§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 12.2 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I have, in the course of the last few years, been responsible for introducing into this House a good number of Bills. Many of them have been very long, many of them have been quite unintelligible and many of them have been most controversial. I think that I can say at least for this Bill, that it suffers from none of those three faults. In the first place, it is very short. In reducing it to three Clauses, I think I can claim that I have done it in only "one over par". It is, in the second place, intelligible and hon. Members will be interested to know that, although it was necessary to legislate by reference, because it entailed the amendment of an earlier Act, the draftsman, with great skill, has included in this Bill enough of the earlier Act to make the Amendments now proposed intelligible in themselves. Thirdly, I hope and believe that this Bill is uncontroversial, and whatever suggestions people may have to make, whatever improvements they may want, the principle underlying it is accepted in all parts of the House.
That being so, my task of explaining the Bill is certainly an easy one and, at any rate, should be a short one. It is necessary for me to refer to the old Act, and the particular provisions of that Act to which this new Bill will apply. The Second Reading of the Colonial Welfare and Development Act of 1940 was taken in this House although not, of course, in this actual Chamber, on 21st May, 1940, at a time when the Germans were just about as far from St. Stephen's as the Russians now are from Berlin. I was not present myself at that Debate. I was at that time trying to re-learn, as a subaltern, those lessons of prompt obedience and proper humility which, despite the persistent efforts of this House, Cabinet Ministers are apt to forget. However I have recently had the opportunity of re-reading those Debates, and anyone who 2093 reads them must be struck by the little effect which the gravity of the situation outside had upon the deliberations of the house. The speeches one reads had all their old eloquence, all their old confidence and, indeed, all their old length.
Certainly that Debate, which took place at such a grave moment in our history, when hon. Members might have been excused for having their minds full of other things, was a landmark in Colonial policy. It marked for the first time, a complete departure from the old doctrine of self-sufficiency—the doctrine that, although it must be wrong for this country to take money from the Colonies, equally, there was no necessity for this country to give money to the Colonies; and that every Colony must develop its own resources from its own resources. That was a doctrine which led to growing inequality between the standards in the various Colonies for, whereas a country which was already rich, by the use of those riches could further develop its own resources, a colony which was poor had not the means to take the only step which could in the future relieve that poverty. It is because of this Act which, though perhaps small in its scope, was revolutionary in its effect, that the name of my predecessor in office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald) will always have an honourable place in the history of Colonial administration.
Now hon. Members who are interested in this subject—and it is, I think, a gratifying thing that the number of hon. Members who are interested in the subject of the Colonial Empire is continually growing—will remember the main provisions of the Act of 1940. The effect of it was to provide annually a sum of £5,000,000 for welfare and development and a sum of £500,000 for research annually over a period of 10 years from 1941 to 1951. Of course, one of the difficulties of the Bill was that that was an annual provision, and any of that £5,000,000 which was not spent in one year could not be carried over to the next but had to be returned to the Treasury—that bourne from which no traveller returns, at least as long as he has anything in his pocket.
The House was warned at the time by my predecessor that war conditions made it unlikely that in the early stages of this 10-year period it would be possible to 2094 spend the full amount granted by the Act. I think anyone who had had any close touch with any of the Colonial territories in the last two years, must realise how true was that warning. He warned the House of the difficulties of supply, the difficulties of imported materials which, in many Colonies that have no mineral resources of their own, are essential preliminaries to any constructional scheme whatsoever. He warned them of the shortage of skilled personnel which would be needed either to supervise capital development or to maintain long term planning, and in some Colonies he warned them of an actual shortage of labour where the drains upon local manpower for military service or for essential production left no margin for new work. Those warnings were perfectly justified. In fact, in the early years of this period, the sums granted by Parliament were largely unused. Only £1,000,000 was was actually spent in the first three years, and only just over £2,500,000 in the first four years of the life of this scheme. I think it says much for the enthusiasm and the far-sightedness of hon. Members in this House that, even despite the practical difficulties which will prevent the full expenditure of the sum at the time, hon. Members from all sides during Colonial Debates that we have had in recent years have been urging the necessity, for the future, of an increase in the sum allotted under the 1940 Act.
The theoretical advantage of an increase of that kind which was urged in those days has become to-day not a matter of theory but a practical necessity. Recently the tempo of expenditure under the 1940 Act has been immensely increased. I do not mean for one minute that those difficulties to which I have referred have disappeared; in fact, with the continuance of the war they tend, as hon. Members will realise, to increase, but the effect of three years persistent effort to overcome difficulties, to bring forward and put into execution schemes, slowly at first but increasing afterwards, are now beginning to have their result and in the year 1944–5, the financial year just ending, the total expenditure—including a Supplementary Estimate which I shall have to ask the House to pass—will be £3,000,000 or more in this year, than has been spent in the whole four years of the life of the Act. In an Estimate which I shall shortly present to the House for next year, I shall 2095 have to ask for within a few thousand pounds of the full sum permitted by the 1940 Act. It is clear, therefore, that the increase which will be made by this Act, has become now not a matter of theory, but a matter of practical necessity.
§ Colonel Stanley
Perhaps the hon. Member could raise that by a Question. I have the figures here but I could give them in the reply.
With regard to the principal changes made by the Bill, the Second Reading of which I am now proposing, the first, and to my mind the most important change is that it abolishes this principle of annual accounting and the surrender to the Exchequer of any sum which has not been spent in the particular year. That principle has, of course, been disastrous in times of the shortages, to which I have referred, when the money could not be spent, because it has meant—or would have meant, if it had not been for this amending Act—that a great deal of that money which this House intended to be spent for the benefit of the Colonies, would never have been spent. It is not only disastrous in the particular circumstances of to-day, but it would be a severe handicap, even in more normal times, when there would be no difficulty in actually spending each year the money provided because this kind of annual accounting—this permission to spend an equal sum in each of the 10 years of a 10 year period—does not in fact coincide, as hon. Members know well, with the facts of any long-term planning. You do not in any long-term plan, in fact, spend an equal sum of money every year. You start slowly as the plan is developing, you work up to a climax and then, in the latter years, you tend to come down again to the original figure.
The great benefit, therefore, of this new method of granting a capital sum over the whole 10 years, subject only to the limitation that no more than £17,500,000 may be spent in one year—a limitation introduced simply to prevent upsetting the equilibrium of our Budget here by including in one particular year perhaps half of the whole sum provided—is that it will enable us to spend the money according to the dictates of a properly 2096 worked out and adhered to long-term plan. The second, the main, change is that the sums made available under this Bill are rather more than double the sums made available under the Act of 1940. It would be rather more than double if comparing like with like, but owing to the abolition of the annual period, and the greater ease with which we shall be able to spend this money economically and efficiently, I think the increase really represents in practical value a good deal more than double. Thirdly, there is the extension of the term. The original term was from the end of March, 1941, to the end of March, 1951. The term now will run from 1946 to 1956. So much for the alterations made in Clause 1.
Let me refer for a short time to a small but interesting point with which I have had to deal by Clause 2. Hon. Members will recollect that one of the conditions laid down in the original Act for the expenditure of these sums was that in the Colony where the money was to be expended reasonable facilities should be provided for the establishment and the working of trade unions. That instruction of the House has, of course, been loyally observed, but there is this one special case of the Aden Protectorate where it is quite impossible to carry out those instructions. In respect of that I have, therefore, to refer to the House again. This has nothing to do with Aden Colony.
That is administered by His Majesty's Government, and certainly there exists upon the Statute Book the standard type of trade union legislation. This Clause refers not to the Colony but to the bulk of Protectorates which surround the Colony and which, for many years, have been in treaty relations, and no more than treaty relations, with His Majesty's Government. Among these small independent territories, all, of course, Arab and Mohammedan, there are one or two of considerable size (Lahej) in the west and Makalla in the East. In Makalla at any rate there is a form of legislative machinery but in the great mass of them, some of them not much more than a village, but all independant of each other, there is no legislative machinery whatsoever. The only written law which exists is the Sharia—the old Mohammedan law. There is no law-making machinery whatsoever, and His Majesty's Government, linked with these territories merely by a treaty which deals with their relationship 2097 with foreign Powers—or in some cases with the reception of advice—have no power whatsoever to legislate for them.
Of course, there are no trade unions in those territories, nor are there ever likely to be, because there is no industry in which trade unionists would be employed. Their principal industries, at the moment, are agriculture—sometimes—and, I am sorry to say, a certain amount of internecine warfare almost always; and neither of those particular branches lends itself easily to the formation of a trade union. Therefore, this is very largely a theoretical point. It is certain that under the provisions of the Act as they stand not only could we not now give them any assistance but that the conditions of the Act are never likely to be fulfilled, and yet His Majesty's Government do think that limited assistance ought to be given to them. These territories have been going through a time of very great economic hardship. From some of them there was a great deal of emigration before the war to places such as Malaya or the Dutch East Indies, and the fall of those countries has brought them a very big economic loss. All over the area there has been, during the last year or two, a terrible drought, which fortunately has broken within the last few months, and these territories, backward always, have lately been in a state of great destitution. It is true that our link with them is small, that we could, as we are not responsible for their administration, disclaim any responsibility for their welfare, but I think that would be wrong. We ought to do what we can without in any way interfering with their own administration, without in any way sapping their own self-reliance, because in that terribly barren country that would be a disaster. We ought to give them what help we can with such things as water schemes, and also simple medical assistance, to enable them to make a start, at any rate, in developing a better standard of life. It is for that reason that I propose this change to the House because I believe that only so can we bring a certain much-needed relief to people who to-day are suffering a great deal of hardship.
Those, I think, are the only comments I need make upon the actual provisions of the Bill, and I turn now to what I am sure will be the main argument about a Bill the fundamental reception of which I take for granted. The main argument 2098 I feel will be over the size of the sum of money which we make available, the £120,000,000 spread over this period of 10 years. The size of that sum may be criticised from two angles, one the more likely to-day the other perhaps more likely in the future. The question which is more likely to be advanced to-day is, Is it enough? The second, a question which someone standing in this place may well have to meet in future years, is, Is it too much? A time may come when hard-pressed taxpayers and hard-pressed electors here may begin to question the sums voted in this House even when they are of a magnitude which, in comparison with the sums in which we deal to-day, is as small as £120,000,000. They may want to have arguments advanced as to why that burden is placed upon them.
Let me deal first with the question whether this sum is enough. We must keep two points in mind. First we have to consider the object of this fund. I want to make it plain that this fund is not, is never intended to be and never could be the sole and permanent support of all the social requirements of the whole of the Colonial Empire. If it were on that basis, those calculations with which the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) sometimes favours us—with enthusiasm and, I am sure, with accuracy, although I must say I have never checked them—when he translates the sums voted for the Colonial Empire as a whole into the amounts spent upon the male portion of the inhabitants of the upper portions of Nigeria, would be quite a valid criticism. But, of course, on that basis one can make any sum of money ridiculous. If that were the basis, and if the sum that Parliament is asked to vote were meant by itself to sustain the whole of this social expenditure, one could easily make it appear niggardly and insufficient. If I were to-day introducing a Bill not to provide over the 10 years the sum of £120,000,000 but the sum of £3,000,000,000, the hon. Member for Dewsbury would still be entitled to complain that we were "fobbing off" the Colonies with a paltry sum of 1s. 10d. per head per week for the whole of their social services.
§ Colonel Stanley
Of course, that is not the object. In the long run the social standards of a country must depend upon 2099 its own resources, must depend upon the skill and energy of its own people, and the wise and full use which they make of their internal wealth. It is not right and it is not healthy to attempt to maintain permanently out of the skill and efforts of our people the social standards of the Colonial territories. That, therefore, is not the object of this Bill. The object is to give the territories the help that they want and must have if they are to start for themselves the process of developing their own resources. It is not true to say that this sum is meant as capital expenditure, because it is possible to spend some of it not only on actual capital work but in contributions to the early maintenance of the works erected, for it to be in the nature of a pump primer to enable people to start their education and health services, to develop their communications and to deal with their water power in the confident belier that when they have been enabled to make that start it will lead to an increase of their own resources, and that out of their resources they will then be able to maintain a decent social standard.
The second thing we have to remember is that the sum which the House is being asked to vote to-day is not the only source upon which the colony, or certainly many colonies, can draw for these purposes and is certainly not meant to replace those other sources. It is not in substitution for them but intended to assist them. During the course of the war many colonies have built up considerable balances of their own which in many cases have been lent to His Majesty's Government for the purposes of the war, free of interest. That is a source which they can use and which they must use for their own development. During the war the revenues of many colonies have increased and in nearly all the colonies the taxation machinery has been improved, with the result that a larger proportion of the resources are at the command of Government. In some of the colonies, in addition to these possibilities, there is a considerable possibility of the raising of internal loan capital for national expenditure of this kind. All these alternative means have to be taken into consideration.
Finally, there is the question of private capital available both inside the territories and from outside. Frankly I welcome the provision of private capital to 2100 develop the economy and any particularly secondary industries of these territories. I believe it is only if we can get sufficient assistance from private capital that a full measure of development will be possible, because the resources of both the Colonial Governments and His Majesty's Government here will be fully allocated on what I might call the national development side. So we shall welcome the introduction of private capital. But to all those in this country or elsewhere who wish to, and think of investing after the war in productive work in the Colonies I want to make these few points.
In the first place, I do not believe—and it certainly will not be the intention of the Administration to bring it about—that there will be an opening after the war for the "get rich quick" type of private investors, people who are prepared to face losses but, in return, expect staggering profits. But there will, I think, be opportunity for a reasonable dividend, and for reasonable security. In the second place, the private capitalist, if he invests in Colonial territories, has no right to, and cannot expect, any privileged position. He has a right to, and will expect, and, I hope, will get, a position of equity and fairness, but he has no right to ask for more than that. Thirdly, he will have to come into the territory as a partner, and not as a master. There can be no question again in the future of private enterprises acquiring, as in the past they sometimes did in some corners of the Colonial Empire, what was almost a dominant position, from which they attempted to threaten the authority of the Government itself.
So much for the investment which we hope for from outside. I believe there will be a growing opportunity for private investment, from capital inside the territories. It is obviously desirable that the people of the territories themselves should be linked, through their capital contributions, with the industries of their own country. They have, undoubtedly, growing resources at their command for such purposes, but there are certain difficulties in the way at the moment of any large-scale private investment. The first is that the ordinary capitalist in many of the Colonial territories to-day expects a great deal too big a return on his available capital, and is apt to find that the only productive branch of industry which will give a return 2101 of that kind is the old-fashioned industry of money-lending. He will have to go through a period of education, so that he is prepared to accept a small return and a less risk on what may be considered to be the more reputable forms of industrial production. Another difficulty at the moment is that to a large extent he is lacking in managerial experience and capacity and, therefore, that he is not in a position at the moment to supply not only capital but direction of the new businesses which are set up. I hope that both these difficulties will pass, but we have to guard against the danger that while those difficulties exist, while local capital is not coming forward in sufficient quantity, all the holes will be filled up, that all industrial opportunities will be taken, and that when people become more investment-minded and more managerially fit they will find no place left for them.
I think an interesting possibility for us to consider is that of Colonial Development Companies, perhaps run by the Colonial Governments, which will be able to provide capital and managerial experience, which will be able to assist the local investor and be able to enter into partnership with the investor from outside, not with the idea of itself going into industrial businesses and running those industries permanently, but with the idea of filling this gap, to give enterprise a start, and gradually to be able to pass over to the private investor in the Colony, both the capital burden and the managerial responsibility in the industries—the same sort of thing which is to be done by those Corporations to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently been referring in this House.
It is with those considerations, the alternative Governmental sources and the resources of private capital in mind, that I have examined the sum which I shall ask the House to vote to-day. Of course, it would have been very easy for me simply to have doubled the number I first thought of, to have put up a proposition not for £120,000,000 but for £250,000,000 or £500,000,000, and thereby no doubt to have got a good deal of kudos. But we have to think of the other side of the picture. We have to think of the taxpayer of this country, and of the future of this country, because neither 2102 £50,000,000 nor £100,000,000 would really be a very good bargain for the Colonial Empire if it was accompanied by the bankruptcy of the Mother country. It is, therefore, the duty of anyone in my position not to ask for more from the taxpayer of this country and from this House, than he considers really necessary for the job which has to be done.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer met me on this point with very great fairness, but he did need to be convinced that I thought that this sum was really needed, and was required to do the job. Of course, it is very difficult to make an exact calculation, especially for a period of 10 years, but it is a good deal easier to make it now than it was for my predecessor to make it in 1940. During those five years we have collected a great deal more data. The work of the Development Commissioner in the West Indies, and certain long-term plans which are already beginning to come forward from other Colonies, do give one, to-day, some idea of the requirements which will fall upon us, and I feel that in recommending this sum of £120,000,000 to the House I am recommending a sum which will be sufficient for the purposes which the House has in mind, and which will not cast an unnecessary or extravagant burden on the taxpayer of this country. It is always in the hands of this or a subsequent Parliament, if they feel that any necessary changes can be made with the progress of the years, to decide that not only do the Colonies need a larger sum but that Great Britain can afford it.
Perhaps I may say one word on the other side, as to the need for this sum and why we should be granting it at all. There are no direct benefits which the taxpayer of this country gets from the Colonial Empire. There is no contribution made by the Colonial Governments to the Treasury here, no relief from Colonial sources of the burdens of the home taxpayer, although it is the popular belief, as I discovered throughout the United States, that we draw, annually, enormous sums from the Colonies, and that it is because of that that our direct taxation to-day stands at such a low level. Nor, again, as against the popular belief there is there any closed door in the Colonial markets. You would think to hear some people talk about Imperial preference that the result of it had been 2103 to bang, bolt and bar the door of Colonial markets to anything except goods from Great Britain, and it causes considerable surprise when they are told that in the last year before the war only 24 per cent. of the imports into Colonial territories came from Great Britain, and that 76 per cent. came from the rest of the world, and that of Colonial produce only 35 per cent. came to this country while the rest of the world took 65 per cent. The other line which is always taken is about the enormous profits made to-day by private industry out of Colonial territories. It is true that there have been some good bargains, that some big profits have been made, and we hear about them. They are written about in the newspapers, and hon. Members ask Questions about them. But there have been bad bargains; a great deal of money has been lost, a great deal of capital has never been heard of again at all.
§ Colonel Stanley
I know that £1,000,000 was spent on a railway in Bermuda, from which not one penny of dividend has ever been paid, and that practically all the capital has already been lost.
§ Dr. Morgan
I wish the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would give me a chance. I do not know what he means by that. If he can produce any evidence that any Members of this House have put before him plans equal to those I have put before him, I will bow my head and salaam.
§ Colonel Stanley
The reward the hon. Member offers is so inviting, that I will certainly do my best to satisfy him. It is only fair to tell the House that Lord Hailey, a great expert on these matters, made a survey showing the returns which investors in this country had got from their investments in the Colonies during the past 50 years, and came to the conclusion that they are getting about as much to-day as if, instead of having invested in various enterprises in the Colonies, they had invested in gilt-edged securities in this country. It is, therefore, 2104 difficult to say that that represents a great degree of exploitation.
If people say, "Why spend money at all, if you have no direct gain?" I would say that I believe that we in this country have a feeling of responsibility. These Colonies have been linked with us, many over a long period, some for a shorter period, but all through a period of great stress and strain, during which they have stood loyally by us. When I was in America, I had described to me by many people certain of the feelings of the people of the United States, among them what one person described as their particular virtue, a burning desire to help the under-privileged. That is a burning and, I am sure, sincere desire, but it seems to be a matter of coincidence that all those grievances which show most clearly, and the remedies pressed for most strongly, are always in the responsibility of somebody else. I do not believe that that feeling of desire to help the unfortunate elsewhere, is the monopoly of America. I believe it is possessed by our people, too; I believe there is a genuine desire among the people of this country to help, even at some sacrifice to themselves, people with whom they have been so long associated to a better standard of life.
Further, there is the point of the strategic importance of the Colonies. I do not believe any of us would be here to-day in this Chamber, doing what we are doing, if it had not been for the Colonial Empire. It is not only their contribution in manpower and material resources. If we had not had the strategic position which the Colonial Empire supplies, if we had not had our convoy assembling point at Freetown or our Trans-African reinforcements routes for the Middle East, I do not believe this country would have survived the period during which we had to stand alone. I believe that just as in this war, so in peace time, it is the amalgamation of this country and the Colonial Empire which has been able to stand so firm. I believe that in the future that amalgamation can really contribute power and support to a world organisation, far greater in its utility than the contribution that could be made by the United Kingdom alone, and 35 separate Colonial territories.
Finally, there is the question of economic advantage. I have told the House already of the position in the past. 2105 The whole House is committed to the doctrine of trusteeship and beyond trusteeship, partnership. That does not permit any of us to consider, or to advocate that the economic set-up of the Colonies should be dictated, not by what is good for the Colonies, but what would be good for us. The two things are not mutually exclusive. There is no reason why something that is good for the Colonies, should not be good for us too, but surely we are not going the absurd length of saying we will refuse to do things which are good for the Colonies because they might also be of advantage to us. That was the line taken by one of the West Indian papers of rather extreme views on a recent statement that I made. It is a real reductio ad absurdum. In the Colonial Empire, we have millions of people at present on a low standard of life. If we can make even a comparatively small addition to their purchasing power there will be presented vast new markets which will be of great advantage to them and from which we now can draw our advantage.
I have dealt in the past with the objects on which the money is to be expended and the machinery for planning. I do not want to go over it again to-day. There is however one new point to which I wish to refer and that is the recent appointment of Sir Frank Stockdale as Adviser on Development at the Colonial Office. Sir Frank Stockdale as Comptroller of Development in the West Indies, has done invaluable work, but I felt that in the new circumstances, whatever the needs of the West Indies, he has just that wisdom and experience that are exceptionally needed over here. I have made it plain that there must be no question of detailed planning done in this country. It is not the idea of the administration of the Act, to impose on the Colonies a new heaven pre-fabricated in Whitehall. In the first place, you cannot do that kind of detailed planning efficiently in this country. We cannot sit round a table here, and say if they are going to have 15 new schools in Jamaica, what are the exact sites on which to put them. Apart from any question of doing it efficiently, it is wrong to try to do it, because you have to allow the maximum opportunity for the people of the territories themselves to be associated with this planning, since it is their future that is being planned. It is their life 2106 that is affected and therefore it is they who must have the greater say.
But there remain to us two different duties. One is the kind of mechanical supervision; to go into the various plans, to see that contracts have been properly drawn up, and that proper financial steps have been taken to get the right estimates, and to see that where technical advice is required that advice is taken. That can easily be done by an official committee. But there is a second point of supervision an all-over supervision which we must exercise. We have to see first, that there is a sound and proper division of the money that is available between the Colonies, that because one Colony comes forward earlier or can put its demand with more force or attraction, it is not getting at the expense of the others, more than the share it should be allowed. Even more important is to choose, in the plans put forward by each Colony, between the various objects, to see that a proper balance is kept between the development and the welfare side, between the demands of health or education, and between agriculture and industry. Finally there is the duty of seeing that the experience that we get from developments in one Colony, is available for the use and the profit of planners in all the other Colonies. That kind of supervision which is essential for the wise expenditure of this sum has to be exercised from this country, and it is to that that I am looking to Sir Frank Stockdale for invaluable help.
I do not pretend that even when this Bill is passed, everything can be done at once. The conditions that have hampered us during the last 4 or 5 years are still there—if anything they are worse. If anything, it is more difficult to get imported materials from elsewhere now that the great source of supply in America is so hard pressed. The continual wastage of 5 years has left the pool of technical advice available even smaller than it was 5 years ago.
§ Colonel Stanley
In this country or anywhere. It is no good thinking that even when the war comes to an end, some of these conditions will disappear quickly. To my mind the most serious of all, because it takes the longest to remedy, is the shortage of tried personnel, a shortage 2107 which I am finding in every branch of administration and technical knowledge. It is not possible with the shortages which we experience, even to maintain the ordinary standards of administration to which we have been accustomed, and to which we aspire, let alone to make those great improvements to which we look forward. I remember a year or two ago making a speech on the Estimates and devoting a great deal of it to the question of higher education in the Colonies. Some of my hon. Friends thought it was out of proportion. They thought that "first things should come first," and that higher education was not among the first things. It was just because of this appalling shortage which was coming then, that I laid insistence upon higher education in the Colonies; because even when the war ends, it will not be easy to find these people. The universities of this country are going to be overwhelmed with applications to train people who will be needed here. It will not be easy to find room for the enormous number of technically-trained people, who will be required in the Colonies to carry out the various schemes which we have in mind, and for that reason the early setting up of a decent standard of higher education in the Colonial territories, is an absolute necessity for the proper development of the territories themselves, and for the proper implementation of the sums which, I hope, Parliament is now going to give
§ Colonel Stanley
Neither has reported. I am hoping that, when the chairman of the Eliot Commission returns from other lands which he has been investigating I shall soon get his report, and the Irvine report on the university system.
§ Dr. Morgan
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman talks about the shortage of technicians. Does he mean technicians on the old lines, European trained, or the new aspect of the problem, from the point of view of the training of local individuals who might have the aptitude to become excellent technicians if they were not excluded by the old policy from being able to get the necessary training?
§ Colonel Stanley
I am talking of the shortage of people who are now trained or 2108 who can be trained in the near future from any source. Very special provisions have been made under war difficulties to give what training is possible to people from the Colonies.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give any sort of date when he expects to receive the Eliot report?
§ Colonel Stanley
I am afraid not. It depends on the return of the chairman from Russia.
There is nothing more that I can say in commending the Bill to the House, I think the imagination of anyone who has had any connection with the Colonies, in whatever form, must have been fired by the problem, by the immense amount that there is to do, and by the immense importance of how we do it—if we do it ill, what there is to lose and if we do it well, what there is to gain. Nothing less than the affection, loyalty and mutual support of over 60,000,000 people will depend on the decisions that we take and the acts that we do over the next ten years. None of us can expect to see the task accomplished by ourselves or even perhaps in our time. All we can ask is that we shall be given the chance of laying a few bricks, and that those few bricks shall be a secure foundation on which others can build. I believe that in passing this Bill, the House of Commons will be building on a sure foundation. I believe that when the goal we have in mind has been reached, people may look back on this Bill and its predecessors as landmarks on the road.
§ 12.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence (Edinburgh, East)
In common with other Members, I have listened with the greatest interest to the statement that has just been made by the Colonial Secretary. I could have wished that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) had been able to be here to follow the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and, from his great fund of knowledge, deal adequately with this Bill. Unfortunately, he is away on a mission abroad and I have, at short notice, to take his place.
I welcome the Bill, I welcome the increase of the money, and the general expansion to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has referred. I think 2109 I can express, in a sentence, the change that has taken place in our outlook in the last few years—it is the realisation of the fact that we cannot run an Empire on the cheap. There have been several stages in the attitude of the Mother Country to the Colonies. The first was that in which it was supposed that a Colony would be a kind of milch cow for the public Exchequer at home. That idea was rather seriously disturbed a good long time ago when the people of what is now the United States had a different theory from us at home, as to the relationship between what was then called a Colony, and the Mother Country. The second stage was the one to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman referred, when he said that we were to be a trustee of the Colonies and that, while not taking money from them for our own Exchequer, we would be expected to pay none out. That was a time when, as a subsidiary advantage of Colonies, they were looked upon as an emigration centre, for free men and, at the same time, a dumping ground for the less desirable elements in our population. In the 19th century the position was exploited by a large number of people who in some cases for good motives, and in some cases for indifferent ones, devoted capital to these countries and succeeded, for a time at any rate, in drawing a considerable income from them.
Now we have reached the third stage, when we recognise that we have to pay out of our Exchequer money in order to develop our Colonies. That stage is a very important one, and I do not quarrel with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in his description of the indirect benefits that we get from our Colonial Empire. I agree with him that the public Exchequer cannot look for direct relief of taxation, but that we have to spend money and that we shall gain, and are already gaining, immense benefits from the Empire in indirect ways. There is one point with regard to that that I think needs to be made. Concurrently with this change of view, it is only in the last 20 years or so that we have woken up to the fact that in matters of labour, the Colonies have been dealt with in conformity with ideas that dated back before the middle of the 19th century. When some of my hon. Friends came to look into the state of the labour legislation and what was going on in the Colonies 2110 after the first quarter of this century had gone by, they found that the Colonies had remained in the same position as we were in, in this country, nearly 100 years before. We are not having a general Debate on Colonial policy on this Bill, but certain aspects of that matter enter into the subject matter proper of the Bill, and before I sit down I shall take an opportunity of saying one or two words on them.
I welcome the Bill, as I say, and I do not quarrel with the main argument that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman developed in the latter part of his speech about the uses of the money. Such criticism as I put forward will be more, I hope, in the nature of constructive suggestions than fault-finding, either with the terms of the Bill, or with what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said in its defence. There are two salient matters upon which the House needs assurance. The first is the machinery, and the second is the use of the money. With regard to the machinery, there is, I think, among us all, a widespread satisfaction at and admiration for the work of Sir Frank Stockdale. In his coming to this country to take a still more important position, we recognise not only merit appreciated, but the greater opportunities which the very wise head and heart of Sir Frank have of being utilised to the best advantage.
What I want to insist on is that the method adopted by Sir Frank Stockdale in the West Indies shall not only be allowed to go on there under other individuals, but that similar machinery shall come into existence for other parts of the Empire. There are the West African colonies. I know that Lord Swinton was entrusted with a commission there, and that he carried it through, up to a certain extent well, but, of course, he had not got the machinery which Sir Frank Stockdale had. We have to deal not only with one West African Colony but with several, and they all want individual treatment. Then we have the East African Colonies and other parts of the Empire, which certainly need careful, meticulous and individual attention.
I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is considering now what will be the position of Malaya when it is wrested from the Japanese. I hope that he will not allow it to get too much under 2111 the control of private enterprise, but that he will hold up the end of the Colonial Office in dealing with that very important part of the world, which will, we hope, within a measurable space of time, be recovered for the Empire. The West Indies have been the subject matter of special attention. Special attention has been given to another part of the Empire recently, to which I shall make a little longer reference later on. I refer to Mauritius. It is right that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should pay attention to these parts of the world, but I should like to ask why that extra attention was paid. It was paid because there were revolts in those countries which reached serious proportions. It is perfectly right that we should investigate a revolt—
§ Colonel Stanley
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not use the word "revolt." If he looks at the facts of the Mauritius situation, he will find that it was a riot on one sugar estate, and he will realise that "revolt" is a word that might be misconceived.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
I accept the correction. I should not have used the word "revolt," but "riotous behaviour" or some such phrase. The word "revolt" conveys the idea that there was a wish to throw off the British yoke, but that was not my meaning, and I accept the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's desire for a different word. The point I am making is that it is right the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should send out a commission when trouble arises, but it is still more important that he should try to satisfy grievances before they come to the point of disturbance and trouble. A good employer does not wait to improve the conditions of his staff until there is overt disaffection. He realises that the conditions are not what they should be, and he gets to work in good time and sees that they are put right. That has not been the case hitherto with regard to many of the labour questions and the standards of living generally throughout the Colonies.
The second point to which I want to draw attention is the forms in which the money is to be expended. I hope that great care will be taken to see that the money is really utilised for valuable development, and is not allowed merely to go down the drain in sporadic enterprises 2112 which, however desirable they may appear at the moment, do not contribute lasting benefit to the Colonies. Then there is the question of time, and this is important in peace as well as in war. I should like to feel more assured than I am that there is no waste of time, between the laying of the egg by the special advisers of the Government, and the hatching out of the egg in the shape of definite decision and implementation by the Colonial Office. I should like to ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman two questions with regard to that. Is there, between the special advisers, such as Sir Frank Stockdale and his staff, and the permanent officials in the Colonies, that complete accord in all cases which there should be? Have there been occasions, and if so are they numerous, in which the permanent local officials of the Colonial Office have held down and delayed the presentation to the Colonial Office of schemes of development which have been put forward? I refer to the schemes of the Stockdale Commission and various schemes that have been put forward in the West Indies and elsewhere. Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman assure us that the local officials of the Colonial Office will not delay and prevent some of the proposals being brought to his attention for early implementation?
As to the length of time, can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give any idea of the average length of time between the formulation of a scheme and its realisation? Perhaps this is too vague a question, but it shows the sort of point I am trying to get across. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head and it may be impossible to answer the question, but can we be assured that there is no unnecessary delay, because time is the essence of these things? It is no use proposing a scheme which may be excellent in 1945 if it is to be 1947 or 1948 before work begins to be done on it.
The third question in relation to this matter is: Can we be assured that the local people are adequately consulted before schemes are crystallised into an unchangeable form? I do think that the opinion of the local population—I do not mean the man in the street, I mean the people who are in a position to know—is important, and their advice should be taken, so that there will be no excuse after the settlement for their saying, "Oh, well, this scheme was put down on us from 2113 above, we knew nothing about it, and we do not know whether it may or may not be good; it is not our concern and we are not really interested." I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will make sure that in the future, to a greater extent than in the past, the local people will be brought into the picture at a sufficiently early stage.
I come to a point which has arisen before. It is one on which the Colonial Secretary has already made promises and, I think, to some extent, has achieved fulfilment. That is the strengthening of the local institutions. The small departure from practice with regard to the trade unions which is announced to-day—as I understand, it is not really a departure, but simply a case of bringing into the picture of the Colonies, a country which is not really a Colony in the ordinary sense of the word—the fact that he has made that statement to-day shows the work that is being done in the implementation of his original promises, and very valuable work I am sure it is. It is of supreme importance to our methods of life that the trade union element in all parts of the British Empire should be strengthened. To-day, we are witnessing a new departure in world history, in the coming together of trade unionists from all over the world, to take part in an international conference. Perhaps there are Members who have not liked trade unions in the past, but I think there are few in the House to-day who really have their knife in them. We have come thoroughly to realise the immense value to this country and to other countries throughout the world of the trade union movement. I am very glad that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has found it possible to give the assurances introduced in statutory form, in days gone by, and I hope he will extend them, and see that their value is carried out in the future.
Then there is the matter of local government in these Colonies. I only mention that because I think it also is a factor which needs to be fully safeguarded. Lastly, the Minister has spoken in favour of co-operation, and of the co-operative movement in these Colonies, and he has made one or two answers in the course of the last year on that point. I hope he will keep that fully in mind, and I hope he will pay particular attention to what is being done in that direction.
2114 I now want to call attention to a somewhat different aspect of this matter. It is quite true, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and I myself have said, that the British taxpayer cannot look to be reimbursed directly for any money he spends but, of course, it would be quite wrong to assume that wealth is all flowing in one direction, from this country to the Colonies. These Colonies—some of them in particular—have great sources of wealth and in the course of their development, money is flowing, if not to the taxpayer, to other persons in this country; though perhaps not to the extent which some people outside the British Empire imagine to be true. What are the great sources of wealth? The land, the mines and the secondary industries which are beginning to be developed in these countries. I am not here to put a party point of view to-day, but at the same time I do feel most strongly that if the land of these Colonies is to be adequately developed, the Colonial Office and the British Empire must hold those lands, and not alienate them by concessions of the extensive character which have been carried out in the days gone by. I think, in saying what he did, that the Minister himself went some little way towards recognising that fact.
Then we come to the mines, which, after all, are one of the biggest sources of wealth of the Colonies. Again, I do not want merely to pursue a party line, but all parts of this House have taken the view—and it has been embodied in the programme of the Government and in an Act which is on the Statute Book, put forward by the Government—that so far as the ownership of the minerals themselves is concerned, they must be in the hands of the nation, even in this country. There, at any rate, we are on common ground, and I would like to impress on the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the importance in all our Colonies of the ownership of the minerals, the mining royalties, being entirely in the hands of the Government. Unless that be done, I think we shall fritter away a great source of Colonial wealth. I would wish to go further. I would wish that the mining operations also should be publicly owned but I cannot now ask the House to go all the way that I would like to go. I recognise that there have been concessions given in times gone by, and the Government might feel that, in certain Colonies, 2115 they are not prepared to go as far as I would wish.
Even so, there are questions which seem to me to merit special attention, attention in the interests of the well-being of the Colonies and, therefore, ultimately, of the Empire. There must be a much more strict control of the conditions under which the people of these countries are allowed to work. We cannot condone the low standard of living, of health and all the great evils which, wherever we have been called upon to ask for a special report, have come out in individual cases. That is the human side. Then when you come to taxation there is evidence to show that many of these mining companies have got off with much lower taxation than is really adequate in view of the circumstances. I think if a mining company is to be allowed to withdraw permanent wealth from the Colonies, a very substantial part of it, at any rate, should go into taxation for the Imperial benefit.
I come now to one or two points in particular. I wish to say a word about Mauritius. As I said at the beginning, I realise that this Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill is not an opportunity for a general discussion on conditions in the Colonies. But I would point out that what has been going on in Mauritius typifies some of the evils which we have not yet eradicated from our Colonial Empire. The report of the Commission which was sent out, I think, in 1943 and reported in 1944—
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
Well, a local inquiry—pointed out that wages are deplorably low, and that the cost-of-living allowance lags woefully behind the rise in the cost of living. The gap which existed a few years ago between the outlook of the employers and the employed, so far from being rectified, has worsened since 1937. The result has been that there has been grave dissatisfaction, amounting in some cases actually to riot. This single case bears out the contention that I have made that the Colonial Office has got to be rapid, when grievances are brought to its attention, in attempting to get them rectified before they work out in riot and disorder.
That brings us to this point. Has the Colonial Office really got on the spot an 2116 adequate staff to deal with internal conditions and to make proper recommendations in regard to the use of the money in this Bill? I see the Colonial Secretary smiles, for he himself said in the course of his speech that it is exceedingly difficult to get them. If he recognises the difficulty, I hope he will press at any rate for a certain number of the staff that he will require in the years that are to follow. We are not in this Bill looking only on the year 1945; we are looking ten years ahead. There are people in the British Empire, some in this country, some in outlying parts, men and women who could be of very great use to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in the years to come. We ought to be finding them now, or at any rate soon after the war comes to an end, and use them for developing these resources, not only in the individual places where individual attention will be required, but here in the Colonial Office at home, so that schemes will not run away into the sand, before they are put into complete operation.
There is one final point on which I would like more information. It relates to the Colonial troops that have served in the war. When the war is over, they will be going home. I would like to know whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is going to make sure, in connection with this development money, that when they get back after rendering great service to the Empire they are not forgotten. In days gone by, in this country our brave men in the Army and our sailors were very great heroes while a war lasted, but when the war came to an end they dragged out unhappy lives as unwanted men, unrecognised and unhonoured by their country. To-day we are hoping, with some confidence I think, that that will not be the case with regard to our British troops after this war. We want to be assured also that that will not be the case with regard to those fine fellows from the Colonies who have so loyally supported us.
A Question which was on the Paper to-day in the name of the hon. Member for Swindon (Sir W. Wakefield) and which was not reached, relates to the rehabilitation of these men. Perhaps the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will give us the answer to that Question when he replies. I really want him to go a little further, and to tell us that, through the medium 2117 of this money or by some other source, the human resources from the Colonial Empire which have proved so helpful during the war will be remembered and treated with the respect to which they are entitled when the war is over.
I end these few remarks, as I began, by welcoming the Bill, which I hope will receive a unanimous Second Reading, and by congratulating the right hon. and gallant Gentleman upon this opportunity of doing something to promote the economic interests of our Colonial Empire, so that it really may be not merely a jewel in the British Crown, but a lasting monument to the good sense and justice of the British people.
§ 1.33 p.m.
§ Mr. de Rothschild (Isle of Ely)
My first words must be to echo the last words of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, namely, to congratulate the Minister upon bringing forward the Bill, which I hope will have the unanimous support of the House. The Minister has just returned from one of his periodic trips, and he has at once seized the opportunity to put before us this interesting Measure. I heartily congratulate him upon the manner in which he is taking his fences, in true Liverpool fashion, of which he might really be proud.
Soon after I first came to this House, about 16 years ago, the first Colonial Development Bill was brought in by Mr. Lunn, the then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Our outlook in many matters has changed a good deal since then. In fact, a complete change has taken place, and nowhere has it been more in evidence than in the Colonial field. The Act of 1929 was conceived specifically with the idea of development only, and that upon a very small scale. Only £1,000,000 a year was voted. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman did not allude to it to-day. It was the beginning of a series of Development Bills, of which we have a further instalment to-day. The first Bill was introduced largely in connection with our own unemployment problem, and was aimed mainly at stimulating Colonial development in order to find work for the idle hands in this country. This purpose was definitely brought out by the Ministerial statement made at the time.
It was referred to by contrast when, in 1940, the present right hon. Gentle- 2118 man the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Sir M. MacDonald) introduced his own Measure, 11 years later. During those 11 years, the idea of trusteeship had definitely grown up in this country, and so the primary concern of the 1940 Act was really the Colonies themselves. In that Act, responsibility was recognised for the development of Colonial territories, of course, and also—and this was a novel feature—for the well-being of the Colonial people. It included welfare as well as development in its purposes. That Measure increased five-fold the amount which would be spent every year. In spite of the war, many schemes, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has told us, have already been started under the Bill, and under his own personal impulse in the last year or so more have been started than in the preceding year. Of course, in all that work we are prepared to support him. The Minister who was responsible for the 1940 Act recognised that economic schemes were the most important, because they aimed at helping the Colonies to stand on their own feet. This is true even to-day. In his speech at the time, the Minister said that some of the schemes could be maintained by funds provided by his Measure. I have not seen any report as to how far this has been done, but the Minister to-day did allude to it. It would be interesting to know how many schemes, and what schemes, are being so maintained at the present time, and to what extent money that has been voted is used for that purpose. If much is being done on those lines, the fund will become a pelican, feeding its young on its own blood, which might be suitable enough for a pelican, but not for a fund such as the one in which we are interested at the present time.
Another five years have gone by since the 1940 Act, and in that time our ideas have undergone a further change. To-day we think in terms of larger units. We have all become planners of future prosperity, as is usually the case when one is wallowing in adversity. The plans are all on a large scale. The Minister has taken advantage of this public attitude and public spirit, and we see it reflected in the Bill that he is bringing forward to-day. Curiously enough, in the 16 years that have passed since the first Colonial Development Act was put on the Statute Book, the increase of public money which 2119 may be spent yearly has been just over 16-fold. It is a striking chapter in the history of this matter, but that is not the most impressive change. There is a difference of real importance between this Bill and its predecessors, and that difference is not laid down in the Bill itself. It has been put before us and explained by the Minister. It might have been inferred, even before he had spoken, from the creation of the new post in the Colonial Office, that of Adviser on Development Planning. This appointment indicates that there is to be a central plan for the Empire as a whole, and that schemes will be scrutinised at the centre in the light not only of their value to each individual Colony, but of their value to the Empire as a whole. Large-scale planning is certainly the order of the day, and the Minister's conception of an Empire plan is in harmony with the times.
I congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on his choice of Sir Frank Stockdale as adviser. It is a choice that is particularly interesting to me. I learned to appreciate Sir Frank Stockdale's work when I had the pleasure of sitting with him on the Colonial Marketing Board, in the days when Lord Harlech was Colonial Secretary. I would like to say further that Sir Frank Stockdale happens to be a native of Wisbech, which is the largest town in my own constituency. His family have for long taken a great interest in the improvement of farming, and Wisbechians have followed Sir Frank Stockdale's career with interest. They will now no doubt also follow it with pride.
There is no doubt that the object of our Colonial development schemes must be the well-being of the Colonies concerned, but the reactions of other parts of the Empire must never be lost sight of. Some schemes, such as those relating to subsistence agriculture, soil conservation and the improvement of water supplies, will provoke no reaction, but schemes which involve an expansion of production are in a different category altogether. Here the question of equating production and consumption will undoubtedly arise. This matter goes beyond the boundaries of the British Empire and impinges upon the vast question of regionalism The British Empire is a very large unit and a balanced scheme of 2120 production and consumption would be very valuable. It would prevent the wrong kind of competition, which results in gluts and brings no real prosperity. The question of wartime industries will also need particular attention, whether they are industries which have sprung up since the war in order to satisfy temporary needs brought about by the war, or to provide commodities formerly obtained from territories now in enemy hands. Those industries will present particular and special problems, since in many cases they are turning out inferior articles at great cost.
But the equation of production and consumption must not lead to restricted production. On the contrary, there must be every effort to stimulate both production and consumption at the same time. The future of the Colonies depends upon the widest possible increase of production and consumption and upon the intensive development of Colonial resources, in their own interests, first, and then in the interests of the rest of the world. At present too many local resources are neglected. Professor Huxley has given examples of this neglect which he came upon in his journeys in Africa. The sleepers on the railways are made of imported iron instead of being made of local timber; cement is imported whereas it could be perfectly well made locally; fishermen's nets also are imported from outside instead of being made from local fibres, and so on. The use of local materials should be encouraged. There will still remain vast quantities of goods which will need to be imported into the Colonies—enough to keep our exporters busy and to help to provide work for the men and women of this country and other parts of the world.
It is not only the material resources which have been neglected; human beings have also been neglected, those human beings within whose territories that wealth at which we are aiming exists, and by whom this wealth must be developed. It is, no doubt, well known that the efficiency of the average African is less than half that of the average European owing to the effect of chronic diseases. Yet do not let us forget that the African has proved himself capable of reaching a very high standard of efficiency. This has been well demonstrated by the native members of the Forces, of whom the previous speaker has, justly, 2121 spoken so highly. To the men of the Colonial Empire we cannot fail to be grateful. These men have improved tremendously in physique and stamina under proper health and feeding conditions. It is essential that when these men return to civil life they, and the other men and women who share their existence, should find conditions as favourable as those provided for them in the Army—proper health services, sanitation, water supply. The tse-tse fly must be wiped out, as is being done; hookworm and bilharzia must be abolished. These things must go, and when they do we need not pat ourselves on the back for our philanthropy. If the resources of the Colonies are to be developed it can only be done by healthy and efficient people, who will thus benefit themselves, this country and the rest of the world.
But let our welfare schemes show a sense of proportion. I believe that some of the natives of the West Indies grow a thick, horny crust on their feet through walking, from their earliest days, on the sharpest shingles and the sharpest rocks in the world. This horny growth is a natural protection, more efficient than leather and hide. They may well make boots less necessary to the West Indian than a protein addition to his diet. Let us therefore give him protein before we burden him with boots, which would probably prove to be very ineffective on the sharp shingle and rocks of his country. In the same way, do not let us run for the welfare officer if we chance to meet a native woman in the wilds of West Africa, stark naked except for a pair of spectacles. Let us help the people of the Colonies wisely, and fit them to develop their riches and to send their surplus abroad to the ends of the earth. Let us make their raw materials accessible in the spirit of the Atlantic Charter and thus provide an answer to the still burning Colonial question.
This Bill was undoubtedly inspired by the vision of a fully developed Colonial Empire, an Empire pouring its good things from a full cornucopia, and sending them to the homes of those who need them in all parts of the world. A sum of £120,000,000 cannot translate this vision into fact. It can only prepare the ground, it can only open up the paths to be followed by commercial enterprise. An essential task in this connection is a 2122 survey of Colonial resources. This survey should be undertaken by the Colonial Office as soon as possible. Provision might well be made for it in this Bill under the heading of research. The two research councils which have been set up have undoubtedly made excellent beginnings, but the funds at their disposal have not increased proportionately with the funds for other purposes, and I venture to bring this to the attention of the Ministry.
In order to achieve the purpose of this Bill, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, capital from all quarters must be associated with its work. I was glad to hear him give an encouragement to private enterprise, to the traders, to the exporters, to the planters. Matters may, possibly, have to be made a little more attractive to them than is the case now. I agree that there should be no preference, no special privilege of any kind given to traders, to private enterprise, to find its way into our Colonial Empire, but there are many questions regarding which an adjustment of taxation is necessary. This needs looking into carefully. In fact, in some cases, remission of taxation in such schemes as those of public utilities, strongly asked for by Colonial Governments, might well prove cheaper in the long run for the Exchequer than the line of subsidies which is being taken at present.
I was very pleased to hear that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman envisaged the idea of the creation of a development company. I did not quite grasp whether he meant a development company which would act for the whole of the Colonial Empire, or a number of development companies acting in the various Colonies themselves. I like the idea of a development company, on the lines of the Finance Corporations which the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently described in this House, with the idea of furthering the development of industry in this country.
It may very well be, however, that these proposals put forward by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will not be enough. May I say here that I heard with interest the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) putting forward in this House, when we debated the question of helping the export trade of this country, the idea that a State trading corporation 2123 should be set up in this country on behalf of the Government, which would co-operate with private enterprise to help our industries. I suggest that this idea might well be probed and studied in regard to the Colonial Empire. A vast undertaking of that kind, subsidised, helped, founded by the Government under the aegis of the Colonial Office, with the wealth of advice which is at the disposal of the Colonial Office itself, with all the knowledge of the Colonial governors and the Colonial administrations to help it, centralising in London the direction of this vast enterprise, helping to improve the standard of living of the 60,000,000 people in the Colonies, is one which cannot fail to prove attractive. It is one which I think is well worth studying. It would undoubtedly be a novel departure, but I think it is conceivable that some great organisation of that kind should be set up in which private enterprise, financial corporations and the Government—the Exchequer itself—can co-operate, in order to develop harmoniously a Colonial Empire of which we can really be proud.
§ 1.57 p.m.
§ Mr. De Chair (Norfolk, South Western)
I join with the last two speakers from the Liberal and Labour benches in hoping that the House will give this Bill a unanimous Second Reading. It is a hopeful augury for the future of the Colonial Empire that its affairs stand here above the controversies of party. The Secretary of State described the Treasury as "a bourne from which no traveller returns," or from which no traveller returns with any money in his pocket. He is to be congratulated on being the first Secretary of State to return from that bourne with some money in his pocket, even if he has not succeeded yet in taking the shirt off the Chancellor of the Exchequer's back. I think the House listened to him to-day with particular pleasure, because he is a traveller returned from the Colonial Empire. He darts about the Empire like some tropical humming bird, sucking the honey-dew from one scented flower after another, before returning to this House, and making another dart out to the Colonial Empire.
He referred to the fact that at the beginning of the war he had tried, in the Army, to return again to the arts of prompt obedience and proper humility. 2124 I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, who is at the moment representing him here, will consider the suggestions put before him during this Debate with that spirit of prompt obedience and proper humility. In particular, I would like to draw his attention to a subject which was ventilated for the first time recently in a letter to "The Times" by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald), who happens to be in Paris at the moment, and so cannot take part in this Debate. My hon. and gallant Friend drew attention to the fact that if we were to secure the most intelligent use of these moneys which are now to be granted under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, some reorganisation of the administration of government in the Colonies themselves will be needed, to bring them up to date so that they can handle these sums intelligently and expeditiously. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) praised the work of Sir Frank Stockdale in the West Indies, and hoped that his example would be followed in other areas of the Colonial Empire. The appointment of Sir Frank Stockdale did, in fact, indicate that there was something in the nature of a deficiency in the Colonial Governments of the area to which he was sent.
I think the difficulty lies in the fact that the machinery of government in the Colonies was designed for a much simpler age than the present. All matters requiring decision have to go before the single individual called in the Colonies the Colonial Secretary. He is the adviser to the Governor, who is the sole channel of communication with the Secretary of State in this country. The result has been that the Colonial Secretary has become a bottleneck. All these matters requiring consideration, and the problems that will arise, requiring the expenditure of vast sums, under the present administration, have to go for decision to a single individual, the Colonial Secretary in the Colony. The result is that Colonial Secretaries all over the Empire are complaining that they are overworked, that they have no time to think; they are frequently working 16 hours a day, and are still unable to get through the immense number of problems that are laid before them for decision.
2125 Some years ago these Colonial Secretaries were relieved of the responsibility for advising the Governors on financial matters. Previously, there had been the office of Colonial Treasurer. The Colonial Treasurer was not necessarily an expert on financial affairs; so that up to then the situation with regard to financial administration had been rather a case of the blind leading the blind, as neither the Colonial Secretary nor the Governor had any particular experience of financial matters. Therefore, some responsibility was delegated to financial advisers, who had the right of bypassing the Colonial Secretary in advising the Governor on the preparation of budgets and other financial matters.
I think it is along those lines of delegating responsibility to new officials, who do not, at present, exist, that we can secure the prompt and efficient planning which is required. At the moment the various departments of Colonial administration in the Colonies, such as the Veterinary Department, the Department of Forestry, the Departments of Agriculture, Roads, Rail, Telegraphs, and all such matters, are dealt with in the main by technical heads of departments, who have not the training or the minds for taking broad decisions and giving leadership. Consequently, they come before the Colonial Secretary with their problems, and clutter up his plate with an impossible burden, which he cannot digest. The suggestion which has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight was that the Government should set up in the Colonies something analogous to Cabinet Ministers in this country: officials who would come between the technical heads of departments and the Colonial Secretaries, who would be able to take broad administrative decisions, comparable to Cabinet Ministers in this country, who are frequently laymen, and thus avoid this tremendous congestion of responsibility on the shoulders of the Colonial Secretaries. It would be advantageous if kindred subjects were grouped together. For instance, one man could be responsible for all communications, roads, telegraphs, river transport, air transport, rail transport, and so on. You would have another group of subjects under the heading of welfare: education, health, and so on. Then you would have probably a third group, covering the general sub- 2126 ject of the land, such as forestry, veterinary, land, mines, and so on.
The Colonial Service at the moment is short of the type of individual who could take on those broad responsibilities. The Secretary of State himself referred in his speech to the shortage of personnel at present. We all realise his difficulty, but this Bill looks towards a 10-year period, and it may be that the larger sums will be spent during the latter part of that period. We must look to the future recruitment of the Colonial Service. My right hon. and gallant Friend referred to the fact that there would be a continuous demand in this country for able people to undertake the job of reconstruction, but most brilliant young men coming from the universities look to other Services for spectacular advancement. They go to the Foreign Service in particular, because there they see down a vista of glittering advancement the capitals of Europe: Paris, Rome, and so on; and it may be asked, how are Sierra Leone and Kingston in Jamaica to compete with these glittering capitals? If it can be established that there is a field for young men in quite advanced administrative posts in the Empire—
§ Mr. De Chair
I agree that it is our aim to bring in young men in the Colonies into the administration of the Colonies. The change that I am suggesting would facilitate the appointment of such young men, when the time comes for the Colonies themselves to take control; but, in the meantime, there should be a field, which does not exist now, for young men who enter the Colonial Service. If they could get responsible positions, in what I describe as these grouped posts, at an early age, those stifled ambitions in this country—where, as we know, to be young is a crime which only time can expiate—would find an outlet in the Colonial Empire. However, we realise that that will have to await post-war conditions. I hope that as soon as possible the Colonial Secretary will introduce the system of individual reports from the Colonies. Those who have studied the affairs of the mandated territories, where the administration, although under the control of the Colonial Office, was subject to scrutiny by the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, will realise that an enormous 2127 stimulus was given by the fact that an annual report had to be prepared. If a railways administrator in a Colony has to review the progress of the Colony in the last 12 months, and he has to put down, "Miles of track laid, nil; number of locomotives replaced, nil; number of goods wagons added, two; number of passenger coaches added, one"; he begins to see the effect that that will have on the House of Commons when the report is laid in the Library. I hope that, as soon as possible, we shall get a system of individual reports from these Colonies, and I believe that that will create a speed-up, and give a new incentive to them in the application of this Bill.
The Secretary of State referred to the opportunities which would open up in the Colonial Empire after this war for the development of British capital, and the field which would be provided for commercial enterprise. He hoped that capitalists would not expect in future to get very large profits from speculative enterprise, but would be satisfied with smaller profits and more stable returns. I do not know if he was thinking of the old insignia of the Roman Empire, "S.P.Q.R.," which one schoolboy described as meaning "Small profits, quick returns." But it is desirable that investment in the Colonies after the war should take the place of that investment which at one time people expected from other parts of the world. My right hon. and gallant Friend did not give any indication of whether his office is providing anything like a commercial intelligence service. If exporters in this country are to get their goods to those parts of the Empire where there is a demand for them, they must have quick and sound information available as to where the potential demand is. My right hon. and gallant Friend revealed that before the war only 24 per cent. of the imports into the Empire came from this country. I believe that the inhabitants of the Colonies always prefer to have British exports, if the facilities are available, but it is the article on the spot at the moment which gets the purchaser. The Japanese were quicker than ourselves to realise the potentialities of our Colonial Empire. For instance, the Japanese flooded large parts of our Colonial Empire with cheap and shoddy bicycles. These bicycles looked very 2128 attractive, but the people saw through it in time. The people of Kano, in Nigeria, for instance, are accustomed to treat a bicycle as we in this country treat an omnibus. They loaded a large family on to a bicycle with a large black mother on the handle-bars and her family on different parts of the vehicle, and the bicycle quickly crumpled up; whereas the Raleigh bicycle, made in this country, stood up to this sort of thing, carrying into darkest Africa a name associated in this country with Elizabethan adventure in the jungles of the Orinoco.
I hope that after the war we shall have an Empire Exhibition here in London. Hyde Park would be the right place, while it is still torn up; here in what the Prime Minister has described as "the heart of mighty London," while the scars which London has suffered during the war are still visible, and while visitors are coming from all over the world to see the part that London has played. The Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade, in one of his rare public utterances, said that we would have an International Fair. We do not want an International Fair; we want an Empire Exhibition, so that the world may see what the Empire has to offer, and so that the members of the Empire may gather together, to exchange ideas, to sift those ideas and the information which has become available as a result of the great strides in invention during the war, and to apply those inventions to peaceful trade after the war.
The Secretary of State said that the money we are spending under this Bill, although it brings no obvious monetary gain to this country, will certainly not be wasted money. He has succeeded in convincing the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we have a Colonial Empire, and that it requires money. He has yet to convince the public that this island, the United Kingdom, by itself is nothing. This island is but the head which supports the Crown; the hands and feet are far away. We have left the land-locked harbours of a "Little Englandism" fifty years behind us. We are out in the blast and foam of the storm. We have to navigate through the wake of a typhoon and steer clear of a waterspout on our left, which threatens to deluge a Continent. This is no weather to be out in a fleet of fishing smacks; these are elements which require a battleship or a 2129 liner. At the beginning of this century Joseph Chamberlain urged this country to "think Imperially," but we have passed the power of platitudes to protect us. If we are to survive, we have got to act Imperially.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
I think the very enlightened speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken, coming from the political source from which it did come, was a delight to a hard and crusted democrat, especially after the disappointing and unenlightened speeches we heard before. I was very disappointed in the speech of the Secretary of State. I know that all hon. Members have been flinging him bouquets. I have been watching the Minister since he first took office. I thought at one time that he was going to make one of the finest Colonial Secretaries this country has seen. I have been studying him now for four years in this House at close quarters, in conversation and in Debate, and I have made up my mind that he is going to make one of the most disappointing Colonial Secretaries this country has ever had. I think he is going to fail in this post, as he failed in his previous offices. And why? Because, I think, he is not tending to get down to a grasp of the problem, and is much too keen on preventing Members of Parliament from getting accurate information about the work which he and his Department are doing.
The hon. Member who has just spoken referred to the want of information about Colonial affairs. What my hon. Friend said was, word for word, what a business man has been saying in "The Crown Colonist"—that the business man who wants to get information simply cannot get it, because there is no standard report, and no reason is given why there should not be. As an example, take this query:Why should Jamaica have a population of 296 to the square mile, while British Guiana has only four to the square mile?Why is not British Guiana developed? What is the reason? Why should not the business man know? There may be an adequate reason. The Colonial Secretary throws bouquets out to some of his officers. It is quite right to praise officers, but Sir Frank Stockdale has been thrown so many bouquets that I think he must be smothered by them. The whole of this trouble about welfare, development and 2130 finance comes about because of the hash we have made of our Colonial Empire in the past. Not only are some of these Colonies neglected and distressed areas, but they are starved areas, not only literally, but financially, culturally, educationally and in every possible way. I happen to know some of these Colonies. I spent my life in one of them, and was born and bred there. I know the Colonies to which I am referring—the West Indies. They afford a microcosm of the conditions which exist in our Colonies. Why will you not give the West Indies federation? Each island must have a system of its own, its own shipping and its own airships and so on, instead of all being federated, as they have been asking for years. Each island cannot afford to pay on its own for radio, education, finance, taxation and agriculture, services, etc.
Have not all these Colonies men well-trained, doomed to disappointment? When the Colonial Office appoint officers under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, whom do they appoint? Do they appoint anybody in the West Indies who could fill the appointment? No. Sir Frank Stockdale was appointed by the Colonial Office; now they have appointed a successor to him. What is the reason why West Indians do not receive these appointments? Are there no West Indians capable of doing these jobs? What about Mr. Norman Manley, a brilliant lawyer in Jamaica—a fine man and a Rhodes scholar, a man of sterling value and integrity, with a great knowledge of political and economic affairs and public experience, and pro-British? [Interruption.] Oh, yes, I want to scotch that suggestion if it comes out to-day. The question was raised here by a private Member, who suggested that Mr. Manley was not pro-British. He is pro-British, but he is also pro-Jamaica, as he has a right to be. I am pro-British, and I do not think my loyalty is in doubt, but I am also pro-Granada and pro-West Indies. There are plenty of good men in the West Indies, and doctors with the best degrees in our universities, men of all colours from white to the very darkest negro, men with fine brains who have won scholarships and prizes in our universities, but who, when they go back, have to accept a lower post than the European who is less qualified and less able to do the medical officer's job. It is time that we developed an educational system 2131 which will give opportunities to the local indigenous product who shows by what he has done already that he is fit to hold these appointments. Why should we not appoint medical men from the West Indies with experience of local conditions and tropical diseases, as well as West Indian psychology, which is very important? Why should they not be appointed as medical officers to the Comptroller's staff under the West Indian development scheme? Why should a retired Colonial, a European professor, pensioned from Ceylon, be appointed? Why should a retired officer on pension be given this appointment? There is a reason for all this. At the back of it is the fact that the Colonial Secretary is afraid to trust Members of Parliament with knowledge or democratic local men with positions. We cannot get even ordinary information about conditions in the Colonies in compact form.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner (Basingstoke)
May I remind my hon. Friend that there is a department in the Colonial Office set up specially for the purpose of enabling any hon. Member of this House to get any information he desires, and that if an hon. Member wants information he has only to go across the road?
§ Dr. Morgan
It is extremely kind of the hon. and gallant Member. He should teach his grandmother to suck eggs. [Interruption.] I am using a very common expression.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
My hon. and gallant Friend has pointed out to the hon. Member where he can get the information. That is a cutting remark.
§ Dr. Morgan
I am not going to give way to rude remarks. Hon. Members are getting angry just because they do not like what I am saying. The information is available if you take the trouble to dig it out. I have spent a lot of time in the Library, but there is absolutely no place where the business man can go and get this information. Why should it take a week, a fortnight or a month to get it? I did not mean that the information was not 2132 available. Of course, it is available, if you like to go to Nigeria, or to Basutoland to get it, or to the Royal Empire Society in Northumberland Avenue. Of course, the knowledge is there; I am not pretending that there is none available, but the facts have not been given to the general public, and to hon. Members, in such a way as would make them generally available.
The Colonial Secretary has an advisory committee dealing with social welfare questions, and there is a sub-committee dealing with prisons. None of the reports are readily available to hon. Members. Why have they not been incorporated in a comprehensive report? I want to go back to the question of appointments. This money is being spent on a very good purpose, and I am not against it, but I am against the machinery by which it is being made available. No opportunity is being given to the West Indies to federate among themselves, in a way in which if in doubt we can attach any reservations we like.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
The hon. Member cannot tell the House that all the West Indian islands are asking for federation. That is not true, as the hon. Member must know. There is great dispute about it.
§ Dr. Morgan
The hon. Member passed through like a bird of passage. He stayed there three days. I was there 16 years, and I have been back since. My hon. Friend having been there for three days pretends to know all about it. The thing is impossible; you cannot do it. If the Colonial Secretary will do what I wanted him to do at a meeting of the Empire Parliamentary delegation upstairs, at which you were present—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
Perhaps the hon. Member would not mind addressing the Chair. I was not present there.
§ Dr. Morgan
I only wish you had been, Sir, because you would have seen the improbability of some of the information given to the House to-day. I asked the Colonial Secretary to try a plebiscite to see if the common people wanted federation. I want to give an instance of an 2133 appointment being made by the Colonial Office recently, and I do so on behalf of my trade union secretary who sent me a letter. Let me read part of the letter:The post was offered as a joint appointment of superintendent and matron at a hospital in Tanganyika. The post was obtained through the Crown Agents for the Colonies who had interviewed them and informed them that they would be engaged in a new mental hospital as pioneers in extremely important work. On reaching the new hospital, they found to their amazement that the place had been in existence, as such, for more than 10 years and that no vacancy existed for the appointment of superintendent and matron, and that these posts were already filled. Naturally, they refused to commence duty on the grounds of breach of contract and were, subsequently, on several occasions, offered inferior posts, which they rightly turned down.This is a case of Europeans being appointed here by the Crown Agents for the Colonies to a post which did not exist.They eventually returned to Dar-es-Salaam where they are even now almost destitute. They are constantly told, when making repeated applications for repatriation, that there are no vacancies available, in spite of the fact that a liner left Mombasa for this country with over 100 empty berths.I am not blaming the Colonial Secretary for this. This is something which the Colonial Government asked the Colonial Office to do and the Colonial Office, following the usual procedure, referred the matter to the Crown Agents and this is the result. The Colonial Secretary in a letter to me said that the contracts were not properly "vetted." This money is not being used to give local people the chance of getting the right jobs and fitting themselves by training, but Europeans are being appointed. And when Europeans are appointed they are treated sometimes in this way. The hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) took me to task by pretending that information was available, and saying that it could be obtained by any Member of the House.
§ Dr. Morgan
I want it to be made available to the public. Let me quote from "The West India Committee Circular"—which is not a democratic paper but represents the view of the landowners and planters—on the housing conditions in St. Vincent. It says:The housing survey, more or less confined to working class dwellings in Kingstown, was completed during the year"—2134 That is, in 1941—The survey disclosed that the great majority of working-class people live in rooms in tenement houses. These are mostly two-storied buildings made of wood and stone, and divided up into about eight to 23 rooms. Despite the very poor accommodation provided, the rooms are in great demand, and fetch between 2s. 6d. and 10s. a month, with 6s. as the average rental. Amongst outstanding defects reported are absence of water supply on 70 per cent. of the premises inspected; no bath or washstand on 81 per cent. and no kitchen accommodation on 35 per cent. Want of sufficient openings for ventilation. A relatively large number of the houses were either unfit for human habitation or 'worn out'.This was an official report by the Senior Medical Officer of the Island of St. Vincent. These are the conditions about which the hon. and gallant Member tells me that I can go to the Colonial Office, or the Library, and get the information. Why should hon. Members, busy as they are with various things, have to go to these places for information? The information should be ready and available in appropriate documents.
Let me come back to the machinery by which this thing is being done, not only with regard to the appointments but with regard to the way the grant is being made. The Secretary of State for the Colonies appoints certain men as advisers to the West Indian Colonial Development Fund. He appoints an agriculture adviser to the Comptroller, who is also an Inspector-General of Agriculture for the West Indies—and the adviser is in an anomalous position. He is like Mahomet's coffin—suspended between heaven and earth. No one knows to whom he is responsible but presumably he is responsible finally to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He is only attached to the office of the Department not as an officer to the Comptroller, but only as adviser, an extraordinary position. For example, the education officer goes out to a mixed population and to different islands, some of which have a preponderating majority of Catholics, and others a preponderance of Protestants. In St. Lucia, where 82 per cent. of the population are Catholics, he is going to impose State schools and the Catholics there, as would the Welsh local educationalists in regard to the establishment of single-area schools in Wales, kick up a row. The State schools there are no great success. Every denomination — Protestants, Catholics, all of them—accepts 2135 State grants. There is no cry of "Rome on the rates." Things have been working nicely so far except that in these poor Colonies the schools are very bad and have no playgrounds.
I submit that I am in Order in referring to this because money for these schools is coming out of this Fund. It is British taxpayers' money which is being spent, and rightly. Some of these schools have no sanitation at all—one lavatory for three or four hundred pupils—and there are seldom playing fields. I know that we have the same sort of conditions here, but our people have the vote and some have homes which are decent; there it is poverty and degradation at the lowest. We want to raise these people. Men who are lucky and financially able go to the universities and get the highest degrees in Britain but they are not appointed to positions, and the lowest among the people have not the facilities to enable them to rise. Are we giving them a real chance to do something? I am not blaming this House or the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, but the continuance of degrading Crown Colony government, which we have had in the past, in not allowing the local people to have a proper say in their own government. It is not that the local people have not been asking for it.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
I thought the hon. Member said that there were not any, and that he was complaining to the House how bad it was that the local people could not take part in local administration.
§ Dr. Morgan
I am sorry that my lack of lucidity prevented my remarks from penetrating the brain of the hon. and gallant Member. Let me put it this way. In many cases the legislative councils consist of some elected members, but the bulk of the people have not the vote; they are practically voteless. [Interruption.] The Under-Secretary of State for the Dominions is so alive, spiritually and mentally, that he—the model of lucidity—never digresses at all. He must be a very perfect example of our coming statesmen.
§ Dr. Morgan
I was tempted by an aside of the Under-Secretary and his laughter. I prefer to be human; I do not pretend to be a snob, and I am not a snob.
It is not only with regard to the West Indies, but with regard to mineral resources and land development in Africa that I want information. What has been done with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Land Development in the West Indies? What has been done with regard to the training scheme? That is a point to which the Minister has not given an answer yet after having kept the document in his Department for two years. Then, I would ask a question with regard to the exploitation of St. Kitts. The Secretary of State says that he cannot stop the exploitation of St. Kitts. There are sharks in the City who can make a shilling share apparently worth 40s., with a market price of 51s. They own the factory and a railway round the island, and the workers cannot get a rise in the wages of 1s. a day. The Colonial Secretary has written to tell me that he is trying to devise machinery by which they can get a rise in wages. There is also the question of the unification of the Medical Service and the Civil Service in the West Indies. What has been done with regard to the Whitley Councils so that there can be negotiations and arbitration? So far, though recommended by the Commission, nothing has been done apparently. Labour advisers were appointed but it is nearly five years since the Commission reported and so far we have not had any information from the Colonial Office.
I hope that the Colonial Secretary, who is as sensitive as I am sometimes, will not feel that I am criticising him too much. I know that other Members will disagree with me, but he is not going the right way about it. In regard to the general welfare scheme particularly in the West Indies, he has appointed a Federal Welfare body advising and grant granting over insular Governments not elected on universal sufferage. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that local people should have local control. He made a speech in November last in which he referred to officers—with young active brains—who were to be appointed. He did not propose to appoint any people at the end of a career. He was obviously referring to someone. I would remind him that some "old" men 2137 are young and some men at 22 are quite senile. It is not necessarily a matter of age but a matter of outlook, judgment and knowledge. We are asking for information and that the local people in the Colonies who have the right mentality, knowledge and cerebral capacity should do the work. We ask the Colonial Secretary to give them the opportunity of developing the scheme themselves.
What has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman done with regard to the question of co-operative societies? How can he give full play to private enterprise and its development without its counterpart? There are opportunities in the Colonies for the co-operative movement both on the consumer side and the production side. What has been done? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will have formed this development company that is to finance the mineral resources and the products of the Colonies. What has he done towards consulting the co-operative movement in Great Britain, both on the production and consumer sides? Why has he not asked them to come in, and form a special co-operative committee in order to advise on schemes of co-operation in the West Indies? Has any public relations officer been appointed in any of the Colonies? These people do not want to be exploited. All they want is to have their standard of living raised to a point which will give them some comfort and to know that the mental and cultural opportunities for which they have been asking for over a century, if not more, are to be given to them.
§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Colonel Sandeman Allen (Birkenhead, West)
I venture to address the House this afternoon because I happen to have had the good fortune to see quite recently some of the schemes which have been outlined. The point I wish to stress most firmly is the necessity for a great improvement in health. That, of course, ties up with education. I have been in East Africa and in West Africa, and one of the saddest things there is the very high proportion of venereal disease. That calls, first, for education and, secondly, for a great extension of the health services. I trust that both these will be given. I say education because, until the mental outlook is altered, the medical outlook will not be able to make those strides which it should make. I could 2138 quote some very sad cases, but I do not propose to do so; I do not think it is necessary.
I was most interested in the proposals outlined for East Africa. The main thing that struck me was that they were rather inclined to be for Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda as separate entities and not for East Africa as a whole. I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend will make it clear that these have to be co-ordinated for the whole of East Africa. The people of Tanganyika and Uganda are very much afraid that they may be overridden by Kenya, and they do not want to be under Kenya in any way—they want to be co-partners. While that fear will be difficult to eradicate, it is one of the most important things to be tackled in any future programme for East Africa. Another fear is that the roads were being made subject to the needs of the railways, and that the expansion of the roads which, I presume, comes under this Colonial Development Fund, will be greatly retarded by the influence of the railways, which do not want the roads in any sort of competition. The East Africa Chamber of Commerce, and others, all stressed very strongly the need for better roads throughout the whole of the Colonies.
I was very pleased to hear the Minister say that there were offers of British capital, though to a limited extent. However I consider that too much is taken out of Africa. I speak especially about Africa because, on that, I can stand a certain amount of cross-examination. Too much is being taken out of Africa and not enough left to help the nation. A lot of the return on the minerals taken out of mother earth in Africa, should go back in the form of improvement of the lives of the natives. I think that is most important, and one of the underlying principles on which we should work in the future.
I was most interested to see the rehabilitation centre at Nairobi, and more than interested to find that West Africa had sent people across to learn all they could. Hon. Members would be extremely interested to see the valuable work going on in this centre, which I visited. There I saw the rehabilitation of men who had been wrecked on the roads and who had met with accidents in one way or another. It was not just soldiers who were having this treatment. I saw old men and women, young men 2139 and youths having this scientific method of rehabilitation, getting back the use of limbs which had been damaged by some accident, either at work or in the jungle. It is an amazingly good show, and I think the Government there deserve the congratulations of this House.
The Colonial Secretary also mentioned the shortage of technical, staff in the Colonial Service overseas. I would like to point out that the shortage of technical staff is not confined to officials, it is also very strong in industry. The industry and trade of our Colonies are suffering very severely now owing to the war. Young men brought out there have gone into the Services, and the older men are carrying on as best they can. However there are limits to the time that any man can carry on in a tropical climate short of leave. Many men I know have had to take their leave in South Africa, and have not been home to see their relatives since the beginning of the war. The strain is becoming very heavy on them and there are no young men at present in the offices of those companies, which are a link between this country and the Colonies, to carry on. Something has to be done to release a future recruitment for these offices in the very near future. I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend realises that we cannot go on in the tropics for ever on the present lines.
The housing programme is being tackled in East Africa and in other places. It was extremely interesting to see the new houses that are being built in East Africa. Although I was in Lagos and on the Gold Coast and in Freetown less than a month ago, I have not seen all the schemes that are in process there, but I have talked to those who proposed these schemes and have seen some of the plans. They seem to me to be extremely satisfactory. I will tell the House what I saw and what I hope this fund will assist in developing in the future—the housing scheme outside Nairobi. I expect my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Sir W. Wakefield) saw this scheme, and I hope he agrees with me that the improvement in the lay-out and lines of those buildings is enormous. They seem to have evolved a very satisfactory type of house for the native and one with which he seems to be satisfied, and which I thought was most practical for the purpose. It is all very well to say that anything will do— 2140 a palm leaf or a banana leaf—in the tropics, but there is an enormous rainfall at certain times in the year, from which people have to be protected.
The main things on which I want to see this money spent to start with are health and education. Until we have a healthy population, until the figures for venereal disease, which are appalling, are considerably lower than they are at the present moment, we shall never get a population which is really able—it is not a question of being willing—to carry on. We can only get a virile and healthy population with education and improved medical services. As far as malaria is concerned, enormous strides have been made since the war broke out. The anti-malarial precautions taught to the natives in the Army have had a good effect. I have had the honour of commanding nearly 12,000 Africans at various times during this war. I am extremely fond of the African native, and can say what a fine fellow he is. The drainage schemes and anti-malarial precautions which are dinned into him, may have some effect in the future. In any case malaria is not as serious for the native as it is for the European, but it causes debility and tiredness and has a tremendous effect upon him. All these things combined have the effect of a physically lethargic population, and that means mental lethargy as well. We shall never get real progress until the health standard is good, and therefore I ask my right hon. and gallant Friend to put health and education at the very top of the programme and see that we concentrate mainly upon these two things.
§ 2.56 p.m.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor (Paddington, South)
I would like to congratulate my right hon. and gallant Friend on this Bill. He has pointed out the enormous advance which this Bill contains over any other proposals ever brought before this House. The Act of 1940 was a start, but I think this Bill will lay a very sure foundation on which the future development and prosperity of the peoples of the Colonial Empire may well be built. One of its great advantages is that no longer will any unspent balance of the allocated money for a given year be returned to the bottomless pit of the Treasury. It must be remembered, however, as was pointed out by my right hon. and gallant Friend, that the sum of money which it 2141 is proposed to utilise in this Bill is really a supplementary sum to enable the Colonies which are not able to afford it out of their own resources, to develop and increase their education, welfare, health and other services. It is a Bill to enable the Colonies to develop their own resources themselves. At the same time there are Colonies which have for some time spent large sums of money out of their own resources for this particular work. This sum in the Bill is not one which has to be spent continuously, so that this country would always be responsible for the development of social conditions, and so on, of the inhabitants of the Colonial Empire, but is a means of educating them, to enable the resources of any particular Colony to be gone into by experts to determine what the soil is capable of producing, what mineral wealth they may have, and teaching the people of the Colony itself how to utilise that knowledge. Education is the foundation of the successful development of the Colonial Empire.
Of course it will be necessary to have a very long-term policy. Post-war planning committees are being set up in every Colony to deal with health and other social services, but they are all based on a very broad expansion of education. That is essential, for there is an immense amount of illiteracy and lack of knowledge generally, and unless we can educate the people to the point where they can make full use of what we are doing for them, we are merely wasting our time. The appointment of educational personnel, social and welfare organisers, and the building of a large number of schools is essential for this work. My right hon. and gallant Friend has drawn attention to the difficulty of getting the proper teachers. No doubt that is perfectly true, and I hope that on that account he will not be satisfied with a lower standard than the one which it is necessary to have; we must have the very best we can get in order to get the best results. My right hon. and gallant Friend said, "Why spend so much of the taxpayers' money in developing the Colonies?" There are no more loyal and devoted subjects of this country than the people in our Colonial Empire. In good times and bad they have never varied; they have always played up to the Mother Country. They did so in the last war, and have done so more than ever in this war, and if for no 2142 other reason than that, we should do everything possible for the improvement of their welfare and their development.
But, quite apart from that, as the Minister pointed out, the Colonies are the greatest possible asset to this country from the point of view of defence. The Colonial Empire is the greatest factor for security that we have, and I hope that we shall take full advantage of that position. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, when he raised the status of the Colonial Office from a very low position to a position of the very highest importance, by asking that he might be appointed as Colonial Secretary, demanded communications—roads, railways, harbours, cables. Communications are absolutely essential if we are to bring about the real development of the Colonial Empire. Much has been done in the last 40 years in that direction, but much still remains to be done. At the present time the eyes of the world are not on sea and land communications, so much as on air communications. We have, in the Colonial Empire, immense possibilities for the development of aerial communications and aerial ports—seaborne and land machines. Aircraft must be used not only for communication purposes, but also to carry trade from this country to the Colonies and from them to all parts of the world. I hope the Colonial Secretary will, therefore, see that large sums of money are spent on the development of airports and air communications in the Colonial Empire.
There is no doubt that in the past the Empire has been very much neglected. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan), who said he had spent 17 years in the West Indies, painted a very gloomy picture of the conditions which he said he knew quite well. One may excuse him for his earnestness in pleading his cause, and putting before the Minister all the various things which he thought were wrong in the West Indies. I would remind him that this Bill has been brought in for the purpose of doing away with those conditions, and improving the welfare of the inhabitants of the West Indies in addition to those in the remainder of the Empire. I hope this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will be put into operation with the greatest possible speed because the welfare of our Colonial Empire is of immense importance. I hope that imports and exports between this country and the Colonial Empire will in 2143 future be considerably increased over the figures given by the Colonial Secretary because such an increase would be a tremendous advantage not only to the Empire but to this country as well.
§ 3.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
Like other Members who have spoken to-day, I welcome this Measure. I am one of those—there may be others in the House—who can remember the first Measure of this kind, which was introduced as far back as 1929. Within a few weeks of the Election held in that year the then Lord Privy Seal, not in order to help the Colonies, but in order to try and find a solution of the unemployment problem in this country, introduced the first Colonial Development Bill, in the late spring of 1929. Compared with this Bill that was a very modest Measure. Very little, in fact, came of it. But I think we can look back and say that, modest though it was, it did make a beginning with a series of Measures passed by this House which have had or will have a great effect in various Colonial territories.
I am not quite clear from the wording of the Bill whether the £120,000,000 asked for is an inclusive sum or whether it is exclusive of the £1,000,000 per year which is provided for research and inquiry. I am rather inclined to think that although in the 1940 Bill the £500,000 and the £5,000,000—making a total of £5,500,000—were separate, the £120,000,000 named in this Bill is an inclusive amount. The Minister was good enough to indicate in his speech why the Amendment set forth in Clause 2, which deals with the Aden Protectorate, was necessary. I think I should be in Order if I made one of two inquiries with reference to the Section in the 1940 Act to which this Amendment refers and which deals with the wages paid to those employed on schemes, and whichmust be such as are recognised by employers and trade unions in the areas where the works are to be executed.It is not clear to me what is meant in that Act by "trade unions." Does it mean that they are actually European trade unions, or trade unions which may, and perhaps do, take in natives, in, for example, African territories? As my right hon. and gallant Friend knows very well, some difficulties have arisen in certain 2144 African territories. I speak of them because I happen to know a little of what has gone on there. Although the trade unions are led, in the main, by public-spirited and extremely able men, the rank and file are not as enlightened as many of us in this House would like them to be, and it has happened that instead of natives being helped by the existence of the trade union they have found them a bar to their advancement.
I would, therefore, like an assurance from the Minister that the Governor of the Colony concerned will, if necessary, be able to go over the head of any trade union which prevents the employment or advancement of natives who could usefully be employed in works for which money under this Bill is provided. I and other hon. Members have recently been in East Africa. There we met people who told us that it was difficult to erect houses for natives, because the white trade unions, very naturally desiring to protect their own standards and craft, refused to allow natives to work on houses, even for themselves. In one locality we found that a trade union had been more public-spirited and more forward looking. There houses had been built by natives, under European supervision, at from £50 to £65 per pair, which could be let at a modest rental well within the means of the natives to pay. At least one fine housing estate has been erected, and I would like to feel that the Government here, with the help of those in territories concerned, will see that the welfare of the natives who are at present outside the trade unions will be protected as far as possible.
The Minister has said—and I think very properly—that this country could not go on for ever finding money to assist the Colonies. That is quite true. The taxpayers of this country welcome this Bill; they are, I think, very anxious to assist the Colonies to get on to their feet. They realise that these territories, covering 3,000,000 square miles and involving a population of 60,000,000, are of great importance. You get, in nearly all of them, a very small white and a very large black population. It is obvious that the white settlers cannot find all the money which is essential to develop their areas, and that the black population, though numerous, is much too poor to make up the difference which is necessary.
2145 Therefore, it is essential that this House should come to the assistance of the Colonies concerned and help them. But that cannot go on for ever. This money when spent, therefore, must be spent in a proper and wise way and put to the best possible use. It means, it seems to me—this is implicit in all that has been said to-day; it clearly underlay almost everything that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said—that this money, when spent, must be spent on things which offer a good and proper return—I do not mean a return in the sense of a commercial profit to individuals or groups of individuals but a return in the building up of the Colony or territories concerned. We must assist them to get on to their feet and help them to establish themselves in a proper fashion.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who preceded me spoke of the housing and welfare schemes that he has seen at Nairobi. We also saw them and were very much impressed by what we saw. A great deal of good is being done already throughout Africa, certainly in the territories we visited, which interested us extremely. These and other schemes should be given increased help.
There are, it seems to me, three main lines of advance. The first is that, if these territories are to be set on their feet, much more attention must be paid to making the native first of all a healthy animal, secondly, to raise his economic status and to give him more purchasing power than he has had in the past, and thirdly, he must be educated in order that he may realise just what his place should be in a modern civilised society. I should like to say how much I share the views expressed by the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair). We met a fairly large number of administrative officers in the areas that we visited and we were impressed by their sense of public duty and their attachment to anything that increased the welfare of the native population. They work hard to try to educate the natives, on dietetics, the folly of cutting down their trees, kraal-hygiene and many other things. Yet very few, if any, of them have any power to enforce the teaching that they are trying to inculcate and it seemed almost as if they were wasting their lives trying to do these things.
It occurred to us that more should be done from Whitehall to strengthen the 2146 hands of the administrative officials, from the Governor downwards, by the imposition of some sort of sanction, if necessary. Looking back over the Measures which have preceded this—that of 1940 was the major one—one is struck by the fact that full advantage has not been taken in the past of the facilities provided. I know that from 1929 onwards we lived through fairly restricted times financially and that since 1940 we have been engaged in the greatest war the world has seen. It is likely that in the years during which this new Act will function the world will again be passing through a very restricted financial period but I hope, in spite of that, that the Bill will be used to the full, that the territories covered by it will be urged to use the facilities that it offers.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Blackburn)
This is such a large subject that I must be content to speak about only a very small portion of the territory involved. I want to concentrate entirely upon Africa, and I should like to narrow it down still further. The Secretary of State has spoken of the encouragement of private enterprise. So long as Tanganyika is a mandated territory the people there who have money to invest, and those here who would like to develop the territory, are reluctant to invest their money, and I hope it will very soon become a British Colony. Another subject that I should like to mention is the Congo Basin Treaty. Again and again, I have heard complaints from Lancashire textile manufacturers. I had always thought that, although it did not do them any good, at any rate the inhabitants of these territories were very grateful for it but, to my surprise, when I stayed in the house of the mayor of Angola, the first topic that he raised with me was the evils of the Congo Basin Treaty. I never met a resident in all the places I visited who was in favour of it. I was told that the only countries to which it did any good were Germany and Japan. I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will not be so solicitous of their trade in the future.
I was particularly asked to bring to the notice of the Secretary of State a case of sweated European labour. I refer to the junior officers of the Northern Rhodesia Police. I hope, when he is looking around his files, that he will see what pay they get and also what sort of 2147 houses they live in. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman also spoke of exports. The South African papers this week reported a speech in which I said that Africa was gasping for British goods. A man I do not know wrote to me from Northern Rhodesia, "The finest exports you could send to us are educated English women. They are the people we want to bring up loyal sons and daughters to help this country." He also told me that the average time a lady who came out as a nursing sister remained unmarried was less than 12 months.
I want to concentrate entirely on the health of the East African Empire. I travelled home in the same cabin with the hon. Baronet the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare) and I could never get to sleep at night without thinking of the horrible things he told me of the evils of malaria, dysentery, blackwater fever, etc. It may not be possible to have a pan-Africa at present, but there are some ways in which we might go ahead, and bring these countries together. One is medical research. Dr. Bilharz, of Cairo, discovered the dreadful disease bilharzia. It is found on the banks of the Nile and right down into Southern Rhodesia. I was told that European children, even near Salisbury, are infected with this disease, which debilitates the patients, makes them unfit for work and eventually probably kills them off. I do not think there is a single record in the whole of Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland of the number of people who suffer from it or the incidence of this disease. One doctor told me it was 80 per cent. of the people. The only way he discovered them was when anyone went into hospital with a broken arm or leg, and 99 times out of 100 they suffered from bilharzia. They know the cure for it: as to prevention, the larvae only live for 24 hours in water. If we could stop the human pollution of all the rivers, lakes and ponds for 24 hours the disease would be stamped out, but, no matter how energetic the Secretary of State is, he could hardly stop that pollution for 24 hours. I could not help comparing the regulations and the laws in Africa with those of India, where I resided for some 25 years. I have been an assistant in a tea garden which was on the black list, that is, too many of the inhabitants of the estate died, and one had to report every month how many 2148 births and deaths there were. There was inspection by the police officer and by the Civil Service, and they insisted upon disease being stamped out. As a result of the measures that were taken the numbers of births were four or five times the deaths. That was all due to the laws being ruthlessly enforced.
In Africa few orders are made and there seems no power to enforce medical regulations that may be for the good of the people. Look at the outcry there was in this House when 300,000 people died in Bengal, where they have self-government now. It is, of course, a new idea that self-government is better than good government. Far more than 300,000 people die in Africa every year from preventable disease, and I suggest that one of the first things upon which money should be spent is research. It need not be borne only by the British Colonies, but should extend from Egypt right into South Africa. There seems no power of compulsion in force now in East Africa. The agricultural officers have been lecturing until the cows come home about soil erosion and what has been actually done? Nothing at all. When we went down to the valley in Nyasaland and met two agricultural officers in their car, I asked them what power they had to enforce the prevention of soil erosion. They said, "None at all; we have been lecturing to them and telling them about these things, but we have no powers to compel them to carry out our advice."
There is soil erosion in Kenya, too. When I went to the acting Governor of Kenya and told him that I should like to see some soil erosion, he said he would send me out to Captain Wilson, who is a big farmer, 60 miles from Nairobi, and that he would send one of the Government agricultural officers with me so that I did not hear only one side of the story. We drove to Captain Wilson's farm and walked up a hill to a fence. On one side on Captain Wilson's land the grass was knee deep, on the other side there was no grass. The land was as bare as the back of my hand. That was a native reserve. The place was over-grazed, and there was a considerable amount of soil erosion. I hope the Secretary of State will tell me something different, because no one will be better pleased than myself when he is able to come to the House and say that he has cured soil erosion in 2149 Kenya. These Africans have freedom, and the result of their freedom is that they are passionately devoted to the British Constitution and the Crown. By their efforts in the Middle East, Burma and Assam they have considerably helped us in this fight for freedom, and we owe a debt to them and this Bill to-day is an instalment.
The Secretary of State has mentioned private enterprise and the need for helping it. One hon. Member who lived in Granada in the West Indies criticised some private enterprise. I do not know enough about the West Indies to argue with him, but I know what I saw in Northern Rhodesia. Take the copper belt and the mines right in the middle of the jungle. They have set up a place with main drainage, water supply and good houses, and it is as good a place to live in as any I have seen. They got Sir Malcolm Watson out from the Tropical School of Medicine to advise them on malaria. The result is that there is practically no incidence of malaria in the place, although they are living in an extremely malarial district. There was also a small town belonging to Turner & Newall, who run an asbestos mine. I do not know any of the directors or their names, and none of my family have had shares in that company. If any British enterprise deserves a pat on the back it is that firm. It is said that married men do not live longer than single men, it only seems longer, but the doctor at Turner & Newall's place in Northern Rhodesia told me that the incidence of disease among married men was 50 per cent. lower than among single men. And they are encouraging families by building good houses.
The Dominion of South Africa has a great deal to do with health in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, because the single men emigrate to the mines in South Africa in great numbers. They have a wonderful medical service in the mines and they are extraordinarily careful about the diet of their workers. They give the men a balanced diet. In Kenya there are some tribes that live only upon milk, blood and flesh. In other places they live on nothing but bananas. In no place did I see any natives who have a balanced diet of their own. When they go to the mines they have to have the meat, vegetables and mealies all mixed up care- 2150 fully so that they cannot pick the vegetables out and put them on one side. They have to eat what is put before them. They can have as many helpings as they like, and the result is that they put on one or two stone in a year or 18 months. When they go back to Nyasaland they are immediately infected again by the horrible bilharzia, and they get thinner and more unfit for work. It is all very well to say that the Colonies should depend on the energy, skill and enterprise of the natives, but some of the tropical diseases will have to be stamped out before these poor people have the energy to work as they should.
I hope that there will be better education and that some of this money will be spent on it. It is curious to find parents saying in some places in Africa, "What is the good of educating the girls, for there is no money in that?" They send their boys to school, but do not bother very much about sending the girls. A bit further South, in places like Basutoland, they send the girls to school but not the boys, because the boys are used as cattle herds from a very early age. Generally speaking, however, there is a lack of education for the women. I was told a sad story about two natives who came to London and took good degrees as doctors. They went back to their Colony and got good Government positions. Unfortunately, within five years they had taken to drink, and, although they were warned by the Governor two or three times, they had to be discharged, although they were clever doctors. They had married women who were not educated and they had nobody to talk to in their homes. The result was absolute boredom and they took to drink. That, among other reasons, is one reason why we should look after the education of the African girls.
I hope that the Secretary of State will not forget the missions. In some places we went to a religious war was going on between the Roman Catholics, the Church of England, Scottish Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists over their particular spheres of influence. To me they were all Christians and were all doing good work. I remember one Scottish lady who had lived out there for 20 years. She was alone and was spending her time teaching children up to 12 and giving her life to them. She taught them how to grow crops, how to prevent diseases and the dangers of being bitten by the mosquito. She also taught the women to take the 2151 children off their backs and put them into cots. She was, in fact, giving her life wholeheartedly to teaching the people hygiene and Christianity. She complained that even the little money that she required could not be obtained. I understand that the Budget of Nyasaland is only about £500,000 a year; in Northern Rhodesia, since the copper boom, it has gone up to about £3,000,000.
I hope that money will first be spent upon medical research, and I do not see why all the countries of Africa cannot join together, which would make for economy and efficiency. In India we have what is called a subordinate medical service. They are not fully trained doctors—it is only a four-year course—but with such a service you get quantity if you do not get quality at once. I suggest that something on those lines would save very many lives in Africa. Films on hygiene in the villages are also required. The people live a dull life in the villages, and if we could send out films on hygiene and other things, and lecturers also, it would be money well spent and I am sure the shows would be popular. I wonder whether at a place like the capital of Nyasaland, Zomba or Blantyre or in Northern Rhodesia at Livingstone and Lusaka, it would be possible to put a ring five or ten miles away from the towns and stamp out bilharzia. Within a hundred yards of Government House I think you will find people suffering from the disease. We now have a young, energetic Colonial Secretary who is full of courage, and I am sure we are going to have great things from him. Conditions are, of course, much better than when Dr. Livingstone died on 1st May, 1873. Only 100 yards from here we can read on his tomb:May Heaven's rich blessings come down on everyone, American, English or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the worldMuch has been done by British administration since then, and I hope that, when the centenary of Livingstone's death comes round in 1973, he will not turn in his grave, but will lie contented that this open sore of the world has been healed.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Riley (Dewsbury)
I want to join in presenting some kind of bouquet to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for the 2152 Bill which is now before the House, and I do so with great sincerity, because I have always taken some interest in Colonial questions. I think he is to be congratulated on the success of his persuasive efforts in getting his colleagues in the Government to authorise him to submit this programme of Colonial development. But whilst welcoming this substantial addition to the amount of money which is to be available, what I am concerned about is to approach the new development from the point of view that unless there is effective machinery which can utilise adequately and efficiently this new Parliamentary policy of spending the money, it is no use providing the money at all. I would like to call attention to the fact that this Bill, following on the Acts of 1940 and the earlier one of 1929, is only another stage in the new policy which the Imperial Parliament agreed to develop in connection with our Colonial dependencies.
Several remarks have been made in speeches to-day warning us that we must not be too open handed in the provision of finance for our Colonial dependencies and peoples, because, after all, the Colonial people themselves must be largely responsible for their own economic conditions and for their own future. I do not quarrel entirely with that, but I do ask Members to remember that this money is being provided by the British Parliament for our Colonial fellow subjects for whom we have accepted responsibility, for whom after a long series of years we have undertaken to act first as trustees for their welfare and in later years on the basis of common partnership. That has been our relationship to the Colonial peoples, and as the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) has pointed out it only began in 1929, some 15 years ago. In the White Paper on Colonial policy issued in 1940 it was admitted, quite frankly, that up to 1929, even almost to 1940, the attitude of our Imperial Parliament to the Colonial dependencies was that they must stand upon their own feet, that they must live on their own resources and be responsible entirely for their own maintenance and for their own progress. That policy has been abandoned and we have now accepted our obligation, as the Imperial Parliament, to be partners with our Colonial fellow subjects in a policy, which we accept, of their right, as subjects of this Empire, to go forward to 2153 standards of living more or less comparable to those which we demand and accept for ourselves.
That is the point of view from which I wish to approach the policy lying behind the Bill. It is not disputed that, by and large, over the whole field of our 50 Colonial territories with their 60,000,000 inhabitants, there is a degree of poverty, of ill-health, of low standards of living which none of us for a moment would tolerate in our own country. We have for generations been demanding for our own people the right to go forward from stage to stage in a rising standard of living. That, as I understand it, is what we now accept with regard to our Colonial peoples, and I hope we accept it frankly and without equivocation. Moreover, after the first war of 1914–18 we were parties in the Covenant of the League of Nations, in so far as we accepted mandated territories as a Colonial Power, to recognising our obligation to act as trustees for the well-being of the Colonial peoples in the territories over which we have control.
So I ask Members not to take the narrow view that we should not do more than we are really compelled to. I agree that we should not nurse them but that we should really assist them. My main point, as I have already mentioned, is that it is no use having Bills like the one before us and the two that preceded it to provide money for these objects unless that money is adequately and efficiently spent, and therefore the point to which I wish to address my remarks is whether after all, in the light of our experience in the last 15 years and particularly in the last four or five years, we have developed in our Colonial administration the machinery adequate to meet the new points of view, the new policies which we have accepted as a basis of our Colonial administration.
What has occurred in these 15 years, in this policy of Colonial development and welfare? In the Act of 1929 there was provision for spending £1,000,000 a year. That Act ran till 1940. At the end of those 11 years we had spent about £8,500,000, and there was still £2,500,000 unspent. In the new Act of 1940 we lifted the £1,000,000 a year provided under the Act of 1929 to £5,000,000, plus £500 for purposes of research. That Act will have been running for five years in 2154 June of this year. Parliament authorised the Government to provide under that Act a maximum of £5,000,000 annually for purposes of Colonial development, so there has been available in the five years the sum of £25,000,000. We have actually spent in those five years not the £25,000,000 available, but only £2,860,000. I had a Question on the Paper this morning, and the answer has given me the figure. I know the reply which has been given on previous occasions to the question why the sum available has not been spent. It is very largely because we have never created the proper machinery under which the expenditure could usefully have been made. I accept the reply up to a point, which is that the war has caused a universal lack of man-power and materials throughout the world. There is a certain measure of truth in that statement, but the reply does not apply to the years between 1929 and 1940, when the first Act was in operation, and at the end of which period £2,500,000 still had not been spent.
While there is a great deal to be said for the influence of the difficulties of war conditions, none the less new machinery should have been created to implement the new policy on which we had embarked. There might then have been a different story to tell. I am fortified in that argument by the fact that the one region in which we have developed a certain amount of more or less adequate machinery for the administration of grants under the Development Act is the West Indies. In 1940, we established the Stockdale Commission there. Sir Frank Stockdale was controller of the Commission, with an adequate staff of experts, and they surveyed the West Indies from end to end in their three or four years. They have developed schemes and have spent—and this is the important point—out of the total of £2,860,000 which has been spent under the Act, no less than £1,800,000. In other words, we spent, by means of the organised machinery under Sir Frank Stockdale, with its staff properly supplied with experts, twice as much on 2,600,000 people as we had spent in the same time on the 50,000,000 people in our great African Colonies. That bears out the argument which I am presenting, which is that if we are to see the money which the Bill provides usefully expended to achieve its purposes, there must be the machinery under which the work 2155 can be done. It is not only a question of money but of making the machine whereby the money can be used effectively.
I had the opportunity in the Debate on this question in July of last year of referring to this same point. I would remind the Secretary of State that the argument which I then used did not find any response from him; but we had a response in well-informed Colonial circles outside this House. I have in my hand a copy of the trade journal of the British Empire Producers' Organisation for October, 1944. In that issue the editor devotes almost a page of notes to this idea of improved machinery for the administration of our Colonial responsibility. Perhaps I might be allowed to quote a few words from it:Mr. Riley asked for the institution of a Colonial Development Authority entirely under Government tdministration and with Government finance … He certainly voiced the opinion of all who have studied Colonial organisation and management in the field. … In fact, everyone who matters agrees with Mr. Riley, except the Secretary of State and the Colonial Office.
§ Colonel Stanley
I would like to ask the hon. Member whether he is going to accept the point of view of this journal on other matters as well as its agreement with his own speech.
§ Mr. Riley
I am giving this unbiased testimony of a non-Labour organ about the necessity of reforming the Colonial machinery. It continues:It is abundantly and mournfully clear that modern Colonial development on the financial and material side is beyond the capacity of even the best Civil Service in the world.There is a page or two of comment of that kind, in all of which there is unqualified support for the argument which I then used, and which I now use, and unqualified condemnation of the Secretary of State in his attitude towards proposals of this kind. I therefore wish to invite both the House and the Secretary of State to take another look at this idea of whether something is not called for by way of a change in the sphere of administration, if this policy, which we are developing and extending from £5,000,000 to £12,000,000 a year to a total of £120,000,000, is to be effective and do, in anything like a reasonable measure of time, a pressing job bearing on the social conditions of 60,000,000 of our fellow 2156 subjects, on their standard of living and the economic possibilities of raising that standard and of increasing their purchasing power.
I do not wish to say silly or hard things about the Colonial Office and the expert gentlemen whom the Secretary of State has at his disposal in the elaboration of his very laudable and well-intended schemes of reform. I have never any question in my mind as to the intentions of the Secretary of State about these matters; it is only a question of whether he has really grasped the fact that the machinery he has is not up to the job. Men in the Colonial Office who, as I have said before, were educated at Eton or Harrow, or at the universities, and who learned Greek, Hebrew, etc., are in charge of the economic developments which are involved in this Measure. It reminds me of a story I heard of a man who has become a very high official in the Colonial Office. He was met by a friend of mine when he was out in the East. My friend asked him whether he was acquainted with languages. He replied, "No, I learned Hebrew. I took Jewish theology at the university. That is my only language qualification." As I say, I do not wish to say silly or unnecessary things about the Colonial Office. The point is whether the type of men on whom the Secretary of State has to rely as officials at the Colonial Office are the right type, in the times in which we are living, to handle these plans of economic construction, which have been urgently called for in setting our own Colonial house in order.
I would remind the Secretary of State that in other countries changes of machinery have taken place when the occasion has required it. I would only call attention to something which I think he saw in his recent visit to the West of America, the Tennessee Valley Scheme, which was organised, not by officials, but by experts specially appointed for their qualifications for the job. In order that I might assure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that I am not tied to any particular form of Colonial authority, or Colonial board, which has often been advocated by Members on this side of the House, and by members of the Conservative Party, I would ask whether he thinks a Colonial authority, composed of specially qualified persons, with experience and qualifications, gathered together 2157 to do a specific job, and given a measure of executive authority, but working under the direction of himself and responsible to him, would not be a much better way of getting on with the job for which this Bill is designed. I do not want to go into any details, but I think it is a way in which great strides might be made.
The Secretary of State has referred to-day to the appointment of Sir Frank Stockdale as chief adviser, as I understand it, in Colonial development planning. That is alright, but why should not Sir Frank Stockdale be in charge of a special Department of the Colonial administration if necessary? If the Secretary of State does not wish to see what I call a Colonial authority set up, why not have a special Department of the Colonial Office charged with carrying out the responsibilities in connection with development schemes provided for under this Bill, and composed of men with economic and business experience, who would devote their time, under his direction, of course, to seeing that the whole Colonial field was served? I know the Secretary of State works at present through the local Colonial Government bodies and his advisory committees, but I think that a very great stride could be made if, attached to the Colonial Office, there was an expert body of men, whose time was devoted to the question of surveying the needs and the possibilities in connection with our work of Colonial development.
That is the main point I wish to make to the House to-day and to put to the Secretary of State. In conclusion, I hope the Secretary of State, with this new authority which Parliament has given him, to spend during the next 10 years £120,000,000, or an average of £12,000,000 a year, on work which we accept as being necessary, will realise the great opportunity that lies before him, and seriously consider, in view of the responsibilities of the future, whether some real, effective change of machinery might not develop alongside the new powers of this Bill. There is the opportunity. The Secretary of State will not be here for ever. Secretaries of State come and go.
Some years ago we had a succession of seven Secretaries of State for the Colonies in seven years. The present Secretary of State has been devoting himself to the office for some years now, doing very arduous work, in a very public-spirited way, to bring home to us in this 2158 Imperial Parliament our duty to our Colonial Empire. He has also been travelling and seeing the Colonies at first hand. I hope that, as a result of this Debate, he will look again at the possibility of some reform of the Colonial machinery.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
Having sat through almost all of this Debate, I have been struck, as I imagine other Members have been, by two outstanding features of it. The first is that we should solemnly be proposing an expenditure of this very large sum—in terms of pre-war expenditure almost unprecedented—for this purpose, at a moment when the war is by no means won—it may go on for quite a time—and when we have many great responsibilities on our shoulders; at a moment, too, when we are committing ourselves to almost incalculable expenditure after the war. It seems a very striking manifestation of the British sense of responsibility for its Colonial Empire. I think we should take some credit for that. It will not be possible for any critic of the Empire, either within the Empire or outside, to say after this that we are neglectful of our duties, or that our attitude towards the less-developed peoples of the Empire is acquisitive.
The second feature that I observed is this. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) accused the Secretary of State of not wishing Members of Parliament to have facts; but since my right hon. and gallant Friend has taken office more Members of Parliament have been offered facilities to visit the Empire than in any previous period of two or three years. I have seen during this Debate more Members who have visited the Empire in the previous 18 months or so than perhaps were ever assembled for an Empire Debate in this House before. The arrangements of course were made by the Empire Parliamentary Association, and very well made, but my right hon. and gallant Friend created the facilities, and I think he deserves the credit. As my right hon. and gallant Friend said, what the House and the country are concerned with are, first, the objects of this expenditure, and, second, the methods by which it is going to be used. I have spoken before in these Debates about these objects, and I do not want to repeat what I have said, except to say 2159 that this great sum of money, spent over the years, must be spent mainly upon capital projects rather than upon what might be called recurrent annual expenditure in the Colonies. If this money were used, for example, merely to meet the growing upkeep cost of education, it would be wasted, but if it is used mainly for the development of capital projects, educational, economic, and others, which in themselves will yield a return in years to come, so that the Colony becomes independent, self-reliant, and self-supporting, the money will have been well spent. I support the Bill on that understanding. The goal of Great Britain in all matters relating to the Colonies is self-government for each of them. We are committed to that. But self-government necessitates the countries becoming economically self-supporting. If we tie round their necks vast weights of annually-growing debt to this country, they cannot ever become independent. Independence and self-reliance go together.
I want to deal with the second point which my right hon. and gallant Friend raised, namely, the methods of expending these sums. What are the methods employed in the Colonial Office itself, and what are the methods employed, or the methods which ought to be employed, in the Colonies? My right hon. and gallant Friend has told us what Sir Frank Stockdale's functions are, and what the functions of the Colonial Office are. He said they are to provide an all-over supervision: to see that moneys provided by Parliament are fairly divided between the various Colonies, that there is a proper balance between the plans from the various Colonies, and, above all, that the Colonies each get the advantage of the experience gained by the Colonial Office in other parts of the world. That is admirable. If Sir Frank Stockdale is able to do that kind of thing we shall all benefit from it. But is there any hope of that function being performed while my right hon. and gallant Friend persists in having as his machine at the Colonial Office a series of unrelated ad hoc advisory committees, when opinion in all parts of this House and of the Colonial Empire is moving irresistibly to the conclusion that one co-ordinating, strengthening body is the proper answer?
When I proposed in the last Debate that there should be a Colonial Advisory 2160 Council, with powers, my right hon. and gallant Friend, very properly, replied that he wanted more details about what was intended. I am ready to give those details now. My hon. Friends here and I have been studying this matter for a long time. We have had the advice of very experienced Colonial administrators, whose names I can give if necessary. This is the view we have come to. A Colonial Advisory Council should be set up by Parliament, and its functions defined in an Act of Parliament. All major issues in relation to the Colonies should be referred to the Council, and, in addition to advising the Secretary of State on such matters, the Council should have power itself to initiate inquiries and to make reports. The Council should be constituted in this way. There should be a standing membership not exceeding 10 or 12 in number, which, I suggest, should include some Members of Parliament, representing all the great parties, with a view to securing agreement upon Colonial policy—long-term plans which Parliament is likely to sustain throughout the years. It is essential that in this matter Parliament should speak with one voice. It would be a calamity if this business of Colonial administration became the subject of party wrangling. It is not so now, and it can always be maintained as a matter of agreement if my right hon. and gallant Friend will agree to the appointment of such a body, with Members of all the great parties upon it. I would include at least one senior Colonial administrator, who should be appointed for two or three years during his active career, so that the Council may be properly advised. I can give my right hon. and gallant Friend other details if he desires to have them.
That is what I feel is wanted here in the Colonial Office, but what about over there, where the work is being done? My right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) spoke of the good work done by the Stockdale Commission, and I might add that I saw that for myself, but that work, as my right hon. Friend himself and this House laid it down, can only be really effective if we co-operate with the other great Powers equally interested in that part of the world. So Sir Frank Stockdale's Commission became a sort of Allied Commission over there, and that sort of regional council has proved of the 2161 greatest possible value. I would ask that that system of regional consultative councils, containing representatives not only of ourselves and the Colonies but of all the Powers with colonial interests in that neighbourhood, should be adopted, and that the principle should be extended not only to the Caribbean, but to Africa, the Far East and wherever seems necessary.
There is no doubt that, after this war, we shall encounter a good deal of criticism from certain other Powers because we happen to be a great Colonial Empire with great possessions and interests. There will be envy expressed and criticism made on the grounds that we are taking a nationalistic rather than an international view. We must meet that criticism, and we can meet it in advance if we declare that we are ready to establish in other parts of the world that particular system we have established in the Caribbean, and that we invite other great Colonial Powers to join with us in the creation of regional advisory councils wherever justified.
I pass for a moment to the matter to which I referred at the beginning—the desirability of making these Colonies economically self-supporting. I agree entirely with what has been said about the need for improved social conditions, education and housing. I have told the House before that I was ashamed by the social conditions which I saw in the West Indies—ashamed and rather shocked—and anything we can do would not be too much to put these conditions right, but, given all that, it will remain true that, at the same time and with the same determination, we must aim at making these Colonies economically self-supporting. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) wanted all this to be done to make the Colonies self-supporting but without profit. How is this to be done? Whether it is a private enterprise profit or a Government profit, there must be a profit, and I would encourage that profit. Until we have had a thorough geological survey of the Colonial Empire, we cannot get far. I found, in British Guiana, that there was well-informed opinion, from the Governor to his engineers, that there lies in British Guiana a vast untouched field of mineral wealth, but nobody knows about it. It needs a geological survey, which must be done first.
2162 Will the Minister also bear in mind this further point? In the figures which he gave us of the imports from Great Britain before the war, these represented only 24 per cent. of the total Colonial imports, which I found rather staggering. I saw something of the position in the West Indies when I was there. American commercial agents are there now and are very busy and active. We have some agents there too, but they are not getting anything to do. The contacts have been broken. I do not say that every one of these islands, or Governments, wants a commercial attaché or agent attached to it, yet how is it going to be possible for our traders here to enter this Colonial market, so vast in extent, unless we have the very highest technical and commercial advice over there in the Colonies, seeking orders, making market surveys, returning their information to London, and guiding our traders on what they should do? I would like to be assured that the Minister is taking action in this matter. Personally, I feel that, unless we are able to attack the export problem in the same way in which we attacked war production, by mass production methods, by organising, in some co-ordinated way, the export trade of this country, we are not going to succeed but will fall down in the race with America and other countries. If that action is taken, it must be accompanied by the creation of a proper selling organisation abroad, and it should begin in our own Colonies.
§ Professor Gruffydd (University of Wales)
Does my hon. Friend mean official agents, or private enterprise agents?
No, what I had in mind was that there should be attached to the staff of each Governor a highly qualified Commercial Counsellor. It may well be that we shall have in addition to frame some organisation here, with its counterpart over there, but some link is absolutely vital. This is how I look upon this matter. Our goal, in Colonial administration, as I have said, is self-government for our Colonies and Protectorates, and we must continue 2163 striving to that end, but until that goal is reached let us make it abundantly clear that there can be no question whatever of any change in British sovereignty over that Colonial territory, and that any question of a sharing of responsibility by the creation of any international body with executive powers must be put out of our minds before we start to consider it. These Colonies were only developed in the past by a single administration in this country. It has not been so good in days gone by, but it has been better lately, and I think the Colonies have been the better for our disinterested administration. Our responsibility is a very heavy one, and we must never give it up, and, therefore, I ask the Minister to consider issuing a White Paper as soon as possible setting out the general policy of this Government towards the Colonies, and, particularly, the principles upon which those Colonies are to be administered. I think that should be done and should form the basis of any other action the right hon. and gallant Gentleman takes, and I think there would be no more suitable job for this new Colonial Advisory Council than producing the first draft of that White Paper for presentation to the Government.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I am glad the Secretary of State is in his place because, as one who has not always handed out bouquets to him, I take pleasure in joining with those hon. Members who have already given a welcome to the introduction of this admirable Bill. I think the House may itself claim some little credit for it, because those hon. Members who have attended Colonial Debates have pressed for further grants. I would only quote an extract from one speech by the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence), who, when speaking representing this party, in the Debate on the Address, said:We recognise that these projects will involve money for their development, and that at a time when we ourselves may find it difficult to make ends meet; but it is essential, in our opinion, that these sacrifices should be made. It will be an investment that will yield rich returns, …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1944; Vol. 406, c. 212.]It is typical of the sentiments expressed by Members on all sides here, but, while we may be grateful to ourselves for the pressure we have put on the Colonial Secretary, if it had not been for the 2164 Colonial Secretary himself—if we had had a bad Colonial Secretary—however much pressure we had brought upon him, these reforms would not have been brought about. So I wish to add my tribute to those which have been paid to him for his bravery in visiting the Chancellor of the Exchequer and producing a scheme such as this and winning the victory.
The 1940 Act was a beginning in development work. It had one great defect. Unspent balances were returned to the Treasury, and this Bill does not completely remedy that. In this Bill there is a limit of £17,500,000 maximum in any one year. There may be occasions when we might want to exceed that amount. I do not say that it would happen very often, but would it not be possible that the Treasury, on occasions when the Secretary of State himself came to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and asked that that limit might be exceeded, might be allowed to grant permission for the excess? That would happen very often, but in some very big scheme of development even the sum mentioned in the Bill might be exceeded, and there might be a desire to exceed it. I hope that there will be a loophole, even though the Treasury no doubt will sit on guard over it, so that on certain occasions it may be possible to exceed that sum if the money has been unspent in previous years.
The Bill is a great advance but without going into detailed figures, about which the right hon. Gentleman twitted the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley), I would give him these few simple ones. Under these proposals we are going to spend £12,000,000 a year on Colonial Welfare and Development and I would compare that with the expenditure on one of our own services. During 1943 no less than £60,000,000 was spent on education by the people of this country, and rightly spent, and there are in this country approximately the same number as, or indeed rather less people than, there are in the whole Colonial Empire. We spent on the service of education £60,000,000 in this country, and we are proposing to spend £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 a year on all development and welfare in the Colonies. I admit at once that the Colonies themselves will be providing money, but so indeed will local authorities in this country. One might in fairness compare the national expenditure of the Exchequer on educa- 2165 tion with the annual grant made to the Colonies and the sums raised here by local authorities with the sums which will be raised in the Colonies. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman talked about other sources and I hope that when he replies he may give some further information about these other sources.
There was one point in the Minister's speech which caused me some concern and that was his reference to the development company. Whatever form of development company is proposed to be set up, I hope it will in no way resemble the form of development company proposed to be set up in this country which appears to have entire freedom to do exactly as it wants with no control by the Government but for which the Chancellor is apparently answerable from time to time in this House. I hope if a company is set up in the Colonies it will not resemble that but will be a development company for which the Secretary of State himself will be responsible.
We shall find much to do with the money in the Colonies. I have taken the trouble to extract a few figures showing the kind of development which is going on there now and that which is going on in what I might call the Soviet Commonwealth.
In Turkmenistan, which is part of the Soviet Commonwealth, occupied by races very different from the majority of the people of Moscow, there were, in 1937, 481 doctors, and in Northern Rhodesia the number of doctors was only 20, and the number of orderlies, who might for this purpose be considered as doctors, 150, making in all 170. Passing to child welfare work, in Turkmenistan there were something like 6,000 creches for children, and at the time of the Pym Report, which is admittedly a little out of date, there was practically no maternity or child welfare work at all in Northern Rhodesia. Finally the number of medical aid posts was over 1,000 in Turkmenistan and in Northern Rhodesia it was 70. I only mention those figures to show how far we have to go to catch up with even an outlying province of Russia let alone to carry out the development we expect our Colonies to have in the future.
I fully realise what the Bill means by way of sacrifice. It is all very well for us to stand up here and say that 2166 £1,000,000 should be spent here and another £1,000,000 there. There are people sitting beside firesides in this country, many of whom have very small incomes, are heavily taxed and have not the slightest idea where certain Colonies are. They are likely to say, "Why should this money be spent on these Colonies when we have our needs here?" I hope that this sacrifice will be fully explained, particularly to the people of America, and that when American people tell us what we ought to do in our Colonial Empire, we shall tell them we are spending these sums of money at the sacrifice of our own people.
I would like to say a word of comment on the admirable speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair). He dealt with the question of administration and said how very difficult it was to induce anyone to join the Colonial Service when all we had to give was Lagos as compared with Paris, which is in the gift of the Foreign Office. There are two things we can give and the first of them is pay. If the job of officials in the Colonial Service is more arduous and less interesting than that of those in the Foreign Office, it should be raised accordingly. Secondly, we can give them more responsibility. Whatever responsibility a diplomat may have, it is of a very different kind from the actual responsibility of running a particular service in our Colonies. In that sense our Colonial administrators may be said to have more responsibility than officials representing us in the capitals of Europe and elsewhere.
I welcome this Bill with four provisos. The first is that the money must be spent. We all know what happened during the last few years. We had a Bill which provided for a small expenditure but even that sum has not been expended owing to the war. I hope that nothing will prevent the £12,500,000 a year being spent. The second proviso is that it shall be spent economically, that the full value of the expenditure will go to the Colonies and that there will be no rake-off. We must not give contracts to firms who make very big profits. There must be strict limitation of profits on all con tracts as a result of this Bill. Thirdly, I hope the money will be spent with firms who pay fair wages and who give good conditions to their workers.
2167 I quite realise the problem of Aden and appreciate the difficulty, and would only say in passing that it emphasises the very great difficulties in which we are put, not only in Aden but in such places as the native States in India where we have general responsibility, and the world thinks we are wholly responsible, but where, in fact, we are able to do very little. I hope that although he will not be able actually to provide for the establishment of trade unions in these districts in Aden, he will watch over the interests of the workers there, and, if I may say so, himself take the place of the trade union—
§ Colonel Stanley
If I might interrupt my hon. Friend, I would like to make it plain that, even in regard to the Aden Protectorate, we do not repeal the other proviso of the original Act with regard to fair wages. That we do maintain.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am glad the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has made that quite clear. Fourthly, I would say that I hope the money will be spent fairly; in other words, that it will not be spent on particular interests; that it will not be spent, for instance, on building a railway or a road up to some special factory or some special farm occupied by some very important person. I do not suggest that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself would sanction such an expenditure, but it is important that we should see that the money is spent fairly. If I might give a rather more general example, if it is proposed to spend money, shall we say, on the provision of drainage and lighting in a town, I hope that it will be over the whole town and not only over the European section of it. With those provisos, with all of which I am sure my right hon. and gallant Friend will himself agree, I welcome the Bill. It is a good Bill. It is a badly needed Bill, and I hope that it will mark the start of a great new development throughout our Colonial Empire.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Major Keatinge (Bury St. Edmunds)
I am glad to have the chance of speaking on this Bill, and I welcome the much-needed development which these additional sums of money will bring about. The points I want to make are with special relation to the African Colonies, some of which I know, not from any pass- 2168 ing acquaintance, nor have I seen them from any exalted height, but I can claim the knowledge of eight years' residence, much of it in quite remote and undeveloped places.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) and other hon. Members have spoken to-day about the future of the African Army which we have recruited in quite considerable numbers. I believe that one of the most important factors in any post-war development, such as is envisaged under this Bill, will be the influence of the many thousands of Africans who are now with the Forces, and whom we have recruited during these last five years, and not only of them, but of the very large numbers of others who have been engaged for years past upon the construction of camps, aerodromes, and so on under quite different conditions from anything they have ever known before. The war influence on these African Colonies, as everywhere else, has been great. The war has made a great impact upon undeveloped people, and can become a big force for good or for bad, according to the way in which we use it.
We have been in some of these Colonies for 100 years or more and in others much less, and during that time we have, here and there, built cities and made very considerable changes, but in other places we have barely scratched the surface of a thousand years of tribal life, and the tribal influence is very strong even at the present time. In West Africa, for example, with all its resources, many people are barely out of the Stone Age of development. Large numbers are diseased, underfed, and without any background of learning or culture whatever. It is from such people, among others, that many thousands have been recruited during these last few years, and units formed. Anyone who has served with them and learned to admire the grand qualities which they have shown, has seen also something of the problems met by people who are quite illiterate, without any real knowledge or grasp of European organisation, who learn to live the life of Army routine and quite often are in specialist employment. Those people learn to work wireless sets, and predictors, and other equipment they cannot really comprehend, through a language medium that they barely understand. Others learn to drive vehicles perhaps not previously seen, in boots not previously worn.
2169 These things are being done, and these difficult problems are being mastered. We shall see after the war a very large number of Africans going home, who are trained or part-trained artisans, with a sense of discipline, with a knowledge of English, and educated, in the broad sense, by travel. Now they will be going home, in some cases, to distant villages and remote districts, and to the old tribal life, but seeing it with very different eyes. In other cases, they will not go back but will drift instead into the towns, and big centres of population, turning their backs on the old life and turning to a new one which we, somehow or other, have to shape for them.
The problem of these demobilised soldiers cannot, of course, be treated as something separate and apart from the general life of these Colonies. The two things are very closely wrapped up with each other. It does, however, present quite a number of dangers and difficulties which we have to foresee. It would be wishful thinking to suppose that the influence of these returning soldiers will be uniformly good. On the other hand, it presents quite a number of opportunities which I hope we shall not overlook. I hope that the Colonies and the Protectorates, in submitting schemes under the provisions of this Bill, will take into full account the knowledge which these soldiers have already acquired, because it is really considerable. There is this about it too, that the instruction they have had has been for purely military ends; it is not designed to equip anyone for civilian employment, and the majority will be only part-trained for trades in civil life. If opportunities do not exist to complete that instruction, a great opportunity will be lost which may not come again for a long time.
There are to-day in West and East Africa a large number of Army training centres that have done first-class work and really achieved surprising results in training for war. I believe, given the resources and the staff, that equally good results can be obtained in training for the years of peace that lie ahead. These centres do need to be maintained so that those who have already had a fair amount of training and who have, above all, acquired the habit of learning, can complete what they have started and master a craft which will enable them to practise after the war as 2170 masons, carpenters, mechanics, and so on, for the good of their own country as well as themselves.
There is another point bearing on these things, which is fundamental to the development of East and West African Colonies, namely, the question of languages. I think anyone going out to the Colonies in an official capacity should learn the African language that is most needed. In learning to speak a language, one also learns to understand the people who speak it. But I do not think the matter ends there. There is a very large number of languages and dialects, often in the same district, and that gives rise, not only to problems of administration but, because of it, whole towns and communities are cut off from each other, and there is no real understanding of the world outside. Anyone with first-hand experience of these things must realise the muddle, confusion and suspicion that are caused. I hope very much that these languages will survive in their pure form, together with all that is best in tribal life, and that some literature will evolve. But times are changing very fast, and it is because the scope of these things is so limited, that a great many Africans have already had to start learning a second language, such as Swahili and Hausa.
I think there is little doubt that to get a real understanding and grasp of present-day life the medium of English is best, and I hope we shall push on with it. It is a vital part of Empire training to-day, and whether we improve it as a whole or not it is the means by which many Africans will climb to a higher position and a fuller understanding of life. I do not know whether there is any other part of the world, where the field for development is so great as it is in the East and West African Colonies. Roads and railways are waiting to be built; land is awaiting cultivation, businesses are waiting to be started—and I hope they will be under the provisions of this Bill. Some of the poorer Colonies seem to have stood still for a very long time past, apart from bursts of war-time activity. With so many claims, and so much waiting to be done, it will not be easy to settle where to make a start, but I would like to emphasise the overriding importance of one thing to these African Colonies, namely, the drive against disease. I believe that it must be made a foundation for any future progress, especially in West Africa, where the large 2171 proportion of the people suffer from parasites and chronic disease of one sort or another. It has been made clear that it is our purpose to encourage self-government and local responsibility, but without a certain standard of health there is no will or effort to learn. There is no energy to cultivate land, and no real desire to progress. Instead, there is a stagnation that is far too widespread. I have seen plenty of it myself. It is a kind of dead weight that cannot be moved.
I would like to make a short reference to three territories that lie close to, but are not a part of, the Union of South Africa which, I hope, will come in for their full share of development under the provisions of this Bill. They are Swaziland, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland. The position of these territories comes up from time to time, and will again in the future, mainly because they are bound by close economic ties to South Africa. Fears are expressed that they may perhaps be handed over to a Government unsympathetic to their interests, which will do but little for their development. I believe, however, that our main concern is to see those countries go ahead, and I feel that we should examine what we ourselves have already achieved and can achieve in the future. To date we have not done very much, and the passing of this Bill will allow a great deal more to be done.
I would like, in conclusion, to put a view that prevails in many Empire countries. It is this: that we here, in discussing all these matters, as we do from time to time, in broad terms, are far too often out of touch with all the facts and realities of the conditions of life and the climate in some of these Colonies. I know it is hard enough for anyone on the spot to take a broad and detached view of these problems, but it is even more difficult for those at a distance to grasp their real nature. It is for that reason that I welcome the recent visits made abroad by my right hon. and gallant Friend and other Members of this House—visits, which, I hope very much, will continue and increase in the future.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Bartle Bull (Enfield)
I will not follow the argument of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Major Keatinge), but I would like to say something in support of what my hon. Friend the Member for West 2172 Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) said about this Bill being of serious import to our people. With that, I fully and entirely agree. I also agree that the fullest advantage must be derived from it, and that the additional burden which it entails upon our people should be fully appreciated abroad.
I want to be brief, and I will confine myself to the question of small vegetable gardens and the vale system in the West Indies. My only excuse for doing so is that I spent seven years in the West Indies, working on a sugar plantation, and I know a little about some of the questions that are involved in this Bill. The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) mentioned something about Hebrew, but I did not quite follow him. I did not learn any Hebrew in the desert nor in the West Indies, though I learnt a number of other words and expressions. I appreciate the difficulty which exists in a one-crop country, whether the crop is sugar or whatever it may be. What I have to say about small vegetable gardens, and the vale system, also affects the health of the people who work on these plantations. As far as my experience goes, no matter how much one may try to help them, the negro population are improvident.
A white man, of course, cannot work against a negro, any more than a Japanese can work against a Chinaman. The standards are quite different. A man working on a sugar plantation has a very small plot of land, perhaps half an acre, and the thing is to try to teach him to grow vegetables, and I beg the Government to do that. If he buys them from a store in tins it costs infinitely more than if he just plants the seeds and grows them. He could also grow citrus fruit. Potatoes are all right because there are fire guards to prevent fire spreading from one cane field to another, so that he can always get potatoes. As to the vale system, very often a worker is not paid cash, but is given a vale, a note of paper, which he can take to a store and exchange it for anything he wants, though he may be restricted to one or two individual stores.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Wing-Commander Grant-Ferris (St. Pancras, North)
We must all agree that this has been a very remarkable day in the history of the country. We are voting an enormous sum of money for the benefit of the Empire and not a single dissentient voice has been raised. I feel sure that that is symptomatic of the feeling throughout the country that we are determined that, whatever neglect we have shown in the past to the Empire, we are not going to allow neglect to continue in the future. The Secretary of State said there would be various complaints about the Bill, one that it was too much money to give—that would come later—and another that it was not enough—a mere drop in the ocean—which would come now. I have not heard very many complaints that it was not enough. I think the general consensus of opinion is that it is a very fair amount to start with. So much depends on whether it is spent wisely. It is here that the regionalisation councils, particularly in Africa, will have a beneficial effect. There are many bugbears and difficulties in the various Colonies and Protectorates, such as disease, malnutrition and the universal backwardness of agriculture, and the regional councils will be able to advise the Colonial Office as to the best way in which the money can be spent to remedy those evils. Obviously, it would not be economical to have an agricultural research centre for each and every Colony. The Colonies will get together, and decide which is the best place to have an agricultural centre for the training of experts.
All this is not an end in itself. It is really a foundation upon which we may be able to build something truly great in the years ahead. The benefits that we shall gain will be very great indeed, provided the Government do their best to encourage private enterprise to take advantage of it. We hope we shall shortly have a native population which will be stronger and more ready to work and able to take its place amongst the great working people of the world, because they will be a fit, strong and healthy type of individual. I was one of a dele- 2174 gation to Central Africa, and we found that Nyasaland was crying out for development. Unfortunately that development has not in the past been encouraged by the Colonial Office. Some development has taken place, but not nearly as much as there might have been. I am in entire agreement with the general policy of the Colonial Office towards the natives. We found that it is not necessarily true to say that white interests do not coincide with native interests, and we were certain that a sprinkling of white settlers among the natives was beneficial.
We visited a certain region called the Vipya Plateau in the North of Nyasaland. It is a fine upland, well suited for white development. It has water and is less than 50 miles from Lake Nyasa and transport could take place to the railhead at the South of the lake. We were told that some tests had been made of the grass and it was found to be poisonous. We were not satisfied, however, that the tests had been properly made. In any case, such a conclusion should not necessarily exclude all possibility of putting this right in the future. We talked in the capital of the province with many of the chiefs, and expressly put it to them whether they would like to see a certain amount of white settlement in their area. They all agreed that they would, provided that native interests were safeguarded. They said that, wherever there was a white farmer, there would be an opportunity for employment for their own people and that they could learn better agricultural methods from the white man. At present, their great difficulty is to keep their people at home, because there is not sufficient for them to do and they migrate in large numbers to the mines. I would like to see the principle of a certain amount of settlement, in such territories as Nyasaland, accepted by the Colonial Office.
The question of Northern Rhodesia and what advantage it can get from this Bill is rather difficult, as, indeed, is the whole situation in that Colony. Other hon. Members have dealt with the Copper Belt, and I will confine myself to one or two remarks about the settlers who live on the railway belt, in the main in the Fort Jameson area. They are not numerous, only 200 or 300 at the most. They are very unhappy about their position and whether their tenure is good or not. They would much welcome some declaration by the Colonial Office that their position was safe 2175 and that they need not worry about their tenure.
I would like to say a few words about Tanganyika, which was visited by part of the delegation. The local people and the Colonial Office people had one point they wanted to drive home. It has been mentioned in this Debate and it ought to be mentioned again. That is the question of the mandate. I agree that if Tanganyika is to prosper, the mandate ought either to be abolished completely, or drastically altered. The effect of it has been to restrict development. Nobody wants to invest capital on long term because they do not know what the future will be. There is always lurking in the background the question of the return of the Colony to Germany. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) mentioned the Congo Basin Treaty. I can endorse every word he said about it. I did not meet anybody who did not wish heartily to see the back of it. It holds up trade and development almost as much as anything in the area. There is one other point in connection with the estates in Tanganyika which are in the hands of the custodian of enemy property. An attempt was made to sell them by auction to anybody who would buy them, and they were sold at ruinous prices. Certain gentlemen who were anxious to turn a quick penny bought them up, and the estates eventually found their way back into the hands of their former German owners. We must be careful to avoid that after this war. Every encouragement should be given to British settlers to buy the land and, provided the rights of the natives are respected, that is the best thing that could happen.
Time does not allow me to speak of Mauritius, and I hope that my right hon. and gallant Friend will prevail on the Leader of the House to give us at least half a day in order to discuss the report. It is something of which we have not very great occasion to be proud, and the House should have an opportunity of expressing its opinion on what is to be done in the future. I have had a unique opportunity in this war of visiting and living in a great deal of the Empire. I have visited every Colony in Africa, except British Somaliland, which is not worth going to, anyway. I am satisfied that a great deal has been done, and that a great deal is left to be done. I would conclude by paying 2176 a tribute to the high sense of duty which the Colonial civil servant, on the spot, shows. I am sure that he is a model to the world of which this nation may be justly proud. I would also like to congratulate my right hon. and gallant Friend. I know that he has the whole House and the country behind him, and we wish him every blessing in his new venture.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Colonel Stanley
I hope that hon. Members will not think it impertinent of me if I say what a high standard this Debate has reached. It certainly is true to say that we have in the House a large number of Members who have had opportunities, even though they may have been short ones, of seeing some of these places for themselves, and who, although not pretending to know in a short time all their history or how to solve all their problems, have, at any rate, a mental picture to conjure up which adds reality and interest to the Debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) started by apologising for the fact that he was substituting for the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones). No one in the House thought there was any reason for him to apologise, because he made an admirable speech on a subject, the economic development of the Empire, in which he has previously shown a considerable interest. With a great part of his speech I entirely agree. I agree with him that, in the spending of this money, it is essential to see that it is spent upon valuable development and not on sporadic enterprises, unco-ordinated and leading to nothing. For that reason, when the House has granted this authority, we shall be able to look 10 years ahead, and I am anxious to get from all the Colonies, not rigid detailed plans covering the day-to-day expenditure over the whole of those 10 years, but an overall plan which will enable us to see how they are going to spend this money, and to see what the picture will look like at the end of 10 years when the money is spent.
I agree too with him that it is essential that, as far as possible, the local people should be consulted about this matter. I emphasise that point because there does seem to be a certain fallacy creeping into some of the suggestions made by other hon. Members who talk about Tennessee 2177 Valley Authorities, or of councils with executive powers sitting in London and who are to decide these things themselves. That is not the idea of this Bill. It is not only that the local people have to be consulted but that, to an increasing extent, an extent that many people forget, nothing can be done in these Colonies without the approval of the local legislature. It is idle to talk as if we were back in the days 50 years ago, when, if bodies of that kind, however competent, sitting here in London, once decided a thing, it was inevitably and automatically ensured that it would be carried out in the Colonies. You cannot do it, and if you could do it I should not want to do it because I do not think it is the way to treat planning which is so intimately mixed up with the lives of these people.
There is only one point on this machinery with which I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman, and that is when he said that he wanted to see the Stockdale organisation reproduced in other parts of the Colonial Empire. The form of the Stockdale organisation was selected for a particular reason. It was that in the West Indies a large number of territories, small most of them in extent and most of them poor, did not have at their service the same high degree of technical knowledge that you would find in a large Colony such as Nigeria or other African Colonies. It was, therefore, necessary to give to them this particular set-up of high-class technical advice.
That position does not reproduce itself, say, in West Africa. It would be hard to find anywhere outside those Colonies people with the same technical knowledge of tropical medicine, colonial education and subjects of that kind who had higher qualifications than, if indeed they had qualifications as high as, the people who, in those Colonies, are responsible for those subjects. Therefore, in those areas the problem is a different one. It is much more the problem of directing and co-ordinating development between the Colonies, seeing that there is no overlapping, or seeing that there is due economy, by siting in one a service which may be made available for the lot.
I am sure that the House will understand that, so many speeches containing so many interesting points having been made, it is impossible for me to do more than to pick out one or two of the more important points made by the various 2178 speakers. That does not mean, however, that I have not listened with great interest to those that have been made and that I shall not find them extremely useful. There is only one other point made by the right hon. Gentleman to which I want to refer, because I think it is a point of immense importance, which was reinforced in the very thoughtful speeches of my hon. and gallant Friends the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Major Keatinge) and the Member for West Birkenhead (Colonel Sandeman Allen). It is the question of the returning Colonial soldiers. No problem is more important, or fraught with greater consequences for the future of these Colonial territories. I agree entirely with the emphasis that has been put upon the subject. It is not, the right hon. Gentleman will agree, only a part of this Colonial Welfare and Development Act but is part too of the general administration of our territories, and I think the Colonial administrations are fully aware of the need first of all for such things as rehabilitation centres and the continued training to which hon. Members have referred. Those steps are necessary to fit the returning soldier not for his old civilian life but for something that may offer a better prospect than his old civilian life. That is one part.
The second is, when you are planning your schemes under the Colonial Welfare and Development Act, always to have in mind, and in your plans first of all, the possibility of employment for those people during the interim period, and secondly the permanent settlement of them in the future. I have impressed these points upon all Colonial Governors wherever I have gone in these tours that I am having. It is one of the first subjects I discuss with them and I can assure the House that they are fully alive to the immense importance of this subject. Plans in most places are well advanced.
§ Mr. John Dugdale
Is there any guarantee that those who have any work to return to, will return to it in the equivalent position, as is provided for in the Tomlinson Act?
§ Colonel Stanley
No, I do not think there is anything of that kind. I will certainly take that point up but I doubt whether an Act of that kind is applicable to the much more shifing conditions of Colonial employment. Now perhaps I can come to the speech of the hon. Mem- 2179 ber for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild). Coming as he did almost straight from the intellectual atmosphere of his party conference, he proclaimed that we are all planners now. He gave me a moment of great anxiety, I must say, when he started to talk about an expected stream of production and consumption inside the British Empire. I began to think to myself: "Is this Free Trade or Empire Free Trade? Has the hon. Gentleman fallen into a slight error due to a similarity of names and thought that his leader was Beaverbrook and not Beveridge?"
§ Mr. de Rothschild
I do not wish in any way to restrict the interchange to the British Empire. My hope was that the direction of planning would be taken in hand by the British Empire and by the Colonial Office, at the head of which my right hon. and gallant Friend stands.
§ Colonel Stanley
My suspicions were obviously unfounded. The hon. Gentleman made a great point of the necessity for a survey of Colonial resources, and the point was echoed in other speeches. I entirely agree with him. One of the first things we have to do, as soon after the war as possible, is to have a proper comprehensive geological survey of the Colonial Empire as a whole. Plans for it are already well advanced. Hon. Members will understand that the necessary personnel and machinery are not now available, but it is obviously a case where the various Colonial territories have to be helped, and where a considerable amount of work should be done centrally and helped from a central fund.
I am sorry that I had to be out of the House for a brief period during which, I am told, a most interesting speech was made by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair). The main question which he raised was the same as was raised in the letter to "The Times" by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain Macdonald), the question of the whole machinery of Colonial government under the stress and strain of the wholly new burdens which have been put upon it by the development of government activities. What a Colonial Government has to tackle now, is wholly different from what it was expected to do only 30 years ago, and for which the machinery of 2180 administration was then devised. The difficulty is, of course, that the problem which my hon. Friend put forward is one on the existence of which everybody agrees. It is when you come to the solution, that great difficulty is found.
There are two things that one has to remember in proposing any solution. The first is that it is, to my mind, even worse to make a bottle-neck of the Governor than it is to make a bottle-neck of the Chief Secretary. It means that more and more paper work is put upon the Governor, thereby keeping from him freedom to tour and see for himself, for other people to see him and have the chance of expressing their views to him. That would be an extremely bad thing. The other thing is that it is no good, certainly at the moment, looking for a solution in the direction of making more and more appointments. My difficulty is to find anything like the number of people to fill the appointments which we have now got and it would be quite impossible to do any reorganising of Colonial administration at the moment which meant the addition of a large number of important new posts. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is a matter of extreme importance. I do not believe it will ever be found that there is one over-all solution applicable to every Colony. The method of working will no doubt have to be different according to the size, and the problems and the conditions of various Colonies. It is a matter I am now taking up with Colonial Governors, in order to get the problem thought out and ideas exchanged, and, I hope, improvements made.
I am sorry, too, that I missed the first part of the speech of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan), because I gather that in it he expressed, as reported to me, I must say with slightly gleeful malice, the regret that I had fallen from the high esteem in which he once held me, to a low position in his eyes. I should have heard that statement with a great deal of sorrow, tempered only by the fact that I was unconscious that I ever did occupy a high place in his estimation, and I never had an idea that there were any lower depths, to which to fall than those I had already reached. The hon. Gentleman, with whom I frequently disagree, does speak, I know, with a sincere desire to help the conditions of the Colonial people. He devoted a good 2181 deal of his time to-day to the question of appointments of local people to Colonial jobs. The hon. Gentleman can always find particular jobs which are still filled by Europeans, but I challenge him to say whether during the course of his lifetime, since he was a boy in the West Indies, there has not been a progressive growth of the posts in the West Indies being filled by people born and bred in the West Indies, and whether to-day there are not infinitely fewer Colonial Service people, whether in the administrative or technical branches, who came from this country, than was the case 20 or 30 years ago. I will not go further than that because I have not looked up the hon. Gentleman's age, and I do not wish to step on his toes.
It is, of course, our policy and a policy which is being carried out, to improve the chances for the people in the Colonies themselves, to get more and more of them into the Colonial Service. There is no disparity between the statement that we are doing it now, and shall be doing it after the war at a much-increased tempo, and saying at the same time that, when the war ends—and here I agree entirely with one hon. Gentleman who spoke—we shall need a great number of people from our own country, from our own Services and from the Dominions, to fill the great number of technical and administrative jobs which will be necessitated by the sort of development work we are going to do. The great criterion in the appointment of more and more people from the Colonies, to posts in the Colonial Service, is the question of training and fitting them for the job. That brings me back to the point I mentioned in my opening speech, the immense importance of facilities for higher education in the Colonies. It is only when that is done, when the bright boy, wherever he is, can have a chance, if he shows the ability, of having the best possible training for fitting him for the most difficult technical job, that full use can be made of the ability and natural talent of the people in the Colonies.
§ Dr. Morgan
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman always says that. Because he 2182 cannot answer the case he says I make trivial observations.
§ Colonel Stanley
I put against the very general statement the hon. Member makes the other general statement which he will find it equally difficult to answer, that for 20 or 30 years there has been a progressive increase in the numbers of Colonial people filling posts in the Colonies.
§ Colonel Stanley
The hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) entered into, I will not say a contest, but took one side of an argument against several other hon. Members. He sought to put education first in the necessities under these development plans. The other hon. Members put health first. It is, in a way, an academic argument, because I do not think we can get anywhere without both. It is extremely difficult to say which comes first in an integrated plan. It is the aim of the supervision of the over-all Colonial plans in this country to see, not where schools are to be put, or what size a hospital is to be, but rather in seeing that the plan gives proper emphasis to all these various objects—that a fair deal is being given both to education and health.
The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), who is not, I think, now in his place, asked whether the £120,000,000 was inclusive or exclusive of the sum to be spent upon research. It is inclusive of the sum to be spent on research, which comes out of this Measure, subject to the limitation that not more that £1,000,000 shall be spent on research in the course of a year.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
Does the geological survey come under the heading of research, or under something else?
§ Colonel Stanley
It will probably come under research. It might be partly under research and partly under something else.
There was one other point the hon. Member raised, a point which was followed up by another hon. Member. After a very welcome tribute to the members 2183 of the Colonial Service, he complained that they had no power to enforce, that they were advisers preaching, trying to convert, but without any power. Hon. Members will realise that that is a matter for the Colonial Governments, and a matter concerning which I must rely upon them. Whether the easiest way to get people to take the natural precautions necessary to do away with some of these preventible diseases, is to advise them, to encourage them, to explain matters to them, or whether it is by passing orders, forcing them to do what is necessary, is a matter on which I must depend on the advice of the people on the spot. They have the power of passing the necessary ordinances, to give legislative sanction to these various precautions, and it is for them to suggest whether they want to take them. They will, I am sure, be reinforced by the expression of opinion in the House to-day.
The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) made a very interesting speech, in the course of which he referred to a previous speech in which I had disagreed with him. He claimed complete victory in the contest between us, because of the support that he has received from a paper called the "Empire Producer"—a most respectable paper, a paper in whose company I should very much like to be seen, but not, I confess, a paper in whose company I expected to find the hon. Member.
§ Colonel Stanley
Supported as it is, by almost every planters' association, by almost every sugar manufacturers' association, it contains all that is highest in Colonial capitalism. I can only ask that the hon. Member will attach as much importance as he did to their praise of his speech, to other views which they may in future express on Colonial policy. If so, I am sure that he will gain very great benefit. I must point out that the whole difficulty of his idea of this development corporation, this "Tennessee Valley Authority," completely overlooks, as I have said before and as perhaps some of the people who agreed with him would like to overlook, the political aspect. We are developing in these countries self-government in varying degrees, and it is not for us to sit here and decide the broad lines their develop- 2184 ment is going to take, or to pass over their heads something which, after a time, is going to remain a permanent burden upon them.
The hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale), who, if I may say so, made an admirable speech, made a point with regard to the limit of £17,500,000 in the Bill. I quite see the Treasury's point in having a limit of this kind. It would be wrong if they who have to look forward to the budget of this country should suddenly find it upset by the inclusion, in any one year, of a wholly disproportionate amount of this ten years' expenditure. But I went into this matter very carefully, and I cannot see any possibility of any one year in which we ought to want to spend more than £17,500,000. If ever such a situation arose, and we wanted to spend such a disproportionate amount of the provision for the whole ten years, it would be only as a result of extremely bad planning, because the whole idea of this provision for a ten-year plan, is that the money should be spread out economically over the period. I do not think that there should be any possibility of this limit giving any trouble. If it does, it is only right that the Colonial Secretary of the day should have to come to the House to explain the reasons, and get the House to absolve him from this provision.
With regard to the hon. Member's question about the development companies, there was not much time to-day as hon. Members had so many other important points to raise but on another occasion hon. Members may wish to develop any ideas that this may bring to their minds. What I had in mind was development companies that would be the responsibility of the Colonial Governments. It could only be that because they would have to be financed, partly at any rate, with money provided under this Act. Finally, I welcome very much the hon. Member's reference to the Colonial Service. I think that after the war, when things settle down, we shall have to review their conditions of service and see that they have not only treatment which is commensurate with the responsibilities they take on, but treatment which will attract the very best. As I say, I missed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk who said that the Foreign Office had their Paris, while all that the Colonial Service had was Lagos but if the hon. 2185 Member for West Bromwich thinks that because of that difference, the Foreign Service was able to get better recruits before the war, or a higher standard than the Colonial Service, I cannot agree. I think that there are a great many men to whom Lagos, with all its difficulties and unpleasantness, but with its responsibilities, appeals. The life of an administrative officer out in the bush, with his responsibilities, appeals far more to some people than the life of a third or fourth secretary, in some European capital.
§ Mr. John Dugdale
I did not say that there was a lower standard in the Colonial Service than in the Foreign Service.
§ Colonel Stanley
No, but the hon. Gentleman referred to my hon. Friend's remark which made me fear for a moment that he might have fallen into this lamentable error. I have referred to the most interesting speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds, who has had great experience of these areas and who stressed again, with many suggestions, the problem of the returning soldier. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Bull) I need refer to only briefly. Despite the verbal triumph he scored over me, I still maintain that the conditions to which he referred, and of which he had experience in Cuba, were peculiar to Cuba.
§ Colonel Stanley
But the Truck Act has been in operation in British territory for many years and it seems to me that the practices of which my hon. Friend spoke would have been an obvious and direct contravention of the Truck Act. My hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) had some interesting things to say about his advisory council scheme. I am always ready to listen to suggestions about machinery, and I have, in the course of two or three years made a good many alterations in the machinery, but I must point out the difficulties of some of the suggestions that were made. I am afraid I missed the actual passage in his speech, but I have a note of it. He wants an advisory committee to which everything of importance in the Colonial Empire is to be referred. I find it very difficult to think of any advisory committee of a reasonable size which will be able to give me really good advice on 2186 every important matter which arises in every part of the Colonial Empire.
§ Colonel Stanley
The thing is too big; it is too difficult. I believe that there is no alternative to the system I have now of separate advisory committees for the various technical subjects so that we do not throw a programme which covers health, agriculture, veterinary services and fishing and so on at half a dozen people and say, "Advise me on it." No six people, no eight people, no twelve people will really be experts on all those subjects. Those who can advise you are experts on education, agriculture or upon some other technical object, such as postal services or something of that kind, to whom any problems can be referred. It is not that because I do not seek advice or because I have not a great many advisers now, that I reject the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. It is because I believe that, in this functional provision of advice, rather than in this over-all committee, lies the best chance of getting the best advice on these difficult subjects.
Finally, I pass to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North St. Pancras (Wing-Commander Grant-Ferris), which, I am afraid, had to be rather heavily cut. My hon. and gallant Friend, had he had more time, would no doubt have developed more fully the question of the development of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. There was, however, one specific question which lie asked me which I did not quite understand. My hon. and gallant Friend said that certain settlers in Northern Rhodesia were anxious about the future of their land, which suggested that they had some doubts about their tenure.
§ Wing-Commander Grant-Ferris
I think I had better say that what they seemed to be afraid of was that the whole of Northern Rhodesia might be declared a Protectorate and that they might lose their freeholds.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am afraid I do not quite understand. It is already a Protectorate, and in any case the declaration of a Protectorate would not affect at all the tenure of their land. I think they can be content that those who have got freehold tenure are not going to be dispossessed of it. My hon. and gallant Friend's main point was with regard to 2187 opportunities, particularly in Nyasaland, for further development. I want to see further development. I quite agree with him, and I do not think for one moment that the interests of the white settler, and those of the coloured native, are necessarily opposed, although I think possible competition between them has got to be very carefully watched.
I want the possibility of large-scale agricultural development to be examined. No doubt it will be by the new Development Commissioner, who has just been busy dealing with both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, but we want to look at these things very carefully. It is no good saying, "Here is some land that is not being used; let us develop it." You must make certain, when you put people there, what things they are to grow, and, when they grow them, whether they are to be able to sell them. Are they to grow the same things as other people grow elsewhere, perhaps in easier conditions and with a more suitable climate and better soil? Nothing is more fatal than to develop an area for uneconomic production, and then either have to see these unfortunate people lose their all, because of the advice and encouragement you have given them, or be committed for ever to carrying what, from the start, was an uneconomic proposition. Therefore, I suggest that all these possibilities of future development have to be investigated very carefully, from the point of view of their future economic utility, what is going to be produced and whether that produce is going to be sold and used.
I have endeavoured to deal as fully as possible with the many interesting points that have been raised. I can only conclude by thanking the House for the reception of this Bill, and by reiterating the hope which all speakers have expressed that, through its operation, real benefit will in future be brought to the Colonial Empire.
§ Colonel Stanley
No, Sir, I really cannot. I am dealing with the Second Reading of the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill. In no circumstances could that have any effect whatever upon the whole political question of the Mandate. I imagine that were I to 2188 attempt to deal with the subject Mr. Deputy-Speaker would immediately rule me out of Order.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House.—[Major A. S. L. Young.]
§ Committee upon Tuesday next.