HC Deb 24 February 1930 vol 235 cc1949-81

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £4,250, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1930, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Dr. Drummond Shiels)

I have to present the Supplementary Estimate for the expenses of the Colonial Office. The total amount is £4,250. There are two items involved and the first item consists of two parts. On the first part, I need make no comment as it is consequent on the retention of the Civil Service bonus. The second part of the first item refers to the expenses of staff in connection with the Colonial Development Fund. Seeing that this is the first occasion on which the matter has been before the Committee since the Act was passed, it would not be out of place if I said a little as to how the Development Fund Committee are getting on with their work and as to the results of their proceedings so far. It will be remembered that this fund was set up to provide grants or advances to the Governments of Colonies, Protectorates and Mandated Territories, to which the Act applies, and for the development of agriculture and industry in these colonies, thereby promoting commerce with and industry in the United Kingdom.

There were various schemes indicated by which this was to be achieved. The Committee will remember that applications are accepted only from or on behalf of the Governments of the Colonies, Protectorates, and Mandated Territories and that assistance may be granted only to such Governments. The applications are examined in the Colonial Office, and are referred in that department to the Colonial Development Advisory Committee, and this Committee's recommendations are communicated simultaneously to the Secretary of State for the Colonies and to the Treasury, the approval of both these being necessary under the Act. The personnel of the Committee is Sir Basil Blackett, K.C.B., K.C.S.I., Chairman, Mr. Ernest Bevin, Sir John Eaglesome, K.C.M.G., Mr. R. H. Jackson, Sir Felix Pole, Mr. Allan Rae Smith, O.B.E. I would like to take the opportunity of expressing the thanks of His Majesty's Government for the very valuable assistance which these gentlemen are rendering not only to the Colonial Office, and to colonial development, but also, I believe, to the unemployed in this country. It is well that we should record our appreciation of the voluntary and valuable work which they do.

In the discussions when the Bill was before the House, the Lord Privy Seal was questioned with regard to the effect of the existence of this Committee on the work of the Empire Marketing Board. Fears were expressed that there might be overlapping. The right hon. Gentleman agreed that he would go into that matter and would see that nothing of the kind happened. I am very glad to say that arrangements have been made which, so far as they have gone, have been perfectly satisfactory and show that there is little danger of overlapping being likely to take place. The main functions of the two bodies are essentially complementary and no difficulty has been experienced in ensuring co-ordination in the special case of agricultural research and the marketing of colonial products in which each is interested. The Chairman of the Development Advisory Committee has accepted a seat on the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board, and in that way a liaison is established and anything which has to do with research comes first to the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board, and, if it is not then considered suitable for the Empire Marketing Board, it is passed on to the Colonial Development Committee. Broadly, the understanding is that the administration of the Colonial Development Fund will be directed in the main to purposes not falling within the province of the Empire Marketing Board.

The total cost of the estimated projects recommended by the committee, since its inception in August last and approved by the Colonial Office and the Treasury is, approximately, £5,600,000, arid the total man-years employment which this expenditure will represent is approximately 7,695. The total assistance to be provided over a period of five years, for which approval has so far been obtained, is about £1,362,000, comprising loans amounting to £588,000 and free grants amounting to £774,000. In some cases, the capital cost of schemes in East Africa to be assisted from the fund will be met by the Government of the Colonies concerned from the loans raised under the Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, 1926, as amended by the Colonial Development Act, 1929. The value of these schemes is £3,950,000. The Colonial Development Advisory Committee was appointed by the Secretary of State to take over, in addition to its own duties, the functions of the advisory committee appointed under the Palestine and East Africa Loans Act, 1926, and works under that Act, representing £837,320, have been approved on their recommendation, in addition to the £3,950,000 mentioned above. The final report of the committee appointed under the 1926 Act has just been presented to Parliament in Command Paper 3494.

In regard to what the Development Committee have done, I think it will be agreed that the first essential of any development in a Colony, of any substantial improvement in a Colony in its capacity to afford employment to its own people, as well as to the people in this country, is that the inhabitants should be in proper physical condition. The committee has, therefore, very rightly given considerable attention to proposals which have been put before it with a view to improving the health and con- ditions of the people in the Colonies. The committee have already reported favourably upon more than 20 schemes received from many parts of the Empire all of which aim at improving the well-being and thereby increasing the efficiency of the populations. In Tanganyika Territory money is being provided in connection with tuberculosis which is fairly prevalent there, and it is hoped that, as a result of that work, some increased knowledge will be gained as to how to tackle this serious scourge in Africa and especially in East Africa. Three venereal disease clinics are being established in Swaziland, and approval has also been given for the erection, in a number of West Indian islands, of well-planned concrete houses to replace the insanitary wooden structures which have been occupied by the peasants there in the past.

In Somaliland and St. Lucia steps are being taken, with the aid of the fund, to assist in providing a supply of pure water. There is also a drainage scheme in connection with Freetown, Sierra Leone, which has been a very malarious part and drainage works have also been put in hand at St. Lucia and Dominica.

A medical training school is being established in Tanganyika for a big development of native medical assistance—a very much needed improvement in that country. We hope, as a result of this step, that a great many African dispensers and sanitary inspectors will be trained. A sum of £10,000 has been provided for inaugurating a sanitary campaign in Antigua and the neighbouring island St. Kitts has received visits from a highly qualified medical expert and a member of a well-known firm of sanitation engineers. The total cost of these various projects is in the neighbourhood of £170,000 of which about £112,000 is being met either by direct grant or by loan from the Development Fund. I am sure that this Committee will agree that money spent on the improvement of the public health in these various Colonies is well spent.


I think some of us would be glad to know how much of this money is by way of loan and how much by way of grant. How much of this expenditure falls upon the British taxpayer? In that connection do we understand the hon. Gentleman to say that a sum of £5,000,000 is being provided from this fund and that it is expected to give employment in this country to 7,000 men for one year.


I do not think that is quite what I said. I mentioned a figure of over 7,000 man years—


That is 7,000 men for one year.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Or one man for 7,000 years.


I have the information and the figures here, but, with the permission of the right hon. Gentleman, I would prefer now to proceed with the general story and I will deal later on with the point which he has raised.

The next subject dealt with is that of transport and communications and again it will be agreed that these are very important factors in the development of any territory. The Act has enabled the scheme for the Zambesi Bridge to be proceeded with. This scheme includes proposals for the betterment of the resources of the territory by the construction of a bridge over the River Zambesi, the improvement of the existing railway leading to and situated in Nyasaland; its extension northwards to Lake Nyasa; the building of roads, and the extension of steamer services on Lake Nyasa. The total expenditure is about £3,000,000 of which contracts placed in this country will represent over £1,000,000 and a supply of employment equivalent to some 4,000 man years.


What is meant by man years?


One man, one year!


In connection with, the Zambesi scheme negotiations with the interests concerned are proceeding satisfactorily and it is hoped to place the contracts during May. Assistance from the fund has also made possible the immediate carrying out of a number of transport schemes in Tanganyika Territory. One is for the construction of a railway 110 miles in length from Manyoni on the Tanganyika Central Railway to the Iramba Plateau at an estimated cost of £565,000, of which half is the estimated value of the orders to be placed in this country. A sum of £30,000 from the Colonial Development Fund will be granted to cover interest charges during the two years of construction, and this work will open up a purely native district.


Two years?


Yes. Another scheme is for the installation of the tablet working system throughout the Tanganyika Railway in substitution for the present "line clear" telephone working system, which is not satisfactory in view of the increase in traffic. The total cost of this new service is £45,000, to be met from an allocation from the East African Guaranteed Loam and £10,000 to cover the interest charges for the first five years, will be provided as a free grant from the Fund. A free grant from the Fund of £9,000 has also been made to cover the interest charges for two years on a loan required for the acquisition at a cost of £100,000 of a new steamer to cope with the increasing traffic on Lake Tanganyika. Approval has also been given for assistance from the Fund towards the construction of a branch line about 25 miles in length from Sanya on the Moshi-Arusha Railway to the plateau between Engaré-Nairobi and Engaré-Nanyuki at a total cost of £130,000, which represents an expenditure in this country of £65,000. This opens up a district in which white settlement is taking place.

Assistance has also been given to schemes of road development in such diverse parts of the Empire as St. Lucia and Swaziland. Help has been given also in connection with harbour works. On the recommendation of the Advisory Committee, the Government have approved of a project for the improvement and enlargement of the harbour at Famagusta in Cyprus, the present dimensions of which are too small to accommodate steamers of the size which now call at the port. This scheme, which is estimated to cost £200,000, is regarded as a useful and desirable project which it is hoped will develop the resources of the island and, in course of time, lead to increased trade with this country. The measure of assistance provided from the Fund in this case is a free grant of £50,000, or one-quarter of the total cost of the scheme, whichever is the less. Another harbour scheme which is being assisted under the Act of last year is the construction of a passenger jetty at Freetown Harbour, Sierra Leone. This will make it possible to separate passenger from goods traffic resulting in additional facilities at that harbour, and the total cost to the scheme will be £14,800, of which £10,500 will be spent in this country, and a free grant of £7,400 from the Fund has been sanctioned.


Before the hon. Gentleman leaves this matter of Colonial developments, will he tell the Committee if his Department has made any estimate whatever as to what is likely to be the amount of the increase in values resulting from these developments and who is going to get it?


I do not think that that subject has engaged their attention yet, but I have no doubt that if my hon. Friend makes representations the Colonial Office will consider them as it always considers suggestions which are made to it. Many of the Colonial Governments, in anticipation of big development schemes, are anxious to have proper surveys made of their territories before embarking upon expensive schemes. They are alive to the importance of ensuring that adequate surveys or reconnaisances should be carried out before these big schemes of assistance are started, and a number of applications for assistance from the Fund have already been approved. In Northern Rhodesia applications in respect of a series of aerial, ecological and road surveys in view of big developments which are expected in that country, have been considered and approved. Of these, perhaps the most important is a scheme for an oblique aerial survey of 63,000 square miles of country, and a direct aerial survey of six townships, at a total estimated cost of over £68,000. This will take the form of a free grant of interest of £3,429 for five years to meet interest charges on the capital expenditure involved.

In regard to agriculture, the Empire Marketing Board is the more appropriate agency for assistance being given in this connection, and there has not been a great number of schemes sanctioned in regard to agriculture, but in Northern Rhodesia- there has been assistance given to two agricultural development schemes, one concerning the European community and the other concerning agricultural development in the native reserves. In the first place, a loan for the total cost of the scheme, £16,000, has been approved in the case of the European settlement, and in the case of the native agricultural works, which are mainly for dipping tanks and water supplies, a free grant of approximately £17,000 has been given in respect of interest charges on £79,000, which is the estimated cost. The European scheme is mainly a survey scheme and the preparation of reports preliminary to the opening up of further areas for European settlement to enable agricultural development to keep pace with other developments in the territory.

The response of the Colonies to the Secretary of State's request for the submission of suitable schemes for assistance under this Colonial Development Act may be judged from the fact that, during the period of six months in which the Advisory Committee has been functioning, over 50 applications from about 25 separate Governments have been received by that body, and in the majority of cases the Committee has seen its way to make favourable recommendations on the applications. The Secretary of State, however, realises that some time must necessarily elapse before Colonial Governments can take full advantage of the facilities afforded by the Act, and that its full effect will not be felt in the first year of its operation. Steps are being taken, therefore, to bring again before the Governments of the different Colonies the great opportunities which this Act affords and to request them to give it consideration with a view to securing the benefits which it gives.

It must be remembered that many Colonial Governments have already carried out extensive programmes in recent years and are not in a position to embark on further costly undertakings immediately. In certain Dependencies also the local Governments are handicapped to some extent by the need of expert technical advisers who would enable them to plan and develop schemes on big lines. I think it will be quite realised that in many Colonies they are rather reluctant to go in for big schemes such as those that I have mentioned if they have not within their own borders the technical equipment to advise them as to the desirability and the methods of carrying out schemes, and the question is at present being considered of arranging with certain Colonial Governments for the visit of technical experts to their territories to confer with the local authorities and report on the possibility of drawing up programmes for public works which could suitably be assisted from the Development Fund. I hope these items of information in regard to the fund and how it has been working so far will be of interest to Members of the Committee.


Can the hon. Gentleman say if the very interesting facts which he has given are to be published, or are already published, in a White Paper?


No, they are not published, but if hon. Members indicate that they would care for this to be done. I think it could be arranged. I believe, myself, it would be of considerable interest, and a good many more details could be given than I have given. I did not want to weary the Committee by giving the full details in each case, but they are all available, and if a wish were expressed for their publication, I should be glad to convey it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

The second item of this Vote refers to the expenses of the Palestine Commission. Members will remember that this Commission consists of Sir Walter Shaw, chairman, the late Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements, the hon. Baronet the Member for Rushcliffe (Sir H. Betterton), the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Hopkin Morris), and the hon. Member for Woolwich East (Mr. Snell). The Commission, as hon. Members know, was appointed to investigate the causes of the disturbances in Palestine, and they proceeded to Palestine and were there for 66 days. Their headquarters were in Jerusalem, and some of the time—in all, I believe, about the equivalent of seven days—they spent touring the country and visiting parts of Jerusalem which were of importance in the inquiry. During their tour the Commissioners visited every important centre of population in Palestine, including the towns where the disturbances assumed the most violent form, and they also visited parts of Transjordan. They have also had a number of sittings here and have been very hard at work. They have been very conscientious in the discharge of their duties, and I am sure we feel indebted to them for the work which they have put into this very difficult subject.

But I think it will be generally agreed, and I understand it is generally agreed, that this Supplementary Estimate in connection with these expenses is not, under present circumstances, a suitable occasion for discussing past and future policy in regard to Palestine. I therefore do not propose to do any more than mention the facts concerning the Commission, which I have done. The Commission is still very hard at work, but we hope to get its Report soon, and I think comment on the bigger questions involved can very well wait until after that.


Can the hon. Gentleman say when that Report will be published?


Can my hon. Friend say whether he has yet decided that the minutes of evidence shall be printed?


In regard to the first question, the Commission is unable to give a date for the Report. In regard to the other question, I can only repeat, what I have said before, that that matter will certainly be considered. While, as I say, I realise that certain hon. Members are very anxious to discuss this question, I think it will be agreed that it would be in the public interest that we should restrain ourselves in the meantime and devote our attention to-night, as far as this subject is concerned, to the Vote which is now before the Committee.


I certainly agree entirely that it would hardly be in the public interest if we now attempted, even if it were in order, to discuss the important issues of past or future policy in Palestine, because, obviously, we shall have to have a full discussion of those matters when the Commission has reported. Till then, any discussion would really be a waste of the time of this Committee, and, I think, unfair to the Commissioners themselves, who, I have no doubt whatever, have done most faithful and conscientious work. Therefore, I will at once turn to the other part of the statement made by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. He made a very interesting statement, but I think it would be of advantage to the Committee if he could supplement it by a somewhat fuller account of the work of that Committee in the shape of a White Paper.

As I understood his statement, the broad effect upon employment in this country of what has been done up to date may be summed up as follows: At an expenditure of £1,300,000 by this country, we have provided or arranged for a total expenditure of some £5,000,000, which, even though it is carried out in other parts of the world, and therefore to a large extent provides employment for local workers, still has given 7,600 man-years of employment in this country. The Lord Privy Seal told us not so very long ago that £1,000,000 expended on public works in this country gave about 2,000 man-years of employment and another 2,000 man-years of indirect employment. I imagine that the 7,600 man-years referred to were direct employment, and, therefore, there would be a corresponding 7,600 man-years further of indirect employment. At any rate, whereas in ordinary expenditure on domestic purposes the expenditure by the British taxpayer of £1,000,000 results in 2,000 man-years direct employment, in this case the expenditure of £1,300,000 results in an employment of 7,600 persons, or, in other words, about three times as much employment for the money spent by the taxpayer. I think it is a justification of the policy of this Colonial Development Fund that, if the appropriate works of development are secured, the actual expenditure by the British taxpayer results in a very high percentage of employment as compared with the amount expended.


What is the reason for that?


Because I imagine we spend a certain amount of money, which enables the Colonies, who would not be able to afford it otherwise, to spend a larger amount, of which a considerable proportion is spent in this country. The object of this Development Fund is to induce profitable spending within the Empire—profitable, I understand, primarily to the Colonies concerned and to their inhabitants, but also indirectly to the people of this country—and that is a justification of the whole policy, namely, that while it develops the territories for which we have a responsibility as trustees, it also incidentally affords very direct assistance to the situation with which we are confronted here in this country.


The right hon. Gentleman's explanation is very ingenious and interesting, but I did not gather that from the Under-Secretary's remarks.


That may be because I have been a little more familiar with handling these same problems, and indeed would have been concerned in arrangements for a similar Development Fund if it had been my fortune to deal with these matters on the other side of the House It is the key of the whole situation in Empire development that you may, by putting a little water into the pump, secure a great flow of benefit both to this country and to the populations concerned-As regards items of expenditure that fall under the several heads, I will say only one thing of a general character. A great many of them are items which do not lead to immediate employment, but the ultimate employment, which some of the present expenditure will engender, will be very much greater. This applies to the expenditure on health. I agree with the hon. Member that that is a very sound form of expenditure, and I am glad that those responsible for the conduct of the Colonial Development Fund have regarded it as a matter rightly to be included within its scope. The immediate benefit undoubtedly in that case goes entirely to the population concerned. No immediate employment is created here, but undoubtedly nothing in the long run can lead to greater development of trade between this country and the various colonies concerned than anything which strengthens the health, well-being, and efficiency of their populations. Therefore, from this side of the Committee we welcome the expenditure on medical research and sanitary work, and express the hope that those responsible for the Fund will go on in their good work in that direction.

The hon. Member referred to the sanitary conditions in the West Indies. May I draw his attention to the defective state of many of the hospitals there? My attention was repeatedly drawn to them while I was in office, but so long as we were necessarily dependent upon the revenue of small impoverished Colonies, it was a difficult matter to remedy. A fund like this can just step in in a case of that sort, and give assistance in a way which it is very difficult to get from the Treasury, and when we would not be justified in getting it from local resources at a time of such depression as exists in the West Indies to-day. Another part of the expenditure, I gather, is also in the nature of preliminary work, whose fruit in employment in this country can only come in time. I mean the surveys. No work is more important or more essential to the beginnings of practical development in a new territory than a good effective survey, whether for railway purposes, for ecological purposes, or for the purposes of judging what areas are most worth development. I gather that a number of survey schemes of this sort are being started, and there, again, we hope that the hon. Gentleman may succeed in speeding up the work.

There is, as the hon. Member knows, a great ultimate economic possibility in front of some railway connection between Palestine and the East through Iraq. Such a railway, even if not immediately economic, and justifying its undertaking at once by an ordinary commercial company, may be of immense importance, especially for the oil development in Iraq, and as such development shows some signs of progressing, such a line may well become worth undertaking. Obviously, no such undertaking could become an actuality until it had been preceded by a real, adequate engineering and scientific survey. Such a survey is a matter, not of weeks, but of a year, perhaps two years and more, and I hope that those responsible for this fund will consider undertaking a further survey of that kind, for, whether an actual line may mature in the immediate future or not, we must have a survey; without it, the railway would have to be postponed for a year or two.

The Colonial Development Fund appears to have proceeded on another field of work which I had always contemplated, namely, supplementing the initial deficiency in the £10,000,000 guaranteed loan of Palestine and East Africa. The Act dealing with that loan provided for nothing more than the British guarantee, and there were good reasons for doing that, and that alone, in the first instance, because it was desirable that the Govern- ments concerned should begin at once with those schemes that could be carried out on a paying basis, for anything that pays for itself strengthens the revenue of the colony concerned, and provides a better basis for the future. At the same time, those of us who were concerned with this loan were well aware that behind the first line of paying propositions, which these territories could afford at once, was a second line of propositions which were very desirable in themselves; some of them were desirable on general Imperial grounds, others on grounds of economic development of the territories concerned, others on the ground of the work they would give at home, but these colonies and territories could not justifiably undertake them if they had to find the interest on construction straight away. I had always hoped that, either through the Development Fund, or through a special Measure, provision would be made for interest on construction during the first three, four or five years to enable these schemes to mature. When hon. Members opposite were in power in 1924, they introduced a £3,500,000 East African Loan Bill on that basis.

I am glad to know that not only the great Zambesi Bridge and Nyasaland development are going through, but that various important branch lines and improvements of the railway system of Tanganyika have also been sanctioned. In that respect, I would only say that I hope the hon. Gentleman will induce the various Governments concerned to push ahead as rapidly as possible. In connection with Nyasaland and the Zambesi Bridge, I would make one observation. Nyasaland has been a Treasury controlled territory, conducted, as such territories are apt to be, on the absolute minimum of expenditure, regardless of whether a somewhat greater expenditure might not, within a few years, yield much greater results. If we are to open up Nyasaland and its resources by this new connection with the sea, it would be well worth while at the same time relaxing a little that extreme rigour which limits its medical services, its sanitary services and its general educational and administrative services, and to enable Nyasaland, by the time these works are constructed in three or four years, to take full advantage of them, and to bring back instantly to this country a fuller yield from the works which we shall have guaranteed and to which we shall have contributed.

I am glad that the little territory of Swaziland has not been forgotten in this measure of assistance. Swaziland is a little territory not more than hall the size of Wales, but a very beautiful and rich little territory. It is a territory for which we have a big responsibility, because this House has undertaken that it shall not enter the Union unless after full consultation with and consent of the native population and of this House, I visited Swaziland two or three years ago, and I found that it was a most interesting experiment in the development of a native and white population side by side under a true dual system—a real effort to give the best to each section of the population who were living in great harmony and in the best relations. One felt that the white settler was prospering and proud of the little country, and that the Swazi was a man who felt that he could stand upright in his own country, and that his tribal position and that of his chiefs and of the Queen were guaranteed and protected—


I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he is entering upon a discussion that is not in order and may tempt others to follow.


I was going at that very moment to turn to another thing that impressed itself on me, and that is, that while we safeguarded their position, we have done nothing for their development. It is a little Colony uncertain of its future position, and its great natural riches cannot be developed without having the benefit of good communications. I was fortunate in being able to secure some Treasury assistance for one main road, and I am delighted to hear from the hon. Member that something is being done for the development of Swaziland. I am sure that the result will be more than commensurate with the expenditure. Anything that can be done to conserve the health of a very fine race of natives, who have never been conquered by any other, well merits attention.

8.0 p.m.


I should like to invite the attention of the Committee to a side of the question which has not hitherto been touched upon, but which is most relevant. I refer to the effect of the various works of many kinds that may be undertaken under the provisions of the Fund upon the life of the natives on the spot. It will give, we are told, a certain number of man years employment in this country, but it will give a much larger number of man years employment to the native populations of the various parts of the Empire. The amount of work which will be done by them is far greater than the amount of work to be provided in this country, and the importance of the conditions under which they do that work is not to be underestimated. It is highly relevant because the Colonial Development Act, 1929, embodies provisions of a more elaborate character than we have known before for the protection of the native labour involved. I have not the Act before me, but I think the principal points were that no forced labour should be employed, that no children should be employed under a certain specified age—the minimum being defined as 12 years, but the way being left open for the fixing of another age if that were more suitable in the circumstances—and further it was provided that the conditions of work and the wages should be fair according to the standards—


I understand that we are dealing with the first part of this Estimate, the retention of the Civil Service bonus and additional staff for certain purposes.


I think you will find that the whole subject of the works to be carried out under the Colonial Development Act has been the principal subject of this discussion so far, and am I not right in going on?


The Estimate also provides for the cost of additional staff in connection with the Committee appointed under that Act.


That committee was appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Colonial Development Act, one of which is that certain conditions shall be laid down in regard to native labour. One might go at very great length into this subject, but I will content myself with asking the Under-Secretary to reply to one or two questions. The conditions laid down under the Act are of the utmost importance, and the question naturally presents itself to our mind as to how they will be applied. I would like him to give us some information as to the steps taken to see that the conditions are observed. Does the Colonial Development Advisory Committee take into account the question of the native labour which will he involved in each particular scheme, and does it lay down that these conditions must be observed before it accords its sanction to any particular scheme? If it lays down methods by which the conditions are to be applied, what are those methods? For example, I imagine that one of the methods might be to say that in a territory like Nyasaland, or Tanganyika, or Kenya, the conditions shall be subject to the approval of the Native Affairs Department concerned.

I want to point out the very great importance of the subject in its bearing not only upon the welfare of the particular individuals who will be engaged by thousands, and even by tens of thousands, on these works, but also its effect upon the whole life of the families and the tribes from which they come. The phrase "from which they come" immediately brings up the question of how they come, by what methods they are induced to come. Forced labour is excluded by the terms of the Act, but there are many kinds of contract labour, and it is exceedingly difficult to draw the line between such contract labour and forced labour, in the strictest sense of the word. In particular instances the so-called contract labour, when judged by the way it is regarded by the native labourer, comes to very much the same thing as forced labour. It all depends upon the methods employed to get that labour. But let us suppose that the men are there, that they have been got there. Then arises the question of how we are to secure for them the conditions which have been laid down in the Act. The seriousness of the effect of such great public works upon family and tribal life has been pointed out and insisted on by the highest and the most recent authorities on these matters. The Commission for the Closer Union of East Africa, which was presided over by the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young), made a very great point of these dangers, and the need for guarding against them. If I wanted to detain the Committee I could quote paragraphs of a most forceful character from the Report of that Commission showing the disastrous effects which have been produced by the calling out of great numbers of native labourers to carry out these public works, some of them on an immense scale, and many of them requiring that men should be brought scores and even hundred of miles away from their homes to work on them. One point which has to be considered is how many men are left behind to carry on the normal agricultural and other work of the community, because disastrous effects have been produced by calling out too many men.


I cannot get away from the fact that all this is out of order. I did not hear the Minister's speech, but this sum of £3,100 is in part for additional staff, and I cannot see how that item can cover all this discussion.


I think if you had heard the statement of the Under-Secretary you would have noticed that nine-tenths of it was devoted to very minute details of the various works, ranging from Antigua to Swaziland, which involve an immense amount of labour, which in its turn is provided for in the Colonial Development Act.


Surely in this Supplementary Estimate we are dealing only with the questions which are affected by this £3,100?


Perhaps I might intervene to say that this money is being voted for the staff of the Colonial Development Fund, and as this was the first occasion on which it has been before the House I took advantage of the opportunity to give hon. Members some indication of what its work had been. If I was wrong in that I apologise, but my hon. Friend is perfectly right in his description of what has gone before.


I am protecting myself by saying that we cannot allow that sort of general discussion to develop on these very small Estimates. We are not entitled to discuss matters not covered by the Supplementary Estimate.


I bow to your Ruling as to allowing the discussion to develop. I was on the point of bringing my remarks to a close by alluding, merely, to the very high authority there is for our emphasising the seriousness of the labour aspect of Colonial public works. I could refer to other authorities, but in deference to your Ruling I would only say that it would be thoroughly within the rights of hon. Members here to know not merely the effect of the works which the Under-Secretary has described upon employment in this country but their effect upon employment, under very different conditions, in those countries where vast numbers of fellow members of the Empire are vitally and immediately concerned.


In regard to the actual work of the Advisory Committee, I feel that a voice from this side of the House ought to join in the congratulations to the Minister on the personnel appointed to that Committee, because it is a guarantee that the work of the Committee will be discharged with efficiency and public spirit. As to the way in which the Committee has actually-discharged its functions, I listened to the Minister with a mingled sense of satisfaction at the impulse which the Committee had given to the work and with, also, perhaps some return of the old sense of discontent that no Committee seems to be able to get along with this work as fast as those who have placed high hopes upon its potentialities would desire; because I do not disguise that it is upon the work of this Committee that some of us have placed high hopes of fresh activities in industrial channels in this country as a contribution towards the solution of the unemployment difficulty.

When the Minister prepares the White Paper which he has been good enough to promise, and in which he will record the actual work done, so far, by the Committee, I hope that information will be given as to the time at which the work is expected to come to fruition. I am afraid it has to be recognised that in those regions, after a scheme has been put forward by a Colonial Government, if there is no time limit fixed for the accomplishment of the work, it too often happens that, owing to some small lack of initiative or energy on the part of far-distant administrators, it is apt to become nothing more than a mere paper scheme. Some of the activities of this Committee have been an extension, I might almost say a surprising extension, of what was provisionally contemplated, but I should like to join in a warm congratulation to the Committee on taking so wide a view of their functions, particularly as regards the assistance they have given to improving health conditions in our tropical Colonies and the far-sighted and enlightened manner in which, I understand, they are prepared to give the assistance of the best expert advice.

These are new activities of the Committee, and it cannot be doubted that they are most useful, and at the moment of the interruption of the hon. Member who spoke from the back bench below the Gangway, and cast doubt on the utility of this work in comparison with similar work which might be done at home, I could not but think that one could see the answer to him in this work for the improvement of health. There is a clear example of what one might call the unearned increment to be gained from a very small investment of public money. There are some regions on the East Coast of Africa where whole populations are depressed well below the level of vigorous production by an endemic disease called ankylostomiasis. A small investment of money will result in, as it were, pressing a trigger and shooting the population up to a higher level. How could one have a more conspicuous instance of how State expenditure can occasionally do good? The Committee have done well to look in that direction.

Let me pass on to another specific question and come to the Zambesi Bridge. I shall have to repeat my question as to what steps have been taken to reap a full harvest of benefit in Nyasaland from the construction of this bridge by co-operating with the railway service. I think it is a matter of common knowledge that the railways have grown up into an extremely miscellaneous organisation. There are at least three railways on Portuguese territory, and we shall never enjoy that advantage until we sweep out of the way the artificial obstructions which have disorganised the railways. Let me add a word of warm support to the argument used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) to the effect that the occasion of this enormous investment that the Com- mittee has recommended in the Zambesi Bridge should be taken advantage of to rationalise the finances which are in a disastrous state. Let me emphasise this point by calling attention to this service. Elsewhere the State encourages good effort by finding pound for pound for what is found locally, but in Nyasaland alone there is a preposterous provision that for every pound which Nyasaland raises the Treasury takes half. This is reversing the ordinary rule as regards these matters.

Now I come to the second great inquiry relating to Tanganyika and Nyasaland. We warmly welcome the extension of the previous objects of expenditure by similar committees for the purposes of the survey. I would only say, in passing, that we trust the surveys may be extended to include, not only engineering surveys, but all such other surveys as soil surveys and geological surveys, which are necessary for the proper lay-out of the land. Here is another case very similar to that referred to by my right hon. Friend—that is the case of the railway in Palestine—and I think something (might be done to stimulate the administration of the colony in the direction of taking a broader and wider view of Tanganyika, and not simply be content with a railway to Nairobi. Other enormous road schemes and railway schemes have been recommended to connect the link, so that there shall be no longer a lack of communication between the economic system of Kenya in the north and Nyasaland and Tanganyika in the south.

Finally, might it not be advisable to generalise what has been said as to the necessity of tidying the finances of Nyasaland, and take this occasion of the labours of the committee when large fresh commitments are being made in respect of Colonial finances to have a general tidying up of all that is irrational and out of date in the relations between the Treasury and Colonial finances. It would not be far to seek beyond Nyasaland to find other cases in which there are fossilised remains in those financial arrangements between the British and the Colonial Treasury, and the full benefit of the labours of the committee and the credit used by the committee for the purpose of the extension and expansion of these Colonies can never be gained until there has been a general sweeping away of all the obstacles of obsolete and dead commitments which still exist.


I should like to put one or two questions to the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Supplementary Estimate. They are questions arising out of the hon. Gentleman's speech which covered a very wide field, and I will endeavour to keep as strictly as he did within the rules of Order. As regards the Committee, this is a. new service. That Committee is operating a new Act, and this is the first expenditure under the new Act. It is confined to Palestine and East Africa. We are already familiar with the developments which have been envisaged by various committees which have visited East Africa. We did hear that the principal expenditure recommended by the Committee to date is in regard to East Africa, and there are one or two small things in regard to the East Indies and Cyprus which have been recommended. I was rather surprised, in regard to the expenditure in regard to Sierra Leone, that the Committee have not yet got to work on the problem of the further development of West Africa. We have to bear in mind that in West Africa we have a far larger population than in East Africa, and a great deal of that is still very far beyond the reach of transport and economic connections with the outside world.

There are parts of Nigeria beyond the reach of roads or railways, and I think this new Committee should endeavour to expedite the consideration of schemes for bringing other parts of our great West African possessions within the same range and means of development as the parts of West Africa nearer to the coast. One thing that has struck me in connection with this Committee is that, while it has upon it some public-spirited gentlemen familiar with finance and transport, distinguished railway managers, engineers, and the like, and persons connected with public life in this country, as far as I am aware, there is no member of it who has had recent experience of Africa which is, after all, the great centre of activity of the Committee.

There is another point which I have raised by questions in the House, and I have asked why the authorities did not employ on this Committee any representatives of modern science? We have heard from the hon. Gentleman that grants are being made for medical research and tuberculosis work in East Africa, and these are very admirable and excellent proposals, but I do just question how far the Committee, in its personnel as we have heard it, is fully qualified to decide between those projects which are of major importance and those which are of minor importance, and I should have felt happier if it were clearly understood that when any project dealing, say, with medical development was under consideration, either the Medical Adviser to the Colonial Office, or the Secretary of the Medical Research Council, or the head of the London School of Tropical Medicine, would be asked to join the Committee for the purpose of giving his fellow-members of the Committee full advice as to what is being done elsewhere, and what is the best line to take.

Similarly, with regard to agricultural projects, we have heard from the Under-Secretary to-day of two important agricultural surveys in Northern Rhodesia. These are the only two, I gather, that have been envisaged up to the present, and I quite agree that they are of immense importance in view of the certain rapid development of Northern Rhodesia in the next few years, and the vital necessity of getting more European and native agriculture going there, in order to feed the big mining population that will be collected in the North-Western corner of Northern Rhodesia. I should like to feel satisfied that the Committee have considered the scheme, and the amount of money that should properly be spent on it, after having the fullest technical advice, and I hope that on all occasions of that kind there will not merely be the liaison through Sir Basil Blackett's presence on the Research Grants Committee of the Empire Marketing Board, but also that the agricultural adviser to the Colonial Office will attend the meetings of this Committee whenever a subject of this kind comes up.

I am not quite sure from this Vote how the money is made up. I understand that all the members of the Committee are unpaid, and that the staff of the Com- mittee consists of Colonial Office officials. Do I understand that no paid staff from outside has been added to this committee, and that there is no provision for money for the attendance of people who might assist the Committee from time to time in determining particular points? I can imagine, for instance, that when some West Indian project is under consideration it might be desirable to ask some person familiar with the West Indies—and there are comparatively few people in the Colonial Office who have themselves visited the West Indies—to attend to give evidence or to assist in any way, and in that ease I think that payment should be provided, at any rate for their travelling and incidental expenses.

The hon. Gentleman said that this Committee has been dealing with large sums of money, and he mentioned the various sums with which it has dealt. He told us that part of the money is being spent by the Committee by way of free grants, and part by way of loans, but I should like to ask him whether the Committee has established any principle or rule? Do they, as nearly as possible, establish the position that, in the case, say, of an advance of interest on a loan, it shall be for a maximum of so many years? Do they, when it comes to giving money to establish a particular institution, such as the new medical school at Dar-es-Salaam—if it be at Dar-es-Salaam—give, as a principle, what is called "fifty-fifty"? Do they give half the money to establish the new institution on condition that the territory locally finds the other half; or is it clear to Colonial Governments that, if they put forward schemes for the consideration of the Committee, the Committee is prepared to give more than half the money required? The whole success of an Act of this kind, and of the working of a Committee of this kind, depends on having at the same time a certain elasticity in regard to details and a quite clear line of financial policy which Colonial Governments can understand.

One knows the reluctance of Colonial Governments to embark on new schemes involving new financial commitments unless they know in advance the sort of assistance that they are likely to receive. After all, most Colonial officials, and especially those concerned with development, are extremely busy men. The number of survey officers, agricultural officers, and medical officers in any one of these territories is comparatively small, and it has often been said to me by Colonial Governments that it is not worth while their taking such officers off their day-to-day work, which is of enormous importance and which puts tremendous pressure upon them, unless they know beforehand that something is likely to come of it—that, if they do a piece of forward reconnaissance work, for it comes to that, it will be favourably considered and really will lead to some practical development.

The hon. Gentleman told us, with regard to this question of advances of interest, that in the case of the new railways in Tanganyika which have been sanctioned by the Committee they have only agreed to advance interest for two years, and he talked about a construction period of two years. Do I understand that in this particular case of the new railway in Tanganyika the definite opinion of the Tanganyika Government and of the railway experts serving on the Committee is that it will be possible to open that line for traffic within two years of the commencement of any expenditure? If not, I think that that two-years limitation established by the Committee in this case may be unfortunate, and may discourage the production of other projects, which may be far more valuable and far-reaching, from the same territory and from other territories. I entirely agree that, when you are building a line, say, 25 or 50 miles long, you can soon bring it into production, but, when you are dealing with the new main traffic lines in Africa, with which this Committee should be dealing, I think it ought to be made quite clear that the advances of interest during the construction period must be on a very much larger scale than a two-years advance.

Again, the Expert Committee, as far as I can see, is what might be described as rather strongly balanced on the railway side. I quite agree that the time is still very far off when we shall have enough railways in Africa, and there are several important railway projects that ought to be considered without delay, but, even in the last two or three years, a great change has come over the situation by the development of motor transport and by the establishment of the new Committee financed by the Empire Marketing Board for the development of new types of overland transport other than rail, such as the new six-wheeled vehicles, half-track vehicles, and road trains, as they are sometimes called, for dealing with the produce of half-developed countries, or countries which are at the beginning of their development. All these are projects which will bring employment to this country and will serve to open up territories which you can never open up economically by the construction of railways. I think on this Committee the modern road point of view ought to be stressed and represented. The hon. Gentleman alluded to a email branch line between Arusha and Mosti, I think from Tania in Tanganyika Territory. Was it considered by the Committee whether a railway was really necessary there or whether one of these new types of vehicle would not have been more economical and more advantageous to production?

The hon. Gentleman alluded to the fact that the first task of the Committee was to take up the burden of the further consideration of the Zambesi bridge, which engaged my unfortunate interest for about five years. He said the Committee is now near to the point of action. I am very glad to hear of it, because I quite agree that the standard of trusteeship which this country has set in regard to Nyasaland is definitely below that which it has set in any other territory in Africa. It has been kept down, and the elaborate system of Treasury control of wages and the whole standard of conditions of the natives in Nyasaland, owing to the lack of communications, owing to the lack of economic opportunity, with very small salaries of the staff for your European personnel, lower than elsewhere, is one of the things I have long wished to see remedied and about which I did not mince words when I made my Report in 1924. So I am rejoiced that this new Committee has at last made some step in the right direction. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend that, if and when the Zambesi bridge is built, and Nyasaland is opened to world commerce, it will not do unless there is a review of the financial relations between Nyasaland and this country and some chance given to the people there to take advantage of the new transport route. This Committee, having dealt so expeditiously in the last few months with the problem of the Zambesi bridge, I hope they will not think it is the last word in the necessities of that part of Africa. I still believe, even when you have the Zambesi bridge, it will be necessary to consider a connection between the North end of Lake Nyasa and Dar-es-Salaam. Some such road, with the proposal by Mr. Gilman's recent Survey Report, will have to be built in the interests of Tanganyika Territory of all Nyasaland and of the adequate development of Africa.

There is another question I should like to ask. The hon. Gentleman told us expenditure had been recommended by the Committee with regard to the harbour of Famagusta. He did not give us figures, but I should like to ask whether, that expenditure will really equip the harbour so that it can become a reasonably convenient and not too uncomfortable port of call for the tourist traffic, which is increasingly developing in the Eastern Mediterranean in the winter and spring months, and is rapidly becoming of great advantage to Cyprus.

There is another point I should like to raise in response to an interruption from the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Wallhead). He talked about the land and said, "You are doing all this development work. Who is going to get the benefit?" The principal expenditure authorised by this Committee hitherto has been in Tanganyika territory. I can assure him that the land there is effectively nationalised. It is all public land belonging to the Government. It is vested in them and it is not the fact, as he seemed to suggest, that their policy is to grant anyone a freehold. They retain the freehold and only grant leaseholds, with power to revise them in the event of public expenditure of this kind. I think that is a sufficient answer to the hon. Member's anxiety under that head. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the statement he has made about the activities of this Committee. They are many and various. I hope they will continue actively because, certainly, anyone who has been through these vast sparsely populated and undeveloped areas realises that there is an enormous field for the benevolent activities of capital expenditure of this kind in equipping them so that the populations there may come forward in the standard of civilisation and physical efficiency.

I particularly rejoice that the Committee is going into the question of health services, and I hope the 20 schemes before them in that connection will only be the forerunners of many more, because I know hundreds of cases where some of the major requirements before economical development leading to employment here and ultimate trade and expansion are being held up by the scourge of tropical diseases, which are being fought gallantly by a small band of men and women. It needs the efforts of research workers here and out there and needs further support, financial and otherwise, for the purpose of helping people, who know nothing of modern science out of the terrible high death rate and sickness rate which obtains in those countries, into a knowledge of how to protect themselves against infection, and how to deal with infection when they have got it, and so help forward the prosperity and happiness of these countries for which we are trustees.


I hope hon. Members will not think me discourteous if I am not able to answer in detail the various points that have been brought forward. I expect a great many of them will be answered if I am able to have the White Paper published giving somewhat more detail than I was able to do to-night. But I promised to give some figures. The total estimated expenditure so far authorised by the Committee is £5,600,000. The total asistance from the Colonial Development Fund is £1,362,000, of which £588,000 is loans and £774,000 grants. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) spoke about the tremendous advance that very little assistance in these cases means. That is very true. A certain amount of assistance given to these projects very often makes them do very much bigger things than otherwise would be possible. I would like to assure the right hon. Gentleman that, although I am not able to comment upon all that he said, I have noted it, and I agree with nearly all the points he put. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. C. Buxton) that the points which he brought before the Committee have been fully considered by the Department. I would remind him that really the Governments in these countries are responsible for seeing that the conditions are properly carried out in regard to native labour.


When the Colonial Development Bill was before this House, we succeeded in getting Amendments accepted which definitely ruled out forced labour and child labour under these schemes. We want to know what steps are being taken by the Government to see that those Amendments are being carried out in practice. Have any regulations been issued, and, if so, can we have some information about them?


I have said that I have no time to go into details in the matter, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the points are certainly being attended to. For instance, in regard to the Zambesi Bridge, which is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, of the schemes which has been signed, the wording of the contract to ensure the proper housing and medical and sanitary services and the feeding and proper accommodation of all the workers engaged on that scheme is at present the subject of negotiation and consideration.


I am sorry, but that does not answer the point which I brought forward. We obtained in that Measure quite definite Amendments prohibiting forced labour and child labour on any of these schemes. Surely, if an Amendment of that kind has been carried by this House, we are justified in asking what has been done to carry it out? It is information as to whether the Office has issued any regulations or as to what it has done to see that the Amendments are being carried out in practice for which we ask.


I can assure my hon. Friend that the regulations are being carried out. It, obviously, follows when these conditions are laid down in the Act. I can assure him that the Act is being carried out in a proper manner. I should be very glad if my hon. Friend comes to see me when I can assure him, I think, that his fears are entirely groundless.


This is not a question of asking the hon. Member to come and see the hon. Gentleman. There are numbers of us who are interested in this matter, and I thought that this was a question and a Debate in which we could ask for particulars of what has been done under the new arrangement as compared with the old.


I think you have already assured me, Mr. Young, that I have travelled a little beyond the limits of order, and I am sure that if I were to pursue the subject I should be called to order. I can assure the hon. Member that I have very great sympathy with his point of view, and he knows that perfectly well. This aspect of the fund is one to which we have paid great attention, as we realise that the work of the Colonial Development Fund, instead of being a blessing, might in many cases prove otherwise. Certainly we shall, as long as we are responsible—and we have a good deal of responsibility—see that that matter is attended to. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) referred to the work of the committee in regard to the consultation with experts and suggested that the committee was not expert in all subjects, and he referred especially to health services. I would like to assure him that the Committee have had this feeling themselves, and that on the initiative of the Committee a Medical Advisory Committee is now being formed apart altogether from the Research Committee, and I think that possibly in time it will become one with the Research Committee. That committee is being formed in response to the wish of the Committee to have a broad set of principles upon which they can base their medical recommendations. The preparations have gone forward and the committee is on the eve of being set up. I think that that will meet the right hon. Gentleman's point. I can assure him that with regard to other expert advice the Committee fully realise the importance of the matter.

As to the railway in reference to which the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the giving of only two years, the reason that that was done was because that was the period for which the Governor asked. He expects it to be a paying proposition in two years. In other cases up to five years has been given. I do not think that there is any ground for criticism of the committee in that connection. I agree with the point the right hon. Gentleman made in reply to an interjection by the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Wallhead). In most of these projects—and I do not think that it has ever been realised in this House—we have practical Socialism and nationalised services, and, in some cases, the possibility of little paradises on earth. I would like very much, if I had the time, to go into many of the matters which have been raised. I apologise to any Member of the Committee who has not been answered, and I hope that, in view of the fact that we have other Votes, the Committee will now see its way to give me this Vote.


I desire to ask only one or two questions on points which have not been raised. I will not follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) into the very difficult questions under the Colonial Development Act, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman to look for a moment at the Sub-section with regard to the travelling expenses and otherwise of this Commission. I would also like to pay my tribute to the Shaw Commission which went out to Palestine and to the members of that Commission for the extremely thorough and excellent way in which they performed their duties. They spent 66 days, as the hon. Member told us, in Palestine. They went to most of the big cities, and for the first time the Arabs have really been able to put their case genuinely before the Commission. I ask the hon. Member—for I have heard rumours to the contrary—to publish this Report in full, and to give me an assurance that this Report will be published in full. I wish he could tell us a little more as to the date when that Report will be published. We also ask that the minutes of evidence relating to that Report should be published in full. We have had reports which have appeared in the papers, often misleading and very partial, and at times it is not to be wondered at seeing, for instance, that the correspondent of the "Times" was a director of Zionist propaganda, that the views are much biased. I therefore ask the hon. Member to have a full Report, without any omissions whatever, published at the earliest possible opportunity both in this country and in Palestine.

During the time that the Commission was sitting in Palestine it acted very much as a safety valve to both parties. Both parties felt aggrieved, and they were able to present before an impartial Commission their two different cases. It would be wrong for me to go into the causes that led to the trouble, and I have no intention to do so, but I would say that at this time in Palestine we have a situation that has never occurred before. There has never been such a bad position, in which both sides were so antagonistic one to the other. Therefore, we welcomed this Commission, because it set out to right what was wrong. I hope that we can get the Report as soon as possible, because the longer it is delayed the worse the position will be. I hope that the full Report will be published here and in Palestine, and that we shall also have publication of the minutes of evidence. I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to give me an assurance on that point.


I cannot say the date of the Report. The Commission do not know the date themselves.


Will it be before Easter?


When the Commission themselves do not know the date, it would not be right for me to suggest one. In regard to the full publication of the Report, I expect that it will be published fully, but the hon. and gallant Member must bear in mind that no Government can undertake to commit itself definitely in regard to the publication of any Report, until they have seen it.


The recommendations will be published?


I should imagine so. In regard to the Minutes of Evidence, that is a matter which will be considered later. It is obvious that some of the evidence, for instance, the evidence taken in camera cannot possibly be published. The question of the publication of other evidence has not been decided, but I have no doubt that it will be sympathetically considered at the proper time.