§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Braine
The Report states that:Ministers responsible examined them,"—The Wakefield proposals—discussed them with Colonial interests at home and overseas, and passed them for detailed examination to officials. On 25th November, two months after the Mission's report had been presented, the Minister of Food informed the House of Commons that the Government had decided to proceed with the Scheme … but to delay any decision about the full scope of the plan until there had been more time to consider it.Does not that place full responsibility upon the Ministers and the Government?
I would certainly say that the Government should accept full responsibility for the size and the pace of the plan. But what I say now, in reference to the arguments advanced by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the pace of the plan was set as a political stunt, is that the pace was set by the Wakefield Commission, and that if hon. Members opposite suggest that the whole idea of Mr. Martin, Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Rosa was to lead the Labour Government into a trap I should not agree with them for a moment. That could be the only interpretation of that remarkable charge.
The further charge was made by the hon. Member for Newbury that the Minister accepted too lightly the assumptions of the plan. Again, the facts are to the contrary. Anyone who reads the White Paper will realise that. I do not propose to quote in extenso. I have done that previously. But in paragraph after paragraph of the Government White Paper a note of caution is struck on the estimates of the Wakefield Commission. The Government wrote down the figures given by the Wakefield Commission. One hon. Member opposite made a mistake in referring to the Wakefield Commission's proposal of 750 lb. an acre as an estimated crop for groundnuts in Kongwa. In fact, the Wakefield Commission's figure was 850 lb., and the Minister or Ministers responsible wrote that down, for safety's sake, by 100 lb. Evidently, even then they did not go far enough; but they certainly did not too lightly accept the assumptions Indeed, one paragraph says:It does not, therefore, follow from the) Government's decision either that the particular localities described by the Mission will be developed or that the order or rate of development will be as envisaged in their report.2115 The White Paper also goes on to make it quite clear that in relation to the availability of materials and the experiences met with in the clearance of bush, and so on, the whole scheme might be radically altered from time to time. That is precisely what has happened. There has been no equanimity in the acceptance by the Government of the original fantastically optimistic estimates. As I have already indicated, the acceptance of these figures came very clearly from the right hon. Member for Bristol, West. He apparently accepted them without qualification.
In spite of what has been said about the failure to consult agriculturists and people with experience of Africa, the failure to consult engineers, sizal planters, and so on, hon. Members opposite who use the arguments know very well that it is complete nonsense. These men consulted all the available evidence which could be got about the prospects and potentialities of developing these areas for the growth of groundnuts, alternative oil foods, and so on.
The sisal planters have had some experience of clearing bush, but the firm which has been used by the sisal planters for any large-scale clearance is the same firm which was brought in for the groundnut clearance at Kongwa. They are the only people who have any experience at all of any kind of large-scale clearance of bush in Africa. There is no other firm in the world which has had more experience, or anything like the experience which would be necessary to tackle with any assurance the job such as that of Kongwa.
When the whole question is boiled down, the reason why it has not been so successful. the reason why people did not know enough about the soil, the rainfall or the hundred and one other factors in these areas. is because never before in the history of our colonial administration in Africa have adequate steps, or even substantial steps, been taken to find out about these matters. We heard a lot about that in the Debate on Colonial Affairs only last week. Geological surveys have never been taken in many of these territories, including Kongwa, Northern Rhodesia and other parts of Africa. No one knew precisely what the rainfall was in the Kongwa area or in the Southern Province.
2116 That is not the fault of the former Minister of Food or even of the present Government. It is the fault of previous Governments, and it has been underlined on many occasions, not least by Mr. Wakefield himself. Mr. Wakefield, addressing a meeting of the Royal Society of Arts in April, 1948, made some most interesting statements. I recommend them to the reading of hon. Members opposite. Among other things, he said:I speak now as a Colonial, for I worked for 25 years in East Africa and the West Indies, and finished my official service with the Colonial people fearful for their future. Until the Samuel Plan was produced, I could see nothing but famine, riots and revolution lying ahead. So much was said of the necessity for providing an economic basis for social progress and political advance; but little or nothing was happening apart from a general political awakening in Africa.That is the opinion of Mr. Wakefield, who certainly does not tend very strongly to support the Government line on this scheme now. It may be said that it is easy enough for a post-war Government, faced with the situation in Africa and the situation developing throughout the world, to go in with an entirely new conception of how this problem should be dealt with.
The historical fact is that we are completely ignorant of the conditions of this part of the world through the neglect of past Governments, and not of the present Government.
§ Mr. Gammans
If what the hon. Gentleman says is true, if there were no statistics about rainfall or anything else, is not that an argument for going slowly and for having a pilot plot?
It might be if we were concerned with carrying on colonial development at the same pace as it has been carried on in the past. But there have been two world wars and a political awakening is taking place in Africa no less than in East Asia. There was, in 1946 and 1947, a definite threat of complete famine throughout the world within the next seven years. In those conditions, to talk about going in on the old basis of colonial development, for 50, 60 or 70 years—to test rainfalls and to make sure that every two or three miles of soil was of the same consistency and to find out precisely what it would grow, and so on, by the old colonial methods—would have meant that this scheme would never have come to fruition at all.
2117 I could give many examples of the failure even of the European planters in East Africa to make any substantial experiments of this kind. The crops there are almost entirely confined—or they were until recently—to one or two which are well known to have been established there, and there was very little experimentation at all. They did not go in there for that purpose; they went in to make a profit, and the European farmers certainly did not go there to set up experimental stations and make experiments with a tremendous variety of seed in order to find out those which might be successful.
§ Mr. G. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
That sort of thing has been done all over Africa by planters for the last 30 or 40 years. and most of the crops grown there today are the result of these pilot experiments.
I know, but where are the citrus fruits? What kind of crops can be grown in Tanganyika or in East Africa? Ask the farmers how many experiments they have had to find out. They do not go in for substantial experiments, because they cannot afford to do it. One of the reasons why the scheme had to be launched on a big scale was because of the circumstances of the time, which indicated that, if we were to make any substantial progress in Africa within a reasonable time, we had to take big risks and do it in a big way, which is precisely what we have done.
The Minister's speech has been welcomed very much on the opposite side of the Committee today. Frankly, I did not see a great deal in it to welcome, because all he said is that this was not the proper time to have this Debate, that it would be better to wait until the working party in Kongwa had reported, until the harvests were in, until September or October, when a White Paper could be produced. I do not think there is anything very dynamic about that, or that it represents any very great and revolutionary change in the situation, but I was a little disturbed by the way the Minister is not being forced by too much pressure from the opposite side to go far too slow in this scheme.
If we do, we shall lose all the objectives set forth in the original scheme, not only in regard to the production of food for this and other countries, but in regard 2118 to the much wider and more important aspect of the development of the East African territories. Among other things, the Minister said that it would be wrong to focus too much attention on the original purposes of the scheme, which were the production of fats. That was not the original purpose, but one of the things which gave it immediate urgency at the time.
The whole background of the scheme, as is clearly seen in the White Paper. was as a scheme of Colonial development to enable us to open up these territories, not just to provide hospitals and welfare schemes for Africans, but to enable them to overcome the pressure of population and provide more space for Africans, free from the tsetse fly, and also provide them with the possibility of growing their own food. [Laughter.] I notice that one hon. Member is nodding in agreement with what I am saying while another is laughing it to scorn. The idea was to build up, not only an indigenous food supply for the African population, but also to enable them to build up an export trade to help them to import other things which they needed. It was to bring about an independent economy in these territories, to bring an end to the perpetual subsidising of these territories by the British taxpayer, and to open up an entirely new prospect in which life for the Africans—
Yes, because that was the immediate urgent objective of the Kongwa and Urambo scheme. It is just a question of reading the Report and finding out precisely what was said, but I do not want to take up any more time.
The point has been raised about transferring the whole scheme to the Colonial Office. I do not pay a great deal of attention to that, although much has been said about it. For myself, I am not very much concerned whether it is run by the Colonial Office or by the Ministry of Food or any particular Government Department. From the point of view of the technical difficulties, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), to transfer the scheme to the Colonial Office would be to circumscribe activity of this kind in the Colonial territories and to cut out other advantageous schemes, such as the one in 2119 Queensland, because they are in different territories, though requiring the same kind of financing, accounting and everything else.
That does not appear to me to be a particularly logical proposition. The fact is that, when we lay aside all the formalities as to whether it is the Ministry of Food or the Secretary of State for the Colonies who is to run the scheme, if the scheme is being run in Tanganyika it will be run by people suitable for that kind of job, just as it is now. They will be people with experience and knowledge of agriculture and engineering in East Africa, who would obviously be selected for that purpose by whatever Ministry might be running it. It is merely a question which of the two Departments is the most efficient machine to cope with the work. The rest of it is entirely psychological, and, from that aspect of the matter. I say that it should be placed under the Colonial Office, when we might find the answer to the problem of developing the Colonial territories.
I want to come now to the question of the present position in Kongwa, Urambo and the Southern Province. It is true—and nobody on this side of the Committee burks the issue—that we are all considerably disappointed at the results. and particularly in Kongwa, but this was an experimental scheme. In the original scheme, the promoters had selected a number of areas which seemed to offer the best prospects in the opinion of the only people who knew the conditions—the United Africa Company, Mr. Wakefield, Mr. Martin and others. They chose the only areas which seemed to offer any promise of successful results. They decided to open up a certain number of these areas for experimental purposes, and they began at Kongwa, because it was the only place at which they could begin, for the reason that it was the only one which had any communications to the sea and a harbour, as well as a railway, which was very quickly extended up to the groundnut area. That was why Kongwa was selected in the first instance.
If they had been all-wise and omnipotent, they would have selected the most successful experimental plot in the first place but, in that case they need not have experimented anywhere 2120 else. Experiments are not carried out that way. When trying experiments, one does not pick out the successful one before one has tried all the others, and it has been unfortunate in this case that Kongwa, which was the most promising in the early stage, has not been so successful as was expected. I am particularly surprised that sunflowers have failed at Kongwa, because, at the beginning of 1947–48, when it was discovered that the ground, having been cleared of bush, might not be suitable for groundnuts, attempts were made on pilot plots, which do exist, to develop very many different varieties of sunflowers. Very nearly all the different kinds available—50 or 60 varieties—as well as sorghum and other plants were tried.
When I was there in 1948, there were remarkably good samples of successful sunflower growing on these pilot plots. I was assured by Mr. Farr and by many of his colleagues, who certainly had some knowledge of what they were talking about, that they had been pleasantly surprised at the results obtained from some of these sunflowers, and there is no question at all that they were extremely successful on those plots. But when they were translated into mass cultivation over a wide area they failed.
I know, but it is not a very good advertisement for the pilot plots and it was the same lack of rain which hon. Members opposite suggested in the last Debate was a figment of the Government's imagination in order to get them out of difficulty.
There was a serious lack of rain which upset not only the groundnut scheme, but also every farmer in Eastern and Central Africa, and all the estimates made in those regions. But it is an interesting, and, unfortunately, a serious thing, that these promising experiments in sunflowers have failed at Kongwa. I should like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, if he can give us a little more information as to the kind of development which the Government anticipate can be pressed forward in the vast area that has been cleared at Kongwa.
As far as the Southern Province is concerned, we are, of course, only at the beginning there. The results of the partial 2121 harvest which has taken place are not at all bad. In 1949, we were getting 270 lb. an acre of sunflower, and this year we are getting 400 lb. That is not bad progress. The same with groundnuts. We got 530 lb. as against the 750 lb. anticipated, but when we consider the variety of experiments and treatments which had to be carried out in order to discover which were the best, the 530 lb. cannot be regarded as a bad start. The position at Urambo regarding groundnuts seems to be similarly promising. What is to be done at Kongwa is something to which everyone wants an answer, and it may be possible for the Government to give us some indication as to the way in which their minds are working on that particular point. For instance, is there any possibility, according to the knowledge we have of that area, of developing grass or ranching there? If not, what alternative proposals have the Government to suggest?
I do not want to go into the old controversy, which I would have done had not interruptions taken up so much time, about this scheme having to be commercially sound. That really is ridiculous. We had it from the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West, who suggested that this scheme must go forward on a commercially sound basis. I think that suggestion has come from other hon. Members, also. We cannot discuss large-scale developments on a purely commercial basis.
In the Colonial Affairs Debate last week, the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Frederic Harris), made an interesting speech in which he suggested that in Kongwa, in particular, the Government ought to undertake the public works and the railways. I do not know whether he was suggesting that we should provide the farming implements, build the fences, provide the seed and the fertilisers, and do everything up to sending a cheque for the profits to the absentee landlord in this country. It is the old capitalist idea that if there are no profits to be made, the Government should do the job, but when there are profits to be made it should be left to private enterprise. I do not accept that for a moment. However, I agree that we cannot go on leaving tremendous schemes of this kind to private enterprise and relying on them to 2122 carry them out, because they would never do so.
Central and East Africa are overcrowded with examples of wasted opportunities, of undeveloped and unexploited wealth because no private person or group of persons is prepared to go in with sufficient capital and take the risk of building the necessary communications and everything else. Up in the Ruwenzori Mountains in Uganda there is a copper mine, but owing to the lack of any reasonable road, canal or river transport between there and Lake Victoria several companies who have tried to exploit the mine have had to give it up. The cost of laying a railway in 1946 was some £4,000 odd a mile, and the total cost came to about £5 million. It was seriously suggested at that time by the company exploiting the copper mine that they would have to give it up unless the Government built a railway up to this remote spot for no other purpose than to enable the mine to function. That might have been worth doing, and probably will be worth doing in due course, but it meant throwing away £5 million of the taxpayers' money in order to enable a private group of people to exploit the mine.
§ Mr. Craddock
There is a road straight from Kampala up to the mine. They can get the copper down to railhead at Kampala quite easily.
Do not let us discuss the geography of the thing. I am merely saying that I was told by the people developing the mine that there was no adequate road down to Lake Victoria, that there was no railway of any kind, and no canal or river facilities.
§ Mr. Craddock
As I understand it, the hon. Member is making a case against private enterprise. He says that there is no proper road down which to bring the copper to Lake Victoria. Do I understand that that is what the hon. Member is saying, because, if so, that is not correct? There is a main road from the railhead at Kampala up to that copper mine, and the reason it has not been developed is because there is not sufficient copper there.
I have travelled on the road from Kampala to the copper mine, and it is not a very good road. The reasons I have given were the reasons given to me by the people responsible for working the mine. They are not the first people who have been there and tried to exploit the mine. All over the territory, as hon. Members know, there are these cases of hidden or potential sources of tremendous value; in Southern Tanganyika there are examples of coal seams, and so on, which have not been developed owing to the lack of communications. That was the burden of the plea put forward by the hon. Member for Croydon. North, in the Colonial Debate.
My plea is that if we are not to develop these parts—taking a national point of view—until we are sure that we can earn an early profit after laying roads, railways, harbours, and everything else, then we are not going to get anywhere. The feature of this scheme is the importance of its contribution to providing precisely those services and facilities which have been lacking in these territories for so long and at last making it possible to open them up to the advantage, above all, of the Africans, and, ultimately, of course, to the advantage of other people in the world.
Unless that is done—and this is where the book-keeping and profit argument becomes completely useless—it will not be profit we will have made or a loss that we will have avoided. We will, in fact, have denied the whole of the arguments that have been used from all sides of this Committee, and are being used in the American Congress and Senate today and all over the democratic world. Those arguments are that unless and until we are prepared to assist people in the backward territories to build up some kind of decent standard of life, to open up their territories and provide some alternative to the appeal of Communism, then we are not only going to lose these territories altogether but the civilisation for which we stand.
That is the whole purpose of Marshall Aid, which does not earn a profit for America. It was one of the incidental purposes of the U.N.R.R.A. scheme. It is one of the reasons for the Atlantic Pact. It is one of the resons why the Americans today, and most people in this country, are urging the need for providing 2124 quick and big-scale developments in some of the Eastern territories, in Malaya, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Indo-China and in Korea. This is the need to assist those people, through large-scale intervention with all the advantages, facilities, raw materials and money we have in this country, to make it possible to build up for them some kind of alternative to the main menace that is hanging over not only these territories but the whole world today.
I therefore hope that what the Minister said today does not mean he is going too slow. I hope he is going forward with big ideas, with all the advantages of the experiments we have made, and the failures we have had, the successes we have had, not only in Queensland but also the successes we have had in East Africa, although they may have been less than some of the failures. I hope the Minister is going forward on that scale, and with all the impetus and inspiration which his predecessor showed in undertaking what has been, in fact, one of the most courageous and greatest experiments ever made in the colonial history of this country.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Jennings (Sheffield, Hallam)
At the outset I must say that I cannot claim to have any scientific knowledge with regard to these schemes in Africa. Therefore, I do not propose to attempt in any way to tell the people out there how to do the job; but there are one or two matters that I feel I ought to bring to the Committee's attention.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Will the hon. Member make clear which people he is speaking about?
§ Mr. Jennings
If the hon. Member has heard this Debate, he will have heard quite a lot of speeches telling people how to do the job.
§ Mr. Rankin
Is the hon. Member speaking about the white settlers or about the indigenous inhabitants of the territory?
§ Mr. Jennings
I am afraid the hon. Member is barking up the wrong tree. I am not talking about colonial people at all. I am talking about people in this country. Therefore, his intervention was to no purpose. I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) very closely. He said, quite 2125 properly, that colonial development must not be run on the basis that it is run under private enterprise at a profit. I agree with that view, but I should like to point out to him the other side of the case, which is that when we are attempting some colonial development it should not be made the opportunity of shovelling out millions of money just for the purpose of spending money.
The hon. Member also said that the question of exact accounting was a matter of secondary moment. The hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo) said the same thing. He said that accounting could become a fetish. I think it would be wrong for any hon. Member of any party in this Committee to treat the question of accounting public funds as being of secondary importance. We have a public duty here, and the utmost care must be taken of all expenditure. Expenditure should be carefully recorded, and we should see that there is no unnecessary expenditure. It is quite a wrong idea for hon. Members to belittle any accounting system or to suggest that the question of accounting does not matter and that it is carried to the extent of being a fetish. I say without hesitation that the accounting of public money is of first-rate importance.
I listened to the Minister's speech, and I appreciated the fairness and open-mindness with which he faced this problem. When I heard him describing the steps he was taking to put things right, when he said that he was sending out a working party, and that certain steps were being taken to clear up the accounting system, I could not help feeling that the whole of his speech was an indictment of the previous Minister of Food, the present Secretary of State for War.
It has been said that we must not bring party politics into this discussion. I agree with that, to some extent, but the fact that we should not bring party politics into it must not lead us to lack courage and be afraid to place the blame where it is due. When the present Secretary of State for War, as Minister of Food, was answering Questions and discussing this scheme, I always took the view that he looked upon it more or less as his personal adventure, and did not listen to any advice and seek any help. In fact, in the evidence before the Public Accounts Committee, it was said that the 2126 Minister took the view that it had to be carried on in a headlong manner. What does a headlong manner mean? First, it was to be a military operation, and then it was to be carried on in a headlong manner, according to the previous Minister's view.
If that is the attitude towards this scheme, is it any wonder that we get to the fabulous figure of £35 million expenditure? There was this idea that the scheme had to be carried on in this way, this view that, "There is plenty of money, turn on the tap and spend money irrespective of where it comes from." The British taxpayer will not grouse if he gets value for money, but what the British people and the taxpayers of this country feel about this scheme is that there has been a terrific wastage of millions of pounds upon it. It has gone on in a headlong manner. There has not been proper care and supervision.
Let hon. Members look at the scandalous report we had about the accounting system. The hon. Member for Reading, South suggested that the reason we did not get accountants and executives to do the clerical work was because the Opposition had criticised the scheme so much that they would not take a job under the Corporation.
§ Mr. Holmes (Hemsworth)
The hon. Member is talking about the accountancy, and he mentioned the Public Accounts Committee. Will he have in mind what was said by a representative of Cooper Bros. about the accountancy before the Corporation took over?
§ Mr. Jennings
Yes I agree that is quite a fair point. My point about the accountancy system is that it is the responsibility of the Minister. He is just as much responsible for this scheme as the skipper is responsible for a ship which goes to sea and founders. What have we got? So far, we have Sir Leslie Plummer out and the former Minister of Food promoted to be Secretary of State for War. I think that is a bad deal so far as the country is concerned. In view of this complete failure, which it has been, I think it is a bad deal. I want to get the right perspective in considering colonial development and the production of food for this country; but, even if we take it in the right perspective, I still say that £35 million is a very substantial sum 2127 to pay for what we have received at present.
I welcome very much the Minister's suggestions. I believe he is in earnest and I believe he understands that there have been a good many faults in this system, apart from the bad and over-optimistic estimates. It is true that we had overoptimistic estimates but, apart from that, equipment was purchased and was found to be unsuitable. The faults in accounting and storekeeping could have been remedied, in my opinion, had there been supervision by the Ministry and, I maintain, by the Minister long before the sad tale which we heard when the Report was issued.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
The Minister should have done, then, what the hon. Member tells us we should not do—tell the people on the spot how to do the job?
§ Mr. Jennings
It is not necessary to teach Africans or any of them out there how to keep books. Surely the man who occupies the position of Minister of Food should know the necessity of bookkeeping on a £35 million scheme. I think the Minister had a grave responsibility and that he has slid out of it as beautifully as he often does from many of these things. I think he has not accepted full responsibility. That is one of the difficulties; the general public feel that they have been "sold a pup" in this respect and that the responsible Minister, instead of doing what Sir Leslie Plummer did, has been promoted to another office. The British public will not take that sort of thing continually.
I welcome the Minister's working party. The scheme involves millions of pounds and I hope the working party will view it in the right perspective. If the scheme is to be greatly reduced because it is not economic from the point of view of food or because there is not to be the colonial development which we anticipated, then I hope the working party and all its members will take their courage into their hands and report fully to the Minister, and that there will be no saving of faces. Let us withdraw to a much smaller scale; in the end I am sure we shall do far better. I welcome the action which the Minister has taken and the steps he proposes to take. I listened to him very earnestly and I wish 2128 him well in putting this scheme on to a proper economic and colonial development footing.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Hoy (Leith)
Perhaps I may deal with one point raised by the hon. Member for Hallam (Mr. Jennings) in which he mentioned the phrase "headlong manner." As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, he knows as well as I do that a great discussion centred around this question during the examination of the witnesses and I think it is as well that we should have on record exactly what happened. The hon. Member for Hallam said that it was only right that a captain should be responsible for what happens on his ship. If we keep it on that level, no heat need be engendered. The phrase which occurred in the Report about proceeding in headlong manner was used by Mr. Faure, then the managing director of the managing agency, and he did not seek to escape from it, because during the evidence taken by the Public Accounts Committee he said:I gave it as my opinion (may I say the word 'headlong' does not matter) that the decision to proceed in that manner was fully justified. That was my opinion which I put to the Ministry in reviewing the operation of the first year, and I believe the Minister accepted that opinion. In any case he did not indicate disagreement.So that Mr. Faure did not seek to go back on his opinion—that opinion being to proceed "in headlong manner." I hope to say something further about that in the course of my speech.
§ Mr. Jennings
My idea in raising the subject was that I thought the Minister himself might have obtained a clear explanation of what was meant by carrying on "in headlong manner" and because it was a peculiar phrase to use in connection with a scheme of this nature.
§ Mr. Hoy
That may be so and Mr. Faure himself, replying to a question from the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson), said that he rather regretted using that expression and that what he was attempting to convey was that the urgency of the situation demanded that all speed should be made. I accepted that explanation and I thought all members of the Public Accounts Committee accepted it.
2129 I am sorry that the hon. Member for Farnham is not here, because he said two things with which I disagree. He seemed to belittle the part played by the Public Accounts Committee in this Report. Like the hon. Member for Hallam, I believe it is the duty of all Members of Parliament, and certainly it is the duty of members of the Select Committee on Public Accounts, to examine every item of Government expenditure so as to ensure that the taxpayer is getting the best value for his money. I must say that it was not very encouraging to hear another member of the Public Accounts Committee say here, "After all, we do not need to pay too great attention to what they have been saying."
I also took exception to his statement, which I thought was in utterly bad taste, that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War attempted to mislead the House when he said that there had been a progressive fall in the expenditure on the scheme. The hon. Member for Farnham sought to imply that this was not so. One has to take that statement and put it alongside the statement made today by my right hon. Friend the Minister that in the course of the past 12 months the expenditure on the scheme has been falling until it is now 50 per cent. of what it was a year ago. In view of those facts and figures—and the Minister can either correct or deny them in his reply—I suggest it is wrong for the hon. Member for Farnham—and it is something of which he is not usually guilty—to use an example of that kind. I regard it as so serious that if the Parliamentary Secretary states tonight that the figures given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War were correct, then in all common decency the hon. Member for Farnham should rise and apologise to the Secretary of State for War and to this Committee.
§ Mr. Jennings
Will the hon. Member tell the Commmittee what the hon. Member for Farnham said, because I have no recollection of it?
§ Mr. Hoy
He gave two instances in which he said that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War had told deliberate untruths. One of those was challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd). Secondly, the hon. Member for Farnham spoke of expenditure and said that the 2130 House had been misled by a reply in the latter part of last year. The figures show that expenditure has fallen by 50 per cent. over the last 12 months.
§ Mr. Hoy
It was stated by my right hon. Friend in his opening speech today. What I am saying is that he is either right or wrong. If the Parliamentary Secretary, in his reply, states that he is correct, then the hon. Member for Farnham should apologise. If the Minister has been wrong, then the Parliamentary Secretary ought to correct it when he winds up the Debate.
§ Mr. Harris
I think the real truth is that the expenditure is 50 per cent. of what it was six months ago, not 12 months ago. I think the hon. Gentleman will find that is correct.
§ Mr. Hoy
In any case, there has been that very substantial fall in expenditure, which my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for War explained when he last replied on behalf of the Ministry of Food.
I now want to refer to two points made by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). He was quoting some questions asked by the Select Committee in dealing with the position of our butter and fats supply as at 1948, and he said that in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Food had stated that our position was not quite so bad as was envisaged in 1946-47. I think the hon. Gentleman ought to have completed the story, because the Permanent Secretary said in completion of that answer to Question 1333:I still frankly regard the position on oils and fats as a matter of some anxiety.The further question was put to him "You do still?" and he replied:As late as 1948 the total amount of oils and fats exported was only about 3.8 million tons as against 6 million tons before the war and with the pressure of world population and the decline in Far Eastern exports I still think that our position is a relatively vulnerable one.He did say that he felt it was still serious, and that it was because of that that these steps had to be taken.
Many questions have been asked about why all these things should take place, and about the origins of the scheme. Let 2131 me briefly remind hon. Members of what actually happened, and why certain decisions were taken, especially the one about proceeding "in headlong manner." The hon. Member for Hallam will remember that when this scheme originated, the world's fats and oils supply position was extremely precarious, and it was felt by all that something rather drastic would have to be done to remedy that position. So much was that so that in 1946 Britain was short of what it needed to the extent of an equivalent of 11 million tons of groundnuts; and when one remembers that Britain was importing 95 per cent. of the oils and fats she used one can readily understand the difficult position it which we found ourselves.
In March, 1946, Mr. Frank Samuel was flying over this particular part of Africa, and he saw this virgin land. He thought that this was the real answer to our prayer, he reported it to the Ministry of Food, and recommended that a scheme of the magnitude of 2,600,000 acres should be undertaken to produce the oils and fats that were so necessary. I think he gave the best advice he possibly could. The Ministry, as the Report shows, agreed to examine the scheme because they felt there was a great deal in it. Following on that, the Government recommended that a mission should go out, and that further exploration should take place. Now we hear a tremendous lot about experts, but sometimes experts can be misleading. The Wakefield Mission consisted of Mr. Wakefield, who has a pretty fair reputation in these matters, Mr. Rosa of the Colonial Office, and Mr. Martin of the United Africa Company.
No one can doubt Mr. Martin's claim to be regarded as an expert because this afternoon the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) said that if we wanted an expert to go out, even now he would recommend Mr. Martin. It ought to be remembered also that, while Mr. Samuel had said it would be reasonable to undertake a scheme covering 2,600,000 acres, Mr. Martin. one of the so-called experts, Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Rosa recommended that the scheme should be much larger, that it should be 3,750,000 acres. The hon. Member for Newbury will now have to revise his opinion of what constitutes an expert. because in the next breath he 2132 said it was sheer nonsense to talk about having a scheme of 3¼ million acres, 2½ million acres, or even 600,000 acres.
We ought to bear in mind that these schemes were the result of advice tendered to the Minister of Food by people who were reputed to have a very wide experience in this type of land clearance and development, and it was on their advice that the Minister and the scheme proceeded. In view of the tremendous urgency it was then decided, not by the Minister of Food, not by the British Overseas Food Corporation, but by the managing agency that they ought to proceed "in headlong manner." The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire said in opening the Debate this afternoon, that nothing had been learned from it. Well, even here we get a difference of opinion, because on page 10 of the Report of the Overseas Food Corporation the experts say:The Managing Agency in submitting its report to the Minister of Food on its first year's work said: 'If this year's achievements were to be measured solely by acreage planted, the results would not only be disappointing, but even discouraging. Such an inference would, however, be ill-founded, since it would ignore the major accomplishments of this period. The decision to proceed immediately and in headlong manner on an improvised basis has been amply justified by the valuable experience gained, by the acquisition of heavy clearing equipment and other materials which would no longer have been available in later years, and most of all by the establishment during this year of an organisation with the requisite specialist branches and with a knowledge of the type and scope of the problems to he encountered'.That is the opinion of the managing agency as expressed to the Minister of Food, and if we are to have the opinion of experts, I suppose that Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Martin must rank as experts in this regard.
§ Sir J. Mellor
Referring to the expression The decision to proceed immediately and in headlong manner," in answer to Question 1998 on page 89, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Food, giving evidence before the Public Accounts Committee, said:Those words, if I may say so. are the words of Mr. Faure. but the decision—as I was seeking to say—that the plan should proceed on the basis and on the tempo laid down in Command 7030 was a decision of the Government; it was not an independent decision taken by the managing agents, and the Ministry of Food must take responsibility for that decision.
§ Mr. Hoy
With all respect, I did not seek to differ from that opinion. The hon. Baronet was not here at the time I was replying to his hon. Friend the Member for Hallam. The hon. Member was arguing that the captain must be responsible for all that happened on the ship. I said that I did not demur from that opinion but that it was only right to point out that the opinion itself was tendered to the Minister of Food by the managing agency, but that neither the Minister nor the Ministry seek to throw the responsibility on to someone else. With all respect to the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor), I made that point nearly a quarter of an hour ago.
§ Sir J. Mellor
The point is not that the Ministry have accepted responsibility but that in the words I have read out the decision that the plan should proceed on the basis and at the tempo laid down in the Command Paper was a decision of the Government.
§ Mr. Hoy
I am sorry if I am not making myself clear, but I thought that what I said was plain to anyone who wishes to understand—that that was the opinion and advice tendered to the Minister of Food by the United Africa Company, which was acting as the managing agency. The Minister of Food accepted that advice and acted on it, and he does not seek in any way to throw the responsibility for that decision upon the managing agency or upon anyone else employed by it.
It is true to say that the members-designate of the Corporation, because they had had some contact with the actual work that was going ahead were, by 1947. a little perturbed at what was taking place. One has to remember that the Overseas Food Corporation took over the responsibility for the scheme before the intended time because they felt that urgent decisions had to be made and that the divided responsibility was good neither for the Overseas Food Corporation, the managing agency nor the people employed in this scheme.
A great deal of money, running into many millions of pounds, had been spent by the managing agency. I am not seeking to blame the managing agency for that having happened. In view of the very short supply of materials and tools and equipment which were necessary, the managing agency were compelled to go outside to buy from the disposal boards 2134 in Egypt and elsewhere, and frequently had to buy in lots a great deal of which they could not use when it reached the groundnut scheme.
It was as a result of all this that they fell down on their accountancy. Let there be no mistake that, while not blaming the managing agency, the Report makes it perfectly clear that the managing agency must accept a great share of the responsibility for the bad system of accountancy, for the lack of price fixing, etc. The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield can bear me out when I say that the members of the United Africa Company who appeared before the Select Committee, agreed, with one slight exception, with these four very serious statements made on page 10 of the Report of the Overseas Food Corporation about the conditions under which the Overseas Food Corporation took over. It was only after the Overseas Food Corporation had taken over that a recommendation was made to the Minister about a change in the size of the programme.
Sir Leslie Plummer has received much criticism. but I think that every hon. Member who sat on the Public Accounts Committee was impressed by his honesty, integrity and good intentions. Not one member who was on the Public Accounts Committee would demur from that statement. Sir Leslie, with his Board, took the steps which they felt to be necessary. It may be that there may be some ground for complaint that they did not go into the question of accountancy and the building up of a sufficient staff of accountants soon enough. They may be responsible for that, but it was only when they took over that at least some sense of reality entered into the situation. There were some differences about how this scheme should be cut down. The Overseas Food Corporation submitted a further scheme to the Minister of Food which was rejected.
They are now working on the new plan, which I understand has been accepted, which covers 600,000 acres. I hope to see this scheme a success. Tremendous political heat has been engendered. I do not think that I can be accused even this evening of importing any political heat into the arena. I think that a great deal of uninformed opinion has been expressed about the scheme. There are far too many African experts who, as we found out in the course 2135 of our inquiries, know very little about Africa. I think that the Government selected people with some knowledge of the subject. It may be that their estimates were all wrong, but if the Ministry and the present Secretary of State for War have to accept some responsibility, let us in all fairness remember that my right hon. Friend acted on the advice which he received from the members of the Wakefield Mission, the United Africa Company and the so-called experts of the day.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
I must congratulate back benchers opposite on the gallant fight they are putting up. But no one can swim the Channel with one's feet shackled to two lumps of lead. We are so close to hon. Gentlemen that we can see their tongues thrust firmly in their cheeks.
The Minister wisely talks not about the past but about the future, but hon. Gentlemen behind him have tried to lay the blame on everybody; first on the Wakefield Commission, then on the managing agency, then on the Conservative Opposition and then on someone who did not take the rainfall statistics in Africa years ago. Why not go back to Cecil Rhodes and Prester John? The truth is that one man only is responsible in the sight of this Parliament, and that is the Secretary of State for War who should have been here today to listen to the inquest on his own failure.
The groundnut scheme has been the most monumental flop since the South Sea Bubble. We are going into the past only so far as examination of the past is profitable to try to decide what we are to do for the future. We can draw two lessons from it. The first is the danger of embarking upon a grandiose scheme without proper investigation. The second is that if we waste money in one direction we cannot spend it on something else. Every pound that has been wasted on this scheme has been a pound which ought to have been and could have been spent on something else. I would challenge one or two hon. Members opposite who have called this a colonial development scheme. It was not such a scheme and it was never put to this House as such. It was put to the House as a scheme for growing 2136 groundnuts to provide fats for the people of this country.
Had it been a colonial development scheme we should not have spent the money in that way in that place. We should not have spent it in the way in which we have spent it at Kongwa. Not only have we done no good there, but we may possibly have done harm There is a great danger that Kongwa may become a dust bowl. In other words, this is no longer a development scheme of any sort; it has got very nearly to the stage of what. I would call a salvage project.
But the only point to which I wish to refer in this Debate is the spending of money. Let all Members of the Committee be equally vigilant on this point. Why try to excuse a waste of money when we know that it has been thrown down the drain? Every pound that has been spent on this scheme could have been spent on schools, hospitals and irrigation schemes in the Colonies. When the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) talks about saving tropical areas from Communism, I would point out that we do not save them by failures but by schemes that are a success. Who is better off in East Africa as a result of spending all this money? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the New Forest (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre) has raised. perhaps a little prematurely, the question of how much of this £38 million will have to be written off. In my opinion, it will be somewhere near £30 million. In other words, when we come to the final accounts we shall find that £30 million has irrevocably gone down the drain.
Why do not Members opposite, instead of defending this expenditure, ask themselves what they could have done in their constituencies with £30 million in terms of hospitals, schools and houses? Why do they not take that into account when they speak from platforms in their constituencies at week-ends? I have worked it out, and I find that it would build enough houses for the people in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. W. Fletcher), including one for himself, and in Chelsea, Chelmsford, Crewe, or Swindon. We should have built enough houses for all these people. To put it in another way, this £30 million would have built a new satellite town—perhaps we should call it the "Lost city of Stracheyville."
2137 The right hon. Gentleman has taken the right line by talking about the future and ignoring the past. I can assure him that, in so far as he keeps a sense of reality and realises that it is public money which is being spent at a time when every penny of our resources has to be husbanded, he will receive, and rightly so. the support of Members on this side.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
I do not wish to detain the Committee long, because I realise that many Members still wish to speak. I have been present at three groundnut Debates, and I have wondered where we shall eventually get. We have achieved a certain amount of success from these Debates, and I should like to touch on one or two points that arise from them. We must all remember that the conception of the scheme and the ideas behind it were inspired as much by romantic ideas as anything else. Unfortunately, as we all realise, through indifferent practical knowledge there was no serious opposition to it when it was brought forward, although I am sure we all agree that many people had doubts about it.
I would remind Members that at that time we were short of margarine and not so very short of money. But, today, people have quite a lot of margarine and very little money. The critics of the scheme at that time would, quite rightly, have been accused of being opposed to Empire development. I was one of those who supported the scheme in principle from the start, because I realised that it provided a chance to utilise some of the waste land of Africa and to improve and raise the standard of living generally of many of the Africans themselves. It is possible, of course, to criticise many aspects of the scheme—the clearing targets, low morale of the staff, the provision of accommodation for married people, prices of commodities, bad recruitment of proper technicians, the use of imperfect machinery and insufficient maintenance, the lack of financial control, and the really shockingly bad buying which has gone on during the handling of the whole scheme.
To give an illustration of the really farcical situation, I ask whether it is not correct that at present there is about 75 years' supplies of pink gin in stock and about 30 years' supplies of alcohol. If 2138 I am wrong, perhaps the Minister will put me right, but I think I am correct in saying that on the basis of present consumption. That may seem to be attractive to some, but it is a farcical example of the kind of buying that has been taking place. I could quote cases where goods have been disposed of and, a few days later, sold at public auctions at two or three times the price. Am I entirely wrong in suggesting that at one time there was a serious suggestion of providing a roller-skating rink for the natives? I am not so very sure that I am wrong. It is a pity that some of these things are not brought to the surface, so that we can realise the nonsense which has been going on.
We have already heard that the scheme has cost £38 million, and whatever experience has been gained, has, therefore, been gained at very great expense. I ask the Minister to do his utmost to make it clear to the sincere workers on the scheme that they can expect fair treatment from the Government whatever may transpire. That is absolutely vital if we are to go on with this scheme. Can he give some indication of the number of resignations among the lower officials, which is very disturbing? There are very few of the original leading lights left. I know that new brooms are always welcome, but experience of past errors must not be overlooked.
I am one of those who has constantly been putting it to the House that I can see no reason why this scheme should be controlled by the Minister of Food. But if it has to be controlled by the Minister of Food, I say, quite frankly, that I am only too pleased that it is the present Minister and not the recent Minister, for the reasons so many Members have already mentioned. If the scheme has to go on under the present arrangement, I wish the Minister well in the efforts he is going to put into it.
This is undoubtedly a colonial scheme. Let us bring a sense of proportion to the matter. Nothing can surprise an African native more than to realise that he is working for the Minister of Food. It is absolutely ridiculous for an African native to contemplate that, when he should, of course, be working for the Colonial Office if it is a Government scheme. Everyone in Africa looks forward to the time when the responsibility will be transferred to the Colonial Secretary. We have never got 2139 any satisfaction in regard to this suggestion we have made on many occasions. For myself, I am not very happy about this working party. I feel it would have been far better to have had more independent consideration of this scheme. I would put it to Members that to a certain extent the present working party is merely a case of wheels within wheels. We really need a body of expert business men to act as a jury on this scheme, which bears no relation to the original ideas.
The morale of the men can never be sustained unless they can have a definite target at which to aim. I hope the Minister will make it abundantly clear to all concerned just how far he expects them to go. They do not know exactly what they are trying for, and there is complete misunderstanding of the idea of the scheme. It is vitally important that the people in the scheme should be told by the Minister, "This is a target we are expecting of you. Now go ahead and try to achieve it." By now we must have had enough experience of all the troubles that can befall a scheme of this kind to be able to plan ahead for a successful target.
I would very seriously suggest—and this thing is quite typical of the African—that every effort to run the scheme must be made by the people on the spot. It is hopeless to think that any real business enterprise in Africa can be controlled from London. It cannot be done. Things are happening day by day, and it is vitally important that the people on the spot should have complete freedom to take appropriate action, and that people should be sent out there to achieve it.
The scheme up to the present has, unfortunately, done little to raise the prestige of European administrators amongst the natives of East Africa. I do not think that the natives of East Africa have much respect for the European administrators in this particular scheme. Indeed, I would conclude by saying it has shattered the hopes of many brave and courageous men and women, who have worked under tremendous hardships for the sake of our Empire.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
As far as possible I shall seek to keep clear of the polemics of this Debate. I intervene 2140 merely to put a point of view which so far has not been put, and to make a suggestion to my right hon. Friend which I hope is not too late. In the course of the Debate there have been many comments and interventions and some very caustic remarks, but an intervention which I missed during the Debate was the criticism, which might have been priceless, of the African farmer, who is perhaps the one silent listener throughout this afternoon's discourse while the white man proceeds with his old policy of deciding what is to be done with the black man's native country.
I agree that we have all shown the very best of intentions. We are very anxious to help and I was interested to hear those hon. Gentlemen who proposed the appointment of commissions with all sorts of experts to go out to Africa to inquire what was wrong, because none of them ever suggested that any of the African farmers on the spot might know a great deal more about farming conditions in Africa than any of the experts here, and that one, at least, of these farmers might figure on one of the commissions. Was it because of the fact that most of them are thought to be incapable of doing this type of work? They have been so long dependent on us that they are losing confidence in themselves.
Three or four years ago we sent out to East Africa a commission consisting of two distinguished citizens of this country; men who are scientists. I have tried on various occasions in the House to have their report published. I have been told that the report is for the information of the Minister. One of the gentlemen who went out on that commission has assured me privately that we are creating in that part of Africa, which we are discussing today, a dependent civilisation, which is a totally wrong thing to do.
We are so anxious to help and we are spending so much on helping people that we are not giving sufficient opportunity and chance to the Africans to do something for themselves. I have never heard from the opposite side of the Committee any suggestion that we might approach the problem from the point of view of letting the African do something for himself. We have no reason to assume he could not, because in Northern Nigeria he is doing the things there for the production of groundnuts that we have been 2141 lamenting this afternoon are not being done in East Africa. If we want to grow these nuts why not take a leaf out of our book at home?
In this country we wanted food and we said to the farmers that we would give them a guaranteed market, guaranteed price, seeds, fertilisers and implements, and we promised that we would do all we could to help them. Having done that we, as a Government told the farmers to go ahead and get the food. That worked. Is there any reason to suppose that that could not be done in East Africa if we followed a similar policy there? It is not too late perhaps to cut some of our losses so far as the particular method of approach is concerned, and go ahead and apply in East Africa a policy which we have seen to be successful in Northern Nigeria as well as in our own country.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher rose—
§ Mr. Rankin
I do not mind giving way in the least, but I have sat most of the day and I hope I shall close in sufficient time to allow the hon. Member to say a word. Instead, we have been following the policy of pouring white settlers into East Africa. We are seeking to carry out a white policy and are backing it up by encouraging the white men to settle in Tanganyika, East Africa and Northern Rhodesia. We want to ensure the permanent control of the indigenous African by a tiny white majority.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that all Scotsmen should equally go back to Scotland from this country?
§ Mr. Rankin
What a tragedy that would be for England. It is sheer pity that keeps us here.
In East Africa. we have been pursuing the policy of seeking to draw white settlers there in order to maintain racial supremacy over the indigenous inhabitants. There are no cheers for that from the other side of the Committee, because hon. Members know that that point is perfectly true.
§ Mr. Rankin
The trouble is that that policy is sending up the cost of the scheme. When the white man goes out he demands schools, hospitals. dwelling-places and social services such as we 2142 never dream of giving to the African. That is certain to inflate the losses which hon. Members opposite have been criticising so strongly today. If my right hon. Friend were to cut some of those losses he would hear an ever bigger howl from the opposite benches.
When my right hon. Friend opened the Debate he said that the groundnut scheme must go forward as a form of colonial development in its widest sense. I would bring to the recollection of the Committee the speech made by the predecessor of my right hon. Friend during, I think it was, the Third Reading of the Bill. He went a little further and said—he more or less committed the House of Commons to this statement—that this scheme was designed ultimately to pass into the control of the Africans themselves. They are to control the scheme. I hope that that will not be forgotten. If that is to be the case, and if this is a scheme of colonial development in its widest sense, then I say, with all respect to my right hon. Friend, that it ought to be transferred to the administration of the Colonial Office.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Braine (Billericay)
I join with other hon. Members in saying how much I welcomed the Minister's reasoned, cautious, and realistic approach at the opening of the Debate. But it was no more than an approach—I think he called it "an interim statement"—and there was nothing he said which removed the necessity for frank speaking. Indeed, if I were in any doubt whether to speak frankly it would be removed by the speeches of the hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo) and the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) in which they attempted, not altogether successfully, to shuffle off responsibility from the late Minister of Food on to other shoulders.
I have been somewhat surprised to find no reference in the whole Debate to the White Paper which was laid before the House in February, 1947, and which is quoted in the Report of the Overseas Food Corporation for 1948-49. I find in this Report these words:The Government's view contained in this document was that the scheme is a practicable plan for alleviating the world shortage of fats, which is likely to last for many years; that it is agriculturally sound; that, subject to reasonable assumptions, it involves no unjustifiable financial risk; that labour difficulties 2143 can be overcome … and that it could prove of great benefit to the African populations as well as to the people of the United Kingdom.There is no doubt, therefore, where the responsibility lies.
The groundnut scheme in its inception was novel, and seized the imagination. The world had never known anything like it before. There were bound to be mistakes in its execution. It would be fair to say that we on this side of the Committee do not make complaints that mistakes were made. We are complaining that the mistakes were covered up. We are complaining that those responsible—in particular, I name the late Minister of Food—never took it upon themselves to place the full facts before the people of this country or to take the House into their confidence. The Minister of Food and his predecessor are the sole persons who have had the power to extract from the Overseas Food Corporation the necessary information and to exact from them the proper performance of their duties.
I complain less of the blunders that have been committed, such as the fact that millions could have been saved at Kongwa if proper surveys of the soil and the availability of water had been carried out before the scheme was started, or of mistakes in what the Americans call the "logistics" of the scheme. Clearly, land has to be cleared, tractors assembled, workers trained, houses, railways and harbours constructed before groundnuts can be harvested.
What I complain about is that, repeatedly, the men on the spot advised the Overseas Food Corporation of the difficulties. There was Professor Phillips, for example, an eminent soil scientist, who has been connected with the scheme for some time. He flew to London some time in 1948 and gave certain advice to the Board of the Overseas Food Corporation. That advice was rejected. Is it any wonder that there was dissatisfaction among the executives, leading ultimately to resignations, and that a memorandum was presented to Sir Leslie Plummer complaining of:Endless changes of policy. We cannot he sure that any decision taken today will not be cancelled next week.Who was to blame for this? Sir. Leslie Plummer? Certainly, at the end of last year he had lost the confidence of his executives. That was made quite plain to 2144 the late Minister of Food when he made his panic flight to East Africa, but he certainly covered it up on that occasion. if there ever was a plot, that was a plot. Now Sir Leslie Plummer has gone. Somebody in the course of the Debate spoke of his good intentions. Good intentions do not grow groundnuts. Sir Leslie has been handsomely rewarded for failure.
But there can be no doubt about the responsibility of the late Minister of Food. There has been some question during the Debate as to whether he misled the House with untruths. I do not know about that—I was not a Member of the House until after the General Election—but it is quite clear that at no time in the last few years has that Minister been seized of the real difficulties of the scheme or had the courage to overhaul the administration of the Overseas Food Corporation, or to take the nation into his confidence.
Perhaps his early training as a Marxist has accustomed him—I hope that no hon. Gentleman opposite will object to my saying this, for I have the authority of Mr. Morgan Phillips that the Labour Party is founded on Methodism and not Marxism—to fit the facts to the theory rather than to base the theory upon the facts. He was intellectually incapable of realising that a scheme which he had heralded in such glowing terms was not turning out as he had expected.
The second fact of importance which emerges from a study of the past is that the Overseas Food Corporation was, and is, too large, too cumbrous and too remote. The right hand did not know what the left hand was doing. Indeed, to coin a phrase the right economic decisions on the spot were repeatedly prevented by leftish political considerations at home. There is, after all, an optimum level of efficiency for any organisation beyond which the standard of efficiency declines. The administrative problem of running the groundnut scheme in East Africa has clearly been too big for those in charge.
What is to be done? It is quite clear from what has been said from both sides of the Committee that there are few who would wish the scheme to be abandoned in its entirety, and certainly not before a full inquiry has been carried out as to its prospects. I would join issue with 2145 those who have suggested that the scheme has been a dead loss. I do not agree with that. In the main, of course, the object of the scheme was to raise groundnuts, and in that respect it has failed. But a subsidiary object was to open up hitherto inaccessible territories, and to promote the welfare and the economic health of the African inhabitants.
A great deal has been learned about bush clearance, and I do not think the importance of that has been stressed sufficiently when one bears in mind that five-sixths of the population of the Trust Territory of Tanganyika is hemmed in to one-sixth of the land surface owing to tsetse-infested bush. New harbours and railways have been constructed which will play their part no doubt in the ecomonic development, not only of East Africa but of Northern Rhodesia as well.
It is quite clear that the vast area of East Africa can never be properly opened up, and the standard of living of its inhabitants raised, until communications are developed. Tanganyika is known to be rich in mineral wealth. I was somewhat surprised not to hear anyone mention that Tanganyika already contributes one-tenth of the world's sale of diamonds, and that the new lead-silver mines at Mpanda on Lake Tanganyika, served by the same railway which serves the Kongwa region, are of great promise. Down in the south-west of the Territory there are eight proven coalfields and deposits of gold and iron ore all of which at the moment are inaccessible because of the lack of adequate communications.
I say, therefore, that if the emphasis in the future is to be upon the economic development of Tanganyika, there is a powerful case for transferring the responsibility for the Overseas Food Corporation undertakings in the Territory from the Ministry of Food to the Colonial Office. The first requirement is a full inquiry into the whole scheme.
It was suggested by one hon. Member that somebody on this side of the Committee questioned the credentials of the working party. I do not think that was in the mind of anybody. But we question the scope of the working party. As the Treasury backed the recent inquiry into the losses of the Kitchen Committee, I cannot see how in logic it 2146 can refuse an inquiry into this larger matter—unless, of course, the Government have something to hide. I say emphatically that an inquiry is due to the men on the spot who have been labouring under the greatest difficulties, to the nation which foots the bill, and to the African inhabitants of Tanganyika for whose good government and wellbeing we in this country are ultimately responsible.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenyon (Chorley)
The Committee is indebted to the two opening speakers in this Debate. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) made an excellent speech, a moderate speech in view of the opportunity he undoubtedly had for justifiable criticism of the Government in this respect.
I do not join with hon. Members on this side of the Committee in sharing responsibility with hon. Members opposite. It is the Government of the day, who bring in these schemes, who are responsible for their operation, and not the Opposition. There is nothing of which the Government need be ashamed in admitting that the scheme has failed in its primary purpose. There is no dishonour in admitting failure, especially when dealing with anything of an agricultural nature. We should accept the responsibility and we should go ahead in what I consider to be undoubtedly a fine scheme. The fact that things have gone wrong does not alter the principle of the scheme at all. It may give rise to criticism for mismanagement and so forth, but the principle remains the same and we should go ahead with the scheme.
I thought that the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire expressed much practical common sense and showed a unity of purpose between the two sides of the Committee which augurs well for the future. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Food seemed to me to be facing the situation in an exceptionally practical way. He recognises that what has taken place is not very palatable, but he is facing it with a realism that will justify the actions which he takes on the scheme. My right hon. Friend inherited a position in which we were deeply committed, and he is very wise to consider all the pros and cons of the whole scheme before passing final judgment.
2147 I want to offer a word of warning to the Minister. I said on a previous occasion to his predecessor and to the then Parliamentary Secretary that when I heard them speaking on agriculture, cold shivers ran down my back. When I heard my right hon. Friend telling us today what bacon we are to have from Queensland in the future, the same thing happened. In all seriousness, I warn my right hon. Friend never to prophesy on agricultural production. Any farmer knows that that cannot safely be done. Although the crops may be ready for reaping, a month beforehand a storm may well ruin the whole lot. Similarly, flourishing herds of livestock may contract diseases, with the result that whole herds are lost. When the previous Minister of Food tolds us details of the production of groundnuts that was to come from this scheme, he indeed sent cold shivers down my spine. The plans have all gone in the air, the groundnuts have not come. No one who knows anything about agricultural production, either here or anywhere else in the world, would have made the prophecies which were made by the previous Minister of Food.
Let us admit that it is hard experience which has forced my right hon. Friend into the present position. It has forced us to a sense of reality on the whole scheme. In the breaking up of new land, either here, in Africa or elsewhere, the result is entirely unpredictable. One never knows what will be turned up by a plough. I got into some little trouble in criticising finances at the beginning of the groundnut scheme, because I pointed out that allowances had been made for breaking up, fertilising and sowing African land at the same cost per acre as in this country, where the land is far easier to work, is far more fertile, and contains moisture.
One of the main reasons why this scheme has failed is that we have had too many experts on it and too few practical farmers. I am getting afraid of experts, unless they are balanced by practical men. What is the first thing a practical farmer would have looked for in this soil? Water. Lack of water has been the drawback all the way through. It is all right for the experts to say what they are going to do and what they are going to plan, but they can never say what the earth is going to do after they have planned. On a large 2148 scale the Ministry have simply suffered what we farmers suffer year after year on a small scale. Every farmer passes through this phase. He breaks up ground and sows crops and then perhaps nothing comes of it; something goes wrong with it, but he balances one thing with another. All that has happened to the Ministry in this respect is that on a tremendously large scale they have failed.
If circumstances had turned out in the opposite direction, and if in this waterless desert there had been a large amount of rain, as sometimes happens, the ground which had been sown with groundnuts would have been a tremendous success. The crop would have been there and we would have claimed that we were justified in what we had done. But the water was not there and, in addition, there was a drought. When there is waterless land and a drought in addition, it is just a gamble, especially in Africa.
This is now a scheme of colonial development, and as such it deserves the support of the whole Committee. We have a great responsibility to the people in our Colonies. The time has gone when we used the Colonies for exploitation only. We have a responsibility and duty to the people, and in that respect this scheme is fraught with tremendous possibilities for good. It can only be tested by continuous experiment and continuous work. A working party is now being sent out, and the Minister gave the names of its members. May I urge upon him to put on that working party more practical men? I know that he has one or two on the working party who have farmed in Africa and know the situation, but we cannot afford to have any further commission overbalanced by experts. Get some practical men on the job. In working together they will bring about results.
In any scheme of colonial development of this magnitude, one of the obligations of this Government and this nation is to educate and train the natives. I join with the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) in saying that in our education of the natives of Africa we are turning out too many lawyers, and so forth. We are turning out too many theorists. In fact, we have too many in this country, let alone Africa. I sometimes think we are over-balancing our economy in this 2149 country by carrying too many non-producers and that we shall have to face up to that situation.
Let us start on the right lines. Let us educate and train the men in Africa for the practical side of the job. Do that first and they will be the first to thank us when the result of that work is seen. Do not despise the crudeness of their methods or the primitiveness of their actions. I have lived too long among these natives to despise anything they do. These men are capable, if they get the opportunities which we have had. Train and educate them for the job and they can do it. If we go about this thing in a proper way and if we train these men for this work, I have not the slightest doubt that they will be able to succeed where white men very often fail.
I believe that there is inherent in human life and in the farmer, a certain unity of spirit, shall I say, between the development of the land and the development of the man who works upon the land. It is something that we cannot impart by education. It is something that grows through the years. That wealth of experience developed by education, and an understanding of the soil and cropping, is the long-term answer to the mastery of this hard and unkindly land.
Many crops are being tried in this area. I suggest that when the land is sufficiently fertile and has been sufficiently worked, cotton and maize should be tried. I am confident that maize will grow because I have seen it growing, and I am confident that we can grow good crops of maize on this land when it has been properly developed.
I wish to deal for a moment with Queensland. f have been in Queensland, where the scheme is now operating. While it may be a good scheme, I believe that the development of Queensland is the job of Australia. It is not our job, and Australia ought to be tackling the job in her own interests. Far too much neglect has taken place in Australia over the years, and we should not go to the rescue now. It is for Australia herself to develop this land. We can rear as many pigs and as many head of cattle here in this country as they can provide us from Queensland, if we go about the job properly.
What countries like Africa and Australia should provide cheaply—we all 2150 talk about cheapness and though I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) is not with us, he would agree with me where cheapness of food is concerned—what these countries should grow and send to us as cheaply as possible, is fruit. They can grow fruit in abundance and fruit of all descriptions. We cannot grow the fruit which they grow in the tropics and in Queensland. If they concentrated on the growing of fruit in these areas and left the production of pigs and cattle to us, it would be to the mutual advantage of all.
I urge the Government seriously to consider placing the African part of this scheme under the Colonial Office. The Colonial Office nien—I almost used the word "experts"—are people who know both the natives and the land. It is their job to know. From what I have seen, I would say that they know far more about the land and the natives than do the men who have been dealing with this scheme. It is the work of the Colonial Office to deal with schemes like this.
In Africa we have many obligations. One of our greatest is to create conditions which will enable the African to develop in his natural way. In the fullness of time, I believe that every nation contributes in life and knowledge to that store of knowledge which is possessed by the world, its own peculiar and individual experience. In the development of their country and the enrichment of their race under wise guidance and sympathetic leadership, they will bring to the councils of the world a fellowship and a fraternity well worth the sacrifice we are now making and well worth anything that this nation can do for them.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
All hon. Members on this side of the Committee, and a large number of hon. Members opposite, agree with the speech of the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Kenyon). I hope that he will take care to see that the relevant passages are extracted and sent to his hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), who may he elsewhere, on a featherbed, during this Debate. It is most important that the points he made should be more widely known than they appear to be.
I do not propose to take up time by making the point I should like to make 2151 about a Minister who, in the tradition that started with the South Sea Bubble, gets rid of £35 million of the taxpayers' money. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether, in the course of investigating the situation in Tanganyika as it exists at the moment, he will consider getting more experienced men from the Gezira scheme in the Sudan. I have raised this point with the previous Minister of Food. I cannot find out whether any personnel have been recruited from the Sudan Plantation Syndicate for work in Tanganyika.
This is not merely a question of the mechanised production of food. This is a technical job, and these men have unequalled experience of mechanised farming in the tropics. The far wider topics of land tenure, resettlement, and so forth, are problems now emerging from this scheme, as far as it has gone. One hon. Member mentioned the desirability of involving the African more closely in this great project. It is essential for the prosperity of a scheme like this to get the African who is working on the job to feel that he has a stake in it. One hon. Member from north of the Border talked about Northern Nigeria and the result, I have always understood, of the activities of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) who, at the end of the war, by proper marketing, encouraged the Africans there to increase their output of groundnuts.
The resettlement, in the areas to be developed, of people from the overpopulated areas of East Africa is of importance. Whether Kongwa is one or not, is not immediately relevant. I would ask the hon. Gentleman who is to reply whether he will consider getting people from the Sudan to study not only mechanised agriculture but also the whole question of land tenure, and so on.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)
We have had an interesting Debate, and, of course, one of the Votes put down was that of the Overseas Food Corporation, so that, if any hon. Member wished to speak particularly about Queensland, it would have been within the rules of order. In fact, however, except for the Minister's allusion to it, that did not follow. Therefore, if I do not expatiate on it either, it will be understood that I want to refer 2152 to the Debate which we have had rather than to the one which we might have had. Of course, while the Overseas Food Corporation is concerned with the Queensland affair, so is Australia, and so it is on a rather different basis from the East African scheme, in which no one else except the Corporation is concerned.
The Minister said that the month of July was a bad time for debating this particular topic. Perhaps it is; I do not know, except that we had one last July. Apart from that, I do not think that, in view of the terrific interest aroused in recent years on this important matter, it would have been right that Parliament should have broken up for the summer without any discussion of the matter at all. I think it is quite inevitable that, in a new Parliament and with a new Minister, this Debate should have taken place. It is quite true that, when it comes along, we have all these exotic names—Kongwa, Urambo, Tanganyika and all the rest—brought up, but it is also true that, while they are far-away places, we have been spending a million pounds of the taxpayers' money per month on this scheme, and, as was stated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) yesterday, the total cost is now £35,750,000, and it is not surprising that the House of Commons, which represents the people and the taxpayers who have to find the money, should consider this a matter of great public interest.
Some hon. Members have spoken from the other side and have kept on saying how glad they were there was so much less political controversy in this affair. Well, we are all politicians anyway, and the matter is highly controversial. When I say the matter, I do not mean the original idea of what the people were trying to get, but the way in which it has been carried out, which I say has been very controversial. I cannot see why the House of Commons cannot discuss this matter without being blamed if political controversy intervenes. As between one party and another, it takes two sides to make a quarrel, but that has been somewhat hushed by the departure from this particular office of the Secretary of State for War.
I remember that, in the Debate last November, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley), 2153 whose continued absence we all deplore on these occasions, said that whether the Minister left or did not leave his post was a matter entirely for his own conscience, but that, so far as we were concerned, it looked as if only political dynamite would move him. It seems to me that the Prime Minister has found some political dynamite, but only a small amount, which did not blow the right hon. Gentleman very far down Whitehall, though it was effective as far as the Ministry of Food was concerned. So we all have looked with interest to proper development of this affair, and the very thing that was demanded by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West, as hon. Members will see if they look at column 72 of that Debate, was that the scheme would benefit by the resignation of its Chairman. That has now come about, and I notice that the Minister did not appear to shed any tears of regret about that, for he never mentioned his name.
I do not want to go over the whole of the past. In the previous Parliament, I spoke several times on this matter, and we have had it reviewed, particularly by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy), who went into the whole history of the matter. But my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), who so admirably opened the Debate from this Box, used the words that the past history—I think he was quoting, but I still think they might be repeated—was one of going from procrastination to prevarication, and from evasion to equivocation, and I think we have had a good deal of proof of that today.
The Minister opened this Debate in a most sweet, reasonable and moderate way. Everything in future was to be firmly grounded in reality. That is a good thing. It has not been so in the past. He said that the original purpose of the fats was no longer any good. That is how I jotted it down. Anyhow, it was to that effect, that the original conception of producing a large amount of fats for our benefit had gone, and the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Kenyon) wisely dotted the i's and crossed the t's of that. It is a brave agricultural expert who tries to lay down, not only months ahead, but years ahead, what the crop is going to be.
It is true that the fats situation in the world has changed since this scheme was 2154 inaugurated. In fact, last year the world production had caught up with pre-war production, and this year—if, again, I may make a guess at production after what the hon. Gentleman has said—the experts estimate that, all being well, there will be something like 1,200,000 tons more than before the war. I grant all the business about the rising population of the world, but, even so, we seem to be, as far as this country is concerned, reasonably happy about the general situation of both edible and vegetable oils because, after all, the Minister has announced the forthcoming abolition of soap rationing, which is one of the matters which come into this problem.
But having said that, the Minister then says that the main object of the scheme is colonial development. Of course, it was not that at the start, and, what is more, it is not yet. The right hon. Gentleman as the new Minister may Christen this as his new baby and give it another name, but it is not a colonial development scheme at all at present. I wish it might become something of that sort. We have always said that we hoped that, in its widest aspect, that is where it would end up. It is for that reason that the Opposition have always asked that the Colonial Office should be put in charge of the scheme. I am glad to have the support of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken from the Government side in that matter.
After all, if it is to be a colonial development scheme, we must know what is envisaged and how it is to be done. If we are going to spend these vast amounts of money in Tanganyika, in particular, there must be some prospect of some return, and there must be some people. Let the Committee never forget that one of the prime reasons why this area—which has turned out to be so unsatisfactory in many ways—was selected, was that there were no people there. It was decided to go there because it was thought there were good agricultural prospects and because there was no one there, the idea being that it was thought best to try out mechanical agriculture where there was no fear of cutting across tribal customs, and all the rest of it.
It is because we on this side of the Committee think there are possibilities of eventual colonial development in it that we have repeatedly asked for an inquiry, 2155 in the form of a Royal Commission or some high-powered independent inquiry, to find out how we can achieve that end. For the right hon. Gentleman to come along and re-christen this scheme, and to do nothing and propose nothing towards bringing about any colonial development is not, I think, very good. I do not want to expatiate on how it is going to be done, but I say that the difficulty is going to be that if we are to make use of the installations already there, the hospitals, the schools, the railways, the roads and all the rest of it, there must be people to use them, and people to cultivate the land.
I do not know enough about these things to know from where the people are to come. It may be that by compulsion or by persuasion it may be possible to get some orderly migration from some other part of Africa, not far away, which may be overcrowded. That is the sort of question which an inquiry should ascertain or of which, had it been assertained, the Colonial Office should have been in charge. The Minister says that by October it is hoped to have a report for the House and that this summer there will be a careful inquiry into the details of the present harvest and, into the cropping programme, and that the accounts are to carefully analysed.
If I may say so, "That is elementary, my dear Watson." That is what one would have expected to go on, anyhow. It does not require a new Minister to come and say what a well-organised and well-run Corporation should be doing. Then, says the Minister, "We propose to go forward steadily, to test each step as we go along." Grand! It justifies every one of the criticisms made in the last three years on this side of the Committee. We have always been criticising the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, and the Government. too, for their headlong attitude. As it has come out during the Debate, as a result of evidence given before the Public Accounts Committee, it was the Government's decision—not that of the East Africa Company, not that of the Corporation—that it must go on at headlong speed. Indeed, the Public Accounts Committee makes that very point. It says in paragraph 34:Your Committee are left with the impression that the basic fault in the scheme was the failure to realise the impracticability of the original plans in the conditions which 2156 existed immediately after the war. An immense development and production drive was set on foot at a time when nothing but secondhand plant and machinery were available and before a balanced administrative financial and accounting system had been created….It goes on:But the sense of urgency was such that priority was given to clearing and production requirements; administration and accounting, though important, were regarded as secondary to those main purposes.There is the whole, headlong decision of the Government. When the hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo) comes along and tries to say it is not the Government that are to blame for anything that has happened but that it is Parliament because Parliament agreed to go forward with this scheme, and therefore tries to shuffle responsibility on to all of us, we are prepared to take responsibility for saying, when first it was introduced, that we thought it was a good idea; but we on this side of the Committee could not be certain, and, indeed, nor could hon. Members on the other side be certain, at that time that the machinery was available, and that the financial and accounting system was being created, and all the rest of it. We never knew. We could never get any information from the Government. The Minister was always silent. No, the responsibility lies with the Government.
The right hon. Gentleman said there must be realistic planning in the future. I hope there is going to be, because that is what we have asked for all along. What I could not make out in the Minister's speech was what plan is now being worked upon. That is really a matter of some importance. There have been a number of plans. I do not go right back to the Wakefield plan, or to its second edition. The last edition put forward was in the last Debate. Under that plan it was intended, by 1954, to plant 600,000 acres at a cost of £48 million. I do not know, and I could not gather from the right hon. Gentleman, whether that plan has been scrapped or not. Is that still the plan? The Minister shrugs his shoulders. He does not know. Then where are we? That is the blueprint which was last seen, and it has nothing to do with Kongwa.
I come back to what the Minister said about this working party under Sir 2157 Charles Lockhart. They are going out to deal only with Kongwa; those are their terms of reference and nothing else; and the Kongwa portion out of the 600,000 acres in the most recent blueprint, even at the best, is less than 100,000 acres. Nothing, apparently, is being decided or investigated about the other half-million acres by 1954. If there are investigations, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us, because I must admit that, with the best will in the world, I could not discover them from the Minister's speech. If that is still the plan, let the Committee realise what it means as compared with the original scheme. It means that we shall have, one year later, one-fifth of the original acreage at double the cost.
To come back to the Public Accounts Committee, whose Report is largely before us today—and in passing, may I say how grateful we must all be to our colleagues for the great care with which they have probed this matter and the very interesting things they have discovered; I wish I had time to give all the funny quotations I have found. On this point about the 600,000 acres by 1954 at a cost of £48 million, the last words of the Report are:The Chairman of the Corporation stated that he believed the present plan to be practicable on the experience they have had so far and on certain assumptions that have been made of future operations.But if hon. Members look at what the Ministry of Food had to say, through its spokesman, they will see that in reply to Question 1359 on page 80 Sir Frank Lee said:The estimates which the Corporation produced and which we checked did show, as Sir Leslie Plummer has said, that, on the assumptions made, the scheme would pay its way in the sense in which he was using the term after 1954.And that is very much a term of art, because it will not do that in view of its capital expenditure. Sir Frank Lee continued:I would tell you frankly that the Ministry of Food thought some of his estimates were unduly sanguine, and we felt that the issue, as it were, might be much more finely balanced at that time than the Corporation had supposed.We cannot draw very much comfort even from the last blueprint, but my question is—is that still in the picture or not? The Public Accounts Committee is 2158 most valuable, and I am sure we are all very grateful to our colleagues for the care and attention they have given to the matter. A factor of really great importance, from the point of view of this Committee, is the expenditure of public money—whether we are getting, or are ever likely to get, anything commensurate in return; and that is why I must admit I was shocked to hear the remarks of two hon. Members in this Debate. First, the hon. Member for Bowles—[Laughter.]—well, he might be, but he is the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), gave a very interesting description of his visit there, which was well worth hearing. He said we must not worry too much about money. Then the hon. Member for Reading, South said, "Do not let the Corporation stick too closely to their accounts."
Of course, it was because of the difficulty of the accounts that the Select Committee investigated the matter at all. For them to be told, after all their labours, that the Corporation need not bother to stick too much to their accounts in future reveals a fundamental gap in the thinking of some hon. Members with regard to their traditional historical functions, if it does nothing else. I think that is rather serious and it was something of that mentality, I believe, which was at the back of the former Minister's speeches.
For the present the right hon. Gentleman has given us some figures—which, as a matter of fact, the Corporation issued this week—about how the present harvest is going; it is not finished. I should like to make just one comment. In future, I hope that when they do put out these Press notices—and the right hon. Gentleman said he will be careful to see that they do—they stick to dealing with these groundnuts and things shelled. Up to now they have always been dealt with as unshelled. This time the figures have been given for the unshelled product. Of course, dealing with them unshelled makes it look very much better, because 1,500 tons unshelled equals 1,050 tons shelled, so that to give the figures for the unshelled product makes the total larger. In the past we have always dealt with the matter on comparable bases.
From calculations made for me, I find that up till now the total amount harvested of all the groundnuts. sunflowers, maize and sorghum—the whole lot—from 2159 the East Africa project is about 4,500 tons, and that, granted what remains to be harvested is on the same basis and that there are no worse patches, the grand total may be about 8,400 tons this year of oil-bearing seeds. The value of the present amount harvested is about £150,000, and the grand total, using the same sort of basis, would be £340,000. As far as I can make out, therefore, the most we can look for this year is about 8,500 tons of a value of about £350,000—and this for £35¾ million!
The Parliamentary Secretary will no doubt wish to reply and explain some of these things in more detail, but let me just say this. We, like they, and like anybody else, wish to send to those out there who are working so hard and living a very difficult life in arduous times, in great heat, and with problems coming up daily which they had not envisaged, our sympathy and our best wishes as individuals. When we come to the scheme itself, we agree that it was, still is, and could be made into, a great thing: it was a great conception when it was started; it could still be. We agree that a lot of experiments must be made. The Ministry were always against pilot plots—as came out very clearly in the Report of the Public Accounts Committee—all because of the rush. Well, they did make some experiments on the largest scale, and many of them have failed. As the Report of the Corporation points out, they experimented in sunflowers, and 10,000 acres failed; even at Kongwa, lack of rain washed out the experiment.
§ Captain Crookshank
It was not "washed out" in that sense, of course. The whole trouble was that there was not enough of that kind of washing out. But they were "washed out" in these accounts, of which the hon. Member for Reading, South, thinks so little.
We agree that when the plan was started there were no natives there. Somehow or other, in the long-run the natives, as the hon. Gentleman calls them—although I thought the usual term was "Africans"—will have to be brought in to do the work and to carry out the agriculture if the territory is to be developed to the beet advantage. We all agree about 2160 that. We all agree that native methods of agriculture must be improved. But mechanisation is a very big jump from anything to which they have already been used, and there may be some slower way of achieving what is desired. All that is probably common ground.
What is not common ground is how it is to be done, and we say that the Government should inquire into that matter through an impartial body. As the Minister has just indicated by a shrug of his shoulders, he does not know what the blue-print for the year is, whether or not we are still on the 600,000 acres for 1954.
The last Minister has gone and the new Minister is here, a practical, levelheaded, business-like man, we hope—certainly none of those adjectives apply to his predecessor. We applaud the change in the higher direction we hope is to come from the Minister. But this is the House of Commons in Committee of Supply, and what we have been talking about all day has been the fact that £35¾ million have been spent and we are being invited to vote still further large sums, when it is admitted, by this shrug of the shoulders, if not in his speech, that there is no clear plan of development, and it has not even been decided in the Kongwa area, which has been the bone of contention up to now—probably the others will follow later on—whether cropping or ranching is the solution to the problem.
And so, although we have got a new Minister, it is still the same Government, I am sorry to say, and they still have the same collective responsibility, and they still have the same Prime Minister; but we still say, as we said on 21st November in the Amendment which was then moved, thatin view of the most disquieting facts disclosed therein,"—that is in the Report—this House regards as essential and urgent a full inquiry into the present situation and the future prospects of the Corporation's work in East Africa."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1949; Vol. 470, c. 162.]Nothing, except the disappearance of the Minister and the Chairman, makes that any less necessary today in the month of July. We asked for that in November, and it was not granted. The only way we can protest is to take the matter to a vote, because the Government in the 2161 whole of this business have completely forfeited our confidence.
Therefore, I beg to move, "That Item Class IX, Vote 3, be reduced by £5."
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Mr. Frederick Willey)
Let me, first of all, on behalf of my right hon. Friend and myself, join the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) in wishing the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) a speedy recovery, and to say that we also regret his inability to join us in our Debate today. I should like also to say that we join with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in expressing our appreciation of the work of the Public Accounts Committee. I had the honour to serve on that Committee, being present as a member of it during part of the time the Committee was concerned with the inquiry which has been so much called in aid today.
I should like also to say that I think there has been, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has indicated, a rather new atmosphere present in this Debate. I very much welcome that. During the Whitsun Recess, I remember being on holiday just over the Border and a native of the place where I was staying, whose general demeanour indicated that he was obviously politically hostile, popping his head through the window and shouting "Groundnuts." From that, I presumed that "Groundnuts" was a term of political abuse. I am very glad that we can now look forward to the day when it will cease to be so used.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is a very wily, astute and skilful Parliamentarian, but he cannot really expect me to rise to the flies he has cast. My right hon. Friend has said that he is not prepared to speculate upon the future of this scheme. What we have to await is the marshalling of the facts upon which its future can be determined. As my right hon. Friend said, these will be made fully available, and I think that what we must do is to wait for them before we can speculate on the future of this scheme.
What I intend to do tonight is to deal with as many of the points that have been raised in this Debate as I can, and to provide such facts as we have got at our disposal. Some rather wild allegations 2162 have been made about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. From the information that we have and from the inquiries that I have made it is quite clear that these extravagant allegations have no foundation in fact, and that his bona fides are not in doubt. Let me, first of all, bat on the easier wicket. The Overseas Food Corporation is responsible for two schemes, the Queensland scheme and the East African scheme. What seems to have been overlooked in all our Debates is that it is the same Board that is responsible for all the schemes.
It is true that it is a joint Board, but if criticism is to be made it reflects on the same persons. In Queensland it is generally agreed the joint Board have done well, and that they have reached and surpassed their targets. A great deal has been said about pilot schemes. In fact, the Queensland scheme has proved a pilot scheme, because farmers are now following the example which the Board has set and a number of them are starting similar schemes. I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Kenyon), that my right hon. Friend did not convey that we would in any large measure depend upon this scheme for bacon supplies.
To turn to some of the other points which have been made and which affect the East African scheme, there is a great deal of confusion about remote control and remote responsibility. The fact is that members of the Board have always spent a good deal of time in East Africa. Since the Board was recently reconstituted, the Chairman has paid two visits to East Africa, has spent 11 weeks there and is going back next week; the Vice-Chairman has paid three visits, and has been 14 weeks in East Africa. As has already been stated, Sir Charles Lockhart is at present in East Africa.
The point was raised—I think it was a proper point to raise in view of the Select Committee's Report—that information should be made available about the accounting staff. The position is that the Board believe that their accounting staff is adequate but their stores staff is hardly adequate and will probably have to be slightly increased in the immediate 2163 future. The point was also raised regarding the position of members of the staff who might become redundant. The conditions covering them are generous, and as far as I know are accepted by the staff. The provision is for four months' pay with pay for such leave as a member of the staff concerned might be entitled to.
The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) asked about the rainfall in Kongwa. The Committee should appreciate that the rainfall for the last season, while it was considerably better than for the previous year, was, unfortunately, badly distributed. We did not have the rain when we would have liked it. He also asked about the water supply, which is an important consideration in view of another suggestion which he made. There are no present difficulties about water supply in Kongwa. Water supplies are adequate. I have to add to that the qualification that they are adequate for present purposes. I am dealing with drinkable water. They would not be adequate if, as the hon. Member suggested, we should turn to cattle ranching.
A point was raised by the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough which was also raised by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), about the oil and fats situation in the world. I should first put on record—I am not complaining of this—that when the Permanent Secretary to my Department gave evidence before the Select Committee he said: "I still think that our position is a relatively vulnerable one." That is the position. I do not want to deal with this in detail. The figures are available, but I would just make one reservation upon what has been said. The supplies of soft oils and groundnut oil are not so readily available as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman seems to suggest. Moreover, on the export side the position is revealed in the reports of the Food and Agriculture Organisation as far from being one that could lead us to easy confidence.
It is particularly appropriate to say that we are anxious about the Far Eastern situation. Another factor is that the Germans are coming again on to the market. It would be far too sanguine to say that the world oil and fat situation is one about which we can have any satisfaction. We have to improve the position 2164 not only in a world sense but also with special regard to the position of the British Empire.
I would turn to another point which became a theme of our Debate. It is whether the Board should place greater reliance in the future, and should have placed greater reliance in the past, upon experimental, pilot plots. The position is that the Board has always had experimental plots. One hon. Gentleman mentioned, in passing, that one of the difficulties of the Corporation in the past, for instance in 1946–47, was that the results from some of the trial plots proved very misleading. The point was made that some of the trial plots were in the foothills. The same consideration applies to the various regions. We have found it extremely difficult to get the information we want from trial plots. After all, one of the difficulties about the Wakefield Commission was the limited range of operations upon which they depended for their recommendations—
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
What was the size of the pilot plot? Has the hon. Gentleman himself seen it?
§ Mr. Willey
I have not, unfortunately, been out there. I will put it this way. There have always been trial plots.
§ Mr. Willey
There were small plantations and there are now plantations of hundreds of acres. One of the results of the original progress of the scheme was that instead of having 150,000 acres at the end of the first year's operations we had 7,500 to 9,000 acres, so that at all levels we had what were, in effect, experimental plots.
§ Mr. Hudson
The Parliamentary Secretary is quite unconsciously misleading the Committee. At the time that 50,000 acres at Kongwa was being talked of as the trial area, what was the actual size of the experimental plots about which he is talking? I submit that it was under 100 acres.
§ Mr. Willey
I will recapitulate what I have said. First of all, there were trial plots. In the area to which he refers the right hon Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) says that the plots did not exceed 100 acres. We now have plots running into hundreds of 2165 acres. Apart from that, we are talking about mass mechanised agriculture on the scale, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, of hundreds of thousands of acres.
§ Mr. Willey
There were, because of the way the scheme developed originally, only comparatively small plots. This point really cannot be pressed as it has been pressed in the Committee.
I now turn to the argument that the scheme should be transferred to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. That is a matter which is quite irrelevant to the other questions of detail which have been discussed in this and previous Debates. What has been said today and in previous Debates would not be met by any divorce between the Corporation and the Ministry of Food. The Corporation accepts responsibility for what it is doing. My right hon. Friend and I have no desire to evade responsibility. It would be an easy formula for the evasion of responsibility to transfer the responsibility for the scheme to a Department responsible for colonial affairs.
We do not ask for that. We say that if a case be made out for this development, it will be made out after the reassessment of the scheme to which my right hon. Friend has referred. There is no case at the moment for an early divorce or even for a legislative separation. There is the closest co-operation with the Secretary of State for the Colonies and, perhaps even more important, there is the closest co-operation with the Governor, Sir Edward Twining, and the Chief Agricultural Adviser on the spot.
When the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire raised the point about an inquiry, one of the legs upon which he rested his argument was the settlement of the question whether the scheme should be under the Colonial Office or under my Department. If that is a matter to go before high-powered inquiry, as he described it, it is rather prejudging the issue to say so dogmatically, as has been said time after time, that it is quite patent that this scheme should be under the responsibility of my 2166 right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd rose—
§ Mr. Willey
I am sorry. I cannot give way.
After all, this is a matter which has been raised constantly by the Opposition. Whatever merits the case may have for this high-powered inquiry, it is peculiarly inopportune at the present moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For these reasons. The Select Committee on Public Accounts has just reported and its Report has been accepted as a useful one by all sides of the Committee. I cannot see that we shall get any more reassuring inquiry into the past than we have had from the Select Committee. That is the position. We have held an inquiry and, as far as the matters raised in the course of that inquiry are concerned, we can say, and I accept responsibility for saying, that the accounting side of the scheme is being put right.
What we are concerned about—and this has been accepted in the attitude which has been taken by hon. Members towards what my right hon. Friend has said—is the future. Is there anyone better equipped to give his views about the future than the present Board? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Is there anyone with the same experience of this type of agriculture in these conditions? I have said that we have had an inquiry into the financial side of this scheme. Is there anyone who is better equipped on that side than the present Board? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Let me tell the Members of the Opposition that they have never divided on this matter. They have always accepted, as they have today, that this was a job to be done by a public corporation. They have always said that, they do not quarrel with that. If this is a job to be done by a public corporation then the responsibility for doing the job is that of the Corporation and, through my right hon. Friend, the ultimate responsibility comes back to this Committee and this House.
Why should we try to escape that responsibility by saying that this is such an intractable problem that we must place the responsibility on an independent, high-powered commission? We say that when we set up a scheme such as this, which the House did without division on Second 2167 and Third Readings, we accepted that the ultimate responsibility lay in this House. What my right hon. Friend today has said is this: pursuant to that responsibility, by autumn next, when the facts are available, when the opinions of those responsible for the scheme have been obtained; then, by means of a White Paper, these facts will be fully known and this House can decide whether or not it took a right and proper decision in setting up a public corporation to do this job.
Surely that is the way in which we should approach a problem like this. This demand for an inquiry is nothing more than a political stunt—[HON. MEMBERS: "Plot."]—each time the Opposition get up and say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Plot."]stunt—each time they get up and say, "We are not equipped to face responsibility; we must have some high-powered commission."
I am sorry, no.
The Board have never sought to take a parochial view of the work they are doing. They have always sought advice. In fact, as has been accepted from all sides today, they have taken a wise course in seeking the best available advice on Kongwa. I cannot choose between the views of the hon. Members for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) and Newbury, but it is generally agreed that the Board sought the best advice and that the advice of the Kongwa working party will be considered when they formulate their plans.
In the few minutes remaining at my disposal I should like to emphasise again that the responsibility for the scheme is ultimately the responsibility of this Committee. [Interruption.] Yes, the Minister is in turn responsible to this Committee. The hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade)—we cannot complain of this—raised a point which has been rejected by both the Government and the party opposite. He suggested that this was a matter which ought to have been left to private enterprise. That opinion has been rejected by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden); and on Third Reading the right hon. Member for Bristol, West, speaking for 2168 the Opposition, said he did not think that under present conditions it would have been possible for private enterprise to have tackled the groundnut scheme. That is our view. We accept the responsibility—
§ Mr. Willey
I can only say that the hon. Member conveyed to me that impression. It was the general view of the House that the scheme should be entrusted to a public corporation, and it is the general view, at any rate, of the two major parties in the House that this scheme was not a matter which could properly be left to private enterprise.
The other thing that must be generally conceded by anyone who makes any inquiries into this great enterprise is that everyone who has been concerned or interested in the scheme believes in its eventual success. The hon. Member for Newbury today repeated what he has previously said in articles which he has had published on this matter. He has been to the area of the scheme. In an excellent article in "Progress," he put to himself the rhetorical question:Can the scheme be made a success?His answer was:I am certain that it can.The other thing which must be conceded is this: however critical people may be of the scheme, the fact remains, as the hon. Member said, thateveryone must respect and pay tribute to the determined optimism of the pioneers in getting the scheme started in the face of difficulties which would have daunted lesser men.Reference has been made to the book by Mr. Alan Wood. While I have not time to read it as a peroration, I would refer the Committee to the concluding paragraph of the book, which says exactly the same thing. It is against the light of these broad generalisations which I have made that the scheme should be considered. It is really conceded everywhere that this work ought to be undertaken, that it should be undertaken by a public corporation, and that the men on the spot have done a first-class job. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In the light of those generalisations, many—indeed, most—of the criticisms that have been made today are no more than matters of detail.
§ Question put, "That Item Class IX, Vote 3, be reduced by £5."2170
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 290; Noes, 299.2173
|Division No. 62.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fort, R.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Foster, J. G.||McAdden, S. J|
|Amery, J. (Preston, N.)||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||McCallum, Maj. D.|
|Amory, D Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Gage, C. H.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I of Wight)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Gammans, L. D.||McKibbin, A.|
|Baker, P.||Garner-Evans, E. H. (De [...]ligh)||McKie, J H. (Galloway)|
|Baldock, J. M.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Maclay, Hon. J. S|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Glyn, Sir R.||Maclean, F. H. R.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Gomme-Duncan, Col A||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Gridley, Sir A.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Beamish, Maj. T V. H.||Grimond, J.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Bell, R. M||Grimston, Hon. J (St. Albans)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Grimston, R. V (Westbury)||Maitland, Comdr J. W.|
|Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Harden, J. R. E.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Bennett, W. G (Woodside)||Hare, Hon. J, H. (Woodbridge)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth)|
|Birch, Nigel||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Marples, A. E|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harris, R. R. (Heston)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Black, C. W||Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)|
|Boothby, R.||Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S.||Maude, J. C. (Exeter)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hay, John||Maudling, R.|
|Bowen, R.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Medlicott, Brigadier F|
|Bower, N.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Heald, L. F.||Molson, A H. E.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Heath, Edward||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Braine, B.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Morris, R. Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr J. G.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Morrison, Maj. J. G (Salisbury)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W.||Higgs, J M. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Hill, Mrs. E (Wythenshawe)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Browne, J. N. (Govan)||Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)||Nabarro, G.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicholls, H|
|Bullock, Capt M||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholson, G.|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A.||Hollis, M. C.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Butcher, H. W.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Nugent, G. R H.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hopkinson, H L. D'A.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Carr, L. R (Mitcham)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Horsbrugh, Miss F.||Odey, G. W.|
|Channon, H.||Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Clyde, J. L.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Colegate, A||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Osborne, C.|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Hurd, A. R.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U (Ludlow)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Hyde, H. M.||Pitman, I. J|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hylton-Foster, H. B||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Prescott, Stanley|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O E||Jennings, R.||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crouch, R. F||Johnson, Howard S. (Kemptown)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Crowder, F P. (Ruislip—Northwood)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Crowder, Capt. John F E (Finchley)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Cundiff, F. W||Kaberry, D.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Keeling, E. H.||Redmayne, M.|
|Darling, Sir W Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|de Chair, S||Langford-Holt, J.||Roberts, P. G. (Heeley)|
|De la Bère, R.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)|
|Deedes, W. F||Leather, E. H. C.||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Robson-Brown, W. (Esher)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Lennox Boyd, A. T.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lindsay, Martin||Roper, Sir H.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M.||Linstead, H. N.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Llewellyn, D.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Russell, R. S.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Duthie W. S.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Longden, G. J. M. (Herts. S. W.)||Scott, Donald|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Low, A. R. W.||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth, S.)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Smithers, Peter H. B. (Winchester)|
|Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Teeling, William||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)||Waterhouse, Capt. C|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)||Watkinson, H.|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)||Webbe, Sir H. (London)|
|Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Stevens, G. P.||Tilney, John||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Touche, G. C.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Turton, R. H.||Wills, G.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Storey, S.||Vane, W. M. F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)||Vesper, D. F.||York, C.|
|Studholme, H. G||Wade, D. W.||Young, Sir A. S. L.|
|Summers, G. S.||Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Walker-Smith, D. C.||Mr. Drewe and Brigadier Mackeson.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Adams, Richard||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Albu, A. H.||Davies, S. 0. (Merthyr)||Hoy, J.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hubbard, T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Deer, G.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Delargy, H. J.||Hughes, Emrys (S Ayr)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Diamond, J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Dodds, N. N.||Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Donnelly, D.||Hynd, H (Accrington)|
|Baird, J.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hynd, J B. (Attercliffe)|
|Balfour, A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Dye, S.||Irving, W J. (Wood Green)|
|Bartley, P.||Ede, RI. Hon J C||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Edelman, M.||Janner, B|
|Benson, G.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Beswick, F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Jeger, G. (Goole)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Eobw Vale)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Bing, G. H C.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jenkins, R. H.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Ewart, R.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Boardman, H.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Booth, A.||Field, Capt. W. J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Finch, H. J.||Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Keenan, W|
|Eowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Follick, M.||Kenyon, C|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Foot, M. M.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Forman, J. C.||King, H. M.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Fraser, T (Hamilton)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E|
|Brooks, T. J (Normanton)||Freeman, J. (Watford)||Kinley, J.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Lang, Rev. G.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lee, F. (Newton)|
|Burke, W. A.||Gibson, C. W||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Burton, Miss E.||Gilzean, A.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)|
|Callaghan, James||Gooch, E. G.||Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)|
|Carmichael, James||Greenwood, Anthony W. J. (Rossendale)||Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Lindgren, G. S|
|Champion, A. J.||Grenfell, D R||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Grey, C. F.||Logan, D. G.|
|Clunie, J.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Longden, F. (Small Heath)|
|Cocks, F. S||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||McAllister, G.|
|Coldrick, W.||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Collick, P.||Gunter, R. J.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Collindridge, F.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||McGovern, J|
|Cook, T. F.||Hale, J. (Rochdale)||McInnes, J|
|Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mack, J. D.|
|Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Hall, J (Gateshead, W.)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne V'll'y)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hamilton, W. W.||McLeavy, F.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hannan, W.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Crawley, A.||Hardman, D. R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Hardy, E. A.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Hargreaves, A.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Harrison, J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Daggar, G.||Hayman, F. H.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Daines, P.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Darling, G. (Hillsboro')||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Messer, F|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Hobson, C. R.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Holman, P||Mikardo, Ian|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Rhodes, H.||Tomney, F|
|Moeran, E. W.||Richards, R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Monslow, W.||Robens, A.||Usborne, Henry|
|Moody, A. S.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Vernon, Mai W. F|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Viant, S. P|
|Morley, R.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wallace, H. W|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Watkins, T E.|
|Mort, D. L.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Webb, Rt Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Moyle, A||Royle, C.||Weitzman, D.|
|Mulley, F. W.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Murray, J D||Shawcross, Rt. Han. Sir H.||Wells, W T (Walsall)|
|Nally, W||Shurmer, P. L. E||West, D. G.|
|Neal, H.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wheatley, Rt. H.n. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)|
|O'Brien, T.||Simmons, C. J.||White, H (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Slater, J.||Whiteley, Rt Hon W|
|Oliver, G. H.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wigg, George|
|Orbach, M.||Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B.|
|Padley, W. E.||Snow, J. W.||Wilkes, L.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir F.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Pannell, T. C.||Steele, T.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, D J. (Neath)|
|Parker, J.||Stokes, Rt. Hon R. R.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Paton, J.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G R. (Vauxhall)||Williams, Rt. Hon, T. (Don Valley)|
|Peart, T. F.||Stress, Dr. B.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Poole, Cecil||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Wilson, Rt Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Popplewell, E.||Sylvester, G. O.||Winterbottom, I (Nottingham C.)|
|Porter, G.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Taylor, R. J. (MorPeth)||Wise, Major F J.|
|Proctor, W. T.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Woods, Rev G S|
|Pursey, Comdr. H.||Thomas, I. 0. (Wrekin)||Wyatt, W. L|
|Rankin, J.||Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)||Yates, V F|
|Rees, Mrs. D.||Thorneycrott, Harry (Clayton)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Reeves, J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Timmons, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Reid, W (Camlachie)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks.|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ It being after Ten o'Clock, and objection being taken to further proceeding, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress: to sit again Tomorrow.