very substantial relief to traffic between the large centres of population.

Is the Minister aware that the vice-chairman of the Road Federation has stated that this report discloses a most revealing and disturbing analysis of the Government's shortcomings? Is he also aware that the report itself states that at present 1,700 miles of road are needed? Will he do something quickly about the matter?

These proposals would cost £1,000 million. They have been proposed by surveyors and they mostly relate to what happens between the towns. The great problem and the crunch in future is what happens when the traffic reaches the towns. They ignore that altgoether.


Oil Tankers (Ports)


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that ships with a registered tonnage of 130,000 tons are now being constructed for oil carrying purposes; and what ports there are in this country capable of accommodating vessels of this tonnage.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the tankers of some 130,000 deadweight, not registered, tons now being built in Japan. Under favourable conditions these could be received at Milford Haven and Finnart.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we do not have one port in the country that can receive these ships, except at two jetties? Is he aware that if any under-water repairs are required these ships cannot dock in this country and they have to go abroad? Is this the way to maintain our maritime supremacy?

These ships can be received in Milford Haven under reasonable conditions. I said that quite clearly, but the point that the hon. Member is making is that there is not a dry dock to accommodate a ship of this size. I am not aware that there is a demand for a large dry dock at Milford Haven. One is being built at Greenock, one for Vickers on the North-East Coast as being built, and one at Cammell Lairds is to be opened shortly. Therefore, the dry dock facilities in this country have greatly improved in the last few years.

Is not the tendency now to build larger and larger tankers and does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that we are not adequately equipped to deal with them? As the shipbuilding industry is not in a very bright position, would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to have a look at this matter and to consider what forward planning we should have?

On the question of providing dry dock facilities to help the shipping industry, the 850 ft. Vickers dry dock is a good example. Then there is the dock at Cammell Lairds. There is the Grayson Rollo dock in Birkenhead, and in Greenock there is another dry dock on the stocks. I am glad to say that we are doing pretty well in this respect.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that even Milford Haven cannot receive these ships? They can come up to the jetty in Milford Haven but they cannot get into Milford Haven dock.

The point is that they can be received in that deep harbour and can discharge their cargo. The fact that they cannot get alongside certain docks in Milford Haven has nothing to do with it.


Electric Railway, Tyneside


asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has to meet the increased traffic congestion, on roads for which he is responsible in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area, which will result from the proposed discontinuance of the North and South Tyneside electric train service.


asked the Minister of Transport if he will refer to the appropriate Transport Users' Consultative Committee the proposal by the British Transport Commission that the electrified lines from Newcastle to the coast should be closed.

I would refer the right hon. and hon. Members to the reply I gave on 21st March to my hon. Friends the Members for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne East (Mr. Montgomery).

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that Answer did not allay the fears of people on Tyneside? Could he please confirm whether the correct procedure here is that the British Transport Commission makes proposals and the Transport Users' Consultative Committee makes recommendations on them to the Minister? May we have an assurance that my right hon. Friend has the last word?

I can certainly give that assurance. The Commission submits its proposals to the appropriate Area Transport Users' Consultative Committee and the Central Committee considers these findings and makes recommendations where closures are concerned. The recommendations then go to the Minister who makes the final decision. I therefore can confirm what my hon. Friend has said.

Is it not time that the Government told Dr. Beeching to stop mucking about with these lines? Are we not concerned with the interest of the public, apart from modernisation and improvements and all the rest? Is this not an important consideration and will the Minister understand that if Dr. Beeching goes on in this fashion we will have to put down a Motion of censure on the gentleman?

The right hon. Gentleman, as the House well knows, considers that all transport should be a social service. I disagree with him entirely in that respect. What Dr. Beeching has to do, as I said the other day, is to try to get the right size and shape to the railway system and make it really workable.

Ballot For Notices Of Motions

Urban Central Redevelopment

I beg to give notice that on Friday, 13th April, I shall call attention to urban central redevelopment, and move a Resolution.

Youth Service (Albemarle Report)

I beg to give notice that on Friday, 13th April, I shall call attention to the Albemarle Report on the Youth Service in England and Wales, and move a Resolution.

Traffic Engineers

I beg to give notice that on Friday, 13th April, I shall call attention to the need for more traffic engineers, and move a Resolution.

Royal Academy Of Arts (Sale Of Works Of Art)

3.31 p.m.

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit the sale of all Works of art owned by the Royal Academy of Arts.
I do not propose to say anything about the merits of the Leonardo da Vinci cartoon, or about the appeal that has been launched to buy it for the nation, but I would like to question the propriety of the Royal Academy and its moral right to offer it for sale. I would have thought that the Royal Academy had no right to offer for sale any of the works of art in its trust for the nation. It seems to me that, although it may have a legal right to do so, it has no moral right.

The records of the Royal Academy on the Leonardo da Vinci cartoon are extraordinarily inadequate. Its first record of the cartoon is when it was framed in 1791. However, there is a sketch showing it hanging on the walls of the Royal Academy in 1779, which is only eleven years after the Royal Academy was first created. There is no certainty as to how the Royal Academy came into possession of the cartoon. The traditional belief is that it was a gift of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first president. He may have given it to the Royal Academy, partly to cover one of the vacant walls in the early days and partly because he thought that it was a safe place in which to place this work of art so that those interested in the arts could see it.

The important point is that there was no National Gallery in existence at that time, and my submission is that, had it been in existence, the cartoon would undoubtedly have been placed in its charge so that the nation could look after it properly and so that it could be seen by those interested in the arts. Certainly, I do not think that any donor would have given it to the Royal Academy if he had believed that, at a subsequent date, the Royal Academy would offer it for sale.

It is of some importance that the Royal Academy has in its trust quite a large number of other works of art of some significance. There are a Michelangelo marble relief, some fine Constables, and various diploma works which Academicians have submitted as specimens of their work when they were made Academicians. Some of these various works which are in the care of the Royal Academy have some historical value. Perhaps twenty or thirty may be good pictures in themselves. I do not think that any of them were given to the Royal Academy by people who believed that they might be sold at some subsequent date. They were given so that they could be seen by students and others interested in the arts.

I was interested to see a letter in The Times from a rather naïve gentleman living in New York, who described the Royal Academy as an ordinary club and asked why it should not do what it liked with its own. The fact is that it is not just an ordinary club. It was set up under Royal patronage and with Royal assistance to encourage the arts. It has done, and is doing, useful work.

Most people would agree that the summer exhibitions and the assistance which it thus gives to artists in selling their pictures without commission is a worth-while job. Especially worth while are the winter exhibitions. But most of those who know the work of the Royal Academy consider that all of it is not of equal value.

It offers free art education for 100 students. I am certain that this side of its work was very valuable in the early days, but in recent years there have grown up all over the country a very large number of schools of art. The number of distinguished artists who have been trained in recent years by the Royal Academy School of Art is not as great as in the early days, and that is significant. I suggest, therefore, that this side of its work is much less important now than it was.

We are told that the Royal Academy has not the money to meet its needs at present, but wishes, at the same time, to remain independent. But is it to be the case that, whenever finance is short, the Royal Acadamy, in order to meet its deficits and find the money for what it wishes to do, does so by selling off not only this Leonardo da Vinci cartoon but all the other works of art in its trust? Are we to see another appeal, in a few years' time, for someone to buy the Michelangelo relief when the £800,000 which the Royal Academy hopes to get from the Leonardo da Vinci sale has been spent? Are the Constables to be sold later? Possibly even Burlington House itself might be sold. It occupies a very valuable site and a great deal of money could be obtained for it.

Ninety-nine years ago, at the instance of this House, a Royal Commission was set up to examine the affairs of the Royal Academy. It was a very speedy commission, for it was appointed in February and reported in July—which must be a record. The terms of reference instructed it to inquire
"… into the present position of the Royal Academy and to suggest such measures as may render it more useful in promoting the arts."
I suggest that another Royal Commission might well be set up now to do just the same job. The Royal Commission had useful results. One of the things that followed from it was that the Royal Academy moved from the National Gallery, where it had a lease, into property of its own. Most of the other minor suggestions were also carried out.

There is a strong case for investigating the activities and finances of the Royal Academy. It does not publish its accounts. There is a strong case, especially at a time when an appeal is being launched to find £800,000, for our at least knowing how the Royal Academy spends its money and for hearing about how the £800,000 is to be spent, if it is obtained. After all, the public is to find the money, even if not through taxation. The nation, therefore, has a right to have information about the activities of the Royal Academy—more information than is given at present about how its money is spent.

The Royal Academy is very squeamish about direct public help, but is not so squeamish about getting it indirectly. Our experience in recent years shows that there is no real danger in this country of State interference in the arts. We have created a very happy arrangement here which is much admired in the United States and many other countries. By that arrangement, we give assistance in various directions without Government interference. We have, for instance, the University Grants Committee and the Arts Council.

Some hon. Members were complaining the other day that the Arts Council was rather too independent. But our solution, by which the Government of the day does not interfere with the way in which these bodies carry on their activities, deciding only how much money they are to receive, is a satisfactory way of giving assistance, however.

There is, therefore, a case for saying that we want to know rather more about how the Royal Academy carries out its affairs and how it spends its money. Until we have had some kind of report on its activities, we should not permit it to sell any more of the works of art in its charge. I repeat that they are in its charge on behalf of the nation, and are not there to be disposed of whenever the Royal Academy is in financial difficulty. We should not permit the Royal Academy to sell any of its works of art until we have further information and have had some kind of commission of inquiry.

I hope that the House will give me leave to introduce my Bill.

3.40 p.m.

I oppose the Motion. I appreciate the arguments which the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has advanced, but I do not believe that it is right that this House should interfere in the private affairs of an academy or association of this sort.

The Royal Academy is a private institution. It was founded in 1768, mainly at the instigation of Sir William Chambers. At the start, it received Royal patronage. George III offered to make good any "deficiencies" in the initial stages of getting the Academy going, and I believe that up to 1780, when the "deficiencies" ceased, £5,000 had been extended from the Royal purse—an act of Royal extravagance that was not, I am happy to say, attacked by the Press barons of the day.

The Royal Academy, therefore, has been entirely independent for 182 years, and during those years it has done very valuable work indeed. It has provided free education for students in all branches of art, and has provided exhibitions of all those forms of art in this country. It has also done much to organise lectures and exhibitions of all kinds, and I am sure that the whole country would acknowledge that its activities are very worth while.

The great thing is that here we have a private and voluntary organisation which has said publicly that it does not want to approach this House for public money. It does not want any subsidy, but wishes to maintain its independence from this House and the State. What a worthy and admirable principle that is. How nice it would be if more organisations adopted that attitude. I might add that I commend that attitude to the citizens of Orpington as well.

Parliament has no right whatsoever to interfere with the affairs of the Royal Academy, although it has attempted to do so on several occasions. In 1839, Parliament tried to control the accounts and to get the Royal Academy to publish a report on its activities. The Motion was carried at a late night sitting, but was reversed during the following morning, when that attempt was defeated by 38 votes to 33. I only hope that we have a bigger majority in killing the hon. Member's proposed Bill this afternoon.

I believe that there is no precedent for this House to interfere in the Academy's affairs. Further, I believe that it would be an intolerable infringement of the Liberty of private organisations should this House attempt to do so. Indeed, if the Bill were to reach the Statute Book I should not be surprised if it became known as the "Nosey Parker" Bill.

In addition, the principle behind the Bill is one of discrimination against one particular association, at the expense of one association, for the national good, and that is another principle to which I take objection. The Royal Academy maintains its affairs very well. It does not come to the House for public money, it is unsubsidised, and it is a thoroughly worthy institution. We have no right to interfere with its affairs, or to say whether or not it shall sell or otherwise dispose of its possessions.

The hon. Member is right to be concerned about the future of the Leonardo da Vinci cartoon, but under its present rules the Academy has every right to sell. Further, if it is short of money I think that the Academy has taken the correct decision. Of the works of art it now owns—and the hon. Gentleman referred to them—there are about 40 oil paintings and 18 pieces of sculpture. All but three or four of the works are directly connected with the Royal Academy and with past Academicians. There are also these three or four works of art of great international value, of which one is the Leonardo da Vinci cartoon, which are in no sense connected with this country, the Royal Academy, or any part of our history.

The National Gallery is, of course, the correct place for these works, and no doubt had it been in existence when the Royal Academy was set up that is where they would have gone, but the National Gallery was not built until 1824—about fifty years later—so that there was no other repository for national works of art of this kind. That is probably how they found their way to the Royal Academy.

While the cartoon remains with the Royal Academy, the Academy's students, art students elsewhere in the country, members of the public and visitors from abroad cannot necessarily see it, whereas if it were in the National Gallery everyone could see it. It is surely more desirable that it should be in such a place as the National Gallery, where all can see it, rather than in a private institution which might not exhibit it all the time.

Division No. 136.]


[3.59 p.m.

Abse, LeoHarper, J.Mitchison, G. R.
Ainsley, WilliamHart, Mrs. JudithMoody, A. S.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Healey, DenisNicholson, Sir Godfrey
Awbery, StanHenderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Bowles, FrankHolman, PercyOliver, G. H.
Brockway, A. FennerHughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Proctor, W. T.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Rankin, John
Castle, Mrs. BarbaraHunter, A. E.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cliffe, MichaelHynd, H. (Accrington)Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Cullen, Mrs. AliceJanner, Sir BarnettSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Jones, T. W. (Merloneth)Spriggs, Leslie
Deer, GeorgeKenyon, CliffordStewart, Michael (Fulham)
Digby, Simon WingfieldKey, Rt. Hon. C. W.Swingler, Stephen
Ede, Rt. Hon. C.Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Symonds, J. B.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Lipton, MarcusThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Fernyhougth, E.Loughlin, CharlesThompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Finch, HaroldMabon, Dr. J. DicksonWarbey, William
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)McInnes, JamesWells, Percy (Faversham)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Mackie, John (Enfield, East)Wigg, George
Forman, J. C.McLeavy, FrankWilkins, W. A.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Gooch, E. C.Mallalleu, E. L. (Brlgg)Worsley, Marcus
Gourlay, HarryManuel, ArchieYates, Victor (Ladywood)
Greenwood, AnthonyMason, Roy
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mellish, R. J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hannan, WilliamMilne, EdwardMr. Parker and Mr. Jeger.

It is particularly unfortunate that the proposed Bill should be brought in at a time when we know that the Leonardo da Vinci is not to be sold at auction if the necessary sum of money can be raised by subscription. With some generosity, I think, the Academy has agreed to let the picture go for £800,000 when it might well have obtained more at private auction. That gives our people an opportunity to show, by their subscriptions, that they want the picture to stay here. Equally, if the hon. Member for Dagenham wishes the picture to stay in this country, he has his opportunity to subscribe towards that end. I hope that there will be a generous response to the fund, and that the requisite amount of money will be obtained from private subscribers without any public money going towards it at all.

I believe that, in the long run, the country will get the works of art for which it is prepared to pay, and that it is totally wrong to take a discriminatory short cut by means of a piece of bad legislation like this. I recommend the House not to give the hon. Member leave to bring in his Bill.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 12 ( Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business):—

The House divided: Ayes 81, Noes 157.


Agnew, Sir PeterGlyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)Noble, Michael
Altken, w. T.Goodhart, PhilipNugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard
Ashton, Sir HubertGoodhew, VictorOakshott, Sir Hendrie
Balniel, LordGower, RaymondOsborn, John (Hallam)
Barlow, Sir JohnGrant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Batsford, BrianGresham Cooke, R.Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. C.Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Bell, RonaldHale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Peel, John
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Hall, John (Wycombe)Peyton, John
Berkeley, HumphryHamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Pitt, Miss Edith
Bidgood, John C.Harvie Anderson, MissPowell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Biffen, JohnHastings, StephenPrice, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Biggs-Davison, JohnHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelProudfoot, Wilfred
Bossom, CliveHicks Beach, Maj. W.Pym, Francis
Box, DonaldHill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Renton, David
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir WalterHirst, GeoffreyRhodes, H.
Brooman-White, R.Hobson, Sir JohnRidsdale, Julian
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Holt, ArthurRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Howard, John (Southampton, Test)Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)
Buck, AntonyHughes-Young, MichaelRussell, Ronald
Bullard, DenysIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Sharples, Richard
Butcher, Sir HerbertJames, DavidShaw, M.
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Skeet, T. H. H.
Campbell, Cordon (Moray & Nairn)Jennings, J. C.Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Cary, Sir RobertJohnson, Eric (Blackley)Spearman, Sir Alexander
Channon, H. P. G.Johnson Smith, GeoffreyStanley, Hon. Richard
Chataway, ChristopherKaberry, Sir DonaldStudholme, Sir Henry
Chichester-Clark, R.Kerr, Sir HamiltonTalbot, John E.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Kershaw, AnthonyTemple, John M.
Cleaver, LeonardKimball, MarcusThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Cooper, A. E.Lagden, GodfreyThornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Cordle, JohnLancaster, Col. C. G.Tilney John (Wavertree)
Costain, A. P.Leavey, J. A.Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Crowder, F. P.Leburn, GilmourTurner, Colin
Cunningham, KnoxLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryTurton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Curran, CharlesLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Dalkeith, Earl ofLilley, F. J. P.Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Dance, JamesLindsay, Sir MartinWade, Donald
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryLitchfield, Capt. JohnWalker, Peter
Duncan, Sir JamesLucas-Tooth, Sir HughWall, Patrick
Eden, JohnMcLaren, MartinWard, Dame Irene
Elliott, R. W. (Nwctle-upon-Tyne, N.)Maitland, Sir JohnWebster, David
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynManningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Wells, John (Maldstone)
Errington, Sir EricMarlowe, AnthonyWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Farey-Jonee, F. W.Marples, Rt. Hon. ErnestWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Finlay, GraemeMarshall, DouglasWise, A. R.
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMatthews, Gordon (Meriden)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Freeth, DenzilMaxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Woodhouse, C. M.
Gammans, LadyMontgomery, FergusWoodnutt, Mark
George, J. C. (Pollok)Morgan, William
Gilmour, Sir JohnMorrison, JohnTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Glover, Sir DouglasMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesMr. Ridley and Mr. More.
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Nabarro, Gerald

House Of Lords Reform

3.57 p.m.

I beg to move.

That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament be appointed to consider whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the rights of Peers of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain or of the United Kingdom, and of Peeresses in their own right, to sit in either House of Parliament, or to vote at Parliamentary elections, and whether, and if so under what conditions, a Peer should be enabled to surrender a peerage permanently or for his lifetime or for any less period having regard to the effects and consequences thereof.
Reading through the different debates and discussions that this House has had, particularly since 1948, on the question of House of Lords reform, I find one name cropping up over and over again, that of Clement Davies. He was the last remaining Member of the House who took part in the 1948 Conference. He was a member of the Committee of Privilege last Session Which considered the Wedgwood Benn case. He spoke on 13th April, 1961, and surely if he had been alive today he would have taken part in this debate.

In all the notices and obituaries that I nave read about Clement Davies, the same phrase keeps recurring, that he was a kind man, and it is the phrase that I would use. He was kind and generous; he was always both kind and generous to me from the first day that I met him as a very new Member. I am sure that his great heart must have been cheered in his last days by the splendid victory that the party to which he gave so much secured. I think that we are poorer as a House and poorer as individual Members for his passing.

There is, of course, a good deal of history to the Motion which I have moved. The House will remember that following the debate on 13th April last year my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who was then Leader of the House, gave notice on 26th April of the terms of reference for a Joint Select Committee. The terms of reference which I now put before the House differ in two respects, one major and one minor, from my right hon. Friend's proposals.

The less important point is that I do not now propose that we should include consideration of the principle of remuneration for Members of the House of Lords. The previous statement was made before my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's statement in July last year, but I would not wish to argue a special pre-pause commitment on this occasion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Two and a half per cent."] I cannot work out 2½ per cent. of three guineas quickly enough—but it is an interesting idea. It would be inappropriate to put forward this part of the original terms of reference now, although no doubt it is a matter that ought to be considered at some time. The important point in respect of which my Motion differs from that of my predecessor is in relation to what was paragraph (a) of his Motion—the composition of the House of Lords.

In the debate that centred upon the case of Lord Stansgate, or Mr. Wedgwood Benn—as one pleases—the Government indicated that there were matters beyond the question of renunciation which they would wish to study. These matters are enshrined in today's Motion. But we are not now suggesting that there should also be a review of the general composition of the House of Lords. If hon. Members will refer to the discussion in this House which followed the statement of 26th April last, they will see at once that the question of powers was raised in this context, and also the question of the abolition of the hereditary principle.

The Government did not feel that there would be any profit in embarking upon a discussion of these matters, or that there would be any hope of agreement. They felt that there might not even have been agreement to proceed to set up a Joint Select Committee. Accordingly, we have decided not to put forward this wide and general point as part of the Motion. It has become clear that to do so would lead to a frustration of the whole case, and I believe that by proceeding in the way that is now proposed we have the best chance of a reasonable advance in this matter.

Before I come to the matters that are covered by the Motion it is right that I should make some reference to one point which, in my view—although it will be for the Joint Select Committee to construe its terms of reference—is not so covered. I refer to the possibility of Ministers in another place being entitled to address this House. The House will be aware that this suggestion was recently canvassed in The Times of 14th March. There are precedents in other legislatures for similar arrangements. Section 52 of the South Africa Act, 1909, provided for this. [An HON. MEMBER: "We do not want it."] I wish to argue the case whether this point is or is not within the terms of reference. I am giving my opinion that it is not. It is an important matter, on which I would wish to speak for a moment or two. Section 18 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, followed the precedent and reproduced the wording of the South Africa Act.

As hon. Members know, we, as Members of the House of Commons, have over centuries exercised the very strictest control in the matter of allowing strangers to address us in this Chamber. The occasions upon which peers have been invited to do so fall into three categories, as far as I can discover. The first is when the Lords ask leave to address the Commons for the purpose of thanking them for favours offered; the second is when they ask leave to address the Commons in connection with legal proceedings; and the third is when they are invited to give evidence on a subject which the Commons are investigating.

Apart from these special cases—and the last instance I can find of this is of the Duke of Wellington addressing this House in 1814—theme is no precedent since 1558. I have a quotation relating to what took place then, which is as follows:
"The Lord Chancellor, the Lord Treasurer and several Lords came into the House, sitting where the Queen's Privy Council used to sit, and the Lord Chancellor, by his oration, declared that a subsidy must be had."
It is not recorded what were the observations of the Commons to the Lord Chancellor's observation, but I doubt whether it went with much of a swing.

I am surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman quote these precedents, which were very much in my mind and also in the mind of the Leader of the House when we discussed the Wedgwood Benn issue. On that occasion the right hon. Member solemnity voted against the disputed peer coming to the Bar of the House. Why does he quote these precedents now?

Because the case that we discussed a year ago does not fall within any of the categories that I have mentioned. It is clear from what I have said that there is no valid precedent for a Member of the House of Lords, in his capacity as a Minister of the Crown, addressing the Commons in their Chamber. My view, as a Minister whose name is put to the Motion, is that such a proposal would not be within the terms of reference that I am putting before the House. I leave that matter there.

The terms of reference that I propose are intended to cover questions of the surrender of peerages and the consequences thereof, and certain anomalies in the position of hereditary peeresses and Scottish and Irish peers. When we consider the question of the surrender of peerages I suppose that we think mostly in terms of a person being eligible to vote at parliamentary elections and to sit in this House. But behind these issues there lie many questions which the Joint Select Committee will be examining—questions of extinction or renunciation in favour of heirs, of certain privileges and exemptions, such as the right of individual access to the Sovereign which it attached to the peerage, and questions about property that devolves, by Statute, upon the peers.

There are the questions—although they may be secondary questions—of which peers or classes of peers should be able to surrender their peerages; whose permission, if anyone's, they need; in what circumstances this right should be exercised, and for how long it should be held.

The Committee will also wish to consider, under the terms of the Motion, certain special problems that affect peers of Scotland—such as the question Whether non-representative Scottish peers should be entitled to sit in either House, to vote at parliamentary elections, or, in certain circumstances, to surrender their peerages. Similar points, which I need not itemise, affect peers of Ireland. In particular, there is the question whether they should be eligible for election to this House as Members for Northern Ireland constituencies as well as other constituencies.

Thirdly, there is the question of hereditary peeresses of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. It would be necessary to consider whether female holders either of baronies by right or hereditary peerages by grant should be entitled to sit in another place, perhaps despite an express prohibition in the grant—or should be entitled to sit in this House, or enabled to surrender their peerages.

This is a complicated field for the Committee's consideration, and I hope that the House will agree that we could not enter it without reference to the Upper House. This was explicitly recognised in the majority Report of the Committee of Privileges on the Wedgwood Benn Petition, and in the Amendments moved to it. That makes almost inevitable the use of the sort of machinery that I am suggesting—a Joint Select Committee. We cannot bind the Joint Select Committee as to its procedure before it is appointed; that would be unconstitutional. But some time ago we put in hand the preparation of the material that the Committee might require for its discussion, and this will be ready for it.

My right hon. Friend mentioned the question of the non-representative Scottish peers and also the Irish peers. Would he say whether the terms of reference as they are now drawn would permit the Joint Select Committee to go into the whole question of the possibility of English representative peers and non-representative English peers being eligible for membership of this House?

The position about that is that it is for the Joint Select Committee itself to construe its terms of reference. I will ask the Attorney-General, who hopes to reply to the debate, to deal again with this point after considering it. My rather "off the cuff" view would be that the terms of reference I propose would not cover that specific point.

Freedom of decision on the action that a Government takes is, naturally, something that the Government must ensure and reserve for itself. Of course, I cannot be taken as binding the Government to introduce legislation to implement any recommendations that the Committee may make. When one considers matters relating to constitutional change it is always, if one can do it, highly desirable to move with at least some measure of all-party agreement and with the general consent of both Houses.

This is a particularly difficult subject and one where considerable divergence of view is to be expected. Nevertheless, I believe that the Motion I am putting forward, which concentrates on the question of surrender and its implications and also a considerable number of anomalies that I believe a Joint Select Committee could profitably examine, represents the most hopeful approach to this subject.

I hope therefore that, after debate, the Motion will command the support of the House.

4.12 p.m.

The Leader of the House began his speech with a graceful and well-expressed reference to the death of Mr. Clement Davies. I should like to associate myself and my right hon. and hon. Friends with what he said about our late colleague. He was a kind man. He was a friendly man. I think that all of us had an affection for him. He was also a very staunch parliamentarian. He loved this House and he was devoted to it. Perhaps that was expressed most clearly by his efforts to improve the remuneration and conditions under which hon. Members work here. We pay this tribute to his memory and express our sympathy with his widow and his family.