HC Deb 24 February 1949 vol 461 cc2042-88

4.3 p.m.

Motion made, and Question proposed. That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £12,695,010, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1949, for sundry Colonial and Middle Eastern Services under His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including certain non-effective services and grants in aid."—[Mr. Rees-Williams.)

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

The first item on this Vote refers to a sum relating to North Borneo amounting to £100,000. A financial settlement between H.M. Government and the Governments of North Borneo and Sarawak was announced in the House in answer to a Question on 14th December, 1948, and it included a provision that H.M. Government should make free grants towards the cost of reconstruction in North Borneo. North Borneo suffered very heavy war devastation; in fact, something like 90 per cent. of the buildings in the towns were destroyed, and, since the transfer of administration from the Chartered Company to the Crown on 15th July, 1946, North Borneo has been in receipt of grants and allowances in aid of expenses of administration.

It is a matter for congratulation that, in the case of both territories, they have made very substantial progress towards recovery, and the grants which it is proposed to make for the financial years 1949–50 and 1950–51, or for a longer period if the pace of reconstruction is slower than anticipated, will total £1,100,000, plus the unexpended balance of £500,000 of the 1948–49 provision for grants in aid of the expenses of administration. I have alluded to the fact that these territories have rehabilitated themselves very handsomely since the war, and I am glad to say that North Borneo can now meet its normal expenditure of administration from revenue, and only needs assistance in order to balance its reconstruction budget.

I am sure that the Committee would like it to go forth from here that we appreciate the efforts of the Governments of North Borneo and Sarawak—because Sarawak is in the same position—and also of the planters and others in industry which have enabled these countries to get back on their feet so quickly. When one realises how many countries are still suffering from the devastation of war, one feels that North Borneo, which was devastated to an extent to which no other was devastated, can be congratulated on the efforts it has made, and I am sure that any tributes paid by this Committee will be most appreciated by the people of North Borneo.

No further issues will be made of the normal grant-in-aid provision as such, and the amount outstanding on 30th September, 1948, is shown as a saving. The purpose of the present provision in fact is to revise the arrangements beyond the period in which the present financial year ends, and Parliamentary approval is necessary in view of the change of the scope of the grant.

Turning to British Somaliland, this territory has been under the British military administration since 1941, and only reverted to its natural home, the Colonial Office, on 15th November, 1948. The Protectorate was liberated in 1941, and since then His Majesty's Government have had to revert to the pre-war practice of supplementing the local revenue with funds exclusive of grants under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. This is one of the territories of the Colonial Empire, of which there are several, which we must bear in mind when talking about constitutional advance. Up to now, the assistance which has been given has come from the Army Votes, and now that the civil administration has been restored and has been taken over by the Colonial Office, it has become necessary to seek approval for financial provision to cover the expenses of administration from 15th November, 1948, the date on which we took over, until 31st March, 1949. The sum required for this period is £215,000. There will, of course, be an equal saving, or an approximately equal saving, in the War Office Vote.

Before the war, the Government were limited both by policy and circumstances—the hard circumstances of a more or less desert territory—to the preservation of law and order. But the changed circumstances and the coming into power of a Labour Government have made it both desirable and possible to take more positive action, not only in the political field, but also in the economic and social fields. There is much rehabilitation work to be done in the Protectorate. Buildings and equipment are required, and a limited expansion of the social services must be provided. Provision is also to be made for a war damage compensation scheme likely to cost £150,000, but very little, if any, of this sum will be spent before 31st March, 1949.

Provision must also be made to attract the right type of European staff. It is accepted policy that the type of officer appointed to the territory should be equal to that of those appointed to other territories, and also that officers should not serve the whole of their service in the territory, but that there should be a normal interchange, as in the case of other Colonies. The language question, of course, arises here, but I personally do not see why that should be a barrier to interchange with British Somaliland any more than anywhere else. I mention this because before the war there was a certain stagnation about the interchangeability of officers between British Somaliland and other territories, and I believe that doubts have been expressed on that point by the Opposition. If they feel any doubts, I hope that what I have now said will clear them.

The next item on the Vote is that relating to British Honduras. When the 1948 Estimates for British Honduras were approved, though a deficit seemed probable, it was impossible to foresee accurately what would be the effect of certain proposed increases in revenue. It was hoped that the Colony might balance it budget, and for this reason no grant in aid was in fact provided for. As a matter of fact, I am glad to say that the revenue has increased. It has been increased by some £22,000, and also the Colony has been relieved of certain charges on loans for hurricane relief, but certain unforeseen expenditure of a miscellaneous nature has been incurred, such as expenditure on public works, including the cost of roads and certain repairs made necessary by an exceptionally heavy storm of rain during June. In order to enable the Colony to balance its budget, therefore it is necessary to provide them with a grant in aid of £35,000.

Certain questions will undoubtedly be raised as to the policy in British Honduras with regard to the unemployed. I have certain figures; if the Committee are interested, and if the matter is raised, my right hon. Friend or I will be prepared to deal with it at a later stage. The schemes which we have in mind, and which will be affected to some extent by this sum, include steps to deal with the immediate problem of unemployment in British Honduras. They are schemes of a nature which will help to solve or relieve the immediate problem, but, of course, in the long run there must be an improvement in the basic economy of the country. These are only what might be described as patchwork schemes, and until we tackle the main problems in the country there can be no real attack upon unemployment. As the Committee know, we are getting down to that now.

The main plan is to build up the agricultural economy from scratch, and to make it a flourishing industry. There has been very little agriculture as we know it in British Honduras, because they mainly buy their food from outside. A new Governor has recently gone to British Honduras. Before he left we had a long conversation with him in the Colonial Office, and we were very pleased to note his great interest in these matters, including economic development. We know that he is studying the results of the work of the rehabilitation committee which has been operating in the West Indies, and the results of which may be applied to some extent in British Honduras.

There is an item in the Estimates dealing with Malta. The Committee will remember that during and immediately after the war His Majesty's Government made large financial contributions to assist Malta to carry the burden of subsidies on food. In July, 1946, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies announced in Parliament in the course of a general financial statement that the United Kingdom contributions towards the cost of food subsidies would be tapered off from £900,000 in 1946–47 to £450,000 in 1947–48, and would then cease. The handsome contribution, of course, was the grant of £30 million to Malta for war damage reconstruction. The granting of self-government in Malta occurred in November, 1947, that is, shortly before the end of the last financial year in which His Majesty's Government were contributing to food subsidies.

A delegation from the Malta Government, headed by the Prime Minister, Dr. Boffa, visited London in March and April, 1948, and pressed for a continuation of United Kingdom assistance towards food subsidies at that time. After full discussion, it was agreed that His Majesty's Government would reconsider their decision to stop assistance towards food subsidies at the end of March, 1948, having regard to the brief time which the new Malta Government had had to adapt their finances to the situation since they took office. The financial and economic position of the United Kingdom was, however, brought home to the Malta delegation, and it was made clear to them that there could be no question of indefinite continuation of this form of assistance which would, indeed, seem to be incompatible with the grant of internal self-government.

The Secretary of State informed the Malta delegation that subject to Parliamentary approval, His Majesty's Government would contribute up to a maximum of £300,000 towards the expenditure of the Malta Government on food subsidies in the financial year 1948–49 on the following conditions: first, that the Malta Government would continue food subsidies in the whole of that financial year—that is to say, it would not come to an abrupt end; secondly, that should the Malta Government taper off their total expenditure on food subsidies, the Imperial contribution would be one-half the actual expenditure of the Malta Government in the full year, subject to an over-riding maximum of £300,000; and last, that His Majesty's Government would not make any further contribution towards the cost of food subsidies in the year 1948–49 or in any succeeding year. This agreement was published in the Press on 6th April, 1948, and was also announced in reply to a Parliamentary Question on 26th May, 1948.

On the latter occasion, as is so often the case, there was some slight difference of opinion which appeared in supplementary questions, both on the score that we should do more to assist Malta and, on the other hand, that we had already treated them very generously in other directions. Therefore, as there are these differences of opinion, I think it is fairly clear that this was a handsome gesture on the part of His Majesty's Goverment to this very gallant little island and to its Government who have been dealing very honestly and capably with the problems which they have met since they have had internal self-government. I am glad to say that just recently, as a result of a decision of the court of arbitration which recently considered wages in the Malta dockyard, considerable increases of wages are being granted, and this will, no doubt, be reflected in the economy of Malta. The Malta Government have estimated to spend £770,000 on food subsidies in the full year, of which £320,000 have actually been spent in the first six months. They have carried out their share of the bargain and it is, therefore, proposed to issue the grant of £300,000 in full as we have promised.

I next turn to St. Lucia. As the Committee may know, in June, 1948, a fire broke out at St. Lucia, which had the same effect in Castries, the capital town, as the fire of London had in the City of London in the reign of King Charles II. It had a very devastating effect. I believe the fire of London broke out in a baker's shop. This fire at St. Lucia broke out in a tailor's shop. The main town of Castries was destroyed almost entirely; four-fifths of the town was destroyed by that fire. It caused damage amounting to approximately £2 million and it rendered 400 families homeless. Those people have found temporary accommodation in the town and also in some old military premises just outside the town which were placed at their disposal. Some of them, of course, have joined friends in other little villages round about. As the Committee can imagine, there has been a very considerable disturbance in the family life of Castries.

Those who are now living with friends are suffering from a housing situation which is unparalleled by anything we know in this country. They are living in highly overcrowded conditions. Relief funds have been made available by other West Indian Governments, by private individuals and also by the West India Committee. His Majesty's Government feel that it is imperative upon the Government—and I am sure the people of this country will feel the same way—to come to the assistance of this little island.

We have granted £35,000 for the purpose of erecting temporary housing. making grants to enable business premises to be restored, and to cover the cost of emergency supplies of food and clothing which were flown in immediately after the fire. That was a temporary payment to cover immediate first-aid matters which arose. The issue of that sum was made under the Civil Contingencies Fund and the sum now required is to enable that fund to be re-imbursed before 31st March. I am glad to say that discussions have almost reached completion on the financing of the cost of rehabilitation which does not, of course, affect this Vote. I hope that shortly my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be in a position to make a comprehensive announcement on the question of rehabilitating and rebuilding Castries. I hope it will be rebuilt on a plan which will make it a model town in that part of the world.

I turn to Hong Kong, in the Vote for which the sum of £10 will be seen. That, of course, is a token sum. On 26th April, 1948, in reply to a Question in the House of Commons by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) a statement was made about war damage compensation in the Malayan territories and in Hong Kong. The statement referred to a declaration made in October, 1942, that after the War His Majesty's Government would, if necessary, assist Colonial Governments in making good property and goods damaged during the War. It went on to say, regarding Hong Kong, that while accepting the Hong Kong Government's recommendation that no war damage compensation should be paid from public funds, His Majesty's Government nevertheless were anxious to give practical assistance to the Colony as evidence of our goodwill. Against this background, it has accordingly been agreed, among other things, that His Majesty's Government should give Hong Kong a free grant of £1 million to assist in resolving problems which have arisen out of expenditure connected with the war and should make a free grant of £250,000 to the Hong Kong University.

The £1 million is in the nature of a block grant to be taken into general revenue and is not linked with specific items of war expenditure. If the Committee wish to hear them, I can give some examples of the type of thing we have in mind. First, pay and pensions for members of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps—approximately £360,000. I am sure no one here would object to that. They behaved very gallantly in very difficult circumstances and for their action at that time they deserve what little remuneration we can give them. I am glad to say, as I mentioned only two days ago, that we are restoring the Volunteer Force in Hong Kong and having the three elements represented in it. Secondly, payments to civil defence workers of approximately £355,000. I am sure that, also, will commend itself to the Committee. Thirdly, reinstatement of Currency Security Funds, liquidated by the Japanese, amounting to approximately £647,000.

The free grant to the University is to assist general rehabilitation. The fabric of the building was very badly knocked about and I also understand that the furniture, the instruments, the laboratories and so on were looted. They need a good deal of money to assist them to get going again. We have not yet had any details as to what are the particular projects for which this money is to be used, but no doubt it will be put to the best possible advantage. My right hon. Friend has taken a very considerable personal interest in this University because he believes that the University in Hong Kong could have an enormous influence not only in the Colony but also in a much wider area. It is hoped that the culture which will be apparent there, the learning which will be received in the arts and various other faculties, will be of great advantage to people in a wide area and furthermore will assist in showing to the people of the Far East something of our British way of life.

Token provision only is made for those items, in order to obtain Parliamentary authority. In 1949–50 provision will be made to enable the whole of the £1 million for war expenditure and the £250,000 grant for the University to be paid to Hong Kong. It may be that we shall not have to pay the whole of the £250,000 next year. It may be that only part of it will be paid, and in that case only that part will appear in the Estimates.

I come to Palestine which, of course, consumes by far the greatest amount of this Vote and which will possibly raise many more questions and comments than the other items which I have mentioned. The high hopes which followed the plan for partition in Palestine, under which the United Nations would provide for the Mandatory Power to hand the administration of Palestine over to a Commission appointed by the United Nations so as to establish Arab and Jewish states and an international state in the City of Jerusalem, and so that the states should be united in an economic union of Palestine, with the establishment of a joint economic board, have, as the Committee knows, not been borne out. Although members of the United Nations Secretariat arrived in Palestine to study economic and financial problems they were compelled to withdraw, following the breakdown of the administration and the security position within the country.

On 14th May, 1948, the withdrawal of the British Administration took place without handing over to a responsible authority any of the assets, property or liabilities of the Mandatory Power. The manner in which the withdrawal took place is unprecedented in the history of our Empire but I would say this: our thanks should go to all those who were responsible for the withdrawal because they certainly acted in a most efficient and, so far as they were soldiers, soldier-like manner. In all the difficulties and confusion of that time I do not think sufficient expression of thanks has been given to our civil, military, naval and air officers who were concerned in that operation.

We were then left in the position that, until such time as the successor Government were capable of administering affairs, there were, within certain limits, obligations to meet certain liabilities there in the period immediately following the termination of the Mandate which could not be indefinitely postponed. As was said in the Debate on the Palestine Bill on 10th March, the liquid assets of the Palestine Government are now vested in the Crown Agents, and they have to be used as far as possible to meet liabilities falling due after 14th May. They have proved insufficient for the purpose, as we expected they would, and as we intimated during the Debate.

The first of these liabilities to which special consideration must be given is in respect of the deficit as revealed by the accounts as at 14th May. It was stated in the House on 23rd March, 1948, that Palestine would be faced with this considerable deficit and that it would have to be met. The second important liability is the payment of compensation and statutory benefits and leave rates to former expatriate and non-expatriate officers. It was said in a written reply to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) on 1st March, 1948, that these officers had the assurance of His Majesty's Government that they would receive the payments due to them as set out in the annexures to the reply—that is, until such time as the successor authority could possibly take over. The matter was mentioned in the Palestine Debate. Such payments are clearly in accordance with Article 28 of the Mandate, which says: In the event of the termination of the Mandate hereby conferred upon the Mandatory, the Council of the League of Nations shall make such arrangements as may be deemed necessary for safeguarding in perpetuity, under guarantee of the League, the rights secured by Articles 13 and 14, and shall use its influence for securing, under the guarantee of the League, that the Government of Palestine will fully honour the financial obligations legitimately incurred by the Administration of Palestine, during the period of the Mandate, including the rights of public servants to pensions or gratuities. That reads more like a pious hope that we shall get back what we paid from the successor authority, but it does at least imply that there is an obligation on the administering authority to meet certain claims, and we wish to meet them. It must be emphasised that none of these items for which provision is to be made can be postponed. In the interests of the people of Palestine—they may be living in Palestine or outside Palestine—we believe that it is necessary that these claims should be honoured, otherwise they will be put into great difficulty in many cases.

In the view of His Majesty's Government the financial commitment involved as shown by these Estimates is in the nature of an advance by the United Kingdom Government and a liability to be assumed by the successor authority. I want to make that quite clear. No approach has yet been made to open financial negotiations with a successor Arab Government or with the Israeli Government, to whom de facto recognition has been extended by His Majesty's Government, but His Majesty's Minister to the Israeli Government has now been appointed, and it is expected that after he has taken up his office financial negotiations will begin, although a considerable amount of preliminary discussion may take place in the near future.

The accounts now available show that there was a deficit at 31st March, 1948, of £1,082,000 estimated to have increased to £3,320,000 on 14th–15th May, 1948. This deficit will be met, as has already been explained, but it is not expected that the full sum of £3,320,000 will be required until after 31st March, 1949. The sum of £2,750,000 only will be required up to 31st March, 1949, to meet those liabilities which present an urgent need for settlement.

They are made up in this way. First, there is the Benzine Fund account of £45,000. This sum represents the amount due to the oil companies from the additional levy on sales of benzine to meet compensation for loss and damage at the Haifa refinery and installations. Secondly, there is £1,656,000 due to the Custodian of Enemy Property. These deposits were included in the surplus investments of the Mandatory Government, but the investments were realised to meet the heavy expenditure during the closing stages of the Mandate. It is necessary to replace these funds and pay the sum due to the successor Government or Governments. Then there is a sum of £525,000 due for Customs, Posts and Telegraphs and Special Police Posts. Certain sums were deposited by individuals and private firms for these services, and it is necessary to make reimbursements in those cases where claims for them can be substantiated.

Then there is the Provident Fund of £489,000. The investments were realised to meet expenses immediately due for payment of abolition benefits, and replacement of these funds is required to meet the individual amounts due to contributors to the fund. Then there are withdrawal expenses and office expenses at Cyprus and in the United Kingdom amounting to £300,000. The full cost of the withdrawal from Palestine of the British Administration could not be met before 14th–15th May, and the cost of passages and other connected expenses falls as a direct charge on the Palestine funds. The sum of £100,000 will be required for this purpose, and £200,000 is required to meet the expenses of the Clearance Office in Cyprus and the Police Depot in the United Kingdom. These were set up to deal with outstanding accounts of the former Palestine Government. They also deal with the computation of abolition benefits to former officials of the Mandatory Government.

Then we come to the outstanding commitments to the Ministry of Food at 14th May. These amounted to £2,030,000 in February and March, 1948. Arrangements were made to extend foodstuffs allocations to Palestine to secure a reserve supply of essential cereals and other things of that kind up to 30th June, 1948. This was—I hope it will be realised by the world at large—a gesture, which has not received any acknowledgment, so far as I am aware.

Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)

Did the hon. Gentleman expect it would?

Mr. Rees-Williams

We do not expect, but hope for the best. It was hoped that the successor Government through their own organisation would arrange and assume responsibility for future supplies after that date. The Government Agents accepted, on behalf of the Palestine Government, the receipt of consignments, and arranged distribution to Arabs and Jews at various centres in Palestine. The repayment in respect of the outstanding bills amounts, as I have already mentioned, to £2,030,000 to the Ministry of Food, and £1,100,000 has already been repaid.

Mr. Gammans

Has been repaid?

Mr. Rees-Williams

Yes, since 15th May. A further sum of £669,000 has been received by Government Agents in Palestine for the credit of the Palestine Account, but owing to restrictions imposed by the Israeli Government in September, 1948, it has not been possible to effect the remittance of this sum to the United Kingdom. Our Agents are holding the money, but we are not allowed to transmit it here because of the order of the Israeli Government. £1,769,000 has been realised from the sale of food and the balance of £261,000 has not yet been accounted for. Owing to lack of contact with the Government Agents, we are not able to say how much of this £261,000 may become available or in fact may already have been paid into the account. The amount of £1,100,000 which has already been received will be brought to account as an Exchequer receipt, as will sums yet to be remitted from Palestine, so as to offset the payment of £2,030,000 to the Ministry of Food for which provision is now made. The Committee will see that that amount will in all probability be wiped off in due course. It is not an amount for which there is no hope of repayment.

The other items amount to £800,000, of which £500,000, covering claims outstanding at the termination of the Mandate, are still subject to investigation and inquiry. These claims have been scheduled and are awaiting payment. They also include items for the widows and dependants of the Palestine police who lost their lives through acts of terrorism. Provision has been made for the payment of indents ordered through the Crown Agents and falling due for payment after the termination of the mandate.

Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)

Are any of these outstanding claims, claims by citizens resident in Israel or Arab citizens resident in Palestine?

Mr. Rees-Williams

There may be some among them. This is a general item, and it is possible that some of those resident dependants may be dependants of the Palestine police. The balance of £300,000 is made up of outstanding local accounts on the termination of the Mandate. It was quite impossible to settle all accounts overnight, and therefore we had to meet these accounts as direct liabilities against any assets estimated by the former Government. There is a public debt charge of £330,000 which is required to meet the increased sinking fund charge on the Palestine three per cent. guaranteed stock 1962–1967 for the financial year ending 31st March. 1949, and secondly, certain sinking fund charges on the five per cent. Palestine bearer bonds for the financial year ending 31st March, 1949, and interest due on the various issues up to the termination of the Mandate.

Mr. Gammans

Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say by that statement that if the new Israeli Government refuse to accept liability for this loan, we may have an item like this in our Estimates for the next 25 years?

Mr. Rees-Williams

That is a matter which perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would like to develop if he catches the Chairman's eye, and I will reply to it later. I do not want to keep the Committee with too much detail now.

Mr. Gammans

Can the hon. Gentleman say "yes" or "no"? I do not want to develop the matter.

Mr. Rees-Williams

I would not like to put it as bluntly as "yes" or "no" because obviously these matters are always the subject of negotiation. Certainly the guaranteed stock is a liability which falls on successor States, and therefore in any negotiations which may take place we hope that they will take over the responsibility for the guaranteed stock.

With regard to the Palestine bearer bonds, His Majesty's Government have no responsibility whatever for those. They are purely Palestine Government bonds and have not the backing of His Majesty's Government. As to the abolition benefits, the items include disturbance grants, Service grauties, commuted pensions, provident fund compensation payments, notice leave, continuing salaries and gratuities, and the amounts due in all cases are calculated according to the formula set out in the negotiations and the annexure of 1st March to which I have referred. On the termination of the Mandate, the staff employed by the Mandatory Government and entitled to abolition benefits of one form or another was approximately 4,750 ex-patriate officers of whom some 4,000 were British other ranks, and 42,000 non-expatriate officers. I am glad to say that not more than 20 of the expatriate officers remain for whom it is hoped to secure further employment. If the House would like to know the details, I should be glad to make known at a later stage how many of these expatriate police officers have been fixed up in various employments in this country. I think that the House would be glad to know that a very satisfactory number of them have been found posts either in this country or in the Colonies, particularly in Malaya.

All ex-patriate officers have received their abolition benefits as they became due. The non-expatriate officers are for the most part being paid through Consular Posts and it is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 have not yet received payment. This is not our fault but due to the fact that we have not had from them their places of residence and we have not been able to pay them. In the case of non-expatriates, abolition benefits have been withheld until it can be ascertained that they have not been successful in obtaining employment with the successor Government or, on the other hand, that they have been so successful.

The amount of pensions for the expatriates is £140,000 and for the non-expatriates £520,000. There are roughly 550 expatriate pensions and 8,000 non-expatriate. As regards the non-expatriate officers, the statutory pensions for these officers who have qualified for pensions under the pensions rules have been granted, but a compensatory pension or cash payment in lieu has been withheld initially, pending clarification of the prospects of their employment by the successor authority under the same terms as the Government of Palestine. That is an important differentiation between the two classes—expatriates and non-expatriates—and also between the expatriates who have been taken on by the successor Government and those who have not been taken on.

Finally, I come to the Jewish illegal immigrant camps, and the amount there is £850,000. These camps were first created in August, 1946, and they accommodated some 35,000 Jews the last of whom left on 11th February, when the camps were finally closed, following His Majesty's Government decision to give de facto recognition to the Israeli Government. The camps were built and maintained by the War Department, who are being reimbursed by the Government of Palestine. The amount of £850,000 now required will be paid to the War Office, who met the estimated cost of these camps on behalf of the Mandatory Government up to the date of the final evacuation. There are certain savings, but I understand that it is not in Order on these occasions to go into any particulars with reference to them, but if hon. Members are successful in some way in coming within the rules of Order and ask questions on them, I shall be pleased to inform them of what are the savings, and to satisfy their lawful curiosity.

4.50 p.m.

Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)

I wish to ask one or two questions, and I will begin by referring to North Borneo. Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that this Vote is in respect not only of North Borneo but of Sarawak as well?

Mr. Rees-Williams

No, it is in respect only of North Borneo. I only instanced Sarawak by saying that they also had made excellent efforts towards restoring their finances.

Mr. Gammans

Then I understand that there is to be no Vote of this kind for Sarawak. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the speed at which North Borneo has got on to its feet, but I very much doubt whether the language which the hon. Gentleman used was strictly accurate. He described it as the most devastated country in the world. That is surely a slight exaggeration? What happened in North Borneo was that one or two towns—there are not many big ones—were bombed towards the end of the war, but no damage whatever was done to North Borneo's agriculture, fishing or villages. To suggest that it was the most devastated country in the world, while no doubt supposed to make possible a tribute to what can be done by way of rehabilitation under Socialism, is, as I think the hon. Member will agree, piling it on a bit too thick.

Does this grant in aid refer in any way to the damage suffered by individuals, because throughout the Far East there are individuals who lost everything during the Japanese occupation? Four years have gone by since the war ended, and we have raised this question in the House on many occasions. So far as I know, not a single individual in any country in the Far East has received a cent. Does this item refer to individuals, and, if not, when may we expect this matter to be cleared up?

The hon. Gentleman said that North Borneo had now balanced its Budget, and that this £100,000 was required only for what he called its reconstruction Budget. Is there to be no other reconstruction Budget for North Borneo? I take it that this item does not represent the sum total of the Government's plans for developing that country. The potentialities of North Borneo are enormous.

Mr. Rees-Williams

The hon. Gentleman cannot have heard what I said. I know it is awkward to follow figures, but this is the first payment on this account. Actually the sum will be £1,100,000, plus the £500,000 which is in excess during this year on the normal budgetary grant in aid.

Mr. Gammans

I am quite satisfied, provided that the hon. Member's reply means that the Government are fully alive to the great potentialities of North Borneo in the future. The danger about the concentration which there has been upon groundnuts in East Africa is that it may blind us to the enormous possibilities of growing coconuts in places like North Borneo.

I turn to Somaliland. I am glad to hear that the sum which we are asked to vote today will be used in part towards the creation of a properly paid Civil Service in Somaliland, and that at last this somewhat neglected Colony is to have a service which is worthy of it, and which will attract and keep the very best type of man. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman had to indulge in his usual quip which seems to be used in every Debate, that until he went to the Colonial Office nothing whatever had been done. If he is not careful, he will begin to believe this stuff if he says it often enough, and nothing would be more fatal than that he should be deceived by his own propaganda. I feel that the hon. Gentleman sees himself as a modern Dr. Livingstone carrying the light into darkest Africa. In due course we shall be pleased to canonise him, and if we have to put up a stained-glass window to him in Westminster Abbey, it will not be necessary to spend any money on the halo.

I have not much to say about British Honduras, except that I hope that a little more will be said by the Colonial Secretary about the question of the unemployed. It is a serious matter that so large a percentage of ex-Service men are today unemployed. On the basis of the last figures we were given it would represent, applying the same proportion to this country, over one million ex-Service men out of work. I need not remind the hon. Gentleman that there is a very delicate political situation in British Honduras arising in regard to Guatemala. These men who came back with the hope and expectation of getting jobs are highly inflammable material which can be used by Guatemala in these times. High priority should be given to settling these people in some useful occupation. It is for another reason disappointing to hear about these unemployed. We were led to believe that British Honduras could contribute in the future towards absorbing the unemployed of Jamaica. Now we learn that they cannot even look after their own unemployed.

To turn to Malta, I do not think that anyone would object to the granting of these food subsidies, but it is only fair to warn the House that a serious financial situation is likely to arise in Malta in the near future. Not only are food subsidies coming to an end, but also Malta is to a certain extent at this moment living on the war damage contribution, amounting to about £30 million, which we gave. When that runs out and the food subsidies come to an end, a situation which may be quite serious may arise in Malta, because Government expenses in Malta are tending to rise; and whatever may be said for self-government—and there is a lot to be said for it—it is not a particularly cheap form of government. The Government of this country should do all in their power to assist the finances of Malta by schemes of emigration, and also by helping surplus labour in Malta to find jobs in Government schemes in East Africa.

With regard to Hong Kong, I am not quite sure whether I have understood this £1 million grant aright. Here, again, I wish to ask whether anything is to go to individuals? Hong Kong was looted from end to end. The Under-Secretary wags his head. Does he mean that individuals are to get nothing?

Mr. Rees-Williams

No war damage compensation such as there is for Malaya, is proposed for Hong Kong, but that does not mean that individuals will get nothing. As I have mentioned, they will get a certain amount under the general scheme affecting people who served in civilian defence, the volunteers etc. But there is no scheme such as there is in Malaya.

Mr. Gammans

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that some private individual in Hong Kong whose house was burned down and the whole of whose property was looted, but who does not happen to be in one of the categories which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, will get nothing? Do they have to whistle for it?

Mr. Rees-Williams

That is what it means.

Mr. Gammans

Is nothing to be done for them? Have they been definitely told that they are to be excluded? If so, what is the justification for helping people in Malaya—

The Chairman

Surely, the scope of the Debate in relation to Hong Kong is rather more limited than that.

Mr. Gammans

This grant is said to be to assist the Government of Hong Kong in resolving problems arising out of expenditure connected with the war. I respectfully suggest that the grant to which I am referring arises out of the war. I hope that the Under-Secretary will make the matter quite clear. Do I understand that private individuals in Hong Kong who may have lost everything they had in the world are to get nothing, whereas similar individuals who lost everything in Malaya or elsewhere, although they have not had a cent up to date, can live in hopes?

Mr. Rees-Williams

That is what I have said. I do not know how many times the hon. Member wishes me to say it. I have said, "Yes, that is what he may understand." Hong Kong did not want any scheme, such as the proposed scheme for Malaya, which has not yet come into effect.

Mr. Gammans

It is such a staggering statement that I thought I was justified in asking for a further explanation. We must certainly raise this matter on another occasion. In regard to other expenditure arising out of the war, does this include any of the costs for defence against the present emergency in Hong Kong? This does not arise directly out of the war, but it certainly arises indirectly out of the war. I need not remind the Committee that Hong Kong is in the front line against the Communist advance in the Far East, and that a certain amount of expenditure will have to be incurred to protect the Colony against its gravest danger, the inrush of rufugees from China.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is now going a little too far. I cannot possibly conceive how that possibility can be an expenditure arising out of the war.

Mr. Gammans

I bow to your Ruling, Major Milner, and pass on to a matter which certainly arises out of the war, and that is whether anything has been allowed in these Estimates for rehabilitating Kai-Tak aerodrome. I need not remind the Committee that that aerodrome is easily the most dangerous aerodrome in the world; Members have only to look at tonight's papers to see that yet another aeroplane has crashed. I believe there was a scheme on foot just before the war for building an aerodrome elsewhere, but that it was held up because of the war. Has anything been done to provide Hong Kong with a suitable and safe aerodrome? I notice that the Under-Secretary wags his head, by which I take it he means the answer to be "No."

I want now to say a word on Palestine. Judging by these Estimates, the liquidation of the British Empire is not only a melancholy business but a pretty expensive one, because we are being asked here to spend £12 million on expenses incurred in that liquidation. I should have thought, considering we are giving the independence that has been asked for, we should have got out at less expense than this. I thought one did not shoot Santa Claus before Christmas, but here he is being not only shot but robbed. Have we any sterling balances of Palestine in London or any other assets which we hold that might be set off against this expenditure? The right hon. Gentleman is optimistic in the extreme if he expects that the new Israeli or Arab Governments will accept much of this liability.

In this connection, I notice that there is an item for non-expatriate staff. Do I understand that we are under an obligation to pay pensions or gratuities only to those members of the staff of the old Palestine Government who have not jobs, and that if anyone has been taken on by the new Israeli or Arab Governments we are not under any liability to continue paying pensions? Surely it would be incongruous if we had to pay pensions to non-expatriate staff who have found work with other Governments. Surely that is not a charge we should be asked to accept. It looks as if these people will be having it both ways; otherwise I find it difficult to account for this large sum of £3½; million.

I hope the Colonial Secretary will say a little more about the chances of getting any part of this expenditure accepted by the new Government. When we gave de facto recognition, were these debts taken into consideration? Did we make it any sort of condition before we gave recognition that the Palestine Government should accept the expenses and liabilities under the public debt and some of the pension responsibilities and liabilities, or did we just give de facto recognition through pure weakness without any of these matters being discussed? We are entitled to know the answer to that question, because this is a very large sum of money. First, we have had to find £30 million for Burma for which we received neither thanks nor gratitude, and now we have to find £12 million for Palestine when again, according to the Under-Secretary, we shall receive neither thanks nor gratitude.

5.6 p.m.

Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)

I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) in regard to the possibilities of the new countries of Borneo and Sarawak. These countries have soil and rainfall such as are not generally found except in the Belgian Congo and similar countries. Does my hon. Friend see any chance of these countries being properly opened up? The problem is, of course, the labour problem, but have the Colonial Office formed any opinion as to the advisability of importing Chinese labour? As far as I can see, the only chance to develop these districts properly is to import Chinese labour. I know that this gives rise to social and political problems, but I should like to know what progress has been made towards coming to a decision, and whether, if it has been decided to allow Chinese immigration, any settlement has been reached in regard to Chinese citizenship, because the Chinese insist on Chinese citizenship, as I understand it, even when they are in other countries.

I should also like to ask, in regard to the subsidy to Malta, what steps have been taken by the Maltese Government and other parts of the Commonwealth to absorb the surplus population. As we know, the birth-rate in Malta is exceedingly high, and the subsidy is partly due to the fact that the population is increasing so rapidly. What arrangements have been made to enable Malta to be self-supporting in future and to enable her to send some of her population to Australia and other places?

Turning to Palestine, we have here a lamentable sequel to a lamentable chapter in British history, starting in 1917 when we made the initial mistake over the Balfour Declaration. The hon. Member for Hornsey spoke about liquidating the British Empire, but Palestine was never part of the British Empire; it was mandated territory. Therefore, we did not liquidate any part of the British Empire by quitting Palestine. I presume that the money due to Britain for food is now in the Tel-Aviv bank. The Under-Secretary did not make clear what was the difficulty in getting this money which is due to us, or why the Israeli Government refuse to remit it. I hope we shall hear about that in the reply. As regards responsibility for the loan and the other things, I do not know what the future of Palestine will be, or what the successor state or states will do, but I sincerely hope that our Government will—because, goodness knows, we have spent enough there—do everything in their power to try to get this responsibility firmly placed on the successor state or states.

5.11 p.m.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)

The Under-Secretary covered a very wide field and showed the immense obligation for which this Committee is responsible. Although he said we could not discuss savings—and there are very few savings to be found—he gave what was a broad hint that some hon. Member should try to introduce the subject of savings in order that he could give some answer which would be to the Government's credit. The fact that we cannot discuss savings cannot worry this Government very much in this field—

Mr. Rees-Williams

Only last week, on the last occasion on which we discussed the Colonel Office Vote, the hon. Gentleman was blaming us very severely for having made savings—and they were savings we could not possibly avoid.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

If the hon. Gentleman had not been so swift to interrupt me he would have seen that I was coming to that. In general, saving the question of Palestine, on which we have a number of detailed criticisms, expenditure in the Colonial field is not expenditure on which we are anxious for saving. The only reference I made last week when discussing the first of these Colonial Office Votes was one of regret that in that preliminary survey of the work which must be carried out before we can get on to any development, savings had in fact been achieved.

The first part of the Vote deals with Borneo and Sarawak, and I should like to associate the Opposition with the tribute paid by the Under-Secretary to the recovery of that territory, and to wish every possible success to a territory in the Empire which is full of great possibilities for the future. At the same time, we are glad of the grant that has been made to the people of St. Lucia to remedy the damage caused by the disastrous fire at Castries. We have strong reason to believe that very little, if any, progress has been made in actual rebuilding on the island, and I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman replies to this Debate, he will show us how much of that money has in fact been spent, and what progress has been made towards repairing the damage caused by the fire.

I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) in regretting that the subject of Somaliland was introduced by the Under-Secretary with, once more, a political gibe. Events in East Africa in general I should have thought would cause all Government spokesmen to be a bit careful before making too much of the labour schemes in East Africa. The African mirage which is today disclosing itself in Tanganyika should be a salutary warning in that field. In regard to Somaliland, we welcome this increased provision, particularly for the administrative service, and we should like to send a message of good will to those of our fellow citizens who are serving in that territory in what is a very difficult task. It is a small but a highly specialised service, with very few senior posts, so that promotion is very difficult; and if a man does make a success of his work there, the Colonial Office are naturally reluctant to move him elsewhere, because Somaliland is not a territory that attracts every potential officer. It is most important, however, to give the administrative service officers there more chance of promotion when they are transferred, and we should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman could give us further information on that when he winds up the Debate.

We must, I think, ask for further information about the unemployment in British Honduras. As my hon. Friend said, the unemployed form a tragically high proportion of the population of that territory. I believe that some 560 men were demobilised in the two years ending July, 1947, of whom no fewer than 120 are out of work today in Belize; and as there are 380 others also out of work there, the unemployed form a very high proportion of the manhood of that city. As for the Evans' proposals, we hope that great vigour will be put into capital construction, the development of roads and railways, and the preparatory work which is essential before any proper development can take place. It would, of course, be very foolish to regard any of these settlement schemes as more than palliatives, for it has been calculated that by the time the territory is ready to absorb the 100,000 people who should be the subject of these resettlement schemes, the population in Jamaica and Barbados alone will have increased by no fewer than 200,000. So a much more romantic approach is needed to the problems of this territory, and we should welcome further information by the Secretary of State. It has been calculated that in the period required to settle 100,000 people in British Honduras the normal birthrate increase in Jamaica and Barbados alone will be some 200,000.

Mr. Rees-Williams

I was wondering about the hon. Gentleman's use of the adjective "romantic." I should have thought there had been rather too much romance in the West Indies up to now and not enough practical planning.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Gentleman has had many more recent intimate contacts with romantic figures in the West Indies than I have had, and I should not dream of challenging his right to be more accurate about romance.

We have subsidised essential foodstuffs in Malta over the last two years with very large sums of money. In 1946–47 we gave £900,000; in 1947–48 £450,000; and now we have a new provision for a further £300,000. I think we are entitled to know whether this is the last contribution of that kind. We are very glad to help Malta in every possible way, but we must not lose sight of the fact—which was stressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley)—that complete self-government for Malta is incompatible with a system whereby Malta is subsidised from this country. I am myself a little uncertain whether, or how far, the closing down, to all intents and purposes, of the Malta airport will add to the difficulties of the island, and consequently accentuate the economic situation. The spending power that will be lost to the island owing to that diversion by B.O.A.C.—some £20,000 to £30,000 a year in wages—as well as the money spent on the island by the 20,000 passengers who travelled there every year, make us all the more uncertain whether the Colonial Office were ever properly consulted before that diversion by B.O.A.C. was agreed on.

The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Bowles)

The hon. Member is out of Order in discussing B.O.A.C. on this Vote which deals with food subsidies.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I recognise that, and I shall pass to the subject of Hong Kong. I hope that when the Colonial Secretary replies he will give us more information about the absence of any scheme of compensation in Hong Kong for those whose property was destroyed during the war. If this is a matter solely within the discretion of the local Government we shall no doubt be told; but it does seem a little strange that Malaya should be anxious to have a scheme—even though the benefits are, as yet, rather problematical—while no such provision has been made for Hong Kong. I do consider that we should know definitely whether or not this is a local decision; and if so, chapter and verse for that decision should be given to the Committee.

We welcome the elucidation by the Under-Secretary of the form that this expenditure is taking in Hong Kong, because the actual wording of the Supplementary Estimate is a little difficult to follow. We are glad that the Hong Kong Defence Force and the Civil Defence Services are to receive substantial sums of money. In regard to defence, I should not be in Order in discussing preparations for any future difficulties, but let us hope that the money which is being spent on repairing the damage of the war is being used to equip the Colony against the possibility of further damage in another war.

The problems of a Colony where the docks and the aerodrome are on the mainland, separated from the Colony itself, require the highest consideration. I join with my hon. Friend in once more urging that substantial sums of money should be spent on Hong Kong aerodrome. It is an Imperial scandal; and the tragic news this evening vividly illustrates once more the dangers of aeroplanes landing there. I hope we shall have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he is going to take up actively with the Minister of Civil Aviation the provision of better facilities at Hong Kong aerodrome.

Lastly, this Vote deals with Palestine, and the Parliamentary Secretary was quite right when he said that the manner of our withdrawal from Palestine was unprecedented in the history of this Empire. We join with him in giving our grateful thanks to the officers of His Majesty's Service and the officials in Palestine who carried out that strategic task so well, but we see no reason to congratulate the Government on the indecision which so largely contributed to the unnecessary tragedy and led incidentally to this very large expense. Though the loss of life and honour is far more serious than the expenditure, the loss in expenditure is pretty considerable. I hope the Colonial Secretary will give us some information on the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey as to whether Palestine has got any sterling balances in England which can be off set against this large expenditure.

We should also like further information with regard to the sale of foodstuffs under Vote 2 (b) and the sums credited to us, but withheld by the Israeli authorities. In regard to that and the loan which was guaranteed as to principal and interest by His Majesty's Government, I hope the Government, now that they have recognised the facts and established direct contact with this new State, will lose no time in approaching it with regard to these obligations. Much of the sympathy or otherwise with which many people will view the advent of a new State in the world will depend on how far they honour their obligations, which will enable them to start off in a better economic way than would have been possible if this country had not incurred this obligation on their behalf. Apart from Palestine, we do not regret, save in detail, this expenditure, and we assure all who are working in the Colonial Empire of our continued interest and our desire to play our part honourably and actively in a mutual partnership.

5.23 p.m.

Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)

I propose to deal only with two Colonies, of one of which I happen to have a great knowledge and of one a slight knowledge. I do not propose to dilate on a world tour, such as is done by hon. Members who have never been to the places, have never seen them, and know very little about them.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that to apply to me?

Dr. Morgan

I shall continue my speech. I do not know why hon. Members opposite should be so touchy and so sensitive. I say it again, and I have no intention of being rude at all.

Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)

it is automatic.

Dr. Morgan

If the hon. Member does not think it true, I apologise to him, but I am making a statement which is commonly made in this House, and which is quite true in many cases. I propose as I say to confine myself to two colonies.

I want to say how much I look forward to the fact of even the temporary rebuilding of Castries, named after a former French Governor. Castries has had two disastrous fires in the last two years. Why? I wonder if the Colonial Office are aware of some of the private reports which reach us about the fires in Castries, where efforts were made by clergymen and others to get the local population to come and help in putting out the fires, because the fire equipment was poor and there was not a full organisation to deal with the situation. The water supply, too, was difficult to get.

The native population simply stood there and looked on, because some of them were saying that they wished that some of the slums in which they had been forced to live for the past 50 years would have a good burning. They were quite right, too. If hon. Members had seen young boys lying along the tower steps at night because they had no place to lay their heads and had seen the slum streets in Castries, they would have wondered why we did not give some help to this British Colony.

It is now proposed only to have temporary buildings. Plans are being made for the permanent buildings. I wish that British architects who are doing this work would consult a little more with the native architects, who know something about tropical building and the laving out of a city. I congratulate the Government, not only on the temporary building, but on the steps that are being taken for the proper lay out of what will be a very nice city. Most of the land surrounding Castries is owned by public Departments in this country—the Admiralty and the War Office. I wish the Parliamentary Secretary could see some of that local land and have it made available for a good lay out for the new city that is to be built. I hope that some of the old forts on the top of the hills at Castries are not going to be devoted solely to Government officials in the local civil service. It is a very difficult problem to deal with. St. Lucia not only needs development from this point of view, but because of other considerations which cannot be discussed on this Vote.

The last problem with which I wish to deal is that of British Honduras. The Under-Secretary was good enough to admit that the present ideas which he had in mind for helping the local administration were mere patchwork.

Mr. Rees-Williams

I must correct that impression if my hon. Friend got it. I said this particular Vote was patchwork, but we have in mind and are actively pursuing a policy which we hope will get at the root of the main problem.

Dr. Morgan

I took down the words of my hon. Friend, and I am sorry if I misinterpreted what he said. It seems to me that I have to apologise to everybody for making statements which are not correct. However, I have got it down and here is what he said: "The schemes now proposed were merely patchwork schemes."

I want again to ask what about our policy in regard to employment. What about the roads and what about using many of the rivers for transport and transit? I wish either the Colony could be brought here or else that we could go out and see it; then we should have an idea of what it looks like. Many of the things we talk about are sheer nonsense. There is talk about unemployment and no work being available for the native population, but the Colony is teeming with opportunities, whereby employment could be found for most of the natives in British Honduras. The next thing that is talked about is over-population, and then a Governor brings in the old die hard question, which is always brought out, about birth control for the population in the West Indies, as if we could teach birth control to people, who have been kept deliberately ignorant and who cannot read or write. It may be that at this stage I am getting out of Order.

This Vote is a very small Vote confined to a very small part of our Colonial Empire. I want to express my regrets that we have not yet settled down to having committees to deal with all these problems, so that we could thresh them out and discuss them, and so present them in a more widespread manner.

5.30 p.m.

Colonel Ponsonby (Sevenoaks)

I should like to say a word or two about Somaliland. I am glad to see this allocation of £215,000 for re-starting civil administration. It is true that this has been a neglected Colony. It has not great prospects and I only hope that it will not be prejudiced because it is not likely to balance its budget. The Under-Secretary of State talked about attracting the right type of European staff. I entirely agree, but in order to get the right type of staff it is essential in a place like this that pay, allowances and leave should be good. I would especially stress leave. I would call attention to the fact that in the Sudan the excellence of the administration is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) knows very well, largely due to the fact that members of the administration get three months' leave right away from the place every year. With the development of flying there is no reason why that should not take place in other far-off Colonies. It would be niggardly to cut down expense by not making a special allowance for this leave right away.

What is equally important is that the administration should be more or less permanent. Lack of continuity and of permanence of administration has been one of the greatest defects of Colonial administration in the past. I am afraid that it continues now to some extent. In the past it has certainly gone from the top to the bottom. I need hardly mention that we have had five or six Colonial Secretaries since the war, great and noble men, often with great and noble ideas. I would emphasise the difficulties of a governor if he has to deal year after year with the great and noble ideas of a new Colonial Secretary.

Dr. Morgan

The hon. and gallant Member said that we have had five or six Colonial Secretaries since the war. Would he be good enough to let us have the names?

Colonel Ponsonby

I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I thought I said "from the beginning of the war." The disease to which I refer has also affected the governors of the Colonies. If hon. Members would glance at what has happened in Nyasaland in 14 years I think they will find that that Colony had nine governors or acting-governors. That is quite a hopeless way of running a country. The same thing applies farther down the line. Hon. Members who have been in these outlying places—I am now talking mainly of East and Central Africa, which I know—will perhaps have discussed this problem with district commissioners and provincial commissioners. The one criticism that always is made is that it is impossible for a man to know what is happening in his district and to get the affection of its people unless he is there for a considerable time, certainly for six years.

As hon. Members will realise, these wild countries are not successful because of the directives from Whitehall or even because of the arrangements made by local governors. The success of the administration depends on the affection and trust which the tribes have for individual men. Therefore, I hope that in arranging the new civil administration in Somaliland this point will be borne in mind and that the continuity and permanence of officials will be safeguarded. I wish these administrators the best of good fortune.

5.37 p.m.

Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)

I should be much happier if the figures of this Supplementary Estimate had been reversed as between the Colonies and Palestine. The first thing that strikes me is the inadequacy of £35,000 for British Honduras. The Under-Secretary of State rather underlined that fact himself by using the word "patchwork," not in the sense in which my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) took it, but as he himself explained in his interjection. The unemployed in Belize could be immediately absorbed in beginning long-term work on the lines of the Evans Report alone. It will be work of a very useful character towards the preparation for the resettlement which is so urgent for the West Indies as a whole. If it is intended to employ them on relief work in and around Belize, this is £35,000 down the drain, as so many hundreds of thousands of pounds have been put down the drain in the last 20 years. The money will be entirely non-productive. It will not even be a palliative, because in the present state of unemployment in Belize the money will go nowhere to satisfy the requirements of temporary employment in that area alone.

Some time ago I asked whether the Government were prepared to go straight ahead with the schemes on the four main crops which have been suggested for British Honduras. Bananas, sugar, rice and citrus are what I have particularly in mind. I felt that here, at any rate, very little research had still to be done and very little surveying. There had been a considerable body of knowledge already garnered and it was already known that these crops could be grown successfully in the colonies. Surely the need for roads, harbour improvements and jetties was so obvious that these productive works should be the employment provided to relieve the present situation in Belize. In the Star Creek district and the area south of it lies the clue to an immediate beginning of a full scheme of resettlement, as the Evans Report suggested, which will utilise the resources of the Colony. This could employ immigrant labour from sadly over-crowded districts in the islands in the Caribbean and lead gradually to the full development of that potentially rich territory of British Honduras.

It would be a sad thing indeed if we had to have a particular knowledge of each individual Colony on which we wished to speak. So many of the problems of the different territories are related. While I have not had the advantages possessed by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale, I have tried very hard indeed, both by personal visits, by study and by taking every opportunity of meeting leading members of communities, to understand the Colonies. After all, we are the trustees not only for the citizens of Great Britain but for all our fellow citizens throughout the Empire who are in need of effective help. It is in no hostile, critical sense that I suggest it is worth while plucking up our courage, taking a gamble and going in for big pilot projects to show that we really can help the peoples of these territories to get on their feet economically. If we do not do that and do not do it very quickly, they will inevitably get into difficulties and we shall require bigger and bigger Supplementary Estimates, which will not meet the real need.

I do not want to go through all the territories mentioned by the Under-Secretary, but I want to refer to North Borneo. I am not so sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) was wise in advocating a sort of wholesale Chinese immigration to solve the labour problems there. We have heard of overcrowding in many British territories, and I understand that a small scheme of immigration from Mauritius was tried. That may or may not have failed—I do not know—and I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell me. If one set of immigrants proved unsuitable, that is no excuse for not trying immigrants from other overcrowded British territories before we resort to what we know will create difficulties—wholesale Chinese immigration. I yield to none in my admiration for the way the North Borneo Government have overcome their war-time difficulties and have begun to achieve financial stability in the post-war period, but they will not progress from there until they have an adequate labour force in order to develop the territory.

In regard to Palestine, is it possible before de facto recognition of a new Government to insist on financial settlements which can only be implemented by a Government recognised de jure? It seemed to me at the time of de facto recognition that this problem would arise. I am not sure whether in practice it is possible to make a hard and fast agreement about financial commitments with the type of recognition which we have so far afforded. In any case, surely the item about the Cypriot camps could not be accepted, nor indeed would His Majesty's Government urge the successor State to accept it as a liability. Possibly the camps can be used by the Government of Cyprus itself and part of the cost recovered in that way. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us what will happen to the camps which we built, whether we shall receive any payment or rental for their use, and, if so, what effect it will have on the Supplementary Estimate.

5.44 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Down)

We all appreciated the clear and interesting speech of the Under-Secretary. I see that the population of North Borneo is 270,000 and that the revenue of that country has gone up from £340,000 in 1936 to £5 million last year, according to the "Gazette." It seems to me that with an expanding revenue like that, we shall in future be called upon for many payments of this kind. I do not know the reason for that increase in revenue. Perhaps it is due to the production of oil, or it may be something else. The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) did not mention oil and perhaps oil is not produced there. Oil is not mentioned in the "Gazette" but I always thought that oil was produced there. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can tell us when he replies.

Mr. Rees-Williams

Rubber is the main product there, timber next.

Sir W. Smiles

Is oil produced there?

Mr. Rees-Williams

As far as I know, it is not. The oil comes from Brunei, which is to the south-west of North Borneo, and does not come under the territorial administration of North Borneo.

Sir W. Smiles

I thank the hon. Gentleman. The "Gazette" mentions that there are traces of oil in North Borneo but it does not say that it is commercially exploited. I see that the population of Somaliland is very much greater, being 700,000. Up to the present nothing very much has been done to make Somaliland financially stable. British Honduras has a population of only 70,000, one-tenth that of Somaliland. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan), who knows the West Indies so well, spoke on this subject. I have read the various reports, and it seems extraordinary to me that there is unemployment among the 70,000 seeing that there is so much to do in the way of roads which would develop the mahogany and hard-wood industry. I hope that that will be cured before this time next year.

We are asked to vote £300,000 for Malta. We all know Malta's population problem and the serious financial straits Malta may be in now that she has achieved self-government. An injury was done to Malta when the landing of British Overseas Airways Corporation aircraft at Malta ceased.

The Deputy-Chairman

I pointed out earlier this afternoon that that subject would be out of Order on this Vote which deals with food subsidies for the people of Malta.

Sir W. Smiles

People have been discharged and now we have to pay for them. I will leave it at that. As regards Hong Kong, I thought that Hong Kong was one of the most prosperous places in the world at present, but I have learnt that the Vote is to compensate people who fought for us during the war and were imprisoned, and I certainly cordially support it. In the case of Palestine, too, it would be churlish and ungrateful if we did not give full compensation to the dependants of those people who lost their lives and also to the members of the Civil Service in Palestine and the Palestinian Police who have had to submit to so much during the past five years. The explanation of the Under-Secretary was a very good one, and I support the Vote.

5.48 p.m.

Mr. Crawley (Buckingham)

Can my hon. Friend say whether the road which was being built in British Honduras up to the frontier with Guatemala—about which there was some dispute and about which the Guatemalans assumed a most menacing attitude—has been finished? Is any of this Vote related to that development? I have read a report that the road has been finished but I do not think any statement to that effect has been made by the Government. Capital development in British Honduras has been mentioned. As so much of that capital development will be in relation to timber, has any real approach been made to Canadian or American interests for assistance in providing either personnel or equipment to get on with some of the development which was mentioned in the Evans Report?

I have asked this question before and I am always assured that every effort is being made to interest Americans in all our Colonial development. However I am rather sceptical about how much is really being done. There is a good deal of prejudice throughout the Colonial Empire and the Colonial Service, a natural and understandable prejudice, against encouraging capital from other countries to come in if there is any chance of getting British capital. As we all know, however, the difficulty of providing all the capital for these schemes from this country is great, and in the field of lumber work it would seem, particularly after President Truman's speech the other day—

The Deputy-Chairman

I think the hon. Gentleman is getting out of Order. This Vote is solely in relation to the cost of administration.

Mr. Crawley

I was really referring to something which my hon. Friend mentioned in his speech, and I thought it came within this Vote to some degree.

I turn to a matter which is common to both Honduras and St. Lucia. The complaint which was made to me when I was there not so long ago was that whenever any of these islands receives a grant from His Majesty's Government, all their accounts have to be submitted to the Treasury. It does not matter if the turnover of the Colony is hundreds of thousands of pounds and they receive a grant of only £5,000—here, of course, they each receive a grant of £35,000—all the items have to go through the Treasury. That causes endless delay, the postponement of many decisions vital to the Colony, and creates a lot of ill-feeling as well as a feeling of unnecessary dependence upon London. I know that my right hon. Friend was taking up this matter a little while ago, and I shall be interested to know whether, because of these two grants, the complete budgets of both these Colonies will have to be "vetted" in detail by Whitehall. If so, it is a most undesirable practice which is detrimental to the development of any sense of responsibility in the Colonies and is resented there.

I had hoped that the previous Debate we had on Palestine might be the last one for some time. I do not intend to enter into the Palestine question, but in regard to the money blocked by the Israeli Government, could anything be said about the reasons they offer for blocking it? Again, have any representations been made—to the United States for example, who might be able to bring either assistance or influence to bear in this matter? I support what has been said on all sides of the Committee. Are there not sterling balances at the disposal of the Israeli Government which can be set off against it, or which we can use to get the money freed? Lastly, about the allowances to dependents of those who lost their lives in Palestine, it would be interesting to know how much they amount to within the item of £800,000, and on what basis the allowances were allocated.

5.54 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)

I want to deal specifically with Hong Kong. I am especially glad to deal with this point after the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down (Sir W. Smiles) because I think he will see, as I enlarge the point to which I wish to refer, that all is not well with this Estimate. You will notice, Mr. Bowles, that on page 31 there is mention of this Estimate and again on page 32. With regard to the latter, the Minister in opening this Debate referred to a Question which he answered in this House last year, and he gave the same answer to a Question that I asked yesterday. I hope that hon. Members will appreciate exactly what we are doing under this Vote, and exactly how these monies are to be spent or not to be spent. I will quote a few words from the long answer that the Minister gave on 26th April of last year: In October, 1942, a declaration was made on behalf of His Majesty's Government to the effect that it would be the general aim of His Majesty's Government after the war that, with a view to the well-being of the people and the resumption of productive activity, property and goods destroyed or damaged in the Colonial Empire should be replaced or repaired to such extent and over such a period of time as resources might permit. It was added that, if the resources of any part of the Colonial Empire were insufficient to enable this purpose to be achieved without aid, His Majesty's Government would be ready to give what assistance they could in conjunction with such common fund or organisation as might be established for post-war reconstruction.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1948; Vol. 450. c. 18.] I have a constituent who actually went through this. At the time of war, His Majesty's Government here said to those in Hong Kong, "Stay there, protect our Far East possessions, it is right for you so to do." Today the Minister quite rightly made reference to the gallantry of the Defence Forces of Hong Kong. Having been told that, we must also remember they were suddenly overrun, and many were also taken prisoners by the Japanese. The man I have in mind lost one leg, lost the use of the other leg, and his body was partially paralysed so that he cannot move about other than in a chair. He lost all his possessions, his house, everything he had built up during a lifetime in Hong Kong, and his compensation is virtually nil.

My hon. Friend said how glad he was to observe that out of the money we were voting men who were damaged, men who had fought and lost in the war, would be compensated. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), the Minister said, "That is not to be." My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey was shocked at that reply. When the Minister replies, he may well try to say, "That is a matter on which the local administration, the Government of Hong Kong, came to their own conclusions and we agree with them." Is he forgetful of the fact that we, as the Imperial Government here, advised those people to stay? I consider that His Majesty's Government and hon. Members of this House should apply their minds to this matter. I am very dissatisfied, and I sincerely trust that His Majesty's Government and hon. Members present in this Committee will reconsider the matter.

5.59 p.m.

Mr. A. Edward Davies (Burslem)

I have a question to ask on paragraphs (d) and (e) of Vote E which refer to Palestine. Here we have figures relating to leave, salaries and the abolition of office benefits to former staff of the Government of Palestine divided into expatriate and non-expatriate staff. May we be told whether this is a recurring charge, and what has been done to re-employ the expatriate staff in other parts of the world? All of us who follow Colonial affairs know that there is a shortage of technical and administrative people in places like West Africa. Also, may we have some more information as to what is being done to find new jobs for these people and whether, in the event of the non-expatriate staff obtaining employment subsequently, our obligations are reduced? What are the terms of the contract?

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Awbery (Bristol, Central)

I was under the impression, when this Debate on the Supplementary Estimates began, that there was to be a smashing attack upon the Government because of its squandermania on the Colonies and on our social services. We saw the pious preservers of the people's purse and privileges upon the benches opposite looking across at the sordid sinners sitting here in the seats of squandermania. During the Debate, howover, not one word has been said against the Supplementary Estimates for the Colonies. My impression is that the Opposition are now suffering from a creeping common sense.

Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will express the hope for himself that it is catching.

Mr. Awbery

Hon. Members opposite are beginning to appreciate that the people of the country are not with them in their great cry to save money, especially when it is at the expense of the health and well-being of the nation at large.

I want to criticise this expenditure because I do not believe it is sufficient. We have been saving at the expense of the natives long enough, and I do not want to feel that, later on, we shall have to say that what has been spent has been too little, too slow and too late. We should, I think, have regard to the position of the people in the Colonies, but nothing has been said in the Debate about the aspirations or the desires of the Colonial people. I want to refer to past history and the present plans for development as I see them. We are beginning to realise that in the past we left undone very many of the things we should have done.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member must confine himself to any one or more of the points mentioned in the Supplementary Estimate. He cannot make a general speech on the development or non-development of the Colonies.

Mr. Awbery

Page 35 refers to Development and Welfare.

The Deputy-Chairman

That is not the Vote which is under discussion by the Committee.

Mr. Awbery

I did not want to confine myself to any particular Colonies. I wanted to deal with the general question of expenditure on Colonial Services.

The Deputy-Chairman

That would be out of Order.

Mr. Awbery

I shall reserve my remarks until we reach the items mentioned in page 35.

6.3 p.m.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, Central)

I want, first, to express to my hon. Friend my appreciation of the way in which he introduced these Estimates this afternoon. I am quite sure there will be general agreement on both sides that in these days a keener interest is being taken in Colonial matters by the general public than was once the case. This is by no means a party point and I hope that I shall not be accused of creeping commonsense if I confine myself to the issues under discussion.

Mr. Stanley

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has caught it already.

Mr. Thomas

Perhaps I am a little nearer, and, therefore, have caught it a little quicker.

On the Vote for North Borneo, and the grant in aid of expenditure on reconstruction and rehabilitation, I should like to know whether this includes special provision for educational facilities in that area. We are all aware that North Borneo is not wealthy and is in great need of assistance to develop its backward educational facilities.

Mr. Rees-Williams

That is being considered.

Mr. Thomas

I welcome the assurance which my hon. Friend has now given.

In the Vote for Hong Kong we are granting a quarter of a million pounds for its university which, I understand, is under the control of the British authorities.

Mr. Rees-Williams

My right hon. Friend is, of course, much more conversant with this matter than I, for he takes a very special interest in universities. That University is under the control of the statutory authority—the University Council—and is not really under my Department.

Mr. Thomas

I welcome, of course, the fact that the freedom enjoyed by our own universities is enjoyed by the University in Hong Kong, which is placed in a difficult and unique position. It seeks to introduce the standards of culture and a way of life of our own people in an area which is surrounded by a very different standard of culture. I am glad that the Minister has interested himself so much in this matter. One comment only remains to be made by me, with my limited knowledge, which I freely confess. The fact that so much money has been granted for "Administration" should raise a question in our minds. I should like to see recorded not only "Administration" but other definite headings, so that we may know to what purposes the money was allocated. It is my earnest hope that my right hon. Friend will bear these questions in mind when he makes his reply.

6.8 p.m.

Sir John Barlow (Eddisbury)

There are only two questions which I wish to put. One is to ask for a little more information about North Borneo. Because of international circumstances, that country has developed very quickly and its revenue has increased very substantially. I was in North Borneo for a short time before the war and can assure those hon. Members who have not been there that it was very primitive in certain respects. The Government took over the charter company immediately after the war and, as far as I know, its shareholders have not been paid out. I wonder whether that matter has yet been settled and whether the Minister can give us some further information about it? I am rather surprised that money should be required for North Borneo in excess of the original Estimates. Although that country suffered considerably during the war, its revenue has been so unexpectedly high in the last two or three years that one would think that no extra expenditure would have been necessary.

My other question concerns the territory of Somaliland about which the Parliamentary Secretary, I think, indicated that the Colonial Office was transferring officers from one place to another on a much larger scale than previously. In travelling about the Colonies I have frequently found criticism, especially when dealing with natives, that officers are moved about too frequently. When an officer is sent to a district he becomes familiar with it and gets to know the people and their ways; they, in return, obtain confidence in him. It might be a mistake, and I think it often is a mistake, to remove those officers to new districts too quickly. After all, they have long experience and education behind them. It is most important that the natives should have confidence in their officers and for that reason, although it may sometimes be to the detriment of the officer to remain long in one place and delay his promotion, it is advisable for the good of the Colony that when a man is doing a good job in a large agricultural district he should be left there as long as possible. I believe it often is to the advantage of the district that that should be the case.

6.11 p.m.

Mr. Rees-Williams

I am very grateful to hon. Members for their careful consideration of these Votes and the way in which they have received them. I am sure that these Debates, which will go out to all the Colonial territories, will receive most careful scrutiny there and be hailed with much pleasure as they show the ever-increasing interest which hon. Members take in our fellow citizens in the Colonial Empire.

Dealing with the questions put to me, I come first to North Borneo. I was criticised by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) for referring in what he regarded as extravagant terms to the devastation there. These are all matters of comparison, but I would point out that 90 per cent. of the houses and buildings in the towns were destroyed and if one owned property in the towns one would no doubt regard that as equally important as destruction elsewhere. Anyone who has read the book by Mrs. Keith, the wife of our agricultural head in North Borneo, "Three Came Back," will realise what terrible conditions the people of North Borneo were under and how they lost everything and were also thrown into gaol—

Mr. Stanley

Will there be any compensation?

Mr. Rees-Williams

There is a possibility of a compensation scheme in North Borneo. The matter is now being considered. Altogether in North Borneo some £6 million will be spent. What the Committee are voting today is a small part of the total amount which from various sources—Colonial Development and Welfare and the like—will become available for rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, economic and otherwise, for that fascinating territory. One has to see this as part of the greater whole.

My hon. Friend the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) asked questions on our development plans. This is not the time or place to talk of development plans and I would remind him that we had an Adjournment Debate last week in which some inkling of our development plans was given to the House. He will see there what we intend. I share with my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) some doubt as to whether the incursion of large numbers of Chinese suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon would be altogether a good thing in North Borneo.

There are quite a number of problems in Borneo now and I think it is very dangerous to bring in large numbers of people of other races either to North Borneo or Sarawak without very careful consideration of the social, political and economic effect of the incursion of those people. We have the matter continually under review. We have to consider taking people from various foreign countries, but our first consideration is safeguarding the wellbeing of the people there now. We shall not do anything which in our view would act against their interests.

The hon. Baronet the Member for Eddisbury (Sir J. Barlow) asked about the North Borneo Charter Company. That matter is under arbitration and we are waiting for the report of the arbitrators. We hope the whole matter will be concluded in a short space of time. We certainly want to clear it up and put the financial and other matters on a proper basis.

Sir J. Barlow

Can the hon. Gentleman indicate when the report is likely to be available? If I remember rightly, the arbitration has been going on for three years, or more.

Mr. Rees-Williams

Vast numbers of subjects had to be considered by the arbitrators, but my right hon. Friend prompts me that possibly the report may be available within a few weeks and I hope that will be so.

I am grateful to hon. Members who have raised various points about British Somaliland. I do not think any special question was asked, but I think they approved of the projects we have in mind there and confirmed what I said in regard to interchangeability of officers of the Service. The present Governor of British Somaliland, Mr. Reece, was formerly the provincial commissioner in the Northern district of Kenya where problems are similar to those in British Somaliland; it is a country where we have a nomadic population as in Somaliland.

I was asked questions by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) and my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow about unemployment in Honduras. At the end of November, 1948, there were 543 civilians and 102 ex-Service men registered as unemployed. Various schemes are in operation or will shortly be put into operation. There is an agricultural settlement on an estate known as the "Baking Pot" on which a number of ex-Service men have been settled and it is expected that the numbers will have risen to about 100 by the end of the year. I was asked about reclamation in Belize. Work there has begun on certain land which will absorb about 50 men in about 10 weeks and work on the roads which should provide for about 80 for four months and work on feeder roads under the 10-year development plan. I am sorry that it was not understood by the hon. Member who challenged me on this that the Vote here is really for a grant-in-aid to balance their budget and for schemes which are in operation.

There are plans under the Evans Report which I hope will be presented to the House in the near future. We have done a tremendous amount of work on that and are trying to establish all the various projects suggested in that report, but it is not easy. The Government are starting a dairy farm for which they have bought 1,500 acres. But one of the problems is that people have no agricultural background and we have to import people with an agricultural background to enable this work to be done even on such a thing as dairy farming. I hope that before long we shall be able to inform the House of the present position of the Evans Report recommendations. The road which was mentioned and also the timber schemes all fit into the general picture.

The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) asked what we were doing about ensuring that Malta should be self-supporting. It is very difficult for us now to do anything. Malta has internal self-government and would resent or at least hardly welcome our butting in and suggesting ways in which they should carry on their duties. I know the Malta Government have been considering various schemes of emigration but that, I must insist, is a matter for them. It is no longer a matter for us.

With regard to St. Lucia and the building, which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) referred to, I can assure him that that will be announced to the House very shortly. We shall be in a position to tell the House exactly what is proposed with regard to its rehabilitation, and I venture to think that the House will find that we are making very generous terms. St. Lucia will have a very fine city when the plans have been carried out.

With regard to Hong Kong I can only reiterate to the hon. Member for Hornsey and the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) what I have already said. These various territories in the Far East which have suffered under enemy bombardment and enemy occupation were all asked to consider these various schemes. The Hong Kong Government thought they would not have one. They decided that the rehabilitation that had gone on since the war, the amount of business in operation in Hong Kong, and the flourishing state of its commerce meant that it was not so necessary as in Malaya and Borneo. That was their decision, and not ours. That being so, surely the hon. Members do not expect us to force a war damage scheme on them. So far as I am aware there has been no great demand from anybody; otherwise it would have been reflected in the Legislative Council who took this decision. They are there on the door step and if there was any agitation it would have been reflected in their decision.

Mr. D. Marshall

I think the point should be taken into consideration that in a number of cases men and women were taken prisoner to Japan and when they were released they came straight to the United Kingdom. They have suffered terrific damage to their own bodies and possessions. It is not a question of being next door to Hong Kong when one is in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Rees-Williams

There is a relief fund from which ex gratia payments can be made and if the hon. Member has any hard cases in mind—

Mr. Marshall

I have.

Mr. Rees-Williams

—I suggest he refers them to me.

Mr. Marshall

I have already referred them to the Minister twice in the last year.

Mr. Rees-Williams

Well, any harder cases. As he knows, we were unable to satisfy him about the cases he referred to for certain reasons. But there may be cases which come within the scope— and many cases have come within the scope—of this particular provision.

As to the defence of Hong Kong, that hardly arises on this Estimate and I have no doubt, Mr. Bowles, that you would rule me out of Order if I tried to deal with it. So with the Hong Kong Aerodrome, I think that is outside the scope of this particular Supplementary Estimate.

With regard to Palestine, so far as I am aware no implicit conditions were made before recognition because it was de facto recognition and those conditions were not applicable. There are no assets from which the particular sums we are dealing with today could be replaced, except funds to which I have referred which are in the hands of our agent in Palestine, and which have been frozen by the Israeli Government. As regards staff, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. Edward Davies) the position is that it depends very largely on whether the person has been taken on by the Palestine Government or not. That is perfectly reasonable. If he has been taken on by the Palestine Government there is no reason why the British taxpayer or anybody else should compensate him for the loss of a job which he has not lost. But if he has not been taken on, then he may have a compensatory pension or a cash gratuity in lieu. If he has earned his pension he has it whether he has been taken on or not.

Of the police other ranks, 220 have been accepted by the Metropolitan police; 100 with the county constabularies; 128 with the prison service and 790 have retained various Colonial appointments. Approximately 2,000 men have secured civilian employment or overseas appointments making an approximate total of 3,238. We have heard this year of only ten who have not obtained employment, and considering the large numbers involved the Committee will agree that that is very satisfactory. Those in the Palestine Office who were concerned with this matter should, I think, be congratulated for the efficiency they have shown. It also is a tribute to the high standing of the Palestine police and the magnificent work they did under trying conditions. Many of them are now serving in Malaya and doing a grand job of work there. I therefore ask the Committee to approve this Supplementary Estimate.

Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)

When my hon. Friend was introducing the Estimate he indicated that he might say a word on anticipated savings.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that savings or anticipated savings cannot be discussed on consideration of a Vote of this kind.

Mr. Edward Davies

Before the hon. Gentleman finishes his statement regarding the staff, could he tell me whether it is a recurring charge?

Mr. Rees-Williams

The particular item to which the hon. Member referred, (d), is not a recurring charge. It was an item relating to moneys expended on compensation during a particular period.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £12,695,010, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1949, for sundry Colonial and Middle Eastern Services under His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including certain non-effective services and grants in aid.

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