Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £97,875, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1933, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies."—[NOTE.—£49,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 11.30 a.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)
It may not be strictly in order, but perhaps I might be permitted in a single sentence to express my thanks for the generous treatment which 1780 has just been accorded by the House to some of its Members, of whom I am afraid I have been the most guilty. It is very embarrassing to discover that for six years or more one has been unconsciously living in sin, when one thought one was respectably married to a Department. However, I am most grateful to the House for making an honest man of me again, and I only hope that I am safe where I am at present.
I understand that it will be for the convenience of the Committee, and that it is their desire, that I should open this Debate with a general statement. It is impossible, in a speech of any reasonable length, to make a complete survey of all the problems, financial, economic, social and administrative, ranging over the whole Colonial Empire; but I think that perhaps I shall best serve the interests of the Committee if I attempt to give a, somewhat broader view of the financial position of the Colonies as a whole and of their trade position and trade problems, and some appreciation of the effects on their trade, present and future, of the policy which this House has now decided to pursue, and which the Colonies themselves have pursued in their tariffs for many years past. After having done that, I propose to deal in rather more detail with certain matters in various Colonies and Dependencies which have loomed rather large in the public eye, and in which the House has shown particular interest. After that, hon. Members will be able to raise any other points which may be of special interest to them, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will reply to them at the end of the debate.
The Committee, which has been so recently made acquainted with the details of its own financial position, will not be surprised, when it comes to consider the financial position of the Colonies, that they, too, present a depressing picture. Seven of the Colonies are only able to carry on at the present time with the assistance of grants-in-aid or loans from the Treasury. I say advisedly that there are seven, because I omit Cyprus, which appears on the Estimate to be in receipt of a large grant, since that is really in the nature of a book-keeping entry, being a liability which the Government of this country assumed years ago for the guarantee of the Ottoman Debt. It ap- 1781 pears rather as a book-keeping transaction, being charged to the Cyprus Government and then reclaimed. It has nothing to do with the general economic condition of Cyprus. I leave out, also, the grant which it is necessary to make for the Condominium Services in the New Hebrides. The actual finances of the British part of the New Hebrides are, I think, self-supporting. Even though there are seven Colonies which can only carry on by means of these Treasury grants-in-aid, that is better than last year, for three Colonies which were in receipt of Treasury assistance in one form or another last year have passed from that list, and I hope that in the current year they will not figure in our Estimates.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
They are Antigua and St. Kitts Nevis, and Mauritius for a special hurricane grant. The Colonies which are in receipt of Treasury grants are Nyasaland, Somaliland, St. Helena, Dominica, St. Lucia, British Guiana and British Honduras.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
No; Tanganyika has a guaranteed loan, but that is quite a different matter; there is no grant-in-aid.
Up to the present I have only given a part of the picture, because there are a number of Colonies that would be in the same position, and would be unable today to balance their Budgets if it were not for the fact that in past years, when times were more prosperous, they accumulated reserves on which in more difficult times they are able to draw. One could not contemplate that process with equanimity over any long period of time, and the Committee will therefore see how very truly it is in the interests of the taxpayers of this country to see not only that there are all possible economies practised by these colonial administrations, but also that the trade of the colonies is assisted in every way possible, because it is only by the revival of their trade that their revenues can be augmented. On the side of economy, a very real effort is being made throughout the Colonial Empire to curtail expenditure 1782 in any way that is possible. I will give to the Committee a few examples which, I think, will be convincing. Take Nigeria. In 1930, the expenditure was £6,300,000, which is reduced in the present Estimates to £5,000,000. On the Gold Coast the expenditure in 1930 was £3,700,000, which has been reduced to £2,600,000. Take another West Coast territory, a small one—Gambia. In 1930, the figure was £253,000 and the Estimate this year is £184,000. In the case of Tanganyika the expenditure was £2,100,000 in 1929—the financial year runs somewhat differently there—and in 1931, £1,700,000. Fiji—expenditure in 1930, 645,000; and this year's estimate, £545,000.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The process of economy is an unpleasant and a thankless task but very necessary. It has meant the retrenchment of many officers who had looked with confidence to have a steady career in the Service, and it has meant cuts in salaries and allowances, and other consequences. But every effort has been made and is being made, in spite of these economies, by the staffs of these colonial administrations throughout the Empire loyally to maintain the efficiency of those Services. Anybody who has had any experience of the Colonial Office must have been struck by the difficulty of anyone in Downing Street criticising estimates prepared in the different Colonies with their very different problems. I have tried to get some standard of comparison by having a careful analysis made of the estimates of every Colony, to see haw much is spent in each place on debt charges, on social services, on economic services, on administrative expenses and on what are rather euphemistically called self-supporting services like railways. If one can get at these figures, we shall be in a better position to judge, and a comparative analysis of that kind will be of value to the Colonies and Dependencies themselves. But something more, we felt, was necessary, and that was consultation and help on the spot, and the practice, which was started by my predecessor very wisely, and which I am carrying on, of helping colonial administrations by small financial 1783 missions—one or two men art the most, men with practical financial experience and Treasury experience over here or elsewhere—in framing their Budgets and in the imposition of the necessary taxation. A good deal already has been done in that way in the course of last year. The mission to Mauritius made recommendations which, it is estimated, should produce a saving of something in the region of £150,000.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I think I am right in saying that they did not recommend Income Tax, but they recommended some adjustment of taxes. I would rather not answer a question like that off-hand. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will be replying. I am dealing with economy. That £150,000 does not represent taxation, but, I think, entirely relates to economies. Take British Guiana, in which the House is very greatly interested. The recommendations involve economies amounting to £52,000 and taxation amounting to £80,000 in a full year. Then there was a mission to the Leeward Islands. These very small, separate islands are really the most difficult places for which to frame estimates, but a combination of economy and taxation has effected an improvement of £47,000 in the Leeward Islands. Then Sir Sydney Armitage-Smith has gone on to Tanganyika to help in framing the estimates and general economies in administration. Finally, there was an inquiry in Palestine and Transjordan, which resulted in economy, the reduction in expenditure, I think, in the aggregate amounting to something like £114,000 or £115,000. I am sure that work of that kind is very well worth doing. It is not only the actual economies that you get, but it is an encouragement to people in distant colonies doing an extraordinarily unpleasant and difficult job to feel that not only have they the criticism and the expert advice of men who have to face the same sort of problem here, or perhaps in some great Indian administration, but the encouragement of their presence and help, and that is the line which, I think, we might very well follow on.
The fall in revenues in all these colonies is an evidence of the economic crisis through which they have passed, and are 1784 passing. We have all been hit, but, I suppose, primary producers have been hit harder than anyone by this crisis, and the Colonial Empire is almost entirely a primary producer. Anyone who looks at the comparison of prices at the end of 1929 and the present time in all the great staple products which the Colonial Empire produces, will see in varying degree the great drop in prices. Rubber, tin, cocoa, tea, maize, sugar, tobacco, sisal, palm kernels—every one in greater or less degree shows the same decline. Not only has there been a fall in prices but a curtailment of purchasing power which has meant not only lower prices but less trade. There are, however, signs of improvement in some of those commodities at the present time. For instance, Kenya coffee, which has preserved remarkable stability compared with some other products in recent years, is showing a tendency to rise. The figures given to me show that this month, compared with October, 1931, there is a rise from 105s. to 125s. a cwt. Cocoa has shown a rise during the last six months, maize some improvement, and ground nuts are also looking up. We have to be thankful for small mercies. Those are all important commodities, and one may hope that the improvement in their condition may in time affect other crops.
Members of the Committee will see from that story that, whatever their fiscal views may be—it would be entirely out of Order to discuss the merits of any fiscal controversy in this country—the increased preference which has been given to the Colonial Empire has come to it at a very opportune time, not only for the Colonies themselves, but also for the taxpayer here who has a very direct interest in the improvement of trade in the Colonies. It is helpful in two ways. It has a double value. First, the value of the preference to staple products, such as those which I have read out, and a number of which come within the preference is that it gives a security of market at a very important time. The security of market is always important, but most important at a time when you have excessive production in other parts of the world. That must be obvious. But it is not only a question of giving security of markets to staple products. There is the encouragement to develop alternative crops with a prospect of success— 1785 products like citrous fruits, oranges, grapefruit, and vegetables of one kind or another. Many more instances might be given.
There is an additional value in which we have a right to share. We have spent in this House a great deal of money from time to time upon Colonial development and upon scientific research in different parts of the Colonial Empire. I have always felt, and perhaps it was inevitable in the circumstances with which we were dealing before, that that was not sufficiently linked to markets. After all, if you expend capital on development or research, you should relate it to something which you are able to sell. Given a preference on particular crops you know when to develop and what research you should undertake, and you greatly enhance the value of what you do. Much research is being done, and it is one of the last things I should wish to see dropped. There is the work of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, the work of the Agricultural Research Station at Amani, and special research conducted in different Colonies, such as research into the best kind of sugar cane and the diseases of sugar cane. I remember being asked in the House whether we were doing anything like what is being done in Java. A few years ago such a question would have had to have been answered "No," but to-day we can say that not only are we using all the information which is coming from research in Java, but we are supplementing it by a very able research of our own. There is research into the diseases of almost all plants—for instance, into the Panama disease of bananas. There is investigation into deficiencies in the mineral content of pastures in East Africa; and there is forest research work in other territories. All that is of enormous value, but it is doubly valuable if it is related to the practical possibilities of a market.
If I am not wearying the Committee, I should like to mention in that connection one possibility which in the past we have overlooked, perhaps because, until there was a preference, there was no adequate opportunity namely, hard woods in the Colonial Empire. Now with a 10 per cent. duty on hard woods coming from abroad, and that on the c.i.f. value, to-day the timber user in England is stimulated in his 1786 interest in using Imperial hard woods. We have forest officers. The men are well trained in the technique of forestry, but there is not the mingling of technical knowledge with the knowledge of marketing which I would desire. I made a suggestion to the Governors of Nigeria and of the Gold Coast that it might be possible to choose one or two men on the forest side who are well trained in forestry and send them over to this country for say, a year's course, part of which might be at Princes Risborough, and part of which should essentially be with timber firms in this country so that they could return to their Colonies and link as a result of their knowledge of what the consumer wants, the technical forestry side with the market and business side in this country.
When I knew there was to be an extension of preference I thought that it would be a good thing if the decision of the House could coincide with the visit to the West Indies of Mr. Stockdale, the chief agricultural adviser to the Colonial Office. I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) for having equipped the Colonial Office with so able and experienced a man. And so it happened that be was paying a visit to the West Indies, consulting with all the directors of agriculture and agricultural departments and the planters, at the time when the House was passing the preferences which will be of very material advantage to them. I hope that on whatever we economise—and we scrutinise all expenditure very closely—we shall not economise too much upon that kind of personal visit. I have often heard it said in the House of Commons about British firms, "You do not get out into your markets. Not only ought you to send a traveller, but your directors ought to go out." That is true, and I think that it has been done a good deal more than some hon. Members seem to think. But if it is true in business, it is also true in the business of running a Colonial Empire. I hope that the House will not only not criticise but will definitely approve a policy by which the Colonial Office is brought into direct and personal contact by personal visits on the spot.
Here is a very fertile field for the development of mutual trade, a trade which is essentially reciprocal in character—the 1787 raw materials and food produced in the Colonial Empire on the one side and the exports of manufactures from here. I am not sure that it is realised enough what a standby that Colonial trade has been in the difficult past years. When I went first to the Board of Trade I had something done that has been carried on ever since, that is, an analysis made of the trade which this country does by markets, quarter by quarter. In 1924 only 6.8 per cent. of our export trade was done with the Colonial Empire. In 1931 that proportion had risen to over 10 per cent., and that at a time when values were crashing in the Colonies and their purchasing power had been enormously diminished. That shows the value of that trade, and it emphasises what the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out when he was introducing the Import Duties how very wide and valuable were the preferences which had for years past been given by those Colonies to this country. Since this House took its decision in February new preferences have been given. In Mauritius the tariff has been revived so as to give a more valuable preference to this country. I have received from the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce a most welcome telegram approving of the policy of Preference, welcoming the Preference which this country has given and saying they hope that the Preference on their side will be still further extended. That shows the kind of answer which you get, which is something more than a gesture. In Sierra Leone, the Gambia, the Federated Malay States, Seychelles, the British Solomon Islands, Somaliland, and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, preferential tariffs have either been carried throughout or are in process of being carried through. As the Committee knows, a Resolution has been tabled in the State Council of Ceylon—and I hope that now it will have proceeded upon its way and will bear fruit—in favour of the principle of Preference. The result is that very nearly every Colony which has a tariff on manufactures and which is free to do so is at this moment giving a substantial Preference to this country.
There are various Colonies which are bound by Treaties not to give a Preference, but I think it is only fair to say that when one reviews those Conven- 1788 tions—I do not want to discuss the merits of the Conventions—one should realise that those Conventions were entered into and have been maintained hitherto largely, and in one case exclusively, in the interests of British trade. The decision to maintain them, when it has been taken, has been because those responsible considered that it was in the interests of the British export trade that those Conventions should be maintained. I am not arguing now whether that is right or wrong, but they are not maintained wholly in the interests of the Colonies themselves.
§ Vice-Admiral TAYLOR
Was that in view of the fiscal policy which was then in force in this country? Is that opinion still held in view of our changed fiscal policy?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I think that is an open question, and I should hesitate to answer it fully. I would give a very definite opinion myself on anything from the Colonial side, but I do not think I should be justified in giving an opinion from the English trader's side. That is the responsibility of the President of the Board of Trade. Just as I would invite him to accept my opinion in regard to the Colonial side, I feel bound to be guided by his opinion and to take his instructions on what is in our best interests from the British exporters' point of view. When you get a position in which these reciprocal preferences are given throughout the Colonial Empire, wherever it is free to give them, it is very striking, and I would like the Committee to observe that it is something not done by the, fiat of the Colonial Office. No Colonial Secretary can order the whole of the Colonial Empire to give a preference. Many of these Colonies have constitutions of their own with a greater or lesser degree of responsibility, some dating from Stuart times, and some of more recent growth. The grant of Preference throughout the Colonial Empire is in a very true sense a deliberate act of the Colonies themselves and a proof of their desire for mutual trade and Empire partnership.
All of these Colonies depend on their tariffs for revenue, some get as much as 50 per cent. of their revenue from tariffs, and some even more. They 1789 must maintain that revenue. If they did not maintain it they would be coming on the dole. They would be coming to this House for grants in aid, not seven of them, but very many more. Where they can they are giving a full preference to this country and the importance to the exporters from here and the manufacturer from this country is not that he should get free entry into a Colony, but that he gets an effective preference over his foreign competitor. It does not in the least matter to you if you are exporting from here whether you pay 10 per cent. and the foreigner pays 20 per cent. or whether you pay nothing and the foreigner pays 10 per cent. What is of importance is to get an effective preference, and the whole policy which we have pursued—I am in constant consultation with the Board of Trade on these matters—is, while raising the necessary revenue so to adjust your tariffs that you get the best possible advantages for mutual trade.
There are a great many people who wish to know and who find it extremely difficult to know what are the actual preferences that they can get in this or that Colony. I am not surprised at their difficulty in finding it out. The other day a man said to me, speaking about a particular Colony, and a particular commodity in which he traded, "I understand that they get a grant in aid, I think they might give me a preference." I asked him what preference he wanted, and he said, "I understand we give them 10 per cent.; I think they might do better and give us 25 per cent." I pointed out to him that as a matter of fact they give 50 per cent. These misconceptions are only natural, because these Colonial tariffs and trade preferences are enshrined in a number of very obscure ordinances, which in some cases do not deal exclusively with the imposition of a tariff.
I found, for example, one case where the rate of duty on beer was enshrined in an ordinance whose primary purpose was to tell you at what hours you could get a drink in that colony. That is not where an exporter would normally look for such information. I have found it necessary for my own purposes and for the work which we shall have to do at Ottawa to get this matter into more practical shape and I am having all these 1790 tariffs and preferences compiled in one volume, it is nearly ready now, showing the whole of the tariffs in each colony, and where a preference is given in respect of a commodity. I started to do that because I require this information, and if I need it in my work is it not of value to the traders and exporters in this country 2 As soon as it can be printed I propose to put this publication on sale so that it will be available for everybody; and I propose that it shall be kept up to date year by year so that not only those who deal with these matters administratively but the whole business community will be able to see in a single volume the tariffs in each Colony in respect of each individual article.
The possibilities of mutual trade will be incomplete if we consider only the trade between the colonies and the mother country, for there is a trade between the Colonies and the Dominions, and the Colonies in many cases give a preference to the Dominions. We have the valuable Canadian-West Indian agreement, a very good model, and the new sugar preferences which were brought before this House recently, although they may look cumbrous at first glance, were deliberately designed so as not to interfere with the trade between the West Indies and Canada and at the same time to give a new preference to British sugar producing colonies with the least risk of interfering with existing channels of trade within the Empire. There will he an opportunity at Ottawa of carrying that kind of agreement further and seeing what developments are possible in trade between the Colonies and the Dominions. Important as conferences are this is not a matter only for a conference. This is a business matter, a matter of day to day business, and all the time we ought to be adding to our experience and seeing where further developments can be made. We should not take it as a matter for a conference from time to time but as a matter of practical day to day work which can be done.
I have attempted to give the House a review of the financial and economic position. May I pass from the general to the particular. I should first like to say a few words about Malta. I announced some time ago in the House the policy which 1791 His Majesty's Government propose to follow, based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission. That policy in all its aspects was welcomed in every quarter of the House. The constitution is being restored. There is only one question to which I wish to refer to-day, and that is the question of language. The House is particularly interested in this and I think our policy was clearly welcomed throughout the House. I find that there has been some misrepresentation going on, not in this country but by certain persons in Malta as to what is being done. Let me take this opportunity of stating once again what is being done so that no one can honestly misunderstand the position. We are doing two things. In the first place, we are saying that where a man is being tried for a criminal offence that that man shall be tried in a language which he can understand. Is that unjust? It is an essential condition of a fair trial, wherever it may take place.
The second thing is that in the elementary schools, and in the elementary schools alone, in future the children, besides learning Maltese, will learn only one other language, and that the English language. The Committee is familiar with the arguments which the Royal Commission advanced in favour of this. On educational grounds alone the case is unanswerable. You will not find an educational expert, or a man who has the least interest in education, be he expert or not, who will not tell you that educationally it is absolutely unsound to try and teach children in an elementary school more than one language in addition to their own. The only result of attempting to do anything else is that the child leaves school knowing no language at all and with a less broad educational equipment than he otherwise would have. On educational grounds alone the argument in favour of the proposal is absolutely unanswerable.
I say more. I say that in the interests of the Maltese children themselves the argument is equally unanswerable. What happened when the Maltese parent had an opportunity of saying what language his child should learn in the elementary school? No less than 97 per cent. of the parents chose that their children should learn the English language. The educa- 1792 tional advantages and the interests of the local population themselves both point unmistakeably the direction we should take, and it is no disadvantage that that course helps to make English the lingua franca of the Empire. Two suggestions have been made; they are both ridiculous. One is that what we are doing will in some way prejudice the opportunity of a Maltese child ultimately entering one of the learned professions; by which, I believe, is meant the law. What nonsense. I want to see every child of ability able to enter a learned profession. What is his avenue to a learned profession? It is to pass on from the primary to the secondary school. In the secondary school no change of any sort or kind has been made in the curriculum, in what the child has to learn there. On the contrary a Maltese child will leave his elementary school with a better general equipment than he had in the old days, and he will pass on to his secondary school, where the whole curriculum is unchanged. He will, therefore, have a much better chance of succeeding in any profession, learned or less learned, in the future. Then a suggestion has been made that in some way wholly unexplained this language question raised or touched the religious issue. That is absolute moonshine. In no possible way does what has been done over the language question directly or indirectly affect any religious issue at all.
This House has most fully approved the policy of the Government. The Letters Patent will be ready and will be in force, I think, by the end of this month. The Bill which is necessary will be introduced, as soon as it is ready, in another place, and will progress through both Houses as rapidly as Parliamentary time permits. We are satisfied that in this matter we are proceeding with the unanimous approval of this House and in the true interests of the people of Malta.
Let me pass from that to another part of the Mediterranean, Cyprus. I thought the House would wish to have a full dispatch from the Governor dealing with the whole of the circumstances surrounding the disturbances in Cyprus and with subsequent events. That dispatch the House has had and I do not wish to add anything to it. It will have been seen 1793 that to that dispatch I have made an addendum, a telegram from myself to the Governor and the Governor's reply. I understand that there has been sent to all Members of this House from a certain quarter a document which contains specific allegations of gross misbehaviour against soldiers, sailors and police. I believe it was treated by most Members in the way it deserved, but as it has been thought lit to give currency, and Parliamentary currency, to these allegations, I thought it my duty to send the full particulars to the Governor and to ask for his reply. The Committee will see, on page 41 of this White Paper, that a categorical answer is given to every one of the charges, and that the whole thing is a tissue of lies from start to finish. Perhaps this document will have served some purpose, if not that which was originally intended, if it shows how much weight is properly to be attached to propaganda coming from such a quarter.
The truth is that under British rule Cyprus has made steady progress. I will take one example. The Committee knows that Cyprus is an island of small peasant proprietors, and, as so often happens in a country like that, a man is without financial resources, without knowledge of how to sell his products to the best advantage, without banking facilities or the knowledge how to use them. That kind of man falls a very ready prey to the moneylender, and Cyprus was no exception to the rule. A system of cooperative credit societies was started to help these peasant proprietors. The 49 societies in 1926 increased to 326 in 1930, and this network of credit societies now covers two-thirds of the villages of the island. If any criticism can be made with truth, it is that in this matter the Government has advanced perhaps more rapidly than prudent finance would dictate, but that may be taken as proof of the desire of the British administration to help the people of the island. I must admit that I believe the moneylenders, whose activities have been so largely curtailed by this system of credit, have become perfectly sincere opponents of the British connection.
To one other matter I must refer, and that is education. The Committee will be surprised to learn that until a few years ago, whereas the Government paid the whole cost of elementary education they 1794 had no control over either the payment or appointment of teachers, or over the curriculum in the schools. That seems to me to be administratively and socially unsound. Lord Passfield very wisely decided that a change must be made, and in his time the appointment and salaries of teachers were taken under the control of the Government which provided the money. We are proposing now to carry that a stage further, by carrying out what I know was in the minds of the last Government, by taking effective control of the curriculum in the schools. I am sure that from every point of view this is a sound reform and in the best interests of the country.
I must say two things about Malaya. The Committee know that the Government took part in certain rubber negotiations, about which I made a brief anouncement. I welcomed the opportunity of going into those negotiations for two reasons; in the first place because I was very anxious to get an effective scheme of control, if such a scheme were possible, and in the second place I was convinced that the one thing the industry needed above all was certainty as to its future. I knew it was useless to go into negotiations on a technical industry like that without the ablest expert assistance and I secured and am grateful for the services of the ablest team of rubber growers that could be brought together. They considered the question and there were certain fundamental facts upon which there was unanimous agreement. The first was that a scheme which failed, would do more harm than good. The second was that no scheme would be of the least use which would not restrict production all round, both plantation and native production. The third was that any such scheme must restrict production to an extent which, in a reasonable time, would reduce stocks to normal proportions and co-ordinate supply and demand.
It was also found that it was quite impracticable to get any scheme which would control native production by a quota and it was equally clear that no other scheme could be applied. It was no good putting an export tax on the native rubber. There was no guarantee that production would be curtailed in the least by that method. On the contrary, the exact opposite might have happened, and you might have curtailed plantation production and encouraged native production to increase.
1795 The result was that all who were engaged in these negotiations were driven to the conclusion that it was impossible to frame an effective scheme and, if any people could have framed such a scheme, the men who took part in those negotiations would have been able to do so. I regret the conclusion but I am sure that it was inevitable. I am sure that it was right to go into the matter once and for all, to get to a definite result as quickly as possible, and, having reached that result, unpleasant as it may be, to state it plainly and unequivocally to the industry as a whole.
There is another matter in connection with Malaya with which I wish to deal. I was asked a question before Easter about decentralisation and I then stated the position. I have received proposals from the Governor for the decentralisation of various services. Any radical change in the system of administration of important services requires and must receive careful consideration, particularly in difficult times when day-to-day problems necessarily absorb all the energy of the ablest administrators; and it will be necessary to review the proposals made with regard to any of the services in the light of their effects and reactions, administrative, economic and financial. I have not, at the moment, the material upon which I can make a judgment, and it would be wrong to give a judgment without the fullest information. It would be unwise to prejudge. I will only add that it might well be unwise, unsound and unfair to decentralise services which regulate the conduct and conditions in industries such for instance as rubber or tin where uniformity is clearly essential; while it might be quite practical and convenient to decentralise as far as possible services like roads, or public works, I should be wrong to give any kind of opinion without the fullest information, on which alone one can judge. The proposals in regard to these services will receive the full and unprejudiced consideration which their importance demands.
In regard to East Africa the House of Commons and the country and East Africa owe a real debt to the joint Select Committee of the two Houses of Parliament which inquired into the problems 1796 of closer union. I think the report of that Committee had a three-fold value. In the first place, there was the authority of a committee of most experienced men of all parties in both Houses. You could not have had a committee whose judgment would, rightly, carry greater authority than a tribunal of that kind. Secondly, there was the thoroughness of their inquiry and anyone who served upon it will bear testimony to that. Thirdly, there was the unanimity of their conclusions. I think that the authority of the body itself, the thoroughness with which they did their work and the unanimity of their conclusions account largely for the great measure of agreement with which that report has been received not only in this country but also in East Africa. The committee have performed a real and lasting service and not least in dealing with difficult and vexed questions like paramountcy and closer union. Theologians are acquainted with texts, of which many commentators, have with great elaboration, sought to find the true inwardness and there are texts which have not been greatly elucidated by the work of commentators. But could anything be plainer than the single sentence in which the Select Committee have summed up and settled I hope for all time that particular difficulty.The Committee consider that the matter may be summed up briefly by saying that the doctrine of paramountcy means no more than that the interests of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous population should not be subordinated to those of the minority belonging to another race, however important in itself.That is their summing up, authoritative and concise, and I do not wish to add a single word to it. Their conclusion on the impracticability of political union is very valuable, coming as it does also with that authority and that unanimity to which I have referred. But if political union be impracticable and undesirable to-day, co-operation is as important or more important than ever and I agree and all the Governors agree with the Committee that the machine of co-operation should be the Governors' Conference. The Conference has been established and equipped with its own secretariat and the Conference has recently met.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That I have left to the Governors' Conference to recommend. Ft is a very important question. The suggestion has been made that the meeting place of the conference might be changed from year to year; that it should meet in the various capitals in turn, and that the secretariat might move to the capital in which the current year's conference was taking place. That is a suggestion but it is only a suggestion. It is obviously open to many objections. To start with, the secretariat has to deal with the railways as well, and there are obvious advantages of economy and efficiency in keeping the secretariat in one place. But I think it probably carries out what will be the view of the Committee in leaving it to the Governors' Conference to make whatever they think the most practicable recommendation in that regard. There was a suggestion made that the Conference should meet twice a year, but I am rather doubtful about that. It is important that the Conference should be treated as being in permanent session, so that whenever a Conference is required, that Conference can be held. The Conference should certainly be held yearly. But again I leave it to the Governors to take their decision. There is, as I am sure my hon. Friend will agree, a risk that if you hold conferences twice a year, and at your second meeting there is not really any work for the people to do, you are not only taking away the Governors from perhaps urgent work that calls for their attention in their own province, but by making the meeting merely formal and routine, you are taking away from the value of their co-operation when they meet when there is essential business to transact. Without pre-judging or pronouncing finally, I would suggest that there should certainly be annual meetings and that the Conference should be treated as being in permanent session, and that you could always have a special meeting if required.
With regard to the question of taxation, the Select Committee recommended a special inquiry into that. The Committee will see that I have taken action, and I think we were all very fortunate in securing Lord Moyne to conduct that inquiry. I am very grateful to him for having undertaken this, and in order to make it clear that he should not be confined in the scope of his inquiry by the 1798 precise word's which the Committee themselves had used, I made it plain that it was within the scope of that inquiry to make recommendations as to the readjustment of taxation and expenditure if examination of the present position under the original terms of reference discloses a case for change.
Then the land. There again the Select Committee advised, and wisely advised, that this matter should be dealt with once and for all by an investigation on the spot. I thought with regard to that question, and I think the Committee will agree, that it is very desirable to combine local knowledge with expert experience. There is a very wise passage, if I may say so, in the Joint Committee's Report which I will commend to my right hon. and gallant Friend opposite. It reads:The Committee are of opinion that the trusteeship of natives must remain the function of His Majesty's Government, but that the assistance of the non-native communities in carrying out this obligation should be encouraged to an increasing extent. In setting up machinery for the detailed administration of the trust, the Government should avail itself to the full of the local knowledge and experience of the unofficial elements.If I may respectfully say so, that is very sound advice, and I have followed it in securing Sir William Morris Carter as Chairman, a man of unique experience in this kind of work, and we are associating with him two local men—Mr. Hemsted, Chief Commissioner in Kenya for a long time, and one who, on retirement, has made his home in the country, and the other Mr. Frank Wilson, a very well-known settler, whom I may commend to this Committee as the brother of one whom we now miss from our deliberations, Sir Murrough Wilson. I have taken action on that matter.
On the question of the railways, the Select Committee suggested that there might be a permanent expert adviser without any executive power. I see difficulties there. To have people responsible for carrying on the administration of a railway and then to have running perpetually side by side with them an expert adviser without executive functions might give rise to difficulties. But I am sure that it is very desirable to bring in a fresh and—I say it without offence—unprejudiced mind, experienced in railway matters, in 1799 order to deal not only with particular cases which the Select Committee thought ought to be inquired into, but with any general problems of railway administration and cognate questions. Therefore, I have taken a part, without accepting the full proposal of having a permanent expert adviser, and we have made arrangements that Mr. Gibb, the Chairman of the Railway Commission in Rhodesia, a very competent railway man, should come, in mid make the examination which the Committee recommended, and advise generally on railway matters. I cannot close what I have to say on East Africa without saying that I have the good fortune to have with me in the Colonial Office as Under-Secretary of State, one who sat throughout the East Africa Committee, and it is very valuable to have that contact.
I have only one word to add about one other country, namely, Iraq. This is the last time probably that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will stand at this. Box responsible for that territory.
§ Mr. DENMAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal at all with Palestine, or would he prefer that that subject should be left to a separate discussion on another day?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I do not want to take up any more time myself, but I should be very glad that any question should be raised in the Debate now, certainly. The period of the mandate for Iraq is drawing to a close, and the Council of the League has recommended to the Assembly the full entry of Iraq into the League. It is a remarkable story. A backward, impoverished province has become what I think may truly be called a prosperous State, with a stable and competent administration, of which the King and his Ministers may be justly proud. It is a great credit to them and their people, but a great achievement too on the part of the disinterested British administration, and I am sure that the people of Iraq will be the first to acknowledge the great debt that they owe to those British officers who have served so well and so disinterestedly there, and certainly not least to Sir Francis Humphrys.
1800 The manifold problems of the Colonial Empire entail great and varied responsibilities. It is essential that there should be drawn to that Service the men best qualified to discharge these varied tasks. Some time ago my predecessors decided that there were large parts of the Service in which entry should be by selection and then by a special course of training and by probation in a selected Colony. That has worked admirably, and so well has it proved its success that I have had no hesitation, with the full assent and approval of the Civil Service Commissioners even, whom one would expect perhaps to find prejudiced in favour of pure examination, in extending that process of selection to the Eastern Cadet Service. I hope, even with the great financial difficulties that we have to face and these retrenchments that have to take place all round, we may still, at any rate, be able to recruit on a scale which will keep the courses going, which will not interrupt the flow of men into the service, because we are getting the very best, and at this time—the circumstances will be easily appreciated by the House—there is, perhaps, as there never was at any other time, an opportunity of drawing into the service the very best men that we can get. We hope, whatever economies we have to make, we shall be able to keep, at any rate, an adequate process of recruiting. Happy indeed is the Empire which can call to its service the best of its young men.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the Committee is under some difficulty owing to the form in which the Colonial Office Estimates are presented. As the Committee will realise, we are taking now a Vote which includes the salary of the Secretary of State, and, therefore, that includes generally about as wide a range of debate as is possible. But according to our usual Rules we certainly could not discuss on this Vote things that are specifically covered by the next Vote, which is also on the Paper. That puts the Committee in some difficulty, because one will find under the head of miscellaneous in the next Vote such items as Boundary Commissions and Passages of Governors and other Colonial officers, which refer to a very considerable number of Colonies. Another question would arise in regard to Palestine 1801 and Transjordania where, if it was discussed on the later Vote, there would clearly be some things not covered by that Vote which could only be discussed on the first. I propose, therefore, with the Committee's approval, to allow a wide range of debate on the first Question so as to cover those matters which would be included in the other Vote that is on the Paper. If the Committee approves of that course in the circumstances, we ought not to discuss these matters further on the second Vote, and I do not think anything that is done on these lines to-day ought to be taken us a precedent in the case of the Estimates of other Government Departments.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That is a very convenient suggestion, but the second Vote is very limited in its character. It really is confined to the Grants-in-aid, and, therefore, I take it that on the first Vote it will be strictly in Order to discuss every problem of administration. The only thing that would arise on the second Vote would be whether the Grant-in-aid was too great or too small.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman has addressed himself to the exact point of the difficulty. A great deal can be discussed on this Vote, but I think the occupant of the Chair would be a nuisance to the Committee, as well as the Committee to the occupant of the Chair, if we had to be constantly watching to see whether on the first Vote we were going into matters which are covered by the second.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I do not think the question is how much is covered by the Vote, but the short space of time left for discussing anything at all. I think we might have some sort of undertaking that there should be a further opportunity of discussing the Colonial Office Vote. In that case, all difficulties would fall to the ground. I would not have cut short the right hon. Gentleman's speech by two minutes, but it has taken a long time.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Of course, it rests with the Opposition entirely. Obviously, I am not going to have the Vote closed to-day. If the Opposition will get as far as it can to-day and would like to have the Vote on another occasion, of course, it will be left open.
§ Mr. LUNN
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in his last suggestion. This subject is so vast that we cannot close the discussion in one day, as has been proved by the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I should have liked to raise the question, but I gave way naturally to my long experienced right hon. Friend, that we must have further opportunities of debating Colonial Office matters in the future. This is the first time the right hon. Gentleman has presented the Colonial Office Estimates, and I want to congratulate him on the success of his effort. It has been a competent review, so far as it can be in one speech, of Colonial trade, financial and fiscal matters. We have had the advantage of a good deal of the right hon. Gentleman's experience at the Board of Trade, and we have seen a different man to-day, because, after all, this is one of the few occasions when we do not have bitter or strong party differences, lie in his present position will feel that there is a gentler opportunity of presenting his case than there is at the Board of Trade. He has been very matter of fact, but he has been informative, and I am sure the Committee will appreciate the faithful manner in which he has dealt with a particular side of the question.
He paid tributes to many people who give part of their lives in going out to our Colonial Empire for the many qualities they have and the many advantages they have brought to the Colonies and to this country by their wonderful information. It is not everyone who is interested in Colonial matters. I was for a short time at the Colonial Office, and I remember a Member of the House coming to me and expressing strong disappointment at something which he thought I had done. He said he was so disgusted that he, would go to my constituency and expose me. I said, "My dear Sir, I will arrange the meetings for you and, if you can create an interest in the Colonies in my division, I thank you from the bottom of my heart." I am afraid that is the position very largely in many parts of the country. At the same time, it is a most important question and one that ought to have more opportunities of debate.
I do not intend to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his discussion of fiscal matters. I remember a question that was put to him the other day by my hon.
1803 Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) asking him to give a, list of self-governing Colonies and Protectorates which are administered under the authority of the United Kingdom Government and are given a preferential tariff. The list is a formidable one and shows how impossible it is to deal with each and every one of them in a single Debate. But there is one exclusion from that list, and I should like to ask the Under-Secretary the reason why Palestine is excluded. It is the only part of the Colonial Empire excluded in the list that was given in answer to that question. That is the only point I wish to raise with regard to that matter, and I should like the Under-Secretary to state the position.
I do not intend to deal with all the Colonies; it would be quite impossible, even if I wished to do so, but they all come under this Vote, and they can all be discussed when we are considering the Colonial Empire. We in this House are expected to guide them and to secure a measure of harmony among them, although there are many stages of civilisation, many races, many colours, and many traditions. It is our duty to cultivate their growth and development, and to see that the interests of all the inhabitants are cared for and guarded, but in particular to look after native affairs whatever may be their particular race, colour or creed.
The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with paramountcy, and every Government has agreed upon that since the War. Native needs are paramount, and we have no right to allow their exploitation anywhere in the Empire. We are their trustees, and we ought to see that everything is done to improve their position. There are problems for us to consider in every part of the Empire, and, although Parliament has agreed to the Statute of Westminster and the almost complete independence of the Dominions, we are still left with the responsibility for many Colonies. I suggest that there is need for great improvement in their constitution in order to give them more opportunities for education, to help them towards the day when they can govern themselves and manage their own affairs as independently as we claim to do in 1804 this country. At the present time, as has been shown by the right hon. Gentleman, they are all suffering more or less from the economic depression. We hope that prosperity will come to them, as I believe it will, sooner or later. In the meantime, we must look particularly after the interests of those who were born there, and of those who have to spend their lives there. There is no reason why we should not encourage education and propaganda among the natives, and see that there are local native councils in every Colony and that they are better represented in their local legislatures.
Many hon. Members know far more about Crown Colony Government than I do, so that I shall deal only briefly with a few places about which I want to put some questions. The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned East Africa and the Joint Select Committee, and has briefly said what he is doing. As I listened to his matter of fact speech, I was reminded again of the speech on the Colonial Estimates in 1921, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was at the Colonial Office. On that occasion, he dealt with East Africa. I would like to quote a few words of what he said on that occasion. I listened to that speech, and I have often looked it up since. He said:There is no part that I know of in the British Empire, no part in the world, where the country is more magnificent, spacious and wonderful than those great regions of British East Africa—Uganda, Victoria Nyanza, a lake as big as Scotland, and 4,000 feet above the level of the sea. It gives one an idea of the scale of nature in these regions. There we have a good deal of progress, but far less than might have been achieved if a more consistent policy of development had been pursued … I have some knowledge of the native populations of these regions, and certainly we are bound to regard them as the greatest trust that is confided in us, because they are the most helpless of the population, and it is for us to see that they are better, and not worse, for our responsible charge of the country."—[OFFICTAL REPORT, 14th July, 1921; cols. 1623–4, Vol. 144.]The right hon. Gentleman did not solve their problems before he left the Colonial Office, and he left many other problems in the Colonies. Since that time we have had Commission after Commission appointed to deal with East Africa. 1805 There are stacks of reports of committees and missions of all kinds, and to-day I believe that there are either on the way or in Kenya three missions which have been appointed this year. All the time Kenya has been the obstacle, and it is still the obstacle. I urge hon. Members to look up the speeches of two Noble Lords, Lord Olivier and Lord Lugard, which were made in the House of Lords on the 23rd March. In them they will find as full and complete a statement as has ever been made by two men who perhaps know these parts better than any other men of whom one can think. A great part of their lives has been spent there, but they are not satisfied with the progress that is being made even to-day in dealing with these long overdue problems. No satisfactory answer was given in another place on that date from the Government representative as to what is being done. I have read the report of the Joint Select Committee, and I have noted some paragraphs in it of importance to which attention should be called. In paragraph 105, sub-section (ii) are these words,In view of the nervousness among the native population as regards the land question, a full and authoritative enquiry should, be undertaken immediately into ale needs of the Native population, present and prospective, with respect to land within or without the reserves, held either on tribal or on individual tenure.I know that the right hon. Gentleman has appointed another mission to go into that matter. There is a settler upon it, but no representative of native interests. I feel satisfied that there is no possibility of confidence by the natives in missions of this sort unless there is some native representation upon them. I agree that the Joint Selection Committee rejected closer union as understood, and one can understand the fears of Tanganyika in the matter, but the Committee strongly favoured a closer co-operation and coordination in many of the services, and now that the right hon. Gentleman is taking steps in that matter I feel that every mission -or commission should have upon it representatives of the natives, who form the greater part of the population. In paragraph 64 on page 26 of the Report it saysThe main lines of policy have been officially laid down in Government Departments from time to time. The 1806 most important of them are the Duke of Devonshire's White Paper of 1923, Mr. Amery's White Paper of 1927, and Lord Passfield's 'Memorandum on Native Policy in East Africa' in 1930. Those declarations form the broad basis upon which the co-ordination of native policy should Proceed, in so far as co-ordination is desirable.The Committee considered that this broad basis should be made known generally to all the various communities in the territories concerned, and, where-ever necessary, steps should be taken to bring the administration into harmony with those principles. I take it from the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Government do accept those declarations, but I would like to ask what steps are being taken to let these views be known among all the separate communities.
Next let me take the question of native representation on the Legislative Council. There is a statement in the Joint Committee's report that they were- much impressed by the ability of the Africans who gave evidence before them, and they recommended that nominated representation of native opinion should be increased, without prejudice to the power of the Governor at his discretion to nominate for inclusion among them persons of African descent, when he considers suitable representatives are available. I would like to ask whether anything is being done to encourage and develop that idea, whether there will be such representatives, or whether no one is available.
There is great suspicion and far-reaching unrest in our colonies, and especially in Africa, on the land question. In many parts of Africa land which was occupied by the natives has been taken over as Crown land and much of it has been alienated to white settlers. In Kenya the courts have held thatno individual native and no native tribe as a whole has any right to land in the Colony which can be recognised by the courts".I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that decision is not satisfactory, and that the position ought to be more clearly defined and -cleared up. Certain broad principles have been laid down by various Governments, particularly by Lord Passfield in his Memoran- 1807 dum of 1930, and in the speeches -of Lord Olivier and Lord Lugard we may learn far more about the land question in Africa and about the difficulties there are at the present time. What are the Government doing in the matter?
I have already intimated that I wished to raise the question of labour and social conditions in the Colonies. It must be well known to most hon. Members that there are no Workmen's Compensation Acts, in the Colonies, no social legislation of any kind as we know it. These matters were discussed at a Colonial Office Conference held in 1930, and in addition there has been a good deal of discussion as to the treatment of juvenile offenders in various colonies in Africa. Has anything been done on that matter? The Joint Committee said that a chief native commissioner might to be set up in each colony, and they were not satisfied that the best use was being made of the machinery already in existence. The chief native commissioner, they recommended should be an officer of high standing, with considerably increased authority. I feel that in addition to a commissioner there ought to be a properly-constituted Labour Department, with the duty of looking after the supply and management of all necessary labour. That department ought to be responsible for carrying out the Government regulations on labour and for the general welfare and contentment of the men employed. That is a big subject; it would take up a good deal of time to see that the welfare of the people and their contentment were adequately considered. There ought to be a greater development of mechanical aids to labour in the Colonies, in preference to the wasteful and demoralising use of labour which is so general to-day. Can the Minister tell us whether the Departmental Committee set up by the Labour Government to inquire into labour conditions and wages in the Colonies, with a view to improving the standards of life, is still in existence, and whether it has presented any report?
I do not intend to go over some of the matters mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman in the latter part of his speech, because although I had intended to refer to them I understand that he is dealing with them. But I would point 1808 out to him that in Cyprus there is fearful poverty at this moment, that there is famine in the land, and that such a condition of affairs will ferment disturbances in any community. I do not understand, further, why some of those who took part in the disturbances last October were deported. The constitution in Cyprus has been abrogated and nothing has been put in its place. I would like to know whether anything is being done to improve the economic position. While the right hon. Gentleman did mention Cyprus I do not think he gave us any information upon these matters, which are so important to the life of the people.
§ Mr. LUNN
I welcome that reference to the development of the co-operative movement and the increase in the number of societies, but in the present economic position they are not very successful, nor are they likely to be so long as those conditions continue. Ceylon was not mentioned in the speech of the Colonial Secretary, and perhaps the Under-Secretary will tell us something about it. Ceylon has a new constitution to which all parties agreed, and I would like to ask how it is working. It was understood that Ceylon would have a large measure of self-government. We had a wonderful report which was accepted by all parties, and I remember the Secretary of State said:The domestic interests of the people of Ceylon would be in the keeping of its elected representatives.Is that so to-day? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen in the Ceylon Press reports complaining that the decisions of the State Council are too often negatived by the arbitrary exercise of the Governor's power of veto? I understand that there is a widespread indignation in regard to that action, and I would like to ask the Under-Secretary of State to tell us what is the position there, and to say whether it is possible to have the matter complained of remedied.
Another matter in which I am particularly interested is the present state of affairs in Hong Kong especially so far as mui-tsai is concerned. During the time that I was at the Colonial Office I remember on one occasion the right hon. 1809 Gentleman, the Member for Epping, said in 1921 that nothing short of the abolition of mui-tsai would meet his wishes. In 1923 registration and inspection was set up in an ordinance issued by the Duke of Devonshire, and only a year ago the present Foreign Secretary raised the debate in this House on mui-tsai in Hong Kong, which, in my opinion is child slavery, and I have no doubt that it ought to be abolished. I agree with the Foreign Secretary's statement on this subject in which he said only a year ago that there should be more inspection and better registration, and that we ought to see that, as far as possible, mui-tsai was abolished. The right hon. Gentleman is now in the Government, and those who spoke in support of him are also members of the Treasury bench. I wonder what has been done in regard to this subject since the present Government were appointed? What have they done to deal with mui-tsai in Hong Kong? What is the position at this moment? Has mui-tsai in Hong Kong been in any way decreased, or are we moving to the time when it will be abolished which is the only satisfactory way of dealing with it.
My last point concerns working and labour conditions in another part of the Empire, namely, the South Sea Islands. I want to ask a few questions about the labour conditions in the group of islands centred by Fiji. Those at the Colonial Office know that contract labour still prevails there, and men are being taken long distances away from their wives and families to other distant islands. The conditions there are bad, and I would like to ask if the Governor of Fiji, in his visit to these islands at the end of last year, investigated the labour conditions there, and if he has made a report thereon? Has that report been received and what is the nature of it?
I have now finished my inquiries into these particular matters. I look upon it as our duty in this House, irrespective of party, to work towards the end of Empire co-operation and development and to care for these peoples. We need to encourage elementary, technical and scientific education so that the natives may take their fair and just part in the economic and political government of each colony. It is necessary, if we are to combat successfully all the known diseases of human 1810 beings and animals in the tropics, that there must be greater progress made to get the natives to take up medicine, agriculture, veterinary and other services. So long as we are their trustees we should have more opportunities for debate in this House on Colonial development and progress and a full and free ventilation of all their problems. I welcome this debate. I know how inadequately it deals with this vast subject, but I hope that we shall have further opportunities of debating not only the problems which the right hon. Gentleman and myself have mentioned, but also those affecting many other parts of our Colonial Empire.
Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I think hon. Members in every part of the House will welcome the spirit in which these questions have been debated by the hon. Member for Rotherwell (Mr. Lunn). I am sure that in regard to our Colonies we are all desirous of fulfilling our trusteeship. I congratulate the Secretary of State for the Colonies upon his admirable statement, and I am sure he ought to be congratulated not only upon the very thorough way in which he has taken up his work at the Colonial Office, but upon the energy which he has put into it, and the vast field which he has covered in his statement. Those of us who know something about the vast field covered by Colonial Office policy and the intricate details which have to be dealt with realise that the right hon. Gentleman has thrown himself whole-heartedly into his work. I wish to deal with the subject of East Africa, because I always have believed in the practice of speaking only on those subjects about which I know something and I have been for some seven years either Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Joint East African Board, which is in advisory relations with the Colonial Office. I would like to say a few words in regard to the Report of the Joint Committee on Closer Union in East Africa, of which I was a member. The only member of the Opposition left in the House who sat on that Committee is the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson), who will, I know, give us a very capable and very shrewd speech on this subject. We worked very cordially together, and, except on one or two points, we obtained practical unanimity, as the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned. Of course, in 1811 doing so, we had to sacrifice some of our individual opinions.
Speaking of the economic condition of the Colonies, the right hon. Gentleman referred to new taxation, and also to the economies which have taken place. In some of the Colonies I have heard the question asked: Why should the officials have to suffer these severe cuts? It should not be forgotten, however, that in the last few years the whole business community which has been earning its living in these Colonies has suffered, not merely cuts, but, at times, almost entire deprivation of income. I do not say that those who are doing our work so well should not be sufficiently well paid, but I think there are sound reasons why they should participate in the hard times that others have to suffer. It is important, however, in economising, not to cut down or curtail specific services like the medical, agricultural, veterinary and education services, upon which the present, and still more the future, welfare of all the races of the Empire depends. Any interruption of their progress might prove to be false economy. Perhaps that word of warning is hardly necessary, but I think the House should realise that these services must be allowed to go on and develop—that, if we are to make our Colonial Empire really valuable, it must be developed in all these technical details, and that, therefore, it is necessary to see that we do not economise in the wrong place.
Turning to the Report of the Joint Committee, I would remark that not only are the recommendations important, but the whole moral effect of the Report. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding and bitter feeling. There has been total ignorance in this country about the true conditions prevailing out there, and there has also been hopeless ignorance out there as to the line of work that His Majesty's Government have to undertake, and even as to the real feeling of Members of the House of Commons. One of the saddest things in this connection has been that in the case of these Colonies, and particularly in the case of Kenya, there should have been that complete and lamentable misunderstanding at both ends.
I have not the figures with me, but I think the work of the Committee occupied 1812 some 54 days. We heard a large number of witnesses, read a large number of reports, and were in the closest touch with everyone concerned. Nobody was afraid, and everyone gave evidence freely. The result has been a realisation of the fact that the one anxiety in this country, among people who really count, is to get the facts, and to do the best we can to help. There is a certain body of people in this country, as there is everywhere, who do not care twopence about the facts unless they are useful for their special propaganda. They are to be found on both sides, on what I may call the right and the left. They start with a feeling of prejudice, and they have done infinite mischief. Nothing can do more harm than a little knowledge misapplied, with a great deal of prejudice added to it. Our Committee investigated these matters very fully, and, if a certain number of our recommendations are carried out, we shall be content to wait until proper investigation is made and a sound decision is arrived at. If the general effect of clearing up misunderstandings is allowed to make itself felt, I think the result will be peace and contentment in that unfortunate part of the Empire, which has been stirred up by every p.m. theorist and politician who wants to make a name by bringing up something which will excite interest, but which is not necessarily true. What is required is that these parts of the Empire should be left alone to develop on their own account. I submit that as a general principle.
As regards further development, I would express appreciation of what has already been done. Lord Moyne's visit, to which the right hoe. Gentleman has already referred, is an admirable move, and will give great satisfaction. The inquiry on the land question is absolutely necessary. The Joint Committee felt that there was a great deal that required investigation, but I would point out that we did not suggest that everything was wrong, because it is not. We suggested that everything might not be right, and that further investigation was called for, which was quite another matter. We are glad that the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman referred has been appointed. I do not hold the view expressed, I think, by the hon. Member for Roth well (Mr. Lunn), that a native should be included on a Committee 1813 like that. What does a native know about land laws, except, perhaps, in his own tribe? The Committee will have the great advantage of hearing evidence from the natives and getting their views, but it is necessary, if the balance is to be held quite fairly, that people with trained minds and real knowledge should review the subject.
Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. It is nearly always desirable, in dealing with questions affecting natives, to have someone who has been trained as a commissioner, and who has spent a large part of his life in acquiring the special training which qualifies him to handle natives; but I rather gathered that the right hon. Gentleman explained that this Committee included a member who either still is, or has been very recently, a commissioner. There are very few men experienced in the work of a native commissioner who are not thoroughly biased in favour of the natives, so that I am perfectly certain that the Committee will be an impartial one.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
My hon. Friend is absolutely right; Mr. Hemsted has very special qualifications.
Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I think that the matter can now be satisfactorily left until a later occasion, as it is sub judice pending the result of the inquiry. With regard to the economic inquiry, I am nut prepared to say that I quite agree with my right hon. Friend, but I would also like to tell him—I do not think it is a breach of confidence, as he probably knows it quite well—that a, certain number of people were particularly anxious that this adviser should have the full power which he would have had as chairman of the Committee, and that it was only by a compromise, made to meet the wishes of certain people, that he was deprived of that position. In any case, it is very satisfactory that such an eminent authority as Mr. Roger Gibb, who, I understand, has been carrying out an investigation in Southern Rhodesia, has been appointed to make the investigation. I think that those who have read the report of the Joint Committee—and 1814 I hope that those hon. Members who have not read it will do so for the sake of its educative value in regard to Empire matters—will see that what we have pressed for in regard to native development is that it should be carried on on the lines of their native councils and tribal customs, and generally fitted into their methods of handling their affairs.
There is one other matter about which I want to speak. The right hon. Gentleman in setting forth his ideas as to how the Colonies in our changed fiscal system can make their contribution to the Empire and get a better contribution from the Empire said there were two things—the trade which could be done by the Colonies with the various Dominions and the reciprocal preference which, perhaps, the Colonies could give to our trade. There is also another very important matter, and that is the track which certainly the Colonies can do with neighbouring Colonies and neighbouring foreign States. That trade is developing, and naturally will develop, and that is a trade which we should protect as well as our own. We have heard, and I think most of us know, that there are certain Treaties which at present prevent our Colonies in what is called the Congo Basin area from giving any preference. We have studied this very closely.
I happen, personally, to be responsible for bringing the various people interested together, and until recently we came to a definite conclusion that the interests of British trade, taken as a whole, were preponderatingly in favour of maintaining those Treaties undisturbed. Although we did appreciate the advantage in certain parts of the Empire, it would be exceedingly difficult to disturb those Treaties, and both four years and two years ago we came to that decision again. Two years ago in communicating with the Board of Trade w6 underlined that that decision was a temporary and provisional decision for the moment. To-day we have come definitely to the conclusion that with the change in the fiscal system the whole thing must be carefully reconsidered. It is very dangerous to rush in without weighing the pros and cons all round. These Treaties cover a great deal more than preference or duties, and therefore we have to consider the reaction on our various Colonies and on our trade. The general issue will have to be 1815 settled, as the right hon. Gentleman said, by the Board of Trade, who will have to decide how far British trade is going to be hurt or not. We must not rush too fast. I know that although a certain number of commercial people in this country and some chambers of commerce overseas are in favour of a change, there are a good many in this country not so, and it is wise, I think, for us to suspend our judgment until we have studied it all round; but of course it is not going to be side-tracked by anybody. Do not let us rush forward until we are quite satisfied. This is a matter for final decision by the Board of Trade in consultation of course with the right hon. Gentleman.
Sir J. SANDEMAN ALLEN
I have just said that the chambers of commerce in several Colonies have done so, and it is only a question of whether or not, in the interests of British trade as a whole, it is wise to disturb this matter. Having been familiar with the subject as chairman of several committees dealing with it, I have felt it my duty to say a few words on the subject to-day.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I should like to add my congratulations to those expressed by other speakers to my right hon. Friend for his most lucid and interesting account of his stewardship. We have had so many depressing reports of public affairs of recent days that it is a real pleasure to get something which has the unmistakable ring of confidence and hope. Our Colonial Empire is suffering like every other country from the present economic troubles, and being a primary producer is suffering heavily, but it is far less radically affected than other parts of the globe. It is not a chain of ancient societies settled in their ways who find their foundations cracking and their conventions shattered. It is a confederation of new countries who are only beginning their career, and the present economic troubles should be regarded rather as a temporary halt in progress rather than what is found elsewhere, the breaking up of an old and a settled order.
I was specially interested in what my right hon. Friend said about the scientific and technical work now being done in 1816 the Empire. In the old days our Colonial problems were only military and political. To-day the military interest is comparatively small. We still have political problems and always will have, but they are of a familiar type. The great problems are all economic. Our Colonial Empire is one of the greatest producers of raw material in the world, and its questions are mainly questions of applied science—how to extract its wealth first of all for its own inhabitants, then for the Empire, and then for the World. I think that few people realise what an extraordinary laboratory our Empire has become—a laboratory of scientific research both at home and in the colonies, the results of which are constantly interchanged. Take one example. There is a certain disease of sheep which for generations has perplexed sheep farmers on the Scottish Borders. It was investigated in New Zealand and diagnosed and a remedy found. That remedy was applied, not only in Scotland but to deal with another stock disease in Kenya. That is the new form of the romance of the British Empire. I was very glad, too, to hear my right hon. Friend pay a tribute to the Colonial Service with which I have had a good deal to do, a service selected in the only possible way for such a service, already, on both the administrative and technical sides of high quality, and I believe destined very soon to be one of the most efficient services in the world. It is surely a great thing at a time like this to have such a marvellous outlet for the ambition and energy of the youth of our own country and of the Dominions.
I should like very briefly to refer to one item of my right hon. Friend's extended stewardship, not one of the largest or perhaps most important, but certainly one of the most difficult. I refer to Palestine. I am not going to try to deal with the general question except to say that in her task in Palestine, Britain is hound by the most solemn obligations of honour, and, in the second place, that that task is of immense importance to her both in regard to policy and to strategy. Our attitude, as I see it, should not be pro-Jewish or pro-Arab but simply pro-British. Our business is so to conduct our work that we shall be faithful to our obligations of honour, and that we shall ensure the peace and prosperity of two races, to both of which we are deeply pledged.
1817 What is our national obligation of honour? It is not to bring Jews back to Palestine, but it is to prepare and make possible a National Home for such Jews as desire to return. The Zionist ideal does not depend upon the extent of territory over which a national home is created, but upon the chances given for the development of the Jewish national genius. That is to say, that its essence is qualitative and not quantitive. But since our trust is not for a limited number of Jews, but for the whole Jewish people, it involves freedom of immigration so far as the economic capacities of the land permit. That is to say, there must be no artificial barrier to the free and reasonable development of the returning Jewish people, and moreover we must give to such returning immigrants security in life and property.
That is not an easy task. In the past 12 or 13 years no doubt we have made many blunders in our Palestine policy. It is most important that those mistakes should now be forgotten, and I believe that, to-day both races in Palestine are ready to forget the past and look upon the present and the future with clear and practical eyes. As the Committee is aware, immigration is managed by arrangement between the Government of Palestine and the Jewish National Agency. Obviously it is not a very easy matter, and in recent years the tide of emigration has shrunk to a very slender trickle, and at one time stopped 'altogether. Now no Zionist objects to any restriction of immigration based upon economic facts. Zionists are not fools or dreamers; they are practical men. All they ask is that there should be no artificial barrier to such emigration; no barrier except the capacity of the land at the moment to absorb the immigrants, and that that fact should be clearly made known to Jews throughout the world.
What has the Jewish people done in this matter of returning immigrants? It is a most remarkable achievement. They have spent many millions in recent years chiefly drawn from the subscriptions of the very poor, thereby, I would point out to the Committee, largely saving the pockets of the British taxpayer. Their work has been wonderful. To my mind it has been heroic. Perhaps I speak with special feeling in the matter, for I too am 1818 a member of a small and scattered race, a race, however, which happily has never lost its Jerusalem. But if there is 'any suspicion in the minds of Jewry throughout the world that the British Government are not fulfilling their obligations in the letter and the spirit, then there is a real danger that these contributions will fall off and that you may find up and down the globe the most serious distrust of the honesty and goodwill of the country. Therefore I would respectfully beg of my right hon. Friend that as soon as possible he should make some 'announcement of an increase in the immigration quota to a substantial figure; to some figure which will be satisfactory to the Jews up and down the world who have given the interest of their lives for the establishment of a national home. I am informed that at this moment Palestine is modestly advancing in prosperity both industrially and agriculturally. If that is so surely it is vital that any such increase should at once be reflected in the figures of the quota of immigration, for it is only in that way that you will be able to allay the suspicion and distrust which unfortunately has grown up throughout Jewry in recent year.
There is one other point I would mention, and that is what is called the French Commission. The recent history of Palestine is strewn with the wrecks of unfortunate commissions which have stirred up a great deal of controversy and created a great deal of bad blood. The Shaw Report and the Hope-Simpson Report no doubt contained a great deal of valuable matter but undoubtedly they had disastrous political effects. I think we should have done with that kind of report. The French Commission has a very limited and practical purpose—agricultural development. We all are agreed that the future of Palestine depends upon the raising of the economic status of Jew and Arab alike and upon the co-operation of both races in a common economic purpose. I believe that there was never a better chance for racial co-operation than the present moment, so I would respectfully beg of my right hon. Friend to see that the report of the French Commission is used wisely and rightly, that it is kept to its strict practical purpose and its exact terms of reference, and that it does not contain, like the other reports, those obiter dicta upon controversial 1819 matters which have created so much trouble.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
I think that my hon. Friend will find that the opinion of the Government in Palestine has in no way disagreed with the contents of previous reports.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I do not agree with that statement. But I am not concerned at the moment with the Government of Palestine, for which I cannot speak. What I would ask my right hon. Friend to keep in mind is the delicacy and difficulty of the whole situation so that we may avoid stirring up any unnecessary and irrelevant controversial issues. We must remember that in Palestine what we do is subject to critical eyes. Whatever we do is anxiously watched up and down the globe by people who have sacrificed a very great deal to their ideal and in whose mind suspicion is, not unnaturally, rather easily engendered. These are truisms, and I am almost ashamed to repeat them. My only excuse is that even a truism is very often true, and that they do happen to be at the moment of some importance. But, let me add, I am certain that they are fully in the mind of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and of the distinguished soldier who is now Governor of Palestine.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think it is true to say that the only opportunity that this House and the world at large has of judging of the work of the Secretary of State for the Colonies is by his annual speech. The speech to which we have listened to-day has been, I think, the most pleasant speech of any Colonial Secretary that I have ever heard. I have to make that preloration, so to speak. [HON. MEMBERS: "Preamble."] Well, preamble, because in that speech he said that I was prejudiced. He is quite right. I am prejudiced. I want the Committee to realise one of the dangers of growing old. As you grow older you are dangerously apt to lose your prejudices; but I shall not. The danger of growing old is that you become more and more tolerant; tolerant of injustice, tolerant of cruelty, lazy. I remember the saying of a certain Bakunin, locked in prison year 1820 after year, who prayed that he might never come to be like Silvio Pellico and learn to forgive his enemies. That is what I call really good sound stuff. Having admitted that, perhaps hon. Members may discount something of what I shall say.
I listened with great pleasure to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan), whose work years and years ago in South Africa I shared and with whose views on the future of the British Empire and the duties of Great Britain I heartily agree. He dealt with Palestine, not from the point of view of the pro-Jew, or the pro-Arab, but from the pro-English point of view. He did quite right. A great deal of the future of the British Empire depends upon our having in that corner of the Mediterranean a friendly people, determined to support us in the Near East, depending upon us and, therefore, reliable. It is of the utmost importance to the future of the British Empire that we should have the co-operation of the Jews in the further extension of that Empire, of our trade and, above all, of our culture, but I see it being jeopardised at the present time.
Now I am going to make a prejudiced remark, and I hope that hon. Members will agree that, while it is difficult for me to say it, it is necessary. It will not be enough for the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities to persuade the Secretary of State for the Colonies that there must be a few more Jews allowed into Palestine. It will not be enough that he should be persuaded to scrap the French report and to allow land to be bought by Jews in Palestine. That is not enough. Our real difficulty—it is time somebody said it; someone who is not a Jew—that the representatives of our Government in Palestine are not playing the game; that they are disloyal. I do not mean disloyal to the Balfour Declaration, but disloyal to us, disloyal to the ideals of Great Britain. Our aim, the aim of the Colonial Office and of the Colonial Secretary is that there should be real co-operation between England and the Jews of the world in building up Palestine and in the extension of all that Jew and Englishman stand for in common in the past history of the world and in the future. Our 1821 officials in Palestine never lose a chance of criticising, attacking and disappointing the Jews.
It is inconceivable that if the massacre of two or three years ago had been a massacre of English people and not of Jews that the Government there could have conducted itself as it did by disarming the very people who were being attacked. That is only one example. Pinpricks go on month after month and year after year. The police during the last rising could not be relied upon, but the same police are there, and the same officers. Everything, the whole institution, seems to my prejudiced mind to be determined to wreck that for which I and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities stand. There has been an age-long struggle between the Jews and the Church. That has gone on for 2,000 years, and it is going on to-day. It has been a mean and a dirty struggle throughout. There has been more injustice, more bullying, and it is going on to-day, in the east end of Europe than there has been in any ancient struggle or any racial hatred that one can imagine. The Church against the Jew! And our officials there are on the side of the Church and against the Jews, and against those of us who love liberty and justice. It is given to us to have an opportunity of righting this age-old wrong, and we can do it with advantage to ourselves as well as justice to humanity. We are not playing our part. It is not our fault here and it is not the Government's fault, but it is the fault of a disloyal body of officials in Palestine.
§ Vice-Admiral TAYLOR
May I ask if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has confirmation of these sweeping statements against our officials, who have no chance of defending themselves in this House?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Of course, I have confirmation. It is from my own observation. If the hon. and gallant Member would like to see it, he should read my book, called "The Seventh Dominion".
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. and gallant Member has not time. If he wants to secure justice, he might find time.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have said what I have said about Palestine, and it will probably be my last word on the question because, having said that, nothing else I say on that question will ever be listened to. It is the business of the Government to defend their public officials.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
It is not the business of the Government to defend their officials if they are wrong. I take the responsibility for all my officials, whether they be right or wrong, and, if they are to be attacked, I am the person who ought to be attacked. As my right hon. Friend has taken this opportunity of making certain charges against our officials, 'I think it only fair to say that I entirely repudiate the spirit which he has thought it fit to attribute to them, and I am sure that every single official, from Sir Arthur Wauchope, is discharging his difficult duty in the fairest way he can.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am glad to hear that, and I hope my right hon. Friend will take the earliest opportunity of visiting Palestine and seeing matters for himself.
§ Dr. O'DONOVAN
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate the singular ease of his position in attacking the Church over a history of 2,000 years. There is no member of the Church present to defend her; and he has mentioned the name of no church. He must appreciate the ease and security of his position.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The history of the last 2,000 years is enough foundation for my statement. Did not every crusade begin by a massacre of the Jews?
§ Vice-Admiral TAYLOR
In view of the statement which has been made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, denying the criticisms of the right hon. and gallant Member in his attack on our officials in Palestine, I must ask him to withdraw his statement. It is only fair that he should. He speaks of justice; and he should give justice to these officials who are endeavouring to do their work as well as they can.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I point to the three massacres of Jews which have taken place in Palestine, massacres which would never have taken place if the Jews had been English. On that I base by charge that they have not been loyal to the idea of British-Jewish co-operation.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The hon. and gallant Member will have a chance of chipping in and proving the valuable services of these officials. I was about to point out that these officials in Palestine are not ordinary Colonial Office officials. At the present time the Colonial Office is recruiting perhaps the best material in this country for the Colonial Office Service, but those in Palestine were recruited after the war, not from the Colonial Office officials with the traditions of the Colonial Office but from other sources. The best hope for the future of that country is a gradual drafting into Palestine of our Colonial Office Service. Unfortunately, Colonial Office servants at the present time are suffering from severe cuts in wages and salaries, and throughout the world, particularly in the African Colonies, the salary is extremely low. The Colonial Office would be well advised to see that its servants are adequately rewarded for their excellent services, which I should be the first to recognise in every other Colony to which I have been.
The difficulty is this. The financial times through which we are passing are enforcing these cuts, and I was glad to bear the right hon. Gentleman say that 1824 he was consulting experienced financiers to see whether some co-ordination in economy and in finance could be made. May I ask him whether he will also consider the possibility of having an Income Tax in these Colonies instead of the present system of taxation. Mauritius is a case in point. We have recently had a report in which it is pointed out that taxation in Mauritius is probably more inequitable than that of any other of our Colonies or Dependencies. It appears that the poor are more heavily taxed than the rich. The system of a hut tax, or a house tax, whereby the people pay so much per head of the population is prevalent, and an Income Tax would be a timely piece of justice to the poorer taxpayer of Mauritius.
The same thing applies to Kenya. A Commission is inquiring into matters in Kenya at the present time. An Income Tax was imposed in Kenya at one time, but it was objected to by various white settler interests and, although it was actually imposed for a year and a half, it was finally withdrawn because they would not pay, and ever since then the white population of Kenya have paid a very small amount in taxation relative to their wealth. A hut tax or a poll tax may fall equally on black and white, although the white man pays 30s. as against the native 7s. 6d., but that is an alteration in the wrong direction, and now that times are difficult it seems rather hard to cut the salaries of civil servants and yet allow a fairly wealthy white population to escape all Income Tax, in fact to escape nearly all direct taxation. The burdens which are pressing so heavily upon us in this country can be avoided not only by going to the Channel Islands but by going to Kenya. It is an injustice to the natives of the country, and to the Civil Service. It would be much fairer if the basis of taxation were altered and in those Colonies where Income Tax does not exist that something of this nature was instituted.
I was glad to bear the Secretary of State for the Colonies say that he proposed to standardise the accounts of many of these Colonies. Besides standardising their accounts some steps should be taken to standardise the system of taxation, so that there should be the 1825 same sort of direct taxation and indirect taxation in all these Colonies. The hut tax should be scaled down in the case where it affects unfairly the native population and some steps should be taken to treat uniformily the problem of local taxation as well. The native is always prepared to pay if he sees that he is getting the benefit of the money he provides. It is where money is taken from him and expended on general taxation that hostility to taxation exists. Money which is spent on developing the reserves and above all on education is collected willingly, and expended for the benefit of the native. If some form of uniformity in that respect were established it would be not merely a matter of economy but of justice to the native cultivators of the soil.
Recently I went through the whole of the systems of local taxation in all the Crown Colonies, and every one of them differed. The process of drafting ordinances for dealing with these questions is left almost entirely to the Colony itself. The Attorney-General drafts them, and probably he knows something of what they did when he was in Antigua or on the Gold Coast, but nobody checks him. The draft is sent to the Colonial Office, who may discuss the matter on the spot, and then a law is enacted, perfectly distinct from anything on the West Coast, strictly resembling that in Antigua. That goes on until you find that the system of instituting by-laws and collecting taxes varies from place to place without any attempt to regularise it, co-ordinate it, or to select the best from the many samples available.
I mention that because in Kenya we have almost the only case of a colony in which they have a sound system of local taxation. In Kenya, inspired largely by the example of South Africa, they have all the taxation levied upon capital value or upon land value, not upon annual value as elsewhere, with the result that the local rates in Nairobi are no burden whatever upon fresh building or upon development. If it is good enough for Kenya the system might just as well be applied elsewhere. South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all have that system of levying local rates on land values and exempting buildings and improvements from the rates, yet throughout the whole of our Colonial Empire, 1826 except Kenya, we have the other system, the British system imposed. It is a question whether a little co-ordination and comparison and study of what works best would not be of great service in these hard times.
Then I pass to the question of the joint committee on East Africa. I think that that committee really has done something to save the natives of East Africa. After that magnificent inquiry and the evidence they took, their report is a charter of freedom for the future. I do not particularly like the Land Commission that has recently been appointed. I do not like it, but I do not think it can do much harm. The report itself is a basis upon which the native can build in the future. There is his permanent title to the land; there is his prospect of securing ultimately a vote in a free democracy; there is a chance of getting education. But I would say this about the speech of the Secretary of State: I do not think that we ought to look upon our Colonial Empire solely—I am sure he does not—from the point of view of what we can get out of it in the way of trade or raw materials. Our administration of our Empire has not been, as has been thought of all Empires in the past, how best to exploit the native population. I ask the Committee to observe that throughout the whole of our tropical dependencies there is no unemployment whatever. [Interruption.] I will not say none at all, but I do say that over the vast part of Africa what the native suffers from is not want of employment but too much work. We suffer from lack of work; they suffer from too much work.
We see the efforts now being made to develop railways and roads, to build a Zambesi bridge and what not. That is not conferring a benefit on the natives in those countries, but forcing them to do more work than they do already. They do not like work; we do. It is not kindness to them to make them work harder, to get them to develop the country, to provide them with the opportunity of working in Northern Rhodesia. It is kindness to the shareholders in this country, and it may be good for our trade, but it is not good for the natives. Therefore, while it is inevitable that we should seek, in the interests of the people of this country, to develop the raw materials in our African de- 1827 pendencies, let us bear in mind also our other duty, not so much to develop civilisation as to provide for these natives a road to a really better civilisation of their own. The only difference between the British Empire and all the Empires of the past, is that we try to create in the minds of the subject people the superiority complex, the power of governing themselves, to give them self-respect and self-reliance, and not to keep them as useful dependencies of our own.
I sometimes think that we are in danger of losing that ideal. There have been signs lately of a different conception of our duties to the natives, that what we have to do is to preserve them in their present condition, to allow them to develop on what have been called their own lines, to preserve their customs, their superstitions, their cruelties and their prejudices, rather to put them in a glass case and carry on without them. We have seen the witchcraft trials in East Africa, the brutal and horrible murders. We have seen the horrible practice of female circumcision, with all its disastrous results to the future of the black race. A hundred years ago, faced with a similar problem of native practices in India, we firmly put down such things. I do not say that we should put down either female circumcision or the brutal murder of witches by law. I do not know that that is a possible way of doing it. The only way is to educate these natives so that they get the minds and mentality of English people, instead of retaining for ever the minds and the mentality of natives.
Therefore, I am a little suspicious of this determination to preserve the native in his pristine ignorance. I do not want him ignorant. I want him to learn, because it is absolutely impossible any longer to keep the native out of the struggle for existence, out of the fight that civilisation involves, the fight for a living. They become detribalised at such a rate that they have no weapons whatever to stand up for themselves—no education, no power to read, no power to argue. The nature is drawn out from the completely savage state to a civilisation which he does not understand and in which he goes down. If you concentrate your attention on preserving the tribe and the location, the rule of the 1828 witch and ignorance, you really destroy the last chance that the native has of becoming a useful civilised being. Therefore, I attach enormous importance to the action of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in seeking to extend the teaching of English in our Colonial Dominions. The learning of English is the beginning of the power to reason. It gives the opportunity of reading the Press. It even gives the opportunity of receiving the words of agitators.
I know it is said by a great many people that one of the mistakes which we made in India was in teaching English, and that, if we had not given the Indians Burke and Macaulay we should not have had any trouble in India. I do not mind trouble. What I object to is ignorance. I think it far more important that you should have troublesome educated natives than docile ignorant natives. The first stage is to teach them English. I nave seen some references in the "Manchester Guardian" to the importance and perfection of the Italian language, and now essential it is to learn the divine tongue of Dante Alighieri, but English literature is infinitely better for the whole world and opens up an infinitely larger vista than the literature of Dante and Petrarch and D'Annunzio. I want those portals opened for natives all over the world. I want them opened for the Jews in Palestine. I do not see why our officials in Egypt, if I may so describe them, should still speak bad Levantine French after we have been ruling Egypt for about 50 years. We have been 50 years in Cyprus and the last report says that in most of the villages there is at least somebody who can talk English. That is an advance, but considering the advantages which English possesses one cannot help thinking that there too we might have spread the torch of our own language better. It is, in a sense, revolutionary to teach these people English but it was revolutionary to teach the working class of this country to read. Education makes everyone want to get away from where they are. The very word means "drawing out." You cannot expect from education comfort and peace for an official class, or for governments, but at least we ought to realise in 1932 that education is the best thing that we have had during the last hundred years and is the best gift we can make to the subject races of the British Empire.
§ 2.30 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS
I rise to draw attention to a part of the Empire which is extremely important, but which has hardly been touched upon in the speech of the Secretary of State, obviously because of lack of time. I refer to the British West African Empire. I do not think it is always realised that in Nigeria we have the largest British dependency outside India, with 20,000,000 people, many in a state of savagery and many gradually developing to a certain state of civilisation. I presume to mention this part of the Empire to-day because some six years ago I had the honour of accompanying the present First Commissioner of Works on a Colonial Office Mission to that country, and in collaboration with him I wrote some of the Report which was subsequently issued. I am therefore speaking from a somewhat short experience of the West Coast, but even a few month's visit enabled one to visualise, however cursorily, some of the problems which exist in that part of the world. I do not think it is quite realised, either, how very much the people of these parts of the Empire appreciate having their affairs considered by the British House of Commons and I was most anxious that this Debate should not pass without some special reference to the problems and difficulties of administrators and inhabitants in that part of the world. There are two points of which I would ask the Under-Secretary to make a note, because they are of great interest and show, I think that certain steps are still required in certain directions to improve administration on the West Coast. When I say that I am not in the least criticizing what has been done in the past, I imagine there are very few parts of the Empire in which the old and the new so sharply impinge the one upon the other as in West Africa. It is difficult to realise that it is only within the last 25 or 30 years that these territories have come under any effective administration at all. That is a very short time, and it will take many years before we can say, if we can ever say that the administration is perfect. But I suppose that nothing in this world is really perfect.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) complained of the existence of different systems of taxation in different districts. I think that is almost 1830 inevitable for some time to come, particularly in a country where, for example six years ago the district commissioner ruling a province of vast size had four or five days in walk to get to his headquarters; where you have as in the Northern Territories of Ashanti, or had a few years ago, only 53 Europeans in a huge area. It is impossible to administer the same system of taxation in a district so backward, as you could administer in Lagos, the cosmopolitan capital of Nigeria.
§ Mr. RHYS
I am not saying that you are not to have a certain standardisation, in time, but I do not think it is fair to criticise Colonial administration because there is not a universal system of taxation throughout the Colonial Empire at present. That is the only point I am making. There is one very important consideration which I believe will make for the welfare of the inhabitants of that part of the world and I should like to ask the Under-Secretary for some information upon it. I refer to the Gold Coast system of land tenure. The system of land tenure in West Africa is entirely different from that in East Africa. We can say there that the land has been left almost entirely in the hands of the natives. I think there is only one European plantation in the country. The natives are allowed to own the land, to produce goods and to sell goods to European traders. That, generally speaking, is the system, but we found that a great deal of trouble and difficulty was being caused by the amount of land litigation.
§ Mr. RHYS
I know, I was referring to the Gold Coast. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is perfectly right in saying that it does not apply to Northern Nigeria. I am taking as an example what goes on in the cocoa-growing districts of the Gold Coast. In many of these districts there is a system of ownership very like that which you might have in this country, on the basis of the landlord, the tenant and the labourer. The landlord is, of course, the chief, who is not allowed to own the land, but is allowed to let the land which belongs to his stool.
1831 Because there has been peace for a certain number of years and the villages are no longer at war with one another, there were various undetermined tracts of land which used to be no man's land, and now that peace has come it is not always easy to decide what piece of land exactly belongs to each village, and there is a good deal of land litigation going on, which is impoverishing considerably the stool. and the revenues of the chiefs and their villages. There was a suggestion that a land court should be set up which could collect the facts of the case and which would devote itself almost entirely to this aspect of the position, and that there should be no appeal from the land court on questions of fact, but only on questions of law. I do not know whether that idea has ever been followed up. If it has been, I should be very interested to hear about it, and if it has not, perhaps the hon. Gentleman could give us the reason why it has not been found practicable.
That question of the stool leads me to a very important point, and one that is the most profound question that we have to consider in the making of our Colonial Empire. That question is, Where are we ultimately going? It is easy to say that we are governing these countries in the interests of the natives concerned and that we wish to lead them on to full self-government. At the same time, we have to face the implications of that idea, because does it mean ultimately that we are going to place our white administrative officers under African chiefs? My own view is that that is an entirely impossible proposition. So long as you are going to be in those countries, for whatever purpose, whether for trade or for the benefit of the Africans themselves, you have to keep your ultimate power in the paramount sovereign body, and that is the white man; but that is a very far prospect, and I would rather for the moment discuss a nearer prospect.
We govern mainly through the existing tribal organisation and through the existing chiefs, but any hon. Member who thinks that these chiefs are merely savages is mistaken, for many of them live in semi-European houses and have motor cars. At the same time, they have to observe the rites of their stool. Also European schools are in existence, and 1832 here we get one of the great difficulties and what is actually breaking up the authority of many of the chiefs. The African who goes to the European school and learns European ideas is very apt to come away with a pretty big idea of his own importance and a very little idea of the importance of the chief and the stool, which are the administration of the Government. What are we to do in that connection? Steps are being taken, and not too early either, to try to remedy the decaying authority of the stool by ensuring that the chief's sons shall have a proper education. Also a very remarkable experiment has been tried in the Prince of Wales College at Achimota, not only to keep the African in his own country, but to give him the proper education which is necessary if he is to play any proper part in the modern administration of West Africa. The idea there, and rightly, is to preserve all that is good in African traditions, African law, and African ideas; not necessarily to bring the student to London University or Edinburgh University, where he may imbibe many ideas which are suitable for us, but which are not always so good for him, and if he can get a full and proper education in his own country by properly qualified European and African instructors, we shall find that much has been done in the direction which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down required. I think that is possibly the right line, but very profound thought is required by this country for the future as to the direction in which we are really going and as to where our policy is ultimately going to land us. I do not pretend at this moment to know the solution, but we have to realise that we have set our hands to an immense problem, that we are unloosing forces which we cannot altogether measure in the future of the world, and that it is as well that our minds should be applied in that direction.
There are two other points upon which I should like to touch, and one is the question of cocoa. The Gold Coast produces about two-thirds of the total world supply of cocoa. Hitherto it has been a crop that has been extremely easy to grow and has been the mainstay of the Gold Coast, for the admirable reason that it takes very little trouble to grow it and that the Gold Coast farmer has 1833 been able to put his cocoa tree in the ground and, metaphorically speaking, sit back and watch it make money for him. That is easy while prices are high, and it is also easy enough while the soil has not become exhausted from repeated crops, but there are now indications that the soil is becoming exhausted. Almost the whole of the cocoa belt is opened up by modern motor roads, and I should be interested to know whether the research and educational departments are taking the necessary steps to instruct the native growers in the manuring of the land and cure of the trees.
I rather deprecate, if I may say so without impudence, the putting of all the eggs into one basket. When you have catastrophic falls in the price of your commodities, such as occurred in cocoa, it hits the general finances of the Colony very hard indeed; but if, owing to the fall that has taken place, we can use this psychological moment to turn the attention of the inhabitants to other forms of crops, perhaps it will not have been an ill-wind altogether. The local inhabitants are apt to rely too much upon imported food supplies and do not pay enough attention to the growing of suitable crops for themselves. That also leads in a regrettable direction, as I think, to an increased reliance on tinned food. If they could be encouraged to grow more fresh food for the inhabitants themselves, I think we shall have done a valuable work.
Finally, I would like to see, where possible in the more northern districts, an encouragement of the growth of fresh vegetables for the European inhabitants, and I should very much like to see made compulsory, where possible, the good condition of gardens as well as of the bungalow and furniture, in the handing over by one white officer to another in those districts where vegetable growing is possible. There was an interesting experiment going on in Northern Nigeria in the growing of vegetables, and it was found to be perfectly possible. Nothing is more valuable to the health of the European staff, in what is not and never can be really a white man's country, than a regular supply of vegetables, and wherever economy has to be made I hope that 1834 as little economy will be made as possibly can be in the provision of houses for European officers and their wives.
No one suggests, however, great as is the improvement in the general health of Europeans and the great fall in mortality, that it can ever be a white man's country, or that white children can ever be healthily brought up there, but much can be done to ensure the contentment of our European district officers by giving them the best possible houses. I do not necessarily mean European houses. It is, perhaps, better in really hot districts to have houses made by native workmen in the native fashion with thick walls of mud. In my very short experience in that district the coolest nights I spent were spent in houses constructed in the native fashion with thick walls. They were far cooler than the modern European bungalow, and, with a little ingenuity, the occupants can make them extremely attractive. I hope that all forms of architecture will be considered and that one most suitable to the district will be adopted.
The officers should always have a proper amount of leave, and I believe the leave regulations are being much more liberally interpreted than they were a few years ago. The principle should rather be, in my view, the condition of the health of the officer and not the actual number of months that he may have served since his last leave. The normal tour of duty is 18 months' service with one week's leave for each month of service. It is not a week too long to recover, in many cases, from the curious effect of the West African sun. But that ought not to be interpreted literally and the important decision to rest in the hands of the senior executive officer should be the actual condition of health of the individual. He ought not necessarily to be forced to stay the whole 18 months if at the end of 15 months he is really not fit. It is certainly much easier at the centres of civilisation to complete the normal tour of service, but one has to consider what it is to be at a bush station in the far North, where it is very hot, with no other white man week after week and month after month. That is why I believe the individual case should be considered rather than a too rigid interpretation of the rule. I believe that 1835 elasticity has now been achieved, and I am very glad that such is the case.
I invite the Committee to send its best wishes to the British West African Empire, the inhabitants and the administrators who so devotedly serve it.
§ Mr. JANNER
I am sure the Committee will bear with me while I touch on that very interesting and important topic which has already been dealt with so well by two previous speakers. For some 2,000 years, in prayer and in hope the Jewish people throughout the world have turned to the land of their ancestors, Palestine, for inspiration and guidance. I do not speak in any disparaging terms of the Arabs, because all those who are interested in the Zionist movement clearly and definitely agree that the Arab population should be considered in a proper manner, and there is not the slightest desire on the part of any who are connected with the movement that there should be oppression of any other people. But during the 1,000 years when Palestine was in the occupation of the Arabs it remained a land which was economically unsound and was practically barren of cultivation. After all, Palestine is only the size of Wales, and the idea of colonising it can only be brought to a successful end if it has behind it a considerable amount of idealism and of desire to promote the interest of visionaries who believe that that is the only spot in the world where they can find some common centre for their common ideals. Since the Congress which was held in 1897 at which Dr. Herzl presided, Great Britain has shown close sympathy with the ideals of the Zionist movement. This was brought into concrete effect when in 1917 the Government issued a declaration in which they stated quite categorically:His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.On April 23rd, 1922, the Mandate for Palestine was conferred upon Great Britain at the San Remo Conference and this was confirmed later by the League of Nations in 1922. The policy of the 1836 Mandate has been endorsed by all British Governments which have prevailed since, by the Governments of the British Dominions, by all the principal States represented in the League of Nations and by America. It is interesting, for the purpose of understanding the position, to notice that in the course of the last ten years the Jewish population in Palestine has increased by 100,000, but that there has been a similar increase in the Arab population. Before Zionist effort began, the population of Palestine was practically stationary. The settlement in Palestine is not a commercial undertaking but a work of national regeneration. If it had been otherwise, the results achieved could not have been comparable with those which to-day fill the whole world with wonderment. The country would have remained in its former drowsy and static condition. The dynamic force provided by the efforts of the visionaries, the pioneers, has altered the face of a considerable portion of the land to a condition even beyond the hopes of the most sanguine. It has made Palestine an oasis of optimism in the desert of the world's economic position to-day. This has been brought about mainly not by capital which has been brought in from rich and wealthy people, but by the efforts of people throughout the length and breadth of the world who, in many instances, have contributed towards the fund by pennies and two pences in boxes which have been distributed at millions of points.
I should like to refer to the remarks of the Secretary of State in which he mentioned that scientific methods, inquiry and research were necessary in order to get the best that we can for the benefit of our Colonies and the Empire. Palestine during the last 10 years has afforded one of the most striking examples of how a land has been brought from malaria infested conditions in many places to a prosperous condition in certain districts by scientific inquiry and by proper methods of research, which have been produced, not through the coffers of our Exchequer, but through the pockets of Jewish people throughout the world. The laboratories of the Agricultural Experimental Station at Tel Aviv, with branches in other parts of the country, mark the beginning of the entry of a modern era such as the agriculture of the East has never known 1837 before. It has encouraged the growth of fodder on irrigated ground, rational alterations of varieties cultivated, increased and better use of manures, and an improvement in milking and in the breed of poultry. It has developed the planting of early vegetables, the standardisation of agricultural machinery, the prevention and cure of plant and animal disease of all kinds. The Jewish Settlement was the first to take up dairy and poultry rearing; it imported cows for the purpose of breeding and increased the average yield of milk from 600 litres for a cow of local race to 3,000 litres. These settlers introduced into Palestine new varieties of fruit, such as the banana and grapefruit, and they were the first to plant fruit trees to a considerable extent.
I could enlarge upon the activities of this small section of people who made up their minds that they would overcome every difficulty in order to provide a centre of national interest in Palestine. I could tell the Committee of the achievements which have been performed in the direction of industrial improvements, how the colonists have improved the social conditions of the people in the land. I could elaborate—and anyone who has been to Palestine could see it quite clearly—that out of chaos there has been provided something which is a credit to the world, and which, if extended, will enable the world to have an asset that it had not before. That has been done not at the expense of the Exchequer, but directly through the services which have been rendered by these colonists themselves in Palestine. The Palestine administration provides for the whole of the cost of those matters which are not dealt with by Jewish funds. It does not call upon the Exchequer to spend anything in order to supplement them. It merely calls upon the Exchequer to pay such sum as may be necessary for the support of those military forces which are normally a part of the strength of our forces in this country. Anything over and above that has to be met by the Palestine administration itself. In the course of that administration the Jewish people, it is estimated, provide from 30 to 40 per cent. of the actual income of the Palestine Fund; consisting of one-sixth of the population of the country, they bring to the funds of the 1838 administration some 30 to 40 per cent. In addition, some £40,000,000 capital has been brought into Palestine by Jewish people, and above all the efforts of the pioneers has made it possible to make those improvements to which I have referred.
My reason for addressing the Committee is that I wanted the Committee to have some small idea of the achievements in Palestine. I wanted it to know that in the last 10 years a city has been built on modern lines and planned under modern conditions, namely, the city of Tel Aviv, the population of which has increased from 5,000 to 40,000 in the course of these years, and which is built on sand dunes in a manner that is a credit to town planning. I want the Committee to understand that all the work that has been done has been done on lines which could be approved by the most careful of those who are prepared to criticise in other directions. The educational system in Palestine, which does not demand that children should attend school compulsorily is being supplemented from the funds of this movement, which makes every Jewish child attend school. The medical services of the Jewish national movement have been open to the whole of the people, and trachoma and other endemic fevers have been wiped out in certain districts because of the research and investigation which has taken place.
All this has only been possible because of the knowledge that was behind those who were working in that cause that they had the support of the British people, and that they relied on that support not breaking down. My hon. Friend who spoke from the opposite benches spoke with feeling when he put his finger on a certain spot which he contended was the cause of some of the troubles in that country. Some two years ago, although the Zionist movement was providing conditions which would be of advantage to the whole population of Palestine, there occurred something which was to the discredit, and certainly to the discomfort, of all who had anything to do with the management of the country. There occurred in Palestine a pogrom, and the Committee will fully realise the bitterness of feeling that spread throughout the communities of the world when they heard that in that very land, which was not considered as a profit-making venture 1839 or in any sense as a land from which there would be extracted anything, but a moral and national satisfaction, a pogrom occurred.
Is it any wander that indignation spread, and that when the White Paper was published subsequent to that massacre people were dissatisfied with terms which limited the advancement of so important a movement? Is it any wonder, too, that even to-day, when we know that the Colonial Office is giving sympathetic consideration to the matter, people who have supported this cause are nervous lest the spirit of the Prime Minister's letter which supplemented or explained—or tried to explain away—the contents of the White Paper, and which said that certain things would be done in Palestine to make the position consistent with the terms of the mandate is not to be implemented? Is it any wonder that there is heartburning among people who see that there is no tangible move towards carrying that letter into effect? We know that in the last few months there has gone to Palestine a High Commissioner in whom the faith of the Jewish people and the Zionist movement is considerable, though he has not yet had an opportunity of doing all that would be expected of anyone who had made a longer stay in that country; and I appeal to the Colonial Office to endeavour by their acts to give effect to the promises contained in the Prime Minister's letter.
Several matters have been prominent in the minds of those who are aggrieved. In the first place there is the question of immigration. There was an immigration labour schedule for Palestine, introduced, I agree, before this Government came into power. When they are arriving at the figures for that schedule the Jewish Agency, after careful consideration, calculates the number which it considers the land can economically support. It will surprise the Committee, I am sure, to hear that the Administration in Palestine ultimately sanctioned the ludicrous figure of 350—only 350 new recruits to give wealth to a land which depends so particularly upon the immigration of those who are prepared to work under conditions which would not be accepted by many other peoples! Of that 350 half were retained by the Administration itself. People who are interested in the Zionist movement feel that this decision 1840 reduces the position to an absurdity, and I am confident that those who are directing the affairs of Palestine to-day will see that the position is remedied.
In some of the lands which have been purchased by the Jewish National Fund—and after all, the land forms the basis of the Zionist Movement in Palestine—which have been purchased to become the inalienable property of the Jewish nation, leases have had to be granted to Bedouins who have swept down and demanded the right to come upon lands in respect of which not only has the purchase money been paid, but full and adequate compensation has been given to the tenants. I hope that the administration will take note of the dissatisfaction that is felt by those who consider that the leases which have been granted are not a reasonable and fair thing to be expected of the owners of that land, and that when the time comes for the expiration of those leases, proper and due care will be given that those who swooped down upon the land should he asked in no uncertain manner to remove themselves.
There are other matters of which I believe the administration is already aware. I do not want this Committee or the Minister to feel anything other than that the desire of this movement is to give of its energy, and of all it possesses, of its gifts, to the land of Palestine. That desire is one that has no regard to oppressing any other people. It wishes to work in co-operation and harmony with other peoples in that land, but it believes, and it is entitled to believe, that it has not merely helped its own people but has given complete and full advantage to the other peoples of that land. It has made their land more valuable, has shown them methods of cultivation which otherwise they would not have known and has brought a considerable amount of health to them. It has done in a social and in an economic direction, very much indeed to improve the conditions of the whole of the inhabitants of the land. It wants to have a complete understanding between the two peoples, but it wants not to be prevented from continuing its own activities, which are of such importance to the welfare of the land. It wants to have an opportunity of knowing that the movement as a whole shall not be so discouraged, throughout the length and breadth of the world, that it will not be 1841 able to find that capital to help Palestine which will relieve the Exchequer and give prosperity to the whole of that country, irrespective of whom the inhabitants may be.
It believes that if the spirit of the Mandate is properly carried into effect, harmony will be produced in that ancient land, where the National movement built a university at the commencement of its career. It believes that if this movement is encouraged, it will ultimately provide in Palestine a great centre of which this Empire will be proud—the Empire which holds the Mandate. It will produce an opportunity of trade which is incalculable, and it will prove to be something which will be a credit to the whole world. In that spirit, I appeal to the Colonial Office to regard the position. I appeal to them to make it clear to those who are managing Palestine that this is the real spirit in which it should be managed; that there is nothing inhuman, wrong or unprincipled in it; that it is all for the good of the country; that no one should have the right to enforce, upon those who are doing all that they possibly can for the improvement of the country, ideas and difficulties which are not reasonable or proper; that no council shall be held in that land which can disobey the order of the administration by introducing anti-Semitic matter, or by dealing with questions, as the recent Conference in Palestine did, with which it has been ordered not to deal; that the authority of the administration shall be respected, and that, consequently, further improvements shall be brought about in the conditions, in which there have been such considerable improvements during the last 10 years, which have made that country something very different from anything that it had been for many centuries before.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I am sure the Committee will agree that this Debate has had a very wide range. Subjects have been dealt with relating to the four corners of the world, and I am sure that the Colonial Office will be gratified at the number of matters dealt with on its Estimates. One can only regret the putting down of these Estimates for a Friday afternoon, when the shortness of the time available does not permit of the full Debate that is possible on other days. I 1842 understand, however, from what the Minister said, that there would be no objection to carrying the Debate over, and that, consequently, there will be opportunities for further debate on these problems. I propose to confine myself on this occasion to the problems arising out of the Report of the Joint Committee.
I am glad that the Government have tried to put into operation the recommendations of the Committee at the earliest possible moment. Perhaps the most important part of the Report is that which deals with the native policy laid down in the recent declaration, and the recommendation that that policy, including the Government's Memorandum of 1930, shall be generally made known to the native community. One of the troubles in the past has been that the native community has not really understood what has been laid down in these papers, and I am sure it is a step in the right direction to make it possible for every native to understand what is meant, so that the administration may be brought into harmony with their ideas. I am sure that the Government are doing all that they possibly can, but I should be glad to hear what steps they are taking in this direction. With regard to the question of native representation on the Legislative Council, which is dealt with in paragraph 101 of the Report, I am sure the Government will act in the spirit expressed by the Committee with regard to trying to increase the native representation in the manner specified. We recommended that the Native Commissioner should have greater powers. We expect him to throw his cloak, as it were, over the question of native administration, and we hope that he will strengthen the administration by carrying out the suggestions made to him.
The next question is in regard to the committees or commissions which are to be set up. This is one of the points which we welcome most, because the Government have acted at the earliest possible moment in setting up these commissions. But the question is, what are the terms of reference and how wide are to be the inquiries? I am sure that the House is delighted that Lord Moyne has undertaken the financial side of the inquiry. I am sure he will do justice as far as he is able, but I am not quite 1843 sure whether be has been given a free hand as to terms of reference, or is confined to a certain line laid down by the Government as to the scope or sphere of his activities. At any rate, I should like to ask the Minister whether two or three things have been included in the terms of reference, because nearly everybody holds a different opinion about matters appertaining to Kenya and East Africa. Personally, I have felt that the scales have been loaded against the natives in many directions, and when inquiry is made into the taxation of the native people of Kenya, I think more consideration should be given to the position of natives, of whom there are 2,500,000 as compared with 20,000 white people. Of course, they ought to be given greater consideration on many grounds, one being, of course, that their intellect is nothing to be compared with that of white men. They are in need of protection, and have to be coached or prepared in order to accept any alteration of their mode of life.
Consequently, further consideration should be given to this question than has been the case in the past. The taxation of natives has been advocated in the past as a means of inducing them to work for wages. Whether that is a wise step or not I am not prepared to say, but when the natives have been settled on their own land for centuries, it is very difficult to break them from their old customs, and to get them to begin working for wages, because it breaks right through all their customs and their tribal instincts. Personally, I believe that the interests of the whites have been favoured in relation to taxation in several directions, and, as a member of the Committee, I have many chances of reading memoranda which, I believe, every member of the Committee reads. With regard to taxation, on public expenditure roads and education, railway rates and Customs, I believe honestly that the scales have been loaded against the natives and in the interest of the white population. If financial retrenchment is to be made, it is necessary that it should be made in just proportions between the two communities. It is not a question of whites and natives according to their numbers. It is not a question of individual against individual. In this case, I think, we are 1844 bound to look at the whole question as two communities, and try to do our best to hold the scales evenly between them. The question of capacity to pay by the natives I do not think has been really sufficiently studied. Their standard of life is so low that it is almost impossible to realise what it is. While, of course, they have a standard of life, we must not overlook the fact that it is a very much lower standard than that of the white populations living in that particular district, and special consideration ought to be given to it. I believe that figures are available as to the estimated income, and, if so, they should be the basis or the groundwork upon which we should proceed.
There are one or two other matters which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister with a view to having them inquired into while Lord Moyne is out there. There is the question of direct taxation paid by able-bodied men, and also the incidence of taxation for boys over 16 years. I believe that for the white population it only applies after 18 years of age. There is also the native widows and the non-able-bodied men. All these conditions ought to be investigated with a view to trying to get at the bottom of the matter so as to be able to apply a just taxation upon the people. The proportion between communities, rather than individuals, should be fully considered. When we are dealing with great numbers of people, individuals must drop out and we must take the community as a community. If we look at the figures which have already been given, it would appear that at least the native community as a whole pays more than half of the total taxation of the Colony. Whether that be true or not, there is nothing to prevent Lord Moyne from taking into consideration the whole of these matters with a view to trying to produce a report which shall be up to date and shall interpret the positions of the people correctly.
The question of education has been mentioned several times in the Debate, and it is one of the greatest questions which we have to face. To educate a tremendous population of native people such as we have there under satisfactory conditions is a very great job indeed. No matter how big the task, we ought to be able to rise to the occasion as long 1845 as we remain the trustees for those people. I believe that efforts have been made in the way of education which have not generally given satisfaction. The natives gave land to certain missionaries on which to build schools and also gave their labour in the building of the schools in order that some kind of education might be given to the native population along with the white population. That has been going on for some time. I understand that now difficulties have arisen between the missionaries and the native people, and also between the education authorities and the native people with the result that a number of the schools are, at the moment, closed. They are still held by the missionaries, but they are not being used to do the work for which they were built. The missionaries said that they did not like the native customs, and, on the other hand, the Government said that they did not approve of their curriculum and consequently could not give any grant. The education of those races is a, very difficult problem indeed.
I had some experience of education in Northern Rhodesia two years ago. The progress of education cannot be stopped; education will roll on like the flow of a mighty ocean to every corner of the world until its object has been achieved. You cannot restrain the education of peoples of whatever colour they may be. I was delighted to find in Northern Rhodesia that they had two systems of education. There were two separate departments—a native department, and a department for the white people. As far as I could gather—and I visited the schools there—they were going on satisfactorily with their work, each department working in conjunction with the other. As a consequence they have a method of education there which, in the course of a decade, is bound to tell a very good story indeed and to justify itself by every means. I have been wondering whether it would not be possible to have a method of education similar to that brought into operation in the East African Colonies. I am sure that it would pay in the long run. It might be slightly expensive and difficult at first. I should like consideration to be given to this particular part of the business by the people who are in authority.
1846 3.30 p.m.
I wish to refer to the question of the Land Commission which has been set up. It does not appear to have given general satisfaction, or indeed much satisfaction, to the native races. When we are investigating matters on behalf of the Government we should at least try to make the investigation as effective as possible. The Commission has been selected, and I believe, from what I can gather, that the chairman is a fine sort of man. The settlers are represented, but the native interests are not represented. I need not tell the Committee how nervous the native population are in regard to the land question. This is an opportunity given to us to try to establish a custom and system which will give the natives greater satisfaction in the disposition of what they call their own property, which I believe cannot be disputed. One can understand these feelings in the native mind in view of the statements made by the Parliamentary Commission and the lawyers. A somewhat startling statement was made in the report of the Parliamentary Commission on East Africa, which went out in 1924–25, and which states that:No individual native and no native tribe as a whole has any right to land in the Colony of Kenya which can be recognised by the courts.That means that the native population of Kenya are almost outside the pale of civilisation. I think that something ought to be done by the Land Inquiry Commission, if it is to give greater confidence to these people, to make them realise that they are in their own country, and that they have opportunities of development and progress. Then there was the declaration of Lord Sumner, which may be said to be quite as brutal as the statement that I have read. In connection with the Rhodesian Land case, which came 'before the Privy Council in July, 1918, he said:Whoever had any rights in this land, the land did not belong to the natives.I want this question to be open to full inquiry, and I hope that something will be done that will give satisfaction to the native population; something that will make them realise that they are members of their own country and of the British Empire. In order to show the dissatisfaction which exists in regard to the composition of the Committee, I should like 1847 to quote a letter which appeared in "The Manchester Guardian." on the 15th April, signed by Mr. Johnstone Kenyatta, Secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association. He said:The terms of reference of the Commission are good and sound, but the personnel seems to us one-sided. The members are all either ex-officials or settlers, and we believe that, as far as the latter are concerned, they have personal interest in the land which has been taken from our people without payment or compensation. In our opinion the Commission should consist of people who are independent of land or of financial interest in Kenya and who are not associated in any way with the Government. Further, we believe that no commission of inquiry into questions concerning our land can be successful unless it includes Africans among its members.So the letter goes on. The native interests ought to be as strongly represented on the Commission as it is possible for them to be. Certainly, they are entitled to be represented there by people who know their interests and are able to do their duty to them in that direction.
I should like to raise the question of Northern Rhodesia. In Northern Rhodesia a new capital is being built at Lusaka, a considerable distance from Livingstone. I should like to know the estimated cost of the Government buildings in the new capital, when they will be ready for removal from their old position, and whether the land upon which the new capital is being built is owned by the Government, by the chartered company or by private individuals. I should like to know the price paid for the land. My last question is the date at which the work is likely to be completed. I am quite sure that this Debate will be conducive of good in many directions in connection with our Colonial Empire. If the Government are anxious to do all they can to meet the difficulties which exist, I hope they will review the position with regard to the land inquiry in Kenya in order to see that the interests of the natives are properly safe-guarded and represented, so that we shall have a report which can be accepted by the white population and in which the natives also will find that they are given their proper place as citizens of the British Empire.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Sir Robert Hamilton)
The Debate this afternoon has 1848 illustrated the necessity for a more frequent inquiry into Colonial matters in this House. It has been said more than once that we do not get sufficient opportunity to consider Colonial matters, and to-day it has only been possible to raise a very few matters connected with the administration of our Colonial Empire and only a few hon. Members who wished to speak have had the opportunity of doing so. At the same time a considerable area has been covered by the Debate and a number of topics have been raised. It is difficult for me to give anything like an adequate answer at the short time of my disposal, and in these circumstances it may perhaps be better for me to deal with the more important subjects. As the Debate opened on the question of Kenya and closed on the same subject perhaps I had better say a word about Kenya.
I am sorry that criticism has been directed to the composition of the Land Commission. We realised in the Colonial Office how important the findings of this Land Commission will be and we were anxious to get the most suitable men possible to consider the difficult questions which would come before them. As regards the Chairman of that Committee, Sir William Morris Carter is a man with knowledge and great experience of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. He has been a Chief Justice; he has a legal mind, the balanced mind of a judge, local knowledge and experience, and it will be admitted that at all events he is a suitable person to act as Chairman of this Commission. He has carried out a somewhat similar examination in Rhodesia with great success. But the criticisms to-day have been directed more particularly to the other two members as representing what may be called the settler interests rather than the native interests. In answer to these criticisms it can only be said that the two gentlemen who are to assist the Chairman are British, with that sense of justice and fair play which we hope are inherent in all Englishmen. One of them was for many years in charge of a native district. He had charge of the Masai, amongst other tribes, while during his period in Kenya he was definitely in charge of the native interests.
I do not think it can be said that the interests of the natives are likely to be overlooked by the Commission. At the same time the Commission is in the nature 1849 of a judicial body, before whom evidence will be brought. It is not as though it was a body composed in, order that various interests might be represented on that body, but it is a body set up more in the nature of a judicial body to hear the evidence that various interests may bring. I am sure the Committee may rest assured that under the guidance of Sir William Morris Carter the Commission at the end of its time—they axe not going to hurry over their work, but will do it very thoroughly—will present us with some very valuable material, which I hope will go a long way to settle once for all the very great difficulties that have arisen over land in Kenya.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) and I think the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) both referred to the question of native title to land generally in Africa, an exceedingly difficult question, as must have been realised by anyone who has read the speech of Lord Lugard in another place, where he raised the question with a view of having it considered. This Commission of ours in Kenya is going to be the very first step to get that question put on a right basis. The hon. Member for Rothwell also raised the question of juvenile offenders in Kenya. Legislation is already being drafted to deal with the point to which he referred—legislation for the better treatment of juvenile offenders in that country. The hon. Member also asked a question as to a labour department. I think he will realise that in countries like our African colonies a labour department as such would in many cases really be redundant, and would very largely overlap the work of the native commissioners, who are concerned with the natives. Although in some cases it might be desirable to have special arrangements made for dealing with labour, where the colony is at all an industrialised colony, still I think the hon. Member can rest assured that, so far as Kenya and such colonies and dependencies are concerned, the interests of labour are looked after, in the first instance, by the native commissioners with, over their head, the Chief Native Commissioner.
That brings in a point raised by the hon. Member as well as by the last speaker, as to the importance that was attached by the Joint Select Committee 1850 to the appointment of the Chief Native Commissioner. Speaking as one who has had some little Colonial experience, I realise very fully, as the other members of the Select Committee realised, the very great importance of this office. The man who holds it must be a man with experience of natives, a man who understands the native mind, a man with whom the natives are in sympathy, a man who can realise their feelings and understand their wants, and in a mixed state like that of Kenya a man who can ensure that the wants and desires and necessities of the native population are dealt with properly. That is obviously very difficult and it depends very much on the personality of the man who holds the office what good may come of it. The filling of this post is being considered by my right hon. Friend with the views of the Select Committee before him and he is endeavouring to find the most suitable man for the post.
The hon. Member for Rothwell also spoke of the Colonial Labour Committee which was set up in the time of the last Government. That Committee has done a great deal of useful work and its institution has been entirely justified by the results achieved. By the inquiries which it set on foot throughout the Colonial Empire it brought to the notice of the various governments the importance of bringing some of their rather antiquated legislation up to date in dealing with labour questions. It may be of interest to the Committee to hear of the work which has been done with regard to such a question as workmen's compensation. That very important question was often neglected in early Colonial legislation. When a new colony was being founded there was a tendency to leave over a matter of that kind, which meant that the workers who were helping to build up the colony, failed to get any compensation if they were injured. Owing largely to the work of that Committee there is, in 16 Colonies, legislation of a general character on this subject, four draft Bills are now under consideration and in eleven Colonies new legislation or amending legislation is contemplated. In another Colony a Measure has been passed, but is not yet in force. That is a fair example of the work which the Committee have done in that direction.
1851 With regard to trade union legislation, in 11 Colonies such legislation has been passed or is in preparation. In four Colonies legislation has been proposed, but the opportunity has not been found convenient at the moment for passing it, whereas in eight other Colonies correspondence is going on with the Colonial Office as to the nature of the legislation that would be suitable or desirable. Another branch of their work has been with regard to penal sanctions in labour contracts and there again the Committee's efforts have resulted in bringing up to date many of the ordinances which were brought into force a great many years ago. On the other hand, I should state that the vast mass of work started by this Committee, under the great and, I think, rather ambitious programme laid down by Dr. Drummond Shiels who then held my office, has led us in practice to see that much of it will now have to be dealt with in the Departments. A great deal of their spade work is being made use of in the Departments, but the Committee itself is being kept in being to give advice on difficult matters of controversy should they arise. I think that answers the question of the hon. Gentleman.
To leave Kenya for a moment I should like to say with regard to Cyprus that I am happy to be able to announce that that there is really no famine. There have been some rather upsetting notices in some of the papers, and telegrams have appeared which would lead one to believe that there was a terrible state of famine, but, by the mercy of Providence, the rain though it came late, came in the nick of time, and saved a good deal of the crops, though I am afraid they will be very short this year. I think the reports that have been made as regards famine in Cyprus are rather over-stated, and we are glad to think that conditions will improve now that the rain has at last come, because Cyprus, together with Palestine and other countries at the East end of the Mediterranean, has been suffering, not unlike ourselves this year, from a very prolonged drought, which has come there just at the planting season.
Another point raised by the hon. Member was the use, or rather the suggested misuse, by the Governor of Ceylon of his powers of over-riding the State Council. 1852 There have been four instances lately in which the Governor has had to use his powers, and I should remind the Committee on this point that under the Constitution the Governor has certain duties and obligations placed upon him. One of those duties is to safeguard the Service interests, and another is the power of certifying, over the heads of the State Council, any matter which he considers to be of paramount importance, where he has to report the matter to my right hon. Friend. The instances in which he has used one or other of these powers are, first, with regard to a temporary enabling Ordinance authorising deductions from public officers' salaries as an economy measure. The dispute there between the Governor and the Council was not that there ought not to be a cut in salaries, but as to who was to do it. It was a question as to whether it should be done by the State Council as a measure of taxation or by the Governor as a temporary measure under his duty of safeguarding the Service interests, and the Governor decided that it was his duty, in regard to the Service interests, to do it in that way rather than that the matter should be done by taxation by the State Council.
The other two matters were the passage relief for holiday warrants for the State servants, which were established a good many years ago and approved by the previous Government. The State Council considered that those should not be continued, and the Governor considered that under his power of looking after Service interests it was his duty to see that State servants were not deprived of them. Finally, the Income Tax Amendment Order, which was a proposal to relieve non-resident holders of Ceylon loans from Ceylon Income Tax That was a matter which was certified by the Governor as being of paramount importance, because had it not been done, it would have gone very sadly to the discredit of Ceylon. Those are really the only matters to which reference can be made as to the Governor having used exceptional powers.
As regards mui-tsai in Hong Kong, I am glad to say that, I think very largely owing to the interest which was taken in this House and which has been taken at home generally in this question, a 1853 great deal has been done of recent years in Hong Kong to put an end to this very difficult question. It must be realised that when reforms of this sort are asked for, although Governors and Councils in Colonies may desire to carry them out, they gain an enormous power behind their shoulders if this House of Commons is anxious to see them carried out, and the House of Commons here has expressed its views pretty clearly with regard to this question of mui-tsai, with the result that the numbers of the mui-tsai registered are definitely decreasing year by year. There are no fresh registrations permitted, and since 30th November, 1930, the numbers have decreased from 4,117 to 3,741. The inspectorate has been increased; the inspections are very much more frequent and efficient, I think, than they were; the Chinese Department have been lending every possible assistance; lady inspectors have been added, and the assistance of anti-mui-tsai societies has been called in, with the result that on the whole the Governor is very fairly satisfied with the progress that has been made, which is reported regularly to the Secretary of State, and I think the Committee may rest assured that we are on the high road to seeing the end of mui-tsai in Hong Kong before very many years have passed. As regards labour in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, the High Commissioner has been touring there recently and has sent a report which is under consideration.
With regard to Palestine, I am sure we can all sympathise with the keen disappointment that anyone must have who sets out with great enthusiasm and high endeavour to carry out a difficult task when he finds that time is passing and the achievements that he hoped to effect are still in the future. Within recent years there has been a combination of events which have tended to cause a good deal of disappointment to those who were hoping to see matters in Palestine go a great deal faster than has been possible. This question of the settlement of the Jewish National Home in Palestine has always reminded me of a journey upriver in a canoe where you meet with shallows and rapids and, in order to get on, you have to unload your canoe and carry it round the rapids. Then you think you are going to have an easy turn and round the corner there is another 1854 rapid, and the canoe has to be unloaded and carried again. It is very hard work and very disheartening, but all the time you know that, if you do not unload the canoe, you will lose it in the rapids. That is what has been happening with regard to our advance in Palestine.
We have been bound by the course of events to go slowly to prevent the scheme being wrecked on the rapids through which it has had to pass. There has never been any desire by this Government or any other to depart from the letter of the Mandate or, since the Prime Minister's letter of explanation in the White Paper, to depart from what he set out there. However desirous one may be of getting on with the work, we are limited by the absorptive capacity of the country and it would not help matters if the immigration schedule were suddenly widened out and thousands were poured into the country where there was no means of absorbing them and putting them on to work when they could produce things which could be sold in the markets of the world. Therefore, it has been left, very rightly, to the High Commissioner, in conjunction with the Jewish agency, to decide the number that can be admitted from time to time. It would be very unfortunate if the authorities in this country tried in any way to interfere in a matter of that sort and, although saying that I thoroughly appreciate the spirit with which the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner) spoke, and deprecate the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) spoke, I hope the spirit of enthusiasm will not be allowed to evaporate.
§ It being Four of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned accordingly at One Minute after Four o'Clock, until Monday next, 25th April.