HC Deb 28 July 1937 vol 326 cc3083-6
53. Mr. David Adams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the commission of inquiry being set up to examine economic conditions in Trinidad will make a survey of industrial legislation and of questions affecting the regulation of industrial disputes?

Sir A. Lambert Ward

The terms of reference of the commission will be as stated in my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Members for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) and for Penrhyn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) on 21st July, of which a copy is being sent to the hon. Member. It will be for the commission to decide what inquiries they will make in order that they may be able to report upon the matters covered by their terms of reference.

Mr. Adams

In view of the urgency of dealing with industrial matters because of the increasing dispute, will not that particular aspect be taken into special consideration?

Sir A. Lambert Ward

I will draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the matter.

54. Major Procter

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Acting Secretary of Trinidad asked for his permission before making his recent attack upon the Trinidad sugar industry in the local legislative council; whether his recent inquiries into the subject have satisfied him that such adequate wages are being paid by that industry that the average number of days worked by the labourers does not exceed 4.2 per week; whether he has received any complaints from the representatives of the workers; and whether he will instruct Colonial Secretaries to exercise strict impartiality when participating in any debate in a legislative council?

55. Mr. Macquisten

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the recent attack made upon the Trinidad sugar industry in the local legislative council by the Acting Colonial Secretary; and whether, in view of the appointment of the commission to investigate the causes of the recent disturbances in that colony, he will instruct the Governor to forbid Government officials to make any further references in public to such questions as those of labour and wages which are shortly to be the subject of examination by that commission?

Sir A. Lambert Ward

The speech to which these questions presumably refer was made by the Acting Colonial Secretary of Trinidad in the course of a debate in the Trinidad Legislative Council. No question of obtaining my right hon. Friend's prior permission to speak therefore arises. As my right hon. Friend has not yet had any opportunity of examining the full text of that speech, he is not in a position to say whether it is capable of the interpretation placed upon it in these questions or otherwise open to criticism on the grounds that strict impartiality was not exercised. He feels sure that the Governor of Trinidad appreciates the importance of Government spokesmen maintaining a neutral attitude on matters which are, or soon will be, sub judice, and in any case sees no reason to issue general instructions in the sense suggested in the fourth part of the question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Accrington (Major Procter). With regard to the second part of that question, my right hon. Friend is not prepared to make any statement on the subject of wages and hours of work which will, no doubt, be investigated by the commission which he has decided to appoint. With regard to the third part of that question, my right hon. Friend has not himself received any complaints from representatives of the workers, no doubt because the Governor has already set up a mediation committee for the purpose of arriving at a settlement of the points in dispute.

Major Procter

Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that this speech has caused serious disquietude among the sugar planters and others?

Mr. George Griffiths

Can the hon. and gallant Member tell us how these men spend their money, seeing that they get is. 8d. a day?

56. Captain Plugge

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the fact that many proprietors of estates in Trinidad and companies operating such estates are domiciled in Great Britain, he proposes to make any arrangements to enable the Commission to be appointed by him to report upon the recent disturbances in that colony to hear evidence in London before leaving for Trinidad or on return therefrom?

Sir A. Lambert Ward

My right hon. Friend is of opinion that the question whether, and if so what, evidence will be taken in London by those members of the Commission who are selected in this country is one to be determined by the Chairman of the Commission. My right hon. Friend will arrange for the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion to be brought to the Chairman's notice in due course.

57. Mr. Lunn

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give the names and description of the Commission to inquire into the Trinidad disturbances?

Sir A. Lambert Ward

Yes, Sir. The personnel of the Commission of Inquiry appointed by my right hon. Friend is as follows: Mr. John Forster, Deputy Umpire under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, Chairman;

Sir Arthur Pugh, C.B.E., J.P., lately General Secretary of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, and of the British Iron, Steel and Kindred Trades Association;

Mr. Thomas Fitzgerald, C.M.G., O.B.E., lately Postmaster-General, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika;

Mr. Kenneth Vincent Brown, Third Puisne Judge, Trinidad;

Mr. Gwilym Arthur Jones, Commissioner of Agriculture, Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad;

with Mr. A. H. Poynton, Colonial Office, as Secretary.

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