HC Deb 05 March 1951 vol 485 cc137-63

(1) On the first day of January, nineteen hundred and fifty-two, an independent committee of four members shall be appointed by the Secretary of State from names submitted by:

(2)This independent committee shall investigate and report upon the expenditure, development, and results of the Overseas Corporation in East Africa from the date the Corporation is taken over by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and their report shall be submitted by the Secretary of State to Parliament before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and fifty-three.—[Sir W. Smiles.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Sir W. Smiles

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I would begin by calling attention to the time of the appointment and of the report of the proposed committee. The committee would not begin to investigate until 1st January, 1952, and the report would be submitted by 1st January, 1953. It is extremely probable that by that time there will be another Government, and I certainly should not introduce this Clause if I did not think that it would help and not inconvenience any Government which might be in power.

In one of the speeches which he made on this Bill, the Secretary of State for the Colonies said that nobody in East Africa knew more about agriculture in that part of the world than did the people who were working on the Groundnuts Scheme. I realise that the right hon. Gentleman knows all about coal mines and that if I went to Wales or anywhere else to look at coal mines, he would, quite rightly, pay no attention to anything that I had to say. When it comes to tropical agriculture the position is different, however; I have spent a great many years of my life in it.

These independent inspections which I propose are usual in tropical agriculture. The inspectors are sent out nearly every month, and certainly every year. Many companies which have big plantations in the East—in India, Malaya, Ceylon and elsewhere—send out skilled inspectors who understand tropical agriculture. These are independent inspections and these men report at least every year.

I can recall in 1905, which is a long time ago, going out as assistant to a tropical scheme in Assam, and I can remember an independent inspector being sent from London to inspect the scheme on which I was working. I remember the superintendent and the manager tearing their hair because this man was coming out, and saying, "We know far more about it than anybody else for we have been working on the place." Nevertheless, he inspected the land and ordered 400 acres to be abandoned at once.

Afterwards, we went into lunch. As the junior assistant I was less than the dust beneath the chariot wheels, and they were all talking over my head. The inspector said, "I do not care what you say; I have been sent out to inspect this plantation, I have inspected it and given my report. If the directors do not like to take that advice, they need not. "The discussion ended with a first-class row. Twenty years ago I visited the same plantation and saw those 400 acres. The manager, who by then was another man—of course, he was a Scotsman—said,"If it had not been for the fact that that man came out and inspected, this place would have been bankrupt." As I say, it is no new thing to have independent inspectors. Friends with whom I have discussed this matter have suggested that we should have expert tropical advisers from the Colonial Office to do this work but I cannot accept that. Dog does not eat dog. Such agricultural advisers from the Colonial Office would not make a bad report on one of their own kidney.

If hon. Members look at the Clause again they will see that the first names are to be submitted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Since the Cohen Committee reported, all of us in private enterprise are the slaves of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. We dare not move an inch without carrying our chartered accountants with us. If our books and inventories are not right and if our stores accounts are not right, they immediately tell us what to do before they sign the accounts, because under the new law the members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants have to be very careful indeed before they sign any company's report.

Secondly, I suggest that names should be submitted by the Institute of Civil Engineers. All tropical agriculture largely depends upon civil engineering, and also upon mechanical engineering—on the men who know how much horsepower is transmitted by 10,000 revolutions a minute of a crankshaft. But for some of these civil engineers I do not believe that any of the great rubber plantations or tea plantations or sisal plantations could ever have been developed at all.

My third suggestion is that names should be submitted by the Indian Tea Association. That is a body of planters, but I do not mind a bit. I do not mind whether it is the Indian Tea Association or the Malayan Association or any other association of the sort that submits the names; except that I do not want an association from Africa, because there is no use in a man making a bad report on a place when perhaps he is to meet the manager's wife at the club afterwards, because if a bad report is made, then there is bad blood in the community and things do not work out well. It is much better that the nominating body and the inspectors should come from 300 or 400 miles away, so that they have no social intercourse in the ordinary way with the managers of the plantations. I do not much mind whether the Indian Tea Association is chosen or not, but I do say that these people have had 100 years of opening up tropical plantations, and they know to a decimal point of a rupee how much it should cost, and they are always out to make profits and not losses. I know that that is a bad thing to say to hon. Members opposite, but perhaps they will pardon me.

Next I suggest that names be submitted by the Minister of Agriculture of the Dominion of Canada. I am advised that in Canada mechanical clearing by tractors and bulldozers is far more advanced than in any other part of the world, and that there are men there who really can advise and really do know how much these schemes should cost. I ought, perhaps, to say that one of these men should be a Scotsman because, as I mentioned before, the best planters in the world—and I know a thousand I suppose—come from Aberdeen. I do not know what Aberdeen is like, but I think life must be so hard there that any place in the world is a paradise for those people. We used to say of those chaps from Aberdeen that if they were caught in a brick trap outside the foundries of Aberdeen, they would have a bottle of whisky. Anyhow, those men do know how far a rupee goes and how to get value for it.

I say that this new Clause which I am moving will honestly be a help to any Government. If the present Colonial Secretary is still in office in January, 1953, then I say, with my hand on my heart, that it will be of assistance to him; and if, as I think will be the case, it is my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the Committee who are sitting on the benches opposite, then I say that it will be of assistance to them also. This new Clause is moved only in the interests of the hard-worked taxpayers of (his country.

Mr. F. Harris

I want to support my hon. Friend's proposed Clause. I want to do so with some fairly detailed explanation. If I had had the privilege of catching Mr. Speaker's eye on Second Reading, I should have endeavoured to make very clear then what is my own personal view about the second go at this scheme; and I should have said that I, personally, would have wished to sponsor a continuation of this Scheme if an impartial inquiry had been permitted, so that all of us, the Members of this Committee and the people in the country, could have had confidence in it—the confidence that would have come after such an inquiry into a very unhappy and large financial loss, before the second expenditure was embarked upon.

8.45 p.m.

As my hon. Friend said, in moving this Clause, we are really trying to safeguard the Colonial Office and the Colonial Secretary himself, now that they are about to take over the continuation of this Scheme from 1st April, even though it is on a smaller scale. I am sure that if he looks at it very carefully from that sensible point of view, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that there is nothing unfair in this suggestion. It is merely the safeguard that anybody in business often adopts in order to be satisfied that everything in the business is going according to plan. An impartial report from someone entirely apart from those officially running the Scheme that the Scheme is being handled satisfactorily, and that it has sufficient prospects, would justify the support of everybody concerned.

Acceptance of this new Clause would have the effect of stopping quite a lot of the arguments that arise from both sides of the Committee about what is unhappily happening with this Scheme. It must be recognised that there has been a considerable cutting down of the Scheme, and that it must now be handled on a very different basis. One thing many of us cannot easily overcome is the feeling of great uncertainty that has arisen over the last few years, and which still exists in a large degree. Those who have had any connection with the territory, have seen it for ourselves and have had personal contacts with those concerned, have been bombarded by letters giving us various bits of information which, on being checked up, have unfortunately been found to be correct.

If we are to go on with this Scheme, as apparently we are, we must have some additional security. It is a great pity that the original suggestion made from this side was not accepted, although I agree that that was not the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary. This new Clause would provide a safeguard which I should have thought every hon. Member would sincerely welcome. The cost would be very small. The people suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend to form the committee would be of great advantage in holding an impartial inquiry from time to time. There is no suggestion of their being rushed. The suggestion is that the committee should not be formed until the end of the year, and that it should not report back for the best part of 12 months, although the earlier the better. The effect of such a report would be to give everybody renewed and added confidence in meeting any type of criticism or any uneasiness we might feel about the success of the Scheme in future years not being fully ensured.

I hope the Colonial Secretary will appreciate our view on this. I, for one, would be content if he said: "In principle we accept the suggestion that we should have an impartial body to report back to us from time to time, but at this stage we cannot agree to the people whom it is suggested should form the committee." I can assure him that that approach would be accepted in the right spirit. I hope the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs will agree. I do not know whether he is going on any more visits to East Africa—and we will not touch on that at the moment—but it would be a grand thing for him, and for other Ministers, to have an impartial inquiry, which would cost very little. It would be something entirely apart from the Colonial Office, but it would be an assurance and safeguard to us all.

Many of us have watched this Scheme for a long time. We had debates on it in the House with the previous Minister of Food, and we asked question after question on things which we knew were happening in connection with the Groundnuts Scheme. We had to accept answers the effect of which showed that, either the Minister did not know what he was talking about or that, unfortunately, he had been very much misled. A typical example was the answer which he gave to a question about margarine. He considered that there were going to be tons and tons of margarine as a result of the Scheme.

We remember what we have gone through during the last two or three years in particular, the money which has been squandered, and the breaking down of many of the staff out there, who were imbued with the view that they were going to do something for the Colonies and who started off in that grand spirit. We know that some of the staff never took part in the Scheme when they arrived there, because they were so bitterly disappointed with what they saw.

There is surely an added cause why we should have the additional protection of an impartial inquiry. When we were asked to go ahead with this second jump, we were asked to do it through the White Paper, which was a sort of prospectus on which we had to decide whether or not we would go forward with any additional scheme. We on this side said that we wanted to consider it. I personally took the view that I could not support it unless there was an independent inquiry and report that the Scheme was likely to go through satisfactorily. One has only to turn to one or two points in the White Paper itself to realise the need for this safeguard, which is so essential. It says: The original aims of the scheme have proved incapable of fulfilment. That is not to say, however, that the scheme and the work which has been done on it are now valueless and should be abandoned. Another comment is: The Corporation have reported that they are unable to comply with the provisions of the Overseas Resources Development Act which required them to operate on a commercial basis. … Another comment says: The scheme if successful will point the way to future development. Time and again, when one reads this report, one has a feeling of grave un-happiness that this report was rather rushed out and that figures were put forward to influence us to go ahead with this new Scheme.

Those of us who took part in the Committee stage of the Bill the other day were surely very forcibly struck by the lack of information available all the way through on the question of accounts, and the belief that many of the figures which were produced were completely unsatisfactory. In fact, many of the Ministers, if they were frank, would have to say that they had not a clue about what was happening. They had to turn to their advisers, who did not appear to know much about it either.

That makes it all the more important that there should be some impartial body to report back to us and to give us the evidence which the people of the country want, and which I should have thought all hon. Members would want, and certainly the Minister would want, in order to be fully satisfied that if we go on spending money and the Scheme goes on it will be to the benefit of all concerned. Therefore, I conclude by hoping that the Colonial Secretary will accept the new Clause, in principle, although he may not agree with it in detail, bearing in mind that it has been put forward very faithfully to help all concerned.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)

I rise for a few moments to support the Clause. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will realise, after due reflection, what a tremendous advantage an independent committee of this kind would be to him and his Department. We touched on this question briefly during Second Reading. The right hon. Gentleman then took the line that there was no need for any fresh committees of inquiries and reports because there had been so many already. He instanced the Kongwa Working Party Report and the inquiry into the scheme in the Southern Provinces, and said that we could not challenge the integrity or wisdom of those who made these reports. No one would dream of so doing. No one challenges their integrity or competence.

I would point out, however, that local knowledge, however valuable, and no one doubts that it is so, tends, when overemphasised, to produce a rather narrow judgment. To give an illustration, I suppose that if there were to be a Royal Commission on betting, the Commission would not be composed entirely of bookmakers, although they would, of course, be adequately represented. The Kongwa Working Party was presided over by a director of the Corporation. I am not questioning their integrity, but it does give to the taxpayer, whose money is involved, a suspicion that an inquiry of this sort is something of an internal audit. From the psychological point of view, as well to protect the Minister and his Department from undue criticism, there is a good deal to be said for the setting up of an independent committee.

Mr. Rankin

I can appreciate the motives that have inspired this Clause, but I hope that my right hon. Friend will proceed on the matter very cautiously before he seriously considers accepting it. It would be fatal to this transfer if we overloaded the Minister and those who have to work with him with independent committees that will act as a sort of inspectorate in regard to almost every day-to-day action of the Corporation.

Sir W. Smiles

The Clause refers to only one inspection. It is not intended that there should be a continual inspection, although I think that if the right hon. Gentleman adopts the suggestion of an independent report he will wish to continue with it.

Mr. Rankin

The point I am seeking to make is that a committee of this nature must exercise in some form or another an overall inspection of the work that is going on in order to make its report; otherwise I do not see how the report can have any significance at all. If there is to be only one investigation, I fail to see why this should be contained in the Bill, because what is desired could be done by the Minister on his own initiative. There is nothing which is proposed here that gives to the Minister any power which he has not already got. By virtue of his position as Minister he can at any time appoint just such a type of committee to inquire into any aspect of the work.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Harris

The hon. Gentleman would agree, I am sure, that no such committee has ever been set up in the past when all these things were happening; and also the Colonial Secretary at the moment has not agreed to any such further check on the situation, which is why we are anxious to press this Amendment.

Mr. Rankin

I am not dealing at the moment with what has or has not happened. I understood that the theme now is, Come let us anew, our journey pursue. We were to start all over again, and I feel that it is not going to help if we are going to conscript and confine the working of the Development Corporation through a committee of this nature. As I have said, there is nothing in the Clause which cannot be exercised by the Minister in virtue of the responsibility which he has as a Minister, and there is nothing I hope that is going to detract from what should be the best control of all, the control by Parliament itself.

I have this further objection to the committee. Its personnel is far too narrow. The new Clause refers to a '…report upon the expenditure, development and results.… So far as expenditure and results are concerned, I would not question the claim that a committee of this nature is well qualified to deal with these aspects of the work, but where I differ is on the question of development. The development referred to here is concerned not merely with economic development in East Africa, but also with social development, and a committee of this nature, if it is to serve any useful function in that regard, must contain representatives of that section of the community who have wide experience of what social development actually means. That is lacking here. The committee is far too narrow, because it should include, if it is to serve any useful purpose at all, representatives of the trade union movement and of the wide body of public opinion outside this House which has interested itself in the social development of the Colony. In my estimation the Clause fails because it is too narrow.

Finally, I believe that if it were adopted then, in effect, it would be restrictive in the working out of what I think is the mission which we are going to give to this Development Corporation. I repeat, there is nothing in the Clause that cannot be done by the Minister on his own initiative. Also, Parliament ought to be jealous at any time of delegating any of the authority which it rightfully possesses to any committee however independent and however influential.

Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)

The hon. Member has just said that if such a committee as is proposed were set up, it would overload the Minister.

Mr. Rankin

No, I did not say anything of the kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I did not mean to say "overloading the Minister," and I did not realise that I had. I thought that it would be overloading the committee which is to be charged with carrying out this type of development work. I think that it would be overloading it.

Mr. Craddock

I must say, with respect to the hon. Member, that he did use those words, because I took them down. The real reason why my hon. Friends are proposing the new Clause is to stop the further overloading of the British taxpayer. I should have thought that from that point of view and in view of past experience, the Secretary of State for the Colonies would have no hesitation in accepting the new Clause.

I should like to refer him to one or two figures. The original scheme was to be the clearance of approximately three million acres at a total cost to the Treasury of £23 million. I assume that that is roughly for clearing, although it is not quite clear whether it was to be simple ordinary clearing or whether it included stumping and rooting. Be that as it may, the figures worked out at £7 per acre. According to the best calculations I have been able to make from the figures we now have, and taking in the £36 million which had been written off, it would appear that for clearing only the cost has been no less than £130 per acre. If these figures are even approximately correct I should think that the Secretary of State would welcome an investigation after a year's working of the new scheme.

Furthermore, it is contemplated that cattle will be introduced into the new scheme. There is no degree of certainty about it, because experience has not proved whether the type of grass grown in that part of the world will be suitable for cattle. Within a year, information will have been gained on that point. There is an important statement on page 13 of the White Paper, in connection with the Urambo Scheme. This is what it says: Financial provision is made in the plan to cover farming losses in Urambo up to 31st December, 1953. Surely we have had enough of these losses. It goes on to say: It is impossible to predict with accuracy what the results will be over so large a new estate, or how long it may take before production over the whole area becomes self-supporting. I suggest to anyone who has had experience in that part of the world that by the end of the present year it will be quite apparent whether the new scheme is to be a reasonable success or not.

For those reasons I should have thought that the Minister would like to accept a Clause of this Character, although I am not very happy about the proposed composition of the board of inquiry. I remember when I was embarking upon tea growing in East Africa that I consulted a very experienced tea planter from India, and that after the small experiment that we did venture, as a result of his advice, we found that the results came out all wrong. East Africa and tropical areas are sometimes extraordinarily difficult places to work.

On Second Reading the Minister challenged my right hon. Friends to say whom they would suggest for an inquiry. As a humble back bencher. I suggest that an inquiry composed of the following personnel would be a good one. It should be headed by Mr. Clay, of the Minister's own Department, who knows more about East African agriculture than any person in this country or anywhere else. In addition there should be three members of the Agricultural Service from East Africa, one from each of the three territories, and three European planters. After all, this is primarily an agricultural problem, and I feel that a body such as that, with the scientific and the practical combined, would be an excellent one to conduct such an inquiry. I sincerely trust that the Secretary of State will agree to some such Clause being inserted in the Bill.

Mr. John Grimston (St. Albans)

I also commend the Clause to the Minister. I belong to the still relatively small band of hon. Members who have visited all three of the schemes within the last six months or so. I am convinced from what I have seen and the discussions that I have had that a body of this kind would not only be of immense value to the Minister but would also be welcomed by the people on the job. If the Minister turns down a proposal of this kind, he will simply be cutting himself off from valuable and impartial advice of an entirely non-critical kind.

I very much hope that the Minister will accept this for another reason. I believe in the scheme and I believe that it can be made to go, but I still do not think it is on the right lines. I feel that would be the kind of advice the Minister would get from this type of body—no doubt widened to include the sort of people suggested by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) who would be acceptable to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles).

To come to the kind of practical point with which the body should deal, the Minister, when winding up the Second Reading debate, asked the Opposition if they felt there was a better man than, for example, Professor Frankel, to report on a matter of this kind. The Minister made great play with that. I would point out that Professor Frankel published a Minority Report on the Working Party suggesting various organisational changes which I believe should be made.

I disagreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) on one point. The agricultural side may very well have been settled, but I do not think that the size of the organisation and the overheads which this body still has to carry will be a tolerable burden for it. In the White Paper on the future of the plan it is proposed to carry on clearing at Nachingwea. This is admitted by everybody to be the uneconomic part of preparing the land; it is quite clear that felling is efficient. Yet for three years the Minister now proposes to carry on clearing, an uneconomic process, which must show him a financial loss. This kind of body might very well say that that was unnecessary. Another matter which the body would criticise would be the extremely high costs for the London office which is proposed. I do not believe that this kind of agriculture should have to bear anything on account of its London office. I have in my own home the London office of a fair-sized tropical agricultural undertaking, but that does not appear in our costs. I do not think this kind of agriculture should have to bear that kind of expense.

9.15 p.m.

The proposals in the White Paper will make the same mistakes in many respects as have been made by the original plan. It says there that the methods in existence at the moment are too expensive in relation to the value of the land produced. That is the Government's own criticism of its past performance but, as I think another hon. Member has calculated, the estimates we have been asked to approve will mean a cost of £70 per cleared acre in the Southern Province. That has to be compared with £5 and £6 at which land can be bought cleared in many other parts of Africa, and £3 17s. 6d. is what it will still cost cleared by mechanical means for the growing of sisal.

Those are the kind of questions that have to be faced by the Government, and the body suggested in this new Clause would be of great value to the Minister in helping him to make up his mind. If he has to economise, is it really necessary, for example, to have in the houses electric immersion heaters, built-in cupboards and cement bricks? All these are practical points on which the body suggested here would give the Minister good advice. Also a great deal of thought ought to be given to the allocation of overheads, again a highly technical matter.

The Chairman

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he appears to be dealing with the matter as though this committee is to give advice on what shall be done in the future. That does not seem to me to be in order.

Mr. Grimston

Thank you, Major Milner. I was not trying to deal with what will happen in the future but rather envisaging the committee criticising what has taken place in the past and, at the same time, trying to convey to the Minister where economies could be made. However, I will leave that aspect, though I think there is a great deal of advice which the Minister could get from a body of this kind based on past experience. I am certain that my hon. and gallant Friend does not want to tie himself to the particular form of nomination he has put forward. If the Minister, as I think, really wants to see this scheme a success in its future form, not only for his own benefit but for the benefit of the people in East Africa, I hope he will accept this proposal.

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

Perhaps it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I intervene to express my view on the new Clause. It is essential to realise that we are not now inquiring into what has happened. That was discussed previously. Indeed, it was the subject matter of the Division that we had in the House on the Second Reading, arising out of the Amendment moved by the Opposition. What is proposed is that this new Clause shall make it mandatory upon the Secretary of State in January next to set up a committee to inquire and to report to the Secretary of State by 1st January, 1953. I will not discuss the question whether, for the purpose of such an inquiry, the suggested names or institutions in the Clause are the right ones or not. In moving it, the hon. Gentleman said it was a matter which could be considered.

As from 1st April, subject to this Bill becoming an Act of Parliament, the new Scheme will begin. There will be a Corporation, about which we shall in due course be making an announcement, which will be housed in Tanganyika. There are questions of organisation, to which the hon. Member referred, which I shall be discussing with the Corporation when they get going after 1st April. They will then be putting into operation the Scheme which has been outlined in the White Paper, a scheme which has been recommended to us by the working parties to which I referred in my Second Reading speech.

I think it is accepted that, for the examination of a scheme of this kind, they were fairly competent bodies. The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) will be very glad to know that Mr. Clay, whom he recommended as a man who ought to be on any committee investigating this question, was a member of both committees, and that, therefore, I am accepting Mr. Clay's advice. The hon. Member for Spelthorne has already said that I could get no better advice anywhere in the world.

The Scheme will come into operation on 1st April. I shall have to submit the matter to the House of Commons at the end of the first year's working—that is, on 31st March, 1952. The Corporation will submit a report, which will be available to the House. We shall then have had a full 12 months' working of the new Scheme. We can discuss and debate the report. The Secretary of State will have to come here and speak about it and discuss it with the House.

Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)

When will the report be available?

Mr. Griffiths

I hope fairly quickly after 31st March, 1952—at the end of the first year. In the meantime, however, there will be a continuous opportunity for the House of Commons to keep itself informed of the scheme by Questions to the Secretary of State, about the admissibility of which we shall be making a statement when we reach the next stage of the Bill on Wednesday.

We have had our arguments and our quarrel about the past, so for a moment I put all that on one side. I want to begin on the assumption that we all desire that the new Scheme shall start as smoothly as is possible, with the good will of the House, of the country and of everybody in Tanganyika. So much depends for the people of Tanganyika upon the Scheme succeeding—far more than on which of us wins a political battle here. I repeat that in 30 years' time the population of this territory will have doubled. Somebody has to feed them and to bring their land under cultivation. We all agree, therefore, that the success of the Scheme is of vital importance to the welfare of this community, for which we have responsibility, and a responsibility which we want to carry through.

We are anxious that the Scheme should start in the best way. I am anxious that the new Corporation, if I may call it that, shall also start with good will. I do not think it would be a good send-off for the Corporation to tell them that, as from 1st April, we entrust them with the work on the spot and the Secretary of State becomes responsible for the Scheme, but that at the same time as we do that we are setting up a committee to inquire into it. It would be a very bad piece of psychology to do that. I make that my first point.

Secondly, if I appoint a committee on 1st January, 1952, the new Scheme will have been in operation only for nine months. There will not have been a complete 12 months' working. That would be too soon, and even if at some stage we thought—I do not dismiss the possibility that at some stage an independent inquiry by competent expert people may or may not be necessary—that an inquiry was necessary, I would reserve the right to initiate it to the Secretary of State. When I take that responsibility, I reserve that right for the Secretaries of State for the future; I reserve the right for the House; but it would not be right for us now to commit ourselves to an inquiry on 1st January, 1952, when the new Scheme will not have been in operation for a complete year.

It is a scheme on which all the experts agree that if we are to get a real chance to prove it a success or otherwise, a longer period is necessary. It will be subject to a review every year, as we shall be making by the annual report, and to a complete review at the end of three years in 1954. Subject to these two things, it is desirable that if initially the Scheme is a success, there shall be an understanding that it gets the opportunity of the seven years which everyone tells us is essential if we are to prove its success or failure.

Mr. F. Harris

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the new Clause suggests that we should get the report back within a year and three-quarters, so that the question of nine months is not very important from that aspect?

Mr. Griffiths

All I am saying is that at this moment I do not see any advantage—I have mentioned the disadvantages—in appointing a committee. For the reasons I have given, I think it would be a bad thing. If the committee were appointed in January, 1952, it would be making its examination after just nine months' work, which I am sure everyone will agree is not a long enough period. Within three months of the date on which it is suggested I should appoint a committee, by 31st March, 1952, the first 12 months will have been completed and shortly after there will be a report and an opportunity for the House to discuss that report. We can then discuss it calmly and consider whether it is then desirable that a committee should be appointed.

I hope that things will turn out so reasonably well that the House will agree that no inquiry is necessary, but if an inquiry were necessary, it could be made on the basis of consideration of the report for the first year. If we had that report and felt that, because of some unsatisfactory feature disclosed in the report, an inquiry was necessary, we should be in a much better position to judge who were the right persons to appoint to such a committee of inquiry.

For all these considerations, I hope the Committee will reject this proposed new Clause. I hope they reject it now, having had our quarrels about the past and having agreed to the Second Reading. I hope that the hon. Baronet will withdraw the new Clause. He knows there are safeguards, which I have described. Let us have 12 months' working of the Scheme and a report and then consider, in the light of the 12 months' working, whether an inquiry is necessary or otherwise; but at this stage to begin with an inquiry next January would be wrong.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

If the criterion for this Groundnut Scheme had been the reasonableness of Ministers' speeches, there would not have been any trouble. The Minister has given a very reasonable speech, but so did the Secretary of State for War make reasonable speeches. In the last three years we have had nothing but speeches of precisely the same character as that to which we have just listened.

First it is said that the idea of an inquiry which we have urged time and time again in the last three years would be of no particular advantage. The hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) said that it would be overloaded and restricted, just the words the Secretary of State for War made us accustomed to during all these years. Of course the Government says, "It will be a bother to us, leave the Corporation to manage." They have said that all these years and we now know that the House made a profound mistake in not insisting, against the advice of Ministers, upon an inquiry. We are not going to make that mistake any longer.

Our view is that too many pledges have been made and broken and too much is at stake now and in the future, even with the limited scheme, to allow this to go forward without making an inquiry, not only in the competence of the Minister, but mandatory upon the Minister. That is what this means. This new scheme is to be quite precise, it is to be, in the words of the White Paper: A scheme of large-scale experimental development to establish the economies of clearing and mechanised or partially mechanised agriculture. Does any one say, does the Minister say, that he yet knows the economies of clearing? Did not my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. J. Grimston), expose the complete confusion that now exists about the economy and the cost of clearing? That is one of the principal jobs of this new Corporation.

9.30 p.m.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles), who moved this new Clause, suggests with great wisdom that we should secure an expert on clearing. I know, as he does, that in Canada great works of this kind have been carried out on a massive scale. Great experience exists there about this problem. Why not ask the Canadian Government to let us have one or two experts who have done this very work? What is wrong with that? I should have thought it very proper that that should be done.

Then there is the economies of mechanised farming. My hon. and gallant Friend suggested, as did another of my hon. Friends, that we should ask some people who are experts in tropical mechanised agriculture to come and look at this scheme. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman telling us that we shall receive a report from the Corporation. The Corporation will tell us what they have been doing. They have been giving us those reports for a great many years but those reports have always been wrong. How can we expect the new reports to be—ߞ

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman now appears to be talking about advice. I understand the proposed new Clause to envisage a report which will deal with what happens between the time when the Bill becomes an Act and the date at which the report is to be presented. It has nothing to do with advice as to what the Corporation should do during that intervening period.

Mr. Stewart

It is to be a report on the first year's working of the new scheme. I am only suggesting that it would be wrong for the Committee to assume that the new Corporation or the minimised Corporation is any more likely to be right after a year than it has been in the past, and that, therefore, we need an independent inquiry on the next year's operations.

What is wrong with that? The right hon. Gentleman says that that is too early, but the Committee will be looking at the result of the scheme after it has been working for a year or indeed for 15 months. After the scheme has been going for that length of time is it not time to look at it and not let it continue on completely wrong lines for another six years? As the Corporation have done that in the past how are we to judge whether they are on the right lines now? There is not a scrap of evidence other than the word of the Minister and his advisory council that this scheme is likely to be right. It is just as likely to be completely wrong, and before we spend another £6 million or £7 million we should, like any ordinary commercial concern, have a look at it at the end of the first year.

I do not see how we can possibly do what the Minister suggests, and withdraw the new Clause. I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend will press it to a Division. We are here dealing with a matter of principle. Having been once bitten and misinformed—grossly misinformed, criminally misinformed—we have no right to put our heads in the lion's mouth again and proceed without an independent inquiry. Having made these gross blunders the Government should not be permitted to carry on this scheme, even on a limited scale, without a complete independent inquiry.

Captain Crookshank

We have some more work before us, and the time is perhaps approaching to settle the issue with which we are now dealing—'that is, the new Clause of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles). I entirely agree with the spirit of it. I am not so sure that I would myself have proposed the composition of the committee which he suggests, but that is a matter of detail and the bodies which he has selected to draw up a panel are certainly admirable. I do not see why they should not be just as good selectors as anyone else.

I repeat that I am in agreement with the idea behind the new Clause because, as the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart), has pointed out, the Secretary of State, in his reply, seemed to have overlooked the fact that we have now before us the unfortunate experience since 1947 of the working of the Corporation in East Africa, and it is quite true that if we had had some way in which outside and not internal inquiries could have been made, many of the losses might have been avoided—[HON. MEMBERS: "Might have."]—well, that would have been something. My hon. and gallant Friend is merely trying to safeguard the future and saying that it would be a good idea if at a certain time there were an inquiry—not an internal audit or anything of that kind, but an outside inquiry.

The right hon. Gentleman says, "Well, there is to be an annual report in March, 1952. Had not we better wait for that?" The trouble is that we have had annual reports before. We have already had two on the working of the Corporation and they certainly were not satisfactory. When he says that it is, in his view, bad psychology to talk about any further inquiries into the work in the future, I think he is psychologically wrong. I think it is bad psychology on his part to slam the door on the possibility of anyone unconnected with the Corporation ever having a look at its activities, and that is exactly the point at issue.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I did not slam the door. I said I would reserve the right to have an inquiry some time, but I rejected this specific proposal.

Captain Crookshank

This is the door we are opening or shutting at the moment, and this is the door which the right hon. Gentleman did slam. I hope that my hon. Friend will be successful.

Mr. Alport (Colchester)

There is one point that is particularly relevant to the proposed new Clause and that is that the Secretary of State told us during the Second Reading debate that the new plan outlined in the memorandum of the Overseas Food Corporation was based upon the report of the Kongwa Working Party, and he said that it was the independent members of the Working Party who presented their report to the Corporation and upon whose report this revised Scheme is based. In actual fact that is misleading the Committee because, as the right hon. Gentleman perfectly well knows, that Working Party was only concerned with Kongwa and did not carry——

Mr. Griffiths

Of course, the hon. Gentleman will know that there were two working parties, one for Kongwa and one for the Southern Province. There was a report for the Southern Province as well.

Mr. Alport

The right hon. Gentleman certainly did not make that clear in his speech. He made it clear that he was referring to the personnel of that Working Party when he put a question to my right hon. Friend about the personnel of that Working Party and asked him to suggest——

Mr. Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that I have misled the House. If he will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will see that I first of all referred to the members of the Working Party which reported on the Scheme for Kongwa. Later on, I said: Similarly with the report that was made of the Scheme in the Southern Province."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 1196.] So I did inform the House that there had been two reports and indicated who were the members who made the reports.

Mr. Alport

Even so, that report does not cover the whole Scheme. It does not cover the Urambo section, which is a very important one indeed. Therefore, I still maintain that the right hon. Gentleman should reconsider his reply to the proposed new Clause. He certainly misled me—and I listened very carefully to his speech—and I think he misled the House as a whole during that Second Reading debate.

The object of the new Clause is to ensure that after a period has elapsed an inquiry takes place to make certain that the lines upon which the new Corporation is working are effective. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying airy things about this Scheme starting in good will, and talking about the interests of the people of Tanganyika. The truth is that the interests of the people of Tanganyika are going to be betrayed again if, in addition to £36 million, another £6 million is thrown down the drain. We are being asked not only to vote £6 million from the taxpayers' money but also possibly to risk the benefits being lost, as the previous large sum of money has been lost, by the long-term suffering of the Africans in Tanganyika who might benefit from that money if it were employed properly.

I do not think anybody who really has at heart the interests of Africa in general, and Tanganyika in particular, would refuse an inquiry which, if it reports that the Scheme is working on the right lines, will give great confidence to hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee, and, if it reports that it is working on the wrong lines, will then enable us to put it on the right lines and prevent this money from being wasted. It seems to me most suspicious, to say the least of it, that the Government time and time again should refuse any form of inquiry whatever into the Groundnuts Scheme.

We understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the Corporation will submit a report. It has always been the same story. There is no hon. Member in this Committee who does not know that a report which comes from an interested party cannot possibly have the objec-

tivity which a report should have in a case of this sort. I do not care how eminent the members of a commission may be; a report which comes from the interested Corporation concerned will certainly not be as objective as it should be. Therefore, in the interests of the people of this country who are so concerned with the future of this scheme, in the interests of the people of Tanganyika which, as the right hon. Gentleman said, are by no means unimportant, and, not least, in the interests of the reputation of the Government and of the party opposite, the Government should change their attitude and have an inquiry.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 204: Noes, 243.

Division No. 53] AYES [9.45 p.m
Aitken, W. T. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Lambert, Hon. G
Alport, C. J. M. Drayson, G. B. Lancaster, Col. C. G
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Drewe, C. Langford-Holt, J.
Arbuthnot, John Duthie, W. S. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Eccles, D. M. Leather, E. H. C.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W E Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H
Baker, P. A. D. Fisher, Nigel Lennox-Boyd, A. T
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M Fort, R. Lindsay, Martin
Banks, Col. C. Foster, John Linstead, H. N.
Baxter, A. B. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Llewellyn, D.
Beamish, Major Tufton Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Bell, R. M. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Gage, C. H. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Birch, Nigel Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bishop, F. P. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) McAdden, S. J.
Black, C. W. Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh) Mackeson, Brig. H. R
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Gates, Maj. E. E. McKibbin, A.
Boothby, R. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Maclay, Hon. John
Bossom, A. C. Granville, Edgar (Eye) Maclean, Fitzroy
Bower, Norman Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Harden, J. R. E. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Maitland, Cmdr. J. W.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Braine, B. R. Harris, Reader (Heston) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Harvey, Air Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Marples, A. E.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A Hay, John Maudling R.
Butcher, H. W. Heald, Lionel Mellor, Sir John
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Heath, Edward Molson, A. H. E.
Carson, Hon. E. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Monckton, Sir Walter
Channon, H. Higgs, J. M. C. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hill, Dr Charles (Luton) Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Colegate, A. Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Hope, Lord John Nicholson, G.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.) Hopkinson, H. L. D'A. Nield, Basil (Chester)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hornsby-Smith, Miss P Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P
Craddock, G B. (Spelthorne) Howard, Greviile (St. Ives.) Nugent, G. R. H.
Cranborne, Viscount Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Nutting, Anthony
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewtsham, N,.) Oakshott, H. D.
Crouch, R. F. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport) Odey, G. W.
Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Hudson, W R. A. (Hull, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Kurd, A. R. Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N) Pickthorn, K.
Davies, Nigel (Epping) Hylton-Foster, H. B. Pitman, I. J.
De la Bère, R. Jeffreys, General Sir George Powell, J. Enoch
Deedes, W. F. Jennings, R. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Digby, S. W. Johnson, Major Howard (Kemptown) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Dodds-Parker, A. D Keeling, E. H. Profumo, J. D.
Donner, P. W Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Raikes. H. V.
Rayner, Brig. R Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Redmayne, M. Stevens, G. P Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Renton, D. L. M. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Robson-Brown, W. Summers, G. S. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Sutcliffe, H. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
Roper, Sir Harold Teevan, T. L. Watkinson, H.
Ropner, Col. L Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Russell, R. S. Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.) Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Savory, Prof. D. L. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Scott, Donald Thorp, Brig. R. A. F. Wills, G.
Shepherd, William Tilney, John Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Touche, G. C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Turton, R. H. Wood, Hon. R.
Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Vane, W. M. F.
Spearman, A. C M Vaughan-Morgan, J. K. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Wade, D. W. Mr. Studholme and Mr. Vosper
Acland, Sir Richard Ewart, R. Logan, D. G
Adams, H. R. Fernyhough, E. Longden, Fred (Small Heath)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Field, Capt. W. J. MacColl, J. E.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Finch, H. J. Mack, J. D.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) McGhee, H. G.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C R Follick, M. McKay, John (Wallsend)
Awbery, S. S Foot, M. M. McLeavy, F
Ayles, W. H. Freeman, John (Watford) Mainwaring, W. H
Bacon, Miss Alice Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Baird, J. Gibson, C. W Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield E)
Balfour, A Gilzean, A. Manuel, A. C.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Glanville, James (Consett) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Bartley, P. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.
Benn, Wedgwood Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Mellish, R. J.
Benson, G. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Messer, F.
Beswick, F. Grenfell, D. R. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Bing, G. H. C Grey, C. F. Moeran, E. W.
Blenkinsop, A. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Monslow, W.
Blyton, W. R Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Moody, A. S.
Boardman, H. Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Bottomley, A. G. Gunter, R. J. Morley, R.
Bowden, H. W. Haire, John E, (Wycombe) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Mort, D. L.
Brockway, A. F Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Moyle, A.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hamilton, W. W. Mulley, F. W.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Hannan, W. Murray, J. D.
Broughton, Dr. A D. D. Hardman, D. R. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Brown, George (Belper) Hardy, E. A. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hargreaves, A. O'Brien, T.
Burke, W. A Harrison. J. Oliver, G. H.
Burton, Miss E. Hastings, S. Orbach, M.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hayman, F. H. Padley, W. E.
Callaghan, L. J. Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Tipton) Paget, R. T.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Herbison, Miss M. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)
Champion, A. J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Chetwynd, G. R Hobson, C. R. Pannell, T. C.
Clunie, J. Holman, P. Parker, J.
Cocks, F S. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Paton, J.
Coldrick, W. Houghton, D. Peart, T. F.
Collick, P. Hoy, J. Poole, C.
Collindridge, F Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Popplewell, E.
Cook, T. F. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Porter, G.
Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Proctor, W. T.
Cooper, John (Deptford) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Rankin, J.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Rees, Mrs. D
Crosland, C A. R Janner, B. Reeves, J.
Crossman, R. H. S Jay, D. P. T. Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jeger, George (Goole) Reid, William (Camlachie)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.) Richards, R.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Jenkins, R. H. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson, James (Rugby) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, David (Hartlepool) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)
de Freitas, G. Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Deer, G. Keenan, W. Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Delargy, H. J. Kenyon, C. Royle, C.
Dodds, N. N. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Shackleton, E. A. A
Driberg, T. E N. Kinley, J. Shawcross, Rt. Hon Sir Hartley
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W Bromwich) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Lewis, John (Bolton, W.) Simmons, C. J
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W) Lindgren, G. S. Slater, J.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Snow, J. W. Timmons, J. Wilkes, L
Sorensen, R. W Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G Wilkins, W. A.
Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank Tomney, F. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Steele, T Ungoed-Thomas, A. L Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Usborne, H. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. Vernon, W. F. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Viant, S. P. Williams, W. T (Hammersmith, S.)
Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Wallace, H. W. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Sylvester, G. O. Weitzman, D. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Wells, Percy (Faversham) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Taylor, Robert (Morpeth) Wells, William (Walsall) Wyatt, W. L.
Thomas, David (Aberdare) West, D. G. Yates, V. F.
Thomas, George (Cardiff) Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. (Edinb'gh, E.) Younger, Hon. K.
Thomas, Iorworth (Rhondda, W.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton) Wigg, G. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks.
Thurtle, Ernest Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B

Question put, and agreed to.