HC Deb 06 March 1951 vol 485 cc235-7
50. Mr. Hurd

asked the Lord President of the Council when the Medical Research Council first informed the Colonial Development Corporation about the results of its cropping trials in the Gambia; and if he can give an assurance that there has been regular consultation on the spot between the technical staffs of the two bodies.

Mr. H. Morrison

As soon as provisional conclusions could be drawn from the Medical Research Council's work on soil fertility in the Gambia, they were brought formerly to the notice of the manager of the Colonial Development Corporation Poultry Farm. This was in a memorandum forwarded by air on 9th February, 1951. There had previously been personal contact of an informal kind on the spot between the technical staffs of the two bodies.

Mr. Hurd

Does not the Lord President of the Council think it extraordinary that for two years the Medical Research Council have been carrying out these cropping trials in Gambia which cost £52,000, while at the same time the other Corporation, the Colonial Development Corporation, spent £825,000 in proving that what human beings in Gambia suffer from, hens suffer from, too, and would it not have been better if these two bodies had consulted together from the very start?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Member has uttered a whole series of propaganda allegations. [Interruption.]Half the supplementary questions from the other side are propaganda. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to put a Question on the Order Paper, and I will have inquiries made.

Mr. Eden

On a point of order. Is the Lord President of the Council entitled to make imputations about questions of this kind which, if they were correct, would be a reflection upon the Chair?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think it was a reflection on the Chair, because one cannot stop supplementary questions and they vary a great deal. I suppose the Leader of the House is entitled to his own opinion, which might not be the opinion of the party on the other side.

Sir Richard Acland

Is it not a fact that though the researches by the Medical Research Council were extremely interesting and promising, they have not reached the stage of being practically useful on any large scale until very recent weeks.

Mr. Morrison

I think there is something in what my hon. Friend says.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

In view of the increasing and understandable touchiness of the Lord President of the Council, may I ask him whether it is not a fact that this Medical Research Council already had valuable information on this subject which would have proved most useful to the Food Corporation had they found out earlier, as they might have done, that they could not grow the crops on which the hens were meant to grow?

Lord John Hope

Is the increasing testiness of the Lord President of the Council, which the whole House is noting, the stuff of which Foreign Secretaries are made?

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Is the Lord President of the Council aware of the undue delay which took place in the receipt of this report, and the action taken on it by the Corporation, and can the right hon. Gentleman say what was the cause of it?

Mr. Nabarro

Did the advice received by the Lord President of the Council in this matter lead him to believe that every egg arriving from Gambia would cost £21?

Mr. Hurd

May I ask the Lord President of the Council how many times I have to obey his request to put a Question on the Order Paper? I put down the present Question as a result of his answer on this matter last week. If I am to put it down again, shall I get the same silly answer?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman had better go on complying with my request until I leave off making requests.