HC Deb 06 May 1953 vol 515 cc364-6
7. Mr. D. Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action he proposes to take in connection with the incident at Kingston, Jamaica, when a Canadian and a United States official of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, were, upon landing, requested to sign undertakings that they would not address or speak to any groups of trade unionists in the island; and whether he is aware that the National Workers Union of Jamaica is affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and that the two officials concerned were on routine business of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Mr. Lyttelton

This matter is within the competence of the Government of Jamaica and I do not propose to take any action. As far as I am aware, these gentlemen were not travelling officially on the business of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Mr. Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both of these gentlemen are officials of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and how does he expect trade union organisation to grow up in Jamaica in a free and open manner if he refuses the Jamaicans the assistance of international trade union officials from other countries, one of them a British subject?

Mr. Lyttelfon

It is not I who refuse them, it is the Government of Jamaica which has done so. There was a strike in one of the bauxite undertakings, and one of these gentlemen by name Mr. Zonarich came to Jamaica earlier in the year with the expressed object of creating havoc in the newly-developed bauxite industry. These are the reasons put forward by the Jamaican Government why he was asked on this occasion to refrain from addressing the workers during the progress of this particular strike.

Mr. Jones rose

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Member must allow me to answer. He must not take it that this particular form of undertaking asked for is either of general application or is to be applied to everybody who comes in.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Will my right hon. Friend be assured that the majority of the House will support the action of the Jamaican Government, with whom this sort of decision seems properly to rest?

Mr. Wigg

On a point of order. Is not the rebuke that the Secretary of State for the Colonies addressed to my hon. Friend for rising before the question was answered, partly due to the fact that so far very few supplementary questions have been called from this side of the House?

Mr. Shinwell

With reference to the supplementary question addressed to the right hon. Gentleman, will he make it abundantly clear that, generally speaking, he would not condone the refusal of any of the Colonial Governments, so far as he has any responsibility, in refusing to permit the workers anywhere to be addressed by officials of a trade union?

Mr. Lyttelton

I am very glad that the right hon. Member addressed that supplementary question to me because I can give the assurance for which he asked. It also enables me to say what I want to make very clear in this connection, and that is that there is no criticism, either implied or specific, about the actions of the I.C.F.T.U.

Mr. Jones

Surely the right hon. Gentleman recognises that unless he takes some action to acquaint the Jamaican Government with the fact that its action does not meet with his approval, this may lead to further incidents so far as the trade union movement is concerned in Jamaica, which may inevitably drive it underground and into the hands of undesirable people?

Mr. Lyttelton

The hon. Member is quite off base on this matter. Neither of these two gentlemen who were asked to sign these undertakings was there on the official trade union business. One of them was responsible for making highly-inflamatory speeches on a previous occasion, and it was for that reason he was asked to give these undertakings which, as I have said, have no general application and are not applied to all persons.