HC Deb 11 June 1940 vol 361 cc1171-202

4.29 p.m.

Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 7, after "Treasury," to insert: and after consultation with Advisory Committees to be appointed by him The purpose of this Amendment is, more than anything else, to elicit information as to what the Government have in mind in regard to the kind of committees which are contemplated, not in the Bill itself, apparently, but in the Financial and Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill. The Memorandum, referring to the provision of £5,000,000 per annum for the development and welfare work envisaged in the Bill, says: In planning the expenditure the Secretary of State will enlist the help of a Colonial Development and Welfare Advisory Committee which will be composed partly of official and partly of unofficial members, and of a Colonial Research Advisory Committee. It was contemplated when the Bill was drafted that these committees would be set up, but for some reason there is no provision in the Bill to set them up. The purpose of the Amendment, therefore, is to make it statutory that the advisory committees shall be consulted, for we take the view that before schemes are sanctioned by the Secretary of State he should consult these committees. Another point involved in the Amendment is the composition of the committees. The Memorandum says that they shall be composed partly of official and partly of unofficial members. What is meant by "official"? Is it intended that civil servants shall be the official members? What type of unofficial members has the Secretary of State in mind? Will the official members be appointed as paid permanent members of the committee? Will the word "unofficial" cover representatives from Parliament?

The importance of this question arises to some extent from expressions of opinion made in the House from time to time, particularly on the Colonial Vote, as to the desirability and, indeed, the necessity of having the Houses of Parliament directly associated with Colonial development through Members of Parliament who would be responsible to Parliament for the expenditure involved in a Bill of this kind. This House has recognised the importance of Colonial development, and its absence has been deplored by Members on all sides as being responsible for grievances and unsatisfactory conditions. Therefore, if there is to be a committee to supervise the spending of £5,000,000 a year for 10 years on this development, we ought to know whether Parliament will be directly associated with the work by having Members of Parliament on the committee. I would recall to the Committee how strong was the feeling in the House last June when we had before us the report of the Secretary of State on the state of the Colonies. The feeling was then expressed by Members on both sides that it was highly desirable that there should be a much closer touch between Members of Parliament and the work of Colonial administration. I am not suggesting that it should be as close as that in the French Parliament with their Colonial Committee, but we know that for many years there has been—I will not say culpable neglect of Colonial conditions—but there have been in our Colonies conditions so deplorable that we have been shocked from time to time at the state of things which has been revealed.

4.38 p.m.

Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)

It is essential that there should be consultation with an advisory committee which is detached from the immediate and detailed duties with which the Colonial Office is pre-occupied, and a committee which is able to take a wide view of Colonial problems and to attempt to keep them in their proper perspective. It is clear that one of the dangers to which this fund will be subjected will be attacks made upon it by different Colonial areas, with projects of their own, asking for considerable sums of money and looking at the matter from their own points of view. That is natural; it is, indeed, inevitable. It is not the business of Colony X Y Z to consider the requirements of Colony A B C,but it should be the duty of this advisory committee to balance projects one against the other, to keep general order and to decide precedence in the importance of projects which may be submitted for consideration. This is especially necessary with regard to this fund, because "colonies" is a term which embraces very different countries. Cyprus is one country, Nigeria is another; we could not find two more different places; their problems are entirely different. One is a very sophisticated area, with an ancient civilisation, and the other, although it has a long history and has interesting contacts with ancient civilisations, is in a condition of not very advanced development and needs entirely different treatment. In the cases of Cyprus and some of the other Colonies which have had established governments and Europeanised laws for a long period, it is essential, in my view and in that of a great many people who have considered these matters, that the advisory committee should keep these general problems under review. They should consider, for instance, how much money is to be spent on improving the agriculture of the Africans for their own nutrition in West Africa, and how much is to be spent on restoring the damaged structure of society in the West Indies.

These matters are difficult of adjustment, and there must be an advisory committee to consider them and to make their judgments and to present them to the Colonial Office. I would remind the Under-Secretary of the valuable work which was done over a period of years in Australia by the Development and Migration Committee which reviewed what required to be done in the different States of Australia, considering the different claims by the separate States for assistance, and introduced order into the projects for the development of Australia which, if they had only been allowed to go on—which, unfortunately, they were not—would have led to great development in Australia on a regularised and scientifically-thought-out plan. That is the kind of thing which is required in the Colonial Empire. It is required more than in Australia because the conditions in the various parts of the Colonial Empire are so diverse and so conflicting that it is necessary to have an advisory committee to consider them.

I hope that there is no question of going back on what is set out in the Explanatory Memorandum, where special attention is drawn to the importance of the Welfare Advisory Committee and the Colonial Research Committee. I am a little afraid that the hon. Gentleman may say that advisory committees are not necessary, owing to the fact that there must be a limitation of Colonial expenditure at the present time. I would say, on the contrary, that if there is to be a serious limitation of such expenditure, it is more than ever necessary that there should be advisory committees in order that all projects may receive consideration, apart from the detailed consideration given by the Colonial Office itself. I hope, therefore, that the Under-Secretary may find it possible to accept the Amendment which appears to embody, in clearer words than those of the Clause as drafted, the intention of the Bill according to the Explanatory Memorandum. The Amendment will, I submit, make the Bill work better and enable such money as is expended, to be spent to advantage.

4.46 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. George Hall)

My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) said he wished to take advantage of this opportunity to get a definition of the functions of the advisory committees which are to be set up in connection with this scheme. This afternoon, I am afraid I can add little to the statements which were made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health during the Second Reading Debate. My right hon. Friend then said; The Government ought to draw on that experience and wisdom and that is why, although no statutory advisory committees are being set up under this Bill, we propose to establish two new advisory committees as part of the policy of colonial development and welfare which was announced a few months ago. There will be one advisory committee, partly official and partly unofficial, on colonial development and welfare, and another committee on colonial research."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st May, 1940; col. 50, Vol. 361.] Reference is also made to the matter in the Memorandum attached to the Bill and in the statement of policy. The advisory committees will be advisory in every sense of the word. As to the words "official" and "unofficial" I take it that the members will be officials in the Department plus a number of progressively-minded individuals from outside who have considerable knowledge and experience of the Colonies and of Colonial development. I have not yet heard that it is intended to appoint Members of Parliament to these committees. The hon. Member also asked whether members of the committee would be paid salaries. They will not be paid salaries as such, but incidental expenses incurred in doing the work of these committees will be met. With regard to the question of a Parliamentary Colonial Committee, in which I know the hon. Member is deeply interested, I am afraid I cannot give him any more information than that which was given to him by the former Secretary of State in answer to a question about the advisability of establishing such a committee. I would point out that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have not long since taken office. We have naturally been very much concerned about many matters connected with the Department, but we have not yet been able to give full attention to all the questions which are likely to arise. The position, however, is as I have stated.

As regards the proposed Amendment, I do not think it would add to the efficiency of the Bill. It would make the procedure much more rigid than it is under the Bill as it stands. The advisory committees will be used in every possible way in dealing with major development schemes which are likely to be brought about as a result of the operation of the Bill, but there are other matters, relating to housing, health and education, for instance, in connection with which it will be necessary to make grants from time to time to assist Colonial Governments. We feel that if all these matters had to be submitted to advisory committees, as would be the case if the Amendment were carried, it would, as the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans) pointed out in the Second Reading Debate, tend to cause delay, whereas we are inclined to expedite as far as possible the consideration of all schemes. I suggest that instead of adding to the rigidity of the scheme we ought to try to loosen the procedure if we can, and I think the Bill in its present form will be more helpful than it would be in the altered form suggested by the Amendment. I am sorry, therefore, that I must ask the Committee not to accept this, the first Amendment moved on this Bill.

Dr. Guest

Is it the intention of the Colonial Office to set up these committees?

Mr. Hall

Perhaps the hon. Member will await the Third Reading, when I shall have something to say on these matters.

Dr. Guest

This is relevant to the question of whether the Amendment is to be persisted in or not. If it is the intention of the Government to appoint these committees that is one thing, but if it is not the intention to do so, the Amendment should be pressed.

Mr. Hall

It may be taken by the Committee that it is the intention that, at some time, these advisory committees will be appointed.

4.54 p.m.

Mr. Riley

I confess I am not quite satisfied with the Under-Secretary's answer. I do not understand why a provision about these committees is not a part of the Bill. They ought to be made statutory. They are referred to in the Memorandum, but there is no reference to them in the Bill. I do not see the force of the hon. Gentleman's point that the acceptance of the Amendment making it obligatory on the Secretary of State to consult the advisory committees would make the Bill less efficient. The Memorandum states: In planning the expenditure the Secretary of State will enlist the help of a Colonial Development and Welfare Advisory Committee. If it is regarded as important, indeed fundamentally important, to have committees of this kind, why not include them in the statutory provisions? Our view, contrary to that of the Under- Secretary, is that these words would strengthen the Bill by making it obligatory to have consultation before schemes are agreed upon as the schemes would then be decided on the merits. As to the inclusion of Members of Parliament in such committees, may I remind the hon. Gentleman that in recent years Members of Parliament have been included in two very important Colonial committees? The House of Commons was directly represented on the Empire Marketing Board by three or four Members and on the Colonial Development Marketing Board there were, I think, five Members of Parliament. We are not therefore suggesting something for which there is no precedent. But, most important of all, there is the strongly expressed opinion in the House of Commons a year ago when the whole of our Colonial administration was under review, about the importance of associating the House directly with the economic development and welfare of the Colonies.

The Chairman

I am afraid that I cannot allow the question of a Parliamentary Commission to deal with Colonial problems generally, to be debated on this Amendment. It has been referred to, but I think that the extent of those references is as far as I can allow it to go.

Mr. Riley

I content myself with that reference, and I hope the Secretary of State will take it into account. May I also call the hon. Gentleman's attention to a statement made by the present Minister of Health during the Second Reading Debate in reply to a question which I put to him about the composition of the committee: The position is that we have selected the chairman, Lord Moyne, and have given some preliminary consideration in the Colonial Office to the composition of the rest of the committee. We are decided, of course, that it shall be composed partly of officials and partly of non-officials, and I may add that I myself have formed certain definite views, but I must leave any announcement on the actual composition of the committee to be made by my successor or by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st May, 1940; cols. 121–122, Vol. 361.] It is clear that the late Secretary of State had definite views on the nature and composition of the committee. I hope, therefore, that in spite of the fact that the Under-Secretary cannot accept the Amendment, he will pay attention to the express wish of the House of Commons to be associated more definitely with Colonial development.

Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)

Is there any reason why the advisory committees should not be appointed fairly soon? The hon. Gentleman indicated just now that such committees would be appointed, but left us in some doubt as to when the appointment would take place. I feel that if we had a definite assurance that the committees would be appointed fairly soon, it might not be thought necessary by my hon. Friends to press this Amendment.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Ammon (Camberwell, North)

I suggest to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary that perhaps he would make it easier for the Committee and for himself if he were a little more definite on the point which has been referred to. He recognises, with everybody else, that what is in the Memorandum is not in the Bill, and that when the Bill comes to be implemented we may be told that certain words are not included in it although they were in the Memorandum. It is the memory of the work of other advisory committees and of promises which have been made during the passage of Bills that creates some little doubt in our minds. I should think we might have fallen in with the point of view put by the Colonial Secretary had it not been that there was a certain amount of hesitancy as to whether or not these committees would be appointed. Whatever else happens, we have a right to a more definite statement; for him to say that they will be appointed at some time or other is not good enough; and even though it may spoil his peroration on the Third Reading I hope he will make such a statement, because if we have to wait till the Third Reading the chance of this House doing anything will have gone. We have no doubt about the hon. Gentleman's good will and good intentions, though on this side we may feel some little doubt about his chief. If he could give us a definite statement, as I believe he could, that it is the intention of his chief and himself to appoint these committees, then perhaps my hon. Friends might withdraw the Amendment.

5.3 p.m.

Mr. George Hall

Let me disabuse the minds of Members of the Committee of any idea that these committees are not to be appointed. The Secretary of State and myself are quite clear in our minds that the pledges which have been given about the appointment of these committees shall be carried out. I have a statement to make on the Third Reading of the Bill dealing with their postponement for a short while, for the reason, of course, that we are engaged in a war and that that must interfere to some extent with the work which it is intended shall be done in the Colonies when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. That really is mainly the reason for any postponement which may take place in the appointment of these committees. My hon Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) asked why these committees were not to be statutory. I attempted to explain why in my first speech. It is not suggested that every item of expenditure which will come out of the grants paid from this Fund should be considered by a statutory committee. There will be recurring expenses, such as maintenance of education, public health and things of that kind; but in the case of all major schemes of Colonial development, where large sums are involved, even development schemes of any kind, the advisory committees will, as was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Health, be used to the full. I hope that I have cleared the minds of the Committee with regard to the intentions of the Government in this matter.

Mr. Riley

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.5 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones (Shipley)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, after "that," to insert: there is no embargo upon the establishment of effective trade unions and that. I appreciate the fact that in the past few years the Colonial Office has attempted to secure the establishment in most of our Colonies not only of labour codes but also of effective trade union machinery. I am not foolish enough to suppose that every Colony is ripe for trade union organisation on the lines that we know in this country, but a very serious effort has been made in a number of Colonies to found trade unionism on sound principles, and a considerable amount of encouragement has been given by previous Ministers to the efforts to secure by law that the organisations that are established function effectively. What we want to secure is that before grants are made by the Colonial Office towards social improvements, new public works or new forms of economic development, at least inquiries should be made about the degree to which the local Government is prepared to see that trade unionism is permitted to operate in its Colony and that there is a substantial law to ensure that trade unions work effectively. Too often in the past civil liberty has been seriously encroached upon by sedition law, by a rather rigid interpretation of various restrictive measures. That has put considerable obstacles in the way of building up trade union organisation. In some cases there has been racial discrimination and what has been permitted for the white workers has not been permitted for the black workers.

What we ask is that if a grant of money is to be made out of the British Treasury, there should be some reasonable guarantee that the local Government are securing for the workers in the Colony concerned the right of combination to improve their working conditions. The Amendment speaks of "effective trade unions". In certain Colonies in recent months trade-union legislation has been under consideration, and although there has been no dubiety about the views of the Colonial Office or the Colonial Secretary, nevertheless the local Government has modified the trade-union law so as to make trade unionism ineffective, because not only are funds not protected in time of dispute but there is interference with peaceful picketing. It is because we attach importance to having effective trade-union law in as many Colonies as are ripe for the growth and development of trade unionism that we have put down this Amendment.

5.10 p.m.

Mr. David Adams (Consett)

I desire to support the Amendment because I feel it is essential in present circumstances that there should be no embargo upon the establishment of effective trade unions. Debates on Colonial matters and the reports of various Commissions have revealed, it will be generally agreed, that the standards of native life in various Colonies are almost without exception altogether too low. We on this side of the Committee feel, and perhaps the Committee in general will agree, that one of the strongest and most valuable instruments for raising those low standards is the right of combination, the right to utilise the trade union movement. In every Colony there ought to be free and unfettered trade unions, independent of interference from the local Governments. We are satisfied that only by collective action and bargaining can standards be improved. Individual action which has been in operation in the Colonies has merely set worker against worker, with the result that wages are altogether lower than they ought to be, and things are made worse for European workers by reason of the existence of submerged labour.

Where trade unions do exist in the Colonies they are not too much welcomed by those in authority, and we feel that if this Amendment were adopted they would have something in the nature of statutory authority. Take the case of Barbados. When the Trade Union Bill was under consideration there the right to peaceful picketing was omitted, clearly an unfortunate omission. In Trinidad, when the war broke out, the Mayor of Port of Spain forbade the use of the city square for trade union meetings, which it had been customary to hold there, and the Commissioner of Police informed the labour leaders that during the war they would not be allowed to address the workers, as had formerly been permitted. Further, organisers were arrested under the; Emergency Defence Act and alleged to have committed breaches of the law which would have been regarded as ridiculous if judged by the standards applied to the trade union movement in this country. It is for reasons like those that we say the position of the trade unions in the Colonial Empire should be strengthened by the addition of the words suggested in the Amendment.

5.15 p.m.

Colonel Ponsonby (Sevenoaks)

I feel that the Clause as drawn goes quite as far as is necessary. To insert this Amendment to bring in trade unions is really quite unnecessary. I was interested in the remarks made by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), and I apologise to him here for having misquoted him in the Debate on the Second Reading. I thought all the time, both as regards himself and the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, that it would be extremely valuable if they had been able to visit some of these countries in order to see for themselves whether the Amendment would work.

The hon. Member for Shipley suggested that some of these countries are not ripe for this proposal. That is the point that I should like to stress. The majority of the people in Africa are in a stage of civilisation corresponding probably to the civilisation of this country 2,000 years ago. We will not go into the question whether the mind of the African is the same as the mind of the white man, but I suggest that if the hon. Members wish to appreciate the development of the mind of a native African, they could not do better than read a book called "Red Strangers" by Elspeth Huxley. They will have some idea then of the state of civilisation of these people for whom it is suggested that we should provide trade union rules. After all, only about 2 per cent. of those people at the very outside can be said to understand matters of everyday life in the same way as white people, and it is the danger of that 2 per cent. that we have to guard against. The intelligentsia, by their knowledge, perhaps sometimes not disinterested, may promote all sorts of trouble by carrying away the mass of the population by their fanaticism or otherwise.

I will give the Committee a small example. In 1915 a native, called John Chilembwe, of Nyasaland, went to America, where he became religious mad. He came back to Nyasaland, where, as the result of his persuasion, he provoked a number of tribes to revolt. There were other reasons for the revolt, and I may say that it started by the murder of an unpopular planter and his decapitation. His head was put on the altar of the church. I mention this matter to show the influence that a fanatic, and especially a religious fanatic, may have over primitive people. That is what we have to avoid. It has been said that a nation gets the government it deserves; I feel that we ought not to give to primitive people institutions for which they are not ready, and therefore I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will resist the Amendment, which I am not at all sure is for the benefit of the people whom it is intended to serve.

Mr. Riley

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman allow me to remind him that there are many Colonies which have had centuries of British rule and civilisation, and where trade unions have been struggling for establishment in the last few years?

Colonel Ponsonby

I agree with the hon. Member, but we are dealing with a general Bill applying to all Colonies. While the Amendment might apply to some Colonies, it does not apply to all, and therefore it would be unfortunate to put it into the Bill.

5.20 p.m.

Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)

I hope that the Minister will be able to withstand the arguments that have been put forward by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I think we all agree that he put them forward with perfect sincerity and with no desire to limit the establishment of trade unions where they can properly exist. One recognises the point he makes about people from the Colonies coming to this country, taking an education in law and going back to become, because of that education, leaders of agitators in their own country, but that matter might easily be dealt with, it seems to me.

The point which I wanted to put to the Committee is apart altogether from the purely trade-union aspect of this matter. I wanted to point out to the Minister the desirability of accepting the Amendment because of our declarations that we stand for bringing these more primitive people—or less advanced, if you please to call them so—forward as rapidly as possible to a condition where they will be able to look after their own government. We stand for democracy. The way in which democracy has extended itself in this country and has made this country a model for the world, from the Parliamentary point of view, has largely been through men and women serving what may be called their apprenticeship in looking after their own affairs in their own communities. The extension of opportunity for development on trade-union lines among workers in the Colonies would be a matter of training these people for the greater responsibilities of democracy that will come along when they have an opportunity of taking a greater share in the running of affairs in their own country.

Nothing would keep them on right lines better than making it clear to them that, in a trade union, they would have to raise money by which that trade union would be run. That would immediately put a restraint upon them in respect of their activity, because they must not dissipate unwisely the funds which they have collected. They would know the feeling of responsibility, and be held by it in a way which would bring them forward more rapidly towards the self-government which we hold out as the desirable end for them to attain. I hope that this additional consideration will help the Minister to decide against the hon. and gallant Member and in favour of the Amendment.

5.24 p.m.

Mr. Ammon

I am chiefly concerned with the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby), who has read into the Amendment a good deal more than is in it. He has rather put up too many arguments on the old debating principle of being able to knock them down again. To a large extent, the Bill goes a very long way towards meeting the position asked for by my hon. Friends. They are asking that provision should be made, as and when education and the deepening of knowledge, understanding, industry and economic development permit, for machinery whereby these natives could advance step by step towards protecting their own interests in the proper way. Some of us, even though we sit on this side of the Committee, have visited the Colonies. I spent a few months in West Africa two years ago, seeing something of the work of administration there. The Government of Nigeria had brought in, on their own initiative, legislation based upon the Act of 1927 passed in this country. They asked me to look through it and to make what criticisms I thought were necessary. Although there are communities which are not ready for such a development, there is a great deal of development in Lagos more than in the hinterland of Nigeria itself. The Government have recognised that the development which is growing up there would serve people better if they organised in a trade union movement. They brought in a Bill, which provided that such trade unions exist under the fiat of the Governor.

So far from being unnecessary, it may be that such a development is very necessary. As the hon. and gallant Member will be aware, trade unions cannot be established unless they are registered and recognised. That in itself provides plenty of safeguards for the governing authorities to see that the provision is in no way abused. Seeing that the Government have gone a long way towards meeting the case that has been submitted, I hope my hon. Friend will see his way to accept, even if not in these exact words, the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend.

5.27 p.m.

Mr. George Hall

We have had a very interesting Debate upon this Amendment, which was argued very forcibly by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones). So far as I am personally concerned, it is knocking at an open door. No one can argue the advantages of trade unions to me, because I have been cradled in them for too many years. My hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) helped with the matter, and put it in its proper perspective, when he said that the words of the Bill went a long way towards meeting the point put by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley and other hon. Members who have spoken—with the exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby). He was concerned with Colonies which he thinks are not ripe for this step forward, but he did not declare himself as opposed to trade unions. He thought that the imposition of trade unionism on the Colonies might have disastrous effects.

The Colonial Office has done all that it possibly can to encourage the growth of trade unionism in all the Colonies. As long ago as 1930, Colonial Governments were urged to enact legislation declaring that trade unions were not criminal or unlawful for civil purposes, and were asked to give sympathetic supervision and guidance to their organisation and development. Since that time, trade union legislation has been passed in a very large number of the Colonial Dependencies. At the present time the number of workers' trade unions, registered in accordance with the requirements of the Colonial legislation, is in the neighbourhood of 180. The majority of those are in Cyprus, Ceylon, Jamaica, British Guiana and Trinidad. The move- ment is now also developing in West Africa, and even in territories such as in East Africa, where the movement is necessarily most backward, development is taking place and some unions are being formed. We must, of course, recognise that many of these new unions are in a very early stage of development and therefore are in need of guidance so as to enable them to develop on sound lines. This problem is engaging the attention of the Colonial labour departments and the Colonial Office at the present time, and I hope that something will be done to assist those areas on the right lines.

The Government are not unsympathetic to the point of view which was put forward by my hon. Friends, and although we cannot accept the words which are in the Amendment, we are prepared to consider, in consultation with my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell, with my hon. Friends whose names are down to the Amendment, and with my hon. Friend on this side, as to whether we can get such words as will simply represent what both hon. Members and the Colonial Office have in mind. Those words can then be inserted when the Bill is brought forward in another place. I hope that, with that assurance, the Amendment will be withdrawn.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.32 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

I beg to move, in page 2, line 13, to leave out "standard rates," and to insert: rates recognised by trade unions in the area where the work is being executed, or where no such rates exist in the district, the trade union rates recognised in the nearest comparable area. The words in the Bill: that the wages paid will be at not less than the standard rates, are unfortunately somewhat ambiguous, and it is because of our desire to be a little more exact as to what are the rates which should govern employment that the Amendment has been put down. I confess that the Amendment is not as happily worded as one would like because of the difficulty of expressing what is in our minds, but on this side of the Committee in days gone by we have repeatedly pointed out the deplorable wage standards operating in certain of our Colonies, wage standards which are perfectly inexcusable and unjustifiable, whereas with a little effort on the part of Governments as well as of employers higher standards could quite well have been established. In certain Colonies there are no trade union rates, no trade union machinery, there has been recognised neither the right of combination nor the right of negotiation, and there has been no recognition of the unions or conciliation machinery for determining standard rates. It is our desire that when schemes are inaugurated under the Bill, there shall be something better than the deplorable wages which are now paid in many territories. It is for that reason that we ask for a better definition as to what constitutes a standard rate.

The present practice in respect of wages often gives rise to a great deal of internal competition for labour in the Colonies. In spite of that competition, standards remain deplorably low, and because of the competition the economic organisation and development of the Colonies is frequently seriously prejudiced. That is also the case in respect of competition for labour by a neighbouring territory where enterprise is possibly a little more profitable or where a slightly higher standard of wages is paid. If hon. Members have referred to the observations of Sir Alan Pim in regard to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland following his investigations a few years ago, they will know that he makes this point, that the effect of competition for labour by outside territories may have a very prejudicial effect on the development of the Colony itself. It is because we want a reasonable and just standard of wages that we have tried to frame this Amendment.

Perhaps I may also quote a case which is now actively receiving the attention of the Colonial Office in regard to what are styled standard wages or fair rates in Palestine now. The authorities now are prepared to pay what is recognised as a fair wage. The fair wage was defined, when the Haifa harbour was being constructed, as 3s. a day, but because the Palestine Government can get any amount of cheap labour at 2s. a day, the War Office in its military works may not pay other than the fair wage, and therefore are obliged to pay what the Palestine Government determine is the fair wage of 2s. rather than what was previously recognised as the standard rate of 3s. a day. It is because of the ambiguity of what constitutes standard rates that we have put down this Amendment. I therefore hope that the Under-Secretary will see the force of our argument and, if our Amendment does not happen to express what is in our minds, will give some consideration to a form of words which will meet us, so that at least a standard rate of wages is payable under any scheme promoted by the Bill.

5.38 p.m.

Mr. David Adams

I am glad to support this Amendment. The word "standard" in the Bill is a very elusive term. Whose standard is it? Is it the standard of the employers in the district or the aspirations of the employés in that area? Is it a standard which has been established by custom, or is it something which has been enforced upon unwilling employers? The purport of this Amendment is to bring Colonial practice in these matters in harmony with what exists so far as this Government and the municipalities of the Kingdom are concerned. It is expressed in the Fair Wages Clause, which is now so generally adopted throughout the country, that the wages and conditions shall be those which have been agreed to between the employers and employed, and, in harmony with our Amendment, where no such conditions prevail such conditions as are considered fair in the particular trade concerned shall be adopted by employers and employed alike. It would be very unfortunate indeed if there were not afforded some additional protection such as we suggest. Leaving the matter merely to the term "standard" would leave the gate open for much controversy. I can imagine strikes and disputes arising from much less reason. After all, the main purport of this Bill is to maintain the welfare and the development of the Colonial Empire.

With regard to monetary expenditure, it is unfortunate that the Bill does not particularise the amount to be expended on welfare as against the amount to be expended on development. We must, however, grasp at this opportunity, which is an excellent one, for providing that the labour conditions in the various Colonies shall be upon the same equitable basis as prevails in this country in the matter of Government contracts, and in the great municipalities of this Kingdom.

5.41 p.m.

Colonel Ponsonby

I sympathise heartily with the hon. Members who have put down this Amendment, because it is almost impossible to phrase what they want. For instance, if we take the practical application of this last sentence: where no such rates exist in the district, the trade union rates recognised in the nearest comparable area", we might come up against a proposition such as this: In Nyasaland certain public works under one of these schemes might be contemplated. The nearest comparable area where similar public works are contemplated or in progress might be Uganda, 1,000 miles away, under different conditions of work, labour and everything else. Therefore, if this Amendment were taken as it is, it would create a comparison that would be impracticable. When the Under-Secretary is revising these two Amendments, I hope that he will put on his thinking cap and try to produce something which will work in practice.

5.43 p.m.

Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)

The difficulty here is to fix a fair wage rather than a standard wage. I do not know what standard will apply to natives under the direction of my hon. Friend's office. I believe that the anxiety of everybody in this Committee is to secure that men employed either in private or public employment shall receive fair wages and, if the possibility of organisation presents itself, that encouragement should be given to them to form appropriate trade unions in the various crafts in which they are engaged. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, how can you determine a standard rate of wages in Uganda or Nyasaland, or even in the West Indies, where there is a tolerable degree of civilisation? The Under-Secretary will have difficulty in putting in the right language what the hon. Gentleman opposite is anxious to secure. However, if the Government secure that wages are on as high a level as possible relative to the type of employment, this Committee will have done its duty.

5.45 p.m.

Sir Stanley Reed (Aylesbury)

I sincerely hope that the Under-Secretary will not accept the Amendment in its present form, not for any reasons that I can give, but for the excellent reasons given by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones). This Amendment does not, and cannot, carry out the purposes that he has in view. We are all agreed that we want not a standard wage, not a static wage, but a steadily improving wage, so far as economic conditions justify, throughout the whole of our Colonial possessions. That is not to be obtained by this Amendment, because there are not comparable conditions. My own experience has been that the moment you go outside any area, you find totally different conditions. The most that we can hope to do is to leave the Minister to digest the essence of what we have tried to put before him; and if he can evolve anything which will satisfy him and satisfy us, we shall be profoundly grateful.

Mr. David Adams

Might I just make it a little more clear to hon. Members opposite that when one uses the term "trade union rates," one means such terms as have been agreed upon by the trade unions and the employers in the area concerned? It is a specific agreement which has been entered into.

Sir S. Reed

The hon. Member has entirely overlooked the wording of the Amendment: where no such rates exist in the district, the trade union rates recognised in the nearest comparable area. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) has pointed out that such an area might be 1,000 miles away; and there might be no effective trade union organisation there, although there might be one which was slowly developing.

5.48 p.m.

Mr. George Hall

There is no difference of opinion as to the difficulty of my task in attempting to define the "standard rates" referred to in the Bill. I think that those responsible for drafting the Bill attempted to find a very easy way out, because this term was lifted out of the 1929 Act. Under that Act, it has worked, for good or ill, from the time that the Act was passed up to the present. Hon. Members have recognised the difficulty of relating conditions in the Colonies with conditions in this country; but, at the same time, it has been recognised that something must be done to safeguard the wages of the workpeople who will be employed on schemes to be carried out by means of moneys provided under this Bill. There is a difficulty in finding the right words, and I am afraid that we have not got the right words in the Amendment. In some Colonies trade unions do not exist, and the very widely varying conditions in Colonies must always be remembered. It is difficult to find exactly comparable areas for many Colonies. One might ask what is the nearest comparable area to St. Helena, or to Hong Kong. In the latter case, it would be China. We must not consider that wage conditions which prevail in certain parts of China should prevail in Hong Kong.

Mr. David Adams

Are there no trade unions in Hong Kong?

Mr. Hall

There are some trade unions there. The officers of the Government are very sympathetic to the purposes of this Amendment. Again, I would invite the co-operation of hon. Members who have taken part in the discussion, and, with their help, we will endeavour to find suitable words to meet the points which have been made in the Debate. I hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn.

5.51 p.m.

Mr. Price

I do not feel wedded to the words of this Amendment at all, and I think it might be possible to find something more suitable. Where there are trade unions, is it not obvious that the standard rate should be the rate fixed by the employers and the trade unions? Where there are no trade unions, I should think it would be possible to come to some understanding that wages should be fixed by negotiation with the representatives of the Colonial Government. That, I think, would be a certain safeguard. Then any complaints could be raised in this House. It would be giving the necessary public control which we want in those very backward areas where no trade unions exist.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.53 p.m.

Mr. Riley

I beg to move, in page 2, line 17, to leave out from "works," to the end of line 22, and to insert: (3) Any scheme made under this Section shall provide that any increase in values directly attributable to the scheme shall inure to the colony in respect of which the scheme is made. The only difference between the wording of the Amendment and that of the Bill is that the Bill states that the Colony in respect of which any scheme is made should participate in any increase in values directly attributable to the scheme, while our Amendment provides that the increase shall "inure" to the benefit of the Colony. That seems a small difference, but it is a principle of some importance. As the Clause stands, there seems to be some doubt as to what proportion of any increased values will go to the Colony. I suggest that the wording of the Amendment would be more effective, as it makes it quite clear that any increase in values attributable to the scheme shall inure to the Colony.

5.55 p.m.

Sir P. Hannon

Suppose that a scheme is promoted, in any part of the Colonial Empire, upon which public money, voted by Parliament, has been expended, and that the value of property adjacent to that scheme is enhanced, and that private enterprise begins to operate on that property. Is it proposed, under the Amendment, that private enterprise is to be discouraged from such development?

5.56 p.m.

Mr. Riley

That applies as much to the Clause as to the Amendment, as the same principle is contained in both. The Clause says that the Secretary of State shall take into account the desirability of securing so far as possible that the colony in respect of which the scheme is made shall participate in any increase in values directly attributable to the scheme. The only difference between that and our Amendment is that the Amendment provides that the benefit of such an increase in values shall inure directly to the Colony, and not be divided.

5.57 p.m.

Mr. Ammon

This is a case in which, perhaps, we shall have to call in the aid of the Attorney-General, because there may be some difference of opinion as to the distinction between "participate" and "inure." I imagine that the object of the Amendment is to provide that the whole of any such increase in land values, instead of going into private pockets, as happens now, shall inure to the Colony itself—in short, it is an endeavour to avoid what we have been suffering from for many years in more sophisticated kinds of society. As the hon. and gallant Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) may remember, in some parts of Africa the land cannot be abrogated from the people; the chiefs, or emirs, are the custodians of the land, and any improvement goes into the common stock. This is a matter, however, on which I think we need a legal mind.

5.58 p.m.

Sir S. Reed

I want to give my entire support to the principle of the Amendment. I think there is not a great deal of difference in principle between the wording of the Bill and that of the Amendment; but the wording of the Bill is too wishy-washy, and not strong enough. I want the whole benefit to go to the community, and not to private individuals. Whether the word "inure" is the right word, in the legal sense, I do not know; but I sincerely hope that the Minister will accept the principle that there should be something very much stronger than the language of the Bill, in order to secure that the community, and not private individuals, should benefit from the spending of public moneys under this Bill.

5.59 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed) has very admirably expressed what was in the minds of those Members who are responsible for this Amendment. We feel that if public money, provided by this House, is spent on schemes of development, and if the effect of opening out territories is the creation of improved values, those values, instead of going to private individuals, should obviously go into the coffers of the community concerned. There is, for instance, a proposition that certain parts of the hinterland in British Guiana should be opened out; that some of the surplus population of the West Indies, or, say, some of the Jewish people, should colonise some of those parts. Suggestions have been made that certain public works, roads and suchlike, should be cut, with a view to opening out that hinterland. It seems a reasonable proposition that if, by social effort, land which is at present completely valueless assumes a very real value, some, at least, of that value, if not the whole of it, should go to the coffers of the Treasury concerned. If the State is spending money on irrigation works, on sinking wells, for better production, on improved schemes in con- nection with afforestation or soil erosion, it seems reasonable to suggest that the newly-created values should enrich the Colony, rather than individuals whose own possessions happen to be near those works. It is because the Sub-section in the Bill scarcely goes far enough in this respect that we ask that it shall be strengthened.

6.1 p.m.

Mr. Price

I would like to add a few words to emphasise the desirability of some steps being taken to ensure that public values created by these schemes should go to the people. The question is how best this can be done, and it seems to me that by strengthening the Clause in the way proposed we shall put some kind of moral obligation on the Governor of a Colony to enact legislation to secure this end. Some steps in the direction of the taxation of land values or unearned increment duty, or something like that, might possibly secure the desired end. Perhaps the Attorney-General would consider how this could possibly be done. If he cannot specify exactly what measures ought to be taken—and I am prepared to agree that in a Bill of this kind it would be hard to find the particular words—I would suggest that a moral obligation on the Colony to take steps in the direction indicated is desirable, and there is a great deal to be said for strengthening the Clause.

6.2 p.m.

Sir Francis Fremantle (St. Albans)

I only want to add my word in support of the principle of the Amendment from the point of view of the garden city movement, with which I have been associated a good deal in this House for over 20 years. This movement is based on the idea that if you are to develop a town, township, village or any settlement, you can, by taking proper steps beforehand, see that you do not get competition in values into private hands, as it is likely to be disastrous to any future development. It would not matter so much if the increment in value remained in private hands; what matters is that, as development ensues, so the public needs develop in the way of public buildings, roads or utility societies of one kind or another. We have seen the possibility of doing this thing properly by the actual development of two garden cities in this country, on lines where the whole possession of the land is in the hands of the community. In this case it has been a private company that has developed it, by the terms of its charter, for the public interest. The widening of roads in London is almost an impossible achievement because of these land values, whereas in garden cities these developments are all provided for. This kind of shadowy Amendment introduces a principle which may be valuable.

6.5 p.m.

Mr. David Adams

I would like to support the Amendment, and there is support for the principle of it in the Town and Country Planning Act. Local authorities have actually collected betterment from private individuals as a result of public expenditure. That principle is a very just one. The presence and the expenditure of the community are responsible for the increase in ground values. In the Colonial Empire, where the expenditure is to be largely found by this Government, it is the more necessary that the communities concerned should see that in their expenditure and development works the rising values do not merely pass, as occurs in this country, into private hands among persons who may have taken no steps whatever to contribute to these values. The local authorities therefore ought to have the full benefit of any public expenditure which creates additional values.

6.6 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

On this Amendment, as on the earlier ones, the unanimity of intention is as well as may be complete, and we are debating about how far that intention is carried into effect by the words, and how far the words can be improved. The trouble about this Amendment is that it is so rigid that it would be unworkable. It makes it mandatory that any scheme made under this Section shall provide that any increase in values directly attributable to the scheme shall inure to the colony in respect of which the scheme is made. One hon. Gentleman referred to an irrigation scheme. Suppose you have an irrigation scheme over a fairly wide area, that inevitably inures to the benefit of the inhabitants who live in the area and no doubt increases the value of their land, should there be any question of their selling it. No doubt under an irrigation scheme it is very often normal to take a contribution from the cultivators who benefit by the scheme for the water which they would not otherwise get. That is a perfectly fair proposal, but no one could say that any increase in values directly attributable to the schemes would inure to the colony unless you imposed a charge on the cultivators for the full increased value of their plots which they cultivate. I think that hon. Gentlemen will see that this Amendment really will be far too rigid and will simply mean that the thing will not work at all. The words in the Bill—and this is a little interesting—are taken from the 1929 Act. An Amendment was moved to the Bill as introduced raising exactly the point which all who have spoken to-day have raised, and everybody's intention was just the same then as it is now, and this was arrived at as an agreed form of words between those interested in this problem and those in charge of the Bill, who were also interested in the problem. I do not think it is quite fair to say that it is washy or ineffective. It gives an elasticity which the Amendment does not give, and I have tried to suggest to the Committee that the Amendment is so rigid that it just would not work. It enjoins the Secretary of State to take into account the desirability of securing so far as possible that the Colony in respect of which the scheme is made shall participate. You have not only to take into account, but to see as far as possible that the object which we all have at heart is attained. There was some reference to the definition of "inure." I think that "inure" would mean that you would have to see that the Colony got the whole of the interest, which I think in some cases would be quite impossible. There might be an increase of value to cultivators and it might be reasonable not to try and clear off every increase by imposing taxes on them.

Mr. Price

Has not the Attorney-General referred to the possibility of tribes being benefited by irrigation schemes? If this was carried through, the Government would have to take steps to take all increased values away from the natives.

The Attorney-General

That is my point. The Amendment is really too rigid, but I can give the Committee the assurance that both the Secretary of State and the Treasury will keep this matter in mind when schemes come up for approval. They appreciate the great importance of ensuring, as far as possible in the wording of the Bill, the matters which hon. Gentlemen have in mind, and I hope that with that explanation they will see their way not to press the Amendment.

Mr. Riley

I think that the Attorney-General has convinced us that the Government's words are wiser than those which I have suggested, and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.14 p.m.

Mr. Riley

I beg to move, in page 2, line 23, to leave out Sub-section (3).

The Sub-section says: Any sums received by the Secretary of State by way of interest on or repayment of the principal of any loan made in pursuance of any scheme under this section shall be paid into the Exchequer. That, in our view, is an unnecessary provision. Money is provided under the Bill for carrying out schemes for the draining and development of the Colonies, and we move the elimination of the Subsection because it is rather a mean thing to suggest that, if as a result of loans made for these schemes, repayments are made, the interest on loans should go back to the Treasury rather than to the development fund. As we see it, without this Sub-section payment of such loans or interest on loans would accrue to the fund. For that reason we move the Amendment.

6.16 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

I support the Amendment, because I would like my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to make a little clearer the intention of the Bill so far as the total amount available under it is concerned. In an earlier part of the Bill it is pointed out that sums to be so paid for the purposes of any other scheme shall not, in the aggregate, exceed £5,000,000 in any financial year. In the White Paper, which was published by the former Secretary of State in explanation of the Colonial policy embodied in the Bill, some reference is made to the fact that Parliament may in any year increase the amount available for grants and loans beyond the sum of £5,000,000. It is proposed by the Amendment that the Sub-section under which sums are received back by the Secretary of State should be deleted, in order that if there are any moneys received in respect of interest on loans and advances, that money, instead of going back to the Treasury, can be allowed to accumulate to the fund so as to be available over and above the £5,000,000 which it is proposed that Parliament should make available year by year.

It is because there is some confusion in my own mind as to the intention of the Bill that I support the Amendment. If the Bill strictly limits the amount available in any one year to £5,000,000, it seems to be inconsistent with the declaration in the White Paper. I suggest that if there should be repayment of principal in respect of loans, or interest received on loans made, that money should also be made available in addition to the £5,000,000 which is visualised in the Bill. I would ask the Under-Secretary what it is precisely that the Colonial Secretary has in mind.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Ammon

May I follow up the point which has been put by carrying it a little further? As I read the Bill, there is a maximum amount of £5,000,000 which can be paid out, but there is no guarantee that that amount need be expended. It seems that this is very much the same position as that in which a Government Department brings money into its Budget under certain headings and an amount of money is allocated to Vote A, but is not expended, and it is not possible to transfer that to Vote 8. For various reasons grants might be held up and money might not be expended, so that at the end of 12 months, instead of having money in reserve, they would not get the money formerly voted. Perhaps the Under-Secretary can tell us whether it will be possible to come to the House and get permission to spend the money. If so, I suggest that that would not be possible without another Act of Parliament. It is particularly important during war years to remember that it might be well to expend money as a long-range investment and for the good of the economic position of the Colonies. If people are to be hindered in the expenditure of money voted and they cannot hold it over from year to year, it seems that it will be a considerable obstacle to getting the maximum amount of benefit out of the Bill. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us, as regards money not expended, whether it will be possible to assume control of it again without an Act of Parliament involving a good deal of unnecessary and cumbrous machinery.

6.22 p.m.

Sir Annesley Somerville (Windsor)

This is a point which came up with regard to the Empire Settlement Act. That Act of 1924 provided a sum of £3,000,000 a year to be spent in the encouragement of Empire settlement. As a matter of fact, not one-seventh, possibly not one-tenth, of the amount that could have been spent was spent under that Act. Here we have much the same point. An amount of £5,000,000 a year is provided by this Bill for the development of the Colonies. The matter depends largely on the spirit and enterprise with which this money is spent. If there is a really vigorous intention and purpose to provide the necessary development, then there will be very small balances at the end of each year. If not, there will be large balances, and they will, under the Bill as drafted, come back to the Treasury. I can quite understand the anxiety of those who wish to see a Bill made really useful and see that the money should be fully and usefully spent. I think it would be well that there should be expenditure of this money. If there was a possibility that the money would not be spent and could be recovered for future years, it would be all to the good. Perhaps the Minister will say a word of explanation.

6.24 p.m.

Sir S. Reed

We have reached such a happy stage of unanimity on this Bill that I hope it will not be broken now, but I find it hard to accept the Amendment in the form in which it stands. If this Amendment was designed to secure what the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) has in the back of his mind—the creation of a pool which would be available for development over and above £5,000,000 a year—I think we should be in agreement, but as it stands the elimination of the Sub-section would mean that in exceptional cases, in the application of these funds, a recipient Colony attaining a high measure of prosperity without hindering development would evade interest on sinking-fund charges. If I understood the hon. Member for North Camber well (Mr. Ammon), his point is entirely different. His point is the doctrine of the lapsed grant, and I think that in his own experience he will agree that it is the most costly, obstructive, wasteful and disastrous policy ever adopted by any financial authority in the history of the world. Millions of money have been wasted on public works through this doctrine of the lapsed grant. However, we will leave it to the Minister to crystallize our general view into such proposals as may commend themselves to him and his colleague on the intermediate stage of this Measure.

6.27 p.m.

Mr. George Hall

Here again I am afraid I must part company with my hon. Friends, for the Amendment must be resisted. The purpose of the Bill is to provide an annual expenditure of £5,000,000 a year on development and welfare and £500,000 upon research, for 10 years, making a total amount of £5,500,000. It is not a question of a fund into which £5,000,000 a year is to be paid. It is for purposes of development, welfare and research, and it is the intention of the Colonial Office when times become normal to try and ensure that an annual sum of this kind will be a spur to the Colonies to use up the amount of money which is available. I can see the point which has been put by my hon. Friends. The same point was put by the hon. Member for Was all (Sir G. Schuster) on the Second Reading. It was that where loans are granted interest and repayment on capital shall add to the expenditure of the year in which the amount is to be paid. Whilst it is the intention of the Colonial Office to give certain loans, I think the loans will be small in proportion to the amount of grants which will be given. That, of course, does not alter the principle which my hon. Friends have in mind. They will remember that in the White Paper, in the statement by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, it is clearly pointed out that if at any time it is discovered that sums mentioned in the Bill are inadequate for the purposes intended, we shall have to come to the House to increase the amounts beyond those specified in the Bill. I think my hon. Friends can take it that there will be little hesitation in coining to the House for any increases which can be usefully spent. It must be remembered that in normal years the full amount will be spent—

Mr. Riley

Would it not be much easier, therefore, if, through this Amendment, repayment of any loan or interest upon loans accrued to the fund for development, thereby avoiding coming to the House for additional amounts?

Mr. Hall

I am not an expert on Parliamentary procedure, but I would point out that this is not a fund in the sense that you can hold balances over from one year to another. It is an annual grant, which will be voted to meet expenditure which has been agreed upon in the Colonies. That is one reason why we cannot accept the Amendment, and another reason is that in its present form it will act as an incentive to the Colonies to use up the amount of money which is available. £5,000,000 a year is a sub-stantial sum; with the addition of the £500,000 it will mean in 10 years an amount of £55,000,000. I hope that we are not going to have any division of opinion now and that the explanation I have given will be considered satisfactory.

Mr. David Adams

I am not clear after the explanation of the Under-Secretary of State. It is rather a remarkable Sub-section. It says: Any sums received by the Secretary of State by way of interest on or repayment of the principal of any loan made in pursuance of any scheme under this Section shall be paid into the Exchequer. We are not making a loan.

Mr. Hall

The Bill also provides for a loan.

Mr. Adams

I understand that, but the Colonies may be induced to get on with the expenditure. It is a remarkable position. In the Bill it is provided that the principal on large sums which are owing is to be remitted to the various Colonies concerned, while the Sub-section says that any moneys received by way of loans must be remitted to the Treasury. There seems to be a contradiction.

6.35 p.m.

Sir Robert Tasker (Holborn)

I want to put one point to the Under-Secretary of State. I want to know what provision is being made to safeguard the situation in which a sum of money granted for a specific purpose has not been spent, or only a small proportion of it, during the year and the Colony decides to get rid of it and prevent it going back to the Treasury. What is there to safeguard such a position? In the War Office you get a block grant, and the principle there is never to return any money to the Treasury.

Mr. Hall

The money will be given for schemes approved by the Secretary of State and the Treasury. The scheme may take three or four years to complete. An estimate will be made each year of the approximate expenditure which is likely to accrue. If a scheme costing £250,000 takes three years to complete and £50,000 is spent in the first year and £100,000 in the next two years, the Treasury will find the money which is likely to be spent in each year. There will be no inducement to spend more than the estimated expenditure for one year, and there will be very little money left over and accruing to the Treasury because the Treasury is finding the money as it is spent each year.

6.35 p.m.

Sir S. Reed

The point is this. You make a grant of £100,000 which it is estimated will be spent in that year, but owing to unforeseen difficulties only £60,000 is spent wisely and well. What is going to happen to the other £40,000? Is that going to the Treasury or to remain at the disposal of the Colony concerned? The point is rather important, because if it is to return to the Treasury there is an irresistible temptation on the party concerned to rush into wasteful expenditure in order to get rid of the money so that there shall be nothing left to revert to the Treasury. It is the lapsed grant again. What we wish is that when the money is voted it shall be a definite and complete vote, and that if there are delays in carrying out the work the money shall not lapse but remain at the disposal of the authority whose work has been sanctioned.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.