HC Deb 03 July 1919 vol 117 cc1227-9

With regard to the mandates for the Colonies, it was decided in the negotiations that the German Colonies should be disposed of, not by way of distributing them among the conquerors, but rather by way of entrusting them to great Powers-to be administered in the name and on behalf of humanity; and the conditions under which these mandates were entrusted to the various countries differed according to the particular territory disposed of. For instance, South-West Africa, running as it does side by side with Cape Colony, was felt to be so much a part, geographically of that area that it would be quite impossible to treat it in the same way as you would a colony 2,000 miles or 3,000 miles away from the centre of administration. There is no doubt at all that South-West Africa will become an integral part of the Federation of South Africa. It will be colonised by people from South Africa. You could not have done anything else. You could not have set Customs barriers and have a different system of administration. The same thing applies to New Guinea, part of which is already under the administration of the Australian Commonwealth. You could not have had that part under one system of administration, and the next part under another. It is so near the Australian Commonwealth that it was felt that it ought to be treated as if it were part of the Australian Commonwealth. That does not apply to Togoland, the Cameroons, or German East Africa, and, therefore, there was a different system of mandate set up there.

But if hon. Members will look at the conditions of the mandates they will find that they are the conditions which now apply in respect of British Colonies throughout the world—freedom of conscience and religion, prohibition of the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or of military and naval bases, the prohibition of the military training of the natives for other than police purposes, and the defence of territory. We have never raised an army for aggressive purposes in any of these Colonies. Equal opportunities for trade and commerce—we have allowed that in all our Colonies without distinction. So you find that the conditions of the mandate described here are the conditions which we ourselves have always applied in respect of British Colonies throughout the world. Under this mandate the responsibilities of the British Empire have been enormously increased. Something like 800,000 square miles have been added to the gigantic charge already on the shoulders of this Empire, a charge which has undoubtedly been fulfilled in a way that has won the wonder of the whole world. There have been constant references to British administration — its efficiency, its fairness, its gentleness to the natives, the manner in which it won its way, the confidence that it established everywhere—that was a common matter of observation throughout the whole of this great Conference in Paris.