HC Deb 13 May 1908 vol 188 cc1215-59
*MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Totten)

in moving "That this House, recognising signs of a growing opinion on the part of the self-governing Colonies of South Africa in favour of safeguarding the rights and future of the natives in any scheme of political unification or federation, expresses its confidence that his Majesty's Government will welcome the adoption of provisions calculated to render possible the ultimate inclusion of the whole of British South Africa in federal union," said that he thought the House would admit that he spoke with no feeling of hostility whatever to our self-governing Colonies, and in no spirit of carping criticism. Indeed, the reverse was the case, for they on those benches were great believers in self-government, and he thought they might claim that the Liberal Party, in giving self-government to the Transvaal and Orange Free State, had manifested its belief in self-government. Therefore, he trusted there would be no feeling either here or in South Africa that, because they raised this question of safeguarding the future interests of the natives in South Africa, they did so in any hostile spirit, in any ungenerous frame of mind, or with any desire unduly to interfere with affairs in South Africa. He recognised that the very delicate and difficult position in which the Colonies were situated at present rendered it all the more necessary that they should be careful in the words they uttered, and to the best of his ability he would endeavour to say nothing which would give offence to any Member of the House, or anyone who had the interests of South Africa and of our self-governing Colonies at heart. It would be admitted that the question of federation or political unification in some form or shape was within measurable distance. It was not for him to say—he imagined it would be very difficult for any Member of the House to say—what form or shape that federation would take. So far from any desire to dictate to South Africa, he was quite convinced that they were anxious for them to promote union amongst themselves in the best way possible, without any interference whatever on our part., except in so far as this Resolution implied that this country had a, direct responsibility for the natives in South Africa. They were bound to ask themselves, if federation was near at hand, and judging by the signs of the times it seemed to be approaching, what would be the position of the natives under the new regime. It could not be denied that the Imperial Government had a direct responsibility for the subject races in Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland, where there were something like 2,000,000 natives, and a less direct responsibility in Rhodesia. Might he begin by saving that those who were associated with him in this Resolution were fully in accord with the High Commissioner in his statement circulated as a White Paper on the subject? Might he quote one or two sentences from that Circular and from the subsequent speech? The High Commissioner said— Do not deny to natives those elementary principles of justice you always claim. In effect he said that there must be a moral as well as a political foundation if South Africa was to be at peace. He bade the whites approach the subject— With an intense sense of responsibility and believe absolutely in the right of the native to receive true justice. He went, on to say, and these were very significant words— No reasoning man can live in this country and doubt that the existence here of a white community must, from first to last, depend upon their success or failure in finding a right solution of the coloured native questions or, in other words, upon the wisdom they can show in determining the relative places which the white, coloured, and native population are to fill. It would, indeed, be a hideous error to suppose that the white people of this country are discharged of responsibility by perfecting an arrangement for enforcing order among the native population. The mission they have undertaken is of a far higher and more difficult nature than that, and one which calls for the inspiration of the statesman rather than that of the soldier. That fearlessly expressed opinion of the High Commissioner he believed every man in the House would endorse, and it was specially important now if federation was on the horizon. At a subsequent meeting, on 7th December, speaking at Benoni he said— I would ask you to draw two morals from the situation with which we are confronted to-day. Great matters, more especially the relations between the white races and the native races, can never be permanently regarded as a Natal or Transvaal question. It is a South African question. It was just because it was a South African question that they had moved this Resolution. He knew what would be said by some people—not many—outside, and he believed by some people in South Africa. It would be said that they were unduly interfering in South African affairs. What did they know about the natives? What right had they to interfere on behalf of the natives? Were they not likely to disrupt the Empire if they kept on expressing opinions with regard to the treatment of the native races? His answer to that was, first, that they could not discharge themselves of the solemn responsibility of safeguarding native rights. It was placed upon them, and until it was taken away from them they must do their duty. And, secondly, he believed that those who were careless in their treatment of the native races, who were inclined to regard them rather as tools than as men—he believed those were the people who were more likely to cause the disruption of the Empire. For the House would remember that South Africa was not made up of whites, and that something like four and a half millions of coloured men lived in South Africa, that they were increasing very rapidly, and that there were only a million whites in South Africa and not rapidly increasing in number. They had somehow or other to assimilate the blacks or to associate with themselves the coloured races in the work of government in order that South Africa might be consolidated. They could not drive the blacks into the sea even if they would. He imagined no-one who had any humanitarian instincts whatever would wish to do so. And yet some speeches had been made in South Africa—he admitted by not very representative men—which seemed to imply that the blacks were only there for our convenience, that in so far as we could use them it was to the good, and, so far as they were willing to submit to us in every possible way, and to work for us and make money for us, they were of some use. He contended that that sort of doctrine was dangerous not only to the whites in South Africa but to the Empire as a whole. Lord Selborne's words which he had quoted at some length justified this Resolution, but if further justification was required it would be found in the various Blue-books that had been issued with regard to native affairs in South Africa, notably the South African Native Affairs Commission, and the two recent Blue-books on native affairs in South Africa. Might he quote one passage from the most recent Bluebook that had been issued, the Report of the Under-Secretary for Native Affairs Mr. Samuelson. That Report was more or less an answer—whether it was a complete answer or not he left the House to judge—to the Report of the Commission which was appointed by the Natal Government. Mr. Samuelson said on Page 43 of the Report— The subject population feels that it is not being governed in its own interests, but rather in the interests of the white population. Administrative reforms cannot be agreeably carried out in an atmosphere of racial antipathy, exclusiveness, and sectional selfishness. Palliative fresh enactments will be practically valueless if confidence is not regained and reestablished. So long as the European population of the Colony regards the Natives as the nobility of France regarded the proletariat before the Revolution, little progress can be made towards a permanent settlement. He quoted this passage as showing how Mr. Samuelson admitted their whole contention that the natives in the past had suffered from many breaches of faith on the part of the white population, and that until they could restore confidence to the natives in the justice of their rule they would run serious risk as it seemed to him of rendering impossible federation in South Africa. It was often said that the native must be treated somewhat harshly because he was incorrigibly lazy and because the future of South Africa depended upon his being compelled to work. That was the sort of argument which, if not openly used, was, at any rate, in a great many people's minds. He contended that the two Reports to which he had alluded on native affairs both showed that this was not the case. Section 373 of the South African Native Affairs Commission said— The labour of tilling the soil is shared but by no means exclusively performed by native women, and the representation of the native living at his own village, a lazy, luxurious life supported by his wife or wives, is misleading. Later on there was a passage which showed that since the plough had taken the place of the hoe, men and boys were doing the work which women used to do. It was not true to say that the native was uniformly lazy. He did not know that he was as lazy as a good many men in England who had the opportunity of work and failed to do it. Section 376 read as follows— Except in the case of farm labour, which is especially suited to the native, it must not be forgotten that what is known as paid labour generally means to the native as a rule absence from home and family and in some employments irksome and even hard and dangerous work, and the abandonment of the ease, comforts, and pleasures of native village life. He thought they were rather apt to overlook the fact that the native who worked in the mines often had to walk hundreds of miles before performing his irksome duties. He had to leave the comfort of his home Life, and for a comparatively small sum of money engage in a very unpleasant occupation. He occasionally had to suffer from harsh and unjust treatment, and he had also to pay the top prices for everything he bought. Therefore, he did not think the native ought to be regarded as lazy, because he preferred agricultural employment to working in the mine. It should not be overlooked that only about half the workers in South Africa could be detached from their usual vocation. There must be someone left to till the soil if the natives were to live, and when they expected all the natives to leave their various locations they expected too much. As far as he could judge from reading the Reports and conversing with those acquainted with South African affairs, it seemed to him that the demand for labour was not always the demand of an organised, self-contained community, but rather an artificial demand for labour which foreign capital employed in the mines. Therefore, they ought not to be harsh in their criticism of the natives when they refused to give that amount of labour in the mines which some people considered necessary. Very often the demand was made that the natives should work for a foreign employer, even when it injured his own work on his own land, and took him away from his own family and tribe. With reference to the question of compulsory service, the Commissioners admitted that compulsory service had been a fruitful cause of much discontent and unrest. There were many objectionable features in the system of compulsory service which had rendered it very unpopular with the natives. Naturally, they were not willing to supply that labour, because it was exacted under such unjust conditions. Even the Natal Commissioners recommended the total abolition of compulsory labour. He was not prepared to say that compulsory labour under all conceivable circumstances was unnecessary, but he did say that as practised in South Africa, and especially in Natal, it had led to much injustice and hardship, and it seemed to him that the recommendation of the Natal Commissioners of the substitution of some arrangement with the location chiefs to recruit men for public works was a far wiser method to employ. As to the land question in all the Colonies and Protectorates in South Africa, there were locations and reserves set apart for farming occupations, but in Natal the alienation of the land had been going on for some time. The result was a disintegration in the tribal system, which, as the Report said, undoubtedly contained the germs of unrest. Then followed in the Report the very striking phrase— The struggle for land is simply the struggle for life. Those were the words of the Commissioners, and they were largely true of England and Scotland. If it were true of England and Scotland it was much more true of Natal, because without the land the natives were absolutely compelled to starve. It was no use saying the natives did not know the value of land, and did not make the best use of it. As a matter of fact, that was the reason which had been put forward for alienating their land. He might quote Sir Charles Saunders, as showing that that policy was extremely dangerous. In giving evidence before the Commission he said— To alienate that land would be about the most iniquitous proceeding he could imagine. Upon the Resolution recently introduced into the Natal Legislature he said that this— Was nothing more than an attempt to grab the land for European occupation. He was not sufficiently an expert to speak authoritatively but he thought they might quote Sir Charles Saunders as an authority without exciting anger, and surely if any man was qualified to speak on this subject it was the Commissioner for Native Affairs. The natives had been dispossessed of their land on the ground that a higher civilisation must come in and compel them to work. He had heard it argued that the Almighty intended the land to be used more profitably, and therefore it must be taken away from the natives. It was well known that whenever self-interest led any race to do an injustice to another race they generally found some good moral or religious excuse for doing it. The remedy for all this was to be found in the Bluebook, from which he would like to quote one sentence in regard to the alienation of land. On page 19 of the Natal issue of the Blue-book, Section D., there occurred the following recommendation— (b) The cessation of further alienation of land in Zululand, and the strict reservation of all locations and reserves for native occupation, with ample provision for the introduction of civilising and elevating agencies therein. He did not know whether that included some form of education, but there was little enough education at the present time among the natives. He contended that the safest and the best way of ensuring that the natives would not lose their present tenure of the land and to secure that they should be safeguarded in their rights in holding it, was to give them some form of representation and some form of franchise. Was it asking too much of the other self-governing Colonies that they should imitate the example of Cape Colony? He considered that that should be the almost irreducible minimum of their demand, viz., that they should follow the example of the oldest Colony, an example which had been so highly spoken of by Lord Selborne, and give some sort of franchise to the educated or partially educated natives. It must not, however, be an illusory, but a real representation, and then it would be certain to safeguard the natives against injustice. How had they discharged their responsibilities to the natives as regarded education? They had discussed education in this House for weeks together and talked of it as if it was the most valuable thing in the world, but what had they done for the natives in South Africa in this respect? The South African Report of Native Affairs showed that in Cape Colony £50,000 per annum had been spent upon educating 60,000 scholars, and the rest of the Colonies and Dependencies put together only spent £22,000 upon educating a select number of natives, out of 3,250,000. Rhodesia, with 600,000 natives, had only 334 attending school at the public expense, and the authorities in 1905 spent the large sum of £154 in a year upon educating the natives of Rhodesia. The Commissioners, reporting on this question, declared— That the facts disclosed the need for more liberal grants in aid of native education. That was the least they could do, and those who were responsible for the Government of South Africa ought to see to it that the natives had a better chance of being educated, for this would make them more fit to be associated with the whites in South Africa in the control of that great country. The Report of the seven Commissioners that there had been a lamentable series of mistakes and breaches of faith in many directions would fully justify them in passing a still more drastic Resolution than that which he was now proposing. He might add that practically all the contentions of the Commissioners, and all the points they put forward, had been admitted by the Natal Government itself, or rather by the Under-Secretary of State for Native Affairs in the Report to which he had already alluded. Whether the recommendations with regard to the future government of the natives were carried out or not, it was clear from both Reports that some form of representation must be given, for without it they could never hope to restore satisfactory relations between the handful of white men out in South Africa and the vast army of black men who peopled that country. There were in Natal 22,000 electors only, and no doubt they thought they were perfectly right in denying the right of this Parliament to intervene on behalf of the natives. He had more electors in his own constituency than there were in the whole of Natal. Being so comparatively few, he did not think that they were justified in saying that the Mother Country which had done so much for them in the past, and was willing to do so much for them in the future, could have no voice in this matter. He wished to say a word about martial law. The latest Blue-book received, showed to his mind quite clearly that the position which had been taken up by the Natal Government was absolutely wrong. It was an extremely urgent matter even at the present moment. He did not wish to say anything that would do harm or create further friction, but he should like to quote the Governor of Natal on this most important question. Writing to Lord Elgin, on 8th Feburary, 1908, the Governor said— On the 16th I saw Sir Charles Saunders, who had been summoned to Pietermaritzburg by Ministers to inform them of the state of affairs in Zululand. He told me that he was unaware of what special information was possessed by Sir Duncan McKenzie, but that as far as his own knowledge went there was no work to be done now in the country which the police were not competent to effectively carry out. He considered that the maintenance of martial law was unnecessary and that there was no reason against the release of the prisoners who had been kept in gaol as a result of the rebellion of 1906. The evidence of the Blue-book was sufficient to show that martial law, native floggings, and the imprisonment of Dinizulu were questions which required serious consideration, not only by this House, but by the Government of Natal. He admitted the difficulties in connection with martial law. There could be no doubt that illegal acts were carried on under martial law—in fact it meant the abolition of all law for the time being. It was exceedingly difficult to say whether those acts were justified or not. Frederick Harrison, dealing with this question, said, in his recently published book— One could not trust the Archangel Michael to be just in a position so trying. That was the only excuse that could be made for some of the incidents which had taken place following on the rebellion in Zululand. On that question, he would only add that the late Colonial Secretary, Lord Elgin, supported the Governor of Natal in saying that the proclamation was premature, and he urged its withdrawal as soon as possible. Our responsibility was great and direct. He supposed that the Colonial Secretary would be asked shortly to sanction a Bill of indemnity. A Bill of indemnity for what? For illegal acts made possible by reason of martial law imposed against the wish of the British Government, and against the wish of the Governor himself. What was the origin of martial law? They all knew that it was a sporadic rebellion caused by continued and repeated breaches of faith in Zululand on the part of the Natal Government. He confessed that he thought the somewhat strong language used by the Prime Minister of Natal with reference to our interference was entirely unjustified; he practically asked us to shirk our undoubted responsibility for the natives, and he should have thought that our claim to make such modest representations as had been made by the Colonial Secretary in the past would hardly have been disputed. As to Dinizulu he would ask: How long was he to remain in prison upon the somewhat vague charge of high treason which had been preferred against him? He was perfectly willing to admit that it was fair and just to ask that the man on the spot should not be condemned with knowledge, but he and his friends asked them not to condemn rashly a man who had deserved well of us and also of the Colonial Government in the past, but to give some sort of proof that the irregular and drastic procedure adopted by Natal had been justified by the circumstances of the case. If the federation of South Africa was to become a reality, as they all hoped it would, he would like to ask the Colonial Secretary for an assurance, which he thought he would be willing to give, that the rights of the natives in South Africa should not be endangered, but that some regard would be had to the many recommendations of South African statesmen of wide experience and with greater knowledge than many hon. Members could claim to have, who had made suggestions designed to protect the native races, that the question of native representation, following on the lines of the Cape, should not go by the board, and that every attempt would be made by wise laws and humane administration to consolidate and secure the whole of South Africa for the British Empire. He begged to move.

*SIR CHARLES W. DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

, in seconding the Resolution, said his hon. friend had quoted the Paper by Lord Selborne on federation, which was laid before the House at the end of last session, and made it the foundation of the Resolution. The hon. Member had said that Lord Selborne's appeal was made on behalf of 4,000,000 natives, but there were 6,000,000 in the countries formerly comprised in the Customs Union to which Lord Selborne referred. Since his hon. friend gave notice of the Resolution a slight change had been made in its terms, and that change, he imagined, had been made with the intention of preventing them from seeming to take sides as between the self-governing Colonies in South Africa on this question. He was speaking in presence of one of high authority upon what was involved, and upon the difference between federal union and unification as it was called by General Botha. The Resolution was timely, because they knew that at this moment the controversy was one which apparently divided the self-governing Colonies themselves in South Africa. Lord Selborne's Paper raised the question of the difference between federal union and unification. Our views might be met by either of these solutions on which the self-governing Colonies seemed to differ. At this moment there was a change in some of the Colonies, notably in that of which Sir John Molteno had been the first Prime Minister, which might involve the question whether there should be a union of three of the self-governing Colonies or federation on such a plan that ultimately all South Africa might come in. They in the House had always desired a federal union of South Africa in such a form that ultimately the whole of South Africa would come in. Lord Selborne had in view even the inclusion of the Protectorates. He said that the Governor of the Cape had, on the advice of his Ministers, recommended that steps should be taken to prepare for union. Dr. Jameson had said that the Cape could not give up its native franchise, but was prepared to meet the Colonists' desire for federation in other ways. They had reason to believe that a most important advance had been made in Dutch opinion, and, therefore, they should use language of the greatest moderation in regard to matters which might cause division. In the Resolution they were asking for the least that this country could ask for. Lord Selborne had pointed out that the native question was a difficulty in the way. At that time the Transvaal Government suggested that the federation might include Portuguese Mozambique, but he thought they had now seen that the difficulties of including a foreign country in the federation were insuperable. They heard that the conference that had just met had advised that a Resolution should be passed by the Parliaments of the four self-governing Colonies. The difficulty was to cause an identical Resolution to be passed. They might confidently expect that in sonic form or another a desire for federation or unification would be expressed, but there was reason, he feared, to expect that the same view would not be taken in Natal as in the Transvaal and in the Cape. They might that night, by stating in the most moderate language the minimum of their demands, assist in the union of opinion between the three Colonies in which the Dutch element predominated, and the strength of those three Colonies was so great that Natal would be well advised to come to terms with the three Colonies upon that basis. The question as to whether the Protectorates should come in was raised in his dispatch by the High Commissioner. When railway questions were discussed, of course, that included Basutoland and the Protectorates for which the High Commissioner was responsible. But the High Commissioner was a very big, and even a dangerous person, from the point of view of the office he occupied; and if it was necessary to represent Basutoland or the Protectorates, probably it would have been better that that should have been done by someone not in the position of the High Commissioner, because there was a danger of rousing susceptibilities by calling in the High Commissioner. From the life of Sir John Molteno they knew the circumstances under which the negotiations during the time of Sir George Grey broke down; and they must do everything, and they were doing everything, to avoid the appearance of what Sir John Molteno declared to be the "ill-informed interference" which had then been resented. It had, however, never been denied that there were certain circumstances with regard to South Africa which absolutely required a certain amount of interference by the Imperial Parliament. When the South Africa Bill of 1877, introduced by a Conservative Government, was being considered they tried to put forward the same views they were putting forward that night as to the essential responsibility of this country on certain points. When the South Africa Bill came down from the House of Lords to the House of Commons it contained no native clause. On the Second Reading of the Bill, the present Lord Courtney and he opposed it on that ground, and on going into Committee the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and himself opposed it specifically on the ground that they must have provisions for the settlement of native relations. It was pointed out then, as it was pointed out now, that they could have no chance of peace or safety in South Africa unless this question was faced in advance. The Conservative Government, when proposing the Bill in the House of Lords, stated that— Union or confederation was an urgent and pressing necessity. And, the Act was entitled an— Act for the union under one Government of such of the South African Colonies and States as may agree. The House remembered the circumstances under which that agreement failed to be brought about. There was no native clause, and in the course of the discussions, although those who voted against the Bill were few in number, the strength of their arguments was so great that the very clause that they demanded was inserted in the Bill. That clause, Section 19, stated that provision should be made in "the electorate and in the distribution of seats" for— The due representation of the natives in the Union Parliament and Provincial Councils. That Bill was passed, and a part of it was now spent. Some of the clauses were temporary but one at least remained in force and could be acted upon at the present time. The consent of this Parliament in behalf of the Empire was necessary to South African federation; and it was better that they should state in advance what were the minimum terms to be suggested. These were already suggested by two of the leading Colonies in South Africa, and it was hoped that they would obtain the concurrence of the other two smaller Colonies. Our special responsibilities required more than mere consent as to Swaziland, Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Zululand. Even though they were not asked to bring in the outer fringes of South Africa at the present time, e g., Rhodesia, still they did stand directly for the representation of Imperial duties in this House, because they had no one else to voice those views. As to martial law, which had been referred to by his hon. friend, he, and those who agreed with him, desired to speak with a full sense of responsibility, and he would say nothing to increase the feeling, the very strong feeling on their side, and the equally strong feeling amongst certain Colonists, on that delicate subject. He hoped that they might be reported in South Africa not so incorrectly as they were sometimes reported there, if they expressed clearly the view that they were not attacking one Colony in particular. Their objections to martial law were universal. Such was the objection which they took on the occasion in 1879 to which his hon. friend referred in quoting Mr. F. Harrison, and the statements then made, painful as they were, turned out to be true, and their wisdom was subsequently acknowledged by the very officer who had been attacked. There was sometimes a division in this House, not on this occasion, when they were all trying to help in a great common, national and Imperial object; but sometimes at Question-time there was excited party feeling when whatever was said was an offence to some hon. Members who shouted about interference with the South African self-governing Colonies. They all deprecated interference with self-governing Colonies, and so far as they could be said to be interfering, they were that night only interfering to prevent interference. Their object was to avoid future interference by stating in advance the minimum that they were bound to insist upon in the interests of the Empire, and not of this country alone. He hoped the hon. Member for Gravesend would not misunderstand him when he said that some regretted at Question-time that day what they thought interference on behalf of a "retrenched officer." There were questions of internal affairs in the self-governing Colonies which did not involve the interests of the Empire; but there were matters in which they did not differ, and in which they should all agree that this country had such an interest, and such a binding obligation to preserve national good faith, that it would be impossible not to express the opinion which this Parliament held. Sir John Molteno put the case against interference as strongly as it was ever put, but there were occasions when national good faith demanded that they should interfere to protect the interests of the natives and of other subjects of the Empire. There were occasions also which had arisen in South Africa, and which were arising possibly at this moment, where one Colony might come into conflict with another, and there again they might be called upon to interfere. There was the famous conflict between the Cape and Natal, which was in the minds of all those who had any knowledge of the history of South Africa. Then there were such questions as the rights of British Indian subjects in South Africa. We were the sole custodians of the interests of the people of India in South Africa, and we must state the argument in their favour, even if we did not push it to an extreme. The franchise, so far as the native population was concerned, was the key to the position. No man in this House would defend the grotesque absurdities caused by the difference of status between natives in the various Colonies and coloured men. Nine out of ten of the difficulties between the Colonies arose out of these grotesque absurdities. The Cape was free from these because of the virtual representation which the natives did receive through their most educated men. There was the case of a man who was chairman of the Health Committee of Cape Town Municipal Council, who was a member of a family which had for four generations been British subjects, and was eloquent in both English and Dutch, and was one of the greatest physicians in South Africa, but who was obliged to have a special passport when he visited another Colony. That was an instance of the grotesque absurdities which prevailed in regard to coloured statistics. Of course, these would be removed if either unification of the three Colonies or federation of the four as a whole should be brought about, and he was certain that those who had seen the stand which the coloured men had made in the last few years had been struck by it, and that their claims would in time receive attention. We were bound to have a close inquiry into the condition of the native population, especially if the Cape was not satisfied, because the Cape had really mastered this question, and did not make mistakes about it. It never sinned in ignorance. We were bound to consider the native question in South Africa as a labour question, because it was admitted that the labour of South Africa would always be predominantly native, but we had to consider especially cases where our own good faith was directly concerned. He thought we ought to draw a distinction between matters in which we stood for certain others, such as the native Indians and India, or the case of a Protectorate in which we were the government, and that of a self-governing Colony. There were instances where we must do more than be represented because we were distinctly committed, and it was a matter of our good faith. A franchise like the Cape franchise—a franchise not illusory, not bound by such conditions as the franchise in Natal, would cover then, larger questions, and would even cover matters in which we were bound by good as faith. The King was put forward 'paramount chief" in all the Colonies, but it meant a different thing in different Colonies and Protectorates. In Basutoland all the officers were direct repre- sentatives of the King, but in other parts of South Africa the position of paramount chief was somewhat doubtful. In the case of Swaziland promises had been made and not always kept in the personal name of the paramount chief, and the Swazis had been assured that: "He will continue to protect you." In the case of Natal, the King was paramount chief by actual treaty, and in the case of Zululand it was equivalent to treaty. It was what was called a treaty position, and hon. Members would find it set out as a treaty in "The Map of Africa by Treaty." He had asked some troublesome questions, he was afraid, of the predecessor of the hon. and gallant Member, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, and they were sent out and some answers were given the day before which he for one cheered because they asserted the inviolability of the position which the hon. and gallant Gentleman occupied as contrasted with the humbler official who filled the corresponding office in Natal. The hon. and gallant Gentleman answered him in brief terms, and said— The Under-Secretary's view is not correct. He doubted whether the Natal Under-Secretary's view could be more unhesitatingly assailed. But he said that there was the greatest legal doubt in Zululand as to the position of the King as paramount chief, upon which the whole question turned. There was difference of opinion between our advisers and the advisers of the Natal Government on that point. It had been admitted by the unanimous Commission appointed by the Government of Natal, and by its own officials that, "continuous breaches of faith with the Zulus in regard to their land" had occurred, and if this House paid heed to the extent to which this country was responsible for the cession of Zululand, he thought it would be admitted that, if not legally, we were morally bound to see to the future of Zululand. The Natal Government admitted that Zululand could not go on as it was and some of the members of the Commission proposed the widest and most startling change in its government. A separate Government was proposed, and that Zululand should be set up as a detached Government. The condition of the country to his mind morally bound us to some inquiry as to the state of things prevailing there, and when they remembered that these breaches of faith were not breaches of Colonial faith, but of the faith of the Mother Country, he thought they would see that we were bound to such an investigation. In the Annexation Act of 1897 it was stated that no alienation of land was to take place in Zululand and the unanimous Report of the Natal Commissioners pointed to the fact that there had been alienation. They unanimously advised that "no further alienation of land in Zululand" should take place. That was an admission, he took it, that this alienation which our faith had been pledged to resist, had taken place. He would not deal with other more difficult and dangerous topics, and no one man could cover the whole field, but no one of them could be satisfied with their personal and Imperial share in the relations between the white population of South Africa and any one of the various great chiefs there, whose fate had hung in the balance during the last few years. They must have the sadness of the doubts they entertained in regard to the fate of many of them. They must, however, look forward that night with hope, chiefly in the future, as to these so-called rebellions; they would have to take a grave decision, as to which their hopes for the future must guide their conduct for the present, as to the events that had occurred under martial law, which was no law at all, but simply the will of some little autocrat. The hon. Member for Dumfriesshire wrote in 1896 that— Until this union is formed it is not easy for England to withdraw, and allow the Colony to manage 'all it internal" affairs. This was called interference, but there were questions in which we were called upon to interfere, and in which we could not help ourselves, although we desired to interfere as little as possible in the future if it could be avoided. He detested that tendency which was displayed in the Blue-books to pull backwards and forwards about the horrible facts as to hangings and floggings under martial law among our politicians, and it was not confined to this country, but was perhaps quite as rife in the Colony as it was here. He hoped he had made it clear that they had no pleasure in interference; they did not interfere out of spite or on account of petty hatreds or jealousies; they wished to interfere as little as possible, and only so far as was consistent with their position as honest men representative of Imperial good faith and interests. The Cape had not met the very extreme views which he entertained, and many others had entertained; but the Cape had met the practical difficulties of the situation, and when they found a man, with whom they had had differences of opinion and should have again—Sir Godfrey Lagden—using language such as he did with regard to the Cape, they rejoiced. He said that the Cape had produced native men who would be a credit to any country. It was recorded that natives left Natal in order to seek a better education at the Cape because they could not get it in Natal. There was, moreover, a consideration too often ignored. We had made enormous sacrifices on our side of our opinions to try to meet South African opinion. In passing a Bill, excluding, on the ground of colour alone, the working majority from all franchise, we went further than some of them thought we ought to have gone, but the House did it to try and meet the South African views in the hope and belief that they would come towards us and try to meet our views. The Cape had in some measure met our views, and he believed the great leaders of the Dutch predominant party in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony were inclined in the same direction, and recognised the enormous distance we had gone to try and meet their views. We despairingly admitted that we could not shake that principle—the exact opposite of the principle proclaimed in the constitution of the United States—in the Transvaal Constitution— We will suffer no equality in either Church or State between white and black. We could not hope to shake that principle, but we could hope to obtain, by equal moderation on both sides and by statesmanship in the Colonies to meet statesmanship in this country, that which would help to give us in practice the franchise of the Cape. The demands they put forward were sometimes supposed, coming from extreme Radicals, to be inconsistent with the Imperial idea, but he believed that they could not hope to maintain the Empire, the very life of which was a daily miracle if they looked at the theoretical facts of the case, except by that kind of give and take. They had given up principles, many of them hoped never to live to have to give up, to try to meet Colonial opinion on those points, and they felt that at last they were on the point of success, and that at this moment there was a distinct attempt on the part of the Colonies to come sufficiently towards us to justify real hope now of solving this question of federation. He seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House, recognising signs of a growing opinion on the part of the self-governing Colonies of South Africa in favour of safeguarding the rights and future of the Natives in any scheme of political unification or federation, expresses its confidence that His Majesty's Government will welcome the adoption of provisions calculated to render possible the ultimate inclusion of the whole of British South Africa in federal union."—(Mr. Alden.)


said that no one on that side of the House could possibly take exception to the Resolution which had been so ably moved and seconded. Much less would anyone object who knew the Colonies and the value of the suggestions made in the Resolution. He perhaps would suggest to his right hon. friend who had just sat down that the word "interfere" was a strong word, and that they might use the words "responsible suggestion" based on an undoubted right, but he did not think that a Resolution of this kind accepted by the House of Commons was an interference. We had, and always had had, in South Africa, particularly in Zululand, and we preserved the right in the Orange River and Crown Colonies, to safeguard as far as possible the interests of the native races. His right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham, when the settlement of the late war was made, said— We cannot consent to purchase peace by leaving the coloured population in the position in which they stood before the war, with not even the ordinary civil rights which the Government of the Cape Colony has long conceded to them. That was a very important statement, which he thought no succeeding Colonial Secretary could possibly neglect to appreciate or to put in practice in principle. Those of them who watched with great anxiety the development of affairs in South Africa, the development of government as represented by responsible Government, welcomed the idea of federation or unification, because, as the mover of the Resolution had said, it would solve the question of the position of the native races, and this country's undoubted right was to make a suggestion, a strong, friendly, and firm suggestion, that in the achievement of federation we would not rest during the period of negotiations while our influence could possibly be brought to bear to secure a just and fair settlement of this question. He much preferred to stand on the ground of our constitutional right than upon one suggestion made by the mover of the Resolution. His speech was made in admirable temper. He was a good democrat and represented Radical principles, and would not take exception to what he was going to say. The hon. Member suggested that because Natal had only 22,000 voters her responsibility was less to be supported, if he might put it so, than if she had, say, ten times that number of voters. Once they granted responsible government to a Colony, whether it had 10,000 or 500,000 voters, that responsibility was theirs, and there could be no invasion of that democratic principle by public opinion in this Home or in any other Assembly.


I only meant that the franchise was not sufficiently democratic.


said he was glad to have that explanation, but the hon. Member would not object to his having drawn attention to that particular statement, because the House knew well that if Natal made a mistake in native policy, which produced internal troubles ending in rebellion it was the 22,000 voters who would have to bear the expense of that trouble. Therefore, the House should feel, and he believed they did feel, great sympathy with a young and struggling Colony like Natal. Let the House only stop to think of what was the position of a Colony like Natal. Little scattered groups of people in a great country, isolated from their fellows, with no military protection of any kind, surrounded by a dark race who had scarcely emerged from barbarism, upon whom the influence of the missionaries, which was for good, could do nothing more than perhaps soften the barbarity.


was understood to interrupt with reference to the churches.


said he thought the interjection was most unworthy. He was trying to keep the debate upon a basis free from recrimination of any kind, and he hoped he would be permitted to make what he believed would be a moderate speech upon a grave question. The position of the settlers in Natal was one which must evoke the sympathy of every right-thinking person, and if they had made mistakes by alienation of land, and by putting down the power and authority of chiefs, and at the same time have not educated them sufficiently that they could exercise and use the opportunity which had been given to them, that was a thing which could be remedied, and they in that House were concerned to express the opinion and the feeling that Natal would do well to weigh the Report of the Native Affairs Commission, and to read and inwardly digest the Minute by Mr. Samuelson, the Under-Secretary for Native Affairs, and to bring in such a Bill as would remedy what they knew to be undoubted grievances. What he was pleading for was that something like a first estimate should be made of the difficulties and dangers under which a Government like that of Natal laboured, in building up an administration and a Government under conditions of unparalleled difficulty. There was not a Colony anywhere that had the difficulties that Natal had. Rhodesia might have them by and by, but let them take Canada, with her handful of native population, the preponderating influence always that of the white population. Canada had pursued a wise policy of education and of industrial education. Australia had a handful of aborigines, and she had been able to deal with them without difficulty. New Zealand had a very small proportion of black men, Maoris, to the general population; 300,000, he thought, was the general white population of New Zealand, and there were between 30,000 and 40,000 Maoris. The question was a comparatively easy one. But it was different in a Colony like Natal, where there were eleven coloured people, including Asiatics and Indians and "others" as they were called, to one white man. That must be taken into consideration, and in giving their assent to the Resolution, as he hoped the House would unanimously, they should keep in mind the broad general views and general principles. If confederation came, there must, of course, be the franchise. It was impossible that there could be federation without the franchise. He was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean that General Botha was in favour of the franchise. That was an immense step.


I did not go so far as to say that. I said there was every reason to suppose that the extreme view of opposition to the franchise was falling off.


trusted that the right hon. baronet's hope would be fully realised. If it was the case that the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony would accept the Cape franchise for the natives, there seemed to be no obstruction to federation, because already they had the Courts, the Customs, and the railways federating. The one bar to federation and the thing which had made every person interested in South Africa extraordinarily, anxious, had been this native question. He had not the slightest doubt that Natal, having learned many lessons by her late troubles, and having these exhaustive and suggestive Reports before her, would be prepared to extend her franchise. He was convinced she ought to do so. He was not at all sure that when that franchise came it would not come in two forms. Mr. Cecil Rhodes once made a very remarkable statement advocating equal rights for every civilised man south of the Zambesi. He said "civilised man." No one would suggest that they should give the franchise to the uncivilised natives of Zululand; but he believed it would be a good thing to give the Zulus in Zululand, under present conditions, representation in responsible Government at Pietermaritzburg. If, at the same time, they gave the franchise to the civilised black man, the civilised native who had raised himself to an educational and industrial position equal to that of the white man, then they would have a double representation. The interests of the uncivilised, the untrained, the undeveloped Zululand native would be protected on the one hand, and on the other hand the man, no matter what his colour, who had raised himself to the rights of citizenship would also be represented in the Colony. He felt himself that that would be the only solution. The United States natives were given their franchise too soon, before the masses had been lifted, to a position where they could properly assume the rights of citizenship. South Africa could not always be a place where black men did only unskilled labour, and, if ever it was to have a Government which would represent the black races as well as the white, and if the state of civilisation of black races was ever to be such as would entitle them to the place of citizenship, it could only be, whatever the federation might be, upon the basis of industrialism. The only good thing there was about slavery was that it did not teach the native races skilled trades. Industrialism was the order of the day in the United States plantations. In the days of slavery every plantation was the centre of industry. It was folly to talk of teaching the native man and woman to read and write and expect that that was going to solve the problem in South Africa. If it would, then our civilisation, based upon skilled labour, slowly developed, would after all be a trifle. We had in 1,000 years produced a highly-trained, highly-skilled civilisation, and not in twenty nor fifty years would the native races in South Africa attain to the position even that our humblest classes had attained by virtue of heredity; because the hereditary strain, and the tendency of ages, and the instinct for labour and for government, would not be there. Everybody who had studied the case admitted that the tribal system, so far as the civil law was concerned, had been extremely good. Wherever they had a wise chief and a strong man with his series of precedents he controlled his tribe effectively. It was when they came to the criminal law that they were presented with very grave difficulties. It seemed to him that in any solution of the problem the tribal system must be maintained up to a certain point, that the native chiefs must not further have their power taken from them, and that their position must not be made less powerful by what would be ineffective attempts to give to the natives before their time the advantages and the privileges of a liberal citizenship. What he had said had been conceived in a spirit of sympathy with the Resolution, which he believed the House would do well to pass. He could only hope that their act would strengthen the hands of those in South Africa who were keen for federation, and that they would realise that this was an Imperial question and that our power in the end was paramount. While our power was paramount and while the Colonies remained in constitutional connection with this country, he hoped they would so far realise their own responsibilities that neither intervention nor interference would be necessary. Before closing, he wished to refer to one thing mentioned by his tight hon. friend who had alluded to a question which he (Sir Gilbert Parker) asked concerning Dr. Sansome. He put the question upon the basis of our responsibility for the native races. He was anxious to know if the Government was satisfied that those conditions which Dr. Sansome had established under great difficulty and with splendid effect were to be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade found no fault with the repeated appeals concerning our responsibility for the retrenchment of British Civil servants in the Transvaal. Before the Constitution was granted they urged and urged that some provision should be made for retrenched Civil servants. That was his only reason for putting the question. The President of the Board of Trade accepted the responsibility for safeguarding the interests of retrenched Civil servants and promised that wherever possible they should be given positions under this Government, either in the Colonial service or in some other department of the State. He trusted that there would be no dissentient voice, and that the Resolution would be carried. Even upon the question of martial law—a very difficult and delicate question on which he would not venture—the House might be united. For his own part, he thought that Natal, if she had to take action again, might not perhaps pursue the same course. In any case, this Government's authority, even on that question, constitutionally and legally, must be admitted and he, for one, was glad of the opportunity of joining in the debate.


To-night's debate is, I think, a happy augury for the future of South Africa. I think everyone who has listened to this debate will agree that, if every one of our self-governing Colonies had been represented here to-night, it would all have been to the good. The Motion is one of very great importance, but I hope my right hon. friend, whose eloquent speech on a subject he has made his own I would specially acknowledge, will forgive me if I do not make any definite announcement on the second part of the Resolution in reference to federation. The Government in this matter, warned by precedent, are determined not to attempt to lead in this matter, but to leave it to the South African Colonies themselves to work out the problem.

MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)

What does the hon. Gentleman wish to be left out of the Resolution?


I am saying that the Government do not wish to make any statement about federation. They prefer to let the initiative come from the Colonies themselves. With regard to the first part of the Resolution—the most important part—on the subject of the native races, we welcome the words of the Resolution. It recognises the growing desire of our self-governing Colonies in South Africa to ameliorate the native lot. I am far from saying that the desire has been absent in the past. I can show in a moment that there always has been that desire. There are growing signs that all South African opinion is determined to give some representation to the native, whether by direct franchise or by some other method. I think it would be well if I were to take the different Colonies one by one, and sketch very briefly what is the situation, and what we may hope it to be. I will say first that the Government—and I am sure every Member of the House realises to the full the special responsibilitity which we have to the natives, and that in dealing with the self-governing Colonies and the natives residing in them we can act best in cordial co-operation with the Colonies, and we rejoice to know that we have reason to expect that cordial co-operation. Let us come first to Natal. I have been asked one or two definite questions, and I will endeavour to reply to them. On the general question of Natal, it is the most difficult because the whites there are in such a small minority. They form about one-tenth of the whole population, and no one who has seen, as I have seen, that Natal landscape, with one farm occupied by a white man surrounded by miles of country on which are dotted about the little holdings and huts of Kaffirs, who, though they are, and I hope will always remain, loyal and contented, are yet sometimes thought to be a source of danger—no one who views that spectacle can fail to understand that it is difficult for the people of Natal to take a very impartial view of this question which I am sure they would do if they were removed from the scene. Since my hon. friends in this House know that I myself hold strong views on this matter, which I know the Government share, I may be permitted to make this remark as to the special difficulties in Natal, and no one can speak on the subject without referring to them. Natal, I am glad to say, has always been in favour, except in times of storm and distress of giving the negroes representation. I was surprised to find how emphatic was her opinion in 1897 when the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean moved in the matter. Largely in consequence of a deputation which he accompanied, and on which I think he spoke, suggestions were made to the Government that special representation should be given to the natives, and the Council of Natal, nearly all Natal men, made a statement which shows plainly that Natal—and some people who wrote that despatch are still there—is strongly in favour of native representation. I have been asked by the hon. Member who moved the Motion in a speech of great moderation, to make some announcement to-night about martial law in Natal, or rather in Zululand. I fear I cannot make any announcement as to the termination of martial law, because martial law cannot end in Natal until the Legislature has met and an Act of Indemnity is passed. This follows the precedent which we ourselves followed after the South African War. It is, no doubt, necessary to pass an Act of indemnity before you put an end to martial law. It is necessary because if you abolish it without passing an Act of Indemnity, every act done during this martial law, or, as it should be put, in the absence of law, involves an action at law, and I think that would be manifestly unfair to the humble instruments of the Government who act, as they are bound to do, by the order of their superiors. In the absence of an Act of Indemnity they would be liable to severe pains and penalties under the ordinary law, and for that reason, by universal practice—and I say nothing as to the merits of martial law—you retain martial law until you pass an Act of Indemnity, not to protect the rich and powerful but the weak and humble instruments who carry out your policy.

MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)

asked whether it was proposed to draw a wet sponge over all their wrong-doing?


I cannot accept a statement of that kind, because it is, of course, opening up a large question, which I have not time to deal with, as to the merits of martial law in general. But as to the retention of martial law until an Act of Indemnity is passed, I hope I have made it plain that it is necessary in order to protect the instruments of the Government.

MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)

May I ask whether it has not been the practice also to summon Parliament to pass an Act of Indemnity as soon as the necessity for martial law has passed away?


Certainly. Now we are on common ground. The Parliament of Natal will meet in the course of the next two or three weeks, when an Act of Indemnity will be presented, and we can trust that then martial law will come to an end, and we may hope it will not again be required. There is only one thing more to be said about martial law, the existence of which every man deplores, and that is that, as far as we know, although it exists nominally for the reasons I have stated, in the words of the Prime Minister, Mr. Moor, it is practically not in existence. Of course, my hon. friend may say that the Prime Minister of Natal, of whom we speak with every respect, would naturally take a favourable view because he was responsible for the policy in its inception. But we have a stronger witness in this matter, and this witness is the Governor himself who, as my hon. friend will remember, protested at the start against the enactment of martial law. He says that during his tour in Zululand he saw practically no traces of martial law, and the natives did not complain on that subject although they complained of many others, notably the loss of cattle. So that we may say, in this matter of the natives, that martial law is practically not in existence, on the assurance of the Governor, whose objection is very well known, and who may be accepted as an impartial witness in this, as I am sure he is on all other matters. But there is one drawback, that in the matter of Dinizulu, during the continuance of martial law, the Government of Natal are of opinion that it would be unwise to allow evidence to be collected there. On that I can only say it is regrettable that that should be the case, but that the Government of Natal appear to be anxious to meet the difficulty, and have, so we understand, arranged for any witnesses which may be required to be brought from Zululand into Natal for the purpose of the defence of Dinizulu. I admit that that is not a complete solution of this difficulty, but at least it shows a desire to do something to mitigate the difficulty which has been created. I cannot add more on the subject of Natal except to reply to the specific questions of my hon. friend with regard to Dinizulu. He asked what is being done about Dinizulu, and how much longer is he to remain without a definite charge being formulated against him. In this matter, as I endeavoured to explain at Questions, and as I think the President of the Board of Trade explained when he was at the place which I now have the honour to occupy, the situation here is remarkable. It is certainly not the fault of the Government of Natal. They have got this remarkable law, the ordinance of 1845. Under that law, copies of which I have sent to one or two of my hon. friends behind me, it is necessary for the magistrates to hold a preliminary inquiry to ascertain what definite charge shall be formulated. The House will see that this may be an excellent law for ordinary cases. I do not say that it is, but it may be. But for cases like that of a great native chief, which involve matters of the utmost consequence, numberless witnesses and far-reaching issues of the utmost importance, it is plainly a most undesirable law, for it practically amounts to a man having two protracted trials, the first one on no definite charge. But this is no fault of the Government of Natal. They are bound to proceed under this law. They did not even pass the law. We gave it to them, and handed it over to them with all the other laws when Natal became a self-governing Colony. So that in the matter of delay the fault lies with the law, and the fault of the law, if it be a bad one, does not lie with the Government of Natal. But the fact remains, and it is deplorable that this great native chief should remain so long without a definite charge being formulated against him. I have told the House that the Secretary of State is in constant communication with the Government of Natal with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done to accelerate the matter. At least this much is done, that he is assured of being defended by the most able counsel in South Africa, and I have reason to hope that no delay will take place which is not rendered necessary by the exigencies of the case itself as complicated by the law of 1845. I trust I have answered the questions put to me, and if I have not it is because my time is of necessity short. With regard to the other self-governing Colonies in South Africa where there is a large number of natives, it is true that in the Orange River Colony and in the Transvaal the natives have no votes and no representation at all. There is perhaps some reason for the earnest hope expressed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, if the movement towards either federal union or unification should result in friction, in the fact that these Colonies have plainly indicated that they are willing to join in some form of native representation. I think all persons in South Africa agree that every one ought to be represented by someone in some democratic sense. In the case of Cape Colony the natives have representation. In the case of Rhodesia they are represented, though very few of them have the franchise. In the case of Natal they nominally have the power of representation. In the case of the Protectorates and of Basutoland they are represented in that House. I am sure that both the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal will be willing to adopt some method for giving representation to the natives. Cape Colony has adopted the franchise, and, as my right hon. friend has said, the franchise is the key to the situation. There are many things pressing for solution—native land, native education, native rights of every kind. But given the franchise, these things will solve themselves, and without it we shall labour in vain. Certainly it has worked well in the Cape. In the matter of land the legislation has been wise and in many respects generous. In the matter of education, the college for the education of the natives has received the enthusiastic support, not only of the natives, but also of Colonel Crewe, Mr. Sauer, and many other distinguished men in the Colony. In order to show how highly regarded by the Government of the day the natives are in Cape Colony, I may mention that a Commission composed entirely of natives, in charge of a magistrate, has been sent, with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to the Rand mines to ascertain what amendments could be made in the regulations to meet the wishes of the natives. Such a thing has never been done before in South Africa. They were sent to investigate themselves conditions which affected themselves, and, every one would agree, with the happiest results.


asked whether the hon. Gentleman ignored the adverse opinion which existed in Cape Colony in respect of the present franchise. He spoke as if it had universal acceptance.


Nothing in this world has universal acceptance., and you generally find somebody in this House who objects to everything.


asked whether the hon. Gentleman asserted that there was not widespread objection to the existing franchise in Cape Colony.


There is objection everywhere to every policy. Both great parties in Cape Colony approve of the native franchise. Dr. Jameson emphatically approves of it. Mr. Merriman says we must guard the existing franchise in regard to the natives; and we must never throw that away. The great Imperialist Mr. Rhodes claimed equal rights for all civilised men. Therefore we may at least claim that there is a large measure of agreement as to the desirability of the native franchise as it exists in Cape Colony. I believe the overwhelming majority of the people in Cape Colony are in favour of the existing franchise. But I do not think it would be wise for His Majesty's Government to take the view that the Cape franchise is the only possible solution of the problem. Different States have very different problems to face; and if we attempt to lay down the principle that this kind of franchise is the only plan, we may get an illusory franchise such as now exists in one of the Colonies. Mr. Merriman, whose name will always be received with respect, and who sympathises with the advanced view on this subject, specially guarded himself against forcing this franchise upon other States. Although it is true that the franchise has worked well in Cape Colony, we are not committed to that solution. What His Majesty's Government are committed to is that in any solution of the South African question some special representation must be found for the natives in order to safeguard their rights, and with that, I am glad to think, all people in Smith Africa are now practically agreed. As to our responsibilities to the Protectorates and Zululand, it has been pointed out very truly that no sensible man would object to our interference in native questions in South Africa as such, because we absolutely rule from this House over half a million natives in South Africa, and the ultimate resort of those natives is to the Government of this country. There they have not got the franchise, but in most of the Protectorates, and in Basutoland especially, they have native councils. In Basutoland it has been a great success. In case anyone should think that the Basutos are not able to take a sufficiently intelligent part in debate, I may mention that the subjects discussed with great eloquence at the last council meeting were an Education Bill, a Licensing Bill, and an Aliens Bill. Arguments were advanced on the Aliens Bill such as we are familiar with on both sides of this House, on the education question one chief got up and made an eloquent speech in favour of the secular solution, and I regret to inform my hon. friends below the gangway that he was ultimately howled down by the representatives of the different religious bodies. Anyone who reads the debate will see that it shows a very high level of civilisation attained by those people; and although they have not got the vote, they are already sufficiently represented in their council and sufficiently protected by this House to make Basutoland a happy country and a model which may well be followed. I trust that after the right hon. Gentleman opposite has spoken we may hear a word or two from my right hon. friend the Member for Dundee who had a great share in piloting through this House that measure of self-government without which federation would have been impossible. I said that the Government were anxious not to say much on this subject because when we had tried to lead before we failed. Lord Carnarvon in 1875 formulated proposals for federation, but the end was utter failure; and in 1877 an Act was passed to make South Africa one, but we have taken the lead, and these young nations, who are rightly proud of their institutions and of their enterprise do not wish to be led in matters of this kind. These young nations fully realise our special responsibilities to the natives, and, except in times of storm and stress, there is no reason for acrimony or bitterness on the subject. There is complete agreement in all parts of the House, and I think the debate to-night will show that where we can agree in this House the whole Empire can agree upon a form of policy. We cannot now propound a policy, but provision for the due representation of native races is still regarded as essential; and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman opposite will agree that that is still the settled policy of this country, and will, we have reason to believe, be the settled policy of every South African State. The tentative steps towards federal union have not, as we see in the daily Press, yet met with success. But, although the situation is difficult, it is not dark, for it is illumined by a great light. Two white races who fought us so hard have now made an enduring peace. Till that was done there could be no union. But a treaty of peace has been made and will abide, I am convinced; and when the two races have combined I have no doubt that they will unite in their efforts to raise the standard of the natives and to ameliorate their lot, realising that it is their country as much as ours, for they were there first, realising that it is our mission to raise their status, that it is the mission of the whole Empire to raise the status of all under its sway, and in that magnificent work I am firmly convinced that we shall have the co-operation of our self-governing Colonies.


The hon. Gentleman has intimated that his colleague the President of the Board of Trade desires to say a few words this evening. I shall endeavour to confine within the strictest possible limits the observations I have to make. I agree that the policy of this country favours the representation of the natives, and, of course, holding that view, I shall not in any way question or oppose the passage of the Resolution which has been moved and seconded from the other side in speeches characterised by laudable moderation and taste. But I must not be understood as myself adopting all the terms of that Resolution, for I confess it is of a more patronising character than I should my self desire to draw. Passing away from that mere matter of form to the substance of the speeches made by the mover and seconder, I should not desire for a moment to say anything ungracious with regard to the Resolution. What I do feel, and somewhat strongly, is that debates on this question are inopportune when, for better or for worse, self-government has been given to the Transvaal. Of course, hon. Members on the other side know our views upon that. I think it is desirable, as far as possible, to leave the South African Colonies to themselves. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman opposite has said about the rights of this country and about the title of His Majesty the King as paramount chief of the many natives under his sway. No one would stand here and say that we have not a responsibility towards the natives which it may or may not on occasion be absolutely necessary to assert; but I do not think we should be continually saying so in this House. It is a fact which, I believe, is absolutely recognised by the Colonies themselves, and to which they would not for a moment take exception. Therefore, when I speak of the inopportuneness of this Resolution, I would ask whether there is any need of it at the present time in South Africa. Is there any need of assertions of this kind, and of debates in this House on the subject, or is there no immediate need of such debates and such Resolutions? With regard to the natives generally, let me mention what have been the recent events of great importance to the South African Colonies themselves. Quite recently, Sir Godfrey Lagden's Commission has produced a most valuable Report, the result of great knowledge and experience of the question with which they were dealing, and full of wisdom and humanity. I do not believe that any Commission that could have sat in this country could have dealt with the subject with equal knowledge and sagacity. Comment has been made on the attitude of Natal towards the natives. I am sure that I do not desire to say anything hostile to that Colony, especially having regard to the peculiar difficulties and dangers in which she stands. Of course, acts have taken place there about which on a proper occasion I will express my opinion. Assuming for the purposes of argument that things we deplore have been done, does the House think that the discussion of those questions in Parliament at the present moment is more likely or less likely to bring about redress to the natives than, at any rate for a time, leaving opinion to work out for the best in Natal itself? I say that, because after Sir Godfrey Lagden's Commission there has been a Commission in Natal itself. Most important recommendations have been put forward and most serious criticisms have been made upon the Government action by that very Commission. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they think over this matter in a quiet and cool spirit, will feel that it is more likely that opinion will be won over in Natal to a feeling altogether friendly and liberal towards the natives by efforts in the Colony itself than by outside criticism. I do not for a moment dispute that it is possible that the time may come when action may be necessary on the part of this House—I do not in the least wish to anticipate such a necessity or to express the belief that it will take place—but I do say that, whether the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite are more or less sanguine than mine on this question, such interference should not take place till the last possible moment, having regard to the fact that already in Natal there exist strenuous advocates of the cause of the natives in that Colony. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean referred to the warm tribute paid by Sir Godfrey Lagden to the native policy in the Cape. Therefore, you have a large body of opinion in Natal, and by far the largest body of opinion in the Cape, in favour of the cause of the natives, and if we may accept the right hon. Gentleman's authority, given I quite admit with some reserve, there is a growing tendency in the Transvaal to favour the liberal treatment of the natives. I have no knowledge of it, I merely get that information from the right hon. Gentleman himself. Under those circumstances to which I have briefly adverted, opinion in South Africa generally—there are exceptions I know—is strong, or at any rate it is becoming daily sounder and stronger, upon this matter. I confess that while I do not for a moment question the right of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who for thirty years or more has championed the rights of the natives of South Africa and elsewhere, and while I do not deprecate or say a single word against the right of those hon. Gentlemen who sit with him to bring forward the cause of the natives at moments which seem to some of us entirely inopportune, yet I think if His Majesty's Government were to intervene, or to intervene strongly in this respect, they would subject themselves to, I think, almost unanswerable rebuff. Let me say why I think that. As to the Letters Patent which granted self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange Colony, his Majesty's Government took the opportunity of stating on every occasion on which they mounted a platform that no franchise whatever was given to the natives, that they were giving a boon which was unexpected and which was not promised so soon. When they were granting self-government they had every possible right and opportunity to make what terms they thought fit on behalf of the natives whom the right hon. Gentleman now champions. There may be a point of view from which their action in giving no franchise to the natives could be defended, but their action was more emphatic against the natives, in my judgment, than the mere omission to grant them the franchise would indicate. They gave manhood suffrage to the Transvaal. [An HON. MEMBER: White.] Yes, white; and, in doing so, of course they put the coloured argument in its most invidious and emphatic form. For the first time, owing to the action of His Majesty's Government in the great Charter under the Letters Patent, which has been boasted of on every platform, not merely are the natives not given the franchise, for which much might be said, but there is withdrawn for ever the possibility of defending their exclusion from it by setting up in its most invidious form the colour ban. I venture to say that if His Majesty's Government intervene in this matter in the direction desired by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, the result will not be at all desirable. I think they will expose themselves and this country to a most undesirable rebuff. Having said that, I agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me that things are well in Basutoland, I have seen the report of a native council which took place in Basutoland, and agree with the Governor in the tribute which he paid with respect to the speeches made on the occasion. I am certain that the conclusions arrived at were as statesmanlike as those come to in certain other assemblies. There is one matter I should like to mention in regard to martial law in Natal, and I should be glad on this point if I had the advantage of the attention of the Prime Minister. I understand, and his colleague will correct me if I am not right in the facts, that in the view of the Governor of Natal the proclamation of martial law was not warranted. That is to say, that there was not, in his judgment, a state of things in Natal which warranted the proclamation of martial law, and thereby the suspension of the ordinary law of the country. I understand also that, on the legal aspect of the question whether such a state of circumstances existed in Natal as would warrant the proclamation of martial law, the Colonial Office and Lord Elgin were entirely of the same opinion as Sir Matthew Nathan, the very able and experienced administrator of that country. But I understand that His Majesty's Government referred to the law officers of the Crown the question whether under these circumstances a Governor who authorises the proclamation of martial law in a Colony is entitled to refuse that which his Ministers advise to the contrary. I understand that the Law Officers of the Crown expressed the opinion that a Governor, no matter what view he takes of the legality or illegality of the proclamation of martial law, is bound to follow the advice of his Ministers in a self-governing Colony. I should myself like to say that I do not think that that is a question which is or can be set at rest by the opinion of the law officers. I have the greatest respect for the opinion of the present law officers of the Crown, and for the great profession to which they belong, but I do not think that His Majesty's Government, or the Prime Minister himself, would say that this question, which is a most grave and serious one, can be settled by the ipse dixit of the law officers. It is a question of the highest constitutional importance, and one upon which, if the Government have made up their minds upon it, we ought to have the opinion of the Prime Minister himself, or the Secretary for War, both of whom have every legal qualification in addition to their other qualifications to give it. Without venturing to express an opinion of a very decisive character myself, I should regret on behalf of the Governors of the self-governing Colonies that any hasty dictum of this House, and certainly of the Law Officers, should go forth which would bind them, against their own judgment in believing a proclamation to be illegal, and bind them, because Ministers advised them, to take action amounting to what is practically the suspension of the Constitution. I venture to submit that question with great respect to the Prime Minister. I feel that if that position were to be accepted, it would be difficult for any man of spirit or with a due sense of responsibility to accept the office of Governor. I should like to add that to refuse to accept the advice of responsible Ministers on such a subject would be an act of the greatest responsibility on the part of the Governor, but I think if a Governor's opinion is definitely against it, it ought to be proclaimed here that he has a right to give that opinion.


The Prime Minister has asked me to conclude this debate in the few minutes that remain, but I confess that when I cast my mind back over its tranquil course I can hardly think of any reason which would require any further intervention from this bench except the last observations that fell from the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It is true that, with regard to martial law in Natal, a difference of opinion arose between the Governor and the Government of Natal, and that difference of opinion is expressed in the pages of the Blue-book. It is know that my noble friend the late Colonial Secretary expressed his concurrence with the action taken by Sir Matthew Nathan. No doubt there is something anomalous in the continuance of the good relations that prevail between Sir Matthew Nathan and the Natal Government in view of this public difference of opinion; but I do not think that that actual divergence on this particular point is of any disadvantage to the public service or to the general interests of South Africa, or the special interests of Natal. Sir Matthew Nathan undoubtedly exercises a great influence over the Government of Natal, and I do not think that the influence of this country has been weakened by his independent position on this question. It is a very difficult situation and nothing but good will on both sides will enable us to find a way out of it. I am sure that the Government would never allow such a grave constitutional matter as this to be settled simply by the opinion of the law officers of the Crown on a point of law. It is obviously not only a matter of constitutional law, but of high public policy. I have only a word to say with regard to the two issues raised by the Resolution; they are, federation and native policy, and they are interwoven. The movement towards unity in South Africa is growing in strength and increasing in progress every day. It arises mainly from the fact that the old duality in South Africa which existed before the war has been destroyed; that there is only one flag; that both races have conic together; that embarrassment of their means has led them to look for a less expensive form of government than they possess at present; and that the natural forces of cohesion have combined to bring them more into a larger synthesis of government. Our attitude towards it has been very well defined by my hon. friend the Under-Secretary. We desire not to initiate, but to guide that movement; not to impel, but to assist it; and we have taken every step to be ready to assist at every stage the Colonial Governments when they recur to us for our advice. The Imperial Government have a serious part to play. We must seek to make any scheme of South African federation thoroughly comprehensive. It is further our duty to see that the interests of the natives are properly safeguarded. But do not let us be too sanguine of the speed at which unity in South Africa will be attained. The sentiment is undoubted, the movement grows in strength every day, but the obstacles are real and serious. The right hon. Baronet knows well that apart from the local and personal interests which cannot but exert an important influence upon any such movement towards unity, there are the divergences of native policy, difficult, though not impossible, to reconcile, and there is the great conflict in financial interests which arises from the railway policy and the railway interests of the coastal and the inland Colonies. I do not doubt that South Africa will weather these difficulties; I do not doubt that she will eventually achieve; but we are not, and we cannot be certain at present in what form the Movement for South African unity will surmount the obstacles I have mentioned. We cannot tell how far South African unity will be attenuated in the passage of those obstacles. We do not know, whether we are going to get complete unification, or close confederacy, or merely an association of States for certain common purposes like defence, justice, and education. The very uncertainty, hopeful uncertainty, but still uncertainty, which broods over the South African situation makes it impossible for the Government to make any statement as to what they will do consequent on federation in respect to native Protectorates, in respect to native policy generally. It would be the height of folly on our part to say that we shall not deal with the Protectorates in any large policy until such and such specific conditions have been complied with, or, on the other hand, that we are content, on any form of unification being attained, immediately to resign our responsibility in respect to those Protectorates. We must wait and we must watch. And I am bound to say that there is one very hopeful feature in this debate. Members as divided as the hon. Member for Tottenham and the hon. Member for Gravesend put Resolutions on the Paper in almost similar terms. The Romans had a maxim, Divide et impera. That is a maxim which finds no echo on either side of this House, however much opposed in regard to South African policy. We have got beyond that. We have achieved the great realisation that permanent Imperial interests cannot exist apart from the true interests of South Africa. Just as two years ago I asked the House to repose the future of the British flag in South Africa upon the reconciliation and not upon the rivalry of races, so I am sure we are taking only another natural step when we look for a continuance of our influence in South Africa in the union and not in the division of States.

Resolved, That this House, recognising signs of a growing opinion on the part of the self-governing Colonies of South Africa in favour of safeguarding the rights and future of the natives in any scheme of political unification or federatoin, expresses its confidence that His Majesty's Government will welcome the adoption of provisions calculated to render possible the ultimate inclusion of the whole of British South Africa in federal union.—(Mr. Alden.)