§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Lunn)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I would remind the House that we had a very full discussion last Friday on the Financial Resolution. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal on that occasion suggested that there should be a sort of Second Reading Debate then, and I think hon. Members largely took that attitude. The proposals then made by the Lord Privy Seal the Government vegard as so vital, and it is so necessary that we should obtain the sanction of the House for this non-controversial Measure, that we are anxious that it should be placed on the Statute Book at the earliest possible moment. The Government gathered in the Debate on Friday that the Measure is acceptable to all sections of the House, and they are anxious that to-day's proceedings on the Second Reading may not be unduly prolonged, so that we may start immediately with the means which, we believe, the Bill will provide, of Colonial development on a very large scale—development which will in turn provide work for our people in this country, I do not propose, therefore, to take up much time in dealing with the provisions of the Bill or recapitulating the various arguments raised during the Debate of last week regarding the beneficial results of the Bill or the vexed question of unemployment.
The Lord Privy Seal on Friday mentioned, in general terms, a number of schemes likely to be taken in hand if this Bill were passed into law. I have no doubt that many of them will be initiated at the earliest possible moment, but it is not for me to go further into that matter or to tie the hands or pre-judge the position of the advisory committee which is to be set up under the Measure to deal with schemes. During the Debate on Friday the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) made one statement with which I agreed entirely. He said it would be for that 472 committee to weed out many of the applications for assistance. He also mentioned two classes of schemes to be considered. First, there are those which are obviously remunerative—and I would add those schemes which the richer Colonies are willing to undertake—and secondly, those which would never be remunerative. Here I should like to mention that while the committee will have to prevent any part of our proposals being frustrated by any tendency to inactivity, or any lack of imagination, they will have to give full weight to any doubts which local governments may feel in order that our help may not, in the end, place the dependency, after a period of assistance, under a permanent burden of uneconomic work.
My hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. C. Buxton) in that Debate felt some misgivings as to the effect on the native population of the launching of large schemes of development, but I want to assure him that it is not the intention of His Majesty's Government that any degree of compulsion should be brought to bear on the native population to furnish the labour necessary for the carrying out of any schemes under this Bill. All possible precautions will be taken to ensure that recourse, will not be had to forced labour of any kind and that the amount of labour drawn from any one tribe is not so large as to have a detrimental effect on tribal life. Such a statement is necessary at the present moment, because my hon. Friend will shortly be called upon to consider the results of the recent International Labour Conference at Geneva and the preparation of work for an International Convention which will have as its ultimate object the suppression of forced labour of every kind in all Colonial territories.
I should like to remind the House also that during 1926 the late Colonial Secretary introduced what was known as the Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, and that there was considerable opposition to it on one point from some of my hon. Friends who are now on the Government side. As a result of that opposition, the Secretary of State inserted these words in Sib-section (4) of Section 1 of the Act:The Secretary of State shall satisfy himself that fair conditions of labour are 473 observed in the execution of all works carried out under any loan raised in pursuance of this Act.As a result of the insertion of those words, the Secretary of State has regularly, I believe, received reports in regard to wages, rations, sanitary arrangements, and other matters affecting the conditions of labour, which are carefully scrutinised by the Colonial Department; and the Secretary of State to-day intends to apply the same system to all works carried out with assistance under this particular Measure. My hon. Friend the Member for Elland made another statement, but I think I am entitled to say that I do not share his apprehension in that regard. He was apprehensive that railways may be constructed out of the proceeds of this Fund which will be profitable only to the white elements of the population in certain of these overseas territories, and that the natives will derive little or no benefit from such undertakings. I think he was referring to tropical Africa, but it is difficult to imagine any railway which could be constructed which would benefit alone the white settlers. All the places to which railways are at present projected under schemes contain large numbers of native producers, who will stand to profit by any increased facilities for export and for import.
The most important project that has been mentioned up to now is the building of the Zambesi Bridge and the extension of the existing railway to a port on Lake Nyasa. Nyasaland has the densest population in East Africa, I think I may say, and one of the best educated, but this population at present have no means to dispose of their products owing to the lack of communications, and for this reason they are unable to purchase British manufactures, which many of them are anxious to obtain. Other schemes have been fully considered, but the report regarding each scheme is unfavourable, the only scheme that has been found to be practicable being the one for the construction of the Zambesi Bridge.
The Lord Privy Seal also indicated that an effort will be made at the outset to prevent anything in the nature of overlapping with the Empire Marketing Board, and I can promise that the new Advisory Committee which is to be set up under this Bill will, as its first 474 task, confer with the Empire Marketing Board and will submit to my Noble Friend an agreed outline of procedure for dealing with applications from Colonial Governments and other parties for assistance in research and in all matters in which the Colonies are interested. There were several speakers in the Debate on Friday last who raised the question of medical services and urged that they should be considered in any scheme of Colonial development. There have been many schemes undertaken, not only by this country but by other countries, in recent years in which that matter has been considered very seriously and taken in hand, and they have proved the wisdom of giving attention to the health conditions of those who labour in these great enterprises, and I think I ought to say that it is equally important that health conditions should be considered even in smaller enterprises. I can assure the House that in any new schemes of Colonial development the medical services and medical research for the improvement of health conditions will find a very important place.
§ The question was raised as to whether this Bill will assist private enterprise. I am not sure whether the production carried on by native persons in Africa-may be classed as private enterprise or not, but I can assure the House that we intend to do all in our power to assist the native cultivator, and that, while the great majority of schemes which we have under consideration are purely Government undertakings, we shall not hesitate to assist private enterprise, in return, of course, for a proper share of control, where such action may be expected to aid in the reduction of unemployment in this country and the improvement of conditions in the Colonies.
§ The Bill is a very small but a very important Bill. In Clause 1 it will be found that we propose to establish a Colonial Development Fund somewhat on the analogy of the United Kingdom Fund set up by the Development and Road Improvement Act of 1909. This Fund will consist of an amount which may be voted annually by Parliament, not exceeding £1,000,000, for 10 years, and advances will be made from the Fund in accordance with advice that will be given by the Advisory Committee 475 which is to be set up under the Bill. The objects of the Bill are set out in Clause 1, Sub-section (1), paragraphs (a) to (l), and I think it is very clearly set out what are to be the activities of the Advisory Committee. I do not suppose there are. any hon. Members who will object to the construction and improvement of harbours and the provision of equipment therefor in certain of our Colonies, the development and improvement of fisheries, promoting the discovery and improvement of water supplies—we could do with a little of it here just now after the weather we have had—or promoting the development of mineral resources. The payments from this Fund may be either in the form of grants or loans or in the payment of interest during the initial period on loans which may be raised by the Colonial Governments in the ordinary manner for any of those purposes which the Development Fund is intended to benefit.
§ This Bill will give a wide discretionary power for advances to be made, but it is hoped that there will be no wild cat schemes supported, and that the Committee will be guided by sound economic principles and will only recommend schemes where there is good reason to believe that there is likelihood that ultimately they will pay. The Bill is linked up, as my right hon. Friend said on Friday, with the promotion of commerce and industry in the United Kingdom, and we have good reason to believe that not only will development, be undertaken in many of these Colonies, but that the purchases of materials will come to this country and will assist considerably in the provision of work for our people. There is no doubt that up to now the Colonies have purchased materials for their development schemes in this country, and we believe that their orders will remain here and will help considerably in the provision of employment in this country. The scheme is based primarily on a far-sighted policy of Imperial development, but it will no doubt mean a good deal in prosperity to some industries at home. The Bill excludes the self-governing Dominions and certain other countries, such as Iraq and Transjordania, but otherwise it applies to the whole of the Colonies and to the Protectorates and mandated territories.476
§ Mr. LUNN
Not to India. I am sorry that I am not in a position at this moment to give the names of the members of the Advisory Committee. A number of gentlemen have been written to asking them to be members. Replies have not been received at this moment, but I hope that the name.4 may be given at the earliest possible moment.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Can the hon. Gentleman indicate the nature of the Committee? Will they be permanent officials, or business men, or politicians? Of what kind of Committee are the Government thinking?
§ Mr. LUNN
I am not so much in touch as to know all those who have been invited to sit on this Committee, but I think I am safe in saying that they are not regarded as politicians and that they are not usually civil servants, but that they are business men or men who will be acceptable to the House for the purposes of this Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. LUNN
I could not even say what are the numbers finally to be invited to be members of the Committee, but it may be possible, before the Bill is through the House this week, that the names should be given to the House. In Clause 2 of the Bill it is provided that this Committee and their officers may be suitably remunerated, if necessary. In Clause 3 of the Bill there is power given to extend the Colonial Stock Acts: by Order in Council to any territory which is under His Majesty's protection or in which a League of Nations Mandate is being exercised by the Government of the United Kingdom. That is an extension which I think has been supported and desired for some long time past. Under the Bill future stock issued in such protected or mandated territories as may be included in an Order in Council will be regarded as trustee securities. This should enable those territories, some of which are financially strong, but have so far been unable directly to avail themselves of the Colonial Stock Acts, to take full advantage of the favourable terms for development work. The second part of Clause 3 provides that the proposed Order in Council shall be laid before each 477 House in draft for 20 sitting days; and the third part is necessary because the Trusts (Scotland) Act, repealed and re-enacted trust provisions in the Act of 1900 so far as they relate to Scotland.
Clause 4 of the Bill amends the Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, 1926, in two respects which have been found insufficient in practice. Each of these Amendments has been designed to remove obstacles which prevent, or are likely to prevent, colonies from getting ahead with development schemes which the Act was designed to facilitate. In this Clause, also, power is given to add to the capital of the loan the amount of interest payable during the period of construction not exceeding five years. This follows the ordinary commercial practice, and accords with the intention of the Colonial Office when the 1926 Measure was in draft, the omission from the final draft being due, I believe, to an accident. This provision will enable the Treasury to guarantee the loan of £2,750,000 required for the construction of the Trans-Zambesi Bridge, the concession for which from the Portuguese Government will finally expire in a short time. In paragraph (b) of Clause 4 we substitute 60 years for 40 years as a maximum period for the repayment of loans under the Act. This, again, is desirable in the case of late maturing projects, such as railways, to prevent their accounts in the earlier years being over-weighted with sinking fund payments. In certain cases colonies may be deterred from borrowing under the Act if they are bound to repay the loan in 40 years.
I have very briefly dealt with this Bill on its Second Beading. I know that it is the custom in this House for very long speeches when the Colonial Office is before the House. I remember that two days before the General Election, we had a full day's Debate on colonial affairs, and I heard one promiment Member of the Conservative Government say: "We could lose the Empire while the Colonial Ministers are talking." I thought that that was an extreme way of expressing it, but as the days go along, I can see how easy it is to fall into that position. With 40 different colonies, protectorates or mandated territories, and with the Colonial Office having to deal with each one of them from all points of view, equal to all the departments in Whitehall dealing 478 with home affairs, I am going to give no guarantee that if I am given the opportunity to remain in this position, I shall not step into the shoes of the right hon. Gentleman who held this position before me. It is a vast undertaking; we have vast numbers of people and large areas. This Bill, however, is a circumscribed Measure for a specific purpose, which is to encourage and aid schemes of development in certain colonies, and to secure, as we know that we will secure, that the materials for these schemes will be purchased in this country. I hope that the House will agree to this Bill, and that we shall not be delayed too long, as we are anxious to see the schemes of development begun and useful work provided for many of our people, as we believe it will be—useful work for those who are unemployed or partially employed to-day. I hope that the House will give us the Second Beading of the Bill to-day.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
The hon. Member's speech in moving the Second Beading of the Bill, at any rate, assured us that when he comes to make a general speech upon the Empire, he will set a girdle round the earth in as sprightly a manner as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) used to do, even if not more sprightly. We on this side of the House do not wish to do otherwise than respond, as far as we can, to the hon. Gentleman's appeal, and to the appeal of the Lord Privy Seal last Friday, that Friday's Debate should in some measure be taken as a Second Beading Debate, and that we should facilitate the Second Beading of the Bill to-day. There are, however, one or two questions which I should like to ask on the Bill as it is now before us, and one or two remarks also that I should like to make. To take a comparatively minor point, the Lord Privy Seal and the Under-Secretary for the Colonies have laid stress on the grants for health purposes. These grants, if they are to be permissible under the Bill, will be admissible under Section I (I, l)—"any other means." If you mention "any other means" and specify one of those other means, as is done in the paragraph in the words "including surveys," we run very great risks of finding that health will be excluded. 479 That is, however, a Committee point, but I would ask the Government to give their attention to it.
The second point on which I should like to make some inquiry relates to the Committee. I quite appreciate that the Government, having invited a number of gentlemen, cannot give the formation of the Committee at the present moment, but I am a little surprised that they cannot even tell us approximately what size the Committee is to be, and what the composition is to he—in what proportion it is to be drawn from the business world, and what proportion, say, from ex-Colonial Governors, and so on. I think that oven at this stage we might press for a little more information as to the probable character of the personnel of the Committee. That is the more important if any question of salary is to be raised in connection with this Committee. I gathered from the hon. Gentleman's speech that there was a question of this Committee being remunerated. This Committee will not be sitting de die in diem, and there are obvious advantages in having a committee which is not salaried. What position have the Government taken on that matter? Have these gentlemen been invited to joint the Committee without salary or with salary? Have they been led to expect a salary, and, if so, of what amount? We ought to have some information on this, because as invitations have been issued, something must have been said to these gentlemen.
The question of the Committee is all the more important because as far as I can make out, the Committee is the only mitigation to pure Treasury control over the expenditure of the money. It is rather a curious proposal. It is the first time in my recollection that the Treasury has directly assumed the function of a spending department. I confess that I am getting more and more puzzled about the principle upon which the Government are acting in the matter of this Colonial development. When the Lord Privy Seal made his original speech on the Address, he went out of his way to say that this was to be a Colonial Development Fund of £1,000,000 a year accumulating, and not to be raided by the Treasury. He emphasised thatwe shall be taking power that in the Budget each year, as a charge not to be 480 raided, there will be set aside a sum of £1,000,000, annually, to be used to make grants of interest for a limited period on loans raised for Colonial development."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1929; col. 108, Vol. 229.]Where is the Fund? It is called the Fund still. The Treasury are to be the only people to make payments into the Fund, and they are to manage the Fund. As far as I can understand, they are actually to regulate and to govern payments out of the Fund. They have to consult the Committee, but beyond that, the whole of this operation is entirely under Treasury control. They receive the applications, and they spend the money. Clause 1 (6) says:Payments into and out of the Colonial Development Fund shall be made, and all other matters relating to the fund and the moneys standing to the credit of the fund shall be regulated, in such manner as the Treasury may direct.5.0 p.m.
No one has a higher opinion of the Treasury than I have, but it has never acted as a spending Department. It is one thing which every Treasury official and every Chancellor of the Exchequer has always tried to avoid, and I should like to ask what is going to be the relation respectively of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, of the Lord Privy Seal, of the Treasury and of the Committee in regard to this Fund? Whatever may be the answer to this question, it is no longer a question of a fund which the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot rob. He robbed it before it was ever created, and the Lord Privy Seal's remarks in his original speech have rather fallen to the ground. I do not want to make any party point, because the Lord Privy Seal is encountering the same difficulties as previous Governments have encountered in dealing with this question. He has lost the first round of the battle with the Treasury, but for that reason it may be well to consider for a moment why this policy, universally accepted as it is on all sides of the House, did not see the light of day as a concrete proposal before the Conservative party's programme for the last Election. Why did not successive Governments before that time take up this obvious method of Colonial development? A consideration of that question will, I think, serve to guide this House and the Government as to the conditions of success or failure in this policy. This Fund, so called, set up by 481 this Bill we support, but in its administration it may be a success or it may be a failure, and its success or failure will very largely depend upon a proper appreciation of the real relations between this policy and the unemployment policy. To my mind, the real reason why this policy has not been placed in a concrete form before this time is this: For the last seven years successive Governments have had their attention pinned to the weekly unemployment figure; the standard set for them by the criticism of the Opposition in our party political battles and the trend of discussion in the country has been, Are those weekly unemployment figures going to increase or be reduced in the next few weeks, and what can be done to affect them in the next few days or weeks or months?
As long as that be the standard of unemployment policy, it is perfectly obvious that any given expenditure of money on particular objects abroad, whatever other advantages there may be in them, will produce less immediate effect on unemployment than the expenditure of money at home. A considerable part of any money spent on projects abroad in the Empire, will be spent upon labour abroad, and although it is perfectly true that there is a tendency for a good deal of that money spent abroad in the payment of wages to come back to this country in the form of purchases of British exports, it remains broadly the case that money spent, even in our own Empire, has less immediate effect on the unemployment figure than money spent in this country. The building of the Zambesi Bridge, necessary as it is, will not produce the same immediate effects on the unemployment figure as would be produced by a bridge-building project of similar magnitude in this country, on the Forth or wherever it might be. As long, therefore, as we are content that our policy for dealing with unemployment shall be measured by that short-sighted standard of the unemployment figures six weeks hence, as long as an Opposition presses the Government to measure their policy by that standard, and as long as Governments are told, as the present Government are being told already in the Press outside, that their success will be judged by the fall in the unemployment figures in the next six months, so long will any Colonial development policy tend to be weak, and so long 482 will the Treasury, when it is called upon to decide, as it has to decide under this Bill and under the whole policy of the Lord Privy Seal, whether it will spend money on Colonial developments or on unemployment grants or trade facilities in this country, come down on the side of expenditure in this country which may produce some immediate effect.
That is not the standard we wish to apply to the Government's policy. The justification for an active Colonial development policy is that even if it may produce less effect on the unemployment figures for the next few months yet we, as a great country, have to think of the unemployment figure not over the next few months, or even over a period like the term of life of a particular Government, but of the unemployment situation in this country 10 or 15 years hence. The only way to ensure a prosperous country at that period is by Colonial development on an active scale carried out on the calculation of eventual if deferred profit. Moreover, the justification of this policy is, that if you are going in for long-term development, if you are looking at the state of employment far ahead, you can get a bigger return in proportion to any expenditure of your money in the new Colonial territories of the Empire than in any other part of the world.
For that reason, I am inclined rather to deprecate the tone of some references which have been made by the Lord Privy Seal and others—I know it is merely a matter of emphasis—in wishing to speed up these plans because of the immediate effect on unemployment in certain depressed industries. I do not deny that orders for certain kinds of material for Colonial development may have an immediate effect on the unemployment figures in certain industries, but I think you will find it very difficult to give an instance where orders for material for Colonial developments would give more employment in those industries than orders for material for some development—bridge building or otherwise—in this country. That is not really the standard by which you can measure, that is not really the principle on which you can conduct, any useful and fruitful policy of Colonial development. You have got to face the fact that the money you are spending is spent as a long-term investment, that the unemployment you are seeking to cure is 483 not primarily the unemployment to-day, but that you must look to employment 10 or 15 years hence.
In other words, the late Government when they declared this policy at the election, and the present Government in putting this policy into the form of this Bill, were both, in fact, announcing this, as the present President of the Board of Trade said in that very remarkable speech of his the other day, that the time has come when, seriously as we must continue to think and to deal with our existing unemployment, we must not allow its existence to weigh us down and prevent us from looking ahead, must not prevent us from launching out into those adventures which are necessary to the continuing prosperity of any great country. We have reached a point where the prosperity and the economic resources of this country have so far been restored after the War that we can afford, and it is our duty to launch out upon an active policy of adventurous development; adventurous, of course, within the limits which ordinary sound business instincts dictate. We should do that with the consciousness of having the resources with which to do it as well as the resources which may be necessary to deal with our immediate unemployment problem of the present day. It is in that, spirit alone, I think, that any action under this Bill will be successful. If action under this Bill is confined to that narrow consideration of the weekly unemployment figures, the administration under this Bill will not be carried out as it ought to be carried out; but if, as I believe, all sides in this House desire to see an active policy looking to the providing of employment in this country 15 years hence, then certainly this side of the House will support the Government warmly in any action which they take.
§ Mr. LUNN
With your permission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I would like to give to the Noble Lord and to the House information regarding the Committee which has come to me since I sat down. I do not like this irregular practice of Ministers jumping up to answer every question put in speeches, but perhaps I may be pardoned on this occasion, and I will not do it any more to-day. I understand that the Committee will be one of five or six members, and that the gentlemen who have been invited to be members of the 484 Committee are men of eminence in finance and industry whose industrial experience will, I think, command the universal respect of Members of this House as regards their suitability. No remuneration is to be given to members of the Committee. The names cannot be given now.
§ Mr. CHARLES BUXTON
May I ask whether there is to be any representative of the native workers concerned?
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
The Under-Secretary of State has appealed to the House for conciseness in our Debate, and in his very interesting speech has set us an example which I shall endeavour to follow. Before I deal with various points in the Bill, I cannot; refrain from referring to one or two observations made by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) which seemed to me to be a remarkably frank confession of some of the defects of the Government of which he was a leading member. He asked: "Why is it that this policy, which is so obviously right that every sensible man will agree with it and endeavour to promote it, was never attempted by the Government which held office for four and a half years?" "It was," he said, "because we were too shortsighted, we were concentrating our attention upon Measures which might relieve the unemployment situation within a few weeks and were unable to take a distant view." For that reason, he said, and as far as I gather, for that reason alone, they brought forward no policy of this character until their election programme was produced on the eve of the General Election, when it was made clear that it was one of their purposes. The whole object of statemanship should be to foresee and take a long view, and not be influenced by narrow and short-sighted considerations.
§ Lord E. PERCY
Was it my party which promised at the election to reduce unemployment to normal proportions in one year?
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
We made it perfectly plain in all our publications and speeches that our immediate policy with regard to roads and other works was only a part of our whole policy. In every declara- 485 tion we made on these matters, and in every pamphlet we published, it was clearly declared that it was necessary to adopt a long-range and a short-range policy, and that the only cure for unemployment was to be found in the restoration of industry. We urged that the measures necessary to restore our industries were the most important. It was realised that such measures would take time, and we declared that mean-while some tentative means should be taken to reduce the number of unemployed to normal conditions within a year. We fully realised that afterwards the works we suggested could not go on indefinitely, and after that period we relied more upon our long-range policy to enable these men to be drawn back into their industries.
The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings said that the people had their attention concentrated on week-by-week figures, and would consider nothing but immediate measures; he also stated that for that reason the Government of which he was a Member were unable to develop an Imperial policy. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hastings has challenged me, I will say that some of us on these benches have spent a considerable amount of time with skilled advisers dealing with our development proposals which were published in a book entitled "Britain's Industrial Future." In that book we devoted a whole chapter to colonial development, and we propounded measures which are now being adopted in this Bill. We suggested the provision of more capital to promote in a variety of ways colonial development, and thereby secure an increase in our imports of raw material, and an increase in our exports of manufactured goods sent in exchange. This Bill is likely to meet with the unanimous acceptance of the House. The Under-Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs has said that although this Bill is small in size, it is wide in scope, and that is so. I think it is one of the most interesting Measures which this Parliament will be called upon to consider, and it deals with one of the most fruitful spheres of political action. But it is a Bill which would have been met with vehement opposition 50 or 60 years ago by a school of political thought represented in this House which went by the name of the "Little England" school, and which regarded with dislike, 486 or at best with indifference, the growth and development of our colonial empire, and would have regarded a Measure of this sort as a diversion of the taxpayers' resources from their proper use and destination.
That school of thought has disappeared long ago, and I do not think it has had any spokesman in this House for the last 20 or 30 years. It was never more than a small school of politicians, and it never commanded the official support of any party in the State. That school of thought having disappeared, the nation now realises in colonial development both its duty and its interest. We are responsible directly or indirectly for the government of one-fourth of the whole land area of this globe. In many areas the Dominions have their own Governments, and they develop their resources largely from their own means, although we have provided them with enormous masses of capital, and the loan of that capital has been of greater value in promoting prosperity and the development of industries than any manipulation of tariffs could possibly have been. We have a duty and an interest in this matter. We are trustees for the welfare of the inhabitants of our Colonies, and we are all directly interested in the development of trade which can be so largely promoted by an extension of the resources of our colonial empire.
I wish to refer to three or four particular points, and then I will conclude with an other general observation with respect to the finance of this Bill. My first particular point is that we are still not quite clear how far the measures to be taken under this Bill will be used for the promotion of private enterprise. There are, of course, a very large number of enterprises needed for the Colonies which are outside the normal scope of private enterprise such as railways, docks, harbours, telegraphs and telephones, and all those measures must naturally fall within the province of the State. I want to know how far beyond that the Government intend to go. I am thrown into some difficulty in this matter owing to a sentence which occurred in the speech of the Lord Privy Seal, and which very much surprised me. The right hon. Gentleman said:Let me give another illustration of the absurdity of dogmatising about private 487 enterprise. In many of these Colonies you have young British settlers who have gone out there under terrible conditions. Very often, they find themselves handicapped, and they may even be ruined by a bad season. Sometimes they are unable to make good because they have not sufficient capital to purchase a tractor which would help them in a much better way than anything else. Under those circumstances, is it wrong to grant a loan to that man in order to enable him to purchase a tractor."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1929; col. 1301, Vol. 229.]I ask is that a, considered statement of the purposes of this Bill? It goes far beyond anything usually contemplated in Measures of this kind. Is it intended to make small loans to particular individuals in the Colonies, and is it proposed to do that by direct loans from some fund? Or is it intended to assist these people by the formation of agricultural banks? I find no reference in the Bill to that point amongst the purposes to which the money may be devoted, and there is nothing about granting agricultural credits. Before the Bill leaves this House I would ask the Government to give attention to the point as to whether it might not be desirable to insert some Amendment of this kind, if it can be done without going beyond the terms of the Money Resolution. I want to know if this Bill would allow money to be used for this particular purpose. In other countries agricultural credits are granted by co-operative banks and other banks with or without State direction, and in many of our Colonies institutions of that kind would be of great value. Was that what the Lord Privy Seal had in mind when he spoke about loans for the purchase of tractors?
I sincerely hope that the question of research will not be given an inconspicuous place in the programme of the Government, but will be regarded as one of the most important of the purposes included in this Bill. I would reinforce the suggestion that has already been made that it might be desirable on the Advisory Committee to have at least one person who would make it his particular duty to promote all kinds of measures of research. On this point, perhaps, I might quote a sentence from the book to which I have already referred:Another primary need of these undeveloped lands is organised research in regard to their economic resources and 488 problems, their sanitary needs and their social and linguistic characteristics, together with the provision of effective training for administrators, traders and educators. This is one obligation which falls primarily upon the controlling government. A very modest expenditure in this direction would be repaid a hundredfold by the results of a more scientific development.I commend that to the Members of the Government in charge of this Measure, and I hope they will not allow the more modest and humble representations on behalf of research to be put aside and drowned by the more clamant and active claims of more material development.
The Bill deals with Palestine, but I think the Under-Secretary stated that Transjordan was excluded. I confess that I see nothing in the Bill which would exclude Transjordan, and I sincerely hope that that is not intended, because that country is capable of great development. At the present; moment it is very under-populated, and unless capital can be found from resources such as this Bill provides, it is not likely to obtain capital from any other quarter. There is a Clause in the Bill which amends the Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, 1926, and provides some relaxation of the conditions under which capital may be lent. When I read the Bill I observed that it mentioned the Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, and limited the provision of these facilities to the Governments of East Africa. I do not quite understand that provision, and I hope the Government will be prepared during the Committee stage to accept an Amendment to remove that limitation.
With regard to the providing of capital in the mandated territories, as they are not really part of the British Empire, it is of great importance that special facilities should be given for their development. The system of mandates envisages a more or less temporary régime, and not a permanent régime, and in Palestine it is contemplated that at some period it will become a self-governing territory. But it is essential to its development that Palestine should be provided with capital resources. If Palestine tried to float a loan under the present régime repayable in 40, 50 or 60 years, no investor would be willing to lend money on those conditions, because it would not be known definitely whether before the period of the loan came to an 489 end the country would still be under the British Government. Consequently they would be in an unfavourable position, and this would retard the development of the country. Therefore, it is necessary that the British Government, as far as they are concerned with a mandated territory of this class, should be willing to guarantee loans in those countries, and that was done under the original Act of 1926. I trust that in any new Measures which are adopted these considerations will not be forgotten. These are in effect new countries; they are ancient historically, but very new economically. They are only on the threshold of modern development. I would mention, in this connection, so far as Palestine is concerned, that I was able to arrange, as part of these loan questions, with my right hon. Friend who was then Under-Secretary for the Colonies, that Palestine should pay £1,000,000 into the British Exchequer in recoupment for certain military assets provided during the War and left behind. I am not sure, but I rather think that Palestine is the only one of the territories affected by the War which has ever repaid anything to the British Exchequer for railways and other assets which were left behind. I am not sure with regard to other territories, but I think that that is so.
My next point with regard to Palestine is this: I would draw the attention of the Government to the desirability of laying before their Advisory Committee, if the Government of Palestine approves, the construction of a railway from Haifa to the frontier of Syria, with a view to linking up with a railway which the Syrian authorities may make from Beirut to Haifa, When I was High Commissioner in Palestine I had conversations on this point with the French High Commissioner for Syria, a very able man, General Wey-gand, who was strongly in favour of this project. It would be of great advantage to the Palestine railways, because it would allow of through traffic between Egypt and Syria. It would also promote trade between Syria and Palestine, which is most neeessary; and, not least important, it would link up the railways of Palestine, and, therefore, of Egypt, with the railways of Asia Minor, and would be the last link in making through railway communication, except for the crossing of the Bosphorus, from Calais to Constantinople 490 and from Constantinople to Cairo. I would, therefore, venture to take this opportunity of drawing special attention to this very important matter.
These are the particular points which I wish to raise on this Bill, and now, finally, a very few words on the general considerations of its finance. There are two methods by which the objects which we have in view can be fulfilled, and these territories aided in their development by the provision of financial resources. One is to guarantee loans, or to guarantee the interest on loans, and to give to these loans the status of trustee securities in proper cases, to promote the formation of agricultural banks, and even, directly or indirectly, to guarantee the debentures of agricultural banks. These are all means by which a great and wealthy country like Great Britain, with a high standard of credit, is able, without the actual expenditure of money, to render most valuable assistance to backward countries in securing the capital resources which they need, and I think that these powerful financial engines ought to be used, where they can be used without risk, to a great extent. The other measure is the direct grant of money from the British Exchequer.
This Bill proposes to adopt both means, and to give a grant up to £1,000,000 a year. I do not quarrel with that, because I think that in the circumstances it is probably necessary. It may not be essential to draw upon the whole £1,000,000 every year, but some financial resources of a liquid character in the form of money are essential. I hope, however, that the Government will be very careful how far they proceed along that line. If this were the first million for which we had to ask the British taxpayer, everyone would vote it with equanimity, and with great readiness; but it is nearly the eight hundredth million which the British taxpayer has to provide every year. A pound is a small weight to carry if it is the only pound, but, if you have a heavy burden on your back already, each additional pound presses with a disproportionate weight. So it is, in the present state of our national finances, with regard to any charge which is added to them. I would point out this further, that many of these Colonies are highly prosperous in their finances in these days, while the British taxpayer is very heavily burdened with 491 an enormous debt for wholly unremunerative purposes, and with heavy charges for armaments which still rest upon him. Many of these Colonies, although they have much poorer populations and a more backward civilisation, are free from those particular financial burdens. I have chosen five of the most prosperous for the purpose of illustrating to the House what I am saying.
The Gold Coast had a revenue, before the War, of £1,300,000, and it now has a revenue of £5,200,000. Its revenue has multiplied four-fold. The Nigerian revenue has increased from £3,000,000 to nearly £8,000,000. The revenue of Kenya has increased from £1,000,000 to nearly £3,000,000; that of the Federated Malay States from £5,000,000 to £12,000,000; and that of the West Indies from £3,000,000 to £6,000,000. These five Colonies, or groups of Colonies, have increased their revenue from £13,000,000 to £33,000,000. That is a most satisfactory growth. I know that even their present revenues are still inadequate for the enormous demands that are made upon the Governments for the development of those territories, but still the fact remains that they are not barren of resources, and that the burden ought not to be laid solely upon the shoulders of the British taxpayer of promoting these further developments that are in prospect. I trust that the Government will endeavour, whenever possible, not to commit this country, out of this expenditure of £1,000,000, to long-term payments—I mean annual payments extending over a long series of years; but that, wherever possible, they will make their grants in the form of paying interest for a few years until some new enterprise is developed and becomes remunerative. In that way they will be able to form something in the nature of a revolving fund, and use the same money over and over again at intervals of years to promote a much larger number of enterprises than would otherwise be the case.
Further, I would very strongly urge that they should not respond to the appeals that have been made by many hon. Members of this House to reduce Treasury control to a nullity. On the contrary, it is most essential that this House should strengthen the hands of the Treasury, and see that there is a really effective control 492 against lavish expenditure. Whenever the tap of public money is turned on, and the golden stream begins to flow, there is always the risk of waste, and it needs most careful management to see that that risk is avoided. I will give one example from the work of the Empire Marketing Board, which will be brought into relation with the work under this Bill. That Board, as we all know, for it springs to the eye, advertises in admirably artistic posters all over the country for purposes of promoting Empire trade. The artistic quality of those advertisements is excellent, and they, with the railway companies, have done something to redeem our hoardings from the ugliness and vulgarity which pervade them and disfigure our towns. I think, however, that the House will be astonished to learn that the Empire Marketing Board has already spent, in a period of three years, £250,000 upon these advertisements, and, for my own part, I very much doubt whether Empire trade has really got £250,000 worth of value from that expenditure. I trust that, if there is a curtailment of expenditure in any direction in order to provide resources for other purposes, that will be taken into consideration.
I raise my voice, therefore, to-day, and I think I am the only Member of the House who has done so in these Debates, in the interests of the British taxpayer, for the purpose of urging that his claims also should not be forgotten. There are many demands upon this Government in every direction. To-day we have this great policy of Empire development, needing large provisions of capital. Yesterday, we had still vaster schemes of domestic development, which will need still greater investments of capital. Our industries are called upon to rationalise their processes and to remodel their works. The coal industry, the cotton industry, the iron and steel industry, the railways, are all called upon to provide great sums of capital for bringing their industries up to date. Further, this Government is pledged to social expenditure in many directions which may involve considerably increased taxation. From the point of view of social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth, there is everything to be said for such taxation, but the House should remember, and I think that this Government and its sup- 493 porters should remember, that the resources of this country cannot be drawn upon all ways at once. If you are looking for the use of large accumulated funds for Empire development, for domestic develepoment, and for the remodelling of institutions, you cannot at the same time adopt methods of taxation which would prevent the accumulation of those funds. If we eat the eggs as fast as they are laid, we shall rear no chickens. This House accepts, I think, the policy now presented to it by the Government, and it will be very ready to vote the funds. Everything depends upon the administration of the Measure, and I trust that that administration will be carried on with a very careful regard for the interests of the public purse.
§ Major CHURCH
For some considerable time I have been trying to return to this House and to present a few views that I have collected in our East African dependencies and in other parts of the Empire on the subject that is before us this afternoon. I was particularly fascinated by the remarks of the Noble Lord the late President of the Board of Education, when he pleaded that we in this House should take a long view and not expect pound for pound for any immediate expenditure, but should consider that, under paragraph 1 (l) of Clause 1 of this Bill, we shall be giving opportunities for expending money on schemes which are not, perhaps, immediately productive. While the Noble Lord dealt with one or two items that might come under that particular paragraph, he did not refer to the subject, which must be very dear to his own heart, of the education of the peoples of the tropics. Expenditure of that kind, at any rate, cannot be immediately productive, but in the long run it will probably prove to be the most productive expenditure of all, and I should be glad if my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for the Colonies could inform the House later whether that type of expenditure, namely, expenditure on education, would come under the category ofAny other means … calculated to achieve the purpose aforesaid.I would ask my hon. Friend, also, one question regarding the composition of the Committee which is to deal with this Colonial Development Fund, I think the question is quite pertinent because of the 494 absence of any representative of science from the Committee which was set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions in 1924. He then set up a Committee on Industry and Trade, and omitted from that Committee, in spite of the mild protest which I made at the time, any representative of the scientific interest. Those of us who have been to the Colonies realise that half the problems of Colonial development are based upon the standard of education of the natives, and the other half are based upon the application of science to the development of the land. We are in the first instance reclaiming human material, much of which is waste human material at the present time; and, in the second place, we are developing the natural resourse of territories which are otherwise going to waste. At the preseurcesnt time, I suppose, about 50 per cent. of comparatively fertile soil in the mandated territory of Tanganyika is lying waste, not because of its inherent infertility, but because of the domination of a particularly pestilential insect, or various varieties of an insect, the tsetse fly. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) and I were travelling through that territory, we came in close contact with one species of the fly at least, and we were reminded by the desolate country through which we passed, how much the future of that territory depend upon dealing with the problem it creates. It is a problem that has to be faced, not only in East but also in West and South Africa, at any rate in Southern Rhodesia, and it is a problem that is growing year by year.
Only two years ago, in the Report of the Nyasaland Government, they said they had not been able to deal with the pest, and it was encroaching. They had not been able to make any use of the money provided in their Budget because of the inadequacy of the service, or the requisite personnel to deal with the problem. The fly is encroaching year by year and very little is being done, except in a spasmodic way, to deal with it. It is interrupting trade routes, it is spread more rapidly by the construction of railways, it is holding more and more land under domination and we are doing very little as an Imperial Government to combat it. In fact, Members of 495 the House, in spite of the warnings given continuously by certain right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and also by Members on these benches, still regard with equanimity the handing over to an insect of some of the most fertile soils in the Empire. We are assured by certain agricultural experts that we have in that part of the British Empire alone, comprising 1,000,000 square miles, an area capable of producing more cotton than the whole of the area under cotton in the United States, moreover cleaner cotton, which is a. very definite consideration in these days. As the industrial nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent upon overseas supplies for cereals and other things, particularly fibres for the textile industry, so we shall find, in the course of a comparatively few years, certain sources of supply absolutely dried up, from the point of view of the British nation at least. It behoves us therefore to take the trouble to develop those territories over which we have administrative control.
There is another aspect that I was rather pleased to hear dealt with by the ex-Minister of Education. He supports the Bill not merely because of the effect that this expenditure from the Colonial Development Fund is likely to have upon the unemployment problem in this country, any more than we urge keeping in the schools of the country for another year 400,000 children because of its effect upon unemployment. It is not because they are going to affect unemployment that we claim that these things should be done; it is because they are right in principle, and it is our duty to do them. It is right to keep children at school for a year longer, because it is a matter of principle that they should be better educated and brought to a sense of their responsibilities. It is a matter of principle that we should develop the territories that are committed to our care. It is in that spirit that I should like this matter considered.
Since the question of The Empire Marketing Board has been raised again and again, I must confess to a feeling of surprise and a certain disappointment that included in this Bill there are certain paragraphs in Clause I, paragraph (e) dealing with forestry, (h) dealing 496 with the promotion and development of mineral resources, and (i) the promotion of scientific research. It is almost entirely unnecessary that those paragraphs should have been inserted. I feel they have been inserted on the basis of the previous Development Fund Bill introduced into the House in 1909, as the Under-Secretary suggested. But we have, in the meantime, set up the Empire Marketing Board, whose principal function it has become in the last few years to develop scientific research on an Imperial basis. The idea of submitting that Empire Marketing Board, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) suggested, to minute Treasury control seems to me a complete negation of purpose, as harmful in effect as any meticulous regard for Treasury rights over all specific expenditure with the limits of this £1,000,000 a year. It seems to me we ought to approach it with a certain mount of that adventurous spirit which has been recommended to us from the other side. There is too much Treasury control by men who are taken from the Universities and start their careers in this spirit of purely negative criticism, who normally start in that way and continue for the whole of their careers in a purely negative spirit. It is their business to examine critically every item of expenditure that is brought before them. But there are some of us on these benches, and I think on the opposite benches, who hope the Treasury one day may recruit men from higher administrative officials or Departments other than the Treasury, where they have spent an apprenticeship in dealing with productive expenditure in different ways. So I would deprecate the insertion of these paragraphs in the Bill dealing with research and certain items of development which, I think, more properly belong to the Empire Marketing Board.
I look at it from a particular standpoint perhaps—the standpoint of the scientific committees which will have to be set up. I am, perhaps, one of the first Members in the House to suggest that science should be represented on committees of this kind, but I would urge we do not have too many committees upon which science has to be represented. Do not set up another special scientific investigation committee or advisory committee. If you do you will overload the same group of scientists who are already 497 carrying out advisory duties for the Empire Marketing Board. You are overdoing it. You are taking many of these men away from their proper work, which is scientific research. They have been overloaded for years with these advisory committees, and if only you could cut down the number of advisory committees on science, on which you must have your scientists, so that they could at any rate envisage your Colonial or Imperial development as one committee, with large vision, you would do something to relieve them of a somewhat impossible burden. I very much hope it is not the intention of the Government to hamper in any way the activities of the Empire Marketing Board, particularly on one side. The Board, as it is constituted at present, is an admirable instrument for the prosecution and promotion of research. It is absurd to say a Board of that kind, with big schemes before it, can say to-day hew much it will want to spend in a year or two. There may be some specific problem with regard to parasites. The first thing it has to do is to find men of the right type of mind to carry on the research. Perhaps it has to train them, and then it has to decide where best it can extend their activities. That takes a certain amount of foresight. It certainly means that any estimates of the Empire Marketing Board for expenditure must, in the nature of things, be extremely hazy year in and year out. On the publicity side, I should like to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen that, although we may be spending £250,000 a year—
§ Major CHURCH
Although there is £100,000 a year spent, and although it may be time that there is no immediate tangible return to overseas producers or traders, or even the home producers and traders, yet I think the posters, artistic as they are, have a certain educative effect even from the aesthetic point of view. There is another standpoint. They bring home to a certain large section of the population, which seems inclined to forget the existence of the Empire, the fact that this country is responsible for the welfare of hundreds of millions of the peoples of the world.
I am sure all of us on both sides of the House welcome 498 back, on personal grounds, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken. We know well the personal attention he has given to the problems of Empire, and we have listened to his speech dealing with a very important side of the scientific development of the Empire. I am glad to have had an opportunity of hearing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). Later on I should like to call attention to certain aspects of Liberal policy in which he and his leader are not altogether in agreement, as is evidenced by his speech. First of all, may I say a word or two about certain Clauses in the Bill as they affect certain parts of the African Colonies of which I have personal knowledge by more than one visit and in which I have some personal interest. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman raised the question of the assistance the Bill is going to give to private enterprise. It is very necessary that the House should not go away in any doubt about that point. Speaking with some knowledge of those who have actual interests in Africa, as settlers or investors, I do not conceive that under this Bill they will ask directly for any assistance at all.
The part of Africa in which I am particularly interested is the Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. I am very glad the Lord Privy Seal referred to the great development that is going on in that territory. I believe the exports have come to the conclusion that there is a greater metalliferous area in the north of that territory undeveloped than in any similar area anywhere in the Empire, and the fact that this has hitherto to some extent escaped attention in this country is rather unfortunate. The other Colonies and Protectorates in Eastern and Central Africa—and especially does it apply to Kenya—have powerful friends in another place, in the Press and elsewhere. Until quite recently Northern Ehodesia had been rather the Cinderella of the Colonies, yet, owing to its mineral wealth, as the Lord Privy Seal truly said, there is likely to be a greater development within the next few years than in any one of the Central or East African Colonies. Nothing that I am going to say can be looked upon as polemical to the other side. I think that we have to bear in mind the position of 499 this country, of the Government, and of this House towards these Colonies and Protectorates. It is obvious that the Imperial Government have very definite obligations to these Colonies and Protectorates, obligations which, at any rate, are being partially fulfilled in this Bill.
I should like to lay down what, in my opinion, are some of those obligations. My list does not pretend to be exhaustive. In the first place—and I think I shall speak for every one in this country—we have obligations to the indigenous Africans who are entitled to expect opportunities for advancement by the provision of educational opportunities and protection against diseases in themselves and their cattle. I agree with every word which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Wandsworth (Major Church) has said. It is deplorable that immense areas in some of the richest country in Africa should be rendered practically uninhabitable both for human beings and domestic animals by the existence of the tsetse fly. The House should not forget that we have obligations to the white settlers many of whom, at any rate, the majority as far as the territory of Northern Rhodesia are concerned, are engineers and mechanics. I know personally that a number of them were trade unionists who went from this country to work in the mines. Practically all the others are settlers struggling hard in a. country most inadequately equipped with roads and agricultural and veterinary services. I want to make it clear that I am not in anyway criticising either the previous administration or the previous Labour administration. The reason for this is to be found very largely in the rapid development going on in these territories.
I again take Northern Rhodesia as an example. Although it has certain characteristics peculiar to itself, it has many characteristics in common with the remainder of the Colonies and Protectorates. What it wants is an extension of schools, of hospitals, of medical services, and all-weather roads, which are of the greatest importance—let me say to all Members in this House who represent industrial districts, we shall never be able to get a large sale of British motor cars in a country like Ehodesia until there are all-weather roads—bridges, agricultural and veterinary services and research 500 services. I maintain that no question of principle need arise between the two sides of the House in this matter nor between the Government and their supporters, except those of them, if there be any, and I hope there are not, who would like this country to wipe its hands of its Colonies and Protectorates altogether. Undoubtedly, the Imperial Government have obligations to these territories, obligations, which, I think, ought to be carried out in the future by more effective means than that of the system of grants-in-aid. The developments which will result from carrying out our obligations, in their turn will lead to the development of resources, both mental and physical, human and otherwise, of the particular territory and its people, by which alone we can expect to get an increase of trade between these Colonies and Protectorates and this country.
I say that there should be nothing between the two sides of the House on that aspect of the mater. I do not think there could be anything between the two sides of the House—and I can assure hon. Members that I am not speaking sarcastically—because the development of these services will be almost entirely, as it is bound to be, Governmental. All these things to which I have referred will be carried out, no doubt, by the different Governments. Of course, that development will in the end undoubtedly, directly or indirectly, inure to the benefit of the inhabitants. Nobody denies that. But to those, if there be any in this House, who say: "Why should we develop Eastern territories when there is so much to be carried out in this country? "The answer is, that such development also affords the prospect of an increase of trade of which manufacturers and workmen in this country can take advantage if they wish. I emphasise the point again, that without the development of these services, we can never have the sale of goods which we all hope to see brought about. I hope that the Government will make that clear. Speaking as one with actual business in these countries, I do not think it will be desirable or necessary that much of this money should be used in giving direct assistance to settlers. I do not think it is altogether a sound policy to do so. There might be a question of making loans to settlers for fencing where you can keep out disease, where cattle are raised only 501 by fencing off the different ranches and farms. It might also be necessary, as the Bill enables, that tractors should be provided. Most of the money, if it is spent properly, will be spent on the development of the very necessary ser vices which at the present time are lacking in many respects.
I do not want to introduce anything which would be contrary to the spirit in which the Debate on the various stages of this Bill has been conducted, but I feel bound to point out rather emphatically one thing to this House. One cannot visit these countries—I have been three times to Northern Rhodesia and to a good many other Colonies as well—without finding in the minds of some of the white settlers and immigrants in those countries very considerable suspicion of the good intentions of a large section of opinion in this country, and, indeed, of the good intentions of this. House. I think this is a fair reflection of the attitude these people take up. I want to say at once that I am by no means wholly in agreement with it. In the first place they say that when they see a section of people attacking them in this country when they ask for money for development purposes that they need borrowed money for their country because it is impossible to develop new territories without such territories becoming debtor countries in the first instance. In the second place they object to being called "nigger drivers" or exploiters.
From time to time I have heard some such phrases used in this House and I read a description very like it uttered by an hon. Gentleman in the course of another Bill only yesterday. The answer of these people, these settlers, the people who are making their living there, men of all classes is: "Very well, if you say you have no money, and if you say you wash your hands of us and that your own country has the sole call upon your resources, if you say that -we are exploiters and nigger drivers, our course is clear. Our course is to go to the Imperial Parliament and say: "You must let us join with our brethren elsewhere in Africa and form a confederation which will at one and the same time free us from the unfair criticism of the British Parliament which will no longer control us, and leave us clear to get loans from the United States." That opinion is growing in the 502 Colonies. No one knows it better than my right hon. Friend beside me. Such a course could not in the long run conduce to the advantage of the native Africans. Therefore, those who claim in this House, as many do, to be the particular friends of the indigenous Africans should hesitate before attacking the settlers because by so doing they may jeopardise the interests of the very people they want to protect. In the second place it is quite certain that if they did follow a course of action which some of them are in favour of, if they go, as I believe they could go to-morrow, and get loans from the United States and develop their country with that money it is quite certain it would not tend to the development, of the flowing river of trade between this country and the Colonies. I have assured all these people in the course of my visits that all the best elements of the party which the Under-Secretary and others opposite represent are as anxious to assist them in their reasonable apiration as those of us sitting on these benches. For that reason, those who hold the views that I do are very pleased to see this Bill.
Before I sit down I want to ask one or two questions of a more technical character. The Lord Privy Seal in the course of his speech—and I listened very carefully to it on the Address—spoke of the advantages which would follow from an aerial survey of certain of our territories in Africa from the point of view of ascertaining whether or not the soil was suitable for cotton growing. The aeroplane is being used more and more throughout Africa as in other undeveloped territories, for the purpose of making surveys of land and ascertaining its character. There is no doubt this is a useful and valuable proposal, but I want to state—speaking as one who has experimented himself in cotton growing—that what we chiefly want in most of the territories is further actual research at an agricultural station into the right type of cotton for the different territories. In Uganda they have succeeded in obtaining information as to the right disease-resisting variety of cotton to be grown, but we have not yet succeeded in Northern Rhodesia. I think the same sort of thing applies in Southern Rhodesia. The British Cotton-growing Association and other bodies, and a very large body of opinion, including the 503 Secretary of State for War, are pushing this matter forward, but if we are really to develop the cotton resources of Africa we cannot, in my opinion, do so until we have far better data than we have at the present time as to the right type of cotton to be grown in the different territories. There is not the least reason why we should not be able eventually to develop in Africa a cotton-growing area equal to the size of the whole present cotton-growing area of the United States.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman noted what my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) said on -the subject on paragraph (l) of Clause 1, which deals with the "other means which appear calculated to achieve the purpose aforesaid." As I understand my Noble Friend, he wished to be quite clear that the form in which the Clause was worded did not preclude the Government and those who will carry out the Act from including education. I think the Chancellor of the Duchy was not in the House at the moment. My Noble Friend asked for an explanation of Clause 1 (I, l), and asked whether it would include education, pointing out that it bad been sometimes held that the use of such words as "including surveys" would he held to preclude other forms of activity. If I am assured that, after consultation with their experts, the Government say that my Noble Friend's fears are not well founded, I am satisfied. We were glad to hear that the Advisory Committee will not he paid, that they are to be a voluntary committee, and that only their expenses will be paid. I agree with what my Noble Friend said about Treasury control under Sub-section (1), and I hope that when the representative of the Government replies he will give us a rather more extended justification for this proposal than we have had.
I am most anxious not to introduce any contention, but I cannot refrain from referring to something that was said by the right hon. Member for Darwen. He said that it was 20 or 30 years since there had been any "Little Englanders" in this House. I cannot accept That statement. I sat and the right hon. Gentleman sat in this House through the Parliament of 1906 and 504 until 1914, when the Liberal party were in power, and one could not fail to realise in those days that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the late Lord Harcourt, a notable member of the right hon. Gentleman's own party, was constantly hampered and harassed by the Little Englander sentiments of his back benchers. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman said that the little Englander section had been dead for 20 or 30 years, I was astounded. It is certainly less than 20 years since the days to which I have referred. The right hon. Gentleman vent out of his way to attack my Noble Friend the Member for Hastings; therefore he must not mind if others of us on this bench attempt a riposte. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say, with great earnestness, obviously believing what he said, that Empire development formed a most important part of the Liberal party's book. I do not know whether it is called "The Liberal Party and the Nation."
The very term "Britain's Industrial Future" does not constitute what one might call an Imperial viewpoint. "Greater Britain and a Greater Industrial Future" would be more appropriate. We are told that in "Britain's Industrial Future" there is a whole chapter devoted to Empire development. That may be so, but how many chapters are there in the book? One chapter out of, say, 30 is not a very large proportion to devote to so important a subject. The right hon. Gentleman declared that the policy of his party is to encourage the Dominions and Colonies, who are to send their raw material here in return for the manufactured goods that we send to those countries. That being so, it is very regrettable that his right hon. Leader should have used a rather wounding phrase, which has become famous, about "niggers on bicycles." Anyone who read the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues during the General Election—I do not know whether this remark applies to his own speeches—would have thought that: they paid no attention whatever to Imperial questions, except to decry them. I must pay this compliment to hon. and right hon. 505 Gentlemen opposite that, much as we differ from them on almost every economic question there seems to be a far larger proportion of members of the Labour party who take a real interest in questions of Empire development than ever there was in the Liberal party. Still I am very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that the Little Englanders in his party are dead; but he will have to keep his weather eye open to see that that unfortunate species does not spring up again in the Liberal party.
§ Mr. BROCKWAY
Although I have only been in this House for three weeks I have learned already of the consideration which is given to the first speech of a new Member. We may be accustomed to speaking on the platform, but I imagine that we all rise for the first time in this House with a peculiar hesitation. I therefore ask for the indulgence of the House. The feature of this Debate that will have impressed most new Members is the fact that the proposals of the Government have been received with such agreement on the Opposition Benches. A new Member, naturally, asks how it is that, if there is such agreement, the Opposition, when they were responsible for the Government of this country during the last four and a half years, did not introduce the proposals which they are now applauding. I do not want to enter into the delightful discussion which has just passed between the Liberal and Conservative benches, except to say that if my hon. Friends on the Liberal Benches can be condemned for devoting only one chapter of their book to Imperial development, how much greater should be the condemnation of my hon. Friends opposite, who were in power for four and a half years and did not produce the legislation which they now agree to be so necessary?
The Noble Lord, the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), remarked on the fact that the present Bill could do very little to deal with the immediate needs of the unemployed. That is true. Surveys must be made, negotiations must take place, plans must be produced, applications must be received, and the Governments concerned must give their consideration to the matter. But if a Bill developing trade on these lines had been introduced four years ago, when there was an opportunity, we might now have 506 been receiving the benefits of that Measure. There are four considerations which I wish to put briefly to the House. The first concerns the labour conditions in connection with the schemes likely to be developed under this Bill. We were very glad to hear from the Government Bench a definite assurance that forced labour will be prohibited under these schemes, that the International Labour Office had been recently discussing this question and that our Government would co-operate with them in the matter. I understand that the position so far as the International Labour Office is concerned is this, that it has decided to send a questionnaire to the various Governments, asking for information. May I express the hope that when that questionnaire is received, our Government will seek to prepare and bring before the International Labour Office a definite labour code, laying down the minimum of conditions for the workers in these countries.
That labour code should cover, in the first place, a guaranteed rate of payment for the workers under such schemes and should include the definite prohibition of forced labour in a way that cannot be circumvented, and the prohibition of the employment of child labour, at least under the age of 12, upon such schemes. It should, also, lay down a minimum of sanitary conditions in regard to the crowding and herding together of native workers which is likely to result as these schemes develop. In connection with the suggested prohibition of forced labour, at least within the local areas which come under this Measure, I would point out that forced labour is still continuing. I have correspondence which shows that in connection with that forced labour children of tender years are still employed, without payment for the work they do in connection with public undertakings. We hope very much that the new administration of the Labour Government will see that such conditions are ended.
In South Africa at the present time the trade union movement is developing among the native workers, but there have been certain restrictions upon that movement. There are hopes that that trade union movement will develop to Central Africa and East Africa. I hope that under our Labour Colonial Office instead 507 of the developments of that trade union movement being hampered and restricted it will be given the greatest possible encouragement, and that when negotiations are entered into regarding the conditions of labour under these schemes, that trade union movement will be encouraged and recognised as a means for such negotiations.
A further consideration which I wish to emphasise was mentioned in the speech of the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. C. Buxton), and it received scanty reference from the hon. Member who spoke for the Government. The hon. Member for Elland urged that these schemes should be developed in areas which would properly serve the native communities as well as the British communities out there. In referring to that argument, the representative of the Government said that there was no need for pressing the point upon the Government, and that there was no danger that the railways and other public works might be developed in a privileged way for British interests. In East Africa, experience proves the importance of the point which was urged by the hon. Member for Elland. We hope very much that in the development of these schemes a proportion of the expenditure—I do not think that two-thirds would be unreasonable—should be spent where SO per cent. of the population lives, and that is, in the reserved areas of the countries concerned.
A third point which I wish to urge, relates to the increased value of land which will result from the development of these schemes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am very grateful for the applause and the support from these benches. Already there has been very considerable speculation in the countries where there has been a development of industrial schemes. In East Africa, for example, where land has been bought at a few pennies an acre—2d. an acre is an example which has been given to me—that same land has been sold within a short period for as much as £50 an acre. We ask that in the preparation of these plans definite regulations shall be laid down to secure that the increased value of land due to this public assistance shall go to the public and not to private individuals.
508 My last point refers to the question of public and private enterprise. We admit that it is impossible in this Measure to lay down a hard and fast line and say that no assistance must be given to private enterprise, but we do urge very strongly that when such assistance is given in the case of new developments, railways, bridges, harbours and mineral development, that these new developments shall be under public auspices and not be conducted by private enterprise. In this country already we have, reached a position where that kind of enterprise is publicly conducted, and in respect of minerals we have the hope held out in the King's Speech that, they will be nationalised. I suggest that what is a good policy for this country in that connection is a good policy for the countries abroad, which we are assisting. In so far as private industries are concerned we press strongly that where public assistance is given there shall be public control in proportion to the amount of public assistance. In urging this we are not putting forward any new policy. On the Continent financial assistance has been given to industries of a great variety in character and representing very extensive capital, but wherever such assistance has been given the State has assumed for itself a control proportionate to the amount of public assistance given. Although it may be impossible to rule out assistance to private enterprises we urge that when assistance is given by the community that the community should have a return in proportion of that assistance.
The policy within these areas in the past has been to discover the rich raw materials that are there and then very frequently for combines and trusts to buy up these raw materials, or the land which permits them to be exploited, at a very low rate and to employ native workers under wretched conditions. The wealth thus produced in these industries has passed to absentee landlords and absentee financiers. I suggest that the Socialist alternative to that policy is that when raw materials are found in these countries the ownership should be left to the community in whose lands they are found, and if development of them is necessary such development should take place in the interests of the people who live there; that the wealth produced by such development should be 509 used for the education and development of civilisation amongst these people so that they may rapidly advance to a position of equality among the civilised nations of the world.
Sir HILTON YOUNG
The House will no doubt desire that congratulations should be addressed to the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway) for the most successful manner in which ho has acquitted himself on the occasion of first addressing this House, and I may perhaps address a special word of congratulation to him upon the ingenuity with which, strictly within the Rules of Order, he has given a wide scope to a Bill which, on the face of it, is of much smaller dimensions. It augers well for his fertility in debate in the future. On this Bill there has been a chorus of assent, because I think it is widely recognised that in dealing with its subject matter we are leaving the unsatisfactory sphere of palliatives for the great evil of unemployment and getting down to a permanent and substantial cure; not, of course, by any means the only method or cure for this great evil but one which is certainly the most satisfactory. About the principle, indeed, there has been no dissent, but it has been widely recognised that its success or failure will largely depend on the methods of administration. It is to the vital interest and well being of the scheme that the principles of its administration should be satisfactorily settled from the first. I confess to a little doubt, in my eagerness that the scheme should be successful, as to whether the Government is not setting the limit of their powers and capacities in this Bill rather too narrow to give them the fullest possible hope of making the best out of it. On the separate question of principle I should like to make a suggestion or two, or rather may I put it that I should like to ask a question or two, because these are matters which are not fully cleared up by the technical phraseology of the Bill itself.
In the first place, I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that there is no provision in the Bill for guaranteeing loans to Colonial Governments. I should like to ask why that is so. It is not really a matter of detail or of difference that we should be only taking power to make direct advances. When you are arming yourselves 510 with a weapon you want it to be as flexible as possible, and you get an additional flexibility by taking power to guarantee loans as well as to make direct advances. Not only is there an important consideration involved in the practical sphere but, as a matter of fact, if the lenders of the world only knew it some of these Colonies, to which money will be advanced under this Bill, have assets so substantial as to enable them to raise the money for themselves. Unfortunately, people do not know it; there is no information about it, and it is therefore right that the British Government with its great asset of credit should come in. What is the way to educate the public to understand how good is the credit of these Colonies? It can be done by introducing the provision, under which the Colony would actually make its appearance before the borrowing public under its own name but under the cover of the British guarantee. That is the way in which you can educate the investing public. It has occurred to me that this provision for a guarantee has been omitted from the Bill for a specific reason, and it may be that it is contemplated to give guarantees to Colonial Governments under the provisions which we considered yesterday; the general provisions for guaranting loans. No inexpert person can he confident about the exact meaning of the elaborate Resolution which we considered yesterday, and I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is the view of His Majesty's Government that the Resolution which we passed yesterday is sufficiently wide to cover guarantees for loans in British Colonies overseas? I see that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster shakes his head—
Sir H. YOUNG
It is a point which can be cleared up. Let me put it in this way. Unless the Resolution passed yesterday is sufficiently wide to cover guarantees for loans to the Dominion Governments, would it not be very desirable that provision for guarantees should 511 be included in this Bill? There is another very important factor, not a detail, of the widest principles of administration which are to be laid down for the development of this matter; and it is this. Thi3 Bill really seems to me to mix together, almost muddle, two wholly different directions of advance as regards Colonial development. There is the direction of advance by spending money on research and education and organisation. That is specifically money which is a grant to the Colony, spent out of pocket, because you do not expect any direct immediate and positive return. It does not earn money directly; it only earns it indirectly. That is one direction of advance in development. The other direction of advance is the direction of economic development, by such undertakings as transport and so on. That is specifically work which you do by advancing money on which you expect a return, because the undertaking becomes profit earning and yields a return. It has occurred to me that it is somewhat undesirable to confound the two together. In this Bill they are put under a single sum of £1,000,000 a year, and consequently there is no provision made for the different administration of the two spheres. Taking these two things in order, would it not be much better to specify the amount you are going to devote to grants for research and the expenditure which you are going to authorise for advances for economic development?
There is a question of principle involved, and it is this, that you should make up your mind how much of the amount you are going to devote to each. You should have some idea as to whether half is going to be spent on one and half on the other or whether a quarter is going to be spent on one and three-quarters on the other. That is a matter of so much importance that it should be the subject of consideration by this House itself and should not be left to the decision of a Committee. My own view would be that, if that is a matter which should come up for a decision in this House, we should, taking the long view and making the big effort, decide that your attention should be devoted, your effort should be made, your money should be spent, on economic development. That is where the big effort should be made because that is 512 where you will get the best return for the people of this country in employment and for the people of the Colonies in better conditions of living. I am not in the least attempting to belittle the importance of the grant for research and so on, but it appears to me, if I may put it in this way—and I think it will carry conviction to those who have had any experience in Colonial administration—that it will be undesirable to arouse a state of affairs in the Committee as to lead to a competition between the purposes of research and an indirect return and the purposes of economic development and a direct return. We had better settle that question of future Imperial policy before the Bill leaves the House.
Then comes the question of the administrative organisation. The Bill shows no sign of recognising that any different machinery is necessary for these two purposes, and every practical administrator will certainly say that it is impossible to combine the two in a single organisation. A committee which is an appropriate committee for advising on the question of research would be inappropriate for advising on the question of economic development. There is the question of future policy involved, to which very special reference should be made now. It is one of the stars of hope for the future and the improvement of colonial administration that we should establish here, at the headquarters of the colonial Empire, an adequate central headquarters staff for research, for education and for these other purposes. Surely it is to such bodies as those that the Government would naturally look for advice upon the expenditure of these grants? Would it not be better to separate the whole of that region of administration at the outset, lest you should be placing any confusion in the way of tie path for the rapid establishment at headquarters of those organs which we all know to be so necessary and so much desire to see?
There is another curious limitation in the scheme as devised in the Bill, about which one must at any rate ask an explanation. Why is this assistance, this stimulus which is to be given to the Colonial Empire overseas, confined to this mechanism of advances to colonial Governments? There may be political explanations. I do not want to introduce any controversial element. I can under- 513 stand that it is easier to recommend that proposal to the general political effections of hon. Members on the Government side. But if we may look upon this question as a purely practical question, and a question of how we can get the best out of this money for the development of the Empire, is it not a pity to limit the possibility of making these grants so that they can be made only to Governments I There are public utility companies operating in the Colonies, carrying on public services and capable of making for the development of the conditions of life in those countries, just in the same way as at home.
Again, this raises the question, what is the scope of the Resolution that we passed yesterday? If under the Resolution that we passed yesterday, it is possible to give such assistance as this and there is to be power to give assistance to public utility companies and such undertakings in the Colonial Empire, then of course it is unnecessary to insert a provision in the Bill; but if, on the other hand, the scope of the Resolutions that we passed yesterday is, so limited that they are not capable of being used for the assistance of public utility companies in the Colonial Empire, then again I suggest that for the successful working of this scheme, for getting the best possible out of it, it would be better to widen the scope of the Bill and to take power to make grants not only to Colonial Governments. That leads directly, by a process of the severe logic of events, to another point which I should like most urgently to press upon the Government as an intrinsic part of the scheme for the improvement of Colonial credit which is contained in this Bill, because that is really one of the central purposes of the Bill—to improve Colonial credit and to enable Colonial Governments to get the funds that they require.
This Bill is intended to enable the Colonies to get fresh money for these works. At the same time would it not be a very wise thing to consider another aspect of Colonial credit which is really the seamy side of the bright side that we are looking at to-day? I refer to the old, moribund or bad debts which this country has outstanding against several of our Colonial Governments. One might put it in this way in order to show the strict relevance: It is a very tenable 514 theory that if you were to relieve some Colonial Governments from the burden of their debts to the British Treasury, you would so much improve their credit that such assistance as that recommended in the Bill would be unnecessary. But their credit is depressed by this deadweight burden of unremunerative debt to the British Treasury, incurred for undertakings started in the past.
Certainly it would be a perfectly fair retort to an argument in favour of such relief as that to the Colonies, that at the very time when you are trying to assist their credit it would not be a prudent thing to exhibit them as not being able to earn a return for the money borrowed in the past by wiping that debt off the slate. But what is done, of course, in the case of a business undertaking under such conditions, is that when you want fresh money, you postpone the old debt to the fresh money, and you point out to the old debtor that in order to make the undertaking a happy and prosperous concern, he has to allow his priority to lapse. In such a sphere as this I would like to suggest that this is an appropriate opportunity for a review of these old debts in order to ascertain whether it really is not most in the interest both of the British taxpayer and of the Colonies themselves to postpone the priority of these debts and to put the Treasury rather in the position of the ordinary shareholder and not that of the debenture holder, so that he will get his return as and when the Colony is really earning and the credit of the Colony shall be relieved of the deadweight burden?
There are three or four very important questions, as regards the geograhical area over which this Bill is to have power to operate, which still need clearing up. A question was put to the Lord Privy Seal on the Money Resolution as to what would be the bearing of this Bill upon Iraq. Iraq has a dubious status—not dubious in any derogatory sense, but dubious in the sense that it might puzzle an international lawyer. It is in effect in the position of a mandated territory, and yet, I understand, there is no mandate, strictly speaking. Since that is so, it would appear that Iraq could not be within the ambit of the Bill. If that be so, would it not be worth while to review the matter? Iraq is as much in need of 515 assistance as many Colonies and mandated territories, and as a matter of fact the benefits which are expected from this Bill in other parts of the world could be got quite characteristically and with as much certainty there as anywhere else by giving assistance of the sort designed by the Bill to such a proposition as the Iraq railway. The reply of the Lord Privy Seal left me, at any rate, in very great doubt as to whether Iraq was included in the Bill or not. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Duchy will say whether it is or not. I understand him to say that it is not. If that statement is based on a technical difficulty, let me urge him at this period to give most serious consideration to the question whether the difficulty cannot be overcome. It may be said that the political susceptibilites, the honourable and legitimate susceptibilities of the Arab State might be injured by its inclusion in the Bill.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
Is it not the case that Iraq is mandated territory legally although not according to the special agreement?
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
Iraq is specifically excluded under the words "a mandate being exercised by His Majesty's Government." The words "being exercised" exclude it.
Sir H. YOUNG
We must accept the interpretation of the Chancellor of the Duchy that the Bill does actually exclude Iraq, and that it is done intentionally. That intention is what I am venturing to question, and I am advancing the argument that if possible that intention should be reviewed. There are, no doubt, legitimate susceptibilities in the Arab state which might be injured were any inclusion made of Iraq on the same basis as other mandated territories. But would the difficulty not be overcome by a special clause to be devoted to the special case of Iraq, so as to secure the benefits of the Bill both for this country and for Iraq without any wounding of susceptibilities? I cannot but think that in view of the material benefit which Iraq might derive from the Bill, the susceptibilities would not be found to be too great.
Let me make an even bolder suggestion, and that is, why should there not 516 be a special reference to the case of Southern Rhodesia? I am sure that we do not want the great potentialities which are contained in this Bill to be "cabin'd and connn'd" by any mere technicalities. It is in substance a technicality which would exclude Southern Rhodesia whilst admitting other regions which in economic development and territorial position are very similar and differ only in political status. In this matter, surely political status is not so immediately relevant as economic development? It might well be essential that there should be some consultation before such a measure were contemplated, but if the Government are seeking to get the best possible out of this Measure, would it not be worth while to look around and see whether in such cases as these two something cannot be done to get rid of technicalities, and with good will all round to widen the scope and the utility of the. Measure?
There are really an enormous number of questions of the very greatest delicacy raised by this Bill. At the moment let me refer to the question of the mandated areas and their status in relation to this Bill. I will confine myself to putting them in the simplest possible way in two questions. Has His Majesty's Government considered the question of what security can be given to a lender by a mandated territory, in view of the question which arises as to the actual ownership of State assess in a mandated territory? Secondly, when proposing Clause 3 of the Bill, has the Government given some consideration to all that is implied when investors are invited to invest in a loan issued by a mandated territory on the security of the assets of that territory, with tie guarantee of the British Government? Is it realised—I am sure it must be—that we must deduce from that a most important deduction as to the permanency of the relation between the Government and the mandated territories?
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has devoted particular attention to the subjects on which the House is now engaged, and his report has been of the utmost value to all who are interested in the development of those countries. It is therefore with particular interest that I listened, 517 as a newcomer to this sphere, to the proposals which he has made. There are many of those proposals which upon the Committee stage might well be considered, and some agreement might be reached upon them. There are others of the suggestions to which objections present themselves, and I hope to reply upon those points during the course of my observations. I will straightaway assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is quite impossible for the Resolution which the House passed yesterday to affect the colonies. Under the home development Resolution that we were discussing yesterday the guaranteed loan cannot be applied to the purposes which we are discussing to-day. That is quite clear from reading the Resolution.
This has been a very happy Debate since it has brought all parties in support of the proposal which the Government have been so fortunate as to adduce, and, since it has even received the blessing of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), I felt that indeed the Council of State, of which we have heard so much, was in action. I think it is the first time for some 10 years in this House that the Noble Lord and I have not found ourselves in opposition on every subject that was introduced. It was therefore a peculiar pleasure to me—it brought back a very remote period of my existence—when I found myself once again in agreement with him, and was even happy enough to receive on behalf of the Government the commendations of the Noble Lord. He appeared, in the course of his observations, to support the late Colonial Secretary rather than the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his efforts were devoted to the widening of the Gangway rather than the Floor of the House. His strictures fell rather upon the Liberal party than upon the Government benches. These are subjects with which the right hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) and the Noble Lord have been familiar for a great many years. I therefore listened with great interest to their observations upon the Money Resolution and the Bill.
It is my unfortunate lot to have to reply on the work connected with some dozen Departments of State and to have to master, as far as I can, the work of all of those Departments so far as they are connected with unemployment. I can assure 518 the hon. Members opposite that I shall do my best to meet all the detailed points that they have raised. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) raised the point as to whether health can be included in the purview of the Bill. Quite clearly, under the wording of the Bill, animal health is included, because anything relating to agriculture concerns animal health, and therefore animals are within the purview of the Bill. But I think the Noble Lord was referring to human diseases, and there, I hope, I can give some more encouragement than he found in the Bill, because the governing words are—aiding and developing agriculture and industry.Those words introduce to a very large extent the human element. He will find those governing words in Clause 1, Subsection (1) of the Bill, and repeated in subsequent Sub-sections. It should be clear that, where you are dealing with the promotion of industry, the health of those engaged in industry is of primary concern—certainly to us on these benches, and I have no doubt to hon. Members on the benches opposite.
§ Lord E. PERCY
The hon. Member is quite right, but may I point out that the words to which he refers are themselves qualified by the phrase:For the purpose of aiding and developing agriculture and industry in the colony or territory, and thereby promoting commerce with or industry in the united Kingdom, by any of the following means.Therefore, I am afraid that, grammatically, I do not find the comfort in those words which the hon. Member appears to find.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
Those are the primary governing words. Then, later on, you find in paragraph (i) the words:The promotion of scientific research, instruction, and experiments in the science, methods and practice of agriculture and industry.I am advised that, within the framework of these various Sections and Sub-sections, it is possible to introduce diseases which affect those engaged in industry, and consequently impair the efficiency of those who are thus engaged. Certainly, such diseases as hook worm, which notably impair the efficiency of those engaged in industry, can be dealt with under this Bill. In fact, whenever we 519 come to a consideration of industrial efficiency, we must at once be led to the physical condition of those engaged in the industry, and it would be a very narrow and very mistaken reading of the purposes of this Bill if the great human element, upon which, after all, all industrial efficiency rests in the first degree, was excluded from its purview.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
I have been trying for some five minutes to explain that it was included. Perhaps I went into such detail in trying to make that explanation that I mystified the hon. Member.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
After the explanation I have given, I can only assure the hon. Member that his fears are not justified. The next point raised by the Noble Lord was whether we were going beyond normal Treasury procedure in the provisions in this Bill. He seemed to think that we were turning the Treasury into a spending Department and were acting in a way that had no precedent. After our experience of yesterday, I can assure the Noble Lord that the Treasury representative will be only too happy to reply on this point if it is desired. If I may put froward a suggestion, I would say that there is ample precedent for the procedure here followed in the United Kingdom Fund of 1909 which was set up by the legislation of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). In fact, the Noble Lord's conception of the Treasury as the initiating and spending Department of this Measure is not justified by the Bill. If we take Clause 1, we find thatThe Treasury, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and, on the recommendation of the committee to be appointed, … may make advances.The words "on the recommendation of the committee" make it quite clear that, in the first instance, the suggestion must come from the Committee, and it is also clear that the Treasury can act only with the concurrence of the Secretary of State. I have every reason to believe that this is an entirely normal procedure which in no way departs from existing practice.
§ Lord E. PERCY
They can, of course, turn down any application the ugh recommended by the Committee?
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
Yes. It is an unfortunate fact and the power is very often exercised. The House appears to be in some doubt as to the activities of the Treasury. After all, the activities of the Treasury are governed by the policy of the Government of the day. The Treasury becomes obstructive and restrictive if it is the policy of the Government of the day to obstruct and restrict, but, if it is the policy of the Government of the day to pursue a forward policy, then the views of civil servants with their noted loyalty to the Government of the day coincide with the views of the Government, and what is a great obstacle to one Administration may become a great assistance to another Administration.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Is it the policy of His Majesty's Government at the present time to pursue such a forward and progressive policy?
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
I thought that the mention of the word "Treasury" would invite the intervention of the hon. Member. Whether as Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer or as a back bencher, the hon. Member never hesitantes to pronounce the views of the Treasury. I can assure him that since he controlled the Treasury a change of Government policy has been indicated and that they are really beginning to forget the sound canons of financial restriction which he laid down for their guidance.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) who spoke for the Liberal party raised a subject on which he is peculiarly well qualified to speak. He raised the subject of Palestine, in which sphere his work has won such wide fame and recognition, and he complained that Palestine was not getting a fair share in this Measure. I would point out to him that, under the provision which permits a mandated territory to come under the Colonial Stock Acts, Palestine is getting a very big concession, a very great advantage for raising money under its own credit, and, after the administration of the right hon. Gentleman, I am quite sure that the credit of Palestine is well able to take advantage of 521 the opening thus presented. Then, again, under the Development Fund, Palestine can be assisted either by way of direct loan or by grant. In both those respects, we are by this Bill presenting Palestine with opportunities that that country did not previously possess. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that something has been done to carry on the great work which he has performed in that country. He raised, quite rightly, the question of spoon-feeding—
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
That is a point which the right hon. Gentleman had in mind, that Palestine was not specifically mentioned in Clause 4. I understand that, in view of the share of Palestine in that respect, there is really no object in bringing Palestine into Clause 4, but Palestine is assisted under the other Clauses of the Bill which permit Palestine to come under the Colonial Stock Act, and also permit this country to make a loan under the Colonial Development Fund.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
Yes, that is precisely why Palestine is to receive the concession to which I have just referred. It was only to Clause 4 that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke with such authority had some objection. I am assured there is no object in including Palestine in that Clause for the reason which I have already given, and it is a point which can be further elucidated at a later stage if the right hon. Gentleman has any further remarks to make on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman also warned us against the danger of spoon-feeding rich Colonies which could perfectly well raise money on their own credit. That is a danger to which we are alive, and there is no intention on the part of the Government to make grants or loans under the Development Fund to Colonies which under the Colonial Stock Acts can raise money on their own credit. There are of course territories previously excluded from those Stock Acts which under this Bill are included and will be very well able to raise money on their own credit. I think the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Federated Malay States. Their credit stands to-day very high indeed. They could evidently, under the 522 Colonial Stock Acts, raise money on their own credit and proceed without any other assistance of any kind from this country.
The right hon. Gentleman urged upon us the point of adopting schemes, as far as possible, in which the increase would only have to be granted for a small number of years with a view to turning over our money as quickly as we could. I entirely agree with every word he said in that connection. Of course we should, in the first instance, promote schemes which would make for quick results and in which the money would soon be liberated for other and wider purposes. He dealt again with the question of supplying money to private enterprise—a question which has been raised by some of my hon. Friends behind me. In the vast majority of cases which will arise, private enterprise will not enter in any way. We are acting in every case through the Colonial Governments. The Colonial Governments receive the loans but it is true that those Governments have the power, if they wish to advance money to "private persons or bodies of persons"—I think those are the words. Those cases will very seldom arise, and when they do arise they will not come about in the way which hon. Members fear. For instance, there are many co-operative societies. There are, for instance, the peasant co-operative societies in the West Indies which I believe have been very successful. Would it be wise in the terms of the Bill to exclude such people from participating in its benefits? Clearly, every hon. Member would desire that under the terms of the Measure such people should participate in its benefits. In these advances that is the kind of activity which we have in mind and in few, if any, cases would the ordinary private settler receive direct assistance.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
I will come to that point. If he did receive assistance, is it not entirely analogous to the case of assisting a small holder in our own country? I am sure it will not be denied that in some circumstances we may have to assist small holders working in our own country and I submit that there is a complete analogy. The right hon. Gentleman has raised the question of doing much of this work through agricultural banks. Certainly. There is no reason 523 why these schemes should not be worked in conjunction with existing organisations of that kind. It is a point which we have in mind and a most valuable suggestion that the schemes should be related to existing practice.
My hon. Friend the Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway), in a maiden speech of the peculiar ability which we expected from him, raised certain questions of great interest as to labour conditions and administration in the Colonies. I think I can reassure him as to the fears which he and my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown) have expressed by reference to the terms and conditions of the Bill itself. To begin with, in Clause 1, Subsection (2), are these words:Advances under this Section may be made … on such terms and subject to such conditions as the Treasury may think fit,That is, that the home Government retains in its hands the imposition of conditions upon any of these matters in giving assistance. The home Government is not losing control over these questions and, beyond that, in the case of the Colonies the home Administration has very large rights of control in practically all cases. As far as the Socialist aspect of the case arises, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford has pointed out, in most cases these will be some of the most directly Socialist enterprises undertaken by the Government at any time, for the simple reason that the land, the railways and the public facilities, rest in the hands of the Government and the work will be carried out by the Government under the direct auspices of the State. That is a degree of Socialist activity which, so far, it has not been our fortune to meet with, and the few exceptions to that rule will mostly be of that co-operative order with which hon. Members behind me will be the very last to quarrel. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings, in expressing his agreement with the Bill, commended the proposals of the Government on the ground that they took the long view. He said, I think rightly, that Governments have been too much inclined to take the short view on this matter and that his own Government in particular were so much concerned with watching the unemployment 524 figures that they had not actually the time or the inspiration to bring forward a Measure of this kind. On such a happy occasion as this I am not going into that consideration. I would rather join with the Noble Lord in cordial agreement that the long view as well as the short view must be taken.
Whatever measures we can take to overcome unemployment ought to be taken by the Government. Whether they are projects which will give immediate results or which will only give long-term results, they ought to be adopted by the Government, if they help in dealing with the unemployment problem. In this proposal we have a happy combination of short and long effects. In a project such as the Zambesi Bridge, we have the prospect at a comparatively early date of steel orders for this country, while as a result of the general opening up of these new territories, we can look for markets and trading facilities in days which are comparatively far ahead. We have here a combination of short term and long term policy which must commend itself to all who wish to make a serious and abiding diminution in the unemployment problem. This Measure, having been so happily received in all quarters of the House, and this being a unique occasion of agreement and general felicity, I make an earnest appeal to the House to let, us have the Second Reading of the Bill now. As hon. Members know, these proceedings will be interrupted at half-past seven o'clock by other business. There will be ample opportunities during the Committee stage to deal with the points which I have not dealt with—if there are any, because I think I have dealt with most of them. In addition, there will be other stages of the Bill—
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Will the hon. Baronet say whether a scientific representative is to be appointed on the Advisory Committee? That is a very important point in view of the necessity for liaison between the Empire Marketing Board and this new Fund. It is desirable that the Committee should not consist merely of business men who have no knowledge of science.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
That is a very important point which ought to receive every consideration. That question and also the question raised by the right 525 hon. Gentleman the Member for Seven-oaks (Sir H. Young) of dividing research from development, might well arise when we proceed to consider the dovetailing of the Empire Marketing Board into the scheme, as promised by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal when he introduced the Money Resolution. These are questions of administration, of combining the existing and the new machinery, which might well arise on that occasion and that is a suggestion which we shall most certainly bear in mind. If we can have the Second Reading now we can press forward with a Measure which, by general agreement of the House, makes some contribution to dealing with unemployment and which will at a not too distant date provide some hope of orders for industry in this country and a mitigation of the greatest evil of our time.
§ Captain RONALD HENDERSON
Several speakers have emphasised the fact that we ought to take the long view. One point which does not seem to have been mentioned so far is that if we take the long view we are in duty bound to take the wide view at the same time. One person whose interest has not been mentioned this afternoon is the British taxpayer who is finding the money. There was only a brief reference by one hon. Member and he did not deal with all the aspects of that question. The genesis of this Bill is the necessity for dealing with unemployment at home. It is hoped that the stimulus which this Measure will give to various enterprises in the Colonies and mandated territories will produce a repercussion so to speak, in our workshops and factories at home. But there is nothing in the Bill to make certain that that repercussion will be felt in our workshops and factories. The one thing that has not been considered is the British working man's point of view and that is the point of view which I want to bring before the House because in my humble opinion it is of the greatest possible importance. We hope to see important contracts placed here which will be of great benefit to this country but there is nothing in the Bill to make sure that they will be placed in this country. If they are open to world competition we may see foreign countries, as a result of sweated labour and low wages, securing these contracts and 526 in that case we shall not derive the slightest benefit, or any help towards solving the unemployment problem which was the end originally in view. This may be described as a Committee point but I think it is of such fundamental importance as to be worthy of introduction into the Second Reading Debate, because it relates to the basis and object of the Bill. No provision of any kind has been made to ensure that the contracts which will ensue from the financial provisions of the Bill—
§ It being half-past Seven of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.