Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £20, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the charges for the following services connected with Colonial Administration in the West Indies for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1944, namely:
|Civil Estimates, 1943.|
|Class II., Vote 9, Development and Welfare (Colonies, &c.)||10|
|Class II., Vote 8, Colonial and Middle Eastern Services||10|
§ Squadron Leader Donner (Basingstoke)
I should like to express my appreciation of the assistance given by the Secretary of State in arranging this further Debate on the West Indies, a Debate which furnishes evidence, if evidence is required, of the great interest taken in the House in the Colonial Empire. I have no desire to criticise the Report of Sir Frank Stockdale. Indeed, I should like to pay a warm tribute to the ability and tireless energy of that devoted servant of the Crown. Within the limits set by the limitations of the policy of the Governments here and in the West Indies, he has accomplished a great volume of very useful and excellent work and planned much more which I hope and pray will come to fruition. The Report itself makes only a brief reference to the Anglo-American Carribean Commission. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend give some indication of the nature, significance and scope of the work of that Commission, because to my mind it represents a most valuable example of the best type of international co-operation. I welcome, too, the schemes for assistance to the aboriginal inhabitants of British Guiana, for schemes to deal with leprosy and venereal disease in the West Indies.
1415 But when that has been said, what does it all amount to? Sir Frank Stockdale, on page 82 of the Report, summarises his proposals as schemes for the general development and improvement of agricultural education, public health, water supplies, social welfare and communications, and he calls special attention on the next page to grants authorised under scheme D.13, which vary between peasant agriculture, libraries, communal wireless receiving sets, school meals, literary clubs and village water supplies—all admirable, quite admirable. But we are dealing with Dependencies where the over-population is simply appalling, where the conditions of life in some places are disgraceful, and where we shall in the immediate post-war period face a problem of large-scale acute distress unless we can devise ways and means of increasing the exports and marketing the products of the West Indies. When that fundamental fact is faced what does it come down to? It comes down to the problem of how to attract long-term capital to the West Indies, and that again is primarily a matter of guaranteeing markets and fair conditions for capital. The only alternative policy to the attraction of American as well as British capital to the West Indies is State enterprise, State loans and State subsidies. The nature and extent of such action must, of course, be decided by His Majesty's Government.
The policy, as exemplified by the Report is to concentrate upon amelioration, on social welfare schemes, subsistence agriculture, water supplies, and all the rest of it. That leaves the capitalists, American as well as British, to form their own judgment as to the probabilities of world markets. That, in my submission, is the way to attract the very worst form of capital from the point of view of the native inhabitants of a tropical or any other dependency. We do not want to attract to the West Indies short-term finance capital which is interested only in a particular crop; is uninterested in obtaining the best machinery, uninterested in long-term advertising and in the slow building up of market goodwill. On the contrary, I believe that we want to attract long-term capital and we want to do so for two purposes—for the development of main industries such as sugar, cotton, bananas, cocoa, timber, rum, coffee, and above all for the purpose of developing secondary industries and processing, not 1416 only in order to stimulate exports but also in order to meet internal local consumption.
It is generally agreed that the fundamental problem in the West Indies is that the increase of population bears no relation to the productive capacity of the islands, and, indeed the improvements foreshadowed in Sir Frank Stockdale's Report, such as improvements in health and housing which we all welcome, will, in fact, aggravate this problem because they will lead directly to a further increase in population. That, in itself, lends urgency to the plea which I am putting forward for the creation of correspondingly increased possibilities of employment for the peoples of the West Indies, and that result, I think, can only be achieved by the creation of secondary industries and processing. The answer to over-population in tropical as well as temporate climes must be industrialisation. That is a process which began before this war in South America and India. It will be slower but inevitable in Africa too. The real question before this Committee is not whether the whole world shall become more industrialised but whether in a tropical world which is rapidly becoming industrialised the West Indies are to participate, are to come in at the beginning and share in the advantages from the beginning, or are to be left behind.
Many of the obvious developments have already begun in the West Indies. In a sense rum is a development or a processing of sugar and other instances could be given. But long-term advertising of the main products still leaves far too much to be desired. Blue Mountain Coffee ought to be a household word throughout the world. It ranks with some of the best Kenya coffee as perhaps the best in the world. I should perhaps say at this point that I have no financial interest in either of the products which I have mentioned or indeed in any West Indian product. Again, the engineering world as a whole does not know the amazing qualities of purple heart and other British Guiana timbers, or the astonishing water resisting qualities of green-heart. Why is it that the engineering trade does not know of these things? It is precisely because long-term capital interested in long-term development marketing and advertising has not been attracted in sufficient quantities to the West Indies. I should, therefore, 1417 welcome any action taken by the Government to make long-term arrangements, say with the United Fruit Company of America and to interest American capital in the potentialities of the West Indies and to create conditions in which British capital also will be attracted to these Islands in the immediate post war period. If long-term capital could be attracted to them, there is room for a very varied expansion of secondary industries.
How rich such developments could be made will be seen in the variety of existing industry. The soil of Grenada has been compared with that of Java. There is balata, arrowroot nutmeg and mace, turtle, salt, pimento and lime juice, many of which could be either further produced or further processed in the islands. Why, for instance, should not arrowroot biscuits be made in the West Indies? Why should not cloves and other spices be produced? Why should not the gum of the sapodilla tree which is grown in British Honduras be developed and actually exported as chewing-gum and a market found for it in Canada, Newfoundland and South America? Again, curacao and angostura bitters are popular drinks. Why should not the West Indies produce liqueurs as has been done with success in South Africa? Again why should they not manufacture their own cocoa products? Is it inconceivable that some of the bauxite of British Guiana should leave that Colony in the form of aluminium articles? Is it inconceivable that locally-made church furnishings of cedar and satin-wood should find a place in the regard of the whole ecclesiastical world? What has been done in the Dutch and American islands and colonies could be duplicated in the British colonies. Why should there not be grape fruit bottling factories? Grape fruit juice is one of the most popular modern soft drinks. Again why should not bay trees be planted and bay rum produced and made into a valuable export? Fish canning possibilities in the Bahamas might be explored and as I have mentioned the Bahamas, may I, for a moment, turn aside to ask my right hon. and gallant Friend whether he will be so good when he replies as to give us some indication of the general position arising from the report recently placed in the Library dealing with the riots which took place 1418 in those islands last July. Then again, take the case of concrete which could be manufactured in Jamaica and in Trinidad. In the latter island there exists the oil fuel necessary for its manufacture on the spot.
If long-term capital could be attracted to these islands then indeed the West Indian market might itself be developed. Furniture such as chairs and tables has been made in the West Indies for some generations. Could not the Government give information to those people who make furniture and tell them what is required, what kind of office furniture is in demand and so develop that industry further? Similarly straw hats, baskets, brooms, Spanish drawn thread-work all could be manufactured. Lace, English and Venetian, has been made with success in Madeira to my knowledge and I see no reason why it should not be made also in the West Indies. I shall say nothing at all of the possibilities as regards plastic materials, wood pulp materials or of a rubber industry as I wish to confine my observations to the immediate practical possibilities in the years following the conclusion of this war.
What is the sine qua non, what is the essential basis of all this? It is, as I think, either State enterprise, State subsidies, State grants, or else the attraction to these islands of long-term capital, American as well as British, which is prepared to undertake the inevitable risks involved in the establishment of any new industry. Certain steps are obvious, for instance sane, cautious and far sighted planning of Imperial preference which is neither niggling nor bargaining. New industries should be encouraged and given all kinds of help such as being freed from taxation and rates for an average period of say five years, but the respite should be given for longer periods where the building up of markets and goodwill is a slow process and it would be especially valuable in cases where complicated machinery is required. The establishment of secondary industries and processing is essential to meet local needs and to absorb the surplus population of these islands. It can be done by attracting long-term capital or by giving credit facilities. I believe that long-term capital can be attracted provided stability is assured, provided considerable freedom from taxation is given, provided subsidies are 1419 brought into being to ensure low freights and provided useful information is given by the Government where it can be given. In regard to credit facilities, the Stockdale Report on page 141, paragraph 37, includes a useful observation, but I think that that reference might be extended to cover secondary industries as well.
The Government must decide whether loans to industry should be given at no rate of interest or at very low rate, and the basis of their decision should rest upon the employment value of the proposed new industry and upon its export wealth production. If these things were done, I believe that processing and secondary industries could be started, varied and developed. Again, I would plead for subsidised shipping between the West Indies and the United Kingdom, particularly for bananas, which have to compete with the Canaries. Sir Frank Stock-dale speaks of the eventual establishment of a regular British passenger service to the West Indies and an inter-land steamer service. In both cases the services would have to be frequent as well as regular. I have tried to consider the effect on these suggestions I have submitted if the Morgenthau or the Keynes plans were adopted. I do not think that if either scheme were adopted these suggestions would be hindered or adversely affected. Indeed, the Keynes plan echoes and emphasises what I have said with regard to the arbitrary, undesirable and unpredictable influence of speculative short-term capital.
I would like to ask my right hon. and gallant Friend not only to consider the suggestions I have put before him, but to give a categorical assurance that he will establish the machinery to investigate how long-term capital, American as well as British, can be attracted to these islands so that the economic troubles of the islands can be dealt with at the root. I am afraid that my right hon. and gallant Friend will say that I am again asking for the establishment of an Advisory Development Board. If he does, I am bound to say that he is perfectly right. The trouble with the West Indies as with several other colonies is that there are too many eggs put into too few baskets. If we could have had machinery in the past whereby the Dominions could have had some say and participation in the economic development of the Colonies, I 1420 do not believe this position could ever have arisen, because the Dominions, much more than ourselves, have used tariffs most intelligently for the purpose of diversifying and developing industry. If possibilities exist of building up processing and secondary industries in the West Indies, where there is no great wealth of natural resources and minerals, except bauxite in British Guiana and oil in Trinidad, where there is an appalling problem of over-population, what cannot be done elsewhere in the British Empire where the possibilities and potentialities are so much greater and the natural handicaps fewer if only we could have the machinery to plan and consider what the future can create. I welcome Sir Frank Stockdale's Report as far as it goes. I think that the Government have done well and begun to find the way to cure the patient, but I should like to see them proceed further on a positive health policy. The first they ought to do and not to leave the other undone.
§ Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)
I should like to join with the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) in congratulating the Minister on the production of the Stockdale Report on conditions in the West Indies. As one who has taken some interest in West Indian affairs for a number of years, I welcome the comprehensive and able Report which has been presented by Sir Frank Stockdale and his careful survey of the last 18 months or two years. I have some criticisms to offer as I go along, but I want to make it clear that I appreciate the thought which has been applied for many long years to get at the real problems which are presented by conditions in the West Indies. We have had Commission after Commission for the last 30 years or so. The Reports extend from as far back as 1897 to the Royal Commission of 1938, but never before has there been anything like the competent examination of the problems to be faced and the same well-thought-out recommendations for their solution as on the present occasion. I want also to express my gratitude to the Minister for the way in which he has met the long-drawn-out controversy in Jamaica with regard to the revision of the Constitution. For the last two years or more there has been considerable perturbation in Jamaica about this subject, and a very lively opinion has 1421 demanded some definite alteration in the Constitution extending the powers of self-government. After two years of controversy the Minister is to be congratulated on having succeeded where his predecessors failed in getting an understanding between the people of Jamaica and the people of this country. I have no authority to speak about whether the proposed changes will be accepted, but I think that on the whole they will be. There is certainly a great advance based on universal suffrage and a fairly substantial share of almost responsible government by the proposed elected members.
Having said that, I want to come to the main point of criticism which I have to offer about the Stockdale Report. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke that valuable recommendations are made dealing with all phases of social welfare, health conditions, education and social amelioration. All that is to the good, but where I think the policy as foreshadowed in the Report falls short is in its failure to lay the proper emphasis upon a radical alteration in the West Indian islands with regard to the relationship of the people in the West Indies to the land out of which they have to get their living. In going through the Report, I was disappointed to find that of the £6,000,000, which is the approximate amount which it is intended to expend upon the various schemes described in the Report, only £200,000 is earmarked for land settlement, for extension of peasant holdings and for the encouragement of the mass of the population to play their part in lifting the standard of life in these Colonies. I know that under the general heading "Agriculture" there is a sum of £2,250,000, but under that heading are included agriculture, afforestation, fisheries, drainage, irrigation and land settlement, and only £200,000 is to be made available for direct assistance to the masses of the people to increase food supplies and to improve the use of the resources of the island, and thus make their contribution to the raising of the standard of living.
When all is said and done, apart from the oil in Trinidad and the bauxite in British Guiana, all the 18 islands—and Jamaica is the largest of them—are essentially dependent uopn the development of agriculture, as they have no great mineral resources. The admitted line of development, as has been insisted upon by every 1422 authority who has examined the position in the West Indies, is to lift the standards of agriculture and of peasant cultivation, raising increased food supplies and thus providing employment for the masses of the population. It is true, as the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke has said, that side by side with that work of developing the natural resources of the island there is the useful work of developing ancillary secondary industries.
I do not see any great prospect of big business embarking upon enterprises in the West Indian islands, because the natural resources do not lend themselves to industry on a large scale at all. What industries may grow up alongside agriculture in Jamaica will be of the nature of ancillary industries to assist and to supplement the natural industry, agriculture. Therefore, I regret that the problem of getting down to a much more intensive use of the land in Jamaica by the mass of the people has not been tackled more radically, and larger provision made for the schemes which Sir Frank Stockdale has elaborated in his Report, because when all this work of social amelioration has been done, when health conditions have been made better, when education and housing have been improved, the maintenance of those higher standards which have been brought about by this welfare expenditure will depend in the long run on raising the economic capacity of the people themselves. Therefore, I suggest that sooner or later, and the sooner the better, there will have to be in the West Indian islands a drastic redistribution of land ownership and a better use of the land.
What are the facts? Only yesterday, in answer to a Question to the Minister, we were told that negotiations are going on between the United States and ourselves for a transfer of labour from the Bahamas, Jamaica and other islands to work in the United States of America. I was informed the other day, in answer to a Question, that in Jamaica alone, I think, 12,000 labourers were on relief work, although there is an enormous amount of land which, if they were given the opportunity of utilising it, with enlightened assistance as foreshadowed by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke, would enable them to live within their own territories without having to seek a living abroad. In Jamaica, which I will take as an illustration of other islands which I might 1423 mention, there are about 2,500,000 or 2,750,000 acres of land. I see from the latest returns that, of a population of about 1,200,000, 800 people in Jamaica own and control more than half the land. There are 153 people who own, on the average, over 3,000 acres. On the other hand, 80,000 peasants were shown to have less than one quarter of an acre each on which they make their livings. If you take the round figure of population of 1,200,000, there are 600,000 peasant families with less than four acres of land on the average on which to earn their living. It is there that one finds the economic factor which could be utilised for the purpose of achieving a permanent change in the economic life of the West Indies. I therefore want to urge upon the Minister this aspect of a much more drastic and vigorous policy, recognising the natural resources of Jamaica, their agricultural character, and the necessity of gradually building up an educated and enlightened peasantry, cultivating the land both for food and for certain export crops. In that direction lies the only way of a permanent solution of the problem with which Jamaica and the West Indies are faced.
Having said that, I would now briefly refer to another aspect of the Report which has very much impressed me, as to the inadequacy of the finances provided by the Act of 1940 to achieve the purposes which Sir Frank Stockdale is charged to carry out and which are envisaged in the Report. They comprise something like 160 schemes of various kinds in the matter of finance. What are the broad facts with regard to finance? The Colonial territories of the Caribbean Sea stretch away from Central America to the Western Atlantic. For a number of years before the war, it was recognised that poverty was rife in them. To some extent that poverty has been accentuated by war conditions. It is not disputed that, apart from trade depressions in staple commodities such as bananas, and difficulties in regard to sugar, there has been a growing condition of unemployment, social unrest, poverty, bad housing and bad social conditions. There are exceptions, of course, but most of the islands share that condition of extreme poverty. It spreads over those vast areas with a population of about 3,000,000—and we are providing only a sum of £1,000,000 a year for a period of 10 years.
1424 I submit to the Minister and the Committee that if the hopes are to be realised which are raised in this very competent Report by Sir Frank Stockdale, if these schemes, which we all support, and which we realise are long overdue, are to lead to a better state of affairs in our West Indian Colonies, that result cannot be achieved on £1,000,000 a year. What does it amount to? It may seem a somewhat startling figure, but taking the population as a whole, the £1,000,000 per year works out at 6s. 8d. per head, to turn the West Indies upside down from poverty into prosperity. It cannot be done. All the way through the Report Sir Frank Stockdale comes back to the point that if he only had a longer programme and larger resources, what things he might do.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)
Would the hon. Member kindly quote some of those passages?
§ Mr. Riley
I am sorry to say that I have not the exact paragraphs of the Report just before me, but I can say that, in regard to schemes of housing, Sir Frank refers to the point that he would require a 20-year programme to carry out the schemes which he has in his mind. The Act of 1940 gives only a 10-year programme, and the whole of the money is only £10,000,000; whereas the Royal Commission, which the Colonial Development Act, 1940, is supposed to implement, visualised a period of 20 years, with £1,000,000 a year. All that can be altered. It is a matter of feeling one's way and of the Government changing their policy or attitude in the light of developing circumstances. Of the £1,000,000 a year, only some £200,000 is devoted to the fundamental questions of agriculture, land settlement and development.
But that is not all. I should like the Minister to say something on this point when he comes to reply: Owing to the delay, which we may assume had inevitably to occur between the development of the schemes of the Stockdale Report and the passing of the Act of 1940 under which the power is given, we are likely to lose something like £2,500,000 of that £10,000,000, because it has not been spent. I asked a Question some time ago on this matter, and I found, so 1425 far as the information could be given, that to the end of June, 1942, two years after the Act was passed to carry out these reforms, only some £250,000 had actually been spent. By June of this year a third year will have been completed, and I am fairly near the mark in saying that we shall actually have spent only about £500,000. Under the Act we are entitled to £3,000,000, except that the Act has a provision in Section 4 that any moneys not spent in the current year lapse and go back to the Treasury. Are we to lose £2,500,000 of the prospective £10,000,000, or are some steps to be taken so that we can retain it for use for the purpose for which it was intended? Those are some of the aspects to which I would like the Minister to give his mind, so that the very best may be made of the financial resources.
My last point is a proposal which has been made on many previous occasions, and I make no apology for reviving it once more. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who preceded me in the Debate spoke of the pressure of the situation in those West Indian Colonies which will follow the conclusion of the war. Difficult and acute as the economic conditions may be under war conditions, when the war is over we may have, in the changing situation of the world, even bigger problems to face in maintaining the standards of the West Indies, and taking steps to maintain economic life and expand it, than we had before the war broke out. Are we to be content to wait until that situation arises? Why is it that in recent years we have had before us in this House these West Indian conditions and problems, which never forced themselves upon our attention before? Why is it that we have had, in these West Indian islands, the growth of unemployment, poverty, bad social conditions and stagnation which everybody who has had the opportunity of seeing them on the spot must feel are no great credit to our Colonial administration? I am not wanting to deride the spirit and attitude of this country towards its Colonies. I know that the intentions of our country and our Governments have been admirable and almost humanitarian, on the whole. I make no charge of ill-treatment or of tyranny. Why is it? Everyone knows, and it is admitted. In a speech a few weeks ago the Home Secretary referred to our Colonial possessions and said there 1426 was no doubt whatever that there had been neglect in the past.
These problems have come before us and are present now because there has been neglect. Why has there been neglect? Because very largely this House has not been kept in touch with the situations which have been developing in some of these Colonies. There has been a certain, I do not say deliberate, but a policy of secrecy on the part of the Colonial Office to retain complete control, as it were, and keep within their own domain the questions of what is to be done, what is taking place and what are the remedies to be applied for evils which are arising. It is because there has been that neglect that we are face to face with all these problems before us to-day.
I want to suggest to-day what I have suggested before, that in order to put this House in a position to enable it to fulfil its responsibility, as the Imperial Parliament, to these Colonial territories which we have had in our charge in the West Indies for 250 years, some of them as long as 300 years, we should be in closer touch with what is taking place and make this House acquainted regularly and systematically with the measures called for. As my concluding word in this Debate, I urge once more the advisability of the Secretary of State and the Government seriously considering whether the time has not arrived, particularly in view of post-war prospects and developments in our Colonial affairs, which have impressed not only ourselves but our Allies and Allied Governments, and in view of good understanding and co-operation, when this House should create a Joint Parliamentary Committee representative of both Houses, not to rule the Minister, but to be in a position, as a Colonial Committee, to have before it periodically and regularly developments of situations and problems which arise there, to survey them, examine them and make a contribution of advice. I would urge that the time has come when that Standing Committee should be appointed not only in the interests of the Colonies but in the interests of this Imperial Parliament as well.
In that connection may I say that since this question was raised on the last occasion there has been a very striking corroboration of that point of view from a very experienced ex-Colonial Governor? I notice that Sir Hubert Young, who was 1427 Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Trinidad, and a former Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Northern Rhodesia and of Nyasaland, and a Civil Servant with very wide Colonial experience, made this remark in an address to the Empire Parliamentary Association on 28th January this year:—This brings me to the question of how the policy of His Majesty's Government can best be formulated and kept on an even keel. Just as a Governor may, and probably will go wrong and upset all prospects of continuity of policy in a Colony if he does not follow a long-term plan which has been framed with the willing co-operation of the permanent elements in the community, so I think the Government at home may go wrong unless they follow an agreed general policy for each Colony or group of Colonies, which has been framed with the willing co-operation of all political parties. In order to arrive at and stick to these agreed policies it seems to me that there might well be a standing committee of both Houses of Parliament under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whose duty it would be to formulate them in consultation with administrative experts. In the framing of such policies it is essential to look ahead positively, in the same way as a progressive and efficient business concern looks ahead and plans for the development of its own and other people's resources.I suggest that that is a remarkable testimony on the part of a highly qualified——
§ Colonel Stanley
Could I ask the hon. Member one point? Has he quoted that with approval? He will realise that it proposes a Joint Committee which will formulate proposals, and of which the Secretary of State will be chairman, and which will take over from him and Parliament the responsibility for Colonial policy.
§ Mr. Riley
I would not tie myself down literally to the words used by Sir Hubert Young. I should not insist that such a Committee should have the right to decide policy, but that it should be of an advisory character. But I am quite certain that that is the kind of line of development which has been long asked for in this House and will be welcomed by parties on all sides of the House.
§ Sir Leonard Lyle (Bournemouth)
I would like to offer my respectful and very sincere congratulations to the Secretary of State on three main events which have taken place during the last month concerning his Department and the development of our Colonial Empire. The first is 1428 the production of the suggested new Constitution for Jamaica; the second is the issue of the Report on welfare and development by Sir Frank Stockdale; the third, and by no means least important event, to my mind, is the heartening and gratifying statement he himself made recently in a speech stating what the British Government view was as to their obligations with regard to maintaining the British Empire. He gave expression to views which are very sincerely and very deeply felt by a large number of people, I think I can say the vast majority of people, in this country, and certainly the vast majority of the people of the Empire. It was what many of us had been thinking, and it was what many of us had been hoping that some more authoritative voice than our own would say. It was very timely, and it was very refreshing. In my opinion, the statement of our intentions was not made one moment too soon. I think it is always far better, when you are dealing with fundamental principles, to be quite honest and open and to speak plainly and without equivocation. Such action is appreciated by one's friends, and though it may not be appreciated quite so much by those who are, shall we say, less friendly, at any rate it is well understood.
We are also very grateful to the Prime Minister for his statement when he said we were prepared to stand by our obligations to our Empire and that we have had every intention of holding what was our own. These statements by Ministers of high rank have proved doubly necessary, because even in the last fortnight statements have been made by some of our friends in the United States which show an utter and complete lack of understanding of what the British Empire means to us and how close are the ties which bind all of us together. After all, it should not give offence to anybody to say what we have said. No one has any right to be offended. For instance, suppose the father of a family is in a position where somebody comes in and says that he is going to look after or take an interest in, his family. He has a perfect right, and no one has any right to be offended, if that father declares he is not going to allow anyone to cross the sacred threshold of the family circle to deal with the upbringing of his children, at any rate until they are of age. That father certainly knows very well also that if he did not object to someone, even a friend, 1429 coming in and taking control, his children, if they were high spirited children, would certainly object themselves. He also knows very well that if he went in and suggested that he should take control of the family of his friend, he would get a very quick answer from him, accompanied by what children might describe as a very quick kick in the pants if he did any such thing.
With regard to the Jamaica Constitution, I will only say that I think it is a very statesmanlike approach to what is a very difficult problem, and it is a difficult one from many points of view. But from what I hear from Jamaica it has been extremely well received, both by the vast majority of the people and also by the political parties in the island. With regard to the Stockdale Report, I feel we should not only congratulate the Secretary of State but also pay a tribute to Sir Frank Stockdale himself, because he has not only prepared a very excellent survey, but I think we ought to thank him and pay him a tribute for the long hours of hard work he has put in, as I happen to know, in very often difficult and trying climatic conditions [Interruption]—and his advisers too. It is all very well for people who are out there, and have been bred and brought up out there, but for someone to go out from this country suddenly and have to remain under most trying climatic conditions for a considerable time working hard, it is a very considerable strain. It is an excellent Report, but also we hope it is merely the beginning of a big improvement in the health and welfare of those great-hearted and loyal supporters of the British Empire who live and have their being in the Carribean Seas. Although we feel it is a good start, we feel there is something even better to follow.
I do not wish to take up too much time, because I know there are other Members who wish to speak, and on the last occasion I myself suffered from the fact that there were too many wishing to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. Therefore, it is impossible to go into very great detail, as one would have liked to, on many of the points. But there is one point I wish to make, and I shall make it perfectly clear if I can. It is this: Good though the Stockdale Report is, and excellent as our intentions are, the suggestions contained in that 1430 Report are only palliatives. No one who knows anything about it will differ from me when I say that the prosperity and well-being of the people of the West Indies depend upon the primary industries of the country being placed upon an economic basis. Put shortly, they depend upon a healthy and prosperous agriculture. I believe that there will be no lasting prosperity or welfare in the West Indies, unless you are prepared for annual subsidies from this country on a massive scale, unless the primary industries are put upon an economic basis. At present they are not on such a basis. I have great diffidence in putting forward this view, because I am an interested party. Most hon. Members know that, but to those who do not know it I want to make it perfectly plain. I have always felt that Members of this House are very tolerant, and that if you tell them honestly where you are interested, they want to know your views. It would be absurd to say that if some hon. Member is an expert on agriculture and is interested in agriculture, it would be improper for him to speak on agriculture, or that an hon. Member who was interested in coal, either from the employers' side or the employees' side, should not be able to give his advice on that subject. However that may be, the facts speak for themselves. If they are examined, it will be quite clear that what I say is correct.
Some people try to make out that there must, of necessity, be a great difference in the outlook on policy of capital and labour. I do not agree. In the old days, when we were arguing the questions of tariffs and free trade, I always held the view that the interests of capital and labour were identical, at any rate, in securing the trade and in turning out the goods concerned. You might as well try to divorce the two wings of an aeroplane as try to divorce the interests of capital and labour. The first thing is to get the business. After you have got the business, after the profits are made, there may be differences of opinion as to how the profits, if any, should be divided. That is the time to differ if we must differ. So it is in the West Indies to-day. If profits are inadequate, capital and labour are going to suffer together. I make the considered suggestion to those two interests that they should get together and do their best to see that their industries are put on an economic basis. Until that it done, 1431 there cannot be a real solution of those problems which we are all so anxious to solve.
I do not want to go into details on the Stockdale Report, or on any other subject, but I want to bring out a particular point. I have got out some figures regarding the rates of dividends paid in the last few years. I took the two best sugar companies in Trinidad—not badly managed companies, but well-run, efficient companies, one of them controlled by my group. The average rate of dividend for the last 10 or 12 years for one company was 2.19 per cent., and for the other company it was 3.23 per cent., making an average of 2.94 per cent. gross profit over a period of 10 or 12 years. I do not think that you can possibly attract capital for the West Indies on such a return as that, in view of the risks which have to be run, which include the vagaries of weather, pests and the hazards always associated with tropical agriculture. It may be said with justification that the West Indian producer is likely to be attacked on both flanks. He is going to be faced with increased costs of labour, material and management, and he is receiving a price which does not equal the increased costs incurred. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, things will get steadily worse, and not better. It may be fairly said that only when the producer receives a reward adequate to his efforts and labour receives a fair wage for the work done will it be possible for the West Indies to move forward to a brighter future.
I think that of all the questions of welfare which Sir Frank Stockdale mentioned by far the most important is housing. Education is very little use, health cannot be satisfactorily improved, hygiene cannot be tackled unless the housing problem is dealt with. I would add that my companies have done their best, and some of my hon. Friends opposite, including my hon. Friends the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) and the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Morgan) have paid generous tributes to them. I am grateful to them for it. We have attempted reforms in housing, medical attention, clinics and health services generally, but there is a limit, I think, to what can be expected of a company struggling in the West Indies. Housing conditions have undoubtedly been dreadful, but I do not think it is quite fair to blame the sugar 1432 companies for those conditions. At any rate, I cannot be blamed, because we only went out there in 1937. Any bad housing which existed there before that time cannot be attributed to any policy of ours. Something must be done about housing, but I would like to tell hon. Members how difficult it is. Housing out there is not cheap. I have pictures here of houses which have been put up in Trinidad and other places by my companies; I shall be pleased to show them to hon. Members. They are of wood, which you would not think should be very expensive, but to put up a house for a foreman, or perhaps somebody of a little better type, would cost between £700 and £1,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "Before the war?"] Yes. A type suitable for the working man would cost between £150 and £200. They are nice little houses but quite simple. In Jamaica alone we have 8,000 native employees, and if we were to put up houses for every one of those people, at between £150 and £200 each, that would cost the company at least £1,300,000. What has happened in the past is another matter. The Government must be responsible for housing the floating population, which is here to-day and gone to-morrow. The key men and the men who are on our estates we are prepared to provide for, but the local Government must deal with the others.
§ Sir L. Lyle
I do not know how you would describe the difference between houses and bungalows. We can give land for houses, and we are prepared to do so free of charge. We have notified the Government of that fact. We have offered 300 acres in Frome, Jamaica, and 300 acres in another part of the country. I am glad to say that, under the progressive and enlightened Government we now have in Jamaica—[Interruption.] My hon. Friends may disagree, but they are getting a move on. In this case they have asked us to supply 300 acres, and they are going ahead with building. They are, at any rate, taking action. It shows that they agree in principle with what I am saying, and that they are moving in the matter.
I will end, more or less as I began, by offering my sincere congratulations to the Secretary of State and my full co-operation, and everything I can give, in the 1433 great task to which he has laid his hand. I hope very much that his tenure of office may exceed in years the number of Secretaries of State who have held that office in the last decade and have flitted like ghosts across the Colonial horizon. If he can give us as many years as we have had Secretaries of State, we shall feel that we have done well. I am sure that he will continue strenuously to uphold the view that there must be no tampering with the British Empire, which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest instruments for good that the world has ever seen. I will end by quoting from something which seems rather apt. It is not very long, and it deals with our Empire:You, Mr. Hitler, said it caused you pain to think that you should be chosen by destiny to deal the death blow to the British Empire. It may well cause you pain. This ancient structure, cemented with blood, is an incredibly delicate and exquisite mechanism held together lightly now by the imponderable elements of credit and prestige, experience and skill, written and unwritten laws, codes and habits. This remarkable and artistic thing the British Empire—part Empire, part Commonwealth—is the only world-wide organisation in existence; the world equaliser and holder of the equilibrium, the only world stabilising force for law and order on this planet. And if you bring it down, the planet will rock with an earthquake such as it has never known. We in the United States will shake with that earthquake, and so will Germany.Those were the words of a great American—I think she is a great American—Miss Dorothy Thompson in a broadcast here in 1940. I commend them not only to hon. Members who need no converting but to all who do not know or understand the greatness and the glories of the British Empire.
§ Captain Gammans (Hornsey)
I would like to add my tribute to the many which have been paid to the excellence of Sir Frank Stockdale's Report. Those of us who have the privilege of knowing Sir Frank would agree that no better public servant could have been chosen for this great task and that his Report is a very happy mixture of realism and idealism.
I do not propose to comment on the Report in any great detail, but in one or two respects I must express some misgiving, not so much at what is in the Report itself, but at the course that this Debate took on the last occasion. There is a great danger of the feeling growing up that you can cure every evil in the 1434 world and create an earthly paradise anywhere if you pass enough Acts of Parliament and spend enough money. In fact the power of legislation and of money in human affairs is very much more limited than many people think. I cannot help feeling that the situation in the West Indies is a case in point. The position there is undoubtedly most unsatisfactory. We must ask ourselves, how much of it can be put right by legislation here in Westminster and by the spending of money, and how much in fact cannot? In certain directions our duty is thoroughly clear. In almost all the islands we need better water services, better housing, better medical and health services and a vast extension of education both cultural and technical. I hope that there will be no undue delay or niggardliness in putting these reforms into operation as soon as conditions permit. The West Indies are our oldest Colonies. They have stood by us loyally in every war in which we have fought, and now is the chance for us to repay them. But it is no good our pretending that Acts of Parliament or the spending of money will do all that is required. No real improvement can be expected unless there is a changed outlook on the part of the people themselves as well. Sir Frank Stockdale brings this out in his Report when he says:Greater attention should be paid to constructive than to relief services.For example, no action we can take here can help to improve the appalling position regarding venereal deseases or raise the level of the family organisation where at present between 60 per cent. and 70 per cent. of all births are illegitimate. Nor can we here be expected to develop those qualities of self-help and leadership without which, in the long run, no nation can flourish. As education improves and there is an expansion of health and medical services, so we can expect an improvement in these moral qualities. That is undoubtedly true. But there is bound to be a time lag; it is bound to take time before physical improvements show themselves in the other field as well.
Perhaps the Committee will allow me to illustrate this point by a personal experience which I have never forgotten. Some years ago, in an entirely different part of the world, it fell to my lot to help to organise co-operative societies in the Malay States. The problem there was clear and unmistakeable. We had a 1435 peasant, who was producing an inferior article and selling it through a series of middlemen. Moreover, he was largely in the hands of moneylenders. Luckily we did not have the moral problems of either disease, overcrowding or illegitimacy such as we have in the West Indies. However, before I started this difficult task, I did my best to equip myself for it. I studied agricultural organisation in every country of Europe and every Province of India, and I even saw something of what other Colonial Powers were doing, the French, the Dutch and even the Japanese. After a year I came back bursting with enthusiasm and good ideas and proceeded to organise Raiffeisen credit banks and to start marketing societies on the lines of what had proved so successful in Denmark. At the end of four years' very hard work we had to admit an almost 100 per cent. failure. There were two reasons for it, which, I think, are somewhat relevant to the position to-day in the West Indies. The first reason was that, somehow or other, we had not succeeded in attracting the right type of local leadership, without which an experiment of this sort must inevitably fail. I discovered that as a foreigner—and I was such however well intentioned—I could do very little to help the people unless their own leaders were in it as well. We in this country, with our long tradition of public service, are apt to forget that in other parts of the world public service—even paid public service—does hot exist to anything like the same extent as it does here. There is not very much kudos, for example, in being a social worker, even a paid one. If you are a magistrate or a police officer, people take off their hats to you and you enjoy a position of great prestige, but that does not apply to anything like the same extent to a man who is trying to persuade you not to throw your rubbish into the street or to organise a co-operative society. We could not get the very best type of leadership into the co-operative movement.
The other reason was the lack of any great desire on the part of the people themselves for anything different. I could diagnose their situation for them. I could prove, or I thought I could prove, that by doing this, that and the other they could make more money and farm much better, but on their part the determination was certainly lacking. What brought 1436 me upstanding was to overhear a conversation one day between two Malay peasants, one of whom had become a co-operator and the other had not. The man who had become a co-operator was using the same verb as though he had had to go to prison. He said, "I have been sentenced to become a co-operator." It was only then that I realised that I had made the cardinal mistake of pouring. Western wine into Eastern bottles. We only got a measure of success, as ultimately we did, when we started something more fundmental and began to build literally from the bottom. We can do a short-term job by the spending of money, but if we come down to the fundamentals-upon which national prosperity here and elsewhere depends, it must be a longer-term job than perhaps many people realise.
May I also draw on my own personal experience for one other matter in this Report? It concerns land Settlement. Sir Frank Stockdale has pointed out that land settlement has proved a costly business and, what is more, that many of the schemes in the West Indies have proved disappointing. I do not think there is anything strange in that conclusion to anybody who knows anything about land settlement. In the last 20 years there has been a great tendency here and elsewhere to believe we can solve many urban as well as rural problems, and above all urban unemployment, by dumping people on the land. The less people know about the land themselves, the more they want to dump others on it. In my experience there are three conditions without which land settlement will undoubtedly fail. The first one, to which Sir Frank Stockdale has referred, is that the Government should retain the ownership of the land themselves. If you do not, inevitably you get the problem of excessive fragmentation of holdings, as you have in India and now apparently in the West Indies. The second condition of success, in my experience, is there must be adequate training and supervision of the settlers. Just dumping these wretched people down and hoping for the best must inevitably lead to failure. The third factor in successful land settlement is a proper system of cooperative buying and selling. Call it joint buying and selling if you like as the word "co-operative" suggests that there should be some volition on their part as to whether they joined it. I would make it 1437 a condition of tenancy. I would say, "I do not ask you to come here, but if you come here you must co-operate with other settlers." If there are any further schemes of land settlement in the West Indies—and I imagine there will be—I hope we shall not lose sight of these points.
There is one curious omission in the Report of Sir F. Stockdale. Probably it will come in a later one. It is when he talks about the development of secondary industries. He points out, rightly, that agriculture must always be the basis of West Indian economy, but he suggests that there is room for the development of secondary industries, especially in the overcrowded Islands like Barbadoes. There are two ways in which you can establish secondary industries. The first is the way with which we are familiar in this country and which we will call the factory system but that is not the only way. You can also develop secondary industries as we have seen in Japan and the South Indian States of Travancore and Mysore—secondary industries of the cottage industry type. You can even combine your secondary industries with a certain measure of agriculture, but you cannot have that unless you have cheap electric power. I wonder whether the Secretary of State can tell us to what extent the provision of cheap electric power is projected in his plans.
The great fundamental question of federation peeps out from time to time, even in this Report, which deals primarily with economics. The fact that we are dealing with comparatively small administrations must remain a permanent handicap to the economic prosperity of the West Indies. Unless we can get these islands together to a greater extent than is the case now, I do not think we can expect to improve materially the economic conditions in the West Indies. If the Colonial Office is waiting until federation comes about spontaneously, then it will never happen at all. History tells us that it is very seldom that people sit down in cold blood and decide to federate. This only happens either as the result of war or by the influence of some outside power. We have the power to-day and the responsibility to do something more in this direction than we have in the past. If we wait until there is a greater measure of self-government in these islands, as we hope there will be before long, it is inevitable 1438 that vested interests and jealousies will start to develop in each island, and you will never have a Federation at all.
Before I finish I would like to discuss the position of the West Indies from a slightly different angle. We all here in this Committee must ask ourselves frankly this question: Why is it that this disgraceful state of affairs has happend; why have things been allowed to get as bad as they are? I feel that there is a danger that we may not go deep enough into these causes. We may tend to regard what has happened in the West Indies as an isolated phenomenon, instead of, as I believe, as the culmination of a series of defects in our Colonial policy as a whole. I am more and more convinced that the cause of what has happened there is to be found, not in the West Indies, but right here in London. If we try to isolate events in the West Indies, we may make the same mistake as we made in our home affairs before the war, when we set up the Special Areas Commission. The effect of that was to tinker with the symptoms instead of tackling the causes. I always felt the creation of the Special Areas Commission was a bad thing economically. It was certainly a bad thing psychologically, because it tended to create a sort of mendicant mentality and to discourage the qualities of self-respect and initiative without which, in the long run, a problem of this kind is insoluble. The only criticism I have against Sir Frank Stockdale's appointment is that it savours far too much of a sort of commissioner-ship for the special areas.
I feel that the Secretary of State has to-day three great tasks before him. If there is not to be a repetition of this sort of thing in the West Indies and elsewhere, the British Parliament and people will have to take more interest in the Colonial Empire than they have in the past. We must explain to our own people and to the world what the British Empire is and what it has done and the principles which underly its political and economic development. Where we ought to start is here in the House of Commons. For a long time past successive Secretaries of State have been pressed to form a joint select Parliamentary committee of Members of all parties from both Houses. All sorts of arguments have been put forward as to why it cannot be done. It was stated that it was premature, that it could not 1439 take place while the war is on, and that in some mysterious way it would interfere with the constitutional responsibility of the Secretary of State to Parliament. All I can say about these arguments is that I am no more impressed by it now than I was when I first heard them. If the Colonial Office wants the support of this House, as it will in the difficult times after the war, it must cease to put a sort of ring fence around itself and must be prepared to get Members of all parties from both Houses interested in it to a greater extent than ever before.
I wonder whether the Secretary of State, perhaps not now but on some future occasion, can tell us what is being done to teach Colonial history and economics in the schools?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
What schools is the hon. and gallant Member referring to? He cannot talk about the schools of this country in this Debate.
§ Captain Gammans
Then I will leave that point. Most of our economic troubles, not merely in the West Indies, but other parts of the Colonial Empire, have, in my opinion, arisen from one single cause, and that is that we have had no discernible economic policy. Each area has been allowed to develop on its own without much regard being paid to what is happening in the next Colony, let alone in the world at large. This has brought about two unfortunate results. One is that many Colonies are far too much dependent upon a single crop, such as sugar in the West Indies, cocoa in West Africa and rubber in Malaya. Also, in many Colonies we have not kept a proper balance between subsistence farming and the money crops. The result has been a series of booms and slumps over which the local people themselves have had no control. What is the remedy for all this? I suggest not a series of ad hoc measures for the West Indies, or anywhere else. The only real remedy is a proper Colonial Development Board. That has been urged several times even during the short period I have been in the House. I know that the Colonial Secretary will say that we have a Colonial Development Welfare Fund, which is an excellent thing and better than anything we have had before, but does not go far enough. It savours far too much of a purely relief organisation, 1440 too much like a Special Areas Fund which can only be drawn upon when conditions are bad. We need to-day something far more positive and dynamic, with far more money behind it—a real central planning organisation for the Colonial Empire as a whole.
Recently the House has been discussing at great length the Beveridge Report. The far-reaching proposals of this Report have been supported by Members on all sides, by people throughout the country who do not need the benefits and who will probably never get them. I ask myself why this is. I think there is a curious reason. It is that many people look on the Report as a sort of symbol——
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. and gallant Member cannot use this Report as an illustration here, because it is apt to be very controversial.
§ Captain Gammans
I am hoping that we can have a Central Development Board in London with a definite policy and a plan, something with a wide comprehensive outlook which will restore the faith of our own people in British leadership. Perhaps the greatest responsibility which rests upon the Colonial Secretary to-day is in a much more intangible sphere than either politics or economics. It is to try to create a real sense of Empire citizenship among the many races who live in the Empire. I have never believed that in the finality we can hold the Empire together solely by economic bonds or agreements. If I wanted to make a criticism of our Colonial policy and of our past achievements, I do not think I would refer to the economic conditions in the West Indies or anywhere else. As my main criticism, I would say that we have failed to make the people of our Colonial Empire or for that matter, the common man in this country, feel that the Empire was really theirs, not in the narrow sense of a selfish possession, but in the sense of a joint heritage of which they were equally proud and in which they had equal responsibility.
I will not attempt to dilate on that particular theme. It touches policy at too many points. It means, for example, the complete abolition, in any sense, of the colour bar, the staffing of the Colonial Office by men of all races from the Empire and sharing the burden of responsibility for defence with the people of the Colonial Empire. It means all these 1441 intangible things of the mind and of the spirit which will make the West Indian, the Nigerian, the Malay and the Ceylonese stand up and say with pride, "I am a British subject, and not a subject of the British." It is that something which will make them regard their connection with us not as a temporary status of inferiority which they want to get rid of at the earliest opportunity, but a permanent condition in which they as well as we will take equal pride. We are living between two ages. The old conception of the Empire has gone, and nothing has taken its place; it is to create a new conception of relationship between all these people which is the greatest task of the Secretary of State to-day. In conclusion, I would like to say this: My right hon. and gallant Friend has taken office at what is, I think, the most critical period of the British Colonial Empire. I would like to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir L. Lyle) in expressing the hope that he will stop in the Colonial Office and that he will bring to bear on these great problems his high sense of public service, his practical idealism and his great achievements in many walks of life. Upon him during the next few years will depend the answer to this great question whether the British Colonial Empire will become but a treasured memory or the greatest international order of prosperity and happiness which the world has ever known.
§ Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)
I am sure the Committee has listened with great interest to the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans), who, out of his experience, has dealt with penetrating wisdom with a number of the problems which we have to consider to-day. I join with him and my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) in begging the Colonial Secretary to give further consideration to the question which has been repeatedly raised in both Houses of Parliament, the desirability of a Joint Committee of a consultative character which will permanently assist Parliament to keep in touch with the immense problems of the Colonial Empire. The fact that we have been able to consider the problems of the West Indies in two successive Sessions is rare in Parliamentary history. Often we have had to wait long months before any Colonial subject could be dealt with, and there is then never time enough for it to 1442 be dealt with really adequately. If in the coming critical years we are to do our duty as a Parliament for those parts of the Empire which are not yet able fully to look after their own interests, we must have some such organisation as this. I am quite aware that it is a matter that the Colonial Office itself cannot deal with. It must be a matter for Cabinet decision, but I hope the Secretary of State will promise that this matter shall receive at no distant date the earnest consideration of the Government. I think that is the very least we should ask for, in view of the fact that it has been pleaded for in all quarters of the House and in both Houses of Parliament.
I would join, too, with all that has been said by way of tribute to the admirable work of Sir Frank Stockdale and his assistants. Anyone who has read his Report will feel that right through he has looked at the problems before him with great wisdom. The different suggestions he has made will, I think, command general approval, and our only regret must be that in some ways he has not been able to go as far as he would have liked simply because of the limitations of finance. I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hornsey that these problems cannot just be settled by Parliament voting money; they go far deeper than that. When the great Act of Emancipation was passed, to which the Colonial Secretary last month made allusion, some £20,000,000 was paid to the slave owners in compensation for the loss of their property, but no payment was made to the slaves.
Nothing was done for the ex-slaves, who were left dependent for a living upon the good will of their former owners. There is that root economic fact behind these tragic years and all the difficulties that have been involved. The Colonial Secretary regretted that the generous flame that had caused the passing of the Emancipation Act had burned itself out with the passage of that Act. But to say that is to misread history. A great number of the reformers who pressed for the emancipation were bitterly disappointed with the Act because it compensated the slave owners but did nothing for the slaves, and because it enacted a period of seven years' apprenticeship, which was virtually a prolongation for that period of slavery. Some of them devoted themselves to trying to get that wrong put right. An 1443 ancestor of mine, with another older relative, went out to Jamaica and the West Indies in 1836 to inquire into the horrible conditions of apprenticeship. In some considerable measure as a result of the report which they made on their return in 1837, public opinion was so roused that apprenticeship was abolished in 1838, but although they were able to right that part of the wrong, the economic position of the ex-slaves was never put right. The result is that in our West Indian Colonies the vast mass of the population is landless and quite unable to become even tenant proprietors. It is that position which needs a fundamental economic remedy.
I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey that it will not be remedied by an attempt to set up small freeholds, which would involve the danger, as he pointed out, of ultimate fragmentation of the holdings, and the danger that they would be pawned and lost to money-lenders. If there is to be a successful establishment of smallholdings, surely it must be, as the hon. and gallant Member suggested, by means of tenants working in co-operation with one another and with co-operative methods. Clearly, there will have to be some measure of State purchase of land to make that possible. Finance does not allow of that at present, or only allows very insufficiently for it, and the fact that Sir Frank Stockdale was able to give only two or three paragraphs in his Report to the whole of this vast subject makes it clear that he felt it was beyond the scope of the resources with which he was provided. I ask the Colonial Secretary to give us some assurance that the Government intend to go ahead with practical measures to deal with this problem. It can never be satisfactory that there should be such a large proportion of the population cut off from the land and some of them almost in a position of servitude. I think of the particular case of St. Kitts, where the whole of the labouring population is without any kind of landed property. There is a very limited number of land owners, and the labourers have their holdings at the good will of the owners of the big estates and are entirely dependent upon them for their work and their right to have their homes. That is not a satisfactory economic position and it cannot be defended.
1444 Take the case of the very important Colony of Trinidad. It is greatly to be regretted that Sir Frank Stockdale's services could not have been made use of in advising on reforms in Trinidad. I do not think that the fact that Trinidad is comparatively wealthy on account of its oil resources is a good enough reason for not making use of Sir Frank's extremely valuable expert advice. I cannot help feeling that ii he had been able to extend his work to Trinidad, he might have recommended, on the question of land settlement, that a project which has been more than once spoken of in the House, the draining of the Caroni swamp, should be carried out. Plans were prepared some years ago and their carrying out would give the possibility of a much needed increase in the rice supply and would at the same time open up a considerable area for land settlement, which might be of very great value. I very much hope these points will be borne in mind by the Government.
It is not, however, simply economic change that is needed. We need to have the right educational spirit and outlook if reforms are to work. One of the most important sections of the Report is that which deals with education. The story is a pitiful one. We must feel humiliated to think that after more than 100 years of effort, the schools are so utterly inadequate; only 40 per cent. of the children get an elementary education, many of the school buildings are insanitary, many of the teachers are underpaid and the number of teachers utterly insufficient. How can we get a population able to fulfil its civic duties aright with an educational system of that sort? I think that many of Sir Frank Stockdale's recommendations are most valuable, although one can see the fearful limitations of finance. Sir Frank proposes that the number of teachers should be more than doubled, if we are to do the very minimum of what is necessary for the child population. Yet that will involve a total annual expenditure of £2,000,000. I should like to know how that expenditure is to be met. It will be a terrible burden. [AN HON. MEMBER: "By a subsidy."] It is not satisfactory that it should be met permanently by a subsidy. We must hope that some day this essential requirement of the people will be met from the resources of the West Indies themselves: There is, 1445 however, one matter in connection with which we may rightly claim that the Development Fund should be generously used. The training of teachers is in the nature of capital expenditure. There is a great need for more money to be spent in training teachers; money spent on that now will bear its fruit in 20, 30 or more years of valuable service, and therefore, it may be legitimately regarded as capital expenditure in which we make up now, to some extent, for our failure in the past. Therefore I hope there will be a very generous expenditure of money in that direction.
The educational adviser who accompanied Sir Frank Stockdale put his finger on some weak places in the existing system. It is very sad that our West Indian fellow citizens should be labouring under the incubus of examinations far more than even we are here and that their educational system is a sort of narrow caricature of the worst systems of the 19th century. I hope one result of the Report will be that Sir Frank Stockdale's words will be taken to heart and that we shall throw off those shackles, liberating the minds of teachers and children from the incubus that has weighed on them in the past. It is a fine thing to see the rural central school, with a farm attached to it, being established, as it is now under these recommendations, and held up as a model. I want to see that further developed.
But there ought to be also a fuller development of higher education. It is very sad that in all the West Indian colonies there should be no fully adequate institution of a university or a University college character for carrying on higher education, and that those West Indians who want higher education have to go far over seas in order to get the opportunity of higher studies. It is true that in Barbados there is Codrington College, to which I may venture to refer, because it is affiliated to the University of Durham, but there are only some 30 students studying theology and the classics in that college. Apart from the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad and some technical institutions, there is nothing really adequate for the needs of higher education. There ought to be in Jamaica, at least in the near future, the beginning of a university college and some day a federal university of the West Indies. I hope that may be held out as 1446 an object which we may look forward to being attained at no far distant date.
There are, also, some very good general remarks in the Report about the need for further adult education. It is pointed out that there is an opportunity through libraries, cinemas, and broadcasting, for adult education. The need for libraries, if they can be used in the proper way, may be very great, but a library, if it is not used in the right way, may be just a buried treasure. Broadcasting may be extremely good, the cinema may be used in educational ways, but these are all a form of passive education and do not bring out the activities of mind and character that are needed. There ought to be a vigorous attempt to have creative adult education, particularly in connection with the growth of the "4H" clubs whose members are pledged to the development of mind and head as well as of heart, health and hand; education by craft work at the rural centres, by music and choral singing, which surely would appeal to a great number of our West Indian fellow citizens, and by other activities of that kind. I hope also that there may be development along the lines of the Workers' Educational Association in this country. All these things are needed if the life of the people is to develop in the right way. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey that these questions cannot be dealt with simply by finance and by passing measures in Parliament. It is necessary to have the right economic foundation, but we cannot be satisfied simply with that. There must be a development of outlook and ideals. We must have a true sense of spiritual values and of the obligations of citizenship, which can only be the outcome of a right system of education. That is far more important than economic and political reform, valuable and needful as that is.
§ Mr. R. Morgan (Stourbridge)
I welcome this opportunity of taking part in the Debate, and although we have had some very interesting speeches, I shall make no apologies for following the hon. Gentleman and referring to the question of education in the West Indies. I am indebted to him for many points he has made which will shorten my speech considerably, because in the last Debate we had some very learned discourses about educational research, but if we are going 1447 to establish a sort of educational pyramid like all pyramids it must stand on its base and not on its apex and therefore I want to say something about the basic system of education. I rather regret that I have not had the experience of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans), who has visited these parts, but I have every year reports from teachers' organisations from all parts of the West Indies, and I know something of their troubles and trials, and I think it is almost an axiomatic truth that if you are to have a happy and peaceful community in any of these Dominions or Colonies, one of the best ways to set about it is to have a contented teaching profession, an educated profession which will eventually bring about a contented people. I remember my right hon. and gallant Friend's predecessor saying that when he looked round at the different Colonies he was tempted to say with the Psalmist, "Yea, I have a goodly heritage." I thoroughly agree. We have a great Empire, and we are going to make it worthy of the name.
I rise particularly because of some complaints that I get from the teaching profession in the West Indies. I am going to give one excerpt which is typical of the troubles that seem to arise among these teachers' organisations. They seem to have no real court of appeal or place to which they may address their grievances, and they rather accuse, I will not say the present Secretary of State, but his predecessor perhaps. They say that when a case arises the local Government officials say this is a matter for Comptroller and vice versa. I am going to read this extract because I want the Secretary of State to say whether is is untrue. As a matter of fact, it is taken from a petition recently addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. After professing their loyalty unswervingly to His Majesty and so on, they make this very bitter complaint:It cannot be denied that the teachers are so badly underpaid that their lives are greatly impoverished. Many teachers while exercising the greatest economy find it impossible to meet their ordinary obligations such as maintaining themselves and their families in a manner befitting their status as community leaders and responsible citizens, providing for the proper care and upbringing of their children and ensuring adequate financial protection of themselves and their dependants against the time when they shall have retired from active service.They go on to mention the salaries they 1448 receive. I will give the figures for head teachers and leave the Committee to draw its own conclusions. Head teachers, Grade 1, £108 per annum, rising by £6 to £150, with a salary bar at £132. I think the bar is to account for the allowance of a house. Scale 2 is less, £76, rising by £3 to £100, with a salary bar of £85. Assistant teachers, £45, by £3 to £75, rising to the magnificent sum of £75 with a salary bar of £51. Grade 2A, £45, rising to £60, with a salary bar of——
§ Mr. Morgan
This particular Colony is Antigua. Grade 2, £36, rising by £3 to £60 per annum. These are very terrible figures. If you are going to have a discontented profession, you are not going to make much headway.
Now I want to come to the Stockdale Report itself. No one knows better than the Secretary of State the need and the proper grading for a proper educational service, here or anywhere else. We all remember his great services as President of the Board of Education, and now we are looking forward for a further display of his undoubted powers of administration and great ability in his new office. It seems to me that the Colonial Office have a man of vision in the educational adviser, Mr. Hammond. He very rightly points the way, but I am sure the Secretary of State himself must have felt very sad when he read the report on education. It is a truly humiliating document. It clearly shows in paragraph 248 that there is no misconception about what is required. But when you come to paragraph 250 you see that it is all a question of not now but later on—always to-morrow.
The main policy was submitted to the Secretary of State for advice. These recommendations have been with the Colonial Office for at least two years, if not more. I want to know how far they have been put into practical effect, or has no start been made with these plans? When I looked through the vast correspondent from these far off islands sent to me from time to time, I wondered whether they had exaggerated the case. As I look through this Report, however, and find the deplorable conditions of the school buildings and their inadequacy of 1449 accommodation, and the fact that they cannot even get satisfactory sanitary arrangements in some places, it seems to me really alarming. It says in the Report that much of the West Indian education has been modelled on the conception of education in this country in the 19th century. It rather looks as though we are reviving a scheme already 100 years behind the times. I do not know whether that is a misreading of paragraph 251, but let me read a line or two of paragraph 252, which seems to me to give a complete answer to the complaints and grievances made by the teachers' organisation in different parts of the West Indies:In the primary schools there is insufficient accommodation even for the children who attend them. The existing accommodation is, on the whole, in a very poor state of repair and the provision of water and sanitary conveniences at the schools is still inadequate.These are not my words or the words of the organisations which have written to me. They are from the Stockdale Report itself.Attendances at the schools are relatively poor, particularly at ages above 12.Do I understand from paragraph 256 that there is a five years plan in contemplation for the service of education in different parts of the West Indies? If so, I shall be very pleased indeed to know that that is to be put in hand, but if I look further down the paragraph, it seems to me almost as though they had given up hope and resigned to a counsel of despair. Paragraph 256 says:If it is not possible to look forward to the provision of the necessary number of adequately paid teachers upon a basis of classes of reasonable size, it will be necessary to explore other forms of school organisation.One method later on is a proposal to revert to the old system of pupil teachers, which I am sure the Secretary of State would be the first to deplore. It would be going back to the old days when you put a child of 16 to do half-time teaching—perhaps in charge of a class of 60 children—and half-time instruction. I hope that policy will not be followed up in this case.
I do not believe that education is a cure for all things. I am hot a fanatic of that kind, but I am firmly convinced that a good system of education is a very good investment for any country or any Empire. It produces its own reward. Like the Secretary of State, I have been to many educational conferences, and so has 1450 the hon. Member who spoke last, and I get rather weary of the subject of education. With regard to rural education in Somersetshire——
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member has just told us that he is tired of education. If he goes on about education in Somerset I shall get very tired of that education in a Colonial Debate.
§ Mr. Morgan
I am glad to have had the opportunity of putting these views before the Committee and wishing the Secretary of State God-speed in his great work.
§ Mr. Brooke (Lewisham, West)
Through some of the speeches I have heard to-day there has run a strain of lamentation and pessimism which I do not share. It seems to me that if this House does its work properly and backs up the Secretary of State, we may be on the threshold of a new era of hope for the West Indies. I justify that statement because for the first time for years we in the House of Commons are really facing facts. This all dates from the decision of Mr. Chamberlain's Government to set up the Royal Commission, followed by the action of that Government in accepting its recommendations, of the present Government in carrying them through and passing the Act of 1940, and, last but not least, if I may strike a personal note, the act of the Prime Minister in appointing the present Secretary of State. We shall do neither ourselves nor the people of the West Indies any good service by looking on the dark side of everything. We are faced with a big task, and we have to grapple with it.
I want to speak about the fundamental economic problems involved in the rehabilitation of the West Indies. Nothing in Sir Frank Stockdale's Report has struck me more than the wise manner in which one of his advisers, Mr. Simey, has correctly summed up the relationship there should be between social welfare and good business sense. It comes out in paragraph 207 of the Report particularly, where Mr. Simey says:Those who approach these problems from the angle of social welfare, including both Government and voluntary workers, should be prepared to meet the business world halfway and think in strictly practical terms of production and employment.That is exactly right; the human side and the economic side are brought together. In some of the 1451 speeches I have heard the social side, the humanitarian side, has been over-stressed; I will try and guard myself against the equal danger of over-stressing the purely economic side. One thing is perfectly clear—we cannot improve standards of social welfare in the West Indies except on a proper and sound economic foundation. It was my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) who spoke forcefully, in our last Debate, about the population position. That has been little mentioned to-day, but it is at the root of the whole West Indian situation. Ever since immigration into the United States from the West Indies came to an end 20 years or so ago, the population of the West Indies has been growing rapidly. Unless we forecast the future growth of population with accuracy and adapt our economic planning to it, we may be in the position of a man who runs what he thinks is a quarter-mile race and then finds that the tape has been moved back and to his mortification realises that he has to go half a mile instead of only a quarter. The population which any country can carry at a reasonable standard of living depends, above most other things, on the land. I hope that the Secretary of State will make clear how far it has been possible to go in carrying out the important recommendations of the Royal Commission on the subjects of soil conservation and soil erosion. There is some reference to this in the Stockdale Report. What is said in paragraph 129 of that Report gives me an uncomfortable feeling that real work on this primary matter has been postponed until after the war. If that is so, I fear we may be in a position of taking decisions about secondary matters before we have one of the primary matters settled.
I cannot address the Committee as an expert on sugar production, or even on sugar consumption, but we may be in danger of leading others into error if we pay too much attention to increasing the total production of sugar in the West Indies. I am not speaking of the productivity per acre; that is exceedingly important. But sheer increases in the total tonnage of sugar produced may and probably will redound rather to the benefit of world consumers than to the West Indian producer, for the reason that sugar is not a commodity in which there is any evidence 1452 at present that demand is outrunning supply. Most important of all to the West Indies as a sugar producer is that world sugar agreements shall achieve a world price for sugar which is reasonably remunerative to the efficient producer. But we must guard against boosting the production of sugar in these islands, simply from a hope of increasing exports indefinitely.
In every country where land is scarce, it is a general economic rule that you must search for products which will give the highest possible yield and the largest possible labour requirement per acre. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner), in the excellent speech with which he opened this Debate, mentioned a number of industrial and semi-industrial projects which it might be possible to introduce into the West Indies. Although in some of these directions he was a little more hopeful than I could feel able to be, it is absolutely right that we should consider all the possibilities, even if we do not necessarily try them all. Industrial development in the West Indies, with the comparative scarcity of raw materials and minerals will certainly be difficult. Primarily we must search for labour-intensive crops, that is to say, for the development of every locally possible crop which requires for its cultivation a large amount of labour per acre of land employed. This seems to me the essential kind of economic study which is required at the very beginning of our policy—to study the labour needs per acre under different systems of cultivation, to study the relative productivity per head on estates and in mixed farming, and, at the root of it all, to study the birth rate and the prospective population. Only in this way can we lay a sound foundation for economic recovery. That is why it is disappointing that in the Report no contribution could have been included from Sir Frank Stockdale's economic advisor, Mr. Benham, who arrived in the West Indies only eight months ago. The importance of the economic research work with which he is charged seems to me so great, so vast and so urgent that he ought to receive every possible help in money and, above all, in staff, in order that his work may be carried out as rapidly, as thoroughly and as penetratingly as possible so as to provide a sure foundation 1453 for the economic structure that has to be built upon it.
I wonder whether the Secretary of State will be able to tell us anything more about the future of the 1940 Act. We have received assurance that it is not ultra vires for the Governments or for Sir Frank Stockdale to submit proposals for expenditure which would run beyond 1951; but we must recognise that we can accept no terminal year in such an important undertaking as we are facing here. The sooner this Parliament makes up its mind that in Colonial development it has to frame its economic and financial plans not for four years or for eight years, but for 20 or 30 years at least, the better it will be for all in the West Indies.
Finally I would like to say a word about the proposal which has been mooted in this Debate, not for the first time, that some kind of body should be set up in England—I have heard it described today alternatively as a development board, an advisory board or a consultative committee. I am not greatly interested in the kind of machinery. The real shortcoming which I see—and it is not wholly our fault—is that in the House of Commons there are so few individual members who know the Colonies at first hand. In the 19th century this House was largely composed of people enjoying considerable leisure. Whether they used that leisure well or ill we need not discuss to-day. Many of them used it thoroughly well in the service of the State. My point is that it was easier in those days for the individual member, if he cared, to make himself acquainted with overseas territories under the British flag. In many respects that will be more difficult for him than ever after this war. But it will be easier in this respect, in that communications are improving and air travel will bring many places, especially outlying islands, nearer to Britain than they have ever been. It is not for us as Private Members to dictate to the Government on the question how our personal knowledge of the Colonial Empire might be improved and enhanced, but there should be joint thought between us and the Secretary of State on the plans that can be made when the war is over and travelling becomes easier, to make certain that every group of Colonies is in the ordinary way visited by six or eight Members of Parliament every year. In the case of the West Indies I wonder whether one 1454 hon. Member has been there since my hon. Friend the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury visited them four years ago as a member of the Moyne Commission. The reason for that is war-time. It is hard enough just now for anybody to get to the West Indies, let alone hon. Members.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
There is a point about this which it is in the public interest that my hon. Friend should answer. I think that he is wrong in assuming that in the 19th century more Members were personally conversant with the Colonies. It is all the other way about, and it should not go out that we in this House are less conversant with the Colonies than they were in the 19th century.
§ Mr. Brooke
I do not think there will be found to be any difference between me and the Noble Lord if he reads what I have said. I was arguing that the ordinary Member of Parliament in the 19th century had a degree of leisure and private means which enabled him to travel if he wished to do so. That will be more difficult after the war, for the ordinary Member acting as a unit. We have to consider how by collective action we can make certain that the growing knowledge of the West Indies of which this Debate to-day gives evidence, shall be developed until this House is as closely in touch with all Colonial territories as each of us aspires to be with his own constituency within this island.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I should like to support the suggestion which has just been made that facilities might be granted for more visits to be paid to our Colonies, though I also agree strongly with the Noble Lord when he said that interest in our Colonies is now greater rather than less, and I think it is important that that should go forth. I should like also to refer for a moment to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner), which interested me very considerably. I cannot pretend that I can deal with its very wide ramifications, but in general it would seem that he made out the case that private enterprise in the West Indies had failed, and failed lamentably. It was a very interesting case, supported by very weighty evidence, and I would suggest that the Colonial Secretary might consider setting 1455 up public corporations in each group of islands which would do the work of forming ancillary industries which private enterprise has apparently been unable to do up to now. As it has not been able to do this up to now, I think we may assume it will be unable to do it after the war.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
I hoped I had made it plain that I thought State enterprise could do it, but that private enterprise could also do it provided conditions were created under which private enterprise would flourish.
§ Mr. Dugdale
There I entirely agree, but I think the hon. and gallant Member means provided there is an estimate of a probable profit of 15 or 20 or 30 per cent., and as I do not think that state of affairs will exist, as I do not want to see large profits made at the expense of the population, and as I do want to see conditions raised to the highest standard, I think these things would be better done by public corporations than by private enterprise. But that was not the main point on which I wished to say a few words. I want to deal with the question of trade union legislation. We have had three incidents during the past year or so which have been somewhat disquieting. We had riots in the Bahamas in June of last year, and there is in the Library a very interesting report on those riots. The thing that interested me most was that legislation dealing with trade unions in the Bahamas is based upon the laws of this country made between 1825 and 1859. It would seem that the alterations in trade union law made in this country as a result of the Taff Vale and Osborne judgments have not found any place in the trade union legislation of the Bahamas. It would seem that that particular group of islands has lived on in the past in that respect, disregarding what has happened in trade union affairs in other countries. I understand that it is possible there may be an alteration in the trade union law there as a result of this Report, and I hope it is so, and that we may get a statement from the Colonial Secretary upon what action it is proposed to take to carry out some of the recommendations of this particularly interesting Report.
I turn to Trinidad. In Trinidad there were riots and disturbances, again connected 1456 with the right of people to organise themselves in groups to defend their wage standards and living conditions. I understand that in Trinidad, certainly until recently, there has been a rule by which ten persons holding a meeting without a permit from the Government were liable either to imprisonment or a fine. That has been altered recently and I understand that there is now a Trade Disputes Ordinance based on our laws, and that is a very great improvement. In spite of what anyone may think about the present Trade Disputes Act, that governs conditions in this country, it is-at least a great improvement on trade union legislation in the West Indies.
Thirdly, I turn to Jamaica. In Jamaica, again, there have been troubles based upon trade union activities. In November we found that four trade unionists were detained for what were called subversive activities. They have since been unconditionally released. We found the action of a railway union was declared to be illegal, and when questions were asked about that particular decision the Colonial Secretary made it plain that the decision had been taken without the approval of the authorities in the Colonial Office here and, indeed, as far as I can gather, without his approval, but on the authority, so I understand it, of the Governor of Jamaica. That ban has now been lifted as a result of pressure from this House. We all know the case of Mr. Dominica. He was arrested, I understand, before he had actually set foot in Jamaica, while he was actually on board ship. The only reason so far as I can understand why he was arrested was that he had gone there to organise trade union activity in Jamaica. I suggest that all these events are very disquieting. Let us suppose that before he became Minister of Labour the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour had been arrested, put into prison, kept there for some time until questions were asked about his arrest, and then released without any really genuine explanation of why he had been released, that it had been done simply because questions had been asked and pressure brought to bear to get him released. I think we should all consider that to be a very unfortunate state of affairs, and because it happens to occur in Jamaica instead of in this country it is none the less unfortunate.
1457 I suggest that instead of waiting until questions are asked in this House and pressure is brought to bear we should have immediately a complete overhaul of trade union legislation not only in particular Colonies where there have been riots, because I admit that as a result of riots there has been some overhaul there, but in all the West Indian Colonies, so that those in which there have not been riots may be treated as well as those in which riots have occurred. It is unfortunate to wait until there are riots before taking action. I want to suggest, further, that a general law, if that be possible, or if it is not possible a number of different laws, be brought in in each of the Colonies to bring their trade union legislation up to the standard of the legislation which exists in this country. There are people who have some doubt as to what we are fighting for, there are many people who have different views as to what world we want to see after the war, but one thing upon which everyone is agreed is that we are fighting for individual liberty, and one of the liberties which is prized most highly is the liberty of individuals to organise in groups to further their own interests and to attain results which they could not attain if they acted singly. I would ask that those liberties which we prize, that particular liberty which we prize so highly in this country, should be given to the West Indies and given without delay.
§ Sir John Graham Kerr (Scottish Universities)
I do not propose to take up time by comments on or criticisms of the Stockdale Report as a whole. I think the whole course of this Debate has demonstrated the general view that in this Report we have a document which is quite outstanding in interest, in excellence and in importance. My few remarks will be concerned with two items in the Report which might perhaps otherwise escape the attention which they deserve. The first of those items consists of a number of refences in the Report to a very great imperial institution which is located in the West Indies, namely, the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture. That college is primarily an institution of technical education in the products of tropical agriculture, the products that are derived from the vegetable world. Primarily it is engaged in teaching, and its admirable staff turns out a continuous stream of highly qualified persons with a special 1458 knowledge of agriculture, but it is also a great centre of research into the most varied aspects of agriculture, forestry and so on. It deals with such matters as the development of particular crops, their propagation, their improvement, and their protection against various pests, animal and vegetable, that interfere with them. It deals, again, with researches into the methods of preserving food and the shipment of food. Finally, it fulfills another not conspicuous function which is of very great importance. The college possesses a tremendous reputation in the neighbouring countries of South America. Over and over again its assistance is appealed for and willingly given, and the missions which it has sent to Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are helping towards building up friendly relations between the South American Republics and ourselves.
The other item in the Report to which I propose to refer is the short section headed "Fisheries." Most of us know that the sea is a great reservoir of food material which could be made use of by man but which even in our civilised European countries is quite inadequately tapped. It is still more inadequately tapped in the tropical seas. That applies particularly to the West Indies, and one of the most interesting points to some of us is the fact that Sir Frank Stockdale has set going a survey of West Indian fisheries, under the direction of one whom I know well to be a highly qualified expert. Some hon. Members must have noticed in that section of the Report the astonishing fact that in the Eastern group of the West Indian islands the main protein food material of the population consists of canned and salted fish imported from overseas. It is an astonishing fact, that out of the whole fish consumption of the inhabitants of those islands, less than half is locally caught. There, surely, is an indication of an extraordinarily valuable development which is foreshadowed by the Stockdale Report, to put right that state of affairs.
The object of my few remarks is simply to appeal to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for his most sympathetic consideration and attention to the development of the West Indies along those two particular lines: the prosperity, development and extension of the Imperial College, which I should like to see developed into a full scale university, but if that is 1459 not possible, at least to see it sprouting out as a great school of tropical medicine, because there you have a locality which is most eminently suited for such a purpose; and secondly, for the development of the local fisheries.
§ Mr. Emmott (Surrey, Eastern)
The fundamental problems of these Colonies are economic. Indeed I think it is true to say that of the greater part of the Colonial Empire to-day the most important questions are not political but economic. There is too much politics in the world to-day, and the most intelligent part of the world is becoming thoroughly bored with politics. You have on the one hand incessant political activity, with new parties being formed and I know not what, and on the other hand a great weariness with the whole subject of politics. There is no doubt that the usual political topics are irrelevant to many of the problems which we have to consider. The problems which are of the greatest interest to the greater part of the modern world are concerned with practical life, and mainly with questions of production and distribution. In the West Indies, as this Report shows, the problems are the fertility of the land and its effect on productiveness, the necessity of the more intensive use of cultivable land, soil erosion, the neglect of food crops and animal husbandry, the drift from the country to the towns, and the pressure of population.
Those are the fundamental and most important problems of these Colonies, and the problems which most interest the world outside are similar ones. Sir Frank Stockdale recognises in his Report, that from these material things very important social and political consequences flow. He says in paragraph 125:Public opinion is now awakening to the fact that soil erosion and the neglect of food crops and animal husbandry have resulted in social and economic problems of considerable magnitude.Parliament and the country are much beholden to Sir Frank Stockdale for issuing this Report and thus concentrating the attention of Parliament and the people upon these questions. Is it too much to hope that we may have, without too long a delay, a similar report dealing with other parts of the Colonial Empire?
This is a very remarkable Report. One of the reasons, and by no means the only one, why I say that is that, whether Sir 1460 Frank Stockdale is considering health, agriculture, labour, social welfare or education, he does not consider the needs of the Colonies under those heads as separate questions, but as various aspects of one whole subject, which is the well-being and welfare of the peoples of the Colonies. And, as he somewhere says,Economics must be interpreted more in terms of welfare than of wealth.I think that nothing is more striking in this remarkable Report than the unity in which the separate subjects are bound together. For example, there is a passage which is primarily concerned with education, and yet, as you read it, you find that it is as much concerned with agriculture and family life. This is in paragraph 259. It says:The foundation of good education is not an elaborate school system. It is the conservation and right use of the means by which the people ultimately live, namely, the soil, and the conservation of the people themselves, by a stable home and stable family economy.There is another passage which I should not like the Committee to forget, in paragraph 274, which deals with teachers. There he says:If the teacher is to bring up good countrymen he must have the outlook of a good countryman himself.Then he uses these very striking words:Whether he works in the country or the town he must understand where the treasure of his country and his people lies.What a fine sentence! That sentence alone would justify this Report. I commend those words not only to the people of the West Indian islands but to the people of the British Isles. So all important aspects of Colonial life are brought in this Report into a unity. And all rest ultimately upon one thing: the land. It is the land from which and upon which the people must get their living, make their life, and find their happiness. Sir Frank Stockdale says that the economic future of the West Indies rests with agriculture. Now it is necessary that agriculture should become more diversified, in order to avoid excessive dependance upon one export crop; but, as the Secretary of State himself pointed out on the occasion on which we last discussed the subject, we must not carry this process too far, or we shall drive down the standard of living of the people of the Colonies to an intolerably low level. What we have therefore to do is to avoid the two extremes of complete dependence upon one export crop, and complete dependence 1461 upon subsistence farming, which would afford only an intolerably low standard of living to the people. Therefore the Report rightly stresses the importance of mixed farming.
But whatever may be done under this head, it remains true, in the words of the Report, that the standards of living of the West Indies are very largely dependent on one crop: sugar. I want to say a word or two upon this topic. I think we should examine with great care the possibility of new uses of sugar. There are here great possibilities. Science may show the way to extract from sugar products of the highest industrial importance. In Britain the basis of industry is coal. Coal tar is the origin of valuable products; it is the foundation of synthetic chemical industries, the importance of which is well known to this Committee. But sugar may well become, so eminent chemists advise me, the foundation of synthetic chemical industries no less important. What coal is to Britain sugar may become to the West Indies. At present this is only a possibility, but it is not something in the air, unrelated to reality. It is a possibility which there is good scientific reason to suppose will become a reality.
What is the key to this development? It is research. Research is bound to cost money. We must find that money. In my submission, the expenditure will justify itself. Research also is bound to take time. It will not bear fruit in a moment, or a few months or even a few years. Therefore we must have patience: but this is a reason for pressing on with it without delay. I lend my full support to what was said on this subject by the junior Member for Cambridge University (Professor A. V. Hill) in the previous Debate. The Colonial Products Research Council is now embarking on the investigation of new uses of sugar with energy and imagination. This Council and all other agencies of Colonial research deserve, I submit, our support and our encouragement, and I invite the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to take the opportunity to-day to give to this Committee an assurance of this encouragement. Further, I invite him to assure the Committee that he will stimulate his Department, if it needs it, and his colleagues, particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if they need it, to appreciate the importance of research, and to take long, 1462 statesmanlike, and generous views of this subject.
I should like to say a word upon something that does not lie in the future but is already present. That is a product known as food yeast. This is an interesting concentrate, rich in proteins and B vitamins, whatever they may be—the things which are found in meat, milk and eggs. Therefore, food yeast is highly nutritious. This product may improve the health and supply the insufficiencies of diet of the inhabitants of countries devastated by this war, after it has ended. It can be put on the market, I believe, at the price of about 6d. per lb., and the ration which an individual requires is only about half an ounce per day. This concentrate utilises molasses, so here we have a new use for sugar. During the period of experiment it has been manufactured by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. I understand that it is now proposed to manufacture this product in Jamaica. Is this so? If it is, is production likely to begin soon? Can the Secretary of State give us further information about it?
I turn to another subject. On 5th March, at Oxford, the Secretary of State made a speech upon the Colonial Empire of which, for the sake of greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. On the last occasion when we debated this subject this speech made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman excited the disapproval of the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones). I am going to attempt to answer him to-day. He will quite understand that no personal animus inspires what I say, but the friendliest personal relations must not be allowed to constitute an obstacle to vigorous political opposition. This is an important subject. What did the hon. Member for Shipley say about the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman? He said the right hon. Gentleman had "put over," as the hon. Member put it, the idea of Imperial exclusiveness in administration by using the words "sole responsibility." He then said—I quote textually:I admit that directly he used those words he made it clear that he stood wholeheartedly for international co-operation or co-operation between the United Nations. I would urge that, much as it may be right that Britain should not and cannot transfer her administrative 1463 responsibilities to an international syndicate, it is imperative that we should give evidence that we welcome third party interest and judgment, that we accept in colonial affairs the principle of accountability, that we are prepared to submit our stewardship to international authority to judge and that we welcome the fullest co-operation between the nations…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th March, 1943; col. 1094, Vol. 387.]—and so on. Words, words. What do they mean? Well meaning, well sounding, vague and ambiguous phrases. Truly did a great Victorian statesman once say that nearly all political errors spring from the misuse of words.
The hon. Member talks of "accountability." accountability to whom? He says that we should welcome third-party interest and judgment. But the two things are utterly different. Does he not realise that those two things belong to two completely different categories of political thought? The Prime Minister referred on one occasion to the prospect of the affairs of Britain and the United States being much mixed up in the future, and welcomed that prospect. And so do I, but let the mixing up be in the sphere of external affairs and not among the ideas in our own minds. Interest, yes. The interest that leads to joint discussion and co-operation in practical measures. But the hon. Member talks of judgment. What does judgment imply? It implies authority over another. Then another is to be set in authority over us in these Colonies? Which nation is to be set in authority over us? Perhaps not one nation, because the hon. Member speaks of submitting our stewardship to international authority to judge. Then many? Worse still! Confusion worst confounded! However that nice question be decided, this fundamental one remains. If other nations are to be the judges of Britain, where is the sovereignty of those territories? Britain's sovereignty must surely be yielded up to Britain's judges: Britain's sovereignty is ended. Then his argument is really an argument for the disruption of the Colonial Empire. If he shrinks from this conclusion, and does not mean that British sovereignty should be ended, he must mean at least that it should be shared. This argument is for divided responsibility and divided authority. I find it difficult to imagine a method of government more vicious or more certain to result in inefficiency and maladministration. The kind of co-operation 1464 to which the suggestions of the hon. Member for Shipley would lead is the wrong kind of co-operation. Indeed, it would be no co-operation at all. It would lead to jealousies and disputes and all kinds of difficulties. The right kind of co-operation is the co-operation which rests upon the sole responsibility of the British Government for British Colonies. On that sure foundation, and on that alone, can we build international co-operation, which will be expressed and practised by appropriate instruments.
Such an instrument of co-operation between Britain and the United States of America we have already in the Anglo-American Carribean Commission, to which no reference has been made to-day, but for referring to which I make no apology. I support with conviction and enthusiasm everything which tends to promote harmony between Britain and the United States. I hold that to achieve and preserve this harmony should be the first object of British policy. Agreement between Britain and America with me is not a mere conventional phrase, a decoration of Parliamentary speeches. To me, it is a principle of action, a principle of foreign policy. This Anglo-American Carribean Commission affords an example of this principle in action. In passing I would like to make one remark about the Rockefeller Foundation. I was glad to read the reference in the Report to the very valuable collaboration and help which is being received from the Foundation. As to the Commission, I rejoice in the evidences of fruitful co-operation between Britain and America to be found on many pages: co-operation in the medical field, in work on health, including the unhappily important subject of venereal disease, in research on sugar, fisheries, co-operation with American colleges, broadcasting, and other subjects. This is the way to work together, to begin from the lowest level, and to work towards practical, definite objectives. Here, in the words which the Secretary of State used on the last occasion, I believe, is a new technique of international co-operation. The success already achieved by this Commission is, I think, of good augury for the future. Within the limits of its work it is doing, and will do, great good. Outside those limits, is will have a most happy and beneficial effect on the relations between the two nations.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
I would like to ask a question of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman about the Report on Nutrition in the Colonial Empire for the year 1939, which was published in two volumes. Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman take steps to bring that Report to the notice of not only the general public but all members of this House? Having been published in 1939, it seems to have come at a very bad time, and to have fallen out of notice. Will he also consider the question of publishing an abbreviated form of this Report, somewhat similar to the abbreviated form of the Beveridge Report, which was published by His Majesty's Stationery Office? I found after the last Debate on Colonial affairs in this House, not long ago, that a number of members, some of the most distinguished scientific attainments, had never heard of the Report, because it was published in 1939. It is such an extremely valuable Report, full of evidence supplementing the Stock-dale Report, that I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will pay attention to my question, and, if possible, that he will give an affirmative answer.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton, West)
The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Emmott) started by saying that political controversy was unnecessary, at least, in the matter of Colonial affairs. He then proceeded to dive head foremost into acute political controversy. That being 50, I think we are entitled to stir the placid waters of this Debate with some amount of contention and disagreement. I would first state, perhaps irrelevantly, but not entirely so, that some Members of this House deprecate the intrusion into Colonial affairs of members of the Labour Party. I suppose it does not matter so much when my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) intervenes, because he happens to have been to the West Indies, but more than one Member of this House has suggested in so many words that it is out of place and unseemly for those who have not actually visited some of these Colonial areas to ask questions or make observations about them. One Member, familiar to us all, somewhat vehemently asked yesterday what right we had to ask questions when we had not been to these Colonial areas. I am not much concerned with what she says. Her remarks do not matter the 1466 proverbial twopennyworth of gin—even though I understand she condemns but never drinks it.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
On a point of Order. I understand that we are discussing the Constitution of Jamaica and the condition of the West Indian islands. The hon. Gentleman seems to bring in all sorts of matters very remote from that.
§ Mr. Sorensen
The hon. Member who intervened knows well to whom I was alluding. He was one of the culprits. Unless you rule me out of Order, Major Milner, I am going to explain why I intervene when I have not been to these Colonial areas. It is precisely because other Members in this House do not want us to intervene. A second reason is that it does not necessarily follow that because the hon. Member opposite and others have been to these Colonies they know anything about the real human problems there. It depends upon what you look for when you go there, and by what criterion you interpret what you see. Some Members have gone primarily, if not exclusively, to find out how they can exploit the natural resources for business purposes, others for recreation and leisure, others to see what man-power or strategic resources are available. Others have gone there to find out what human needs exist, and how they can meet those human needs. It is true that these motives may intermingle. I am not suggesting that those who are interested in the human needs of those areas are confined to the Labour benches, but it is well for some Members to speak who have a democratic approach to these Colonial matters, even if they have not been there, rather than that the only people who should speak should be those who belong to the 19th, the 18th or the 17th century. Therefore, I make no apology for not having been to those areas. If it has been my misfortune, through lack of time and money, not to have been there, I may one day make up for that.
So far as the West Indies are concerned, we have a considerable amount of information available, both in official reports and in human records, from both white and coloured peoples. I am grateful to Sir Frank Stockdale for adding to that information, but I must express regret that we have not yet had the information divulged by the Royal Commission which 1467 went out to the West Indies some time ago, made available to this House. We have, however, a certain volume of facts, and it is up to us who are interested in human liberties to interpret those facts democratically. I am glad that, after a succession of excellent Colonial Secretaries, another one has entered the procession. I would say, in addition, that I do not venture to congratulate or to compliment him too warmly, lest a few of his hon. Friends suspect him because of my congratulations. Nevertheless, I would say to him—and I appreciate his concern in this matter and also that his political outlook will not be on the same lines as my own—that I will do all in my power constructively to help him to carry on his great task. The question arises regarding the West Indies, and indeed all colonies, why should we bother about these places and peoples? Why should we concern ourselves with these teeming and swarming millions? What particular reason have we for going out there in order to try to lift up these people from the economic and social morass into which so many have fallen?
There are some who look upon our Colonial Empire as imperialistic. If the hon. Member for East Surrey does not mind my saying so, it is precisely that attitude which he has in regard to the Colonial Empire. He referred on one occasion to our Imperial Estate. Obviously, his chief concern here is merely that we should increase the number of Imperial bailiffs rather than that we should aim at the ultimate emancipation of the estate in order that the people themselves might govern their own lives and destinies. Here again there is a divergence between some of us in this Committee. There are those who argue that it is all very well to talk about democracy, but the main need of the Colonial peoples is not political but economic. I appreciate that point. On the other hand, if we are merely or primarily concerned with the economic development of these areas, then a very strong case can be made out for the type of supervision exercised by the Italians, the Germans, and the Japanese. Italian economic development in North Africa and Abyssinia was in some respects most remarkable. But the people were serfs. It is precisely because of that distinction that we on these benches allege that mere economic 1468 development, without at the same time the realisation of the political dignity of these people, brings us spiritually no way further towards the fulfilment of the aspirations of these people. On the other hand, it is equally true that to establish a new democratic Constitution—as has been indicated in Jamaica—without linking it up with economic developments is indeed a betrayal of the democratic experiment itself. There are possibly great and serious dangers and difficulties regarding the extension of democracy in the West Indies or elsewhere. Someone touched on the biological problem, and although I do not subscribe to all that Malthus and others have promulgated, it is true that here as elsewhere in the world there is a danger of such a human fecundity existing in some parts of the world as to outstrip temporarily the means of subsistence.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I said "danger temporarily," unless there is drastic economic development to meet the growing need. It is a controversial matter, and I do not want to divert myself from the main theme of my subject to-day. I mention it as a factor which must be considered. One of the difficulties which exists in the minds of many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee is the real apprehension that, if democracy in Europe has collapsed in many parts owing to lack of political interest, responsibility and training, is it not likely that democracy will in the end collapse in the West Indies, where we have a great mass of semi-literate people, who it is alleged provide very suitable material for deceptive demagogues? That may be so. If that be so, it is in fact a challenge not only to democracy in the West Indies, but indeed to democracy in the Western world as well. That is one reason why I am glad an experiment is being made, very much overdue, in Jamaica. I express the hope that not only will that experiment be backed up and have all the enthusiasm possible given to it, but also that the same principle be extended elsewhere in the West Indies, otherwise we shall find one little Island in which this experiment is taking place, whereas all the rest are assumed to be at a lower level and unsuitable for that experiment.
It should be realised that the concession of a new Constitution to Jamaica has 1469 largely been given because of the indigenous agitation of the people themselves, and we should welcome it. There are many who frown upon it with a certain amount of misgiving and hostility. Will Members who do that appreciate that the agitation of a political character that we have seen in Jamaica and elsewhere has been a sign of human awakening and that, therefore, we should welcome it rather than deprecate it? Just as in this country our political expansion was preceded by considerable agitation, which we now appreciate, but did not do so then, so, also where these people in the West Indies set to work in their own way to interpret the political aims of their friends and colleagues they should be welcomed and not condemned as agitators merely disturbing the peace because of some ulterior motive. Therefore, I am glad that, having agitated, they have in some measure got their reward.
I could offer some criticism of the Jamaica Constitution, but that is not for me to do. I am glad to know that all the political parties in Jamaica have accepted the proposal. That being so, I must leave it until they decide that they want some improvements. It is not for us here to interfere unduly with what peoples elsewhere do. They have in their wisdom accepted the Constitution, and those of us who try to assist them have to wait until the West Indian islands feel that they want some further and more drastic development. What is required in the whole of the West Indies is that we should not merely give to Jamaica this experiment and leave it there. We have to have in the West Indies a counterpart of our own Beveridge plan in this country. The Stockdale Report is this in some measure, but it is not nearly enough. It falls short of one fundamental need. Although the social, educational, and economic proposals are excellent, they still fail to recognise that unless there is drastic economic development of a comprehensive character, on the one hand, the democratic experiment, and on the other hand, the social reforms, will be nullified. Reference is made to the great need of education. We are all agreed. One of the greatest weaknesses of democracy is lack of education, and that is what is required in the West Indies.
But, it will be urged, the plan of better education, whether juvenile or adult, cannot be afforded because economic resources are so sparse or this country cannot 1470 afford indefinitely to hand out financial assistance. We should therefore draw up a plan for the development of the whole of the West Indies, based not merely on social reforms, but on fundamental economic development. I would like to see secondary industries initiated and owned by the Government. I would like to see proper comprehensive economic planning of all the agricultural, industrial and commercial resources of the Caribbean area with a view to public planning, public ownership and public initiative. I would like to see collective farming introduced in place of the rather piecemeal suggestions of peasant agriculture, however valuable that may be. I would like to see a co-operative movement stimulated by the people themselves, so that they can help to overcome some of their own difficulties in their own way.
I am sorry to say that up to now little has been said about the disparity between Jamaica and other West Indian islands, in particular, the Bahamas. We were all much troubled some time ago to receive news of riots in the Bahamas. Now we find that after investigation certain proposals are being made. What does that mean? It means that those riots appear to be justified and that if heads had not been broken, we would not now be considering how to fill stomachs. It is lamentable but obviously true that if there had not been this discontent and agitation in the Bahamas, we might still find ourselves to-day drifting on, unconcerned with the peoples of that land. Let some of my hon. Friends opposite think that over and realise that we owe a debt to these men for agitating——
§ Colonel Stanley
I know that the hon. Gentleman always tries to speak with a sense of responsibility, but he will, I am sure, realise that lives were lost in this rioting and that what he is saying may create the unfortunate opinion that we owe a debt to the men who were responsible for the murder of others and that the riots which led to the deaths of innocent people were justified.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I am very much obliged to the Colonial Secretary for asking me to be careful. I mean that in all sincerity, because I am the last one in the world to want to appear to endorse violence or to stir up unnecessary feelings.
§ Sir P. Hannon
Then I will tell the hon. Member, if he will give way. The speeches made in this House by himself and one or two of his colleagues have given rise to a great deal of the disturbance, anarchy and bloodshed.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am afraid I do. When somebody kills somebody else in a riot, I describe that as murder.
§ Mr. Sorensen
After that brief, bright and brotherly interlude, I would like to say to the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) that it is entirely untrue that any words of mine have caused the death of anybody. On the contrary, I have not incited anybody. It is precisely the blind complacency such as is shown by the hon. Member that has been responsible for the disturbances we have had. It is a Pilatelike attitude to wash one's hands after having allowed people to get into a position where their emotions have been stirred up and have led to unfortunate, lamentable and tragic deeds. I earnestly apologise if anything I have said appears to be an incitement, because it was far from what I had in mind. I was trying to point out that if there had not been these disturbances, action would not have been taken. The only sense in which I used a perhaps unfortunate phrase was not to stir up violence but rather to attempt to stir up any stagnant minds of the people among whom these alleged agitators live. The same accusation has been made before against some of us who take a living interest in these matters. It was made against the Chartists, the trade unions and even those Liberal forefathers of the Liberal Party when they were striving for greater representation in this House. I want to make it quite clear that I deprecate with the utmost sincerity any employment of violence. I fully appreciate the inflammable material that exists in some parts of the world, but equally I am convinced that we cannot ignore these facts and that if we do not try to discriminate between tragic and lamentable violence on the one hand and genuine 1472 political action on the other, but merely try to fuse the two together and condemn them we shall be rendering a great disservice to democracy. If my imperfect words have misled the Colonial Secretary or anyone else, I can only express my regret, because I hope no words of mine will ever lead anyone astray.
As regards the Bahamas, we have had a Report which reveals a lamentable set of circumstances. We find an outworn Constitution, no Income Tax, no funds available for the Colonial Welfare Act, no secret ballot, poverty and much else. I can only hope that the proposals now coming forward will adequately deal with that grave state of affairs. I would like to express my appreciation of the efforts of the Governor of the Bahamas, the Duke of Windsor. Unfortunately, his efforts have been frustrated, but I would like to congratulate him on the action he did take and the motives that preceded that action. I hope that the whole question of the development of the West Indies will not be left where it is, excellent as the political Constitution of Jamaica and the proposals of the Stockdale Report may be. We should have a comprehensive survey of the whole of the West Indies—a political and economic survey. We should welcome the new Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, because it suggests the development of a particular area according to its economic resources and not merely according to its political divisions. If we take that into consideration, I think we shall find that in a few years a federated and prosperous West Indies will gladly choose to remain associated with this country. I want that to happen, because I believe it will be better for the West Indies, but if we are to persuade the peoples of the West Indies that they freely ought to co-operate with us, we shall have to prove it is worth while to them and recognising in turn that they have been so worth while to us. The only way we can do that is to build up a civilisation worthy of their native resources, their destiny and their human fulfilment.
§ Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas (Portsmouth, South)
Before the hon. Member sits down, may I ask whether he is aware that four or five months ago the League of Coloured Peoples, in their news-letter, expressed the very strong hope that after the war the naval bases would be returned to the British Empire, because they preferred to remain inside the Empire?
§ Mr. Sorensen
I have never suggested that the Colonies should go out of the Empire. I have said definitely that I hope they will remain in the Empire. I want them to co-operate with us, because I think it is better for them as well as for us, but I think it must be their choice in the end, if not now.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
I suggest to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) that, notwithstanding all his sincerity, for which all of us give him full credit, he is not serving the cause of the Colonial Empire very helpfully in some of the speeches he makes. I have had an opportunity of seeing a good deal of the Colonial Empire, including the West Indies, and I feel that only those who have been in contact with the situation of affairs which arises in those Colonies from time to time can fully understand how inflammable the material is. I think that in our speeches here we should always consider that. Let me say now that I do not think all hon. Members appreciate adequately the debt we owe to the Colonial administrations in various Colonies. The Governors and the officials attached to them have been rendering, in most difficult times, services of incalculable value not only to the cause of Colonial development and expansion and the creation of economic stability and strength within the Empire, but to the maintenance of our high morality and prestige among all peoples whose aims are peace, understanding and good will. We ought to pay the greatest respect to our Colonial administrations. Nobody admires more than I do the sincerity of the hon. Member for West Leyton, but in listening to his speeches I always find in them that little touch of bitterness which can do so much harm throughout the Colonial Empire. Even the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Adams), for whom I entertain the greatest respect, sometimes makes statements, I am perfectly certain without malice aforethought on his part, which are not helpful——
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
If everybody were as well fed as the hon. Member is, things would be all right.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I am sure that Colonial administration will not derive much advantage from the interventions of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), whose contributions have never been very 1474 helpful to Colonial administration. The only appeal I make to the Committee is that, considering that the Governors and the staffs attached to them throughout the Colonial Empire, are faced with problems of great difficulty and delicacy from day to day, nothing should be said by hon. Members on either side that would make the administrative difficulties of these people more acute and embarrassing than they have been in the past. I would like to pay a tribute to my right hon. and gallant Friend the Colonial Secretary for the work he is doing for the Colonial Empire. Knowing something of the work that Sir Frank Stockdale has done in previous investigations and reports in relation to Colonial development, I am sure the Committee will be grateful to him for the Report he has prepared on the West Indies.
I was particularly gratified to hear one of my hon. Friends pleading for still further consideration for agriculture. I know that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Colonial Secretary has a very warm corner in his heart for the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, which is rendering services of immense value to tropical agriculture throughout the world, not merely in the West Indies but wherever research and scientific development can be turned to advantage. On the general question of Colonial administration, I am satisfied that hon. Members will always give their support to those who are charged with the very responsible task of dealing in many cases with primitive peoples and half-developed communities, where the introduction and furtherance of education and a steady rise in the standards of the people is a profound consideration to those who are charged with the administration. I congratulate the Colonial Secretary on his work, and I appeal to hon. Members opposite not to embarrass our Colonial administrations overseas by the speeches which they make.
§ Mr. David Adams (Consett)
I will not follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon), who seems to think that criticism from this side of the Committee should be either stifled or dull. Personally, I have been most careful never at any time to attempt to embarrass the Colonial Secretary; on the contrary, any information in my possession which I have felt might be of use to him I have been only too delighted to 1475 pass on. I wish to thank the Colonial Secretary for this further opportunity of discussing the West Indies. The West Indies, however, is only one small part of the Colonial Empire. The demand for further knowledge of the Colonial Empire is rapidly increasing among hon. Members, and the demand is being made that there should be set up some Parliamentary committee, after the fashion and heart of the Colonial Secretary himself, in order that hon. Members may have greater opportunities of studying the problems that arise in connection with this great Colonial Empire.
While I am thankful for the Stockdale Report, which is comprehensive and mainly good, it is nevertheless discouraging and hesitant in many parts. Probably the Committee recognises, as we ought to do, that an area as depressed as the West Indies undoubtedly is cannot be restored by the small expenditure proposed of £8,000,000 or £10,000,000 in the course of the next eight or 10 years. When one considers that already only £250,000 has been expended in 1941–42 and that under the conditions the balance of approximately £1,750,000 cannot be expended, the situation certainly is not very satisfactory, and ought to be clarified. Sir Frank Stockdale has adumbrated some 120 schemes costing about £5,890,000, but no one can imagine that if these were carried into effect to-morrow they would have any appreciable effect on the situation in the West Indies. One knows that much greater sums are expended by other great Powers upon their Colonies than the Colonial Office propose to spend. It may be of interest to the Committee to know that the total of British Government loans in all the Colonies is £110,000,000 and that there is a private capital investment of £240,000,000 making a total of £350,000,000. But in Palestine Jewish investment actually amounts to one-third of that total of Colonial expenditure. In Palestine £20,000,000 has been given in free gifts and there has been private capital investment of £100,000,000, making a total of £120,000,000, or one-third of the total amount expended upon all our Colonies.
§ Mr. Astor (Fulham, East)
Surely the hon. Member will agree that his analogy is not correct. The money is not for the benefit of the old inhabitants but for immigrants.
§ Mr. Adams
I am not discussing the purpose to which the money is applied. I am giving an illustration of what is apparently urgently necessary in Palestine, the expenditure of this sum, being a third of the total amount which we think it necessary to expend on the whole Colonial Empire. With regard to the Jamaican Constitution, we cannot but be very grateful that this is on the high road to being completed. It has been long in coming, and it will find acceptance from all sections of the community. But is there any just reason why similar Constitutions, suitable to other sections of the West Indies, should not be brought to fruition at a relatively early period? If they are not ready and ripe for that change, there is something wrong in our administration and in our alleged partnership with these people.
In my judgment the question of land tenure is one of fundamental importance, to which the Stockdale Report certainly does not give the weight that should attach to it. There is no question of any further serious redistribution of land to be made available to the majority of the people in order to grow a substantial part of their foodstuffs. Otherwise, as at present, after a period of three or four months when the work on the plantations practically comes to an end there will be a restoration and continuance of the poverty that prevails among the sugar workers. We know that the Royal Commission of 1938–39 stressed the urgent need of extensive land settlement by compulsory purchase and credit facilities for the settlers, and, while the Stockdale Report certainly states that further land settlement is to be desired, nothing of a very practical character is set out. It cannot but be agreed that private land tenure in many directions has been a failure. Yet there is no reference that I can find to communal or State ownership or a proper redistribution of land holdings. There is a recommendation which has not, I think, been fully explained, and that is that long-term leases should be established whereby a hereditary class of tenant may be developed under proper guidance and control. How that is to be achieved or what it means I do not know, but the total amount suggested for land settlement is only some £16,000. How the position of the small man is to be improved unless you can bring him into 1477 touch with the land I do not know. There is no reference, as there well might have been, to collective farming. There is a half-hearted reference to co-operative farming and better use of the land, but no particular schemes are put forward.
I should like to call attention particularly to Barbados, Antigua and St. Kitts, where peasant ownership is urgently required. A very unfortunate situation prevails on the sugar estates. Small areas have been allotted for housing, but, to obtain them, they must have employment at the hands of the planters, and I am credibly advised that they must accept the very hard terms offered or they will be turned out of their holdings and deprived of a livelihood. Two thousand acres have been granted to these estate labourers, but I am informed that they consist of most inferior land on the mountain sides, which is shared by some 7,500 estate labourers. Sir Frank proposes that an additional 20 acres should be bought, to extend the town of Basseterre, but that is not sufficient, and it will only affect the townspeople. It is too far away from the workers upon the sugar estates. There is no question that the bold policy ought to be the purchase of a sufficient area from each of these estates for housing and the growing of crops, making the sugar workers free and independent of the growers and of the landlordism that prevails at present. We are told that there should be some method of intensive mixed farming, but how you can have any development in that direction unless there is an intensive drive towards co-operation for the purchase of equipment and fertilisers has not been suggested.
I lament that the Colonial Office has been backward in the matter of housing. It is one of the greatest disabilities under which the people of the West Indies suffer. Everywhere there is a lamentable lack of decent houses. Slumdom is more common than proper housing, yet no plans are definitely adumbrated. We are told that they are still in a preliminary stage. We are informed that the appointment of an officer with an expert knowledge of housing and town planning to advise on these matters is under consideration by the Secretary of State. "Under consideration" at this time of day seems as though the Colonial Office has slumbered and slept.
The social welfare section of this Report is very gloomy reading. There is no 1478 scheme of social security or for the reform of destitution. The lack of social security is a commonplace among the population, and some definite programme ought to be laid down. In reply to a question of mine, the Colonial Secretary stated that he had no proposals at the moment to submit on the lines of the Beveridge Report. I wonder why he has not proposals to submit. I wonder why the Colonial Office cannot take that broad outlook on the situation that it requires if we are to be the reformers we state we are and if we are emerging into a period in which over-lordship shall give place to partnership. There is no declaration of social advance to meet the needs of the West Indian peoples.
The question of education is not being dealt with in the comprehensive spirit which it requires. It is a shameful admission that 40 per cent. only of those eligible to attend school do attend, whatever the reason may be. There is a shortage of teachers for children between 5 and 15 of no fewer than 17,000, and we are advised that this lack is not likely to be made up in a reasonable time. We are told that nursery and infant schools are required, but that they are likely to be few because of expense. If expense is to stand in the way, illiteracy will prevail, and we shall have something which other nations look upon as being one of the prerequisites of reform so far as Colonial or similar people are concerned. We are told in the Report that it is important in the matter of school meals and milk that we must no pauperise the population. I thought that the theory about pauperisation in giving children reasonable supplies of foodstuffs to enable them to receive education had long since disappeared. Unless the Government are prepared to expend vastly greater sums upon education in the West Indies, we are failing to fulfil our obligations to these people.
Sugar is the mainstay of these islands, both economically and socially, and there should be stabilisation of price, guaranteeing fair conditions and wages to the labourers and a more adequate return to the growers. That has been suggested by Commission after Commission. It has also been suggested that to help the West Indies there should be a further increase in the quota to 120,000 tons. That will greatly improve the situation, but unless we recognise the idea of partnership in the matter of sugar in the West Indies in 1479 the same way that recognition has been granted by this House to the sugar beet growers of this country, there will be no solution to the West Indian situation. We must be as generous to the West Indies in this matter as we have been to sugar beet growers in this country. I contend that the economic systems of these islands have not been viewed as a whole and that the potentialities for developing secondary industries, manufacturing, building material, processing of local products, exploitation of minerals, etc., seem to have been slurred over. There has been concentration on welfare rather than on the economic advance of the islands, which, in view of the magnitude of the problem, is the first interest. The reason for that is that the Economic Adviser came late to the Stockdale Committee and that Sir Frank Stockdale did not have the benefit of his advice for some three months afterwards. Perhaps we may be told whether there has been an urgent request for the establishment of secondary industries in Jamaica. The questions of cement production, paper making, expansion of the soap industry and rice processing in British Honduras have been under consideration for some years without any replies of an effective character being given to those who were prepared at their own charge to establish certain of these and other industries.
Is the Colonial Empire being farmed in the interests of British producers and exporters or not? If it is not, the lip service, which we are glad to have seen, which has been given to the establishment on proper lines of secondary industries should be translated into a reality. Unless we do that, the reliance which this Report puts on agricultural development virtually alone will leave us in the position that in 10 years' time, if we Debate this question again, we shall find a situation very similar to that which prevails at the present time. An entirely new outlook is required by the Colonial Office and the local Governors. I declare from the evidence, such as the treatment of the trade unionists and others, that the spirit of overlordship is still dominant on this side, that partnership and equality have not so far seriously emerged, that there is required a conscious drive by the Colonial Office and the Governors towards early self-government, full and unfettered industrial expansion, and, at whatever the cost, the raising 1480 of the standard of life of the workers out of the morass of ignorance, poverty, ill-health and insecurity which now exists.
§ Captain Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
The wide range of this Debate and the general interest which has been shown in it fully justified me, I think, in asking that another day should be set aside to discuss the West Indies, and I want to thank the Secretary of State for supporting me and assisting in obtaining this additional day. In thanking him for his assistance I should also like to congratulate him on two other things. First I want to congratulate him on his acceptance of the Jamaica Constitution and of the principal recommendations of the Stockdale Report. The Jamaica Constitution is a step in the direction of carrying out the principles laid down in the Atlantic Charter. It is also an answer to those people who say that Britain is out to exploit her Colonies. As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said on the last occasion, the art of writing Constitutions is not mastered in a day; it is the spirit in which the Constitution is carried out in the country concerned that really matters. I am glad to see that there is a wide measure of support in Jamaica for this Constitution, and I hope the people there will accept it and put it into practice.
The Stockdale Report is a very comprehensive document. It covers a wide field, and the only criticism I have of it is that it does not cover a wider area. I regret that the Bahamas are left out of this Report, and in this connection I should like to know from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman what attitude he is going to adopt towards the Report of the Sir Alison Russell Commission which he has told us is in the Library. There are some important recommendations in that Report. The Bahamas require just as much attention as any other part of the West Indies or any other part of the Colonial Empire, and in spite of the fact that they are perhaps richer and are the hide-out of a great many millionaires who went there to escape Income Tax, I think the problems confronting that delightful part of the world are just as serious as those in Jamaica or any other part of the West Indies. They are within the hurricane belt, and the housing conditions are appalling, except in a few areas, and their social conditions call for as much attention as those in any part of the West Indies. I 1481 hope the recommendations of this Commission will be implemented and that the Minister in his reply will give us some idea of the attitude he is taking.
What struck me most forcibly in reading the Stockdale Report was the similarity of the problems in each of the islands concerned. Nearly all those problems have been referred to to-day by different speakers. Agriculture is the chief problem, with soil erosion—and that ran through the whole Debate—and then there are education, broadcasting—of vital importance—the public health services, swamp reclamation, water supplies, housing, hospitals and trained personnel. Those are the chief subjects dealt with in the Report, and they concern practically every one of these islands. Communications are another vital matter. That subject is, I understand, being dealt with by the Caribbean Commission. I should like to know what steps are being taken now to provide aerodromes on these islands and to get air communication between them, and what steps are being taken to safeguard our interests in those islands as against those of Pan-American Airways.
Another thing that struck me is that the recommendations and schemes put forward in the Report, although admirable in themselves and absolutely essential, are only temporary palliatives, and constitute only a short-term policy, and that if the Report is implemented, as I hope it will be, immediately or as soon as possible, the whole of the £5,500,000 set aside for the Colonial Empire Development Fund for one year will be used up here without dealing with the rest of the Colonial Empire. As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself said on the last occasion, obviously he will require more money if he is to fulfil his duties as Colonial Secretary, and in his references to his problems he said that he would have to call upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase in some way the Exchequer grant.
I am going to make a suggestion, which is not a new one, because I have made it more than once before, on how to meet this situation. It is obvious that very large sums of money will be required in the future if we are to deal with the Colonial Empire as a whole, and it will not be done with the £5,500,000 a year of the Colonial Empire Development Fund. I would suggest that that £5,500,000 should be used as interest and sinking fund on a large 1482 long-term loan. That would provide sufficient money to meet the whole of our Colonial problems. If that were done, I could see some hope for the future. Otherwise I see developing in other parts of the Empire a repetition of the position in the West Indies. It is already developing rapidly in some parts.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I am sure the hon. and gallant Member will bear in mind, in regard to his suggestion for a long-term loan, that as the process of development continues, the Colonies themselves will become self-supporting and that this capital expenditure will to some extent be repaid.
§ Captain Macdonald
I see nothing in the recommendations of the Stockdale Report which will make these West Indian Colonies self-supporting. The recommendations mostly concern social reforms and health services, which will be a recurring charge on the Exchequer, and unless and until secondary industries can be found and agriculture developed to such an extent as to enable these Colonies to be self-supporting—and that involves a very big "if"—I see no signs of their becoming self-sufficient. It is true that by grouping the Colonies, by federation, we may be able to meet that problem but, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, it has to be a gradual process.
§ Captain Macdonald
In spite of what people have said, that matter cannot be rushed. You must have the urge from below.
§ Dr. Morgan
Is it not a fact that the people of the West Indies, the voteless people, through their elected representatives who have the franchise, have been asking for the federation of those islands for the last 50 years or longer?
§ Captain Macdonald
Some of them may have been, but the fact remains that it has not come about. One often finds that the poorer sections of a community are very anxious for federation, while the richer ones stand off from it, for obvious reasons. You have the same thing in Africa and in other places. It is understandable, but it is essential that we should have federation, and I hope that it will come about in time. Until then, I see no prospects of the islands being self-supporting 1483 and I see a recurrence of the problems with which we are dealing to-day.
That brings me to the question of a long-term policy, which is absolutely essential if we are to have any continuity at all in our administration and policy for the Colonial Empire. Somebody asked to-day how this awful situation in the West Indies had come about. It has come about because we never had a long-term policy for the Colonial Empire. Nobody has ever looked far enough ahead. It has only been when we had a crisis of some kind that we have sent our Commissions to deal with them, and to deal piecemeal at that, as does this Report. Therefore, it is essential to have a long-term policy, so that the whole range of the Colonial Empire should be surveyed and so on, and that a policy should be laid down. I am going to refer again to something which I have mentioned on more than one occasion and have very strongly urged on the various Colonial Secretaries we have had in the last few years, and that is the setting-up of a Colonial Development Council or Board to review the whole field of Colonial development. It is time that the Colonial Office made a decision on this question and let the House have its views, because I know that my suggestion has very strong support in the country by people who understand the Colonial Empire.
I shall not take up any more time. I am very gratified that this Debate has taken place. I have always taken a great interest in the West Indies as well as in other Colonies, and, in visiting the West Indies, I have always been struck with the patriotism and loyalty of the West Indian people towards the British Crown. The people have the greatest pride in being under the British flag. That has been proved, if proof were necessary, by their attitude in this war and by the grants they have made to the Exchequer for assistance in the war effort, as well as by providing Spitfires and bomber squadrons and troops in large numbers for our Forces.
I wish to express regret, not for the first time, that some shortsighted C.I.G.S. at the War Office some years ago disbanded the West Indian Regiment. I regret it very much indeed, and I do hope that when the war is over that regiment 1484 will be restored. The people took a great pride in it. They made excellent soldiers, and they took a pride in the fact that they were contributing towards their own defence. Just as the West African Rifles provide for the defence of that territory and are one of the best fighting units of the British Empire, so the West Indies were glad to have a regiment of their own. I hope also that it might be possible to provide the West Indies with a Spitfire or bomber squadron of their own, on a base there, as part of the defence of the Empire.
Another thing that has always struck me, and saddened me, on my visits to the West Indies has been the housing conditions there and the bad conditions of health. The Report of the Stockdale Commission goes some way to meet that situation, but a great deal of money and effort is required if the housing and social conditions of those islands are to be improved. I hope that no time will be lost in carrying out the recommendations of this Commission and that the recommendations will be put into operation as soon as possible, whatever the cost.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)
I feel that I ought to apologise to the Committee. Owing to our procedure, and the hereditary principle which exercises such a limitation upon my Parliamentary Secretary, I have already had to address hon. Members twice on this subject, and if I now have to inflict myself upon them for a third time, I can only ask them to believe, in all sincerity, that it hurts me more than it hurts them.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am glad the hon. Gentleman is going to suffer and, I hope, suffer in silence. Most of this Debate has turned, as is natural, upon the Stockdale Report, and I think it is a very good pointer to the future of Colonial discussions in this House. My own view is that the really satisfactory Parliamentary discussion will always take place when hon. Members have had the opportunity before of study of documents which give them the facts and the background on which they can exercise their critical faculties and imagination, and which I think alone provides the proper basis for a reasoned discussion upon Colonial affairs. It is a 1485 great misfortune that, owing to the pressure of war-time work upon Colonial administration, the ordinary annual reports have had to be stopped during war-time, but I certainly hope that we shall consider publishing after the war and making available to Members of the House of Commons the fullest reports upon all the Colonies. Only so, I believe, can Debate and discussion become really effective.
In my reply I, in turn, will devote myself largely to the Stockdale Report, but for that very reason I will try to clear out of the way first one subject which has been raised by nearly every hon. Member who has spoken and which has been outside the scope of the Report, and that is the present situation in the Bahamas. It is clear, from many references which have been made, that hon. Members are deeply interested and concerned about the situation there. We all remember the unfortunate occurrences of last summer and we all regret outbreaks of that character. Many hon. Members have seen in the Library of the House a copy of the Alison-Russell Report, upon those disturbances and, attached to it, the proposals of the Governor. I am very grateful to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) for his generous tribute to the efforts of the Governor, which he continues to make, for the well-being of the people of those islands. The proposals I refer to are the measures which he intends to propose to the Legislature. I think hon. Members will agree that in those proposals he covers to a large extent the recommendations of the Alison-Russell Report. But, of course, the Committee will have fully in mind the position with regard to the Bahamas. They will remember that this is not a Crown Colony type of government, and it is the possessor, I think, of one of the oldest Constitutions in the British Empire outside this country, and that it is for the Legislature to decided what action is taken upon the proposals, which the Governor is sending down to them. I have every confidence that the Legislature will address themselves to these matters with a sincere desire to do what is best for the Colony, and that they will consider these proposals—proposals which I must say, to hon. Members used to affairs in this country, appear to be of the most reasonable kind—most carefully. Of one thing I am certain. It is that this House will 1486 follow with very great interest the action which they do take upon these proposals, and that this House will join with me in the very earnest hope that they will, as I am sure they will, address themselves with care, with consideration, and with a modern outlook, to the proposals.
§ Dr. Morgan
What would the Colonial Office do if this high-franchised Legislative Assembly declined to accept the recommendations of the Governor, because I think that the Bahamas are not a Crown Colony? I have often asked, When is a Crown Colony not a Crown Colony? We appoint a Governor and have power to change these Constitutions.
§ Colonel Stanley
It could not be changed without an Imperial Act of Parliament, but I do not think it would be wise or profitable at the moment to jump the hedge before we come to it. I hope and believe, in fact, I am certain, that the Legislature will themselves recognise, as they do, their responsibility for the well-being of the islands, and will take, the necessary steps.
If I may turn to the more general topics which have been discussed to-day, it was, I think, a very interesting coincidence that the first three speeches gave between-them a very good prospectus of the sort of economic set-up and at the same time, by their emphasis each on a different aspect of the economic future, did show us some of the dangers. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner), who opened the Debate, in an extremely interesting speech, concentrated almost entirely on economic—I use the word in its more limited sense—development. I was rather frightened when he started, because I heard him talk about rapid industrialisation in the Colonies, and I was afraid he was going to give, both to the Colonies themselves and to the people of this country, what I believe to be quite a false view as to industrial potentialities in that area. This is an area which, as far as we know, is largely deficient in mineral resources, and geographically ill situated for world-wide markets, and it is idle to think that Colonies of that sort can ever hope to reach a state of industrialisation such as has been reached by countries more geographically and more geologically favoured.
1487 But the hon. and gallant Gentleman went on in the rest of his speech to make clear what he had in mind, that in fact he had no idea of any extravagant industrialisation, but that what he wants to see, and what we all want to see, is the development of such secondary industries as can really be looked on as in the interests of the Colonies and in the interests of world trade as a whole. When we talk about setting up secondary industries in the Colonies, all of us want to steer, I think, a careful line between one extreme and the other, between a selfish policy to foster our own individual interests and trying to prevent secondary interests being developed in Colonial territories, and, on the other hand, a policy under which, by tariff barriers and excessive subsidies, wholly uneconomic secondary industries would be developed there to the detriment of world trade as a whole. To a limited degree there are in these West Indian areas opportunities for secondary industries, largely for those of such a character that the markets available in the colonies themselves for their products will carry them as an economic unit or else they must be related to, and dependent on the staple production of the Colonies which must always be the production of their agricultural produce. I think there is a big chance there for the processing type of industry which fits in well with the mainly agricultural conditions of the islands—[Interruption.] Complementary, as the hon. Member says.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
Might I dispel one mistake? My reference to rapid industrialisation was in the tropical parts of the world, but not to the West Indies. The question was whether the West Indies would be allowed to participate.
§ Colonel Stanley
It is quite true, as I pointed out in the previous Debate we had, that owing to the absence of the Economic Adviser during the period covered by Sir Frank Stockdale's Report, this side of the picture has been painted in far less detail than the other side, and I am hopeful, as I told hon. Members before, that that difficulty will be remedied. It is obvious that any survey of the future of these Colonies which leaves out the industrial side of its economic prospects is lopsided and incomplete. The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke was followed by the hon. Member for 1488 Dewsbury (Mr. Riley), who put the whole of his emphasis on yet another side of the Colonies' economy. The subject he discussed most of all was the subject of the peasant proprietors, not proprietorship perhaps—[Interruption]—peasant agriculture. That again is right in itself, but can be wrong if we over-emphasise it, because he, I am sure, will realise that if we were to propose that the whole agricultural policy should be based upon peasant agriculture, which is largely production for their own consumption, and the elimination therefore of the cash crop for export, you will find, in Colonies which are deficient in any mineral resources of their own and limited therefore in the possibility of industrial development of their own, that the peasant producer would have nothing—although he might have crops on which he himself could subsist—to exchange for the industrial goods from elsewhere in the world. Therefore I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that, important as peasant agriculture is, important as secondary industries are, important, as the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Sir L. Lyle) then pointed out, the cash crop industries are, all three must be dovetailed into each other, because we cannot afford, in fact, to do without any of them.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am sure the hon. Member will realise that when you are producing crops for export the peasant type of agriculture, the small unit of holding, may not be the appropriate or economic way in which to produce them.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am sure the hon. Member has studied the Stockdale Report. He will see that this is the very point to which Sir Frank Stockdale himself referred. I have mentioned those because it stuck me as very interesting that the three speeches, if you put them together, covered very adequately the possibilities of the economic and agricultural development of these islands.
The hon. Member for Dewsbury also raised an extremely important point. He 1489 called attention to what he described as the inadequacy of the finance in the Act of 1940. The point was taken up forcibly by other hon. Members. It is pretty plain to anybody who studies the Stockdale Report that if you are going to implement the Stockdale Report for the West Indies, and if in the other parts of the Empire you are going to find conditions not very dissimilar from those in the West Indies, which will want treatment not very dissimilar from the treatment needed in the West Indies, the £5,000,000 a year is going to be very much less than the sum which will be required. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already made it plain in public that among other claims upon the public purse after the war he is putting in the queue, so to speak, increased grants for Colonial development. When the time comes for that to be decided, I shall welcome the support of hon. Members in all parts of the House for this as one of the first demands which the people of this country have got to meet.
The hon. Member for Dewsbury also raised a point which was dealt with by several other speakers, the point of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. He produced in support of that proposal a speech by Sir Hubert Young, a distinguished ex-Governor. If I may say so without impertinence, I attach on a point of this kind much more importance to the opinions of the hon. Member himself and of other hon. Members who know the Parliamentary machine than to the opinion of ex-Governors, who, however able they may be at their particular job, know nothing at all of the machinery of the House of Commons. That particular suggestion, as the hon. Member himself agreed, would be quite impracticable. The whole of this demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee comes from a desire that Colonial affairs should be more fully ventilated in the Houses of Parliament than they have been in the past. With that I fully agree; but I should feel it a great confession of failure on the part of this House to adapt its machinery to new conditions if the only way in which we could get proper ventilation for Colonial affairs was a device such as the Joint Parliamentary Committee.
It means that once a year, or once a Parliament, a certain number of people 1490 are appointed, I suppose through the usual channels, and from then on they, and they alone, are the people in the two Houses who are entitled to discuss—the hon. Member shakes his head, but let me say what I mean—and to take part in Debates on the Colonies, out of all the Members in the two Houses. The great value of the present system is that we do not limit ourselves to experts, or so-called experts, on particular affairs. Any Member, even if he has never joined in a Colonial Debate before—or even if he has never been to a Colony—can come in and express his point of view. Everybody in this House ultimately has to share the responsibility for the way the Colonies are governed, and we cannot get out of it by putting the responsibility on to a Joint Colonial Committee and saying that they are doing the job. After the war, when some consideration is given to the whole machinery of Parliament, I hope that we shall find ways of enabling the whole House to give more time than has been given up to now to discussing Colonial affairs, and that it will be possible to provide material upon which a proper discussion can be conducted. It is only in the last instance that we shall be able to look for salvation to a proposal of this kind, which I consider extremely retrograde.
§ Dr. Morgan
Why should the right hon. and gallant Gentleman consider that the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee, on the lines of the Select Committee on National Expediture, would debar ordinary Members from taking part in discussions? There is now a Select Committee on National Expenditure, yet when finance comes up every Member of the House is entitled to take part in the Debates. Why should he conceive that because a few Members, through the usual channels—and through the usual channels I should never get on to any of these Committees—are appointed to a Committee, that would necessarily prevent the ordinary Member from intervening in the discussion when Colonial affairs are considered? Surely there is something wrong. There are the two things——
§ Colonel Stanley
I am perfectly prepared to give way to anybody who wants to ask a question, but I would point out to the hon. Member that time is getting on. I do not think the analogy with the other Committee is a correct one. I do 1491 not see that this Joint Committee of both Houses can be effective unless it is a very large one. The express purpose is that they are going to debate Colonial subjects. The other thing is that we cannot imagine that on Colonial topics we are always going to proceed as in these halcyon days of complete political unity between all parties. This other Committee is a Committee to discuss details on which no political division occurs. That is not going to happen with such a committee as is suggested. It has never happened—perhaps it would be a bad thing if it did happen—in regard to the Colonial Empire. This committee must become a House of Commons in microcosm, having the same discussion, and therefore duplicating it. For those reasons, I hope that we shall find some better way of allowing proper discussion on Colonial questions in the House of Commons.
The hon. Member for Bournemouth apologised for making a speech on a subject in which he was an interested party. I do not think he needed to make any apology. The whole House was extremely pleased to hear a man talk on a subject about which he knew a great deal, and especially a man who, as all of us know, in the few years in which he has been interested in those islands has done a very great deal, and has set a very good standard. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) said, quite truly, that spending money was not everything. I tried to make that point in the Debate on the last occasion. However much money we spend on the sort of things that Sir Frank Stockdale proposes, we shall fail unless in the doing of it we enlist the support, the interest and the co-operation of the peoples of the Colonies. The mere fact of doing that is going to be more important to the future of the Colonies than any material good that the money itself is going to bring.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman also raised, as did several others, including my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald), the question of what is described as—everybody using a different form of words—the Colonial development board, the economic advisory council, whatever it may be. I sympathise with the great interest shown on that point, because I am conscious that, under the present system of Advisory Committees which we have at 1492 the Colonial Office, there is a gap upon this economic side. I do not want at the moment to say that I accept this or that plan, because not everybody in certain of the implications of the particular schemes which are put forward. I hope before long to be able to complete detailed consideration, but I san say that I accept in principle the need we have at the Colonial Office for some machinery by which I can get economic advice on the big principles of economic development, and that I am engaged at the present moment in thinking out the best ways and means of securing that.
Hon. Members, I am sure, will excuse me if I do not deal with every point which has been raised. I do not think I need answer the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale), who is not now in his place, except to say that he gave a wholly false picture as to the question of the detentions in Jamaica. I entirely agree with the desirability of the trades union legislation to which he refers. Nearly all the Colonies now have it, and, as hon. Members know, the Colonial Welfare and Development Act laid down that a proper standard of trades union legislation is a necessity for the receipt of assistance under the Act, if that assistance involves the employment of labour. But it is untrue to say that the questions of internment in Jamaica are affected in any way by trades union legislation or deal with proper trades union activities at all any more than that the exercise by the Home Secretary of his powers under 18B in this country is affected by the code of trades union lesgislation that we have got. Those detentions were effected for security reasons. They were not withdrawn because of pressure from the House. It is quite unfair to suggest this. They were imposed because it was believed at the time is was necessary; they were withdrawn as soon, and as rapidly, as they were believed no longer to be necessary.
The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Emmott) dealt some shrewd blows on my behalf and received very shrewd blows in return, which I hope he will not pass on to me. [Interruption.] That shows that by hon. Friend is impervious to rhetorical injury. He raised two points. First of all, with regard to the Colonial Products and Research Committee—and I am very glad that he called attention to the work of that Committee; it is an extremely important 1493 Committee—he asked whether I could give him an assurance that I am going to encourage it. My hon. Friend will remember that I set it up, and therefore it is probably not likely at any rate that I am going to discourage it. I believe that it can be of very great assistance indeed. Its twin task is to discover new uses for old products or new products for old uses. He asked a question about food yeast, that mysterious substance which he described so well, and in a way which made one think of a good Parliamentary speech, as "concentrated and full of good stuff," although he did not know of what the good stuff consisted. He asked, is it proposed to make that in Jamaica? Yes, we do hope to make it in Jamaica. As to the wider questions he elaborated, specially that of international co-operation, he will I am sure excuse me at this late hour if, in this rather detailed speech, I do not follow him.
The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) asked a question about the Report on Colonial Nutrition. The mere fact that he got up in his place and referred to it will have got it all the advertisement it either needs or desires. I do not think that I could consider issuing an abbreviated form of the Report. It is a responsibility I should not like to undertake, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, by the reference in the OFFICIAL REPORT, will have done much to stimulate interest in what, I am sure, is a most admirable document.
§ Mr. Harvey
Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman deal with the question of education, which was also raised in two other speeches?
§ Colonel Stanley
I am very sorry. I must confess that owing to a weak moment I surrendered to the calls of the inner man and missed the hon. Gentleman's speech. Although I know that in general terms he referred to education, I was not certain of the particular points he raised. I will study them in the OFFICIAL REPORT and let him know the answers where they call for reply. Education has teen raised, and hon. Members who listened to the last Debate will remember that I dealt with it at considerable length then. I do not think I can add anything more to it to-day. The hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. R. Morgan), I think, was mistaken in thinking that because of something in the Report which said that education in the past had 1494 been on a nineteenth century basis, it meant that Sir Frank Stockdale was recommending that we should continue on that nineteenth century basis. I tried to point out that it was exactly the necessity for getting away from that basis and achieving some novel action which was the chief difficulty, and also that to apply the standard of the N.U.T., the Board of Education and of the many conferences to which I have been in this country to the question of pupil teachers in the West Indies was really to overlook the real point. We are faced in the West Indies now with the problem of mass illiteracy. We have to deal with it as quickly as we can and by any means we can. It is far better for children in Jamaica to be able to go into school and be taught even by a pupil teacher than not to go to school at all. If they had to wait until teachers were trained up to our standards, they would by that time have passed school age, and you might not get them back again, and they would remain illiterates for good. We shall make a great mistake if we try to tackle the problem of education in the West Indies entirely on the lines on which we approach educational problems in this country.
§ Colonel Stanley
We cannot be doctrinaire, but the urgency of even scratching the surface is so great that we have to be prepared to do things in the interim period that we do riot believe to be permanent and orthodox education. I do not think there are any other particular points to which I need refer. There is one particular point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight. He talked about a big loan. I have no objection to what is proper in the social or economic development of the Colonies being done by way of loan as opposed to payment on current account. Technically there is nothing in the Colonial Welfare and Development Act to prevent money being given under it to a Colony to provide the interest on a loan which they want to raise for some particular purpose. My hon. and gallant Friend, if he looks at what we are actually discussing in Sir Frank Stockdale's, Report, will agree that a good deal of what is proposed to do there is not really suitable for long-term expenditure. It is something that we ought to face as current and recurring expenditure.
§ Captain P. Macdonald
What impressed me most in this Report was the fact that this was a short-term policy and only a palliative.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am not at all in principle opposed to loans in their proper place; they may be extremely useful although I do not think we ought to go in for them as a matter of principle but rather as a matter of expediency. I am sure that all who have taken some part in the efforts to secure from half-hearted and over-pressed Whips the additional time for our discussion on this subject will agree that it has been fully justified. I only hope that we shall have a further opportunity during the course of the Session for a discussion which will be equally interesting and equally reasoned upon the problem of the Colonial Empire as a whole.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again," [Captain McEwen] put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.