HC Deb 28 February 1951 vol 484 cc2121-237

Considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair]


Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

4.54 p.m.

Captain Crookshank (Gainsborough)

I was wondering which of the Ministers—and after the last interlude I am happy to see that there are no fewer than four concerned with this Bill in front of me—was going to commend this Clause to the House, but it appears that none of them intends to do so. That is strange. It might have been that the Minister of Food would commend it with joy at getting rid of a nasty child, or it might have been that the Secretary of State for the Colonies would commend it with a word of welcome at the arrival of the child in his Department. But neither of them seems anxious to say anything at all, and I am rather surprised.

As it stands, of course, the Clause is not particularly difficult to understand, and we on this side of the Committee would certainly not think of opposing it, because it carries out what we, ever since the start of this business, have said was desirable and should be done, and that is to place ultimate responsibility for the Corporation on the Colonial Office. Later in Committee we will discuss the Cor- poration in more detail, but for the purpose of argument on this Clause, assuming there is a Corporation of this nature, we have always taken the view that the overseeing Department should be the Colonial Office and not the Ministry of Food. This Clause does exactly that, and for that reason is to be welcomed on general grounds, though I must say that our pleasure and our satisfaction in this Matter have been rudely shaken within the last hour and a half in this House, when we discovered that a not such large scale or costly but a similar muddle and scandal has arisen in one of the organisations over which the Colonial Secretary does have some—

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. James Griffiths)

What scandal?

Captain Crookshank

I heard the right hon. Gentleman make a statement at the end of Question Time about Gambia eggs.

Mr. Griffiths

I did not use the word scandal."

Captain Crookshank

No, but I did.

Mr. Griffiths

That is why I am asking: What scandal?

Captain Crookshank

We will discuss that when it is in order to do so on its own merits or demerits on a future occasion, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) gave notice. I am merely saying that this particular trouble, scandal, or whatever word is used about it—

Mr. Griffiths

It is clearly not in order for us to discuss the statement I made to the House earlier, and upon which I indicated there would be a further statement. There were a number of supplementary questions, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is now describing it as a scandal. I do not know what he means by the word "scandal." If there is to be a debate at some time I think he ought to withdraw that word, because it is prejudging the issue which will come before the House later.

Captain Crookshank

Not at all. There is nothing in the world to withdraw.

Mr. Griffiths

On a point of order. Is it in order for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, speaking on Clause I of this Bill which has no relation to the question I discussed earlier, to make a remark of that kind?

The Chairman

I cannot say that there is anything unparliamentary about the use of that word in this connection. It may or may not apply; that is a matter for the Committee, who will be able to judge for themselves.

Mr. Griffiths

The matter which we discussed earlier, on a statement made by me to the House, does not come within the compass of this Bill. That is why I ask whether it is in order for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to refer to it.

The Chairman

I entirely agree that it is not competent for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to discuss or enter into any details of the matter to which he referred, but I do not think I can take any action to prevent him making a passing reference to it, or to any other activity of the proposed new Corporation.

Captain Crookshank

I specifically said that we intended to discuss this on another occasion and that I thought it was out of order to mention it in detail now. What I was saying was that, having found that one of the organisations for which the right hon. Gentleman has responsibility should have come into such misfortune as this about the eggs in Gambia, it a little shakes—not too much, but just a little, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree—the high hopes we had in previous debates of the transfer of this Corporation to his charge. But, of course, just as there are bad eggs and good eggs, I imagine the right hon. Gentleman will find that there are bad schemes and good schemes with which he has to deal.

5.0 p.m.

On general grounds we have always taken the view that it would be wise for this particular matter to come within the purview of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I should like one of the right hon. Gentlemen present to say something on this Clause. I want to take the opportunity of raising the question—I do not know how far it may be in order—whether, as a result of the transfer of the Corporation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, it pre-supposes that there are to be closer relations with the Colonial Office than ever there have been before. I imagine that one of the objects is that there should be closer relations with the supervising department than was reasonable within the Department of the Minister of Food.

I see that the right hon. Gentleman frowns. On these grounds, the Minister of Food had no direct concern with the well-being of Africa, but by transferring the Corporation to the Colonial Office it is implied, I think, that the African interest, so to speak, of the project becomes more important than before, and therefore there should be closer relationship in future between the Corporation and the Secretary of State than there used to be between the Corporation and the Minister of Food, who was dealing with this from a different angle.

Is the right hon. Gentleman going to accept more direct responsibility for the activities of the Corporation vis-á-vis this House, and will it be more easy for us to address questions to him on the whole of this matter? I think that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee are interested in this problem of Questions being asked in the House of Commons. That is why I want to know on this Clause—and I hope that I am in order, because, if not, I can probably find some other occasion on which to raise it—whether, owing to the more close relations in future between the Colonial Office and the Corporation, the right hon. Gentleman will say that he is prepared to accept greater direct responsibility for the actions in the field of the new Corporation. If the right hon. Gentleman can say anything about that, and say something satisfactory, that would be very good for us all.

I hope, therefore, that in the long run this transfer—and I am assuming for the purpose of argument on this Clause that the Corporation will go on existing—will be shown to be to the benefit of all concerned. I am quite sure that it will be to the advantage of the Minister of Food because he has inevitably, like his predecessor but not quite so much as his predecessor—I should not like to put them in exactly the same category—had to devote an enormous amount of time to this problem which is quite obviously outside the direct line of his responsibilities. I know that originally the scheme was brought into being in the hope of increasing the food supplies of this country, but once it had gone a bit astray—to put it mildly—the Minister of Food had to devote a disproportionate amount of time to this affair.

That is an extra reason why we should welcome this Clause and the transfer of the Corporation to the Colonial Office. I hope that we shall not find that its future career is as chequered as its immediate past. I hope that whatever the outcome of the issue about the Corporation itself, we shall find that the expenditure of this vast sum of public money will have done someone, somehow, some good in East Africa, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us whether he is going to accept more responsibility in the future than the Minister of Food has been able to do in the past.

Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)

The right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank) has raised a matter in which a number of us on this side of the Committee are interested. That is the non-party point of the right and power of back bench Members to ask questions of Ministers and to expect to receive replies. I suppose that in future whatever party is in Opposition, it will always want to have greater rights and impose on the Ministers greater burdens by asking questions, and that the Government will always want to reduce to the minimum the number of matters on which they have to answer questions.

I should like to ask the Minister whether he will let us know to what extent he thinks that questions can fairly be addressed to him now that the responsibility for this Corporation has been imposed upon him, and whether perhaps, at some later stage, consideration can be given to an Amendment to make it quite clear what are the areas of policy over which the Minister has power, and upon which, therefore, it would be proper for hon. Members to ask him questions. Apart from that matter, I hope that this Clause will go through.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)

My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) has pointed out that the provisions of Clause 1 really vindicate all the criticism which we have made during the many debates that have taken place on the original set-up. We always wanted the Colonial Office and not the Ministry of Food to be the responsible authority. I can only hope that in many respects the Colonial Office will pay a good deal more attention, not merely to sound administration, but to what I might call African welfare than the Ministry of Food has hitherto done.

When the original scheme started to go wrong, hon. Members opposite took the view that it did not matter very much whether £36 million was or was not written off, because it was all, in some mysterious way, spent on colonial welfare. If this House had voted that sum of money to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for the purpose of colonial welfare, it would, I am sure, have been spent in an entirely different way.

Mr. Allan Wood, in his book which the present Secretary of State for War was understandably anxious to suppress, wrote: Long years hence those who saw it may well wonder if it really happened that a timber mill was sited before anyone had counted the trees for the wood, that a pipe line costing half a million was built at huge operating expenses to take fuels to tanks miles from anyone in the African bush, that a railway was begun, without anyone knowing exactly where it was going to end. That is not the way to spend money on colonial welfare.

One of the most disturbing features of the whole set-up was the lack of interest displayed in the conditions of many of the African employees. Many of us on this side of the Committee, and, I expect, many hon. Members opposite, have received disquieting information as to those conditions. African labour has been housed, four and five, in 180 1b. tents, many of the tents being thoroughly unserviceable.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman is going rather wide of the Clause.

Mr. Mott-Radelyffe

The Clause transfers the functions from the Minister of Food to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the only point that I was seeking to make was that I hoped the Colonial Office would pay a good deal more attention to the welfare of the African employees in the future, scheme than the Minister of Food paid in the past. By way of illustration, I was pointing out certain grave defects in the conditions under which many of the African employees were housed and fed under the old system. I merely used as an illustration that African employees were living four and five in a 180 lb. tent, and that many of the tents were thoroughly unserviceable. In any case, I hope that under a different Department, which has had a good deal of experience of colonial development and of welfare services in the Colonies, such money as in fact is spent will be properly spent and not wasted on a number of badly thought out and worse executed schemes.

Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)

As my hon. Friends have pointed out it has taken more than 3½ years for us to achieve this Clause, which we set out to do at the end of 1947. It will be a considerable satisfaction to us, but if there is to be this lag of 3½ years in our recommendations it will lead to a certain amount of disruption in various parts of the world. I am sorry that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is not here, because he disturbed the Committee with his objection to the use of the word "scandal." I would remind him that these proceedings are clearly the liquidation proceedings on a loss of £36½ million. This has been something worse than a scandalous matter. The accounts connected with the scheme would not have been allowed under the Companies Act in a private company. This is a most serious situation. These are the liquidation proceedings taking place on the Floor of this Chamber and it is the first of what I am afraid may turn out to be a series of scandals.

The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. John Dugdale)

The Secretary of State for the Colonies was at pains to point out that he did not want discussion to take place upon the alleged scandal of the Gambia egg scheme. He was not referring in any way to the accounts of this Corporation.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I see, but they are all scandals. If we use strong language in this Committee it is because we want to push the point home. I hope that Members on the Government Front Bench will not be too thin-skinned, because, as we have pointed out time and time again, this is a loss of £36½ million, which is not something to be lightly overlooked. We have tried in every way to get Parliamentary Questions to the Minister. I am not blaming the Minister on this point. Only today, another Question was asked by an hon. Member behind the Minister and he managed to get one across, which I have failed to do for more than a year. We shall welcome anything that the Colonial Secretary can do to give us more information about what is going on in the various Corporations working overseas.

We cannot go in detail over the arguments which we have used in the past for putting this matter into the hands of the Colonial Office. When a dispassionate examination is made of the case I think it will be found that the failure of the scheme is partly due to the fact that local individuals and governors have always had, overshadowing their efforts to keep control, this high-pressure political selling that was going on from London. They have done their best to advise, but on more occasions than one, they have been overruled and their advice has not been taken. There is something to be said now for salvaging what is left of the scheme for the benefit of the local people. Taking one thing with another, I do not think that more good can he said to have been done than harm. There has been practical development of communications for 3½ years, but that has been impeded by giving priority to this scheme.

I hope that as time goes on the Colonial Office will look at some of the suggestions that have been put from this side. I would mention one. In his speech last week the Minister of Food said that no comparable experiment had been made anywhere else. I would refer him once again to the Sudan Plantations Syndicate, which is a very big and extremely successful experiment in large-scale farming. A lot of mechanisation is used, and more than one million acres are under irrigation. Everybody who has been to see this scheme says how good it is. The Minister of Food and the Secretary of State for the Colonies have been appealed to, to make use of the experience and the personnel from that scheme, but, so far as I can make out, not one individual has been got hold of, not from the production side of the scheme but in regard to the great problems of resettlement. and so on. I hope that as time goes on the Secretary of State will look at the Sudan scheme in order to get practical experience of what may be salvaged from the East African scheme.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)

For the two years that I have been in this House, whenever the Groundnut Scheme has been debated I have always strongly advocated that the Colonial Office should take over the scheme. I have done so for many reasons, but for one in particular. It was that the former Minister of Food just did not have a clue when he was answering our questions about the scheme. It always struck me as extraordinary when I saw the former Minister of Food in East Africa, pretending to follow up a scheme such as this when he could not know anything about it at all. It appeals to me very much that the Colonial Office should take over the workings of this scheme. I can only hope that the Colonial Office will now be able to give us practical and proper answers to questions which we may want to put. In previous debates, the proceedings have been brought down to the level of a farce because of the kind of information that was given in reply to our practical questions.

I feel very strongly indeed about this. In the past the position has been most unsatisfactory, and I would stress, now that this scheme is to be passed over to the Colonial Office, that we ought to get some understanding from the Colonial point of view, about what is happening with the scheme. I join, with other hon. Members in saying how important it is to get proper answers to our Questions, and I sincerely hope that we shall now get from the Colonial Office some sensible replies. I am not blaming the present Minister of Food for what has happened. Indeed, I congratulate him very much upon getting rid of this scheme, so far as he is concerned. He has got a lucky break. If I were in his shoes—one never knows, one day I may be—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—I should be very pleased to have got rid of a problem such as the one we are now discussing.

I do not know whether the touchiness displayed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies this afternoon indicates the kind of replies that we may get to our Questions on this matter. I for one shall feel very strongly about it if that is the case, and I want to make my protest very strongly. I am fed up to the back teeth with the replies that we have had in the past from the former Minister of Food about a scheme of which he knew nothing whatever. I hope that we shall get real replies to our Questions, which are important because we want to know where we stand. Public money is involved and we want to know what is happening to it. I hope that the exhibition of touchiness that we have seen this afternoon from the Colonial Secretary is not a guide to the type of answer we shall get when we want to get down to the details of this scheme.

Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)

Before the Minister replies I want information upon another matter. The scheme is now being taken over by the Colonial Secretary and it will become part of Colonial development. It is situated in Tanganyika. It is essential that this Committee should know what the Tanganyika Government are doing and thinking about it and what consultations have taken place. We believe that the Board is to be moved to Tanganyika and that the Tanganyika Government are to be represented on the Board. It is obvious that there is to be much more co-operation from the Tanganyika Government, because it is clear that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has been discussing the matter with them, but he did not tell us the result of those talks. On Second Reading he said: While we have been considering these new proposals, I have been keeping in the closest touch with the Government of Tanganyika and I have had discussions with them in this country. All that we gathered about those discussions was stated in the next sentence. I want to draw the Minister's attention to it. Having discussed it with the Government of Tanganyika, he said: I know that if tonight the decision of this House was to abandon the Scheme or to set up an inquiry, that decision would be received with dismay among the people of Tanganyika." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1951: Vol. 484, c. 1201–2.] That was received in the House with cries of "Nonsense."

I draw attention to this because there was great doubt in my mind about the accuracy on the Secretary of State's statement on that point. I cannot accept that the Government of Tanganyika told him that an inquiry would be regarded with despair, which was what he conveyed to the House. I do not believe it. The right hon. Gentleman misdirected and misinformed the House. It is of the utmost importance that we should know the view of the Government of Tanganyika on the proposed extension in a limited way and what part they will play, not only in having a seat on the Board but in many other directions, such as in regard to the railway, health and housing. I hope that the Colonial Secretary will give us some information about this.

Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)

This Clause is vitally important and we ought not to pass it unless we realise exactly all that it implies. What we are really doing is considering the new articles of association of a bankrupt company, a company which, if it were a private enterprise company, would be called a "bucket-shop" by hon. Gentlemen opposite—and rightly so. Before we can have full confidence in the new management and the new board of directors we must understand from them exactly how they will carry on their business and to what extent they are prepared to be accountable to this House.

Nothing was more remarkable in the debate last week than the levity with which the Government and their supporters were prepared to write off £36,500,000. Do they realise that sum of money would have built a new satellite town? We might call it "The Lost City of Stracheyville." Does the Minister of Food realise that that money would have housed all the homeless in the city of Bradford or the city of Leeds? Yet the Government just write this off. We cannot transfer the responsibility to the Colonial Office without knowing exactly how they will be accountable to this House.

It is a great pity that when bringing out this new company the Government did not have to float it on the Stock Exchange. Whatever may be said against the Stock Exchange, it is not a bad barometer of the worthiness of either a concern or the people who run it. Last week I heard hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent trade unions saying what a wonderful scheme this was. Why do they not put their trade union funds into the scheme without any Government guarantee? Why do they not ask the Co-op Bank to put up the £6,500,000 without a Government guarantee? What utter nonsense it is to expect us to accept the declarations of hon. Gentlemen opposite that they will run this show better than they have run the show in the past. No, Sir, we cannot accept this unless we know exactly how the new show will be run.

I should like to tell the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Minister of Food that if they had accepted accountability to Parliament for this scandal—it is a scandal, whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say about it—we should not have had to listen to the terrible story which we have heard in the last two weeks. I am not prepared to pass the Clause in its present form unless we have a pretty shrewd idea from the right hon. Gentleman of how we shall in future hear of the progress of the scheme and to what extent the House of Commons will be in a position to ask Questions about it.

Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)

I wish to add a short postscript to the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans). If he is right in stating that if this had been private enterprise it would have been the operation of a "bucket-shop," it follows that those who were responsible for it would have been up at the Old Bailey. On the other hand, we are being asked to legalise this process, and I have very great hesitation in doing so.

Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)

Well do not do so!

The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. John Dugdale)

I am very glad that the Clause has been welcomed by a large number of hon. Members, if perhaps in rather dubious terms by some of them. I would like, first, to refer for a moment to the question raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) who talked about "the scandal" in connection with the Gambia eggs scheme. I fully realise that it is not in order to discuss the scheme now, but it is only right and proper to say that it is wrong to pre-judge any scheme simply on a large number of newspaper reports.

There have been newspaper reports, but to call the scheme a scandal just because it may not have achieved quite as much success as was hoped for it, is wrong. [Laughter.] Yes, indeed; many private companies have set out with great hopes, but have not achieved the success expected of them. To call the scheme a scandal because of that and to pre-judge it is wrong. I shall not refer to it any more because, strictly speaking, I believe I am out of order, as was the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in referring to it. I am glad that hon. Members as a whole welcome the Clause. The only reason why I or my right hon. Friend did not make a welcoming speech was that we made it quite clear on Second Reading that we welcomed the Bill, including, of course, this Clause.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough was concerned about responsibility. Far be it from me to say that the Minister of Food has not discharged his responsibilities to Parliament or that they would be better discharged by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I want to read the relevant phrase in Command Paper 8125 on the future of the Overseas Food Corporation: Their operations will, therefore, be financed from the time of transference of Ministerial responsibility from moneys to be voted by Parliament subject to effective control by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in consultation with the Treasury. That will give Parliament the control that it desires. There will be a vote which will be subject to discussion by Parliament and there will be general Parliamentary control.

But it would be wrong for Parliament to have day-to-day control over the detailed business affairs of the Corporation, and these affairs will be entrusted, as, indeed, have the affairs of the Colonial Development Corporation, to men of high standing in the business world, men recognised not only on this side of the House but also on the other side as men of standing and with a knowledge of business. We shall, naturally, leave the regular day-to-day conduct of the business in their hands, but Parliament will, obviously, have responsibility and there will be accountability to Parliament in the way I have described.

Captain Crookshank

What is the value of the words "subject to effective control by the Secretary of State"? Is there any meaning in that?

Mr. Dugdale

I am sure that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would not like it to be "ineffective control by the Secretary of State." It appears to be desirable that the control should be effective.

Captain Crookshank

What is the control?

Mr. Dugdale

The control is that the money will be voted by Parliament and that the Secretary of State will have general supervision, as he does over the Colonial Development Corporation. He will not interfere with the day-to-day management of the Corporation, because it is managed by men who have been chosen for their training in business management and for their knowledge of business affairs. It would not be right or proper for him to interfere in detail, but he will exercise the same general control as is exercised over the Colonial Development Corporation.

5.30 p.m.

The hon. Members for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and Fife, East (Mr. Stewart), doubted whether any practical good had been done by the scheme. I think the hon. Member for Fife, East, raised doubts whether the Government of Tanganyika cared whether the scheme was abolished or continued.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

No. I am prepared to accept that the Government of Tanganyika would be sorry if the scheme were stopped. But I do not believe that the Government of Tanganyika would have regarded it with dismay if our proposal for an independent inquiry had been accepted.

Mr. Dugdale

That is quite a different question. It is important to make it clear, in spite of the losses which no one on this side is belittling—losses which we have said are both big and grave losses—that there are some intangible assets, such as the training which has been given to large numbers of Africans which they would not otherwise have had. I have seen some of them doing work which they would never have learnt to do had it not been for the scheme. In addition, large areas of land have been cleared which, even if they are used for ranches, are, at any rate, of some value to that part of Tanganyika. There are various assets, such as these intangible assets, that cannot be disregarded and make the scheme of the greatest importance to Tanganyika.

Mr. Gammans

When the Secretary of State talks about "effective" Parliamentary control, does he mean that we shall be in any better position to ask Parliamentary Questions about this scheme than we have been in the past, or will the position be exactly the same?

Mr. Dugdale

I think that this is largely a matter for the Chair. I cannot say what Questions can and cannot be asked, but there will be general supervision by the Secretary of State. There will be Votes, which can be discussed. I have no doubt that some Questions will be allowed and some disallowed, but far be it from me to say which. The Secretary of State will be anxious to give as much information as is reasonable to expect.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will it be any easier to ask Questions than it is in the case of the Colonial Development Corporation, because virtually no Questions can be asked about that Corporation.

Mr. Dugdale

I do not think I can say that it will be any easier or more difficult. It is largely a question for the Chair to decide. It is entirely for the Chair to decide which Questions will be accepted.

The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I understand that it has nothing to do with the Chair.

Mr. Gammans

Surely the position depends on the way in which the Government put down the estimates. If the Secretary of State is prepared to give detailed Estimates on this scheme it will be in order to ask Questions, but if we are to be asked to vote global sums and then write them off, we shall not be able to ask any more Questions than before.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

How can it be claimed that Parliamentary control had been effective in the past when it has resulted in the writing off of £36 million?

Mr. Dugdale

Whether that was due to the success or otherwise of Parliamentary supervision is another point. I do not know whether the hon. Member is suggesting that the supervision exercised by Members opposite has not been as good as it might have been—I can hardly believe that he is suggesting that. This Corporation will be subject to exactly the same amount of control as in the case of the other matters coming under the Colonial Office Vote, and in exactly the same manner as in the case of other corporations, such as the Colonial Development Corporation, for which the Government have responsibility.

The Deputy-Chairman

Before we proceed any further, perhaps I might make the position of the Chair clear on the matter. The limit is laid down by Ministers, who say how far it is their responsibility and how far the responsibility is left to the corporation.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)

It would perhaps be of most value to the Committee, in the light of your statement, Sir Charles, which certainly clarifies the situation, if I ask the Minister now, without giving up my right to make any comments later, whether we shall, in fact, get more information now that this scheme is being transferred to the Colonial Office; whether the limits on questioning will be extended now that it is passing into the hands of the Colonial Secretary?

Mr. Dugdale

I think that that is a hypothetical question. Our aim will be to give the fullest possible information. We will try to give the information because we think it is desirable that the House should know as much as possible about the working of the Corporation. We will try to give the utmost information possible. As to which Questions can or cannot be answered, that is a hypothetical question; it depends on the Question:, that are asked. But we shall try to give as much information as we can.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the rather serious point I raised regarding the attitude and future action of the Government of Tanganyika?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The Minister's answer is wholly unsatisfactory. The Committee is not in the slightest degree further forward in its search for an agreed formula. I know this matter is causing disturbance in the minds of Members on both sides of the Committee. We have had conversations with our friends on this side and personal talks with Members opposite who share our view. I am sure that it is common to both sides of the Committee. I am sure that it would commend itself to the Committee as a whole if a solution could be found. This appears to us to be a good opportunity for trying to arrive at an agreed solution.

The transfer of this scheme from one Department to another may well give an opportunity for looking once more into ministerial accountability, and, in particular, the right to ask Questions. If we get no more satisfaction today, we shall have to consider whether we cannot bring forward an Amendment on Report, or whether something cannot be introduced into the Bill in another place, which will meet what I believe is the common desire on both sides.

In regard to the general question of Clause 1 and the transference of this enterprise from the Ministry of Food to the Colonial Office, I think it is a very good thing that the case for this transfer did not entirely depend on the arguments put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. Had this been the first explanation to the country of the need for the change after the disastrous record over the last three years, I do not think anyone would have been convinced that it would be a good thing to transfer it to the Secretary of State. Mercifully, the arguments are well known both in the Committee and in the country, and we have made it quite plain for three and a half years that, psychologically and administratively, the case for transference to the Colonial Office is overwhelming. We shall give general support to this proposal and to Clause 1.

I think it would have been altogether appropriate if the right hon. Gentleman, in his remarks, had paid some tribute to the fact that the Opposition for the last three and a half years had urged that this should happen. If, in fact; the Government wanted this new scheme to be ushered in in an atmosphere of good will, it might have been politic to have conceded that the Opposition had always urged that this step should be taken. Had we had a free vote on any of the many occasions when this matter was discussed, we should certainly have carried the day for we had a good deal of support on the Socialist benches.

We urged this course even before the Overseas Food Corporation was formed, and when it was first announced that it was to be formed we opposed the Ministry of Food being in charge. When the first Colonial Development Bill was before the House we voiced our opposition, and we moved an Amendment on the Committee stage excluding the colonial territories from the Overseas Food Corporation. Undeterred by defeat and reinforced by arguments from the Socialist benches, including speeches by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) and the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan), we went forward on the Report stage to move another Amendment, which would have enabled the Government to transfer this scheme from the Ministry of Food to the Colonial Office by Order in Council, so determined were we on the proper course and so anxious that the Government should take it.

Believing in the rightness of our view, we were reinforced in our opinion by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, when he moved the Second Reading of this Bill a few days ago. On that occasion he chided the Opposition with having said what seems to be indisputable, that the groundnuts scheme was dead. He used words to the effect that we did not appear to realise what the failure of this scheme might mean to the Colonial Empire. It was precisely because we knew what the failure would mean to the Colonial Empire and what the success could have meant to that Empire, that we urged that the scheme should be under the Colonial Office.

Everything that the Secretary of State then said wholly justified our view; indeed, he could not have used more serious words about any other scheme under his own Ministerial responsibility. Yet it is only now that the scheme is being transferred to his responsibility. As the Committee will remember, the Annual Report on the Colonial Empire for the last two years contained altogether only 27 lines of print about this scheme, the failure of which as the right hon. Gentleman said, might have most harmful consequences for the Colonial Empire.

At last, and not for the first time, the Government have listened to the arguments of the Opposition and we have got what we asked for. But what are the arguments that are used to justify the changes? Surely there were never more foolish arguments put forward in this Committee for such a step. In the Second Reading debate, the Minister of Food said that the scheme would be an undertaking which must be integrated in our general plans for the development of the Colonial Empire. If it were not, it was scandalous that the largest scheme in the Colonial Empire should not have been integrated into the general development of our Colonies.

The Minister of Food said it would be quite improper for his Department to run this scheme. Why should it suddenly be improper? What has happened to the scheme inside a few days? The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme, instead of being a groundnuts scheme, had now become a groundnuts scheme and a cattle scheme. Why is it proper for the Minister of Food to run a groundnuts scheme but quite improper to run a groundnuts scheme and a cattle scheme? Are not cattle food, or is it to convey the idea that meat is not food, so the cut in the meat ration does not matter? Surely there never have been more absurd arguments advanced in this Committee. The truth is that there was always an overwhelming case for its transfer to the Colonial Office. Indeed, it ought never to have been under any other Department, but the Secretary of State for War, when Minister of Food, consistently refused to allow the transfer.

5.45 p.m.

There are far stronger arguments than the Minister stated. These arguments we have deployed in the House for the last three and a half years and they tell of the disastrous consequences of another Government Department being engaged in competitive undertakings in the British Colonial Empire. We are delighted that that is no longer going to be possible. We hoped that the Minister of State would have given some explanation as to how the situation would improve. What difference will it make to running the scheme; what difference is it going to make to the lives of the Africans; and what difference is it going to make to Parliamentary responsibility and ministerial accountability? We have had no worthwhile information, nor have we been told what the relations are going to be between the Colonial Development Corporation and the Overseas Food Corporation, now that the scheem is being transferred to the right hon. Gentleman's Department. It may well be that the Colonial Development Corporation will have a slightly lesser responsibility to the Colonial Office, and the Overseas Food Corporation will now have an advantage in the future. If that is so it will be very serious for a number of schemes, in Which the Colonial Development Corporation are engaged.

Surely, when a Clause of this kind is commended to the Committee, the Minister of State should have spent a moment or two dealing with important issues of that kind, but I suppose he expected this Clause to go through without any discussion, because he knows that it represents much of what the Opposition asked for in the last three and a half years. What the Opposition have asked for, for over three years, must be right, as the Committee now know and the country now realises.

Mr. Rankin

When the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), wound up for the Opposition last week, he gently chided me on the ground that I had opposed the idea of placing this scheme under the Ministry of Food and had advocated from a very early stage that it should be under the care of the Colonial Office. He said that I did not carry my criticism to what he regards as the logical conclusion, of going into the Division Lobby against the Government. I do not regard that as being the logical conclusion because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we have less extreme ways of bringing our point of view to bear upon our right hon. Friends on the Front Bench, and these have not been disregarded.

The views which I expressed were not exclusive to myself, because I do not think it is disclosing any secret to say that there were many of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) who had similar views. Those views have now prevailed, with the assistance of hon. Members on the other side of the Committee, and we should congratulate the Government on coming round to our way of thinking.

From time to time in our various debates on the work of the Corporation, I have said that there was one individual who did not receive sufficient attention, at least so far as our debates were concerned. We thought of these schemes much in the light of what they were going to mean to us in this country, and that of course was a right attitude so far as we are concerned; but I have asked on many occasions what these schemes will mean to the African. This is very important indeed. On one occa- sion I contrasted the position in West Africa with the position in East Africa. By carrying out in West Africa the policy which we have followed at home for our own farmers, we got almost as many groundnuts as we needed. I felt that had we regarded the East African less as a labourer in a mechanical project and more as a farmer, greater success might have attended our efforts.

That leads me to the point which I wish to put to my right hon. Friend. Smaller units are now to be created in East Africa. These units, I understand from the White Paper, are to be managed by individuals selected by the Corporation.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is going beyond the scope of the Clause and is now discussing administrative details.

Mr. Rankin

I am sorry, Sir Charles. I am under a slight difficulty and was hoping that you might look upon me with a kindly eye, as I did not manage to get in on Second Reading.

The Deputy-Chairman

I am afraid that that is no reason why the hon. Member should make his Second Reading speech now.

Mr. Rankin

I recognise your kindly hand, Sir Charles, and perhaps at a later stage I may be able to point out that we want to emphasise the position which the African ought to have in the operation of these schemes. That will, I think, command general agreement on all sides.

I should like my right hon. Friend to give a little more guidance on the matter of Questions. This afternoon in the House, as hon. Members know, I had the experience of discovering that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was perfectly prepared to support the policy about which I was raising a Question. I had handed to the Table a Question in a particular form, in which I gave the details with which my right hon. Friend said that I should supply him on a further Question. My first Question, however, was ruled out of order by the Table, and of course—

The Deputy-Chairman

I cannot allow the hon. Member to criticise the Table. I will give again the Ruling, which is perfectly clear, about how far Questions can go: the limitation is laid down by Ministers, who say how far it is their responsibility and how far the responsibility of the Corporation. I cannot allow the subject to be discussed further.

Mr. Rankin

I am not seeking in any way to criticise the Table; I was merely relating the factual situation. My right hon. Friend seemed to indicate by his reply to my supplementary question that he accepted the content of the Question which had been previously rejected. It places us, in all parts of the House, in a very difficult situation when we find that the Minister is prepared to accept a Question which the proper authorities in the House evidently regard as a Question that is not within the province of the Minister.

The Deputy-Chairman

I have said that I cannot allow this matter to be discussed. I have made it perfectly clear that the responsibility is with the Minister. I cannot allow this matter to be discussed any further.

Mr. Rankin

I am very sorry to find myself in conflict with the Chair, but I am not seeking to discuss the rights or wrongs of the matter. What I am seeking is a more accurate indication from the Minister of the type of Question which it would be permissible to get past the Table. My position is that I always say to the Table, "Will you frame the Question so that I can get it past you?" I am given great help in that way. It would be of assistance if the Minister would give a closer definition of this problem which faces all of us when we seek to put down Questions.

Mr. Dugdale

Perhaps I may intervene for a moment on the matter of Questions and of responsibility generally. I have already tried to make it clear that this matter will be subject to an annual Vote in Parliament. The Secretary of State would therefore be answerable to the House, and any Questions concerning the Corporation could naturally be raised in that connection. If hon. Members think it desirable, we will go into the matter before the Report stage to see whether it is possible in any way for the scope of Questions or of discussion to be widened. I cannot at present say more than that. We will go into the matter and see what can be done, and I hope that the Committee will accept this assurance. We are anxious to answer all the Questions, as we wish the House to have all the information which it can get.

Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)

There is one point on which I should like to have an assurance from the Minister. So far as I can see, in the original Act there is no compulsion on the Corporation to produce an annual report; they have, of course, to produce accounts, but not an annual report. It is purely fortuitous and owing to the failure of the Corporation, and because of the calamities which have beset them, that we have had reports on several occasions. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the situation will be the same as before, and we on this side, at any rate, would at least expect that it would be no worse than before in the matter of Ministerial accountability to the House. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that on page 11 of the White Paper, the Report of the Overseas Food Corporation says that: Annual reports and budgets, prepared after a detailed appraisal of the progress of the Scheme from year to year, would of course be submitted. That is to say, they would be submitted if the Corporation were allowed to carry on. It does not, however, follow that the Ministry would necessarily publish those reports and lay them before the House. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider this point and, if necessary, to introduce words into the Bill at a later stage to make it quite clear that a report must be laid before the House as has been done annually so far.

Mr. Dugdale

May I intervene to make it clear that just as it has been done in the past, so it will be done in the future, and an annual report will be made public and submitted to Parliament?

Mr. Alport (Colchester)

I can fully understand the somewhat diffident tones in which the Minister of State commented on this part of the debate. After all, the Secretary of State and the Colonial Office are taking over what one of the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman once referred to in a different context as a "pretty poor bag of assets." I feel that we can take courage that those who handled this affair before it came under the control of his Department, in spite of their failure, have not been treated with the inhumanity which was meted out to similar failures in years gone by. After all, this is probably the biggest failure in public enterprise since the South Sea Company. On that occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer was expelled from the House, one of the principal Ministers connected with it committed suicide, and the directors were forced to produce for the benefit of the shareholders as much money as could be raised from their private estates.

6.0 p.m.

But in these more humane times, even though this new scheme should fail under the Colonial Office, the right hon. Gentleman can expect, no doubt, the same treatment as has been meted out to his predecessors whereby, in contradistinction to the treatment of the eighteenth century, the Minister concerned has been elevated in office instead of being expelled from the House; none of his principal colleagues seem to show any signs of committing felo de se, and somebody who was mainly concerned with it, like Sir Leslie Plummer, receives a reward for his efforts instead of being made to part with his estates as in the case of the directors of that Company.

What seems to me so strange is that the Minister of State has allowed his diffidence to prevent him from giving us any indication in supplementation of the statement made in the Second Reading debate by the Secretary of State as to how the Colonial Office intend to approach their new responsibilities. Will they tackle this new problem in the light of a commercial undertaking run on the lines of a good employer, but with the object of making it a commercial success, or are they going to regard it merely as a new offshoot of the programme of colonial development?

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will realise that a decision as between those two types of policy will lead to very different types of administration of the scheme for the future. While I fully agree with the principle that the Colonial Office is far better equipped to deal with a colonial development project, I do not agree that the Colonial Office is equipped to deal with, and make a success of, a commercial project. What I should like to know, if it is possible, is which of those two lines of policy the Secretary of State intends to follow.

I can quite see that if it is decided to run this new Scheme on a normal commercial basis, there is likely to be grave conflict between the possibility of making that Scheme a success and following the main lines of colonial policy as introduced by the Government during these last six years. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman may be informed by his commercial advisers that the only way in which to make the railway in the Southern Province pay—and indeed possibly to make the rump of the Kongwa experiment pay—would be to extend white settlement in those areas. In that case, would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to accept the advice of those who speak to him, not on the lines of political policy, but on the lines of commercial policy? And if he would not do so, would he then come to this House and say once again that this Scheme has not proved a success and he has therefore to ask us either for some more money or, alternatively, to agree to its final winding up?

This is not the first time we have had experience of great public projects of this sort introduced for one specific purpose which, after a period of time, have had to change their objectives entirely. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of a fact with which I am sure the is familiar, that the reason why the present Kenya—Uganda railway was built was not economic but purely humanitarian, in fulfilment of our obligations under the Brussels Treaty in order to put an end to the slave trade. But it became quite clear within a short time that unless it was possible to make that railway pay, the burden on the British taxpayer, and more particularly on the Protectorates themselves, was far too heavy to be borne. Therefore, some means had to be found of ensuring that the railway became a commercial proposition. The right hon. Gentleman will also remember that the reason the white settlers were encouraged to go to the highlands of Kenya in the early days was to ensure that that railway should become a commercial proposition as quickly as possible—and it did so within 10 years.

If I understand the policy of the Colonial Office at the present time, they would be unalterably opposed to any such development and, therefore, would immediately find themselves in conflict between the commercial economic lines of policy on the one hand and the political—I shall not argue the merits of it—social lines of policy on the other. I do not think that the Secretary of State has the right to come to this Committee and accept the responsibility which this Clause gives to him without having given some indication to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of how he would tackle this conflict of policies which, in my view, is likely to appear and without having given a somewhat broader statement of the way in which he proposes to carry out an experiment in which, the White Paper acknowledges, he is able to envisage only the next stage, and is unable to see any of the stages which those of us who are interested in colonial development hope will run far beyond that, into the horizon of the future.

Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)

Nobody imagines that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will have an easy job if he is to carry out even the modest terms of this new Bill. Nevertheless, if there is one Clause which all hon. Members of the Committee will accept, it is this Clause which will transfer the responsibility for the Overseas Food Corporation from the Ministry of Food to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to try to keep the House of Commons in touch with the progress and development of this new and modified scheme. I understand from the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) that annual reports from the Overseas Food Corporation will be presented to the House for consideration. when we shall have a debate, and when the right hon. Gentleman will undoubtedly give us the latest information in his possession but it is rather a long time to wait until the end of a whole operational year before the right hon. Gentleman can tell the House how these changes are working out and whether they are effective or otherwise.

I quite appreciate the difficulties with regard to Question and answer in the House to which you, Sir Charles, have referred. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman could find some way of keeping the House of Commons—all parties, all sides of the House—in touch with the progress of this new scheme. One year is a little too long to wait and I should like the right hon. Gentleman seriously to consider whether an interim report could be made by the Department.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I hope I can help the Committee. One of the big changes that we are making in the future working of the Corporation is that the Secretary of State is to be made responsible for the presentation of Estimates for the Corporation in the House of Commons each year. Those Estimates can be tabled and discussed and the Secretary of State can be asked Questions about them. The House, if it so wishes, can refuse to give the Votes. Each year that will take place and, in addition, there will be the annual report.

There is the question of what Questions are or are not admissible week by week on the Scheme under these new conditions. I am not an expert, but I imagine that to some extent, if not to a large extent, that will be governed by the fact that this Scheme is serviced by annual Votes, and that this will have an effect on what Questions will or will not be admissible. That is a matter which my right hon. Friend has promised to look into between now and the Report stage. It is our desire that the House shall be kept regularly informed of the Scheme by Question and answer. I think all we can say at the moment is that we will look at the matter again and make a statement on the Report stage. Obviously the matter will be governed by the fact that the new Scheme will be serviced by an annual Vote.

Mr. Granville

In the case of civil aviation although there is a report of the Overseas Airways Corporation which is given annually, we have many debates on policy and Ministers are always available to give the latest information. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this procedure is liquidating an enormous Scheme and authorising the further expenditure of £7,500,000, and it is a long time to have to wait for the annual report.

Mr. Griffiths

This Bill does not authorise the expenditure of £7,500,000 in one lump sum. The figure of £6 million is an estimate. The House will authorise only the Estimates which the Secretary of State puts before it each year, and therefore there will be no cheque, blank or otherwise, of £x million. The House will have the Estimates before it. They can be accepted or rejected and in the succeeding 12 months the House will authorise Estimates that are put forward. Supplementary Estimates will have to come before the House in the same way. I ask the hon. Member to realise that in this Bill we are not making provision by which the House will be asked to vote £x million to the Corporation.

Dr. Morgan (Warrington)


The Deputy-Chairman

Surely we can come to a decision on the matter?

Dr. Morgan

I am always having to wait.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.


Captain Crookshank

The Amendment standing in my name and the name of my hon. Friends, in page 2, line 17, after "shall" to insert subject to the provisions of this section. leads up to subsequent Amendments and I should like to have your guidance, Sir Charles. I take it that if this Amendment were, negatived, it would still be competent to discuss the other Amendments, in line 38, at the end, to add: (5) If it appears to the Secretary of State to be in the general interest that all or any of the functions of the Overseas Food Corporation should be discharged by any other person, undertaking or authority, and that such person, undertaking or authority is ready and willing to discharge such functions, the Secretary of State may make regulations for the transfer of such functions and for the transfer (whether by sale or otherwise) of the assets, property, rights and liabilities of the Overseas Food Corporation or part thereof to such person, undertaking or authority and in such manner and to such extent as may be prescribed. and, in line 38, at the end, to add: (5) After the transfer or other disposal of all the assets, property, rights and liabilities of the Overseas Food Corporation in accordance with the provision of this section the Corporation shall on a date to be prescribed by the Secretary of State, cease to exist. There are various different provisions that we would seek to have inserted, and I should like to know what the situation is.

The Deputy-Chairman

I was under the impression that this Amendment would be considered with the proposed Amendments to line 38 and, after discussion of this Amendment, the others would either fall, if this Amendment were negatived, or would be taken as consequential Amendments.

Captain Crookshank

It is quite true that without this Amendment there are no limits set in the Bill. We want to put in certain limits and from the fact that the provisions have been drafted as two subsections they are put down separately. We thought it would be more convenient to the Committee if we discussed specifically the Amendment dealing with the possibility of changing the functions of the Corporation and the other Amendment dealing with the rights and assets. This Amendment we thought necessary in order to lead up to the other Amendments. I am in your hands; it may be that it is not necessary to put in these words.

The Deputy-Chairman

Perhaps it would be better if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not move this Amendment now. Then, if the other Amendments are accepted, probably it could be put right on Report stage.

6.15 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

That would suit me admirably. We only put down this Amendment out of fear that the other Amendments might be ruled out of order, if these words were not here. But in view of what you have said—that you are prepared to call the other Amendments separately—I see no point in discussing these words at all. They were only a little signal that we want to be in order.

Mr. J. Griffiths

As I understand this Amendment, the words, subject to the provisions of this section. are sought to be inserted to refer to the proposed Amendments to line 38. If, therefore, those Amendments are not accepted, but are defeated, there will be no purpose in inserting these words—

Captain Crookshank

None at all.

Mr. Griffiths

I think, therefore, if it is your Ruling now, Sir Charles, that we take the other Amendments, which are the provisions which this Amendment would seek to put in, that does not in any way bind any of us on this first Amendment.

The Deputy-Chairman

I was not making a Ruling; I was making a suggestion for the convenience of the Committee. It seems to me that if we let this go now, what will be necessary if the other two Amendments are accepted will be to put in a similar Amendment to the proposed Amendment to line 17 on Report stage.

Mr. Griffiths

The right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) ought, then, to withdraw this Amendment and, if any of the other provisions are accepted, the adjustment could be made on Report stage.

The Deputy-Chairman

This Amendment has not been moved yet.

Captain Crookshank

No, I was asking for guidance. On the assurance that the other Amendments are to be called, I will not move this Amendment because it would subsequently be a consequential Amendment to the other Amendments. If they were carried, we could have the main debate and we would be better able to concentrate on the matter.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, to leave out "and Central."

The Committee will remember that in section 3 (1, b) of the parent Act, the Overseas Resources Development Act, 1948, there are the words—I abbreviate them somewhat: as the first project to be carried out by them, the Corporations securing the large-scale production of groundnuts…in colonial territories in East and Central Africa, and the marketing thereof. In the present Bill, in Clause (2, 1), the phrase is left: in colonial territories in East and Central Africa. There does not appear to us to be any reason for leaving in the word "Central" and its inclusion may lead to misunderstanding, not only generally and in the territories concerned, but also, for example, in the Colonial Development Corporation, who may well have important duties in Central Africa. We are led to this conclusion because in paragraph 40 of the Government's White Paper we read: The Corporation do not contemplate embarking on any other schemes in East Africa or elsewhere. Obviously we could not leave out the word "East" in "East and Central Africa" because we know that they intend to carry on a modified form of the existing Scheme in East Africa; but as they say expressly that they do not contemplate embarking on any other schemes in East Africa or elsewhere, there seems no reason to leave in the word "Central."

Mr. Rankin

I wish briefly to ask a question about the inclusion of the words "Central Africa." We have been largely concerned with the Tanganyika Scheme, and to my mind at least that is the only scheme envisaged. I take it that the reference to East Africa covers that, and that the inclusion of Central Africa envisages an extension to Nyasaland. I am not opposing the retention of the words "Central Africa," nor am I necessarily supporting the idea of excluding them, but I want further information because I understand that the Government of Tanganyika will be represented on the Corporation. If under this Clause Nyasaland is to come into the Scheme—if Central Africa is to be concerned in it—I take it that that will include Nyasaland—or perhaps Northern Rhodesia—what is the argument against having a representative of the Nyasaland Government on the Corporation if there is to be a representative of the Tanganyika Government?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

As I have previously told the Committee, I have interests in Central Africa. There is a great deal of work to be done there, particularly in developing communications. In view of the history of this Corporation, I do not regard it as at all a good thing to have them taking further action in Central Africa. There is already the Colonial Development Corporation, which has schemes in Rhodesia as well as in Nyasaland. It is taking certain action in regard to a matter raised by an hon. Member's Question today, a matter which I have been trying to raise for a year—monopoly practices to prevent co-operatives from developing their work there.

I consider that there is already sufficient activity there on the part of the Colonial Development Corporation and the Colonial Development Welfare Fund, and in view of the point contained in paragraph 40 of the White Paper, which says that the Overseas Food Corporation are not to extend further their activities, to which my hon. Friend has referred, it would seem that any confusion there might be would be completely removed if the words "and Central" were left out of the Bill.

Mr. Alport

This seems to be another indication of the lack of clarity of the new sponsors of the Overseas Food Corporation about the future activities of that Corporation. There is something to be said for an eventual linking up of communications between the Southern Province of Tanganyika and Nyasaland and possibly Northern Rhodesia. But I feel that the Committee should know whether such a venture is in the minds of those who are sponsoring this Bill, and whether the Bill was drafted with that object in view.

We are told that this is a limited Bill, that the horizon of what is envisaged extends to seven years, that the activities of the Corporation are to take place only in Tanganyika. Yet there is this curious addition of "Central Africa," which draws within the Bill's scope three enormous and important territories the characteristics of which are very different from those of Tanganyika. I hope that when the Minister replies he will set our minds at rest as to which way this particular provision of the Bill should be interpreted. Whether the right hon. Gentleman agrees or not that the words "and Central" should be left out, will he also state whether they were included for any particular reason?

Mr. J. Griffiths

I say at once that they are not included for any sinister reason, as seemed to be suggested by the hon. Member. In this Bill we have to define the area in which the new Corporation shall operate, because in the Act which we are amending the Overseas Food Corporation was permitted to operate anywhere outside the United Kingdom. In this Bill we are limiting it to East and Central Africa. As has already been made clear in the White Paper to which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) has referred, the only scheme at present in contemplation or thought of is that embodied in the White Paper—the Scheme in Tanganyika.

We shall know as we go along from year to year if the new Scheme is a success, and if at the end of the seven years, which I think everyone agrees is essential in order to try out a scheme which depends upon agricultural rotation—every expert with whom I have discussed this matter agrees that that is essential—we know it is a success, it might be possible and advantageous for some offshoot of the Scheme to be established in Central Africa. Therefore, it was thought that if we said in this Bill "East and Central Africa" it would mean that if it was found desirable to extend the operation of the Corporation to Central Africa, that could be done without another amending Bill.

At the same time I should make it perfectly plain that that cannot be done without the consent of Parliament first being obtained because the safeguard which Parliament has is that every year there has to be a Vote; Estimates have to be presented, and if at any time it was proposed that there should be such an extension of operations to Central Africa, an amount of money would have to be provided for that. So although the Bill would at any time in the future enable the Corporation to extend its activities to Central Africa, that could not be done without the specific consent of Parliament and the granting of a specific Vote. The Colonial Development Corporation will be kept in close touch with what is being done, and they will also be consulted.

That is the reason we included Central Africa—to enable the Corporation at some time in the future to extend its activities to Central Africa; but that does not give it a carte blanche. It will be able to extend only if it presents its scheme, gives full particulars, and the House approves of it. Having regard to that safeguard, I ask the House to accept this provision.

I say that at present we have in contemplation only East Africa, but if there is to be any long discussion or any suspicion of sinister motives, I will undertake to consider this point between now and the Report stage. All that we thought was that there might be a possibility of an offshoot in Central Africa, and that if these words were included in the Bill that possibility would be covered, with the Parliamentary safeguard I have indicated.

Captain Crookshank

If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared, in the light of the discussion, to have a look at the point whether these words might be better left out of the Bill, and will let us know on Report stage what is the result of his consideration, I do not think we need worry the Committee further today on this point.

Mr. Griffiths

I have given that assurance.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.30 p.m.

Sir R. Acland

I beg to move, in page 2, line 22, at the end, to insert: and of making experiments in the co-operative social organisation of communities of African producers. If these words were inserted in the Bill the effect of subsection (2) would be that the Corporation would be charged with the duties already contained in that subsection, and also with the duty of making experiments in the co-operative social organisation of communities of African producers. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe), referring to Clause 1, mentioned the importance, in all of this work, of having the welfare of the African people constantly in mind. I feel very strongly, and I hope that the hon. Member will agree, that the welfare of the African people is not only a question of putting up such things as schools, hospitals, and so on, for African wage earners, but is also a question of considering whether wage earning is really the most suitable form of social organisation for promoting the welfare of African people.

In all our recent discussions on this Bill it has seemed to me almost to be taken for granted that the answer to that question is in the affirmative. All the way through we have talked about dividing up the area into farms of different sizes; sometimes 1,500 acres, sometimes 3,000 acres and sometimes 4,000 acres, each under a manager. One is left to assume that the manager in all cases will be a European and it seems to me always to be assumed that the Africans in the scheme are to be his wage earners, and under his orders.

I certainly would not object to a large number of these different farms being cooperative on that pattern, to see how it goes. We would then be able to secure investigation on all sorts of things, such as what crops can best be produced, what areas of the country can be best managed co-operatively, the combating of soil erosion, what process is best suited to the ground, the getting of the products on to the market in the best possible condition, and what marketing arrangements would be most efficient. All those matters could be investigated under a manager employing African wage earners.

But in the speeches in support of the Bill I have not heard the smallest indication of the need for making investigation and experiments into something which is a little more profound than that, namely, into the question of what is the form of social organisation in agriculture best fitted to the genius of the African people. The very fact that this question has not been raised until this stage does pin-point what is, to my mind, the fundamental error in the whole of the project since its very inception. I am greatly surprised that the Conservative Opposition, which for three-and-a-half years has been chasing, pursuing and harrying this Scheme, has not at any time, so far as I am aware, put its finger on what would describe as the basic error—

Mr. Lennox-Boyd


Sir R. Acland

The hon. Gentleman should wait until he has heard what, in my view, is the basic error. I have never heard the Conservative Party say in loud, clear tones, "It is wrong to go into Africa and see how you can use African acres and African workers to produce food for British larders." I have never heard the Conservative Party pinpoint that as the basic error.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I do not know whether the Conservative Party said it in loud tones, but we certainly have repeatedly said, in clear tones, that this scheme did not encourage peasant proprietorship in Tanganyika. It was precisely because we feared that this Scheme would prejudice mechanised farming in the eyes of Africans, and hold up the increase of the co-operative use of machinery for peasant proprietors, that we have made that criticism from the very beginning.

Sir R. Acland

I think that hon. Members opposite were coming very near to the light; but I do not think they have quite come to the point of telling the Government that it was a wrong conception to go into Africa, taking money and machines in order to use African acres and African workers to produce food for British larders; and that the right way of going about it would be to see that European technique and machinery should be used to improve the social well-being of African people. If that had been done I feel sure that this question of the social organisation of communities of producers would have received their earnest attention long before now.

The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), speaking on Clause 1. commented that on the Gezira scheme the Committee has perhaps listened to him ad nauseam about that desirable scheme. I certainly have heard him speak about it once or twice before, but never with any degree of nausea. I have always been delighted to hear him and I hope that we shall hear him on the subject of the Gezira scheme many times in the future. I do not know whether the same thing might be said of myself in relation to the smaller scheme at Mokwa, but there is a bond of interest between the two schemes, in that those in charge of the smaller scheme at Mokwa went to Gezira to see what was happening there before they launched their scheme.

So far as the smaller scheme is concerned, it is one by no means co-operative but with a European manager, with paid wage earners under him. I gather that in the Gezira Scheme in the Sudan co-operative peasant proprietorship forms a very large part of the whole pattern of that scheme. Therefore, my reason for moving this Amendment is to make sure that the Government, either by accepting the Amendment or by indicating that they will, between now and the Report stage, consider a corresponding Amendment of their own; or—and I do not exclude this—by giving assurances of what is to be the Government practice, even without the need of an Amendment at all, will make it clear that this pattern of a manager with his wage earners is not to be the only or, indeed, the major pattern when this corporation gets to work to secure the investigation of everything possible.

I hope that we shall see in some of these different units, varying from 1,500 acres to 4,000 acres, the building of African villages, the bringing in of African settlers and work on co-operative village council lines; sometimes with the whole of them employed co-operatively on the whole of the land and at other times each one given his own patch of 30, 40 or maybe 50 acres which he can organise with the assistance of tractors owned and serviced by the whole community.

I hope that we shall be told that experiments of that kind will be pushed forward. Then, though it was found that the whole of this land for some reason —it may be on account of something in the soil or failure of the rainfall—was unsuitable for permanent cultivation. yet, because of the knowledge gained about the best forms of social organisation for African communities, the work done on this Scheme will be of immense value to us throughout the whole of the rest of the century.

Mr. Frederic Harris

While I am sure that the words in this Amendment have been suggested with a very sound motive, I sincerely hope that the Committee will not accept them, because they get away entirely from the principle behind the Scheme in this second effort by the Government to make an immediate success of what they want to do. Many of us have some doubts, I think reasonably, about what will happen; but if there is any suggestion of by-passing the immediate objective of making a success of the Scheme and deviating to a large degree with other expenditure at the expense of the people of this country, who have already spent so much, I suggest that would not be wise.

Socialists as a whole always have this extraordinary idea that the British people, or the Europeans, are not entitled to be in East Africa and that when they go out there they go always on the basis of exploitation. Some believe that the African is not looked after properly. That is utter rubbish. In connection with my activities there, I have had brick houses built in East Africa which the Africans will not use. We cannot rush this procedure. The Africans will be far more contented if they get proper wages on a proper basis which will gradually improve their standard of life than if we try to rush forward with this idea which, unfortunately, some Socialists always try to put across. That idea just does not work.

Those who take a serious interest in the workers in East Africa recognise that the words suggested—I am sure quite sincerely—would bring no real benefit whatever if an attempt were made to put them into practice in this second effort by the Government. I am convinced that the answer to this problem is to be found in a continuation of the tremendous amount of welfare and other work which is already being done by the various Governments in East Africa, and the gradual raising of the standards by providing better wage levels. The hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) appeared to think that increases in wages were not really the main answer in the improvement of the lot of the African. I strongly disagree with him. One can do much harm to the African by trying to rush this procedure instead of trying to take things steadily by gradually increasing wages.

Sir R. Acland

To provide assistance with new techniques to a peasant living a peasant's way of life rushes him very much less than if he is suddenly transformed from a peasant into a wage earner. He is rushed much more if he is switched into a wage earner than if he is helped with new techniques.

Mr. Harris

The hon. Member talks about rushing a peasant into becoming a wage earner. Nearly every African is a wage earner in some form or another, whether he draws his wages in money or in kind. I have studied this problem in considerable detail. I am sure that the gradual procedure which has been followed for many years in East Africa in an effort to improve the lot of the native is the best way. One of the objections which I have to this Scheme is that the Government, without any consideration or understanding of that factor, rushed into East Africa and poured out plenty of money which, in many respects, got into the wrong hands and, as a result, they have unsettled a large number of African natives, particularly in Tanganyika. That unsettlement will cause trouble in the years to come. The consequences of the manner in which Africans have been employed in the Tanganyika Scheme could be very serious. That is the madness of the East African schemes as a whole.

6.45 p.m.

The best way to tackle this problem is by bringing up the standards of the nation gradually, as the local administration are doing at present, with grand efforts in social welfare work. I think that the hon. Member for Gravesend must admit that. The best way is to take these steps steadily and soundly without giving a false impression to the natives. They must understand that they have to work and to look after themselves as far as possible. They cannot expect that the Europeans, or the British, will constantly be able to pay out money to help them. I am sure that the Africans who understand these problems would be the first to admit that the presence of British people in East Africa has meant great progress to them. The British have set examples and shown the native how to do things. The native is gradually improving his position and he has adopted in his own reserve many of the ideas of the British.

I have tried to form a partnership in the past with Africans in the style of limited companies, one of which was at the Karatina factory. One could speak for a long time when explaining the problems which would arise if we were to accept this Amendment and try to carry out the suggestion behind it in this Scheme. It is the task of the Government, if they go forward with this second leap in the dark, to concentrate on getting on with the Scheme and making it pay. They should not deviate at all from that idea or introduce other motives. Let us be a little bit more sound. Do not let us have these airy thoughts and general ideas which Socialists will always put across, either in this country or abroad, that in some way or other everybody can be looked after without doing any work. Let us try to avoid this kind of nonsense.

The Chairman

I should like to point out to the Committee that we cannot have any discussion on general social organisation. The discussion must be related to the Amendment and to the question of the development of overseas resources: otherwise, one can see that the discussion may take all night.

Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)

I support the Amendment, because whatever may have happened in the past, this amended Scheme will be a success, though I am not too happy about the method of organisation. Paragraph 11 of the White Paper says that this Scheme will be formed in units varying from 1,500 to 6,000 acres and that there will be intensive supervision by men who can gain an intimate knowledge of the land which they farm. I am a little nervous in case, later, these men are given help and allowed to own these areas. With all deference to the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Frederic Harris), I should hate to see this area become another Kenya paradise. I must add that I fully recognise what has been done in Kenya. I admit all that, but I wish to plead here the case of the black Africans themselves.

What is the purpose of this Scheme? It has, I think, two aims in view. One is to increase food supplies and over-all production in Tanganyika. The other—and this is most important—is to raise the standard of living of the African people. Although I sit on the Socialist benches I hope that I am at least as sensible as some of the business men who sit opposite. I have heard a lot about the million tons of peanuts which have come out of land in West Africa under peasant cultivation. I recognise that that is an achievement. I have listened to the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) who has delighted me with such phrases, today or in the past, as "the marriage between mechanization and peasant proprietorship." I think those are wonderful words, and I support this Amendment, because I wish to give to the black Africans more responsibility and more incentive in their lives. I am opposed to any future prospect of the blacks becoming, in a permanent future, either skilled or unskilled workers or wage earners under the Overseas Food Corporation.

Earlier, the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) talked about a particular scheme of organisation to suit the native genius of the African people. I do not think we need to go as far as Tanganyika; we can see the Chaggas who, in their great coffee scheme, are working on a co-operative experiment. In fact, they have gone beyond working their own estates, and even this year they have sent at least two officials to the third co-operative conference at Stanford Hall, and they are really getting on with the job. For 25 years they have been doing this, while we in this country talk about the battle of ideas and how we shall need to lead or guide the native peoples to the Western way of life. For 25 years, the Chaggas have been having this democratic experience by means of their cooperative organisation.

It is not a matter of getting a maximum of food from a given geographical area. There are these other social and political experiences to be derived through co-operative organisation. I would say that, in the past, we have too often seen the black peoples as serfs of large capitalist combines in Africa. Today, we are instituting, not a capitalist combine, but a publicly-owned combine on a very large scale indeed. On these benches we like to think that our methods and even our kind of organisation are superior to those of the capitalist combines. We give the African workers better wages than they ever received in the past, but I think we might look beyond this old relationship of employer and worker or payer and payee, and find a co-operative form of organisation. We have heard some mention of Ghezira, which is an excellent scheme, and I am not going to say anything about that, because the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), knows much more about it than I do. The more the hon. Member talks about it, the better I like it and the more I learn.

If we insert this Amendment in the Bill, I think we shall be able to look ahead to a time in the not-too-distant future when these people in East Africa may become self-reliant and independent, and as producers able to govern and organise their own affairs. In that future, we shall be able honestly, sincerely and with full confidence to look upon the partnership of black and white in tropical Africa.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

If I may, I would like to say a word or two in support of the Amendment, though whether this is the right Bill in which to make it I am not able to say, as I am not sufficiently in touch with these questions of colonial development. I find myself in substantial agreement with everything that has been said by hon. Members opposite. If I may say so without offence to the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), who has been taking particular interest in these affairs over the last year or so, since he went to Mokwa, if he had looked at the record of the proceedings on the original Bill, upstairs, he would have found that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. W. Fletcher), made this point time and time again.

So far as the hon. Baronet's side of the Committee is concerned, his hon. Friend the Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin), also said that we should look more to the peasant producer and try to help him to produce more. Of course, in West Africa, I think I am right in saying that, under the late Mr. Oliver Stanley when he was Colonial Secretary, great progress was made in mechanisation and in the encouragement of the local peasant producers to raise their production of groundnuts.

To come nearer to the immediate point of the producer co-operatives, I think everybody regards this Scheme as being one of the greatest contributions that can be made to the development of underdeveloped territories. It is not only a question of the Gezira scheme, from which there are very interesting lessons to be learned, but into which there is not, unfortunately, time to go. It is also a question of the marriage of mechanisation and the individual producers in what may be described as gigantic producer co-operatives. It is in the smaller co-operatives, such as we find in Ceylon, however, that these efforts have been most successful. Another instance is found in the Nile Valley where, to take the place of the water wheels around which camels used to go, pumps have now been installed, with very great benefit to the people as well as to the camels.

I would like to underline what other hon. Members have said that the basis of the owner-ocupier, the peasant producer, is one of the most important considerations in any scheme for development. Equally, it is not just a matter of certain people having been provided, luckily, with a darker pigmentation of the skin to make it easier for them to work in the mid-day sun. A large number of others will find very great benefit from such organisations, and, if any hon. Member is interested, I would simply point out to him that the Flue-cured Tobacco Association of Ontario has one of the most successful co-operative marketing schemes that I know of anywhere.

I support what the hon. Baronet has said, and, if this is not the place to do it, perhaps somewhere or other, use may be made by the Corporation of this suggestion in order to see whether a comparatively small outlay may not produce a very large return.

Mr. Rankin

There can be no more fitting instrument for saving the soul of the Tory Party than the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), who has always shown a very progressive attitude on colonial affairs. Now that the Opposition are joining with us in supporting this Amendment, I hope that the unusual alliance will have a sufficiently impressive weight with the Minister to induce him, even if, at the moment, he cannot accept it, at least to go into the matter and perhaps give us a very favourable statement on the Report stage.

I do not think there is a sound argument against it. All that we are asking is the making of experiments in the cooperative social organisation of communities of African producers. The experiment is to be a continuing one, and, if it is to be successful, we have to carry the Africans with us. If we have to do that, we have to get trained men. That is absolutely essential. It is no use giving the African the idea that, in the operation of this scheme, he is going to be under a white boss, and I am certain that that is not in the mind of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. He has to have the sense of ownership, and the knowledge that he, too, may be able to become an owner of one of these units. If he is to achieve that goal, then we must give him the necessary education.

I suggest, therefore, that it is part and parcel of our work to use a fraction of the proceeds of production to provide that social and co-operative frame of organisation suggested in the Amendment. I hope that as both sides of the Committee are taking this sensible atti- tude towards a modest Amendment my right hon. Friend will give it his earnest consideration.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It is very interesting to hear the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) make such a powerful plea for the individual ownership of land in Africa, and when he said that he hoped that the African peasant would become the owner of his own unit, no one could have been more pleased than I was.

Mr. Rankin

I think the hon. Gentleman is putting a wrong interpretation on what I said. We are dealing here, as he knows perfectly well, not with individual but with co-operative ownership.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Even that is a stage further. As the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) would have said, that is on the verge of the light, if not the light itself.

We support the ownership of land in Africa, and, curious as it may seem, we support the ownership of land in England as well. Were it not that I should be out of order in doing so, I could make more than a passing reference to the recent withdrawal of a poster about land ownership being an incentive for buying war savings certificates. That poster was withdrawn by the Government because land ownership is not the policy of the Socialist Party. We were glad to hear that plea for peasant proprietorship in Africa, and I think I speak for the whole Conservative Party when I say that we are glad that the hon. Member for Gravesend has moved this Amendment. I do not say that either the words of the Amendment or their inclusion in this Bill are necessarily—

Mr. Rankin

The hon. Gentleman has a rival.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Well, at least we are a free and independent party, and in that, also, the Government have a good deal to learn from the Opposition.

As I was saying, I do not say that either the words of the Amendment or this Bill as the place to include them are most suitable. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) queried those facts himself and wondered whether this was the best place or whether these were the best words. For example, I do not like the use of the word "social." in this Amendment—not that the purpose is anti-social—because the inclusion of the words "social organisation of communities" as one of the functions of a task that is economic may, I think, lead to misunderstanding. Nor do I believe that this is necessarily the right Bill in which to include a provision of this kind, but with the general intention that we want to encourage African peasant proprietorship at every stage, I am in wholehearted agreement.

Throughout these debates, and, as was pointed out, throughout the Committee stage of the Bill, the Conservative Opposition criticised the mammoth scheme, in part, on the grounds that it made no provision for peasant proprietorship. We support African peasant proprietorship and co-operative producing and selling organisations in a country where, we are glad to think, the word "co-operative" has no political tinge, and we support, in what is a mechanised age, the cooperative use of machinery in Africa and elewhere.

Hon. Members can do a great deal worse than read two recent official reports. First, there is the report of the survey into the problem of mechanisation in native agriculture in tropical African Colonies with its conclusions that we have a long way to go before we shall know anything about it, and that we have by no means reached the stage mentioned by the Minister of Food where we now know how to conquer Africa. This modest, in a sense humble, but thoroughly well-informed approach to a highly complicated subject is insistent on the need for years of experiment before we can come to any conclusions. But it is generally believed that the co-operative provision of mechanised facilities for African producers is probably the best solution.

Or hon. Members can turn to the Report of the West African Oil Seeds Mission, with its general conclusion that the encouragement of African farm families should be one of our main duties. We very much regret that in the East African Scheme the Government did not approach the problem along the lines of these two reports. Had they done so, they would have had no spectacular failure, and might well have laid the ground for a highly profitable future for the African producer.

These are the sort of facts that an inquiry would have brought out, and that is one of the main reasons why we regret the failure of the Government to agree to an inquiry. We certainly prefer the attitude of the hon. Member for Gravesend and his plea for peasant proprietorship to a rather sinister phrase on page 15 of the White Paper on the future of the Corporation. The Committee will notice, at the top of page 15, these words: The high seasonal demands for power and labour. The word "seasonal" suggests that there will be a call for African labour only at certain seasons of the year—uprooting them from their homes, removing them from their tribal organisations, and bringing them away for only a season for a particular job. We do not believe that is in the best interest of Africa. We prefer the ideal of peasant proprietorship with personal responsibility harnessed to the application of the best modern science and the utmost help that British advisers can give. As I said, we are not convinced that this is the best place in which to enshrine in a Bill the ideas which, I think, are common to many hon. Members of the Committee, but with the general purpose of the hon. Member for Gravesend I, for one, am in entire agreement.

Mr. Dugdale

May I say, at the outset, that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies and myself are in entire sympathy with the idea underlying this Amendment. But I think that if hon. Members read the original Act, the Overseas Resources Development Act, 1948, they will see that under Section 1 (2, b) the Corporation, has, in fact, power to promote the carrying on of any such activities by other bodies or persons, and for that purpose to establish or expand, or promote the establishment or expansion of, other bodies to carry on any such activities either under the control or partial control of the Corporation or independently, and to give assistance to such bodies or to other bodies or persons appearing to the Corporation to have facilities for the carrying on of any such activities, including financial assistance by the taking up of share or loan capital or by grant, loan or otherwise. In other words, they can, if they so desire, assist co-operative organisation.

We do not feel that the Overseas Food Corporation is necessarily the most suitable organisation to carry out co-opera- tive work. On the whole, it is engaged in large-scale farming, and I would take this opportunity, as did the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), of commending to the Committee the report on mechanised agriculture in East Africa, which is a most valuable document. But, by and large, it is the duty of the Corporation to engage in what is large-scale farming, and we do not think that its primary duty is to make experiments in co-operative social organisations of this kind.

Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)

Is not the hon. Gentleman really saying that we cannot have large-scale farming at the same time as peasant farming, that large-scale farming must necessarily be the type of large mechanised farming we have had in the past?

Mr. Dugdale

Large-scale farming would appear to me to be farming in large blocks, rather than in small peasant blocks.

But I agree entirely on the value of cooperation. I found, personally, that the growth of the co-operative movement in East Africa during recent years was one of the most exhilarating and exciting things there. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) pay tribute to the Chagga. I have seen the work this tribe has done in building up a really fine cooperative movement. They have built a movement which has placed them in the forefront of coffee growers. If they had not had such a movement they would not have developed coffee growing as individuals to anything like the extent they have done. During recent years we have taken great pains, by sending out advisers to East Africa and other Colonies, to do all we can to build up the co-operative movement.

This is not the exact Bill to place upon a new Corporation a specific duty outside its normal and very important duty, namely, that of seeing that it runs this new experiment with the greatest possible success commercially and in the production of groundnuts. We are aware that it is of the utmost importance that the welfare of Africans shall be in the forefront of the duties placed upon this Corporation. We do not wish to see the Corporation run in any way as an outside body imposing itself upon Africans and exploiting Africans for the benefit of the people of this country. We want to see it as a first-class employer, as an employer of labour that consults the Africans whenever possible, that helps them to develop themselves and helps to develop their economic system. But we do not think that the actual creation of a co-operative movement and the encouragement of …co-operative social organisation of communities… is, in fact, a duty which should be placed upon this new Corporation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby was afraid that men running large units might eventually own them. There is no intention whatever in this Bill that that should be so. We do not envisage at any time that the men running these comparatively large units within the Corporation scheme shall become the owners of those units. I think it is necessary to make that abundantly clear, because it would be most unfortunate if ideas gained ground that they were there on the way to running their own farms. That is not the case.

The fact that we do not feel we can accept this Amendment does not mean that we do not see the importance of a co-operative movement. In the past we have done everything possible to encourage it, and we have encouraged it with very considerable success. The figures of the growth of co-operative movements in East Africa are quite staggering, particularly in Nyasa Province, where innumerable societies have grown up within recent years.

We want to see that growth encouraged. We want to see the co-operative movement become one of the main policies of African agriculture, and we are convinced that it will so become. With those words I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) will withdraw the Amendment, with the assurance that we give the highest possible priority to the development of co-operative institutions in Africa.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Alport

I should like to support the Amendment moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), and I hope that he is as dissatisfied as I am with the reply we have just had from the Minister of State. I cannot understand how it is that some provision of this sort should have been left out of the Bill we are considering. After all, in the original White Paper "A Plan for the Mechanised Production of Groundnuts in East and Central Africa (Cmd. 7030), it was envisaged that the land developed by the Corporation would be transferred eventually to the peoples of the territories. It will be remembered that it went on to say, in paragraph 42, that the transfer could not be immediate in so far as the whole scheme depended upon mechanisation. It said: It would be unthinkable to hand over to any community such highly productive mechanised units, requiring skilled management, merely to allow them to revert to wasteful individual cultivation which has proved to he so ruinous to the land, and so inimical to the African social structure But the basis of the scheme is radically changed by this new Bill, and the extent to which that change has taken place is well borne out by the statement on page 14 of the White Paper on "The Future of the Overseas Food Corporation" (Cmd. 8125), which says: The sequence of operations would be:—

  1. (a) Felling by the chain method,…
  2. (b) Burning the felled trees, stumping and twig picking by hand."
As I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will realise, this second process is the traditional process used by all African tribes of clearing new land for cultivation. Therefore, it would seem to me that as this scheme now falls back on processes which have been age-old in Africa, the objection to making it possible for peasant proprietors to come into existence in the various plantations which the Corporation is to continue to hold and develop goes by the board.

After all, there is an example in the fact that a European or European managed plantation of 100 acres is to be started experimentally. Surely, if it is possible for such a plantation to be made available for European management, some similar experiment on a co-operative basis could be made available quite easily to those Africans capable of taking advantage of the opportunities this allows. I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have been gravely concerned about the emphasis this scheme has placed right from the beginning upon the African as a wage earner. Indeed, I noticed in the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) that his main claim in regard to improved treatment of the Africans was not accommodation or amenities, but that the Corporation had paid higher wages. But I can assure him—and I think he will agree with me—that from the point of view of the welfare of the Africans it is accommodation, amenity and diet, not money, that are most important.

To obtain those, the best plan is to ensure that he has available, under proper supervision by agricultural officers, land which can support an improved standard of living, particularly with regard to his nutrition and accommodation. It seems to me that what the Scheme is in danger of doing is to revive the old plantation processes of German government in the days when Tanganyika was German East Africa. Although there are certain advantages from an economic point of view, there are grave disadvantages from a social and political point of view in allowing the development of great plantations of this sort.

In supporting this Amendment, I should like to welcome the conversion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend to the idea of a property-owning democracy.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Are we to understand that a property-owning democracy means that everybody must be in the co-operative movement?

Mr. Alport

I was referring to the remarks made by the hon. Baronet, which appeared to me to involve individual ownership, although there might quite easily be producer co-operative marketing, which we have supported right from the 1930's in this country. I am glad that he is a convert to it, and all I can do is to express the hope that he will join us in applying this principle of a property-owning democracy not only in far-away Africa but nearer home.

Mr. Coldrick (Bristol, North-East)

I had no intention of participating in this debate, but having regard to the welcome accorded by some hon. Members opposite to co-operative development in Africa, and knowing something about their general attitude to the co-operative movement in this country, I must say that I am a little suspicious of the kind of support which they offer. It is news to me that the Conservative Party are interested in a property-owning democracy, because I can conceive of no form of property-owning democracy that can surpass co-operative ownership.

I welcome the assistance that is being given by my right hon. Friend to the development of the co-operative movement in the Colonies in general, but I am doubtful whether this Amendment constitutes the best vehicle for this purpose. On the other hand, I recognise—and I think hon. Members opposite will agree—that what we are seeking to do is to create a situation in which a person's fortune will be proportionate to his own industry and not to the industry of someone else. The function of co-operation is not just to help others but to help them to help themselves. Unfortunately, as has been indicated from their speeches, hon. Members opposite want a large number of people working for wages. But why do they work for wages? Most of those people would naturally prefer to work for themselves, but it is because other people have deprived them of their property that they are constrained to work for someone else for wages.

I appreciate that under the Scheme of large-scale production there will be certain difficulties, but I suggest to my right hon. Friend that co-operation admits of varied practices. I believe that if we embark upon large-scale industry and employ wage labour, there is a grave danger that the workers will be disinterested in production and consequently the Scheme will not likely to be as productive as it otherwise would be. If it is possible to come to an agreement with a number of small people and get them to agree that under supervision they will proceed with the development of their territory so that they can have a personal interest in its productivity, I believe that, by linking their individual interests with the development of co-operative organisation, we shall stand a chance of making this Scheme a success.

There is this fundamental difference between ourselves and hon. Members opposite. They are stressing, not the cooperative character of this experiment and its development, but the private owner- ship of property. Unless we agree to establish peasant proprietorship and get these people to co-operate for the purpose of developing their social institutions under their own control, we shall not develop that sense of responsibility which is desirable from the point of view of prosperity and the welfare of the Africans generally.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

The Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), for which I have very considerable sympathy, asks for schemes of social organisation of communities of African producers. But when he moved the Amendment he told us that he always felt it was wrong to institute schemes in our Colonial Empire the sole object of which was to provide food and so forth for the United Kingdom or the colony-owning Power, and not to raise the standard of living of the natives in those areas. My recollection is that he voted for the original Groundnuts Scheme. If I am doing him an injustice, perhaps he will say so. Does the hon. Baronet deny that he voted for the original Groundnuts Scheme?

The object of that scheme was clear. It was to produce groundnuts in considerable quantities and increase the fat ration of the United Kingdom. Nothing was ever said about welfare until the Scheme started to go wrong. In other days hon. Members opposite would have called that sort of scheme "exploitation." Now it is called planning. I want to extract from hon. Members opposite an explanation about the long-term object of the now reduced Scheme. Paragraph 14 of the White Paper says—

Mr. J. Griffiths

If I may intervene, we have already discussed this on the Question that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill. We are now discussing an Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland). The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) is now straying far beyond the scheme.

The Temporary Chairman (Colonel Gomme-Duncan)

I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it is for the Chair to decide such matters.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

It was difficult to discuss the hon. Baronet's Amendment until we were quite certain what was the long-term objective of the present scheme which we are discussing as a whole. Paragraph 14 of the White Paper says: The scheme must now be regarded as a scheme of large-scale experimental development to establish the economics of clearing and mechanised … agriculture. What is the object of this experiment? Is the object in the long run to provide foodstuffs in greater quantities for the United Kingdom or the Western world; or is the object of the long-term experiment to raise the standard of life among the Africans and help their own agricultural methods to improve so that they can benefit? To some extent, the two can run parallel, but there must come a point beyond which both objectives cannot be pursued at one and the same time. I ask for enlightenment on those points.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. W. Fletcher

My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) mentioned that at every stage of our discussions on colonial development both he and I have spoken in favour of peasant proprietorship. The combination of Bury and Banbury is almost irresistible. We talk as if there has not been a very largescale—not experimental but successful producing scheme in Africa which, though it is not called a co-operative, has, in fact, produced the largest and most valuable crop in that area for 30 years, and that is cotton in Uganda.

I happened to be staying with the then Governor of Uganda, in 1919, when the whole of the scheme and the rules for working it were drawn up. There, we have a complete scheme, exactly parallel to a co-operative movement. The head man of each village came into the markets, which were under careful Government control, with competition in prices, very often with the land in the various areas owned by the community and not by the individual. Under that scheme we had the grower of the cotton very interested, and his wives very often filled a very necessary part in Africa—doing most of the hard work and carrying the cotton into the markets on their heads.

That, then, is an actual scheme which has been working and it is a little naïve to talk now as if a great discovery had been made. Although I am entirely in sympathy with the Amendment, I must point out that many years before it was called "co-operative" or taken under the powerful and wealthy wing of the Cooperative movement, such a scheme did exist and was producing hundreds of thousands of bales of cotton—and the figures were given in the House within the last 48 hours—which were a great dollar saver. I hope that sufficient notice will be taken of that large-scale and successful work in Tanganyika, well past the experimental stage.

After the 1914 war there was the same lack of fats throughout the world and in 1919, in Tanganyika. I produced several thousands of tons of groundnuts in the Kondoa-Irangi area. I did it by somewhat simpler methods, and slightly less costly methods than those employed by the Government—by the more simple process of approaching the native chiefs concerned and persuading them, in turn, to get their communities to plant groundnuts. The crop was brought to a central area and sold, and shops were available in which they could buy things at Government-controlled prices. It always surprises me that the Government do not draw for information upon these well-known and established precedents, even though they may go back rather a long way.

The Minister of State spoke of this as a new experiment. What has been happening for the last four years? It is astonishing that we call this a pilot scheme. Apparently, the Socialist idea is that when a ship is well on the rocks and deeply embedded, they send for the pilot and produce the pilot scheme. That is the wrong way round.

I support this Amendment because any effort to increase peasant proprietorship is a step in the right direction. Whether we call it co-operative or whether we like to add this word "social" which, like King Charles' head, bobs up in anything which hon. Members opposite ever say—and it is a word which has no clearly defined meaning—whether we leave out the word "social" or put it in, I do not mind very much, but this Amendment is certainly a step in the right direction. But do not let it be just a pious wish, just an Amendment on a piece of paper. Let it have a good deal more behind it.

I think the Government are making a mistake in seeking to reject the Amendment. When I questioned the Minister he insisted upon talking about large-scale farming. But large-scale farming is just as much a fact in an area which is being developed under a peasant proprietor scheme, where we may be loaning a certain amount of machinery to those who are developing it, as it is in an area which is being mechanically ploughed by a few people or where they are mechanically gathering in the crops.

It is just as much the duty of this newly reborn Corporation to carry out that first kind of production as it is to carry out a scheme in which they have a few natives as their employees. We can certainly produce nearly all the major products of East Africa in very large-scale blocks by lending machinery to the natives for them to do it, thus leaving them with a sense of proprietorship and with a sense of their co-operative efforts. We can do it as much in that way as by ploughing the land ourselves. It is a mistaken policy and a bad argument on the part of the Government to rule out this form of activity, thereby pinning themselves again to the one form of production in Africa which hitherto has proved a failure.

I remember that in the days when I used to grow sisal in Africa—and I have carried on for 25 years since then—we started mechanisation there. It sounded excellent but it did not work, for a simple and natural reason. When we had cleared a very large area at great expense and put in our smaller plants—the bulbils —the local monkeys treated them as a freshly planted salad for themselves, in the early stages, and what the monkeys did not eat, the elephants trod down. That is a form of mechanisation which we found extremely irritating.

Why should the Ministry seek to exclude what is a natural ancillary form of experiment and confine themselves mechanically to mechanisation? It seems to me that they should reconsider this matter. In spite of the doubts cast by the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Coldrick), upon the support offered from this side of the Committee, the Amendment has been supported from all sides by those who have had experience of Africa, and I think it would be wise for the Government to withdraw their opposition to it. If they do not, I hope that those who have moved the Amendment will take the matter into the Divi- sion Lobby, not only on its merits but to show the Government Front Bench that they must not stick too closely to the brief but must see that it is quite possible to swallow and digest new ideas even in the atmosphere of the House of Commons.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I speak now without a brief. What the Minister of State said was that if at any time what is proposed in the Amendment were thought to be desirable, then it could be done under the existing powers. What he said, and what I repeat, is that we encourage in every possible way the growth of cooperation—both producers' co-operation and consumers' co-operation—in each of the colonial territories. Not only do we encourage it but in most of the territories we have co-operative advisers, whose job it is to advise the peoples there on the setting up and running of co-operative organisations and on encouraging their growth.

The Amendment would place this duty upon the Corporation. I do not think it is wise to place the duty upon the Corporation, which has a limited sphere—that of running the scheme which we have already outlined. On the other hand, let me give my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) this assurance. If this new scheme is a success, and when the time is reached for us to consider its future, then if he asks me whether we shall at that stage consider co-operative ownership I can tell him that it certainly will be considered. We are not against co-operation; indeed, we are encouraging it in every possible way.

It is the answer in Africa and elsewhere—not what is called individual peasant ownership. As a matter of fact, part of our programme is combatting the old peasant ownership, if I may use the phrase in its old sense, which led to soil erosion, over-grazing and such problems as that. It is in those fields that producers' co-operation can play its biggest part. As we have shown by what we are doing, we are anxious to encourage cooperation in every possible way and if at any time it is thought that any part of this scheme can best be run by producers' co-operation or co-operative organisations, that can be done under the existing Act. I can assure my hon. Friend that if that is thought to be the best way, it will be done. That is why I think his Amendment is unnecessary.

Sir R. Acland

In view of the assurance given by the Government, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Captain Crookshank

I beg to move, in page 2, line 25, after "Corporation." to insert: and the Corporation shall he charged with the duty of winding-up the project carried out under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section three of the principal Act in such manner and within such period as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State. We now come to a new subsection. I am afraid, as so often happens in these cases, that the Amendment as drafted is not frightfully clear, because we have to refer to a paragraph in the original Act. The subsection starts, in the lines before that in which our Amendment is to come, by wiping out subsection (1) of Section 3 of the Act of 1948. What that subsection did was to establish the Overseas Food Corporation, with the duty, on the one hand, of formulating and carrying out projects for production in various places outside the United Kingdom, and secondly, with the specific duty, as its first objective, of carrying out the Groundnuts Scheme in East Africa. All that is taken out by the opening words of this subsection in this Bill.

I am not a lawyer, and I see that the right hon. Gentleman is not at the moment fortified by legal advice, but perhaps he would look into the point whether by saying in this subsection of this Bill, Subsection (1) of section three of the principal Act shall cease to have effect so far as it regulates the duty of the Overseas Food Corporation… it washes out the actual establishment of the Overseas Food Corporation itself; because it is that subsection of Section 3 of the original Act which establishes the Overseas Food Corporation. I hope that, at any rate for the purpose of the argument, the Corporation is still in existence. The opening words of this subsection of this Bill appears to wipe out the whole of that subsection in that Section of the Act. I wonder whether it is washed out or not. It is, of course, a legal drafting point, but perhaps it can be looked at by the appropriate people at the appropriate time.

Our Amendment proposes to insert words the effect of which is that the Corporation must now start—if I may use the expression—to wind itself up. Of course, if we go back to the main issue, which I cannot do beyond just alluding to it, we remember that one of the objectives we had during the Second Reading debate, and which we should have continued today if an Amendment of ours had been called, was to have an inquiry to see whether all the proposed plans of the Government and of the Overseas Food Corporation are, in fact, practicable. In the House we were defeated on the question of the inquiry; and in the Committee stage now, through no fault of our own, we have been unable to debate it; and, therefore, for the purpose of the argument, we have to accept what is said in the White Paper, that the Scheme must now be regarded as an experimental development scheme.

That being the situation, we are not ourselves satisfied that there is any particular reason why the Overseas Food Corporation should continue at all in the changed circumstances, because the White Paper has pointed out that there is no suggestion of any other scheme either in East Africa or anywhere else, except the one referred to in the White Paper; and this Scheme, as I pointed out the other day—and I do not want to repeat all that I said on Second Reading—when compared with what was envisaged when the Corporation was originally established under Section 3 of the original Act, is comparatively small.

Let us bear in mind what we were doing there. The Corporation not only was to take over the Groundnuts Scheme in East Africa as its first objective, but it was also to secure, let me remind hon. Members, … the investigation, formulation and carrying out of projects for production or processing in places outside the United Kingdom of foodstuffs or agricultural products other than foodstuffs…"— and for marketing them. If one pauses on those words, one must conclude that it was a tremendous remit that it had. The whole world was under its purview. It could investigate and make plans for growing any agricultural product whether foodstuffs or not. It could, for example, have gone in for great schemes in different parts of the world for growing food—as, indeed, it did, as we know, in Queensland. We shall come to that on Clause 4. All this tremendous power which it was given has now been washed out by the opening words of this subsection, and all that it is left with, according to the White Paper, is this comparatively—compared with those great plans —minute scheme in East Africa, which will not involve any land use over 250,000 or 300,000 acres.

7.45 p.m.

That being so, and the Colonial Office having taken over the responsibility—and I am very glad they have—that having happened, it does raise the question, at any rate if for nothing more than the argument, whether it is worth while keeping this apparatus going for this modified purpose, when the supervision of the purpose is in future to be in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, whose Department we all admit—and Clause 1 went through without a Division—is eminently suitable to carry it out. That being so, we suggest that now we bad better set about closing down the activities of the Corporation.

Therefore, this Amendment says that by regulations which the right hon. Gentleman would make, and, therefore, over which we in this Chamber would have ultimate control, he should plan the dissolution of this body. Of course, it cannot stop tomorrow, even if the Bill were passed into law with this Amendment. Obviously, it must have some sort of slowing down—a period on a care-andmaintenance basis, if hon. Members like —until the right hon. Gentleman decides what is the appropriate moment. Of course, there are further Amendments later on, on which my hon. Friends and I will be able to amplify the various aspects of this matter, but that for which we are now asking general acceptance is the proposition that the time has come for the Corporation to end.

If that proposition is accepted, then we say that the best way for it to come to an end is by some regulatory function of the Secretary of State, because he would then come before the House and give us the time within which, under the regulations, he thought this should happen. I do not see that there is any exception to be taken to this as a method, granted that it is agreed that winding up is desirable; though I can quite see that that may be a matter of difference between hon. and right hen. Gentlemen opposite and my hon. Friends and myself on this side. But I do say that I think it is clear from the drafting of the Bill before us that there is not in it any provision whereby the Overseas Food Corporation could come to an end. As I read the Bill, it would require fresh legislation for that.

I give this as a little encouragement to the right hon. Gentleman, because it may well suit him very well to act in that way. If our subsequent Amendments, or something like them, are accepted, it may suit him very well to bring the Corporation to an end, and in that case I am quite sure he would not want to have legislation about it, but that it would be a convenience to close these activities by regulations presented to the House and subject to the approval of the House.

That is the case for this Amendment. It is a perfectly simple one. The main issue is whether or not we want the Corporation to go on with the attenuated functions and with the very small sphere of activities it is to have in the future. I should not have been so certain about this if it had not been for the fact that the Corporation itself, in its own report to the Minister of Food, said that it did not contemplate embarking on any further schemes in East Africa or anywhere else. Therefore, it has talked itself from going very far afield. The right hon. Gentleman, on the earlier Amendment, said that he was prepared to consider even taking away its powers to do anything except in East Africa.

When we look back to the 1948 Act and see the tremendous opportunities which were given to it—I am not blaming it for not taking the opportunities; that is not my point at the moment—and compare the opportunities which will be left after this Bill is passed, I think it would be convenient for it to be closed down. We will discuss later what remains to be done, but as a general proposition it should be closed down within a reasonable time limit to be laid down by the right hon. Gentleman under regulations approved by this House. The proposition which my right hon. Friends and I put before the Committee is that the Corporation should be closed down, though I must admit that, owing to drafting difficulties, the Amendment does not look as if it meant anything of the kind.

Mr. J. Griffiths

As to whether the effect of the present wording would be to wipe out the Corporation altogether, my legal advice is that the fears of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on that score are unfounded. In the Second Reading debate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food, and myself, in closing the debate, discussed the question of accepting this Scheme in this limited form, in this limited area—which may still be further limited by what I have promised to look at between now and the next stage—and whether it was desirable that this new revised scheme should be undertaken by a Corporation reduced in number, sited in future in Tanganyika, working in close association with the Tanganyikan Government, with a representative of that Government on the new Corporation under the supervision of the Colonial Office, and in that way in close association with the Colonial Development Corporation.

Is it best to continue the Corporation, or would it be better to wind up the Corporation? If we did that we should have to consider whether some other body would have to take it over. We considered that, and I do not think that at this stage the Committee would expect me to go into the arguments. I considered, first of all, whether the Colonial Development Corporation might take it over and came to the conclusion that it would be better if the present Corporation were maintained—the Corporation for this Scheme for its limited purpose. At some time in the future we shall have to consider the future of this Scheme. Obviously, we shall have to consider it, not only as a matter concerning this Government but in association with the Government of Tanganyika.

Whether it was right or wrong, the original impulse behind this Scheme was the fact that we were desperately short of fats, and it was, in its original conception, an attempt very quickly to provide the fats we so desperately needed. It was a Scheme the major purpose of which was to provide us with certain essential foodstuffs. It now becomes part of colonial development. There are 50 projects of the Colonial Development Corporation, and, looking to the future, we shall have to examine a very big and important problem. This will be a problem that the Government may have to consider, and the Opposition, if at some time they form the Government, may have to consider; I do not know. These colonial territories are steadily marching towards self-government and I should like to pose a question to the Opposition for the future. When that stage is reached are we to have in colonial territories which are at or near self-government industrial enterprises owned by His Majesty's Government, controlled by them?

As I see it, that is one of the major problems with which we are faced for the future. We do not face it now in Tanganyika. I do not know what we shall face in seven years' time. I thought, therefore, that for the moment it was better to keep this separate under this Corporation within its limited field. I have already agreed there should be no thought of trying to build up this Corporation for Central as well as East Africa.

I have agreed to look at that, and am prepared to say, at the appropriate stage, that it shall be East Africa only_ In view of that, I think we did right to keep this Corporation to work this Scheme. It is agreed by everybody that seven years are required to prove whether or not it will be a success. If at the end of seven years it has been a success, that will be the time to consider its future.

Obviously then, it seems to me, whatever may have happened in Tanganyika by that time, at whatever stage they may be, even if they do not develop beyond the existing stage, its future would obviously have to be decided in consultation with the Government of Tanganyika. For those reasons I think that if, as is suggested by the Amendment, we abolished the Corporation we should have to proceed to set up something else, or to transfer it to the Colonial Development Corporation.

It is quite clear that if this Amendment were carried and the effect were to abolish the O.F.C.—if I might use initials—the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does not intend to propose, at a later stage, that the Colonial Office should run this Scheme, because the Colonial Office is not equipped to run schemes of this kind. If the O.F.C. were abolished some other corporation would have to be created, or it would have to be transferred to the C.D.C., and I have given the reasons why I have rejected that for the moment, although I have not considered it fully. For those reasons we think it desirable and essential to maintain this Corporation, and I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)

Although I accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said, if this Corporation is maintained there is always the danger that somebody will come along and say, "Here is a machine to start some other scheme." If we can have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that it will never be allowed to expand again—

The Minister of Food (Mr. Webb) indicated assent.

Sir R. Glyn

The Amendment suggests that it should be wound up, and that would get rid of any danger of that sort, which seems to me a safe position.

I recognise the Secretary of State's difficulty, that there must be a period when it has got to be wound up. From the experience we have of development in the Colonies this does seem to be an anachronism. It has got a magnificent title but is doing a very small job, and there is no assurance that it will be satisfied with such a small task, having such a pretentious name. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would say that it is in its expiring moments, that it will be clamped down and will not be the machine for other and more expensive experiments. There may be some reason in what he has said, but I think it would be much better if he accepted the suggestion of the Amendment and wound up the Corporation.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would tell the Committee a little more about the reasons why he decided that the Colonial Development Corporation might not sooner or later—I do not say at this very moment—take over this scheme. The Colonial Development Corporation is now running 12 schemes in Central and East Africa with a capital commitment of £6½ million, and they are therefore there.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows. I have taken a good deal of interest in the Colonial Development Corporation, and I have said more than once, and still think so, that it has too great a job to do already. I do not think it is possible for one Corporation to run schemes in all parts of the world as this one is doing, and I have urged that the Colonial Development Corporation should be split up, either on the basis of functions or on a geographical basis. I do not mind which, but I think myself that a geographical basis is right.

If it were divided in that way so that there was a Colonial Development Corporation for, say, Africa I would think it quite sensible to give that rather more limited corporation the job of handling this post-groundnut Scheme. I think that would be a good basis of organisation. I cannot see a good reason why that should not be done. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would like to tell us his reasons, but I am not at all convinced that there are any good reasons for turning down the suggestion which has been made.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I would like to support what my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) has said. I could not understand the reasons which the Colonial Secretary gave about not keeping the Overseas Food Corporation in being in seven years' time. I should have thought that both Corporations, in due course, would suffer from the same problem, namely, that they are Government-owned and will be operating in self-governing territories. I hope and believe, as he does, that as time goes on these territories will be drawn more closely to us and that these are problems which will not arise, especially if I can follow on the suggestions on the last Amendment we discussed, and we can use some of those views for seeing if we cannot build up in these territories overseas a property-owning democracy.

I feel strongly that the area for activities between the Colonial Development Corporation and this new Corporation that is proposed is indefinite. I am being driven to the conclusion that the actual production job is best left to the private producer, unless there are very big schemes, such as the use of mechanised clearing—which does not seem to be working, and which the report itself suggests is breaking down. I am, therefore, driven to the conclusion that the actual production job should more and more be left to free enterprise to undertake, and that this Corporation should undertake much more the development of railways, roads, and so on.

If anyone has followed the result of driving the Pan-American highway through Mexico—one of the biggest developments in the last five years—it will be realised that if some of the money spent on this project had been spent on improving roads the results might have been much better. I think that the suggestion made about this Clause is a good one and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to reconsider it on the Report stage.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)

There is one further point to be considered and that is the psychological aspect. There is no doubt that the cause of colonial development has been done a good deal of harm by the failure of the groundnuts scheme. It is generally known that it has been a complete and utter failure. The Colonial Secretary admitted as much in his speech. Without going into the controversy of whether anything could have been done to mitigate the failure, the fact is that it has been a failure, and everyone knows it.

In these circumstances, would it not be better to wind up the Corporation? Whether we should go on with a new scheme or not is another matter. The view of the Government is that we should go on with another scheme, but maybe we, on these benches, think that there should be a further inquiry before we commit ourselves. Whatever happens, psychologically it would be a good thing in Africa and in this country if the Corporation which has been a hopeless flop was wound up and a new start made.

Mr. Hurd (Newbury)

We have been asked by the Colonial Secretary to allow the Overseas Food Corporation another seven years of life. We know that Sir Donald Perrott, deputy chairman, is retiring so far as the Tanganyika Scheme is concerned and it has been suggested —perhaps the Minister can assure me on this one way or the other—that the chairman, Sir Eric Coates, may be finding other fields of activity. We are left in doubt as to who, in future, is to be the Overseas Food Corporation.

It is important that the Committee should know to whom we are entrusting this new effort to retrieve what we can in Tanganyika. It seems to me that the chief weakness of the boards of the Overseas Food Corporation and the Development Corporation is that they lack men with two feet on God's good earth. Now are we entering on another colonial land development scheme without that necessary practical experience of dealing with farm problems, either in the tropics or at home? We must be assured that these boards will be competent to deal with the kind of problems likely to arise.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Two observations were made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to which I would like to reply. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the embarrassment that might arise if he had responsibility for running the scheme in Tanganyika when the Colony reached self-government and he looked round the Committee as if he had made a very compelling point. The answer is that the Minister of Food is becoming directly responsible for a large part of the running of the scheme in Queensland, to which, I understand, he nominates the chairman and two-thirds of the board. That is running a scheme not in a Colony which may become self-governing, but in a state which is part of a Dominion, equal in status and in no way inferior in stature to the United Kingdom herself. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman, on that ground, carries no weight at all.

The second argument of the right hon. Gentleman is this: my Department, he says—and we certainly agree, and it is true of all Departments—is not equipped to carry on a great commercial enterprise. I am delighted that that fact is now accepted by a Socialist Secretary of State, and I hope that he will pass it on to his Cabinet colleagues, and especially to the right hon. Gentleman sitting next to him on the Treasury Bench. We do not suggest that the Secretary of State should run this Scheme. If the right hon. Gentleman will look ahead—and I would not be entitled to debate a forthcoming Amendment—he will see that in Clause 2, page 2, line 38, we are suggesting the machinery whereby the Secretary of State can get rid of the responsibility which he may think is being rather imposed upon him. He can hand it over to the Government of Tanganyika, to the High Commissioner, or to the Colonial Development Corporation, or when a case is proved, as it can no doubt be proved, he can hand some part of the Scheme to private enterprise.

All this would have emerged from an inquiry. Now the inquiry has been refused and we will have to make our inquiries by some other means. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that this is not the only reason why we hesitate to entrust Government Departments with the running of commercial schemes. We do not want this burden because we know that in a few months' time we shall be Ministers ourselves.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Down, North)

The Secretary of State for the Colonies has mentioned the difficulty whch would arise if any of these schemes were handed over in the future to self government. I would ask him to turn his attention to a place which has been handed over to self-government some four year ago—that is India. In India there were railways run by the State, agricultural farms run successfully by the State, experimental agricultural stations and every sort of enterprise, but certainly no industrial companies like cotton or jute. They were always under private enterprise. He should find no difficulty at all, if he inquires what has been done in India, about handing over, from the Government of this country to the Government of India.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I will look into this problem of the future, but, speaking for myself, I have no difficulty at all. I know perfectly well what I want to do when that stage is reached, and that is that these things should not go to private enterprise anywhere but remain as public enterprise in these territories. If that stage is reached, expressing my own view, these matters will be run by public enterprise rather than by the Governments themselves. For the moment I was discussing this question, because the Amendment has the effect that the Overseas Food Corporation will cease to exist. There- fore, something else will have to take its place, and that is why I spoke of the Colonial Office. Is it suggested that the Colonial Office should take the place of the Corporation? The Colonial Office as at present organised, is not equipped to run a business of this kind, and the second alternative is to hand it over to the C.D.F. I know the difficulty.

This Amendment seeks to lift the latch to open the door on the Amendment to Clause 2, page 2, line 38, which comes later. I do not want to discuss that now, except to make the comment that hon. Members opposite, who have been thundering about delegated legislation in the last five years, now propose, in such an important matter as the passing of a public authority, that the Minister shall be empowered to do it by such a method.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

After an inquiry.

Mr. Griffiths

It is very interesting, having regard to the protests that have been made in the last six years on delegated legislation. Hon. Members opposite propose first to abolish the Board, and then, by a later Amendment, to give the Secretary of State power to transfer its functions. I recommend the Committee to dispose of the first of these Amendments by rejecting it.

Mr. Alport

There is one point I should like to put to the Secretary of State. He has told us that under no circumstances in the future, if the time came to hand over this scheme to somebody else, would he contemplate handing it over to private enterprise.

Mr. Griffiths

That is a personal view.

Mr. Alport

That is the right hon. Gentleman's personal view, but I am sure that he is speaking for the Government and for those who sit on the other side of the Committee. Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to consider handing it over to private enterprise if it were proved beyond doubt, as it might quite well be, that it was impossible to make this Scheme successful under public enterprise? Would he be prepared to continue a scheme of this sort at a loss indefinitely, in spite of the fact that it had been proved by the experience of, say, seven years that unless it was under the control of private enterprise it must be a burden upon the taxpayers of the territories of Tanganyika.

Mr. Griffiths

I am not asking Parliament or the public to commit themselves to anything beyond the annual expenditure approved for this Scheme.

Mr. Alport

I gathered that, but what I am trying to get clear is that, if it is considered that this type of development is in the interests of Africa and the African people, would the right hon. Gentleman's prejudice against private enterprise continue to be directed in relation to this Scheme in spite of the

fact that it was proved that the only way to make it a success was to turn it over to private enterprise? If that is the view of the right hon. Gentleman, it seems to me to be the most blindly ideological view that any Government or Minister could put forward.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 172; Noes, 193.

Division No. 45.] AYES [8.15 p.m.
Alport, C. J. M. Henderson, John (Catheart) Rayner, Brig. R.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Redmayne, M.
Arbuthnot, John Higgs, J. M. C. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Baldwin, A. E. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Bell, R. M. Hirst, Geoffrey Robson-Brown, W.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hollis, M. C. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Hope, Lord John Roper, Sir Harold
Birch, Nigel Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Russell, R. S.
Bishop, F. P. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Ryder, Capt. R. E. D
Black, C. W. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N,) Scott, Donald
Bower, Norman Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Boyle, Sir Edward Hurd, A. R. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B. Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Gurney Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Snadden, W. MoN.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hutchison, Colonel James Spearman, A. C M.
Bullock, Capt. M. Jones, A. (Hall Green) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A. Keeling, E. H. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Lambert, Hon. G. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Channon, H. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Clyde, J. L. Lindsay, Martin Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Colegate, A. Linstead, H. N. Storey, S.
Conant, Maj. R, J. E. Llewellyn, D. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Studholme, H. G.
Cranborne, Viscount Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Sutcliffe, H.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Taylor, William {Bradford, N.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Teevan, T. L.
Crouch, R. F. McKibbin, A. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Cundiff, F. W. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Deedes, W. F. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thorp, Brig. R. A. F.
Digby, S. W. Macmillan, Rt. Hon, Harold (Bromley) Tilney, John
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Touche, G. C.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Maitland, Cmdr. J. W. Turner, H. F. L.
Drewe, C. Manningham-Buller, R. E. Turton, R. H.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fisher, Nigel Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.) Vosper, D. F.
Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Maudling R. Wade, D. W.
Fort, R. Mellor, Sir John Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Foster, John Molson, A. H. E. Wakefield, Sir Waved (Marylebone)
Fraser, Sir I. (Morecam[...]e & Lonsdale) Monokton, Sir Walter Walker-Smith, D. C.
Gage, C. H. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Gammans, L. D. Nield, Basil (Chester) Watkinson, H.
Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Nutting, Anthony Webbe, Sir Harold
Gates, Maj. E. E. Oakshott, H. D. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Glyn, Sir Ralph Odey, G. W. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Granville, Edgar (Eye) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wills, G.
Grimond, J. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Osborne, C. Wood, Hon. R.
Harden, J. R. E. Perkins, W. R. D. York, C.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Pitman, I. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Powell, J. Enoch Colonel Wheatley and
Hay, John Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Mr. Edward Heath.
Heald, Lionel Raikes, H. V.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Padley, W. E.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C R. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Awbery, S. S. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Parker, J.
Ayles, W. H. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Paton, J.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hamilton, W. W. Pearson, A.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J Hannan, W. Popplewell, E.
Bartley, P. Hargreaves, A Porter, G.
Benn, Wedgwood Harrison, J. Proctor, W. T.
Benson, G. Hastings, S. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Bing, G. H. C. Hayman, F. H. Rees, Mrs. D.
Blenkinsop, A. Herbison, Miss M. Reeves, J.
Blyton, W. R. Hobson, C. R. Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Boardman, H. Holman, P. Richards, R
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Robens, A.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Houghton, D Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hoy, J. Robertson, J. J (Berwick)
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Hubbard, T. Robinson, Kenneth (St Pancras, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A D. D. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Brown, George (Belper) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Royle, C.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Burke, W. A Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Burton, Miss E Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Simmons, C. J.
Carmichael, J. Johnson, James (Rugby) Slater, J.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Champion, A. J. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Snow, J W.
Cocks, F. S. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Collick, P. Keenan, W. Steele, T.
Collindridge, F. Kenyon, C. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Cook, T. F. Kinley, J. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall
Cove, W. G Lee, Frederick (Newton) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Sylvester, G. O.
Crawley, A. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Grossman, R. H. S Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Thomas. David (Aberdare)
Daines, P. Lindgren, G. S. Thomas. George (Cardiff)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Thomas, Iorworth (Rhondda, W)
Darling, George {Hillsborough) MacColl, J. E. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Davits, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) McInnes, J. Thurtie, Ernest
Davies, Harold (Leek) McKay, John (Wallsend) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Deer, G. McLeavy, F. Vernon, W. F.
Delargy, H. J. MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Wallace, H. W.
Dodds, N. N. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.
Donnelly, D. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersheid, E.) Weitzman, D.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W Bromwich) Mann, Mrs. Jean Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Dye, S. Manuel, A. C. West, D. G.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Edwards, W. J (Stepney) Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mellish, R. J. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Middleton, Mrs. L. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mitchison, G. R. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Ewart, R. Monslow, W. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Fernyhough, E. Moody, A. S. Williams, David (Neath)
Finch, H. J. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Morley, R. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Follick, M. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mort, D. L. Williams, W. T (Hammersmith, S.)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Moyle, A. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huylon)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Murray, J. D. Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Gibson, C. W. Nally, W. Wise, F. J.
Gilzean, A. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Younger, Hon. K.
Glanville, James (Consett) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Gooch, E. G. Oldfield, W H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Oliver, G. H. Mr. Bowden and Mr. Sparks.
Grey, C F. Orbach, M.
The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

The next Amendment—in page 2, line 29, leave out "subsection (1) of."—has been discussed with the previous one.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I beg to move, in page 2, line 31, to leave out from "being," to as," in line 32, and to insert "more than two."

The Deputy-Chairman

It might be for the convenience of the Committee if the following Amendment were discussed at the same time—in page 2, line 31. leave out "two," and insert "four." They both concern the same point, but there can be separate Divisions, if necessary.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

That would certainly be for the convenience of the Oppo- sition, and, I imagine, of the Government also.

The purpose of the two Amendments is to fix in different ways the composition of the Board of the Corporation. The first Amendment would limit the number of members of the Corporation to two, and the second Amendment would make the minimum number four while, I take it, leaving the maximum number the same.

We are very concerned about the size of the Corporation. Section 4 (1) of the Overseas Resources Development Act, 1948, laid down the constitution of the Overseas Food Corporation by saying that it shall consist of a chairman, a deputy chair-man and such number of other members, not being less than four or more than 10, as the Minister of Food may from time to time determine. In the present Bill there is a slight reduction in the legal maximum level, and Clause 2 (3) reads: The Overseas Food Corporation shall consist of a chairman and such other members, not being less than two or more than six, as the Secretary of State, may from time to time determine. By and large, however, the composition of the Board is left broadly the same as before. This is a matter of very great importance.

One of the difficulties in which the Scheme has been landed—indeed, the greatest difficulty—has been reckless extravagance. I do not suggest that there has necessarily been undue extravagance on the individual salaries of the members of the Corporation, many of whom, and not least those who were obliged to leave under the regime of the late Minister of Food, who is the present Secretary of State for War, have done their very best to give signal service to the State in a very difficult capacity. None the less, the great amount of money spent on top-heavy organisation was widely commented upon when the disastrous story of the Groundnuts scheme became generally known.

If a large Corporation was necessary for the first Scheme, it is certainly not necessary now. After all, when the first Scheme was introduced to the country, it was described by Sir Leslie Plummer as being comparable to the opening up of the Middle West of America; and the "Daily Herald" commended the scheme as the most comprehensive plan in British history. We have our own views on whether those bombastic promises have been fulfilled. In any case, a board of directors which was necessary to carry out a Scheme, believed by its authors to deserve those epithets, is surely not necessary now for the very modest Scheme that is being commended to the Committee. From the White Paper, we understand that the Corporation does not contemplate embarking on any other schemes in East Africa or anywhere else, and it seems to us absurd that provision should be made in the Bill for such a large Corporation.

I therefore ask the Committee to insist that the number of two for the Corporation is quite adequate to deal with the task in hand. It is not the sort of task on which we require a large number of people, nor is it a task on which we need a number of part-time people. This is a definitely limited job, in which two people working all the time with the chairman could certainly provide all the overall direction.

There is this further point. The size of the London staff must be related psychologically to the inevitable reduction in the lesser paid staff both in London and in Africa. A large number of people are being, and will be, dismissed by the Overseas Food Corporation. Many of them have sold their homes in England and have gone to East Africa. They have now to come back or to find other work in Africa. Their future must be of immense concern to this Committee, and we ought to make quite certain, as far as we can, that there is no suggestion that there is to be an unnecessarily top-heavy staff in London for a much reduced scheme while men who have given excellent service in Africa or in London on a lower level of employment are being dismissed.

In this connection, the directors with whose future we are dealing—the members of the Corporation—are, of course, employees of the Corporation in the same sense as the rank and file. I hope we can have some reassuring comments from the Minister of State about the future of the rank and file. That would, I think, be in order on this Amendment. We are concerned about the rank and file employees of the Corporation. If I am not in order in discussing them now, Sir Charles, another opportunity will arise when we can make our observations, but as we are now dealing with members of the staff, I hope that I should be in order in asking the Minister three queries.

I understand that compensation is to be paid—and this presumably will apply also to the reduced number of directors—costing, I believe, some £400,000, to the people who are losing their jobs as the result of the reduction of the Scheme to more modest proportions. When it was suggested that employees were to receive six months' pay, or four months' pay plus any accrued leave, the general impression was that this did apply both to the African and the London staff, but since it has come to our knowledge that the London staff have no such assurance, and the promise made in this House may have applied only to the staff employed in Africa. We should like to have some information about that.

8.30 p.m.

We should like also to know about the position of people who are today being declared redundant before this Bill is law, because these people are afraid they will get no compensation at all. Those who are anxious about their own future wish to know whether the same provision will apply to them.

The Deputy-Chairman

I think the bon. Member is now going beyond the provissions of the Clause.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am grateful to you, Sir Charles. Indeed I had a lurking suspicion that I was getting out of order and I am grateful to you for allowing me to go so far. Perhaps, without bowing to ministerial eminence, you will give the right hon. Gentleman the same latitude in answering me as you have given me in making these requests. The main burden of our complaint is that a board which was thought necessary for what the "Daily Herald" thought the most comprehensive plan in British history, should be thought necessary for the new organisation.

Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

I wonder if, in view of the precedent which has been set, I may be permitted to introduce another quite extraneous matter and that the Minister might be given the same latitude in his reply. I refer to the question of the chairman. I would like to know what is the intention in regard to the appointment of the chairman under this Clause. I would like to know whether the Government have the intention of appointing as chairman someone who has been working on the Scheme over this long experimental period, or whether it is their intention to go outside and appoint a civil servant however high ranking, or some other public person. I think it is most important that when we are considering this matter—

The Deputy-Chairman

I think this would arise on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." We are now considering the numbers of the members, not the chairman. That comes later.

Mr. Dugdate

As two of the matters which have been raised appear to come up later, I think I shall be well advised to keep strictly to your Ruling, Sir Charles, and to reply to both when the occasion arises. Naturally, I do not intend in any way to avoid them.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way so quickly. We are deeply concerned about the staff, and it was because I was not sure at which point we could raise this question that I ventured to go so near the bounds of order. I would be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman could indicate at which point he will be able to make a statement as to the position of the lower-paid staff.

Mr. Dugdale

As far as I understand that would occur when we reach the new Clauses. There is a proposed new Clause in the name of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank)—[Compensation for loss of office.] I think it would be more suitable to reply when we reach that. Of course, if that Clause is not called, it would be a different matter—

The Deputy-Chairman

I think I might assist the Committee about that. That Clause is to be called.

Mr. Dugdale

It would be more suitable to make a statement then.

I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) as to the importance of this Scheme not being top heavy. It would be quite fatal to saddle it with a top-heavy organisation. But I do not think the hon. Gentleman was quite fair in calling this a slight reduction; I think it is a considerable reduction. The size of the Corporation, under the original Act, was to be not less than four and not more than ten. This is to be not less than two and not more than six. That seems to be quite a considerable reduction and it is right that there should be such a reduction. The Scheme is reduced, and the number of those to be in charge of that Scheme will consequently be reduced.

If I may deal with both Amendments together, I would say that they seem to me to tend to cancel each other out to some extent. One of them says that the membership is large and the other says that it is too small. We may, therefore, be correct in considering that we have struck the happy medium between the two extremes. The reason for having four is, first, that there will be two members who are remaining on the Board who will have had previous experience of the working of the Board, and we think that their experience will be invaluable. Second, we wish to add to them a representative of the Tanganyika Government and a representative of the Colonial Development Corporation. I think that Members on all sides of the Committee are agreed that it would be desirable to have those representatives.

We think that four will be the right number, at any rate at present, but we are not necessarily tied to having four permanently. The Bill says that it may be advisable that there should be more. On the other hand, it might be advisable that there should be fewer, but we think that four is the most suitable number at present, having regard to the fact that we want to retain on the Board two existing members, a representative of Tanganyika with local experience and a representative with experience of the Colonial Development Corporation. We wish to have that representation. We do not think it will be in any way top-heavy.

I do not want to score a point, but it is fair to say that there are boards of private companies which have quite as many and more members, and which are performing a rather smaller function than is being performed by this body.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

And are making profits.

Mr. Dugdale

Some make profits, some do not. But I think it is correct to say that there are many private companies much smaller than the Corporation which have many more directors, and no one says that they are top-heavy. It is recognised that it is necessary to have a reasonable number of directors, and I do not think it can be said in any way that this is a large and top-heavy organisation. It is a considerable reduction on the previous one, and I ask the Committee to accept the number as being perfectly reasonable for conducting what is still a relatively large organisation.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

In resisting the Amendment the Minister has indicated that it is the intention of the Government that this organisation shall not be top heavy in future. Could the right hon. Gentleman substantiate that statement to some extent by indicating what are to be the headquarters' expenses, if I may so term them, of this organisation as compared with those of the present set-up? If he were to give us practical examples or practical data of how he proposes to implement the intention not to have the new organisation top-heavy it would be a substantial reinforcement of his argument to us.

Mr. Dugdale

I should be going rather wide of the Amendment if I did what the hon. and learned Member suggests. The Amendment deals with the Board of directors and that is the subject with which we are now concerned. All I am speaking about is whether the Board of directors as such is top-heavy or not. Just as the Board should not be top-heavy so the other central parts of the organisation should also not be top-heavy. In considering the Amendment we are concerned only with the Board.

It is important that the whole body of men working in this new organisation should have the feeling that there is not a top-heavy Board of directors sitting there, weighing down the whole Scheme. I do not think that what is proposed is a top-heavy Board. I cannot see that a directorate of four can possibly be called top-heavy for such a very large organisation as this.

Air Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)

The right hon. Gentleman referred to free enterprise, but when a free enterprise company fails, usually the bank takes over and the board goes. The bank puts in its nominees and the whole company is reorganised from top to bottom. I should have thought this was a case for a clean sweep, and that if continuity was required it would be better to bring home the brightest man we have in Africa. That would give far more confidence to the staff there and at home if he was allowed to use his direction and knowledge.

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is going nearly far enough. A great amount of public money has been lost and the public is concerned. As my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) said, we have to give confidence to the staff so that they feel that they are not let down. I would ask him to go much further, to give the whole company a good shake up and to start fresh from the beginning.

Mr. Alport

The Minister mentioned that one of these directors was a representative of the Colonial Development Corporation. I understand that the reason

for that was to ensure that the operations of the Overseas Food Corporation do not overlap or conflict with the operations of the Colonial Development Corporation. If I am right in saying that both these corporations are, in fact, under the responsibility of the Colonial Office surely it is the duty of the Colonial Office to prevent any over-lapping of these two subsidiaries for which they are responsible. Surely the director representing the Colonial Development Corporation becomes unnecessary in these particular circumstances.

Have the Government considered the possibility of associating the East Africa High Commission in any way with this project, because it seems to me that some form of liaison—after all, this is concerned with research—should be maintained between the East Africa High Commission and this new Corporation.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 193: Noes, 162.

Division No. 46.] AYES [8.43 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Delargy, H. J. Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Alien, Scholefield (Crewe) Donnelly, D. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Dye, S. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Awbery, S. S. Edwards, W. J (Stepney) Johnson, James (Rugby)
Ayles, W. H. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Johnston, Douglas (Parsley)
Bacon, Miss Alice Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Bartley, P. Ewart, R. Keenan, W.
Bonn, Wedgwood Fernyhough, E. Kenyon, C.
Benson, G. Finch, H. J. Kinley, J.
Bing, G. H. C Foltick, M. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Blenkinsop, A. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Blyton, W. R. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Boardman, H. Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Bowden, H. W. George, Lady Megan Lloyd Lewis, Arthur {West Ham, N.)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Gibson, C. W. Lindgren, G S.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Gilzean, A. Longden, Fred (Small Heath)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Glanville, James (Consett McInnes, J.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Gooch, E. G. McKay, John (Wallsend)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Granville, Edgar (Eye) McLeavy, F
Brown, George (Belper) Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Brown, Thomas Once) Grey, C. F. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Burke, W. A Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Malialieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E)
Burton, Miss E. Griffiths, Rt. Hon James (Llanelly) Mann, Mrs. Jean
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Grimond, J. Manuel, A. C.
Carmichael, J. Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.
Champion, A. J. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mellish, R. J.
Cocks, F. S. Hamilton, W. W Middleton, Mrs. L.
Collick, P. Harman, W. Milchison, G. R.
Collindridge, F. Hargreaves, A Monslow, W.
Cook, T. F. Harrison, J. Moody, A. S.
Cove, W. G Hastings, S. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hayman, F. H. Morley, R.
Crawley, A. Herbison, Miss M. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Hobson, C. R. Mort, D. L.
Daines, P. Holman, P. Moyle, A.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworch) Murray, J. D.
Darting, George (Hillsborough) Houghton, D. Nally, W.
Dairies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Hoy, J. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hubbard, T. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Deer, G. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Oldfield W. H.
Oliver, G. H. Royle, C. Wallace, H. W.
Orbach, M. Shawcross, Rt Hon. Sir Hartley Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Padley, W. E. Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Weitzman, D.
Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly) Simmons, C J Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Slater, J West, D. G.
Pannell, T. C. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Parker, J. Snow, J. W. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Palon, J. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Popplewell, E. Steele, T. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Porter, G. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Proctor, W. T. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Sylvester, G. O. Williams, David (Neath)
Rees, Mrs. D. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Reeves, J. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Thomas, David (Aberdare) Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Richards, R. Thomas, George (Cardiff) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Robens, A. Thomas, lorworth (Rhondda, W.) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Thurtle, Ernest Wise, F. J.
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G. Younger, Hon. K.
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Vernon, W. F.
Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Wade, D. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks
Alport, C. J. M. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Raikes, H. V.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Higgs, J. M. C. Rayner, Brig. R.
Arbuthnot, John Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Redmayne, M.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Baldwin, A. E. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S)
Bell, R. M. Hirst, Geoffrey Robson-Brown, W
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hollis, M. C. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Hope, Lord John Roper, Sir Harold
Birch, Nigel Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Russell, R. S.
Bishop, F. P. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Ryder, Capt. R. E. D
Black, C. W. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lawisham, N,.) Scott, Donald
Bossom, A. C Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Bower, Norman Hurd, A. R. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hutchison, Ll.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Gurney Hutchison, Colonel James Snadden, W. McN.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Jones, A. (Halt Green) Spearman, A. C M.
Bullock, Capt. M. Keeling, E. H. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A. Lambert, Hon. G. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Channon, H, Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Lindsay, Martin Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clyde, J L Linstead, H. N. Storey, S.
Colcgate. A. Llewellyn, D. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Studholme, H. G.
Cranborne, Viscount Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Sulcliffe, H.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. McCorquodafe, Rt. Hon. M. S. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Teevan, T. L.
Crouch, R. F. McKibbin, A. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Cundiff, F. W. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Deedes, W. F. Macmillan, Rt Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thorp, Brig. R. A. F.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Tilney, John
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Maitland, Cmdr. J. W Touche, G. C.
Drewe, C. Manningham-Buller, R. E. Turner, H. F. L.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Turton, R. H.
Fisher, Nigel Marshall, Sidney (Sullen) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Maudling R. Vosper, D. F.
Fort, R. Mellor, Sir John Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Foster, John Molson, A. H. E. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Monckton, Sir Walter Walker-Smith, D. C.
Gage, C. H. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S.(Cirencester) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Gammans, L. D. Nield, Basil (Chester) Watkinson, H.
Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Nutting, Anthony Webbe, Sir Harold
Gates, Maj. E. E. Oakshott, H. D. Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Odey, G. W. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Harden, J. R. E. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Wills, G.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Osborne, C. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Perkins, W. R. D. Wood, Hon. R.
Hay, John Peto, Brig. C. H. M. York, C.
Heald, Lionel Powell, J. Enoch
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Digby and Mr. Edward Heath.
Mr. Gammans

I beg to move, in page 2, line 38, at the end, to add: (5) The Secretary of State shall make regulations for ascertaining, verifying and recording particulars (whether relating to subject matter, value, ownership or other matters) of the assets, property, rights and liabilities of the Overseas Food Corporation. The purpose of this Amendment is quite clear. We would have wished to have a clean break with the past, and that, whatever activities are now carried on in East Africa, there should be a new start. However, that has not been found possible, but surely we must insist upon some sort of record of the assets, so that we shall know exactly what is being handed over to the new enterprise, and so that the taxpayer shall know exactly what sum of money should be written off.

I think the only way in which we should regard this Committee tonight is that we are, in fact, a meeting of shareholders of a bankrupt concern. It is a meeting of shareholders who do not hope to get even a farthing in the pound. The general manager has been sacked, the chairman has done a flit and a new chairman has been appointed. I am not blaming the right hon. Gentleman for what has happened in the past, but in his own interests, apart from the interests of the taxpayer, he surely ought to know exactly what he expects to take over.

The Committee must not mind if we on this side are a little suspicious of this business. I think the shareholders have every right to be suspicious, because there are one or two figures here which we do not quite understand. During the Second Reading debate, the Minister of Food said that the amount which had been advanced already was £35½ million, excluding the money advanced to the Corporation and loaned to the East African Railways, and also excluding £1,500,000 which had been advanced to the Food Corporation in Queensland. At the same time, we are asked to write off £36½ million, but that does not add up.

Are we to understand that there is nothing whatever in East Africa left from this gigantic "fizzle" which is of any worth whatever? Are we to understand that the railways, harbours, movable assets like trucks and machinery, are worth nothing at all, because if the new body, or the Corporation in its new guise, is going to take over these assets, surely that fact ought to be known; otherwise, they will be starting with hidden assets. I should be very surprised if there were not several million pounds' worth of assets to be taken over. Surely, that should be known, so that the new Corporation, or the Corporation in its new guise, should be properly capitalised, and should not be unfairly capitalised to the detriment of the taxpayer.

There is also this business of unavoidable commitments of about £4,500,000. I suggest that that is a tidy sum to be covered by the description "unavoidable commitments." What are these commitments? We have not been given any idea of what they comprise, whether they are contracts in respect of service, or contracts in respect of work to be done. We suggest, therefore, that there is only one way in which the new Corporation can take over. It is only fair to the right hon. Gentleman, in taking over this bankrupt concern, that he should know exactly what, in fact, he is taking over, and it is for that reason that we should like to give him, not only the power, but the obligation to make regulations for ascertaining, verifying and recording particulars…of the assets, property, rights and liabilities of the Overseas Food Corporation. We think he should do that, and that, when he has done it, the figures should be placed in front of this House. For heaven's sake let us be businesslike at some stage in this concern; in winding it up, let us at least know what are the assets, and what, in fact, the new Corporation is taking over.

Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)

I wish to support the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) in his plea that some order should be introduced in ascertaining the assets of the bankrupt organisation which we are liquidating tonight, and also that we should know what the assets of the new Corporation are to be. I have always been one of those who advocated the banding over of this Corporation to the Colonial Office, though I realise that it is only a question of changing donkeys when crossing the stream. But we have got to cross the stream somehow, and up to now we have had no indication from the Government as to how we are to get across, or how we are going to dispose of the assets of the old Corporation.

I am rather concerned about this matter, because I know that there must be considerable assets of the old Corporation, even today. We want to know where they have gone. I happened to be in Africa about a month ago, and I heard some very surprising stories there. I was not in Kongwa; I kept away from there because I knew the wails and howls I should hear from the people who had been greatly let down over the scheme. But I went as far afield as Kenya and Central Africa.

Among the things I heard was the rather surprising way in which the assets of the old Corporation were being disposed of. It appears that the equipment, and so forth, had been sold off in lots by auction, and the complaint was made by people who genuinely wanted some of that equipment for their farms, that they were not told in time when the sales were taking place. The result was that some people who camped on the site until the sales took place snaffled up the equipment at knock-out prices and sold it overnight at an enormous profit. The people who were genuinely in need of such equipment regarded it as a scandal that only 48 hours' notice was given before the sales took place. We have all heard about the sale of thousands of bottles of gin, whisky and other assets. [An HON. MEMBER: "Liquid assets."] Therefore, I think it is frightfully important that these things should be cleared up and that this Committee should be told what, if anything at all, is in the Minister's mind about how he is going to dispose of these assets.

9.0 p.m.

It is very vital that British prestige should be maintained, even if there is not much prestige left for this British Government in East Africa today. One has only to go out and hear what the people there have to say about this Government—people on all sides and of all colours and creeds. They are all having a great laugh about this scheme, although it is nothing for the British taxpayer to laugh at. The Africans are laughing at it and so are even the monkeys in the trees. As far as I can see, the monkeys are the only ones who have anything to laugh about, because they are the only ones who will benefit. The few nuts there have been, the monkeys have got. [Laughter.] I am very serious about this.

It is very important, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey said, that we should tidy up this funeral and try to see that something is saved from the mess. I hope that somebody will tell us tonight by what manner and method it is intended to ascertain the assets of the old company and, having ascertained them, what is going to be done with them. It is only fair to the British taxpayer that, if anything is left over, it should be disposed of in a fair and orderly manner and the proceeds paid to the British Exchequer. Is that going to be done or not? Nobody has told us.

We have been told that a great proportion of the equipment was promised to the Tanganyika Government. Do the Tanganyika Government want it? Are they going to have the pick of it, and in what manner is it going to be disposed of? I have a fear—and I have seen this happen before with Government disposal —of very valuable equipment being allowed to lie in the sun and rot for years. I have seen it in Nigeria and other places not long ago. Transport worth millions of pounds was allowed to lie out in the sun until it was practically falling to pieces. That is a thing we must avoid in this case, and I hope the Minister will tell us in what manner he proposes to deal with what assets remain of this bankrupt organisation.

Captain Duncan (South Angus)

I was not in the last Parliament and, therefore, I was not able to intervene in the long debates that took place on groundnuts. This is my first attempt at discussing this bankrupt organisation which I find on my return. Here is an opportunity for Parliament to regain the control it lost over the Overseas Food Corporation, because in this Bill and with this Amendment it might be possible not to lose all, or at any rate to lose less; of the £6 million than the Government have succeeded in losing of the £36 million.

It seems very unfair to start the new book with an unlimited liability that might appear after examination of the accounts in the old book. My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), asked about hidden assets. I am much more frightened of hidden liabilities. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) talked about things being sold at a very heavy depreciation to anybody who came along. Has adequate depreciation been set against those sales in the accounts? We do not know. On pages 16 and 17 of the White Paper certain sums for depreciation are set out. We have no idea whether they are enough or not. Therefore, I think it is most unfair to the new Board that is to take over the continuation of this business to be saddled with undisclosed accounts of the old bankrupt board.

There is one other point to be mentioned in connection with this Amendment. It would help Parliament in the future to see that the £6 million which is to be spent will be spent in the best way; and it will do one other thing: it will bring much more prominently to the attention of all concerned, including His Majesty's Government, the importance of keeping proper accounts.

Mr. Frederic Harris

I strongly support the Amendment. When the Colonial Office take over this Corporation on April Fool's day they will know exactly what they are taking on. I feel that the Colonial Office should look very carefully into the suggestions which have been made that the disposal of surplus plant, machinery and assets belonging to the British taxpayer may not have been carried out as satisfactorily as all of us would have wished. I have had my attention drawn to an instance where some plant was disposed of by private tender. It eventually went to some Indians, and in a very short time it was sold by those Indians by public tender at a profit in the region of £4,000. I feel that this matter has been skated over far too lightly, although many of us have tried very hard to ascertain the truth of the rumours of scandal that have gone on, on this issue in particular.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Can the hon. Gentleman say how much was involved in the transaction when the profit of £4,000 was made?

Mr. Harris

I cannot say exactly, but I think it was in the region of £10,000. I am only instancing a point that has been brought to my notice and which I think is worthy of some serious consideration. If the Government would invite suggestions from people in East Africa who know something of what has been going on, they would very quickly be furnished with some definite information which might be worthy of serious consideration.

My hon. Friend, in moving this Amendment, has done a great service to all concerned, including the people of this country. At this stage we should call a halt and ascertain whether everyone is satisfied with the general disposal of assets which must continue for a long time. It is common knowledge that the buying has been utterly fantastic. Mention was made humorously, although it is apparently quite true, of one issue alone—pink gin—of which apparently there is 75 years' stock. It might be useful for some members of His Majesty's Government to look into this situation.

I suggest that the buying has gone astray—I do not think many hon. Members would attempt to deny it—and that, as a result, there are vast stocks to be disposed of in East Africa. Many of us have seen this plant and these assets deteriorating terribly in East Africa, either at the docks or on the site, because it has not been possible to use much of it. I think there is a fair excuse for much of that, because as the scheme broke down many of the original purchases came forward and many of these assets became redundant. The point is, having become redundant, what is happening to them? This is what my hon. Friend is trying very hard to ascertain.

I strongly support the plea that action should be taken by the Colonial Office to ascertain the assets which the new authority will have to take over from 1st April. It would not be out of place to make the most thorough investigation on the spot about the disposal of materials. Until the Colonial Office are fully satisfied that the disposal is proceeding in accordance with what they themselves would desire, I suggest that all such disposal of assets should temporarily be stopped. Then the Colonial Office will know exactly where they stand and we can start entirely afresh, to the satisfaction of the people of the Colony itself, who will know that the Colonial Office have this matter properly in hand. The Colonial Office could consult the local administration to see whether they would like any of these assets. It may probably be that in present circumstances much of the assets could beneficially be returned to this country.

This Amendment is very important and I hope it will be so regarded by the Government. Much lies behind it. Without going into a great deal of detail, I suggest that it would not take long for the Colonial Office to be satisfied that these unfortunate happenings have been taking place. It is as well that we should know where we stand and should know that any scandal which might have arisen in the past will be avoided in the future.

Mr. Dugdale

It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I intervene now, not to stop the discussion but to clear up one or two matters. We on this side of the Committee are just as anxious as hon. Members opposite are to see that we have a full account, so that we know exactly what we are taking over—assets, liabilities or anything else. It is essential that we should have such an account.

The reason why we cannot accept the Amendment is that we think it is unnecessary. In the first place, the Secretary of State can already obtain any of this information under Section 9 (4) of the Act, which reads: The Corporation shall furnish to the responsible Minister such information and returns relating to the property or activities or proposed activities of the Corporation or of others by whom activities are carried on or are proposed to be carried on with their assistance or in association with them…as the responsible Minister may from time to time require, and shall afford to him facilities for the verification of information furnished by them in such manner and at such times as he may require. That gives all the powers necessary.

In the second place, all the assets of the Corporation have already been recorded and valued in detail on the basis described in the last two annual reports and audited balance sheets of the Corporation. I refer hon. Members to those reports so that they can see for themselves that that is so.

Control of capital assets is retained by the Secretary of State, under Section 10. and the Corporation maintains a register of fixed assets and an inventory of furniture. Whether that inventory contains all that the hon. Member for Croydon. North (Mr. Frederic Harris), would like —including the liquid assets—I am not quite certain. I am sorry to hear that there is a possibility that pink gin may deteriorate. I thought pink gin was made on the spot at a given time, but if there is a large supply of pink gin, I hope it will not deteriorate, and I do not think it is likely to deteriorate.

I should like to mention one point raised by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald), who was concerned about the disposal of equipment and thought that opportunities might be missed by the Government of Tanganyika and by other East African Governments who might not take full advantage of this disposal. I can assure him that we have had this matter very much in mind and that both the Government of Tanganyika and the East African High Commission are fully acquainted with the position and are examining it to see what assets may be of use to them, so that nothing of value will be lost.

9.15 p.m.

Sir P. Macdonald

Will a complete inventory be made before any disposals take place, because there has not been a complete inventory of lots sold off?

Mr. Ellis Smith

There was an allegation that there was £4,000 profit made upon a £10,000 sale.

Mr. Dugdale

An inventory will be made of any assets there are; considerable inventories will be made. It is obviously necessary that there should be an inventory, and an inventory will be made of those assets which are not disposed of, because it is necessary to have an inventory to discover what the assets are before one can dispose of them. That seems to be a reasonable assumption.

However, I think that the main point which really will satisfy hon. Members is that there will be an account duly audited up to 31st March—that is, up to the last day before the change over occurs. That account will appear, and will be published—a duly audited account—and hon. Members can then examine it and see whether it gives all the information they desire. There will be such an account. There have been accounts in the past, and there will be a final account before the change over. That being so, I cannot see that it is necessary to have any other powers to audit or to consider any further accounts.

Mr. Gammans

In this account, who will do the valuation? Everything depends upon that. Will it be the same body that is now running the show or will it be an outside body? If it is an outside body, then, I admit, the right hon. Gentleman will have gone a very long way towards satisfying us.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

May I ask another question on the same point? In this White Paper, in page 12, there is an item of estimated net credits for utilisation and sale of surplus stores and equipment. Who arrived at that figure? Was that arrived at independently? Is there ground for believing that any independent check has been made, so that we can be quite certain that the new undertaking is going to take over something that somebody has valued in a proper manner?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I wish that the Minister of State had been more reasonable. I can assure him that there is nothing sinister in this Amendment. We are on the verge of a new venture. It does not look as if it is going to take the form we should have liked, but it is a new venture, and if this Bill becomes law we shall give it loyal support, and we shall hope for its success. We do not think this is the right way to do it, but if it is to be done this way, through the Government's temporary majority, then there is nothing that we can do about that at this moment, and we want it to succeed. It will best succeed if it starts with clear public appreciation of what its assets and liabilities are, and it surely would be immensely to the advantage of the Government if this appreciation were to be independently arrived at.

The right hon. Gentleman quoted the Act of 1948, with which many of us are familiar, and he quoted from Section 10, but that Section deals with the disposal of the capital assets: it does not deal with valuation. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman meant to refer to Section 9 (4), under which The Corporation shall furnish to the responsible Minister such information…as the responsible Minister may from time to time require… Both by Section 9 and Section 10 the Minister may ask for information, but he is not obliged to do so. It is the word "may" I would stress in that sub-section. He is not obliged to do so. We want to make that mandatory, and, surely, that is not unreasonable.

After all, the scandals that have happened—and that is not too strong a word to use—the monstrous waste of £36½ million of public money at this moment of all others in our history—this scandalous affair—has occurred despite the protection of Sections 9 and 10 of the Act of 1948, which have always been there, had they been of any use. The stories that we are now unearthing bit by bit from the Government have happened in a situation protected by Sections 9 and 10 of the Act of three years ago. These are really valueless protections; we want to carry it a great deal further and to get more protection, and that is the point behind our Amendment.

I said that it would be to the advantage of His Majesty's Government that this information should be known. We are, after all, more concerned with the taxpayers—for all of us in this Committee ought to speak for the taxpayers, who cover every section of the community —than we are with the fortunes of this particular Government. None the less, it is, or should be, to the advantage of the Government for this appreciation to be arrived. The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) made a long speech on Second Reading, in which he used phrases like this: we have laid down the harbours, railways, roads, towns and hospitals. He also said, a little later: The £36,500,000 represents in great part solid assets which are now established in East Africa. He also said that this £36½ million is calculated to revolutionise world food production."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February. 1951; Vol. 484, c. 1157–8.] I fear that the last assumption is not correct, but it might be correct that the £36½ million in great part represents solid assets which are now established in East Africa. We do not think that is true. But if it is true it might go some way to meet the criticisms of the Government scheme, and we want to know it. That is why we want an independent inquiry.

Mr. J. Hynd

The hon. Gentleman quotes me as saying "in great part." He surely recognises it is true that there are these railways, harbours, towns and hospitals, so that in great part it is true.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by a great part of the £36½1 million. Would he say that £20 million was a great part?

Mr. Hynd

I would.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Then if an independent inquiry elicited the fact that there were solid assets worth £20 million in East Africa, what a wonderful answer for the hon. Gentleman to give at the forthcoming election to people who call out "Groundnuts" at him and say that he has wasted £36½ million. If he can turn to his interrupters—and they will be legion; far more hecklers than groundnuts—and say "On the contrary. An independent inquiry has now shown us that we have £20 million of solid assets in East Africa." What a wonderful answer that would be. It would not necessarily matter if the assets were in the wrong part of Africa, if the hospitals were somewhere where there are no Africans, or will not be soon; he would not worry about a detail of that kind: they would be solid assets. More seriously, it would be to everybody's advantage to know how much of this money does represent solid assets. So much for the assets part of our Amendment.

We are concerned also with the rumours of these swift sudden sales. I must confess that we have no proof about this, but rumours are floating round and they ought to be nailed and answered. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald), has mentioned that in the groundnut area there are already sales going on of which very little notice has been given so that people from a wide area, anxious to buy, have not had the opportunity of getting there. I hope we shall have some information about that, because it is a matter of great importance, and if it turns out to be an unfair charge we shall be quite delighted.

The last part of what I want to say relates to liabilities. The two Cabinet Ministers present seem to be so busy getting advice that I am afraid neither will have heard what I was saying. I was about to deal with something more near the interest of Ministers than assets, and that is liabilities; they know more about liabilities than they do about assets. We want to know what the liabilities are. We have had the most extraordinary confusion on this matter. Paragraph 17 of the White Paper tells us that it would be as expensive to wind up the scheme altogether as to carry it on under these new proposals. If that is true it is a very good argument indeed, but we have had no proof whatever that it is true.

The Minister of Food, on 20th February, said: —the Corporation calculated that the heavy liabilities they would have had to meet for breach of contracts and other unavoidable commitments would have been about f4,500,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 1089.] We were very surprised at this, and we asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would tell us how that could possibly be true. We knew that £400,000 was put on one side for compensation for loss of office, and we hope that will go to the lower paid people as well, and not entirely to some of those responsible for the difficulties which have arisen. We hope that will be so. But £400,000 is a long way off £4½ million.

What did the right hon. Gentleman say when he came to give the detailed explanation which we wanted. He said: If we were to abandon the Scheme now, the sum of £4,500,000 would have to he spent in paying compensation for broken contracts of employees. There was a gasp of incredulity in the House, as anyone who was present will well remember. We had read the proposals carefully, and we knew that the sum was really £400,000. The Minister had multiplied it ten times and made it £4,500,000. He realised that that was not quite right and went on to say: If it were to be abandoned, I presume that hon. Members opposite would want us to pay compensation for supply contracts that would then he broken "— That is another possible sum— and there would be the cost of liquidating the assets and the paying of compensation to the contractors. All those together, if we were to abandon the Scheme would cost £4,500,000, from the best estimate that is available."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 1200.] If the Government have got the best estimate they ought to let us have it. There is the feeling that because they are so deeply involved in contracts carelessly entered into they are paying good money after bad and asking the Committee to condone the practice. If they have an answer, an independent inquiry will show it. That inquiry has been turned down. We content ourselves with a more modest request and that is that there should be an independent valuation of the liability, so that we shall know where we stand, because it appears to us inconceivable that a sum approaching £4½ million is necessary for broken contracts and things of that kind on a scheme, the total cost of which is expected to be only £6 million. It is because of these facts that we feel very strongly indeed about this Amendment.

Mr. Dugdale

I hesitate to intervene again, but I do so in order to give a reply to the last point raised by the hon. Gentleman, which, I think, was also raised by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans). He was concerned with the question of the cost of possible closing down. The figures were, in fact £4½ million: Payments to staff, compensation, the salary of staff awaiting passage, and the cost of passage to the United Kingdom, £1,650,000; cost of liquidation of stores, £1½ million; compensation for breaking up of commercial contracts, £1,400,000—a total of approximately £41 million, excluding the railway.

Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)

What does "payments to staff" mean? How many months' payment in lieu of notice does that represent?

Mr. Frederic Harris

What is meant by "cost of liquidation of stores"?

Mr. Dugdale

It must cost something. One cannot say "Hey presto" and it all goes like that.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Further to that point. The intention to abandon the scheme, modify it and bring it forward in this form has only recently been arrived at. When an hon. Member suggested that there had been hasty sales in East Africa, the right hon. Gentleman looked very indignant. If there had not been sales how does the right hon. Gentleman know that he is going to lose £1½ million on sales? How does he arrive at the figure of £1½ million? Cannot he even make the sale of stores pay, or are the Government already losing from the sort of sales to which we have drawn attention?

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Dugdale

No, Sir, I did not laugh at the idea of there having been sales. Of course, there have been sales, and some of them have been successful and some not so successful. What I did rise to say was that I think the Committee on all sides are agreed as to what we want to do. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, we are agreed. We want to have a proper account of the position, and be absolutely certain what the position is when the Corporation passes from the Ministry of Food to the Colonial Office. We want to have no doubt about it and we want everybody to know, including Parliament and people. That is what we want, and I take it that that is what the Opposition want. If they do not, that is another matter.

We are satisfied that we have enough powers to be able to ascertain all these facts and to make them public. We are determined to use those powers. We will look at this matter again before the Report stage, and if we find that the Opposition are right and that we have not sufficient powers we will make the necessary alterations to ensure that we have those powers. That is what I mean when I say that our aims are the same. We think we have the powers; if we find the Opposition are right, we will have the matter attended to.

Mr. Gammans

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the extraordinary principle that he is enunciating? It is the principle that the bankrupt should be allowed to value his own assets and then go on using them. Why should he rejoice in claiming a lower standard of morality for public affairs upon the spending of public money than any Government would tolerate in a private individual?

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Government have not used any of these powers? Here are the figures we have been given, and if these powers have not been exercised, how do the Government know that they are adequate?

Mr. Dugdale

I have not suggested that the Government have not used them, but I am rather inclined to the view that the Opposition are not using the knowledge vouchsafed to them in this Report and which will be vouchsafed to them on 31st March when the final Report is published. Then the Government and the Opposition can see what the position is.

Air Commodore Harvey

The right hon. Gentleman has said that he is satisfied that the Government have sufficient powers. We on this side of the Committee are not satisfied that the Government are using any powers. We have no confidence in this Government any longer. We do not want an assurance on the Report stage; we want the assurance tonight. What have the Government got to lose on this Amendment? Absolutely nothing, for it ensures that the new set-up starts off with a clean sheet.

I am far from satisfied with the way in which this equipment is being disposed of. The right hon. Gentleman referred to equipment being sold in Africa. It may be that other Colonial Governments would like some of the equipment, and are even prepared to pay more for it. The public have invested and lost £36½ million, and I have always understood in my short Parliamentary career that our first duty was to take care of the taxpayers' money. While I am very willing to help other Colonial Governments in Africa, I say let us have some charity at home in these hard-pressed days in Britain, and if we can get more for this equipment in Malaya and Pakistan, let us do so.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us a proper assurance that this equipment will be advertised in the whole Commonwealth? Do not be in a hurry to get rid of it. Prices are rising, and, unfortunately, we are in an inflationary period. On stocks which amount to something like £1½ million, a very big profit can be made by waiting a few months. Is it true—I am only passing on what I am told—that compensation amounting to £50,000 has got to be paid to a firm for fertilisers? I do not know that that is true—it may not be—but whether it is free enterprise or not, it is still the taxpayers' money. I earnestly suggest to the Government that they bring in an outside firm, very experienced in carrying out valuation, so that the new set-up starts on a proper basis with equipment valued by an independent body.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) said that for the Corporation themselves to value their own equipment is quite irregular. My memory goes back two or three years ago when the auditors, for some reason or other, refused to sign the balance sheet. I am not satisfied with this. There will be great difficulty in getting the accounts to put before the House; we shall have to wait a very long time for them, and when that happens it will be the party on this side who are in power.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

If the figures that have been put to us rang true or sounded sensible, we might be prepared to consider sympathetically what the Minister has just said. He told us that the estimated cost of disposing of such stores as are to be disposed of was £1½ million. That is a very extraordinary figure. Would the Minister say that 10 per cent. of the proceeds of sale was a reasonable figure for the costs of selling? If the percentage is, in fact, 10 per cent., it means that the right hon. Gentleman is selling £15 million worth of stores. If it were 5 per cent., the total would be £30 million. What is the total amount of stores that is to be sold, the cost of selling which is to be £1½ million? It must, clearly, be an enormous amount of stores. I do not believe that there is that enormous amount of stores to be disposed of at all, but if there is, surely the Committee ought to be told. We cannot accept an amazing figure of this kind without further explanation.

Mr. W. Fletcher

I am very puzzled by this £1½ million loss on the disposal of stores and I think that we ought to know a little more about where, and of what type, they are. If in the middle of Africa a person aims a bulldozer at a groundnut and misses, he will have to pay very heavily for his bad shot, because nobody wants to buy a derelict bulldozer 50 miles from a railway. The price which one will get for it is governed by the cost of transport to some place where it can really be of use. Anyone who, on the other hand, had a few cases of gin, pink or even red or blue, fairly near a large town in Africa which might be short of drink, would get a particularly good price and make a profit. But a loss of £1½ million on stores—using one word to cover them—is in itself a measure of the lack of grasp by the Government of what this problem is.

Harbours, ports and railways which are built in a tropical country deteriorate at an appalling rate if they are not used every day. The Minister referred to our having seen a great many figures in the last two balance sheets, which occurred at an interval of about 12 months, but the rate of deterioration of stores and equipment which are not used for 12 months can be something appalling. That is offset to some extent by the rise in price of practically every sort of stores throughout the world.

I should feel very much more satisfied and think that the Minister was being more reasonable if he would say, not only that a figure was to be put before us on 31st March, but that he was going to use these permissive powers which he has by saying, "The first time I use them will be by appointing here and now—" or within a month from now, or within a week if necessary—" an independent valuer." That, surely, must be for his own assistance and satisfaction.

The picture which I have tried to draw, of the vast variation that there must be under this one heading of stores may open in the Minister's mind a slightly new vista. Small stores can be shipped for disposal in a great many places. It is, therefore, common sense—but it may be alien to the ideas of the right hon. Gentleman of the way to do things—to protect himself, the taxpayer and everybody else by bringing in any well-known outside firm of valuers, or appointing a special valuer, quite independent, to give the House and everyone else a breakdown of the whole of this stores question and all the other losses which have been incurred. Then he could come to us and say, "I have been reasonable; I have used my permissive powers in the right way"—and we on this side of the Committee would then be pretty nearly satisfied.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Mr. F. Willey)

Of course, the Minister of Food is at present responsible and it might help the Committee if I gave a little detail about the present arrangements regarding the disposal of surplus stores. Before I do that, I should make clear to the Committee that all the assets of the Corporation have already been recorded and valued in detail and that information can be obtained from the Annual Reports. Messrs. Cooper Brothers were the auditors. It was as a result of the comments of Messrs. Cooper Brothers that the Public Accounts Committee paid a good deal of attention to this, and the whole issue was very largely a question of storekeeping, which is relevant to the issue of assets that we are discussing. Inquiry has been made from time to time as to what inventory the Corporation have. The answer is that the Corporation have a fairly satisfactory inventory at the moment.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe


Mr. Willey

I will give way in a moment. At present the Corporation are disposing of surplus stores. If this Bill is approved by Parliament, the Corporation will have further surplus stores to dispose of, but this disposal will not be a new problem; it is being dealt with now. The bulk of stores which are surplus at the moment, and will in the future become surplus, are in East Africa. The Board have made arrangements in East Africa that the bulk of these surplus stores will be disposed of through the agency of the East African Stores Disposal Board. That Board is an official body reporting to the Economic Secretary and through him to the Administrator of the East African High Commission. The Board of the Corporation has representatives on it from the East African Governments and from commercial interests. That is the body which is dealing with the surplus stores which the Committee has been discussing.

In order to dispose of the stores to the best advantage of the Corporation, this disposals board has an office at Dar-es-Salaam to handle O.F.C. surplus stores. Through this office very close contact is maintained with the East African Governments and with all the main commercial interests. Lists of stores being disposed of are notified, first to the East African Governments, then to the Dar-es-Salaam Chamber of Commerce and then to the accredited East African agents of the various types of equipment being disposed of. I cannot for the life of me see why the Committee should be so ignorant of this, because the Board could do little more to make the stores being disposed of more widely known in the proper quarters.

As well as this, a comprehensive monthly catalogue is prepared and, in addition to being circulated to the bodies I have mentioned, it is sent to all firms and organisations making major commercial inquiries. Over and above these steps in East Africa the London office of the Board supplies information to East Africa of market conditions and arranges contact from this country with the people in East Africa. In addition, the London office is in the closest touch with the Ministry of Supply, the Ministry of Works and the Board of Trade.

9.45 p.m.

The disposal of surplus equipment and stores in the United Kingdom is carried out by the London office, which again consults with the appropriate Government Departments, and also takes all the steps that it can to keep those who may be interested in the stores being disposed of fully informed. I hope that the statement which this discussion has given me the opportunity of making will help the Board to ensure that this information is widely known in those quarters which are interested in the stores which are being disposed of.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

Would the Parliamentary Secretary clear up one important point? He has told us the name of the auditors and no one would dream of questioning their integrity. But by whom have these stores and assets been valued? The auditors do not normally carry out the valuation. By whom and by what body have the stores and assets been valued? How does the hon. Member know that they are worth £1,500,000?

Mr. Ellis Smith

The Parliamentary Secretary made a clear statement and I hesitated to intervene in the course of it. Will he inform us who are the chief commercial interests?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

While the Parliamentary Secretary is thinking that one out or finding out the answer, I would say that it would have helped us and saved the Government some time had he given us that answer earlier in the discussion. At the beginning of the debate on this Amendment there was talk of there being nothing sinister, but as time went on I thought I began to hear the bucket rattling in the Government bucket shop. I think that Members of the Government have not taken sufficiently seriously this loss of £36,500,000. The Minister of Agriculture came in for a minute or two but he could not bear thinking of the £36,500,000 of fertilisers, machinery, etc., which have largely disappeared out there. I represent an agricultural constituency and my constituents take this matter very seriously. They want to know what we are doing to ensure that there is proper accounting. Had such accounting as this gone on in private enterprise, proceedings would not have ended solely in Carey Street. I should like to put it to the Minister—

Mr. Hoy (Leith)

When the hon. Member makes that criticism of the accounting, is he criticising the firm of accountants which dealt with the accounts of the Overseas Food Corporation?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

It is the valuation of these stores that we are talking about. We want to see an independent valuation.

Mr. Hoy

But did not the hon. Gentleman say "accounting"? I wondered whether he was casting some doubt on the firm of auditors responsible for the accounting.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Of course not. What we want to press—and will go on pressing on the Government, I hope—is that there must be an exact accounting in the way we suggest. I cannot see that the Government stand to lose anything by accepting the Amendment. If the Government do not want the powers, they need not use them. This is only the first instance in which we in the House are to be called upon to go through these, as it were, bankruptcy proceedings, and we must get the situation clear so that we shall know what we are trying to do. I cannot see that the Government will suffer in any way by accepting the Amendment.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The Amendment seeks to give us powers to do something by regulation. We already have that power in a section of the Act which is not being repealed. My right hon. Friend read out that section. It gives the Minister power to call upon the Corporation to furnish all the particulars which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite wish us to secure. That is the first thing. We have all that power.

The second thing is whether we shall use it. From 1st April the responsibility for this scheme is transferred from the Minister of Food to myself, at the Colonial Office. It is obviously in the interests of the Colonial Office, who would have the responsibility, in the interests of the Corporation, of the new Scheme and of the House and the country, to see that when this transfer takes place on 1st April we start from that date with a clean record.

My right hon. Friend indicated I thought that, first of all, we have the power and, secondly, that we intend to use it, and if we feel that power ought to be more clearly defined and made mandatory we could look at that on Report stage. Until 31st March, when the old Scheme ends, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Food, until the change over comes on 1st April. It is in my interest that the future of this Scheme should be clear. We shall, on that date, have that power and we intend to use it. We are advised that the power we now have is ample for that purpose but to make doubly sure my right hon. Friend indicated that we would look at this again on Report stage. If the power we now have is not sufficient to secure the object we have in view we shall take the necessary steps to see that it is sufficient.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman said he would require the Corporation to furnish this information. He has the power to require facilities for its verification. He indicated that he was certainly proposing to ask for the information, but is he telling the Committee that he will also have that information verified?

Mr. Griffiths

The responsible Minister until the end of March is still the Minister of Food, but from 31st March onwards the responsibility falls on me. It is my intention in the interests of the new Scheme and in the interests of the responsibility I shall then have taken over, to see that all the necessary steps, including verification, are taken. If I speak about using my powers the Committee will appreciate that I have at present no powers except those arranged with the Minister of Food. My powers come into operation when this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

Mr. Lloyd

Including verification?

Mr. Griffiths


Captain Crookshank

Until the right hon. Gentleman spoke I was inclined to the view that the response we have had had not been at all satisfactory, and I was proposing to ask my hon. Friends to accompany me into the Division Lobby on this issue. But after what the right hon. Gentleman has said at the last moment I think it will be reasonable for us to pause a bit to see what he does propose to do.

He has pointed out that he has the powers in the existing Act. No one is denying that he has the powers or that the responsible Ministers have the powers. The point is, have they used them properly? Do they intend to use them? Our Amendment sought to make it mandatory for the Secretary of State to make the regulations which he has the power to do, and have the assets ascertained, verified and recorded. I agree that he has the power to do so, and we have been trying to press him to say he intends to do it. I understood from his last speech that he was intending to give the matter his attention between now and the remaining stages of the Bill. If that is so, then, according to the common usage of the Committee, it would not be right to press him on our Amendment if he is persuaded on the point. We attach particular importance—and I would remind him of it again—to having some form of verification other than that of the Corporation itself. That is an important point which, no doubt, he will take into consideration, as he said he would.

I appreciate that, as the Minister coming into this inheritance, which is not such a fine inheritance as all that, he wants to be certain at the date he takes it over that there are some assets, and that they are worth what they purport to be worth. He has said that he will look at this question and make sure of the position, and I ask him to weigh very carefully what my hon. Friends have so forcibly said on this Amendment. Had there been a general inquiry into these matters, one would have been fortified with further information.

If it could reasonably easily be managed that some part of this process could be taken out of the hands of the Corporation and put into some independent hands, I am sure that all of us who have in mind the interests of the British taxpayer would be more satisfied. In the circumstances, I hope that my hon. Friends will not wish to press the matter further now. If the Amendment were withdrawn we could, if necessary, resume the argument at a further stage.

Mr. Gammans

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Captain Crookshank

I beg to move, in page 2, line 38, at the end, to add: (5) If it appears to the Secretary of State to be in the general interest that all or any of the functions of the Overseas Food Corporation should he discharged by any other person, undertaking or authority, and that such person, undertaking or authority is ready and willing to discharge such functions, the Secretary of State may make regulations for the transfer of such functions and for the transfer (whether by sale or otherwise) of the assets, property, rights and liabilities of the Overseas Food Corporation or part thereof to such person, undertaking or authority and in such manner and to such extent as may he prescribed. This is the Amendment which we foreshadowed earlier today when we were discussing the possibility of the arrangements which ought to be made for winding up the Corporation. As far as I can see, there is nothing in the Bill which foresees the eventual completion of the work of the Corporation. Here we propose an Amendment, the general effect of which is subject to regulations, because in these matters we must preserve the ultimate authority of Parliament and yet in these semi-commercial affairs it is difficult to see that one can do it otherwise than by specific regulation.

That is why, in spite of the slight leg-pulling on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, we have had to fall back on a system of prescribing regulations. There is no other way in which the object we have in mind could be achieved. We want to give the right hon. Gentleman power which he has not got now to wind up the Corporation. We wanted originally to give the Corporation power to wind itself up, but that we failed to achieve.

We suggest that if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that it is in the general interest that all or any of the functions of the Corporation should come to an end or be discharged by somebody else, whether it is a person, an undertaking or an authority, he should have power to prescribe that under regulations—that is to say, subject to the assent of Parliament. If such person, authority or undertaking, is willing to take over, that should be done, after the necessary arrangements with regard to assets and liabilities have been made on conditions and under such arrangements as the right hon. Gentleman would wish. It might be by sale or it might not.

The Minister would be entitled to ask who we think might wish to take over some or all of the functions or the assets or the liabilities of the Corporation. We said something earlier about the possibility of the Colonial Development Corporation eventually stepping in to this inheritance. One of my hon. Friends made an extremely sensible suggestion that the development of that Corporation might eventually be on a geographical basis, and that it could bring within its ambit not only what it is doing already in East Africa but what will be the remainder of the functions of the Overseas Food Corporation.

That is one possible destination for part, or all, of this undertaking. Another might well be some kind of arrangement, possibly with the local colonial Government or possibly with the East African High Commission. I am merely throwing out various possibilities, because I do not know. What I want, and what my hon. Friends want, is that the Minister should have the power to shed all or any of the responsibilities and functions of the Corporation, should he so desire.

10.0 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman said just now that, personally, he would never consent to the handing over of any of these things to any form of private enterprise, but I hope he will reflect further about that, if necessary. After all, the Lord President himself, who is our chief mentor on Socialist thought on this matter, has constantly told us that there is a public sector and a private sector in industry, and that the two have to work together. It may very well be that some opportunities should pass from the public to the private sector.

Again, there is an instance which comes to my mind, because I heard it suggested when we were told that the Kongwa area was possibly going over to ranching. I understand that a firm at Dar-es-Salaam—a well-known firm, the Liebig Company, in which the Tanganyika Government has a half-share—has a canning factory. That is the sort of thing on which, possibly, a Secretary of State, even if not the present one, would be anxious to link up Government and private enterprise, for the use, on whatever terms may be agreed, of the ranching area. I do not know, but that is the sort of thing I have in mind.

The hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), who was joined by so many of my hon. Friends as well as his own, discussed possible co-operative developments in that area. If such developments occurred, in due course, would it not be quite reasonable for the Secretary of State to shed some of the functions of the Overseas Food Corporation to these other entities, if they emerge? Again, I do not know, and, of course, they may not emerge, but I am assuming that there was a basis in what he said which is of great value to the future. If that is so, it would be a pity if, through stubborn prejudice, the Overseas Food Corporation could not release some of these areas or divest itself of some of its functions to the advantage of such bodies.

Having given these instances, and I do not doubt that my hon. Friends could perfectly well add others to the argument, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will think that this is a useful power to put into the Bill, in that it envisages these three different lots of authorities who are residuary legatees to the Overseas Food Corporation, and which may be composed of private persons, undertakings or public or local authorities. This suggestion leaves it to the right hon. Gentleman, in due course and in his wisdom, to make the decision and ultimately wind up the affairs of this Corporation.

The more I think about it, the less convinced I am that this Corporation, with its limited functions in this vast area of East Africa, is really viable or can serve any useful purpose. It might have done had the original conception of 1948 gone on successfully, but I do not believe that there is room for it today. What we have to beware of in all these matters is a multiplicity of organisations and authorities, because we are gradually reaching the stage when the world seems to be governed by innumerable committees, generally of a semi-governmental nature, and the world is not getting on any better as a result.

We want to give the right hon. Gentleman a chance, if he will take it. If he does not take it, there will be no great harm done. We do not think that this has got to happen, but that it will be a great help to have these powers in the general interest. I am quite certain that, if the right hon. Gentleman looks upon it in that light, he will be only too anxious to accept this Amendment, and, if he does so, I am quite certain that it will improve the Bill, which I do not think is a very good one, anyway.

The Chairman

Before the right hon. and gallant Gentleman proceeds, I should be grateful if he would made one point clear. Am I right in thinking that the next following Amendment should be taken in conjunction with the one which is at present under discussion, and that that Amendment will fall in the event of the first Amendment not being passed? I gather that some assurance has been given that both these two Amendments should be discussed, but it seems to me that the second is consequential on the first. Am I right in thinking so?

Captain Crookshank

As it stands now, Major Milner, this is the ultimate end. If the right hon. Gentleman is dispossessed of all the functions, then we say that there must be something in the Bill to show that the Corporation ceases to exist. The two Amendments can certainly be argued together, if that is any convenience to the Committee, because it seems to me that unless the right hon. Gentleman is given power to transfer or dispose of these assets, the circumstances envisaged in the second Amendment cannot arise. We put down two separate Amendments in case separate Divisions or discussions were desired.

Mr. J. Griffiths

It is very pleasant to hear, after all the statements and charges about this being a completely bankrupt concern with not a penny to its name, and with no goods anywhere, that what the Opposition are now so concerned about is who is going to get what is left. So there is something left, after all. I am glad to see that hon. Members opposite have become converted to delegated legislation, and, I hope, therefore, that in future we shall have less opposition to such legislation from the party opposite.

The power to which I am now referring —not whether it should be used, or how it should be used—is already in the 1948 Act. This is merely an amending Bill, and therefore leaves certain Sections of the original Act unrepealed. If hon. Members will turn to Section 10 of the 1948 Act, they will see that it says: The power of the responsible Minister to give directions to the Corporation shall extend to the giving to them of directions—

  1. (a) as to the disposal of capital assets, of
  2. 2229
  3. (b) as to the application of proceeds of such disposals"—
and so on— Provided that directions as to the application of proceeds of disposal shall be given by the responsible Minister with the approval of the Treasury. The position, therefore, is that as from 1st April these powers will vest in me.

Captain Crookshank

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman took legal advice on this point. What he has just read out refers to the disposal of capital assets, but what we are talking about in this Amendment are the functions of the Corporation, and the functions, as amended, will be found in the new Clause 2 (1). The Minister could dispose of the assets, but he would still have the Corporation on his hands while he is doing what he is supposed to do in Clause 2 (1).

Mr. Griffiths

As I understand it, this would give me power by regulation to dispose of and hive off any of the activities of this Scheme. My advice is that that is covered by the Clause, to which I have already referred, in conjunction with paragraph 9 of the Schedule to the 1948 Act. That is the position.

I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment, and I do so quite apart from the legal aspects. As I understand it, the powers to which I have referred would allow me, if I were so minded, to do what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Amendment provides; but I am of the view, as I have already said, that from 1st April the Colonial Development Scheme will become an experiment in Tanganyika which we all hope will be a success. I am convinced that whenever we come to discuss the future of this scheme it must be after discussion with the Government of Tanganyika. We all admit that the original and very laudable purpose of the Scheme was to meet the food shortage of 1947. It failed to do that, and we all admit it.

In the future the value of this Scheme is to the people of Tanganyika. What will happen to any part of it or to all of it in the future is, in my view, clearly a matter which I ought to decide after discussion with the Government of Tanganyika itself. If at that stage some major change is required, I do not think it would be right or desirable to make that change by regulations. I think we should come to the House and make it as a big decisive change by legislation. I therefore ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Alport

It strikes me, from the last words which the Secretary of State has spoken, that he is regarding this Scheme in far too parochial a manner. One sees from the White Paper setting out the aims of the Corporation for the future that one aim, in paragraph 12 (A), is To establish, by agricultural practices and scientific experiments, a pattern of agriculture which will utilise economically all the cleared land available and which, if successful, will point the way to future development. That means that, at any rate, the Kongwa experiment, as I understand it, is to be used for experimental agriculture. I think the same applies to the Southern Province and to Urambo. It would be very reasonable indeed if that were one of the purposes. But this form of agricultural research is surely the responsibility primarily of the East Africa High Commission. If it is not at present, it would be very efficient and economical if this type of central research were added to the responsibilities of that High Commission. That being the case, surely the right hon. Gentleman should think of the future of this Scheme in the context not simply of Tanganyika but of East Africa as a whole.

Mr. Griffiths

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I think we are at one in this. If I talk of Tanganyika, it is because the Scheme we are discussing at present is there; but, as he appreciates, under the new régime the Overseas Food Corporation will have the right to operate in East Africa.

Mr. Alport

May I, then, follow from that point? It will not only have the right to operate in Tanganyika but, as the Secretary of State says, in East Africa as a whole. Therefore, it seems to me appropriate to have this new Scheme linked more closely with the East Africa High Commission than it is at present. After all, the East Africa High Commission already carries out very considerable responsibilities on behalf of all three territories. Those responsibilities are not only of a financial nature, and, from the point of view of communications, closely bound up with the future of the existing Scheme, but they are also, as I have pointed out, closely linked with it from the point of view of agriculture itself.

I should like, therefore, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the fact that he already claims to have power of devolving responsibility and disposing of assets, he is prepared to consider placing the Overseas Food Corporation as it affects East Africa at the present moment—which is really the territory to which his activities are to be confined—in closer conjunction with the East Africa High Commission. I asked earlier, on another point, whether it would be possible to have a representative of the East Africa High Commission on the Board of Directors. I do not develop that point because it is out of order, but I think that a link between the Corporation and the High Commission is an important matter which the Secretary of State should consider.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I hope it will not be felt that we are wasting time by examining this proposition carefully. This is a very important matter. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman, he opposed this Amendment on one principal ground. He sets aside the legalistic arguments of his Department and opposes the Amendment on this ground. He says, "Sooner or later, perhaps, we shall have to enter into negotiations with the Tanganyika Government, and if I am ever going to pass any part of this over to the Tanganyika Government it must not be done by regulation, which is what this Amendment proposes. Therefore, I oppose the Amendment."

That does not seem to me to be reasonable. If the right hon. Gentleman does not like the method of regulation perhaps he would agree to some other method. The point we want to insist upon is that he or his successors shall be free, if they think it wise and if they are so advised, to shed some or all of the functions of this body to other appropriate bodies—for example, the Tanganyika Government. We are only asking him to take power to enable him to do that. He says that his lawyers advise him that he has got that power. I am not a lawyer, but I am certain that there is not a Member in the House who is convinced by the report which the right hon. Gentleman gave of his lawyers' advice. I do not think Clause 10 can, under any conceivable circumstances, be said to give him the power which is proposed in the Amendment.

Let us consider the kind of situation that might arise. We are to undertake, according to the White Paper, a scheme of large-scale experimental development to establish the economics of clearing and mechanised or partially mechanised agriculture under tropical conditions. The clearing is not going on for ever. I do not think the clearing can go on for seven years. There is not a great deal of clearing proposed, and I fancy that it will all be done in a matter of a year or two if this Scheme proceeds. The main thing which will be left will be mechanised or semi-mechanised agriculture.

There are three different and quite distinct areas in Tanganyika—Kongwa, Urambo and the Southern Province. Some of us have seen all three of them some of us have examined all three of them, and they are all quite different. It is surely conceivable that it might pay the right hon. Gentleman and be of infinite advantage to the development of Tanganyika if he got competitive examinations going—if, for example, the Tanganyika Government said, "We will take over Urambo and we will compare our experiments with your experiments in Kongwa." It might be that some other Government or Department would take over the Southern Province.

I asked the right hon. Gentleman, earlier, why he turned down that proposal, and he did not answer me. We have had no reference to that question. My hon. Friend has put it to him again, and I am reinforcing it. Here is the Colonial Development Corporation, with six schemes already in the area about which we are talking. The machinery is there, and so is the administration. What is the Colonial Development Corporation? It has run into a bit of bad luck in. the Gambia area, but let us remember that a great Scotsman, Lord Reith, is at the head of the Colonial Development Corporation. It is under new management and, I think, very good management. I say, as I said on an earlier occasion, that, by and large, the Colonial Development Corporation have proceeded with their schemes with a great deal of caution and good sense, and, with the exception of the Gambia—

The Chairman

We really cannot go into all these detailed matters. The question is really a simple one. If the hon. Member will forgive me, I hope he will confine himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Stewart

My point is this. Here is a body to which, in the interests of the scheme, of East Africa, of the House and of the nation, it might be wise to give part of this Scheme to handle. That is all we are arguing. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us why he refuses to give one of his Socialist bodies a chance to do some of that work. Surely he believes in it to that extent. Why does he refuse, at any time at all and in any circumstances, to give himself the power to invite that body, among others, to do some part of this work? His refusal does not make sense, and unless we are given a satisfactory reply I hope we shall divide the Committee.

Mr. Beresford Craddock

With very great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I do not think that he has the powers that he seems to think he has—powers to dispose of the functions of the Overseas Food Corporation. According to the Section of the Act which he read, he has the power to dispose of assets, etc., but not the power to dispose of functions, and it is to that question that we wish to draw attention.

It appeared to me that some such provision as this would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. If I may say so with respect, after having watched him in the House in the past year I would say that he is a very shrewd person, and I should have thought that an Amendment such as this would have provided him with an opportunity, if this Scheme does not meet with the success for which we all hope, to get out of the difficulty. As the right hon. Gentleman well knows from what I said last week, I do not think the schemes envisaged in the White Paper will be a success. I may be wrong, but if I prove to be right, then an Amendment such as this would enable the Minister to make other arrangements for carrying on. Might I draw the Minister's attention to the White Paper in which these schemes are outlined? Kongwa remains at 12,000 acres and—

The Chairman

I do not think that that question arises on the Amendment.

Mr. Craddock

I am only trying to show how it would be prudent, if the present schemes broke down, for the right hon. Gentleman to have some means of changing them.

The Chairman

I fully appreciate that, but the hon. Member is apparently about to deal with various districts and details and with what might or might not be done. He is entitled to do that in general terms but not to go into details—as indeed I indicated to another hon. Member.

Mr. Craddock

I bow to your ruling, Major Milner. There is little further I can add, except that I think the sum which will be needed will be very much larger than the £6½ million proposed. If that is the case, the right hon. Gentleman may want to make other arrangements. The Amendment would give him those full powers without his having to come back to ask for them.

Captain Duncan

I approach this question as a Scotsman. It seems to me that the right angle at which to approach this business is that of trying to get back as much as we can of the money which the Government have poured down the drain. The Amendment seems to give the Government an opportunity to do that. The Secretary of State says that on 1st April he will have the right, but not the duty, to dispose of assets. I do not think he has the right to dispose of the functions.

The functions can be as great a liability as the assets can be of value in the other direction. Perhaps I may give an instance. There is a very good hospital at Kongwa, and if the management and cost of running it were taken away from the new Board and accepted by the Tanganyika Government, that would amount not only to the disposal of an asset but also to the disposal of a function. That is why we want to make quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman can dispose not only of assets but also of functions. In that way we might not only help His Majesty's Government to do what we all want to see done, but we might also have a better opportunity of getting our money back.

Mr. Frederic Harris

I shall not detain the Committee more than a minute, but I think that as this is a very important Clause it would be a great pity if the Amendment were rejected by the Secretary of State through an error of judgment. He has the power—of course he has—for the disposal of assets; but as to the transfer of functions, I certainly subscribe to the suggestion of one of my hon. Friends that, in due course, the West African High Commission may come into this picture, and we do not believe ourselves that the Secretary of State has

power to transfer functions at the present time.

If he has been wrongly advised, would it not be a very good thing to admit it, or to admit the possibility of it, and to meet us on this point? It would be a great pity to mislead the Committee, albeit unknowingly, in a belief that we ourselves do not consider is capable of substantiation.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 128; Noes, 150.

Division No. 47.] AYES 10.26 p.m
Alport, C. J. M. Heald, Lionel Powell, J. Enoch
Arbuthnot, John Heath, Edward Redmayne, M.
Baldwin, A. E. Henderson, John (Catheart) Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Birch. Nigel Higgs, J. M. C. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Bishop, F. P. Hill, Dr Charles (Luton) Roper, Sir Harold
Black, C. W. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Russell, R. S.
Bossom, A. C. Hirst, Geoffrey Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Bower, Norman Hollis, M. C. Scott, Donald
Boyle, Sir Edward Hope, Lord John Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cmdr. Gurney Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Buchan-Hepburn, P, G. T. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A, Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N,.) Spearman, A. C M.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hutchison, Lt.-Com. dark (E'b'rgh W.) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Keeling, E. H. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Craddock, G. B (Spelthome) LeggB-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Cranborne, Viscount Lennox-Boyd, A. T Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Linstead, H. N. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral Storey, S.
Crouch, R f. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Cundiff, F. W. Macdonald, Sir Peter(I. o' Wight) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Deedes, W. F. McKibbin), A. Studholme, H. G.
Digby, S. W. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Sutcliffe, H.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Maclay, Hon. John Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Teevan, T. L.
Drewe, C. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Creydon, W."
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Fisher, Nigel Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Turner, H. F. L.
Fletcher, Waller (Bury) Manningham-Buller, R. E. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fort, R. Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Foster, John Maudling R. Wade, D. W.
Fraser, sir I. {Morecambe & Lonsdale) Mellor, Sir John Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Gage, C. H. Molson, A. H. E. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Monckton, Sir Walter Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Morrison, John (Satisbury) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Gammans, L. D. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S.(Cirencester) Wheatley, Major M. J.(Poole)
Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Gates, Maj. E. E. Nield, Basil (Chester) Wills, G.
Granville, Edgar (Eye) Nutting, Anthony Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Grimond, J. Odey, G. W. York, C.
Grlmtton, Robert (Westbury) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. O.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Osborne, C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harris, Reader (Heston) Perkins, W. R. 0. Major Conant and Mr. Vosper.
Hay, John Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Acland, Sir Richard Boardman, H. Cullen, Mrs. A.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Bowden, H. W. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Darling, George (Hillsborugh)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)
Awbery, S. S. Burke, W. A. Davies, Harold (Leek)
Ayles, W. H. Burton, Miss E. Deer, G.
Bacon, Miss Alice Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S) Donnelly, D.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J Castle, Mrs. B. A. Dye, S.
Bartley, P. Champion, A. J. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Bonn, Wedgwood Collindridge, F. Evans, Albert (Islington, S W>
Benson, G. Cook, T. F. Evans. Stanley (Wednesbury)
Bing, G. H. C. Cove. W G Fernyhough, E.
Blenkinsop, A. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Finch, H. J.
Blyton, W. R. Crawley, A. Follick, M.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Molnnes, J. Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. McKay, John (Wallsend) Simmons, C. J.
Gibson, C. W. MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Slater, J.
Gilzean, A. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Snow, J. W.
Glanville, James (Consett) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Sorensen, R. W.
Gooch, E. G. Mann, Mrs. Jean Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Manuel, A. G. Sparks, J. A.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. Steele, T.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon James (Llanelly) Mellish, R. J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Middleton, Mrs. L. Sylvester, G. O.
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Mitchison, G. R. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Monslow, W. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Hannan, W. Moody, A. S. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Harrison, J. Morgan, Dr. H. B Thomas, Iorworth (Rhondda, W)
Hastings, S. Morley, R. Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
hayman, F. H. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Thurtle, Ernest
Herbison, Miss M. Moyle, A. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Holman, P. Nally, W. Vernon, W. F.
Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Wallace, H. W.
Houghton, D. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford. C.)
Hoy, J. Orbach, M. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) West, D. G.
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Parker, J. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paton, J. While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Janner, B. Pearson, A. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Johnson, James (Rugby) Porter, G. Whiteley, Rt. Hon W
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Proctor, W. T. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Pursey, Cmdr. H. Williams, David (Neath)
Keenan, W. Rees, Mrs. D. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Kinley, J. Richards, R. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Roberts, A. Wilson, Rt. Hon Harold (Huyton)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wise, F. J.
Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Younger, Hon. K.
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Ross, William (Kilmarnock) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Lindgren, G. S. Royle, C. Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Delargy.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.