Thursday, 31 March 2011

A brief 1961 Hansard trawl, featuring racial minefields, loveydom, exchange controls and rabbit clearance societies.

Some tiptoeing / stomping around in racial minefields:

Mr. N. Pannell asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now state what steps are contemplated to control immigration from Commonwealth countries in view of the fact that the estimated net inward movement for the first two months of this year is over five times the figure for the corresponding period last year.
Mr. Wingfield Digby Is not there enough evidence in the world today of the difficulty of multi-racial societies to give us cause to pause before we go any further in creating a multi-racial society here?

Mr. Awbery (Bristol Central, Lab) Can the Minister give the figures of emigration and immigration? Regarding the point raised by the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby), is he aware that when we send English people abroad we help to create a multi-racial state in the places to which they go, and so a difficulty arises there as well?

I make that game, set and match to Awbery.

And there's more:

Mr. Hughes Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, of course, I follow the Prime Minister's speeches? It is our duty to do so. I do not want to embarrass either the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister by saying that this was a very good speech in which he said that a policy of apartheid was anti-Christian, but could the right hon. Gentleman assure us that his right hon. Friend who disseminates information throughout the world will see that this speech is widely distributed throughout Africa?

Mr. Butler It was not a speech. It was in answer to a question at a Press conference. The Prime Minister used the words which have been attributed to him and I have checked with him that that is so. I do not think that the honour of circulating them in the OFFICIAL REPORT or making them into a White Paper is necessarily desirable, as they were answers at a Press conference.
I suppose Butler could not say the comments were only for the benefit of Mac's audience in T & T, could he?

A curious Hansard heading for this, but tis a curious tale:

Universities (World Disarmament)
 Mr. G. M. Thomson (Lab) asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the endowment by Her Majesty's Government at one of the universities of the United Kingdom of a research unit to study the military, economic and other problems of world disarmament.

Sir E. Boyle No, Sir.

Strange thing to fall within the Exchequer's purview, frankly. 

But there's more:

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Lab, and father of that hunt-loving class traitor in the Lords)  Cannot the Government take the initiative in this matter? Surely they are not going to sit back and allow not only the Russians to lead us in propaganda peace appeals but also now the Americans?

Sir E. Boyle  This goes to the heart of our whole system of dealing with the universities in this country. Where it is a matter of a research unit, we would always wait for a university to make a request. That is the whole basis of our system of dealing with the universities through the University Grants Committee. It would be quite a new departure in policy if the Government were to take the initiative in encouraging a research unit of this kind.

Mr. Thomson Is the Minister saying that if we can persuade a university to take an interest in this matter, the Government will sympathetically consider such a request?
Sir E. Boyle I am sure that both the universities themselves and the University Grants Committee will take note of the views expressed by hon. Members opposite.

Oh doubtless, Sir Edward, doubtless .

And the return of the London stage's greatest fan, the MP for Goole (Lab):

Mr. Jeger asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he discussed with the London County Council the future of the South Bank site before making his decision not to proceed with the building of a National Theatre.

Sir E. Boyle   No, Sir. But my right hon. and learned Friend discussed this matter with the Chairman of the L.C.C. on March 13th and further discussions between the Government and the L.C.C. will take place as occasion requires.

Mr. Jeger Is not this a terrible example of the shabby way in which the Government have treated the London County Council? Is not the Minister aware that the L.C.C. has held this site for over ten years and, owing to the deplorable manner in which the Government have handled the question of a National Theatre, there is considerable doubt whether we shall ever see one, and that we shall have to rely on the forward-looking and imaginative boldness of the L.C.C. to provide it?
And so from East Riding theatrical types to civil servant loving Tories:

Mr. Wingfield Digby  asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he proposes to take to reduce the disparity between financial rewards in the higher ranks of the public service and outside industry, particularly among technical civil servants and especially with regard to the benefits in kind which are available in outside industry but not in the public service.

Sir E. Boyle  None, Sir. The Standing Advisory Committee on the Pay of the Higher Civil Service reviewed the situation early in 1959 in the light of the principles recommended by the Royal Commission on the Civil Service. The Government accepted their recommendations and there is no reason to think that another review is called for now.

Mr. Wingfield Digby If the present trend continues, is it not the case that we shall be in danger of losing from the public service the very best people, even taking into account their desire to serve the public and also such questions as honours?
This is rather entertaining:

Mr. Lipton asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much it costs to mint a penny and halfpenny coin, respectively.

Mr. Barber It would not be in the public interest to disclose these figures.

Mr. Lipton Is it correct to assume that it costs more than a halfpenny to manufacture a halfpenny and probably about a penny to make a penny? Is it not very strange and most suspicious that the Treasury is not willing to disclose how much it costs to make these coins?

Mr. Barber No. The answer is a very simple one, namely, that the Mint's foreign competitors do not reveal their production costs, and I therefore do not think that it would be right to expect the Mint to reveal its production costs.
Wasn't some more recent low denom coin reckoned to cost more to mint than it was worth?  I still miss ha'pennies - they made great impromptu screwdrivers.

Sticking with money, one to astonish the children, grandchildren etc:

Mr. J. Howard asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters were opened within the last convenient twelve months under the authority of Section 22 of the Exchange Control Act, 1947; and what was the total amount of illegally remitted currency discovered by this examination.
Mr. Barber In 1960 approximately 300,000 letters were opened and £50,000 of illegally remitted currency discovered.
Repeal of this odious and mercantilist law came under Thatcher, and it is to their lasting disgrace that Macmilllan, Douglas-Home and Heath did nothing about it.

Anyone fancy joining a rabbit clearance society?

Mr. de Freitas asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of the rabbit clearance societies is organised as co-operatives.

Mr. Vane  All but one of the societies are registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies' Acts. The arrangements for registration are co-ordinated in England by the Agricultural Central Co-operative Association and in Wales by the Welsh Agricultural Organisation Society.


Mr. Gaitskell In order to assist those who are not so expert, could the hon. Gentleman say what a rabbit clearance society is?

Mr. Vane It is an organisation of interested parties, sponsored by my right hon. Friend, to ensure that the small population of rabbits in this country does not increase again so as to become a serious menace to agriculture.

I, for one, am grateful for Gaitskell's intervention.

And at last we discover why we loom so large in the hearts of the good people of Sierra Leone:

Mr. Pannell asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether it is the intention of the United Kingdom Government to mark the occasion of Sierra Leone's independence by a gift.

 Mr. Sandys Yes. We are making a presentation of table silver bearing the Sierra Leone coat of arms, which could be used on formal State occasions.

However, Pannell is an unspeakable cad for spoiling the surprise.

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