HC Deb 28 February 1951 vol 484 cc2076-8
33. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the general strike in Grenada; and on the circumstances which led to the landing of marines.

34. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement regarding the situation in Grenada; how many casualties have occurred; and what steps are being taken to restore order.

36. Mr. Fitzroy Maclean

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding the situation on the island of Grenada.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I would refer to the statement I made on 26th February and deal more fully with certain points raised.

The widespread strikes began on 19th February. Parties from H.M.S. "Devonshire," including marines, were landed on the 22nd in view of the internal situation. They have taken over guard duties at vital points thus freeing the police to concentrate on the essential task of restoring order. Four more cases of personal injury have occurred. There have, in addition, been numerous cases of widespread intimidation including the intimidation of witnesses.

Two persons have been detained under regulations made under an Emergency Order-in-Council to counter the threat to public safety and order. They will not be brought before the courts but will be released when the emergency has passed. Nine arrests have been made for unlawful assembly: and those convicted have been fined and bound over. The stoppage originated at Belmont, La Sagesse and Hope estates. No agricultural station has been burned.

I am making arrangements for my Labour Adviser to go to Grenada within the next few days, but I wish to emphasise again that nothing can be done to deal with the underlying causes of these disorders until the disturbances have ceased and there has been a general resumption of work. When that has taken place negotiations can be started. Those who have allowed themselves to be misled into these acts of violence are doing great harm to the island and to their own interests.

Mr. Hynd

Were the disturbances started after the leaders of the strike had been arrested? Would my right hon. Friend consider releasing those leaders as a possible way of getting the disturbances stopped?

Mr. Griffiths

This is a matter which I must leave to the discretion of the Governor on the spot. When I answered a question the other day I made an appeal —in which I am sure we all join—that there should be an end of the disturbances and a resumption of work, so that we can then go fully into whatever are the causes of the dispute.

Mr. Eden

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the disturbances are, to the best of his information, purely local, or whether there are any wider symptoms? I am sure he will agree that there is much anxiety at these conditions and at the resulting riots, which do damage not only to the island but to the good name of the West Indies and to the happiness of their people?

Mr. Griffiths

As far as my information goes, they are purely local in origin. I do not think they have any connection with any events outside the island.

Mr. G. Cooper

Could my right hon. Friend say how long in advance of the disturbances actually breaking out he was advised of a situation probably arising which might cause such trouble?

Mr. Griffiths

For some time there has been a dispute between these two unions. Actually, these strikes began without any application being put forward and without any kind of wage demand or any other claim at all. The strikes were just called. Therefore, there has been no tangible request to us to which we could give any consideration or negotiation.

Mr. Eden

I am sorry to press the right hon. Gentleman, but would he not agree that although there may be a dispute between two unions, and even good reasons for that dispute, it is really no excuse for outbreaks of disorder of this kind, which do thousands of pounds worth of damage as well as damaging the good name of the colonial administration?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, Sir. I think I emphasised that today and the other day. I have called upon all to cease the disturbances so that investigations can take place. I am sending my Labour Adviser out there to examine the situation.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

The right hon. Gentleman used the words "negotiations which will take place after the disturbances have come to an end." Did he mean political or industrial negotiations, and in either case, surely, these are matters for the local authorities? Is he expecting that his Labour Adviser will take part other than in an advisory capacity?

Mr. Griffiths

He will take part in an advisory capacity. When I said negotiations, I meant industrial negotiations.

Mr. Brockway

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether I heard him correctly in saying that there have been no deaths and that the number of injuries are limited to four?

Mr. Griffiths

What I said was that four more cases of personal injuries have been reported since I made my last statement.

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