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Can the hon. Gentleman really say that, in view of the disgraceful standard of wages paid in the three Territories, particulars of which I gave in a speech this week? Will he follow the example of many Colonial Territories, where minimum wages are in operation?
The actual level of wages is the subject of a subsequent Question, but I can say that the Resident Commissioner in Basutoland is proposing to consider means for improving wage rates in the Territory, and when the High Commissioner comes back to London, as he will shortly, I intend to discuss with him the matter of wages in the Territories.
In view of the criticisms which the hon. Gentleman made of my statement about this matter this week, can he give any indication whether there is housing accommodation for the unskilled workers? Is he aware that I took my figures from official statements, and that in those statements there was no mention of either rations or housing accommodation?
The hon. Gentleman may remember that the figures he gave were 9d. to Is. 5d. a day, which are very much below those which I have quoted. If he looks at HANSARD, he will see that I was referring, as indeed was the context of the remarks, to agricultural wages generally.
Then is it not a scandal, in view of the fact that in Basutoland there are only three miles of tarred roads and only one mile of railway, and that there are being discovered there uranium and thorium which ought to be developed in order to raise the standard of life of the people rather than the profits of private companies? When is the Colonial Development Corporation going to do something about it?
I am not responsible for the Colonial Development Corporation in this particular matter. I am quite certain that, if the Colonial Development Corporation found projects which would interest it in Basutoland, it would be the first to take advantage of investment in that territory. So far as my Department is concerned, we should welcome interest of this sort. As a matter of fact, the Colonial Development Corporation is considering a project for the Oxbow Lake Scheme, at an estimated cost of about £9 million, which is connected with the provision of power for that area and elsewhere in neighbouring areas. But we have no knowledge of the occurrence of uranium and thorium in Basutoland. If such discoveries are made, it would, of course, be invaluable because it would make a great deal of difference to the economic position of the Protectorate.
Can the Under-Secretary of State tell us whether the Colonial Development Corporation will have the £9 million to develop this scheme in any case? Is it not clear from its Report that it is already committed up to the maximum to which it is entitled to borrow, and will not the Government have to make more money available to it?
Further to that reply, may I ask the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he is not responsible for these Protectorates, and is it not the case that the Colonial Development Corporation is itself responsible for financing developments of this sort in the Protectorates? Has he not, therefore, a direct responsibility?