§ 12.1 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton)
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like now to turn from the discussion of Burma to the subject of Mr. Anthony Brooke, and his entry into Sarawak. I am sure the House will not have missed the comparison between the giving away of Burma and India, and the rush to get rid of all the major parts of the British Empire, with the equal rush with which a tiny area the size of England, with a population of some 500,000 people, has been almost snatched into the British Empire in the last few months. There is no evidence, as far as one can see, that the people of Sarawak particularly desire to come into the Empire. The unseemly haste was particularly noticeable yesterday in the answers made by the Colonial Secretary to the questions which I and other Members put to him at Question time.
Anybody who reads HANSARD today will be much interested in the many things which have taken place. These are items of particular interest to anyone who follows Colonial history. We saw the Colonial Secretary trying to protect his office from being shown up—as it may yet be shown up—for a series of the most appalling muddles in the taking over of a Colony, whether it was right or wrong that it should be taken over. The Colonial Secretary got himself completely tied in knots and put himself in a position in which he seemed to be denying the constitutional right of a British subject who, as far as we know, has done absolutely no wrong, to visit different parts of the Empire, especially in peacetime. I must give some of the background of what has been happening, because there are large num- 2362 bers of people, not only in this House but all over the country, who are not quite sure what all this is about.
Sarawak was a Raj belonging to the Brooke family. By a series of treaties, she became closely connected with Great Britain. During the war it became probable that she would become still more closely connected. There are very few people, as far as we know, who objected to the Brooke family being there, or to the very benevolent rule of the Rajah. The late Rajah—he is still entitled to call himself the Rajah—has no male heir. Therefore, the title normally would have passed to his brother and his brother's son, who also has a small boy. As far as one can see, there is no reason why the title should not have passed to them or why they should not have worked amicably with the British Colonial Office, as they had done formerly.
This particular Rajah decided to sell out, entirely off his own bat. He came to an arrangement with the British Government which, in effect, means that he sold out his interest and handed everything over without consulting the rest of the family, or the people of the country. When it is realised that the country has an area similar to that of England with only 500,000 people in it, it will be seen that it is not easy to get about there. Sometimes it is very difficult for the people in the country, many of whom are very ignorant, to know and understand affairs of this nature. Naturally, it takes a long time before they understand a situation. They have always looked upon the Rajah as a sort of father who would give them advice. This particular Rajah told them that they were to be handed over to the King of England. Presumably to their mind, that would mean that they would be seeing the King of England as often as they saw the Rajah. On the contrary, they have been seeing a Governor who does not speak their language, who came from Africa and who knows nothing about Sarawak problems. As far as one can see, he has been making the most arrogant statements to the Council in Sarawak, statements strongly reminiscent of those which the Germans made in West Africa before the 1914–1918 war. That was one of the reasons why the Germans were' not allowed to have their colonies back after the war. Among other things, the Governor is reported to have said that the 2363 whole question had been settled constitutionally, and there was nothing more to be discussed.
I want to point out to hon. Members that a majority of native members of the Council, which approved the cession, were against the proposal. One or two European members who should have been there, and were known to be against it, were told not to report back to duty until everything was over. There is much doubt as to whether the cession was properly carried out. If it had been considered by this House of Commons, we might have said that it had not been properly approved and that we did not want to take over a Colony in that way. That being so, it is quite possible that the matter will come up at a later date. It would then be possible for His Majesty the King to hand back, if necessary, this Colony to the Brooke family. The Governor had no right whatever to say that the whole matter was completely finished.
Now I come to the question of this young man, Mr. Anthony Brooke, being allowed to visit Sarawak. If what I have said is more or less true, then it will be very unpleasant indeed for the Colonial Office if the facts eventually come to light. Therefore, it would be very nice for the Colonial Office if they could stop Mr. Brooke from entering the country. In the past there have often been white men who have gone out to native countries, and who have done their best to fight for the interests of the natives. That, I believe, has always been the tradition of the Brooke family. It continues to be their tradition. There is also a libel action due to come on in this country. It is a libel action taken by the Rajah's Secretary, with whom the Colonial Office were working in close touch during the arrangements for the cession. Several statements have been made, some by the present Colonial Secretary's predecessor, pointing out that in no function in which this particular man took part in his visit to Sarawak was he allowed to work without the close co-operation of an important official from the Colonial Office.
The libel action against Mr. Brooke is one which will be familiar to the House because at one time Mr. Brooke sent a circular to hon. Members. It deals very largely with affairs in Sarawak, a country 2364 which Mr. Brooke has not been allowed to visit for a long time. It is considered by Mr. Brooke and his solicitor essential that he should go to Sarawak to have the opportunity of getting together his own information on the different subjects raised so that he can put up a proper defence. When the libel action comes before the court, if he does not present a proper defence and the result is against him, then that will be very much a feather in the cap of the Colonial Office. It is a very dangerous thing indeed, that the Colonial Office should give anybody the impression that they are doing anything to prevent a man from getting information which he requires in order to take an action against the Colonial Office, or against a friend of the Colonial Office. On 6th November, Mr. Brooke wrote to the Colonial Secretary pointing out that he was going to Sarawak for that purpose. It is true that he was also going to study the country and what was going on there. He asked if he could have a priority for the journey and, also, whether he could have the opportunity of getting about the country. On 13th November the Secretary of State wrote back and said that the Colonial Office could not agree that the reasons which he stated warranted their giving him the priority or the facilities to go about the country.
Yesterday, the Colonial Secretary told us that before 13th November, and even since, Mr. Brooke had been making statements which the Colonial Secretary considered would be liable to cause considerable disturbance in Sarawak. From the different other statements which he made on similar lines when he was questioned— I will not quote them now—it would seem that he knew perfectly well before 13th November, all that he really needed to know if he was going to make up his mind to prevent this gentleman from entering the country. Yet he never took any such steps. He said he did not know when Mr. Brooke was going. Actually, Mr. Brooke left a few days after the end of November. I would like to know what it is that the Colonial Secretary considers that Mr. Brooke has said or done that is unconstitutional, or, in fact, whether he can give us any of those famous quotations with which he defended his case yesterday.
We hear so much of the Press. When it is against the Government, we are told to wait for the full report. We know how 2365 often we are told that, in America, the Lord President or others, or the Minister of Food have been misquoted, and then there is a repeat back to get the full statement made in the House. Has the Colonial Secretary taken the trouble in these supposed interviews in the United States and elsewhere with Mr. Brooke to get the exact serious statements that caused the trouble, because I would like to challenge him today to state definitely what are the particular statements that have been made by Mr. Brooke which are considered unconstitutional, or likely to lead to unconstitutional acts? Secondly, he pointed out yesterday that Mr. Brooke and his father had claimed that they wished to be Rajahs. After having made inquiries from the solicitors and elsewhere, I can state categorically that at no time has Mr. Brooke or his father said that he wished to become the Rajah, or is working to that end in any way whatever. I also challenge the Colonial Secretary to state whether and when that claim was made.
The Colonial Secretary stated that dangerous telegrams had been sent in Sarawak. I do not know whether he means to Sarawak, but, if he does, I again categorically state that no telegram has been sent by Mr. Brooke or his father which can in any way enable the Colonial Secretary to prove that he intends to be the Rajah, or wants to be the Rajah, or says that he intends to be the Rajah. I know nothing about a telegram inside the country, but I am prepared to produce to the Colonial Office telegrams which either of these gentlemen have sent since the cession took place. Therefore, we find ourselves in the position that this man is allowed to go as far as Manila and then on to Hong Kong. No one seems to care about the expense involved, or where he goes in the next few weeks. Although he has never committed an unconstitutional act anywhere, he is told that he is not to be allowed to talk politics or to give any interviews to the Press. Not only is he told that that is not to happen in Sarawak, but that it is not to happen in Malaya or Hong Kong. The Colonial Office is sending out to all Colonial Governments all over the world a warning against this man as a sort of criminal type.
What has the young man done which is in the least bit criminal? Why should he not be allowed to speak on political 2366 matters and about what is going on in Sarawak? It is not so absolutely final that the Privy Council have ruled that the whole thing is in order. There are many who think that it is not. There are only 500,000 people in the country, and there are many groups, perhaps small ones, in Sarawak who strongly disapprove of what has happened, and who want, if possible, to have the order reversed. It is possible to have that done. Two days ago, the Colonial Secretary said that it would be possible to have the order reversed if it is wrong. That is part of the Constitution of this country. Why should not this man, who knows the country and who comes from the country, be allowed to go there and meet his friends, and debate and discuss with them the different points at issue? If the Colonial Secretary says that he is deliberately going to cause sedition and rioting, and so on, there may be a case for it, but I cannot see that he has any right to say that until the man makes the first step towards doing it. I cannot find any proof that he has ever said or done anything which really justifies the Colonial Secretary in taking away the rights of a perfectly ordinary British subject from going where he likes within the British Empire. There is nothing whatever against the man.
I end on that note. I think that it is a very gross injustice and something which has not happened in the past, and that it is most unfair that it should be allowed to happen at the present time. I believe that it must do an immense amount of harm in the United States, in Soviet Russia and in all our Colonies, especially in the Far East, if it is felt that this is the attitude of the present Colonial Secretary.
§ 12.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams (Croydon, South)
I should like to deal with the matters raised by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling), and, if possible, in the order in which he raised them. As the House knows, I had some slight connection with this matter of cession, and was actually present when the council, to which the hon. Member refers, met. In the first place, when I was in Sarawak, I got from the Library the diaries of the first Rajah in published form—a very rare edition. I read them while I was on my tour of the country, and I was interested to note that, time after time, the first Rajah expressed 2367 his urgent desire that the country should be handed over to the British Crown. He never intended to set up an Empire of his own. But, at that time, in 1841, the party who were in power were not so enlightened as the party in power in 1946, and they refused to take this territory from him.
In the second place, the first Rajah, James Brooke, obtained from the Sultan of Brunei, which is at the North of the territory, a small portion of land around the little town of Kuching, in the South. Before they had finished, the first and second Rajahs, partly by conquest and without any referendum from the people of the country, obtained almost the whole of the territory which had belonged to the Sultan of Brunei so that, today, the amount of territory the Sultan retains is, roughly, in the proportion of the Isle of Wight to the rest of England.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
No doubt it is a very important place, from the hon. Member's point of view I had forgotten that he was here. I was talking about it from a territorial point of view, of course, and not in any other sense. In a hundred years, the unfortunate Sultan of Brunei was pushed into a little corner of his own territory, and that was done without any referendum or any Parliamentary mission. It was done at one stage actually by an armed expedition, and the Sultan of Brunei was told that unless he gave a portion of the territory to the Brooke Rajah he would have his palace blown about his ears. Those are fighting words in any language. I am not saying they were wrong. It was not always wrong in the past to do that sort of thing, but I do say that if one Rajah can seize territory by those means another Rajah can give it up.
In the next place, at this council meeting which we have heard about this morning, when the territory was ceded to the British Crown, by no means were all the officials of one mind. Some officials were for cession and some were against it. The Roman Catholic priest, who was a member of the council, was for cession and voted for it. The Protestant padre was against cession and voted against it. There was a complete division between the Europeans on the council. They were, 2368 in many cases, more able than many of the Asiatic members to appreciate the issues involved, and I see no reason at all why these gentlemen cannot be regarded as having the fate and issues of the country at heart when they voted on that matter.
I saw Mr. Brooke on several occasions after I came back, and I tried to persuade him to drop this matter. I told him that I thought he was mistaken in holding himself out as a "young pretender," that it was much better to drop the question. I said that I did not think any good would come to Sarawak by proceeding with it, and I thought that it he did proceed with it he would live a life of misery. In my experience as a lawyer, I have seen many people in the position of Dickens' Miss Flite. Those who have read "Bleak House" will know the person to whom I am referring. Such people are always hoping for some legacy; they may have some justification for doing so, but they make a misery of their own lives and those of everyone else around them. I advised him to drop the matter, and at one time I thought he would do so. A few weeks ago he came to me and said that he intended to go back to Sarawak in order to see the position and assure himself that the people of the territory did want to remain under the present Government, that they were not anxious to go back or, at least, were acquiescent in the suggestion that they should not go back to the old system; and, furthermore, he wished to collect evidence in respect of the law suit which is impending. I understand that he informed the Colonial Office of this fact.
The next point which has been made is that the Colonial Office have no right to prevent him going there. If the Colonial Office believe that this gentleman's visit would result in disorder, they have not only the right, but the duty, to stop him. That is the point, and on that the matter turns. There is no doubt about that at all. The whole of the King's prerogative to raise forces or a militia, and the whole of the King's peace in this country, depend upon this right and duty of the King's Government to maintain order. We have always been very tender on this question of people who are likely to cause trouble, whether coming from outside or whether in the country itself. In the reign of Henry VIII—and remember that conditions in Sarawak now are very much 2369 as they were in England in the reign of Henry VIII—a squire, looking out of his window one day, saw one of the King's stags eating his—that is, the squire's— corn and, in a moment of justifiable irritation, the squire wished the stag, horns and all, in the King's belly. That was held to be high treason. It was said that if the stag, horns and all, were in the King's belly, the King would naturally die, and thus it was tantamount to wishing the King's death. He was accordingly hanged, drawn and quartered. We would not go as far as that nowadays, but it does show how tender we are on this question of treason or sedition, especially in circumstances as they were in the days of the Tudors. If George I and George II were entitled to keep the Old and the Young Pretender out, surely, His present Majesty is entitled to keep Mr. Anthony Brooke out. I do not see what the defence of habeas corpus, which was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) yesterday, has to do with it because, as the House knows, a writ of habeas corpus is issued to force the delivery up of someone who is in custody. It has nothing to do with a case in which a man is prevented from going into a territory. That is the law of England, I think hon. Members will agree.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Since the hon. Member is assuming agreement, may I for one say that I disagree with almost everything he says, particularly with his notion that it is a principle of the common law that if anybody intends to do something orderly and proper to which Ministers suppose there may be disorderly results, Ministers are entitled to prevent that person from doing what he intended.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, West)
Lest it should be assumed that silence indicates consent, may I say that there is the strongest opposition to that view? I am wondering whether, if my right hon. Friend considered there was anything wrong in my going to Northern Ireland, this law could also be applied in that case. I do not know where this matter is going to stop.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
Would the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) say whether there is any evidence of sedition in this case?
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I mentioned it by way of analogy. The point at which I was getting was that the very nature of a man's mission, or the fact that he himself is in some degree a "young pretender," might in itself lead to disorders. I am reinforced in my view of the law by the objection of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), because I feel that if he is against me I am on the right track. We have always exercised this power in the Colonies. I remember that in Singapore there were four ladies who answered an advertisement of a certain Eastern potentate, whose name I need not mention, for typists. Everyone knew that this gentleman did not need typists, and there was a great suspicion that he did not want those ladies for this purpose at all. These ladies were immediately taken into custody, as it were, and were bundled off on the next boat.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
No. One of the points which have been made is that one cannot prohibit a British subject from going to British territory. These were four British subjects who were prohibited from going to British territory and were packed off on the next boat. For one reason or another, in the Colonies we have often done that. In Sarawak, before we took it over, that was constantly done. There was in Sarawak a law called the Undesirable Persons Enactment. In April, 1936, Mr. MacBryan, whose name hon. Members will known, and who was secretary to the third Rajah, returned to Singapore to announce his intention of revisiting Sarawak. He was not then in the service of the Government. He was told that he would not be permitted to enter the State, but he was undeterred by this warning. On his arrival in Sarawak, he was detained and deported under the Undesirable Persons Enactment. The only reason this action was taken with regard to Mr. MacBryan, which is exactly the same action as we are now taking, is that it was thought he might inflame the native population. [Interruption.] They 2371 have said so. That was the reason given: they thought he might inflame the native population. If they thought Mr. MacBryan—who, after all, had no constitutional Connection, no hereditary connection with Sarawak, who was married to a Malay lady, and had perhaps some little influence with a section of the Malays—was undesirable and might make a fuss, how much more likely that Mr. Anthony Brooke would. If the practice of prohibiting people from coming in for this purpose was pursued by the Brookes, then my right hon. Friend is quite entitled to carry out the same practice.
I do not want to delay the House much longer. I would like to point out that at the moment Sarawak is, to some extent, in a disturbed state. It is not long since it has been recovered from the Japanese. Head hunting was resumed on a very large scale. On the Baram River alone 300 heads were taken at the end of the Japanese war. In the whole of Sarawak it is estimated that 1,500 heads have been taken, and not all Japanese heads. Once the Dyaks start head hunting they are apt to take any heads that come in their way, that is, when they really get going. As a matter of fact, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) and I were offered two heads when we were there.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
We had more consideration for constitutional propriety than that. There are no roads or railways in the country, and no troops in the country. If there was a great inflammatory movement in Sarawak it would take a good deal of putting down, because it is very difficulty country in which to operate. Therefore, with all these matters in my mind, my right hon. Friend has a great responsibility, and if he, with knowledge of these various matters, has acted as he has done I, for one, would not criticise him. I do not say I, myself, would have taken the same view of it, but I have not got all the facts. I might have been inclined to let Mr. Brooke in. However, my right hon. Friend has taken this view, and as he has all the facts, I support him. I think we ought always to support Ministers in 2372 cases of doubt who have this heavy responsibility. With regard to the last point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton, I think he has got something there, quite frankly. I think Mr. Brooke should have been told before he left this country that he would not be allowed in. I think it is rather unfair and unkind to him to let him get as far as Manila after going to the great expense involved, before stopping him. I hope, therefore, that perhaps some compensation might be paid him, that in some way or another he could have restitution for what is, I feel a departmental blunder so far as that particular aspect is concerned.
§ 12.34 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
I have the honour to know personally the Governor of Sarawak. In view of the confusion about him, and the statements made by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling), I feel it only proper to say to the House that he is a splendid Colonial servant of long standing, a man with a liberal outlook, whose administration in South Africa has been progressive. Any comparison between him and prewar German governors is grossly unfair and, in my judgment, ought not to have been made. That is really the only point I wish to make, except to say this. The blame for this muddle should rest fairly and squarely upon the Colonial Secretary. It is not surprising, because he has spent most of his life making trouble in the Colonies, and when a man turns from poacher to gamekeeper it is not always a success.
§ 12.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
I am very glad that this matter has been raised in the House. This, after all, does affect the liberty of the subject, and that is a matter in which Parliament always is and, historically, always has been, particularly conservative. I am sure hon. Members will appreciate that the importance of this matter goes far beyond the particular case which we happen to be discussing this morning, because whatever is done, creates a precedent for the future. Whatever arguments are used to justify this action can be used to justify further actions in the future. We may today be setting a precedent which I feel might have, for the future, a most disastrous effect upon our Colonial system. I need 2373 only refer to the speech of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams), and the arguments that he put forward to support the action which has been taken, to show into what a dangerous position we are getting. If it is said that if somebody thinks a man going there, who intends to behave quite correctly, intends to take every effort to observe constitutional decorum, may, because of his presence, cause disorder, it is perfectly right to stop his entry, I can only say that had that been applied rigorously by Colonial Governments before the war quite a number of people who today pose, or in fact are, experts on Colonial matters would never have been allowed to see a Colony at all.
I do not want to go over the history of this case, which was covered fully by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling). I want to refer to only one point, a point on which the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Croydon is in agreement. I simply cannot understand why, if the Colonial Office were going to take this view about Mr. Brooke's visit to Sarawak, he could not have been told that when he first let them know he intended to go there. We really cannot pretend that the Colonial Office did not know at the time that Mr. Brooke still called himself Rajah Muda, that Mr. Brooke still believed that the action of the Government had been wrong, and that he was still hoping, through the Privy Council, to get a reconsideration of the case. All that information was known when the Colonial Office heard of Mr. Brooke's desire to go to Sarawak, and they could have told him then that his entry would be forbidden. That would not have affected in the least the principle of the case we are discussing, but at any rate it would have saved that gentleman considerable inconvenience and expense. Of course, I do not for one moment challenge the legality of this action. I am perfectly certain no Colonial Governor— certainly not the Colonial Governor concerned in this case—would have acted in any manner that the law did not permit him to do.
I confess I am not quite so certain as to the legalities of the action taken elsewhere. For instance—this may not be true; perhaps the Secretary of State for the Colonies will tell us—when I read that not only is Mr. Anthony Brooke 2374 refused entry into Sarawak, but that he is also refused entry into Malaya—and no one is going to say he is a "Young Pretender" in Malaya—and that while he remains in Hong Kong, having nowhere else to go, he is kept incommunicado and not allowed to communicate with the Press, then I must ask under what law that is enforced, and how it is that a. British subject, in a British Colony, can be ordered to have no communication with the Press, and, presumably, to make no public statement. With regard to the refusal to allow entry into Sarawak, I do not challenge the legality, but I do challenge the justice and wisdom.
In the first place, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is going to make any charge that he has evidence that Mr. Brooke intended to act in an unconstitutional manner, and that he knew Mr. Brooke was going to Sarawak for the purpose of trying, by force, to subvert the existing Constitution. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman can say "Yes," then I certainly should say no more in the House on this matter. If the right hon. Gentleman says "Yes," if he makes that charge, it should be investigated, not in the House of Commons, but in the Old Bailey, and this man, against whom this grave accusation is made, should be put on trial before a jury of his own countrymen. But if the right hon. Gentleman cannot say that, he has no right to give sort of half hints and half statements. In his answer yesterday, he used these words:This attempt to subvert existing: authority ….The use of the word "subvert" has, in the minds of most people, a common meaning, and it is to overturn authority by some illegal means. At a subsequent stage in the proceedings yesterday, I interjected the word "constitutionally," and the right hon. Gentleman said:The assumption of the right hon. Gentleman is that all his proceedings are constitutional,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th Dec, 1946; vol. 431; cc. 2180–1.]That is my assumption. Is my assumption not right? Certainly, by using phrases in that way, the right hon. Gentleman gave the impression that my assumption was wrong and that, when I said Mr. Brooke was acting constitutionally, the right hon. Gentleman in, fact had evidence that that was not the case. If that is not the case, let us hear 2375 it. Let this charge either be made definitely today and the proper consequences taken through the Law Officers of the Crown, or let it be withdrawn and no more hints of that character given. If that charge is not to be justified, what is the reason why this man, against whose moral character no one can bring any imputation—and I rather object to the analogy drawn by the hon. Member for South Croydon between a case where four women were prevented from entering a territory because it was suspected they were going to be used for immoral purposes and the prevention of this perfectly respectable man who has been in the—
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
No one has greater admiration than I have for the moral character of Mr. Brooke. I was only saying that there have been many cases in our territories where people who were British subjects have, for one reason or the other, been either prevented from entering or, when they have entered, have been removed from the territory. That is the only point I made.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am obliged to the hon. Member. I quite accept that people have been prevented for one reason or the other; the reason the hon. Member referred to was the other reason. I want to refer to the reason in this case. What is the reason in this case, providing that no charge of unconstitutional methods is made? It is that Mr. Brooke takes a different view from the present Government as to the future of Sarawak, that he believes the people of Sarawak would be better off under the old regime than they will be under the new one, and that he hopes by perfectly constitutional methods to get the present Government to change the decision they took last year, to reverse the annexation and restore the ancient regime. The hon. Member said that he warned Mr. Brooke to drop that line because it was hopeless. That may be so. But is it wrong? Did the hon. Gentleman tell him that to hold those views was not only hopeless, and would make him unhappy, but was wrong, and would make him dishonest?
My answer is that I told him, first of all, that it was hopeless and that the territory having been ceded to the Crown, the Crown would not willingly give it up. Secondly, I said, 2376 "You will become a Miss Flite"—using the analogy of "Bleak House"—"and you will be unhappy for the rest of your life. It is better to cut adrift from it and to build up a new career without worrying about Sarawak."
§ Mr. Stanley
That may have been wise advice from the personal point of view. It may, indeed, be that Mr. Brooke is pursuing a hopeless quest. It may, indeed, be the result that he will be less happy than he would have been if he had settled down to this decision and had perhaps received some appointment in Sarawak. But the mere fact that it may make him unhappy does not necessarily make him wrong, and I believe it is perfectly legitimate for him to say that a mistake has been made and that he hopes, by constitutional methods, to get that mistake remedied. The House will remember that, as a result of pressure in the House, the whole decision to annex Sarawak finally depended upon the will of the people of Sarawak itself. The House showed conclusively that it was not prepared to accept merely a private arrangement between the late Rajah and the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor unless it could be convinced that that arrangement was in accordance with the will of the people. If it was then demonstrated that it was the will of the people that annexation should take place, is Mr. Brooke wholly wrong in thinking that, if, subsequently, the House should feel that the will of the people is that that decision should be reversed, the Government, desiring only in Sarawak, as elsewhere in the Colonies, to meet the will of the people for whom they are responsible, might thereby be influenced to reverse their decision? We were told there was a great threat to security in Mr. Brooke being allowed into Sarawak. How can there be? We have the words of the Secretary of State himself yesterday that the view of Mr. Anthony Brooke is voiced only bya small and unrepresentative minority of the people of Sarawak."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1946; Vol. 431, c. 2180.]If that is so, if it is such a tiny and unrepresentative minority, what harm is the presence of Mr. Brooke going to cause? How can one, therefore, foresee those great disorders which we were told would be the inevitable result? The mere fact of this refusal does cast doubts, at any rate in my mind, on the whole basis 2377 to which I and my hon. Friends agreed earlier in the year to the annexation of Sarawak. We believe that that should only take place if the will of the people was behind it. Although it was not clear beyond dubiety, we did accept both the decision of the Council, and the representations of two of our Members who went out there, as evidence that that was the will; but when I find that the Government dare not allow Mr. Brooke to go to Sarawak, I am doubtful if on that occasion we ever learned the truth, and whether, if he were to go there, the support behind him is not so great that it might demonstrate beyond doubt that the assumption on which we proceeded last spring was not correct.
I think it is a very great mistake of the Government to give this impression that they are afraid of having Mr. Brooke there, that they are afraid of public opinion being manifested in his favour. That they are afraid, therefore, that what they have assured the House on many occasions would be proved to be untrue. The fact is that I do not believe for one moment that the visit of Mr. Brooke to Sarawak would be dangerous to the local administration. What I do believe is that his visit would be inconvenient. All of us realise that there are certain circumstances in which the fundamental liberties of the individual have to be checked. They have to be sacrificed to the security of the State, they have to be sacrificed to the good of the greatest number, but the one thing that fundamental liberties ought not to be sacrificed to is administrative inconvenience. If this matter is allowed to go unchallenged, if people take the view of this particular case, "We do not particularly sympathise with Mr. Brooke's point of view, we think his quest is hopeless, we think that, on the whole, we had much better leave the people of Sarawak without the disturbing influence of a different point of view being put to them," if we accept that as a reason for excluding him from these territories, where do we end? It is no good pretending that this case, once passed, will not be used as a precedent. How can you blame any Governor, when he sees the action in a case of this kind, saying, "I am entitled to use those same powers in a case which may be strictly analogous?" There might be people, even Members of this House, who believe that it would be for 2378 the benefit of the inhabitants of a Colonial territory that they should be given independence, or that they should be given a new Constitution, both things to which His Majesty's Government and the local Governor were opposed. They might say of a man, "It is quite true that he will act constitutionally, that he will not try to raise the people by violent means against the Government. He is only going to try and raise public opinion in support of a perfectly constitutional proposal, but if we let him in he might create disorder, or disorder may result from his visit, and we must keep him out." That is a most dangerous precedent for this Government, and this House, to set.
I want to appeal most strongly to the Secretary of State in this matter. I appeal to him, because I know he accepts this as his responsibility, and not the responsibility of the Governor. I cannot believe that the Governor's action was taken without prior consultation with the Secretary of State. In any case a Governor in a difficult position, in an unpleasant climate, overworked, and harassed by many worries, cannot be expected to take the same view, to see the full implications of a step of this kind, as we are entitled to expect the Minister, sitting in London, to do. I know the temptation. I happened to be at the Colonial Office during the war, when we were in full possession of wartime powers. I know how convenient those powers were for administration—and by "convenient", I do not mean merely saving the troubles of officials in making the administration work smoothly. It is a terrible temptation to go on with these powers, to use them, but it is a temptation that must be resisted. It is perhaps peculiar that I should be pleading with the right hon. Gentleman to exercise these powers which have been given to him in a more liberal way. It might have been expected that the position would have been reversed. But I can assure the right hon. Gentleman—and we on this side have given evidence of it since this Government came into office—that we do not adopt, have not adopted, and will not adopt, any position of factious opposition on Colonial questions.
I am prepared to support the right hon. Gentleman in any proper action he takes to put down disorder and maintain security, because I and my hon. Friends believe, and Members opposite who really 2379 know and study Colonial affairs believe, that law, order and security are the prime pre-condition to any real advance among Colonial peoples. But I do not believe that it is by actions such as this that law and security will be maintained in dependent countries. I think we must demonstrate to them, and to the world, that we are a democratic country, trying to advance dependent territories by democratic means. One essential of advance by democratic means is not to prevent the free expression of opinions differing from the Government, provided they are made with due regard to legal obligations and the constitutional position.
I do not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of being a dictator. He is, if I may say so, not cast in the dictatorial mould. But if he looks through history, he will find that it is mistakes of the well-meaning which have paved the way for the success of those who mean ill. I plead with him to reverse this decision. If he does so, I do not believe that it will do any harm to Sarawak at all. I believe it will have a great effect in this country, throughout the Colonial Empire, and the rest of the world, and will be convincing proof that this Government and this Colonial Secretary are prepared to stand up to their own opinions, to argue their own case, to find their own support, and are not driven to attain their results by the' use of arbitrary powers which were never intended for an occasion such as this.
§ 12.56 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
I feel that the House is in a difficulty today in the spectacle that has been presented to it of the Conservative Party, in the first part of the morning, urging that the integrity of the British Empire should be preserved and, later, adding their weight to an increase of trouble for His Majesty's Government in their efforts to maintain good order in the British Empire. I want, first, to repudiate the suggestion by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) that I have had my wild moments in Colonial advocacy, when perhaps I might have been prevented from admission to a Colony, for declarations or statements I made, or action of which I may have been guilty. I also want to repudiate the malicious and libellous insinuation by the hon. Member for 2380 Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), that I have been guilty of making trouble in the Colonies, and that in this case I am poacher turned gamekeeper. It is a wicked insinuation. I have consistently and for many years fought for justice in Colonial administration—[HON. MEMBERS: "Do it now."]—and I have done my best to build up a better standard of living, better economic opportunities, and wider political freedom for the people in our Colonies. I do not in any way retreat from that course.
§ Sir Ian Fraser
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me one comment? I do not know that either poachers or gamekeepers are necessarily worse people; they compare favourably with the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
At least, the hon. Gentleman might have had the decency to withdraw his lying insinuation.
§ Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite (Holderness)
Is it in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to accuse an hon. Member of a lying insinuation?
§ Hon. Members: Withdraw.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
On a point of Order. Whether or not we really care twopence about the substantive part, do we not make complete nonsense of all Debate, and empty all words of their meaning, if we allow a right hon. Gentleman to withdraw a word, without withdrawing its content?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
A serious accusation has been made against me by an hon. Member. I repudiate completely that insinuation, and, therefore, I am not withdrawing the content of the word, which—
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the position is this. While the right hon. Gentleman used those words, what he wanted to do was to repudiate entirely the statement made by the hon. Member and that, of course, is perfectly in Order.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
Surely, Mr. Speaker, you have laid it down that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw?
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman has stated perfectly clearly that he has repudiated what the hon. Member said. I think he put it the wrong way round, when he said the word "lying" was wrong and that he did not withdraw. I think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman has put it right now, by saying that he repudiates entirely what the hon. Member said.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Perhaps I can get on.—[Interruption.]—Well, you should not make these statements.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I want to make my position perfectly clear in regard to this matter, because, again, it seems to me that the Tory Party must be pretty hard pressed if they are trying to make political capital out of this affair.
§ Captain Delargy (Manchester, Platting)
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? I would like to make it perfectly clear, since I may not have an opportunity of speaking in the Debate, that the right hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong in this. The Tories are not alone in protesting against the action taken over the entry of this man into Sarawak. There are many people on this side of the House who wish to protest just as strongly.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Well, perhaps we can get on. I do want, as I have said, to put the position of the Government in this matter. It was not the Government that asked for the cession of Sarawak. If I recollect aright, there were representations by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, when he was Minister, that the Foreign Jurisdiction Act should be made to operate in this Colony. We now find him tending to champion the particular individual who, at that time, created the greatest difficulties for him in trying to obtain the results he wanted.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am not championing a particular individual. As a matter of fact, I supported the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor last spring in this action, but the mere fact that I do not support this individual, or, necessarily, consider all his conduct right, does not prevent the matter of principle being raised. If the right hon. Gentleman would deal with the matter of principle, instead of throwing about all kinds of insinuations against hon. Members on this side, we and the country would be much better pleased.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
There is no need for the right hon. Gentleman to be so touchy about this. I am merely stating a fact, and that is that, when he was at the Colonial Office, he did seek to bring Sarawak under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act. There is no occasion for heat about the point. I merely stated the fact in order that the background of the right hon. Gentleman's argument should be understood. I am not making any accusations. I am merely saying that the transfer of Sarawak was determined this year, and that it was done only after a Commission of this House had gone to Sarawak, to discover the feeling of the people there. It recommended that, in all the circumstances, the cession should be conceded.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I do not want the House to be misled. We did not actually recommend anything of the kind.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
It is not my recollection that it was what the hon. Gentleman describes as a Commission of this House. I do not think that is an accurate description.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
The hon. Member always carries on a commentary while I am speaking. Whatever the delegation may be called—Parliamentary mission or commission—we went out there, and what we actually decided was that there was enough acquiescence or favourable opinion in the country, so far as we could judge, to allow the matter to go to the State Council. If we had found that there was no opinion for it, we would have advised the Secretary of State that it was no good sending this matter to the Council, because, whatever the Council decided, it cannot represent the opinion of the country. That, I think, was a very fair statement for us to make.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I thank my hon. Friend for his amplification of the point 2383 I was trying to make. It was perhaps a mission, rather than a commission, which went out to inquire into this matter. The cession was also decided constitutionally in Sarawak itself by the appropriate Councils. All excuses may be used as to the State Council, but the fact was that this was a constitutional decision by certain courts, which were established in accordance with the recognised Constitution of Sarawak. It is quite irrelevant for hon. Members to argue that, because certain Europeans were present or took part in the proceedings of those Councils, those proceedings should have been set on one side. If they had been set on one side, we should then have had to face a charge of not employing the proper constitutional method for ascertaining the position. Furthermore, it was generally recognised in Sarawak afterwards that the decision should stand, and the matter has never been seriously challenged in this House. The transfer of Sarawak has been generally accepted by the British Parliament, and it was accepted only this year. I do suggest that, in the circumstances of the Colony, it is reasonable that a period of stability should now be permitted in order that the necessary development and reconstruc- should go forward.
§ Mr. Teeling
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if we were, at any time, allowed a Debate on this matter, or if it was even suggested?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The Opposition had perfect freedom to demand a Debate or to make representations through official channels. In any case, hon. Members had the opportunity, certainly on the Motion for the Adjournment, of challenging the decision which the Government took.
§ Mr. Teeling
I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that, for something like four months, I have been trying to get the Adjournment on Sarawak, but without any success.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
May I say that this matter could also have been raised on a Supply Day on the Colonial Office Vote, but that it certainly was not? The point I am trying to make, however, is that the decision was taken with the general accord of the House, and also with the broad agreement of the people in Sarawak. Since then, because this terri- 2384 tory had passed through a great deal of disturbance on account of the Japanese invasion, our anxiety has been that conditions should be restored in which a good life could be built up and the Colony go forward. At the time of the cession the Brooke family had their opportunity of putting their view to the people of Sarawak. Indeed, a member of the Brooke family went out before the Councils took their final decision. They were represented there, they were permitted freely to influence public opinion, and, if the decision went against them, it was not their fault but rather it was the decision of the Sarawak people and the agreement of this House. Today there are no very large pockets of opposition, although there are one or two organisations which have been trying to spread their propaganda in various parts of Sarawak. There is a Malayan organisation as well as a small organisation of Dyaks, but despite their work they have not been able to create a broad body of feeling in opposition to the policy which was decided during the past year.
The present Government, like all Governments, have a very definite moral responsibility which they must discharge on behalf of the peoples concerned. Many of the people of Sarawak are in a somewhat primitive condition. They are often the prey of ugly rumour and they have not reached particularly high social standards as yet. Consequently, it is important, after the tragedy of war, that the fullest opportunity should be allowed for the people to have settled and orderly government, the proper development of their territory, more education, better health, and all those services which can be rendered. It was because the Rajah felt that with the limitations of his own Government the progress of the people could not be achieved that he ventured to offer Sarawak to the British Crown and asked that His Majesty should take over jurisdiction in order that the necessary conditions of development might be attained. Meanwhile, an agitation has been kept up by Mr. Anthony Brooke in this country and also in Sarawak itself. He has sent messages in which he has inspired agitation and opposition to the cession. He has looked forward to the time when the restoration of the Brooke family would be brought about, and has been, to some extent, behind certain of the agita- 2385 tions and actions which have been troublesome, sometimes intimidating, and certainly of a very disturbing kind.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question which is most important? Does he say that any of these acts or agitations was illegal? He has spoken of insinuations but he himself has made statements full of insinuations against this gentleman. Does he or does he not say that any of these acts or agitations was illegal?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
If the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to proceed with my argument, perhaps some of these questions may be answered. [HON. MEMBERS: "Perhaps."] I repeat that over a period there has been considerable agitation by certain groups.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I said "certain agitations": I am not determining at this stage whether legal or illegal. But there have been certain agitations and they have been, to some extent, inspired by the messages which have gone to Sarawak from Mr. Anthony Brooke.
§ Mr. Stanley
The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of agitations. Have these agitations been the subject of criminal proceedings, or were they perfectly legal agitations such as meetings in the country of which we partake here? It is an important point.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The point is quite irrelevant at this stage. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I repeat that it is quite irrelevant. I am saying that there have been agitations—I have not said whether they are legal or illegal—inspired by Mr. Anthony Brooke. I do not think that anyone can deny that. There is ample evidence in this propaganda that in Sarawak itself the methods of intimidation have been employed and have resulted in difficulties and disturbances which have been extremely confusing to the local population. As I said earlier, we have a very real responsibility with regard to the peaceful and orderly development of the people of Sarawak. It is an obligation we cannot escape and it was important, therefore, when it came to our knowledge that Mr. Anthony Brooke was proposing to pay his visit to Sarawak, that we should ascertain from 2386 the Governor what was likely to be the effect of Mr. Brooke coming into the territory. Let me say here that the Governor is a very enlightened and progressive man. He is not a Blimp, but belongs to the younger generation of Colonial servants. His record of service is one which indicates a deep sense of responsibility and a very forward mind.
He made it clear to us that the presence of Anthony Brooke would have a very disturbing effect in the Colony. He said that the majority of the indigenous peoples are easily misled by false reports, that fears are readily engendered among them, that quite half the population are primitive people, and that if agitations and propaganda were pursued there was risk of violence in their settling of the disputes aggravated by long periods of Japanese occupation, and that lawlessness would undoubtedly result.
There is the point that the presence of one of the Brookes would probably lead to a definite threat to peace and good order. If we in London have responsibility for our Colonial territories, we cannot set lightly on one side the views and advice of the Governor of the territory. Regard had to be had also to the views expressed by the Governor-General. He was of the same view as the Governor that the arrival of Mr. Brooke would stimulate a great deal of difficulty which, in the long run, would probably result in disturbance and possibly resort to violence. These people arc inflammable and primitive. War came into the territory, and the effects have been described by my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams). There is no doubt that active propaganda would produce bloodshed and disorder among these people Therefore, with that background, to talk of constitutional agitation is really making words meaningless. The kind of propaganda engaged in by Anthony Brooke undoubtedly would have inflamed and confused the good working which we are anxious to promote. I want also to add that the decision to ban Mr. Brooke was the decision of the Governor, taken in consultation with the Governor-General and in consultation with the Government in London.
Why was the decision not conveyed to Mr. Anthony Brooke? The fact was that when Mr. Anthony Brooke applied for priority, it was pointed out 2387 that he had said that he wanted to collect material for a libel case, and that these grounds did not entitle him to a priority passage. In the statements made by Mr. Brooke to the British and to the American Press, and even the recent statement which was made by his solicitor, there is no reference at all to his seeking to go to Sarawak to collect evidence for impending legislation. He declared clearly what his intentions were, and what was the purpose of his visit, in the Press interviews, and it is also clear in the telegrams that he sent that he wished to collect evidence as stated when he applied for a priority passage, he subsequently declared his intentions in visiting Sarawak in quite different terms, both in the British Press and in the American Press.
Why did Mr. Anthony Brooke seek to go there? To judge from the statement he made, it was clear that he wants to terminate His Majesty's authority within Sarawak. Further, he wishes to revise cession and to restore the Raj. He goes to Sarawak with the object of deposing His Majesty from sovereignty and reinstituting the Raj. He goes there to enlarge the opposition to His Majesty's Government in order to achieve that purpose. His presence there is likely to lead to disorder. With an inflammatory population, that is a very grave risk for a Government to take. This is not the employment of normal constitutional ways with a people who can be easily misled. His activities were likely to prove of a seditious character.
§ Mr. Stanley
When the hon. Gentleman says that this action was likely to prove of a seditious character, does he mean the action of Mr. Anthony Brooke? We really must get this point clear. Is there any charge against Mr. Brooke that he wanted to do anything except what was perfectly constitutional? When the right hon. Gentleman talks about deposing the sovereign, is that an allegation against Mr. Brooke that he went to subvert the Constitution of that country? Surely we are entitled to say that the decision taken last spring was wrong and that it would be better for Parliament to reverse it. Surely there is nothing illegal about that?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
It is one thing to carry on an agitation of that kind in this country and another thing to inflame a primitive population into opposition to established order in Sarawak. If it was 2388 desirable that the Constitution should be changed in Sarawak, the place for that agitation is in this country. It is not a fit and right thing that when a decision has been taken constitutionally, and approved by Parliament within the past year, and generally accepted by the people of Sarawak that the King's jurisdiction should run, that an agitation should be started amongst these people which must inevitably lead to violence. It is largely on those grounds that the Government feel, and the Governor felt, that it was most undesirable, in view of the responsibilities and obligation we have to discharge to the colonial people concerned, that this person should be permitted to enter the territory to conduct an agitation which could only have one result. Suppose he had been admitted and that he had carried on his propaganda. There would have been only one course open to the Government—to deport this gentleman. It would have created, in the existing circumstances in Sarawak, a very considerable feeling and agitation among the people, and undoubtedly a clash and disturbance in the territory. It was far better, rather than that events of that kind should happen, that steps should be taken to prohibit this gentleman's entry into the territory. He was not told before he went, because none of us knew the date he was likely to go. Discussion took place about the possible departure but no decision was reached, or could have been reached, until after the Colonial Office was informed that Mr. Anthony Brooke had left the country.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
We had no knowledge that he had gone. Indeed, I got my first knowledge of it from a newspaper. There was no prior knowledge from Mr. Brooke's solicitor or from Mr. Brooke himself, giving us information that he was leaving. If we had had an opportunity, there is not the slightest doubt that the decision taken by the Governor would at the time it was taken have been given to him. If we had an opportunity, and had known that this eventuality would arise, we should have taken it, but Mr. Brooke disappeared. He was in America before any of us knew anything about it. We could not act before he left.
§ Mr. Teeling
Has the Minister forgotten that in the letter of 6th November Mr. 2389 Brooke said he wished to leave before the end of November?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That is perfectly true, but, as we understood the position, there would be very considerable difficulty in his making the journey. He did finally go across to America. He crossed to the Pacific. It certainly had not occurred to anyone that that would be his likely course. There was no opportunity or time to convey to Mr. Brooke that if he set out on his travels this decision would operate.
§ Mr. Stanley
I really do not understand this position. Mr. Brooke did inform the Colonial Office on 6th November that he wanted to go to Sarawak as soon as he could. As soon as the Colonial Office came to the decision that he was not to be admitted—we have not yet been told when that was—what prevented them from communicating that decision to Mr. Brooke? What was there to wait for? After all, they had refused to give Mr. Brooke any facilities. There was no reason to anticipate that he would approach them again, and as soon as they had taken the decision that he was not to be allowed in, knowing he wanted to go, it was the duty of the Colonial Office to communicate that decision to him at once.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
But as the right hon. Gentleman knows, from his long experience inside the Colonial Office, there is frequently, before a decision of any kind is taken, either in the Colony or in the Colonial Office or by His Majesty's Government, all kinds of discussion with the respective parties and interests. In this case, before any final decision was taken in the matter, Mr. Brooke had left the country. It is no indication of inefficiency on the part of the Colonial Office, nor did it arise from any muddle.
I have tried to indicate what was the situation in which the Government found itself in dealing with this matter. This view, I would remind the House, is also shared by the reliable press in the vicinity of Sarawak and in Sarawak itself. For instance, the "Sarawak Times," in its article several days ago, said this:First, second and third Rajahs governed by methods and according to principles that were most obvious in special circumstances of their respective periods, but times change, and men and institutions change, likewise 2390 the act of cession was a natural but inevitable step on the road to a full life for an advancing people.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
In the "Sarawak Times," which is published in Kuching. If the hon. Gentleman wants another quotation he can have it from the "Straits Times." The truth of the matter is, of course, that the fundamental issue in this matter is that Brooke is a pretender to the Raj.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
If he were an alien, nobody would suggest that he should be allowed to go to Sarawak to subvert His Majesty's authority. The fact that he is a British subject does not alter this fundamental fact; if anything it increases the irresponsibility of his activities. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That he is a completely irresponsible person is perfectly clear from the recent history of this gentleman in the government of Sarawak itself. I think he has been deposed no less than three times from the job he was doing. He has not shown—
§ Mr. Beechman (St. Ives)
I do not want to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but he ought to tell the House that it is a feature of the history of Sarawak that there should be these constant depositions of the heir apparent and his heir by the reigning Rajah, as the reigning Rajah seems to think his time is coming to an end.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Yes, but that is precisely what I am saying, that in this particular case he was deposed no less than three times.
§ Mr. Stanley
The right hon. Gentleman is making very serious accusations. Surely it is equally possible that the depositions may have been due to the irresponsibility of the Rajah? Before this man is to be called irresponsible, we ought to hear a little more than that he was deposed three times by a Rajah— whose responsibility nobody has ever exaggerated—once because he accused the Rajah of improperly handing out a new Constitution.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That is an extraordinary interruption from the right hon. Gentleman. If I recollect aright, because 2391 of his personal difficulties and his negotiations with the Rajah Muda, that is, with Anthony Brooke, he appealed to the Rajah to intervene in the discussions. Also no one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that when in 1941 some effort was being made to get a liberal form of Constitution in Sarawak—or a little more liberal than it was before—the mainspring of opposition came from Mr. Anthony Brooke.
§ Mr. Stanley
The right Gentleman said —[HON MEMBERS: "Order."] No, the right hon. Gentleman has referred to me. He said that nobody knows better. The right hon. Gentleman also knows better about that Constitution in 1941, and the less we say about the circumstances under which that Constitution was introduced, the better. If not, his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Reid) will tell him.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The fact is, however, that in the efforts to get a more liberal element in the Constitution, the opposition came from this irresponsible young man. The Rajah himself said in his statements to his councils:You may be asking why nephew Anthony Brooke, who was formally proclaimed Rajah Muda, should not succeed me as Rajah. My answer is that I have no confidence that he will be a good ruler. I have given him three chances to prove his worth and he has failed.All my experience in the Colonial Office confirms the irresponsibility of this person, and I point that out because, if we are vitally concerned about the progress of Sarawak, we have perforce to pay some regard to his possibly irresponsible actions when this man arrives in the Colony. I rest my case on the fact that this Government has very definite responsibilities to the Sarawak people. A decision was taken during this year that it would be fatal at this moment to confuse the Sarawak public again, when the great work of rehabilitating the country, of restoring order, of getting social services running, must at once be taken in hand. It was because, from his own pronouncements, he intended to extend his authority to inspire the agitation in order to upset the authority of His Majesty, that the Government felt obliged to accept the advice of the Governor that, in all the circumstances, Anthony Brooke should not be allowed to go into the country.