HC Deb 05 March 1951 vol 485 cc163-79

(1) The Secretary of State shall make regulations for the compensation of persons holding offices or appointments under the Overseas Food Corporation in respect of their loss of such offices or appointments.

(2) Regulations made under subsection (1) of this section shall be of no effect unless approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.—[Captain Crookshank.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Captain Crookshank

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

This Clause is put down partly in order to ascertain what the Government's intentions are with regard to compensating the staff and the members of the Corporation. It merely lays down that the Secretary of State should make regulations and that these should be subject to the affirmative approval of the House of Commons. It is not quite clear from the White Paper exactly what is proposed.

I think that through inadvertence, because of the lack of clarity of the White Paper, I may have misled hon. Members in the remarks I made in my Second Reading speech; but if I did the blame really lies upon Ministers for not having corrected the false deduction which I made, if it was a false deduction. On page 16 of the White Paper it is stated: The employees of the Overseas Food Corporation will receive compensation on retirement of six months' salary or four months' salary plus the earned leave due to them.…A reserve of £400,000 is included to cover these liabilities. I had assumed that that referred to all employees of the Overseas Food Corporation, wherever situated, whose services were to be dispensed with. I had imagined that the six months' salary suggestion was out of scale with what has, in fact, already occurred, because members of the Corporation itself have already left that body, and in the accounts for this year we find a sum of £10,000 as compensation for them. It is common knowledge—because it has been reported to the Committee and I have repeated it—that the former chairman got rather more than 18 months' salary on leaving the chairmanship, and I gather that that was a tax-free payment. That being so, the suggestion that six months' salary was to be the general level of compensation was not, to my mind, exactly in keeping.

But I find it is not so at all, because I have since then been informed that, according to one correspondent from whom I have received a letter, the members of the London office staff have been offered, for clerical grades three weeks' pay for the first year's service and one week's pay for each succeeding six months, and for management grades one month's salary for the first year's completed service and half a month's salary for each succeeding six months. That, of course, is a very different picture from what at first sight one would have assumed from the White Paper. I hope that the Minister will make it quite clear for whom the six months' salary or four months' salary plus the earned leave due to them is intended as compensation.

There will obviously have to be a considerable cutting down of staff, and as far as we are concerned the biggest possible cutting down that can be achieved in London is highly to be desired. It is proposed, according to the White Paper, to reduce the staff of the London office from 170 now to 70 by the end of 1953. Whatever the rate of compensation these people get, that seems to us to be an extra-ordinarly slow reduction. That it should take over two years to reduce the staff of 170, and that at the end it should still be 70 strong in London, for no very clear purpose when we are told that the main organisation is to be in East Africa, requires some explanation.

The right hon. Gentleman did say the other night that he would make some statement about compensation during the course of the discussion on this new Clause, were it to be called. I shall look forward with interest to what he has to say, and will be guided accordingly as to the further action my hon. and right hon. Friends and I will take in the matter. I am sorry that apparently the White Paper was so misleading. I am sorry, if it is true, that the staff in London are to get such a very low rate of compensation compared with their overseas friends and fellow employees, and I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could say something about it.

Perhaps I ought to have given the Minister of State notice, but he is so well up in all these details that I have no doubt he can tell us offhand something about the European staff—and the directors as far as that goes—who are concerned with what is referred to in paragraph 27 of the White Paper, Earth-moving & Construction Limited, which is a subsidiary organisation wholly owned by the Corporation. We should like to be quite certain that outgoing members of the Corporation, such as Sir Leslie Plummer and others, who leave the service altogether are not being recompensed as outgoing directors of this subsidiary as well as outgoing members of the Corporation.

If some of those points can be cleared up satisfactorily it will bring great relief to us, and I am certain to all members of the Corporation, who will be very grateful to know exactly where they stand. In order to give the Minister of State the opportunity which he says he is so anxious to take, I have moved this new Clause.

10.0 p.m.

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

I am glad to hear that the principal reason why the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) moved this new Clause was to secure information, because I am only too anxious to give it to him. Let me turn to the matters which he has mentioned. First, the London staff. I think that he will be glad to know that there is nothing sacrosanct about the figure of 70. There will be reductions, and the figure may go well below the figure of 70. There is nothing at all fixed and definite about it, and there will certainly be considerable reductions.

By and large, the figures which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman gave as to compensation to be paid to the London staff are accurate. I would draw his attention to the fact that the staff association representing the London employees has in fact agreed to these terms. They consider them to be satisfactory, and a satisfactory agreement has been reached between the Corporation and the London staff association. [An HON. MEMBER: "On what terms?"] The terms were generally as described by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Captain Crookshank

Can we have something more authoritative; can the right hon. Gentleman himself say what they were?

Mr. Dugdale

I can say so in great detail. As regards the monthly staff, notice is calculated on the basis of one-twelfth of their period of employment with the Corporation or its predecessor, the Managing Agency, with the minimum of one month. Members of the staff entitled to a longer period of notice will, of course, receive such longer notice. In addition, they will get a retiring gratuity of one month's salary where 12 months have been completed and an additional two weeks' salary for every completed six months thereafter. The weekly paid staff will get one week's notice terminating their employment, a retiring gratuity of three weeks' salary in respect of the first year's service and an additional one week's salary for every completed six months' service thereafter. That is almost exactly in accordance with the terms stated by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Turning to the European staff employed in East Africa, they, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned, fall into two categories—those employed directly by the Corporation, and those employed by the organisation with the rather alarming title, Earthmoving and Construction Co., Ltd., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Corporation. The compensation to be paid to the employees of O.F.C. who are mostly on "open service" contracts is as follows. They will receive on retirement compensation of six months' salary or four months' salary plus the earned leave due to them, whichever is the greater. It is important to note that this implements the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food in this House on 17th July of last year.

The case of the Earthmoving and Construction Company, Ltd., is somewhat different. Their employees were engaged on fixed-period contracts suited to the more temporary nature of their employment, and they will be dealt with in accordance with the terms of each of their individual contracts. I can only say that in this case, as in the case of the London employees, we have reached a satisfactory agreement with the employees in East Africa. The redundancy terms have been fully discussed with representatives of the staff in East Africa, and the Chairman of the Corporation assures me that the terms have been generally acceptable.

As regards the African staff, we do not envisage that there will be any great difficulty, because we think that most of them will in fact find other employment, and, indeed, many of them will find employment with the Corporation itself. In the case, for instance, of the African staff—skilled typists, clerks, tractor drivers and mechanics—there is considerable scope for employment under the reduced scheme, and they should find a part in that scheme. Some of them have been moved with their full families from the Kongwa district to the Southern Province or to Urambo. Owing to the substitution of hand labour for machines in some of the land clearing operations, there will also be a demand for unskilled labour. It is not generally the custom that African unskilled labour should remain in continuous employment, and there is ample demand for such labour throughout Tanganyika.

We think, therefore, that no hardship should arise. I should like to make it abundantly clear that we shall take every possible step to inform ourselves whether there is likely to be any hardship, and if there is any sign whatever that there is hardship to any individuals, we shall do everything possible to see that the welfare of these African employees is assured—that must be assured, just as it is necessary to ensure the welfare of the European employees.

I, like other Members, have been to Kongwa. I was there for only a short time, but I did see the men at work. Whatever may be said about the Government—and I am not trying to make any political points about this—I think we are all agreed that the men about whom we are speaking, the men who are leaving and those who remain, have done very fine work under extremely difficult circumstances. Many have been full of the greatest enthusiasm for their work. I went round with men who had as much enthusiasm as if they had been on their own private farm. They have had a very hard time, naturally, with all the criticism that has inevitably arisen in connection with the work of the Corporation. I only hope that we can now tell them from here that we have confidence in their ability to make a success of the new Scheme, and that we realise its importance to the future of Tanganyika and to East Africa. Having said these few words, I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will feel that I have given the information he requires and that there will be no necessity to press the Clause.

Captain Crookshank

The right hon. Gentleman has given me a great deal of the information I need, but there is one point I should like him to say something about, and that is whether or not those members of the staff who left prior to this dispersal that is to take place have terms of compensation of the same order as the compensation to be given from now on; whether they will be better or less well-off as a result of having left the Scheme earlier.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

I think that the Committee would like to know a little more about this very important question of redundancy. On exactly what basis are the cuts going to be made, and can we have more details as to the method of computing the compensation? It seems to many of us on this side—and I suspect to some Members opposite—that in fairness to all concerned the first to go should be the older members of the Board, who must inevitably bear a very great burden of responsibility for a series of disasters and mistakes, rather than the more newly recruited members who were invited, so to speak, at the end to bat on an impossible wicket not of their own choice.

It strikes me as being very curious that a Government that claims to have invented the principle of equality of sacrifice should pay to the former chairman of the Corporation, Sir Leslie Plummer, £8,000 compensation for termination of contract, representing about 18 months' salary, while for the field staff in Africa the compensation is six months' salary, or four months' plus leave, whichever is the greater. I cannot help feeling that if this Scheme had been under private enterprise and compensation for termination of contract had been assessed on this basis, we should have had a good many speeches from Members opposite about directors who do not earn their salary.

I think it is also right to mention that many members of the European staff in Africa have a genuine grievance about the promises which were made to them in order to induce them to go out to Africa. Many of them were told that if their work were satisfactory at the end of a year, they might be able to have their wives and families out with them. On their arrival in Africa they were told that the problem of accommodation for wives and families was quite impossible, and they were merely offered increased separation allowances. Many of those employees, upon whom inevitably the axe is now to fall, sold their furniture and disposed of their houses at home, thinking they were going to get a long-term contract in Africa. The responsibility for that lies entirely on the shoulders of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We want to know in more detail upon which sections the Overseas Food Corporation axe is to fall and a great deal more about the basis of compensation as between one grade and another.

Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)

I was rather surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about these people in Africa working as if they were farming their own private farms. Those seemed rather odd words to use about a public enterprise of this kind. The point, which I want to make in supporting this new Clause, is that this country will have much need in the years to come for people to go abroad on business of this kind. If we are going to draw volunteers for this sort of work, confidence in it is absolutely essential.

This Committee must not underestimate the loss of confidence caused by the failure of the Groundnut Scheme. Therefore, I wish to argue that it is essential that we in this Committee should do all we can to bolster up that confidence for the future, and one way we can do it is to ensure that the Corporation in its time of adversity acts as a good employer, and not only acts as a good employer but makes absolutely clear its intention in so doing. It has far from a good reputation as an employer at the moment, and there is much need to give confidence in that respect. I do not want to go into details, but there is bitterness and dissatisfaction amongst the staff.

Perhaps this bad treatment is exaggerated. Rumours breed on the fear of uncertainty, and it is that fear of uncertainty which I seek to remove in advocating the inclusion of this new Clause in the Bill, because there is all the greater need in this atmosphere to make clear our intention by expressing in an Act of Parliament the terms and conditions on which people's service can be terminated. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree to include this new Clause in order to give that extra confidence.

There are many points which want clearing up. In this White Paper there is reference to six months' compensation, but after hearing the statement from the right hon. Gentleman we feel that that is not quite right. He has given details which show that some people are getting more than six months' compensation, but in other cases certainly they will receive less. I would also commend to the Government the point made by my right hon. and gallant Friend about redundancy. How soon are these people to know? They ought to be told as soon as possible so that they will have some confidence as to their future.

I cannot agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) that those who should go first should be those who went first to East Africa. It can be argued that responsibility must fall to a large extent on their shoulders, but many of the first servants were carrying out a policy which was imposed upon them from high up. I do not think that they should suffer because they were compelled, in the course of their duty, to carry out policies with which they did not agree.

10.15 p.m.

I have one other question for the right hon. Gentleman. I understand that there is considerable grievance and hardship to people who have been coming home from Africa on long leave, and who have received notice of redundancy either upon getting home or just before they left for home. What provision is to be made for these people to get back to Africa to have a reasonable chance of clearing up their affairs out there? Are the Corporation going to pay their passage to Africa for that purpose? This is an important point on which we should like an answer.

On the main point of building up the confidence in this sort of work which has been destroyed by the failure of the scheme, I press the Government to include the proposed Clause in the Bill so that we can look to a rebirth of the desire of people to go out and work in this kind of way, as will be essential for the building up of the prosperity of this country in the years ahead.

Mr. Hurd

We are now discussing compensation for loss of office. During the Second Reading debate the Minister told us that two members of the Corporation would be leaving the service very shortly. He mentioned Sir Donald Perrott and Mr. McFadyen. He paid proper and due tribute of appreciation to them for their services. We should try to get the picture complete in our minds, and should know whether members of the Board who are giving up office will be compensated, and if so whether the same terms will apply to them as apply to the salaried staff.

We all realise that there will be a much smaller Corporation, and we have discussed who might be on the new board in East Africa. It is clear that several members who have given good service and who, of course, have had their salaries and fees, will now be giving up their connection with the Corporation. We ought to hear what the position will be. I understand that Sir Donald Perrott will be continuing in Government service, but I wonder what the position will be about Mr. McFadyen who, we all agree, has given excellent service. Will compensation be paid to them and to other members of the Board who are giving up their connection with it, now that operations are to be confined to East Africa?

Mr. F. Harris

This is a very important point, particularly for the staff. The Government must appreciate that in many cases it is through no fault of the staff that they are to be thrown out of work. It is a Government responsibility entirely. When so much money has already been wasted, the Government ought to see that we do not behave in a niggling way about the final compensation to the staff. It is not always easy to go straight into a new post, particularly for the administrative staff who are involved in this redundancy. I was pleased to hear that the figure of 70 for the London office is not cut and dried. Many of us feel that in due course that figure will have to be dealt with, so that in the end we use only buying agents in London instead of having a staff of 70. Whatever decision is taken now will have a great bearing upon operations later on.

There is no doubt, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr) has said, that a large number of the staff read the document to which he referred and got the impression that they were entitled to six months' compensation upon dismissal for redundancy. I have received many letters to that effect. A person in my constituency wrote to me only yesterday saying that in the London office he is only getting something like four weeks' total compensation. It is a great shame that this sort of thing should be put in documents in such a way as to be misread to this degree. It is not clear what the situation is, and the staff had every right to believe that they would get the compensation which the Government are now not awarding.

My other point is on the reference of the Minister of State to the African native staff. Something in the White Paper that always disturbed me very much was the utter rubbishy comment in paragraph 28, which says: In any case, it is not the general custom of African unskilled labour to remain in continuous employment.… The Minister of State has repeated that assertion today. Many of us know that, although a large number of Africans naturally go from farm to farm and place to place, that is not so terribly out of proportion to what is done by many of our own workers, particularly female workers who like to go from factory to factory according to the local circumstances. A large number of Africans stay at the place where they were born and bred until they die.

What we are doing with these uprooting arrangements may have very serious consequences. The Minister of State has assured us that this will receive very careful attention and consideration, and I thank him for that assurance, but I plead with him personally to see that this is put into effect, because the reactions in Tanganyika and, indeed, the whole of the East African territories in due course if we do not play the game to the maximum with the African staff will be very serious.

I urge the Government to accept a Clause of this kind. Surely in coming to the conclusion that has, regretfully, had to be reached, that there must be very drastic curtailment, it is only reasonable to assume that as so much money has been spent in certain directions, the staff, who through no fault of their own are being declared redundant, should be compensated in no mean manner when they have to obtain new employment. There is no doubt that the White Paper has been gravely misunderstood by many of the staff, and I hope that the Minister of State will do something more than has already been indicated.

Air Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)

If what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) has said is true—I believe it is—that only four weeks' compensation will be paid to these men, the Government ought to state clearly that they will increase it. It is difficult enough to get men to go to any part of the Empire, particularly Malaya, as the right hon. Gentleman knows——

Mr. Dugdale

This is London staff.

Air Commodore Harvey

It is part of the staff, but the point I want to raise——

Mr. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

The hon. and gallant Gentleman has not read the document.

Air Commodore Harvey

Surely the London staff move out to Africa? If not, they ought to. The point I want to make is that £8,000 was paid to Sir Leslie Plummer, free of Income Tax, which represents a colossal sum in taxed income. Why should a man who was responsible for the Scheme get this great plum while the staff get practically nothing? As to the London staff, we are told that 60 or 70 will be in London. I should have thought that two men would have been ample. All we need are two men and two typists and we could use agents to do the purchasing, despatching and make the travel arrangements. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh, but many businesses abroad are run on those lines, having two men in two rooms. When they start to make profits, then they can expand their offices.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the Committee an assurance that more generous treatment will be given to these men. If they are to be fobbed off with a small amount, everybody will lose confidence, and those who stay on and do the real work, which we all want to succeed, will have no confidence in their bosses.

Mr. Dugdale

If I may first take the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey), I do not think he can say that people are being fobbed off and given ungenerous treatment. I have already said that the treatment which is to be given has been agreed with the staff associations. I do not think one can say that they are likely to allow their members to be fobbed off.

If I may now answer the question of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), compensation for those employees who left earlier depends on the condition of their contracts. It is not necessarily the same as the compensation I have now described. It will vary according to the conditions of their contracts. In reply to the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe), the selection of individuals for redundancy is made by a personnel committee on which there is a representative of the staff from each region. So I think the staff have considerable opportunity for stating their case as to whether they think the redundancies are being made in a fair and proper manner.

The hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. Carr), suggested that there might be some penalising of employees for being against the higher-ups. I can assure the hon. Member that, to the best of my knowledge, there is no such penalising. If he knows of any such case, I hope he will bring it to my notice, because it is something which this Government does not want to happen.

Mr. Carr

If I gave that impression, I did not mean to do so. Actually I was saying that I did not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) who, I thought, said that in deciding redundancies those first in should be first out. I said I felt that those first in often had to carry out policies from higher-ups with which they did not agree but which they carried out loyally. I certainly was not implying any victimisation.

Mr. Dugdale

I am glad to realise that. I had that impression and I wanted to get it straightened out. The only other point is that the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris), talked about African welfare and the difficulties that Africans might have in getting employment, particularly the trouble it would be for them to leave their jobs and go to others. I should like to repeat the assurance I gave before that, if we know there is any hardship, we will do our utmost to see that it is mitigated and that they get the fairest possible treatment, and we will safeguard their welfare in every possible way.

Mr. Hurd

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, would he say a word about compensation for loss of office for members of the Corporation itself?

Mr. Dugdale

Strictly speaking, I do not think it is in order, because the Clause talks about employees of the Corporation. I do not know, Sir Charles, whether I would be in order in referring to that?

Hon. Members

You might try.

Mr. F. Harris

Sir Charles, the Minister of State has not answered the point in the White Paper about compensation. Can we have this clearly stated? It says in the White Paper that the employees of the Overseas Food Corporation will receive compensation on retirement of six months' salary. Is that meant to be a general interpretation for everybody employed in the Scheme in London or abroad, or is it not? If it is, I say that the Government ought in honour bound to see that statement through, so that those employees who have read that paper shall not be misled.

Mr. Dugdale

That statement applies to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, which I understand referred only to people out in East Africa.

Mr. Harris

I am sorry, Sir Charles, but it is not right that the Government should get away with this. Here is a clear statement in the White Paper which has guided all this next move. The Clause I have read out says quite distinctly that this implements a statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food in the House of Commons on 17th July, 1950. There is no word whatever that this applies only to employees in East Africa. I say quite definitely and without any doubt that the Minister should give the House an assurance now that the Government are prepared to honour what they have put in the White Paper. The employees have read it, they have written to me about it, and surely they must have written to other hon. Members. If they expect to be given six months' salary, they should be given six months' salary, and not be fobbed off by any Government in this country.

10.30 p.m.

Captain Crookshank

My hon. Friend is quite right. That is what caused all the confusion. At the beginning of my remarks I quoted that statement in the Second Reading debate, and it is a great pity that the Minister did not care enough, or was sufficiently well informed, to correct me for having misread it. As I and my hon. Friends misread it, it is not surprising that other people outside misread it and that, therefore, some members of the staff might have been under the impression that they were going to get this compensation.

On the other hand, I must say the right hon. Gentleman in his speech pointed out that compensation arrangements had been agreed to by the staff associations, and that to my mind rather cuts out the misleading impression that I had at any rate, as they are responsible associations which must have been in touch with their members. Perhaps by now the mistake has been rectified, but it is a great pity that it has been allowed to run for about two weeks before we had an opportunity, or the Minister took an opportunity, of making a correction.

I apologise to all concerned for my misreading, but I do not consider myself any more wrong than the other people who read this for what it was worth. However, the right hon. Gentleman has explained, and I suggest that that will assuage slightly my hon. Friend's very righteous indignation, which we all share and which I share myself, about having been misled. I do not like it any more than the clerks and typists in London who were misled like myself.

To come back to the Clause, I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not chance his arm and answer the question put by the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd). After all, the question was not ruled out of order and generally when questions are allowed to be put it is expected that they will be answered. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is now prepared to answer the hon. Member for Newbury. If so, it would simplify matters.

Mr. Dugdale

If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would really like it, I certainly will, if I may. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food in the Second Reading debate on 20th February last, Sir Donald Perrott, the Deputy Chairman, and Mr. McFadyen will be leaving the Board shortly. Sir Donald Perrott was seconded from a Civil Service appointment and therefore no question of compensation arises in his case. In Mr. McFadyen's case compensation will be payable and he will receive £4,000, which is a full year's salary, and the Corporation will also pay him a pension of £620 a year to which he is entitled in accordance with their undertaking to him when he first consented to join the Corporation. That was part of the undertaking we consented to when he originally joined the Corporation——

Captain Crookshank

I am not a bit surprised.

Mr. Dugdale

—because he had pension rights in the Co-operative Society which he had sacrificed by coming to the Corporation.

Captain Crookshank

I am not surprised it was a bit difficult to get this information from the right hon. Gentleman in view of its nature, but I do not propose to pursue it any further tonight for the reason that you, Sir Charles, would constantly check me if I went very far. [An HON. MEMBER: "Have a go."] No. because there will be other occasions when we can consider this in all its reactions. I should like to know what the contract is, and I am not prepared to express an opinion at this moment. We take note of what the right hon. Gentleman said, and I am much obliged to him for being so courteous as to give the information to us, unpalatable as it was for him to give it to us—yes, because it has been all out of scale with the compensation we have been discussing.

Coming back to the original point raised, we put down this new Clause to get a full statement from the right hon. Gentleman on this subject and in the light of the statement, I do not propose to press the Clause now. I propose that my hon. Friends to-morrow consider very carefully what the right hon. Gentleman has said about compensation today, and if we deem it right, take further action upon this at a later stage of the Bill. Having heard it, and, not having had the opportunity of consultation, I do not propose to press the Clause, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Mr. Carr

Before the Question is put, may I point out that in my earlier remarks I asked the right hon. Gentleman one specific question to which I should like an answer. I asked him what would happen when a person, who received a notice of redundancy while at home on long leave or when about to leave Africa for long leave, had affairs in Africa which required to be cleared up. Would the Corporation pay his return fare to Africa to clear up those affairs, which, of course, he would not know at that time wanted clearing up?

Mr. Dugdale

As far as I am concerned this is a new question. I will look into it, and make certain the hon. Gentleman is acquainted with the answer.

Mr. F. Harris

Do I understand that the Minister will not live up to the statement in the White Paper—[Interruption.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to say "Ha! ha!". I hope some employee will take legal action against the Overseas Food Corporation. There is a categorical statement, and it is shameful that they should get away with it.

Mr. Dugdale

I would draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the first line in Section 4 of the White Paper "European staff at present employed in East Africa by the Corporation and the Earthmoving Construction Limited …"

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered Tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 75.]