HC Deb 18 June 1953 vol 516 cc1151-2
1. Mrs. White

asked the Under-secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what are the main recommendations of the Mission under Mr. Arthur Gaitskell which has been investigating development in Bechuanaland; and when it is proposed to publish its report.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)

The mission's recommendations are long and detailed. Broadly, they concluded that prospects of cattle ranching in the Kalahari should be favourable, but that much further information, for example, regarding the existence and distribution of adequate water supplies, is needed before any final decision can be reached whether development of the area is likely to be an economic proposition. They have, therefore, recommended a five-year period in which detailed information about all relevant factors can be obtained by practical experiment. It is hoped to publish the report shortly.

Mrs. White

Will the Government give an assurance that during the five-year period the fullest possible support will be given to experiments, both by way of staff and finance?

Mr. Foster

We shall give what assistance we can. We are very grateful for the report and very enthusiastic about it. We shall have to consider what the conditions are at the time that support has to be given.

Mr. Bottomley

In view of the so called improvements in economic conditions will the Minister give further consideration to the possibility of providing transport to and from Bechuanaland through South-West Africa to the coast?

Mr. Foster

That is another question.