§ 4.0. P.M.
Advantage is being taken of this Bill to discuss Dominion and Colonial affairs Of all Ministers on the Treasury Bench the happiest ought to he the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, judging by the absence of Parliamentary criticism. I do not remember whether there has been a Motion to reduce his salary, but I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to assume that we believe he is full value. Seriously, however, it would be a mistake to allow the Session to close without a discussion on the work of this important Department. Speaking not only for myself, but for the Opposition, I want to say how deeply we feel the great loss which the country and the Colonial Office have sustained in the death of Miss Bell. While I had not the privilege of knowing her personally, I had many opportunities of judging her worth in various communications to the Colonial Office, and I have no hesitation in saying that not only did she render great service to the Arab people, but that she maintained the best and highest traditions of this country, and that the country is the poorer for her death. Equally, I will very briefly refer to the loss which the Colonial Office has sustained in the death of Lord Stevenson. I wonder whether this country really understands or can appreciate all that it owes to the immense self-sacrificing service and ability that Lord Stevenson gave to the Colonial Office. When one hears to-day criticisms of the Stevanson scheme and when one reads the outbursts in America about robbery and confiscation, I at least have no hesitation in saying that Lord Stevenson, not only rendered great service, but he saved the country millions of pounds by his service in that, and in many other capacities. I am sure that we all deplore his 2358 untimely death, and I think it can truthfully be said that he passed away in the service of his country.
A question was asked a few days ago as to what attitude the Government took with regard to the constitutional difficulty that has arisen in Canada. We on this side of the House not only heard the answer of the Colonial Secretary with satisfaction, but we felt that he expressed what was the attitude and view of every party in the House. That cannot be too strongly emphasised, and T am availing myself of this opportunity to say so, because of the General Election pending in Canada. I think it ought to go on record and ought to be made perfectly clear, not so much for the benefit of the Canadian people themselves and our other people overseas, because I believe in the main they know the position perfectly well, but in order to let the world know what we mean by self-government. h is necessary to emphasise again that the answer given clearly and definitely places it on record that, whatever action the Government-General may have taken, whatever advice he may have given, it was done solely on his own responsibility from his knowledge on the spot and without interference of any sort or kind by Downing Street in the matter.
Having said that, I would only briefly refer to the curious mentality of some of our foreign friends with regard to the Dominion question. It is very curious how every little difference is magnified and how attempts are made to take advantage of the position. I read the other day, with more amusement than interest, that the suggestion was made that, owing to this wicked, unconstitutional action on the part of the British Government, Canada should of her own accord free herself from the tyranny of Downing Street. That comment was made in a certain section of the American Press, and they followed it up with what they called a practical suggestion, which they offered as evidence of their disinterestedness in the matter— namely, that Canada might be handed over to them on the terms of the cancelling of our debt to America. I do not pretend that that is representative of American opinion—I should he sorry to think that it was—but it only shows how mistaken some people are and how they attempt sometimes not to understand the mentality of the British 2359 Empire and what that Empire means. Therefore, I make that comment for the very obvious reason that those who suggest that We can maintain our position on a cash basis not only do not understand what they are talking about, but certainly do not understand the attitude both of our Dominions and all parties in this House.
The very difficulties that naturally occur in these constitutional matters lead me to ask whether our experience would not warrant and justify some change in the procedure and method of our Imperial Conferences. In a few months' time representatives of all the Dominions will be in London. They will be fittingly welcomed as representatives of our Dominion Governments. There will be conferences held and there will be resolutions carried. I am going to submit, if a conference of the importance and character of the Imperial Conference is called, where hopes, aspirations, and people's minds far overseas are concentrated on its decisions, that nothing is calculated to do so much harm as to disappoint them with the result. Take the representatives who come from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They leave with very clear and definite views, and they hammer out their differences and ultimately arrive at a decision. I am not at the moment arguing the merits of the decision. If afterwards when they return home there is a change in their own Government or a change in the Government here at home, and the new Government take a different view on those subjects, then, however honestly and legitimately they may feel about it, nothing is more calculated to cause disappointment and a feeling of the failure of those conferences.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will remember the last Imperial Conference. Anyone who reads the Dominion Press, and anyone conversant with Dominion opinion, will be aware of their keen and bitter disappointment, even going to the extent of saying not only that the Conference was a failure, but that in many respects they had been let down. I am not blaming anyone; I am merely stating the obvious facts. Immediately after the Conference was held a change of Government took place, and the new Govern- 2360 ment took an entirely different view of those matters than the late Government, with the result, as I say, that the Dominions felt that they had been let down. I am submitting that this is not a party question. I am not putting it up in the sense that one Government is right and the other wrong, or vice versa. I am merely stating what is an absolute fact. Therefore, if that be the position and if that in itself creates difficulties, I submit that we ought seriously to take note and see whether it is possible to avoid it. In the brief period we were in office we considered this question. It became very acute with us for another reason. We found ourselves having to make decisions on foreign policy which vitally affected the Dominions. We felt that it would be unfair to commit them. We felt that they would be entitled to object if we committed them in advance. At the same time, the question was so urgent that action was required to be taken. We took the view that it would be better to invite them to make some suggestion of an informal kind, so that a conference could be held not of the Governments alone but also of representatives of the oppositions.
I know the argument that can be used against that suggestion. I know perfectly well that it can be held that the Government of the day are responsible. But I do submit that the real answer to that. criticism is that the main, indeed the sole, object of holding the Imperial Conference is as far as possible to get common agreement within the Empire and to enable all our Dominions to say, "We have been consulted: we are parties to it," so that there will be continuity of policy. That is the real object underlying the Conference, and I do submit that it is not asking too much. I think the difficulties could be got over. I have thought of it and T have thought out many schemes, and many suggestions have been made, but I still hold the view that the Imperial Conference would be more representative, would approach things in a less party spirit, and would be more likely to arrive at decisions on which there would be common agreement among all parties if those decisions were recorded with the approval and approbation both of the Government and the Opposition. There would be much more likelihood of them 2361 being given effect to, and you would have continuity of policy as the result. I do not know what thought has been given to the question by the present Government—it is bound to have occupied their minds—but I would make this suggestion. It is probably too late to make any change for this year's Conference. That I frankly admit. On the other hand, if any negotiations have taken place it has been done by correspondence. Now that the Conference will be held and you will be meeting face to face you could argue these things personally. You would have the advantage of an exchange of views with the representatives themselves—the suggestion that. I make may not be the best—and you would at least have a pooling of suggestions and ideas. Out of that discussion something might arise that, would improve the situation on the next occasion. I would suggest to the right. hon. Gentleman, if no arrangements have already been made in connection with the Agenda for such a discussion, that the matter might be explored on the lines that I have indicated, and probably something would emerge from it.
I pass from that subject, to ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the situation at the moment with regard to South Africa and the Indian question. There is no subject which is so acute or on which there is such difference of opinion and such strong feeling existing on both sides as the treatment of the Indians in South Africa. In delivering about 90 speeches, in the brief course of a few weeks, and being supposed to have dealt with this problem, I am not quite sure how I got out of it; but I am bound to say that when I came back from South Africa I was convinced that this problem was not only serious from the standpoint of South Africa, but from the standpoint of the Empire as a whole. The great difficulty was in meeting the people who were in daily contact with the problem and who had strong views about it. Many of them felt, as far 'as the labour people were concerned it was the case, that their places were being taken by Indians. On the other hand, there were South Africans who said, "This is our problem. We are a self-governing Dominion. We must deal with this question in our own way, as we like, and no one can interfere." That, in a sentence, was the kind of view that one had to meet.
2362 The answer I gave, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald), who was then Prime Minister, was this: "It is true that, in the main, the problems facing our Dominions are purely Dominion questions, but there are certain questions that are essentially Imperial questions, and the effect of which must be felt, in all parts of the Empire. That is peculiarly true with regard to the Indian problem in South Africa." On the-authority of the then Government, I said: "As far as the British Government a-re concerned, we do not propose to suggest to you how you should deal with the matter, because you yourselves, with all the local knowledge, must be the best judges; but we do remind you that you cannot deal with this question as affecting South Africa alone. Therefore, we suggest that a Conference should be called, where South Africa, India and the Imperial Parliament would all he represented, so that the whole problem could then be thrashed out, not only in its national, but in its Imperial sense as well." I took the responsibility of making that suggestion, publicly, to the South African Government, and it was, I think I can say, received with sympathetic approval—to put it no higher at the time. I should like to know, seeing that the problem is as acute now or even worse than it was then, whether the Government share our view, whether they are prepared to endorse the suggesetion that we made, and whether any steps have been taken to give effect to it. I feel sure that the question is of such importance that it warrants the attention which we suggest.
I have made these brief general observations because, in spite of the claim that is often made that the Empire, the British Commonwealth of Nations, is the monopoly of one particular party, we, at least, want to make it perfectly clear what is our position. There are people—and I deprecate it—who would prefer to deal with Russia, if you like, than they would with parts of our own Empire. I do not mean that I want to discourage Russia. and I do not mean that I have any enmity against any other parts of the world, bin I do mean that if within the British Commonwealth of Nations we can do more business, we can develop our trade and encourage our people, it is our 2363 bounden duty to do it. That is why I have, broadly, indicated what are our views on the constitutional question.
Now I come to the question how best can we develop and encourage trade Within the Empire. I rule out the question of tariffs; I will not argue them. I rule them out, because, apart. from the difference there may be in regard to Protection or Free Trade, those who hold these different views can in many ways co-operate and unite in trying to accomplish the same end. Nothing is more disappointing when one meets our Dominion colleagues than to hear their expression about their "being robbed." They put it very plainly when you meet them. I met a representative deputation of those engaged in the meat trade in Australia. They said that they wanted to see me because they believed, as I believe, that it would be a good thing to sell Australian meat here, but they could not quite understand how it was that they were only getting 4½d. per pound for the meat that they were selling to us, and yet they saw that meat being sold in the London market for 1s. 8d., is. 9½. and 1s. 10d. per pound.
That may be so; but these people will not quite appreciate whether it is on the hoof or not. All they know is that there is, in their judgment, something radically wrong. If that is a cause of irritation, surely we might to deal with it. When we say that we want to help our Dominions and to encourage the buying of Empire goods, that may be, and is, a good slogan for our Colonial brothers, but at the same time they turn round and say, "We are delighted at your encouragement, but we rather deprecate the tendency to give us so small a price, while the consumer is paying so high a price, and we want to know where the difference goes." The hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. G. Harvey) may have given the explanation; I do not know. I am satisfied that it is the duty of the Colonial Office to give an authoritative answer, and to say where the difference lies. It is the duty of the Government to say, "This is a question that ought to be tackled. This is something that we are interested in. This is something that does not affect 2364 tariffs." If an investigation could be made, if an authoritative statement could be made—assuming that the explanation given by the hon. Member for Kennington is correct—it would he something of a tangible answer to those who complain from the other side of the Empire.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Is it not the case that the High Commissioner for Australia has publicly stated in this country that meat is arriving in London at. 4⅞d. per lb.?
I saw that statement. The High Commissioner for Australia was with me when the original statement was made. It is not for me to indict anybody, unless I know the whole of the facts, and unless I can say: "This is the explanation here is where the profit goes." If it be true that the price paid for Australian meat is 4½d. a lb., and we know what price our own people are paying for it in the market, surely, when there is common agreement to encourage Empire goods., and to ask our people to buy our own Empire produce, if there is something that tends to cause suspicion, that deprives the consumers of this country of the benefits which they ought to obtain, and that robs the producer, it ought to be investigated and the Government ought to tackle it.
I have mentioned meat, but there are many other commodities that come within the same category. Let me examine what happened during the War. I understand that the question of Empire marketing will be a subject of discussion at the Imperial Conference.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. Amery) indicated assent.
I am acting on the assumption that I am now dealing with something that will be the subject of discussion at the next Imperial Conference.
§ Mr. AMERY indicated assent.
During the War, the British Government bought the whole of the wool crop of Australia and New Zealand. They also bought in 1917 the whole of the South African wool crop. They paid, roughly, £100,000,000 for the wool. A Government, supposed to be 2365 composed of bad business men; a Government not supposed to know how to conduct business and always supposed to be fleeced on all hands, bought from three of our Dominions £100,000,000 worth of wool. The total administrative expenses for selling the whole of that £100,000,000 of wool came to one-fifth of 1 per cent. This was done by the Government. They bought wholesale the whole crop from our Dominions, amounting to 100,000,000 tons. The first thing they did was to reduce the price of wool to the consumer 3½d. per lb., and then they made a net profit of £66,500,000. Incidentally, they did the very wise thing of then handing back a number of million pounds to the growers of that wool. I do submit that there is not only a precedent but there is a tremendous moral in that. No one can pretend that our Australian, New Zealand and South African farmers were not delighted with the deal. They will tell you they were not only well satisfied but it was a tremendous encouragement to them. No one will deny that it was an advantage to reduce the price of wool 3½d. a lb., and then, in addition, for the Government to make £66,500,000 net profit.
I do not know. There may have been some Government officials but the power was taken by this House of Commons, and committees were set up and they were responsible to the Government. At all events I am not concerned for the moment in arguing whether Government officials were the best or not. The fact remains that this was not private enterprise. It was the Government. The Government said "we will do this ourselves," and they appointed, as any Government could do and would do, some people to go on with the detailed work. The most remarkable result is this. Take the ordinary man buying a suit of clothes in 1915 and take the same man buying a suit of clothes in 1918. No one will deny that there was at least 100 per cent. increase in the price of the suit of clothes in 1918 as compared with 1914. But by the Government's action in buying this wool wholesale, they were able to clothe the last 100,000 troops cheaper than the first 100,000 in 1914. These facts not only cannot be disputed, but I submit that 2366 they are the basis for the claim that I am now making. We all want to encourage Dominion and Colonial food growing and to encourage trade within the Empire. We all want to see our people benefiting in all parts of the Empire, and surely if there is a practical way of doing it—a way by which both the producer and the consumer can benefit from the action—I submit that it is a legitimate matter for discussion. That is all I propose to say on What I call the Dominion side of the question. I have not spoken, I hope, in a controversial sense. I hope I have put to the right hon. Gentleman some practical and concrete proposals that legitimately ought to be the subject of discussion at the forthcoming conference.
I propose now to turn very briefly to ask him why, when dealing with the two Committees that I set up after consultation with representatives of all parties in the House, why he found it necessary to abolish both the Southborough and the Islington Committees. I know he has repeatedly said that it was because the Mission of the Under-Secretary dispensed with the necessity for their job. I do not agree. I took the view, and I hope it is a view that will be continued by all Governments, that in Colonial matters the delicacy and difficulty that surround the Colonial Office are such that we should, as far as possible, try to follow the policy of the Foreign Office and not make it a party issue. There was no Committee of any sort set up without representatives of all parties being invited to sit on it. I was advised that, in getting together these two Committees, not only was I obtaining the services of practical men, but they would be able to get information that would be invaluable in days to come. To my amazement, within a month of the change of Government, I was told that it was the right hon. Gentleman's intention to abolish these Committees. I submit that, unless there is very strong and sufficient reason for his action— which I do not admit—to depart in that way from a policy and tradition of non-party character is, to say the least, something that we ought to deprecate. I want to ask him whether he still believes that there is no necessity for these or some other Committees to study and give effect to the many difficult questions that he has to deal with from time to time.
2367 I also want to ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the position at the moment with regard to the labour conditions in the Gold Coast mines. When I saw a return, I was not only staggered, but I believe there could be no Member in this House other than shocked to find the number of people that were daily going to a living death. The figures for the Gold Coast were terrible. It is quite true that they were natives, but that is not an argument against something being done. I felt that there was a moral responsibility, and the result was that I stopped the recruiting. I said, "There are to be no more of these natives going down under these conditions," and I sent a special Commissioner to investigate the whole situation, and a rather alarming report he gave. It was a deplorable report, a report that was a disgrace, and I want to know what is the position at this moment. What is the change? Is the same system in operation? What effect is being given to the Report, and are steps being taken to get periodical visits of this kind? I am convinced, from the figures and the extaordinary state of affairs then existing, that, instead of waiting till someone's attention is drawn to this terrible mortality—
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for COLONIAL AFFAIRS (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
If the right hon. Gentleman cares for the figures, I have them in my head. I visited the mines myself, and there has been a most remarkable improvement. Last year, instead of a high mortality, the figures for 13,000 labourers in the five mining concerns were only 11 deaths from accidents, and the total mortality from all disease, including old age, was only 114.
That is a remarkable improvement and only emphasises the point I am making. That change would not have happened. It might have gone on year after year. The very fact that it was necessary to take drastic action, and then prove the action was justified by the improvements made, emphasises, I think, the point I am making, that, instead of waiting in this matter to see the facts dragged out, some steps ought to be taken to see that visiting of some kind is done in order to prevent it. Not only am I delighted to know of the improvements, but I hope, and I am sure, that, the facts 2368 having now been brought out, the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary will see that, where there is any repetition in any part in connection with matters of this kind, he will take as prompt and drastic action as I did to stop it. I therefore propose leaving the African question to a number of my friends who will follow me, and I will content myself with saying that I hope the next Imperial Conference will be fruitful and beneficial and will tackle these great and difficult and technical problems not in a party spirit. The suggestion I made is not made because we want the Opposition there or anything of that sort. It is merely because we want to make it more representative of the Empire as a whole and not cause disappointment to those who come and those whom they represent because of a reversal of policy due to circumstances for which no one is responsible.
§ Viscount SANDON
Having myself been at the Colonial Office at a particularly interesting and important period in the history of the Empire, and having seen a certain amount of the Dominions and Colonies, there are one or two points I should like to raise on this important question. The emptiness of the Liberal benches bears out all that is said about the remarkable interest in the Empire that has always been associated with that body! There is one point that does need consideration by His Majesty's Government and something that should be considered when the Imperial Conference meets, and that is as regards foreign policy. In this matter we have drifted ever since the good days—from that point of view—of the War. Although we have a terror of the word "machinery" I do hope the possibilities of doing something will be investigated. At the present moment existing machinery has not, I believe, been carried out as fully as it might have been. I believe it was agreed that High Commissioners should attend the meetings of the Cabinet when matters of external interest—foreign, Imperial, or otherwise—were under discussion. Can the Secretary of State say how often, in fact, the High Commissioners have been invited to attend meetings of the Cabinet when matters of this sort have been under discussion? It is not the ideal way, it is a poor way; but it should be taken advantage of as something that 2369 is ready to hand. In the last few years since the War we have acted on the basis —and it has been put forward by so good an Imperialist as the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—of "keeping the Dominions informed." It does not seem to me that we shall get over our difficulties by methods of that sort. The Dominions should have greater initiative than being merely kept in- formed. The matter came to a head at the time of the Lausanne Treaty and end less complications were patched up in the way in which Imperial difficulties always are patched up after a certain amount of wrangling. The same system prevailed with the Protocol and Locarno Pact. The Dominions should be vitally concerned in these decision and should take a share in them.
The Australian Government have taken a step in this direction by setting up a Secretariat, and I think it might be considered by the other Governments whether it would serve their interests. I think they could develop that line by having a Minister to come over, officially, periodically. It would he valuable not only to themselves but also to our Foreign Office in this country. The Dominions quite rightly and naturally feel that their High Commissioners, who are detached from their own countries for a long time, cannot be considered representative of, and capable of interpreting, their own countries. It is an important question, because we saw, both at the time of the Protocol and the Pact, the difficulty of the Dominions. Though no doubt they took quite a right line from the point of view of the Empire, they could not realise, nor should they be expected to realise, the domestic questions that concern ourselves. By an unfortunate curse of fate, we are in Europe, and we must put up with being involved in European affairs. I am perfectly certain that if the Dominions took a share in framing our foreign policy, they would realise how important a concern European affairs are for us. I think it is a, matter for us to raise on our own responsibility whether the Dominions cannot he brought in so that they can understand our point of view in domestic matters of this sort, which are life and death to us, and which are really bound to open up and extend more and more. This might well 2370 be done by encouraging the people of our Dominions to enter the Diplomatic Service and the service of the Foreign Office. It is advantageous to get fresh ideas in. One of the curses of Civil Service administration in this country, though it is probably the finest in the world, is that it does tend to be narrowed too much to type. It would be admirable if we had Canadians and Australians and others from our Dominions in the Legations and Embassies. It would be a splendid thing to have a Canadian, Australian or someone from one of our other Dominions as an Ambassador, and, preferably, in some place where their own interests were not great, so as to exemplify to the world our Empire solidarity.
Is the hon. Member aware that the Diplomatic Service is open to anyone in the British Empire, and that at the present time there are several Dominion members in it?
§ Viscount SANDON
I quite realise that it is open to anyone who wishes to go into it, but what I meant to say was that special facilities should be given by the Government in collaboration with the Dominions Governments. A thing that wants emphasizing is that we should make it quite clear, by definite statements, that if the Canadian Government wanted at any time to revise the British North American Act there could be no objection from this country to their doing so. That may seem superfluous, but if you study the debates in the "Empire Parliamentary Association Journal" you will find that these ideas are being constantly raised and their denial makes no difference to the number of times that they are brought up. The same applies to the Privy Council appeal, although there they have to clear up the position with their own provinces. You see this talk of a limited independence in the debates of several of the Dominions. There is nothing in it, because the Dominions know that they can go out of the Empire to-morrow if they like. They often complain at our dictating Foreign Policy, but they know that it is quite open to them to take a share in the foreign policy of this country if they wish to do so and have the energy and initiative, and that is their own fault, During the heat and passion of what has 2371 gone on in Canada recently, statements were made in responsible quarters that in cases prior to the appointment of Lord Willingdon as Governor-General the Dominion Governments had not been consulted or given an opportunity to approve of such an appointment; as this is injurious to Empire liaison, I should like the Secretary of State to say that there is no foundation for that and that for many past years the Dominions have been consulted and have approved before any such appointments have been made.
There are one or two points that should be taken up and taken up seriously in the Conference. One of them is the question of the Pacific. The Pacific, in terms of hard cash, is costing us a great amount of money, the Singapore Dock, for instance. This problem will cause a lot of trouble on both sides of the water one day. We know about the growing population of Japan, but we have never said where Japan may expand and develop. I do think that all the Pacific countries should be called together to discuss the question of where there can be found an opening for the growing population of Japan. A day will come when this problem will have to be decided why not decide it now in peace and quiet before the problem arises? Many countries, quite rightly, have said that she may not come to them, and it is up to those countries to decide where she shall go.
I wish also to raise a question in connection with the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act of last year. A Committee was set up last year to inquire into the difficulties thus created with regard to migration of our personnel to the Dominions. The Report which they issued showed a position which was disquieting, and I do hope the opportunity of the Conference will be taken to see whether we cannot get some co-ordination with the Dominions legislatively and administratively as to pensions to make the flow of migration easier from now on. With regard to the question of migration, it is, perhaps, not fair to taunt the Secretary of State with the fact that when the 1922 Act was passed it was said that the numbers would be, roughly speaking, six times greater annually than history has shown them to be, but I think this matter will have to be faced 2372 when the Conference comes up, as certainly it is not nearly adequate as things are. One of the most interesting reports on this subject was that of Mr. Banks Amery on group settlement is Western Australia, and I think that successfully removes all the doubts with regard to the principles and operation of group settlements.
I hope the Commonwealth Government will be encouraged to remove as soon as possible all the obstacles that lie in the way of that scheme being renewed and that other Dominions will be encouraged to investigate it. I discovered the other day, by chance, a glaring case of waste in the Dominions Office, although it was a year ago. Telegrams were sent out to the various Dominion Governments in connection with the Geneva Protocol and they were of course sent out at great length. That is always the method that is associated with Government Departments; but my point is that this same long telegram was sent out to the Irish Free State. If the message had been sent to Ireland as a dispatch the answer could have come back just as quickly as the answers from the other Dominions. Whoever was involved in that transaction should certainly be put on the rack. When I had the inestimable privilege last year of being the only Englishman who was on the Gallipoli peninsula at the tenth anniversary of the original landing I was tremendously impressed with the care and attention, and, indeed, almost love, devoted by the Australians in charge of the War graves to those cemeteries which they are making into what will one day be the most beautiful plantations. I should like to ask the Secretary of State whether now that there is a better atmosphere prevailing between ourselves and Turkey, we could see that the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne are carefully carried out in regard to the roads leading to those graves. When I was there those roads were being ploughed up by the Turks simply because the Turks wanted to make themselves objectionable. There were also cases of shooting at the staff, many of whom are Russian refugees, and I should like to know whether they have now ceased. This road question is not merely a legal matter of the Treaty, but a sentimental offence. I 2373 should like to ask whether the right to have crosses on these memorials could not also be raised, as this means a great deal to many of us. At a time like this, when our liaison has so greatly improved with Turkey, it might be a good opportunity to raise these questions.
There is one other point which I feel I must put before the Secretary of State, and I suggest that he might make representations to the Cabinet and to the Foreign Secretary upon it. That is the question of the sphere of the Colonial Office. It seems to me that the proper function of the Foreign Office is liaison; the proper function of the Colonial Office is administration, and therefore I cannot reconcile with that the principle that the Sudan should be under the control of the Foreign Office. There you have people in many cases administering a lot of very primitive black negros, to a very large extent the same type as those you find in other parts of Africa, and yet you have them under the control of the Foreign Office of all Departments! The Colonial Office should be the proper Department to take control of the Sudan, and more and more we must aim at the linking up of this territory with British East Africa as it is economically very largely already. I cannot see what this craze for the condominium is founded upon. One of the few things that I agree with in the policy of the Leader of the Opposition is the practical suggestion which he made some time ago that we should entirely separate the Sudan from Egypt, and get a permanent. Mandate from the League of Nations to run the Sudan on good sound British lines. That policy as to Colonial Office control should also be pursued as regards our administration of Aden and the Persian Gulf Protectorates which are linked up with Arabia and Iraq, both mainly Colonial Office concerns. I can see no possible sense in their being controlled by the India Office. Why the India Office should be considered more capable of conducting matters in that part of the world than the Colonial Office is a matter which is entirely beyond my small intelligence to understand. It is high time that the Chartered Company, a system which has done such good work in opening up backward territories, should come to an end in regard to British North Borneo, that the administration should he handed over 2374 to the Government, and that these matters should not be kept in the hands of a private company. That is unsound in principle and might one day, if there were any trouble, land the Government in much embarrassment.
I wonder whether it is premature to ask the Secretary of State to tell us whether the Government have come to any decision with regard to the future of North Eastern Rhodesia, and whether they have considered linking it up with Nyasaland, or whether they are going to continue the present impossible system of running it from the adminstrative centre at Livingstone, many weeks' journey away. I also want to ask another question, and that is with regard to the college in Achimota, in West Africa. I hope that we are not attempting to introduce into Africa education of the British secondary school type, but are teaching them crafts which are far more adapted to their mentality. May I also ask whether any steps have been taken to link up the Uganda Lakes with the Nile system, so as to make a quick and cheap through transport service? At the present time there is a tiresome break of, I think, 60 or 70 miles, and money might well be spent, perhaps, out of the guaranteed loan or by some other means in linking up these two lines of communication, by road, rail and river. I should like to suggest also that we should show more initative, as do the French, in considering the potentialities of the development of our backward African States. The French are always doing such things as sending motor cars across the Sahara. We never hear of our doing anything of that kind. Why should we not have organised motor trips as from, say, Lagos to Mombasa?
§ Viscount SANDON
Then, perhaps, that compensates for the fact of there being only one Member of the Liberal party at present in this House. We have a great responsibility in connection with the development of our Empire estates, and we are not taking it, and nowhere is it more visible than where our Colonies lie side by side with colonies belonging to 2375 other countries. I have seen it myself in the West Indies. I think it is most deplorable when you see the British flag flying over an island which is retrograde and backward, and when next door the flag of the United States is flying over territories where progressive methods are adopted, and where there has been vast development. Take the big sugar factories in Cuba; there the whole thing is conducted on the most up-to-date lines with garden cities analogous to Port Sunlight, and they are teeming with money, but when you go to Jamaica, you see machinery tied up with old bits of string and corrugated iron, and any improvisation available, and that is not the sort of thing over which the British flag should fly. My knowledge is certainly not very up-to-date, but the difference to the non-British territories was so great, that six years could not possibly have remedied it. It is not sufficient for us to say, "J'y suis; j'y reste." That is not an adequate mandate for the maintenance of the British Empire. We have to see to it that if we have control of these territories we utilise that control to the utmost possible value from the point of view of those whom we control, and as to exploiting the natural potentialities. It is most dangerous when you have these foreign colonies where money is teeming side by side with British Colonies that are squeezed in regard to the spending of money, and it loses us the right of possession. Another glaring example is that of the Zambesi Bridge. How can we justify our occupation of a place like Nyasaland if we do not give the inhabitants an adequate outlet to the sea? I ask the Colonial Secretary if he is going to allow Nyasaland to carry on its present state, and whether, if so, we should not honourably hand it over to someone else? It is not creditable that we should simply be prepared to stand by and not look after the welfare of these Colonies.
It seems to me that you will never get a satisfactory Colonial regime within the Empire until you get a complete interchange, and a unified service, as you have already in the Foreign Office and the diplomatic services, between the Colonial Office, and the Colonial services in general. So long as you are running the risk of the Colonial Office being dominated by people whose lives are circumscribed by a radius of 15 miles from 2376 Charing Cross it does not seem to me that, with the best intentions in the world and with all the hard work as to which no one knows better than I do what it is that they do, the Colonies can be carried on in a manner satisfactory to the needs of the Empire. Also it does not make for true liaison and understanding between the Colonial Office and their servants who work for them in different parts of the Empire. It does not make for the best interests of the Empire. It was the same, as many of us know, with the staff during the War. Then a wide gulf separated the British soldier and the British regimental officer from the staff, and the same gulf separates the Colonial Civil Services, and the Colonial Office. That is one reason why Australia was so successful in the War. They had easy access to their staff which we never had. I was in the Australian Corps for five months in France, so I speak of what I know. Surely a constant interchange of the whole of the staff of the Colonial Office might well take place; a man from the Colonial Office might go to Hongkong and later to Uganda, on promotion, and so forth.
The same thing applies within the Colonial Services. It is not in the interests of the Service that any man should go to Nigeria or anywhere else and stay there until he is an old man. That is not in the best interest of the country as a whole. I know that there are difficulties and that it is said to be extremely difficult when a man has learned the local dialect that somebody else should come along and not knowing these things should take his place. But I think that the advantages outweigh any objections which might be put forward, and the objections could be met by having a permanent staff of experts such as used to exist in the Levantine Service, who would be in close touch with all the local customs, know the language, and who would be able to fill these gaps satisfactorily. There is, I think, a very grave danger of the Colonial Services getting into a groove. In normal circumstances a man stays, say, 93 years in Nigeria ox elsewhere. He is then, say, moved off to East Africa, as a Colonial Secretary, and naturally his ideas are based on his Nigerian experience, and on every question he says, "This is not the Nigerian way," alters it, though local conditions are different. That does not 2377 make for the good running of the community to which he has gone, and only offends people, and it does seem to me that it would be far more in the interests of that place if he had had a wide experience, ideas gained in different parts of the Empire to draw upon, and the place would be far better governed in consequence.
I know that there are obstacles to carrying out this plan, and these obstacles are mainly in the direction of salaries and pensions. But it does seem to me absolutely wrong that, because one Colony happens to be more wealthy, no change can be effected. A man cannot afford to leave, say, the Nigerian Civil Service and risk losing his pension rights, or in some cases getting only a smaller one, on going to another Colony. I suggest that there should be a general pool, under the control of the Colonial Office, to which all these Colonies should contribute their quota of a certain amount of money, and that it should be distributed equally at the discretion of the Colonial Office, for pensions and salaries, to all the Colonies. It seems to me that until you do that, you will not be able to get men of ability for the work, and our Colonial Empire will not be run on the best lines. I had a glaring example of the present system when travelling to the West Indies, with a doctor from Ceylon. He had been second in command at Ceylon, and was being promoted to be head of the medical service in Jamaica. Jamaica being a poor Colony, he found that, not only had he to pay the expenses of his journey there, but that he was to receive far less salary—and this was by way of promotion! If you are going to give promotion and "dock" the pay at the same time, it is not the way of getting the best men for the job It is simply making it certain that the wealthier Colonies will get the best men, while the poorer Colonies will still be kept back by getting a less satisfactory personnel in the Service. In order to get the proper people you must offer an adequate reward, and the reward should be increased with each promotion in status. Only this will make proper interchange possible. The working of the present system seems to be very unfair, both to man and place.
I expect many hon. Members saw a play last year called "White Cargo." This is a point which, I assure the Under-Secretary, needs very much to be 2378 brought forward. That play was no doubt a gross libel on West Africa, but there are spots of that kind elsewhere. Owing to the progress of civilisation, and the pioneering instincts of Britishers in the past, who have made and are making the British Empire, those spots are quickly disappearing, but some still exist. They exist in the Western Pacific and in places like the Solomon Islands. It is not right nor just that we should tolerate the practice of young fellows being sent out as Eastern cadets and in other positions of that kind to these islands where in many eases they are separated, not only from the nearest white woman, but from the nearest white man, by nearly 100 miles; where they get a post only once a month., often far less often, and where they have practically no communication with the outside world, and where each one is a sort of Pooh Bah, a "lord high everything else," in charge of everything, and cut off from the rest of the world. Is it just, or does it add to our good name, to send young fellows to such places in these circumstances? I think if the Under-Secretary investigates the matter he will find that, apart from other tragedies, there has been an appalling amount of insanity among white people in places such as I have described, and I think it is a grave responsibility for us to undertake.
Even if it costs money, we ought to give every facility to young men in these cases. When we are dealing with State servants our obligation is of a special character, and, wherever it is possible, we ought to provide facilities for these officials to enable them to take out their wives with them, and they ought to get plenty of leave and extra pay, and ought not to be kept in places of this sort for long periods of time. It is not creditable to the Empire that we should allow the conditions to continue which exist in some places in the Western Pacific and the Solomon Islands. We have a particular obligation in this matter, and I beg that the Secretary of State on high moral grounds will take the subject into consideration and give these young men better pay, better conditions, and longer leave, and only short periods of service there.
The same need for consideration applies to the conditions throughout the service. There are other places not so bad as those which I have indicated, but 2379 which none the less call for attention. I have known many cases of people being sent out to unhealthy spots and although these men were quite healthy when they went out, their health deteriorated when they were still quite young—perhaps in their thirties or early forties. They contribute to a pensions' and orphans' fund, but if they are invalided out, and that money has to be called upon early, the provision is not much use to keep them as they ought to be kept for for the prestige of the service. When such men are invalided in the thirties or forties, they ought to receive special consideration. Some of them are married and have children, and it is up to the Secretary of State to persuade the Treasury to institute a system of marriage and children allowances in the Service, to meet these cases, in order that the children of such men should not be let down and should be properly educated. Provision ought to be made to meet the cases of men, whose health has been ruined at a comparatively early age in the service of the Colonies, and who thought, quite reasonably, that they might look forward to retiring at 50 or 60 on a pension which would be adequate to keep them and their families ha a reasonable way. It is not to the credit of the service and is morally indefensible that people should be turned out of it, broken in health, when they are still quite young, without proper provision, and I think it is for the Secretary of State and for the Colonial Office to take a personal interest in them and to see that they are fixed up in some other employment and that their children are safeguarded.
We should not have men of thirty or forty whose health has been broken by service in our Colonies and dependencies looking for work and finding it difficult to obtain work, owing to their age and to their lack of business training and the Colonial Office doing nothing to help. These are the people we ought to encourage. They are the people who ought to have children; they are the ones we want to propagate from; they are the people who have made the British Empire, who are making it and who will make it in the future, and we do not want to put any difficulty in their way as regards marrying and having children and to make it a gamble for them. I would 2380 impress on the Secretary of State that it is important to give this matter his earnest consideration. I know the high regard which the right hon. Gentleman has for the Colonial Service, and I believe he is not the man to allow these men to be let down.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
I believe many of the troubles which we are now encountering in this country are due to the fact that ours is probably the most densely populated country in the world, and I believe the solution of our difficulties lies in the development of our overseas Empire. If there is a silver fining to the black cloud which has been over us for some time, it is that it has made us realise the necessity of co-operating with our Dominions and developing our Colonies. In the last 20 years, the Dominions have definitely taken their places as free self-governing nations among the nations of the world, and during that same period it has become apparent that we must develop our Crown Colonies. In order to do that, we are dependent upon the increase of population and the provision of further transport facilities. The problems which face the Dominions Office and those which face the Crown Colonies Office are entirely different. The functions of the Dominions Office are almost entirely diplomatic, whereas the functions of the Crown Colonies Office are nothing more or less than administrative—almost, if one might say so, bureaucratic. When the Government decided to separate the Dominions Office from the Crown Colonies Office, they did so more in theory than in practice. The only tangible change apparently was the appointment of another Under-Secretary of State for the Dominions.
I submit that the problems with which we have to deal in our Dominions and Colonies are of such importance that the Dominions Office and the Crown Colonies Office each deserves to have a full-time Minister. I do not think one can possibly over-emphasise that point. I think it is unfair to place on the shoulders of one man responsibility for the affairs of the Dominions as well as for the affairs of the Crown Colonies. If it is necessary, as undoubtedly it is, to have a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to maintain good relations between this country and foreign 2381 countries, it is even more important to have a Minister who is responsible for, and is charged with, the maintenance of diplomatic relations between the six British self-governing nations and this country. We have a British League of Nations in the seven self-governing British nations and, surely, it is important that it should be held together whatever else happens. It is certainly the greatest factor for world peace.
This country, as the senior partner in the British firm, was perfectly right in arranging originally for Imperial Conferences to be held from time to time in this country. The only way in which the Dominions and this country can co-operate for the mutual advantage of all is for us to get a real understanding of the difficulties which have to be faced in the various parts of the Empire. Those difficulties are so diverse that it is only by meeting together and discussing them that we can each realise what are the troubles which have to be faced elsewhere. If it is important, and if it serves an excellent purpose—as it undoubtedly does—to have Imperial Conferences in this country from time to time, it is equally important that the Secretary of State for the Dominions, whenever he gets an opportunity, should visit the Dominions, One. can always understand and gain a general idea of the difficulties which exist in the Dominions, but I do not think that even a man of the ability of the present Secretary of State can make himself conversant with all the details of the difficulties in the Dominions simply by hearsay, and he ought to go and see what these troubles are on the spot. It is the only way in which to get a real idea of the difficulties to be encountered.
Therefore I submit that the office of Secretary of State for the Dominions ought to be a whole-time job. In addition to what I may call, our own Imperial family diplomatic affairs, he must collaborate with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on matters of Imperial foreign policy, and I think the job is big enough for one man. Again, the office of Secretary of State for the Crown Colonies seems to me to be a whole-time job in itself. I do not think the people of this country realise that the Secretary of State for the Crown Colonies 2382 is the bureaucratic administrator of 2,600,000 square miles and nearly 50,000,000 people. Only a small proportion of our Crown Colonies have any real form of self-government, as we understand it, and not only is the Secretary of State for the Crown Colonies directly responsible for political administration, but he is also responsible for the installation, maintenance and operation of practically all public utilities and services such as railways and all forms of transportation. Furthermore, he is responsible for the Government medical services which, in many parts of Africa, are the only medical services available.
I think it has become more and more clear to those interested in the development of our Crown Colonies that that development depends on two things—population and transport. Population, again, depends upon the medical and sanitary services which the Government is able to instal and maintain in those countries. While the Colonial Office has encouraged the Crown Colonies, from time to time, to put in and maintain public utilities and to develop transportation and so forth at their own expense, we in this country have done little more than encourage them and give them authority to spend their own money.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
I think one of the great difficulties in the way of the proper co-ordination of the technical services in the Colonies is that our organisation in the Colonial Office has not grown concurrently with the development of those various services in the Colonies themselves. The organisation to-day in the Colonial Office is very much the same as it was in the clays of Joseph Chamberlain. The time has come when there should be some form of reorganisation. The Colonial Office is divided into territorial departments, the officers in charge of the various departments being responsible either for separate Colonies or groups of Crown Colonies, but those officers, excellent men as they are, and skilled as they are in dealing with political administration, are also called upon to deal with every sort of technical subject. Questions are referred to them for decision by the Colonies about railways and road development, public works, posts and 2383 telegraphs, education, medical services, and so forth. No man can possibly give really intelligent advice on those subjects unless he has had the advantage of referring to experts, especially when, as I understand is normally the case, he has not had the opportunity of visiting the countries themselves.
Therefore, I suggest that there should be technical departments in the Colonial Office, manned by experts, corresponding to the various services that there are in the Crown Colonies themselves. Then, when questions dealing with any particular service came to any territorial officer, he would be able to refer to the expert and get a reasonable opinion. The expert, from his position, would have a general knowledge of the problems affecting his particular service in every one of the Colonies, and thereby each colony would be able to benefit by the experience of all. At present, all the various technical services are run in water-tight compartments, and no colony or group of colonies is able to benefit from the experience of others. Nobody would think of starting an army in the field without giving the commander-in-chief experts in the various branches of the service under his command to act as his advisers. Nobody would think of starting to run railways, or hospitals, or roads, or telephones, or telegraphs without giving the general administrator in charge of them technical experts. That is what I suggest should be done in the Colonial Office. Otherwise, I feel that we "shall blunder, like we have blundered before, by putting railways in the wrong places, starting a railway sytem that has no beginning and no end, and so on.
We have made a start, I know, on these lines, and the Colonial Office have recently appointed a Director of Medical Services at a salary of £1,500 a year, but that is only a start, and we must not stop there. I should like to give one example of what a tropical medical service really is. The United Fruit Company, which controls a territory in tropical Central America about three-quarters the size of the Gambia, and with a population of about three-quarters of that of Gambia, has, at its headquarters in New York, a medical organisation which costs £16,000 a year. They have installed that organisation to look after a territory and a 2384 population smaller than those of our smallest Crown Colony, and we cannot say that we have gone very far if the Colonial Office have been empowered to spend £1,500 a year to look after the sanitary and medical welfare of nearly 50,000,000 people. It is not extravagant, in any case. I believe now they have also started a Director of Education, but do not let us stop there.
We are only beginning to feel our way, but let us not be charged with not really developing these countries, for which we are trustees, both for the benefit of the natives and for the benefit of this country, because I am sure that in a, very short time we have to look more and more towards our Crown Colonies and Dominions to find places, not only in which to sell our goods, but from which to get our raw materials. If you take our cotton trade, for instance, unless we have got countries of our own to produce material for our Lancashire mills, we may be badly off at no very distant date. It is in our own Empire that we shall find the solution of our troubles, and I, therefore, suggest, first of all, that there should be two Secretaries of State appointed, one for the Dominions and one for the Crown Colonies. I hope, of course, the present Secretary of State will understand that there is no reflection on him intended. What I mean is that it is too big a job to put on to any one man. Furthermore, there should be a Committee appointed to report if and how it is desirable to reorganise the Colonial Office so that we can develop the Crown Colonies to the best advantage of the inhabitants of those countries and of the workpeople of this country.
§ Mr. HADEN GUEST
I want to ask the Government, following on the matters raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), to let us know what is their policy with regard to migration. One hears a good deal about the obstacles there are at present to migration. If one is interested in the matter, one hears that people are waiting sometimes for months before they are able to get away, and one hears of boys selected, chosen, and in every way fitted who are not yet able to get away. There seems to be a very great block in the flow of migrants from this country, and I should like to know what the Government are proposing to do in the matter. I 2385 addressed a question recently to the Secretary of State for the Dominions on the subject of miners, asking what proposals, if any, the Government had with regard to making special arrangements for such miners as might wish to migrate after the conclusion of the present stoppage, for it is admitted on all hands that there will be a large number of men surplus to employment in the mines. The right hon. Gentleman replied that no arrangements were made at present and that he could not hold out—I am very glad he was so frank about it—any false hopes, but that the matter must be specially discussed at the Imperial Conference. The policy of the Government on this question is really not at all satisfactory. The Labour party policy on this matter was very clearly defined last year at the Annual Conference at Liverpool, and I wish to refer to that policy because I think that it indicates the only way of really tackling the migration question.
The Labour party, in framing their policy, said that they wished to have a survey of the land resources of the Empire with a view to a scientific redistribution of population, and I think that is the only way in which you can really begin to tackle this problem, because unless you know what land is available, unless you know what places want to have migrants sent to them, and unless you know what facilities you are going to give to those migrants, you are not in a position to do very much in the matter. At present, it is very difficult to get accurate information as to what land is actually available for the use of migrants oversea. When the Attorney-General of New South Wales was over here he kindly supplied me with some very striking figures with regard to New South Wales itself. They had been obtained by the New South Wales Government, and they had been confirmed by, I think, the Railway Commissioner and the Minister of Agriculture. They were to this effect, that within 12 miles of the railway in New South Wales there was land available for wheat growing, for mixed farming, or for dairy farming equal to the total area of England and Wales. If that be so in the one State of New South Wales, you have got an area of land there which obviously is capable of taking as many migrants as we could send to them in the next 20 years.
2386 There is no difficulty whatsoever about land for men to settle upon. [An HON. MEMBER "In this country."] I am coming to that point later. The real difficulty is that there is no definite policy for sending men out and for conferring with the Dominions to get an agreed plan. The Labour party at the last Conference, in addition to determining that their policy was that of a survey of the land for a scientific re-distribution of population, proposed that colonies for training men to work on the land should be set up in this country, through which men could pass before they went on to the land. The setting up of training colonies in this country is necessary, not as a training in farming or agricultural work primarily, but as a kind of sorting place, to find out whether the people who are proposing to go out as migrants are, in fact, the right kind of people to go out. Many Members of the House were present the other day at a meeting of the Empire Parliamentary Association, when the Prime Minister spoke of the Australian problem and the drift to the towns in that Continent. There is a drift to the towns in Australia, in Canada, in this country, and, in fact, all. over the world. That is a psychological problem, and, in choosing migrants, the first thing to solve is that psychological problem. You want to get the people who are not going to drift to the towns, but who prefer to live in the country, and, as a matter of fact, that is a very simple thing to do.
Men who have been accustomed to living in a town, and especially married men and their wives, may think in a moment of enthusiasm that it is a line thing to go out to the Australian hush, or on to a Canadian farm, or into New Zealand, but when they get there they find that the conditions of life in those places are not suitable to them. They cannot run around the corner to buy something at a shop, they cannot go to a cinema, because there is not one within twenty miles, and they do not have those ordinary amusements to which they are accustomed and the ordinary excitements which they think of at home as a matter of course. There are many people who do not like that kind of life, but it is impossible for the town dweller—and for practical purposes nearly everyone in this country may be accounted a town dweller in that respect—to know whether 2387 he is fit for life in Canada, Australia, or another Dominion without some preparatory training of some kind. I suggest that we should set up a number of colonies where we can find out, first of all, whether or not people like to live in the country, whether they are psychologically fitted for migrants, for the life of living away from towns, and, secondly, whether they have the special kind of physical fitness which enables them to do work on the land properly. Work on the land does not require enormous strength. It is, as it were, a large amount of work put out at low pressure over a comparatively long series of hours.
I believe that by the setting up of colonies in this country, by a special Migration Authority, which I am going to suggest in a moment, you will have your first and essential preliminary to a real migration policy. You will also have at those colonies elementary training in farming, which will be an additional advantage, but by no means the largest part of the advantage. I am well aware that under the Poor Law there are various institutions where men are trained. There is, for instance, the very excellent training colony at Hollesley Bay, but it takes the wrong type of men. It takes the men who are, according to those well qualified to observe, of the institutional type, whatever that may mean, and they are not exactly the right type for work in the Dominions. That place, because it is attached to the Poor Law, is not able to do the work which otherwise it is well qualified to do, because it is an excellent farm, the training itself is very good, and the physical training is also good. There is a training institution, very much of the kind I have mentioned, under the Ministry of Labour. There needs to be not one or two—and certainly they should not be in connection with Poor Law institutions—but a number of colleges set up under the Migration Department whether for overseas settlement or anything else which shall definitely act as centres where men can be trained for work overseas. My hon. Friend the Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) has asked why we should not settle the men on the land in this country. May I point out to my hon. Friend that by setting up training colonies in Great Britain you are training men for agricul- 2388 tural work, and they will then be just as fit when trained for settlement in this country as for settlement overseas, if only you can get the land for them in this country, and that is the difficulty.
§ Mr. J. JONES
Will the hon. Member recognise that there are plenty of agricultural labourers in this country who have been trained as well here as they could be in the Colonies, and why not give these men a chance here without any further training?
I agree that there are a large number of agricultural workers in this country, but there are not places for a large number of industrially-trained workers who desire to migrate from this country, and it is to the problem of those town workers that my remarks are addressed. I was leading up to the point that the Labour party does not wish to separate the problem of settlement in the Dominions from the problem of settlement on the land in this country, and I was showing that by setting up a system of training colonies, which I think it will be agreed is necessary, you will be preparing men for an agricultural life in this country which otherwise they would have to go to the Dominions to acquire. I think our present arrangements are entirely inadequate. The Empire Settlement Act, which started under very good auspices and with excellent intentions, is not working properly. We have authority to spend a large amount of money overseas, but only a very small fraction of it has been spent, and we have not in fact been able to work the machinery for migration which Parliament has set up. We have not been able to migrate people, because, first of all, we do not choose our people rightly, and, secondly, because it is so difficult to get information about the opportunities existing overseas.
The other day when I raised this matter in the House the Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department referred me to the Overseas Settlement Committee. I do not wish to use harsh language in this House, but I do not hesitate to say that a more ineffective and inefficient body than that Committee has never been created by a Government. It is not doing anything. I suppose it employs a certain 2389 number of clerks, and they answer letters after intervals of about three weeks, but how a body of that kind is going to help us in regard to migration or anything else I really do not know. I am aware that there are other agencies. If you want information about Canada you can go to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company's offices or to the Canadian National Railway and other institutions. If you want information about Australia you can go to a variety of other bodies, and you can collect a large number of illustrated pamphlets on a large number of subjects which will furnish a small library; but you cannot get at any one place in London information about what you should do, and which is the best place suited for you as an individual. On another occasion the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department referred me to the Overseas Settlement Office in order to get that kind of information. It was suggested that an agricultural labourer in want of information as to the place he should emigrate to should go to the Overseas Settlement Committee. I believe that Committee has changed its address three times within a very recent period. I do not know if that has been done to dodge the agricultural labourer, but I know that Committee does not answer letters until after a lengthy period, and how you can expect agricultural labourers and others who may not be educated men to get any information out of the Overseas Settlement Committee I do not know.
It may be that the Overseas Settlement Committee can be reformed, but I very much doubt it, and I think we shall have to set up a new body, organised on business lines to deal with this question of migration. I suggest that we have a very valuable precedent set us in this direction by the Empire Marketing Board. If we were to set up an executive Migration Commission, charged with the duty of getting on with the job and getting a move on, we might possibly get something done. My own democratic tendencies would be in the direction of entrusting the work to one man, telling him to get on with the work, and then if we did not like him we could give him the sack. I do not think this kind of work is done so well 2390 by a Committee, but, supposing you had a Committee of three men, I think they should be instructed to set up offices in London, Manchester, and other large towns to which a man or a woman could go and get information about any part of the British Empire to which they desired to emigrate, with the same facility as a man can go to-day to Messrs. Thomas Cook or Messrs. Dean and Dawson and get information about railway tickets to Turkey or India, or steamship tickets to America or Australia. There is no reason why we should not be able to find ways and means of travelling in the British Empire as easily as it is to get information about travelling on the Continent of Europe. This will have to be done by a body which is actively doing the work, and not by a body which is going to sleep like the Overseas Settlement Committee.
I understand from a reply which was given by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs that this whole matter of migration is going to be brought before the Imperial Conference. I suggest that the arrangements which ought to be made should be referred to the Imperial Economic Committee in order that they may survey the whole question. While on this side we know there are many obstacles in the way of migrants getting out of this country, we also know that there are many obstacles overseas in Australia, Canada and elsewhere. For my own part, I believe that those obstacles both in this country and overseas arise from the fact that there never has been a really complete consideration of this whole problem by all the parties concerned, and that if we could get all those interested to appoint representatives, and to agree on some general policy with regard to migration, we might get on very much more quickly with this problem than we are doing at the present time.
I understand, in connection with the Group Settlement Scheme which has been referred to during this Debate, that the Report was issued yesterday, and I am told that it is a. very good and satisfactory Report. I understand, however, that the Group Settlement Scheme in Western Australia has come to an end. What has happened? What is the reason for that? When you get this constant chopping and changing how can you have any consistent policy? 2391 If when this matter is considered at the Imperial Conference we can get agreement, so much the better, although I rather doubt it in view of the difficulties in the way. If we cannot get such an agreement, I suggest that this is a very proper subject to be referred to the Imperial Economic Committee which represents the whole of the Empire. We might suggest to them that they should consider the proposal to set up in this country an Executive Migration Commission that shall deal with the problem of migration in a business-like way. May I say to my hon. Friends behind me, who appear to think there is some difference of opinion about our people settling in the Dominions and settling on the land in this country, that at the Labour Conference last September there was no opposition, and the two policies were considered parallel. Therefore, if you set up training colonies here, you would at the same time be doing something to secure a real settlement on the land in this country.
I think if the hon. Member will refresh his memory he will find that my statement is quite accurate. We are not dealing with any question of sending men out of this country, but with the problem of providing facilities for the men who wish to go abroad. There is no doubt whatsoever that at the present time a great many people do wish to go abroad. I am constantly getting letters, and I know many other hon. Members are getting similar letters, which show that there are many men who wish to go out of the country. How can we wonder at that state of things in face of an unemployment figure of 1,600,000, without counting the miners who are unemployed. Can we wonder that under those circumstances men wish to leave this country and migrate to other lands. I think some of my hon. Friends rather under-estimate the spirit of youth and adventure which in so many cases induce in men a desire to travel and to live in other parts of the world, even if eventually they come back to this country. That will always be one of the valued assets of our race whatever particular class we may spring from. I believe it is absolutely essential to us as a community 2392 that we should have some of the best of our blood overseas at the present time. I hope we shall get more men to emigrate, and I shall be very glad to help in giving facilities to those who desire to go overseas, and I know there are a very large number at the present time.
§ 6.0 P.M.
We must have a proper balance between this country and the other parts of the Empire, and we want to get a very great improvement in the standard of life not only overseas, but in this country as well. With regard to this question of settlement in Great Britain and overseas, it is merely a question of taking the narrow or the broad view. I believe that a majority of the people of this country without distinction of party are now in favour of the broad view of Empire development as well as development in this country. We want this bigger view. May I refer, in conclusion, to the necessity of securing a proper development of Dominions like Australia and Canada merely from the point of view of population. We shall not be able to hold those lands in the future unless we have a large population in them. It is essential for our welfare and security in this country that we should balance the very large and increasing coloured populations in various parts of the world with large while populations in such lands as Australia and Canada. That great problem of the future, the conflict of standard of life between the white and the coloured peoples—a problem which the party on these benches is going to be called upon, I believe, to face in the very near future —is going to be simplified enormously if we have big white areas in the world from which we can get support, as we are getting support at the present time from the Australian Labour party. We shall be in a very much more difficult position if we have not Dominions of that kind I hope, therefore, that on this matter we shall find ourselves all in substantial agreement, and that the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs will find himself so far able to agree with what I have suggested to-day that he will at any rate give an answer which is sympathetic, if not entirely affirmative.
§ Major STEEL
I am sure that all of us who sit on this side of the House were delighted to be reassured by the right hon. Gentleman, the former Secretary of 2393 State for the Colonies, that this question of Imperialism should not be treated as a party question, but that it is the bounden duty of us all, in every party, to try to develop our Empire and its trade. There is no doubt that, as has been pointed out by the hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. H. Guest), the results of the Empire Settlement Act have been extremely disappointing, and have not come up to the expectations which we had all entertained. I think there is no doubt that, as the Government Report points out, the probable reason is bad trade. The Act was passed in 1922, just at the beginning of the very bad cycle of trade. During the four years for which the Act has been in existence we have had a continued depression in trade, and I think it is an indisputable fact that migration is best in years of good trade, and that there is least migration in years of bad trade. Therefore, I think that the occurrence of this trade depression is the principal reason why the result of the Act has been so disappointing up to the present. From that point of view, the coal stoppage is a calamity, because at the beginning of this year the prospects were certainly better, and we all looked for ward during 1926 to better trade and a considerable increase in migration to the various parts of the Empire. As the result of this long stoppage, there is no doubt that the recovery of trade must be very considerably postponed, and, there fore, I suppose we cannot look for any great increase over the figures of last year.
It is becoming more and more evident as the years go by that we in these islands cannot regard ourselves merely as an isolated unit, but that we have to regard ourselves as part of an enormous Empire, and that the policy of this part of the Empire must be laid down in conjunction with a great Imperial policy which will suit all parts of our Empire. We are extremely lucky, because, although we may not be self-contained in this country—indeed, we are not—yet our Empire is self-contained. Within our Empire we have territories in the temperate zones where we can grow all those crops which require a temperate climate, and we have also large territories in the tropics where we can grow those crops which require a tropical climate. Again, 2394 in other parts of the Empire, and in the Mother Country here, we have factories, and mills in which we produce almost every kind of article that is required by mankind. The point is, however, that in no part of the Empire can we grow every crop or make every article that is, required. Therefore, what we have to do is to develop in the different parts of the Empire the crops for which their climate is suitable, and to develop our industries here in order to supply them, thereby doing good to both. This seems a more or less simple proposition, When you have the land and the capital, all that is required is labour.
I have been reading the Fruit Report of the Imperial Economic Committee, which has just been published, and. which is an extraordinarily interesting document. There one finds that we imported—and I think very few people in this country realise it—in the year 1924, £48,000,000 worth of fruit from overseas; but the sad part of it is that, of that £48,000,000, we paid away to the foreigner £38,000,000. The Report goes on to say that the Committee have not the slightest doubt that, after the Empire has been properly developed, we shall be able to get all our fruit requirements, with small exceptions, such as grapes and oranges, from within the Empire. Let me take the example which the Committee give, of what happens in a district called Mildura, in Australia. That is a district which, 13 or 14 years ago, was more or less barren, only a few sheep being grazed there. Its area is about 300,000 acres, and it used to carry a stock of about 2,000 sheep, with only one or two men employed in looking after them. The land was irrigated, and to-day it is employing 14,000 men in producing fruit. If that district had not been properly developed, so that we could get the enormous amount of fruit that we get from Mildura, I suppose we should have got it from America, and what does the American do for us? In the same year, 1924, he only bought 9s. worth of our goods while the Australian bought over £10 worth. It must be evident to everyone that it is to the advantage of Australia to have her land irrigated and developed and her production increased, and to the advantage of this country to do business with people who are such extremely good customers.
2395 The Empire Settlement Act was passed with the express object of trying to increase the trade of the Empire. Some of the reasons for its not having been up to the present so successful as we had all hoped have been met by, for instance, the reduction of the cost of passages. I am sure we are all glad that there has been such an enormous reduction in the cost of passages to Canada, so that now one can go right out to Western Canada for £8 or £9. There has also been a very large reduction in the cost of passages to Australia. While those reductions have been made, and will, we hope, result in a considerable increase in migration, yet there are several recommendations of the Maclean Committee which I hope the Secretary of State will do his best, in conjunction with the Dominion Ministers, when they come to the Imperial Conference, to carry out. I feel that this is such a vital question for the future of this country and the Empire that we ought to do everything possible to oil the springs and make the Act a success. The Maclean Report makes several recommendations. There was one with regard to the standardisation of all the various insurance schemes that we enjoy, not only in this country but in almost every one of our Dominions The Report says:But in these Dominions the period for residence in order to obtain the benefits varies in almost every Dominion, and in every Dominion the applicant for the benefit has had to reside in that particular Dominion for a. certain number of years.The Maclean Committee recommended that the period of residence necessary to qualify under non-contributory schemes of old age pensions should be uniform throughout the Empire, and that, for the purpose of calculating the qualifying period, residence in any part of the Empire, where a corresponding scheme is in existence should be taken into account. I think that that is an extremely important factor, and I hope the Secretary of State will do his best to try and get that suggestion adopted.
The Committee have also made other suggestions, one of which is that the medical fee charged to an applicant who wishes to obtain an assisted passage to one, of our Dominions—it is not a very large sum, I think 10s. 6d.—should be paid for him: and I hope the Secretary 2396 of State will consider that suggestion also. But what I feel to be by far the most important factor is the question of publicity. I do not think we can do too much, and it would be hard to spend too much money, in advertising the Empire and doing all we can to bring home to people in this country the advantages of trading with our Empire. There is not the slightest doubt that Wembley had an enormous effect, and that large masses of the population who went to Wembley realised for the first time what the Empire can do and what it is capable of producing. As is stated in the summary of conclusions in the Fruit Report of the Imperial Economic Committee, what we want to do is to mobilise the consumer in this country, and bring home to him the enormous advantages of doing business with the Empire, as compared with doing business with a foreign country. I do not think we can bring home too much the enormous advantages of trading with Australia or Canada, and the enormous purchases that these men when they go out there will make front us. That will help the trade of this country, and thereby do good both to our Dominions and to our own Mother Country here at home.
§ Mr. SNELL
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) confined his remarks almost exclusively to what we may call the Dominion aspect of this great problem. I propose to devote myself rather to the Crown Colony and Protectorate side of it. I will, however, make one short exception in regard to the question of migration. I agree that if it is right that people should be migrated from one part of the Empire to another the progress is disappointingly slow, but I have never aroused in myself tremendous enthusiasm for the migration of other people, and I feel the very utmost we can do is to say that those who desire to go should have facilities provided for them. There should be no delays placed in their way, but there should be no cumbrous machinery to move them. In my judgment, many hon. Members, in estimating who are the kind of people to go, speak with only half knowledge of what is required. As one whose parents were both agricultural labourers and who himself was an agricultural labourer from early boyhood to early manhood, I detect 2397 an unreality about a great deal of the advice that is given. It is not a question as to whether a townsman is fit or unfit, or a countryman is fit or unfit. The real problem is whether the man's soul, his spirit, has been divorced from Nature or contact with country life, and so on. If it has, it does not matter whether he is a townsman or a countryman, he will fail. If it has not, it does not matter whether he was born in a city or in the country, he will succeed. So the question is, not that farm labouring work is not hard work—some of it is desperately hard work—but the real point is whether the man has the knack of using tools and whether he has been prepared by training for the work that is put before him.
With that short exception, I should like to confine what I have to say to the question of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates. I would express, first of all, my very great disappointment that the report of the Under-Secretary for the Colonies on his visit to West Africa is not available for us. It would have been immensely interesting and I much regret that there has been so much delay in producing it. I should like to ask him certain questions in regard to it if only to provoke him into giving us some information. I should like to ask him first of all when an opportunity will be provided for it to be discussed in the House—whether in this part of the Session or in the Autumn Session. Secondly I should like him to tell us something about the social conditions prevailing in the territories that he visited, the economic conditions, the condition of the workers, whether they are prosperous, in regard to earnings, how they are housed and what the provisions are for their education and general well being. I should like him to tell us something about the system of production in which they are engaged and any other special problem that came before his notice, but especially I should like to ask him something about 'the problem centring round the production of palm oil products.
How does that problem stand in West Africa at present? We should like to have information whether it is produced upon what we generally call the West African system or is the plantation system superseding that, and if so, with what results I have no close knowledge 2398 of this industry, but I believe prior to 1914 the native could collect and sell freely this product to anyone who wished to buy it, whether it was a member of our own or any other nation, and that he had in actuality a complete monopoly of that trade inasmuch as the particular palm which will produce this fruit will only grow in that one place in the world. In British West Africa alone there were collected 350,000 tons, or £6,000,000 worth of this product. In 1916 a Committee was set up presided over by the right hon. Gentleman who is now Minister of Labour, and it was recommended that a differential duty of not less than £2 per ton should be placed upon this commodity. It was not a War-time measure because it was never put into operation during that period, but in 1919 the Colonial Office urged the. local Government to put the order into operation. They did so and it failed. It shows, in my judgment, that the very greatest care should be taken before we begin to play with preferential tariffs and preferences of any kind, for the result of the putting into operation of this order was that Holland, which had not previously produced this material, caught the idea of trying whether it could be produced in Sumatra. They tried, and the success has been not only extraordinary but has become something of a menace to our own industry.
§ Sir FRANK SANDERSON
I have, some knowledge of the palm kernel industry, and I do not agree that the introduction of the export tax of £2 per ton was a mistake. My profound regret is that it was later withdrawn, and I look forward with considerable interest to the time when it is re-introduced, which is vital to the palm kernel industry of this country. It enabled us to divert that industry from Germany, which they enjoyed prior to the War, to the United Kingdom. Statistics show that since the withdrawal of that export tax, it has enabled Germany, to a great measure, to recapture that trade, and increase her imports of palm kernels from West Africa, whilst imports to the United Kingdom have unfortunately decreased, almost precisely at the same ratio, to the detriment of the seed-crushing industry.
§ Mr. SNELL
My submission was that if a differential duty had not been put 2399 on at all, Holland would never have started to produce this stuff in Sumatra and there mould still have been a monopoly available for West Africa. As it is we have lost both the monopoly and the revenue, and I should like to have some information as to how the matter stands.
The two questions of labour and land in Africa are very closely connected. We have vast territorial spaces there which are mainly agricultural, and unless there is unrestricted access to the land on the part of the natives, who alone can produce, you have reduced production, and you do not have the elements of abiding progress. There are two ways in which, in our judgment, these territorities may be developed. The first is that the native should have the use and enjoyment of the land upon which he has been born and that the fruits of his labour should go to him alone. On the other hand, there is the plantation system, which urges that greater use can be made of the territories if the natives, by one method or another, can be induced or coerced to work for wages for the white settler. I should like to ask how far the original land system in Africa is being carried out. We on this side are no more concerned that the individual native alone should possess the land than that the individual white settler should possess it. The land belongs to the community, to the tribe or the clan, or whatever it may be called, and we would wish as far as is possible that the old system should be maintained and that the tribe or the community to which the native belongs should hold and control the land. If development is on these lines, we should be glad to hear it. If it is on the lines of economic exploitation of the natives by white syndicates, we should be sorry to hear it, though we should like to have the information.
I should like to say a word on the question of taxation. In our judgment, the hut tax in many parts of Africa is far too high, and all natives are not fully capable of work whereby they can earn money to produce the tax that is required. On the other hand we believe that Europeans as a rule are taxed far too lightly, and also that the native taxes are not spent adequately upon native requirements or for the benefit of the 2400 native people. In our judgment wherever forced labour has to be it should be very strictly limited to purposes of native public utility such as is required for the preservation of the amenities of the tribe to which he belongs. All voluntary labour, .when it is given, we feel very strongly should be paid for directly to the worker himself and not to chiefs or overlords or those who would like to teach him how to spend his money, and contracts when made should not be enforceable under the criminal law. Those are certainly matters about which we should like to have information.
I should like to say a final word in regard to education. I very much hope this fundamentally important question will receive the best attention of the Government in regard to its method and its development. We do not wish that the native should be given a purely utilitarian education, merely to teach him to become a better economic tool. We require that he shall have, as far as his capacity will enable him in this stage of his development, access to wider ranges of knowledge, which seems to be the right of every man, whether he is of one colour or race or another. I should like to ask whether the policy in regard to education is that expressed in Education Policy in British Tropical Africa, Command Paper 2374, which was issued some time ago. That contains a view of education which, on the whole, I think would commend itself to every section of the House. But in any case, the money spent on education is ridiculously, probably dangerously, inadequate. Let me give two figures in illustration of what I mean. In Nigeria in 1923–24 the revenue was £6,260,561, and the amount spent on education was only £135,866. Take the better known case of Kenya. For the same year the revenue was £1,839,447, and the amount spent on education was only £44,946. In regard to the question of education, while missionary enterprise has done something in this direction, yet, looking to the future, the Government itself should have a dominating hand in its control and development. It is of such vast importance, taking a long view, that it should not be left in the haphazard condition in which it is now.
I hope the Government will assure us that the utmost that is possible is being 2401 done in regard to the health of the native people. The conditions prevailing in certain portions of Uganda are horrible beyond expression, and I hope the Government is going to tackle the problem of the physical condition of the people as well as looking after heir mental and spiritual welfare. We are now better able to deal with the diseases which are prevalent in these countries than ever before, and all that is required is a more adequate medical staff and the training of native medical dispensers, who will be able to co-operate with the Government in promoting the health of the various tribes. These are a few matters on which I hope the Government will give us some information. The number present in the House is in no way indicative of the interest which is now taken in these Colonies. The increasing interest of Members of this House in the question of Colonial development and our responsibilties towards the Crown Colonies and Protectorates has been wonderful. Let us take care that we are developing on the right lines and then every further step we take will be a blessing to the communities in these lands.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
As one of the back benchers who takes an interest in Empire questions, I must say that I am glad an opportunity is given to-day to discuss Empire matters. Such questions are undoubtedly of real and vital interest, not only to this country but to the rest of the Empire. I had hoped that perhaps two days of Supply might have been devoted to Dominion and Crown Colony questions, but unfortunately that has not been the case. I want, in the first place, to refer to certain remarks made by the hon. Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell), in which be said that two of the requirements necessary for the development of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates were population and transport. I agree that these two requirements are necessary, but it appears to me that another one is also essential, and that is that we should make the fullest use of science in the development of our tropical. Empire Not only is it necessary that we should use science, and I mean science in its broadest aspect, in order to preserve the health of the people, to avoid the tremendous wastage which takes place every year in these countries, to prevent many of the diseases 2402 and cure others, but we must also use science in the actual work of the development of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates in the realm of agriculture. I hope this aspect of the question is one which will receive the careful consideration of the Government.
We have now in Trinidad the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, which has done as excellent work as can be done by any such institution. Under the guidance of Dr. Martin Leake, great results have been achieved. In this college, not only is research work carried out, but the training of those men who in later life are destined to be agricultural officers, themselves teachers or planters in different Colonies, whether it be in the West Indies, East Africa, West Africa, or in any other part of the Empire. It is fortunate that we have such a man as Dr. Leake at the head of that college, because he is not only turning out experts in agriculture but he is turning out real men who will be able to take their part in the development of these countries. But this institution which exists in Trinidad is not enough. We must have something very much more extensive than this if we are to use science as it can be used and as it should be used in the development of these territories. I hope to see the day when we shall get a chain of research stations throughout the whole of our tropical Empire. We want one for the West Indies, and the college at Trinidad supplies that. We must have another one in West Africa. We have the Amani Institute for East Africa, and then there are the territories further north for which we have a responsibility. Iraq, Palestine and certain parts of the Sudan, the dry-land countries. There, again, a research station to cover the whole of these countries would be of the greatest use.
Going further east we come to Malaya and the countries adjacent. problems there are somewhat similar in some respects, but they are very different in others, and another station would be needed in that part of the world. Lastly, there is the Pacific group of islands where we have responsibility, but in which the administration is under the control of the great Dominions of Australia and New Zealand. They have tropical problems which would be much 2403 benefited by some similar institution to that which exists at Amani or the one in Trinidad. If these were linked up together, united closely with and radiating from the Imperial College, we should have a chain of research stations where really practical work could be done and where the work that was done could be communicated to the other parts of the Empire and do much greater good than is possible at the moment. I hope that money in this direction will not be stinted. It will certainly come back to us a thousand-fold in the future.
Just one or two words on the Dominion side of the question. Their problems are different from those of the tropical Empire. Speaking roughly, the three main requirements of the Dominions are, first, markets, secondly, money, and, thirdly, protection against aggression. Let me take the last point first. This country has always borne the great bulk of the burden of defence, and I believe it will be necessary it should be so for many years. The Army, the Navy and the Air Force, which we help to support in such a great measure, act as a shield not only for the shores of this country but for the far distant Colonies wherever they are situated. It is our duty to see, until these Dominions get stronger than they are, that we continue to afford them this protection. With regard to financial assistance, there again we certainly have in the past given than great help by way of loans and guarantees, and in many other ways we have contributed materially to the development of these Dominions.
Then we come to markets. The Dominions require, if they are to expand as rapidly as we all wish, continually increasing markets where they can sell their products, and there, I believe, we can certainly help them. I am convinced that under these conditions it is obviously in the best interests of the Dominions themselves to see that our commercial and industrial strength is maintained and increased; it is in their interests to help us as much as they can. In the main they have realised this and are trying to do so. By the preferences they give they have helped us materially in the past. In the case of Australia and New Zealand, I believe the average amount of preference they give amounts 2404 to something like 12 per cent. There are many who believe that had it not been for these sheltered markets the unemployment from which we have suffered so much during the past three years would have been much more serious than it has. I quote as an example the textile trade of the West Riding of Yorkshire. I know that at the present moment it is actually easier for manufacturers of certain classes of goods to sell them in the Dominions than it is to sell them in the City of London or in any other place in this country, simply because the preference given by the Dominions affords them a sheltered market which they do not enjoy elsewhere. Consequently we must turn our attention more and more to the Dominions for an increase in trade which is so vital to them and to us.
We are rather inclined sometimes, even Governments, to pay too much attention to Europe and European affairs. We have to look further afield. It is the markets of the Dominions which can, and I believe will, play a very important part in the future in providing employment for our people. I do not want to quote too many examples, but Australia and New Zealand, with a total population of somewhere about 7,000,000, purchased in 1925 more goods from us than the whole of France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal together, and these countries have a total population of something like 114,000,000. Not only is that the case, but during the same 12 months, they bought more goods from us than the countries in the North of Europe, Latvia, Lithuania, Esthonia, Holland, Poland, and even Russia, about which we hear so much, and where there is in all a population of nearly 200,000,000. It shows that these two small Dominions are actually worth more to us at the present time than the whole of these groups of countries in Europe to which I have referred.
The increase in the purchases by the Dominions is really remarkable under present conditions. In 1923 their percentage of our exports was 39 per cent. of the total, and in 1925 it had increased to just over 43 per cent. I think it shows very plainly indeed that it is in the direction of the Empire that we must look for our future trade. Coming from the North of England, I generally use the textile trade as an example and an illustration. I would like to quote the exports 2405 which took place to New Zealand in 1925, in both woollen and cotton goods, and I would like to read the figures to the House. In 1925 New Zealand imported £728,434 of cotton goods, and out of that £675,061 came from this country. Of woollen goods she imported £232,311, and out of that total £218,376 were of British manufacture. That shows in those two trades alone how very important these two Dominions are to us in finding employment for our people. Not only is it in the interests of the Dominions to try to help us, but it is also in our interest to try to help the Dominions.
At present there are few ways in which this can be done. As the result of the last election we are debarred from increasing the Preferential taxes on goods and thus helping them in that way. I believe that under the terms of the Anglo-German Commercial Treaty it is not possible to go in for any system of licences and bulk importation from the Dominions, so that we only have left what, in the main, amounts to one method, and that is voluntary preference for British goods. It is very important indeed that we should try to make voluntary preference a real success. I am glad to say that what is called the "Buy British Goods" campaign has been producing very good results during the past few months, but I hope that during the next year or two, and during the next few months in particular, everyone will try to make voluntary preference something really valuable, not only to the Dominions, but to ourselves. I hope we shall be given a definite lead by members of the Government in favour of voluntary preference, and that we shall also get the enthusiastic support of the Members of the official Opposition—I was going to say, of the Liberal Opposition also, but I do not see any of them in their places, and evidently they do not take any interest whatever in this subject. If we make this a success we shall show the Dominions that we mean business and create markets for ourselves. This is the only available opportunity we have at present of building up markets to help the future trade and prosperity of this country.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS and for the COLONIES (Mr. Amery)
I think the hon. Member for Woolwich East (Mr. Snell) said a very true thing just now 2406 when he asked the House to believe that the scanty attendance this afternoon was no indication of the real interest taken by the House in Imperial affairs. My own conclusion is that there never has been a time when so much interest has been shown in Imperial affairs, or when that interest was so widely diffused amongst Members of all parties. I think it is the fact that so much that is in our discussion is uncontroversial which has led many Members to take the opportunity of absenting themselves. I had hoped when the joint Colonial and Dominion Estimates were brought before the Committee last year that in future we should be able to discuss the affairs of these two separate Departments separately, and not have any more of those discursive Debates, ranging from our relations with the great minions and the problems of Imperial affairs to minor matters of administration in the Colonies. Unfortunately, my hope has been, to some extent, frustrated; but I, at any rate, will confine my remarks in the main to those subjects which come within the scope of the Dominions Office, and leave it to my very capable colleague the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to deal afterwards with Colonial questions.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell), in a very suggestive and, if I may say so, helpful speech, expressed the view that the division of the two offices was more a matter of theory than of practice. I think he is a little mistaken in that. Except for the fact that the two offices are held by the same individual in his capacity as two Secretaries of State, they are entirely different offices. There are separate Parliamentary and permanent Under-Secretaries; and perhaps the best test of the reality of the separation is that when the Secretary of State himself is away, each office has its own separate head, and there is no direct connection between them. He also went on to say we ought to take a further step in the division of the Departments by separating the persons of the two Secretaries of State. When I think, not so much of the work I have to do—I am not complaining of its being too little—but when I think of the work that I ought to be doing but leaving undone, I am inclined to feel that there is a great deal to be said for the 2407 contention of my hon. and gallant Friend in view of the growing development of the importance of our relations with the Dominions and the ever-growing complexity of the great administrative and developmental machine of the Colonial Office.
He also put forward a number of suggestive views as to the organisation of the Colonial Office itself. He contrasted the medical equipment of the Colonial Office with the generous provision made by such a body as the United Fruit Company, whose territory is not as large as that of one of our smallest Colonies. It may be as he says, hut he is comparing a centralised administration, where a great deal of the specialist staff is necessarily at headquarters, with a decentralised administration with separate Governments, each with its own technical staff, and with an office in London which is not so much an administrative centre as a directing and controlling centre. I do not think he ought to push the comparison too far. At the same time, I do agree that the purely geographical division will gradually have to be complemented, not substituted, by an organisation dealing with subject matters of the greater importance. I have, of course, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, a legal adviser dealing with the many legal problems that arise, I have a medical adviser to deal with the immensely important question of public health throughout the Dominions, and I think that, in substance, at any rate, through the Education Committee, I have an adviser on educational matters. No doubt we shall gradually have to build up a more specialist organisation in the office to deal with these problems.
We shall also want, and there I entirely endorse, the suggestion made by my Noble Friend the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) to bring the office in London itself into much closer and more direct intercourse with the Colonies. I think a great deal more has been done in recent years, under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), and also more lately, towards getting members of the Colonial Office staff out to the Colonies on various missions. There are really very few members of that staff who have not seen something of the Empire at first hand, but I agree that we ought to go 2408 further, and that it ought to be an essential part of the career of any civil servant in the Colonial Office that part of that career should be spent in actual work in a Colony. I can inform the House that I have laid it down, as one of the conditions of entry into the Colonial Office in future, that no candidate can be accepted who is not prepared to spend one or more periods of his official life—periods of two years or so—in the service outside.
There is just this one other point before I leave the subject of the Colonial Office, and that is the criticism of the right hon. Member for Derby as to my not continuing the work of the Southborough and Islington Committees. I hope he will not accuse me of being indifferent to the desire to continue good work which he initiated, or of wishing to exclude the element of co-operation by members of other parties. He knows very well that in overseas settlement affairs I have, from the very first, since the War, endeavoured to enlist the help of, and have secured very valuable help from, colleagues of his who are now in the House of Commons. I also hope, when occasion arises, and it may arise very soon, to follow the example which he set in appointing a Parliamentary Commission composed of members of each party to look into East African affairs, by appointing a. similar Commission to look into other problems of development in the Colonial Empire. I believe fresh minds from the House of Commons can give the same stimulus, looking upon things with a new eye, that the Commission which my right hon. Friend appointed gave to affairs in East Africa. With regard to these particular Committees, I would remind him that they sat for some considerable time, that the Ormsby-Gore Commission went out with the very same terms of reference as the Southborough Committee, and brought back an immensely full Report, and that after this the need in the opinion of many members of the Committee, as well as my own, was not for further discussion by a Committee, but for action by the Government and the Colonial Office. As the Hous knows, in the matter of transport communication I did establish a more specialist and, I think for that purpose, a more useful Committee, in the shape of the Schuster Committee.
2409 7.0 P.M.
So much for Colonial matters. I will now turn to problems concerning the Dominions. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Derby for bringing out in his speech, not so much for the instruction of this country or of the Dominions as of the outside world, something of the essential features of our inter-Imperial relations, of that unity in complete independence which is the characteristic of the relationship of our partner Governments in the Empire. They are independent, just as we are. The character of their independence is the same as ours, an independence that is qualified only by the self-imposed responsibility of mutual loyalty, mutual helpfulness and mutual co-operation in all matters making for the welfare of the Empire as a whole. From that point of view it is right now and again to remind the outside world that we do not interfere with each other's independence. In such a matter as that to which my right hon. Friend alluded, the action of the Crown or its representative in a particular Dominion, no member of the British Government here would either be competent, so far as having a knowledge of the facts, nor be constitutionally justified, in seeking to interfere with his advice or suggestions. Matters of that sort, as I have declared in this House before, fall within the constitution of the part of the Empire concerned, and we are no more entitled in these days to proffer our advice with regard to their internal constitutional problems than they would be entitled to proffer their advice in a constitutional crisis, say between the two Houses, in this country.
The right hon. Gentleman also touched upon another matter lying entirely within the sphere of authority of a particular Dominion, I mean the Indian question in South Africa, but yet of considerable interest, in the first instance to another part of the Empire, India, and in a more general way to the Empire as a whole. He very rightly reminded the House that he made a suggestion in South Africa that the very real difficulties, which he knows so well, having been on the spot, might, perhaps, be eased by some form of conference between the parties concerned. Well, without any intervention upon the part of the British Government, the parties themselves, the Government of the Union of South 2410 Africa and the Government of India, have been in correspondence and communication. They have put their difficulties to each other. The Indian Government sent a deputation to South Africa, which by the moderation it displayed and the wisdom it exhibited made a very good impression. I understand that as the outcome of the discussions which took place in South Africa, a conference is to be held in South Africa at the end of the year, and I also understand that a deputation of leading members of the South African Parliament, members who were, as a matter of fact, closely concerned with the study of these particular legislative measures, which have aroused criticism in India, are going to visit India. The whole atmosphere is a better one because we have avoided all interference and because the parties directly concerned, each with its sense of responsibility, first of all to its own people and then to the common interests of the Empire, have got into closer touch with each other.
The right hon. Gentleman raised, very rightly, the question of the Imperial Conference which is to meet next October. That Conference is the one permanent organ of inter-Imperial consultation which helps to frame a common policy of the Empire. Its growth and development have been modified in the course of the last 30 years, and undoubtedly we are bound, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, at each Conference, to consider its work, and to consider how far its procedure and its mechanism can be improved. I was very much interested in what the right hon. Member said about the consequences of the last Imperial Conference. Like him I will say nothing about the merits of the particular items of policy that were agreed upon at that Conference, and then felt to be impossible of execution by the next Government which followed in this country. They might equally have been thrown over by changes of Government in one or more of the Dominions. I know no one was more disappointed at the fact that the work of that Conference seemed to have been in some measure undone than the right hon. Member, and he has given a great deal of thought as to whether those difficulties could not be overcome by some change in the composition of the Conference itself. He suggested that 2411 the Conference should become one not merely of members of the governing party but should also include members of the Opposition. It is an attractive idea, but he knows very well that, as communicated by telegraphic despatch, it did not commend itself to the Governments of the Dominions. There is a very real difficulty. A great part of the deliberations of the Imperial Conference deal with executive policy which is being carried on from day to day, in respect of which only the Government of the day can undertake responsibility and in respect of which it cannot divide or share its responsibility. At the same time it is true that a great deal else is discussed at these Imperial Conferences Which for its success depends upon the co-operation of future Parliaments, and in respect of which it would be better if we could find some method of getting some general assent, as well as the assent of the Governments immediately responsible.
I would like the right hon. Member to put the other side. He appreciates the fact that I want the Dominions and we ourselves to face this point. He knows the difficulty of foreign policy. We were faced one day suddenly with the whole ramifications of the Dawes Report. The Dawes Report vitally affected the Dominions in many particulars. We were compelled to act quickly. The Dominions—I am not blaming them—could not or would not delegate their power and authority to their High Commissioners, for reasons which we know and understand. Therefore, if this question of the Report of the Conference cannot be given effect to, could some discussion take place as to how there could in some way be authoritative Dominion opinion which could be consulted, and which could speak with authority on a matter of urgency?
§ Mr. AMERY
I shall, with the permission of the House, follow that paint, but I would say, first of all, on the question of continuity of policy that the spirit in these matters is even more important than the mechanism. We have contrived in this country in foreign affairs, without in the least dividing the responsibility of each Government while it is in office, that we have such a spirit in the House of Commons as a whole that no one can say 2412 that there is not a very large measure of real continuity in the foreign policy of this country. When a Member sitting on the other side of the House becomes Foreign Secretary, he becomes heir to what his predecessors have done, and heir to the general policy of the British Empire, and not to a mere party policy. I cannot help hoping that in an increasing measure that may be true of Imperial affairs, by whatever mechanism Imperial policy may be settled. However, I do think there is a great deal in the suggestion that there should be some form of inter-Imperial consultation not on a purely party basis. It may be that the development of inter-Parliamentary delegations, which is being carried out in an informal, and therefore in the most flexible, way under the auspices of the Empire Parliamentary Association, bringing Members of Parliament together, as they will be brought together this autumn in Australia, may contain the nucleus of something that may develop to meet the need of which the right hon. Member speaks. At the very moment that the Conference of Governments will be assembled in London, a Conference of Parliaments of the Dominions in informal meeting will be discussing matters of Parliamentary interest in Australia.
I come to the other point which the right hon. Member raised just now, and I think it was also touched on by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon), namely, the advantage of some continuous consultation by the presence here of representatives of tie Dominions entrusted with full confidence by their Governments, both as regards receiving information from the Government here and the communicating of the wishes of those Governments to the British Government. I can only repeat what I said here a year ago, that that is a matter for the Dominion Governments. But, as far as this Government is concerned, whatever representatives the Dominion Governments may choose, whether it be their High Commissioners or any other representatives—and each Dominion must meet that in its own way—we on our part are ready to supply them with all the secret and confidential information which is accessible to their Prime Ministers when they are here as members of an Imperial Conference, and to keep in close personal touch with them. I mean by that not 2413 only in close personal touch with the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, but in close personal touch with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and also with any other Minister of the Cabinet with whom they wish to enter into direct relations.
I must not detain the House too long on each particular subject, but I would like to say that, in addition to the constitutional issues that will come up before tie Imperial Conference, certainly not the least will be that subject of Empire Settlement to which several speeches have been devoted this afternoon. I can only welcome the speeches that have been made, even though they have been critical in tone, because they indicate a live interest on the part of the House in a matter which I think is truly outside party, and yet is of the very first importance to the future welfare of this country, to the welfare of every one of the Dominions, and to the strength and unity of the Empire as a whole. I quite share the view that more than one Member has expressed that progress has been m many respects rather disappointing in the last. two or three years. But I would rather demur to the criticism which Would lay the blame entirely upon the inefficiency of the organisation that the British Government has set up I am sure the hon. Member for South wark (Mr. H. Guest), who was so critical of what he called the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the Overseas Settlement Committee and Overseas Settlement Office cannot really have consulted with two hon. colleagues of his on those benches, the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) and the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield), whom, as a worker in this field of Empire settlement, I warmly welcome back to this House.
The hon. Member for Southwark suggested that the difficulties lay in lack of information, in a wrong method of choice, and the need of some executive Commission to carry out the work. I suggest that those are theoretical difficulties. Take the lack of information. A survey of the land of the Empire would not carry us very far. We know there are millions of square miles of land suitable, but what you have got to take into consideration are the transport facilities and the economic conditions of the particular part of the Empire. The only people who can deal with those points are the Govern- 2414 ments of those parts. It is no good our taking a survey of those areas of New South Wales, to which he referred. We cannot unlock them for the purpose of Empire setttlement. The whole business of settlement must be done by the Government on the spot, and the whole essence of the policy on which we work at the Overseas Settlement Office and under the Empire Settlement Act is to recognise the responsibility of the .Dominions for their own settlement, and even more for the choice of the settlers, because, after all, they know best who are the people that are going to succeed, and they know best when the conditions are such as to render it against the interests of the would-be settler to allow them to give him financial assistance. It is no use giving money to people unemployed in England in order that they may be unemployed in Toronto. You have got to consider the circumstances, and the responsibility must lie with the Governments overseas.
From that point of view there is no room for a British Executive Commission that would interfere with the work of the Governments overseas. What the Overseas Settlement Office are doing is examining schemes of co-operation with the Dominions, helping in framing those schemes in order to see that, in using the money contributed by the House of Commons, those schemes will take into consideration the welfare of the settler. In that way you get a general control over settlement, without attempting unduly to interfere. It is also its duty to give information. I am sure that the hon. Member for Southwark North (Mr. Haden Guest) is mistaken when he thinks there is no machinery for conveying information in regard to overseas settlement. It may have taken rather a long time to elicit a reply to a particular letter—I do not know how many inquiries may have had to be made in that case of the different Dominion offices in London —but I do say that in the Overseas Settlement Department there is a staff of very efficient and most enthusiastic officers, and not only is personal information available to anyone who goes there, from people who have been settlers themselves, but there is a very ample supply of literature on every possible scheme and in regard to the conditions in every Dominion, for every class of settler. That literature is also available in a 2415 separate department of almost every Employment Exchange throughout the country.
The difficulties do not lie in lack of organisation or in lack of information. They lie, as one of my hon. Friends said, in a very useful speech, in the economic conditions of the last few years. The position of the Dominions has been such that they would not have been justified in welcoming a large and miscellaneous stream of assisted emigrants, of every kind and in every branch of industry and occupation. It is regrettable that certain restrictions have had to be imposed, but, on the whole, I think they have been wisely exercised. I do not say that there has not been sometimes a tendency to over-strong insistence upon certain physical conditions, and I shall certainly at the Imperial Conference press in every way for a more elastic interpretation of some of the rules which the Dominions apply in regard to the choice of settlers. But, broadly speaking, the problem is an economic one. The Dominions, like ourselves, have not recovered from the War, and a time of bad trade here, when it is difficult for men to save up money for migration coupled with a time of bad trade in the Dominions, is inevitably a time when the flood of emigration stops. But for the 40,000 a year or more who are assisted under the Settlement Act, the flood of emigration to the Dominions, which was in the neighbourhood of 180,000 a year for the five years before the War, would have sunk last year to the veriest trickle, something in the neighbourhood of 20,000 or 30,000. Our machinery is there and ready to be more effectively used when times change.
What we have to consider if we want migration and the better distribution of our population in the Empire to be a real success, is not merely the problem of migration by itself, but the kindred economic problems which are inseparably associated with it. There is the problem of finding more capital. I need not go into that matter, but it is intimately-linked up with the present economic situation in the United Kingdom, and with the dwindling away of our free balance of exports over imports. Again, it is intimately linked up with the whole problem of the market which this country provides for the goods of the Dominions. Like the right hon. Gentleman the 2416 Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), I do not propose on this occasion to discuss the question of Imperial Preference or tariffs. I hold my own views, and I hold them very strongly. I have never had the slightest doubt that these problems can only be solved when we have the courage as a nation to face these issues, and not to allow the courage of one party to be weakened by the fears of misrepresentation by other parties.
Apart from that, there is a great deal, as the hon. Member for North Bradford (Mr. Ramsden) said, that can be done by voluntary preference and by assistance in other ways in the marketing of Empire goods. I will not follow the right hon. Member for Derby in his suggestion that what is needed is a State organisation of purchases. That, like the fiscal question, is rather controversial. I will only say that doing things by State machinery in times of peace, through your ordinary officials, subject to the retardation of inter-Departmental and Parliamentary criticism, is a. very different thing from doing them in time of national emergency, when the ablest of your business men give the whole of their time for carrying on their own business as business on behalf of the State, and when in every section of the community, here and overseas, voluntary co-operation is given by the most capable men. If we could sustain that high spirit throughout, then many of the things suggested from the benches opposite would become more feasible than they are in the ordinary conditions of life, either outside or within Parliament.
What I do say is that we can do a good deal, and I should like to let the House know something of what we have begun to do in this respect in the last two or three months. The House will remember that there were certain Preferences which were promised in 1923 and rejected by the late Government, which the present Government felt they could not carry out altogether consistently with the widespread interpretation given to the Prime Minister's election pledges. They felt, however, that they ought to fulfil the promises in another way, by devoting £1,000,000 a year in a normal year and £500,000 in the present year to the promotion of Empire marketing schemes, for the carrying out of the recommendations that might be made on that subject by the 2417 Imperial Economic Committee. That was a matter that could not be carried out by the Imperial Economic Committee itself, because it is an inter-Empire body, and the various Governments of the Empire could not make themselves responsible for the spending of money provided by this House. It was, therefore, arranged that it should be carried out by a body composed of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, as the person responsible to this House for this expenditure, helped and advised by some of his colleagues in the Ministry and by members representing the various Dominions on the Imperial Economic Committee.
The Empire Marketing Board has been sitting weekly during the last two months, and very live and active sub-committees of that body have been meeting in the interim. Two months is a very small time in which to make a beginning, but I think that with the help of the three valuable reports of the Imperial Economic Committee we have been able to start a number of fruitful lines of development. These developments, broadly speaking, assume two characters The first is publicity, to help the British public to realise the extent to which the supplies it needs can be secured horn the Empire, and can be secured of good quality and at a reasonable price. The other is to ensure that the supplies will be there, as the quality should be there. For this latter purpose, what is needed is a great deal of research work, and more research work than is being done at the present time. By that, I mean research in every aspect, not merely scientific fundamental research, but also the more practical economic investigation into the actual conduct of trade and what happens to a particular parcel of goods, fruit, meat, or whatever it may be, in its course from the Dominions to the market here at home, and also an investigation into price, to which the right hon. Gentleman for Derby drew attention. We have done certain things already in that respect.
One of the most important matters affecting the carriage of Empire produce to this country is the question of cold storage. That is a matter of far greater complexity than is generally realised, and a great deal more research is urgently required. Very valuable 2418 research has already been done by a number of brilliant workers on the subject at Cambridge, but the work has been held up for lack of necessary funds. One of the first things we have done is to allocate £25,000 to the furtherance of the special cold storage research work at Cambridge. Another kindred problem lies in the fact that in many parts of the British Empire, where conditions as to pasture and everything else appear to be thoroughly satisfactory from the point of view of the stock in the industry, whether it is cattle, sheep or other animals, you get persistent malnutrition, loss of young animals, and insufficient development, through causes which it is difficult to discover, but which it is believed may be largely connected with the presence or absence of very small quantities of minerals in the soil. Important research work has already been carried out at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, and by representatives of that institute in Kenya. We are allocating the substantial sum of £10,000 for the furtherance of those investigations both in this country and in Kenya, and we hope, with the co-operation of the research departments of other Governments in the Empire, to extend the field of that inquiry very widely. I do not say that the whole problem will be solved, but I do believe that this inquiry, at very small expense, may throw a very valuable light upon the problem and may add millions to the value of the agricultural produce of the Empire.
The hon. Member for North Bradford, very rightly, laid stress on the immense importance of research and educational institutions with regard to tropical Africa. That is a matter into which we have gone very closely, and although we are only at the beginning of our investigations, we have already allocated a sum of £21,000 to the Imperial College of Agriculture at Trinidad, conditional upon an equivalent sum being contributed, as I understand it will be, by the generosity of certain bodies in this country who are interested in Empire cotton growing. The cotton-growing representatives came to me and informed me that, in their view, the effective development of cotton growing in the Empire depended not only on cotton research but on the training of a much larger number of highly qualified competent agricultural officers in the 2419 Empire. They volunteered the suggestion that they would help in this matter if the Empire Marketing Board would also help. In this way, a sum of £42,000 will become available for the enlargement and strengthening of that institution. We shall have to consider in the near future how far we may regard it as desirable to contribute sums towards the annual upkeep of the work there, or for that matter the work at Amani to which the hon. Member for North Bradford referred.
Another important matter affecting the question of Empire marketing is the effect on fruit in its transit from the grower to the purchaser, through deterioration and other kinds of loss. We are initiating a system of investigation into the whole problem, and I hope it will be actively at work before the House reassembles. There is another matter of importance in this connection, The House knows very well that this money was given in the first instance in lieu of certain Preferences for the Empire oversea. The Imperial Economic Committee have, however, always taken the view, expressed in their first report, that the Empire certainly does not exclude the old country. They have held that our duty in this matter of agriculture is in the first instance to our own producers and then to our fellow-producers throughout the Empire. The Imperial Economic Committee has always held that this expenditure should help the producers here at home as well as the producer in the Dominions, and on the recommendation of the Imperial Economic Committee a sum of £40,000 has been placed at the disposal of the Minister of Agriculture in this country to undertake a wide investigation into the general improvement of marketing methods in this country which are admittedly inferior to those of a great many foreign countries and to those in our Dominions.
In the same way in regard to publicity we are having the ground very carefully explored to see what we can do through the Press and through broadcasting, and also through the education of the public in what Imperial development means to the welfare of this country. We hope by the time the Imperial Conference meets to have a campaign on a reasonably substantial scale in operation. In all these 2420 matters, I believe, we can carry on very usefully the valuable work done by the Wembley Exhibition, as to the value of which there is no difference between my right hon. Friend (Mr. Thomas) and myself. Very great advantage has already grown from it, and a great deal further good may come. Such work will all come up for review by the Imperial Conference, and I hope the result will be to encourage us no carry on that work fully and do all we can, under our present, political limitations, to help the development of the Empire. I had not intended to detain the House so long, and on questions affecting the Colonies the Under-Secretary of State will reply to the interesting points already raised and the many points that will no doubt be raised by subsequent speakers.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
In the catalogue of the benefits which it is said this country is going to receive from this expenditure of a million pounds, the right hon. Gentleman included the magic one of publicity, and he defined the aspects of what that publicity was going to be, but he never hinted that in this publicity campaign he was going to say anything about the labour conditions under which any of the goods boosted for sale were going to be manufactured. I should say, from his own point of view, if he desires to popularise British Empire goods, such as Australian dried fruit for instance as against Smyrna dried fruit, he ought surely to let it be known to the people of this country that, the Smyrna dried fruits are handled by labour which is paid 3d. to 4d. per hour while Australian fruits are paid as high as 1s. 9d. per hour. But there is another side to it. When he is boosting the South African wine on the hoardings and in the columns of the "Daily Mail," I trust he will tell the public the labour conditions on the farms of South Africa as disclosed by the recent Economic Commission appointed by the South African Parliament. The natives work virtually under conditions of slavery. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman of this, that, while many of us believe that along the lines of voluntary Preference there can be a big increase in the consumption of Dominion goods in this country, there will be persistent opposition to the boosting of goods produced by sweated and underpaid labour, and we will take care from 2421 these benches that the labour conditions under which they are produced are properly explained to our people.
There are many people in this country who, when they think of the British Empire, think of the old John Company and its manners and methods of acquiring land and property in Hindostan. They think of the noble red man of the forest and the noble black man of the bush—both largely fictitious—and they think of the iniquity of expropriating these noble fellows who are armed only by bows and arrows by means of British machine guns. Exploitation and extortion, cruelty and terrorism have played their part in the building of the British Empire, but we cannot under any circumstances expiate the past by dwelling upon the past alone. We have to face the present situation and the future, and I think it would be wholly wrong—as it is very largely foolish —to spend our time looking at the methods by which the British Empire was acquired, and to disregard its economic and social effect on the people of this country. There are many of us—personally I know very little about the facts—on these benches who are alarmed at what is going on in Kenya. The difference between the economic conditions in East and West Africa is certainly very marked.
An hon. Member opposite gave us a. very interesting catalogue of figures of British exports to our Dominions and to foreign countries. I will give him these figures. Whereas last year we exported 12s. 4d. per head of the West African population of British goods, we were only able to export to the United States 9s. 2d. per head, That West African can be developed, but it will never be expanded by the methods which have been taken to rule our Protectorate of Kenya. Kenya is run on an entirely different basis. It is run on the old exploded methods of capitalism. In West Africa we had Sir Hugh Clifford and others who fought the capitalists and did their best to preserve the independent producers and stop economic exploitation and robbery of one kind and another. I have here a newspaper called the "East Africa," dated the 15th July, 1926. An article in it begins as follows:No economic necessity, other' than the trifling need of procuring his hut tax, compels a native to work. Consequently, one 2422 does not find amongst Kenya natives the discipline that is to be found among the lower classes of the white races"—British workers will take note of that—who have to work so that they may exist.That is an attitude of mind. I do not say that is the attitude of all white settlers, but it is an attitude of mind that this Parliament, so long as it is responsible for Kenya, must do everything it can to destroy, and to elevate instead the conditions that obtain in Uganda and the Gold Coast. They cannot prosper in Kenya under such conditions as are indicated. Other hon. Members, who have been there and who are more acquainted with the facts, will be able to speak on that question.
I rose merely to reinforce what I take to be the Socialist proposal regarding the British Empire, made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). As I take it, there are three ways in which we can bind this Empire together. There is the method favoured by so many hon. Gentlemen opposite and, indeed, by the Secretary of State for the Dominions himself, that is, the method of Imperial Preference by taxation. That means taxation of food for the British worker and the raising of prices to him. I believe it does raise prices I think I can prove it, but I do not want to go into a fiscal controversy now. The point is that industrial workers believe that taxation of imported food will raise the price of that imported food. If you proceed to bind your Empire together by beginning with the taxation of foodstuffs, you end by disintegrating the Empire. You will have the Empire made a thing of more than contempt and will create antagonism in the mind of the industrial worker of this country. From that point of view alone, I think it is a mistake to tax foodstuffs, and as you cannot have Imperial Preference unless you do so, it is a very bad policy.
There is another method advocated by the Member who spoke from these benches, and that is voluntary preference. I think that method will develop, and have a very big effect. But there is a method advocated by the right hon. Member for Derby which is now the official policy of this party, and that is bulk purchasing and distribution at the cheapest possible price to the people of this country. The present Secretary of State did not attempt in any way to dispute the 2423 figures given by the right hon. Member for Derby. We went in for bulk purchase in the War, and bought the wool crop and reduced the price of wool. [An HON. MEMBER: "It cost a lot of money!"] I could produce the OFFICIAL REPORT, showing a net profit to this country of £66,500,000, and there was actually handed back many millions of pounds to Australia for distribution. We reduced the price by 3½d. per lb., and we clothed the last 100,000 troops that went to the War cheaper than we clothed the first 100,000, and it was the first business of the capitalist Government after the War to scrap that efficient organisation and throw the wool-growers of Australia into the chaos of commercial competition. I do not think that that was doing a service to the British Empire.
Let me reinforce by one or two other figures what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby said. Sir Joseph Cook, the representative of the Australian Commonwealth Government in this country, made a statement in. the "Manchester Guardian Commercial Supplement," on the 20th April, 1924, that meat landed from Australia at an inclusive price to the Australian producer of 4⅞d., was being sold at 10d. and 1s. in London. And New Zealand stock arriving here is actually being sold to our people, 100 yards away from the London Docks, where it was landed, at 1s. 2d., 1s. 3d. and 1s. 4d. per lb. During the War the Government of Australia and New Zealand supplied it at 4⅛d. We know that the late Lord Kitchener, on being appealed to on behalf of certain institutions, put his accountants on the job, and they figured out that we could re-sell that meat to institutions in this country at 6½d. per lb. And they did. During the War there were institutions in London buying meat from the War Office at 6½ per lb., and all round about them the same meat was being re-sold at 1s. 6d., 1s. 8d., and 2s. per lb., according to the parts. I have a statement by the Leader of the Labour party in Australia, Mr. Charleton, to the effect that mutton produced in Australia at 2d. per lb, is being retailed in London at 1s. 2d. per lb. It arrives here at the price of 4d. and a fraction of a penny; our people have to pay, I believe, is. 2d., and the Australian producer lives on the bare edge, sometimes losing money, sometimes making a 2424 little, but always at the hazard of the market. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby has put forward a Socialist proposition. Let the British Government undertake to purchase the exportable surplus from the Dominions and retail it at cost price. No, says the right hon. Gentleman, we have not the public spirit now that we had during the War. Public spirit, to allow the British and Argentine Meat Company to make a profit of £500,000. How many hon. Members know that we actually had to pay £1,275,000 to the American Meat Trust, not for meat but in order to prevent the American Meat Trust from selling meat to Germany in the early stages of the War. We gave them the money for nothing.
Immediately the War was over, we scrapped the inter-Empire meat purchasing organisations and handed it over to Lord Vestey, who went to South America during the War in order to escape Income Tax, and then they gave him a peerage. There are some people who say you get the advantage of competition: but competition has gone; it is dead. You have rings everywhere, arrangements everywhere, price control everywhere. Eighty per cent. of the exports from Canada are controlled by the Wheat Pool. Seventy to 80 per cent. of the grain exports from South America are under the control of three firms, two Dutch and one French. I saw the right lion Gentleman the Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department here a moment ago. It is only a few weeks ago since the Imperial Markets Committee Report was published, and we were told that the grower in Jamaica gets a penny for every five bananas he has to sell. He has to sell them to an American shipping and banana-growing trust who control the whole trade. The Secretary for the Overseas Trade Department admitted that when he buys a banana in London he has to pay 2d. for it, while the poor grower gets only Id. for five. It is the same with apples. The late Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. A. V. Alexander) produced figures which were confirmed by the Wholesale Co-operative Society and His Majesty's Government, to show that rice which had arrived at the wholesale price of 13s. a hundredweight from Rangoon, is 2425 somehow controlled and is sold from 23s. 4d. to 56s. per hundredweight. The Australian grower gets 1d. for his apples, and at Wembley they were sold at. 6d., and in Tottenham Court Road they were on sale at 9d. Take any other food you choose and the same thing happens.
We are surrounded by capitalist rings and groups, some of them British, some mixed, some of them with no nationality. Some of them do not want to have a nationality. They are prepared to rob, plunder and bleed the British Empire or any other Empire, irrespective of the flag. Sooner or later, we must face the fact that, with the food supplies being in private hands, we are at the mercy of a robber gang. If the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies and the Government make up their minds that the way to bind the Empire is to ensure a guaranteed market to the Empire producers by offering, to purchase their exportable surplus and sell it at the cheapest price through the co-operative societies or any other organisation —if you like through the present trading organisations, giving them limited profits —and thus bringing down the prices, you will give to the working men and women in this country a share in the Empire, a reason for desiring to build up the Empire and extend it. It is a real League of Nations. The British Empire should be and can be a real guarantee for the peace of the world, and you will be able to spend far less money on munitions of war than you are doing just now. You will ensure peace, you will guarantee peace, you will bring more food, better food, cleaner food and greater prosperity to the people of this country.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) has made, as usual, a very interesting speech; and, if I may say so, it was a very able and powerful speech. I do not believe that a single one of his figures or any of his facts, so far as I know, can seriously be challenged. I only knew personally about one or two; for instance, about the Jamaica bananas; hut I am sure all the others are substantially accurate. They really do deserve the attention of the Colonial Office. The hon. Member for Dundee has taken a great deal of trouble to get the facts, and they should 2426 either be refuted or admitted and countered. I do not think it is possible to over-estimate the importance of the subject raised this afternoon by the right hon. Member for Derby. On the economic organisation of the Empire, I believe, the whole future of the country and of our working people depend, and it assumes a special significance in view of the Imperial Conference. I think it is worth while to have a look at the general world position in which this country finds itself. The first thing that strikes one is that, as a result of the War, the future economic ascendancy of any country or any organisation must lie with the big economic groups. Mass production has been steadily superseding small production by private firms as far as the heavy industries are concerned. Take the United States at the present time and compare them with Europe, and you will see the difference. You will find, in the one case, a large economic unit, with mash production, and the inevitable prosperity. You will find the other cut up into political divisions, and separated by tariff walls.
Anyone who went to the Inter-Parliamentary Conference at Washington must have had it made clear to him that Europe is beginning to wake up to the fact that it must form something in the nature of a Zollverein, and I believe a Zollverein will come, sooner or later, with Germany at the head of it. When it comes, we will be more up against it than ever, because Germany will have strenuously to compete with us in order to pay reparations. I think the outlook is dangerous so far as our heavy industries are concerned. We are unable to bargain with European States at the present time, owing to the fiscal system which this country has seen fit. to adopt. The attempts which have hitherto been made by the heavy industries in this country to co-operate and combine with those on the Continent have been vain, and, therefore, we are still more or less at their mercy. The argument we have to face with regard to a general lowering of the standard of living is a very vital one at the present time; and it has been appreciated by hon. Members opposite. It is a fact of great importance that these European countries work longer hours and have lower standards of living, and, other things being equal, 2427 they must cut us out unless we protect ourselves in some way or another. Neither Great Britain nor the Dominions can, in the present economic organisation of the world, act separately and stand up against these powerful economic organisations. Therefore, our minds must turn more and more to something in the nature of an Imperial Zollverein. We talk a lot about the Empire, but it is time we tried to study it in a more scientific way.
No one has really conducted a scientific investigation into the economic possibilities of the Empire, for instance the transport question. The present Prime Minister in a very remarkable speech he made, when leader of the Opposition, on Imperial Preference, urged the setting up of a committee of impartial, nonpolitical experts to study the whole question of the Imperial economic system. I do beg the Government to put down on the agenda of the Imperial Conference the whole question; and the possible formation of a really strong Imperial economic committee. The present committee is not strong enough and its terms of reference are inadequate in relation to the enormous functions it ought to perform. It might possibly be amalgamated with the Empire Marketing Board, to sit and advise His Majesty's Government as to the whole question of Imperial development and the best methods of State assistance, and to furnish our traders with statistics and other information relating to Empire markets. I do hope that this question will be specially considered at the Imperial Conference. I cannot help thinking that in certain respects the performance of the Government has been a little disappointing as far as Imperial development is concerned. Since December, 1924, with the exception of the passage through Parliament of such preferences as involve no new taxation at all, the Government has not taken any drastic action with regard to Imperial development. I listened to the speech of the Secretary of State with some satisfaction because I think he realises the importance of some of the recommendations of the Imperial Economic Committee. But some of us were anxious about the reception that its recommendations got in this House. There was one rather 2428 sinister episode in which instead of £1,000,000 the figure of £500,000 was suddenly put down in the Estimates, which gave offence to the Dominions, and has never been explained. A good deal of talk has gone on both inside the House and outside on the subject of migration, and it will be necessary indeed for this country in the course of the next few years. But remember that General Smuts said at the Conference in 1920 that you cannot fairly claim that the Dominions should take migrants from these islands and at the same time refuse to take the produce of the Dominions.
We must give the Dominions something in return if we are to send emigrants to them. Tariffs I know are ruled out at the moment, but I see no reason why the whole question of Imperial tariffs on a large scale should not be discussed. The case for an extensive preferential system will always break down so long as it is regarded purely as a political issue, but if you discuss it on economic grounds it becomes different. Dominion policy at the present time is one of imposing high tariff walls round each one of themselves, but it is a policy that will most certainly break down. Export trade is reduced and always will be reduced by a high tariff wall raised round an economic unit which is too small in relation to competing units. There are many indications of a move towards general inter-Imperial Free Trade. A revision in Dominion tariffs for Empire products will expand our markets and reduce unemployment. I do not therefore see why we should not be. prepared even to impose a tax on foodstuffs to divert them from abroad, as a quid pro quo. One of the obstacles to any system of tariffs or of import licences such as the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) suggested is the fact that we have treaties with certain foreign Powers, notably Greece, Spain and Germany. Some of them will shortly have to be renewed, and I think they ought to be reconsidered, and that it is worth while considering the whole question of inter-Imperial trade before we renew these treaties.
I have always been very interested in a policy almost analogous to that of bulk purchasing, to which the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) referred I call it a stabilisation policy. I think the Prime Minister at one period of his career flirted with the idea himself. He said: 2429We must try and see if it was not possible to enter into a scheme by which an enormous amount of the foodstuffs which we required from the Dominions could be obtained from them and distributed at cost price with the least possible margin, and urged that something of this kind should be thought out in order to obtain in exchange for it the free entry of our manufactured goods into those Dominions where they would not compete with their own.I think that sums up the whole position. The statement was made about April, 1924, during the Debate on the Budget of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) during the discussion on Imperial Preference. I cannot go into all the details of this idea of a stabilisation policy at present. I would urge hon. Members to read the speech of Mr. Bruce, the Australian Prime Minister, at the 1923 Imperial Conference. I will read from it one or two of the most pregnant sentences. He said that the stabilisation policy to which he referred appears to require for its true functioning some form of national reserves. He proposed under this system that the British product should be left entirely free and uncontrolled and the British farmer would be free to market his goods precisely as at the present time. But that foreign supplies should be controlled by a National Purchase Corporation for either wheat or meat, the corporation to buy from foreign countries the difference between what the British and Dominion producer could supply and the total requirements of the country. He elaborated the scheme at some length, and I have no doubt he will bring it before the Imperial Conference again in October. We must also consider the growth of producers' organisations in the Dominions. In New Zealand you have a Meat Export Control Board, a Dairy Export. Control Board, and a Fruit Export Control Board, all with statutory powers given them by the Government. In Australia a Dairy and Fruit Board, and in South Africa a Fruit Board. In Canada you have since 1923 the most phenomenal growth of wheat pools. The organisation on a large scale of Dominion producers has from time to time provoked an outburst of hostility in the British Press, but it has not had the slightest effect. These organisations have steadily grown and will grow. They have done a great deal of good to the producer in those countries. It is part of a world movement to which we shall have to conform 2430 whether we like it or not. It is a movement away from small competition and towards co-operation and combination as far as producers are concerned. We ought to do all we can to encourage it, because it is the only kind of Socialism that is worth having.
I agree with a lot of the things which the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) said on these questions. The Report of the Royal Commissions on Foodstuffs at paragraph 111 entertained the possibility of a milling combine in this country, as against a producers' combine in the foreign countries. If the milling combine ever came into existence and if it proved to be satisfactory, one might well suggest that it should be given statutory powers, perhaps in combination with the Food Council, to control imports of wheat and meat in the interests of the Empire. I urge the Secretary of State to put down also for consideration at the Imperial Conference the possibility of forming an Imperial pool the interest and capital of which might be guaranteed by the Imperial Governments and which would intervene at its discretion to steady prices on the lines suggested by Mr. Bruce. This question of the stabilisation of prices is going to be absolutely vital in the future. It is the one thing that producers and above all farmers must have. If we could steady prices we should have achieved perhaps more than anything else. The whole object is to create artificially a lag in economic changes to give time for the necessary adjustments to be made, and to eliminate temporary movements altogether. It is obviously a policy that ought to be forwarded by every possible means, and the best way to do it is by Imperial co-operation. I hope the currency question will also be considered at the Conference. At the last Conference the question of the issue of Imperial Treasury Bonds for discount in authorised banks throughout the Empire was favourably considered and it might be further considered. In the meantime I agree that we ought to go ahead as far as we can with the idea of voluntary preference as laid down by the Imperial Economic Committee.
In our own interest it is vital that the purchasing power of the Empire for manufactured goods should he increased, and this is entirely conditioned by 2431 markets. We have plenty of arguments on our side. It can be shown that the Dominions depend entirely on us for protection and defence. The Australian Navy and New Zealand Navy, as such, are not the slightest use; they make no sort of adequate grant to the British Exchequer in proportion to the amount of safety they receive. We have got a lever against them, and we can also say that we do our share of Imperial trade as well. For instance, in 1924–25 we took 44.10 per cent. of Australia's exports, the next largest purchaser taking only 10.43 per cent. We also supplied Australia with 45.20 per cent. of her imports. That is merely an example of the benefit both sides could derive from a careful development of inter-Imperial trade. I have not dealt with the constitutional issue. I believe the economic unity of the Empire is the necessary precursor of any form of diplomatic unity. It is no use having diplomatic unity if you have not economic unity, and I think any proposal for better constitutional relationships ought to come from the Dominions themselves.
A more effective system of Dominion representation in London must be achieved before long. We cannot afford to have a repetition of incidents such as were connected with the Lausanne Treaty, the recognition of Russia, or the Treaty of Locarno. Each one of these occasions gave great offence to the Dominions, but I must say that I think that the recognition of Russia by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, without even informing the Dominions, was about the worst thing that was done. We cannot go on like that. We must have somebody in London to consult with on matters of urgency.
In conclusion, I beg the Government to take up a policy of Imperial development with vigour and enthusiasm and to take this Conference in October very seriously. I think it would be a pity if, in our attempt to capture any available Liberals there are, we were to abandon ourselves to the triple policy of laissez faire, deflation, and rigid Free Trade. A horrible combination. I cannot see that it is going to get us out of our difficulties and, even if we run the risk of momentarily arresting the tramp of Liberal feet from the Opposition side to the Government Benches, it would be worth while to do 2432 so, rather than to accept the doctrine of the laissez faire school of the last century. The Prime Minister, not so very long ago, said that "Cheap goods make cheap men." That is a much more Tory doctrine and a much more sensible doctrine, and I could wish that the Government would take up that line of policy more vigorously. It seems to me that they run a grave danger of accepting all the Liberal doctrines and discarding all the real Tory doctrines. I hope the Prime Minister, who has the vision, will carry out a great constructive policy; I know of none more calculated to appeal to the imagination of the people of this country than Imperial development; and I do not know of any man better capable of formulating such a policy than the Secretary of State for the Dominions, if he is allowed to do it by his colleagues.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I wish to speak on a more practical subject, namely, the question of research. I do so all the more readily because I have spent 21 years of my life in the tropics and I have seen the results of the research undertaken in the Dutch East Indies. It is my opinion that if we were to get more into line with that work, especially in the Malaya States and the Strait Settlements, we should find that a great many of the problems which have to be faced in the Dutch East Indies are also our problems, and that joint investigations would be to our mutual benefit. I know at the present moment there are servants of our Colonial Office in the Dutch East Indies, unofficially, who are doing their best to get information and I believe if they were to take the matter up officially and exchange views with the Dutch representatives it would be advantageous. If they were even to do, as is done in connection with our educational system, and were to take one or two Dutch scientific men into our laboratories, while allowing some of our scientific men to go into their laboratories, beneficial work could be achieved.
In 1919, when I was in Java, I was interested in, among other things, sugar. We had a visit in Java from the Indian Sugar Committee on which were represented Indian sugar planters. Demerara sugar planters, Indian merchants and Indian Civil Servants. There was also one gentleman representing a very large sugar firm in London, whose works I happened to visit this morning. This 2433 Committee had visited practically all the sugar countries in the world and they spent a week at the port where I was situated. I had the honour of entertaining and putting up the majority of them and of conducting them around the sugar mills and experimental stations in that neighbourhood and this is what they said in their report:The organisation of the Indian sugar industry on the Java model is essential to progress.I suppose, like many other things, that Report has been filed and will not be taken much notice of in the future. Nevertheless, it represents the opinion of people with a great deal of experience who, at the Government's expense, travelled round the world to get the best information available. They also said:The commanding position which the Java sugar industry holds has been secured by admirable organisation for mutual assistance in all directions and above all in regard to research.It is essential, if we want to progress, that we should take every available step in scientific research and leave no stone unturned to get the very best advice and to make full use of the fruits of the latest scientific research. I hope if the Under-Secretary cannot at once do all I am suggesting, he will promise to give the matter his best consideration. Another reason why I suggest that there should be close co-operation, especially in the Malaya States, is because of the rubber position. That is another article in regard to which I have had a certain amount of experience. If the Straits Settlements considered it necessary at one time or another to curtail the output of rubber—so as to improve the price—more than they do under the present Stevenson scheme, what advantage is it to them, if the Dutch East Indies say: "What they curtail we will plant"?
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
It is evident the hon. Member has never been out in those parts, and does not know much about it.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I am glad to hear it. I have just mentioned that I spent 21 years of my life there, and, therefore, I 2434 ought to know a certain amount about these matters. It is advisable, as I say, that in such matters we ought to get into closer co-operation with our friends there and we should be able to make arrangements which would be suitable and advantageous to both countries. On the medical side, research is very necessary indeed. We have heard to-night from the Opposition a certain amount about the hardships which are endured by the natives and about the fact that these countries are to a great extent opened up on behalf of, and for the benefit of a European population. My experience is that where a country is opened up it is to the benefit of the native population as well as to the benefit of the European settlers. It is undoubtedly necessary, however, that if we do go into these parts and employ natives, we should see to their welfare in every respect. In the Dutch East Indies every large estate has a hospital, which gets a certain grant from the Government on condition that they also look after the natives in the neighbouring districts, although they do not belong to their estate. We have there a very great and very good system organised by such bodies as the Salvation Army. They have a leper colony, they have an eye hospital, and they have various other very excellent organisations. The medical missionaries do a very good work indeed out there, and I should like to see such things developed more and more in our own Colonies.
I do not wish to say very much on the question of emigration, because it has been so fully touched upon to-night, but I would like to endorse what has been said from all sides that, whereas 99 out of every 100 of us believe that emigration is a very important thing and a very advantageous thing, both for those who go out and for the countries to which they go, it should be made a great deal easier for those who wish to go. At the present time, if people in our constituencies or elsewhere wish to emigrate to Australia or Canada, it takes them a week of Sundays to find out how they are to start about it. Eventually, they arrive at the office to which they have been sent to get the necessary information, and they are put in touch with the authorities who will send them out; but even there it is not finished, because even healthy people, 2435 who, it would seem, are just the type of people the Colonies would like, have difficulties there again. I would like to impress upon the Colonial Office that they should take every step to try to make this emigration easier, with easier means of access to information as to how to go, and, when they have that information and have shown they are fit subjects, that they should be able to get out of the country as quickly as possible.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
There are one or two points that I should like to bring to the notice of the House. The first one is a matter which I have taken the opportunity of raising in the House by way of question and answer on various occasions during the last three or four years, and that is the question, that has long awaited settlement, of the pensions of officers transferred from West Africa to East Africa, and vice versa. The Under-Secretary of State, I believe, is fully aware of the urgency of a settlement of this long-outstanding question. I realise that there are considerable financial difficulties in the way of a settlement that would be fair to all the Colonies concerned, who have to contribute in varying proportions to the pensions of officers who are transferred from one Colony to another, but I would urge that the difficulties are not such that they cannot be overcome. If these Colonial services are regarded as a whole, there is no reason why, with the aid of the Treasury, something in the nature of a clearing house or pool might not be formed, which would get away with these difficulties, and prevent us seeing the very great hardships which occur. A man has served, we will say, half the period of his service in one Colony on £500 a year, and then has been promoted and has served a few years or more on £1,000 a year in another Colony. He is not pensioned on the pay of his retiring post, but he is pensioned as regards, we will say, twenty-sixtieths on £500 and as regards ten-sixtieths on £1,000. It does not need any argument to show how unfairly that works out, that when a man gets promoted he is actually penalised in his pension. I urge on the Under-Secretary to do all that he can to see that a settlement of this matter is reached, if possible, during the existence of the present Government.
2436 There is one other matter, on which I should like to ask a question. I believe the hon. Gentleman undertook, when he was going on his recent tour to West Africa, to look into the working of the Assessors' Ordinance at Sierra Leone. That is a matter which has given seine cause for anxiety. It was brought up before the Labour Government, I believe, on the first occasion by the members practising at the Bar at Sierra Leone and I would ask the hon. Gentleman not to forget to include seine reference to it in his forthcoming Report, to which we are all eagerly looking forward. There is one other matter, and that is the land question in Southern Rhodesia. I believe that is under consideration at the present moment, and I should like to ask the Under-Secretary whether it is considered that the 8,000,000 acres that are to be set aside for the natives form a sufficient area of ground, having regard to the population? With regard to the other number of acres, which it is recommended should be held "in reserve" for future arrangement, as between white settlers and native settlers taking up fresh areas of land, is it intended that that reserve area should be put in charge of a trust so as to be quite sure that too great an area of land is not alienated to the white settlers, thereby leaving the natives of the country in a less favourable position than that in which they might otherwise be placed?
The hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell), I think it was, emphasised, and rightly emphasised, the very great importance of keeping the African, and particularly the Bantu African, on the land. It is the most dangerous thing that cam be done to separate the Bantu African from the land, and when we are making arrangements for the future distribution of land, such as is being done now in Southern Rhodesia, it is, to my mind, of the greatest importance that we should take the very longest view of the whole matter and see that, as far as we can, arrangements arc made which will allow a sufficient expansion of the African on his own native soil in that colony.
§ Sir GERALD STRICKLAND
I wish to say a few words in support of the plea put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) in reference to the pensions 2437 of Colonial officials whose time has to be reckoned in several Colonies. I, myself, am in receipt of two Colonial pensions, and I labour under no disadvantage; the Colonial Office have already remedied the grievance of break of service with reference to Governors and some higher officials. Therefore, it is but a step to establish the same adjustments for the junior members of the service. The point an which I labour under a. great disadvantage is that having worked for 40 years in the overseas Empire, my experience is likely to make my views unwelcome to the younger school of thought on the Treasury Bench.
A few days ago a question was asked in this House regarding Bolshevik propaganda m the Crown Colonies. I can assure this House, from personal experience, that the apprehensions as to the dangers of such propaganda are well-founded; and I view with great apprehension the light-heartedness with which anti-British propaganda is held by those who should be more jealous custodians of the British Empire's trade and prosperity and of attacks against British prestige in every corner of the world. Recently a great meeting was held in the Albert Hall to consider what steps should be taken to check anti-British propaganda in this country and then more than 100 Conservative Members supported that request for stronger action. I hope 100 more hon. Members from the Labour side will be added to the 100 Conservatives in support of the view I am submitting to this House, the view that the supineness and the shortsightedness of the policy adopted by the Colonial 'Office in dealing with Communistic or Fascistic propaganda in our Colonies calls for the turning over of a new leaf. It ought to receive more attention than it is receiving at present. The obvious antidote to this kind of propaganda is British counter-propaganda. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable and regrettable fact that such counter-propaganda has not been initiated by Imperial officials. What is worse it is not being encouraged, and in parts of the Empire which are under the influence and control of the Colonial Office it is being discouraged and our prospective enemies are comforted.
We remember the parallel of Ireland, where systematic propaganda against everything British was ignored for years 2438 and the enemies of everything English were pandered to, with the result that Ireland is no longer a part of the United Kingdom. This criticism of responsibility of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, which requires circumspection whenever there is an approach to a reference to a fully self-governing Dominion such as Ireland, but there are other portions of the Empire that are not fully self-governing, and there are other portions of the Empire which are described as being administered under a diarchical system. With reference to Ministerial responsibility in this House under that system, there are important constitutional questions which desire to be cleared up in this House by reference to practical experience in the working of constitutions, diarchical and otherwise. We had a brilliant and commendable example set in this House by the Under-Secretary of State for India when introducing the Indian Estimates, in so far as he not only gave, but offered, a wide scope in this House for the discussion of certain questions under the Government of India notwithstanding that India is a diarchy. It is necessary that there should be a line of demarcation between the subjects which are reserved and those which are not. It is equally obvious that if there are portions of the Empire which are not fully self-governing, they must, be treated as diarchical, and the Colonial Office must be responsible to this House for all or any of the reserved subjects.
The Speaker of the Northern Parliament of Ireland and three other Members of that Parliament sit in this House; they are not thereby precluded from giving their attention to the affairs of every portion of the Empire where there has been lack of efficient control by responsible Ministers in this House provided such subjects are "reserved "to the paramount Parliament. The recent ruling of Mr. Speaker on a point raised by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) threw a new and important flood of light upon the constitutional position when reserved subjects are discussed. I understood Mr. Speaker to say that the point, whether a question was a "reserved subject" or not was not always a matter for the Speaker to decide, it had often to be decided by the responsible Minister of the Crown, and should not be left to the Speaker 2439 who may not have the material information necessary to decide. As a further important point, and a fundamental constitutional question—may I submit as one who has studied the constitutional questions almost uninterruptedly for 40 years that such responsibility rests necessarily on the Minister responsible to the Crown.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
I am not quite clear how the hon. Member connects this constitutional question with the Minister. Anything that may be discussed on the Estimates may be discussed on this Bill, but the fundamental condition is that there must be some Minister responsible for the administration of that particular subject. It strikes me that the hon. Member is going into purely constitutional questions which do not come within the province of any Minister of the Crown.
§ Sir G. STRICKLAND
I am coming to that point, in fact. I had just come to it, when you, Mr. Speaker, drew attention that my preface was rather too long in leading to the point I wished to raise. The point to which I desire to come without further illustration is that debate is permissible with reference to the reserved subjects and shortcomings for which Ministers of the Crown here are responsible to this House on such grievances are open to criticism from the point of view that they, and they alone, can assume the consequences of deciding what questions are reserved and what questions are not reserved. Ministers are subject to censure in this House if they decide wrongly. Of these reserved subjects—and I shall be careful not to bring before this House any subject which is not reserved—there is one which is not only a reserved subject but which has been admitted to be such, so much so that it has been brought before this House several times without exception being taken to it, and has also been brought before the Law Officers of the Crown. I refer to the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies with regard to the safeguarding of constitutional rights, and to the working of the Constitution in Malta. This applies to a Dominion, in regard to those functions which are specifically reserved in Constitution Acts 2440 depending an the authority of the Crown acting independently of a local Legislature. The question to which I desire to refer as having often been before this House is the fact that the Constitution of Malta cannot be altered except by a two-thirds majority, and if it is altered—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If a matter is beyond the power of the Minister to change, the hon. Member will not be in order in criticising him upon it, and I take it that, with regard to Malta, the Minister cannot really change that feature in the Constitution of Malta.
§ Sir G. STRICKLAND
If you will allow me, Sir, I will deal at once with a point for which the Secretary of State is responsible. The point has been before this House already, namely, that if a Constitution Bill has been passed, but not by a two-thirds majority, it cannot become an Act; meanwhile the old law is in suspense. The Law Officers of the Crown, upon a request made to this House, considered that question, and decided that the Constitution had to be upheld, and that the steps taken to upset it were inadequate. Obedience to that finding is a point that is within the competence of my right hon. Friend because it is his duty to ensure the upholding of the Constitution.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member must come to what is concrete. He can criticise the Colonial Secretary for having taken, or for not having taken, certain action, but he is not entitled to discuss the general relations, which are settled by Statute, between Malta, or any other Government of the Empire, and the Colonial Office.
§ Sir G. STRICKLAND
It is my right hon. Friend I propose, to criticise, and I take it that I am in order in doing that. What I wish to submit to the House is his support of an attempt, which has been reported to this House, to suspend a Clause of the Constitution of Malta, for which allowing this to continue, my right hon. Friend is responsible.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Is it a matter for the Colonial Secretary? If so, he is open to criticism, but if it follows from the ordinary working of the Maltese Constitution, that would involve legislation, and does not depend upon the action of the Colonial Secretary.
§ Sir G. STRICKLAND
I respectfully submit to you, Sir, that I am criticising a matter of administration that does depend on the inaction of the Colonial Secretary. Moreover, certain matters of fact were stated by me as of personal knowledge in this House, upon which the Colonial Secretary made a denial in this House on the information he had then received; and later as to the same facts the Under-Secretary had subsequently to acknowledge that my version of the case could not be denied. I think I am entitled to refer to the responsibility for contradictory statements made in this House by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Under-Secretary about a matter which is certainly a reserved matter and within the competence of this House and to the suspension of the Constitution in connection therewith.
The supineness of the Colonial Department in counteracting anti-British propaganda in a portion of the Empire, is illustrated by this dealing with the Malta Constitution Trade Union Bill. In those portions of the Empire where vast military and naval interests are at stake sympathy should be the other way. The policy of seeing nothing, doing nothing and submitting to snubs and injury time after time, may have a diplomatic value —it may induce our rivals, or possible rivals, to be apparently quiescent, and thus create the appearance of give and take in other portions of the Empire, as, for instance; in Mosul and elsewhere—but it discourages and breaks down the loyal section of the community in any Dependency or great fortress and this Empire may have to stand on the support of the loyalists when the testing time comes in another great war. It is not by the policy of discouragement to-day that active loyalty can be established for the needs of to-morrow, but by the uninterrupted encouragement of those who are British in their sentiments, in their interests, in their objectives, and in their determination to induce others to do the best they can for the British cause at all costs. There has been a singular absence of that sympathy with the loyalists in the great Imperial fortress of Malta with which I am connected. I wish to refer to another feature of Colonial administration, which has a general aspect. This House has, on several occasions in the past, criticised the want of support of 2442 the representatives of the Central Government of Imperial officials working outside for England, have often been thrown over. There was the very regrettable case of General Dyer at Amritsar. I feel that those who supported his action and criticised the Government Department—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That is a matter of history, and no question arises in connection with it on the Estimates of the present year.
§ Sir G. STRICKLAND
With all respect, I suggested that as an example. I myself, as a Governor—and this does refer to the Colonial Department—have been repeatedly corrected and criticised, and, if I had not been corrected and criticised, and if I had not profited thereby, during my first Governorship, I should not have held a second, a third and a fourth. The policy of not giving admonitions to people in authority, or the policy of people in authority being reluctant to receive them, has resulted in a swing of the pendulum the opposite of the very regrettable policy that was pursued in the Amritsar case I have just mentioned; we now observe the contrary policy, that of supporting the man on the spot, right or wrong. That policy, in my opinion, is demoralising to all concerned. I need not refer to any one Colony. We have also instances in Jamaica and in Cyprus, which, at least, are so notorious that no one can possibly gainsay them. I believe that if our Empire is to progress on the old lines that built it up, there must be strict discipline, and it must not be thought that if persons have a high position, special social influence and so forth, they can do anything they like differently from the ordinary Colonial official in carrying out the duties of government.
I wish to refer to other points in connection with the Imperial Service, as they were presented to me in Australia, and I think some important advance in organisation can be suggested. There are at present members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council who have been made full members of that body in recognition of the services they have rendered to the Empire in high judicial posts in Canada, South Africa or Australia. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a most important constitutional link between the outer Dominions 2443 and the Crown, and I feel strongly that that link should be developed and made more substantial and practical. It is now, in fact, almost impracticable for a member of the Judicial Committee living in Australia to come and exercise his rights and privileges as a member by reason of the distance and the expense. There was a case when one of the Judges from Australia went on leave on half-pay in order to sit on the Judicial Committee de facto. From the point of view of a great Imperial organisation, it is not becoming to give a privilege or a right which cannot be exercised. It is illusory; it is not complimentary. Something should be done to make it less illusory—it has already happened in one case, that of a Chief Justice for South Africa who sat frequently on the Committee, but that was an exception. The system does not work. Additional force would be given to the unity of the Empire if some leading Judges from the Dominions were sitting on the Judicial Committee permanently and regularly. We should have a better link with the luminaries of the Bar of Canada, South Africa, Australia or from wherever it might be, This would be of great value, because these high dignitaries early with them a vast amount inexperience, of political influence, and they command general respect.
I agree with the last speaker on the other side, who pointed out that the unity of the Empire at present had better be sought for on commercial lines, and that we should not be in too great a hurry to push the unification of the Empire on political lines or by constitutional enactments. I spent many years in studying methods of approaching the problem of unification on constitutional lines, and can only suggest small steps, although I have been in contact with leaders who have made constitutions and with those who made the Commonwealth of Australia. I wish to say that the next step to approach a solution of the problem is to strengthen the present constitutional position of the Privy Council in relation to Colonies and Dominions. The Privy Council is a constitutional body which is already in existence. It requires no new legislation to develop its usefulness. It is easy to modify and expand it, and every statesman understands its 2444 powers. My suggestion is that at the next Imperial Conference my right hon. Friend should approach the Premiers of the Dominions with the suggestion that the Empire acknowledges that more unity could be established by strengthening the Judicial Committee than, say, by maintaining a third-class cruiser or a gunboat costing tens of thousands of pounds a year—not that I wish to say anything to detract from the Navy; I rather would have the Income Tax increased than diminish the Navy by a single ship or a single man. But it is so important not to offer our Colonies empty compliments and honours that cannot be enjoyed that it should be made possible for the leading Judges of the Dominions who are members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to come to London and sit there in turn. That can only be done by paying them. Of course, the great Dominions would, on reflection, pay them themselves, after the question is put before them; but in order that all parties may have time to understand the importance of this development, we should begin by offering to pay for the reform ourselves.
Another point is the selection and appointment of Governors. It is not complimentary to the great Dominions that they should be made a dumping ground for politicians. The office is a very delicate and complicated one. The Australians, the South Africans and the New Zealanders have approached the frame of mind that they want to get value for their money, so much so that they are reluctant to keep a Governor, or have him promoted, unless he spends about as much again as they paid him. It is obvious that that system has become ridiculous. The Colonial Service, under competitive examination, no longer furnishes recruiting ground for that purpose; the enormous increase of gubernatorial expenses continues, but the salaries remain much as they were more than a generation ago. It is, therefore, impossible to fill those posts from the Colonial Service, but the Service is one of the best, and if the Service were divided into two categories, one branch of officials who have expectations of promotion up to the point of becoming Colonial Secretaries and stopping there, and another branch of men who are willing and able, financially and socially, to begin as administrators, say, in the West Indian Islands or as Colonial Secretaries, and 2445 have the prospect to work up to be Governors, you would have an end to the present condition of affairs, which is so heartbreaking and deplorable, and has resulted in five of the six Australian States asking for the abolition of State Governors.
My hon. Friends on this side of the House are always decrying the sweating system. There is no more sweated industry than the Governor business, except, perhaps, that of being Secretary of State on a salary established in generations past. I think it is a reproach to modern democracy and to the Labour party that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the manager of this great Empire and one who for ability and industry has not been excelled in recent memory, should be paid by this country at a sum which would be scorned by a manager of a department store in London. I do not suggest a specific remedy for this state of affairs, I cite it as a parallel ease, and, for the sake of argument, to show that the present system of inadequately remunerating Representatives of the King is absolutely unworkable, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will put the dilemma frankly and plainly before the Imperial Conference and before the representatives of the Australian Government. They are fair and practicable.
I will refer, in conclusion, to the question of the invitation to the Colonial Conferences of persons connected with and belonging to the opposition in the various Dominions. I remember a despatch submitting the desirability of this step to the Colonial Department when I was serving it in Australia. The reason for the suggestion is this: The interest taken in Imperial affairs in Australia is naturally and inevitably almost limited to the class which has travelled, and to the class which has education above the average. The majority of the people cannot be expected to give their mind to outside questions with which they are not directly acquainted or financial interested, especially in a country so sparsely populated as Australia. It is no reproach to the Australians to say this. I remember during the War a Westmorland squire going up to a farmer, who said, "Do you not know that a great battle was fought yesterday? Do you not know that a War is on?" said the squire, and the 2446 farmer said, "No. I hope they have fine weather." If this want of interest happened in England, the same may be understood of Australia. All Imperial questions in Australia should be taken out of the ambit of party politics, and in order to do that some method should be discovered for making it possible to invite the representatives of the opposition to the Conference without offending in the least the Government themselves. It is undeniable that the Colonial Conference should be composed essentially of the governing Ministers. That is the principle on which such conferences are based, and it must be respected.
An important phrase was used with reference to the question of Imperial expansion by the Secretary of State at the annual meeting of the Empire Parliamentary Association. It was inspiring when he pointed out that future gatherings here in London by the Empire Parliamentary Association of the leading statesmen of all shades of opinion from the various Dominions gave us hope that we had therein the nucleus of a Parliament of the Empire—so far an embryonic conception, but in truth a brilliant idea. Meanwhile a step is possible on a precedent of the first Colonial Conference of 1887, and I think I am the one alive who was a member at that Conference. I represented a Crown Colony myself, and others were invited only to the first meeting. We were told that if we were wanted again we should be asked again. So be it with representatives of Dominion Oppositions; that the representatives of the opposition in the Colonies could also be invited to the first meeting and to many of the social and other gatherings and to any meeting which do not technically require the sole, presence and sole decision by vote of responsible Ministers of the Governments themselves. It is a very practical suggestion, and the importance lies in this. In this country the leisured class is very large and there is no difficulty in finding persons to represent constituencies in this country. But those who have the leisure and knowledge of politics and the time to take part in these discussions in the overseas Empire are few. At every election a certain number are knocked out, and good men are a real loss to a young country. I conclude by hoping that these 2447 suggestions may be considered as coming from one who has made a life study of many of these questions.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
What a lot of propaganda we have had to-day!—Imperial propaganda, and very efficient propaganda. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Sir G. Strickland) urges Imperial propaganda against Bolshevism, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite suggests propaganda in favour of buying British goods. I wonder whether many hon. Members on this side of the House when they welcomed with joy the expenditure of £1,000,000 a year on Imperial marketing, realised on what it was going to be spent. Propaganda! There was an idea that it was going to be used to buy goods in the Colonies cheap and sell them to the people in this country on terms which the consumer would appreciate. Not a bit of it. That is Socialism. No! Half a million pounds this year is to go on propaganda, except one little bit which is to be spent on research. I understand there is to be research, paid for, as to the best method of transporting meat by cold storage. Who will get the benefit of that expenditure on research? I notice Mr. Robert Joyce, the Queensland Commercial Commissioner, put it in this way:On the Empire's consumption in one year there was a difference between the prices paid to the grower and the prices paid by the consumer of £156,000,000—equal to 7d. per 1b. Where does the difference go? Vestey's will get the biggest share of it.Vestey's will get the benefit of the expenditure of all that part of this £500,000 which is spent on research into methods by which Mr. Vestey can get his goods here more cheaply. I cannot help thinking the British Empire had better get away from propaganda and get back to honest, hard work. It was not propaganda that made the British Empire; and propaganda, whether anti-Bolshevist or pro-British—
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
—or in favour of our magnificent system of selecting Governors, is not likely to preserve that Empire. I have in my hand a far better example of how the Empire can be preserved, and that is a report by three 2448 settlers of distinction in Southern Rhodesia on the land problem in Rhodesia, and their suggestions for the settlement of that problem. This report, by Mr. Maurice Carter, Sir Herbert Taylor, and another settler, is an admirable example of how all thinking men in this House would like to see our Dominions approach the question of native land and native labour. [Interruption.] No, it is merely an appreciation of the fact that the Englishman in the Dominions has responsibilities to the natives in addition to the desire to get their labour cheaply. I hope hon. Members will read this report. In reading it myself I felt it afforded some consolation for the fact that Southern Rhodesia is an independent Dominion and has not amalgamated with the Union further South. [Interruption.] Southern Rhodesia is as independent as any Dominion. While congratulating those gentlemen on the tone of that report, I want the House to understand the position in Southern Rhodesia, because it is typical of similar problems in all the other countries over which we rule from this House. In Southern Rhodesia 31,000,000 acres have been alienated to whites, 22,000,000 acres are reserved for the natives, and 43,000,000 acres, roughly, have so far not been sold, been alienated at all. The Commission quite fairly state:There is no fear that there is not sufficient land for whites in Rhodesia.In accordance with instructions from the Colonial Office, they proceeded to discuss how the unalienated lands which are still available for distribution are to be distributed between the whites and the blacks. They all agree, and I think their arguments are pretty conclusive, that it is desirable and necessary to segregate the areas, to keep the blacks in certain areas and the whites in certain other areas, so far as the ownership of land is concerned. I was hostile to that idea, but I am bound to say that the Report has convinced me that it is a sound proposition. But when it comes to deciding how the unappropriated lands are to be distributed between the areas where the whites can purchase and the areas where the natives can purchase, then I think strong criticism can he made of the allotment they make of the land. They suggest, in addition to the 31,000,000 acres already alienated to 2449 the whites, 17,000,000 acres of the unalienated should go to them; that in addition to their 22,000,000 acres the natives should have another 7,000,000 acres out of the unalienated; that 1,000,000 acres, roughly, should be neutral territory where either blacks or whites might purchase land; and that 18,000,000 acres should still be unalienated.
I want to press upon the Government that they ought to accept the Report of that Commission, the Majority Report, ought to go further and reserve those 18,000,000 unalienated acres as a trust for the natives in the future. Nearly all the territory is in the far North-West, where no white man is and not many natives; but as the native population increases they will require that land, and now is the last opportunity we have for saving that land for them. There are only 40,000 whites in Southern Rhodesia, and they are to have 48,000,000 acres; and it is hardly sufficient for the 800,000 natives to let them have only 8,000,000 acres. The proportion is not fair; least of all is it fair when we remember that up to now every native in Southern Rhodesia has the legal right to purchase land. We are depriving natives of that legal right to purchase land anywhere, and I think we might allot them an area of rather more than 8,000,000 acres where they can buy land for themselves and become satisfactory producers.
There are two other points in the Report to which I will call attention. I am not satisfied that it is desirable to remove all natives from white areas. I think that process, if desirable, must be done very slowly. There must be no Masai evictions, either on a large or small scale. Then I would urge the Secretary of State to say that alien natives not resident in Southern Rhodesia have exactly the same rights as to the purchase of land as natives of that country themselves. The Commissioners, in their Report, are rather against the rights of alien natives. I think it should be a black man's country, whether they be resident in Southern Rhodesia or outside; in Southern Rhodesia we should have a refuge to which natives can come and where they can settle, because their settlement on this territory as workers will add to the properity of the country, increase the labour force, and lead to an 2450 opportunity for every black man in the black part of Southern Rhodesia. The important thing is to have the area for black purchasers large enough, and I do not think 8,000,000 acres are enough. We can make that question safe if the unalienated land is kept in trust by the Crown, and I hope the Colonial Secretary, when he comes within the next week or two to a settlement of this question, will watch that issue and try to preserve the rights not merely of the natives who are there to-day but of the millions of natives yet to be born.
Passing from Southern Rhodesia, let me congratulate the Under-Secretary on his tour on the West Coast. I am bound to say that, looking back upon the unfortunate results of his tour to the East Coast, I viewed with some alarm his tour on the West Coast.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Will the hon. and gallant Member let me explain? Was my tour unfortunate because I had a Labour colleague—
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
You were unfortunate in your companions, no doubt; but, I do not think you yourself were a good bear leader. While it is true we have to wait for a report in detail on the tour on the West Coast, on the main question the hon. Gentleman has proved himself to have a backbone comparable to that of Sir Hugh Clifford, who was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston). On the West Coast of Africa we have got everywhere native producers producing for themselves for our markets. It has had remarkable results in the increase of exports and imports in that country, and it is a magnificent example to the rest of the world and other colonising nations of what England can do to develop the economic independence of the native races. I was naturally afraid that the urgent recommendations of the commercial interests should persuade the hon. and gallant Gentleman to spoil this magnificent example by importing to the West Coast the plantation system which has been the curse of our East African Colonies. He has not done that. He 2451 has reserved the land of Nigeria and the Gold Coast for the people of Nigeria and the Gold Coast. He is still sticking on the West Coast, I understand, and I hope he will confirm it, to the principle of by the blacks, for the blacks and producing for our market. That is an admirable thing, and I hope we shall have it confirmed when he speaks. But the battle is a very stiff one when you have great commercial magnates in this country going on a tour of inspection and urging that the principal business of the British Government and the Colonial Administration is to get black workers to work far white masters by the best means that economics and the power of taxation have placed in their hands.
I pass from West Africa, where all is healthy, to the East Coast where the right hon. Gentleman has recently been on an unfortunate tour and the picture there, I am afraid, is not quite so cheerful. The position there has gone from bad to worse. I do not mean that exports and imports have gone down. They have gone up all right but the position as far as the native is concerned is worse to-day than it was a year ago. You have now the increased severity of the penal laws. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman could not possibly help giving assent to that extraordinary law of the death sentence for rape, but I am afraid we must take that law in conjunction with that unfortunate article I saw the day before yesterday in the "Times" from their correspondent in East Africa, all directed towards stiffening up Government action against the natives. We must combine that with the new compulsory military service which, when you examine it means the issue to all whites of rifles and ammunition but not to the natives or the Indians. When we are told that this is for use against the tribes in Abyssinia I beg leave to doubt whether this is an accurate solution.
Then there is segregation. We were told last year that this was to be the one thing won by the natives as a result of the long struggle and that there would be no segregation. Quite recently we find that there has been a sale of land at Mombasa, a segregation of land and a limitation of the sale to Europeans alone which is authorised and apparently instigated by the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The reply given to the right hon. Gentleman was that this was not a Government action, but that the particular plots of land were sold under restricted covenants entered into some time ago and which we had not the legal power to upset without special ordinances.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
This was Government land which has just been sold in Mombasa and not in Nairobi, and I cannot conceive after the statement made by the Government last year as to their determination to prevent the starting of this policy in Mombasa, why this should have been authorised as we learn from telegrams sent from Mombasa.
Then there is the Feetham inquiry. We are given to understand that this inquiry is related only to a discussion of self-government of the Nairobi municipality. I am afraid my correspondents in East Africa may have some justification for fearing it may go a. little bit further than local self-government. In regard to native reserves, last year we were promised that these should be definitely fixed, and then were find that the native reserves are fixed by the legislation of the Kenya Parliament, legislation which can be reversed directly the Colonial Office ceases to control a majority in that Parliament.. We see there, probably, the most pronounced pro-settler Government we have ever had in East Africa up to now. All these are rather an indication that the position is getting worse for the native and not better. I do not feel there is very much hope from the right hon. Gentleman opposite or from his administration. They are not in a position to stand up to the settler. Do not let us shut our eyes to the fact that these 2000 settlers and planters in Kenya may be extremely powerful persons. The position of the natives in Kenya is, probably, more unhappy than that of the natives anywhere else in Africa to-day. I do not mean that these natives are more miserable, wretched or poor, but they are just sufficiently educated to see they are being robbed and to see that they have got no friends, and that what friends they have have been snatched, first Harry Thuku and then Ainsworth, and the next victim will be Maxwell.
2453 It is on these occasions that we and the natives of Kenya miss more than anyone else the late Mr. E. D. Morel. If he had been still living there would have been some hope. As it is I feel hopeless as to the situation of the natives in Kenya.
II this is the very reason why we should preserve Tanganyika from being swallowed up by Kenya. In Tanganyika we have, at any rate, a free population, owning their own land and holding their own land and producing from that land. Do not let us see that there, too, we have the planter insinuated into the native system of cultivation, and using all the threats of economic pressure, used in Kenya, to secure labour.
I would draw the attention of the House to these things. We hear very much about Kenya, but we do not hear so much about Tanganyika or Uganda. And yet the exports of native produce from Tanganyika are far larger than the exports of native produce from Kenya That is because they are allowed to produce freely from their own land. The export of native produce from Uganda is probably, though we have no exact figures, more than double that from Kenya. Those are eloquent facts as proving that just that principle of self- production which has made West Africa successful can be successful on the East Coast if given a chance. We have only just started in Tanganyika after those many years of war, and already, by effecting a system of native ownership of land and allowing him to be free to produce from his own property, the exports are larger than those of Kenya and are going ahead at a much quicker rate. I think the trade of this country stands to benefit far more by the native production of the Africans themselves than by any other form of their labour. For every pound's worth of goods they export—the whole of the £3,000,000 exported by the natives of Tanganyika last year—means £3,000,000 worth of exports from this country to Tanganyika, and I am not surprised at those extra ordinary figures quoted by the hon. Member for Dundee. The native of the Gold Coast consumes 12s. 4d. worth of British goods per head, which is more than the native of any other part of the world consumes of British goods. Let us 2454 see to it that we build up in Tanganyika and Kenya a similar body of natives who will be consumers of British goods.
I come to the same point of criticism of the right hon. Gentleman that was raised by the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). I want to know why he put an end to the Commission of inquiry into land in our East African Colonies. Did he think that it was unimportant? What was the reason? Were the interests too strong for him? It is a remarkable fact that three years ago he set up a committee in the Colonial Office to establish the land law of Tanganyika. He did it admirably. The solution that he found was, to my mind, an admirable solution for preserving native rights and native production. At that time he was going immediately to take another step for the formulation of a similar law for Northern Rhodesia. That was three years ago. There has been an interim since, and he has not started it yet. I am afraid that until we get this committee going we shall never get started in Northern Rhodesia the same principle that we have adopted in Nigeria and Tanganyika. Every year that goes by makes it more difficult to start, because you get more and more vested interests built up, spoiling your scheme and making it unworkable.
I notice that the Report of the Schuster Committee, which considered the question of roads and railways in Nyasaland, came to the conclusion that it was impracticable to go on with any of these schemes until the land question was first settled. They stated that in order to rescue the country, that is, Nyasaland, from its present state of comparative stagnation, there must be improved methods of native agriculture, and that this implieda land policy which will create security of tenure and the inducement to adopt methods of good farming.What are the Government going to do about that? Are they going to establish a sound land system in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland? Are they going to re-establish this Committee, which ought to have been at work during the last two years thinking out these problems? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that to-day a new problem is emerging in Uganda? We have the plantation policy there that we have in Kenya, where the plantations are owned, 2455 run and managed by native chiefs. That is exactly the same policy as in Kenya. This plantation policy is producing exactly the same results in the Kingdom of Uganda as it has produced in Kenya. We are receiving complaints daily from Uganda as to the methods used by the chiefs to force labour on to the plantations. I know the pressure that is brought to bear upon the Colonial Office to increase cotton production within the Empire, and that it always produces a cheer on these benches. I wish some hon. Members who cheer would think of the conditions under which the cotton is produced.
Now is the time when the right hon. Gentleman ought to be instituting inquiries in Uganda as to the best methods of breaking clown a system which has involved the British Empire and our good name in the re-establishment of slavery. The Governor there comes from the West Coast, I think, and he has the right traditions in him. If the Government will only instigate a reform of the land laws in Uganda, they might yet save the natives in those territories from all the exploitation and the cruelty of the plantation system. Wherever you go, whether it be in Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Kenya or Uganda, it is the land question that decides the economic development of the country. If, as I believe, the right hon. Gentleman is earnestly determined to secure for all time the liberty of the natives of these countries, economically; if he does approve, as I believe he does, of the principle of the West Coast, of self-cultivation, I beg him at the earliest possible moment to re-establish this Land Committee, which was established by the Labour Government when they were in office and wiped out when he came into office, and let us, at any rate, start solving problems the difficulty of which only those know who have spent, as I have, many years in trying to establish sound land systems within the Empire.
§ Mr. RHYS
I do not propose to follow the right hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken into his references to East Africa, because I am not competent to deal with East Africa. The hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell) raised points dealing with West Africa, and as 2456 it was my very good fortune to accompany the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies on his recent tour of West Africa, perhaps I may be allowed to make a few remarks on that part of our Dominions. I should like to express my own appreciation and that of my colleagues of the great courtesy and kindness of all concerned out there in making our tour a success, and making everything as easy for us as they possibly could, right down to the smallest man who had anything to do with it.
The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) dealt with the question of the system of land tenure in West Africa That is a very little known part of the world. We have there in our administration, built up a system which it can truly be said leaves no bad taste in the mouth, whatever may have happened in the past in other parts of the Empire. There is in the interior a system which has been based entirely on respect for native rights in regard to the land. I say nothing in regard to our old dealings on the coast, when it was, of course, the great centre of slavery and slave raiding for labour in the West Indies. We have only in the last 25 or 30 years really begun to deal with the interior of our West African possessions.
When we got into the interior, we found, in Nigeria at all events, a big civilisation and big Mahommedan Emirakes. We found a great deal that was good there, and it has been our system to maintain native chiefs in their territories, advised by British political officers. We have, of course, suppressed slavery in Southern Nigeria and, as far as possible, cannibalism and human sacrifices. In Southern Nigeria, in the palm forests, we have allowed the natives to keep their own land, and to run it, through their own village communities. West Africal has now come to a point where it has to realise that it is one unit in the world and in the world's struggle for markets. One of the speeches delivered by the Under-Secretary indicated that there is no intention of fundamentally altering the present system of native land tenure. We must rather see how we can assist the native farmer to keep his place in the competition of world markets. It cannot be denied that West Africa is being subjected at the present moment to 2457 severe competition from the European plantations in Sumatra, the Belgian Congo and elsewhere.
I do not want in any way to anticipate the Report which my hon. Friend is preparing, but I think it is essential that the native should have European-run mechanical plant for the better extraction and purification of the farm products. I do not think anyone who has been there will deny that some steps must be taken very soon in order to get a better and purer product. The wonder is that the native producer has been able to do such a lot. There is an almost inexhaustible kind of farm fruit, but the crying need is, of course, for better roads and better facilities for transportation. In Nigeria there will shortly be open some 1,200 or 1,300 miles of railway. The Gold Coast is a little better off as far as roads are concerned, though they are not so well off in regard to railways. They have 400 miles of railway, but under the energetic governorship of the present governor they have, in the last five years, constructed some 4,000 miles of motor road. That is a very great achievement, indeed. The administration in these few years has been extremely fortunate in having had surpluses of revenue with which to be able to carry out their projects. Under the native system of production no less than half the world's supply of cocoa is produced. They export, not only that amount of cocoa, but some 300,000 tons of manganese and other products which the natives cart down half a ton at a time. When the deep water harbour of Takoradi is completed it will be of great advantage to that part of the world. There is one particular point to which I should like to draw attention. When the native has been paid by the European trader for his goods a great deal of the money he earns is wasted in endless land litigation. There has grown up a class—for we educated a certain number of them—
§ Mr. RHYS
Yes, coast lawyers, as my hon. Friend calls them. They have assimilated what we have taught them. A certain number of them persuade the natives to indulge in land litigation. There is a certain amount of no-man's land, the ownership of which is not yet decided. This is due to the fact that in former times the villages were at war 2458 with each other, and neutral belts were formed between the villages. Since the British have come there and these wars have stopped, these belts have come into cultivation and nobody knows which land belongs to which village. It seems to me a matter of supreme importance that an end should be put to this leading of illiterate natives into litigation by the lawyers who are not actuated by any desire to help them. We have found in one or two cases that the entire wealth of villages has been mortgaged and not only that, but the incoming wealth for years to come has been mortgaged to meet the expenditure incurred in litigation. One particular native was horror-struck at the suggestion that we should allow lawyers into the Courts. His remark was: "Do you really suggest that two professional liars should be allowed in the Court to confuse the issue so that the Judge will be unable to discern the truth?" That is an indication that the native has not yet reached the sure standard as the European. I should have liked to say a great deal more, but I do not, want to delay my hon. Friend from replying.
These are one or two of the points that have been raised in the Debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Fast Woolwich (Mr. Snell) raised the point of cotton, and I should like to say a word on that question Nigeria is a great cotton-producing country. You see the bales going down day after day to supply in due course our Lancashire mills. The possibility is that in the future America will run short of cotton for export, and Nigeria is one part of the world to which we can look for development to keep our mills supplied. The British manufacturers might find a good market in that country for motor lorries. On the 4,000 miles of motor road in the Gold Coast there are some 2,000 lorries running Only 123 are British made; the rest are American. It is certified by many competent observers that in five years time the saturation point will have been reached in the American market, and they will make an even greater drive to secure fresh markets. Our manufacturers would be welt advised to send out men to study tropical requirements for the lorries that are wanted out there. Great credit is due to Messrs. Dunlop and Company. who have sent out a representative to see the kind of tyres that will stand the roads 2459 I would just like to refer to one more point. There is urgent need for scientific research, and the Government would do well to give every possible assistance to encouraging it. The work which is being performed by such a college as that at Trinidad will be repaid a thousand times. The Government of Nigeria and Sierra Leone have many experimental farms, and competent scientists are at work, but there are not nearly enough of them. The more scientific research can be carried out the greater will be the increase in production and the greater the return from these Colonies.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I understand there was an arrangement that this Debate should terminate at half-past nine, and I will only reply very briefly. I will devote myself, first, to what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). May I assure him that he is under a complete misapprehension on many points of fact. It is true we have in Tanganyika a much larger area than in Kenya. We have a much larger native population there, and we have got a greater variety of land and, therefore, a greater variety of crops, and production is larger for that reason. None the less, in Tanganyika, as is revealed by a very important Report on labour in Tanganyika by one of our most distinguished native administrators, which was first published last month, the plantation system and the native production system can successfully go on in the same territory, the one assisting the other. I want to disabuse the right hon. Gentleman's mind of the idea that in Uganda it is the Government action that is producing the position of affairs which he has stated. In 1900, when we entered into the Uganda country under the Uganda Agreement, and set up our first Government there, it was part of the Treaty that the allocation of the land should be left to the native farmer.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Uganda proper is a small part of the area, but you have used the system in the Uganda territory to extend it over all the other territory.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
There is no real analogy. Admittedly you have some abuses, but that is not the action of the British Government; it is the action of 2460 the African natives themselves, and it is the policy of the British Government to do all they can, under the Uganda Treaty by which we rule that country, to prevent the abuses. In regard to the use of compulsory labour by chiefs for the growing of cotton on the chief's land, the present Governor is making proposals, and we hope that we shall get an agreement for the effective working out of a more satisfactory state of things. It is quite an illusion to imagine that the Gold Coast is a country of small producers. The whole land system of the country is changing. The cocoa farms of the natives are becoming larger and larger, and they are becoming more and more dependent on wage-labour for cultivation.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The right hon. Gentleman quoted the Gold Coast as an example of the successful operation of the West Coast idea. In the South-East of Nigeria there is a very serious land problem, as there is on the Gold Coast. In the Gold Coast we have seen practically the whole of the native ideas of land tenure disappear under the impact of English law, and more and more land in the Gold Coast is being treated as if it were held in terms of the English law. Precisely the same thing tends to creep in in South-Eastern Nigeria and the people of South-Eastern Nigeria are being exploited and impoverished by endless land litigation. The right hon. Gentleman says that everything we have done in East Africa is so much worse than what we have done in West Africa, but all I can say is that, if that is so, the evidence of my own eyes must be at fault.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
He knows perfectly well that in trying to stop the introduction of British law into the Gold Coast we were blocked by the lawyers, and he knows equally well that before that time we saved Northern Nigeria, where the whole land is held by the State.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I agree that in Northern Nigeria you have had a system of land nationalisation by the British Government which the right hon. Gentle- 2461 man tried to get adopted in Southern Nigeria which created native animosity. There is no doubt it would be politically and practically impossible to introduce legislation of the Northern Nigerian type either in the Gold Coast or Southern Nigeria. The political opposition of the people themselves would be such that it would be practically impossible for any Government short of military reinforcements to impose such a law on these countries. The right hon. Gentleman was terribly misinformed on a good many points. It is quite untrue to say that there is no advance of the native people in Kenya. I am perfectly satisfied, from all I have heard from the Governor, for whom I have an increasing regard and who is well known to most hon. Members in this House, and the sort of accusation flung at him by the right hon. Gentleman is unworthy of him. Sir Edward Grigg, it is perfectly clear, and also Sir Robert Coryndon before him, have been responsible for very remarkable developments taking place in Kenya, which are such that Kenya at this moment offers more opportunities and more hope for the study and solution of the problem of one civilisation coming in contact with another race and another civilisation than is to be found anywhere in the world.
I found in Kenya on the part of the settlers, particularly the post-War settlers, who are mostly ex-officers and ex-service men, a real interest in the native problem of this country. I found them interested in the problem not merely from the point of view of cheap labour. It is so easy to sneer at them, but most of them when they went out had nothing but their gratuities. They are people who mean to live there, with their children and children's children, and they are interested in the native. They do not take the South African view of the policy of segregation which they regard as utterly impracticable and they say that they have got to live with the native and be with them. The whole time they are raising the native in civilisation, and not only the native but the native family, and the whole tendency is to encourage the native to come into the family, to provide them with schools, and better sanitation and medical comforts, and generally to make them permanent tenants with their cattle and families in the European Empire. I am perfectly certain that that is a sound 2462 policy and that in Kenya we are seeing the working out of a dual policy of giving absolutely free choice to the native as to whether he stays in the reserve or comes out and lives and associates with the Europeans in agricultural work.
Mr. R. SMITH
Do I understand the hon. Member to say that settlers are establishing schools for the natives?
Do I understand that what the Committee recommended in the East African Report has been set up to deal with land questions in connection with the reserves?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The native reserves were approaching completion of a final settlement. We have got all but three now gazetted, and as soon as they are completed the final enactment of the legislation can be made. The Kenya Government have been working on that continuously for the last nine months without delay. The main point of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme was in regard to land committees and land inquiries. From my experience in Africa—and I have been in every British Possession there except Somaliland—I am perfectly certain that further committees in London on questions of this kind will mean endless delay. Take the African Lands Commission. Neither Mr. Morel nor the right hon. Gentleman (Colonel Wedgwood) signed the Report. They sat and took masses of evidence after months of delay. The East African Report says that it is most essential before you legislate with regard to land in North Eastern Rhodesia that you should know where you stand in regard to land. The Chief Justice was set up as Chairman of a Commission and we have just received his Report on an important area. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we have started discussions with the Governor of Nyasaland who has just come home, and brought new material as to the very unsatisfactory land situation there. I am perfectly certain that if you set up a new Committee you will merely spend months in going through documents of this kind, when what you want to do is to get the local Government to act as soon as the necessary information is collected.
Let it be clearly understood that there are two responsibilities— that of my right 2463 hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament, and that of the Governors to their local legislatures. We should not attempt to do everything by Order in Council where we can get a local Government to do the work. We should get the co-operation and assent of the local legislature. I am perfectly certain that is a great thing to get their co-operation, and if we are to develop all our possessions in Africa, we have got to remember that one of the great assets of the British development in Africa is the British non-official. If he will take the interest he is now taking in the future of the natives and in the future of these communities as a whole, and if, instead of attacking him and telling him that he is narrow and self-seeking, we give him the same spirit which I am sure animates hon. Gentlemen opposite, of trying to do our best to ensure that the good name of Britain and of all Britons in Africa will go down to history, we can secure his co-operation. We will not secure it by attacking them, but by trying to understand their point of view and trying to carry them with us. That is the policy the Government are trying to pursue. I believe it is the only policy, taking the long view, that will succeed. I am just as anxious as hon. Members opposite for a square deal for the natives, for the elimination of all those forms of compulsory labour which have come down from the days of the past, for true progress, true education, and true development for all His Majesty's subjects, whether they he black or white, in that great Continent.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next (2nd August).—[Commander Eyres Monsell.]