Clause 8. — (Interests of employees to be consulted.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1948.

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Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee 12:00 am, 20th January 1948

I beg to move, in page 5, line 14, to leave out from "all," to end of line 15, and to insert: practicable steps to secure. This Amendment, and the next Amendment, namely, to leave out lines 26 to 28, and to insert:

  1. "(a) with persons or bodies appearing to them to represent or to have qualifications to speak on behalf of substantial numbers of the employees affected;
  2. (b) where the matter in question arises in connection with the carrying on of activities in a Colonial territory, with the Government of the territory."
are for similar purposes. They are to meet valuable points made upstairs which we promised to try to incorporate. The first is a slight, but useful strengthening of the beginning of Clause 8 which enjoins the Corporation to take all practicable steps to secure the objects set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) which are thought to be vital. The second is an addition to the last two lines of Clause 8 and meets a valuable point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Dr. Segal). It gives a wider choice in the representation of native labour which, as was pointed out, might not necessarily be best represented by a so-called trades union organisation and, in more primitive conditions, the tribal organisation might be called upon.

I think they are useful Amendments, but I would say to my hon. Friends that, while it is right and proper for us to try to make these two safeguarding Clauses as effective as we can, the real safeguards for the native populations who work on these schemes—and for that matter the British personnel who work on them, who are very important—will be in the way the schemes are worked, in the intentions of the great public Corporations which manage them, and in the fact that those Corporations will be exposed to public criticism and control from this House and the whole range of public opinion in this country. I have not' the faintest doubt that these Corporations must, in their own interests, set the highest standards in these respects, and although the Corporation does not exist yet in East Africa, the managing agency, to its great credit, has already set a high standard in these matters. I feel that although the exact words we incorporate in the Bill are important, they are of rather secondary importance compared with what is actually done in the field.

Photo of Mr Harry Wallace Mr Harry Wallace , Walthamstow East

I welcome these Amendments, because I think them important. I recognise that in this field there must be some discretion left to the Minister. It is the duty of every Member of this House to pay more attention to what is happening in Africa and what will happen when these Corporations are set up. A heavy duty rests on some of my colleagues, and much will depend on the spirit in which this Measure is administered. I attach very great importance to the publication of the report, and I hope this House will see that the report is thoroughly discussed, so that we may perform our duty.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 5, leave out lines 26 to 28, and insert:

  1. " (a) with persons or bodies appearing to them to represent, or to have qualifications to speak on behalf of substantial numbers of the employees affected;
  2. (b) where the matter in question arises in connection with the carrying on of activities in a colonial territory, with the Government of the territory."—[Mr. Strachey.]