HC Deb 12 July 1934 vol 292 cc547-85

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £99,519, 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, 1935, for the Salaries and Expenses of the De-State of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies."—[Note: £49,000 has been voted on account.]


On a point of Order. May I ask your Ruling in order to guide us in this discussion? The Vote before the Committee is Vote 8. Are we entitled on that Vote to raise questions relating, for example, to Palestine and other regions, for which there is a specific Vote?


No. It is quite clear, and has been ruled over and over again, that when there is only one Vote down on the Order Paper matters which come under another specific Vote cannot he discussed. In this case there are two Colonial Office Votes 8 and 9 but only Vote 8 is down to-day, and only matters relating to that Vote can be discussed, and not matters coming under Vote 9.

3.44 p.m.

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)

It will probably be for the convenience of the Committee if I make a preliminary statement and later on deal with what I have no doubt will be the many and varied topics which will be raised during the Debate. I am sure that the Committee will wish to have at the outset some information about the financial position in the Colonies, which cannot be shown on the Vote and which appears in the Estimates of the Colonies. We are to-day able to record that on the financial side there is a marked improvement in the budgetary position of the great majority of the Colonies. For the year 1831–32 this House was asked to give as grants-in-aid to Colonies which could not pay their way, a sum of well over £1,000,000. In the current year, and taking into account one or two items which are rather in the nature of bookkeeping entries, the grants-in-aid which the House is asked to vote have been reduced from £1,035,000 to £505,000. That is not anything like the full story. Those who are acquainted with Colonial administration will know that it has always been the practice in the Colonies to try and create a reserve fund, carrying forward a surplus from one year to the next, in order to build up a reserve upon which the Colony can draw and avoid asking for grants-in-aid from this House, a policy which, incidentally, was challenged by one right hon. Gentleman the other day. I was rather surprised to find it challenged. It is a fortunate thing for the taxpayers of this country that this practice has prevailed, as otherwise the grants-in-aid would have been incomparably greater than they have been.

It is also worthy of note that a number of Colonies which a few years ago were drawing largely on their reserves in order to balance their budgets have produced, or are this year producing, a balanced budget: Uganda, Zanzibar, the Gold Coast, Mauritius, Gibraltar, Cyprus and Kenya. And the story does not end there, because there are other territories which, although they have not achieved a completely balanced budget, have made improvements in their finances which are at least as creditable as some of those Colonies which have balanced their budgets. Northern Rhodesia has reduced a deficit of £177,000 to an estimated deficit of £39,000. Nigeria, with an actual deficit of £1,330,000 in 1931–32, has reduced it to an estimated deficit of £335,000, a reduction of £1,000,000, and I hope that the end of the year will show a still better position. The Federated Malay States, with a deficit of nearly 11,000,000 dollars in 1932, has reduced it in the present Estimates to an estimate of under 3,000,000 dollars, and again I hope that the actual returns will show further improvement at the end of the year. This is a rather remarkable. achievement, and we must remember that is has been done in a period when some of the most important commodity prices were still falling. If you take the whole of the West Coast of Africa and, indeed, other Colonies which depend principally or to a large extent on oilseeds, ground- nuts, palm kernels, copra, and on cocoa, you find that in the last two years there has been a continuous fall in prices from what was not even then a high level of prices, and when all this is borne in mind it is a very remarkable achievement that these Colonies can make such a good financial showing.

This result has been achieved in two ways. In the first place, by the exercise of drastic economy in Estimates, in administration by cuts, and in some cases by the imposition of emergency taxation. The Committee, I am sure, would wish me to pay a tribute to the Colonial service for the way in which it has stood up to the difficulties, the cuts in salaries, and deprivations of one kind and another, and the way it has carried on the great services of the administration of health, agriculture And education, with hardly any reduction in efficiency as compared with the times when any amount of expenditure was made. I think we should bear that in mind. It is also due to the, economic policy which has been followed. If we had left a policy of laissez faire to operate in the economic field we should have been just as badly off as if we had not engaged in these drastic economies. We have taken that completely in hand.

Our economic policy, which has helped to produce these results, may be said to be threefold: In the first place the establishment of a preferential market for the Colonies in the Empire and for the Empire in the Colonies; in the second place international agreements, where those could be obtained, which would bring about a balance between production and consumption and raise the deplorably low level of commodity prices; thirdly, efficient production And marketing so that the research which is going on all the time may be available to and applied by the producer, both in growing his crops and in the sale of them. I would add a corollary to that, the establishment of what I might call an intelligence system—to use an Army term—so that the experience which any one colony has got or is obtaining in research stations anywhere may be made available to all, so that information as to world conditions and world markets and the trend of world prices may be available. to Colonial Governments and producers all over the Empire, and they can gain the knowledge on which development can be founded.

For a moment or two let me develop each of those parts of our policy. Since Ottawa not only has a preference to the widest extent been given by this country, but the Dominions and India are according preference to the Colonial Empire as a whole and are receiving preference in Colonial markets. That has meant two things. It has meant, first, a wholly new sense of security for the Colonial producer in regard to his principal crops. Sugar, tea, cocoa, coffee, tobacco, and timber—all these commodities are now securing a firm and preferential market in this country and in most of the Empire. But everyone will admit that one of the dangers of a Colony dependent on a single crop is that, owing to climatic conditions, some natural disaster or even a temporary slump in world prices, that commodity may suffer and the Colony suffer in consequence. It has, therefore, been axiomatic that we should, in Colonies largely dependent on one principal crop, seek to establish an alternative crop. That is an extraordinarily easy thing to say, but a much more difficult thing to persuade people to do. If you are to persuade people to establish a crop you must give them some certainty that there will be a market for it. Crops which are principal crops in one territory may be subsidiary crops in another. Bananas, the great staple in Jamaica, are now developing as subsidiary in Trinidad, in British Honduras and in other parts of the West Indies. Citrus, the basic crop in Palestine, is developing as a very valuable crop in Cyprus.

Then you get wholly new openings which flow from these developments, which make the merchant and dealer look for a source of supply equally good, without any duty upon it. Let me give two or three examples. Essential oils, geranium and sweet-smelling things like lavender; pyrethrum, which makes destructive things for bugs; and so on, were previously drawn almost entirely from foreign countries. Now that there is a preference you have encouraged the producer by encouraging admission into this country. I travelled to Kenya with the partner in a great chemical firm who was going out to East Africa to see whether it would not be good business for him to help to finance stills for essential oil production in East Africa and Zanzibar. Another thing is tanning extract. All over Kenya to-day you find natives cutting wattle, which has suddenly become profitable to them. Something like £70,000 a year is made by the natives by cutting wattle, which manufacturers in this country have found makes just as good extract as is got from bark imported from foreign countries, now subject to duty.

One more example. Everyone, not least the lady Members of the House, knows how important snake skins have become as an article of attire. Many shoes are made of this rather flamboyant material, and I sincerely hope that the fashion will last. We have been quick to seize upon that fashion. From Nigeria they are now going to adorn the elegant feet of women in this country with the skins of pythons. Indeed, so keen is now the trade in pythons that the Emir of Gwandu on his visit to England. informed me only the other day that he was about to issue an order for a close time to be observed for pythons in the breeding season. You may say that that is a small thing, but it is extraordinarily interesting and important just to think of the link between the industrial market in this country and a far distant province in Nigeria. Those are the kind of things that are really worth while in something more than a material sense. As time goes on in an uncertain world, with restrictions of one kind and another coming up against us, the importance to the Colonies of the United Kingdom market, and to the United Kingdom of the Colonies, will become greater and greater. So much for preference.

Then there is the next factor, agreements in order to get a balanced production and supply and to improve prices. That is enormously important to those Colonies which are dependent upon a particular product. It is very important for this country too, because our whole trade depends on a reasonable price. It makes an enormous difference to the labour employed and to the wages paid, and consequently to the purchasing power of the people. Take one example. Take Ceylon. Even when prices were much lower than they are today, rubber and tea represented three-quarters in value of the exports of Ceylon. What an enormous advantage it is to that country to have its two great exported products covered by effective schemes!

There are three schemes which are in successful operation and to which I would like to refer. That for tin was first regarded with some scepticism in certain quarters, but, after the first three years, for which it was in force the scheme was unanimously readopted for a further period. Since it is very elastic, increased production can come along to meet increased demand. You have always got to consider the interest of the consumer, and, therefore, you must be able to make your production respond to any market demand. The scheme has put up the price of tin to a remunerative level, and it has kept the price steady, which is an enormously important thing for manufacturers. Any manufacturer in this House will agree that the last thing you want in raw material is for the price to be going up and down. You want a steady price level. The scheme has raised the price and kept it steady and constant.

The tea scheme, which incidentally, we should never have got, I think, but for the restoration of preference, is now working admirably. No consumer has objected. Production has been curtailed, but not largely. It is now, I think, 87½ per cent. of the production in the basic year after having been fixed at 85 per cent. in the initial period, but the difference is that before the scheme came into operation there was cut-throat competition, and every company, even a well-managed company, found it impossible to make profits, that is not so now. Moreover the scheme has meant also, a revenue from Income Tax, it has given increased purchasing power by reason of this payment of dividends and it has helped enormously the people in Ceylon and India as well as the people in this country.

I come to rubber. It has taken a very long time to get an effective scheme. Long negotiations took place first between representatives of the trade in different countries, and then between the Governments. It has taken a long time because we were determined upon two things: first, that we would not go into a scheme which we were not satisfied was comprehensive and covered every country where there were producers, or potential producers. We are satisfied that we have a scheme administratively possible to work, and elastic in its readiness to respond to increased demand. We were also determined that we must have a, scheme so fully worked out that action could follow immediately upon a decision to take action. Nothing could have been more unfortunate than if it could have been said that we had agreed upon the outline of a scheme, but that we must have three or four months to get it into working order. It would have meant stocks piling up, and by the time the scheme came into operation, an entirely different situation would have arisen We got to the stage when, as the Committee knows, within a few weeks of the decision being announced, the scheme was able to be carried out in all the countries concerned. In that scheme, as the Committee also knows, we have made the interesting innovation of associating with the committee of control which operates the scheme representatives of the great consuming interests in different countries.

If I may go from the larger to the small, I will mention another scheme. It relates to sea island cotton. There are certain industries in the islands of the West Indies, and this is one of them, to whom the existence or non-existence of a market makes an enormous difference. Those islands have got together and agreed upon what I may call a cartel scheme to limit the amount to be put on the market. Associated with them are enterprising firms in the textile trades here who are using this material. I wear it. It is most excellent; I commend it to everybody. It is cool, cheap and silk-like. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not show a sample?"] I might put one in the Library, though I do not know whether it would be in order. What has been done in this case on a small scale is a good example of an arrangement of this kind.

We are proceeding on these lines. We are seeking to improve production and marketing, particularly by natives, in all these Colonies. Improvement in production and improvement in marketing have got to go together, applying the results of research and experience, the aim being to get your native, in the first place, to grow the best type of product, and, having grown it, to assist him to get the best price for it. That is going on everywhere all the time, and many Members of the House who have toured different Colonies will testify to it. On the production side we have learnt that if you tell a man a thing, he is a little sceptical, but that if he sees it, he will believe it. The work which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) began is going on intensively to-day. He used to lay great stress on the principle that if you are to teach these people, you have to show them, and we now have demonstration farms for the men and what, I think, is equally valuable—the little school plot. Education and agriculture are linked together. It is absolutely fascinating to go about those Colonies and see the thing. Wherever you go you find this happy relationship of education and agriculture.


What about Cyprus?


Cyprus, I understand, is out of order.


Surely any British Colony is in order on this Vote?


On this point of Order, may I raise this question? I imagine that the actual affairs of any Colony that come under Vote 9 would not be in order, but the general administration policy of the Colonial Office, I take it, may be touched upon?


May I put this point? Are we not discussing the Colonial Office Estimates, and is not the Minister's salary likely to be under discussion Is it not possible, therefore, for someone to move a reduction, and does not that give the opportunity of raising the whole of the administration of the Colonial Empire by the Colonial Office?


It has been pointed out to me that we should keep strictly to Vote 8, the Colonial Office Vote, that is, the salaries and other expenses of the Colonial Office, and that that rules out automatically any references to Votes 9 and 10. That being so, any reference to Cyprus and the other Colonies would be out of order.


Would it not be right to say that I should be out of order if I referred to grants-in-aid of Cyprus? The only item in Vote 9 with regard to Cyprus is the grant-in-aid about which I was going to say nothing. The administration of Cyprus, I think, comes on this Vote. I must admit that I think Palestine comes under a different head.


Is not the position of Cyprus exactly the same? Under Vote 8 we are entitled to discuss the salary of the Secretary of State, but, as I understand from your Ruling, we are ruled out from discussing Nyasaland, Somaliland, British Honduras, Palestine, Trausjordan and other territories mentioned in Vote 9. I do not know why we should be ruled out from discussing Palestine apart from defence. I submit to you that your Ruling merely rules out the actual items in the Vote.


I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is right. On this Vote for salaries of the Colonial Office all questions of policy arise, whereas under Vote 9 grants-in-aid arise. It would, I think, be quite out of order, as Vote 9 is not on the Paper, to discuss whether there should or should not be this or that grant-in-aid, but I submit that it would not be out of order to discuss whether it is or is not a proper thing in Cyprus to engage in agricultural development.


I think that the Chairman has ruled that the discussion must take place on Vote 8. Where that Vote has reference to the other matters under Votes 9 and 10, then they would be in order, but not otherwise. Palestine, of course, would be out of order.


But we should be in order, I submit, in discussing the general policy in relation to any territory excepting in so far as that policy involves grants-in-aid, whether military or otherwise, which figure in Vote 9.


May I point out that in previous years we have been governed very strictly in this matter, and not allowed to raise on the general Vote subjects referred to in the special Vote. It arises more especially under the Home Office, where it has been frequently held to be impossible to raise any question of the police on the salary of the Secretary of State. This is precisely an analogous case. We cannot raise subjects relating to Palestine or Cyprus under the salary of the Secretary of State. The remedy lies with the Opposition to put down whatever Vote they wish to discuss, and thereby concentrate the Debate wherever they want it.


Should we not test it in this way I Suppose Vote 8 had not been put down, but Vote 9 had been, the discussion would be limited to what is under Vote 9. If that were so the only thing we should be allowed to discuss on Vote 9 would be whether there should or should not be grants-in-aid and how they should be used. We should be quite out of order on Vote 9 in discussing matters not relating to grants-in-aid. If other matters relating to say, Cyprus, may not be discussed on this Vote, they may not be discussed at all. In that case I think I may make a reference to Cyprus.

The real problem in Cyprus is the problem of agriculture. Incidentally I should like in passing to refer to the antiquities in the island which we are doing our best to preserve, and to pay a tribute to Lord Mersey and his colleagues and all those who are generously helping in the work of maintaining and restoring these antiquities which are among the most interesting to be found anywhere in the world. But in Cyprus as everywhere else the man we have to look after is the tiller of the soil. There has not been in the past, in Cyprus, for various reasons that decentralisation which was necessary, but we have now made a beginning and decentralisation is taking place. Demonstration farms are being established. Only a few weeks ago a Cypriot came to me and told me that our agricultural policy in Cyprus was the best thing which had been done there for years. The establishment of these demonstration farms in the island will enable the farmers to see the best kinds of crops to grow and the best methods of doing so.

The same kind of thing, I am glad to say, is going on in Malta which again was singularly neglected under a so-called national ministry, in those matters which really concern the people. In Malta absolutely nothing had been done for agriculture, but there has been a change of circumstances and steps are now being taken to deal with the problem. The first thing I did was to get the agricultural adviser to the Colonial Office to go out to Malta and to get down to the agricultural prob- lems of the island on the spot. He has presented several most excellent recommendations, and with the help of the Colonial Development Fund, and with the approval of the Treasury, we propose to take certain steps. We propose to have a trained Englishman as adviser in agricultural marketing and to establish a fund for the purpose of encouraging the marketing of products in the United Kingdom market. We also propose to establish a Government stock farm and experimental station, in order that the proper breeds of cattle, swine, poultry and so forth may be made available for the people in that island. We further propose to tackle on a larger scale a problem which up to now has only been dealt with by the generosity of an individual Maltese Professor, Sir Themistocles Zammit and some others, and that is the protection of goats against undulant fever infection. That is an enormously important thing in Malta, and when one becomes directly responsible for the government of Malta, one realises that it is vital to the future of the island. Every one is aware that the only way in which to settle it properly is on the lines of trying to find some method of inoculation of the goats. We are going to put that matter in hand at. once and I think that our administration of Malta on those lines will compare not unfavourably with the administration which preceded it.

One finds the same kind of policy as that which I have outlined in reference to Cyprus and Malta going on throughout the whole Colonial Empire. I saw it everywhere in East Africa and it is going on in West Africa also. We see improvement both in the production and the marketing of cocoa, but its most useful development both there and elsewhere—and I allude particularly to West Africa—is in connection with timber. I mentioned this matter a year ago. We are now developing timber production in West Africa. The freedom of these timber imports from the 10 per cent. duty means that timber merchants in this country are extraordinarily keen on getting Empire timber wherever it is suitable. In the past we had the timber, but we did not know the proper methods of cutting it and marketing it. We have had our officers from the Colonies brought home for periods of training with British firms in the proper methods of dealing with timber. They are going hack now and are already beginning to do admirable work. We are also teaching the native administrations how to use their timber to the best advantage—a lesson which will redound greatly to their financial advantage as well as to the general good.

So it goes on throughout all these territories. The Sultan of Sokoto and the Emirs of Kano and Gwandu, who recently visited this country, told me how they appreciated keenly the value of the improved production and marketing of the very valuable morocco leather, the foundation for which, I understand, is obtained from the red goats of Nigeria. They told me that, acting entirely on their own initiative, they sent for every butcher in their territories and the butchers came up in relays and were taught how to deal with the skins from which the leather is manufactured. The markets are inspected, and if any skin comes into a market in an unsuitable condition, the butcher responsible for it is called up and given an unpleasant quarter of an hour.

Let me take two examples out of many of the policy which we are pursuing, first of improved production and then of improved marketing. The first is the case of coffee in Uganda. I have seen for myself the great improvement which has taken place in production as a result of the natives having learned from our teachers the best methods of dealing with the crop. Incidentally, we have learned something from the natives in connection with the traditional use of elephant grass to prevent erosion. Science to-day has found this method to be most effective and thus we have an interesting example of modern science and an old custom working in together. With the improvement in production, steps have also been taken to organise the marketing through a single Government agency with the object of securing the best price.

The second example which I would give is that of cloves in Zanzibar. That Protectorate is almost dependent upon the clove crop in connection with which there have been losses, almost undoubtedly due to inadequate marketing methods. The clove crop is in demand throughout the world for various purposes. The spice trade requires a very high quality. Java requires a second quality and America requires a lower grade but the tendency has been for the whole crop to be lumped together and sold at a uniform price which has meant selling at the lowest price. We are now proposing through our Clove Association, to grade the cloves so as to ensure that the best price shall be obtained for the best kind of article, and a very great improvement ought to take place in the returns which the natives realise from this crop. That is our plain duty to the natives. It has been suggested that if we do this we are in some way impinging on the legitimate functions of Indian or native traders. In the first place, as I have said, it is our plain duty. In the second place, what is the function of a trader in that country if not that of a purveyor? He undoubtedly performs a valuable function as a seller of imported commodities and it is to his interest that the purchasing power of the people should be as high as possible. If they are getting an adequate price for their products their purchasing power will go up and therefore, so far from interfering with the proper functions or with the real interests of the trader by developing these marketing schemes, our policy will have a contrary result.

In connection with these policies, I would refer to what I have called the subsidiary provision of intelligence. When I was working out a policy of preference in preparing for the Ottawa Conference, I found that it was absolutely essential to know what each Colony was producing, where it was selling its products, what it was buying and where it was buying, and then to get that information collated on what I may call a commodity basis, so that one could see at once where in the Colonial Empire we were producing any given commodity in greater or less quantity than this country, or the Empire or the world required. Without such information. it was quite impossible to decide upon the markets in which to expect expansion and those in which we would have to look for ultimate contraction. I therefore got out what at Ottawa we called our "Bible" in which all that information was available. I may say that the Dominion representatives found it exceedingly useful in their negotiations with us.

Then it was said to me by Members in this House and by people outside: "Having done this for your own purposes, would it not be useful to keep it up-to-date and thoroughly comprehensive so that it would be available throughout the Colonies and throughout the Empire, for those connected with administration, traders and others?" That suggestion we have carried out, and the result is this colossal volume which I have here. I have had very little part in its preparation myself. That has been the work of others and it is only the idea for which I can claim credit. But this volume gives for the first time a complete survey of the production of the Colonial Empire and a complete review of the markets in which that production is sold. It also gives full details as to the financial position and structure of the various parts of the Colonial Empire. Now that the work has been started, I propose to have it reviewed in each Colony each year, so that there may be available all the time a complete and up-to-date survey.

I know that various questions will be raised by hon. Members in this Debate which I shall do my best to answer later on, but there is one matter which, I think, it well to refer to now, and that is the Kenya Land Report. We have taken the course of publishing the views of His Majesty's Government with that report which received very careful consideration from the Government here. My colleagues and I went into it with much attention and we thought it would be convenient to publish concurrently with the report the White Paper which is in the hands of hon. Members. That White Paper serves the double purpose of giving what is, I hope, a not inaccurate summary of the more important points in the report and also the decisions of the Government thereon. Everybody in this country and in Kenya owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to this commission. I knew that I was asking them to undertake a pretty large task. I had no idea of the enormous amount of time which the inquiry would occupy if it were to be done with the fullness with which they have done it. They examined no fewer than 736 witnesses, besides many papers and memoranda. Of those witnesses, nearly 500 were natives, and most of them were examined in Baraza so that other natives could hear their evidence and so that the commis- sion could form an impression of how far the evidence was in conformity with general sentiment and opinion. The members of the commission were highly qualified for their task. The chairman had had high judicial experience, which was an important consideration, and he had also had the unique experience of presiding over a very complicated land inquiry in Southern Rhodesia. Everybody agreed that he was an ideal chairman. Mr. Hemsted was a very experienced provincial commissioner with a great knowledge of the country, and he had given years of his life to the public service. Captain Wilson was a farmer in Kenya, highly respected and a model employer of labour, a man of great ability, soundness of judgment, and kindness of heart.

The commission have presented a unanimous report, and I hope that it is some recompense to them after their great labour to find with what a large measure of appreciation their report has been received in both Kenya and this country. The report divides itself broadly into two parts, the first dealing with the question of land, and the second dealing with all the details of the Native Lands Trust Ordinance. As will be seen from a study of the more than 300 pages of the report which deal with the question of the reserves, the commission examined with meticulous care every claim, historical, legal and equitable, which could be or was advanced and adjudicated upon them; and examined with extraordinary care what are and what are likely to be the economic requirements of the future.

They make recommendations of very large additions to the reserves. They recommend that, to meet what I may call claims as of right, 1,474 square miles should be added. They also recommend that 1,155 square miles should be added to various reserves to meet present or future economic requirements of particular tribes. An interesting recommendation is that other great areas in different parts of Kenya, totalling 939 square miles, should be set aside for native use but should not be allocated to particular tribes. They lay down what I think everyone will admit is the very wise condition, that where land is added to meet future economic requirements, as distinct from the land which is given as compensation for claims as of right, it should be made subject to con- ditions of economic user. Everybody who has seen the conditions or has read this report and similar reports, must be impressed by the great importance of the condition that where land is added it should be wisely and economically used. The Government approve of these large additions to the reserves. A number of exchanges of land are recommended, but no one here is competent to express an opinion on them, and it will be agreed that it is reasonable they should be gone into in detail by the district and Provincial Commissioners in order to make sure that the detailed exchanges are in every case the most convenient. In saying that this will be done, it must not be understood that I commit myself to all the additions by way of exchange that are recommended. They require detailed investigation on the spot.

In making these great additions, there are two considerations which we must have in mind. In the first place, we could not have had a fairer or more exhaustive inquiry than that which was made by the commissioners who have drawn up this report. In the second place, these recommendations for great additions of land stand as a whole. It would be impracticable in a great settlement of this kind, after the recommendations made by these impartial men, for anyone here, however competent, to say, "I disagree with this or that bit; you ought to have added a little more here or a little less there." Everyone has his own predelictions and there will be plenty of people who will advance criticism of one kind and another about this or that area. The whole object of this inquiry was to get finality and certainty in this matter. I am sure nobody in this Committee would attempt to go into detail and venture to say that he knew better than the Commission. If criticism of that kind be made, it will reopen the whole inquiry and undo the enormous benefit that has been gained from this tremendous piece of work.


Will the land which is to be added to the reserves have to be bought; if so, how will it be bought?


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will remember that a great deal of the land is in the Government's own hands. The Commission recommend that certain pur- chases should be made. It will be out of order for me to go into those on this Vote, but they are in the White Paper, and the Government will ask the House at some future time to sanction a contribution towards the Carrying out of this report. I did not refer to this point, as I thought I should be out of order on this Vote because a Supplementary Estimate will be required. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman may take it that we propose to implement the findings of the Commission and to make these great additions to the reserves, and, where this involves the purchase of land, it will be carried out.


Will it be carried out at our expense, or will there be a loan for which the colony will be responsible?


Part of the expense will fall on the colony. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has no doubt read the White Paper—


I have not.


I was discussing this with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on the assumption that he had made himself acquainted with the White Paper. I thought he was touching on a matter which has been in the knowledge of the House for many weeks, but I was wrong. I certainly shall not transgress the Rules of the Committee if I suggest that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should first read the report and then read the White Paper, from which he will gather the financial proposals.

The Commission make what I think is another wise recommendation. It is that the boundaries of the reserves as expanded by these great additions and the boundaries of the European Highlands shall be laid down by Order-in-Council. Frequent anxiety has been expressed that once land is put into a reserve people shall feel certain about it and it shall not be the subject of change. That is fair, and the Government accept wholeheartedly the recommendation made by the Commission that the boundaries as extended in this way shall be confirmed by Order-in-Council, which will give permanent security for the boundaries. I do not want to be committed at this moment to all the details of the amalgamation of reserves which the Commission recommend. I am sure the Commission are sound in the general principle that the reserves are in compartments which have been too watertight in the past. The boundaries between reserves were laid down in an arbitary manner, and. it is sometimes difficult to find out why they were put where they are. Anyone who reads this report and sees what the Commission says about interpenetration as between one tribe and another—a most desirable thing to encourage—and the development of individual ownership within these tribes, will agree that it is desirable that infiltration and development should not be held up by having these watertight compartments, which do not conform to native desire and development or to the realities on the spot.

I pass to the second part of the Commission's report. They examined with the greatest care the Native Lands Trust. Ordinance and made one fundamental criticism on which is based all their recommendations. It is that the Ordinance fails sufficiently to distinguish between the function of protection and the function of management. The function of protection is the function of the board, but the day-to-day function of management is the work of the district commissioners and Government officials on the spot. There is nothing really new in that recommendation which they make. In a letter appended to the Report of the Hilton Young Commission, three men who knew the subject well, Sir Reginald Mant, Sir George Schuster and Mr. J. H. Oldham, laid it down that: The first and principal need, which may be prescribed as the protective need, is to fix the areas to be set aside, and provide secure protection for the preservation of the beneficial rights over such areas to the natives. The second and almost equally important need, which we will call the constructive need, is to provide for the actual use of land in such a manner as will be of the greatest benefit to the natives..… It is not sufficient merely to reserve the land under the dead hand of a rigid and unalienable legal restriction, and it is a necessary consequence of these considerations that a measure which aims at preserving the beneficial use of the land to the natives must include regulation for handling it. I think everybody will agree that those two functions were not adequately provided for in the old Land Trust Ordinance. The result has been a lack of elasticity which is administratively very inconvenient and has worked to the detriment of the natives. It tended to ignore what is becoming increasingly important, namely, individual rights, and it saddled this unfortunate board with a mass of administrative details that it was wholly incompetent and unable to discharge, and which in fact it did not attempt to discharge. If it had attempted to discharge the whole of these functions the whole business would have broken down.

The Commission say, in the first place, as regards the division of responsibility, "Let us divide the question into major and minor. Let the board be responsible for the larger matters, the bigger questions of policy, the larger leases, the terms on which licences will be given, the bigger questions of water rights, and so on." My catalogue is not exhaustive. Moreover, if they think that the reserves are not being developed to the best advantage of the natives, they are to have the right to make representation to the Governor or Secretary of State, but the hundred and one detailed matters should be the function of the people who are there to do it, namely, the officers of the Government, and it will be generally accepted that that is a very sound and practical division of functions.

Now I come to one matter on which a recommendation was made by the Commission with which the Government here are not in agreement. They recommended that there should be substituted for a local board a London board. We have given consideration to this matter, and the Cabinet have arrived at a very definite conclusion, and that is that that proposal would be constitutionally unsound and practically unworkable. It must have been considered by my hon. friends opposite when they were forming the Native Lands Trust Board, and I have no doubt they felt, as we in this Government have felt. On the constitutional side this recommendation was made under a complete misapprehension of the functions of the Privy Council. The suggestion is that the board in London should be responsible to the Privy Council. Such a thing is not possible, but is it not obviously right that the ultimate responsibility must rest with the Secretary of State responsible to this House It is quite inconceivable that this House should deprive either the Secretary of State or itself, which is much more important, of the power to exercise that responsibility. It is essential that on any question of administration or policy this House should have the right to hold the Secretary of State responsible. If that is once laid down, then the idea that a board should be established in London, independent of the Secretary of State or the House of Commons, is obviously unconstitutional and impracticable.


This matter is of very great importance.


It is indeed.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how the procedure set forth in the recommendation would ultimately differ from the existing arrangement?


I think it would differ entirely, because a board responsible to the Privy Council would seem to have no sort of relation to the Secretary of State or to this House at all. But let me come to the practical side of this matter. How on earth could a board in London do the job which the Commission recommend that this board should do? It has got to approve of leases of land of more than 10 acres, subject to a power to delegate it to the Chief Native Commissioner up to 50 acres; it has got to be responsible for approving the setting aside of areas of more than 100 acres; it has got to be responsible for or to be consulted on all major questions affecting water rights; it has got to approve or to be consulted on the general principles on which licences are granted from time to time; and it has got generally to supervise and to be able to make representations to the Governor, and if necessary to the Secretary of State, on the whole broad policy of development. How on earth could a board sitting here in London do that? Frankly, I do not understand it. It has got to be in constant touch with the officers and the Government and the Chief Native Commissioner, it has got to be able to consult with the local native councils and so on, and I simply do not understand how the board could possibly function. I know that one of two things would happen. Either it would be absolutely impotent, or you would have the most interminable delays. If it attempted to discharge its functions as it should do, it would find within a very few weeks that it was no good sitting in London and it would have to transfer its sittings to Kenya. Therefore, I think it is of the greatest importance, and we have given to it the most careful consideration. I discussed this matter with the Government in Kenya before I came home, and I think it is indeed a very important question, but I am bound to say—and I am stating here the carefully considered judgment of the Government—that we believe that no only would such a proposal be constitutionally inconvenient in regard to this House, but that it would be practically quite impossible, and we are satisfied that the board should be a board in Kenya. I would observe on the question of security, on which some stress was laid, that we must not overlook the fact that the great element of security is going to be provided by the boundaries of the reserves being defined by the Order in Council, which the Board cannot touch at all. All the recommendations as regards the Native Lands Trust Ordinance will take a great deal of drafting, and much time will have to he occupied in preparing the amended Ordinance, but we thought there was no doubt that first of all the people should know at once that these additions were going to be made to the reserves so that there would be no doubt as to the broad line of policy to be adopted.

In one matter immediate local legislation was required. The Committee will see that the Commission recommend an alternative method for the granting of mining leases. I need not go into this now but they give very full reasons, and very convincing reasons, I think, that that procedure is likely to be not only in itself more convenient but much more consonant with native sentiment and native wishes. We accept that, and have given instructions that an ordinance shall be introduced forthwith in order to enable mining leases to be granted in the way recommended by the Commission. I may say that I have had the advantage of being able to submit a draft of that legislation to Sir Morris Carter, in order to make sure that with the drafting of what must be a technical measure he was in complete accord. That legislation will be carried through as rapidly as possible, in order that the natives may have the benefit of the more convenient method, if they wish to use it.

Let me add a word about the mining areas. I add it now from first-hand experience, and I should like to say that every single word which I have said in this House on information received is, as hon. Members who have visited Kenya will know, absolutely accurate. If I may respectfully say so, I have never heard more nonsense talked about any subject than about what is going on in the mining areas. I have heard accounts given—Members in this House will recollect them —by people who certainly had not been to Kenya, or who if they had been must have an extraordinary imagination, of how we were going to create a second Rand, and great areas of desolation from which natives were going to be evicted. Not a single native has been disturbed in one of them, and what surprised me about the whole matter is not the amount of the disturbance, but the smallness of it. The greatest anxiety among the natives was in the early stages, when a very large number of prospectors were staking out claims. That is the kind of thing that causes anxiety. That fact was not overlooked by the Government officers on the spot and they set themselves to explain exactly what was happening or likely to take place, with the result that there is a relationship between the prospectors and the mining representatives and the natives which affords an absolute protection.

There has been extraordinarily little disturbance, and, where it has taken place, there has been the most generous compensation. I can tell the House of one rather amusing incident that I saw myself. It will indicate that compensation is paid on a scale which, I have said more than once in this House, landowners in this country would probably be glad to receive. With all the generous treatment of the British farmer, there is nothing to compare with the scale of native compensation. On one occasion I saw some rather sickly looking banana trees on one of the mining locations. I said, "They are not looking very well." The reply was, "They are not. It was known that we were going to dig a trench, so these were removed from the native garden last night and put where the trench is to go, but, as we did not see them put here we shall have to pay compensation."

It has been said that nothing will grow; that the land is a sort, of Sodom and Gomorrah. What nonsense. I saw maize growing on filled in trenches better than where the land had not been cut up. The roads have been enormously improved, and a valuable market is being created, and employment which is readily accepted. The Church has taken an interest in this matter. I am sure the House will accept from me that what I am giving is a true account. But lest I should be thought to be a blind or prejudiced witness let me read to the House the opinion of a bishop. Some bishops express opinions on Kenya without knowing it, but this bishop, the Bishop of Croydon, saw Kenya before he expressed an opinion. At the end of his letter to the "Times," dated 16th May, he says: I would like, if I may, to make two further observations based on my own experience on the spot. One is that up to the present time no single native has been forcibly displaced on account of the gold-mining operations. He and his hut, and at any rate part of his plantation, have remained in the midst of the trenches and the pits. The other and more general observation I would venture to make is that if it is right at all, as I personally am convinced that it is, to get gold out of the earth, even though the surface is native owned, then everything that can be done is being done both to ensure justice to the original African owners and to see that native interests in the whole area shall not suffer. I commend that statement, written by a man who spent days on the spot investigating it, to some of those who are ready to attack the Government and myself on this subject. Looking to the future as far as one can tell (I am not going to advise as to whether there is or is not going to be a valuable goldfield), further developments are not likely to be very different from the preliminary operations. You have not here a territory with a vast area of gold running continuously. You have a series of narrow seams at a considerable distance from one another, some apparently very rich. It is most probable that in the development you will have what I predicted more than a year ago may be one of the most fortunate developments in mining that have ever taken place, a development which will not displace the local natives but will afford employment on the spot, creating remunerative employment and increasing the market for what they produce. That it seems to me will be a very happy outcome. Kenya has its fair share of problems and has come in for a fair share of criticism in the past. So long as the criticism is constructive and based on knowledge nobody objects to it. It will always be welcome. But criticism which, if I may respectfully say so, is bred by prejudice out of ignorance, is not criticism to which anybody need pay an endue regard. I would appeal to all those who are interested in this matter to realise that above all what the people in that country are anxious to obtain is the certainty that breeds a sense of security, confidence and co-operation.

5.9 p.m.


May I, first of all congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his recovery from the dangerous illness which he had in East Africa. Not long ago we were receiving alarming bulletins about his condition, but from the speech which he has delivered to-day I think we may say that no traces of the illness are left now. It must have been a disappointment that he was unable to complete the programme he set out to perform. I want to say that I have been slightly surprised at his speech and especially at the concluding remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. He seems to think that when he speaks to the Committee he should be so dogmatic that the last word has been said when he has spoken, and that there are not two sides to any question. That is how I interpret much of what he has said during the last quarter of an hour of his Speech.

This is a very important Debate, and it is perhaps the most placid Debate that we get on any estimates that we have to discuss. It is a very good thing that the Committee has been able to overcome what threatened to be a restriction upon the Debate at the beginning. When we take the Colonial Estimates each year we imagine that it will be possible to discuss any part of the Colonial Empire. That is what we have done in previous years, and the Colonial Secretary has made it possible to-day, as I understand it, for hon. Members to refer to any part of the Empire they wish. As I said, this is a placid Debate. We rarely get a division on this occasion, and it does not give an opportunity for the bitter expressions that occur when home policy is discussed in this House.


Is that not a great tribute to the successful administration of the Colonial Office?


It does not apply simply to the present Government. It was equally true under the previous Governments, but it does not follow that we must accept everything. I do not expect the Government to accept the Socialist policy in regard to the Colonies that I should wish to put forward if it were in order, hut, as we are trustees of the people who inhabit the Colonies and rave accepted the paramountcy of native Interest in the Colonies, it ought to be possible for the Secretary of State or the Colonial administration to accept many of the suggestions that are made from all parts of the House at all times to see that the interests of the Colonies and the residents there are made better than they are. I take that view in regard to the Debate that we have to-day on the Estimates for the Colonial Office. I believe a generous-minded Secretary of State could make a good deal of use of the suggestions that are made which are not destructive and which, though critical, may be constructive.

It happened three years ago that Kenya was the main feature of the Debate on the Colonial Estimates. Then we had the report of the committee which dealt with closer union with East Africa. Two years ago it was Lord Moyne's report on the financial state of Kenya, and last year it was a repudiation by the Secretary of State of the recommendation of Lord Moyne that an Income Tax should be started in Kenya and the illegal violation of what had been understood to be the position with regard to natives and their land and the gold mining that has been started there. This year the greater part of the speech has been made on the Morris Carter report which deals with land questions in Kenya, and I suppose it will occupy the premier position in the Debate to-day. It is a large volume, and it is difficult for Members of Parliament to follow these things and to become closely acquainted with them, but I should like to associate myself with what the right hon. Gentleman has said with regard to the volume the Colonial Office have published on the economic survey of the Colonial Empire. It is a very valuable one which will be very interesting to everyone concerned about the Colonies and will be a valuable book of reference. It deals not only with the agricultural position, with the area and population, but with all the possibilities of development of the natural resources and gives to us a knowledge of the Empire out there that we have not had provided in any volume before. Great credit is due to those who have produced this volume, and not least to the hon. Member for Tradeston (Dr. McLean), who is an enthusiast on this subject. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see to it that we shall have this information sooner in future, because the information in this volume only goes up to the end of 1932.

Before I come to the Morris Carter report I would like to mention a Debate in this House which took place during the absence of the right hon. Gentleman in East Africa. A Motion was before the House calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the Constitution of Ceylon. Most of us knew that that was not the purpose of those who raised that Debate, knew that Ceylon was not necessarily the centre of the picture, and that it was another aspect of the Government's policy which was being attacked. I said then, as I say now, that the Constitution of Ceylon is a new and a novel one and that we should gain longer experience of its working before holding an inquiry. I was pleased that the Under-Secretary for the Dominions took that view, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman shares it. I have since read a very long speech by the Leader of the House in the State Council of Ceylon, Sir Dom B. Jayatilaka, who, I think, gave a very able reply to the Opposition; and in the "Times" a few days ago I read an article by a correspondent lately in Ceylon in which it was said: In spite of much ill-informed criticism of government by committee in Ceylon the State Council, modelled more or less on the London County Council"— And that is a very good model just now, when the London County Council have a Labour majority— is by the general consent of those who are in a position to judge working effectively. What friction has occurred has, in large measure, been due to the desire for more self-control in the only departments which interest a large number of the elected members. It is a very righteous desire that people should seek for powers under which they can accomplish more for those whom they represent. I do not say that inquiry into the Constitution of Ceylon may not be necessary at some time, because it may be possible to extend that form of Constitution to some other part of the Colonial Empire, seeing that it is working to the advantage of the people in Ceylon, but when we do inquire into the Constitution of Ceylon, do not let us do so with the veiled object of attacking some other and disconnected subject. The right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the Morris Carter Commission's report and if one heeded what he said one would feel that it was almost impossible for anybody to hold any other opinion than that which he expressed. The commission was appointed in April, 1932, and its report has been in the hands of the Government for eight months—seven months before it was published. It was in their hands in September, and was not published until May, an unusually long interval.


Do not let us have any mystery about this. It is perfectly true that one copy was available, that which had been signed by the commissioners, and I think there was one other, on which the printer was working. The report was printed in Kenya, where printing takes longer than in this country. There was no delay in making it public, both in Kenya and here, as soon as it was ready; but it took an enormous time.


It might have been printed here. It does not take long to print a report in this country.


If it was a mistake not to print it here, that is my responsibility, but it was a Kenya document and normally would be printed there. Further, I do not think it would have been practicable to print it in this country, because it includes an enormous number of maps, and it was absolutely essential to have it printed where there was a secretary on the spot who could correct the maps and so on, and there was nobody in this country who could do that.


There would have been no difficulty in a secretary coming over here to see to the printing; but I do not raise this as a matter of importance. I am only drawing attention to the fact that the report could have been printed here as well as in Kenya, and to the fact that it was seven months before the report was published, and that is an unusually long time. To say that Members have had it in their hands for many weeks is not quite the fact, because it is not long since it was published and distributed. Before the commission began its work we made it very clear that, by reason of the constitution of the commission, we could not be bound to accept its findings. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say about this being the end of the matter as regards the land question in Kenya, he must remember that we made it clear at the beginning, and that we say the same to-day, that we do not take the view that the report is final, nor can we accept the whole of the conclusions at which the commission has arrived.

When the right hon. Gentleman allowed the illegal occupation by European miners of parts of the Kavirondo Reserve we made it clear to him and the Government that we reserved our right to repudiate that decision at any time, and we cannot accept the view of this commission that this is the final volume, that this is the final inquiry and the end of this matter. Moreover, our final decisions cannot be reached at the present time. They must be held up for some time, because the right hon. Gentleman has given an assurance, in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) on 6th June this year, that every opportunity will be given to those who are concerned with the recommendations to consider these matters before a final decision is arrived at. We welcome that declaration and we hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that it is carried out.

I can associate myself quite clearly with the right hon. Gentleman's appreciation of the work of the Commission. It is one of the features of the Colonial Office Debate that there are so many opportunities to express appreciation and to pronounce congratulation such as do not arise on other Debates. Personally, I am not so very anxious to offer congratulations to the present Government, because if there were anything I could do to bring about its downfall I should certainly do it, in any part of the Empire or any part of the world; but, all the same, this is the Debate in which one gets an opportunity to offer congratulations, and I can do that quite sincerely, even in the case of a commission of this sort, because I realise that they have endeavoured to secure all the information possible. They have taken steps to ascertain the opinion of representatives of every section of the community in Kenya, and in listening to nearly 500 native witnesses they showed extreme patience. In their report they acknowledge that the native reserves are inadequate and recommend that 1,500 square miles should be added to the reserves, and I see by the White Paper that the Government here accept that recommendation. They advise, and this Government agree, that those areas should be secured to the tribes by Order in Council, which means that they cannot be altered by the local government. That shows, what has been often said in this House, that the Government have no faith in the local government of Kenya carrying out even a declaration of this sort.

I do not intend to go into the details of this matter, or to read long passages from this report, although there are many excellent texts in it, from my point of view, which could be applied to the land question in Kenya or to the land question in this country. Although 1,500 square miles are to be added to the reserves it is disappointing to find that very little of the land which was taken away from the natives before is to be restored to them. Only a small amount of all that has been taken from the native inhabitants of that Colony is to go back to them. I see that it is only 1,500 acres, and not 1,500 square miles, which are to be added to the Kavirondo Reserves. That is all that is to be taken away from those who have taken the land from the natives during the last35 years. Further, is it not a fact that much of the land to be added to the reserves is malarial? The commission recommend that the boundaries of the Highlands which have been collared by Europeans and are in their occupation should be established for them by Order in Council.


When the hon. Gentleman says that they have been collared by the white man is he now, on behalf of the Labour party, repudiating Lord Passfield's declaration?


I am not in any way repudiating Lord Passfield's declaration, which was made in 1930, but I think it is an historical fact that this happened even before Lord Passfield's declaration. I would like to ask whether the Commission are not recommending that not only shall they be retained in their present ownership, but that the major forests of Kenya, which are some of the best lands, shall for the first time become part of the European-owned Highlands. We are pleased to see certain things in this Report. Before the Debate ends I should like the right hon. Gentleman to give us an undertaking as to whether there will be equal opportunities for all races in regard to mining.


I will give that undertaking now. Mining legislation in Kenya makes no distinction, and never has, between one race and another.


I am very pleased to hear that. The conditions under which mining is carried on place a tremendous limitation upon those who live there. Another point in the report is that land trust boards are to be set up, and the representatives upon them are to be Africans, plus the district commissioners. I am now dealing with the good points in the report, and the one I have just mentioned is a step in the right direction. I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Land Board sitting in London. The Morris Carter Commission had no faith whatever that the people in Kenya knew how to be fair. They had no confidence in Kenya's impartiality. I suggest that the Governor and the legal adviser should he members of the Central Land Board.

I have no intention of dealing with the details of the report, but there is another side to it. We should have liked to see some of the hundreds of miles of the best land in respect of soil, water and climate restored to the Africans. I have not been to East Africa, but I am speaking on instructions from people who are very well acquainted with it. I understand that on some of the white estates, not 15 per cent, of the land is cultivated, and yet less than 10 per cent, of the land to be added to the reserves is to be taken from the Europeans. With what the right hon. Gentleman said arid with what the report of the Commission says about the cultivation of the land, I entirely agree. The land ought to be cultivated if possible, and steps ought to be taken to see that the best use is made of the land, either in the Colonies or in this country. We know that Africans cannot obtain land by purchase or by any other means in the Highlands. I believe that there are only 1,500 acres which are being added to the Kavirondo.


For the sake of fairness, will the hon. Gentleman allow me to give the exact figures as to land that has been added to the Kavirondo reserves; the figure is 66 square miles.


At the moment my information is that it is 1,500 acres, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman used that figure. I do not even say that they have been added, but that they have been taken from European occupation in order to be added to the reserves.


There are two separate additions to the Kavirondo reserves. There is 66 square miles which It is recommended should be added to the reserves to supplement native territory. Apart from that, there is a recommendation as to 1,500 acres, taken out of the old forest reserves, and to be made available in the very unlikely event of some substitute land being required with regard to mining.


I was not dealing with land that was to be added to each reserve. I have left out all the tribes to whose land additions were to be made separately. The only point I was putting was that 1,500 acres were to be added to the Kavirondo reserves and would be taken from the Europeans. There is no information about land which has been offered to the Kikuyu tribe for economic development and to relieve congestion. If mining is to continue, will the Secretary of State take into consideration the waste of land caused by drainage or reef mining? He knows that there is a good deal of wastefulness involved in that. The people have no doubt suffered great losses from that form of mining, which might continue in the future more than it has done in the past.

The Labour Government's native charter in 1930 laid down that the natives' occupation of this land was for ever, but that has been violated. We believe that a lesson can be taken in regard to this matter from the Petroleum Bill which has just passed this House, and in which petroleum was declared to be the property of the Crown. It could also be laid down that gold in Kenya should be the property of the nation. There may be other minerals there, such as copper or radium, and they should be worked by the Government. We are opposed to private ownership in land, and we do not see the necessity for giving up land to private ownership in any colony. If we were in power we should be opposed to that part of the business, as it is carried on at the present time. We object to the very long leases which are made in Kenya, and which are practically equal to private ownership of the land. Leases made for 999 years are practically for ever. No lease ought to be granted beyond the lifetime of the present occupier. I know that the Government do not agree with me in that, but that would be the attitude which I should take up. I need say very little more about the report except that I hope that no tribe or section of the African community will be rushed into accepting it before they have considered it. During the last day or two I have received a telegram, as follows: We representatives Kikuyu tribe convey our sincere thanks for land commission recording lengthy evidence patiently, but strongly protest against your accepting report without giving us enough time study and lodge objection. Respectfully beg no action be taken immediately. This is signed by Koinange, who is well known and can I think speak for that tribe. He met the Commission when it was out there.


May I say, in order to clear my own mind, that we have had an inquiry by an official tribunal, before which everybody has given evidence. The native to whom the hon. Gentleman has referred was among the 487 natives who gave evidence. Is it suggested that the Commission's report, which adds to the thousands of square miles of the reserves, should not be carried out until we have consulted, or had an opportunity of consulting, every native in the whole of Kenya?


There is no need to put the matter in that way. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) put a question to the right hon. Gentleman on 6th June on this matter. He asked to be assured that the native community of Kenya had the fullest rights of conference and public meeting, in order that they could have this report discussed and understood. The right hon. Gentleman gave an assurance. He said: I am sure the Government in Kenya can be relied on to permit all proper facilities for the discussion of the report. In answer to a supplementary question by myself later, the right hon. Gentleman said: We have very able district officers in Kenya who, I am sure, will give all information on all Matters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th June, 1934; col. 921, Vol. 290.]




We do not interrupt the Minister.


Is it in order, when I desire to ask a question of the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn), who with perfect courtesy is always ready to give way, for some hon. Member to complain that I am interrupting?


I am not complaining of the right hon. Gentleman. The unfortunate part of such interruptions arises from the knowledge which may be in possession of those who have lived or spent a good deal of their time in the Colony. That circumstance makes their interruptions not always as welcome as they might be, if one had an intimate knowledge such as the interrupters possess. The natives should have genuine and sympathetic assistance so that they may understand all that is involved in the recommendations of the report. We do not regard as final the report on the subject of the Kenya land question. We shall reserve our right when we are in power—as we shall be, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, and as most hon. Members know who have intimated that they want to get out and not fight in the next General Election—to alter what may be done as a result of this report. We are satisfied that in many ways the report is not in the interests of the native. There are no civil liberties in Kenya for the native, and no equal rights with others. When the time comes to which I have referred, and perhaps before that, there will have to be a change in the method of the Government. I will leave the report now to other hon. Gentlemen who want to discuss it. We shall have to return to the report and its recommendations before anything of a final nature can be accepted with regard to it.

It is rather remarkable that although we have scores of territories, only a few of them are discussed when the Colonial Office Vote is before the Committee. Matters concerning other individual Colonies may be raised, but there is one thing that I want to raise with regard to all Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman, towards the commencement of his speech, said that all the services—education, health and other social services—in the Colonies were being carried on almost without reduction, but I would like him to give us further assurances that that is the fact, because my information is that, while the administration is kept on with very little reduction, services of vital importance, like those of the health, education and labour departments in these Colonies, have suffered considerably. We fear that it is in those services that the economies have been imposed, and, if so, they are in a very wrong direction. We want, for instance, to see more educational facilities provided than exist to-day, so that the people may have educational opportunities which will fit them for taking over the government of their own country when occasion offers in the future. It is also vital that the health of the people should be maintained.

I notice from the Estimates that many of the grants which were made to the Empire Marketing Fund for scientific research are now being made through the Colonial Office, and I do not complain of that, because scientific research will not only mean an improvement in the health of the people, but it will mean that their economic status will be raised. It is the natives who do the work in these Colonies, some of which have had excellent labour departments, but I am informed that many of those labour departments have been seriously depleted of officers, and I want to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to look into this matter and see that, in the interests of the people, everything is done to strengthen those departments and make them more competent than they are at present.

In conclusion, I would repeat what I said at the end of my speech last year— that the question of paramount importance to our people at home are their own domestic questions. This question of the Colonies, important as it is, has not much electoral value in the constituencies of this country, but it is a vital question to the House of Commons. To the people of our country the vital question is that of their own domestic conditions, which in hundreds of thousands of homes are not what they ought to be to-day; but, so long as we have a Colonial Empire, we have a duty and a great responsibility as trustees for the welfare of the peoples of that Empire. We have accepted the policy of the paramountcy of native interests in the Colonies, and we should all seek to do what we can to cultivate their confidence in everything that we undertake. The criticisms that I have made are not made merely for the sake of criticism, but for the purpose of helping to get to the point that I want to reach, when the natives will have every right that we ourselves have or desire. Until that end has been achieved, I shall not be satisfied that we have done our duty towards the different parts of our Colonial Empire.

5.50 p.m.


Like the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) I wish to take this opportunity of congratulating my right hon. Friend on his complete recovery from his illness. It has been a source of anxiety to his friends, and it must have been a personal disappointment to him that he was unable to complete all his investigations, of some of which he has given us such an interesting account this afternoon. The Committee must have heard with much satisfaction of the greatly improved economic and financial situation of the Colonies. The recovery is remarkable, and is entirely satisfactory. In these times it is impossible to take a very long view, but, having regard to the present improved outlook for tropical agriculture generally, it is not too much to hope that that improvement may continue, and that perhaps, in the Federated Malay States in particular, when my right hon. Friend comes to review the situation in 12 months' time, he may be able to record a further considerable improvement,

I was quite fascinated by my right hon. Friend's interesting account of the multitude of agricultural, educational and other activities which are carried on by his Department, and it is pleasing to know that they are producing satisfactory results. To mention one perhaps rather small matter to which he referred, I am very pleased to learn that some experimental farms have been established in Cyprus. I think that that will be extremely useful, but I am afraid it is not quite enough. I do not know what the conditions there have been during the last few years, since I had the opportunity of seeing them myself, but in those days, as in other parts of the Middle and Far East, the real trouble of the agriculturists was that they were in the hands of usurers. One way of extracting them from those difficulties, which will remain however efficient their agriculture, might be the development, such as has already been started, of agricultural co-operative societies, who might make financial arrangements with the Loan Board, or Agricultural Bank, whereby they might be free in the marketing of their goods. Another essential thing is that the agriculturists should be protected from being swindled, as they appeared to be, in the weights of everything that they brought into the market, by the establishment of public weighing machines or some public central market where fair prices were to be obtained, where the market prices could be known, and where the actual weighing could be carried out under fair conditions.

I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend's commendation of the efforts to do something with regard to the ancient monuments of Cyprus. I hope that those in this country who are interested will give such support as they can in connection with this matter, which has now become urgent if anything is to be achieved. It is not merely a question of the making of chance discoveries, or the rifling of tombs which have been opened up the course of agricultural operations, but of preserving these wonderful monuments, which are not only of great historic importance, but are unique in their architectural and other features, and which are crumbling to dust at the present moment. If action be not taken without delay, it may well be too late to do any useful work in this direction at all. I rose really to make one or two observations with regard to the Morris Carter Report and the position in Kenya. In this connection I regret very much the enforced absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton), who has special knowledge of many of these problems, and who, indeed, from time to time has had special responsibility in connection with them. He has the advantage of knowing the background against which all these troubles and difficulties stand, and, had he been here, his advice and comments would have been valuable and interesting to the Committee.

I desire to associate myself to the full with what my right hon. Friend said about the enormous amount of work which the Commission had to perform, and the fair-minded and just way in which they have sought to carry it out. It is impossible for any Member of the House of Commons, or, indeed, for anyone at all who is not actually connected in some way with the work of the commission, fully to realise the immense work of the examination of witnesses and the difficulties of deciding between shadowy claims wrapped in the mysteries of the past, which in that country are very numerous indeed, and claims of substance, but the Report bears evidence throughout of a definite attempt to hold the balance equally between the different interests concerned. Further, and this I think really goes to the root of the business, it is extremely difficult, having regard both to the state of development of the native settlements and to the conditions of the Europeans, to forecast the future but I think that the commission, in drawing up the principles upon which the land should be divided, have succeeded in making as sound proposals as could be made, in this stage of development, for the best use and development of the land having regard to the future requirements of the native and also of the European population.

The report deals with many matters of immense importance, to one of which in particular I should like to draw attention, as my right hon. Friend did not do so. That is the recommendation of the Commission with regard to the over-stocking which is already taking place in some parts of the Colony. It is not too much to say that this diffi- culty is comparable with that of the actual delimitation of the country itself. Experience in other parts of the world clearly shows that neglect in this matter may result in reasonably good land being converted into a desert, and, if the position were allowed to drift, there would be nothing to prevent a situation such as has happened in various parts of Africa, and even in parts of Europe, which would make the Commission's work in regard to the delimitation of lands almost futile in the course of time. The report of the Commission is in some parts almost alarming. They describe the situation in one section of the country as being one of unrelieved gloom, and I want to suggest that whatever steps may be necessary to deal with this matter should be taken. It is comforting to see that one important tribe are themselves recognising the evils arising from over-stocking, and are taking some steps to combat it of their own accord.

It seems to me that, as the Commission say, the only final solution is to persuade the native to co-operate in his own salvation. I have in mind the seriousness of the position in regard to those parts of the Colony which the Commission speak of in such gloomy terms. There, it seems to me, the processes of education may be very difficult, if not impossible but whatever steps may be necessary it is clear the Government must act. I recognise in every way the value of the report, but at the same time I believe that it is not above criticism. Neither are the recommendations of the Government. If they were, they would be the only two human institutions within the range of my knowledge which are above criticism. I intend to avail myself of the right hon. Gentleman's in vitation when he said he welcomed criticism which was not born of prejudice and ignorance. With regard to prejudice. I deny that I have the slightest association with it at all. With regard to the other, it would ill become me if I made any reference to it. I have at least read the White Paper, and I think all the material sections of the report, and I have also had access to opinions on these matters which I must admit are more valuable than my own.

A long series of investigations have taken place. There was the report of the Commission presided over by the First Commissioner of Works, then there was the Hilton Young Report, and the Select Committee. I have also in mind the important Debates that took place in this House and in another place last year, and in particular the very strong appeal made by the Archbishop of Canterbury that before a final decision on these matters was reached there should be opportunity for full consideration. This White Paper presents the matter to the House not intend as a fait accompli, but as a chose jugee. There is, of course, a difference between the two. But it is a precedent which I hope will not be adopted generally. I can imagine in some cases that it might have very serious consequences. For example it would be far from helpful if this course were adopted when the Indian Joint Select Committee makes its report.

Speaking generally of the report, I see no reason why it should not be the basis of a permanent settlement of these difficulties which have been a source of anxiety to previous Secretaries of State and to the local government and have also been a source of much uneasiness from time to time to the people of this country. We have not had very much time in which to consider and to deal with these very difficult questions. The Government have had access to the report for seven months, but those who are deeply interested in the matter have only been able to give little more than a preliminary consideration to this voluminous report. The hon. Member for Rothwell referred to the position of the Kikuyu tribe. The commissioners devoted an immense amount of care and time to the whole matter, which is one of extreme complexity. I associate myself to the full with the words used by the Colonial Secretary when he deprecated criticism of these detailed local matters. It could serve no useful purpose and would be mischievous in so far as it tended to destroy respect for the local government in Kenya or other parts of the Empire if—

Whereupon, the GENTLEMAN USHER OF THE BLACK ROD being come with a Message, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair.

Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.

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