§ 2.55 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD LLOYD)
My Lords, I would start by echoing the apology that has been made by my noble friend Lord Home for the late introduction of this Bill and for giving your Lordships so little time to consider it. However, as I shall hope to show in the course of my speech, we feel it is of the first importance that we should get this Bill through before the Recess. When we debated the last report of the Colonial Development Corporation the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised a question as to the validity of certain activities of the Corporation. I am sure the noble Lord will remember that at that time I said that Her Majesty's Government intended to legislate in order to validate these activities; and that legislation is before your Lordships this afternoon.
The first question that might reasonably be asked is: Why is this Bill necessary at all? The facts of the matter are that at the end of 1955 the question arose as to whether some of the Corporation's housing schemes were valid within the powers of the Corporation as defined in the 1943 Act. For example, there was the Federal and Colonial Building Society 526 scheme in Malaya and Singapore, which I believe is quite familiar to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore; the housing loan in Kenya, and the housing loan in Southern Rhodesia; and there were some investments and construction works in the Gold Coast and Nigeria. All these schemes appeared possibly to be ultra vires in relation to the 1948 Act. The first point I want to make is that this is a matter primarily of legal interpretation. The legal advisers of the Government took the view, by which they and we stand, that these activities were, in fact, ultra vires. But in frankness to the House, and in fairness to my noble friend, Lord Reith. I am bound to tell your Lordships that the legal advisers of the Corporation took the opposite view. The point is that here was a difference of opinion amongst eminent legal experts, and clearly it seemed to the Government that it was essential to dispel that uncertainty as quickly as possible.
How was that uncertainty to be dispelled? One obvious way would have been to go to the courts. But, apart from the delay which is always inseparable from going to the courts—there may be appeals, and the procedure is much longer—there were other disadvantages. Supposing the courts proved the Government right, we should still have needed validating legislation, since, after all, the Corporation only carry out the policy of Her Majesty's Government. If, on the other hand, the Government had been proved wrong, the specific issue before the court might not have covered all the cases where doubt existed. Therefore we decided that the best and quickest way out of the difficulty was the introduction of this Bill. I hope that that disposes of the question of why a Bill was necessary.
The next question that I might reasonably be asked is: Why not have a simple Bill to validate the particular schemes which the Government consider to be ultra vires? The answer to that really lies in the nature of the 1948 Act itself. If your Lordships have looked at that Act, you will have seen that Section 1 (1) gives a very general definition of the duties of the Corporation. Section 1 (1) of that Act says:There shall be established … a body, to be called the Colonial Development Corporation, charged with the duty of securing the investigation. formulation and carrying out 527 of projects for developing resources of colonial territories with a view to the expansion of production therein of foodstuffs and raw materials, or for other agricultural, industrial or trade development therein.It then goes on to say, in the next subsection, that the Corporation may carry on activities which appear to them to berequisite, advantageous or convenient for or in connection with the discharge of their said duty.…The point is that the duty was in very general terms, and I admit that when I first looked at that subsection it seemed to me that it allowed the Corporation to do almost anything—which, from the point of view of my noble friend Lord Reith, was no doubt very satisfactory. But in point of fact, the effect has been rather different; indeed, our difficulty this afternoon arises because of the wording of Section 1 (1) of that Act. In the view of Her Majesty's Government, housing, as such, was not necessarily a project for "developing resources or for" agricultural, industrial or trade development." I am not saying that housing could not be, but I am saying that housing in general was not necessary, and would be permissible only if it was incidental to such a project. Of course, as your Lordships will readily appreciate, similar difficulties could arise in other cases—for example, works contracting.
We therefore felt that a new approach to this whole question of the definition and the duties of the Corporation was necessary, and the object of this Bill is to widen the field of permitted activities so as to allow the Corporation to carry on in the future the same kind of activities as they and successive Governments have considered desirable in the past. I am not a lawyer, but the lawyers tell me—and I have no reason to doubt them—that these activities are not capable of reduction to a few words which could be fitted into the structure of the 1948 Act; and, in addition, that it was not possible to devise some short general formula which would cover the desired field but, at the same time, exclude certain activities, such as social services, which I do not think anybody in your Lordships' House has ever desired that the Corporation should undertake. That is the reason for the rather longer method of approach in Clause 1 (1) of the Bill.
528 If your Lordships will look at the Bill you will see that Clause 1 (1) starts with a new definition of the purpose—not the duty—of the Corporation. Then, having started with this new definition of the purpose of the Corporation, subsection (1) includes, in the new subsection (2) to Section 1 of the 1948 Act, a definition of the powers which the Corporation may exercise for that purpose—such things as investigating and formulating projects for the promotion or expansion of new and existing enterprises; to carry on undertakings; to carry on any activities incidental in projects referred to; to assist other bodies, and so on. It is all set out on page 2 of the Bill.
Finally, having started with the purpose and then gone on to state the powers, subsection (1) of this Bill sets out, in the new subsection (3) of Section 1 of the 1948 Act, a list of the classes of enterprises in which the Corporation can exercise those powers. If your Lordships will look at that list, you will see that it is a fairly wide one. It covers agriculture, fisheries, mining, industrial enterprises, water, gas and electricity supply, transport, telephone, telegraph or wireless communications, housing, hotels, building and engineering. As I say, it is a fairly wide list, and in our view it covers all the enterprises that were ever permitted under the 1948 Act. Indeed, where there has been any doubt over the question of housing and hotels, and building and engineering, in some cases, we have put them in specifically, in order to make it quite clear that they are permissible and legitimate. Thus, in our view, the future is covered by this re-definition, and the past is taken care of by the restrospective application of this re-definition. To make assurance doubly sure, just in case the re-definition does not cover every activity of the past, Clause 1 (3), if your Lordships will look at it, validates all schemes. It gives a "blanket validation to anything that the noble Lord may have done in the past which was amiss according to the legal advice we have received. I think the Bill removes all possible doubt.
Finally, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to this point. Whilst it is not our intention to alter the purpose or the character of the Colonial Development Corporation, Clause 3 provides for the list of permitted enterprises to be added to, with Parliamentary approval, 529 if the Government think it expedient. In other words, if we have left out of the Bill anything which it is reasonable for the Corporation to do in the future, though it is not in this list, the Secretary with the approval of Parliament, can make an Order in Council adding that to the list. So I hope that this Amendment, which was put in in another place and which, in my view (I say this quite fairly; I thought of it myself), improves the Bill, will be acceptable. I hope that that explanation will dispose of any criticism. Some criticism was made that the method adopted in the Bill of cataloguing the permitted enterprises may result in inadvertently leaving out activities which it might be desirable for the Corporation to undertake. I do not think we have left anything out, but if we have, this provision will enable us to put it in.
Of course, some activities are excluded—they always have been. If your Lordships will look at the new subsection (4) mentioned in Clause 1 (1), you will see that there are certain things—that is to say,schools, colleges, hospitals, Government offices, or other buildings or works for the public servicewhich are to be outside the scope of the Corporation except in special circumstances, which are related in that clause. The reason for this is that we never envisaged that those could ever be activities undertaken by the Corporation. They are social and administrative services, and although nobody would minimise their importance, the point is that there are other resources available to carry them out. There are the resources of the colonial Governments themselves and, of course, the funds provided under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. So those things are specifically excluded, and they were excluded, of course, from the 1948 Act.
We have taken this opportunity in Clause 2 of trying to clear up these special problems of Southern Rhodesia. As your Lordships are probably aware, it was never the intention to bring Southern Rhodesia as such within the scope of the Corporation, because, of course, Southern Rhodesia does not come under the administration of my right honourable friend, and the Corporation is supposed to deal with those territories which do come under his administration. Also as your Lordships are probably aware, 530 under the Federation, certain powers of the northern territories were transferred to the Federal Government. At that time, in order to avoid depriving those territories of assistance from the Corporation, the Federation (Constitution Order in Council) added the words, "Federation as a whole" to the list of colonial territories where the Colonial Development Corporation might operate.
In practice, this has not been found a satisfactory statement of Her Majesty's Government's intention. Therefore we have taken the opportunity in this Bill to clarify the matter. If your Lordships will look at Clause 2, you will see that the Corporation will not be empowered to operate in Southern Rhodesia without the specific authority of the Secretary or State. That authority will be given only where the projects are needed for the-promotion and expansion of enterprises in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland which are, of course, territories administered by my right honourable friend; also, when my right honourable friend is satisfied, considering the purpose of the Corporation—that is to say, when he considers the whole field of their activities—that such development in Southern Rhodesia is not only necessary but expedient.
I think I can summarise this Bill which, although it is rather complicated in its drafting, has a simple and limited purpose. The purpose is limited purely to validating certain activities of the Corporation which Her Majesty's Government consider are ultra vires. In order to do so, the Bill re-defines the purpose and powers of the Corporation so as to avoid, we hope, the arising again of these and similar difficulties in the future. I should like to emphasise that that is the sole object of this Bill. That is all that this Bill does. It in no way alters the general relations between the Corporation and Her Majesty's Government. The Corporation remains, within the terms of reference stated, responsible for the selection of projects and day-to-day administration. The Government continue to have all the powers which they had under the 1948 Act—the power to control borrowing, the power to make advances on conditions prescribed, the power to issue general directions in matters of public interest, the power to call for information and the power to give directions as to the disposal of 531 capital assets. The kind of powers which the Government had before they still have.
Let me say one last word. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is well aware, there are a number of other issues outstanding between the Corporation and Her Majesty's Government. Most of them we discussed recently when we debated the last Report of the Corporation, such as the write-off capital loans, the future financing of the Corporation. the change of title of the Corporation and a number of points raised by noble Lords. Some of these points are still the subject of discussions between the noble Lord, Lord Reith, and the Secretary of State. Therefore the Bill cannot deal with these things and it does not deal with them. If, as a result of these discussions, further changes are necessary, separate legislation will be required, and I have no doubt that if it is required, it will be introduced. But, as I have pointed out, we want this Bill now, because as long as this uncertainty remains the Corporation has a number of important contracts and undertakings which are held up pending this legislation. Therefore, although again I apologise to the noble Lord, and indeed to all noble Lords, that this matter should have had to be hurried in the way it has, I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading and pass it through all its stages this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Reith, and the Corporation can then get on with the very valuable work they are doing—and here I should like to pay the noble Lord a tribute for all that he and the Corporation are doing. I do not think anybody here wishes to hold them up. I am grateful to the Opposition for their very accommodating attitude over this matter. Therefore, I hope we can give the Bill a speedy passage.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Lloyd.)
§ 3.13 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, has explained to your Lordships quite fairly, it is doubtful whether this Bill is necessary at all, but, in my view, the Government are quite right in bringing in legislation if there is a doubt. It is much easier, even at this late stage, for us to put it right than for there to be a continued doubt 532 in the minds not only of the Colonial Development Corporation but also of the people with whom they deal, with consequent delays in the progress of important matters. So no doubt the Government are quite right in introducing this Bill. That is why to-day, at considerable inconvenience both to the House and personally to many of us. we have agreed to take the necessary action to speed the Bill on its way. It was introduced late at night at the "fag end" of the Session in another place, and it is introduced here on the last but one day of this part of the Session. It is needed to clear up this doubt, because I understand that there have been some £7½ million worth of contracts actually performed on the understanding that the Corporation have the power to perform the work which they have done. Moreover, there is a large number of other contracts, or at any rate agreements and undertakings, which, although perhaps not having legal form, still have considerable moral effect. Therefore the noble Lord, Lord Reith, and his Board are anxious, naturally and rightly, to get this Bill through.
The result of the late introduction of the Bill is that there will be no effective Committee stage. I understand that the Government are proposing to negative the Committee stage, if your Lordships agree, and we are making no objection to that course; but, in consequence, I must ask your Lordships to bear with me if I make what are a number of Committee points in a Second Reading speech. Perhaps your Lordships will agree to my doing that to-day, although, of course, it is not usually done on Second Reading. In fact, your Lordships might say, in a way, that most of the Bill is really a Committee Bill rather than a Second Reading Bill. It does not give a great deal of scope. I think, however, it would be as well, before we go on to the more detailed examination of the Bill, if we looked at the setting within which the Bill takes it place and the background against which it is set.
The original plan for this Corporation was set out in the Overseas Resources Act, 1948. In winding up the debate in another place I said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons; Vol. 443, col. 2115]:The purpose of the Colonial Development Corporation is to do anything necessary for the 533 starting up of any legitimate productive enterprise which is likely to pay its way in the Colonies.That was our purpose. In the 1948 Act, the purpose is defined in more Parliamentary language than mine but it comes to the same thing. It is this:The duty of securing the investigation, formulation and carrying out of projects for developing resources of colonial territories with a view to the expansion of production therein of foodstuffs and raw materials, or for other agricultural, industrial or trade development therein.In the interesting debate we had on the Corporation on June 20 last, I drew attention to what seemed to us to be the change in direction that the Corporation has taken in the last few years, particularly, and in fact entirely, since this Government has been in office. I said [OFFICIAL. REPORT, Vol. 197 col. 1128]:In the fields in which the Corporation is supposed to employ its advances—agriculture, forestry, and fisheries—it is undoubtedly being prevented from assisting a number of projects because of the tight financial structure in which it is bound.A little later on in the same debate the noble Lord, Lord Winster, made an interesting speech in which he analysed the activities of the Corporation. In fact, he elaborated in a very striking manner the point that I had made about the tight financial structure. He said [col. 1148]:It is clear, however, that nearly nine-tenths of the 1955 profit came from loans and investments, and only one-tenth from undertakings under the Board's direct control.Then he went on to deal with the actual figures, with which I need not trouble your Lordships at this stage because they are all available to your Lordships in Hansard.
He finished this phase of his speech in these words [col. 1150]:In other words, the Corporation has changed the direction of its activity and is now primarily an investment and not a development corporation.I can assure your Lordships that there was no collusion between the noble Lord and myself. We both arrived at this deduction quite independently, from our analysis of the reports made by the noble Lord, Lord Reith, over the last few years. I think there is no doubt about it that that is the position: that the Corporation is not in fact doing the 534 job which it was intended to do. Although no doubt it is doing an important job, it is not really doing the job it was intended to do, because it has become a sort of merchant banking house and not a development corporation in the way that we had hoped. That is not the fault of the Board or of Lord Reith—I am quite sure of that: it is, in fact, due to the financial stringency under which the Corporation operates. Unfortunately, this Bill neither adds to nor detracts from this policy, because, of course, the policy is not dictated in the Bill but is dictated by the Secretary of State in a series of policy directions or administrative acts; and the noble Lord, Lord Reith, and the Corporation have to dance, reluctantly or otherwise, to the Secretary of State's tune, because he is the paymaster.
The Bill does not deal with two important points which will have to be dealt with in legislation at a later stage. First, it is the fact that we in the developed countries are competing more and more with the under-developed countries in the only type of product that they cart produce—in other words, the developed countries not only supply the rest of the world with finished goods but, by their ingeniousness or the ingenuity of their chemists and so on, are producing substitutes for the only type of product, such as rubber, that the primary producing countries can produce. In time, that is bound to create a great amount of hardship to those countries, and, so far as I can see, will mean an ever-expanding gap between the standards of life in the developed countries and those in the under-developed countries. I am sure that from a world point of view, that will be one of the most difficult problems that we shall have to face in years to come. Quite frankly, in these days the under-developed countries are not prepared to sit down and see the gap ever widening between themselves and the developed countries.
Then, there is the great failure on our part over the last few years to save and invest in these various countries abroad, particularly in the underdeveloped countries in the Commonwealth. I am quite sure that if the Commonwealth countries which have developed, especially ourselves, do not 535 save and invest in the under-developed countries, the Commonwealth, as we know it, must disintegrate. Unfortunately, other countries that are now wealthy have not got a tradition of development. But the money for development must be found in some way, and it must be from our savings. Only this week I read that development plans for three East African territories—namely, Uganda. Tanganyika and Kenya—have been formulated, amounting to no less than £250 million, over the next five years. Of course, the East African Commission Report calls for a vastly greater expenditure in this region. But where is the money to come from? And, if this is the sort of expenditure (it is probably absolutely necessary) required over the next few years in East Africa, one can imagine what other expenditure will be called for in the rest of the colonial territories. In this development the Colonial Development Corporation must play a vital, indeed, a crucial part, because it is the agency of the United Kingdom Government in development. So we have to set this Bill and the work of the Colonial Development Corporation against this tremendous and pressing need which is bearing down on us from outside.
So far as the Colonial Development Corporation itself is concerned, as the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, has already indicated in his speech, it needs a more helpful financial structure. I am glad to hear that discussions are taking place, and are to continue between the Secretary of State and the noble Lord, Lord Reith. There is an item of £8 million-odd of what is called "special losses." which is a dead weight on the shoulders of the Corporation and should be removed. Secondly, in relation to the Corporation, there is the necessity for the provision of risk capital and thirdly, there is the change of name. I am glad to hear from the noble Lord to-day that those points are now being dealt with. They are urgent, and I ask the Secretary of State, through Lord Lloyd, and Lord Reith not to delay consideration of these important matters.
Now we come to the increase of the £100 million limit. As was mentioned in the debate on June 20, the Corporation is approaching this limit and, so far as I am aware, the Bill does nothing to help 536 in this field. It does not increase the limit—in fact, in some ways, it makes the position more serious, because, if Lord Lloyd is right, and his claim that under this Bill the field of the Corporation is being widened is true, while no more money is being produced under the Bill the same amount of money will have to be used over a wider area. So that in some ways this Bill makes even more urgent the need for an increase in the ceiling of £100 million. I should like to ask whether Clause 4 (1) of the Bill does anything to assist in increasing the limit. As I read the clause—it is rather vague—it does not do anything of the kind. Perhaps the noble Lord can answer me when he comes to reply. I do not know whether it is a sort of sleight of hand for getting an increase of the £100 million—I presume it is not. Obviously, there would have to be a Money Resolution. Perhaps the noble Lord will tell us what Clause 4 (1) means, because, on the face of it, it is not very obvious.
I have long suggested to your Lordships, in debates over the past three or four years on the Colonial Development Corporation. that one of the most important ways in which the Corporation could act in various colonial territories is as an agent—that is to say, in cases where work needs to be done and it is impossible to get private enterprise to do it because of its nature, and where it is also impracticable for the Corporation to undertake the work because it may have no prospect of profit in the near future, or indeed in the future at all, though it may be most desirable for that particular work to be done. In this field we have not yet found any solution at all, so far as I am aware, because the Corporation is still expected to make a profit year by year, or over a series of years, and to balance its accounts, and we have no provision in regard to cases in which it is highly unlikely that there will be a profit or where there may be a profit but only after some years.
I have suggested over the years that in such cases we should use Colonial Development and Welfare Funds for the finance and the Colonial Development Corporation as the agent—they can exercise their technical skill and their contracting skill and so on, and do the work. I am not sure, but the point may be covered now in this Bill. I should like 537 to ask the noble Lord whether that is so under the new subsection (2) in Clause 1 which says:For that purpose the said Corporation shall (subject to the following provisions of this section) have power, either alone or in association with other bodies or persons, or as managing agents or otherwise on behalf of other bodies or persons,to carry out particular operations. It seems to me that the words "managing agents" may imply that the Corporation can be used as agents in the way that I have suggested. I recommend that course.
The Labour Party have also recommended this course. They have stated in their Statement of Policy which was passed at the Annual Conference in 1954:The Colonial Development and Welfare Act has made a valuable contribution to the economic and social development of the Colonies. Labour will make increased funds available under the Act. In 1947 the Labour Government set up the Colonial Development Corporation to undertake pioneering work and to promote the diversification of the economies of the Colonies. The rôle of the Corporation should be re-examined in the light of the experience gained. In particular we shall consider how the work of the Corporation can be made to combine more effectively with the Colonial Development and Welfare Schemes so that they complement and supplement each other.I would suggest that this is one way in which the funds under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts could best be applied. In the early clays after 1945, when for a time I was chairman of the committee which decided how the first lot of Colonial Development and Welfare funds should be applied, we had to do a great deal of first aid work. With so many Colonies to consider (all forty-two were crying out for money), much of the need being of a welfare character, we had to spread the butter pretty thinly over the bread. Now that the first aid has been done Colonial Development and Welfare funds ought now to be applied in utilising the Colonial Development Corporation for important work which is going to redound to the economic benefit of the territory as a whole, and in research.
The other way in which I have long suggested to your Lordships that we should utilise the Corporation's activities is in the provision of pilot plants. We all know what difficulties there have been in the past where pilot plants have not been used and where big-scale operations have taken place without them. It is 538 always desirable to run pilot plants, but here again it is necessary to have someone to run them; and a pilot plant is not usually a profitable venture. If one is trying out new methods a lot of money may be lost on a pilot plant. I remember that in Nigeria, for instance, we spent a considerable sum of money trying to find new methods of developing a certain type of agriculture. In the end it was found, after spending several thousand pounds, that the way in which the African farmers had been operating for centuries was best. It might have been said that the money which had been spent there was wasted; but of course it was not, for unless one tests various methods, one cannot tell which are the best. But if the noble Lord, Lord Reith, instead of the Colonial Research Council, had spent that money, and it was afterwards said that all that had been found out was that African farmers were doing the right thing all the time, then I am quite sure the noble Lord would have been under very harsh criticism. Your Lordships can just imagine what some of the popular Press would have said of him for spending, and as they would have said losing, all that money. 'That kind of highly essential expenditure has to be taken out of the noble Lord's hands, to some extent. He has to spend some money on such work, but he cannot spend very much. Here again, I suggest that this is where the Colonial Development and Welfare funds should be used and where the noble Lord, Lord Reith, might come in to do the actual work—and not only Colonial Development and Welfare funds, for I should hope that various colonial Governments which have no colonial development corporations of their own, as well as big municipal bodies, might also use the Colonial Development Corporation as their agents, and for pilot plant operations.
Dealing with the Bill in more detail, I have no doubt that there will be an amending Bill fairly soon, because I am absolutely certain that, with a very detailed Bill such as this is, somebody will have forgotten something; something will have been left out. Because, once one goes away from general terms—and the original Bill was in general terms—and tries to specify every particular act that the Colonial Development Corporation may undertake, every particular duty and function in every area in which they want 539 to operate, then it is obvious that something will have been left out. One cannot possibly foresee every possible contingency. Though I am not a betting man, I will guarantee that within the course of the next two years we shall have at least one amending Bill, and possibly more.
Clause 3, to some extent, seeks to remedy this position, and probably does so with certain classes of enterprise. But we are also concerned with many other things—the powers of the Corporation, and so on—and there is no provision enabling the Secretary of State to help should he feel that there is some power which should have been specified in the Bill but which has been left out. He can only, by order, include a new enterprise within the classes of enterprise with which the Corporation may deal. I consider this is a useful provision, put in at the instance of the Opposition in another place, but frankly I do not think it goes far enough and had there been the possibility of a Committee stage next week I might have put down an Amendment to widen it and to give the Secretary of State even more powers to avoid the possibility that the Corporation may again be ultra vires in some act or other.
In the new subsection (4) in Clause 1, we find an attempt to limit the operation of the Colonial Development Corporation. While the other provisions are attempts to widen its scope, here we have an attempt to limit its scope. I believe that this is not only dangerous but quite unnecessary. After all, the noble Lord, Lord Reith, and the Corporation are not likely to build hospitals, colleges, schools, Government offices and so on, just for the sake of building them. Can your Lordships imagine the scene at a board meeting at Hill Street, when some director comes in and says to the noble Lord, Lord Reith, "I think we ought to build a school in Sierra Leone," and someone else proposes that they should build a hospital in the Gold Coast or wishes to have a Government building put up in Kenya? Is that not absolutely fantastic? What is the use of this subsection? It can only confuse those who have to interpret the Bill. It cannot help them in any way and I cannot see that it will assist the Corporation.
540 Why should Her Majesty's Government fear the Colonial Development Corporation? Of what are they afraid? Are they afraid that the Corporation will proceed to decorate the Colonies with a series of hospitals, schools and other buildings? Why cannot it be left to the ordinary rules, so that if the noble Lord, Lord Reith, wishes to decorate some Colony with a hospital, school or Government building he will have to get finance for it? I imagine, too, that he would have to put up to his Board or the Treasury, or the Secretary of State, a case for providing that facility. It may be that in time to come some of these works may be wanted. At the present moment, Her Majesty's Government cannot foresee what will be required in the future, and I think it is not only insulting to the Board but dangerous to exclude anything from the scope of activities in which the Corporation may engage. Had there been a Committee stage I should therefore have moved to leave out this subsection altogether and to carry on with the remainder.
I will next ask why does the new subsection (5) in Clause 1 relates only to paragraph (f) of the new subsection (3)? I apologise to the House for going into such detail, but this is a detailed Bill.
§ LORD OGMORE
As it reads now, this means that where facilities or services are, or will be, wholly for purposes of communication with a colonial territory, but are, or will be, located or carried on wholly or partly outside that territory and:(a) those facilities or services are, or will be, wholly for communication between that colonial territory and one or more other colonial territories, or(b) the project is approved by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this subsection, the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall apply as those provisions would apply if the facilities or services were wholly within that colonial territory.I do not know what anyone listening to that for the first time would make of it. I take it that it covers a project requiring services or facilities comprehending more than one territory—that is to say, suppose you had a project in Sierra Leone which in fact comprehended territories like the Gold Coast, Nigeria or Gambia, that project would be in order 541 although it was not wholly within Sierra Leone. I take it that that is the meaning. It is to deal with regional services or regional facilities which are in fact located in one particular territory, or where the headquarters are located in one particular territory. I do not know whether I am right, but that is how I read it.
If that is so, I can see the strength of the reasoning. This is very important, because a large number of services may be common services, especially where there is a group of Colonies together, as in East or West Africa. Why, then, is this limited only to paragraph (f) of the new subsection (3) mentioned in Clause 1 (1)? It is not merely a question ofenterprises for providing, maintaining or improving, transport facilities or transport services, or for providing, maintaining or improving telegraph or telephone services, including wireless services other than broadcasting, but not including broadcast relay services.Why have the Government limited it to these? What I should have thought would be a sensible provision would be for the new subsection (5) mentioned in Clause 1 to apply to many other things besides those covered by the new subsection (3) (f). Fisheries is a case in point and, maybe, also the working or getting of minerals. Neither fish nor mines necessarily stop at boundaries. Many minerals may go over a boundary into another place. Certainly fish will do so, because they swim quite happily from one territorial water to another without even knowing that they are infringing any regulations there may be regarding immigration in those particular territories.
My next point is why does the new subsection (6) in Clause 1 (1) relate only to enterprises detailed in paragraph (b) of subsection (3)? Here again we have this question of operating from a base.
Will the noble Lord forgive my interrupting him? I think I can save him a little trouble. He spoke of fisheries, and he used that example as one of the main points in his argument with relation to transport and communications. If he will look at this new subsection (6) I think he will see that it answers his point. Indeed it is a "right and left" and I think it gets both his points. In the case of fisheries it makes it clear that even if a fishing smack going out from a Colony should sail fully 1,000 542 miles away, that does not matter. It does not matter what waters it is in. Its port of destination is considered as the base from the point of view of the Corporation. I think that that answers the noble Lord's other point.
§ LORD OGMORE
I do not think it answers my other point, because it deals only with the new subsection (3) (b). I gave the example of fisheries not so much because I wanted to concern myself with fisheries as because it was an easy example to understand. It is easier to think of fish swimming about from one place to another. Clearly you must have a regional base in a Colony for your regional fishery research organisation or for fishing vessels, or whatever it may be. It does not affect what I said on the general point. I hope that the House will not let the noble Lord ride off on that. The new subsections (5) and (6) take in only the two cases of subsection (3) (b) and (f). There are still industrial enterprises, which are specified in subsection (3) (d). This is a case which is not covered anywhere, so far as I am aware. Industrial enterprises very often operate in more than one territory. The case comes to mind of engineering enterprises. There are others such as purchasing, storing and marketing, building, engineering and so on. If you were making a road, say, from Kenya to Uganda, there would be a point where you would be operating in two territories. Or if you were constructing a road from Uganda into Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Bechuanaland, let us say, you would be operating in six territories. So although my example may have been ill-chosen from the point of view of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, in fact it does not really destroy my argument.
My next point may be regarded as a rather small one, but it is possible that it is rather important. It is the sort of matter about which we may have to come back to the House. That is the definition of minerals. If the noble Lord will look at the new subsection (7) referred to in Clause 1 (1) he will read this:In this section the expression 'minerals' includes any substance in or under land of a kind ordinarily worked for removal by underground or by surface working;…That might seem to cover everything. Actually, I think it does not. You may say that if the mineral is not underground 543 it must be on the surface. As a matter of fact, that is not so. A lot of workings in Malaya, where the Colonial Development Corporation might operate, are tin workings and the tin is dredged. As the hole gets bigger the dredge goes down. The mineral is not actually on the surface and not underground. Or you may have levels driven into the side of a hill, as at the Kilembe Copper Mines in Uganda and other places. You often get them in the side of a hill. This is not really underground in the sense that we understand underground workings. Or take the Enugu coal mines in Nigeria: they are levels. They are neither surface nor underground in the ordinary sense. And I think you may have workings for a number of minerals not normally worked either underground or by surface working. So I think that that matter should be looked at again. Another case that comes to mind is that of the tin mines at Jos in Northern Nigeria. There they wash the tin away from the side of the hill.
Now as to Clause 2. I suggest that this provision which now covers Southern Rhodesia should be extended to all territories now within, or which at any time in the past have been within, the Commonwealth—at any rate for technical assistance, though not necessarily for financial assistance. I think it is essential that that Amendment should be made in due course, though I say nothing more about it to-day. Once you have included Southern Rhodesia, which is not a Colony in the normal sense, there is no reason at all why other Colonies of a like kind, or even more developed territories, should not be in also.
One further point: Clause 2 (3) provides that the Colonial Development Corporation can go into the territory of Southern Rhodesia if the Secretary of State authorises it to do so. From the point of view of elementary courtesy and not through any legal necessity, I should have thought that we might have said,…the Government of Southern Rhodesia and the Secretary of State may authorise the Corporation…because here we have a self-governing Colony, part of a Federation whose Prime Minister attends the Prime Ministers' Conferences here, and to anyone reading the Bill it seems as if the Corporation and the Secretary of State between them can 544 launch out and operate in Southern Rhodesia without question or a "By-your-leave" from the Government of that territory. I should have thought that that was the sort of point that we ought not to miss out from a Bill of this kind. The failure to put it into the Bill may give rise to unpleasantness and ill-feeling on the part of the people in Southern Rhodesia.
Your Lordships will be glad to hear that the next point on which I want to touch—namely, Clause 4(2)—is the last point with which I am going to deal. I find this subsection puzzling. It says this:There may be remitted, in accordance with the provisions of section five of the Overseas Resources Development Act, 1954, the payment of any additional interest which, by reason of the preceding provisions of this Act, the Secretary of State, with the consent of the Treasury, may be empowered to remit under that section.What on earth that means it is difficult to tell. Does "this Act" refer to the Overseas Resources Development Act, 1954, which it should do grammatically and presumably does, or is it intended to mean the present Bill? If it means the former, it means absolutely nothing, and if it means the latter, then it is a question upon which we need some further enlightenment from the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd. I cannot see what the purpose is, unless it be that if the noble Lord, Lord Reith, does not make a success of any of the projects he can operate under the Bill, or of any of the projects in which he has been engaged and which are validated by the Bill, then the Secretary of State can excuse him from interest, if he so decides. But it is very puzzling and I would say that this is another example of how hastily this Bill has been drafted and of the real need for further consideration on Committee stage.
I am sure that noble Lords on this side, and I feel that noble Lords on the other side of the House, too, will want to be assured on the final point which I put to the noble Lord. In the original Act two points loomed large. One came under Section 7, which provided for the Colonial Development Corporation to consult local interests to ensure that it did not engage in activities, or engage in activities in a manner, repugnant to the local people. What steps are being taken by the Corporation to keep in touch with local 545 interests in the way it is enjoined to do under the 1948 Act? The second point was under Section 8, dealing with the interests of employees. This section provided that the Corporation should be a model employer and should look after the welfare of its employees in colonial territories in every possible way. Here again I should like to be assured of the way in which that section is being implemented by the Corporation and how it will be done in the undertakings mentioned in this Bill. I have no other points to make at this stage, except to say that in putting ourselves to some inconvenience to get this Bill through we have done it because we believe in the Corporation, because we wish it well and because we hope that it will do for the people of the colonial territories in which it operates everything that we hoped for when we set it up.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I should like briefly to support the Bill which we are debating on Second Reading this afternoon. In our debate on June 20 I ventured to urge upon your Lordships the great importance of the Government's introducing urgent legislation on the lines of the present Bill, to validate the activities of the Colonial Development Corporation in certain fields in the past arid in the future. On that occasion, I went in detail into a number of the actual projects which had been held up owing to a flaw which had been discovered in the Corporation's powers. I do not propose to go over that ground to-day. It seems to me that the present Bill fills in the details of the Corporation's powers that were generally and rather vaguely defined in the original Act in 1948. Certainly it now makes the position of the Corporation's power quite clear, and it will enable it to develop on a far more satisfactory basis in future.
There are only two points of detail on which I should like to comment. I should have liked to see the opportunity taken in this Bill to change the name of the Corporation, as other noble Lords and I suggested in our last debate. Secondly, I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply whether he can give me any further information on the point I raised in the course of the debate on June 20, when I asked what would be the position in regard to the operations of the Colonial Development Corporation in the Gold 546 Coast should that territory obtain Dominion status within the last year. Now the elections in the Gold Coast have taken place, and it seems very likely that the territory will become independent early in 1957. I should like to know whether Clause 3 (1), which enables the Secretary of State to add classes of enterprises, would include the carrying on of enterprises in the Gold Coast. I am in-dined to think not, but I should be interested to know my noble friend's opinion on that point.
I feel it is right that this Bill should be limited to the particular fields and projects which it was intended to cover and not extended to a number of other aspects of the work of the Corporation to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore referred in his speech, and which he developed in great detail in his last speech. I feel that it would be quite wrong to include them in this Bill.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I say that I agree with the noble Lord? But I would remind him that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, referred in his speech to the points which I have been discussing.
§ LORD COLYTON
I certainly feel that there is a slight dichotomy in the views of the Opposition Front Bench in regard to this Bill, because it seemed to me, listening to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, that he was saying that the Government had been too slow and that it could have been a general Bill to cover this particular problem—
§ LORD COLYTON
—whereas the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, says that the Government have been too hasty, and that they have not gone into enough detail, as I understood that part of his speech which covered what he described as Committee points.
So far as the principles of the Bill are concerned, I think there can be no doubt that they are agreed on both sides of the House. In so far as the action of Her Majesty's Government is concerned in regard to the introduction of this Bill, I feel that they have more than lived up to the undertaking which my noble friend Lord Lloyd gave in our debate on June 20., when he said he hoped the Government would be able to introduce legislation before the end of this Session. I 547 think they are to be congratulated on the speed with which this Bill was put into final shape and taken through all its stages in another place to enable it to be put on the Statute Book before the Summer Recess.
§ LORD OGMORE
May I ask the noble Lord whether he congratulates the Government, also, on bringing in this Bill on the day before we depart for a three months' holiday?
§ LORD COLYTON
I was just coming to that point. Those of us who feel the great importance, from the point of view of the Corporation, of having these activities validated, and getting operations started again in the various territories, think it is essential to get the Bill on to the Statute Book. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has made quite clear in the comments he has just made, it is a most intricate and difficult matter even to cover the limited field of validating what was done in the past and of providing for similar actions in the future. After all, this particular legal flaw was discovered only towards the end of last year. I do not think that, considering the number of authorities concerned in this matter, six months is a very long time in which to get a Bill of this kind into shape. At any rate, Her Majesty's Government have done what we asked them to do when we had our debate some weeks ago; they have brought the Bill forward as quickly as possible in this Session before the Summer Recess, and it is now going into law.
I know that this legislation is eagerly awaited by my noble friend Lord Reith, by his Corporation and by many of the Colonial Governments concerned, such as the Government of the Federation of Nigeria, who want to get on with their housing scheme in Lagos, and the Government of Kenya, who also have their housing scheme. All these things have been held up. Although, admittedly, we should have liked more time to look at the Bill in Committee, I feel certain that in the interests of those most concerned —that is to say, the Corporation and the Colonial Governments on the spot—Her Majesty's Government took the right course in bringing in the Bill now and doing their best to get it through before the Summer Recess. Therefore, I very much hope that your Lordships will be willing not only to give the Bill a Second 548 Reading but to carry it through all its stages this afternoon.
§ 4.4 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has covered a large area and dealt with a number of matters, some connected with the Bill and many more not connected with the Bill. On the general matters, I hope he will forgive me if I do not discuss them all again, because we discussed many of them about three weeks ago: the question of the balance of the Corporation's activities, and a number of similar points of general policy. Therefore, I hope the noble Lord will understand if I deal only with the questions in relation to the Bill. As I said earlier, the Bill is limited in its scope, and it deliberately does not deal with many of the matters mentioned by the noble Lord. He asked a number of questions, and I will do my best to answer each of them—and if I overlook any, I am sure he will remind me.
In general, the noble Lord criticised the form of the Bill, and said that he thought it was a mistake to have it in categorical terms like this, and not in general terms; and he betted that within two years we should have to use the amending provision in the Bill in order to put that matter right. The noble Lord may be right in that, but if he had offered me any odds, I feel that I should have taken them, because in my view we have here a fairly comprehensive Bill, and I shall be surprised if the noble Lord proves to be right. All I can say to the noble Lord is that we had the earlier Act in general terms, and it is because we had it in general terms that we are now in this difficulty. Therefore, to have had this Bill also in general terms would, I should have thought, be rather silly. In any case, we have this saver, and I hope that the fears of the noble Lord will not be realised on that point.
The noble Lord next drew attention to Clause 3 of the Bill, and complained that that did not cover powers, but merely enabled the Secretary of State to add to the list of activities: he said that it was desirable that the Secretary of State should be allowed to add to the powers. With great respect, I should have thought that that was quite unnecessary. If your Lordships look at the powers, you will see that they seem to cover almost anything that any Corporation could do in 549 any circumstances. Although I am prepared to agree that in the catalogue of activities we may have missed something, if the Corporation is going to be allowed to investigate and formulate projects; to carry on undertakings in colonial territories which appear to be needed; to carry on activities incidental to those projects which appear to be requisite; to assist other bodies or persons either financially or in any other way; to establish or expand, or promote the establishment or expansion of, other bodies, I do not see what more powers any Corporation could have.
§ LORD OGMORE
How does the noble Lord know? The best advice that we had on the Bill that was formulated in 1948 was that everything had been covered; and much the same people gave the advice then as are now giving the Government advice. All I say is: why does the noble Lord not make the subsection cover powers as well as classes of enterprise? He does not know whether any more powers will be needed. It is quite simple to put in an Amendment here to include powers, as well as classes of enterprise, and I should have thought that it was reasonable.
I see the point of the noble Lord's argument. I think there is a slight difference. You can give people powers which are so wide that they cannot be expanded. That is why we have done it in this way. We may be right. or we may be wrong—I do not pretend that I can be certain—but I think the clause is reasonable. However, if I am wrong, no doubt the noble Lord will remind me on another occasion—and I am sure he will not forget to do that.
The next point is the limitations in the new subsection (4); that is to say, the limitations on the Corporation which prevent them from undertaking social services—that is what it boils down to. The noble Lord said that this limitation was unnecessary. He could not see my noble friend going round and building schools and hospitals—in fact, he suggested that I had insulted the Corporation by putting this in. I cannot see that. It seems to me that what my noble friend Lord Reith wants is a clear indication from the Government of what he has to do, and what he is not allowed to do. Certainly that is what I should want if I were in his 550 position. We have done our best to give him that. We have set out not only all the things the Corporation can do but also some things that we should like it not to do. We do not think the Corporation ought to do these things except in certain instances where it happens to be, in its other capacity, a contractor. What we say is: "If you are a contractor you can build a hospital, but if you are not, you must not go round building hospitals—that is a job of Government—and you must not go round building schools". That seems to me a perfectly reasonable direction to give to anybody. I hope my noble friend Lord Reith is not insulted, because that is the last thing we intended to do; but I do not believe he is. It seems to me that we have given him, for the first time, clear instructions.
§ LORD OGMORE
How has the noble Lord, Lord Reith, managed to operate all these years if he has had no instructions'? Would the noble Lord really consider it necessary, with a huge Corporation like this, to say that it must not build something which. it has no intention of building?
If the Corporation has no intention of doing it, I cannot see there is any harm in telling it not to. But if it has an intention, and we do not want it to do so, I think it is a good thing that it should be told. That is the only answer I can give the noble Lord on this point.
§ LORD OGMORE
It is a very poor answer. This is what comes of trying to take this Bill in a hurry on the last day of the Session. If we had had a Committee stage I should have put down Amendments and they would have been properly debated, instead of this airy-fairy way of brushing them aside.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, with regard to this question about thus being almost the last day of this part of the Session, I regret the position as much as the noble Lord or anybody else. When the matter was raised last week, as has already been explained, I communicated immediately with the Opposition, and told them that if they had ally objection—the slightest objection—I should be very ready to agree that the later stages should be postponed. It was convenient that we should 551 get this Bill through, and I was bound to put it before the Opposition. But I gave them every possible opportunity of saying that, if they did not want it taken through all stages to-day, that should not be done. Therefore, I think it is a little unfair of the noble Lord to make this complaint. Whether he was consulted or not I do not know, but I did my best to consult the Opposition.
§ LORD OGMORE
I first knew of this matter on Friday evening. I was asked to do everything possible—and I have done it at considerable personal inconvenience—to take the Bill on Tuesday. I agreed to take it on Tuesday, so that the noble Lord, Lord Reith, could have it. That was the sole point. It was for his sake, because he definitely wanted the Bill. I made all my arrangements, at considerable inconvenience, to be here yesterday afternoon. Your Lordships know that we are not paid in this House. Some of us have to earn our own living, and I altered all my arrangements to be here yesterday afternoon. I was then told, yesterday morning, that the Bill was not coming on in the afternoon, but was coming on to-day. Really, when one is put to considerable inconvenience like that, I do not regard the manner of the noble Lord in dealing with these points as a proper manner for a Minister to adopt.
My Lords, I think the noble Lord is not being quite fair. I have given him a perfectly civil answer, although he may not agree with it. I am not quite clear what it is in the answer to which the noble Lord is objecting. What we have tried to do is to give the noble Lord, Lord Reith, a clear directive. I do not know whether the noble Lord is suggesting that the Corporation should themselves enter into social services. If he is, then there is a clear difference of policy between Her Majesty's Government and noble Lords opposite. I never understood that to be their intention. I can assure the noble Lord that I do not treat this Bill lightly in any way at all. I thought I had given him a fair answer. Our view is that the Corporation should not indulge in these activities. I do not think it was ever the view of anybody that it should, and, that being the case, we say: let us state 552 it quite clearly in the Bill. We are trying to get this matter clear.
§ LORD OGMORE
If I may say so, I have had far greater connection with this matter than the noble Lord, because I had a lot to do with the formulation of the Colonial Development Corporation, and I have been in contact with it ever since. Ever since it was formed there has been a clear distinction between the work of the Corporation and the Colonial Development Welfare Fund. The fact that the Corporation may not engage in welfare is stated quite clearly in the 1948 Act—I have read it to-day. In my view, it is quite unnecessary to put this in, and I have yet to learn that it is a good thing to put in Acts of Parliament something which is entirely unnecessary and redundant. It seems to me that it only leads to trouble.
§ LORD COLYTON
Before my noble friend continues, may I draw the noble Lord's attention to one point? Travelling through the colonial territories, one has often heard criticism of the Colonial Development Corporation. Very often the critics end up their argument by saying, "Surely, it would be much better if this money were taken from the Colonial Development Corporation and given, together with its functions, to the Colonial Governments themselves operating through the Colonial Development Welfare Funds." I have heard that argument in Africa, in the West Indies, and elsewhere. If it is a fact that there are such objections—if it is said that it would be much better to wind up the Colonial Development. Corporation and hand over its functions and money to the Colonial Governments themselves—surely there is advantage in having the functions of the two bodies clearly delimited. Surely, that is an advantage from the point of view of people who support the Corporation.
Perhaps I may return to the charge. I am sorry if I have not satisfied the noble Lord, but I beg him to believe that I do not regard anything that he has asked me as frivolous. If I state my points of view frankly, I state them frankly. Having taken the view that it was right to put this in, we have done 553 so, and I am sorry that I cannot carry the noble Lord with me.
I come to his next point. He asked why the new subsection (5) in Clause 1 was confined to paragraph (f) of the new subsection (3). The reason why that was done is because, in our view, the provisions of subsection (5) could not apply to anything except transport facilities or transport services, and communications generally If the noble Lord will look at the definition of, "transport" in the new subsection (7) he will see that it meanstransport by land, by water or by air, and references to transport facilities include roads, bridges, railways, waterways and other transport installations.Therefore, it covers roads and all things of that sort, which is the point the noble Lord made. The real point of it is that, supposing you have, let us say, a bus service run by the Colonial Development Corporation which starts in a colonial territory and runs into a foreign country, the question then arises whether that is mainly for the advantage of the foreign country or mainly for the advantage of the colonial territory. In fact, it serves both. This provision is put in to enable the Corporation to carry out services which go outside the colonial territory or into one or more colonial territories, and to enable them to do that if it is in the interests of the Colonies concerned. If you have industrial enterprises you may have a subsidiary factory or something that will be in a different territory, which means two different enterprises. That would be covered by the new subsection (2). I think that is an answer to the noble Lord's question, and I hope he will find it satisfactory.
The noble Lord raised the question of fishing. I am sorry that I interrupted him on that, but the point is covered by the new subsection (6) in Clause 1, which defines that, wherever a fishing vessel may be, or any part of that enterprise, the enterprise itself is defined and related to its base in whichever colonial territory that base is situated. Then the noble Lord made a point about minerals. He said that he did not think the definition of "minerals" in the new subsection (7) was wide enough. The noble Lord gave us the example of tin. I know he is quite right: tin can be mined out of the side of a hill. But tin is already itself a 554 mineral. Therefore, since it is itself a mineral, it does not need this definition. The object of this definition is to try to cover substances which might not at first sight appear to be minerals. Tin would not be a case in point. We think that this is broad enough, if these two ideas are taken in conjunction with one another.
Then the noble Lord asked me whether Clause 4 (1) in point of fact. provided any additional finance for the Corporation. He was talking about the £100 million. The answer is No, it does not. It is purely in order to transfer the £100 million already allowed out of the original Act and make it comply with these provisions here. Clause 4 (2) is the same. Under the Act of 1954, the noble Lord will remember that the interest on any advances attributable to losses could be written off. This Bill, in our view, extends the power of the Corporation. Therefore it might be held that it would extend the area of losses. In order to make provision that interest on any extra losses incurred by the operation of this Bill should also be written off, this subsection (2) has to be brought in here to put the Corporation straight. Otherwise, supposing they made a loss under one of these housing activities which are now authorized, unless this provision was included they could not write off the loss.
I think those are all the questions I was asked by the noble Lord except for two important and general points. First of all, he asked me about the provisions in Section 7 of the original 1948 Act which dealt with consultation with colonial Governments. The noble Lord asked me for an assurance that that was being done. I can give him that. assurance. The normal procedure of the Corporation is always to work in the closest consultation with colonial Governments, and obviously, if they can, they consult with any other bodies there who happen to be interested in their particular scheme. They must do that in order to carry out their job.
§ LORD OGMORE
I thought that under the original Act consultation was meant to be a little more specific than that; that they were supposed to have consultation with representative bodies in the territories with which they were concerned.
§ LORD OGMORE
I am speaking from memory, but I thought they had something like a consultative council, as we have in this country in regard to the B.B.C., gas, electricity, and so on. I have in mind that the Corporation were expected under the Bill to have consultation with official bodies of that kind. I am speaking from memory; I may be wrong.
Section 7 (1) of the 1948 Act says:In determining their policy as to the activities to be carried on by them in any territory…the Corporation shall have particular regard to the interests of the inhabitants of the territory, and shall appoint Committees charged with the duty of studying and keeping the Corporation informed as to the circumstances and requirements of the inhabitants.…So far as I know, that is done. I have never heard that it was not, but I will check that and let the noble Lord know in writing. I think it is provided for in that particular provision. The information is in the knowledge of a noble Lord behind me on my right, but I cannot ask him as he is not allowed to speak on these occasions. I think it is done. I know /the Corporation take a great deal of trouble to keep in close touch with Governments and all concerned. It is in their interests to do so. Then the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me whether the provisions as to safety, health and welfare of persons in the employment of the Corporation were carried out. To the best of my knowledge they are. I can give the noble Lord that assurance.
The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, deplored the fact that the Bill did not change the name of the Corporation as was suggested. I am sorry not to be able to give a final answer about this. The matter is under consideration, and that is all I can say. Then he asked me about the change in the Gold Coast and in particular whether Clause 3 (1) was intended to cover that. I am afraid the answer is that it does not. On the general question, this raises a major issue of policy as the Gold Coast and other territories come nearer to independence. As I told the noble Lord on the last occasion 556 when we debated this subject, my right honourable friend is having a number of consultations on this point to decide what should ultimately be done. I am afraid I am not in a position to make any further statement on the matter at the moment, but as soon as we have something definite to announce we shall, of course, do so. I have tried to deal with all the specific points which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised, but he will forgive me if I do not deal with the wider ones to-day because we have debated those already. I am most grateful to noble Lords of the Opposition for their assistance on this Bill. I hope that we can now read the Bill a second time.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a; Committee negatived.
§ Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution), Bill read 3a, and passed.