HC Deb 13 December 1950 vol 482 cc1133-5
16. Squadron Leader Burden

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his recent official consultations with General Sir Harold Briggs on Malaya.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I apologise for the length of this answer. My talks with the High Commissioner and the Director of Operations were concerned generally with methods of speeding up the progress of the operations against the Communist terrorists in Malaya and, in particular, with measures which might be taken by His Majesty's Government to assist the Government of the Federation of Malaya in carrying out these operations. Special attention was paid to the recruitment of additional staff in certain grades and to the expedition of the delivery from this country of essential supplies. I am glad to say that general agreement was reached with Sir H. Gurney and General Briggs at all discussions and that steps to give effect to this have already been taken.

The question of financial assistance to the Federation was also discussed. I am in further consultation with the High Commissioner and hope to make a further statement very shortly.

In Malaya new measures to be taken by the Federation Government to intensify operations against the terrorists were announced by the Officer Administering Government in Legislative Council on 21st November. Regulations are being enacted giving the Government full powers when necessary to conscript and direct labour. The Federal War Council is being strengthened by the inclusion of leaders of the Malay and Chinese communities and a representative of the planters. Expatriate officers are being asked to accept a further curtailment of their leave and, in order to release officials for more urgent tasks, all office work is to be reduced by postponing everything which can be postponed without detriment to the campaign or to the well-being of Malaya. Sir William Jenkin, a man with long and extensive experience of C.I.D. and Special Branch work has been appointed as Director of Intelligence in the Federation Police Force. All these measures were unanimously approved by the Legislative Council.

Squadron Leader Burden

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his statement, may I ask him to ensure that these agreements are carried out? May I further ask whether one of the questions under discussion was the shortage of C.I.D. officers, and whether he is satisfied that the position will be put right? What measures are to be taken to increase the recruitment of trained C.I.D. officers for Malaya?

Mr. Griffiths

The recruitment of fully qualified and experienced C.I.D. men is one of the most difficult problems. We had discussions and arrived at decisions as to how we thought that requirement could best be met. I feel confident that we shall be able to meet the requirements that have been askd for.

Commander Noble

The right hon. Gentleman said that certain equipment that was outstanding was discussed. Is he aware that the Minister of Defence last week led us to believe that there was no equipment outstanding? Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance on that point?

Mr. Griffiths

I was referring to equipment generally, not military equipment.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise, as I hope he does, that the Opposition also have entire confidence in Sir Henry Gurney and General Briggs, and are glad that the conversations have been so successful?

Mr. Gammans

Could the Secretary of State assure the House that there is no delay whatever in supplying radio equipment for the police, and also barbed wire for the planters?

Mr. Griffiths

I would not say that there is no delay whatever. There was some delay. We have now discussed that with those concerned and I think that we have found a way of overcoming those delays.