Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £97,704, 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, 1934, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of States for the Colonies."—[Note.—£49,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 11.7 a.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)
The first thing, I think, at which the Committee looks in discussing an estimate is the size of the Estimate and the comparable increase or decrease with last year. If the Committee looks at these two Estimates and at the figure which is always the larger figure, that is, the grant-in-aid which has to be made to certain of our Dependencies, it will see on page 86 of the Vote the satisfactory statement that when the balance is cast there is a net decrease of £227,877. That satisfactory position is due, I think, to two causes. It is due, in the first place, to the rigid policy of economy which has been carried out in the administration by Governments all through the Colonial Empire. It is also due to a certain improvement in prices which is due in turn partly to world conditions and partly to our own planning and our own policy which this House has approved. The problem of Colonial trade and of Colonial finance can be summed up in two words—markets and prices. The prices of certain commodities have shown an improvement recently, which I hope will be maintained and increased. The market prospects have definitely improved by reason of the policy of preference which this House has adopted. I think the Committee will see, in looking at the reduction in the cost of 1422 the Colonial Empire to the taxpayers of this country, what a very direct interest we have as taxpayers, to put it at its lowest, in making the Colonial trade as prosperous as we can.
We have that interest as taxpayers and we have that interest as a great exporting country. It is a remarkable fact, in spite of the great fall in prices, that if we take the export trade of this country and its distribution among the different parts of the world, we find that since 1924 the proportion of our export trade going to the Colonial Empire has increased by over 60 per cent. I think that that is a very remarkable fact when we bear in mind the tremendous slump in prices which has reduced purchasing power and the power of Colonial Governments to place their orders on Government account. That ability to trade with us has, of course, been greatly increased by the policy of preference passed by us here and carried forward through the whole Empire at Ottawa. Ottawa made one great change so far as the Colonial Empire is concerned. The Committee is aware that before the Ottawa Conference, while Canada gave certain very valuable preferences to the West Indies and while New Zealand gave certain preferences, the rest of the Dominions and India gave no general preferences at all to any of the Colonies. As we were able, therefore, to negotiate at an Imperial Economic Conference for the Colonial Empire as a whole, it was possible to make agreements wide in their scope and invaluable in their details which would have been impossible to achieve at any other time and under any other conditions. The result obtained is two-fold. First of all there are the detailed preferences, which are set out in the Schedules to the Agreement; but more important even than the details was the establishment of the principle that from then onwards all the Dominions and India would make their preferences Empire-wide, and would extend preferences to the whole of the Colonial Empire. That, I think, meant the completion of a partnership of very real value and it should be of increasing value in the future.
The Committee will be interested if I follow certain of the commodities on which the Colonies depend. Let me take a few examples of what the effect has been, and let me show also, what is 1423 very important, that the stimulus which has been given by this new policy has not merely stimulated the market, but has stimulated the Colonial producers themselves to engage in research and to make their own production more efficient. Coffee obtained a great benefit at Ottawa. The Union of South Africa agreed to grant a preference of one penny a pound on all Empire coffee. In Kenya, I regret to say, owing to the drought, the coffee crop this year has suffered very badly. It is an important crop to the Empire, and we have managed to maintain a relatively high price, partly because of the preference and partly because great care has been taken to maintain the quality of sales by grading. They have also been undertaking a great deal of valuable research at Amani, one of the most valuable research stations in the world, into the rooting habits of Arabica coffee. Investigations have indicated that this valuable type of coffee thrives only under certain limited conditions and in special areas. If we had known that before, a great deal of capital that has been lost would have been saved by planting this particular type of coffee in particular areas. They have also undertaken investigations into the die-back of coffee which follows on overbearing in the East African territories. The cause of this die-back has been ascertained. It is probable that the results of these investigations may make possible the devising of effective control measures against this trouble.
Take another crop of wider interest even than coffee, namely, sugar. It is not too much to say that the preference which this House granted a year ago has saved that industry in the West Indies, Mauritius and Fiji. There, again, not only has the preference assisted the market, but sugar producers right through the sugar producing countries have been active with their research and development. Mr. Stockdale, in his tour of the West Indies, has borne testimony to the improvement in factories; improved types of sugar cane have been developed, and a central cane-breeding station for the Caribbean area was started last year in Barbados and will have a great influence on the best cults and most fruitful types, of sugar cane throughout the West Indies. A sugar research station has been at 1424 work in Mauritius, where they have gladly undertaken further intensive research, and have provided the funds necessary for an officer of the Imperial Institute of Entomology to be seconded for work there to deal with particular pests. Right through the Colonial Empire producers are more than ready to take advantage of this market to make their production as efficient as it can be. The House of Commons, like Heaven, is pleased to help those who help themselves.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
More efficient production of that which you produce, thereby making your production cheaper and enabling you to sell better. On another occasion I will explain to my right hon. and gallant Friend exactly what is the policy which the World Economic Conference has endorsed. The preference given in Canada, increased by the Ottawa Conference, has been a great stimulus to tomatoes and other vegetables in the West Indies, and I think probably they will be able to grow their own crops in succession, so that, one crop after another, they can take advantage of this preferential market. In the case of bananas the preference, which after the Ottawa Conference was stabilised at 2s. 6d. a cwt., has been of enormous value. It has ensured a market for Jamaica and given it a deserving industry, not only because of its importance to the Colony but because it affords the best example I know of really successful co-operation. Any of those who ale acquainted with the Jamaica Banana Producers Association will know how enormously valuable that has been. Started in the face of great competition from a great undertaking, it has ensured the best prices to growers. It has acquired its own ships, it is marketing its own produce, and it is, indeed, a most admirable organisation. In the Cameroons, banana growing is developing, and the preference in Canada has enabled a beginning to be made with a trade in bananas between Fiji and Western Canada.
Take the case of tea. There I can at any rate satisfy my right hon. and gallant Friend that a very business-like restriction scheme has been undertaken. The three great tea-producing countries, 1425 Ceylon, India and the Netherlands East Indies, have agreed on a co-ordination scheme which, I think, ought to be of great advantage. In Ceylon they have not only entered on this scheme, but the new hope which it has given of remunerative prices has encouraged them to go in for a very sound scheme of propaganda.
In tin, again, a co-ordination scheme is in operation which covers 90 per cent, of the tin production of the world, and has succeeded in raising the price of tin from a level at which hardly any producer could work to a remunerative level. Tobacco is developing on just the right The production of tobacco is helped by the very close association of the producers in different Colonies with the great tobacco companies, and I would like to express my appreciation to the British-American and Imperial Tobacco Companies for the great help they are always ready to give in advising the best type of tobacco to be grown in any place.
I come, next, to timber. A completely new opening for Colonial timber is beginning to develop. The 10 per cent. preference has created in the merchant and the user an interest in the supplies to be found within the Empire, but that would not have been enough if the different Colonies had not been careful to get the right contact with buyers in this country. I think I told the House on another occasion of a scheme which we were discussing to bring home forest officers, who know a great deal about the conservation of forests but not so much about marketing conditions, for an intensive course of study of marketing conditions with British timber firms, in order that they may get to know the requirements of the market and can go back as valuable marketing officers. Four or five of these officers are in this country. The Empire Marketing Board have played a most invaluable part here. Two things have to be done in order to "get timber across" in this country. First, we have to be sure that the timber is useful for its purpose and will meet all requirements. That is a side of the work which is being dealt with at Princes Risborough, and admirably it is being done, but we must bring that knowledge to the representatives of those who are buying timber and get them satisfied, and the work which one or two men on the Empire Marketing Board have done in bringing 1426 the scientific results obtained at Princes Risborough to the every day working knowledge of timber firms has been quite invaluable.
Let me give the Committee instances of how the use of Colonial timber is spreading. West African obeche and iroko and Nigerian walnut are being increasingly used. Malaya has been sending types of timber not hitherto used, meranti and keruing. They have proved satisfactory, and repeat orders are now on the way. There are two comparatively new timbers from Borneo, red and white serayah. Those are finding a ready use as flooring materials and for building purposes in the North of England. Greenheart from British Guiana is being increasingly used in dockwork, and another timber, wallaba, from the same place is being used for telegraph poles.
I wonder how many hon. Members know—I did not until the other day—that British Guiana red cedar had been used to build an Eton racing boat. Hon. Members who travel from Brighton will find that the newest Pullman cars on the Brighton rail, due to the influence, no doubt, of the late holder of my office, who is now a director of that railway, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), are decorated with colonial timber. I could go on quoting many other instances, but I think I have quoted enough to show that the Colonies are alive to the great advantages of the market in that respect. I could speak of citrus, oranges, grape fruit and other fruits, for which markets have been developed.
New markets are opening up for a product which had been almost wiped out by the development of artificial silk, and that is sea-island cotton. Thanks to the co-operation of some very enterprising Lancashire firms, sea-island cotton is beginning to hold its own, and I cannot too strongly commend to hon. Members that if they want the most admirable, the lightest and most durable underwear they cannot do better than buy underwear of sea-island cotton. On another occasion, when it would be more in order. I should be very glad to give an exhibition of it. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the trade mark?"] The trade mark is "The Happy Valley." There are even better champions in this matter than I can ever hope to be. When the M.C.C. team went 1427 to Australia they played in shirts of sea-island cotton; the West Indies team said that they were keeping their sea-island cotton shirts until the weather was a little warmer.
There are two things I should like to mention, and one is the very close cooperation between the producers and the rope-makers in this country, in regard to sisal. As soon as the duty was through and the preference had been put on, the producers approached the rope-makers and got together with them, and there is a sound and regular working arrangement and co-operation between the people who produce and the people who use. Valuable tests and experiments are going on all the time with this commodity, and I should like to pay a. tribute to the Admiralty, who have taken the matter up and who have had tests made all over the world in their ships, as to the value of sisal and its efficacy for various purposes; having made their thorough tests, I am glad to say that they have now placed orders.
I might mention cocoa, in which co-operative marketing on the Gold Coast is producing good results. A very important result is that better prices are being obtained. In Nigeria experiments are being made in fermentaries. The results of these experiments have been made available to producers elsewhere. Results of research in one case are made available to producers in other cases, so that though all may compete on the market, all may combine to get the best available benefits from the research. A Board has been established in British Guiana which is ensuring steadier prices for rice. Then there is cotton, for which industry the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation in Lancashire has done so much. The Uganda crop this year is estimated at 285,000 bales, which is 25 per cent. in excess of the last three years. The price has shown signs of improvement lately, and that ought to be of very material advantage. I think that I have said enough to show that right throughout the Colonial Empire we are trying to plan, and I think that we are on the right lines.
We have a double problem. We have first the problem of production for export, and that means making use, to the fullest of our power, of the preference 1428 which is ensuring us a market, and taking advantage of it to get the greatest efficiency we can, both in production and marketing. In the second place, there is production for our own consumption. To that equal attention has been paid. The Colonies should be able to live on, as well as to live off, their products. Very material work has been done, and the more they are able to produce their own foodstuffs in order to feed themselves the more purchasing power will be available and the larger will be the surplus. Both these problems are receiving full attention, and in both of them we are on the right lines.
After that review, which has been rather long—I think the economic side of this work is very important—the Committee would wish me to try and cover certain subjects which have cropped up from time to time in Questions. I will make a selection of the most interesting of these. Let me take first of all Malaya. There, as I announced some time ago, the Government have decided to adopt the admirable report made by Sir Samuel Wilson who set out to investigate the whole position on the spot and who made very practical suggestions. His report has been widely and almost universally approved in Malaya. That is private information from Malaya and is not official. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook, and, I think, his predecessor, in their public dispatches, have laid stress on the desirability of decentralising the machine.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That shows how extraordinarily little the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows about the Report or the facts. I will now give him the facts. There is nothing in this Report, or in what is being done, which alters in the slightest degree the power of the High Commissioner, or the power that he exercises to-day. It is entirely a question whether he should exercise it through a centralised machine for the four Federated Malay States, centralised at Kuala Lumpur, or whether he should 1429 exercise it through a decentralised machine in the different States. The suggestion is that there is something new, but there is not only nothing new in policy—it has been announced as the intention of the Government for years past—but it is simply a partial reversion to the system which operated there in 1895. Apparently the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme does not know how the Federated Malay States came into existence. They came when British protection embraced them, as separate States into a Federation. They came in under Treaties by which the Resident in each of the States was to advise the Sultan on all questions of policy, and the Sultan would take his advice on, I think, all questions except certain matters of religion. That is the position in the Unfederated Malay States to-day. There is no question at all of altering in any degree, even by a comma, the Treaties which bind us, either in the Federated or in the Unfederated Malay States, and which are charters of agreement with the Rulers both of the Federated and of the Unfederated Malay States.
What did happen was that gradually the administration became very centralised, so far as the Federated Malay States were concerned in Kuala Lumpur, and I think there has been general agreement that the machine has become a good deal too centralised, making for increased expenditure and for delay, and not paying sufficient regard to local interests and local conditions. The view which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook expressed years ago, that we ought to decentralise again to some extent, was undoubtedly a wise view. The Departments which it is proposed to decentralise are those of agriculture, co-operative education, electricity, forestry, medicine, mining, public works, veterinary, prisons, and drainage and irrigation. But the ultimate authority of the High Commissioner remains absolutely unprejudiced, and, as part of this decentralised scheme, an Advisory Council which will be established, and over which the High Commissioner will preside, will represent the Governments of the States, with a view to securing a common policy and a co-ordination of policy where that is desirable. I know that this proposal has been warmly welcomed throughout Malaya as being a practical way of getting decentralisation 1430 of an over-centralised system, and yet getting a common policy where obviously a common policy ought to exist. Financial control remains entirely, and I think it is right that it should, in the hands of the Federal Council. I think I have said enough to show that a charge of scuttling is a very strange one to advance in this connection, and that a partial reversion to a relationship which existed between us and the Malay States when they first came into the British Federation, and which is dictated by common sense, economy and efficiency, without the faintest alteration of our relationship with these States, is, when it is considered impartially on its merits, a practical and sound thing to bring about.
May I now say a word about Northern Rhodesia, because I want specially to acknowledge the great debt which this country owes to the Beit Trust? The Committee will remember that we were able to take advantage of very favourable market conditions to issue a Rhodesian Loan, which was very much over-subscribed. It will also be remembered that some time ago a beginning was made on the building of the new capital. A certain amount of work has been done, and obviously great inconvenience was caused by the fact that, while the work was only in a state of partial completion, parts of the Government were functioning at Lusaka and parts of it were functioning at Livingstone, and functioning under conditions of the most extraordinary discomfort, because the houses and buildings were so tumbledown that they had to be propped up. Provided that the finance was available, it was obviously good policy to get the Lusaka enterprise completed. The Beit Trust made a most generous offer to the Government of Rhodesia, namely, that, broadly speaking, they would find the interest on the cost of completing Lusaka within four years. That was a most generous offer, which enabled the Government of Rhodesia to go ahead with the completion of the capital. This will give a good deal of employment in the next two years, at a time when Northern Rhodesia wants that employment very badly, and I am sure that everybody in the Committee will wish to express a deep sense of gratitude to the Beit Trust for that generous assistance.
I should like now, passing just across the border, to refer to Nyasaland. I 1431 mention it because there we have the most recent example of the extension of indirect rule through the local native authorities. The new Governor, on the basis of a great deal of preparatory work which was done by his predecessor, and using the experience of Tanganyika and other countries where it was applicable, but wisely distinguishing where conditions were different, proposed to me a very well thought out and comprehensive scheme for the extension of indirect rule. I gladly approved of it, because it was entirely in line with the policy, which we have now been following for years, of building up these native institutions peculiar to the temperament and environment of the people; and at a felicitous opportunity, on the King's Birthday, he was able to make a public announcement, which was most cordially received.
I can sum up the scheme by saying that it starts, or rather reconstitutes, native authorities throughout the whole Protectorate except in the townships and areas where non-native interests predominate. The authorities constituted under the Ordinance will have a double duty. In the first place, they will assist the Governor in administering local native affairs. They will be empowered to levy local rates and dues, subject to the control of the Governor, the proceeds of which will be paid into the local native Treasury. The native authorities will thus be primarily responsible for financing the development of native institutions and establishing native local services, such as courts, schools, roads, transport facilities, agriculture and so on. The system is designed to promote the declared and continuous policy of His Majesty's Government to train the natives for self government by means of native institutions.
I pass north to say a word or two about Kenya. I do not think I need add very much to what was clearly set out in the dispatch published in the OFFICIAL REPORT giving the decision of His Majesty's Government with regard to the alternative taxes. It was absolutely vital that Kenya should restore its financial position and balance its Budget. It was perfectly plain, even before Lord Moyne's Report, that that could only be done by a combination of the strictest economy with some method of new taxation. It 1432 was also quite plain that the new taxation could not be levied upon the native population but must fall upon the nonnative population. Everyone, I think, entirely accepted Lord Moyne's finding on that.
He recommended that the fairest form of taxation for this purpose was an Income Tax. I spoke of this on Supply day last year and explained that an Income Tax Ordinance would be prepared. At that stage no suggestion had been made from any quarter as to an alternative form of taxation. We in this country have a natural prejudice in favour of Income Tax. It is, scientifically administered, fair in its incidence. It embraces those who should be embraced, although some occasionally manage to elude that embrace. It has the further advantage that you can deal with the individual and the corporate undertaking equally, and there is a very great deal to be said for it. The Income Tax Ordinance was introduced. It was prepared in detail and submitted for criticism in order that it might be put into the most convenient practicable form. For some months no alternative suggestion was put forward, but last March for the first time alternative proposals were submitted. That created an entirely new situation. The moment those proposals were tabled, I informed the Governor that I wished them to be given the fullest possible consideration and that I wished to have both proposals, the Income Tax in its final form and these new proposals, reviewed.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am not quite sure what my hon. and gallant Friend means. The proposals emanated from the Chamber of Commerce and a number of commercial bodies in the Colony. They were submitted to the Governor as alternative proposals and he informed me of them. I arranged that there should be an inquiry into their practicability by a committee on which officials and unofficials were represented and, by arrangement with the Governor, both sets of proposals in their complete form were to be submitted to me for final decision as between the two. It was a matter of considerable importance and 1433 the decision had to be the decision of the whole Government. Of course, I obtained Cabinet approval for the decision that was taken. Also, as I informed the House the other day, I thought it right to consult Lord Moyne. He had made very valuable and exhaustive inquiries in Kenya and he had made the report which was so much appreciated in the House. I, therefore, put the whole of the facts before him and obtained his opinion before we made our decision, and he authorised me to say that in his opinion that decision was unquestionably, in the circumstances, the right one to take.
I hope these proposals may succeed. I was asked the other day whether the fact that the Government here had accepted these alternative proposals and had authorised their being given a thorough trial was any derogation from the power of the Government here to exercise control. Of course, it was nothing of the sort. I really do not see how that question can arise. There was very close consultation on the spot in order to get the opinion of the people on the spot. I think it is a self-evident proposition that, if particular sections of a community are to find a certain amount of money by taxation, it is not unreasonable that they should find it in the way that the majority of them prefer to find it rather than in another way which we may, perhaps, think a better way. In these cases it is very desirable that the decision as to the method of levying taxation should be that which commands the greatest measure of local support.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Most certainly. I should have thought that the whole of our administration all through the Empire shows that our whole trend is to try to bring the natives, through native institutions, big or small, into the administration to raise their own taxes in the way most suitable to the native administration. That is being done all through the Empire. One of Lord Moyne's proposals was the creation of a separate native fund into which native taxes could be paid, and that is going to be carried out. All through the Empire we try to levy direct and indirect 1434 taxation on natives in the way which, on the whole, is most convenient and most acceptable.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
To the natives, certainly. How much taxation has to be paid must be a matter for decision. You must balance the Budget. The issue is not whether you should or should not have taxation, but what is the most convenient way of raising the taxation that has to be paid. Surely, it is only common sense that there should be the greatest possible measure of local consultation and local consent. There is no question whatever about any change in the constitutional position. The Committee will remember that in the Report of the Joint Select Committee there occurs a passage in Which they record their considered judgment. In paragraph 76 they say:The primary obligation to the native races follows naturally from the acceptance of the principle of trusteeship, and to this certain corollaries must be added. The control of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom must remain unimpaired. The conditions in East Africa, where these widely differing communities exist side by side, demand the maintenance of an effective power of intervention by the Crown in all matters of both legislation and administration. This power will be exercised by His Majesty's Government acting through the Secretary of State. It is clear that under existing conditions, the principles outlined above can only be effectively operative if the authority of His Majesty's Government remains unimpaired. The diversity of the interests to be co-ordinated and harmonised require a Government impartial and capable of long views. The Majority Report of the Hilton Young Commission recorded their emphatic opinion that all matters in which racial interests were or appeared to be divergent should be decided by an arbitral authority. That authority exists in the Secretary of State and the Governor acting under his instructions.I believe that the House at the time, along with His Majesty's Government, entirely accepted the considered findings of that most authoritative Joint Select Committee. That was put on record in the published dispatch which was sent to Kenya. That is the view which the House and His Majesty's Government have accepted, and it stands. I am sure that in all quarters of the Committee the findings of that Committee on this subject meet with complete agreement. I will just mention the question of economy in Kenya. In addition to taxation you 1435 must have drastic economy. It is only fair to the administration in Kenya that I should give the Committee these figures. The expenditure divides itself into irreducible and departmental expenditure. There is the irreducible expenditure, such as pensions, loan charges and so on, which are contractual, and which Government must bear. That leaves only the field of departmental expenditure in which economy operations can be effected. In five years the Government of Kenya has reduced that part of its expenditure by £594,000, or nearly 25 per cent. If those economies are scrutinised, I do not think that that is a bad record of economy to be achieved up-to-date.
I will now say a few words about the Kenya goldfields, in regard to which some criticism was displayed. Four of the areas which were set out in the Kitson Report are being opened for prospecting. Three are being opened for exclusive prospecting, that is, for special licences, covering a large area. The Tanganyika Concessions, Limited, exercised their option in favour of Area No. 1, and the conditions are under discussion. Areas No. 3 and No. 4 have been subdivided into 57 sections, for which applications are being invited from companies, syndicates and individuals. No. 5 has been opened for general prospecting, and Area No. 2 will not be opened before October.
An Ordinance has been passed of a drastic kind ensuring that undesirable persons shall not prospect in these reserves. That Ordinance was welcomed by the mining community in Kenya, whose relations with the natives are quite admirable. The Ordinance sets up a Board which, with the district commissioner sitting as chairman, will act in an independent capacity. Any undesirable person may be brought before the Board, and if the Board decides that he is an undesirable person who ought not to be in the reserve they may, subject to an appeal to the Governor by that person, make an order saying that he has to go out of the reserve and not return to it, and if he returns to it he will incur heavy penalties. I am not sure whether some lawyers might not be a little shocked by the simple nature of a provision such as this, but I think that it shows to every practical person what the 1436 conditions are and how important it is that you should not get the wrong sort of person into a native reserve, and I think that he would agree that that is a pretty sound and practical way of dealing with the position.
No mining lease has yet been granted, and not an acre has been excised from the native reserves. I was asked the other day about the measure of compensation for surface disturbance by prospectors under the Ordinance. I think that for fallow land it is at the rate of £9 13s. 8d. per annum; for cultivated but not planted land it is £9 13s. 8d. per annum, plus an initial payment of £2 8s. 5d. per acre; and for planted land it is an initial payment of £7 5s. 3d. an acre, and then the £9 13s. 8d. goes on. As I ventured to say the other day in answer to a question, I think that compensation on that scale is one which a good many people who own land outside Kenya would not be unwilling to accept.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
It is not a lease at all, but merely compensation for prospecting under the Ordinance.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am speaking from memory when I say that a licence is to operate for a year, when it has to be renewed. I am pretty certain that a prospector has to renew his prospecting licence every year. Every Report which I have seen shows that the relations between the miner and the native are admirable. An inspection has been made of Area No. 5, which is a new area for general prospecting, and the relations have been found to be excellent. Natives welcome the opportunity for development which has come there. A petition was presented. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman the late Under-Secretary did not take any responsibility for what was in the petition, but his was the hand which presented it. It was a petition of some length, and it said in effect that "everything is all wrong." It had 17 signatures. I caused inquiry to be made as to how many of these people were resident in the mining area and closely in contact with mining operations. My hon. Friend will correct 1437 me if he has any information which traverses the best inquiries that my Department has been able to make, but so far as can be ascertained not one of the signatories is resident in the Kakamega goldfields area. If that be so, I do not think that they are very good authorities on what is happening in those goldfields or what are the feelings of the natives there. The majority of them appear to be connected with a certain Archdeacon Owen's mission. The Arch deacon, I may say, seems to have ample time to devote to matters which are only remotely connected with his spiritual charge.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
I understand that the petition came directly from the natives and not through Archdeacon Owen.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am not acquainted with the origin of the petition, but I should like to know from the hon. Member whether it was stimulated by Archdeacon Owen.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Then it is a remarkable coincidence that none of the natives who signed this petition appear to be in the Kakamega Goldfields area, but nearly all appear to be in Archdeacon Owen's area. It may be one of those strange coincidences that do happen in Kenya. There is a recognised channel available if any native has any complaint to make against a non-native, a channel which is recognised and freely used. That channel is through the local Native Council. I have made inquiries from the Governor and I find that no use whatever has been made of this machinery by a single native to allege any complaint in connection with gold mining operations in the Kakamega area. I am bound to say that I pay more attention to the reports of very trusted officials, whose sole desire is to serve the interests of this natives, and the evidence of a man like Sir Albert Kitson, with his great experience and record and his well-known interest in the natives than I do to this petition, which happened to come along so spontaneously.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
Can the right hon. Gentleman say that it is common knowledge that the natives know of that recognised channel?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Of course, it is common knowledge. Every native knows about the Native Council. I think I am safe in saying that I do not suppose there is a native in Kenya who does not know of it and does not hesitate to use it when necessary.
Let me say a few words about Cyprus, and then I will say something about Palestine. I was able, at Easter, to visit Cyprus, Palestine and Iraq, thanks to the Air Force. I cannot be grateful enough to the Air Force for enabling me to carry out a considerable amount of rush work in so short a time. It is invaluable, to get to know the problems on the spot and the men on the spot, and the more that can be done, whether by Ministers or by senior officials, the better. In Cyprus the problems are not the problems of politics. There are very few people in Cyprus who are interested in politics; I mean in general politics. They are interested in agriculture, by which they live. They have internal problems not divorced from the moneylender. They have an export trade which is developing very nicely.
Carobs, which used to go exclusively into cattle food, now make, I am told, the very best face cream which ladies can use. They have a ready market for the produce of their vines, which come to this country to be manufactured into a most delectable drink, which has been raised to a standard in which it pays Wine Duty. The tobacco industry is also developing. Cyprus ought to have another industry more extensive than it is, and that is the tourist industry. I do most sincerely commend Cyprus to anyone who wishes to take a rather long holiday in a very attractive climate at a very cheap rate. It is a lovely place, full of the most extraordinary interests, with lovely scenery of every kind. I found a most admirable hotel there, where one can live for 9s. a day. One word about education. We have taken control of elementary education in Cyprus, which means that in future the Government will control both the appointment of the teachers and what is taught in the schools. That is a very desirable reform.
Turning to Palestine, I should like to pay a tribute, in which anyone who knew him will join, to the late Dr. Arlossoroff. He was a victim of a dastardly crime. A man of wisdom, vision and understanding, he was not only a great servant of 1439 Zionism but a great asset to Palestine as a whole. I have nothing new to say as to the administration of the Mandate. It will be administered with absolue fairness, and its administration is in the hands of a man on the spot, the High Commissioner, in whom everybody, Jew and Arab alike, have complete confidence, and whom they are all coming to regard not only with confidence but with affection. We shall all serve the interests of that country best by trying to co-operate for common interests. A great deal can be done for agriculture. Everybody knows of the tremendous developments in orange growing there, but I am not sure that there may not be a risk of that being a little overdone, because you have to find a market. It would be a great mistake if in Palestine they concentrate exclusively upon oranges. A great deal can be done in improving crops and improving the fodder to enable the people to live more on their land and not off it.
A very excellent work is being done by the High Commissioner, who is his own Minister of Agriculture. They have introduced a new type of barley, which gives infinitely better results than anything they have had before. It is tremendously appreciated there. The first thing that was said to me by the Sheikhs of the desert, down by Beersheba, was their appreciation of the barley seed which the High Commissioner supplied. A great deal of work is being done on experimental farms, and instructional plots have been attached to a large number of schools. You have to see the industrial development to realise how much it is. For instance, the ports of Haifa and Jaffa. At Haifa there is the new harbour, a most successful undertaking, the cost of which has worked out very closely to the estimates, but there is certainly a great deal of trade to be done at the Port of Jaffa as well.
I want to deal with the decision which I have to announce on what are known as the French Reports. His Majesty's Government have now had an opportunity of considering carefully the recommendations which the High Commissioner has made, after reviewing the comments of the Arab Executive and the Jewish Agency, upon the reports of the late Director of Development in Palestine. His Majesty's Government have approved 1440 the recommendations of the High Commissioner, and action will accordingly be taken on the following lines: First there is the problem of the displaced Arabs, and here, I think, the Committee will readily appreciate that there is a very clear distinction between the tenant occupier and the owner—an owner who sells his land freely at his own desire, and a tenant who becomes dispossessed on the sale of land by a landlord, even if he receives compensation. The two are in a different category. The tribunal appointed to investigate the claims of displaced Arabs has nearly completed its work. The tribunal decided to admit as entitled to resettlement Arabs who have been displaced from the lands which they have occupied owing to those lands having passed into Jewish hands, and who have failed to obtain equally satisfactory occupation, subject to the following exceptions: First, persons who have themselves sold their land, that is, owners who, of their own free will have sold their land; persons who own land elsewhere; persons who have found, and are now cultivating as tenants, land other than that from which they were displaced; persons who obtained land after the sale of that from which they were displaced, but have since ceased to cultivate it on account of poverty or other reasons; and persons who were not cultivators at the time of the sale, for example, ploughmen and labourers.
His Majesty's Government concur in the decision of the tribunal, and the Government of Palestine has been authorised to proceed with the resettlement of displaced Arab tenants in accordance with the findings of the tribunal.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Yes. The work is not completed yet. We have got to deal with the problem of the Arabs who have been displaced, and we are all agreed that those who were entitled under that decision of the tribunal to resettlement have got to be resettled, but, quite obviously, having found that that problem exists, we must take steps to 1441 prevent it, recurring. We cannot be in the position of replacing these landless Arabs, whose merits entitle them to resettlement, and not take steps to prevent; the same problem recurring in the future I think that must be obvious. The High Commissioner recommends, therefore, and His Majesty's Government agree, that it is essential to ensure against the recurrence of a similar problem in the future, and the Government have authorised the High Commissioner to amend the Protection of Cultivators Ordinances so as to secure full security for tenants. This will prevent a recurrence of the problem.
I come to the question of land development and the loan. The Committee will remember that the late Government in 1930 announced to the House that it was their intention to guarantee a loan, but to give much more than a formal guarantee, and to provide as a grant-in-aid the interest on that loan for a period of years. On the 17th November, 1930, the Under-Secretary at that time said:His Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion that to achieve the object in view it is necessary to provide for an expenditure not exceeding £2,500,000, a large part of which would be devoted to works of a productive character.He went on to say:In view of the present financial situation in Palestine, the only way in which a sum of this magnitude can be provided is by means of a loan under the guarantee of His Majesty's Government. During the first years of the development scheme it will be necessary to provide from British Votes such annual amounts as may be required to meet the interest and sinking fund charges upon the loan."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1930, col. 95, Vol. 245.]Therefore, His Majesty's Government in consultation with the High Commissioner have had to review the position in the light of financial conditions, both in this country and in Palestine, and His Majesty's Government consider that in present financial circumstances it is impossible for the British Government to make a contribution at the expense of the British Treasury to land development in Palestine such as was envisaged in 1930. The financial position of Palestine is sufficiently satisfactory to enable it to finance its own requirements. The Government of Palestine has already initiated an extensive programme of public works and other measures which have the full approval of His Majesty's Government, and which they are satisfied are of sub- 1442 stantial value, will produce considerable revenue and are necessary in the general interest of the country. It is proposed that these works and the resettlement of displaced Arabs shall be to a large extent financed by means of a loan of £2,000,000, and His Majesty's Government are satisfied that the financial resources of Palestine are adequate to provide for the service of the loan and afford full security for the capital sum required, and that the service of the loan can be met without drawing on the surplus balance, which will remain in the Palestine Exchequer, and which is also very substantial.
It will be within the recollection of the Committee that the Act of 1926, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) introduced, authorised the British Government to guarantee the Palestine Loan of £4,500,000. The object of this guarantee was not to afford a grant-in-aid; in fact, the Act provides that the Treasury must be satisfied that the Territory can and will raise the necessary revenue to meet the interest and sinking fund on the loan. The object was to enable Palestine to borrow at a lower rate of interest. The interest and sinking fund on this loan have, of course, been regularly met. It is proposed that a similar course should be followed on the present occasion, and that the proposed loan, as in the case of the £4,500,000 loan, should receive the formal guarantee of the British Government. Legislation will, in due course, be introduced in Parliament for this purpose. The works which will be financed out of the loan have been carefully discussed with the High Commissioner and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They meet the essential economic interests of the country, and will benefit all sections of the population. The provisional programme includes new water supply and drainage schemes for Jerusalem and Haifa, and a water supply for Hebron; a hydrographic survey and provision for the improvement of village water supplies—a, matter of tremendous importance—a new Post Office and telephone exchange for Jerusalem; provision for the capital cost of school buildings; also provision for the construction of an oil export dock in Haifa Harbour for the use of the Iraq Petroleum Company. Provision will also be included for the participation of the Government if Palestine in a scheme for increasing 1443 facilities for long-term credit for agriculturists, Arab and Jewish, with a special appropriation for loans to Arab cultivators in hill districts. It is proposed also to carry out much needed improvements at the Port of Jaffa by utilising the balance of Palestine's existing £4,500,000 loan. In the meantime, the execution of the programme need not be delayed, as the Palestine Government can finance any expenditure that is required by a temporary resort to surplus balances, which will be reinstated when the loan is issued.
I should add that the High Commissioner has, independently of the reports, given effect to a number of measures for the improvement of the position of agriculturists which meet many of the minor recommendations which are found in the reports. For example, a Registrar of Cooperative Societies has been appointed, whose function it will be to educate the fellahin in the advantages of co-operation, and to organise village co-operative societies. In the bad seasons of recent years, the High Commissioner has sanctioned generous remissions of tithe and has authorised the issues of loans to cultivators for the purchase of seed, plough oxen and other requisites. Energetic measures have been taken to improve the quality of stock and seed, and to promote agricultural instruction by means of gardens attached to village schools and new Government agricultural stations. I must apologise for the length of time I have taken, but there are so many points with which, I am sure, hon. Members would desire me to deal. Whatever views may be taken about particular problems, we can, I am sure, all appreciate the way in which the members of the Services overseas, in difficult circumstances, with reduced staffs and reduced pay, and under many adverse conditions, are carrying on the best traditions of the service.
§ Mr. LEVY
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down may I ask him to say a few words with regard to the Japanese menace that is invading our Colonies and Protectorates. He did mention Trinidad and Jamaica, and I would like him to recognise that they are buying colossal quantities of goods from Japan 1444 whilst Japan buys practically nothing from Jamaica. Although Jamaica and Trinidad are taking very large quantities of Japanese goods—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I called upon the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn), and the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) must not interrupt and make a speech.
§ 12.29 p.m.
§ Mr. LUNN
I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.
We have had a very useful and helpful review from the right hon. Gentleman of the work of his Department. He has given us an excellent account of the trade of the Colonies and has taken us during the course of his speech to many parts of the Empire, from the West Indies to the Mauritius, from the Cameroons to Jamaica, then to Ceylon and back to Nigeria, then to Malay, and he finished with Cyprus and Palestine. He will agree that even in the speech which he has delivered it is quite impossible to deal with the whole of the responsibilities of his Department and the work there is to do in connection with the British Colonial Empire. It is a very vast area, with many colonies, protectorates and mandated territories. They present many varied interests, with tens of millions in population, all differing in their requirements. Many of them have not got self-government, and that makes the position of the right hon. Gentleman a very responsible one and it also entails a responsibility on Members of this House for the welfare of the millions of people who live in the different parts of our Colonial Empire.
There is great need for a consistent Imperial policy, and I am not sure that in some respects the right hon. Gentleman and his Government are to be relied upon in that matter. The millions of inhabitants in our colonies should understand that we take a serious interest in their welfare, in such questions as land and labour, education, health, taxation and government, and it is unfortunate that in recent discussions on the Colonial Estimates East Africa, and Kenya in particular, should have taken such a large share. The hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), since he was last a Member of this House, has spent some years in Kenya. I wonder how long during the 1445 period he was in Kenya as Governor of the Colony he was without some commission or other, either helping him or hindering him. He was never without friends from this country to advise him, and he must have had to do a great deal of entertaining during his period as Governor of Kenya.
I want to deal with the responsibilities of the right hon. Gentleman himself. What he has done with regard to Income Tax in Kenya is unpardonable, and I am going to say what I feel in regard to his attitude on that matter. The Joint Committee of Lords and Commons which considered the question of closer union in East Africa were not satisfied with the finances of Kenya, and anyone who reads Lord Moyne's Report will realise that there is no reason why they should be satisfied. They recommended that there should be an inquiry into their finances. Lord Moyne was appointed to carry out the inquiry. He is well known to many Members of this House. He was a Cabinet Minister in a recent Conservative Government, and is a man who takes meticulous care in carrying out any work he has to do. He went out to Kenya, and published his report. That report was discussed in this House. It was an excellent report; it was accepted by the right hon. Gentleman in every point. What is the use of sending out commissions and missions to various parts of the world, receiving their reports, accepting them, and then turning them down because of the clamour of a number of particular interests? Lord Moyne in his report left no doubt that there should be some form of Income Tax imposed upon those able to pay it in Kenya. He said that it was absolutely necessary, and he never discussed or suggested any alternative. He warned the Government against what had happened in 1921.
When it was suggested at that time that an Income Tax was likely to be imposed, those resident in Kenya, who know their power and seemed to be able to carry out whatever they desired, were able to defeat the Income Tax. He said that the Government should not be so half-hearted, and should see that what is applicable to many Colonies within the Empire, and what was the only means by which the finances of Kenya could be put on a proper basis, should be adopted. He was quite clear upon that matter. He 1446 said that they could pay and that they should pay. But, of course, they were determined that they would not pay, and they have been able to carry out their desire. He was very clear on this point—that the natives were paying as much taxation as should be expected from them. I think many people agree that they pay far too much, and that if they got the benefit of the taxation which they do pay they would have far better conditions than they have. But the taxation is paid for the benefit of other people who refuse to pay what is necessary to keep the Colony going as it should be kept going.
Lord Moyne's report was considered in the Debate on 1st July of last year, and the Secretary of State then left no doubt in our mind that he accepted that report. As a result the Governor of Kenya announced in September last that the financial position of the Colony made it necessary to impose an income tax, as recommended by the Moyne Report. But those in the Colony started on the warpath; they were determined that they would not pay. They were out to oppose any measures of taxation with determination, and they succeeded. I was astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman say—
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. We do not want any misrepresentation or misunderstanding as to the facts. Of course if taxation had to be raised to balance the Budget there was never any question that taxation would have to go forward, and that if income tax was the only way, income tax was to be imposed. It was when an alternative form of taxation was proposed that I accepted the alternative.
§ Mr. LUNN
But the right hon. Gentleman knows that Lord Moyne was sent out there because taxation as it was imposed did not provide the necessary money. The right hon. Gentleman admitted in an answer on 14th June that the taxation was not likely to raise the necessary money, and he showed that it will not raise what is necessary. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at his answer he will see that he quoted the figures showing that it will not raise the same amount as it is estimated would be raised by the recommendation of Lord 1447 Moyne for income tax. I was astonished to hear that Lord Moyne had agreed, or had authorised the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was taking the right line. I have no business in this House or anywhere else to discuss private conversations, but I know Lord Moyne, and I have seen him more than once since that date of July 1st of last year, and I am astonished to hear that he authorised a statement like that. After all we had his report, the Empire has his report.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Now I have been challenged as to whether I have correctly represented Lord Moyne. Does the hon. Gentleman say that I am wrong when I state that Lord Moyne was consulted, and that Lord Moyne authorised me to say that he is in entire agreement with what I am doing? That is a statement of fact made on Lord Moyne's authority to this House, and it ought to be accepted as such.
§ Mr. LUNN
The right hon. Gentleman has no need to get up with his superior, supercilious attitude to dictate to me. This is a House of equals. Moreover, I object because I have not said any such thing. What I have said is that I am astonished at what the right hon Gentleman stated regarding Lord Moyne's opinion as to alternative taxation. That is all I have said regarding it this morning. After all, I have to be guided by the reports of people who are sent out on commissions of this sort. Like the right hon. Gentleman, I welcomed the report that was dealt with in this House on 1st July of last year. I imagined that the Government would be consistent and would carry out the policy that they declared to the House, and that they would not change their opinion, and be influenced, as they are, by rich men who happen to be able to dominate them and have dominated Governments before. Yet we find that the right hon. Gentleman lets down the Government, lets down all his agents, and that the Governor has to announce that he has received instructions from the Secretary of State which are new, and which provide for this alternative system of taxation, though there is no guarantee that it will raise the money required. The right hon. Gentleman has surrendered weakly to the obstruction. No one can be satisfied with his action, 1448 and no one can admire his action in dealing with this question of income tax in Kenya. I wonder what the millions of Africans feel regarding his nervous compliance with the resistance in Kenya. I will quote from a paper called "East Africa," which circulates in Kenya. In an issue dated 22nd June that journal gives its opinion regarding this change of front, this somersault that the right hon. Gentleman has turned. It says:For two years the Government of Kenya has brusquely rejected all unofficial proposals for the adjustment of the country's finances to the circumstances of the worldwide depression. … The Secretary of State first blurted out what the public was entitled to regard as his Considered opinion, then stopped to think of the unwisdom of his words, took prompt alarm at the outcry caused by the ineptitude he had inspired or countenanced, and then moved his position again and again with varying degress of promptitude. … He threw over the Governor, who has had an extremely difficult and unpleasant part to play, and who, whatever his own shortcomings, may justifiably feel aggrieved. No wonder he was permitted to sail from Kenya on sick leave four days before the public was to be told that the Secretary of State, having stiffened his resistance throughout, had decided to withdraw all support from his agents. In such circumstances many a Governor would resign; indeed, in a Cabinet less preoccupied by international and Indian affairs a Colonial Secretary who committed so many blunders in so short a period might feel it necessary to make way for someone more discreet, more gifted with vision, more capable of grasping the real situation and then of formulating a policy—and carrying it through. A Government should he able to govern.I agree with that idea. A Government, if it is to be relied upon, should govern. I do not mean to say more on this matter than is said by "East Africa," which I accept. If commissions are sent out and they report, if their reports are accepted, if steps are taken to put what is in a report into operation, I do not think that any Government is justified in giving way to clamour in the way that the right hon. Gentleman has done on this question of income tax. How different when the right hon. Gentleman comes to deal with the natives. Anyone listening to him this morning could see a difference in his manner of dealing with the income tax question and his manner of dealing with the question of the gold mining area.
In 1930 the Labour Government, through Lord Passfield, gave the natives a charter which was very welcome to them and the paramountcy of native interests 1449 then became a reality. No one can deny. that. The area of the reserves in which the natives live was to be irreducible and if for certain purposes—but not for mining—it was necessary to expropriate any of the land, it was provided that an equivalent area of equal value must be added to the reserves. That was the condition laid down and no action was to be taken in these matters until the natives had been consulted. They have not been consulted and action has been taken. In December last a Bill amending the Native Lands Ordinance was passed. It expunged all the conditions made in he interests of the natives. No wonder I comment on the difference between the right hon. Gentleman's attitude towards the rich on income tax and his attitude towards the natives in this matter.
A minefield was opened in the Kakamega district and there was a gold rush. Afterwards there was a rush to the Kavirondo which was thrown open to indiscriminate prospectors although there is a dense population in that area. But Africans were not allowed to prospect for gold—oh no. A permit costs 20s. and anyone who obtains such a permit must know English, and know it sufficiently well to understand the mining ordinance thoroughly. I believe that a condition is laid down under which obstruction of a miner renders one liable to a penalty of £300 or three years imprisonment. These claims are for 12 months and are then renewable. They may go into perpetuity and they provide facilities under which those who hold them may dig trenches, sink shafts, build houses and live in them, dam and divert streams, sluice surface soil away and completely invade the rights of the Africans. I believe that an alluvial claim may be 10,000 sq. feet and a reef claim may be 12,000 sq. yards, and that over 14,000 claims have been registered. There are no regulations of value to the natives and there must have been considerable interference with native husbandry.
A petition was presented some time ago to the Secretary of State. He has repudiated that petition, or he has said that the petition did not come from the residents in the area. I cannot prove that it has, but I heard of the petitions that have been presented and I wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman would say anything in regard to it or indicate what he intended to do. 1450 I understand that there was also a complaint to the Morris Carter Commission when they visited the area. After all, the right hon. Gentleman should not take up such an attitude as he has taken with regard to native petitions and requests in these matters. He ought to give more attention to them, and he ought not to treat them as callously as it apppears to us he is doing, when he is dealing with that side of the question. We are not satisfied with his attitude with regard to gold mining in Kenya.
If mining is to be carried on, it should be under strict regulations. Licences ought not to be given out indiscriminately and the interests of the native population ought to be safeguarded. Today we believe that it is not so, and we shall feel justified in continually exposing the actions of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter until we secure for the natives what we believe to be their rights in their own country. The other day my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) put a question to the right hon. Gentleman about a change in the constitution of Kenya, and as there appears to have been some doubt on the part of both my hon. Friend and of the right hon. Gentleman, I think it would be as well if to-day we had the matter cleared up, and if we were told whether or not there is to be any change in the constitution of Kenya and whether there is anything in the point which was put by the hon. Member for Don Valley.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I can answer that question now. I said that His Majesty's Government had endorsed the report of the Joint Select Committee and that is the policy which stands.
§ Mr. LUNN
I readily welcome that declaration from the right hon. Gentleman. I hope he will be more consistent in this matter than he has been in the past, and that he will be able to declare that that is still the policy 12 months hence when we come to debate these Estimates again—though I have my doubts as to whether he can continue for so long. This is a serious point. During a Budget debate in the legislature in Kenya the statement was made that the white settlers were anxious and determined that they should control the finances of Kenya. That statement was 1451 made by the acting leader of a party in that Colony. I do not see any reason why he should not make such a statement after the white settlers' experience with the right hon. Gentleman on the question of income tax. I think he was justified in saying that they were determined that that change should come about. He went even further and said that Lord Francis Scott had been actively engaged in intimate conversations with the Secretary of State and permanent officials at the Colonial Office in connection with that matter. It is due to the House and to the Empire to know definitely whether there have been such conversations and whether guarantees have been given that the constitution is to be changed in that way.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I wish the hon. Gentleman would not continue to repeat things which I have denied, on questions of fact. I said in my speech and I have since repeated it, that the Government stand by the findings of the Select Committee. I have now said so three times and I hope the hon. Gentleman will accept my statement.
§ Mr. LUNN
I said I accepted that particular position, but this is something which has happened even since the income tax correction was made. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is his place to interview people who come from different Colonies and who know the circumstances in those Colonies. That is one way of improving his education in Colonial matters and enabling him to make the best use of his office. I am not objecting to that for one moment. The point is that when those people go back to those Colonies and make declarations of this description, it is necessary that we in this House should know the facts of the situation and should know whether those statements are justified or not. There is one thing which I do welcome from the right hors. Gentleman and that is the statement that a board has been set up to deal with the prospective prospectors in the future, and that there is going to be more care in the future under the administration of this board than there has been in the past. I would ask him also when he deals with the compensation—which he says is not the kind of compensation that landowners in this country would 1452 welcome—to answer this question, do the natives get it? I would like an assurance that the natives get the compensation, though it is not satisfactory that compensation should be paid, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, and it is not in accordance with the charter given to the natives, but the point is, Do they get it? I think we ought to be assured that it is paid and that it goes to those who are entitled to it.
Then there is the question of labour and social conditions in the Colonies. Here is a subject on which much can be said, and there is room for a great deal of improvement in this direction. I have just read a book called "The African Labourer"—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has seen it—by Major Orde Browne, a man who was the Chief Labour Commissioner in Tanganyika, a man quite capable to write on the subject, a man who knows the circumstances of the African labourer as well as any man in the Colonial Service. In this book he deals with wage-earning, forced labour, recruiting, contracts, workmen and the law, women and child workers, and almost every aspect of labour, in a careful and most restrained manner. Knowing Major Orde Browne, I should like him to have given a little more of his personal experience, and I am sure his personal opinions would have been a little stronger than are the statements appearing in his hook, but one has only to read it to see that, while much has been done, there is a great deal more to do.
The other day I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the increase or decrease in staff in Kenya, Nigeria, and Malaya, and he started his speech this morning with a reference to the economies carried out during the last year. I think it is alarming that there has been such a reduction in the staffs in many of the Colonies as there has been. There has been a reduction, as compared with a year ago, of no fewer than 142 in the administrative, medical, agricultural, and public works departments in Kenya, of 258 in Nigeria, and of 80 in Malaya. The staffs were not adequate beforehand, and they must be worse now. If I may refer again to Lord Moyne's report, there is a statement by him that there are large areas of Kenya where there had been these economies and where large numbers of the population were left without a 1453 single medical officer. If we are to have regard to the health of the millions of people there, instead of decreasing medical staffs, we ought to increase them, and if we are going to remove much of the labour of a menial kind that is carried on in the Colonies, we should not be reducing the agricultural and public works staffs in the way that we are doing to-day.
There are many other questions that could be debated on the Colonial Office Vote, and there are many hon. Members, I know, who wish to speak. This is only a short day, and I am satisfied that it does not give adequate time to discuss what ought to be discussed on such a day. There are such matters as the new constitution in Ceylon, which I welcome very much as a very good constitution, but I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that the frequent use of his reserve powers by the Governor is a matter that he might well look into. There are labour and trade union conditions and immigration into Palestine, there is the report of Sir Samuel Wilson on conditions in Malaya, there is the administration or maladministration of justice in some of the Colonies, and there are many other questions which hon. Members interested in particular Colonies will desire to raise.
In conclusion, there are many points in the administration of the right hon. Gentleman with which we can agree, but there are many more with which we disagree, and this is the day on which we should call attention to them in the hope that he will consider our representations on the points on which we disagree and on which we happen to criticise him. I lock forward to the day when my party will be in power in this country, when it will form the Government, and while I realise that the questions that appeal to the people at home are unemployment, poverty, employment, wages, and conditions of all descriptions, those matters that are at their very doorstep, I realise also that the British Empire is a great and vast area, covering many millions of people, for which this House has a great responsibility. I hope my party, when it comes into power, will have a policy which will be applied with fairness and consideration, without fear or favour, to all the interests in the whole of the Colonial Empire.
§ 1.2 p.m.
§ Mr. AMERY
I should like to begin by associating myself with the tribute which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has paid to the work of the Colonial Services through a very difficult year. I think very few in this country realise how terribly the fall in price levels and the world depression have hit the Colonial Empire in particular. That Empire depends more than any part of the world, perhaps, on the raising and selling of those primary products which come on to the world markets, which have relatively no home market of their own, and which have suffered most from the fall in prices. Moreover, that fall is immensely accentuated when it is transferred to the population of the colony itself. In the cost of these articles on the world markets, transport, and more particularly internal transport, plays a great part, and Lord Moyne, in his admirable report, showed again and again how under present price conditions the native in the interior can get practically nothing for the goods which he produces, and that either a complete revolution in transport conditions or a rise in price levels is essential before that native can really be restored to anything resembling normal prosperity.
Again, it has been an inevitable consequence of the type of our Government that we have developed these territories through loan money, secured at a cheap rate of interest undoubtedly, but involving a terribly increased burden when money itself has changed in value. Looking at these territories from the point of view of administration and from the point of view of their purchasing power, you have to consider not merely the reduction, the proportionate fall in world prices, but the much greater reduction in what is left after these heavy fixed charges are taken off. In a Colony like Kenya, when you deduct fixed charges, it is astonishing how little remains for carrying on the government of the country, and indeed, how little re mains to the population of the country to purchase commodities. I would urge that the restoration of the price level is the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon the Colonial Empire at this moment. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend is all the time in close touch with the Chancellor of the Exchequer urging 1455 him to carry into effect promptly the avowed policy of raising price levels to which he is committed.
§ Mr. AMERY
I do not think this is an economic debate. I would only add that whatever measures are taken will be facilitated by the fact that the Colonial Empire is on the sterling price level, and therefore a rise in sterling prices, irrespective of its effect on the outside world, would be an immense help to the Colonial Empire. I would also add in this connexion an expression of my sincere hope that the anouncement made by the President of the Board of Trade this morning in regard to our unwillingness to take part in development loans for raising price levels in other parts of the world, is not meant to apply to the Colonial Empire, and that the policy of using British capital for development there and also incidentally for promoting a rise in the sterling price level, will, on the contrary, be vigorously promoted.
Meanwhile, of course, it is necessary that there should be economy. I am glad to think that in pursuit of that economy my right hon. Friend has found a solution of the Kenya taxation difficulty which, as far as I can see, secures the essential aim of Lord Moyne's Report in a form which is considered—
§ Mr. AMERY
—but as far as I can see, the changes introduced do not affect the essential character of Lord Moyne's proposals, and if in some modified character they are more easily administered in Kenya and more acceptable to the Kenya community, the change is worthy of the trial. I would, however, associate myself with my hon. Friend opposite in the sincere expression of a hope that these necessary economies should not lead to too drastic a reduction in the services, especially in the new and creative services. There is undoubtedly a tendency in any Government when retrenchment is to be carried 1456 out to retrench in the new services, which old established officials are apt to regard as rather fancy services, and to cut them down rather than to preserve them and to cut down the larger and more expensive standing services. In this connection, I would like to make an appeal on behalf of the health services in the Colonies. I have heard from one or two sources information of the extent to which reduction has taken place in some of the health services, especially in those that deal with the terrible scourge of venereal disease which are still so little developed. I know that my right hon. Friend will watch that point. I do not think I need delay the Committee by indulging in details. All I would urge is that the new services that deal with health and research should be the last to suffer at this time when they mean so much to future development, and that if economy is to be carried out it should rather be on the larger standing services.
What I have said about the new services in particular Colonies also applies very much to a general service, which, though not found out of Colonial Office funds, has been particularly dedicated to Colonial development. I refer to the series of new services included in the work of the Empire Marketing Board. This is not the occasion to discuss the constitution or the future of the Empire Marketing Board itself, but I want to say a word or two about what it has done for the Colonial Empire. My experience, and I am sure that of the hon. Member, opposite, is that to a very large extent the work of that Board has been devoted to the promotion and encouragement of research in the Colonial Empire. The admirable work, essential to the whole development of the Colonial Empire, which has been carried out at the Trinidad Agricultural College and at Amani, could not have gone on but for this help. My right hon. Friend has paid a well-deserved tribute, not only to the excellent work done at Princes Risborough, but to the complementary work done by the Empire Marketing Board in bringing the scientific results into contact with the needs of the industries of this country.
I believe that the Empire Marketing Board has, in these matters, introduced not only useful activity on existing lines, but a wholly new technique of develop- 1457 went, a technique inspired by the enthusiasm of a small band of devoted workers including not a few who have shown something like real genius in bringing science to industry and practical needs, in interesting the public by film and poster, in personal visits to big industries and municipal authorities, and the encouragement of visits by scientists from one part of the Empire to the other—an enormous amount of fruitful, creative work that has never been done before. It is true that it was initiated as a substitute for certain preferences which at that time we were not in a position to give, but which we have given since. Taking a purely technical and narrow point of view, we may say vis-à-vis the Dominions, that our task is discharged, and that we cannot carry on any further unless they join in; but taking a broader view, the alternative taken reluctantly by myself as the second best has proved an opportunity of creating something entirely novel and immensely valuable, not only to the Dominions but to this country, and valuable even more, I believe, to the Colonial Empire. I hope that my right hon. Friend, while these matters are in the Cabinet, will use all his great influence to secure, from the point of view of the Colonial Empire at any rate, that the Empire Marketing Board in all its essential features is maintained. I believe that no expenditure to which this country can commit itself would bear richer fruit in the development of our trade with the Colonial Empire than expenditure on these lines. T hope that the right hon. Gentleman's support will be given ungrudgingly, and that we may have his assurance in that direction.
The only other word I would add is this. I think the experience of the World Economic Conference shows that, with the best of good will, most of these great economic problems cannot be solved internationally if, by the word international we mean on lines in which the whole world takes part and acts simultaneously, or at any rate on identical lines. Undoubtedly one cannot deal with those problems with each country acting for itself. We must deal internationally in that sense. I believe that in the case of most of these problems our greatest need is to deal with those groups of nations with which we can deal most 1458 effectively for the purpose—for the purposes of currency for instance with the Empire and a good many countries outside; and in the case of trade treaties, if we get rid of the most-favoured-nation Clause, I believe there are several countries with which we can make most fruitful arrangements. For the purpose of trade and tariffs in the narrow sense we have already taken a great step forward at Ottawa.
Here I would like to take the first public opportunity of heartily congratulating my right hon. Friend on the energy and persuasiveness which he threw into the task of inducing the Dominions to look upon preferences to the Colonies as no less essential as part of Empire preference, than preferences given to this country. He has secured for the Colonial Empire some very valuable concessions, the full fruit of which will only be seen when the general economic situation improves. Ottawa was an instance of joining together to consider how to improve the family estate. There is another task, no less hopeful and more directly under our own control, and that is the task of cultivating our own garden in the Colonial Empire. I trust that whatever may be the disappointment about the general economic situation created by the failure—it has in large measure been a failure—of the World Economic Conference will only encourage us to throw ourselves all the more vigorously and enthusiastically into this particular task, to which the Colonial Secretary is giving his ability and his energy.
§ 1.18 p.m.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I would like to associate myself most whole-heartedly with the remarks of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) as regards the Empire Marketing Board and also what he calls "cultivating our own garden". I had intended to-day, to deal at some little length with that particular subject, but having regard to the hour and the number of people who wish to speak I will set a good example to following speakers by putting it off for another occasion. I would like to say, however, with regard to the Empire Marketing Board, which is in jeopardy at the present time, that if it were to be lost, that would be a terrible loss to our Colonial Empire, and I hope the Secretary of State will use all his in- 1459 fluence to preserve what is useful in that Board for our Colonial Empire. He alluded in his speech to the great efforts the various Colonies are making in research. I think that indicates that they ought to be willing to assist the work of the Empire Marketing Board, and prevent it being relegated to the past, or being so cut down that it will lose its great value both to them and to us.
It is almost inevitable that Kenya should take rather a prominent place in any debate on the Colonial Office Vote. The reason is fairly obvious, because the problems in Kenya are extremely difficult ones. They are pressing themselves not only upon the Colonial Office and the local administration, but upon Members of this House, and they are also world problems which are pressing themselves upon the notice of people outside. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the improved condition of the finances of that Colony and spoke of the great economies made. As two previous speakers have asked, I would like to have some assurance that there has not been too great a cutting down of staff both in that Colony and in other Colonies where retrenchment has had to be carried out in the past year or two. Also, we ought to have, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has, special regard for those unfortunate members of the Service who have been retrenched. There is a great and growing army, I am afraid, of those who have been called "retrenchees," people who have lost their job and their prospects, probably in the prime of life, and have very little hope of being reemployed unless conditions improve in the Colonial Service. I am sure I shall be pushing at an open door when I ask the right hon. Gentleman to see that as soon as ever conditions improve, or show a likelihood of improving, any of those people who have been retrenched and are suitable for re-employment should have the first opportunity of being re-engaged.
Next I would say a word or two about the vexed question of Income Tax in Kenya. This Income Tax question has had a past history. We know that efforts made by a previous Secretary of State to introduce Income Tax against the wishes of the settlers there, failed, and when the right hon. Gentleman, after seeing Lord Moyne's report, and consulting 1460 with him, came to the very proper conclusion that it was necessary that taxation in that Colony should be readjusted, he was facing a very difficult subject indeed. Nothing can be more difficult than to adjust taxation fairly in a Colony with such mixed peoples—with native Africans, Asiatic traders, white settlers who wish to employ the whole or the greater part of their capital in development, and with banks doing a considerable trade. To introduce a system of taxation there that will be fair to every interest is an extremely difficult problem. The right hon. Gentleman came to the conclusion that the introduction of a system of Income Tax was undoubtedly the right line to follow. I think he was rather optimistic in hoping that his suggestions might be adopted without very much objection in the Colony. The objections raised in the Colony grew in volume as time went on and at last they took such a formidable shape that he determined to ask for alternative proposals and eventually withdrew his own line of policy.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I did not ask for alternative proposals. Alternative proposals were made quite spontaneously.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
It was my mistake. Alternative proposals were made which he accepted, withdrawing his original line of policy. My only real criticism there is that perhaps it would have been desirable to ask previously for an alternative policy to be offered to him. I think that had there been previous consultation on those lines there might have been less friction, and a less sense at the end of retreat, perhaps, on one side, and victory on the other. The policy adopted is, of course, in the line of direct taxation. I believe it is called a progressive poll tax. Although it is in the line of direct taxation one might call it direct taxation suitable to backward countries I should not regard this system of taxation as being a final one. When experience has been gained in the working of it, I have very little doubt that it will give opportunities for development, so that eventually we shall have a proper system of direct taxation applicable to that colony and suitable to the conditions that exist there. We have to realise that the conditions in that colony are very different from the conditions in an old and established country like our own, and it is not easy to apply a system to 1461 which we are all accustomed suddenly to the conditions that are to be found there. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will not consider that this is the goal and limit of direct taxation, but that it is only a post on the way, and that he will proceed further in that direction. I can assure him that he will receive support not only from these Benches, but from the whole of the House of Commons, in any effort to adjust taxation fairly between the different interests in that colony.
I should like to refer to the question of the goldfields. There are exceptional difficulties surrounding the opening up of goldfields in a densely-populated native zone. Some people are of the opinion that it would have been wiser if the exploration and search for gold had not been thrown open in certain areas to the general prospectors, but there the hon. Gentleman followed the advice of his advisory committee in the matter, and the consequence was a large influx of prospectors into the area which was opened. I noticed in the "Times" newspaper yesterday an article headed, "Order in the Goldfields." I expect that the right hon. Gentleman saw it. In the course of that article, these words are used:A recent tour in tropical Africa leaves a strong impression that the significance of Rand experience as a guide is very generally missed. Only this year in Kenya, I venture to say, we have again failed to apply past lessons. Yielding to the normal 'settler' demand, that 'the small man be given his chance,' we have allowed the new field at Kakamega to reproduce conditions familiar on the South Africa 'river diggings,' where similar clamour has forced the Union Government to proclaim land, very literally for 'digging'.If I understand the right hon. Gentleman aright to-day, those conditions are to be confined to that area only, and that in other areas which are to be thrown open the prospecting is to be entrusted to very much larger units than has been the case in the Kakamega area.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The point is, as my hon. Friend knows, that it is very desirable that small-scale prospecting should be definitely limited to two areas. Three areas will be exclusively reserved for large-scale prospecting.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
That is what I understand the right hon. Gentleman to be doing. I want to stress that ob- 1462 viously it is very much easier for the administration to deal with large groups who are working in a native reserve than it is with a large crowd of prospectors. I am bound to say that I do not suppose that there has ever been a goldfield opened up anywhere in the world where there has been less conflict. That is a very remarkable result, and I think a tribute should be paid not only to the administration for having tackled the difficulties that faced them, but to the gold prospectors themselves. Most of them were farmers out of a job who thought that they would get more work on the goldfields than on their farms. They had the advantage of knowing the native customs, and consequently they got on pretty well with the natives. That does not, of course, touch the main question, which has been raised previously, as regards the compensation in land when mining leases are eventually granted, and in connection with which I presented a petition. The right hon. Gentleman has thought fit to attack me because I presented that petition.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
No, I did not attack the hon. Gentleman, but I did say a few rather candid things about the petition.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman does not call it an attack. I do not call it a very friendly advance. I think that the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly justified in closely examining that petition, but, on the other hand, I should like to point out that I am a Member of Parliament and that those people are British subjects, and that when a British subject asks a Member of Parliament to present a temperately-worded and reasonable petition no one would, I think, quarrel with that Member of Parliament for presenting the petition, when he has satisfied himself, as I did, that it was genuine. One has only to look at the wording of the petition to see that it was written by someone not very well acquainted with English. The main gravamen of the charge made by the right hon. Gentleman against me was that these natives happened to live in a certain neighbourhood. May I remind the House of the contents of the petition? I summarised them at the time of presenting it, and the petition does not, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, say that everything in Kenya 1463 is bad and wrong. The petitioners state that, the Native Land Trust Ordinance, which was intended to secure their land for ever,having been amended without the consent of the native authority, they have grave cause for anxiety as to the future, as money cannot compensate them fully for lands taken. … The petitioners therefore pray that pledges given in respect of their land may be safeguarded and that this Honourable House will preserve an open mind and show abounding sympathy in the consideration of their case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th May, 1933; col. 1337, Vol. 277.]It was merely that those particular natives were expressing apprehension, and such apprehensions are fairly general to a large number of natives in Africa, and have been expressed in this House. I definitely do not wish to say anything more on the subject, because we must wait for the presentation of the Morris Carter Report. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when we might expect to have the Morris Carter Report. I hope that as soon as it is received in this country, which I believe may be shortly, it may be presented, or that opportunity may be given to Members of Parliament to get hold of it and study it before Parliament reassembles in the Autumn. There are many other matters of very great interest to which I shall not refer, relating to our Colonial Empire. I will leave other hon. Members to raise points in which they are particularly interested.
§ 1.35 p.m.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I gather that we are likely to have in the near, if not in the immediate, future, the Report of the Morris Carter Commission, and I hope that it will arrive in time to give the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) and all other Members an opportunity of digesting it during the holidays. The question with which I am mainly concerned is that of Northern Rhodesia, and I was rather surprised this morning at the easy way in which the Minister passed away from that great Protectorate. The only thing that he said about it was with regard to the new capital which is being built at Lusaka, and the generosity of the Beit Trust. We all agree that their generosity has been great, and I agree with the Minister that the building was very necessary. I have had the opportunity of see- 1464 ing the buildings in which our servants in that Protectorate have had to work, and the Minister was quite right when he mentioned that they had had to be propped up from time to time. They were certainly insanitary and unfit for the purposes of real work, and, accordingly, I was very pleased to hear that a new capital had been decided upon. Some time ago I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman as to the probable cost of building the new capital. I did not, of course, get any satisfactory reply; probably the figure was not known at the time.
I was rather surprised that the Minister made no reference morning to the question of education, native and European, or to medical research, the condition of agriculture, land allocation, native reserves, and other native problems. These are questions which in the future will demand the attention of the House, as they have done in the past in the case of Kenya. I believe that on questions connected with the development of Northern Rhodesia we shall have many fruitful Debates in this House. It seemed to me in 1930 that education was progressing very nicely, the native and European sections being run in separate departments, but I am afraid we have not heard quite as much about educational efforts in Northern Rhodesia as we ought to have heard. It is a serious grievance that technical education is withheld from the natives. I am not going to say that a large number of natives are really ready for it, but we ought to lead them through the avenues of education which are now open to them until they are fitted to take advantage of higher education, so that they may have the opportunity and possibility of taking part in the government of their own country. Of course, the natives pay for the education, as they pay for most things, through their taxes, and I think the right hon. Gentleman might give further consideration to this point, with a view to seeing that the natives are given full educational opportunities and every support and encouragement which can be given by his Department.
There is another question to which I should like to refer, although we cannot discuss it now, because it partly concerns the Dominions Office, and partly the Colonial Office. That is the question of the amalgamation of the two Rhodesias. 1465 When I was there in 1930, this question was anathema in Northern Rhodesia; the people would not speak about it at all; but I understand that some influence has been brought to bear upon them by Southern Rhodesia, and, from what I saw in the Press recently, the matter seems to have gone ahead and amalgamation seems to be on the eve of completion.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
I was going to ask the right hon. Gentleman how far it had progressed, because the point that I wanted to lay before the House was that, if amalgamation does take place, one effect will be to place the vast population of Northern Rhodesia—something like 1,250,000—under the government of a small minority of whites numbering something like 70,000. What I saw in the Press rather led me to think that something might be happening in that direction, and from the silence of the administration in the North, and of the minor corporations, the missionary societies, and the native population, there appeared to be almost unanimity in favour of amalgamation. I thought, therefore, that the House was entitled to know exactly how the matter stood. I am pleased to hear that it has not yet taken that sort of turn.
I should like to recall to the House the Report of the North Charterland Inquiry, which, in my opinion, disclosed a rather serious state of affairs. The natives placed themselves under British protection by treaty in 1893, and the Colonial representative, Mr. H. H. Johnston, certified that the tribal authorities were the sole rightful owners of the land; but to a very large extent the natives' possession of the land has simply passed away from them. If I am wrong, I shall be very pleased to hear it, but, at the same time, we cannot get away from the fact that the native population have not now the amount of reserves of land which they formerly had, and measures are urgently needed in order to make the rights of the natives in this matter secure, and to investigate the decline of native reserves. The natives, after all, are entitled to the land, which has been passed down to them from generation to generation, and which is necessary to them for their support, but large numbers are being driven 1466 in other directions, and there are not sufficient opportunities for them on the land which is reserved. In my opinion, no further allocation of land to Europeans should take place until ample provision has been made for the natives. They cannot offer themselves on the labour market, and, even if they could, there is no labour market for them in Northern Rhodesia. Consequently, they ought to be given greater protection than they have hitherto had.
When the terms of the transfer of the administration from the British South Africa Company to the North Charterland Company were being discussed in this House in July, 1923, the Labour party raised the question of the land in Northern Rhodesia, and we were informed by the right hon. Gentleman who is now First Commissioner of Works that the land in North-East Rhodesia was regarded as native land. If that was so in 1923, how has it come to pass away from the natives to the European population? I am not saying that there is no room for a European population in that country. There is plenty of room. It is a colony where, I believe, Europeans can live quite well, and I look forward to extensive development there, if not in the near future, at least before long, because the opportunities are great, and our people ought to take full advantage of them. At the same time, however, they ought not to take advantage of the natives by taking the land from them. We now learn that in the North Charterland district of some 10,000 square miles, the natives, by obscure and suspicious transactions of one kind and another between 1895 and 1906—transactions which, although they may perhaps have been known to the headmen or chiefs, were not known to the people themselves—were deprived of nearly two-thirds of their land without compensation. That is a very serious state of affairs, and I think the Minister will agree with me that, when the natives have been deprived of two-thirds of their possessions and their opportunities of life, they ought at least to receive some compensation.
I want to look down on the African position. Ultimate rights in the land were vested in their community. The individual enjoyed fixity of tenure and the benefit of his improvements, subject to the performance of his social and political obligations. He could not per- 1467 manently alienate the land that he occupied, which reverted to the community at his death. He might be expelled from his holding by the heads of the community for grave misdemeanour. The buying and selling of land was not recognised under native law. Unoccupied land was allotted by the heads of the community as the needs expanded with in crease of population. That is a fair statement of the position of the natives before exploitation commenced. Now we have to look at it from another point of view.
There are two land policies in conflict in regard to economic development not only in Northern Rhodesia but in practically every other part of the African States. The first, which is based upon the original land system, may be called the African policy, and the second, which is based upon the European capitalist exploitation or ownership of the land, may be called the European policy. The European policy is always defended on the ground that the native community, if left in undisturbed enjoyment of their land, cannot make a beneficial use of it. I do not agree with that. I think they can make a beneficial use of it if they are educated in the production of crops, and the marketing of crops when they are produced. It is said that the natives are too uncivilised, indolent and unenterprising to develop the economic riches of their country and that they cannot be allowed to stand in the way of Europeans developing those riches for the good of the world and, of course, incidentally of Europeans. This argument is accepted by most people as true, but the facts and figures with regard to production and exports in British West Africa would probably cause some to alter their opinion.
I should like to ask the Minister whether it is not desirable that assurances should be obtained that the trust of the natives should not be any further abused. He cannot be in direct contact will all that is taking place in the Colonies. That would be a super-human task. At the same time, where exploitation is taking place we, as a nation, through the Colonial Secretary, really ought to have something to say as to how far this thing is going to be tolerated and when it is going to be put a stop to. 1468 They ought to be treated as the owners of the land in Northern Rhodesia. The adult natives are called upon to pay their taxes, but where are they to get the money from They do not produce for export, and, consequently, they earn no money wages. In order to get money, they have to go outside their reserves and hire themselves out to other employers. In this area outside employers are very scarce. There is only the Charterland Company and their few tenants. Wages, as a result, are very low. Some earn sufficient to pay their taxes within a measurable distance of their homes, but a larger number are driven completely away, to the mines and other kinds of work. I wonder whether the Minister could agree to give further consideration to this area, because what is being done now is quite contrary to the principles laid down in Lord Passfield's White Paper. Could he not consider whether these natives, who have no chance of earning coin, should not be exempt from the poll-tax. The only thing they can do is to go and earn it perhaps 400 or 500 miles away. It leads to the breaking up of family life and they may not return to the reserve. It is much better for them to stay on the reserve than to be travelling all over the country without any responsibility.
I should like the Minister to tell us what amount of taxes are obtained from the North charterland area and also what proportion of it is spent in education and medical research for the natives. These services are more necessary in that part of Africa than any other. I have visited some of the hospitals there. Some are very nice, particularly those in the new area, and nice villages are being built, quite modern and up to date. I also visited other hospitals which were a disgrace to the country and not fit for the work they had to do. I wonder whether the Minister would take up these two things with a view to trying to improve matters for those who have to live there. The new copper area looks like being a very prosperous piece of business sooner or later. They have spent a large amount of money in the building of model villages quite equal to the best that we have in this country, and the schools and hospitals and that kind of thing are quite modern and up to date. But I read in the Press about a month ago that a great 1469 amount of suffering existed in the copper mine area and that unemployment is causing great anxiety to those in authority. I do not know whether it is true or not but I should like to ask, if it is so, what steps are being taken to relieve that very serious position?
My hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Lunn) mentioned the reduction of staffs in various colonies. The reduction of any staff in connection with education, medicine, sanitation, agriculture or anything of that kind is taking from the natives something that they ought to have rather developed than retarded. I was struck by the aptitude of the natives of Northern Rhodesia for education. They are a long way behind but, if we never tackle the question seriously, we shall never have the improvement that we ought to have. Natives came and stated their case before the Joint Committee in the clearest possible way, and I am sure there are large numbers of the African population who, with ordinary elementary education, could be made forces for good in the development of their nation.
The reduction of staff will retard development in nearly every direction. Should not education be proceeded with more rapidly and greater help given through the Colonial Office to the development of education in Northern Rhodesia? I believe that they are educating their people on right lines so that they may be able to take their part in the government of the country. The best education possible should be given to these people. If they are called upon to pay for their education they ought to be given that for which they pay. Capital developments ought to be undertaken by the State. Private enterprise should not be allowed to do too much in the way of capital development. In a new Colony such as that there is an opportunity for the State to build on the lines of self-ownership as an example not only to other colonies but to other countries.
The Joint Select Committee appointed on the motion of the late Labour Government was a very important committee, and its report represented unanimous agreement on the part of the representatives of all three parties. We had no difficulties in the end. It is going a long way indeed when you find the three parties agreed on a report dealing with subjects so diverse. The most important recom- 1470 mendation is that the native policy of the British Government, as laid down in recent declarations, including the late Government's Memorandum on Native Policy, 1930, shall be made generally known to the native communities, and that administration shall be brought into harmony with them. What definite steps, if any, have been taken to bring this matter before the natives and make it generally known, and bring it into conformity and harmony with the administration which is now taking place? In the same Report, on page 42, it says that the same applies to native representation on the Legislative Council which should be increased. And in page 38, it says that the position of the Chief Native Commissioner should be strengthened. I ask the Minister whether the Report of that Committee has been carried out as far as is possible; whether they are working in the direction and on the lines of the Report; and whether help is being rendered by the Office of the right hon. Gentleman in carrying out reforms. I put down a Question the other day on a matter which has occupied the Press pretty freely of late, namely, the question of the Africanisation of the services. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman was one which, I hope, will be carried out. He said:I have been asked to reply to this question. The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative—That is, that it is not within measurable distance.The European population of Northern Rhodesia at the 1931 Census was returned at 13,848, out of a total estimated population of 1,345,678. His Majesty's Government will have due regard to the interests of all sections of the community when considering questions concerning the administration of the Territory and the well-being of the inhabitants."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th July, 1933, col. 920, Vol. 280.]I have before me a cutting from a paper called "East Africa" containing a statement made by Sir Ronald Storrs, the Governor of Northern Rhodesia, who gays:I take this opportunity of pronouncing a categorical, authoritative, and, I trust, final refutation of statements to the effect that this Government or the Home Government intends to adopt any policy prejudicial lo the legitimate interests of the white inhabitants of Northern Rhodesia.We agree with that, but are the legitimate interests of the population to be protected 1471 at the expense of, or along with, the progress of the native races?
§ Mr. PARKINSON
We hope so, but if it means that the interests of the Europeans have to be protected irrespective of the native population it will be very unfair, because we look forward to the natives being given their full position and opportunity to live upon their land. If they are not able to sell their products, they should not be compelled to go out into the country to earn money in order to pay the poll tax. Where the reserves are close and the opportunity for employment is scarce, the Government should consider remitting the poll tax of the people who are unable to sell the commodities which they produce. I hope that the poll tax will be remitted to enable them to live inside their own reserves.
§ 2.1 p.m.
It is a great pity that only half a day should be given to a discussion of so wide and important a subject. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) was curtailed on a subject of vital interest to a colonial debate. I listened with the greatest interest to the wide economic survey of the Secretary of State, and he has certainly gone some way towards making me an optimist. I wish to refer to some remarks which lie made and to some comments which have been passed on the subject of the Income Tax in Kenya. My only claim for asking for the indulgence of the Committee is that I am very closely connected with the situation there, as I am one of those people who are described in this House as settlers. I was there all through the period when the Income Tax and its alternatives were discussed, and I am, therefore, perhaps in a, position to be able to answer one or two questions and to clear up one or two points. May I say in defence of the Secretary of State—though it may not be necessary—that I think that the course of action which he has adopted throughout the whole of the financial discussion has been admirable. He has shown the exact qualities of administration which we need in a Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was rightly insistent that the budget 1472 of Kenya Colony should be balanced. He also had the wisdom and the common sense to accept the views and wishes of those who have to find the money and carry the burden.
It is suggested that the settlers were not sufficiently up-to-date and rapid in supplying the Government with the alternative suggestions. In their defence, I would inform the Committee that the settlers had to wait until the Committee set up by the Government had reported. I heard to-day that during the course of nine months they met on a great many occasions together with their subcommittees, and that they were not able to report to the Governor until February, which was within six weeks of the date by which decisions had to be made. I, therefore, submit that when you deal with men whose first object in life is to be a, farmer and whose second object is to be a politician it is not fair to blame them for pot putting forward alternatives earlier. So much for the wise decision taken by the Secretary of State. We shall find that before he has finished his tenure of office he will not only have earned the gratitude of the settlers but will have made friends with them. He will get their friendship on some other occasion.
The future problems are those which disturb me. I have a fear in my bones that the alternatives may not prove to be more than an ad hoc remedy for a difficult situation. It may be that it will prove to be satisfactory and permanent, but I do urge upon the Secretary of State, in spite of what he may hear from other quarters of the Committee, to insist upon even still further economies. I may be told that a Colony cannot develop and get rich unless it spends a great deal of money on its administration. I cannot believe that in these times. I cannot believe that a little Colony, struggling against world depression, locusts, droughts and all the difficulties of an equatorial existence, can become rich if it is over-administered. I have known the Colony for 23 years and have been in it off and on during that time. I have lived in it when it was less well administered, I have lived in it in periods of prosperity when money was being spent rather like water, and I do not think that it was any the better for it. There must be a half-way house between keeping up 1473 a beautiful, expensive and perfect machine in good times and in cutting it down to nothing, thereby losing the value of the work that has been done. Unless we can make sure that, there will be no deficit next year, we shall be faced with a position more difficult in 12 months time than the one we handled 2 months ago.
I should have liked to have dwelt more upon the conditions in Kenya, but I intend to keep my promise and to give others a chance to speak. Therefore, I shall have to postpone much of what I want to say; in which respect the hon. Member on the Liberal benches has set a good example. There is one point with which I should like to deal, and that is that while in the first place economies should be insisted upon, Kenya should be given her share of the effects of Imperial policy and restored trade all over the Empire. The particular products upon which Kenya depends can be brought into the scheme of quotas and protective duties. Something must he in the mind of the Secretary of State in this connection. He has referred to the production of coffee and sisal. He is right in saying that coffee has just held its own, particularly because it is a blending coffee and because the system of grading has been much devoloped in the last few years. With regard to sisal, in spite of the fact that the Admiralty came to the rescue to a certain extent, the position is serious. A drive through the country is one of the saddest things that one can see, because you go through miles of cactus jungle all of which represents the invested millions of our fellow subjects.
The Colony undoubtedly can be saved. Some hon. Members may find fault with me for using the word "saved", because it would seem to indicate that the Colony is nearly down and out. It is nearly down and out. When you have a community almost entirely in the hands of the bankers, paying on mortgages at the rate of eight per cent. and making no money out of their products, they very rapidly become down and out. Therefore, economy is even more necessary than perhaps the Secretary of State is aware, but I am convinced that if he will bear in mind the possibilities of embracing the Kenya Colony products within his Imperial marketing scheme, he may be just in time.
1474 With regard to the Kakamega area, I am not interested in the gold in that centre, but I have been in the country a great deal in the last two years since the so-called gold rush has taken place, and I am satisfied, from the testimony of people who can be trusted, that not only is there no harm in any shape or form being done to the local natives but that they are getting very rich from the money spent by the white prospectors. I can assure the Committee that if it had not been for the Kakamega goldfields there would have been 500 or 600 white men on the streets of Nairobi practically begging from door to door. At least 500 young white men in the last two years have been able to make 5s., 10s. or 15s. a day in working hard at gold washing. Therefore, if for that reason alone, I hope that nothing will be put in the way of the development of the Kakamega goldfields area.
It is impossible to touch upon the subject of Kenya without referring to the request for more effective control of finance. When I was in Kenya I attended the Convention of the Farmers' Association, which took place in March, and I urged upon them to face the facts and to realise that if they really were determined to press for more effective control of their finances it was tantamount to asking for self-government. I am certain that, although it is the legitimate ambition of any Britisher to manage his own affairs, I am certain that the time has not arrived when that colony should ask for it. The problems are too big and the white men are toe, few. I know quite well that if the effective consultation which is now the policy established between the Colonial Secretary and the settlers out there is made more permanent, and not an exception, they will rest satisfied that their case is in good hands. They are reassured by the wisdom with which the situation has been handled, and if only an announcement could be made by the Secretary of State that effective consultation is not to be the exception but the rule, he will find that they will go back to their farms satisfied.
§ 2.11 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Secretary of State was very rude to me in his speech, because I ventured to differ from his policy in Malaya. I was the solitary thorn in the bouquet of roses. I should like to point out, however, that opposi- 1475 tion to the Colonial Office view is not always malevolent or even mischievous. May I say a few words on the Palestine loan? I think the Palestine loan, guaranteed by the taxpayers of this country is all right in its way. Two million pounds for Palestine, to be spent on development in that country, is just the same as £100,000,000 in this country for development. I think we should welcome a similar loan to be similarly employed in this country. Will the right hon. Gentleman recollect that the habit of guaranteeing loans for the development of Colonies is a two-sided weapon. When you impose upon some of these Colonies a burden in the rate of interest, guaranteed though it may be by this country, which is too heavy for the colony to bear, you are not benefiting the colony. Nyasaland is fixed for all time with a loan for the Zambesi Bridge, which it can never pay. Do not let us forget that this sort of thing cannot be indefinitely developed. Palestine will find it difficult to pay £100,000 a year interest and sinking fund on their loan. The people who pay will be most of the Jews, as they are the chief contributors to the prosperity and the taxation of that country.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In so far as it is revenue producing it has my complete blessing. Nine hundred Arabs have been repatriated. The Government are going into the market to buy land for them. The cost of the land will rise. The cost of settling a man on the land may be, say £500—£500 multiplied. [Interruption.] That means that the Government have some estimate as to the cost of this generous gesture of repatriating on the land of Palestine the Arabs who have been driven off that land. Again, how I wish we could have something for the people of this country who have been driven off the land. But, so far as that is concerned, it is not reproductive.
There is also this to notice. We are guaranteeing a loan for a Crown Colony for almost precisely the same purposes that we guaranteed the instalments on the Irish land purchase scheme, and as we have guaranteed loans in other parts of our Colonial Empire. We have guaranteed recently £1,000,000 a year to be paid by the taxpayers of this country to enable Newfoundland to meet its obligations. I 1476 think there is a limit to the amount of liability you can put upon the British taxpayer. And there is this to be learned from it, that when you do put a limit upon the liability of the British taxpayer, you must postpone your schemes for giving self-government and control over their finances to those countries to whom you are lending the money. It is common sense. If you are going to advance £2,000,000 on our guarantee to Palestine, you must cease the form of giving a constitution to Palestine which the Jews do not want. This policy of scuttle in the Colonial Office, removing our responsibility, and substituting the responsibility of other people, has got to be held in check by the knowledge that we are putting the interests of the British taxpayer into the hands of people who will have the control in future.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was proposing it. I understand the High Commissioner is proposing it. We have had speeches from the right hon. Gentleman and answers to questions saying that it was contemplated, and the League of Nations has been told the same thing. Well this loan must put an end to that.
That brings me to the main subject I want to discuss to-day, a subject which aroused the indignation and wrath of the right hon. Gentleman. We had over here recently M. Sarraut, the French Colonial Minister, who drew an admirable and accurate distinction between the method in which France carries out colonisation and in which we carry out colonisation. France administers the whole of its tropical dependencies directly from Paris, the administration coming into direct contact with every trader and every individual. England governs indirectly through other bodies, through other persons. As a matter of fact, there is a good deal to be said on both sides. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; but when we consider the advantages of indirect rule, for goodness' sake let us see what we mean by indirect rule. We had from the right hon. Gentleman today an example which is thoroughly sound of indirect rule which he is developing in Nyasaland. You can go to many parts of the West Coast and find admirable examples of indirect rule. 1477 When you are setting up native district boards, when you are establishing the directing influence of the central government through small local authorities, you are not only giving those people a real voice in the Government, and an incentive to govern themselves well, but you are teaching them how to govern themselves, an advantage which they can never get under the French administrative system. That is a form of indirect rule of which we may be legitimately proud.
But there is another form of indirect rule which is, I think, disastrous to our reputation as well as to the people who suffer from it, that is, the system of selecting certain individuals in these colonies and giving them powers similar to the powers enjoyed by British Land Courts, turning a native chief into a land court with control over the lands of his tribe, treating him as lord of the manor who is entitled to sell his minerals or land to any speculator who comes along. That is a thoroughly vicious system, and it has been in the past a very prevalent system in our Colonial Empire. We stopped it in Nigeria completely. It has got hold of the Gold Coast perhaps more than anywhere else. There, this belief in the private ownership of land and the right of the native chief to sell and use the lands of his people, just as over here a Highland Chief did in the 18th century, has led to the alienation of land, and to the establishment of a large class of black-coated lawyers, who thrive on their disputes. It has led to the land being alienated in large blocks to industrial companies financed here, and has led to the pauperisation of the people in those Colonies.
But that is not the worst. What is worse is the growing and developing habit of the Colonial Office since the War to try to govern indirectly by shuffling off the control of this House and of the Colonial Office, and substituting for the control at present exercised by this House the control of some native chief, sultan, rajah, or someone else, who is put in the position of governing his people, and we abdicated our right to look after the government of those people. In India, we see to-day a scheme substituting for the rule of this House the rule of the Princes of India over the people, riot of their own State even, but of 1478 British India itself. It is a thoroughly vicious principle, abdicating our responsibilities and substituting indirect rule of a native Prince. That is what we are seeing in Malaya under this new proposal. It is a small sample, but it is time the warning voice went up as to the direction in which it is going.
I have here the report of Sir Samuel Wilson. He speaks of the growing wish on the part of the rulers for a transfer of power, the assimilation of the position of the rulers of the Federated States to that of the rulers of the Unfederated States. Without doubt, the rulers wish and all expect to have their way, and this problem in Malaya, is a small sample of the problem which faces us elsewhere. Malaya can be divided into three parts—Singapore, the Federated Malay States, which, in spite of treaties made 50 years ago have gradually come to be administered by British administrators in the interest, I think, of those States, and the Unfederated Malay States where the Sultans rule practically without any control by the Colonial Office or this House. There is slightly more control than there is over the native Princes in India,
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That is not so. The Sultan has to take and carry out the advice of the British Government on every matter that arises.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In that case the Sultans of the Unfederated States have more independence than the Sultans of the Federated States. I am not certain that they are yet on the Civil List, but, at any rate, there is a little control over the Unfederated States and far more control over the Sultans of the Federated States. This change, which the right hon. Gentleman speaks of as being decentralisation, is taking away from the central authority, the British Government, control over half a dozen subjects, the only important one for the moment being education, and putting them under the control of the native sovereign. In this report you will find it advocated—exactly as in the case of India—because of a promise made in the past that something of this sort should be done. There is not one word in this 1479 report about giving to the people who are going to have this rule over them transferred from Britain to the Sultans, anything in the nature of representative government in the territories of the Sultans. Power over the finances and the direction of their every day life is handed over to Sultans, whose ideas are medieval and whose religion is the religion of only a small fraction of the people over whom they govern.
But the most serious part is this. The right hon. Gentleman said that it had met with no opposition anywhere. No opposition. There were protests at the time, and since, by the people who were the chief sufferers from this change. In the Federated Malay States the large majority of the population is not Malay, they are Chinese and Indians. They are not asking for self-government. They are not asking for the transfer of powers from Britain to the Sultans; they are asking for the retention of British protection, justice and security and equal freedom, which they are getting now. They are afraid that if they are handed over to the native Sultans they will not get the same fair treatment they get from Great Britain. Our responsibility to these people is considerable, our responsibility for the Malay population is considerable. The Malayas are mostly agriculturists, the Chinese are the merchants, the rich class, and the Hindus are the plantation workers. The interests of these people demand that British control should continue. Why then are we handing over this control to the Sultans? As far as I can see from reading the report the Governor made an unfortunate declaration some years ago when he promised that this should be done. Now we have to carry through the promise of the Governor. That is not a sufficient argument for surrendering our protection and control over these people.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It is used in the Report. It is a very small matter. There are only about 1,000,000 people involved. It is a question of principle; a principle which affects the whole policy of the Colonial Office. We do not want our indirect rule to be converted into a rule through absolute and irresponsible 1480 princes. Since the war we have removed British authority, more or less, from Southern Rhodesia, from Malta, from Transjordan and we have scuttled out of Iraq. There is talk to-day of the chances of giving self-government to Kenya, with control over her finances, and there is talk, in spite of the denial which I was glad to hear, of giving self-government to Palestine. In all these cases there has been the idea that we should remove control without considering who we were putting in our place. In Rhodesia, as in Southern Africa, we forget the native. To-day there are only half-a-dozen native voters in the whole of Southern Rhodesia. There is an agitation now of getting out of Northern Rhodesia and handing it over to Southern Rhodesia. If anything of the sort is done, shall we remember the rights and interests of the natives of that country before we do so?
We have handed over Malta to self-government without realising that the feeling on religious matters was so deep and bitter that self-government in Malta was bound to be a failure. We have seen the carrying out, as it were of the old Victorian idea of budding off new governments from the British Empire, removing our controlling hand and handing to the outlying portions of the Empire the power of governing themselves. I have no objection to that provided we see that it is the whole of the people who are thrown upon their own, who have control of their colony in the future. But it is disastrous to do this and at the same time leave the poor and helpless without a chance of controlling the new powers set up or of getting any reforms which will enable them to take part in the new self-government. There have been signs recently that the Colonial Office are breaking away from the theory that you should scrap your responsibilities by putting someone else, some figure head, to rule and govern where we have hitherto ruled and governed. A foot was put down firmly in Cyprus. The chances are that the Colonial Office to-day is not so enthusiastic about the present policy of the India Office.
In British Guiana we managed to stop the ridiculous mismanagement of the colony under a system of self-government which again left out the great bulk of the population of that country. 1481 In Somaliland, Swaziland and Basutoland, where only three or four years ago we were seriously considering handing them over to South Africa it has now become impossible.
In all these ways there are signs of a changed mentality. All I want to enforce is that it is desirable, before we hand over, that we should at any rate see that the people who are to take our place are better than ourselves, and. above all that they are all the people arid not a selected class or a selected prince, or, as in Kenya, one particular colour. Whether we have carried out our duties well or badly in the past, this House with all its varying opinions and interests has kept some control; and I urge upon the Colonial Office that they realise that it is not a liberal and advanced thing to hand over Johore to the Sultan of Johore or Perak to the Sultan of Perak.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Yes, unfortunately. It is one of the unfederated States which the right hon. Gentleman told me earlier, quite inaccurately, was controlled by the British Government and could not do anything without the wishes of the British Government. I wish the right hon. Gentleman would get his mind straight on facts for at least half an hour at a time. We are told that Johore is independent to-day. These other Sultans desire to be independent also, and the right hon. Gentleman with his policy is giving them the opportunity of taking up exactly the same position as Johore, of ruling their own people. An assimilation of the position and the rights of the Federated States and the unfederated States is the considered policy of the right hon. Gentleman, who has seen that policy fail.
§ 2.30 p.m.
§ Sir EDWARD GRIGG
I would like to join other speakers, in the first place, in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies on the statement he was able to make, and on the lucidity of that statement. He showed on the whole that the conditions in the Colonial Empire are extraordinarily satisfactory at the present time, considering what the conditions 1482 are elsewhere. I should like in particular to congratulate him on what he achieved for the Colonial Empire at the Ottawa Conference. In my opinion that was a real landmark from which great good may come. I would like also to join other speakers in protesting against the fact that the Colonial Office Vote is put down on a day like this. It is impossible to do justice to these subjects in the time we have at our disposal to-day. Many of these subjects are difficult and delicate, and what is said about them in this House is read not only here—perhaps it is not read here—but is read overseas. What is said about Palestine is read in Palestine, and what is said about Kenya is read and discussed in Kenya.
It is not easy to discuss these difficult and delicate subjects under conditions which compel us to speak in haste. I had a good deal to say on the most difficult of Kenya subjects, that is the issue between official and settler. I do not propose to attempt to deal with it, for if I were to deal with it properly I should be denying many other speakers the right which they have to take part in this Debate. On the other hand if I tried to rush the discussion I should be very much afraid of what might result. I think hon. Members probably recognise that, wherever this issue arises, it is one of the most difficult in the whole Empire. It arouses a feeling very much like the feeling which existed during the War between the men in the trenches and the men on the Staff; and when there also comes into it the fact, which I am afraid that right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen on the Socialist Benches do a good deal to encourage, the feeling that whites can only assert their rights by fighting hard against all the interests of the native races, and that native interests can only be asserted by insisting on sacrifices on the part of the settler population—when that sort of feeling is imported, these questions become so difficult, they lead to so much temper, that unless there is time to deal with them very deliberately they are much better left alone. I do not think that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Socialist Benches realise to the full what effect words casually spoken by them very often have overseas. I leave the question of the Civil Service and its claims on the finance of the colony, and I leave the question of the settlers also.
1483 There are only two practical points with which I wish to deal. The first is this: I agree entirely with the view of those people in Kenya who hold that the solution of Kenya's difficulties, even the solution of a permanent balance of her Budget, does not lie merely in fresh taxation. In Kenya, as here, what is really needed is increased production. I am convinced that it is in the power of the Government to expand production and therefore expand the revenue to the advantage of all races. From that point of view I am very glad that the Secretary of State is going steadily ahead with the policy of developing the mining area in Kakamega. Hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches speak as if that was solely the interest of those engaged in the mining operations, those who have the licences and the claims. That is really not the case. The natives have just as much to gain from the development of these mines as anyone else, and if you were to stop development there and really ascertain their opinion you would get protests just as strong from the natives as from any other section of the community.
After all, the whole of the system of administration in Kenya, the system of transport, all the expensive structure, has been raised on one basis since the beginning of the century—the basis of dual development. It means, if you are really to carry out in the spirit and the letter the declared Imperial policy, that dual development is to go ahead, that both races are to have their chance, and that economic development is to be pursued, provided it is pursued with fairness to all the interests and the races concerned. If you were to close down a large proportion of mineral development the natives would be the first to suffer. The great fixed charges would remain, the service of the loans on the railways would remain. They would fall on native taxation and the native power of earning, and nothing could be worse for the native population than a policy of that kind. Development, whether it be mineral development or other development, is in the interests of all races in the colony, and I am certain that that is the true native opinion.
The real difficulty in regard to gold mines is in my opinion not going to arise over land. I do not agree and have 1484 never agreed with the idea that you are going to benefit the natives by any pinchbeck policy with regard to land, beck placing patch by patch. It only means taking one or two native families from their surroundings and putting them down somewhere where they do not be long. That is no good. If you have to face the question of taking natives off the land—you will have to do so—you must do so on broad and generous lines. You must remove a sufficient number of natives so that the tribal customs are not interfered with and tribal life remains, and so that they go where they will have an equal or a better opportunity. That can be done but these small transfers are no use. They are administratively difficult and are against the interests of the natives.
When the problem arises of dealing with the land I hope that the Government here and the Government in the Colony will recognise that it is better to make transfers on a large scale than to attempt them on a small scale. What those transfers may be we cannot tell. It depends on what the value of these areas turns out to be, but I would like to emphasise that if there proves to be gold reef in payable quantities in Kenya, there is not only going to be a difficulty over land but there is going to be a difficulty over the whole question of industrial development close to or in the middle of native reserves. That is going to be the real problem. The effect upon native life will be great and the strain upon native labour will be great. There will not only be a great demand for labour in the mines at the high wages which the mines can offer, but there will be a great stimulus to agricultural production all round the mines because there will be a local market clamouring for produce. Thus there will be a double pressure on native labour and that is dangerous both to them and to us. It is dangerous to them, because it will mean a constant temptation to the able-bodied men among them to leave the reserves and to get out of their tribal life. It is dangerous to us because it will involve too great a dependence upon native industry which is always dangerous for a superior race.
Therefore, I hope that in the early stages, when the right hon. Gentleman is discussing the terms of concessions with big concessionaires who may be finding reefs, he will make certain that in the 1485 conditions which he imposes he will be able to say at a given moment, "The native labour supply is not adequate and you must find labour elsewhere. You must find white labour if the Government determine that the strain upon the native labour supply is too great." I believe it essential to take that precaution and to establish that condition now because once these concessions have been given, it becomes difficult to establish conditions like that afterwards. This difficulty has already arisen in South Africa. It confronted Lord Milner in an acute and dangerous form and it may easily arise, in Kenya if gold is there on a payable scale.
§ Sir E. GRIGG
I am afraid I cannot answer as to that. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to do so. So much for mining, but there is one other subject to which I would refer. In considering the stimulation of production in the Colony one has to consider what is possible in that line if mineral development fails and what is possible indeed in the way of closer settlement, even if mineral development succeeds. There is plenty of land already alienated in the Colony for closer settlement—land which is now largely held by the banks. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Captain Guest) spoke as if Kenya were the only country in which farmers' land was in the hands of the banks. I assure him that there are other parts of the Empire and of the world where such is the case. I know certainly that in my own part of this country it is the case. Kenya is not exceptional in that respect but I agree that it is immensely important to try to re-establish a market for land and that is one of the first things that can be done for the Colony.
If you try to introduce settlement into Kenya on a basis of growing produce for export you are obviously doing something which is dangerous at the present level of world prices. No one will launch capital under present conditions in that way even in a promising young country where the best land is still extremely cheap. But you could, I believe, make progress now with the settlement upon land of that kind of people with fixed incomes, like pensioners from the services 1486 in Africa, who are practically lost in England when they return. Their experience is lost here and I feel strongly that when officers retire from the services and draw pensions, they had better spend those pensions, if they can, among the taxpayers who pay them and not elsewhere. I would like to see a policy adopted which would prevent so many retrenched officers from leaving Africa as we have seen recently. We should encourage them to stay in Africa where their experience would be of the greatest value from many points of view at the present time. The report of the 1820 Settlers Association shows that settlement of this kind is being carried out successfully in South Africa, and, if it can be done in South Africa, it can be done in Kenya.
I would like to make some suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman as to how that should be done. The first thing is to make it clear that the Government want settlement in that form. Nobody knows at present whether settlement in Kenya is wanted or not and there is no question that people are afraid to go, there. They are going to South Africa rather than to Kenya although many of them I believe, would just as soon go to Kenya. The next thing is to encourage officers with experience in the African Colonies particularly in the East African Colonies to settle in Africa when they have finished their service and are drawing their pensions. Some of them are doing so. One of the members of the Morris Carter Commission is a provincial commissioner who is so fond of the country that he has settled there. That kind of settlement could be encouraged and promoted on a greater scale with immense benefit to the colony. The third suggestion I would make to the right hon. Gentleman is to stimulate private enterprise perhaps, with some assistance from the Overseas Settlement Act, to get on with settlement of that kind. I know that the Overseas Settlement Act is being employed to assist such settlement in South Africa. That statement was made in public at a meeting yesterday and, if that Act can be used in regard to South Africa, surely it could also be used to assist Kenya.
I would press very strongly for settlement in that form as a definite contribution to the solution of the economic problem in Kenya which underlies all the 1487 political and constitutional issues that cause so much difficulty. Settlement of that kind would provide an immediate contribution to the solution of this difficult economic problem. It would do more. These constitutional questions are very thorny and I would only say this about them. In my opinion the best line of advance at the moment in the settled areas, as in the native areas, is to encourage the development of local government. The machinery is there. The local government system is there, but local government has languished in the settled areas—although not in the native areas—from lack of money and lack of men. It is languishing also from a fear that if the settled districts rate themselves for local services they will merely be adding to taxation without getting some compensating reduction elsewhere. If that fear could be removed and if you could introduce settlement in the form which I have indicated you would provide the settled areas with the money and the men. You would make a very useful contribution to the solution of the political question there by getting many of the problems of focal government in the settled areas into the hands of district councils for which provision is already made, though very few of them at the present moment exist.
The final reason why I press for settlement in this form is that it seems to me that in a Colony of that kind it will prove a political and a social insurance of a very valuable kind, particularly if gold is found in large quantities. If gold is found, many problems will arise, and I believe that the presence of a population such as a settlement like this would give, an experienced, a reliable, steady element in the population, would prove many times worth its weight in gold, the gold of those mines, to the Government and to all races in the Colony.
§ 2.56 p.m.
§ Mr. GEOFFREY PETO
I will be brief, as I always am. I propose to deal only with one subject, and that is the question of Income Tax in Kenya. I remember some years ago Sir Alan Cobham saying that he believed that civil aviation would be thoroughly on its feet when there could be a solo flight to Cape Town and back without any mention of it in 1488 the newspapers. I believe that Kenya will be on its feet when we can have a day's Debate on the Colonial Office Vote without a single mention of that Colony, and I commend that suggestion to the Government and to the settlers.
Let me say straight away that I am in substantial agreement, and I regret it, with what the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Lunn) has said with regard to Income Tax in Kenya. I regret it, not because I do not respect and admire the hon. Member, but because he was returned to oppose the Government, and I was returned to support the Government as I do on every possible occasion. I have a great admiration, too, for my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. I am sorry he is not here at the moment, but nobody grudges him a mouthful of food after sitting here from Eleven till Three, and I think he knows more or less what I shall say. I have a great admiration for him. I think his administration of the Colonies has been very successful, and particularly that what he did at Ottawa was a great achievement. But if one is to support the Government, the Government must be consistent, and it is more than flesh and blood can do to support the right hon. Gentleman through the vacillations, the denials and acceptances, and the changes which he has made during the last few months on this question of Income Tax in Kenya. One would need to be a chameleon to adapt himself to such an extraordinarily kaleidoscopic succession of changes, and even he would shrivel up in the effort as a chameleon is reported to have done when placed on a tartan plaid.
First of all, you get the Moyne Report recommending Income Tax. That is 12 months ago. Agitation immediately springs up against it, engineered by a few rich men who run the Press, and some of them are very eloquent speakers. They send an unofficial deputation home with a threat to the Home Government of hostility, non-co-operation, and obstruction. My right hon. Friend very rightly refused to receive them till that threat was withdrawn. When he did receive them, he told them that he intended to persist with Income Tax. Then my right hon. Friend sent out an Income Tax adviser, under a three years' agreement and with a wife and children. The adviser set up an office in Nairobi, 1489 with a staff, with "Income Tax" embroidered on the back or front of their uniform. That, of course, was very annoying to the white population. A Bill had not been introduced, and yet this staff had arrived, just flaunting defiance. Then came the Bill, a harsh, unreasonable Bill, and we are told by the Colonial Secretary, "Oh, yes, that was a Bill which called for criticism and suggestions." I do not know what it called for, but it received wholesale condemnation. It was not a tactful way of introducing Income Tax for the second time.
Having introduced the Bill into the Legislative Assembly, a committee was appointed to consider alternatives—after the introduction of the Bill. Can you imagine a more Gilbertian, topsy-turvy order of action? Then the Secretary of State sent instructions to force the Bill through, but his next action was to suspend the Bill until the committee had reported on alternatives. Then came Lord Francis Scott, who is justly admired and respected, both in Kenya and in this country. He came home with a deputation and further resolutions, and he saw the Colonial Secretary. We read that the Israelites had to walk seven times round Jericho and blow a great blast on their trumpets before the walls fell down. The walls of the Colonial Office collapsed at the second perambulation, without so much as a toot on a penny whistle. Income Tax was abandoned the moment Lord Francis Scott arrived home, and alternative proposals were accepted. What were those alternatives? The Secretary of State says that Lord Moyne approved of their substitution. In his dispatch of 7th June the right hon. Gentleman says:It is fair to say that the alternative proposals now before me were not submitted to Lord Moyne for his consideration.Why were they not submitted? There is nothing new about them. All six are in operation in other parts of the Colonial Empire, and surely it is not for the settlers to suggest alternative taxation. It is for the Colonial Office, under the present system of Government, to do that, and it should have put alternatives before Lord Moyne at the beginning. First, you get taxes on parcels and passengers landing, which are petty annoyances. Then there is a tax on bills and promissory notes. There is nothing 1490 novel about any of them. Then you get two taxes intended to return more than half the increased revenue, a graduated poll tax based on income and trade licences. The Secretary of State said, in his despatch of 7th June, of those two:The first two are at present in force in Tanganyika, where they are now working satisfactorily and bringing in substantial revenue.In the very next State, and yet no thought of them here, and no one suggested them to Lord Moyne as a possible alternative to Income Tax. Then we come to Sir Sydney Armitage Smith's report on Tanganyika, of September, 1932, in which he deals with this very question of Income Tax and a graduated poll tax, and says of the latter:It is greatly resented by unofficial taxpayers.He says alsoBy the nature of the case companies escape payment altogether.And he goes on to say, in this very valuable report:There would be much gained by a formal repudiation of the theory that it is the proper destiny of East Africa to provide a sanctuary where the immigrant capitalist shall be privileged to exploit the resources of the land without, being required to pay Income Tax, Super-tax, or Death Duties.This tax, condemned by Tanganyika settlers and by Sir Sydney Armitage Smith, has now been adopted for Kenya. It is an aboriginal, primitive form of Income Tax, with none of the allowances and rebates which we have striven for generations to secure for the poorer taxpayers here. There are no allowances for wife or children, there is no tax on absentees—you draw your income from Kenya while paying no tax in Kenya at all—and there is no tax on companies. Mr. Pandya, who represented the Indian Chamber of Commerce in the Report on the Alternative Proposals, says:The penalty clause for perjury, the power to demand inspection of books, and the schedule based on incomes make this Measure, not a poll tax, but a disguised form of Income Tax.The Report itself says, on page 14:If administration were carried out in the same manner as that adopted in Tanganyika, wholesale or partial evasion would not be difficult.I would ask the Colonial Secretary, What are the advantages of this poll tax 1491 over Income Tax except to a few rich men? I see the advantage to the rich man, because the limit is £100, and he cannot pay more. The settler has been deluded by these newspaper proprietors and these few rich concessionaires. They have been misled, and they can only rely upon the Secretary of State to look after their interests. They are engaged in their businesses; they do not want to mix up with politics, and they want to be adequately protected. I consider that the Secretary of State has made a most unfortunate surrender, and I hope flat he will now insist on a form of just government in Kenya such as he has throughout the rest of the Colonial Empire. The people need it. The country is in great difficulties, and there is nothing worse for a country than a policy of wobble. The Governor is in a perfectly hopeless position if the Secretary of State constantly changes his mind. It is bad for the Governor not to know what the Government's policy is going to be, and unfair to him to have the changes announced the moment he leaves the Colony for a well-earned rest and leave. I hope the Secretary of State will reconsider this matter and keep before him the interests of the poorer sections of the white settlers as well as of the rest of the community.
§ 3.7 p.m.
Sir JOHN SANDEMAN ALLEN
I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) that it is the greatest mistake to limit a discussion of this kind to only half-a-day. I hope that those who arrange these matters will in future realise how important it is to have a full opportunity to discuss Colonial questions. Those of us who have sat through the Debate must be much impressed by the fact that the speeches have been most interesting and very valuable, with a certain brilliant admixture of fiction and fact, as from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). This debate has been a great contrast to many of the debates that we have had in which there has been an interminable repetition from morning to night. Here we are dealing with a vast Colonial Empire, and I feel we ought to have more time to discuss it. A great many hon. Members will be shut out from speaking to-day. I do not pro- 1492 pose to shut out more than I can help, but there are certain points upon which I feel it is important that I should touch. We were all interested in the broad survey which the Secretary of State gave us about the work that has been done in recent years in developing the products of the Colonial Empire.
The work at Ottawa was most valuable and is gradually being appreciated more than ever. For the first time our Colonial Empire has been brought within the full benefits of preference, and we are going to see how much good that will do. The study of the development of individual provinces is highly important in these matters. This question has been mentioned before, but it cannot be emphasised too much. Many of us feel that it is extremely short-sighted and weak, and shows a lack of courage, to come to a decision that the Empire Marketing Board should be abandoned. Those who are interested in Colonial development and who know its immense value to the Colonial Empire insist that the value of the Board cannot be exaggerated, and we earnestly press upon the Government that the work that is being done by the Board in relation to the Colonial Empire should be maintained in some form so that we can continue to have the great benefit of its work, which has steadily proved itself throughout. Whoever pays for this work it is worth while to continue it.
Next I wish to speak on East Africa generally. We have heard a remarkably interesting speech from the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) who always speaks on this subject, which he has studied, in a moderate and a balanced way. Although he may differ from the Colonial Secretary, I am sure we were all interested to hear what he said. I for one, having worked with him as a, colleague on the Joint Select Committee dealing with East Africa, agree with most of what he said about the decisions of that Select Committee, and I am glad to know that the Colonial Secretary has acted very largely on their recommendations. The hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Lunn) attacked the Colonial Secretary on the question of income tax, a subject which was also dealt with by the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. G. Peto), with whom I have many things in common, although I take a different view from him on this matter. The first part 1493 of the story is absolutely true. The Committee recommended that a study should be made of the finance of the Colony, and Lord Moyne went out and made an investigation, and on his return he recommended Income Tax. The Secretary of State adopted his recommendations. Nobody had recommended anything else.
What was the next thing that happened? No one put forward any alternative, but we had a fierce and violent attack on the Secretary of State, an organised attack, I have no doubt, although I do not know who organised it. So long as there was that violent attack on the Secretary of State and no sensible alternative had been put forward, the proper thing for every one of us to do was to back up the Secretary of State for standing up for what he believed to be in the interests of the Colony. Later, sweet reason came on the scene and alternatives were propounded. It was the white settlers and, to a certain extent, the Indiana who were going to pay all this tax—not the natives—and the people who would have to pay put forward these alternative suggestions. One cannot talk about there having been a surrender. It is a ridiculous term to use. It was a perfectly sound and statesmanlike act to say "Now that you have come to reason, now you have been sensible, now that you have no longer set yourselves up against the Government and are no longer foolish enough to refuse to pay taxes but only say you would rather pay it in this form than in the other form, then provided it is going to produce the same amount we will give it a trial and see how far it is reasonable."
I cannot see that there was any surrender about that. It was a reasonable thing to do, and a wise and sound step to take. It was not a. case of surrender or vacillation on the part of the Secretary of State. I see no signs of vacillation on his part in discussing other matters. He was confronted with a difficult situation and with this foolish opposition, this violent threat, which brought a lot of us into the position of saying that here was a state of things which we could not tolerate. Who was going to tolerate that kind of thing? Directly reason came on the scheme, directly Lord Francis Scott came forward with his reasonable proposals, the situation was changed and I refuse, and I 1494 ask the Committee to refuse, to accept the suggestion that there was any kind of surrender.
The other point I want to refer to is that we have to deal with a difficult situation in our Colonies. We have been speaking about developing our Colonial Empire. One of the great difficulties in developing markets in that Empire arises from the very great competition which has grown up in recent times. But that is far too big a subject to open up this afternoon, and I simply refer to it. In West Africa certain steps have been taken so as to enable us to deal with the matter, and the same thing has happened in East Africa. We are tied to a large extent by treaties. I believe, as one who has studied the subject for years, that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is aware of the importance of doing what can be done to lift from East Africa a severe hindrance in the way of commercial treaties. We must be in a position to deal with people who deal properly with us, and there must be fair dealing and reciprocity. We must not be tied down by old fashioned treaties concluded in very different circumstances. The time of the House should not be taken up to-day in doing more than refer to that matter, because I am perfectly convinced that the Secretary of State appreciates it.
There is one other point that I should like to mention. The Joint Select Committee has strongly taken up the position that administrative union between these territories is unworkable and impossible. To that, I do not think that anybody has been able to produce any opposition, but the equally emphatic position that the mandate given to us to administer Tanganyika is a permanent mandate, which is going to be held in all times, and cannot be removed. The position is different from that of other territories; the mandate cannot be removed and will not be removed, and nobody, whatever this party may be in this country, would ever be so foolish or so audacious as to suggest it. That is an important point. We have to realise that these three territories are one economic unit, and that it is sheer folly to cut them up and treat them as separate units. They run into each other in every way. The wild animals have free access over the borders, and in many places people can get over 1495 the borders without any difficulty. They are one economic unit, and their interests are to a large extent the same.
A recommendation has been made to try separate methods of handling the customs. I maintain that there is a right and proper way of doing this. Although administratively those territories have to be dealt with differently, because of the technical difficulties which were carefully set out by the Joint Select Committee, yet, in spirit, we wish to approach them as one economic entity, and where, on one side or the other, there are arrangements for give and take, we must remember that all that is being done jointly in the interests of all three, and is essential to the interests of each one. Nobody, particularly those interested in acting as watch dogs on our administration of Tanganyika, can accuse us of trying to tackle the customs or anything else in one of the territories apart from the benefit of any other territory. To cut any territory off and treat it as separate altogether is to cut it off from the economic advantages that it would get from the administration. That is an important point, and, although I know that the right hon. Gentleman has it in mind, I mention it to-day so that the larger public which takes an interest in Colonial debates, whether at home or abroad, in a British Empire, at Geneva or anywhere else on the Continent, should realise that we are determined to make the best of our responsibilities, and to act in what we believe to be the right interests of all.
§ 3.19 p.m.
§ Mr. ENTWISTLE
I do not know whether the inhabitants of Kenya are aware of the amount of attention that they receive in this House. Two-thirds of the time of the speeches to-day has been devoted to that one colony, and I now ask the Committee to direct their attention for a moment to general trade matters affecting not only the interests of one colony, but this country as a whole. Certainly, among other trades, the Lancashire cotton trade is very vitally affected by matters arising on this Vote, and coming within the administration of the Colonial Secretary. I would ask my right hon. Friend, in his reply, to deal with some of these important matters, with all of which he is very familiar, and on which he has received numerous representations from 1496 the trade. They arise mainly, though not entirely, in connection with the very serious question of Japanese competition. This is probably the most serious question affecting the future of this country. It is at once a very delicate and a very broad question, and it is one on which the Government will have to come to a clear decision, or not only the cotton trade, but many other trades in this country, in their most important markets, will be completely destroyed.
I only need mention such facts as the trade figures of Ceylon. In 1932, the imports into Ceylon of cotton goods from Japan were 33,556 packages, as against only 8,730 from Great Britain, and 1,404 from the rest of the world. Therefore, Japan is importing into Ceylon, of cotton goods, three-fourths of the total purchases of Ceylon, and that in spite of the fact that practically the whole of the exports of Ceylon are taken by us, and we give them a preference, while they have refused to give us a preference on cotton goods. That is the situation which exists at present, not only in regard to the question of Japanese competition, but also in regard to the implementing of the agreements to which Ceylon was a party at Ottawa, which were made by the Colonial Secretary on behalf of that Colony, and which are not at present being carried out.
This Japanese competition is not at all comparable with the competition of any other country in the world to-day. Certainly the standards of living in Japan are lower. I know that in Safeguarding inquiries there used to be many disputes as to what was the actual level of wages in one country as compared with another, but nobody can doubt that in Japan the wages are not more than a quarter, or certainly not more than a third, of what they are in this country, while the hours worked per week are 60 as against 48; and, on the top of these unfair conditions, there is the Government's deliberate policy of depreciating the yen in order to get trade advantages. So much is this the case that the industrialists in Japan were warned beforehand when the Government contemplated deliberately depreciating the yen. That is shown by the fact that, in the first six months of 1932, the imports of raw materials into Japan increased very much. During that period, the yen was at the old parity with sterling. But in the last six months of 1497 1932, when the yen was depreciated until its value was 20 per cent. below that of sterling, we find that the imports did not increase, but the exports increased by 50 per cent. That shows that there was a deliberate policy on the part of the Government, both by subsidies and by this depreciation of the yen, to get an unfair advantage in the markets of the world.
This matter has got to be tackled. I understand that the Government are at present in negotiation with Japan with a view to arriving at some arrangement on the basis of quotas—apportioning different markets. It may be that that is the most practical method of getting some alleviation of the present troubles due to the ridiculously low prices of Japanese goods, and of our own difficulties due to the presence of the most-favoured-nation Clause in our treaties. I would urge on the Government, before these negotiations are completed, to see that their hands are not tied by existing treaties, surely it would strengthen them in negotiation and it would clear the ground for the full consideration of these questions if the existing treaties which stand in the way were denounced.
I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken say that the Congo Basin treaties should be put an end to The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce have been very reluctant in aligning themselves with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce in asking the Government to denounce the Congo Basin treaty and the Anglo-French Convention as it affects West Africa so that in the negotiations in the World Economic Conference, and in the bilateral agreements, which we are told are the basis of the Government's policy, we should have the ground completely cleared. It is not clear at the moment. India has denounced her trade treaty with Japan, which is a step in the right direction, and we have been told recently that we have also denounced that portion of our own treaty with Japan which affects West Africa, but there still remain the Congo Basin Treaty and the Anglo-French Convention and the other portions of our own commercial Treaty with Japan. I urge on the Government that these Treaties should all be firmly denounced so as to give them complete freedom in the negotiations that they are conducting with Japan.
1498 Ceylon has not given the preference on Lancashire cotton goods which she agreed to do at Ottawa. The right hon. Gentleman has made representations by telegram, but we have not heard what reply has been received and we have never been informed as to the exact constitutional position in the matter. Ceylon has a constitution which was passed by this House and under which the Governor General has the power not only to promote but to pass legislation where he considers it of paramount importance to the interests of the country. I should have thought that, if there was one matter of paramount importance in the interests both of Ceylon and of this country, it was implementing the Ottawa Agreement, which was certainly entered into in the interest of both countries. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would deal with that. When we come to Jamaica, we have completely the other side of the picture. Jamaica is only too anxious, from what we hear and see reported. I read, I think in the "Manchester Daily Despatch", that one of the representatives of the Jamaican Government said they were only too glad to give a preference to English goods, and particularly to Lancashire cotton goods, and to put on stiff duties against this unfair Japanese competition which they are suffering from as well as Lancashire, and yet we are told that our own Government is hesitant to give them the power or to encourage the Legislature to put these duties on Japanese goods and to give us a preference because of the delicacy of the political situation with Japan.
I should like to say one word on the Chinese tariff. The Chinese have increased their tariff, particularly on cotton goods, by as much as 50 to 100 per cent. That has been put on ostensibly as a retaliation against Japan for the troubles which have arisen between the two countries. Apparently, because China is bound by the most-favoured-nation clause in her treaties, in order to inflict hardship on Japan we are having intolerable hardship inflicted upon the cotton trade and other trades in this country through these increased duties. The right hon. Gentleman was asked this week to give the recent figures of our trade with Hong Kong, which comes directly under his administration, and they showed an alarming falling off in 1499 trade due to those increased tariffs. I am sure that the cotton trade would be beholden to the Minister if he would tell us what steps or negotiations are taking place on his behalf in regard to the Chinese tariffs.
In the various trade agreements which have been entered into by this country so far a great deal of solicitude has been shown on the part of the Government for the coal trade of this country, and rightly so, but I submit that the coal trade is not the only important trade in this country. The cotton trade is nearly as important as regards numbers, and just as important as regards our export trade. It is also in one of the most acute of the depressed areas, and the Government, in formulating their policy with regard to trading agreements, should turn their eyes for a moment from the interests of coal and devote a little more time to the interests of cotton.
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I wish to congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bilston (Mr. G. Peto) on what I think was a most courageous speech in regard to the Income Tax question in Kenya. The arguments he used seemed to be unchallengeable, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who was not in the House at the time, will do his hon. Friend the justice of reading his speech. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) knows, and no one better, that in regard to land in Kenya the native is in a position of inferiority. That was the only thing, as far as one can see in all these matters, in which the hon. Gentleman attempted to justify the attitude of the Government and those responsible in Kenya. The native is in a position of inferiority, and there have been breaches of numerous declarations made on behalf of governments in this country. There was the Declaration of 1922 when the Government stated that the interests of the natives were to be paramount.
§ Sir E. GRIGG
Surely, the hon. Member knows that the meaning of the Declaration of 1922 has been discussed again and again in White Papers since that time, and cannot the declaration of the Joint Select Committee of both Houses issued only two years ago be regarded as the final statement on that matter?
§ Major MILNER
I am not aware that in principle that declaration has been altered or changed in any way. Whether it is so or not, I assert that in the matter of land the native is in a position of inferiority in Kenya, and no one knows it better than the hon. Gentleman who has so recently come to this House. He knows that it is impossible to buy land except at the sweet will and pleasure of those who buffet the natives about from pillar to post. But I did not rise to deal at any length with that question. I wish to deal with another matter which I think the right hon. Gentleman neglected. Of course, he has to cover a vast territory and it is not possible to cover every question. He took up 90 per cent. of the one hour and twenty minutes of his speech in discussing matters of trade and commerce, but paid little or no attention to the 101 other matters, such as the administration of justice, the social conditions of the people and their education, which must be in the minds of many of us. I desire to speak for five minutes only on the administration of justice in order to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to reply. Those of us who have given some little time to a study of this question have some difficulty in appreciating the difference between the administration of justice in, say, West Africa and the administration of justice in this country. We have difficulty in appreciating the mental attitude of the native towards our administration of justice and in appreciating the age-long tradition in regard to the native's idea of justice which still persists.
In the time at my disposal the only plea that I desire to make is that those who are responsible for the administration of justice in the colonies, protectorates and mandated territories should have a policy which is based upon some real understanding of the mentality of the native, and his tradition. It is not right or in accordance with our trusteeship to attempt to force upon him, willy nilly, a system of law which we have found satisfactory in western countries.
§ Major MILNER
I am glad to find the right hon. Gentleman in agreement with that point of view. We ought also to 1501 try and bring into operation a. legal system which the native can understand and in regard to which steps can be taken to enable him to understand. It ought to be a system graded to suit his educational progress, and there should be some means, of which there is no evidence at the moment, of bringing home to the native the nature and real meaning of the various ordinances and laws which, are passed from time to time. I believe that in the penal code we say, as we do in our own laws here, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. It may not be an excuse in this country, where the great majority of the people can read, but unless some steps are taken to bring the laws and ordinances home to the people of these tropical countries in a language which they can understand, it is not fair to expect them to carry out those laws which have not been brought home to them in that way. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to assure the Committee that some steps are being taken to print the laws in the language of the natives and to give information, on demand, or even to take special steps through the various native authorities to indicate the real nature of the laws.
I am also justified in making some comment on the fact that very frequently the district magistrate or the administrator is the maker of the law, the prosecutor in case of any breach of the law and the judge at the trial in regard to the breach. If that be so in any great measure, some steps ought to be taken to bring about an alteration and to see that the administrators have some legal training. One reads that many of them have not, and I should have thought the system which is carried out in India, whereby men in the Civil Service at a certain stage have the opportunity of transferring to the legal side, and getting some study of the law, might have been adopted to some advantage in connection with these Colonial territories. I had intended to deal with sentences on natives, but I pass that over, though I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us some assurance with regard to facilities for appeal, and for the natives to obtain legal representation. One reads that in both those matters the native is at a great disadvantage. I am also told by Colonial administrators in those parts that they have little or no library from which to 1502 equip themselves with the necessary knowledge to deal with the matters which come under their jurisdiction, legal matters particularly. It seems to me very necessary that those who administer these territories in distant parts should be provided with the appropriate information and the legal matter to enable them to carry out their administration satisfactorily.
Then with regard to the matter of penal reform. There are a great many points in connection with that which would take a very long time to deal with, and certainly I am not going to do so on this occasion. I think, however, there are some matters which ought to have the urgent attention of the right hon. Gentleman. For instance, there are the mental defectives who, I understand, in a great many cases are treated along with ordinary prisoners. Then as to juvenile offenders who require special treatment, I would like to know how far the instructions issued by Lord Passfield when he was Colonial Secretary have been carried into effect? Then there is one very important point which I ought not to pass over. The Labour Government accepted, certainly in principle if not in detail, that there should be some standing advisory board or committee attached to the Colonial Office to advise them with regard to these questions from time to time. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has accepted the principle, and whether it is proposed to be set up
§ Major MILNER
To advise the Colonial Office in this country on all Those legal questions, and on matters of penal reform, and so on. I would like to ask if the report of the recent Commission on West Africa is to be published, and, if not, why not? Similarly with regard to the report of the Royal Commission on the Criminal Law in East Africa. Are those reports to be published, and, if so, when? If they are not to be published, why are the public of this country not to have the opportunity of reading them? One would like to ask one or two questions with 1503 regard to the West Indies, but I must forbear, except to ask whether any steps have been taken towards closer union, and why has the Wood Report not been acted upon in various particulars? If the right hon. Gentleman, in the short time at his disposal, could answer the points addressed to him. I am sure we should be grateful.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I will do my best in the very few minutes which are left to deal with the points that have been raised. A number of detailed points were put with regard to various reports which I did not know were going to be raised, and I cannot answer the questions without notice. If the right hon. Gentleman will put questions on the Paper, I shall be very glad to give him answers. I will deal particularly with three points. First of all, as to paramountcy. Once and for all the whole question of paramountcy has been set at rest by the historical definition set down in the report of the Joint Committee, paragraph 73. I do not wish to add or detract one single word from it. It has been laid down, and it stands. As regards the suggestion that a local magistrate should be a lawyer you have to remember that in many cases it is impossible for these officers to be trained lawyers because you have to consider other qualifications which may be requisite in the case of the administrator of the area. But, broadly speaking, where there is adequate work for a trained lawyer to do, the trend is for these appointments to be held by trained lawyers.
The speeches during the Debate in regard to taxation in Kenya have largely answered each other, but if I may say without any offence the suggestion that there has been any surrender in this matter is sheer nonsense, absolute rubbish. With the approval of this House I stated that the object of our policy was that the budget should be balanced by a combination of economy and taxation. I also said that as far as I could see the fairest and most obvious practical form of direct taxation was a system of income tax, and that the proposal that the budget should not be balanced and that no new taxation should be imposed was an impossible condition to accept. But a wholly new situation arose. The people in Kenya said that they accepted the 1504 proposition that the budget must be balanced and the proposition that there must be new direct taxation to balance the budget, but they said that they had now alternative proposals which they wished to put forward and which they were satisfied would produce the revenue necessary. In those circumstances I confess that I am not ashamed to have changed my mind, especially when I found myself confronted with an entirely new situation. It would not be right for me to occupy my position if I always held my view and continued the same policy in entirely new and changed circumstances. I have nothing to apologise for and nothing to regret in this matter.
The suggestion has been made that this new taxation will not produce any revenue and that an income tax would have produced a large revenue at once. No one can say with absolute certainty what would be the yield of income tax in a country where income tax is practically new, and it is clear that the proposed new taxes will yield a substantial revenue at once while it is admitted that income tax would not yield any revenue until the end of next year. The proposed tax will yield a substantial revenue this year and next year when it is needed. I hope I have satisfied the Committee that the right course has been adopted, which is the main thing, and that my attitude has not been unreasonable. A question was put to me in regard to an interview with Lord Francis Scott. I was perfectly right in informing the House that no sort or kind of communication has been made by Lord Francis Scott and I am certain that the conversations were always treated in the same spirit in which they were held.
The hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Lunn) asked; Do the natives get compensation? Yes, they do get compensation. It is paid to them either direct or paid into a fund for the benefit of the natives. Then I was asked a question with regard to the staff reductions, and particularly with regard to reductions; n the medical staff. It is always difficult, but really you must conduct administration with some regard to what you can afford. It inevitably happens that where you have a large staff, as in many Colonies, the expenditure justified in the spacious days when prices were high cannot be continued on the same scale to-day. Of course, the services must to some extent suffer, but, if you insist on 1505 maintaining the whole of your structure of services on the same scale as was possible in very prosperous times, you really are going to knock the bottom out of the financial structure of the Colonies, and you will end, not by being able to staff a modified service, but by being unable to afford any proper service at all. It is absolutely necessary in the Colonies, as in this country, that we should take a practical view of the question.
As regards particular medical reductions, these are very carefully reviewed at home, with the assistance of the very able medical officer we have at the Colonial Office. As regards the retrenchees, who have all my sympathy, I have made it a rule that whenever any vacancy occurs for any appointment, the qualifications of those who have been retrenched are carefully considered to see if there is a man suitable, before going outside to make an appointment. That will regularly be done.
There is very little else I need say as regards gold. The question was raised whether general prospecting was a right thing to have allowed in Kenya. I had quite the best advice we could get on the subject from Sir Albert Kitson. He has a unique experience of mining, particularly in that kind of territory, and he was very definitely of opinion that it was right to open these areas to general prospecting. He said that we would get the gold located and then the companies would come along and the good claims would be taken over. That is exactly what is happening in Kenya now. It is not there any question of a large area like the Rand. I hope that as this develops it may develop in such a way that there will be plenty of room for agriculture alongside the development of the gold area. That is the ideal arrangement. There will be native labour, and the native will get a market for his produce, as he is doing to-day. That would be one of the most happy developments of mining that we could hope for.
The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson), in an interesting and very helpful speech, raised several points. He referred to technical education in Northern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia is at this moment going through a very difficult time. The country is faced with a heavy deficit. I am certain that every 1506 care will be taken, in whatever economies are made, and that services will be maintained, where they are within the financial capacity of the population. The hon. Member asked about the levying of taxes. That question is always under review and it is always the job of the District Commissioner to see whether taxes are pressing too heavily. I could not follow the hon. Member into the question of native title without more notice. There is every variety of native title in every country and even in the same country there are extraordinary varieties of native title as between one tribe and another and one area and another. Therefore, before giving an answer to the hon. Member on that point I should like to be clear as to the particular places he has in mind.
As regards the general attitude on the report of the Select Committee on East Africa, that I think was made clear in the dispatch which I published and in which, broadly speaking, I accepted on behalf of His Majesty's Government practically all the findings of the Select Committee. That dispatch is familiar, I think, to Members of the Committee, and has been accepted generally as a sound and reasoned document and, of course, that policy is being steadily pursued and carried out. Before I conclude, I must answer the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) on Malaya. He displayed, I must say, an ignorance of the system in Malaya, past, present and future, which horrified me, and he tried to draw a picture for the Committee in which we were shown as handing over to a number of rajahs complete control of the administration of the country. That is a perfect travesty of anybody's suggestion or anybody's policy, or of what is going to happen. What will happen is that the Chief Secretary who is at present a kind of conduit-pipe between the administration of these States and the High Commissioner will be eliminated.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The High Commissioner is responsible to me. The Chief Secretary is responsible to the High Commissioner. He is going to be eliminated, but in future exactly the same officers will conduct the administration 1507 of all these departments as they are being conducted to-day. They will not be rajahs, they will be British civil servants and they will be answerable directly to the High Commissioner. It is simply a question of whether it is more convenient and more practicable that the same British officers with the same responsibility should act through the conduit pipe of a Chief Secretary or be responsible directly to the High Commissioner. That is what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman calls handing over exclusive control to a number of rajahs. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman incidentally mentioned the Chinese. If he studied the situation in Malaya a little more closely he would find that in the State of Johore, which is a non-Federated State, the Chinese are the most numerous race, and neither I nor any of my predecessors have had any complaints from the Chinese of their treatment there.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
What does the right hon. Gentleman say to this paragraph:The proposals expounded by the High Commissioner for transferring considerable powers of the State Government and the reduction of the powers of the Chief Secretary will expose him to discrimination, since they appear to regard this officer as their protector against any unfair treatment by the State Government.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That seems to be quite irrelevant to the state- 1508 ment I made which was that the Chinese are the largest population in Johore, that Johore is unfederated and does not work through the Chief Secretary, and that there has never been any complaint from the Chinese at Johore.
I have only time to say, in a sentence, the attitude which the Colonial Office and the Colonial Governments' adopt towards treaties. We are prepared to take whatever course of action with regard to these treaties the trade interests and the Board of Trade in this country think would be the most convenient. The Japanese treaties has been denounced as regards West Africa, and there are great legal difficulties with regard to the Congo Basin.
§ 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 at One Minute after Four o'Clock, until Monday next, 17th July.