HC Deb 18 December 1958 vol 597 cc1397-412

4.15 p.m.

Mr. Farey-Jones (Watford)

At this time of the year, when there is a feeling of peace and good will amongst men, I rise in this last debate of the day with a deep sense of mission. It is to try to preserve intact the movement which has come to be referred to as the Malcolm Clubs, an organisation which has been in being for approximately fifteen years and has done a wonderful job of work all over the world and which is now threatened with extinction.

Being forced, as I am, to telescope into a few minutes a case which should take many hours to unfold, I am compelled to refer in the briefest possible outline to the history of this case. No one has denied that from their inception right up to the present time the Malcolm Clubs have performed a truly magnificent task in welfare and in services on stations overseas, which in wartime spread across the world but now in peacetime have contracted to stations in Germany, in Malaya and one in this country. The trouble which has arisen is the alleged debt of the Malcolm Clubs to the Air Ministry. It is not of the clubs' making but is entirely due to the loss of the concessional rate of the mark in 1956. It is from this debt that the sad, sorry, and even sordid story, of the negotiations between the Malcolm Clubs and the Air Ministry commences.

From the outset there has been a complete lack of appreciation from the Civil Service in Whitehall of the task of incalculable value done largely overseas. The Malcolm Clubs of necessity, never having been capitalised, have had to run all those fifteen years virtually on a shoestring. Yet, in spite of that, and this is what I want every hon. Member of the House to bear in mind, during the period in question they have contributed no less a sum than £85,000 towards airmen's station funds, part of the proceeds of which go to the Royal Air Force Central Fund.

Today the subject of contention is the alleged debt owing to the Air Ministry, said to be £38,000, a figure strongly disputed by the Malcolm Clubs because, as I have said, it results from the loss of the concessional rate of the mark and from the most arbitrary and extraordinary treatment received by the Malcolm Clubs from the Air Ministry in the months following the loss of the concessional rate. When this treatment is compared with that accorded to other bodies by Ministries such as by the War Office to the Council of Voluntary Work, the treatment accorded by the Air Ministry can frankly only be regarded as shameful.

Due to the extreme time limitation in which I am compelled to speak, I can only say that after a most rigid examination of all the documents I would welcome a detailed examination either by an independent committee or a completely neutral person. I am confident that the Malcolm Clubs as an organisation would come out second to none and would be very proud of what they have done. The more I have looked at, studied and gone into the whole of this sad story, the more have I been convinced that extreme pressure is being put on by the Civil Service somewhere to close these clubs for motives which have not yet been brought to light but which I am quite certain are completely unworthy.

Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)


Mr. Farey-Jones

Throughout the years, the proud motto of the Royal Air Force—and here I bow my head to the memory of Lord Trenchard—has been "Per Ardua ad Astra." Obviously the Minister's mistaken advisers are trying to change that motto to "Per Ardua ad Naafidom"—something which can be viewed only with utter distaste by people who have the interest of the Force at heart.

It might be argued, and the Minister may well argue, that this is a purely factual case and a matter which has to be treated purely on its financial merits, and that he and his Department have to face the scrutiny of the Committee of Public Accounts. Yet if one compares this paltry and niggardly sum which is being used as the weapon of destruction of the Malcolm Clubs with the literally millions of pounds which have been wasted on ill-advised operations in other directions, one cannot help having a feeling of utter and complete disgust.

It might also be said that the argument for the retention of the Malcolm Clubs is an emotional argument and is not justified by present-day facts. I remind the Minister that throughout the history of the R.A.F. itself, it has been an emotional Service. It has been a Service in which deep emotions have produced the most fantastic and the most wonderful results. One has only to think of the emotions which controlled and inspired the Few in the days of the Battle of Britain. We cannot cut emotion out of this.

It is also emotion which has inspired those truly wonderful ladies who have given their services voluntarily and who have created these exceptional clubs from the beginning. These ladies are dedicated and consecrated to providing an atmosphere for the flying "erk"—and I use the word "erk" in the affectionate sense in which we regard all Air Force personnel—quite different from the atmosphere of a rather dirty waiting room at a railway station, which is the only alternative which would be offered if the Malcolm Clubs were closed.

In passing, I also know that flying men everywhere would like to pay a tribute in this matter to the leaders of that very remarkable organisation, Lord and Lady Tedder. I am equally convinced that decent men everywhere and men of good will in all three Services will wish both Lord and Lady Tedder good luck in their great efforts to preserve, enhance, and if possible extend this exemplary service.

Here I want to quote a very short leading article which appeared on Sunday in the Sunday Times: The Air Minister's decision that the closing of the Malcolm Clubs must go ahead, announced even before Parliament has had the opportunity of the debate set down for Thursday, must cause inevitable disappointment. Since the Air Ministry stated last July that these clubs would be closed to avoid unnecessary loss of public funds, there have been many indications that their financial position has improved and that they might be able to pay their way without additional subvention. The gap … between the two sides seemed to have significantly narrowed. At the same time a great weight of Service opinion has flowed in in support of the Clubs and their essential value to the R.A.F. since the danger to them was first ventilated in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. Then comes this last paragraph: It is hard to conceive that it is beyond the ingenuity of the Ministry to devise some means of strengthening the financial structure if that is all that stands between the Service men and the Clubs they so clearly desire. Surely it is not yet too late for reconsideration. What other case might be made by the Minister? Even if he says that the decision to close the clubs was unanimously offered by the present Air Council or by all his advisers, it is a sober thought that all those Air Force officers, from the days of the Battle of Britain until now, those who had responsibility when we were fighting on our own, practically without exception have demanded that the clubs should be maintained. I have letters and correspondence to prove that.

If there is any further doubt about whether the clubs should be kept open, I have with me the signatures and the letters and telegrams from more than 90 per cent. of the Service strength of the R.A.F. stationed in Germany, plus hundreds of other letters. Other hon. Members, on both sides of the House, have had telegrams and letters from all over the world—and that is in addition to those sent to me. Could there be a more damning indictment of the pettyfogging policy followed by the Civil Service?

By and large, the men of the air are queer birds. I have spent most of my life with them and I know them well. They regard these clubs as something essentially their own, something a little better. Given good will by the Air Ministry and ordinary decent business treatment, they can pay their way. Even now, they are reducing month by month the paltry debt which they owe to the Air Ministry. Sentiment? Yes. But who can say how things will develop in Germany, or in any other part of the world, when the clubs may be as desperately needed as they were in the latter years of the war?

To shut down the clubs and to dispense with their services can be regarded only as a crime. I know that my right hon. Friend loves everything connected with the Air Force. I recognise that and I pay him tribute for it. I implore him to keep the door open. Flying men, past, present and future, all over the world await his answer, not because of the relative size of the Malcolm Clubs, but because of the faith which they have in them as their own organisation.

4.29 p.m.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington. East)

The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Farey-Jones) has put his case for the Malcolm Clubs with great eloquence and with restrained objectivity. I intervene because I have both a debt to the House and an interest in the matter. I have been associated with Malcolm Clubs since their beginning. I was associated with Lord and Lady Tedder when Malcolm Clubs were formed in November, 1944. I have since been on their council. I am one of the guarantors, and, therefore, vitally interested in the solvency or insolvency of the organisation.

I have visited a number of the clubs in Germany and elsewhere and I echo the sentiment of the hon. Member and the tributes which he paid to Lady Tedder and the many other ladies associated with her in the devoted and dedicated service which, for fourteen or fifteen years, they have given to the organisation. I am proud to have been associated with the Malcolm Clubs.

I must disclose to the House something of the negotiations with the Minister earlier this year. The Minister proposed that the clubs should be closed. I had an interview with him in May and a further interview with him in July. On that occasion, he suggested that they should be closed by the end of the current year. I told the Minister that my view, as a member of the council—although I could not commit my colleagues—was that if the clubs were ever to be closed down it would be unfortunate, and that it should at least be a phased operation, taking place over a period of two years or more.

Subsequently, the council of the Malcolm Clubs accepted the suggestion of the Minister that he should appoint an independent firm of accountants to investigate the state of the accounts between the Air Ministry and the clubs. That investigation has taken place. I have also had the advantage of making a much closer investigation of the financial position of the clubs, in their relations with the Air Ministry. So far from these clubs being indebted to the Air Ministry in the sum of about £40,000, their present indebtedness does not exceed £11,000 or £12,000.

The position has radically changed since the spring of this year, when the Minister was first insisting that these clubs should be closed down because he feared for the solvency of the organisation, and that the indebtedness of these clubs to the Air Ministry would increase. That is the only excuse that has ever been given for the Minister's threat, and there is no foundation for it. Since the spring of this year the indebtedness of the clubs to the Air Ministry has been reduced by no less than £5,000.

Furthermore, they are in the process of realising capital assets to the value of at least £18,000 as a result of the economies which have taken place. I refer to the closing of one or two obviously unprofitable clubs which it would have been nice to keep up because they were rendering a valuable service to airmen in isolated places. Owing to the Minister's pressure they have been closed. As a result of these and other economies, I am now satisfied—speaking with the full responsibility of a member of the council—that this organisation can continue, granted the subsidy which it has been granted for the last year or two, in common with all similar organisations.

But a further change has come over the situation since the spring of this year. Then negotiations were being conducted in private. In the last few weeks, however, the affairs of the Malcolm Clubs have become a matter of great public interest and importance. For reasons which are obvious, I should not have raised this matter myself, and I am glad that the pressure upon the Minister has come from the benches opposite. I can state that I, too, have received numerous letters, telegrams and petitions from Singapore and Germany signed by large numbers of airmen, begging that this organisation should be allowed to remain in being.

One of the reasons which the Minister gave me for his attitude was his fear of criticism by the Public Accounts Committee if he allowed the organisation to continue. That is an entirely bogus reason. The expressions of public opinion which have been voiced in the House, in another place, only today, and also in the Press, would have given the Minister all the protection he required from any criticism by the Public Accounts Committee.

Furthermore, if he is really afraid of that Committee I would sponsor the suggestion that the matter should be investigated now, if necessary, by that Committee, because I do not believe that there is any danger whatever of the existing indebtedness to the Air Ministry being increased if these clubs are allowed to continue. On the contrary, I believe that as a result of capital assets being realised, and of the economies made, this indebtedness will be reduced—and can be reduced only if these clubs are allowed to continue.

Therefore, so far from the Minister having any need to worry about criticisms from the Public Accounts Committee, he is in danger of a very considerable volume of Parliamentary criticism from both sides of the House unless he changes his provisional opinion on the subject and allows these clubs to continue.

There is no need for a sudden, dramatic decision to be made. Negotiations can take place, and the Minister can have all the safeguards he likes regarding how the money is spent and what economies will be made. In fact, I do not think that any challenge has ever been made to the competence and efficiency with which the clubs have been run. As the hon. Member for Watford pointed out, the present situation arose through purely fortuitous circumstances, because the concession rate which was enjoyed from September, 1956, in Germany was withdrawn. I therefore ask the Minister, in the light of the criticism from both sides of the House, to consider his whole attitude to the matter.

4.36 p.m.

Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)

I do not want to delay the House for more than a minute or two, and certainly nothing that I can say would strengthen the case put by hon. Members who have already spoken. But I would like to say a word as one of the numerous hon. Members—nearly 50—who put their names to a Motion some month or two ago, the effect of which was: …that the projected action of the Air Ministry in abolishing these clubs is contrary to the best interests of the Royal Air Force and ought to be abandoned. Those of us who put our names to that Motion represented all sections of the House and all ages. We had one thing in common, an abiding affection for the Royal Air Force. The great majority of us have had the honour of serving in that Service in one capacity or another. We are very much concerned—and I speak here for a number of my hon. Friends who cannot be present today—at the attitude of my right hon. Friend. We know, of course, as my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Farey-Jones) has already made clear, that there is no one person who has a greater love and regard for the Royal Air Force than my right hon. Friend.

We are, however, a little concerned as to whether he has really ever considered the merits of the matter with an open mind. The reason for that is that in the first place we had hoped that there would be an opportunity of debating the matter at some length. My hon. Friend the Member for Watford was able to secure a hearing for it today at the very end of our debate. But, unfortunately, we found that my right hon. Friend thought it was right to make a statement in answer to a Question on 10th December which really had the effect of prejudging the whole matter. About that we are very concerned indeed.

Of course, there is much more in it than merely a question of the views of Members of the House of Commons. There is the question of feeling in the Service, and we are very much concerned as to whether my right hon. Friend is not really out of touch with Service opinion in the matter. There is a fear that he is too much influenced by advisers other than advisers in the Service. That, I think, would be a very unfortunate thing.

I do not want it to be thought that I am saying anything whatever in criticism of my right hon. Friend. I am sure that he has acted on the advice which he has received, but I think he ought to realise, if I may very respectfully say so to him. that there is very strong feeling in the matter. It would be a most unfortunate thing if that great Service should have the idea that the Secretary of State is not acting in its interest and with regard to its views. I am sure that is not so, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will take the opportunity today of making that clear.

4.39 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)

I have time for only one point. Like many other hon. Members, I have visited Malcolm Clubs all over the world, in Japan, South-East Asia, the Middle East and Germany. I have always been deeply impressed with what they are doing. I ask the Secretary of State to answer this point. Why could not the clubs be given the same direct and indirect help which is given to the other voluntary bodies that do welfare work on Royal Air Force stations? Why are the clubs singled out and discriminated against?

4.40 p.m.

Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I too wish to add my plea to my right hon. Friend, and I want to say that I do so rather on the grounds that the Royal Air Force, as compared with the Royal Navy and the Army, is a comparatively new service, which is building up its traditions, and I would suggest to my right hon Friend that these clubs have become a part of the Royal Air Force. They were founded because the name of Malcolm, who was a great hero, meant something to them, and we know how many of them have been carried on by a great man, a Marshal of the Royal Air Force. I have had some experience overseas in the Far East, and I know that they have done very excellent work.

I would like to ask my right hon. Friend if he does not think that they only can do better work than any professional organisation, particularly in regard to the welfare side. I am not running down the N.A.A.F.I., which I think is excellent for stores, but which can never take on the welfare side which can be done by such clubs as the Malcolm Clubs. We have recently been discussing recruiting and the Grigg Report. We have also been discussing the morale of the various Services, and I am suggesting to my right hon. Friend that to do away with these clubs would be interfering with that morale.

These clubs are morale-boosters. My right hon. Friend may remember that the N.A.A.F.I. in the Far East had to send for women to help them in their work. If we had had these clubs earlier, and they had come out to Singapore in 1944, we would have been better served. I worked overseas in Java and Malaya, and we would have been very sad if we had not had them before the N.A.A.F.I. could arrive there, and this was one of the benefits of this organisation—that it could arrive more quickly than the Y.M.C.A. I would suggest that if the A.O.C. in Cyprus had been allowed to have more of these clubs they perhaps would not have been in the situation they are in to- day. There has been a cutting down of these clubs, as we all know. Some of these clubs helped to carry others, because some pay better than others. The Far East ones pay very well, and have helped to carry the others.

I have a great fear that if we allow these Malcolm Clubs to be done away with, it may be that this work will not be done by other voluntary organisations. I think that the work of such organisations as the Malcolm Clubs, Toc H and others has been an invaluable work for the Services, which ought to be done by these bodies without bringing something of other business interests into it. I think that they bring a welfare service and a Christian service into their work, and I would earnestly ask my right hon. Friend to consider the pleas which have been made to him.

4.43 p.m.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

I want to support the attempt which the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Farey Jones) is making to retain the services of the Malcolm Clubs. In his company, and in the company of other hon. Gentlemen on the Government side along with hon. Friends of my own, I had the opportunity of seeing at first hand the work which is being done by these clubs.

I want to say that I was tremendously impressed, first of all, by the tremendous respect which was shown by the R.A.F. boys to the superintendents, and, secondly, that when one entered the club, one felt that one was going into a place that was like a home. The other impression which I had immediately was that of the tidiness and the general atmosphere of the whole place. These things impressed me very much indeed, because I found amongst the boys there, when I went talking to them, that there was no discontent whatever. They seemed to be very happy, and I could not help contrasting them with the N.A.A.F.I.—and in what I am now going to say, I do not want to make any unfair comparisons.

I had been to N.A.A.F.I. in the course of my visit. Now I mean to say nothing unfair to N.A.A.F.I. and to the atmosphere there, but I must say that the conditions seemed not to be so good as those that existed in the Malcolm Clubs. This may have been accidental, but I found among the boys in the Malcolm Clubs no dissatisfaction, as if their social and complementary needs were being adequately fulfilled, as they were, in the Malcolm Clubs.

The Secetary of State cannot take all these things and turn them into £ s. d. They are quite immeasurable, in the financial sense, and no amount of money can provide them. They are being given voluntarily by people who want to do them for the sake of doing them. I hope that the Secretary of State for War—

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

For Air.

Mr. Rankin

I am sorry, Secretary of State for Air; but he is still concerned with war. [An HON. MEMBER: "Preventing war."] Very well, he has the defensive aspect to look after, so I hope that he will use all his defensive powers today on behalf of the Malcolm Clubs.

4.47 p.m.

Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)

I will detain the House for not more than a few moments, because, obviously, the Secretary of State for Air is anxious to rise and please the House by giving us what we all seek today—the information that he has had a change of heart.

I had the privilege, with a number of other hon. Members and Members of another place, of attending one of these clubs in the late summer. The news had got around of the possibility of closing the Malcolm Clubs. One after another, the personnel there said, "Surely the Minister will never allow this. He is a good Minister. He will never"—I use the language which was used to me—"allow the eggheads to advise him wrongly. Let him stand on his own feet. He is a man we respect, a man we know. Please convey to him that he should use all the influence he has to let these clubs, which are homes to us, to remain open."

4.48 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

I am grateful for this opportunity of explaining to the House why I and my colleagues of the Air Council decided that the Malcolm Clubs should close. This was not an easy or pleasant decision to take. I am sure that hon. Members, knowing me, will appreciate that.

It has been suggested that the Air Council acted under pressure from N.A.A.F.I. I hope that the House would accept from me an unqualified assurance that this was not so. I shall show that facts spoke for themselves; and we dealt only with facts.

None of us likes to see the airman lack any part of his welfare facilities, however small, but it is fair as well as important that we should bear in mind that the 14 Malcolm Clubs serve a relatively small section of the Royal Air Force, perhaps 10 per cent., and that the airman is very well looked after in other ways. N.A.A.F.I., which is the Services' own organisation, has 1,000 clubs, of which more than 250 are in the Royal Air Force, and it does an excellent job. It was less than fair of my hon. Friend to speak of a "dirty, waiting-room atmosphere", less than fair.

Then there is the Council for Voluntary Welfare Work, with more than 200 clubs of which more than 50 are solely for the Royal Air Force. In addition, there are wives' clubs, families' clubs, sports clubs, hobbies clubs, and so on. This was the background against which we had to consider the considerable financial difficulties involved.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Ward

No, I am sorry that I have not time to do so.

So far, the House has heard one side of the case. I hope that my hon. Friend will allow me to give my side. Malcolm Clubs have been continuously in debt to the Air Ministry for some years. That in itself is not a happy state of affairs. because it amounts to the provision of working capital from public funds. At the beginning of 1957, the debt showed a considerable increase. Malcolm Clubs undertook to pay the Air Ministry £5,000 a month for services provided in Germany.

Payments made to us at that rate were erratic, and finally came to a halt. We received various assurances, including a statement by the general manager of Malcolm Clubs, that he had no hesitation in confirming that he confidently expected to clear all the Air Ministry debts within the current financial year, by 31st March, 1958.

That was in August, 1957, when the debt stood at about £ 35,000. By 31st March, so far from being cleared off, it had increased to £40,000. In July, as has been said by the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), we arranged for a firm of chartered accountants to examine the financial position of Malcolm Clubs. It is estimated that the trading results for 1958, after depreciation, of £11,500 were likely to show a loss of about £7,000 provided subsidy continued at the rate of £30,000 a year. It concluded also that in the absence of receipts on capital account the debt due to the Air Ministry was unlikely to be repaid for a considerable time, if at all, even assuming the continuance of the subsidy.

The Air Council considered this position most carefully, taking into account the undoubted welfare value of Malcolm Clubs, which has been stressed by so many hon. Members today. On the other side of the picture, we also considered very carefully their financial history, the fact that they have no working capital, and future trading conditions for an organisation of this kind in the nature of things must involve an element of uncertainty. It concluded, as I said last week, that the situation really could not be allowed to continue.

It is true that in recent months the debt has been slightly reduced, but we cannot take into account marginal variations which leave the problem fundamentally unchanged. On the other hand, if, in the near future, Malcolm Clubs pay their debt to the Air Ministry and show that they have acquired adequate working capital, I will gladly consider the situation afresh. However, unless and until this happens, the decision must stand. We have already suspended action twice because we understood that Malcolm Clubs were seeking further financial help. The House will appreciate that we cannot go on indefinitely.

It has been said that Malcolm Clubs have counter-claims to offset against the debt, and, in particular, the question of subsidy for the last few months of 1956 has been raised, but the background of that is familiar to all of us. While the British Government were receiving occupation costs from the West German Government we were able to bill Malcolm Clubs for labour, and so on, at a rate of 40 deutschmarks to the £.

When the operation ended we received only a limited amount of support for the clubs and had to bill them at the rate of about 12 deutschmarks to the £. This is an over-simplification. The occupa- tion of Germany ended in May, 1955, but we continued to provide 40 deutschmarks to the £ until September, 1956. To the extent that we had to buy at 40 deutschmarks to the £, those Malcolm Clubs and other organisations were, in effect, being subsidised even then.

On 1st September, 1956, the concessionary rate was withdrawn. It was agreed that, to enable the Council for Voluntary Welfare Work and Malcolm Clubs to continue operating in Germany, they should be paid a subsidy to cover unavoidable losses. We paid no subsidy to Malcolm Clubs for the calendar year 1956, which is also their financial year. We paid £30,000 in 1957 and we are assuming a figure of £30,000 for the current year.

Malcolm Clubs consider that they ought to have been paid a subsidy in respect of their losses in the last four months of 1956, notwithstanding the fact that they made a surplus in the first eight months. That, I am afraid, I cannot accept. It seems to me that when a subsidy is intended to make good unavoidable losses, it cannot be claimed that it should be paid in order to maintain a surplus.

Indeed, in December, 1956, Malcolm Clubs themselves agreed with us that they could not make a case for subsidy for that year. Latterly, they have felt that they were dealt with less generously than the Council for Voluntary Welfare Work, whose subsidy was not reduced to take into account profits made earlier in the year. I very much doubt whether there is anything in this. First, the Council for Voluntary Welfare Work probably made no profit at all before 1st September anyway, because the scope of their trading is a good deal more limited than that of Malcolm Clubs. Secondly, the subsidy covered only about 80 per cent. of the losses after that date. However that may be, I come back to the fundamental unsoundness, in my opinion, of paying Malcolm Clubs a subsidy in order that they can maintain a surplus.

The hon. Member for Islington, East said that their indebtedness to the Air Ministry was only about £11,000. Yesterday, I received a detailed claim from Malcolm Clubs against the Air Ministry for some £28,000, and £22,000 of that sum is in respect of a subsidy for the last four months of 1956 and other items which Malcolm Clubs have already been told, which I have told the House and which I now repeat, cannot be met. A good deal of the remaining claim appears to be based on misunderstandings by Malcolm Clubs. There are a number of small items accounting for perhaps £1,500-£1,600, of which we have not previously been informed and which we shall certainly investigate. The counter-claim is, therefore, quite irrelevant to the decision to close Malcolm Clubs.

Mr. E. Fletcher

Is not the right hon. Gentleman admitting that if the subsidy had commenced as soon as the concessionary rate ceased, a further £18,000 would have been paid to Malcolm Clubs? Would not the true figure of indebtedness have been reduced by that amount? Does he not also recognise that if the Clubs are closed that indebtedness cannot be repaid to the Ministry in any event, whereas if they are allowed to continue it may well be repaid?

Mr. Ward

I have already explained at some length why I do not agree that this subsidy should be paid for 1956. Indeed, I pointed out that that was the view of Malcolm Clubs themselves at that time and that it is only recently that they have changed their minds.

The hon. Member for Islington, East assumes that if Malcolm Clubs continued they would be bound to improve their position. I have tried to explain carefully to the House that Malcolm Clubs are a trading organisation and subject to the normal trading risks of any trading organisation. He must, therefore, admit that if there is a possibility of making a profit there is also a possibility of making a loss, and that is a matter which we as responsible people cannot overlook.

It being Five o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, till Tuesday, 20th January, pursuant to the Resolutions of the House yesterday.