§ 3.34 P.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. George Hall)
I am very pleased that an opportunity has been found for a Parliamentary day devoted to a discussion of the problems of the Colonial Empire. During the past six years my predecessors, in the course of their annual statements, dealt mainly with the work of the Colonies in war. Very heavy war responsibilities had to be carried by the Colonial territories, some of which were in enemy occupation; and it fell to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), and others, to inform the House of how the Colonial peoples, and their administrations, were standing up to the strain of war, and 238 what contribution they were making in men, money and material, to the Allied war effort. I cannot leave the Colonial war effort without paying a further warm tribute to the gallant efforts made by oar Colonial peoples during that great struggle. Half a million men of the Colonial Empire served in the Armed Forces. In Malta, Malaya and other territories, the whole population had to bear either the weight of enemy attack, or enemy occupation. They did so with great courage and unflinching determination. Only recently the contingents from all Colonial territories joined the Victory mart h in London, and Members of this House and millions of others of our 'fellow countrymen and women were able to see the representatives of a fine body of men and women, who gave such. valiant service to the Empire, and to pay them their well-deserved tribute.
In this, the first peacetime statement on Colonial policy since the Election, I think I should state the policy of the party which is now the Government of this country. I can say without hesitation that it is our policy to develop the Colonies and all their resources so as to enable their peoples speedily and substantially to improve their economic and social conditions, and, as soon as may be practicable, to attain responsible self-government. To my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee, the idea of one people dominating or exploiting another is always repugnant. It is not domination that we seek. Nor on the other hand, is it our intention in any way to abandon peoples who have come to depend on us for their defence, security, development and welfare. To us the Colonies are a great trust, and their progress to self-government is a goal towards which His Majesty's Government will assist them with all means in their power. They shall go as fast as they show themselves capable of going.
I would that this policy were better known and better understood. We would then hear much less criticism at home and abroad of what, in some quarters, is still stigmatised as British Imperialism. I know that the policy which I have just enunciated is wholeheartedly endorsed by the great mass of public opinion in this country. When the present Government took office there was, as it can be understood, an accumulation of matters demanding action. Some had been put aside during the war because emergency 239 conditions made action impossible. Decision on others, on which much preparatory work had been completed, was rightly deferred during the last months of the Coalition. On top of this accumulation came the surrender of Japan, which brought further problems in the Far East. The result has been that an immense amount of work has been carried through, partly covering old problems but mainly concerned with new ones.
I readily and thankfully acknowledge to the Committee how much I have been assisted in this task by the work of my predecessor the right hon. Member for West Bristol, who, while at the Colonial Office, gave much thought and did much careful planning for the future, and laid the foundations of much of the work which has been carried out in the Colonies during last year. But, as will be appreciated, I find that the planning is sometimes much easier to do than carrying out the job. For all that, I am sure I express the opinion of the Colonial people when I say that they are not unmindful of the services of the right hon. Gentleman.
As in this country, the immediate problems confronting the Colonies are those of demobilisation, reconstruction and resettlement of Colonial Forces, repatriation of prisoners of war, and the restoration of the damage done by the war itself. Of the half a million Colonial troops who served in the Forces during the war, 360,000 came from our East and West African territories, and perhaps I might take them as an example of what is happening in their resettlement. During the war they came under the direct control of the three Service Departments, and their demobilisation has been the responsibility of these Departments working in collaboration with the Colonial Governments. In spite of the shortage of troop transports, over 70 per cent. of the African troops who served overseas have been repatriated. More are on their way home and it is hoped to complete repatriation by the autumn.
I found by personal contact during my visit to West Africa that the great desire of most Colonial ex-Servicemen—and in this I do not suppose they differ from ex-Servicemen the world over—was to get back to their own families and villages and take up their old life. As most of the recruits came from the land, their 240 desire was to get back to their farms. In many respects this made the task of the Colonial Governments easier, and the development of agriculture and schemes of agricultural training are some of the main features of all the programmes submitted under the Development and Welfare Act. For those who will not return to the land, the African Governments have industrial training schemes and it is hoped to be able to absorb them into industry without any serious degree of unemployment. Though there have been difficulties and delays due to the lack of supervisory staff and materials, I am satisfied that on the whole resettlement is going well. At the same time as demobilisation is proceeding, strenuous efforts are being made to repair the material damage done by the war.
Reconstruction and development is the aspect of the work of the Colonial Office during the last 12 months upon which I would like to lay particular emphasis. Let me take political development first. As already stated, every endeavour is being made to accelerate progress towards self-government. Since the Government took office, new constitutions have been introduced in a number of Colonies and some major constitutional reforms have been inaugurated. The initiative had in some cases been taken by previous Governments, but we have made some important modifications and opened some new ground. There are very few Colonies where there have not been constitutional changes of one kind or another during the last 12 months. I think the fact that we have been able to hasten on the growth of responsible self-government and the establishment of political institutions based on popular control is an earnest of our desire for political progress in the Colonies. A uniform rate of progress in all Colonies is impossible. They contain a large variety of peoples at various stages of development, so that there is no magic formula by which they can be brought in regular procession to self-government. We, therefore, have had to consider special needs of individual territories or of groups of territories, and to make separate plans for each. The range of constitutional progress which has been made is too wide for me to describe in detail now.
I would, however, like to give the Committee one or two examples of progress in Colonies in which hon. Members are particularly interested. The Committee 241 will recall that last October I made known the decisions of His Majesty's Government on the recommendations of the Soul-bury Commission for a new constitution in Ceylon. These decisions had a good reception in the island, and Ceylon has now been granted a new Constitution which affords her complete self-government in internal affairs, with matters relating to defence and external affairs only reserved to His Majesty's Government. This means the introduction of a Parliamentary system with Cabinet responsibility based on the British model.
I will say a word about Malaya. His Majesty's Government, while fully convinced of the essential rightness of their Malayan policy, which is designed to lay the foundations for ultimate self-government in a united and prosperous Malaya, are very desirous that progress should be made in agreement with all sections of opinion in that country. I have carefully considered the position in the light of the reports I have received from Malaya, and with my authority 'several proposals have been put forward, which have been designed to meet Malay feelings. Early in June, the Governor-General and the Governor of the Malayan Union met their Highnesses the Malay Sultans for preliminary discussions on this subject. They had already met representatives of the Union. There have since been further informal discussions of an exploratory character, but no conclusions have yet been reached, and for the present I have nothing further to say. I hope that the local discussions will be continued at an early date, and in view of this fact I very much hope that the Committee will not press me now for a statement which might create difficulties for those conducting the discussions. I am sure that hon. and right hon. Members are as desirous as I am that we should achieve an early and happy settlement in Malaya.
In the case of Sarawak, we are continuing for the time being the 1941 constitution. Some minor modifications have been made, mainly purely mechanical, on account of the change of the status of the territory. But it is, however, by no means certain that this constitution, which was set up in 1941 in circumstances far different from those of today, is the most appropriate for Sarawak now. I propose, therefore, to ask the new Governor to go very fully into this question on the spot with leading representa 242 tives of the people and others concerned, and to let me have as soon as he can do so his recommendations for revising the constitution, with a view to the fullest association of the people with the Government and administration of the territory on the broadest basis that present conditions permit. In this way it is hoped to achieve the maximum progressive constitutional and economic development in that territory.
The position in respect of North Borneo is somewhat similar, except that in the case of this territory we propose, during the interim period, to set up an Advisory Council with unofficial representatives nominated by the Governor I hope that it may be possible to arrange for the Advisory Council to be rather more representative in character than was the Legislative Council. I can assure the Committee that there will be full consideration and consultation with all the interests concerned before final decisions are taken on the future constitutions of these territories.
It is in Africa that the field for political advancement is greatest. There is concentrated the largest area of our Colonial Empire and the largest number of our Colonial peoples. Political development in the African Colonies is proceeding as rapidly as circumstances permit. In the Gold Coast, for instance, an unofficial majority is now elected to the Legislative Council, and in Nigeria a new constitution has been approved which secures a measure of genuine political unity, whilst allowing for the diversity of the peoples and the varying forms of traditional government. In East and Central Africa, there has been an increase in the direct representation of Africans on the Legislative Councils of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. A particularly noteworthy advance has taken place in Buganda, the most important African state in Uganda, where 31 of the 89 members of the Native Assembly are now elected from the people themselves. In Tanganyika, two Africans already serve on the Legislative Council, and provision has been made for more. Kenya has one African member who has served with distinction, and a second has been temporarily serving in the absence of the nominated European representative of African interests. In both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, African Provin 243 cial Councils are now in being. These are advisory bodies which include tribal chiefs, native authority councillors and other representatives of Africans. The experiment has been a great success. It has broadened the interests of the Africans themselves in their own progress and has kindled a spirit of co-operation between all sections of Africans, whether old or young, traditional or educated, urban or rural. In both these territories, a further important development is taking place. An African Council has been set up in Nyasaland for the whole Protectorate, with delegates drawn from the provincial councils; and a similar central council is about to be created in Northern Rhodesia. When these councils have been securely established, my intention is that members from them will be selected to sit on the Legislative Councils of the two territories. Thus, throughout Africa, constitutional developments are proceeding alongside the great extension of responsibility and interest by Africans in local government and in native administrative services. Everywhere there are signs of awakening political consciousness amongst Africans as the opportunities for service in administration, in technical fields, on advisory boards and on the work of development, continue to expand.
In the West Indies, a Bill to extend the secret ballot to all the out islands of the Bahamas is being considered by the Legislature. A considerable reduction was made last year in the property and income qualifications for membership of the British Guiana Legislative Council, which now has an unofficial majority. British Honduras now also enjoys a large unofficial majority on its Legislature; and, in Trinidad, property and income qualifications for members of the Legislative Council have been much reduced and the first elections under universal adult suffrage have taken place.
In pursuance of the undertaking given in 1943 to restore responsible government in Malta, a National Assembly, drawn from various representative groups in the island, has been at work to consider the framing of a constitution within the terms of that promise. To facilitate the preparation of the new constitution, His Majesty's Government have recently sent to the island a Commissioner to go into all relevant matters with the Maltese representatives. An essential feature of 244 the negotiations is the question of finance, which, in view of the extent of the damage done to the island by the enemy, presents many complex issues. In order to obtain an expert analysis of these matters, Sir Wilfrid Woods was appointed last year as a Financial Commissioner to visit the island and, after due consultation, to report upon the financial problem. This report has recently been published and has formed a most valuable basis for discussion in the island. The Maltese National Assembly naturally wish for information as to His Majesty's Government's decision before they feel able to reach their final conclusions on the subject of the restoration of responsible government.
His Majesty's Government have given much consideration to this matter and have been anxious to arrive at a settlement which, in so far as the difficulties of their own financial position allow, will generously mark their recognition of Maltese needs. A full account of their decisions would occupy too much of the time of the Committee, and I have therefore arranged for the publication of a detailed statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow. For the moment, it will be sufficient for me to say that the financial assistance proposed for Malta, for which the approval of the House will in due course be sought, falls under two heads. In the first place, in fulfilment of the assurance given in this House on 10th November, 1942, His Majesty's Government are prepared to make a further grant of £20 million from United Kingdom funds to supplement the free gift of £10 million made then for the restoration of war damage and the rebuilding of Malta. This additional grant, which, with the former grant and the interest earned on it, will bring the total sum made available for restoration of war damage and reconstruction in Malta to over £31,000,000, will be constituted a charge on the Consolidated Fund. In the second place, it is intended to introduce legislation to enable Malta, after the introduction of responsible Government, to continue to benefit under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. Subject to that provision being passed by Parliament, I propose to allocate to Malta a sum of £1,000,000; the Colony would also, of course, receive its share of the benefit from centrally controlled schemes. Certain immediate and temporary help can also 245 be promised in the matter of a grant-in-aid for the next financial year and assistance towards meeting the cost of commodity subsidies. I trust that these decisions will find acceptance here and in Malta, as affording an assurance that the new constitution shall not be unduly handicapped by the financial burdens thrown on this small community by its gallant part in the war.
I think I have given the Committee in these examples a fairly clear idea of the kind of constitutional development which we are carrying out in the individual territories of the Colonial Empire. A word about regional association. I would like to make it clear that this form of association need not, and, indeed, in some cases, cannot, go so far as political federation. For the three mainland East African territories, for example, proposals have been made to broaden the basis of cooperation for common services, such as communications, transport, customs, and so on, a basis which already exists in the East African Governors' Conference. The Committee will be aware, from the details published last December, that these proposals fall far short of federation or union. They are designed solely to help the three territories to coordinate action on these matters to associate non-Government representatives more closely with the management of common services and to provide an effective means of enacting common legislation where this is required. As the proposals are still under discussion in East Africa, the Committee will not expect me to comment further on them at this stage. I will say, however, that it is becoming more and more urgent to set up some effective machinery for coordination between these three East African territories.
Then there is the West African Council, at the first meeting of which I presided on the Gold Coast last January. That meeting was well worth while, not only for the opportunity which it provided for the four West African Governors and the senior Service representatives to discuss many common problems, but also because of the direct contact which it enabled me to make with these four important colonies. During my visit, I met most of the members, unofficial and official, of the four legislative councils as well as representatives of the municipalities and of the Press, and I heard 246 their hopes and their criticisms at first hand. Some of their views I could riot accept, and I told them quite frankly where I thought they were wrong. They may have been disappointed, but I think that they all welcomed the opportunity of full and free discussion which my visit provided. The Council will have a permanent office in West Africa, and I have recently appointed Sir Gerald Creasy, a very able Assistant Under-Secretary of State in the Colonial Office, as its first Chief Secretary.
There was one step towards political union which I must mention. I refer to the Windward and Leeward Islands. In a despatch published in March of this year, I set out for the consideration of the local governments and peoples of these two groups of islands, proposals for closer political union. I trust that will be brought about.
The question of the form of federation of the West Indian Colonies is also under consideration, and if, as seems likely, the majority declare themselves in favour of the principle of federation, I contemplate, later, a conference of delegates from those colonies to formulate detailed proposals.
I now come to the field of international cooperation in Colonial affairs. I find it difficult to exaggerate the importance I attach to this. In the past, the existence of, or the desire for, colonies has often been the cause of war. Today, ignorance of what is happening in Colonial territories still produces suspicion among nations. I welcome any move which can bring other democratic countries to a closer understanding of colonial peoples and, indeed, of Colonial problems. The Committee will recall the setting up, in March, 1942, by joint action of the United Kingdom and United States Governments, of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission. The purpose of this Commission, a purely advisory body, was to facilitate social and economic cooperation between the British and American territories in the Caribbean area. The Commission was subsequently expanded by the inclusion of additional members on each side, thereby allowing scope for the appointment last year of two British West Indian unofficials on the British team, At the end of last year, the French and Netherlands Governments agreed to enter the Commission as full members.
247 Out of this Commission a permanent advisory West Indian Conference has arisen which includes members from all Caribbean dependencies of these four countries. The Commission has also arranged for cooperation on research, and the Caribbean Research Council has been set up. It was recommended at the last West Indian Conference that an International Secretariat should be set up in the Caribbean area as soon as possible to serve both the Conference and the Commission.
Another piece of machinery for regional cooperation was recently agreed to between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand at the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. It has been decided to call a conference in the near future to set up a regional organisation in the South Pacific for the purpose of exchanging views and information en technical and economic subjects. The exchange of colonial officers in training is also being considered. This regional collaboration has been followed by direct contact with three of the major Colonial Powers—the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. A series of conferences has been held with representatives of the French Ministry of Overseas France, with whom we are now in direct liaison, and, more recently, with representatives of the Belgian Colonial Office. We hope to widen the field later by similar liaison with other Colonial Powers. The first Anglo-French Conference was held in London last November and the first Anglo-Belgian Conference a few weeks ago. Several more detailed conferences between British and French experts have taken place in London, Paris and in West Africa.
We have also agreed to share our experience on the important question of training for the Colonial Service. We hope to exchange officers in training in the two countries, and we are proposing to make a start in the summer of next year, with the administrative branch of the Service. A selected number of officers in training for the British Colonial Administrative Service will go to Paris for a special course at the National School of France Overseas, whilst some of the French students in training will come to England to attend part of the course at Oxford for our own Colonial administrative trainees. I regard this kind of inter 248 national cooperation as of the greatest importance.
As the Committee is aware, His Majesty's Government announced in January their intention of placing our mandated territories in Africa—Tanganyika, Togoland and the Cameroons—under the trusteeship system established in the United Nations Charter. We regard it as a natural and inevitable step that the terms of our trust should now be revised and brought into harmony with the new international organisation which has replaced the League of Nations. The proposed terms of trusteeship which have just been published are designed to carry that process into effect. The Foreign Secretary, when he originally announced our policy to the United Nations, laid stress on the importance of continuity of administration. On that score the proposed new arrangements will not entail any change; the published draft for Tanganyika and the drafts for Togoland and the Cameroons, which will be published shortly, all provide for the position of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to be maintained as the "administering authority."
As a natural consequence, we have used the existing Mandates as a basis in drawing up these proposed terms of trusteeship, making such modifications as are required to bring them into line with the trusteeship chapters of the United Nations Charter. We have also taken the opportunity, so far as the Charter permits, to make other improvements on the Mandate position which the experience of the last 25 years has shown to be desirable. I do not propose to go into detail now about each Article of the terms of trusteeship. The White Paper itself draws attention to the two main changes from the Mandate, namely, the treatment of defence and economic affairs. We hope to be in a position to present our terms of trusteeship for all three mandated territories to the United Nations for approval when the Assembly meets again in September. The draft terms now published are not necessarily in the final form in which they should be presented. They represent simply our first draft text as agreed upon by certain States whom we have consulted, namely, South Africa, France and Belgium.
It may be that, following on publication, certain amendments to the draft may 249 appear desirable, and if so we shall be quite free to make such alterations before approaching the United Nations in September. In particular, it is important that we should take account, so far as we can consistently with the Charter, of any opinions which may be expressed by the inhabitants of the territories themselves. Other Governments besides those whom we have already consulted may also have views on the proposed terms of trusteeship. Indeed, the United States Government have already suggested a number of amendments which have been discussed informally between officials of my Department and representatives of the State Department, who came over to London for the purpose. I am now myself considering these suggestions.
In view of the Debate on Palestine last week, and the further Debate which is to take place shortly, the Committee will not expect me to make any statement on Palestine in the course of this general Debate on Colonial affairs.
Political development is governed by social and economic progress. It is difficult to create a democracy out of a hungry and illiterate people, and too many of the inhabitants of our Colonies have, in the past, been hungry and uneducated. The Committee will want to know what is beng done, and what we plan to do, to raise the general standard of life for those people. First, education. I have been most anxious to encourage and assist an advance along the whole educational front in all the Colonies. It is pleasing to note that in the ten year programmes of development now being submitted, education occupies an important place. Great stress is laid on every phase, whether it be primary or secondary, technical or adult, mass education or higher education. Every part is considered important to every other part as a basis of social and economic progress. Following upon the three valuable reports presented last year, higher education in the Colonies has progressed along several lines. Steps have been taken, in collaboration with the British Universities, to implement the recommendations of the Asquith Commission, and the preliminary work of founding universities in West Africa and the West Indies has begun.
As regards the West Indies, the main recommendations of the Irvine Commission have been accepted, and I am now in close consultation with the West Indian 250 Governments and with the Inter-University Council here, with a view to the establishment of a West Indian University as soon as is practicable.
For West Africa, I had hoped that development would proceed on the lines of the recommendations of the Minority Report of the Elliott Commission, because, in my opinion, its views seemed to be founded on the principles set out in the Asquith Commission and were, I thought, the more practical in existing circumstances and more consistent with the best university experience and educational practice. But the desire of three of the large territories in West Africa each to have its own university college, and the very strong feeling expressed in the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, caused me to consider whether any suitable arrangements could be made which would secure the cooperation of all sections of opinion in West Africa.
I have now sent a communication on this matter to the Governors, proposing that a university college for West Africa should be established in Nigeria, where facilities for students in agriculture, forestry and animal health already exist. I think it must include a wide range of art and science studies, engage the best university staff possible, build up research and have a suitable standard of admission. I propose that the research school should be established there, and that each of the three territories should broaden their secondary work so as to increase the number of students who can work to intermediate level and beyond, and to urge forward technical education. Each territory shall have its own local college working to intermediate level, with training of teachers for post-primary work, with social studies and with adult and "extramural" education. In the case of Sierra Leone, I hope this much bigger conception will fit in with those who would like to see Fourah Bay College of greater use in the life of that territory.
As to the Gold Coast, I respect the tradition of Achimota College, and do not wish to hamper the realisation of the very high hopes entertained by many for its future. But I feel that what West Africa needs is a first class university, in fact and not merely in name. With the shortage of available staff and supplies, a wide range of art and science studies in more than one territory, I fear, is not 251 practicable. Accordingly, I want the Territorial College in the Gold Coast to be based on sound principles; and, while I shall not discourage the development there of post-intermediate studies—indeed I shall ask the Inter-University Council here to give all the guidance and advice it can—I hope that development in this field will be consistent with, and not prejudicial to, the main project of a West African University. I hope shortly to set up a Colonial University Grants Advisory Committee, as recommended by the Asquith Commission, to advise me on the allocation of the £4½ million of development and welfare money which has been set aside for higher education.
I am glad to be able to say that, following measures taken in 1940, there has been a considerable improvement in the organisation of labour throughout the Colonies. Eight years ago there were only two labour departments in all our Colonial territories; now there are only two Colonies which have not got labour departments. These are the Falkland Islands and St. Helena. In all, there are now 33 labour departments, with a staff of more than 200 officers. I shall not be content until every Colony has a labour department manned by officers whose status shall be equal to that of any other Colonial servant. In passing, and as an example of the value of the experience these officers gain, I might mention that the new Governor of Singapore was for four or five years a Controller of Labour in Ceylon. There are many other instances of labour officers being advanced to positions of high importance. These labour departments have many positive achievements to their credit. Trade unions have been established and encouraged. In 1941 the experiment of selecting experienced trade unionists from this country as labour officers was begun, and there are now one or more trade unionist labour officers in ten of our major Colonies, all of them doing excellent work. In the Colonial Office I have recently reconstituted and strengthened my Labour Advisory Committee. I would like to add, however, that soon I should wish to see representatives of Colonial peoples themselves associated with this Committee.
The growing emphasis which is being placed on social welfare has led me, in the course of the year, to reconstitute and 252 enlarge the Colonial Social Welfare Advisory Committee, and to recruit 25 additional social welfare workers from this country, Of these new posts, 11 are in the West Indies and 10 in Africa. The arrangements for training social welfare workers at the London School of Economics continue. Courses last for two years, and have been attended by some 80 Colonial students from 21 different Colonial territories. A fourth course will begin next autumn, and I am hoping that about 25 more students from Colonial territories will attend. Local courses for training social welfare workers are also being organised in certain Colonial territories.
I turn now to the Colonial Service. The organisation of the Colonial Service was last reviewed in 1929–30 by Lord Pass-field, when the policy of unification was adopted. That policy aimed at widening the field of recruitment, providing a career not limited to any one territory, and facilitating the interchange of staff at all levels. Experience has endorsed the value of that policy. But the political and social development of the Colonies has gone forward a good deal since then, and I am convinced that additional provision must now be made to enable the Colonial peoples themselves to take their place in the staffing of their own public services. Accordingly, £ 1,000,000 has been allotted under the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, to enable Colonial candidates to acquire the basic qualifications for entry to the higher grades of the service, and £1,500,000 for giving selected candidates, whether recruited in the Colonies, in the United Kingdom, or Dominions, the additional special training which they require in order to apply their special qualifications to Colonial conditions. I have accepted the proposals of the report by a committee of university and Colonial Office people under the chairmanship of the Duke of Devonshire, and am accepting its recommendations. The universities are being most cooperative, and I am hoping a start will be made with the new training schemes this autumn.
As regards the general structure of the Colonial Service, I have recently issued a White Paper, and only want to remind the House that each colony has and pays for its own public service. It is not, therefore, possible to have any rigid standard of uniformity of salaries and 253 conditions. There are, however, some important general principles which affect all Colonies. Perhaps the most important of these is that there should be the same basic pay for officers doing the same job, irrespective of Colony, of race, or of domicile. I now turn to Colonial economic problems, and do not let me underestimate these. The fact—and it is an ugly fact—is that the majority of our Colonial peoples are very poor. This is due primarily to the poverty of their environment, and of their education. To raise their standard of living, progress in education, in public health, social reform and political and economic development must each play their part. We must face a speed-up in economic development. As always after war, the immediate shortages are the first difficulty. Like the rest of the world, the Colonies need food, materials, men and machinery. So long as these things are scarce, development is impeded. Machinery can be met for the most part only from overseas, particularly by imports of industrial products from the United Kingdom, all of which are in short supply at the present time. Thus, major progress with development schemes in the Colonies has to wait on reconversion elsewhere.
Many new industries have also been started in the Colonies during the war, and industries which existed on a very small scale have been substantially expanded. Some of these industries will be the foundations on which we shall build for the permanent enrichment of the Colonies. Some are suffering from the world food shortage, particularly the Far East Colonies and Ceylon. His Majesty's Government are doing their utmost to minimise suffering due to these shortages In spite of them, there is everywhere in the Colonies a determination to send more food to Britain, and with the cooperation of my colleague, the Minister of Food, I am doing everything possible to help them to fulfil this task. A bumper crop of groundnuts has just been harvested in Nigeria. Supplies of this valuable source of fat are, however, so short, and are likely to be for some years to come, that the Government have decided to make a special investigation of a project for large scale new production of groundnuts in East Africa. A team of expert investigators is now in Tanganyika carrying out that investigation. We have also just decided to send a mission to West Africa 254 to see what assistance can be given to increase production, and to speed up the transport of groundnuts and palm kernels. My Department is continuing discussions with the Ministry of Food to ascertain whether a field exists elsewhere in the Colonies for similar encouragement of fats production.
As to sugar, the 1945 Colonial crop was severely reduced by three disastrous cyclones in Mauritius, but this year's prospects are good, and the decision of the Minister of Food to continue his purchase of all Empire sugar until 1949 should give Colonial producers more assurance on which to make their future plans, and will, I hope, stimulate greater production during the next three difficult years. On the side of raw materials, the rehabilitation of the rubber and tin industries in Malaya is being pushed ahead with all possible speed. The world shortage of hard fibres, which will continue at least until the Far East is again able to supply its share of world requirements, is stimulating production of East African sisal, and arrangements for extending the existing contract with the East African industry until the end of 1947, at a satisfactory price to producers, have been concluded with the Ministry of Supply. We arc endeavouring to make an interesting experiment with regard to this price, for out of this new price a sum of rips. on every ton of sisal sold is being set aside for improving the welfare of the workers on the plantations. It is hoped that a sum of from £300,000 to £350,000 will be raised by this method. It is a kind of workers' welfare scheme.
As I have said, the Colonies are poor. Their poverty is due, to some extent, to the maldistribution of profits. But I should be deceiving the Colonial peoples if I gave the impression that to correct this can do more than touch the fringe of the problem of Colonial poverty. That problem must be attacked mainly by improving the productivity of Colonial peoples themselves. They must make a greater effort, supplemented by research and more modern methods of production. For, in the long run, no peoples can expect to enjoy a high standard of living without putting in a high standard of effort and achieving a higher standard of efficiency. It cannot all be provided from outside help. But, having said that, I recognise that it is our responsibility to try to arouse in African people the desire 255 to make this greater effort by seeing that they get a fair reward for their work. The abolition of poverty can he brought about in that way.
There are, therefore, several practical ways in which we can help. First we can improve the marketing of Colonial exports. There is no doubt that instability of price and uncertainty of market are a very great handicap to Colonial producers, and an obstacle to assured planning for the future, as it is to farmers in this country. We are, therefore, giving the whole matter very close thought. It is not a simple matter, and in view of the many complexities of markets for Colonial exports, there is no uniform solution. I am studying with my colleagues, very closely, what further measures can be taken to improve the marketing of Colonial produce, and to protect Colonial producers from the fiercer effects of world market fluctuations. That examination—which includes bulk buying and selling arrangements, price stabilisation funds and cooperative selling systems—is not yet quite complete. Meanwhile, the arrangements which have been in operation during the war to stabilise Colonial produce prices are, in many cases, being continued for further periods.
I should inform the Committee that none of these bulk purchase arrangements affects Colonial preferences, which remain as before, and which, as was made clear to the House by the Prime Minister last December, will not be modified or abandoned by unilateral action. It is proposed to deal with preference margins in the forthcoming international trade discussions only as part of the larger question of future international tariff policy. Meanwhile, I repeat, Colonial preferences stand unimpaired. Nor do the bulk purchase arrangements contravene our existing international obligations, as has been suggested. These are good commercial deals for the United Kingdom and for the Colonies, and, as such, they cannot be regarded as trade discrimination. I am also paying attention to the possibilities of helping Colonial producers to greater stability from another point of view. As the Committee is well aware, there are certain Colonies whose crops are subject to serious, and sometimes disastrous, damage by hurricanes, droughts, and other climatic aberrations. In two of those which have lately been most seriously attacked, Mauritius and Jamaica, insur- 256 ance funds are being set up with the assistance of His Majesty's Government for the sugar and banana industries respectively. These, it is hoped, will enable the industries themselves to make proper provision against disasters, and avoid the necessity for further appeals to His Majesty's Government's assistance.
Secondly, we can help by encouraging the sound growth of cooperation, a development which has very great potentialities for helping the people to increase their wealth and welfare by their own efforts. The form which cooperation has chiefly taken up to now has been the cooperative credit society among agricultural producers. This is a side of the movement which should certainly continue to be maintained and developed. There is no greater evil among peasant producers than rural indebtedness, and cooperative thrift is the best line of attack against this evil. There are, however, other sides of the movement in which less progress has been made in the Colonies, but whose possibilities I am anxious to extend to the full. They are consumers' cooperative societies and co-operative marketing organisations. I recently published, in a non-Parliamentary paper, despatches which I addressed to Colonial Governments drawing their attention to the importance which I attach to the development of the cooperative movement in the Colonies, and sending them suggestions on the subject or the recruitment and training of cooperative staff, and also a model cooperative societies ordinance and regulations. It has also been decided to appoint an adviser on cooperation, and to set up an advisory committee to give me the benefit of outside advice and experience on this subject.
Thirdly, there is the very wide field of economic development. Here, I want to see progress on several lines simultaneously. I hope to see a steady advance in the provision of those basic services, which only Governments can properly provide, and without which private initiative can do little, such as communications by road and rail, land and water; water and power supplies; education, general and technical; agricultural, forestry, mining, and other technical services. I want to see private enterprise assisting in building up new industries on the basis of those public 257 services, with proper regard, of course, to the public interest.
Finally, in some cases, I believe, it will be appropriate for the Government themselves to establish new industries, as in this country. I, myself, would hope that, if the East African groundnut project I have already mentioned proves worth undertaking, it would be run by a Government sponsored organisation, and I am already considering such an organisation for the operation of the ex-German plantations in the Cameroons.
There is a world of difference between the situation with regard to Colonial development at the present time, and that in the years immediately following the Act of 1940. Colonial Governments in 1941 were primarily concerned with economising in manpower, shipping, and other resources. They were advised to concentrate on preparing schemes to be implemented after the war. But that event seemed so remote that even detailed planning proceeded very slowly. Now that the brakes have been released, completion of the plans is most pressing. It will be remembered that Parliament last year, without opposition, agreed that, under the Colonial and Welfare Development Act, a sum of £120 million should be spent in the Colonies over a period of 10 years. This is a large sum of money in relation to the nation's heavy financial commitments, and we must see to it that it is well and wisely spent. But the sum is not so large when the requirements of each of the Colonial territories are considered. Indeed, the Colonies will have to cut their welfare and development plans according to the resources available. My predecessor and myself have made no pretence that the sum available is sufficient to meet more than a small number of the many requirements in the Colonies, without substantial sums being found by the local Governments out of their own resources and out of loans, and by the introduction of a large amount of private capital.
It was my first task to allocate the £120 million provided by the 1945 Act, so that the Colonies themselves could know where they stood. The allocations were published last December. After £23 million had been allocated for central schemes, including, in particular, research and higher education, £11and million had been set aside for a general reserve, £85 258 million remained for allocation to Colonial Governments, hon. Members may ask on what basis they were made. The answer is that there was no uniform basis, since there is no common yardstick to measure Colonies' needs. Population, of course, was a main factor; but local resources, or lack of resources, and the possibilities of constructive development had to be taken into account. I am satisfied that the division is reasonable. Every Colony would like to have had more—but that, I fear, is because, generous as is the provision of the 1945 Act, it unfortunately falls short of needs.
Not all the £85 million was allocated to individual Colonies. In certain cases, regional allocations were made; for example, to the mainland East African Colonies. I attach great importance to block allocations of this kind, not only to increase the efficiency of development schemes, but also to encourage that regional cooperation on common problems to which I made reference earlier. The central allocation I also regard as of the greatest importance, since it provides for development work which it would be impossible to organise on a Colony basis. Separate provision is made in the Act for schemes of research and inquiry. There is, perhaps, no part of the work done under the Act from which the Colonies can expect in the long run to derive more benefit. I propose to mention later some examples of research work already in train.
Plans covering the next ten years are now reaching me from Colonial Governments, and my Department is facing the difficult job of considering and advising on them. I have long felt that the organisation on the economic development and commercial side, both in the central office and in Colonial administrations, was not sufficiently comprehensive, and that the connecting link between London and the Colonies should be strengthened. That feeling has been confirmed by experience gained in the examination of the plans now submitted. Indeed, in the circular which I issued to the Colonies last December, I referred to this fact, and stated that I wanted the maximum of outside help. I have decided therefore to appoint a Colonial Economic and Development Council, with very wide terms of reference, to include members with wide and varied business experience, to advise me on the 259 whole field of Colonial Development, and economic and commercial policy. I hope to make an early announcement as to the names of the Chairman and members of the Council. The new Council will take over the work formerly being done by the Colonial Economic Advisory Committee. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the gratitude which I owe to the members of that Committee, who gave so generously of their time and experience, and some of whom will, I hope, continue to serve on the new Council. I propose to suggest to the Council that it should conduct its work through two committees, one dealing with development, and the other with economic policy.
I have also decided to reorganise and strengthen that part of the Colonial Office which is concerned with the administration of the Colonial and Development and Welfare Act, and with economic affairs generally. The Departments previously comprising the Economic and Financial Division are being expanded and regrouped into a Trade and Communications Division, which will deal with problems of commercial relations, marketing and communications, and a Development Division, which will concentrate its energies on development work and will assist in laying down lines of financial policy to facilitate development. The Development Division will include the department concerned with research. Each of these divisions will be under an Assistant Under-Secretary of State.
I would like now to refer to some of the work which is being done in the Colonies themselves. Nigeria, that vast and varied territory which contains one-third of the population of the whole Colonial Empire, has been pursuing a most energetic policy of development. An ambitious and, I am convinced, soundly conceived plan has been drawn up covering the territory's whole development for the next 10 years. The cost is £ 55 million, of which £ 23 million is being provided from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote, while the balance of £ 32 million will be made up from Nigeria's own revenues and from loans. The aim of this programme is to develop educational, medical and other services, to improve basic resources, including agriculture and water supplies, to extend and 260 improve communications and to improve capital equipment. Other territories are now at work on their plans, and some have already been submitted to me. Zanzibar, on the other side of Africa, has its 10-year programme; while Jamaica's plan is drawn up on broad and ambitious lines, and has been under consideration by the Legislature.
Nor has help been denied for urgent needs. In Malaya, for example, extension of rice cultivation is an urgent and clamant necessity. For this purpose, I have recently approved a grant for the purchase of modern land-clearing and cultivating equipment, which, if it does not produce an immediate sufficiency of rice, should, we hope, point the way to quicker results in food production on which so much now hangs. These are but a few examples of what is being done. I can assure the House that Colonial Governments are pushing ahead with this important work.
I mentioned the central allocation for projects benefiting the Colonies as a whole. The Government are determined to encourage progress by Colonial peoples along the road of increasing self-reliance. There are manifold benefits which the Colonies enjoy as members of the British Commonwealth. The hidden yet useful work which is being done in this country for the benefit of the Colonies in many spheres does not always get the recognition it deserves. Research projects figure predominantly among the central schemes. The past year has, in fact, seen both the completion of the main structure of research organisation, and a rapid growth in the number of research schemes started. The fruit of the years of planning and survey under the wise guidance and leadership of Lord Hailey, as Chairman of the Colonial Research Committee, is now beginning to be seen as more scientific personnel is released from war work. In all, 54 new research schemes were approved in the year 1945–46. I cannot list them all. Members who care to study the official reports presented to the House, will find points of absorbing interest in almost all of them.
There is a danger, in the planning of research, that it may get too far out of touch with the practical problems of the people of the Colonies. Visits have therefore been made to various Colonies by those concerned at the centre. For 261 example, the Director of the Colonial Products Research Council has recently visited the West Indies, the Secretary of the Social Science Research Council has been to West Africa, and my agricultural adviser, together with Sir Frank Engledow and Professor Munro, have toured East Africa, and have made proposals to link up East African research polices in the agricultural field.
The keystone of our whole policy for improving the wealth and well being of our Colonial peoples is, in my view, coordination; and steady progress along several lines of development, all of which interact one on the other, with the administration at the Colonial Office and the Colonial Governments, each making their contribution in research, planning, men, money and materials. Without great improvement in basic economic conditions, few of the Colonies can be expected to show substantial social or political progress. Improved social services can make a contribution to greater efficiency and productivity, and in the Colonies the field of advance which will be opened up by better education is immense. Even political development of itself may react upon the social and economic welfare of a whole community, by releasing potentialities for self-reliance and self-help which were kept suppressed by too little political liberty.
That is the note on which I would end this statement to the Committee. That is the challenge to our future administration of the Colonial Empire. If we can succeed, by patient industry, in providing the Colonies with more liberty, higher standards of health and better education, and with larger opportunities for creating their own wealth, then we shall have carried out our trust, and the expanding prosperity and happiness of the 60 million of our Colonial peoples will be assured. We are with them on the threshold of a great opportunity. A strong united Colonial Empire, in a strong united British Commonwealth, can make the greatest possible contribution to the world problems that face us, and I am convinced, playing our full part as we must, we can look into the future with every confidence.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
May I begin by thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the generous words which he used 262 about me? I much appreciate this gracious gesture from the present holder of the office of Colonial Secretary, to his predecessor, and I suppose that it would not be tactful of me to say that I hope, before very long, to be able to reciprocate. Let me congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on this, his first general review of his administrative work at the Colonial Office; in particular, let me congratulate him on the fact that it is the first such review to be made in time of peace for seven years. The right hon. Gentleman started his speech by telling us that since the electoral events of July, it was necessary for him to make a declaration of policy for the party now in power. I listened to it with great interest, and, I must confess, with a certain amount of familiarity. It did not seem to differ greatly in essentials from the policies which have been declared on previous occasions. The right hon. Gentleman is the holder of a great office. Personally, I think that it is among the greatest offices, if not the greatest office, in the Government of this country. There is no other office in which the Minister has so much personal influence for good or ill on so many people. I know, of course, that it is not an office which catches the public eye as much as some others in the Government, and, for that reason, it may not be an office which would appeal to some right hon. Gentlemen we have known in the past, or, possibly even, to some whom we know in the present. But for one who is prepared to take his satisfaction in a feeling of work well done, for the benefit of many millions of other people, I think there is no office which can offer an equal opportunity.
It is always a difficulty in a Colonial Debate, when there are so many problems to deal with and so many territories to touch upon, to decide what to include and what to omit. The right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible as Secretary of State, has, patiently and persistently, covered a great deal of ground. I, in Opposition, can afford to be more selective. The curious thing is that I, and I think other hon. Members who speak from this side of the Committee, are prepared to omit from these discussions the two subjects— I might almost say the only two subjects—of Colonial policy which are really controversial, namely, those of Palestine and Malaya. We have been promised an opportunity to debate 263 Palestine by itself, and, frankly, I think that it would be quite wrong, when we have an opportunity today for general discussion of Colonial policy, to introduce a subject which, of itself, is of sufficient importance to warrant a separate discussion. On the subject of Palestine, I will only reinforce the plea which I made last week, and that is to ask the Government to do everything that they can to speed up their decision in this matter, and, having come to a decision, to allow the House to debate it, and, finally, to settle it one way or the other.
On Malaya, I, certainly, and I am sure my hon. Friends also, will yield to the right hon. Gentleman's appeal not to press for a statement today about the changes of principle in the Malay Constitution. I am sure he will agree that we have been very patient in this matter. Since the Debate in February, all of us have realised that an interval had to be given for the pledge of the Under-Secretary of State to be carried out, for discussions between the Governor-General and the new Governments of Malaya to take place, and for new proposals to be formulated. Time is running on. We are getting towards the end of this Session, and I hope that if, today, we accede to the right hon. Gentleman's request not to debate this subject, we shall not thereby be prejudiced, and that we can be certain that before we adjourn in August we shall have an opportunity to debate it and that we shall know what are the Government's new proposals. I think that it would be quite wrong for the House to go away, for perhaps two or three months, at a time when all who know Malaya tell me that the situation is critical, without having had an opportunity to debate this all-important subject.
I propose, therefore, to deal, broadly, with some of the general problems that affect all, or nearly all, the Colonies, though they are different, of course, in their actual incidence,. and the actual forms which they take. The right hon. Gentleman referred at some length to the constitutional developments in the Colonial Empire over the last few years. He referred to three branches: the relationship of the inhabitants of a Colonial territory to the Government of that territory; the relationship of one Colonial territory to another; and the relationship of 264 the Colonial Empire as a whole to the world outside. I should like to say a few words upon those subjects. The right hon. Gentleman, in his survey, gave us an account of some of the constitutional changes which had taken place recently in the Colonial Empire. There is a time lag between the announcement of a constitutional change, and the actual operation of the letters patent, or Orders in Council which bring it into being. Here, again, I detect a certain number of old friends which served the right hon. Gentleman in his survey of this year as faithfully as they served me in my survey of last year. That applies particularly to Nigeria and the Gold Coast.
It is 'a fact that, for the last three or four years, there has been a steady amendment of our constitutional machinery in the Colonies. Some of the changes have been large and dramatic, such as in Jamaica, Ceylon and Nigeria; some have merely been some extension of the present position, but throughout the Colonial Empire, even in those difficult days of war, the constitutional position has never remained static. It has all through been dynamic. The right hon. Gentleman will agree that when we come to deal with these questions of constitutional changes there is the very great difficulty of tempo. A Government always run the risk of two evils, one on each side —of going too fast, or of going too slow. If the Government go too slow, then they arouse immediately in the Colony doubts of their sincerity. They cause increasing bitterness amongst that class of people whom they want to harness to themselves, if self-government is to be made a success, and they encourage a growth of irresponsibility, because it is sometimes found that, if people are left too long in opposition, when at last they are given a chance of power, they are not always capable of taking it. On the other hand, there is the great danger of going too fast. Then there is the great danger of erecting a constitutional administrative machine, which bears no relation to the standards of social or economic developments which have to sustain it. The danger there is that, in the name of self-government, we may not be, in fact, erecting a new colonial democracy, but only handing over power which we as a House of Commons have tried to exercise impartially, to some oligarchy in the Colony concerned.
265 When I was in office I was blamed on both counts. I was told I was going too fast and, on the other hand, that I was going too slow. Of course, it was a fact that restrictions on some of the economic and social developments, which I should like to have made. did tend during those years perhaps to give undue emphasis to changes in constitutional machinery, which war conditions did permit. I feel, therefore, that in the next few years the greatest emphasis in Colonial development should not be on the political, but on the social and economic side. I feel we have a much bigger leeway to catch up there, than we have merely in relation to the machinery of government.
I pass to what I think is a more important and a more urgent constitutional problem, and that is the relationship of-these Colonial territories to each other. The facts of history and the difficulties of communication resulted in the Colonial Empire growing up in a number of self-contained units, some of very small size. I think it is right to say that up to 20 years ago, they were in a position of almost complete isolation one from the other. That kind of inter-Colonial isolatian cannot continue in the modern world. The mere fact of the growing expense of government makes it impossible for the overheads to be borne by territories of the size of some of our separate Colonial units today. It might have been all right when the main function of Colonial government was merely the maintenance of law and order. Now that there are so many more complicated functions, and when experts on economics and social questions, engineers of all descriptions, and technicians of all' kinds are needed, when the whale of that great fund of expert knowledge has to he at the disposal of each and every territory, if its inhabitants are to have a fair chance, some system of centralisation and some system of pooling become inevitable. The fortunate thing is that, just when the problem has become acute, the solution has become possible. It is in the development of air communications that the historic factors which have led to this isolation can now be overcome. The hundreds of miles which in the old days kept the West Indian islands as separate units, need no longer be regarded as a barrier.
I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman talk about federation in the 266 West Indies. I firmly believe that the future of the British West Indies lies in federation; that their only hope for real social and economic development lies in the amount of political and economic cooperation that is possible. One of the last things that I did before leaving office was to address a despatch to all Colonial Governments in the West Indies recommending that this problem of federation should be studied, and asking for their views upon it. I gather that it has been discussed by most if not all the Colonial Legislatures, and in nearly every instance-the decisions, if not very clear, have been favourable. I am glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to follow these up, and to have some kind of conference of delegates at which further discussions can take place. I do not for a moment think that federation of this kind can be imposed from above. I do not think it would be right for us to try to impose upon the West Indies, if they were unwilling, any form of federal government. It has to come from below. Certainly in the three years I was at the Colonial Office I thought I detected signs of a great change in West Indian opinion. The island mentality was beginning to, give way to a West Indian mentality, and I believe that that is a spirit which the Colonial Office should foster and encourage.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to West Africa, and perhaps when the Under-Secretary replies he say a word about the functioning of another scheme for this kind of cooperation which was started a year or two ago—the Central African Council, with Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland as members. I did want to say a few words about the situation in the three East African Colonies. There in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda, the economic argument for some form of cooperation is stronger perhaps than anywhere else in the Colonial Empire. They are contiguous territories, and as far as Uganda is concerned it has to use the ports and railway systems of another Colony. It is impossible to see how there is to be real economic development in these territories unless there is created some kind of mutual cooperation. On the other hand, just as the economic arguments are strongest so the political difficulties are greatest. There is no need to stress the 267 difference in the set-up in Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika, and the difficult political situation that that creates. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Paper 191, a Pager setting out the proposals of the Colonial Office for closer cooperation on the economic side. I understand that it has met with a rather violent reception, certainly in one of the territories. I do not want to say anything to make the position more difficult. But I cannot disclaim considerable responsibility for the scheme which was put out in that Paper. I think the main lines had been settled during my time at the Colonial Office, though perhaps not the details or the methods of presentation.
I understand that the Under-Secretary is shortly to visit East Africa. I am certain that he will be assured there of a very hearty welcome. I must confess that when I was there, two or three years ago, the hon. Gentleman might not have been so heartily received by at least one section of the community. But that would have been in what I might call the hon. Gentleman's "B.C. period" —before crossing from this side of the Chamber to the other. The recent speech he made on the subject of Kenya has certainly ensured for him, from all sections of the population, a very hearty welcome. He will arrive in this excellent atmosphere, and I hope he will find it possible to smooth out some of the difficulties and, I think, misunderstandings which have arisen, and bring a scheme of this nature into operation. It is essential, when we are dealing with East Africa, to think of it as a whole, and not of its parts; to realise that all communities in East Africa have a part to play, that all have obligations and all have rights. There is a terrible temptation to look at the East African problem from one point of view—from the point of view of the settler, the African or the Indian. But, as I think the hon. Gentleman will agree, if there is to be any real prosperity in East Africa, those three points of view must become one. All there have their part to play in a prosperous East Africa, and none will gain by the exclusion of the other.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to international relationships and to the mandates. I will not discuss in detail the terms of the new mandate which have been published. At San Francisco, of 268 course, certain changes were made in the mandatory system which include, I am glad to say, some of the economic provisions to be decided in the interests of the Colony itself, whereas the old League of Nations mandate preserved the open door, which always seemed to me to be of more benefit to the rest of the world than it necessarily was for the Colony itself. I only hope that the inclusion of that new principle in the draft mandate which has been circulated will not be objected to by any of the Powers the right hon. Gentleman has consulted, and will not be abandoned by him. I am glad to hear of the development of the regional commissioner idea, and its possible extension to the South Pacific. Perhaps the Under-Secretary can tell us something of what seemed to me to be a promising start in the South Pacific—the amalgamation of the medical services between ourselves and New Zealand in that area, for Samoa and the Pacific Islands. It was just starting in my time, and I should like to know how it is developing.
Now I turn from the political to the economic side. The right hon. Gentleman made the announcement that he had set up a Colonial Economic and Development Council, which had superseded the Colonial Economic Advisory Committee. That, in itself, may be nothing more important than a change of name. The right hon. Gentleman did not explain to us—and I hope the Under-Secretary will—what the change of name means. Is there any change of function, or is the new Council to be advisory, just as the old Committee was? If it is to be executive, what executive powers is it to possess? I am glad to see any strengthening of the economic machinery in the Colonial Office. One is conscious that whereas so many other branches in the Colonial Office and Colonial Service have grown up over the years, in the economic field a heavy burden has suddenly been thrown on the administration. No one would be complacent enough to suggest that no improvements could be made. But I warn the Committee against one tendency of which I used to be aware, and which, I hope, does not show itself in any way in this new Council, that is, any attempt to try to plan, in London, the economic development of the Colonies themselves. I look upon the expenditure by the Colonies of their share of the development money as not only a very 269 good thing for their economic future, but also a very good thing for their political advancement. The mere fact of making them get down to a complicated economic programme, including the expenditure of development money and of their own resources, is not only training in self-government but means that when they have got the things for which they have planned and asked they will value them in a way in which they will never value a ready-made plan sent from London. I hope the Development Council will give them all help and advice, but will see that the 40-odd Colonies themselves do the work that ought to be done by them, that is, planning their own economic future.
When we come to a discussion of economic questions in the Colonies, although the development of secondary industries may catch one's imagination—and I should be the last to underrate its importance—for the vast majority of the 60,000,000 people, it means agriculture. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman is able to do, whatever private enterprise, or the State, or a mixture of the two, can do to develop secondary industries in the Colonies, it is a fact that for many years to come, the vast majority of the people will continue to depend upon agriculture. Economic progress must mean a higher standard of agricultural output. No one who gives any attention to this subject will deny that the chronic problems facing the Colonial Empire are grave in the extreme. In the more restricted Colonies, the combined effect of the increasing birth rate, the decreasing death rate, the continued soil erosion, and years of loss of fertility of the soil have already brought the problem, as in the West Indies, to an acute stage. The greater African Colonies are only a little behind. Exactly the same difficulties which have already emerged so acutely in the small islands in the Caribbean, are emerging in the great areas of Central Africa.
I had the advantage of being able to read a paper which had been written by the Governor of Kenya to the Colonial Office, on agricultural problems in Kenya. I do not know whether that paper has been published, or whether it will be available to hon. Members, but I hope it will, because I thought the Governor put the matter brilliantly. It was not that he said anything new, or anything that people who have chosen to 270 study this matter have not found out for themselves, but he put it in a dramatic way, which will bring home to people the problems that face agriculture in the Colonies. I must admit that when I first went to the Colonial Office I rather believed in the comfortable old idea that the dilemma of the Colonies was simply that on the one hand they could choose a Western standard of life, and with that, of course, Western standards of work and skill, and that on the other hand they could choose a tropical standard of leisure, and attain that merely by tropical standards of skill and labour. It was an argument that could go on for a very long time—the argument which they were sure to choose. No one who has experienced all the benefits and pleasures of Western civilisation for so long can be quite certain that we should be right in trying to force them to leave their ancient leisure for the doubtful privileges of sanitary pottery and wireless valves. But I wonder, when I look at that problem, whether that dilemma now really exists, whether in fact the inhabitants of Colonial territories still have that choice, whether they must not now adopt Western standards of work and Western standards of skill even to exist, and whether, if agriculture is allowed to continue on the lines it has followed in Africa for so many centuries, they will be abandoning not merely progress, but life itself.
I do not want to go into the vast field of the varying remedies which must be applied to a complex situation of this kind, remedies which range from measures against soil erosion and the provision of proper water supplies through education and health to the sort of marketing schemes to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. On the agricultural side I only wish to ask about one specific problem which, at any rate in one part of the Colonial Empire, is of great moment. That is the conflict between economic advantage and social desirability. It is brought out very distinctly in the palm oil industry in Nigeria, where of course all the trees are owned either by individuals or by families, and where that system of ownership is one of the things to which the native of Nigeria clings more closely than to anything else. To any suggestion that he is to be removed from that position he reacts more fiercely than to anything else. That system was up 271 against the plantation system carried on in the French territories, in the Belgian. Congo, and in the Dutch territories in the Far East, and our system was going down economically before it. The plantation systems were able to develop new types of trees, to instal new machinery, and the whole record in the years before the war was of a continual fall in the export of palm tree products from Nigeria. Somehow we must reconcile the two things, somehow we must try to get the economic benefits of the plantation system without incurring its very obvious social disadvantages, and I had, before I left, instituted with the Governor of Nigeria one or two experiments in a kind of cooperative work in Nigeria in an attempt to reconcile the two things. I should be very glad to know what if any progress has been made on those lines in the interval.
If I may now say one or two words about education and health, I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that action is now being taken on the three reports of the Commissions on higher education. It is three years since, in an Estimates Debate, I announced the setting up of these Commissions, and I am very glad that their work is now to be implemented. I was not quite certain that I understood what was proposed by the right hon. Gentleman in West Africa. I confess that as an educationist I was entirely in favour of the minority report which was signed by the Under-Secretary. It seemed to me to be the only one which took real account of the educational difficulties of a place like West Africa, and that in advocating one unitary university it was showing realism, in view not only of the difficulty of obtaining teaching staff from this country, but also of the difficulty of obtaining really adequate, up to standard material. I have realised since, of course, that that unitary solution met with a great deal of local patriotism which demanded that a university should be set up in each of the three territories. I am sorry that it has been found necessary to yield to patriotism, which I respect but which I regard as most misguided, because if it is pushed too far it will be found that, instead of the territory which demands a second university for itself gaining anything from it, all that will happen will be that the one good uni- 272 versity which could be set up will have been destroyed.
I confess that I could not quite make out what compromise has been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to develop it a little. I hope he will be able to convince us that what he proposes for Achimota and Fourah Bay will not mean the breaking down of the new university at Ibadan, and that at least one university college will be allowed to develop into a university of real standing. I remember, when I first told the Committee of the setting up of these Commissions, that I met with a certain amount of opposition from hon. Gentlemen on my own side, who asked if it was not ridiculous to start talking about higher education— university education—when there was so much illiteracy in the Colonies. That, I think, was a misapprehension. I am quite certain that one has to tackle all branches of education in the Colonies at once. One cannot possibly postpone university education until everybody is made literate, because if so there will be nobody to make them literate, and there will be no one to work the great new social and economic schemes. Similarly, of course, we cannot concentrate on the fortunate few, on secondary, technical or university education for a small percentage of the population. We must at the same time do what we can to extend the range of elementary education to all.
In my experience in this field of education in the Colonies, the best is always the enemy of the good. If we are to try to give these people elementary education in the exact form, through the exact machine, and with the exact standards that we have for our people in this country, there will be so much delay that millions of people will pass beyond the educational machine without getting anything at all. I would far rather that they got something than got nothing while a few got something so much better, It was for that reason that I was in full agreement with the Hammond Report in the West Indies, which recommended something which to educationists in this country is horrifying—something we have spent 20 years in trying to get rid of, that is, the use of the pupil teacher. I was convinced first of all that the pupil teacher could be used in quite a different way from that of Victorian England, and that they could really be both pupils and 273 teachers at the same time. Secondly, I was convinced that unless we were prepared to adopt that expedient we should be putting off any possibility of 100 per cent. literacy in the West Indies to the Greek kalends. I should very much like to know whether opposition to that report has now died down and what progress is being made.
One word about the other most important social problem in the Colonial Empire, and that is health. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that in the Colonial territories health is not necessarily synonymous with hospitals. I feel that there has been, in the past, much too much emphasis on curative medicine and not nearly enough on preventive medicine. It is of course the hospital which first catches the public eye. It is a thing which photographs well, it is a thing which everybody trots out because it sounds progressive, but I wonder whether it really gets down to the fundamentals of the health situation.
I remember that, on one of my visits, I saw in one Colony a very good hospital, recently erected, very well equipped, with a great record of cases, but rather handicapped by the fact that it was regarded by all the surrounding population as being the last resort; no one would have brought a sick friend or relative into the hospital unless everything else had first been tried. Even so, it managed to make a number of very startling cures. Not many miles away from the hospital, I saw an experiment in controlling the water supply in a large village. That experiment merely consisted in bricking up the surrounds of the well and instilling into the local population a knowledge of water hygiene, which they imparted to visitors to the village. The hospital cost thousands of pounds, whereas the other experiment did not cost as many tens of pounds as the other had cost thousands; yet I believe it was the experiment in regard to water hygiene which probably did more for the health and happiness of the people in that area than even the well-equipped and splendidly-served hospital.
That is why I want to know what progress there has been with the health units in the West Indies. It seems to me to be an extremely good idea to set up little units which cover the various localities and which within themselves are able to cover all the problems of pre- 274 ventive medicine. Finally, on the social side, I ask the Under-Secretary of State what is meant when his right hon. Friend says that the Social Welfare and Labour Committees are being reconstituted and strengthened? Does it mean that one or two new people have been added, or does reconstitution mean that all the members have been sacked and a new lot installed? Perhaps the Under-Secretary will tell us what has happened to those two committees.
The right hon. Gentleman has a very difficult time in front of him. When the Lord President of the Council, whose presence at one of our Debates for a few minutes we welcome with pleasurable surprise, told us that it was more difficult, to be Minister of Food in time of peace than in time of war, I confess that we on this side only laughed, but I am quite ready to admit that it is more difficult to be Secretary of State for the Colonies in these years after the peace than during the war, because during the war there were so many limitations imposed by war conditions that many problems, with the consent of all, had to be postponed, and people accepted that postponement. One could, of course, plan, and during those years we tried, and I think we succeeded, in planning. One could act sometimes, and I hope that, wherever it was possible, I did act; but over a great field of action, the shortage of men and materials, and the difficulty of wartime conditions, made it inevitable that the solution of problems should be postponed until later. That later has now come. The people who waited patiently for the end of the war for the solution of their problems are now prepared to wait no longer. The result is that from all parts of the Empire problems must be crowding in upon the right hon. Gentleman. Those problems differ in character, but they have one thing in common, that they have to be solved in a hurry. Truly, the Secretary of State at all times, and above all now, should put up in his great room, with Chamberlain's maps at the end, that motto of Cecil Rhodes:So much to do, so little time.The right hon. Gentleman has to face all that at a time when his staff, both in the Colonial Office and in the Colonial Service, are tired after seven years of exacting work, often under the most trying conditions, when they have had to assume new functions, very often without being given 275 any new men to carry them out, and when for seven years they have been deprived of all normal recruitment, both in the Colonial Office and in the Colonial Service. No tribute is too high for the work that those people did during the war, for the burdens they carried, for the privileges they forewent, and no tribute can be too high for the way in which, with all the difficulties, they are reacting to the pressing problems of the moment.
In these difficult times, all hon. Members on this side of the Committee will wish well to the right hon. Gentleman. This is not merely a personal expression of my own good will to a man who, despite political differences, I have for long regarded as a friend. All of us must wish well to a Secretary of State for the Colonies. All of us must want him to succeed—all of us who have any regard for the welfare of millions of our fellow subjects, and for the future of our Commonwealth. We shall criticise the right hon. Gentleman, as we have criticised him once or twice during the last few months. I have no doubt we shall do so again when we think that his policy is not what we would have adopted. But I am certain that hon. Members on this side will never forget that in the Colonial field we also have our responsibility, and that we share the responsibility that rests upon Parliament as a whole, of guiding 60 million people of all races, colours and creeds to that goal of self-government within the Empire, of higher standards, and of higher social and cultural development, to which all parties are pledged. I am not in the least afraid that in doing that, and in carrying out our pledge, we shall in any way weaken what are called the ties of Empire. I believe that if we do it quickly, generously and wisely, we shall strengthen them vastly. I believe that in this way we can get a feeling of mutual assistance, mutual dependence and, above all, mutual respect which will be a far more binding and enduring link than any dominance or domination that force might seek.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
In following the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), who has given such a high definition of the functions of Parliament, I feel inclined to congratulate him, as he was congratulated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, 276 on the line he has taken. It certainly will make our Colonial policy easier than it would have been if, for instance, right hon. Gentlemen had taken the same line on the Colonies as they have taken with regard to food. I am glad they are not doing that.
§ Mr. Stanley
If ever we find the Secretary of State for the Colonies making such a mess as the Ministry of Food, no doubt we shall take the appropriate measures.
If ever we find right hon. Gentlemen making the same foolish remarks on Colonial affairs as they have on food, we shall take equal measures. I wish to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on his extraordinarily interesting survey of the whole Colonial question, and I want to make one or two suggestions of a concrete character. My right hon. Friend said that he was concerned chiefly to develop the resources of the Colonies. He spoke of the Colonial Welfare Development Fund, but he will realise, as all of us must realise, that that fund, although it appears to be a large amount of money, is a very small amount when spread over all the Colonies. The first point I want to make is that, in considering the development of our Colonial resources, the first thing to do is to aim at making the Colonies individually self-supporting and self-sufficient; that is to say, there should be soil surveys, geological surveys, forest surveys, and agricultural surveys in order to see that we really know what the resources of the Colonies are capable of becoming.
I hope that a large part of the money for development and welfare will be spent on research in those ways. I propose to confine myself to the question or tropical Africa since it has always seemed to me that our Colonial Debates tend to become ragged edged because the Colonial Empire contains such very different items as the forts of Gibraltar and Malta and the vast territory of Nigeria, two entirely different things which ought hardly to be considered in the same Debate.
I prefer to take East Africa and West Africa together because they can be joined by the air quite easily, and I believe we have there a vast region, with a tremendous population, capable of development when we come to survey its resources, 277 which we do not know at the present time. I believe that the way out of our present difficulties is to create in the Colonies, as in this country, and in the Dominions—although that is their particular affair—new wealth. We can create new wealth in the Colonies by discovering new resources, but it must be devoted, first and foremost, to the improvement of the conditions of the people who live in the particular Colony, and not to the benefit of those who have invested money in gold mines or other kinds of mine. There must not he a large part of the money coming out instead of remaining in the country to fertilise it.
Take, for example, the enormous amount of money which has been made in Northern Rhodesia by the exploitation of copper. Despite this we have in Northern Rhodesia very great poverty and malnutrition because the money does not stay in Northern Rhodesia except to the extent of the amount paid in wages; it comes out to this country and to other countries, and that ought not to be the way in which the exploitation of such countries is carried out. Exploitation should take the form of the development of the resources primarily for the benefit of the peoples in those territories. If we take tropical Africa as a whole, survey its geological, agricultural, and forest resources, map out what can be done, and then base economic development on that survey, I think we shall find that it is a very wealthy country, with a very large population.
I could not agree more with one thing which was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol with regard to health. Health is not a matter of hospitals. The trouble is that many of the very large population in tropical Africa, which is big enough to form the labour forte to carry out any enterprise, either agricultural or industrial, are badly nourished and suffering from a very large number of diseases which are comparatively easily preventible. I suggest that the Colonial Office should take their courage into both hands and make up their minds with regard to medical services. Firstly, they cannot get the doctors required to establish a medical service comparable with that which is shortly to be set up in this country. The doctors do not exist and the Colonial revenues 278 could not afford such a scheme, but they should set out to have complete sanitary inspection of the whole of that tropical area with a view to preventing the conditions which cause disease.
I will explain exactly what I mean in regard to one or two diseases. The headquarters of leprosy in the world is Nigeria and when I was there just before the war began I calculated that there were about one million cases, affecting some 5 per cent. of the population. No one knows exactly, and a figure of 250,000 has been quoted, but one of the chief medical officers agreed at the time of my visit that my estimate was probably the accurate one. Leprosy can be prevented from spreading by hygienic measures which could be carried out by a large staff of trained African sanitary inspectors who would see that places were clean, that the water supply and food conditions were good, and would, in fact, bring about in the numerous villages affected by leprosy the conditions which have been established inside the few leper camps—villages which have been set up by missionaries. I saw one of these in the Gold Coast, and two others in Nigeria, being run under excellent conditions, in which leprosy does not spread even from husband to wife, and in which it certainly could be brought under control. Unfortunately, leprosy is a disease with a long rise and decline period of at least 20 years. It would take a very long time to get rid of it, but if we began the work we could lo it. It is not a question primarily of medical treatment, but of sanitation. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol was speaking of hospitals I remembered seeing in Kano an extremely good hospital; but a little way outside the hospital lepers were walking in the streets untreated and uncared for. It is not hospitals which are required, but sanitation.
The same thing applies with regard to sleeping sickness and malaria—it is sanitation which is required. This is true also of tuberculosis, which is one of the chief ' diseases which affect workpeople once they begin to live in houses and overcrowded townships. The housing conditions in many parts of Nigeria are excessively bad and would not be tolerated anywhere in Europe and, of course, they produce the conditions of tuberculosis as in Europe. If we wish to have the Colonies properly developed we must have a healthy population, and, 279 first of all, we must have a well fed population. While we require a number of doctors to supervise the general plan of operations, a large part of the work could be carried out by those who, although not medically qualified, could work under the supervision of doctors and impose, as it were, hygiene and sanitation on the population who, as a matter of fact, would be quite willing to accept it when they learned the advantages.
Another thing I suggest is that, where humanly possible, every Colony should be self-supporting as far as its own agricultural products are concerned. Every Colony should grow enough food to feed itself. As my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary knows, that has special reference to Gambia where, before the war, the Africans had been encouraged to grow groundnuts for export and had neglected to grow food for themselves. The result was that when the price of groundnuts fell, they had not enough money to buy food in the markets and they suffered very badly from malnutrition. That must be avoided, and with regard to the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend that there is to be a very large development of groundnut production in Nigeria and other places, I suggest that, when groundnuts are grown to be exported for the fats, the actual factory process of pressing out the fats should be done in West Africa in order that the rest of the material, which contains a high amount of protein, should be left in Africa for the purpose of feeding the African people. Not only is this badly wanted for its protein content, but it also contains a large amount of minerals, which are in very poor supply in the African soil. It would be a very good thing indeed if it could be made the rule that in Colonies where there are plenty of fats, as is the case in West Africa and the West Indies, some of the proteins and minerals should be left for the nourishment of the people themselves.
Self-supporting agriculture in West Africa is certainly possible and comparatively easily possible. The reason for having it is that otherwise it would take a very long time to raise the standard of physical efficiency of the African people. When I paid a visit to the Northern Rhodesian copper mining area some years ago, I remember that I was told by the managers who employed the Africans 280 there—Africans who came from various regions in the tropical belt—that they had to feed them for a period of six weeks before they could do a decent job of work in a day. In any case, an African whom they had got from the tropical belt was equal to only one-sixth of a white man in physical efficiency. That is to say that six Africans were required to do the work of one white man. The conditions may be better now. I hope they are, but, frankly, I do not think they are. I do not think they are any better than conditions which exist in other parts, in Malaya for instance.
I have put forward the definite suggestion that every area should be self-supporting in the production of food. It is possible in the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, and I understand it is possible also in the Gambia and I believe in East African territories, which I have not visited. There should be a wholesale sanitary campaign in the Colonial Empire, in order, so far as possible, to get rid of mass infection. I have not even mentioned worm infection, which is one of the worst kinds. The infections are all seriously lowering to the physical energy and vitality of the people, and they can be got rid of if, under medical direction, a sanitary campaign is organised through the tropical belt in Africa. There should also be a survey of the physical resources, with a view to improving the physical efficiency of the population. We should get to know more about the actual physical resources in the land. I believe that we could make tropical Africa rich and prosperous, and helpful in world economy. It could also become an exporter. There is no particular difference between Africans and Europeans in general efficiency, and there is no reason why the Africans cannot do what I suggest.
With regard to education, I agree with the general view of this matter that we should not attempt to be too detailed in our preliminary educational methods. I would like to see the mass education of the African people, to teach them to read and to write, a mass education involving a mass battle against illiteracy such as was undertaken by the Soviet Union in the early days of its existence. If we do that, if we give the Africans good nutrition and the abolition of a large number of infectious and contagious illnesses, and if we develop a large part of the resources which 281 are lying there, where they have lain since the world was created, we shall be doing something to justify the faith of people who returned us to the House of Commons to form this Labour Government, and we shall have begun the real socialisation of the Colonial Empire.
§ 5.54 P.m.
§ Colonel Ponsonby (Sevenoaks)
I have recently returned from East Africa. Like the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest), I believe that many of us who can visit the Colonies should contribute facts and interesting items which can help this Committee to understand our Colonies. While hon. Members may discourse in a general way about the Colonies, I would almost say that, without going there, they should not endeavour to pick out a specific Colony for discussion. They should go there first. I hope that every effort will be made to get as many hon. Members as possible out into the Colonies, so that they can he in a position to contribute to our Debates, and it is important that anyone going to the Colonies should go there with an open mind. When I went to East Africa on behalf of the Joint East African Board, of which I have been chairman for some time, I did so partly in order to increase my knowledge—I had been there three times before—and it was essential for the Board to know exactly what the postwar problems were. I went there also because of discussions which had taken place over Colonial Paper 191, which, as the right hon. Gentleman has already said, was published last December. Discussion has taken place since then, but it is now seven months and no decision has been arrived at.
Over there I found a great many different points of view. While this Paper is principally an administrative measure to create effective machinery for the coordination of the common services with other services like research and defence, which are common to all the countries, the chief discussion centred around political and racial aspects. The suggestion of equal representation of Indians in the Legislative Assembly was the crux of the whole matter. It was objected to, in public and in private, by a very large number of Europeans, and also by Africans who were able to understand the problem. All parties are agreed that the old Governors' Conference is now out-of 282 date and ineffective, and that something different must be done. I most certainly think that agreement will be reached. I hope that when the Under-Secretary of State goes to East Africa in the near future, he will be able, with his usual tact, to effect a solution.
Perhaps, since the Under-Secretary is present, I might give him a bird's eye view of the country and its problems. It all comes back to the economic aspects of the matter—how are those countries to produce enough wealth in order to enable them to carry out their social services and not be dependent on this country for financial assistance? The answer to that question comes down to how much wealth can be produced, and how it can be produced. One difficulty is that in those territories there are a great number of tribes with different languages and different customs. They all have one common denominator, speaking generally—a great love of leisure and a great disinclination to work.
§ Colonel Ponsonby
There is very little wealth in the country. There is some gold in Kenya and a little tin and gold in Uganda, and there are gold and diamonds in Tanganyika. There is nothing that would employ a very large population. It is unlikely that many large industries will develop there. We therefore come back to the fact that the future of these territories depends entirely upon agriculture and the work that is put into the land. We must realise that the African is still primitive in his habits, customs and methods. There are few incentives to him to work, and it was a great shock to many people to find from the report of Major Orde Browne, the Native Commissioner at the Colonial Office, that the average amount of work put in by an African was 23 hours per week. Generally speaking, they will work well enough to keep themselves from starvation. The Minister said that we must speed up their economic development. I am sure he has read the despatch from Sir Philip Mitchell, which is the clearest exposition of the agrarian case for East Africa that I have ever read. When it is published, as I hope it will be, it should be read by everybody, and they will then understand the position. I remember discussing this with the Governor. He said that new 283 methods and new ideas were necessary so that the African would break away from his old primitive form of cultivation; he added that one ignorant man and his wife with a hoe provide a totally inadequate foundation for an enlightened state of society and the creation of wealth for social services. That is our great problem. We welcome the ideas of political development to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but economic development must come first.
The hon. Gentleman who is going to East Africa will meet with a large number of problems. I deal only with three of them—first, the racial problem; second, population; and, third, the utilisation of land. One of the examples of racial cooperation, where there have been difficulties, is Canada, where the English and French had to learn to grow up side by side. Here in East Africa we have three types of civilisation trying to grow up side by side, and they will have to continue to exist side by side, in the future. We have our own European civilisation, which has been worked out by trial and error, for 1,500 years; we have the Indian type of civilisation; and we have the African civilisation, as one might call it, except that it is only 50 years since the Africans had contact with any civilisation at all, and, of course, it has no background but tribal fighting and bush life.
As to the Europeans, the hon. Gentleman opposite has made very graceful references to their pioneer work. As one travels through that country, it is wonderful to see the extraordinary development of farms and plantations. One must also remember that a large number of these Europeans have, during the last 40 years, devoted a great deal of time and leisure, as we do in our civilisation, to voluntary public service. The Indian type of civilisation is quite different, based on the teeming populations of India, and on different ideas of government. What we have to think about in the future is whether these people, with their different codes of behaviour, different standards of hygiene, competing religions and their Eastern outlook, should share equally—and I emphasise the word "equally"—in the task of assisting African development with those who have undertaken the task on the basis of European ideals and Christian ethics. There is another aspect. Except for two 284 or three sugar plantations and two or three sisal plantations, the Indians are not interested in agriculture. There are some able men, some rich men and some who take an interest in public affairs, but even they would admit that the majority of Indians really do not belong to East Africa at all. They are looking over their shoulders to India, and, when they are politically minded, they will frequently call upon the Indian Government to approach the India Office to speed up the Colonial Office, showing that they do not look upon themselves as East Africans but still regard themselves as Indians. In those circumstances, many people in this House and in East Africa would agree that it is not fair that they should share the burden equally of helping the Africans to reach a state of civilisation.
As regards the Africans, in those territories there are about 12,000,000 Africans, and very few of them are highly educated. Very few are in a position to lead. There are some very good, sound, tribal chiefs, and a certain number of well-educated men who are now, as the right hon. Gentleman said, working in the legislative councils and the provincial councils. But generally speaking they are few, and, as I have said before, they have not the background that Europeans have in matters of government and administration. However, I would welcome the admission of as many Africans as possible to various bodies so that they can contribute their knowledge of their own people, and—perhaps more—so that they may learn the arts of citizenship, statecraft and administration. If these three types of civilisation face the future and the facts with courtesy and good will and understanding, there is no reason why the problem should not be solved.
I now wish to say a word about population. While we have not in East Africa the problem of the West Indies, where populations are doubling themselves on those islands as if within a ring fence, we have a very largely increasing population in East Africa. We have a possible solution there because a great deal of additional land is available. The third problem which will face the Under-Secretary when he goes there is that of the utilisation of land. I will not talk about farming control, though European farming has been very strictly controlled, 285 as we have been during the war, the new ideas of European settlement, the new ideas for African settlement, the possibilities of cooperative and collective farms and so on. I will give two examples, mainly from Kenya, in order to show that the real problem with which we are faced now is that of soil erosion. At a time when we want extra land for these increasing populations, huge areas are being denuded. I went through two reserves. In one I was pleased to find action being taken. There was a very live, active and intelligent chief working with a splendid district commissioner, turning out people from his villages to terrace the slopes and to grow grass. There they were also beginning to fence in their small farms for cattle. On the other side of the picture, not very far away, the chief was not so good and there was scorched, yellow, cracking soil, which comes when the top soil is washed away. About 100 miles away on another reserve I stood on a part of the land farmed by Europeans. That part of the land was set aside for those natives who worked on two big dairy farms, and there they were only allowed to, keep a certain number of beasts. I was lucky to be there during the rains and I found good, green country with plenty of grass and everybody happy. Just beyond were the hills rising up to the Wakamba Reserve, which was absolutely denuded of top soil, with nothing growing on the hills at all, and here about 250,000 people existed. They still continued their native customs, breeding cattle because cattle is money, and money means wives. This walking money all this time has been denuding and ruining this particular country.
Hon. Members may ask why. I will not go into the past, but there has been a tendency for this country to resist any interference with native habits, with native reserves, native land tenure, and with the native customs. Over the last 20 years, this tendency has drifted on, but action is necessary. What can be done? Luckily there is a considerable amount of extra land, some of it not proved for water, and a great deal of it known to be infected with tsetse fly. However, here is the programme. Part of it has been thought out already. We should select these new areas, make dams or drill for water, and then clear the scrub and trees. It is not so difficult now when it is pos- 286 sible to use the bulldozer. After that, it is absolutely necessary gradually to move the existing population. They must be taken away from these eroded places altogether. When this has been done, there must be strict conditions as regards cultivation. That means limitation of population and cattle. When they are settled, there can be reclamation of the other /and by terracing and planting grass. Ultimately, perhaps in five, seven or ten years, it will be possible for these people, if they wish, to go back. It has to be done. The cost will be great, but it is absolutely necessary and, of course, it entails interference with the system of reserves, with native land tenure and native customs. It is either that or starvation. Already 18 districts in Kenya itself are receiving famine relief.
During the war the Army put out an extraordinarily fine system of propaganda amongst the villages to explain to the villagers what happened in the Army. If something of that sort can be done to explain to these people how necessary this action is, it would help greatly. In addition, of course, there are the chiefs and the head men and the ex-Askari who will soon understand. We have been subject to controls during the war and I am perfectly certain that over there, these controls are now necessary, not in order to fight for civilisation but to avoid starvation. All I would say to hon. Members and to people in this country and out there is that it is essential, when this scheme, after proper planning, is put into operation, that it should be supported in the House of Commons, in the Press, and in every other way. Otherwise we shall slide into a situation which will be a disgrace to this country.
Lastly, I would say one word to the hon. Gentleman who is going overseas so soon. In my view, the Colonies should not be a party matter at all. Both the right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have indicated that, and I think the only way the Opposition would come into it as an Opposition, would be if the Government in power were weak, if they made bad appointments, if they vacillated or showed lack of courage. Apart from that, however, we should all move forward and, instead of criticising, be constructive as far as we can. I am sure the Under-Secretary will agree with a great deal of what I have said, because we have worked together and talked together in the past. 287 I know that he will have a very hearty welcome. I would tell him that he has some very difficult problems to face, but I give him all the best wishes that I can.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
I was sorry to hear the hon. and gallant Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) say that Colonial affairs should not be a party matter. I have no desire to be extremely controversial on this occasion, but I hope he will allow me to differ. After all, policies depend on certain basic principles of government or administration and, as far as I have seen it in my 40 years of public life, the principles which the present Opposition have followed in their Colonial administration and their Colonial development have been entirely different from the political principles of the party with which I have been associated on this side of the Committee.
I listened today as intently as I could, as the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary read out his speech. Obviously, it was a considered, detailed, definite statement of policy. I listened to see if I could possibly gather some little gleam or glimmer of any difference from the policy which he said had been laid down and consolidated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). I could not possibly see any hope that the Labour Party was making anything new with regard to Colonial affairs and Colonial development. I would go on to say, as I have said before in the House of Commons, that welfare work in the Colonies is not enough. Development is not enough. Trusteeship is not enough, not from the Labour Party point of view. I understand the old legalistic idea of trusteeship put forward with great condescension, help, and good will from the other side, but I cannot understand why there is not some difference in the policy enunciated from this side of the Committee. Cannot we regard Colonial human beings as our brothers in a system of brotherhood? It is known that occasionally a big brother smacks his brother, and has to correct him. In the normal struggle of family life he has to guide and help him—but why trusteeship? Have we not realised that these people are human beings, brothers of a different race and colour, but capable of great economic, cultural and intellectual 288 development? Can we not help them to go forward? To my great regret, I once said of the right hon. Member for West Bristol, for whom I have the greatest affection and respect, in a rather satirical humorous fashion, that although at one time I thought he was going to make one of the most excellent Colonial Secretaries, after some of the things he had said in a Debate I thought he was going to make the worst. He very nicely reprimanded me. I think I did him an injustice, which I want to retract, because now when I see prospective Labour Colonial Secretaries climbing up the Jacob's Ladder of Ministerial office and departing from what should be the really basic principles of Labour's Colonial administration, I think I was not fair to the right hon. Gentleman.
I think the Colonial Secretary might have said something about reports that have been issued, and surveys made by officers of his Department, on such things as nutrition, for example. He might have told us something not only in regard to private ownership and exploitation of the natural resources of Africa, of the silver, gold, and copper mines, and the great boom taking place there now, but of how the native population are faring under this great boom. He might have said one or two words about the Nigerian Government-owned coalfields and the supply of coal to the Nigerian Government railways. It was proved that the men working there had no protection for their legs, even in a Government controlled coalmine. When, on the advice of an officer, they were given protectives the leg accident rate dropped 100 per cent. in one year. I think the Colonial Secretary could have said something of what he proposes to do about the housing and nutrition of these people.
I want to speak of that part of the Colonies in which I am specially interested, and which I know best. It is true that my last visit was just before the war, but I have read much and corresponded with friends, and think I can speak with some knowledge of the Caribbean. The right hon. Gentleman has told us about the variety of the population, but surely we can have regional uniformity, say, in the Caribbees. Why should Jamaica have that excellent constitution given by the right hon. Member for West Bristol, when he was Colonial Secretary, and Barbados, which has a 200 years old constitution and a regular House of Commons 289 and House of Lords, while the Windward Islands have barely an unofficial majority? Until recently they had not. Why are there still nominated members of the Legislative Council, and not uniformity of constitution throughout the Caribbees? Are the Leeward Islands to be brought into a federation with the Windward Islands, with a different constitution? The desire is there, and the principle is there, but have they been told that the constitution is to be changed and they are to have universal suffrage, arid a central federal Government? They should be given political uniformity. I wish the hon. Member, in replying, would give some indication, not only of the excellent Governmental arrangements, but also of how the constitution is to be changed for closer unity. Closer union under Crown Colony government will not be accepted by the rising politically-conscious people of the islands of the British West Indies.
I have heard the Colonial Secretary speak about people being uneducated through no fault of their own, arid I know that many of them are backward. Take the case of the ordinary woman in the West Indies. She is born under very bad conditions, far from any infant welfare provision. In some islands there is compulsory education, but there is a very indifferent roll call. There is no school feeding, and no provision for health, and no transport to schools. Children have to travel many miles to school. The Royal Commission to the West Indies in 1935 had evidence that parents in Barbados were so poor that they allowed their children to run naked over the Estates, and the Government could take no legal action under the Compulsory Education Act, because the parents would have then proved their poverty and inability to send the children to school. In Barbados there are about 16 different parishes each with its transport board. While there are excellent roads in some parishes, they are very bad in others. When is something to be done to unify these conditions?
Most of the juvenile delinquency is of a sex nature. When a girl becomes a woman her wages are 1s. a day. She is tempted by a man, as is sometimes the custom, not with the promise of marriage, but under what is known as accepted concubinage—that is, they live together in some sort of married life without the legal ceremony.
§ Dr. Morgan
They may do that in Scotland, and in other parts of the world, but it is done much more in the West Indies. The woman has an illegitimate child, and gets more out of the affiliation payments than she did in wages. She tries again. Another man does the same thing to her. She gets a second affiliation order. She has no education, no adult education, no culture. No one bothers with her. She is left to sink lower and lower. She has no vote. Her father and mother never had a vote. She can do nothing to raise the social or economic conditions surrounding her. Will anyone say that she does not need some help?
Why not let the Government have some model farms? Why not do it on cooperative lines, forming Caribbean cooperative societies sponsored by the Government, giving family allowances to the legitimate children of the people who follow cultural methods? Give them a village centre. I have been to the West Indies and have never seen a decent, picture on the walls of a primary school; sometimes not even on the walls of a secondary school. From the point of view of that woman alone the status of womanhood should be raised in the West Indies, and the children should be regarded as they are regarded anywhere else. No matter what our other work may be, no matter what medical services may—be may provide all the universities we like—until we embark on increased political education and development, the West Indies will remain in the slough of despond in which they have been for a long time.
To take radio as an example, I wonder if my right hon. Friend can tell us what has been done from the point of view of using radio for education in the schools. This was re-commended by the Royal Commission. Members of this Committee and the public should read their Report, the most damaging document or prewar Colonial administration that has ever seen the light in this House. What has been done since the Commission recommended the use of radio as a means of education? Is there radio transmission of school tuition during school hours, both in the secondary and primary schools, as is done here? How is the radio being used in the 291 West Indies from the point of view of cultural upliftment or education? It is no use sending one or two representatives from the British Council, who will meet people there who can sing, or talk, or can give a lecture, and suddenly having lectures, concerts, bands, etc., for about six months, with the whole thing then falling through. It is no use doing that. Things must be put on a right basis. I could go on as I have done in the past. Time after time I have talked about the social services, the medical services, the educational services, the exploitation of the labourer in not one but all of the West Indian islands. The people there are still waiting to see whether this Labour Government, after a year, having its first Debate in the Committee of the House of Commons, can really tell us something of the development that has been undertaken, apart from the expansion of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, the ideas and recommendations of which do not emanate from the Colonial Office but from the evidence given and prepared in the West Indies. I saw the documents before they were presented to the Royal Commission in several islands. The whole idea of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund emanated there, although it is true the Commission saw the work of the United Fruit Company in Jamaica and its welfare work there.
What about some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission? Take the question of population. Is it correct that the West Indies are over-populated? Is there not now a shortage of labour? Are we not taking an increasing number of people to work in the United States and increasing the shortage? Have we developed British Guiana yet? Are people on estates in the West Indies saying that they cannot get the men necessary to develop those estates? Let me compare the shortage of labour and the Commission's recommendation that there should be birth control centres set up in the West Indies—among these uneducated women with wages of is. a day—in order to teach them how to control the population increase. I asked on the Floor of the House, and I ask now, who is to pay for the condoms? I put it respectfully. I hope I am understood. Who is to pay for these articles? Who is to teach these people——
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
I wonder what the word "condom" means? I may be ignorant. Perhaps the hon. Member would translate.
§ Dr. Morgan
Because it is a certain contraceptive, and the word itself is practically anglicised and is the one to which I am professionally accustomed, and I naturally use the language which is customary to me. I am sorry if in aristocratic circles frequented by the right hon. Gentleman these words have escaped his notice.
§ Dr. Morgan
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman prefers plain English, but he will find this word has become so anglicised as to be found in every common or garden English dictionary. I see what the right hon. Gentleman's tactics are. He is trying to divert me away from something which is most damaging.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
We cannot have two hon. Members on their feet at once, and unless the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) gives way, the noble Lord cannot speak.
§ Dr. Morgan
I will not give way, because this is the way the noble Lord constantly tries, by interruption, to prevent people from making a really decent speech. This is of great importance to the West Indies. I am saying that the people in the West Indies, instead of having culture given to them, are the subject of recommendations made by this Commission, the Tory membership of which put forward such a proposition, against all recommendations by any religious denomination in the West Indies, asking for education and for culture. We try to relieve their over-population by telling them to do what we cannot even do properly in this country.
I could go on for hours, but I will not do so, as I have given a promise, which I shall keep. I only wish to ask my right hon. Friend again if he cannot select one 293 group of Colonies on a regional basis, and make that region a model of Colonial development from the point of view of political, economic and agricultural development, etc. I do not mind if it is not in the Caribbean. I do not mind if it is in East Africa, West Africa or Central Africa. Why not give them a little industry? The Japanese went far with the artificial pearl industry. We have every facility in certain Colonial territories for the development of the artificial pearl industry. It is only a minor matter but it is worth mentioning, when people are living there in a state of malnutrition.
I note a quotation by my right hon. Friend from a document about the nursing services, for which I am very glad. A great improvement is being made in the training of West Indian nurses in hospitals in Britain. Credit is taken for that, but it was in my original memorandum. I wish to ask what is being done with regard to the other industrial schemes for the communal population of the West Indies since the issue of the Report. In reference to Antigua, I want to know whether these conditions still exist. The Report says:On questioning nearly 2,000 children it was found that 35 per cent. drink practically no milk, and the rest an average of less than half a pint per day, most of it being taken on Sunday; 71 per cent. eat few or no eggs; 67 per cent. eat little or no meat, and 11 per cent. eat little or no fish. Green vegetables were, however, included in 71 per cent. of the dietaries.Because of malnutrition and want of vitamins, medical services, good hospitals, tuberculosis sanatoria are needed. The local population want uniform constitutions and a federal constitution, leaving insular Legislature power to deal with minor problems. Here we are still trotting along or marking time in the barrack square of Colonial development, still doing the same old things we did 50 years ago and only now and again putting on a new pair of shoes, doing a new march or turning in a new direction, and thinking that we are changing the whole of the conditions there. I ask the Labour Government to arrange another Colonial Debate not on a Supply Day given by the Opposition but on a day given by the Government. I hope by that time the Government will be able to tell us that they recognise that the pace which they have been making is too slow and that 294 they will do something to elevate the whole population of the West Indies.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Captain Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
It is not often that I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) but I am in full agreement with the note on which he finished his speech. I refer to the question of federation in the Colonial Empire and particularly in the West Indies. I intend to confine my remarks to the territory about which he has spoken. I had the privilege of visiting the West Indies not long ago. When the Minister replies, I want him to tell us how far the Government have progressed on the question of federation. Reference was made to that topic by the Colonial Secretary, and I would like to know how far the memorandum sent out by the late Colonial Secretary has been acted upon with regard to the Windward and Leeward Islands and whether any progress has been made with the other Colonies in the Caribbean area. I feel that the time is ripe for greater strides to be made in this direction and with a little encouragement, and perhaps assistance, from the Colonial Office I feel confident that most of the Colonies would come into line. They could start with the introduction of a uniform currency and postal services communications.
I wish particularly to dwell upon the question of communications. On more than one occasion I have asked the Colonial Secretary and the Ministry of War Transport what was being done to bring about better shipping conditions between this country and the West Indies. I am told that today, in spite of promises which have been made about building ships and getting shipping lines to operate, the situation is even worse than it was a year ago. Thousands of people who have been in the Services are waiting to get home. Thousands of men who brought their wives and families here are stranded because there is no shipping. The same thing applies to the transport of goods. Tourist trade is at a standstill because there is no shipping. Instead of going to our Colonies, as I know a good many people would otherwise do, tourists today are flocking to the Continent. That is a problem which should be tackled seriously by the Government. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will do what he can. He must ginger up the Ministry of 295 Transport who, a year after the end of the war, still control our shipping. On this question, our hands are tied. Everyone connected with shipping today knows that it is just as hard to charter ships as it was at any time during the war. It is my impression that the whole shipping situation has been grossly mishandled by the Government and a great scandal will he revealed, unless something is done to unloosen the strings.
The right hon. Gentleman made his first survey of the Colonial situation since he took over this important office a year ago. This is the first public announcement on Colonial policy which we have had since the present Government came into office. A year is a long time to wait. The people in the Colonies which I have visited, and who communicate with me, were very anxious to know what was the Colonial polity of the Government. As has been mentioned already, the policy of the Government does not differ very much from the excellent policy laid down by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). Certainly I have no complaint about that. There was one thing in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which I welcomed. It is something which I have advocated for years. I refer to the setting up of a Development Council. I hope when the Under-Secretary replies he will tell us a little more about the form which it is to take. We wish to know exactly what kind of board it will he and what functions it will perform.
The Colonial 'Secretary will probably find in his files another suggestion which I made in regard to the machinery of administration in our Crown Colonies. We found in our travels that Colonial Secretaries, for instance, who were responsible for practically the whole of the administration of a Colony were grossly over-worked. Administration was held up very often because of the fact that the office of Colonial Secretary was a bottleneck through which all things had to pass before they went to the Government. To my mind, that is a completely out-of-date, archaic method of administration. What should be done is to decentralise administration. Members of the Legislative Council should take over responsibility for certain departments of State thus relieving the Colonial Secretary of a great deal of work and giving him and the 296 Governors an opportunity to get away from the office stools to which they are tied because of the large amount of paper work. Let them get about their Colonies to see what is going on. I am told that system was adopted in the East African Colony by Sir Philip Mitchell, who is a very progressive Governor, and I am informed that it is working exceedingly well. I would like to see it carried out in other Colonies as well, as I am convinced that too much of the actual administration of a colony falls upon the Colonial Secretary and it is getting more burdensome all the time.
I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman pay a well-deserved tribute to the contribution which the Colonies made during the war. I go further and say that, if it were not for the contribution, made by the Colonies in men, materials, money and the bases from which to operate, we could not possibly have won the war. They certainly made a great contribution. I would like to have the story of the Colonial Empire's effort during the war written and published. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to put that work in hand. There are people, in his own Department, perhaps, who would gladly do it, and there certainly are, I know, people who are capable of making their contribution to that task and who would gladly lend their skill towards it. It is a story that should be told. It is one of the most romantic stories in our history—the story of the way in which the Colonies came to our aid in that critical time of the nation's history. To give only one example, there was the case of the supply of bauxite from British Guiana by means of which we were able to provide the aluminium supplies which made our aeroplanes to win the war. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will put this matter in hand.
The Colonies have serious problems, and they are chiefly economic problems. They are committed to schemes of social development and of political development, but, as everyone admits, these must go hand in hand with economic development. So far as economic development is concerned, it is really difficult for some of these Colonies to make any progress so long as they are tied to a one-crop economy. I want to know what is being done by the Government to encourage alternative industries in these Colonies, 297 because it is not only bad but dangerous policy to have a colony dependent on one product or one industry, and I want to know what are the plans for establishing new industries in these Colonies. In the Bahamas, the introduction of agricultural development during the war brought about a tremendous change, which was a revelation to me and to the whole world. I saw farms which had been cut out of the hush which had been producing all the food that the island needed during the war. For years before I was told that there was nothing they could grow. The development schemes I saw were carried out by Americans who showed us British what could be done, and to me it was a revelation, and a wonderful demonstration of what can be done by anybody who makes up his mind.
I also want to know what the right hon. Gentleman is doing towards improving the shipping facilities and the air communications with the West Indies and the inter-island communications. What is happening to British West Indian Airways? Have they got their new machines? What machines have they got, and what services are they, running? This is a company which cost the Colonial Office a good deal of money, but there is no reason why that line, properly managed and run, should not be very efficient and pay its way and pay a dividend as well. There are other industries in the West Indies that require encouragement and development. There is the cigar industry in Jamaica. Owing to the fact that Cuban cigars were cut off from us during the war, the Jamaica cigar industry made tremendous strides, and the cigar manufacturers in Jamaica are anxious to know if the preferences which they have enjoyed, are to remain in force, and what encouragement they will be given in future to develop their industry. Their cigars have greatly improved, and, no doubt, there could be greater improvement still. If they could be encouraged, there is no reason why they should not knock out the Cuban cigars altogether. At present, they do not know whether Cuban cigars are to come in here again and knock them out. They should be given some in formation on that point so that they may plan their future. I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has given us the assurance that his Government are committed to the policy of Imperial Prefer- 298 ence. I hope he will tell the people of the West Indies where they stand. They deserve a long-term policy as much as our own agriculturalists because they have to make their plans.
A great deal has been said about social policy and social administration and how these are being developed. But it is no use trying to develop social policy unless it goes hand in hand with economic policy. I hope that, when the Government consider these things, they will realise that the Colonies, if they are to carry on at all, must be run on sound economic lines. They cannot always rely upon the Government here for financial assistance. I must pay my tribute, like my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol and other hon. Members, to the policy adumbrated by the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is a sound, Tory Colonial policy and I give it my support however embarassing it may be for the right hon. Gentleman.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)
In his eloquent speech, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) maintained, quite rightly, that it is desirable that economic rehabilitation should precede constitutional advance. Towards the end he referred to the urgency of Colonial problems today. He indicated to us some of the reasons why the problems which he had carefully thought over when he first began to study Colonial matters, were not capable now of the answers which then he would have assumed would have been suitable, and he particularly queried whether the choice was still valid for the Colonial peoples between a Western economy and what he termed a tropical economy. In the same way as the times have in that way outdated earlier economic solutions, so the development of thought in the Colonies has made urgent a concurrent advance in political self-determination with the great measures of economic rehabilitation to which the Colonial Secretary referred. I think that it was, indeed, the emphasis which the Colonial Secretary put on the tremendous constitutional advances within the Colonial Empire, which marked the chief point of difference between the policies of the Government and the Opposition.
It seems to me that the right hon. Member for West Bristol was proceeding, in his mind, at the leisurely pace which is 299 now outmoded, while the Colonial Secretary, "up against it," had to realise that times, indeed, have changed, and he has had to put in a great deal more work in his Department and throughout the Colonies in one year than has ever been attempted before even in so long a period as five years. Because of that, some of my hon. Friends and I are a little perturbed. We feel that we have gone rather fast, and we on this side like to see a pattern. In constitutional advance, we cannot see that pattern. We cannot see the wood for the many trees which have been planted and have grown up overnight. We would like the Secretary of State for the Colonies to help us by producing a main plan—not one to which every Colonial constitution shall slavishly conform, but a set of general principles shaped for the guidance of those who have to draw up these constitutions. We are not satisfied, for instance, that everything has been done that could have been done to frame constitutions in accordance with the wishes of the people. Would it be possible for some Colonies, for instance—I do not know, but I pose the question— to help to frame their own future by means of constituent assemblies? This course would have the advantage of admitting in practice as well as in principle the right to self-determination, which is what all the Colonial people want, and what I have always been told is what the party on this side of the Committee stands for.
If it were possible to use the method of a constituent assembly, it should not be forgotten that the mere election of a constituent assembly presupposes that some of the decisions inherent in constitution-making have already been arrived at. For instance, if the constituent assembly were elected by adult suffrage, it is not to be supposed that that assembly would opt for anything less than that in the constitution adopted. I do not know if there are any Colonies which could use this method, but we would like to know whether it has been considered, because we have to work nowadays in cooperation with the Colonial peoples. We cannot just adopt a patronising attitude because they want to cooperate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol made an eloquent plea for the planning of Colonial welfare schemes not to be done centrally 300 in London and imposed, but for every Colony in which development plans were to be used, to have an opportunity of making those plans, or helping to make them. That seemed to me to be very sensible, because it is a very fine example of learning by doing, which would make for training in responsible government in the Colonies. I feel that that is something to which we should look forward in future Colonial development; namely, taking the people into consultation and giving them definite responsibility for the planning of their own future. I think the time has arrived when we should discard the time-honoured procedure of progressing from an elected majority in a legislature by slow stages to the final steps of, Dominion status. We must radically alter that procedure, because the people of the Colonies are far more impatient now. The war has done a lot to educate them. Many of them have travelled in the Services; thousands have returned with new ideas which they are teaching in the villages, and we want to help them develop the things which they have learned, for the benefit of their people.
The whole procedure towards responsible government must be speeded up concomitantly with advice from this country. There must be consistent consultation with, and recognition of, such organisations as grow up in a colony. We must realise that when they are intelligent and sufficiently educated to think about their problems and form these organisations, however suspect they may be to us, they are very real to the Colonies themselves. The safest and sanest thing to do is to show them the difficulties, take them into our confidence and say to them, "We have had a longer experience than you over a much wider field, but we will help you to understand how this problem has been tackled in other places. We will give you a measure of responsibility. We want to help you, and we want you to help us in solving the bigger problems." Hitherto, we have not done that. We have merely rebuffed these people and driven them into opposition. We have many Colonies today where there are organisations which could have been useful and could have helped this quick advance, but which are now actively hostile to the Government who want to help them along the lines they suggest, simply because we have been suspicious of them and have done all we could to 301 repress these movements. If organisation leads to the recognition and the sharing of responsibility, which is the next step, then there is a chance of ordered progress within the Empire and within the great Commonwealth of nations, because they will be recognised as men and brothers, as one hon. Member called them. If not, we shall be putting a premium on non-cooperation such as we have been faced with in India and in Ireland before that, and such as is now developing in Burma. Wherever we find people thinking seriously, we do not want to drive them into senseless opposition. If we do so, not only will we be hurting ourselves but we shall not be helping the Colonial peoples themselves to put their full effort into constructive self-help.
The point which worries me, as I know it causes concern to some of my hon. Friends, is the varied treatment of minorities in the different new constitutions as if a purely opportunist line is being followed. For instance, immigrants in Malaya are to have full citizenship rights in conditions which have not been granted in Ceylon. There does not seem to be any common pattern. That is what is worrying me. The right to parity of representation on the Executive, for instance, was not granted in Ceylon. It was argued that to give parity of representation on the basis of parity between the majority community and the two minority communities, would actually prevent the successful operation of self-government. In spite of that example, this right has been implicitly recognised, for instance, in recent developments in India, and in-the East African White Paper, on inter-territorial organisation. It is not suggested that the same solution would be always applicable in different circumstances, but there should be no question of a decision being determined by the pressure of different groups. In Kenya and Tanganyika small white minorities achieved parity of representation in the new inter-territorial organisation. Yet in other places a large native majority do not get this parity of representation.
I would be very interested to know what will be the eventual solution proposed for Malaya. Quite frankly, I do not like separate electorates; I do not like communal representation. Will there be communal electorates in Malaya? If that is the suggested solution, I think it is 302 fraught with danger. Does the development of such representation in Northern Rhodesia indicate this is the ultimate policy for those Colonies? We have heard from the Secretary of State of the development of a native council from which representatives will go eventually to the Legislative Assembly. That is building up a whole system of communal representation. I do not think anyone in this Committee would claim that that has been a success anywhere in the Colonial Empire or elsewhere. I do not want to detain the Committee, because I know there are a very large number of hon. Members who want to speak, and this is our unique opportunity. I ask that some general principles for the guidance of governors, and for the guidance of possible constituent assemblies should be drawn up. That does not mean to say one Colony should be governed on exactly the same basis as another. Since conditions and stages of development vary so widely, let us have some general principles within the framework of which we can see some common pattern emerging which will make for a real commonwealth instead of the present British Colonial Empire.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
I hope the Secretary of State for the Colonies will not think I am discourteous if I do not comment on the wide range of subjects with which he dealt in his review of the Colonial Empire. In view of the statement he made this afternoon about Malaya—a very serious statement I think—perhaps the best way in which I can spend my limited time now is to tell the Committee of my recent visit to that country, what I saw and the conclusions I drew. I do not want to say anything which will make the task of the Secretary of State more difficult, but he did make a very serious statement when he told the Committee that no agreement has been reached between His Majesty's Government and the Malay people.
I would like the Committee to realise, if they do not realise it already, that in Malaya we have the most serious political problem on our hands in the whole of the Colonial Empire, with the possible exception of Palestine. I do not need to remind the Committee of two things about Malaya. The first is, it was, before the war, the richest part of our Colonial Empire, and the greatest single source of dollar exchange. Secondly, it was 303 unexampled throughout the whole of the Empire and the whole world in the way in which four widely different types of civilisation managed to live together in friendship and harmony, and to cooperate together for the welfare of the country, which to three of them was the country of their adoption.
The first thing that struck me when I got to Malaya was that the war and the Japanese occupation had, luckily, surprisingly little effect, either on the basic economic wealth of the country or on the international relations. I am willing to hazard that Malaya will recover more quickly than any other part of Asia. It has not suffered the devastating damage of Burma or parts of Europe.
On what I would call the personal or moral side, too, although the Japanese did their best to poison the minds of the three Asiatic races against us, and also against each other, they had surprisingly little effect on people who had seen their relations carted off and butchered before their eyes. Nowhere in the world were British troops welcomed back as they were in Malaya, not as reconquerors but as liberators. All seemed set fair for a return of those happy political days of before the war, and of great economic prosperity. Then the tragedy happened, the tragedy of the MacMichael treaties. As the Committee probably realise, there are two basic political problems in Malaya which those treaties set out to solve. The first was, in a country which is only as large as England without Wales there were nine separate British protected States; and in addition there were the Strait Settlements, the British Colony, which comprised three settlements; in other words, twelve units of government in this small country. There was a very strong case, I might say an overwhelming case, for some centralisation or federation. I am hound to say, though it appeared illogical on paper it worked very well before the war. One could make out an equally strong case for greater centralisation in the government of London.
§ Mr. Gallacher
The hon. Member says it worked very well before the war. Is it not the case that when the Japanese invaded Malaya it did not work at all, because the people of Malaya had no right of citizenship, and no right or opportunity of defending their country against the Japanese?
§ Mr. Gammans
On more than one occasion I have heard the hon. Gentleman put forward that picturesque account of Malaya. The only question I would ask him is, how would he expect people who were totally unarmed to defend the country? The defence of Malaya presented difficulties equally as great as the defence of many European countries, which were equally overrun by overwhelming forces.
The other basic political problem which faced the country was to try to clarify the status of the non-Malay races, who had definitely made Malaya their home, to whom the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) has referred —chiefly the Chinese. The position today is that there are Chinese who were born there, whose fathers were born there, sometimes whose grandfathers were born there. As we are envisaging democratic government in that country, it is right they should come along to the Colonial Office and claim equal political rights with the Malays and the other indigenous inhabitants of the country. I would make two points. The first is that on the two questions, of centralisation and granting political equality to the non-Malay races, there is no disagreement. There is no disagreement in this Committee, on either side, and there is no disagreement in the country itself. The Malays are prepared to agree to both of them, just as we want to. But I must make this point, too. There was nothing urgent about either of those two problems. There was no prewar agitation about either of them, and I would say there was nothing to justify fundamental changes, except by adopting the cardinal principles which I hope are accepted today by all political parties in this Committee, namely, examination, consultation and agreement. It is because that policy was not followed that we face the trouble we have today.
To quote the words of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Harrow, he said that we must act in cooperation with our Colonial peoples. I could not agree with him more. It is because we made those changes without acting in cooperation with the Colonial peoples that this trouble has, in fact, arisen. There was no consultation; there was no investigation; there was no Royal Commission; there was no Parliamentary mission. For some reason that I have never been able to understand, 305 His Majesty's Government decided to send out Sir Harold MacMichael to invite—and the word "invite," in this connection, means something quite different from what it means to most of us—to invite the nine sultans to surrender all their powers to His Majesty the King. I do not want to go over the Debates we had in the House on 8th March and 18th March, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the charges that were made then have never been answered. Every one of the rulers I met a month ago repeated them to me, and every Malay believes that the charges, that the rulers were forced to sign under duress, are, in fact, true. I hope that the Colonial Secretary is not tonight, or at any other time, going to defend that method, and to pretend that the sultans did not sign under duress.
§ Mr. George Hall
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? This is a very serious charge. I do deny that there was any duress used against the sultans, to sign the agreement.
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not want to go over the arguments that I used on 8th March, but if the right hon. Gentleman who, unfortunately, was not present at that Debate on account of illness, will look up HANSARD, he will see that I did make very serious charges against His Majesty's Government in regard to what the sultans themselves said in writing to me. They repeated those charges verbally. I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not going to deny that there was no consultation with anybody except the sultans. There was certainly no consultation with any of the other races, the Chinese, the Indians or the Europeans; and there was certainly no consultation with any of the Malays, except the sultans.
Why did the sultans sign? I remember that in answer to a Question the right hon. Gentleman about two months ago, on this very subject, said that the sultans had signed willingly, and could not now go back on their bargain. I asked every ruler why he signed. The answer I got from one is, perhaps, the best example I can give of all. He said, "For 80 years, if any emissary has come from Great Britain from His Majesty the King, and asked us to sign, we have signed automatically; because we have found by long experience that we have never been let down. We had found by long ex- 306 perience that whatever treaty we were asked to sign had been for the benefit of us and our peoples." He said, if I may quote his own words, "If I asked a friend of mine to cash me a 100 dollar note, I should not count the change in front of his eyes." That is the attitude that exists in the minds of the sultans today.
§ Mr. Skinnard
But is that not a rather different picture from one of duress? It seems to me that the picture which the hon. Gentleman is painting is the very opposite of that which is implied by the word "duress."
§ Mr. Gammans
Yes, but I do not want to go over the whole ground again. I suggest that if the hon. Gentleman reads the report of HANSARD, my point will be quite clear to him.
A short time went by, and then an extraordinary thing happened in Malaya, so extraordinary that, if I had not seen it with my own eyes, I should not have believed it. There arose a great national movement, in the towns and villages right up the rivers—a great national movement of the people themselves, who have made it perfectly clear that under no conditions are they prepared to accept these MacMichael treaties in their present form. I, who knew the easygoing Malay in the old days, a race which was not in any way interested in politics, would not have believed it could have happened in so short a time. There arose this great national organisation "Umno"—United Malaya National Organisation—which has branches in every village and every town in the country.
The tour which I made, from Johore Baharu in the South up to Alor Star in the North, by road over 500 miles, was in some ways the most extraordinary experience I have had in my life. At, literally, every village there were banners across the road carrying slogans saying, "Down with the MacMichael treaties. Up with the Malays." In the towns there were demonstrations with 5,000 to 10,000 people standing in front of us. But the most remarkable thing of all— by far the most remarkable thing of all —was the part the women were playing in this great national movement. In the 14 years I lived in Malaya I scarcely ever spoke to a Malay woman. But today they go up on political platforms and make 307 speeches; unmarried girls make speeches through microphones that would not disgrace anybody in this Committee. That has all happened in the short space of six months. If one can say there is such a thing as a national movement, then here it is.
The conference which we had between the representatives of Umno and the rulers at Kuala Kangsa left no doubt in my mind as to what this movement means. In fact, at the end of my tour I came to two clear impressions. The first was that this is a nationwide movement, embracing all, from the paddy planter to the sultan; and unless this question is settled we are going to see a rapid deterioriation in the situation. Unless he can settle it now, the right hon. Gentleman can expect a most intense campaign of non-cooperation of the whole country, which will spread from the refusal to pay land rent down to the defection of the police force. The head of Umno is a most moderate man, and so are the rulers. But let me warn the Committee that there are extreme wings of this organisation. There is a pro-Indonesian wing, which has made perfectly clear what they are after; there is a Communist wing; there is a strong nationalist wing; and a republican wing. Unless the moderates can reach a solution which takes into account Malay susceptibilities and Malay pride, then, as always happens in these sorts of cases, the moderates will lose control and the extremists will take charge.
Another impression left on my mind is, how easy this question is to settle. After all, the Malays are prepared to accept in advance what the right hon. Gentleman and the Government want to do. They are prepared to accept these two principles before we start. They are pathetically anxious to resume the old friendly relationships we have so long enjoyed with them. What, in fact, do they want? I do hope that I can be of some help to the Committee here. It is not so much now a question of their wanting practical things, although they do want those. The whole business now is in the emotional field; and anyone who has ever tried to negotiate when emotion has been aroused knows that then reason goes out of the window. The Malays have been hurt; they have lost faith in us. To them, the 308 first stage in settling this question is that the MacMichael treaties must go. To them the MacMichael treaties are badges of shame, dishonour, and inferiority.
Perhaps, the best analogy I can present to hon. Gentlemen opposite is the one which, I am sure, they will appreciate. The MacMichael treaties, to the Malays, are what the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act was to the trade union movement for so many years. As I listened to the Debate on the repeal of that Act, there was one speech which impressed me, and that was the speech of the Foreign Secretary, for one could feel in that speech the passionate sincerity of a man who felt that there was dishonour to him and to the trade union movement in the Act. I would say to hon, Gentlemen opposite that the Malays feel exactly the same about the MacMichael treaties. It is a question today of emotion, quite apart from everything else. But there is also the substance. It boils down to this. They want it laid down in a new treaty, that the declaration made in this House on 18th March by the Under-Secretary of State, that the Malay States are Protectorates and not British territories, is in fact true. Because now they simply do not believe it.
The Malays are prepared to say before you start that they will sign a treaty accepting the advice of a British adviser on all matters, with the exception of the Mohammedan religion and Malay customs. What more could the right hon. Gentleman want than that? What they want is State land to be vested in the rulers and not in the Crown, the prerogative of mercy to be left to the rulers, and the rulers to be able to signify assent to all legislation. They want a Protectorate and not a Colony; they want a Federation and not a Union, and they want a High Commissioner and not a Governor. If what the right hon. Gentleman said on 18th March is true, all these things which I have set out follow automatically. As to the central government—federal government as they would call it—they are prepared to concede in advance what the right hon. Gentleman wants. They agree that all subjects of government, except control of rural land, shall remain in the hands of the Federation. All they ask is that they shall have special representation on the Federal Council, to make it clear that it is a Protectorate and not a Colony. 309 I do not want to say anything about the citizenship proposal, because to my mind that can be left over for the time being. I would add, however, that the Malays are prepared to concede in advance that any non-Malay who has definitely and irrevocably made Malaya his home, and is prepared to forswear allegiance to any other Power, shall enjoy the rights which they enjoy.
That is the situation as I see it. It was especially tragic to me, who knew the old Malaya and lived in the atmosphere of trust and confidence between ourselves and Malaya which was built up slowly over 80 years, to hear a Malay ruler state publicly at a dinner, with the Press present, that he had been threatened by force if he did not sign. It was especially tragic to hear Malay officers in the Civil Service with whom I worked for many years, turn round to me and say that they had completely lost confidence in the good faith of Britain, and that we had destroyed in three weeks what it had taken us 80 years to build up. That is the situation which faces us today. All I can hope is that the right hon. Gentleman and the Governor will succeed in bridging this gap. It is a terrible tragedy, especially at a time when we have so many other commitments in our hands, that this one spot of Malaya, which for so long was an example to the Empire and to the world, should be given as it is today with political difficulties.
Before I resume my seat I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman three questions. Can he give the Committee any idea when the size of the Armed Forces in Singapore and Malaya is likely to be reduced? I know that this does not concern him personally, but perhaps he has some information which he could give us, because today the Army literally overlies the whole country. How many tens of thousands of troops there are in the country I do not know, but houses have been requisitioned by the dozen, and civil servants are trying to carry on living five in a house, which means they are unable to have their wives with them, and offices have been requisitioned. Surely, the Army must know what is to be the size of its permanent postwar garrison, and surely, the time has come when they can put up temporary barracks, which can so easily be done in the tropics, and get out of the big towns, where, incidentally, they can be doing very little training.
310 Has any decision been reached about the position of junior civil servants? I asked a question on this subject some weeks ago, and the right hon. Gentleman promised to investigate it. He knows the point. These men were left behind, and they were told by us to carry on with their jobs. Most of them did that, and when we returned we gave them three months' pay, not as a right but an ex gratia payment, whereas those European civil servants who were interned got full pay, or 90 per cent. of their pay during the whole period. What is embarrassing is that four Europeans who were left out of internment were also given full pay. Surely, here is a racial issue with dynamite in it. I hope that by this time the right hon. Gentleman has been able somehow or other to settle it.
There is also the problem of the civil defence workers in Singapore. I do not know whether the Committee realise it, but the widows of men killed in February, 1941, who were in the Civil Defence Service, have not had a pension, and that those men and women who suffered injury have not received a penny. Surely, it it time some decision could be reached in these cases.
My last point relates to the question of the price of rubber, which is causing very great concern locally. Until recently Malayan rubber was only 10d. per lb. when we were paying 1s. 6d. per lb. for Ceylon rubber. The local people, many of whom have suffered a good deal of damage to their estates, cannot see the justification for the Government paying 1s. 6d. per lb. to Ceylon and only 10d. per lb. to Malaya. Recently the price has been raised to 1s. 2d., and the Americans are buying natural rubber from us at that figure. They are still paying 1s. 6d. in Ceylon. I am told that they are paying 1s. 8d. for raw rubber in Liberia, and 4s. 8d. per lb. in Brazil. What conceivable reason can there be for the differentiation between this country and Malaya in the price of rubber? I am told that for the synthetic rubber we did not get under lend-lease terms we paid 1s. 8d. per lb. I hope that the Committee realise that 50 per cent. of rubber production is in the hands of the Asiatics.
I hope also that hon. Members will make their constituents realise the importance of the price of rubber in relation to 311 the standard of living of the people in this country. Rubber is the greatest single means of earning dollar exchange which we have. A penny per pound rise in the price of Malayan rubber earns us about £3,500,000 a year extra dollar exchange on prewar output. I think that we have made a pretty bad bargain with the United States. The best way I can illustrate it is by telling the Committee that before the war one pound of rubber used to pay for two pounds of raw cotton, whereas today one pound of rubber buys us one pound of cotton. In other words, the Americans have doubled the price pro rata of cotton to us while our prices have remained the same. Why is it that we have made this bad bargain? I think it is largely because we have gone in for State buying. I do not want to make a political point here, because it I were a sufficiently important man for Transport House to keep Press cuttings about me, they could easily dig up an article of mine in which I stated that I thought there was something in State buying. I have changed my mind, and I tell the Committee quite frankly that it is because in State buying or selling of raw materials it is no longer purely a commercial transaction; all sorts of other factors come into it of a political nature. I imagine that when this rubber-selling unit saw the Americans they were told by the Government: "Do not press the Americans too hard. Do not annoy them, or we may not get the Loan, or we may find them sticky over food, or difficult over the problem of Palestine." Once you start State buying or State selling, straight away political considerations come in.
§ Mr. Gammans
It is obvious that once the State is a buyer or a seller political considerations can very easily enter into, and do enter into it.
§ Dr. Morgan
The hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. I asked him whether he had any evidence to justify his innuendo, in connection with the American buying of rubber, that there was any political pressure brought to bear on the Government.
§ Mr. Gammans
I should have thought that the answer was to be found in the 312 price of rubber. What else could explain this 1s. 2d. a pound rubber? Perhaps the Under-Secretary can be more convincing that he was when we raised this matter on the Adjournment, when he indicated that the only reason that rubber was fixed at the present price was because the Americans refused to pay any more. I can quite imagine that, when they have a political hold on us in other directions. I hope that the Under-Secretary may enlighten us as to why we have thrown away £14million worth of potential dollar exchange unnecessarily, and why the rubber growers of Malaya, 50 per cent. of whom are Asiatics, are getting only 1s. 2d. per lb., when Ceylon is getting 1s. 6d. per lb. Finally, let us realise that we have a very serious political situation on our hands. Malaya could easily become a second Palestine. There is a need for haste, and a need for vision. I think that we have been guilty of a great. Imperial blunder. I say "we" because this goes far beyond any party. What is involved in Malaya is not merely the honour of the Labour Party; it is British honour which is involved. Many a time, when I was on the other side of the House, I listened to the present Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, when he was in Opposition, making a most eloquent appeal for justice for the Colonial peoples; burning with indignation because some injustice had been done, in his opinion, and carrying conviction even to his political opponents by his fire and his sincerity. I have listened to him standing at this Box warning the House that the Empire could not endure, and was not worthy to endure, except on the basis of full consultation with the Colonial peoples. I ask him and the Government of today, so far as Malaya is concerned, to be true to those convictions and to live up to the principles which his party profess.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams (Croydon, South)
I hope that when Parliamentary time is less occupied than it is at the moment we shall have a day to discuss the general principles which underlie our Colonial policy, and have other days as well in which to discuss regional subjects, such as the West Indies, Malaya, East Africa and West Africa, so that we shall not be compelled to leap about, as we are doing today, from one part of the world to another. I think that there would be far 313 greater weight in a Debate of that kind and, whether we like it or not, we shall be forced to do that very soon, because there are great changes coming in the Colonial Empire, particularly in the East. The tide of war has lapped the shores of many countries in the East; in fact, it has enveloped some of them. One of the results of this tide of war has been the rise of nationalism in various countries in the East for the first time in their history. When I recently had an opportunity of revisiting the Far East after a number of years, one thing which struck me more than anything else was the nationalism which was apparent then, and was not apparent 10 or 12 years ago. It is necessary for us to acknowledge that there are problems, to try to seek out what they are, and to tackle them with imagination.
The first problem which I would put before the Committee—and we all want to help the right hon. Gentleman because we realise the grave problems with which he has to deal—is the difficulty of developing primitive peoples without at the same time spoiling them. That now becomes very urgent, as I shall explain. In the first place, when we have developed, or tried to develop, a primitive people, the first thing that happens is that we break down tribal custom and replace it with impersonal rule—substituting the rule of the civil servants, for the rule of the chief or the monarch. Secondly, there has been an immediate breakdown in morality, because no longer have the taboos of the tribe been enforceable. Thirdly, and most serious of all, there has been a breakdown in the land system. The pernicious doctrine grows up that land is a thing that can be bartered as a chattel, instead of it belonging to the community as a whole. It is important to realise that practically every primitive people is a Socialist people; its capital, as it were, which is usually the land, is owned by the community, and it is only the income from the land which is ever considered as the property of individuals. That used to be the position in this country. After hundreds of years, we gradually gave up that principle. We are now going back to it, perhaps not under this Government, but I hope under a later one. Is it absolutely necessary to take this full cycle? Is it necessary to go back and to take primitive people right through the cycle—from Socialism into the industrial revolution, 314 then into capitalism, train there to State capitalism and back to Socialism.
There is one matter which has always struck me as being important. An ancient Greek philosopher said that the ultimate aim of civilisation was for two philosophers to be able to sit under a tree, and communicate with each other thoughts on a high level. Primitive people who sit under a tree today communicate low thoughts. Is it worth going through the full cycle of civilisation just to change the level of thought? [Laughter.] One can put it in that way and it sounds amusing, but there is much more in it, if you dig down into it. I am trying to show to the Committee that it is desirable to give these people the benefits of our civilisation—that is, to remove from them cruelty, superstition and disease. We have those things here, it is true, but I am speaking of what I hope we can do for them, if not for ourselves. We hope to remove these things from them, without, at the same time, destroying their culture and sculs. We can either exploit them—because any country in the East can become very wealthy if we wish to exploit the people— or we can work quietly through their existing organisations. I want to stress that particularly in the case of the people of Sarawak and in the excluded areas of Burma. As the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. H. Davies) said on another occasion, we cannot give them amenities as quickly as we would wish, but it is much better to develop them slowly, so that we shall not destroy their souls, thus keeping that part of their culture which is good.
This problem is acute in Burma, with which my right hon. Friend is not concerned today, but it is also acute in Sarawak, with which he has now to deal, as this territory has come under the Crown. It is important that on the first occasion when the Committee has an opportunity to deal with this new Colony that we should consider some of the problems likely to arise. In Sarawak, I found, as has been said elsewhere by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), that the Brooke rule was popular. We found no objection to it as such by a large proportion of the community. It was popular because it was personal. Anyone could go along to the Astana or palace and see the rajah, when he happened to be in the country. Therefore, I stress the importance of the first Governor who goes out being what I 315 might call of the "jungley" type; in other words, river-borne and not chair-borne. He should carry out the Brooke tradition of personal relationship with these people, and at the same time develop the country in a way which they were not in a position to do. I would say furthermore, that the whole of the government there must be river-borne. There are no roads, so it is essential that not only the district officers, but the services like health and education should be taken to the people on the banks of the river.
Development must be slow, much slower than otherwise would be the case. We could make Sarawak one of the richest countries in the world literally in a year if we wanted to and if we allowed wholesale immigration by the Chinese and wholesale exploitation by limited companies. I suggest, however, that we can do very well for the people by slow development of the natives, remembering their traditional customs, retaining those customs which are good, and not allowing European companies to come in at any price. Such industrialisation or mercantile business as is necessary should be done by nationalised companies; that is, companies owned by the Government. We do not want the old story of British industrialisation to be repeated in Sarawak.
The second problem—and this touches on the speech by the hon. Member for Hornsey—is the necessity of working out a schedule for the stages on the road to self-government. I am at one with my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on this point. I cannot at the moment see the pattern, as it were, of this development. Is there in the Colonial Office, a general staff committee working out the principles of this pattern for self-government? Do we in any Colony or any dependency for which we are responsible, have to go through Crown Colony government, then dyarchy, and on to representative government? Can we not short-circuit any of those powers? I am sure there are a lot of lessons to be learned from India, Ceylon and Burma which we could apply to some of the other territories. Malaya is on this road and at this moment is at a perilous point on it. I do not agree with everything that was said by the hon. Member for 316 Hornsey. I had the honour of listening to him on many occasions on the journey which he so graphically described today. I will not say that it was always a pleasure, because with the best will in the world, with the temperature such as it was, when one hears the same speech ten times over, one gets a little tired of it. However, I do not say that in any disparagement of the hon. Member.
This Malayan Union plan was a Tory plan. It was evolved two years ago, and I do not suppose I was the first to see it by any means. Sir Harold MacMichael was sent out before we came into office, and I must say I am extremely sorry for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, taking on a new office of this kind, in being plunged suddenly info this arena, and having to rectify some of the mistakes made by his predecessor. Everyone knows that these are the facts of the situation. No one can deny them. I found that the rulers in Malaya were reasonable. They were ready to agree to the main points which the hon. Member for Hornsey has stated tonight. That was not altogether so with the United Malay Nationalist Organisation. Some of the leaders were quite ready to comply on that point, but others were not, and I can quite imagine my right hon. Friend having some difficulty there. When I came home I found him very ready to discuss this matter, and I think he was very statesmanlike in his approach to it. I am at one with the hon. Member for Hornsey when he gays that he thinks this matter can be settled fairly readily. I do not think -hat the difficulties are on the part of the Secretary of State. The difficulty, if there is any difficulty, is in Malaya. I am satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman has done all that could be expected of aim, to meet them.
One asset we have and that is an immense good will. As hon. Members know, Colonial territories in the East and foreign countries often object to British people in the abstract, but have the greatest respect for them in person. At this particular meeting at Kuala Kangsar there were 6,000 or 7,000 Malays who came from the Siamese border right down to the sea. It was an immense task to get them to come to meet the hon. Member for Hornsey and myself. I was struck by the transport arrangements and knowing the difficulties—there is no public 317 transport in the country at all—I said to the organiser when we were sifting at tea with the eight rulers and the Regent of Johore, "I must congratulate you on the extraordinarily fine effort you put up, in getting all this crowd here in difficult circumstances. How did you really manage it?" "Oh," he said, "that was quite easy. The British Army did it for us." I turned to the rulers and said, "Your Highnesses, this is the one Empire in the world whose Imperial Army would bring the rioters to the riot." They laughed very heartily and they agreed.
We have got this bank of immense good will to draw upon, and it will be of great assistance to my right hon. Friend. If there is no agreement—should it not be possible to get any agreement—I would ask him to consider sending out to Malaya a Royal Commission. I think it would be the only way to deal with the matter, because as I say, it is not his burden. It has gone from him to the people in Malaya. If they cannot agree, I am sure that this House will only be satisfied with a Royal Commission, which can take into account not only the feelings of the Malayans but also the feelings of the large minorities—the Chinese, the Indians and others.
One matter we cannot as a Labour Party allow to pass is the economic and labour policy. I refer to the present policy particularly. My right hon. Friend sent out, while we were there, an economic adviser, who stressed the point that no longer must the economic life of Malaya depend on rubber and tin, that no longer must the eggs of the country be put into two baskets, but that there must be a more balanced economy. The statement of that policy is the most important thing that has happened there during the past 50 years. We on this side often criticise the Government Front Bench; we do not always give them bouquets, but when they do things which are in accordance with our principles we should praise them.
With regard to the introduction of trade union organisation, my right hon. Friend sent out an excellent man, Mr. Brazier, who is well known in trade union circles, and he and his colleagues did fine work in getting together the various trade unions in Malaya. They are having more success in the Colony of Singapore than they are in the Malayan Union. I had the honour of going with Mr. Brazier to 318 the first meeting of representatives of trade unions in Singapore. The Governor attended and spoke, and afterwards we had tea. This may sound rather trifling to Members who do not know the East, but when it is realised that most of the representatives were coolies, it will be appreciated what a change there has been when the Governor of the Colony has tea with representatives of the workers, who are mainly coolies. There was also a remarkable representative at that meeting— remarkable to me—the representative of the Dance Hostesses' Association. In the old days, dance hostesses used to be little better than prostitutes, because the people who ran the dance halls used to cut their wages, and they had to supplement them in that way. Now they have organised themselves into a trade union; they are registered and are looked after by Mr. Brazier, and they insist that their wages shall be sufficient for their needs without other income. I agree with the hon. Member for Hornsey that Malaya is a great country, with a great future. I believe that with good will on both sides the political differences can be easily settled, and I believe that my right hon. Friend is going the right way to settle the economic difficulties. There is no doubt about that.
I would like to conclude with a few general observations. First, I believe that there should be closer cooperation between the Colonies and the United Kingdom, and between the Colonies themselves and the other territories. Let me give an example of a matter in which I am interested. Jamaica, as the Committee knows is not only famous for rum but also for bananas. At the present time, whatever may have been said in the past, bananas are more important than rum, as we know from our constituents. But it so happens that Jamaica does not get an all-the-year-round crop of bananas; it falls off at a certain season of the year. In the Cameroons, for which my right hon. Friend is responsible, the banana crop flourishes at the time when it fades in Jamaica. One would have thought that it would be possible to balance one against the other, but it has not happened that way. Up to 1939, the Jamaica Producers' Association, which represents the small men in Jamaica, was getting bananas from the Cameroons to balance up the yearly crop, but in that year a change of policy came about under 319 the Tory Government, and the whole crop, since then, has gone to the United Fruit Company of Chicago, an American big business firm. I cannot see how we can expect these Colonies to survive if we do not help them to balance their products, one against the other. My right hon. Friend has given great help to the banana trade in Jamaica——
§ Mr. Gammans
The hon. Gentleman realises, I am sure, that the reason why the crop went to the United Fruit Company of Chicago was in order to earn dollar exchange.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I should not have thought that was so necessary in 1939, although I know that the hon. Gentleman is a much better economist than I. Even so, there are other considerations which are more important than dollars. It may not be that the bananas from the Cameroons were paid for in dollars, because Elder and Fyffes is 99 per cent. owned by the United Fruit Company of Chicago. Although they fly the "red duster" on their ships, they are, in fact, an American company. The only shares not owned by Americans are the directors' shares, in London. They may be using sterling to purchase those bananas, and not dollars at all. I ask the Minister to see whether he can assist these two territories for which he is responsible. I also consider that films are very important. The visual art has a very good approach to the native mind, particularly if the film is prepared in the Colony. If it is not prepared there, it has no value at all; in fact, it may do more harm than good.
Another minor point, which is more important than it seems, is the question of seeing that more honours go to Asiatics and the natives of the Colonies. I remember, in the past, how much the letters "J.P." after a name counted in the East. They have no functional value at all, because a justice of the peace does not carry out any duties whatsoever, but the mere fact of a man having the letters "J.P." after his name gives him tremendous status, and is something which he values enormously. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about this country?"] In this country, a justice of the peace has very important duties to perform. He has not only the honour, but a good deal of work to do. As I have said, a justice 320 of the pease has no work to do out in the East. The only time I remember a J.P. interfering, was in a riot with which I was concerned, and then he was on the side of the rioters.
Now I would like to say a word for the benefit of the staff in the various territories and Colonies. I ask the Colonial Office to streamline their cables. The staffs are small in these territories, and the Colonial Office, when it wants to send a cable, gets a scholarly clerk to write it in the best possible English. When I was in Sarawak, a much bigger quarrel was going on than any constitutional quarrel. It was between my right hon. Friend's representative, Mr. Dawson, and the Army at Singapore, over the body of a sergeant of the Royal Corps of Signals. If they had taken him away, the whole Mission would have collapsed, because no one would have been able to decipher the cables from the Minister. It is, therefore, important to streamline the cables from the Colonial Office to enable the machinery to move quickly. I think the Minister will have to abandon the laissez faire, laissez alter, system of the 19th century Colonial Office approach. He will have to have a dynamic approach, more in keeping with the great changes that are going on in Colonial territory. We on this side of the Committee appreciate his difficulties. I do not altogether agree with those who have been criticising, because I know only too well the great difficulties under which he has been suffering in the last few months, but now that these difficulties are smoothing out, I would ask him to try to get into the minds of all his officials and staff this new imaginative and dynamic approach, which we must have if we are to do our duty to the 65 million people for whom we are responsible.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Sir John Barlow (Eddisbury)
I consider that I am very fortunate in following the last two speakers, the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) and the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) As we know, they have just returned from the part of the world about which they have spoken with such authority, and for the reasons which the last speaker gave, that it is inadvisable in debates of this kind to stray too far, I propose to stay in the same part of the globe. I should, however, like to go just 321 a little further than they went in their remarks. They visited Malaya and Sarawak, which I used to know fairly well before the war, and I should like to go a little further and discuss the question of the British North Borneo Chartered Company, which owns the territory in the Northernmost tip of Borneo. The Minister made some reference to it in his speech today.
The British North Borneo Chartered Company came into being about 1880, when the rights of two sultans were given over to two individuals who subsequently formed a company which, in 1881, received a charter and which, I believe, is the last of the old chartered companies. Last autumn the Government made representations to the chartered company to sell their rights to the Government, which would take over the whole of that part of the territory. It is not very large, it has not a large population, and it is a part of the world about which people know very little. It is at the end of a long journey of nearly a thousand miles after leaving Singapore, and as there is nowhere to go beyond it people have to come back, and for that reason very few people visit it. I understand that the Colonial Office is negotiating with the company and has proposed a memorandum dealing with the acquisition of the territory and the shares. The board of the company say in their report to the shareholders that they feel they cannot resist the views of the Government that the latter should take over the company.
In this memorandum it is interesting to see that the Government have proposed to transfer the Borneo sovereign rights to the Crown. It seems a little difficult in these days to transfer for money—because money will buy the shares—the sovereign rights of a country. It seems particularly strange that a Labour Government should indulge in the purchase of sovereign rights. I gather that the two parties to this bargain have not yet agreed on a price, and it is likely to be the subject of an arbitration. I think it might be difficult to decide on how many years' purchase the political rights of the Borneo natives should be acquired. I should like to refer to other parts of the memorandum quite briefly. In Clause 10, Subsection 2(a), the memorandum lays down that the arbitrator shall value the shares on the net maintainable revenue 322 of the company, and at the same time it adds, in the next line or clause, that no compensation shall be given for war damage. I believe the Government have some responsibility to that territory for defence and for guidance in foreign affairs. If that is the case it is most unfair that the war damage caused by the Japanese invasion should be entirely ignored and no compensation whatever paid for it.
I should like to refer again very briefly to Malaya. I strongly confirm the views of the hon. Member for Hornsey, who has been there very recently, and has travelled the length and breadth of the country. I know the country fairly well from the days before the war, and receive very frequent reports from it nowadays. Undoubtedly, public feeling is running very deeply indeed in Malaya at the present time. It is extraordinary that such a change could come over such a contented country in so short a time. Before the war it was a very contented and happy region, and as soon as the Japanese were cleared out they welcomed the British probably with as great a joy as we were welcomed anywhere else in the world. Then the MacMichael Commission went out there and the whole position changed almost overnight. The sultans, who ha d trusted us implicitly in the past—and the natives had followed them—suddenly changed round, and I believe an ugly situation may arise there if it is not dealt with quickly and sympathetically. In the past the Malays and the Chinese were easy people to get along with, and I believe they still have a great esteem for us and want us to help them. They do not want us to grab their country in the way we propose to do it.
I should like to mention another important question, that of rehabilitation in Malaya. We know that when the Japanese were advancing and the estates had to be left, under instruction from the Government many buildings were burnt to the ground, many estates were flooded, and great devastation was done in the shortest space of time in order to lay the country bare. As far as I know the Government have not indicated that they intend to put the country right, to help the people to drain their land, to put up their buildings and reequip them with machinery. None of that has been decided upon, and as far as I know the only thing that has happened is that a corn-mission is now taking evidence out there. 323 As half the rubber estates belonged to Chinese and natives, it is important that that point should be settled. Another reason why it should be settled quickly is that there are quite a number of what I might call marginal rubber estates. If they are to have any hope of rehabilitation, the sooner the work is got on with the better it will be, both for the country and for the estates. If there is to be no hope whatever, it may easily be best to leave them entirely, and save what money is available for the best producing properties.
I want also to mention the question of starting up the palm oil factories and copra collecting. There is a very great shortage of fats in this country at the present time. Up till now, I believe that practically all the copra produced in Malaya has been consumed in that country, but I believe that, with more organisation, there would be copra available for export, and we all know how badly it is needed in this country. Two of the principal difficulties in the organisation and export of copra are inland transport—lorries on the roads—and water transport. Before the war, much of the copra was transported by river arid up the coast to Penang. Nowadays, the small junks are so scarce that it is impossible to do that, and the few junks that are available are usually attacked by pirates. More than one pirate gang is active off the Malayan coast south of Penang at the present time. I urge the Minister to consider the question of helping the production of copra both for internal use and for export. I urge the right hon. Gentleman most strongly to tackle the political question in Malaya as quickly and sympathetically as possible. I believe it is possible to settle it now in a satisfactory way, but if it is left to drift in any way—and we all know how easy it is for these things to drift—it may easily happen that there will be very serious consequences in the future.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Woods (Mossley)
I listened with great interest to the comprehensive survey made by the Minister, but I must confess that my appreciation was tinged with a certain amount of disappointment. I think all hon. Members will appreciate that, considering the immensity and range of the endless number of problems which confront the Minister and the Depart- 324 ment, a survey such as the Minister gave could cover only the fringe of the problems that are being dealt with by the Colonial Office. We also appreciate, especially on this side of the Committee, that those problems are considerably aggravated by the fact that we are in the transitional stage more directly in the Colonies than in any other field. The speech of the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Sir J. Barlow) was an excellent illustration of interest in the Colonies from the point of view of the profit to be made in various parts of the world by big business. Without doubt that was the main inspiration of Colonial expansion in the last century. There were vast fortunes to be made, and private enterprise, almost regardless of the interests of the native population, took advantage of the vast natural resources, the labour resources and the various materials required by the vast machine production and power plant in our own country. We had the age of Imperialism.
Long before the last war, the mass of people in this country had become much more enlightened. There was pride in the Empire, but that pride was tinged with shame, and long before the last war, enlightened workers realised that the Empire, in addition to everything else, had become to some extent a menace, because of the possibility of the exploitation of cheap labour, which would aggravate unemployment in this country. We are now in a stage in which we have begun to take a very human interest the Colonies, an interest primarily in the native populations. That was indicated by quite a number of speeches by hon. Members opposite, and certainly in the policy conducted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) when he held this important office. We were hoping, not without some justification, that the interest would be intensified, and I think it has been, to some extent, by the present Minister and the present Administration.
During the survey a good deal of time has been devoted to what has been done with regard to political development in the Colonies. One sympathises with anyone who tries to develop political organisation and political consciousness. We appreciate that it is worth while and of importance, but at one stage in his speech the Minister himself referred to the fact 325 that social and economic problems were more fundamental than political problems. Again, a fair amount of time was devoted to another very commendable development which is taking place—the wide range of educational work which is being carried out, and carried out, as far as my information goes, with sincerity and realism. I think the Minister himself would be far from satisfied with what has been achieved and would admit that much more has still to be done, but underlying both political and economic questions is the standard of living of the ordinary men and women in the Colonies. As I see it that is the big tragedy of the Colonies. The hon. Member for Eddisbury referred to one of the Colonies as being exceedingly wealthy. There may have been wealthy people there, but throughout the Colonies the bulk of the native populations arc victims of abject poverty, ignorance, disease and malnutrition with consequent weakness and incapacity to work on the necessary scale. All these things hang on the undernourishment and poverty of the native populations.
While the Minister acknowledged that fact, I listened very carefully for any hint that there was, so to speak, a direct frontal attack on this problem of poverty, and unless I missed something that was very important the only hint we had was the suggestion that some efforts would be made to improve the selling agencies, so that a more reliable and worth-while return for the sale of their products would be secured to the native producers. That not nearly enough. Let me take our own experience in this country as an illustration of the factors which have gone to raise the standard of living of the mass of the people. This is not primarily due to politics or education, except that education which is born of bitter experience. Trade unionism in this country, on the one hand, as a defence of the workers and a means to secure standards of living and to implement rates of remuneration, and on the other the cooperative movement, which has secured some control over the cost of living, are two organisations which are the products of the genius of the British people in tackling human problems in a human way. I think everyone will agree that every economist who writes on the last century pays tribute to the fact that these two organisations have done more than anything else to raise the standard of living of the people of this 326 country. I am convinced that if they were applied in the Colonies, they would have definite results, and would be in themselves the most potent educational force in building up self-help among those people.
I am not suggesting that there should he any stereotyped application of these principles. They must start with fundamental organisation, to raise the standards of cleanliness and sanitation, and where there is now little or no medical service they could provide it, but the very centre of the Colonial Office should be an organisation with the responsibility to advance in every way, every development of self-help and collective community organisation, so that the people themselves could bear the responsibility of raising their standard of living.
Much valuable work has been done by other organisations, especially in research, and those organisations could be built round those I have mentioned. The result of the research would thus be made available to the people on the spot. They could develop whatever latent and potential abilities there were in the area in which they lived. That would not involve more exploitation, for if the organisation of the nation was such that their increased knowledge, greater skill and utilisation of modern machinery was adequate, their standard of living would be raised and their purchasing power increased. That, more than anything else, would guarantee the unity and cement the fellowship of the peoples of the British Empire.
Theoretically, a few people may appreciate particular educational advantages for a microscopic Percentage of the community. A small -percentage who are interested in theories might have an interest in the development that took place in the political system. I am concerned with the whole population, who would appreciate, in a very real way, anything that helped them to raise their standard of living and to overcome the poverty which is the cause of their other trials. I suggest to the Minister that a Department which is vitally necessary to the Colonial Office is one controlled by men and women primarily concerned with the standard of living of the people in the Colony. Those people should have at their disposal funds and machinery, and we should see that every effort made in any part of the Empire by native peoples 327 to raise their own standard of living immediately received help and a sympathetic response from the Colonial Office. Everything humanly possible should be done to assist those people to achieve their aspirations without delay. Such a development would contribute more than any other factor to the solution of the problems which confront the Minister.
§ 8.33 P.m.
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
I do not wish to detain the Committee, because time presses, but before I proceed to my own remarks I would like to refer to other remarks which have been made in the course of the Debate. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams), in a most interesting speech, said that all primitive natives were Socialists. I believe that is true and it seems to follow that all Socialists are primitive. Be that as it may, I listened also with very great interest to the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan), who delivered a bitter attack upon his right hon. Friend. That hon. Member, who is not now in his place, seemed to think that the Minister should produce a patent medicine to solve all the problems. I am surprised at that doctrine from a doctor. As a new Member of this House, I am somewhat surprised that the Labour Government—I am not proposing to make a party speech—should not have a better policy to determine the future of the Colonial Empire. I am also surprised that we have waited a whole year before having a Debate on Imperial policy and the Colonies.
I am fully convinced that the future of mankind depends upon the problems which have been so ably discussed by the Secretary of State and by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). Those problems are far more economic and social than they are political. I feel very strongly that the more those problems are removed from the hurly-burly of party politics the better it will be for the Empire and for this country. A very heavy burden of debt will be inherited by our grandchildren, and it is for those grandchildren that we must plan. I believe that we have a moral duty to raise the standard of living of the Colonial Empire, and that by so doing we can, without exploiting Colonial 328 peoples, help to maintain and improve our own standard of living.
At the moment, I am in grave doubt whether this small island can maintain its present population and improve its standard of living. I know that all hon. Members hope that we can. Markets can be created in connection with the Colonial Empire without exploitation. I believe that a reasonable share of exports to those markets can he developed by this country. At the moment only 24 per cent. of the imports of the Colonial Empire come from this country. When the Americans and our other friends and Allies criticise us, they do not realise these facts, and it is the duty of this House Of Commons and the Press of the Empire to point out that the exploitation of which we as a nation, and not necessarily this party, are accused is very ill-founded. It is possible to turn round—I do not do so—and compare the action of some of our Allies in relation to their subordinate countries and dependencies, to their detriment as compared with the British Empire. After all, a country which received such wonderful support in the war from the whole Empire cannot have been entirely wrong in its colonial policy.
I will illustrate the economic benefits that can be acquired by a simple reference to Nigeria, where there are 20 million people with an income of £2 a year. If that income could be raised to £5 a year, a very large market would be created, which would, I hope, he filled not with tawdry Japanese goods, but with good British articles such as bicycles —which every native buys as soon as he has any money—razors, torches, electric light installations, and particularly the goods chemists sell. People in the Colonies stand in desperate need of such goods.
I am convinced that what we want from the Labour Government in January is not a United Kingdom manpower budget but an Imperial manpower budget. I cannot seen how this country can continue to develop and expand if it has to carry this tremendous burden of men employed on non-productive work. The Services, the men in munitions, arid the large number of civil servants and local government employees are not really productive workers. I ask the Minister to consult very carefully with the Service Ministers to see what economies can be effected 329 by employing the Colonial subjects of His Majesty in the Armed Forces. Nobody can say that the Maltese ack-ack gunners failed in their duty. No troops have a better war record. Without enlarging on this subject, I believe we can economise the deployment of our own manpower by giving an opportunity to serve to some of the Colonial subjects. They must have opportunity for promotion. I do not think anything but good will come out of that. Hon. Members opposite who have experience of education in the Services—there will be more time for it in the future than there has been in the past six years—will agree with me that when a man comes out of the Services, having had an opportunity for education, and goes back to his home in the Colonies, he will be able to give more than if he had not served in the Forces. I hope this proposal will be very carefully considered.
I wish to speak about Malta. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the most able report of Sir Wilfred Woods. This country is making a generous gift of £20 million in addition to the £10 million already given. I would like the hon. Gentleman who will reply to tell us if it is his considered opinion that that is all the money required by the people of Malta. I have in my mind that the figure is about £40 million. If that is the figure, and if the Foreign Secretary is going to agree to large reparations being paid from the people of Italy to the Russians, I suggest that the people of Malta have a prior claim. There can be no doubt that the people of Malta have stood in the front line, and have been as much the pivot of the Empire as have, the South East Coast towns of England, one of which I represent. Surely, if the people of Italy are to pay reparations, which I personally do not think they are capable of doing, then the Maltese people should have the first claim on them. That seems only commonsense and not a debating point. Again, I believe a considerable number of men wish to emigrate to Malta. They cannot go to North Africa. What is His Majesty's Government going to do for them? It seems to me that the naval base at Malta will not he as important as it has been, anyhow in the last six years, and that may lead to some unemployment in the dockyards. I hope we shall make it possible for the Maltese to 330 go to other places in the Empire, or abroad, if they wish.
I wish to say one or two things about the development of trade unions in the Empire. I am sure that we on this side of the Committee must be as interested, if not more interested, in the development of trade unions in the Empire as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. This country has built up an organisation for settling industrial disputes which is second to none. It has built it up at times when Liberal, Conservative and Coalition Governments have been in power. I am not, however, happy about the development of trade unions in all the Colonies. On 27th March my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) referred to some remarks made by the Governor of Nigeria to the effect that Nigerian workers are not at ease about the proper functions and principles of trade unions. I believe some of our responsible trade union officials have been sent to the Colonies, and I believe nothing but good can come of it. I hope that will be developed and that trade unions will be formed on constitutional lines, not on lines which will encourage trade unionism getting into the hands of men who will use it for their personal gain or for Communist propaganda.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
I am not referring to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), because his opinions on the Empire are of no importance to anybody but himself.
§ Brigadier Mackeson
I would add that the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury said in the House quite recently that the rank and file of the trade unions in the Colonies were not so enlightener: as many of us would like, and instead of the Colonies being helped by the existence of trade unions, they had found them a bar to advancement. I believe this country, and this Government in particular, has a duty to the Empire to help these trade unions, to help their members, and to extend and develop their membership.
Finally, unless the Government get down to the question and develop the 331 Empire, this country's standard of living will fall and the name of the Labour Party will be disgraced. I hope it will not be so, and I am certain it will not be so if the right hon. Gentleman is left in his place and receives from hon. Members opposite the support he deserves.
§ 8.44 P.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
We have had a comprehensive and very helpful statement this afternoon from the Secretary of State for the Colonies dealing generally with the policy of the Government. I was interested in the kindly and constructive criticism which came from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). I was glad that he emphasised the need for creating a reservoir of students through the spread and increase of elementary education on the West African coast. I agree with him that the creation of a university is all very well, but, unless we have the reservoir from which to fill it, it will be pretty useless. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend if it is the case that educational progress in West Africa, and in the Gold Coast in particular, is at present proceeding, and has been proceeding for many years past, at such a slow rate that, even assuming that those getting it could live the necessary number of years, it would he 700 years before they were all able to read or write their own names? That is a problem which demands priority attention.
The statement of the right hon. Gentleman was generally helpful. There were one or two points on which I would like to comment. He stated that the majority of the Colonial people were very poor because of environment and education. If any conclusion emerges from the Debate tonight, it is that it is accepted on both sides of the Committee that we are agreed on the poverty of our Colonial brethren. I do not think we are all agreed as to the cause of that poverty, and I am certain that when the right hon. Gentleman stated that it was due to environment and education he must have had at the back of his mind another more important reason. I was reminded of that reason when reading the report of the Nyasaland Tobacco Company dated 5th March, 1938. I must apologise for these figures because it has been impossible, as far as I could discover in 332 the short time at my disposal, to get Up-to-date figures. So many returns formerly published, are not now published, and these are the latest I could get. The report of that tobacco company shows that there were 120,000 growers and labourers in its employment whose total earnings were £198,000 a year. When one works that out, it comes to 33s. per year for the labourers and growers in the employ of the Nyasaland Tobacco Company. In the employment of the firm there were 240 Europeans receiving a total income of £241,000, which comes to a little over £1,000 a year. Here we have growers and labourers getting a wage of 33s. a year, and a small group of Europeans with £1,000 a year. That indicates another reason for the poverty of the Africans, other than those which have been put forward.
I looked up the Customs returns for Northern Rhodesia for 1937, and found that the value of the copper exported was £12,000,000. Out of that, 17,000 Africans got £244,000 per year, working out at an average income of £14 a year, and 1,690 Europeans got £800,000, which works out at an average income of £500 a year, royalties to the British South African Company, an organisation which is quite functionless so far as the production of copper is concerned, took £500,000, taxation took £700,000 and dividends took £5 million out of the £12 million, nearly half the total value of the copper which was produced in Northern Rhodesia. A little examination of those figures shows that for every pound we left in that part of Africa, we took £11 away. When I was looking at those figures I remembered a story which I heard or read somewhere in which pheasant shooting was described in this way, "Up goes a guinea, bang goes a penny, down comes half a crown." If one inverts that description, one gets a fairly accurate reason for the poverty of Africans, which has not been sufficiently emphasised today. Invert that description—" down goes 2s. 6d. in royalties and taxation; bang goes a penny to the natives, away flies a guinea's worth of rubber, copper, tea or sisal."
I do not want to misrepresent my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but he seemed to over-emphasise the point, that we tend to measure the wealth of the Colonies in terms of exports. "Welfare," he said, "depends upon ex- 333 ports; we have to improve the marketing of exports, we have to protect the natives from world market fluctuations." While not in any way condemning the things, which may be necessary, I would say that it is most necessary to see to it that the internal market of the African peoples is stabilised and safeguarded. The guineas by which we tend to measure prosperity, appear in the Customs' returns, but only the penny goes to the wealth of the natives. That explains why external trade can be multiplied three or four times, and yet have no appreciable effect on the standard of living of the Africans who do the actual work.
I should like to put one or two questions to my right hon. Friend. He referred to the cooperative movement, and made a suggestion as to what he proposed to do. That movement has immense importance so far as it concerns the provision of credits for the small producers and the wage earners in the African territories. These are the great majority of the people. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that he was prepared to appoint a 'cooperative advisory committee. That is a welcome suggestion but I would say to him that we will get no real drive from such a committee, and he might consider the creation of a special cooperative department in the Colonial Office. It is only by the creation of such a department that we will get that drive which is necessary to bring about internal prosperity.
§ Mr. Rankin
I thought he referred only to the Advisory Committee. I did not take him to say that he had decided to appoint a special cooperative economic committee at the Colonial Office. I am glad if he signified that intention. With regard to private trading monopolies, I would like to ask whether they are compelled to publish accounts. Would the Under-Secretary tell us something about the ramifications of these trading monopolies? Are they given special representation on the Legislative Councils in West Africa, for example? Is it true that they are allowed to advertise medicines and drugs, so as to appeal to superstitious minds, in a way that would not be tolerated in our own country? On the subject of mines, I would like to ask three questions. Are private concessions to be given to any 334 company? Has the time not arrived when the royalties should be owned by the State, and should not all new mines be operated through a special mining department at the Colonial Office? I apologise for having taken up so much time. I hope there will be a reply to some of the points which I have raised, because they are of great importance to many hon. Members on this side of the Committee.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner (Basingstoke)
All who listened this afternoon to the Colonial Secretary's survey recognised and would wish to pay tribute to his good intentions and to the Minister's sincere concern for the welfare of the native inhabitants of the dependent Empire. In that connection, I wish to associate myself with all the good wishes expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). I welcome many of the developments which the Colonial Secretary foreshadowed, but if any hon. Members expected concrete results from his labour after one year in office comparable in force to an atomic bomb, I am afraid they may have been disappointed. The speech was indeed no atomic bomb or, if it was, then hon. Members in this Committee remain not unlike the goats at Bikini—still munching hay. Not that I would wish to suggest that the speech was hay. That would be unfair and offensive. The speech was a well-balanced and informative survey, but no new charter was enunciated which was in any way comparable to that great charter, the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, of which the architect was my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol.
The Secretary of State drew attention to Malaya and so did many other hon. Members. I certainly welcome the discussions which are now taking place, and I hope that the Government will have the statesmanship to support the Governor-General in retracing to some extent the disastrous false steps recently taken in that country. I hope, also, that the ultimate solution will safeguard the Malays in their own country now and in the future against submergence by the Chinese, and that the solution will also restore the trust and confidence which the Malays once had in the Crown, and that the Government will provide, if agreement is reached, or, indeed, if the negotiations break down, an opportunity for this House to debate the situation.
335 Reference was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol to the exception which has been taken by the United States to the economic provisions which have been put forward in the interests of the native inhabitants by this country in the terms of the trusteeship for Tanganyika, Togoland and the Cameroons. May I remind the Committee that there are two Americas—the hard-headed business America, and there is also the equally important and very influential idealistic America. It is surely the duty of the Government to appeal to the idealistic America as well as to the "dollarocracy," in order to bring home to them in the interests of the native inhabitants of the Empire—for whom we are trustees—as well as in the interests of Anglo-American friendship, that we have a moral duty and responsibility towards the dependent peoples of the Colonial Empire. It is the duty and the opportunity of the Government to explain to the people of the United States the nature and character of the British Empire and our obligations to the native inhabitants who live in it. The Government may be confident that, if they discharge effectively that duty of explaining the Empire to the United States, the idealistic side of America, so strong and influential, will, once they fully understand our position, our duty and our problem, respond wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.
The Secretary of State made, surprisingly, only a passing reference to mass education. I believe it to be one of the most hopeful developments in the whole field of Colonial education. It is, however, only a human technique, a method. What matters, surely, is the object for which it is used, or, in other words, the content of the education. Two main points appear to arise. The first is an opportunity and the second is a danger. The opportunity is to strike at the very roots of the supreme evil in all Colonies— disease. It is an opportunity to teach the principles of sanitation and of personal hygiene, and an opportunity to teach elementary precautions against yaws, hook worm and amoebic dysentery and against all the horrors which are the principal difference between a backward and a civilised land. The danger seems to many of us to be that by rapidly spreading literacy without providing 336 adequate means to satisfy it, we are creating a vacuum, a mental need, and, if we do not satisfy it, it will be satisfied by immoral literature and by the yellow Press—which is itself immoral. There is no one in this Committee who would wish to see the pornographic advertisements of the Indian Yellow Press reproduced many millionfold as a principal influence on the untutored, the child minds of the African inhabitants of the Colonial Empire.
This is already a grave and urgent problem demanding action and I would like some assurance that the Government will act. I am not now quarrelling merely with the lack of sense of proportion as, for instance, when a West African newspaper recently ascribed the title of "the greatest living Englishman" to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen). I am concerned with direct incitements to lust and sedition.
What can be done abort it? I believe the Government should increase drastically the paper allowance to the Christian missionary societies. Colonial Governments should be encouraged to employ trained journalists to run official gazettes and newspapers to make them more attractive, and, similarly, to employ experts in connection with films and broadcasting. The Government might also appoint a committee of trained journalists to advise in connection with news collecting, to enable Colonial newspapers to record all the interesting and important facts in the life of these communities. It is to be hoped that the Government will satisfy us that the opportunities in the Colonial medical world will he seized and the peoples safeguarded from poisonous and debased mushroom journals which are springing up everywhere, by requiring the promoters to deposit a sum which, if necessary, could be impounded by the courts in cases of conviction for grave criminal offences. I hope, therefore, the Government will safeguard the untutored peoples of Africa from immoral, seditious and degrading influences, and that they will act on the lines which I have suggested; and, if not on these lines, then on other lines, but that, at any rate, they will act quickly and act effectively.
The tenor of some of the speeches to which we have listened today was disturbing. In effect, several hon. Members opposite demanded that the tempo as 337 regards self-government should be accelerated, and this demand was made without even considering the implications of it in a plural society, and without suggesting any safeguards for the racial and religious minorities in those territories. This is one of the most difficult and complicated problems in the whole Empire. It is very hard to condense into a few words, but it is a matter of such far-reaching importance that it demands the close attention of this Committee.
Very great areas of the British Empire are plural societies, that is to say, they are territories in which men of different race, language and religion live side by side. They meet in the market place, but they lead lives utterly apart from each other. They do not intermingle. Not infrequently they detest each other. Often they remain separate civilisations. The essential point is this, that under Western forms of democracy in Asia and Africa, the political divisions are almost always on community lines and not on lines of policy. Hence it follows that minority communities can never hope for their fair share of democratic rights, they can never hope to turn a government out, or to replace it. The minorities do, in fact, normally despair of receiving even elementary justice at the hands of the majority community with its permanent monopoly of power. That is the problem of the minorities, without political hope and without their democratic rights, unless we can contrive in this Parliament some safeguard for them.
If it be true, as it undoubtedly is, that in backward territories administration is more important than legislation, I would ask the Secretary of State to study the possibility of giving the minorities the safeguard and bargaining weapon of a permanent share—though, naturally, a minor share—of executive responsibility. That would, in the last resort, be a most valuable safeguard for minorities in a self-governing plural society. I ask him to explore this possibility as it affects the minorities in plural societies not yet enjoying full self-government, but progressing rapidly towards that goal.
The Labour Party has talked incessantly for some years about their interest in the welfare of the inhabitants of the Colonial Empire, but they often seem utterly unaware of this great problem of the minorities. To talk in this way about 338 self-government in a plural society without considering the grim fate of the minorities is to trifle with the lives and happiness of millions of people. To talk in this way about self-government in plural societies without even mentioning the minorities, as has happened today, is to play "Hamlet" without the ghost.
It is too early yet to say with what success the Soulbury Constitution will work in Ceylon. The Tamil minority there has regarded that Constitution with dismay. We in this Committee can only hope that in the event they will be mistaken. But it has to be admitted that they have good reason for their fears, in view of the behaviour of the Sinhalese majority towards them during the last decade. I ask the Secretary of State to give an assurance that he will at least watch closely the situation in Ceylon. If he were to give even that assurance, that public pronouncement would, in itself, be a safeguard against serious injustice and wrongful treatment by the Sinhalese of the Tamil minority. I was surprised when I heard the Secretary of State: in the course of his survey this afternoon, suggest—no doubt he will tell me if I misunderstood hint—that in developing self-government we were in some way giving "liberty" to the people in a dependency—more liberty than they enjoy now. If I were a Tamil in Ceylon, or a member of a minority community in any plural society, I would prefer to trust the administration and the sense of justice of the Colonial Secretary or of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol, rather than to that of the Sinhalese majority. When we talk of accelerating the tempo of self-government in plural societies, I hope that before long the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say something about safeguarding the elementary rights of the minorities in those territories.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) referred to East Africa. Many Members expected a declaration of policy from the Government today. Surely, the essential point is this: Is East Africa to be unified or is it not? The Secretary of State will forgive me if I say that today he burked this problem, and, in the words of Job, was content plentifully to declare the thing as it is. Colonial Paper 191 touches every aspect of life in East Africa. It is important to face up to the funda- 339 mental ambiguity of that Paper which was put forward, not as Government policy, but as a basis for discussion. The point upon which His Majesty's Government will have to make up their minds is this: Is essential power to lie in each of the three territories so that there may be self-government, as Paper 191 would suggest; or is essential power to lie at the centre, as the central executive structure outlined in that Paper would clearly imply? The Government must make up their minds upon that dilemma. There has been ample time for discussion. There has, in fact, been prolonged discussion in East Africa. The Government cannot leave the immense territory of East Africa in a condition of crippling uncertainty as to the whole basis of their future political and economic life. If it is agreed in this Committee that the day of the small unit is over, what do the Government intend to do in regard to West Africa? Do they intend to retard the development and happiness of West Africa by keeping it compartmentalised in separate units, or not? On that decision the whole future development of West Africa must turn.
Several hon. Members mentioned the West Indies today. I should like, in the few minutes left to me, to say something about the sugar industry, because the whole future of that industry is now at stake, and with it, of course, the welfare of all who are employed in it, both on the land and in the processing factories. It is, unfortunately, not the Government's policy to have a full-blooded tariff system on American lines which might attract long-term capital for far-sighted development; but it is the Government's policy to have as an alternative a target production of 771,000 tons of sugar with guaranteed purchase at a price to be fixed in the light of varying circumstances, including the cost of production. The Colonial Secretary repeated in his speech this afternoon that the guarantee given by His Majesty's Government would last only until 1949. This is a really disastrous limitation. Planting should take place this autumn for reaping in 1948 and for ratooning in 1949 and 1950. It is essential, therefore, that the guarantee should extend to 1950. This is not merely a matter of planting only. It is imperative that new processing factories should be built. I am informed that Jamaica can- 340 not possibly hope to reach her quota unless a new processing factory is built in the island. Throughout the West Indies there is obsolete machinery in the factories, which requires to be replaced by modern, efficient up-to-date equipment. That is going to be very expensive, and unless the Government are prepared to extend the guarantee to 1950, capital may not be forthcoming, and orders for British machinery may not be placed. I ask the Government, therefore, to extend that guarantee, and to extend it now. I should, perhaps, add, that I have no personal financial interest in this matter.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
I am not speaking for anybody but myself. It is not much to ask. After all, the Government's price at the moment is only half that which is paid for Cuban sugar by Central and South American purchasers at the present time.
Civil aviation has been mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald). May I draw the attention of the Government to the fact that K.L.M. have already completed trial services from Amsterdam to Curacao? The Dutch have forged ahead of us. I would ask the Government what they are going to do to catch up? The shipping position in the West Indies is also very serious. So far, the Government have not yet decided—and in this case it is the Colonial Office that have not decided—what type of vessel is required, how fast a vessel is required, or what type of shipping accommodation is required. It is not even decided what help the Government are prepared to give. Lord Hailsham in another place on 10th April asked several question on these matters, and he received no answer. Surely, it is time for the Government to make up their mines and to make a statement?
There is one other assurance which, surely, His Majesty's Government will willingly give? On 23rd August last I asked for an undertaking that in no circumstances would the South African Protectorates be transferred to the Union of South Africa. The answer I got was not as unequivocal, as perhaps, it ought to have been. In view of the rumours again circulating in South Africa that there will be some transfer, this autumn or 341 winter, we would all, I think, be grateful for a further assurance.
I would also ask about Hong Kong. It has been said by people returning from Hong Kong that the relief measures undertaken by the Colonial Office there were not very satisfactory and did not function adequately, and that, in fact, a serious situation might have arisen but for the intervention and the assistance of the Fighting Services, particularly the Royal Navy. I do not know whether these statements are accurate or even true, but they are being made and the Colonial Secretary will agree that the sooner an authoritative statement is made the better. If he is prepared to make a statement on Hong Kong, can he tell us what progress is being made in rehabilitation and housing, in view of the bombing and all that that Colony suffered during the war?
The Colonial Secretary mentioned, in passing, St. Helena. I notice there is an item of £5,000 in the Estimates for milk and meals for school children. I welcome that, but is he really satisfied that the condition of the people is such that nothing else need be done to help them? It is curious that it should be the sole item of expenditure in the 1945–6 Estimates.
I listened some years ago to a speech made by the Under-Secretary, with which I agreed very much. He asked for the publication of annual reports, which, of course, we have not had since before the war. I need not recapitulate the arguments used because he is only too familiar with them, but I think that he will agree that publication of annual reports is very much needed, and that it is now essential. In conclusion I would express the hope that we may look forward to more Debates than we had during the war, not merely this annual discursive Debate, but Debates on particular areas and particular problems, which, all will agree, are much more useful to the Colonies and often more interesting also.
§ 9.22 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
As is usual on Supply Days, the Debate has covered a pretty wide ground. On the whole, the speeches have been both informative and critical, and from the point of view of the Colonial Office, they have been extremely sympathetic and helpful. It will 342 be impossible for me to satisfy all Members in regard to the questions which they have put during the Debate, and at the outset I should like to assure them that all the points raised will be studied most carefully by the Ministers and 'ay the Colonial Office, and where information has been asked for, we shall attempt to supply it to the hon. Members concerned. We regret that, in present circumstances, it has not been possible to prepare an annual statement on the work of the Colonial Office during the past year, or during the war period; nor has it been possible to describe the developments which have been going on apace in the Colonies during the last two years. My right hon. Friend hopes that he will he in a position before long, to bring the whole of this matter into review, and I hope that not only will Members be able to receive reports from the individual Colonies and from departments in the Colonies, but will also be able to receive next year a report on the progress of the work done by the Colonial Office.
The discussion today has brought out pretty vividly the difficulties, and the magnitude of the problems with which the Ministers for the Colonies have to contend. At the outset, I would like to make a passing reference to a point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) in regard to the external criticism of British administration and policy. I think it a great pity that the world, as yet, does not appreciate the constructive and positive purposes of British policy. At international conferences we are frequently subjected to considerable criticism because, somehow or other, we have been content to allow our light to burn under a hood, and we have not undertaken sufficient publicity to inform the world that we are actively engaged in sapping the content of the old Imperialism, but are as eager as any other part of the world for the building up of the Colonial peoples to freedom, to prosperity and to social happiness.
I want to make some reference to the view which has been expressed on both sides of the Committee during this Debate that, for all practical purposes, there is no difference between the policy of the Coalition Government, and the policy of the present Labour Administration. I want, first, to point out that the policy of the Coalition Administration 343 was, to some slight degree, diluted by Socialist Ministers. But, in any case, when Labour Members of Parliament endorse this sentiment that there is a close familiarity between Conservative politics in the Colonial field, and Labour policy in the same field, let me remind them of the strong advocacy by Socialists, by humanitarians, in regard to the treatment of Colonial peoples, of fierce attack and continual analysis of the nature of imperialism, and of the economic criticism which we have continuously applied. I am glad that for the last half-century, as the result of the work of men like Hobson and Marx and even of Lenin, of Engels, Leonard Wolfe, Leonard Barnes and Charles Roden Buxton, work which has at last borne fruit, we have witnessed a much more liberal attitude on the part of the British public, a desire to get' the content of Imperialism changed, and the application to the Colonial peoples of a progressive policy which recognises their inherent rights as human beings and their claims to freedom, liberty and economic justice. Therefore, instead of Labour Members endorsing the sentiment that the policy of the Labour Government is just the continuity of previous policies, they should rejoice that, at last, our propaganda has succeeded in converting the Tory Benches to a much more human and liberal approach to the problems with which this Government have now to contend.
Nevertheless, there is, I submit, in Labour policy a difference in tempo and in emphasis, in economic conceptions, and in our attitude to racial relations, as I hope to show. But in Colonial development one cannot break altogether with the past; one has to go forward on the foundations that are already laid, and, as problems come before one, put a new emphasis into the administration and sometimes adjust the policy to bring it more into accordance with our conceptions. Therefore, let me remind the Committee of the policy on which this Government appealed to the nation. What were the principles of Colonial policy for which we ask the endorsement of the nation? We ask that the territories should be administered by Colonial powers as in trust for the native inhabitants—the principal object of the administration being the well-being, the education and the development of the inhabitants. Secondly, 344 the primary object of this Administration should always be to train the native inhabitants in every possible way, so that they may be able in the shortest possible time, to govern themselves. Those were the principles of the Labour policy which the nation endorsed.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
Would the Labour Party apply those principles to Scotland as well as anywhere else?
Mr. Creech Jones
I hope, if interruptions are to be made, they will be relevant to our discussion on Colonial policy. During the past year the Labour Government have worked faithfully, in accordance with those two principles laid down in Labour's Colonial policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) expects us in a space of 12 months to alter this tremendous legacy of poverty, squalor, human misery and neglect which at present prevails in many of our Colonies. It cannot he done merely by the uttering of phrases, or the waving of a wand. It means the application of a policy over a long period, and the garnering of the necessary resources, which takes a long time if the work is to be faithfully done.
What are the assumptions in the Labour policy? What is the approach of Labour Ministers to particular problems? We start on certain assumptions, and I think that the Committee should know them. First we say that discrimination and racial superiority must be made to disappear as quickly as possible, and that the relationship between this country and the Colonial peoples should be a relationship of partnership, the responsibility of Britain being to give the Colonial peoples all the aid and assistance and technical skill that we can afford, to help them forward in their development. Further, the assumption is that political and economic privilege and domination shall go, and that in its place there shall be political freedom which leads to responsible self government. The third assumption is that economic exploitation of natural resources and people in the interests of groups, whether internal groups in the Colony or external, would go, and it is our responsibility, therefore, to drop the ideas of economic imperialism.
Mr. Creech Jones
The fourth assumption is that the test of our policy should not be British advantage, but the happiness, prosperity and freedom of the Colonial peoples themselves.
Mr. Creech Jones
Those are the assumptions on which the Labour policy is based, and I submit that the action of a Labour Government should be subjected to those tests. It is not a question of whether our policy and our administration are in continuity with any previous administration. It is, are we faithful to the principles and the policy which we have enunciated in the past. That should be the test, and I suggest that this Labour Government within their short period of office, have been living up to those principles. I suggest further that it is very unlikely that either my right hon. Friend or myself, when crossing the threshold of the Colonial Office, would neglect the principles for which we have fought for years and the policies which we have advocated in the Colonial field for a very long time.
I would also like to bring to the notice of the Committee the great difficulties under which the Colonial Office have to work. It is all very well to expect great changes to be brought about in a short time, but, with our limited resources, we are concerned with more than 50 Administrations. In respect of every Colony, problems which concern all the Departments in Whitehall are coming in day after day. In this postwar period we are confronted with many problems which have been held up for a long time People are clamouring that policies should be applied, and there is tremendous pressure, in regard to political and economic development, that decisions should be taken. We are working not only with a shortage of men, material, and supplies, but also against a Colonial background which is at present extraordinarily troubled and full of dissensions. People are demanding rapid changes, and it is against that background that our work has to be done. It is for us now, as a nation, to make our contribution in morale and intellectual leadership, and to regain good will—which in some cases has been lost—by our service, our integrity and our honesty of purpose.
§ Vice-Admiral Taylor
Is the hon. Gentleman talking about Malaya and, if not, to which Colony is he referring?
§ Mr. Stanley
In which Colony have we lost the good will, which the hon. Gentleman says we must now regain?
Mr. Creech Jones
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was aware that in recent years there has been, in certain Colonies, a great deal of irresponsible political propaganda, which has led to a deterioration of feeling in relation to Britain by peoples who have been affected by that propaganda. As these nations stretch out for responsible self-government, it becomes imperative that there should be better understanding between us, and that good will and closer cooperation should be secured. I think the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate what Colonies I have in mind.
I now turn to some of the questions which have been put to the Colonial Office during the Debate. Reference was made by the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) to the fact that more emphasis should be put on social and economic policy, and perhaps a little less on political development. I think the real danger is that the peoples of our Colonies will not today brook delay. We are subjected to continuing criticism by other nations of the world, even by many of our closest Allies, who demand that political development should go on at a greater pace than is practicable. What is necessary is that with the unfolding of economic policy and political institutions should keep pace, and that responsibility should grow.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the inadequacy, on the present basis, of certain colonies to tackle their own problems, and said that perhaps it would be wiser if some of these colonies could be grouped, with a pooling of their resources, in order to meet the responsibilities which their people expect of their Governments. I would most heartily agree with the point made by the right hon. Member. He asked, as did the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. MacDonald) and the hon. Member for Rochd are what was the position in regard to the circular which had been sent some time ago to the colonial Governments in the West Indies on the subject of federation. So far as Jamaica and Barbadoes, 347 are concerned, the debates in the legislative councils there on the despatch of the Secertary of State have yet to take place, and I think it will be appreciated that in a problem such as this one cannot force the pace. While it may be our desire that at an early date there should be a conference at which some discussion can take place on the basis of the circular, for the purpose of evolving some scheme of federation, that conference cannot be called in the West Indies, until other discussions have been held.
Then a question was asked about the Windward and Leeward Islands. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale made certain comments about the impossibility of constitutional change while the union was being discussed, but he overlooked the fact that the despatch from the Secretary of State did, most expressly, provide for the discussion of constitutional change on the lines recommended by the Royal Commission, and that discussion is to take place at the same time as the discussions on closer union.
The right hon. Member for West Bristol asked about the work of the Central African Council. The work of that Council is going forward, and some very effective work has been done. On the whole the Council is working extremely well. Three meetings have already taken place, and a number of standing committees have been set up concerned with common services such as aviation, communications, and medical services, and other committees are dealing with such problems as the conservation of natural resources and co-ordination for the purpose of economic development. In addition several special committees have been at work concerned with housing and the migration of labour. There is also cooperation for dealing with problems of research, and so on. I think—I have seen something of the discussions of these committees, and of the effort made to bring practical results from their deliberations —that the Committee can be assured that the most excellent results are flowing from the Council's work.
It is not my purpose this evening to discuss Circular 191 in regard to inter-territorial organisation in East Africa. I am grateful for the gracious things that have been said about my impending visit to that part of the world, and the Govern- 348 ment did offer that circular as a basis for discussion, both in East Africa and in this country too. There may be difficulties at first sight in East Africa in regard to a number of basic principles embodied in the scheme, but at least in East Africa there have been widespread discussions in which Africans and Indians have joined as well as Europeans. I would like to express my thanks to the hon. and gallant Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) for the contribution he made to the discussion of this problem today. It would be unfair for me at this point to express the views of His Majesty's Government with regard to the proposals that have emerged from the discussions up to now. Some of these proposals will be discussed in East Africa in the next few weeks, but I can assure hon. Members that the contributions they have made, and the proposals which have come forth today, will be most carefully studied alongside the proposals which have emerged from East Africa.
The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight raised the question of the administration of Colonial territories, and asked whether steps were being taken to improve the machinery for speeding up administration, spreading responsibility, and giving more direct attention to the number of problems which will emerge if development is to be achieved. I assure the hon. and gallant Member that, apart from Kenya, a number of other Colonies are looking with very great care at the experiment which has proved so successful in Kenya, and already other territories in Africa have taken preliminary steps to make certain adjustments on the model which they have observed in Kenya. Further, in other territories where there is not that disposition to follow in the wake of Kenya, most serious consideration is being given to the question whether certain big problems can be lifted from the Secretariat and dealt with by special departments and special members of the Governor's Executive, in order that the fullest attention should be given to special aspects of development.
The attention of hon. Members has been drawn to the principles embodied in the new draft agreements regarding trusteeship. I think an assurance is hardly necessary, but the Committee can be fully assured that it is our determination that the interests of the inhabitants of the territories shall be paramount as far as the 349 economic clauses are concerned, and that this modification of the old mandate principle shall be actually executed in the sense that the real test must be the best interests of the inhabitants of the territories. There will be no departure from that principle.
I would have liked to take up the constitutional points raised by one hon. Member, who was concerned about the calling of constituent assemblies for the purpose of discussing constitutional changes. That is a practice which can be applied to certain types of Colonies but not to all Colonies. In the constitutional changes which are being contemplated now, every step is being taken to bring all interests into consultation. As far as Malta is concerned, as in Newfoundland, which is outside the scope of the Colonial Office, constituent assemblies have been at work in regard to the kind of constitution they would desire in the immediate future. Certainly, in regard to proposals for Hong-Kong, Singapore, and Gibraltar—as was the case in Jamaica, Trinidad, British Guiana and Ceylon—all sections of public opinion have been invited to express their views, and the public have played their part in the constitutions which have been or are being worked out.
I now pass from the political issues which have been raised to the problems of social policy. With regard to nutrition, a subject which has been mentioned by several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) and the hon. Member for Rochdale, some substantial progress can now be recorded. Reference was made to the inquiry and the work done in the West Indies; that is going forward and courses of training are being arranged in West Africa as well as in the West Indies to afford a better understanding of foods and diet. It is hoped that within a very short time a working unit will be sent out to West Africa for the purpose of studying the whole district. It will comprise a team of technicians, agriculturists, educationists, and social service experts as well as medical personnel for the purpose of looking at these problems of nutrition in relation to a people as a whole. I have not time to discuss the health teams referred to by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the West Indies, but I gather that the work is going forward with successful results in the villages. This is true 350 also of Nigeria and other territories in Africa.
Another hon. Member raised the question of cooperative development, and here again my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State attaches enormous importance to building up sound cooperative practice in the Colonial area. As he has announced a special committee will be established in the Colonial Office to advise on these questions and he proposes to appoint an advisory section of the new economic department to concern itself with cooperative development and to study the reports coming in from the Colonies and be as helpful as possible in furthering this work. I want also to refer to mass education because here again a standing committee is at work reviewing the experience of the past two years. Since the report of the mass education committee was published many useful experiments have been made in a number of Colonies, and already at least two Colonies have appointed mass education directors, to carry forward this work and look at the problem inside the territory in which they are serving for the purpose of pushing on with the liquidation of illiteracy.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
Can the hon. Gentleman give some assurance that the problem of satisfying the mental need which we are creating will be dealt with; and will he also deal with the very urgent question of the Yellow Press and the corruption of morals?
Mr. Creech Jones
The question of public relations and the Press is obviously one of very great difficulty and delicacy, but it is constantly receiving the attention of local Governments. I can assure the hurt, and gallant Gentleman that great care has to be exercised; there is no question of interference with the liberty of the Press, but at the same-time the local Governments do recognise that a certain standard of decency must be maintained and that corruption of public morals must be checked by all legitimate means.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
Will the hon. Gentleman also recognise the need for control over the Yellow Press in this country?
Mr. Creech Jones
The right hon. Member for West Bristol asked about the medical course for the South Pacific. I can assure him again that a regional health service has been established under an Inspector-General which links up New Zealand with the dependencies in the Pacific and that the work is developing well.
I had many other questions which must pass over, because my time has almost gone. I should like to have said a word about the West African university. I can assure the Committee that there will be no departure from the basic principles of the Asquith Commission's recommendations and that further, for practical purposes, the Minority Report will be complied with, with the exception that, in the case of the Gold Coast, the territorial college may, if it so chooses, do post-intermediate work. If it does that work it will be asked to do it without prejudice to the larger development of the university in Nigeria, and it will be done under the guidance of the inter-university council which has been set up in London. I think that that compromise does not represent any surrender of principle of any substantial kind and that it should, to some extent, satisfy the aspirations of the Gold Coast; at least we are very hopeful that it will.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies referred to the setting up of the Economic and Development Council. The purpose of the Council is to bring under review, not only commercial trade and financial policy, but development through the Colonial Empire; that is to say, not only will schemes under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act be brought under consideration, but also the relation of those schemes to the larger schemes of development inside the territories, and the region to which that territory belongs. There will not be an examination of projects piecemeal but an examination of the whole needs of the territory in terms of its social and economic development. That will involve a readjustment of the machinery inside the Colonial Office concerned with economic problems. Actually, I have the details of that adjustment here, but I rather fear that time does not permit me to give the facts.
Mr. Creech Jones
I will endeavour to furnish the hon. and gallant Gentleman with a complete picture of the scheme in order that he may be accurately informed. Many other problems have been raised but time does not permit me to answer them. I will, as I said, earlier, try to write to hon. Members in regard to the questions which they have put.
There is one thing which I must say in conclusion. It is that in all our work we are conscious of the fundamental imporance of securing understanding and good will with the Colonial peoples. More and more they have to be associated with the work that we are doing. It is no good imposing schemes from London, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out. It is imperative that in all our development work and our political progress the Colonial peoples should be most intimately associated and should feel that those problems are their problems and that the solutions which are being applied are the solutions to which they have made some contribution and which they will respect.
Accordingly, it is our ardent desire that in all this work there should be the fullest sympathy and understanding between the British people and the Colonial people. It will be our endeavour to stop the kind of rot to which I referred just now in reply to an interruption, in order that we may go forward to the realisation of that happy prosperity which we feel to be the inherent right of the Colonial people.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again "—[Captain Michael Stewart]—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.