HC Deb 18 February 1948 vol 447 cc1287-302

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. G. Wallace.]

9.36 p.m.

Mr. York (Ripon)

I have been caught at some disadvantage tonight in that my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling), who should have raised the subject of Mr. Anthony Brooke and Sarawak has unfortunately been detained, and I am left with the privilege of putting before the House one or two points in connection with the case until his arrival. The House will recall that this controversy arose out of somewhat curious proceedings which were undertaken by the Rajah of Sarawak at that time. As a consequence of those proceedings, the next in succession was prohibited from going to that country to find out the opinions of its people as to the method by which the Colony, as it now is, was taken over by the Government.

My hon. Friend will no doubt say to the House that there are many things to be explained by the Government. One of them—the most awkward—is that any British subject, whatever his qualifications of birth may be, should be prohibited from going to any part of the British Dominions. I hope that my hon. Friend, and other of my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side, will make clear exactly how we feel about this matter.

9.39 p.m.

Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)

The point which concerns my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling) and myself and others in this case has already been raised with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and if I may let the House have the facts in chronological order the importance of the point will become immediately clear. On 20th December, 1946, the Secretary of State purported to quote the reliable Press in the vicinity of Sarawak, or in Sarawak itself, and mentioned as a paper which constituted that Press, the "Sarawak Times." In fact, the right hon. Gentleman meant to quote the "Sarawak Tribune," but we do not intend to hold such minor muddlements against him in view of the more serious matters involved in this case.

The reason the right hon. Gentleman quoted the wrong paper was that it was a paper which shared his views against Mr. Anthony Brooke. What the right hon. Gentleman did not tell the House at that time was that the article from which he purported to quote, as giving legal opinion, had been written for that paper by the legal adviser to the Sarawak Government—an official of his own service. When the Under-Secretary replies to the Debate, I hope he will tell us whether it was known to his right hon. Friend, or to the Colonial Office in London that the article which was quoted as representing legal opinion was the contribution of an officer of the Government, written no doubt as part of an official campaign against Mr. Anthony Brooke.

That was not the end of the matter. This literary legal officer of the Sarawak Government pursued his labours with the pen and, on 3rd January, 1947, wrote a further article, attacking Mr. Anthony Brooke more strongly, and in more vigorous language. I am not going into the question of whether or not that article constitutes defamation, but the hon. Gentleman—and none better—will appreciate the reasons why I am not so doing. I merely mention, as part of the history of the matter which has been made out before, that Mr. Brooke was advised by counsel, whose name has been mentioned, and I need not mention it again, as it will be well known to the Minister that the article was defamatory. That is not the end of the matter, but that is the position. He then desired to commence proceedings in the court of Sarawak.

It is clear to every one, whether or not they have any legal knowledge, that if someone is defamed, the place where they want to clear themselves from such defamatory attacks is the place where the defamation is launched. Mr. Brooke endeavoured to take proceedings in Sarawak, and caused inquiries to be made [...] to the means of doing so. On 29th May, 1917, the Registrar of the Supreme Court in Sarawak wrote: There is, however, no provision for legal representation. On 26th June, he enlarged on that by saying that the usual procedure was for the plaintiff to present his plaint to the court of competent jurisdiction himself. At that time, Mr. Anthony Brooke was not permitted for reasons which have been explored in this House, to go to Sarawak. He was, therefore, in the position that he had been forbidden to go to this part of the British Empire. He has been attacked and, on his own showing, defamed in a paper published in that part of the British Empire, and in an article written by the legal adviser to the Government of that part of the British Empire. In those circumstances he not unnaturally requested that he should be allowed into this place, where there was no provision for legal representation, and at any rate be given the opportunity of clearing his name.

There was no question of any ignorance in the matter. The legal adviser admitted he had written the article, and, he did so, in fact, with a frankness which made obvious what is clear to everyone who knows the admitted facts. He himself wrote and emphasised in his letter to Mr. Brooke the fact that Mr. Brooke was prohibited from entering Sarawak, while presumably making the institution and taking of proceedings in Sarawak difficult, if not impossible. Further, he suggested that a very convenient course from his point of view and from that of Sarawak was that Mr. Brooke should take proceedings in Singapore or in this country.

On 12th August, Mr. Brooke was refused permission to go and prosecute his claim. Again, let me make it perfectly clear that Mr. Brooke not only stated that he desired to go for the purpose of putting forward his claim in this action, but that he desired naturally to press his right to be present to give evidence. He also undertook to co-operate with the authorities in any steps which they might think right to ensure that his arrival would not result in any untoward incident. What more could he have done? When I put certain questions to the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, he mentioned the point, which I have already stated, that Mr. Brooke could have brought his proceedings in Singapore or in this country. Let us once again look at the uncontradicted facts. The British Government, or through their legal representative who constitutes the British Government in that territory, put up an official to attack Mr. Brooke. They then deprived him of access to the place where the libel was published, and where it was clearly desired that it should have a certain effect, which was to lessen the position and status of Mr. Brooke among the people of that place. Moreover, this was done in a place where there is no provision for representation. In those circumstances he was refused access and told to bring the action elsewhere.

It must be obvious to the most hidebound official mind, as it is clearly obvious to anyone of the experience of the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State, that the amount of damages is not the only matter which is in the mind of someone who believes he has been defamed and brings an action therefor. Is it important, on the issue of damages. to get clear the extent of the injury which has been done to the person attacked. Whether hon. Members follow the law or not, they will realise that it is very important, when a libel has been spread either widely or among people who are of special concern to the person who has been defamed, that the person should clear his reputation in the eyes and minds of the people to whom the libel has been published. That can be done only if the evidence is appreciated and understood by those to whom it is presented.

Another essential purpose which may be most important, and is very important, when a libel is made by the official legal adviser to a government for a purpose which is the purpose of the Government and has been explained to be in complete accord with the policy of the Government, is to stop further publication of that libel. That can only be done by an injunction. To put the matter in an ordinary paraphrase and ordinary words, an injunction is to the effect that if one repeats the libel, one is not only acting against the person who is defamed but against the court which has told one to stop it.

The only court that can effectively enforce an injunction is one in the area where the person whom we want to injunct resides. It would not be of much use for anyone to get an injunction against an hon. Member of this House in the courts of Kamchatka, because those courts would have considerable difficulty in dealing with a person like the present Home Secretary. An injunction must he taken out in the country where [...] person resides. The only court that can effectively enforce such a legal decision in Sarawak would be the courts of Sarawak. That was an additional reason why it was essential to bring proceedings there.

I hope that the Under-Secretary will not think that I am avoiding this question. I am anxious not to go into matters which are not relevant, or into any criticism of those who have the legal office. The injunction was asked for a month ago, and was refused. In order to avoid judgment against him and the consequent legal difficulties which that involves, action had to be withdrawn. I do not want to indulge in any criticism, because it is no business of mine to criticise courts, wherever they operate, unless the matter has passed into the realm of clear fact and is beyond any matter that may arise in subsequent litigation. I am not shirking the point; I only want to state it and make it clear why I am not pursuing it at length.

We are concerned with the position of a citizen of the British Empire who wishes to litigate in the British Empire and is not permitted to do so. I have read with great care the speech of the hon. Gentleman, then a private Member of this House, and the speech of his right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary in dealing with this matter, and I have endeavoured to give such weight as they deserve to the remarks both of them made with regard to the Colonial ordinances which occur in many parts of the Empire with regard either to the deportation or non-admission of undesirables.

I am quite aware, as the hon. Gentleman probably knows, of these ordinances and their application in many directions, but that is quite a different matter from the case to which the hon. Gentleman humorously referred—I am not holding that against him; it was in his private capacity—from Singapore as an example of circumstances under which these ordinances may be used. There can be no precedent based in good law or equity, and there is nothing that can arise in the old words of international law, "ex aequo et bono" for the refusal to permit a person who claims to be wronged in part of the British Empire the very limited visit which is necessary to bring that action and establish one way or the other whether he has been wronged and, if he has been wronged, to restrain the people who have wronged him.

That is our point. I have deliberately abstained from going into any of the wider questions, but this House has throughout its history prided itself on the readiness with which any matter that concerns the liberty of the subject can be raised and the readiness with which it is met. We say that these circumstances, admitted as the facts are, show not only a gross invasion of the liberties of the subject but a denial of justice and a wrong without a remedy which it has for hundreds of years been the glory of English law to try to prevent.

9.59 p.m.

Mr. West (Pontypool)

The House has listened with great care to the case which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) has put up and we have all been impressed by the forensic skill which he displayed. I notice that this matter has been before the House on no fewer than 10 previous occasions, and tonight we gather from the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he is laying the greatest emphasis upon the right of Mr. Anthony Brooke to go to Sarawak to pursue a legal remedy for libel. On the previous occasions when this matter has been raised the important point stressed was, it appears from reading the reports, not so much the legal right to go to Sarawak to pursue a legal remedy but whether this gentleman should be entitled to go into that territory for the purposes of endeavouring to establish a claim—

It being Ten o'Clock the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Simmons.]

Mr. West

—but for the purpose of going into that territory to establish a claim which he seeks to set up to become Rajah of Sarawak. The House will have to consider with some care whether the case which has been put tonight really is the purpose of Mr. Anthony Brooke or whether it is not in fact a clever subterfuge so that he might get into the territory to achieve his ulterior purpose. It is quite clear that the gravest consideration must be given before any of the arguments put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman tonight could be accepted by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. John Foster (Northwich)

Is the hon. Member suggesting that Mr. Brooke got himself libelled on purpose in order to go to Sarawak?

Mr. West

I am suggesting that if there is in fact a libel—which, of course, the House is not yet in a position to judge for we only have the right hon. and learned Gentleman's view that Mr. Anthony Brooke has been libelled—but if Mr. Anthony Brooke is so concerned about his reputation and feels that he has been libelled, and if to vindicate his reputation is his main concern, then there are open to him opportunities of doing this in the highest and the fairest courts known in the world—he can bring his action in the United Kingdom. No one can deny that if he brought his action here he would have a fair trial. Therefore, if the argument really be that he desires to vindicate his reputation and his character, why has he not brought proceedings? As I understand it, no proceedings have been brought up to the present.

Mr. Foster

Does the hon. Member realise that all the witnesses are in Sarawak and that it would be complete nonsense to bring a case in England? Sarawak is the place where he has been libelled.

Mr. West

There is an opportunity. Indeed the right hon. and learned Gentleman will no doubt be able to give the necessary advice to the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. Foster) as to how the witnesses could be obtained. However, even if the United Kingdom were not considered appropriate, there is ample opportunity for him to take his proceedings in Singapore and, of course, there is the most important matter to be considered also—I gathered it from a reply made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies in reply to a Question—that no lawyers practise in Sarawak. Therefore, if Mr. Anthony Brooke were to bring his action to vindicate his character, he would have the opportunity of the great forensic skill of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to pursue his case in an appropriate court.

What really is the purpose of this agitation on the part of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite? Why is it that Mr. Anthony Brooke is so anxious to get into Sarawak? I suggest that there is another motive, and that this talk about a libel action is merely a specious excuse. I suggest that purpose is clearly indicated by the statements which this gentleman has made and which have been reported in the Press. I see in the "Evening Standard" of 4th November, 1946, that Mr. Anthony Brooke is reported as stating that he has decided to fight the plan for the annexation of Sarawak by Britain, and that he has instructed his lawyers to prepare a case for presentation to the Privy Council. This is as far back as 1946. If Mr. Anthony Brooke desired to test the legality of the annexation by Britain, why have proceedings not been instituted, and why is there this constant agitation that he should go into the territory for the purpose, the specious purpose, of pursuing a libel action? It seems that the aim is to be a declaration that the Order in Council is invalid by which Sarawak ceased to be an independent State, and became part of the Empire.

The report further points out that under the financial terms of the annexation Mr. Brooke receives £2,800 a year and it says that he is using his share to finance the campaign. Is it to finance the libel action or to finance the campaign which he seeks to embark upon in Sarawak? His allocation for the cession of Sarawak to Britain is £2,800 a year and, as I understand it, he has been receiving that money. He then, as he has clearly stated, decides to agitate that he should be established in Sarawak as the Rajah. He seems to want the best of both worlds. He wants to have the financial benefit and to become the Rajah as well.

There are a number of reports to which I could refer where this gentleman has stated that his sole purpose is to go to Sarawak and to find out whether they wanted him as the Rajah, not his uncle—after all he is only the heir presumptive—not his father, but whether they wanted him as the Rajah of Sarawak. We must remember there is a duty with which my right hon. Friend is charged. He must see that the territories are not disturbed and brought into a state of disorder and chaos. The agitation of this gentleman in the Press of this country and indeed some agitation in Sarawak demonstrates that there is an inspired organisation which contends that they want Mr. Anthony Brooke as the fourth Rajah of Sarawak. If that is the real purpose of the argument which has been adduced tonight it is only right and proper that the Colonial Secretary should view all the circumstances with very great care before any permission can be given to this man to enter that territory, because it must be remembered he has himself stated that the people there are in such a condition that they are not able to appreciate the fact and the operation of the constitution. Indeed, the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) who went to Sarawak said that the population of Dyaks, Malays, Chinese and various pagan tribes is largely illiterate in the ordinary sense of the word. It must be remembered that the condition that the right hon. Gentleman has to bear in mind is whether there is any doubt that there is likely to be strife and disorder through the agitation of this man and if there is any possibility of strife and disorder it is his duty to see that it does not occur.

The hon. Member for Hornsey had no doubt whatever in the statement he made. He said that the cession to the British Crown is the best thing for the people of Sarawak. Indeed, if that is so, I would ask my hon. Friend some questions in regard to this matter, because it is most important that the House should clearly understand what is the purpose of this agitation. I do not really understand why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken such a keen interest in this particular gentleman. I do not know that they have on other occasions even attempted to defend the rights of ordinary men and women in this country.—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, yes."]—They have raised the case of this particular gentleman on the Floor of the House of Commons on no fewer than 10 occasions. I do not know that they have ever persisted so long on behalf of a British subject in this country who has apparently been denied some right to justice here. Yet, on this occasion this particular gentleman must receive their most urgent consideration.

I am suggesting that it is not so that this gentleman might have the right to pursue his legal action but really that he might go into this territory and create disorder for the purpose of embarrassing His Majesty's Government. I wish, therefore, to ask my hon. Friend whether, in point of fact, since this territory has been ceded to His Majesty's Government the people of Sarawak have not benefited under our rule, and whether they themselves do not now appreciate the benefits that are being conferred upon them by the fact that they are now within the Empire.

I would also like to ask my hon. Friend whether Mr. Anthony Brooke himself is not aware of the situation now prevailing there. If he is, and is so anxious to go into that territory, it can only be for the purpose of trying to usurp the present authority in order that he might become the Rajah of that territory. I know that other Members desire to speak and for that reason I will not continue further—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I am glad to hear the jeers of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite because I know that when we receive jeers from that side of the House we are almost invariably right. I ask my hon. Friend to inform the House whether the conditions in Sarawak have not considerably improved as a result of British rule.

10.13 p.m.

Mr. William Teeling (Brighton)

In the few minutes that remain to me, due to the length of the speech of the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. West), who has just been put up, obviously upon a ludicrous brief, might I refer him to the Debate on the Motion for the Adjournment in December, 1946, in which almost every single point he raised was answered. It was then stated that the position of Mr. Anthony Brooke would be reviewed over a period of time. I raised this question two or three times, and it was therefore finally decided that this evening we should be informed whether he could go back or not. The hon. Member who is to reply to the Debate will not be able to show that since those days of December, 1946, until today Mr. Brooke has done a single act which could possibly prevent him from going back any more or less than at the date of that particular Adjournment Debate.

Since then in the Far East the question has been constantly raised, and those who thought it was a good thing that Great Britain had given up India, Burma, and other places are becoming most unhappy over the fact that Sarawak has, on the contrary, been annexed by us. Very clearly and determinedly the Colonial Office referred to this annexation as cession, not annexation. We had a similar problem in Malaya, where we called it annexation and then had to go back on it in spite of the MacMichael Report. Unfortunately we keep talking about the question of Sarawak here as if it was "cession." Today we find in every visa issued from Sarawak that it is no longer the question of "cession" on the passport, but the word used is "annexed." Furthermore, Mrs. Brooke, the wife of Anthony Brooke, has been for many months in Sarawak. There nave been no riots or trouble or worry about her visit, but she has been told by the Government—they will not provide her with any definite statement in writing—that if she goes to join her husband in Singapore, she may not be allowed to return. They say that it may be a question of the conditions at a particular moment. That is disgraceful and a definite breaking up of a family. The children are remaining in England.

The hon. Member for Pontypool referred to the question of £2,800 a year. Perhaps he does not realise that the Rajah and the Rajah's brother received a sum of money. It was well over £1 million that they should have received as it was one of the biggest private estates in the world. The Rajah and his brother received their money free of Income Tax and they receive more than our Prime Minister. But Mr. Anthony Brooke, who was to receive his money on the same basis, has his £2,800 cut down by Income Tax, because he wants to go and fight for the cause of the people in Sarawak. It is, in other words, just another financial effort of the Government to make his position more difficult.

I wish to make it clear, however, that we are not now fighting over that issue. Today we are discussing the legal question of whether a British subject can, or cannot, go back to Sarawak and have discussions in regard to the libel action. The hon. Member for Pontypool must remember that when in December the present Colonial Secretary quoted from local papers and referred to an article by the "legal adviser," we were not told then that it was the Legal Adviser. The Colonial Secretary tried to get away with the fact that it was just an ordinary newspaper. It was not only the legal adviser, but the same man who on the occasion of that very famous debate in the Oxford Union before the war led the debate against fighting for King and country Today he is the Attorney-General of Sarawak. That is the type of person we are dealing against and worried about.

Sarawak in the years to come might quite easily, with the Brooke family, work together with the British Government, for they are very loyal, and everything could have been all right. What is now fast happening is that a position is arising whereby many of the people are turning against the Brooke family, and are out for a separate republic, and before we know where we are we shall have a second Indonesia. That is what the Colonial Office has brought upon itself.

10.18 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Rees-Williams)

There are, in fact, two issues here and they are so closely interwoven that it is very difficult to separate them. There is the broad issue of cession and the attempt of Mr. Anthony Brooke to restore the Raj to the Brooke family in his own person, and the other issue to which the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) has alluded tonight. It is impossible to separate the two; it is obviously impossible because the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling) in his speech concentrated on cession and hardly mentioned the other issue at all.

One thing he said I think was very significant. He said that Sarawak, a country the size of England, was the Brooke's private estate. I should have thought the time had now gone when half a million people could be regarded as anybody's private estate. We in the Colonial Office look at the matter from the point of view of what the people want and what is to their best advantage. The House will remember that the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) and I went out there. We made a tour—not an extensive tour; we could not in the time—with the object of finding out, if possible, whether there was a feeling towards cession in the country, or whether everyone was against it We eventually came to the conclusion that there was enough feeling for cession, and enough feeling which was neutral to justify the matter going to the State Council.

On the narrow issue, the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby said that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies quoted "The Times" when he meant the "Tribune." It is a good thing he did not make that mistake in this country as, otherwise, it would have led to a great deal more mis- understanding than in Sarawak. But I may say that he did not realise he was making a misquotation of the name of a newspaper, nor did he or anyone in the Colonial Office know that the author of this anonymous article, of which complaint has been made, was, in fact, the Legal Adviser. I am not going to justify that. I think it was improper for an officer of the Colonial Service—I am not arguing, for the moment, whether it was libellous or not—to make an anonymous attack upon a person who is politically concerned with the future of that country. I understand—

Mr. Teeling

Why has he been promoted since then to be Attorney-General?

Mr. Rees-Williams

The change was made in the title; before, he was Legal Adviser, and we now call him Attorney-General.

Mr. Teeling

Did he get any more money?

Mr. Rees-Williams

That is not promotion; that is merely a change in title. I should have thought hon. Members would accept the fact that we do not justify that action. The Legal Adviser wrote to Mr. Brooke on 26th June, 1947, and admitted the authorship. He submitted to the jurisdiction of the courts, either in the United Kingdom or Singapore. Singapore is only two hours away by air, and there is a very constant flow of information and of life and trade between the two places, Kuching and Singapore. He also informed Mr. Brooke, and Mr. Brooke's solicitors, that, if it was so desired, the court would permit Mr. Brooke to appear by attorney in the courts of Sarawak. Mr. Brooke did not accept either of those alternatives, with the result that, at the present moment, Mr. Brooke has not proceeded with his libel action.

The question as to whether Mr. Brooke can be excluded is, I am advised, one upon which there is no doubt. Under the law of Sarawak, he can be excluded by the Chief Secretary, and has been so excluded. The reason he has been excluded is not because of the libel action, or any matter of that kind, but simply and solely because of this political matter—the cession. Mr. Brooke is a pretender to the throne of Sarawak; that is the point. He is not in the position of any ordinary British subject. He is the pretender to the throne, and his presence in Sarawak, we are advised would inevitably lead, or would very probably lead, to insurrection. We have taken up this matter quite recently.

Mr. Teeling

Why, if cession is such a success?

Mr. Rees-Williams

I will tell the hon. Gentleman why in a moment. We have taken up this matter quite recently with the Governor-General, who has been here on leave. Hon. Members will know Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, and will know that he is a man of political experience, and is not likely to come to a conclusion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—No one can deny that he has had considerable political experience and that he is not likely to come to a conclusion of this kind without carefully weighing it up. [An HON. MEMBER: "What did you say about him in 1931"?] In addition to that, this is 1948; hon. Members opposite never realise that.

I also took the opportunity of discussing this matter with the Chief Secretary, whom I have known for many years, and who was an officer in the Malayan Service and is very experienced. He was very much against admitting Mr. Brooke. We also consulted the Governor, and all three of these responsible officers said that, on no account, should Mr. Brooke be admitted to Sarawak. [Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman is very funny, and it is all right being funny sitting here, but there are no troops in Sarawak and no roads, and if there is insurrection, with an inflammable population, some people will lose their lives. It is a matter of life and death that we are talking about. It may be very funny talking about it here, but it is not so funny out in Kuching—

Mr. Teeling

Who has brought all this trouble?

Mr. Rees-Williams

No one has brought this trouble; it arose out of the cession by the Rajah partly because he did not think Mr. Brooke was fit to be Rajah. All these responsible officers say that, if we let him in, there is a small proportion of the population which might, and probably would, back him, and there would be insurrection. We have there a country the size of England with no roads whatever, outside the few towns, and no troops. We have a country which has only recently been restored from the Japanese, and, when the Japanese were there between 1945 and 1946, they took 1,500 heads in Sarawak from the Japanese and a few others by mistake. We have that situation to meet, and if we have insurrection in a country like that, with no troops, no roads and a population part of which is used to head-hunting and is not yet civilised, then we are imposing upon the government of that country, and, consequently, upon this Government and finally ourselves, a very serious responsibility indeed.

That is the position that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies was facing. Was he to disregard the unanimous opinion of the Governor-General, the Governor and the Chief Secretary. [Interruption.] I am not worried about the Attorney-General, because he is not an administrative officer. The question was whether to admit Mr. Brooke or not. That was the reason that we decided that we would not admit Mr. Brooke in those circumstances at the present time. Mr. Brooke has recourse to the courts here or in Singapore or the courts of Sarawak by attorney; he can take any of hese steps he wishes and the present Attorney-General will submit himself as defendant in any one of these courts in these three territories. That offer is still open to Mr. Brooke.

In these circumstances, therefore, I feel that, in this peculiar situation—and I admit it is only one in 50 million—the Government cannot go back on their decision but must leave it as it is. These circumstances are not likely to arise again, because I do not think we are likely to have another cession of another territory. There are not many left now, and we are not likely to have many more.

Mr. Teeling

In view of the fact that it cannot be proved that Mr. Brooke has been disloyal, would it not he better to let him go back and organise forces to prevent disorder?

Mr. Rees-Williams

We cannot prove a negative in any case, and it is not a question of his disloyalty His presence in Sarawak might be highly inflammatory to some parts of the population.

The Question having been proposed after Ten o'Clock, and the Debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at Half-past Ten o'Clock.