HC Deb 29 January 1958 vol 581 cc387-404
Mr. Brockway

I beg to move, in page 2, line 33, at the end to insert: any such Order in Council shall be submitted for endorsement within ten days to the legislature to whom the authority making the emergency laws is normally responsible, as well as to the British Parliament within the same period until such time as the British Caribbean Federation becomes independent, and The provisions of Clause 3 relate to the manner in which an emergency may be declared. This practice is customary in all Colonial Territories, but I would emphasise the serious departures from liberty and democracy which often follow. The rights of speech, meeting and association are suspended, and the practice of deportation arises, all of which outrage the conceptions of liberty and democracy of which this country is proud.

The Amendment proposes that when emergencies have been declared the legislative bodies shall have an opportunity at the earliest possible moment to discuss them and the actions taken under them, and to reject them or endorse them. I am encouraged in putting this Amendment down because the new, independent Government of Ghana has given us an example of democratic safeguards by providing that within ten days of the declaration of an emergency, it, and the actions taken under it, shall be brought to the notice of the Ghana Parliament, which shall have the right to endorse or to reject them. That is an excellent democratic principle, and I suggest that it is desirable to embody it in the Bill and make a similar safeguard effective in these two groups of islands.

The Clause is a little vague because more than one authority may be involved. It may be the local administration, the Jamaican Government or the Caribbean Federation. Whatever be the appropriate authority, it should have the opportunity within ten days to review the emergency declaration.

At the back of those bodies, until the British Caribbean Federation becomes independent, the responsibility will still rest with this House. Therefore, we add to the proposal that, in addition to the consideration of emergency legislation by what I might call the local authority or the regional authority, emergencies should also be reported to this House within 10 days, actions under emergencies should be reported to this House, and this House should have the duty of endorsing them or, if it thinks fit, of rejecting them.

I urge on the Committee that this is a very important principle to maintain human rights, to maintain liberties and to maintain democracy. I hope that it may be possible for the Government to accept the Amendment.

Mr. Profumo

I think that the wording of the proposed Amendment would not in fact satisfy the desire of hon. Members who have put their names to it. The Order in Council is merely an enabling Order which confers on the prescribed authority the power authorised by Clause 3. It would be of no avail that that Order should he endorsed by Parliament and the legislatures concerned within 10 days. It would not be appropriate for such an Order to be endorsed by any legislature at all.

It is clear what hon. Members want here. It is that the actual emergency legislation made by the authority under the Order should be subject to endorsement by Parliament here and by local assemblies concerned. It would obviously not be a practicable proposition for Parliament here to take the actions suggested with relation to the legislation required for, and probably actually being made daring, an emergency in the Caribbean. Quite apart from the time and distance involved, Parliament might not be siting at the time. Similarly, endorsements by the local legislature within a specified time might be wholly impracticable.

For instance, if the emergency regulation was made as a result of a terrible hurricane in the Caribbean, surrounding the far-flung little islands of the Turks and Caicos, we could not possibly call members of the legislature together, whether they were elected or unofficial, if all the communications were interrupted, the sea in storm, and so on. There must be arrangements whereby the executive can bring into being these emergency regulations if they are required. Furthermore, this is a form of control which the local legislature does not possess in respect of emergency laws made under statutory Orders in Council in any Colonial Territory at all. Nowhere are the details of colonial emergency regulations subject to endorsement by Parliament here.

Hon. Members need not fear that they are giving unfettered powers to the executive. So long as Her Majesty's Government are responsible for these territories, Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom can ask Questions about them and, in appropriate circumstances, can seek a debate on emergency laws in those cases as in the case of other territories. Parliament can even go so far as repealing those laws by a special Act. Her Majesty's Government consider that there are sufficient safeguards against any abuse and it would be inappropriate that there should be any additional limitation in this connection. Therefore, I regret that I cannot accept the Amendment, but I hope that what I have said will satisfy the Committee that there is nothing to be frightened about in this Clause.

Mr. Callaghan

When I first saw the Clause I assumed that in these peaceful islands the intention of an emergency Order would be to deal with national forces of nature, such as hurricanes, rather than with a civil insurrection, but the latter could happen and, therefore, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) was correct in considering that aspect of the matter.

The only thing that worries me is that the Clause says: Her Majesty may…confer power on any authority to make,…laws for any of the Islands. What does "any authority" mean? I should have thought that that was going far wider than the usual provision in a Bill for delegation of responsibility from Her Majesty's Government. To give an extreme example, one of these islands has an American base on it. It is only a small base with, I understand, 100 men but does not the Clause give the Government power to confer on the American base powers to make laws in those circumstances because it is an authority in the island?

Even though the wording of the Amendment might not be strictly accurate—we do not pride ourselves on our draftsmanship—I think that my hon. Friend was right in asking the Under-Secretary for more information about what is intended, who the authorities concerned are, and what check there will be on them apart from the "inquest" which could be held here after an emergency. We could ask Questions, but by that time the emergency might be over and the damage done and, maybe, repaired.

Mr. Profumo

The word "any" in this context, as I think I pointed out on Second Reading, means either the local legislatures of the Colonial Territories concerned from the point of view of some small emergency which might arise—such as a tempest—and also means the authority in Jamaica in the case of something of a zonal nature. It also refers to the Federation Government in the case of a very wide emergency covering the whole Caribbean. That is why the words "any authority" have been used.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) is right in saying that, technically, this could be conceived to apply to an American authority, but this is a British Act of Parliament and I think we must assume that it would cover only British authorities. I can give the Committee an undertaking that that is what it is intended to mean, but even if the point made by the hon. Member were valid it would not be covered by the Amendment as it stands. I hope I have satisfied the Committee on the question of why the words "any authority" are used. What they are intended to cover, and certainly would only cover, is a British authority.

Mr. Callaghan

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who has given the explanation which I think we expected, but would it not be useful if we were to write into the Bill—either in this Clause or in a Schedule—the authorities to whom he has referred? He has mentioned the local legislature, the Federation Government and the Government of Jamaica. Those seem perfectly reasonable. I should have thought my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough would be able to withdraw his Amendment if there were some intimation from the Government that they would reconsider the matter with a view to writing in the actual authorities at the next stage of the Bill.

Mr. Profumo

I apologise for speaking so much in this Committee. I hope that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough will not press this Amendment. I should like him to withdraw it. I should have thought it would have been enough for the Committee to take the explanation I have given as to how the Clause should be read. I should not like to make any promise, at this stage, that we should come back to the House purely on the technical point raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. Of course, I will consider it again, but I cannot give an undertaking. I hope that when hon. Members read the OFFICIAL REPORT of these proceedings they will feel that I have given an explanation which would make it unnecessary to add further words to the Bill.

Mr. James Harrison (Nottingham, North)

Would the hon. Member accept the phrase "any existing authority"?

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Profumo

I could not accept that. I am glad that the hon. Member has raised that point. It may well be that other authorities will be created as a result of the general Order in Council to which this Act would have to apply. I think that, on reflection, the hon. Member will realise that. There is nothing sinister about these words. They have been carefully chosen and I do not feel that I could change them. The word "any" must cover present authorities or any future authorities which might be set up.

Mr. Brockway

I am not satisfied with the explanation of the terms of the Clause. I also regard it as a matter of important principle, and I am not willing to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Callaghan

I did not think that my hon. Friend's Amendment, which has been negatived, was appropriate to this subsection, but I will return to the argument now. I must ask the Under-Secretary of State to reconsider what he said about the words conferring "power on any authority". We ask him seriously to consider giving us an undertaking to insert a definition of what these authorities are. He mentioned three. I put it to him that it will not be much comfort in years to come to the legislators of the day to say to them, "You should read the report of the debate which we had in the House of Commons on 28th January, 1958, on this subject."

As it stands, the Clause gives the executive the right to confer power on "any authority," which, I repeat, may well be the United States Navy and could be the United States Marine Force, heaven help us, which, we all know, won the war in the Far East single-handed, except for the additional help of Mr. Errol Flynn. It is unreasonable to ask the House of Commons to give the executive power of such an unlimited nature as this. If the hon. Member cares to define the authorities to whom he wishes to concede this power—I can think only of three and he mentioned only three—we should be glad to accept the Clause. He has mentioned the local legislature, the Federal legislature and the Jamaican legislature. Those are elected or mainly elected bodies, all of whom are responsible bodies.

Speaking for myself, I should be happy to give him the power to concede to those three bodies this very extensive authority to make regulations which will govern the affairs and the life of all the inhabitants of these islands for any period of emergency. Martial law and almost anything else can come under the rules which they will make under this power.

This a House of Commons matter and not a party issue. It is reasonable for the House of Commons to insist against any Government that the authorities to whom powers are to be conceded, which could be of a dictatorial nature in certain circumstances, should be defined. That seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable request, and if the hon. Member wishes to move an Amendment to that effect either now or later I am sure that it would not take more than a few seconds to put the Amendment through. It could be done very quickly, it is a reasonable request to make, and I hope that the hon. Member will be able to meet it.

Mr. Profumo

I should like to be able to reconsider the matter, but I cannot. I am sorry. I take the point made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and I am anxious to make

progress with the Bill, but this is the customary way of phrasing this type of Clause and it follows custom which has been followed by successive Governments, including the hon. Member's party when they were in power, in many other Colonial Territories. If I gave an undertaking that we would try to specify each authority or even to write in the words "British authorities", it would open up a host of other legislation already on the Statute Book. It would be extraordinary if we singled out this little Bill and this small part of the Commonwealth for special consideration.

I have given an undertaking that it means "British authorities", but I could not possibly specify the authorities because, as I have already said, the Act might apply to some authorities which are as yet unthought of. I have given the Committee an undertaking that these are all the powers which are needed or have been provided in the past for Parliament and for the assemblies concerned. I will certainly look at the matter again, but I should not like the Committee to think that I am giving an undertaking. I hope that in view of what I have said the hon. Member will withdraw his objection.

Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 190, Noes 162.

Division No. 30.] AYES [4.40 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Corfield, Capt. F. V. Grant-Ferris. Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)
Aitken, W. T. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Green, A.
Alport, C. J. M. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Gresham Cooke, R.
Arbuthnot, John Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Armstrong, C. W. Cunningham, Knox Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Ashton, H. Currie, G. B. H. Gurden, Harold
Astor, Hon. J. J. Dance, J. C. G. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Baldwin, A. E. Davidson, Viscountess Harris, Reader (Heston)
Balniel, Lord Digby, Simon Wingfield Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)
Barber, Anthony Donaldson, cmdr. C. E. McA. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.
Beamish, Col. Tufton Doughty, C. J. A. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Drayson, G. B. Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) du Cann, E. D. L. Henderson, John (Cathoart)
Bidgood, J. C. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Duncan, Sir James Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Bingham, R. M. Elliott, R.W. (N'castle upon Tyne, N.) Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Bishop, F. P. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Bossom, Sir Alfred Farey-Jones, F. W. Hirst, Geoffrey
Brooman-White, R. C. Finlay, Graeme Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)
Bryan, P. Fisher, Nigel Holland-Martin, C. J.
Burden, F. F. A. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Hornby, R. P.
Butcher, Sir Herbert Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Carr, Robert Freeth, Denzil Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Gammans, Lady Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Cole, Norman Garner-Evans, E. H. Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger George, J. C. (Pollok) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)
Cooke, Robert Glover, D. Hyde, Montgomery
Cooper, A. E. Glyn, Col. Richard H. Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry
Cooper-Key, E. M. Goodhart, Philip Iremonger, T. L.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Gower, H. R. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Sharples, R. C.
Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Medlicott, Sir Frank Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Johnson, Eric (Blaokley) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Joseph, Sir Keith Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Spearman, Sir Alexander
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Nabarro, G. D. N. Stevens, Geoffrey
Kerr, Sir Hamilton Neave, Airey Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Kershaw, J. A. Nicholls, Harmar Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Kimball, M. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Kirk, P. M. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Storey, S.
Lambert, Hon. G. Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan Studholme, Sir Henry
Lambton, Viscount Nugent, G. R. H. Summers, Sir Spencer
Lancaster, Col. C. C. Oakshott, H. D. Teeling, W.
Leavey, J. A. O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Temple, John M.
Leburn, W. G. Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Page, R. G. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Partridge, E. Turner, H. F. L.
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Peel, W. J. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Peyton, J. W. W. Vane, W. M. F.
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Pike, Miss Mervyn Vickers, Miss Joan
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Macdonald, Sir Peter Pitt, Miss E. M. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
McKibbin, Alan Pott, H. P. Wakefield, Sir Waved (St. M'lebone)
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Powell, J. Enoch Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Price, David (Eastleigh) Webbe, Sir H.
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Whitelaw, W. S. I.
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Profumo, J. D. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Redmayne, M. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Maddan, Martin Remnant, Hon. P. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Ridsdale, J. E. Wood, Hon. R.
Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Woollam, John victor
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Markham, Major Sir Frank Roper, Sir Harold TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Marshall, Douglas Russell, R. S. Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Mathew, R. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Mr. Gibson-Watt
Ainsley, J. W. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mason, Roy
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mikardo, Ian
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Grey, C. F. Mitchison, G. R.
Awbery, S. S. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Monslow, W.
Balfour, A. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Moody, A. S.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Griffiths, William (Exchange) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Benson, G. Grimond, J. Mort, D. L.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hannan, W. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Blenkinsop, A. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Orbach, M.
Boardman, H. Hastings, S. Oswald, T.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Hayman, F. H. Owen, W. J.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Paget, R. T.
Bowles, F. G. Herbison, Miss M. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Boyd, T. C. Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Holman, P. Palmer, A. M. F.
Brockway, A. F. Holmes, Horace Panned, Charles (Leeds W.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Holt, A. P. Paton, John
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Pearson, A.
Burke, W. A. Howell Denis (All Saints) Peart. T. F.
Burton, Miss F. E. Hoy, J. H. Pentland, N.
Callaghan, L. J. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Carmichael, J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Popplewell, E.
Champion, A. J. Hunter, A. E. Prentice, R. E.
Chetwynd G. R. Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Clunie, J. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Probert, A. R.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Janner, B. Randall, H. E.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Rankin, John
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jeger, George (Goole) Redhead, E. C.
Crossman, R. H. S. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Reeves, J.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Reid, William
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Rhodes, H.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Royle, C.
Delargy, H. J. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Diamond, John King, Dr. H. M. Short, E. W.
Dodds, N. N. Lawson, G. M. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Dye, S. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Lipton, Marcus Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Logan, D. G. Skeffington, A. M.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Fernyhough, E. MaoColl. J. E. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Finch, H. J. McKay, John (Wallsend) Snow, J. W.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. McLeavy, Frank Sorensen, R. W.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Gibson, C. W. Mahon, Simon Sparks, J. A.
Steele, T. Wade, D. W. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Warbey, W. N. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Stones, W. (Consett) Watkins, T. E. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Weitzman, D. Willis, Eustace, (Edinburgh, E.)
Swingler, S. T. Wells, Percy (Faversham) Winterbottom, Richard
Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) West, D. G. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Wheeldon, W. E. Woof, R. E.
Timmons, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Usborne, H. C. Willey, Frederick TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Viant, S. P. Williams, David (Neath) Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Rogers.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

4.48 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)

There has been a tendency in recent years for very small territories to be hived off from large territories when independence or otherwise is attained. I notice that this group of islands is not the only group likely to be treated in this fashion. For instance, I understand that an Order in Council is about to be made with regard to Christmas Island. Be that as it may, it becomes a real responsibility of the House to make certain that the Government of the territories which are hived off from the principal areas should be properly governed.

I had the very great privilege a few years ago of visiting Turks Island. I must confess that I had never been on such an arid island before. Undoubtedly, these islands have a very romantic history and have passed through various vicissitudes of government. None the less, it is imperative, because of the unproductive nature of these islands, particularly Turks Islands and adjacent islands, that the Government should bear in mind the welfare and happiness of the people in them.

I would like to stress that, as recommended by the Royal Commission which sat in 1939, the fullest consideration should be given to the prosperity of the small Caribbean islands. The only resource of Turks Island is salt, and the fact that the salt is there makes the island extremely poor from an agricultural point of view, and the inhabitants have to import practically all their food.

As this Bill does not provide for the representation of Turks Island or the other islands in the Federation, it should be stressed that, in the absence of that political representation, the good will and benevolence of the British Government towards the inhabitants of these islands should, through the Federation Government, continue.

Although, of course, an Amendment in regard to the application of colonial development and welfare funds, except through the Federal Government, was out of order, I hope that there will be insistance that, under this Act, no less provision will be made after authority is shifted from London, than is made at present. I trust that due consideration will be given to that point. These people are extremely friendly and hospitable, but their conditions are deplorable, and unless a friendly eye is kept on their well-being they are apt to suffer quite a lot.

I welcome the Third Reading of the Bill, but I hope that, in due time, this problem of representation will be looked at in order that the voice of these islanders can be heard in the representative institutions which will be created within the Federation of The West Indies.

4.52 p.m.

Mr. Brockway

One of the features of the Second Reading debate was the pressure exerted from both sides of the House for a continuation of economic aids to these territories. It is true that the standard of life in the Cayman Islands is higher than that in many Colonial Territories, but the territories of the Turks and Caicos Islands are arid, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) has said. A considerable proportion of the male population has to seek a living in the Bahamas, the families being left to scratch what existence they can out of that arid land—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

The debate on Third Reading has to be confined to the contents of the Bill, and I think that the hon. Member is going a little wide of that.

Mr. Brockway

Then I am prepared to content myself with asking whether the Minister can say what are his intentions in this matter. In the past, we have given a direct aid to these islands, but in the future, as they will come under the Caribbean Federation, to a large degree any assistance that is given from this country must be in the form of a block grant to that Federation.

During the Second Reading debate hon. Members on both sides sought an assurance that the degree of assistance that has been given in the past would be maintained. All that the Minister was able to say was that there would be a block grant to the Federation, and that it would be for the Federation to determine how it would be distributed. These islands are in the unfortunate position that they will have no representation in the Federal Parliament, and for that reason a very special responsibility rests upon hon. Members, and upon the Government.

I hope that it will be possible, in the course of this debate, for the Minister to state as definitely as possible that at least the aid that has hitherto been given to the islands will be continued in order to deal with their poverty, their need for education, the extension of their social services, the care of their health, and all those things which make the difference between poverty and human living in these territories.

4.55 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)

I should like to support the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). It is not often that we find ourselves in agreement, and this is not particularly a Third Reading matter. It is something that we would have liked to have dealt with during our discussion on Clause 2, but, unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding.

I should like to get this matter clear in my mind. By the arrangements contained in the Bill we pay a block grant to the Federation and the Federal Government allocate it to the individual islands in need of financial assistance. As the hon. Member for Eton and Slough has said, almost all the other recipients will be represented in the Federal Parliament and will, therefore, to some extent have a say in the matter.

The Turks and Caicos Islands, which are especially in need of financial help, will not be represented. The salt industry, upon which the economy of the Turks Islands largely depends, is in much need of help to get it on its feet again. It is in need of a grant especially for that purpose.

We provide the money from this House but, in future, we cannot decide where it is to go, who is to benefit, and to what extent in each case. It has usually been a fairly well-accepted principle in government, though people have sometimes criticised it, that the chap who pays the piper does, in fact, call the tune. As it seems to me, Clause 2 reverses that principle.

I have no reason at all to suppose that the Federal Parliament will not make a wise allocation of our block grant. I am quite sure that it will. It will consist of very responsible people who will do their best to allocate the grant wisely; but is there no machinery at all by which we can ensure that at least as much money is distributed to individual islands from the grant as we have allocated to them from United Kingdom funds in the past? If there is no such machinery, we should, perhaps, have some sort of power hare to help these islands, if need be, if and when a crisis arises.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, myself and other hon. Members raised this point on Second Reading, and we were told by my hon. Friend, as I understood it, that there would be no way in which, during the next five years, the allocation could be altered at all. I think that the point of his argument was that we cannot tie the Federation. I recognise that, but, accepting that position, should we not reserve to ourselves some power to help if it is clear and evident that the Federal grant, for some reason not known to us at the moment, is inadequate in the result? I do not know whether my hon. Friend would be prepared to accept the principle of that suggestion, and, if so, whether there is any way in which we could safeguard the position of these small islands.

4.59 p.m.

Mr. Joseph Reeves (Greenwich)

I should like to add just one word to the plea of those hon. Members who have already spoken on the application of the block grant. I believe that there are very grave dangers that, when the Federal Government has to allocate these funds, there will be such demands from the whole area that it will be most difficult to build up a system of priorities. There is not the slightest doubt that the whole of the area needs very much more money than this country will provide during the first five years, while the whole success of the Federation will depend on its ability to make the area a viable one. We want to encourage them in every possible way along this path. As has been said, however, there is the possibility that the smaller islands which are not directly represented in the Federal Parliament will not be able to articulate their needs in the way that the other areas will be able to do.

We are not placing any restraints upon the Federal Government, and rightly so. That would be a very unwise thing to do. At the same time, I feel convinced that when once the responsibility is accepted, the Federal Parliament will feel that it is in an absolute dilemma. The amount of money that we shall provide will be a restricted sum, and because the amount involved cannot be reviewed until the end of five years it seems to me that we are creating a very difficult situation.

This is a Third Reading debate, and I realise its limitations, but we hope that the Minister will be able to relieve our minds on this matter. The hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) and I visited the Cayman Islands five years ago and I have with me today four or five memoranda which were submitted to us on that occasion. In these memoranda the people of those islands told us of their needs. It has been said that they are much better off than the people of the Caicos Island, but in their central hospital they have only one doctor for a population of 7,000. They hoped that we would help them in an appeal to the Jamaican Government to appoint a further doctor.

Their roads are in a deplorable state, and they have only one high school. They want technical schools, and they want to see the development of secondary and technical education. I feel that the Minister has a responsibility in the matter. He could surely give strong advice as to how these sums of money should be administered. Although I should like to say more on the subject, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I dare not do so, because I am sure that if I did you would rule me out of order.

5.3 p.m.

Mr. Profumo

May I say, first, how grateful I am to hon. Members for the ease with which they have given approval to the stages of the Bill so far reached. As far as I understand, there is only one point troubling the House, a point which was troubling the House on Second Reading. It is the matter to which hon. Members have been giving voice.

If I may say so with respect, I think there is a slight danger that we may be confusing two sorts of financial aid which the United Kingdom can render to Colonial Territories so I will, if I may, split my remarks into two parts and try to convince hon. Members that everything is going to be well.

The first aid is given from colonial development and welfare sources. The allocations for colonial development and welfare have already been made and will remain the same till 1960 when the present Act will cease to operate with regard to the islands which we are considering today. Therefore, there would be no purpose in writing anything of this sort into the Bill.

I accept the point made about the need of these territories. That matter will be considered by Her Majesty's Government when specific plans are agreed to for which territories colonial development funds are allocated. There will be absolutely no difference from now onwards. I cannot speculate into the realm which Parliament has not even discussed and as to what will happen after the Colonial Development and Welfare Act comes to an end in 1960, but, until that time, there will be absolutely no difference in regard to these small territories, even though they come under the Federation and in spite of the Bill, from what there is at present. They will deal directly through the Colony of Jamaica with Her Majesty's Government.

The other type of colonial financial aid is grant aid. This is what I think is really worrying hon. Members. It would be impossible to prescribe by Act of Parliament that the grants-in-aid should in no case be on a lesser scale than that contributed during the financial year preceding any appointed day, which is what, think, some hon. Members would like. because, of course, grants-in-aid must take into consideration the revenue of the territory concerned.

Her Majesty's Government have to take into account the estimated revenue and expenditure for the territory concerned for the year in question. If, for instance, there is a lower revenue as a result of famine, flood or a bad harvest then the grants-in-aid might be increased, but, equally, the reverse is true. If the revenue of a territory goes up, the difference which has to be made up is less. Therefore, we could not bind the making of grants-in-aid by anything specified in an Act of Parliament.

I would like, however, to set the minds of hon. Members at rest as to how this will happen, because, although grants-in-aid will from now onwards be made by the Federal Government from a block grant from the United Kingdom, the size of the block grant to the Federation each year far the first five years will be not less than the average total grants-in-aid made to individual federated territories for the three preceding years.

I did not make this point clear on Second Reading and am glad to have this opportunity of doing so. I think it is fair to assume that the Federation will have sufficient funds as a result of the block grant to allocate fairly and adequately to the territories under its control. I ought to remind the House that Parliament is already committed to an act of faith by Section 3 of the British Caribbean Act, 1956, in the affairs of the Federal Government concerning the distribution of the grant to individual territories concerned. Therefore, it would be wholly wrong to seek to single out any particular territory and put it outside the scope of the arrangements.

There is only one other side to the argument, and that is that these territories are in a rather special position. They are very small and are not represented in the Federal Parliament. The question of representation in the Federal Assembly was considered by Parliament during the passage of the British Caribbean Federation Bill and later, when Parliament approved the Order in Council under the Act. It would be equally impossible at this stage to change an arrangement whereby a very careful balance of representation has been achieved on that Assembly. The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) probably knows better than anyone how difficult it was to arrive at that very careful balance, and a moment's reflection by hon. Members on the general set-up will show how difficult it would be to disturb this balance.

Hon. Members will remember that these territories are far smaller than any others represented in the Federal Assembly, and they cannot have it both ways. They have a very special relationship with the Assembly. Federal laws will not apply to the territories unless it is expressely stated that they so apply. During the long consultations that preceded the setting up of the Federation neither territory made out a case for separate representation.

I will end by taking up the point raised about keeping a friendly eye on the territories. I think that what has been said this afternoon will be very valuable to those starting this very important new federation and this great new experiment. I feel that it would be equally right to say, having discussed these matters and voiced our doubts, that we are sure that a friendly eye will be kept on the smaller islands and that it will be seen to that those who have not a direct voice in the Assembly will receive a fair allocation not only of financial help, but also of the time of their legislators.

Once again, I thank hon. Members for allowing the Bill to proceed so quickly. I hope that I have allayed some of the suspicions which hon. Gentlemen opposite and some of my hon. Friends had.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.