House Of Commons
Tuesday, 8th May, 1962
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
London County Council (General Powers) Bill (By Order)
Consideration, as amended, deferred till Tuesday next.
Oral Answers To Questions
Civil Service (Designated Officers)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the criteria which govern the inclusion of locally recruited European officers in the Kenya civil service among the designated officers under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme.
The criteria for designation are set out in Clause 1 of the Overseas Service (Kenya) Agreement 1961 and I am sending the hon. Member a copy. A copy is already in the Library of the House.
Is it not a fact that there are about 1,000 European officers in Kenya who were locally recruited, in many cases were locally born, who were not recruited by or on behalf of the Colonial Secretary but who have been designated on the ground that they were employed before the publication of Colonial 306? Are there not a number of Asian officers in exactly the same position, but who have not been designated simply because they had not reached the salary stage arbitrarily fixed for the right to convert under the Lidbury provision? Is not this a quite unjustified distinction, and will the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter again?
This is a very complicated matter, but the provisions for deciding who should be designated were worked out in consultation with the staff associations and were approved by the full Kenya Whitley Council.
Is it not a fact that the staff association is protesting against this discrimination? Members of Parliament have received a lot of correspondence on this point. They are totally unsatisfied with the answer, and will not the Government look at the matter again?
I am always prepared to consider any problem again, but these things were worked out very carefully with the staff association, and as far as I know, having looked at the matter carefully, they are fair.
Chinese Middle Schools
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give the number of Chinese middle schools in Sarawak and the number in receipt of grant-in-aid.
There are sixteen Chinese middle schools of which eleven are in receipt of grants-in-aid.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the refusal of the management boards of these few Chinese middle schools not receiving grants-in-aid to come into the conversion scheme is acting considerably to the detriment not only of the children themselves but of the teachers who had to accept a reduction in pay? What is my right hon. Friend doing to encourage these few remaining schools to come into the scheme?
I understand that these schools stayed out or went out of the scheme because they would not accept the new policy about the use of English as a common medium of instruction. They were closed for a time, but now they are all open again. If at any time they agree to adopt the policy they will be eligible for assistance.
High Commission Territories
Public Capital Expenditure
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, if he will state in respect of each of the High Commission Territories the estimated percentage increase in public capital expenditure during the coming financial year compared with the last financial year.
I am consulting the High Commissioner on the subject and will circulate the information required in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that the special circumstances in the High Commission Territories justify a very high degree of priority in terms of capital help at the moment, and will he ensure that a substantial increase takes place in the coming financial year?
I will look at the figure when I get the report, but I agree that these problems are considerable because of their latent natural resources.
Has the right hon. Gentleman given any consideration to the recommendations of the Morse Committee's Report?
Yes, Sir, but before answering what the result was, I should like to see a Question on the Notice Paper.
The West Indies
Federal Civil Servants (Compensation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a statement about compensation for the civil servants made redundant by the break-up of the West Indies Federation.
Her Majesty's Government have now communicated to the Federal and Unit Governments detailed proposals relating to the dissolution of the Federation. These include a compensation scheme for Federal servants who cannot be absorbed into other public service or for whom alternative public service is only available on terms substantially inferior to their present terms. Arrangements are also proposed for safeguarding the pension rights earned by Federal officers during their Federal service.
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether he can give the House an assurance that there will be a proper meeting with the Federal civil servants themselves before the Federation is dissolved? Can the right hon. Gentleman make sure that the House is given the full details of the proposed scheme of compensation? Could he say what the cost will be, how it is divided up, and what the share of Her Majesty's Government will be?
I will certainly give the House the full details and an estimate of the cost. I cannot do so at the moment because the proposals have been given in confidence to the Federal Civil Service Association. I believe that its members will find them acceptable, but as soon as the discussion has taken place I will make the information available.
On my first point, may I plead for an answer because it is important in the matter of maintaining trust? Will there be a meeting with the civil servants in advance of dissolution?
We have told them the details and if they ask for a meeting there certainly can be one.
Federal Prime Minister (Pension)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether a pension is to be paid to the Prime Minister of the West Indies when he retires upon the dissolution of the Federation.
Yes Sir. Such provision has been made in the laws of the Federation.
Without asking my right hon. Friend to go into the details of the amount and so on, may I express the appreciation of both sides of the House at this recognition of Sir Grantley Adams's long record of public service in the West Indies, to which I am sure we would all wish to pay tribute?
Small Islands (Future)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what further developments have taken place in respect of the future administrative position of, and economic assistance to, the smaller British West Indian islands.
I would refer the hon. Member to my replies to his Question on the 15th February and to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) on the 16th April. We shall be discussing the future of these islands at the conference which opens at Marlborough House tomorrow.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a certain amount of disquiet? Cannot something be done to indicate the direction in which the Government want this to lead?
That is the purpose of the conference.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies at what age children can be charged in adult courts and sentenced to imprisonment in Basutoland; and what provision is made for the reformative treatment of child offenders.
Under the terms of the Basutoland Criminal Procedure and Evidence Proclamation, no child under the age of 14 may be sentenced to imprisonment. The law also provides that the trial of any child who is, in the opinion of the court, less than 16 years of age, be held in camera, and in some other place than an ordinary court room, the parent or guardian of the child having the right to be present.Special training and instruction of a reformative nature is provided for juveniles at a separate centre and the Government have a scheme in hand for the building of a juvenile detention centre on borstal lines.
Whilst appreciating that the right hon. Gentleman has only recently had responsibility for this area, may I ask whether it is not the case that children of 8 years of age in Basutoland come before the courts? Is there any reformative measure at all in borstals for juveniles who are sentenced, or are they not just sentenced to ordinary imprisonment? Should we not put this right in view of the closeness to the Republic of South Africa, which we so frequently criticise?
It seems to me that the hon. Member's supplementary question is a little in conflict with the Answer I gave to the original Question. If the hon. Member provides me with evidence I shall be glad to examine it.
I will do so.
British Virgin Islands
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will publish the conclusions and recommendations of the recent economic survey of the British Virgin Islands.
I hope it will be published shortly by the Government of the British Virgin Islands.
While I welcome the Government's initiative in having the survey made, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he would agree that the time for action has now come and that it would be quite intolerable to allow these islands to continue as a kind of derelict annexe and that they should be developed partly because of the invidious contrast which exists between them and the high state of development reached in the neighbouring American Virgin Islands?
We are very grateful to Dr. O'Loughlin for making the survey and preparing the report. She is coming to this country this month to discuss it with us. We are grateful for the opportunity, and after that I hope to be able to say something about it.
Would my right hon. Friend consider whether the survey to be published by the British Virgin Islands should also be published here and so be available to hon. Members?
I will certainly look at that.
Would the right hon. Gentleman bring pressure to bear on the Virgin Islands to join the Little Eight?
I doubt whether it is my job to put pressure on them.
Mr Alswadi And Mr Latif
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the reason for the arrest and imprisonment of Ali Alswadi, Deputy General Secretary of the Aden Trades Union Congress.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what were the reasons for the arrest and imprisonment in Aden of Mr. Abdul Latif, the President of the British Forces Local Workers' Union.
Both men were sentenced to three months' imprisonment for encouraging a strike in contravention of the Industrial Relations Ordinance. The charges arose out of speeches by the accused which showed that the strike of the Forces Local Employees Union on 11th April was planned in defiance of Aden law.
Is the Secretary of State aware that the Aden T.U.C. is affiliated to the International Federation of Free Trade Unions? Is he also aware that the imprisoned leaders of the Aden trade union movement are now being described as the "Tolpuddle martyrs of Arabia"? Is not this policy the nth degree of stupidity, because it has failed everywhere in the British Commonwealth so far?
The fact is that this Ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council which has an elected majority. In 1960 there were complaints by the International Federation, as a result of which the governing body of the I.L.O. examined the provisions of the Ordinance and found that they were not incompatible with the international labour convention on the right to organise collective bargaining.
Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that as recently as 13th March he said in the House that he did not believe that there was industrial unrest in Aden? Is he further aware that, following the imprisonment of these two trade unionists, a forty-eight hours' strike is being called as from tomorrow by the union concerned? Does not the right hon. Gentleman regard this as a matter of the utmost gravity and would not he agree that, whatever the I.L.O. says, it cannot be satisfactory to the trade union movement in this country that strikes should be illegal in Aden? Will the right hon. Gentleman institute an immediate inquiry and order the release of these men?
No, Sir. I think that the due process of law has been gone through and the Ordinance itself is satisfactory and working well. In reply to the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, I cannot remember the exact words off the cuff, but I think that she was alleging much wider industrial unrest in Aden than in general existed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his comment that the Ordinance banning strikes was working well is a very shocking one indeed in contemporary circumstances? Although the Legislative Council may have had an elected majority, is he not aware that the Act under which the Tolpuddle Martyrs were made martyrs was passed by a Government which also had an elected majority? Will the right hon. Gentleman take action to ensure that if the law forbids strikes it is changed and brought into line with modern conditions?
I said that this Ordinance was working well. It is promoting the successful settlement of disputes by agreement, which is what we want.
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.
Departmental Staff And Overseas Officers
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the contraction of British Colonial possessions and administrative responsibility, to what extent his staff and the number of overseas officers have declined during the past ten years; and what further reductions and reorganisation are contemplated.
As the Answer is long and contains a number of figures I will with permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
The Answer, I assume, at least indicates that there has been a considerable reduction in the right hon. Gentleman's staff in view of the contraction of our previous colonial responsibility. In view of this and of the still further contraction that is possible in the future, may I ask whether any further consideration has been given to the possibility at the same time of transferring the Colonial Office to a sub-department of the Commonwealth Relations Office?
There has certainly been a contraction of staff. I am publishing the details in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Some of the reduction has been due to contraction of responsibility and some because of transfer. The second point in the hon. Member's supplementary question raises something rather wider than the usual Question.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the French territories which received independence recently, civil servants remained servants of France? The result is that they do not feel that their careers are at stake if they train successors and they have been able to stay on in the newly independent territories in far greater numbers than civil servants have been able to stay on in ours. Will the right hon. Gentleman try to do something about this?
I will look at that. I cannot understand how an independent country could have its civil servants employed by a separate nation. I do not think that that would be acceptable to our tenets.
As the right hon. Gentleman is relatively new to his responsibilities, may I ask whether he could take advantage of this fact to have a look at another problem? Is he aware that there is a desperate need among the new countries for trained experts of various sorts? Is it not tragic that when a man has gained expertise and has done good service in the Colonial Service he should have to give up that jab to become secretary of a golf club in Surrey?
I absolutely agree. This is one of the reasons why we supply finance through the Overseas Aid Scheme to enable these countries to employ these expatriates. What the hon. Member said is that we should continue to employ people working in Tanganyika. I do not think that that is practicable.
Following is the Answer:
The staff complement of the Colonial Office was 1,664 in the financial year 1952–53 and is now 874; but this reduction reflects the net position after taking account not only of reductions arising directly from the independence of former Colonial territories but also of certain changes in the organisation of Government business affecting the Colonial Office, i.e., the transfer of work previously done by the Colonial Office in respect of territories which are still dependent to the Department of Technical Co-operation and the Central African Office and the taking over by the Colonial Office from the Commonwealth Relations Office of responsibility for the South African High Commission Territories. A reduction of approximately another 50 on the Colonial Office establishment is expected by the end of the current year. The rate of contraction beyond that time cannot at present be foreseen.
As regards the Overseas Service, in 1955, the earliest year for which general statistics are available, there were about 25,000 officers classed as expatriate officers. The present numbers are much the same despite the fact that several territories have since become independent and of this total about 14,000 are designated officers under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme serving in dependent territories.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if the transfer of the naval dockyard at Malta to Messrs. Bailey has now been completed; and if he will give to the House details of the financial and other terms of the agreement as now completed.
Bailey (Malta) Limited took over the dockyard on 30th March, 1959. On the second part of the Question may I refer the hon. Member to the agreement of 11th September, 1959, a copy of which has been laid on the Table, and to my predecessor's statement in the House on 18th May last about the revision of the original plan.
Am I to understand from that that the agreement with Malta was concluded three years ago? Is it not the case that it was proposed to transfer the naval dockyard into a commercial one and that no start has been made so far? Is it not the case that machinery and plant have been removed from the dockyard, and that men in Malta are becoming concerned because the employment position will be affected? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this now?
I think that there has been some disappointment over progress. If I remember correctly, contracts have recently been let and work will be starting soon.
Will my right hon. Friend at a convenient time publish the report about the workings of Messrs. Bailey in the Malta dockyard? Does he realise that there is much dissatisfaction? Will he tell the House what the position is?
As the House is aware, I am making an inquiry into the workings at Malta dockyard. Someone has been appointed to do this. We have also appointed a Government director. As to publication, we must wait and see what emerges.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that there are now 6,500 unemployed on the island of Malta, and that this number is increasing weekly; and what further steps are being taken to provide new industries on the island.
I understand that the last official return of registered unemployed in December last gave a figure of 4,367. Primary responsibility for the provision of employment rests with the Malta Government, but Her Majesty's Government are providing substantial sums to assist industrial development.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large number of men do not sign at all because they cannot get employment? Is he aware that a few days ago it was reported in Malta, when I was there, that 6,500 men are unemployed? Is he also aware that at Messrs. Bailey a number of people have recently been dismissed, and that, as I understand, the firm intends dismissing another 1,000 in the course of the next month or so? Will he look at the question, because unemployment is becoming very acute there?
Yes, Sir; I am concerned about the unemployment situation in Malta and am trying to find any method I can of improving it.
Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest to the Government of Malta that they might offer their territory as a base for the world force under the security authority which Her Majesty's Government hope to set up?
I feel that that is a somewhat wider question.
Does not my right hon. Friend think that the right way to deal with the surplus labour in Malta is to encourage emigration, and what steps is he taking in that direction?
Traditionally, there is a good deal of emigration from Malta, but I think that on the whole the Maltese prefer to obtain work in their own country if they can.
In view of what has been said by hon. Members behind him, would the right hon. Gentleman care to have a look at the Commonwealth Immigrants Act now?
What has been said affects not the Act but its operation.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what further investigations are taking place with regard to the possibility of building an airfield in the Seychelles.
The report of the reconnaissance team which visited Seychelles in 1961 is now being examined.
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that these islands are in need of assistance from this country and that it might well be possible for us to give help by combining the strategic need with social responsibility and opening up these islands by providing transport facilities via an airfield?
We are considering the airfield possibilities, and the strategic possibilities are certainly not being overlooked.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about the proposed constitutional conference for British Guiana.
In January Her Majesty's Government agreed with the Government of British Guiana to hold an Independence Conference in May. Subsequent events have now made this impracticable. A Commission, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Wynn Parry, will begin an inquiry into the February disturbances in Georgetown in the middle of this month. We are discussing with the British Guiana Government measures aimed at enabling the Conference to have before it a formulation of local ideas for an Independence Constitution, with initial areas of disagreement narrowed as far as possible. The two Governments are also undertaking a joint examination of financial matters. To enable these measures to be completed some deferment of the Conference is needed. I propose to hold it in July provided the necessary preparatory steps are completed in time. The Government of British Guiana has been so informed.
While all hon. Members must be disappointed about the delay in holding the Conference, does my right hon. Friend appreciate that when it does arise everybody would wish to show it encouragement? Will he say whether the political parties and political leaders have been fully consulted on this step and are in agreement over it?
I have, of course, consulted the Government of British Guiana on this subject. I think it is apparent to everyone that it would be quite impracticable to hold an Independence Conference at this moment.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement that the Conference is to be postponed will be received with very great disappointment in British Guiana? In view of the serious situation there, does he appreciate that the most effective way to obtain stable government there would be to allow the Government in British Guiana to announce an early date by which independence would be achieved?
No, Sir I entirely disagree. It is precisely because of the serious situation to which the hon. Gentleman referred that I think it would be unwise to have a Conference at the moment.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the very real fears of many people in British Guiana that independence without proper and effective safeguards can lead only to the domination of that country by Communists and the establishment of a new Communist centre in South America?
I am very anxious to get a Constitution for British Guiana on independence that will guarantee the rights of individuals. I think that the best way to do that is through the maximum possible agreement between the political parties. I also think that the atmosphere for such an agreement is not particularly favourable at the present moment
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether Dr. Jagan and the British Guiana Government have agreed to the date in July which he has suggested? Can he give an assurance that the report of the committee of inquiry will be published in this country as well as in British Guiana?
On the first point, I think it would be unfair to Dr. Jagan to say that he has agreed but it would be right to say that he was fully consulted and has acquiesced in the postponement. I want the report of the committee of inquiry to be available as soon as possible. I will look into the question of publication.
Hurricane Damage (Financial Aid)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's financial contribution to the rehabilitation of British Honduras following the recent hurricane.
Subject to the approval of Parliament, Her Majesty's Government have decided to make available to the Government of British Honduras aid totalling approximately £5 million. Of this amount about £1 million has already been incurred on emergency assistance immediately following the hurricane. Of the balance of £4 million, which will be spread over four years, £2½ million will be towards the general programme of reconstruction, and £1½ million towards the cost of building a new capital, subject to the approval of a satisfactory plan. If during the four-year period it appears that further funds will be required for reconstruction, Her Majesty's Government will consider making an additional contribution of up to £750,000.
I was not quite clear from my right hon. Friend's Answer whether the new capital is to be reconstructed inland, for which so many of us have pressed, and which I believe would be generally acceptable to British Honduras. Will my right hon. Friend confirm whether this is so or not? If it is so, does he consider the sum of £1½ million which he mentioned in connection with the capital to be adequate to make a good job of this very important project?
The case for the new capital is, clearly, a very strong one. Of the aid that we have in mind, £1½ million will be towards the cost of building a new capital. We are not providing all that we were asked for, but I think that the sums involved are fairly substantial in view of our other commitments in the form of aid overseas.
Will the capital be inland?
Can my right hon. Friend say how the sum compares with the assistance that we gave on the occasion of the last hurricane, some four years ago? I know from my visit there that that sum was very welcome. Will my right hon. Friend accept the congratulations of at least one hon. Member upon having extracted this substantial sum from the Treasury for British Honduras?
I am afraid that I cannot say without notice exactly how the sums compare, but if my right hon. Friend would like to know, I will look up the figures and let him have them.
Is it proposed to put the new capital at the site 50 miles inland? If so, will my right hon. Friend encourage the use of the site? It is a very good one, and it would help to open up the country.
I do not think that final decisions have yet been reached on the exact new site, but we must get that done soon.
Ministry Of Works
Hyde Park (Statue)
asked the Minister of Works whether, in the interests of road safety, he will consider removing the statue sited in Hyde Park by the Duke of Edinburgh Gate.
No, Sir. The siting of the statue was agreed with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. I am considering in consultation with him whether the position of the traffic signals and stop lines can be improved.
Has my noble Friend used this gate recently? I can assure him that I was very nearly "written off" myself the other day. Is he aware that the plinth of the statue is vast, that it is high, and that it is quite impossible to see to the right when travelling eastwards? Admittedly, there are traffic lights, but, unfortunately, people jump traffic lights, and I was nearly jumped on myself the other day by a sports car. As, in the view of most people, this is not a beautiful statue, and as it would not deprive the British public of anything beautiful if he would consider moving it, will not my noble Friend reconsider the matter?
It is a bit hard to blame it on the statue when people want to jump the lights, but I think there is a point here. We may be able to help considerably by putting the stop line further forward, so that one can get beyond the plinth.
1A Kensington Palace
asked the Minister of Works why £7,000 has been provided for contingencies in his expenditure at 1A Kensington Palace; and how that figure was arrived at.
Estimates for major schemes of this nature normally include a contingency allowance. This figure was considered reasonable to cover the costs arising from defects in the building which would only come to light during the progress of the work.
Is the Minister aware that that does not seem to be a very scientific way of estimating, particularly in view of the stringencies which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is exerting on other Ministries? Does not the Minister think that this £7,000 would be much better spent on three or four of the families now homeless in London?
The point is that if nothing unforeseen comes about, it will not be used at all.
asked the Minister of Works what proportion of the total cost of all the work on 1A Kensington Palace is being met out of public funds.
Of the estimated cost of £85,000, £65,000 is to be met from Subhead C of the Royal Palaces Vote and £20,000 from funds at the disposal of the Sovereign from the Grant-in-Aid under Subhead A of the Vote. The cost of boilers, a boiler-house, kitchen equipment and some of the decorations and special fittings, not included in the total of £85,000, is to be met privately by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret.
Is it not the normal practice with historical buildings of this kind for the owner or occupant to pay half the cost? In view of the fact that the family which will occupy this build- ing is well able to pay that 50 per cent., why do not they do it?
This is not a comparable case.
Is it not the general policy of the Government that subsidised houses should not be occupied by people who can afford to buy houses of their own?
Is it not a fact that this is a Wren house, and that if there had been no occupant available at all, it would have had to be restored and kept in good condition because of its historical importance, and thus the whole cost would have fallen on the taxpayer?
Commonwealth Communications Cable
asked the Postmaster-General whether he has consulted the Commonwealth countries who are taking a direct interest in the laying of the Commonwealth communications cable regarding its date of completion: and, whether, in view of the progress being made in space satellite communications, it is intended to halt expenditure on this project.
Satellite communications offer great promise for the future, but there is still much development work to be done, and it will be some years before a commercial satellite communication system can be established. Commonwealth Governments have recently agreed to the provision, by 1966, of a submarine telephone cable system between Australia and South East Asia. The position will, of course, be fully reviewed as and when further extensions of the Commonwealth cable system come to be considered.
Am I to understand from that reply that by 1966 only half of the round-the-world cable will have been laid, at a cost of approximately £40 million, shared between the Commonwealth countries and the United Kingdom? Is the hon. Lady aware that by that time we shall have sattelite links between this country and the United States of America? In view of the fact that we shall have spent £40 million on half of it by 1966, and that it would take until 1970 to complete the rest, is it not worth considering that we should halt the expenditure on the project at that point?
I think that this money is very well spent. The recent Commonwealth Communications Conference agreed that underground cables should be complementary to the sattelite system. It recommended that research and development work in the submarine cable field should be continued. The volume of world-wide inter-continental traffic is expected to increase very rapidly during the next decade, and it is expected that existing and planned submarine telephone cables will be fully utilised.
Would not my hon. Friend agree that this is a matter which is causing concern and disquiet on both sides of the House, and that very many people take the view that this expenditure will prove to have been completely redundant when the sattelite system becomes effective?
We will keep this matter under consideration, but we do not accept that point of view. We think that these systems will be complementary for some time to come.
Civil Defence (Dispersal Plans)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what policy he has now adopted for the evacuation of mothers and children from towns and cities in the event of war; and to what parts of the country they will be sent.
The Government's policy is that dispersal plans should be prepared in case they were needed in an emergency. Under the dispersal scheme for England and Wales, the reception areas are in parts of west England, south-east England and Wales.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary ask his right hon. Friend to let the House have an intelligible statement about what his policy is? Is he aware that at present there is great confusion and anxiety in the minds both of local authorities and of the general public because of the vague statements which the Government make?
If the right hon. Gentleman looks at Circular 15 of 1962 issued on 28th March, he will see a general statement of policy, which is pretty clear. We are considering with the local authority associations a further circular on the detailed arrangements which they may be called upon to make.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have looked at that circular and find it most unsatisfactory?
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will find the next one more satisfactory.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will now take steps to discontinue the rating privileges given to agriculture by the Local Government Act, 1929, in view of the fact that the parallel privileges given to industry by the same Act will soon be removed.
Will my hon. Friend, in the interests of fair play, reconsider this question in 1963?
Apart from any question of the merits, it would be quite impossible to do anything before 1968, because of the lack of any evidence of existing values in respect of agricultural properties.
Improvement Grants, Stoke-On-Trent
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs how many houses in Stoke-on-Trent have received improvement grants since 25th November, 1961; and how many of these were made to owner-occupiers.
Between 1st December, 1961, and 31st March, 1962, grants for the improvement of 113 private houses in Stoke-on-Trent were approved, of which 95 were to owner-occupiers.
Does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the very small number of houses improved by landlords means that the Ministry must again consider how much compulsion can be put on these people to make them take advantage of these grants so that these houses may be prevented from becoming slums in the future?
In regard to compulsory powers, I can add nothing to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on 1st May. We are certainly anxious that the improvement grants should be used by landlords, and, indeed, the percentage is rising.
Improvement Grants, Salford
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs how many houses in Salford have received improvement grants since 25th November, 1961; and how many of these were made to owner-occupiers.
Between 1st December, 1961, and 31st March, 1962, grants for the improvement of 87 private houses were approved, of which 10 were to owner-occupiers.
Is not that a miserable response for a city in which five out of every ten houses have no baths? Is it not extraordinary that, despite the still more generous grants introduced for landlords in November, the figure, nationally, has actually declined since then? In view of the failure of financial inducements and publicity, how long will it be before the Minister uses the compulsory method which he said he did not rule out?
At least, the hon. Gentleman cannot complain that in Salford too high a proportion of the grants have gone to owner-occupiers. We certainly want to see these improvement grants fully utilised. In the past three years, the numbers have risen from about 30,000 to 120,000 a year.
Houses And Flats
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will give an estimate of the number of new houses and flats built for sale, which were completed six months ago or over, and still remain unsold and untenanted.
My right hon. Friend has no material on which to base an estimate.
Surely, the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend could have asked the local authorities for this information? Is not this a challenge to the Government, inasmuch as there must be thousands of houses and flats which have been built but which remain unsold and unoccupied, and, at the same time, hundreds of thousands of people living in indescribable and indefensible conditions? Why does he not do something about it, so that the needs of the people are married to the labour force and the materials that are available?
I do not think it would be reasonable to ask local authorities to walk round their towns and cities collecting statistics of that kind. Generally, one finds there is a high demand for new houses and flats built for owner-occupation.
Local Authority Houses (Rents)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what was the average rent, inclusive of rates, of two-and three-bedroomed council houses in 1951 and 1961, respectively.
The average rent received for local authorities' dwellings in England and Wales in 1960–61 was approximately 21s. exclusive of rates.I regret that we have not the information to give separate figures for two-and three-bedroomed houses or a represesentative figure for 1950–51.
Is it not possible that the Minister was not very anxious to find the information I was seeking because it would have been such an embarrassment to his Government?
Since 1951, as the hon. Member will appreciate, we have greatly improved the statistics at our disposal.
Sport (Wolfenden Committee's Report)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on his discussions about the Wolfenden Report on Sport.
As the Answer is rather long, I propose, with permission, to answer this Question at the end of Questions.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the amount of post-war credits repaid up to the latest convenient date; and what is the amount still unpaid.
At 28th April, 1962, about £415 million had been paid and about £325 million was outstanding. Both these figures relate to the amount of credit originally created and they include no element of interest.
Will the Financial Secretary ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer again to consider this matter, for many people have now been waiting nearly twenty years for repayment of their postwar credits?
I quite agree about the importance of this matter. My feeling is that in 1960 we probably went as far as we could in isolating hardship categories. I am bound to say that experience in dealing with hon. Members' correspondence convinces me that that is so. My right hon. and learned Friend did not feel that he would be justified in increasing the rate of payment of these credits this year, but of course we recognise that this is an obligation to be met.
Will my hon. Friend consider converting these credits into Premium Bonds?
That is another suggestion of which my right hon. and learned Friend will take note. I think that there are no satisfactory dodges for getting round this problem. It is a matter of some difficulty, because it has not been easy since the war to take a measure which stimulates the rate of consumption at home, but we should never forget that this is an obligation for the whole nation.
Royal Society (Research Committee's Report)
asked the Minister of Education whether he accepts the recommendations of the report made by the ad hoc biological research committee to the Council of the Royal Society and presented by that Council to the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy in November, 1961, so far as those recommendations relate to schools; in particular, whether he accepts recommendation No. 2 on page 21 of the printed report: and what progress has been made in the implementation of that recommendation.
I understand that this report was prepared at the request of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy and it is now under consideration by that body. I am not yet in a position to comment on its recommendations.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was a note of urgency about the recommendations and that action was recommended by the proper authorities, which I think include the right hon. Gentleman himself? How long is he going to wait?
I have to wait until the Council has advised my noble Friend the Minister for Science, who in turn will communicate with me.
Algerian Refugees (Temporary Accommodation)
The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:
To ask the Lord Privy Seal what was the response of Her Majesty's Government to the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the immediate supply of 15,000 tents as a first measure to organise the orderly return of the Algerian refugees now in Morocco and Tunisia.
Questions to the Prime Minister.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask your advice? I put down a Question yesterday about tents and the Minister replied:
That meant today. As I was precluded from asking a further Question yesterday, may I ask a supplementary question today?"I expect, however, to be in a position to add to this statement when I reply to a further Question on this subject tomorrow."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1962; Vol. 659, c. 11.]
Is the hon. Member referring to Question No. 34?
No, Sir, to Question No. 35.
The hon. Member for Gateshead, West (Mr. Randall) is not here to ask that Question.
Prime Minister, President Kennedy And Prime Minister Of Canada (Talks)
asked the Prime Minister, if he will make a statement on his talks with President Kennedy and Mr. Diefenbaker; and to what extent he discussed the effects of Great Brtain joining the Common Market on the Atlantic Alliance, the Commonwealth and the prospects of the general lowering of tariff barriers.
asked the Prime Minister if, in his talks with Mr. Diefenbaker, he discussed the increase in Canadian imports from the United Kingdom during the period that Mr. Diefenbaker has been Prime Minister; and whether he discussed ways in which Anglo-Canadian trade can be further increased.
asked the Prime Minister what representations he made on behalf of the shipping industry to President Kennedy during his recent visit to the United States of America; and what were the results.
asked the Prime Minister what consultations he had with President Kennedy during his recent visit on the admission of China to the United Nations.
asked the Prime Minister what further action is proposed following his talk with President Kennedy on the difficulties confronting British shipping.
I would refer right hon. and hon. Members to the replies which I gave on 3rd May to Questions about my talks with President Kennedy and Mr. Diefenbaker.
Is the Prime Minister aware that now that the House has had an opportunity of studying the two communiqués, it is quite obvious that they do not go beyond bland platitudes? Are not the House and the country entitled to more than this? Is he aware of the great concern in the country that Britain will be pushed into the Common Market before the public, and, indeed, the House of Commons, have had an opportunity adequately to consider the terms and conditions agreed? Will he at least indicate what were the details of those terms and conditions discussed in America?
No, Sir. I think the position about the Common Market negotiations is quite clear. Those negotiations are proceeding. We hope that they may be concluded in the course of the summer in which case, of course, the Government will be in a position to put their policy before the House of Commons.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that Mr. McEwen, Deputy Australian Prime Minister, has stated that in his talks in Washington he was unable to obtain from the Americans an assurance that they were not working towards the disappearance of Imperial Preference? May I ask if my right hon. Friend was more successful in obtaining such an assurance in his talks in Washington?
I put, of course, the British point of view and as a result of this negotiation we shall see where we get to.
As far as shipping matters are concerned, can my right hon. Friend agree that he and the Government regard British shipping as the economic jugular vein of this country which must not be tampered with, and must not be allowed to be tampered with, by any other country? Will he not agree that what has transpired from his conversations with President Kennedy appears to be remarkably unfortunate for British shipping? Will he take it—I suspect from both sides of the House—that there would be a general consensus of opinion that if the Government wish to take enabling powers to enable them to retaliate against any particular measure taken by the Americans, this would be welcomed?
Of course, the position is a serious one and, as I told the House, we are continuing to press our views as strongly as possible upon the American Administration.
When the right hon. Gentleman was talking to President Kennedy did he not urge upon him to follow the wise course of the British Government and agree to the admission of China to the United Nations? Did he fail to do so because of the fact that it would appear that our military policies, our shipping policies, our trading policies are now becoming like our international policies, subordinate to the general policy of the United States?
No, Sir. I would not have thought that was true at all. We try as allies to co-ordinate our policies wherever possible. It is clear that our trading policies with China are different from those followed by the American Administration.
On this shipping matter, will the Prime Minister exclude from his mind any suggestion about retaliation, however tempting it may be, because of the dangerous repercussions which might flow from it? Is it not obvious now that, while he is under pressure from hon. Members on both sides of this House and shipping interests in the country, equally President Kennedy is under pressure the other way from interests in the United States? As it is obvious that both the right hon. Gentleman and President Kennedy can- not resolve this problem, would he suggest to the British Chamber of Shipping that it might now propose to enter into negotiations with the American maritime interests to try to solve the problem?
I think the right hon. Member has stated very fairly what are the many considerations we all have to keep in mind. The very high position of British shipping in the world makes any form of retaliation much more dangerous than if it held a less strong position, but in regard to trying to accommodate these questions, we shall use every means, both official and unofficial, for the purpose.
Is my right hon. Friend aware how very welcome it was to many people in this country that the shipping problem was evidently so prominent in his mind, despite the existence of many others? Would he agree that it is very unlikely that this extremely complicated problem can be solved by anything other than at inter-governmental level? Could he do something to secure the co-operation of other maritime nations to put the Americans in their place and make them play fairer than this, because they are guilty of sharp practice?
I think we should be careful how we use those words, but we try to co-ordinate our activities with those of other maritime countries.
May I take it that the Prime Minister's discussions with President Kennedy on shipping made particular reference to the demand of the United States Shipping Commission that British shippers should produce documents to the Commission? Can he tell us what advice the British Government are giving to the shipping companies in this matter?
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has already dealt with the second part of the question. On the first part, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the complications of the American constitutional setup are such that these matters are not wholly within the responsibility of the United States Administration, although its good offices may be of the greatest value to us.
Government Information Services
asked the Prime Minister if he will now appoint a Minister of Cabinet rank to co-ordinate the Government's information services.
I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which I gave him on 13th February.
Is the Prime Minister aware that there are now four Ministers, namely, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Secretary for Technical Co-operation, and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, who are responsible for the co-ordination of information services? Can he say why this is and whether it is one reason for the cut in our expenditure overseas this year?
It seems a very reasonable division. The Secretary for Technical Co-operation deals with foreign overseas information services and the other Ministers with home services. There is no doubt that questions of co-ordination sometimes introduce rather delicate problems.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make a statement on the steps taken to limit the concentration of radioactive fall-out from the present United States series of tests and the estimates which have been made of the yield of radioactive fall-out in repect of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics tests of last September and October and the present United States series of tests.
Q13 and Q18.
asked the Prime Minister (1) what information he has received about radioactive fall-out in this country as a result of the recent Russian nuclear test;(2) what information he has received about radioactive fall-out in this country likely to result from the present series of United States nuclear tests.
asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the deposit up to date of fall-out in Great Britain from the Russia nuclear test last autumn; and what future level is anticipated.
asked the Prime Minister what scientific advice he has received on the possible effects of the present series of nuclear tests on Christmas Island.
This series of Questions deals with the natural concern lest the fall-out from the American tests should add to the existing anxiety due to the fall-out from the last series of Russian tests. It may be convenient for the Houe if I summarise the position as follows.Fall-out is divided into two categories —the immediate fall-out that follows within a week or two of atmospheric tests, and the long-term fall-out which is spread over a much greater period. After the Russian tests we had certain anxieties about possible harm due to iodine and we made special provisions in case this should reach an unacceptable degree. It proved, however, unnecessary to enforce these precautions. This fallout has now passed away. With regard to the long-term strontium fall-out from the Russian tests, this is still persisting but it is well below the level recorded in 1959 which was the comparable period when fall-out from the tests conducted by all nuclear Powers in the previous year became effective. There is therefore no immediate anxiety about this. With regard to the American atmospheric tests of this character, the immediate short-term fall-out will be very small and is likely to disperse in the same way as the fall-out from the Russian tests. With regard to the longer term effects, there is no reason to suppose that it will reach any serious level. As the President has already said precautions have been taken to reduce this to the minimum and it will be less than 1/50th of the difference which can be experienced as a result of variations in natural radioactivity simply by living in different parts of the United States.
We are told that the present American series of tests will be followed by another Soviet series of tests, and meanwhile the test ban conference in Geneva continues in a state of deadlock. Will not the Prime Minister make every effort to bring about an early meeting between President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev with a view to ending the suicidal race in the development of nuclear weapons?
There are two quite separate questions. One is the danger from fall-out, which I have tried to put into perspective, and the other is the importance of trying to bring about an acceptable agreement among the Great Powers to cease these tests altogether.
Do net the A.E.C. figures published this morning show that the full-out level in Britain today is thirty times what it was last May? If the Russian tests were wrong, as they certainly were, how can the American tests be right? If the tit-for-tat tests are likely to continue, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) says, should not the Prime Minister give a lead to the world by contracting out, certainly for British territory such as Christmas Island?
Again, there are two quite separate questions. From the figures which I have given to the House and the advice which has been given to me, I do not think that there is any serious concern about the actual effect of either the short-term iodine results or the longer-term strontium particles which remain in the atmosphere. On the larger question, I do not accept the argument of tit-for-tat tests. President Kennedy and I made it quite clear in November that we would not enter into a contest of that kind. The only justification—and I believe it to be a real justification—for the tests now being conducted is that they are necessary to confirm the strength of the British-American deterrent.
May I ask the Prime Minister, on the specific point concerning the high-altitude tests, about the scientific advice which he has received? Is he aware that from all that is known of the consequences of the Argus series of tests a few years ago and from the great concern being expressed by responsible scientists in this country about the possible effects of the high-altitude tests, there is a grave onus on the military scientists, both in America and this country, to prove that there are not involved the dangers to scientific research and the world generally which it is believed may be involved? Will he therefore ask that the high-altitude tests should not take place until we have had the kind of reassurance which we need?
That supplementary question inevitably anticipates Question No. Q7, which we have not yet reached.
If it is the wish of the House, I could proceed to the next series of Questions which deal with high altitude as opposed to ordinary atmospheric tests.
On a point of order. I understood that the Prime Minister asked permission to answer my Question, Question No. Q21, with this series.
I thought that the hon. Lady's supplementary question inevitably anticipated another Question which we have not yet reached.
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House, without prejudice to the rights of hon. Members whose Questions have already been answered, if the Prime Minister were to answer the other series of Questions on the high-altitude tests, and then we could then have supplementary questions on both series of Questions together.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. Let us try. Mr. Driberg.
Further to that point of order. In order to prevent any confusion, will you, Mr. Speaker, now enumerate the further Questions which are to be answered?
No. I called Mr. Driberg.
asked the Prime Minister if he was informed by the President of the United States of the impending high-altitude nuclear tests; and if, in view of the risk that such tests may seriously interfere with important current research by astronomers and geophysicists, he will request the President to cancel these tests or to instruct the responsible United States experts, before proceeding further with preparations for them, to consult fully with international scientific bodies.
asked the Prime Minister what assurances he has received that the proposed explosion by the United States of America of a hydrogen bomb in space will not affect seriously the scientific study of the nature of the solar system.
Q14 and Q15.
asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he will represent to President Kennedy the concern felt at the possible effects of the planned American nuclear test in the upper atmosphere on scientific research;(2) what steps are being taken to protect the inhabitants of British islands in the Pacific from injury to their eyesight as a result of the planned American high-altitude nuclear test.
asked the Prime Minister if he will urge President Kennedy to abandon further atmospheric and stratospheric nuclear explosions over the Pacific Ocean because of their dangerous effects on scientific experiments proceeding in that area.
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the danger to the eyesight of people in various parts of the British Commonwealth from the nuclear tests which the United States is proposing to conduct at high altitudes, what arrangements have been made for advance notice to be given to the world of the exact timing of these tests.
asked the Prime Minister, in view of the damage that would be caused to the interests of scientific research into the upper atmosphere and stratosphere, if he will withhold the use of Christmas Island for the American explosion of nuclear weapons at heights of around 500 miles.
asked the Prime Minister what estimates have been made as to the yield of radioactive fall-out consequent upon the high altitude tests which are to be conducted by the United States Government; and if he will make a statement.
These Questions deal with the high-altitude tests which the United States authorities propose to make from Johnston Island. On this I would make the following comments.First, this is an experiment not connected with the agreement for the use of Christmas Island but wholly within United States control. The British Government and our scientists have, however, been kept fully informed throughout. Secondly, from the point of view of health the fall-out from these very high-altitude tests is negligible. I understand that the Atomic Energy Commission has announced that public notice of the timing of high-altitude tests will be given about four days in advance. The responsibility for safety in the immediate area of the tests is a matter for the United States authorities. The nearest British territory is over 1,000 miles away and I am informed that there is no danger of damage to the eyes at this distance. Thirdly, the purpose of this experiment is of the greatest importance from the point of view of defence for it is intended to find out how radio, radar and other communications systems, on which all defence depends, might be temporarily put out of action by explosions of this kind. Since the whole defensive system of the West depends largely upon a highly developed method of intercommunication it will be seen that this matter is of the greatest significance to our defence. Fourthly, there is the argument that interference with the natural radiation belts which surround the world at these high altitudes will upset proper scientific investigation of their character and purpose. On the last point, I would only say that there are two views. The original discoverer of these belts, Dr. Van Allen, has declared that, in his view, from the purely scientific aspect, it would be an interesting experiment to introduce a disturbance into their natural features in order to see how they react. Other scientists feel that they would prefer to study them a little longer in their natural form before any artificial introduction is made into their natural life. Into this high altitude of thought I would hesitate to make any personal exploration but I would sum up in this way. The responsibility for these tests is solely on the United States Government; the fall-out will be negligible; the experiment is of the greatest importance from the defence point of view; and what will be the result from the scientific point of view is indeterminate but at any rate interesting.
Since the Prime Minister mentions defence as a justification for these tests, does he recall that at Geneva recently Her Majesty's Government supported the Canadian proposal that outer space should not be used for military purposes? Why has he now departed from that view? Secondly, has he seen the very strong protest by Sir Bernard Lovell and other eminent British scientists? Even if this matter is the exclusive responsibility of the United States Government, since it affects the whole world, including Britain and the Commonwealth, can the Prime Minister do nothing to restrain this cosmic madness?
In reply to the first point, if there were complete agreement to abolish all tests, of course these, like all others, would come to an end. That would be one of the beneficial results of agreement. On the second point, however, as long as this is an important defence question—and it is a very important one—I think it right that the United States Government should make it. With regard to the purely scientific question, which is a matter very much of dispute, one can at least comfort oneself that until a very short time ago, nobody knew that the Van Allen Belts existed. If they should now be temporarily disturbed, I do not think that great harm will come to the world.
Can the Prime Minister say whether the scientists are able to give any precise indication of the effect upon the radiation belts of these tests? Can the scientists say with certainty that the explosion will not have consequences which may be harmful, not only to scientific research, but also to the wellbeing of the inhabitants of this planet? Instead of taking a frivolous attitude towards this deadly serious question, will the Prime Minister take steps to see that we do not have to be faced with this fearful shot in the dark?
The scientific point is a very complicated one and much disputed. As I have said, Dr. Van Allen, who discovered these belts, takes the view that this will be an interesting and not a damaging experiment from the purely scientific aspect. Of course, however, this experiment would not have been made had it not been for the important defence aspect of it. It is a great error to think that this is something absolutely novel. It is not the first high-altitude explosion which has been made and I think that in all the circumstances it would be not only wrong but futile for the British Government to try to urge that it should be withheld.
When the Prime Minister was discussing the question of high-altitude nuclear tests with President Kennedy, did the President of the United States inform him that America had secretly broken the atomic truce in March, 1959, by exploding a high-altitude nuclear device above the South Atlantic which, according to our scientists, had a serious disruptive effect upon the environment of the earth? Is the Prime Minister aware that our pure scientists, not the military ones, tell us now that the device to be exploded 500 miles above the Pacific will have an even more devastating effect than the one exploded in the South Atlantic?
These are very exaggerated statements. I took the opportunity yesterday afternoon to have as full a briefing as possible from the most distinguished British scientists.
Sir Bernard Lovell?
I can only assure the House that what I have tried to tell hon. Members is a fair picture of the meaning, purpose and likely result of a high-altitude test.
Is it not a fact that when the United States exploded a small nuclear device in space in 1958, the eyes of experimental rabbits were burned out at 350 miles away? Is it not also a fact, as the New York Times has pointed out, that scientists simply do not know what is the safe distance from the forthcoming explosion, which will be 1,000 times as great? Is not this fact ground enough in itself for the British Government to make urgent representations to the United States to stop these tests, whose consequences on the eyesight of innumerable people who may be caught unaware of the danger are unknown?
I am informed that that danger is minimal and that due notice will be given—and the distances are very great. I go back to saying that I regard this experiment, it having been explained to me, as one that is necessary. I think that anybody who knows on what basis the intercommunication system on which defence depends is now operated will regard this as an important and, indeed, vital experiment.
May I first apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House because in my Question I thought that the explosion was taking place from Christmas Island? I apologise for that mistake. Is the Prime Minister aware that all of us hope that his anticipations about the small effects of this explosion will prove true, but is there not a tremendous responsibility with the Prime Minister in this matter? Is it not an invasion of the unknown, which may not expand knowledge, but restrict it? Is it not a grave gamble with the health and life of millions of people? If the Prime Minister has any doubts whatever about it, ought he to take this responsibility?
I have tried to give the House as complete and accurate a picture as I can from the knowledge which is at my disposal.
In view of the great concern which has been shown by Sir Bernard Lovell, will the Prime Minister consider asking the President of the United States to give facilities to Professor Lovell and any other suitable astronomers to meet those scientists in the United States who are in charge of this operation? Many of us, on both sides of the House, are genuinely worried at Sir Bernard Lovell's reactions.
I am quite ready to take that into account and do what I can. I would, however, point out that Sir Bernard Lovell did not anticipate all these terrible results. What he said was that he thought it would put back studies of the radiation belts; in other words, he did not want them to be disturbed.
He said more than that.
Is the position that whilst there is a difference of opinion amongst the scientists as to whether the effects on cosmic communications and space exploration may be affected advan- tageously or disadvantageously, there is no disagreement whatever amongst the scientists that explosions out of the atmosphere are much less dangerous to humanity than explosions inside the atmosphere?
The hon. and learned Gentleman has summed it up completely.
First, will the Prime Minister say a little more about what appears to be the one danger to those of us who are living below the atmosphere—the flash from the explosion? Is this a serious danger? Has it been considered? What is the answer to those who express anxiety on that point? Secondly, can the Prime Minister say whether, apart from this, it is correct to say that these explosions in high altitudes will have no effect at all on humanity generally? Thirdly, will the Prime Minister seriously consider publishing as a White Paper a scientific account of the whole of this business, including the present state of affairs in respect of nuclear tests and fall-out?
And have a debate and a Division.
With regard to the first point, I am sure that there is no danger such as is feared. On the second point, about strontium and the rest, there is far less danger from this form of explosion than from any other. As for the third point, I will consider whether at a suitable moment some White Paper should be produced giving the results of these experiments, so far as it is possible to do so, having regard to the need for security.
Reverting to the defence aspect of these tests, I understand the Prime Minister to say that they may show that it is possible completely to knock out the early warning systems of the West and the East, and also to render second strike weapons useless? If so, does not this knock out the whole foundation for the doctrine of the deterrent?
It is very important, in any defence system, to know what counter-measures could in theory be brought against it.
When the Prime Minister considers issuing a statement on the scientific aspects of these high-altitude tests will he also arrange for a statement to be made giving the names of British scientists who agree with the view that these tests are harmless and should go ahead, together with their statement of opinion, so that they may be subjected to examination by such people of Professor Sir Bernard Lovell? Is it not quite evident from the Prime Minister's last reference to Sir Bernard that he cannot even have read what he had to say on this matter? Finally, as there is obvious difficulty in dealing with a matter of this nature by way of Question and Answer, will he arrange for a debate in the House so that the House can vote on it?
It is not the normal practice for the British Government or any Government to give the names of its scientific advisers. The Government must stand on their own decisions. As for the hon. Member's last point, the question of a debate does not rest with me. It is a matter for arrangement between the usual channels.
On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.
At the end of Questions—
Sport And Recreation (Increased Expenditure)
During the debate on economic matters on 26th July of last year, I said that authorisations and loan sanctions to local authorities for desirable but not essential matters would have to run at a lower level. I said that the Wolfenden Report on Sport and the Community was something which would have to wait in the then circumstances.In my Budget speech on 9th April, I said that I would start in a modest way to make good some of the deficiencies pointed out by that Report. I have, therefore, been examining the situation with my colleagues concerned. Public capital expenditure on facilities for sport and physical recreation, including youth clubs, community centres and village halls used partly for sport and physical recreation was £15·6 million in 1960–61 and £20·1 million in 1961–62. I estimate that expenditure in 1962–63 will be £26·4 million, of which about £11 million will be in connection with the school building programme. Four million pounds of this total is estimated expenditure of this nature for the Youth Service in 1962–63, compared with less than £1 million last year. So far as current public expenditure is concerned, there has also been an increase in expenditure: for example, the 1962–63 Exchequer grant for current expenditure on social and physical training of youth in Great Britain is £1,058,000, compared with £895,000 in 1961–62. With regard to the Exchequer grants to national voluntary bodies under the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937, and other legislation, the estimate for the recurrent grant in 1962–63 is £230,000, and the estimate for help over capital projects £240,000. Against the background of these figures, I have examined the figures for starts in 1962–63 and following years. I find that the starts authorised in 1961–62 amounted to £22 million. Starts already sanctioned for 1962–63 amount to £26·5 million, of which, again, about £11 million will be in connection with the school building programme. I propose to increase that total to £27·5 million so that the starts in 1962–63 will, in fact, be £5½ million more than those in 1961–62. I have also agreed that schemes for major recreational projects by local authorities now being held up can be considered along with other public service investment. I am also authorising my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland to make grants from the Exchequer within a limit of an additional £100,000 a year for recurrent expenditure, to national voluntary organisations for the development of schemes for coaching and to help in the administration of sport; and I am also prepared to make available an additional £100,000 a year for capital expenditure by these voluntary bodies, in other words, an increase of £200,000 upon an existing figure of £470,000. The figures I have announced mark an advance on what was already an increasing programme for sporting and recreational facilities.