HC Deb 18 June 1959 vol 607 cc642-3
35. Mr. Albu

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he has yet received an application for a further grant from the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; and if he will make a statement.

36. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how much financial help was given during the last financial year to the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; and how much it is estimated will be given by Her Majesty's Government during the coming financial year.

39. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to what extent it is his intention to give increased aid to the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the coming financial year.

Mr. Alport

A colonial development and welfare grant of £190,325 was approved in February, 1959, and another of £40,750 in June, 1959, bringing to £1,475,000 the total of such grants approved since the establishment of the University College. Cash issues against actual expenditure amounted to £96,390 in 1958–59, and provision has been made for the issue of £150,000 in 1959–60.

Further assistance must depend on the amount which can be made available to the College under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1959. I am informed that the Colonial University Grants Advisory Committee is studying the anticipated needs of the College for further colonial development and welfare assistance, and their recommendations will be considered when they are received. As far as my noble Friend's responsibilities are concerned, he will wish to consider as sympathetically as possible any case for assistance which the University College may put forward.

Mr. Albu

I welcome the statement made by the Under-Secretary, but will he confirm that in the establishment of universities in the Commonwealth the principle of the freedom of opinion of the academic staff must be maintained? As a gesture, will he therefore agree to increase the grant being made to the college by the small amounts which are being withheld by the Salisbury City Council and the Nyasaland Tobacco Association on the ground that 38 members of the staff issued a document which was considered to have a political implication?

Mr. Alport

As I have said more than once when this subject has been raised in the House, we stand strongly behind the principle of university freedom.

Mr. Thomson

In view of the great importance of the development of this university, would the Under-Secretary use his authority and express his repugnance at the attitude of those bodies who have withdrawn the grant, or are threatening to do so, because of the liberal views of the university staff to this racial problem? His authority could greatly help in this situation.

Mr. Alport

My noble Friend is not in any way responsible for any decisions that may be made in this matter by private bodies. As far as the United Kingdom Government are concerned, we have, as I have said on previous occasions, great faith in these experiments in partnership and I hope that we shall be able to continue to support this programme.

Mr. Bottomley

Would the Under-Secretary consider making representations to the Southern Rhodesian Government suggesting that they might support the same principles as Her Majesty's Government, and also comment on the withdrawing of these funds?

Mr. Alport

I have no doubt that that is a matter for the Southern Rhodesian Government. If they see fit, they will no doubt do what they consider to be right.