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 3rst day of March, 1945, namely:
|Class II, Vote 7, Colonial Office||£10|
|Class II, Vote 8, Colonial and Middle Eastern Services',||£10|
|Class II, Vote 9, Development and Welfare (Colonies, &c.)||£10|
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)
It is difficult for all of us to bring our minds back from the dramatic statements which have just been made, and from the thoughts which must be occupying all our minds, concerning the struggle going on so close to us. But we are dealing to-day with a problem of the greatest importance and one to which, I know, even under these difficult circumstances, hon. Members will be prepared to give their attention. It is now nearly a year since I last had the opportunity of speaking upon the Colonial, Office Estimates, It is true that since that time we have had one or two short Debates, but this is the first occasion for a general review. Once again I am in the difficulty which always faces a Colonial Secretary of being able to deal only with a few of the immense number of interesting points and questions which hon. Members would want to discuss. One is under the necessity of omitting many points just us important as those with which one is able to deal; and All one can do is to leave it to hon. Members themselves to raise the other matters in which they are interested.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
Is it the intention of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to reply to the Debate to-day?
§ Colonel Stanley
Yes, most certainly if the Committee will bear with me twice. There is one point that we Might note since the Debate last year, and that is that in the 12 months, quite a number of hon. Members of all parties have had an opportunity of visiting the Colonies. I refer particularly to my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), who spent no less than three months in what, I know, was an arduous, what I believe was an interesting, and what I hope will prove to have been a successful visit to West Africa. Four hon. Members have also been to the West Indies. It is satisfactory that even that small number should be able to go in war time. I hope that when easier' days return with peace, this precedent will be followed by many and that ample opportunities will be given to Members to visit the Colonial Empire. As a matter of fact, since the Debate last year, I, myself, have had the opportunity of making quite an extended tour. I know how much value that visit was to me, and I can appreciate, therefore, how much value similar visits would be to other Members. Of course, I recognise, with an unselfishness which I hope does me credit, that these visits do mean more participation by hon. Members in Debates, more questions from them and very likely more criticism. But I welcome criticism of that kind. It is not only instructive, but it is constructive. It is exactly the kind of criticism which any Minister ought to be glad to receive, because it does not hamper but really helps him in his work.
I should like to start by saying something about the Colonial war effort, first because I think it only right when we are thinking to-day of the part that we life playing, that we should also acknowledge the great part being played by the Colonial peoples. There is a second reason and that is that, unless we realise the great extent of the Colonial war effort, the great impact which the war is having on Colonial territories just as on us here, we lose our sense of proportion with regard to what it is possible to do in planning for the future. We here, on all sides of the Committee, are anxious to do what we can in preparing for the future after the war, but all of us realise that there are limitations in this country 1225 during the war which prevent rapid progress being made, and I would impress upon hon. Members that similar conditions prevail, sometimes with almost equal intensity, in the Colonial territories, and have the same effect upon planning.
It is not, of course, very easy to give to the Committee a full account of the military participation of the Colonies. That same security veil which prevents us knowing the reason why a match at Lord's comes to an end early in the afternoon, or why there are no cherries in Kent in May, prevents my giving to the Committee details of the numbers of men from the Colonial territories now serving in the Armed Forces. But hon. Members do know that their participation in the war is widespread. There are troops from East Africa in Ceylon, troops from West Africa in Burma and—to take the smaller places—troops from the Seychelles and Mauritius in the Middle East, and troops from Cyprus taking part in that Italian campaign to which the Prime Minister has just referred. There are large numbers of Colonial people serving as air crews or ground staffs in the Royal Air Force, of whom a big contingent come from the West Indies, and in a number of Colonies there are naval units, some of which have already been taken over as Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves.
There are, however, one or two interesting stories which I can the give to the Committee about the war services the Colonial peoples. As hon. Members already know, the West Africans have been engaged in the last few months in the Burma 'operations on the Arakan front, where, according to all reports, they have conducted themselves with a high degree of courage and discipline, not only in an advance but what, as every hon. Member who has been at war will agree is much more difficult, in a retreat. But what hon. Members do not yet know is that there are West Africans as part of the Chindit forces who were landed by air behind the Japanese lines. It is rather striking to think that a Nigerian from some of these very primitive territories in Nigeria which the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove has so recently seen, was one of the first troops in the British Empire to take part in an airborne landing. Something, too, has been said, I think, about the records of the Fijians in the Solomon Islands. In the old days, the inhabitants of Fiji held the reputation 1226 of being the best fighters in the Pacific. They have certainly proved themselves to be among the finest jungle fighters in the world. A Fijian commando has been fighting in the Northern Solomons, and in one series of patrol clashes against the Japanese, the score was 300 Japanese killed for four Fijians killed and four wounded, which is a striking testimony to their degree of skill.
I have an even more interesting story to tell about the Solomons. Recently, I had the opportunity of talking to several members of the Colonial administrative service who stayed behind in the Solomons when those islands were occupied by the Japanese: All through the Japanese occupation, they had a complete organisation for watching and for passing news out to the High Command. They had to take to the hills. Their presence was known to the Japanese, because the wireless transmission could not be concealed, Their stores had to be brought to them by submarine or dropped in remote places from aeroplanes. Their headquarters were always liable to search by the Japanese and to sudden moves. They are able to tell a series of marvellous stories which testify to their courage, their tenacity and their adaptability. They had to be able to turn their hands to anything; they were guerilla leaders, naval officers and, in two cases, which must be quite exceptional, were temporarily commissioned in the American Marines. The theme of all their stories is the profound loyalty of the native population in the Solomon Islands—not just a mere passive loyalty, not merely a failure to betray, but active help in extremely dangerous operations. One of those officers told me a story of a. Solomon islander whom he had sent out to see what the Japanese were doing in a particular village. When the man came back he reported that there was a Japanese there operating a wireless. The officer was not quite certain from what the man said whether he had been close enough to see whether it was a wireless or a telephone, so he sent him back. He returned confirming the fact that it was a wireless, and as proof that he had been sufficiently close to judge he brought back the trousers of the Japanese wireless operator, which had been hanging on the tent pole.
This story of the really courageous loyalty of the inhabitants of the Solomon 1227 Islands takes one's thoughts to another part of Colonial territory which is in the occupation of the enemy, and that is Malaya. All of us remember the bitter comments which were made with regard to Malaya at the time of the disaster, comments which led to widespread criticisms of the whole Colonial system. Much that I have heard since led me to doubt whether those comments were fair or were true. Personally, I believe that when Malaya is recaptured, when we are able to get the evidence in full, they will be disproved; but Malaya now is in the occupation of the enemy, the evidence is not procurable, and final judgment can only be possible after the recapture. Here in the Solomons, however, we, have the first evidence from a place where British territory has been completely recaptured—all the evidence is available—and there we find that the full story is not a story of treachery or indifference, but a story of loyalty and courage, and I believe the same will be found to be true of Malaya.
While dealing with this area I hope the Committee will allow me to refer to a story which appears to have had widespread circulation in the Pacific area. It certainly had widespread circulation among American troops, it was reproduced in a Hawaiian newspaper which, I believe, has a big circulation, and has been reproduced, too, I think, in the United States of America. It is a story in lineal descent from the story of the last war which all hon. Members will recollect, of Russian troops going through England. We remember how people used to see their beards, used to hear them talking Russian and see the snow which they had left in railway carriages. That story was only silly. The trouble about the story I am referring to now is that it is not only silly but also harmful. The story is that the United States of America are being charged for every palm tree which is destroyed by their troops in the battle to recover our possessions in the Pacific. All the stories agree on the price—7o dollars a palm tree—but there is some dispute as to who is making the claim. Some say that it is a great soap malting firm. Others say it is His Majesty's Government. I hope the Committee will allow me to waste their time just long enough to say that, Of course, there is not one word of truth in such a fantastic story. No claim has 1228 been made, or ever will be made, on this account to the United Stites— by His Majesty's Government and still less by any individual or individuals. I hope this will have some effect in putting a stop to this ridiculous story, a story so silly that it could only have been repeated by knaves and believed by fools. Unfortunately, there are enough of both in the world to do quite a lot of harm.
Finally, with regard to military service, I would like to say one word about the Caribbean soldiers. Owing to the geographical position of the West Indies, it is difficult for them to participate in active service to the same extent that, say, East or West Africa have done. Of course, many individuals have left the West Indies and volunteered to come over here either to join the Army or the R.A.F., or to work in industry, but a great desire has been expressed in the West Indies that its whole youth should have an opportunity or active service. Thanks largely to the help and co-operation of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War that has now been arranged. A battalion of the Caribbean regiment has left its own home area en route for a military theatre, and I am sure the whole Committee will wish them success in their enterprise.
Remarkable as has been the contribution of the Colonies, in man-power, to actual military service, the demands which have been made on them for production have been equally big. The advent and progress of the war have had two effects upon Colonial life. The first was that the Colonies were obliged, owing to the difficulty of obtaining many supplies on which they had previously relied for a great part of the feeding of their own population, to institute, to a very greatly increased extent, the growing of their own 'food. At the same time the loss of the Far East has forced the United Nations to find substitutes elsewhere for the essential materials we lost in those areas. Rubber, for instance, was one of the key commodities, and we have had to try, as far as we can, to make up the loss, not only by speeding up the production in a natural rubber-producing country like Ceylon, but by bringing back to life old plantations in other Colonies—in East and West Africa —which had been allowed to go out of production years ago when competition from the Far East first became acute and even, as I-am sure that the hon. Member 1229 for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) probably saw in his tour of Nigeria, to spend a great deal of time, trouble and effort in getting supplies of wild rubber from the various Colonies.
With regard to tin, we have, of course, had to put increased pressure upon Nigeria. Pyrethrum, that' most valuable base of all insecticides, of which 85 per cent. came from the areas now occupied by Japan, has had to be developed in Kenya. In regard to sisal, the only substitute for Manila hemp used for naval cording, we have, again, had to put immense pressure upon East Africa to make up the lass. In addition, there has been the necessity to grow more of our own food and to make up some of the losses we suffered in the Far East and, With certain exceptions, the demand for the Colonies' own normal production has not been relaxed. Sugar is just as vital to us—even more vital since the loss of Java —as it was before the war. The oil products—palm kernels and ground nuts —from West Africa now form over 40 per cent. of the fat ration of people in this country. The result is that there has been the impact on Colonial economies of this greatly increased and varied demand. It has meant a tremendous call for labour and, above all, it has meant a tremendous call for organisation. The hon., Member for Shipley will know the number of cases in which men who would normally be doing administrative work, who would have been district commissioners, have had to be taken off that work to become labour controllers and leaders of a drive for ground nuts or palm oil and all this, of course, has increased the pressure upon already depleted staffs. It is against that background of the great efforts that the Colonial territories are making in the war and the great strain that has been put upon their administration and manpower that I want the Committee now to turn to the other side of the picture—to review the planned possibilities for development when the war comes to an end.
In my Estimates speech last year, I dealt very fuly with the political side. I tried in that speech to explain our objectives and I gave numerous and, I think, impressive instances of the advance which had been made during the last year. That advance still continues, but political advance spread over this enormous range of territories is not always spectacular. It 1230 will not, and should not, always progress by dramatic bounds from one Constitution to another. The fact that a municipal council is now elected instead of nominated, that the powers of native authorities in certain areas have been extended, and that in some Colonies the franchise has been lowered, is just as much an important part in the advance towards self-government as the more spectacular events such as the Jamaica Constitution to which I referred last year. If I do not spend so much time this year on the political stage, it is not that I minimise its importance. However interested we may be in social and economic development, all of us must and will recognise the natural urge of humans to share in their own government, an urge which is always present, but which has been greatly stimulated by the war and the activity of thought and enterprise which war creates.
If I deal, as I say, less fully with the subject this year than I did last year, it is not because I minimise its importance, but because I want to give more of my limited time to the plans on the social and economic side. You cannot really dissociate the social and economic side from the political side. An improved health service, a scientific agriculture and the creation of new industries are just as essential to real self-government as any new Constitution or extended franchise. I was given the opportunity by the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) in a Debate on the Adjournment last month, to deal with some of the difficulties which stand in the way of the immediate development of the scheme. I tried to point "out that the impact of the war on the Colonies is, in its effect, not noticeably less than it is on this country, and that it is impossible to progress more quickly in the Colonies than we find it possible to progress here. I referred to the three shortages which the war had caused—the shortage of material, of labour and of technical staffs. I pointed out that we did not necessarily get all three shortages in every Colony. In the West Indies, for instance, there was, a great shortage of imported materials and technical staffs, but not, at least in some of the Colonies, any shortage of labour.
Unfortunately the hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), whose words are hung upon by Members here 1231 and reverberate outside able not only to propagate great and beneficial new ideas, but also to spread a fallacy. The little bit he threw into his great Empire speech, in which he said he could not really believe the story of shortages holding back development when he read of labour in the West Indies going to the United States, ignored the fact that the real shortage in the West Indies is not labour, but imported material. That fallacy has been very difficult to kill. I tried to kill it in the Debate last month, but I was very disappointed when. I went to a meeting last week and heard it repeated once again. I ask hon. Members to believe—and I am sure they will—that this is not just a smoke screen we are, trying to put up to prevent these things being done. Frankly, we think it is the opportunity of our lives and we, will welcome any suggestion from hon. Members about how, in view of these difficulties, we can speed up development. But hon. Members, in their turn, I hope, will admit that difficulties do really exist.
In spite of those difficulties, however, there has been quite a substantial advance. The actual expenditure under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act last year was four times that of the year before. Since the Debate in May, a White, Paper has been published showing the schemes approved under the Act for last year, which now total over £4,000,000, or not so very far below the £5,000,000 a year allowed under the present scheme. That White Paper, I may interject, does give a very interesting list of various projects which is quite well worth studying by hon. Members.
I would like to make just one other point. We are beginning to fall into the idea that the Colonial Development and Welfare Act is the only source from which expenditure on social services in the Colonies can and does come, and to measure the expenditure of the Colonial Empire on the social services by the amount which is spent under that Act. I need not point out to hon. Members that the whole idea of that Act is that the money under it shall not be in substitution of normal expenditure by the Colonies, but in addition to it. As a matter of fact, as a result of the war, many of the Colonies have had improved revenues. They have had better markets 1232 and higher prices for their main exports, and the necessity for higher taxation in order to deal with the danger of inflation has given many of them greatly increased revenue. Therefore, in many Colonies, quite apart from the work of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, there has been, and is, a continued increased expenditure upon social services. I will not weary the Committee by quoting a large number of examples, but one is that in Northern Rhodesia, since 1939, the expenditure on African education has gone up froth £42,000 to £128,000, or trebled itself in that time. Of course the creased expenditure of Colonial Governments meets the same difficulty as expenditure from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to which I have referred. They have not always been able to spend their increased revenues on improved social services. That means that they are amassing surpluses and that in several Colonies there will be substantial balances available after the war for expenditure on development. Therefore, they have the three channels for expenditure on social services—the normal revenues of the Colonies which are expanding, the balances which the Colonies themselves are building up, and the assistance which comes from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act.
I feel that the really important thing, apart from pressing on as hard as we can with the execution of what schemes are practicable, is that we should be ready for the post-war period. We should be ready for the time when these limitations will disappear, not suddenly, of course, but gradually as things improve. What we shall want by that time will be not just general ideas, but actual plans capable of being put into effect immediately. This is necessary not only from the point of view of the development of the Colonies. It is essential for the demobilisation period, as a means of reabsorbing into civilian life the many hundreds of thousands of Colonial people who are now in the Forces. I have during the last year tried to set up and get working the necessary machinery to insure that that planning is going on in all the Colonial territorie6. There are certain principles which we have to have in mind with regard to this planning. The first, I should say, is that there need not be uniformity between Colonies, and it is not for us to insist that every Colony 1233 should try to do exactly the same thing. There must be co-operation between them and an avoidance of overlapping. The second principle is that detailed planning must be done on the spot. On practical grounds it cannot be done from London. We have to remember that these people are growing into nationhood, and they are entitled to plan for themselves. We cannot impose on them in that way, although we may advise and assist with plans drawn up in London. The principle is, therefore, that the planning should be done on the spot and that here in the centre we are entitled to supervise the plans to make certain that there is no one-sided development and that in a particular Colony not too much attention is being paid to one branch at the expense of another, or, as between one Colony and another, one which has a more active driving force at the head is not going further ahead than one which is more supine.
The third principle is that there is need for new organs. We are asking Colonial Governments to take an interest in things which before the war were considered largely outside their concern. There was very little machinery before the war for economic planning or the encouragement of industry, and that is a deficiency we have had to fill. In discussing this machinery, I would like hon. Members to realise that it is of recent growth. For a long time in the Colonies, "as here, the instructions were that all official work was to be centred on the war effort. Only comparatively recently—for El Alamein, the turning point of the war, is still only 18 months ago—has it been possible to relax that and to give encouragement to provide time to planning of peace time development. Even though that encouragement is now given, it is still against the background of the additional war-work and the depleted staffs to which I have already called attention.
The basis of the planning machinery which I have tried to set up is, first of all, a Colony Development Committee. That is now in force in nearly all the big Colonies, and it is by far the most important organ of planning. Its make-up must vary in each Colony, but there are certain desiderata which I have laid down. The committee must include the heads of the various Departments, because they are the people who will put up the detailed 1234 planning, it may be of health-services or of agriculture. It must also include a number of unofficial people because not only will they have much to contribute, but we have to carry them with us in schemes for the development of their own country. Finally, and to this I attach the greatest importance, there must be one senior man, whether he is an 'official or a man brought in from outside, with nothing else to do. It is no good having on a committee extremely busy men who have a great deal to do in their day to day work. We must have some man whose only job is development and whose only interest is to follow it through.
§ Captain Peter MacDonald (Isle of Wight)
Is there to be a permanent official in each Colony or an expert brought in from outside?
§ Colonel Stanley
I said either a permanent official or, as in some cases, experts from outside. The second point is that we want these plans to be comprehensive and long-term—real five or ten-year plans covering the whale development of the Colonies, and not just a new hospital here and a new road there. If there is something immediately practicable, they are at liberty to put it up for immediate approval, but I do want to have as a result of these committees general comprehensive schemes, however long they will take to put into effect, so that each bit of work that is done fits into the general picture.
§ Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)
My right hon. and gallant Friend has just mentioned hospitals. I wonder whether he is speaking now of social plans rather than specific economic plans, that is to say, plans for the extension and development of industry.
§ Colonel Stanley
In most Colonies it is a social and economic committee and it deals with general expansion on both sides. I do not think that in a Colony, we can really separate the two. In nearly every Colony the biggest economic plan you can make is the improvement of agriculture, and in any plan for agriculture an improvement in education and health must be one of the most vital factors. Therefore, we have adopted the plan that it is the same committee that surveys the whole field. In many Colonies, in order to meet the difficulties of economic planning, we have tried to provide experts from outside to assist and advise.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington North)
Would the right hon. And gallant Gentleman give a little more explanation of the words "industrial planning."? Has any general line been laid down for starting industries in, for instance, Nigeria or the Gold Coast or Kenya? What are the lines on which that will be done? Will it be part of general planning?
§ Colonel Stanley
I did not use the word "industrial," but I will now, because it really leads me on to the next point, that is the necessity, when we have the Colonial planning unit, to have some form of regional co-operation. That is necessary for those problems which really transcend the boundaries of one particular Colony. It is particularly necessary in the case to which the hon. Gentleman refers, that of the setting up of secondary industries, in order to prevent over-dapping. There may be room in one region for a particular industry and there might be a market in the country capable of sustaining a plant of economic size. If, however we found each of three or four Colonies in the region saying, "We are going to set up that industry to serve the market of the whole region," we would get hopeless overlapping. There must, therefore, be some form of regional co-operation to prevent overlapping of that kind.
§ Mr. de Rothschild (Isle of Ely)
By regional does my right hon. and gallant Friend mean our own Colonies or the Colonies of other nations?
§ Colonel Stanley
Perhaps if I were allowed to develop the point, a great deal, I hope, will come out in the wash. The great example we have had up to now of this machinery for regional co-operation is the Stockdale Commission. We have discussed that in the House, and the Committee is familiar with it. What I want to emphasise is that what is suitable for the West Indies, a number of small Colonies, with small technical staffs, is not necessarily suitable for regions containing bigger Colonies with bigger and more highly trained staffs and perhaps, therefore, more technically skilled advice already available to them. In West Africa we have already available as the machinery for regional co-operation the Civil Members Committee, that is, the Governors under the Chairmanship of Lord Swinton, with, of course, a permanent secretariat. We have adopted 1236 the plan of attaching to Lord Swinton's staff experts who will be available to the Colonial Governors to supplement their own resources.
For instance, we have appointed Professor Noel Hall as development adviser. In Professor Hall, with whose record as an economist and with whose war work in connection with the Ministry of Economic Warfare members of the Committee are acquainted, the governors will have at their disposal an expert on the wider questions of economic development, the trend of world' markets and the chances of new production. We have also attached another specialist, a town planning adviser, Major Maxwell Fry, who will be able to advise Colonial Governments, not only on town planning, but on what everybody who has been to the Colonies will, agree is most important, namely design. I wish we could get some better designs for houses of all descriptions in the Colonies than some of the examples we now see. In Central Africa, that is, in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, we are trying to get this close co-operation 'by appointing the same development adviser to both Colonies. Mr. J. C. Clay will be joint adviser for Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. In East Africa we have a Governors' Conference with its secretariat which calls the conferences on technical matters. In addition, they have set up an East African Industrial Council, whose business it is to prevent overlapping in the plans for the development of secondary industries.
§ Mr. Alexander Walkden (Bristol, South)
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether, in connection with industrial development, the Government are considering the advisability of assisting the Colonies by granting them a proportion of the large number of vehicles that will be available after the war? It would be an inestimable advantage to the Colonies, and we shall not want all those vehicles.
§ Colonel Stanley
That is a most valuable suggestion and I think it worth considering. It is a little remote at the moment from the question of planning machinery, but I will certainly bear it in mind. I would add one word about the Pacific, where, alas, the most important of the British territories are still in enemy occupation. There, I am afraid, there can be 1237 no question at the present moment of planning development, but, at least, the Committee will want to know that we are planning for reconstruction. The, difficulties are naturally much greater than in other Colonies, and we can have no idea what the conditions will be when finally we re-occupy; but there are already, under the War Office, and largely recruited from the Colonial Service, staffs who are preparing plans on such information as they have got, for the reconstruction of those areas upon their recapture.
I have dealt with planning in the Colonies and with co-operation in the regions. The third point is the part of the Colonial Office. I do not think that any Secretary of State can delegate his central responsibility to any board or council. He is responsible for the Colonies to the House of Commons, and fie alone can discharge that responsibility. Obviously, in doing so, he must have, and he does have, the advice of the proper expert opinion. We have now at the Colonial Office a very full system of advisory committees with a membership —as I think the hon. Member for Shipley will agree, since he is a member of one ofthem—of the highest calibre. One of the most remarkable things is the response which I have had to invitations to serve on committees or commissions relating to the Colonies. I have asked people of the highest eminence in their professions and with many other calls on their time, and in almost every case I have had an enthusiastic response. It shows the immense interest there is in Colonial development and the realisation of its tremendous importance in the future.
As I see it, I have, as Secretary of State, two real functions with regard to this Colonial development, The first is, that I should stimulate and assist the formulation of plans, and in that task I can be helped, and am helped, by reports and investigations on general lines by those various committees. One of the best examples is the report of the education committee on mass education. It makes no pretence to lay down detailed plans for a particular Colony. That must be done in the Colony itself. It tries to set out the broad principles and to urge the broad necessities, as both a stimulation and an assistance to the individual Colony to make its own individual plan. Secondly, apart from stimulation and 1238 apart from the routine function imposed by the White Paper of checking details and satisfying myself of the financial aspect of particular plans under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act,. my duty seems to be to make certain that there is no one-sided development, and that the idiosyncrasies of people in a particular Colony who are more interested in health, perhaps, than they are in industrial organisation, shall be corrected, and a proper level maintained; and, above all, that energy in one Colony or lethargy in another; shall not produce disparity between the development plans of the two.
As a result of this machinery, I hope in time to get full planning, covering all aspects of these Colonies for a considerable period ahead. When I get it, I shall have some measure of the expenditure involved. My own belief, which I have never concealed, is that the £5,000,000 a year under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act will be quite inadequate for the needs which these plans will disclose, but when I have got those plans I, or my successor, will be in a position to put before the Government of the day and the House of Commons of the day what the real needs of the Colonies are, and it will be for the House of the day to decide. Needless to say, I believe it is essential that they should meet the needs of the Colonies fully and generously.
§ Sir Ernest Graham-Little (London University)
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give us some details about the methods of higher education which are proposed?
§ Colonel Stanley
No, I really cannot do so to-day. I dealt with higher education at great length in my speech last year, and if the hon. Gentleman has any questions to put to me in the course of the Debate I shall be glad to answer them. It may be that the hon. Gentleman or the hon. Member for Shipley will have something to say in the course of the Debate.
I do not want to exaggerate the progress that has been made. There is a real shortage of staff—I am sure that the hon. Member for Shipley will bear me out in that statement—and pf technical assistance. I know how often I am not able to fulfil the requests of the Colonies for particular individuals with particular knowledge to do a certain aspect of planning work; but still, progress is being 1239 made. Certain plans have already been published. I believe that the one relating to Kenya is in the Library. That for Gambia, an extremely interesting document, was published locally, but I am not sure whether it has been published here. We will press on with this. I am doing so and I have the fullest support of all the Colonial Governors. I can assure the House that every Governor I have talked to—I have had an opportunity of personal discussion with 18 Governors in the last year, either in their own Colonies or over here—regards this time as a golden opportunity. Not always being certain of what future Parliaments may bring, they are only too anxious to push on with their planning policies, and to "cash in" on the present good will. I tell them that they need have no fear, that the interest of Parliament is now fully aroused, that the normal changes of election adventure or misadventure will make no difference, and that Parliament is determined to implement the policy which is now started.
There are two most important subjects which I must leave for another day. We are discussing Colonial affairs under great difficulties to-day and I hope that hon. Members will remember that. If hon. Members feel, as I do, that this subject of the Colonies is worth at least two days' Debate later in the Session, one of the questions which obviously needs full treatment when that time comes is the question of research. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act not only provided for development, but for research. There have been a number of interesting developments, as will be seen in the second Report of the Halley Committee, which will be issued as a White Paper. I am also issuing as a White Paper the *port of the Colonial Products Research Council. It contains some very interesting material. I think we might also discuss before very long what is quite a novel departure. Before the war there was no central office or body for research in the Colonies at all. A great deal was done in, the Colonies themselves, but it was alone with very little co-operation, and the result was overlapping and gaps, and we were not always in a position to make the fullest use of our material I would certainly welcome the opinion of hon. Members on the very elaborate plans which, thanks to Lord Hailey and his colleagues, are now being laid down.
1240 The second point which might be discussed when there is time is the whole question of medical policy. Last year we discussed education at considerable length; medical policy is its twin pillar in the new Colonial foundation. There is just one question on the medical side to which I must refer to-day, but I am in this difficulty: I want to refer to a speech which was made by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan), who is not in his place. I confess I thought he was so interested in Colonial development that it never struck me that he would not be in his place. Therefore, I never gave him any notice; but I think a wise compromise is that I should relate the facts and postpone the comments which otherwise I should have felt myself entitled to make. The hon. Member, speaking in quite another Debate—a Debate, as a matter of fact, on the National Health Service—without any warning to me and for no reason at all that I can see and certainly for no reason that he gave, suddenly told the House:I can tell hon. Members that the Colonial Medical Service is a disgrace.Well, of course, we all know the hon. Member for Rochdale. He, I always think, is rather like his famous medical predecessor, Dr. Jekyll. At times he offers quite cogent and constructive suggestions, but there are intervals when his interjections are, to say the least of it, irrelevant and irresponsible. This occasion was a case with the hon. Member, I would say, of the Hyde side out. Words spoken in this Chamber go out to an immensely wide circle. His remarks went out with no explanation or justification, and they caused, as I know, great bitterness of feeling among many people who are themselves affected in this matter. I want to say categorically, and I hope subsequent speakers will feel prepared to support me, that there is no justification whatsoever for a statement of this kind. The Colonial Medical Service has had many difficulties to grapple with and it has often' been short-handed and short of funds, but that is not its fault. It is the fault of the Administration, of the Colonial Office, of the Government possibly and even of Parliament itself, but for the members of the Colonial Medical Service I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for their self-sacrificing efforts on behalf of the Colonial territories.
Dr. Haden Guests
Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman permit me to intervene? I am sorry that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) is not here. He is a Parliamentary and medical colleague of mine and I think it would have been better if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had quoted the exact words which were used. If the hon. Member had said that the medical services in many of the Colonies were—putting in a different adjective—very inadequate, I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would have thoroughly agreed with him. It is perfectly well known that they are Made-. quate. I discussed this matter with the hon. Member, and I think that is really what he meant.
§ Colonel Stanley
That may be so, but the hon. Member did not say it. Here are the actual words:The Colonial Medical Service is one of the worst in the world. I represent the Colonial doctors on the British Medical Association in certain parts of the world, and I can tell hon. Members that the Colonial Medical Service is a disgrace."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 16th March, 1944; Vol. 398, c. 5o1.)In conclusion, I do emphasise the need, if we are to achieve the objects which the whole of this Committee have in view, of real partnership between ourselves and the Colonies. We shall succeed only if we work together. On the one side, it is true that, however enterprising and enthusiastic may be the people of the Colonies, they cannot succeed without our help, whether that help is financial or technical. Equally, however elaborate the machinery, however comprehensive the plans, or however generous the finance, these plans can only be made to live by the enthusiasm and sense of service among the people of the Colonies themselves. I am firmly convinced that there is, on both sides, enough good will and common purpose, to build a partnership which will endure and prosper.
§ Captain Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I would like to express to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman congratulations on his very comprehensive survey of the problems confronting his Department over a period of time. No one who heard that statement could fail to be impressed by the magnitude of these problems, and I hope therefore that the suggestion of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, which had already been made by certain of my hon. Friends and myself, 1242 that a further day should be devoted to the Colonial Estimates or to a Debate on the Colonies generally, during this Session, will be accepted. It is quite hopeless to attempt to cover so great a field and so wide a range 6f subjects in one day. Therefore, I hope that the Government will allow at least 'one more day for a further discussion.
I myself was very anxious to hear What the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would say about higher education in the Colonies. That has been ruled out. Also I wanted to talk about research. That has been ruled out. In fact I have had to rearrange my speech in order to follow the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who dealt chiefly with two subjects very closely related—social and economic development. Before going on to that, however, I would like to thank him for the kind reference he made to the Parliamentary Delegation to the West Indies, of which I had the honour of being Chairman. I am sure that the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) will bear me out that the members of that delegation were very much impressed indeed by the warmth of the welcome we received, and are very grateful to every—body for the assistance given to us, particularly by the Colonial Office itself. It was a very strenuous but enjoyable trip, and as I say we were given a tremendous welcome everywhere.
I would like to support the wish of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that Members should visit the Colonies more often. If they did they would come back with different impressions from those held by a great many in this Committee today. Irresponsible and mischievous statements, such as those made by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan)—I have heard him make them time and time again in this House—would not be made if Members visited the Colonies a little, more, and found out what their opinions as expressed in this House are thought of there. Statements of the kind I have referred to will, I hope, cease as soon as Members shave an opportunity of travelling a little more. I would like also to see greater opportunities given to the Colonies themselves to send representatives td visit this country, because this interchange of Parliamentary opinion is invaluable in the development of better 'relations between the Colonies and this country.
1243 I was very much touched and impressed, by the confidence and faith that the people in those six Colonies we visited have in this House, and in our ability or willingness to assist them, and look after their interests at all times. I often wonder if that faith is justified when I see the sparseness of attendance in Debates and the little interest that has been taken in Colonial affairs in the past. I was able to assure them, as were my colleagues as well, that neglect of and lack of interest in Colonial matters are things of the past. Certainly there is a greater quickening of interest in the Colonies both in this House and the country than have ever seen in all the time I ohave been here.
I was very glad to hear the right hon. and gallant Gentleman deal with a subject which I have been trying to deal with for many years, that is the question of Colonial development, and the machinery required for that purpose. I have, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, both before he came to the Colonial Office and since, advocated the setting up of Colonial development councils or board for the purpose of co-ordinating development in those Colonies and supervising administration of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in his statement, which I welcome, has gone some way to meet my request and the request of colleagues of mine made over a number of years. We asked for a Colonial council. He has rejected that, but he has gone some way in that direction because what we asked for—what I asked for at any rate—was that I body should be set up in this country under the Colonial Office. We do not want to supersede the right hon. and gallant Gentleman or his sucessors, because the Colonial Secretary is responsible to this House for anything that happens in the Colonies. Neyerthe less, with all this wide field and the innumerable problems of administration with which he has to deal, I do not think the Secretary of State himself can possibly supervise the administration of that Fund or carry out adequately the development required in the Colonial Empire to-day or to-morrow. I think he has gone some way to meet us by setting up the Colonial Civil Advisory Committee. He said that one member of it would be permanent, and not necessarily a civil servant. I 1244 suggest there should be tow at any rate, a chairman, who should be permanent, and a secretary, who could be a civil servant, and who would be available at any time. I think myself that the chairman should be permanent.
Then the question of regionalisation is one for which I have pressed. That is also very important in the African Colonies, The same applies to the West Indies and other parts of the Colonial Empire. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman made reference to the Stockdale Commission. I think that that body has done a great job of work and deserves more credit than it has received in many quarters. I found a feeling of suspicion in some of the Colonies we visited that this body was endeavouring to assume the functions of government in some Colonies, and that the Commission were trying to interfere with the governors in some places, and that it was altogether making itself a nuisance. I am quite convinced that that was not the intention of this House or of the Colonial Office in setting up that Commission. I am equally convinced that it is not the intention of the chairman or members of the Commission—Sir Frank Stockdale and his advisers, with whom I had the pleasure of spending a day or more—to exceed in any way their mission and terms of reference, or to interfere with the Governments concerned. They are an advisory body; their duties are to assist the Governments of the Colonies to make plans and do everything possible to see that they are carried out. The right hon. Gentleman made a statement the other day that this Commission is there to assist Governments, and not to supersede them. If we could get rid of that suspicion which has been created in one or two Colonies, I feel sure that the Stockdale Commission would be received with great acclaim. I think they are a magnificent body, but their plans have been frustrated by the war.
If, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman says, that sort of body is not required in the African Colonies, something of a similar nature must take its place. On that, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that he is setting up a Regional Committee. At the present time there is one under Lord Swinton. What is to happen when Lord Swinton is no longer there? I do not think it is the intention that there should always be a resident Cabinet Minister in Africa. If 1245 so, I wonder what machinery is to take the place of the resident Minister in coordinating the social and economic development of these African Colonies. Personally, I should like to see them regionalised, and a permanent Under-Secretary, under the Colonial Secretary, appointed to represent him in those territories'. He need not be a permanent resident there, but on the other hand he should have authority to make decisions on the spot. Far too much time has been lost in the past in sending schemes home for approval and having them held up and pigeonholed for months, until there is a change of. Government or policy, when they are pigeonholed for all time.
That is a complaint one gets everywhere one goes in the Colonial Empire. That is what I want to see abolished. The greatest step in that direction has been taken in war-time—when it is vital that we should have a Minister in West Africa, where all this development is taking place in connection with the war. It would be quite impossible to carry on the war by referring everything to the Colonial Office. I think Lord Swinton has carried out that work magnificently. I do not think it will be the policy of the Government always to have a Minister of Cabinet rank in that territory, and I do not think that Parliament desires it. But I should like to see an additional Under-Secretary of State to represent each of these regions, to be responsible for them, and to be enabled to represent the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and take decisions, and major decisions to, thereby avoiding the delay of referring everything back to the Colonial Office.
As far as the Colonial Office itself is concerned, I am not satisfied. I still think that the big decisions on policy, the administrative responsibilities and the wide range of subjects with which the Colonial Secretary has to deal, his duties in this House, his duty to visit the Colonies and be away for a period of time, do not allow him sufficient time to devote to this question of Colonial development. If it is to be done at all after this war, it must be done on a very large scale, and it must not be allowed to get into watertight compartments, as in the past, with each territory fighting for its own small amount of what is going in the way of assistance from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, or from the Colonial Office 1246 Vote. There must be somebody to coordinate the whole effort.
I am overwhelmed when I think of the problems that face the Colonial Office today, and the cost of those problems. Take housing alone. After a visit to the West Indies 20 years ago, I told this House that I thought the housing conditions were a disgrace. On my recent visit, I was sorry to find that the conditions had not improved,' and that in some cases they had deteriorated. I was also shocked to find that in the West Indies not an ounce of cement is made, although it is vital that cheap cement should be produced on the spot in as many Colonies as possible. How are you to build houses in the Colonies without cement? Before the war cement was being shipped out from this country to the Colonies, and it cost four times what it would have cost to produce it there. There is room in Jamaica for a cement factory, at quite a reasonable cost, and it could have been functioning during this war. There is the same problem in Malta and elsewhere. There may be some local vested interest holding up such schemes. It is often the case in the Colonies that local vested interests find it more profitable to import cement or some other commodity than to produce it on the spot, and any schemes are sabotaged in consequence.
Another reason why I object to the Colonial Secretary being wholly responsible for this development policy is that I want to see continuity of policy. I do not want to see what has happened in the last 15 years recurring—a change of Minister every year. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, now that he o has taken a firm grasp of his task, will, see it through. I am sure that, as far as he is concerned, he will do that; but there are bound to be changes of Governments, and changes of Ministers. I want some body —you may call it a committee, but I prefer to call it a council—to demote its whole time to the development of the Colonies, making use of the local Colonial Committees. I am sure that that is the best machinery you could have. It is very important that Colonies should produce their own cement, because, as was pointed out to me by Colonial Governors time after time, if the Colonies are to have proper housing, cement should be produced on the spot.
I am told, on pretty good authority, that there is no possibility of any cement 1247 or any cement-making machinery being exported from this country for many years. In the last war, the Germans, naturally, destroyed every bit of cement making machinery in the territories which they had occupied, and I am sure they will do it this time; so I would urge that schemes for making cheap cement should be put forward in as many Colonies as possible. As I have said, I found that in some of the towns in the West Indies housing conditions had not improved. In the villages they were not much better. On some of the sugar estates I found an awful hangover from the days of indentured labour. The Colonial Office must face the question of who is to be responsible for housing conditions on these estates. Since they had this indentured labour the estates have tried to house their own people. They cannot do it much longer. They are living from hand to mouth, largely on the assistance they get from this House. The whole method is undesirable, because half the people living in these old houses no longer have any connection with the estates on which they are living. I would rather see villages formed outside the estates. The people resent being tied to one estate all their lives. If the estates were taxed, as in this country and in other countries, and the Colonies were made responsible for the housing conditions of the people, the people would have more freedom. This system could be linked up with grants of land, and With the whole question of land tenure. The matter will have to be dealt with as sift as the war is over.
Another matter that I want to mention is communications, chiefly air communications. I hope that these air bases, on which large sums 1aye been spent during the war, in Afrieg4nd in other parts of the Colonial Empire, are not going to be allowed to run to seed, and that plans are being made to use, after the war, those which are essential for civil aviation. A proper survey of, these bases should be made. Whit is happening in connection with British West Indies Airways? When I was in the West Indies, a couple of months ago, that gallant little, company was struggling hard, with two machines, to carry on an inter-island service. What steps have been taken to provide more machines for that company, and to protect its future? It is 1248 essential that that company shall be kept alive, and its activities extended to other islands, but unless steps are taken by the Colonial Office and by the Colonies concerned, I fear that that company will die. There are many other things with which I should have liked to deal, but I hope that there will be another day, soon, when education and research will be dealt with. I am very pleased that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has gone so far in development machinery, although not far enough, but I am still very alarmed about the cost of all these schemes which will have to be met after the war. I still maintain that the question of financing development in the Colonies will have to be considered. I do not think that the Colonial Development and Welfare Act is sufficient, or that even £20,000,000 a year is sufficient, to deal with the problems, social, political, and economic, that will arise after the war. The social problems, education, research, and housing, will have to be financed by the Government. That alone will cost a colossal sum. I was going to give some figures which really staggered me, about the cost on the educational side alone. I do not think that the Act is big enough for any great development scheme. Therefore, I urge that it should be used as a means of paying interest on long term development loans over period of years, which Colonial Governments should be encouraged to take up, to promote greater economic activity than in the past. At the same time, I think the Colonial Office should adopt a different attitude towards private enterprise. I have had complaints all round that anybody representing private enterprise who goes to the Colonial Office, or to any Colonial Government, and tries to put forward a development scheme, is always treated as a bagman.
§ Colonel Stanley
I would be glad if the hon. and gallant Member could give me an instance where that has happened recently.
§ Captain Macdonald
I am not talking about recently, but about the past. There certainly was that feeling for a great many years that people were not encouraged to develop private enterprise, but were more often discouraged. There may have been some reason for that. Some private enterprises have not had too proud a record in the Colonies in the past. I agree it is the 1249 duty of Colonial Governments to protect the interests of their people and see that they are not exploited, and that can be done to-day by different machinery. You have trade unions in the Colonies, and I hope they will be extended; the labour advisers, from what I saw of them, are doing a magnificent job. There are now properly organised bodies to look after the interests of labour and see that they are not exploited. I hope that every encouragement will be given to private enterprise and to people with capital who are anxious to spend it in development after the war, and, who know their job far better than any Colonial Office or Colonial Governments.
Then there is the question of the state of radio development in our Colonies today, which is deplorable. I have no hesitation in saying that, because I have experienced it. I know it is impossible to do anything now, but I could give figures to prove that the radio is not getting in touch with the people at all. Those who have the money are able to get programmes from South American, German and Spanish sources, but not from home. Then, there is cable and wireless development. What is being done for the development of the Colonies?
There is also a widespread need for the development of the telephone. All these things must be got on with soon, and I think it is important that we should have a Colonial Development Council or board sitting permanently, which will survey these schemes, co-ordinate them, sift them out, make sure that the schemes will be, carried out and that there is continuity of policy, whether there is change of Government or not. I urge the Minister to give consideration to these points, as well as to the financing of the great market developments that must take place after the war by some other method than that which is at present employed and which I consider to be wholly inadequate.
§ Mr. Creech Jones (Shipley)
I think the Committee must thank the Secretary of State for his very interesting survey., Perhaps he struck a somewhat minor key, but the story, on the whole, is a good one. It is my responsibility, of course, to strike a note of criticism, but, before I do so, I think the Committee must be conscious that, as the Secretary of State reminded us, to-day is a day of enormous moment in the history of Europe, if not 1250 of the world. I think it is a fitting thing that, however remote some of our Colonies may seem, this Committee, even in the midst of great events, should be giving some consideration to the great responsibilities which we, as a nation, carry overseas. I would also like to pay tribute, as the Secretary of State has already done, to the contribution to the war effort which is being made by the Colonial peoples almost everywhere, and to the magnificent loyalty which has been so consistently shown throughout the strain of the past four or five years.
I was glad that the Secretary of State directed our attention this year to the fundamental economic and social problems in the Colonial territories. I myself have been particularly intrigued about some of these economic and social problems during the past few months, largely as a result of the experience which I was privileged to have in connection with the Higher Education Commission to West Africa. I would like to thank my right hon. and gallant Friend for the very great privilege he gave me in permitting me to serve on that Commission. The things which seem to be most emphasised in my mind are, first, the abysmal levels of existence on which large numbers of peoples are condemned to live in great areas of the Empire, and, secondly, the vastness, complexity and inter-dependence of the great problems in economic and human development. Also brought home to me was the basic fact that these great difficulties of human and economic development arise very largely from the harsh conditions of nature, the relentless struggle of man to live, against the forces IA nature, and, further, the degree of exploitability that can exist when people are weak and ignorant.
Britain to-day is in the Colonies and she cannot withdraw; nor do I think it desirable that she should. We are pledged, in these Colonial territories, to the pursuit of a policy of constructive trusteeship, a policy which is to lead, we hope, to partnership inside the British Commonwealth. I think, too, that if we start to desert our task we should be guilty of great breaches of trust with the Colonial peoples, with whom we have entered into a very close relationship. It would be undesirable, I think, that we should give up the job of developing these underdeveloped areas, not merely on grounds 1251 of humanism, but also on grounds of enlightened self-interest, and, when I say enlightened self-interest, I mean that, after all, civilisation owes a great deal to the African and to the products which come from that Continent. If we are building up in the future a system of security, a defensive world order, then it is imperative that these areas should no longer be the occasion for rivalry and jealousy between contending Powers. It is im— portant, too, that, if our standards of living and our health are to be secured, then the standards of living of the peoples in these areas should also be built up and that these people should also be made healthy. It is, therefore, important for the peoples of the world that these underdeveloped areas should be integrated into the larger life of the world.
I think, perhaps, we are apt to be a little too complacent about the kind of job we have done so far. Perhaps we can feel gratified that, in the course of our administration, some excellent jobs of work in development have been done, in the restoration of order, in establishing stability of government and in securing fair administration of justice for the people. At the same time, we can feel proud of the many important and distinguished Colonial administrators which the Colonial Service has produced, and feel proud of the excellent work which some of them have done. Again, in certain areas, we have been in control only a short time. When one remembers, for instance, the condition of tie Protectorate of Sierra Leone or of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, even within the memory of living men, and the change which has come about as the result of British control, it is a remarkable change indeed. One notices also, amongst the native peoples, that there is a new approach to government and a new conception as to the purpose of government. It is no longer a tyrannical authority for imposing its will on the masses, but is becoming an organisation for building up economic and social life and securing for them reasonable standards and peaceful relations in their everyday life.
But I must confess that I do feel, at times, some anxiety as to whether we are doing enough with regard to the development of these Colonial areas. I appreciate the points which have been made by the Secretary of State that in the conditions 1252 of war, there awe very considerable hampering factors which make progress very slow. But what I really want to know is—What are we really doing in the building of the standards of life, in developing the resources of areas, in retaining, for the use and the development of the peoples, those resources which are available; whether we are inspiring in the African peoples, or the Colonial peoples elsewhere, that desire to co-operate with us for the achievement of certain social, economic and political targets which really mean something to them in terms of health, education, housing, political freedom and the rest. As the Secretary of State has reminded us, it is true enough that the British Government to-day approach Colonial problems in a constructive mood. The Secretary of State has also reminded us of the whole array of advisory committees working on basic problems of policy, submitting reports and advising him as to the broad lines on which Colonial policy in the respective countries should be worked out.
At the same time, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman again reminded us, a new stage his now been reached in the organisation and regularisation of research, on which a great deal of the prosperity of the Colonies in days to come will depend. He also told us that there are development boards now being set up on the local level, regional level and national level for the purpose of bringing together administrative people, technicians, lay persons and unofficial representatives to discuss the problems of social and economic development in their respective Colonies. All that is to the good and there is a further development likely, not so very far ahead, in which machinery will be established for the closest co-operation of Colonial areas for the working out of economic and social development. Separate Colonies are finding themselves unable to do things for themselves because they have not the resources, but they are finding that by co-operation and by coming together financial and other difficulties can be solved and advice obtained for the schemes which they could not carry through of themselves.
The report of the Colonial Development Funds which was issued last week also showed that a great deal of money has been wisely and usefully spent. I would like to put this point to the Secretary of State. When we passed that Act in 1253 1940, it was understood that there must be long-term planning in social and economic development. The Bill limited the period of improvement to 10 years. Owing to the interruption of the war, many of the schemes and plans which were contemplated have not been worked out and submitted to the Colonial Office even yet, and the number of years for the operation of that Measure are coming to an end. That means that, if there are very large-scale services which need to be worked out for a long period of years, building schemes for schools, for instance, there are only four, five or six years at the most to go, in which any planning can be done. I understand, in the case of some Colonial Governments, that fact is somewhat of a hindrance. They cannot look beyond 195o in regard to their planning. I hope, therefore, that at an early date the Secretary of State will give some attention to that point.
In many of our Colonial areas, remarkable work is being done. Some of it has been initiated and carried through with very little official encouragement. I know of cases in which development work has been financed and started entirely by the local officials on the spot without any encouragement at all from the central Government of the territory concerned. That ought not to be. It ought to be possible for technical people sometimes to take risks; not to have to put their money into the funding of small schemes of development but to have the official endorsement of the Government in schemes which are of a worth-while character.
I saw, during my visit to West Africa, a number of very extraordinary and excellent experiments. I saw at Pong Tanale remarkable work being done regarding the immunisation of cattle, the clearance of the tsetse fly; at Tafo research in cocoa diseases, and at Vom the founding of new industries, piggeries, dairies, cheese making, butter making and so on. Much of this has been done since the war and largely on the initiative of the local officers. In Nigeria at Anchou there is also a remarkable experiment in regard to re-settlement, rehousing, new food crops, the treatment of cattle, the planning of better sanitation and health arrangements, that is extremely gratifying.
I am aware that there are colossal difficulties in the way of any comprehensive 1254 achievement at the present moment, and I do not wish to minimise the difficulties. Colonial physical conditions are difficult enough. The weakness, the ignorance and the health of-the masses of the people are a great besetting difficulty in trying to solve many of the problems in economic development. At the moment there are great limitations of personnel. We are paying for our neglect in the past in not having trained Africans as technicians. I saw in one province a director of a public works who said, "If you gave me £5,000,000 to morrow, I know the work which needs to be done, but I have not the men, the technical staff or the technical assistants nor am I likely to get the people necessary for the carrying through of public works which are so urgently required." That situation can be repeated in almost every Colonial area. There must be a period in which we must go all out for the training of technicians, technical assistance, and professional people who are urgently required for urgent development work, whether economic or in the social services.
I have another doubt, and that concerns the machinery and structure of the Colonial Service and the Government itself in overseas territories. I am puzzled to know whether we can get away from the migrant kind of official, who is continuously on the move from one Colony to another. Can we do something, in the case of Governors, to meet the legitimate claim that our best Governors should go to those territories where the greatest difficulties exist and that those who are tackling important and difficult problems should not be moved on in order to gain promotion and a larger salary in some other area? There is the weakness of the secretariat in certain Colonies. It struck me that while the Colonial Secretary and his assistants are engaged in heavy and very hard work, it often happens there are merely administrative and political officers in his office instead of having, in addition, people with technical knowledge, with experience of life in the field, people who have had experience of the bush and who could bring a practical mind, in terms of technical knowledge and experience, to bear On the various problems that are dealt with in the secretariat. If we place so much emphasis in out administration on the academic type of mind, on the person who is confined for the greater part of his life to 1255 the office, we are losing something in administration which is of great importance. We want officials who can get into touch with the people; officials who do not lose touch but who move about among the people and appreciate and know their problems.
I rather fear that the present structure of the Service does not lend itself sufficiently to that interchange of experience and of staff, as between the technical and administrative sides. Are we satisfied, as the Colonies emerge from their rather backward condition, now that the people are demanding social services, economic development and participation in the political institutions of their own country, that the existing bottle—neck for dealing with all the problems, whether of reconstruction, health, education or whatever it may be, ought not to be widened? Why must everything on which a decision has to be taken in the life and development of a Colony pass through two persons, the Colonial Secretary and the Governor? These men are hopelessly overworked. They work from early morning till late at night handling innumerable problems. Everything is made to pass through that bottle-neck. I ask that some attention should be given to the problem of how to widen it, in order that there should be wider participation in the Colony in the making of policy.
The problems we are up against are enormous. There is the problem of Nature herself. The harsh conditions imposed by Nature are almost incredibly difficult, if men are trying to build up anything like decent or reasonable conditions of living. The climate is immensely trying. There is the deterioration of health that goes on, and the way climate tends to harbour diseases. Likewise there is the absence of water. One comes across areas where villages are totally without water; it is a whole day's march for a woman to get a pitcher of water and a whole day's march back. Likewise there is the structure of roads. Nature again is always trying to undo the work of man. The rain washes away roads. There are erosion difficulties. These problems are immense. It seems that to live at all in these Colonial areas, there is a conspiracy on the part of Nature to defeat man altogether. In addition, there is the presence of insects and pests of every kind which makes the living of both man and beast difficult.
1256 Our great problem in our Colonies then is how to control environment for the decent living of man; how to bring these natural forces under control in order to make life proper. That will involve, as we have been reminded already, if we are to create the framework of economic activity and useful living, the expenditure of an enormous amount of capital, and that capital will probably have to come from this country. The Secretary of State, has reminded us how interlocked all these problems are. If you want to create health, that depends upon education, the supply of water and sanitation. Nutrition again, depends upon food; food depends upon good agriculture and good water. These, again, depend upon education. All these problems, whether material reconstruction or the building up of social standards, are interlocked and you cannot go far with your material reconstruction without more health and education, technical instruction and agricultural education.
We have, therefore, to create the physical basis of work and living and make substantial grants to the social services in order that the pump shall be primed. It may be that we must ask the peoples to contribute as much as they can. It may be that out of their economic resources they will contribute to health, to preventive medicine, to education, more than they are contributing at present, but the extent to which social services can be built up depends very largely on the ability of the British Government to contribute to Colonial Government funds. I think, however, that the general situation is depressed by a number of important factors. The first is, in regard to economic improvement, that the price levels of primary products Are far too low. We are not giving the primary producers a square deal. It is quite true that in recent years there have been some improvements in regard to certain crops, but it is obvious that so long as we are able to get our products cheap, so long as we, are able to supply ourselves with the things necessary for our own economic living and wellbeing, and do not pay a sufficient price to the people engaged in the production of those products, then we are confirming the really low standard of living and the miserable conditions in our Colonial areas.
The second is that in regard to taxation we still use it as a lever for industry at the expense, very often, of sound agricul- 1257 tural development. Peoples of many areas are taxed well beyond their capacity to pay. It is a factor, which is compelling many of them to leave their villages, where new social problems are created of a difficult kind—the effects are altogether bad. But over and above direct taxation there is also indirect taxation as a result of the fiscal dues—the import and export duties imposed on the goods which these people must consume if they are to live at all. Thirdly, there are the scandalously low wages paid over practically all colonial areas. The low wage standards have become a positive scandal. It is a point which is made by our Labour Officers and by all those who have to attempt to regulate labour conditions. We excuse it by arguing that if wages go up there is a danger of inflation, that the people do not want to buy, and all that sort of thing. We are told that if we put the wages up on public works, it will have an unhappy effect on the wages in agriculture. But all the time, while we tolerate these scandalously low wages, we also tolerate a degree of inefficiency and waste fulness in production and industry which to my mind is perfectly indefensible. Again, where wage labour is employed, there is far too little attention given to welfare arrangements, in regard to the proper feeding of the people who are brought into industry from the villages, in regard to their housing and in regard to their health.
I, too, would like to pay a tribute to the work which is being done by the Labour Departments which have been set up in the Colonies, and to the experienced trade union officials who have gone out and are giving their aid; also to the work being done by some of the officials of the Ministry of Labour who have helped to build up these Departments. I think it very important that the Colonial Office should give attention to the creation of wage boards for the various industries and services that are emerging' in the Colonies. I think it is insufficient for Labour Advisory Boards to function. They are important and necessary but, in addition, there must be the separate consideration of the wage standards and conditions of employment in the separate industries themselves.
If I may refer to a few other factors which generally depress the economic scene in the Colonial areas, I would include, first, the fact that many of our 1258 Colonies are happy hunting-grounds for certain big interests. I cannot tell the Committee the effect which that factor is having on large numbers of Africans on on the West coast—the fact that they feel that, whatever they attempt to do, the strength and influence of big business are such that they can never carry through any enterprises which they themselves might start. They say that those factors are there in their villages, in their stores, in their small industries, and a kind of fatalism is creeping over the Africans who would otherwise engage in economic enterprise. Again, what depresses the scene is the way in which we permit such a considerable amount of the profit of Colonial enterprise to pass out of the respective countries instead of being used in the countries for the building up of the social, political, and economic life. That factor is present in the minds of all intelligent Africans one meets. Why is it, the African asks, that we are paying £300,000 to £400,000 a year in royalties in Nigeria to a company which is not directly or indirectly interested in the operation of the mines? Why is it that wealth is permitted to pass out of the country and not flow back?
Likewise, in regard to the profits which are made on many of the operations of the big commercial concerns—why is it that, with the price of primary products so low and wage `standards so poor, we permit so much of the wealth of these economic enterprises to pass away from the Colony altogether? It should be understood that a certain percentage of the taxation on companies registered in this country is returned to the Colony, but why should it happen that, on an average, 50 per cent. of the taxation on the profits of Colonial enterprise registered in London at the present time are retained in the British Exchequer, and are not returned to the Colonies to help in their social and economic development? I want to emphasise that point very much.
One also wonders whether a more searching examination cannot be made of the financial set-up of the respective Colonies. Why is it that in various areas the Colonial Governments rely so much on their import and export duties, imposing indirect taxes of a very heavy kind on the cost of living and on the household requirements of the Colonial people? 1259 Again, a very big Percentage of the revenue of those Colonies comes overseas, charges which I feel sure should be borne by the British Government in respect of loans, in respect of some of the principal salaried staff, in respect of allowances paid to Colonial officials. Many of these heavy charges which now hamper the work and development of Colonies ought to fall on the British Government rather than on the Colonial Government.
Finally, on another economic point, the Colonial Secretary some 18 months ago appointed a committee concerned with Colonial economic problems. I would like to know what reports that committee has prepared. Has it as yet tackled the basic problem of improving the standard of living of the people? I know that in the' Colonial Office there is a very amiable desire that things should be done, but what are we actually trying to do? What definite steps are we taking to build up the standard of living in the Colonial areas?
In regard to economic policy, I want to ask the Colonial Office to give attention to one or two points. The first is that it is imperative to my mind that there should be at the earliest moment a geological survey of the whole of the Colonial territories. It is an extraordinary thing that that work has not been completely done. If there is to be industrial development, if there is to be the utilisation of what resources exist in the Colonies, then that survey ought to be hurried on. We cannot go forward with some of the big agricultural schemes without a knowledge of the soils, of minerals and other things. My friend Sir Geoffrey Evans made a survey in Sierra Leone in regard to certain lands which need to be drained in order that the pressure of population in the more unfertile lands should be met. Yet there were no technicians who could be called on immediately to offer advice in regard to the soil qualities in these and other places where that drainage was contemplated. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald) who spoke before me referred to the fact that many Colonies could, if they had the machinery, manufacture cement. If these problems had been dealt with more thoroughly in days gone by, that kind of difficulty in the Colonies during the war would never have 1260 arisen that held up much development. Likewise, geological information is required in regard to the very considerable amount of soil erosion going on now. I saw in places in the Eastern provinces of Nigeria, near Onitsha and elsewhere, chasms 300 feet deep due entirely to soil erosion, and the people being driven off the land because these problems were not being dealt with.
Then, again, the Colonial Office has not yet dealt with the problem of mining concessions. Every Colony has its own way of granting concessions, and there are some disgraceful episodes in regard to the making of contracts and the levy made on the Colony for the profit of the outside world. At the present moment in Ilorin in Nigeria, gold has been discovered, and the old scramble has begun with scarcely any attention given to the important needs of the agricultural people who are concerned with the land on which this gold has been found. I believe that latterly the problem has been receiving some small attention, but the time has come when there ought to be some policy in regard to the granting of concessions for mining, and as to the manner in which mining operations should be carried on. Had there been time I would have liked to tell the story of the way in which tin is exploited at Jos on the Bauchi plateau. The most disgraceful labour conditions exist where women and children are employed, where women almost stark naked carry heavy loads uphill on their heads for hundreds of feet all day long. These things are a positive scandal inside our Colonial Empire.
I would have liked to have said something about agricultural improvement, which is fundamental. The great bulk of the Colonial people are engaged in agriculture, which must be organised. The old individualism, on which we accepted the practice of agriculture in the past and by which we have tolerated certain methods of production, must give way to greater proficiency and productivity from the land. This is of obvious importance, particularly now when the people are ready for practical co-operation. As a result of past propaganda the people are ripe for co-operative enterprise in regard to production, credit and even small industries. If, in Nigeria, we are to face up to the problem in the palm industry and maintain our markets we shall 1261 have to adopt methods other than those which we have pursued in bygone days. I would also, have liked to have said something about the Cameroons, where there has been great neglect in the past and where the officials hardly know what to do next because we have not made up our minds about the future of that territory. That territory is very rich; the plantations which were formerly in German ownership offer a great opportunity for collectivist experiments and co-operative activity. Instead of passing these plantations over to big interests the technicians and those associated with them should be given the opportunity of showing what could be done in the way of co-operative practice. In areas about Voma in Nigeria and in the Gold Coast many officials are anxious to bring about big scale collectivist operations in agriculture.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the importance of small industries. As one moves about the territories of West Africa one is aware of this neglect and the high prices which are imposed on people there because small industries do not operate. It may be said that the Colonies are poor: they are poor because we have not organised the natural resources for the building up of their economic activities. Huge resources are there and with a more forward agricultural policy, and with the utilisation of materials that are available, and the development of some of the products to, be found there—tin, leather and the like—a great many goods required could be made and necessary personal and household needs met on the spot.
I want also to add that we must not, in the economic advancement of the Colonies, develop exclusively economic interests in these areas. We are trustees of these areas. They are not our possessions. We must preserve, in relation to them, the principles of the Mandates and the Congo Declarations. These people have their own rights of trade and they must be safeguarded, and not treated exclusively for our benefit in an Empire bloc. Their economic life needs to be integrated into the larger economic arrangements of the world.
There is a tremendous task awaiting this country after the war to bring contentment and reasonable conditions of living to the 60,000,000 people who are our 1262 responsibility. The Secretary of State reminded us' that many of these people have had tremendous experiences, arising out of the war. Tens of thousands of men have known what good food, housing and health are for the first time; they have been taught English and many thousands have been taught a trade and how to be of practical service in their community. So, here is a great opportunity.
I hope the Development Boards will push forward with their schemes. I hope we shall be able to utilise much of the material which is available in this war in the Colonies—material which will be surplus when the war is over. I hope we shall be able to marry to Colonial resources and to these economic resources the new trained labour which is becoming available. One found, as one moved among Africans, a desire for active participation in the plans and progress of their own country and I do not think we, as a House of Commons, dare ignore that desire. The march of events is with us in the sense that these people are clamouring, with a vigour that cannot be denied for a very genuine participation not only in the life of their own country but in the life of the world. They want to be partners, not merely trustees. They want a share in the making of their countries and it is our privilege to hold out our hands to them and to give them all the help we can in order that their aspirations and hopes shall be achieved.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner (Basingstoke)
Few will have listened to the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of State, who unfolded the story of the massive contribution of the Colonial Empire in this war, without emotion. We must,' indeed, be thankful to Almighty God that in the days when this country stood in mortal peril the whole of the Colonial Empire never hesitated or wavered but has continued its immense, and impressive exertions throughout. What my right hon. and gallant Friend had to say with regard to the war effort of the Colonies assumes a special significance to-day of all days, and I would like to associate myself with what the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) said in that connection.
There is one assurance which I should like my right hon. and gallant Friend to give to the Committee to-day in order to allay some grave misgivings which are 1263 finding continual and growing expression among some of those who care deeply, and certainly know a great deal about, the Colonial Empire. Concern is felt about nothing less than this, namely, lest our whole magnificent experiment in indirect rule should be jeopardised by any failure to go forward with it. This affects a large part of the British Empire, not only many islands in the Pacific, the Shan States, Transjordan, the Protectorates in the Hinterland behind Aden and that much-forgotten island, Sokotra. But it, affects, too, for example, the Emirs of Northern Nigeria, who should be able to look forward to something larger than what we, in this country, call local government. Some of us who have entertained high hopes that these rulers—these Emirs and Kabakas and paramount chiefs—might go forward to some federal participation in the central government; and fear is felt lest the laudable satisfaction of the legitimate ambitions of the Europeanised, but deracinated, African should be allowed to dominate the central stage in each Colony.
I cannot understand how anyone can seriously contend that an ultimately self-governing Nigeria might be allowed to exercise that control over the Northern Emirs which we now exercise through indirect rule. That way, if it means the subjection of Emirates, steeped in all the beliefs, traditions and ways of Islam, to the control of a Europeanised intelligentsia, that way, I believe, lie grave trouble, retardation and reaction. It means the cutting off of the Emirs from their present happy sense of direct relationship with the Crown of England and their subjection to people towards whom, rightly or wrongly, they entertain nothing but measureless contempt. I believe that in the long run that way means grave discontent and unrest in Nigeria, and possibly even revolt and civil war in Nigeria. What is true, or probably true there, is probably true also of many other places. I earnestly beg the Government, therefore, to give the Committee the assurance that the principle of indirect rule shall not be betrayed by any shortsighted restiction of it to local government, but may be allowed to go forward to its proper consummation, when these rulers and their peoples, retaining all the indigenous rights and customs which are precious to 1264 them, may go forward as free, independent units in federal groups m our free commonwealth.
§ Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman make a little clearer what he is trying to convey to the Committee? Is he pronouncing the view that it ought not to be the policy of this Imperial Parliament to encourage its African subjects to look forward to ultimate, responsibility for self-government?
On the contrary: The hon. Member has quite misunderstood what I said; if he reads HANSARD to-morrow he will see clearly what I have said. That great authority on Colonial affairs, Lord Hailey, recently wrote:We, on our part, have become increasingly conscious that we cannot hope to build up political institutions on a foundation of poor resources, of insufficient health or of undeveloped minds.Many will agree with Lord Hailey that economic development is an essential preliminary to an increasing association with the responsibilities of government. The war fortunately has stimulated the processing of export produce in many Colonies. If, in addition, the manufacture of articles for local consumption, composed entirely or chiefly of local materials, can be fostered, than all this productive capacity should enable local banks in many Colonies to extend credits based on the savings of the people. In that way a long step forward will have been taken towards raising the standard of living of the Colonial inhabitants. It is true that the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940 modified the old principle that a Colony should enjoy only those services which it could afford to maintain out of its own resources, a principle which, more than any other single factor, has hampered development in the Colonies.
The Government have now accepted the new principle that it is the duty of the British taxpayer to provide money, over a substantial period of years, for Colonial development beyond that which a Colony can initiate out of its own resources. While the new principle is clearly an improvement on the old one and constitutes an important advance on earlier conceptions, nevertheless the restrictive effects of mere Government action have not been in my submission sufficiently realised. This new principle, like the now discarded 1265 doctrine that every Colony must pay its way, it itself limited to sum x, in other words to the total amount which the British Government and taxpayer are able and willing to pay for welfare, health, communications and other services overseas.
Thus a limit is fixed to the pace and extent of Colonial development in so far as that development depends on this country, whereas surely Colonial development should proceed along the lines and at the pace which best fit the circumstances, needs and aspirations of the Colonial inhabitants. This is not possible of realisation so long as Government and Parliament are content only to think in terms of State assistance and State enterprise because the urgent needs of the Colonies are greater than the British Government and taxpayer are, or can be, expected to meet. It seems certain therefore that the main problem lies in the creation by Government of such conditions in the Colonies as will attract long-term capital. I need not labour this, but in connection with mandated territories and other areas affected by open door treaties, I would especially remind the Committee of the need of most of our dependencies the world over of long-term capital for the purpose of building up primary and secondary industries; and the real need that Colonies shall not be neglected or allowed to, become the prey of short-term, exploiting capital, interested only in particular crops or ephemeral market opportunities and not anxious to assume more permanent obligations whether of a legal or of a moral kind towards the Colonial inhabitants.
It would be most helpful if the Government could make certain unequivocal declarations as to their future intentions—if, for instance, the Government would declare that any new private enterprise or-initiative in the Colonies shall not be impeded by the imposition of Excise Duties during the initial period, say, for five years. Secondly, that State interference with new industries will be limited to the control of hours, wages, and conditions of work, that the Government will not prejudice their industrial impartiality by becoming sleeping partners in industry; thirdly, that wherever secondary industries are necessary to meet local needs credit facilities will be sympathetically and carefully considered; and, lastly, that the Government will give 1266 protection against dumping from abroad and unfair competition from articles produced by sweated labour, notably Japanese. I plead for conditions of assured stability and for considerable freedom from unpredictable taxation. The Committee will agree that it is important to get away from the one-crop idea and to stimulate secondary industries and processing. In that connection surely Dominion advice should be sought, for it is the Dominions which by the ingenious use of tariffs have most successfully diversified industry.
To abbreviate extremely an economic argument which should perhaps be stated fully in all its stages, it may be said that any tariff or Imperial preference has certain effects: it restricts by keeping out dumped goods and removing many uncertainties. Secondly, it attracts capital by offering long-term inducements to it to enter the territory; and, thirdly, it trans forms the new and existing capital from a short-term basis to a long-term basis, which by its nature is kinder to labour, giving labour a more permanent deal. If I might give an illustration which brings out the outstandingly different effects created by the operations of short-term capital on the one hand, and long-term capital on the other, it would be this: I was once given a vivid description of a Scottish manager on an estate in Ceylon who was entirely concerned with what would influence his board of directors in declaring their next dividend because the capital of that company was short-term capital, and short-sighted because it was unprotected by a tariff., That manager honestly dispensed to his Tamil labourers such medical and other benefits as were enjoined by law, but he provided nothing to build up on a long-term basis the health, housing and happiness of his labourers because the company had no idea what price their product would obtain five years or even two years hence.
I carry in my mind another picture, which I saw with my own eyes, of settlers in another Colony carrying on in difficult times steadily building up the health of their labourers even though any benefit which might accrue to themselves might be years off because those settlers had sunk their little all in that country, had identified themselves with the country and had in effect become long-term capitalists with long-term views, an attitude in which they were actively helped 1267 and supported by an Imperial preference. I do not, therefore, hesitate to ask Government to use tariffs prudently and to grant wherever necessary Imperial preference, bearing in mind not only the good effects which such a policy would have on the Colonies and on this country but bearing in mind also the radiating stimulus on international trade of areas of stability created by the long-term capital encouraged by preference systems. The first stage then to which we can look forward in the Colonial Empire is economic development, and the second, and later, stage is political advancement. Modern conditions may well require the closer integration of territories adjacent to one another. Modern conditions indeed may well require the merging in many ways of smaller units into greater units, both politically and economically, including the needs of research and in order also to avoid over-lapping.
It is not my purpose to-day to discuss the great formative principle of regionalisation but I would welcome my right hon. Friend's constructive suggestions in this connection which he made last July. We mnst be very clear in our policy as to the limits of the competence of any regional councils or commissions or conferences which may be set up in any regions which include British Colonies. There are really two kinds of conferences involved—conferences of British Colonies, in any given area, such as the West Indies or West Africa or South East Asia, and conferences in the same areas including the dependencies and such other countries as may exist in the area such as, for instance, the French dependencies in the Caribbean and in West Africa. I believe it is essential that there should always be primary consultation between British Colonies in the area before any subject is discussed at the larger regional conference. I do not think it would be right, or even possible, to attempt an allocation of subjects between them, allotting, for instance, tariffs, seaborne trade, refugees and questions of nationality to the regional Imperial conference and leaving such questions as commercial flying routes, cables and wireless to the larger regional conference. That would involve an utterly impossible division of, for example, transport. The problems Of commercial flying cannot any longer be 1268 divorced from the problem of seaborne traffic.
There is, I believe, a very real danger lest subjects in which particular Colonies are vitally interested, and on which there may be a division of opinion not only within each Colony, but between Colonies, or between a Colony and a Dominion, or the Home Country, and a Colony, should be brought prematurely before a regional conference in a way which may very well happen unfortunately in time of war, and there be decided out of hand without sufficient prior inter-Imperial consultation. I suggest, therefore, that the Empire should not be represented on any permanent regional conference in any part of the world without first setting up a regional Imperial conference and arranging for automatic meetings of this before the sessions of the larger body. I attach much more than merely commercial importance to this. I believe this to be essential to the sound development of any true self-government in British dependencies anywhere. I believe this to be essential to Empire unity; more, I believe this essential to the self-respect and dignity of every Colony which falls within the sphere of such regional conferences.
The point at issue may be easily overlooked owing to the non-executive and advisory character of these conferences. It is perfectly true that, technically, they will be non-executive and advisory in character, and it is true also that the representatives of individual Colonies, and particularly the technical representatives, can only act in an advisory way. But in one form or another, the sovereign powers of the metropolitan countries will be present at all such conferences, and those sovereign metropolitan powers are subject to, or approached by, influences of all kinds on behalf of particular interests which do not always by any means see eye to eye with local interests or with the wishes of the Colonies concerned. If the suggestion is adopted that regional Imperial conferences must at all times sit before the sessions of the larger body, this danger is met, in so far as it can be met, by giving the Colonial peoples an opportunity of consultation and of stating their case.
May I say one word about self-respect? Reference has not infrequently been made in this House to the touchiness of Indian politicians. That is a quality which is by no means confined to them. It has 1269 been noted in, for instance, British Guiana, Fiji, and Sierra Leone. I suggest that one of the supreme needs of almost all the peoples of our dependent Empire is the need of self-respect—the need of pride in the position of their Colony and of themselves in the Empire and in. the world; and, above all, the need of a feeling of real fellowship among the Colonies, and between the Colonies, and between the Colonies, India, the Home Country and the Dominions, which will, I hope, in the future participate in the development of the Colonial Empire to an, extent hitherto unknown.
In conclusion, I should like to put forward two further constructive suggestions. Self-government is not enough. Self-government must be based upon self-respect, and self-respect must be founded on fellowship. I believe that Imperial fellowship, the foundation of it all, should be incorporated in any general statement devised to tell the world of our aims for the Colonial Empire. I-believe that we should foster pride in Empire citizenship, and that the Colonies should be encouraged for this, as for other ends, to take more responsibility for and share in their defence. I should like to see Home Guards in every Colony, with annual ceremonies here in the heart of the Empire where representatives of these forces might take part.
There has been too much thinking of self-government in purely economic and material terms. After all, men do not live by bread alone, nor do groups or corporations of men collected into colonies or empires. The, moral welfare and progress of the backward lands is of no less consequence than their material welfare, and in that moral progress there is no need requiring more insistently to be met than the need of self-respect which can come, as I see it, best, if not alone, by an enhanced realisation of common membership, and above all of common fellowship in what is, after all, the most enlightened, and the greatest, Empire the world has ever known.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman began his speech to-day by lamenting the fact that it is almost a year since the last Debate on Colonial affairs and that, even despite that long period of silence, only one day was now allotted for the purpose. In that complaint I feel sure he has the 1270 warm sympathy of all parts of the Committee—certainly of all those Members who have at any time visited the Colonies or had any connection with them. Those of us who have had the privilege recently to visit parts of the Empire know very well with what immense respect, one would almost say reverence, those members of our Colonial Empire look towards us. They regard the actions of Members of this House of Commons as of the very highest importance to them, and they are very often surprised by the fact that we so seldom, apparently, pause to consider the fortunes of those enormous territories for which this House is directly responsible. I think we might take a tip from the Scottish Members of this House. Throughout the years we have agitated for more time for the consideration of our business. We have not always got what we, wanted, but we have a little more than we had when I first came to this House. I think one day is ridiculously short for the Colonies. A week would not be too long. Die more we, as a Committee, represent to the Government that these vast territories and these millions of people for whom we are responsible demand the more frequent attention of this House, the more truly shall we be performing our duty.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman then proceeded to comment on the value of visits to the Colonies. As a very humble member of the delegation which went to the West Indies, may I say that my experience there was that we were welcomed in a most amazing fashion, not because of ourselves, but because we were representatives of this ancient, honourable, and historic Assembly. What I gained from that visit I can scarcely say; what Parliament gained by the fact that four of its Members went there is something very considerable. What the Colonies gained was also, I hope, worth while. After the war it ought to become an annual event for many Members of Parliament to exchange visits—both from this country to the Colonies and from the Colonies to this country. There ought to be proper machinery created by which these visits are made: if that were so, we should have less of those reckless, and often mischievous Questions asked here which wound the Colonies and disgrace the good name and good sense of this House.
1271 My right hon. and gallant-Friend spent the greater part of his-time describing some very interesting proposals which he has for the administration of the future development of the Colonies. I am bound to say at once that I warmly support my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain Macdonald) in expressing regret that the Secretary of State is not able to accept the proposal to form a Colonial Development Council. I am sure that the Committees which my right hon. and gallant Friend described are all adequate, and one knows he has upon them some of the most distinguished citizens of this country, and, indeed, of the Empire; but surety these Committees are, by their very formation, individual committees, separate committees. What I and others in this Committee feel is that a larger body, containing all those various specialist committees, should be created to form a solid, lasting body of opinion which would continue throughout the years, no matter whether my fight hon. and gallant Friend is Secretary of State or somebody else is. It is that larger, more lasting organisation, for which we ask. We do not expect that it shall be executive. We ask only that it shall be advisory as are the present committees, but I should like to see these advisory committees brought into a more solid organisation which would be permanent and would follow a sustained policy.
No. I was referring to the Advisory Council: I was not expressing my view on the proposed Parliamentary Committee. Upon that I see great constitutional difficulties. I have not persuaded myself that this is possible in the way the House works here.
My right hon. and gallant Friend then told us of the very big plans he was preparing for the post-war period, and I gained the impression that he has very considerable and most laudable ambitions. No doubt he has before him the information which we could have offered with regard to the West Indies and which others could have offered with regard to other parts of the Empire on the growing need for social and economic reforms—health, housing, education, agriculture and so on. He has very great ambitions 1272 to cope with those matters, but I rather gathered fro in his remarks that his method of achieving those desirable objects was, largely, the pouring of British money into the coffers of those Colonial Administrations. He said that £5,000,000 was no use. Even £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 might not be enough. I quite agree with that. What we saw in the West Indies makes £5,000,000 per annum seem paltry for that territory alone. I agree that vastly increased sums are wanted, and I was immensely glad to see the spirit which animates my right hon. and gallant Friend. Clearly he is a man of great energy and determination who means to make a great success of this Empire of ours. But he slightly disappointed me, if I may say so, in that he did not say upon what principles that constant and increasing flow of grants is to be made. It is most important that this House should know what those principles are. It is also vitally important for the Colonies to know.
Let me explain what is in my mind. Every Colony we visited in the West Indies is naturally striving for self-government. Jamaica is now to have universal franchise, which is a considerable step forward, and no doubt there will sooner or later be a demand in that island for a greater measure of self-government—a perfectly laudible demand in due time. My right hon. and gallant Friend has rightly said that the aim of British policy is gradually, and as quickly as possible, to let the native peoples run themselves. But they cannot become self-governing Colonies, or Dominions, or whatever we like to call them, if they are constantly to be dependent upon funds flowing from this country for the maintenance of their essential services. The two things are utterly inconsistent. That is why I would like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to explain the principles on which these grants are intended to be made. If they are intended for large capital works designed to make the Colonies ultimately self-supporting economically—or very nearly so—I would say, "Well done," for that is what they, need. If, however, any large proportion of these grants is merely intended to meet recurrent annual expenses of the Colonies, then, indeed, we are tying a stone round the necks of the Colonies which they can never cast off; and unless they cast it off they can never be independent.
1273 What, therefore, is the principle on which my right hon. and gallant Friend is proceeding? What are the categories of capital works needed in the Colonies? Take British Guiana as an example. That country has a coastal strip of ten miles where the majority of the people live, and the land is mostly lower than sea level. Life can only be maintained, therefore, by the erection and maintenance of a great sea defence wall. At the same time, the country is periodically flooded by its great rivers so that a drainage problem also arises. These are fundamental and lasting commitments. They are undertakings for which the Mother Country could properly pay, because they are things that lie at the basis of the country's life. Similarly, there is a crying need for the opening up of the interior. There are no roads or railways in the interior. There are not even effective tracks and the rivers go only in a certain direction. The result is that when pioneers have attempted to build up a cattle industry in the savanna country hundreds of miles inland, the cattle die in their hundreds when proceeding to the coastal markets. Roads and communications are essential capital developments which the Mother Country could properly undertake. If that is the principle on which my right hon. and gallant Friend is working then I agree with him.
It is not, however, all so easy as that. Take, for example, the problem of education. Everybody will agree that a greatly increased system of education is desirable in all the Colonies. One must ask my right hon. and gallant Friend, as he must ask himself, what kind of education is it proposed to support and encourage and, therefore, to pay for? Is it to be an education exactly like we have in this country, with the same kind of teachers, the same qualifications, the same sort of buildings, or is it to be an education suited to the needs of each Colony? If it is the first my right hon. and gallant Friend will plumb the very depths of the funds of this country and he will never gain success. He may pour millions into the Colonies, but he will never get contentment. If he decides, that the system of education needed is quite different from the education we have in this country, that it must be related 'to the economic, social and geographical conditions in which the people live, my right hon. and gallant Friend will find that his expenditure is 1274 considerably less, with quicker and more effective results.
§ Coloned Stanley
My hon. Friend will no doubt have in mind the full statement I made a year ago when we were discussing this point on the Stockdale Report?
I do not forget that, but my right hon. and gallant Friend has given us to-day the privilege of peeping behind the curtains at his plans for the future, and I am merely asking him to tell us on what principle he is working. I say in regard to education, which. I give merely as an example, that it is important, if we are to finance it, that we should be clear that it is the kind of education suited to the Colony concerned and not education carted out holus bolus from here. The problem is not even solved by saying that. If you insist upon much bigger and more fully equipped schools, the capital expenditure of which might conceivably be borne by the British Exchequer, the recurrent cost to the local Government concerned will be proportionally larger. The local Government may not be able to carry the annual cost involved in these massive schemes. Are we, then, to bear the burden of the annual cost? If we do we shall delay indefinitely the granting of self-government to the various Colonies. Therefore, I think I am entitled to invite my right hon. and gallant Friend to make as full a statement as possible on the principles on which he intends the grants shall be made.
Finally, may I say a word in confirmation of the introductory passage of my right hon. and gallant Friend's speech, in which he told us of the staggering demonstrations of loyalty of members of the Colonial Empire in different theatres of war. We found in the West Indies one major regret everyhere. It was that more of the men had not been able to give their services in the actual field of battle. Nothing depressed them more than the fact that their regiment had not been sent to the- fighting front. In every Colony we visited we came across young men whose hearts were nearly broken because they were confined to some duty in the island. It was some consolation to hear to-day that a Caribbean battalion is proceeding to a theatre of war. As I said a few weeks ago in the Debate on the Empire, we saw everwhere, even among the ranks of the critics—and some of the critics were very 1275 critical—what I called then and call again, blazing loyalty for this Empire, this country and this country's King. It was a most stirring experience for us, and it made me convinced that, if I did nothing else for the rest of my days than succeed on my return here in winning for the Colonies the place they deserve in this great Commonwealth and Empire, I Should indeed have done well.
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies (Heywood and Radcliffe)
There is at least one thing in which I can agree with my hon. Friend who has just spoken and that is that the time allotted to this Debate is all too short, but with him I would like to see a greater economic development of the Colonial Empire. With this in view I will confine my remarks to simple and practical things and to one corner of the Colonial Empire, West Africa, which is perhaps the nearest to us. I do not think that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will disagree with me when I say that agricultural exports and produce are more important to our Colonies than their mineral wealth. For a moment I am going to talk about palm oil. I should tell the Committee that, normally, I use palm oil and I buy palm oil, and that I have made an honest penny or two in speculating in palm oil like other people. I now want to put one or two simple figures before the Committee. In 1911, not a long way back, West Africa, British territory, exported 90,000 tons. of palm oil a year. At that time palm oil was not exported, for all practical purposes, from any other part of the globe. The oil palm is indigenous to West Africa. Just about that year, as a young man, I was sent to Belgium. At Antwerp I had to make sure that a cask of palm oil came off the boat. It was the first cask of Congo palm oil shipped to Europe. I had to make this palm oil into soap at Brussels to be exhibited at the Brussels Exhibition and to be presented to the King of the Belgians. With our primitive knowledge of bleaching palm oil at that time, we thought that about 8 per cent. of the fat was the most we could use, or about 5 per cent. of the soap. Of course, it is a very different story today.
The right hon. Gentleman said that West Africa is supplying 40 per cent. of our total fat requirements. I think he 1276 will agree that probably oni4hird of it is in palm oil and that the other two-thirds are probably kernel oil. Palm kernels went largely to Germany before the war. Here is my tale: In 1911, West Africa exported 90,000 tons of palm oil. What is happening to-day? In the year 1943—and I give these figures from commercial records, although the Minister of Food tells me that it is against public security to give them to the Committee, but I will take that risk—
§ Colonel Stanley
I do not know whether I might intervene for a moment, Mr. Williams, to ask the hon. Member a question. Do I understand that he is now proceeding to give to the Committee figures which the Minister of Food, on grounds of national security, has asked him not to give?
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies
They are published in Hancock's book on the economic position of the Empire, and have been published for two years.
§ Colonel Stanley
The hon. Gentleman has given figures for 1943. I fail to see how they could have been published for two years, unless Professor Hancock is also a prophet.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
This is where I come in. Perhaps, on the whole, the hon. Gentleman, who is giving those figures, would not wish to give away anything, so perhaps he might cut them out as I am certain he would not wish to give any information away.
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies
Thank you, Mr. Williams, L can get over the difficulty by going back-to the year 1939, which will do for my purpose. In that year we exported from our West African possessions between 140,000 and 150,000 tons of palm oil. Our trade had increased 50 to 60 per cent. In the intervening period of 30 years, however, the Dutch had reached an annual export of 226,000 tons from their Eastern possessions. The French West African possessions exported 24,000 tons, and the Belgian Congo, 90,000 to 100,000 tons a year. By sticking to the 1939 figures, I cannot offend anybody. This is a most important matter. We have lost a trade to our Allies. I am one of those who have pleaded for scientific research, but I have pleaded for it plus ordinary commonsense. I want to point out to my right hon. and gallant Friend that here is 1277 a trade of vast importance which will surely be lost if something is not done in several directions. West Africa has exported largely three classes of oil. They are known as softs, mediums, and hard palm oils. Those classifications are based on the purity or on the decomposition which has taken place. The soft oil is sold on a basis of 18 per cent. free fatty acids. The medium 35 per cent., while the hard oil contains a very high percentage, up to 90 per cent. The latter oil, coming from West Africa to-day, ought never to occupy space in British ships. If it is imported for war purposes it ought to be left where it is, because it does not contain any of the vital matter which my right hon. and gallant Friend and I know something about.
What has happened? The Dutchmen have planted this oil palm in Sumatra. It could be bought on the open market with a guarantee that it contained less than five per cent, of fatty acids. Nigeria, in its wisdom, rejected plantations. British firms wanted to plant the palm in Nigeria but went to the Congo. The Congo and Sumatra are doing something to-day which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman wants to do, which is to produce a thing in steady supply and of steady quality. I think I have said enough to indicate that this is a matter which really needs looking into. I would like to ask my right hon. and gallant Friend if the decision to allow no commercial planting in Nigeria is a law of the Medes and Persians and cannot be changed. I am not one of those who want to hand over that territory to the people who plant in Sumatra and would like to plant in British West Africa as well as planting in the Congo. They are people of several nationalities. Could not we put some money into this industry, could we not go into plant breeding in order to improve the oil palm? My right hon. and gallant Friend is aware that we can get better yields. In Sumatra, they get 90 per cent. on expressing, while the native in West Africa gets about 50 per cent. yield. I understand that my right hon. and gallant Friend or somebody is purchasing hand presses to deal with this thing, hand presses which so far as I know are not going from this country, which is the greatest engineering country in the world. I believe they originated in Luxemburg.
Several things must be done: improvement in breeding plants as our friends in 1278 Palestine have improved the citrus; fencing might be given to these people: above all manures must be given to them. They cannot go on scratching God's earth, taking all the good out of it and going to another spot. We must have some control of this agriculture. I beg pardon for detaining the. Committee over this, but it is most vital to the future of West Africa.
I wish to refer to one other point, the report of the Colonial Research Committee and the Colonial Products Research Council also. Everybody will admit that the talent is enormous, it is the best that can be got, but I for one am very dissatisfied. This Colonial Products Research Council met six times last year; that is not enough. Eminent as this committee is I suggest that most of the research is not such as you can run a Colonial Empire on. They are to start timber research. I would like to know from my right hon. and gallant Friend whether he will receive advice from other Ministries, because it is exactly four years since I went to the Ministry of Food and tried to persuade them that wood and straw, wood particularly at that time, could be used in the manner which this Report suggests. The experts turned it down completely flat. In this House when someone suggested burning wood for London I suggested "Why not convert it into food; why not convert it into alcohol?" This I suggest has already largely been done. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will apply to the Minister of Agriculture he will find that cattle in Cambridge and the Midland Agricultural College have already been successfully fed on cellulose which has been totally substituted for the starch content of their food. From effluent liquors from straw we have fed chickens—not ordinary chickens, but pedigree ones—and I am glad to note the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is encouraging this research, and perhaps in the sunny Colonial Empire not so much cold, icy water will be poured on new ideas. I will forward the results of this investigation. I beg the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to tell us if the technical information of the Government generally is used and passed round to everyone. There are many things I would like to say, and I hope we shall have other Colonial Debates, but for the moment I will be content with what I think are a few practical remarks.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Ishington, North)
I will not follow the hon. Member into his disquisition on, the fatty acid content of the oils of West Africa in comparison with Sumatra, except to the extent of saying that there is no solution to the question of the future oil supply of the world by very largely increasing the supply from West Africa. The only solution is in a world control to secure an adequate price level all over the world, which is a rational and commonsense thing, and which would do a very great deal to level out a lot of the troubles in West Africa itself. I hope the Colonial Secretary will, when he replies, deal with the point raised by the hon. Member who was advocating a plantation system for the oil palm in West Africa. An extension of plantations is, I understand, definitely looked at very coldly by the Colonial Office. It would involve an attack on the communal land rights of the African population, and would certainly create a very great deal of undesirable controversy without being particularly beneficial to the oil industry. May I recommend the hon. Member who is interested in scientific research to take a look at recently published technical reports of the Western African Commission, of which I was a member, in which he will see a report by scientific experts on a very large plantation in the Cameroons. In that they say coldly and scientifically that it is very doubtful indeed whether such a plantation is economically useful, because of the large overheads, in competition with the native African production, which seems to be, under the conditions existing in West Africa, the better method of producing palm oil, even from the purely commercial point of view.
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies
I have read the report to which the hon. Member refers with great interest, but we must try to get this thing right. Would he agree that the price of palm oil has fallen from £90 a ton in 1920 to £12 in 1939, and that that has been entirely due to the competition of good oil from Sumatra and the Belgian Congo?
I do not think that it is entirely a question of good oil, but that there is a large amount of oil in the world, and in such circumstances which apply to other commodities—take wheat as a similar example—unless the world price is 1280 regulated there are slumps and products are sold at uneconomic prices. But I do not want to follow that too far, as it is only a detail and a side issue in this Debate.
I want to say to the Colonial Secretary that I was quite frankly rather disappointed with his statement. He spoke of great plans for development in the future, but he did not outline the great plans. It is no good leaving Colonial development to individual Colonies without some general directions very much more definite and very much more specific than he laid down. Also, may I say that it is really time we gave up the habit of trying to discuss the whole Colonial Empire together as though it was all the same thing. Take one group of the Colonies—Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, Singapore and Hong Kong. What relation have the problems of these Colonies to tropical West Africa? The answer is, for practical purposes, none at all.
Then you have another group of Colonies, the Caribbean area, including the West Indies and other adjacent islands and portions of the American Continent. The problems of this area, which consists largely of islands originally populated by slaves, uprooted from their native land, subjected to altogether artificial conditions by a white planter population, are quite different from those of West Africa and East Africa, where the predominant form of life and social organisation is that of the Negro and Bantu people. There you have an organised form of life, which gives moral, political, and social sanctions on the lines of Negro and Bantu life, but in the Caribbean Colonies the social and moral sanctions are very often nonexistent, because the origin of these peoples is slavery, and slavery has meant the demoralisation of the people to a large extent. Whatever the reasons, the Carib-bean and tropical African, areas are two very different kettles of fish. Then there is another area, the Malayan and Pacific area, which we have to leave out altogether at the present time, because it is in the Japanese sphere of influence, and we do not know how long it will last, nor-do we know in what state those Colonies will be when we resume our trusteeship for them. We cannot at present plan for them. In the Caribbean area, as one hon. Member said, the problems are really problems of rehabilitation.
1281 A lot of the information for which the hon. Member was asking the Colonial Secretary is to be found in the White Paper on the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, which came out just before the Recess. That White Paper indicates that the money from the Fund is being directed very largely to the improvement of agriculture, the improvement of nutrition, and the improvement of medical services, all those three things being very closely linked together. That indicates a definite and clear plan. I wish that my right hon. and gallant Friend had followed that plan more closely, and had dealt more specifically with, for instance, the agricultural recommendations, which are embodied in the statement of the moneys to be spent on various aspects of work. If he had done that, we should have got a clearer picture of what is in his mind. I do not quite know what we can do at present, beyond laying down certain general lines for the improvement of nutrition in all the Colonial areas, particularly in Africa, the improvement of health, the improvement of understanding of life, by mass education and a campaign against mass illiteracy, and by a definite study of the conditions of the country, to determine what kinds of industry it would be to the advantage of the inhabitants to set up. In Nigeria at present, for instance, there is very little industry. A soap works, some making of clothing, the engineering works of the Nigerian railway, which employ a considerable number of men, embrace the industries of Nigeria. All the capital goods are imported from overseas. How far is it going to be to the advantage of the Nigerian people to introduce secondary industries? I think that the matter of industrialisation ought to be studied entirely from that point of view.
I am rather alarmed at suggestions, which have been made in the Debate, that there should he a very considerable commercial development of the Colonies, primarily for the benefit of the investors in this country and other countries. If that is done, you win have chaos in the Colonial Empire, because you have snot any definite policy laid down at present by the Colonial Office as to the method of transition of the African people—they are the people mostly in my mind, and I will speak of them only from now on—from their present condition to a condition in which they have secondary industries and, the larger capital industries, in which, in 1282 fact, they take a place in life exactly comparable to the place taken by ourselves. How are they to change from one condition to the other? It would be the easiest thing in the world to introduce large-scale capital exploitation into, tropical Africa, to take the people away from their farms and send them into the mines and other industries—which would get large profits for those industries, and would turn the whole of tropical Africa into an appalling slum. That has been done to a considerable extent in a comparable area in South Africa. The native locations attached to the large towns in South Africa are appalling slums, where the death rate is terribly high. To introduce that sort of thing in West Africa would be extremely undesirable. I hope that we shall get an unqualified assurance from my right hon. and gallant Friend that the present Government policy of maintaining the communal land tenure of the African in Nigeria, and in West Africa generally, will be maintained until, by agreement with them, that present land ownership is broadened into what we in this country would call nationalisation of the land, and until there is an economic policy designed to benefit those people in tropical Africa, and not merely to benefit investors in this country.
I believe that we can lay down a general line of policy for tropical Africa. I would ask hon. Members, if they carry the map of Africa in their minds, to direct their attention to that map, and to think of the four West African Colonies and the East African Colonies, stretching from the West coast to the East coast, and add up the populations in those Colonies. They will find that there is a total population in East and West Africa of considerably over 40,000,000 human beings, many of them, particularly the people in Northern Nigeria, at a relatively high standard of civilisation. They are not primitive bar-barians, dancing round cannibal fires. They are, especially in Northern Nigeria, cultivated people. They are well-developed people, carrying on their own forms of government, under the system of indirect rule, in a very interesting and extremely progressive way. I believe that, in the populations of West and East Africa combined, in that enormous area stretching across Africa, which has, by the way, not been wholly surveyed, there are the human population and the natural resources available to create a great black civilisation, and we could do it if we had, 1283 in this British Empire, the same vision as they had in the Soviet Union. We could, in 20 years' time, produce the same effects in that area as the Soviet Union has produced in the European parts of the Union in the 25 years or so since the Soviet Revolution took place.
§ Sir Alfred Beit (St. Pancras, South-East)
How would that be possible, when the West African, Colonies are not contiguous and are not bordering upon the other African Colonies?
I must remind the hon. Member, with his great interest in civil aviation, that the development of the airways of the world will render all questions of immediate contiguity not of the same importance as before. I agree that the Soviet Union had the immense advantage of being within one land frontier, but the fact that the British Empire is not within one land frontier has not prevented us from developing a form of organisation—the British Commonwealth and Colonies—for which I believe the hon. Member has as much admiration as I have myself. I think we could extend it. I think there is no geographical reason why we should not have federation of the East and West African Colonies economically and politically to the advantage of the populations.
The Colonial Secretary said we wanted a five years' plan. Why not make it a one-generation plan of 20 years—a five-year plan, then another, and another, and another, until there is a 20 years' plan for the development of tropical Africa? We have splendid human material. I do not wish to go through the list of the different tribes, but they are, on the whole, extremely good human material. They are, in fact, exactly comparable with the human material which the Soviet authorities found in Central Asia and in the Soviet Union when they came to power. Some of those people were at that time nomads and some were entirely illiterate, while others had even no methods of writing. Some had no education at all. By help and proper planning and the organisation of economic resources for their benefit, the Soviet Union, out of people as primitive as those in tropical Africa, made that mighty Power of which we are now seeing the strength on the front against the Germans. The people who are now fighting the Germans 1284 were, 20 years ago, as primitive as some 6f these people now are in West Africa. I think that any authority on the Soviet Union would agree that that is a statement of fact.
I think, therefore, that when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman congratulated the Colonial troops on their great work —and I am very glad to associate myself with it—I could only feel that it is a pity we had not more of their co-operation, for we might have had even mightier armies and greater help from them in this present war. We have not been using them, we have been neglecting the Colonial people for a long time, and at the present time that neglect is still going on. When I was in West Africa some time ago I visited some gold mines on the Gold Coast. On most occasions when I was in West Africa I was staying with chief officials, which, I felt, took me a little away from mixing as freely as I wanted with the ordinary people. I happened to know a medical officer of one of the mines, and on this occasion I stayed with him in a very dirty bungalow which was not at all well protected against mosquitoes and other insects, but I saw, from the medical officer's level, what the condition of the mine was. I have never seen- worse housing, worse moral and economic conditions anywhere than amongst these employees of the gold mines—a perfectly abominable thing. That kind of thing is not being attended to. The Government say they are not able to do anything, and the mine-owners themselves were not doing anything,' and both said that it was the other person's business. The same kind of thing exists in other industries.
We should put before ourselves a very simple objective in our Colonial policy, for I cannot see that we have any right to say to the people of West Africa that we will offer them any other status than exactly the same as we hope to give to our own people. I would like us to say to West Africa: "We are going to look after you and deal with your diseases and your lack of education and all your other social and economic problems just in the same way as we deal with the problems of Lancashire; or Scotland, or Wales or any other part of this country, on, a footing of absolute equality." I put economic and social things first. I do not say that our political system, which I sometimes think is very odd, even in this country, is going 1285 to apply to West Africa, The West Africans have their own tribes and societies and their own attitude to life, but I think that if we build up the economic foundation on which they are living, improve their nutrition and health —and may I say in passim that there is nothing in the health conditions in West Africa that cannot be completely eliminated in a 20-year period—then we could develop political institutions out of their economic response to their environment which would enable them to express themselves in, the way they want to.
I would refer, in conclusion, to the remarks, with which I agree, which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman made about the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. You do not want to take all the expenses out of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. It is not necessary. There is an immense amount of wealth in West Africa—diamonds, gold, other metals, oil and so forth—but most of it goes out to shareholders in this or other countries. It does not remain in the country. It should remain in the country. There should be a tax on any invested money there and that tax should be left in the colony for the benefit of that colony. I believe that future industrial developments should not be in private hands, excepting perhaps cases of temporary concessions, but should be conducted by the Government in order that the whole value of the gold mines should accrue to the country. What of the new gold mines at Ilorin? Are they going to be given away, to some concessionaires, who will, in return for some minor payment, get the possibility of very great wealth for those who invest money in them? It is ridiculous to throw away the natural resources of Nigeria in that Way and it should not be done.
I notice with interest that one of the items in this list of expenditure under the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund relates to what is to be spent under the heading of scientific research and includes a geological survey. Of course, it can technically come under scientific research, but surely it would be better placed in the category of development. The first thing you want to know, when you are going to develop a country on a big scale, is about its resources, and this is not a question of research. I believe that if 1286 the Colonial Secretary will bring in a 20-year Or one-generation plan very, shortly, and will try to emulate the successes of the Soviet Union by making out of East and West Africa a tremendous tropical African Union, in which the standards of life would be raised high, and all industrial production and social and political solidarity raised as high as it has been in the Soviet Union, he would do something that would appeal to the whole of the British Empire. It would appeal to the whole of our people and to the whole of the world, and would be a worthy step forward in our organisation of Empire.
§ Mr. Astor (Fulham, East)
The Debate so far has been mainly concerned with the West Indies and Africa. I propose to devote a few minutes to that part of our Colonial Empire which lies in Asia. Although the African part of our Empire occupies the greater portion on the map, our Far Eastern possessions are of immense importance, politically, economically and strategically. They are politically, because it is there that we impinge on three of the great forces of the world —China, India and the whole Moslem world. The Straits Settlements are important economically because the Straits alone offer trade equal to that of all the British Colonies in Africa put together. They produce 40 per cent. of the world's rubber and 30 per cent. of the world's tin. A great deal of this went to America. It is going to be of vital importance in the trade relations of the sterling Empire vis-à-vis America to get this great economic asset into action again if we are to raise the standard of life of the whole Empire.
§ Mr. Astor
At least 40 per cent. If it is more, it strengthens my argument and I thank the hon. Member. It is also a great political testing place. The difficulties of "plural communities" are, indeed, most acute in the Straits Settlements, where the Malay population only forms 42 per cent. of the inhabitants, the Chinese also 42 per cent, and where the Indian immigrants are 14 per cent. There are these 1287 three nationalities, not only of different nations but different in culture and religion—the Malays Moslem, the Chinese Buddhist, the Indians Hindu—and it would appear to be almost impossible that they will ever mix. Not only that, a large proportion of the Chinese and Indians come in to make a living and then return to their own countries. They bring their own nationalisms With them. The Chinese have branches of Kuomintang in Singapore and the Indians come with the protection of the Government of India.
These are Colonial possessions not only of importance but in which we can take great pride: We are there by invitation, as the Malay Sultans invited the Colonial Office to send British officials to help them in the task of government. And indirect rule, government by advice, was worked out long before it started in Africa. We are going to be faced, on going back to these Colonies, with the same type of problem as the refugee European Governments may be facing very shortly in Europe. All the gratuitous advice which we are pouring out on the French, the Belgians, the Dutch, the Norwegians and the Italians, telling them what to do when they go back to their own countries, will apply to us and they may well turn round and give us a dose of our own medicine. I do not think that we need worry that these people are likely to be won over by the Japanese. They will probably be hungry under Jap rule. The Straits Settlements are not self-supporting from the point of view of food and used to get rice from Siam, Indo-China and Burma, and this may well be cut off. Secondly, the Japanese have turned a portion of the Malay States over to Siam, which will be most unpopular. Thirdly, the Japanese are harsh rulers. I have seen a certain amount of Japanese Colonial rule and seldom a happy face in a Japanese Colony.
When we recapture this Colony we shall have, first, the problem of bringing in food which suits the native stomach, and secondly the political problem of how to deal with those who have submitted to Japanese rule. The Colonial Secretary might get some advice from a letter which the Duke of Wellington sent to the Foreign Secretary of Spain on nth June, 1813, when we were re-occupying Spain. The Foreign Secretary of Spain had the good old Spanish name of Don Juan 1288 O Donoju. The Duke pleaded that the returning Spanish Government should pursue a magnanimous policy and forgive thosewho had been induced by terror, distress or despairto submit themselves to the French andto reflect upon the numerous and almost invariable disasters of the Armies and upon the ruin and disorganisation which followed, and then decide whether those who were witnesses of these events were guilty because they did not foresee what has since occurred.The Duke went on to say that there should be two exceptions to any general amnesty: first, those who had perpetrated cruelties on their fellow countrymen and, secondly, those who had gone out of their way to take part in the puppet Government, set up in that case by the occupying Power. We have a chance to give an example of magnanimity and political wisdom in dealing with these people who were overwhelmed in that vast disaster. It is very important, if we go back, that we should begin training our personnel now. Most of our civil servants were captured by the Japanese and not only will they want to get home to England but it is very unlikely that their health will be such that they will be able to stay there and take over the work of government at once. We want to start training suitable persons, those invalided out of the Services, in the languages of the country. They should be taught the language in London. They could then be attached to other Colonial Governments and Government Departments so that we may have the necessary personnel training for these Colonies when we recapture them.
On the question of economics, it is vitally important that we should have some understanding on a world basis of the great basic crops of these Colonies. Take rubber, which between the two wars varied between 12s. per lb. and 1¿d. per lb. These fluctuations were a tremendous disadvantage, not only to the rubber companies but also to the Malay peasant who produces about half the rubber. When the price was up he concentrated on his rubber tree and neglected his subsistence crop. When the prices came tumbling down he did not have a food crop in the ground nor the cash with which to buy the rice from Outside. The Malay peasant was in a similar position to the American farmer who suffered from fluctuating and 1289 depressed prices. It is not to the advantage of the consumer to bankrupt the producer. He also has to be a purchaser of goods.
America during this war has done a wonderful job creating a synthetic rubber industry, and Dr. Melvin Brenner, of, the National Resources Planning Board, has produced an important study of the future of synthetic and natural rubber. There should be as soon as possible some long term agreement between England, Holland and America on rubber on which we cane build up Malaya. The same applies to tin and other of the great raw materials produced in those Colonies which have a very important Anglo-American trade. If America wants us to be able to take her goods, she must take the products of our Empire. Another question which has to be settled is relations with Siam. Siam has been a hearty collaborator with Japan, and I think we ought to get the question of the boundaries and frontiers between the Straits Settlements and Siam settled once and for all.
If I may revert to the economic side for one moment, the result of these resources being developed, not only by European but by Chinese capital, has meant that the per capita income of the Straits Settlements is three times as high as the average of the Colonial Empire. The result has been that the social services in the Straits are far better than almost anywhere else in the, Empire. The work which has been done in getting rid of malaria and various other scourges has been one of the great achievements of British Colonial policy. But even when we have done the immediate work of going back into those Colonies, feeding the people, and getting the economic life right, there will be the question of the political future and that is one of the most difficult questions in the world. There are these three kinds of people—it is impossible that they should niix—and many of them are only transients; immigrant communities which come and go.
There is the same trouble as in Kenya and in Palestine, that is, people with a different level of civilisation coming in fairly large numbers into a country and competing with the inhabitants. I think we must stick to two principles in every case. The native inhabitants of those places have the primacy, but the immigrant 1290 communities can also play their part both in the material development and the political and social development of those countries. One of the troubles in the Straits is that it, has been a part of the world where one found the classical "economic man"—immigrants have come in there just to make money. The Chinaman comes to make money and then goes home to die by the tombs of his ancestors. There has been no social conscience which transcends the interests of any particular community—the Chinese community does, not feel any social responsibility for the Malays and vice versa. I think one has to accept the fact that these communities will not mix and try to get them to work side by side rather like the system in the old Ottoman Empire by which each community, to some extent, governed its own social concern, its, internal laws, its customs, its religion, its education and its hospitals; and build up on the people who have come to live permanently in those Colonies. We must also try to develop a public spirit by a proper contribution of taxation and a proper contribution of military service, because it is by duties that you develop public spirit quite as much as by rights.
I think our role can be well taken from the phrase which comes from one of the great Governors of Malaya, Sir Frank Swettenham, who said:Our role has been to secure the friendship and active co-operation of the people themselves in a form of rule which was to meet their wishes and control their lives while giving them security, justice and fair dealing, with some measure of ease and happiness.Up to now the Colonial Office has only made one pronouncement on the policy it intends to pursue and that, I am afraid, is an unfortunate one, They said they will not allow opium in any form to return to the Straits Settlements. I am afraid this is going to have just the opposite effect from that which the Colonial Secretary desires, because it is quite certain that drug addiction will be far worse since the Japanese have been there, The Japanese push drugs out and there will be exactly the same craving for drugs and many new addicts. If you go in for total prohibition you will have exactly the same result as America when she tried the total prohibition of alcohol. Opium is the least harmful form of drug—it corresponds to beer—while cocaine and heroin correspond to bootleg whiskey. If you cut off opium 1291 entirely what will happen with these large numbers of addicts will be that you will have a tremendous black market and smuggling and law evasion, bringing in drugs in much more dangerous forms, such as cocaine and heroin. The result will not be to diminish drug addiction but to make the problem worse, with people getting worse drugs than the less harmful opium. I am sure we were on the right lines before the war in bringing in a limited amount of pure opium and gradually eliminating the number of addicts. If the war had not occurred I think the drug addiction problem in the Straits would have, been completely wiped out in 30 years, as the drug addicts died out and no new ones came on. I am afraid that if we go in for complete prohibition in the present circumstances, it will lead, like prohibition in America, to undesirable drugs of worse forms and to a worse drug problem which will have to be tackled again.
I would like to know what the Secretary of State is thinking about a Malayan tariff union. Up to now the Unfederated Malay States have had the power to make their own tariffs. When we go back, would it not be a good thing if we could get a tariff union of the Straits Settlements? Then, regionalisation in that area is not a fashionable slogan but a practical and urgent necessity and we should, with the Dutch and the French, concert the policy which we are to pursue. I hope we shall do nothing which will diminish the authority of the Malay Sultans. We went there by their invitation as their advisers and they have treaty rights with us and have, up to now, loyally accepted our advice in the development of their social services and in the amelioration of their government. I think it will be necessary when we go in there to have a Minister of State on the spat. It has proved necessary in the Middle East and North Africa to have a Minister of State to deal with the many political problems that will arise. I do not expect the Colonial Secretary to answer all these points in detail, but I hope he will tell us something of his planning machinery for the Far East, and give us an assurance that his decisions on all these points will be communicated to the House and debated in the House before they are put into practice.
1292 As to North Borneo, I cannot say much because I have never been there, but in refreshing my memory I found that there were three rulers of the British part—the Sultan of Brunei, Sir Dougal Malcolm as chairman of the British North Borneo Company, and the British Rajah of Sarawak. Are these three authorities going back in identical form? Shall we restore the British North Borneo Company, which I think has now given up trading and is purely a governmental machine? It has been quite a good one and compares favourably with many Crown Colonies, but do we wish to use chartered companies in the future as Governments? As regards Sarawak, I think the Sultan has a perfectly legitimate legal case to return to his realm. The Brooke family became Rajahs in a perfectly legitimate manner and have governed the country, I am told, fairly well. One does not want Sarawak to imitate Siam, which turned a mild and limited Monarchy into an unsuitable Republic which ended in a Fascist dictatorship.
I would now like to pass on to Hong-Kong, a place which it is impossible for an Englishman to visit without emotion. When you approach it by sea you sail between great mountains rising from the water, scenery rather like the West of Scotland, although on a far grander scale. The first time I went there I entered the harbour in the evening and passed a British cruiser threading its way out of the harbour towards the sunset. I saw *the 3,000 ft. mountain on which were lights all the way up. It was one of the most inspiring sights imaginable. Here was a thriving, industrious city which British security had turned from a barren rock into a great port. What is to be the future of Hong-Kong? Strategically, it has never meant anything to us, and I do not think it has any strategic future unless it is as a United Nations base, which American, Chinese, Dutch and British naval vessels can use and have repair and maintenance facilities. Trade is the foundation of Hong-Kong, and trade was the reason we went there. Trade in the future may be difficult. The crystal in China is clouded and not clear. With the abandonment of our extra-territorial rights the need for secure bases for trading may be more necessary than ever. With the tragic inflation that has happened in China, Hong-Kong and a secure sterling or local currency may be a most valuable asset from a Chinese, British 1293 and world trading point of view. It can again be a place of refuge in a troubled world. There would never have been a Chinese revolution if Dr. Sun-yat-Sen had not been able to take refuge in Hong-Kong. Marshal Chiang-Kai-shek's family has also been able to take refuge there. The Colony in the past has been built up as a "free" port and a cheap port. The port and entrepot facilities have always been substantially cheaper than those in any rival port in that part of the world. To be able again to provide the trade of all the world with a free port, with cheap facilities, it is necessary that we should have a clear declaration about the future of Hong-Kong, otherwise we shall not get British firms putting their capital back to recreate what may have been destroyed by the Japanese.
I am not worried about the future of Hong-Kong, because, it is undoubtedly British and under the Atlantic Charter China cannot lay claim to British territory any more that we could lay claim to her territory. The declaration regarding no annexations surely applies as between Allies. As the result of the Cairo Conference China will get vast new responsibilities in Formosa and Manchuria again, and will be very fully occupied there. The Prime Minister made no exceptions in his statement that he did not propose to liquidate the British Empire. It is essential that we should have a definite declaration of policy from the Government as to the future of Hong-Kong and of the Straits Settlements and of Colonies generally as we must encourage British capital to go back and recreate the facilities which are so important to the prosperity and welfare of the people concerned. Further, some measure of credit assistance from the British Government may be needed if we are to recreate those facilities. As regards the government of the Colony, in the past Hong-Kong, on the whole, has been a happy Colony. Those who went there, went because they desired to live under British rule. But there are difficult problems as the Chinese community in Hong-Kong is partly transient, and not stable. Hong-Kong was so valuable as a source of refuge that its population went up from 630,000 in 1921 to 1,600,000 in 1941—more than double—and the result was that housing conditions were very difficult to control. Also with some of the population 1294 living permanently in junks and sampans as they do all along the China coast, immigration was quite uncontrollable.
I think it most important that the Colonial Office should now start re-training an administrative staff for that Colony, that they should get people to start learning the Chinese language now, especially the Cantonese dialect, and most important of all, to understand the ways and habits of thought of the Chinese people. We want people who can love and sympathise with the Chinese. In the past the prison administrative system in Hong-Kong was not one of which we could be proud. The reason was that when we first went there in the 19th century the standard of punishment on the Chinese mainland was often barbaric. If one compares our own prison system one could say that an English prison could be regarded as something of a paradise. We want an enlightened aid intelligent prison régime of which the British Empire can be proud. We want to redevelop the cultural link which Hong-Kong can give between China and England.
§ Mr. Astor
I accept the correction. A most remarkable admixture of races has occurred there between members of the Scottish and Chinese nations who have intermarried in Hong-Kong. A gentleman like Sir Robert Hotung, who is half Scottish and half Chinese, makes one of the most formidable business men in the world. In all these Eastern Colonies we must have regard to their own standards, and not ours. When dealing with Chinese, Hindus and Moslems we are dealing with people who value their civilisation as much as ours. The Moslem does not regard it as theologically superior or domestically more convenient to have to worship a trinity, and have one wife as the Christian Church enjoins, rather than to worship one God and have three wives, like he does. The Chinese regard the philosophy of Confucius as being in every way as high in ethics as anything the West can produce.
We touch in these Colonies the Moslem world, which covers vast areas of Colonial policy. As Marshal Lyautey said, "The 1295 Moslem world is like a drum. If you tap it anywhere it reverberates over its whole surface." The Moslem world stretches from Casablanca to Singapore, through to China. This Moslem world is in the process of a political re-awakening and a cultural renaissance. We see it in the Pakistan movement in India and in the intellectual movements in Damascus and Cairo Universities. It is very important that England and France should try to make their policies go in a parallel way and that the present inter Departmental divergencies that one sees in the Middle East should be unified and that there should be a unified English service dealing with the Arab-speaking world. From the Moslem point of view Palestine contains the third holy city—Jerusalem ranks only after Medina and Mecca—and it is the keystone of the arch between the Moslem world in Asia and in Africa. We must remember that fact. Much depends on the wisdom we may show in, these matters. I hope we shall not only think in-five-year plans, because our relations with China and India, and between Christianity and the Moslem world, are matters in which we require not five-year plans out to think in centuries, studying the past deeply and pondering the future wlsely.
§ Mr. de Rothschild (Isle of Ely)
I do not propose to follow speakers who have addressed the Committee on different parts of the Empire. I propose to address myself to mere general questions. I should like first to extend a word of commendation to the Colonial Office for the great amount of work it has done, and also the great amount of work that is being prepared to be done in the future. In the reports that it has published proposals are made for undertakings in 31 different Colonies, and work has been begun on all of them. It is true that the amount of money being spent is still too small and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman foreshadowed that in the future greater sums would be needed. But it is, for all that, a remarkable achievement when you consider that the country is engaged in a life and death struggle and that throughout the war we have been able to put out this immense effort, outside our military affairs, in order to further the welfare of the Colonies. It is, indeed, a matter of which no Government need be ashamed and, if we are attacked in any part of the 1296 world for our Imperialism we can answer with very great cogency.
I wonder whether I ought not to extend a few words of commendation to a new appearance on the Colonial horizon, that is the gentleman who has lately been engaged in correspondence and whose echoes we have heard in to-day's Debate. He styles himself "Colonial Adviser to the Conservative Party," a very intriguing and very novel terminology and title to adopt. I wonder whether this Colonial adviser is also behind the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself, who is such an ornament and such a pillar of the Conservative Party and whether this new Colonial adviser is, shall we say, the Father Joseph who stands behind the Cardinal in our Colonial administration—I mean the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. If so, this new personage is indeed to be congratulated on the results that he has already achieved. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member wishes to know his name, it is one which should command respect if he knows anything about boxing—his name is Sayers—and I expect the hon. Member will not be prepared to take him on.
I am particularly concerned to-day with two points which are of general interest. The first is our relationship with other Colonial Powers. This matter, indeed, is of increasing interest, not only to us but to our Colonies also, because it is part and parcel of the wider question of the place of these Colonies in the post-war world—our Colonies and those of other Powers as well. I am not going to insist on the bromide that has been poured out so often, that after the war there will be three great Powers which will be foremost in guiding the destinies of the world—the United States, Russia and ourselves. Still, it is necessary to point out that, of these three. Powers, we alone are not self-supporting and that overseas trade is vital to us for the many necessities that we require and for the maintenance of our standard of living. We depend largely on the produce of the Colonies for the maintenance of the standard that we have achieved, in the last 100 years. But the other Colonial Powers, which are all situated on the Western seaboard of Europe, are also in a similar position, with the possible exception of France, though France also in the future is likely to become a more industrialised Power. Some of our Dominions, 1297 which no doubt will also become more industrialised, will make heavier demands on the products of our Colonies.
Countries which do not themselves possess Colonies are also in great need of Colonial produce. I am particularly thinking of those which have been devastated by the Nazis. It is most important for the future peace of the world that these countries, and others which aid not Colonial Powers, should have access to the produce of our Colonies and those of other nations. After the war, as before, there are certain to arise economic jealousies, and, whatever powerful organisation may be created in order to keep the peace of the world, there may well be suspicions, as in the past. Hon. Members will remember the German attitude to our Colonies before the war. No doubt this attitude was animated by the spirit of grab and aggression.
They could not have pushed this policy as far and as successfully as they did, in the opinion of many people throughout the world, if they had not been supported by suspicions in other parts of the world, for instance, in America, where suspicion still exists on this point. I foresee, as everybody else does, the great development in Colonial affairs which will be necessitated by the economic demands which will be made on the products of the tropics in our Colonial dependencies. This will be in the interests not only of the Colonial people themselves and of the Colonial Powers, but of the world at large. The development of the Colonies cannot take place piecemeal. It will have to be on such a large scale that the poorer Colonial Powers, such as Spain and Portugal, will not have the necessary resources. In fact, even some of the richer Colonial Powers would have great difficulty in developing their Colonies unaided. Full-scale Colonial development will require the resources of all Colonial Powers, acting on agreed lines.
Many Colonial Powers now find themselves faced with common problems. These are largely the result of the war. This applies specially to those Powers which have contiguous Colonial territories. The Dutch, the French and ourselves have contiguous territories in the Far East, although they are temporarily in the possession of the Japanese. When these regions are delivered, and it is once more within our grasp to develop them, 1298 the problems they will present will have to be dealt with internationally. The lion. Member for East Fulham (Mr. Astor) spoke of the relations which will grow between our own dependencies and Siam, but we must not forget that, on the other side of Siam, the French Colonies will also require international development and agreement with whatever Government is in Siam. There have been reports of definite plans and discussions between France and Belgium. According to some reports, the Government of Holland has been included in them. Apparently these discussions, according to the Press, tend toward unified Colonial development after the war. I wonder if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman can give us any information on this point.
If there is to be a more unified economic policy among Colonial Powers than there has been, it is necessary that there should be an approximation of policy as regards administration and the treatment of native peoples. The criticisms of other countries will not be confined to the material sphere; they will also be concerned with humanitarian issues. Whether this concern as regards our Colonies, which has been shown in the past, and which will be shown again, is really genuine or not, the fact remains that the moral element is constantly asserting itself. It does so in all human affairs. After all, international affairs concern the relationship of aggregates and groups of human beings. Public opinion has to be convinced that the Colonial systems are being justly administered in accordance with the ideas of the Atlantic Charter and that freedom which we are all defending to-day. It has been laid down that there is to be no interference with the Governments of any nations except those of our enemies. But the Colonies are not self-governing entities. They are administered from outside. There will, no doubt, be a considerable body of opinion which will try to put them in a different category. America, as we know, is already stressing this point of view.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, knows that the idea of a convention of Colonial Powers has been put forward in various quarters. He himself alluded to it in his notable speech at Leeds. Plans have been put forward by various bodies, and lately the International Labour Office has laid down certain principles which 1299 have been discussed at Philadelphia. These principles, as far as they apply to Colonial territories, have been Considered by the representative of our Government at Philadelphia, and he has assured the members of the Conference that the proposals of the I.L.O. will have the consideration of the Government. I suggest that it would be useful if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would call such a convention of Colonial Powers, to which other Powers might usefully be added. My submission is that this convention should lay down certain principles of Colonial administration. It would have no coercive power, but its moral authority might sway public opinion. Reports could be issued by the various Colonial Powers, and these would shed much light on the work they were doing and on the work they wished to undertake.
It is very important, and I wish to state so most emphatically, that there should be no infringement of sovereignty, by any such convention. This should be made equally plain in the case of regional arrangements. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will make this clear, because I feel that some assurance on this point is called far. The Caribbean Commission has done excellent work, but it seems to look forward to more than advisory powers and, indeed, to be exercising supervisory functions which impinge on administration. Certain sections of American opinion regard this as a herald of fundamental changes. This was recently made clear in the American Press. There was an article, which has been reproduced in some of the British papers, in the well-known American magazine, "Fortune." No doubt the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is aware of it as it has attracted so much notoriety and publicity.
I was pleased to see that this article begins with warm praise of our own Colonial Office, and of our Colonial achievements. It gives great praise and credit to the work of Britain in the Caribbean in the last 300 years, and it goes on to set out the objectives of the Anglo-Caribbean Commission. Of those objectives, the one that struck me most was that which I wish to bring to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and it was set out as follows:Gradual extension of responsibility for dependent areas, from the single power exercising administration to the international 1300 society, as represented by regional commissions."I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear that this point of view is entirely unacceptable. This is far from being the sort of development that we envisaged when we put forward the idea of regional arrangements. Australia and New Zealand have recently drawn up a protocol for a regional agreement in the Pacific. It deals mainly with defence and with strategic arrangements in the Pacific, but it does not, in any way, embody any administrative changes such as those which have been advocated in "Fortune." That Pacific agreement does not include America, of course, since America does not, as yet, administer any part of that area. It has been suggested that' the Pacific agreement is not altogether approved by Washington. It would be interesting to know whether that is true, and if so what is the reason.
Before I sit down, I should like to say only one word about the relations of our own Colonies with this country and among themselves. We have all heard to-day of the missions sent to the Colonies by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. We have seen the very good results they have had as shown by the interesting speeches to which we have listened, and which have brought home to us the pulsating life of those Colonies, made familiar to those who have been able to visit those Colonies. There is no doubt that these missions certainly bring us closer to the inhabitants of those Colonies but what is also needed is that the inhabitants of these Colonies should be brought closer to us in a more appreciable way than is done by the administrators of the Colonies who are sent out by the Colonial Office. At present we have a one-sided process. I should like to see the people of our Colonies brought closer to us and also to one another across the many leagues of sea and land which separate us and them.
This can best be done in the capital of the Empire. We all remember listening to the visitors who came here on the occasion of the Coronation. Undoubtedly, those visits led to a greatly increased reciprocal understanding, and that understanding, which was so happily begun, has been continued since. But it needs to go a great deal deeper. Common deliberations are necessary. This has been shown in another sphere, by the conference of Dominion Premiers, and 1301 also by the interesting visits that have been made by Mr. Curtin to the people of Canada. I suggest that arrangements should be made for periodical meetings to be held in this country every two or three years. They should be attended by men and women from every part of the Colonial Empire. I should like to see those representatives sent to this country, after being elected by their nationals. All the members should be responsible people, sent to this country in an official capacity. I am not thinking of a glorified Cook's tour, but of a body capable of acting in an advisory capacity to the Colonial Office itself. Such a body would be able to deal with the general problems which affect the Colonies, diversified though they may be: problems of health, nutrition, industry, and so forth.
I do not want to go into any details but to trace the mere outline of a proposal which can be filled in later. The number of representatives need not be very large. Their election might well have a unifying effect on the Colonies concerned. In the case of the West Indies, where unification is the desire of so many people in this country, the process might well help to unite the various parts. A sounding-board of this kind would be of common use for the component parts of the Empire and would do more than anything else to hold them together. I do not wish to repeat what the right hon. and gallant. Gentleman has told us about the remarkable help that has been given to this country in its war effort, or about the magnificent sacrifices that have been made by the people of the Colonial Empire. Every day new facts are brought to our notice. Only the other day we heard, on the wireless, that in the South African contingent in Italy, there were included Basutos and Bechuanas from the two Protectorates which are so closely related, racially, to many inhabitants of our Colonies. It was heartening and vivifying to know that those Protectorates, in which this House has always taken such a particular pride and interest, will be represented to-day among those who are entering the capital of Italy, among the troops representing Britain and the Allies in Rome.
We are all impressed by the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman about the Nigerian who was dropped by 1302 parachute in Burma, and who fought under Admiral Mountbatten with English, Indian and other troops of our Allies. These men left the shores of Africa for Burma, a country "of which they knew little"—if I may adapt a historic phrase. They went there to defend common interests with us. They are bringing their help to an Empire which they love and I look forward to the day when these men, and others from the Empire, can come to this country and to this capital, which is also their capital, to discuss the affairs of the Empire. Thus, will they cement further the links which bind us to their countries and which, I hope, will bind them to us for a long, long time.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton, West)
We have ranged over a very wide sphere to-day. Inevitably, the 80,000,000 people in the Colonial Empire would require many days to do them justice. It is the misfortune of all of us that however long we may speak on any particular subject—quite apart from the fact that we may limit the time of other speakers—we cannot even then do justice to our particular aspect of the matter. I propose to confine myself to one aspect in 10 or 12 minutes at the outside. It is rather significant that we have been listening to-day to statements regarding two invasions, the invasion of Europe, with all its prospects, and the invasion of Africa and Asia in the past, with all its results. After all, our Colonial Empire is largely the result of our past commercial and military invasions. It is equally true, of course, that other countries did invade, conquer, settle, acquire, and in other ways try to secure greater power and territories themselves. We are therefore no worse than the rest.
We find ourselves, however, in possession of this vast area and these 80,000,000 very varied people. We have to ask ourselves what we are going to do with them. That is very largely determined by our own outlook on life, which may sound trite and platitudinous, but has nevertheless a great significance. I say that, because a number of hon. Members, from time to time, exhibit the fact that they have travelled very widely, and as a result of that they are assuming, having been to Hong-kong, Singapore, Africa and elsewhere, that they are more able to discuss Colonial affairs than those of us whose pockets are very small, and who have been able to visit only our own country 1303 and continent. I would observe that those who have been to distant parts, whether they come from these or the opposite Benches, come back much the same as they were when they first went there.
In other words they interpret what they see according to their political philosophy and ethical faith. Those who go convinced that democracy is effete and impracticable, come back saying that democracy is quite impossible in its application to African and Asiatic people. Those who believe in democracy as something to be achieved soon or in the distant future, go to the same areas as the others have done, and come back more convinced than ever that they must strive for the implementation of their democratic faith. These visits, while invaluable, are not so important as getting one's outlook right. If that is not settled, all that one does is to have a Cook's conducted tour and to come back as wise as when one began.
I mention that because I believe the crucial issue of the war in Europe will be settled, not merely on the fields of battle, but on the political fields. If we cannot win pacific victories for democracy, if we cannot take risks and have adventures for democracy, then, even if this war for democracy in Europe is won, democracy will nevertheless be betrayed. It is for that reason that some of us are so deeply interested in this Colonial question. We appreciate the knowledge possessed by many who have been able to go abroad and see the various areas of our Colonial Empire. We have read a fair number of books on the subject by those who have been there much longer than the casual visitor. We have also come in contact With the native inhabitants themselves, who are not the least important element. Appreciating all these facts and the probable difficulties, we, nevertheless, say that according to our own professions of self-government, freedom and democracy we must take risks and adventures, particularly in our Colonial Empire. That is why I am delighted to have heard a large part of, the Colonial Secretary's statement to-day.
While the discussions that have taken place regarding the need for improving nutrition, developing education and so forth, are all to the good, and again, while I thoroughly appreciate the urgent need for economic development, aided from this 1304 country, I would also add that if we are only going in for a certain economic plan for a number of years—five, 10, 15 or 20 —it may do a great deal to improve the material life of the people in those parts, but if we do not also go in co-terminously for a drastic political plan, we may, in fact, merely be building a totalitarian State. It is, indeed, easy for men to betray their meed of freedom for the mess of pottage of economic security. If you offered a choice between a vote and no job, or of a job and no vote, a great majority of people would infinitely prefer the job with no vote. Because of that, it is to me imperative that we should not merely concentrate on building up the economic life of the people—that must be done—but that we must, at the same time, bend our energies towards developing the political life of the people, and even take risks in so doing.
I revert for a moment to the point that whether we believe the Colonial peoples are capable of developing politically into full self-government depends on our out-look. If we have no faith or are backward-minded we do not believe it. On the other hand we believe there is an ultimate purpose for man in this universe, we say that the capacity of the human race is, with certain variations, much the same; that from the peoples of West Africa, given a chance, given proper nutrition, proper education and the meeting of economic needs, there can be derived the same richness of mind and thought as have come from the people of this country. U would seem that that is so. I think it is true that biologists and ethnologists have been trying to find out whether there is any intrinsic limitation on the part of, say, African people, and they have come to the conclusion that there is no evidence at all of that. This means that if there are people who are undeveloped it is not necessarily because they are intrinsically inferior, but that they lack the opportunity for the development of resources and capacities that are theirs.
I come back to this. If we once appreciate what I have described on a previous occasion as "the glory that shall be revealed," it is our moral obligation to see to it that Colonial peoples possess not only every economic and social necessity for their lives, but also those political rights and responsibilities by which their human 1305 dignity can be made manifest. It is a moral approach, I agree. I cannot see any justification at all save the moral one, for making this appeal. Why should we not exploit and take advantage of backward people; why should we not go to Africa and elsewhere and wrench wealth from the soil, and leave just a few fragments as compensation for the inhabitants? The answer is the moral one, that we are our brother's keeper.
I would suggest in addition to the excellent plans for economic development described from time to time, though many are still inadequate, that we should also embark on a political plan. In particular I would like to see, not merely in the Caribbean Islands, where Jamaica is about to embark on an experiment to which we look with hope, but also in West Africa, adventures undertaken in political development. It is tragically true that the great majority of those on the legislative council, executive council and in important administrative posts are not Africans. I know that many may not have had the necessary training in the past, but that is not true now. It may be a risk, but nevertheless, as a testimony of our belief in democracy and selfgovernment—these things for which the other invasion has started to-day—I would ask the Colonial Secretary whether, in regard to West Africa in particular, he cannot plan out a political development for the next 10 or 15 years which, in the next few years, would enable the majority of the executive councils and the legislative councils and important administrative posts to be filled by competent trained Africans.
It might mean a certain risk; but; again I say that you have to take the risk. We can take risks enough in war; why, cannot we take risks in peace? I disagree entirely with some Members who have spoken to-day, with hesitation and fear, regarding the education and development of our Colonial brethren. By facing such issues, we can help the world. Let is boldly say to our Colonial brethren, "Here and now we put this trust in you, not as stewards of your future, not as superior partners, but as comrades, believing that if you have the opportunity you will respond." I believe that if the Colonial Secretary were to announce such action in our Colonial Empire, particularly in West. Africa, he would strike a 1306 stronger blow for the principles for which men are dying today than by anything which he has said before. That would hearten our Colonial peoples, and hearten ourselves as well.
§ Mr. Wakefield (Swindon)
I had not intended to intervene in this Debate, but the Secretary of State said two or three things which I would like to carry further. I am very glad that he paid a just tribute to the valour, steadfastness, and courage of those men of the Colonial Empire who have volunteered to defend the principles for which we are fighting. The hon. Member for' North Islington (Dr. Guest) said that it was a pity that greater use was not made of our man-power in the Colonial Empire, now and before the war. I would ask the Colonial Secretary whether he is making plans to give an opportunity after the war for men in the Colonies to volunteer for the Armed Forces. Are the men who have been fighting shoulder to shoulder with our own troops, in various parts of the world, to be allowed to help to provide the forces which, the Prime Minister has said, will be necessary, when peace returns, to ensure that there shall be no repetition of what is now taking place? Will they be allowed to volunteer for squadrons of the Air Force, for their own Army Territorial services, and for serving in ships on their own coasts? I hope that the Colonial Secretary will be able to give some assurance that an opportunity will be given to the men of the Colonies, who, in their tens of thousands, are now serving, so that they may feel that they are in real partnership with us in preserving those principles for which they and we are now fighting. I am sure that nothing would receive greater approbation in the Colonies than an announcement by the Secretary of State that, in the post-war set-up, there will be opportunty for these men to volunteer in the same way as our own people, in peace-time, were able to volunteer for service with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, the Auxiliary Air Force, and the Army Territorial regiments.
I believe that not enough attention has been given to the preparation and presentation of films and broadcasts in the Colonies. I think that that is going to be the most important factor in the future development of the Colonies. If the standard of living in, the Colonies is to be 1307 raised, greater attention must be given to the kind of broadcast and film which will achieve the results we all want, in the interests of the natives. The film or broadcast often tells quite a different story to the native from the story it tells to us. May I illustrate that by a brief story? A certain firm in this country, in order to sell its product, bicycles, prepared posters, showing a native on a bicycle being chased by a leopard, with the appropriate wording to indicate that if, you had a bicycle you could escape from a leopard which was chasing you. But the native did not look at it that way. He took the poster to mean that if you bought a bicycle you were certain to be chased by a leopard. Unless we are careful, some of the films and broadcasts to the Colonies will defeat their own object; so I ask the Colonial Secretary to continue, with even greater force, the good work which he has started, and to carry out the research which is necessary in order to understand how best to present our objects to the natives, taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities provided by the film and radio for instilling into their minds the desirability of improving their conditions and raising their standard of living.
If we are to achieve the objects which the Secretary of State has so eloquently described, we must educate the native into a desire for better conditions of life. It is no use paying higher wages if the native, instead of working five or six days, merely works three days, arid lives at the same low standard. I was told the other day of a man who, before the Malay States were invaded, had a native as a driver. This native brought to him two brass spoons, worked most exquisitely. He took those spoons to a jeweller in Singapore, to get them silvered. The jeweller said he would certainly not do that, as it was the most wonderful work he had ever seen, but he would pay the native go dollars a month to go in and work with him. The employer of this man thought he ought to tell his driver about this offer, as he could not possibly afford to pay him that amount-of money, so he went to him and said, "I have got a splendid job for you at go dollars a month," but the driver said, "No, I do not want to go at all." He was perfectly happy with his pay, which suited his requirements, he had enough clothes and food for his wife and family, and he was not willing to go.
1308 I tell that story merely to show that many natives are very happy with their own conditions, and I think we must use the films and the broadcasts to show to them the desirability of raising their standard of living in a variety of ways. If we show them that, they must, at the same time, be given the means to raise their standard of living, and wages must rise in accordance with the greater education given. These things must go hand in hand. It is no use paying them higher money, if it means that they are going to work two or three days a week and remain-on their same low standard of living. All this has got to be worked out in an extremely careful way, and. I want to suggest to the Colonial Secretary that this can best be done by greatly intensifying the study of the means of presentation, by both film and broadcast, to the natives of our ideas.
My third and final point is this. The Secretary of State has said how advantageous it is to have personal knowledge of the Colonial Empire and personal contacts with the people in the Colonies. I hope that, as soon as travel becomes easier, much greater opportunities will be given to civil servants and members of the Minister's own staff continually to visit our Colonies. Air travel has now made this possible in a way which was not possible before the war, I think it is vital, for the proper administration of the Colonial Empire, that all those of the Colonial Secretary's staff, from whom he seeks advice, should have continual opportunities of becoming up-to-date through practical personal experience. This can be done by visits to these territories, to see what is going on there, so that, when they write their minutes, it will be done not from something read in a book, seen on a film or received second-hand from other people, but from first-hand knowledge of the problems on which they report. I hope the Treasury will not restrict the Minister in this direction, but will give him all possible support. I hope the Colonial Secretary will be able to continue in the great work he has done. We are all anxious to support him in the energy and enterprise which he is showing in the development of this great trusteeship, in which fie, this House of Commons and this country have so great a responsibility.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am sure that the Debate we have had to-day has been one 1309 of great interest and of great practical value. There have, I know, been more speakers who would have liked to take part than there was room for, and that I think, will reinforce the request, which I think comes from all parts of the Committee that, if possible, we should have a second day. I have no reason at all to be dissatisfied with the series of speeches, which, on the whole, have been favourable to the policy of my Department, and, where they have been critical, have been critical in a constructive and helpful manner. I am afraid I have occupied the time of the Committee for a very long time to-day, and I only intend to deal, in courtesy, with points raised in the Debate.
The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain Macdonald) raised the point which he has raised before in our Colonial deliberations and which is certainly a very important one, of the establishment of a Colonial Development Council. The name of Colonial Development Council was supported by the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. H. Stewart), although the account he gave of its constitution and activities seemed to differ radically from that of my hon. and gallant Friend. I do not pretend for a moment that any organisation that I have set up centrally here is perfect, is not capable of improvement or that good suggestions cannot be made. I should frankly like to know more exactly how this Council is to be composed and exactly what its duties are to be. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight gave me the impression, certainly, that it was going to consist of a small number of whole-time people—he emphasised "whole-time" people—and, therefore, presumably paid by the Colonial Office.
§ Captain Macdonald
May I point out that I did not say that all the members of the Council should be whole-time, but suggested that the chairman and secretary should be?
§ Colonel Stanley
Then it really does seem to me to differ very little from the Advisory Committee which I have set up, largely in response to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument, with which I have a great deal of sympathy. I have, of course, since the last Debate, set up an Economic Advisory Committee. I do not pretend for a moment that this Economic Advisory Committee has executive power, nor do I pretend that, it is able, somehow 1310 or other, without depriving the Secretary of State of his responsibilities, to prevent some swing of policy when the Secretary of State is changed. I do not see how that can be done unless we are gradually arriving at the point where there is a great consensus of agreement on Colonial policy on all sides of the House. This Economic Advisory Committee are able, first of all, to advise me upon specific economic problems which I refer to them, and, secondly, themselves to take the whole economic field and submit their advice to me. They have already given me very valuable advice on specific problems. They themselves prefer, as a method of work, to try to cover the whole economic field and present to me, in the end, a report on general principles. I am not expecting this Committee—they cannot possibly do it—to inquire into the exact industrial capacity of any country or the location of particular industries. I want them to advise on general economic principles and prospects as applied to the Colonial Empire, and I do not think that this Development Council could really do any more.
I want to emphasise that these Colonies are on their way to nationhood, and we cannot dictate to them about their Colonial policy. This board, which has no authority, could, sit down and say, "We will not allow this Colony to have a certain industry, but will put it, instead, somewhere else," Only the Colony, and I who am responsible, can do that, and I should only like to do that as a result of the kind of machinery that I sketched out beforehand which enables, the various Colonies in their regional work to argue the thing out among themselves, though in the end there must 'be some power to enforce decision. In that way I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's anxiety, and he was a right to be anxious about a very important bit of machinery. I have this Economic Advisory Committee, which, I confess, was not exactly what he asked for but which I set up largely on the representations of himself and his friends and it will fulfil, in connection with the other machinery, the sort of rôle which he has in mind. I hope that he will give it a fair chance and see what developments take place.
He made another rather interesting suggestion with regard to West Africa. I had appointed in West Africa, as part of the 1311 regional machinery, a Civil Members' Committee, which at the moment is under the presidency of Lord Swinton. The hon. and gallant Member asked what would happen when sooner or later, Lord Swinton having done most invaluable work for us in that area, feels that there are other calls upon his activities. I think that everybody, without knowing exactly what I would propose to Parliament when the time comes, realises that the position cannot fall back to what it was before. There must be some way of taking decisions more on the spot and getting co-operation between the Colonies in the area. I note the interesting suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend that the chairmanship of the Committee should pass to a new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.
Finally, the hon. and gallant Gentleman raised the question of the British West Indian Airways. I am afraid I can only say to him at the Moment that the position has been extremely unsatisfactory. Since be left they have been, without the new planes. Every effort is being made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air to provide them. Considerable difficulties have arisen in connection with technicalities—I can only call them that—of Lend-Lease, but I can assure him that I share with him the view, of the importance of this company, the enterprise they have shown so far, and their determination. I anticipate on my part and on the part of His Majesty's Government that, somehow or other, we shall provide the aircraft which at the moment they need to carry on an effective service.
I pass to the speech of the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), I never know now whether to call him by that name or by that new title which, I. believe, was conferred upon him ivith appropriate ceremony at Lagos. [An HON. MEMBER "What was it?"] I do not know what it was, but it was, I know, extremely complimentary. The hon. Gentleman, in the course of an extremely interesting speech, displayed to the Committee the very vitalising effect of his recent visit and his recent contact with the area. I think, in fact, he provided the answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen). The hon. Gentleman the-Member for West Leyton argued with great force, and 1312 from his own point of view, with great conviction, that he could make a better speech, not having been to the Colonies, than any one on this side of the Committee could make, even though he had been to the Colonies. But good as the speeches are that he makes now, they could be made better still if he had the advantage of seeing the places of which he speaks, and I hope very soon he will have that opportunity.
§ Captain P. Macdonald
I would suggest that the hon. Member should find out what the Colonies themselves think of his speeches.
§ Colonel Stanley
The hon. Member for Shipley raised a very important point with which I had dealt at Question time and recently in a Debate on the Adjournment with regard to the possibility of long-term planning under the provisions of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. He pointed out that the Act was only on the Statute Book for 10 years, that four of those years had already expired, that we had not yet completed our planning and that as the future life of the Act got-shorter and shorter, so it would become more difficult for the Colonial Government to plan for the really substantial development which should be taken into consideration. I have told the Committee before that the White Paper provides for a review of the Act from time to time. That is certainly the intention and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed that a review of the whole terms of the Act should take place before conditions have become such that the needs of the Colonies have got beyond the possibilities of the Act. I have told the Committee already what I hope will come out of such a review, but I am not anxious to undertake such a review until I have got further with the plans which are being prepared. It is not much good saying that the time is not long enough and that the amount is not enough, until I have a clearer idea of what I shall want and what the money is to be. My duty will be to collect long-term plans from the Colonies and translate them into the financial demands that they make and see how much can be provided from their own resources by the Colonies themselves, and then I shall have material plans to 1313 discuss with the Chancellor which might be put before the House, I hope, very much for its acceptance.
The hon. Gentleman raised another very interesting point with regard to the movements of Governors and other members of the Colonial Service as between Colonies, which is admittedly a question of great difficulty. I fully sympathise with the desire of the Colonies that a man having learnt the particular problems he has to know—and this applies particularly when you get to the higher ranks and the moves are more frequent—should, stay. There is a great deal to be said for that and whenever possible I try to leave these officers for a very substantial period. But the hon. Member will also realise the difficulties on the other side. It is not always a very good thing—in fact it would be a very bad thing—if a man entering the Service went to a small Calony and never had a chance of exercising his own powers on a wider job and there was nobody who could come into that Colony with experience to give an impetus to that Colony's administration. One has to try, while giving every sympathy to the local desire that members of the Colonial Service should stay for long periods, to balance beween those two things.
One other point I want to deal with is a point which was repeated by the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) and that was the need for a geological survey of the territory. That was one of the points I should have liked to elaborate, and would still like to elaborate if we have another day in which we can deal more fully with research. I quite agree there is a vital need both for a geological survey of the Colonial territories and also for a geodetic survey. I think they are both equally important. With regard to both, I am discussing with the experts in those lines the possibility of a plan, over a period of years, which will enable us for the first time to get a complete survey of all Colonial territory. I am not yet in the position where that is: quite ready to go to the Research Committee, but I hope before long to do so, and I can assure hon. Members that it is absolutely essential, for the sake of sound economic planning in the Colonies, of sound planning of communications, and of sound agricultural policy, that we should have the facts which can alone be revealed by those two services.
1314 The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) in his thoughtful speech referred largely to the position of private industry in Colonial development. I referred to this in our Debate last year when I made it perfectly plain that, as far as I was concerned, I thought there would be not only an opening but a real need for the assistance of private capital for development; that the calls upon capital in the Colonies, the calls upon financial assistance which Parliament and the Government could give from here, were going to be so great that there would be plenty of room for the introduction of private capital. I pointed out, however, that private capital in the Colonies in future could only go in on terms which, while they would not deprive it of any opportunity, would make certain that the territory and its inhabitants would have a square deal. Part of it, I quite agree, is really more a question of building up the proper labour machinery to ensure that there are proper wage agreements and proper industries. Part, as I think the hon. Members said, should consist of assistance for an industry which is going to be of real economic value to the territory. I do not want to tie myself to the sort of suggestion made by the hon. Member that we should say there should be no excise duties, or that we should stop dumping or unfair competition; I would rather leave it to the individual Colony to go into the best way to help the particular industry, but we have to face the fact that if we are to develop new secondary industries in the Colonies, in the early days they will want same help. What we have to be careful of is that we do not give extravagant help to industries which can never, however successful they are, exist without it.
There is this extraordinarily difficult problem, for which at the moment I do not pretend to have found the solution, but on which I have asked for advice from the experts—somehow or other we have to leave room for African capital, for African managerial skill as and when it is ready to take a part in this-industrial development. In the need for economic development as quickly as we can get it, at a time when there is no, or little, African capital and not sufficient African managerial skill available, we must not fill the gap with imported capital and imported managerial skill in a way which, 1315 for ever or for a long period, prevents the African himself from meeting this need. It is not an easy problem but it is one which, I believe, can be solved to the benefit of the Colony, of the inhabitants of the Colony, and of the industrial enterprise of this country as well.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife first asked me about the question of education in the West Indies. I have just looked up a speech which I made on this subject on 16th March last year and I frankly confess to the Committee that I stand surprised at its excellence. If the hon. Gentleman will do me the honour of looking at it, he will see that I referred to exactly the point which struck him during his tour, and that is the danger that West. African education up to now has followed far too much the Victorian ideal, and has been far too much divorced from the environment, from the way in which we try to develop modern education. He raised one very important point with regard to the use of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. He said he felt that if it were devoted only to capital expenditure, and no part was used for recurring expenditure, he would be in favour of that. I do not think it is as simple as that. I may be over-simplifying it, perhaps, but he did make that point, he asked me whether it was reserved only for capital expenditure, or was it to be used for recurring expenditure as well?
I quite see his point, and I agree with him that the purpose of this fund is to enable the Colonies to develop their resources so that eventually, if possible, they should be able to maintain their own standard out of their own resources. However, I do not believe we can do that pump-priming merely by confining this to capital expenditure. They have to be helped, in the first instance not only with school buildings, but with school teachers; they have to be helped in the first instance not only with soil erosion measures but with trained agricultural teachers. I do not think you can separate capital and recurring expenditure; certainly I am not attempting to do so, and I am accepting as suitable for a grant, -items of recurring expenditure. I shall, however, always have in mind, and I think hon. Members have in mind, that the object of this Act, if we can so work it, is not that of a permanent charitable contribution from the 1316 House to the Colonies but to—give them a start in developing their own resources and achieving financial stability.
The hon. Member for Heywood and Radcliffe (Mr. Wootton-Davies) spoke with great authority on the question of palm oil. I will not follow him into the very technical differences between "hards" and "softs," but I will deal with this one important point which I know must have occurred to the hon. Gentleman many times when he was in Nigeria. That is, the effect upon the cultivation of palm oil in Nigeria under the peasant proprietor system of the plantation system elsewhere in the Congo or the Far East. Let me say at once that, in no circumstances, have we any intention of abandoning the policy, which, from the-social point of view at any rate, has been the sheet-anchor of our rule in Nigeria, and that is the ownership of the land by the African for the African. However, we cannot ignore the fact that the plantation system appears in some cases to produce in the financial result by greater integration, greater opportunity for research, greater opportunity for machinery, an article with which it is difficult to compete. I know it is very much in the minds of all people in that area, and those responsible, whether there is not some way, by methods of co-operation, that we can meet this plantation competition without sacrificing the social benefits of the system which we maintain.
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies
Would not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman agree that West Africa cannot compete with plantation palm oil because of the inferior quality they produce? Inferior quality must surely kill their trade in palm oil.
§ Colonel Stanley
There was great difficulty about competition. The West African industry remained in existence but did not expand at the rate at which the plantation industry expanded. My hon. Friend the Member for East Fulham (Mr. Astor) gave an interesting description of the problems which face us in Malaya. He started by giving a quotation from a letter by the Duke of Wellington, from which I received great assistance and guidance. Wellington was a very great man, a very good Tory, although I am afraid that all of us must admit that he was not even a Tory reformer. He was just a plain Tory. I said a few words in my opening speech of the steps we are taking to set up standing machinery to 1317 deal with these problems. I will not go into the matter further at the moment, except to say that my hon. Friend's analysis of the particular political problems was very accurate. As regards his question about Hong-Kong, I can only refer him to the statement—to which he referred himself—made by the Prime Minister, which, I think, needs no alteration or addition.
The hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) said he was disappointed because he thought I had not given guidance to all the Colonies as to planning. He pointed out how varied all the Colonies were. Well, if you once try to give general instructions or general directions to all the Colonies, then the factor common to all becomes very small, very exiguous and very platitudinous. Although we try to state what we are trying to get at, when it comes to actual principles on which they shall work, I see little alternative to discussion, Colony by Colony, of the problems which face them. The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) said a few kind words about me but referred with some acidity to the fact that an adviser, or expert, on Colonial affairs had been appointed by the Conservative Central Office. The hon. Gentleman, coming from the party he does come from, can hardly complain about an adviser being attached to a party. I remember the time, in the palmy days of the Lloyd George Fund, when there were more advisers around the Liberal Party than there were members. You could not see the wood for the trees or the trees for the wood—I do not know which.
The hon. Gentleman went on to an interesting discussion of our relations with other Powers. I gladly give him the assurance he asked for, that suggestions we have made about regional commissions and conferences, which I think have met with general agreement in all parts of, the House, involve no infringement whatsoever of our sovereignty, by which I mean our administrative responsibility. That statement has been definitely made by the Prime Minister and by myself. It will interest the hon. Gentleman to learn that when I went to West Africa, shortly after making the statement in the House about regional commissions, I found that the one thing that worried them out there was the thought that in some way regional commissions 1318 meant some kind of international administration. It is not only that such administration would be inefficient, because you cannot share responsibility among a number of people, but they saw in such commissions a great obstacle between them and their goal. They said, "We believe you want to help us along the road towards self-government, but here is a new body which will sit over our heads and make a sham of self-government." Therefore, I am only too glad to give the assurance for which the hon. Gentleman asks.
The hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) asked for a political programme lasting 20 years. I do not believe in laying down "skedules," as they are called on the other side of the Atlantic, of political programmes lasting 10, 20 or 30 years. It all depends on how they work. I believe that you have to proceed by generous trial and error, by taking slight risks and not by laying down a programme such as the hon. Member suggested.
§ Colonel Stanley
I have given an account to the Committee of the changes made in the last year, which involve a considerable degree of risk. Changes are always going on, because we seriously desire to foster self-government and also see that it works. If it does not we here are not the people to suffer; the millions of people in the Colonies are those who suffer. My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) referred to opportunities for service after the war, and he will realise that it is quite impossible for me to make a statement to-day. It depends on the decisions taken in the light of whatever military forces are required in the future. I am certain, however, that in any of these forces the people of the Colonies will have ample opportunities for service.
With regard to films and broadcasting, they will assume an increasing importance in the future. These methods, of education, rather than propaganda, would be available for grants under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and we are, encouraging plans of that kind. The account my hon. Friend envisaged of Africans misreading or misinterpreting films rather frightens me. I only hope that if they are shown Hollywood films 1319 their failure to understand them might prove their salvation. I must conclude by thanking all hon. Members who have taken part in this Debate for the extremely valuable suggestions they have made, and by expressing the hope that we may have another opportunity to deal with the many important subjects with which we have not had time to deal to-day.
That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Captain McEwen.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.