Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding/30, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the charges for the following services connected with Colonial Administration, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1944, namely:—
|Colonial and Middle Eastern Services||£10|
|Development and Welfare (Colonies, &c.)||£10|
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)
In what are now some 20 years of making political speeches I have never started to prepare a speech without thinking that I have not enough material for it, and I must say that that 20 years of finding on every occasion that I had not only all I needed but more than my audience wanted has never cured me of that. But this time, in dealing with these Colonial Estimates, I have no doubt that I have enough material, indeed more than I require. In the doings and developments of each individual Colony, the problems and progress of each branch of administration anyone could find sufficient material for a speech. The difficulty, therefore, on such an occasion as this, for a Secretary of State for the Colonies, must always be one of selection, and I am bound to leave a great deal unsaid, although I will try in winding up the Debate to answer any questions which are put to me.
One obvious course for me to have adopted would have been to have devoted 48 my speech to-day to the war effort of the Colonial Empire, to have recounted the sacrifices which have been made, the loyalties which have been shown, the heroism of the Colonial peoples in action and their steadfastness in peril. One great advantage of this course is that it would have given me an opportunity of denying some of the allegations which have been made with regard to the conduct of Colonial peoples in certain parts of the Empire. It will not, of course, be until after reconquest that the full story of Malaya can be told, but even now it is possible to tell a fuller and truer story than that which gained currency all too easily at the time of our catastrophes 18 months ago. Sometime soon I hope to have that opportunity, if not in this House, at any rate in the country, but to-day I do not intend to try and deal with the Colonial war effort. It is all too rarely that I have the opportunity of hearing the advice and ideas of this Committee on Colonial problems, and I want, therefore, to direct that advice and those ideas to the future rather than to the past. Here in this country, without in any way relaxing our war effort or without in any way detracting from the attention we pay to the war, we are beginning, rightly, to think of, and prepare for, peace. In the Colonies exactly the same process is necessary if we are to be able to solve the great and varied problems which are going to arise immediately the war is over.
The central purpose of our Colonial administration has often been proclaimed. It has been called the doctrine of trusteeship, although I think some of us feel now that that word "trustee" is rather too static in its connotation and that we should prefer to combine with the status of trustee the position also of partner. But We are pledged to guide Colonial people along the road to self-government within the framework of the British Empire. We are pledged to build up their social and economic institutions, and we are pledged to develop their natural resources. Those objects have often been proclaimed, and for me to proclaim them again to-day would be one more speech in a world where speeches now are rather at a discount and it is more deeds that count. What I propose, therefore, to do is not to expound the theory of Colonial administration nor to clothe these general 49 principles in second-hand eloquence, but to give some account of the progress that we have made in the past and to outline some of the practical steps that we hope to take in the future.
It is the tendency, both here and abroad, for those who criticise, or indeed for those who are interested in Colonial administration, to concentrate on political evolution, and it is by our success in that field, success in advancing these Colonial territories towards self-government, that critics are apt to test both our sincerity and our efficiency. I do not mind being judged by that test if those who use it are aware of and understand the full content of the approach to self-government. But it is dangerous if that test is to be too narrowly interpreted, for hon. Members will all agree that, if self-government is to succeed it has to have solid, social and economic foundations, and although without them spectacular political advances may draw for the authors the plaudits of the superficial, they will bring to those whom it is designed to benefit nothing but disaster. It js no part of our policy to confer political advances which are unjustified by circumstances, or to grant self-government to those who are not yet trained in its use, but if we are to be true to our pledge, if we really mean as soon as practicable to develop self-government in these territories, it is up to us to see that circumstances as soon as possible justify political advances and to ensure that as quickly as posible people are trained and equipped for eventual self-government. Therefore, to my mind, the real test of the sincerity and success of our Colonial policy is two-fold. It is not only the actual political advances that we make, but it is also, and I think more important, the steps that we are taking, economic and social as well as political, to prepare the people for further and future responsibilities. So I shall not speak at great length on the political advances already made, although in the last year, even in war-time, with all the difficulties that that brings, the advance has been substantial.
In Jamaica we have given them the promise of a new Constitution, which is now being worked out in detail. That Constitution was largely suggested by the people of Jamaica themselves, and I believe, from every report that I have 50 seen from that island, they welcome a real opportunity of showing their capacity for administering their own affairs. I hope that when that Constitution is in operation they will make the fullest use of the opportunities that it gives and that by the wide use of those opportunities, despite the many obvious difficulties and problems which face them, their success will lead, when the Constitution comes to be reviewed as it is to be after a period of five years, to still further advances.
In Ceylon a promise of full internal self-government under the Crown, in all matters of internal civil administration, to be brought into force as soon as practicable after the war, has been made, and the Board of Ministers have been invited to formulate their own schemes for the carrying-out of that pledge. That promise was given by the Government in all sincerity. It was explained that during the war there was no opportunity for the detailed discussion which in a matter of this complexity and magnitude must take place, but it is our real desire that as soon as possible after the war this promise can be implemented. The length of time that that will take must depend very much upon the progress which Ministers themselves can make in preparing a constitutional scheme.
In Malta a promise of a similar character has also been given, a promise which the Government were glad to give and which the House was glad to hear. There was a period before the war when Malta enjoyed internal self-government. Hon. Members will recollect the circumstances which led to its withdrawal. Italian influence, Italian propaganda, and I am afraid in some cases Italian money, wrecked that particular period of self-government, but in an island which now has nothing for the Italians but hatred and contempt all of us can look forward after the war to the experiment which was not a success before meeting with full success.
There runs through all these three major constitutional developments during the last few months a similar line of approach. In all cases the Government, who are finally responsible, have laid down the field of advance, but in all cases the people of the Colonies themselves have been asked to suggest the constitutional machinery which they de- 51 sire and which they, after all, are the people who are going to work. I very much hope that that method of approach, which I think has been successful in these cases, will form the normal method for Constitutional advance in the future. Those examples, Jamaica, Ceylon and Malta, are the outstanding instances of political development in the last few months, but almost all over the Colonial Empire continual small changes, additional members here, lowering the franchise there, are all tending towards the same goal of eventual internal self-government.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say whether his right hon. Friends the Dominions Secretary and the Secretary of State for India are following the same general principle? In the matters of Newfoundland and India they do not seem to be moving along the same lines as the Colonial Office.
§ Colonel Stanley
On the contrary, with regard to India I should have thought that it was following exactly these lines. The essence of the Cripps Declaration was to lay down the area and to ask the Indians themselves to suggest the method. I should not like to speak for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions; he is very capable of speaking for himself.
§ Mr. Maxton
My right hon. and gallant Friend said that the Colonial Office was following the same policy as the India Office, but as far as I know the Colonial Office are not throwing into gaol the people they are asking to make a Constitution.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am sorry, Major Milner, that you have prevented the pursuance of this interesting red herring.
I have given three outstanding examples, but there are many other cases all over the Colonial Empire of continuous political advance. For instance, in West Africa there has recently been an addition of a number of unofficial members of the Executive Council—two in the Gold Coast, two in Sierra Leone and three in Nigeria. All of these gentlemen, with one 52 exception, are Africans. In British Guiana, following the recommendation of the Royal Commission, the Legislative Council has been completely reconstituted, with the result that the elected unofficial members are now in a decisive majority. So much, therefore, for what, even under the stress of war, we have actually accomplished in the political field during the past few months.
Let me turn to what I consider is even more important, and that is what we are going to do to prepare the Colonies, however backward some of them may appear to be at present, for political responsibility in the future. I want to develop two main themes—educational advance and economic development—because I regard these two as the twin pillars upon which any sound scheme of political responsibility must be based. Let me deal first with educational advance. I want to include under that heading many subjects which would have made the educational formalist of the 19th century wince. I do not mean by education just the literary education which was his dream, nor the classrooms, the books and the teachers which were his tools. I do not even mean the 20th century equivalent of "the three R's." The education I have in mind goes far beyond the classroom walls, far beyond the teacher's voice. It cannot only be found in books. It cannot be learnt by heart. It does not end with schooldays. Sometimes it does not even begin until schooldays are over. The sort of education that we want as a basis for political development is education by life for life. It must, of course, include the more formal kind of literary education, and therefore I shall deal with higher and elementary education in the Colonies. I want, too, to deal with subjects which I consider just as important—education through local government, education through community effort, such as trade unions and co-operatives, and education through actual practice in administration.
First, with regard to higher education. It is quite clear that if our goal of Colonial self-government is to be achieved, Colonial universities and colleges will have to play an immense part in that development. They are the centres of higher education in their respective areas. They will, first of all, have to meet the enormously increased 53 need for trained professionals which increased social and economic services will necessitate. They will have to provide the agriculturists, the engineers, the doctors, the teachers, the veterinary surgeons, and the specialists and technicians which the approach to higher standards of life will entail. They will have, too, to do an immense amount of research. I am sure that as the field of our knowledge widens, more and more gaps in it will be disclosed, more and more subjects will call for investigation, much of which can only be done on the spot. Finally, besides the training that they will give within their own walls and the research they will do within their own walls, they will have a great task beyond their walls. With the extra-mural activities and refresher courses which they will give, they will be able throughout the areas of which they are centres to stimulate general progress and encourage the production of leaders from those who gain their knowledge and experience from their daily life.
Our problem here is to encourage the constructive growth of these Colonial universities and colleges and to accelerate their wise development. It is clear that in that task we have to look to our home universities for guidance and help. Those universities have already done a great deal for the Colonies. They have already done a. great deal of indirect service by training the men and women who have gone out to the Colonies in various capacities. I believe that, much as they have done in the past, they can do a great deal more in future. The whole sphere of possibilities and opportunities has been enormously widened by the aeroplane. What we hope will be rapid, easy methods of communication between the home country and the colonies after the war obviously make their task easier and their opportunities wider. It takes little imagination to picture what a tremendous gain it would be if in a way these Colonial colleges could be admitted as partners in the circle of the home universities, if there could be, as was described by a friend of mine the other day, an intellectual Lend-Lease between the universities at home and the Colonial centres of higher education, between the old-established centres here and the new, rising centres in the Colonies. If they could do that, it would be a real Lend-Lease. It would be a two-way traffic. It would 54 not only be the Colonial centres which would gain, although they would gain immensely from having the enormous intellectual resources of the home universities standing behind them; but we should gain here too. The home universities might be much enriched by the knowledge of the Colonies which they could acquire and from the visits of teachers from the Colonies, just as we might send out people to teach them.
I realise that there are many practical difficulties, but I believe they can be overcome. I am accordingly setting up a Commission of Inquiry. I am glad to say that Sir Cyril Asquith—Mr. Justice Asquith—has agreed to be its Chairman. He will bring to the task not only an honoured name and a great academic record, but the qualities of intellect and judgment which will be required. I naturally, before setting up this Commission, made a number of preliminary and unofficial inquiries. From them I am confident, first, that the universities here will be glad to help in the work of this Commission, and second, that when the Commission presents, as I am sure it will, sound recommendations for future advance, the universities will be glad to co-operate in carrying out the task.
§ Major-General Sir Alfred Knox (Wycombe)
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman forgive me for interrupting him, but he has said nothing about elementary education. Does he not think that elementary education is, to start with, much more important than university education?
§ Colonel Stanley
One of the limitations which I share with other people is that of being unable to speak on two subjects at the same time. I started by saying that I was going to deal with higher and elementary education, and as soon as I have completed the task of dealing with higher education, I will pass to what is, I agree, the equally important subject of elementary education. This Commission will inquire into the general problem of the relationship between home universities and Colonial universities and the way in which the progress of the latter can best be assisted. That general problem is, on the whole, common to all the territories, and the findings of this Commission will establish general principles which can be generally applied. They will, of course, need adaptation in view of local condi- 55 tions, but that will be comparatively easy if we have adequate information as to the social and economic developments of particular areas.
§ Mr. Hannah (Bilston)
Does the Rhodes Trust come into this at all—the great Trust founded by Cecil Rhodes for inter-imperial education?
§ Colonel Stanley
No doubt that will be able to help, but this is a very much bigger and wider problem than a mere matter of getting a certain number of students over here. I am talking about the development of centres of education in the Colonies themselves.
There is one area in particular which does need now detailed investigation, and that is the area of British West Africa. It presents a number of difficulties. First, there are several existing centres of education of different standards and doing different work. Then the various Dependencies in the area are widely separated from one another. There are great contrasts not only between the Dependencies themselves, in their economic, social and political development, but within each Dependency between development on the coast and development inland; and, finally, the war, although it has not directly taken place upon their soil, has had a great and lasting impact upon their conditions. At the same time that we have this Commission inquiring into the general problem of the relations of the universities, I am setting up a Commission of Inquiry into higher education in British West Africa, and I am glad to say that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvin-grove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) has accepted an invitation to be Chairman of that Commission. Hon. Members will, I am sure, feel that this is a great act of gallantry on the part of one who, so recently, had what was really a miraculous escape from death and has since been undergoing a painful convalescence. Needless to say, among the invitations to serve upon this Commission I have extended invitations to three African representatives, who will give, not only invaluable but indeed indispensable service in a work of this kind, and, of course, the work of the Commission will necessitate a visit to West Africa, probable at some time in the Spring of next year.
§ Colonel Stanley
I was just about to deal with that point. Obviously the work of these two Commissions will be closely linked, and I am trying to arrange some overlapping of membership between the two. I have not yet got in all the replies for the two Commissions. As soon as I have, I shall hope to announce the membership and the terms of reference of both. I feel that the distinguished people who, so far, have accepted invitations to serve upon them, will be doing a real service to the Colonial Empire.
§ Mr. Maxton
When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he has extended invitations to African representatives, does he mean Africans or does he mean British residents in Africa?
§ Sir Alfred Beit (St. Pancras, South-East)
May I ask whether the Dominion universities will be entirely left out of the scope of this inquiry? Is it not necessary that they should be represented in some sense, in view of the fact that they attract a great many Colonial students?
§ Colonel Stanley
I have no doubt that one of the things which the Commission will consider will be the best way of working in with the Dominion universities. Now, I would like to turn to the question of primary education.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies
Before the right hon. and gallant Gentleman leaves this interesting part of his subject, will he tell us what steps he proposes to take to popularise this higher education of which he has been speaking and to make it accessible to wide masses of the population, say, in West Africa, having regard, of course, to the extreme poverty that exists among so many millions of these people? Will the second Commission to which he has referred consider this problem as coming within its terms of reference?
§ Colonel Stanley
Before you talk of giving people access to a thing, I think the first step is to have something to which it is worth while to have access, and what I am particularly anxious to see is that we develop these centres of education on the best possible lines. But I entirely agree with the hon. Member that it is important 57 to see how we can ensure that the people of the territories get the freest possible access to them, and I have no doubt that that is one of the subjects which will come within the purview of this Commission.
Now I pass to the question of primary education. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) that it is just as important for the future of the Colonies as the question of higher education. In higher education, you are dealing with the training of the leaders, but what is just as essential in a democracy is the training of the led, because the success of self-government does not depend only on the capacity of the leaders to lead, but also on the ability of the community to respond. It is not only the political field that is affected. The spread of elementary education through the Colonies is really a necessity, for everything we are trying to do, every social improvement, every economic development, in some measure demands an increase of knowledge among the people. Every new health measure, every improvement of agricultural methods, new co-operative machinery for production and distribution, the establishment of secondary industries—all these are going to make increasing demands upon the people, and they will be able to respond only if they have had some educational opportunities. No one who surveys elementary education in the Colonial Empire as a whole can pretend to be satisfied with the present position. Great efforts have been made in the past, first by the Churches—and let us pay a tribute to the real work which has been done by missions of various denominations in the various parts of the Empire—and more recently great efforts have been made by the Government, and, of course, the scope and the content of elementary education throughout the Colonial Empire are continually increasing. But yet in many Colonies we see, first, a mass of illiteracy among adults and, secondly, an all too small percentage of present-day school population, giving, therefore, little hope on present lines of reducing that mass of adult illiteracy. I believe that if we are to get full advantage from the various reforms which we propose in the Colonial Empire, that position has to be altered radically and it has to be altered urgently.
The size of this problem is so great that we can only hope to solve it within any reasonable period of time if we can evolve 58 a new technique, and the whole question of the drive upon mass illiteracy is now being considered by my Advisory Committee on Education. I hope shortly to receive their report, and I do not want to anticipate its contents, but there are certain points which will, I think, strike hon. Members as they strike me. The first is that in this particular technique we have much to learn from experiments already carried out, and successfully carried out, in other countries, in Russia and in China, for instance. The second is that we shall have to make the fullest use of new methods which invention and industrial development have placed at our disposal in the past few years, the cinema, broadcasting and above all the film strip, new teaching techniques which were not available 20 or 30 years ago.
The third, and to me the most important, is this: I believe that the only road to success is through the enthusiasm of the peoples concerned. This effort to deal with mass illiteracy has to be not a Government but a community effort, an effort in which all are interested and in which all play their part. I do not believe that the reforms can be carried through in any reasonable time by an educational bureaucracy, however large or however efficient. They can only really be carried through by the enthusiasm of the people with the help of the educationists. When I receive that report I shall ask all Governors to take it into account in framing the educational plans which they are now engaged upon. One thing is certain, that however we approach this problem, whatever new technique we can devise, it will call for the expenditure of large sums of money, and for that expenditure we shall have to, and shall be able to, have recourse to money provided under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act.
Let me turn to education through local government. I do not believe there is any better training for the art of government than participation in local administration. Our own history shows that our constitutional government, developed here in Westminster, has owed a very great deal to our experiences in local administration, and I wonder how many Members there are in this Chamber who received their first lessons in the political arts in the administration of their local councils. It is very unfortunate, with regard to Colonial development in the past, that too 59 little attention has been paid by popular imagination, either here or in the Colonies, to the development of local government. There always tends to be overemphasis on advance at the centre, as if that was the be-all and end-all of progress, and equally therefore a tendency to overlook the opportunities which local government gives. I regard the extension of local government as one of the quickest and certainly the surest methods of making certain of the extension of central government. We are doing all we can to extend this local self-government, and if I can give only a few examples it is by no means an exhaustive list of the advances made.
In Jamaica the whole system of government is now being reviewed. That in itself is not very startling, because at every moment somebody here is engaged in reviewing something or other, and it does not always lead to any practical results. But the interesting thing about this review is that it is being carried out by Mr. Hill, the late General Secretary of the National Association of Local Government Officers, and he will therefore look at it from the angle of those who in this country have to carry out the actual mechanics of local government. He will be looking at it from a new angle, and I think from this quite particular experience we may get a most valuable line upon the developments necessary in the Colonial territories. I pass from Jamaica to the Gold Coast, from the West Indies to West Africa. Two most interesting developments there in recent months have been the new municipal councils for Kumasi and Accra. In both these there will be a considerable majority of Africans—and by that I mean Africans. In Accra there will be a majority of elected members, and in Kumasi six elected members out of I3, and in both cases the control retained by the Governor will merely be on broad lines—an opportunity to step in if things go very badly wrong; but the fullest liberty will be given to these two councils to conduct the administration of their towns.
There has been an interesting development too, in the Eastern Provinces of Nigeria, which was brought to my notice by the late Governor, Sir Bernard Bourdillon, just retiring after so many years of devoted and self-sacrificing ser- 60 vice in that area. In the Eastern Provinces local government, as many hon. Members know, is in the hands of native authorities. Those native authorities are selected by traditional and even intricate means and tend in some cases to consist of the more elderly sections of the community, but alongside them in the various areas have grown up what are known as "improvement societies," which consist of the younger and more energetic elements in the community. They are not unlike those "ginger groups" with which parties in this House are not unfamiliar.
§ Colonel Stanley
Yes, but what is satisfactory, though perhaps some hon. Members will think it strange, is that the native authorities welcome the ginger groups and work harmoniously with them; and, joking apart, it is a very satisfactory development, because this harmonious working between the traditional native authorities and the progressive improvement element does point the way of evolution from the more traditional methods of the past to the more democratic methods of the future.
Let me pass to the possibilities of education through community effort, trades unions and co-operatives. No doubt hon. Members opposite will be ready to agree that experience in the organisation and leadership of trades unions is one of the best methods of education for political responsibility. In the Colonial Empire trade unions on the whole are a new growth. Within the last few years they have been given every assistance by Colonial Governments. I do not want to go into their full history, but we have just published an interesting paper, entitled "Labour supervision in the Colonial Empire," which is well worth reading by everybody. When hon. Members read that paper they will see, first of all, that the growth of trade unions in the last few years has been very impressive in quantity. More than 300 have been formed in the last three or four years. But impressive though they have been in quantity, they are rather uneven in quality. Many of them are, from our standards, excessively small. There is a tendency for them to be too parochial, more in the nature of the local branch of a trade union here than a separate trade union. Many of them are ephemeral. 61 They are founded for some particular purpose, and, when that purpose is achieved, or the necessity dies away, the unions tend to die.
Lastly, as is obviously to be expected in the early stages, these new unions have in many cases not yet been able to find balanced and responsible leaders from their own ranks. They have to go outside for their leadership, often, of course, as we turn here when we are in difficulties, to the legal profession. Sometimes leadership from outside has tended to forget the enduring nature of its responsibilities both to the workers in the industry and the industry itself. All these teething troubles are natural at the start of a new movement, and they can be overcome, but whether they will be overcome, and how quickly, will depend to a great extent on the ability and capacity to learn from experience and knowledge of others. Very great service has been done in various colonies by officers who have been recently sent out. Some are experienced officers lent by the Ministry of Labour, others are trade unionists. Six have been appointed during the last 12 months, and, in the case of the trade unionists, not only have the officers themselves proved to be excellent choices, but it has been found that their ability to speak from their own experience of dealing with trade-union matters has been of great service. Of course, the work of these advisers is not always very easy, as hon. Members quite realise, because their anxiety to help has always to be restrained by the fear that if they exercise too great an influence, it will be said that the trade union has been nobbled by the Government. Hon. Members will realise that for a trade, union to be nobbled by a Government is a terrible thing to happen.
Perhaps more successful so far than the trade unions have been the new Labour Advisory Boards and Conciliation Committees. These are set up to deal with actual or potential matters of dispute, and they have not only given an excellent practical result in settling disputes, but they have enabled the two sides of industry to come together. They have given object lessons in negotiation and have encouraged the principle of collective bargaining. With regard to cooperatives, we have done something, but I confess not as much as I should like. By "co-operatives" I do not only mean 62 co-operative societies organised for marketing or buying, or even for producing. I mean such societies as the "better living" movements in India and Ceylon and various welfare societies. In fact, the latter are particularly valuable, because they maintain in the new society something of the community spirit, the very great community spirit, of the old tribal organisation. It is a terrible pity to break it up until we have something as good or better to put in its place.
Hon. Members who have studied the Stockdale Report on the West Indies will realise how much attention is being paid to these developments. In West Africa, co-operative societies are spreading among the peasant farmers to such an extent that in Nigeria it has been found necessary and desirable to set up a special co-operative department. In Cyprus there are numerous village welfare unions, and in Ceylon, "better living" societies, I think derived from India, have been a success. Hon. Members will realise that the technical type of co-operative society, the buying, producing and marketing type, is a very difficult organisation o run. Those who have tried between the two wars to take a hand in setting up co-operative agricultural societies among farmers in order to buy and market, will realise how difficult it is. It is sometimes better to start by instituting marketing schemes under central control, which do provide for the gradual association of producers, and may, therefore, pass on finally to becoming co-operative societies. One of the most successful experiments has been the Kilimanjaro native co-operative unit in Tanganyika. All these co-operative societies are different. They require leadership. They need trained people, and I am instituting now in this country a course open to people from the Colonies in particular, and to Africans, for training in the leadership of societies of this kind. The course will open this autumn, I hope at the London School of Economics, and it will be about a two years' course. I hope to get a good response, particularly from Africa and possibly too from the West Indies.
Finally, let me pass to the Colonial Service and the possibilities for training in self-government offered by the Colonial Office itself. There are in the Colonial Empire 250,000 public servants of all kinds. The vast majority of them are of 63 Colonial birth and service in their own home country. I do not know that people realise how small is the proportion of Europeans recruited either in this country or, to an increasing extent, in the Dominions. Out of 250,000 there are only between 5,000 and 6,000 so recruited. There are two lines of development which after the war have to be followed. The first is to stimulate and to encourage the staffing of the Colonial public services by the people of the Colonies themselves. I think this progressive association with the day-to-day administration of government in the Colonies is as genuine an advance towards self-government as any spectacular development in the political field. Of course, it is no good just saying that we will encourage this in theory. What it means in practice is that we should afford to the people of the Colonies the necessary training which will enable them to take on these jobs, and that, of course, links in with the importance of higher education.
Secondly, we have to recognise that in the Colonies as a whole we shall continue to need a substantial number of European Civil servants. There is no inconsistency between saying that we want to increase the proportion of jobs in the Civil Service in the Colonies held by the inhabitants of the Colonies themselves and saying that we shall continue to need Colonial servants from this country or from the Dominions. The developments which we have in hand are going to demand not merely skilled technicians of every kind, but there will inevitably be many additional posts, as the whole economic, health and educational field opens up. Many of the posts will be filled from the Colonies, but in other cases there will be a need for the special qualifications which can be obtained only from outside. I am reviewing the whole future organisation of the Colonial Service. It needs detailed preparation, but this preparation is well advanced, and I hope before long to be able to lay concrete proposals on this subject before this House.
Well, so much for the educational advance side of our two-fold problem. I now want to turn for a short time to the question of economic development. Our objective in the Colonial Empire must be to make the Colonies self-supporting. By "self-supporting" I do not mean self 64 contained. I do not mean a narrow autarchy. I mean Colonies which are able to support an adequate and sound economic basis which will meet the needs of Government and peoples and which will give a reasonable standard of life. It is pretty clear that unless we succeed in doing this any talk about self-government is really humbug. There cannot be any real self-government if you are financially dependant. Political responsibility goes ill with financial dependence. I do think that in this branch of activity the Colonial Development and Welfare Act has given a new opportunity which none of my predecessors ever really possessed. I wonder whether we quite realise what a tremendous change was brought over the whole Colonial scene by the passage of that Act—and I must say what an Act of faith the passage of that Act was, in the summer of 1940, just after Dunkirk, and at the time of greatest peril for this country and this Empire. By passing that Act we have driven a breach into the old, rigid system of Colonial financial self-sufficiency. It is a system which meant that a poor Colony, because it was poor, was unable to start those reforms and developments which alone held out any promise of increasing its permanent wealth. It is on that line that we have to look at expenditure under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and not as something which is merely a perpetual subvention to local budgets. There is no future on that line.
During the Debates on the West Indies we discussed at some length the broad principles of economic development in the Colonies and the need for an expansionist world system, the necessity for basic developments in each territory—transport, communications, power, water supply—the predominant importance in the Colonial Empire of agricultural development and its dependence upon improved research, improved agricultural education and improved methods of production and distribution. Therefore I do not mean to traverse the same ground as that which we traversed in that Debate, but only to refer to three important questions on this subject.
The first question is that of air transport in the Colonies. It is impossible to over-estimate the important part which air transport can and should play in the development of the Colonies after the war. Their wide expanse, their difficult geo- 65 graphy, the primitive nature of much of their existing communications make them an ideal field for the use of air transport in their development, and in the Colonial Empire we shall start after the war with a certain number of advantages. In many of the Colonies, landing facilities have been created for operational purposes, and in some cases no doubt those landing facilities will also fit in to any civil aviation scheme. In the second place, in a number of Colonies, people have already received some kind of training and experience in the ground servicing of aeroplanes. The House has already been told, by answer to a question on this subject some time ago, that my predecessor asked all Governors for their views as to what would be required for civil aviation in their territories after the war. Those replies have come in well, and they show that local governments have not only a great interest in this matter but have a quite keen appreciation of its importance. The replies which I have received are no mere generalisations. They are more in the nature of outline plans and specifications.
It is clear that, here in Whitehall, I must put myself in the position to give them all the help, detailed technical help, that they require, and I am therefore arranging to set up in the Colonial Office a special department to deal with communications, which will cover, of course, air communications. I hope to get for the assistance of that department expert air advice from outside. It is essential. I want an expert of this character not only to advise me—though, Heaven knows, I need that—but who will be available to send out to the Colonies with his knowledge of the developments here, to give them any help they require in perfecting detailed plans for civil air transport in their territories, after the war. One thing, frankly, I want to make certain about is that, if, after the war, we do not get all we want in the Colonies in the way of facilities for air transport, it will not be because we have not asked for it. I have always found that those who ask first and ask loudest are apt in the long run to get most. That was not what I was taught in the nursery, but it is what I have found in practical life. I certainly hope to ask early and to ask loudly.
Now, on the question of secondary industries, we all agree that all over the Colonial Empire it is agricultural production which is going to be predominant, 66 but we also agree that in many Colonies it will not be possible for them ever to reach or to maintain any reasonable standard without some increase in their present scale of industrialisation. That growth must be reasonable. I cannot think of anything more fatal to the economics of the Colonies than a rash, mushroom, industrialist growth, fostered by high protective tariffs unrelated either to local products or local markets.
The kind of development I have in mind in secondary industries falls into two classes; first, industries for the processing of the natural products, whether for home consumption or for export, carrying them one further stage before they leave the country. Secondly, there is a class of simple manufactures which does not call for the import of large quantities of raw materials and where the local market will be adequate to absorb the full production of a unit of efficient size. Of course, during the war we can only foster the setting-up of secondary industries which have a bearing upon the war needs and the war effort. But certain local industries which we are encouraging by providing machinery, particularly in East Africa, although they have as their primary purpose the meeting of a war need, will fall into one or other of those broad categories. I recognise that in the early stages it will no doubt be necessary for industries of this kind to have from the local Government some moderate protection, whether by tariffs or by other means, but I frankly feel that any industry which cannot start except with excessive aid from the Government had better not start at all, because an unnatural industry of that kind will in the long run only damage the Colonial economy.
There are two questions which are bound to arise when we deal with this expansion of secondary industries in the Colonial Empire. The first is the effect it will have on our own industries at home. My own belief is that a wise expansion of secondary industries in the Colonies will not re-act adversely upon our export trade as a whole and will in the long run prove beneficial. After the war our main industrial asset will be our industrial skill, and the only classes of goods in which we shall be able to compete on terms of equality will be those which require skill for their manufacture. 67 To enable us to compete in the Colonial territories in the cheapest classes of goods would need preferential treatment so great as to question our position as trustees for the territories. Consequently, if it were given, it would defeat its own end, because where the margin is so small, as unfortunately it is to-day in many of our Colonies, this raising of the cost of living would simply dry up the demand. The more the Colonies are able themselves to supply their own cheaper necessities, the more will be available from the surplus for overseas purchase and the more will be available to buy the better class of goods which need skill in their manufacture, and in which, therefore, the export industries of this country will be able to compete on fair terms.
The second question is, What place is there for private enterprise in this post-war Colonial industrial development?
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what these secondary industries in East Africa are? It is a very important new development, which may have very great effects.
§ Colonel Stanley
I will give the hon. Member the complete list when I reply, if he will ask me. One of the most important is the manufacture of sulphuric acid, I have not got the list by me, but there are half-a-dozen small industries, the names of which I will give him. I was about to touch upon the part to be played by private capital in post-war Colonial development. This is a subject fraught with great danger, and to deal with it at great length might be to involve myself in that political controversy which all of us are anxious to avoid—at any rate on weekdays. But I can, I think, say without any danger of controversy that if private capital has any place in our economy here after the war, it will certainly have a place in the economy of the Colonies. As I see it, the financial resources of the Colonial Governments and the financial assistance which His Majesty's Government are to give under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, will be fully needed for basic developments and social advances, and I think we shall need and be glad of, the assistance of private capital. Under proper control—and everybody agrees that in Colonial territories it should be under 68 proper control—I think it could be of great benefit to the Colonial territories. [An Hon Member: "Question"] There is no hope, and I hold out no hope, to the "Get-rich-quick" type of industrial entrepreneur. Their time is past in the Colonial Empire. The Colonies have passed the stage of economic development in which a man, though he had to look for great risks, also looked for great profits. What I hope is to give a chance to the efficient producer with reasonable security to get a reasonable return. I believe—although some hon. Members opposite may laugh at the idea—that after the war there will be found a number of industrialists who will have a real desire, apart from the profit motive, to assist in this task of Imperial development. [Interruption.] Well, miracles do happen.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Barnstaple)
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman relying on a miracle of there being some industrialists who want to promote African welfare rather than dividends? Suppose the miracle does not come off. What then?
§ Colonel Stanley
No, I never rely on miracles. That is one of the reasons why I never try to start a new political party. I did try to make it plain that the whole resources of Colonial Governments and His Majesty's Government would already be committed to the full in various developments, and that we needed as much as we could get of assistance from private capital.
The final question I wish to deal with is the question of some kind of economic advisory board or committee, whatever it may be. One thing is certain, that after the war economics will play a far greater part than before in Colonial administration, both in the Colonies and in Whitehall. Members of this Committee who realise that have, in the past, put forward many suggestions for some new form of machinery. Among these has been that of a central development board. I think that has two disadvantages. The first is a practical one, the difficulty of planning these things at the centre. I believe that when you come down from broad principles there is only one place where your new road, your new reservoir or your new drainage scheme can be planned, that is, on the spot, by the people who know the conditions. The second disadvantage is even more important. I think those who advocate 69 this kind of central planning are apt to forget that the Colonies are growing up, and that you will find there to-day a vivid and instructed interest in their own affairs which you would not have found 20 years ago. They will expect to have a say in their own development, and will not be content to have their plans handed out to them from Whitehall, however competent and respected is the body which hands them out. The detailed planning will have to be done on the spot.
But what Colonial administrations will want, and what they will expect to get from me, is guidance on general principles, on broad lines, and it is on those broad questions that I shall want advice for myself. I have at the Colonial Office a number of advisory committees, dealing with education, agriculture, research and social services, composed of men of great technical qualifications and knowledge of the subject, who in their various branches give me invaluable help. But there is none on economics, which is perhaps the most important of all. That I believe to be a definite gap. It is not easy, when people are already so engaged on matters perhaps more closely and immediately connected with the war, but I hope shortly to be able to complete the setting-up of an Advisory Committee on Economics to deal with broad policy on general lines.
§ Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)
There is an Economic Adviser now with Sir Frank Stockdale in connection with his administration in the West Indies. Is not this Economic Adviser now at work there?
§ Colonel Stanley
Yes, I think I announced that in the Caribbean Debate. He did go rather after everybody else, but he has been there for a year now.
§ Mr. Maxton
Surely the Empire Marketing Board covered this ground and had a number of distinguished economists working on it. If I remember rightly, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was one of those who disposed of that organisation.
§ Colonel Stanley
No, I think the hon. Member is wrong on both points. The Empire Marketing Board had a much more limited field than I anticipate this body will have, and at the unfortunate decease of the Empire Marketing Board I was not in a position of such responsibility, I am afraid, as to have any share in it.
70 I am afraid I owe the Committee a double apology. One is for my sins of commission, because despite all my efforts at compression I have trespassed over long on its time and patience. The other is for my sins of omission. In a survey such as this, necessarily broad which I have tried as far as possible to relate to a central theme, obviously I have had to omit all reference to many important problems and many interesting developments. Each individual Colony has its particular difficulties, its particular problems and its particular conditions. I have obviously been unable to refer to them. I should, however, like the Committee and particularly the Colonies to know that it is not because I ignore their existence, not because I do not realise their importance and not that I am not striving to find their solution. I hope, and I think it is a hope shared by many Members of this Committee, that we shall be enabled sometime in the future to repeat the experiment which was such a success in the case of the West Indies, to debate the problems and difficulties of one particular area at a time.
It only remains for me to say that anybody who occupies my position now in time of war must suffer from a slight feeling of impatience. There is so much to do and so much we are prevented from doing by the shortages which are inevitable in war-time—the shortage of expert advice, the shortage of labour and, above all, the shortages of material. Therefore, this time, which we should so much like to be a time of action, has essentially to be a time of preparation when we make up our minds where we are going and how we are going there, so that as soon as we can start, as soon as peace gives the signal, we can get rapidly under way. Meanwhile, I have no inclination to apologise for the British Colonial Empire. In the past, as even our critics must admit, we have brought to millions of people security for life and property and an even-handed justice which they have never known before. Now it is our responsibility and pride to help those millions along the road to a full, happy and prosperous share in the world of the future.
§ Mr. Creech Jones (Shipley)
The best tribute one can pay to the Colonial Secretary is to say that all of us could have listened much longer to his review 71 of the problems emerging inside our Colonial territories at the present time. I am sure we all appreciate his very practical approach to many of the complex and difficult problems. All Members will welcome the series of announcements he has made about higher education, an inquiry into the Colonial services, his efforts to broaden the basis of economic knowledge, and a number of other matters. All that augurs well for the future. If there were many omissions from his statement, we have little cause for complaint, seeing how comprehensively he dealt with the problems which he brought to our notice. He suggested that we might later have opportunities of dealing with specific colonial areas. I had hoped that he would have told us how, along his own lines, some of the difficulties in this House could be overcome to permit of more adequate discussion of Colonial problems, and that some reference would have been made to what has been suggested in this House many times, some extra-Parliamentary machinery for dealing with Colonial issues.
As the Colonial Secretary has reminded us, this nation is subject to considerable criticism in various parts of the world for the manner in which it discharges its Colonial responsibilities. Overseas, it is often said that the tempo of change is not fast enough, and that it is about time we began to liquidate Colonial status and transfer certain of our responsibilities to some kind of international organisation. The Colonial peoples, where they are articulate, are also in a critical mood. They want action; they demand a new approach by the Government to many of the problems that trouble them. Some of us in this country, too, have been asking for some bold pronouncement by the Government on colonial policy. There has been many a doubt raised in regard to the application of the principles of the Atlantic Charter. Many voices of great authority have been heard, demanding at least a declaration of principles in regard to Colonial areas. I would agree with the remarks of no less distinguished an authority than Lord Hailey the other day. He said that our adherence to the Atlantic Charter gave other nations some share of interest in the future of our dependencies, and that our position would be greatly 72 strengthened if we found some means of making a pronouncement that had some kind of legal force. It may be argued that the fact that the Colonies are playing their part in this war and the fact that we are engaged in a war of liberation from Nazism, makes it almost axiomatic that the Colonial peoples will achieve under our flag political freedom and a general measure of social security and so on. But the Colonial peoples are asking what are our future Colonial objectives, and I submit that no harm would be done if some reassurance were given, not only to the Colonial peoples, but also to our critics in various parts of the world. I was glad that the Colonial Office was represented at the Conference at Hot Springs, at which some of the problems of backward areas were discussed— their food supplies and undernourishment. It seems possible, arising out of the discussions there, there will be a wider appreciation as to how the economic life of the Colonial areas can be integrated into some kind of world economic plan.
Before I say much about certain of the problems to which the Colonial Secretary has drawn attention, I would remind the Committee that there are now emerging some complex and baffling problems which will have to engage our attention before long. They are matters of high political policy, but they come within the ambit of Colonial policy. I mention only a few political problems of importance. Have we made up our minds on the future of Malaya when we have rolled back the Japanese? Are we going back to the old régime there? What is to be the future of Hong Kong? Are we going to continue a chartered company in North Borneo? What about the aspirations of South Africa for a Pan-African Conference over a vast part of that great Continent? What about the demands, already vocal, in Kenya for a larger measure of white settlement there, and the claims of the white populations in the Rhodesias and in Nyasaland for amalgamation and a greater control over the machinery of government? What are we going to do for the Jews in Palestine? Then there are the constitutional problems of Ceylon, Cyprus, the West Indies, and so on. Many more questions could be mentioned, all important for the future peace and stability of the world. I would like to bring to the notice of the Com- 73 mittee the recent work done on the subject of the future position of the Colonial territories in the world, the working out of an International Colonial Convention, a subject which has received the attention of the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society. Are the United Nations really thinking ahead in regard to the problems of reconstruction and relationships in the great Colonial areas?
So far as this country is concerned, we have in recent years braced ourselves to a very great effort, and it is obvious that there is a new approach to the study of Colonial problems by the Government. At the same time, there has been a quickened public interest. That is revealed in the discussions in our responsible journals, in the very eager conferences which are held, and in the way the speeches of my right hon. and gallant Friend, as well as those of the Prime Minister, are meticulously studied, not only in this country, but also in the United States. In the eyes of the world in the past, as well as in the eyes of a considerable section of the public here, we have not been altogether free from suspicion as to what we were up to inside the territories in our control. Were we more concerned under the old Imperialism with power and profit than with human welfare and freedom. I believe that in these days we are getting well away from those conceptions of Colonial administration, and I hope that we are leaving them for ever.
It is of importance, as the Colonial Secretary said, to recall that during the past few years the Colonial Office has adjusted its machinery to meet the new and extending needs of the colonies. This remarkable growth of machinery, the creation of advisory boards, the setting-up of bodies like the Stockdale Commission and the Anglo-American Commission, the co-ordination of territories in East Africa and West Africa: all are an indication that at last we are trying to create a machinery adequate for the responsibilities which we are called upon to discharge. But, unfortunately, the basic problems remain—the low standard of living of the great masses of people in the Colonial Empire, their ignorance, the widespread disease, the great amount of intense poverty. One has only to read the recent report of Major Orde Browne, published by the Colonial Office, into labour in Mauritius, to appreciate how sad a Colony 74 may become when it has no economic plan, when laisse-faire has been left to do its work and, as in this case, the island treated largely as a place for profit for those who have invested their money ire sugar. As the "Manchester Guardian" remarked the other day, our chief failures in colonial policy have arisen largely from our reliance upon commercial exploitation for the development of our dependencies and for securing the happiness and welfare of the inhabitants.
And apart from the social and economic problems, there is an urgent need, as the Secretary of State has reminded us, for political development. I agree very largely with what he has said hat the surest basis for building up self-government is in the development of local government and experience in municipal, administration. I am sure that all of us, most sincerely welcome the attention, which the Colonial Office is beginning to pay to this immensely important subject. One welcomes the work which is how going on in Jamaica, Cyprus and West Africa, because on it the future can be built. But while it may be true that at times central government is over-emphasised in these discussions, I would like to make the point that there are Colonies where progress has reached a point where a larger measure of political control might well be surrendered. I would like to make this point clear, that often increased representation alone in central government is hopelessly inadequate if people are to rise-to the responsibility of government. With representation ought to come training in responsibility, and unless the beginnings of responsible government are laid as representative government is expanded, then we shall not go very far or very quickly along the road to self-government.
Therefore, I would like to stress, particularly in the case of the West Indies, where there has been in recent years a great deal of tinkering with Constitutions, that there should be a greater opportunity afforded to the West Indians to start on the road of responsibility in regard to some of the services which are administered in their respective areas. I would also ask too, in the case of other colonial areas, that a little more should be done in the way of improved representation in central government. T mentioned just now that we have had recently an important report from Major Orde Browne in regard to labour condi- 75 tions in certain parts of the Colonial territories. What is one of the besetting evils of Mauritius is the fact that it is only quite recently that any kind of expression has been permitted to the Colonial peoples. Only a few years ago was some form of trade union expression allowed, but even yet political expression is completely denied. I would suggest that at a very early date more attention should be given to a reform of the Constitution of Mauritius. I would also ask, if I might hop to another part of the Empire, that, in Northern Rhodesia, greater representation should be given to native interests in the Legislative Council of that territory.
There is the larger question with which all Africans confront you: Are you, in all your planning of political development, preparing Africa for a common citizenship for Africans and white people? As they watch the encroachment of the colour bar and see new conventions springing up in regard to colour discrimination, flowing up from territories from the South, reaching into East Africa as well, they are all apprehensive as to whether, in the shaping of our political institutions, we are going to deny the Africans a fair place in the common life of their own country. They recognise that in law there is fundamental equality of treatment, but they are not convinced that in our political institutions again there is yet fundamental citizenship. It seems to me that it is along this line we must go if we are to convince the Africans that we are in deadly earnest about their future political status.
Fundamental, of course, is the economic and social problem which the Secretary of State spoke about. On the economic side I would like to say a few words. We are confronted again with the poverty, the very low standard of living and very poor returns which the Colonial peoples get for their work. I believe that a great opportunity is coming to us in the days ahead to help remedy this situation in many important Colonial areas. I hope that the Colonial Governments are looking well ahead, so that these men who have been withdrawn into the Army can be restored to the common life of their territories, and that they will be able to play a useful part in leadership and in the economic tasks demanded in future development. It will prove a difficult problem. These soldiers, many of them for the first time, have been well
76 housed, well fed, well cared for physically, well trained, and have gone through some of the elementary processes of education. They offer their country, because of their training and the experience which they have gone through, a great opportunity in the days to come. I hope that plans are being prepared so that these people can be properly restored to the common life, so that there will be opportunities for them to enter into small industries in which their training can prove of value in building up the industrial side of their nation, and also, that in the field of education they can play their part too in helping to smash through the abyssmal ignorance, the illiteracy, which afflicts great sections of Colonial populations. It is an opportunity, and I hope that it is going to be used.
The Secretary of State also referred to the fact that he proposed to set up a new department concerned with transport and that particular attention is to be given to the problem of air transport. I hope that the department and the Minister will give a wider attention to this problem than is suggested by air transport alone. The great problem in many of our tropical areas is communications and roads, and I should have thought that, having on our hands so many hundreds of thousands of Italian prisoners, the opportunity would have been taken to cut new roads in Africa and to create many public works. The Italians are extraordinarily competent in such tasks. Anyway, here is another opportunity now, because roads are vital in building-up markets and releasing Africans even from the isolation of the countryside and villages in which they live.
Then, again, I very much welcome the attentions which the Minister has given to the problem of co-operation. I agree with what he has said as to the importance of the "better living" and mutual aid societies. That type of organisation is fundamental in any kind of Colonial development, and I hope that there will be, with almost all Colonial Governments, specialised officers and special departments giving increasing attention to the building-up of co-operative activities. I hope myself to be able to present the Colonial Secretary, in the course of a very few months, with a report on this problem which the British Co-operative Movement has been studying for the past year, but I welcome very 77 much the attention which the Colonial Office is giving to the possibilities of an expansion on this side of social and economic activity.
I would also like to press that a great deal of the price and control machinery which has been built up during the war shall not be abandoned after the war is over. I believe that you can get down to some real economic planning if the controls which have been created for export purposes and the guarantees which have been given to producers as to output and prices all such things can be maintained after the war. But in any case, as long as these controls exist, it will permit of the local Governments securing a better balanced economy in these areas, and we all appreciate how fundamental that is for the health and good life of these communities.
Again, there is the alarming problem of unemployment in certain areas. I remember, in reading the Stockdale Report, how all through it the problem of unemployment loomed. What is to be done in order to put to useful work the men who will be coming back from the construction of the bases and from the Services when the war is over? How is the surplus population going to be absorbed into useful economic activity? I would also urge that we should even now start building up again some of the technical services on which the agricultural health of many of these territories depends. We have made too great inroads into our conservation service, our forestry service and services concerned with agricultural instruction. In all these respects we must drive a little harder than we have been doing up to now.
There is the further fundamental problem of malnutrition. I have a feeling that the Colonial Office is not doing enough with this difficult problem. It was referred to in the last Debate on the West Indies, but how much of the Report which was published in the early days of the war on nutrition has been implemented? There have been experiments in one or two parts of Africa, and undoubtedly the growing of food crops in order to relieve the situation created by the war has made it possible for many of the peoples of the Colonial territories to have a better diet. But so long as nutrition is deficient—the point is brought out well again in the report of Major Orde Browne in regard to 78 Mauritius—we shall always have sickly and unhealthy populations.
Again, I would like to know what we are doing to redress the food deficiencies in East Africa at the present time. Have the difficulties been overcome which confronted these peoples only a few months ago? I hope that when we are looking at the problems of Kenya we shall not again impose forced labour in regard to the production of tea and coffee. That seems to me to be something of a disgrace. I think it is far more important that the people should have been allowed to develop agriculture in their own reserves rather than that they should have been taken away in order to work for white people on growing tea and coffee. I hope the whole of the labour problems and conditions in East Africa will receive more intimate attention than they have had so far and that the Secretary of State will seriously consider whether his Labour Adviser cannot make an investigation into the labour problems in that part of the African Continent.
I desire now to say a few words about education. I attach great importance to this subject, and I know that the Secretary of State also does. His interest in the expansion of education is very great as he has shown to-day. The problem is one of very great magnitude, because there is so much leeway to be made up. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has reminded us of the amount of illiteracy and the narrow basis of existing educational facilities. I am told that in Tanganyika out of 1,250,000 children of school age 1,000,000 receive no education whatsoever. In Mauritius only three-fifths of the child population have any educational facilities; the remainder have none at all. On the Gold Coast, unless there is a speeding up of our education arrangements, it will probably take 600 years before the facilities exist for all children of school age. This is a sad story. It is also true that in Jamaica, less than half the children can be accommodated in the schools and that between 30 and 35 per cent, are not enrolled. A new approach and a new drive are being organised by the Colonial Office in this field, and they will cost a great deal of money. I picked up a paper yesterday which had come from Jamaica, and I read these headlines: "Nowhere to put them." "Children rejected at elementary schools." The article which followed went on to say that in Kingston, the 79 capital of Jamaica, all elementary schools have reported to the Department that they have had to turn away children making applications for education. The number of children turned away ran into several hundreds, and, it said, the average monthly attendance at all elementary schools in Jamaica had increased by 5,000 children. Observers attributed this to the work which had been made possible through the £1,000,000 loan, but mostly to the awakening throughout the country of the importance of education and the determination of parents that their children must be able to build a better Jamaica than they could.
All this is to the good, and these are demands which we have to organise to meet. It will cost a considerable amount of money, but, as the Secretary of State pointed out, the attack has to be on a broad front. We have to train teachers, develop higher education, increase secondary school facilities and provide numerous buildings. We have to treat education as a whole and direct our attention to the young and adolescent, to community education, technical education, and adult education as well as deal with mass illiteracy. I confess, however, that I am sometimes puzzled as to how these vitally important social services will be sustained on the financial basis of the respective Colonies within a measurable time. There are so many claims which have to be met. Housing, the development of health standards, the creation of new social services and facilities for education—all these press urgently for our attention. But I believe that it is a long-term investment by ourselves, that it is genuinely good business—
§ Mr. Creech Jones
It is an investment which in the long run will give excellent returns. If these demands are to be made on ourselves, I think it is all the more necessary that there should be big economic drives in the territories in order to increase their resources for the 80 building-up of social welfare and the like. Incidentally, I think that the income which now comes into the British Exchequer from the taxation of profits on enterprises in the Colonial Empire ought to be returned to the Colonies for their welfare work and economic needs. It is vitally important for this work of reconstruction to consult and collaborate with the Colonial peoples themselves. One of the brightest things I have read recently is an extract from "The West African Pilot," which came into my hands a day or so ago and which deals with mass illiteracy. A West African chief, speaking to his council at Onitsha Wgbo and introducing an education tax in his township, said:This, it is generally believed, is a direct answer to the demand for mass education. We have allowed the District Officer to speak in our councils, to rule us and address us from time to time, without objection. There is no cogent reason now why we should not give our youths a chance to speak their views upon any issues simply because they are not titled men. Sometimes when we have appealed for one thing or another all we have been met with is 'No funds are available.' In view of these disappointments I have been making the deduction that our salvation lies not without but within. That is to say, for us to fold our arms and rely on the powers that be to give us all our needs is as good as the Allies folding their arms and expecting angels of God to come down from Heaven and beat the Germans for them. We have for a considerable time now been considering the advisability of introducing mass education into this town. It is my earnest desire that at least three-fourths of the burghers of the town should know the three Rs. Illiteracy transforms one into a idiot and a social misfit and in the circumstances we have decided to wage war against it by the introduction of mass education. The education tax will bring you evening schools where you will receive free instruction, irrespective of age. It will give free instruction to our orphans and to the poorest children.The chief then proposed a tax of 2s. yearly on men and 1s. on women, and went on to say:The result may not be observed this year or in the next, but by the help of God and your co-operation you will realise what wonders it will work in revolutionising the life of this; ancient town.I think we are all agreed that it is most desirable that these people should show their interest, play their own part and cooperate in building up their own corporate life.
Finally, I hope we shall give the Colonial Secretary all the encouragement and all the money he needs for the development of the programmes he has sub- 81 mitted to us to-day. I hope that by that means we will show that partnership with us is a privilege of service to people who are weaker and often more ignorant than ourselves and that by this help we can go forward with them to the full realisation of their freedom and well-being. Our real object, however, must always be to give a fuller life to all the peoples of the Colonies. We shall achieve that only when—if I may quote from a speech made at the Pacific Conference at Mont Tremblant by a coloured speaker a few months ago:When all our noble declarations of policy are translated into terms that the common man throughout the world can understand— peace, bread, a house, adequate clothing, education, good health and, above all, the right to walk with dignity on the world's great boulevards.
§ Mr. de Rothschild (Isle of Ely)
My first words must be to congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Colonial Secretary on the very interesting speech which he made to-day; it was full of meat and full of promises for the future. It is a satisfaction to me that my remarks are once more falling on the ears of the same Minister who still graces the Front Bench, as he did when I last addressed the Committee on questions of Colonial administration. I am glad to see that the Minister shows every sign of healthy political endurance in his new activities. He enjoys certain advantages which many of his predecessors did not because there is to-day so much genuine agreement in all quarters that his task is one of essential importance. The view now prevails, after so much has been said about self-government and trusteeship, that the British Empire must, and shall, endure, because it has immense beneficent possibilities before it and a great contribution to make to the welfare and happiness of mankind, especially as people are beginning to understand the new orientation which has been given to the administration of our Colonial Empire. Little Englandism has vanished, and even the Labour Party, after the speeches we have heard to-day, has travelled a long way from its old position. In its recently published pamphlet it opposes any transfer of Colonial territory.
In some respects this is a very happy omen, and it happens that to-day, through the instrumentality of the Press, we are presented with what I might call a 82 sort of microcosm of the British Empire within one Colony, its problems, anxieties and needs, its great natural resources, the patient work which has so far been done to develop them. Besides that we are also presented with the great thirst and need for capital in order to develop them further. This Colony is British Guiana. In last month's issue of one of the interesting periodicals which deal with Colonial affairs there appeared some extracts from the British Guiana Press. They were full of anxiety about the future. They indicated that the inhabitants feel no assurance as to what will happen to them after the war. They fear that the political changes, if there are any such, will also mean changes in Colonial policy, and that the rosy promises made for the future will fall into oblivion. These articles express doubts, further, as to the benefits that the Colonial peoples themselves will reap from the future and from any post-war developments in their territory, and these articles from different organs—[An Hon. Member: "All Conservative?"] Very likely. They ask what part their own industrial organisation will be able to play in the post-war world.
Another angle in the presentation of this problem was provided last month in an article of great interest in one of our weekly papers. It describes the vast natural endowments of the territory, its resources in minerals, such as bauxite, its great range of vegetable products with all sorts of intriguing and high sounding names, edible oils from the Wangala, the Acquerro and the Awarra trees, tannin from the Kakaralli and 11 different kinds, and other pigments and dyes produced from many other vegetable growths. Then we are told that the wild nutmeg yields a very fine soap, and 30 trees produce gums and resins. It says that in the days after the war, when sweethearts and wives once more turn their attention to lighter things in life, British Guiana will be able to supply them among other things with the most delicate perfumes. The article, in fact, paints a very hopeful picture and points out that there are vast supplies of water power and that serious progress has already been made in the direction of industrial development. This is where the Government step in. We gather that investigations have been carried out. A forestry department, an agricultural department, and a geological 83 department have been in existence for many years. Fresh impetus has recently been given by grants from the Colonial Development Fund, and we are told this is an interesting new development. A Secretary for Amerindian Affairs is to be appointed to develop on an economic basis the crafts at which these people excel. A Secondary Industries Committee has also been set up, and it has recommended the establishment or the expansion of some 6o different industries dealing with the most diverse products. Indeed, this article is truly optimistic in its views of the results of Government investigations, of what has been achieved and of future possibilities.
One would therefore expect a happier attitude on the part of the people of British Guiana. It is the disparity between articles published by the local Press and public opinion of the Colony and articles published in this country by a well-equipped economic journal like the "Economist" which has brought me to discuss this matter to-day. It strikes me that the basis of the fear in British Guiana is the lack of capital. Vast supplies of capital are a necessity to continue these achievements which have been outlined, and I am certain that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech today, and the future which he has outlined, will bring some comfort to the people. They look forward to the time when the Government will be bold and generous. They also look forward to the time when some part will be played by private enterprise, and they hope that capital will come not only from this country but from other parts of the world. It will certainly be necessary to draw on all possible sources if the resources of the whole Colonial Empire are to be fully utilised.
The findings of the interesting and far-reaching Conference at Hot Springs stressed the importance of developing all the natural resources of the world. Our Colonies comprise a large proportion of the areas in the globe which are still undeveloped, and they must contribute to the welfare and prosperity of the world at large to the full extent of their capacity. The world, indeed, has a right to demand that they should no longer be neglected. We ourselves can grasp the feelings of the have-nots. We are now cut off from supplies of Colonial goods. 84 Where are the rubber, the nickel, the tea, the oranges, the bananas and the grapefruit we used to enjoy? We miss them. But the feelings of the have-nots were exacerbated because not only were Colonial products largely inaccessible to them, but they declared that we undervalued them and that we did not bother to develop them to the full extent. There must be no further cause for such feelings.
When we turn from what is called today economic warfare to economic welfare, we must not only develop our Colonial resources, but we must make them also easily available abroad, and in this I am not excluding even our enemies of to-day. We must devise in this respect some effective means of payment and exchange. The war is teaching us ways of surmounting such difficult problems. We have the example of Lend-Lease, and we must seek to solve similar problems by analogous methods. This will certainly mean fuller employment for native labour and the raising of the standard of living throughout the dependencies.
In this respect I should like to say how satisfactory it is to find the very brilliant account the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has put in our hands on the question of labour in the Colonies. The problem, as this document shows, is being approached in a generous spirit. I was particularly glad that he alluded to the appointment of trade unionists from this country as labour officers. The settlement of disputes and claims by free discussion will give the native a higher conception of his capacity, of his duty and of his dignity as a citizen of the British Commonwealth and Empire, to use the most acceptable and Guildhall phraseology.
There is one question which I know I shall be expected to discuss in a Debate of this kind, ranging over the whole Colonial Empire, and that is the administration of Palestine. But Palestine is very near the theatre of war. We know that the men and women of Haifa, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem and the surrounding settlements are doing their duty with the Forces of the Allied Nations, but that small territory to-day is plumb in the strategic picture, and I feel that I should only touch on it very lightly. My view is that the trend given to Palestine affairs by local administrations, by temporary 85 pro-consuls, puny or mighty, will not be of lasting importance. The question of Palestine has become of such interest and has such important bearings on international problems that it will only be settled at the conference that will take place when the war is concluded.
Hon. Members know that I have always opposed the White Paper. I do not believe it possible to build a peaceful Palestine or even to solve in part the Jewish difficulties in Europe on the basis of that degrading document and the administrative measures it outlines, measures which were not endorsed by the League of Nations, whose views were overridden at that time by the mandatory Power. This is a question which involves so many personalities in this House and outside, personalities whom I do not wish to bring into the Debate to-day, that I do not propose to dwell on it. While the war is still on the Jews have not to defend them the voices of powerful neutral kings, nor have they to help them the Prime Ministers of lukewarm Allied States. All that they have to speak for them are the wounds that are inflicted on them by the enemies of this country and of the other United Nations.
With that, I will turn to a pleasanter aspect of Colonial affairs. I should like to tell the right hon. and gallant Gentleman how gratified I was by one of the achievements of his administration which he himself did not mention because no doubt de minimus non curat praetor. What I am thinking of is the way in which the Fulani of West Africa are now being dealt with. This picturesque light-coloured tribe stand out from their neighbours in the Cameroons and Nigeria, being partly Arab and partly negro. They possess their own tradition and cities in the hinterland. Large sections of them were nomadic and had become a serious problem to ourselves and the French, since they roamed from territory to territory with their herds, causing great destruction. The Nigerian administration has now induced many of them to settle by building dairy depots to which they can bring their milk for sale. These depots have proved a great attraction. The Fulani came and stayed. They are now settling down to an agricultural life and learning modern methods of farming. Their health and standard of life are already greatly improved. What a contrast to the methods adopted 40 years 86 ago, when the Emir of Yola, the head of the Fulani, who proved troublesome, was deposed by the British Government. This tribe occupies a unique position, cutting across the frontiers of our own and the French Colonies. It thus provides an unusual opportunity of collaboration. The same problem exists for the French as it does for us, and it can only be completely solved if it is dealt with by the two Colonial Powers in unison.
I hope that steps are being taken to put the war-time collaboration between the French, the Belgians and ourselves on a more permanent footing. We know that the produce of different Colonies is being pooled for war purposes. More than that, each Colony is being asked to produce whatever commodities it can produce most economically and easily and which will be of most use for the total effort. This is a sort of arrangement which was envisaged by the Hot Springs Conference and every effort should be made to continue it after the war. I hope that Lord Swinton is successful in encouraging such a policy. With regard to tropical diseases, which are so often carried from one Colony to another by insects, I also hope that a common policy for combating them is being worked out. I agree with the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) on the question of the roads which are being built by the different military forces in West Africa. I hope that some thought is being given to the uses to which these roads will be put in peace time, and that they will be considered as important links between territory and territory and will not be used only for military purposes, Out of the war this good has come, that we shall have a nucleus for future harmonious development in Africa, a development as much for the benefit of black as of white, for Belgium and France as well as for ourselves, for Africa and for the rest of the world.
Doubtless we have much to teach each other. British West Africa has advanced, perhaps more than any other Colony, along the path of native betterment. Natives are now taking an active part in the government of their own country. I was pleased to hear the right hon. and gallant Gentleman point out that two native members have been appointed to the Executive Council of Sierra Leone. These are steps towards the goal of bringing the African within the Government of his own country, which is the aim of 87 our trusteeship. They are the right steps to take towards that raising of the status of the native which the Americans urge upon us when they criticise Colonial policy. With this improved status, with the better education which has been foreshadowed, with the increased sense of dignity which will result, there must inevitably come the abolition of all distinctions between natives and white settlers, and the colour bar will go.
§ Sir Edward Grigg (Altrincham)
I regret that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Colonial Secretary is not in his place at the moment for two reasons. I should like, first, to congratulate him warmly on the statement he has made to-day, and which I found, as I am sure all Members did, extremely interesting so far as it went, and, second, because there were gaps in the statement of a serious character to which I propose to draw attention. The statement so far as it went was completely representative of the attitude which this Government, the House and the country at present adopt towards the Colonial Empire. It is based upon the assumption that the Colonial Empire is the concern of this country j this Parliament and this Government alone. The speech which followed from the Front Opposition Bench took exactly the same line. I heard again and again the personal pronoun "we." Who are "we" that are supposed to be able to pontificate about the future of the Colonial Empire? Apparently the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) and the other hon. Members who are sitting here in exiguous numbers, as is invariably the case on occasions of this kind. It is "we" who are supposed to have the responsibility for dealing with those millions of human beings in that part of the British Empire which is called the Colonial Empire. What authority have we to claim that responsibility, that power, the imperium, to use the Roman expression, entirely as our own? Who is the hon. Member for Shipley, who am I and other hon. Members here to say that we are responsible for dictating the future of these millions throughout the earth?
I should like to ask that question. It is a pertinent question. Yet every speech we have heard to-day—and I have listened to them and to vast numbers of speeches 88 on similar occasions in the past—assumes that the responsibility for the Colonial Empire rests upon this Government, this Parliament and this House alone, without reference to the people of the Dominions who may be much more closely concerned or to the Colonial Empire itself when it has views to express. On that assumption the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend was admirable, and I congratulate him warmly upon it. It showed the spirit of initiative, of imagination and of enterprise which undoubtedly animates his Department at the present time. Since I had to deal more closely with that Department in the past great strides have been made. 1 would mention two in particular. The first is that there has been unquestionably a great effort made to delegate the initiative to the territories concerned. Much more emphasis is placed on the importance of getting the suggestions of the people who are responsible on the spot and trying to give effect to them. I congratulate the Department and my right hon. and gallant Friend warmly on that.
Another very welcome improvement in the organisation of the Colonial Office is that, instead of organising itself purely on a territorial basis, whether it was East or West, North or South or Africa or Asia, it has tried to organise itself more upon a functional basis, and to discuss the task of education as a whole, health as a whole and economic development as a whole. That functional organisation is, I believe, a great improvement on the organisation of the past. There again I congratulate my right hon. and gallant Friend and his Department most warmly. If that Department and if this House really carried anything like the sole responsibility for the future of the Colonial Empire which it might be supposed to carry from the speeches made in this Debate, inaugurated from both Front Benches, there would be nothing more to say. But I do not accept that premise. I think it is an extremely dangerous one, and I say further that if that premise continues to be accepted by us as unquestionable, there is an end of the British Empire and the Commonwealth.
Let me explain what I mean. Lord Milner, a great student of Imperial questions, made a speech more than 30 years ago in which he spoke of the growing danger of discussing, consdering and thinking of the Empire as two Empires, one de- 89 pendent and the other independent. He said that it spread the idea that these are two separate systems working towards different and inconsistent ideals, that whereas there is a Commonwealth of Nations which is self-governing the other Empire, the Colonial Empire, and, indeed, the third Empire, the Indian Empire, are systems in which those ideals are not recognised, in which we insist on the maintenance of the old-fashioned idea of the central imperial control.
§ Sir E. Grigg
If you like, Herrenvolk. This division of the Empire into two inconsistent halves appeared to him to be a very grave danger more than 30 years ago. It is a very great danger now, and it has been greatly accentuated by a process of reorganisation, which I regret, which was done, I think, without reference to this House, and that was the division of the then Colonial Office into two parts, one the Dominions Office and one the Colonial Office, under separate Secretaries of State. I was not in this country when it happened. If I had been I should certainly have done my best to protest against it. Undoubtedly it has accentuated this sense that there are two different Empires, one a Commonwealth of Nations based on the principle of absolute local sovereignty, national sovereignty, the other an Empire much more in the old sense which, while it is moving towards real freedom, is nevertheless based upon central control by this House and by the Government in this island. It is clear, and I think everybody will recognise it from what they have read in the United States and elsewhere, that this idea has done us immense harm in recent years and, indeed, in recent months. It has given some emphasis to and justification for the idea that we are not trying to evolve a free Commonwealth.
But that is not the aspect of it on which I wish to insist. There is another aspect, a domestic aspect, which is more important for this Committee to recognise. To assume that this Government, this House, this country are entirely responsible for the Colonial Empire is, in fact, to deny the equality of status which was given to the Dominions under the Statute of Westminster. Take Africa. If decisions can be taken by this House without reference to the other sovereign Parliament in 90 Africa, what does that declaration amount to?
§ Dr. Morgan
I should like to know when reference is made to the power given under the Statute of Westminster, whether the hon. Gentleman means that the Dominions, having sovereignty in their own Dominions, have the right to tell this Parliament and these peoples that they insist, if necessary, on their laws being recognised in the Colonies. For example South Africa has very great racial and colour hatreds.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I have the hon. Member's point. Let me put a question to him. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State raised the question of higher education, university education, in Africa, and said, very properly, that he was deeply concerned about it, and that he had decided to have it inquired into by a commission over which a distinguished English judge would preside. He is a judge without experience of these questions, but whose qualifications are, so far as I know, excellent—Winchester and Balliol. That is all right. But does the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) remember that the decisions of that Commission are going to affect not only the people in this country or, indeed, chiefly the people in this country, but are going to affect the people of Africa, and that the people of Africa include the Union of South Africa?
§ Colonel Stanley
I wonder whether it would not be better to defer this question until the hon. Gentleman has seen the terms of reference. I am sorry that I was not able to give them. The chief object is to see how the home universities here can help Colonial universities, and I see nothing wrong in appointing people who are the people who know the home universities.
§ Sir E. Grigg
From what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said in reply to an interruption made by my hon. Friend the Member for South-East St. Pancras (Sir A. Beit), I gathered that South Africans were not to be appointed members of the Commission. I hold very strongly that the South African universities should be represented. I hold strongly that there are people in South Africa who know more about this question than anybody else in this country, whether educated at Winchester and Balliol or not, and I should like to be certain that he has already 91 invited representatives of the South African universities to sit on the Commission, or other representatives of South Africa who are closely acquainted with and know about these affairs.
§ Dr. Morgan
The hon. Gentleman has not answered it at all. My point was that he has stated that the Colonies were not our preserves but that we should bring in the Dominions, that the Dominions ought to have a say with regard to our Colonial policy. He said that the self-governing Dominions have power to make their own laws, and I say, if they are to have a say with regard to Colonial views how are they going to bring the laws which they make about these Colonial peoples in their own Dominions, to coincide with our conceptions of Colonial government? In South Africa there is great racial and colour intolerance which we in the West Indies want to abolish.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I think I can answer the hon. Member in the course of what I propose to say. It is an interesting interruption, and very typical of an attitude of mind which I think will undoubtedly produce another war in Africa unless we are careful. I drew attention to the gravity of this question in Africa seven months ago on the day which was given to the study of Colonial affairs in the Debate on the Address. Since I spoke a public statement has been made on this subject by the Prime Minister of the South African Union; a Prime Minister whom we were very anxious to honour in this country eight or nine months ago; a Prime Minister whose experience, whose great services to the Empire, and whose knowledge of this subject nobody can question; a Prime Minister who not only in age but in service to the Empire is absolutely outstanding and almost comparable to our own Prime Minister at the present time. That Prime Minister has made, not, I regret to say, in the Press of this country, but in the Press of America, a statement on his views of the future government of the Colonial Empire in Africa, which I think deserves the attention of this Committee. I am very much surprised that although that statement was made seven months ago, and although nine months ago we were expressing the honour in which we hold that Prime Minister, not one reference has been made to what he said by any member of our own Government.
92 I have the article here. It was published in the American magazine "Life" at the beginning of December last year. Since it is rather long, I will not read the whole passage which deals with the Colonial Empire. The greater part of the article was a magnificent reply to American criticism of our Colonial government, a magnificent and, I think, an unanswerable reply. He went on, in a constructive way, as Field-Marshal Smuts always does, to outline his idea of the future, and it is that which I should like to summarise. In the first place he said that in his opinion national sovereignty over Colonies should be untouched, that is to say, that whoever had been responsible, whatever Power or whatever Parliament had been responsible for the administration of the Colonies in the past, should hold that responsibility intact after this war. In other words, he declared himself very strongly against the idea of international administration. He went so far as to say, and this is a matter of very great importance, that mother countries, the parent States, which had been originally responsible for the Colonies should have an "exclusive responsibility" for them. That was the language he used, and that was the language used by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State in a speech which he made at Oxford.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
Was the Prime Minister of South Africa referring to Italy and Italian responsibility for colonies?
§ Sir E. Grigg
He did not refer to Italy. He was dealing throughout the article with the United Nations, and I imagine that those who are not members of the United Nations are entirely outside the future which he contemplated The next point which he made was that contiguous Colonies, not only in Africa but elsewhere, should be grouped, and he advocated that for two purposes. The first was to promote devolution from the centre to authority on the spot. The second was to give Colonial opinion itself more weight. That was the second point which he made in that article. The third point was the advocacy of regional associations of the members of the Empire, whether they belong to the Dominions or whether they belong to the Colonial Empire. He said there should be councils consisting not only of Britain and these enlarged Colonial group 93 units but also—and here I quote his words— "any interested neighbouring British Commonwealth," in which we must, of course, include the Union of South Africa in Africa and Australia and New Zealand in the Far East. Fourthly, he went on to say that beyond this grouping of Colonies, beyond also this association of Colonies and Dominions in regional councils within the Empire itself, there should be wider international councils in which, he hoped, the Empire would be represented, preferably, no doubt, as Empire delegations speaking with a harmonious voice. But he strongly advocated co-operation with the other Colonial Powers and particularly (he insisted upon this) the United States.
That is an outline of his proposals, and the purposes for which he advocated them was, in the first place, security. He thought security could be more closely maintained by these regional groupings, and personally I agree. The other purpose was economic development, a subject which my right hon. Friend dealt with in his speech to-day. Anybody who has had to deal at first hand with the economic problems of any Colony will realise how important that is, because when you try to improve the economic status of a Colony you are always faced with the same problem—markets, and you are: not going to get markets without the co-operation of other Powers. Therefore, from the point of view of economic development, I do not think anybody questions that international co-operation is of the utmost importance at the present time. That was the declaration of the senior Prime Minister of the British Commonwealth without whose personal leadership in Africa we should not be winning the war.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
The right hon. Gentleman has hardly made the matter quite clear. The Colonial Secretary was envisaging a condition in which the Africans in West and East Africa would have a partnership-share in African affairs. Did Field-Marshal Smuts say anything in that statement—which is very interesting, and I am sorry we have not had a complete copy of it published in this country—about what share the African people in the South African Union were to have in the control of that Union and anything about what share the African 94 people, in such countries as Nyasaland, for example, would have?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
Order. We have gone rather too far already in debating what was said by General Smuts. I allowed a certain amount of latitude to Members; but if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrin-cham (Sir E. Grigg) develops it much further, it will go altogether beyond the bounds of Order in this Debate.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I am grateful to you, Mr. Williams, for that intervention. I have been careful not to discuss the policy of the South African Government, which I understand we are not entitled to discuss in this Debate, and I have been anxious to discuss only the effect of Field-Marshal Smuts' declaration upon the future of the Colonial Empire, which we are entitled to discuss. Without contravening the laws of Order, I think I can say that if the hon. Member who interrupted me had been a student of the speeches of General Smuts on this matter, for instance of the lectures which he gave many years ago in Oxford under the auspices of the Rhodes Trustees, when he was not Prime Minister, the hon. Member would know perfectly well the views of General Smuts on this matter. I do not think we are entitled to discuss that aspect of the matter any further, and I hope that the hon. Member will agree with me that with due respect for the Chair we should drop further controversy on it. I am anxious only to raise this question as it affects the Colonial Empire.
What is the attitude of His Majesty's Government to the questions raised by Field-Marshal Smuts? In regard to the sovereignty of this country over its Colonies there is no question whatever. The Prime Minister has made two admirable declarations, which were universally acclaimed throughout the Empire and received with respect elsewhere, including the United States. The Colonial Secretary himself has made a declaration on similar lines. In regard to the grouping of the Colonies in the Colonial Empire, which was the second point of Field-Marshal Smuts, there again the action of our own Government goes entirely to meet what he proposes. Territories have been closely grouped. That process, started before the war, has been greatly developed in the course of the war. 95 We know from the predecessor of the Colonial Secretary, and from himself, that there is no prospect of reversing that policy. In regard to the fourth point of Field-Marshal Smuts, we know that there is every desire in this country to go to the farthest limit possible in international co-operation. The Prime Minister, when he suggested European and Asiatic councils in his broadcast of 21st March, clearly had that kind of development in mind, and that development is implicit in the Atlantic Charter.
Therefore, on three of the four points of Field Marshal Smuts—sovereignty over individual Colonies, grouping of particular contiguous Colonies and co-operation of the Empire by regions, with the foreign Powers interested, and the United States— we know quite clearly the policy of our Government. But we do not know the policy of our Government on the third point raised by Field Marshal Smuts, the question of the organisation, the regional organization, of the Empire itself. I presume that Field Marshal Smuts, as a Prime Minister of long experience, would not publish an article in a foreign newspaper—
In view of the fact that this extremely important matter, which involves the whole question of the future government of Africa, either by His Majesty's Government or by the Government of South Africa, is now being debated, are we to be allowed to debate this matter, Mr. Williams, during this Sitting, and is the Colonial Secretary willing to give a reply with regard to Government policy on the matter? If we are not to be allowed to develop the matter, it seems very unfortunate that these statements may be made and not contradicted.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
So far as the matter affects the Colonies we can discuss it, but there is a strict limit so far as it affects other countries coming in.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I am discussing the effect of these points purely upon the Colonial Empire. It is a mistake for hon. Gentlemen to try to evade this question.
§ Sir E. Grigg
It seems that what the hon. Gentleman is trying to discuss is the policy of the Union of South Africa, and that would not be in Order.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Discussion of the affairs of the Union of South Africa is not within the bounds of Order, but the affairs of the British Colonial Empire are entirely within the bounds of Order.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Those are the boundaries which I was attempting to observe, in spite of interruptions, which make it very difficult to do so. On this third point of whether the rest of the Commonwealth has any responsibility for the future of the Colonial Empire or whether responsibility rests purely here upon Members sitting in this House, we do not know the views of His Majesty's Government, and it is a very vital question. After all, it raises the whole question whether the Empire does or does not deserve its name of Commonwealth and whether there is any equality of status within the British Commonwealth of Nations. We have had no announcement upon this point. Although many announcements of every kind, some welcome and some unwelcome, issue from Whitehall or Westminster on various subjects connected with the problems of the day; on this question Whitehall and Westminster might both be cities of the dead. For seven months there has been no reference to this terribly important question raised by one of the senior Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth. I shall not press my right hon. and gallant Friend for a statement on the subject to-day. He is not singly responsible, and it would be unreasonable to do so. I raise the question because I believe it to be of fundamental importance to the unity of the Empire, and not to embarrass him, and I know that it would be impossible for him to attempt to answer these very difficult questions when he replies to the Debate. I am sure he will believe that I have not the slightest idea of causing him any personal inconvenience in raising this question.
Nevertheless, the whole question has been ignored so long that the matter cannot be any longer overlookd by this Committee, without very grave risks to the unity of the Empire. People are thinking outside this Island even though we are not, and on lines very different from those to which we have been habituated in the past. I think therefore that my right hon. Friend should be able to give me three simple assurances—first, that these questions raised by the Prime Min- 97 ister of the Union are being considered by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as a matter of urgency, and that the importance of arriving at an understanding with South Africa about them is appreciated and is being studied?
§ Colonel Stanley
I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend, but he talks of an agreement with South Africa. I thought his speech was referring to the British Empire as a whole, to the status of the Mother Country and the Dominions as a whole. I did not know it was a question of a particular agreement which was to be come to with South Africa.
§ Sir E. Grigg
My right hon. and gallant Friend is not doing himself justice. He has a better intelligence than he is leading us to suppose. [Hon. Members: "So have you."] The point which the Prime Minister of South Africa raises is a point which affects the Empire as a whole, and I am asking what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards that point, which affects the Empire as a whole.
§ Sir E. Grigg
There must clearly be agreement with South Africa in regard to Africa. The second assurance for which I ask is that when a decision is reached and Government policy upon this subject is fixed, my right hon. and gallant Friend will consult this House before the matter is taken to foreign States. I hope there will not be any idea of discussion with foreign Governments about future organisation of this kind, which affects the Dominions, without the whole issue having been put to this House, so that the House can give its opinion upon the matter. I am sure that I will carry all hon. Members with me on that point.
§ Sir E. Grigg
The third point on which I would ask for an assurance is that before this country enters a peace conference to deal with subjects like the future organisation of the Empire and so on, the policy that we intend to pursue will have been 98 submitted to an Imperial conference and will therefore be an Imperial policy and not merely a British policy. These are matters of very great importance. We hear a great deal in this country at the present time about our own domestic affairs, such as the Beveridge Report, and a great deal also about the outer world, taking the widest possible range of humanity—about our co-operation with humanity as a whole, but we do not hear so much about what, after all, is the middle term, and that is co-operation with our own family throughout the world. It is clear that the members of the Empire should go to the peace conference as a united family with the same plans and the same future in mind. Hon. Members will no doubt realise that it was not this country alone which defeated Germany in 1914 but the unity of the British Empire, and nothing less. This country could not have stood alone. When Russia was allied to Germany and the United States was non-belligerent, and when all other nations were either crushed or incapable, the only nations who stood with us were those of our. own family. Do not let us make any mistake about it; that is the foundation on which we have to build.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Yes, but I am really tired of that point. I have spoken again and again upon it, but hon. Members have a prepossession about the matter. They have to realise that Africans are Africans, whether they are white or black. The hon. Member seems to think that Africans are only Africans if they are black.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Yes, but there are also white Africans, and they have been in their part of the country for 200 years longer than most of its present coloured inhabitants. That is what Members opposite fail to recognise.
§ Sir E. Grigg
Owing to many interruptions, I have spoken longer than I intended. May I conclude with this? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke about economic development. He is perfectly right. Economic development lies at the root of political development. Subsidised self-government is an impossible idea. Self-government implies the ability 99 to pay one's way. The ability to pay one's way implies production, and in Africa that is a great problem, because, as my right hon. and gallant Friend said, you cannot base such self-sufficiency upon agriculture alone. He spoke of secondary industries. They are important, but what is going to be more important in Africa is what has made much of its agriculture possible, that is, mineral development. That mineral development is obviously capable of great expansion, because new mineral discoveries are being made in Africa all the time. I think everybody recognizes—and I am talking now of the political problems raised by economic development—that the mineral developmen essential to the welfare of Africa will depend upon the introduction of more white labour. No one questions that. I ask whether that labour is to be skilled alone, because if you commit yourself to a policy of introducing only skilled white men, then you are perpetuating and spreading the colour bar. Unless you are going to face the necessity of introducing unskilled labour on absolutely equal terms, the necessity for skilled labour will perpetuate the colour bar. I beg people to realise the immense importance of that question. At present the colour bar is roughly South of the Limpopo. By the colour bar in this instance I mean the bar placed by the white trade unions which say that the black man shall not enter a skilled occupation at an equal wage. That is what I mean by colour bar in this case. Southern Rhodesia at the present time is a no man's land, where two policies co-exist. Otherwise the colour bar does not exist North of the Zambesi.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I am talking about the exclusion of the African from skilled labour. It does not exist in Nyasaland nor in Kenya, where the Government have trained Africans for many skilled trades extremely well. This is fundamental to economic development.
100 Are you going to introduce only skilled white labour? If you are not going to introduce unskilled as well, the strain upon the African communities will be overwhelming. It is very great at the present time, and if mineral development goes on, I do not know how the native population can meet its claims. When you get to these fundamental colour questions there are only two alternatives. They are simple alternatives. I beg the Committee to consider them. One alternative is conflict and the other alternative—the only other—is conference and compromise. There are no other alternatives. You can have it one way or the other. I hope that we are going, in spite of the difficulties, for conference and compromise and that therefore in these fundamental questions of the Colonial Empire we shall get the cooperation and the advice and the help of the other great self-governing nations of the Empire.
One more word. I do not think that Mr. George Trevelyan can be regarded as an illiberal historian. I was reading the other day in his history of Britain in the nineteenth century his final comment upon the emancipation movement throughout the world. In the course of it he dealt with Africa, and this is what he said about the way in which we handled our progressive policy in that Continent:These men, who knew nothing about the Dutch or about South Africa from any angle save the one (which was emancipation), failed to see Africa's problems as a whole and sowed the seeds of future disaster.I can only hope that we shall not allow that epitaph to be written upon our Imperial statesmanship in the coming period of African history.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I have listened, as I am quite sure all other Members of this Committee have done, with great interest to what my hon. Friend has just said. With him, I deeply regret the fact that the words of Field Marshal Smuts were not given wider publicity and possibly explanation and understanding in this country. Now that my hon. Friend has drawn attention to what was said on that occasion by the Field Marshal, I hope that we shall all have the opportunity of giving those words greater study in detail and keeping the matter very much before the public mind. The general theme of my hon. Friend's 101 speech was really the same theme as that on which I wish to speak for two or three minutes, that is, the absolutely urgent necessity of bringing into consultation all those who are affected with us by the problems of Colonial government.
My hon. Friend spoke particularly of Africa. If I do the same; it is not because I do not recognise that there are other groups of Colonial possessions in the world which need the closest possible attention, but because it is that within Africa that you have the whole problem brought; within more feasible and understandable limits than, perhaps, in other parts of the globe. In Africa, I think, our problems are far more pressing—you might say that some are not so serious, but they are far more pressing and demand greater attention—than in any other quarter of the British Empire. One cannot but feel depressed when one finds how little interest has been taken in the past in what is going on in the Colonial possessions of other countries in Africa. It is an amazing thing to find, in territory after territory, that though the textbooks may be there and statistics are there, very few of those engaged in and helping in the administration of our Colonies have actually paid visits to neighbouring Colonies under foreign flags and studied how they are dealing with the same sort of problems as those which we face. That in itself would appear to be a most extraordinary state of affairs. It becomes much more extraordinary when one relates that statement to what is actually the case, that in Africa we are dealing with every kind of native question, and that we cannot begin to think of African problems at all, unless we realise that the overwhelming majority of black Africans in Africa do not recognise, any international boundaries.
It seems an extraordinary thing, for example, that on the Northern Rhodesia copper belt and on the Belgian copper belt we should not have exchanged information far more freely with our Belgian friends across the border than we have been able to do in the past. I do not myself blame the Colonial or the local administrations for that fault. The difficulty has clearly been—I am not referring now to Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo—that our own conception of our own duties in Colonial possessions is different from the conceptions of some foreign Powers. Surely that should not 102 debar us from making and maintaining far closer contacts than we have done in the past, if we really mean to solve these problems.
Referring to what my hon. Friend has just said about the regional structure or the structure of the regional form of conference, we are rapidly heading in the direction of something of this kind and we should be mad to turn down the suggestion, for instance, of a Regional Advisory Conference for the whole of Africa, including foreign interests as well as our own, because it is in such conferences and from such conferences that the greatest possible good can come, and, after all, we have all got to live together with our different flags in the one Continent. We can bring this matter nearer home as regards our own Colonial responsibility. We have already in being a scries of Governors' Conferences between our different Colonies, for instance in East Africa. But I wonder how real these Conferences are in fact. It is quite easy to recommend and to bring together Governors' Conferences, but the fact that the Governors confer and a few of the higher officials of their Governments confer, is not to my mind very much good. You will never get very much good out of these conferences unless you keep certain officers in each Colonial territory in close contact the entire time.
What is there to stop far closer liaison existing than already does exist between those responsible for native labour problems in all the territories in East Africa? Why is it that it is being found so difficult to put into rapid effect all the changes necessitated by the industrial and mineral developments in Africa which affect not only the Colonies and territories in which these developments take place but territories far removed, from which native labour has to be drawn in order to feed these vast industrial organisations? If, as I hope, we aim high as regards cooperation between our own Colonial territories and international co-operation in dealing with native problems, we must set an example ourselves by making that co-operation a reality and not just an intermittent debating society as between a few Governors and a few officials of their administrations. These discussions must take place all the time if we are to tackle these problems urgently, and these problems are urgent. In this connection 103 I again make no apology for speaking of Africa, because in the West Indies, for instance, we can see the needs although we have not yet achieved the aim of meeting them. We have not yet begun to tackle the big problems in Africa. Nobody knows what is going to be the effect of the extraordinarily rapid industrial development that is going on. Are we going to alter the whole character of vast tribes and races to develop native African industrial populations, or are we going to superimpose new industrial populations upon those existing tribes and races?
Up to the present, I do not blame either the Colonial Office or local administrations for the seeming slowness which has been shown in tackling those problems. I do not think that they can be tackled unless we have far wider co-operation than we have had in the past. The administration is there: able men are there—far more able than is sometimes suggested from the other side of the House, or even from this side sometimes. It is a live organisation and a live administration, but it is something essentially British, and it may well be that when something which is essentially English has to grow on African soil it will grow in rather a different way than it has grown in this country. It is a curious thing that the structure, the aims, and the ambitions which inspire trade unionists, for instance, in Africa, are the exact antithesis of those which animate the sounder trade unionists in this country. We shall be making a tragic mistake if we attempt to box into an English form of life this new form of native development. Those who are going to solve the real problems of the Colonial territories the world over most successfully are those with high ideals, but, even more, those with rapid and wide adaptability.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Barnstaple)
With great respect to the Minister and to the other Members who have spoken, it still seems to me that we are discussing the Colonial issue without putting to ourselves the question which the world and, if I may say so, the future, is asking of the British Colonial Empire—and of the other Colonial Empires, for that matter. The question is, Are these Colonial territories going to be ours in 5, 10, 20, 25 years— I do not mind much about the period— 104 are they going to be ours in 25 years' time, as they are ours to-day? I would ask some hon. Members to try to get outside of this little Island of ours in their minds, and outside of this little moment of history. Perhaps a good device is to go to the House of Lords Library, where I am told you' will find a large globe representing the world. Twirl it round once or twice. You will find that five nations, geographically constituting nothing more than a little fringe at the Western end of the Eurasian Continent, own, administer and govern as Colonial dependencies an enormous part of the earth's surface. They do this as a result of historical, military and industrial accidents, which took place mainly, although not wholly, in the 19th century. Does this Committee think that that astounding state of affairs is going to endure much longer, and are hon. Members quite confident that the world as a whole, or the United Nations as a whole, would give the same answer to that question as the majority in this Committee would give? Of course not.
We are fighting a war. I think Vice-President Wallace has defined our objectives in a few words better than any other man, by saying that we are fighting for the new century and the common man. In that war there are fighting Americans, Chinese, Russians, Indians, Africans. Are they fighting to restore Burma and Malaya to exactly the same sort of rule that they were under in 1939? I think not. If this seems shocking to hon. Members, let me quote the words of Mr. Wendell Willkie—although I do not want to be tied down to agreeing with him on every point:Our objectives cannot be accomplished by some declarations of the leaders of the United Nations, as in the Atlantic Charter, particularly when Mr. Churchill defends the old Imperialistic order and declares to a shocked world, 'We must hold our own.I think the Prime Minister is out of touch with the younger elements in this nation in thinking that "We must hold our own" is the motto for which we are fighting this war. It is hot that we are not proud of our Colonial Empire, but, as we look to the future, we are proud of the fact that we are not going to own it in the way we have done in the past. "What we have we pool" is a motto far finer for the latter part of the 20th century than anything that the Prime Minis- 105 ter has ever uttered. We have heard talk about education for these Colonial peoples, and co-operation between their universities and ours. Have not the Russians something to say about this? Have we not to face the fact that when it comes to giving elementary education to backward peoples in the last 20 years the Russian accomplishment outdistances ours beyond all proportion? Think of their colossal achievements, compared to our slow dragging footsteps in this matter. If it is to be done by any white people, are not they to come in on it as much as we? Are we asking them, or is the whole of this development to come from these little countries around the Western fringe of Europe?
I come to one other great question, which in these Debates seems to me to be studiously shunned, as if there was something indecent about it. One of the basic economic facts about most of these Colonial possessions is that they are not owned by this country and not owned by the natives, but owned by private shareholders. It is in a very real sense true that Nigeria is owned by Lever Bros.; it is in a very real sense true that Malaya, until the Japs came in, was owned by the shareholders in rubber and tin companies. To talk as if our Government Departments are wisely administering these Colonies while a little bit of private business is done below the surface, is to misrepresent the position. The natural resources of these territories have been exploited and developed by and for British shareholders, and there has been a top dressing of administration on the surface. You can play about with that top dressing, push it a little further below the surface and so on, but the basic fact is that these resources are owned by private individual white men.
Does this Committee think that that position is going to endure? I say that it is not. We must end the private ownership of the natural resources of these Colonial territories by white people, and until we end that it is "all my eye and Betty Martin" to talk about development in the interests of the natives. Frankly, I have my suspicions about this Development Bill. I look at the nearest Colonial territory of the English people, namely, Scotland. When you develop hydro-electric power for the Highlands how much benefit of that goes to the 106 Colonial peoples of Scotland? No, if you look into the way it is working you find that a nice lot of money is being spent up there, but the development—
§ Sir R. Acland
It is an illustration which we have under our eyes, of what happens when you spend public money to develop the resources of a place in which private ownership of the resources is the rule. If you do not want the specific case of Scotland, I am prepared to take the abstract case of spending public money to provide cheap facilities by which the big companies may make profits, while terribly little goes in supplying—to get out of Order for a moment—cheap electricity to the ordinary people of Scotland. I am terribly afraid that it is going to be exactly the same in the Colonies. I do not expect that anybody will respond to this except in terms of derision, because that is what has happened to me for fhe last three years in this House, but the question which this country will some day face is that of whether we are going on owning these great Colonial territories as we do to-day. I say, not for very much longer. Can you have these resources privately owned by British shareholders? I say, no. The House need not trouble to answer anything I have said, but I say that the answer will be given one day.
§ Mr. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I gather from the speech of the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) that he thinks that in a short time we shall have lost our Empire, which apparently does not worry the microscopic party which he represents. At one time many of us had studied the Colonies only from blue books, Bills, globes in the House of Lords Library and Colonial Estimates, but there are now in this country many people whom the chances of war have taken out into the Colonies—and into some Italian Colonies—so that we have been able to see what is happening under our administration. I must confess that, having had visits to these Colonies, I have had a rude awakening, and yet in spite of all the defects, a proud awakening. The conspicuous devotion of Colonial troops in this war merits a word of praise. There was the prowess of the West African in the Abyssinian and Somaliland campaigns, the work on the Tobruk Road by the 107 African Pioneers, the adaptability, loyalty and initiative of the Bechuanas and Basutos and the General Transport Companies manned by the Mauritians and Palestinians. They have shown that notwithstanding any jeers or any derision of the hon. Gentleman the Member at present representing Barnstaple that they do mean something to the Colonial Empire.
I hope that the Colonial Secretary, when he replies, will say a little about how we intend to train more Colonial troops to take the place of British troops in the workshops and Services. We have done a certain amount of that training already, but we could do a great deal more. In West Africa, where we have lately seen large numbers of aeroplanes and motor vehicles, the intense desire on the part of the natives is to be trained in driving and mechanics. That is where stimulation of the war effort can go hand-in-hand with wise Colonial development. It is not one of those aspects of Colonial development where the Colonial Secretary would have to say:-"We cannot afford it at the present time," because in training the Colonials to take their place side by side with and to take over from our troops work in the workshops and on the lorries we are not spending money but are increasing the war effort which the nature and situation demands to-day.
That brings me to the question of education. I am afraid that I felt, from the visit which I paid to Nigeria in March, that we were running our education on unsatisfactory lines at the present time. We are turning out far too many clerks and lawyers and too few craftsmen and farmers. That is a condition of which we must get down to the root. That is the crux of our present Colonial problem. Are we not accelerating our political advance before we have made any progress towards economic prosperity? We all talk very glibly of our object being self-government, but until we have given a Colony economic prosperity it is entirely delusory to give them self-government. The natives think we have given the promise of self-government but until you have given them economic status, it is no good giving them self-government.
Equally I found some natives who said that we promised trusteeship. Very few natives, unless; they have had a legal 108 education—indeed very few Englishmen—really know what trusteeship entails. That has been a very dangerous but glib political catch-word used in Colonial debates. If we are going to hand over the trusteeship without first creating the prosperity of the Colony we will have failed to discharge our responsibilities and our Colonial duties. When I speak of "our" I include not merely Great Britain but the whole of the British Empire. What the native wants, and should receive, is partnership. I found that throughout the whole of my visit to West Africa. What they asked for is partnership. When you consider how these men have fought and suffered for us in this war it is only right when we talk of partnership that we should mean a partnership in which the native takes a stake in the economic development of his Colony and the Empire. The declaration of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Colonial Secretary was, I think, the first time that partnership has been mentioned from the Front Bench as the object of Colonial government. I believe that that is the right object. To relate the work of education to that object, you have to produce and educate the right type, and that is where I fear the present education is going on the wrong lines. I have been appalled at the lack of real elementary education in the Colonies. The mission schools have done a great deal of good, but they are not producing those men who will be the craftsmen and leaders in the villages but they are producing men whose highest ambition is to work a typewriter or go into the law. (Interruption.) I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. Brown). I had that ambition once. It is not the highest ambition. But there is one exception. The Government sent out an adviser on education to Nigeria, and the work that he is doing is rather different from what I expected. He went to a little fishing village on an island near Lagos, and he has started, in a very pleasant, nice little garden, a small village school where the children are taught with a fishery bias. I believe that Mr. Duckworth has, in that scheme, laid the foundations for our Colonial education. It is not these large schools and intellectual lend-lease in university life that we want, but right down in the village school you have to teach a love of craftsmanship and of industrial know- 109 ledge. There is a complete lack at the moment of technical education, and we must introduce technical education as soon as we can afford it.
That is one half of the Colonial problem, but the other half is, when you have produced the right people to take part in a partnership, to give them economic development of native industry. I have been struck, not only in Nigeria but throughout the whole of the Colonial Empire which I have visited during the last three years, by the absence of native industry. I would take Nigeria and West Africa as an example. There are no native industries in that area of territories. I spent my time there in trying to rind native industries, and I would like to give a catalogue of what I found. I saw small cloth weaving enterprises being worked by two women and a boy. I found the Lisaba mills in Lagos, where an enterprising man is making yam flour and porridge, cleaning and roasting coffee, and a small metal works with about 10 employees, nothing ever any bigger.
What is the reason for that lack of development? The reason is the United Africa Company. In this I am in agreement with the hon. Member for Barnstaple. I believe that that company exercises a dead hand throughout the whole of West Africa. It is part of a combine operating from London. It is administered from London. There is no native capital in the whole of the enterprise, and yet that company has a secure and undisputed monopoly throughout the whole of West Africa, and it is a very regrettable fact that we must take into consideration. There is widespread resentment throughout all the West African Colonies at that virtual monopoly. It is a monopoly from which, through the misfortune of an agreement, the Colonies themselves have to suffer. In the last 36 years the Nigerian Government have had to hand over to the British Africa Company £2,250,000 of their revenue owing to the agreement of 1898. That handing over of revenue—50 per cent. of the royalties—will continue until 1998. That is very wrong. Not only do we allow a monopoly to strangle a large group of Colonies, but the Colonies themselves have to take from their venue that which ought to be used for their betterment. It is a large sum of money. It is the equivalent of 20 times that which the Colonies are receiving under the Col- 110 onial Development Act and is being handed over to the United Africa Company. The United Africa Company was purchased for a sum one-third of the amount which has been diverted from the Colonies. These are considerations which I hope the Colonial Secretary and Parliament will bear in mind and see whether they should not take more active steps to promote native industry in these Colonies and secure that the natives themselves invest money in those industries.
§ Mr. Turton
Fifty per cent, o† the royalties derived from mining interests in Nigeria have been paid every year since 1898, and the amount now totals over £2,500,000.
§ Mr. Turton
If my hon. Friend has more information than I have, I will bow to his superior wisdom, but so far as I know the United Nigeria Company is Lever Brothers and is administered from London. I pay tribute to the very great work done towards the treatment of malaria and black-water fever by the draining of swamps. At the same time I was struck, as I think any hon. Member who has passed through Nigeria has been struck, by the prevalence of tuberculosis in that Colony. In the African hospitals there are a large number of cases of tuberculosis at the present time, and the swift nature of the disease is something that this Committee and the Colonial Secretary will have to take active steps to prevent. There is not one tuberculosis sanatorium in the whole of Nigeria yet tuberculosis, with yaws, venereal disease and malaria, is becoming one of the dread diseases of the Colony. As we know tuberculosis largely results from bad housing and poverty.
§ Mr. Turton
I have seen conditions in Cyprus, Nigeria and the Gold Coast, and I think the hon. Member is lucky in coming from Scotland. We must try to raise the standard of these Colonies. Some part of their poverty is due to the old method of looking at development from the 111 individual self-sufficiency of each Colony. There was no part of my right hon. and gallant Friend's speech I welcomed more than the statement that he regarded this question of the development of the Colonies from a far wider angle and that it was an Empire responsibility to have plans ready for after the war. I would ask him whether he has a plan for slum clearance in Lagos because there is a great need for something to be done about housing there?
One other factor which strikes anybody is the question of the children in Nigeria. Everywhere else in England and the Empire we have a great reputation for our treatment of children. I do not intend to say anything against orthodox polygamy but promiscuous polygamy is much more dangerous. Orthodox polygamy is when a man has a given number of wives and they do not change, but promiscuous polygamy is when a man's fifth or sixth wife goes off to be the sixth or seventh wife for somebody else. Maybe some other hon. Members are authorities on the subject and may have another explanation but that is my definition of promiscuous polygamy. If you have promiscuous polygamy you have the fearful problem of the children who are thrown into every form of vice and eventually appear before the court. I think it is a very grave reflection on our administration in Nigeria that there is not one probation officer to deal with these children. I know that the man-power problem is pressing but I appeal to the Minister to spare one man to go out to Nigeria and take charge of the probation system there at the present time. I know there is the Green Triangle hostel which has taken some of these children from the streets and is looking after them but they cannot deal with the court and all their work is being nullified by the absence of a probation officer. This is a real problem which we must set our minds to cure.
I have another impression to give to the Committee, and it concerns the question of rents, which I think are bound up with the question of children and poverty. I took the trouble whenever I went to see industries to talk to workers and find out what rents they were paying and it may interest the Committee to know the figures. In the town of Lagos you pay 16s. a month for one room; in the suburbs you pay 12s.; at Abeokuta, about 60 miles 112 away, you pay 6s., and in the native villages you pay 2s. or 3s. a month for one room. Let us compare the English agricultural worker with the Lagos worker. The English agricultural worker is receiving to-day £3 a week and is paying 5s. a week rent for a cottage. The Lagos worker receives 12s. a week and pays a rent of 4s. a week for one room. I leave the Committee to draw their own deductions, but I can tell them that the result is that the whole of the working community are in the hands of moneylenders. They are never out of insolvency from the day they are born not only until the day of their death, but even longer, because it is the habit not to have one funeral service but three and the third takes place ten years after death. Therefore, there is recurring insolvency all the time. I appeal to the Minister to take the problem of rent, credit and insolvency in hand. I believe it can be tacked. One of the reasons why rents are so high is because there is no other outlet for native investment except in land. No European can own land in Nigeria. All the land is owned by the natives and the result is that there is competition to own it and rents are always increasing. If you could give further outlets for native investment such as investment in native industry or in the United Africa Company, which I criticised a short while ago, I think it would bring down the prices of rents in Lagos. Bound up with slum clearance you should have a Government housing scheme. I have been appalled by the type of house in Lagos. The one room at 16s. a month, to which I have just referred, is not really a room at all; it is a verandah on which a man and his wives, not one wife remember, have to live together.
I hope I have given the Committee one or two impressions which will reinforce what I come back to, namely, that if we are to develop our Empire, it must be by the encouragement of education on the broadest elementary lines rather than by the development of secondary education. I must confess that I am apprehensive about this intellectual lease-lend. I have been struck by the large numbers of Africans who have left West Africa for this country for six to 12 years and have then gone back, aliens to their families, hoping and expecting to get good posts which are not open to them and who would have been far better off if they had been educated and brought up with their 113 own people at home. I am not too happy about sending large numbers of students for long periods away from home.
§ Colonel Stanley
I could not have made myself clear. The whole object is to provide in their countries educational facilities which up to now they have only been able to obtain by coming here.
§ Mr. Turton
I am glad to be corrected, but if I remember aright my right hon. and gallant Friend did say that this Lend-Lease would have a two-way approach. However, I would like to pay a tribute to the Colonial Secretary who, I believe, has a real grasp of Colonial administration. I also believe that we are all agreed on the need for continuity in Colonial administration, without a frequent change of Ministers. Nothing is more embarrassing for our Colonies than to find Colonial administration changing from day to day with changes in the Government; it is still more embarrassing to find the Colonial Office used as a step in the ladder of political advancement. I appeal to the Colonial Secretary—and also indirectly to the Prime Minister—to see whether he can spend a number of years in his present office because there is great work to be done in the future, work on which we and the Empire will be judged for a long time. I have criticised certain aspects of our Colonial administration, but I have no criticisms to make of our Colonial administrators. We have all been impressed by the quality of the men serving as District officers and Residents. They are no mere rulers; they are also the friends and advisers of the people. May we in our policy try to reward those men and the people whom they serve for their devotion in this war, and their loyalty to us in the past, by trying to give them their share, as partners, in a great and victorious Empire.
§ Mr. Woods (Finsbury)
I would like to endorse one point made by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), namely, his hope—which I share with him—that the present Colonial Secretary will really get down to his job and hang on to it sufficiently long so that he himself can reap some of the fruits of his efforts. The Committee listened to the Minister's statement not only with interest but with real appreciation, and particularly noted the genuine and primary concern of the Department for the life of the 114 people rather than any economic advantage to any private concerns that may be exploiting the national resources of our Colonial territories. Some members of the Committee smiled when the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) spoke about the real ownership of some of those places, but whether real ownership is there or not, I think undue power is given to some businesses which are not working to the advantage of the native population. That was confirmed by the evidence of the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton in so far as he had been able to ascertain conditions on the spot. Be that as it may, the final responsibility is with the British Government and with this House of Commons, and that is why I welcomed the human note struck by the Colonial Secretary. We know that what he said was not something given to us for propaganda purposes, because those who are interested in Colonial affairs are satisfied that there has been definite progress. There was no boastfulness in the Minister's statement that he held out hope of far greater development in the future.
The Colonial Secretary has what is probably one of the most fascinating jobs going in the world to-day—and one of the most serious jobs. It has always been the case throughout the history of the world that small nations on the sea-board have had the greatest influence over the rest of the world. The task now, is for that influence to be exercised in such a way as to affect the whole life of the world and knit it into one united, vast whole. That cannot be done without a very real consideration of what we know as the native population. Whether we like it or not, there are races who are fascinating because they are yet in the infancy of mankind, relatively speaking. Whatever developments take place along economic lines, I should like to see developed in this country such a regard for these people and such appreciation for their particular capacities and histories, such as these are, that there will be no undue interference. While I am all out for encouraging native industries, I am particularly anxious that industry should not be dumped upon them but that their own way of ŵorking out their own salvation should be encouraged to the greatest degree possible. This is important from our present standpoint in the war, with affirmations of Atlantic Charters and so forth, because if we want to demonstrate 115 to the other nations of the world that we are not hypocrites and that we really mean business, we have to deliver the goods. I can conceive of no action on the part of the Government which would be more expressive of our integrity in these affairs, and our recognition that we have a profound obligation and responsibility and are going to rise to it in our relationship with these native people.
The hon. Member for Thirsk went over a few of the problems that he had come up against at first hand. The questions of high rents, unemployment, the need of care for children, especially those who are, as it were, unwanted, are not problems peculiar to the Colonial Office. They are world-wide. We have them here. The problem of rents affects the working classes of the whole world, and I will not expect the Colonial Office to solve this apart from the rest of the world. It involves the application of new conceptions of the relationship of the people to their homes, and the question of collective responsibility for seeing that homes are provided. While the problem is world embracing, I think the Colonial Secretary has opportunities for special experimentation in the way of solving these problems, because in many of these countries the actual requirement in the way of domestic habitations is much less than it is in this country. The two pillars which were suggested as the foundation on which progress is to be made, will find a ready approval from all who have studied the problem seriously. It comes down, fundamentally, to the problems of education and economic development.
I was very gratified indeed to find that the Minister did not separate the two, and said that education must mean much more than mere book education. The fears concerning a purely theoretical and European civilisation for the natives of various countries are not only inappropriate but only provoke dissatisfaction and complicate the problem rather than help to achieve the end of giving these peoples a better and more abundant life. I was pleased to hear that there is appreciation of the part that the trade union movement and the co-operative movement are to play. I am interested in both, because I am convinced that if we try to dump prosperity, as it were, upon native peoples we shall make a mistake. You 116 value a thing when you win it by your own efforts, and in your efforts and struggles you are helped by the assurance that someone who knows more about it than you, is there always willing to assist and guide, and not to hinder and to fetter. I hope that attitude will be maintained, so that we shall get a far greater sense of fellowship and co-operation.
The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) did quite well in reminding us of one aspect of this problem that we shall be judged in our relationship with our native peoples by the measure of the progress made in other countries. The Soviet Republic took over quite a number of people who were buried in the heart of Asia, relatively primitive people with primitive culture, many without a written alphabet and with only a sound language. The amazing thing is that there are whole armies of those people to-day fighting our common enemy on the Eastern Front, and they are there because there has been such a rise in their standards. They have had opened to them the whole resources of Russian civilisation, and there has been an almost miraculous development in a relatively short space of time, as history goes. It has been done without undue interference. I believe the same would be true of our own Colonies. There would be no worry about affiliation to the Motherland, if they had that sense that their life had been encouraged and developed and their standard of living had gone up, so that they were conscious of it in their own experience. I believe this could be achieved if the Colonial Office set about it and made this its main contribution towards consolidating the Empire. I believe it is far more important than the political aspect of the question. That would follow and I believe would come naturally, especially if there was a sense, a deep conviction, that we were not still trying to hold the apron strings and control their economic and social life.
I believe the most effective method of achieving this is by putting it up to them to develop their own industries along cooperative lines so that they have no consciousness of being exploited. The problem of the money-lender could be solved if the Colonial administration facilitated co-operative finance societies and retail distributive societies. It is very interesting that, even during the war, 117 people in the heart of China, to which their Government has been driven, in some sense are dealing with a problem parallel to our own Colonial problem. The situation has been largely saved and China has been able to carry on with a mere driblet of supplies from the Western world, largely because they have developed a vast system of industrial cooperatives. There are 10,000,000 members of their industrial co-operatives, who are producing all kinds of things, and the Government is helping them with services. It has provided them with the commodities to raise their standard of life and enable them to carry on the war. I believe that what has been demonstrated there and also under the Soviet regime in other parts of Asia could be carried out throughout the world if there was an intelligent and definite decision that every effort on he part of these people by cooperation to raise their standard of living should be encouraged.
I believe that in the present Colonial Secretary we have a man who has a vision of the possibilities and has the resolute will to see that it comes to pass. That is why I hope he will long hold his office and that his policy will be endorsed by the Committee, as I am certain that it will receive the approval of the whole country. Nothing could do more to convince the world that we have finished with the exploitation of native labour and resources, that the old Imperialism is dead and that the new notion of the community of nations is a real thing which animates our country and our people.
§ Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward (Kingston-upon-Hull, North West)
I am sure the Committee owes a very deep debt of gratitude to the usual channels for having arranged this Debate, the interest in which is shown by the very large number who wish to take part in it, and we owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Colonial Secretary for his very comprehensive speech. The Debate has ranged widely over the highest Colonial and Empire policy and the future of education in the Colonies. I wish to raise one or two rather narrow and definite points. If my remarks seem rather parochial after the wide issues that have been raised, my excuse is the extraordinary difficulty with which one is confronted when one attempts to obtain any information as to what is going on in the Colonies. The postal 118 services are not what they were. Letters come through very irregularly and, perhaps thanks to the efforts of the censor, contain very little information when they arrive. The point that I particularly wish to raise is the very unfortunate disturbances that took place in the Bahamas nearly 12 months ago. This instance illustrates more than anything else the difficulty one has been confronted with when one has attempted to obtain information. It must have been something like four months before a single whisper reached the public in this country that those disturbances had taken place. No doubt, the Government knew all about them but, as regards the general public, it was almost impossible to obtain any information and the letters one got gave very little information. It is only by asking questions of the Colonial Secretary that one can obtain any information on what actually took place. A report was published four months ago and I should like to know what is the right hon. Gentleman's attitude to the findings and recommendations of that Commission.
As so little apparently is known of these disturbances, a few words with regard to the actual background of what occurred may not be altogether out of place. It appears that a little time ago the Government of this country entered into an agreement with the United States to undertake a work of considerable importance in the island of New Providence. I do not know what the work actually is. It is of the most secret and "hush-hush" description and has only been referred to as Project X or something of that kind. Under the contract for the work, whatever it was, arrangements were made that local resources should provide the greater part of the labour required and the United States, which are standing in with this country and taking their share, had arranged to supply the balance of the labour force required. After a good deal of discussion and arbitration, it was arranged that the local labour should be paid 4s. a day. That does not seem much, but in view of the low wages current in the West Indies generally it was a rate with which they appeared to be satisfied at the time. Unfortunately, the labour brought in from the United States was paid more than double the rate of the local labour.
When two men are working side by side doing the same work and for the same 119 hours, and one earns 4s. a day and the other 8s. or 10s., it is not long before the man earning 4s. wants to know the reason for the difference, and in this case he asked some pertinent questions. Not receiving what he considered a satisfactory answer, he took the only remedy open to him and went on strike. For the first day or two the strike was fairly harmless and it largely took the form of demonstrations in the town of Nassau. Unfortunately, the strikers succeeded in getting hold of a considerable amount of alcoholic drink and things took a serious turn. I am far from being a teetotaller, but I know that the effect of alcohol even on white races is not always satisfactory, and the effect on native races is often disastrous, as it was in this case. A demonstration proceeded to go up and down the streets of Nassau breaking up the town generally. They were armed with heavy sticks and weapons that are used for cutting canes. The report states that the local Commissioner of Police was rather slow in taking action, but it seems to me that one can go farther back than that. There must be something wrong when this large amount of liquor was obtainable by these people just for the trouble of breaking down a door or smashing windows. In a place almost entirely occupied by natives it is a mistake that a large amount of liquor should be so easily available. I do not altogether agree with the report when it says that the Commissioner of Police was rather slow in taking action, because when it comes to a question of shooting, it is better to be too slow than too early. As the result shows, order was restored at the cost of six people killed and 12 or 14 wounded, most not very seriously. I cannot help feeling that the action which the Commissioner of Police took was fairly satisfactory. Had the authorities opened fire before it does not follow that order would have been restored any sooner, whereas the casualties might easily have been much higher.
The report makes three or four recommendations and I should like to ask my right hon. and gallant Friend what the Government's attitude is with regard to them and what action they intend to take. He will pardon my ignorance, if I ask him exactly what his powers are in this respect. It seems to me that all he can do is to put certain recommenda- 120 tions before the Governor, who then puts them before the Assembly. The Assembly then has the sole power of legislating in this respect. The first recommendation was that a labour advisory board should be instituted and that legislation dealing with trade unions and labour questions generally should be introduced with the idea of stimulating and encouraging collective bargaining between employers and employed. There is much in that recommendation which might be followed. Another recommendation of the Commission was that legislation should be introduced dealing with speculation in land in the Bahamas generally, and in the neighbourhood of Nassau and in New Providence in particular, there has been a huge amount of land speculation going on lately. I believe it is done almost entirely with American capital, but that does not mean we should take no steps in the direction of controlling it. I cannot help feeling that the Government should not sell any more land unless the sale is accompanied by an undertaking on the part of the purchaser that within a certain limited time money will be spent on the development or improvement of the land. On the Continent before the war that was the policy which had been adopted with considerable success in Belgium and Holland. For example, in the neighbourhood of any rising health resort in Belgium no land was sold without the proviso that it was to be either built upon or improved in some specific and definite way. Something on these lines might do a good deal towards remedying the amount of land speculation which has been going on in the Bahamas. Another recommendation was that in view of the rapid increase of the population instruction in birth control should be given. This is probably in advance of public opinion on the subject, but I should rather like to have my right hon. and gallant Friend's views on it.
§ Colonel Stanley
Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend has read the White Paper dealing with the recommendations and my views on them?
§ Sir A. Lambert Ward
I have read the report but not my right hon. Friend's views on the recommendation. Therefore, I must apologise for asking a question of that kind.
§ Dr. Morgan
Who is going to pay for the contraceptives? These people cannot even afford to pay for them.
§ Sir A. Lambert Ward
I suppose it would be done nationally. It is not my policy; I am only putting forward what the recommendations of the Commission are. Another recommendation is in regard to the voting in elections of the Assembly. I understand that voting is still open, which is rather an archaic form of electing a constitutional government. Does not my right hon. and gallant Friend think that voting by ballot, as is customary in most parts of the world, should be practiced there? The great undertaking which is being carried out by this country and United States has now been in progress for more than 12 months and it must be nearing completion. The question will soon arise what is to be done with the men who are displaced from the work. How are they to be found employment in the future? I suppose that those who were imported from the United States will be returned, but that will still leave 2,000 or more labourers in New Providence for whom new work will have to be found. Some of them originally came from the out islands. They will no doubt be encouraged to return, but whether they will be willing to go is an open question. Although they were not satisfied with 4s. a day working on this scheme it is twice what they are likely to get if they return to their homes.
I suggest that every effort should be made in these islands to develop the growth of sisal. Up to a few years ago it was grown extensively in the Bahamas. I am informed that there has been a considerable reduction in the output, so large in many cases that one might almost say that production has ceased. In view of the need for sisal in this country to make harvester twine, every encouragement ought to be given for cultivating that crop. I am aware that the sisal hitherto grown in the Bahamas was not of the first quality and could not compare with Manilla hemp or sisal produced in East Africa. It will be a good many years before we see any more Manilla hemp in this country, and I understand that the labour question in East Africa is such that the production there will not come up to the demand. It is essential that something on these lines should be done in the Bahamas. I am informed that there will be a serious shortage of harvester or binder twine even 122 at this harvest, and that in the harvest of next year the shortage will be still more acute. It is, therefore, for the Government to do all they can to see that something is produced which is vital to the harvesting of the crops of this country. It will be a sad state of affairs if next year we have magnificent crops and half the harvesting machinery is out of action through lack of binder twine. If it was shown that a crop of sisal would be likely to be remunerative we should see it being grown in large quantities in the Bahamas. A good deal of clearing will be required in the land before a crop can be planted, but that is just the work which the men who are displaced from the big undertaking in New Providence would be best suited to undertake.
With regard to the island of Jamaica, I understood the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that the new constitution will come into force in a short time. Is he convinced that the financial and economic position of the island is sufficiently good to give the constitution a fair chance? If the introduction of the constitution synchronises with a time of depression and bad economic conditions, a large number of people will blame the constitution for the trouble which the island is encountering. To give a constitution a fair chance, it ought only to be introduced in really good times; otherwise it will be blamed for anything which goes wrong. Another question with regard to Jamaica is what is being done with the surplus labour which they appear to have. Has it occurred to them that the island of Trinidad is really short of labour, that labour is badly wanted there? I ant aware that the distance is considerable, 1,200 or 1,400 miles by sea, and it is possible that transport facilities may not be available. At the same time the economic future of Jamaica is such that every effort should be made to absorb the surplus labour which undoubtedly exists in that island. The market for bananas and for sugar has fallen away ever since the war started. It is possible that the demand for bananas will increase after the war, but I very much doubt whether the sugar trade will ever attain the dimensions it had prior to the war. The Minister of Agriculture in this country says that practically the whole of the ration of ½ lb. of sugar per head can be provided by beet sugar grown here, and if that is so 123 the demand for West Indian sugar must decrease by an exactly similar amount, and are there any other places where West Indian sugar can be sold to advantage? I very much doubt it. America can grow all she wants in Hawaii, or in Porto Rico, to say nothing of the Philippines and Cuba, which they will probably draw upon before they draw upon our West Indian Colonies, but whatever they do in that respect one fact stands out a mile, and that is that if the policy of this country in developing industry here cripples, an old-established industry in one of the Crown Colonies, it is definitely the duty of this Government to organise alternative employment by means of which that Colony can live.
§ Sir George Schuster (Walsall)
I should like to take the discussion back to rather more general but, I hope, realistic lines. I think it is true to say that since my right hon. and gallant Friend was appointed Colonial Secretary there have been more Debates on Colonial matters than ever before in a like period. That is a very good sign, but I want to urge that there needs to be still more opportunities. It really is impossible to debate on a single day a subject which may touch the West Indies, or Ceylon, or Cyprus, or Palestine, or the Falkland Islands or Nigeria, or East Africa. You cannot properly handle even West and East Africa in the same Debate. The conditions in all these countries are so totally different. But I wish to select one aspect which is common to all, and that is the human aspect. I want to say a few words on that aspect, first in regard to the people of these territories which we administer, and secondly in regard to the officials who do the administration.
At to the first, let us always remember that our objective is the welfare of the people—and when I say "the people" I mean the common man and not so much the leaders whom my right hon. and gallant Friend distinguished from the led. Indeed I suggest that there should be no distinction and we should regard the whole people as one. If we make sure that the welfare of the people is our objective and if we interpret welfare in the highest sense, then let us go ahead conscious of our own lightness and not worry too much about what other people may say about us. The point that I then want to make is 124 that this welfare question needs fundamental study and more than the mere superficial expression of current ideas.
Economic development is very much in the air now. I speak as one who can claim to have had some practical experience of it, as I spent six years in the administration of an African territory and also had opportunities to travel on a Commission through most of our African Colonies. Economic development, I would urge, does require very careful handling. Schemes which suddenly transform conditions of life, even if the whole of their benefits goes to the native population, may do more harm than good unless they are properly ordered and unless the native population are prepared by education of the right kind to take advantage of them. When my right hon. and gallant Friend talks about education—and I am sure that he realises this—I want to urge that it should be conceived of not merely as teaching people to carry out certain processes which require skill, nor in terms of the art of government, but in terms of gaining a right conception for the conduct of one's life. I have seen many instances) where schemes, highly beneficial in a material sense, have been developed in territories like Africa and developed on terms which did secure the greater part of the material benefits to the inhabitants of the country, and yet they failed to do the good they ought to have done because the persons whose lives were materially improved had not been properly instructed in how to take advantage of their better material conditions.
My hon. Friend who spoke from behind me talked about the whole of the people of Lagos or indeed all Nigeria passing their lives in the hands of moneylenders. That is a condition with which I have been very familiar in India, and what he said illustrates a point which I think is worth putting to the Committee. It is no use improving the material conditions of people, it would be no use reducing rents in Lagos for example, it would be no use putting up the income of the people, unless they were given the right ideas of how to use that money, given an aim which would inspire them to lift themselves out of the rut of their dependence. If we improve the material conditions of people without doing that, they simply get into more debt. Their credit gets better, they can borrow more, and they do 125 borrow and are no better off. The essential truth is that improvement must be founded on a foundation of true education. An hon. Member opposite laughs, but I have seen this happen in many places in Africa and also in India.
§ Sir G. Schuster
The hon. Member may be familiar with cases in which people knew how to take advantage of their material conditions, but I do not think anyone in this Committee would differ from me if I urged that as a foundation for all real advance we must spread education of the right kind, education in what I may describe as the true values of life, which gives people an urge to improve their conditions in the right way.
As regards the proper lines for economic development, I am sure that my right hon. and gallant Friend and the staff in his Department have now a true appreciation of the conditions on which this has to be achieved, but as it has been debated to-day, particularly in relation to self-sufficiency, I should like to state some elementary principles which I believe to be important. In dealing with the countries which I have particularly in mind, the territories of Africa, we are dealing with people who are essentially cultivators of the land, and that is really true of all the territories that have come under our administration. The first thing we have to do if we want to improve their conditions is to enable them to develop a sound system of balanced subsistence agriculture. That must be the rock foundation for everything. Then they have the; necessaries of life secure, and if they are taught good methods of subsistence agriculture, in almost all cases they can improve their material conditions on that foundation. It is only as a second stage that they should then go on to the cultivation of money crops for export. Nothing can be a worse tragedy or a worse mistake than to introduce a money crop into a district and allow the whole population to become dependent upon it, and then for some change in world conditions to knock the bottom out of the market. Then they do not know where they are.
Thirdly, one may come to the stage where mining development comes in. I would urge that when that sort of thing 126 happens we need to have looking after the public interest side men of wide vision who have the courage to stand up if necessary against the commercial interests of those who want to bring about the mining development. I suggest that never again should things be allowed to happen such as happened in the course of the development of the great copper mining areas of Northern Rhodesia. It may be necessary to create these enormous industries—I suppose that in the interests of the world that may at least be defended as necessary—but before allowing it to grow to its full extent for Heaven's sake think of the psychological effects on the natives who are being brought in as labourers. Do not allow them to get into the condition of being entirely separated from agriculture as the foundation of their lives. Fourthly, there may, of course, come the stage of the development of secondary industries.
Those are the main phases of development and most of our Colonial territories could probably look forward to a programme of that kind. The point I want to put is that if such a programme is to unfold in a way which will be really beneficial, it must be seen ahead as a whole, and it must be handled with vision and generosity from the outset. It may be necessary in the earliest stages to undertake work which will bring no immediate economic return to the Government. The country must be carried through those stages. You must have the vision of a plan as a whole. You cannot carry out Colonial development in penny packets. I have seen something of that, because I was for some time chairman of the East African Loan Committee, and I was also a member of the Colonial Loans Committee. In those days money was restricted and the proposals which used to come up were almost always little schemes unrelated to one another—hardly ever a concerted plan for some big development programme. I hope very much it is going to be better now, with the resources of the Colonial Development Fund behind such a policy. But I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he will find that he needs a great deal more money even than the more generous amount now provided for.
Now I should like to turn to the second aspect of the human element, our men who administer these territories. Everything depends upon their quality. We may have good intentions in this House, 127 but we cannot run those countries. We may devise good systems, but they will not work well unless the men are good. Looking back over our Colonial history, we see how much has depended upon the accident of individual men, men like Lugard in Uganda and then in Nigeria, men like Cromer, who started the whole conception and spirit of the Sudan Civil Service, or men like the Scottish missionaries in the early days of Nyasaland. Such men have influenced our whole Colonial history. And one could quote other examples where the influence of individual men has operated in a contrary direction. I put it to my right hon. Friend that this whole question of the staffing of our administrative services in these countries deserves very serious study and I was delighted to hear from his speech to-day that that is one of the main questions on which he is now engaged. I recognise that an enormous amount has been done in the last 10 or 15 years to improve conditions of service and therefore to recruit a much better type of man. I have little doubt that we shall reap the fruits of that very soon in the higher appointments.
But it is more than a mere question of selection of men at the beginning of their careers. We have to see that throughout their careers they are able to maintain their mental alertness and their spirit of adventure. In saying what I have to say now, I want particularly to guard against any idea that I am criticising the men in the services in those territories, because they are as a whole a magnificent lot of men, for whom I have great admiration. But it is true that the conditions in which they serve tend to demoralise them in certain ways. There is first the demoralisation of a secure bureaucratic career. This may happen to all bureaucrats, but in the Home Civil Service there is always the chance that a Parliamentary question suddenly appears on a file and then everybody wakes up. But that sort of thing does not happen in the Colonies. Secondly, there is the demoralisation of life in the rut of a small community, which has strange effects upon men's minds. Thirdly, there is the demoralisation of climate and the separation from home and normal family life. Fourthly, there is the demoralisation of official power. Here, if I go out into the street any day I can probably see 128 perhaps my right hon. and gallant Friend or some other Minister running in the rain to catch a bus; but you would not see a high Colonial official on service doing that sort of thing.
Lastly, there is the demoralisation of pension mindedness—the idea of retiring in the early 50's. I want my right hon. and gallant Friend to do everything he can to keep mental alertness going during the lives of these men. I want him to consider what can be done in that direction. Doubtless it will do good to bring such people as he mentioned out from the universities to help in the education of the Colonies. That will provide for exchange of ideas. It will be a good thing too to bring men out to the Colonies who have had experience of trade union administration; but on that point I hope it may be possible to have the process worked in the reverse direction also, and some of our Colonial administrators being sent back to get experience in the administration of trade unions at home. With the development of air transport it will be easier to get people home from the Colonies than it formerly was, and a good deal can no doubt be done in that direction. Then I would like to suggest that at some stage in a man's career in the Colonial service—and not too late—he should be given an opportunity to have a sort of sabbatical year when he can go round and broaden his mind by seeing people, sharpening his brain against men trained in other work or who have had other experience.
I feel sure that this sort of thing is necessary. These men are having put upon them different problems in these days. It was all very well in the early days, when we were dealing mainly with primitive peoples and when British officials could be the fathers of their people, treated with affection and respect, which they felt too in return. The young British district officer is very good at that kind of thing. But now we are passing into a much more sophisticated time when we have to deal with problems of economic development, industrialisation and political partnership. Our relations with the peoples of the various countries are becoming much more difficult, and they require a different skill and mental attitude in our administrators. But that is the other side of the matter and what I want to urge now is the case of our men 129 themselves. These young men of ours are fine material. When they go into the Colonial Service they are our trust. We owe them more than just to give them security and a few minor decorations. I have seen men of priceless quality, capable of great adventure, gradually settling down to humdrum lives, contented with humdrum ideas—
§ Sir G. Schuster
I want to see that such men do not lose their mental alertness, but grow in strength to give inspiration to our Colonial policy. And it is really from them and not from this House that the true inspiration and development for the best methods in our Colonies can come. I fully recognise all the practical difficulties of what I am suggesting to my right hon. and gallant Friend, but I beg of him to give his thought to this matter and make this improvement one of the great marks that his career will place upon the history of our Colonial administration. I want him to give his full attention to this splendid lot of young Britishers who go out to the Colonies, to help them not to shrink into small bureaucrats but grow according to their full capacity into leaders who, when they come home in their 50's, can play a valuable part as leaders in our life at home. If my right hon. and gallant Friend does that, he will have rendered a great service, not only to Colonial administration, but to his fellow men.
Mr, Rilcy (Dewsbury)
I should like to make one comment upon the speech which has just been delivered and to say that 1 fully agree with the importance of every care being taken to train and to select the very best type of official for our Colonial policy and work; but I should have liked much better what the hon. Gentleman had to say if he had coupled with that appeal to the Minister a further appeal that equally great care should be taken in the Colonial Office to discover native ability in the Colonies, train it to face its own problems, and more and more to place local responsibility in the hands of the people native to each particular Colony. I frankly acknowledge that the Minister has hi mind turned in that direction and that he has already announced that some developments are taking place and some appointments have recently been made. None the less, it remains the fact that, dividing that figure to which the Minister 130 referred in his opening speech of, I think it was, 250,000 officials in the Colonial Empire, of whom only 5,000 were white Europeans, it works out at 100 white officials on the average to 50 separate territories, large and small. Some of them, of course, are very small. It seems to me to be a very disproportionate number of white officials, in view of the fact that many of these Colonies, particularly in the West Indies, have been under our direction for 300 years—Jamaica for nearly 300 and Barbados for just over 300—and some African territories for 150 or 200 years.
§ Colonel Stanley
Surely my hon. Friend is not suggesting that the whole of our present Colonial territory in Africa has been in our possession for 150 or 200 years?
§ Mr. Riley
I said some. There is the case of Sierra Leone, which goes back into the 18th century. Nigeria goes back, I think, to 1861, which is getting on for 100 years. I have risen for the purpose of making one or two remarks about what I regard as dark patches in the picture painted in the White Paper on the subject of labour supervision in the Colonies. I quite agree that this record here is a very admirable one for the past six years; I do not question that for one moment. It is very encouraging to realise that, after very long neglect—I know it may have been unconscious neglect—on the part of the Government, but neglect none the less, in earlier years. The outbreak of disturbances in some of our Colonies gave us a shock, and we decided that something had to be done, and so the Colonial Secretary can to-day present us with this Report, which is a very glowing picture, that within something like six years, 1937-1943, practically 300 separate trade unions have been established in our 45 separate territories, that we have Advisory Labour Boards and Labour Advisers in practically all our Colonies at the present time, that disputes are constantly being settled by Colonial Conciliation Officers, and that altogether there are 150 of them employed in that kind of thing to-day where there were not half-a-dozen employed ten years ago.
All that is to the good, but, having said that, I want to draw the attention of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to what seem to me to be some of the black spots which still mar our handling of labour in 131 our Colonial territories. For instance, reference has been made several times today in the course of the Debate as to the rates of wages which obtain, particularly in many of our African Colonies. Those rates of wages have been deplored by Conservative Members on the other side, but the examples given, such as 12s. a week for a labourer in Lagos compared with £3 in this country, are not to be compared with the rates of wages paid to labourers in Kenya and Rhodesia working under compulsory ordinances. I want for a moment to deal with this and to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he will give some attention to these black patches and see what can be done. In 1930, in common with most other countries, we ratified the Forced Labour Convention of the I.L.O. of the League of Nations. On page 22 of this White Paper Members will find the statement:The Forced Labour Convention has been applied in its entirety to every single British Colonial Dependency.But in the same paragraph, in the second sentence, there are these words:In only eight territories is forced or compulsory labour, as defined by the Convention, still permitted by law, and each of these territories renders a special report on the subject to the I.L.O. each year.Those two sentences which occur in the same paragraph, would appear to be in flat contradiction. We are told that we have applied the Convention in its entirety to our dependencies, and then we say that there are eight exceptions. I know that the Minister goes on in the report to explain what is meant.
I want to submit to the Minister that while he is probably strictly correct as regards the letter of the Convention, he has not interpreted the spirit, and it is there, I think, that the mistake is made. For instance, what the Convention says in Article 2 (d) is:It is permissible to conscript forced labour for any work in cases of emergency, including war, floods, famine, earthquakes, invasion and in circumstances which would endanger the existence and well being of the population.One can quite understand that in war it would be plausible to argue that this is a justification. We have applied forced labour regulations and are operating them or were in the case of North Borneo, which is out of our jurisdiction now, the 132 rest being in Africa, four in the East of Africa and the rest in the West. It may be said, "What is the quarrel about forced labour? Are not we all subject to it in this country now?" It is quite a natural thing to say, and it is literally true, but any reflection will make it quite clear that the position of the ordinary common mass of labourers in East or West African Colonies in being put under forced labour is quite a different thing from the force applied to men in this country, who can turn out the Government of this country if they want to do so, who elect the Government, who have the vote. In these seven cases not one has the power to influence the Government in any shape or form. Those affected are not directly represented; though they may have some indirect representation they are represented by white men, not by men of their own race. On that ground I say it is rather specious to argue, as is done in the White Paper, that the application of forced labour regulations is quite legitimate.
For instance while in Article 2 of the Convention it is said that in the emergencies I have described—war, famine and so on—some compulsion may be allowed, Article 4 says:But under no circumstances can forced labour be allowed for private employers for companies or for associations.I should like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to make it quite clear as to whether the forced labour in Kenya and in Northern Rhodesia is made available to private farmers or to private companies and is used by them to make such profits as they can—they may not be excessive—or is a regulation laid down limiting the profits of these employers because of the privilege they get under the terms of the forced labour regulations? Those are the main points which I would like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to answer.
Just for a moment, because I think it is material, I submit that even in this country, while we acquiesce in forced labour at present, it is for war work, it is for the nation, it is for the war and the people, and our employers have to give back the surplus profit in E.P.T. But what is the position in these African Colonies? Does that apply to the farmers and the planters there, or are their profits unregulated? That is very important. 133 The hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), in his lively speech, referred to what he regarded as being the fact that there was no kind of colour bar in Rhodesia and in Kenya. What are the facts? The men working in Kenya today, under these forced labour regulations, are working for a wage of 7d. per day, of which only 3½d. is cash, the other 3½d. being for their two pounds of maize and some other food and lodging accommodation. That is the decision of the Committee which was set up to inquire into the application of the Regulations. This is the second time that forced labour has been imposed on large numbers of labourers in East Africa. It was applied last year, and withdrawn because famine was developing in the native reserves, and they had to go back. When it was imposed a second time a Committee was appointed.
I want hon. Members to realise how that Committee was composed. The Committee included the Rev. Archdeacon W. E. Owing, who has always been a champion of native interests, and there were a number of other officials. The Committee heard 23 witnesses in order to establish the justification to impose forced labour again on these natives. Of the 23 witnesses only one was an African, and he was a Government official; the other 22 all represented white interests— business men. How can anyone say that there is anything like fair play? It was this Committee which imposed this wage of 7d. per day, of which 3£d. is in cash. Archdeacon Owing, who has always been fighting for a higher standard for African workers, protested, and used all his influence against it, but he was beaten; and Africans who were privately consulted said that it was not enough. I want the Secretary of State to take these facts into consideration, to see whether something cannot be done, so that on the next occasion he has to deal with the Estimates he will be able to give us some account of the steps which have been taken to remedy these black spots in our African Colonies.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish (Lewes)
I shall leave the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) to be dealt with by the Colonial Secretary. I shall try to be as practical as possible, and to be brief, so as to leave some time for other hon. Members who have some- 134 thing to say. My own experience of the African Colonies, in particular, goes back rather a long time. On the West Coast of Africa, it goes back to the days of human sacrifice, which I witnessed, and mutilations for punishment; and on the East Coast of Africa, to the days before the railway was built, or even surveyed, to slave raiding, slave trading by sea, and a great many other things of which humanity should be ashamed. When I look at the progress which has been made, in general, in the Colonial possessions, I feel, with those earlier experiences in mind a considerable measure of pride at what has been achieved. At the same time, I realise that there are grave shortcomings. I do not know that I ever witnessed anything sadder than civilisation improperly applied to native populations, without education, without work, without agricultural pursuits, and so forth. That matter has already been referred to by more than one hon. Member.
Before I come to my main point, I want to ask the Colonial Secretary to let us know a little about what is going on in the Hadramaut, in the Aden Protectorate, which is now under the Colonial Office, and where, if I may presume to mention it to the Committee, one of the most magnificent achievements that you could find anywhere in our own or anyone else's annals has been accomplished by British officials. In that area, with a very big population of 400,000 or 500,000 people, which had been, so to speak, at war for a thousand years or more, something very like peace was produced by British officials. Whether it lasts to-day I do not know, but it was a wonderful achievement, of which we should all be proud.
Economic contentment is unquestionably the road to progress, and I want to draw special attention to one aspect of economic development in our possessions. I refer to the fresh-water fisheries, particularly in the African lakes. It is very hard in making a speech of this kind not to appear to be giving information of which everybody is already aware, and I apologise. The African lakes are immense in area: the third largest is 350 miles long and 50 miles wide; and every one of them is full of fish. They are fished by Stone Age methods, with primitive nets and dugout canoes. Very large 135 populations which exist at no great distance from them are denied the fish that swarm in the lakes. There is great necessity to develop those fisheries. I will not mention the names of all those lakes, because everybody already knows them, but the development of the fresh-water fisheries is a foundation upon which we can build contentment and a great advance in the food supply of the native population. In all these lakes with the single exception perhaps of Lake Rudolph, which is gradually shrinking and has in the last 1,000 years shrunk in depth by 1,500 feet, very careful surveys have been carried out by British officials and others during the last 15 years. In paying a humble and genuine tribute to the women who have taken part in this service for their great skill, I shall only be doing the right thing.
I return to the question of fish as an article of food. There is an admirable report which we owe to the enlightenment of a Minister of the late Labour Government, on the nutrition of the native peoples of the Empire. It shows how much still remains to be done to improve that nutrition. Everybody agrees that fish is almost the perfect food. In regard to the lakes about which I am now speaking, there are one or two major problems which are by no means insoluble. Enterprise and money most certainly could solve them all. I am not going to bother myself or the Committee on the subject of money, because I am sure that, if we want to spend the money, we can find it. If we want to do the right thing by the natives of Africa in the vicinity of these lakes, money can be found. I will give an example of the sort of problem, to which I refer. The same problem exists in regard to nearly all the lakes. For one reason or another, the levels of the lakes vary and the result of the alteration of level by some four, five or six feet is disastrous for people who live round the lakes. It causes the flooding of very large areas of excellent agricultural land, and when the water subsides, great difficulties are put in the way of people who wish to fish. Therefore it is advisable to do something to retain the level of the water at such a height that it will not only not interfere with agricultural pursuits but will also help the fisheries.
136 There is one point which has struck me very forcibly in looking into this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster), spoke of the copper mines and of the disastrous effect of not allowing the natives to go on with their agriculture but causing them to be kept at work in a copper mine to their everlasting detriment. But that is not the only place where there are large numbers of natives. There are other places, gold-bearing districts and so on, and a large population of natives who live up in the hills are very fond of fish. The people who work in copper mines and the gold bearing districts are in need of extra food, because of the heavy work they do, which is not natural to the African native. Every one will agree that food of the fish type is essential. The natives, in general, live on vegetable products but particularly on mealies and millet and that is not enough for men to work on who are doing heavy work in copper mines or any other kind of mine. A lot of work has to be done but I only remind the Committee that transport boats and gear can easily be arranged. May I remind the Committee of what appears in these admirable reports. The supply of fish of from one to three feet long, is practically inexhaustible and not even a beginning has been made to catch these fish, to cure and to market them. We have the advantage in this country of a little known association to which I would like to draw the attention of the Colonial Secretary—the Fresh Water Biological Association of the British Empire. It has done admirable work. It has done some work for the Government and it could do a very great deal more. It has as its head a gentleman who has drawn up no less than three admirable reports on the fisheries of African lakes and it is waiting to carry out the type of work and give advice on the subject of which I speak. Everything is to hand—money and men—to investigate and to control. The fish, the fishers and the demand are all ready for a great imperial task from which millions would benefit.
§ Mr. William Brown (Rugby)
I propose to limit myself to five minutes and to devote myself exclusively to one phase of the Minister's speech, in which he spoke of the public service, white and native, in the Colonial possessions. I was gratified to hear that the Colonial Office intend increasingly to associate the native 137 populations with the public services of the Colonies and that the Minister saw no difficulty in associating much greater numbers as the various programmes that he mentioned unfold themselves. In my judgment, he has to do more than increase the number of native public officials. He has to minimise, and, I hope, ultimately abolish, the appalling gap between the conditions of the native civil servant and the civil servant who is sent out from this country, which is a prolific source of ill-feeling in the Colonies. I want to illustrate it by a reference to one Colony— the Colony of Malta. I choose Malta for three reasons. The first is that I know it best, the second is that it is the case where the Government are the largest employers on the whole island and therefore in a position to determine wage scales, and the third is that it is a case which, I hope, will excite the sympathy of this Committee. The Government have often paid tribute to the magnificent heroism of the Maltese during this war but so far have confined their gratitude to the giving of medals.
§ Mr. Brown
£10,000,000 for reconstruction—a very cheap investment from out point of view. I tried to urge at Question time the other day that much more satisfaction would be caused in Malta by the better treatment of Maltese civil servants than would be caused by any number of verbal testimonies to their courage and heroism in this war. In Malta there are Maltese employed, directly under the Maltese Governor, under the War Office, in the immense dockyard establishment and under the Air Ministry. In three of these cases—and I think in the fourth though I am not quite sure— civil servants sent from England work side by side with the Maltese. I had better explain that between the Maltese civil servant and the English civil servant there is no such educational gap as may exist between the coloured population and the white in many of the Colonies. Malta is a grossly overcrowded island. It is a Catholic country which does not practise birth control and the pressure of population is very great. The result of that is that the degree of selection for appointments to a Government office in Malta is very high. In order to get appointed as a Maltese in a Government office to the clerical grades you are almost 138 required to possess a university education. Many Maltese are bilingual, many are trilingual and quite a large number are quadrilingual, and their standard of education, considered from an academic point of view, is often much higher than the educational standard of the white civil servant who goes out for his three, four, five or six years. In spite of that educational equation, so to speak, between the two types the fact is that the Maltese civil servant is, on the average, paid about half what his English colleague is paid.
This differentiation of pay is reflected in other things. The Minister may say that the civil servant who is sent away from England is living away from home, and that it true. It is also true that the English civil servant sent out to Malta gets a special Colonial allowance. I am not arguing whether that is large enough or not; I disregard the Colonial allowance and confine myself to the officer's basic wage. Some time ago, when Malta became a little too hot for the Navy for the time being, large parts of the Navy moved to Alexandria. It became necessary to shift the shore establishment and both Maltese and English civil servants were sent from Malta to Alexandria. Would it be believed that the Maltese civil servant—who with the English civil servant was thus away from home and required accommodation in Egypt—received only half the subsistence allowance the Englishman received? That sort of differentiation is a prolific breeding-ground of resentment and is unjustified treatment of the native population of Malta. If any country has reason to be grateful for the loyalty and courage and steadfastness of Malta, it is this country; we owe a debt of gratitude to the Maltese people and the very least return we can make, to put it on no other ground, is to sweep away these indefensible anomalies.
I often quarrel with Government Departments about rates of pay of civil servants and very often I am told that they cannot, in this country, "go far ahead of the band." They say, "We want to be in the front rank of employers but we cannot get too far ahead." In Malta you have a case where the action of the British Government, and the British Government alone, determines the level of wages on that island. The British Government is the largest single employer in the 139 whole of Malta and is not in the position of having to trail along behind the standards set up by larger employers of labour in outside industry. The Government is in a position to determine, of itself, the character and standard of wages prevailing in the island. What I have said about Malta applies, as we know, in Trin-comalee, in South Africa, in Palestine, and in the West Indies, where I saw for myself, in Bermuda, this grotesque differentiation between native and white rates of pay. I beg the Colonial Secretary to put the matter right; I know he has a good heart and I believe he wants to do the right thing. It will not be enough to increase the numbers of civil servants. This sense of inferiority and injustice among those who are called upon to do the same sort of work at a very much lower rate of remuneration, will have to be removed.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I will be as brief as possible and I would like before making my few remarks to say how much I welcome the proposals for educational development which were set out by the Minister to-day. I hope we shall see them bearing fruit within a very short time. The main point I want to raise, however, concerns the so-called Parliamentary Committee which many Members suggest might be set up especially to deal with Colonial affairs. The question was raised in June, 1939, when the late Prime Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, said he hoped it would be possible to do something about it, but that he needed some time for Government consideration. On 15th April this year the Colonial Secretary definitely opposed the suggestion on certain grounds. The first, I gathered, was that it would be a confession of failure on the part of the House of Commons if such a Committee were established. Does the Minister consider it a confession of failure on the part of this House that it has a Select Committee on Public Accounts or on Estimates? I think we are all agreed that both these Committees serve a very useful purpose. It would be a strange thing if the Chancellor of the Exchequer came here and advocated the abolition of those Committees on the ground that their existence was a confession of failure and that all their work should be done on the Floor of this House. I come to the second reason the Minister gave. He said the proposal 140 would limit discussion of Colonial affairs to members of such a Committee. I submit that that is casting a reflection on the exercise of his duties and powers by the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House whose duty it is to select speakers. It is casting an aspersion on the Chairman by suggesting that he would call only a limited number of Members.
§ Colonel Stanley
The hon. Member's suggestion is that Colonial affairs shall not be discussed in this Committee but in the Joint Committee; only Members of such a Committee would have an opportunity of discussing Colonial affairs.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Far from that. I am suggesting—and others have suggested— that this Committee should discuss matters itself but that will not prevent Debates from taking place in this House any more than the Select Committee prevents Debates on finance from taking place. Just as other Members, beside those who are members of the Forestry Commission, take part in Forestry Debates, so Members other than those on the suggested Committee could, and would, take part in discussions on Colonial affairs when they came before the House.
The third reason the Minister gave is that the Select Committee on Estimates discusses details on which no political division occurs. It is just because we want to discuss details that we would like a Committee such as this to be set up. Details cannot possibly be discussed in the few Debates that take place on the Floor of the House. I have not time to go into the variety of details except to mention the difference between discussing the affairs of a West Indian student and those of a Borneo head-hunter, both of whom come under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office and the affairs of both of whom must be discussed from time to time. I suggest that no man in the Colonial Office has seen every one of our Colonies; in fact, I doubt whether any one has seen half our Colonies. We all know the good work that the Colonial Office administrators do. It is exceedingly fine work and I would like to pay my tribute to them. But I think there is a lack of supervision at the top. No one man, even the Secretary of State himself, with all his abilities, can possibly supervise the enormous variety of work which is entailed.
I have looked up the OFFICICAL REPORT, and I find that there has been a great 141 increase in the number of Parliamentary Questions dealing with Colonies. During the year ended February, 1933, there were 265; in the year ended February, 1943, there were 527, showing the great and increasing interest which this House is taking in Colonial matters. But in spite of that, during last year Ceylon was only mentioned as far as the index is concerned 10 times, the Gold Coast nine times, the Gambia three times, Fiji once and Somaliland not at all. Yet each of these Colonies has problems which to its population are of great importance and over which it is necessary for us to exercise what supervision we can. I would refer also to the situation before the Japanese entered Malaya. I think most people will agree that all was not well, to put it mildly, in the administration of Malaya, and yet from November, 1940, to November, 1941, Malaya was only mentioned 10 times and as far as I can see Hong Kong and the Solomon Islands, both of which have played a very important part in the war, were only mentioned once. I submit that this proves the need for a Committee which could go into details in a way that the House cannot possibly do. The alternative suggested by the right hon. Gentleman is to wait for some improvement. In the speech to which I have already referred the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said:After the war…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 arid that it will be possible to provide material upon which a proper discussion can be conducted."— [Official Report, 15th April, 1943; col. 1490, Vol. 388.]It has not been found possible all these years. How can it be found possible now? If the right hon. Gentleman turns down the suggestion of a Committee he should make a concrete alternative suggestion and not a vague reference to some improvement which may take place after the war. Members of all parties demand action. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take note of this demand and will act upon it as soon as possible.
§ Colonel Stanley
I think everyone will agree that we have had an interesting Debate, sustained at a high level and certainly more fully attended than many previous Colonial Debates. I have already trespassed long on the time of the 142 Committee, and I want to confine my reply, as far as is consistent with courtesy, to the main points that have been raised. May I deal first of all with one broad point which was raised in different forms in a number of speeches? That is the question of international co-operation and consultation after the war in our Colonial administration. The Prime Minister, in answer to a Question on 17th March, stated that, while His Majesty's Government were convinced that the administration of the British Colonies must continue to be the sole responsibility of Great Britain, the policy of His Majesty's Government was to work in close cooperation with neighbouring and friendly nations. We realise that under present circumstances such co-operation is not only desirable but it is indeed essential.
Developments of modern, transport and modern communications have brought close together vast areas which before were widely separated. Many of their problems to-day are common problems and can only be solved in co-operation, for problems of security, of transport, of economics, of health, etc., transcend the boundaries of political units. His Majesty's Government would therefore welcome the establishment of machinery which will enable such problems to be discussed and to be solved by common efforts. What they have in mind is the possibility of establishing Commissions for certain regions. These Commissions would comprise not only the States with Colonial Territories in the region, but also other States which have in the region a major strategic or economic interest. While each State would remain responsible for the administration of its own territory, such a Commission would provide effective and permanent machinery for consultation and collaboration so that the States concerned might work together to promote the well-being of the Colonial territories. An important consideration in designing the machinery of each Commission will be to give to the people of the Colonial territories in the region an opportunity to be associated with its work.
In this way it would be possible to have international co-operation which consisted of something more than theoretical discussion but would be able to grapple with realities and get down to the solution of individual problems.
§ Sir E. Grigg
My right hon. and gallant Friend has made an announcement of great importance. Can he say in what regions those Commissions are to be set up?
§ Colonel Stanley
I cannot particularise too much at the moment. I think the character of the regions which will be set up is pretty obvious, but I would not like to commit myself at the moment to the particular regions. This is only what the Government have in mind. The Commissions can only be set up as the result of consultation and agreement with other countries, especially our own Dominions, and the machinery can only be settled by discussions.
§ Dr. Morgan
Is it not a mistake to make an important statement of policy at the end of the Debate under these conditions?
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
In what way is it proposed to associate the natives with these Commissions—by co-option or election?
§ Colonel Stanley
That is a matter of development. In each territory, no doubt, the associations will be different. As they move towards greater and greater degrees of self-government it will be by election. You cannot generalise even for 50 of our own Colonies, and the Colonial territories of other Powers will be associated, I hope, with the regional Commissions.
§ Colonel Stanley
I will not follow the hon. Member into his extremely mixed metaphors. I will not adumbrate an embryo. The Committee displayed great interest in this question, and I am telling them the general lines on which the Government would like to see this kind of international co-operation worked out. The particular details must depend not only on us but on the other nations which will take part in Commissions of this kind.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
Is this a statement of policy approved by the 144 Cabinet, or has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman made it on his own responsibility?
§ Colonel Stanley
That is a question that is never asked. There is common responsibility for action. I can only state that I am not making this statement inadvisedly.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
This is a very important pronouncement. Will the House have an opportunity of discussing some of the fundamental changes which will be necessary before this policy is brought into operation?
§ Colonel Stanley
There are no fundamental changes. We retain complete control of our administration. What we have in mind is merely the development of the idea which led to the Anglo-United States-Caribbean Commission. It is extending and developing the sort of idea which gave rise to that.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman talks about international co-operation in the kind of council he is visualising, is it a council which will exercise supervision over these areas, or will it function merely on the initiative of one or other of the nations or peoples which form part of it? What is in the mind of the Government as to the responsibilities that such a council will exercise?
§ Colonel Stanley
It will be for co-operation and collaboration. One hopes that it will be a permanent machinery in which all the common problems of an area can be discussed from time to time. There would not be a question of calling it into being for purely ad hoc purposes.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Will it be possible for a statement to be prepared or a memorandum or White Paper to be issued, because it is an announcement of considerable importance? We welcome it enormously.
§ Colonel Stanley
I have already made a long speech, and I did not propose to raise this matter, but nearly every hon. Member 145 has during the Debate referred to it, and B wanted to let the Committee know the general lines upon which we propose to go. The Prime Minister and I have made statements that we would welcome international co-operation, and I wanted to show the general lines upon which we should like to see it develop. Details, of course, must await not only our decisions but any response and ideas of other nations on a question of this kind.
I will pass to answer some of the other questions which have been raised during the Debate. The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) raised the question of the present food situation in East Africa. It is a matter in which he has taken a great deal of interest and which has given us in the past a great deal of anxiety. The present situation is that, although the rains have been in some districts late, they are developing fairly satisfactorily. Not until the end of August shall we know for certain whether they are sufficiently good for the harvest to meet the general requirements of East Africa as a whole. Meanwhile, we have given every assistance we can in the purchase of alternative foodstuffs, and if the situation at the end of August proves to be less satisfactory than we hope, we shall be prepared to give the same help in future.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) referred to the position of British Guiana. I think on the whole that the views of the "Economist" as to the future prospects of the territory, which he said were the more optimistic, represent our hope rather than the more pessimistic views of various interests in the territory itself. We have before us a considerable number of large-scale proposals for the development of British Guiana under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. Some of them have already been approved, and others are being considered. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall do all we can to help in the development of that Colony. It has suffered particularly in the past few months owing to climatic conditions, which have had a considerable effect on the food production. Future prospects are, I am glad to say, improving.
My hon. Friend the Member for Altrin-cham (Sir E. Grigg), who always speaks with a very real enthusiasm for and a real love of the Empire and a desire to 146 see its future development, raised a number of important points with regard particularly to the future of Africa. I realise just as much as he does the great importance of associating the Dominions with ourselves in the consideration, not of the day-to-day administration, but of those major matters of social and economic development and policy as a whole, and of consulting them and hearing their experience, because they also, like us, administer Colonial territory. With regard to the particular questions he asked one of the most important ways in which to associate the Dominions with us in this development is to encourage as much as we possibly can the opportunities of people from the Dominions to find places in the Colonial service. As the hon. Member knows, in the last few years that has been largely developed, and we were up to the war drawing an increasing number from the various Dominions.
The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) made an interesting statement as a result of his visit to West Africa on his return from the Middle East. I am hoping that he will continue to display in Colonial administration the interest which his visit has fostered. I will answer some of the detailed questions he asked. I will not follow him in the interesting discussion between orthodox and promiscuous polygamy, on which, I must confess, I cannot speak with any authority. With regard to the question of children and the necessity of probation officers, I am glad to say that a probation officer has been obtained for Nigeria. In other parts of the Colonial Empire we have found great difficulty in getting trained officers. It will interest the hon. Member to know that Mr. Alexander Patterson, of the Home Office, who is so well known to everybody who has taken an interest in this matter, is on a visit to West Africa in order to advise upon the system of probation, on the treatment of juvenile delinquency, and on the whole question of juvenile welfare.
He called attention to the high rents which now obtain in Lagos. It is, of course, part of the result of labour coming in to perform functions related to the war, but I quite agree that steps will have to be taken, when conditions permit, to produce a rent which does not take such a very substantial, too great, a share of a man's income. One of the best
147 ways would be some method of slum clearance, some provision of better housing, which, I have no doubt, will form one of the items in Nigeria's post-war plans which they are considering in order to make the necessary submissions for assistance under the Development and Welfare Act.
I interrupted the hon. Member for Altrincham to correct an impression I had given by something I said on the question of higher education in West Africa, and I should like to explain that the intention of the Commission is to assist education centres in West Africa to attain the high standard of teaching there which would enable them to give qualifications comparable to those which natives of West Africa have been able to obtain only by coming to this country. I agree with him that to be able to receive education of comparable quality in your own home and in the conditions under which you are going to live may be very much preferable.
The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Woods) was quite right in referring to the necessity for developing native industry. Of course, the development of secondary industries cannot be the only development. There must also be other developments to provide what have now become the ordinary necessities of life borrowed from Western civilisation. There is, of course, a great need in the Colonies for the improvement of native crops. The hon. Member must have been interested by the recent pronouncement about the Institute of Arts and Crafts in West Africa, for which a grant of something like £130,000 has been given by the Government.
The hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward) referred to the unfortunate disturbances in the Bahamas last year. If he will forgive me, I cannot deal in any detail with those events now. The Committee will remember that we did discuss them at considerable length during the two days Debate on the West Indies, and that I made available to hon. Members, and I will send the hon. Member a copy, the summary of the recommendations of the Committee and the Governor's report as to the action he recommended. I think the hon. Gentleman will find that many of his points are dealt with there. I fully agree with him as to the importance of 148 being in a position to deal with the unemployment problem, above all in Jamaica. When he suggests that one of the easiest ways to solve the problem of unemployment in Jamaica and the short-tage of labour in Trinidad would be to take men from Jamaica to Trinidad, I agree with him entirely in theory, but in practice shipping at the moment presents an almost insuperable difficulty. Although it has been possible to find some shipping which has enabled surplus labour in Jamaica to find work temporarily in the United States of America, it has been impossible at the moment to find means of helping Trinidad out of her very serious labour shortage.
§ Dr. Morgan
Was there not an interchange of labour in the case of Barbados and Trinidad, and did it not give rise to a lot of trouble, because Trinidad labourers thought the labourers from Barbados were given lower wages?
§ Colonel Stanley
I agree that it did cause a lot of trouble, and the transfer of labour could only be done under very careful supervision, but, as the hon. Member knows, there is a very serious shortage of labour in Trinidad at the moment, which is interfering with the very necessary production of foodstuffs for the inhabitants.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) made an interesting speech, in which he set out some considerations in economic development, with which I agree. He also referred to some of the things that had to be taken into consideration in the review of the organisation of the Colonial service, and I think his point as to the possibility of the Colonial officer, however brilliant and enthusiastic he may be as a young man, getting stale unless at some interval in his career he is enabled to rub up against other intellectual interests and discuss with other keen minds, is a very real one and one which I will certainly bear in mind in this proposed reorganisation.
The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) referred to the Forced Labour Convention in East Africa He said quite fairly that under Article 2 in that Convention war is treated as an emergency in which the Convention does not apply, and that being so Article 4 does not operate during war. I can give him some answers on some of the detailed questions he asked. In East Africa E.P.T. is at 149 the rate of 60 per cent., and there is of course Income Tax in addition. The total numbers conscripted are something like 15,000 to 16,000 out of a labour force of 240,000 men. Of the 16,000, half are employed in the sisal industry, which, as I said in answer to a Question yesterday, is really vital to the war effort now that we have lost the production of the Far East. The hon. Member knows that even if work is done on farms in private ownership, the conditions of service and hours of the workers are carefully regulated by the Government, and also of course under war conditions the price of the crop is laid down by the Government, and the Government would be, I think, the only purchaser.
§ Colonel Stanley
Certainly I know that the Government have in mind that this forced labour should be required only for certain periods, but the justification for the present position is that in war or in a state of emergency, by Article 2 of the Convention, the Convention ceases to apply, and therefore there is no question of having by law to enforce the other terms of it. A very interesting speech on fish was made by the hon. Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish). I do not know whether other hon. Members have— the hon. and gallant Member probably has— seen a most interesting report about fish in Lake Nyasa, which contains a number of very interesting recommendations which are now under the consideration of the Governor in Nyasaland. It is not only a question of the fish in Lake Nyasa but of the possibilities of fisheries being developed for these territories as a whole, to give a very much better and more balanced diet than is possible with the over-emphasis on maize. A survey of fisheries in the West Indies is one of the most immediate tasks being carried out under the auspices of the Anglo-Caribbean Commission. My hon. and gallant Friend must not speak so glowingly, however, about the quant[...]es of fish in these areas, because if my noble Friend Lord Woolton ere to hear of it, before we knew where 150 we were we might have the fish in East Africa being zoned, and then goodbye to the fish.
The hon. Member for Ruby (Mr. W. Brown) raised an extremely important point and although he emphasised it by only one particular reference, it is an important point in the whole Colonial Empire. It is not one that can be dealt with, as he knows, in a few minutes at the end of a Debate, because it raises very wide issues. That there must be a difference between the two rates of pay and an expatriation allowance for those from overseas is well understood, and I think accepted, in the Colonies themselves. I think it was the hon. Member for Shipley who pointed to the enormous obstacles in the way of development of all the social services we have been talking about and of all our desires for reform, unless we can get the general level of payments to those working on behalf of the Government into some relation to the incomes throughout the Colony concerned. It is a very difficult question, and it is particularly difficult in Malta. It is certainly one which I will keep under very close consideration.
The hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale) raised again the question of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. I would like him to know that, if I am opposed to the particular proposal, it is not that I want to prevent discussion in the House of Commons upon Colonial matters. This is not only a matter which refers to Colonial affairs but to a number of other important aspects of our national life, which year by year used to get by with very inadequate discussion. I hope to see some other means adopted which would give, not merely to the select few, but to the House as a whole, the possibility of more frequent discussion of these matters. This proposal goes far beyond anything for which I have any responsibility and is one not only for the Government but far more for the House of Commons itself. Having been here for some years I know that in the old days we used to spend more of our time than we need to have spent on detailed discussion of particular stages of particular Bills which might have been dealt with in a Committee upstairs, and less time than I, as a back bencher, would have liked, on the broader aspects such as we have been considering to-day.
§ Mr. David Adams (Consett)
In the very luminous and exhilarating speech of the Minister, did he deal adequately with the question of post-war preparation in the Colonial Empire?
§ Colonel Stanley
I can answer that question in practically one word. I have asked every territory to prepare the plans-they have in mind and which are impossible now because of shortages of labour or supplies but which, when the war ends, they will want to put into operation. The idea is that they should have finished plans ready for help under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, and ready to be put into operation as soon as conditions permit.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again"—[Major Sir James Edmondson]—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.