HL Deb 27 April 1959 vol 215 cc985-6

2.35 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Perth.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

On Question, whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?


My Lords, when we had the Second Reading debate on this Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, asked one or two questions on Clause 4 and I gave, if I may put it that way, rather snap answers, and said that if in any way I wanted to correct them I would do so on the Committee stage. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, asked whether Exchequer loans came under this clause, and whether as a result they would not, in the event of a country's becoming independent, stop, as it were, in mid-air and be cut off. I gave the right answer —that they would not be cut off—but for the wrong reason. In fact, these Exchequer loans do not come under Clause 4; they come under Clause 2. Under Clause 2 the Exchequer loans are somewhat different in form from the Colonial Development and Welfare loans; that is to say, they come from the Consolidated Fund, and they can continue to be drawn upon, if need be, after a territory has become independent, though of course administratively one would be careful to try to avoid breaking what I would call the spirit of the original Vote.

On the other hand, so far as the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds are concerned, they are dealt with under an annual Parliamentary Vote; they come under the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and are specifically related to dependent territories. At the same time, if there were a question of danger of their being cut off, I can give the assurance that in fact that would not arise. As was said in another place by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, our policy will be to make available to the newly independent Commonwealth country any sums committed to approved schemes which may remain unissued at the time of independence. But we should provide these sums through the Commonwealth Services Vote, as, for example, is done in the case of the Federation of Malaya, and not under the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote which relates to dependent territories only.

Turning now to Clause 4, I think I might make the position clear in a little more detail. Subsection (3) of that clause in the present Bill enables payment of monies under the Colonial Development and Welfare schemes to be made to newly independent countries after independence so as to adjust the accounts in relation to the period prior to independence. That is necessary since these monies are claimed, usually quarterly, after the expenditure has been incurred. The new subsection (4B) also provides for the original scheme to continue; or a new regional scheme can be made, notwithstanding that one of the participating countries is or becomes independent, provided that the independent country pays its share of the cost. In a word, subsections (4A) and (4B) do not represent new policy but rather a codification of existing policy.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported without amendment.

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