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Overseas Development

Volume 767: debated on Tuesday 2 July 1968

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asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether the conference to discuss the future finance of Swaziland will be held prior to the granting of independence on 6th September.

No, Sir. With the agreement of the Government of Swaziland, it is proposed to hold the conference in the autumn after independence but officials of my Department are having preliminary talks in Swaziland this month.

Is this not an unusual step to take? In view of the isolated situation of Swaziland, surely financial arrangements should be known before independence is granted.

This procedure has been followed in a number of recent cases. Aid this year to Swaziland will cover the immediate post-independence period, and talks on aid, which will take place in the autumn, will follow preparation of the development plan of the Swaziland Government for the period ahead.

National Export Agency


asked the Prime Minister whether he will co-ordinate the relevant work of the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office in order to establish a National Export Agency.

My hon. Friend will know of the Overseas Marketing Corporation the establishment of which was announced by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 2nd November last. If my hon. Friend has any other point in mind I would be happy to consider it.—[Vol. 753, c. 11–13.]

Would not a National Export Agency based directly on intelligence from commercial attaches throughout the world be invaluable for smaller British firms which cannot have exporting knowledge of every country?

This is why the Corporation, following the Denman Report, has been set up—to act as an overseas selling organisation for British goods with export potential whose manufacturers, for one reason or another, lack the knowledge or facilities needed. The reports from our overseas representatives are available to the organisation.

Does the Prime Minister not agree that our commercial attaches in most countries are doing a fine job in helping our exporters? Would not he further agree that what is needed is not a further agency like this but a reduction in direct taxation and the abolition of S.E.T. in order to give incentives to men to export?

The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question raises wider considerations, and I remind him that we are discussing the Finance Bill this week. But I agree with his tribute to our representatives, both in foreign countries and in Commonwealth countries. Their work is very useful to our manufacturers. I think that the new Corporation will help many small potential exporters. I have also been very impressed, in my visits to various parts of the country recently, by what chambers of commerce and other private enterprise organisations are doing to help our smaller exporters.



asked the Prime Minister whether, in the light of the last quarter's balance of payments, he will now report progress on devaluation in another television broadcast to the nation.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answers I gave to similar Questions on 5th March and 25th April, 1968.—[Vol. 760, c. 222–3; Vol. 763, c. 475–77.]

Since then much time has passed. In the present situation, with the balance of payments as it is, overseas debt mounting up, the unemployment trend, and two Cabinet resignations since devaluation, does not the nation in its anxiety deserve a massive explanation from the right hon. Gentleman on television?

I am not getting help from the hon. Gentleman who is so misleading in his presentation of facts and figures. I remind him that industrial production this April was five points higher than in April last year, that productivity is 5½ per cent. higher, and that our exports are up 15 per cent. by value and 7 per cent. by volume over the middle period of last year, representing an annual rate of 10 per cent. compared. with the average over the last ten years of a 3 per cent. increase.

Will my right hon. Friend take serious note of the point of view of hon. Members on this side who recognise that July is a sticky month in more ways than one—including Sunday's resignation? Will he accept that there would be tremendous support for him if he gave a state of the nation broadcast, because he still has many friends— [Interruption.]

I repeat that the Prime Minister still has many friends inside and outside this House. The country deserves an explanation of what is going on.

In the light of the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman, can he say whether the rise in prices since devaluation is yet enough to carry out the Government's policy of restraining demand, especially imports?

The full effects of the Budget on restraining demand have not yet been felt. The latest figures for retail sales were published this morning. The House was given the figures for prices yesterday. They include the effects of the Budget, which it was known would have an effect on price levels. However, there is some evidence that food prices this year have not risen as much as many of us, including myself, would have expected at the time of devaluation.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Conservative Party are willing to go to any lengths to discredit the Government, even if it means doing serious and permanent damage to the economy? I am sure that the public would welcome a broadcast on television giving some of the true facts to the nation.

It is probably more important that we should all concentrate on the measures which we have been taking, including the very important measures for strengthening Britain's industry, from which we are now getting new and spectacular evidence almost every week, not only in export orders but in other ways, showing the greater robust strength of British industries that were far too long neglected.

Would not such a broadcast afford a melancholy example of the unpopular explaining the unacceptable to the unbelieving?

House Of Lords Reform (Legislation)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on Government intentions with regard to the reform of the Upper House.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the House on 20th June and to the Answers I gave to Questions on 25th June—[Vol. 766, c. 1314–28; Vol. 767, c. 236–8.]

Since the Prime Minister said then that legislation would be early, radical and comprehensive, would it be fair to interpret that as meaning that the Prime Minister does not know what to do and cannot make up his mind?

No. The hon. Member would be quite wrong to deduce that from it. The legislation will, in fact, be comprehensive, radical and early.

Can the Prime Minister say whether the legislation will be available and on the Statute Book earlier than could have been done by inter-party agreement?

The right hon. Gentleman knows that it was the effect of his own Front Bench that made inter-party agreement impossible. Very reasonable progress was being made, but the Leader of the Opposition thought that he saw a chance of taking political advantage and bungled it.

Is my right hon. Friend aware, and will he take note, that the Members of the other place are mutilating the Transport Bill as busily as they can? Will he see that the will of the people is carried out in order to get a public transport system for the country?

I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to comment on what is going on in another place during the passage of the Bill. We will see it in whatever form it emerges when it comes back to this House.

In considering the possibility of Members of the House of Lords being subject to some form of election, would the Prime Minister bear in mind that the method of election which is used to send Members here sends rather too many Members of certain parties and too few of others? Will he bear in mind the possibility of electoral reform in this direction and recall the attempts which a previous Labour Government made in 1930?

I have heard a large number of suggestions about another place, but I do not think that many people have seriously suggested electing the other place. As to the representation of one of the smaller parties in another place, the Leader of the Liberal Party will know that, contrary to the precedent set by my predecssors, it has been possible in the last three-and-a-half years to recommend a number of distinguished Liberals for service in another place.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the legislation will be sufficiently speedy to prevent there being a lame duck Session in 1970–71, when the Tory Peers will have a stranglehold over the measures which we were sent here to promote?

I am sure that that and all other relevant considerations will be borne in mind both in the timing and in the form.

National Health Service


asked the Prime Minister if he will co-ordinate the activities of the Lord President of the Council, the Minister of Health and the Minister for Social Security, with a view to the preparation of a declaration of policy for the National Health Service as and when economic conditions improve.

As to co-ordination, the House already knows that my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council is supervising the planning and timetable for amalgamation of the Ministries of Health and Social Security. As to the policies for the development of the National Health Service, these are kept under continuous review but no early statement is in prospect.

Will my right hon. Friend reaffirm that it remains not only his policy but the policy of Her Majesty's Government to restore the principle of free of payment at the time of need in the health services? Will he take steps by progressive stages to that end when the economic situation permits?

I will confirm— or reconfirm—what I said to my hon. Friend, which was not the exact words which he has just used: that when the economic situation permits more expenditure on the National Health Service, we shall consider that proposal against other high priorities in the matter of the Health Service. No decision has been taken. It is certainly premature at this stage to feel that we are in a position to begin thinking about it.

Will the Prime Minister meanwhile tell the House who speaks in the Cabinet on health and social security matters? Is it the Lord President of the Council, or are Departmental Ministers called in?

It is not usual to discuss Cabinet arrangements, but the hon. Member might like to know—I think that he does know—that at the present time, as always in the past, those Ministers are present whenever there is anything directly or even indirectly affecting their Departments, and, of course, they have full rights of speaking.

Whatever the method of co-ordination, will the Prime Minister confirm that it is his Government's intention at the earliest possible moment to return to the principle of a free Health Service?

I have already answered that in relation to the question from my hon. Friend. I have said that when more money is available—and it would be foolish at this stage to say that that is in sight at the present time— for the Health Service, we shall consider various priority claims for that expenditure. We are, of course, carrying out a record hospital building programme of nearly double the rate which we inherited. There are, however, many hon. Members who would feel that it should be stepped up further before other things were considered.



asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the latest situation in Rhodesia in the light of action taken by the British representative at the United Nations.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answers I gave to Questions on 27th June.—[Vol. 767, c. 807–13.]

Has not the Prime Minister indicated that agreement is now unlikely? If that is so, will he estimate the continuing damage thus deliberately, through sanctions, clamped on the British economy? Will he also represent to fellow members of the United Nations that if within three or six months others do not bear their fair burden this country cannot continue along this course?

Hon. Members opposite have recently voted against the proposition that we should bear a fair burden: they opposed the United Nations Security Council resolution. They cannot have it both ways on this question.

In reply to the earlier part of the question, I did not say that an agreement was unlikely, nor do I consider that. I said that we must see a fairly radical change of attitude about the six principles on the part of Rhodesian leaders who would have the power to deliver an agreement— not merely to make it but, after what happened on "Tiger", to deliver afterwards.

Bearing in mind that sanctions have been applied for a considerable time, can my right hon. Friend give his estimate of the length of time that it will now take to bring the Rhodesians to heel in the light of the very welcome imposition of the mandatory sanctions?

No, Sir, I do not think that it would be possible now to make an estimate about that. It is very well recognised that in Rhodesia there is growing pressure for a reasonable settlement as a result of the sanctions and the fears of the latest developments, but I would like to see that translated into a genuine acceptance of the six principles and of a constitutional settlement which gives effect to them.

Will the Prime Minister say what action he is taking in regard to Zambia, which protests most loudly about British behaviour yet continues to trade on the greatest scale of any country in Africa with her neighbour Rhodesia?

The hon. Member must realise that there has been a very large cut in Zambian purchases from Rhodesia, even though at one time they were almost an integrated economic community in very many respects. Zambia is still importing some essential goods from Rhodesia, but many other goods have been cut out. The United Nations specially recognised the problem of landlocked countries such as Zambia and countries contiguous to Rhodesia whose economies in the past have been very closely integrated.



asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that an adverse figure was recorded in the balance of payments returns for June 1968, he will reconsider his decision not to set up a separate Department for Tourism.

If my hon. Friend is concerned with the effect of tourism on the balance of payments he will be glad to know that the number of foreign visitors arriving in the United Kingdom in the first four months of 1968 was 18 per cent. higher than in the corresponding period of 1967. As to a Department of Tourism, my view is still as I expressed it in reply to a Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) on 29th February.—[Vol. 759, c. 414.]

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is precisely for this reason that the necessity to appoint a Ministry of Tourism arises and, to take advantage of this rapidly expanding industry, it is essential that it be placed under the control of one Minister?

I think that the most satisfactory solution is the present position where the President of the Board of Trade and his Minister of State are directly responsible not only for tourism, but also for overseas travel both by sea and by air. I think that this is a much more helpful way of encouraging tourism. As I say, the results so far this year have been extremely encouraging.

Will the Prime Minister accept, in the context of our balance of payments, that the first essential for the restoration of the national credit is that he should resign?

No, Sir, and I pray that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will not either.

Will my right hon. Fiend avail himself of this opportunity to inform the House that if we solve our balance of payments problem by any means we are creating a balance of payments problem for someone else and they will probably take the same opportunity to rid themselves of the encumbrance?

I think that, in a global sense, my hon. Friend is no doubt expressing a great economic truth. It is the job if this Government to look after our own interests.

If, according to his priorities, the Prime Minister thinks it desirable to have a Minister looking after sport, is it not far more desirable to have a Minister looking after tourism in view of our balance of payments situation?

My hon. Friend in the Department of Education and Science has other responsibilities besides sport. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the Minister of State, Board of Trade, is employed virtually full-time on the related questions of tourism, civil aviation and shipping. From my own experience—and the right hon. Gentleman who had experience of responsibility for these matters will probably confirm— I think that this is probably the best arrangement in order to maximise our tourist earnings and the number of people coming to this country.

Several Hon. Members rose——


With permission, I will now answer Questions Nos. 7, 8, 12, 16, 21, 22, 24 and 25 together.

Since I made my statement in the House on 26th June, after the return of my noble Friend Lord Shepherd from Nigeria, we have taken the following action to aid a settlement of this unhappy war.

At our request, Mr. Arnold Smith has taken steps to convey to the Biafran authorities that in the light of my noble Friend's discussions in Lagos, the opening of direct informal discussions between the two parties in London with a view to the reconvening of the Kampala peace talks are, in our view, possible and could be productive.

In addition to Mr. Smith's action, Lord Shepherd has spoken yesterday to Mr. Kogbara, who was associated with Sir Louis Mbanefo in his earlier talks and urged upon him the need for a representative of Colonel Ojukwu to come to London as soon as possible in pursuance of the undertaking given by Sir Louis.

I have accordingly read with regret— which I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House will share—the reports of Colonel Ojukwu's speech on Sunday at Owerri. I hope that this speech does not mean that he has turned his back on the attempt to secure a return to the negotiating table: in that event, the responsibility he would incur would be grave indeed.

On the question of our arms policy, I have nothing to add to what I said in the House on 26th June (OFFICIAL REPORT, cols. 444–453). But I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to tell the House of our attitude if, following upon a cease-fire in Nigeria, the two parties to the conflict were to request an external observer force and were to ask for British participation in it. In that event, Her Majesty's Government would be ready to contribute up to one battalion with appropriate support, for a period of up to six months, to a Commonwealth force on the understanding that other Commonwealth countries also agreed to take part on a suitable scale and that such conditions were agreed upon as would permit the force to carry out its duties effectively.

Regarding relief, I promised on 26th June to make a further statement on this subject. Subject to parliamentary approval, I can now say that in addition to the £20,000 which we have already given to the Red Cross, Her Majesty's Government will now make available a further sum of up to £250,000 for humanitarian relief in the war-stricken areas of Nigeria, including the Ibo areas. Parliament will be asked in due course to approve a Supplementary Estimate. In the meantime, an advance will if necessary be sought from the Civil Contingencies Fund. The intention is that this relief aid should be used as flexibly as possible in order to make the greatest contribution to the relief of suffering, hardship and malnutrition.

To ensure that the money is spent in the most effective way, expert advice and on the spot discussion with local authorities and relief bodies concerned will be necessary. We are, therefore, arranging, given the necessary co-operation of both sides, for a high-powered relief advisory team to go out to Nigeria as a matter of urgency in order to assess the forms which our humanitarian help should take.

I am glad to be able to announce that Lord Hunt has accepted the invitation of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to lead the relief team to Nigeria and to make recommendations. Sir Colin Thornley, Director-General of the Save the Children Fund, and Mr. A. B. Hodgson, Deputy Director-General of the British Red Cross Society, have agreed to accompany Lord Hunt on this mission.

I am sure that the whole House will join with me in expressing our thanks to Lord Hunt and Sir Colin Thornley and Mr. Hodgson for agreeing to undertake this arduous but vital task.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that everyone in the House and in the country will be very pleased about the steps that he has just announced to try to give aid—food and medical supplies—to millions of people in need in Biafra?

Is my right hon. Friend also aware that many people here are outraged that arms supplies continue to be sold to the Nigerian Federal Government while there are millions of people starving and near to starvation in Biafra? Will the Government look again urgently at the question of arms supplies to the Nigerian Federal forces?

I think that the important aspect is to bring about a cease-fire. I think that Her Majesty's Government have had some influence concerning the progress that has so far been made. Under these circumstances, I do not see any reason to change the position that was adopted by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary when this matter was fully debated in the House a week or two ago.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the next two weeks are absolutely critical, because if supplies of food and medicines, at present sitting in Fernando Po and Lagos, are not got in by air, thousands of children will die? Has my right hon. Friend been able to use his influence to get the Federal Government to agree to Oxfam operating from Fernando Po a Hercules aircraft, which is available, and for which they are prepared to pay, which later this week could be flying in 100 tons a day?

I understand that discussions are proceeding between the International Red Cross, Oxfam, the Ibo authorities in the East and the Federal Government in Lagos about the urgent matter that my hon. Friend has raised. From what I have been able to see of the appalling position around the fighting line in Nigeria, I think that there is a need for an emergency airlift. However, it is equally important to realise that if the human need is to be met in these areas the necessary volume of supplies can only be brought in by overland routes. The difficulty in getting agreement to that comes not from Lagos—they have given their agreement readily to these arrangements —but from the authorities in the Ibo areas.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that only within the last few days Biafra was described as a modern Belsen where 3,000 children have died from starvation and disease? While we welcome the additional £250,000 aid, will my right hon. Friend see to it that the amount is substantially stepped up to make our contribution towards alleviating any further suffering by the people of Biafra?

I think that £250,000 is a very substantial contribution towards dealing with this problem. It is not directly a British responsibility; it is an International problem. I hope that the example set by Her Majesty's Government will be followed by some other countries.

Is the Government's argument against stopping arms supplies the allegation that it gives us influence? Since the slaughter and starvation are continuing, it is clearly not giving us influence. Why cannot the Minister listen to the obvious feeling throughout the House and the nation that the Government should stop, jointly and individually, this traffic in arms?

I think that if my hon. Friend with his usual fairness, studies what I have said he will see some evidence in the initiative that we have taken, and the results that we have obtained, of the kind of influence that we have with the Federal Government of Nigeria which is, after all, a major fellow Commonwealth Government. I am sure that at the moment very little slaughter is taking place. It is starvation which is of immediate concern, and the obstacle to getting something done about it is that the proposals made by the Federal Government to pull back their troops and have a kind of corridor of mercy have so far been obstructed by the authorities in the Ibo region.

Having had lunch with a Member of Parliament of the Eastern Region who almost alone out of 300 people survived a massacre by the Ibos, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he agrees that atrocities have been committed by both sides? Although many of us have sympathy for the Ibo people, now that it looks as though their food and lives can be safeguarded internationally is not there some way of overcoming the suicidal wishes of their leaders and appealling to the Ibo people to come to a conference?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I am sure that he is right. A civil war is one of the greatest tragedies that can happen, and a civil war of this character has meant that there have been atrocities on both sides. I hope that Colonel Ojukwu will respond to the appeal made by the hon. Gentleman and send somebody to the conference table. We could get these talks started immediately. They could bring about a cease-fire, and also be of vital importance in setting international agreement about a real international effort to alleviate the suffering and hardship that is going on.

The right hon. Gentleman has made some announcements this afternoon which I think the House will welcome, but they are in the rather longer term. So is the organisation of supplies over the land route. Is not the essential factor an assurance from Colonel Gowon that he will allow an airlift from Fernando Po? Cannot he ask Colonel Gowon to give an assurance that there is no possible obstacle in the way of that being done? I should have thought that that was the first thing to do.

About an hour before coming to the House I heard from Lagos that the problem raised by the right hon. Gentleman was under active discussion in Lagos between the Federal Government and the International Red Cross about the means of delivering supplies to the rebel areas. An emergency airlift is one possibility which the Federal Government have not ruled out.

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the detailed report in this morning's Scotsman in which the International Red Cross said that a cease-fire is essential in Nigeria if the Ibo people are to return to their villages and produce food themselves? Can the right hon. Gentleman say that we are contributing to a cease-fire if we and other nations of the world indiscriminately pour arms into the country?

I studied the report in the Scotsman this morning, and was very much impressed by the account it gave of the human suffering, as one has been by so many reports coming out of these areas. But it is untrue to say that the British Government are indiscriminately pouring in arms. The arms which we provide for the Federal Government are under careful scrutiny and control all the time. The fighting is not taking place on any scale at the moment, as a result of self-restraint exercised by the Federal Government. I am sure that the important thing for us all to concentrate on is to persuade the Ibo authorities to do two things. First, to come and talk around the conference table, and, secondly, to respond to the offer to pull back the fighting men and thus create a corridor of mercy and get supplies moving on an adequate scale to deal with the problem.

Will my right hon. Friend be more precise about the observer force which he said the Government are ready to promise? Will it be armed?

Some contingency planning has been going on for some time about the possibility of this kind of Commonwealth force, but I think that my hon. and learned Friend will understand that it is impossible to make very much progress until we are rather closer to knowing how many people will be willing to participate, and in what circumstances. Her Majesty's Government thought it right to take the initiative in this matter and give the kind of lead that we have sought to give this afternoon, and we hope that it will meet with some response.

While the House welcomes the right hon. Gentleman's statement, I think that many of us feel that its speed is not being met by the right hon. Gentleman's proposals. There is essentially a matter of speed in these things. Will he consider again the idea of making a Royal Air Force detachment available to the International Red Cross? It is only by air that we can get supplies m quickly enough.

Speed is of the essence in our proposal for a relief mission. I hope that, with the necessary co-operation in Nigeria, Lord Hunt and his colleagues will be there at the end of this week. I think that we must await the report which they will bring back, with a proper sense of urgency, to enable us to decide, among other things, what is the best transport method of meeting these needs. In the meantime, I am in no doubt that there is a need for an emergency airlift as a temporary measure, but I hope that the House will accept that if supplies are to be provided on an adequate scale they must go in by overland routes.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the Ibos are not cooperating this is probably because we are failing to show our moral responsibility in this crisis? How can they possibly place reliance on us when we are putting supplies into the hands of their enemies? I know the difficulties confronting the Government, but is it not possible to stop supplies even for two or three weeks while these negotiations are going on, to give the Ibos some feeling of security in this matter?

I think that giving the Ibos a feeling of security is a vital element in this whole situation. It is for this reason that we have given the backing we have to the idea of a Commonwealth force. I think that this kind of international force will give the Ibos a longer term sense of security. I hope that on the basis of being given that assurance they will be ready to come and negotiate flexibly around the table—I hope within the framework of a single Nigeria—arrangements for living at peace with their neighbours.

May I press the right hon. Gentleman to answer the crucial question? Is he aware that the advisory team must, of necessity, take a week, 10 days, or perhaps even longer to make its recommendations? In the meantime, the voluntary agencies on the spot have reported that thousands of children are dying. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these agencies have stockpiled food in Fernando Po, and have an aircraft ready to fly in supplies? What obstacles are preventing this mercy mission taking place tomorrow?

I think that the hon. Gentleman over-simplifies the position. Talks are going on about the supplies in both Fernando Po and Lagos, and about the best means of getting these as quickly as possible to the people who need them. I have no reason to believe that there are any obstacles on the Federal side to that taking place, but if they go in by air the planes will have to land on an improvised grass strip. The proposal which Oxfam and that the International Red Cross are considering is a landing on an improvised grass strip. If that is done, it will be on much too small a scale to meet the real needs.

With respect, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is misinformed. The plan is to drop food because of the difficulty in using air strips.

We are ready to look at and co-operate in any method which will get the supplies as quickly as possible to the people who need them.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we all join in the appeal that he has made to Colonel Ojukwu to accept the offer to come to London and get a cease-fire quickly? Will he reconsider what has been said from both sides of the House, that this is very urgent, and will he take all possible steps to assist Oxfam and others who are ready to go into action at once, long before the assessors can return to this country?

Secondly, will my right hon. Friend press for a cease-fire as soon as possible? I appreciate the efforts which have been made, but is my right hon. Friend aware that the consensus of opinion is that unless a cease-fire is brought about the Government ought seriously to consider withdrawing arms support from the Federal Government?

Naturally, I always listen with respect to what my right hon. Friend, with his great experience in the office that I hold, says about these matters. I assure him that the Government are tackling everything that they do with a sense of maximum urgency. I do not think that anybody is under any illusion about the strength of public opinion on the issues here, to which my right hon. Friend has just given such eloquent expression.

Boac Strike (Negotiations)

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity if she will make a statement on the terms of the agreement which has been reached between B.O.A.C. and its pilots.

The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity
(Mrs. Barbara Castle)

At a meeting of B.O.A.C. and B.A.L.P.A. representatives under my Department's chairmanship yesterday arrangements for a return to work by B.O.A.C. were discussed.

The talks covered clarification on the scope of the forthcoming negotiations on pay structure under the independent chairmanship of Professor Wood, an undertaking by both sides that there would be no victimisation by either side, including measures to ensure that the pension and seniority rights of pilots who have been on strike are not adversely affected and arrangements for the restoration as soon as possible of the Corporation's services.

At the conclusion of the discussions, B.A.L.P.A. called off the strike and B.O.A.C. has agreed to reinstate all pilots on the Corporation's payroll from tomorrow, when its services will restart.

B.O.A.C. and B.A.L.P.A. have met today under Professor Wood's chairmanship to begin their negotiations on pay structure. He will in due course prepare a general report on these negotiations which will be available to assist the P.I.B. in the reference on pilots' pay and productivity which is at present before it.

I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House welcome the progress that has been made so far and also hope that the continued meetings and negotiations will result in a full settlement which is satisfactory both to B.O.A.C. and the pilots. I am sure that no hon. Member on either side of the House would want to do or say anything today that would hinder a speedy settlement.

I endorse everything that my hon. Friend has said. As I have said in my reply, negotiations have already started on the detailed pay talks under Professor Wood this morning, and we must all hope that they will reach a satisfactory conclusion. In the meantime the pilots are going back to work.

There are still some issues outstanding. Can the right hon. Lady give us some idea of what those issues are? A number of contrasting statements have been made from both sides. Further, can the right hon. Lady give us some indication of the nature of Professor Wood's position? Is he an arbitrator? Has any agreement been arrived at that his findings will be held to be binding on either side?

There are no issues outstanding which would prevent the resumption of work. Agreement has been made to resume work as from one minute after midnight tonight, the earliest practicable date by which B.O.A.C. could arrange for services to be resumed. Professor Wood's terms of reference were, first, to assist the parties in finding a basis for a resumption of work and, secondly, to help them in the forthcoming negotiations on pay structure and other outstanding matters—for example, the pilots' agreement for services.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that no agreement will be approved by her unless it comes strictly within all the criteria laid down in the prices and incomes policy?

In my statement, I said that Professor Wood will in due course be making a general report to the P.I.B. on the outcome of the negotiations. It has always been understood and accepted by the pilots that at the conclusion of their talks with B.O.A.C. the outcome would be referred to the P.I.B.

To bring about a better relationship between the management and air crew, will the right hon. Lady take into account the fact that Sir Giles Guthrie has been carrying a tremendous burden as chairman of a large executive for four and a half years? Will she consider filling the existing vacancy on the Board with a senior captain who can bring about the kind of liaison which most other airlines have?

I am sure that the hon. Member will realise that the composition of the Board of B.O.A.C. is not for me, but for the President of the Board of Trade.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the whole trade union movement will watch these negotiations with a great deal of interest, and especially their outcome? In this case, will her well-known theme of linking any pay increases with productivity be maintained?

Certainly—these are pay and productivity talks. I can tell my hon. Friend that they have always been accepted by the pilots in that sense. We have made it clear time and again that pay linked with productivity is within the criteria.

We all hope for a happy outcome to these negotiatons, but is the right hon. Lady aware that a great deal of carrying trade has been lost by Britain due to this dispute? Will she ask her right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade seriously to reconsider his turning down of applications for licences by various independent companies—for example, Caledonian Airways—which would have helped to fill the gap while this dispute was going on?

I am sure that the House realises that matters like this are not for me but for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who will no doubt note what the hon. Member has said.

Following up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme), which is a very important one, will my right hon. Friend say—now that the question of incomes is an essential part of discussions in the House—what precisely are the terms of reference of Professor Wood? Secondly, will the question of comparability with airlines in other parts of the country be included? Thirdly, are we to understand that this is to be a genuine productivity agreement and not a "phoney" productivity agreement?

I thought that I had made the terms of reference of Professor Wood quite clear. They are to help the parties in the forthcoming negotiations on pay structure and on other outstanding matters, such as the pilots' agreement for service. He will preside over the talks to help the parties reach agreement. I have also made it clear that he will then make a report to the Prices and Incomes Board on the outcome of the negotiations and help it in relation to the reference on pilots' pay and productivity that is currently before the Board. I am sure that we can accept that the normal procedure in these matters is being followed.

In view of the fact that the pilots are reported to be negotiating for an increase about 15 times above the ceiling of the prices and incomes policy, may we assume that the talks at the right hon. Lady's Department anticipated a roughly similar kind of increase in productivity?

I have said time and again that these are pay and productivity talks. They have always been accepted as such. There clearly must be a relationship between the two sides. I suggest that we wait and see what comes out of the talks.

Aintree (Grand National Steeplechase)

With permission, I wish to make a statement about the future of Aintree and the Grand National Steeplechase.

This race is one of the nation's great sporting festivals and its continuance is inevitably bound up with the ownership of the Aintree course, since it is clear that the race will completely change its character if it is transferred elsewhere. The Government also believe it to be important for considerations of regional policy to keep as many important events as possible in the provinces.

With these objectives in mind, the Government initiated talks with all the interested parties and as a result I can now make an interim statement following discussions with the Liverpool Corporation, the Turf Authorities, the Horse Race Betting Levy Board and Messrs. Tophams Ltd., the present owners.

The chief consideration is that of ownership and Her Majesty's Government have informed the Liverpool Corporation that we are prepared to give loan sanction for the capital sum required for the acquisition of the land. We shall also be prepared to apply the provisions of Section 8 of the 1966 Local Government Act in order to make them a grant not exceeding 50 per cent. in respect of that portion of the site which is to be kept as public open space.

I am glad to say that the Liverpool Corporation places great importance upon obtaining full public access for general recreational purposes at Aintree, on all days when racing is not taking place. As Merseyside has much less open space than the national average this will be a significant contribution to the social life of the neighbourhood.

It is hoped that this offer will facilitate negotiations with Messrs. Tophams for the purchase of the land.

If Liverpool acquires the site it is understood that it will wish to lease the racecourse to a non-profit-making trust body to be established under the chairmanship of Lord Leverhulme. This trust will seek to develop Aintree as a National Hunt Racing centre in the North, a scheme which has the support of the Horse Race Betting Levy Board. By these means the Grand National and racing at Aintree will be maintained and no charge will fall upon the Liverpool ratepayers in respect of them.

It is believed that at a later date the Liverpool Corporation may wish to establish a sports centre on the site, a project in which the North-West Regional Sports Council is much interested, and, if so, we would expect that there would be the fullest co-operation in the design and provision of buildings of a multipurpose character between Liverpool, the Racing Trust and the Levy Board.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this announcement will enable negotiations to be brought to a successful conclusion for the purposes that I have outlined.

Everyone interested in racing, and particularly in the future of the Grand National, will welcome the Under-Secretary's statement and it will be generally welcomed that in future Aintree is to be used for other recreational purposes. However, in spite of the hon. Gentleman's statement, the future of Aintree will still clearly depend on a successful conclusion to the negotiations between Liverpool Corporation and Messrs. Tophams, and this may take time.

Can the Under-Secretary therefore assure the House that there will be no time limit to the offer of a grant under Section 8 of the Local Government Act, 1966? Can he say whether negotiations for the purchase of the land between Liverpool Corporation and Messrs. Tophams are now in progress?

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman has said. I can assure him that the offer is obviously intended to be kept open. He will understand that negotiations could not begin until we had made these arrangements with Liverpool Corporation, and we were able to conclude them last week. Liverpool Coporation now knows what help it will get from the open space grant which I mentioned and is, therefore, now prepared to enter negotiations immediately with Messrs. Tophams.

Will my hon. Friend take it from me that his statement will be received with great satisfaction on Merseyside? However, will he give an undertaking that the other authorities who are bound to be involved in the recreational side of this project will meet their part of the burden?

The whole point of the arrangement is that although we might have a sports centre, it is not an early prospect. The main point is that this arrangement will enable the whole of the land to be used for almost all the time, excluding race days, for general recreational purposes by the people of Merseyside. This is a significant step forward..

I, too, welcome what the hon. Gentleman has said. Can he tell the House the likely cost of the land and say whether Liverpool Corporation will have any representation on the non-profit-making body, so that it can watch the day-to-day administration in the landlard's interest?

The issue of representation on the non-profit-making trust will not cause any difficulty. The parties are anxious for Liverpool to have such representation. It would be wrong for me to say what I think the land is worth, or what it will fetch. That is a matter to be negotiated between the paries, subject to the approval of the district valuer.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there will be widespread pleasure that this major international event is to be retained in the North-West? However, can he say more about the financial side? Is there to be any public or Ministerial appeal against any amount which may be agreed between Liverpool Corporation and Messrs. Topham? Secondly, as there is only one race meeting a year at Liverpool, is it intended that Aintree will still be used for only one meeting, or are there to be more race meetings?

As I have already said, whatever price is agreed will have to be subject to the normal district valuer procedure, and that is, therefore, a public safeguard. My hon. Friend is correct in saying that there is only one race meeting a year at Aintree, but it is proposed by the trust and the Levy Board that in future there should be more race meetings a year; but this is a matter for negotiation between the parties and is not for me.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware how much I welcome his statement, as the great Aintree racecourse is in my constituency? Is he aware that, although it is in the area of the Lancashire County Council, I believe it right that negotiations should have been with the Livei-pool Corporation, because the Liverpool conurbation will inevitably get far more of the advantages out of this remaining open space? What the hon. Gentleman has said—

Order. Even when an issue affects his constituency, an hon. Member should ask brief questions.

When will the hon. Gentleman be able to announce, or does he have any idea, when these negotiations may be concluded? It sounds from his statement as though there are many hurdles to overcome.

I shall certainly not risk my neck as a punter or forecaster on that sort of guess. My hope is that things can now proceed much more rapidly than over the last five or six years. I know that the hon. Gentleman has a constituency interest and I take his point about Lancashire, which has been extremely helpful in these negotiations, although part of the course happens to be in the constituency of one of my hon. Friends.

Is my hon. Friend aware that part of the course is in my constituency? [HON. MEMBERS: "Only the start."] Is he aware that for many years many of us have been advocating that the area should be brought within the control of the Liverpool City Council and that, therefore, his statement is most welcome to us and to the people of Liverpool, who have always wanted to keep the Grand National in our area? Can he say—[HON. MEMBERS:"Too long."]—whether the plans which he suggests Liverpool Corporation already has for a future sports stadium are well advanced, or are merely in the air without any concrete basis?

I am glad that my hon. Friend managed to get his horse over Beechers Brook. There has been a considerable measure of agreement right across the board among the various parties in Liverpool since negotiations first began. Plans were drawn up by Lancashire County Council for the sports project, but then Lancashire ceased its interest and the discussions moved to Liverpool and the project has obviously taken on a new meaning. I am not able to say that this sports centre can be produced at an early date, but I can say that Liverpool and the North-West Regional Sports Council want to do this as soon as they can financially.

As Aintree is almost the only open space between Liverpool and the Prime Minister, may I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on keeping this cordon sanitaire? I welcome the proposal to keep the race on Merseyside, but will the hon. Gentleman say whether there is still room on the Aintree site for housing as well as the sporting development?

There were discussions with Lancashire County Council about small pockets of land which might be available for housing purposes by Liverpool. These discussions have not proceeded very far, but this would be a matter between Liverpool Corporation and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

As the only Member of the House who lives in Aintree, may I thank my hon. Friend for his statement? Will he also agree that, under the Labour-controlled Lancashire County Council, this is what was intended, but that, when the Tories got control in Lancashire, they went back on the agreement?

I do not think that this is a moment for me to introduce party political factors when we are in sight of reaching agreement, but I am in a position to say that there is some historical substance in what my hon. Friend has said.

Without associating myself with the remarks made personally by my hon. Friend, may I ask whether he will be careful about co-ordinating the planning activities of all the surrounding local authorities? In the initial discussions this was a great stumbling block to a decision. I hope that he will resist any move to put housing on this open land as a first measure of this development, because, once housing gets in, the rest will go by the board?

That point is understood and taken, but I am happy to assure my hon. Friend that the Lancashire County Council and Liverpool Corporation are working harmoniously together in these matters.

New Member Sworn

David Charles Waddington, esquire, for Nelson and Colne.

Overseas Aid Bill

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have given you some notice of the point and I am glad that the Leader of the House is here. It refers to notification of change of business.

I seek your guidance, if possible, on how hon. Members may be notified more adequately. Last Friday, we were discussing the Overseas Aid Bill, on Second Reading, and I was in possession of the House when the debate was automatically adjourned. The Government agreed to provide extra time, but no statement was made then. The Whip said, in the ordinary way,"Monday next". That is the ancient formula for keeping a Bill on the Order Paper. No further notification was made.

No doubt owing to unavoidable delays, I and other hon. Members did not receive our Order Papers through the post in the ordinary way and on arrival at the House yesterday I went to the notice board in the "No" Lobby to see whether the business had been changed, because I had heard it rumoured that the debate would be continued next Friday, when the remaining stages had been set down.

I was unable to be present for the resumed debate last night and it may appear that I was guilty of some discourtesy, particularly to the Parliamentary Secretary, who replied, by not being present—but that is of little account. It is, however, important that there should be a system whereby hon. Members can certainly know what the business is to be. May I ask whether some arrangement should not be made to notify change of business before you so kindly arrange to put it in the "No" Lobby?

This is a matter for the Leader of the House. I understand that he is present. He will have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said and will obviously give consideration to what is a serious point, put very courteously.

I will certainly give consideration to the hon. Member's point.