§ Considered in Committee; reported without Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[Mr. Rees-Williams.]
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)
I think it would be unfortunate if this important Bill were to be read a Third time without any comment of any kind being made, as it affects 60 million of our fellow subjects. There are reasons why it is perhaps not now opportune to discuss these affairs fully; because within 2590 the next few weeks a full Debate will take place on the Colonies, which will largely concern itself with development and welfare. A Blue Book was published last week on Colonial administration for the last 12 months, and it will naturally be in the minds of Members when the full Debate takes place. Therefore, we do not think it necessary now to raise the many points we shall want to raise in a few days' time.
It is very important to realise that all the development schemes for which we are now voting money depend on personnel being available. All the publications of the Government on Colonial development in the last year show the most alarming deficiencies in professional and technical personnel for the jobs that are to hand. It looks at the moment as if some 1,200 key posts in the British Colonial Empire cannot be filled because the people are not available. When we realise that the tendency of Colonial education has been to disregard the need for trained and skilled men, whether it be doctors or veterinary surgeons, although the jobs may be of importance to help to bring our fellow citizens along the paths of cultural development, we realise what a lot has to be done in the British Colonial Empire. We hope to tackle all this in the Parliamentary sense in some 10 days' time, but I feel that I should state these qualifications before we allow this Bill to pass. However much money we may vote for this purpose, it will not be adequately 2591 spent unless there are the people available to use it.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Rees - Williams)
I appreciate the point of view put by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). We shall look forward to the Debate of which he spoke. I agree with him that one of the most important tasks that faces us and with which we are now grappling is the greater supply of technical and other officers in the Colonial Service. Unless we get those officers in we cannot train the large number of Colonial peoples who require to be trained. Only this morning my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary and some of his senior officers and myself have been considering this very problem. It is largely a question, I think, of appealing to the young men and young women of this country to go out into the Colonies and into our Colonial Service, which is a fine career and affords a wonderful opportunity for service. Anything that we can do we shall, to put before them very great opportunities for service.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
Certainly. I have only one thing further to say. We have a great record of production since the war in the Colonial territories, in spite of the many disadvantages under which we have laboured, and it includes many of the commodities which we urgently need at this moment. The Colonies have made a great contribution. These matters can come out in detail in the Debate, but the time is opportune to express our appreciation to the Colonial Service and to the Colonial peoples for the very great contribution they have already made to the economy of the Empire by way of the supplies which are so needed by the world and the many precious materials they have produced in ever-increasing quantity since the war.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
I apologise for keeping the House for a few moments longer. I understand that it is clearly recorded that before the Summer Recess there will be a very considerable Debate upon the Colonial situation as a whole. I therefore support the view put forward by my hon. Friend the 2592 Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). We sincerely trust that our friends in the Colonies will not think that in passing this Measure in a few minutes this afternoon we are in any way being discourteous to the people in the Colonies, upon whose help we so very much depend.
In the short statement made by the Minister—we quite understand the brevity of it because of lack of time—the hon. Gentleman referred to technicians. It is understood by all Members of this House, regretfully, that the Colonies are terribly short of technicians. Every help of a practical character which can be given to the Colonies to enable them to advance at a much quicker rate—apparently the matter was being considered again this morning at the Colonial Office—will be much welcomed by all those in the Colonies. The matter of security worries those who are in the Service. There are many other considerations, and I hope the Minister will consider every possible way of helping those who are in the Colonial Service, particularly in regard to housing and monetary matters. I hope he will encourage people to go into the Service. We are badly short of technicians in the Colonies. I am anxious that the people in the Colonies should not feel that the few minutes we have taken this morning mean that we are not putting this matter upon a high enough level.