HC Deb 30 April 1929 vol 227 cc1389-510

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £97,994, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1930, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies.—[NOTE.—£49,500 has been voted on account.]

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Amery)

In dealing with this Vote for the fifth year in succession I hope I may be justified in submitting to the Committee a general survey and retrospect of the progress achieved during those years. Hon. Members need not fear that I shall weary them with a detailed record of all that has been done in various parts of the Empire during that period. I issued only a few weeks ago a memorandum of some 80 pages which covers most of that ground. What I want to do to-day is to bring out some of the more important aspects, economic, administrative and constitutional, of the task which, under this Parliament, is being carried out by British administrators in every part of our Colonial Empire. It is a task which is never complete and which becomes ever more varied and indeed more fascinating as we extend our perception of the range of our responsibilities and of the problems with which we have to deal.

The last five years have been, throughout the sphere of the administration of the Colonial Office, years of almost unbroken peace. Five years ago we were, it is true, confronted with a situation which was difficult and at one time seemed menacing. The Turkish demand for the surrender by Iraq of the Mosul Province, a demand which involved a complete reversal of the principles of the settlement arrived at after the War in the Middle East, did seem at one time to threaten us with the alternatives of war on the one hand, or, on the other, of an abandonment of our obligations to the young State which we had helped to set up which would have meant chaos throughout the Middle East. We chose what we believed to be both the more honourable and the more prudent course; we made it clear that we were prepared to support Iraq in maintaining whatever frontier was assigned to it by the League of Nations. We also undertook the obligations which the League of Nations regarded as the necessary concomitant of the frontier settlement.

Our acceptance of the verdict of the League was challenged in this House. In moving the rejection of the Treaty which carried out that verdict of the League, the Leader of the Opposition described our action as "sheer folly" and as "the beginning of endless troubles," and another Member of the Front Opposition Bench, who is not present to-day, described the Treaty as "pregnant with the danger of future wars." I at any rate can conceive no policy which would have been greater folly or more pregnant with the danger of future trouble than the policy of surrender to menace and of dishonouring our obligations. As a matter of fact what has come of these dangers that were so instantly predicted four years ago? Except for minor raids, the carrying off of camels in the desert or forays in the hills of Kurdistan, there has been no military disturbance or menace of any kind on any of the frontiers of Iraq. Our relations with Turkey have been, both from the point of view of Iraq and of this country, the most friendly and neighbourly ever since that settlement. Our relations with Ibn Saud have been, notwithstanding disturbances created by the difficulty which he finds in controlling some of his tribes, also in no sense unsatisfactory. It is gratifying to find in the last few days that Persia, which for certain reasons stood aloof from Iraq ever since the establishment of the Iraq State, has now formally and in the most friendly manner extended her recognition to Iraq. The best commentary, however, on all these gloomy vaticinations of three years ago is the actual expenditure on the defence of Iraq since then. In that Debate, in February, 1926, I pointed out that our expenditure on and in Iraq, which had totalled over £8,000,000 in 1922–23—when the new system of Iraq self-government and of defence by the Air Force was initiated by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer—had already come down to £4,000,000 in the Estimates of 1925–26. The figure is now down to £1,650,000 in the present Estimates, and of that figure £1,200,000 represents the normal cost in this country of the four squadrons of the Air Force which are in Iraq. I think nobody would deny that the £232,000 of additional expenditure which is involved in maintaining them there is largely compensated for by the greater facilities which they have for training, as well as by the admirably central position which they occupy in case they are needed in any other part of the world between Egypt and India. Apart from that, there is only a sum of £220,000 a year, all told, spent by this country in respect of Iraq, most of it on the maintenance of the Iraq levies, and on a small contribution towards the efficiency of the Iraq army.

That same settlement which made possible such drastic reductions in our military expenditure in Iraq, has also made possible no less drastic consequential reductions of expenditure in other parts of the Middle East. In Palestine and Trans-Jordan we were spending £740,000 a year in 1925–26. The total expenditure by this country to-day is £64,000, namely, £40,000 in respect of the civil administration of Trans-Jordan, and a contribution of £24,000 towards the maintenance of the Trans-Jordan frontier force. In respect of Palestine we are paying nothing whatever, and Palestine actually contributes both the major part of the cost of the Trans-Jordan frontier force, and some £30,500 representing the additional cost above the home cost, £306,000, of a squadron of the Air Force.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Do not forget the interest on the Ottoman Debt.


I should like to mention also the case of Aden where we have had for years to deal with a difficult frontier situation and where a considerable portion of Aden territory had for some years been occupied by the invading forces of the Imam of Sanaa. That territory has without loss and at very little cost been cleared by the Air Force. I should not like to leave this part of my survey without expressing my high appreciation of the invaluable and efficient work done by the Royal Air Force in the Middle Eastern countries, which are in a peculiar sense, owing to their treelessness and high visibility, suited to the work of the Air Service. I wish to acknowledge the great services they have rendered as well as the valuable advice and assistance which I have throughout received on all defence questions from Sir Hugh Trenchard.

To return to Iraq. These years have been years of steady, though uneventful progress. The fabric of Arab administration grows steadily with the friendly advice—the comradely advice I would almost call it—of the British officers working in the different departments. I should like more particularly to pay my tribute of recognition to the magnificent work done over some six years by Sir Henry Dobbs in helping the new State to find its feet, and to find its feet in alliance and true friendship with this country. He is succeeded by an officer of very remarkable and wide experience in Arab affairs in Sir Gilbert Clayton. I have every confidence that the good relations which have continued hitherto will grow ever closer. A perfectly amicable difference as regards the precise terms on which our future co-operation should be based, or which should be embodied in the articles of a treaty, led to a temporary Ministerial crisis, now happily settled, and I believe that that perfectly amicable difference will also itself find its solution before long. I have every confidence, too, that the fears which were expressed in more than one quarter opposite that even within 25 years Iraq would not be capable of entering the League of Nations will be contradicted very many long years before that period comes to an end.

In Palestine we have also been more, than fortunate in our administrators. In Sir Herbert Samuel Palestine had the advantage of a man of high capacity, immense industry, and absolute impartiality, who laid the foundations in very difficult circumstances of an entirely new system of government. That work was admirably carried on by that wise and experienced old soldier and administrator, Field-Marshal Lord Plumer, during years of considerable difficulty. Sir John Chancellor succeeds to a more fortunate situation. The economic depression which came to a head in 1926 has now-passed away, and there are now signs of revival in every quarter. Emigration has come to an end, and the tide is slowly turning. It is sometimes suggested in that connection that we have unduly restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine considering the obligations of our Mandate. I think, looking back over the history of the last few years, that our policy, though at times meeting with impatience on the part of those affected, has been in the true interests both of Palestine as a whole and of the fulfilment of our mandatory obligations. It has also been sometimes suggested that we have given insufficient support to the development of Jewish colonies and the acquisition of land by Jewish settlers. There, again, it is better to build surely than to build in too great haste. At any rate let me give some figures of the actual population of the Jewish organised colonies. In 1922 that population was 17,000, and in 1927 it had risen to over 30,000. The area which they occupied in 1922 was 409,000 dunums and in 1927 the figure was 463,000 dunums. The total area of Jewish settlement was 649,000 dunums in 1922 and over 1,000,000 in 1927 and has increased very considerably since. This has been in no small part owing to the very rapid and gratifying development of the Jaffa orange industry.

The mention of that industry may justify me in turning for a moment to a region traditionally associated with a less satisfying form of fruit, I mean the Dead Sea. That region undoubtedly contains vast quantities of minerals. Whether those minerals can be extracted under conditions that will yield a commercial profit is uncertain, but I am glad to say that the long negotiations between the Palestine and Trans-Jordan Governments and the concessionaires, Major Tulloch and Mr. Novomeysky, who were accepted in principle some time ago, have now practically come to a conclusion satisfactory from the point of view of both the Palestine and the Trans-Jordan Governments. I may mention, as certain Members of the House have taken a very keen interest in this concession and the composition of the financial group which is associated with the concessionaires, that the chief financial supporters of the concession are Messrs. Basil Montgomery and Company, London, Messrs. C. Tennant, Sons, and Company, Limited, London, Messrs. Pauling and Company, Limited, London, Mr. Leslie Urquhart, Chairman of the Russo-Asiatic Consolidated Company, Limited, London, the Jewish Colonial Trust, Limited, London, and the Palestine Economic Corporation, of New York.

It is understood that Lord Lytton will be the chairman of the company which will be formed to work the concession, and that directors of some of the firms mentioned above will be on the board. I am also given to understand that it is the intention of Major Tulloch and Mr. Novomeysky, in agreement with their financial supporters, that the articles of association of the company should contain a provision to the effect that the chairman of the company should always be a British subject and that British subjects, or British subjects and Palestinian citizens together, should form the majority of the board of directors of the company.


Could my right hon. Friend say who are the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Palestine Economic Corporation, because they seem to be the gist of the whole concession?


I do not know that they are in any sense the gist of the concession. They are two perfectly reputable bodies, but I am afraid that I have not specially informed myself as to the detailed composition of these bodies. The Jewish Colonial Trust, as its name clearly implies, is a body specially concerned with the development of Palestine and, therefore, eminently the kind of body that ought to be associated, and naturally would be associated, with such a development as this. The other body, I presume, is an American Corporation having an interest of a similar character, no doubt largely sentimental, in the development of Palestine. The only other matter with regard to Palestine that I might mention is the development of the Port of Haifa. That work will be taken in hand in the immediate future, and I look forward confidently to the time when Haifa will become one of the main ports of the Middle East.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of Palestine, I hope he will pay some tribute to the fact that Palestine is also bearing its share in the interest on the Ottoman Debt.


I am glad the hon. and gallant Gentleman has paid his tribute, but if I were to discuss Palestine much longer, I should undoubtedly trespass far too long on the patience of the Committee, and my right hon. Friend the Undersecretary of State is going to speak later on. What I hoped to do was to give a very general survey, and indeed the Middle East is the only part in regard to which I had thought it desirable to give even as much detailed attention in this Debate as I have done.

From this, I admit, very brief summary of the peaceful evolution of the Middle East since we took the critical decision upon which that whole peaceful situation has been based, I should like to turn to the problem of the Colonial Empire as a whole. The last five years have been years of very remarkable economic development all round. That development has been reflected in the Colonial revenues which have shown in every direction a very satisfactory expansion, the most marked, perhaps, being the expansion of the revenue in the East African Dependencies. The revenue of that group of Dependencies, which in the financial year 1924–25 amounted altogether to £7,823,000, had by the year 1927–28 already reached a figure of over £16,500,000, or more than double in three years. The total development of the Colonial revenues in those three years has been from £60,000,000 to £75,000,000, an average increase of 25 per cent., a record, I think, of which we need in no sense be ashamed. Taking the trade of all the Colonies, their total imports in 1924 were £187,250,000, and by 1927 that had risen to £245,700,000. Their total exports in 1924 were £170,500,000; by 1927 they had risen to £238,250,000. The total trade of the Colonial Empire had by 1927 already come very close to the £500,000,000 mark, and I have no doubt that the figures for the present year will well exceed that mark.

If I might give a few details of the most important Colonial groups; in the case of the West African Colonies their total trade grew from £51,000,000 in 1924 to £66,000,000 in 1927. The total trade of the East African group during the same period rose from £25,000,000 to £32,500,000. The total trade of the Eastern and Pacific group—I mean Ceylon, Malaya, and the Pacific Colonies—rose from £153,500,000 to £247,000,000. Of that trade a very substantial proportion was trade with this country.


Could the right hon. Gentleman put any approximate figure on that proportion?


I was going to give the actual figures, and then the hon. Gentleman can no doubt easily work them out himself. The total exports from this country to all our Colonial Dependencies in 1905 was £18,000,000; by 1924 the figure had risen to £47,000,000; and in 1927 it had risen to just short of £55,000,000. Our imports from the Colonies in 1905 were £19,500,000; in 1924 they were over £50,000,000; and in 1927 they were nearly £60,000,000. This in spite of the fall in values in the interval. As a purchaser of goods from this country, the Colonial Empire, taken as a unit, now ranks next after India and Australia as our best market. Their Governments certainly play a not unimportant part in that trade. In the last five years the Crown Agents of the Colonies have bought, in this country £33,000,000 worth of Government stores for the Colonies. In regard to the proceeds of loans raised in this country, while actual orders only represent a portion of the loans, yet a very large part of the balance of all these loans is also, in the way of ordinary trade, coming back to this country. For instance, Nigeria—I am glad to give one figure that meets the hon. Member's query—at present obtains between 60 and 70 per cent. of its total imports from this country. Consequently, when we consider the effect of a loan to Nigeria as compared with, say, a loan to Rumania, which buys between 6 and 7 per cent. of its external purchases in this country, we realise that fully 10 times as much of that loan comes back in the shape of orders over here.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that a loan to Rumania must leave this country as goods?

4.0 p.m.


I do not realise that. In theory every loan ultimately goes in some form of goods, or in some form of credit, but for practical purposes there is all the difference between a loan which is spent by a foreign country in orders from other foreign countries, and a loan to a British Colony or Dominion, the bulk of which is directly spent here.


A loan to British workmen is the best loan.


I must not be tempted to divert from my subject in that direction. What I would say about the whole of this trade of the Colonial Empire is that it is of special importance to this country, because it is so essentially a complementary trade. It is complementary in the sense that it consists largely of the products of tropical regions which cannot be supplied in this country. It is also complementary in the sense that the Colonies are essentially agricultural and producers of primary commodities. It is not very probable, or, indeed, very desirable in the interests of the populations themselves, that industrial development should be unduly accelerated in their case. They are, of course, producers of some of the most important raw materials of the world. Malaya is the greatest world producer, for instance, of both tin and rubber. In this connection I think I can say that while the situation, from the point of view of the rubber grower, is still a difficult and an anxious one, the very gloomy predictions made when we decided to put an end to the scheme of restriction have not been fulfilled. There was no sudden swamping of the market, last November, by the vast stores of rubber held there. On the contrary, the price rose from that time, and while it is still at this moment under a shilling, that price represents more than the same price would have represented under restriction, because it represents rubber produced under more favourable conditions from the point of view of the overhead charges, and also, I think, in almost every case with increased efficiency. There is one other product of great importance, tobacco, which, thanks to Empire preference, is becoming increasingly the main stay of colonies like Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Cocoa, coffee and silk from Cyprus—thanks to the preferential silk duties— have all shown satisfactory expansion, and there is every hope that we may witness a very large development of mineral production in Northern Rhodesia in the next few years.

There is only one of the great Colonial primary crops, sugar, which is at the present moment in a difficult plight. Thanks to the preference which was initiated after the War, and stabilised four years ago, there has been a considerable expansion of the sugar industry in the Empire. But at this moment the continuance of that expansion is being menaced by the price war which is being waged between the American producers in Cuba and the Dutch producers in Java. Mauritius, Barbados, British Guiana, and the smaller West Indies are all feeling the stress of that price war, and are involved in considerable difficulties. All this general expansion of which I have spoken has been based upon, and in turn demands, the continuous improvement of equipment and administrative organisation.


I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would say a word about cotton before he leaves the subject of colonial products?


I did not wish to try the patience of the Committee too long. I would only say that the cotton situation in Uganda looks much more favourable than for the last two or three years, and that we look for something like a return to the results of 1925. In Nigeria, we have, I think, successfully developed a new type of cotton which may be of great importance to Southern Nigeria, and in other parts of the Colonial Empire progress is satisfactory.

To come to the equipment which is necessary if that development is to continue, there is one element that is obviously fundamental and more important than any other, and that is the element of transport. The energies of all the Governments, and especially the Governments in East and West Africa, have been largely concentrated during the last few years on the development of their transport system. In Nigeria since the end of 1924, 500 miles of new rail-road have been constructed and will be completed by the end of the year, including the completion of the Eastern railway to Kaduna. The construction of the largest bridge in Africa, the bridge over the Benue, which will greatly increase the efficiency of the Nigerian Railway system, has been given out to the firm of Sir William Arrol and will, I hope, be soon under actual construction. The Port of Lagos and Port Harcourt have been largely developed and improved. There has been a continuous development of the road system. Something like 400 miles of first-class roads are being added every year, and the expenditure on the roads of Nigeria to-day is at the rate of £126,000 a year, compared with £50,000 four years ago. On the Gold Coast the great harbour of Takoradi, which was opened by the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) last year, is now in full working order; 100 miles of new railway have been added, and something like 1,500 miles of additional roads.

In East Africa, with the help of the £3,500,000 loan sanctioned in the time of the late Government, and of the £10,000,000 Guaranteed Loan Act, sanctioned by this House four years ago, there has been a corresponding development. Port Kilindini, the main port of East Africa, has been greatly enlarged, and five deep water wharves are now either completed or sanctioned, and an additional oil wharf has also been sanctioned. The main line will very soon be completed to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and the present extension by motor omnibus services to the Belgian Congo and the Sudan will, I hope, before many years, give place to an actual extension of the main line itself. In Tanganyika, the most important single line constructed has been the line from Tabora to Mwanza which links up the Tanganyika Central Railway with Lake Victoria. Further South, the transport problem which most affects Nyasaland is the construction of the bridge over the Zambesi which has been delayed owing to the necessity of making quite certain, from the technical point of view, that the bridge should be thrown over the river at the right place. Those technical problems, I am glad to say, have now been surmounted, and I hope it will not be long before any other difficulties which stand in the way will be overcome, and that the scheme will enter the field of practical construction.

The Committee will remember that when the Commission which, under my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State visited East Africa, came back, they recommended that a loan of £10,000,000 should be raised for railway and other developments in East Africa, but they also coupled with that recommendation a further recommendation, following the precedent of the Kenya Loan of 1924, that interest on that loan during the early years should be paid by the Imperial Government. That recommendation was not embodied in the Guaranteed Loan Act, 1925, as it was felt better, in the first instance, at any rate, that the Colonies concerned should go ahead with those schemes which would justify themselves on an economic basis and stand on their own bottom, leaving the consideration of schemes which were beyond the financial means of the Colonies until, at any rate, those others had been taken in hand. If there is to be in East Africa, and, indeed, in other parts of the Empire, a really rapid development of transport, it will be necessary to afford some measure of assistance to the local governments beyond what they can find out of their own slender revenues. The provision of such assistance will be one of the main purposes of the proposed Colonial Development Fund, the creation of which has already been foreshadowed by the Prime Minister. I have no doubt that such a Fund, in which Ministers would be helped with the best expert advice available, administered on flexible lines, such as those which have so much facilitated the work of the Empire Marketing Board, can be made a most potent instrument for accelerating the general development of many regions of the Colonial Empire, and in doing so will contribute not only to the welfare of the inhabitants of the Colonies concerned, but also, both directly in orders for the equipment of railways and other public works, and indirectly in the general expansion of trade, to the creation of much-needed employment in this country.

If railways provide the main backbone, the greater part of the structure of the transport system, in ever-increasing degree, is being provided everywhere, and, above all, in Africa, by motor lorries. In a country with a small and scattered population only a very limited number of main line railways are justi- fied. Immediate development, to a very large extent, must depend on the steady-improvement of roads, both first-class roads and such local roads as will carry some sort of motor transport. There has been no transformation in Africa in the last few years more remarkable than the replacement of head carriage and porterage, the immemorial curse of Africa, by the use, by natives as well as by white people, of every kind of motor vehicle. I only hope that it may be possible for the motor industry in this country to take full advantage of the wonderful field that is going to be opened up in the development of Africa under these conditions. In this connection, thanks to the assistance of the Empire Marketing Board, we have been able to set up a Central Advisory Committee on Transport, with a strong Directing Committee which is now studying all possible systems of road transport, and will shortly be in a position to undertake important experiments. I look forward to very valuable results from the work of that Committee.

Another development of the last few years, in some ways more remarkable even than the development of roads, is that of aviation. It is significant that the two great Empire air routes which are now being set on foot, namely, the air route to India and the air route from London to the Cape, have for a large part of their flight to pass over areas within the administrative responsibility of the Colonial Office. I believe that East Africa particularly will benefit enormously by being brought not only days, but weeks closer to this country than it has ever been before. In every way the Empire is being drawn closer all over the world. Only a few months ago I was summoned out of this House to my room behind the Speaker's chair in order to have a conversation with my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary who was speaking from somewhere in the middle of Java; and when I hung up the receiver I wondered what the lot of the Colonial Secretary will be when every one of 37 Governors can ring him up to complain of the tone of his last despatch, and possibly even to accompany his complaint with an angry face over the television apparatus. At any rate, we have already made great progress in every form of transport and communication, although I believe that it is only a small thing compared with the progress that the next few years will see.

The resources which we are going to develop by the increase of our transport facilities, are of course mainly agricultural, and the promotion of scientific agricultural development and research has been one of our main tasks during the last few years. There has been a great advance in every quarter of the Colonial Empire in interest in agricultural development and research, a great strengthening of staffs and in every direction the creation of new institutions. Of these the most important is the Imperial College of Agriculture at Trinidad, which owed its inception to Lord Milner's inspiration, and has since developed so usefully. Since then have been established an agricultural college in Njala in West Africa, and one in Mauritius. Among the many research stations which have been opened or practically reorganised and rebuilt in the last four years I may mention the agricultural research station at Amani in Tanganyika, the rubber research stations in Ceylon and Malaya; a tea research station in Ceylon; forest and fishery research stations in Malaya; the Zaria agricultural research station in Nigeria; the veterinary station at Kabele in Kenya, and the agricultural and veterinary station at Mazabuka in Northern Rhodesia. In every quarter there is a real new life over this whole question. That of course has involved a great addition of staff and a great difficulty in getting adequately trained staff.

As a result of the committee appointed in 1924 we established a system of agricultural scholarships under which 20 candidates for agricultural appointments are selected every year to undergo a two years course, one year at home and one year at Trinidad. As an outcome of the Colonial Conference of 1927, and the two committees which were appointed under Lord Lovat's chairmanship, for agricultural and veterinary research, we are now establishing a complete organisation both at headquarters and in the Colonies for a unified agricultural research service. The Colonial Advisory Council for Agriculture and Animal Health is now in existence and at work and 21 out of 26 dependencies or groups of dependencies have notified their readiness to co-operate in the agricultural service system. An assistant agricultural adviser is now established in the Colonial Office. With regard to the veterinary service, a system of scholarships will, I hope, be instituted this summer, and the rest of the programme will, after due consultation with the governments concerned, be gradually developed. There is one other feature in connection with this to which I should like to refer. That is the establishment, as an outcome of the Imperial Agricultural Research Conference of 1927—again made possible by the intervention of the Empire Marketing Board—of eight special agricultural and veterinary research bureaux. Three, namely, those on animal nutrition, animal genetics and food production have already been at work during the last month. Two more, the bureaux on soil science and plant genetics, will start work to-morrow. In this matter we have had the most encouraging co-operation from all the Colonial and Dominion Governments.

Important as animal and plant health is, human health is of even greater importance, and the Colonial Office is not only an administrative office, not only a ministry of transport and a department of agriculture; it is also, and very essentially, a ministry of health for the tropical world. Here again there has been a great stir on the face of the waters throughout the Colonial Empire. In every direction governors and administrators have shown the greatest enthusiasm, often splendidly supported by their wives, more particularly in the matter of child welfare and maternity, in improving the health conditions of the peoples under our charge. The scourge of the tsetse fly has been dealt with in special investigations in Uganda, Nigeria and Tanganyika, in the first named instance by a special investigation carried out under the auspices of the League of Nations. Leprosy in the Gold Coast, and malaria in Palestine and Malaya, as well as in the African Colonies, have also been the subject of intensive investigation. Everywhere these diseases have been under continuous review, and the situation has been continuously improving. If I may quote one instance, the creation of the large hydro-electric power scheme in Perak was carried out in a malarial jungle without involving any appreciable sickness among a body of 4,000 workers, a condition that would have been incredible a few years ago.


Thanks to the medical profession.


In every direction, hospitals and educational institutions have been increased. I believe that to-day the great hospitals on the Gold Coast and at Singapore are unrivalled in any part of the tropical world. Ceylon has 100 hospitals and something like 8,000 beds. Malaya has 25 travelling motor dispensaries and two motor boats which in the year 1926 treated 156,000 cases. We have a medical college at Singapore, an institution calculated to be of immense importance to the whole of the Eastern Colonies, and we hope before long to establish something of the same sort in West Africa. In many of these researches we are greatly indebted to the Rockefeller Foundation for the assistance which they have given. At headquarters greater attention to these matters has been reflected in the change of our organisation. In 1926 an adviser on medical questions was established at the Colonial Office and the appointment has now been made permanent. We have a Colonial Advisory Committee on medical and sanitary questions; in 1927 we added a special Colonial Medical Research Committee, and we enjoy the co-operation of the Committee of Civil Research and of such institutions as the London and Liverpool Schools of Tropical Medicine. Not the least important in this connection is, of course, the training of native medical staffs, and we hope to increase that work, which has grown remarkably in the last few years all over West and East Africa, and to build up an even higher medical training of natives so as to enable them to qualify in Africa for the actual conduct and treatment of cases. No less essential than that is the education in questions of hygiene of the whole bulk of the population.

That brings me to the next great subject of importance, the work of the Colonial Office as a ministry of education. There, too, there has been a great expansion in every direction. I do not wish to dwell upon the details of the increase of staffs, the multiplication of the schools, and so on. But we have developed some interesting experiments, not the least notable being the creation, thanks to the enthusiasm and driving power of Sir Gordon Guggisberg, of the great secondary school at Achimota in the Gold Coast at a cost of £600,000. Another institution fulfilling a similar purpose is the Makerere native college in Uganda, and the Jeanes school for training teachers in Kenya. Of a somewhat different type is the splendid new Raffles University College, which was officially opened at Singapore last year, and one which I hope will materialise in the near future, the Ceylon University. All this movement has again been reflected at headquarters in the constitution of an advisory committee covering the whole field of education in all parts.

These developments have necessarily brought with them a great expansion of staff and the need for securing continuously more competent and better staff. We have raised salaries throughout, and greatly improved the initial training for all our officers, administrative or technical. Until a few years ago, the young cadet received only a few-lectures in London before he was shot out into the middle of some colony. Now the whole of the administrative staff get a year's special training at Oxford or Cambridge, and those in the technical service get a year's training at a suitable institution. We have, I think, steadily raised the standard of the character and ability of the men who enter the service, for nothing is more vital to the whole development of the Colonial Empire than the men who do the work on the spot. Nevertheless the whole of this work has grown to such an extent in the last few years that I felt it very desirable to bring the whole question of the conditions of entry into our colonial service under review. I have also felt that this cannot very well be disassociated from the question of conditions of entry into the Colonial Office itself, inasmuch as my ambition is to make that Office in a greatly increasing measure interchangeable with the services outside. I have accordingly appointed a Committee with the following terms of reference: To consider the existing system of appointment in the Colonial Office and in the public service of Dependencies not possessing responsible Government, and to make such recommendations as may be considered desirable. They are very wide terms of reference, so as to give the Committee a very free hand. I am glad to say that Sir Warren Fisher has accepted the duty of presiding over the Committee, and he will have with him as colleagues, besides Sir Samuel Wilson, whose place will be temporarily taken by Sir G. Grindle, the Assistant Under-Secretary,

  • Sir Hesketh Bell, a former Governor of a number of Colonies;
  • Mr. John Buchan, a Member of this House;
  • Sir Walter Buchanan-Riddell, principal of Hertford College, Oxford, who recently presided over the Ceylon University Committee;
  • Sir John Farmer, an eminent expert on agriculture;
  • Sir Robert Hamilton, a Member of this House;
  • Mr. Meiklejohn, of the Civil Service Commission;
  • Dr. Cyril Norwood, head master of Harrow;
  • Mr. Roberts, of the Cambridge University Appointments Board;
  • Sir Russell Scott, of the Treasury;
  • Dr. Shiels, a Member of this House; and
  • Mr. Tomlinson, late of the Nigerian Civil Service.
I believe that that Committee, with its very wide range of interests and of experience, ought to be able to give us a very valuable and helpful report.


May I ask whether the appointments will include those which are made by the Crown Agents?


I am not sure of that. I have in contemplation only the administrative and specialist services. Recruiting by the Crown Agents is for a rather different purpose, but I am quite willing to turn over the hon. Gentleman's suggestion in my mind.


I wish to raise the point later in the Debate, but there are certain grievances among the members of the Services which are recruited by the Crown Agents, and I thought it would be of advantage to include them.


This is not a Committee to go into all the grievances which may be entertained by members of any service but to consider the conditions of entry, the actual recruitment, but as I say I will keep the hon. Member's suggestion in my mind.

All these changes in the whole structure and scope of our administration in the Colonies have naturally been reflected at headquarters. The whole organisation of the Colonial Office has been reconstructed in the last few years. The first essential step in the reconstruction was the separation of the Colonial Office work from the entirely different work of the Dominions which is the work of negotiation and discussion with partner Governments. The next step was in some measure to recast the Department itself, retaining its organisation in the main on a geographical basis, for, after all, it is only on that basis that you get local feeling and intimate touch between the Department and the staffs in the different Colonies, but in an ever increasing degree supplementing that structure, together with an increase in the general branch of the Office, by the creation of specialist advisers. The Office now has its legal adviser, its financial adviser, medical adviser, agricultural adviser and, on the transport and educational side, there are organisations which fulfil the same purpose. The whole machinery, in fact, is very different from what it was a few years ago. There is one other element in that machinery to which I feel I ought to refer, though it is not, strictly speaking, a part of the Colonial Office, and that is the Empire Marketing Board, which has given invaluable help in the whole field of research and in fact, has been a fairy godmother of research in the Colonial Empire. One last thing I wish to say in connection with the Office itself is that it has been my object to bring it increasingly into direct contact with the services outside. During the last five years 20 members of the staff of the Colonial Office, including my right hon. Friend and myself, have been on one or more visits of varying duration to Colonies or groups of Colonies, and some 27 members of the various Colonial Services have worked shorter or longer periods in the Office itself. Further, by the system inaugurated in 1927 regular Colonial Office Conferences will be held to keep the Office still more closely in association and mutual understanding with the services outside.

There is one other aspect of these matters to which I ought to give, at any rate, a few words. All these developments, which affect the life of every individual in all these communities, are bound to be reflected in the political ideas and aspirations of the people. Quite apart from the stimulus given by the Great War to demands for self-government or self-determination, the whole process of development has been, from the point of view of the lives of the people themselves, a revolutionary one. It naturally compels us to face the question of how that revolution is to be accommodated to the framework of government. The problem which we had to solve in the Dominions many years ago was a comparatively simple one. We were dealing with communities which had self-government, its methods and traditions, in their blood. Here we are dealing with an infinitely more complex situation. We have to deal with people very few of whom have ever had any experience of self-government at all. We have to deal with every variety of race and of religion, and with people at every stage of development, and, very often, every stage of development side by side in the same community. Problems of that character are not susceptible of any simple or any single solution. We have got to feel our way tentatively towards the solution of these problems.

There is, indeed, one broad principle which I think has begun to emerge in recent years, and that is that any development based on the idea of representative, as against responsible government, namely, based on the confrontation of an irremovable executive with an elected majority, with no responsibility for the conduct of government, leads either to paralysis or to continuous friction and trouble. Therefore, what we want to aim at, where time is given us, is the endeavour to build up a tradition of responsibility from the beginning, and wherever we can find the nucleus of any existing machinery or tradition on which the sense of responsible self-government can be built up, to make the fullest use of that. It was that principle which inspired the whole system of indirect government in Northern Nigeria, a conception which has since spread widely to other parts of the Empire and which has been largely reproduced, where conditions permitted it, in Southern Nigeria. In the Gold Coast it has been linked up with the Central Legislature of the colony by the very interesting experiment of the provincial councils of chiefs. In Tanganyika Sir Donald Cameron has, with great ability and infinite care, reconstructed wherever he could find them the elements of real native government and of a native sense of responsibility. In Kenya the native councils have, with somewhat different methods, followed the same principle. In Uganda we have something not far off a native parliament in the Lukiko. But there are many other places, where there are no such existing historical foundations to build on, or where development in other directions has advanced so far that you cannot wait for the slow process of building up.

I will give just one or two of the problems with which we have had to deal. In British Guiana a curious, ancient and extraordinarily unworkable constitution, which provided neither efficient financial administration nor any real training in responsibility, which might have paved the way towards self-government in the future, has given place, with the help and the advice of two Members of this House, the hon. Member for Woolwich East (Mr. Snell) opposite and the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. R. Wilson), to whom I have been very greatly indebted for their labours, to a system of a more normal character under which I look forward with confidence to the future development of the Colony, I am glad to think that the new system is being worked in an admirable spirit of co-operation by the whole of the local community, even by those who opposed the change, and has the advantage of a most energetic and active Governor to direct it in Sir Gordon Guggisberg. In Ceylon a similar difficulty was investigated by the Commission under Lord Donoughmore. That Commission has made very far-reaching and interesting proposals. Not the least interesting was the suggestion that training in responsibility should be given, short of what is ordinarily known as responsible Cabinet Government, by a system of Committees parallel to that which does the work of the League of Nations or, nearer home, the work of our great municipalities. I am still awaiting the Report of the Governor on the whole of that situation, and pending that Report I have naturally not come to any decision, nor do I think it desirable to discuss the details of that Report.

An even more difficult problem in many respects is that of Kenya. There you have to deal with a white community which has self-government in its blood and which, if it had stood alone, would naturally expect self-government after a certain reasonable increase in its numerical strength. But it is not alone. It lives side by side with other peoples, and while we hope to associate that community with us in an increasing measure in the responsibilty of trusteeship, yet it is obviously out of the question, in any time that we are dealing with at this moment, to consider handing over responsible self-government to that small body. Of course no one can set an absolute limit to the future. Progress in the future must depend upon future development. At this moment we are dealing with particular and limited problems and with regard to that I will only say that we have had the advantage of the many very valuable recommendations of the Commission presided over by my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Sir H. Young). The whole matter is being now or will be in the next few weeks freely discussed without any limitation or restriction by Sir Samuel Wilson with every community concerned, and will be the subject of discussion and consideration by this House in the next Parliament before any decision can be arrived at.

Perhaps I ought to add that in his conversations with the Indian community, Sir Samuel Wilson will have the advantage of the presence of Mr. Srinivasa Sastri, who is going out there at my invitation in order to put his services at the disposal of the Indian community, and also to place his services at the disposal of Sir Samuel Wilson for any discussions which he may think desirable. He does not go out in any sense as a mission or as part of Sir Samuel Wilson's mission, nor will he accompany Sir Samuel Wilson on the whole of his tour, or take any part in the various discussions which he may have with other interests, but he will be available to meet Sir Samuel Wilson at whatever places they may arrange amongst themselves in order to deal with this very important question of the position of the Indian community. Knowing what I do of Mr. Sastri, I am sure the case of the Indian community could not be argued with greater eloquence or ability on the one hand, and on the other hand with greater moderation and a greater realisation of the importance of securing practical results rather than asserting theoretical claims.

The particular problem of the Kenya constitution is, however, really only an incidental aspect of a problem of a very different character which the Hilton Young Commission went out to investigate, a problem more administrative and developmental than constitutional, namely, the degree of greater unity which may be feasible in those East African territories which were divided, not by any natural divisions, but by purely arbitrary political divisions, in the eighties of the last century, and which from the point of view of transport, development, defence and many other considerations, are essentially one more or less homogeneous territory. That problem, too, will be discussed by Sir Samuel Wilson on the basis of the Report of the Commission, but with complete freedom to consider any and every proposal that man indicate a solution both administratively feasible and politically acceptable. But whatever the result of those inquiries, they are inquiries for the consideration of the Government here, and for the decision of Parliament.


Can Sir Samuel Wilson upset the Report of the Hilton Young Commission on that point?


I do not know what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman means by that point. Sir Samuel Wilson's business is neither to force through the Report of the Hilton Young Commission nor to upset it. The instructions given to Sir Samuel Wilson were read out in this House, and they show that he is instructed to consider the whole problem which the Hilton Young Commission dealt with in order to see how far a satisfactory solution might be found which was acceptable politically and administratively possible, and to bring back a report for the consideration of this House. Sir Samuel Wilson has no power to conclude any settlement himself.

The problem of the closer union of adjoining colonies has also to be faced in other parts of the Empire. I would like to say a word about the satisfactory West Indian Conference which met in Barbados a little time ago. That conference was the result of a preliminary conference which I convened in London three years ago at which it was decided to set up regular conference machinery on the lines of the Imperial Conference. The result of that first conference is most encouraging to anyone who believes as I do that the destiny of the British West Indian Colonies is gradually to draw closer and closer to each other. I have not dealt with a great many points which I know hon. Members are interested in, but I hope I have succeeded in giving some sort of picture of the immensely complicated and immensely interesting problems with which we are confronted in our Colonial Empire to-day. The Colonial Empire is to-day an ever increasingly important constituent element in the British Commonwealth, important from an economic point of view, and also no less important as a wonderful field of human endeavour in which to enlist and develop some of the finest qualities of our race.


I do not desire to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his very careful statistical survey of the development of our Colonial Empire. There are hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting behind me who have specialised in the particular phases of the story to which we have just listened, and who will deal with these particular matters. Although temporarily absent for the moment, I trust that we shall hear from the critic of the Dead Sea concession before the Debate is over. There is one part of the speech of the Colonial Secretary in which I was particularly interested, and with which I very strongly agree, and that is where he discussed the economic possibilities to this country of the development of our Colonial Empire. In this respect I cannot understand the attitude of a great statesman in this country who took it upon himself publicly to sneer at niggers riding bicycles. I regard it as a great step towards civilisation that the products of Coventry, the health-giving products of Coventry, should be exported in a greater measure to the citizens of our Colonial Empire, more particularly to places which only a few years ago were described as "Darkest Africa." I would go even further on this question than the Colonial Secretary, I would pay particular attention—I am sure every hon. Member sitting on these benches would be willing to do the same—to the labour conditions under which many of our imports are produced, and if I am given a choice as to whether I shall buy my cocoa from the slaves of San Thomé or from the free citizens of the Gold Coast, I shall have no difficulty in deciding.

The Colonial Secretary said he trusted that the Zambesi Bridge project would be speedily developed and that it would soon be started. I, for one, would like to have a great deal more information about the Zambesi Bridge and its economic possibilities before agreeing to that project. The right hon. Gentleman may be prepared to tell us whether or not it is a fact that the Zambesi Bridge is going to be built in Portuguese territory, and whether for the purpose of developing the great coalfield in Portuguese Nyasaland it is the case that the output of coal will pass over the bridge and go to a Portuguese port. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can inform us whether the labourers employed in Portuguese Nyasaland on the Tete coalfield are employed by a Belgian syndicate, and whether it is the case that the colliers employed there, including hewers and drawers, are paid the magnificent wage of 5s per month? I would like also to ask whether the colliers in this country are expected to contribute towards the cost of the Zambesi Bridge in order to facilitate the development of a coalfield on the East African coast which will compete with the products of British coalfields? How does the right hon. Gentleman expect our colliers to compete with labourers who are paid 1s. 3d. per week? I am sure every hon. Member of this House would like to have more information before the Government commit us to this Zambesi Bridge project.

There are two points upon which I should like some further information, and they are points which the right hon. Gentleman rather hurriedly skipped over. Perhaps the reason for this was the extraordinary range of the field which the right hon. Gentleman had to cover, and he was compelled of necessity to devote a large part of his address to the great problems of the political and economic situation in East Africa. In regard to the extraordinary situation in Ceylon and East Africa the Duke of Devonshire has declared: that the paramount duty of trusteeship will continue, as in the past, to be carried out under the Secretary of State for the Colonies by the agents of the Imperial Government, and by them alone. The Duke of Devonshire also said: His Majesty's Government's considered opinion is that the interests of the African natives must be paramount, and that if and when those interests and the interests of the immigrant races conflict, the former should prevail. I think we ought to have from the Colonial Secretary a clear, explicit and emphatic declaration as to whether or not any instructions which may have been given to Sir Samuel Wilson in any way would in the slightest degree contradict the declaration of policy which has been laid down by the Duke of Devonshire.


Sir Samuel Wilson has received no instructions beyond those which I have already read to the Committee, and he goes on a perfectly open mission of inquiry.

5.0 p.m.


The statement which the right hon. Gentleman made as to the purport of the inquiry which Sir Samuel Wilson was asked to make was as to whether these various interests could be co-ordinated within the range of what was politically feasible, and Sir Samuel Wilson was asked to make inquiries on that point. It is just here that there may be a loophole of escape; it is just here that we may drift away to what is called responsible government by a very small proportion of the population. If my figures are right, there is in Kenya an European population of 1,466 who, between them, own 10,511 square miles, or an average of 5,000 acres per individual. No native is permitted to own a single acre in that territory. The estimated native population is 2,500,000, that is to say, there is one European man, woman or child to every 200 natives, and we on this side want to be assured that there will be no presentation as an accomplished fact to this House later on of arrangements which have been tentatively made whereby we are committed, as a House of Commons, to that which is called responsible government, but which means, in effect, government of the 200 by the one. Whether we can have a civilisation franchise, and what that civilisation franchise might consist of, are surely matters for argument and discussion. Whether there should foe an education test might quite reasonably foe discussed in this House, but it should be a common test—it should be a test applied irrespective of colour. The test for the franchise, if it is to foe an educational one, should apply to the immigrant settler, the Indian, and the African native alike. That, I am sure, is a policy which will receive unanimous agreement on these benches. I know that I am stating the opinion of every hon. Member on this side of the House when I say that we hold our hands absolutely free to support the Majority Report of the last Commission on this subject, and that we are not bound directly or indirectly by any arrangements which may shortly be made, in East Africa, but hold ourselves absolutely free in every direction to push forward a civilisation franchise on an equality basis, that is to say, that no bar of colour or of caste should be set up in our East African Colonies.

I have seen a proposal made by Lord Olivier that a Joint Committee of both Houses might now be set up under this Government to lay down a permanent native code by which we would guide our footsteps in the future in the political and economic development of Africa, and, indeed, of our whole Colonial Empire. I am sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman, so far as I know, has made no public reply to that offer by Lord Olivier. I hope that in the meantime no further alienation of land will be permitted, and that every discouragement will be given to indirect forced labour. We acquit the right hon. Gentleman and the Government of any proposal or design to provide forced labour for private individuals; we know that the right hon. Gentleman himself is absolutely hostile to any such proposal; but we believe that by various pretexts men are tricked out of the reserve and compelled to supply themselves as forced labourers to private individuals, and we trust that, until the House of Commons has an opportunity of settling the whole future position of East Africa, the right hon. Gentleman will do his utmost, not only to prevent further alienation of land, but to prevent further development or continuation of forced labour.

There was one point that the right hon. Gentleman skipped over when he was dealing with Ceylon. The Donoughmore Commission reported in favour of what was virtually Home Rule for Ceylon—it was virtually an attempt at Dominion status. There are, of course, disagreements with parts of the Donoughmore Commission's Report in Ceylon. The Congress party, for example, has passed a resolution by a very large majority objecting to the recommendation of the committee system, and, indeed, they objected to manhood suffrage too; but, in the case of every proposal for widening the franchise in this or any other country, there have always been interested classes and interested individuals determined, if at all possible, to preserve their class and their caste in a monopoly, and it is not at all surprising to find that in Ceylon the majority of the Congress party are endeavouring, against the wishes of the Donoughmore Commission and against the wishes, I believe, of the European Members, or the majority of them, to prevent an extension of the franchise. They are endeavouring to preserve for themselves and their class a monopoly, and are intent on securing responsible government for themselves and for their class.

I was sorry to read that the right hon. Gentleman, instead of pushing forward, by every means in his power, the application of the Donoughmore Report, had sent a despatch to Sir Herbert Stanley, the Governor, which in some quarters was interpreted, I know not how far legitimately, as an intimation that, unless there could be fairly general agreement in Ceylon, he himself was not prepared to proceed further with the Donoughmore Report. I have the cutting here from the "Times" of the 17th November, 1928, when a despatch was reported from Colombo in which the Governor, in a message to the Legislative Council, announced that he had been authorised to communicate the observations of the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the subject of the Donoughmore Report, and stated that in his observations the right hon. Gentleman said: My opinion of the recommendations must be regarded as a whole, and while, no doubt, modifications of detail will be necessary when effect is being given to them, I should not be willing to accept any amendments in principle which would destroy the balance of the scheme. If it appears that a substantial majority of the inhabitants of Ceylon"— how he is ever going to find that out without an adult franchise I do not know— would not be willing to agree to a trial of the scheme as a whole, I might feel compelled to reopen consideration of the whole question of any constitutional change. That statement has been interpreted in some quarters in Ceylon as an indication that those sections of the community there who are opposed to the franchise have only to continue persisting in their agitation, and the right hon. Gentleman on his side will do nothing further. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State, who is to wind up this discussion, will make it perfectly clear that, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, there is no intention whatever of departing from the Donoughmore Report, and that we shall have in this House at the earliest possible date a discussion, and possibly an adoption of that Report, so that the world shall see that, so far as this House is concerned, we are prepared for the widest possible democratic franchise in the British Dominions, and that, if class government is to be maintained, it is not being maintained with the support or good will of any party in this House.

When I inform the Committee that in Ceylon to-day there is no public relief for destitution, there is no workmen's compensation, there is only the most elementary factory regulation, and there is no control of hours and wages in the sweated industries, it will be seen that it is more than ever necessary that there should be the widest possible extension of the franchise, so that the people who are being exploited to the greatest degree shall have an equal chance at the ballot boxes with their exploiters of controlling the economic development of the Colony. I trust that, whatever else we may amend, whatever else may be a subject for discussion in this House, the present franchise in Ceylon will not remain, but that we shall adopt the recommendations of the Donoughmore Report so far as the franchise is concerned, and make it clear to all the world that we seek the development of the British Empire on the basis of the co-operation of free people, and not on a basis of exploiter and exploited.


The Secretary of State for the Colonies, in his most interesting and widely ranging speech, dealt with many subjects of peculiar interest, but with none, I think, of an interest more peculiar than his account of the development at headuarters of what we may call the Expert Imperial General Staff. Of many hopeful features of modern developments of Imperial organisation, that, perhaps, is the most hopeful, because it most directly meets a felt want. The smaller Colonies, particularly, are those which are in greatest need of the most expert services, of the highest forms of knowledge as regards health and economic production. They cannot afford them, and in the past they have not been able to obtain them. They can only obtain them efficiently by assistance from Imperial headquarters, and we mark as a great step forward, perhaps the greatest of recent steps forward, in organisation, what is now being done to place resources of knowledge at the disposal of the smaller Colonies; and not only to place at their disposal knowledge which is available in London only, but to perform the essential work of coordinating the knowledge that is made available in the Colonies themselves.

It is not my intention to-day to deal at large with those topics more directly relating to East Africa to which some reference has already been made. I could not myself appropriately do so; and there is a general feeling on the part of Members that the future of East Africa is better left to rest awhile pending the mission of Sir Samuel Wilson. I will confine myself, therefore, on this subject to uttering a word of good will and God speed to Sir Samuel Wilson in his difficult task, which I take to be in particular, if that is not a misinterpretation of my right hon. Friend's words, the task of ascertaining the reaction of all sections of public opinion in East Africa to the report of the East Africa Commission, and the task of mediation, to see in what degree opinions which seem to conflict can be brought into unity. But I should like to say a word of appreciation and gratification that Mr. Sririvasa Sastri has seen his way to accept the invitation of my right hon. Friend to proceed to East Africa and to attempt to repeat upon that scene the notable success which he has already obtained upon another scene in the clearing away of difficulties and in the bringing together of opinions which seemed divergent. It is the case, unfortunately, that in East Africa, particularly in connection with political questions relating to the Asiatic community, there are present misunderstandings and there is some acrimony in the political atmosphere as the result of past misunderstandings and mistakes. It is very certain that one possessing the high qualities of moderation and of single-minded concentration upon high ideals of Mr. Sastri can do good in bringing minds together. What is needed now is helpful mediation rather than such premature generalisations as those of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) on this subject.

Having differed from the hon. Member for Dundee in what he said about that question, let me now have the pleasure of heartily agreeing with him upon another—the surprise he expressed at the jeers on the subject of the negro's bicycle. There is an interesting circumstance in my own experience which shows how ill-balanced is such a gibe. During our recent investigations in East Africa it was part of my task, and by no means the least difficult part, to try to ascertain some measure of the relative taxable capacity of the various African Colonies. Prolonged research into that matter resulted in frequent disappointment. I was unable to discover any satisfactory relative measure of the wealth of the negro communities of these Colonies. At last, I asked the best qualified person to suggest the best available test of the relative taxable capacities of the different Colonies. I was told that, if I must have one, the best I could find would be the number of bicycles imported for the negroes in each Colony: That is so because, when the negro thrives and makes money, the first thing he does in order to celebrate his prosperity is to buy a bicycle. I almost hesitate to add that I was told the next best test to a bicycle was a gramophone. That might lead to a fresh jeer, equally ill-informed.

Again I must find, unfortunately, a point of difference from the hon. Member for Dundee. He appears to view with suspicion and even dislike the project for the construction of the Zambesi Bridge. He does so, I understand, from the fear that it will develop some Portuguese coal mines where the wages are so low that they will produce unfair competition with our coal miners. I cannot profess to be so well informed on the conditions of labour in the particular mine to which he referred as to be able to confirm or to deny his statements of fact; but I will certainly maintain that the contention that we should not do good in developing one of our own Colonies for fear of some minor, secondary, and incidental possibility of evil is an argument which is most unconvincing. There is an enormous direct benefit to be gained, to the advantage of the very large black population and of the considerable white population of Nyasaland, by the construction of this bridge. A great deal of information as to the economic aspects will be found in the reports of the East Africa Commission, and the Commission of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Anyone who will read the information there made available will be convinced of the economic benefits of the bridge. The natives of Nyasaland have already big commercial interests. They are important producers of dark tobacco. They have a very good market for it amongst the pipe smokers of the world. Their interests are cribbed and cabined by difficulties of transport. The considerable community of white agriculturists in Nyasaland has a big interest in bright tobacco and in tea. One firm known to me has just taken up a very large estate growing tea. The country may become one of the most important of the world's producers of tea. The absence of any proper means of transport across the Zambesi puts 2d. a pound on Nyasaland tea and prevents it from coming into reasonable competition with tea fields elsewhere. It is such direct economic advantage which is to be immediately obtained by the construction of the Zambesi Bridge. It is for these reasons that I welcome most heartily my right hon. Friend's assurance that the matter is receiving consideration.

That leads me to the final matter about which a word should surely be said on this occasion, a word of gratification at the first pronouncement in this House, I think, on the subject of a new departure in making use of our asset of credit, and our financial resources as a whole, for a forward policy in the development of the undeveloped resources of the Colonial Empire. There are one or two aspects of the scheme which have been described to us which deserve particular attention. As we understand it, the weapons to be made use of for the hastening of development, with incidental benefit to employment in this country, are two, credit, by means of a guarantee, and grants of free interest. Both of them can be defended on arguments based on the strictist financial orthodoxy and on direct economic advantage. First of all as to the guarantee. This is the weapon of the former scheme of Trade Facilities. If it was justified for the Trade Facilities scheme, it is doubly justified for the purpose of assisting development in the Colonies. The credit of the smaller Colonies ought to be high, but is not so high as it should be, simply because the general lending world is not informed about the condition of those Colonies. Economically their credit is entitled to be much higher than it is actually in the markets owing to general lack of information about their conditions. It is surely in just such circumstances as those that the British Government, with its matchless credit, is justified in coming in to bring the credit of the smaller Colonies up to the level at which it is entitled to stand at purely financial considerations.

Secondly, as to grants of free interest. They are a novelty, in comparison with the old scheme of Trade Facilities, but they are absolutely justified. There is a difference between this new scheme and the old Trade Facilities scheme. The central purpose of Trade Facilities, as we remember, was to encourage works which were being delayed by lack of confidence in the troubled times after the War. What was then needed was a psychological stimulus, that was given by the confidence shown by the British Government in the scheme through the guarantee. Now something more is needed. What is needed is not to re-establish confidence, because confidence has been re-established by the passage of time, but to accelerate works which cannot be profitable for a year or two and so cannot get their capital on commercial grounds, but will be profitable after a year or two has passed. In order to do that good thing, a grant of free interest is necessary, to cover the unprofitable period.

As to the administrative means by which this scheme is to be put into force, it is particularly welcome to hear from my right hon. Friend that the administration is to be in the hands of a specific body which will devote itself to this purpose in close touch with the Colonial Office. That certainly is more appropriate for this new phase of the work than the old Trade Facilities Committee, which consisted entirely, if I remember aright, of business men. It did magnificent work. Its record was one of unique efficiency, rendered at the expense of great devotion to the public duty, and it was most appropriate to its purpose, but it would not be so wholly appropriate for the purpose of a body which had to deal entirely with undertakings and enterprises in the Colonial Empire, for this reason, that it is very largely the official world alone which has the full means of knowledge necessary to judge these undertakings again, it is the official world alone which is closely in touch with the native population. the interest and even the sentiments of the native population are deeply concerned in such enterprises. So the official element is necessarily more involved in such fresh developments; and it should be more largely represented on whatever body carries out these works than in the case of a body to consider works at home.

This moment of new departure ought not to be allowed to pass without adding to the congratulations upon what has been achieved, a word to say that something still remains to be done. There is more to be done in clearing up the somewhat backward financial methods which have, in some instances, been applied in the past to one or other of the Colonies. It has been my lot in the course of the last 10 years to become acquainted with some intimacy with the finances of a good many Dependencies of the British Empire, and I think that progress is being impeded to some extent by the large number of frozen old debts which are outstanding against Colonies and Dependencies. They are debts which are owing to the British Treasury and through the British Treasury to the British taxpayer. They are debts on schemes carried out in the past, sometimes of advantage to the Colony in question and sometimes without much advantage. Owing to their being incurred in early days, in many cases, the loans in question are not profit earning and are not able to pay interest. There they are, a dead weight upon the development of the Colony in question. The Colony finds it difficult to advance as long as it has a big burden of apparently unremunerative debt standing out against it. Of course, one has not to be careless of the interests of the British taxpayer. The Colony in many cases has had the benefit of the loan and should repay it if and when it can. Nevertheless, in such cases, rather too rigid a view has sometimes been taken of the interests of the British taxpayer. It would sometimes be more reasonable to consider that the interests of the taxpayer are more involved in the proper and speedy development of the resources of the Colony, in the interests, not only of the Colony itself, but of the whole Empire, than in sticking too closely to the letter of the original agreement.

One may summarise the matter by saying that in many of these cases some accommodation is necessary, just as it is necessary in the case of private enterprise when the enterprise is burdened with debts which it cannot pay. In the case of private enterprise, the debtor will postpone his debt in order to get fresh capital. He will take shares, for instance, instead of insisting upon his debentures. As regards frozen Colonial debts, it is possible that in some such course may be found a solution by which the interests of the British taxpayer could be properly secured and at the same time the financial future of the colony cleared in order that it may obtain the fresh capital which it needs to promote speedy development. At such a time as this, when we are contemplating the investment of a large mass of fresh capital in the development of the Empire, a suitable moment may arise for a general inquiry into these matters which may release the Colonies from the burden which prevents their development, and at the same time preserve, in a reasonable manner, the interests of the taxpayer.


The Committee is to be congratulated that it is able to devote the whole of one day to the consideration of the affairs of the Colonies as apart from the Dominions. I hope that in future years the whole of the affairs of the Empire will never be thrust into the compass of one day. The House never shows itself to greater advantage than when it resolves itself into a common Committee to try to get the best it can for the good of the Empire as a whole. The discussion this afternoon has shown that everybody is most anxious to do the best that can be done to realise the good government and the prosperity of every part of our Colonial system. These annual surveys of what is being done in the Colonies are of extraordinary importance, because the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies has an enormous influence upon the life and the future of the Colonies in question. He is not only the head of a great and varied railway system, of a great school system, of a great medical service, but he is also the owner of vast territories capable of enormous development, of many public works, of varied forms of transport, and on the whole he represents by his Office a greater power for the good of the Colonies than anything else that we have in the world.

It is important on these occasions that we should ask him how those powers are being used and what prosperity is accruing under his stewardship. It is both important and appropriate that we should on every occasion closely scrutinise what is happening in this matter. The record of four or five years which he has presented to us this afternoon has been interesting if not inspiring. Indeed, I should say that the whole record of the Government in office in regard to the Colonial system has been one of diligent correctitude, of administration rather than one in which creative values were clearly seen and developed. One cannot look back upon the last few years and feel that all has been done that might have been done in this matter of the Colonies, considering how vastly important they are. One criticises in these remarks not so much the occupants of office and the responsibility in the Colonial Office itself as the Government, who, in all probability, have restricted them in their efforts to do what they would have wished to do. The importance of Colonial development for this country is beyond all calculation. This is practically the most important thing that we have before us at the present time.

When we hear people regretting that the natives of the Colonies are themselves beginning to buy the products of this country, one almost wishes that people had something in their heads as well as upon them. It is almost tragic that just when there is a vast opportunity in that sphere of our creative and productive life we fail to exploit it with vigour or even in a serious fashion. The Government are only just beginning to be aware of the vast economic possibilities that lie in our Colonial Empire at the present time. If ever there was a time when little minds ought not to go with a big Empire, it is the present time. I do not doubt that in 20 years' time, long after the more alert nations have seized the opportunity and exploited it, our merchants will come to the conclusion that there is something in the development of Colonial trade, after all. If we think of the future of Colonial development, we have to think about its organisation as a whole. It has been suggested many times in this House that the first step in Colonial development should be taken in the Colonial Office itself, in the reorganisation of the whole system, in the reorganisation of what we may call the general headquarters. We have heard that we have now a co-ordinating doctor for the medical service. We want that same kind of co-ordination practically in every department. A vast extension along these lines is possible. As regards research, at the present time, in spite of this vast economic opportunity, we are only spending a few beggarly thousands of pounds upon research work which ought to do so much for development.

I do not want to go into matters of controversy this afternoon, but we are well aware that the Prime Minister has made some declaration on this point as though the Colonies were going to be brought into the question of political controversy in this country. I hope that that will not be so. On this side, at any rate, we have always tried to treat the matter from a non-party aspect. We shall unwillingly follow in the direction of controversy, but we are bound to put our view in regard to policy if the question is raised. To speak very frankly, we want the native's land to be secured to him legally, so that he will have a settled and unshakable stake in the country in which he was born. We want his standard of life to be so increased that he will be able to buy more bicycles and more gramophones and all the things that he wants. We want him to be a free labourer in the country in which he has some share. We do not want him to be compelled to work where he does not wish to work. We do not want him to be coerced into working for white settlers, either directly by compulsion or by a, subtle form of taxation, which is only another form of compulsion. We want his education to fit him, not to be an imitation Englishman, but a first-class African, built upon his own system and upon the development of his own life. Above all, we want him to be trained, however slowly at the beginning, in the work of his native councils, so that in due time he may be able to take his place in the proper government of his own country and of his own people.

Passing from the general aspect of this discussion to the particular, I would like to say a word or two in regard to East Africa, being not unmindful of the fact that the matter is still the subject of inquiry. There is something mysterious about the East African question at the present time. Not many years ago, the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State reported, with other members of his Commission, against federation. There was nothing more clear in his declaration at that time than that federation was undesired and unwanted. A few years later, a Commission, headed by the right hon. Member for Norwich (Sir H. Young) went out and reviewed the whole question again, and presented a most valuable document in support of the views at which they arrived. Directly afterwards, Sir Samuel Wilson was sent out to review the whole question once more. I hope that this will be the last Commission, and that when Sir Samuel Wilson comes home and presents his report, the Government will be able to discuss the whole matter and find out what is the right thing to do.

I should like to ask for a few details in regard to Tanganyika and its financial status, and whether anything is happening in the matter of land settlement and the development of native councils. There is also the question of the native land ordinance, which was before us when this Vote was discussed last year. I should like to know the position in regard to that matter. It is a satisfaction to hon. Members on this side of the House equal to that which was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, that Mr. Srinivasa Sastri is able to go to Kenya, and one hopes that he will have the success there that he had in South Africa. India could not be represented more efficiently than fey a gentleman who is certainly a most brilliant political scholar. With regard to West Africa, I should like to ask a question based more upon a desire for information than out of my own knowledge. Is it true that during the last year or two there has been a very considerable invasion of negroes and natives from French occidental and equatorial territories into the Gold Coast and Nigeria? Statements appeared in the London Press, some time ago, stating that 2,600,000 natives from French territories had gone into British territories during the last three years. I cannot guarantee that of my own knowledge, but I took the trouble to get a copy of M. Albert Londres' book, "Terre D'Ebéne," in which the whole thing is gone into. Has there been such an ingoing of natives into British territories and, if so, what is happening to them? What kind of life are they living? Are they being employed and, if so, at what wages? Are they reducing the standard of life of the natives already there? These are matters on which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say something.

There is one further question which I feel that I must introduce, although I do it with a great deal of hesitation, because I am aware of the difficulties of the situation. I refer to the question of the New Hebrides. For many years, we have refrained from introducing this matter, because of the very real difficulty that there is in regard to the Government of these territories. It is not my duty to attempt to assess the blame for certain grievances that exist in these territories, but I must say that the conditions there are giving rise to very serious anxiety and even alarm to those that know most about them. In the Anglo-French Con-Dominium arrangement, it was agreed that the natives should be protected both from force and from greed, but my information is that these conditions have been persistently ignored. The regulations respecting the supply and sale of alcohol and the recruitment of natives have been ruthlessly set aside. That is a very serious matter and one of which we ought to take note.

By Article 59 of the Treaty between England and France the sale or supply of intoxicating liquor to the natives is forbidden under any pretext whatsoever, but of late the traffic has gained greater proportions than ever before and has become a real menace, so we are informed, to the welfare and permanence of the native race. These primitive peoples have very little balance of mind or sense of moderation in regard to the use of intoxicants, and untold harm is being wrought, resulting in the gradual depopulation of the islands and the undermining of the permanence of a virile native race. The increase in the number of grog sellers of both nations, and of Asiatics residing in the group, not only threatens the extinction of the race, but is also a menace to the law-abiding traders of both nations by robbing them of the natural trade which would otherwise come to them. From the figures which have been supplied to me, it would appear that the profits from this illicit trade are enormous; that a bottle of gin costing 4s. 2d. is sold to the natives for 20s.; a bottle of brandy costing 2s. 6d. is sold for 16s., and a bottle of rum is sold at a profit of 10s. What the brandy is like, I do not know. I am well aware of the difficulty of tracking these grog sellers, but even when they are tracked very small fines are imposed, and they are not always collected. It pays the sellers of the grog to pay the small fine, because of the enormous profit they get out of the sale of the liquor. The honour of both the nations who have control over these islands is at stake, and we ought to see that the matter is put on a right basis.

The laws relating to the recruitment of native labour call for a good deal of anxiety. There ought to be better and more frequent inspection. I believe that a Committee of some kind did visit the islands not very long ago, on behalf of British traders, and one wonders what their report amounted to. I will not Bay anything more on this matter but many of us feel that the time for silence has passed by and that henceforth it will be our duty on these annual reviews to ask what steps are being taken to see that the conditions of the Con-Dominium agreement are being kept. There is also the question of British Guiana. I was delighted to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the new Constitution is working smoothly, with the co-operation and assistance of all parties. Those of us who have had close contact with the matter assumed, with confidence, that that would take place. There are other things which are of great importance to the Colony. I should like to know whether the forest surveys are being continued, whether drainage and irrigation matters are being developed in any way, what is the position of the health services in the various villages and up the rivers, whether the educational service has been remodelled, whether any kind of technical instruction is being given and, above all, what is happening in regard to the development of the North Western territory, whether there is any plan for immigration, and whether the financial conditions of the Colony show any sign of improvement in regard to a balanced Budget, and so on. These are matters which I hope will be of sufficient importance to elicit a word of reply from the right hon. Gentleman who will close the Debate.

Everybody is to be congratulated that the Colonies are now right in the centre of the picture in this House. That is a very great and a very welcome change, because our business in the years to come will be to develop our own estate throughout the Empire, and the opportunity will not wait for us for ever. As in the life of a man or a woman so in the life of an Empire, the opportunity comes and if we do not take it at the flood, it passes away. Above all other times in our history, this is the time when there is a great chance of real development, economic and otherwise, of the Empire. The whole possibilities of the Empire may be changed during the next decade, and just in proportion as we seize our opportunities and carry them into practical effect, with vigour, wisdom and foresight, so will the Empire prosper. Because of these considerations, I feel that in our discussion this afternoon we are approaching what is for us the major question for development in the next few years.


I am sure that everyone has been very gratified in listening to the Debate, especially the opening speech of the Secretary of State, who put so clearly, in a way that could be appreciated in the House but is very little understood in the country, the enormous work of development that is falling upon the Colonial Office. It is very gratifying to feel, as one does feel, that there is a very close coming together of Members in this House, irrespective of party, in their deep interest towards the welfare, development and progress of the Empire. In the old days it was a very honoured and valuable tradition that foreign policy should not form the subject of party feuds. There have been serious lapses from that tradition in recent times, but one hopes that they are only lapses. If the same principle of non-party support could be applied in a large degree to the development of our Colonial Empire, and it seems that we are moving in that direction, it would strengthen any Government and would make for the better advantage of those great Dominions and territories. We have much to be thankful for in that direction.

6.0 p.m.

I felt, as many others have felt, when my right hon. Friend spoke of the great developments and reorganisations that are taking place in the Colonial Office, that while we appreciate the great work that has been done in the last few years, we are almost coming to the time—I do not know whether I shall be in order in touching upon this subject—when we ought to have a Colonial Minister who devotes his whole attention to the Colonial side of things alone. We cannot always expect to have a Minister of so many sided experiences and such a ready power of assimilating questions as my right hon. Friend. In the interests of the country and of the development of our Colonial Empire, it seems to me more than one man's job to take charge at the Dominions and Colonial Office. I agree with the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell) that this is not a time for little minds controlling a big Empire. It is the great minds, helped by this House, who have been preparing and carrying out the developments in our Colonial Empire which we all realise to be so essential. Without this co-ordination and research in agriculture and medical science, the machine would not be effective for directing and developing the work which we all realise is so essential. There are one or two points of detail to which I should like to refer for a moment. I have in mind particularly the question of transport development in East Africa. Some years ago an admirable Report was presented by the Committee over which the present Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies presided, and it resulted in a great study being made of the development of transport services in these territories. Somehow, progress has not been as fast as one could desire. The reasons for this are no doubt justifiable, but I feel that there is one point where a change should be made in the future. The difficulty, I understand, has been in connection with loans for the development of railways in this area; the interest for the first few years, that is during the years of development and construction, are such a burden that the colony itself cannot undertake the work. We have to look at these matters from a broader point of view. This country is the head of the firm, the heart of the Empire, and we must take risks for the benefit of the whole of the Empire. It was not by studying risks like this that the Argentine was developed or the Canadian railway system completed, and the interest for a few years on a loan for the development of a great territory like this is a very small matter for this country. We ought to have before us something more than the immediate pounds, shillings and pence of the proposal. We should develop these territories as trustees, as a great asset and on behalf of the natives of the district. Some people look upon our colonial Empire as a means of attracting money to this country and others as a means for looking after the well-being of the natives. The two should go together. We have a responsibility for the development of these countries in the interests of the natives, but if we do this in a right way we shall be also serving the interests of this country as well.

I want to press on the consideration of the Committee that the question of large railway development, which may have a very important effect on these countries, should not be looked at from the purely Treasury point of view, but in a much broader way; and from the point of view of the Empire. The question of federation, or closer union, in Eastern Africa has been referred to. I want merely to point out that there are certain questions which undoubtedly clamour for immediate attention, such as transport. These territories are practically one for the purposes of transport and commerce, and yet you have the railways competing with each other. It is evident that there is a real need for a consideration of the problem as to how far these services in these territories might be co-ordinated. It is premature to discuss the question at the moment, but I think it is essential for us to realise the importance of this matter. Then, with regard to the difficulty raised by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), many of us have distinct sympathies with him, but we have no difficulty in regard to the statement made by the Colonial Secretary, that nothing is going to be done until the whole matter has been fully considered. That gives us some peace of mind, because we may have differences of opinion as to how far and in what way these questions should be solved.

There is one other matter to which I desire to refer. I do not suppose that the Under-Secretary of State when he replies will feel bound to answer, and therefore I do not propose to put it in the form of a question. I do not wish to do anything more than call the attention of the Committee to the matter without any desire of raising a controversial issue. It is known that in certain parts of the East African territories there is, and has been, a great desire to be able to institute preferential duties on goods imported. Some of these territories have benefited enormously by the advantage given to them in this country—a one sided preference—but it has not been generally realised that even if it was in the soundest interests of this country and its colonies to institute reciprocal preference in these districts, it cannot be done because of the existence of the great international treaties, commonly known as the Congo Basin Treaties, which have created a free zone throughout the whole of Central Africa giving an equal right to everybody to settle, develop, trade and navigate everything free. The question we have to consider when this matter will come up for consideration next year is whether in the major interest of this country and these territories this freedom is not worth far more than any more limited question. We must consider at an early date how far British trade is affected in this matter, and on what lines the Government should act when a revision, if any, of these treaties takes place. I do not say anything one way or the other except to point out that there is this complete bar to a certain section of the community, and it may or may not be in the interests of trade to make a change in this matter. I feel that it is a matter which should be investigated, and I believe the Colonial Office is already seized of the importance of the question. I do not wish to go into details at this late period in the Session. Let me record my high appreciation of the great work which is done by the Colonial Office, and the satisfaction we all feel that there is such a good report which we can unanimously accept as the work not of a party but of this country as a whole.


I desire to raise the case of the artificers who are recruited by Crown Agents for work in the Colonies, and the conditions under which they work. These men are a very desirable class, and when they are at home and working in their own trades they are protected in many ways. They are insured under the National Health Insurance for sickness and old age, insured against unemployment, and protected by the Workmen's Compensation Act. But when they get out into the Colonies there is in many cases, such as the Gold Coast, no such protection, and I am afraid that these men when they are recruited do not quite understand what their position will be in these Colonies. Although the wages may seem high, they do not always understand that it is difficult to maintain their families at home while they live out there, and at the same time save against a rainy day. When a private firm sends men out to the Colonies they insure them against climatic diseases and accidents, but these unfortunate men are not insured at all.

Let me give a case which will illustrate my point. I brought this matter to the notice of the Under-Secretary of State a little time ago. A man of good character, a foreman in the Gold Coast, had his living quarters some distance from the bridge which he was engaged in building, and the Government provided him with a motor bicycle which he was compelled to use to ride between the job and his living quarters. On returning home one day, and when near his quarters, a native jumped from the back of a lorry and in swerving to avoid the man he skidded, and fell, seriously injuring himself. To-day he is incapacitated. He was sent home on sick pay, but after a few months he got nothing more. That man is walking about with no means of livelihood save his slender savings. If he had been injured in England, he would have had as compensation half his wages, and if he had taken a job at lower wages he would then have had half the difference between that and his former wages. He is not protected if he goes abroad.

It is not in the public interest to allow this to occur. If we are to get the best men to do work in the Colonies—and we want the best men, those who are able to stand against the temptations which are to be found in these countries—we must give them the same protection as they get at home. The experience of the trade union movement is that the best men are those who look after themselves in regard to insurance and savings. I want to ask the Colonial Secretary to look into this matter and see if he cannot find some means for protecting them, so that in case of accident they will have the same treatment in our Colonies as they would get at home. This particular man got £400 a year, which is about comparable to that of an insurable man here, having regard to the difference in the cost of living. At least we say that the men who are engaged at a salary comparable with the insurable rate here, should receive protection there. We should be doing the Empire a good service if we made such an arrangement.


Like other Members I listened with very great interest to the speech of the Secretary of State. I was particularly interested in what he said regarding what had been done to cure malaria and other diseases. I wish to refer to a traffic which is the source of a good deal of disease and death among the natives, particularly of West Africa. I have made some study of the question of the liquor traffic in connection with the mandated territories in Western Africa, and I would like to give a few figures to show the increase in this traffic in recent years on the West Coast of Africa. I will take the figure for 1913 on the Gold Coast. There was then a total importation of spirits of 1,759,492 gallons. Then, owing to the shortage in shipping and other causes, there was a very gratifying decrease, which was marked for many years. But since 1920 there has been a gradual rise again in the flood of liquor imports into Western Africa. In 1920 the importation was 125,000 gallons; in 1921, 199,000 gallons; in 1922, 261,000 gallons; in 1923, 580,000 gallons; in 1924, 670,000 gallons; and in 1925 it had risen to 931,000 gallons. It is gratifying to note that in 1926 there was a substantial decrease, but even then the importation was 805,000 gallons.

In the six years ended in 1926 the spirit importation into West Africa registered an increase of 174 per cent., and gin importation in the six years ended 1925 showed an increase of no less than 743 per cent. If you take the seven years ended in June, 1926, the increase was 716 per cent. I should be sorry to trouble the Committee further with figures. I am very anxious to establish my case by not taking one particular year with another, but rather by comparing the quinquennial period from 1918 to 1922 with that from 1923 to 1927. The spirit importation shows an increase in the second period, compared with the first, of 120 per cent., the gin importations an increase of 721 per cent., the wine importations an increase of 209 per cent., and the ale and beer and kindred drinks importations of 479 per cent. That is an alarming condition of affairs. I would bring the Committee back to the Covenant of the League of Nations. In the 22nd Article, the Covenant makes provision regarding mandated territories for the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic. They are all put on the same basis, and the word "prohibition" is used equally regarding them all.

I know that the Secretary of State has said that he could give arguments for the prohibition of slavery that would not obtain with regard to the prohibition of the liquor traffic. But we are not concerned with that meantime; we are concerned with the fact that these words occur in the Covenant and that "prohibition" was the aim of the League of Nations. I might reinforce my argument by referring to the pronouncement of the Under-Secretary of State himself a few years ago. I do not say that he made that pronouncement as the British representative, because the Foreign Secretary has said that he was not speaking in that capacity, but was speaking as a Member of Parliament and of the Permanent Mandates Commission. But this is what he said: The Covenant provides for absolute prohibition. There is no question of the abuse of the traffic. The traffic itself was regarded as an abuse. Moreover, the text was drafted in English, and the expression 'liquor traffic' there used so clearly referred to abuse. The right hon. Walter Long in 1918 used these words: It will be my duty to advise the representatives of the British Government at the Peace Conference to take steps, on their own initiative, for the abolition of the liquor traffic in West Africa. We ought to put an end to it, because it is certainly conducive to great evil and misfortune. A similar interpretation was put on the Covenant by the then Premier of Australia, Sir Joseph Cook. He said, in July, 1921, that the Peace Treaty implied total prohibition. Sir James Allen, High Commissioner for New Zealand, said that, in accordance with the Covenant, they had prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors. I believe that that obtains in Samoa to-day. The Government of the Union of South Africa read the words in the same way. Now I come to the fact that this country has taken up a different attitude. I am not speaking controversially or in a partizan spirit, because this arrangement was made before the present Government took office. But instead of prohibiting the traffic they prohibited only trade spirits in mandated territories. After four years they were unable to define what trade spirits really were, though various attempts were made. They were spirits used by natives or such as Europeans did not generally consume, or such as were used for barter. Then they came upon the method of defining what lay outside trade spirits, such as whiskey which was distilled from cereal grain and so forth.

Then there came the Covenant and its presentation to Parliament on 10th September, 1919. The Convention was signed at St. Germain-en-Laye. It certainly spoke no longer of prohibition, but of restriction, and it only prohibited, not the liquor traffic, but trade spirits of every kind and beverages mixed with those spirits. That was an important departure from the purpose of the Covenant of the League of Nations. That is how it stands to-day. The Government set up a Committee, the African Liquor Traffic Control Committee, to consider and advise as to what liquors might be stamped as not belonging to the category of trade spirits and might therefore be imported into these mandated territories. I do not suppose that I should reflect at all on the composition of that Committee, but in addition to an Assistant Secretary at the Colonial Office who was the Chairman, and an analytical chemist and a member of the Colonial staff, there were four who, I should say, were directly, though not perhaps personally, interested in the manufacture and distribution of gin—two persons well acquainted with the manufacture of gin, a person well acquainted with the export of gin to West Africa, and one well acquainted with the trade in gin in Great Britain. So under their stamps these vast quantities of liquor have been going out to West Africa. It has been only a substitute for trade spirits. The only difference in many cases, it is believed, is that it is under a new name and at an increased price.

I wish to bring before the Undersecretary of State a circumstance that has been brought to my notice, namely, that there was a consignment of liquor sent out to Lagos, the chief port of Nigeria, and that the Nigerian Customs authorities declined to receive it as not conforming with the class of spirits that could be admitted. The spirit merchants concerned with these consignments appealed to the Colonial Office, and the Colonial Secretary, so I have been informed, released the shipment. I should like to know, first of all, why these shipments were stopped by the Customs authorities in Nigeria, whether I have given the correct reason, and why they were released by the Colonial Secretary. I should not have been so critical if the right hon. Gentleman's whole attitude towards this subject had not been most disappointing to those who are greatly interested in these matters. The Colonial Secretary has put up a great defence on many grounds for the continued importation of these strong liquors. I wish to refer to one or two of the reasons that he has given and that the Under-Secretary has given in Command Paper 2744. First of all the Colonial Secretary said: The injurious effects on natives of these imported spirits have been greatly exaggerated. It is not as if the results of the use of imported spirits were seriously detrimental to the natives who have been accustomed to them. The wild statements made by many in this country are greatly exaggerated and many of them entirely untrue. I think that the Under-Secretary, in giving a report of his Colonial travels, said that he had never seen a drunken man during his tour. I once heard about a traveller to the United States who reported that he had never seen a funeral in the six months that he was there. In all seriousness I should like to give an answer to that statement. I give it from the Bishop of Accra, in West Africa, and it appeared on 28th March last in the "Times." I think that the Bishop of Accra, who has been there many years, should be a greater authority on this subject than the Under-Secretary, who was just passing through and did not happen to see a drunken man. This is what the Bishop said: I wish that he could accompany me on a trek through the interior, and that he could spend, as I have spent, days in a village where a funeral custom is being celebrated. For a week at a time every man and woman and not a few of the children are drunk, some in a torpid and some in a raving condition. That is the kind of scene that burns itself into one's soul and make is impossible to adopt the academic attitude of your correspondent. Another argument used both by the Colonial Secretary and the Under-Secretary is that the moderate use of liquor is essential for the health of a very considerable proportion of Europeans working in the Tropics. It happens that the Government has already answered the very argument that is used by the Undersecretary. In a Handbook on the West African Colonies, issued by the Oversea Settlement Office, there appears on page 35 the following: Remember that alcohol is not a necessity in West Africa, except when given medically. Pay no attention to what you may hear to the contrary when on your voyage to the coast. In other words that means pay no attention to the Colonial Secretary and the Under-Secretary on these matters. I might quote from Sir Harry Johnston and many other authorities in regard to that matter. Another argument used by the two right hon. Gentlemen is that you cannot have freedom for the European, and prohibition for the African. That policy, according to the Under-Secretary, is politically, socially and morally impossible. But surely there is a higher standard than that. Surely the Europeans, in the interests of the nation, ought to bind themselves to a self-denying ordinance and do without alcohol, at least while among the natives. A further argument is that, if these spirits were not imported the natives would destroy the palm trees and take to wine, and the Under-Secretary states that, when fermented, palm wine is said to become a powerful intoxicant far more violent and lasting in its effects than European manufactured spirits, and that gin was probably a more wholesome and less dangerous form of spirit for those climates. If the native palm wine is so deleterious, it is a great wonder that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State did not see a drunk man during his tour.

I give an analysis which was made by Sir William McGregor when Governor of Lagos as to the amount of proof spirit in the various forms of palm wine. It ranged from 2.3 per cent. to 6.1 per cent., in cases where there had been seven days' fermentation, whereas the proof spirit in gin, as he analysed it, was 77.5 per cent. It is, surely, impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to say, in face of that analysis, that palm wine is more violent in its effects than gin. Again, a Committee of Inquiry into the liquor trade in Southern Nigeria sent home 14 samples of native palm wine and 120 samples of imported rum and gin. An analysis was made in the Government laboratory here and the average for the palm wine was 4.69 per cent. of proof spirit, while that for the rum and gin was 44.86 per cent. Another argument used in this matter relates to the revenue. I think it was the Secretary of State himself who said that as a result of the prohibition of trade spirits in Nigeria, the revenue had suffered a loss of £1,000,000 a year.

The argument, too, is commonly used that if we have not the revenue which comes from imported spirits, we must cut down grants for education, hospitals, sanitary improvements and road development. But if the natives were saved this expenditure of £2,500,000, they would have something to give to the Exchequer. I take the case of Nigeria, of which the right hon. Gentleman was speaking in this connection. While the importation of liquor was reduced from 3,509,344 gallons in 1914 to 378,781 gallons in 1924—a very large reduction indeed—trade increased in the same period from £13,511,117 to £27,959,414 and revenue was doubled—rising from £3,048,381 to £6,944,220. I should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman of a pronouncement which is too often forgotten in many quarters of the House of Commons, but which ought to be remembered especially by the Conservatives. When Sir Stafford Northcote was Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1874 he used words which are as applicable to West Africa as they were and are to Great Britain: If the diminution of revenue is due to a material and considerable change in the habits of the people and to increasing habits of temperance and abstinence from ardent spirits, then I venture to say that the amount of wealth which such a change would bring to the nation would utterly throw into the shade the amount now derived from the spirit duty; and we should not only see with satisfaction a diminution of the revenue from such a cause but we should find, in various ways, that the Exchequer would not suffer from the losses that it might sustain in that direction. Another argument is that prohibition is not to be thought of. The Under-Secretary said: Let me say at the outset that I am not a teetotaller myself and I have a very strong objection in principle to any endeavour to impose prohibition on people against their will. I regard prohibition in West Africa as impracticable, unnecessary and undesirable. I am not going to argue the general question of prohibition here, but I propose to give three lines of testimony as to the dire results of these imported spirits, and the demand which exists both in West Africa and here for their total prohibition—not mere restriction. The Under-Secretary, in that State Paper to which I have referred, says that it would be imposing restrictions on these natives which would be contrary to their wishes. I speak here of the Gold Coast, and I find that the Ga Matse of Accra, speaking at a meeting in Accra in December, 1920, at which many chiefs and others were present, said: Gin, rum and other spirits destroy the people…. Their race was being destroyed by it. Their fathers and forefathers were a strong healthy race but since spirits had been brought to them by the white man their race had suffered, for physically they were nothing compared with their fore-fathers…. Anything that could be done to stop these spirits from coming into Africa he would be grateful for. Sir Ofori Atta, the paramount chief of the Gold Coast, when visiting this country recently, took the opportunity, when addressing the West African section of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, to plead with the merchants, in the interests of the African people, to stop sending gin to his country, as it was a serious menace to the prosperity of his people. He said: If the Britisher, the Government or the unofficial community wanted the African to become the right type of man who would be useful to the Empire, the export of gin from this country must be stopped. It was not a trade that should be encouraged and if they stopped sending gin to West Africa, Holland would stop too. The same testimony comes from the native Press, or from that section of the Press which, I take it, represents the interest of the natives—perhaps I am not right in describing it as the native Press. The "Sierra Leone News" of 2nd October, 1926, in a leading article, says: The liquor traffic in West Africa is playing a rather disquieting role in the history of West African civilisation…. Despite Britain's unqualified antagonism against physical slavery it has not been able to maintain the same unadulterated policy with reference to the liquor traffic…. The liquor traffic has proved the most effective agency in demoralising and destroying the African peoples, whether they form the educated and articulate mass or the illiterate and inarticulate section. The "Gold Coast Times" of 13th March, 1926, in an article entitled "The Blot on British Civilisation," states: The liquor traffic is the greatest social evil, as insidious as the opium trade or the save trade, from which any enlightened government is bound to protect its people…. It calls upon the Government to forego the revenue from spirits, which it can well afford to do in order to save the situation as regards the racial deterioration which is being hastened by the consumption of liquor. My second line of testimony is that of the churches. I could produce statements from numerous church missionary stations and native churches, but I content myself by giving an extract from a letter written by the Bishop of Accra in the "Times" of 28th March last, because I think it is conclusive evidence of the support which exists for carrying out in its entirety the Covenant of the League of Nations in this matter. The Bishop wrote: The chiefs of the colony are unanimous in their desire for prohibition of the entry of all spirits into the country, and the striking gesture of Sir Ofori Atta, widely reported in the newspapers, on his return from England, has made a deep impression both in Africa and beyond it. The literate Africans are unanimously in favour of prohibition of spirits and I believe that I can claim to speak on their behalf, as one whose life of constant travelling enables him to know them intimately and well. Many of the traders themselves, as witness the speeches made at the farewell dinner to Sir Ransford Slater in Liverpool last October, are in favour of prohibition of spirits, although the profits of their business depend to no small extent on this very trade. All missionaries, all educationists and many Government officials are in favour of prohibition. My third line of testimony is from those at home who have made some study of this question. I think it was the Undersecretary who said that general prohibition was being advocated by some people chiefly resident in Great Britain. He cast a certain slur on those who are working on this question by saying that they were not in Africa, but I may remind him that those who took up the question of slavery were chiefly resident in Great Britain. My final quotation is from the Bishop of London, who is certainly not an extremist, and who has made a great study of this question. He said on 28th November last: We British people who stand for uprightness, sobriety and fair dealing with natives before the whole world, must keep our hands clean. We have to fight vested interests in this affair. Any nation that exploits natives in this way is a disgrace. I he committee were out to see that, as far as possible, this traffic was eradicated from all the native territories under British control. I have little to add. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last referred to us as the trustees of a great estate, and I think in connection with the Mandates we have a sacred trust to civilisation. I am one of those who believe that it is never right, for whatever benevolent reasons, to hold down any country by mere conquest. I believe the poorest and most backward people in the world have a fundamental and inalienable right to their own self-government. I believe, in the words of a great countryman of my own, that good government can never be a substitute for self-government. I believe it is our duty to nurse these backward peoples into a sense of citizenship and to build up, as I think was said by the right hon. Gentleman himself this afternoon, a sense of responsible self-government; but as long as we are governing them, let it be good government, not bad. Let us remember our sacred trust to civilisation. Let us not depress, let us not corrupt, let us not dissipate the natives, but let us do something to purify them and to uplift them in their march towards self-government, in their onward and upward march, slowly but surely, under our guidance, to a higher lot and a nobler and purer destiny.

Viscountess ASTOR

I want to say one word on this subject of selling drink to the natives. No one has a greater admiration than I have for the Colonial Office and their dealings generally with the Empire. I think they have given, in most cases, a marvellous government to the native races under their charge, but I must plead with them and beg them, when it comes to a question of the effect that drink has on the natives, to take the advice of people like the Bishop of Accra who care not only about the material development of the natives, but about their spiritual development as well. It is very difficult for people like myself, who have never been to these African Colonies, to put my views on the subject against those of the Colonial Secretary and the Under-Secretary, because I know they have both travelled far and wide, but I beg them to be advised, on this question of selling drink to the natives, by people like the Bishop of Accra. I do not for one minute believe that either the Colonial Secretary or the Under-Secretary has any vested interest in selling drink to the natives—of that I am perfectly convinced—but I do beg them to think for one moment, as no doubt they have done, of the effect of drink on the natives.

I was brought up among a coloured people in Virginia, and I know that the effect of drunkenness on coloured people is quite different from its effect on white people. It is bad enough, in all conscience, on white people, but it is five times worse on the coloured races, and I feel that it will be a blot on our administration in Africa unless we do everything we possibly can to discourage the sale of drink there, no matter what the revenue from it may be. We cannot raise these people as long as we are allowing them to get drink. I could give instances of its bad effect in every way wherever the white races have come into contact with coloured people, as, for example, in the case of the American Indians. I hope that, for the sake of the Empire, of which we are all truly proud—and we do not want to see one single blot on it—the right hon. Gentleman will realise that this is a question on which people could get very roused, and, if it is possible, that he and the Under-Secretary will take a stronger line, and anyhow give us more reasons than we have had up to now why they should not do more to discourage the selling of drink to the natives. I do not think that so far we have, had a good argument, or an argument that has been convincing, in favour of it, and at least the Government can prevent people pouring gin into these Colonies for no other purpose than their own private profit.

I hope, now that we have got such a very good Colonial Secretary and Undersecretary, men whose first interest, as we know, is for the glory of the British Empire, that something more will be done in this matter. There may be two views on this subject of drink, but I want to say that I am not speaking from a party point of view, because I know, to my cost, that no matter to what political party one may belong, when one touches the drink question, there are always two voices, though I wish there was only one. This is not a question of prohibition or of party politics, but simply a humane appeal to save these poor natives as much as possible from the disastrous effects of alcohol. I hope the Government will listen to the Bishop of Accra. Even if the right hon. Gentleman did not see anybody drunk while he was out there, I can only say that he was very fortunate. As the last speaker said, the Government should take the advice on this matter of those who live there and work with the natives, having one thought in their minds, and that is the desire to uplift them and make them ultimately able to govern themselves. I beg the Colonial Secretary to do what he can before he goes out of office, and so let it be on record that not only was he a splendid Colonial Secretary as far as Imperial interests are concerned, but also in regard to the spiritual welfare of these backward people.


I congratulate the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) on the courage which she always shows in tackling this question of drink in the face of overwhelming opposition, and I want to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) and the Noble Lady on that question; but the points that I wish to bring to the notice of the Committee will prevent me following that subject further. In connection with the most interesting survey which we have had from the Colonial Secretary, we have had numerous instances illustrating the fact that the British administration is to a large extent leading the way in the matter of the regulation of forced labour. It occurs again and again, in the Report of the International Labour Office on this subject, that we occupy a very leading place in this connection. I do not think, however, that we should be satisfied with merely leading the way in the regulation of forced labour in so far as we confine it to public works. We want to go a step further and recognise that these Colonies, particularly in the light of such discussions as we have had to-day, are on the threshold of immense industrial development, which will have a cumulative effect year by year; and my plea is that we should set an example to those who employ voluntary labour, by starting right off, in connection with all industries for which the State is responsible, in fixing and regulating the conditions of labour.

We want to prevent these Colonies having to go through the dreary process of the ordinary industrial countries, of a period of economic slavery, a period of sweated conditions of labour, a period which has the terrible effect of blighting whole generations of people. It is recommended, I notice, in the International Labour Office Report, that we should regulate the hours of labour straight away, and I hope the Undersecretary of State will be able to tell us that that is done, in connection with all public works, that we recognise that where emergencies require overtime, special payment should mark the fact that it is extra time that is being worked, and that we should start straight away with such protection as we have found in this country to be of advantage not merely to the worker, but ultimately to industry itself.

Really, there is no reason why we should not start the industrial life of these countries, out of the immense experience of suffering, misery, and degradation which industrialism in this country has taught us, in such a way that the childhood of the dark races may not be afflicted as the childhood of this nation was in the 19th century, but that they should have their full childhood and enter into their industrial experience only after having had the advantage of a developing educational system, which includes not merely the ordinary A B C, but technical instruction as well. It is the civilising influence of good working conditions, side by side with those other matters of moral and ethical conduct on the part of the white rulers and governors who enter into these countries, that we believe can be utilised enormously to accelerate the development of these people until they reach the point of full self-government. As model employers, the Colonial Office ought to set an example, not merely to the private employers there, but to the other countries of the world as well.

The other point that I wish to raise is one of congratulation on the Report of the Committee appointed by the Secretary of State to examine into the question of the Straits Settlements Ordinance, to be found in Command Paper No. 3294. I think I can say, not merely on behalf of the women of this House and of other hon. Members interested in the subject, but on behalf also of the women's organisations outside this House, with what great pleasure we all welcome this Report; and we hope very much indeed that the recommendations contained on pages 17 and 18 of the Report will be energetically put into operation by the Colonial Office. I am particularly pleased with the fifth recommendation, in which the Committee suggests: That the existing policy of the Chinese Protectorate in checking traffic in women and girls should be vigorously pursued, and that a Woman Assistant Protector with a sufficient staff of Chinese or Chinese-speaking trained workers should be added to the Department. I believe that that would be of immense advantage, of educational advantage and of safeguarding advantage, to the Malay States, and that it would be of immense improvement from the standpoints both of our prestige and of the example which could be set to other countries with similar problems confronting them. I do not wish to take up any further time, beyond expressing again my satisfaction with this Report and my hope that the Colonial Office will speedily give effect to it.

7.0 p.m.


I had not intended to speak in this Debate, but, on coming in, I heard the speech of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), and I must say that it was news to me that in any British Colony we allowed gin to be sold to the coloured races. In the only Colony I know about, which is Rhodesia, it is a very serious offence to do that. It is freely recognised that if you introduce potent excisable liquors to races which are not used to them, they will undoubtedly abuse them. Historically, it is known that when spirits were first introduced to the Australian aborigines, they drank themselves to death, and the same thing happened with the Red Indians in America. You have to safeguard all the backward races in this matter very carefully. I believe the United States of America are quite right in this matter and that they should have prohibition, because they are not sufficiently civilised to do without it. When you are dealing with people with the mentality of the Scots, who have the self-control to withstand the temptation, it does not matter, but it is a totally different thing when you come to races which are not of that mental calibre; and I was very shocked to hear that in any of our Colonies the sale of these spirits is allowed. In both Southern and Northern Rhodesia, and I believe in the South African Union generally, the very direst penalties are inflicted on white men who traffic in the sale of liquor to the natives. I think the penalty is still more drastic in the case of a black man. It is true they have their own brews and I know that, in the particular country with which I was connected, we had to go round occasionally to the compounds to see they were not making these brews too strong. But that is totally different from exporting a liquor like gin, which was introduced at the time of the Revolution by Dutch William and did much harm to our people. It was one of the penalties we have had to pay for the loss of the Stuart regime. It is very unfortunate that this should be allowed to continue, and I hope the Colonial Secretary will recognise the feeling of all countries that, in dealing with these native peoples, you are not dealing with people who have been acclimatised to drink for centuries, like the people in France and Italy have been accustomed to the use of wine, but that you are doing most deadly injury to them by allowing them to have these drinks. The conditions there are quite different from the conditions here where we have for centuries had opportunities of drinking. When you are dealing with—I will not call them the inferior races—different races, it is a very wrong thing to allow this.

The Noble Lady spoke about education. I hope we are not making the same mistake about education there that we have made here in taking boys at five and shutting them up in prisons until the age of leaving school, and thereby numbing their natural faculties and taking away from them opportunities to cultivate their natural powers of observation. In these great open spaces it is not necessary, as it may be in our towns where there is not room for them to go about, to shut up the children, and I hope they will not turn out so many of the clerical class as we do here. I was pleased to hear a reference to technical education. If we can teach the native to develop his handicrafts and his powers of observation and not mere book-learning, then we shall be developing the natives and raising them to a higher standard of life.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

It is delightful to hear for once in a way a Jacobite speaking in this House. I never heard the loss of the Stuart dynasty deplored here before, and I welcome this new school of thought The last time the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) and I opposed the sending of gin to Africa, the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) advocated sending whisky instead.


May I correct the hon. and gallant Gentleman? I said that if a dangerous commodity was to be sent, they ought to send Scotch whisky, especially if it is pot and not patent still, as it is infinitely more wholesome than gin.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am glad the hon. and learned Member has changed his opinion. If he will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will find that I was correct.

Viscountess ASTOR

He has changed.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Well, the Noble Lady has made a convert. If she has converted the hon. and learned Member for Argyllshire, she can even convert the hon. and gallant Member for West Stirling (Captain Fanshawe) as well. Now we know that only the Scots are fit to drink whisky, and we will have the hon. and learned Gentleman taking steps, if ever he is in a position to do so, to prevent the export of ardent spirits from his constituency all over the world.


There are Scots all over the world.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Then, I suppose, we shall have the spirits rationed according to the number of Scots and so much allowed for each man.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr James Hope)

We are dealing with the Colonies; we are not dealing with the world.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am sorry the Noble Lady is leaving the Committee, because I am going to say that I am surprised she did not take the opportunity of criticising the Conservative administration for not taking more drastic steps to deal with the scandal of Mui-Tsai in Hong Kong, of the female slaves in our ancient Crown colony in Hong Kong.

Viscountess ASTOR

I may say that I have never let them alone for a moment. The hon. and gallant Member ought not to take this moment to suggest that I am going back on a matter of such vital interest. The Government are doing all they can.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Well, I want them to do a great deal more than that. I shall not go into the question of Mui-Tsai in Hong Kong, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can promise any more drastic steps to deal with the slave traffic in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, particularly the Red Sea. I do not want to go into it in detail because it partly concerns the Admiralty as well as the Colonial Office. More active steps should be taken to stop this traffic in human beings, many of whom are our own subjects from British Somaliland. It is a disgraceful thing with all the resources we have now, with the seaplanes we could use, that this terrible traffic in these unfortunate human beings still goes on, through Italian Somaliland and French territory and in some cases, through our own.

I want to say a word about a matter concerning the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and I am sorry he is not here, as I gave him notice I would raise the matter, though perhaps the message did not reach him. I must make some protest, as one who was for 40 years a member of the Liberal party, having been born into it, against this new doctrine initiated by the right Hon. Gentleman in a speech during the week-end. The right hon. Gentleman, who should be proud of the Empire, with which the Liberal party have had far more to do in its preservation and development than the Tory party, made an extraordinary speech at Pembroke, in which he criticised the Prime Minister for boasting, quite rightly, about the export of bicycles to our West African Crown Colonies. I agree with the Prime Minister and I am glad of these exports, because the bicycle is the one mechanical road vehicle that is not protected by the present Government, and yet we are increasing the export trade in them. It is a very laudable thing that we should be sending out bicycles to the natives, as it shows that they are getting an economic wage and are able to purchase bicycles. What says the right hon. Gentleman with whom I was long in political association though he was never my leader? I was a follower of the late Earl of Oxford. I was in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman when he was Prime Minister and would be so again if he was Prime Minister. What does he say? "These niggers buying push-bikes." Those are the words the right hon. Gentleman uses. We have an Empire which, I believe, comprises about 400,000,000 persons whose skins are not the colour of ours, but who are the King's subjects, who fire British subjects, and, if they can buy our goods, so much the better.

One of the opinions held on these benches is that one great cure for unemployment in this country would be to develop a greater trade with our great tropical dependencies and, by raising the purchasing power of these West African and East African colonies, enable them to buy gramophones, motor cars, better furniture, and so on. That is a sensible colonial policy to follow, yet here we have the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs talking about niggers, an insult to the brave coloured soldiers of the West African rifles, of the West Indian regiments, and of the other coloured regiments. They serve their King just as well as his subjects with white skins. I protest against those words as one who was for 40 years a Liberal. Such a thing was never said on these benches. There has never been a jeer from any Member of the Labour party.

Turning to another part of the world, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman about certain developments in Iraq. What is happening with regard to the oilfield in the Mosul Vilayet? This is a very important question indeed. You have to-day the formation of an oil ring, and the major sources of supply are controlled by this international ring, so that the consumer of petrol, of heavy oils, of lubricating oils, of paraffin and so on, is at the mercy of this ring. It is an international monopoly and almost complete. In the Mosul Vilayet there is a great new proved field of petroleum deposits. Is it a fact that they have been deliberately closed down? I freely admit I was one of those who was very sceptical from what I heard from well-informed authorities about there being any oil in Iraq at all. I stand in a white-sheet now. I was misled by those who knew the country, and believed there was none there. A great new oilfield has been proved which may help to relieve the world situation. Can he tell us what is the extent of this field? Is it really a very valuable field? I am told it is a greater field than the South Persian field. If that is so, why has production been stopped? If it is because it is necessary to build a pipeline to the Levant, why has not that been done? Is it because a decision has not been reached as to where the pipeline is to go?

I hope there is no question of any opposition from any of our partners in the Middle East. I hope, for example, that the French Government, for whom we have done so much and to whom we have been so extraordinarily generous, are not going to hold up this necessary development because, if so, the French taxpayer will be brought to see that he will presently be squeezed by the oil ring in the same way. As long as the price of oil is fixed on the Gulf of Mexico price, the present Government apparently can do nothing. If this oil could be shipped from the Middle East to the Mediterranean ports and to this country, we could prevent a further rise in petrol prices, and, after all, petrol to-day under modern conditions is almost as necessary as water.

If we are to develop our modern Empire—I do not like to use the word "Empire," but it is obviously necessary in this connection—it will be necessary in the future to build a railway from the great new deep-water port at Haifa across the hinterland to Bagdad and Mosul, and this railway will join up with the Persian and with the Indian railway systems. There will then be direct communication between Persia, Iraq, India and the Mediterranean. That is a great piece of Imperial development. I suppose that the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office have studied it and have plans worked out for it, but obviously a great future development of railway transport in the Middle East is going to be of immense value to British trade and influence in that part of the world. Are we still pressing the Iraq Government to impose conscription on the subjects of the King? If so, I must protest, for it is a scandalous thing. We have been making a show of protest against conscription in Europe, and for us to press it on Iraq is deplorable.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)

I do not quite follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Are we still pressing, as was the case recently, conscription upon the Iraq Government?


I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman has any grounds for using the word "still." So many answers on the question have been given in the House that he is obviously at fault.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

On the contrary, I have raised the matter on the Floor of the House and the Colonial Secretary has excused the policy of the Middle East Department for pressing conscription. I have protested and asked if it is right to press at Geneva for its abolition and to defend it in Iraq, but the Colonial Secretary has said that the conditions are different. I hope that such is not the case, and that we have dropped this deplorable attitude. Another question which I should like to ask is, why we have no representative at the Court of Ibn Saud. Here we have a man on whose policy depends the peace of the whole of that part—


That is a matter for the Foreign Secretary.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I thought that it came within the Middle East Department, because the Colonial Secretary mentioned it. I want to conclude with a few sentences about Palestine. For some nine years the Conservative party have been very hostile to the declared policy of successive British Governments in Palestine. I say the Conservative party, because the declared attitude of the Conservative leaders has been altogether correct, but certain Conservatives in the rank and file have lost no opportunity of hindering, first of all, the Rutenberg Concession. Mr. Rutenberg is one of the most remarkable electrical engineers of the age, and, when I last saw him, he asked me to see his dynamos. I said, "No, you are the dynamo I want to see"—for he is a human dynamo. He is doing a tremendous work in the Middle East in electrical development, and both in another place and here certain members of the party opposite have lost no opportunity in pin-pricking and obstructing Mr. Rutenberg. The same thing has been done with regard to Mr. Novo-meysky. The flower of the Conservative party were tremendously anti-Semetic as regards Palestine until the potash deposits were proved in the Red Sea, and then they complained because Mr. Novomeysky had a contract for their development and was being supported by the Colonial Office. I am very glad that the Colonial Office have supported him, and I am glad to hear that he has powerful support in the City of London, and that the curious efforts of the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Colonel Howard-Bury) have failed.

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government cannot go a little further in Palestine. It is high time for them to take a step forward. The "Clear out of Palestine!" cry has been stopped. None of the papers normally supporting the Conservative party are now voicing that cry. The programme of the Balfour Declaration is accepted by the Conservative and Opposition parties, and the Government can with safety, without any fear of sniping in this country, make a forward move in Palestine and show a rather more friendly attitude towards the Jewish settlers there. In saying "friendly attitude" I am speaking at first hand. I revisited Palestine two years ago after a lapse of 20 years, and I was amazed at the wonderful progress that had been made. There was a country that had not only suffered from centuries of Turkish misrule and oppression, but was devastated by a very hard-fought campaign during the War—poverty-stricken, disease-ridden, all the timber obliterated, the ancient drainage system in fragments, without roads except military roads, and altogether in a deplorable condition; and now, in a comparatively short space of seven or eight years, wonders have been worked. How has it been done? It has been done by the energy and the devotion of a comparatively small number of pioneers who went to develop our mandated territory in Palestine with money that they had raised from all over the world, from poor and rich people in England, from poor and rich people in America and South Africa, and from the most poverty-stricken Jewish people in Poland, Russia, Rumania and elsewhere.

They raised £10,000,000 in hard cash, and it has been put into our mandated territory by these people. They have picked the finest of the young men and girls in their teens and early twenties, physically strong, well educated, very often with university degrees, and they have gone out as pioneers and have drained the swamps and built the roads, cultivated the country and transformed the whole face of the mandated area. I was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman in his speech was not a little more generous. I had to remind him that not only is Palestine to-day paying its way, including the cost of the British garrison or an Air Force—for there is no British garrison—but it is the only part of the former Ottoman dominions that is paying its share of the interest on the Ottoman debt to this country. The country enjoys complete tranquility and a growing trade, and that is largely as the result of the efforts of these Jews who wish to restore their ancient national home in what was the land of their forefathers. I would have thought that they would have been received and helped in the most generous and sympathetic spirit, but what are the facts? I do not think that either the Colonial Secretary or the Under-Secretary is personally to blame for what has gone on.

The policy of the Government's administration in Palestine should have been far more generous. I want to instance only two examples. The first is the question of land. When the Canadian Government wish to attract settlers to, say, the Peace River district, they offer land on most easy terms, practically for nothing, and they excuse the settlers from taxes for a term of years; they also sell implements and seeds on easy terms and make everything easy for them. In Palestine, land has to be bought at its market value, and it is taxed from the very beginning, and where Crown lands have been available, I think that the Government might have taken steps so that part, at any rate, of them were reserved for Jewish settlers. I do not want to go into the question of the Beizan lands; they have been handed over to squatters for grazing their cattle, and they are being wasted by these Bedouins. They are Crown lands that could have been handed over to the Zionist settlers, but perhaps it has gone too for to do much there. There are the other lands, the Huleh lands to the north of the Sea of Galilee, a great swampy area which cannot be used now, but the Zionist settlers are prepared to drain these lands at their expense and labour, and make them fertile and fruitful again, if they can have the land afterwards. These are Crown lands, and I understand that there is some friction, and I want to know what it is. Now is the time for a little generosity.

I want to take this opportunity of protesting against what I consider the unsympathetic treatment of the Jews over the controversy of the Wailing Wall. The Wailing Wall of the Temple is the most sacred spot to the Jewish race the world over, and on their most sacred feast, the Day of Atonement, we had these regrettable incidents in which, because temporary shelters had been placed against the Wall, the Arab police were allowed to drive away the worshippers and remove these screens. I understand that the matter has engaged the attention of the Government, but that this kind of thing could happen, that the Jews' most sacred feast could be interrupted in that way—and I am told that it never happened under Turkish rule, the Turks as between one religion and another keeping the peace very well indeed—but that that kind of thing could happen, shows that something is wrong somewhere in the Palestinian administration. Somewhere a spark of anti-Semiticism is still smouldering and its smoke is seen in incidents like that of the Wailing Wall. We are in a difficult position in these contests between religions, but I am informed that the status quo, which was only violated in theory for 48 hours by a temporary structure by the Jewish worshippers, has been violated in a far more violent way by the Moslem authorities actually adding a masonry course on the top of the Wall. They have never got satisfaction from the Colonial Office as to what we are doing about this far more serious disturbance of the status quo.

If we mean to keep the status quo strictly, let it be done tactfully, but let it also be done on both sides, and if the Moslems are infringing the status quo, they must kindly and sympathetically be made to desist also. Let us have fair play all round. I have hesitated to raise this matter but I think it is necessary that the local officials in Palestine, who apparently still do not understand that all parties in this House are committed to fulfilling the spirit and letter of the Balfour pledge, should know that when such things are done they will be raised in this House. We are responsible for the mandate. We are in honour committed to carrying out the pledge that was given by Lord Balfour, and when we feel that the spirit of that pledge is being violated it is our duty to protest. In what I have said I have had no desire to embarrass the right hon. Gentleman. I believe he agrees with these protests. It is for this House to show that we are jealous of the honour of Britain, and that, if we think it is being betrayed in any way, that betrayal will be resented by the elected representatives of the British people.


Before saying what I have risen to say, I would like to express the interest I felt in the story which was unfolded to us this afternoon by the Secretary of State. I am sure it was of interest to every Member. Having said that, I wish to relate a little experience of my own from which I have drawn a lesson. I had the opportunity of visiting the little island of Raratonga in the Pacific, which is under New Zealand rule—really, British rule. There I saw a form of government which seemed so excellent that I could hardly believe it. The island, on which I spent a few hours, is not so large as the Isle of Bute in Scotland, I think and it has a comparatively small population of people of the Maori race. I saw there houses, standing each in about three-quarters of an acre or an acre of ground, of such a nature that I jumped to the conclusion that they must be the homes of white settlers. I was surprised and delighted to learn shortly afterwards that they were the homes of the Maori people. Native boys and girls and young men were riding about on bicycles, and everywhere there seemed to be an air of comfort and prosperity, and, coupled with that comfort and prosperity a happiness such as I have not seen in my own country. I felt proud to be called a Britisher, because what I saw was a great credit to our race. The children were being properly educated and taught the English language, and their approach towards strangers like myself was not the approach of those of a subject race but the approach of those feeling a sense of equality. What is true of the children was equally true of the older people.

Later, I was in Fiji, and on that occasion I saw something very different under British rule. I saw there indentured Indian coolies who had been brought to work in the sugar plantations. Their homes were a disgrace to any race. I never thought that anywhere on this earth people could be living in such miserable dwellings—bits of corrugated iron, bits of tin boxes, hammered together, with neither light nor air. There was not the vestige of a window in the houses. In contrast with these, the dwellings of the native Melanesians were of an architecture and character suitable for the people themselves. I was glad to see the reward they were getting for having brought indentured labour there. The Indian coolie is supplanting the white settler, because of his ability to live under the conditions of life there and to produce sugar cane cheaper for the great Australian monopoly. In that way retribution was overtaking the dominant white race. I should be glad to know whether we are taking any steps to stop that indentured labour in Fiji. I am sure the House would be glad to learn that it has been stopped, both there and in other parts of the world.

I come to another part of the world, which I have not had the opportunity of seeing, but of which I have read in books, and that is Kenya. British rule is dominant in nearly the whole of Africa, but I think Kenya is particularly the black spot with regard to British rule, so far as I have read. We have dispossessed the people of their land, and have put upon them taxes which have forced them to labour for the handful of 2,000 white people who rule in that great territory. I understand we have stopped compelling them by force to labour for the white people, but through the taxation we have imposed upon them, while depriving them of their lands, we have brought about the same results. If any people have a right to the land in Kenya, surely it is those who, according to all the historical information we have, have occupied that country for a very long time. I hope that a step forward is being taken towards depriving the white man of his domination in that country, and that more will be done towards putting the black man, the coloured man, back on the land under the conditions which obtained previously, and that gradually but surely we shall approach the conditions I have pictured as obtaining in Raratonga in the Southern Pacific.

In this House we have some 600 Members responsible for the ruling and the guidance of vast territories scattered throughout the seven seas, big bits of territory and little specks of territory—little bits of rock and mud sticking up in a big ocean. In the course of the Debate to-day we have heard of places of which many of us on these benches do not know the precise location. We are not sure whether Honduras is an island or on the continent of America, or whether it is in Central America or Southern America. We are not quite sure where Trinidad is, or British Guiana. When we are speaking about the British Colonies or the British Dominions these places are merely names to us. Having had better luck than the great majority of my fellows, since I became a Member of this House I have had the opportunity of seeing a portion of this great heritage of ours, and I think something should be done to assist other Members to gain similar knowledge. We ought to know the climate of these places, the configuration of the territory and its peculiarities, we ought to know the people there and know what the places produce, and then when a Debate of this kind came on, we should not have to sit here in ignorance, just listening to so much being said and to the names of so many places being mentioned, going away afterwards with a feeling that it has all been very interesting, just as a story told to us as children in school was interesting, and then returning to the subject the next year without knowing anything more about it. I hope that those in authority, whether it be this Government or a future Government, will feel that if we are to have control of the destinies of other people the Members of this House, who are ultimately responsible to those people, and to our people, shall have an opportunity of seeing those parts of the world. Then, whether we fail or whether we succeed, we shall at least have acted with some knowledge of the countries over which we exercise control.


I am more cheerful than I was about this afternoon's Debate. It seems to me that the party to which I have the honour to belong not only knows something about the government of our Colonial Empire, but also has the right views on it. I am the more cheered because we began with the most depressing speech to which I have ever listened from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I wish he were here now. He told us of a long list of things that we had got, or might get, out of the Colonies, with a long list of the expenses of the Colonies to us. Really, that is not what we expect in this House from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He is not a tradesman balancing his accounts. He is responsible for the government of very nearly 100,000,000 people, and when we debate Colonial Office affairs we should be considering those people and not their value to us. This is the more regrettable because the Secretary of State, when he gets outside this House, when he is editing his speeches, delivered all over the Empire, or writing articles for the "Times," can then be a statesman with vision and a mission. It is only when he comes to the House of Commons that he becomes a commercial traveller. I resent this all the more because I know that that is not the true Secretary of State, and, when he gives us the kind of thing that he has given us to-day, we know that he is really trying to come down to what he thinks is our level. The public are looking forward to something better than the speech which has been made by the Colonial Secretary to-day, and I regret that the last speech which the right hon. Gentleman is ever likely to make as Colonial Secretary should have been a poor statement about a balance-sheet dealing with pounds, shillings, and pence. We are responsible for the welfare of all these millions of people, and the government of them is the business of the House of Commons.

I hope, in the first place, that we shall not get from this, or any Government that succeeds it, a policy of the amalgamation of the Colonies, which would have the effect of depriving this House of control over them. The more governors we have the more will they tend to compete against each other in excellence, and in trying to bring up their Colonies to a better standard. No one who knows India to-day can do anything but regret that we have a centralised government there instead of a number of separate provinces with governors, each trying to do their best, instead of waiting for orders from Simla. If we keep our small Colonies and maintain a healthy competition among them, we shall avoid creating new bothers between ourselves and our people.

Ceylon interests me, because there you have a country on the verge of nationhood. The British Commission under Lord Donoughmore brought forward a most courageous Report which I should never had dreamed of expecting from a Conservative Government. That Report shows that England is acting honestly when she says she is anxious to put our subject rates in a position to govern themselves, and that we really do desire to keep all these free peoples within our Empire. The Government have managed to hold up the adoption of the Donoughmore Report, and the Colonial Secretary says that he is waiting for the Report of the Government. I know what that Report will be. The Government of India and the Colonial Secretary will resent and resist the conclusions of the Donoughmore Report and the reforms which have been based on that Report, and it will be forgotten. That is not a satisfactory solution. The people of Ceylon have seen in this Report the dawn of the possibility of economic freedom, and, if we postpone the introduction of that Report, we shall deprive the working people of Ceylon—the peasant and the industrial worker—of their chance of protecting themselves in the coming economic struggle to which the hon. Lady the Member for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield) referred. It seems to me that we are about to deprive ourselves of the credit of passing a Measure which would set up distinctly self-government for the first time among the coloured people in the British Empire.

I turn from Ceylon, which has been so excellently dealt with by previous speakers, to Palestine. I want to call the attention of the Colonial Secretary to Palestine, because I do not think we are doing our duty to those people. Lots of people in this House and elsewhere keep on asking, "Why do you bother about the Jews; what business is it of yours?" There are two reasons why we are bothering about the Jews, and bothering about the success of the colonisation of Palestine. On the Labour Benches in particular, we are international, and, when we remember the conditions under which the Jews have lived for centuries in Poland, Russia and Rumania, where they have been deprived of any chance of economic freedom, and we have a chance of establishing these people under the British flag upon a freehold where they can become producers for themselves and real pioneer settlers on the land; when we have this chance of providing a refuge and freedom, I think we ought to seize the opportunity. It is deplorable that we are not taking this opportunity of providing freedom for an oppressed people, and at the same time providing for Great Britain a great future.

We are on the threshold of the development of a new Empire. Somebody wrote recently that the British Empire has so far been built up by the Scottish people, who have been the carriers of British culture to all the empty spaces of the earth, and there are no empty spaces left now to which the Scottish people can carry the English traditions of justice and freedom. If we can cement this alliance with the Jews by dealing fairly with them in Palestine and establishing there and in the Middle East new centres to which our ideas can permeate—not to the empty spaces of the world, but to the oriental spaces—if we see to it that the Jews take the place of the Scots in carrying out our ideas, then we shall build up a future race of which we shall have every reason to be proud. I hope we shall put an end to that detestable sloppish attitude of anti-Semitism which is at the bottom of the whole of the lack of co-operation that we see in Palestine.

We know perfectly well that the great hope of the future is that England and America will come together to regulate the peace of the world because we can move society on to different standpoints. The friendship between England and America cannot be better cemented than cementing it with the Jewish people throughout the world. For these reasons, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether we ought to miss this great chance. I have no hesitation in saying that there is throughout Palestine and this country an atmosphere of hostility on this subject which is largely based upon religious prejudice which I detest, because it is based upon the sloppish fear of what somebody else will say about us if we treat the Jews as we treat Scotsmen. If we are really anxious to help these people, then we must look upon them as though they were Scots. We have not only to adopt a completely different attitude towards the Jews in Palestine, but we have to change the attitude of the British administration towards the people there, because at present it is a sort of super-quintessence of obscurantism. Every religious sect in Palestine has settled down with a vested interest in preserving the particular formula of each church and their particular dogmas, with the result that you have in Palestine more anti-Semitism than can be seen, I will not say in Hungary, but more than you have in this country or in America. Of course, there is no country where this attitude of anti-Semitism among white European people is more dangerous and damaging than it is in Palestine where all the high officials are English, and, if they have to live in an atmosphere of stories about Jews, they cannot possibly be on such terms of friendship with the new settlers as will promote co-operation.

8.0 p.m.

I will give the Committee a definite example of what this hostility means. The Wailing Wall was an example. I do not say that the Government were wrong or right in that case, but it was a sample of the attitude of the Government towards the Jews and the growing hostility towards them. Take the atmosphere of hostility in regard to roads. The two most important cities in Palestine are Haifa and Tel Aviv. Road making has been going on all over the country. The chief road which is most needed is from Haifa to Tel Aviv, but that road has not been made and this shows the extreme difficulties which have to be faced. There may be adequate reasons for it, but naturally the Jews say that, when the Government builds roads, they go through all the Arab towns and villages, but that any roads that suit the Jews, such as roads down the Yemen, from Haifa to Acre, or from Haifa to Tel Aviv, are not made, because they would help the Jews. Again, take the case of taxation. No one could conceive of more unjust taxation than prevails in that country to-day. It is directed directly against the Jews—a survival of Turkish times, of course. I allude to the tax called the Werko, which is a tax on the capital value of real estate, that is to say, on houses and land. The valuation was made 25 years ago, and, consequently, is completely out of date. When it was originally made, those people who contributed sufficient money managed to get their properties assessed at an artificially low figure. That valuation, however, which is completely out of date, and was originally inaccurate, is continually brought up to date by the British Government, and, whenever any property changes hands, the price at which it changes hands is inserted in the valuation, so that side by side you may have two properties, one which changed hands recently and is valued at £10,000, and another which has never changed hands at all, or has only been leased, and is valued at £10. The tax is levied on these identical properties at the same percentage rate, with the result that everyone who buys new property, or puts up a factory or a house, is penalised by a tax at least 10 times heavier, very often far more than the property itself or neighbouring property bore before, and more than is borne by their competitors at the present time.

People may ask, why is this done? The answer, as given by the Jews, is perfectly simple. They say that they are the newcomers, and have to build or to buy in order to live in the land, and, therefore, the taxation is arranged so that they have to pay 10 times more on their property than other people pay on similar properties. It is inconceivable that such a monstrous injustice should endure, and yet it has been going on for 10 years, and the Government have not altered it yet. They keep on saying that they are going to alter it, but they have not done so. I merely give these two cases as illustrations of the undoubted fact that there is an atmosphere of hostility between the administration and the Jews. It is felt by the Jews, and, although not admitted by the officials, it seems to be obvious from the injustice that exists. In the neighbouring Turkish territory—in that part of the Turkish territory which is occupied by the French, in that part, namely, Tripoli, which is occupied by the Italians, in Syria, in Algeria, in Morocco—over all that territory, in the old days, this system of taxation was universal. Every other country, including Turkey, has abolished it, but the two taxes, the tithe and the Werko, whose incidence ruins the chance of developing the country as a new centre, still endure in Palestine.

What is the reason for this? The reason is very largely that, as things are at present, the Jews regard it as their special duty to develop Palestine. The Zionist organisation pays for the education of Jews, the immigration of Jews, research stations, buys the land, and does all the colonisation work which in normal countries is done by the Government, and the British officials regard the care of the Jews, the development of their settlements, their education, and their health, as matters which do not concern the Government. The business of the Government is to look after the Arabs, and the Jews can look after themselves, so that the very expensive administration of the Zionist organisation in Palestine is, as it were, a rival of the work of the British Government. If you look through the last Report on Palestinian administration, that for 1927, you will find long descriptions of the excellent work done by the British administrators in regard to health, education, research and so on—all done purely for the Arabs. There is not one word about what they have done for the Jews. They do say that they have provided £20,000 as a grant-in-aid of Jewish education, but evidently they do not regard the development of the Jews as the business of the Government. That is very natural, because things have grown up like that, but the very fact that this kind of rivalry exists prevents the co-operation which is absolutely essential for the satisfactory colonisation of Palestine, and it also prevents friendly feeling between the different sets of administrators in Palestine.

The other difficulty is that the Jews are, of course, in Palestine, the higher civilisation. It is inevitable that all who have to administer other peoples should prefer to have, as the objects of their administrartion, people who are docile, people who will obey orders, people who will be duly grateful, people who will adjust themselves to the mould in which the governing class wish them to be. Any English-man would prefer to govern Indians, or Arabs, or Egyptians, rather than people who criticise, people who complain, people who make a row. It is inevitable that that should be so, but we must realise that human nature is built like that, and take account of that preference for keeping Palestine an oriental country, and we must not fall into that as the aim and object of British policy. I am pretty confident that the right hon. Gentleman himself and the Under-Secretary are determined to make Palestine develop into a self-governing country which shall take its place as one of the free self-governing Dominions of the British Empire. That is their intention, and I tell them that they are risking their goal by allowing this antagonism, this dissatisfaction with the British administration in Palestine, to grow.

They know to-day that they have no friends among the Arab intelligentsia. If they could be polled to-morrow, they would say, "Leave this country, and leave us to rule it." Whether in Palestine, or Egypt, or India, or Iraq, the Moslem and the Arab do not want British rule. Are you going to allow the other element in the Palestinian population gradually to grow into the same attitude, and also to take up the line that they do not want British rule? Are the Government going to unite together the two elements and then hang on by force, as we are doing in India, in Egypt, or in Iraq, against the united will of the people—hang on governing the country, but losing that far more important element, the friendship of a great and growing people? We do not want to have growing up in Palestine the same feeling towards English rule that has grown up in India, in Egypt and elsewhere.

If we are not to get that state of things, for goodness sake let the Government change their attitude towards the Jewish colonisation of Palestine, or, rather, let them make their administration in Palestine change its attitude. How can that attitude be changed? What is wanted is a change of spirit towards Jewish colonisation. As regards a change of spirit in England, we can see about that here; it will come as people become more and more free from the old obsession of the inferiority of the Jew. I think the best way to get that change of spirit is by the Government here letting it be known to the administration there what their ultimate object is in Palestine. They have only to say, "We want you to co-operate in the settlement of Palestine by Jews; do so in so far as you can without injuring the present native inhabitants of Palestine."

Fair taxation would be an admirable sample of what we could do. Let the present directly unjust taxation be abolished. I think it was the Undersecretary who told me the other day that they were pressing on with the change in the tithe, but they are pressing on with it too slowly. They passed the Compounding of Tithe Act in 1927, but, so far, nothing has been done, or, when I say that nothing has been done, it has been applied merely to a handful of villages. It could have been applied at once in every one of these Jewish villages. There is no question of land tenure or anything of that kind. Fair taxation is the first step, and then there is the question of a loan. The right hon. Gentleman told me the other day that it was impossible that any loan could be made in order to facilitate Jewish settlement. He said in his speech to-day that one of the great difficulties which Palestine has had to go through lately has been that there are too many people coming into the country. What a funny complaint! Believe me, the growth of population is a very useful thing for a country. Palestine would be much more prosperous if it had twice the population that it has to-day. The real difficulty is that it is no use getting people into the country if you lock up the land of the country and will not let them use it.

The land in Palestine is locked up. The area that is cultivated is minute compared with the area of the country. At the present time the Effendis, who are often Syrian, and not even Palestinian, own hundreds of thousands of acres of land and keep it idle. They do not use it, they pay no taxes whatever, and they charge the unfortunate Jewish settler £20 an acre for absolutely raw land, land that I could get in South Africa or Rhodesia for £1 an acre. The result is that the land is there, and the unfortunate unemployed settlers are there, and there is nothing to bring them together. If the Government really want to show the Jews of the world that they are, as an English Government, anxious to help the settlement of Palestine by Jews without injuring the present natives or turning them off a square inch of land which they are now cultivating, let them make it known that there will be a loan—combined with the normal administrative pressure that is so possible in order to get the land at a reasonable price—to equip the land, and to enable the Jews who want to go to Palestine to become useful, productive workers on it.

At the present time this is done almost exclusively by the Zionist administration. Charitable people contribute the funds, and I regret to say that, when charity contributes the funds, there is very little pressure or tendency to pay interest on the money advanced or to repay the loan. With a Government Department, using ordinary business methods, interest would be paid and the capital would be repaid just as surely by Jewish peasants in Palestine as by the peasants settled in Macedonia by Sir John Campbell, on money borrowed in this country. The whole objection that has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman is that it would not be fair to have a loan secured on the land and guaranteed by the Palestine Government if it was only to be used for Jewish settlement. The Jews pay nearly all the taxation at present. If accounts balance, it is due to the way the Jews have poured money into the country and are working in it. Prima facie it is a bad case. I am certain the right hon. Gentleman would not apply that principle to any other Colony or Dominion. Where it is possible to get new settle, ment, the Government are only too anxious to provide loans to acquire land and stock farms. In Kenya it is all right In Palestine it is all wrong.

We lent money to the orthodox Greek Church. It had broken off from Russia, of course, and was in low water. We appointed a commission, presided over by the Treasurer of Palestine, to look after its finances on the security of the lands of the Greek Church guaranteed by the Government of Palestine. No one said a word against that. The same principle that was good enough for the orthodox Greek Church ought to be good enough for the Jewish people in Palestine. In the last report, they were providing loans for the Arab peasants in Palestine to assist them over bad times. If you are providing loans guaranteed on the security of the taxes in order to assist the settlement of Arabs on new lands, surely you should provide the same assistance to the Jews to settle in that land too. In doing this, you are not hurting the Arab. It is no use attempting that excuse. You are providing them with fresh markets and fresh examples. Compare the condition of the fellaheen in Palestine with the condition of the Arab peasant in Egypt, where we have been for 45 years doing nothing, and see how much higher up in the scale of civilisation is the Arab peasant of Palestine compared with the man living on the verge of starvation in Egypt. Then come and tell me that the immigration of Jews into Palestine has been a bad thing for the Arabs. It has been the salvation of those Arabs. The Arab workers in the towns, in the same trade unions as the Jews, are striding in seven league boots from the Seventeenth Century to the Twentieth. There is no excuse for it except this snobbish fear of what the other countries of Europe will think if we try to help the Jews. It has been brought up to me that at the League of Nations there would be a complaint that we were assisting the Jews. Let them complain, but let us do justice.

The next thing I mention with a great deal of hesitation. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the Palestine Judiciary is not perfect. There have been scandals in Palestinian magisterial circles, and I am sorry to say the stories are worse now than they were then. There is still about the administration of justice in that country a sort of oriental taint, which 10 years of British rule ought to have eliminated. I think the right hon. Gentleman might listen to the experiences of other people, and indeed his own experience in early life, as to the best way of putting those things right. He knows that in South Africa resident magistrates combined the functions of resident commissioners or assistant commissioners with that of magistrates. We were the executive heads of the various districts in the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal. As such, we had all the various branches of the administration more or less under our control. You have a precedent in your Colonial Service for the best type of Englishman we produce. I am a little nervous about the new commission we are setting up. Give these men a chance. You have in the Englishmen in Palestine some of the best material for Empire building that you have anywhere in the world; and you are wasting their time. They are doing their best. If you give them the executive headship, the business of judging as well as administering their localities, you will get much better work done, you will train up the administrators for higher posts much better and you will get absolute honesty in the administration of justice. You have not got it at present. These Jews from Poland and elsewhere have always said that an Englishman can be everything that is bad but he will be honest. Put these men into that position. They will not get the temptations, and they will remain honest, and that will be the best proof that England and the Jews are really working together. Build up for yourself, first out of the English and then out of the Palestinians, a sound, honest administrative service which will play the game, not only for the Jews but also for Great Britain.

The other thing I want to refer to is really of more general interest. Anyone looking at that Report of 1927 cannot fail to be shocked at the Report on education. The figures for the Jewish schools are given, but no figures are given for the Arab schools at all. In both cases, the education in English is obviously ruled out as a matter of no importance. The Report says: All Government teachers of English are Arabs and most still imperfectly equipped. I should think they were, from what I saw of them. They could not speak a word of English. At the Jewish schools, the English is much below the proper standard. We have been in Egypt for the best part of 50 years. They cannot talk a word of English in that country. They talk a bad kind of French instead. They are beginning it in Palestine now. More French than English is spoken. Why can we not teach them the only language in which they will ever be able to become self-governing? I would ask the Committee, and particularly my colleagues on these benches, to consider whether the only way in which we can finally enable the native of Africa or Asia to stand up for his rights and secure justice in the economic struggle is not by giving him an education in English. When he can once read, I am sure he will be able to look after himself. You know perfectly well that the garrison of India, the people of India who wish India would not be such a nuisance and would be quietly governed, deplore the fact that we have taught the Indians English, and they are beginning the same attitude towards education in Kenya. Your settlers in Kenya, the people who bear the black man's burden and all the rest of it, are urging that the natives should be taught Swahili. They fear lest they should learn English. The people who live on buying the cheap labour of coloured people want those coloured people to be as ignorant and uneducated as possible. That is just the reason why I say teach then English first. Then they will be able to look after themselves.

I went the other day to Hawaii, in the Sandwich Islands, which is part of the United States. There they have taken the native population and made them into—I will not say white men, but a civilised, self-respecting, self-reliant people—free American citizens. Of course, they do not speak any language but English. I should like to see in our Colonial Empire more effort made to teach the natives the useful trades to which the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady referred. Teach people to think in English, to think about justice, to think about freedom. That is the foundation of any possible real civilisation of the native races in our Empire. Both in Palestine, in Kenya, and on the West Coast in Nigeria give these people what they want—a knowledge of English. The position was pathetic in Burma. I found the children at the college there on strike because they were not allowed to be taught English. In Palestine, it is the same. The one hope of getting away from where they are is to learn English. Then they can migrate to America. Then they can take Government posts. Then they can cease to be an Eighteenth Century proletariat and become thinking peoples. All these children and their parents want this education eagerly. All the time we say, "Oh no, we will continue to teach their own language which has no literature and is of no service to them, and we will continue to take credit to ourselves that we are able to address our servants in their own language." English is always the lingua franca, of parts of Asia. It is the lingua franca of North America, and it is becoming the lingua franca of Africa. French is not better. Latin is not universal. The language of the future is English. If they know that language, then the people can read and think and stand up for their own rights. Whether it foe in Palestine or whether it be in Africa progress must depend upon and must follow a knowledge of the language in which progress is possible.


I shall not occupy the time of the Committee for very long. One is rather surprised to-night to find what a very small attendance we have had throughout this Debate. During most of the Debate there have been only from three to six Members of the Conservative party in the House. During most of the Debate there has not been a single Liberal Member present, and there is only one hon. Member of that party present at this moment. I do not know what the people outside of Parliament think of the inattention that is being displayed with regard to the affairs of this country and the Commonwealth.

Before coming to the question of Gibraltar, which I intend to make my main point, I should like to say how very much struck I was by some of the speeches which have been delivered, particularly by the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who reminded us of the extent of this great Commonwealth of nations. I hope that when he is looking to the ends of the earth where the Commonwealth extends He may also take a glance at his own office in Whitehall. While we are administering or governing these great countries, these many millions of people in other parts of the world, we ought at least to see that those who are in our service at the Colonial Office in Whitehall are decently paid for the work which they are called upon to do. On looking down the list of wages, I am ashamed to find that the Government pay such a low rate as 17s. a week, while even in respect of those employed as clerical workers the salaries are only from £60 to £260 a year. I may be reminded that the cost of living scale applies, and that they receive an allowance in addition to the stated salary. I hope that there is going to be something better than the cost of living variation with respect to wages.

I should like to call attention to a matter affecting the West African students who are at present in this country. I believe that the West African students who are in London have petitioned the right hon. Gentleman with, regard to some duties which are to be imposed upon them to attend the exhibition in Newcastle. These West African students feel the position very keenly, and are very sore about being forced to exhibit themselves at this great show at Newcastle. I hope that the Department will have some regard to the feelings of these people.

Another point to which I wish to refer, briefly, is that of the removal of Mr. Bamuta from the Uganda Parliament. Why has this removal taken place? It certainly is not in accordance with the wishes of the King of Uganda, for I am told that he is opposed to it. The Committee ought to be given some explanation as to why Mr. Bamuta has been removed from that Parliament.

There has been published at Gibraltar a paper named "Hojas Libres." I asked a question in March as to why this paper has been suppressed, and the right hon. Gentleman, in reply, gave an answer which, I believe, was not intended for me, but was intended for publication. He made a point of referring to the particular paper, or leaflet, as he described it. I hope that the leaflets which are to be issued in the coming Election will not contain as many pages as this newspaper did. It is an abuse of language to refer to this paper as a leaflet, apparently in order to arouse prejudice against it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to this paper as being revolutionary. I do not know where he obtained his information. I think it must have come from Spain. I resent our receiving any orders from Spain, just as much as I would resent orders of this kind coming from Russia or anywhere else.


Or from Italy.


Or from Italy. I think it was wrong to suppress this paper, because of the articles which it contained. These articles merely suggested or demanded that conditions such as obtain in Britain should operate in the world. Surely, this cannot be said, even by the Colonial Office, to be revolutionary. I will describe the method which was adopted in suppressing this paper. We had the Chief of Police, who stated that he was acting on instructions of the Colonial Secretary, Major Young, visiting the shop of Mr. Sacarello and insisting that all copies of this particular newspaper of the date in question should be handed over to him. On feeing asked what authority he had, the officer was not at all sure, and then desired to purchase the papers. I suppose he found himself in the difficult position of being a law breaker, and therefore he offered to purchase the papers. When he understood that Mr. Sacarello was not prepared to sell the whole of them, the officer took the whole of the edition away from the shop, some 133 copies. To his credit, it may be said, the officer gave a receipt for them, a copy of which I have in my possession. The Attorney-General at Gibraltar subsequently threatened the proprietor unless he ceased to sell the particular newspaper it was his intention, at the request of His Excellency the Governor, to draft a law forbidding the sale of this newspaper. They knew they had done wrong in taking away this paper and that they were acting contrary to British methods and British tradition. The Attorney-General then said he did not think that he had the power to draft such a law, and later that unless Sacarello ceased to sell the paper he would "throw the law" at him. The proprietor of this newspaper shop, believing that the Attorney-General had a great deal of power, gave partial consent. On another occasion the Colonial Secretary came to the shop and insisted that he should be allowed to purchase every copy of a book published by an English firm, whose address is in the Strand, so that no one in Gibraltar might be able to procure a copy. The book is entitled, "Alfonso Unmasked," by the late Blasco Ibanez. I will be perfectly frank with the Committee in stating that those who reported the matter to me are members of the Workers' Union in Gibraltar. No one can charge them with revolutionary ideas. I wish they would make greater demands for higher wages and better conditions than those operating. So far as these people are concerned, revolutionary ideas do not enter their minds; nevertheless, they protest in strong language against the conduct of the Governor of Gibraltar, the Chief of Police, the Attorney-General and the Colonial Secretary there, for acting quite as much as dictators as any of the dictators in the adjoining country. It has been stated that there is a law in Gibraltar to cover such a case. There is not. The Clause under which action may be taken against newspapers says: Every person who shall print, publish, offer for sale, distribute, or disperse, or who shall assist in the printing, publishing, offering for sale, distributing, or other publication whatsoever containing threatening, abusive or insulting matter calculated to excite enmity, tumult or disorder, or to provoke a breach of the peace shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5 or to be imprisoned with or without hard labour for a period not exceeding one month. It is also provided that such person must give certain securities. There is nothing in the paper in question which is speaking contrary to the law against dictatorship; it is in fact suggesting that our methods in this country are good. If that can be regarded as revolutionary, there must be a change of view on the part of the right hon. Gentleman who is Colonial Secretary in this country. There is nothing in the law which I have quoted that enables the authorities in Gibraltar to suppress that paper. If there was something in the paper that would be calculated to excite enmity, tumult or disorder, they should have taken the matter into Court and have allowed the Court to decide whether the man should be fined or penalised in some other way.

When I raised the question some weeks ago, I had hopes that the Colonial Secretary would have taken action in accordance with the opinions and traditions of this country. Instead of doing that, he declared that the newspaper was a revolutionary document, and he supported the action taken in respect of it. I suggest that he is not acting on his better judgment. It may be that people from another country have suggested they do not like the issue of this particular paper, but I hope that in this country we are not going to take our orders from any other country, whether it happens to be ruled by a dictator or by some other method of government that we do not like. I ask that the Colonial Secretary shall, in accordance with the request of people whom he knows full well, the people in the trade union movement at Gibraltar, cease to have this paper suppressed, and will allow the newspaper to be Bold in Gibraltar, because it is certainly not against the interests of this country, it is certainly not revolutionary and it ought never to have been suppressed.


A very large number of questions have been addressed to me this afternoon, and, if I were to answer them all in detail, we should be kept to a very late hour. I will take some of the smaller points. In reply to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), I would point out that this document, which he calls a newspaper, is not produced in Gibraltar, it is not printed in Gibraltar, and it is not a newspaper. It contains no news of any kind. It is a document produced in France by Spanish subjects who are political refugees in France. The Spanish authorities drew our attention to the fact that Gibraltar, with other places, was being used as a base for the entry of this French-printed political pamphlet into Spain. The document contains nothing about Gibraltar, and there is no reference in it to any events in Gibraltar. It is chiefly an attack upon the Crown and the Monarchy in Spain and upon the present Government of Spain. It is really one long personal attack upon King Alfonso and the present regime. When you are in friendly relations with a country, whatever you may think of its Government, you cannot have either your own country or any colony for whose Government you are responsible, being used as a base or as a sort of post office for the propaganda of subjects of a foreign country being sent into that country in order to overthrow their Government. There is no Gibraltar subject, no British subject, in any way connected with the production of this political pamphlet.


The right hon. Gentleman says that this document is printed in France?


Yes, it is printed in France.


Are the Government of France stopping it from going in?


Yes, I believe they are doing all that they can to stop it going in.


Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that this paper, printed in France, is not sent into Spain except through Gibraltar? If that is the point, I say that it is not correct. The paper is sent into Spain, and it is sent into Gibraltar for sale to those who are living in Gibraltar.


It is produced, as I have stated, by Spanish political refugees in France, who object to the Spanish Monarchy and Government, and try to get it into Spain to stir up an agitation against the present Government of Spain. They use every means they can to try to get it into Spain. We do not think that Gibraltar, at the very door of Spain, should be a base which Spanish subjects should use as a means of getting into Spain propaganda against the Spanish Government.

The hon. Member referred to the removal of Bamuta from the post of Secretary to the Lukiko of Uganda. I think he is misinformed on that matter. I have been informed that as a result of attacks on the Ministers of the Kabaka that he lost his position as clerk, and the native Government of Buganda were perfectly entitled to remove him from that post. The hon. Member also asked a question with regard to West African students. No West African student has been asked to go to the Newcastle Exhibition; certainly the Colonial Office has taken no such action and is not responsible. I understand that certain West African students in this country who are quite independent and private citizens saw the Newcastle authorities' advertisement that some Africans were being brought to this country to take part in the exhibition, and protested: but that has nothing to do with the Colonial Office and we have no power to intervene unless it was intended to recruit them in a British colony, as to which there is no information whatever. The hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Stewart) referred to the question of indentured labour in Fiji. Indentured labour there has now completely stopped. Facilities have been given, and are being given, to Indians who have worked in Fiji to go back, and a special Indian officer has been appointed to look after the welfare of those who have stayed. I believe they are now settling down as settlers and are rising in the social scale. The hon. Member who raised the question of Kenya, and who is very keen on Imperial subjects, used, I think, slightly exaggerated language on the subject. He talked about the dispossession of land. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) gave figures of the land held by Europeans—10,000 square miles. I have not been able to correct that figure, but 10,000 square miles in a country which has an area of 200,000 square miles is very small. Only a very small trifle of the area has been alienated for migrants, whether Indians or Europeans, and the bulk of the land remains either quite unoccupied or in the possession of the natives.


The best land is taken.


There is bound to be great discussion as to what is the best land. The land occupied by Europeans is mostly over 6,000 feet, where the climate is such that Europeans can live and bring up their families. It is not the richest land by any means.


No land can be owned by a native.


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is splitting hairs on the word "owned." According to the view expressed in what is known as the "Barth judgment," all land in native occupation in Kenya has become Crown land, and is the property of the State and not of the individual.


That only applies to the reserves.


The rest is already Crown land. Undoubtedly the position in law is that the native cultivator is made a tenant of the Crown, and, in fact, the area occupied by Europeans is a very small part compared with the area occupied by the natives. The population of Kenya is only about 2,500,000. It is very under-populated; it is practically empty. When these highlands were discovered the greater part were absolutely uninhabited, the bulk of the natives lived near the lakes and in the valleys, not on the mountains. There were, of course, wandering tribes like the Masai, small in numbers but making claims to enormous areas of country, and still to this day, with a few exceptions partly the result of European education, they have never cultivated or used the land at all, but are purely nomadic and warlike tribes. That is one of the' reasons why Kenya was so empty; and this empty country appealed to the vigorous pioneers of our own race. I entirely sympathise with the final words of the hon. Member for St. Rollox when he said that he wished people who criticised Kenya could go and actually see the place. There is a good deal of loose language used in this House, and it puts the white settlers up in arms, because the true facts of the country are not realised. One gets the impression that the natives have all been dispossessed, driven from their land, whereas if you go through the native, reserves you will see enormous herds of cattle, hundreds and thousands for every one that is in European ownership. Hon. Members who criticise Kenya, admittedly a difficult country, ought not to get an absolutely distorted picture of the facts of the situation. Take the question of taxation. There is a direct native tax in every African Protectorate or mandated territory.


In Northern Nigeria?


In Northern Nigeria the direct tax is assessed in a slightly different way.


It is on land values there.

9.0 p.m.


No, the dyers and the butchers and others have all to pay their appropriate tax according to their trade. They pay the tax, and now a considerable portion of it is the main source of revenue for those services which have been increasingly used in a progressive and useful form for advancing the country. Taxation in Kenya is far lower than it is in Uganda. Honestly, the imposition of taxation in Kenya is not such as does not give an absolutely equal and fair chance to any native to choose between alternatives. Either he can cultivate a crop and sell it and so pay his tax, or he can sell the goats or sheep or cattle that he owns, or he can work on the railways or for a white settler. Those three alternatives are equally and freely open to him.

In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), let me make it clear that never at any moment has His Majesty's Government here pressed any Iraq Government to introduce conscription in Iraq. I want to make a most emphatic and clear declaration on that point. In fact we have always made it clear that if any Iraq Government were to introduce conscription, as has been suggested, that Government could not rely upon British forces in Iraq to assist in the enforcement of conscription. I was also asked a question about slaves being taken across the Red Sea to Arabia. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman has any information on the subject we shall be glad to be supplied with it, because we have the closest possible understanding with the authorities in that area to give us notice of any such traffic. We have absolutely no knowledge in the Colonial Office of any such traffic. We have no information that there has been any slave raiding or slave trading across the Red Sea from British Somaliland. There have been for some years periodical raids into Northern Kenya from Abyssinia. Sometimes they were merely raids for the purpose of stealing cattle, but sometimes the motive has undoubtedly been to enslave some of the tribesmen of Northern Kenya and to take them into Abyssinia. The question whether slaves ever get across the Red Sea is entirely outside the province of the Colonial Office. We have every reason to suppose that the Red Sea patrols have done a great deal to stop that traffic.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Do I understand that the statement in the White Paper recently issued no longer holds good and that Abyssinian raids on Somaliland have all been stopped? Does the Undersecretary maintain that all the traffic in slaves across the Red Sea has been checked?


If the hon. and gallant Member has any knowledge of any slaves being taken across the Red Sea we shall be very glad to have it. No case whatever has been brought to our attention in recent times.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Last year or the year before the whole matter was thrashed out at Geneva by a committee of the League of Nations, and some most startling evidence was given on the subject.


Since then we have had no knowledge of any further slave raiding. We have ships there and certainly the Governors of Somaliland and Kenya always inform us if there is any raid into our territory and if anyone is taken in such raids. The hon. and gallant Member also asked me about oil in Iraq. Doubtless there were many in exactly the same position as the hon. and gallant Member at one time, namely, that they did not believe in the early days in the existence of an oilfield in Northern Mesopotamia. Nor did I. I was wrong. There is oil there, but how much we do not know. Borings have been made and two wells have been sunk and they look like being productive. But assuming that this becomes an important field bigger than the South Persian oilfield, it is going to have comparatively small influence on the world price of petrol compared with the production of the United States, Mexico and Venezuela. Compared with the production of the new world the oil production of the old world is a comparatively small thing. I was asked a question about the proposed Trans-desert railway from Haifa to Bagdad and on to Persia. I can-only say that that must be a question for the future. All we are committed to now is the improvement of the Port of Haifa. If finance is found for that railway Haifa will be the port of it. It will be used as an oil port, a coaling port and for substantially large ships, and it should be a modern and thoroughly up-to-date port. But we have taken no money beyond that under the Palestine and East Africa Loan Act of three years ago, which was to equip the Port of Haifa.

Then I may say a few words on the subject of the liquor traffic in West Africa. I am not going through all the quotations—some of them apparently contradictory—of my own past utterances on this subject which were given by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr). The position is that on the Gold Coast the consumption of liquor has been increasing too much. We realise that fact, and we shall do all we can to deal with the position. In fact last year the Gold Coast, with about 3,000,000 population, imported approximately twice the amount of spirits imported by Nigeria with 18,000,000 population. That may be taken as a result of the immensely superior prosperity per head of the population on the Gold Coast. Taking it that these are maximum figures—and I am glad to say that our last advices are that they are going down—the consumption per head even on the Gold Coast, which is the worst offender if offence there be, is only one-third of a gallon per head per annum which is not a very large quantity. I admit the fact which was brought out by the Bishop of Accra and referred to by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) that a great deal too much drinking goes on at these funeral customs. Funeral customs in West Africa have for many years been excuses for orgies—there is no other word to describe them. They take the form usually of the people being stimulated to cry for the deceased by taking copious quantities of spirits and getting more and more drunk.

Do not let anybody imagine however that this is a new traffic. I regret to say, and we might as well face the fact, that the story of West African trade is a pretty bad story from the European point of view. At the start it was simply a case of "slaves out and gin in," for generation after generation. If you go to the Gold Coast now you will see all along the coast the old Dutch, Swedish and Danish castles—now Government Houses—and the old English castles too, which were slave depots in the old, bad days of the slave trade. The old trade in spirits is there. The true trade spirit however, namely the deliberately made "fire-water" for the use of the trader, the synthetic liquor, is a thing of the past. That has been stopped and ever since the War we have made spirits increasingly expensive. Now they are higher taxed there than in this country but, even so, we realise that something more has to be done to check the proportion which the increasingly prosperous Gold Coast native is spending on liquor. We would far rather see him spending it on other forms of goods.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY



It would be far better if he spent it on bicycles. We have this position now. It is true that today one quarter of the total Government revenue of the Gold Coast comes from various forms of liquor taxes. We have put up those taxes repeatedly. We have done it again this year. In Nigeria, however, only one-twelfth of the central revenue apart from the local administration, comes from liquor duties. It is a dangerous thing for any country in any part of the Empire to get into a position in which an appreciable proportion of its revenue comes from this source. Whatever may be said, undoubtedly if you suddenly lose that source of revenue, it takes a long time to get it back on other things. My right hon. Friend has urged the Governor to go into the matter a good deal further with a view to checking the growing consumption. I do not agree with all the quotations read by the hon Member for Motherwell, but certainly the expressions which are now coming from the native chiefs, from educated Africans and from missionary bodies in the Gold Coast show a determination to arrest the growing tendency of the population there to spend more of their new wealth on the consumption of liquor.

The whole responsibility cannot rest on the Government. It is necessary to have the active co-operation of all those forces in putting a check to an evil which is the result of centuries of habit among these people. The hon. Member quoted a speech of the Ga Mantse of Accra in which he said that it was ruining the physique of the people. Anybody who goes to Accra will see there, in spite of rather urbanised conditions, a people who are among the finest physically of all the peoples living in that territory. I admit, however, that there is an evil and that it must be checked and that there should be a reduction in the quantity of liquor consumed in that country. We have not extended or allowed to be extended the areas to which liquor can go which were there before we established our administration and the whole of Northern Nigeria and parts of Southern Nigeria are prohibition areas in this respect.

We have made special efforts at limitation in East Africa. There we have always had a prohibition on the sale of European spirits to natives, but it is not always easy to apply and, undoubtedly, in Uganda there has been a good deal of illicit manufacture by the natives—not the type of palm wine described by Sir William McGregor with percentages of three to six of proof spirit, but a strong distilled liquor. That presents a very awkward problem to the Government. In Kenya too there has been too much drinking by the native population. I would like to say that I do not think that the African in this matter is likely to suffer the same type of damage as the European, but as I say the matter is one which requires to be dealt with. As far as my right hon. Friend and I are concerned absolute prohibition, except in the areas where there is already prohibition, is not our policy. We do not believe it is practicable, or likely to succeed in view of all the circumstances. But limitation is certainly our policy and we shall endeavour to carry it out.

The hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield) asked about the recent report of the Committee presided over by Lord Balfour of Burleigh in regard to the extremely difficult problem of venereal disease in the Straits Settlements and allied questions. My right hon. Friend has sent that report out to the Governor, and he will no doubt endeavour to find a suitable woman according to the description set out in that report, to undertake these very difficult duties. It is not going to be easy to get a woman with all those qualifications, and it may be necessary to select someone with only some of them, and to give her an opportunity of equipping herself with the remainder. The Chinese have been pouring in ever since the trouble in China, and the Chinese population in the city of Singapore has increased by literally hundreds of thousands, by 300,000 a year in the last three years in British Malaya generally. One of the troubles is that there are vastly more young Chinese men coming in than Chinese women, and the conditions under which they have lived in recent times in China are such that there is a really difficult social problem in Malaya among the Chinese, but every effort is being made to deal with the problem. The hon. Member for Wallsend also talked about the immense industrial developments that are taking place in the Colonial Empire. As a matter of fact, with the possible exception of Singapore, I do not think there are many industrial developments, either immediately taking place or likely to take place, in the vast bulk of our Colonial Empire.


I was rather prophesying.


Looking to the future, practically nowhere is there any coal or iron to be found within the Colonial Empire, and you are dealing with peoples and with financial conditions which are not likely, for a very long time to come, to lend themselves to factory production. The whole emphasis is likely to be upon forest, animal, and agricultural development. Where there are tin mines, in Nigeria and Malaya, they are nearly all surface mines, and the great effort, therefore, is to make sure that the development of conditions in this great tropical, agricultural, and forest area shall be such as to set a standard for all the world to follow, but not one which is ringed in by rigid codes. There is a danger in stereotyping conditions. If you say that for 60 days in a year so many hours shall be worked, at such and such a rate, it is stereotyping; and from all that I have seen of the tropical Empire, conditions are changing so rapidly, and you are passing through a stage of society where the evoluion is taking place so fast, that you are getting very rapid jolts. A man comes to a reserve to work for the first time, and gets very low wages, according to our standards. I have seen a man working down at Mombasa, at the port, earning within two years a wage ten times what he had been earning at the beginning. You are dealing with conditions so unfixed and varying that to stereotype them is extremely difficult, but we shall do what we can at Geneva to make sure that minimum standards are laid down from the start and that they are progressive.

The hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr Snell) raised the question of the New Hebrides. The New Hebrides are not an easy problem for us at the Colonial Office. There are 80 islands, a good many of them small, in a chain about 550 miles long, most of them inhabited by very small bodies of people. There is no large trade or production, and very little local revenue. I think the Vote on the Estimates this year is £11,000 or £12,000, made up by the British taxpayer. My right hon. Friend authorises me to say that we have never regarded the Condominium as an altogether satisfactory form of government, but as long as it remains we shall do our best to work it loyally with the French officials and Government, who have an equal responsibility with us. British officials and French officials are working side by side, and it is not an easy problem.

The hon. Member also alluded to the question of liquor. We have heard of a case only quite recently where our Resident Commissioner got a big haul of liquor on a small island, but there are very few officials, and, as I say, 80 islands, and undoubtedly there are people who, partly owing to the Condominium, partly owing to the geographical circumstances, and partly owing to the shortage of staff and the small number of Europeans in charge there, have every opportunity—and some of them are very skilful—of evading the liquor laws and running in rum and other liquors of that kind. The problem presented by the Condominium is not an easy one, but I hope I have given some few points to make it clearer.

The hon. Member raised too the question of the large number of French subjects coming from French West Africa into the British territories in West Africa, and he quoted very large figures, very much larger than I have seen or heard before. Undoubtedly, after the war, there was a certain migration into Northern Nigeria and the Gold Coast from French territory, and I have seen some of the natives working at Takoradi, on the Gold Coast, but I do not think that anything like the numbers which the hon. Member mentioned can be the case. In one respect there is a certain fluidity. At the transport season of the year in Nigeria, the dry season, a considerable number of natives come from French territory into the region of Kano. They come, not with the idea of permanent settlement, but simply with the idea of earning money during the transport season. They come with their donkeys and their cattle, and for a few months they earn money and then go back to French territory, so that any large net increase of population does not result. The area of French West Africa is very much bigger than that of British West Africa on the map, but roughly the four British territories have almost double the population of the whole of the big French area.

Then the hon. Member asked about British Guiana. The Governor is throwing himself energetically into that problem, and he has certainly found the situation by no means Better than the hon. Member finds it, both financially and administratively. He hag had ruthlessly to cut down. In fact very little progress can be made, if the Colony is to get on with very necessary services such as education and so on, until it can get a reasonably balanced budget. The necessary but very unpleasant duty of wielding the axe has got to be gone through. Still the essentials have been settled. A Forestry Department has been settled, and the work is going on.


Are the surveys going on?


Yes, the surveys of the forests are going on, and the Governor is considering with his technical officers the question of an early attempt to try to open up production on the land in the North Western area. He is not going to wait for immigrants, but is going to make an experimental settlement in that unused but yet valuable North Western area with some local people whom he will induce to go there and make up an experimental colony, which is probably the best way to encourage development. In regard to education, he has found comparatively recently an enormous number of quite unqualified teachers with no training who have vested rights in the schools. It is rather an awkward thing to have to face, but with his record in the Gold Coast, I think we can trust Sir Gordon Guggisberg to see that the efficiency of education in British Guiana, which is low, will be raised.

There are one or two other small points with which I have yet to deal. The question of the Zambesi Bridge is still not finally settled but let me make it clear to the hon. Member for Dundee that whatever happens, if we are going to connect British Nyasaland with the Port of Beira and develop Nyasaland in any way and we have got to have a bridge over the Zambesi, that bridge must be in Portuguese territory because the Zambesi runs almost entirely through Portuguese territory.


Why not develop Dar-es-Salaam?


That would be an alternative, but it would mean building a new railroad. That is one of the proposals which I tentatively put forward in the report of the Commission on East Africa which was to connect up Manda through Dar-es-Salaam by about a 400-mile railway. Remember what the position is. There is a railway in British Nyasaland which runs down from the commercial capital, Blantyre, to the north bank of the Zambesi to a place called Chindio. Then there is a river which is sometimes 12 miles wide in flood and sometimes so shallow that you cannot get across in anything but small canoes. On the other side of the river, the railway runs right down to the Port of Beira. Consequently, you cannot have complete transport and without the existence of this bridge it may for as much as six months in the year prevent importing and exporting anything but the lightest articles in or out of Nyasaland. Consequently, there is the lowest standard of living, wages, etc., among the 1,250,000 people in British Nyasaland of any part of British Africa and the only hope for the development of Nyasaland, native or otherwise, is to get the main block of that population in touch with the ports so that they can import and export. The Tete Coalfield is some way away. At present it is only being used for small river steamers in a particular section of the Zambesi. It has nothing to do with us but is entirely in Portuguese East Africa. Certainly not one penny of money guaranteed or of Nyasaland money would go to construct a railway from the Zambesi Bridge, if it is built, to Tete. That would be purely a matter for the Portuguese.


Is it not the case that the argument used in justification for building this bridge or giving a guarantee for a grant for building, was that the additional freight that would go over the bridge, would help to pay for it such as the freight from the Tete coalfield which is in Portuguese territory and paying wages of 5s. a month?


That argument was supplementary and certainly it was not the argument which really ought to count at all. Whether the coal freight is worth it I do not know, and whether the, Portuguese are likely to build the 100 odd miles of railway to connect with the Zambesi I do not know. If we decide, and it can be arranged, to go forward with the Zambesi bridge, then that will be decided simply and solely as to whether it will pay British Nyasaland and whether agricultural production such as tea, coffee, maize and other products are sufficient to bear, with any aid which may be given by this country, the charges which would be necessary in connection with its construction. As regards Ceylon, my right hon. Friend is still awaiting the views of the Governor. I do not think it is in the least likely that he will have received them or have had time to consider them before the new Parliament has met. I gather that the views of the Governor have not yet left Ceylon if indeed they have been finally formulated.


It is a year and a half since the Commission reported.


No, it was last July. Let me assure the Committee that the hon. Member for Dundee in quoting my right hon. Friend's telegram read more into it than I think he need have read. My right hon. Friend has made it quite clear in that telegram that he was not anxious to depart in any large degree or in any important matter from the general scheme of the Donoughmore Report. Obviously, I cannot go further into the matter but let me read the words of the telegram: In my opinion the recommendations must be regarded as a whole, and while no doubt modification in detail may be necessary when effect is being given to them, I should not be willing to accept any amendment in principle which would destroy the balance of the scheme. I really cannot go beyond that. Those words were very carefully considered, and they must be taken as the declaration of my right hon. Friend as far as this matter is concerned.


There are two subsequent sentences.


The subsequent sentences were dealing with the situation that the existing Legislature in Ceylon had been spending weeks before Christmas in not merely considering the Donoughmore Scheme, but in reopening the whole basis on which any constitutional changes should take place, and this telegram was partly sent, not merely to give the Governor an indication of what were the Secretary of State's views, but to put some stop to these interminable new proposals which kept cropping up from all sections in Ceylon, and which were taking up a great deal of very valuable time. The following sentence runs: If it appear that a substantial majority of the inhabitants would not willingly agree to a trial of the scheme as a whole, he must feel compelled to reopen the consideration of the whole question. So I think that on the point made by the hon. Members opposite in connection with Ceylon they showed an undue nervousness and fear. My right hon. Friend made it quite clear that there is no mystery about either Ceylon or Kenya, that the final decision will not and cannot be made until the new Parliament, and that in regard to the whole of the projects the House will be fully informed before a decision is arrived at.

With regard to Palestine, the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull raised again the question of the Wailing Wall. I had hoped that that question was now settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties concerned, and that that unfortunate and sad episode would rapidly be dropped. These matters are very delicate and generally excite the most passionate feelings on both sides. To the best of my recollection, the point which the hon. and gallant Member raised is in regard to the top of the Wall. The Wailing Wall, as I remember it, consists first of great stones which were undoubtedly the wall of Herod or Nehemiah. They are the great stones at the bottom, and on the finish of the course of the great stones are some smaller stones said to be Roman, and on top of that a series of mediaeval stones ending up with a Turkish constructed wall, which was restored by Suliman the Magnificent when he restored the Holy City in the sixteenth century. I understand that the sacred place, the object of their veneration and where their ritual observations are carried out, is a place in front connected with the great stones, which were undoubtedly part of the old Jewish Temple, and really what is actually the finish of the top of the wall, which is Moslem, is not and has not been a matter of dispute.

These questions are extremely difficult in Palestine, where anything that is done with every single inch of any of these holy places, is fiercely contested; and with all our desire to prevent regrettable episodes of this kind, we can never be sure. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that in Turkish days they managed to keep them quiet. They did so often by very ruthless means, and I talked to a man who was a witness of the Holy Fire ceremony in Turkish times, and certainly there are not now the scenes and the kind of trouble that took place in those old days. I do not want to throw stones at the Turks. They had a hard job, and we have a hard job. They had a hard time in policing Palestine, particularly the city of Jerusalem when these religious ceremonies took place, and particularly when they coincided. Passions are easily inflamed and misunderstandings easily occur, and I do not think that it ought to be brought up again.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the settled policy of the three parties and their leaders, was enshrined in the actual mandate which is the basis on which we administer Palestine and which governs our policy in every detail, and that the Balfour declaration should be part of the policy of the Government. I am certain that every Government will do what they can to facilitate the realisation of the Zionist aim, policy and ideals as governed by the terms of the mandate in the terms of the Balfour declaration Like the hon. and gallant Member opposite, long before I took office, and I may say still without any fear of misunderstanding, I was a strong and keen Zionist for wholly different reasons from those of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). I took a slightly different view from what he does of that ideal and that aim. He sees it as the Jewish people bringing our ideas, bringing Western civilisation and our love of freedom into the East once again. I see it more in the terms that were perhaps unfortunate, and were certainly misconstrued in the political sense, though I do think they were meant in a political sense, of Dr. Weissmann, the Zionist leader, when he said that he wanted "As Jewish for Palestine as English for England," that is to say, that the Jewish civilisation in Palestine was not to be either English, or French, or American, or Polish, or Spanish or anything of that kind, but purely Jewish and Palestinian Jewish at that; and that the Zionist aim is to recreate in Palestine the physical and economic conditions which will enable generation after generation of Jews to grow up in the land of their fathers and throw up, they believed, in course of time, and I believe, a type of poet and of thinker and the type of person who made the Jews one of the great contributors to literature, religion and thought in the world.

It does not depend on vast numbers of Jews to give them real freedom, it depends on quality, and when the right hon. Gentleman asked why the Government do not do more in Jewish education, why they do not teach more English, I understand that the whole essence of the Zionist ideal is that the first step is to get them saturated with Hebrew traditions and Hebrew language as revivified now by their learned men. If it is said that we did not give sufficient money in proportion to their needs, that is a matter for argument; but that the control of Jewish education and Jewish schools should be, in the main, or as largely as possible, a matter for the Jews themselves, is the best method of carrying out the idea. As to Arab schools, I am perfectly certain that it is extremely difficult at the present stage for the Jews, except indirectly and by their example, to do anything for the still suspicious Arab. It is absolutely fatal in the interest of the Jews in Palestine to allow the Arabs to remain absolutely uneducated, and the first duty of the Government in to provide in all those countries elementary education, secondary and technical education after the former has been inculcated, and higher education last of all.

It has been the policy in these first few years of our administration in Palestine to provide a more general and more universal system, admittedly very inadequate at present, of elementary education for the children whose mother-tongue is Arabic. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that not only in Palestine, but universally throughout the Colonial Empire, we have to see that a gradually increasing proportion of the people, as and when funds are available, and as and when the system of elementary education rises, do get a secondary education, and a generous secondary education, even if they take the technical education as well, in the English language. The essence of all higher education amongst all these peoples is the introduction of English. I have seen too much of the introduction at an early age of snippets of pigeon English among the people of West Africa to believe that it does them any good whatever, or enables them either to think in English or to construct in English. If they know a few words of English, though being unable to write it, a type of mentality is produced which causes them to think that they are fully English, and much superior people to their fellows who have had only an education in their own mother-tongue.


That is exactly what was said about the British working man.


It is essential that the children should begin their learning in their mother tongue. You cannot begin to teach a child the use of words unless you do it in the tongue in which it has first learned to think. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is quite wrong in saying that the settlers in Kenya are very anxious for the natives of Kenya to be taught in Swahili and not in English. As a matter of fact, the settlers are the very people who have been pressing for English, and it is some of us who have been very doubtful whether, until there is a sufficient supply of teachers and a much wider spread of a sound vernacular elementary education in the earlier standards, it would be possible to carry on that education very far. Our Advisory Committee has been into this question at very great length, and has taken the advice of missionary organisations and all sorts of people, and we are quite satisfied that the first stage is to endeavour to make a foundation of education in the mother tongue. The right hon. Gentleman talked about these people demanding English. I have talked to a great many of them who have asked, "Why should all our civilisation be ignored? Why should our traditions and our system of thought be swept away? Why should we have only English textbooks?" That has been said to me by educated natives.


By the rich.


We are most anxious to cherish all that is adaptable and most useful in their own civilisation, and I say quite frankly that I do not envisage the British Colonial Empire turning out everybody of all these races in a sealed pattern form. I do not believe that we can do it, or that it is desirable to do it. We have all these races in their various stages. Talking of races, I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) sneers at the people there who ride bicycles as niggers, a term which they resent—[Interruption.] He called them "niggers riding bicycles." If there is one thing which our African fellow-subjects resent, it is being called "niggers." Of course the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has never taken the slightest interest in any Imperial matter of this kind and only refers to it in order to make cheap sneers.




I cannot give way.


You have been on your feet an hour.


I really cannot give way.


You have been speaking over an hour and a quarter and I only want—


On this matter of education, it is perfectly clear that the negroes are immensely rich in their own variety of life, and that it would be absolutely wrong of us to sweep all that aside and to force on them our civilisation, exactly according to our methods, whether in government or anything else.


You force exploitation.


Certainly not. The right hon. Gentleman says that we force exploitation. The vast bulk of those people in our Colonial Empire are perfectly free producers, and it has been our greatest effort to protect them from what he is pleased to call exploitation. It is not exploitation to provide trained agricultural officers, trained educational officers and trained officers to go amongst those people and help them to advance themselves in their own country. Every economic advance they make has its cash value. Why should there not be a cash value? There is going to be no moral, intellectual or real advance of any of these people unless they do advance in economic standards. Peace having been imposed upon them, unless there is activity, unless there is economic expansion, there will be a loss of virility and there will be apathy, and these people will not thank the destroyers of their own way of living. It seems to me that in all these matters progress is essential. I am not satisfied with the description which has been given of the Palestine administration. Take, for example, what was said about the land question. I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme saw our difficulty when he admitted that so much of the land belonged to the Syrian effendis, and this shows the sort of difficulty with which we have to contend. The Syrian effendis have got a Turkish concession in that very area, and, unless that difficulty can be got out of the way, what is suggested by the hon. and gallant Member cannot be done. The administration has to face a complex series of existing interests of the most chaotic nature.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Are we to understand that in relation to these former Turkish Crown lands we are going to admit some nebulous concession to someone who was an enemy subject before the War?


I understand that that is a concession which we are bound to recognise. It certainly looks as though there is going to be a greater opportunity this year of increasing the Jewish settlement on the land. It is the considered policy of the Government and the policy of the Palestine administration that, while it is their paramount duty to maintain law and order and prevent outbreaks and troubles between the various conflicting elements in the population, given those prior conditions, it is our duty, pleasure, and desire to facilitate the realisation of the highest ideals and facilitate Jewish settlement in that country. Those in charge of the administration have to deal with very difficult problems, but that their spirit is in any way hostile to the policy of the Government or the Mandate I absolutely deny, because they are a most loyal body of men. We are transferring from different parts of the country experts in these matters who will give their assistance. They are the very type of men who are required there, and I am sure their services will be used in Palestine and in Africa and elsewhere with the greatest advantage.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again to-morrow.

The remaining Government Orders were read, and postponed.