§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Dr. Edith Summerskill (Fulham, West)
The House has devoted a considerable amount of time this week, both day and by night, to debating the finances of this country, and I believe that today's debate will provide us with an opportunity of examining the social needs of those countries which a whole network of international agencies, including those of the United Nations Organisation, seek to relieve.
On an occasion of this kind it is quite impossible, of course, in the time available to discuss in detail the work of the various Specialised Agencies. I have no doubt that as this debate proceeds hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will address themselves to the work of particular agencies in which they take some special interest. For my part I should like to draw the attention of the Government to the work of certain agencies whose activities are closely related to the food supply and the economic development of the under-developed countries of the world.
I hope to show that the work of these Specialised Agencies is becoming 1566 increasingly a national concern which should be much more closely related to the work of Government Departments, like the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Labour, whose work is somewhat similar. I think that all hon. Members who have read the pamphlets and literature published by the United Nations Organisation, and particularly the speeches which are made by individuals in this country and indeed in other parts of the world, will agree with me that there is a regrettable tendency to refer to the work of these agencies in a too complacent manner.
It would be wrong to say that the United Nations regard it too complacently, but those individuals who comment upon the work of the United Nations regard it in that way. No doubt that arises from the international character of these agencies. It is so much easier for an individual to interest himself in something which is on his own doorstep; and he tends to find a subject which is rather remote from his own life not quite so interesting.
Speakers on the subject invariably stress the need for proceeding very slowly. Indeed, I read a debate in another place a few weeks ago on a subject similar to that which we are to discuss today and I was very disappointed to find that almost every noble Lord who contributed to it said in his peroration that, of course, he realised that in this matter we must proceed very slowly.
I confess to impatience today. I contend that this work should be viewed with the same sense of urgency as a major war. If it is agreed that poverty, hunger and disease breed war, then the antidote to war is to tackle boldly and energetically its breeding ground. The answer which I anticipate may be given to a plea for new developments in under-developed areas is that we cannot afford any fresh commitments, but it seems to me that that is a very short-sighed policy.
If we continue with the work of the United Nations Specialised Agencies with energy and enthusiasm, we shall pursue an humanitarian course, or perhaps, to be entirely honest, a course of enlightened self-interest. But at the same time we shall be alleviating some of the gravest economic problems which beset this country today and which appear to baffle the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We 1567 listen to the Chancellor time after time in this Chamber and the same story is told. We face recurrent crises, and while the workers are exhorted to increase production and to increase exports generally to those countries which are comparatively well off, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his counterparts in other countries seem to be blandly unaware that half the population of the world are without the essentials of life, the provision of which would go far to solve these problems.
This Chamber is necessarily thinly attended this afternoon and I should say to hon. Members that if they feel like a little sleep I shall not take it amiss. But I ask those hon. Members who are present to consider this matter very carefully. Is not the long-term answer—with which, by the way, re-armament is not incompatible—to be found in the great unsatisfied markets of the underdeveloped areas of the world where the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations Organisation strive to help millions of people to lead fuller lives? If the struggle for peace and the struggle against poverty are closely related, should not the policy pursued to secure peace and to abolish poverty be integrated?
Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, in their constituencies and outside their constituencies, on platforms and in discussions and debate expound their theories and explain to the people that the poverty in certain parts of the world is so great that we have to tackle it energetically if we are to preserve the peace of the world. Yet what are we doing? I feel that this country and others are guilty of dragging their feet. Yet countries today are preoccupied and harassed with their failure to balance external trade. Surely they should turn from markets which are already surfeited with goods and formulate a new, bold, far-reaching policy for creating markets in the under-developed areas.
It is not for me on an occasion of this kind to concern myself with currency, but if the world has an obsolete currency system which is hindering it and which is impairing its capacity to distribute more equitably, then that should be tackled. What is the alternative? It is, as the Prime Minister himself has said, to continue to live on a trap-door. The 1568 cold war and the re-armament programme, which seem to constitute the policies of many developed countries, will aggravate the world economic crisis and finally result in social and political unrest in those countries which are rightly looking for leadership from the more advanced countries.
While these primitive countries are desperately in need of economic assistance in its broadest sense, in my opinion the first priority is an adequate food supply. I welcome the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food. I think he will agree that a people who are under-nourished to a point of near-starvation cannot be stimulated to help themselves unless they are physically capable of taking on the arduous tasks required to create a higher standard of living under near-primitive conditions.
I served for four years in the Ministry of Food and I had the honour to represent Great Britain at the Food and Agriculture Organisation conferences in Geneva and Washington. In the course of the debates, which ranged over the nutritional standards of the participating countries, I was conscious of the tremendous potentialities of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, but at the same time depressed at the quite inadequate resources at its disposal.
Now, it is time that we recognised that the work of the F.A.O. constitutes, at this phase of the United Nations Organisation at any rate, an important contribution to our international problems. A wise Government regard the feeding of the people as of paramount importance because by doing so they are ensuring a strong and contented working population who will produce the wealth of the country. By the same argument an international organisation empowered to improve the nutritional standards of the people of the under-developed countries should be enabled to fulfil its functions adequately.
I should be the very last to underestimate the important work that the World Health Organisation has done, but I believe that every doctor engaged in that organisation would agree, as would every doctor in this Committee, that the most effective protection against the majority of diseases is an adequate diet. I recall a report of the Ministry of Health 1569 two or three years ago in which the Chief Medical Officer commented on the low infantile mortality in this country, and he said quite rightly that the low infantile mortality rate in Britain must be related to its enlightened food policy. I would remind the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Food that that was three years ago. Things have changed.
The reason the expectation of life in Britain and the United States is 66, in the intermediate countries 52 and in the under-developed areas 30, is due to a high infantile mortality rate which is directly related to improper and inadequate feeding. Of course, there is no attempt in the latest Report of the Expanded Technical Assistance Programme for 1950–52 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to disguise the fact that in the last 10 years world population has been growing more rapidly than food production, so that the undernourishment which affected half the world population before the war has become more severe. There can be no complacency there. The under-nourish-ment today is more severe.
In the light of this statement, Sir Herbert Broadley, who is Chief of the Expanded Technical Assistance Programme, felt that it was necessary himself to make a most serious statement. He was Deputy Secretary to the Ministry of Food during the time when I served there, and I cannot over-praise the excellent work he did, nor can I over-stress the reluctance with which we parted with him—a reluctance only overcome by the knowledge that a first-class man was needed to undertake the work in which he is now engaged.
He made a very serious statement at the beginning of this month, only two weeks ago, in the course of the 15th session of the Council of F.A.O. He said that the present total commitments involved in undertakings to Governments when all existing agreements and those expected to be signed this year are fully implemented, will exceed 17 million dollars. This ignores further requests which they will receive later in 1952 and 1953. He pointed out, quite rightly— and I hope the Committee will remember this in view of what I am to say very shortly—that the actual expenditure is slow because the recruitment of experts is slow in these days of defence programmes.
1570 It is well known that equipment and supplies are very difficult to obtain, and, therefore, during the first period of the technical assistance activities ending on 31st December, 1951, actual expenditure amounted to only 2 million dollars. Whatever is spent, however, they must meet their total commitments involving a possible liability of 17 million dollars by the end of 1952. Yet they cannot expect to receive during the whole of 1952 much more than 4,500,000 dollars which, together with the amount to which they were entitled in 1951, gives total resources for the first two years of 9 million dollars.
I apologise to the Committee for having to quote these figures, but I should like Members to remember these two. At the moment they have liabilities for the next two years of 17 million dollars and their resources are 9 million dollars. I am talking about the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Of course, some of the liability will not arise for settlement until 1953, but in that year there will be new requests which will still further have increased F.A.O.'s liability, far outstripping the additional resources for 1953 if contributions to the technical assistance fund are maintained at the present level.
Sir Herbert Broadley gave this warning:The point has now been reached that if we cannot assume that the technical assistance programme is a continuing and developing programme and that the contributing countries will maintain and increase their contributions over a long period, we shall soon be faced with a problem of having to refuse further requests from member countries. This would be disastrous, bearing in mind the long-term objectives of the programme. It is, therefore, essential that contributing countries shall realise the situation which confronts not only F.A.O. but all the other international agencies if the work which has been initiated with such enthusiasm, and I believe such success, is to achieve the long-range result expected of it.I hope the Committee will consider those words in the light of what I have already said about the under-nourishment of half the population of the world. This is a warning from a highly responsible man which the Government cannot ignore.
There is another body of which I hope I shall hear more later on—the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. This is an organ of the United Nations, and it has also formulated a programme which will call for the help of experts in many different fields. The subsidiary organisations of the Commission include 1571 a bureau of flood control, a committee of industry and trade, with subcommittees on iron and steel and an electro-power and an inland transport committee. At the same time the Commission has at its disposal the Specialised Agencies.
I think that I should be right to say that the work of the Economic Commission has stimulated certain of our Commonwealth representatives to formulate the Colombo Plan. In the original report on the plan, it was estimated that the population of the area was 570 million people—a quarter of the population of the world—with an increase in population of 20,000 people per day. While the countries concerned need capital goods and consumer goods, the universal need is for experts to train their own people in administration and technical work. The urgency of the problem cannot be over-emphasised.
The United Nations reports disclose a steadily widening gap between the average income in the advanced countries and the under-developed countries. At the same time, we all know there is an upsurge of nationalism in all those countries where poverty, hunger and disease have finally goaded the people to action. The ignorance that prevails demands, in the first place, the most expert advice, whether it is simple advice like the introduction of new seed strains or more complex advice like the reorganisation of the local civil service. Technical assistance is rendered in different forms, and I am anxious to stress this point because subsequently I want to ask the Government what action they propose to take about it.
The different forms of technical assistance are fairly well known. There is the survey mission, which is concerned with the preliminary study of conditions. The value of this mission is evident in most countries. While a local group of experts may have their report pigeon-holed by a reactionary Government, a report which is made by a group of foreign experts sent out under the auspices of the United Nations Organisation commands respect and generally stimulates the appropriate authority to action. The mission which succeeds the survey mission, if it is acceptable to the Government, has executive functions.
1572 But the cheapest method of approach is for the expert to educate and train on the spot the local personnel who are needed for the particular job. Experts are sent to countries under the auspices of the World Health Organisation to teach the people not only the aetiology and treatment of malaria and the treatment with penicillin of the disfiguring and debilitating disease of yaws, but also the simple principles of sanitation, such as the improvement of water supplies and the setting up of an hygienic market.
Having described in some detail the importance of technical assistance, let me examine the Government's attitude to this most important aspect of the work of the United Nations. As an Englishwoman I am a little ashamed to make it public this afternoon, but the miserable truth is that the Government reduced the amount to be allocated in the second financial period for technical assistance to the under-developed countries of the world to £450,000. The Labour Government had allocated £760,000 for the first 18 months, at a time when the scheme was just getting under way and when, as Sir Herbert Broadley said, it was very difficult to get the experts and to get the necessary administrative machine going.
In consequence of the 40 per cent. cut made by the Government on the previous contribution, a conference on technical assistance which discussed ways and means was unable to reach a target of £20 million. I would say that this mean action is without parallel, even in the life of the Government. [Interruption.] I say that, and I think that most hon. Gentlemen who have stayed to listen, instead of going to sleep this afternoon, would agree that this represents an economy at the expense of the poor, the hungry and the diseased millions who are unfortunate enough to live in the under-developed parts of the world. How it was possible for the Treasury to press Ministers to come to the House and announce this miserable little cheeseparing economy at the expense of these people, I do not know.
When the Minister was asked about it in the House, what did he say? The excuse he gave was that at the time that the second contribution was made the sum that was previously allocated had not all been spent. It has been said time after time by responsible spokesmen—and I quoted 1573 Sir Herbert Broadley—that there was necessarily a slow start made during the first 15 months of the technical assistance programme, and some time had to elapse before the technicians and the administrative machinery necessary for launching some of the schemes could function.
At the moment the Minister of Health is concerned with launching a new health scheme. Forty Questions were put down to him this afternoon because hon. Members were quite rightly concerned with the administration of his new scheme. He knows perfectly well the difficulties with which he is faced. Here we are talking about schemes which will concern the well-being of millions of people. Could one of these organisations be expected to spend all the money allocated to it in the first few months of the allocation?
It has been extremely difficult to secure the services of first-class technical assistants. On this question I should like to ask the Minister whether the Government are doing their utmost to supply the right kind of assistance? Are good men being seconded? Those of us who have worked in Government Departments and have represented Britain at international conferences know full well the difference between a good civil servant—with apologies to the people in the Box—and an indifferent civil servant. I have worked in a very big Department where there was a consensus of opinion that perhaps we might be able to dispense with the services of Mr. So-and-so because he was not quite up to the mark. After his services had been dispensed with it has often happened that I have gone abroad only to find Mr. So-and-so in some international organisation. That depresses me intensely, because if there is one thing which a woman can do better than a man it is to sum up a man.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I want to know whether the Government are satisfied that first-class men are being found for these important jobs abroad. Has a wholehearted approach been made to industry? I think I made it quite clear that the Economic Commission for South-East Asia will be engaged in all kinds of industrial enterprises. We therefore want first-class men from industry. Has industry been approached? I understand 1574 that other countries have proved more helpful than Britain. Perhaps we can have an answer. Will the Minister tell the Committee whether the Government propose to adopt a more generous attitude towards the technical assistance programme in the future? While it may be right to say that the Economic Commission produced the blue-print for the Colombo Plan, I understand that it is also responsible for certain executive work with regard to trade promotion, flood prevention and so on. I should like to know to what extent food and agricultural projects, as distinct from industrial schemes, form part of the programme. There is always a temptation for a country to erect a vast plant of a spectacular character, which is satisfying both to the builders and to the population, before addressing itself to the more simple needs of the people. Even local authorities are sometimes guilty of putting up a very large town hall without considering that other needs should have been more carefully considered. This temptation must be resisted—and this also applies in the more highly developed countries. The first priority must be given to food production.
I understand that about 3 per cent. more food was produced in 1950-51 than in the previous year, but that this progress was made in regions already highly developed, while in most of the needy regions food supplies have not regained even their low pre-war level. Again, there is no place for complacency here. It is information of this kind which leads me to ask the Government for more details with regard to the proposals of the Economic Commission for South-East Asia. What emphasis is being placed on the production of food? Can we anticipate, in a few years' time, better results than have hitherto been achieved in other primitive parts of the world?
It may be that the mortality rates have decreased to such an extent that the consequent increase in population in certain areas presents an alarming prospect. It is quite clear that the doctors and the other workers in the World Health Organisation have done miraculous things in the treatment of malaria and other complaints which the inhabitants of the areas where those diseases are commonplace have regarded with a kind of fatalistic resignation.
1575 If population is increasing to such an extent that it does give some cause for alarm, are we creating expectations in the under-developed regions—whether it is through the work of U.N.E.S.C.O., the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation or the other Specialised Agencies—which we have no means to satisfy? Successful work in any of these fields will lead to ever-greater demands for those techniques and projects calculated to improve the lot and increase the standard of living of the ordinary people. We have taught the peasants in Afghanistan to use the scythe. The time will come when the same people will demand tractors.
I ask the Government how it is proposed to meet this demand, with investment from abroad so greatly reduced? It seems to me that while the developed countries have become still more developed, the under-developed countries have remained under-developed. Professor Myrdal, the economist and social scientist, speaking recently on the economic aspects of health, said:The world population is more than 10 per cent. larger than before the Second World War, the growth being larger in certain underdeveloped countries, while world supplies of food are probably still below the pre-war level, and anyhow not above. And it is not the inhabitants of the prosperous and developed countries who bear the brunt of the greater scarcity of food.I give that concluding sentence to the Parliamentary Secretary for use the next time he has to face a hostile House of Commons.
In relation to this matter, may I quote a further extract, this time from the Economic Survey of Europe for 1951? This should go on the record because it is of such value. The Survey said:The flow of capital to the more developed areas is but one expression of the long-standing tendency for investment to be concentrated overwhelmingly in countries already industrialised.… Defence outlays in the leading industrial countries of Eastern and Western Europe, the Soviet Union and the United States, are likely soon to reach levels where they will together equal or even exceed the aggregate national incomes of all the underdeveloped countries, and will be some twenty times the investment financed out of these countries' domestic savings.… The most serious implications of the intensified concentration of capital formation are, of course, felt by the under-developed countries themselves whose population continues to expand faster than their capacity to produce food and other necessities.1576 It ends:But Western European countries are also affected, since the present development may accentuate the adverse trend in their terms of trade.I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will read that extract tomorrow.
If this represents the true position, then the work of the Specialised Agencies of U.N.O. may prove abortive. While W.H.O., F.A.O. and the others strive to increase the expectation of life, a failure to accelerate the general economic development will result in increased overpopulation and even greater pauperisation. On the other hand, if economic development proceeds with the increase in population, then the improved age-composition of the people will contribute towards a higher standard of living.
I ask the Minister who is to reply whether he can give the Committee some reassurance on this matter. I have quoted deliberately from acknowledged experts, who appear to share the view that the work of these agencies may be arrested or vitiated, owing to economic circumstances over which they have no control. This is not only a question of holding up urgent social reforms. I do not believe there is any hon. Member in this Committee who is anxious to do that, knowing the conditions which exist in primitive countries. We are only too anxious to bring to them those social reforms to which we are accustomed in this country.
There is a wider question, a very serious question, with which we must all be concerned. If this is an accurate forecast of events, then people's faith in the United Nations Organisation will be shaken. While the events in the Far East today cause all of us here the most grievous disappointment, those people who are not friendly to the United Nations are not displeased. Nevertheless, when we as politicians, in our constituencies and outside them, are asked questions about the conduct of the United Nations in the Far East, we can explain with pride the progress which has been achieved by the Specialised Agencies.
Shall we continue to be able to do this? Are the Government aware of the forces which might undermine the work of these agencies and of the consequent disastrous effect upon world opinion? Are the Government taking heed of the warnings given by the experts and the 1577 men on the spot? I hope that when the Minister replies he will address himself to this wider question, which is the cause of a certain apprehension in the minds of many of us on this side of the Committee.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Iain Macleod)
I should first of all apologise to the Committee—having, as the right hon. Lady has reminded us, already answered 40 Questions this afternoon— for following with a speech on this enormously important topic. The reason is that at the moment we are primarily concerned with the Specialised Agencies. A great number of different Ministers have different responsibilities in regard to them, and I dare say that the principle adopted was that the new boy might as well do the work.
I am particularly glad—and I say this quite genuinely—to follow the right hon. Lady. She and I have debated many times in different fields, and we have not always found ourselves in wholehearted agreement. I am very grateful to her for giving to this debate the essential breadth that it is important we should try to maintain throughout the day. I want to address myself to the question of the Specialised Agencies and the work that they are doing and to the question of the Government's attitude towards them, and to say a little about the finance, which is a very important topic raised by the right hon. Lady.
Then I will consider the biggest problem of all that confronts us: Are we on the right lines? Are the Specialised Agencies, for example, the right vehicle to choose for Government policy in this matter, or is there a case to be made, as 1 have heard it made and as perhaps it will be made from the other side of the Committee today, for a larger and wider authority to co-ordinate all these activities? The question of the relationship of these agencies to the Government is of the first importance. It is a matter of whether there are too many cooks and, if I may change the metaphor only a small amount, whether there is perhaps, as a result, too little broth.
Let us be quite clear what the position is. These agencies are intergovernmental bodies and are, therefore, autonomous. They have a very con- 1578 siderable and continuing history. They have not just been formed since 1945. Some of them date from the middle of the 19th century; some of them, like I.L.O., date from in between the two wars; a number of them date since the end of the Second World War; and some, like I.M.C.O., are being formed now. I am afraid it is inevitable on this subject to use these abbreviations which bedevil this particular field, but there is no aspect of affairs today in which the modern tyranny of initials is more obvious.
It follows from what I have said that it is perfectly possible for a State to be a member of the United Nations without belonging to an agency, or a member of an agency without belonging to the United Nations. Relationships that exist between the United Nations and the agencies on procedure and other matters do not in any way affect their essential independence.
The first point is whether this independence which I have outlined is desirable. It is the view of the Government that it is. We believe that these agencies are the right instruments to help forward progress in their different fields, and we are very concerned to see that work which properly falls within the competence of any particular agency shall be done by that agency. I can see the force of the argument that they should be more closely bound—perhaps we may hear that argument put—but our view is that, provided the very real difficulties of co-ordination—and I do not minimise them at all, and intend to talk about them—provided those difficulties can be met, the present system is the best.
As I understood the right hon. Lady, she said that there is—and it is arguable —a great need for some further integration between the agencies and the Governments and Departments of the Governments. I am not absolutely clear what is in her mind, and I should like to follow the argument a little further. I am quite clear—if I can put it in terms we both understand—about her diagnosis, but I am by no means quite so clear what her prescription is to be.
As I see it, this is the problem. These agencies are associations of Governments, and policy in them is, therefore, made by representatives of Governments. Let us 1579 take an example for which I myself have some responsibility. This in part answers the question about the standard of representatives who go from this country. The United Kingdom delegation to the last World Health Assembly consisted not only of senior medical and administrative officers from my Ministry but also the Director of Medical Services from the Colonial Office, a senior medical officer from Scotland, and a representative of the Foreign Office.
It seems to me, therefore, that, as far as the policy of the member Government is concerned, the delegation from that Government should be, and usually is, in a position to express it. The delegates are not, of course, of Ministerial rank, and it is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which urgent political problems may arise; but as I see it, it is, of course, always possible to refer those problems back to the appropriate Ministries in this country and to obtain official guidance upon them. It is true, of course, also that the smaller countries have a more serious problem because it is not possible for them to devote as much care to the co-ordination of policies as it is for the greater Governments, but it seems to me that that is more a comment on things as they are than an argument that there is lack of integration at the present time.
Let me say this. We are most anxious to maintain the efficient co-ordination of United Kingdom policy in these agencies, but it is true that there is a great deal of overlapping—or, perhaps, we should more properly say of common interest—between a great number of these Specialised Agencies. After all, an ignorant and sick and hungry refugee child could very well at one and the same time be a concern of U.N.E.S.C.O., of F.A.O., of W.H.O., and of the refugee organisation, and, perhaps, of the Children's Emergency Fund as well.
But again, I do not think that it follows from that that there is necessarily a lack of proper co-ordination, because in a very similar sort of way, as all hon. Members know from experience in their constituencies, the same problem arises in this country. After all, many of us know, from contacts with difficult problem families in our constituencies, that one and the same family may at the same time be a direct concern of my Ministry, 1580 of the Home Office, of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and of many other Ministries as well.
There has been set up—I am sure that the right hon. Lady knows this—an Administrative Committee on Co-ordination, A.C.C., which is composed of representatives of the agencies, and it has a secretariat provided from the United Nations. I am not pretending for a moment that this is a problem to which a perfect solution has been or can be found, but I do not think that, on the face of it, the claim that there is inadequate consultation and integration has been made out.
I should like to say a word about the finance of these agencies, and it would be simpler—certainly, easier for me—to talk not so much about the general problem as the particular problem of the World Health Organisation. It is typical in most things of the others. In the World Health Organisation all full members have equal voting rights, but they have got very different financial liabilities, and it is from that that so many of the problems arise. It is a problem that calls for full statesmanship from all the countries represented.
The United States, for example—I am talking for the moment about W.H.O.— the United States pay one third of the total budget; we have been paying a little more than 11 per cent., and France pays 6 per cent. That means that, out of a total organisation of 79 countries and an effective organisation—because, unhappily, a number of these States have allowed their membership to lapse—of 69 countries, three States provide 50 per cent, of the finance, and 15 countries provide a tiny fraction of 1 per cent. I should like to make it quite clear that I am not criticising in any way: I am merely commenting.
We in this country—and the Health Service is, of course, a classic example —have become painfully familiar with the conception of a ceiling on expenditure. A ceiling has come about in the financial affairs of W.H.O., but in a rather curiously indirect way. Congress in the United States decided that it was going to put a ceiling of 3 million dollars on its contribution in any one year. That is factor number one. The second factor is that the World Health Assembly has each year adopted a resolution which 1581 says that no country shall pay more per head of its population than the United States. These two resolutions taken together create for us—since our population is about one-third that of the United States—an automatic ceiling on present policies of about 1 million dollars, or rather more than £300,000.
Mr. M. Foliick (Loughborough)
The right hon. Gentleman said our contribution was one-third that of the United States. I do not know whether he means the United Kingdom or the British Commonwealth contribution. In fact, the 11 per cent. United Kingdom contribution is proportionately as much as, or even higher than, the United States contribution.
§ Mr. Macleod
In proportion per head in terms of the population? I do not dispute that at all. Indeed, that strengthens the case I am making. Already the budget—because there has been, very understandably, an expansionist policy—is very nearly at the point where the maximum liability that I have indicated is exacted from us. I must say frankly that Her Majesty's Government most strongly support the important practical work that these agencies achieve, but we simply cannot be indifferent at the present time to the need for efficiency and economy in all expenditure. The right hon. Lady made some comments on a reduction in regard to technical assistance. I will not reply to that, because my hon. Friend will be taking up that point at the end of the debate; but this insistence on efficiency and economy in expenditure—and I am still dealing with the World Health Organisation—is in no sense a new development; it is in no sense a development that has taken place since last October.
I wonder whether the right hon. Lady knows that in May, 1951, the delegation to the World Health Organisation, instructed by the Government of the day, made the most strenuous efforts, which were taken to a vote, to reduce the budget for W.H.O. for that year. They proposed a 10 per cent. cut. I do not want to make any party point out of that, but it is true to say that all Governments have had to look with the utmost care at the finances of these Specialised Agencies.
It is easy to understand the impatience to press on with all sorts of schemes of a large number of countries whose con- 1582 tributions are very small, some of whom are, in fact, seriously in arrears, but we have a. duty, not only to the Specialised Agencies but to our own people as well. It has never been true that insistence on efficiency and a close watch on expenditure are inconsistent with a very deep and a very real interest in the work that is being done.
Of this I am quite sure, that the greatest dis-service that there could possibly be to the peoples of the Far East, with whom we are particularly concerned today, would be for the United Kingdom and the sterling area, by taking on more burdens than we can afford, to precipitate a crisis in our financial affairs. It may well be that there is a greater danger to international co-operation in trying to do everything at once than there is in exercising, as successive Governments—and I emphasise this again—have exercised. judicious care in the compiling and the spending of these budgets.
The right hon. Lady made a number of references to the work of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which she said was the first and most important of all these Specialised Agencies, and I do not quarrel with her in that. Supplies of food are scarce, and they are becoming increasingly expensive. Such statistics on world production as are available are by no means fully reliable, but it seems quite clear—and the right hon. Lady made this point—that the rate of expansion in food production is slower than the rate of increase in population. It can well be said that that is one of the most urgent challenges to Governments today. It can well be said that that is the essential fact which faces us this afternoon.
The right hon. Lady gave some figures. Let us just glance at them again. The population of these areas is increasing, but that, of course, is not only because the birth rate is increasing but because slowly the appallingly high death rates are being conquered. It is the two together, as the right hon. Lady knows, that are having this effect. Even so, the gap is hideous. At birth a child today can expect to live 63 years in this country and 30 years in the countries with which we are at the moment mostly concerned.
It is true that in the narrowest sense of national interest we have got to encourage a rapid expansion of food production. That is not only because it would con- 1583 tribute directly to our own food supplies by increasing the exportable surpluses, but because it would contribute indirectly by cutting the demands on those surpluses by the under-nourished and undeveloped areas.
It follows that, from whatever point of view we look at this problem—from the point of view of Christianity, of humanity, or of the narrowest, meanest, most selfish self-interest—the answer here is the same: we must do everything we can to support the general work of F.A.O. But it is necessary in this field to adopt—and it has happened so often nationally as well—a system of priorities. We must here, as elsewhere, put first things first. The overriding problem, far over everything else, is to get more food produced.
We play a full part in the meetings and the conferences of F.A.O. We are a member of its Council and its Committee on Commodity Problems, and in their personal capacity our officials take part in the Co-ordinating Committee and in the Committee of Financial Control. F.A.O. has a very large programme of work, and it is interesting, I think, to look approximately at the division of its resources.
I understand that about half of the agency's resources are devoted to the gathering and the utilisation of information for the whole field, not only of agriculture but of the allied occupations of fishery and forestry that go with it; 30 per cent. are devoted to the advice and assistance of member Governments, and the remainder to the furthering of international co-operation.
There is one problem that perhaps we shall hear about today which is very much the concern of the F.A.O., and that is the question of how we are to deal with famine and with the other recurrent disasters which from time to time threaten various families of the human community. Steps have been taken with member Governments for forecasting famines and for taking early action upon them. Here again, we welcome very much international action in this field.
I want to say a word, before I come to one or two general points, about the World Health Organisation.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, Northwest)
Would the Minister be good enough to tell the Committee exactly how 1584 much we contribute towards each of these Specialised Agencies?
§ Mr. Macleod
I have given the figures for the World Health Organisation. It is quite easy to obtain the others, and they will be given to the hon. Member at some time during the debate.
The constitution of the World Health Organisation—and it seems to me most important to look at its definition of health—calls health a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity That seems a very real, a very positive declaration of what health should be. To say that health is just the prevention of ill-health is a very different matter from saying that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
In this field, as with F.A.O., the agency's activities are far too vast to be summarised in a few sentences. But originally the emphasis on W.H.O. lay, as indeed the right hon. Lady mentioned, upon particular diseases. She mentioned yaws. There are many, like malaria, T.B. and venereal disease, but there has been something of a change in emphasis, and I think correctly so, in the work done by the World Health Organisation. All kinds of assistance are now being made available within the limits of the resources of the organisation to the peoples of the different countries. I think that it is very important, too, that the activities of the organisation are being de-centralised. There are to be six—I think that is the final total—regional organisations of which the one for the area with which we are most intimately concerned is in New Delhi.
One of. the most important functions that W.H.O. can perform is by the organisation of courses and by a number of other methods to raise the standards of teaching and of professional training of all those concerned with health in its widest sense throughout the world. There was a very interesting example given in the debate in another place, to which the right hon. Lady referred, of a drive in a rice-producing area of Bengal which eliminated malaria and increased production by 15 per cent. We see in this sort of example the close and inevitable co-operation between F.A.O. and W.H.O. which has been and must remain an 1585 essential part of the work of the Specialised Agencies.
The right hon. Lady talked about the Economic Commission. I think that she inadvertently said the Economic Commission for South-East Asia. It covers, in fact, a rather wider area. It is for Asia and the Far East. We are, of course, a full member of that body and our dependent areas are associated members of what, I think, is called E.C.A.F.E. I think that it is important to be quite clear that these Economic Commissions are not, in the sense that we have been using the word, Specialised Agencies. They are not autonomous in the sense of the Specialised Agencies. It is quite clear that the United Kingdom has strong commercial, strategic, colonial and Commonwealth interests in the area covered by these regional Economic Commissions, and it is natural that we should aim to do everything we can to foster economic development in these regions.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question, without in any way wishing to be hostile, so that we may judge the basis upon which he is making this very interesting speech? Can he tell the Committee which Department or what committee has prepared the brief on which he is basing his speech?
§ Mr. Macleod
I do not think that is in the least relevant, but the answer, of course, is that about 10 different Departments are concerned—the Foreign Office, my Department, the Ministry of Food and a number of others—and I have done a considerable amount of work myself.
§ Mr. Snow
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for interrupting again. I did not ask the question in any hostile sense at all. I asked it to find out what organisation or committee is responsible for co-ordinating all these various Departments. His reply fulfils some of my worst expectations.
§ Mr. Macleod
Obviously there is no Department in the Government as such that co-ordinates this sort of matter; but there are consultations, and the Foreign Office, of course, has the prime responsibility; but there are many other responsibilities which are in fact concerned.
1586 The work of briefing and sending representatives to these Specialised Agencies is a matter for the principal Department concerned and, to take the example I gave of the World Health Organisation, that delegation consisted almost entirely of representatives from my Ministry, but it also included representatives from the Colonial Office—its principal medical officer—from the Scottish Office and from the Foreign Office as well; thus, in each particular case, the Ministries concerned collaborate and co-operate in the delegations which go from here to the various organisations. All these organisations have to be seen as part of the same drive. They have to be seen as partners in the same enterprise.
There is one matter that seems to me fundamental in our discussion of this problem. Do health and education come before economic progress, or is it from economic progress that health and education come? People may say that that is rather like the argument of the hen and the egg. In this country, the slow movement of economic progress brought with it in time health and education in an ever-widening field. It may be that in the areas we are talking about we should perhaps start at the other end. It may be, in short, that we should put more emphasis on people and less emphasis on things. This much is certainly true. From impoverished lands and from hungry, wretched people we can expect neither economic strength nor social nor political stability.
§ Mr. Macleod
But I feel that there is a very grave danger. It is very easy to talk in large phrases about this problem. The Economic and Social Council are now studying the suggestions that have been made for an international development authority, which was, I think, recommended in the report of the United Nations experts and which has also been recommended in a recent pamphlet to which some hon. Members opposite, and, in particular, the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), contributed.
It seems to me dangerously easy to talk in terms of making available 10 billion dollars a year for this purpose and to say, as the pamphlet does, that we may have to contemplate an expenditure from this country secured by an annual Vote 1587 of £400 million. That sum, of course, amounts to £8 a head for every man, woman and child in this country or, putting it in another way, to the whole of the cost of the National Health Service.
I believe that the last Government— there has been no difference in policy on this matter—and Her Majesty's present Government were right and are right to look very carefully indeed into the need for another vast international authority. It would be wrong and it would be cruel, and it might be fatal, to arouse hopes that may be pitched too high in this area of the world. It seems to me that the empirical, rather than the grandiose, approach is more appropriate.
One has to add that such sums of money as are contemplated by this sort of scheme, by this sort of pamphlet, can only conceivably be found in present circumstances from our defence programme. We have duties to the people of this country, to our Empire, to our allies and to all mankind, but surely our first duty is to be strong and to be solvent, because we would be miserable, worthless allies to the rest of the world if we were not.
In my last sentence or two I should like to give a tiny personal experience of what I mean. I have no deep experience of international conferences, but I did go last year to Strasbourg and played a very unimportant part in the deliberations. My contribution as far as the Assembly was concerned was limited to raising a point of order at 2 o'clock in the morning—they have late sittings on occasion even there. I discovered after I had raised it, in the best Nelson and Colne manner, that my point of order was wrong from beginning to end; and so I do not claim that I made any lasting impression upon the delegates of Strasbourg.
§ Mr. Macleod
I am not talking about the Strasbourg of this year, which, I claim, has been given a new purpose and direction as a result of the initiative that has been taken by my right hon. Friend. I am talking about the Strasbourg of last year, which was, unhappily, divided and yet sure that it had an important function to perform. There were so many big plans in the air, and it seemed absolutely impossible to get agreement on any of 1588 them, but away from the Assembly itself I attended a certain number of committees.
They were committees on things that seemed quite small, studying passport regulations, quarantine regulations, whether we could get a common code of social security, and the problem of refugees. It seemed to me that there, in those committee rooms, real, unspectacular progress was being made towards the unity of Europe that, at least last year, was not being achieved in the larger Assembly.
It may be that something of the same nature applies to the infinitely bigger problem that we are discussing today. By all means let us plan—and we must plan—imaginatively, widely and nobly for the future of these undeveloped territories. I believe, however, that we are now on the right lines. I believe that the work that is being done by the Specialised Agencies is the work that will increasingly help to bring prosperity to all the peoples of all these countries.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
The right hon. Gentleman's recollection of Strasbourg is almost exactly the same as mine as regards his point of order in the early hours of the morning, except that he would be surprised at the impression that he made and that he is still well remembered. I should like to say also how much I agree with the point that he made as to the value of the unspectacular committees which deal with particular problems; and I hope presently to take just that point in relation to the matter which is under debate.
In the course of the right hon. Gentleman's very interesting speech, he stated as one of the major problems the coordination of the intergovernmental autonomous agencies. The supreme example of co-ordination of these autonomous agencies is an organisation about which I shall speak. It is a programme which deals with a budget divided between these agencies: the F.A.O., the United Nations itself, which, of course, is not an agency. W.H.O., U.N.E.S.C.O., the I.L.O. and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
I am risking a lot—for we have been up all night—by quoting a few figures. I do so because they show not only the 1589 wide scope of this programme, which cuts across the agencies, but also the balance and the emphasis, which is much the emphasis that the right hon. Gentleman made in his speech. The budget of this programme is divided between F.A.O., 29 per cent.; United Nations, 23 per cent.; W.H.O., 22 per cent.; U.N.E.S.C.O., 14 per cent.; I.L.O., 11 per cent., and I.C.A.O., one per cent. It is the budget for technical assistance and is an important subject for study in this debate, for many reasons, not the least important of which is that it cuts these agencies in a fair cross-section, with the emphasis as the right hon. Gentleman left it.
I should like to begin by referring back to the inaugural address of President Truman in January, 1949, when he said:We must embark on a bold new programme for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.… This should be a co-operative enterprise in which all nations work together through the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies wherever practicable. It must be a world-wide effort for the achievement of peace, plenty and freedom.That, as hon. Members will recognise, was the original statement of the Fourth Point.
In the spring and summer of 1949 the Economic and Social Council considered this and other schemes that it had of its own and prepared a report, "Technical Assistance for Economic Development." It was sent to the General Assembly, which was to meet in the autumn of 1949, with a set of guiding principles, which were set out in this way: That the technical assistance should be given only at the request of the country concerned, that it should be designed both to meet the needs of the country concerned, and that the benefits should be distributed widely and equitably to contribute to a higher standard of living for the community as a whole and not one section in a particular country. At the meeting in the autumn of 1949 in New York, this report was debated at length in the Second Committee. I heard most of the debate and took part in it as a delegate.
We were able to do a real job in the Committee for the reasons which have already been advanced by the right hon. Gentleman as applied to another assembly. Also because the Second Committee 1590 was out of the headlines. There was not the temptation in that Committee to which diplomats and Ministers sometimes unfortunately succumb to indulge merely in a slanging match with the Russians and their satellites. Nothing is more nauseating at the United Nations than to see Western delegates going round anxious to show how tough they can be with the Russians.
§ Mr. de Freitas
It is nauseating to see delegates going round just anxious to show how tough they can be instead of getting down to work, as we did in the Second Committee. When we had the technical assistance debate we could easily have turned it into a slanging match with the Russians and their satellites on the one side and the Western nations on the other. We could easily have spent our time discussing the rejoinders and insults of the two sides.
We felt that if it were possible to present to the Russians and their satellites that this scheme was one by which all nations could join together against a common enemy—want and the lack of human dignity—we should be able to unite the Committee. It was a hard struggle but we achieved unanimity. It was very tempting to reply to the Russians and the satellite countries in the terms in which they opened their part in the debate.
They made long attacks on this country, its history and its institutions, going back I think to Simon de Montfort's days. There was the temptation to go back in history and attack them, dealing with the private lives of everybody prominent in Russia from Catherine the Great onwards. All of us resisted that temptation. As a result we got this scheme adopted unanimously by the Committee Subsequently we created an atmosphere of unanimity which allowed the General Assembly to pass it unanimously when it came before the Assembly in November that year.
As a result of that, the Technical Assistance Committee and the Technical Assistance Board were set up. A budget was fixed for technical assistance for the first year. It was a large sum that was broken down among these agencies to which I have already referred. I am 1591 offering this as an example, I know of no better, of the use that can be made of all these agencies.
At first sight it would seem that the International Civil Aviation Organisation and U.N.E.S.C.O. would have little to do with technical assistance. But of course transport aviation can open up a country, and agricultural aviation, which is in only its infancy, is already being used for spraying, sowing and so on. As for U.N.E.S.C.O., as the right hon. Gentleman has said, we do not want to get too bogged down in the hen and egg controversy, but U.N.E.S.C.O. clearly has a part to play in every form of development.
Throughout 1951, work went ahead, and more than 60 countries and territories applied for more than 500 technical experts. Some requests were for one expert, some for a whole training college. In some cases scholarships and fellowships were asked for, and granted.
I will take three countries, widely separated to illustrate the working of this-scheme. I select as my examples Ceylon, Chile and Yugoslavia. In the case of Ceylon, there came from the United Nations itself four experts to advise on the exploitation of the minerals in the beaches there. From the I.L.O. came 21 experts on the utilisation of manpower, co-operative fruit farming and productivity in industry, etc. From F.A.O. came 12 experts on soil fertility, the production of fertilisers, etc.. U.N.E.S.C.O. supplied five experts in education and W.H.O. 21 experts on maternal and child health, malaria control, etc.
At the other side of the world, in Chile, the I.L.O. provided four experts on the use of manpower and vocational guidance; F.A.O., 15 experts on the use of land, water conservation, the marketing of fish products, etc.; U.N.E.S.C.O.. six experts; W.H.O.. one expert.
In Europe, in Yugoslavia, the United Nations itself provided 27 experts on subjects as different as the rehabilitation of physically handicapped people and on electrical power and transportation questions; F.A.O., four experts; and W.H.O., 36 experts.
1592 Nearly all those countries were supplied with experts, the majority of whom, from the nature of things, came from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Canada. Those five countries supplied more than half the experts. A great deal has been written of the work which has been done in saving life and bringing hope and encouragement to those areas, but I shall not, especially after having been up all night, deal with that in detail now.
It is clear, however, that the next stage in the development of underdeveloped countries is not more technical assistance but capital investment, and we must recognise that at this stage all capital development schemes are bound in one way to become less international because the United States is the only really large source of capital in the foreseeable future. Thus we come back to where I started—President Truman's fourth point. What will happen in that respect depends on the education of the people of the United States to a realisation that a peaceful world cannot be half prosperous and half destitute.
They learned the hard way, through a civil war, that a nation cannot live half free and half slaves. That is the argument put in the most recent report by Senor Santa Cruz, President of the Economic and Social Council. He hopes, as I do, that the West, and especially the United States, will learn this economic lesson without the horror and waste of war. I submit that it is clear that most of the capital must be provided by the United States, but I think it important that we should gradually make it clear that in the world in which we live today we should not be pleading for the United States to contribute their great capital.
One does not pass a vote of congratulations every time one meets someone who pays surtax. As it is the duty of the wealthy citizen to contribute more to the State than does the poorer citizen, so it is the duty of the wealthier nation to contribute more than the poorer nation. That is elementary social justice.
I am not now arguing the full capital investment point. I am asking the Minister to make a note to ask the Under- 1593 Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who is to reply, to tell us the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to these schemes of technical assistance, especially the work of the Technical Assistance Committee and the Technical Assistance Board. On what grounds can they really justify this attack—this financial cut— on this constructive work. It is not enough to say that we are doing a lot through the Colombo Plan. Of course we are. But that is not the point. This technical assistance programme is a truly international scheme; that is why we must do all we can to help.
§ Mr. Braine
The hon. Gentleman is making the point that the Government cuts are causing serious interference with the programme of technical assistance. Is it not true to say that the real bottleneck in the technical assistance programme is that so many agencies in so many parts of the world are trying to draw on technical assistance and skill which does not exist in sufficient quantities?
§ Mr. de Freitas
That was perfectly true. Out of the £12 million voted in 1951 it was impossible to spend anything like that sum because of the shortage of experts, but if I am wrong in what I am saying, it is for the representative of the Foreign Office to tell me. I have not the information which he possesses and I should be delighted to hear what he has to say, but it appears to me that the work of the technical assistance committee will suffer in the future from the cuts. If that is not right, let us be so informed.
Mr. Trygve Lie has appointed the most senior British member of the secretariat —Mr. David Owen—as chairman of the Technical Assistance Board. The cuts may not have the consequences which I fear, and, if so, let us be told so. The reason why I and so many of my hon. Friends are suspicious about this is that when this important matter was discussed before the Second Committee, Her Majesty's Government did not send a Minister there, although year after year the Labour Government had a Minister at that committee. Now we have a civil servant—an extremely able civil servant, a man whom I know well. But previously we had a Minister on this committee, and it looks very much as though the Government do not pay as much attention to the committee as we did.
§ Mr. Braine
Let us get this in the right perspective. In Colonial development alone, in the last six years of the Labour Government this House voted a total of £140 million for Colonial welfare and development, but because equipment and technicans were not available, only £55 million has been committed. The problem which the hon. Gentleman raises is not a new problem which has suddenly arrived with the Conservative Government.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I understand the force of that argument. All I said was that it seemed to me that as a result of this cut by the Government the technical assistance programme will suffer. If it will not suffer, I want to be told so, and the only person who can enlighten us is the Minister who is in possession of all these facts. That is my sole point.
§ Mr. Braine
But the hon. Gentleman is surely aware of the distinction between a programme and money voted, on the one hand, and the resources which those programmes and that money command, on the other hand.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I thought that my illustration of what happened in 1951 met that point. It was impossible to spend all the £12 million. If the figure of £30 million which it is estimated will be spent in 1952 cannot, in fact, be spent; if that is the considered opinion of the Government, 1 should like to know the reason for it so that we may judge the position. I do not want to enter into a private discussion with the hon. Member on this point.
For several years I have been speaking in various places on the question of the development of the under-developed areas. So much is said about it nowadays that, whereas one would have been regarded as crazy three years ago in speaking about it, today one is in danger of being regarded merely as a bore. I will not dwell too long on the point, therefore. As my right hon. Friend for Ful-ham, West (Dr. Summerskill) pointed out, the problem is of dreadful poverty and lack of human dignity.
Of course, if we solve this problem it will not solve all our problems; there are always other problems which will arise if this is solved. But its solution, possibly under some international development authority, under the United Nations. could itself solve another problem—how 1595 to prevent the division of the world between the Russian dominated countries and the others. Just as we should all unite if all the nations of the world were attacked from outside by Mars or some other planet, so we have it within our power to unite to attack the common enemy which we know—the common enemy on earth: poverty and the lack of human dignity.
There is plenty of work here for generations—plenty of really constructive work in this battle against poverty. It would be a battle in which the Communist countries, the democratic countries, black and white, could join in a gigantic alliance. The Colombo Plan can give us a great lead; it can point the way. In a different way, Marshall Aid, too, is an example. But there is only one United Nations, and it is under that flag that we must fight this, the biggest battle of all.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Basil Nield (City of Chester)
I am sure the Committee is grateful to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) for his very interesting speech. I would say this at the outset of mine that I hope he will forgive me if I do not seek to develop the considerable number of points which he has made. The reason for that is that I desire to confine my remarks to a consideration of one of the Specialised Agencies, the World Health Organisation, which was finally established in 1948. The right hon. Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, as one would expect, both dealt with the problem on a very wide basis, and I hope the Committee will not mind if I confine myself to this one problem.
The Minister pointed out that the conception of an international health organisation is by no means new. Indeed, it is just 100 years since the first International Health Conference was held, designed to combat epidemics in Europe. That conference was not a great success, but the Venice Conference, in 1892, was a great success. It was a conference which sought to prevent the disease of cholera from reaching the Mediterranean area through the Suez Canal.
Thus, down the years these steps have been taken for progress towards a World Health Organisation. Just after the First World War, for example, I think it was 1596 the League of Red Cross Societies which appealed to the Peace Conference that steps should be taken to seek to deal with the diseases which were ravaging Europe after the war. The League of Nations had their organisation, too, and. coming to present times, it was at San Francisco in 1945 that it was first urged that health should become a matter to be dealt with by the United Nations.
In 1946, some 64 countries agreed that that should be so, and the agreement was ratified in 1948. The Committee may recall that the Director-General in charge of the Organisation was Dr. Brock Chisholm, who had been the head of the Canadian Army medical services during the second world war. The object of the Organisation was to act as the directing and co-ordinating authority on international health work. As I see it, the objectives were two-fold. The first was to assist nations directly by placing at their disposal the knowledge and skill required either to build or to improve their own health services. The second was to help indirectly by mobilising available resources for the solution of health problems. It must be clear to the Committee that such an organisation could not hope to take the place of a nation's health service. As I understand it, it seeks to help nations to help themselves in this vital work.
Although W.H.O. is yet young as an organisation, it can point to an impressive story of action and achievement. Some of these matters have been mentioned, but when we are considering the important issue of how far it is right to continue to support and, if possible, to increase our support for these organisations, it may be of interest to see what they are doing. So I thought it would be of interest to the Committee to look at some of the active, living, striking things which W.H.O. did in the year 1951.
If one looks at that troubled part of the world, the Near or Middle East, one finds a most impressive series of activities on the part of the Organisation, not always wholly responsible but always in part responsible for helping. For example, mobile health units—the gift of W.H.O.—were shipped to Jordan, to Syria and to the Lebanon. An antituberculosis centre was inaugurated in Istanbul. A medical teaching unit was sent to Israel and Iran. A new 1597 quarantine station was constructed at Jedda for the Pilgrims to Mecca, and there was what I am told was a highly successful demonstration of the latest methods of heart surgery in those parts and a survey of other diseases in the Middle East.
Again, if one looks to India and Pakistan, there was a two year antimalaria demonstration in Pakistan which had the most striking results. It was completed last year. Emergency health aid was ready to go, and was sent to India against cholera and malaria in the famine areas.
Now I look at the Far East. The first international tuberculosis centre was opened in Bangkok with W.H.O. support. In Indonesia and Thailand half a million people were examined for the complaint of yaws, and 140,000 people were treated with penicillin. There was in South America an intensive campaign against typhus in Peru, and the first children's hospital was opened in Bolivia.
These are striking achievements by which we can judge whether or not we are right or wrong in saying, let us support organisations such as these. There is much more to be said as regards the central nations of Europe and Italy in particular. Mention has been made of the Fourth World Health Assembly held in Geneva last year. I take the view that two most important things happened there when the Assembly approved two tasks that had been carried out by the central technical services of W.H.O. which have their base at Geneva.
The first was the publication of the first international pharmacopeia containing a set of formulae for various medicines, and so on, in all the countries. The second was the standardisation of 59 biological substances, sera and the like, to provide added safety in the treatment of illness. It is also interesting to observe that last year four new members joined the Organisation: the Federal German Republic, Spain, Japan and Panama, making a total membership of 79 countries in W.H.O.
I hope I have not wearied the Committee with the recital of these facts. We have many difficulties of our own at home and it is right I think to say that we have a first duty to our own people. However, I hope very much, and I feel quite confident from what the Minister has 1598 said, that Her Majesty's Government will continue to support and, if possible to increase the support to be given for organisations such as that to which I have confined my remarks, W.H.O. and the other specialised organisations.
Hon. Members who have preceded me also have put this point, that to support these Specialised Agencies would be not merely to serve the cause of humanity, but also to aid world economic recovery and, in its own way, to help in the effort to establish an assured peace in which our energies must never flag.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
Anyone who listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Nield) will take note of the danger into which he may run if anything he says can be construed as a criticism of the work which has so far been carried out by these Specialised Agencies. Nevertheless, in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, and in certain other speeches, I have detected a sense of comparative complacency about the existing structure under which these agencies work.
If I may quote from a speech of Pym a long time ago, speaking to the House of Commons he once said:Therefore it is observed by the best writers on this subject, that those Commonwealths have been most durable and perpetual which have often reformed and recomposed themselves according to their first institution and ordinance: for by this means they repair the breaches and counterwork the ordinary and natural effects of time.One of the frightening things I find when speaking about the United Nations in public is the comparative disinterest of the public at large in its work and the work of the agencies. The sparse attendance in the Chamber makes one realise how relatively small is the interest, even among hon. Members, in the work of the agencies. I take into account the fact that we have had an all-night sitting, but I also take into account the fact that a passing reference to hon. Members who have gone to sleep this afternoon was made by a right hon. Lady who, I strongly suspect, was not here during the night. Had this been a debate on a controversial subject, say, like capital punishment, this Chamber would have been full, all-night sitting or no all-night sitting.
1599 The problem of dealing with United Nations matters in this House is further complicated by the fact—witness my intervention when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking—that it is by no means easy to pin-point Ministerial responsibility. Anyone who has tried to table a Question in connection with the Colombo Plan will know what I mean. After about three weeks' argument and discussion with the Table Office I have just succeeded.
In the view of many people the time has come—I beg hon. Members to believe that this is not a party point—when the Government should consider appointing a Minister to deal with United Nations relationships and establish a bureau to which politicians and the public could appeal for information. I do not believe that private organisations such as the United Nations Association can fulfil this function, a matter to which I shall refer again later.
In the speeches to which we have listened has been the inevitable conflict between the economic interests of the "have" nations versus those of the "have-not" nations. There is a tendency, as we see it now, for the "have" nations to start restricting their aid programmes and for the "have-not" nations to be more and more frustrated in their individual efforts to improve their own domestic economies.
We might for a moment consider whether the structure of the agencies and of the United Nations in general might be improved. I often wonder whether hon. Members have given enough consideration to the provisions of Article 109 (3) of the Charter, which allow consideration of amendments to the Charter after 10 annual sessions have taken place. The paragraph reads:If such a conference"—that is, a general conference of the members of the United Nations—— has not been held before the tenth annual session of the General Assembly following the coming into force of the present Charter, the proposal to call such a conference shall be placed on the agenda of that session of the General Assembly, and the conference shall be held if so decided by a majority vote of the members of the General Assembly and by a vote of any seven members of the Security Council.According to my calculation, that means that by the end of 1954 we shall have had to complete our deliberations 1600 and make a decision on the kind of amendments, if any, that we consider it necessary to place on the 1955 agenda of the General Assembly. If that is so, it is high time this House began debating the issue. I want to make some proposals with special relationship to the Specialised Agencies which I think might be of some help.
First of all, in the nature of major amendments, I suggest that the whole setup of the agencies is purely one of an administrative type of function and, in spite of the good work that the agencies have carried out, we must decide whether that work can be expedited and improved. By the nature of their existing constitutions, many of the agencies are simply incapable of executive action even if they had more definite executive authority in their respective fields than they possess at present. I have received one suggestion from a very knowledgeable person that we might consider the constitution of the Council of Europe and having a Council of Ministers of similar portfolios who might frame policy, take executive action and, by some form of constitutional annexe to the Charter, impose policy and policy decisions thus produced on the subscribing nations.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
This is very interesting, and I am sure we all want to understand it clearly. Is the proposal that every member of the Assembly and any additional members of the Specialised Agencies should appoint a ministerial representative, or is my hon. Friend suggesting that there should be some selection inside the Assembly, and if he is suggesting that, what would be the difference between that council and the existing Social and Economic Council?
§ Mr. Snow
The broad principle of the proposal might be just as it is in the Council of Europe, an assembly of ministers, for instance, in connection with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a body of ministers carrying equivalent portfolios in national legislatures who, operating under a constitutional annexe which could be passed by the Assembly, could impose on the subscribing nations a decision thus reached. If I have not completely answered my right hon. Friend's question it is because it is rather complicated and I should like to give his question rather deeper thought.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I should like to get this clear because it is a novel suggestion to me. The hon. Gentleman used the word "impose," the suggestion being that this grouping together of ministers into a committee should be able to impose its decisions on member countries. The hon. Gentleman used the analogy of the Council of Ministers in the Council of Europe. But the Council of Ministers is part of the Council of Europe; decisions are not imposed on others and the Parliaments represented remain sovereign.
§ Mr. Snow
That is a possible criticism of the effectiveness of the existing Council of Europe, but the constitution is there. I should have thought that, even in recent history, decisions taken by Foreign Secretaries at Strasbourg have had an overwhelming influence on their national legislatures. Perhaps that is debatable, but it is my impression. I am not suggesting that in the national field the decision taken on the central United Nations body would be implemented by that body, but under the constitutional annexe which I suggest could be framed the Minister of Food in this country, for instance, would be responsible for carrying out nationally a decision arrived at internationally.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)
Granted that the proposal which my hon. Friend makes is accepted, how does he propose to do away with Parliamentary democracy even in relation to his own proposal of a kind of constitutional annexe conferring on certain people certain powers in relation to the Council of Europe or any other organisation? How does he propose to do away with obligations to ratify agreed conventions or approve recommendations by member States if Parliamentary democracy is to be maintained?
§ Mr. Snow
I think my hon. Friend will have realised that I was speaking, as he may possibly know, as a convinced World Federalist in this matter. I am the first to say that those of us on both sides of the House who have been studying World Federalism are coming to the conclusion that we cannot say that in respect of all folios, legislation, the enforcement of law and the maintenance of peace can be based on global federalism. Some, I suggest, civil legal problems, for example, 1602 should be based on a global federalism, but certain matters—and I am suggesting that this question of the F.A.O. agency is a case in point—-may be dealt with on a functional basis under a constitutional annexe such as I have proposed. I do not think the House would welcome me if I went into great detail, but I have put the matter forward in principle.
On the question of the amendment of the Charter, may 1 inform the House of a most interesting book by Grenville Clarke, entitled "Plan for Peace," in which he suggests, amongst other amendments—this is a rather wider matter-that membership of the United Nations should be an open membership and that there should be no right of resignation and that in the matter of decisions which are binding on the Member States they should be applicable, not merely to nations, but to individuals as well. I believe that by the latter we shall begin to get greater efficiency in these agencies under the pressure of public opinion.
If I may deal now with minor amendments to the Charter, I should relate it to our own national problems. I think there is a case for proposing an amendment relative to the position of national delegations. As I understand it, under Article 9 of the existing Charter a national delegation is restricted to five members. I do not think that is enough. I do not think it can possibly represent public opinion in this country, especially under the present arrangements made for this country. It might be better to try to consider a delegation, following the medium we all know about, of pairing for delegations, which is done in other connections. At the last Paris General Assembly, of 238 only 45 were elected Members of Parliament, or their equivalent. Of that 45 we had five, including Ministerial persons.
I am not disagreeing with the point about election—I very much share that—but, again, I am puzzled as to how my hon. Friend means to relate these delegations to the proceedings at the United Nations. By definition they must be representative of governments and they could have no power to act unless they were governmental delegations.
§ Mr. Snow
My right hon. Friend is thinking in terms of what has been happening in recent years in Strasbourg, and no one regrets that more than I. Perhaps 1603 I am rather too politically innocent in the matter, but I should have thought that a national delegation based on the proposals I have made could arrive at a reasonably common policy.
My right hon. Friend says that by definition it is governmental—well, let us have an amendment of Article 9. These are matters which, I stress to the Committee, may appear to be very antipathetic to existing Parliamentary procedure but, nevertheless, the public at large are beginning to be distrustful of the United Nations. It is not carrying out its functions and much of the public believe that it is about time certain reforms took place. Although I personally believe that in about 18 months' time we shall be sitting on the other side of the House and hon. Members opposite will be here, nevertheless I should like to go on record that that is my view and that I shall stand up for it when the time comes.
Continuing with the minor Amendments, I think it is about time this Chamber had an annual Vote on the United Nations contribution. We should give more detailed consideration to our commitments in this Chamber. The money we do contribute and our general commitments to the Assembly are simply unknown to the vast majority of the public. That is a position which should be rectified.
In passing, I should like to mention the United Nations Association, for which, of course, there is no ministerial responsibility. I do not know whether hon. Members on my side have had this experience, but in my constituency it is regarded, I think quite wrongly, as another crypto-Tory organisation. There are a lot of titled people at the head of it. The reason, I suppose, is not only because they are the sort of people who frequently have the time to devote to this kind of thing—whether they have intellectual qualifications or not is another matter—but many of the people I have the honour to represent not only do not have the time but feel that when they do get it they may find themselves at a disadvantage. That is a position which is regrettable, and we ought to try to give as much help through the bureau I have suggested, and in particular through a Minister responsible for organisation and for conveying the right sort of factual information to the public at large.
1604 I conclude with a quotation from a speech by Mr. Trygve Lie which emphasises the need to keep in mind the whole time the need for reviewing the Charter. He said in a speech to the American oil industry and American industry as a whole:Science and industry have brought the whole world into a neighbourhood in the physical sense long, before the peoples of the world were prepared in their minds and hearts for such a close association.He added:The Charter of the United Nations is the constitutional foundation for a world order that must be built to fit the needs of the scientific and industrial civilisation in which we live if we are to escape the self-destruction of that civilisation.Much comment has been made this afternoon on the operations of the World Health Organisation. I must not conclude on a controversial matter. None of us wants to build up re-armament to the degree we are committed to; but I think the public could probably quickly be made to realise the urgency by linking a reduction in re-armament, or a linking of disarmament, to increasing capital investments in the under-developed areas. This is the sort of example which might impress itself on the public mind, make the public more conscious of this very necessary matter and make them realise how deeply they are committed—at the lowest in their own interests—how deeply committed individually, and how deeply we are committed nationally, quite properly, to see that the United Nations does succeed.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The hon. Member for Lichfield and Tam-worth (Mr. Snow) seemed very reluctant to say anything that he thought might be controversial. Certainly that was the purport of what he began by saying. I say to him that I do not regard the United Nations or anything connected with United Nations, whether it be the agencies or the United Nations Association, as something which does not automatically arouse controversy. I think it does, and it would be very unhealthy if it did not.
The whole strength of this Chamber, as I have had occasion to say before, lies very largely in the fact that we are divided on a great many issues. I certainly think that if we allowed ourselves only to say 1605 those things on which we were agreed when we talked about the United Nations, we should do no one any good and we might do our own country a great deal of harm.
I do not want to deal with many of the points that have been raised by hon. Members opposite, except to say to the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tam-worth that I think there is considerable need for revision of the main structure of the United Nations, particularly in the Security Council, and the biggest need is that the proceedings of the Security Council should take place in private.
I would disagree with the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth that the activities of the United Nations ought to be made more public. My own belief is that far better results would accrue if the Security Council meetings were held in private.
The disturbing problems to be debated in the Security Council would be better dealt with if the people taking part in the discussions had not to meet the threat of their faces being carried all over the United States by television, or of newspapermen taking down every word that they are saying. We have suffered from that in the past. It may be the position is improving, and today for the first time Mr. Gromyko is reported as making less acrimonious speeches. I hope that the general tone will go on improving in the future.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I appreciate that point, and if I were prepared to accept his suggestion for the specialised organisations, I would agree with him that they should be held in public. I see no harm at all in that unless matters being considered are of such a very delicate nature, like a religious question or something of that sort in a particular country, that they should be taken in private.
My main point is one very small Specialised Agency of the United Nations which to my mind, despite all that has been said about the need for an increase in food production—and I fully agree with that because it is very important from this country's point of view—is of 1606 paramount importance. Every hon. Member who sat in the 1945–50 Parliament ought to have on his or her conscience all the time the responsibility for the condition of approximately one million people who today are living in very great misery indeed.
Those are the Arab refugees from Palestine. Some hon. Members may think that I am dealing with a lost cause, but if it should ever happen that people living in misery as these are, for whom we certainly were greatly responsible in the past and ought to be responsible today, are looked upon by us in the House purely as a lost cause and as people in whom we should take no interest, then I say—and here I might quote what was said by an hon. Member on the other side of the Committee on one occasion—we should hang our heads in shame.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, in November last, during a debate on foreign affairs, made a very encouraging speech on this matter, and dealt with what he hoped would be done with the Arab refugees. We really felt then that here was someone who was effectively going to tackle this problem. Certainly, the United Nations have agreed in principle to take action which may be a great deal more constructive than anything that has been done up to now. They have agreed to raise a fund of 250 million dollars, but only 50 million of those dollars are to be spent on actual relief. The 200 million dollars are to be spent integrating these refugees into the economies of the countries now sheltering them.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
§ Major Legge-Bourke
Yes, but the words "integrate into the economies of the countries" were used in the resolution. There were over 900,000 refugees at the end of last year, and if only 50 million dollars are to be allocated for actual relief, it means that we are going to spend, roughly, one dollar on each of those refugees for 50 days. I do not know if the money is yet available. I am hoping my hon. Friend will be able to tell us later this evening, but it is not very much for actual relief work and to keep them alive pending an agreement from other countries to look after them 1607 for considerable periods, if not permanently.
Syria has recently slated that she is prepared to come in on this matter, provided it does not mean that the refugees have to forgo their claims to eventual repatriation to Israel or to that part of Israel where they lived. I was not one of those who was particularly keen on the establishment of the State of Israel, certainly in its present form. That was not because I believed that the Jews had no rights in this matter nor was it that I was particularly anxious to favour the Arabs over them. The only reason I believed that the United Nations were doing wrong was that I felt it was basically wrong to uproot a whole body of people and move them out from their country or cause them to flee in panic.
I do not retract anything I said at the time over that, but what I say now is that it is no good holding these views and doing nothing about the one million people who are suffering acute misery or saying that this sort of thing ought not to happen and leave it there. It astounds me that so few people in this country seem to take very much interest in the plight of these people. All of us ought to be urging more and more public interest in this matter.
I am hoping that my hon. Friend will be able to tell us what steps the Foreign Secretary is taking to keep the United Nations up to the mark on this matter. We have no power to do it on our own. and I think that possibly it raises a problem which may well be considered, and that is whether it is always best for a combined United Nations fund to be spent by a fully representative United Nations body. I imagine we might get better results if we could get one country to undertake the administration of this money. No one country is more likely to produce men and women who in recent years have learned more about Palestine than is this country, and I am wondering whether it might not be a good suggestion for my right hon. Friend to put to the other people interested that we should undertake to implement the work which is being financed by the United Nations in an effort to solve this refugee problem. It has gone on too long. I am not blaming my right hon. Friend for that, because the real problem 1608 goes far further back than that. But the main thing is to get something done. It is obvious that what is being done is not being done fast enough.
In just the same way the Mixed Armistice Commission, which is supposed to be solving all the difficulties which arose after the original cease-fire, will never solve them because it represents an equal number of members for each side, with one impartial chairman. When we have a set-up like that, what happens is that two take one side and two take the other and decisions are made by the chairman the whole time. And what can they do about it when they have taken a decision? There is no way of implementing it if neither side is prepared to play.
I hope that from what I have said it will be seen that there is considerably more justification for, and it is far easier to understand, the frontier incidents caused by Arabs trying to get back into Israel than to understand why certain Jews should be trying to get across into the Arab territory. They have their country in Israel now, and one would have thought that was enough. We had enough assurances that it would be, but we still have these frontier incidents.
As my hon. Friend knows, I have been pursuing these various incidents as they have come up, and when evidence has been provided for me that there is a prima facie case that they occurred. I do not propose to read out the horrible details of them, but I think it right that a few more people should know than it would appear do know the number of casualties. The number known to have been killed up to January of this year was 72; wounded, 85; abducted, 73. Those are Arabs either killed, wounded or abducted by Jewish raiders.
I am not saying that certain Arabs have not taken action of a retaliatory nature, but I do not think that one can blame them. Perhaps it is a pity that they did it. One might hope there would be peace on that frontier now, but there is not. The Mixed Armistice Commission has not established peace there. So long as these incidents go on, there will not be a stable peace in the Middle East, no matter what we are able to do economically for Israel or anywhere else, no matter what the F.A.O. or any other organisation may be able to do in the way of developing the Middle East from the point of view of food production.
1609 The problem will not be solved unless we can stop these frontier incidents, because they are promoting bad blood the whole time. I hope that my right hon. Friend may consider the possibility of improving the construction of this Mixed Armistice Commission by giving ourselves or some other country a majority on it. I do not believe that in its present construction it will bring about peace in Palestine or on the frontier between Israel and Jordan.
Although I have said critical things in the past, I have always believed that the greatest work which the League of Nations ever did was work which is now being done to a far greater extent by the organisations mentioned this afternoon, the W.H.O. and F.A.O. in particular, and the work for children's relief as well. Those were magnificent achievements and no one who regretted the passing of the League of Nations need ever be ashamed of that sort of work, whatever misgivings they may have about the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations as a political instrument.
The work which the United Nations are doing in this field is obviously of vital importance, but I think that the Minister of Health made the truest remark which has so far been made in this debate when he said that what really matters from our point of view is, first of all, that we should make ourselves solvent. If in a fit of great generosity we start pouring out relief to other people, we may in the end hurt not only those people but our own people very severely indeed.
Hon. Members opposite who complain —and the right hon. Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) was the first to attack on this line— that we are being niggardly in making any reduction at all in the technical aid contribution, must bear in mind that it is always the case that when the finances of this country are mismanaged, when a critical situation arises in this country, the first people to suffer are always the people who can least afford to suffer. And I am afraid that is so abroad. If Great Britain, with all her great history, were to fall, and even to go under—there is I believe still a risk that that might happen—then the people who would suffer first would be the people who have relied on us most 1610 in the past. Those are the people who need help, wherever they may be, in the British Commonwealth or the Empire or the world at large.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health was absolutely right when he said that the first thing we have to do is to be solvent. The other thing we have to do is to keep the peace. If we achieve those two things, then we shall really have done something to strengthen what the United Nations are said to stand for. At the moment I do not believe the United Nations Organisation is working as well as it might. I have made some suggestions this afternoon-about the way in which I hope it may be-improved. I do not pretend to know the inner workings of some of these committees. All one can say is that from the outside we can see they are not achieving the results which they were established to achieve, and I hope that every effort will be made to rectify the faults as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Janner
Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman finishes, will he say what he considers to be a reasonable sum for our country to spend on these Specialised Agencies in order to be able to say that we are doing this rationally and reasonably? The type of argument he has used is being used in a vacuum. He must say what he thinks are the sums involved. Does he know the sums involved?
§ Major Legge-Bourke
The hon. Gentleman says my argument is being used in a vacuum. I cannot be responsible for his description of himself.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his catalogue of incidents on the Palestine border. I wish to return to the speech of the Minister, because it took me back almost 20 years to my student days. I remember then a famous statesman and geographer who coined the phrase "the cost of geographical ignorance is immeasurable." In wartime that is a truism, and the conduct of the war by the Prime Minister is a worthy example. I want to say to Tories that they have still to learn that the strategy of peace must also be based upon geo- 1611 graphy. The earlier speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) gave us this in good measure.
At the hustings last October we might have heard a little less of the wild statements we did hear if some hon. Members had looked into these reports and the outline for 1950 of the state of food and agriculture published by the United Nations. I should like to discuss the economic facts as shown in the annual report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. The world food position is indeed terrifying in juxtaposition with the population. I should like to emphasise the position in order to get our later discussions in perspective. In 1951 our food output had increased slightly, but the world population had increased very much. If we take the 1937–38 index as 100, the 1949–50 output of food was 106 and in 1950–51 it was 109.
The current food supply is thus slightly greater, but the population is up by something like 10 per cent. We have many more mouths to feed and many more empty bellies to fill. Let us be blunt about this. The word "democracy" when it is mouthed in this context merely produces a belch from an empty stomach. It means little or nothing to these starving millions, especially in South-East Asia. The low level of consumption in Asia and the low level of nutrition in Africa and elsewhere must be seen to be believed.
I have spent some time on the west coast of Africa, where the people are comparatively well fed compared with those in other parts of the continent. Even there on some of the poor soils, with a population of 1,000 per square mile, malnutrition is common. I wish to make only two comments about this. I wish to quote the words of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in this review. He said— and this makes us think—… we had hoped there would be much progress to report in agricultural and food consumption, especially in the areas of the greatest difficulties and shortages. The combined circumstances of world war damage or deterioration, gradually swelling populations, droughts, floods, continued civil disturbances, the diversion of energy to armed forces and the unpreparedness of many nations for 1612 rapid or energetic development, have limited actual progress to much less than had been hoped.Food consumption is still below prewar level. In great areas of the world about half the world population still pursues agriculture with inadequate equipment. It is a good day's work for a peasant in Nigeria to clear an area of 10 feet by 30 feet with inadequate tools such as hoe or a matchet. Technical assistance upon a vast scale is needed in the backward, undeveloped areas. Few small tools, scanty fertilisers, pesticides, a high level of illiteracy—these are the handicaps of the undeveloped areas. In Nigeria only one boy in 10,000 has any chance at all of technical education. These are the tasks to which we must devote ourselves.
If we are to ensure that we have sufficient food, action is needed now. The highly developed countries must speed the economic development of these less favoured areas. It is not, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham. West said, quixotic philanthropy to do this. It is enlightened self-interest of the best 19th century type of Tory philosophy. Put at its lowest, it is that.
Are we prepared to do this? Certainly we on this side of the Committee are prepared. We have always taken the side of the bottom dog. I think that the party opposite have learned a lot during the last six or seven years. I am willing to believe that they are determined to tackle this problem in the spirit which the Minister expressed today. What terrifies me when I look at some parts of the world, especially Malaya, is that areas which once supplied food to other parts of Asia are now eating their own food and even producing less for themselves as opposed to exporting to other areas such as the subcontinent of India.
As a result of Korea and re-armament, we find that many areas, especially in South-East Asia, are now producing plants—for example, fibres—for export at the expense of food production. Again. in Africa there is no export of sugar or rice even among the African people themselves.
Another matter that terrifies me when I consider it in the context of expanding world population and diminishing food supplies is the question of de-forestation in Africa and many parts of the Middle 1613 East. When we were at school we were told that the classical Empire perished mainly because of this one factor—deforestation in what today we now call Palestine and the Lebanon. Vast quantities of fertile soil were washed from the hillsides into the sea, and this was soil which in the past had fed millions of people.
We see this process today in many parts of the world. No less an authority than Lord Boyd Orr said that the loss of soil fertility and soil erosion was the biggest problem facing mankind today. The world shortage of food is bedevilled by declining productivity of the land itself and we must send out insecticides, fertilisers and other equipment to assist the people in the backward areas.
Then there is the question of demand of the indigenous populations. Africa had a population of 120 million at the end of the First World War. At the end of the last war it had a population of almost 200 million. Nigeria alone has a population of over 30 million. It is the biggest population in any colonial territory we now possess. The simple fact is that these peoples overseas are no longer content to accept coolie rations to feed West End hotels or the humbler homes in the East End with cheap food. That day has gone, and we must face up to it. We can no longer have ample food at cheap cost.
Again, let us consider not only our political empire in Africa but our former economic empire in the Argentine and South America. The gaucho is not merely eating more on the pampas, having raised the beasts, but four million of the proletariat in Buenos Aires are demanding bigger rations. We did not hear very much about this on the hustings last October. But L. F. Easterbrook in the "News Chronicle" said:Meat is more likely to stay short than any other food commodity because the world's exportable surplus is shrinking. This is not because production is falling, but because consumption is rising in countries that are big meat producers.We have heard a lot about armaments and the diversion of our resources to arms production. I did my part in my own constituency, as must we all, in talking to farmers about the lack of labour on the farms and the lack of machines today, because of demands elsewhere. But what about overseas? The labour 1614 supply on the land in North America is down by 10 per cent., because the people are going to the cities.
Summing it up, we find that all these factors conspire to mean less food coming to these islands, and, if we wish to lift up these over-populated backward territories elsewhere in the world, we have not merely to export capital in the shape of capital goods, but we must also export men and technicians. Here we have full employment, but in Nigeria, for example, at this moment they want two skilled technicians to go out there to lecture and teach people in the railway workshops at Lagos. They cannot get them; they cannot get two skilled English technical teachers to go out there to teach classes of 30 apprentices, on two half days a week.
Thus I think the world may be heading for a period in which the 3 per cent. increase which I mentioned earlier may well slacken up. We may not get 3 per cent. but only 2 per cent., or even less. We may have diminishing supplies of food coming into this country.
I want to make one more quotation and to ask the Minister to answer it in his summing up. Again, it is from the Director-General of the F.A.O. in this annual review, and it is a very disturbing forecast indeed. He says:At the same time, the future has become increasingly unpredictable, for a further wide-scale expansion or an extensive new recession are equally possible, according to political and military developments.Earlier today, I thought the Minister looked like joining the camp of the Bevanites, but he rather weakened and went back to the orthodox position, but whether we are talking about arms or not, there is no doubt that the future can be exceedingly grave, and I would therefore ask the Minister to attempt to answer this statement or give his views in this particular context about our future needs.
These backward peoples want our "know-how." When I was in West Africa, I spoke with Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, and I was interested to note the things that the Gold Coast wanted. Mr. Nkrumah said that they needed U.N. technical assistance, Ferguson tractors from my own town of Coventry, and plenty of them, and, more important, the early beginning and completion of the 1615 Volta dam. They also want our assistance with capital goods.
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations mainly divides its work into three sections—technical assistance for economic development, training public administrators and advising in social welfare services. They are in process of evolving, and there is a changed emphasis in their work from general surveys to intensive work on more specific projects. They are now examining, as in Pakistan, their transport on inland waterways, while in Libya the emphasis is on public administration, harbour installations and water supplies.
I do not want to list all the technical assistance that has been given in the last year to all the nations that need it and come within the United Nations survey, but there are some really interesting schemes going on. Perhaps I may mention one, which shows the amount of work that is being done. A Danish expert upon the utilisation of steam from the geysers of Iceland has gone to the Island of Santa Lucia to attempt to harness the steam from "fumaroles"—for the purpose of heat and power in this West Indian Island.
I am not quite sure how far we can go in this question of an International Development Authority. But so little has yet been done in this world context. If in the United Kingdom we are going to spend £250 million on a Vote, we are going to have abstinence and some degree of denying ourselves of social services here, but we must make our choice. It is an enormous task that we have to tackle, and, if we are to help these backward peoples and also feed ourselves, it will not be done for £250 million or even more than that sum. There will have to be a big change of heart on the part of the people who live in Walthamstow or Coventry, because we are asking the nations now to behave towards their brethren overseas in the way in which the Church has been asking us here individually for the last 2,000 years.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
I think we can all agree about the deep sincerity of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), but I rather disliked the implication in the early part of his 1616 speech that one side of the Committee was more deeply interested in this problem than the other. I am sure that he did not really mean that.
At the same time, I should like also to say that I deprecated the reference which another hon. Member made earlier to the thinness of the attendance in the Committee, when he knows that most of us, on both sides of the Committee, sat right through last night and have had no sleep at all. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary himself has found time to come to listen to part of the debate, and that, at least shows the intense interest which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee show in this important subject.
Of course, as our world is getting smaller and becoming more interdependent, we can less and less afford to ignore what is going on elsewhere in it. We know that if Communism sweeps over Indo-China that will affect our security in the long run. We know that if there is drought in Australia, or the rice harvest fails in Burma, these events must affect our economy. Only last year, the rise and fall in the prices of only three commodities, not produced in Britain, precipitated the balance of payments crisis which this country is fighting to overcome at the present moment. Those commodities are wool, rubber and tin.
There is no escape for us from what is happening elsewhere in the world. Anything which encourages international cooperation, which fosters awareness of these problems about which we have been hearing in the course of the debate, and which makes us aware of world economic and social trends is therefore to be welcomed. To that extent, of course, the United Nations Organisation and its Specialised Agencies fulfil a most useful function.
I want to refer to the World Economic Survey, a work of particular significance at the present time, prepared annually to aid the Economic and Social Council to take stock of the world economic situation and to make recommendations This year's report is an immensly important document. I would make it compulsory for everybody engaged in public life in this country to read it. It tells a story which we should be foolish to ignore. It says:World supplies of food continue to increase less rapidly than its population and far 1617 less rapidly than its output of industrial goods. In the world as a whole the consumption of food per capita is less now than it was 10 years ago. Moreover, inequalities in food consumption are now greater than before the war; some countries enjoy substantially increased supplies of food per capita while others have suffered reductions.I have been doing a little research on this subject and I find that the situation has worsened since that report was published. Let us consider the situation of India which is, of course, part of our Commonwealth system. In the last 10 years, the population of the Union of India has increased from 318 million to 361 million, an increase of 43 million. In the same period, however, its cereal production has dropped from 44.8 million tons to 41.6 million tons despite this vast increase in population.
The figure of 41.6 million tons is a key figure. Of course, millions of tons mean nothing at all to the individual—but this figure means that the availability of food for each adult in the Indian Union declined from 364 lb. per annum in 1941 to 318 lb. per annum in 1951. If present tendencies go on unchecked, by 1961 the population of India will have reached at least 404 million, and instead of India being, as she was before the war, an exporter of wheat, she will be obliged to import 8 million tons of wheat and other cereals in order to sustain her existing standard of living, which is below the prewar level anyway.
§ Mr. Braine
Yes, if she can get it.
I want, if I may, to go into this matter in detail, because I am sure it is of interest to the Committee. Since the war the population of southern and eastern Asia has increased by 100 million, whereas the production of food per capita has declined. I think that we in the West are just beginning to understand how Japan has bedevilled the situation. Before the war she used to draw her rice supplies from her dependencies in Korea and Formosa. Korea is now an importer of food from the West and Formosa, which supports a large refugee population, is no longer in the running.
Japan, with a population increasing at the rate of two million a year, is making claims on the exportable rice surpluses of South-East Asia which before the war used to be made available to territories 1618 in the East for which we have a special responsibility. The point is that less rice is entering the world export market anyway. Before the war, Burma, Siam and Indo-China exported a total of 6.3 million tons, whereas last year the figure was down to 3.1 million tons. Burma is now disorganised and apathetic and her marginal ricelands have gone out of cultivation because their productivity has declined. Indo-China is a battlefield. Siam is getting back to somewhere near her pre-war levels, but we are not getting the rice from that area with which to sustain the territories for which we in this country, let alone the United Nations. have a special responsibility.
The point I wish to make is that to some considerable extent the gap is being filled by food grain imports from the West, and two very important considerations arise out of that. The first is—and I am sure that people in the West still do not understand that this is taking place —that there is now a reverse of the prewar trade in exports from the East to the West. Food is now moving from the West to the East.
The May circular of the London Rice Brokers' Association says:This ' shift' has been achieved to such an extent that in 1951 combined exports of rice and other food grains to Eastern countries exceeded 10 million tons, more than double the pre-war rice exports to the East from the traditional rice-exporting countries.That is something which is going to have a profound effect on the food supplies of the Western countries, and I want to tell the Committee something of what is happening.
Egypt is now selling rice to the East at £60 or £70 a ton. It is profitable for her to do so because she is importing wheat with which to feed her own population at £30 a ton. Last year, this country sought to buy rice from Italy. That country has a large exportable surplus of wheat normally consumed in Europe. I will not say that the contracts were actually signed, but we never got the rice. The reason we did not get it was that Japan and Indonesia outbid us and other European customers and paid with dollars.
It must be a completely unprecedented state of affairs when Asian countries are able to lay successful claim to European food surpluses. This situation is bound 1619 to have the most profound repercussions upon the food situation of the world as a whole. We cannot insulate ourselves from what is going on in the East, and we are already becoming the victims of what is happening.
The second point I want to make is that the territories for which we have a special responsibility and whose economy is linked with ours—I am referring particularly to Malaya—are now dependent for rice supplies upon foreign sources which are already diminishing and which are menaced by the onward march of Communism. There is a distinct connection between the strategic military defence of the West and this world food situation.
It is not only a question of self-interest, because I agree completely with the hon. Member for Rugby that it is our Christian duty as far as it lies within our power to assist in the relief of hunger, misery and disease wherever we find it. But having said that, let me make a plea for facing the realities of the situation. This country enjoys great privileges and great privileges carry with them great responsibilities, not the least of which is to point the way to a better world. But I want to be realistic about this.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
The hon. Member accused me of being a little unkind at the beginning of my speech when I spoke about the Tories and the hustings. Did not the hon. Member know all these facts before the Election took place last October?
§ Mr. Braine
I have been aware of some of these facts for some time, but the sheer gravity of the situation has been borne in upon us only in the last few months. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If that is so, and the wise men sitting on the other side of the Committee knew the gravity of the world food situation, their attitude towards the recent increases in farm prices in this country, designed as they were to increase our own productivity, is not in the least understandable.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
The hon. Member said that these facts had been known for the last few months. The document from which he quoted covers a survey of the international situation in food supplies issued months and months ago. In any event, the hon. Member should have known the facts four or five years ago.
§ Mr. Braine
The review refers to 1951 and has been published only recently, so I do not see how it was possible for these facts to be known, except of course to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) who is always accompanied by his crystal ball. At the outset I did in fact pay a tribute to the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations for making available a global survey of the position, and I make no apology for saying what I am saying. If indeed I had known these facts earlier, I would have made them available.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Surely the hon. Member was in India, Burma and Singapore towards the end of the war. Did it not strike him then that the facts were as they are?
§ Mr. Braine
I refuse to be drawn on that subject. The world food situation, and indeed the production of raw materials and food, have been bedevilled by a whole host of factors which have arisen since the war, in addition to those which operated at the end of the war when, as a result of Japanese occupation, the whole economy of South-East Asia lay in ruins. But I have given the Committee a number of new facts. There is the fact that Japan in the last year has entered into world markets for food grains and that last year India's harvest was lower than previously. These new factors are worsening the situation. I find it difficult to understand why hon. Members opposite are so testy about facts on which they claim the monopoly of knowledge.
A document has been published recently by certain hon. Members opposite called "War on Want." Indeed, in its presentation of the facts of the situation it is a stark, terrifying and important document. It goes on to say that capital should be invested in underdeveloped areas at the rate of £5,000 million a year, which I believe represents roughly 3 per cent. of the national incomes of the more important of the developed Western countries. It says that Britain's contribution to that sum should be something of the order of £350 million to £400 million a year.
I want the Committee to consider the implications of that statement. To invest any money in any country implies the existence of a surplus. It implies 1621 a situation in which we are exporting more than we are importing. That is the position which obtained before 1914 when this country was exporting capital to the equivalent of about 7 per cent. of her national income.
That such a proposal should be made in all seriousness by hon. Members opposite when they were dismissed from office at a time when the balance of payments crisis in this country was at its worst, when we were all living beyond our means, is, I suggest, utterly irresponsible. It raises hopes in the breasts of those who are looking to countries like our own for help in their difficulties. Will hon. and right hon. Members opposite—not the hon. Member for Rugby, because he has always been frank, honest and candid on this subject—be prepared to go back to their constituencies and tell them that, after all, there is not a bottomless sack out of which this country can pour unlimited money so that the standard of living not only of this country but of a large part of the world can be raised?
Are they prepared to say to their constituents that they cannot have 9d. for 4d.? Are they prepared to say, for example, that the burden of taxation on industry in this country should be reduced to make more money available for overseas development? Are they prepared to give tax concessions to British companies who are ready to establish subsidiaries overseas? Are they prepared to tell people to face the fact that food, not only imported from abroad but produced in this country, must cost more?
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
I agree with many of the challenges that the hon. Member is making. They are very relevant and pertinent. But he must have read our pamphlet in a superficial manner if he tells us that the development of under-developed countries is mainly a task which depends upon stimulating private enterprise to do the job by the inducement of private profits. I should have thought, at least, that our pamphlet had accumulated overwhelming international evidence from capitalists against any such misconception.
§ Mr. Braine
The hon. Baronet falls into the error, which has been characteristic of some of the speeches made by hon. 1622 Members opposite, that programmes and moneys voted by this and other Parliaments of the United Nations necessarily provide an answer to this problem. The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) referred to the fact that money contributed for the technical assistance programme of the United Nations had been cut down for 1952. I believe it is on record, and the facts are in HANSARD, that of the original sum of £770,000 contributed by the United Kingdom for this purpose, less than 10 per cent. had been expended up to 30th September last year.
§ Mr. de Freitas
We do not want to get into private discussions which are rather boring to other hon. Members, but I admitted that from the 1951 Budget of this organisation it was clear that they could not spend the money that they claimed they could spend in 1952. If it is for that reason that we are cutting down contributions, let the Government say so; but on my reading of the debate, in which, I said, the Government did not consider it fit for a Minister to participate, they did not use that argument.
§ Mr. Braine
The situation is worse than it has been in the last few years in that claims for technicians and equipment are ever mounting and outstripping available resources. I gave the Committee an example in our own Colonial Empire where fairly considerable work of the kind about which we have been talking had been carried out during the last few years. It was carried out—let credit be given where it is due—under a Labour Government. In the last few years malaria has been eradicated from British Guiana.
§ Dr. Morgan
As a medical man, let me tell the hon. Member that that is an incorrect statement. There is still plenty of malaria in British Guiana.
§ Mr. Braine
I do not know which colonial report the hon. Gentleman read last, but I can assure him—and I am sure his own Front Bench will claim the credit for it—that one of the most notable achievements in the fight against ill health in this world is largely the work of one very distinguished malariologist in 1623 eradicating malaria from the coastal belt of British Guiana where it has been a killing disease. I mention that because I do not think we should be shy about talking of our own achivements in this battle against poverty and want.
The great problem facing not only us but the world as a whole is the lack at the present moment of sufficient technical specialists. I remember visiting British Guiana last year and asking one agricultural officer whether he had his full complement of staff. He said that he lacked an assistant but that there were four welfare officers generally in his district. The emphasis was on the wrong thing. I am not attributing any particular blame for that, but I am saying that throughout the world there is a great lack of specialists and it would be a good thing to know whether Her Majesty's Government are seized, as I am sure they are, of the urgency of this problem and are doing something about it.
I believe that it is our solemn duty to make the best possible use of our resources not only in our own interests, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, but for the sake of suffering humanity as a whole. I hope, therefore, my right hon. Friend will tell us how we can make the maximum contribution to this great cause, consistent with maintaining our own strength and vitality here in these islands. If we impair that. then all else is in vain.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)
I think that the debate has done one important thing so far, and that is to set the right background to this problem of peace and social justice which, after all, are the twin purposes of the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) set the right background, as did the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine). I thought he got somewhat testy towards the end, but notwithstanding that, if I may say so without patronage, I thought he made a quite constructive contribution to the problem of peace. 1 only wish that that had formed part of the Tory Party's brief when they set out to claim the support of the shareholders of this country.
1624 I thought the Minister of Health had about him this afternoon a charm which has been missing on his earlier visits to the Despatch Box—a charm of fresh conversion—and the same applies to the hon. Member for Billericay. I think that both of them were influenced by the contributions which were rqade by my right hon. Friend in opening this debate and also by the pamphlet to which reference has been made, entitled "War Against Want."
This problem of peace is a problem of economics as well as of diplomacy. I have heard it said often that we shall not get peace until we can guarantee the peoples of the world three square meals a day. We must keep in mind that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) said, we cannot hope to produce peace in the world on the basis of a world half of which is starved and the other half of which is economically reasonably free.
I want to bring the debate back to the point which I thought was so excellently represented by the hon. and learned Member for Chester (Mr. Nield) when he spoke about the World Health Organisation as one of the Specialised Agencies. It was evident that both the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West were agreed upon one thing at any rate, and that was that the World Health Organisation was the most important Specialised Agency of the whole series under the United Nations.
I want to say a word about the oldest, and, if I may say so, the most efficient of them all. While it may be said by some that other Specialised Agencies could with advantage get more experience—I do not know; I am not competent to judge—I think it can be said that the International Labour Organisation has done a grand job of work on behalf of the United Nations Organisation. It has the merit not only of being the oldest, having been in existence since 1919 up to the present time without interruption, but it has a remarkable achievement as being the only international organisation that carried on its work uninterrupted even during the last war.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
It can justifiably make many claims, but it is not the oldest. The I.P.U. was started in 1865. I believe.
§ Mr. Moyle
I am referring to I.L.O. as one of the Special Agencies of U.N.O. set up in 1919 under the Charter of the old League of Nations. I think it is the only organisation which carried on its work without interruption by the last war.
I thought that there was some point in the Minister's contention—although he did not stress it unduly—that there might be too many cooks and too little broth in the case of the Specialised Agencies. I have some sympathy with that point of view. I thought it was a mistake to introduce other machinery in order to deal with the refugee problem. I should have thought that the International Labour Organisation was the organisation that should have been made responsible for dealing with that problem, without bringing in ad hoc Specialised and other agencies as well as the Council of Europe, resulting in confusion and unnecessary criticism which always arises from duplicated machinery.
I would ask the Minister to convey to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour that when there is a special job of work to be done, such as that in connection with the refugee problem which arises in the case of Palestine, the International Labour Organisation should be used instead of new and special ones. The money can be provided by the governments which figure in the membership of the United Nations. All the work is delegated to the Agencies by the United Nations.
One of the most interesting developments which has taken place recently, consequent upon the acquisition of self-government and independence by various countries—which I think are called non-metropolitan countries—is the fact that they have been eager to join up with the Specialised Agencies and to accept the obligation of implementing conventions which were undertaken by the parent States originally. I refer to countries such as Indonesia. Burma and Pakistan.
One of the important pieces of work that needs to be done by the International Labour Organisation is to face up to what I will call, for want of a better term, a universal fair wage clause. I want to see 1626 the same thing achieved in the whole field of industry, commerce and agriculture which is undertaken by the member States as has already been achieved by the I.L.O. in relation to maritime conditions of service.
Japan, the United States of Indonesia and other countries are now members of the I.L.O. and, just as we have eliminated the unfair conditions of service that besmirched the maritime world before the war, we ought to see to it that Japanese products and the products from these other countries are not let loose upon the Western market on the basis of standards of employment which no decent country would accept. As the Minister knows, one of the difficulties with regard to the work of the I.L.O. is not merely the passing of the convention but its implementation by the member States.
I think I am right in saying that Egypt has recently satisfied the convention of equal pay for equal work, and I think it is equally true to say that our Government have not yet done so.
§ Mr. Moyle
So what. I was rather astonished at my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West missing that particular point, in view of the zeal which she showed for the principle of equal pay for equal work.
The conventions having been ratified by Egypt and other countries, how are we to know to what extent the obligations are going to be implemented? I want the right hon. Gentleman to convey to the Minister of Labour the suggestion that the I.L.O. should have a travelling commission, whose job it would be to investigate on behalf of the I.L.O.—working as a fact-finding commission and reporting back to the I.L.O.—to what extent the conventions are being implemented by the member-States. That is something really worth considering.
It is well to recall that this problem of establishing peace is really a matter of economics and diplomacy. The two must go together. Peace, like happiness, is a by-product of other conditions. We must not lose sight of the compelling importance of releasing these people in undeveloped countries from hunger and unemployment. We in the Western countries must do that; we must even 1627 at some sacrifice to ourselves, take up this burden of developing these countries of great virginal resources which are still untapped. We must, as part of our work and our duty to our fellow men, and in the pursuit of economics and politics, face up to the problem of bringing them together and making them the basis of all our work for peace. If that is done I am perfectly certain that peace will be brought much nearer as a result of this conception of our duty.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)
During the 18 months that I have been a Member of this House I have sat through quite a number of all-night sittings, but I do not remember any other occasion when everybody in the Chamber, including myself, was fully awake at half-past seven on the following evening. I think that is a measure of the interest shown in this subject by Members on both sides of the Committee.
I am happy to follow the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle) partly because I play, in a very junior manner, a role which he has fulfilled so admirably for so long, and partly because I want to talk, as he did, about the economic development of the backward countries.
I thought the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) made an extremely interesting and, if I may say so, well informed speech, and he was absolutely right to begin with President Truman's Fourth Point in his address of 1949. But it is no good our blinding ourselves to the fact that the Fourth Point has lost something of its impetus during the last few years and that people no longer write about it in the same strain as they did three years ago.
I was looking only this morning at a book by the eminent economist, Thomas Balogh, "Dollar Crisis," a work with which, as hon. Members opposite will not be surprised to know, I have many points of disagreement; but it is interesting to notice that in his chapter on the backward areas, to which he gives the title, "Beyond the Marshall Plan," he wrote that he regarded the Fourth Point as a kind of development of Marshall Aid. Today, everybody feels that it will be a long time before the Fourth Point can be implemented.
1628 I do not believe that is primarily because of the shortage of capital among the Western nations. After all, since the war the American and British Governments have done a certain amount of overseas investment, and there has been a considerable amount of private investment, notably in oil. One of the reasons why the Fourth Point has lost something of its impetus during the last two or three years is because it has become clear that the investment of capital and the sending of technicians to the backward areas will not automatically ensure an improvement in the standard of living of those areas.
The whole subject of the causes and conditions of economic progress is very complicated, and I personally have derived a good deal of benefit from reading the very interesting United Nations Report on the undeveloped areas, which was published last year. If one reads this Report it becomes quite clear that a good many conditions have to be fulfilled if economic progress is to be made in those areas.
The most obvious condition is that those areas should have some undeveloped resources, but there are a great many other conditions as well. For example, we cannot have economic progress unless the legal system of a territory makes it possible to introduce innovations in technique, and economic progress also depends on having a Government which is able to pursue a wise policy and which is also able to provide an honest and firm administration.
We have also to bear in mind the land laws. The historian Sir Lewis Namier has claimed—and there is a great deal in what he says—that the story of history is largely the story of the interplay between men and tracts of land. In many backward areas it is the backward land laws which make it difficult to secure economic progress.
Finally, we cannot have economic progress unless a considerable amount of money is spent on education. There cannot possibly be progress without a persistent improvement in technical education.
§ Dr. Stross
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point—and he used the word"finally"—would he not agree that there is something else that we must look at —that real progress in undeveloped territories cannot be achieved unless they get 1629 a fair return for their products when they sell them in the world markets? For example, a Cuban worker can buy with his wage only a quarter of the amount of sugar which a similar worker in America can buy, and that is because the standard of living in America is so much higher. Further, undeveloped areas cannot possibly improve if they are limited to mono-culture in the way they have been in the past. That fits in with what the hon. Gentleman has said about the ownership of great estates.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman. Of course, the regulation of international trade and the question of fair prices is all bound up with economic development. My only point was that the question of how ecnomic progress is rendered possible is very much more complicated than some people have supposed, and it is no good thinking that simply by injecting capital and technicians we can secure economic progress automatically.
I turn to the question of investments. One of the difficulties, of course, is that the undeveloped areas may feel, very understandably, that they do not want some foreign country to have too much power in their territory. I have always thought that the system of modern company finance whereby big companies started foreign subsidiaries, and associated local capital and local directors with those foreign subsidiaries, was a very good system; and it is for that reason that I personally very much regretted the "ring fence" Clause in last year's Finance Bill. I do not want to go into that again now, but it is an important point.
Again, investors will be very much more nervous about going into the backward territories if they fear that some treaty or agreement may be over-ruled. That is the great lesson one has learned from the Persian episode. It will be very much more difficult to inject capital and to get projects going in the undeveloped areas if there is some danger at some later date that capital may be expropriated.
There are other matters which should be considered, too, among them that of double taxation, which gives us a little trouble in this House from time to time. In addition, of course, the backward terri- 1630 tories must provide suitable banking facilities.
Above all, I come back to this point: if we are to get satisfactory economic progress in these areas, there must be political stability. We cannot possibly have economic progress if all the time there is a danger that people will be robbed of the fruits of their work by some civil upheaval, and until that stability can be assured, economic progress must be a somewhat chancy matter.
People have spent a great deal of time in working out how much money should be spent on the backward areas. I am a little bit sceptical about those global plans. The statistics are worked out with great care and they give occupation to very many people, but I am not tremendously impressed when I see estimates of the number of billions of dollars which should be spent each year over a term of years on the backward territories, because I cannot believe that that is the right way to begin. In the same way, I cannot believe that forming new agencies is the right way to begin. I believe we have enough of those agencies, with complicated names and initials, employing a large number of people.
When it is a matter of starting some big scheme like a dam, the work cannot be left to private enterprise. On the other hand, we shall never get economic progress in the backward areas unless and until the active citizens in those areas who really know how to go ahead, and who have ideas, are given the opportunity to pursue their projects. We must allow such citizens in the backward areas to make their best contributions to the development of the territory.
I think many hon. Members opposite would agree that nationalisation, even if it is the right remedy, as they believe, in some industries, is not the right remedy for an industry in the early stage of its development; and, in the same way, public investment may not be the best way of getting a new industry going in an area. It is likely that some private individual who knows the locality and the sources of labour, and who has more ability and more drive than his compatriots, will be most successful at getting some new industry established.
There are many other hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate, and 1631 there are only two other points I wish to make in conclusion. The first is this. I quite agree that economic discontent may be one of the causes of war, but I suggest that we should distinguish very carefully in our minds between the need to develop the backward areas and, at the same time, the need to make ourselves strong at home against any aggressor; because, granted that poverty may be one of the causes of war, there is no question but that another cause of war can be the belief of an aggressor that he will get away with it. Therefore, I suggest that we should never adopt a sort of "either … or" attitude when we approach this matter of the backward areas and consider it along with our defence commitments. We need to have armaments and to stimulate development in the backward areas, too—
§ Sir E. Boyle
That is where I certainly disagree with the hon. Member, and every single time he asks a Question or makes an intervention on this subject I disagree with him the more.
§ Sir E. Boyle
It is perfectly clear that one of the causes of war throughout history has been the thought of the aggressor that he would be able to get away with it. Therefore, no amount of economic development of the backward areas can possibly replace the need to be strong, armed and united at home.
Last of all I come back to my original point. I believe that we make a great mistake if we ever affirm dogmatically that economics are more important than politics, because just as economic pressures and dissensions may cause political dissensions, so at the same time must we never forget that we cannot have economic progress unless we have political stability at the same time. Just as it is political dissension and political discord in Europe today which has made it so hard to get Europe back on its own feet economically, so in the world as a whole we shall advance to a generally higher standard of living only if the threat of war is finally removed.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
I listened with great interest to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), and a little bit later I shall, if I may, try to comment on what appears to me to be his belief that the task of world development is mainly one in which one has to stimulate private enterprise to do the job that needs doing.
I hope that the hon. Member will not mind when I say that the main task to which I must of necessity address myself tonight is that of trying to answer the adverse comment which the Minister made towards the end of his speech upon the report, "War on Want," for which I and one or two of my hon. Friends are jointly responsible, and acknowledging the very pertinent challenges which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) directed to the main, positive conclusions which that report contains.
I should, of course, like to thank the usual channels for having provided a debate on this subject within six days of my publishing, with some of my hon. Friends, a report which deals with this very same matter—without any collusion on my part. As the Prime Minister said of a much more weighty subject, "It is the sort of thing which one would not expect to happen."
I have long hoped to find some way of shocking the people of this country and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee into a realisation of the gravity of the situation which confronts countries such as ours, and it was for the purpose of helping towards that process that I and my friends produced this report. I should like to insist that it is a non-Party document, and there is nothing in it which any member of the Liberal or Conservative Parties could disagree with. It discloses nothing new. It only brings together in a convenient form adot of material which ordinary people would have to spend a great deal of time and money assembling from other reports, and it produces nothing original of its own in any way. But, by bringing together this material, it does reveal for those who will spend a shilling and read 100 pages the immense gravity of the situation. To quote a single sentence from what is, after all, the most authoritative international document on this subject, the United Nations Report 1633 Entitled "Measures for the Economic Development of Under-developed Countries":A 2 per cent. increase of the per capita national income cannot be brought about without an annual capital import well in excess of 10 billion dollars.It seems to me that that figure alone ought to disabuse hon. Members opposite of the idea that this is a task which can be left mainly in the hands of private enterprise, or that the main way Governments can contribute to the task is by ensuring conditions in which private enterprise will be stimulated to do it.
Private enterprise, if by that one means the work of peasant cultivators, has an immense part to play, for without the peasant cultivator the world's food problem cannot be solved at all; but private enterprise as hon. Members opposite understand it, private enterprise which takes the form of limited liability companies working for a cash profit, though I agree it has a role to play in all this, has a role that, if I may say so, it would be well for us to understand can best be described as that of filling up the interstices in the vast work which has in the main to be done jointly by public enterprise and by peasant communities. It is possible to bring immense authority of unimpeachable evidence in support of my conclusion: Mr. Gordon Gray, an American, made a report at the request of the President in which he said:… Only a few hundred million dollars, at most, is likely to be invested in underdeveloped countries outside the Western Hemisphere in properties not related to oil. Taking into account the known obstacles, and the uncertain effectiveness of the limited measures that can be taken to overcome them, it must be frankly recognised that private investment cannot be expected to solve the problem of financing development alone.Let me appeal to a banker, who ought to impress hon. Members opposite, especially when, having been a banker on Wall Street in the ordinary way, he becomes President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Mr. Eugene Black. Mr. Eugene Black, speaking to the Bankers' Club at Chicago last year, said:I think we should frankly face the fact which others do not, that they"—that is, the undeveloped countries—cannot adequately accelerate the rate of their development, if the only capital which they receive is in the form of loans which they have no reasonable prospect of repaying.1634 In other words, if we only offer them loans to be repaid on the ordinary capitalist terms, their development cannot be assured. Mr. Black then discussed at length too long to quote the possibility of loans at a low rate of interest—in other words, subsidised loans, and he concluded:In my opinion, when a country has a choice between making grants or making loans of this kind, it pays in the long run to choose grants.The fact is that unless the billions of international investment which are required are now undertaken—I will not say by Governments, because that does put a wrong slant on it, perhaps—but by wealthy communities acting as communities, it is not going to be done at all.
I now come to the last conference of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations that was held in September, 1951—the last one held when the Labour Party were in power. I want to come to one or two points arising from that, for the sake, I hope, of shocking some members of my own party into a realisation of what has been going on. I must be severely critical of the part which the Labour Government took in that conference, for at that conference the chairman, Mr. Santa Cruz, made a most courageous opening speech. It is a little too long to quote at length because I must not take long, although when I gave the undertaking to be brief I had not expected to have so much to answer.
But in his inaugural speech Mr. Santa Cruz called upon the assembled nations to consider the establishment of what he described as the United Nations Authority for Production and Plenty. He called upon the assembled countries to back such an authority with assured funds. And then, after considering the trivial resolutions which he knew in fact were going to be recommended from the preparatory committees, and asking whether the delegates really thought they were doing their duty by passing such timid resolutions as these, he said:On the other hand, the Council will pro ceed to play a leading role and will point the way to the economic world if it is capable of stating frankly that the world's economic problem has no possible solution if, while the world mobilises against aggression, combines its resources, co-ordinates its efforts and imposes equitable sacrifices on all countries, it 1635 does not do as much to combat hunger and poverty.This main proposal of Mr. Santa Cruz was, of course, dead in line with the proposal of the economic experts who in Recommendation 14—and it is worth quoting this to have it on the record— said:The United Nations should establish an International Development Authority to assist the under-developed countries in preparing, co-ordinating and implementing their programmes of economic development; to distribute to under-developed countries grants-in-aid for specific purposes; to verify the proper utilisation of such grants; and to study and report on the progress of development programmes.This proposal of the U.N. experts corresponds to the proposal of the chairman of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Pakistani delegate, and other delegates from a number of other under-developed countries, supported this proposal. The French delegate opposed it; he thought that industrial countries could not possibly undertake such a thing and that it would be a mistake to try. The American delegate poured cold water on it in present condition of world economics and world politics.
What did the Labour Government do? What did the Labour representatives do in this debate between the French and Americans on the one side and the Pakistani and the chairman of the Council and the U.N.O. economic experts on the other? What did our representatives do at that conference in September, 1951? They said nothing about it whatever— while we were getting up at our conference proposing resolutions and telling people that we were going to put forward a World Plan for Mutual Aid. I am sorry to have to say these things, but I say them in order that members of our own party may be shocked, if possible, into the realisation that something more needs to be done when we next sit on the Government side of the House, as we soon will.
§ Sir R. Acland
If my right hon. Friend will forgive me saying so, the Colombo Plan has so far meant that our contribution to this work consists of repaying our 1636 debts to the countries concerned at half the rate we were repaying them before that plan was started.
§ Sir R. Acland
If my right hon. Friend calls that doing something, if that is a massive contribution of which we are proud, then let us know the extent of it.
In case hon. Members opposite should feel encouraged by anything I am saying in criticism of the party to which I belong, I am bound to say that their record since they came to power is much worse. I am saved time by the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) in opening the debate, dealt in the most scathing terms with this contemptible little gesture of reducing the contribution we make to the U.N. Extended Programme of Technical Assistance.
I am spared going into that at length; but I should like it to be realised that our contribution is meaner than that of any other comparable country, with the solitary exception of Australia, which was the only other notable country which reduced its contribution last year. Judged as a percentage of total budget, the Argentine contributes twice as much, Canada three times as much, India three times as much, Pakistan four times as much and Switzerland six times as much. It has been said that when in economic difficulties one cannot do these things, but are we in greater economic difficulties than France? Surely not. But judged as a percentage of national income, even France contributes twice as much as we do, and the Netherlands three times as much and Brazil contributed three and a half times as much. I really feel ashamed of our record.
Now I come more directly to the criticism the right hon. Gentleman made against the report we have published this week. Although the Committee may not have noticed it, he was quoting a sentence from the report about the size of the contribution which we should make towards the development of under-developed countries and he held it up for adverse comment. I do not want to run away from the figure we put down, but we should be misunderstood if it were thought that we were recommending that 1637 £400 million could and should be contributed and spent by this country on world development in 1952 or 1953.
We quite recognise—and I could quote the sentences from our report to show it— that the nations of the world united in war against hunger will have to work up to the total figure of 10 billion dollars which the United Nations expert committee recommended, and it would take a number of years to work up to that figure. But I do not want at all to run away from the fact that the figure would have to be reached in the end—perhaps in five or ten years, and therefore the challenge which came from the hon. Member for Billericay is very pertinent, and as one of the authors of this report I must face it.
My own private view—and, indeed, my own public view—is that at this time we should be spending rather less on armaments and rather more on a contribution to the development of backward areas. But I do not want it to be thought that that shift could alone meet the challenge that is made to a country such as ours. The Minister is perfectly right in saying that it would be a terrible thing to hold out hopes that we were going to do something very big and then not do it. That would be a very terrible thing.
The question is: Do we intend the development of the under-developed countries or do we not? If we do not, do not let us pretend that we do. But if we do not intend the development of the under-developed countries, let us recognise that this world as it is going now will very soon—and I mean within a matter of decades—create for us conditions in which economic life in this country is utterly impossible. Therefore, provident self-interest combines with morality in saying that the challenge, however great it is, is one which we in this country should face.
It will, of course, involve sacrifices, and I hope that I have endeavoured to say this to the electors in my constituency at times when I have been seeking election from them. It will mean a reduction in the total size of the cake available for consumption by the British people. How we cut up that reduced size of cake and share it out amongst ourselves is another question, which I should probably be out of order in trying to debate now.
1638 This challenge of the under-developed areas plus the change in the terms of trade, by which manufactured goods get commoner and cheaper while raw materials and food get rarer and more expensive, must mean a reduced cake to be consumed by the British. It involves an immense, a revolutionary though extremely simple change in our outlook upon our political problems, for unless I am mistaken every Englishman or woman, when contemplating the political future of this country and asking what our policy ought to be, is consciously or subconsciously asking himself or herself the question: What is the policy which will soon make us rich?
I give the answer: There is not any policy which will make us rich. The kind of world we live in is one which says to us that we are not going to be rich anyhow. The only alternatives are whether we shall be poor or very poor, whether we can come to terms with our situation and make a go of it by doing our duty or whether, by shirking it, we shall very soon find ourselves in a position in which we cannot live at all. Those are the alternatives.
When we are thinking about policy,' let us abandon the idea of thinking about what is the policy for making us rich. What we should really be asking ourselves, in my view, is: How do we organise the business of being happy though poor? As far as domestic policy is concerned, that is the question facing the people of Britain at this time. Yet when I use the word "poverty" it is a curious word to use because poverty is always relative. We are only going to be poor in relation to the fantastically sky-high material aspirations entertained on both sides of this House ever since the end of the war. I am glad that the Conservative Party are having this short period of office because it has given us the chance of seeing that they, in the sort of woolly speeches which we get from a noble Lord in another place, have been just as much obsessed by this overweening optimism as we have.
We are going to be poor in relation to our own false aspirations; but even this will mean that we are going to be awfully rich in relation to the two-thirds of the human race who live on the edge 1639 of starvation; and, therefore, quite apart from self-interest, there is in the end the much more powerful motive of morality and Christianity calling on us to make the contribution that is required.
I should like to end by quoting a statement made by Professor Gunnar Myrdal, Director of the Economic Commission for Europe, who spoke on this problem to the World Health Organisation on 15th May of this year. He said:It would require immense efforts and would involve not only very courageous internal reforms … but also very much bigger sacrifices on the part of the developed countries than most of us have dared to face. It would assume capital movements to the underdeveloped regions of a magnitude which must seem truly heroic in comparison with the dribbling and trickling of international and national aid and overseas investment which are actually taking place.I hope these words will be widely read, understood and accepted as the basis for the policy and leadership of this country, no matter what Government is in power.
There is one other tiny point which I should like to mention. I should like it to be conveyed by the right hon. Gentleman to his right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. Why do not the British Colonies make more use of the technical assistance services available through the United Nations? I suggest that it is not a case of stupidity of any one individual but because the Colonial Office, considered as an entity which has a sort of personality of its own, hates anything which is international. They have got the idea that we British can supply the Colonies with all the technicians they need. That is not so. This January, on the Gold Coast, out of an establishment of one chemist we had present none, out of an establishment of three plant pathologists we had one, out of two entomologists we had one, out of an establishment of two agronomists we had one: a total deficiency of five out of an establishment supposed to be eight. Meanwhile, to take one example, disease was ravaging the coconut palms along the coast from East to West and there was nobody in a position to do anything about it. I hope we shall encourage our own Colonial people to call in more experts from other countries through the U.N. agencies.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
I want to say one or two things about a subject which might, I think, have had a little more attention given to it in a debate of this kind, namely, the refugee problem. My excuse for speaking about it is that four or five years ago, as perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) may recall, I was myself actively engaged in trying to find some solution to the problem in Europe. But I do not claim to speak in any way as an expert. I speak rather in a spirit of inquiry. I should like to know more about the way in which this problem is being handled now.
We are living, I am afraid, in an age of refugees. They are one of the saddest bi-products of the clash between conflicting ideologies. In these clashes it is always the civil population who are the victims, and I am afraid that in our time, at any rate, that is likely to go on being the case. I am afraid that the refugee, as far as this generation is concerned, has come to stay. This morning in "The Times" I read that during last month 7,500 more refugees had crossed from Eastern Germany into Western Germany. Then there are the Korean prisoners, whom I sincerely hope will not be sent back to their own country against their will. These, too, will have to be dealt with somehow.
The problem, of course, is not solely humanitarian. It has a most important humanitarian side, but it is also an economic problem. Some countries suffer from a labour shortage and need to increase their population. For other countries, with a surplus population, the refugees are a millstone round their necks. The problem quite briefly is to turn consumers into producers.
That problem can only be dealt with internationally. If ever there was a case for an international agency or organisation it is in this question of the refugee problem. It cannot be dealt with by individual efforts on the part of individual countries. I do not say that nothing can be done by individual governments. A great deal has been done by this country. I consider that during and since the war we have borne more than our share, and I think that is a thing which we should be proud of. We contributed very largely financially to I.R.O., and we have 1641 also taken more than 250,000 refugees into this country who otherwise would have gone to fill the D.P. camps on the Continent.
But, if we are going to get an equitable solution and a lasting solution, and if we are going to get a solution which may be profitable to everybody concerned, our efforts must be properly coordinated by an international authority. If we leave these problems to the efforts of individual countries, the first thing that happens is that the countries looking out for labour skim the cream off the refugee population. They take the young and the able-bodied, the men and women between 20 and 30, and they leave behind the hard, irreducible core of old and infirm people and small children.
That is what happens very largely, and that is one of the reasons why this problem persists in such an acute form today. We must see—and it can only be done by an international authority— that countries which are short of population take a fair cross-section of the refugee population.
Quite apart from any humanitarian considerations, I believe that it is better policy to resettle families rather than individuals. I think they make much better settlers, I think they arrive in a better frame of mind, and, in the long run, work in better with the local population of the country that is taking them.
We have had some experience of that quite recently with the Italian miners. We took, I think, nothing but able-bodied young men. For one reason or another—I would not attempt to apportion blame— they did not get on very well with the mining population. One of my hon. Friends got into awful hot water by making some allusions to the devastating effect of the sex appeal of the Italian miners. I shall not venture to follow him there. I happened to be in Italy at the time. His remarks may have made my hon. Friend unpopular in this country, but they made him immensely popular in Italy, where he was front page news for several days on end.
The fact remains that whoever has the most sex appeal, if unattached foreign males or females are let loose in a country, domestic problems of one kind or 1642 another arise, whereas if whole families are imported, happily self-contained, they very soon settle down and become good citizens. That is why it is so very important to have these things done by a quota system, by an international organisation, and not just left to the representatives of individual governments who go round taking the able-bodied single, unattached young men and women and leaving the others.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Surely the hon. Member does not suggest that the Italian miners could possibly bring their families to the mining areas of this country when there are no houses for them?
§ Mr. Maclean
I mentioned the Italian miners only as an instance of what happens if we do bring unattached young men. I do not count Italian miners as refugees or displaced persons. It is true that Italy has a surplus population, and one of the problems that I was concerned with was relieving Italy of the burden of some of the displaced persons who were aggravating that problem. But the question of Italian miners is a quite different one.
If you take unattached young men or young women, there are two problems: First, the problem of settling them down in whatever country we move them to; and secondly, the problem of what to do with their mothers, their cousins and their aunts who are ailing and in bad health and are left with no breadwinner to carry on as best they may in a displaced persons camp in Austria, Germany or wherever it may be. I am sure that that is the wrong policy. If a country like Australia, for instance, is going to admit refugees, it should be encouraged to take a certain proportion of older people, to take families as well as individuals.
To make the necessary arrangements, we must have a proper international organisation, and I hope that when my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary answers the debate he will give us some idea of what exists in that way since the International Refugee Organisation was wound up in January of this year.
I do not think that we need have an organisation with vast funds. An international refugee agency need not try to provide for the care and maintenance of all refugees in all countries, or, indeed, any refugees anywhere. What they should 1643 try to do is to resettle them, to take them away from the countries where they are not wanted; and to settle them in the countries where they are wanted, and in general to provide for co-ordination and liaison between the different Governments concerned.
I wonder whether the United Nations High Commissioner, who is now the principal international authority for dealing with refugees, has adequate powers, and whether the funds at his disposal are adequate even for those tasks. As far as I have been able to make out, the emphasis has been laid principally on the need for protection of the legal rights of the refugees. That is a very important aspect of the problem, but it is only one aspect and there are other much more important aspects. I am sure that the United Nations High Commissioner will do that job very well, but what else is he going to do besides that? Is he really competent to take the place of the International Refugee Organisation, which, in spite of its limitations—and they were severe— did very good work indeed? I hope that when my hon. Friend winds up the debate, he will have a word to say about this.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
We have had a very interesting debate, ranging over many aspects of a very important subject, but very few references have been made to the specific topic of the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations. I regard that as a testimony to the United Nations. In other words, we take for granted the fact that these agencies, half a dozen of them, are now here for good.
I say that this is a testimony to the success of the United Nations because so frequently there are those who rather cynically urge that just as the League of Nations between the wars failed to survive, so in these post-war years the United Nations also shows signs of ultimate disintegration. Those who say that are looking at only one side of the picture, and the negative side at that. The positive side is precisely what we have been discussing today.
The positive side is seen in those bridges that have been erected from one land to another, to which most nations of the world now subscribe. They are imperfect bridges—they need to be strength- 1644 ened, and more bridges still need to be constructed—but they exist. They are particularly valuable, not merely in the practical service they are rendering to common humanity, but in developing the habit of thinking and working internationally.
The United Nations is, of course, an organisation which is uniting nations. It is not a cosmopolitan organisation attempting to eliminate national communities. It recognises, quite rightly, the national community as a unit, and then it seeks to supplement that by enabling those units to work together for the common good of all the national powers involved. That is why the debate is an encouraging one.
I am also encouraged by the many references that have been made to the urgent economic need of the peoples of the world. As someone else has rightly said, one can in this respect direct one's remarks not merely to one agency, because all agencies in one way or another are related to it. It is equally true, for instance, whether we adopt the economic approach, the educational approach or the political approach, we find in course of time that they all interact with each other.
One of the greatest political mistakes people sometimes make is to select one of a number of elements and then, because it is a valid element, to assume all the other elements are invalid. We have to recognise that we require in the building up of the international world a recognition of the inter-play and the inter-relation of all these specialised agencies we have at the present time.
Similarly, although it is perfectly true the need of the world today regarding food and capital investment is enormous, and although, certainly, we should encourage every possible scheme or proposal for our joint consideration so that we might meet that need, let us realise, on the other hand, there is another aspect, to which very little reference has been made today except by implication.
We have heard, for instance, that though India in particular has made gallant efforts, not merely during the period of the present Indian Republic but in preceding times, to tackle this problem of hunger, her population is nevertheless outstripping the available means of subsistence. The shadow of Malthus has.
1645 fallen on them. I want to make it quite clear I hope no one is going to be so foolish as to suggest that by limiting the population a great and traditional problem can be solved. But it is equally foolish to ignore the issue.
I welcome the coming World Population Conference, which I trust will examine the whole matter very thoroughly in that aspect and publish its results to the world. Yet, I deplore the fact that recently in the Fifth World Health Assembly an opportunity to make at least some preliminary inquiries into one aspect of our human problem was lost. A proposal was made by the Norwegian delegate, and our own delegate made no effort to see that this proposal was supported and implemented.
§ Dr. Stross
Will my hon. Friend not agree that as the standard of life of the people is raised nutritionally, the higher standard of nutrition itself, particularly the protein intake, brings about a limitation of birthrate by natural methods, apart from any other techniques that may be used?
§ Mr. Sorensen
I entirely agree that that is one factor, but it is only one factor, and I am sure my hon. Friend would not suggest that it is the only one. There are a series of others. Take our own country. We have a highly populated, congested country. There are 50 million people in this island. From one standpoint we might say it is impossible for so many people to live on this island. We manage to live by virtue of our trade and equally, I suggest, because deliberate means have been taken to limit the population by family planning.
I repeat that it is foolish to assume birth control is the sole or even primary explanation of our high standard of life. But I submit it is one factor, and again I plead for the recognition that, when we see one particular component among many, we should not attempt to segregate it from others but give it its due weight, while all the time recognising that it must be related to a series of components, for it is only by so doing that we can appreciate the whole situation. In the world today there are chemical, biogenetic, educational, economic and other resources that have to be advanced and implemented systematically, and we must move away from the more blind, instinctive struggle for survival. That has been 1646 characteristic of organic life in the past, but in this era we are learning to determine what are our needs and values and plan our society accordingly.
That being so, I regret very much that the World Health Organisation Assembly did not debate this matter of population, and that the proposal of the Norwegian delegates to inquire into certain aspects of this population problem was rejected. The particular resolution was an extremely valuable one, and read as follows:The Fifth World Health Assembly, realising the fundamental importance of the population problem under the present world conditions, requests the Executive Board to establish an expert committee to examine and report on the health aspects of this problem.I am sure the majority of the Members would endorse the contents of that resolution. Some no doubt, on religious or other grounds, might seek to reject or frustrate it, but the great majority now, whatever our predecessors here would have said, would agree that here is a most important aspect of our human problem, to ignore which would be a great disservice to the problem itself and an evasion of what in the long run cannot be avoided. This resolution was brought forward and supported by a number of Powers, including India, but, apart from an attempt on the part of our delegate to postpone further discussion, nothing was said by him and the resolution had to be withdrawn.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
Before my hon. Friend moves from that point, could he say whether our Government sent specific instructions to our representative at the Assembly as to how he should or should not vote on this resolution?
§ Mr. Sorensen
I have no knowledge of that at all, but perhaps the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs might give us the information later in the evening for the benefit of the whole Committee, including my hon. Friend.
I do not want to speak too long tonight, because all of us are tired, and also because other hon. Members want to speak. I would in the last two or three minutes emphasise again what I feel with great earnestness is a matter that we cannot avoid. It is quite true 1647 the argument is frequently advanced that if only the scientific knowledge of the world and the organising resources of the world were harnessed we might be able to catch up with our population. That is perfectly true, but, in fact, we do not do so.
It is highly significant that Pandit Nehru, who for years avoided facing this problem, at last openly had to admit the necessity of introducing some measure of family planning in India. I personally remain extremely sceptical that family planning in India, apart from a small section of the population, could be immediately carried out. I think it requires a certain level of education and intelligence in order to plan our lives on that basis. But I do think it is highly significant that Pandit Nehru, who for years, not merely because of the influence of Gandhi, who in this respect was most myopic, but who for other reasons refused to recognise that particular problem, was forced to face it and change his views. Why has he now taken a different stand? Because he recognises the population of India is outstripping the available means of subsistence, as, in fact, it is also doing among many other nations and geographical areas.
We can see this in the sub-human world with our own eyes. An oak tree shakes 10,000 acorns upon the ground, but only one or two may survive. That is but one simple illustration of the struggle for survival operating in nature, and which is inherited by primitive man. Man at last by his ability and his foresight attempts to plan his life along other lines than those of the ruthless elimination of the alleged unfit in order to get something like a balanced society.
This, of course, is not an easy thing to do. One knows, by the reports of those who have turned to this aspect of the social and world problem the tendency to make exaggerated claims. I am not doing that tonight.
I am not attempting to evade tremendous economic requirements or to refute the claim made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), who urged that by a relatively small diversion of our capital resources, spread over a number of years, we could create a great beneficial economic revolution. I entirely agree. All I am saying 1648 is, let us not forget this element. Unless we recognise it, we are not consciously planning our society as we can and should.
I know the reason why this proposal was withdrawn. It was withdrawn because of the open or private decision by a number of countries which had within them a predominant Catholic population. I say, very seriously, that if this is a form of intimidation used by those who sincerely do not believe, or allege that they do not believe, in birth control against those who do believe in it, the sooner we resist that intimidation the better. On the contrary, I submit that those who try to intimidate the nations whose representatives believe in contraception on the grounds that it is wrong, and who support their opposition by strange and even exaggerated argument, do, in fact, believe in birth control.
The modern intelligent Catholic himself makes it clear that he does not want an excessive population. He recognises the problem. He does not want every mother to bear all the children she possibly can and thus convert the glory of maternity into a tyranny. The only difference between Catholics and Protestants or non-Catholics is in the method of birth control. Therefore I say it is really monstrous for certain Powers to frustrate the need and desire of other Powers to deal with that aspect of this acute problem.
Here, I repeat, are all those teeming millions which Pandit Nehru recognised as presenting an acute and almost insoluble problem. I am not suggesting that family planning in India is immediately practicable on a wide scale or that it will solve the problem—nothing so foolish. What I am saying is that if India, who knows the problem, and the representatives of other countries or areas of the world who also have this acute problem, want this matter discussed impartially, then the Specialised Agency of the W.H.O. should perform that task for those countries who want it? I cannot understand any answer to that except the answer of blind intolerance. For that reason I should like to know from the hon. Gentleman whether we as a member-State of the United Nations can make it clear at future assemblies of the World Health Organisation that we have not. as have our Roman Catholic friends, a strong objection to discussing this matter.
1649 We discuss it and accept it in this country as one part of our new planned society, and surely we desire it should be discussed together with others who desire to discuss it, so that all may contribute to the common stock of the world a little more knowledge by which in turn we can produce light where now is darkness.
I wish to see all the U.N. agencies used as instruments by which man bears true testimony to his growing and expanding intelligence. Our instinct has always been with us, and of course will continue, but let us not be driven by blind instinct. Let us be guided by reason, wisdom and moral values, whether in the economic, biological or ethical field, and so increasingly, through the international agencies, we create help to raise worthy men to plan a new and more precious world.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Hurd (Newbury)
It is not often I find myself in any measure of agreement with the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), but I have very much in mind the same fundamental problem as he has raised.
It seems to me that when we are looking on the essential and vital responsibilities of the United Nations Organisation in food and agricultural problems, it is not only a matter of getting more food into the areas where the standards of nutrition are low, but rather a matter of equating domestic food supplies with the growth of population. Ever since the days of Hot Springs it has been my interest to follow very closely the work of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which sprang from the fertile mind of President Roosevelt. I have the privilege of the personal friendship of Lord Boyd Orr, who was one of the great inspirers of ambitious ideas and plans within the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
It is a pity, as we can see today, that the first plans were so ambitious. It might have been better if in the years immediately after the war we had been content to take rather more modest and humdrum measures to deal first with the essential problems. The Committee will remember that there was airy talk about a world food bank which was to pass surpluses from the countries which could spare food to the countries which were short of food. That proposal was dis- 1650 cussed very widely and then was found, not only by our Government but by other Governments who would have been involved, to be impracticable.
Today the Food and Agriculture Organisation is getting down to essentials. Reference has already been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) to the work that F.A.O. is undertaking in the Extended Technical Assistance Programme. It would have been better if we had started on these modest lines rather than by swelling world hopes with talk of a world food bank.
It seems to me that F.A.O. is now proceeding on sound lines. That view is shared in America. I have often met at conferences of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers men who speak with full authority for America, including Mr. Alan Kline, the President of the American Farm Bureau. I note that in the last issue of the I.F.A.P. News he says that there is much to suggest a hopeful outlook, and that there is a lot of "know-how" which can be more widely used. He is talking of the Extended Technical Assistance Programme. What he says is true. The true purpose of this programme which is being undertaken by F.A.O. and which I regard as absolutely essential is to make firm progress in equating food supplies with population. Later I shall have something to say about population.
The organisation have now got experts working in 51 countries, principally on problems of soil conservation better husbandry and water supply, which in many parts of the world are essential to fuller food production. What is interesting and to the credit of this country is that of the 322 experts recruited to work under the scheme, the United States has provided 99 and the United Kingdom has provided 52. I suggest that the Committee should not be at all ashamed of the part which the United Kingdom is playing. France and the Netherlands have provided 29 each and other nations have contributed the rest.
Our contribution of 52 experts in this field is something of which we may well be proud, remembering that we have a vast area of our own which needs the best technical advice and closer development. Those of us who have been lucky enough to go to East Africa, Kenya or 1651 Tanganyika know the excellent work which is being done by the agricultural officers in helping the native Africans to develop their holdings so that they will be able to grow not only more food but better quality food from a nutritional standpoint than that they have hitherto. Excellent work is being done on soil conservation in the matter of rotational cropping, and so on.
We have a heavy responsibility that we carry in our own Empire. In addition to that, we have provided 52 technical experts to help F.A.O. in the wider international field. Britain has every reason to be proud of that record, and I only wish that still more of the best of our young men were turning to that kind of work, which is of the highest value to humanity as a whole.
We and the Americans have the "know-how." We must see to it that it is spread as widely as possible in the world. It is often spread in the most elementary ways, in stopping the blowing and washing of soils, in providing irrigation, in ensuring that cultivation is done in the right way and that land is not overstocked with cattle. These are all lessons that we know in this country are the basis of good husbandry. We are today making an important contribution in an effective way.
§ Dr. Stross
May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question? He has told the Committee that he feels that the technique of F.A.O. is perhaps the best possible way of helping, and that it is perhaps better than the one projected earlier for a world food bank. Does he not agree that the F.A.O. is a great world brain, which is only loosely connected with the parts of the world in which it has influence, and that this is a field in which it is not completely appreciated.
§ Mr. Hurd
Yes, there may be some truth in that, but it is surprising where technical missions from the F.A.O. are working today. I have friends who have done good work in Africa and who have lately been asked to go out to Nicaragua. Many countries are being helped and more are turning to the F.A.O. I regard that as a most healthy sign. I would much prefer to develop steadily on the self-help line rather than, perhaps, mislead people into believing that there is 1652 some quick way of pumping food surpluses which hardly exist today into the areas which need more food.
I fully agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leyton opposite that, in thinking of the welfare of the peoples of the world and those who are called the under-privileged peoples of the world, we have to consider the matter not solely in terms of food supplies, but also in terms of helping them to equate their populations to the amount of food that is likely to be available to them.
I, too, have noted the courageous action of Mr. Nehru in recommending, and indeed advocating, family planning and birth control as essential to a better and fuller life for the people of India. He put first increased food production, and he linked with it what is called family planning. I should like to hear from my hon. Friend who is to wind up the debate why it was that the United Kingdom delegate did not feel able to support the proposal put before the World Health Organisation that advice should be available to those nations which wanted it on the problems and the techniques of family planning.
We must look at this problem in two ways to equate the food available for these populations to the numbers of people who are subsisting on the land, and I appreciate the views of the Family Planning Association in this country, who feel disturbed that our Government are not allowing or encouraging people who may benefit even more than we do here from modern methods of family planning.
Of course, when we come to a little island like Jamaica, packed tight with people, and talk about family planning, I am reminded of the bride who went to the altar for the first time attended by 11 bridesmaids, all of whom were her own children. It is going to take some family planning to sort out that kind of problem, but, even so, it is in my view vitally important that we should recognize the problem.
Finally, I want, as a farmer who has had an opportunity of seeing something of the world's potentialities in food production, to commend the action being taken by F.A.O. to help the backward peoples of the world to produce more food for themselves. That, I am sure. 1653 is the sound way which in the long run will give these people the greatest happiness.
§ 8.46 p.m
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
It seems to me that when we have a debate of this description it becomes apparent that, though we realise the extreme importance of the United Nations Organisation and of its specialised agencies and pay lip service to them, at the same time the Government of the day —and I am sorry to say not only Governments of the party opposite—have not always appreciated how very necessary it is that the sums of money made available to these great international organisations should be as large as possible.
Some time ago I asked what was the payment we made towards the bodies about which we are talking and which we regard as necessary to assist the United Nations Organisation in this matter. The total amounts given by us, we are told, represent the sum of £2 million a year for a work of such vital importance. not only to ourselves but to the world at large. Therefore, it is absurd for the Government to attempt to reduce those amounts and, at the same time, to say that they really want work of this nature to be carried on.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. I should like to say that my somewhat flippant reply to his question to me earlier in the debate was, I am afraid, given very largely because I felt that he was not quite applying himself to the argument I was trying to adduce. Had the hon. Gentleman listened to what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health said earlier he would have heard that although we had allocated very considerable sums, not all of them had been taken up.
§ Mr. Janner
It is not like that at all. Taking the whole of the sums in the aggregate, the total to which I referred is what we were spending. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, we are now reducing some of these payments. I have a lot to say on this matter, but very little time in which to put the few points I shall make, and I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will forgive 1654 me if I do not follow that matter at the moment. I would point out to him, however, that Israel today is setting an example to the whole world of the very type of work that should be undertaken by a State to help them in the world crisis by endeavouring to produce sustenance from soil previously eroded and abandoned. By continuing to attack that country the hon. and gallant Gentleman is doing the greatest disservice, not only to the cause which he has at heart, but also to the cause for which the United Nations stand.
If the hon. and gallant Member would only endeavour to persuade friends of his who attempt to get him to espouse their cause—which he does very badly in the House, if I may say so with respect— to do what Israel is doing in developing the hitherto waste lands at their disposal, and allow the refugees who have been driven from Israel by the Arabs themselves similarly to utilise the vast lands held by Arab powers, he would be doing a much better service than if he deprecates, as he does on every possible occasion, the work done by a State which is setting a very good example to the rest of the world. I am sorry that I have had to say this, but I hope the hon. and gallant Member will one day visit that part of the world instead of speaking from a brief given to him.
§ Major Legge-Bourke rose——
§ Major Legge-Bourke
On a point of order. The hon. Member accused me of speaking from a brief and I am entitled to ask that that accusation be withdrawn as it is not correct.
§ Mr. Janner
If it is not correct, then I say that the hon. and gallant Member is speaking without knowledge.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Colonel Alan Gomme-Duncan)
Discussion of the merits or demerits of Israel is not relevant to the matter before the Committee, and I must ask that it should not be pursued. That, of course, applies to both parties.
§ Mr. Janner
I was compelled to answer because the statement had been made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. But 1655 Israel, in a certain sense, was helped to become a State by United Nations efforts.
I want to turn to a matter which concerns and agitates me to a considerable extent. I visited the United Nations Organisation myself as a member of a non-Governmental body, and I speak with some knowledge of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. There are certain proposals which are supported by our representatives at the deliberations of these bodies but, when it comes to putting the conventions into effect through our own Parliament, instead of setting an example to the world we refrain from ratifying what we ourselves agreed to when the declarations or conventions concerned were being discussed.
I refer particularly to the convention on genocide. I have asked time after time in this Chamber why we do not ratify that convention. The crime of genocide has been committed many times in history, but never so blatantly and shamelessly as under the Nazi regime, when millions of Jews and Slavs and other people were put to death in a fiendish way. This roused the conscience of the world and, as far back as 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted, without dissent, a convention for the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide after the matter had been carefully considered in committee and sub-committee.
When I say that the convention was adopted unanimously, I mean that it also had the assent and approval of our own representatives. We can, of course, feel that one or more articles of the convention might require some kind of correction or amendment, but in an Assembly of 60 nations we cannot expect to have it entirely our own way every-time. Still that does not alter the fact that the idea of genocide is abhorrent to everyone in this country, as it is abhorrent to the basic principles of our law.
It is regrettable, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government cannot see their way to ratifying the convention. Thirty-two Governments have ratified the convention already, and amongst them are three Commonwealth countries—Australia, Canada and Ceylon. Why do we not ratify this convention? It is said there 1656 may be difficulties on detail, but I do not know what they are. There was a recent ruling in the International Court of Justice, reaffirmed by the General Assembly, which makes certain reservations possible.
It has been said that there is no need in this country to bother about this ratification. That is not correct. The point is that on an issue of this description we should take the lead and that we should show the rest of the world that we mean what we say, instead of hanging behind. I quite agree that nobody here would dream of the possibility of genocide being committed, either directly or indirectly by ourselves. But it is the tradition of our country that we ought to consider, and we must also bear in mind that if we do not ratify this convention other countries will feel that we are not really serious about the matter.
Now what is the position with regard to refugees generally. A High Commissioner has been appointed. I.R.O. did excellent work. It not only dealt with the interests of something like a million refugees during its short existence but it actually settled or was mainly instrumental in permanently settling a million refugees. It came to an end, and now we have a High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr. Van Heuven Goedhart, who is an excellent person. I understand that he is doing work which is comparable to that done by Nansen in respect of refugees after the First World War.
There again, the High Commissioner is left without the necessary powers. He asks, as do others who know of his work. that there should be opportunities for doing much more field work in various parts of the world. Why are we niggardly about this? Why do we not set an example to the other nations so that they too might join in putting the necessary wherewithal at the disposal of men of that description to carry on the work?
I should like to have referred to the question of the ratification of the Convention on the status of refugees, and I hope that although it is not possible for me to dwell on that for any length of time, when the Minister comes to reply he will tell us why we do not ratify that Convention. For what are we waiting? We introduced the Convention. We sponsored it at the United Nations. Why are we standing back now? Are we 1657 waiting for other nations to set us an example?
It is not fair to the Government, to Parliament or to the country that we should be placed in a position where the finger of scorn can be pointed at us, and so that people can say that when it comes to a question of theory we are prepared to agree to something, but when it comes to putting the matter into practical effect we are not prepared to stand by the position that we took up at that time. I do not think we should treat the United Nations in that way.
The world needs the United Nations Organisation, or a very similar organisation. Without it there will never be peace; the refugee problem will never be solved; without it we cannot solve the vast problem of settling all the people who have been displaced. Let us realise that we must not only propose belief in the United Nations Organisation and in these Specialised Agencies, but we must also do everything we possibly'can to encourage them. We must not adopt the foolish idea of imagining that if we spend money in that direction we are not going to get a return which is infinitely greater than any sum which we so spend.
§ 9.2 p.m.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
If my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) will forgive me for not following him in detail, it is not because I have any essential disagreement with what he said. I think the Committee should be grateful to him for his speech.
It has been an interesting debate, and, though perhaps I should not say it, I am sure that Her Majesty's Opposition are to be congratulated upon having initiated such a good debate which has been constructive and thoughtful and in which, in spite of implied criticisms here and there, everyone has shown that his concern for the United Nations was as great as his support for it.
While I have some minor concern to display about it, it should be understood that my party give their undivided and loyal support to the Charter of the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies. It is particularly appropriate to say that because I sometimes seem to detect evidence of a flickering of faith in the United Nations. That will become more 1658 and more unfortunate, because it ought to be plain to us all that, as we grow in our strength—and we all want to see this country grow in its strength—it becomes more and more essential that we should be meticulous and consistent in our observance and support of the Charter of that organisation.
That thought sometimes occurs to me when I hear hon. Gentlemen opposite shouting hysterically about Persia— though that does not apply to today's proceedings. My party feel that the observance of the Charter of the United Nations must be consistent. Good international law and practice is not made by exceptions but by generalities, and we cannot expect to have the support of the organisation, as regards either its law or its practice, if we set it aside when it is convenient for us to do so. We on this side of the Committee would not do that, at any rate, even when, from the short-term point of view, it might not be to the immediate advantage of this country or to our close interests.
We shall try to adhere to our obligations as well as to claim our rights, because we believe that it is historically demonstrable that for long-term results in terms of peace that is the kind of behaviour we must adopt. I think there is a tendency to forget that even in the comparatively short life of the United Nations it has had many distinctive successes in the localising of conflicts and the improvement of conditions.
It is particularly appropriate that that should be said today when we have had Mr. Trygve Lie, the Secretary-General of the organisation, listening to some part of our proceedings. We and the organisation owe a debt to that man. He has brought to a huge and complicated task not only forbearance but decision at proper times and distinct reservoirs of moral courage, and I know that the Committee would like him to be assured that he, as well as his organisation, will continue to have our support.
I want to deal with some more specific points. In opening the debate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill)—and this has been echoed again and again in the proceedings—displayed our concern that the blue-print should not be accepted as a substitute for performance and that plan- 1659 ning should not be permitted to obscure the need for physical work done in those areas where the organisation has obligations. We entertain this concern, the Committee will appreciate, not because of any lack of devotion to these Specialised Agencies but precisely because of our devotion to them.
I and some of my hon. Friends from time to time are worried that not only in the Specialised Agencies but in the United Nations itself, for example, in the Assembly, there may be some obscuring of objectives, there may be some comparative lack of success, due to dissipation of energy. I am not suggesting for a second that some of these faults can be quickly remedied and I certainly do not want to have it suggested that I am being harsh in my criticism or my concern because, as I have said, this is a comparatively young organisation; but there are many places where thoughtful members of the Committee will find themselves worried about the operation of the United Nations.
Last year, as right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite will have found to their cost, the Assembly of the United Nations had on its agenda 58 items, plus a supplementary list of nine. To some of my hon. Friends, perhaps not experienced in these matters, an agenda of such length may not seem a matter for great distress, and yet I think it is. It is not a new problem and it is one to which, I must admit to the Committee, my right hon. Friends and I, when we had responsibility, found no quick solution, but I fear that if that kind of proportion is continued, the essential work of the Assembly may be blurred by inessentials.
As a corollary—and perhaps the corollary is even more important—if the attention of the public is not held by essentials, it is unlikely that their support will be held, and it is perhaps equally true, as I think the hon. Member for Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) inferred, that there is a lack, or a comparative lack, of clear and interesting reporting upon these events.
I shall not press the hon. Gentleman for a quick and easy answer. I do not believe one exists. But I want him to tell us that the Government are aware of the problems and that however unpopular it may be from time to time 1660 to emphasise that difficulty and the risks attendant upon it, the Government will address themselves to it. Because of our peculiar experience and our status I think we have something to contribute, but I am sure the Committee would want to know that many other nations are coming round to our worries on that account and that there have been tentative experiments in the Assembly which make some contribution.
One other specific question to which I want to draw attention in relation to the United Nations as well as to the Specialised Agencies is this question of membership. I wonder whether the Joint Under-Secretary of State will tell the Committee if the Government are having any further thoughts about the membership of the United Nations?
It will be plain that, of course, if the United Nations Organisation is to be realistic in its approach, and to command acceptance for its conclusions, its membership must be as wide as possible, and it is certainly not unlikely—not to put it higher—that the United Nations Organisation will not be realistic about world problems as long as it lacks the membership, the influence, the consideration and the efforts of such countries as China, Japan, Italy, to say nothing of lesser Powers but significant Powers like our neighbour Ireland, like the Commonwealth sister, Ceylon, and perhaps, those Balkan countries that we almost forget about.
I confess to the Committee that at one time I thought that we should behave as the Charter directs, we ought to have each of these applications separately, considering each application for membership on its merits. I have no doubt that that is the logical and legal attitude. However, we are all concerned with the success, the power and the influence of this organisation, and I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would tell us if he and the Government would think again about the possibility of permitting en bloc admissions of the applicants.
The Committee will know that, of course, it has been the sometimes frivolous attitude of Soviet Russia that has prevented any progress on this subject, but I wonder whether the time has not now come when we could go to Soviet 1661 Russia and say that if Russia would drop the trivial insistence upon Outer Mongolia having a claim for membership, we could address ourselves to admitting all outstanding applicants for admission to the United Nations Organisation.
I find myself doubting, with some of my hon. and right hon. Friends, whether we are likely to make much progress in Korea with the armistice negotiations continuing at their existing level. I find myself wondering whether we have not got very close to the time when, by United Nations action or by diplomatic action, we should not take those conversations a step higher up. I cannot but conclude that, if China were told by the main combatants in Korea that an armistice in Korea would be followed by support for her admission to the United Nations, her attitude would not remain unaffected by such an offer. The consequences are many and, perhaps, harder for some of our allies than for ourselves. It would mean addressing ourselves to Chiang Kai-shek, and it would mean addressing ourselves to Formosa. But can we pretend to ourselves that these problems can be delayed for ever? There comes a moment when events and patience or impatience demand that we should address ourselves to them, and 1 think that that moment is near.
There is one other point that I wish to put to the Joint Under-Secretary of State, and I must press him very strongly upon it. Last week, replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), he told us that it was the view of Her Majesty's Government that the influence and the operation of the Specialised Agencies would improve as they had universal membership. Those were substantially his words. It is a conclusion which many of us have shared for a long time, notably my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker).
But the Under-Secretary of State must not now escape from one conclusion very acceptable to all of us of which the Government have so far been shy. Will he now tell us that, in terms of his general assurance, if the effective Government of China applies for membership of any of the Specialised Agencies, Her Majesty's Government will support such an application? It would be wise, and it would 1662 be logical in terms of the undertaking he gave to the House.
I wanted to pursue this point about the risk of dissipation as it applies to Specialised Agencies. It arises from the point made initially by my right hon. Friend. Are we risking comparative failure by the dissipation of effort in Specialised Agencies and in the related organisations? The hon. Gentleman has been asked how much the budget of the United Nations ran to. The figure is something more than 48 million dollars. In addition, there are 42 million dollars for the work of the Specialised Agencies, and an allowance has to be made of, I think, 22 million dollars for the technical assistance programme. That means, in round figures, in our terms, £40 million this year. Many people are employed— almost 9,000.
Now I do not say—and the Committee will not misunderstand me for a second— that we should not employ £40 million annually and 9,000 people annually in creating the conditions by the use of international organisations that make for stability and the road towards peace. I do not say that for a second. But if there is to be any restriction upon effort, any restriction upon the amount of funds available, and any restriction upon the manpower available, then it is quite plain, I suggest, that the Government must be prepared to have a scheme of priorities in their minds, and to affirm that they have such a system of priorities in their minds.
My right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) asked for an answer about this mean and petty reduction of the contribution towards the technical assistance programme. The answers given in Paris were quite different from the answers now offered from the other side of the Committee. If the Government decide that they have to make a reduction in the money given by them in terms of their obligations to international organisations, are they satisfied that the cut should be borne by the technical assistance programme? Was there no other place where it could have been borne with less harm?
All the Specialised Agencies are desirable. All their works and projects are desirable. All the manpower they can employ could be well employed, but there is not limitless manpower nor limitless funds, 1663 and I think that we are getting to the point where we must affirm that as a Governmental view, and consider what steps we should take.
An hon. Member in this debate was very supercilious asking why the Colonial Office did not go to the organisations to secure the technicians which we are lacking. The Secretary-General felt it necessary to say in his annual report this year upon the technical assistance programme:The difficulty of finding qualified candidates who are prepared to take on technical assistance assignments is still the main cause of delays in meeting the needs of requesting Governments and a factor which impedes the full attainment of the goals which have been set for the programme.That is true and will be increasingly true. Are we satisfied that none of these 8,500 people working in committees and rooms could have filled any of these vacancies in the field? Are we satisfied that our contribution to U.N.E.S.C.O., for example, which is playing a remarkable part inside the technical assistance programme, is in every penny as important as our contribution to the technical assistance programme? This is a question to which I think we must address ourselves, and one upon which the Committee might reasonably expect the Government to give a hint of their views.
There is also the allied problem of securing co-ordination between Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health touched upon this in reply to a question. There is always the possibility that Ministers and Departments, in perfect sincerity, will push their prejudices and their enthusiasms to such an extent that an over-all policy is not worked out. That is not impossible of solution, and I know that some machinery to that end does exist, but what is true governmentally must be mirrored in the organisations themselves.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the school of thought which now thinks of a super-agency charged with co-ordinating, but he and the hon. Member for Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle) both dismissed the idea. I can understand that they are benefiting from experience in a Government of co-ordinators, but for different reasons I share the same conclusion. I sometimes think—but I am only being wise after the event—that we went off on the wrong foot about the Specialised Agencies and 1664 that the essence of the trouble is that they are autonomous. It seems to me now that it might have been better if they were part of the Social and Economic Council. I make it plain that that is my opinion; I am not speaking for my right hon. Friends.
As my right hon. Friend reminds me, it was his plan in 1945. It was very bad luck that we were pushed back. That water is over the weir and we cannot go back, but it is quite plain now that among the member States, and in the Secretariat itself, an attempt has been made to secure something like that. The T.A.C. and the T.A.B. act underneath the Social and Economic Council, in the one case—that is, the T.A.C.—and for the Secretariat in the other case, that is, T.A.B. An effort is being made to see that policy, supervision and the interrelation of the Specialised Agencies in relation to the Technical Assistance Board are being co-ordinated, and a system of priorities is being worked out.
This afternoon, when I had a chance of talking for a few minutes to Mr. Trygve Lie, he told me that Mr. David Owen, whom many hon. Members will know, was being appointed as chairman of the Technical Assistance Board. It is a very big job indeed. We all wish him well, but we hope he will remember that there will be places where he will have to knock heads together when he fails by more reasonable methods to secure coordination. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State will tell us that he shares that view and that his delegations are going to stress it.
If Her Majesty's Government are to assert their full influence in international organisations and conferences, it is proper that the Government and the country should be represented by Ministers who can come to the House and to the Committee. At present a noble Lord, who happens to be a Scotsman and a very able fellow, is leading Her Majesty's Government's delegation at the Social and Economic Council. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln pointed out that at a most important conference in Paris we were not represented by a Member at all. I tell the Government fiercely that that is improper.
1665 The House should have an opportunity of examining these people, who should go away to such conferences reinforced by the views and pressure of the House. I tell the hon. Gentleman officially, on behalf of Her Majesty's Opposition, that we will always see to it, even when things are most difficult with us, that pairing facilities are available so that the Government can be represented by a Minister at these conferences.
It is important that we should simplify our organisation and clarify our representation whenever we are afforded an opportunity to do so. Unless we do so, there is a risk that the organisations will lose the support of the ordinary people, without which they are meaningless and powerless—they are just another set of initials. There is no simple answer to many of these problems. I do not expect dramatic solutions, but we must constantly exert ourselves to make that kind of contribution.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
We have had a most interesting debate, and the House is indebted to the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) for bringing forward this important topic for discussion. She has already been congratulated by her right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil), and may I express our sense of indebtedness from this side of the Committee? Though other Members have complained about the thinness of the Committee after the all-night Sitting, I for one, feel that whatever we may have lacked by way of the quantity of the audience has been well and truly made up by the quality of the speeches. I confess frankly to having learned a very great deal from the many well informed speeches on this important topic.
What has struck me about this debate has been the great measure of agreement throughout the Committee upon the gravity of the problem which the United Nations and its agencies are faced with, and the universal desire that Her Majesty's Government should be both alive and equal to the responsibility which falls upon them as members of the United Nations. I hope during the course of my speech to be able to show 1666 that we have fulfilled and are continuing to fulfil those great responsibilities.
I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to reply to the questions which were raised and deal with one or two of the subjects which were not mentioned or dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in his own broad survey, which covered the economic field, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation.
Let me now deal with the other specialised agencies which have been such a feature of this debate. May I first say a general word on the subject by way of explaining the policy of Her Majesty's Government? It has sometimes been suggested—and I noticed a slight vein of criticism in this debate— that because we refuse to tolerate what we regard as extravagance in some of these agencies, that that fact denotes a waning interest on our part. Nothing could be further from the truth. We wish to see these agencies economically administered and efficiently used. We also wish to avoid the rather natural, though I think rather dangerous, tendency of certain of these organisations to overreach themselves with over-ambitious schemes, which they have not the technical resources or the experience to fulfil. We also want to guard against overlapping and duplication of functions, which can only dissipate the resources of the agencies and lead to muddle and confusion.
That is why we have insisted on the utmost economy in expenditure, upon balanced programmes of technical assistance and the maximum co-ordination between each of these agencies. The right hon. Lady, in opening this debate, said that in a debate in another place the accent was on "go slow." I can tell the right hon. Lady that so far as this Government are concerned the accent is not on "go slow" but on "go steady."
I agree with steady progress, and I also agree with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) that nothing could do a greater disservice to international co-operation than to persist in voting even larger annual budgets and more and more ambitious schemes of technical assistance, without any regard to the cost or the availability of resources. Nothing could do more 1667 damage to the reputation of these imaginative projects than for them to raise the hopes of perhaps millions of people in the under-developed and underfed areas of the world only to dash them for want of the wherewithal to follow up and fulfil their promised assistance.
The right hon. Lady, together with some of her hon. Friends, accused us of dragging our feet. In answer to this accusation it is only fair that I should give one or two facts, and may I begin by giving the actual British contribution in terms of percentage of the total to the United Nations and its major agencies, a question which I think was asked by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner).
To the United Nations itself the United Kingdom subscription was 10.56 per cent. of the total budget; to I.L.O. 13.15 per cent.; to F.A.O. 15 per cent.: to U.N.E.S.C.O. 11.59 per cent. and to the World Health Organisation 10.76 per cent. In all these contributions the United Kingdom has taken second place only to the United States of America in her contribution, and in terms of population the United Kingdom contribution is even higher than that of the United States.
§ Mr. Janner
I do not want the hon. Gentleman to run away with the idea that I am at all satisfied with what the other Governments are doing. What I wanted to know was what is the aggregate amount in terms of sterling, I imagine a proportion of it is sterling and not hard currency. Can he give the actual figure so that we may use it as an argument and a whip against other Governments who are not playing their part?
§ Mr. Nutting
I can give the hon. Gentleman the figures for each one, but I am afraid that my arithmetic is not good enough to add them up on the spot. United Nations, £1,500,000; I.L.O., £300,000; F.A.O., £268,000; U.N.E.S.C.O., £347,000. I scarcely think that this justifies any hon. Member or any one outside the House accusing this or the previous Government of dragging their feet in these matters.
In view of the several references which have also been made to the cut in our contribution to the United Nations programme of technical assistance, may I say a word to clarify the position. At 1668 the start of this programme, the principles of which of course the Government have always supported, pledges totalling 20 million dollars were made for the first period of 18 months. Of this sum only some 7 million dollars were actually spent. Towards the programme for the second period of 12 months—and I would emphasise that there are two different periods, one of 18 months and the other of 12 months —some 19 million dollars have been pledged, 1 million dollars short of the proposed target.
This, together with the unspent 13 million dollars from the first period, makes a total of some 32 million dollars to meet proposed expenditure of about 29 million dollars during the course of this year. So I can assure the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) that the cut which Her Majesty's Government were obliged to make in view of the overriding need for economy has in no way caused the work of technical assistance to suffer.
§ Sir R. Acland rose——
§ Mr. Nutting
I am sorry I cannot give way. I have a very short time in which to answer a wide debate, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will forgive me.
§ Mr. Nutting
May I also remind the Committee of what we are doing in other fields—the Colombo Plan, for example, to which we have pledged £300 million over the next six years. At the same time do not let us forget that we have voted £140 million for colonial welfare and development over the last five years. And what about our help to the Middle East which we have given through the Development Division of the British Middle East Office since it was set up in 1946? This includes technical assistance, advice and assistance in pest control, animal husbandry, forestry—which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson)—and health. I consider this a record about which this Government and their predecessors can well feel a measure of pride.
1669 Let me examine the work of the Specialised Agencies to whom much tribute has been paid in the course of this debate. I think it fair to say, as was said by the right hon. Member for Greenock, that despite the inevitable growing pains I have mentioned, and which he also mentioned, and despite, too, the vastness of some of the problems which have to be tackled, let alone those which still remain to be attacked, the Specialised Agencies can justifiably claim a record of solid achievement. This not only applies to those long-standing agencies, such as the I.L.O., but also to the latest in the field, such as the International Bank, which has not been mentioned so far today, the World Health Organisation and, perhaps most remarkable of all, the International Refugee Organisation.
In this record I think the most notable feature is the fact that they have concentrated on the worst and more difficult problems, such as aid and assistance to the under-developed areas. Whether it be the International Bank promoting economic development by way of loans and technical advice, or the World Health Organisation, or F.A.O. working to raise levels of nutrition, both by promoting production and improving distribution, or the International Labour Organisation striving to improve labour standards by international convention and agreement— all these efforts are directed at the removal of poverty, ignorance and disease —all these efforts are directed at the improvement of living standards, not only in the material but in the spiritual and moral spheres as well.
Perhaps the most remarkable success story of the Specialised Agencies has been in the sphere of the relief and resettlement of refugees since the end of the last World War, to which the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West referred. As the Committee will remember, the first Organisation in this field was U.N.R.R.A., who succeeded in repatriating some 7 million war refugees. When U.N.R.R.A. came to an end in July, 1947, the International Refugee Organisation took over the handling of the 1,600,000 refugees and displaced persons who were still in need of assistance.
Before this Organisation came to an end on 31st January this year, it had performed the fantastic feat of re-settling 1670 over 1 million of these people. What is more, before they closed up they completed arrangements for most of the refugees still requiring assistance to be taken care of by the Governments of the countries in which they reside. This does not, of course, mean that the refugee problem has been solved; far from it. There is still not only a hard core of refugees who are not catered for by the countries in which they are living, but of course there are still new refugees coming into Western Europe from behind the Iron Curtain.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to whom tribute has been paid—and I would add my quota of tribute—has taken over the functions of the I.R.O. in protecting the legal rights of refugees and is also shouldering the task of trying to find, with the aid of Governments and voluntary societies, a permanent solution for refugee problems and funds for the necessary work of relief.
In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean), I should like to say that I am satisfied that this task is being resolutely tackled.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us if the High Commissioner is being given any funds with which to do this work? I had experience of this after the First World War. Without funds a man cannot do much.
§ Mr. Nutting
The High Commissioner has launched an appeal for 3 million dollars. That appeal has already met with a certain response from Governments of European countries. We hope very much that he will get the full amount.
I was asked to say a few words about Arab refugees by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). He said rather apologetically that he was pleading a lost cause. I assure him that so far as the Government are concerned we are determined that this cause shall not be lost. As he himself said, the United Nations Assembly, in Paris in January this year, launched a major attack upon this grievous and tragic problem by initiating a 250 million dollar programme of relief and resettlement over a period of three years.
1671 Her Majesty's Government have offered up to 12.4 million dollars to cover the first year, which ends this month, because it began in June, 1951. It has achieved a considerable amount, as I hope to tell hon. Members. The United States has offered up to 50 million dollars. These two major contributions, together with those from other United Nations members, including I am happy to say the Government of Israel, have enabled the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to achieve the total of 67 million dollars for a six years' programme. For the second year, I very much hope that the contributions both of Great Britain and of the United States will be still further increased.
My hon. Friend complained that only 50 million dollars of the 250 million dollar total would be used for relief, but I think he will agree that, without prejudice to the right of these refugees to return to their homes one day, it is surely more realistic and of much more practical help to the refugees themselves that the larger proportion of this money that is available should be devoted to their resettlement elsewhere than in Israel, with the agreement and active co-operation of the Arab Governments in the Middle East.
I am glad to be able to say, and to assure the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, that considerable progress has already been made in the discussions between the Agency and the Governments concerned to this end.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Can the hon. Gentleman put the matter in human terms and say how many refugees have actually gone from the camps and are actually at work somewhere else?
§ Mr. Nutting
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that progress has been made with this vast problem. As he well knows, there are 850,000 of these refugees in Arab countries, some of them in some of the poorest of the Arab countries, notably the 450,000 in Jordan. This is a considerable problem, and I must ask him to be patient and to hope, as we all hope, that now that this programme has been launched, some active assistance will be given to these unfortunate refugees for their relief and resettlement, which they so much deserve.
1672 I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock, if I may switch the ground rather quickly, about the question of Chinese representation on the United Nations. The right hon. Gentleman, in asking his question, suggested that a solution of this question might help to break the deadlock in Korea.
Her Majesty's Government have made it clear on numerous occasions that they adhere to the policy of the previous Government in regarding the Central People's Government in Peking as the Government of China. They therefore consider that the Central People's Government should represent China in the United Nations.
But, like the previous Government, they feel that consideration of this question should be postponed, in view of the Peking Government's persistence in behaviour which is inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
It would not be reasonable for the Central People's Government to expect us to champion her cause in the United Nations at a time when Chinese forces are actually inflicting casualties upon United Kingdom forces supporting United Nations action in Korea.
Apart from this, however, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the question of Chinese representation in the United Nations has any bearing on the present difficulties in the armistice negotiations. These difficulties have arisen over the insistence of the Chinese and North Korean negotiators that all prisoners of war in United Nations hands should be returned to them, whether they wish it or not. That is the point on which the talks are at present deadlocked, and we have no evidence whatsoever to support the right hon. Gentleman's contention that recognition of the right of the Central People's Government to occupy the Chinese seat in the United Nations would assist in breaking this deadlock.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want to do me an injustice. I chose my words fairly carefully and said that I could not think that their attitude to that matter could be helpful in the present position. I wonder if the hon. Gentleman disagrees with that proposition?
§ Mr. Nutting
I do, because the negotiations have broken down on a completely different issue which has no relationship to the position which the Central People's Government of Peking occupy on or have in the United Nations.
The right hon. Gentleman also suggested—he called it a kindred question— that since according to an answer I gave the other day in the House Her Majesty's Government favour the principle of universality of membership for the Specialised Agencies, we should therefore press for the admission of the Central People's Government of China to these Specialised Agencies. It is true that Her Majesty's Government believe, as I said the other day, that these agencies can only be improved by increasing and broadening their missions, but the question of Chinese participation in these agencies is not, however, primarily one of new membership.
China is already a member of many of them. The question at issue is which Government of China is entitled to appoint representatives to the Chinese seat. That is the problem, and the policy of Her Majesty's Government on this issue must, of course, be governed by their policy on Chinese representation in the United Nations as a whole.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me about the general question of new admissions to U.N.O. It has been suggested in other quarters that we might be able to break the deadlock which now exists between the insistence of the Soviet Union on the simultaneous admission of all applicants to membership, whether they qualify or not, and the view which we and most other members hold that such a proposal is contrary to the Charter. I think the right hon. Gentleman suggested some kind of horse trade with the Soviet Union which would get round the conditions for admission in the Charter, the question of admission en bloc. The present situation is that of the 15 applicants whose applications have actually been considered by the Security Council, five were sponsored by the Soviet —Albania, Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria and Outer Mongolia.
Because of the Corfu Channel incident, breaches in the Human Rights clauses of the peace treaties and the fact that Outer Mongolia is not a sovereign State at all, these surely can hardly be said to qualify 1674 for admission under the Charter, and the United Kingdom are therefore not prepared to vote for their admission. The Soviet Union for their part have vetoed all the other applicants on the ground that it is discrimination to admit some without others, although I may say in passing that this is contrary to an International Court advisory opinion—The Hague Court.
On the last occasion when this deadlock arose, the United Kingdom delegate abstained from voting on the ground that though Her Majesty's Government would like to see the membership of the Organisation strengthened, they would not support any policy which would do so in ways that were inconsistent with the Charter, and we are upheld in that view by that decision of The Hague Court.
I think the Committee will agree that it would be clearly most undesirable, without amending the Charter, to flout its provisions in any such way. But, of course, within these limits, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said, Her Majesty's Government are most anxious to secure the acceptance into the United Nations of new members and to see the membership broadened to the widest possible extent.
From all that I have said about our part in the Specialised Agencies, the Committee, I am sure, will agree that Britain has nothing to be ashamed of in the contribution which she is making alike to the United Nations and to the Specialised Agencies themselves. In all this we have played a leading part in the financial, material, technical and moral support which we have rendered to these causes.
Nothing is easier than to be cynical or defeatist about the future of the United Nations. Yet nothing is more dangerous, and Her Majesty's Government emphatically reject any such counsels of despair. It may be that the hopes which accompanied my right hon. Friend and the present Leader of the Opposition when they went to San Francisco to draw up the Charter of this renewed attempt to organise the world for peace have been dimmed by the experiences of the last few years. But these hopes have not been abandoned.
All that we have contributed to the United Nations and all its agencies, all that we are contributing in Korea and 1675 throughout the world to these causes, has been in furtherance of one aim and one aim alone—the aim of peace; peace by the raising of living standards throughout the world, peace by the settlement of disputes through applying the principles of justice and the rule of law. The Government remain dedicated to this endeavour to build upon the ruins of so much strife and so much conflict a new and better understanding between all the nations of the world.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I have listened very patiently to the hon. Gentleman, but I want to point out to the Committee that in my opening speech I asked four questions which were of fundamental importance. The Minister of Health said that if he was unable to answer them then the Joint Under-Secretary of State who would be winding up the debate would address himself to them. The Minister of Health did not answer one of my questions, and the hon. Gentleman has not touched on one. We have sat here listening to the hon. Gentleman in a courteous manner, not wanting to interrupt, and I make this protest that he and his right hon. Friend have completely failed to answer the important questions put to them.
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Member put questions about the amendment of the Charter but, frankly, from the elucidation he gave in answer to his own right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock, neither I nor his right hon. Friend followed the point he was making. If he will write to me I will do my best to give an answer.
§ Mr. Janner
I have asked questions on the ratification of the Convention on Genocide so often that I really thought that today we should have a reply. Is there to be a reply? Are we still going to fiddle about with the matter? Whilst I appreciate that many things have been done, this is very disappointing. Can the hon. Gentleman, in the last few minutes left to him, make a statement or say whether a statement will be made at some future date on this very important matter?
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Member has been most persistent in putting questions on this matter. He has always had the same answer out of this Government and the last Government and, as far as I am aware, the position remains entirely the same.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Absolutely disgraceful, and completely incompetent.
To report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. Drewe.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit-again Tomorrow.