§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 4, line 3, to leave out from the word "Colonies" to the end of the subsection.
This is going to be a very important Committee and a very important part of the machinery of this Bill, and to make every appointment subject to the approval of the Treasury is going a little too far. If the clause provided that the 767 Committee shall be appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies after consultation with the Treasury I should have nothing to say about it. The Committee is to undertake the various duties which are mentioned in the Bill. In the first place, it applies to agriculture. Then to the improvement of internal transport and communications; to the construction and improvement of harbours; to the development and improvement I of fisheries; to forestry; to land drainage; to the promotion and discovery of water supplies and the development of water power; to the development of mineral resources; to electricity—which we inserted this afternoon—to the promotion of scientific research instruction and experiments in the science, methods and practice of agriculture and industry, the organisation of co-operation and instruction in the growing and marketing of produce; and to another object inserted by the Chancellor of the Duchy this afternoon; health. If the Committee is to deal really adequately with all these subjects it must contain representatives not only of the business and financial world, whose advice on subjects like transport and the construction of harbours will be most valuable, but at least one representative who is skilled in tropical medicine and another who is an expert on tropical agriculture.
I very much doubt whether the Treasury is really the best body to decide who are the people to compose this Committee. The Treasury is interested in the financial objects, but its business, after all, is strictly limited. I doubt whether it is the best judge in advising whether any scheme for scientific research is one on which the Committee should make a recommendation or not. These matters are difficult and very technical. There has been a very great and very important discovery in a matter which I think might come under the Bill, namely, the importation of apples. If an appliance with a mesh larger than a certain size is used you get rid of one sort of parasite in the packages but enable another parasite to get into the apples and injure them in transport. There are other bodies which really have better knowledge of the qualifications of members of such a committee than the Treasury can possibly possess. I should be willing to leave the appointment of this committee in the hands of 768 the Secretary of State, who draws advice from many quarters which are more in touch with some of the objects of the Bill than the Treasury can be.
But if it is thought desirable that the Treasury should have a word to say on the subject, I suggest that the words "after consultation with" would be better than "subject to the approval of." Another important point on which a concession has been made to-day relates to health. That calls for someone who is an expert in tropical medicine. The number of people who really understand tropical medicine is not very large, and I doubt whether the Treasury are the best people to say which of the few gentlemen in this country who really understand tropical diseases are the most suitable men to put on the committee. To require that every appointment shall be subject to the consent of the Treasury is going rather further than is absolutely necessary to meet the necessities of the case.
I wish to support the Amendment. I am certain that, on the whole, it is essential that we should leave Treasury control as such over the financial proceedings under the Bill. Our object in bringing forward the Amendment is to make it clear that: the appointment of this committee is a matter in which the knowledge and the authority of the Secretary of State and his Department should be the controlling influence, subject, of course, to the usual limitation on expenditure such as the Treasury will lay down. We do not wish to handicap the Treasury in knowing exactly what is going on in regard to finance, but from the point of view of collecting the best people to serve on the committee we are certain that it is essential that the controlling factor in the appointments should be with the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
It is not really a very big difference which divides us. I understand that the hon. and gallant Members would be quite content if we put in the words "after consultation with" instead of "subject to the approval of" the Treasury. I do not think the change would make the least difference, because if the Treasury in consultation did object, in actual fact it would have about the same power of veto as that possessed 769 under the Clause. Of course the Treasury does come into all these things. For my part, with a very short experience of office, I am not quite as alarmed about the Treasury bogey as hon. Members opposite are after their much longer experience. As I said yesterday, on the attitude of the Governmment of the day depends very much the attitude of the Treasury. In a matter like this, where you are dealing with quite an extraordinary number of subjects, is not the body of civil servants which you wish to associate with the Development Fund, that body which in the natural course of its work covers a far greater range of subjects than any other Department, and which incidentally attracts to its service individuals of quite extraordinary ability? I would like to mobilise the Treasury for these great development works. If we can get the Treasury in on this kind of thing, we get the extraordinary experience of the Treasury behind the project. In that case I have considerable hopes of rapid development. I may be optimistic, but so far I have experienced nothing but great help from Treasury officials in this kind of work.
§ Captain BOURNE
I quite agree with the hon. Baronet, but my view was that certain of the people on this new committee would require qualifications which are slightly outside the field of the ordinary Treasury official. I am not for a moment criticising the desirability of getting the Treasury into this work, or the enormous knowledge and experience that the Treasury has, but you are to have a committee which is dealing with widely different subjects, some of which are by no means well known to the average citizen or the average civil servant. It is only for that reason that I thought consultation with the Treasury would be better than giving the Treasury power of absolute veto on such an obscure thing, say, as tropical medicine.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. W. J. BROWN
I beg to move, in page 4, line 3, at the end, to insert the words:and shall include two representatives appointed to represent the interests of the native population.The object of this Amendment is to ensure that not only shall the Treasury point 770 of view, the business man's point of view and the point of view of colonial development be represented on the committee, but that, in addition, there should be two persons specially charged with the task of looking after every project from the standpoint of its effect upon the native population. It is not suggested that the individuals to be appointed should be members of the native population because that would be impracticable. It is suggested, however, that there are men whose names are well known in this country for their interest in the native population, who would be willing to give their services in this way and whose presence on the committee would afford some guarantee that the point of view of the native population—or if the Noble Lord opposite prefers it, the indigenous African population—shall be adequately taken into account in considering proposals for advances or loans under this Clause.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
Apart from other difficulties which this Amendment might present, there is one which immediately suggests itself. There would, I suppose, be at least a score of different native interests—sometimes conflicting—concerned and it would be exceedingly difficult to decide exactly what interests should be represented or even to decide as to the representatives likely to be acceptable to all of them. There is that rather big administrative difficulty, but I would also suggest that it is not so much on this committee, which is concerned with advising on business propositions, that you want native representation, as on the other side—on the spot, advising and assisting the Colonial Government in the actual application of the money which is received. That, again, is a matter of Colonial Office administration which can and no doubt will be pressed on the Colonial Office by my hon. Friend and others. Not in the least do we wish to exclude full representation for the indigenous native population from the Bill or from any of these activities, but, on a sheer question of machinery, and in view of the purposes for which this committee will be set up, it seems inappropriate that this Amendment should be accepted, and I hope very much that, on this explanation, my hon. Friend may see his way to withdraw it.
§ Mr. W. J. BROWN
If I am to understand that the Colonial Office will use its good offices with the Governments of the Colonies which receive advances or loans under this Clause, in favour of associating with the administration of those loans persons who represent the native point of view, that will largely meet the purpose of my Amendment.
§ Mr. T. LEWIS
Precisely what are the duties of the Committee? I have been looking into the Bill very carefully indeed and it is difficult to find what exactly are its functions.
§ Sir O. MOSLEY
The duties of the Committee are set out in Clause 1. Subsection (1) states that the Treasury with the concurrence of the Secretary of State andOn the recommendation of the Committee to be appointed," etc.may make advances. This committee in fact is to be the initiator of all the activities described in Clause 1. It is on the recommendation of the committee that all these projects may be undertaken and if my hon. Friend reads through Clause 1 he will be reading the prospective activities of the Committee. In regard to the point made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. W. J. Brown) the whole object of Labour Colonial administration must be increasingly to associate with Colonial administration the native population—an object which will command very wide assent even outside the ranks of our party.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.