§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Profumo)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I ask hon. Members if I may take their attention from a home island to some islands far-flung from this country. This Measure does not foreshadow momentous or far-reaching constitutional developments, and I do not think it involves matters of principle which are likely to divide us this afternoon. It affects only a few thousand people inhabiting less than 300 square miles of territory.
None the less, I make no apology for asking the House to give time to it because it represents an important stage in the history of the people whom it will affect—people who are our responsibility just as much as those living in any colonial territory.
The Cayman Islands consist of three small islands lying almost 200 miles to the north-west of Jamaica. They were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503, during his fourth and last voyage when he was searching for a route to India. There are about 9,000 people living there now and they are a prosperous community.
Their prosperity derives from their position on some important air routes in the Caribbean, from the money sent home by their highly competent seamen, and from the developing tourist industry. They also fish for the turtle, which is their symbol, and hon. Members who like turtle soup probably owe their pleasure in part to the skill of Caymanian fisher men.
The Turks and Caicos Islands lie about 450 miles north-east of Jamaica. They were discovered in 1512 by Juan Ponce de Leon. The 6,000 people who live there today are, by comparison, at present somewhat isolated and poor. The main shipping lane passes between them, but big ships do not call. Their main industry, the solar evaporation of salt, just about makes ends meet, with assistance from colonial development and welfare 908 funds and they receive a small grant-in-aid of administration from Her Majesty's Government.
Why is this Bill necessary at this particular juncture? The matter is complicated by the fact that the position of the two Dependencies is not, in law, exactly similar. The Cayman Islands are administered by a Commissioner, selected by the Secretary of State and appointed by the Governor of Jamaica. The Legislature consists of the Comissioner, who is President, a number of justices of the peace appointed by the Governor, and 27 elected vestrymen.
Under the Cayman Islands Act, 1863, the Governor of Jamaica has, as far as may be, the same powers and authorities in respect of the Cayman Islands as if they had been part of the Island of Jamaica. The Legislature of Jamaica may make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Cayman Islands.
As for the Turks and Caicos Islands, their Legislature consists of the Commissioner, who is ex-officio President, and 11 others—three holding office under the Crown—appointed by the Governor of Jamaica. By an Order in Council of 1873, the Turks and Caicos Islands were annexed to, and form part of the Colony of Jamaica.
The Governor and Legislature of Jamaica have respectively the same jurisdiction, powers and authority over the Turks and Caicos Islands as they have over the Island of Jamaica. But neither the Cayman Islands Act, 1863, nor the Turks and Caicos Islands Order in Council of 1873, empowers Her Majesty in Council to constitute a Government and Legislature, other than the Government and Legislature of Jamaica, for each of the groups of islands. It is this power that the present Bill seeks to confer.
The constitutional developments which are contemplated in the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands are a consequence of the constitutional advance now taking place in the British West Indies which has, I know, the support and good wishes of us all in the House.
Jamaica, last November, advanced practically to the stage of complete internal self-government within the Federation of the West Indies. That Federation was inaugurated at the beginning of this month. These islands are 909 part of the Federation although their relationship to the Federal Government is the subject of special arrangements.
Now that these advances have been made in Jamaica and the Federation, the time has come to adjust and clarify the relationships of Jamaica and these islands and to make it possible for the people of the islands to have the increased degree of local autonomy which they desire and which Her Majesty's Government have agreed they should have.
The Bill is necessary to enable Her Majesty in Council to constitute a separate Government and Legislature for each Dependency. At the same time, account must be taken of the fact that their pace of constitutional advance cannot but be slower that that of Jamaica, and of the desirability—this is, I think, important—of their retaining administrative links with Jamaica, whose help is of very great value indeed to them.
I do not think that I need take up the time of the House by going into the Bill Clause by Clause today. It is an enabling Bill and it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government that the constitutions which will be introduced as a result will take account of the wishes of the inhabitants, and will, in general, be in line with the arrangements, some of them informal, which already exist.
Because local consultations are still in progress I cannot, I am afraid, give the House detailed information about the proposed constitutions; but I can give some idea of their general pattern. The idea is that, in each group of islands, there will be legislative bodies consisting of some ex officio members, some nominated members, and a number of members elected by universal adult suffrage. In addition—and this will be a significant step—there will be Executive Councils consisting of officials and elected members of the Legislature, whom the Commissioner will normally be required to consult. This, as hon. Members will know, is, in fact, the general pattern that has proved successful elsewhere.
It may, perhaps, sound as though these are rather formal and ponderous bodies for places with such tiny populations, but, obviously, there must be machinery of this kind to make local participation in government possible. As I have said, very similar arrangements already exist, and work well.
910 I hope that I have explained why the Bill is necessary and what it is intended to achieve. I would add only this. If the Bill is given its Second Reading this afternoon the people of these islands will welcome it both as an indication of our interest in their welfare and as an endorsement of their wish for an increased say in the management of their affairs.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
I can set the Government's mind at rest; their future is not at risk today, and they may look forward with confidence to getting a Second Reading for the Bill.
The Under-Secretary very properly reminded us of the long attachment of these islands to the British Crown. This is true. The Cayman Islands were first discovered by Christopher Columbus hundreds of years ago, and Sir Richard Grenville, whose name is well-known to everyone who ever learnt poetry at school, was the first to sight the Turks and Caicos Islands, as far as I am able to ascertain. Although the islands have had a very chequered relationship with the British Crown during the last two or three hundred years, the fact is that they have been of very great value to this country, especially to the ships of the Royal Navy.
§ Mr. Callaghan
We will come to the pirates later. The scurvy-ridden ships of the Royal Navy used to visit the Turks and Caicos Islands, 250 years ago, to find there the turtle—which is still fished for although the product is now less than it used to be, I understand because, the turtle was, of course, a very good remedy in avoiding scurvy. When I went to the Admiralty, in 1950, as Parliamentary Secretary, I was told that one of my perquisites as a member of the Board of Admiralty was some turtle soup. I imagine that the origin of it was that returning captains, knowing turtle soup to be a great delicacy, brought back a quantity for the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in the hope of getting a further appointment. I am sorry to say that I never managed to collect even a tin of it.
911 The relationship of the islands to the Royal Navy has been a very close one over the years. Indeed, men from both sets of islands, particularly from the Cayman Islands, still make their occupation service at sea, although I regret to say that that service is now more under the American flag than under the British. However, if the tankers pay very much better than service as an able-seaman pays, who can blame them? The revenues they send home are, moreover, a very important item in balancing the balance of payments of the islands, for even these small places, with populations of 6,000 and 7,000, have balance of payments problems.
This brings me to my first question to the Under-Secretary. The Turks and Caicos Islands have had a distressing time during the last few years, and, unless the situation has improved recently, matters are much the same. They depend mainly on the salt industry and, from the last account I read in the last Annual Report of the Administrator of the islands, the men there are working only three days a week. There was, indeed, a considerable amount—I use his words—of distress in the islands.
From what I can make out, the deficit between revenue and expenditure was made up only by a very substantial grant-in-aid from this country, very substantial in relation to the total budget, but, in fact, £40,000 out of the £94,000 forming the total revenue. Clearly, such a sum is small by comparison with, shall I say, £50 million, but £40,000 in this context matters a very great deal. Is provision being made to continue this grant-in-aid to the administration, without which the islands will clearly be in very great difficulties?
As regards the salt industry, the administrator—is it the Administrator or the Commissioner?—
§ Mr. Callaghan
The Commissioner of the islands has obviously been very energetic in trying to find a market for salt from these islands through sales in North America. In his report, it is said that it was clear that a market for upwards of 50,000 tons of salt per annum could be found in North America. I see from the last statistics that they were shipping 912 about 16,000 tons altogether, of which only 6,000 were going to North America. There is a long way to go yet.
Could the Under-Secretary say whether this rate of increase is proceeding, and whether the facilities which exist in the islands are being improved so that they may get near their loading maximum? I understand that it is because of the inadequate loading facilities there that the islanders cannot get more salt away. If the islands are to stand on their own feet, small as they are, it is necessary to make proper arrangements so that they may get their exports away.
Finally, what is the employment position generally in the Turks and Caicos Islands? Is there a prospect that the islanders may look forward to a reasonable measure of employment?
The Bill itself seems to us to be quite unexceptionable. It arises out of the new arrangements which are to be made. Although this debate today will be neither long nor controversial, it is useful that tiny islands like these, which are part of the Commonwealth, although they contain only 6,000 men, women and children in one and 7,000 in the other, should nevertheless come under the scrutiny of the House of Commons from time to time. I should like to see more visits paid by Members of the House to these territories.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) actually visited the Cayman Islands and the Turks Islands when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies and there was a delegation from this House consisting of my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir). My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) has also been there, so that over the last nine or ten years we have kept up a strand of interest with these overseas territories which should be maintained.
There is still a direct responsibility for these territories through the House of Commons. Their well-being is our concern and their future is our responsibility. I join with the Under-Secretary in wishing them well in the future and in hoping that the new administrative arrangements which are to be made will be to their benefit and that their economic future will be well founded and secure.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I endorse all that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) has said and I am grateful to the Under-Secretary for at least making some of the things in the Bill clearer to me than they were. We have had the whole of the Christmas Recess to study the Bill and that is plenty of time, but it is not an easy Bill. There are certain obscurities and apparent omissions which I had not fully understood until I heard my hon. Friend's speech.
As I understand, we are legislating today for a sort of triple responsibility for these islands. I gather that constitutionally their future will remain with the Colonial Office. Administratively, they will continue to be assisted by Jamaica and, financially, they will be helped by the new Federal Government at Trinidad.
That is a somewhat confusing picture. It may be a sensible approach from the practical point of view. Although these things may be difficult for us to follow here, they are of very great importance to these islands, for which we are responsible, and it is our duty to try to understand what we are doing when we legislate in matters of importance to them, as we are doing today. I am not criticising the Bill; I am simply trying to clarify in my own mind its effects and repercussions.
We all appreciate that Jamaica will shortly reach the stage of complete internal self-government and we all welcome that. As I see it, when that happens, these Dependencies want to leave their constitutional future not in the hands of Jamaica but in the hands of the Colonial Office. I gather that Jamaica recognises and accepts that point of view.
It is obvious that, administratively, the islands cannot stand on their own feet yet, because they need the staff and services which Jamaica has provided and which, we hope, Jamaica will continue to provide. Financially, they will receive their grants-in-aid, which they formerly received from the United Kingdom Government, from the new Federal Government. So we have this thrice-divided responsibility with local autonomy as far as possible, but with administrative help from Jamaica, financial help from the Federation and constitutional developments in the hands of the Colonial Office.
914 I think that we need not worry about the administrative side, because Jamaican assistance has been generously given in the past and, presumably, will continue as before. We need not worry too much about the constitutional side, because both sides of the House of Commons are agreed that these islands should have an appropriate degree of self-government as quickly as possible. However, I am a little concerned about the financial side, particularly about the Turks and Caicos, which have been in some financial difficulty and which do not want to get less money.
In the past they had grants-in-aid from us and now they will have them from the Federation. Can we be told a little more about that? We are to pay the Federation a total block grant out of which the Federation will make individual allocations. However, the islands are not to be represented in the Federal Legislature, so they will have nothing to say about this matter. On what basis will they receive financial assistance? Will the Federation make available out of the block grant the same amount which we gave? Will it be a percentage of the total grant, or a fixed amount per annum? I am not clear about how this will work out and it would be helpful to know more about it.
More important still for the well-being of the people in the islands is the future of the tourist industry in the Caymans and of the salt industry in the Turks and Caicos. These islands are so seldom discussed here that I beg leave to trespass on the time of hon. Members, because, although we do take an interest in the affairs of these islands, we seldom have a chance to express our interest publicly.
I want to know how they are developing socially and economically as well as politically. For instance, I do not know what progress is being made in the elimination of mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands. That may seem a small matter, but it is extremely important, because it is perhaps the biggest single factor militating against the expansion of the tourist industry in the summer months. I do not know what progress is being made in the provision of new roads, another important factor. In the Turks, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East said, there is the problem of inadequate loading 915 and transport facilities for the salt industry which is basic to the economy of the islands and which has been in great need of assistance for a considerable time.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), who, with the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), visited the islands, has asked me to express her regret at not being able to be present. Her absence has been caused by an aeroplane delay. She wanted to take part in the debate, because she is one of the few Members who has visited the islands. She asked me to draw attention to their strategic importance, because the islands cover the approaches to the Windward and Mona Passages and accommodate two important American bases.
My hon. Friend would also have drawn attention, I think, to the growing fishing industry in the Turks and Caicos and the exploration work for oil. The Times pointed out last month that there has been a serious financial depression in the Turks and Caicos in recent years which has been only partly relieved by our grants in aid.
These practical economic aspects of the life of the islands are more important to the islands in many respects than the political issues discussed in the Bill. I feel that hon. Members would welcome a little more explanation about those economic aspects and I hope that we can have some enlightenment about them from my hon. Friend.
We all wish these islands well and, we all wish the whole West Indies well. Despite its obscurities, I believe that the Bill is welcomed in the islands, and I think that the Colonial Office and Jamaica are doing everything possible to ensure an appropriate degree of internal self-government, while, at the same time, maintaining the very valuable administrative connection with Jamaica. I therefore welcome the Bill and support the Second Reading.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
There are one or two small points about this Bill, which is very significant for these islands, which are not quite clear. The first concerns the position of the Governor. At the moment, the Governor of Jamaica is responsible for 916 the administration of the islands. Is it proposed that in future the islands will come under the direct administration of the Governor in Jamaica?
I ask that because I was fortunate enough to be staying with Sir Hugh Foot when he made his last visit to the islands prior to his departure for Cyprus and I can say how much his influence was valued and esteemed in the islands and what a terrific job he did for them. I should not like to think that that link was being broken or minimised in any way. I hope that we can be given an assurance that in future the same kind of relationship which existed between the Governor of Jamaica and the Administrator of the islands will be maintained.
I would like to know more about who is to speak for the islands in the new Federal Legislature. At present, the islands have no direct representation of their own and I should have thought that the Jamaican representatives will have enough to do making their own case. It may be that the well-being of these islands, somewhat more remote from us in future than now, may go by the board unless there is a specific organisation to represent their affairs.
The other point I want to make relates to the internal constitutional arrangements about which, for obvious reasons, the Under-Secretary could not make much comment today, but I hope that they will be on a basis of universal adult suffrage. I take it that that will be so. If not, I should like some assurance that we shall make as much progress internally in the islands as has taken place in the rest of the West Indies.
Finally, could we have some information about what schemes are taking place in the islands under C.D. & W.? Are they likely to be increased in the future, or will they get less under the new set-up?
May I, in conclusion, say how much I appreciate the assistance given to my hon. Friend—I must call him my hon. Friend, although he sits on the opposite side of the House—the Member for Dover (Mr. Arbuthnot) and to myself whilst we were in the Caribbean quite recently.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. William Blyton (Houghton-le-Spring)
I regard this Bill as necessary in the new Federation that is to be 917 brought into being this March. The people in the Cayman Islands have for a long time been urging some alteration in their Constitution, and I believe that while the Bill does not give them the full powers that exist in some of the islands it is, at least, a first step to that goal.
Reference has been made to the subject of distress. Whilst we are giving these powers to the Caymans and the other islands, it is imperative to recognise that we shall still have to give them some grant-in-aid if they are to maintain their economy under this Bill. In fact, I believe—and I hope I am not out of order in saying this—that the amount allowed after the Federation Conference in London, and which is embodied in the Bill, is not as much as that which will be given to the Leewards, the Windwards and the Turks, and will impose a large burden on Trinidad and Jamaica in the new Federation set-up.
Therefore, while I believe that federation can solve many of the problems in the Caribbean, we ought to recognise that we shall have to do much more in the transitional stages in granting aid, particularly in the Leewards and the Windwards. Also, we shall have to give all the assistance we can to the Federation to help to attract capital into that area in order to absorb the 20 per cent. unemployment which exists in many of the islands. I hope that all these islands, with their new advancement, will be helped not only by us but by the Federation in establishing another step towards self-government.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I welcome this Bill and I wish to make only a few comments upon it. The first relates to the type of legislatures which the Under-Secretary of State suggested would be set up. I think he said that they might be regarded as ponderous and elaborate. I think that those two adjectives describe the kind of legislatures which he anticipated.
In each of these groups of islands there is a population of between 6,000 and 7,000 people. Is it really necessary, in such groups with such small populations, to have the machinery of legislature which he proposed, involving a commissioner or an administrator, ex-officio members, nominated members and elected members? These islands are to come under 918 the Caribbean Federation. So far as the larger powers are concerned, they will he dealt with in the Federal Parliament. Surely, for the small populations which are involved, it would be sufficient to have legislatures elected by adult suffrage, as he proposed the elected members should be appointed, under the commissioner or the administrator, without the addition of ex-officio members and nominated members to make the machinery so elaborate.
My second suggestion about the administration of these islands is this. Reference has been made on both sides of the House to the social and economic conditions of these peoples. As I see it, they are in danger of becoming the Cinderella islands of the West Indies. They will not have direct representation in the Federal Parliament. The economic aid which will be given to them from this country will have to proceed through that Federal Parliament. The position of people in distress is often acute. A considerable number of the male workers in the Turks and Caicos Islands have to leave their families and seek work in the Bahamas. I think that all of us would want to be sure, before this Bill goes through, that not only shall the economic aid be maintained from this country, but that it shall be increased.
Whenever economic aid to the colonial countries is discussed, there is pressure from all quarters of the House for increased aid, and I support the plea that has been made on both sides of the House that, in view of the changes which are made in the Bill and the circuitous way in which aid will be given by this country, there should be a definite assurance that the people of these islands do not suffer.
My next point relates to the powers in the Bill for application in periods of emergency. I believe that those of us who believe in democracy should be very careful about the extension of powers under which democratic rights can be suppressed. I refer to the rights of freedom of speech, of association, of movement, of the Press, and of meeting. All of us very much hope that in the case of these islands the necessity will not arise for declarations of states of emergency and emergency laws, but I suggest that before the House adopts this Bill the purpose of these Clauses should be made clearer.
919 In Clause 3, we see that…Her Majesty may by Order in Council confer power on any authority to make, in relation to periods of emergency, such laws for any of the said Islands…I think that we should have from the Government Front Bench an indication of the authorities on which it is intended that power should be conferred. I hope that the House will be very careful indeed not to pass Clauses in forms of words which will enable states of emergency and the repudiation of domestic rights to be carried out in such a way that, whilst our control remains, we have not the power to express our views.
I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to the recent legislation which has been introduced in the Ghana Parliament about emergency laws where, if emergency laws are applied by the Government, they must be brought before the Parliament within a very limited period and the emergency laws and any Acts under them must be endorsed by that Parliament. That seems to me a democratic advance, and when we give powers under this Bill for the use of emergency powers we should be very careful indeed to see that, so long as these territories remain under the Colonial Office, it will be the right of this Parliament to challenge those emergency laws and to inquire about their necessity.
Those are the three points I wanted to raise on the Bill. I welcome the Bill, as other hon. Members have done, and I congratulate the Under-Secretary of State on his introduction of it.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Profumo
I do not want to delay the House more than is necessary, because my right hon. Friend will be taking the bowling in a moment on another matter, but with your leave, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, it would be for everyone's convenience if I say a word or two about the most constructive points put forward by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
I think that the economic position of the islands is the point which has attracted the attention of most hon. Members. The position in the Turks and Caicos Islands, as hon. Members have said, is not as fortunate as that of the Cayman Islands. Subject to the approval of the Estimates, 920 they will receive their grant-in-aid of administration from Her Majesty's Government this year as they have since 1956, and it is contemplated that next year, if they need it, they will receive a grant-in-aid from the Government of the Federation, which in its turn will receive a block grant from Her Majesty's Government.
This point was taken up by the hon. Members for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). I will digress for a moment, if I may. I cannot give the House an absolute undertaking that the grant-in-aid will be precisely the same as at present. I hope that hon. Members will appreciate that it will be for the Government of The West Indies to decide how to divide the block grant which will be made from the Government. The block grant, when it is allocated for five years, will be based on the projected requirements of the various territories in the Federation. I think that one must presume that the Government of The West Indies will have concern to see that the application of that block grant will be made in ratio to the reasons for which the Government have made that block grant.
As for what we could do about it if anything went wrong, I say that it will last for five years and at the end of that time it will be for the Government to say, "You did not appropriate these funds in the way that we felt you ought to have done and we must make a change in the allocation". The system by which this will work will mean that the Dependencies, such as those under question this afternoon, will receive their fair share of the block allocation.
My hon. Friend said that he was a little concerned about this, especially about the fact that these territories would not be directly represented in the administration of the Federation. That is perfectly true, but they will, of course, be represented by the members from the Colony of Jamaica. There was no general desire either in the Cayman Islands or the Turks and Caicos Islands that they should have, at this stage, direct representatives in the Federal Assembly. I will go a little further, because the hon. Member for Eton and Slough talked about the application of laws. I think he said that it was a rather top heavy arrangement that we were making for these small Dependencies and that, in 921 general, the larger laws would be applied by the Federal Assembly.
With great respect, that is not correct, because I mentioned in my opening remarks the special relationship which these Dependencies would have to the Federation. What will happen is that no law made by the Federal Assembly will be applicable to these Dependencies unless specifically stated. Their relationship through Jamaica is about the right balance. We feel that it is in accordance with what the representatives in these territories require and wish at this stage. They have their representation through the members in Jamaica and, of course, the very strong ties with the Governor of Jamaica. Everything exists which is necessary to make us feel happy that the allocation of the grant aid, which will continue as far as we are concerned in the block grant to the Federation, will be properly applied to these Dependencies.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am told that the Prime Minister of Jamaica is taking a very special interest in these islands. That is the best safeguard they can have in view of the small population. But suppose that something went radically wrong. It is not much consolation for them to know that at the end of five years we would be able to cut off a certain amount of the Federal block grant. Would we have power in the interim period to make a grant-in-aid?
§ Mr. Profumo
Not in so far as grant aid is concerned. Of course, colonial development and welfare will still continue to be allocated straight from the Mother Country. There are those two forms of assistance.
Regarding grant aid, I want to be absolutely frank. There would be no way in which, within the first five years, these finances could be allocated differently.
§ Mr. Blyton
Surely the position will be reviewed at the end of five years if the Federal Parliament finds it impossible to carry the burden of taxation for the people in the Leeward, Windward, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
§ Mr. Profumo
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has missed the point. When we give the block grant to the Federal Government it will take into consideration the existing requirements of grant aid of all the territories within the Federation. Based on that amount of money which is 922 allocated, it will be possible for the Government to make a reallocation regarding the various territories concerned.
§ Mr. Blyton
I am not talking about that at the moment. I am arguing about the end of the five-year period when the aid is cut off entirely. It may mean intolerable taxation or a review of the position.
§ Mr. Profumo
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. What I was saying was that the block grant will be reviewed at the end of five years. It would be at that stage, when we make another block allocation to the Government, that we could say "You did not do all that which we thought you were going to do, and we must take all that into consideration". I think that hon. Members can rest assured that this proposal will work in the way that we all intended. It is very valuable that we should have had this debate, because I have no doubt that what we have said this afternoon will be read in wider circles.
As the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) mentioned, the Turks and Caicos Islands depend very greatly on the production of salt by solar evaporation and its export, and things have not gone smoothly with this industry. Two experts from the Salt Division of Imperial Chemical Industries have visited the islands and have advised on both production methods and marketing. We expect very shortly to provide a substantial grant from colonial development and welfare funds to enable the industry to be re-equipped and reorganised on the lines recommended.
The plan is to get new equipment to the islands by May, and we very much hope that these measures will set the industry on its feet and enable it to pay its way. I am very glad to have this opportunity to say how grateful the Government are for what has been done by Imperial Chemical Industries.
§ Mr. Profumo
And the C.D.C., of course, bat we were grateful for their advice.
The hon. Member was quite right, for the Commissioner has been very active in North America, and facilities will be made available, and I hope very much that the re-equipment, aided by colonial development and welfare funds, will 923 enable adequate shipments to be made and the loading rate to be improved. This ought to have a very favourable effect on the employment situation in the islands.
My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton asked me how the eradication of mosquitoes is progressing in the territory. I can only say, in general, that we have had, of late, extremely good results. I grant him that this is a most important matter, and it is one we are keeping under constant consideration.
As to the road programme, there is a £150,000 programme at present in progress.
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mir. Chetwynd) asked about the relationship with the Governor. I should like to join with him in the tribute I am very glad he paid to Sir Hugh Foot for all that Sir Hugh Foot has done there and for the interest he took in the islands when he was the Governor of Jamaica. Indeed, I know that Sir Hugh Foot would welcome our good wishes for the new task he has recently taken on. I am glad to say that the relationship will remain the same as it always has. The Governor will continue to be the Governor of these territories to all intents and purposes, will continue to keep a fatherly eye and to give advice, and so on. He will continue to be able to have a considerable influence on those Dependencies, whose advance, as I have said, will, naturally, be slower than that of Jamaica itself.
I said in my first speech on the Bill that there will be universal suffrage in the elections when the new conditions come into being if the Bill passes.
I want to make clear a matter which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough touched upon, relating to emergency laws. It arises upon Clause 3. I agree that the Clause says that various authorities can be empowered to make regulations for an emergency. There are three major authorities. There is the Federal Authority; there is the authority of the Colony of Jamaica; and there is the local authority, if I may so call it, of the Dependency concerned.
If we pass a Bill of this sort we have to see that all three authorities can have 924 the legal right to make emergency regulations. All sorts of different emergencies may arise. If there is a local emergency only it would be the local assembly which would make the emergency regulations. If there were a larger emergency affecting, perhaps, all that part of the Caribbean, then it would be right for the Jamaican emergency regulations to override local emergency regulations. Right off the cuff, I can think of one example. In time of war or of a major international emergency it would be quite right that the Caribbean Federation should be able to override any other local emergency regulations made.
That is the only reason for this provision. I think it is right to make such a provision in a Bill of this sort. There is nothing sinister in this, I can assure the hon. Member. I think the arrangements we have made, though he may say they are top heavy, are in line with what the people there require and have asked the Government to institute. I think I can say, in reassuring the hon. Member, that these are on the lines, he would agree, the local people required.
§ Mr. Brockway
All that I asked was, if the emergency laws are applied, whatever the authority, the responsible, democratically elected representatives shall have an opportunity to endorse those emergency laws.
§ Mr. Profumo
Yes, that is a matter of detail which I think we shall have to deal with perhaps when we reach a further stage of the Bill. I wanted to make the matter clear in general so that the hon. Member would not think something was being done which would, perhaps, not be in line with the desires and requirements of the local people.
I am sorry to have detained the House, but I hoped that it would be for the convenience of the House to hear these further remarks. I should like to say how grateful we are that the Second Reading of this Bill has had so smooth a passage accorded it by both sides of the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Gibson-Watt.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.