HL Deb 06 June 1962 vol 241 cc633-66

3.48 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, being not entirely familiar with the procedure of your Lordships' House I thought that in the last few minutes there had been a declaration and that it had occurred just before I was due to bat. I think we go on now with the debate on birth control, and I should like to offer my respectful congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, whom I cannot directly address owing to the position of my microphone but who, with his resounding voice, certainly raised the subject above the furtive level.

I want to begin by saying that I recognise the problem which he has put and sympathise with the Government to whom he has put it to-day. I came in feeling, as other noble Lords have expressed it, that we were perhaps out of order in addressing ourselves to a subject concerning the peoples of Asia, but I remember that the noble Lord in his speech said most emphatically that his friends in India, I believe Mr. Nehru and others, had been pressing for this matter to be examined in the United States, and therefore from the point of view of people at the top it seems quite fitting that it should have been done. However, I share the misgivings of other noble Lords who have implied that we are telling other people to limit their population. I have a strong feeling that we, and even the leaders in India, might find ourselves in the position of certain Victorians in this country when they said to themselves quietly over the port, "What can we do to prevent the lower orders breeding so rapidly like rabbits?"; and that is the kind of expression I have heard. We have in this country and in Europe, so far as I can make out, multiplied our population in the last 250 years about ten-fold, and our wealth also ten-fold. But for the increase in the population it would not have been possible to raise that wealth. It seems to me that we are preaching that others should operate in a different order. What seems to have happened with us was that we multiplied in poverty, we organised our power and resources in intelligence and made people better off and then they had smaller families. That was the order in which it occurred.

I share the misgivings with regard to the speed at which this pill, even if it is desirable, can be discovered. It does not exist, and twenty years seems a short time for the experiment to take place. Then these people have to be taught how to manage it, how to distinguish between one pill and another. I have lived amongst primitive peoples; there is the heat and the flies, the endemic malaria and the dysentry, their needs, which are so great, and the squalor and burden of life. It seems to me that if we take twenty, fifty, sixty, a hundred years as the time by which the increase can be halted we are being exceedingly optimistic.

Meantime people are alive to-day and people will come into being regardless of what happens. Even if we are successful with the pill beyond our dreams—those who have dreams about it—people will come in and exist. As regards numbers, I have no objection to Indians multiplying exceedingly; I like Indians; I like Africans. It seems to me we have not made the point in this debate that it is not absolute numbers or absolute over-population which is in question; it is the relationship between people, food, power. These things are interrelated. It does not matter if the coloured peoples of this world come to number a hundred to every white man. That does not worry me in the slightest, and it is most likely to happen. What is important is the relationship between the resources on earth and the people. It has been said by everybody, I think, who described it that we have had a population explosion, and an explosion is something which comes and rises to a peak and then dies away. I do not believe anybody expects that the rate of increase everywhere will go on throughout the world. If it does, as the United Nations experts have predicted, in 600 years there will be a square metre per person. It is not expected, even if there is no such pill.

Meanwhile, people are alive, and some time or other I hope we may have a debate in which a less one-sided study of the problem should be embarked upon. The earth has resources in space; there are under-populated areas. I read only a day or two ago of the insoluble problem of American farm surpluses, in spite of dust bowls 50 million acres in extent, and of thousands of millions of dollars spent in holding surplus wheat while people starve elsewhere. There are unpopulated and under-populated areas in America, Canada, Brazil, Borneo, New Guinea and elsewhere, almost all over the world. Movements of people can take place in emergency, and they do. That is one of the things that might be done. The squandering of the earth's resources in erosion, as I have seen in Africa and America, can be stopped; it can be reversed.

There is also power. I might call attention to a book by my right honourable friend and kinsman, Mr. Philip Noel-Baker, a book which won him the Nobel Peace Prize. On pages 96 and 116 of that book he dwells upon the new sources of power which are beyond any dreams we have ever had. For example, deuterium in the oceans, if it can be harnessed other than in an explosive context, is available in such abundance to provide for 1,000 million years power many times greater than we use at present. This is the threshold of new things at which we stand. As regards the application of that power, he quotes an English authority as saying it would be reasonable to expect that sea water could be distilled for the irrigation of Australia at 5s. per million gallons. An American calculates that at present standards, with such irrigation, Australia could hold a population of 200 million. On Indian standards that would be about 1.600 million, or half the population of the world as it is to-day. I hope that sometime this problem of population will be considered in its balanced context, as, I submit, it has not been to-day. I should like to say two things as regards the question of the limiting of families. First, in going about among primitive peoples one cannot help but be exceedingly sorry and wish for a change in the status of women and their children. In many primitive countries they are nothing much better than slaves, and it is an improvement of their status which is required. A family of more sensible size would then come about. Instead of marrying at ten, it should be eighteen. There is no room in Africa, for instance, for the spinster. I have female relatives, getting on in years, who, like Dorcas, are full of good works. They have no families, but they have a place. There is no such place for spinsters in many parts of the world. Then there is the question of the spacing of children.

May I give an illustration of a tribe in Africa where this limitation is practised? One way, which would be, I think, approved by everybody in this House, is used by the Borana, who have tribal customs whereby the husband may have no intercourse with his wife during the weaning of her children, which lasts for two years. That means that there must be a space of three years between the wife's children. There is no intercourse between unmarried people, and any man who seduces an unmarried girl is liable, or was until after occupation by other empires, to punishment, even the punishment of death. There were three crimes which warranted the death penalty in this tribe: murder, intercourse with unmarried girls, and intercourse with the wife who was weaning her baby. These habits of abstinence are not peculiar to highly refined Christians; they are found everywhere, and the things we have done in Africa which are not so good have damaged the systems which held the tribes together. It is true that in some other tribes different customs prevail for which we should not care so much, or at least some people would not, but they resemble the contraceptive methods in use in this country.

I should like to say how much I agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, said about the risks of this pill. There is one thing only in connection with it that I should like to say—namely, that it seems to me that, if it were developed, one might produce a solution welcome to a great many people other than herself. Even then, according to what she says and what I have heard, there is this bombardment and interference with the process of ovulation. It sounds, on the face of it, the wrong line to pursue as a scientific study, in view of the fact that the rhythm has its periods of low fertility which perhaps, with the aid of drugs or more scientific knowledge, could be more accurately ascertained than it is at present. I do not believe that the use of relative abstinence or contraceptives can be practised without discipline and education. The only way I differ from the noble Baroness is that I think education cannot come in utter squalor; you must have wealth first.

Therefore I would say that our contribution to the East is the contribution that the wealthy must bestow on the less wealthy by means of trade and capital investment. I do not agree with those who say that it is entirely the affair of these countries. I am doubtful whether that can be proved, established practically, at any time. We in this country have experienced the clamour for fair shares between those who have less and those who have much. I feel certain that this clamour is going to be transposed into the field between struggling Asia and the wealthy West; and that unless help on a massive scale is forthcoming—by "massive scale" I mean something like sacrificing half of our progress in the next 25 years, involving all the countries of the West—I do not think we can justify ourselves in preaching to them doctrines of birth control. They come asking us for capital, for bread, and we give them a pill. That does not seem to be right.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has said, the population problem is second only to the problem of disarmament in urgency and in the extent and importance of its implications, and in some respects it is more complex. Although as President of the Family Planning Association I am particularly concerned with one method of dealing with it, it is in my view essential to look at all the aspects of the problem; and if this debate does no more than draw more attention to a crisis in human affairs which is going to determine the future course of civilisation, it will serve a useful purpose. But I hope it will do more than that, and that Her Majesty's Government may be persuaded that they have some responsibility in this matter and should take some action.

As we have heard, the population of the world is now increasing more rapidly than ever before. Any estimate is necessarily to some extent speculative, but it is as likely to be too low as too high. At present, the world's population increases at the rate of about 50 million people a year—that is to say, since this debate began 5,000 additional mouths to feed have been added to it. On a minimum estimate made in a United Nations study, the present world population of about 3,000 million is likely to be about 6,000 million in the year 2,000. Why is this happening? As we have heard, it is because the great advances which have been made in preventive medicine are saving millions of lives, and not only is the expectation of life prolonged but millions who would have died survive to have children. We must face the fact that, whatever can be done, much of this increase in population is inevitable, simply because, owing to the spread of preventive medicine, developing countries tend to have a high proportion of children and young people in their populations, and even if these young people themselves have only small families such populations will still increase substantially.

The primary problem, clearly, is to feed this growing mass of people, and since the need for birth control is primarily related to the need to avert starvation and disease I must give some consideration to the food problem. The main facts are substantially agreed by all authorities. The first is that we do not start from scratch. We have to cater for this expanding population at a time when a large proportion of people already alive are getting too little to eat. Dr. Norman Wright, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said to the British Association in 1960: Even if food production did continue to keep pace with population, the present production figures are themselves related to diets which are so deficient as to lead to the undernutrition or malnutrition of a large proportion of the world's population. It is not easy to discover accurately how large this proportion is, but it is so large that a considerable error one way or the other would make little difference. Dr. Sukhatme, of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said last year that between one-third to one-half of the world's people suffer from under-nutrition or malnutrition. Under-nutrition is not getting enough to eat, and malnutrition is, in addition, getting such an ill-balanced diet as to lead to disease and physical inefficiency. These are statistical calculations, but they stand for men, women and children; and one can never utter that abstract word "malnutrition" in the same way again after having visited villages and hospitals in the developing countries and seen it in terms of human misery and disease. It would be a tough assignment to raise the standard of living of those already alive without having, as we do, to feed 100 more people a minute.

Sukhatme calculates that should population grow according to the United Nations medium forecast the world's total food supplies would have to be doubled by 1980 and trebled by the turn of the century in order to provide a reasonably adequate level of nutrition for the peoples of the world. What is the prospect that this can be done? Here let me quote an agricultural expert, Professor H. D. Kay: If the amounts of home-grown plus imported food supplies are rising at all in the underdeveloped countries, they are rising at a rate well below the net rate of population increases. While the export of surplus food from one country to another is obviously extremely valuable, it hardly touches the essential problem. To quote Professor Kay again: The only practical short-to-medium range solution to the hunger problem for the majority of the underfed countries is greatly to increase human food production from their own acreage. That means, of course, education and a change in cultural traditions as well as technical aids to agriculture and better roads, all of which take time. Professor W. A. Lewis, speaking in the same symposium, said that India will not be able to grow enough food for her own population but will have to import more and more food for as far ahead as we can see, and pay for it by exporting manufactures. If that is true, India's future food supply depends upon industrialisation, which is very difficult for a country already struggling to make its food supplies catch up with its population. The Indian Ministry of Health has published a Report of its Health Survey and Planning Committee, which says: It will be seen that at the present rate of growth, at the end of 25 years the population increase would be of the order of 102 per cent. as against 13.5 per cent. increase in income. Even with a 50 per cent. reduction in rate of population growth between 1966 and 1981 the increase in income will still not catch up with the increase in population. That, my Lords, is an outline of the world's food problem. Food production is clearly the first and most urgent need, but I cannot share the optimism of those who say that we need not bother to restrict population growth as well. Let me quote again from Professor Kay. In his view It is essential to combine increasing food production with a diminishing birth rate". Let me also complete my quotation from the Report of the Indian Ministry of Health: The Family Planning Programme has rightly come to occupy the key position in the Five-Year Health Plans. It is true that birth control implies other things, education and acceptability especially. But the fact that some remote and primitive regions are not yet ready for it does not mean that it is not desperately needed elsewhere, especially in the towns. In Singapore, for example, the average birth rate is 44 per 1,000, compared with 16 in the United Kingdom. As the population is one million, that means 44,000 births a year. The Government of Singapore not only gives grants to the Family Planning Association there, but it has conducted its own campaign to give the subject the maximum publicity.

But, my Lords, the population question is not solely a matter of food for the body. Unless population growth is controlled, millions of people will continue to live in physical conditions in which the full development of man's spiritual nature, and even his education, are impossible. I agree heartily with the noble Baroness when she stresses the importance of education as a factor. But how, in the housing conditions of a seething and squalid Asian city, is a child to do its homework? Why, it may be asked, should we do anything? Some political and economic reasons have already been mentioned which I shall not go over again, but I would mention one which particularly concerns me, and which must surely concern all of us: population conditions in Asia breed epidemics which air travel brings it to this country in 24 hours. John Donne said: "No man is an island". Nor is any country, paradoxically not even this one. Does it need smallpox to prove that any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankinde? What, then, can we do? Let me begin by emphasising a point which noble Lords have already made as to what we ought not to do, and I am sure that any attempt to dictate population from outside is very rightly resented. What any country does about its population is primarily its own concern. Help is likely to be accepted only when it is asked for. But right action presupposes knowledge, knowledge in many fields, and that knowledge is still very largely lacking. Here I do not think we can separate our policy at home from our attitude to the developing Commonwealth countries. We are perhaps hardly likely to do for them what we are unwilling to do for ourselves. And surely it cannot be right that in this country the State should take no interest in birth control. Contraception has entered a phase of rapid advance. It is a subject of the greatest social and personal importance, increasingly related to physiology and medicine, and we have to depend for research upon a small private fund and the pharmaceutical industry, and to rely for the clinical testing of these new and powerful biochemical agents upon a voluntary association to which the State contributes neither guidance nor money.

I am very glad that the noble Lady raised the question about the pill, and particularly that she quoted the Lancet article. This is not the place to discuss these complicated technical questions, but there are three things I would say. The first is that all the information which the Lancet article contained was known to the Association before it expressed the view that the pill was safe to use under the conditions which it laid down. And of course, we did not take that step without obtaining the best advice we could. We have an Advisory Medical Council whose membership includes two endocrinologists and several distinguished gynæcologists, and I can confirm that it had the advantage of discussing the whole question with Sir Charles Dodds. The second point is this. Surely the best way to exclude long-term ill-effects is to keep a careful watch for any short-term reactions, and this is being done.

My third comment is that in this new field, where much is still unknown, the course of events has imposed on the Family Planning Association a great responsibility. Is it not time that the State shared it? Is it not time that Her Majesty's Government, in the interests equally of this country and of those abroad who look to us for guidance, actively encouraged research into human fertility, with all its biological, physiological, medical and social implications? I particularly welcome the words of the right reverend Prelate, and I share his hope that such research may be conducted on the widest possible lines. The potentialities of human science at this time are so great that it may well be that the future will hold methods of contraception which will in fact prove morally acceptable.

So I would urge the Government to hold a watching brief on the clinical tests of all contraceptives, or, better still, to sponsor such tests themselves. And is it not time that they gave a lead to the World Health Organisation, which can hardly much longer shut its eyes to the fact that population is a major factor in world health? All I ask is that Her Majesty's Government should encourage the search for knowledge, which should be available to all countries that want it; and that, surely, is the answer to any possible charges of genocide. The urgency of the problem, my Lords, is of our own making. We who are of the Western tradition have carried hygiene, preventive medicine, and curative drugs all over the world, and made the growth of population inevitable. Should we not now, in the same spirit of humanity, use all the resources of science to avert the reproach that we have freed men from disease only to let them die of hunger?

4.21 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is particularly fortunate that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, in framing his Motion did so in such words that this debate has not been confined solely to the ques- tion of family planning or contraception. The actual wording, as your Lordships will remember, is: To ask Her Majesty's Government … what they propose to do to stimulate scientific research in the United Kingdom towards a socially acceptable solution of the problem". That gives a very wide field to cover, and several noble Lords have taken full advantage of it; in particular, the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, with whom I found myself in very strong agreement.

It surely must be a confession of complete failure on the part of our civilisation and the Western way of life if in fact we admit that we want fewer people in this world. Setting aside all the religious aspects of the question, what is the point of having people born into this world? If a man produces more than he consumes, the world must be, materially at least, a better place. It is only if he consumes more than he produces that the world is poorer. If a man gives greater happiness than he creates unhappiness, the world must be a happier place, and therefore a better place, the more people there are in the world. So there can be no justification, surely, for our saying; "Let us have a world where there are fewer people rather than more people". We can say that only if at the same time we are saying: "We are denying, or our way of life is denying, to the people who are going to be born into this world the possibility of contributing something, whether it is material or whether it is on a somewhat higher plane".

So I think we must direct our thoughts in this problem, at any rate, as a long-term project, not towards restricting the number of people who are born but rather towards ensuring that, no matter in what part of the world they are born, they have the full potentialities and possibilities that we have in this country and, on the whole, in this Continent. That does not mean to say that we should turn our backs entirely on any form of family planning or even on any form of contraception. It is, unfortunately, true that at this stage we are out of step, and, as I understood it, that was one of the major points of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. We have, now reached a stage where population is increasing faster than the possibilities to create wealth and to lead a happy life. So it may well be that as a temporary step we must do research into, and make possible for others, some form of restriction of birth. But I am very sure that what several noble Lords have said is perfectly right: that from the purely practical and political point of view, for us to act in any way which might be thought to be, or could be represented as, pushing our ideas of family limitation upon the countries of Asia while not practising it in our own country and in Europe, would be an extremely unwise thing for us to do.

By all means, let us do research; let us find out the best ways; and let us make the results of that research available to others. But, again—and I am quoting the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge—the decision must be left to the country itself as to whether or not it is going to make use of that knowledge. The worst of all things would be if, having made our investigations, having continued our research into how this family limitation should be done, we then said: "We have achieved our purpose, and we need do no more about it at all". We are only just beginning. That is only a temporary expedient, to overcome the immediate and very serious problem.

From then on, what are the things that we must do? As the noble Lord, Lord Brain, said, food is one of the fundamental requirements. Undoubtedly more food must be produced. I am not so pessimistic as some about that. The potentialities of the world as a whole are almost limitless. One has only to fly over such places as Brazil, the Amazon valley, to see hundreds of thousands of square miles of potentially fertile soil, which could grow food. The soil is there. The people are somewhere. But it cannot be done easily, and it cannot be done as we are attempting to do it at the present time. It will mean a complete re-thinking and a complete abandonment of many of our existing ideas.

There, again, I think that the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, was very right when he drew the analogy of our Victorian fathers, pointing to the poorer classes and their proliferation. The answer to that problem was not birth control. In fact, the answer was—coupled with education, which probably comes first—a redistribution of wealth, so that more of what was produced was spread among the people who formerly had less. We have gone a long way in this country—not far enough, but we have gone far. But when we look at the world as a whole we have scarcely started at all. Any solution that may be achieved in this matter, can come only if the rich countries of the world—and we are one of them—are prepared not only to practise voluntary charity in the world as a whole, as our Victorian parents and grandparents did and as, to some extent, we are doing now, but to submit ourselves to the international Welfare State, rather than the national Welfare State. Without that there can be no real solution to this problem.

The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, would undoubtedly say that this is just starry-eyed idealism and will get us nowhere. I am not such a disbeliever in idealism. I think it is something that we should aim at; that we should know, ourselves. But we should not "kid" ourselves into thinking that, just because we see the ideal, it will automatically arrive without any effort. We must be practical in achieving our ideals; but do not let us throw our ideals away because we are so proud of being practical men of business.


My Lords, I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment to point out that I understand the essence of an ideal is that it should be unattainable.


My Lords, I will not attempt to enter into any argument with the noble Lord on that line, philosophical or otherwise, but I must say that, although I myself do not have very great expectation of achieving any of my ideals, I think they are attainable; and I think the same is true in our more corporate and social existence as a society—I hope, a civilised society.

However, to come back to the more practical position of what we can do now, and what, in the terms of the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, Her Majesty's Government can do now, I would suggest that there is one specific thing which could be done at the present time, and that is for Her Majesty's Government to sponsor, by making funds available, at some suitable place of learning in this country, something which might be called an institute of demographic research. They have such a thing at Harvard, which is doing very useful work indeed. In this country we have many individual departments doing research work into ecological, nutritional, economic and public health problems; but there is nothing which ties those things together, co-ordinates them and helps them direct the form of research which should take place, or which utilises the results of such research as has already taken place.

There are many of them, clearly, which deal with the technical agricultural problems which are involved, and much work of that kind is already going on; but they should also carry out a far more detailed and knowledgeable study than we have at the present time of systems of land ownership, share cropping, of the rôle of the moneylender in underdeveloped areas and the various other very important but detailed matters which anyone who has any knowledge at all of the underdeveloped areas to-day knows play such a very important part in proper utilisation of the soil and the proper growing of crops. That is one of the items which should be studied with far more intensity than it is at present.

There is the whole question of nutrition, not purely from the point of view of the building up of the body but from that of the effect of nutrition on the reproductive system: whether in fact an excess of carbohydrate does, as some people assert, tend to a higher reproduction rate, or whether a high protein diet leads to rather smaller families. Matters of that sort should be studied. The question of leisure in such countries as we are talking about now cannot be ignored, either. What is the effect of leisure of a cultural kind upon reproduction? I believe, and I think that most people who have had experience of such countries would agree, that, on the whole, the birth rate tends to drop the more leisure people have of a cultural kind. What the relationship is, I do not know. It may be entirely fortuitous, but it may be an important factor in helping to solve this problem.

Of course, at the basis of it all is the genuine education of all the people involved: simply learning to read and write, learning how to understand what possibilities and potentialities the outside world offers, and learning as well the purely technical matters of health, hygiene, agricultural techniques and all the rest of it. That, my Lords, I believe to be a small but very definite step forward that could be taken by Her Majesty's Government, if they were so minded, at the present time.

I know that it is difficult, as things are to-day; and, having listened to the debate on Government Assistance to Universities and to the Government's views on the shortage of the money we now have to spend on even our own education, I realise it may be a hopeless task to try to persuade the Government that they should make available funds for the setting up of some now institution; but if on this issue we are in any way serious, if we are in any way anxious to see our ideals become, even in small measure, a practical reality, we must make the sacrifice of a few million pounds from this great and rich country to start studies of this kind. They will not be of benefit immediately, perhaps, to ourselves, but they will be of benefit to so many people in so many parts of the world who are completely incapable, in this respect at least, of helping themselves. Although we may not as a result of this debate receive from the noble Duke an assurance that something of this sort will be done, I hope we shall at least be given the assurance that serious thought will be given to co-ordinating such research and knowledge as there is; to deciding the priorities of fresh research; and, above all, to doing ever more research on these matters.

4.37 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for initiating a debate on a subject which affects, or could affect, so many millions of our fellow human beings. Whether or not we agree with his views—and, on the whole, his views have not been generally accepted—we must all applaud his sincerity; and I, at any rate, envy him his delivery, from which I think a good many of us in this House could draw considerable profit. I should like to endorse everything that my noble friend Lord Walston has said, and I would single out three points that he made simply to repeat them to the House in view of their great importance.

There was the stress he laid upon his idea of a demographic institute; his stress of an international Welfare State; and, above all, his insistence that human life is good, that a large population is better than a small one. There, I side with him absolutely. To me, a human being is someone of infinite value, and I hope that humanists can accept that along with Christians. I hope that no one will disagree with the view that it is better to have 600 million human beings somewhere rather than 300 million if the quality of the life is at any rate no worse. I hope that that, at least, can be accepted, because one or two things were said earlier which implied that this growth of population was in itself bad, and that every extra 5,000 people was a source of calamity, something to make one's flesh creep. I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Brain, although he may not have meant it, implied that we ought to be discouraged to hear that 5,000 children will have been born this afternoon. Personally, I am delighted to hear it, and I only hope that he has underestimated his figures.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? I do not feel that way at all. I think that population growth is good, provided that it does not in itself have a stultifying effect on the spiritual and cultural growth of the increased number.


I am glad the noble Lord puts it that way. I am afraid he gave us that calculation in a manner which made it seem that the intention was to make our flesh creep. For instance, he did not give us the figures for the enormous amount of food which will have been produced at the same time. He tended, I thought, to give us only the bad side, or what seemed the bad side. Now I realise that he did not intend to convey that impression at all.

I think it is extremely good, if I may say so, for the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, to reply to this debate. It must be the first time he has ever missed the Derby. I assume that he was taken there in his cradle, and will be finally taken there, so to speak, many years after I have passed on, in his hearse. I think it is an example of his public spirit that he has been with us to-day. I am told that this is the first time the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, has ever attended the Derby, and the first time the noble Duke has not. It seems to me it needed only that in each case to produce a perfectly rounded personality, and I am glad that that result has been accomplished to-day. I think it was some years ago that Lord Randolph Churchill said that the upper classes are united with the working classes in their love of horse-racing and their love of immorality. This was altered, by the time it reached the Press, to "a love of horse-racing and a love of morality"; and it is, of course, in that latter sense that I associate the noble Duke with the utterance of Lord Randolph Churchill. At any rate, a Derby which is deprived of the services of Lester Piggott and of the Duke of Devonshire on the same day seems to me a very unsatisfactory affair. I gather that they got along without them, but it cannot have been the same thing at all.

My Lords, I am not sure why I am speaking, except that it might be misunderstood, so to speak, to be a birth control debate (or something which, heavily disguised, would be generally understood to be a birth control debate) without any utterance from someone who was last year referred to as a "noble Cardinal", which was a bit of sarcasm by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara. I did raise the question on Monday whether it was desirable that I should speak; and I was pleased afterwards to hear somebody say that he had spoken for 35 minutes less than usual. I will try to follow the same rule to-day. I need not perhaps reaffirm the Roman Catholic attitude to artificial birth control. We do believe—not just because we are told to, but those of us who do try to think it out do believe as a result of our own cogitations—that enormous harm must result from a widespread use of contraceptives. I only touch on this in passing, but there is one side of it which I submit, in all seriousness, must cause anxiety to-day.

The question is sometimes raised whether our national morals are worse than they used to be. I do not know when they were supposed to be good, but it is sometimes suggested that they are now worse than they were. Particularly it is suggested that the morals of the young are worse than at some earlier time. I do not take that view at all. I do not believe that there is any evidence of that, although I am not saying that the contrary can be proved. But I think it is impossible to deny that, whereas there is some advance in our national morals, in that there is much greater concern for those in distress who do not belong to our immediate circle—and that is a great advance—on the other side, sexual morals are in many respects more lax; and in particular it must be conceded that, so far as one can possibly judge, pre-marital intercourse is much commoner than it was.

The proportion of girls who are pregnant when they are married appears to be higher than it has been in past years. I think that that must be said on the debit side, though I am not saying that, on balance, our morals as a nation, or the morals of young people, are worse. I am certainly not saying that girls are the main delinquents in this matter. If they are in "the family way" far more oftener, then it is the boys who put them there; and I think that the men must take more than half the blame. That seems to me to be a fact. I would challenge anyone to deny that the use of contraceptives has increased with pre-marital intercourse. It might of course be said that if contraceptives were 100 per cent. perfect, these particular results of pregnancy would not occur; but as they are nothing like perfect, and for other reasons, these results do occur. And I link that situation and the development of that kind of morality in far too many cases with the philosophy that regards sex as fun, without any responsibilities. It is a philosophy that treats sex as something that is purely a matter of enjoyment, without dedication or community of ideal. But I say that in passing: the Roman Catholic attitude to artificial birth control is well known.

I was deeply struck, if I may say so with respect, not only by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London but also by the spirit in which he showed his clear desire to say no word that could be painful to any Christian Communion, and, at the same time, to move the subject forward. When we had a debate last year—and this is the only point from my own remarks which I wish to quote—I mentioned something which had been said by the late Pope, where he pointed out that regulating births is compatible with God's law. In other words, he pointed out that planning through the regulation of births, as distinct from planning through the use of artificial birth control, is acceptable to Roman Catholics. Unless I am much mistaken, the right reverend Prelate, and other speakers, were bearing that position in mind when they were talking about the kind of research that could be socially acceptable; and possibly when the noble Lord, Lord Casey, replies, he may find it possible to move a little in that direction himself. I hope that that was also, perhaps, in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Brain.

I do not want to say more; but I myself should be ready, simply as an individual Roman Catholic not at all expert in these technicalities, to suppose that many of us in my Communion have not taken sufficient interest in the kind of research which would be acceptable from our point of view; and, if that is so, I think we must show greater interest in the future. Naturally, that leaves the matter vague. How could I do otherwise? I think the noble Lord, Lord Brain, used the expression "research which would be generally acceptable"; but, at any rate, if lines of research can be mapped out which are acceptable to all the great Christian Communions, then, of course, that would be an advantage. But I do not want to say anything which would seem to whittle down the well-known view of my own Church about artificial birth control.

Now, to me, there were two very striking speeches, among others, which left a big imprint on my own mind, apart from those I have already mentioned. One was delivered by the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, from whom we hear all too seldom. He comes and speaks without any notes, and sets us all an example. I do not know why he does not come oftener, except that he seems to travel the wild places of the world, and perhaps is not close at hand. But we certainly all enjoyed his speech enormously. My noble friend Lady Summerskill hit very hard in a way which I hope made a great impact, as I believe it did, without causing personal pain to the noble Lord, Lord Casey. I hope he will feel influenced by what she said, because in my opinion she demolished a great deal of what I thought was in his mind; though it may be that she demolished something that was not in his mind, or, if it was in his mind, it had, so to speak, disappeared since last year. If that is so, there again we are all moving forward together.

I recall that, speaking last year on the subject of food and population, the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who seemed, I think, dispassionate, and certainly had access to greater information than I myself had, or most of us had, took a rather definite stand on the general comparison. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Casey, will not mind my reminding him of what the noble Viscount said; it is not a personal point. Lord Hailsham said OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 232, col. 1126]: … contrary to what the noble Lord, Lord Casey, said but as correctly stated by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, the best view appears to be that food production is also increasing, and increasing somewhat faster than the population of the world. This afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Casey, did not argue the contrary. So that is the general position: that food production as a whole is increasing faster.

But, of course, we are all well aware that a lot of it is not in the places where it could be most valuable, and many of us would feel that Mr. Ritchie Calder, who is himself a supporter of birth control, has summed it up quite fairly. Because in his recent book, The Commonsense about a Starving World, he says that the problem of distribution defeats the present system; and he indicts the world for its failure to distribute the food which exists, and for its failure to produce much more. Mr. Ritchie Calder quotes United Nations authorities (I am not going to do much quoting because that can be so very selective) and says: The existing land resources with the application of the best existing methods could feed at least 16,000 million people that would be eventually— against our 3,000 million in the world to-day". But the writer points out that the prospect of having a quarter of that total by 1980 is frightening. I quote 16,000 million only to show that, however far we look ahead, someone like Mr. Calder, who is extremely keen on birth control, sets no practical limit to the supply of food that could be forthcoming. But he says—and I think the thought is common to all of us—that we have the tremendous duty of increasing the existing food supply of the world, either by greater efficiency in the use of existing methods or by the development of new ones. As I say, I suppose that we are all at one in that great objective.

No one seems to have challenged the statement of the noble Baroness (if I may say so, from his demeanour, the noble Lord, Lord Casey, is not likely to challenge it when he replies), that it is still a completely open question whether this oral pill will do grave harm or not. We do not know.


My Lords, I did not advocate the oral pill.


My Lords, to put it fairly, there is no evidence at the moment, and we cannot foresee the unforeseeable; but the pill has been used for six years without any discoverable ill-effects.


As the noble Baroness said, the Lancet has offered the opinion that it will be 20 years before it will be safe for use. On the strength of these statements, I question whether there is a single noble Lord who would wish his wife to use it. That seems, from this afternoon's debate, to be the accepted position. It would be clearly monstrous to organise research and to use Indians as guinea pigs, as I gather they have been used in producing this pill. The noble Lord shakes his head, but the noble Baroness says that they have been used, and I say that it would be monstrous to continue using people for such experiments whether they are Indians or anybody else. Obviously, there are going to be great difficulties in the researches involved. I do not want to end on that note, however. We seem to have retreated from the idea that there is some easy solution in the oral pill. I think sthat every noble Lord must be conscious of a guilty feeling when these figures are brought out. We must ask ourselves how it would look from outside and how it would look above, with all this food and the tremendous possibility of increasing it, yet with so many people near the starvation line.

If I end on a rather sombre note, it will not do us any harm, if it braces us and strengthens us for the task ahead. I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has been pointing in the right direction. But I hope that everybody who cares for the future of the world will agree that socially acceptable research, research acceptable on moral grounds to the great majority of the civilised world, is something which should continue. I do not think that the noble Lord has had much support this afternoon, but the fact that he has enabled us to offer our views may be welcome to him, and perhaps next year his progress towards us will be more rapid than it has been in the twelve months that have elapsed.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, before the noble Duke replies, I should like to address a few words to your Lordships, not about pills or "'guinea pigs" but about wars. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has put his finger here on a problem of vital world importance. I had the experience of service at home and abroad which goes back a long way, and I can remember the war in the Mediterranean between the Turks and the Italians, which was provoked by over-population. Later on I was in the Far East, where, it so happens, most of my service was passed, when Japan annexed Korea. That basically was again a question of over-population. I was then quite a young Secretary at the Embassy at Tokyo, and I remember saying to my Japanese friends, of whom there were and still are, many: "You've been and gone and done it. You used to be an island Power, just as we are. Now you have deliberately expanded on to the Continent and you are going to be a Continental Power with all the results."

That is all past and gone long ago, but the problem remains; and throughout the years this question of overpopulation has been almost a nightmare to me, especially in the Far East. I remember talking to the late Lord Reading, our excellent and beloved friend, when he was going to an International Conference at Bageo. I told him: "It is high time somebody of your calibre got up and talked a little about this ever-threatening danger of over-population". I believe that he did. Look at Japan now. It is at the bursting point. What are we to do? I suppose that industrialisation is one answer; otherwise, expansion. I do not profess to know the answer to this problem of the growth of population in these countries which (if I may use the word) breed very rapidly.

There has been a great deal of talk this afternoon, interesting and illuminating, about all sorts of things. But to my mind we come back to the words used by the noble Lord in his Motion: To ask Her Majesty's Government if they have considered the consequences of the present rate of population growth in Asia, and in Commonwealth countries in Asia in particular … It so happens that I spent about half of my career in the Far East and became labelled as a "Far Eastern Expert". Heaven forbid that I should be considered on anything. But as a Far Eastern expert—I ask you! But the reason I have risen to speak now is that I have seen this working in the nature of an explosion which comes automatically. The population in Japan is over-spilling, in spite of all the things they do. Their surplus cannot go to Canada or Australia, because of the White policy there; and the people in Singapore do not like them. I do not know what the answer it. No doubt there is birth control, but if you can succeed in putting birth control over in Japan, God bless you. I should be surprised.

My Lords, I do not believe that the public in this country attach a fraction of the importance they ought to do to the Far East. Their thoughts are on Berlin, and never on what is going on at the other end of the world. Believe me, it is far bigger than what is going on in Europe. It does not follow that the Russians are the people to be afraid of, in the near or in the ultimate future. However, that is as may be. I should like to join with other noble Lords in expressing my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for raising this question of first-class importance. I am sure that the whole House owes him a debt of gratitude for doing so.

5.0 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to reply to this debate with considerable diffidence, because I am conscious that I have very limited qualifications for answering many of the problems that have been raised. I should like to say at once how much I appreciate the generous tribute paid to me by the noble Earl, Lord Longford. While I am afraid that my absence from the Derby will be noted only from your Lordships' House, it will no doubt be a very famous Derby, in that during the course of it the race was deprived of six of the contestants; and I am sure that in the future more will be heard of this Derby than my absence from it. I should like to say, also, at the outset how pleased we were to see the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, back again, and to have a contribution from him to the debate.

I join With other noble Lords and noble Ladies who have taken part in this debate in saying a warm word of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for introducing the Motion. I can assure him that any possible regret on my part at missing the horse race to-day has been more than adequately compensated for by listening to his speech, and, indeed, those of other noble Lords. I have not had very great experience of your Lordships' House, but I consider the debate this afternoon to be one of the highest-level debates to which it has been my privilege and good fortune to listen.

The noble Lord, Lord Casey, gave us a full and thoughtful review of the problem; and, if I may say so with respect to him, it was very much in keeping with his contribution to the similar debate which was held in your Lordships' House about a year ago. The first part of the noble Lord's Motion asks whether Her Majesty's Government have considered the consequences of the present rate of population growth in Asia, and particularly in the Commonwealth countries of Asia. In answer to this, I can tell the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government are well aware of the tremendous increase in the population of Asian countries, and naturally note, in particular, the increase in Commonwealth Asian countries; and we are acutely conscious of the problems that these increases pose.

As the noble Lord pointed out in his speech, more than half of the population of the world—that is, 1,600 million out of about 3,000 million—live in Asia; and the population in this important part of the world (and I join with the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, when he draws attention to the importance of this part of the world) is at present increasing at the rate of about 1.7 per cent. every year. I am told that if the current trends in fertility and mortality rates continue, the rate of increase of the population in Asia will probably rise to about 23 per cent. within the next 20 years or so. The demographers would, therefore, seem to be of the view that the rate of increase will remain fairly constant at that level for some years thereafter.

As anyone who has studied the subject will know, population trends are difficult to predict, even in this country, where more detailed and accurate statistics are available than in most of the countries of Asia. But even if the assumptions I have mentioned are not falsified by events, it has been estimated that by 1980 some 2,300 million people, out of an estimated world population of about 4,200 million, will live in Asia. By the end of the century it is thought that the estimated world population will be over 6,000 million, of whom some 3,700 million will be Asians. If, as the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has told us, leaders of Asian opinion, such as Mr. Nehru and President Ayub Khan, are concerned at the over-population in the Asian countries to-day, there is real cause for dismay at the thought that there will be two and a half times as many mouths to feed and people for whom employment must be found in 40 years' time. I must confess that I find it disturbing that, despite the enormous sums of money devoted to agricultural development and improvement in Asia since the war, there has not been a larger increase in the level of food production.

If I may go back a short while in time, during the war years the production of food per head of the population in fact fell by about 15 per cent., and it did not begin to recover until some years after the end of the war. The pre-war figure of agricultural production per head, depressed as it was by the massive increase in population during the period, was, in fact, not reached until a year or two ago. However, it is encouraging that actual supplies of food per head are beginning to show a small increase every year, as new land is brought under cultivation and various means of improving the yields from existing lands in the course of development programmes come into effect.

I suggest, with respect, that the ways in which the problem of rapidly rising populations can be solved should not merely be negative ones, such as contraception, although, of course, I fully admit that this has a most important part to play. Here I find myself very much in agreement with what noble Lords have said in all parts of the House. I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Brain, had to say on the matter of the great need to increase food production; and coming from a man of his great distinction, it was most encouraging to me, and to the Government, to hear our view endorsed from an outside source. I also found myself in agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord Walston, had to say on this aspect of the problem, and, indeed, with my noble friend Lord Milverton and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London, who said they wished the problem to be looked at in its full, wide sense. I am sure that, if nothing else has come out of this debate (and, in my view, much else has), we are all aware that we cannot take the question of rising population and of contraception in its narrowest field, but must look at it in the widest possible framework, so that all possibilities, both positive and negative, can be applied to meet it. As many noble Lords have said, there are positive ways of doing this, and, of course, the increase of food production is one. Here I should like to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, on a magnificent speech, one that was a real joy to listen to.

I feel that the countries of Asia, in wrestling with these gigantic problems which face them, might take comfort from what happened in agriculture in this country during the war years. My noble friend the Leader of the House made an allusion to this in last year's debate, when he pointed out that we doubled our food in about seven years from 1939. He went on to say that the striking thing about that increase in food production was that it was not achieved by the sudden use of startling new processes, but by applying well-known and longstanding practices of good husbandry.

While the problem to which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, refers, must primarily be one for the countries concerned to tackle—as, indeed, they are doing—I think we should all be well advised to bear in mind that, no matter what steps are taken by way of educating the peoples of Asia in the practice of birth regulation, both the Governments of the countries concerned and, indeed, we of the more well-developed countries (and here I endorse what several noble Lords have said) have a real duty to do everything possible to increase the food supplies of those countries. We have, of course, done much in the past. The noble Earl, Loud Lytton, if I remember rightly, went so far as to say that we should cut our standard of living to about half, in order to provide the necessary assistance to these less fortunate peoples. I cannot pretend that I think it would be feasible to go as far as that, but certainly we are aware of our responsibilities; and, as I hope to show now, we have a proud record in this field.

Since the inception of the Colombo Plan in 1950, the Governments of the donor countries contributing to the Plan have made available to member countries in South and South-East Asia assistance in various forms to the value of £3,600 million. This total includes aid through technical assistance, loans and grants, the provision of agricultural commodities and the supply of equipment. Assistance within the framework of the Colombo Plan is still running at the rate of approximately £500 million a year.

Since the inception of the Plan the total of our own Governmental commitments has been about £300 million, much of which has gone directly or indirectly towards increasing the food supplies of the countries concerned. So we have made a contribution. Noble Lords may say it is not enough, but still we have made a very considerable contribution in this way.

The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, raised the point of the food surpluses in the world. I think the noble Earl, Lord Longford, also made references to them; certainly one or two other noble Lords have done so. I should like, if I may—I hope I shall not weary the House—to repeat what my noble friend the Leader of the House said on this subject last year, because it is still relevant. He had this to say OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 232, col. 1127]: One solution that has been suggested is the distribution to scarcity areas of the grain surpluses at present being produced in the more developed countries. During the past decade these have amounted to over 125 million tons, enough, in theory, to supply the full calorie needs of 45 million people for a year. Some such movements of grain surpluses do in fact take place, but there are tremendous difficulties in achieving its widespread distribution. Moreover, once the present surpluses have been distributed, only an annual surplus of 10 million tons will be available for disposal—which is by no means sufficient to enable the distribution of surplus grains to affect appreciably the calorie levels. And to alleviate malnutrition, what are required are protein-rich foods, not cereals—though grain surpluses have proved to be an invaluable aid in the alleviation of famines and severe food shortages in particular areas. I am not saying that we must explore every avenue in this field, but I give that quotation merely to set that particular solution in perspective.

The facts of the population situation in Asia are by now, I think, fairly widely known in this country. But the terms of the noble Lord's Motion perhaps carry the implication that Her Majesty's Government in this country has some responsibility for this situation. It is unnecessary for me to remind this House that the causes of over-population in any country are deeply rooted in economic and social conditions, involving religious and ethical considerations which can be influenced—and that often slowly and with great difficulty—only by the movement of opinion within the countries concerned. I most warmly agree with those noble Lords who have said that it would be impertinent for us to comment on many of these questions. It is for those countries themselves to solve it, and I cannot emphasise too strongly how much I endorse that point of view. But I can perhaps say that it is encouraging to note the increasing attention now being paid by the Asian countries themselves and by international organisations to population problems in their own area.

I understand that the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, under the ægis of the United Nations, which is closely concerned with Asian development, is making plans for an Asian Population Conference which will study the question of balancing population growth against resources. As an earnest of Her Majesty's Government's interest and concern in this problem, your Lordships may be aware that we expect to support the inscription on the Agenda of the next Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations of the item proposed by Denmark and Sweden on population growth and economic development.

As the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has said, both the development plans of the Government of India and that of Pakistan make substantial provision for family planning. The Government of Pakistan's Second Five-Year Plan, recognising that it is essential that family planning should receive high priority, provides a sum of nearly £2½ million for family planning purposes, including research on reproductive behaviour, on factors which motivate parents to have large or small families, and on the acceptablility and effectiveness of different methods of birth limitation. The Government of India's Third Five-Year Plan makes provision for 25 crores of rupees—which I understand is some £17 million—for similar purposes. I am sure that the House will agree that these are very substantial sums for even such large countries as these to spend on such purposes.

This afternoon's Motion goes on to ask what the British Government propose to do to stimulate scientific research in this country. I say the next part of what I have to say with even greater diffidence than the rest, because I am speaking here before experts about subjects on which I am a layman, so I beg your Lordships' forgiveness. I should like to say a word about the true implication of the word "research". To find a cure for some particular ill, one needs more than money. It is first necessary for those qualified to know to discover evidence of a line of inquiry, which it would seem fruitful to pursue, in order to prevent that particular ill. Once a lead of this sort is discovered, and provided there is a man or the men qualified to pursue that lead, then—and only then—does the need for money for that particular purpose arise.

The noble Lord, Lord Casey, asked what steps Her Majesty's Government propose to take to stimulate research. Scientific research into the various methods of contraception cannot be undertaken in isolation from other research work. For example, I understand that it is fairly closely bound up with research work into the whole field of infertility, and I further understand there is a close connection with certain fields of cancer research. In both these two fields, infertility and cancer, a vast amount of research work is being carried out, financed both by Government funds and the private foundations which there are in this country. I am glad the noble Lord saw fit to pay a tribute to these private foundations, which provide such very large sums for research work.

I think it fair to say that there is no indication that there would be any shortage of money for particular lines of research into promising ideas that may suggest themselves; the money would be found somehow. So I can assure the noble Lord that as a byproduct of the work in these two fields alone, much information is coming forward on the subject of contraception, and this information is made public and is therefore available to independent scientists concerned with the problem. As a Commonwealth Minister, I am very happy to say that there is very close co-operation between scientists in this country and scientists in India and elsewhere in Asia in these particular fields.

A great deal of work on the physiology of reproduction is being undertaken in university departments and by the Medical and Agricultural Research Councils, in addition to a certain amount of research directly aimed at the control of conception which is being carried out by industrial enterprises. This fundamental research on the factors affecting human fertility and infertility, which is also in many respects applicable in conditions in countries other than Great Britain, may well in the end provide the vital clues to the solution of the problem of contraception.

I was at this stage in my speech going to make some reference to the pill mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, but having heard what the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, had to say, it would be impertinent of me to add anything to that and also to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Brain. If I may say so to the noble Lady, with all respect, everyone here who listened to what she had to say must have been forcibly struck, not only with her immense erudition and knowledge of this subject and the extremely clear way in which she put it, but also with the burning conviction which carried her when she was speaking. It was a very memorable moment during this afternoon's debate.

As I have said, although the researches that I have mentioned are not, for obvious reasons, related to the conditions of Asia, where, in my Government's view, the work can best be carried out in hospitals and research institutions in the countries concerned, the Government will always be ready to accede to requests for help from Governments under the Colombo Plan for technical assistance from this country. Unless and until we receive such requests for collaboration with the work which is being done on this question in the Asian countries themselves, we think that our main contribution to this great problem of over-population is to continue to spend as much as we can afford on the programme of capital aid and technical assistance on which we are already engaged and to which I have alluded. To do more than that would be, to return to what other speakers have said, really impertinent to the countries concerned. The programmes of aid which we do provide leave it to the Governments concerned to judge how the help we give can best be applied to overcome the poverty and ignorance which, alas, as we all know too well, far too often accompanies an excessively high birthrate.

I was very much interested by the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for the setting up of an institution of demographic research. I can, of course, give no possible undertaking beyond saying that I will bring the suggestion to the notice of my noble friend, Lord Hailsham. It interests me per- sonally very much because, as Chairman of the Overseas Migration Board, I have touched on the fringe of the problems of demography and I find it increasingly of absorbing interest. I know that the noble Lord's suggestion will be very much welcomed by members of the Board, and if the noble Lord wishes I will bring it to their notice as well as to that of my noble friend.

I have talked for long enough, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I do not go into any details of the pros and cons of the various methods of contraception, for the simple reason that I simply am not qualified to do so. Furthermore, were I to do so, I would not try to influence any individual or any country to alter their views on the subject of contraception. It is a matter which is highly personal, likely to be controversial, and must be one that individual peoples and countries settle for themselves. Nevertheless, having said that, I would say this to the noble Lord, Lord Casey. I have no doubt that there is great value in to-day's debate, as there was indeed in the debate we had a year ago, and the value is that it draws attention to a very serious problem and one for which there can be no immediate solution, as indeed the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, said. I give the noble Lord an assurance that the Government are aware that this is a world-wide problem which, together with the Governments of other countries, they must play their part in helping to solve.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, I thank the noble Duke for the courtesy of his reply and for the great deal of work that he has obviously put into consideration of my Motion and in listening to this long debate. But I must admit to a certain disappointment at the noble Duke's reflection of the views of Her Majesty's Government on this matter. Perhaps I may correct him in one matter that he evidently suspected: that is, that I made the point that there was some degree of responsibility on the part of Her Majesty's Government. I do not think that at all, taking "responsibility" in its normally accepted meaning. There is a moral responsibility, I certainly believe; that is, an international responsibility of a great country towards countries that are very much poorer, both in money and also, particularly, in their ability to carry out scientific research. I think there is a responsibility there, but I can only interpret what the noble Duke has been good enough to say as meaning, in effect, that this country is proposing to leave the burden of research in this matter to the United States. In effect, I think that is so. A very great deal more research is going on in the United States in the relevant field than in this country, although what is going on in the United Kingdom is quite considerable.

Perhaps I may be allowed to say this without extending this debate beyond a very few moments more: that I was surprised—and perhaps it is my own fault again—that so many noble Lords in effect took me to task for believing that in the terms of my Motion I was attempting to push the Government into contact with Asian Governments on something which was their own business, and so trying to force something on them that they might resent. I thought, perhaps wrongly, that in what I had said in moving this Motion I had made it clear—at least, I hoped I had done so—that the Governments both of India and of Pakistan have specifically, time and time again, made requests to the United States of America, if not to this country—I happen to be aware of many of the requests—and they have been made by the highest people in the Governments of those two countries.

I quote—and this will take only one moment—what was said not long ago by the present Indian Ambassador to the United States. This a cut-down of what he said: There are three specific kinds of assistance of which India is desperately in need."— He was talking to the American people.— The sharing of experiences"— as he called it— in population control by the advanced countries; the very substantial increase in research in the United States for a simple and inexpensive contraception method; thirdly, technical aid, especially of manufacturing facilities for family planning supplies. I pick that out as only one of a number of most pointed requests that have been made to the Government and people of the United States for scientific aid in producing and evolving an improved contraceptive suitable for Indian conditions.

I hope that after very nearly a generation in public life I have not to be told that one country cannot interfere in the domestic affairs of another. That knowledge is child's play, as anybody with any knowledge of international affairs knows. But if it had been interference, India and Pakistan would never have made their views and requirements known in almost desperate terms to the United States and, I should have thought, also to this country.

I should like to canvass a number of other things said in this debate but I cannot continue for more than a few moments. I could follow the noble Earl, Lord Longford, on the subject of food in Asia, on which clearly, he and I completely disagree. And I think the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, really took certain liberties with what I said in trying to pin the word "oral" contraceptive on to me, when I never used the word at all in respect of contraceptives which might be used in India. I used the words "Conovid" and "Enovid", but never in anything that I said this year did I mention or recommend the use of oral contraception, although I would not eliminate it from the possibilities. If I may say so, the noble Lady replied to the speech I made twelve months ago. I think if I go further than that I shall get rather deeper than I want. I should like to join with the noble Duke in thanking all noble Lords who have taken part in this, to me, very interesting debate, which I agree has had some usefulness in ventilating this subject; and, my Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.




Brought from the Commons; read 1a, and referred to the Examiners.