HC Deb 16 May 1944 vol 400 cc133-52

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Captain McEwen.]

Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)

I desire for a few moments to take the House from the subject of agriculture to that of the Colonies. I want to do so by calling attention to the course of the expenditure during the last four years under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940. Hon. Members who were in the House during that year will recall that the then Colonial Secretary issued a White Paper entitled "A Statement of Policy on Colonial Development and Welfare." In a word or two, the reason for that statement arose out of a Royal Commission which was sent to the West Indies in 1938–39 to make inquiries into disturbances and conditions which had given rise to the disturbances over a number of years. As a result of the report of that Commission we had presented in June, 1940, what is now know as the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. The purpose of that Act, authorised of course by this House, was to place at the disposal of the Government certain sums of money in annual contributions for the purpose of dealing with the economic and social conditions, revealed, as I said just now, as the result of the Royal Commission's visit to the West Indies.

It is lour years since that Act came into operation, and I want to remind the House what has taken place. The Minister is aware that on several occasions I have put questions as to what was going on. The Act of 1940 provided that a maximum sum of £5,000,000 per annum should be available in order to assist our Colonial territories to deal with the problems which had been revealed, and which were widely known. There was to be £5,000,000 per annum over a period of ten years, making a total sum of £50,000,000, The Act provided that of that £5,000,000 per annum to be devoted to the purpose, as I have said, of the social and economic improvement of the people of our Colonial territories, £1,000,000 per annum should be earmarked for the West Indies and £4,000,000 for the rest of the Colonial territories. That was in 1940. This the House authorised, having before it the problems with which we are face to face in the work of Colonial improvement and the possibility that in four years' time there would be a possible expenditure of £20,000,000.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)

I am sure the hon. Member wants to be fair, but will he quote the words of paragraph 9 of the White Paper, in the full knowledge of which the House passed that Act?

Mr. Riley

I do not know what particular words the right hon. and gallant Gentleman refers to in paragraph 9, but I will quote the words: The intention is that the sums of £5,000,000 and £500,000 a year respectively should be specified in the proposed legislation as maximum figures.

Colonel Stanley

Would the hon. Member read the next sentence?

Mr. Riley

It reads: It is not expected that, in either case, this scale of expenditure will be attained at once; indeed, it is improbable that conditions will permit of its being reached at any time during the war. I suppose that is sufficient for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's purpose?

Colonel Stanley


Mr. Riley

May I draw attention to another paragraph in the White Paper, the first paragraph, which says: It has been assumed in some quarters that action on the recommendations would be postponed until after the war; but the Government purpose no such delay. I submit that that conflicts in a way with paragraph 9 to which the Minister asks me to call attention. I think I quoted fairly what was in the White Paper. I had arrived at the point that under this Act, according to the terms of the White Paper, there could have been made available in the four years from 1940 to March of this year, the sum of £20,000,000 for the improvement of the economic and social conditions of our Colonial subjects in all our Colonial territories.

The fact is, as is shown by the answers to Questions which I have put, that, while we have sanctioned schemes, on paper, in these four years, involving a commitment of £8,500,000, we have authorised the expenditure of only £2,169,000, out of a possible £20,000,000 which might have been available under the Act. It is interesting to consider how that £2,169,000, out of a possible £20,000,000, has been spent on the purposes of the White Paper policy. It was stated, in answer to a Question of mine last week, that, of that sum of £2,169,000, £1,246,000 was authorised for the West Indies, and £900,000 odd for the rest of the Colonial territories. What does that expenditure mean in relation to the population of these Colonial territories? It is well to grasp the fact that the £2,169,000, out of £20,000,000 amounts to 9d. per head of the 60,000,000 inhabitants of our Colonial territories during the last four years, or only 2¼d. per head per annum, in realisation of the objects of the White Paper policy.

To go still further, that £2,169,000, which is the total expenditure, and the loss of over £7,000,000 which might have been spent in the four years, represent, in the case of the African Colonial territories, with a population of 57,000,000, an expenditure of a penny per head per year. I am not unmindful of the excellent work which has been done and which is being done in certain fields of Colonial administration, under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. I appreciate, as much as the Minister does, what has been done, with the assistance of this Act, by the Colonial machinery, particularly in the West Indies, in the encouragement and assistance of the peoples of those territories to form trade unions, to establish minimum standards of living, with minimum wages, to do something about education, and to improve health and social services. But, in view of the figures which I have given and their relationship to the work which is involved, a great deal more ought to have been done.

It is interesting to note the better work which is being done in the West Indies as compared with our African Colonial territories, with their much larger populations. There are 27,000,000 people under our rule in Africa, and fewer than 3,000,000 in the West Indies. In the West Indies we have spent something like is. 9d. per head of the population during the four years—a small sum, it is true, but much larger than the 1d. per annum which we have spent in the four years on the much larger population in our African Colonies. We have done much better in the West Indies because it was decided, as a result of the Royal Com- mission which went to the West Indies, to establish a Commission to take charge of the work in the West Indies, to carry out the recommendations which the Stockdale Commission made, after six months' investigation. The Commission which was established has been at work for over three years. I want the Minister to explain why a similar Commission should not go out to West Africa and East Africa, to do the same kind of work as has been done in the West Indies. There is much greater need for it in Africa. The population of our West African territories is more than 10 times that of the West Indies. The tragedy of this slow expenditure is that, out of £20,000,000, we have spent only £2,000,000-odd, and, under the terms of the Act, unspent balances have to be returned to the Treasury each year. Therefore, we have lost £18,000,000.

The Minister may reply that the labour and the material are not available to carry out the necessary schemes, and that, therefore, they have to go slowly. But that is only a partial reply. It is true that in certain Colonial areas there is, under war conditions, a great scarcity of labour, but in other areas there is an ample supply of labour, particularly in the West Indies. It cannot be the lack of labour in the West Indies. At the present moment, and for the last two months, we have, in Jamaica alone, recruited 15,000 labourers, not for work in Jamaica, not for the cultivation of land, not for the economic work of providing subsistence for the population, which is the foundation of the whole thing, but recruited to be sent away from Jamaica to do farm work in the United States. Why could not something have been done to utilise that labour in Jamaica? The same thing occurred last year and there has been a lag-over in Jamaica. In a statement only a week ago, I think, the Minister said there were only about 2,500 Jamaican labourers remaining over from last year in U.S.A., and now another 15,000 have been sent away. Side by side with that, it cannot be said that schemes of useful agricultural settlement could not be organised. On competent authority, it is said that in Jamaica to-day no more than 45 per cent. of the cultivable land is under cultivation, and that there is room there for any amount of well organised land settlement to make use of this money.

I submit, therefore, that there could have been a great deal more done than has been done. It is not only in Jamaica, but in Africa, too. The labour difficulty may be somewhat different there under war conditions than in the West Indies, but in Africa—in Kenya and East Africa —there is a great demand for land holdings and for the cultivation of land from people who have not got enough. What a tragedy it is. In the West Indian islands, we have Jamaica alone—a purely agricultural island—importing approximately £1,000,000 worth of foodstuffs every year. In 1937, there was imported into Jamaica no less than £189,000 worth of dried fish, grain and flour amounting to £398,000, rice £171,000, milk £119,000, making a total of £900,000. After all, and this has been admitted repeatedly in this House, in the long run, whatever remedial work we are going to do, under the Colonial Development Act expressly passed for this purpose, will have to be based upon improved economic efficiency in these Colonial territories. It is by improving the land and the subsistence of the people that you get the means whereby any assistance which is given under the Act may be of a permanent character.

I submit to the Minister that any review of the slowness with which this work has gone on for the last four years, after it was authorised by Parliament following inquiries, must induce one to ask whether the right kind of machinery is there to carry it out, whether the men in charge of the Colonial Office and the officers into whose hands this work is placed are the right type. In the West Indies, where things have gone ahead much better than elsewhere, there has been a Commission at work for the last four years—the Stockdale Commission. I have asked why the same thing could not have been done in East and West Africa. I go further and suggest that, in connection with Commissions of this kind, if any achievement is going to be realised, some different kind of direction at headquarters, in the surveying and organising of all schemes, is called for by the failure to carry out the intentions of Parliament when it passed the Act.

Captain Gammans (Hornsey)

I shall not venture to try to anticipate what the Colonial Secretary will say, but, as I have just come back from the West Indies as a member of the Empire Parlia- mentary Association's delegation, perhaps I might venture to comment on what my hon. Friend has said. I gather that his complaint is that, somehow or other, this money, which is voted by this House, should have been spent, and that, because it has not been spent, he fears that it may be lost to the purpose for which it was voted. I imagine that, on that second point, my hon. Friend's interpretation is not correct, and that the sum of money voted by this House will, in fact, be available for the purpose for which it was intended.

Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)


Captain Gammans

Well, perhaps the total sum will be available. While we were out there, naturally, one of the things that interested us most was to try to make up our minds on how the Stock-dale Commission were working and to what extent they were carrying out their plans quickly. My right hon. and gallant Friend knows quite well that I have always felt that the Colonial Welfare and Development Act was a poor substitute for a Development Council, but I will say this about it—it is very much better than anything we have ever had before. So far as the West Indies are concerned, I think all of us were impressed, not only by the personality of Sir Frank Stockdale, but by the comprehensiveness of the plans which he and his staff had prepared. Could those plans be carried out more quickly? What was perfectly obvious was that the trouble was not reluctance on the part of the Colonial Office to provide the money, or the ability of Sir Frank and his staff to spend it, but a shortage of stock and materials. Surely, my hon. Friend will agree with me that a new hospital cannot be built unless there are the materials to build it with, and unless there are the necessary engineers, foremen and technical staff. The same thing applies to water and agricultural stations. It is not the slightest use just spending the money for the sake of spending money. The position to-day in the West Indies is that they are literally at their wits' end to find staff for the ordinary services, and technical officers and raw materials are simply not available. That is the position as far as I can see in the West Indies. The plans are very comprehensive and excellent, but the limiting factor to-day is not just unskilled labour but technical skill and the amount of raw material required.

Mr. Riley

Material is very largely obtainable locally. For the building of hospitals and other constructions in the West Indies and other Colonies the labour is there, and the material can be found.

Captain Gammans

I disagree. A certain amount of raw material is on the spot, but to build a hospital or to put in a water scheme needs pipes, pumps and many things which can only come from this country or the United States of America, and they are not available. The hon. Member talked about land settlement. I do not know whether he has had practical experience of putting people on to the land, but for five years I was doing it in this country and I have done it in other parts of the Empire. There is far more in land settlement than that. That is the easy part. The less people know about the land, the more they want to dump other people on to it. To put people on to the land without technical assistance and agricultural advisers to advise, and with engineers to build roads and waterworks and to provide other services, is not only a complete waste of money but condemns the whole scheme to failure before it starts. There is far more in land settlement than buying pieces of land and dumping untrained people on to them. I saw a lot of the land settlement schemes in all the West Indian Islands and I got the impression that they were starting under good auspices. One cannot be in a hurry; one has to build on a sound foundation if one expects good results.

In some of the West Indian Islands there is a shortage of unskilled labour. In Trinidad the sugar production last year nearly halved itself, and that was due to the absence of unskilled labour. The reason for that is the American base, which has drawn off a large amount of the labour required. I was told that in Trinidad, for some weeks, they could not run the railway because they could not produce sufficient semi-skilled men to fire the locomotives and carry on the work of the railways. What is the good of pretending, in conditions of that sort, that one can undertake vast schemes for the provision of hospitals, water supplies, land settlement or anything else, unless the object is to spend money for the sake of spending it? I came to the conclusion—and I think the hon. Member would have come to the same conclusion if he had been with us—that as much progress as could reasonably be expected had been made.

We are all agreed on the necessity for raising the standard of living, comfort and health of the Colonial Empire. Upon that all parties in this House are agreed and, what is more, this House would be prepared to vote money for this purpose to a far greater extent than they have ever done before. But they will only vote the money if they are convinced it is being wisely spent. Nothing would do more harm to the cause that those of us who are keen on the Colonies have in our minds than for it to be shown that the £50,000,000 which has been voted had been wasted merely for the sake of spending it. In so far as we can show that it will be well spent, the House will be justified in calling upon the hard-pressed taxpayer to put up some more money. We have to get out of our heads the notion that you can solve every problem in the world if only you spend enough money and pass enough Acts of Parliament. Some of the problems in the West Indies are not soluble at all by any Act of Parliament passed in this House and they are not possible of solution in any way by our voting money.

Mr. Sorensen (Leyton, West)

Such as what?

Captain Gammans

Such as the population in Barbados. There is an island as large as the Isle of Wight, with double the population and increasing by 4,000 or 5,000 annually. The fertility of man is greater than the fertility of the soil. What is the good of pretending that that problem can be solved by Sir Frank Stockdale or anybody else?

Mr. Sorensen

The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that this country increased its population between 1881 and 1931 by 350 per cent., and its wealth increased by a greater rate than that.

Captain Gammans

I would not like to take the analogy of two countries and drive it too far. This country has mineral wealth. There is no mineral wealth in Barbados nor any sign of it. It is an island which can grow one crop and one crop only, and that is sugar. There is a danger, when we are trying to raise the standard of living in the West Indies or any part of the Colonial Empire, of imagining that all you have to do is to vote money in this House and it does not much matter how it is spent. There are problems in the Colonies which are completely insoluble by the spending of money. One of the great difficulties in the West Indies or in any tropical country is the vicious circle of the tropics. People rank leisure higher. The first thing that people do when they get more money is to indulge in leisure. It may be a good thing and there is a lot to be said for it, but it is difficult to raise the economic standard of living of the people so long as that viewpoint prevails. It is no good pretending that we can deal with that by spending money in this House. Many of the problems in the West Indies come down in the end to that. The intentions of the hon. Member are, I am sure, of the best—I share his viewpoint entirely on the desirability of spending this money—but I felt that having seen a little of the work on the spot, it was only fair to Sir Frank Stockdale and also to the Colonial Secretary to voice my own conviction that not only have very adequate and full plans been prepared, but, moreover, that those plans are being carried out as quickly as possible.

Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)

The whole House will very largely agree with the concluding remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans), and the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) will agree too. No one thinks that the mere pouring out of money by itself can bring the changes for which we hope and the changes that are needed. But the hon. and gallant Member hardly did justice to the main contention of my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury, although he agreed with his object. He omitted to realise that the annual sum which Parliament has voted under this Act does not go to the benefit of the colonies unless it is spent within the year. The balance every year returns to the Treasury. That is the real difficulty. While we should all agree that it should not be the duty of the Colonial Office to spend every penny of this money, whether it was needed or not, yet it is lamentable, when the need is so great, as we all realise, and as my hon. and gallant Friend has pointed out as a result of his own recent experience, that such a very large proportion should have remained unexpended.

I think we are all in agreement that there are certain things which cannot be done in wartime. It is no fault of the Colonial Secretary, it is no fault of the Colonial Office or of local officials in the Colonies. It is not possible under war conditions, but there are surely certain measures that could be carried on in spite of all these difficulties. There is the question of land settlement which is so much needed. The purchase of land does not employ a large amount of labour that is wanted for war purposes. In certain cases, nothing can be done unless the land is purchased. Take the case of St. Kitts, where there are 60 land owners and the labouring population has practically no means of access to the land. All they have are tiny allotments on insecure tenure. The first thing to do, surely, is to provide a certain amount of land which can be developed, and that does not involve the employment of labour or materials not available during the war.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)

Is the hon. Member complaining that the 60 land owners have not developed their land, and are therefore to be bought out in favour of those who will develop it?

Mr. Harvey

It would take too long to go into all the details, but in some cases the land is owned by companies. I believe there are only about 60 actual proprietors, and there is no doubt that there is an urgent need for small holdings with security of tenure. Indeed, I am sure the Colonial Secretary intends to go forward with the development of land holdings there. However, I give that only as an instance. Wherever you want to develop small holdings, and where the labourers have no holdings of their own, you must have some measure of land purchase prior to action, and that can be done now, even in wartime. That is what I want to urge, though I think there are cases, as my hon. Friend has said, where there is actually labour available. There is, for instance, the case of British Honduras to which a number of labourers have returned after war service in this country and are unemployed at the present moment. I have had reports of really unsatisfactory conditions owing to the return of these labourers from work in Great Britain. It is true they have a grant for their services and they are living on that. It is not satisfactory that they are unemployed, and I believe the Colonial Secretary is engaged at present in correspondence on that point with the Governor with a view to the development of certain schemes. Would it not be possible there for these men to be employed in the provision of timber for use in such work after the war as the provision of small school houses which are needed in great numbers all over the West Indies? In most cases they will probably have to be simple wooden buildings. It will not need a great deal of engineering skill or specialist labour to provide the material which I believe might be prepared now.

Those are just two instances of ways in which this money could be spent now for further development after the war. We know that the Colonial Secretary has all our good will on this matter and he is in earnest in trying to get a new development. If he could, with our good will, and with that insight and vision of his urge the Governors everywhere to do what they can in making preparations now for further development after the war, and think out ways such as I have mentioned in which the money could be spent now, we should not have the present lamentable result of this large sum of money which we hoped would have gone for the benefit, year by year, of our fellow subjects in the Colonies, whose need is so great, returning year by year unspent to the Treasury.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

I found it rather difficult to follow the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans). I understood, first, that he did not want the money spent and that we would get no value for it, and afterwards that he did want it spent. What I feel about his speech is that if it had been a question of spending money on such things as preventible disease in Hornsey, we might have had rather a different speech. I will take up the time of the House only for a few moments. First, there is the question of lack of materials. We are told that there are no materials, that there is no possibility of getting on with any work even though the money is there. What concerns many of us, however, is that this money which might be spent now and is not being spent will not, so I upderstand, accrue to a later date. If we could even be certain that sums of money unspent now would be spent after the war, then indeed there might perhaps be something to be said—though I do not think very much—for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's case.

Colonel Stanley

The hon. Member has not heard it yet.

Mr. Dugdale

Well, at any rate I have heard the case put up very ably, if I may say so, by the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey. Maybe the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will put up a wider, and possibly a better one, but that I do not know. I would like to state three propositions quite simply. They are these. First of all, that the Colonies have made and are making a very big contribution to the war effort. Secondly, that this contribution is being hampered very seriously by what I can only describe as a lack of strength in the peoples of some of the Colonies owing to the existence of many preventible diseases. It is impossible for the Colonies to make that contribution to the war effort which they might make if those diseases did not exist.

Let me quote two cases. I understand that 60 per cent. of preventible blindness in Ceylon is attributable to an absence of Vitamin A. Now why can nothing be done about that? Cannot sufficient food containing Vitamin A be sent to persons in Ceylon to prevent this blindness? Then again, at the Hot Springs Conference, one of the Committees dealing with Colonial affairs said that in tropical Africa malnutrition aggravates many diseases, such as tropical ulcers, skin infections, and malaria. These diseases, in so far as they exit, hamper the war effort. I think it is a short-sighted policy to say that we should not spend this money in war-time because it is not being spent for the benefit of the war effort. I would maintain that, purely in the interests of the war effort, money spent on preventing and curing diseases throughout the Colonies is every bit as valuable as money spent on preventing and curing diseases in this country. If such diseases existed here we should have the Minister of Health coming down to this House and demanding vast sums of money to cure them, and saying that it was vitally necessary even for the war effort alone, apart from all other reasons. Without any doubt he would get it, because hon. Members would know the effect of the diseases in their own constituencies and they would know the need for curing them. In fact, however, the diseases exist in places far away from our constituencies, and many of us have not seen their results. I would ask the Colonial Secretary to be as firm in his demand for money for the curing and prevention of such diseases as the Minister of Health would be if the diseases were in this country.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)

I am very glad we have at last been able to secure the time for this Debate. It refers to a Question which was asked when I was ill some time last February. I would like to tell the House that the reason for the delay is that although the hon. Member, at a much earlier stage, had the opportunity for the Adjournment, out of great courtesy to me, he let the chance slip, because at that time I was still convalescent. I am sure that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley), who has had some good hits at me, will not mind if I point out a good many fallacies in his speech, which, I think, was a little partial and one-sided. He started by giving the House the dramatic impression of a House of Commons sitting here four years ago, in those dark days of Dunkirk, passing this Act of Parliament, certain that in four years' time £20,000,000 would be spent and now looking back and seeing how little has been spent. It was only on my suggestion that he read from the White Paper the quite definite warning conveyed to the House at that time that there was, no possibility of the total annual allocations being spent in war circumstances. I reinforced myself by looking at that Debate when the Act was passed and I found that that warning was repeated both by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. MacDonald) and the right hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. George Hall), who was then Under-Secretary, and I could not find any record in the HANSARD of the day of the hon. Member having dissented at that time from that estimate of the possibilities.

Mr. Riley

I read out paragraph 1.

Colonel Stanley

Paragraph 1 is quite irrelevant. Paragraph 9 contains the definite statement that whatever the intentions of the Government during war-time it would be found impossible to spend these annual sums. No one deplores more than I the fact that these difficulties are there. No one is more anxious than I, except, possibly, the Governors of the various Colonies, that the Colonies should be able to take the fullest advantage of this sudden manna from heaven which has descended upon the Colonial Service, which, until then, had had to depend upon the resources of the individual Colonies themselves.

I do not think the hon. Gentleman helps the case by giving the impression that the Colonial Office and Colonial Governments, for some obscure reason of their own, are not just as anxious as he and everybody else in the House to see this money spent, and spent wisely. But the difficulties in the way are quite obvious. The hon. Gentleman, with dialectical skill, selected one of the difficulties and applied that to one of the Colonies where that particular difficulty did not exist. That really does not answer the case. There are three main shortages from which we are suffering. There is that of technical staff; the second is that of imported material; and the third is that of general labour. There are some Colonies that suffer from all three, but all Colonies suffer from some of them. The hon. Gentleman took as an instance the West Indies, following thereby his new leader on Imperial affairs, the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), who had made some reference to them in a speech on Imperial affairs, which no doubt his follower listened to with very great delight and agreement. The hon. Gentleman said, as the hon. Member for Seaham did, "In the West Indies we have to take people from Jamaica and actually try to find them work in the United States." It is true that in Jamaica they do not suffer from a shortage of general labour, but they suffer very much from a shortage of imported material and technical staff. In Africa, you have a shortage of general labour—and I will come later to the difference between Africa and the West Indies —as well as the other two shortages, and it is no good blinking our eyes to these difficulties.

I want to say frankly to hon. Members who try, as I think one hon. Member did, to pretend that there is no shortage of imported materials in the West Indies, that they are doing me a very great disservice, because I have made a very earnest appeal to Mr. Taussig, a very helpful collaborator on behalf of the United States on the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, to try and get the United States, as a matter of priority, to release at any rate some portion of the imported materials which are necessary in order that these schemes may make rapid progress. It will not be very encouraging for him to hear hon. Members say that there is no shortage of imported materials and therefore there is no reason for him to make this effort on our behalf.

It being the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Captain McEwen.]

Colonel Stanley

Hon. Members in this country, with all our natural resources, do not realise that in the West Indies, with no mineral resources, a nail is an imported material and every kind of tool is an imported material. That shortage is a reality. All over the Colonial Empire the impact of war has been very much the same as in this country. It has varied in intensity. The great difference between the situation in Africa and in the West Indies is that the impact of the war has been much more severe in Africa owing to its geographical position. In Africa you have hundreds of thousands serving in the Armed Forces and you have had a large flow of military material going through from West Africa and across to East Africa, and a great extra demand for that reason upon the resources of the Colonies. We can no more brush aside the impact of these war created shortages in the Colonies upon development plans than exactly the same shortages created in this country.

It is only fair to say that within those limitations we have within the last year made a very considerable amount of progress. The £1,300,000 that we spent in the last financial year is nothing like as much as I should like to see spent if we could do it, but it is four times as much as we were able to spend a year before, and it shows that we are gradually becoming able to increase the amount which, despite these difficulties, we can spend.

I think hon. Members who look upon this question without bias or partiality will take the view expressed by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans). I could not see any inconsistency at all in his speech. He said from his practical experience that he did not think all this money could be usefully spent but he wished it could and he would support any effort to spend more. I think it will be agreed that, in conditions of war, we cannot expect to be able to spend the full amount, and that we are limited in our choice of schemes which can be immediately put into effect. To my mind what is most important is that we should make all our preparations and have all our plans ready so that, as and when any shortage diminishes, as and when execution becomes a possibility, we should not be held up because we were not absolutely ready on the planning side. I do not want on a short Debate on the Adjournment to go into that in detail. Before long we shall have the Colonial Estimates debated, and I was hoping then to tell the House something of the plans and machinery now being set up to ensure that we shall be ready as and when conditions make developments practicable.

Mr. Riley

Why cannot there be, in large areas such as West and East Africa, commissions similar to the Stockdale Commission in the West Indies?

Colonel Stanley

I have already explained on several occasions that, because one particular type of machinery is the right one for one area, it does not necessarily mean that it is the right one for others. The Stockdale Commission is designed for a number of very small Colonies, most of which are poor and do not have on their normal staffs experts on every subject. It is not necessarily the right machinery for larger and richer Colonies, which have on their permanent staffs experts on these various subjects just as qualified as those who are now members of the Stockdale Commission. When we deal more fully with this question in the Estimates Debate, I hope to show that we are setting up in the various other Colonies machinery, which may be different from the Stockdale Commission, but which is better suited to the conditions of the various areas.

I realise that the real fear of everybody in this Debate, even those who agree with me, is that, whatever our efforts we cannot spend more than we are spending and that by not spending it we are somehow losing it for ever. If I believed that in future that would be the case, I should share hon. Members' anxieties. No mention has been made in the Debate—and I am surprised that the hon. Member for Dewsbury, who was anxious to bring out all sides of the question and develop an unbiased argument, did not refer to it—of the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for South East St. Pancras (Sir A. Beit) on 15th March; that was a few weeks after he had asked the Question on which this Adjournment Debate is based. The hon. Gentleman then raised exactly the point which is in everybody's mind, namely, what is the result of not spending £5,000,000 in a year when we know that what is not spent has to be returned to the Treasury? I explained in the answer that legally it had to be returned to the Treasury, but I went on to say that the White Paper issued at the time of the Act— expressly stated that during the war it could not be expected that expenditure would reach the limit, but it also said that the limit would be subject to review and could be increased by Parliament. I can give an assurance to the House that a review will be undertaken before there is any likelihood of the annual expenditure reaching the maximum figure. Such a review would include not only the point raised in the Question, but the general adequacy of the provisions of the Act in the light of the experience gained since 1940 of the post-war requirements of the Colonies."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th March, 1944; Vol. 398, col. 224.] I deliberately answered the Question in that way. It would have been possible for me to say that I would take up the matter with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and that I was sure he would meet me in a helpful spirit. The question of the restoration of these balances which have been described as lost is to my mind not enough. I have not concealed from the House that a mere alteration in the Act, which made certain that the whole £50,000,000 was available over the period of 10 years, does not seem to me in the light of the knowledge we have gained in the last four years to meet the case at all. Therefore, I have expressly in my answer reserved the right to apply to the Chancellor and to discuss with my colleagues, not merely for the restoration of the unspent balance, but for a review of the original sum of £5,000,000 in the light of the experience we have gained, and the doubts which our experience has thrown upon its adequacy. I sincerely hope that when the time comes hon. Members on all sides will support that view, that if we are to do our duty properly by the Colonial territories we should provide over a period of years—I am not asking this as a permanent dole, something which would make real self-government almost a farce—something that can give them the capital equipment and start them on the road which will develop their own resources out of which they can meet these permanent charges. I hope they will be behind it. The hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. John Dugdale), who spoke so bravely to-day, challenged the hon. and gallant Member for Hornsey—who has wilted under the challenge—that if he would be prepared to spend money for health services in Hornsey, he must be equally prepared to spend it in Jamaica. I hope he will be as good as his word, and that if a choice has to come to the people of this country and this House between spending more money in the Colonies and having some extra tit-bit at home, maybe in West Bromwich, the hon. Gentleman will be on the side of the angels.

I am very glad that we have had this Debate. I hope it has given me the opportunity to remove some misconceptions, and I hope it will give me and the whole House a chance now to set at rest the malicious story which is being put around by people who cannot have the best interests of this country or the Colonial dependencies at heart. The story runs like this, that nobody had ever thought of doing anything to help the Colonies until Dunkirk; that in that dark moment when the Empire might have fallen away from us the Colonial Secretary came down to the House of Commons and introduced—[Interruption.] I am speaking quite seriously. It is a reaction that has been met by lecturers on Colonial affair in *the last few months. It is a story which I think hon. Members would like to hear, and that they would like to be in a position, when it came to their ears, to be able to refute it. Perhaps, if the hon. Member does not mind—

Mr. lathers (Linlithgow)

May I say that I was asking my hon. Friends behind me whether they knew the origin of this story, and had they heard it? The re- sponse I got was that it was a new one to them. We are glad to have the story and the refutation of it.

Colonel Stanley

To continue, the story is that my predecessor came down with this Act of Parliament, this Colonial Development and Welfare Act, which was merely intended as some bribe to throw out in those dark days, and that now things have improved, now that victory is more assured, we have no intention of implementing the offer that was made then, and made with the knowledge that we would not be able to spend this money. I am sure the whole House will join with me in affirming that that is nothing but a malicious lie. In the first place, no hon. Member of this House who knows how Acts of Parliament are given birth to, thinks that the Colonial Welfare and Development Act could have been conceived in May and brought to birth in this House in June. It was, of course, the product of many months of thinking, starting from the time, as the hon. Member says, of the West Indian Commission. Secondly, I hope that I have given, to the best of my ability, an explanation of why it has been impossible, during these four years, to spend all that money; and, thirdly, I think that the whole temper of the House shows that we are quite determined that, in future, we shall not only stick to the terms of the Colonial Welfare and Development Act, but that we are prepared to face what I believe will be the bigger burden that we shall have to bear if we are properly to discharge our responsibility. I am sure that hon. Members will take every opportunity they have, if that story comes to their ears, of refuting it. For that reason, I welcome the opportunity that the hon. Gentleman has given us of this Debate.

Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)

It would be contrary to the procedure of this House for me to take part in this Debate, because I have heard only the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech, but I think the Colonial Secretary will agree with me, although he and I may disagree with the views which my hon. Friends hold, that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) and others have done good service in bringing forward matters connected with the Colonial dependencies. In the past we have gone through Session after Session, without Colonial affairs corning up. Now, under the Rules of the House, there is always an Adjournment Motion, of which we can take advantage, and I suggest that questions affecting the welfare of the Colonies and the dependencies might be brought up from time to time for Debate on the Adjournment. I am sure, as one who has some knowledge of the Colonial dependencies, that what most depresses the people in those dependencies is that their interests and their conditions, although occasionally mentioned in questions, are never raised in Debate. It is an excellent thing that these matters should be raised on the Adjournment by Members who are interested in them.

Colonel Stanley

The Noble Lord will realise that a Debate of this character is based on the unsatisfactory nature of a reply given by me, and he would not, therefore, expect me to agree with him.

Earl Winterton

I was just coming to that point. So far as I know, there is no reason, except a rather foolish convention, why matters should be raised on the Adjournment only after getting an unsatisfactory answer. Some of my hon. Friends may have noticed that when I want to raise matters on the Adjournment, I frequently say, "In view of the difficulty of dealing with this matter by question and answer, I shall raise it on the Adjournment." In view of the greater opportunity we have of dealing with matters on the Adjournment, we should, in this supreme Parliament of the Empire, take the opportunity to deal with Colonial matters in debate. I am grateful to my right hon. and gallant Friend for what I take to be an indication of his assent to that proposition.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.