HC Deb 24 November 1959 vol 614 cc189-91
24. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why he is subsidising the Corona Library series of books from Colonial Development and Welfare funds.

Mr. J. Amery

A scheme has been in operation since 1950. There was then, and there still is today, a serious lack of literary works containing comprehensive and authoritative information about individual British dependent territories.

Grants from C.D. & W. funds have accordingly been made to provide a planned series of books, published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office to meet the needs of overseas service probationers under training, officers of the overseas services, and serious students of colonial affairs.

Mr. Rankin

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I agree entirely with the purpose of this series—I think that it is an excellent one—but is not it the case that Colonial Development and Welfare funds were meant to be devoted to raising the standard of living of the dependent territories, and were not meant to be used to subsidise publications for circulation in this country? Will the hon. Gentleman consider either of two alternatives? Is it possible to put this series on a commercial basis or, alternatively, subsidise it from another and more appropriate Vote of this House?

Mr. Amery

I will certainly consult at any rate one of my right hon. Friends who knows something about publishing with regard to the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that we should put it on a commercial basis, although I am surprised at his making that suggestion since it might identify him too much with the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay)—

Mr. Rankin


Mr. Amery

The hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North, whose advocacy of private enterprise against nationalisation is known to the whole House.

I think that the expenditure of Colonial Development and Welfare funds to increase the understanding of those who are responsible for development and progress in the Colonies fully justifies the experiment we have been making. We do not expect that there will be any loss. We have spent about £21,000, of which we have already recovered £14,000, and we expect that sales will be sufficient over the next few years to enable us to bring out more books in the series.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Will the Minister look at this matter again? I am sure that everybody who knows the series welcomes it and welcomes the spending of Government money upon it, but would not it be much better to take the money out of the Colonial Office Vote instead of out of Colonial Development and Welfare funds which are deliberately earmarked for raising living standards in the underdeveloped territories?

Mr. Amery

The sum involved in this case was about £13,000. It was a deliberate contribution towards equipping the officers who go out to raise living standards to do their job properly. It has always been accepted that the officers themselves can be a legitimate charge on Colonial Development and Welfare funds, and, therefore, what is, I think, an essential part of their training can be treated in the same way.

Mr. Thorpe

Does the series include the Devlin Report? If not, can arrangements be made to include it?

Mr. Amery

The answer to both those supplementary questions is in the negative.