HC Deb 16 July 1941 vol 373 cc647-8

Considered in Committee, and reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Mr. David Adams (Consett)

There is one comment that I should like to make before the Bill passes. I am in cordial agreement with it and regard it as imperatively necessary that this protection should be accorded against enemy action, but it will be noted that the United Kingdom is undertaking to meet the liabilities under this Measure where the Colonies concerned appear to be unable to meet those liabilities themselves. It is very well known that by no means has the limit of reasonable taxation been reached in certain of those Colonies, and it would appear to be inequitable that taxpayers in the United Kingdom, who are already burdened to the limit, should be called upon in such contingencies to meet the liabilities that I have indicated. I desire, therefore, that the Colonial Office should indicate to the respective Colonial Governors the view of this House that, where taxation is not at present reasonable, steps ought to be and shall be taken to see that a reasonable limit is imposed.

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

My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension with regard to the scope of the Bill. A Colony that is likely to be affected as the result of war operations will have a scheme which will provide for premiums to be charged and put into the Colonial Fund as a guarantee covering any money that may be advanced out of the Fund to meet any temporary emergency. The premiums will continue to be paid until such time as the money advanced by the Colonial Office or the Exchequer is refunded, and by that means we are hoping that there will be no charge at all on the British taxpayer. The scheme is such that it should be self-supporting and is only to tide over some liability which the Fund is not sufficiently large to discharge.

Mr. Adams

That somewhat clears up the position, but it is a fact that again and again, as far as the Colonial Empire is concerned, moneys which have been advanced and which were intended to be repaid have in fact been written off and not repaid.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.