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Orders Of The Day

Volume 656: debated on Thursday 29 March 1962

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South Africa Bill

As amended ( in the Standing Committee), considered.

4.15 p.m.

The new Clause standing in the name of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) and other right hon. and hon. Members—"Defence agreements between the United Kingdom and South Africa"—is out of order.

On a point of order. I accept your direction, Mr. Speaker, but may I seek your guidance on one point? In view of the very serious situation, because of rearmament in South Africa, assisted by this country, will there be an opportunity during the consideration of the Bill to raise this matter?

No. On Third Reading the House can discuss only the contents of the Bill as they will be, because the new Clause is out of order.

Clause 1—(Nationality, Etc)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, at the end to insert:

(5) In pursuance of an address presented to Her Majesty by both Houses of Parliament Her Majesty may make an Order in Council substituting for the year nineteen hundred and sixty-five in subsections (2) and (3) of this section such later date as may be specified in such Order in Council.
The Amendment is an attempt to meet a difficulty which was felt by hon. Members on both sides in Standing Committee. I was not a member of the Committee, but I have very carefully studied its proceedings. As the Bill now stands, anyone in the Union of South Africa or coming to South Africa who wishes to elect for British citizenship must make his election within a comparatively short time—in about three and a half years, before the end of 1965. Before the end of that year he must either apply for British citizenship or give notice of the application.

In Committee, my hon. Friends proposed an Amendment which would have secured in effect that there would be no time limit. That was what was referred to as the Irish situation. The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) proposed something in the nature of a compromise Amendment. He proposed to extend the time from the end of 1965 to the end of 1967. Both Amendments were resisted by the Minister of State, Home Department.

On 8th March, the hon. and learned Gentleman said this:
"The third point is that, whatever our attitude may be towards certain of the policies of the South African Government, we have made it plain—my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal made it plain on several occasions and so have other right hon. Friends of high Cabinet rank—that it would clearly run counter to this country's normal practice in its relations with foreign countries to write into our law special provisions to facilitate the acquisition of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies by people who may now be dissatisfied or who may at a later date become dissatisfied with the country of their birth."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A; 8th March, 1962, c. 53.]

Of course, it would run counter to our normal practice, but the answer is that we are not here dealing with a normal situation. We are dealing with a unique state of affairs. We are considering the position of 10 million people who are being deprived of their status as Her Majesty's subjects without being consulted at all. This is a situation which has never arisen before.

In Committee, hon. Members were very largely concerned, and rightly so, with the South African of British stock who has to make the very painful or difficult choice—whether to remain in the country of his adoption or his family's adoption or whether to opt for British nationality. I invite the House to consider a somewhat different case, namely, the position of the African. Somebody may be in the position of Chief Luthuli, or there may be somebody like, for example, Mr. Oliver Tambo, who has managed to make his escape from the Union. In future, many politically conscious Africans may find life in this police State quite intolerable, but it will not be possible for them to get out.

One of the most repellent features of the South African régime is the restriction it places on those who wish to travel abroad. We all know the sort of case that has arisen; if an African is awarded a scholarship at a British or American university the chances are that he will not be allowed a passport and so will not be able to accept the scholarship. In such circumstances, the only way in which an African can leave South Africa is by defying the law.

We know that some African leaders—I have just referred to one of them—have defied the law successfully. Some of them are in London now and, presumably, if they choose to stay here it will be open to them, after the lapse of five years, to be registered as British citizens. But suppose there are some who, for one reason or another, cannot make their escape. Theoretically, it might be possible for them to lodge their application for citizenship even from the Union of South Africa, and hope that they will be able to come here later, but, in practice, it might be very difficult, or inadvisable, for them to do so.

I am one of those who believe that in that situation it would be far better if we had no final date at all. I do not see why we should not apply the Irish formula to a situation that exists in relation to South Africa. Since, in Committee, the Government refused two other Amendments that were proposed, I now suggest a compromise. We do not know how events will develop in the Union. By 1964 or 1965 a situation may very well arise in which refugees will come to this country from South Africa, and in those circumstances it might be thought desirable to extend the time. My Amendment would enable that to be done without fresh legislation; all that would be needed would be an Address from both Houses of Parliament.

I think that the Amendment would be a little more important than that. We have to make it clear from this House to the people—and particularly the African people—inside the Union that they are not forgotten and are not deserted. If we pass an Amendment of this kind—and I hope that it will be accepted by the Government—we shall make a small contribution to that end.

Those hon. Members who were members of the Committee know that T have not been at all happy about having the date 1965 in the Bill; and that I would have liked a later date. I think that the date in the Bill puts both South Africans of British descent and Africans in a great difficulty, especially as it looks as though that will be about the time of a General Election, but I cannot believe that the solution put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) would be satisfactory.

The hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment would leave us in a position in which no one would know whether this House, at a later stage, would vote in favour of a prolongation of the time, and it would make it even more difficult for those in South Africa at the moment who have to make the very difficult decision of whether or not to give notice.

That being so, I would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to think again about his proposal. I was defeated in my endeavour to prolong the date, but I agree with the Government that this is not a case for the Irish solution put forward in Committee by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey). I still maintain that the time is too short, but I do not believe that by leaving the position indeterminate we would be aiding those whom we want to help.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) that this Amendment does not provide a satisfactory solution, but it is put forward as a compromise between the Amendment proposed in Committee by the right hon. Gentleman, and that put forward from our side.

I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman and the House that to accept this Amendment would be a great deal better than to leave the position as it is. It is quite true that there would be some indefiniteness about it, and that neither the residents of the Republic of British or Dutch stock nor the indigenous population, and the Asians and the Coloured people, would have certainty of the period of their opting to become citizens of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth. Even so, that would be a great deal preferable to the position as it is left in the Bill as it stands.

In Committee, I spoke more particularly of the quite unique situation in the Republic, where the vast majority of the population had no voice at all in the decision to leave the Commonwealth. There are about 3 million white voters, and the entire decision was in their hands. There are 8 million Africans. Asians and Coloured persons—the vast majority of the population—and they had no voice in that decision whatsoever. It is not the case that if this Amendment were adopted they would be left in a position that would not be of advantage to them. The possibility would exist of extending British Citizenship to them after five years.

I wish we could think that within a period of five years the situation in the Republic of South Africa will have so changed that they will not need to become refugees from the territory, but I fear that the most optimistic of us would be too optimistic if we imagined that a situation of that kind will come about.

I am particularly anxious "hat this Amendment should be accepted because that would give the Government an opportunity to accept a proposal that I made in Committee—one which the representatives of the Government did not oppose but which they said they were ready to consider. The proposal I then made was that the Government should decide that refugees from the Republic of South Africa should be provided with an international certificate which, in the First World War, was known as a Nansen passport, and which, in the Second World War, was adopted in a new form. Acceptance of this Amendment would not merely allow that solution of the problem to be reached during the first five years, but would allow it to be reached at any time when those rights were extended by the Order in Council that is proposed.

I want to speak very seriously indeed to the Minister on this matter. I have here a letter from the Prime Minister of one of the leading member countries of the Commonwealth, who has seen my suggestion that an international certificate similar to the Nansen passport should be provided for refugees. He states that his reaction to my proposal for something in the nature of a Nansen passport was that it would be a good thing and that he has instructed his delegation at the United Nations to look at this proposal.

I regard this as the due international recognition first of the decision of the Republic of South Africa to withdraw from the Commonwealth, secondly of the resolutions which have been adopted in this House, and, thirdly, of, the resolutions which have been adopted in the United Nations General Assembly. This is the kind of international recognition which should be given to the wrongs of the great majority of the people of the Republic in the fact that their country has left the Commonwealth without them having any opportunity to record their vote because they are outlaws in their own country.

I hope that the Minister of State will consider the Amendment along with encouraging the Government to provide an international certificate to the outlawed peoples of the Republic of South Africa in the way I suggested in Committee—a suggestion which, as I have pointed out, has the very striking support of the Prime Minister of one of our largest Commonwealth countries.

4.30 p.m.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) said, when moving the Amendment, that it provided a compromise solution. I have no doubt that he would be the first to agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) that it is, therefore, not altogether a satisfactory one.

The question before the House is not whether this is a completely satisfactory solution, but the rather simpler question of whether a closed door is better than an open one. The merit of the Amendment is that it keeps the door open and, for my part, I beseech the Minister of State to get away from the kind of argument he deployed in Committee; that the sort of Amendments proposed by my hon. Friends to deal with this problem represented a considerable departure from the previous pattern of legislation dealing with these matters. All hon. Members would agree that it does represent a considerable departure, but the whole situation is unprecedented. It is a tragic situation and something that calls for new solutions.

We have before us the problems created by two communities—the African community in South Africa, for whom life is being made intolerable by the Government of that country, and the white Africans of, to use a general term, British extraction for whom life may be made intolerable at any future time. We know that the situation in South Africa is intensely dangerous. The situation with which the Amendment seeks to deal may arise at any time and, therefore, I urge the Government, purely from humane considerations, to get away from the technicalities of precedents and to consider by what means they can help to deal with this potentially tragic situation.

I hope that the Minister of State will accept the Amendment. We tried hard in Committee to get some response from him by tabling various Amendments, but we were not very successful. The Minister will recall that his right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) appealed strongly for him to extend the date for, I believe, another two years. That suggestion was turned down with the argument that there should be a time limit but that the one in the Bill was reasonable. "After all," said the Minister of State, "why argue about a year or two?"

The Minister does not seem to realise that that was exactly our case. It was also the case submitted by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton. "Why argue about a year or two?" is exactly what we were saying, for we cannot see what the situation will be in 1965. It may be that the situation will have cleared up by then and that all will be happy and bright in South Africa. But does any hon. Member really believe that that will be so? The Amendment now before us is an attempt to meet the situation.

Although the Minister of State said "Why argue about a year or two?" he would not extend the date for that additional time. He refused to do so and he sat rigid, determined to make no alteration. The Minister may again say that the Government do not want to extend it for a year or two, but if he accepts the Amendment he will give the Government an opportunity of reviewing the situation in the light of events existing in the future.

Thus the Amendment provides a reasonable compromise. It does away with the argument about the meaning of "a year or two" and it gives the Government an opportunity of seeing what the situation is. It does not tie their hands or require them to ask the House to grant an extension or fresh legislation. It is a simple solution which gives flexibility to a situation which may, in the future, be dangerous for those in South Africa and harrowing for those in this country.

The fact that South Africa has left the Commonwealth is full of regrettable consequences. I greatly understand the feelings of hon. Members who have spoken to the Amendment. They have made yet another attempt to overcome the difficulty that millions of people—8 million African people—in South Africa will eventually, as a result of South Africa leaving the Commonwealth, become aliens and those even who do not wish to remain in South Africa may find themselves unable to get away from there.

Believe me, in our attitude towards the Bill we are not ignoring all those facts. But, alas, we must face the consequences of South Africa leaving the Commonwealth.

The hon. and learned Gentleman uses the phrase "We must face the consequences of South Africa leaving the Commonwealth." Why, when there is the possibility of human tragedy, do the Government stand rigid on this point while we try our utmost to make them realise the reality of the situation? After all, the business interests will retain their Imperial preferences and there is also the sugar agreement. If those can be retained, then surely, when we are dealing with a matter of human beings, we should get a better response from the Government than we are getting?

I am dealing with the question of nationality and I do not think that that is easily mixed up with such questions as sugar agreements and British preferences.

Why should there be concessions in one direction and not in another? Why do the Government make vast concessions to one set of interests and no concessions at all to another?

That is completely untrue. If the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) would study the Amendment he would see that it deals with the question of extending the time for taking advantage of the nationality concessions that we have put into the Bill in order to acknowledge the fact that there are many people in South Africa who may wish to retain their connection with the United Kingdom and Colonies.

My hon. Friend has a perfectly fair point. He has pointed out that where it is a question of transitional hardship resulting to business interests and sugar interests the Government have stepped in and have given concessions, but that where it is a question of transitional hardship to individuals on account of nationality the Government have taken a stiffer line.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will examine the nationality concessions in the Bill. He will find one under paragraph 4 of the First Schedule relating to Section 12 (6) of the British Nationality Act, 1948. The concession which we are giving there is one which we should be giving to people who become aliens, and it is a concession which will not be enjoyed by other people in the Commonwealth. I should have thought that to that extent we are going out of our way to recognise the position of people in South Africa. I know how strongly the hon. Gentleman feels about this—we all do in different ways—but I do not consider that he has made a fair or valid point.

May I now attempt to answer—I hope without too much interruption, because we are not in Committee—the points which have been made by the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) and other hon. Members. At first sight, this looks like a valiant attempt to reach a compromise, but, as I shall show, it is not a satisfactory one—my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has already pointed out one of the disadvantages—and, indeed, it could operate in such a way that it would not be a compromise at all.

The knowledge that the concessions which are available in the Bill might be extended would surely introduce an undesirable element of uncertainty. I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree with me that whenever we are legislating it is our duty to try to achieve certainty, not only as to meaning but as to effect and as to the application of the proposed law.

Is there not a serious danger that if we made this provision for the extension of the time limit of the concession, which is three years and seven months beyond 31st May, false hopes might be raised? This could result in serious hardship to individuals who mistakenly calculated on an extension which, in the event, was not introduced. I know that hon. Members who have spoken are anxious—and they made this even more clear in Committee—to provide for the possibility of future developments in South Africa.

Of course, if such a factor were accepted as relevant, there would be no justification for any time at all, so we should be no further forward. But surely the very important and fundamental matter that we have to consider on this Amendment is that it is necessary that the intended scope of these transitional provisions should be immediately apparent, that their meaning, the opportunities that they give and the time within which the opportunities can be exercised should be apparent.

This concession under which South Africans will be allowed to have a privilege normally exclusive to Commonwealth citizens is certainly justifiable as a temporary measure but to leave the terminal date open indefinitely would surely blur the distinction which we properly have to draw, whenever we are talking about nationality, between people who are British subjects or Commonwealth citizens on the one hand and people who are foreigners on the other hand. It really would undermine one of the basic principles of the Bill if we allowed this concession to dangle indefinitely into the future.

It would undermine the basic principle that it should be clearly apparent that South Africans, as citizens of what has become a foreign country, should within the foreseeable future be treated as foreign people—we say from 31st May—but that for a reasonable period—we think three years and seven months in the circumstances is not unreasonable—they should have these special opportunities of registering as British subjects but that finality must be reached some day.

As I said in Standing Committee, there is no particular magic about the date that we have chosen, namely, the end of 1965. That in itself, as I pointed out, is a reasonable compromise. It is a compromise between the interests of the individuals concerned and the logical result of South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth. We really cannot have the best of both worlds.

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) once more raised the question—and I am glad he did because it is an important question—of how those people who are unable to take advantage of the concessions for one reason or another—perhaps because they are prevented from leaving South Africa—could eventually take advantage of them by means of the modern equivalent of a Nansen passport. The matter is sufficiently important for me not merely to refer to what was said in Committee but to put it on the record again.

Any alien who is in the United Kingdom, who is Stateless or cannot get a passport from his own Government, can obtain a travel document from the Home Office in accordance with the international conventions on the status of refugees and the status of stateless persons. South Africans in this country will benefit from these arrangements equally with other people.

There is only one point that I need add, and it is this. Under the international conventions it is the practice—indeed, it is part of the conventions—that those documents should only be issued by the Government of the country where the person is at the time that he applies for them. Even the original Nansen passports, therefore, could only be issued by the Government in this country in favour of people who were already here. That rule has prevailed all through these years, and it is still the rule. I think that it is the most sensible rule possible. I hope that that answers the hon. Gentleman and meets the points which he was making.

May I put these two points? I welcomed the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement when he said that this arrangement will apply to refugees in this country. Could he again give the assurance which he gave in Committee, so that it may be on the record, that it will also apply to refugees in British Protectorates and the colonies?

My second point is this. I recognise the very considerable generosity with which the international convention is applied in this country. I should like the hon. and learned Gentleman to get it accepted by the United Nations for general adoption in the case of refugees from South Africa.

On the last point, it would be quite improper for me to express a view. In any event, I think that it would be a view for the Foreign Office to express. On the hon. Gentleman's first point, these are Home Office travel documents about which I have been speaking, and I have been describing the Home Office practice. As I understand the position, although I think this is a matter for my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, the same practice applies in the case of the Governments of different Colonial Territories and Protectorates.

The hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells) and the hon. and learned Member for Crewe beseeched me not to rely upon precedent in this matter. They will have noticed that in putting forward the answer to the Amendment I have not relied upon precedent at all. Indeed, there is only one precedent, and that is the Burma one. It was considered in Committee for what it is worth, and considered mainly from the point of view of whether three years seven months was reasonable or not.

I concede that there is no precedent for what is happening here, and I should not like it to be thought that the Government's case in any sense relies on precedent, but, at the same time, when we are legislating in an important matter it is right to point out the general principles on which we have legislated on a similar matter in the past in order that we do not utterly ignore those principles. One of those principles is that when legislating on nationality matters we do not attempt to forecast the events, for good or for evil, which may take place in some foreign country at some future stage. That is as far as I wish to go.

I have spoken at some length, because I realise that this is an important matter, but for the reasons that I have given, we do not regard the Amendment as a compromise in practice because it could merely operate in such a way that people thought there would be no time limit at all, and in any event even to the extent that it could be regarded as a compromise, it is not one which we could accept.

We on this side of the House are very grateful to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) for coming to our assistance after our unavailing efforts in Committee to make the Bill more lenient in these respects—efforts which were not confined to this side, but extended to the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton).

Our general view is that the Bill in its two parts is exactly wrong. It is rigid in this part dealing with persons, where it ought to be lenient, and it is lenient in the later part dealing with property, where it ought to be rigid. Therefore, we see no inconsistency whatever in attempting to amend it in the one sense on this early part and in the opposite sense on the later part.

There have been three propositions on the question of the time limit. That of the right hon. Gentleman was simply to extend it by a fixed period. We pressed in Committee that there should be no period. Now my hon. and learned Friend has this ingenious proposal that there should be no fixed time limit but that there should be the possibility in the hands of the Government of extending the time limit.

The Minister of State has given us two reasons against our proposal. One is that it would introduce an element of uncertainty into the position and would raise false hopes. There is some force in that, and, frankly, I should prefer to have no time limit. However, I do not think that there is really very much in it. After all, it is better to give a man some hope than no hope at all.

I cannot agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman at all when he says that we ought not to take into account the uncertainty of the future situation in South Africa. On the contrary, I think we ought to take that into account, because we cannot possibly foresee what it will be. It might be unnecessary, of course, to have this provision, but it might be desperately necessary to have it. Therefore, I find very little force in that argument.

The hon. and learned Gentleman's other argument is the one he used in Committee, that this is a grave departure from our general principles in dealing with those who have become aliens—citizens of other countries. One has, of course, to admit right away that it is; but this is an utterly exceptional situation and we believe that it is sufficiently exceptional and that the emergencies which we apprehend are sufficiently dire for it to be well worth while to make this very considerable departure.

After all, in this case, where these tragic racial conflicts have developed, is it not a fine and inspiring concept that this country should, as it were, be a permanent country of refuge for those who were until yesterday our fellow citizens? We find that something which it would be highly desirable for the Government to concede. They concede it for a temporary period. Let them go the whole way and concede it, in principle at any rate, and as a possibility, for an indefinite period.

I was very interested in what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) about the revival of something in the nature of a Nansen passport and the support that he has received for that proposal. If something is not done in the form that we propose here, I should like to see that. Of the two, I think I should like to see the British passport serve in this respect. I should like the man who is a refugee from political persecution in South Africa to find his refuge in the resumption of his British passport.

I think that this is something which the Government agree is good in that respect. It is something which the Government have conceded for a period of time. Let them now go a little further and concede the possibility of this for an indefinite period. We on this side of the House very strongly support the Amendment.

Division No. 137.]


[5.0 p.m.

Abse, LeoHarper, JosephMonslow, Walter
Ainsley, WilliamHart, Mrs. JudithMoody, A. S.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hayman, F. H.Moyle, Arthur
Beaney, AlanHealey, DenisNoel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Hilton, A. V.Oram, A. E.
Bence, CyrilHolman, PercyOwen, Will
Benson, Sir GeorgeHolt, ArthurPannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Blackburn, F.Houghton, DouglasPargiter, G. A.
Boardman, H.Hoy, James H.Parker, John
Bottomley, A. G.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Pavitt, Laurence
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)Hunter, A. E.Prentice, R. E.
Brockway, A. FennerHynd, H. (Accrington)Probert, Arthur
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hynd, John (Attercliffe)Randall, Harry
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Rankin, John
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Jay, Rt. Hon. DouglasRedhead, E. C.
Castle, Mrs. BarbaraJenkins, Roy (Stechford)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cliffe, MichaelJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Ross, William
Cronin, JohnJones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Crosland, AnthonyJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Short, Edward
Darling, GeorgeJones, T. W. (Merioneth)Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Kelley, RichardSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Kenyon, CliffordSpriggs, Leslie
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Steele, Thomas
Deer, GeorgeKing, Dr. HoraceStewart, Michael (Fulham)
Dodds, NormanLever, L. M. (Ardwick)Stonehouse, John
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. JohnLipton, MarcusStones, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. C.Lubbock, EricStrachey, Rt. Hon. John
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonSymonds, J. B.
Evans, AlbertMcCann, JohnThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Fernyhough, E.MacColl, JamesThomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Fitch, AlanMcInnes, JamesTimmons, John
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)Mackie, John (Enfield, East)Wade, Donald
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)McLeavy, FrankWainwright, Edwin
Forman, J. C.MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)Warbey, William
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. HughMacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Wilkins, W. A.
Ginsburg, DavidMallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Willey, Frederick
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Manuel, ArchieWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Gourlay, HarryMarsh, RichardWoof, Robert
Greenwood, AnthonyMason, RoyZilliacus, K.
Grey, CharlesMayhew, Christopher
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mendelson, J. J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gunter, RayMillan, BruceMr. G. H. R. Rogers and
Hamilton, William (West Fife)Milne, EdwardMr. Lawson.
Hannan, WilliamMitchison, G. R.


Agnew, Sir PeterBrowne, Percy (Torrington)Farr, John
Aitken, W. T.Bryan, PaulFell, Anthony
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)Bullard, DenysFinlay, Graems
Allason, JamesBullus, Wing Commander EricFisher, Nigel
Arbuthnot, JohnCampbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Ashton, Sir HubertCampbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)
Atkins, HumphreyCarr, Compton (Barons Court)Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)
Barber, AnthonyChannon, H. P. G.Freeth, Denzil
Barlow, Sir JohnChataway, ChristopherGammans, Lady
Batsford, BrianChichester-Clark, R.Gilmour, Sir John
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Glover, Sir Douglas
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonCollard, RichardGoodhart, Philip
Bell, RonaldCostain, A. P.Goodhew, Victor
Berkeley, HumphryCoulson, MichaelGower, Raymond
Bevins, Rt. Hon. ReginaldCourtney, Cdr. AnthonyGresham Cooke, R.
Bidgood, John C.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverHall, John (Wycombe)
Biffen, JohnCurran, CharlesHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Biggs-Davison, Johnde Ferranti, BasilHarvey, Sir Arthur vere (Macclesf'd)
Bishop, F. P.D'gby, Simon WingfieldHastings, Stephen
Black, Sir CyrilDonaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Bossom, CliveDrayson, G. B.Hendry, Forbes
Box, DonaldDuncan, Sir JamesHicks Beach, Maj. W.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir DavidHill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Braine, BernardElliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Brooke, Rt. Hon. HenryEmmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynHirst, Geoffrey
Brooman-White, R.Errington, Sir EricHobson, Sir John
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Farey-Jones, F. W.Hocking, Philip N.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 129, Noes 192.

Holland, PhilipMiscamphell, N.Spearman, Sir Alexander
Hornby, R. P.Montgomery, FergusSteward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Howard, John (Southampton, Test)More, Jasper (Ludlow)Stodart, J. A.
Hughes-Young, MichaelMorrison, JohnStudholme, Sir Henry
Hutchison, Michael ClarkMott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesSummers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Nicholson, Sir GodfreyTapsell, Peter
Jennings, J. C.Noble, MichaelTaylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir RichardTaylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Osborn, John (Hallam)Temple, John M.
Johnson Smith, GeoffreyPage, Graham (Crosby)Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Kerby, Capt. HenryPage, John (Harrow, West)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Kerr, Sir HamiltonPannell, Norman (Kirkdale)Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Kirk, PeterPearson, Frank (Clitheroe)Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Lagden, GodfreyPeel, JohnThornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Leather, E. H. C.Pilkington, Sir RichardTilney, John (Wavertree)
Leavey, J. APitman, Sir JamesTouche, Rt. Hon, Sir Gordon
Leburn, GilmourPitt, Miss EdithTurner, Colin
Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryPott, PercivallTurton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Price, David (Eastleigh)van Straubenzee, W. R.
Lindsay, Sir MartinProudfoot, WilfredVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Litchfield, Capt. JohnPym, FrancisVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Longden, GilbertQuennell, Miss J. M.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
McAdden, StephenRedmayne, Rt. Hon. MartinWall, Patrick
McLaren, MartinRees, HughWard, Dame Irene
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)Renton, DavidWebster, David
McLean, Neil (Inverness)Ridley, Hon. NicholasWells, John (Maidstone)
Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld)Whitelaw, William
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
McMaster, Stanley R.Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardWise, A. R.
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Maddan, MartinRussell, RonaldWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Maginnis, John E.St. Clair, M.Woodhouse, C. M.
Maitland, Sir JohnScott-Hopkins, JamesWoodnutt, Mark
Marshall, DouglasSharples, RichardWorsley, Marcus
Marten, NeilShaw, M.
Mathew, Robert (Honiton)Shepherd, WilliamTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Skeet, T. H. H.Mr. J. E. B. Hill and
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)Mr. Michael Hamilton.
Mills, StrattonSmithers, Peter

First Schedule—(Temporary Continuance Of Certain Provisions Of British Nationality Act, 1948, With Respect To Citizenship By Registration)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 34, after "entitled" to insert "or qualified".

I think that it would be convenient for the House to discuss with this Amendment the next following Amendment, in page 5, line 11.

Yes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the two could be taken together.

Both Amendments have exactly the same effect. They are both very technical drafting Amendments. Neither of them alters the substance of the Bill at all but each in the same way enables the Bill to be more exactly dovetailed with Section 3 (2) of the British Nationality Act. 1958.

Without wishing to prolong the proceedings, I must say that the explanation given by the Minister of State did not satisfy me. It is fascinating that the word "entitled" is not sufficient and the word "qualify" must be added. We were looking forward to the explanation. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave us a reference to the British Nationality Act, but left us no time to find the Act or the place in it in order to satisfy ourselves that the Amendment is necessary. Why does the word "qualified" have to be added?

Under Section 3 (2) of the 1958 Act, certain classes of people, in particular, those who are serving in a United Kingdom firm, are not, strictly speaking, entitled but are qualified for registration if, they having achieved their qualification such as service with a United Kingdom firm, the Home Secretary, or, rather, a Secretary of State, decides in his discretion that they should be registered.

There are two ways of becoming registered. One is by that qualification which gives rise to an entitlement to registration and the other way is by that qualification which gives rise to a discretionary opportunity of being registered if the Secretary of State thinks that it is right that the person should be. Therefore, merely as a matter of drafting, we want to talk not only about people being entitled to registration but also, in order to cover the appropriate cases, about people being qualified. That is why in these two places we propose adding the word "qualified".

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for affording us that somewhat belated explanation. I think that we all understood the difference between being entitled and being qualified. All of us in the House at the moment are qualified to sit on that Front Bench, but we are not all entitled. There is a very important distinction. If I may say so, I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman would have been better advised to have offered his explanation at the outset and not treated this very important differentiation as though it were a mere drafting matter.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 5, line 11, after "entitled", insert "or qualified ".—[ Mr. Renton.]

I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, at the end to insert:

6. In relation to any application for registration made before the end of the year nineteen hundred and sixty-five, the following provisions of the British Nationality Act, 1948, that is to say subsection (2) of section eight, subsection (7) of section twelve and section twenty-six, shall have effect as if—
  • (a) references to any country mentioned in subsection (3) of section one of that Act included references to the Republic; and
  • (b) references to the High Commissioner for Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom included references to Her Majesty's Ambassador for the United Kingdom to the Republic or the person appointed to act as chargé d'affaires during the absence or incapacity of such an Ambassador.
  • The effect of this Amendment is to enable the Secretary of State to make arrangements for our Ambassador in South Africa to continue to exercise until the end of 1965 those functions in relation to registration under the two British Nationality Acts that have been delegated to our High Commissioners in Commonwealth countries under certain sections of the 1948 Act, he being one of the High Commissioners to whom these functions have been delegated.

    Before South Africa left the Commonwealth, the High Commissioner exercised these functions, like any other High Commissioner, and when he became our Ambassador he continued to perform them by virtue of the Republic of South Africa (Temporary Provisions) Act of last year, but his power to perform them under that Act will lapse on 31st May, unless we make some provision for him to continue to perform them. The Bill, as drafted, makes no such provision, because it is unusual for such functions to be performed by an Ambassador, and our first thoughts were that, in this respect, as in many others, South Africa must be treated entirely as a foreign country after 31st May.

    In the light of the discussions we have had on the Bill, and in view of the quite justifiable and oft-repeated statement that we are here dealing with unprecedented circumstances, we felt it right that we should leave these functions in the hands of our Ambassador until the end of 1965, rather than oblige all these people Who are entitled or qualified to take advantage of the concessions to refer to the Home Office in London, because that is the alternative with which we are faced.

    Should the people who are entitled or qualified to take advantage of the concessions have to make their applications to the Home Office, or should they have the opportunity of making them to our Ambassador in South Africa, who is, of course—and it is not immaterial to mention this—also the High Commissioner still for High Commission Territories and has certain functions which are rather relevant? We feel sure that the House will agree that it should be more convenient for people living in South Africa to refer their applications to our Ambassador there.

    5.15 p.m.

    We certainly have no objection whatever to this Amendment. In fact, I think that it is a highly desirable one, but I find it strange, in spite of the explanation of the Minister of State, that it was not originally in the Bill.

    I am slightly amused by his repetition of the statement that the Government originally thought that the Bill was to treat South Africa exactly like any other foreign country, because the main Clauses and the Schedules do nothing of the sort. They extend exactly the most important of the Commonwealth privileges to South Africa. I think that is a very thin argument. Nevertheless, it is certainly a good thing that the important right of the ex-citizens of the Commonwealth to resume such citizenship should be exercisable through the Ambassador, or, rather, in the preliminary stage.

    Should they not also be exercised by Her Majesty's Consul? I should have thought that there was no reason at all why this should only be done by an Ambassador. I should have thought that the consular officers could do it. and we would rather like to know what the Government's proposal is in regard to that.

    I think the Minister of State knows our regret that the High Commissioner, who is now to be the Ambassador to the Republic, is still to be the High Commissioner for the Protectorates. He is aware of our criticism of that proposal.

    The point I want to make is that this right is really the extension of a right at present enjoyed by Governors-General in the Colonial Territories. Would someone who was refused these facilities by the Ambassador have the power to appeal to a Minister in this country, if the decision by the Ambassador were not acceptable to him? All of us would have absolute confidence in the decisions that the present Ambassador would reach, but that has not always been the case with Governors-General in the Colonial Territories. We have very often had letters from those who have been refused these facilities by a Governor-General, and we have been able to appeal to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Is it implicit in the Amendment now being introduced that there would still be that right if the necessity occurred for an appeal to the Minister in this country?

    I have two points to make. I appreciate the desirability of having full diplomatic status, rather than the old kind of status before the change, but I would question whether it was necessary for the diplomatic official in question to be an Ambassador. I know that it is the practice nowadays to give ambassadorial status rather more freely and widely than used to be the case. But I should have thought that the object of the Amendment could have been adequately served by making the representative a Minister rather than an Ambassador. Surely that is sufficient in the circumstances of the case.

    However, the more important point is the one raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). Surely it would have been possible to limit the effect of this Amendment to the Union. It would have been possible to say that, in the affairs of the new Republic, the representative should be recognised as a diplomatic representative and, if one preferred, then an Ambassador. But to give him, as it were, diplomatic representative functions with regard to the Protected Territories is another matter.

    I have not had an opportunity to consider the point, but I should have thought that at first blush the answer to my hon. Friend's question was, untunately, "No". Once he is a diplomatic representative he is immune from any kind of control by anyone or appeal to anyone except the Government which accredits him in London and that the logical consequence of doing what is proposed in the Amendment—there may be a safeguard; I hope that there is—would be to negative and frustrate such rights of appeal elsewhere.

    I wish to raise a point concerning the internal arrangements in the home Government. The Ambassador, presumably, is responsible to and holds his office from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I hope that the point raised by the Amendment will still be regarded as one within the competence of the Secretary of State for the Home Department and that when the two Secretaries of State are simultaneously in this country all the matters which arise under the Amendment will be dealt with by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The question of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies is one for him rather than for the Foreign Secretary, unless the Foreign Secretary is acting for him in his absence.

    This may sound rather complicated, but in adiministration it is a very important matter. I am sure that we on this side of the House, at any rate, would wish to emphasise the fact that when these people become citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies it is a distinct and important status and they have to look for protection to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Any complaint about the way in which this particular function of the Ambassador is being exercised should be a matter for the discipline of the Home Secretary rather than of the Foreign Secretary. I hope that the Government will give us an assurance to that effect.

    The Minister of State said that our Ambassador exercises functions in the High Commission Territories and is, in fact, the head of the Government.

    No. He is our Ambassador in South Africa and he is also our High Commissioner for the High Commission Territories.

    The same man exercises two functions.

    I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that the present case would have been amply met if our diplomatic representative in the Republic had been a Minister and not an Ambassador. That is a matter for the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office is represented today in the shape of the Joint Under-Secretary of State, and I hope that it will take note of our view.

    I support very strongly what my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) said about the diplomatic representative also exercising functions in the High Commission Territories. We all have the greatest confidence in the present High Commissioner, but he could be placed in grave embarrassment by these double functions. This is not a matter of theory.

    I had the privilege of serving in the Commonwealth Relations Office shortly after the war. While I was there, there was a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers which was attended by the new Nationalist Prime Minister, Dr. Malan, who made a formal application to our Government that we should transfer the High Commission Territories to the Union, as it was then called. We refused.

    I venture to think that, after that refusal, our High Commissioner was in a very difficult situation in the Union for a considerable time. Many questions similar to that may arise in future. I was so disturbed by this while I was at the Commonwealth Relations Office that I was firmly resolved to try to get a change made, but I was away for an operation during the last six months that I held the office.

    Of course, it would not need legislation. That was why a new Clause which we proposed in Committee upstairs was rejected by the Chairman, and I do not challenge his ruling. Although legislation would not be needed, this is a suitable time for the Government to tell us that they intend to make this change. I very much hope that they will tell us this during the Third Reading of the Bill.

    While there may be some force in what has been said, there appear to be certain advantages in this dual function. Many people resident in the High Commission Territories regularly go into the Union because of the nature of their work, and I merely throw it out as a suggestion that that is a duality on the part of the people themselves. It may well be that there are advantages in some cases in having a man who has duties on both sides of that not very stabilised border between the High Commission Territories and the Union.

    Surely the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) is not entirely accurate in suggesting that, under the British Nationality Act, 1948, a final decision would be arrived at by our Ambassador or, formerly, by our High Commissioner. Surely only the initial action taken by an applicant is considered by the Ambassador, with the final decision lying elsewhere.

    I welcome the fact that the Amendment is acceptable to the House. A number of detailed points on how it will operate have been raised and I will do my best to deal with them.

    The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was anxious that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and not any other Secretary of State should be concerned in making the arrangements with the Ambassador in pursuance of the power contained in the Amendment. The answer to his point is that the Home Secretary will be the appropriate Minister. It will be for him to advise the Ambassador in carrying out these functions by means of a sort of directive or memorandum. In addition, it will be made clear to the Ambassador that cases of doubt or difficulty may be referred to the Home Office for advice.

    5.30 p.m.

    Why did the hon. and learned Gentleman use the word "may"? Surely, if our Ambassador is in doubt and difficulty and wishes to communicate with this country, it should be "shall" communicate with the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

    Yes. The right hon. Gentleman has caught me out on a narrow point. It is obvious that if the Ambassador feels that there is doubt or difficulty, he would, naturally, wish to refer the matter to the Home Office.

    There has been a good deal of mention of appeals in this matter. These matters of registration are in nearly all cases a matter of entitlement. If a person has the qualification, he is registered; if he does not have the qualification, he is not registered. Once the facts have been proved to the satisfaction of whoever it may be—the Home Secretary, the High Commissioner or, in this case, the Ambassador—registration is automatic. To that extent, therefore, questions of appeal are unlikely to arise. If there is doubt or difficulty, they can be referred.

    In Section 8 of the 1948 Act, which we are invoking in the Amendment—

    Royal Assent

    Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;

    The House went:and, having returned:

    Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to:

  • 1. Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Act, 1962.
  • 2. Education Act. 1962.
  • 3. Vehicles (Excise) Act. 1962.
  • 4. Telegraph Act, 1962.
  • 5. Criminal Justice Administration Act. 1962.
  • 6. Forth and Clyde Canal (Extinguishment of Rights of Navigation) Act. 1962.
  • 7. Commonwealth Settlement Act, 1962.
  • South Africa Bill

    Question again proposed, That those words be there inserted in the Bill.

    I was asked about the possibility of appeal from an ambassador's decision which is the same question as that of an appeal from any High Commissioner's decision when powers have been transferred in accordance with Section 8 (2) of the 1948 Act. As I was pointing out, the question of appeal does not normally arise because once some simple facts are proved it is a matter of entitlement. Also one has to bear in mind that when a discretion is to be exercised the Home Secretary is exempted by Statute from giving his reasons for it.

    Section 8 (2) of the 1948 Act which we are invoking, says:
    "The Secretary of State may make arrangements for the exercise in any country mentioned in subsection (3) of section one of this Act of any of his functions under the last two foregoing sections by the High Commissioner for His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom."
    That has always been taken to be a complete transfer, by the Secretary of State to the High Commissioner to whom he transferred it, of the Secretary of State's functions in relation to registration.

    5.45 p.m.

    I am told that for some strange technical reason, which I must confess I have not got to the bottom of, it is not strictly a delegation: it is a statutory transfer of a function. That being so, once the High Commissioner has had this duty placed upon him there is no question of there being an appeal to the Secretary of State.

    The hon. and learned Gentleman said there was no right of appeal. Of course, when we were talking about appeals we were not thinking in terms of references to the Secretary of State at all; but, there is, of course, another way in which an appeal may arise. As the hon. and learned Gentleman said, once certain facts are established, a man is entitled to be registered and the registration is automatic, but there does sometimes happen a case in which the facts are in dispute and in which the Home Secretary under the Nationality Act comes to what the applicant thinks is a wrong conclusion. He may have thought the facts had not been established when they had. In those circumstances a man can go to the courts, of course, and ask for a declaration that certain facts are established and in that way rights of appeal would arise.

    I think that I am right in saying that generally speaking not only is the High Commissioner by virtue of Section 26 of the 1948 Act not obliged to give reasons for his decision—

    Where it is discretionary, certainly not; but where the entitlement automatically follows establishment of certain facts, then the Home Secretary or the Commissioner may say, "I do not believe that the facts have been established," and the man can go to the courts and establish them.

    It certainly will not be so in the case where it is merely a question of establishing facts giving an automatic entitlement, but Section 26 of the 1948 Act says:

    "The Secretary of State, the Governor or the High Commissioner … shall not be required to assign any reason for the grant or refusal of any application under this Act the decision on which is at his discretion …"
    That refers to that minority of cases which are at discretion. I must say that had I known that this point was going to arise I would have preferred to have taken some advice about it. The Section goes on:
    "and the decision of the Secretary of State … on any such application shall not be subject to appeal to or review in any court."

    That is not my point. It is not the case I had in mind. If a man is entitled to something and that something is refused to him he can always under the Common Law go to the courts for a declaration that he has established his entitlement, and that must apply where the grant of registration is as of entitlement and not as of discretion.

    Yes. It, therefore, is quite clear, in view of what the Section says, that the ban on appeal to or review in any court applies to the exercise of the discretion only.

    I am going to try to answer the points which the hon. Gentleman has raised. There are further points to bear in mind. Perhaps I may be allowed to go on and we shall see how it goes.

    I was asked what happens when the application is made not directly to the ambassador or his office but to a British consul within the ambassador's jurisdiction—if that is the right word. The answer is that the consul would forward the application to the ambassador's office.

    The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) gave me very great pleasure by what he said about our present Ambassador and High Commissioner in South Africa, because it so happens that he was both dean of my college and Permanent Secretary of the Department in which I first became a Parliamentary Secretary. Knowing his tremendous discretion and humanity, one feels extremely confident that he will exercise these functions in a sensible way.

    The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) raised a number of matters which, candidly, are not within my ministerial responsibility and which I do not think could be the subject of legislation. They raise the question whether an Ambassador or a Minister should be appointed and I think that I should steer clear of that.

    I recognise that, but I think that it would be a suitable occasion for the Government on Third Reading to make a declaration of the kind I mentioned.

    The right hon. Gentleman, with his long experience of this House, must recollect that there are rules of order.

    The moment has come for me to give way to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough if there is any point on which I have not answered him.

    I am very much obliged. Where there is an entitlement the decision is made and in a sense is absolute. There is no argument about it. It is the minority of oases where there is discretion that I had in mind when I asked whether there was any appeal from the Ambassador. The hon. and learned Gentleman has answered that point. Whilst we have the present Ambassador one has no doubt about the humanity of his decision, but we are passing what will be a permanent Act and things might possibly be different. Will there be a right of appeal from a decision made by an Ambassador in the minority of cases where there is discretion?

    No, because Section 26 of the 1948 Act says that there cannot be an appeal, at any rate to a court, in the case of any discretion. I hope that I am understanding the position rightly. As I have said, this is not a mere delegation by a Secretary of State to an Ambassador. It is the transfer to the Ambassador of a power or function to make a final decision and therefore there is no appeal from the Ambassador's decision. Neither has there ever been an appeal in the past in those discretionary cases from the decisions of the High Commissioner. There has been a complete transfer of function, and we are continuing a position which has worked successfully and, as far as one knows, without injustice for many years.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Third Schedule—(Transitional Provisions And Savings)

    In calling the next Amendment, in page 7, line 1, I should like to make clear that the Amendment in page 7, line 2, at end insert:

    Provided that no such person as aforesaid shall be liable to be returned to South Africa if the offence in respect of which the warrant or provisional warrant has been endorsed or issued is one of a political character or if he prove to the satisfaction of the police magistrate or the court before whom he is brought on habeas corpus, or to the Secretary of State, that the requisition for his surrender has in fact been made with a view to try or punish him for an offence of a political character.
    in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) has not been selected but can be adequately discussed with this Amendment.

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 1, after "snail", to insert:

    "unless the offence is not an offence under the law of the country or territory in which the warrant was so endorsed or issued".
    During our discussions of the Bill in Committee, hon. Members on both sides expressed concern over the possibility that even during the short transitional period to which this provision of the Bill applies there might be a case in which the return of an alleged offender might be requested for an offence which was not an offence in the territory which was being asked to surrender the fugitive. Hon. Members opposite referred particularly to offences against legislation involving racial discrimination, and an Amendment was tabled by the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells) to exclude such offences from the provisions of paragraph 1 of the Third Schedule. It is fair to say that it was evident from the discussion in Committee that what the Committee in general was concerned about was the disparity between offences in South Africa and offences in the High Commission Territories.

    I think that the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North would agree that the Amendment which he proposed did not entirely meet the point and it had some defects from the point of view of drafting. In view of the concern expressed by the Committee, with which we on this side sympathise, I undertook to put forward a more suitable Amendment on Report. This is that Amendment, and I think that it adequately covers the fears that hon. Members expressed in Committee. I hope, therefore, that the House will approve of it.

    I gather that we can discuss the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) which has not been selected, and perhaps I can assist the hon. and learned Member on the matter. This is a starred Amendment, and I have not had a great deal of time to study it in detail. It appears to me that what the hon. and learned Member bas done is to take his Amendment practically straight out of the Extradition Act, 1870, but I understand that the principle behind it is that no alleged offender should be returned if the offence could be considered to be a political offence within the meaning of "political offence" in the 1870 Act.

    The Government are just as anxious as the hon. and learned Member, and indeed most hon. Members, that no one should be surrendered to South Africa under the Fugitive Offenders Act if there is a genuine doubt whether it would be unjust and unfair that he should stand his trial there. The only question is whether there is any such cause for anxiety. In our view, the safeguards which are contained at the moment in Section 10 of Part I and Section 19 of Part II of the Fugitive Offenders Act give all the guarantees that are necessary. In the past there has been no question of anyone being returned for a political offence or, indeed, an offence involving racial discrimination, as I mentioned in Committee, but to meet the misgivings expressed in Committee I have moved the Amendment, which I hope will be accepted by the House.

    I should have thought that the Amendment contains all the safeguards that are necessary. Even in the unlikely event in the next nine weeks—for that is all it is—of a case arising to which the Government Amendment would not apply, the accused person, in a proper case, would be able to claim the benefit of Section 19 of Part II of the 1870 Act. I have considered this matter and if there genuinely is cause for anxiety I can say that the Government certainly accept the principle behind the Amendment.

    The hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that even if the Amendment had been selected, I could not have accepted it. It might be appropriate for an extradition Act but it would not be appropriate under the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881. The differences are minor, and I make no issue on that.

    But I accept the spirit of the Amendment and I am therefore able to save him the burden of making another speech. He has made a very thoughtful and effective speech already today. I will undertake to introduce another Amendment when this matter is being considered in another place which will meet the purpose and spirit behind his Amendment.

    6.0 p.m.

    I wish to thank the Under-Secretary of State for the way in which he has met my Amendment in advance. He has relieved me of the burden of inflicting another speech on the House, and perhaps I should content myself with one or two sentences.

    The law is different according to whether the person sought to be extradited comes from a Commonwealth country or from a foreign country. If it is a foreign country the matter is governed by the Extradition Act. If it is a Commonwealth country it is governed by the Fugitive Offenders Act. The provisions are not quite the same. It is true that there are very valuable safeguards against someone being unjustly returned to a Commonwealth country, but this specific provision protecting the political offender does not appear in the Fugitive Offenders Act. This difference was remarked upon only a few weeks ago in a case which was heard in the House of Lords, with which the hon. Member is no doubt familiar, and in which it was sought to repatriate alleged offenders to Cyprus. It therefore seems to me that the provisions in the Extradition Act go rather further even than those in the Fugitive Offenders Act.

    Within a few weeks the Extradition Act will apply between this country and South Africa. It would be rather an anomalous situation if a warrant were issued in respect of someone who would be entitled to the protection given in the Extradition Act within a matter of weeks or days but who would be denied it simply because at the moment the proceedings happen to go before a magistrates' court. For that reason I put down the Amendment, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for the way in which he has met it.

    I rise only to thank the Under-Secretary of State for carrying out the undertaking which he gave in Committee when I moved the two Amendments to which he referred. The Amendment on the Order Paper appears to deal with the situation quite adequately, except in relation to the political offences, as to which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) put down his Amendment. This is a gap because of the difference between the Extradition Act and the Fugitive Offenders Act, and I feel that it would be very unsatisfactory, for the same reasons as I urged in Committee in relation to the other group of offences, to rely on Sections 10 and 19 of the Fugitive Offenders Act alone in this matter. I am glad that the Under-Secretary of State has given an undertaking to introduce an Amendment at another stage.

    We are so vigorously opposed to many of the proposals in the Bill that it is a pleasure to welcome the concessions which have been made. In Committee the Minister promised that he would introduce the Amendment which he has moved. He will remember that in Committee I made the point about the difference between the Fugitive Offenders Act and the Extradition Act and that I then said that if he would consult the Commonwealth Relations Office he would find that in recent months this difficulty had arisen in relation to political offences about certain refugees. It was only because I was asked in a confidential way during that period not to make it public that I did not refer to the matter in more definite terms, but it is exactly the point which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) has raised of the difference between the Extradition Act and the Fugitive Offenders Act.

    I welcome the concession which has been made and I welcome still more the promise that when the Bill is sent to another place a further Amendment will be introduced.

    The House should congratulate my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) on his suggestion and the Government on being a great deal more co-operative than they have been in other parts of the Bill.

    When he is considering this question again in another place, I hope that the Minister will consider whether it is necessary in his draft to use the double negative which is so appalling to non-lawyers—
    "Unless the offence is not an offence".
    I hope that he will find it possible to say,
    "If the offence is an offence".
    If he can do so, I am sure that the non-lawyers will be very grateful.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 8, line 13, at the end to insert:

    "and the power of Her Majesty to revoke or vary Orders in Council under the said Act and under section four of the Solicitors' Act, 1957, shall include power to revoke or vary the Order of 1919 so far as continued in force by this paragraph."
    I hope that this will not be a very contentious Amendment. The House will have noticed the Orders which are mentioned in paragraph 5 (2) of the Third Schedule. Under the third of those Orders—the Order dated 6th May (S.R. & O. 1938 No. 495)—a South African attorney who seeks admission as a solicitor in England and Wales must pass
    "the final examination in law and the examination in trust accounts and bookkeeping for applicants for admission in England."
    I am told that new regulations have been made by the Law Society since the introduction of the Bill, under which the present examinations will be replaced on 1st January, 1963, by newly-designed examinations. The present examinations which a South African attorney has to pass to be admitted as a solicitor here will not be identifiable among the examinations to be held in future. Paragraph 5 of the Third Schedule is intended to enable South African attorneys to be admitted here if they have already taken overt steps to make clear their intention, and I am sure that the House agrees that it would be unfortunate if, as a result of the Law Society modernising the form of its examinations, some South Africans who are intended to benefit by the provisions of paragraph 5 were not able to do so.

    Some South Africans may be able to pass the present examinations before the end of the year, but if there are any South African attorneys who have recently started to qualify they will not be able to pass those examinations in time. The Amendment is accordingly designed to preserve the power further to amend the Order of 1919 as continued by paragraph 5, so as to provide that a South African attorney who passes the appropriate parts of the new examination qualifies for admission as a solicitor in England.

    Amendment agreed to.

    6.10 p.m.

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

    First I should like to say that this has been an interesting Bill and our deliberations have been very thorough. I should like to congratulate hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House on the way in which they have dealt not only thoroughly but expeditiously with what indeed is quite a complicated Bill. We have tried to meet the wishes of hon. Members in many particulars. Some Amendments have been made in accordance with representations, and I think that as a consequence the Bill has been improved.

    In the course of our deliberations it has become clear that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have, probably not surprisingly, looked at the Bill from a point of view different from that of the Government. That was not because we take a different standpoint about the South African Government's racial policies—in fact those who have cared to remind themselves of our statements on this issue in the past know that there is very little difference in our views about these policies—but it is rather because the Opposition have regarded the Bill as a statement of political policy. To some extent they clearly have wished to use it as an instrument to give effect to a policy aimed primarily at helping the people opposed to apartheid and not helping, if I may put it that way, the Government that applies it.

    We regard the Bill differently. We do not see it as a declaration or instrument of political opinion. It is not intended to be that, and it is not that. Its purpose is to regulate the application of United Kingdom law as it applies to South Africa. It seeks to regulate it in such a way that those human and material interests which it seems right to preserve are preserved. But it preserves them only so far as it is possible to do so without allowing South Africa, as a Government, a country or a people to continue enjoying either indefinitely or in full measure those benefits of Commonwealth membership which are exclusive to members of the Commonwealth.

    This difference in approach lies behind many—indeed, I think all—of the Amendments which we have not felt able to accept among those proposed by the Opposition. It explains also why we have not felt able to accept some proposed by right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House.

    Some of the most debated provisions—and in public certainly the most discussed—have been those on nationality. I think it is right to say that not just in this House but outside there have been one or two misunderstandings about the provisions of the Bill, and it may be of assistance if I take this opportunity to try to clear up one or two of those misconceptions.

    First, I should like to make it clear that the fact that we have not felt able to agree to any suggestions for widening the scope of the transitional nationality concessions does not mean that we are insensible to the feelings which have inspired them. I am sure that I speak for the House when I say that we feel sympathy towards those individuals in South Africa who value the Commonwealth link that has now been broken and who may regret the loss of their British nationality. Indeed, it is because we feel this sympathy that we have made the transitional provisions in the First Schedule.

    In forming those concessions, we have had to bear in mind two cardinal principles: first, that it would be wrong to treat the citizens of South Africa better than Commonwealth citizens, and, secondly, that the provisions are in fact a special exception to the normal principles which we must retain in our nationality law and such an exception can be justified only as a temporary measure.

    It has been suggested in some quarters and on both sides of the House that we should have widened the qualifications for registration. But that would have given South African citizens privileges possessed by no Commonwealth citizens. What we have done in the Bill is merely to extend to South African citizens for a fixed period after 30th May, 1962, the same privileges in relation to registration under the British Nationality Act that they enjoyed before that date and that they enjoyed along with all other Commonwealth citizens.

    It has also been suggested that we should remove the time limit altogether. To do that would be to create a perpetual anomaly. After all, as a result of this Bill South African citizens who have no other source of British nationality will be aliens, and we could not indefinitely ignore the fact that for aliens naturalisation and not registration is the normal avenue to the citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. We have already gone a long way in allowing them the privilege of registration for three-and-a-half years with a potential further five years' grace for those whose eligibility for registration depends on completing a qualifying period of residence or service.

    There has, I think, also been some misunderstanding about the reason why we have not given this period of grace to South Africans registering on grounds of descent. close connection with and intention to reside in the United Kingdom and Colonies: that is, those applying under Section 12 (6) of the British Nationality Act. I should like again to make it clear that this is not because we consider them less deserving of sympathy but simply because in their case there is no qualifying period of residence or service. They do not therefore need that extra time.

    There has also, I think, been some misunderstanding about the qualifications for declaring an intent eventually to apply for registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies under the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of the First Schedule. It may be of some assistance if I try to clarify this again. Up to the end of 1965, any South African citizen who will not be able to complete his qualifying period of registration before that date may secure for himself the necessary time in which to get qualified by giving notice at any time before the end of 1965 of his intention to apply for registration. At the time of giving the notice, he must be either ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom or a Colony or a Protectorate, or in any Crown service, or serving under an international organisation of which the United Kingdom Government is a member, or in the employment of a society, company or body of persons established in the United Kingdom, a Colony or a Protectorate.

    There is no precise definition of the phrase "ordinarily resident". Whether or not a person is ordinarily resident can be determined only by reference to the full circumstances of his own case. But, roughly speaking, a person is ordinarily resident in the country in which he makes his home. It is not impossible, therefore, that a person might become ordinarily resident virtually on the first day on which he takes up his residence, although of course it would not generally be possible to establish this except in the light of subsequent events. One could think of many instances. It is quite clear that when a man goes into a house he is ordinarily resident in that house—possibly someone coming from South Africa who has bought a house to retire to. That is a good example, but much depends on the circumstances of the particular case.

    There is, therefore, no specific period for which a person must have been in residence or in qualifying service before he is eligible to declare his intention to apply for registration. In fact, so far as Crown service or the other types of service are concerned, he could declare his intention on the first day of entering the service. The main thing is that before he can actually apply for registration he must have completed the qualifying period under the British Nationality Act and as far as this is concerned, it makes no difference at what point in the qualifying period notice of intention may happen to have been given. That qualifying period will be five years if the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, as at present drafted, becomes law.

    Some individuals may be allowed to register after a shorter period than this, but this is at the discretion of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary if there are special circumstances in the case. It may well be that many people will be able to complete the qualifying period within a year or two of making their declaration of intention. If so, they can apply for registration then. But everyone will have five years from the moment of declaring their intention in which to apply. After that, they will be too late.

    These provisions for nationality are complicated and people who are interested, and in particular people who are affected by these provisions, are obviously anxious to understand them. I hope, therefore, that what I have said may help to clear up some of the misunderstanding and also to demonstrate that, although we must draw the line somewhere, in this Bill we have drawn it fairly

    Perhaps it might be of assistance if I mention briefly a further concession which we have decided to accord South African citizens. As was explained during the Second Reading debate in response to a point raised by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), South Africans entering this country after 30th May next will be subject to the Aliens Order. We have decided, however, that, for a transitional period lasting until the end of this year, they should be exempted from any obligation to which they might otherwise be subject under the police registration provisions of the Order.

    In other respects, they will, of course, be subject to the normal requirements of the Aliens control and will have to obtain leave to land from an immigration officer on arrival. But we felt that it would help to soften the impact of their change of status under United Kingdom law if they were excused for a limited period from compliance with the registration procedure.

    The exemption will be conferred by a statutory direction which will, in due course, be made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary under the Aliens Order. The ultimate position will be that any South African citizen in this country on 1st January, 1963, whose permitted stay is at that date subject to a time limit, will become liable to register with the police either on the 1st January, 1963 or, if a visitor, at the expiry of three months from the date of arrival in this country, whichever is the later.

    South African citizens already here on 31st May, 1962, will not, so long as they remain in this country, become subject to any such time limit. It follow that these people will remain free from any obligation to register with the police as long as they remain in this country.

    Again I welcome that concession, but I should not like to make a final comment on it until I have seen the OFFICIAL REPORT of what the hon. Gentleman has said, because this is a complicated subject. The difficulty in giving these powers to immigration officers lies in the distinction they will draw between one immigrant and another. This will become more complicated now that we have the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. I do not say this in a bad spirit, but there will be an inevitable tendency of prejudice against South African immigrants who are coloured, as opposed to those who are of the white race. Will some instructions be given to the immigration officers on this matter? I say this without any racial spirit, but one knows that these things do happen. I ask for some assurance that instructions will be given to immigration officials.

    My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, Home Office, tells me that instructions have been given, and that immigration officers have not only received them but that they do not exercise discrimination. I am rather sorry that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough introduced that note. My hon. and learned Friend tells me that this matter was dealt with in the White Paper. I see the point put by the hon. Member, but any fears he may have had have been, I hope, allayed by the fact that the immigration officers have already received their instructions in the matter.

    I do not propose to take more of the House's time in discussing in detail other provisions in the Bill or the other provisions in the Bill or the other Amendments that have been made. Many of them are merely the technical tying up of loose ends. The Amendments made to the provisions on merchant shipping certificates of competence and to the provisions for solicitors are particular cases in point. The Amendment made to the provisions on the indication of origin of goods is slightly more, but not much more, than a technical change.

    Other Amendments have been made to meet misgivings expressed by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. These include the change to the reference to South-West Africa so as to refer to it as the Mandated Territory of South-West Africa, and the addition to the provision concerning fugitive offenders so as to exclude from its operation offences which are not offences in the territory from which the return of the offender is requested. The other Amendment I have mentioned will be moved at a later stage, and I cannot refer to that on Third Reading.

    As I have said, I think that the Bill is now a better Bill, and I hope that it will commend itself to the House as a reasonable compromise between all the conflicting interests and points of view which have had to be taken into account in our sad task of deciding how our legislation should now bear on South Africa and its citizens.

    I hope that the House will give the Bill a Third Reading.

    6.28 p.m.

    The Joint Under-Secretary of State performed a service by clarifying the position under the nationality Clauses of the Bill. Some of his statement gave a liberal interpretation to its provisions which was certainly welcome on this side of the House. He began by congratulating both sides on a pointed, keen and expeditious approach to the Bill in Committee and on Second Reading.

    I wish that I could have felt that our talents and qualities in this direction had had a better harvest, but, with a few exceptions, the Bill today is just as bad as it was on Second Reading. We did Our best in Committee to persuade the Government to accept a number of Amendments which would have removed some serious and objectionable features from the Bill, and on one or two small points we had success. But, in general, we still have the same objections to the Bill as we had on Second Reading.

    Today we welcome the concession on the question of fugitive offenders, and the hon. Gentleman also referred to the very small Amendment he made on the subject of the position of South-West Africa. That Amendment did not go as far as we wanted it to. It was an admission of guilt without an explanation of sin. I think that we were amply justified in our very strong attack on the Government on Second Reading for this misunderstanding of the position of South-West Africa in relation to the Bill.

    The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) is not being very fair when he says that it was an admission of guilt. The Amendment on South-West Africa was put forward purely to meet the fears expressed by hon. Members opposite. In Committee I said over and over again that it was not necessary, and that is still our view, but in order to allay the fears of hon. Members opposite, we amended the Bill in that way.

    Perhaps it was a little ungenerous of me to voice publicly what was my private suspicion. I do not suggest that the Government had any intention of altering the status of South-West Africa in terms of the Bill, but what we were worried about was that consciously or otherwise they were opening themselves to serious misunderstanding about the way they treated South-West Africa under the Bill. The Government have to watch their step in this matter in view of their record on South-West Africa at the United Nations and elsewhere in recent months and over the last year or two.

    The theme of the Minister's speech was that there were two different approaches to the Bill. That of the Government was that this was an entirely non-political matter whereas, he said, the Opposition considered it in a political context. That is true and fair, and I insist that the trouble with the Bill is that we cannot isolate it from its political contacts. We cannot pretend that it is a political matter of lawyers tidying up a few odds and ends as a result of South Africa's decision to leave the Commonwealth. By its very nature the whole subject is full of difficult political and psychological features. The Government have blundered into the Bill and it is inevitably a political Bill and its political effects are bad.

    The Minister said that giving nationality privileges in these circumstances was wrong. We have here a strange paradox. Here is the Minister saying that it is wrong to give nationality privileges under the Bill, because South Africa has left the Commonwealth, while the Opposition are saying that it is wrong to give privileges of Commonwealth Preference and the sugar subsidy to the South African Government.

    Yet there is a distinction between the effect of Clause 1 on the individual and the real genuine human tragedies which can ensue, and the subsidy of £2·7 million to the sugar growers of South Africa because the Government refuse to let the South African Government carry the can for South Africa's transitional economic difficulties. There is a great difference of approach and we would say that while in principle Clause 1 is right, in practice it will mean extending a privilege not to all South Africans, but only to those who can make use of Clause 1 and who can register. In practice, there is a section of the South African people who will not be able to take advantage of Clause 1 and who are precisely the people whom we most want to help and who are most morally entitled to our help in the situation in which they find themselves. These are the people who never wanted to leave the Commonwealth, who have opposed apartheid and who might not be able to use the provisions of Clause 1. That is why we tried to amend it and that is why we regret that the Government found it impossible to accept our Amendments to it.

    The basic trouble with the Bill is that the Union of South Africa no longer pays the Commonwealth subscription but continues to use the club rooms free. That is the state of play. The Bill shows that the people in South Africa who were afraid of leaving the Commonwealth because of the political and economic effects of leaving have been proved wrong by the British Government, while those in the Union who argued that the bother and loss of leaving it was nothing like as great as the pro-Commonwealth people were saying have been proved right by the British Government. That is a very bad precedent, apart from anything else. By cheapening the Commonwealth idea in this way, the Government have created a dangerous precedent.

    We hope that no member of the Commonwealth will be so misguided as to leave the Commonwealth; but, supposing that another country does, are we to assume that the Government will do the same thing again? To take an extreme case, let us assume that a member of the Commonwealth goes Communist and leaves the Commonwealth. We hope and believe that that will never happen, but will the Government then maintain Commonwealth Preference for that country? Will back benchers opposite insist that such a country should continue to enjoy not only Commonwealth Preference, but a sugar subsidy of £2·7 million? I cannot think that this is the right way to go about it. The Government are wrong to grant these concessions to South Africa of all nations.

    Discussion has ranged around how valuable these preferences are. It is our view that these preferences do not in practice amount to very much from the economic point of view, but politically and as a symbol they are of considerable importance. I do not need to repeat the figures quoted by many of my hon. Friends in Committee to show how very small these preferences are. They were described by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which said:
    "The preferences given to British goods in South Africa are so small and confined to so narrow a range of goods that their entire abolition would have negligible effects, save perhaps in some branches of trade in electrical goods."
    We object that they are nevertheless still a symbol of Commonwealth membership and we feel that the Government are blind to these political and psychological factors which are of considerable importance.

    One new thing Which emerged in Committee was that these preferences would not outlast the signature of the Rome Treaty by the United Kingdom, if that took place. We were told by the Lord Privy Seal and the Minister quite plainly and, in a way, quite casually that they were not going to negotiate with the Six on behalf of South Africa. That is satisfactory to us. They said that the South African Government completely understood that membership of the Rome Treaty and the Common Market would not be compatible with many of these preferences.

    It was a queer paradox to see the Government arguing on the one hand how important these preferences were and how they must be maintained at all costs in the interests of South Africa and British importers, while, on the other, when considering them in the context of the Common Market, casualty and lightly saying that they would all disappear if we signed the Rome Treaty. We are not advocating economic pressure and sanctions against the Union, but there is no reason why a country which has left the Commonwealth of its own accord should enjoy these privileges.

    I regard as the worst feature of the Bill the fact that we are to continue in practice to pay £2·7 million of the sugar subsidy to the Union. In Committee when we discussed this issue we had no answer from the Government which satisfied us in the slightest. The Government said that we must not cause undue hardship in Natal and other sugar growing areas of the Union by suddenly cutting the price of their sugar from £44 to £20 a ton. The Minister said that that would be wrong. His words were:
    "The agreement … gives them time to adjust themselves to the new situation and to develop alternative markets for their sugar."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 13th March, 1962; c. 113.]
    That is what our £27 million will do.

    We on this side of the House agree that something needs to be done to prevent extreme hardship to the sugar producing interests. What we wonder is which Government are responsible for this. Is the helping of these sugar producers through their transitional difficulties the responsibility of the British Government, or the responsibility of the Union Government? Surely common sense suggests that the Union Government, who took the decision to leave the Commonwealth, and in whose territory the sugar producers operate, must have known in advance the consequences of their action on the sugar industry and they should see these people through their transitional difficulties, and not the British taxpayer and British consumer. The Government's attitude that this is our responsibility seems to me to need a good deal more argument in support of it than we heard in Committee.

    We say that we should not sugar the pill for South Africa leaving the Commonwealth. We have a responsibility in connection with Swaziland, which is still a member of the Commonwealth, and Swaziland will suffer under the sugar arrangements laid down in the Bill. Swaziland will suffer because she will get not £45 a ton as all the other members of the Sugar Conference will get, but only £35 15s. Moreover, she will get this help not until 1969 as other Commonwealth members of the Sugar Agreement will, but only until 1966.

    Why should this Bill penalise Swaziland? Why should she be penalised because South Africa has left the Commonwealth? Under this Bill South Africa is being treated better than a foreign country, which we find anomalous, and Swaziland is being treated worse than a Commonwealth country. This must be wrong, and I think we all agree that the proper thing to do is to discriminate between South Africa, which is not in the Commonwealth, and Swaziland which is.

    That must be the right approach, and the Government are going to accept it not now, but in 1966, when they will have to decide what to do. In that year the Government will have to consider their obligations to Swaziland, and it is as certain as anything can be that the Government will find that they will have to help Swaziland, and have no obligation or need to help South Africa. Therefore, in 1966 they will do what they ought to do now. They will discriminate in favour of Swaziland against other countries of the world, including the Union of South Africa. Why cannot we face today the problem that we will have to face in 1966? Why cannot we treat Swaziland now in the way that I believe we shall treat her in 1966?

    We found the Bill bad enough when we looked at it in Committee, but I go back to what I said at the beginning, and say that the principle and broad context of the Bill are basically wrong. The Government said that they did not mean this Bill to be political; that it was just an administrative or legislative matter. But of course it is not, and it reflects the unsatisfactory attitude and policy towards the Union of South Africa which the Government have shown in other matters in recent years.

    It would not be in order to discuss the question raised successfully enough by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), namely, the dual representation that we have in Pretoria, nor, I think, the question of diplomatic representation which was something I raised during the Second Reading debate, and about which I still feel strongly. These are straws in the wind and they add up to a wrong attitude on the part of the Government to the whole question of our relations with the Union.

    We have given her a specially privileged position. I do not believe that this is in accordance with the wishes of British people. I do not think that this is the attitude which should be adopted by British people in the present state of world affairs. I do not think that it is an exaggeration to describe the Bill as a great victory for South African diplomacy. I think that Dr. Verwoerd's Government have got that for which they hoped. They have not concealed their joy over the Bill. I think that the Bill reassures and consolidates the forces of apartheid, and it should never be passed by this House.

    6.45 p.m.

    I congratulate the Government on introducing this Bill, which I think makes the best of a difficult and bad situation following the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I welcome also the sensible arrangement in the Bill whereby South Africa remains within the sterling area and is able to receive and give the mutual benefits of inclusion within the Commonwealth trading area.

    During our discussions in Committee I felt that many hon. Gentlemen opposite thought in their heart of hearts—and I believe that one or two hon. Gentlemen who are not here today in fact said so—that South Africa should still receive the benefits of membership of the Commonwealth club. But what really staggered me—and I am sorry that no Members of the Liberal Party are present today—was that the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who played a fairly prominent part in our deliberations upstairs, said:
    "… I face quite frankly the logical conclusion of what I am advocating. I should like to see a token economic embargo put on South Africa."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 15th March, 1962; c. 192.]
    That is an extraordinary statement from a Member of the Liberal Party—the advocates and apostles of free trade.

    Too often Members of Parliament, especially Members of the Liberal Party, tend to make these airy statements knowing that they will never have the opportunity of putting into practice what they preach. They do not perhaps realise what would follow from what they advocate. What would happen if an economic embargo were placed on South Africa? The hon. Member for Devon, North must know that we have a favourable balance of trade with the Union of South Africa of about £50 million per annum. Is this how the Liberal Party would go about improving our national economic situation?

    The hon. Gentleman also knows that our total export trade to the Union runs at about £154 million a year. What would the hon. Gentleman say to workers in the electrical industries who found themselves out of a job because we had to face the closure of a substantial market in the Union of South Africa? That is what would happen if we followed to its logical conclusion the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman. We would be faced with the difficulty of finding fresh markets for over £150 million worth of British exports. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, who said in a far more able way than I could ever hope to do that the existing arrangements should continue.

    The South African sugar producers ought to have the benefits of the new arrangements negotiated between the Minister of Agriculture and the South African Sugar Board, which lasts until 1966. As my hon. Friend said, it will give those producers a few years' breathing space in which to adjust themselves and to make new marketing arrangements. They are going to suffer a considerable blow, in that the guaranteed price of £45 a ton which they will receive under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement has been slashed to £35 15s. a ton, in comparison with the price which members of the Commonwealth will receive in the future.

    In Committee, several determined attempts were made by the Opposition to deny South Africa this benefit. It was said by hon. Members opposite that if we were to help South African sugar producers we should be helping the Nationalist Party to remain in office and to continue to enforce its appalling policy of apartheid. Natal, where all South African sugar is grown, has sixteen Members of Parliament, of whom fourteen belong to the United Party—all dedicated to the overthrow of the Nationalist Government and, consequently, their wicked policies of apartheid.

    Does the hon. Member say that the United Party has declared against apartheid?

    What I emphatically do say is that the United Party in South Africa is dedicated to oppose apartheid as practised by Dr. Verwoerd and his colleagues at the moment.

    If we were not to give this concession to the South African sugar industry it would mean that that industry in Natal would have to find a vast new market for its sugar, a task which would be almost impossible. To cripple the sugar industry and deprive it of the limited benefits that it will receive under the Bill would admittedly strike a blow at the Nationalist Government, but to the one united group of people opposed to the Nationalist Government's policy, such an action by our Government would mean the death knell of their economic hopes for the future, and for remaining an Opposition stronghold in the centre of a very dark country.

    Although I welcome the Bill, I am not sure that the future of the High Commission Territories has been made clear. Their future should be left in no doubt. They must be protected by this country. They must remain under the protection and guidance of Britain alone, and as soon as they are able and fit to achieve independence it must be granted to them at their request, perhaps with our own guarantee. There must be no chance of the High Commission Territories ever being harnessed to the dreadful yoke of apartheid and to all that the Nationalist Government's policy means in South Africa.

    Will the hon. Member say how he squares chose admirable sentiments with the proposal to give the Swaziland sugar producers a price substantially below what they are entitled to as continuing members of the Commonwealth?

    The hon. Member should note that, for the first time, this agreement gives the Swaziland sugar producers a guaranteed market in the Union.

    The Government should emphasise that there is no threat of one of the High Commission Territories being absorbed into the Union, as, apparently, the old mandated territory of South-West Africa has been. I should probably be out of order in going in any detail into this matter at the moment, but it seems to me that, somehow or other, South-West Africa—which I visited on a number of occasions a few years ago—has more or less disappeared off the map as an independent territory. The Government must give us some assurance that the future of the High Commission Territories will not follow the direction in which South-West Africa appears to have gone.

    I can assure my hon. Friend that there is no question of that—and there never has been. I should not like his remarks to be held to indicate in any way that there is reason for fear on the part of the High Commission Territories. We have made it abundantly clear that our responsibility to them remains, and that they will not be absorbed into South Africa.

    Will the Minister make it clear that in saying what he has just said he is not implying that we should accept what has happened in South-West Africa? That situation must be righted in some way, in the early future.

    I, too, feel some discomfort about this matter, and I agree with most of what the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) has said. In response to my hon. Friend, who intervened first, I can say that I thank him warmly for all that he has said. I have nothing else to say except to thank and congratulate the Government on making a good effort at solving a difficult problem.

    6.57 p.m.

    We regret the introduction of this Bill, on the grounds so admirably stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). The Government have met us on a few points. By far the most important of the Amendments that they have given us is that in page 7 line 1, concerning the double negative, namely:

    "unless the offence is not an offence under the law of the country or territory in which the warrant was so endorsed or issued".
    in connection with the question of extradition of people from territories under British control back to the Republic. I want to draw attention to the kind of offences which exist under South African law, which are not offences in territories under the rule or protection of Her Majesty the Queen.

    I want to go briefly over some of the legislation now in force under the administration of the Nationalist Government. Under the Unlawful Organisations Act, every political organisation except the Liberal Party, the United Party, the Nationalist Party and the Progressive Party has been forbidden. Under that Act the African National Congress has been banned. Under that Act the ban has just been renewed for another five years. Under that Act Chief Luthuli was banished—that is to say, confined to his village of Groutville—and forbidden to attend meetings or speak or write in any way. He was allowed to go to Oslo to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, but he was not allowed to stop in England even for a day to speak or to meet people here, or to stop on his way back. He had to return immediately to South Africa, or he would not have been able to return at all.

    A case has recently occurred which, in principle, is in my view as important as that of Chief Luthuli. I refer to the case of Mrs. Mary Turok, who has just been charged under this Act because she belongs to a body known as the Congress of Democrats. It is not a political party, but it is opposed to apartheid. She has been obliged to surrender her passport, and will no doubt be sent to prison—for no other crime than that of holding a political opinion.

    There is the Group Areas Act, apartheid applied to areas of residence. The Nationalists say that this is not apartheid but is "national reconstruction." In fact it means the forcible removal of coloured people from areas which are defined as "White". Under this Act they are trying to move Indians from Johannesburg where they have lived, many of them in affluent circumstances, to twenty miles outside. Under this Act they are moving coloured people from parts of Capetown which for 300 years have had coloured populations.

    Order. The right hon. Gentleman is driving me very hard in relation to the rules of order on Third Reading. I understand that it is quite all right to say that, as we have amended the Bill on Report, to give instances of the class of offences which we have avoided including, but I think that in dealing with the painful instances the right hon. Gentleman has given he is going a little too far.

    I shall try to keep in order, Mr. Speaker. I was about to mention, and perhaps you will allow me to mention, the Separate Universities Act, which the Africans bitterly resent, the Bantu Education Act and the Immorality Act, the profound and despicable immorality of which has shocked the opinion of the world. Punishments under the last-named Act are up to seven years imprisonment and lashes. I was about to call attention to the fact that behind this monstrous legislation there is the no less pernicious Criminal Law Amendment Act, enacted in 1959 or thereabouts, under which it is an offence punishable by imprisonment simply to protest against any part of the law. The police have very great powers to arrest people and to detain them for many days, without preferring a charge against them or allowing them legal advice. It would be intolerable if anyone were sent back to the Republic because of offences against such legislation as that.

    In the course of our debate we have urged upon the Government that they should make arrangements—we wanted Clauses in the Bill—to ensure that no arms should be supplied to the Republic by this country if those arms could be used in internal disputes. We greatly regretted the action of Her Majesty's Government in sending arms to Portugal which could be used in Angola. Norway stopped that and we wish that our Government had done the same. The same principle applies to South Africa.

    I call the attention of the Government to the desperate situation which is now arising in the Republic. The Budget for 1962–63 was introduced the other day. It included an enormous increase in taxation for the forces and the armed police. The Minister of Defence said:
    "This is a Budget of national security … defence is at once its dominant theme and its ultimate justification."
    Defence against whom? Against the African people of the Republic. There is a very able political commentator who writes in the South African Sunday Times, Mr. Stanley Uys. He said that defence expenditure has been rising steadily since the Nationalists came to power. In 1948–49 it was about £10 million. Today it is £60 million. Defence expenditure has multiplied six times—

    I very much dislike having to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again, but could he explain to me how this is all related to any provision contained in this Bill? That has to be my yardstick.

    I consider that this Bill is in fact being taken by the Liberals of South Africa and by Africans in South Africa as condoning the policy of apartheid. That is the argument I am trying to support. I am trying to show how disastrous the policy of apartheid is and what a very grave—

    I could follow all that, but there is a limit to what I am allowed by the House to allow on Third Reading. It must be related to the contents of the Bill—the provisions now in the Bill.

    I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker.

    The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) referred to suggestions made in Standing Committee about an economic boycott. I there explained at length—I think that the Under-Secretary will remember—what I felt about an economic boycott. I believe it may perhaps be the only practical alternative to a blood bath which is now being prepared. If I had been able to explain further what is happening, I think the House would have seen how grave this is. I do not now argue the matter of an economic boycott, nor do I urge it, but I say that Liberals of South Africa have considered that the continuance of the trade preferences, the sugar subsidies and other provisions of this Bill mean that the Government are refraining from condemning apartheid.

    The right hon. Member keep referring to the Liberals of South Africa. So that I may place proper weight on the expression, will he say exactly what is the percentage of the population they represent?

    It means a very considerable part, a very important part, of British and Afrikaans, European population. It means leaders of the Bantu people like Chief Luthuli and it means some Members of Parliament of the Progressive Party—not yet many, but I trust and believe they will increase in numbers. I believe that Liberal opinion in South Africa, both Bantu and European, is the hope of the future. It is the duty of this House to do everything we can to encourage them.

    I quote a witness well known to this House, a man who knows South Africa extremely well, who has been there frequently in recent years and who has stated this point in extremely moderate words. I mean Sir Stephen King Hall, who wrote from South Africa the other day:
    "Politically-minded South Africans and their European sympathisers, i.e., members of the Liberal and Progressive parties, are mostly depressed by the British Government's decision to allow the Republic to continue to enjoy Commonwealth preferences."
    I was told yesterday by someone just back from the Republic, one who has fought against apartheid, that the Bill has set back the cause of Chief Luthuli's A.N.C., the organisation of people who believe in the partnership of all the citizens of the Republic of whatever race. They believe that the Bill will help the Pan-African movement, who hold that Africans must rely upon themselves alone. I view the future in South Africa with very grave concern. I believe that only the power of world opinion can prevent disaster there. I hope the British people will play their part in building up that world opinion. I much regret that this Bill will in no way help.

    7.8 p.m.

    The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) started his speech with an attack on the Nationalist Government of South Africa and described the legislation for which they have been responsible in recent years. I fully support him in that attack. I thought however, that he went much too far and was utterly wrong in suggesting that anything in this Bill condones apartheid or the actions of the Nationalist Government.

    Preceding stages on this Bill have illustrated that both sides of the House are united in condemning the racial policy of the Nationalist Government. It is that racial policy which has made the Bill necessary because, if it had not been for apartheid, South Africa would still be in the Commonwealth. It was only because her Government could not measure up to the minimum standard required by Commonwealth members that they had to leave this great free society of ours.

    I appreciate that hon. Members opposite would like to use the Bill to punish the Nationalist Government for their sins. I would go quite a long way with them if it were possible, but I do not believe it is possible. I do mot believe that such suggestions as have been made about ending the preference on fruit and other articles could have much effect. If they had an effect, it would be upon the poorer sections of the population—the 80 per cent. of the population who are non-European and are opposed to the present Government. Also, as my hon. Friend pointed out, the effect would fall mainly on the 40 per cent. of the European population, namely, the English-speaking South Africans who control the sugar industry in Natal. By that kind of action, which was advocated dining the Committee stage, we should probably increase support for the Nationalist Government rather than achieve the result we desire, which is to help the Opposition parties in South Africa.

    On the other hand, I should be equally opposed to the suggestion made by some hon. Members on this side of the House during the Second Reading debate and in Committee that the Irish solution should be adopted as far as citizenship is concerned. The Irish solution is, I hope, only for Ireland. It can mainly be argued on geographical grounds which cannot be applied to South Africa. It would be wrong and contrary to the intention of the Bill to give South Africans the privileges of Commonwealth membership at a time when they are outside the Commonwealth.

    I believe that certain effects of the Bill may have very interesting repercussions in the Republic. There are about 300,000 persons in the Union who are English by birth or by descent who do not, because of their nationality, vote in South African elections. I believe that this Bill and the changes of citizenship it introduces may well lead the Nationalist Government in South Africa to introduce further changes for their own people which may cause the 300,000 who constitute 10 per cent. of the European population to take South African nationality and then to exercise their right to vote at future elections.

    Therefore. I believe, contrary to what one hon. Member has said, that the Bill encourages the Progressive Party. I have a letter from the only Member of Parliament representing the Progressive Party in the present House of Assembly in Capetown. I also believe the Bill encourages the United Party. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) suggested that the United Party was not opposed to apartheid. I have its latest policy statement, which is considerably stronger than in the past when one could, I must admit, criticise its lack of direction, and this statement covers the whole new concept of a race federation. I must not pursue that subject, but it is roughly based on the solution reached in Cyprus, where there were racial problems between Greeks and Turks. I feel that one must acquit the United Party of any desire to continue apartheid and the policies of the Nationalist Government.

    Did the hon. Gentleman say that he had a letter from the one Progressive Member of Parliament welcoming the Bill and the maintenance of preference, the sugar agreement and other things?

    I said that I had a letter. It is from Mrs. Suzeman. I wrote to ask her for criticism of the Bill. Her criticisms are few and far between. I would not say that they are happy about it, but they do not condemn it in any way. There is no evidence to support the suggestion that the Bill will make things better for the Nationalist Government and supports apartheid. The position is exactly the opposite.

    I will certainly show it to the hon. Gentleman afterwards if he would like to see it.

    There is the benefit to be derived from obtaining British nationality, and I have no doubt that that is the part of the Bill which Mrs. Suzeman is applauding. But surely there is no support for the sugar agreement and preferences.

    As far as I can see, sugar is not mentioned in the letter, nor is preference. The letter relates entirely to details of citizenship. It appears that in general they are quite happy about the provisions of the Bill. I did not say that the letter was in support of the Bill. I said that there was certainly no question of objecting to the Bill or in any way going along with the allegation made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the Bill supports apartheid. I believe that in general the Bill will help the Progressive Party rather than hinder it, and the Bill is welcomed by the United Party.

    If the hon. Gentleman were a Minister, as I have no doubt he will be one day, he would be bound by the rules of the House that, having quoted from a document, he should lay it on the Table. Having aroused our anticipation by referring to the letter, does he not think that he should read it to us?

    I am somewhat anxious about Chat in relation to the rules on Third Reading.

    To look at the other main provision, that on Commonwealth Preferences, it seems to me that it would be cutting off our nose to spite our face to end Commonwealth Preference when one realises that we have a stake of £900 million invested in South Africa, that is, about 58 per cent. of the foreign investment in that country. This is quite apart from the question of British exports to the Republic and the importance of gold and diamonds to the London market. I do not believe that the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman would have any appreciable effect as a gesture. I believe that it would inevitably bring the South Africans together behind their present Government and do nothing to help those who oppose the present South African Government, such as the Liberals, the Progressive Party and the United Party.

    It is clear that the Bill breaks the last links—even if they could have been called links—between the Republic and the High Commission Territories. It is clear, as it has been for several years past, that there is no question at any time of allowing the High Commission Territories to form part of the Bantustan concept of the present Government of the Republic.

    I raised the question with the Joint Under-Secretary a moment ago, and he gave an answer which fully reassured me at that time. But I would refer to a booklet published by the South Africa Information Service in Pretoria, dated May, 1961, some two months after the Prime Ministers' Conference of that year, in which it says that legal provision was made in the South Africa Act for the eventual transfer of the High Commission Territories to South Africa. I wonder whether my hon. Friend could explain how that fits in with what he said.

    We are now inviting an intervention upon an intervention, which brings utter confusion.

    I am not sure what the position is with regard to the intervention and hope I may follow it by saying that that was a condition of the Act in operation but it was rejected very decisively during the Prime Ministership of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and has been rejected by Governments ever since. But perhaps my right hon. Friend will deal with that subject when he replies to the debate.

    It seems to me that the High Commission Territories must now stand on their own with the help of this country. Therefore, it is of enormous importance to us to make them shop windows for British democracy in Africa and show that white races and coloured races can work together as they do in these Territories of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland.

    I was delighted at the Amendment tabled today by my right hon. Friend which guarantees political refuge to people who come to these territories and guarantees that they cannot be sent back to the Republic of South Africa unless they have committed a crime against the law as we understand it. In other words, the position in regard to a political crime will be as has been customary throughout our history—that such people will find political refuge in British protected territories.

    The question of the two hats worn by our Ambassador, if I may put in that way, has come up at previous stages of the Bill. I accept that there are good arguments for allowing the Ambassador also to be the High Commissioner for the Territories, but I put this point to my right hon. Friend. The Ambassador is the Queen's representative in the High Commission Territories. There are also Resident Commissioners. In addition—I am thinking particularly of Basutoland—there is the Paramount Chief who embodies the spirit of the Basuto nation and to whom all people look second only to the Monarch. I suggest that it could be arranged for the Paramount Chief to be in his own country Her Majesty's representative under the general direction of the High Commissioner, and the Resident Commissioner the head of administration. That would be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but I know that it is a suggestion which will come up in the future, and I hope that it will be given careful consideration.

    On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend said that the Bill was a balance between sentiment and reality. I believe this to be true and that it will not disrupt the relations which we have with the people of South Africa. It is essential that we keep good relations with the people of all races in South Africa. I believe that the shock of leaving the Commonwealth, the shock of the loss of Commonwealth citizenship and the growing isolation of South Africa in the eyes of the world may lead to a change, by which I mean a constitutional change rather than a revolution on the lines prophesied, wrongly, I hope, by the right hon. Member for Derby, South. We are at one on both sides of the House in wishing to create conditions which will lead to the return of one of the foundation members of the Commonwealth, and I believe that the Bill will assist us in that objective.

    7.22 p.m.

    The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) spoke of a shock, but what we on this side of the House complain about is that the Bill cushions any shock which there may be, and, more particularly, it produces a very satisfactory economic cushion. We feel that it does not shock South Africa nearly enough.

    The hon. Gentleman interested many hon. Members by referring to parts of a letter he had received from Mrs. Suzzman. I have the greatest respect for that lady. I know her personally, and I find it very difficult to believe that, if she were asked specifically whether she thought that a Bill which gave preferences and a sugar subsidy to South African goods was a good Bill, she would answer "Yes". I do not know whether she was asked that specific question. I should very much like to know whether she was asked and what her answer was.

    The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) said that it would be wrong to put an embargo on South African goods. Nobody suggests that such a thing should be done. There has been an anti-apartheid campaign, and those of us who supported it said that there should be an embargo on South African goods, but that is not what we are discussing on this Bill. We are discussing whether special facilities should be granted to South Africa which are not granted to other foreign countries. This is quite a separate issue and has nothing to do with an embargo.

    The hon. Member for Harborough and the hon. Member for Haltemprice said that the United Party is opposed to apartheid. The hon. Member for Harborough qualified that by saying that he was referring to apartheid of the Verwoerd variety. That is a very peculiar distinction. I know that the United Party does not oppose apartheid of other varieties. I do not believe that the United Party is a strong bulwark against apartheid and a strong influence in favour of equality of the races in South Africa. I wish that I could, but I fear that I cannot.

    I think that the difference probably lies in this. It is, at least, a difference which the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate. Different forms of apartheid are practised just as different forms of Socialism are practised by hon. Members opposite. It is really all a matter of degree, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman appreciates.

    It may well be a matter of degree, but when I think of the different forms of Conservatism as practised by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, I see that the differences are very great. It is not only a matter of degree but of substance in many cases.

    Like the right hon. Gentleman, I should much prefer to support the Progressive Party rather than the United Party, but will he not agree that the United Party is the only effective opposition and the only possible alternative Government for South Africa as it is today?

    That is the tragedy. I think that at present that is so, and that is what I regard as so unfortunate. There is no large party which is an alternative Government and which is truly opposed to apartheid and stands for equality of the races. I am sorry that it should be so, but I have to agree with the hon. Gentleman on that.

    The Under-Secretary of State said that the difference between the two sides of the House are considerable. I am glad that he recognises this, because they are fundamental differences. The hon. Gentleman is not right in saying that the Government by their Amendments in Committee and on Report have produced satisfactory compromises for everybody. They introduced an Amendment of great help this afternoon, the one dealing with fugitive political offenders, but, by and large, they have stuck to their original Bill, certainly in its economic provisions.

    We on this side regard this as a thoroughly bad Bill. For my part, I say that it is an offence to the Commonwealth, and I say that advisedly. The Commonwealth stands for certain things in which we all believe, and, in particular, it stands for equality of the races. South Africa has definitely said that she does not stand for these things in which all the rest of the Commonwealth believes. The Government are saying by the Bill that, although South Africa does not stand for these things, although she feels so strongly about it that she decided to leave the Commonwealth, we should not make any difference in economic matters between South Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth. "You are very good fellows really", say the Government, "and although, because you have left the Commonwealth, we have to tidy things up and make some small amendments, basically we wish you to remain economically in the Commonwealth"—which is the most important point from South Africa's point of view.

    The people who will suffer most will probably be those who are most pro-British in South Africa, the people who will suffer the effects of the alterations in the nationality Acts. The people who will suffer the least will be the business people of South Africa, those who will receive the sugar subsidies and the preferences. If we really feel that South Africa has offended all Commonwealth ideas and has left the Commonwealth on that account, these people should not receive the benefits which they are being given today.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) told us that there will be preference on £30 million worth of fruit—quite a big preference on quite a large category of South Africa's exports. It is very unfortunate that we should give to South Africa that preference which we do not give to other countries with which we are far more in sympathy. If we are to give preferences to South Africa, why not a preference, for instance, to the Scandinavian countries or to America? Why not give preferences to the United States? We are far more in sympathy with the United States than we are with South Africa. If there is an argument for giving preferences to South Africa, there is an argument for giving them to the United States. Almost any country in the world is as worthy or more worthy to receive preferences, yet we put South Africa on a pedestal and give her preferences which will be of great advantage to her. Why?

    Moreover, the sugar subsidy will cost our taxpayers something—another most unfortunate feature of this whole business. Why cannot we buy more sugar from the West Indies even if it does hurt South Africa? We have done enough harm to the West Indies already by the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. Why not buy more sugar from the West Indies rather than from South Africa?

    How Dr. Verwoerd must laugh. He has been able to flout the Commonwealth and leave it but he has all the economic advantages which he would have had by remaining in it, and that is what means most to him. He is not concerned with political advantage, nor with the idea of nationality, nor with the sufferings of the people who will lose their rights. He is not concerned with that at all. He is concerned simply about economic rights and economic actions and so far as they are concerned he loses nothing whatever by leaving the Commonwealth. That seems to me to be a disastrous state of affairs, and something which must condemn this Bill.

    One matter which has been referred to is the question of the change from High Commissioner to Ambassador. What difference does it make? I cannot for the life of me see what difference there can be, except that it will mean that South Africa will now come under the Foreign Office rather than the Commonwealth Relations Office. What difference is there, in fact? What difference will it make to Dr. Verwoerd whether he is dealing with a High Commissioner or with an Ambassador? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will explain to us the loss which Dr. Verwoerd will suffer by having lost a High Commissioner and gained an Ambassador. Frankly, I do not see what difference it will make.

    I should like to ask a question about the duties of the Ambassador. This has often been said before, and I make no apology for repeating it. I think that it is most unfortunate that the Ambassador, whoever he is—and I have the greatest respect for the present Ambassador—should have to have this dual rôle in looking after both his ambassadorial duties in Pretoria and the welfare of the Protectorates. It was bad enough when he was High Commissioner. There might have been some reason for it then, but there is absolutely no reason at all for this arrangement now. Yet this is apparently to be the position. I do not say that provision can be made in this Bill, but the Government should announce that there will be some form of change in the arrangements by which the Protectorates can be run by somebody who is concerned with the welfare of the Protectorates, rather than by somebody who is principally concerned—indeed, it is his duty—to keep on good terms with the Government to which he is accredited—the South African Government—and who cannot therefore make the Protectorates his main concern.

    It has been said that the Protectorates should be our shop window, and I entirely agree that they should be, because they have not been in the past, and, today, their educational facilities and other services are very far from what they should be. I know that some improvement has been made, but it is a very small improvement, compared with what is necessary, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will support any efforts we on this side of the House make to try to improve these facilities—educational facilities, social services generally and the whole economic basis of the country—because at present, in many cases, they are economically far behind the Union itself. It is very unfortunate that it should be so, but now that minerals are being found there and there are likely to be further developments, I think that the economic situation will improve considerably, and, as a result, the Protectorates will get the social services which they so very badly need.

    The hon. Gentleman, and indeed the Minister himself, said, and I was very glad he did, that we intend to keep the Protectorates. He repeated that again today, but I wonder if Dr. Verwoerd really believes it. I have talked to Dr. Verwoerd on this subject, and I was staggered by his attitude. Talking about apartheid, he said, "We want to have a lot of little African countries, and, of course, included among them will naturally be Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland. Of course, we assume that. It is the whole basis of our assumption that these will be the African countries—the African parts of our two-section nation." I said to him. "Do you really mean that these are to become independent countries, and have representatives at the United Nations?" He replied, "Yes, certainly, they will be." It is extraordinary that he should have these ideas, which are such obvious nonsense. In what way can Basutoland be represented at the United Nations as an independent country? That is his understanding, and if that is what he hopes to achieve, every time the Under-Secretary or the Lord Privy Seal says that we do not intend to give up these Protectorates, that will, at least, be one thing which will disabuse him of that idea. I hope that they will say it as often as possible. They cannot say it too often for me or for anyone on this side of the House.

    In conclusion, I say that this is a bad Bill and that it is deliberately condoning the action of South Africa. I am glad that we are opposing it tonight, and, personally, I hope that when there is a Labour Government, we shall repeal the Act.

    7.25 p.m.

    Twice in his speech the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) referred to this Bill as a bad Bill. This seems to me, after having attended all stages of the Bill, to have been the attitude of the Opposition all through, in trying on emotional grounds to label us on the Government side as approving of the racial policies of the South African Government. None of us do, and that has been repeatedly said both from the Front Bench and from the back benches on this side of the House.

    Why must we have this Bill in this Session? It is perfectly well-known that it is because South Africa has left the Commonwealth. This has produced a situation which has never arisen before, and if the Opposition had been in power they would have had to have a Bill to deal with all these various matters that have arisen.

    I raised a number of points in regard to citizenship and trade on Second Reading, and I was very grateful to my right hon. Friend, both through correspondence and during the Committee stage, for the way he reassured me and others on these points. I am particularly glad that we are safeguarding the interests of the people in Swaziland, particularly those working in agricultural pursuits. I will not pursue that point further, but I have been there, and I know that they are a very kindly, peaceful people. It would have been utterly wrong if we had not undertaken to help them in their trade, particularly with oranges, which I mentioned earlier, and their sugar.

    I came into the Chamber in the middle of the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), who was referring to liberal opinion in South Africa. When it really came down to the point and the right hon. Gentleman was questioned on it, it appeared that he did not know how many members of the Progressive Party are at present in the South African Parliament. I nearly corrected him, but I was very grateful that I did not, because the right hon. Gentleman was in due course corrected by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), who has great knowledge of African affairs, and who properly told him that, however much we may regret it, there is only one at the present time.

    May I remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there was an extraordinary Progressive vote in a whole series of constituencies. Everyone agrees that the most marked feature of these elections in South Africa was this very remarkable Progressive Party vote.

    I quite agree. I knew many of those who were formerly Members of Parliament and founded the Progressive Party and I, like the hon. Gentleman, regret their disappearance, but it is usually best to be factually correct.

    It seems to me, after listening to the discussion, that Members of both parties opposite have done more to consolidate opinion behind the South African Government rather than to help the people whom we on this side want, through a proper legal process of elections, eventually to form a more liberal type of Government.

    I should like to mention a point which was made when we were talking about the economic situation in Committee by the only Liberal Member of the Committee, the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who quite clearly stated his party view when he said:
    "I should like to see complete economic boycott, because I think that is the only way in which we can bring South Africa to its senses without bloodshed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Standing Committee A, 15th March, 1962; c. 192.]
    I hope that the people of this country will realise that if that policy was carried out it would mean a loss of trade of about £150 million a year, with the loss of work for many of our businesses managements, employees and so on throughout the whole of the country. This policy would mean that a great many more people would be out of work.

    The hon. and gallant Gentleman is perhaps aware that moderate leaders, such as Chief Luthuli, have asked for a boycott because they quite sincerely believe that that is the only way to avoid bloodshed.

    This is a matter of opinion. I realise that the hon. Member for Devon, North said that he hoped that South Africa would be brought to its senses without bloodshed. I do not think that that will be necessary. In view of the unemployment, hunger, and so on, that there is in South Africa, that sort of boycott is much more likely to bring bloodshed than the development on economic lines in which we are helping them, and, as the people earn more money, they are more likely to play a part in influencing the present South African Government. As I say, that is a matter of opinion on which the hon. Member for Devon, North and I differ.

    I welcome the Bill. If there is to be a Division, as the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) suggested, I shall go very willingly into the Lobby to support it. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has had a difficult subject to deal with. In a relatively short Bill he has dealt with the points which any Government would have had to deal with on South Africa leaving the Commonwealth. As I say, I shall support the Bill in the Lobby tonight, and I hope that all my hon. Friends will do the same.

    7.42 p.m.

    This Bill arises from the decision of the Government of the Union of South Africa to withdraw from the Commonwealth following criticism at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I was one of those who, before the Prime Ministers' Conference met, did not support the view that the Union Government should be expelled from the Commonwealth. I took that view because I am against expulsions in principle—not in an immediate sense, but as a matter of political philosophy. It is a negative attitude, and I do not believe that it has effective results.

    I urged that the best method of asserting the principle of racial equality within the Commonwealth was for the Prime Ministers' Conference to adopt a statement of principle, a statement of belief in racial equality, and that, after the Conference had adopted a statement of principle of that character, it would be for the Government of the Union or any other Governments in the Commonwealth to decide whether in such circumstances they should remain within the Commonwealth. That more positive and constructive method was not followed. But, as a result of the very severe criticism by other Governments of the Government of the Union of South Africa on grounds of discrimination and segregation, they withdrew from the Commonwealth.

    If we are honest, I think we must all admit that it is not the Government of the Republic of South Africa, as it is now known, nor the white population of the Republic, which alone practise racial segregation and discrimination. It is a part of the practice of almost every community of mixed races, and we must be very careful not to adopt an attitude of self-righteousness towards the white populations in the Republic of South Africa.

    There is, however, one distinction between the Government of the Republic and other Governments. All of us are a little ashamed of practising race discrimination and race segregation. Whenever Governments within our Commonwealth have been criticised for practising those things, they have always been on the defensive. They have excused themselves. The difference in the case of the Government of the Republic is this. They boast of it. It is their religion and philosophy. They stand for those things, and the majority of whites in the Republic would stand for them if they were alone in the world. The Government of the Republic believe that it is a God-given principle, that there is an essential difference between the white person and the coloured person. Because they believe in it, they practise apartheid, racial discrimination and racial segregation.

    I am sorry that the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) has left the Chamber. I intervened in his speech because he said that the views of the United Party in the Union of South Africa on this issue were far more progressive than those of the Nationalist Party. Even the hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) suggested the same thing and produced the last programme of the United Party, saying that it spoke in favour of the policy of federation. But what policy of federation? It is the policy of the segregation of races, of having one area in South Africa which should be occupied by the Africans, another occupied by the Asians, another occupied by the coloured people, another perhaps in which they were all together, but separate from the whites, a society of federation of the coloured and white populations segregated separately.

    The hon. Gentleman will recall that his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) mentioned a lot of laws introduced by the present Government. I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that the United Party stands for the repeal of all those laws—the Bantu Education Act, the Separate Universities Act, the Immorality Act, and so on.

    The United Party does not wish to repeal all of them by any means. But there is this difference between the Nationalist Party and the United Party in South Africa. The Nationalist Party stands for the policy of apartheid with tears, whereas the United Party stands for the policy of apartheid without tears. They both accept and boast of the principle of apartheid. It is part of the religion of both parties. It is also the distinction between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and every other Government in the world. They are proud of it. It is their philosophy; it is their religion. It is for that reason, and that reason only, that South Africa is today outside the Commonwealth.

    I hope that the day will come when the Republic of South Africa comes back in the Commonwealth. Those of us who take the view which I am expressing now have the utmost sympathy with, and, indeed, the utmost admiration of, those of the white races in South Africa who are standing against the policy of apartheid with such courage.

    Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that one can go too far into the politics of South Africa on the Third Reading of this Bill. I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman related his remarks to his attitude to the Third Reading of the Bill.

    Perhaps my introduction is taking rather a long time.

    As a consequence of the policy of apartheid and the withdrawal of the Government of the Union of South Africa from the Commonwealth, we have this Bill. What I was seeking to argue was that it is because of the policy of apartheid and the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth that we have a Bill which was introduced by words similar to those which the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations first uttered in this House on 22nd March, 1961. He was so emphatic about them that he repeated them in the House, quoting himself, on 24th April, 1961. Because of apartheid, because the Republic had withdrawn from the Commonwealth as a result of the criticism of it, he used these words:
    "We must be careful not to destroy the value of Commonwealth membership by giving to those who are not members all the privileges of those who are."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 24th April, 1961: Vol. 639. c. 105.]

    Yes. I am glad that the Lord Privy Seal emphasises the word "all", because that will emphasise my next point.

    I served on the Standing Committee. There were only two logical persons on that Committee. One was the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), to whom reference has been made. The other was a Conservative whose name I know very well but whose constituency name I cannot remember, and so I cannot refer to him. He is a Conservative, perhaps, for whom I have more admiration than for any hon. Member on the opposite side. When one of our spokesmen quoted certain words from the Bow Group pamphlet—
    "It would be greatly to our discredit if we are seen to continue mutually advantageous economic arrangements created prior to the 1961 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, nor would it be in our interests to do so"
    —that Conservative Member rose and said that he was the author of the words Ah, yes, I remember—it was the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley). He and the hon. Member for Devon, North were the only two logical Members of that Committee.

    The hon. Member will remember that my hon. Friend said in his intervention that the reason why he would act as he did was because he was allowing his heart to govern his head.

    Good. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would allow his heart to govern his head a little more than it does. One of the things which is wrong with this House of Commons and with British policy is that it is so much concerned about the head and so little concerned about the heart. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that carefully.

    The hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham and the hon. Member for Devon, North voted against the concessions which we asked for human beings in South Africa. They took the view that they should be treated as foreigners. The hon. Member for Devon, North, with whom I am very friendly, thought that we had sacrificed the principle of making South Africa a foreign country because we wanted concessions made to the people of South Africa. Therefore, we were in complete accord with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when he used the word "all", which the Lord Privy Seal has emphasised. We do not want all the privileges taken away, because we are human beings and because we act according to terms of the heart.

    The Lord Privy Seal will know, because he was in the Committee sometimes, that we stood for international human rights for persons, and particularly for the great majority of the population of the Republic of South Africa—the 8 million who are outlawed, who have no vote and who, therefore, had no responsibility for the decision about leaving the Commonwealth. We pleaded in the Committee, as we have pleaded now in the House, that they should be regarded as political refugees in such a way that they would not be condemned by the action of the white minority in the Republic of South Africa.

    I regard it as quite characteristic of the party opposite that its members would penalise human beings on personal rights, but that when it comes to material things, to goods and to vested interests, when it comes to sugar interests or to Imperial preference, the Government make concessions.

    I wish that the hon. Member for Harborough were here, because he talked about the sugar planters of Natal, how they were British and how they did not want South Africa to leave the Commonwealth. Yes, they are British—members of the United Party, plantation owners. They are much more reactionary than the British in the industrialised centres of Witwatersrand and Johannesburg. They have the planter mentality. Yes, they want South Africa to remain in the Commonwealth, but their treatment of their own sugar workers is typical of the planters and plantation owners in any part of Africa today. The British industrialists are far more radical than those planters in Natal. Certainly, we on this side will not respond to any pleas which are made that their sugar interests should be defended.

    The next thing I want to say about the appeasement of the sugar interests in South Africa is this. We all know the tears that have been shed from the benches opposite about Swaziland. Does the House know what the proportion of Swaziland sugar is to the sugar of the Republic of South Africa? It is one-eighth.

    I thank my hon. Friend. It is 8 per cent. The sugar from Swaziland, will not benefit under the Bill. If it were treated as though it were in the Commonwealth, it would get a larger donation towards it than it will get under the Bill.

    Under the Bill, there has been compromise. The Commonwealth countries are to get £45 a ton and South Africa is to get £35 a ton; that is to say, Swaziland will get less than if it were treated as being in the Commonwealth.

    Yes, but it is not to get the Commonwealth rate of £45. It is to get the South African rate of £35 a ton, against the world market average price of £25 a ton. It has been urged upon us that it would be difficult to differentiate. Does anyone mean that the cases of sugar from Swaziland could not be marked "Produced in Swaziland"? Does anyone mean that the sugar from Swaziland exported to countries outside Africa could not go through Mozambique? Only a few miles away there is a Mozambique port, and there is no reason at all why exports of sugar should go through South Africa.

    Then there is the point about preferences. It has been made so strongly here that I do not think I need emphasise it much now, but, if one has got to look at the reaction of the Nationalists to this Bill, of the apartheid practisers in South Africa, let us look at the comments of the Nationalist papers in South Africa as soon as the terms of this Bill were announced. Oh, the relief, the joy, the feeling that they would not have to suffer at all because they had left the Commonwealth ! The Imperial Preferences were to be maintained.

    I am proud of our party because it is going to oppose this Bill. I am proud of the attitude of our party on the whole of the South African question. I am proud of the attitude our party in declaring for racial equality in the unmistakable way it is doing.

    When this Bill is passed by this House it will be a reflection of the fact that the Republic of South Africa is outside the Commonwealth, but the Commonwealth countries, whose criticism led to South Africa going out, will see in this Bill an effort by the Government and by the party opposite to appease South Africa and to make it easier for her as a consequence of the decision the Commonwealth has reached. I hope that this party, and not only this party but all who believe in the principle of racial equality, will vote strongly against this Bill.

    8.1 p.m.

    One hon. Member speaking earlier in the debate from the Conservative benches complained that the Opposition's attitude to this Bill suggested that the Conservatives approved of apartheid. We have never from this side suggested any such thing. What we do object to is that the terms of this Bill tend to give the impression to the world as a whole, particularly the uncommitted countries of the world, that this Government are prepared to make concessions to Dr. Verwoerd's régime which is so repugnant to world opinion.

    I think it is striking that on the Third Reading of this extremely important Bill raising this world-wide issue of the attitude towards a country practising apartheid there is not one Member on the Conservative back benches. Oh, yes, there is one Conservative back bencher to be seen. There is a formidable Treasury Bench; and there is only one silenced Parliamentary Private Secretary; but there is not another Conservative Member of Parliament—apart from the hon. Member below the Gangway, who has now brought himself properly inside the House.

    The hon. Member will agree that there are only six back benchers on his own side?

    It is 600 per cent. more than the representation on the other side. I do not want to be unfair, so I take note of what hour of the evening it is.

    However, it does show that on the real issues which are raised by this Bill—not the problem of the legal relationships between this country and South Africa, but the real issues which are raised by this Bill—there are feelings of passion and of principle on this side of the House and considerable apathy and indifference on the other side. I think this represents the real difference which has been shown during the debates on the Bill. The Minister showed it very fairly and clearly in opening the debate when he said that the debates had shown this difference of attitude, that the Government regarded this Bill solely as one for the regulation of the legal relationships between the two countries now that South Africa was outside the Commonwealth, whereas we of the Opposition regarded this Bill as a matter involving the whole political strategy of this country. I think it is true, and I think that the Opposition's attitude is the right attitude and the wise attitude for a country like Britain.

    In this Bill the Government have made a very big mistake of judgment. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) that there was and is a case for South Africa continuing to be in the Commonwealth if the consent of the newer Commonwealth countries could have been obtained for it; there is certainly a case for South Africa to be out of the Commonwealth in the sense that that gives the Commonwealth a clearer and more coherent framework of principle on this great issue of racial prejudice. I cannot see any case at all for doing as the Government are doing by this Bill and operating on the basis that although South Africa is out of the Commonwealth legally it is to continue to have most of the more important economic benefits of continuing to remain in the Commonwealth. Politically this gives Britain the worst of all possible worlds, and it gives the present South African Government, Dr. Verwoerd's Government, the best of all worlds.

    Dr. Verwoerd's rather fervent prophecies at the time South Africa left the Commonwealth have been proved thoroughly correct in the text of this Bill. He expressed the hope that although South Africa had left the Commonwealth it would make no real difference to South Africa's relations with this country as the central country of the Commonwealth, and it is a fact that what Dr. Verwoerd said then has turned out to be true. I really think the Government have made a very great error in approaching this problem in the narrow, legalistic way they have.

    It is true, of course, that behind the Government's statements that here they are simply regulating the relationships between two foreign countries there does lie this feeling that in doing so they are operating in the economic interests of this country and also of some sections of the people in South Africa whom the Government apparently feel we ought to make special efforts to help, although even here the Government are quite wrong, certainly in the balance of the matter. The economic benefits of this country from continuing the system of preferences with the Union of South Africa are pretty limited. My right hon. Friend and colleague the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said this very clearly in Committee on the Bill, and I hope he will make it clear again when he winds up the debate for oar side tonight. The economic value of the preferences is a very limited one, but the political liability of failing to show in this Bill what our attitude is to South Africa in the community of nations is, I think, a very considerable one.

    An hon. Member spoke earlier about the sugar producers in Natal and said that this country ought to give them a concession because they were the English-speaking Liberals in South Africa, they were supporters of the United Party, and that it was sensible political strategy by this country to give support to these groups in South Africa. He said they were utterly opposed—I think that was his initial phrase—to apartheid. When he was challenged on this by one of my hon. Friends he modified this a little and eventually ended up by saying, "Well, there are degrees of apartheid."

    This goes to the heart of the difference in attitude between the two sides of this House on this question. Apartheid is not in fact one of those things about which one can have degrees of difference. Apartheid is one of those basic issues of principle, like, say, capital punishment, on which one has to take one's stand on one side or the other. One is wholly against racial prejudice or, if one is not, one is giving oneself over to the other side. I well remember that when capital punishment was debated somebody said of capital punishment, "We really ought to treat this in our traditional English way of compromise", as though the really sensible approach was to hang every second person: let us be moderate about it. That is really the moral position of the United Party in South African politics. To suggest that we should make a big effort from this country and spend British taxpayers' money here in trying to support the United Party elements in South African politics is a misjudged view of the kind of priorities required in giving economic help.

    As my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough pointed out, this economic help to the sugar producers of Natal is being given at the expense of the sugar producers of Swaziland, one of the countries that remain inside the Commonwealth, for which both sides of the House feel we have a very special responsibility. The hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) said that we were giving a great deal of help to Swaziland by the arrangements under the Bill to provide a guaranteed market for its sugar producers in the Republic of South Africa.

    The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that the sugar price for the Natal producers was being slashed from £45 to £35 a ton. It is the sugar producers of Swaziland, of our Commonwealth, who are being "helped" in the word of the hon. and gallant Member for Eye by having their sugar price slashed from £45 to £35, and it is no answer for the Government to say that this is more than compensated for by the granting of a more assured market for Swaziland sugar in the Republic of South Africa.

    Surely it would be far better for arrangements to be made for the Swaziland sugar producers to have their guaranteed market not in the Republic of South Africa but in the Commonwealth, as full members of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and enjoy the full price that the other Commonwealth sugar producers obtain. If Swaziland had been given the opportunity to build up its sugar production to the maximum of its capacity to take up some of the slack left by the South African withdrawal from the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, it could easily have had this benefit. Although I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough that there are physical difficulties about this, I do not accept that they are unanswerable. If the Government had had their priorities right, they would have concentrated their aid on Swaziland and would not have sacrificed the interests of Swaziland to give temporary help to the sugar producers of Natal.

    The debate has shown that there is still some doubt about the position of the High Commission Territories. We were puzzled in Committee that there was no definite mention in the text of the Bill of the repeal of the 1911 Act. We had repeated assurances from the Government, which we very much welcomed, that in their view the Act has lapsed and therefore the arrangement in that Act that one day these High Commission Territories might become part of the territory of South Africa has itself completely lapsed. But the Government have failed to show us that they have been able to obtain any sort of consent from the South African Government to this proposition. One hon. Member opposite intervened in this debate with the interesting information that in an official publication of the South African Government, since South Africa left the Commonwealth, the Government are repeating this concept that the High Commission Territories are part of South Africa.

    This Bill is not a Bill that results from what amounts to general agreement on a variety of subjects between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of South Africa. It represents a process of negotiation which one might almost call the creating of a treaty; and it is clear that the Government have failed in this process of negotiation to obtain, as a quid pro quo for the considerable concessions they made, an open and clear assurance from the Government of South Africa that they have completely given up all claims to these High Commission Territories.

    If the Government had obtained this assurance they might have been in a stronger position to justify some of the concessions made, but we are left with the feeling that, although from our point of view the 1911 Act has lapsed and we have international law on our side, from the South African point of view the High Commission Territories are what they regard as their territories. When one looks at South Africa's contempt for law in South-West Africa one has no sort of confidence in the kind of bargain that the Government have obtained on this subject.

    The Government's whole attitude towards the High Commission Territories throughout the proceedings on the Bill has begun from the wrong end. Basically, the Government have taken up the attitude that we were in a weak position in relation to the High Commission Territories and South Africa. This was a Foreign Office view rather than a Colonial Office view. I am glad to see a representative of the Colonial Office present in this debate. It would have been better if the Colonial Office had been suitably represented by him in Committee. As a matter of sensible negotiating, and as a matter of fact, our position in the High Commission Territories in relation to South Africa is a good deal stronger than was made out, and a good deal stronger than the South Africans make out.

    It is true that until we build up their economic strength they are dependent upon South Africa for providing them with jobs. Equally, South Africa is very dependent on the High Commission Territories for labour. It is true that the High Commission Territories, as part of a customs union, are vulnerable in relation to South Africa, but it is equally true that if there were any difficulties about this and we were to say that the High Commission Territories are to be tariff-free areas, this would create vast problems for South Africa. Our position is not only morally unanswerable but in practice is stronger than the Government have made out in the course of our debates on the Bill.

    I come back to my main point that it is really wrong to see this Bill simply as a legal Bill setting out the pattern of the relationship between this country and a former Commonwealth country. The Bill is part of one of the great world dramas of our times. It has to be seen against the context of the ideological struggle in the world in which there are a large number of uncommitted coloured nations with deep suspicions of the motives of former colonialist Powers—suspicions understandably very difficult for us properly to allay.

    In this struggle for the minds of men and women in the uncommitted countries it is very important that when we have a Measure like this we should realise how it looks through the eyes of the new coloured nations and the suppressed peoples, including the suppressed majority in the Union of South Africa. It would have been wiser for the Government to tackle the Bill from an approach like that. It is desperately important that the British Government should be seen at all stages in world affairs to be thoroughly opposed to the kind of racial policies for which Dr. Verwoerd's régime stands.

    One of the benefits of South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth has been that Her Majesty's Government have felt freer to take a firmer stand about this. We welcome the changed attitude of the Government on some of the questions at the United Nations. For instance, the Government supported the United Nations resolution which condemned apartheid as reprehensible and repugnant to human dignity and urged separate and collective action by member States to bring it to an end. That is the sort of attitude the Government ought to have followed up in the Bill.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) talked about his distinguished South African fellow Nobel Prize winner, Chief Luthuli, who said in his Oslo peace oration:
    "The Nobel award is a democratic declaration of solidarity with those who fight to widen the area of liberty in my part of the world. As such, it is the sort of gesture which gives me and the millions who think as I do tremenduos encouragement."
    Nobody can say that the Bill, as the Government have drafted it, is a democratic declaration of solidarity with those who fight to widen the area of liberty in South Africa. Nobody can say that it gives the kind of encouragement that the great majority of Africans in South Africa are looking for from countries like this. The Bill ought to have done that. It is because it fails to do that that we are so firmly opposed to it.

    8.20 p.m.

    It is difficult to avoid an element of monotony in a debate in which most of the speeches come from one side. During the debate I have been watching the Government Front Bench and have felt that those occupying it must be taking their Lenten exercises with commendable seriousness, missing their dinner to listen to condemnations in which they stand without any support.

    Now that the Liberal Party is so strongly represented in this debate—two members of the Liberal Party are present—I am encouraged to think that the House will have the benefit of hearing an authoritative statement about the Liberal tradition and position in relation to the Bill. When one considers what the history of the Liberal Party has been in relation to South Africa one can only suppose that the graves of Rosebery, Haldane and Campbell-Bannerman are the scene of considerable ferment tonight.

    It would be surprising if such an event as the departure of South Africa from the Commonwealth had not given rise to serious problems and if those problems had not been reflected in legislation before the House. But a curious feature about the Bill has been that at each stage of the discussion even the most detailed point has given rise to an argument on principle. In the Committee Stage we had a debate about postal rates which showed how wide were the differences between the parties in their approach to the Bill.

    The Bill deals with two main problems. One problem is the economic transition of South Africa from being a member of the Commonwealth to a position in which she is no longer such. The other is that of individuals in South Africa who are losing, in some respects at once but in other respects by degrees, a status which they have long enjoyed.

    The attitude of this side of the House to those problems is as follows. In relation to economics, the Commonwealth and the importance of the maintenance of the Commonwealth tie are transcendent, so that if a country chooses to leave the Commonwealth it must accept as a consequence the loss of the privileges of membership. If it is said that to deprive the Republic of South Africa of the privileges of membership of the Commonwealth is also to inflict injury on ourselves, that is an argument which deserves examination, of course, but the question that we should ask ourselves is: Even if, upon examination, it proved to be sound, would it justify our continuing the privileges of membership for a State which is no longer within the society?

    No argument put forward from the other side of the House sustains the conclusion that any serious damage would be done to our economy if we treated the Republic of South Africa on the same basis as any other State outside the Commonwealth. We know about the electrical goods industry and the importance of British investments in South Africa, but we come up against this question: is the fundamental tie which holds the Commonwealth together merely an economic one or primarily a political one which has, of course, most important economic consequences?

    The view that has been taken from the other side of the House is the nakedly material one that the importance of this matter is purely economic. If, on the whole, it seems a good thing in the interest of those in this country who have economic commitments with South Africa to maintain preferences, that is the end of the matter. Trade follows the flag and if the flag is hauled down still let us keep all the trade that we can. That is not a view that we can accept on this side of the House. We do not believe that it is sound politics. We do not even believe that it is sound economics, because in the long run a country which has allowed itself to be governed in such a way as South Africa has been, will not maintain economic ties with this country, for a moment beyond the time that it conceives it to be in its immediate interests to do so.

    When it comes to subsidising an industry in South Africa on the grounds that otherwise some dislocation will be caused to certain economic interests there—to put it in possibly a crude but, nevertheless, I think, not unjustifiable way, my constituents are paying charges on their prescriptions on the Health Service in order to maintain the price of sugar in Natal—this is really something which cannot be justified by any argument whatever.

    I have been following the hon. Gentleman's arguments with close interest because he posed the question: what is it that holds the Commonwealth together? Is it political ties purely or economic arrangements that may have political consequences? He did not indicate what his own conclusion was on that.

    I am flattered by the right hon. Gentleman's interest in my views on this matter. For what it is worth, I would say that this is not a question that admits of any easy or single answer. Primarily, it is a question of having certain ties, some of them political, some of them of ideas, and of building a society which wants to strengthen itself by helping its members. Once a community has withdrawn from that society, then the reason for maintaining the economic privileges of membership entirely disappears, and it cheapens the whole conception of the Commonwealth merely to treat Commonwealth preferences as matters which have economic significance but nothing more.

    Now I come to that part of the Bill which deals with the civic rights inside the Commonwealth of South African citizens. What is the view of hon. Members opposite on this matter? It seems to me that they have treated this question with not quite the degree of seriousness it deserves. I do not mean by that that they have treated it frivolously; of course not. But they have not treated it as a question of quite the tragic import that it has.

    It was many years ago that a Conservative Government, by their forward policy in South Africa, exposed the British inhabitants there to the hostility of the Boers. One would have thought that, now that those British inhabitants together with the African inhabitants, are exposed to a nakedly Boer rule—for that is what it is—the Government would have concerned themselves, as far as it was possible to do so, to assure the British inhabitants of the Union that we still regard them as being part of ourselves, able to come to us as Commonwealth citizens whenever, with all the uncertainties that prevail in South Africa, circumstances should make it seem compelling to them that they should do so.

    In conclusion, I wish to ask one question. In the Committee stage, and again on Report, the Government have shown themselves, I am happy to say, liberal in their approach to the questions arising from the extradition and the treatment of fugitive offenders. On Second Reading, the Joint Under-Secretary of State said that a treaty was in process of negotiation by which, after 31st May, the relations of this country to South Africa over the extradition of offenders would be regulated. What progress is being made with that treaty?

    Are the Government taking every step they can to ensure that the offences covered by the extradition treaty, the offences for which offenders will in future be extraditable, are the offences which are covered now, with the Amendments which the Government have accepted or are later to include, and no other offences? In other words, will the extradition treaty exclude political offences and exclude the special apartheid legislation which is now in force in South Africa?

    The extradition treaty will follow the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1870, which excludes political offences and also offences which are not offences in this country.

    8.36 p.m.

    During the election in South Africa to decide whether South Africa was to remain in the Commonwealth, or, as Dr. Verwoerd wished, to leave the Commonwealth, our friends in South Africa were putting before the electors what they considered to be the fact that if they voted for Dr. Verwoerd and the Republic of South Africa, they would lose two great economic benefits, namely, the preference benefit and the sugar benefit. I know of no other real economic benefit which there was in being a member of the Commonwealth. The others were ties of blood and friendship with the British part of South Africa. The Boer part led by Dr. Verwoerd has never shown much friendship towards the people of this country. In 1908, after the defeat of the Boers, the great Liberal Party under Campbell-Bannerman passed the Union of South Africa Act, one of the greatest and most magnanimous Acts which this Parliament has ever enacted. What we are now seeing is the burial of that Act.

    Last year, our friends in South Africa were pointing out from the hustings that the penalty of leaving the Commonwealth would be the loss of those economic benefits. Dr. Verwoerd was telling them that they would lose nothing. They have been proved wrong and he has been proved right. I could hardly believe my eyes when I first read the Bill and saw that the Government proposed to leave South Africa with the benefits of Commonwealth Preference. South Africa had decided to go out of the Commonwealth and to cease to be a member of the family and a member of the club, and yet it was to have all the benefits of the family and all the economic benefits of membership of the club.

    It was said in Committee that we were being vindictive. We were not being vindictive. We are sorry that the present situation exists in South Africa. We should have preferred a friendly South Africa participating in the principles of democracy and racial equality, but that South Africa no longer exists. One of the factors that might have induced the electors of South Africa to come back into the Commonwealth is the fact that they would regain Commonwealth Preference. But if one can have all the benefits of the club without paying the subscription and without being a member, why come back to the club?

    We were not being vindictive. Many of us have friends and relations in South Africa. It was a sorry day when they were no longer members of the Commonwealth. When one turns to paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Second Schedule and sees there the benefits of membership of the Commonwealth being specifically given to the Verwoerd Government of South Africa, one can only express pain.

    In fact, it is rather worse than that. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. Thomson) pointed out in Committee that paragraph 5 gave a benefit to South Africa, and at the same time reduced the benefit to one of our partners, one of our Colonial Territories, Swaziland. Before the Union broke away the benefit to Swaziland and to South Africa under the Sugar Agreement was £45 a ton. This is now to be reduced to £35 15s. a ton, and for some reason which I have never understood, the producers in Swaziland, which is still in the Commonwealth, are to have their subsidy reduced to the level paid to the South African producers in Natal and elsewhere.

    When I made my calculations, I felt sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East was wrong; that he had got his arithmetic wrong, and the Bill would give more benefit to someone who stayed in the Commonwealth; that it was an addition to Swaziland and a deduction from South Africa. My hon. Friend said that he too had some doubts about it. He could hardly believe what he saw, and he asked the Joint Under-Secretary of State to deal with the point.

    I expressed doubts about this reduction of the subsidy to a Colonial Territory, and felt certain that a mistake had been made in the arithmetic. We were, however, not given an answer, so the figure must be right; that the people of Swaziland are to get £35 15s. per ton instead of £45 which was paid before South Africa took herself out of the Commonwealth. For some reason which I still fail to understand, the subsidy in respect of sugar produced in Swaziland is to be reduced. I cannot understand it, and I never will. I suppose that there is some explanation why the producers in Swaziland should suffer a reduction in the subsidy, and I hope the Lord Privy Seal will tell us what it is.

    It has been said, "Oh, well, most of the sugar is produced in Natal, and most people there are British. We are maintaining the sugar industry of Natal by allowing South Africa to retain the benefits of Commonwealth membership under paragraph 5 of the Second Schedule". I may be misinformed, and if I am the Lord Privy Seal will correct me, but I understand that there is not a single United Party, Progressive Party or Liberal Party Member for the whole of Natal in the Union Government. Natal returned 100 per cent. Verwoerd members. If they voted to leave the Commonwealth, as I understand they did by a large majority, they should be prepared to pay the penalty.

    South Africa continues to enjoy the benefit of Commonwealth Preference, which amounts to a large sum. In 1958 the value of the Preference to South Africa was £5,340,000, and the value of the Preference enjoyed by this country in South Africa was £1½ million. In 1960 the value to South Africa was about £6½ million.

    We all regret that South Africa has left the Commonwealth, but our regret is tempered so long as the South African Government pursue their disgraceful apartheid policies. We want them to abandon those policies and to come back into the Commonwealth, but while they remain outside it they should not be allowed to take advantage of the benefits of membership.

    8.47 p.m.

    I must apologise to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and to the House, for having missed the earlier part of the debate. I was detained on the type of business upstairs which all Members have to undertake from time to time. I understand that there has been a certain demand for a Liberal speaker. I find that very flattering, and I want to comply gracefully with the general wish that the Liberal voice should be heard. On this Bill it has been heard a good deal. I have been studying the proceedings in Committee. Taking into account the fact that there was only one Liberal Member in that Committee he seems to have played a very active part. In addition, I put the broad Liberal point of view during the Second Reading debate.

    I do not propose to traverse that ground again. I then made it clear that we regarded the Bill as having wide political as well as economic implications. We cannot divorce our view of South Africa from the knowledge we have of what goes on in that country. We cannot treat South Africa as another Burma. We must examine the reasons which led her to leave the Commonwealth, and bear in mind the fact that the way in which we treat her will have considerable repercussions all over Africa.

    The few remarks that I shall make will be directed to the subject of sugar. That is a subject upon which Mr. Gladstone once electrified the House of Commons, chiefly by calling it "shugger". I understand that one reason which has led the Government to feel that they must make special arrangements for the Natal sugar growers is that they do not wish to cause hardship by suddenly removing the guarantees and the markets to which those growers were accustomed under the agreement.

    My comment on that is that I have no wish to penalise or victimise the people of South Africa. As I said on Second Reading, I think we should treat them no better and no worse than the people of other countries with whom we carry on trade, but, if there were to be hardship owing to the termination of these agreements, we should make quite clear that the primary duty for dealing with that hardship rests on the Government of South Africa and not on the Government of Great Britain.

    I believe that the Government of South Africa have done something about this. I am told that the price of white sugar on the domestic market in South Africa is now £41 6s. 8d. a ton retail, an increase in price of £3 10s., and that this is specifically designed to help them over what might be a difficult period. What we are concerned about is the position of sugar growers in Swaziland. To them we have a far greater obligation than to the sugar growers in Natal. I am also told, and this seems to have been confirmed by the proceedings in Committee, that up to 1964, the quota for Swaziland will be 80,000 tons and that Swaziland sugar will be treated as part of the general South African production. I think I am right in saying that after that the quota is to be fixed at 8¼ per cent. of the South African figure and that will be a total tonnage of about 85,000 tons.

    I am advised, looking at the future of the sugar industry in general, that under the sort of arrangements envisaged in the Bill the present growers of the Swaziland sugar industry must expect to be held to that sort of figure. There is potentially a large over-production of sugar in South Africa. Unless they greatly increase their markets under the present arrangements, there seems little chance that Swaziland growers will be able to increase their percentage. This is a most serious matter. It has been suggested to me that if we were prepared to raise the Swaziland quota to 120,000 tons at £45 a ton that would bring in an income of £5,400,000 to Swaziland, money very badly needed in the territory. I am told that one can grow fifty tons to the acre in Swaziland as against thirty-five tons an acre in Natal and that potentially Swaziland is a more economic area in which to grow sugar than South Africa.

    It is also true that recently refining machinery has been sent out and erected in Swaziland by a Glasgow firm. There is no reason why refining and making sugar in Swaziland should not be greatly increased. A question I wish to ask the Government concerns what I am told is the Mhlumi company. I should like the attention of the Government Front Bench and I should like the Government's views on it. They have never heard of it. I understand that 40 per cent. of it is owned by C.D.C., but the Government do not know. This is very surprising. Is it really the case?

    It is most encouraging to find that at least one former Under-Secretary keeps up with these affairs. I hope that the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) will confirm that this company is a linchpin of the sugar industry in Swaziland.

    I understand that that is correct. I understand that 60 per cent. of the firm is owned by interests other than the C.D.C. I want some information about them. I want to know—although I doubt whether I shall be told—what those interests are. Are they not South African interests? I think that the Government should look again very carefully at the possibility of increasing sugar growing in Swaziland and at the possibility of distinguishing between South African sugar and Swaziland sugar, which I am told is not an impossible task. They should also look at the present set-up for the handling and refining of Swaziland sugar to make sure that it is in the interests of that country and that the South Africans do not have so much say in the question of Swaziland sugar as to make the position unsatisfactory for the people there.

    This is the main point which I wanted to make. I regard the sugar provisions of the Bill as one of its worst features. There are other features troubling those of us who feel that South Africa should be treated no better than and no worse than any other country with whom we have no special relations in the Commonwealth, but I think that the question of sugar, which the Government are bound to look again in 1966, is important. Will the Government consider what can be done before that date? I very much regret that they have not grasped this problem now and have not done more for Swaziland sugar producers when, after all, they are bound to do something further in the matter within the next four or five years.

    8.57 p.m.

    I find this a very uncomfortable debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) pointed out the difficulty of being other than self-righteous on the matter. I want to make it clear that I feel no self-righteousness about it at all. I object to chucking people out, and I always feel uncomfortable when I see it being done, but I feel still more uncomfortable when somebody resigns from an organisation of which I am a member because he says that my principles are too rigid for him to stay in with me—and that appears to be the attitude which the South African Government have adopted in this matter. Let it be made quite plain that they were not thrown out. They felt, after the last Prime Ministers' Conference, that they were in company in which they found it very difficult to endure hearing the principles which the rest of those present advanced.

    I want to express tonight my sympathy with the many friends I have in the more liberal elements of the Dutch Reformed Church, because I have sometimes heard it said that the cause of all this trouble is the attitude of the Dutch Reformed Church. In fact, there are many liberal elements in the Dutch Reformed Church. The great Remonstrant movement in Holland itself is an historic expression of liberalism in its interpretation of Scripture and in other things. The curious thing is that it appears to be the Fundamentalist section of the Dutch Reformed Church which has created this difficulty. I cannot understand why they should object to the view which we adopt about apartheid, for if they accept literally the words of the New Testament they cannot ignore the first great statement of Christianity to the Gentiles when St. Paul said on Mars' Hill,
    "God that made the world and all things therein … hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth."
    To my mind that is a fundamental statement of Christianity which at least ought to bind all Fundamentalists.

    Does not my right hon. Friend think that that should also apply to the gypsies in Britain, and does he not think that we should start at home before we start overseas?

    Order. There are limits to the Third Reading debate, and I think that gypsies are outside it.

    I regret that my hon. Friend should have led me astray without being rebuked himself, but I will deal with him on some other occasion.

    Let us make quite plain that we have not expelled South Africa. We are sorry to see her go. We regret that she feels uncomfortable in our company, but we cannot alter our attitude to fundamental human affairs merely to be in line with her.

    9.0 p.m.

    I take the House back to the speech with which the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs recommended the Bill to the House on Third Reading. It was, as always from the hon. Gentleman, a most pleasant speech, but it was a very short speech and a remarkable one in this respect, that it dealt entirely and exclusively with Clause 1, the nationality Clause, without mention of the other two Clauses and their Schedules which deal with the economic provisions, the sugar subsidy and the all-important matter of Commonwealth Preferences. To say the least, that was a remarkable omission.

    I am not altogether surprised that the hon. Gentleman should concentrate exclusively on the nationality Clause. It is very much the best part of the Bill. It is not perfect—we sought to enlarge it—but, so far as it goes, it is unobjectionable. The objectionable parts of the Bill, the economic Clauses, the hon. Gentleman totally ignored. He is quite familiar with them and spoke at length about them in Committee. His extraordinary omission takes very far indeed the principle of which he spoke, the principle of regarding the Bill as a legal tidying-up Measure to put the position right after the resignation of South Africa from the Commonwealth, without consideration for its profound economic and political consequences. That is the principle which not only the hon. Gentleman but the Lord Privy Seal and almost every official Government speaker has advanced, that on the major part of the Bill the less said the better; but we cannot let them get away with it.

    Four issues arise. There is the nationality issue. We discussed this in Committee and on Report, and I need not say much more about it. There is the position of South-West Africa. There is the question of the sugar subsidy and the question of Commonwealth Preferences. I shall say something about each.

    On the South-West Africa issue, I say at once that the Bill as we have it on Third Reading tonight is slightly better than the Measure which was presented to us. The Government have made a very small and inadequate concession, but it is something that, whenever the Bill refers, as it does in several places in the Schedules, to South-West Africa, the words now are "the mandated territory of South-West Africa". That gives some recognition of the special and very different legal status of South-West Africa vis-à-vis South Africa, but we are far from satisfied with that concession.

    The fact is—I must repeat this to the Lord Privy Seal, though he disagrees with me about it—that the Bill treats South-West Africa exactly as though it were a part of the Republic of South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman has convinced me, though my conviction was very reluctant, that, for the practical purposes of the Bill, this is probably necessary. I see the overwhelming practical difficulties of having a separate Bill, as I suggested initially, on South-West Africa. I see, quite frankly, that because of the de facto annexation of South-West Africa by the Republic of South Africa, which is what has happened, it may be necessary, for example, in Clause 1 of the Bill to treat persons of South African nationality living in South-West Africa as if they ware living in South Africa. I see that it may be necessary to treat goods coming from South-West Africa in the same way as, under this Bill, for good or ill, we are to treat goods coming from South Africa.

    But if that is so, it is all the more necessary, because by the de facto recognition, which inevitably it is, these two territories have become for practical purposes almost one—it seems to me that it is ten times more necessary—to make it absolutely clear that we are not recognising in any way the de facto annexation of this mandated territory by the South Africa Republic, that we repudiate the statements of the South African Prime Minister that these two countries have become one, and that we fully maintain the international status and integrity of South-West Africa. I am glad that we have got the Lord Privy Seal to say that that is his view, and that is an advance, but, again, we do not think it is nearly enough. We on this side in the Committee sought to put a declaratory Clause into the Bill making that clear. I would have thought that was far the better way.

    I can understand that, if the Government's policy were the opposite to what it is, if the Government's policy in Africa as a whole had been a policy of attempting to maintain white supremacy, as it is practised in South Africa, then, naturally, they would not have needed to worry about this, but I am thankful to say that the Government's policy is not that. I readily admit this, and I am very glad indeed of it. It is far more enlightened than that, but what the Government in this Bill cannot, apparently, be brought to see is that the policy of Her Majesty's Government must not only be enlightened and seem to be enlightened, but must also be seen to be enlightened by the whole of the African nations.

    We cannot be too careful not to fall into the errors into which this Bill seems to fall. Let me be quite frank here. I think that the Africans of the new African nations, ex-members of the Commonwealth and others, are extremely suspicious. They are very often morbidly suspicious in this matter, and that is a fact we have to face. There are historical reasons for it, goodness knows, and if we do not want to spoil our very fine record throughout Africa, we ought not to do the harm by omission which this Bill does in failing to make clear in the Statute itself, as seems to us the fact, that we do not for a moment admit that South-West Africa has been integrated into and absorbed by South Africa.

    The Lord Privy Seal, in answering me here, accused me, because I deployed these arguments on Second Reading, of doing immense harm, since he said we were giving the impression that we were doing this in the rest of Africa. With respect, that does not seem to me at all a good argument. The right hon. Gentleman is saying that if only we on this side of the House, or in the Committee, had not mentioned it, he would have got away with this without anyone noticing it. Indeed, he would not. In any case, we have mentioned it, rightly and inevitably, because it is a fact. Since it has been discussed in this House, we can record our deep regret that it has not been put right, as it so easily could have been, by including, not necessarily the declaratory Clause which I suggested, but one of that type which could be put in the Bill and quoted for ever afterwards.

    After all, this South-West Africa issue will come up time and again in the United Nations, and it is of the utmost importance that the British Government have a Clause in black and white in the Bill to the effect that this was a practical measure which we had to take to regulate our relations with the South African Republic, but making it clear that we were not admitting for a moment the de facto annexation of South-West Africa. We deeply regret that what I can only call the wooden insensitiveness of the Government prevented them from doing that.

    I come to the quite different but second major issue in the Bill, namely, the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, of which the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has just spoken. I think that this concerns by far the most extraordinary Clause and Schedule of the Bill. It extends this year the subsidised price which the British consumer pays for the sugar for the sake of the Commonwealth sugar producers to the South African crop, or to that part of it which we buy. When we mentioned the flagrant impropriety of extending an important Commonwealth agreement to non-Commonwealth producers, we were told by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in an interjection in my speech on Second Reading, that this was for the benefit of Swaziland. Swaziland was prayed in aid and we were told, in effect, "We have to extend the subsidised price to South African sugar, or we will terribly damage the sugar producers in our Protectorate of Swaziland. Surely we do not want to do that".

    We were rather impressed by that argument and, therefore in Committee we sought to amend the Bill—not to leave out this sugar provision altogether, but to add the simple proviso that we would pay the subsidised price—in this case it would have been the full Commonwealth subsidised price—provided that a certificate of origin was produced stating that the sugar was produced in Swaziland—in other words, produced within the Commonwealth. If that proviso had been accepted, we should have been glad to agree to this part of the Bill.

    We were greatly surprised when the Government refused our proposal altogether. By refusing it, what was left of their argument that they had to do this for the sake of Swaziland? They never even claimed that it was impossible to distinguish between Swaziland sugar and South African sugar. Of course it is easy to do so. If we pay the price with the certificate of origin, the Swaziland producers will put their certificate of origin on the bags quickly enough. Therefore, it seems to us that the Government's argument goes by the board.

    As we went into this matter more deeply—I do not pretend that I realised this at the beginning of our deliberations—it became much worse, because we discovered that the agreement with the South African and Swaziland producers, who were lumped together in the agreement, was not for the full Commonwealth price—usually between £42 and £45 a ton—but for £10 a ton less; and, more important still, it would end altogether in four years' time. Therefore, far from these arrangements benefiting the Swaziland producers, they will penalise them as against all other Commonwealth producers in two important ways. They will penalise them immediately by giving them £10 a ton less than any other Commonwealth producer, and four years hence—we have been told nothing to the contrary by the Government—they will be penalised by being excluded altogether from the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. This is what the Government call helping Swaziland. It is the exact reverse. This arises from the frightful mistake of lumping Swaziland and South African sugar all together in one, because up to now they have always been regarded as the same. With the leaving of the Commonwealth by South Africa, they ought not to be regarded as the same in future.

    The Under-Secretary was driven back on the extraordinary argument that all this had to be done for the preservation for the Swaziland sugar producers of the South African market, which, he said, was the natural market for Swaziland sugar. The Leader of the Liberal Party was on to this point. What is this natural market for Swaziland sugar? South Africa already has a heavy sugar surplus. My information is that of this year's crop, no less than 40 per cent. of the cane has had to be left uncut in the fields because of the size of the surplus. Why tell the Swaziland producers to sell in a market which is grossly overstocked with the native-produced sugar? It is economic illiteracy to say that this is the market for the Swaziland sugar producers. Therefore, the sugar provisions of the Bill seem to us to be misconceived and misguided in the extreme.

    Like the Leader of the Liberal Party, I have sympathy with the Natal producers, who, through no fault of the British Government, but through the fault of their own Government, found themselves excluded from the Commonwealth and facing a sharp drop in the price which they could get for their sugar. Something ought to be done for them. The responsibility for this, however, rests squarely on the head of the South African Government and not the British Government. As the right hon. Gentleman has just said, the South African Government has begun to help them and to subsidise them, no doubt quite rightly. Therefore, if we had made it clear that this could not be an obligation upon us and that our help must go to the producers who remained in the Common wealth—the Swaziland producers—the Natal producers, no doubt, would have been looked after by their own Government and they would not have been—they would otherwise, I agree—slaughtered by the appalling drop, which this year would have been a halving, in the price of their sugar. Therefore, the Government have struck an extremely bad bargain, to put it no higher, with the South African Government in the treatment of the Natal producers, who are simply the responsibility of the South African Government.

    What is, surely, the biggest issue of the Bill is the continuance of Commonwealth Preferences in general, of which the sugar agreement is merely a special case. I should like to examine for a moment the arguments which, at various stages of the Bill, various Ministers, various spokesmen of the Government and various hon. Members opposite have put forward in rebuttal of our simple case that it is not a good thing in principle or unless special reasons can be adduced for the privileges of Commonwealth membership to be continued to non-Commonwealth members.

    Hon. Members—several of them—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), for example—accused us, and me in particular, of vindictivaness, because we did not think it right that this privilege of Preferences should be continued. That, of course, inevitably, made us refer to the favoured club question, to the members of a club, the Commonwealth club, and the fact that we could not think it vindictive to say that a member who, for whatever reason, had resigned should not continue to enjoy the privileges of club membership. There might be a special case, of course, as in the case of Ireland, which has been mentioned, why they should be continued, but very special reasons, surely, would have to be given, and, after all, it would be a question of why the member had resigned. After all, this is something which we should have to take into account.

    If the member had resigned because he could not stand the faces—the colour of the faces, to be frank—of his fellow members, well, then, we should be specially careful about showing him special favours, and there would be nothing vindictive at all in refusing to do so and in treating him no worse, certainly, but no better than another non-member of the club. Therefore, I cannot for one moment admit this argument of vindictiveness when we say that South Africa in future, in these essential measures of Commonwealth Preference, should be treated like any other foreign country, no better and no worse. That was the first argument.

    The second argument which was adduced very freely by hon. and right hon. Members opposite was that it would be thoroughly bad for this country, for our trade, if we ended the Commonwealth Preference to South Africa. It was pointed out that we had a substantial trade of £147 million last year, 1961, to South Africa, and it was suggested that we were jeopardising the whole, or a great part, of this substantial export trade. That made us go into the question of what the actual economic effect on this country—and it is quite right, of course, that we should take that into most careful account—would be. It has not been an easy task to get exactly an account of what the Commonwealth Preferences on British exports to South Africa really are, but I have here a list of them, and they are a good deal different, I think, from what a great many Members of the House and of the Standing Committee may have thought them.

    In this total of £147 million of British exports to South Africa, there is industrial machinery which accounts for £35 million. South Africa gives us a Preference of only 3 per cent. on that. It is not by any means high. Road vehicles—motor cars—were mentioned, and in the Committee we were told that those Members who sit for constituencies like Coventry were jeopardising their workers' wages when we suggested that this Preference should be ended. So we looked up road vehicles, which account for £20 million of our export trade to South Africa, and we found that there is no Preference on road vehicles at all, so there would be no effect whatever on those exports if Preference were ended.

    The most substantial item is electrical machinery at £17 million, and on that there is a Preference of between 5 per cent. and 8 per cent. That is really the most considerable, but it is a small part of our total exports—only £17 million out of £147 million—and the Preference even there is not high. Chemicals account for £13 million, at 3 per cent.; textiles and fibres, £12 million at 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. according to items; and all others £36 million and various percentages of Preference, but all under 3 per cent. Therefore, we say that this argument that we should be ruining the export trade of this country if we ended the Commonwealth Preferences to South Africa simply would not hold water. In the terms of the actual volume of goods affected by any appreciable height of preference it is very much smaller than it is usually represented to be.

    The figures affect about half our export trade to South Africa.

    They make up the whole. I took the £147 million and broke it down into these categories.

    There is about 3 per cent. Preference on these items—which is the point I am making—and it is a very much smaller rate of Preference than it is usually suposed. On some of the items, such as road vehicles, there is no Preference at all. That is the simple point that I was making. It cannot be maintained for one moment that we should be dealing a dreadful blow at the country's export trade.

    This means also that we should not be putting much pressure on South Africa in ending the Preferences, because the Preferences we give to South Africa are only a little more substantial. They are about 10 per cent. on the £55 million of goods that she sends to us. It is perfectly true, and I accept it at once, that the trade between this country and South Africa probably would not be greatly affected one way or another. Therefore, we should not be putting great pressure on the South African Government.

    On my part, I have never considered that to be the object. It is simply that the Preference should end when the country goes out of the Commonwealth, and goes out for these particular reasons, above all. I do not accept the arguments of the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who has argued that it would be some kind of boycott if we put pressure on the South African Government. It would not be anything of the sort. It is simply that we ought not to give this special privilege to South Africa. We are arguing no more than but no less than that.

    I now come to the argument which the Lord Privy Seal used with his habitual ingenuity in debate. Quoting my predecessor, Mr. Marquand, when he spoke from these benches a year ago, the right hon. Gentleman said, "You yourselves said that we should have to have a trade agreement with South Africa." I fully accept that. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say, "These Preferences are a trade agreement. Why disturb them? Simply leave them as they are. They are as good a trade agreement as any, are they not? Why substitute another?" The whole point is that these are preferential trade agreements and they are Preferences which are called Commonwealth Preferences and therefore are quite inappropriate to a non-member of the Commonwealth, unless there are some very special reasons as in the case of Ireland. Therefore, we cannot agree that a Preference to a foreign country, and to this foreign country in particular, can be justified unless there is a very special argument which the Government so far have quite failed to produce.

    Then we came to perhaps the most curious situation and admission after this argument that it would be ruinous, or at any rate extremely injurious, to British trade and to the British export trade in particular if these Preferences were ended. I put the point to the Government and asked, "What happens with your negotiations with the Common Market? After all, we understand that you are asking for special consideration for Commonwealth Preference. The Lord Privy Seal is doing so in Brussels. But how will you justify a special Preference for a foreign country? Surely that will be something which it will be almost impossible in the negotiations with the Six to justify."

    Surprisingly enough, we had the answer from the Joint Under-Secretary: "We shall not, of course, do anything of the sort. We shall not attempt to justify this. If we find"—as the Government certainly will—"that these Preferences for a foreign country are quite incompatible with signing the Treaty of Rome, then we shall, of course, let them go."

    Those are the things which we were told are so valuable that we must not dream of letting them go. In one breath we are told that they are extremely important for our export trade, and in the next breath we are told that eighteen months hence we will let them go quite easily if they conflict with the Treaty of Rome. We find that the Government have been having it very much both ways.

    I now come to a set of arguments which I thought were the worst that the Government put forward. The Joint Under-Secretary summed up the matter when we debated the Clause in Committee. It amounted to saying that we could not, or should not, end these Preferences because it was necessary, for two reasons which he gave, to do what I can only describe as appeasing the South African Government.

    First of all, the Joint Under-Secretary raised what I can only call the sterling area bogy. He said, in effect, "If we offend the South African Government, and this would offend them, they will leave the sterling area. That will be terrible. It will affect our whole gold import."

    That is an argument which ought not to be put forward. It would take far too long to go into the economic argument, but I believe there is very little force in it. Our gold import from South Africa is just the same as any other import from South Africa. The South Africans do not send us their gold free. We have to pay for it with our exports to South Africa or, by triangular trade, to other parts of the world.

    It is, of course, true that we pay for it in sterling. That argument had force when sterling was an unconvertible currency. But now that it is, in effect, a convertible currency, I cannot see that paying for the gold import from South Africa in sterling, which the South Africans can readily convert into dollars if they wish to do so at any moment, is any different in effect from paying in dollars. Now that, for good or ill—I am very doubtful of it—sterling has been made convertible, I do not believe there is anything at all in the sterling area bogy argument.

    Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the very fact that the gold mines are in a country which is a member of the sterling area adds strength to to the sterling area?

    That is exactly what I am suggesting is no longer true. As soon as one has made one's currency convertible—one's foreign sterling holding is now convertible—I believe that not to be true at all. It may just give one a nice feeling, but that is about all.

    The second argument is a still more serious one. The Joint Under-Secretary said that, in effect, we must appease the South African Government because if we do not do so they will take it out of the High Commission Territories. That is a very dangerous argument for us to use. I was very glad when the Joint Under-Secretary made a strong declaration earlier this afternoon of the Government's intention to maintain the High Commission Territories. We must protect their interests and their integrity, but I simply do not believe that this can be done in the long run by appeasing the South African Government. We must do what we think is right in regard to the South African Government and at the same time protect the interests and integrity of the High Commission Territories.

    None of us knows what the future holds, but all of us must apprehend the future in South Africa. A time must, I fear, come when we shall have to choose between offending the South African Government and offending the rest of the Commonwealth, or the rest of the world for that matter. I am glad to say that the Government have, in effect, chosen the rest of the Commonwealth. But this is incompatible with the appeasement of the South African Government.

    After all, the Prime Minister himself has alluded to the policies of the South African Government as tragically conceived, perverse and abhorrent. When the Prime Minister has used language as strong as that—I am very glad that he did; I honour him for having done so—one cannot go on as if nothing had happened. One cannot go on and pass a Bill which one claims is politically neutral, has no effect, is simply a clearing-up Measure and merely regulates the new situation with South Africa outside the Commonwealth. For all these reasons, we deeply deplore the Bill and ask the House to reject it.

    9.41 p.m.

    Those who were members of the Standing Committee which considered this Bill will, I think, agree with me that the discussions which we had in Committee and the debates in which we took part were of a high level and of extraordinary interest. Having listened to a good many of the debates in Standing Committee, I certainly felt that myself.

    There were a number of issues, which the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) has mentioned tonight, on which we had full and frank debates and on which two points of view were very clearly expressed. I do not tonight, in winding up this debate, Which has been, I think, of equal interest, propose to go over the whole of that ground again, but I should like to deal with some of the points raised by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West and other hon. Members.

    As the right hon. Gentleman said in his concluding remarks, the background to this Bill and to all our debates is the withdrawal of the Republic of South Africa from the Commonwealth because of its racial policies. One thing that is in common between the two sides of the House is the general and deep abhorrence of the racial policies which are carried out in the Republic of South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in this House. They were also echoed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the same debate. Everyone in the House will recollect my right hon. Friend's "wind of change" speech in South Africa itself, in which he made very clear the views of Her Majesty's Government. Those views have often been repeated in the United Nations itself. So there should be no doubt about the views of Her Majesty's Government and of hon. Members on this side of the House on this matter, which we hold in common with the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite.

    The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), who spoke earlier in the debate, very fairly made the point that he did not in any way doubt the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards apartheid and the racial policies of South Africa. He then went on to say that he thought that certain aspects of the Bill brought this into doubt. This is where we differ from him and his right hon. and hon. Friends. We differ profoundly because we do not believe that this Bill does that.

    Reference has been made to the statement my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations made in March, 1961, and which I repeated myself on Second Reading. This was:
    "… we must be careful not to destroy the value of Commonwealth membership by giving to those who are not members all the privileges of those who are."
    I also included in my Second Reading speech what has not been so often mentioned in the debates on this Bill. This was part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who amplified this theme a great deal. He said:
    "As a matter of general principle, we have somehow to steer away from the two extremes. We do not want it to be supposed in the world as a whole, or in the Commonwealth, that it makes no difference at all whether a country is in the Commonwealth or not. We have to avoid that, but, equally, we do not needlessly wish to damage the interests of the people of South Africa. We have already said … that we are deeply concerned about our relations with them. It would be foolish to do anything vindictive which would antagonise opinion in South Africa and possibly postpone the day when it may return to the Commonwealth."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd March, 1961; Vol. 637, c. 454 and 517.]

    We agree about that, and the endeavour of the Government has been to strike the balance emphasised by the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, the differences between us are on whether we have been successful in striking that balance or not, and I hope that tonight we may judge the Bill from that point of view without any doubts as to the attitude of both sides of the House towards the racial policies of South Africa.

    This has, from the point of view of the Opposition, been a debate very largely about economic matters. This surprised me. I was first surprised by the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) when he discarded all the other aspects of Commonwealth membership which South Africa has lost as a result of leaving. This was why I put a question a little later to the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells), who took a very prominent part in our discussions in Standing Committee. I asked the hon. and learned Gentleman what he thought were the ties binding the Commonwealth together.

    The hon. and learned Member immediately made an attempt to define a very difficult point but he was not entirely clear. I believe that the Commonwealth is not held together only by economic ties, or even mainly or primarily by economic ties. I believe that it is held together by a very large number of other ties—constitutional, through the Crown as Queen or Head of the Commonwealth; political, in divers different ways; and by the personal ties which exist between the peoples and professional societies and in many other ways.

    In addition to that, if the Commonwealth means anything at all, if it has a status, then it means something to the world. It means something in the United Nations, and to a large number of countries who are not members of the Commonwealth. If that is so—and I hope that the House will believe that it is—then all that has been lost to South Africa by leaving the Commonwealth. I believe that South Africans themselves feel that very much indeed, because it has led to the isolation of South Africa from Commonwealth affairs and from world affairs as a whole, which has made a very great impact on them. I believe that to be of prime importance in the background to this Bill.

    The Union has lost all constitutional ties with the Commonwealth. It has gone out of all Commonwealth organisations. It no longer takes part in any of their discussions. It does not receive information or take part in the consultations which are the lifeblood, day by day, of the Commonwealth. What is more, it has lost the prestige and the status, of a family nature, of being a member of the Commonwealth as a whole. That I believe to be a very great loss indeed to South Africa, and so do many South Africans. That then, is the background to the Bill, and it has to be taken into account when we are striking the balance of what is to happen now that South Africa has left the Commonwealth.

    We have had many detailed discussions about citizenship and its different aspects. It is a very technical and complicated matter, and on this, too, we had to strike a balance. Some would have liked the provisions to go on for much longer, while others thought that they should have ended sooner. The Government had to strike a balance.

    Our position towards South-West Africa right from the beginning has been that the Bill does not and cannot alter the status of the mandated territory of South-West Africa. The right hon. Gentleman said that we were making a number of practical arrangements, and that is true, but the practical arrangements arise in the first instance from the nature of the mandate given to South Africa. It is because of the administrative connections with South Africa as the administering Power of the mandate that these practical arrangements had to be made in the first instance, and, therefore, removed by the Bill now that South Africa has left the Commonwealth.

    Our view is that of the International Court—and I say so again publicly—that the conditions of the mandate could be changed only by the United Nations. The United Nations has made no change in the mandate, and therefore it remains. We have made drafting Amendments to the Bill in order to meet the view of the Opposition that the details of the Schedule should be absolutely clear, but our view is that the status of the mandated territory of South-West Africa remains as it was. It is interesting that, as far as I know, there has been no challenge to that view anywhere else in the world, either in the United Nations, or in other countries. No one has challenged the fact that the Bill does not in any way alter the status, or imply an alteration in the status, of South-West Africa.

    The right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party and many others asked about the Sugar Agreement. I do not think that there is anybody who listened to the debates in Committee who would not agree that this is a somewhat complicated problem, and I fear that even now there is considerable misunderstanding about this agreement. I will try to deal with some of these misapprehensions. The suggestions which have been put forward have been largely concerned with the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and have been based on the premise that if we had not made this fresh arrangement, Swaziland could, in its own right, become a member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.

    Swaziland has never had membership in the past and has always operated through South Africa. It would, therefore, have to have membership anew. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, there are substantial surpluses of sugar in the world. There are Commonwealth countries already waiting in the queue to become members of the Sugar Agreement. There are some members of the Commonwealth in the Agreement who are already trying to increase their quotas. It is against the background of those two facts that one has to weigh whether an alternative solution would have been for Swaziland to try to secure membership of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. It is quite obvious that we had to make an arrangement for the immediate future, for four years.

    The right hon. Gentleman asked, as there were surpluses in South Africa, what chance Swaziland had there. This is a guaranteed agreement to Swaziland for 72,000 tons and even though South Africa has a surplus itself, Swaziland will be able to dispose of that amount. Secondly, at the moment, Swaziland cannot meet that amount of sugar, is not producing up to the 72,000 tons of which it could dispose in South Africa through this agreement. The third thing is that this agreement gives Swaziland what it has never had before, which is a factor for growth, an increase in the amount which it can sell as a guaranteed amount to South Africa. All these things are justification for this fresh arrangement which has been made for Swaziland.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say why the agreement cuts down by nearly £10 per ton the amount paid for Swaziland sugar exported?

    It is affected by this because it is still part of the South African arrangement, which it always has been.

    Because of the terms of the arrangement, under which South Africa is prepared to take 72,000 tons guaranteed.

    The other factor is that if Swaziland had become a member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement she would not have got an arrangement for her full quota. No other Commonwealth country has an arrangement for a full quota, and it is because Swaziland is able to dispose of its full crop that this is a very good arrangement for Swaziland.

    The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party said that he was advised that if the figure went up to 120,000 or 130,000 tons this would give Swaziland the money required for other developments. This is no doubt true, but the fact is that Swaziland cannot meet its quota of 72,000 tons, and as it takes four or five years for sugar to develop, there is little or no possibility, that it will meet that quota in the next four or five years, let alone go to the figure which the right hon. Gentleman suggested would solve its problem—120,000 or 130,000 tons.

    This is a good arrangement for Swaziland. It would be able to get a better price only if it was in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and getting rid of its full quota at the Commonwealth price. That is something which no other Commonwealth country gets, and there is no reason to believe that Swaziland would be able to get it even if she could get into the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. In those circumstances, I urge on the House that this is a good agreement in which Swaziland takes part.

    I believe that South Africa exports 150,000 tons of sugar to this country. We are proposing that South Africa should go out of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement because she has left the Commonwealth. Surely, therefore, there would be no difficulty in accommodating less than 70,000 tons of Swaziland sugar in the country, and there would still be capacity available for Jamaica and other Commonwealth countries. They surely could have no objection to such a proposal?

    There are two factors about that. First, as I have said, there are other Commonwealth countries waiting to come into the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and waiting to increase their quotas. The second factor, which is economic, and which I think hitherto the right hon. Gentleman has ignored, is that large amounts of South African sugar would be unloaded on other markets, including Commonwealth markets. Other Commonwealth countries take the view that this is a thing which ought not to be allowed to happen suddenly. That is why a further agreement was made for this period.

    I am interested in the figures. This factor for growth interests me. Is it not the case that there is no likelihood whatever of Swaziland being able to look forward to the time when she needs more than about 72,000 or 80,000 tons of sugar? As the right hon. Gentleman said, it takes four years for sugar to develop. What encouragement will we give her to expand her industry?

    That is a separate question, about the economy of Swaziland in the future. There is a capacity for growth, and there is a facility for growth in the contract, from 8 per cent. to 8½ per cent.

    The last point that I want to correct—apart from the pronunciation of the right hon. Gentleman, because the word mhlumi is pronounced "schlume"—is that we have not said that the end of this period of four years is to be the end of these arrangements for Swaziland, and Swaziland is to be left without any proper economic arrangements. We have said that at the end of this period further alternative arrangements will have to be made.

    Perhaps I might add a word or two about preferences. First, may I refer to the position about arrangements with South Africa and the negotiations with the European Economic Community. In my speech in Paris, on 10th October, I did not ask for special arrangements for Commonwealth Preferences. I asked for special arrangements for members of the Commonwealth, That is the distinction between this arrangement—which is a bilateral arrangement between ourselves and South Africa—and the rest of the arrangements within the Commonwealth on which we are negotiating at the moment. If these negotiations are concluded successfully, this bilateral agreement, like other bilateral agreements, will have to be re-examined in the context of those negotiations. That is fully understood by South Africa and has been known by South Africa since the beginning of the negotiations.

    On the general question of preferences, the argument was set out again by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West. I want to say something about the position of the other Commonwealth countries. I believe it was the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) who said that he thought the economic arrangements in the Bill condoned apartheid and were offensive to the Commonwealth. Throughout these debates, I have constantly asked right hon. and hon. Members opposite to produce evidence of the offence taken in Commonwealth countries about this Bill. I have never, on any occasion, been given any evidence from a Commonwealth Government of offence being taken to the Bill or criticism being made of it. The plain fact is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite have been taking offence, in the name of other Commonwealth countries, which is not justified.

    As for preferences—in Australia there have never been preferences with South Africa, but the Australians have said that they do not intend to disturb any existing trade arrangements with South Africa. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is not changing its preferences. New Zealand has a two-way preference, and the New Zealand Government are continuing to give contractual preferences to South Africa. Canada also has a two-way preference agreement with South Africa, and I understand that that is not being disturbed.

    None of the other Commonwealth countries have preferential arrangements with South Africa. African countries do not have preferential arrangements with South Africa or with ourselves, except for Sierre Leone. Other Commonwealth countries with preferences are continuing the policy which we are adopting, including Canada and New Zealand.

    The Liberal Party, through its spokesman in Committee, recommended the imposition of a complete embargo on trade with South Africa. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West and a number of hon. Members opposite disagreed with that suggestion. They said that they were quite prepared to have a trade agreement with South Africa. Every trade agreement which is bilateral is a preferential arrangement, because we are favouring the country with which we make the agreement and are also favouring ourselves. That being the case, the right hon. Member for Dundee, West is really objecting to maintaining the existing arrangement—a Commonwealth one—because of its name, and not because of a point of principle. We have reached arrangements with Burma and Eire, and the right hon. Gentleman does not object

    Division No. 138.]


    [9.59 p.m.

    Agnew, Sir PeterCourtney, Cdr. AnthonyHicks Beach, Maj. W.
    Aitken, W. T.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverHill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
    Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)Curran, CharlesHill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
    Allason, JamesCurrie, G. B. H.Hirst, Geoffrey
    Arbuthnot, JohnDance, JamesHobson, Sir John
    Ashton, Sir Hubertde Ferranti, BasilHocking, Philip N.
    Atkins, HumphreyDigby, Simon WingfieldHolland, Philip
    Balniel, LordDrayeon, G. B.Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.
    Barber, Anthonydu Cann, EdwardHoward, John (Southampton, Test)
    Barter, JohnDuncan, Sir JamesHughes-Young, Michael
    Batsford, BrianElliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Hulbert, Sir Norman
    Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynHutchison, Michael Clark
    Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonErrington, Sir EricIremonger, T. L.
    Bell, RonaldFarr, JohnIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
    Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Finlay, GraemeJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
    Berkeley, HumphryFisher, NigelJohnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
    Bevins, Rt. Hon. ReginaldForrest, GeorgeJohnson, Eric (Blackley)
    Biffen, JohnFoster, JohnJohnson Smith, Geoffrey
    Biggs-Davison, JohnFraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)Kerby, Capt. Henry
    Bishop, F. P.Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Kimball, Marcus
    Black, Sir CyrilFreeth, DenzilKirk, Peter
    Bossom, CliveGammans, LadyLeather, E. H. C.
    Box, DonaldGilmour, Sir JohnLeavey, J. A.
    Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.Glover, Sir DouglasLeburn, Gilmour
    Braine, BernardGlyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
    Brooman-White, R.Goodhart, PhilipLindsay, Sir Martin
    Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Goodhew, VictorLitchfield, Capt. John
    Browne, Percy (Torrington)Gough, FrederickLoveys, Walter H.
    Buck, AntonyGower, RaymondMcAdden, Stephen
    Bullard, DenysGrant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.McLaren, Martin
    Bullus, Wing Commander EricGresham Cooke, R.Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)
    Butcher, Sir HerbertGrosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.McLean, Nell (Inverness)
    Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)Hall, John (Wycombe)Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
    Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)McMaster, Stanley R.
    Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Harris, Reader (Heston)Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
    Chataway, ChristopherHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Macphereon, Niall (Dumfries)
    Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd.)Maddan, Martin
    Collard, RichardHastings, StephenMaginnis, John E.
    Corfield, F. V.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMarshall, Douglas
    Costain, A. P.Heath, Rt. Hon EdwardMarten, Neil
    Coulson, MichaelHenderson, John (Cathcart)Mathew, Robert (Honiton)

    to them. What he objects to is retaining our arrangement with South Africa because of its apartheid policy. That is not a view which we can support.

    I therefore urge the House to give the Bill a Third Reading. It has been a difficult matter to strike a balance over all these subjects, but I think that fair-minded people, looking at the Bill, will believe that we have achieved that. Press opinion has often been cited on both sides. The fact remains that many people would agree with the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that it was a great tragedy when South Africa left the Commonwealth. The tragedy lay in the racial policies South Africa was following. It was a tragedy also that a country should have reached the stage when it left the Commonwealth. What we have tried to do is to produce a Bill which is fair to individuals in South Africa and fair to the Commonwealth as a whole.

    Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

    The House divided: Ayes 201, Noes 140.

    Maudling, Rt. Hon. ReginaldRenton, DavidThompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
    Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Ridley, Hon. NicholasThorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
    Mills, StrattonRobertson, Sir D. (C'thn't & S'th'ld)Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
    Miscampbell, N,Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)Tilney, John (Wavertree)
    Montgomery, FergusRoots, WilliamTouche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
    More, Jasper (Ludlow)Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardTurton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
    Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesRussell, Ronaldvan Straubenzee, W. R.
    Noble, MichaelSt. Clair, M.Vane, W. M. F.
    Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir RichardScott-Hopkins, JamesVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
    Orr-Ewing, C. IanSharples, RichardVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
    Osborn, John (Hallam)Shaw, M.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
    Page, Graham (Crosby)Shepherd, WilliamWalder, David
    Page, John (Harrow, West)Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & chiswick)Walker, Peter
    Panned, Norman (Kirkdale)Smithers, PeterWall, Patrick
    Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)Spearman, Sir AlexanderWard, Dame Irene
    Peel, JohnSpeir, RupertWebster, David
    Pilkington, Sir RichardSteward, Harold (Stockport, S.)Wells, John (Maidstone)
    Pitman, Sir JamesStodart, J. A.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
    Pitt, Miss EdithStudholme, Sir HenryWise, A. R.
    Pott, PercivallSummers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
    Price, David (Eastleigh)Tapsell, PeterWoodhouse, C. M.
    Proudfoot, WilfredTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Woodnutt, Mark
    Pym, FrancisTaylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)Woollam, John
    Quennell, Miss J. M.Temple, John M.Worsley, Marcus
    Ramsden, JamesThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
    Redmayne, Rt. Hon. MartinThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Rees, HughThomas, Peter (Conway)Mr. Chichester-Clark and
    Mr. Whitelaw.


    Abse, LeoHall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Monslow, Walter
    Ainsley, WilliamHamilton, William (West Fife)Moody, A. S.
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hannan, WilliamMoyle, Arthur
    Beaney, AlanHart, Mrs. JudithNoel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phillp (Derby, S.)
    Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Hayman, F. H.Oram, A. E.
    Bence, CyrilHealey, DenisOwen, Will
    Benson, Sir GeorgeHewitson, Capt. M.Padley, W. E.
    Blackburn, F.Hilton, A. V.Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
    Bottomley, A. G.Harper, JosephPargiter, G. A.
    Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Leics, S. W.)Holman, PercyParker, John
    Bowles, FrankHolt, ArthurParkin, B. T.
    Brockway, A. FennerHoughton, DouglasPrentice, R. E.
    Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hughes, Emyrs (S. Ayrshire)Probert, Arthur
    Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Proctor, W. T.
    Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Hunter, A. E.Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
    Castle, Mrs. BarbaraHynd, H. (Accrington)Randall, Harry
    Chapman, DonaldHynd, John (Attercliffe)Rankin, John
    Cliffe, MichaelIrving, Sydney (Dartford)Reid, William
    Corbet, Mrs. FredaJay, Rt. Hon. DouglasRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
    Cronin, JohnJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
    Crosland, AnthonyJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Ross, William
    Darling, GeorgeJones, T. W. (Merioneth)Short, Edward
    Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Kelley, RichardSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)
    Davies, Harold (Leek)Kenyon, CliffordSmith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
    Deer, GeorgeKey, Rt. Hon. C. W.Sorensen, R. W.
    Delargy, HughKing, Dr. HoraceSpriggs, Leslie
    Dodds, NormanLawson, GeorgeSteele, Thomas
    Driberg, TomLedger, RonStewart, Michael (Fulham)
    Dugdale, Rt. Hon. JohnLee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Stonehouse, John
    Ede, Rt. Hon. C.Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Stones, William
    Edelman, MauriceLewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
    Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Mahon, Dr. J. DicksonSymonds, J. B.
    Edwards, Walter (Stepney)MacColl, JamesThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
    Evans, AlbertMcInnes, JamesThomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
    Fernyhough, E.McKay, John (Wallsend)Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
    Fitch, AlanMackie, John (Enfield, East)Wade, Donald
    Fletcher, EricMcLeavy, FrankWainwright, Edwin
    Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)Warbey, William
    Forman, J. C.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Weitzman, David
    Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. HughMallaileu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
    Ginsburg, DavidManuel, Archie C.Wilkins, W. A.
    Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Marsh, RichardWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
    Greenwood, AnthonyMason, RoyWilliams, W. T. (Warrington)
    Grey, CharlesMayhew, ChristopherWoof, Robert
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mendelson, J. J.
    Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.Millan, BruceTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Gunter, RayMilne, EdwardMr. Ifor Davies and Mr. McCann.
    Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Mitchison, G. R.

    Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

    Business Of The House

    Proceedings on Government Business exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[ Mr. Heath.]

    International Monetary Fund Money

    Resolution reported,

    That, for the purposes of any Act of this Session to enable the United Kingdom to take part in arrangements under which the International Monetary Fund may borrow supplementary resources from its members, it is expedient to authorise—
  • (a) the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of sums required for the purpose of making loans to the International Monetary Fund in accordance with the said arrangements;
  • (b) the borrowing in any manner authorised under the National Loans Act, 1939, and payment into the Exchequer of any money needed for providing any sums to be so issued or for replacing any sums so issued;
  • (c) any increase attributable to the said Act of this Session in the sums payable into the Exchequer under subsection (2) of section two of the Bretton Woods Agreements Act, 1945.
  • Resolution agreed to.

    International Monetary Fund Bill

    Considered in Committee; reported, without Amendment; read the Third time and passed.

    Poor's Roll System (Glasgow Sheriff Court)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. Whitelaw.]

    10.12 p.m.

    I am glad to have this opportunity to raise tonight the various happenings with regard to the operation of the Poor's Roll system at Glasgow Sheriff Court, particularly over the last month or so. This is quite a complicated subject, and the time which we have available is limited, but I want nevertheless to give a certain amount of the background of this dispute. Fortunately, there have been developments within the last two or three days which take away some of the seriousness of the situation, but there are a number of important matters which it is still worth while raising and about which I hope to hear the Secretary of State say something.

    The principle of giving legal aid in criminal cases to poor people in Scotland is long-established. I will not describe the history because there is not time for that, but immediately before this dispute arose the position was something like this—and I will describe it in respect of the Glasgow Sheriff Court, although with certain differences the same sort of system operated in the other sheriff courts in Scotland: any people who came before the Glasgow Sheriff Court—and large numbers of people go there—had the benefit under the system of a Poor's Roll agent to help him in his defence at the court and also, and this is important, not just at the sheriff court but at any subsequent proceedings in the case.

    For example, if a man were remanded, the next time he came before the court the Poor's Roll solicitor who represented him in the first case would in nearly every case represent him again. The same comment applies to such things as applications for bail and proceedings at a higher court. It is a misconception that the only people who have the benefit of the agent under the Poor's Roll system are those who are charged with comparatively trivial offences. Even murder cases, even the more serious capital offences, come under this Poor's Roll system

    This system was not essentially something which was a matter of Statute. It had become recognised, during the last few years in particular, that this was something which was done by the solicitors, and at a higher level counsel, in Scotland as a public service. The only contribution which the Government make to this service is a lump sum payment of £8,000 a year. It is agreed by the Law Society, by the Guthrie Committee, which I shall mention later, by the Secretary of State and by everyone else concerned that this payment of £8,000 is a token payment only and represents nothing like the actual cost of running the Poor's Roll system. At the time of the Guthrie Report the Law Society gave an estimate that if a proper system of legal aid were established, the cost would be about £200,000 per annum.

    Probably the cost would be considerably more than that. The only payment that has been made to solicitors in Scotland—no payment is made to counsel at all in Poor's Roll work—has been this payment of £8,000 a year. How it works out in Glasgow is that on the Poor's Roll in Glasgow there were twenty-six agents who took one week each for six months, so that each agent had two separate weeks in the year, and for a week's work each agent was paid £30. The £30 covered not only each week's work which he did, but also the other legal work which he had to do in cases that were remanded, cases that went to a higher court, bail applications and applications for medical reports and so on—all the legal work arising out of the cases which he dealt with as a Poor's Roll solicitor.

    It is recognised that any payments made are purely token payments, and nothing like cover the actual fees that could be charged by solicitors if they could charge the standard fees. It has been recognised that something had to be done about this. There was, in 1949, the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, under which it was provided that there should be a legal aid scheme for criminal and civil cases. The Act has been implemented in regard to civil cases, but it has never been implemented for criminal cases. The Law Society has made representations annually to the Secretary of State for Scotland from 1949, and eventually, at the end of 1957, the Guthrie Committee was established, under the chairmanship of Lord Guthrie, to look into the whole question and report. The Report was completed in February, 1960, and was published in May, 1960.

    The Report is extremely comprehensive, and goes into considerable detail, but all I need show for my purpose this evening is that it recommended that the principle that legal aid should be extended to criminal cases ought to be accepted. It went on to elaborate an actual, practical working scheme that could be put into operation once the principle had been accepted.

    The Secretary of State for Scotland said nothing at all about whether he accepted the principle of the Guthrie Report when it was published in May, 1960. In fact, he said nothing at all about the Guthrie Report until December, 1961. During 1961, there was increasing agitation and pressure by the Law Society as to the attitude of the Secretary of State for Scotland towards the Report, and I myself put Questions down to him in November, 1961, when he said that he was still considering the Report, and had not even come to a conclusion whether to accept the principle or not.

    It was only on 9th December last year, seventeen months after the Report had been published, that the Secretary of State said that he accepted in principle the idea that legal aid should be extended to criminal as well as civil cases. It is important to note the date, 9th December, 1961—which was only twelve days before the Glasgow and Dunbartonshire Poor's Roll solicitors gave notice that they would work to rule as from 1st January, 1962. It took this kind of pressure to get the Secretary of State to say that he accepted the Guthrie Report in principle. Following that, the work to rule was called off, but in the two months of January and February, there was very little in the way of developments.

    The Secretary of State made no attempt, according to my information. to get round the table with the Law Society to discuss the implications of the Guthrie Report, the question when the legislation might be likely to be introduced or any of the various problems arising out of the Report and the operations of the present legal aid scheme. This was desipte the fact that the Secretary of State knew that the work to rule, as far as Glasgow was concerned, was merely deferred, and has not been completely forgotten. It was only a question of deferring it, and, in fact, the Glasgow solicitors started to work to rule again on 1st March of this year.

    What the work to rule involved was simply this. The solicitors said that they would not act for all persons who came before the Sheriff Court but only for those who filled in an affidavit of means proving that they were poor persons rightly eligible for legal aid. The Poor's Roll solicitors continued to be in attendance at the Sheriff Court, providing affidavit forms drawn up by the Law Society in what was thought to be an acceptable manner. But legal aid in the Sheriff Court stopped on 1st March, 1962, because the sheriffs refused to agree that the affidavit was a proper affidavit and in those circumstances no one was willing to bring to the attention of the defendants the fact that there were agents available for their defence if they only took the step of asking for them.

    The Procurator-Fiscal refused to do that. I asked the Lord Advocate if he would instruct him to do that and the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that it would not be proper for him to do that. The sheriffs' clerk would not take the action of bringing the matter to the notice of defendants, and neither would the police. The sheriffs-substitute on the bench, although they mentioned the question of legal representation to defendants who had no legal representation, took very good care, as I saw for myself when, with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), I visited Glasgow Sheriff Court a fortnight ago, not to draw the attention of defendants to the fact that there were agents for the poor available there if they would only avail themselves of the opportunity to ask for them.

    During that visit to the Glasgow Sheriff Court, I heard about nine or ten cases. In three cases, the defendants were remanded for, among other things, medical reports on their condition. Two of them were illiterate and could not read or write, and obviously could not properly appreciate the charges made against them. All three defendants were remanded for, among other things, reports on their mental condition with the possibility that they would be remanded and compulsorily detained under the mental health legislation. These people had no legal representation at all.

    I found the proceedings that morning extremely distasteful, profoundly shocking and unjust to the defendants. In fact, from 1st March to 22nd March, no fewer than 536 defendants in the Glasgow Sheriff Court were unrepresented by solicitors. I dare say that by this time the figure is about 700. That is a shocking figure and a shocking reflection on the way in which these disputes are handled.

    Following the Questions in the House which I and some of my hon. Friends asked, the Secretary of State, to his eventual credit, began to take a certain amount of interest in the problem. He went to Glasgow on 24th March and had a meeting with the officials of the Law Society and with the representatives of the agents for the poor in Glasgow. Following that meeting, on Monday, 26th March, the Secretary of State sent a letter to the Law Society, not only saying that he accepted the Guthrie Report in principle, but committing himself, so far as any Secretary of State or Government Minister can, to saying that legislation would be introduced in the 1962–63 Session. There is no absolute commitment—I understand that—but it is a commitment which goes as far as the Government can go.

    Because of this, I understand that today there is to be an announcement that the work to rule has been abandoned and that as from next Monday, under a compromise arrangement in which both sides have given way to a certain extent, the sheriff will accept affidavits which he refused to accept three or four weeks ago and the Poor's Roll solicitors made a compromise to get some sort of system working as from next Monday.

    The point about the new arrangement is this. It is a strictly temporary one until 31st October. It is obviously conditional on what the Government do about this matter between now and 31st October.

    The two things which I wish to say about this whole melancholy business are these. First, it was completely unnecessary. There may have been an element of cussedness in the situation which I saw developing in Glasgow Sheriff Court. I have profound sympathy with the solicitors when I consider how the Secretary of State for Scotland has handled the whole affair. The original delay, the delay in the acceptance of the principle of the Guthrie Report, the delay even after the work to rule had been threatened and called off and the whole handling of the affair, was extremely unfortunate from the point of view of the Secretary of State. He seemed to do everything possible to irritate and annoy these responsible people. It should be pointed out that the unfortunate solicitors in Glasgow had the support throughout of the Law Society of Scotland.

    It seems to me that the whole dispute could have been avoided and these 700 or more defendants who have appeared in Glasgow Sheriff Court and who have been completely unrepresented—that is the most disturbing feature of the situation, quite apart from the claims of the solicitors—could have been defended as they have been in the past had the Secretary of State handled the situation in a better way.

    Now, a compromise has been reached and we are happy that this has happened. We all hope that it will not be simply a temporary compromise and that something permanently good will come from this whole unhappy affair. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tonight have the grace to apologise for the situation as it developed in the Glasgow Sheriff Court. I hope that he will give a firm promise that something will be done about instituting legal aid for criminal cases in Scotland. It is an important part of our social legislation that we need to consider. This unhappy affair merely emphasises the urgency of the whole matter.

    10.27 p.m.

    By the good grace of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) and of the Under-Secretary of State, I hope in these few minutes to make a short contribution to the plea which my hon. Friend has made. This unhappy affair has been handled rather as the teachers' dispute was handled. There has been an accumulation of delays and subterfuges instead of meeting a problem which is known inevitably to arise frequently. The difficulty has been contributed to partly because of the increasing number of cases coming into the Glasgow courts of accused persons in custody, and because of the difficulty of agents in ascertaining which of the many people were genuinely in need without having an adequate system of examining the affidavits. Shortly after the dispute arose, the affidavits were not made available. Consequently, people went into court not knowing their legal rights. It is true, as my hon. Friend said, that in court the sheriff asked whether the accused wanted legal aid, but it was not made clear that that aid would be free and would be made available. That incensed me while I was sitting in court.

    The numbers have been increasing. In 1961, the number was over 12,000, which was a 20 per cent. increase over 1960. The trouble really stems from the inaction of the Secretary of State concerning the Guthrie Report. He waited 18 months before giving an indication to men who had been straining at the leash and labouring with a great and complex problem.

    It is a question not only of the conditions of payment, but of the conditions in which to work. I have never seen such appalling conditions as in the courts in Glasgow, particularly in regard to facilities for children. I am not one who wants the return of the whip. On the other hand, I am not one who wants lush conditions provided for young people who may have offended—these are only people who may be proved guilty—but the conditions are shocking. There is one small room on the first floor where the agents have to interview numerous people. Children have to go down a broad stairway into the basement of the building, which is ill-lit, with cold tiling on the walls, into a room only 8 ft. by 10 ft. for 45 children of tender years, between the ages of eight and sixteen, with one agent in attendance, and, of course, some of the children's officers.

    How can people conduct business, and how can young people have any sense of response and even a sense of dignity in situations and conditions such as that?

    Here in the very heart of Glasgow, where footsteps on the pavement outside can be heard inside, there are 40 children in a room like a storeroom, and in the corridor one can see the service pipes. It is in that room that children are interviewed. The irony of it is that stored in that room are the ballot boxes for elections in which adults are supposed to cast votes for better and saner conditions. It is in a room like that that our young people are interviewed.

    I hope that tonight we shall get an assurance that not only will the Guthrie Report be implemented, but that all these things will be looked at soon.

    10.30 p.m.

    I differ in emphasis from some of the things which the hon. Members have said, but not very much in substance. I agree that this has been an unhappy sequence of events. I must repudiate the suggestion made that the matter has been handled in such a way as deliberately to be irritating and annoying. There have been misunderstandings. I shall endeavour in a brief time to explain how those misunderstandings arose. I certainly share the hon. Members' hopes that the agreement which, I understand, has been reached today will see the end of this sequence of events.

    Let me sketch very briefly the developments to date. In 1949, as has been pointed out, there were the Legal Aid Acts for England and Scotland. The English Act has not run into difficulties simply because on the criminal side it is in the main an adaptation and improvement of previous Acts which made provision for poor persons' defence in the criminal courts. We have run into difficulties in Scotland both because we did not have any such previous Acts dealing with the criminal side of legal aid, and also because the 1949 Act made the mistake of assuming that the legal aid arrangements proposed for civil proceedings would work equally well in the totally different circumstances which arise when a man is accused before a criminal court. The civil arrangements made in the 1949 Act have worked very well since they were introduced in 1950, but as experience was gained—I think the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) indicated there was delay in this respect, but there was not—as experience was gained of their operation it has become pretty clear that these provisions in the 1949 Act would not work satisfactorily if they were extended to cover criminal legal aid. This became apparent both to the Scottish Office and to the Law Society for Scotland, and it was for these reasons, with which everybody agreed, that no steps were taken to implement those parts of the 1949 Act extending the legal aid provisions to criminal proceedings.

    Instead, the Guthrie Committee was appointed in 1957 to take another look at the Sections of that Act relating to criminal legal aid and to work out how the Act should be amended so as to enable us to establish a legal aid system which would not run into the snags which practical experience has shown lay below the surface of the existing provisions of that Act. In the meantime, it is quite true, as the hon. Members have said, that the pressure of work in the criminal courts had been building up and the strain on the lawyers operating the Poor's Roll had been increased, but the lawyers knew and understood the difficulties of extending the 1949 Act to criminal proceedings. They appreciated the impossibility of meeting those difficulties till the Guthrie Committee reported, and also that after the Report was in the Government's hands it would be necessary for us to have some further consultation with the Law Society, sheriffs, and other people concerned.

    It is true, as the hon. Member said, that the first official statement on the Government's position on the Guthrie Report was made in this House in December, 1961, but in the meantime, and apart from the Parliamentary exchanges, we had been in touch with the Law Society, and in August, 1961, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met a deputation from that body. At that meeting he offered as an interim measure to double the annual payment made by the Government to give some help to the solicitors who undertake the Poor's Roll work in the sheriff courts. The offer was to raise this sum from £8,000 a year to £16,000 a year, on the understanding that solicitors appointed to be agents for the poor would continue to provide assistance either on the traditional lines or in accordance with modified arrangements introduced by agreement with the judges concerned.

    Unfortunately, the Law Society eventually turned down this offer because the Poor's Roll agents did not feel able to accept the conditions attached to it, and from 1st October, 1961, the Glasgow agents started to work to rule to some extent. The first step they took was that they continued as previously to offer their help on a welfare basis to anyone who asked for it, but only at the pleading diet. They declined, however, to appear at any subsequent diet unless an affidavit as to the means of the accused had been produced and examined. This was not satisfactory, but I understand that it did not interfere to any significant extent with the working of the court and until the beginning of this month there was not any serious administrative difficulty.

    But at the beginning of this month the agents took a second and more drastic step, which was to decline to appear at all, even at a pleading diet, unless an elaborate procedure set out in the Schedule to the Sheriff Courts Act, 1907, had been followed in full. At this point the complications were felt in their full force, because here the agents came into conflict with the Sheriff of Lanarkshire, for the sheriff does not agree that the procedure of 1907 was ever intended to apply in the criminal courts. He thinks, moreover, that its adoption would disrupt the work of the Glasgow courts.

    The House will appreciate that, so far as this impasse was the result of differences between the sheriff and the agents on a point of law or a question of practice in the court, it would have been improper for my right hon. Friend to intervene. But it was clear that in some measure the trouble was due to continuing fears about the Government's intentions on legislation. It is fair to say that the lawyers accepted the fact that legislation was not practicable for this Session. But they were concerned about the lack of any categoric assurance for next Session. My right hon. Friend therefore intervened, as has been said, on Saturday last to give a further explanation. Hon. Members are well aware of the practice of the House in this sort of thing. Precise undertakings as to what is or is not to be contained in the Queen's Speech for any given Session are not given prior to the speech itself. It is not customary to go beyond what my right hon. Friend said in his original parliamentary Answer of 19th December, 1961, namely, that legislation was being prepared.

    It is not for me to apportion blame. If there has been misunderstanding, it may be said that in the light of hind sight we should have done more to make the position clear. Equally it might be said that if there had been more foresight, that if the 1949 Act, for which the present Government carries no responsibility, had been drafted a little better, this situation would not have arisen. Anyway, there have been meetings and an exchange of letters and I was glad to see in the Press this morning that the Law Society had stated that it regarded the latest explanations and assurances as entirely satisfactory. I understand that my right hon. Friend's letter has been considered by the Poor's Roll agents in Glasgow and that they intend to issue a statement on the working of the Poor's Roll from now on until the introduction of a legal aid scheme for criminal cases in Scotland. They may already have issued such a statement, but I have no official knowledge of it and, therefore, it would be wrong for me to say more than I have said on that point, except to add that I hope I am not being too optimistic in believing that some suitable arrangements will be made and that this important social service will be continued for some time longer in the traditional manner, or with some minor variation of it, until it becomes possible to introduce a statutory scheme of criminal legal aid financed by the Exchequer.

    I hope very much that the difficulties which have arisen in recent months will not obliterate and obscure the fact that for many years the Poor Law Roll lawyers in Scotland have been operating—there may have been differences about how far it was a statutory obligation or not—but what has really in practice been a voluntary effort of welfare work which has been carried on most satisfactorily and which does great credit to the lawyers, to whom I think the community owes a debt of gratitude for rendering this service. We hope that this tradition will be continued until such time as we can bring the position into line with the practice that we want to see observed, the practice recommended in outline by the Guthrie Report—when we can make the necessary emendation of the 1949 Act to get a scheme which will put the system on a proper and up-to-date basis.

    The Question having been proposed after Ten o'clock and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

    Adjourned at eighteen minutes to Eleven.