HC Deb 24 November 1952 vol 508 cc26-8
45. Mr. Lee

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will now undertake a survey of Britain's raw material deposits.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I have been asked to reply. No, Sir. Much is already known and I am sure that the responsible Departments would encourage further exploration of deposits of particular raw materials, where this is in the national interest.

Mr. Lee

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that we have now come to the time when our ability to retain anything like a balance in our trade may well depend upon our capacity to get more of our own raw materials? Will not the right hon. Gentleman try to show a little initiative in this important issue?

Mr. Manuel

Is the right hon. Gentleman quite sure that research in this matter, so far as exploration and extraction of raw materials in this country are concerned, has been done sufficiently well in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands?

Mr. Crookshank

I have no particular information about Scotland but, of course, the Geological Survey has gone into a great many different parts of the country and made much exploration.

Mr. Manuel

Not enough in Scotland.

Mr. Lewis

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to "Britain Strong and Free," in which it is stated quite definitely that the Tory Government would carry out the proposal which is contained in the Question? As the party opposite have been in office for 12 months, is it not about time that they did something to implement that promise?

Mr. Crookshank

That is what is meant by the reference by my right hon. Friend that he is sure that responsible Ministers would encourage further exploration where it is in the national interests.

46. Mr. Lee

asked the Prime Minister whether he will discuss with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers the possibilities of large-scale investigation of raw material deposits within the Commonwealth and Empire.

Mr. Crookshank

I have been asked to reply. Her Majesty's Government have no doubt that Commonwealth Prime Ministers in the course of their discussions about financial, commercial and economic policy will consider what possibilities there are of increasing economic production of all kinds, including the development of raw materials. Each Commonwealth Government must, however, be the judge of the necessity for large-scale investigations in its own territory.

Mr. Lee

My Question asked whether the Prime Minister would initiate such discussions. Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that within the Commonwealth itself is really our only hope of obtaining raw materials to make us free of our dilemma as regards the shortage of dollars? Surely, at a time when we are to have a conference, it is far more important that we should discuss this type of thing more than almost any other point.

Mr. J. Hynd

While each Commonwealth Prime Minister is responsible for his own territory, the British Government are responsible for the Colonial Territories. What progress, if any, is being made in regard to such things as geological surveys in Kenya and other parts of Africa?

Mr. Crookshank

Any questions about the Colonies should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a survey was carried out under the last Administration and that a report was prepared for the Commonwealth conference? Have the Government been giving any attention to this and making a report, or have they been spending all their time on the Transport Bill and other unnecessary Measures?

Mr. Lee

On a point of order. Is it not discourteous to the House, when a Question is put down to the Prime Minister, who then asks his right hon. Friend to reply, for the Leader of the House blandly to refuse to give any information whatever in answer to my Question?

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman gave an answer. Ministerial answers are frequently unsatisfactory to Members who ask Questions, no matter on which side of the House they happen to be.