Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £101,329, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies."—[Note: £62,000 has been voted on account.']
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
The introduction of the Colonial Estimates is rightly regarded as the one opportunity in the year for reviewing the administration during the preceding year of the non-self-governing portions of the Empire for the carrying on of which the Colonial Office is responsible to this Parliament. My task is not an easy one, owing to the enormous range of subjects on which I feel it my duty to touch. The outstanding questions of recent days, of course, have been Rhodesia and Kenya, but, in view of the many questions affecting the different portions of the non-self-governing Empire, I propose to deal with the items in geographical order commencing with the West Indies, and followed by West Africa, South Africa, East Africa, Ceylon, the Eastern Colonies, the Middle East, Ireland, and the Imperial Economic Conference. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Palestine?"] The Middle East included Palestine.
With regard to the West Indies, I would like, first, to welcome the appointment at long last of a Parliamentary Committee of this House and the other House to take an interest in our oldest and most historic colonies. When I was out with my right hon. Friend, who is now President of the Board of Education 492 (Mr. Edward Wood), we learned that these ancient colonies, which we govern by officials and other representatives, had felt from time to time that their interests for which we are responsible did not receive the attention that they should receive from us. That Committee, I am sure, will be useful. During the past year the necessary steps have been taken to carry out the recommendations of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education as the result of our tour with regard to constitutional reform, and we are now ready for the final issue of Letters Patent, etc., in connection with new Constitutions for Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad, and Jamaica. The Dominica discussions are still proceeding. Though it was not recommended in the Report, we subsequently decided to introduce an elected element and a franchise for the first time in the island of Dominica.
During the past year there has also been issued the Report of the Currency Committee, of which I was Chairman. If the West Indian Colonies concur in our proposal and the Treasury here can absorb in the ordinary currency of this country the Imperial silver now in use in the West Indies, it will, if the West Indian Colonies agree among themselves, be possible for them to have their own currency system suited to their traditions and needs, and that currency may give them the nucleus of a fund which may be used for common purposes. The whole thing will depend upon whether Jamaica can fall into line with the Eastern Antilles. With regard to the ever fresh question of the possibility of anything in the nature of federation in the West Indies, it is perfectly clear that the tentative proposals made by my right hon. Friend met with considerable local difficulties, and anything in the direction of progress in that much desired direction must be a plant of slow growth. Though it is most desirable that the public services—the medical service, the police service, and such like—if it can be brought about, should be uniform, that can only be done if we can get the various islands, and especially the islands which can actually see one another across the Straits, to come together and to agree to some tentative form of federation.
The next important item to which I should like to refer is the opening of 493 what was called the West Indian Agricultural College at Trinidad. That agricultural college has now started work, and we have already decided that it should not serve the needs of the West Indian Colonies alone, but that it should become the central tropical agricultural college for the whole of our tropical Empire. We propose to change its name to the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture. The college is not a parochial concern merely controlled by the local Government of Trinidad. It has on its board perhaps the greatest of our British tropical authorities. It v.' run on the lines of private enterprise with the blessing and financial assistance of the Imperial and Colonial Governments. We propose to change its name, and its aim is going to be to provide for the needs of all tropical dependencies and to become the chief centre of agricultural research and for the training of staff.
I want to say one word about communications. Anybody interested in the West Indies always comes back to shipping and cable communications. There is perhaps a good deal of complaint in the West Indies on that vexed question. Of course, it is very largely a matter of money. We are going on with the new cable. The West Indies now are 'connected with Canada and the United Kingdom by the Halifax-Bermuda cable and the Bermuda-Turks Island-Jamaica cable. This is called the Direct West India Company. It is an all-British cable:. Beyond Jamaica the only communication with the East and West Indian Colonies is by the West India and Panama Telegraph Company. The cables have to go through to Bermuda, down to Jamaica, get on to the cable of the new company and come back eastward again and go down the Lesser Antilles to British Guiana. The cables of the West India and Panama Company are very old, breaks have been frequent, and communications have been totally held up for months at a stretch. We have had a good deal of dissatisfaction in the Colonies and demands for improvement. The financial position of the company is not a good one, and at present the Government subsidy of £26,300 a year provided by the United Kingdom and Canada and the West Indian Colonies alone stands between it and a very serious position.
494 I am afraid that there is very little prospect of it being able to raise the necessary new capital for improvement. But the real drawback to this system is that the cable between England and Canada via Jamaica and Trinidad, the Eastern Antilles, and British Guiana goes through foreign territory and can be tapped there. It is desired by everybody who has gone into this question that we should have an all-British cable service to our Eastern Antilles.
There is another thing. The West India and Panama Company are tied up with the Cuba Submarine Company, and the Cuba Submarine Company have an agreement which cannot be upset, whereby they virtually take a toll from the West Indies in regard to communications with the West Indies on this line. They can either compel the West India and Panama Company to send the messages over the Cuba Company's cable or to pay the Cuba Company the sum which they would have received if the messages had been so sent. His Majesty's Government have been legally advised that they cannot acquire the West India and Panama Company without acquiring these obligations, which is clearly undesirable. In the circumstances, the better course is thought to be the provision of an entirely new cable. Consequently, it is proposed to run a new cable down from Turks Island, where it will connect with the direct West India Company's cable, to Barbados, from Barbados to Trinidad, and from Trinidad to Jamaica. That would provide a quick reliable service, entirely British. The maximum net annual cost would be less by about £6,000 than the present subsidy to the West India and Panama Company. It would be free of the tie-up with the Cuba Submarine Company, and, therefore, when the contract with the West India and Panama Com-comes to an end, as it does in September, 1924, we hope by then that we shall have a new cable in working order and shall be able to take over the Eastern Services.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I cannot give the exact figure at present. Naturally, negotiations are proceeding with cable companies, but, as I say, the estimated subsidy which will be required will be sub- 495 stantially less than those we are now paying the West India and Panama Company.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
Does that mean that the Government are going to use the taxpayers' money to injure a private company?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The taxpayers' money is now being used for this company, which is tied up with this obligation. It is a service which goes through foreign territory. For all those reasons, it has been decided by the British Government to have an all British cable.
I now pass to West Africa. It is my Noble Friend's intention, if Parliamentary exigencies allow, that I should undertake this winter, in Nigeria, the Gold Coast, and Sierre Leone a similar Colonial mission to that which was taken by my predecessor, the object being to bring the Colonial Office and one or two officials of the Department into touch with the men on the spot, to see what is being done, to receive representations, and to report to the Secretary of State generally upon the various problems that arise in the West African Colonies. We do believe that it is of vast importance, not only that there should be visits to the Dominions from representatives of this Parliament, but that these dependent Colonies should from time to time receive visits from, and should be brought into closer touch with, the Parliamentary chiefs for the time being.
Nigeria, after all, is our greatest dependency of the non-self-governing portions of the Empire. In point of population, it has become the third constituent member of the Empire. India is first, with its many hundred millions, this island comes next, and Nigeria is third. In West Africa we have seen in the last 20 or 30 years the most remarkable advance in prosperity and in development. I would like, in this connection, to call to mind the romance of the Gold Coast. Less than 40 years ago there was no cocoa in the Gold Coast. In 1920 £10,000,000 worth of cocoa, produced entirely by natives, was exported, mainly to this country. The progress made in the economic capacity of the African natives, under the wise administration which has marked the West 496 African Colonies, has been really remarkable. Generally, I believe that that is the first step in their progress to civilisation. The first step is the economic development of the native as a producer on his own account. West Africa shows what remarkable results have been achieved, for the native becomes a valuable producer, and produces the raw material which the whole world wants. When that economic foundation has been laid, then education, sanitation, and all other advances can follow. The difficulties the great majority of the West African Colonies suffer under have been the most violent oscillations, commercial, trade, and otherwise, of recent years. During the War, when communications were difficult, exports fell to a very low figure. Then came a tremendous boom in raw materials—I am speaking of the period after the War—then came again the unprecedented slump. Consequently, the budgeting for the West African Colonies has been a matter of no little anxiety both to the Colonial Office and the local Governments in their respective centres.
Let me give some figures. In 1918 the exports from the Gold Coast were valued at £2,600,000; in 1920, £12,350,000; in 1921, at £7,000,000. Such world oscillations are bound to be reflected in the working of the Administration. They have, however, come through their difficult period, and I am happy to report that the Gold Coast is flourishing, that Nigeria has weathered the storm and has pulled through with a balance on the right side. On the top of that difficulty came the importation of spirits. Before the War a very large proportion of the revenue of the West African Colonies was derived from the spirit duty. In the pre-War period, 1913, it was over £1,000,000 on the spirit duty. Wisely, after the War, the Powers decided that the time had come to stop that trade in spirits. It meant very serious financial loss in revenue, which was £1,038,000. That in 1919 was turned to £74,000, and in 1921 to £206,000. This re-arrangement meant wiping out a considerable proportion of the revenue. The country is not the sort of place where you can impose or collect an Income Tax, and we were thrown back upon the import duty. The import duties are as high as they possibly can be. They cannot be increased. There- 497 fore it has been necessary to put on an export duty. I know there is a feeling amongst the West African people that these duties ought to go. They will go when the revenue can be made good—obviously not before. Every effort is being made reasonably to cut down the ordinary expenditure on administration, and every effort will be made in that direction. Obviously, in countries like these, developments must proceed. They want railways, roads, and communications of all kinds. You cannot starve your economic or education departments without danger. Consequently the position is rather difficult. I may say, in connection with the spirit duties, that since I have been at the Colonial Office we have had some trouble as to the exact definition of what are trade spirits and what are not. We have taken the decision of allowing high grade gins to go in, but only high grade and specified gins.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
It virtually comes to that. They will not be prohibited as trade spirits. I have already referred to the question of the railways. The Gold Coast Government have decided, with the sanction of my Noble Friend, to spend certain of its surplus revenue in building new railways through the cocoa area of the Central Provinces. We are considering whether or not the time has come when private enterprise can participate in the improvement of the transport facilities in the interior of Africa. Hitherto private enterprise has been shy to take up this difficult work, and it has fallen to the Colonial Office to make the initial moves in practically every case. In opening up a new country, especially like that of tropical Africa, you do not get an early return, but my Noble Friend has set up a Private Enterprise Committee, with very wide terms of reference, and he hopes that business men and men of enterprise will come forward with suggestions to help in this matter. The terms of reference are:To consider whether, and if so what, measures could be taken to encourage private enterprise in the development of British Dependencies in East and West tropical Africa, with special reference to existing and projected schemes of transport; and to report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.498 It is proposed that the right hon. the Earl of Ronaldshay, late Governor of Bengal, shall be chairman; and the other Members who have accepted are my hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. J. C. C. Davidson, M.P.), the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Manchester (Sir E. Stockton), Sir James Stevenson, Commercial Adviser to the Colonial Office, Mr. C. E. Gunther, and Sir William Mercer. Sir William Ackworth, K.C.S.I., and the right hon. Sir Frederick Lugard, formerly Governor of Nigeria, and Mr. E. R. Peacock have been invited and have not yet replied. I hope the result of their exploration into this matter may be fruitful of result. Much remains to be done in linking up of railways and opening up of the country. Further, in connection with West Africa I have to announce that recently we have had an important conference at the Colonial Office consisting of the African Governors and Colonial Secretaries home on leave—and there have been a good many—together with our educational advisers, as to the future of native education in Africa. We want to avoid making mistakes at this critical stage. We want to explore the experience of the world as to what is the Best and most helpful form and type of education that we can give to the Africans, for the purpose of giving light to New Africa. With that view, we have formed a permanent Committee, and I hope shortly to get a permanent Secretary, to advise on this issue. We were led to this largely as the result of a most extraordinary interesting report issued by Dr. Jesse Jones, who has travelled, not only through the British Colonies, but through French Africa, the Belgian Congo, and the Portuguese Colonies. He has made a most helpful contribution to the subject of African education from the point of view of the native. It is hoped that Dr. Jones may pay a similar visit to the East African Colonies. This Committee consists of Sir Frederick Lugard as chairman, Mr. Oldham, who practically represents all the Protestant Missionary Societies, Sir Michael Sadleir, who has great knowledge of Indian education; the Bishop of Edmundsbury, who was formerly head master of Rugby, and Sir James Currie, director of the Gordon College at Khartoum, who has had ex- 499 perience in the Sudan, and at present is doing such valuable work in connection with the Empire Cotton Growing Movement. He knows that side as well as the education side. We hops that the Committee will be able to contribute very materially to the progress of the new educational movement taking place in Africa. I may say that the Governor of the Gold Coast is quite an enthusiast on this particular subject, as he has junior technical and trade classes, boy scouts, and all the rest of it. He has been very successful, and now he also, by the authority of the Secretary of State, has started the first secondary school that ever existed in British West Africa, and that is going forward in a very satisfactory fashion. I may say in this connection that a good deal of development work is being done by the Colonies themselves. It is a fact that in the last three years from November, 1919, to 23rd of March, the British Tropical African Colonies have raised on the London market on their own security no less than £25,000,000 for development work. That is a notable achievement. I hope they will be able to go ahead.
Passing from West Africa, I hope, as I have said, if Parliamentary exigencies allow, in the coming winter to visit West Africa. The outstanding problem, perhaps, with which I have had to deal personally since I went to the Colonial Office in November has been the winding-up, if I may say so, of the British South Africa Company as an administrative body. Everybody, I think, agrees that we cannot any longer justify the government of vast tracts like South and Central Africa by a company. No doubt but for the War considerable changes would have taken place in the regime, which the Colonial Office in 1914 extended for another 10 years. Since then there has been a round, a cheerless round, of litigation before the Privy Council, followed by Commissions, Committees, assessors, and the like. The last thing I was informed of at the Colonial Office was that the British South Africa Company had deposited a Petition of Right. I do not know exactly what a Petition of Right in this connection means, but I understand that it meant two years' litigation.
Obviously, the statesmanlike thing in this matter was to try and arrive at 500 an arrangement agreeable to the people of Southern Rhodesia, the British Treasury, and the representatives of the company, and to have some clear policy for the future. The question of Southern Rhodesia had been settled last November. They were given the option of a referendum to decide whether they would go into the Union of South Africa, or start courageously with self-government on their own. By a considerable majority they chose the latter course, and consequently it became an obligation of honour on the part of the Imperial Government to see that they had a chance of making good under the decision which the people of Rhodesia had come to, and which they had been invited to decide. We, therefore, decided that a responsible Government should be set up in Southern Rhodesia at the earliest possible date, and we decided that that date should be the 1st October this year.
I am glad to say that the new self-governing Colony—because that will be its status in future—has been fortunate in having secured as its first Governor a man who has had great experience in administrative work in England, Sir John Chancellor, and who has previously been the Governor of Mauritius and Trinidad. He leaves this country the first week in September to proclaim the new Constitution and to invite one of the Rhodesian leaders to become the first Prime Minister. His Majesty's Government wish that new Colony every success in the task that now lies before it. It has a fine tradition in connection with native administration and native relations. The task which lies before them of governing 34,000 settlers in a country which embraces a very large territory is no easy one. Our object in Northern Rhodesia was to set up a Government there north of the Zambesi as a separate Colony.
It was obviously desirable that if the Chartered Company's regime came to an end in Southern Rhodesia it should come to an end in Northern Rhodesia as well. To keep the whole administrative machinery of the company going was obviously not in the interests of Northern Rhodesia, and it would have been resented by the people there and was not welcome to the company, and so we had to endeavour to get the Petition of Right out of the way and further litigation and proposals for litigation. We had to look 501 at the thing as a whole and get an all-over settlement. We managed to get an all-over settlement and I understand that the shareholders of the British South Africa Company, at a meeting held yesterday, unanimously agreed to accept the offer of the Government.
It would not be right if I did not make quite clear what that involves. Roughly it involves the payment by the taxpayers of this country of a net sum of £1,500,000 to clear up the Rhodesian business, that is to say to clear up the debt we owe to our agents for what they have done during the past years. The sum of £2,300,000 is due back from the people of Southern Rhodesia, that is the new Government of Southern Rhodesia, to be paid on the 1st January in return for the public works and buildings and approximately 50,000,000 acres of un-alienated land, which under the Privy Council judgment would have been locked up in an extremely cumbersome form of administration as a possible and potential source whereby we could pay our debt to our agents.
Under the Privy Council judgment it has been decided that the British South Africa Company, who have been acting as agents for the Crown, were entitled to the repayment of their administrative deficits. I think it may be looked upon in that way. The British Government is now called upon to pay in one sum what it would have had to pay over a number of years by means of grants-in-aid all over Southern Rhodesia, but we do get certain assets. We get a new Government clothed with new responsibilities which we wish to see made a success with the machinery of the Government and the control of the land, and in Northern Rhodesia we get not only the public works and buildings to start our new Crown Colony Government there, but we also get back whatever rights the British South Africa Company had over the un-alienated land of North-Western Rhodesia. I regard it as being vital to any settlement that the new Government should get control of the policy which has been followed in regard to very large areas, and should be able forthwith, if need be, to set up native reserve commissions or anything of that kind.
We have not had sufficient time to make the plans, and therefore we could not bring the new Government of 502 Northern Rhodesia into operation on the same date as the new Government of Southern Rhodesia. The new Government of Northern Rhodesia will commence as a new colony on the 1st of April next year. I will not go into the whole of the details of the long discussions which I had to conduct with the company and with various people, or explain to the House how and why we arrived at particular figures and deductions, because that would take much too long. I know that the Chartered Company's shareholders say that we have been very hard on them, but we had to drive as hard a bargain as we could in the interests of the taxpayers, and it is a settlement which will clear out of the way all those litigious questions. We have bought the public works and buildings and the land, and we have paid our debt. The Chartered Company are entitled to the administrative debts. That is the central feature of the whole thing, because these debts have been incurred over a period of years during which the company have been acting as our agents.
Let me now say a word or two about the British South Africa Company. I do not think that Southern Rhodesia would be getting self-government to-day, or that we could have taken over and started any good administration in Northern Rhodesia had it not been for the work of the British South Africa Company, and for the fact that they raised from the public millions of money on which they have never received one penny of dividend, and have never made one penny of profit. For 30 years or more they have been carrying on as agents of the Crown a great Imperial work, and it would be most unjust to represent this company as having been a profiteering concern. The shares of the company obviously have not increased in value and remain stationary, which is rather a proof that the settlement arrived at is the right one. If we had given too much the shares would have gone up and if we had given too little they would have come down, but they have remained stationary, which to my mind is evidence that we have arrived at a reasonable settlement. The shares of the company are considerably below par and yet they have carried out this great work. I think it would be very wrong if the Minister in making a speech at the termination of this work did not pay his 503 tribute to the British South Africa Company for the work they have done during all those years. I would particularly like to pay a tribute to all the officers, especially the native commissioners who have been trained there, and have worked under an extremely progressive and good native administration.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Very little of them. The Barotse reserve is a small corner of Northern Rhodesia, and the alienated lands there are not very large. The un-alienated lands in North Western Rhodesia are approximately 76,000,000 acres, and the number of natives on those lands is very small. One of the objects of obtaining control of that land is to demark adequately the reserves. In North Eastern Rhodesia the land is regarded as if it were native land, and at any rate we shall have a free hand in regard to it. In North Eastern Rhodesia the white population is extremely small, consisting of about 500 people. There are areas in which the people exist under purely tropical conditions.
Now I must pass to East Africa. With regard to Tanganyika Territory, there is a special Vote. It is a mandated territory which was formerly a German Colony, and the mere fact that propaganda is still going on in Germany makes it absolutely incumbent upon us to give that vast territory, which in area is larger than Nigeria, and contains a population just over 4,000,000, at least as good and complete an administration as was given by the Germans in that country before the War. We are responsible, not merely to Parliament, in respect of this territory, but I have to go on Tuesday next to Geneva to present the annual report for 1922 of that country which has been received from the Allied Associated Powers in trust.
The Germans surrendered their rights to the Allied Associated Powers as a whole. We have endeavoured to provide a good administration. I admit it is expensive, and the difficulties have been exceptional and quite enormous. The main central railway was terribly damaged during the War, and we have 504 had great difficulty in putting it in order again. I believe there is a great future for that country. I was there myself only for a short time in 1912, and I do believe that, with proper enterprise and the Government working hand in hand with a good Agricultural Department, there is a great future, particularly for cotton growing in parts of that vast area.
Let me come immediately to the controversial question of the Voi-Kahé or Voi-Taveta Railway. Let me at once in the presence of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir E. Hamilton) stand in a white sheet for being inaccurate, and for not knowing that the major portions of that railway lie on the Kenya side of the frontier rather than on the Tanganyika side, which I stated in answer to a supplementary question the other day. On what grounds did my Noble Friend arrive at the decision that we could not keep open or reconstruct the Voi-Kahé Railway?
The arguments which we had before us were these. In August, 1914, the situation as regards railways in that neigh bourhood was as follows: There were two parallel lines, one running from Tanga to Moshi on the German side and the other, the Uganda Railway, running from the Port of Mombasa inland to Nairobi and Lake Victoria. The former took the produce of the plantations situated in the Moshi district to the sea. During the War, in order to facilitate the movement of troops from Kenya, a military railway was laid down between the two points where the two lines were nearest together, that is to say, from Voi on the Uganda Railway to Kahé, not far from the Moshi terminus of the German railway. The construction of this military line was rushed through with great rapidity and with the minimum of engineering. Wooden bridges and other temporary structures were put up and considerations of curves and other matters regarded as essential to a permanent line were ignored, as were, of course, all commercial considerations. This link line was about 93 miles in length, and except for some 10 miles was entirely on the British or Kenya side of the boundary.
After the War the railway became practically derelict, and although very few trains were run on it it had become dangerous for traffic. The temporary structures were in a bad condition—an im- 505 portant bridge had recently been destroyed by a flood—and expenditure quite out of proportion to the traffic had to be incurred to keep the line open. This was an absolute waste of money, and it was agreed that if the link was to be retained very extensive reconditioning would be required, as well as the transfer of its junction from Kahé to Moshi. Estimates presented to my Noble Friend showed that the cost of these works would be £500,000. The question arose, Who was to pay? The suggestion was that this House ought to vote the money, but we could not come down and ask for a Supplementary Vote from this House for a railway to connect two railways which served two districts, one of them being the Uganda railway, which would have an increased volume of traffic and the other the Tanga railway. It was also estimated that the reconditioned line would be run at a net annual loss, at least for some years to come, of about £8,000. Without the link the planters in the Moshi district will have their outlet as before the War at Tanga, but they will not be in direct communication with the Uganda railway. I have here an extract from a letter by a planter which appeared in the Nairobi "Daily Standard" of 3rd May, in which the writer says that he would personally like the line to remain, but from the point of view of revenue "it is a hopeless proposition." As regards local traffic, he odserves:There is absolutely nothing between Voi and Taveta to warrant even the upkeep of a road, much less a railway. In the number of times that the writer has travelled over this line he has never seen a single European passenger or a parcel picked up at intermediate stations. The whole area along the line is very sparsely populated and with the exception of two mission stations the whole area is practically uninhabited.In face of that my Noble Friend had no option but to decide to retain the Tanga-Moshi line and not to retain this derelict military line.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I have said I was completely wrong in my statement on that point. The bulk of it is in Kenya. There is a great sparsity of population along its length. Naturally Kenya would rather spend its money on its own line than on the development of another line. 506 You cannot at any rate ask the British taxpayer to pay for this line. It is proposed shortly to issue another Kenya loan for the purpose of railway development, rolling stock, and the like, and I hope that this development may be helpful to the area through which the railway passes. After all the traffic at Tanga not long before the War was larger than that at Dar-es-Salaam, and the people at Tanga will strongly resent any action that condemns their port to stagnation in order to increase business at Mombasa.
Now let me announce that a Customs Federation has been effected between Kenya, Uganda and the Tanganyika Territory whereby the produce of any one of these Dependencies is admitted free of duty into either of the other Dependencies. The tariffs of the three Dependencies have also been assimilated.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Does that mean that the heavy import duties now-imposed in Kenya are to be imposed on the other Dependencies?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The tariffs will be more or less general. That is the only possible thing to do in three contiguous territories. Let me say in this connection I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Sir Sydney Henn) has succeeded in forming a Committee of merchants and other people interested in East African trade who will be able to confer from time to time with the Colonial Office, in the same way as the West African Chambers of Commerce have done for so long. For many years representatives of the Liverpool, Manchester and London Chambers of Commerce have come periodically with an agenda and discussed matters of interest and helpful to the Colony with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary I am quite sure that both my noble Friend and I will welcome anything on the same lines in connection with anything that will help forward the development and prosperity of the East African Dependency as well as the West African Dependency.
Let me come to Kenya. Both Kenya and Uganda have suffered from the recent trade slump, but they are now showing a considerable improvement. There is an improvement in Kenya, both in the acreage in European occupation under cultivation, and in native production. The Government are absolutely certain that the proper economic basis in 507 Kenya is that native production in the Reserve and European production in the White Island must go hand in hand and must be developed side by side. Joint co-operative effort and increased production by all races in Kenya are essential to the future welfare and prosperity of that country.
I have a word or two to say about the carefully considered wording on the White Paper. I want to make it clear that this is not a mere Departmental decision. It is the decision of His Majesty's Government as a whole taken by the Cabinet. It must not be looked upon merely as a compromise between views put forward by two rival delegations. It is nothing of the kind. A settlement by agreement between the delegations was clearly out of the question, and the Government decided that they must accept full responsibility to Parliament for giving their decision, for promulgating that decision, and for standing by it. They have done so. If it had been merely a local question, I have little doubt the matter could have been adjusted locally long ago, but the difficulties which have arisen in Kenya required a great deal more than mere local consideration. They affected not merely the relations between the India Office and the Colonial Office, not merely between the Government of India and the Government here in London, but they affected the Commonwealth as a whole, and, to a considerable extent, Africa as a whole. The British Commonwealth is an association of men of every race and of every colour scattered in every continent, based on a common loyalty to the Crown, not on any hierarchy of rights, but on a common spirit of service which transcends all narrow racial interests. After all, if European civilisation is menaced by the clash of mutually antagonistic nationalisms there is an even greater peril in the clash of races, and if there is one duty which the British Empire, far-flung as it is, has to civilisation as a whole it is the duty of reconciling such dangerous forces.
In Kenya we have Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Arabs living together, and I feel that the only thing that can be said is that it is the common duty of all to subordinate the narrower conceptions of racial. consciousness to the higher ideal of work- 508 ing together for the Colony and for the Commonwealth as a whole. It is in this spirit and in this hope that the Imperial Government, who are responsible to this Parliament, and this Parliament alone, for the peaceful government and progress of Kenya, put forward its decisions of policy. It will be for the Colonial Office and the Colonial Governor to carry out in detail the policy laid down in this Memorandum. We are the trustees of many great African Dependencies, of which Kenya is one, and our duty is to do justice and right between the various races and interests, remembering, above all, that we are the trustees before the world for the African population. Our administration of this trust must stand eventually before the judgment seat of history, and on it we shall be judged as an Empire. I think I can say no more about this, except that I feel it my duty, as representing the Colonial Office, to say quite definitely that it is regretted that on certain material points it has not been possible to meet the wishes of the Government of India, whose views have received the fullest consideration of His Majesty's Government as a whole, at the instance of the Secretary of State for India, who put them forward quite fearlessly and clearly on behalf of the Government of India.
§ Colonel M. J. WILSON
Would the hon. Gentleman say whether he has received any communication from the settlers or Indians with regard to this White Paper?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I have not personally, but I understand that communications are being sent to my Noble Friend, and my Noble Friend is speaking on the subject in another place, and I daresay he will deal with that point. I must now say a word about Ceylon, on which, I think, several hon. Members are going to speak. We are proposing, and I hope in a few weeks' time we shall have agreed upon, the Ceylon reforms. Under the old Constitution, the Legislative Council contained 37 Members, of whom 14 were official and 23 unofficial. Under the present proposal, which is now under consideration, the Legislative Council will be increased to 48 members, including one additional seat for Colombo, which the Secretary of State recently granted. Of these 48 members, 22 will be elected by territorial constituencies, 11 will be communally elected, and three will be 509 nominated. The number of official members will be reduced to 12. In addition, the following important concessions will be made. All qualified persons, irrespective of race, will vote in the territorial constituencies; residential qualifications for members will be abolished; the Council will elect a Vice-President, who will preside on ordinary occasions in the Council, the Governor only presiding on special occasions. The one outstanding question at this moment is the question of the possible representation of the Tamil section of the population in Colombo and the Western Provinces. I have recently received a telegram on behalf of the Ceylon National Congress, and, as I understand, they will agree, and all other communities have agreed, to these reforms, and will co-operate in working them for the next five years, if this difficulty can be got over. At present, it is perfectly clear that there is a certain amount of feeling between the Tamil community and what are commonly called the low-country Singalese; and the stumbling-block is this special seat for the Tamils in Colombo. It is pointed out, out of a population of 1,200,000 in Colombo and the Western Provinces, the Tamils only number about 20,000, that is to say, less than the Mahommedans; and the offer, which has been communicated to the Governor for his views, is for an additional territorial seat in the Tamil area, or a communal Tamil seat for the whole Colony, either elected or nominated. Naturally one wants the concurrence of the Tamils to get peace between the various sections of the community in Ceylon, and these suggestions have been telegraphed out for the Governor to consider. In this connection, as I know it is going to be referred to by several hon. Members, I may say that I have to-day received a telegram from the Governor, stating that his speech at Jaffna, in the Tamil area, was misquoted, possibly intentionally, and that the garbled version, which has appeared in the Press,bore little resemblance to what I actually said.Those were his words.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I gather that that is all he said that it was garbled 510 and that the report was inaccurate. With regard to Malaya, I want to take this opportunity of expressing the thanks of the Colonial Office for the voluntary gift of the site at Singapore by the Colony of the Straits Settlements—not the Federated Malay States. It is a fitting complement to the very generous gift of the "Malaya" by the Federated Malay States. In Malaya, the tin position is bad, but the rubber position is better. The Stevenson rubber scheme is working well. Before leaving the subject of the Crown Colonies I should like to say one word about Fiji. The sugar industry, which is so important to Fiji, seemed at one time likely to collapse, but the subsequent improvement in prices and the recent arrangement made by the Governor with the leading producing company have removed apprehensions for the immediate future. The chief market for sugar is New Zealand, but for other products more scope is necessary, and, with the closing of the Australian market for bananas, attention is being turned to Canada, and a scheme is being discussed with the Dominion for an improved and specially equipped steamer service. One of the tropical products most in demand in Canada is pineapple, and facilities are being offered by the Government for the establishment of canning factories, and at the same time schemes for assisting planters to grow fruit are under consideration. There are also possibilities in cotton, and in May a cotton expert, with experience in India and Australia, was appointed to advise on cotton cultivation and ginning. The port facilities have been greatly improved in recent years, and the new wharf at Suva is said to be one of the finest in the Pacific. As will have been seen from the Press, we have just had a telegram from the Governor saying that the Legislative Council has passed a Resolution in favour of having on the Council two elected Indian members, and that matter will be taken up with the India Office, as well as other matters connected with Fiji, as soon as my Noble Friend and I have a little leisure for the purpose.
§ Captain BERKELEY
May I ask whether the Government have any intention of approaching the Australian Government with a view to obtaining the removal of the import tax on bananas?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
That is, obviously, a question for the Imperial Economic Conference, and it will be raised there. I shall be representing the Crown Colonies, and shall, have to feel my way before I commit myself to actually putting that suggestions forward, but I am collecting questions which the Crown Colonies desire to be put forward as between the Dominions and this country at the Conference, and I shall endeavour to be their particular godfather.
I have dealt with the Colonial Empire as a whole, which is the main subject of this Debate, and I now turn to the territories under A Mandates, which are, of course, not Colonies in any sense of the word, but for which the Colonial Office is at present responsible. For nearly five years it has been impossible to establish settled conditions in Iraq and Palestine, as we have been awaiting the peace with Turkey which was signed yesterday at Lausanne. By the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkish rights over Palestine and Iraq come to an end, subject to a friendly decision being reached between the British and Turkish Governments about the northern boundaries of the Mosul Vilayet. If agreement has not been reached within a period of nine months from the date on which the evacuation of Constantinople is completed, both parties have agreed to accept the arbitration of the League of Nations on this difficult and complicated question. Mean while, during the last three years, a steady policy of reduction of expenditure has been pursued by both the late and present Government. The total cost, in round numbers, of the Middle East in 1921–22 was £27,000,000; in 1922–23 it was £11,000,000; for this year it is estimated at £8,700,000, and it is hoped that very considerable further reductions will be possible during next year. Three battalions are leaving Iraq immediately, and the garrison of Palestine is also being reduced. With regard to Iraq, the policy outlined in this House by the Prime Minister, on the 3rd May, 1923, has been, on the whole, favourably received by both the moderate and the extremist parties. The general feeling in Iraq is that a genuine step has been made towards more complete independence. The result has been a decided strengthening in the feeling of national 512 responsibility. This has been shown by the determination of the Iraq Government to explore all possible means of increasing the Iraq Army, and thus lessening the need for British assistance, and also by their desire to proceed immediately with the deferred election for the Constituent Assembly. The election machinery is in full swing, and satisfactory progress is being made. The procedure, which is a legacy from the Turkish system, is somewhat cumbersome, but it is hoped that the Assembly may meet by the end of December.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Candidates are being selected, and the various preliminary formalities—the primaries—are taking effect, election speeches are being made, and the like. The recent successful tour of King Feisal through the whole of Iraq from Mosul to Basra has brought him into personal contact with the leaders of all shades of local opinion, and has largely contributed to the present satisfactory situation. The subsidiary agreements arising out of the Iraq Treaty are now being negotiated, and this House will have an opportunity of debating them with the Treaty before ratification. The Colonial Office has also inherited from the Foreign Office the control of relations with certain of the independent rulers of Arabia. It has been decided that the policy of subsidising these rulers should be brought to an end forthwith, and it is not proposed that any charge on this account should fall upon Imperial revenues after the close of the present financial year. The relations of His Majesty's Government with the rulers in question have remained friendly, and I' have no special statement to make to the Committee about this part of the Middle East.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Yes, that applies particularly to him.
I want now to say one word about Ireland. In the first place, it is obviously very undesirable that I should go into any controversial matter in regard to Ireland, especially as the general election is about to take place almost immediately in the Free State.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I really have nothing to add to the very explicit replies which I have given to questions on Palestine in this House, and to the very full statement made by my Noble Friend the Secretary of State in another place. As the Irish Elections are coming along almost immediately—the dissolution is expected to take place the week after next, I will only repeat what was said by the late Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), during the Debate last November on the Irish Free State Constitution Bill which ratified the Treaty. He then said:It is a struggle for good relationship with this country and for peace in Ireland. I am quite sure that everyone in this House will agree with me that we on this side can do nothing to help, but might very well do a great deal to hinder, not only by criticism, but even by expressing our sympathy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1928; col. 331, Vol. 159.]I think, in view of the immediate election, that I can quote no higher authority for what I have just said in that connection. The Free State Government have with scrupulous good faith adhered to the articles of the Treaty, and, further than that, the improvement in the condition of Ireland has been very noticeable, particularly in the last two months. It is almost a miracle that the Free State Government, which had to take over with no troops, with no police, under new conditions, and amid grave disorder, have succeeded in winning through, but it has been at terrible cost to life and property. It is roughly estimated that the last civil war in Ireland, engineered by Mr. de Valera and Mr Erskine Childers, has involved approximately four times the destruction of the whole of the period before the Truce. I was told that in West Cork and in Kerry there is hardly a mansion house which has not been gutted and destroyed, and the destruction has been perfectly appalling, but at present the condition has enormously improved. There is at last a police force and there is now security. There has been a remarkable decrease in crime and juries are again functioning, but it would be idle for me to say we can have any guarantee 514 that there will not be fresh outbreaks. It is clear that there are implacable enemies of the settlement in Ireland who, not from any love of Ireland, but from hatred of this country, which they cannot get over, are endeavouring to destroy and force a military re-occupation of Ireland in order to destroy the settlement. We hope the Free State Government will succeed in putting down this formidable conspiracy, which still exists, and in maintaining order; and only by maintaining order, only by a firm Government, would it be possible to get for loyalists compensation for the destruction they have suffered. In these Southern areas that I am talking of it is not only the Loyalists. Everyone who supported the Free State Government has equally suffered with the Loyalists, and if any compensation is to be paid, obviously peace and a settled and stable Government recognising the Treaty is the only hope, otherwise there would be a burden upon the English taxpayer of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. That we cannot contemplate. The Free State Government, although owing to the destruction of their railways and to their lack of machinery their revenue has not been good, have made substantial improvement in the last few weeks in payments on account of compensation, and I have every reason to hope that those payments will continue to be improved.
Finally, may I say a word about the Imperial Economic Conference, which will meet concurrently with the Imperial Conference on 1st October next? The President of the Board of Trade will preside and it will be attended by representatives of the five Dominions, of the Irish Free State, of India, and by myself on behalf of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates. No formal agenda has yet been fixed. A considerable range of subjects for discussion is certain, the main points coming up from the Dominions. The Prime Minister is at present in active consultation with the Prime Ministers of the Dominions regarding the final preparation of the list of questions for discussion. According to present arrangements the subjects which will be brought before the Conference may be summed up under the following heads: (1) Ways and means for the fuller development of the natural resources of the Dominions and Colonies. (2) Inter-Imperial commerce, shipping 515 and communications generally, including wireless and other details. (3) Co-ordinated action for the improvement of technical research. (4) The organisation of economic intelligence. (5) The unification of law or practice in the Empire in certain matters affecting trade development. (6) Oversea settlement and migration.
§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
Under which heading will come the question of modifications of Preference or increases of the same?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Obviously, under inter-Imperial commerce. It will be raised, I understand, by the Commonwealth of Australia.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
No, certainly not. Quite obviously, until you have heard what Australia's requests, Canada's requests and New Zealand's requests are it would be folly for the British Government to say here and now what they are going to agree to and what they are not. It is an Imperial Conference of equal Governments, and to bang, bar and close the door would be resented by every self-governing Dominion.
§ Captain BENN
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is the only Parliament in which a debate has not taken place and the views of the Members been sought on this important subject?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I do not arrange the business of the House, but it is in order on the Colonial Office Vote, no doubt, to discuss the Imperial Economic Conference here and now. The special responsibility is mine in connection with the Crown Colonies and Protectorates, as the representative of their interests before this Imperial Conference I want to make it clear, in view of the many-sided nature of the problem and the many Colonies in different parts of the world, that I have been unable to set up a Committee, which would be much too large for any one Committee to advise me on the matter, but I am in touch with all the Colonial Governments, and I am seeking unofficial suggestions.
516 I shall certainly consult the hon. Member for Blackburn, who has set up the East African Committee, just as I shall consult the West African Chambers of Commerce and such like bodies in the representation of interests in connection with this matter. I shall also get into touch with the West Indian Committee. I have had to cover a very vast field, and there are many distant Colonies which will be disappointed that I have said nothing about them. Our relations with Ireland are similar to those with the Dominion of Canada, and it has given us a very much increased amount of work. I know that during? the last nine months, interesting as has been our work, one feels at the moment one cannot do justice to it. I think peace with Turkey, the settlement of Kenya, which I hope will be endorsed by the House to-night, the termination of the rule of the chartered company and the setting up of two Governments in Rhodesia, the various steps I have outlined, the education committee in Africa and the like is no mean record of work done and progress achieved. I believe it is the tradition in this House to keep party politics as far as possible out of Colonial administration. I have always endeavoured to bring a single-minded devotion to the welfare and the progress of all peoples in the dependent Empire, and to keep that before my eyes, and I recommend the Vote with confidence to the House.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
The Committee, I am sure, owes a debt of gratitude to the hon. Gentleman for the very clear and interesting statement he has given us of the activities of his Department in different parts of the world, but, as he has said, and as we have all seen. he has had, within the compass of something like an hour and a half, to cover the greater portion of the earth's surface and in consequence, in this Debate, which has some five hours allotted to it, it will be the duty of every speaker to confine his remarks as closely as possible to the particular subject with which he intends to deal. I intend to deal with one subject only, but it is one of importance not only to the Colony itself, but to the whole Empire. I refer of course to the Kenya question and I desire to approach it in the same spirit as that in which the hon. Gentleman himself spoke. These colonial matters are not 517 and should not be party matters and as regards this question, if I may use a colloquial phrase with regard to it, I should say it should not be approached either in a pro-Indian or a pro-settler spirit. It is very desirable that this matter should be discussed in this House, in the grand inquest of the nation. The local atmosphere of Kenya itself has become impossible for anything like a calm and cool discussion of the issues involved. Things have been said in heat which I have no doubt both sides have regretted, and would wish to forget. I would ask the House to give its attention to the subject with all coolness of the atmosphere of the Imperial Parliament, and to regard the whole question as an Imperial question.
It was said long ago that there is always something new out of Africa. That is perfectly true, but one of the qualifications of that statement should be that what is new out of Africa very often is not true, and it is exceedingly difficult, as I have found in my own experience in Africa, to arrive at the truth. A man may come to you and say his brother has been robbed and killed. A little inquiry will show that the man is not his brother, that he has not been robbed, and that he is very much alive. When the matters in which it is so difficult to arrive at the truth in Africa are transported to this country they become still more difficult, and it is not only the facts that are transported but the atmosphere of propaganda. I am afraid we have not by any means shaken ourselves clear from the habits of propaganda that grew so during the War, and this question has been brought to this country in an atmosphere of propaganda. I am sure every Member of the House has had an infinity of pamphlets of every sort and description from both sides on the matter, and I am sure the majority of us have treated them, as most hon. Members treat such pamphlets, by passing them into that useful receptacle known as the waste-paper basket, but in case any remnants of that propaganda remain, I would ask hon. Members to endeavour to dismiss them entirely from their minds. There have been many efforts made to settle the question here involved, and we owe and should express to the Government our thanks for the great efforts they have made to settle this matter by agreement on this occasion. The honest efforts 518 that have been made between the Colonial Office, the India Office and all parties concerned to get a settlement by agreement have been enormous, and we must all regret that we have not got a settlement by agreement. We have been given a settlement which the Colonial Office thinks is the best under the circumstances. In looking closely, as we must look closely, at that settlement, I would say that the best test is—is it going to settle the matters for the future or is it only a stop-gap for the present? When I was a young man I was taught, as most of us have been taught, to pray for heretics. As I grow older my prayer has been that I should learn to understand the other man's position. We must try to understand the other man's point of view. There are opinions held most tenaciously by both sides in regard to this matter, and we should endeavour to understand the reasons for them.
If I may be permitted, I should like to describe briefly the Colony of Kenya. It lies in the tropics on the Indian Ocean, and the 10 miles strip in which the Sultan of Zanzibar's flag flies is a rich tropical belt. That is the Protectorate of Kenya, and behind that there is a strip of desert gradually rising to the African plateau, where we get those wonderful and magnificent highlands which rise to a height of from 5,000 to 9,000 feet, and where anything and everything grows, both the fruits and cereals that we have at home and the fruits of the tropics. Potatoes and pineapples grow in the same garden. From that plateau the land drops quickly to the great lakes. What is known as the white area are the highlands of Kenya. It is only a small portion. The White Paper estimates it as one-tenth of the area, but I think one-tenth is rather a large estimate. I should be inclined to put as somewhat smaller the area suitable for white colonisation. When I say suitable for white colonisation, there is one underlying fact that we have to keep in mind. It is a great experiment colonising at these high altitudes under the Equator. Those who have lived there, and are best qualified to speak, say that the experiment is bound to be a success. I am not quite so sanguine that it will be a success. We can only wait and see how the second and third generations of our people can be born and bred out there. In the meantime, we have a large number 519 of white settlers who are putting their money and their backs into the work of developing that country.
Having briefly sketched the country, I will, with the Committee's permission, go back a few years into its history and trace the beginning of our rule in East Africa. It began with the Charter of the old Imperial British East Africa Company, which was founded by that far-sighted Scotsman, William MacKinnon. He got a Concession from the Sultan of Zanzibar. The Chartered Company took as its motto, "Light and liberty." I should like to refer to one Clause of the Charter, and although I do not lay too much stress upon it, it is rather interesting as being the basis on which our rule there started. Clause 17 of the Charter says:There shall be no differential treatment of the subjects of any power as to trade or settlement or as to access to markets.Let us look 10 years later, when the British Government took over from the Company the administration of the territories which the Company found itself without resources to deal with. In those days, as for many hundred years before, there had been Indians settled on the coast. The earliest official figures that I have been able to find with regard to the various races there are contained n one of Sir Arthur Harding's early reports in 1897. Sir Arthur Harding was Commissioner and Consul-General in those, days. The figures were then 7,500 Indians and 390 Europeans and Eurasians. In 1896 the Uganda Railway was commenced. For the building of that railway the Government turned to India for men, material, engineers, clerks, telegraphists and everything. In those days the trade of the country was entirely in the hands of the Indians, and the Government naturally turned to the Indian merchants to help them. Thousands of coolies were brought from India, and no attempt was made to make use of the native material at the time of the building of the Uganda railway. The railway was pressed on in a great hurry in order to reach the head waters of the Nile. It was purely a strategic railway. After the Boer War, when the railway was finished, an. effort was made to obtain settlers for the country which had been opened up by the railway. Emissaries were sent, particularly to 520 South Africa, setting out the advantages and asking men to come with their wives and families from South Africa and settle in the new land. The result was that a large number of Boer and South African settlers came, and in 1911 we had 2,700 white people in the country, while the Indians had increased to 11,800.
I am sorry to worry the Committee with these figures, but they are rather interesting as showing the development. When the Europeans first came into the country, it was a country in which there were very large numbers of Indians. The Europeans knew that that was the country they were coming to. The last Census of 1921 shows that there are 22,800 Indians there and 9,000 Europeans. Although immigration has been open to the Indians since 1897 to 1921, and although they have been invited, and lands were set aside for them for agricultural settlement, and every inducement given to them to come, the fact remains that from 1897 to 1921 the number of Indians only increased three times. whereas during the same period the number of Europeans increased 23 times. It is a very important matter to consider when the Europeans say that they are afraid of being swamped by the immigration of Indians, that during all this time when the country has been open to immigration the number of Indians has not largely increased. It is a purely economic question, and the Indians who have gone to East Africa have gone there because they have seen an opening there. If they see no opening for themselves, they go back to their own country. Large numbers of them are employed as clerks, telegraphists, and in occupations of that sort, in which there will be no place for them if the native African is educated as he should be in his own country. The African educated in his own country will easily be able to keep out the more expensive Indian imported as an artisan from India. That is an important sidelight in regard to the native question.
I should like to refer briefly to the political developments. The first Legislative Council was set up in 1906, and one Indian was placed upon that Council. In 1908 an agitation began very strongly among the European settlers for an elective franchise. The first Council was purely nominated. In 1910 there was formed what is known in East Africa as the Convention of Associations—the 521 Convention of Associations to which European people belong, and which acquired very rapidly the name of the Settlers' Parliament. That Convention of Associations exercised very great political influence in the country and was able, as time went on, practically to dictate to the Governors the policy that should be followed. In 1919 the franchise was granted to Europeans. During all this time the party in power politically was purely European, and as may be found in any part of the world, and as we have found in our own history, when one party only is in power it naturally legislates in its own interests. If we look back on these years of the history of Kenya, we shall see a succession of laws passed very much in the interests of the white population alone, while the interests of the Africans, the real natives of the place, were very much left out. I refer particularly to the labour laws that have been passed. Most drastic labour laws have been passed from time to time by the Europeans in order to compel the natives to work for them. There was no idea then—I do not know how far there is an idea now—of the native being a producer on his own account. In those years there was a very strong antagonism and antipathy to the idea of the native producing anything that should come into competition with that which the European settler produced. I do not think we can look for development in any Colony on those lines. The Under-Secretary said rightly that we must look for joint production, joint dealing together, if we are to promote the future advancement of the Colony.
I can further illustrate the selfishness of the legislation that has taken place by referring to education. Beyond the small 5 per cent. Customs Duty the first tax was the Hut Tax, which was three rupees. It gradually mounted up until the present moment when it is 12s.—it was 15s., but has come down. That tax brings in something like £500,000. How much of that is spent on educating the native to take his place, in his own country? Until a few years ago nothing, and last year £21,000. I quote that merely as an instance to show how selfish legislation may be when it gets entirely into the hands of one party. The declared object of the white settler in Kenya has been to work up to self government. Those hon. Members who have read the White Paper will see that the idea 522 of self government has been, and I think rightly, pushed out of the present picture. It may come in the future, but any idea of having the Colony self governing at present is rightly in the background. You have got a long way to go before that Colony will be ripe for governing itself.
During the time the political power has been in the hands of what I may call the settler party, the Indians naturally felt themselves left out in the cold and treated not as fellow subjects in the Empire, but almost, I was going to say, as helots, and left entirely out of political consideration with no representation at all. During those years political consciousness in India has been awakened and events have moved very rapidly in India. There is no doubt that the development of political consciousness in India has directly affected the political feelings of the Indians in East Africa, and so from those beginnings we see how naturally the issues now before the country came up—the issue of the franchise, that is political power, the issue of the highlands of Kenya for the European settler, the issue of immigration, which is the right of British citizens to move from one part of the Empire to another, and the issue of segregation which is purely and simply a question of colour. I will touch on those subjects in the order in which they are dealt with in the White Paper.
On the first point raised in the general statement of policy I would like to quote a Swahili proverb which I think is applicable to the position. Translated it amounts to this: "When elephants fight the grass gets trodden down." We have seen the elephants of India and England fighting, and the grass of the poor native is badly trodden down. We welcome the declaration of the Government of trusteeship on behalf of the native, and we hope that that declaration of trusteeship will not remain merely a piece of paper, but will be translated into acts. The next point dealt with, apart from that of responsible self-government which is put into the background, is the question of the franchise. That is admittedly the most difficult of all questions that came up for consideration. It has been dealt with by giving communal franchise. That is a way which apparently leads out of the difficulty. I say apparently, because I am satisfied that the grant of 523 communal franchise will not lead to a lasting settlement. It may be a temporary arrangement, but it will leave the political feelings, so acute at the present time, still at a point at which the Indians will demand to be treated as citizens of the Empire, and the difficulties which the European feels now in granting them those powers will still have to be settled at a future date.
For that reason I regret very much that the Government could not see their way to follow what is known as the Wood-Winterton agreement. This goes back on the decision arrived at a year ago. Under that agreement there was to be a common electoral roll. The Indians were to have four out of 11 seats. Under the present arrangement the Indians are to have communal representation and they are to have five seats out of a total of 18 or 20. I say that a communal roll can never be a settlement of the question because, in a country like East Africa, where you have all shades and grades of people living and working together alongside one another, apart from the actual difficulties of working such a system, you will always find that the people who are elected on a communal roll are in separate compartments. They are not pulling together as one people, and the only possible hope of the country having political forces that should be working together is that they should be standing on the same floor and not in different rooms in different places.
I now come to a most extraordinary suggestion contained in this Paper. From whom it emanated I cannot think. That is the suggestion, that there should be a missionary on the Executive Council and another missionary on the Legislative Council. Does the Government intend, in addition to all the other difficulties under this arrangement, having to introduce a Kikuyu controversy? What sort of a missionary is to be appointed? Is he to be High Church, Low Church, or Roman Catholic? To what particular form of the Christian religion is he to belong? And this is proposed, mind you, in a country which is partly Mahommedan and very largely pagan. The reason given for these extraordinary appointments is that they are to represent the natives. Are the Government so impotent 524 that they could not have an officer of their own, either the Governor or the Commissioner for Native Affairs?
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I do not wish it to appear for one moment that I desire to belittle the good work which the missionaries are doing in the country. If it had not been for the missionaries, the natives would not have had even the amount of education which they have had. I do not wish to say one word against them, but I do protest against what can only be called a grotesque suggestion. The other point, that of segregation, is only a minor point. It was suggested by the medical experts. We all know what medical experts are, but the Government omitted to realise how deeply such a suggestion would move the feelings of our Indian fellow subjects. I am glad to say that the question of segregation has been dropped.
There remains the question of the reservation of the highlands. That stands in a very peculiar position. We have this block of country reserved for one portion of the inhabitants but reserved in very peculiar conditions, because from the very beginning, from the date of the Land Commission in 1905, Lord Elgin's statement of 1906 was repeated by subsequent Secretaries of State, over and over again. It was that the highlands should be reserved for Europeans. It is very hard to get away from that, and, the position being as I have described, the Government could hardly have done otherwise than they have done, seeing that they are continuing to reserve these lands to Europeans, who have come in and settled there on certain conditions, which have been constantly held out. There I think we have to honour the pledge. But I would rather see it modified to this extent, that though the initial grant should be given only to Europeans and there should be no bar on the European afterwards selling it to whomsoever he likes. That will remove the grievance which is felt by those to whom such land cannot be transferred under the Government scheme.
The last point dealt with is the point of immigration on which I have already touched. I believe that it is largely an 525 economic question, but I would like particularly to refer to the manner in which this document has been drawn. I should not have done so had not the hon. and gallant Gentleman assured the Committee that this was no mere Departmental document, but a State document of importance which would be referred to hereafter. At the commencement of the Clause dealing with immigration it is stated:It may be stated definitely that only in extreme circumstances could His Majesty's Government contemplate legislation designed to exclude from a British colony immigrants from any other part of the British Empire. Such racial discrimination in immigration regulations, whether specific or implied, would not be in accord with the general policy of His Majesty's Government and they cannot countenance the introduction of any such legislation in Kenya.With that I have no fault to find as a statement of the position. In the same section, dealing with the economic aspect, it is said:." When the question is re-examined from this standpoint (i.e. with reference to native interests) it is evident to His Majesty's Government that some further control over immigration in the economic interests of the natives of Kenya is required. The primary duty of the Colonial Government is the advancement of the African and it is incumbent upon them to protect him from an influx of immigrants from any country that might tend to retard his economic development.6.0 P.M.
Who is going to draw the rules? That is a most important thing. One man might draw the rules, and say, "We have got to protect the African, that is what the Government says; therefore we must see that no land is taken away from the African, and we must keep out the European immigrant." Is that the way the rules are going to be drawn, or are they going to be drawn to say, "The Asiatic coming in competes with the African, and we are going to keep the Asiatic out "? I want to lay special stress on that, because the question of how these rules are to be drawn is left open, and there are instructions to the Governor to go into that. I ask the Government to see that it in no way derogates from the primary condition laid down in the Clause. If it conforms with the beginning of the Clause I do not mind what regulations follow, but we must be very careful to see that they do not get round the principle there laid down.
526 We know that the economic condition of the country is very far from good, although I was pleased to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that it was improving. We want, and we are going to have, a Government which will look after African interests, and which is going to keep the question of self-government by a section of the community in the background. That means that we have got to have a strong Governor, who will not be afraid of using his official majority in order to put through Imperial Measures. In order to strengthen the hands of such a Governor, I have a suggestion to make, which does not come from me alone, but is one which many other people have made. It is that the power of the Government should be strengthened by the appointment of a High Commissioner. We want a High Commissioner to resist pressures; pressures from above, and. pressures from below; and I submit that the power of the Government would be greatly strengthened if we had a High Commissioner, not only for the country of Kenya, but for the adjacent countries of Zanzibar, the Mandated Territory, Tanganyika, and Uganda. Questions would come before him which would not be submitted to a Colonial Office, and it would get rid of a lot which annoys the Colonial Office, and, what annoys the colonist, of what they call the interference of the Colonial Office. Such an appointment might have checked the unhappy exhibition, which we saw a year cr two ago, of an attempt to reform the currency in Kenya. It would also have avoided the tearing up of the Voi-Kahe or Voi-Taveta Railway. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made full amends for his ignorance in regard to that railway, and so I will say no more than this, that I believe there is very good precedent for such a mistake in the office of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in regard to Cape Breton, where the Minister, on discovering it was an island, immediately went off and informed the King.
I do not know whether the proposals here put forward will be accepted by the Indians. I cannot tell what view they will take. I hope they will accept them, because, after all, they should be careful of cutting themselves off from the political life of the country, and it does give them a standing. What they 527 miss, and what I am sure they will give expression to as missing, is this, that there is, throughout this document, nothing to show that the Government realise the real thing they are asking for. The real thing they are asking for is a recognition that they are fellow-citizens of the Empire. There is not one word in this document which gives effect to that. On the other hand, it is true that the Government say, "There will be no segregation, we will not put you in a ghetto." I would ask, even at this late hour, whether the Government cannot make some gesture, and cannot stretch out their hands, and say, "We do intend to recognise that the Indian is going to take his part, and to prove himself, if he can, worthy of his citizenship of the Empire." In conclusion, I would say to the Indian, "Take what is given, and make the best of it." I would say to the settler, "Give up the selfishness you have had before; widen your horizon; see that you are not only legislating and governing in your own interests, but in the wider interests of the whole colony, and so of the whole Empire." I would say to this House, "It is the duty of this House to see that those promises which have been made are carried into effect, and do not only remain on paper." I beg to move.
§ Sir SYDNEY HENN
I wish to make a few observations to the Committee on the economic condition of the East African Colonies. During the earlier months of this year I had an opportunity of visiting East Africa. I travelled through Kenya and Uganda, and I met a great variety of residents from Tanganyika, from Nyasaland, and also from Zanzibar, and I tried to form in my own mind as complete a picture as I could of the present economic state of those countries. I do not wish to touch on the political aspect of-those questions which have been raised to-day, but I should like, in passing, to offer the Government my congratulations on what I think is the very statesmanlike solution of a very difficult problem. I feel quite sure that there will be extremists of both 528 parties who will not accept this solution in the spirit in which it is meant, but I believe it is the best in the circumstances More particularly, I hope—as I believe—that our friends, the so-called white settlers in Kenya, will recognise that in that settlement there is a great hope for them also. During the course of my visit I saw a great many of them, and I found them very much discouraged.
I do not share the optimistic opinion that was expressed by the Under-Secretary in regard to the condition of those 'Colonies. I found them all in what I should call a depressed condition. In fact, commercially speaking, they were languishing. There are many reasons, to my mind, why those Colonies are suffering from this present depression. In the first place, we have the old question of communications. There are immense territories there that still want, not only railways but roads, and they cannot be developed until those can be produced The railways that exist in those territories are of various characters, and in various states of health. The Uganda Railway does, as a matter of fact, carry considerable promise of future improvement. In fact, it may be said to be almost a paying proposition to-day. The Tanganyika railways have no hope of being put on a paying basis for the time being, but they are necessary to the existence of those countries. I should like to make one or two suggestions to the Government with regard to matters of general policy that would, I think, help very greatly to put those Colonies on the way to prosperity. In my opinion, one of the first and most essential things is to lift the whole of the railway services in East Africa out of the level in which they stand under the various administrations, and to form a strong central railway board; a railway board composed largely of the commercial element, but also with the necessary guarantee of Government representation to look after the public interest.
It should be a board that could consider, not only questions of administration, but questions of policy, and questions such as we have had recently raised in the House of Commons with regard to the best methods of construction. it should be a board that could see that the various administrations were put on a commercial basis, and run on business lines, with the certainty that some of 529 those lines would soon enough acquire sufficient credit to be able to obtain, through the open market, the funds that were necessary for their development; while those railways that for a considerable period of time would still be unable to pay their way might merit on the part of the Government, either in the form of guaranteed loans or of direct grants-in-aid, that help without which they never will be constructed, and certainly could not be administered or operated for a great number of years. There is another thing which I think should be carried into effect as soon as it becomes possible for the Government to do so. It was foreshadowed by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton), when he referred to the possibility of appointing a High Commissioner.
In my opinion, we should go very much further than that, and, if it were possible to do so, we should start at once to try and bring about the immediate federation, not only of the four Colonies referred to, but also of the Colony of Nyassaland, which is practically coterminous with Tanganyika territory. Such a federation might be difficult to carry out in completeness from the very first, but a beginning might very easily be made by unifying those services which are common to all those Colonies, and yet carrying five seperate administrations. Take the case of the posts and the telegraphs. Take the case of the railways—if they were transferred to a central board of railways. Take the case of the medical, the agricultural, and the veterinary services, which are carried on at the present time under three or four separate establishments, and under conditions which do not lend themselves to the very best results. For example, I found in one Colony that the Director of Agriculture objected to the planting of coffee by natives, and in the next Colony the Director of Agriculture recommended and pressed for the planting of coffee by natives. In a third Colony the Director of Agriculture also expressed an opinion unfavourable to the planting of coffee by natives. There were thus two authorities to one on the question, but where doctors differ, how can we hope to find salvation? In regard to that particular matter, I consulted a man who had had great experience in coffee planting in Costa Rica, and he said that in 530 Costa Rica the planters encouraged all the natives around them to grow coffee. There is another respect in which the federation of these States would be very beneficial to the future development of East Africa. It is a point which I am glad to see has been very ably brought out in the White Paper published last night. I refer to the trusteeship of the natives. Prior to my visit I had never been to Africa and had never met with the African races in their native home, and I have great pleasure in testifying publicly here to the fact that, throughout these Colonies, I found the very best relations between the white people and the native races. More particularly did I notice that the administrative officers throughout these Colonies are not only trusted, but are beloved by the natives. There can be no question about that. On the other hand, I did come across discrepancies between the treatment meted out to the natives in one Colony as compared with another Colony. I listened, for example, to a complaint from the natives on the eastern side of Lake Victoria that they were not so well treated in the matter of land reservation and land tenure as their brethren on the other side of the lake in Uganda. I do not wish to state, because" I have not the full knowledge which others possess who have lived for a long time in that country, that these complaints were necessarily fair, but there certainly was a difference of treatment. Such differences should never arise, and I believe could never arise, under the administration of the trusteeship by a Governor-General or High Commissioner—just as you like to call him—who would really be responsible for the welfare of the native races in Africa to the British Government, the British Parliament and the British nation.
In this connection I should also like to refer to the business aspect of the situation. Everywhere I went I found that in some way or other enterprise was discouraged. I do not like to use the words "private enterprise," since that is not a favourite phrase with some people, but enterprise was discouraged by the part taken by the local administration or the Government in the regulation of trade, by interference with trade and industry, and by Government participation in trade. In this matter it is not possible to dogmatise and to say that there should 531 be no interference, no participation or no regulation; we know we cannot live without regulation, but everybody connected with administration such as exists in Central Africa should realise that all these things are dreadful discouragements to private enterprise. Examples of this meet one at every turn. There is room for all sorts of enterprise. I quite agree with the Under-Secretary that the basis of progress in these countries lies in the energies of the native, in the uplifting and education of the native and the inducement held out to the native to work, and, if he will not work, a gentle fatherly pressure of the right kind so that he may be educated to work, but always reaping the profit from his own work. In saying that, I do not think that for one single moment that leaves out of the picture the possibilities or opportunities of private enterprise in various forms taking a part in the development of these colonies.
In the case of the white settlers, they are working out their own salvation under very great difficulties. They are not all land grabbers. Some of them are very hard workers indeed and most of them have risked their lives and a good deal of their money and have lost their money. I believe the great bulk of them will win through these hard times and that the day will come when we shall all realise that it is a very solid advantage to this Empire to have that little block of white men of our race established perfectly firmly in their highlands in the centre of Africa. It will at least, in my opinion, provide a guarantee for good order and for the defence of any rights which the British Empire may possess in that part of the world. In conclusion, I ask the Government, through its administrative officers, to extend a more friendly hand to the business man who wishes to work in those countries. It is a fact that in Tanganyika many efforts have been made to make a start in that country, but they have met with a very poor response, and the accounts which I received out there all agreed in saying that the actual administration in Tanganyika was not too sympathetic and I am afraid it is a little reactionary. I thank the Committee for having listened to me with such patience.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The speech to which we have just listened is an example 532 of the sort of speech which the House of Commons really enjoys. It is the speech of a man who has been there and who states his opinion about the country and gives his views, and although we, on this side, differ from those views, they are views which ought to be expressed here. The Committee will forgive me if I do not immediately deal with the Kenya question, but with one or two minor points which I have been instructed to bring before the Under-Secretary. In the first place, I wish that we could have had a fuller account than we had of the development of the Constitutions of the West Indies, but I suppose we must wait until we get a regular report upon that question. One point in connection with the West Indies which I wish to bring out is the question of land development in the Island of Trinidad. There have been constant complaints from Trinidad, not from the Indians in this case, but from the natives, that the 400,000 acres of unalienated land in Trinidad is either being held up, or when it is alienated, is sold in such large blocks that the only people who can purchase it are companies or white planters who are working on a large scale. I cannot understand why this unalienated land in a Colony where unemployment is rife should not be alienated out in small lots on lease. In that case the State as a whole, or the people of Trinidad as a whole, do not lose the ultimate reversion of the property and undubtedly it would lead to development of employment and production particularly in cocoa and other minor products of the sort which we get from Trinidad—just the same as the development of the cocoa industry which we have on the Gold Coast. Everybody knows the bad times through which the West Indies have been passing lately. With the exception of sugar everything slumped—palm oil, cocoa and so forth—and the small cultivators in an island like Trinidad are practically ruined, their property is mortgaged and they have been compelled to borrow money in order to buy these large blocks of land. They have been pressing, and I understand the Government of Trinidad and the Governor himself have been pressing, for the establishment in that island of agricultural banks to help these small cultivators, and I am told, to my surprise, that the opposition to this proposal comes from 533 the Colonial Office. I think that is a short-sighted policy. I am quite aware that a big bank like the Colonial Bank would be opposed to that sort of thing and to the development of agricultural banks, but we cannot possibly develop any Colony if we look at it solely from the point of view of one particular interest in that Colony. We want the largest possible facilities for development, and I hope the Under-Secretary will see his way to make inquiry into this matter.
I pass rather hurriedly from the West Indies to the West Coast of Africa. I am glad to hear the Under-Secretary, in the course of his first statement to us on Colonial affairs, announce that he is going out to the West Coast because there axe several questions there which require the urgent attention of the Government. I put in the first place the extravagant capital expenditure of these Colonies, and there, I am afraid, I shall have the Under-Secretary against me. I am quite certain that you are going to saddle the taxpayers of these Crown Colonies with enormous burdens for such works as the development of the new harbour at Takoradi and the new railway, and if you are going to saddle them with these gigantic burdens, you will strangle the development of these Colonies and you will have to continue, and even to increase, the export duties in order to find the interest on the loan. In the long run such capital expenditure will be a handicap and not a means of developing the Colony. Then take the actual annual Government expenditure. When salaries were raised on the West Coast, they were raised without any qualification as to the cost of living, and, as the cost of living has fallen, although salaries have fallen also in other parts of the world, on the West Coast they are still at the high.[level of 1920. I think there really should be some cut of salaries, or, if not, it might be possible to establish a local Income Tax which would cut them for you. The hon. and gallant Gentleman rather ridicules the idea of an Income Tax on the West Coast of Africa, but I do not know why, because, after all, he has been the means of establishing something like that in Tanganyika, but perhaps what is good enough for Tanganyika is not good enough for the Gold Coast, especially if applied to the salaries as well as the profits of com- 534 panies. The real difficulty on the West Coast is that of balancing the Budget. Salaries have gone up, officials have more than doubled in number, the costs of Government have increased enormously, and, at the same time, the Government by a gesture of disinterestedness which was beautiful, but not practical, have cut off their principal source of revenue. In these circumstances the Government have been faced with a deficit, and they have put on export duties which will really strangle the trade of the Colonies. I call the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention to the experiment of the Governor, Brigadier-General Sir Gordon Guggisberg. Governor Guggisberg, faced with a dwindling revenue and the complaints in this House of Commons last year, decided to cut his cocoa tax and to reduce the cocoa export duty by 50 per cent. What was the result? On paper the loss should have been £326,000 a year, but, as a matter of fact, the reduction in that duty by 50 per cent. resulted ultimately in an actual loss of only about £23,000. If additional cocoa is exported from the Gold Coast, the natives on the Gold Coast who own the cocoa purchase the equivalent amount in this country, and anything that increases your exports in that country immediately results in an increase of exports of cotton goods from Lancashire. When you are not only, by your export duties, strangling the cocoa export trade, but at the same time strangling the Lancashire export trade, you are doing double harm to the Empire, and that experience shows that in the case of the Gold Coast a reduction of these export duties would pay for itself. Even a complete cancellation of these export duties would very largely pay for itself, because it immediately involves larger imports into the Colony, and the import duties are a very large proportion of the total revenue of the Colony.
I come back to the question of balancing the Budget, because until you have your finances in good order there, you cannot expect the trade to recover or our exports from Lancashire to the Gold Coast, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to revive; and, of course, Nigeria, which is ten times the size of the other two Colonies, is hardly scratched, has hardly begun to be developed, yet. The trade to the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone per square mile of territory must be 535 infinitely greater than to that untapped market of Nigeria. The way to balance the Budgets on the West Coast, and the way also to do the right thing by the natives, is to revise the whole of your system of dealing with the liquor traffic on the West Coast. I do not believe there is a single hon. Member in this House, or a single permanent official in the Colonial Office, who really approves now of our gesture at St. Germain. The St. Germain Treaty, into which we went with all the enthusiasm of a recent Armistice, resulted in all the great nations having colonies on the West Coast of Africa deciding that henceforth they would no longer allow the nigger to get gin. When we do a thing like that we mean it, and the Colonial Office, full of its new virtue, determined to stop trade spirits. I gather that the first who objected were the Europeans on the West Coast, who did not quite see it, and they got their exemption, I understand, but the Colonial Office did their best to prevent trade gin going into their West Coast Colonies, and they thought all was well. Then they discovered, to their surprise, that gin, trade spirit, was coming over the frontiers from the French Colonies. They discovered that the French Government were selling in Togoland 50,000 gallons, I believe it was, of surplus war stores in the shape of gin, and they discovered, a thing they had never known before, that the native could make an intoxicating liquor in his back garden. The result has been practically no limitation in the consumption of alcohol in the West Coast Colonies at all, but an enormous drop in the revenue, and that is not all. The native is now getting acclimatised to making his own drink, and he makes it by tapping the cocoa palm.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I know, but in the old days he was not driven to do it. He did not need to go and spoil his own palm trees, but at present, by your prohibition of the import of trade spirits, you are forcing the natives, not only to make their own drink and reduce the Government's share in the profits of the industry, but you are forcing them also to cut down their trees and thus to destroy their capital and ruin the trading prospects 536 of the Colony. Everybody who knows the facts of the whole of this drink position on the West Coast knows that it has been getting worse and worse year by year. The Under-Secretary is going out to the West Coast this winter, and I suggest to him that he should stiffen his visit, if I may say so, by taking with him a Commission, a Royal Commission if he likes, or a Select Committee of this House if he likes, to inquire into the drink question, to see whether we cannot revise our position, whether we cannot go back to the old system of import duties, and have those import duties turned into ad valorem import duties, which would make the gin dearer than it is, but would secure that that extra dear-ness went into the pockets of the Government instead of into the pockets of the smugglers. That is an attitude which could be taken up, and a policy which could be advocated, not only by Members opposite, not only by people interested in the licensed trade, but we on this side equally advocate this change of policy. We advocate it, not because it will lead to any increase of drinking, but because we believe it will lead to a reduction of drinking and to a more efficient control of the trade in these spirits. Anybody who has the interests of the natives at heart would, I am sure, support the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the circumstances of the case, and to gee whether something could not be done to revise that Treaty of St. Germain. We want to get back into a position where we should have our hands free for dealing with the liquor question as we thought fit, and preferably, I believe, by putting a heavy ad valorem import duty on the drink going into that Colony.
Now in regard to the very dangerous pronouncement of the Under-Secretary on railways. I did not realise before what the Government were up to. As far as I can see, this new Committee, according to all the questions in this House that have been streaming upon us lately, which was to consider whether it would be cheaper to construct railways departmentally or by contract, is really going to consider how private railways can best be made to pay and be constructed in the Crown Colonies.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Yes, but I hope my hon. Friend sees the danger. All railways of that sort in the Colonies before have been made by getting the alternative block system, and they have paid, not by the traffic on the railway, but by the increase in value of the land blocks which they have secured. Surely the hon. Gentleman does not intend that any system of railway enterprise should be introduced in any of our Crown Colonies which will sacrifice the rights of the natives in that way. It is essential, if we are going to have railway development, that it should not be a railway development to take the land away from the natives, but that it should be purely a business enterprise, creating railways, creating additional transport facilities, and not looking to making their profits by the holding up or the sals of land rights. I hope that is quite clear, and that the Under-Secretary will deal with that when he comes to speak.
May I pass on to the question of Rhodesia? I congratulate the Government on their Rhodesian settlement. I have had grave suspicions of the Under-Secretary for years past, and I am afraid I have shown them only too often, but I think the solution that has been arrived at by him reflects great credit upon him, and at the same time relieves this country of the serious charge that we sacrificed the rights of the natives to our pockets. Under the settlement, as I understand it, we pay £1,750,000 for the charter rights in Northern Rhodesia. I gather that the annual deficit in Northern Rhodesia must be pretty considerable. Does it mean that, in addition to this £1,750,000, we are to find year by year a Grant-in-Aid of £100,000 to balance the Northern Rhodesian Budget? If so, I think we ought to know where we are. I do not say it is not necessary, that we might not ultimately get our money back, but I want to know where we are. There are two sections in the settlement of which we cannot possibly approve, and which, I think, have been passed without really adequate consideration. We have had protests from the Labour party in Rhodesia about them already. I refer to the grant of mineral rights in Northern Rhodesia, which seems to us to be rather vague. I do not know what they mean, but do they include all royalties from mines at present in operation, and what 538 is the value of these mineral rights estimated to be? In the second place, the point we want to criticise, and which, I think, has not been adequately criticised yet, is the stipulation that we shall not assist the development of railways which will compete with existing lines. It is obvious that Northern Rhodesia is bound to connect itself up more and more closely with the Zambesi mouth, that the natural flow of her trade will be down towards Chinde and the mouth of the Zambesi, rather than right away down the Continent, but if you get the trade of Northern Rhodesia developing naturally, whether across to Angola or down to the Zambesi, you have to construct railways. Are we to understand that all these railways, that any development of railway interests in these directions, is barred by this Clause which prevents undue competition?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am glad to hear it, but at the same time we must remember that the Chartered Company shareholders will look at the whole of this document—I suppose this is the draft of the official document—with the eyes of a lawyer. They will see these Clauses in, and they may well read into them conditions and qualifications which would hamper the development of the Colony, not only in Northern Rhodesia but in Southern Rhodesia also.
What have we paid this £1,750,000 for? Some of it, no doubt, is for buildings, for the Government as a going concern, but mostly this House is going to be asked to pay that money in order to buy back the native rights in their own land in South Africa. We ought never to have allowed those native rights to go, and if it had not been for a foolish letter from the Colonial Office, written in days long since gone by, practically confirming by an ipse dixit the rights of the Chartered Company in the Lewanika concession, we should not now be saddled with this enormous debt. I am glad to pay it, in order to manumit the million natives of Northern Rhodesia, but you cannot save those natives in the long run unless you take the earliest opportunity of establishing their fundamental Grond wet, as it was called, or land law, which will establish once for all those native rights.
539 I congratulate the Government on the legislation concerning land that they have introduced in Tanganyika. There they brought forward an Act, or enacted an Ordinance, which seems to me to be absolutely ideal. I should like to read the opening paragraph of this law, because this is what our Colonial Office ought to stand for, and ought to have stood for in the past centuries. It reads:Whereas it is expedient that the existing customary rights of the natives of the Tanganyika Territory to use and enjoy the land of the Territory and the natural fruits thereof in sufficient quantities to enable them to provide for the sustenance of themselves, their families, and their posterity should be assured, protected, and preserved "—and then the law goes on to reserve the land of Tanganyika for the natives of Tanganyika. That is the right spirit. I hope we shall see an Ordinance similar to that enacted also for Northern Rhodesia. Once that is approved, even your prospecting railway companies cannot get away from it. Once you have your fundamental land law, you save the liberties of these people; you allow them to work on their own land, and you Jo not force them to go and work for an employer. So far, your Rhodesian settlement, animated, I believe, by the right spirit of the Colonial Office, has rescued the natives of Northern Rhodesia, but not enough. I hope you will carry that on by seeing they are rescued in perpetuity. As regards Southern Rhodesia, I think we can congratulate ourselves that the people decided to keep out of the Union of South Africa. They have shown, I think, political common-sense, and, as far as I can see, the development of that country is likely to be far more prosperous as a self-governing dominion, independent of all rival sectional hatreds, than it would have been if it had gone into a Union, where the position of the settlers would not have been quite so strong as it is to-day.
There is one point, however, about that settlement to which I think we have got to draw attention. I think if Southern Rhodesia was given self-government, a year or two hence, even this year, there is no doubt we should have had definite stipulations to protect the political 540 rights and status of the natives. We have always been told that the natives of Southern Rhodesia have votes on the common roll. Yes, but there are only about 50 all told who have votes. In this connection, would it not be possible to establish one general rule for all our Crown Colonies, and that is, until the native population is sufficiently educated, and is sufficiently developed to have the power of protecting themselves by their own votes, they should have special representation on the Legislative Assemblies, even although the Legislative Assembly does not have responsibility? My hon. and learned Friend the ex-Chief Justice referred to missionary representation. I think that, provided you have a missionary who is really a missionary, and not settler, you will probably do more to protect the natives of the country than you can do even by having a High Commissioner. The best High Commissioner, perhaps, they have ever had in Kenya was driven out of that Colony because he was too pro-native. Conditions there were made impossible for him. The Governors there tried to keep their end up, but the pressure of the entire European population of a colony can be too much for a Governor, and certainly can be much too much for a Native Commissioner. I do not know how you can protect the natives in Kenya to-day. Possibly, if you had a Governor made of iron, you might get real protection and the development of the natives, but no one knows better than the hon. Gentleman how difficult it is. You place the man, in whom you have the most confidence, in a society where everybody he meets pushes in the same direction, thousands of miles away from here, where letters and telegrams have little effect, and you expect him to maintain the attitude which hon. Members would wish him to maintain.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think so. The hon. and gallant Gentleman will remember that when he made his opening speech to the Convention he said, remember, I am a South African, and 541 not a politician." That seems to me to be a confession which gives away the whole position.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I would sooner have an English-born man, or somebody who had been born and bred in the tradition of the Colonial Office even—born and bred in the traditions of fairness to all men and justice to natives—than a man born in South Africa. I pass from that, and come to the settlement to which we have been referred. I noticed that the hon. Gentleman spoke all the rest of his speech, and made it very well, but when he came to East Africa, he read it, and I quite understand that. He and I know perfectly well that this settlement is not a settlement which can be supported in any assembly which considers justice, and I think he knows it is not a settlement which can permanently be tolerated in East Africa. The settlement may satisfy the European settlers, because it is a surrender to them, but you can never expect it to satisfy Indians so long as those Indians are expected to be members of the British Empire. That is the real difficulty. I say it is a surrender, and I am afraid it is even a worse surrender than I expected, because I did not expect there would be this re-opening of the immigration question. Unfortunately, he and I know full well that the immigration question is one which, if left to the Governor and public opinion in Kenya, would be used, just as the whole of the legislation of that Colony has been used up to now, in order to keep out the Indian, to exacerbate this racial struggle, which has done so much harm to Kenya. Here is one of those confidential despatches which seem always to be made public when they get to Kenya. It is from the Colonial Office to Kenya: