HC Deb 26 February 1962 vol 654 cc1077-87

[Queen's Recommendation signified.]

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).


Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of this Session to make final provision as to the operation of the law in consequence of the Union of South Africa having become a republic outside the Commonwealth, it is expedient to authorise any increase in the sums which may be or are to be issued out of the Consolidated Fund, raised by borrowing or paid into the Exchequer under the Sugar Act, 1956, being an increase attributable to provisions of the said Act of this Session relating to suear exported or to be exported from the territories of the Republic of South Africa.—[Mr. Vane.]

10.21 p.m.

Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)

I think that we must have a word of explanation about this £2.7 million we are voting. This will extend the sugar preference, or part of it, to South Africa. Two questions should be answered. The first was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). If it is impossible to differentiate between Swaziland sugar and South African sugar today, why is it possible to do so in 1966, when these arrangements come to an end?

Secondly, since the Swaziland sugar has been chiefly pleaded in aid in favour of doing this at all, why is it not possible to differentiate now or in 1966 by the simple procedure of a certificate of origin, which is very well known in these matters? We suggest that, if we wish to continue Commonwealth Preference for a part of the world which will still be a member of the Commonwealth—Swaziland—we should do it by this simple means. At any rate, that amount of explanation is due to the Committee.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

We might also be told in specific terms what consultation there has been with the West Indies, and, more particularly, Jamaica. Those of us who take an interest in these matters are aware that Jamaica is in a desperate situation over the sugar crop at the present time. Mr. Manley has had to go cap in hand to Washington, and we had Questions in this House only last Thursday on this matter.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

On a point of order, Sir William. May we have a little silence in order that we might hear the speeches that are being made?

The Chairman

It would be better if hon. Members were a little more quiet.

Mrs. White

The whole economy of Jamaica is in jeopardy because of the change in purchasing policy by the United States Government, and the most difficult negotiations are going on about the Jamaican sugar crop. It seems to us on this side of the Committee—and I suppose to some hon. Members opposite—at a moment when we are bringing in the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill on the one hand and this Bill on the other, that, without an explanation of this sugar subsidy, the people of Jamaica will think that we are adding insult to injury.

Therefore, out of consideration for people who are still in the Commonwealth we ought to have it made clear beyond any doubt at all that the proposal in the Sugar Agreement dealing with South Africa will not be injurious to the Jamaican position or that we shall not be giving by way of a subsidy to South Africa under a Sugar Agreement money which many of us think might be very much better spent on the economic development of Jamaica.

Consequently, I think that we are entitled to have an explanation about this very fully on the record. I understand the difficulty over time experienced by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in replying to our earlier debate. I do not take exception to the fact that he did not deal at all with the Sugar Agreement. We appreciate that he dealt with many other points. However, now that we have this further opportunity, it is very desirable that we should have the explanation which he was not able to give then.

Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)

I wish briefly to support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint. East (Mrs. White). The Resolution involves the- expenditure of £2.7 million of the British taxpayers' money. It is money which will be used in this instance to help partly the sugar producers of Swaziland and partly the sugar producers of the Republic of South Africa. I do not know how the proportions are worked out.

We on this side of the Committee have no desire, of course, to withdraw any of the expenditure which is in respect of the sugar producers of Swaziland, but we feel doubtful about the advisability of spending the British taxpayers' money in this way as it concerns the sugar producers in the Republic of South Africa.

As my hon. Friend has said, we understand that the sugar industry in another part of the Commonwealth, in the West Indies, an area much affected by the implications of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, faces a very grave future. Indeed, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, on his recent visit here, said that if something could not be done about the situation developing between the United States of America and the West Indian sugar producers, Jamaica would face bankruptcy. He used those words at a meeting in the Palace of Westminster. In the circumstances, many hon. Members on both sides are extremely anxious about the situation which has developed.

Presumably, that part of the £2.7 million which is being used to help the sugar producers of what is now a foreign country—and a foreign country practising racial policies which are repugnant to the Commonwealth—could be used to benefit the sugar producers in the West Indies or in other parts of the Commonwealth who are threatened by the situation which has developed in relation to the American sugar purchases on the world market.

I believe that there would be strong support on both sides of the Committee for the proposition that if we are to spend a fairly substantial sum of money to help sugar producers, we should put those in the Commonwealth, such as the West Indians, before those in a country which is practising racial policies of apartheid.

10.30 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. W. M. F. Vane)

I will try to answer the questions which have been put to me.

The first question concerns distinguishing today between Swaziland sugar and South African sugar and why it should be rather more difficult to do so today than five years hence after this arrangement has ended. I would not say that it is impossible to distinguish between the two, but the House should remember that this is an interim arrangement in a sense and that we want the minimum of disturbance for the Swaziland producers. South Africa has been their natural market, and she has handled their sales and will continue to do so under the present arrangement.

I think that hon. Members opposite will appreciate that the present arrangement allows for an increasing proportion of the total sales from South Africa and Swaziland taken together to be of Swaziland origin. There is, therefore, at this juncture a certain advantage in not disturbing completely those arrangements which have worked out to the advantage of Swaziland.

I was also asked why Swaziland could not be brought straight into the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. There are others who have been waiting to join the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and of course we see increasing quantities of sugar in various parts of the world. What we are concerned with here is stability in the market as between countries in the Commonwealth and elsewhere who depend greatly on the production of sugar, which is particularly important for their economies.

Mr. Strachey

Swaziland sugar is already covered by the Sugar Agreement. There is no question of bringing it in.

Mr. Vane

I was treating it entirely on its own. The arrangements that we know have proved satisfactory. It would seem that there is an advantage at the present time in not disturbing them when we can see no greater advantage accruing.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is the hon. Member not putting the Swaziland sugar producers, the people in this High Commission Territory whose welfare we ought to be looking after, in a disadvantageous position by tying them up with the South African arrangement in this Bill? As I understood the Minister earlier this afternoon, what is being proposed is that these sugar producers should get £35 a ton as against £45. With our responsibilities for the people of this High Commission Territory, ought not we to be arranging to carry on giving the Swaziland sugar producers £45 a ton, which they get at the moment, instead of sacrificing them in the interests of doing a deal with the people of South Africa?

Mr. Vane

We are not tying the Swaziland producers up with South Africa, because they already have a continuing arrangement with South Africa and they are to get some quantitative advantages from this. This is an interim arrangement. We will have to see what arrangements we can make at the end of the period.

The hon. Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) asked what consultation there had been with the West Indies and Jamaica. Other Commonwealth sugar producers, including the West Indies, did not press us for increased outlets, when they knew of these arrangements, and when it was decided to make this special arrangement with South Africa for this period of years.

It would not necessarily have helped them to have arranged this otherwise, because had we not made this agreement with South Africa we would not have prevented her from selling sugar in a number of markets, particularly in this country and in Canada, where she could have had a considerable effect on the price and stability of the sugar market, because she would have been able to send sugar here without limit, whereas at the present time there is a strict limit on the total quantity that can be sent to us.

Mrs. White

I follow the hon. Gentleman's argument, but are we not, nevertheless, obligated to pay a certain price for West Indies sugar? It might affect sugar beet producers here. Can the hon. Gentleman be more explicit about this?

Mr. Vane

There is a Commonwealth price under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and there is a separate price for those who sell on the world market Governments have been anxious to try to achieve some sort of stability in the market for sugar in the different countries for which they are responsible. One of the advantages of what we have arranged is that, in this market, at least. South African sugar will not enter at the world price where undoubtedly it would be a disturbing factor. Canada is another market where something could have happened to the detriment of the West Indies sugar producers.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) asked whether I could break down this figure as between South African and Swaziland sugar. It is not possible to do that exactly, but I am advised that the total sugar production of Swaziland which has been handled and marketed by the South African authorities has represented about 8 per cent. of the total Swaziland and South African sugar taken together.

I hope that with that explanation the Committee will agree to the Money Resolution.

Question put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 215, Noes 126.

Division No. 107.] AYES [10.35 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. Pike, Miss Mervyn
Allason, James Green, Alan Pilkington, Sir Richard
Arbuthnot, John Gresham Cooke, R. Pitman, Sir James
Ashton, Sir Hubert Gurden, Harold Pitt, Miss Edith
Atkins, Humphrey Hall, John (Wycombe) Pott, Percivall
Balniel, Lord Harris, Reader (Heston) Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Barber, Anthony Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Barlow, Sir John Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Ramsden, James
Barter, John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Rawlinson, Peter
Batsford, Brian Harvie Anderson, Miss Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hay, John Rees-Davies, W. R.
Berkeley, Humphry Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Renton, David
Bidgood, John C. Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Ridsdale, Julian
Biffen, John Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Biggs-Davison, John Hirst, Geoffrey Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)
Bishop, F. P, Hobson, Sir John Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Bourne-Arton, A. Holland, Philip Roots, William
Boyle, Sir Edward Hollingworth, John Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Braine, Bernard Hopkins, Alan Russell, Ronald
Brewis, John Hornby, R. P. Scott-Hopkins, James
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col, Sir Walter Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Seymour, Leslie
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hughes-Young, Michael Sharples, Richard
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Hutchison, Michael Clark Shaw, M.
Bryan, Paul Jackson, John Shepherd, William
Buck, Antony James, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Bullard, Denys Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntfrd & Chiswick)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Jennings, J. C. Smithers, Peter
Channon, H. P. G. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Chataway, Christopher Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher
Chichester-Clark, R. Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Kaberry, Sir Donald Speir, Rupeut
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Kerr, Sir Hamilton Studholme, Sir Henry
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Kimball, Marcus Tapsell, Peter
Cleaver, Leonard Kirk, Peter Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Cole, Norman Leather, E. H. C. Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Collard, Richard Leavey, J. A. Teeling, Sir William
Cooke, Robert Leburn, Gilmour Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Cooper, A. E. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Corfield, F. V. Litchfield, Capt. John Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Costain, A. P. Longden, Gilbert Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Coulson, Michael Loveys, Walter H. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Craddock, Sir Beresford Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Crowder, F. P. MacArthur, Ian Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Cunningham, Knox McLaren, Martin Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Curran, Charles McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Dalkeith, Earl of Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.) Turner, Colin
Dance, James Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Turton, Rt. Hon, R. H.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry McMaster, Stanley R. vane, W. M. F.
Deedes, W. F. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
de Ferranti, Basil Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Vickers, Miss Joan
Digby, Simon Wingfield Maddan, Martin Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Maginnis, John E. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Doughty, Charles Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Drayson, G. B. Markham, Major Sir Frank Walder, David
Eden, John Marshall, Douglas Walker, Peter
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Marten, Neil Wall, Patrick
Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.) Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Ward, Dame Irene
Emery, Peter Mawby, Ray Wells, John (Maidstone)
Errington, Sir Eric Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Farey-Jones, F. W. Montgomery, Fergus Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Farr, John Morrison, John Wise, A. R.
Finlay, Graeme Nabarro, Gerald Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fisher, Nigel Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Forrest, George Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Woodhouse, C. M.
Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodnutt, Mark
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Woollam, John
Freeth, Denzil Page, Graham (Crosby) Worsley, Marcus
Gammans, Lady Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Gardner, Edward Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Gilmour Sir John Peel, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Percival, Ian Mr. Whitelaw and
Goodhew, Victor Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Mr. Michael Hamiton.
Ainsley, William Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Parkin, B. T.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pavitt, Laurence
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hunter, A. E. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Awbery, Stan Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Popplewell, Ernest
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Janner, Sir Barnett Prentice, R. E.
Beaney, Alan Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Jeger, George Probert, Arthur
Benson, Sir George Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, s.) Rankin, John
Blackburn, F. Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Redhead, E. C.
Boardman, H. Jones, Dan (Burnley) Reynolds, G. W.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics. S. W.) Kelley, Richard Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Bowles, Frank King, Dr. Horace Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Brockway, A. Fenner Lawson, George Ross, William
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Ledger, Ron Short, Edward
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Cliffe, Michael Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Snow, Julian
Crosland Anthony Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Sorensen, R. W.
Cullen, Mrs. Alice MacColl, James Spriggs, Leslie
Davies, Harold (Leek) McInnes, James Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Delargy, Hugh McKay, John (Wallsend) Stonehouse, John
Diamond, John MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Donnelly, Desmond Mahon, Simon Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Edelman, Maurice Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Swingler, Stephen
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Manuel, A. C. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Finch, Harold Mapp, Charles Thornton, Ernest
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Marsh, Richard Thorpe, Jeremy
Galpern, Sir Myer Mason, Roy Tomney, Frank
Ginsburg, David Mayhew, Christopher Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Gourlay, Harry Mendelson, J. J. Wainwright, Edwin
Grey, Charles Mitchison, G. R. Watkins, Tudor
Griffiths, David (Bother Valley) Morris, John Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Gunter, Ray Mulley, Frederick White, Mrs. Eirene
Hannan, William Neal, Harold Whitlock, William
Hart, Mrs. Judith Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Hayman, F. H. Oliver, G. H. Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Healey, Denis Oram, A. E. Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Oswald, Thomas Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Herbison, Miss Margaret Owen, Will Wyatt, Woodrow
Hilton, A. V. Paget, R. T. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Holt, Arthur Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Houghton, Douglas Pargiter, G. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parker, John Mr. Charles A. Howell
and Mr. Irving.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received Tomorrow.