§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.7 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The Bill affords an opportunity which Malta needs for facing her reconstruction period, and planning her economic and social policy. This week the Government have made a pronouncement regarding their views on the future of responsible government in that Colony. That provides a basis for constitutional development and political institutions in that Island. Our purpose today is to provide financial recources, so that the basis for sound responsible government can be properly laid.
486 I am sure the whole House feel a great debt of gratitude towards the people of Malta for their heroic endeavour and courage during the tragic period through which Europe has passed. We are anxious that some practical recognition of our gratitude should be given, and that an adequate basis should now be afforded to Malta for responsible government. She endured two and a half years of siege, and maintained herself under the most trying conditions, amid great damage and wholesale destruction, and the work of reconstruction must now proceed. During the last year of so, very considerable thought has been given to the problems of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the island to the cost, and to plans for the work requiring to be done. In May 1945, the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) sent Sir Wilfrid Woods to make an inquiry as to the financial basis, and an economic survey of possibilities for reconstruction in the postwar period. I would like to express our very profound regret at the death, the other day, of Sir Wilfrid Woods, who has from time to time rendered us very considerable service. I think the House will agree that his Report covers a very wide field, and is concerned with a very complicated situation. Sir Wilfrid Woods was invited to examine the present, and prospective, financial position of the Malta Government in the light of the policy of His Majesty's Government for granting responsible government after the war. The statement which was made at the time clearly showed that this problem was one of very considerable difficulty, and that obviously the former grant which had been made was inadequate for the situation which required to be dealt with in the postwar period. In November, 1942, Parliament had been asked to make a gift of £10,000,000 for this work, and that was done for the purpose of restoration of war damage and the rebuilding of Malta after the war. That statement contained the assurance:If the total liability of the Malta Government for compensation and rebuilding, after allowing for contributions from private owners, exceeds the sum of £TO,000.000, His Majesty's Government will be prepared to make available such further sums as may be required to meet liabilities, which are found, in the circumstances existing after the war, to be beyond the capacity of the Government of Malta to meet from their own resources, having regard to all other calls upon those resources at that time.487 Sir Wilfrid Woods made his able and comprehensive survey and in July, 1946, His Majesty's Government announced what further assistance should be given in all the circumstances. There were two ways open for that assistance to be given. Either it could be given in the form of instalments, as necessary according to the progress of expenditure incurred—such instalments being voted by Parliament—or it could be given in the form of a definite sum, as is proposed within the terms of this Bill. It was felt by the Government at the time that it was better that the contribution to Malta should be in the form of a definite sum because, if the system of instalments were adopted, it would involve a degree of Treasury control. Also, it would possibly create friction from time to time when differences arose between the Government of Malta and His Majesty's Government, and a degree of control in regard to expenditure would be necessary which undoubtedly would be prejudicial to responsible government in Malta itself. For those reasons, it was felt that this additional sum of £20,000,000 should be regarded as a definite charge against the Consolidated Fund; that the payments should be made annually against a reasonable anticipation of expenditure; that the payments should begin when the £10,000,000 gift already made was exhausted; that the grants could be made under Ministerial authority; and that the Ministers in Malta should present their audited statements. They could prepare their programmes of work and they could have a reasonable assurance that they were planning within the financial limitations of the grant and, therefore, could pursue their policies accordingly.
The Woods Report, when it was published, was adopted in Malta, as it has been noted in this country. I would point out that Sir Wilfrid stated in the second paragraph that in writing it he had been obliged to make some large assumptions as to probable future policies. He said:The material furnished in Malta was mainly such as I obtained from public departments in reply to specific inquiries. All possible assistance and facilities were afforded to me in the course of my inquiry, but I found that very few of the many policies which had been discussed had been formulated in detail or had been the subject of even an approximate estimate of the cost involved. Consequently the estimates used in this report are highly specu- 488 lative and neither they nor, in most cases, the schemes to which they relate have had the seal of formal approval by the Government of Malta placed upon them.Of course, there were high hopes in Malta as to the extent of the assistance which His Majesty's Government could give to the Island. Undoubtedly, from time to time there were expressed views of expectancy which were of unlimited finances and which, obviously, were never in the minds of His Majesty's Government when they agreed to come to the aid and assistance of Malta during this postwar period. The details of the Woods recommendation, which cover a pretty wide field, are set out on pages 2, 3 and 4 of his Report. It is hardly necessary at this point that I should examine them. He estimates that a sum of probably £42,437,000 would be required if the anticipated Budget deficits in Malta during the next year or so were to be covered, and if activities connected with water supply, sewers, health development, educational development, town improvement, war damage compensation, social services and general reconstruction work were to proceed. He added that he thought that £42,000,000 was a sum in excess of anything which His Majesty's Government could reasonably be asked to meet.
His figure of £42,000,000 was made up of £10,000,000 for reconstruction; £28,800,000 for war damage; £3,057,000 for social welfare and development; and £581,000 to cover Budget deficits. What is now proposed is that for war damage and reconstruction, and other services, provision by this Bill will be of the order of roughly £20,000,000, which must be related to the £10,000,000 already granted, and a further £1,000,000 which will accumulate in interest on the £10,000,000 grant. Therefore, the direct grant is in the neighbourhood of £31,000,000 towards the great work which needs to be done in the Island. I would point out that to this sum of £31,000,000 must be added an allocation of £1,000,000 from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. In addition probably there will be a deficit of £580,000 in regard to the Budget for 1946–47 and 1947–48 which will involve a grant in aid of that amount. Further, there is a commodity subsidy for 1947–48, which will probably amount to something in the neighbourhood of £450,000. All these sums must be taken into account when the degree of assistance which the Government are now offering 489 to Malta is calculated. I should refer, of course, to the statement made in the House in regard to the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. This allocation is an innovation under the 1940 to 1945 Acts and, if Malta is to share in this, the 1940 Act will need to be amended.
The former Secretary of State for the Colonies in July, 1946, said:They realised that the local Government is faced with the need for carrying out a substantial programme of public works in connection with the social services of the Colony: there is an urgent demand for more schools, better hospital facilities, an extended water supply and the like. Under its present constitution Malta could look for assistance under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for these purposes; once responsible Government is restored, it would normally be debarred from the Act itself from benefiting from its provisions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th July, 1946; Vol. 425; c. 66.]The Government, therefore, as an exceptional measure, felt that Malta should have the benefit of the Act by seeking an Amendment to Section 1 (5) of the 1940 Act which lays down thatthe expression 'colony' means a colony not possessing responsible government.If Malta were to enjoy responsible government some modification of the Act would become necessary in order that she should be included.
I would also point out that it is not only the £1,000,000 allocation under the Act which Malta will enjoy, but also a number of essential services which are provided by London. Such things as the training of the Civil Service for Malta, provision and assistance in respect of higher educational development, surveys and research work, which are often necessary in the Colonial areas, are also made available to Malta as a result of the Colonial development arrangements under that Act. It was also pointed out in Julythat the new Constitution shall not be unduly handicapped by the financial burdens thrown on this small community by its gallant part in the war. They for their part can reasonably expect that the Malta Government will spare no exertions to maintain a balanced Budget, though they will be prepared, if necessary, to make some provision by way of grant-in-aid to meet the costs of administration during the financial year 1947–48 in accordance with Sir Wilfred Woods recommendation. They also recognise that the complete cessation of commodity subsidies at the end of the current financial year, as recommended by Sir Wilfrid Woods, might in the 490 circumstances impose an undue burden on the Government and people of Malta. They are, therefore, prepared to meet one-half of whatever provision for such subsidies in the Malta estimates for 1947–48 is agreed to be necessary, subject to a maximum contribution of £450,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th July, 1946; Vol. 425, c. 67.]Therefore, these additional sums must be taken into consideration alongside the £20 million and the provision of the £10 million gift which was guaranteed in 1942.
Of the £10,000,000 free gift so far, as I announced in the House on Wednesday last, £3,749,300 has already been expended on war damage compensation, new buildings, housing schemes and the clearing of debris and of that expenditure no less than £848,000 has been incurred in the United Kingdom. Already some comprehensive plans have been prepared for the reconstruction of Valetta and three other towns, and it is hoped that these will be the basis of the town planning arrangements in the immediate future. Though the provision which the Government make falls short of the Woods estimate by about £9 million, I would point out to the House that this expenditure of £33 million will probably be spaced out over a period of one or two decades. Certainly there will be a series of programmes probably extending into 15 or more years. It is now the responsibility of the Malta Government to plan to make their own social programme in the light of the asistance we can give to the Island, to balance the Budget, and also to do what I think all of us will agree to be very necessary, to get an equitable balance between direct and indirect taxation, because the time is ripe for the introduction in Malta of Income Tax and other forms of direct taxation.
I think the House will agree, considering the very difficult economic and financial problems confronting His Majesty's Government at the present time, that this does represent a very substantial contribution. It certainly will encourage responsibility in Malta; it will prove to be of very great benefit in the economy of the country and in the development of its taxable resources; and it will also give the necessary incentive to the Malta Government as they assume responsibility for careful and economic expenditure in regard to their requirements in the immediate future.
491 I understand that some objection has been taken to the Bill on the ground that the financial provision ought not to be final and that the Billimposes upon the British taxpayer the burden of paying financial reparations to Malta for damage done by Italy and does not provide Italian labour and materials for the repair of damaged, and reconstruction of destroyed, buildings in the colony.I would only point out to the House that this and previous Governments have made a pledge which they feel all of us desire must be properly honoured, and we feel that it would be an unfortunate thing if a Clause in a particular Treaty which has not been discussed in the House should be made the occasion for obstructing what appears to us to be a very necessary recognition of an heroic struggle and an expression of our own gratitude to a people whose country was badly damaged in the great struggle in which so many nations were engaged. I would also point out that it would be impossible, impracticable, and politically inexpedient at the present time to get labour from outside for Malta, particularly as the Island has its own problem of unemployment with regard to the dockyard, and labour is gradually being diverted. Also, it has a population which is possibly too large for the somewhat limited resources of the Island itself.
On the further point as to whether this constitutes a final payment or not, I should like to report to the House that this morning I have received a telegram from the Governor in which he tells me he received a request several days ago that the National Assembly should be resummoned in order to express some views on the Bill which is before the House today. It was resummoned and the members passed a resolution, which is contained in the telegram on behalf of the National Assembly and is:The Constitutional Committee have considered the reply from the right hon. Secretary of State for the Colonies and consider the proposed terms regarding finality as unsatisfactory in view of the fluent costs of labour and material and it is not possble to assess now the eventual final cost of reconstruction and assembly. Therefore, it repeats its request for the matter to be left open for further discussion if necessary.I thought that the House should be put in possession of that telegram, because I notice that this is a matter of some concern to hon. Members in various parts 492 of the House. I would like to say, and the House to recognise, that the grant which is made available as a result of this Bill is not likely to be exhausted for a very considerable time ahead, that it affords, at the moment, a very substantial basis for social and economic planning, and that it enables the Government to make long-term policies, to look well ahead and to get on with the great tasks which now confront them. It is the view of the Government that the £33 million which now becomes available should be regarded as a final payment, although it is possible that the House later on, when it comes to consider the working of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, may increase the money available under that Act, and thereby enable Malta to share in the new allocations. That is a possibility, but one cannot pledge Parliament as to what it will do in the future. However, I make the point for what it is worth.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
I am not sure whether I understand the right hon. Gentleman. Are the present Government bound by the pledge that was given during the war that the whole of the war damage would be borne by the Imperial Government? Are the Government going back on that promise in any way?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
No, the Government are not going back on the pledge that was given, but I would ask the hon. Member carefully to read the pledge. It was not so comprehensive as that. I have already read to the House the statement which said:If the total liability … after allowing for contributions from private owners exceeds the sum of £10 million, His Majesty's Government will be prepared to make available such further sums as may be required to meet liabilities which are found in the circumstances as existing after the war to be beyond the capacity of the Government of Malta to meet from its own resources, having regard to all other calls upon those resources at that time.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
If when the war damage is finally repaired, it should be found to have cost, say, £35 million, and that £35 million is beyond the capacity of Malta to bear, would the Government then increase the sum now being voted in order to meet the whole of that cost? From our point of view, that is the whole point.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
This point cannot possibly arise, as far as this Government are concerned, for the simple reason that this money cannot be exhausted, however extravagant the planning in Malta may be, for another decade or so Therefore, it would be wrong for us to pledge what a future Government ten, 15 or 20 years hence may do in hypothetical circumstances.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
Surely, if we are not to carry out the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman has just read, whatever Government is in power, then we are going back on our word? It is not a question of ten, 15 or 20 years; we should meet the expenditure which is necessary.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
At this point, it is really impossible to form any exact judgment as to the degree of expenditure which the Malta Government will be called upon to meet. What the pledge did say was that regard must be had to the capacity of the Government of Malta to meet its responsibilities. No one would suggest that the full burden of reconstruction and of developing social services in Malta should fall upon the shoulders of the British taxpayer. Therefore, it becomes necessary for us to say to Malta that if assistance in education, social insurance and all those other developments should go on, which is the desire of the people of Malta, at least part of that cost should be found in Malta itself, and, further, that the taxable income of Malta should increase. These contributions which we are making today to the economic life of Malta will increase the taxable capacity.
As I have already said, we must all recognise that Malta, in common with most other Western democracies, should extend in her budgeting the principle of direct taxation. There should be Income Tax, and it is only fair to say that part of this cost must fall, and should fall, on Malta itself. In any case, I think that the House must agree that, considering our own financial difficulties, a contribution in the neighbourhood of £33 million is reasonably generous. It places decision and responsibility on the Maltese Ministers in regard to their planning; it provides the necessary incentive for economic expenditure, and, I think it can be said truthfully, it affords the local Government 494 its great opportunity. Finally, we are glad to make this practical contribution to the life of Malta. She shared in the common struggle for the preservation of freedom, her own freedom as well as the freedom of others and that of the world. In the light of the explanation that I have given, I hope that the House will give the Bill a unanimous Second Reading.
§ 11.38 a.m.
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
I should like to join with the Secretary of State in adding my tribute to the people of Malta. Much has been said of the way in which they withstood siege, bombardment and starvation. Now many of their homes are ruined We also owe a great duty to the children. Last Saturday I saw in the centre of Malta some of those who are suffering from infantile paralysis, and no Englishman could see those children without feeling a great debt of gratitude for the way their parents stood by our side in our trials. This country has a debt of honour to these children and to the people of Malta. It must be remembered that they placed themselves voluntarily under the British Crown in 1799. As the right hon. Gentleman said, on 10th November, 1942, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he proposed to make a free gift of £10 million to provide compensation for war damage, as well as other expenses incidental to postwar rebuilding. He went on to add that if £10 million was not enough, further sums might be required to meet liabilities which were found to be beyond the capacity of Malta to provide, and that His Majesty's Government would be prepared to make available such further sums.
But what has been happening during the last two years since we finished the war and since we made a solemn pledge? In May, 1945, as the right hon. Gentleman said, Sir Wilfrid Woods went out to Malta, and he came back in July, 1945, and wrote his Report, and sent it to the Secretary of State on 6th September, 1945. The elections in Malta took place in November, and the Maltese asked for this Report to be laid before them That was not done. December, January, March, April and May passed, and still the Report had not been published. On 2nd May another Commissioner was sent out, Sir Harold MacMichael. Those elections that had taken place were not contested by all the political parties in Malta. 495 The Labour Party gained eight seats, and one independent was elected; there were eight Labour and one independent. About 30 per cent. of the electorate voted. What did Sir Harold MacMichael find when he got to Malta? He says in his Report on page 13:During the days which followed I was able to make many informal contacts with individuals and groups among all classes of the population. No progress could, however, be made with formal business, since it was clear that public opinion favoured some elucidation of the financial background before committing its representatives to discussion of constitutional issues, and, until the contents of the Woods Report and the extent of the assistance which might be expected from His Majesty's Government were known, this background remained obscure.I certainly agree it was obscure.On 15th May I was able to arrange my first meeting with this body (three of its members were unable to attend) and on your instructions, I handed to them in confidence copies of the Woods Report.I want to ask why it took nine months to publish that Report. Anyhow, it was published as a Colonial Office publication. We want to get this commitment clear to the House. Not all the Maltese representatives whom he saw were elected. They were Mr. Torregiani, a business man, not a Socialist, Dr. Boffa, leader of the Labour Party, and Mr. Miller, secretary of the G.W.U. They maintained that war damage should be paid in full. I must point out that Sir Harold MacMichael was not negotiating with a democratically representative body. Anyhow, on 9th July, 1946, the Secretary of State made a statement here. I may be stupid; but I do not think any person reading that statement would suppose that this sum of money was intended to be a final quittance or settlement. Nor did the people of Malta. I found a good deal of disquiet in their ranks on this subject.
On 25th September, 1945, the National Assembly asked the Secretary of State if he would keep the financial question open, and on nth December tie right hon. Gentleman printed this Bill. There is nothing in it that tells the House this is a final settlement. This has been sprung on the House at the last moment, in my opinion. The attitude taken has been that this is an innocuous Bill, and I begin to feel that the House has been hoodwinked —and the Press, too. On 17th January, when I was in Malta, this letter appeared. 496 It was addressed to the Secretary of the National Assembly in answer to a letter of 25th September. It seems a long time to have taken to answer a letter of 25th September. The letter said:I am directed by His Excellency the Governor to state that he has been requested by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to inform you that he has received and considered the National Assembly's resolution forwarded under cover of your letter of 25th September, 1946. The Secretary of State would be glad if you would communicate the following reply to the National Assembly.I will not read the whole letter, but it goes on to say:His Majesty's Government do not feel able to accept the Assembly's suggestion that the financial terms as announced should be regarded as subject to further negotiations at a later stage.So this Bill is put before the House, and the Government, who are morally pledged, are about to break that pledge, and to do untold harm to the name of England and everything it stands for in the Empire. Only in the local Maltese Press, and in a Colonial Office publication, both made public less than a week ago, at the last moment, has the situation become anything like clear.
Now, what are the contents of Sir Harold MacMichael's Report concerning the financial negotiations? It, seems to me that we have a muddle in Sarawak, a mess in Malaya, and that there may be disaster in Malta. I would point out that the sum of money is a comparatively small proportion, about £250,000 a year. What are the estimates of meeting war damage and other expenses incidental to postwar planning? I do not believe anybody could make those estimates now. Nobody knows what the costs of raw materials are going to be in five, ten, 15 years' time. Nobody can say how long it will take to rebuild the three cities which have been destroyed. I believe that Sir Wilfrid Woods makes it quite clear that his estimate is only rough. What he does, in fact, is to ignore the cost of clearance and demolition, and also of "stock in hand" in the shops, which the Government in Malta, which is a British Government now, with practically no assistance from elected representatives, has admitted, these two points alone may be another £1,000,000. But let us look and see what he says. He says:A full and final settlement of the question of financial aid from the United King- 497 dom to Malta by payment of a single sum to the Malta Treasury or to trustees would have obvious advantages, but it is not a practical proposition.He goes on to give figures, and the right hon. Gentleman read them out very fairly. But the point is that the war damage is estimated at £26,800,000, and the war damage to property of the Government of Malta is £2,000,000 and reconstruction £10,000,000. What Sir Wilfrid Woods thinks about this question of liability, which is a vital question, on which hon. Members in all parts of the House must be interested, because the honour of our country is at stake, was expressed thus:The Chancellor's statement is generally interpreted in Malta as containing an undertaking to make available any further sum over and above the £10,000,000 already assured which may be required, unless Malta's own resources are capable of bearing the additional burden it and when it presents itself. This seems to be a reasonable interpretation of the statement, but if it is accepted it becomes a practical certainty that the total commitment of His Majesty's Government will greatly exceed £10,000,000. It may be trebled or even more than trebled.I am very suspicious as to why it took so long to get this Report published and made public. Anyhow, we have a liability which cannot be shirked. What is going to be the effect in America if we behave like this? Is it going to be good? I very much doubt it.
Let us look at Malta's resources, and see what they are. Only one eighth of the wealth of the people of Malta is real wealth, the rest is in earned services, and by money coming in from emigrants who go out of the country. Sir Wilfrid Woods sums it up most ably on page'10 of his Report:It is impossible to arrive at any reliable figure to represent Malta's future national income. I should say explicitly, though it is sufficiently implied in what I have said already, that if there was a really drastic reduction of the total employment afforded by the Dockyard and other Service activities the national income could not be kept at the level I have suggested as probable and the revenue-raising capacity of Malta would be diminished proportionately.I do not know what the total number is now, but since that Report was written the numbers in the dockyard have decreased considerably, and men have been discharged from the dockyard. I want to make the point strongly, because this is a situation for the Government, and 498 those concerned with reabsorbing this labour.
What is the labour situation? The population has gone up 30,000 in seven years during the war. That is a pretty big rise in a population of 250,000. It is now going up at the rate of 5,000 a year. There is a very high birth rate in Malta. There are 11,000 emigrants who wish to leave Malta, 5,000 of whom want to go to Australia. There can be no question of drafting labour in from outside; it is a question of bringing raw materials in and getting emigrants out, of ensuring full employment in the island and the maximum use of the Maltese labour force. The question may very pertinently be raised as to where these raw materials are to come from, because if they can be acquired from some source other than the United Kingdom it will greatly reduce the burden on ourselves. I want to put to the Secretary of State a point about the way things happen in the Empire. The Admiralty sent out an order to Malta which was interpreted as meaning that there should be a five-day week. It was cancelled, and there was a strike in Malta.
§ The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Walter Edwards)
May I point out that the Admiralty did not send out any such signal? So far as the 44-hour week is concerned, the Admiralty's instructions were to consider the situation with the Governor and to take all factors into account before applying the five-day week. The signal did say that the 44-hour week should be worked from 6th January.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
What happened in the Malta Dockyard was that some message got out, and the impression was given to the workers, rightly or wrongly— I will not stress the point, because I have not the quotations with me—that His Majesty's Government had changed their minds. A local paper said in effect," If you want to get your way with Englishmen, flog some British officers." It is unfortunate that such impressions should be given.
If we go on with this policy of breaking our pledge we are helping the anti-British people in Malta, for there is anti-British feeling. There is also the majority of pro-British feeling, but it is pretty shaky at the moment. I will read out the concluding sentence of a letter from the 499 Labour leader to the right hon. Gentleman. He says:No small doubts axe being cast on Great Britain's traditional ideas of fair play by the refusal of the British Government to accede to the sensible demand for postponement until conditions return to normal. It would serve no useful purpose for Great Britain to stick to a wrong decision when on the eve of self-government the people of Malta are unanimously determined not to accept the views of the British Exchequer as final.They sent copies of that letter to Members of this House, and a very similar telegram was sent by the Chairman of the People's Party to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I cannot help saying, and it needs to be said, that I believe that on this occasion His Majesty's Government have been clumsy, shifty and unskilful, and I believe that if the House gives a Second Reading to this Bill it will be dishonest.
§ 11.54 a.m.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
I hope all sections of the House realise the seriousness of the issue which is now before us. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing this Bill, tried to slip it through as if it did not very much matter, as though it were a question on which we were all agreed. I cannot accept that, especially after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and unless we can get a very different assurance from the right hon. Gentleman who will wind up I for one cannot vote for this Bill. I shall certainly vote against it, not because I wish in any way to prevent Malta from getting this money, but because I believe it contains a direct contravention of the pledge which this country has given to the people of Malta. The right hon. Gentleman has read out that pledge, which is quite clear and explicit. He went on to say that if the money was not enough possibly some other future Government might increase it, but how can we reconcile that statement with the letter sent by the Lieut.-Governor, in which he said, as my hon. and gallant Friend behind me has just pointed out:His Majesty's Government do not feel able to accept the Assembly's suggestion that the financial terms as announced should be regarded as subject to further negotiations at a later date."?If that means what it says, this is a final payment which is not open to further negotiations, and if that is the interpretation which anybody can put on this letter 500 and which I for one put on it, it is a direct contravention of the pledge given to Malta during the war. If any hon. Member votes for this Bill in its present form he is breaking the good name of Great Britain. I will not vote for it.
May I make another point? A lot of this trouble arises because of the way in which these negotiations have been carried on. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hythe (Brig. Mackeson) has explained that for some reason month? went by before the Report was published. Now the right hon. Gentleman comes here this morning and reads out a telegram which he received today, in which the strongest protest is raised by the people of Malta against being kept in the dark. That is how I understand the telegram. They have not been consulted as to the way in which this money shall in fact be allocated. What is the matter with the Colonial Office nowadays? Why is it so ham-handed in handling all its negotiations throughout the world? We started off with Sarawak, and that was a pretty sorry story, the end of which we have not yet heard; then we have had Malaya, in which the Colonial Office has had to eat its own words and go back on everything it said at the beginning; and as for the story of Palestine one hardly cares to mention it today, so serious is it in all its implications. With regard to the handling of Imperial Preference, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have just come back from Jamaica, and if there is one thing that annoys the people of Jamaica, of all political parties, it is that a half promise was given to the United States to consider Imperial Preference without any consultations whatever.
§ Mr. Gammans
I was only giving it as an illustration. Why have not the people of Malta been brought into this from the very beginning? They are not a bunch of mendicants coming to Great Britain for money; they want to feel that we are partners with them and that they are partners with us. I have listened to many speeches from the right hon. Gentleman when he used to sit on these Benches, and words that he often used were "the necessity for co-operation and collaboration". I never knew quite what they meant, but certainly in the 501 Colonial Empire today people do not feel that they are getting any co-operation or collaboration from the right hon. Gentleman. In fact, go where you will and receive what letters you like from all parts of the Empire, you will hear that the policy of His Majesty's Government today represents dictatorial domination from Downing Street of a type they have not known for the last 50 years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to disagree; that is the way in which this sort of treatment is regarded when negotiations and statements are made without any real co-operation.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The people of Malta, through their representatives, were taken into consultation in regard to the proposals made in the Wilfrid Woods Report.
§ Mr. Gammans
Why then does the right hon. Gentleman get the sort of telegram he got this morning? That does not suggest that they are happy about the way in which their views are considered, nor does it suggest that there was any real attempt to co-operate with public opinion in Malta. Important as it is in the long run, I think that this is a comparatively minor consideration. What matters today, and what hon. Members should consider, is whether or not the pledge which we gave during the war, in clear and unmistakable terms, has been contravened. Unless I can get some further assurance from the right hon. Gentleman, who I imagine is having trouble with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I shall vote against this Bill.
§ 12 noon.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams (Croydon, South)
As I understand it, this Bill has two different purposes. The first purpose is contained in Clauses 1 and 2, which deal with compensation for war damage, and the second purpose is covered by Clause 3, which deals with development and social welfare. On the question of compensation and rebuilding, the point at issue between the two sides of the House appears to be whether we shall grant a fixed sum now, or whether there shall be a fund out of which money can be drawn.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
That is not the question—whether there shall be a fixed sum now, or whether it shall go on from time to time. The fixed sum is a permanent sum, and nothing further can be done after it is settled.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
"A fixed sum now" is what I said. On this question of a fixed sum, no one on these Benches is in any way at issue with the party opposite in regard to our obligations to the people of Malta, and we fully subscribe to everything that has been said, but there are various considerations which make it desirable to have a definite fixed sum in a Bill of this kind. If there is no fixed sum, then there will be interference, supervision and checking by the Treasury; every item of expenditure will have to be justified to Treasury officials in this country. At a time when the Colony is about to receive self-government, this would seem to be inappropriate and would also be irritating. It is desirable that the people of Malta shall stand on their own feet, and that they shall tax themselves to make up a proper Budget, which they have not had for the last few years. The pledge is not in the wide terms which are alleged. The pledge simply says:His Majesty's Government will be prepared to make available such further sums—That is further sums over £10,000,000—as may be required to meet the liabilities which are found, in the circumstances that exist after the war, to be beyond the capacity of the Government of Malta to meet from its own resources, having regard to all other calls upon these resources at the time.We do not know what are the Maltese Government's resources because Malta has not as yet got direct taxation. When Malta has direct taxation, they will be in a position to say that they have £30,000,000 to play with for rebuilding purposes, and they can then assess what they will have to raise to cover any outstanding deficits there may be in other directions. The Opposition's point, therefore, is one of sound and fury, and there is nothing in it at all. Furthermore, this sum of £30,000,000 will not be expended for at least 20 or 30 years, and as I hope I have shown, the final amount to be drawn cannot be assessed until the Maltese have taxed themselves.
§ Mr. Stanley
Cannot the hon. Member draw a distinction between the two parts —one part is in regard to war damage, over which we have given a pledge, and the other is in regard to restoration? Both are mixed up together, and that is really the reason for this confusion.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I think it is a confusion among hon. Members opposite. As I have already stated, the pledge is that 503 we shall provide a further sum after the Government of Malta have found out what their resources are. What I am trying to point out is that the Government of Malta must under the pledge take certain action to find out what their resources are, and when these resources are exhausted, then they would come upon the fund. In this case, as they are not likely to exhaust the fund until 30 years' time, all this talk about imperial dictatorship is just sound and fury, which comes badly from the party opposite who have brought the Empire to the brink of ruin, and whose omissions in the imperial field we have great trouble in rectifying at this stage.
The matter which interests me far more arises out of Clause 3, which deals with the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. This is an important question, and there are some matters I should like to put to the Secretary of State which arise out of it. I read very carefully the Debates which took place in 1940, in which the present Secretary of. State took part. This fund is not to be used in cases where Colonies have self-government or responsible government. Strangely enough, no mention of responsible government was made in the 1940 Debates and the reason for the qualification. I presume territories having responsible government were omitted from the scope of the Act because responsible government was felt to be irreconcilable with the Secretary of State's duties under the Act. I should like, therefore, to ask what is "responsible government" under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, and at what stage is a Colony to be regarded as being excluded from its benefits? Are we departing from the principles of that Act in applying moneys arising out of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to a Crown Colony, which is now becoming a dyarchy, and is this to be used as a precedent in future? Thirdly, how much is Malta to receive out of the fund? The Secretary of State mentioned the sum of £1 million in his opening speech. As far as I can see, the Government can allocate to Malta what they like, but it is obviously a limited fund, and if territories such as Malta receive a substantial amount, other territories will therefore suffer. I hope that nothing I have said will in any way detract from my great admiration for Malta. Certainly, we on this side want to honour the obligation 504 that the Government of 1942 undertook. We think we are honouring it, and that this is the most practical way of so doing.
§ 12.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
I would like to begin by making it quite plain that in the criticisms I shall make I fully recognise that during the war an obligation was undertaken, on behalf of this country, that we would see that Malta was provided with the finances necessary for rebuilding the island. I regard that as a binding undertaking on this Government, as on any other Government, and I am hoping, like other Members on this side of the House, that before this Debate concludes we may have an undertaking from the Government that, if this sum of money proves to be inadequate for carrying out the pledge that was given, it will not be regarded as a final payment. I regard the pledge as being, in effect, a guarantee of indemnity, that we would see that the money was provided.
I want to say a few things to the Secretary of State, rather in his capacity as a Cabinet Minister and a member of the Government than in his capacity as Colonial Secretary. Here, we are confronted with a bill which the people of this country will have to foot because of the unsatisfactory terms of the Italian Treaty. The whole of the destruction of Malta was done by enemy aircraft based on Italy. A great part of it was done by the Italians themselves, and the rest was done by the Germans, whose aircraft were based on Italy. For a year we faced alone the whole of the malice of Italy. The great Italian campaign, in its early stages, was fought entirely between Italy and ourselves. Not only was there great destruction from the air, but there was also great destruction by Italian surface craft and submarines. Yet, in the draft Treaty, there is no provision whatsoever for any reparations to be paid to this country and the British Empire, or Malta. Russia is to receive £25 million—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member is getting rather wide of the subject. He cannot discuss the whole of the Peace Treaties, and Russia's reparations, on this Bill.
§ Mr. Molson
With great respect, Sir, the point I am seeking to make is that this Bill imposes a charge on the taxpayers of the country which, in equity, ought to be borne by the Italians, who were 505 responsible for this damage. I submit that that is a point which is relevant in the Debate on this Bill.
§ Mr. Speaker
So far as that goes it is relevant, but to discuss the whole details of the Treaties which Russia has made, and so on, would be going far outside the scope of this Bill.
§ Mr. Molson
In that case, I will confine myself to saying that it is a remarkable thing that when a peace treaty provides for reparations to be paid to our Allies, no provision should be made for any reparations to the British Empire to cover this great amount of damage which was done to the Island of Malta.
I do not know whether the Financial Secretary to the Treasury intends to intervene in the Debate, but if he does perhaps he will explain how it is anticipated that sterling in this country will be made available for the reconstruction of buildings in Malta. Obviously, sterling itself is of no value for that purpose; it is a question of acquiring the raw materials that are required. I put down a Question to the Secretary of State to ask how much of the existing gift of £10 million had been expended, and I obtained from him particulars as to where it had been expended. Are the building materials to be sent out from this country to any appreciable extent? At present, that is a very serious bottleneck in the provision of building materials for our own housing campaign. I was not surprised to find that only £800,000 of the last gift had been expended in this country. What has happened is that we have been obliged to buy all kinds of building materials from Italy, the United States, and other foreign countries. It is the British taxpayer who is being called upon to pay, by these purchases in Italy, for the reconstruction of damage that was done by Italian bombs. For the purchase of materials in countries like the United States it means that there will have to be a further increase in British exports to meet the cost. I would, therefore, ask the Government to say, plainly and explicitly, how they intend to make available to the Government of Malta the raw materials which will be required, and which will be paid for out of the money voted by this Bill. Finally, I protest most strongly against a burden of this kind being put upon the British taxpayer when it ought to be paid by those who are responsible for the damage done, and who were defeated in the war.
§ 12.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
I welcome very much the fact that there is no discord on either side of the House that this is a debt of honour which we owe to Malta, and one which we are determined to discharge. I only regret that in this Debate we are not of the same mood as when the former Secretary of State for the Colonies, now the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), presented his Civil Estimates, in 1942. In that Debate, the right hon. Gentleman said that he could not imagine that any Committee had ever voted such a large sum with so much readiness and so much satisfaction. I think we are all agreed that the contribution of Malta to our Imperial defence' during the war was one of the most remarkable feats in the history of the British Empire. We should remember that in making this contribution to Malta we are making a contribution to an associate and an Ally, as well as to a Colony, which, by history and geography, has been joined as a permanent link in our Imperial communications. At the same time, I cannot agree with the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) when he said that in order to discharge this debt of honour to Malta we should, therefore, go back on our undertaking to Italy. During the war, we promised the Italians that they would be allowed to work their passage, and I feel that it would be a very deplorable thing if the traveller, at the end of the journey, were to be thrown into chains and then presented with a bill for his transport.
§ Mr. Molson
Would the hon. Gentleman say why it is permissible for Italy to be chargeable for reparations to Russia, and other countries, and not to the British Empire?
§ Mr. Edelman
I will deal with that in a moment but, in the meantime, I will quote what the hon. Gentleman the Member for The High Peak himself said in a Debate during the last Session. He said:I hope that in the matter of reparations we shall continue to take the point of view of Italy in international conferences. This country, which has suffered more than any of the Allies except France from the intervention of Italy in the war under Fascist domination, is not making any demands upon Italy for reparations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th May. 1946; Vol. 423, c. 954.]507 I feel that we can all associate ourselves with that view because, after all, if Italy is to return to democracy and to enter once again into the family of Western nations, we have a duty to discharge to her. Equally, if we, are to have a satisfactory strategic position in the Mediterranean in which Malta will continue to function as a link in our defences, it is incumbent that we should have a friendly Italy, not a sullen Italy, bankrupt and unable to co-operate with us in the defence of our Commonwealth and Empire.
If I may be permitted to do so in connection with the question of whether Italy should pay reparations to Malta, I would quote also what the Foreign Secretary said not long ago. I feel this answers the question raised by the hon. Member for The High Peak as to why we considered it just and proper not to exact reparations from Italy when the Russians did so. The Foreign Secretary said:If Italy is called upon to make reparations deliveries in the form either of existing industrial plant and equipment or of goods from current production, her ability to export and earn foreign exchange will be correspondingly reduced, and the assistance she will require from abroad will be correspondingly increased … His Majesty's Government cannot be a party to letting the British taxpayer in for a procedure which would, in practice, amount to their money and labour going to a third Government as reparations on Italy's account."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th June, 1946; Vol. 423, c. 1838.]It is obvious that if we continue to give Italy relief and help which, in turn, would be transferred to Malta, we would in effect merely be taking money from the taxpayer's left pocket in order to put it into his right pocket, and no effective contribution would be made towards easing the burden on the British taxpayer.
I would like to refer to the remarkably fine Report of Sir Wilfrid Woods on the finances of Malta, because a close study of that Report will answer some of the questions raised this morning. The crucial question is, what will be Malta's capacity for raising revenue in the coming years? In that Report Sir Wilfrid Woods gives an estimate of what that capacity is likely to be, and says that even if there is direct Income Tax in Malta, the annual revenue is unlikely to rise higher than £3 million per annum. Giving a very modest estimate of expenditure in the coming years, which would 508 offer only a limited amount of the progress and social security which he regards as being desirable. Sir Wilfrid is of opinion that the expenditure in Malta is likely to approach £3 million. Therefore, it is clear that there will be no substantial surplus from revenue to pay either for new construction or for the building of essential works and the provision of services, such as of hospitals, which are today so vitally needed in Malta. Whatever contribution this country makes will be the basic capital contribution which Malta will have in order to develop under her new constitution. The former Secretary of State for the Colonies made it clear—and I believe he was absolutely right in doing so—that if we are to give a new Constitution to Malta, it is no good burdening the infant Constitution with such heavy financial burdens incurred during the war that they will stunt the growth and development of the Colony. It is incumbent upon the Government, in assessing the amount to be contributed to the finances of Malta, to see to it, above all, that their pledge is carried out to the full—the pledge to reconstruct those buildings which were damaged because of the part Malta played in the war.
When the Financial Secretary replies, I hope he will make it clear that our pledge in this matter is absolute—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] that whatever war damage there is will be completely repaired by the contribution which this country can and should make, because it is clear from the figures of Sir Wilfrid Woods that Malta is incapable of making any capital contribution to the reconstruction of old buildings or to the construction of new ones. I hope we shall be unanimous today in deciding that the contribution which His Majesty's Government will make to Malta will fully satisfy all the requirements for the repair of the Island. In addition, I hope there will be ample provision from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund for those new works of social progress in Malta which Sir Wilfrid Woods cannot see any hope of being able to create unless there are adequate subsidies from an outside source.
The payments we make to Malta are in discharge of a debt of honour. They benefit the giver as much as the beneficiary. Whatever the new Constitution of Malta may offer, her future lies in 509 close association with the British Empire. She is an essential part of our Imperial defence, and the good will of the Maltese people—as was proved in the last war— is something of incalculable value which cannot be assessed in sterling. I believe this Bill to be a good one, and consequently I hope this House today will demonstrate that not only is it a token of good will, not only is if a great contribution to the reconstruction of the Island, but it is a promise that Great Britain and Malta will in future have the close, the intimate, and the friendly association which they have had in the past.
§ 12.28 p.m.
§ Sir Stanley Reed (Aylesbury)
I am sorry to introduce into this Debate what, may seem to be a dissident and a rather sordid note but I am convinced that in the years before us the sordid aspects of finance and exchange will be the most grievous and oppressive that this House will have to face. I wish I could see for one moment a clear issue out of our anxieties. I yield to none in my admiration of the contribution that the people of Malta made to the winning of the war, and of the courage and endurance with which they sustained the bitter and heavy attacks of the enemy and, pledge or no pledge, I would say that we should do our utmost to restore the damage which has been wrought, and to raise the social standards of those loyal subjects of the Commonwealth and Empire to the limit of our resources.
I have listened to this Debate, and I have heard nothing about the resources from which these and other payments are to be made. I cannot help thinking that the sinister note struck in the Government White Paper published this week—I use the term "sinister" advisedly—has not come home to the great majority of our people. I feel also that the courageous, wise, and grim warning given us, not for the first time by the President of the Board of Trade has not sunk in either to this House or to our people. J view with grave and unfailing interest any drain on our dollar and sterling resources that can be avoided If the Financial Secretary is to reply I would ask him to tell the House, in the frankest terms, what is to be the effect of these payments, and the payments asked for by warmhearted and generous people in this House, over and above the large sum which is now 510 set aside. Is it thought that when we are scattering millions here and there that a few more millions do not matter? I would remind him of the dictum of one of the greatest Chancellors of the Exchequer who ever lived, Mr. Gladstone, when he said that a Chancellor of the Exchequer who did not look at the candle-ends was not fit to hold his office. I would ask him, now and for the next two years, until we can see our way more clearly as to exactly what will be the effect of these payments on our dollar and sterling resources, to think not in dollars or in pounds but in cents and pennies, because that is what we shall have to do in the years that lie ahead.
The keynote of this discussion was struck by the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr Molson), when he said that there was no question of our desire to help the Maltese people to the limit of our resources; but we must watch those resources to see that we do not make terms which, when the time came, we should not be able to fulfil. I would ask the Colonial Secretary, in the gravest terms—unless something totally unexpected is likely to happen within the next two years—to consider how far he can discharge even the commitments with which he is now faced much less add to them under the Colonial Development Welfare Fund. I would ask the House very carefully to consider the warning given by the hon. Member for The High Peak and others. It is not only a question of limiting our resources, but whether we dare impinge farther upon them, until the Financial Secretary is clear as to what our exchange commitments will be, because we do not want to hold out great hopes if, when 'the moment comes, we may not be able to fulfil them.
I am sorry to introduce what may appear to be a sordid note into this discussion. What I have said may look like some limitation of our desires to do our utmost for our fellow subjects in Malta. But, in view of the Government's own declaration of our great economic necessity, and in view of what has been said 'by that most able spokesman, the President of the Board of Trade, I feel that we ought not to pledge ourselves to indefinite and vast external expenditure; and, therefore, if this Bill goes to a Division I shall vote against it.
§ 12.34 P.m.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
It is always a pleasure to listen to the speeches of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed) and the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), whether one agrees with them or not. What they say is always reasoned and always sincere, but I feel that some hon. Members opposite ought to realise that a Member of this House bears some responsibility when he is using words which may cause injury in our relation with other people across the seas. When they speak of the action of the Government in relation to the electors here—well, they are educated and experienced, and know just how much importance to attach to what is said, so it does not really matter. But the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans)—I am sorry he is not in his place—really should realise that language which is appropriate for a share-pusher describing his rival's wares ought not to be used of the conduct of the Government of England in relation to people abroad—because his words will inevitably be used by the enemies of England to distort what has been done. I feel that that sort of conduct is to be very much regretted.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
May I point out that the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) used strong language over Malaya, and proved to be perfectly correct in doing so?
§ Mr. Paget
Language used over Malaya, even in the disputable event of it being right, is hardly relevant to what we are discussing now, and I think that I should be in trouble if I were to go off on so irrelevant a theme. What the hon. Member for Hornsey did this morning was to get up in this House and state half a dozen times over that the Government of this country were cheating the Maltese people. That is the whole effect of what he said, and it will be repeated in Malta, and used as an instrument among politically uneducated people to create hatred against this country. To make remarks which can be, and which any responsible man knows will be, used for such purposes, is irresponsible and wrong. I make that point particularly when a statement is made which is so completely unfounded as in this case.
This Bill is quite a simple one. Its object is to put into the Consolidated Fund, for the purpose of a drawing account really, because that is what it 512 amounts to, £20 million for the obligations which we have undertaken in Malta, the expenditure of which will certainly extend over a minimum of 10 years. How that affects the pledge which we gave to the Maltese people, I fail to see. It is merely one of the steps necessary to the fulfilment of that pledge. We put that much into the bank as a drawing account, and, as and when it is required, it will be used, but the pledge, as I understand it, will still be ours—
§ Mr. Stanley
I do not know if the hon. Gentleman heard the opening speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, because he said, quite definitely, that this was a final payment, and, whatever the cost of the war damage, no more would be available after this had been expended.
§ Mr. Paget
I certainly did not understand that. What I understood was that the right hon. Gentleman intervened, and put the Colonial Secretary in an extremely difficult position by suddenly asking him for a pledge to the proposition that the present sum would not at some future date be treated as final, committing the Treasury in the middle of his speech; and I think that the right hon. Gentleman, when he was a Minister, would have been loth to give a pledge in those circum stances.
§ Mr. Paget
Then it certainly seems that the arguments which have been stressed have been wholly irrelevant, because what this Bill does is simply to make a sum of money available, as it is required. The situation will be, supposing our pledge is unperformed when this money has been expended, for the Government of the day to consider the matter. It is suggested that there should be negotiations. There is no need for negotiation about the Bill, which sets aside £20,000,000. Ten years hence, however, when that money is expended, the Maltese Government will be in the strong position of being able to say to whatever Government is then in power here, "That pledge which you gave us still requires some action on your part." It would be impossible, it seems to me, for any Government to turn to this Measure and say that it prevented them from listening to representations by the Maltese Government, or that it cancelled them out. Upon what Clause in the Bill would 513 the Government of the day then rely? The suggestion that the Bill is an attempt to cheat the Maltese people is quite unjustified by anything which appears in the Bill.
§ 12.42 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton)
I will intervene for only a very few moments, because most of the arguments have by now been made. There seems to be great confusion in the minds of hon. Members on the other side about whether the Bill represents the final settlement or not. To me, and to most of my Friends on this side of the House, it appears that the Colonial Secretary said very definitely that it is the final settlement. That impression, after today's debate, will, I believe, be that of Malta as well. We are talking quite a lot about what we all feel in the matter, but we should be talking entirely about what the Maltese will think. They are the people who suffered so terribly during the war, and their sufferings gave rise to the promise or pledge. If they sent a telegram to the Colonial Secretary this morning and asked him not to make this a final sum but to leave the matter open for discussion at a later date, it would be right for us to agree to what they want. It would be the least we could do after all they have lone for us in the past.
I appeal to hon. Members on all sides of the House to realise what this Bill will mean to the outside world. Let them realise that the Maltese who fought gallantly for us are not only in Malta but that large numbers are in Egypt, in the United States and in Australia. They can all be, and should be, very good friends of ours. How would they feel about the Bill? How will the United States and Russian regard it? They are watching these things. The Colonial Office is the one Government office at the present moment which seems to be doing most doubtful things in regard to the Colonies. Those things come up one by one for discussion. It seems to be a regular Friday practice. On the last Friday on which this House met we discussed Sarawak. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary will realise, since he knows my feelings on that subject, that I am a little suspicious about the present Bill. I also know what happened in Malaya. Sir Harold MacMichael is well known in Malaya, and if his name is also linked up with the Bill for Malta I am distressed to think—
§ Mr. Teeling
Not with the Bill as such, but he is frequently mentioned in the White Paper. I have not had time to read his own Report properly. I only got it this morning. I will not press that point at all. I will urge the Minister to bear in mind that if he gives £20,000,000 today, and says that the money is to be used for a longish period, it may have to be spent in obtaining raw materials from the United States. Let him remember that the £ has not always the same value in the United States. It has not the same value as it had when we obtained the loan a few months back. Goodness knows what its value will be in a few years' time. The Maltese therefore will not be satisfied with the receipt of £20,000,000. They do not know what they are likely to want in the near future, or what the £ will then be worth. I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) used a kind of veiled threat. He said that the money would be there for the Maltese to use but not until we were satisfied that the Maltese were taxing themselves.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I did not make that suggestion at all. I may have expressed myself badly, but what I meant to say was that, having this money behind them, they would be able to tax themselves more effectively than otherwise. I certainly did not hold out any threat. The simple fact that they can draw from His Majesty's Treasury would not enable them to tax themselves. That is what I meant.
§ Mr. Teeling
Does the hon. Member mean that they would have to tax themselves in Malta for war damage? Our pledge was that we would pay for all the war damage.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
That was the point I tried to make. I think the pledge was that we would help them to meet such liabilties as arose out of the war after their resources had been exhausted. It is necessary for the Maltese to call upon their own resources before they are entitled to call upon us. We are now, in fact, doing something freely on our own, which we are not called upon to do.
§ Mr. Teeling
I feel that our debt is very clear and that we ought to give the Maltese 515 as much as possible. We must not, as the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed) suggested, start by breaking our pledge if we have not enough money to go all round. That would be entirely wrong. We ought to be determined to carry out our pledge to the fullest extent that we can and we have enough to do this. I beg the Colonial Secretary that he will let it go out to Malta, before the Debate is finished, that she will not suffer for lack of funds from this country, as was origally pledged, that, in the long run, any money which she has to spend on reconstruction will be set aside for the restoration and development of that country, such as upon arrangements for migration, and that the actual war damage money is something that we shall look after, when we know more fully what it is.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Major Bramall (Bexley)
The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling) referred to confusion among hon. Members on this side of the House. I have been impressed by the confusion there appeared to be among other hon. Members with regard to the exact fault which the Government were committing in bringing forward this Bill. Hon. Members opposite were clear, as they always are, that the Government are committing some fault but there was a complete disparity of opinion as to the particular fault. Hon. Members opposite have stressed what I believe to be indisputable, that whatever question of resources may come into consideration, a pledge such as the one we have made to Malta is one which must be redeemed and is on all fours with any pledge this or any other Government have given to the people of this country. In fact, it is a more sacred pledge in so far as the people of Malta are not in a position directly to influence the Government of this country as the electors here can. There is, therefore, no disagreement on this side of the House that we should stand by any pledge that has been made to Malta.
Confusion appears to exist on the other side of the House as to the exact terms of the pledge, which the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) read out. It is a pledge to bear that part of the burden of repairing the war damage of Malta which the resources of Malta do not permit the Colony to bear themselves. It has been suggested by some hon. Mem- 516 bers that the Government are being parsimonious in their discharge of the pledge, while others say they are profligate. Those who say that the Government are parsimonious argue that the Government are limiting the pledge by putting down a figure of £20,000,000. I cannot see how the Government could have done this except by bringing forward a Bill in which a definite sum of money was mentioned. The fact that the Government have put down a definite sum shows the Government of Malta that there is so much money on which they can draw. If no sum of money had been mentioned and no Bill had been brought forward, they would have no idea whether it would be £2,000,000 or £200,000,000 on which they could draw. So far as the wording of the Bill is concerned, there is nothing to debar any future Government of Malta from coming to any future Government of this country and saying that the sum is not sufficient, and I have no doubt whatever that whatever the political complexion of the Government of that day such an application from Malta would receive attention—
§ Mr. Stanley
That might be true of some future Government but it cannot, after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, be true of this Government because this Government have said that this is a final settlement and they will not allow any further application.
§ Major Bramall
What we have to go on is the wording of the Bill which says:A sum of twenty million pounds … towards the expenses incurred …It does not say that that is in final settlement, and what we are asked to pass is this Bill. That is how it appears to me. No doubt we shall have further elucidation from the Front Bench.
The point raised by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed) was that we should consider our resources. His argument was somewhat difficult to follow. On the one hand, he said there should be no question of going back on our pledge, and, on the other, he talked of the inability of our resources to meet the demand. I thought he might be straying into irrelevancy but if his remarks were relevant they could only mean that we should consider our resources before considering whether we could make this sum of money available. Apart 517 from the fact that that appears to contradict the arguments from the other side of the House, I hope it is an argument which the House will very emphatically reject. When we consider the debt we owe to the inhabitants of Malta, we should take the first occasion we can for cutting our coat according to our cloth and not go back on pledges we have made to them. I am sorry if I am doing the hon. Member an injustice. I can put no other interpretation on his words. They either mean that we should think twice before making this provision, or they mean nothing at all which is relevant to this Bill.
I welcome the fact that the Government are untying any connection between the financial aid and self-government. It would be most unfortunate at a time when we are trying to bring our Colonies towards self-government if the very fact of their approaching self-government debarred them from participation in financial benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled.
§ 12.56 p.m.
§ Commander Noble (Chelsea)
My personal researches into the background of this Bill have been somewhat hampered by the difficulty of obtaining copies of both the MacMichael and the Woods Reports. The Malta White Paper was published on Tuesday and refers to the MacMichael Report which was published on the same day. With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, J suggest that when papers like that, so very much running together, are issued, they ought to be available in the Vote Office and not have to be obtained direct from the Stationery Office.
I am very glad to be able to say a word or two in this Debate because I know Malta well and have many friends there. Nobody who knows Malta and the absolutely unique part she played in this war, as shown by the granting of the only special George Cross, could fail to do all in his power to see that this matter is not dealt with in too hasty a manner. We are all very grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson) for having gone out to Malta last week and for the information he has brought back to this House. In my opinion it emerges from this Debate that His Majesty's Government have chosen a final sum and are now imposing it on Malta against Malta's will. That is borne out very clearly by the telegram which the Secretary of State read this morning. 518 What is the good of appointing a financial adviser to go out to Malta, to quote his own terms of reference, to examine the present and prospective financial position, and when he gives an estimate which he himself says may be rather wide of the mark and in that estimate says that over £42,000,000 is required for reconstruction and that nearly £29,000,000 is required for war damage, decide on an arbitrary figure and make it a final settlement?
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)
In order not to mislead the House, will the hon. and gallant Gentleman make it quite clear that the £29,000,000 he quotes was included in the Report he has mentioned in the £42,000,000 which he has also quoted?
§ Commander Noble
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon if I did not make it clear. Of course I mean that the £29,000,000 was included in the £42,ooo,ooo. It must be realised by the Ho use that the Maltese paid a War Damage Contribution just the same as we did in this country, and as we have accepted the responsibility for rebuilding Malta we must see that they are fully repaid and that war damage is separate from the whole problem of reconstruction. That has not really been made clear in the Debate today. What we on this side of the House are complaining about, is particularly war damage. Perhaps I might quote a few lines from the MacMichael Report. On page 15, it says that on 10th June, 1946, about 10 days after the publication of the Woods Report Sir Harold had a further meeting with the Finance Committee in Malta, and at the close of their discussions the committee asked him to telegraph in the following terms:After discussing the economic position of Malta with the constitutional commissioner, it was agreed that he should be requested to ask His Majesty's Government to indicate as soon as possible the extent of assistance that they are prepared to give to Malta apart from the reimbursement of war damage.It is war damage that we must be quite certain is repaid in full. If we decide on a final sum now, I cannot see how we are able to guarantee that it is paid in full. The Secretary of State this morning said in his speech that this Bill is practical recognition of what Malta has done. I do not think that is the point at all. We have given a pledge to rebuild Malta, and it is our duty to do so, no matter whether it is recognition of 519 what she has done in the war, or not. I do not for one moment suggest that one day we shall not have to make a final decision, and a final settlement. That is quite obvious, but we on this side of the House do not think that this is the proper moment to do so.
Clause 3 has, I think, only been referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Bexley (Major Bramall). Perhaps, in the heat of the Debate on the other subject, it was left out of discussion, but it is a very important point. I am glad to see that Malta will still benefit when she has self-government under the Colonial Develop-and Welfare Act. As is well known, Malta has depended in the past practically entirely on employment given to her population by the Services in Malta. Our Service commitments in this area may well have to be cut down, and the Maltese even with emigration—and many Maltese are waiting to emigrate—must look to other activities. Anything which we can do to help them in this matter, whether financial or otherwise, will be of the greatest value to the island. There is no shortage of labour there at the moment; there will be enough employment for some time, and their war damage repairs have been held up for lack of materials, just as have our war damage repairs. I think it is to the future that we should all look for assistance to Malta under this Clause.
§ 1.4 p.m.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Before dealing with the question of the pledge, which seems to be so little understood by hon. Members opposite, I wish to ask the Government whether any of this sum of £33 million is to be spent, even indirectly, in connection with dockyards, the harbour, warehouses, aerodromes, or fixed defences. If that is so, and all such expenditure on these purely military matters is not entirely covered by Service Estimates, I hope His Majesty's Government will make it quite clear what advice they have had from Service Departments in this connection.
Everyone who has spoken in this Debate has agreed, naturally, that any help Malta requires from this country to repair the ravages of war, must be given. No one grudges the George Cross Island anything as some part repayment for her steadfastness and devotion to duty. I make no apology at all for labouring the point 520 about the pledge, because hon. Members opposite have either completely failed to grasp the argument from this side of the House, or for some extraordinary reason, are deliberately misunderstanding it. The Colonial Secretary spoke of recognition of Malta's heroic struggle, and, almost in the next sentence, he said we were honouring our pledge. I cannot see how that is so when he states that this sum of money mentioned in the Bill is a final payment.
Many of us were surprised to hear that he had only just received a telegram from the National Assembly conveying a resolution complaining that the fact that this was to be the final payment was unsatisfactory, and begging him to leave it open for further discussion. It was certainly a surprise to me that at this late hour this information should have arrived. The suggestion of a further payment to be considered later on made no sense to me. If the cost turns out to be more than £33 million, and if it is outside Malta's capacity to meet that further cost, is it the intention of His Majesty's Government—the present Government—to give a pledge that that further sum will be forthcoming? That is the question on which we want an answer. It has been asked six, eight or a dozen times on this side of the House, but, as far as I can see, it has not been understood. The argument that some other Government may be in power in ten or 20 years' time seems to me a very extraordinary one. I very much hope it will be so, in fact, I feel sure it will be so, but it does not make very much sense for a Minister not to give a pledge because he cannot be sure that the present Government will be in power at a future date.
§ Major Beamish
I was referring to the Colonial Secretary's own remarks and I think he would agree that that was the meaning of what he was telling the House. The hon. and gallant Member for Bexley (Major Bramall) spoke about a definite sum, and tried to indicate that a definite sum has to be mentioned in the Bill, otherwise it would be an unsatisfactory Bill. I do not think any of us disagree with that. The whole point is, Is this definite sum a final sum? We have had an answer, which I hope may be altered before the end of the Debate. Nor is the only thing that matters the words of the 521 Bill, another argument used by the hon. and gallant Member for Bexley. It is not only the words of the Bill which are important, unless we are to understand that the word of the Colonial Secretary, speaking from the Government Front Bench, is something of no importance, which I cannot believe to be the case. I am inclined to think that because the Bill gave us no indication that this was to be the final settlement the Colonial Secretary, for some unexplained reason, is trying to bounce the House into accepting this Bill. It should have been made perfectly clear in the Bill that this sum is a final payment, and that if any further payment is to be made it should be reconsidered at some future date. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) actually went so far as to say that the question of the pledge is a matter of no substance whatever, and went on to say "at least not for 20 or 30 years".
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I said that the argument had no substance, not the pledge. The matter which was referred to in the argument of hon. Members opposite would not arise for 20 or 30 years. That was my point.
§ Major Beamish
But the argument is about the pledge, and as to whether or not His Majesty's Government are carrying out the pledge which was given. I hope that I am not introducing too controversial a note when I say that pledges to our own citizens are one matter and that I for one, at any rate, have become accustomed to them being broken by His Majesty's Government, but a pledge given to our Colonial citizens is in many ways a much mcre important matter.
There is one other important point to which I would refer in connection with the speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed), to whom I always listen with the utmost respect. He was asking whether we could afford this sum of money. I would only say that His Majesty's Government are spending vast millions on so-called compensation to more than a million shareholders in the railways, in paying a vast and needless bureaucracy, in buying coal undertakings and taking over the Bank of Fngland. They are squandering huge sums of taxpayers' money on schemes which can only be said to be imperilling our national recovery. If we 522 cannot afford this sum for Malta, let me suggest—and I hope the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury will agree with me—that at least His Majesty's Government might abandon some of these wild and unnecessary schemes.
In conclusion. I hope particularly that I may have an answer to the question which I asked at the beginning of my speech about the Service angle and the possibility of some of this money being spent for purposes connected with the military in Malta. Failing an assurance that the Government will honour their pledge, which at present clearly they do not intend to do, I shall have no hesitation in voting against this Bill. Anybody who votes for it can comfort himself, if he can find comfort in the fact, with the knowledge that one more pledge from the Socialist Government has gone down the drain.
§ 1.12 p.m.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
During my career in the Service I spent many years in the Mediterranean and, on that account, I know Malta very well and I have, in common with every hon. Member in this House, great regard and admiration for the manner in which Malta went through that two and a half years of siege, involving not only tremendous devastation but tremendous human suffering. We admire the fortitude with which they went through this most difficult period. I think it is also agreed by everybody, not merely on account of that, that we should make good in Malta the damage that was caused by the war. We have given a pledge to that effect. We have said that we would do so, but during this Debate it has become obvious that there is considerable confusion in the minds of hon. Members opposite upon that fact.
The Secretary of State has said that this is final as far as the Government are concerned. It has been pointed out that it is impossible today to know what will be the final sum required in order that war damage might be paid for. Therefore, by making this final settlement as far as the Socialist Government are concerned, it is not carrying out the pledge which was given to the Maltese. That action will do an immense amount of harm. It is a very bad habit to promise to do something in support of a foreign country, or for our own people in the Dominions or Colonies, and then, when 523 the time comes, to go back on that pledge. I am sorry to say that of late there have been a good many examples of that kind of conduct. We gave a pledge about Poland. I do not know what the Government are going to do about that.
The whole difference between the Socialist Government and their supporters, and my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House, is on the question of the Government not carrying out the pledge which was given to the Maltese, thereby doing irreparable harm to the honour of this country. The Colonial Secretary puts forward the financial position of the country as one excuse for laying down this sum and making it an end of the obligation of the Government. We all know what a terrible mess the finances of the country are in due to the administration of the present Government. But, surely, that is no reason why this country should default and not carry out her pledge. Another hon. Member talked about the words spoken by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) and said what a lot of harm they might do. I would say that it is far more important to fulfil our pledge. We are judged far more by the deeds which we do in fulfilment of the word which we give than some hon. Members realise. That is the ultimate test—not what is said, but what we do. In this case the Government are not fulfilling the pledge which was given.
The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary has said that the Maltese must assist in this matter and that the finances which they receive through taxation would be taken into account. Everybody who has known Malta for many years knows perfectly well that the financial position of Malta is almost entirely dependent upon the Services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and the work in the dockyards, the aerodromes, and so on. For all practical purposes, other industries do not exist. I hope it will be possible to bring some industries into being which will have a great financial benefit for the Island, but I cannot envisage that. It is ridiculous to talk about the Maltese assisting in the matter. In any case, the amount which they could contribute would be infinitely small, and it does not relieve us of our responsibility for carrying out our pledge. One of my hon. Friends referred to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Mem- 524 ber for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams), who said that this argument had no substance. I intended to make that point. I entirely agree that on this side of the House it is a matter of great substance that we should honour our pledges, whether they be to our Colonies or to a foreign country.
It was said by another hon. Member that the people of Malta should be able to stand upon their own feet. In regard to this matter, it is impossible. We hope that in future the Maltese will be able to develop some industries which will be of great benefit to them. What those industries will be, I cannot imagine, but I hope that some will be found. Work in the dockyard has been cut down and probably it will be cut even more. That work was an enormous asset to the finances of Malta. Also, no doubt the Services—the Army, the Navy and the Air Force—which used to be in Malta will be diminished considerably. Again, the finances of the country will be considerably lessened, and then we talk about Malta standing on her own feet. I reinforce the request made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) in regard to the availability of this amount of money. If this amount is insufficient to carry out our pledge will the amount be made up? If that undertaking cannot be given I certainly will vote against this Bill, not because I do not want the Maltese to have it—of course, we all want it—but on principle, because the Government are not fulfilling the pledge which was given to the Maltese in 1942.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
I think one point from the Government side has remained unanswered and that was the complaint by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) who said that we on this side of the House were using strong language. I should like to point out to him that if he looks back on the records of this House he will find that many Members of the Socialist Party, including —and I say this with very great respect —the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, used strong language and caused considerable' difficulty for many persons overseas who were administering our Colonial Empire. This is a place where I understand Members may use strong language if they feel strongly, and I do not think in view of the precedent set 525 by the hon. Member's own party that he can complain about any language used in this House today. It seems to me that there was a certain amount of confusion, on the Government side when drawing up this Bill, between compensation for war damage and reconstruction. We on this side of the House are particularly interested in compensation for war damage, because we feel that here the British Government is pledged by the statement made during the days of the Coalition Government that we should make good any war damage caused in Malta.
I regret myself that this Bill is not cast sufficiently wide to take into consideration some of the wider issues of reconstruction which I believe the state of Malta today requires. I have myself paid several pleasant and happy visits to Malta and know something of its condition. Some of us, for example, are interested in the suggestion that Tripolitania should go to Malta, as a trustee under the United Nations. I think that that is a suggestion worthy of consideration. We all know that Malta before the war was too small for the population it supported. That brings to my mind a point which the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson) mentioned. When he was talking about the emigration of populations I recalled reading a report before the war of what Signor Mussolini said in regard to the development of the Pontine Marshes South of Rome. He said that in his experience the introduction of electricity led to a fall in the birth rate. The corollary of that is that the black-out in Malta led to an increase in the birth rate, and the Secretary of State may be interested to report these facts to his colleagues the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Fuel and Power. Perhaps that is one of the objects of the Ministry of Fuel and Power in cutting the supply of electricity, thus hoping to overcome some of the difficulties brought to light in the economic White Paper.
I would suggest that these are subjects in Malta which are worthy of consideration, over and above the immediate issues of war damage for which we feel this country is responsible. Beyond that there is one further point I should like to make and that is the possibility of development of Malta as a holiday resort. I think the Italians did a very good job of work in the development of Rhodes as a delightful tourist centre. I believe Malta as a holiday 526 resort offers great opportunities to British shipping passing it and to the airlines, which can reach it quickly. I think worthy to be taken into account is the matter of Imperial Preference. What is our policy in the future in regard to helping Malta with Imperial Preference? These questions have a bearing in a wider sense on the reconstruction of Malta, as do the defence proposals and service payments of the future.
If I might be allowed to say so, I would, with great respect, give credit to the present Secretary of State for wanting to do the right thing by Malta, but I think that this is another example of what the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) pointed out in the first week of this Parliament when he was speaking to the Government. He said that as time went on it was not their good will or good intentions which would be in question, it would be their capacity. I believe that the Secretary of State for the Colonies does want to do the right thing by Malta but it is largely a question of the way it should be done. We believe that the present Bill, reinforced by what has been said today by the right hon. Gentleman, fails to fulfil the pledge given by the Coalition Government. It is not only necessary that justice should be done but that justice should appear to be done. That does not appear to be the case at the moment, in view of the fact that there has been no real consultation with those in Malta who will be called upon to rule in that country Perhaps I am not expressing myself correctly there. There have been consultations, but the people of Malta do not feel that they have been taken into proper consultation, otherwise I do not think they would have sent a telegram such as the Secretary of State read out today.
I should like now to refer again to Clause 3. It does appear to me that Clause 3 is rather in the nature of a sop. The Government are making a final settlement, but the Government leave a door open by saying that Malta will still be liable for financial support under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. I am not against that in itself. I think as time goes on it will become increasingly difficult for places such as Malta to carry the overheads of modern government, and they are going to need a great deal of outside assistance for health services, research and so forth. Therefore it is most important that Malta should continue to 527 receive support in some form or another, but I would put to the Secretary of State the question, is this the right way of doing it? This subject raises a constitutional issue of considerable importance which is whether, once a dependent territory has obtained self-government, it can be treated as before under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, especially when there is the very limited sum of £120 million for an enormous area all over the world. Is it going to be eaten away by spending it on countries which have achieved self-government part of which is that they must be financially responsible for themselves? As the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) asked, is this to be a precedent? I would ask again of the right hon. Gentleman whether he regards this as a precedent for other territories which will achieve in due course their self-government. Will they continue to be liable for support from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund?
I think the people of Malta are already agreeable to a degree of dyarchy. That is inevitable for quite a long time to come. But until they know what our defence requirements are going to be in Malta they cannot know the exact position. They will need to know what is going to be spent in the dockyards, on airfields and so forth, and until they know that they will not know where they stand financially. Obviously our defence is going to be for a long time to come the greatest source of income to that territory.
Finally, I should like to make a remark or two on this question of Britain being a milch cow. To the Lord Privy Seal and to others "pounds, shillings and pence" are apparently meaningless symbols. They sound equally meaningless when they fall from the lips of the Minister of Transport when he talks about millions of pounds for transport compensation. But I would put it to the Government that there are many people who hope that the pound is still going to be worth something. However, if these vast sums are going to be paid out it is going to be very difficult for this country to survive. I would not in any way go back on the pledge we made to Malta some years ago. We must honour that pledge and do our utmost to set the people of Malta in the next few years on the way that they wish to go, and at the same time safeguard 528 our currency. I would again ask the Secretary of State, if not now, then on some other occasion, to give us an opportunity of discussing some of these wider issues which I venture to raise on this occasion, but I would ask him, at this moment, to give an answer to the question about the future intentions of the Government in regard to the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund.
§ 1.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House, while welcoming the decision of His Majesty's Government to provide a further instalment towards the repair of war damage in Malta, declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which fixes a final sum for reconstruction before the total amount of damage has been ascertained.I should like to start by saying a word on that part of the Debate which has aroused no controversy whatsoever in this House. I should also like to echo the words used by the right hon. Gentleman in his opening speech in our tribute to the people of Malta and our determination to show our gratitude to them for the way that they stood by us in our time of trial. I shall only speak for a very short time because the point at issue is a very simple one.
First, I will refer to some of the speeches that have been made from the benches opposite. We started, of course, with a speech from the right hon. Gentleman's faithful Sancho Panza, the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams), who spoke with all his usual zeal and even less of his usual success. But, apart from him, the three speeches which were made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), the hon. Member for West Coventry (Mr. Edelman) and the hon. and gallant Member for Bexley (Major Bramall) were speeches which, apart from the trimmings, had they been made from the Front Bench would have made me seriously reconsider my decision to vote against the Bill, because all of them said what the Secretary of State had not said—that they do not regard this as a final payment, that to regard it as a final payment would be a breach of the pledge, and that, clearly, if, when the time came, it was found that more money was required to fulfil the pledge, that that money must be forthcoming from the Government.
529 That is our view, but it is not the view expressed by the Secretary of State. He has said to the people of Malta earlier, and to us in this House today, that although the Bill makes no mention of this being a final settlement, His Majesty's Government regard it in that light, and that, in so far as he and the Government of which he is now a member are concerned, there are no circumstances which would justify a reopening of the talks, or an addition to this sum, which is to be regarded as a final settlement. That, I think, not unfairly puts the statement which he has made to the House today. Therefore, it is not with the actual contents of the Bill that we are concerned, but with this embellishment which has been put upon it on behalf of the Government. It is impossible for us to ignore statements made to Malta and now repeated so categorically by the Secretary of State.
The main difficulty into which we have fallen arises from the fact that in this Bill, we are attempting—and, I think, rightly—to do two things at the same time. The first is to deal with the payment of war damage, and the second is to deal with reconstruction—one, the actual physical repair of the buildings which have been damaged, and, the other, assistance towards new developments in the island's social system. Those two things with which we deal in the same Bill, and for which we provide one sum, stand on wholly different grounds. The payment for war damage is the subject of a specific pledge given by the Government in 1942, and accepted by their successors, the present Government. That pledge is plain, and is set out, for all practical purposes, in the explanatory Memorandum to this Bill.
The pledge is that we shall make good the liabilities arising from the repair of war damage which are found to be beyond the capacity of the Government of Malta to meet from their own resources. In order to determine the sum of money required to meet that pledge, we want to know two things—What has it cost to repair the war damage, and what has been the capacity of the Government of Malta to contribute towards that cost? At this moment, we know neither of these things. We have an estimate by Sir Wilfrid Woods, but an estimate which he, himself, admits cannot, in its nature, be accurate as to the final cost. It is 530 impossible at this moment to estimate what will be the financial contribution that Malta can make. Therefore, no one could pretend that, in fixing a final sum at this amount, we are in a position to say what, in fact, is to be the sum which, in the long run, will be found to be needed to meet the pledge which has been given. So much for war damage.
The other part of the Bill dealing with reconstruction stands on wholly different grounds. There we have given no pledges. The amount that we give depends upon what this country can afford, and upon the amount which we think it right to charge upon our own taxpayers for the assistance of Malta. And it has this other difference. As far as the reconstruction is concerned, I agree wholeheartedly that we want a fixed and final sum given to the Maltese now before they start on the work of self-government. In this Bill, there are two wholly inconsistent things. These matters should be settled, the Bill should contain the final fixed sum which is to be given to Malta for the purposes of reconstruction, and over and above that, it should contain whatever instalment the Government think it right to give now towards meeting our pledge to bear the responsibility for the war damage.
That, I think, would have the effect that, whereas the desire of the Government —and, I believe the proper desire of the Government—is that reconstruction and the amount that we can afford to help that reconstruction should be finally fixed now, it would, at the same time, meet the demand—and, I think, the proper demand—of the Maltese people that this account of war damage should not be wound up by a final payment until it is really possible to ascertain how much the liability has been upon Malta as a whole, and how much of it falls to be assumed by the people of Malta.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain how, in fact, war damage and reconstruction can be separated? If we are rebuilding a large part of Malta, the two things are so integrated that there can be no separate systems.
§ Mr. Stanley
I do not think that that is the case at all. The vast majority— £26 million out of £28 million—of Sir Wilfrid Woods' estimate is going to the reconstruction of private building. We have no difficulty in this country in 531 drawing a distinction between the compensation, or the money we provide for the reconstruction of a building which was destroyed, and the money which we provide through other channels for the erection of wholly new buildings for other beneficial, social purposes. It does not seem to me at all impossible to separate the two.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
We have great difficulty about it in this country. That is the whole point. In my own borough we have the most immense difficulty through that very thing. It is most difficult.
§ Mr. Stanley
Certainly, it has never been suggested, as far as I know, up to now that it was impossible to carry out the pledge we gave that we should bear this liability for war damage. But the mere fact of mixing these two things together does, of course, make it extremely difficult to find how much we are contributing out of this £30,000,000 to the two branches. At one moment it is possible for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "Here you have a Bill for £30,000,000, and as Sir Wilfrid Woods' estimate was only that of £28,500,000, it is probable that this £30,000,000 will cover the whole of the war damage expenditure." At another moment we can say that in this £30,000,000 we are making a most generous contribution to the reconstruction—not the repair of the war damage— of Malta, and by this capital payment we are setting them on the road to self-government. But the fact is that out of this £30,000,000 we cannot do both. This £30,000,000 will either probably cover—although even that is not certain —the amount of war damage, and leave nothing at all for reconstruction, or it will make a generous contribution to reconstruction, and fall far short of what is certainly necessary for expenditure upon war damage.
Therefore, I suggest that, even now, the Government might consider whether it would not be possible to meet this in the way that I have suggested, that is to say, to allocate a definite, fixed, and final sum for our capital present to Malta for the purposes of reconstruction and to enable her to start upon self-government and, at the same time, repeat with regard to war damage the procedure of the earlier Bill, 532 which is, to make available a further sum as an instalment towards meeting the cost, but making it plain that, if and when it is found that further sums are available, not only other Governments that may be called upon to deal with the actual situation, but this Government, if they are then in power, would be prepared to find the extra sum and meet the liability in full.
I have only one word to say upon Clause 3. I shall not object to it in this Bill because of the particular circumstances of the case, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not going to make this a precedent without giving very careful consideration to the issues that are raised. The hon. and gallant Member for Bexley thought it was all quite simple, and that it was a splendid thing that people who get self-government should be entitled to draw on this money; but J think that the hon. Member for South Croydon will agree that there is really more in it than that. In the first place, of course, I certainly thought that capital sums required by Colonies obtaining full self government were to be met from other sources, and that, therefore, the £120,000,000 would be available, untouched, to those Colonies that do not get self government. The effect of this, of course, is simply to take away some money which otherwise would have been available for some other Colony. Nor do I think that it is wholly satisfactory that a Government which has got real self government and responsibility should be in receipt of annual payments out of a fund of this kind from this country. This country will have no means at all, as it will in all the other Colonies, of checking how the money is spent, on what purposes it is spent, and whether the expenditure, when it has been carried out, has been wise. Nor does it foster a feeling of self reliance, which is a necessary accompaniment of governmental and ministerial responsibity, that it should be possible for a responsible self governing Colony to draw upon funds of this nature. I say, therefore, that I will accept it on this occasion, but I hope that, before this is used as a precedent for other cases, much more consideration may be given to this point.
In conclusion, in view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has repeated a categorical statement that this is to be regarded as the final settlement, not only of any assistance for reconstruction, but of our pledge in respect of war damage, I 533 have no alternative but to move the Amendment which stands in my name upon the Order Paper, and to ask my hon. Friends to support it in the Lobby.
§ 1.47 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)
May I say, first of all, in case it passes from my mind and I fail to take the opportunity, that the moneys that may be advanced under Clause 3 of this Bill from the Colonial Development that Fund? In other words, schemes same rules, regulations and limitations as are imposed now on all money provided by that Fund? In other words, schemes which Malta may put forward under the terms of that Clause will have to be submitted, just as they would have to be were they submitted by any other Colony.
I think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) is in marked contrast with most of the speeches which we have heard this morning from the Benches opposite. We in this House are quite familiar with the usual "give and take" of debate; and frequently, not only on one side, but on both sides of the House, we say things which the rest do not take too seriously. But when we are discussing, as we are today, a place like Malta, I think we should be very careful how we choose our language and what we say; and I regret very much—and I am positive many Members of that side of the House also, regret very much—that we should have listened, as, unfortunately, we did, to the speech of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), which charged this Government with broken faith, broken pledges, and all the rest of it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said in the course of what, I thought, was an admirable speech, it is a great pity that that kind of speech should be made in this House; because it will receive the widest publicity all over the world, and certainly in Malta, where people, not so versed in democratic government as we are, will put their own construction on it, and will not take what he said, as we have to all too frequently, for what it is worth.
§ Mr. Gammans
If the right hon. Gentleman objects to my having charged the Government with a broken pledge, would he care to comment on the cable which the Colonial Secretary has received, in which the Labour Party in Malta also 534 accused the Government of breaking pledge?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary read that cable, but the gloss which the hon. Member for Hornsey has put on it is, quite frankly, not there. All that the cable contained was what I think any of us might have imagined it to contain, namely an intimation that they are not satisfied with the amount of money which is being allocated to Malta. Of course, none of us are ever satisfied.
§ Mr. Stanley
I thought that the telegram the right hon. Gentleman read out was the telegram, to which reference has been made, from the leader of the Labour Party in Malta, not the letter, which was quite another thing, from the Constituent Assembly.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The telegram I read was from the Governor, and expressed the views of the constituent consultants who had been in touch with the National Assembly. The letter referred to by another hon. Member was a communication from the Secretary of the Labour Party. I understood the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) to make reference to the telegram which I received this morning from the Governor, after his consultations with the representatives of the Malta people.
§ Mr. Gammans
Would the right hon. Gentleman deny that the Government have been accused of bad faith by the Secretary of the Labour Party in Malta?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The point made by the hon. Member for Hornsey was that I had received a telegram this morning, and had communicated it to the House, making that charge. That my right hon. Friend is most emphatically denying.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I might perhaps add that even supposing the Secretary of the Labour Party in Malta did accuse the Government of bad faith, that is one thing, but for a responsible Member of this House, who is supposed to have the facts in his mind, to do the same is quite another thing.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
I quoted it, and I say categorically that this is a breach of faith by His Majesty's Government, and is a disgraceful thing for the House of Commons to support. The Labour Party in Malta are right and you are wrong.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
That is the core and centre of the discussion we are having this morning. The view of many hon. Members opposite is that in making this allocation of £20 million to Malta the Government are in some way breaking faith with the pledge that was given during the war. The words have been read over and over again; I take it that we are now all familiar with them. It is our definite view —and I feel that anyone who reads those words carefully will agree with us—that the announcement made by the then Government of this country was to the effect that a grant of £10 million would be made to assist Malta to make good the war damage she was suffering and that it went on to say—I am paraphrasing here— that, if it were not sufficient, further sums would be made available. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that Malta was then suffering heavily from bombing, and was standing up to it as an outpost of the British Commonwealth of Nations in a most magnificent way. There was, however, this proviso, that those sums would be conditioned by the fact that Malta would have to do something from her own resources to help. I hope no one in any part of the House will say that what I have just said is not a fair paraphrase of the promise that was given. The £10 million was earmarked, and some of it has been drawn. The question then arises, are we to implement the rest of the promise then given and to which we all assented? In this Bill we propose to set aside a further £20 million to assist Malta to implement the pledge that was given.
A valid point which was made with great force by the right hon. Gentleman opposite was that we cannot at this juncture say what the sum should be because we do not yet know what the exact cost of repairing the war damage will be. But as he said, and this is a strong point, we have some sort of estimate to go on. It is perfectly true that we cannot tell finally and completely what the making good of war damage will cost. We admit that, but we have to work as ordinary human beings, with common-sense and within the four corners of what is available, and in these reports, with which most hon. Members are familiar, we have something quite definite to go on. In them we were told, and no one has queried this estimate which seems to be a fair and reasonable one, that the 536 estimate would be something like £28 million. I think that figure is accepted.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
Actually, it is £28,800,000. If that outside estimate, by a responsible person with no axe to grind, who went there and took all the evidence he could find, be agreed, we may say that war damage amounts, in round figures, to £29 million. The Government are in fact finding £31 million against an amount of war damage—and it is here that we are charged with having broken faith—estimated at £29 million. In addition we are going to find money for other purposes, as my right hon. Friend said when he opened the Debate. We are going to find £1 million from the Colonial Development Fund, and there may be, and probably will be, more to come.
§ Mr. Stanley
When the right hon. Gentleman says £31 million, does not that mean £30 million plus £1 million from the Development Fund?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
It is £30 million plus £1 million which has already accrued by way of interest, making £31 million which is available. We are also finding £1 million with possibly more to come—it will all depend when the time arrives; we cannot bind any future Government or Colonial Administration—from the Development Fund. Grants in aid and commodity subsidies have been made; figures have been mentioned which in fact bring the total contribution from the British taxpayer to something over £33 million. The amount which was given by Sir Wilfrid Woods —the figure was also quoted by an hon. Gentleman opposite—for war damage is about £29 million; for social welfare and development schemes it was £3 million, and for reconstruction £10 million—a total of £42 million. There is a difference of £9 million between what we are going to give them and the requirement estimated by Sir Wilfrid Woods. I repeat therefore that we have covered war damage in the £31 million—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes.
§ Mr. Stanley
That is the whole gravamen of our figures. It is all very well for Sir Wilfrid Woods to make what I have no doubt was a most careful estimate and say £29 million, but with changing world prices we do not know whether 537 in fact it will be final. The sum may be very much more.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
It also may be very much less. In fact, all the indications are that prices will never, as far as we can see, be so high as they have been recently, but, as the years go on, will probably come down. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, it is as fair an assumption as the assumption made by the other side. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is the core and centre of the charge of bad faith levelled at this Government, and I for one feel that it should be answered. I like to feel that any Government I belong to, or any other organisation, keeps its promises and does not break faith. If I felt for a moment that this Government had broken faith I would be the first to come to this Box and say to the House that in my view it had done so. I looked at these figures and the facts, and I am positive in my own mind that this Government has not broken faith, and I do not want the Maltese people who stood by us, and by whom we are now going to stand, to think that that faith has been broken.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
Have we or have we not an unlimited liability for war damage and other incidental expenses?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I will come to that if I have time, but that raises other considerations which the House has not so far considered. If we give the Maltese a blank cheque, which is apparently the suggestion made from the other side, would it be astonishing if they did not take advantage of it, and used it to the utmost? Of course we have to keep our promise, but we have to keep it with our feet on the ground. Experts have been out there, and they have come to the conclusion that the war damage estimate is £29 million. As I say, we have more than covered it by the £31 million I have mentioned, and in addition we have also covered other items. I was saying, before I was interrupted, that the total global figure of £42,500,000, which Sir Wilfrid Woods arrived at, included social reconstruction, welfare and the rest, as well as war damage. Towards that figure we are finding a total of £33 million, with the possibility of more to come from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, which I think is very good. After all, this country has its troubles as well as the Maltese.
538 I would remind the House and the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson), who has just come back from Malta, that the Maltese are not doing so badly at the moment; they are doing quite well, because wages and employment are good—I should like to feel that things were equally bright in this country. Although we must pay the tribute due to the Maltese, we have, as the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed) reminded us, to remember the British taxpayer. What we are suggesting here keeps the promise which was made, and is a generous gesture to the Maltese in the troubles which face them. I do not want to speak too long, but I want to hammer home that particular point. The difference between the two sets of figures is £9 million, and Sir Wilfrid Woods' figures contained provision for health, schools, hospitals, sewerage, housing, education, and for all sorts of things which are highly desirable, but which this House did not, in 1942, promise to provide at the British taxpayers' expense. It may well be said that the £9 million could be allocated to these things but we certainly did not take responsibility for them at that time.
The assistance we are now giving over a period to the Maltese can help their economic recovery, and can assist them to meet from their own resources a greater part of expenses which they should bear—because after all, they are living there and enjoying the results. We should see to it that they are not spoon-fed by the people of this country, who have troubles of their own. It has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) that the Maltese pay no income tax, and when we put that beside the burden which even the lowest paid people of this country have had to carry during the war, it is astonishing that right hon. and hon. Members opposite should press us to give what amounts to a blank cheque in this matter.
§ Mr. Stanley
Since the right hon. Gentleman has specifically mentioned "right hon. Gentleman," I would point out that I was in entire agreement with giving a fixed and final sum for the purposes of reconstruction in payment of war damage in fulfilment of our pledge, at whatever the cost.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I accept that correction. I had forgotten that the right hon. Gentleman is the only right hon. Gentleman on the Bench opposite at the 539 moment, but I began my speech by saying that his remarks were in marked contrast to some of the other speeches we heard from Members opposite. I should like to say one word about the suggestion that my right hon. Friend should indicate that his mind is not closed, and that although this appears to be a final settlement, he should indicate that it will be possible to add to it if need arises later on. No one can bind a future Government. It may well be, although I do not think it will be, that the right hon. Gentleman will be at this Box when pressure is being brought by some of his friends to increase this allocation in a few years' time. He would not feel bound by anything the Labour Government had done, and it is quite impossible, therefore, for my right hon. Friend, not knowing what the circumstances would be, to bind this or any Government in this matter.
That does not mean that if it were right, proper and just for a further allocation to be made, the allocation should not be made. It will be for the Government of the moment to decide when that moment comes, and we cannot legislate now for hypothetical considerations which might arise. We should only be holding out a further promise to the Maltese, who possibly would then say, "We need not worry very much, because if the worst comes to the worst, we can go back to them and get more out of them." We want to get the Maltese, now that they are about to receive what may be described as their own Government, to stand on their own feet and make a financial success of their country. To hold out the hope that they can keep coming back, and that this £20 million, which is, I think, generous, is not a final payment, but only a bit on account, would be a disservice to them and to the people of this country.
I should now like to reply to the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), who took the view that we should look to Italy in view of the fact that it was Italian bombers which created the havoc in Malta. There is a good deal to be said for that, but the trouble is how we are to get the money from Italy. The second difficulty is that we are not the only nation involved. The Foreign Ministers, and, indeed, the delegates to the Peace Conference in Paris, came to a contrary conclusion. As a matter of fact, I was the instrument for this Gov 540 ernment at the Economic Conference, on 9th September, when the announcement was made that we would not look to Italy for any reparations. That was a public announcement, and I am sure that the hon. Member would not want this Government to go back on it, even if it were possible. It is true that the Russians will receive reparations from Italy to the tune of 100,000,000 American dollars, but I would remind the House that they are not getting it in cash and that they are not getting it immediately, but after two years. It will be spread over seven years, and some of it will be paid in kind, such as war material which cannot be devoted to a peace-time use, and for which the Italians themselves can find no use.
§ Mr. Molson
The right hon. Gentleman is fully aware that under that agreement part is to be from current Italian production, that Italian reparations were increased to cover the amount that was to have been paid by Bulgaria. Why should not Italian materials be made available for the rebuilding of Malta, instead of the British taxpayer having to foot the bill?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I do not want to get involved in a long discussion on how the reparations, agreed to under the Italian Treaty, will be paid. I took part, as one of the junior delegates from this country, in the discussion of this most complicated matter, which is not easy to explain. But I can say that the materials will, in all likelihood, not be going from Italy at all. They will be imported into Italy, for Italian workmen to work upon, and then will be re-exported to Russia towards payment of reparations. As to production, it is not current now; it is current after two years. You have to let Italy get back on her feet. Frankly, what the hon. Gentleman has suggested is not the way out. You cannot import labour or materials into Malta, and charge Italy with their cost, nor even get labour and materials from Italy for that purpose, because they are not there. In any case, we are bound to our Allies under arrangements which have been agreed and will shortly be embodied in the Treaty.
I end as I began, by saying that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, in bringing forward this Bill, has brought forward a Measure of which the House and the country can be proud. Instead of breaking a pledge, he has more than 541 kept the pledge which was made with the consent of all parties in 1942. It is our view that when this Bill reaches the Statute Book, and in years to come, the Maltese will realise more and more the help we have given them. Instead of realising that we have let them down, as has been suggested, they will know that their best friends have been the people of this country who, amidst their own financial difficulties, have thought of them, and have come to their assistance in such a magnificent and generous way.
§ 2.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
The right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary has attacked one or two of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, and although he is welcome to do so it means that some of us intend to stand by our friends in this matter. When he said that some of the words used from this side had been indiscreet I want to remind him that if the moderate language we heard today had been used over the last 10 years, and before, by some of the Members on his side of the House, things might have been very much easier. I welcome the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is a convert on this question, and that we have had something of the same sort from the Colonial Secretary. I have always held the view that one could not be too careful, as a Member of this House, in what one said about international, imperial or inter-colonial affairs, and I welcome the fact that the Socialist Party and the Government have been taking that line today. I hope that Government back benchers will pursue a similar line in their speeches in future, for it was never more needed than at present.
There is a general feeling on all sides of the House that we wish to keep the pledge that was given in 1942. The only real difference between this side of the House, and the other side, is whether we are doing it adequately' in this Bill. Everyone wishes to do what is best in the interests of the Maltese people, because we realise the terrible suffering they have undergone, and what the bombing of their island has meant. Some of us, and I am one of them, who have had our own houses bombed, and have had to seek lodgings, realise even more the extreme discomfort which the Maltese people have had to undergo. So, let us all start from the basis that we all sympa- 542 thise with them, and want to keep the pledge which'we gave. I agree with the Financial Secretary in what he said about the British taxpayer, who has to bear a very heavy burden and terrible privation at the moment.
But I am against this Bill because, whether there is a limitation of £30 million or not, it is the wrong time to deal with this matter now. According to the Government's own White Papers, we are on the verge of a financial crisis, and we cannot possibly tell what £30 million will buy in three or six months' time, or in three or 10 years' time. If you like, let us say, "We will give you a token credit to go on with," but what is the good of trying to deal with the whole matter of the future reconstruction and war damage of Malta, which are mixed up in this Bill, until you have settled its future? What is to be the basis of Malta's utility and development in future? Will it be a big military centre or not? How is it intended to deal with the surplus population of Malta? It is wrong to have a Bill of this sort until you have decided these matters. May I ask him, when we come to the Money Resolution, to tell us whether the materials which will go to Malta from this country will count in the figures of our export trade, because they are not trade as I understand it; they are a gift to the Maltese.
I have no wish to take any great time on this subject, but I regret the controversial note which was sounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary. I have tried not to accentuate it in any way, and I think I have succeeded, but I think this Bill is hopelessly ill-timed from the financial point of view. Beyond that, it is a great pity that much more consideration was not given to this question of reparations for Malta during the last 18 months. From the events of the last week it looks as if the Government have now muddled away the chance. My third point is that with the present position in regard to materials and finance in general, this is a completely wrong time to bring in such a Bill, for it means that we give a nominal sum today without the haziest idea of whether or not it will carry out the pledge, which was to make good the war damage. That is where we differ. I think most people want to keep the pledge, but I do not think this Bill will necessarily do so, whatever is the intention of the Government.
§ Question put, "That the words pro-, posed to be left out stand part of the Question."544
§ The House divided: Ayes, 174; Noes, 59.545
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[2.23 p.m|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Parker, J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Parkin B. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Gooch, E. G.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushclifte)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Goodrich, H. E.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Pearson, A|
|Awbery, S. S.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Peart, Capt. T. F.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Grierson, E.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Ranger, J.|
|Baird, J.||Griffiths, Rt Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Rees-Williams, D. R|
|Balfour, A.||Gunter, R. J.||Reeves, J.|
|Barnes, Rt- Hon. A. J||Hall, W. G.||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Barton, C.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Battley, J. R.||Herbison, Miss M.||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Bechervaise, A E||Hobson, C. R.||Royle, C.|
|Beswick, F.||Holman, P.||Sargood, R.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||House, G.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Binns, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Blenkinsop, A||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Hynd, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Attercliffe)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Irving, W. J.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Bramall, Major E. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Smith, H, N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Janner, B.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Jay, D. P. T.||Snow, Capt. J. W.|
|Bruce, Maj D. W. T.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Byers, Frank||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Steele, T.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Kenyon, C.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Chater, D.||Key, C. W.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Kirby, B. V.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Leslie, J. R.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Coldrick, W||Lever, N. H.||Thomas, D E. (Aberdare)|
|Collindridge, F.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Lindgren, G. S.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Upton, Lt.-Col. M.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||McAdam, W.||Usborne, Henry|
|Corvedale, Viscount||McEntee, V. La T.||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Cove, W. G.||Mack, J. D.||Viant, S. P.|
|Daines, P.||Manning, C (Camberwell, N.)||Wadsworth, G|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Marquand, H. A.||Walkden, E.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Mayhew, C. P.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Messer, F.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Mikardo, Ian||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Dobbie, W||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mitchison, Maj. G. R.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Morley, R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Edelman, M.||Nichol, Mrs M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Wilson, J. H|
|Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Wyatt, W.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Yates, V. F.|
|Field, Capt. W J.||Orbach, M.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Follick, M.||Paget, R. T.|
|Foot, M. M.||Palmer, A. M. F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Pargiter, G. A.||Mr. Joseph Henderson and|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Eccles, D. M.||Manningham-Buller, R. E|
|Bower, N.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D||Marsden, Capt. A|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Gammans, L. D.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Buchan Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gridley, Sir A.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Challen, C.||Grimston, R. V.||Nicholson, G.|
|Channon, H.||Haughton, S. G.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Cohant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Cooper-Key, E M.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Renton, D.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Drewe, C.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon, O.||Vane, W. M. F.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)||Commander Agnew and|
|Teeling, William||Williams, C. (Torquay)||Mr. Studholme.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Mr. Michael Stewart.]