§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Major Milner in the Chair]
§ CLAUSE i.—(Division of Straits Settlements, 29 & 30 Vict. c. 115.)
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
There is one point in connection with the Clause, which I hope the Under-Secretary of State will be able to clear up for me, and that is with regard to the future status of the Island of Penang. On the Second Reading, the hon. Member used these words:There is no desire under the civil administration for the status of that port to be changed."—[Official Report, 8th March, 1946; Vol. 420, c. 726.]What does that statement mean, exactly? Does it mean that Penang can remain a free port, or is it to come into the customs union of the mainland? I need not remind the hon. Gentleman that Penang has very largely developed itself because it has been a free port. It is true that it has not the same amount of entrepreneur trade as Singapore, but nevertheless a very large part of its trade is due to the fact that it has been the centre for the distribution of goods, not only in the Malay Pensinsula but also in the Dutch East Indies and Siam. Is that status to continue?
I need also hardly remind the hon. Gentleman that there has been considerable protest in Penang with regard to this point. I believe he has already received a petition from the Chinese and Indian Chambers of Commerce. I would like to quote a sentence from the document. It is:These two Chambers of Commerce submit that if the free port facilities of Penang Island should be withdrawn through the formation of 1541 the Malayan Union, the status of Penang will most likely be reduced to that of a fishing village, as Sir Francis Light found it in 1786.What are the intentions of the Government with regard to this point? Are they proposing to take any steps to find out what local opinion is on the subject? I think Iam right in saying that when Sir Harold MacMichaelwent to Malaya he did not even touch at Penang; so it is no use pretending there has been any consultation on the subject. Various bodies in Penang should have been consulted. There are the three Chambers of Commerce, Chinese, Indian and European. There is also the municipality, and members of the Legislative Council. Ishould like to ask the Under-Secretary whether he meant what he said at the time of the Second Reading Debate, or what, in fact, is to be the status of Penang as a free port.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner (Basing-stoke)
I should like to ask the Undersecretary of State to tell the Committee the position of the Chinese in respect of Malayan citizenship. Have the Government made any approach to the Government of China to ask whether the Chinese in Malaya will be allowed to divest themselves of their Chinese allegiance? If so, what answer have the Government received? The Minister will no doubt remember more fully than I do the incident which took place about five or six years ago in which anumber of Chinese jurists in Singapore were considered suitable for promotion as judges. In that capacity they would have had to judge British, Malays, Indians as well as Chinese, in Malaya. The Colonial Office, if I remember rightly, requested the Foreign Office to approach Chungking for permission for this small number of people to be allowed to divest themselves of their Chinese nationality and their Chinese allegiance. That request was refused. That being so, it is pertinent to ask what is the positionin regard to the large number of Chinese now in Malaya, who are expected to adopt Malayan citizenship? Have the Government made inquiries whether these Chinese will be allowed to divest themselves of their allegiance to China? If the Government have notreceived that permission from Chungking, the whole of the proposals relating to Malayan Union citizenship becomes dangerous nonsense. We 1542 are surely entitled to receive an unequivocal assurance with regard to this matter. If permission has not been obtained from Chungking, added force is given to my suggestion on the Second Reading, that a Royal Commission of the standing, status, and capacity of the Simon Commission should be sent out.
§ 3.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I do not wish to carry further the question about citizenship, though I hope it will be in Order to have the matter explained to us further and to ask more questions about it on the Third Reading. I hope that it is in Order on the Clause, where it seems to me to come most appropriately, to ask what is to be the juridical status of the proposed Union. So far as I can gather from reading the White Paper and associated documents, which I am bound to say seem to be very ill-drafted, and well below the level of such documents, the matter has not yet received any very clear consideration. I should like to know whether the proposed Union is intended to be a protected State, or a Crown Colony, or something between the two, or a little of both, or something else. That point remains dubious in the papers—unless it is possible to read the papers far more per-spicaciously than Ihave managed to do. Before we part from the Clause, consideration should be given to the point that unless the new arrangement can be brought easily and precisely within an already well-defined category, it must ' be abandoned. I do not think that so strict an argument as that would be fair, but there should be some indication of what kind of juridical nature the Malayan Union is to have. I am bound to say that it seems to me to be a reflection upon the Minister in charge that that has not been made clear sooner, and I do not think we ought to pass this stage of the Bill without having some further explanation.
§ 3.41 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
I feel that an apology is due to the Committee for the continued absence, through indisposition, of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but I have worked in complete harmony with him and the Government in regard to this matter, and I hope I shall have the continued indulgence of the 1543 Committee in trying to deal with some of the problems before it. Iwould also express to the Committee our thanks for the very helpful criticism and suggestions which have been forthcoming during the past few weeks in regard to this matter. We have profited quite a lot from the criticisms and suggestions made, and I hope that we are now reaching a point at which our proposals will have the general assent of the Committee.
Before I answer theseveral questions which have been addressed to me, I feel that it would be fair to the Committee if I made a statement in regard to the nature of the Order which is referred to in Clause I. This question has aroused considerable interest, and in view of the criticisms made on the Second Reading, and by the Sultans themselves and others, it is important, I think, that the Committee should now have a clear idea of what is proposed in the Order. Now because of the importance of the statement which I want to make I hope the Committee will permit me, for the sake of accuracy, to follow some very close notes which I have prepared on this matter.
In the Second Reading Debate the Government were urged to proceed only with those parts of the Orders in Council which are strictly necessary to enable civil government in Malaya to be restored, and that all the more detailed conditions of the Orders should be deleted, with a view to the matters covered in these provisions being decided at a later date after local consultations have taken place. I announced at the conclusion of the Debate that the Government had decided to defer the Order dealing with Malayan Union citizenship, and that certain criticisms and proposals concerning the establishment of the Malayan Union would be studied. I also made it clear that there was practically no difference in reaching agreement on all religious matters —
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am sorry to interrupt but I think the hon. Gentleman said "difference" when he meant "difficulty.'' I think we ought to be quite clear on that. Mr. Creech Jones: I should have said "there was practically no difficulty," I beg pardon. I must say again that the Government cannot abandon the basic principle of common citizenship, that is to say, the basic principle which demands 1544 that political rights in the Malayan Union should be extended to all those who regard Malaya as their real home, and as the object of their loyalty. It is appreciated, however, that the Government proposal on this subject has not been fully understood in Malaya, and has caused, among sections of Malays, some feeling of anxiety. The Government have in mind the long friendship which has existed betwen the Malay and British people, and are desirous that this alarm, however ill-founded,should be dispelled. During the period before the issue of the Order, steps will be taken to explain the proposals throughout Malaya and to consult the views of all interested communities in the Peninsula. As regards the Malayan Union proposals, the Committee are already aware of the modification which will altogether remove the Governor from the sphere of Mohammedan religious legislation.
The following further modifications have also been decided upon:
First, the Council of Sultans, apart from exercising its religious functions, may discuss secular matters, without the prior consent of the Governor, it being clearly understood that this Council, again apart from its religious functions, is a purely advisory body, which cannot legislate or enjoy executive functions.
Secondly, the Sultans Advisory Councils which will be set up in each State will be empowered to advise the Sultans not only on all matters which affect Mohammedan religion in the State, but on other matters on which the Sultan in his discretion may seek their advice. The Sultans will have absolute discretion in choosing the members of these Councils.
Thirdly, the Governor who is to consult with local opinion concerning the numbers of members and details of representation on the States' Councils will be directed to ensure that one member of each of these Councils shall be a nominee of the Sultan. It will be the duty of this nominee to keep the Sultan informed of State Council proceedings, and to express on the Council any points which the Sultan mayparticularly wish to make. The suggestion that the Sultans should actually preside over the State Councils has been carefully considered, but it is felt that it is more in keeping with their position as constitutional princes, and, indeed, more in keeping with their prestige 1545 and dignity that they should remain aloof from the Council proceedings.
Fourthly, the Royal Instruction to the Governor of the Malayan Union, will include special instructions to the effect that he must not, without the prior approval of the Secretary of State, assent to any bills likely to evoke racial or religious discrimination.
These modifications go very far, I think, to meet the detailed suggestions made either by the Sultans or in the Second Reading Debate. The Government have concluded, after careful consideration, that it would not be advantageous to delete certain parts of the Order establishing the Malayan Union, because this Order, in its present form, is only intended to be a framework. It leaves for consultation and subsequent decision many of the most important matters relating to the actual machinery of the Union.
First is left the final determination of numbers of members and the details of representation on the Legislative Council. Secondly is left the composition of the State and Settlement Council and, in particular, the method of election of any elected members Thirdly, for consultation in Malaya remains the whole question of the function of these local councils, the importance of which we recognise and their relation to the general legislature.
Now the Government are convinced that it is only by issuing the Order in the framework as described—though certain sections of it will be held in reserve— that the necessary flexibility can be maintained, butunder this arrangement each of the various Councils in the Malayan Union can be called into being whenever the time is ripe. Any alternative arrangement would involve either the preparation of a series of Orders, which would at best be a cumbrous arrangement involving unnecessary delays, or the making of a single subsequent Order, which would mean that those bodies, which can and should be set up almost immediately, must await the completion of local consultation on all points. It is most important, for instance, that the Council of Sultans and the Sultans Advisory Councils should come into existence as rapidly as possible since, without them, there can be no legislation on Mohammedan religious matters, and the 1546 Sultans will have no means to express their collective views to the Governor on others questions. In these circumstances the Government feel confident that the course they have decided to adopt will be found to effect in the most practical way, the helpful suggestions which have been put forward.
I think I can give the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) the assurance he seeks: that Penang will be a free port in the Malayan Union and that the free port facilities will continue. That is our intention. In regard to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner), the whole question of citizenship, and what constitutes citizenship, is now referred to Malaya for consultations with all sections of opinion. From the point of view of the Government, the- matter will be most thoroughly explored, so that all points raised in the discussion on Second Reading, and by the Sultans, will be most carefully considered before any Order is drafted. Some months are likely to elapse before the drafting of an Order is possible. Many of the questions which have been raised in discussion have been considered by the Government, but I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Government will reach no final conclusions until the exploration has been thoroughly exhausted in Malaya itself, and until further inquiries necessitated by the queries raised by hon. Members have been further considered.
§ Captain Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
Could the Minister tell us what form this inquiry is to take? Is it intended that a Mission should be sent out there?
Mr. Creech Jones
I made the statement on Second Reading that it was the intention of the Government to instruct the Governors to consult all sections of opinion in Malaya upon these matters. I also undertook to say that the Government would examine all the points which had been raised on questions of citizenship, including the question by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke in regard to the difficulties of Chinese citizenship. All these matters would be subject to further discussion before which no decision would be come to.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is 1547 important we should be quite clear on this. The position now is that the Government introduced the Bill and published a White Paper without making any approach whatever to the Chinese Government in Chungking on the point as to whether the Chinese in Malaya would or would not owe allegiance to China.
Mr. Creech Jones
That must not be understood at all. Before the Bill was introduced, the most careful inquiries were made in all directions; the whole problem of citizenship was carefully explored, and the Government reached certain conclusions. In the light of criticisms made, and the desire of the Committee that there should be further exploration of these problems and that local opinion in Malaya should be further consulted, the Government, whatever their own views may be now, have decided that the matter shall be further deferred in order that these discussions should proceed.
Mr. Creech Jones
The hon. and gallant Member has no right to assume that the Government have not made the most careful inquiries into the whole question of Chinese citizenship. Indeed, most exhaustive inquiries have been made in various directions on the whole problem. There, I must leaveit, for the time being.
§ Mr. Gammans
Do I understand that when the Governor has had these consultations with the people of Malaya the Order in Council which will bring these further matters into legality, will be laid before the House in a form in which the subject will be debatable? Can we have an assurance that that will be done?
Mr. Creech Jones
The Government, in their anxiety that the House should be informed on the contents of the Orders in Council, did an unprecedented thing in presenting a White Paper containing a precis of the Orders in Council. The Orders in Council relating to the problem of common citizenship will obviously not now be proceeded with, for the reasons 1548 I have already mentioned. But it will be possible when these discussions come to an end for the facts to be brought to the notice of the House, and I will give an undertaking to that effect. The form in which the information can be conveyed to hon. Members must be worked out because the form hitherto adopted raises certain constitutional difficulties. There is no desire on our part not to convey to the House the fullest information. When these discussions are finished the statement will be made, and the House will have the fullest opportunities of considering it.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
The Minister has said that he has no desire to preclude the fullest information from the Committee. But he has also said that this and that "must not be assumed." I understood the hon, and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) to put a direct question on whether there had been discussion with the Chinese Government on this question of citizenship. Could the Minister not give a direct answer?
Mr. Creech Jones
I am not in a position today to give a full answer tothe question. The matter was fully explored by the Government. When the whole question of citizenship is before the House, whatever the result of the discussions, the House will have an opportunity of expressing itself upon it. But for the moment, it must not be assumed that these inquiries have not taken place.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
Iam glad that the hon. Gentleman has paid attention to the very widespread anxiety which was expressed on this matter during the Second Reading Debate. It was, he will agree, a discussion which did not proceed at all on party lines but which did disclose, on all sides of the House, considerable anxiety with regard to the way in which these proposals had been introduced. I agree —in fact I made the suggestion at the time—that if any further inquiries were to be carried out, a Royal Commission was not a proper medium for doing it, but that it fell clearly within the province of those very distinguished gentlemen who have recently been appointed, the Governor-General and Governor of Malaya and Singapore respectively. I gather it is now the decision of His Majesty's 1549 Government that, at any rate on the details of these various schemes, there will now be a period for consultation and discussion.
The matter falls under three heads. First, there is this question of common citizenship. There the hon. Gentleman has told us that the Order in Council will be postponed. He said that the Government adhered to the principle of a common citizenship forthose who really desired to make their homes in Malaya. Everyone in the Committee is agreed on that as a principle, I think, but the hon. Gentleman will realise that there is a considerable amount of difference on what constitutes and what proves a genuine desire to make Malaya one's home. The sort of point which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) has raised today is, to many of us, a matter of deep importance. I am, therefore, assuming that this delay in bringing in the Order in Council is not merely for the purpose of explaining the matter to the Malays, but for the purpose also of consulting with them, and, if necessary, amending the details of these proposals, in order to meet views which they express, and with which the Government find themselves in agreement. It seems to me essential, on a matter of this kind, to which so many of us attach importance, that there should be an opportunity, when these consultations have taken place, and before the final Order in Council is brought into effect, for a further discussion in this House I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has given what I understand to be a firm pledge that whatever the form—and I understand the constitutional difficulties which are always introduced by Orders in Council—this House will be given a chance of further discussion before the Orders dealing with common citizenship are brought into effect. So much for the question of common citizenship.
With regard to the religious part, we are all pleased to hear that the hon. Gentleman has, to a large extent, met the various detailed points raised in the Debate. I was sorry he was not able to meet the point I put as to the Sultan presiding in the State Council. In view of the fact that he has turned that down on the ground that it would not be in the best interests of the Sultans themselves, 1550 that it would be in some way harmful to their prestige, I hoped, that he might say that if they do not take that view, that if they think it would helptheir prestige, and their tradition, he would reconsider that point.
Finally, the hon. Gentleman has dealt with the measures required to bring into effect a general union of Malaya. He has told us that the Order in Council which he is now to introduce will be limited to the general framework, that it will merely set up these bodies, without defining in any way what they are to consist of, or what their powers are to be. If that is so, I confess that I still cannot see what is the point of including them inthe Order in Council. If there is some technical reason for doing that, I should not object, provided that I could first be given the assurance that there will finally be a new Order in Council, which will set out how, for instance, the Legislative Council is to be composed, what its functions are and what are its methods of election, what the powers of the local councils are to be and how they are to be elected; also that, if and when Orders in Council are prepared which will clothe this framework with flesh and blood, and therefore make it possible for these various bodies to be brought into operation, we shall then have an opportunity, in one form or another, of discussing the Orders in Council and the new machinery which they are to set up. Provided, therefore, that we can be assured that this interval for consultation really gives an opportunity for fresh consideration, not merely of the unimportant details but of some of the most important aspects of this scheme, and that, when that consideration has been completed, the House will have an opportunity once again of discussing the matter, and then of coming to a final decision upon it, I personally am prepared to accept the hon. Gentleman's offer.
I believe the fundamentals of the Government scheme to be in the interests not only of Malaya, but in particular, perhaps, in the interests of the Malays. I am, however, concerned not only about the way in which it is done, but about some of the important details of this scheme. I am hopeful that this interval for reflection, for discussion and for explanation will give an opportunity to bring about what we certainly have not got at the moment, the agreement of the 1551 Malays to the new proposals, because in default of that agreement, if this new constitution is to be introduced, not with the good will but in spite of the ill will of the Malays, the future of Malaya is black indeed. I very much hope that, as a result of this new action of the Government, as a result of the time for reflection and discussion, as aresult of what I believe will be found to be inevitable amendments which will have to be made in the scheme, we shall end by getting a scheme which provides for the essential future of Malaya, and which will at the same time, be acceptable to all the communities, who, in future, have to make their home there.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
I am glad that the Government have decided not to proceed at once with the full scheme, and to give time, in regard to the second Order in Council, to let people inMalaya know exactly what is being done before it is done. There is just one point about which I wish to speak, that is, this question of Malayan citizenship. I said in my remarks during the Second Reading Debate that Malayan citizenship should be give to people of every race who were bona fide residents in Malaya. That is a vague term. It was impossible to go into details then. Even a large number of the Malays themselves are recent immigrants. Of course, there are also Chinese immigrants and Indian immigrants.
I would like to impress on my hon. Friend that whatever is laid down to define the franchise, the word "domicile "should be kept out. Any one who knows the history of South Africa, and the trouble about the Indian franchise there over the world "domicile ", will understand what I mean. If I might also instance Ceylon, we have had endless trouble by the insertion of the word domicile "in the case of Indian immigrants there. In the case of domicile it has to be decided whether a man is entitled to vote or not, by the intention in his mind, that is to say, whether he has an animus manendi or an animus revertendi, to use the legal terms. A man might say that it is his intention to remain in Malaya, that it is not his intention to return, say, to India or China, and no one can gainsay him. He then gets the vote, though he might have been resident in Malaya for a period of only 1552 three weeks. So, I beg my hon. Friend to keep the word" domicile "out of the franchise law.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
I rise for one purpose only, that is, to give the Under-Secretary an opportunity of clearing up a misapprehension which he certainly left in my mind, and perhaps in the minds of other hon. Members, when replying to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Basing-stoke (Squadron-Leader Donner). My hon. and gallant Friend asked the Minister whether an approach had been made to the Government of the Chinese Republic with respect to giving permission for the dropping of Chinese citizenship by the Chinese concerned. As I understood the Under-Secretary, he said that my hon. and gallant Friend must not assume that no approach had been made. That is a somewhat negative reply and it certainly left in my mind the impression that the Minister was not prepared to say, affirmatively, that an approach had been made. It is obviously undesirable that there should be any misunderstanding on this matter. Therefore, I say with respect to the Under-Secretary that the question is susceptible of a monosyllabic answer, "Yes" or "No ". He could add, if he cared to, particulars of the occasion and time at which the request was made and, possibly, the answer.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am sorry to stand between the Committee and the hornpipes and shanties for which some of them are, no doubt, impatient, but I think the Minister ought to be invited to take his courage in both feet and advance a little further from his brief. If I may ask him to listen to me this time, because I gather he did not listen to me last time, it I may judge from the fact that he made no reference at all to my question —
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Very well, but there might have been some reference to it before, without damage. Now I propose to elaborate it. The question I wish to put is this: What is the suggested juridical situation of the proposed Malayan Union? As far as can be made out from the documents hitherto published, some of them speak of it as if it were a Crown Colony, some as if it were to become a Dominion, 1553 some as if it were to be protected territory, and some with ambiguity between two or more of those possibilities. I do not think that the Committee ought to depart from this Clause without understanding what is the official intention in the matter. I am confirmed in that opinion by what appears to me to be the ambiguity—here I speak very diffidently, not being learned in the law—or rather, more than the ambiguity, the obscurity of the use both of the word "citizenship" and of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act. I do not think "citizenship" is a word with which our law has grappled, as it has with "nationality" or very unfortunately, as I agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite, with the word "domicile." It is very difficult for us to know what is meant by "citizenship."
The Foreign Jurisdiction Act appears to be referred. to in this document—I apologise if I am wrong—sometimes on the assumption that these territories are British territories, for instance for the purpose of giving titles to land and sometimes as if it were to be applied to these territories as though they were not British territories but protected territories. If I am right in thinking that the document is susceptible of that explanation, then there is an apparent incompatibility between these two ways of referring to this Act. I do not think that this, the supreme Legislature for this purpose, ought to pass from this Clause of the Bill, without having a clear explanation on that matter
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Berry (Woolwich, West)
Ionly wish to trouble the Committee on two points. The first is with reference to the view which has been expressed that whatever is done should be done with the consent of the Malays themselves. That will be a very big step forward compared with the situation prior to the fall of Singapore. I think it necessary to have a new conception of these things, otherwise, all the plans that are being made beforehand are doomed to failure. The second point arises out of the questior put by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner). We do not want to have a situation arising in Malaya similar to that which arose under the Delbruck law prior to the last war, when the German Government decided that a man might become a citizen of 1554 another country and still retain his German citizenship. I think it is necessary, in determining Malayan citizenship, to make it clear beyond the risk of perad-venture, that a man is a genuine citizen of Malaya and does not cany citizenship of another country as well Otherwise, it would not be beyond the wit of man to flood Malaya with citizens of various countries. For the purpose of peace, I think those countries had better be nameless. If that were done, elections or other public matters could be influenced. I suggest to my hon. Friend that every care should be taken to see there is no possibility of a repetition of the Delbruck law operating in Malaya.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Captain Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
I was very glad to hear the Minister's statement to the effect that all these contentious points which were raised in our recent Debates, and the fears then expressed, have received his attention and consideration. We were very much alarmed on the last occasion at the storm raised by the Sultans, and the repercussions caused by the mishandling of the situation by the Government in rushing these proposals through without consultation on the spot. I am still rather vague on the question of how these consultations are to take place. Though my friends may not agree with me this time, I, personally, would prefer a Royal Commission to investigate all the problems—and there are many—that ought to be considered before this Measure is carried to its final conclusion. From the outset I have been in favour of the general framework of the scheme. I think it essential for the future of Malaya and the Malays that some scheme of this kind should be carried out. I appreciate also the necessity for rushing the matter,because the military government should come to an end as soon as possible. I saw statements in the Press during the week-end with regard to the Sultans being called for consultation. I should like to know if that is to be the case.
I should also like to know what is to be the position of Malayan balances that we hold in this country. Are they to be used for compensation to the rubbeplanters, or to the investors in this country, or are they to be confiscated by the Government? We have had no indication whatsoever, so far, whether the title deeds 1555 of these balances are to be handed over. With regard to this question of citizenship and franchise, I think it is fraught with very serious difficulties. I do not agree with the view advanced by the Minister onthis matter. When it comes to a question of citizenship and franchise, I think we are going to have the same troubles as those we had in places like Ceylon, where we had to send out a Franchise Commission to report on the matter. We only had one problem and that was resolved, not with agreement of everybody because of the minorities concerned, but I think myself it was settled in the right way by the report of the Commission. Now we are going to have the same problem with regard to minorities. The questionof citizenship is going to be the chief problem. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) raised a very important point, which has always been a difficult one regarding the Chinese settlers in Malay, the question of dual nationality.
I contend that, before any Chinese, or Indian, for that matter, is given Malayan citizenship, he should forswear any allegiance to any other authority, and should swear an oath to the King. I am not going into further details at this stage, but I would like a reply to the question I have asked about balances in this country and I hope the hon. Gentleman will give me a reply. I would also like to know if it is true that Mr. Jinnah was invited, and whether there will be further consultationsat home before any final decision regarding the details within the framework of this scheme is reached.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans
The hon. Gentleman has gone a good way to satisfy those of us on this side of the Committee, or, I think, in any part of the Committee, who were very anxious indeed at the end of the Second Reading Debate. We would have preferred a longer interval between the Second and Third Readings, so that we might have had an opportunity of assessing the reaction of public opinion in Malaya, topoints brought out in the Second Reading Debate, but I understand the constitutional difficulty and I think the hon. Gentleman has gone a good way to meet us. I think it absolutely essential now, unless there is to be a risk of further misunderstanding later, that we should understand what we have agreed 1556 today. We have agreed, I think, and the hon. Gentleman has given us an assurance, that further Orders in Council will be debatable in some form in this House, and the hon. Gentleman has answered verysatisfactorily my point with regard to Penang, but I want this to be made quite clear.
The hon. Gentleman says that the question of Malayan citizenship can still be discussed with the Sultans and others in Malaya. I hope that, when he said that, he meant what I think he meant—which is not merely that the details of that scheme can be discussed, but the whole principle. I do not think the Malays should ever accept a form of Malayan Union citizenship which did not compel all non-Malay races to take an oath of allegiance to the King, and the rulers, and thereby forswear any allegiance to any other country. If that is a matter which is still discussable, as my right hon. Friend suggests, I am happy on that point, but there is a further point arising outof it. If that matter is still discussable, do the Government propose to apply straightaway the Foreign Jurisdiction Act to Malaya? I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the treaties signed by the various Sultans, which gave to His Majesty's Government rights under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, have been questioned—in one case as to their actual legality. In the case of Johore, the actual legality of that signature has been questioned because the Sultan signed without his State Council As to other States, the propriety of the way in which they signed has also been questioned. I hope the hon. Gentleman, when he replies, will tell the House whether, in fact, any Orders in Council which refer to the Foreign Jurisdiction Act are to be applied now or not.
I hope we have understood another matter aright, and that it is still a matter for discussion between His Majesty's Government and the rulers whether or not the Sultans shall have any different relationship to the new central Legislature which it is proposed to set up. Under the present proposals, the Sultans, to all intents and purposes, are to have no authority whatever. Can they still raise the question of having greater authority, or is the matter now closed? I hope that further discussions may take place on the powers of the State Councils, because if there is one matter on which the Malays are 1557 more anxious than another it is that the control and alienation of land shall remain with the State Councils, and if that can be retained, as it is now, it would go a very long way towards satisfying their susceptibilities.
One other point raised in the Second Reading Debate and mentioned today is that, in the proposal which has been outlined today, the Governor has certain reserve powers to safeguard fundamental Malay rights. That, I think, is a great advance, and I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for having accepted it. There is one other matter which I think will have to be referred to sooner or later, and that is the educational policy which it is proposed to follow, because, if we are going to try to create a sense of common citizenship, it must start, fundamentally, in the schools. The Chinese or Indians, or any other immigrant races, cannot have it both ways. They expect to be given equal rights with Malays, but every other country in the world where there is a multilateral civilisation, has, I think, started with the schools. I want to ask whether that important question can still be considered in these further negotiations.
I am very glad the hon. Gentleman has gone a very long way to meet us, but it is most unfortunate that all this has happened because the two aims which the Government have in view are supported, not only by all parties in this House, but also by all communities in Malaya. But we must face the fact that a lot of damage has already been done. We have succeeded in driving a wedge between the Malay rulers and their people. We have created greater racial friction than has ever existed in that country before, and we have laid the British Government open to charges—I will not say of bad faith—but certainly of smart business which have never been levelled against us before. I hope sincerely that the statement which the hon. Gentleman has made, and the further assurances which I hope he will still give to the Committee on those specific points raised by my hon. Friends and myself, will very largely dispel that bad atmosphere and allow these negotiations to go forward in that spirit of complete loyalty between the Malayan rulers, their peoples and the British Crown which has hitherto existed and without 1558 which no scheme of federation, such as we all want, can possibly ever succeed.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
I appreciate the conciliatory tone of the Under-Secretary, and I agree with the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) that the hon. Gentleman has tried to go a very long way towards meeting us. At the same time, he will forgive me if I say that I cannot escape the conclusion that, in point of fact, the WhitePaper was published and the Bill brought before the House without any approach being made by the Government to Chungking. I cannot escape the conclusion that if, in fact, any such approach had been made, the Government would have been perfectly willing totell us that it was made, the date on which it was made, and the nature of the answer, and, that being so, I must say that I regret the handling of this whole situation by the Government. I would feel happier if I could persuade some of my hon. Friends torecord their misgivings and register in the Lobby, as well as by speeches, their protest at the handling of this situation by the Government. Without going back to the argument which we had on the Second Reading, this Clause which is the essence of the Bill deprives the Malay rulers of their sovereignty, in which is juridically constituted the only guarantee and safe-guard of the whole Malay race. I cannot help feeling, in these circumstances, that those of us who feel unhappy about the handling of this whole matter, should vote against this Clause.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
After listening to the remarks that have been made by hon. Members opposite, I am sure it is necessary to say a word or two in connection with Malaya. It is very bad and verysad that we should have hon. Members, such as the two previous speakers, complimenting the Minister on the fact that he has gone a good way to meet them. That is not progress forward; it is progress backward. The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) saidthat the Chinese and the Indians could not have it both ways, and that they could not have the same rights as the Malayans without accepting responsibility. I was not aware that the Malays had any rights, and I cannot see that there are any rights for them in this Bill. Nobody can tell 1559 me that this Bill is a model of democracy. These people are divided up by Orders in Council, or by laws to be promulgated by Orders in Council. Hon. Members on both sides have talked about the Indians and Chinese having dual nationality. That was not the trouble in Malaya. Sir George —I cannot recall the name, but he was one of the chiefs of the Civil Service of Malaya.
§ Mr. Oliver Poole (Oswestry)
Try "Maxwell." Mr. Gallaeher: If hon. Members have read the book written by Sir George Maxwell, I cannot understand them speaking as they have spoken this afternoon. In his book Sir George makes it clear that when the attack was made upon Malaya, the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians had no rights whatever other than to sit down and keep quiet. They had no right to defend their own land, and the conditions that obtained were responsible for what happened and for the suffering, the deaths and the mutilations that occurred all the way down to Singapore. The small British garrisons there were the only people capable of meeting and dealing with the Japanese. The inhabitants were told to behave themselves and sit quiet and that they had nothing to do with it. The outstanding thing was the way they acted, despite the fact that they had been so badly treated. Is it necessary to tell hon. Members of this Committee that the white man in Malaya was a separate and superior member of the master race and that the Malayans, the Chinese and the Indians were treated alike? There was no question of the white man differentiating between them. If we are to learn the lesson of what happened in Malaya, and apply it, we should give real rights to the people of that area—Chinese and Indians as well as Malayans—and give them the opportunity to express themselves, to build up their country and to build up their manhood and womanhood as responsible citizens, and not as people to be played with by British administrators. This Bill is merely continuing what has happened in the past, and I feel it necessary that something of this sort should be said.
I again ask hon. Members to read Sir George Maxwell's book, which is a simple, factual history of events right through Malaya, from Penang up to the collapse of Singapore. Having read it, I ask them 1560 to get rid of the hypocrisy which we have heard expressed from the other side, that it is necessary for them, being superior individuals, to look after Malays, Chinese and Indians because those people are in-capable of looking after themelves. I can imagine hon. Members opposite making reservations and saying, "We, on the Tory side, were born as a race of rulers or, if not born as a race of rulers, we managed to creep in with those who considered they were the race of rulers. We, who are somuch superior to the representatives of the proletariat, have the God-given mission to look after inferior races." They have always talked about "inferior races," and there is no question about the fact that they have treated those races as infants. For along time they adopted the same attitude towards the people of this country. But the people of this country are now on their feet, and it will not be long before the ruling Glasses are off theirs. It is simply arrogant presumption which causes them to adopt the attitude that, somehow or other, God has chosen them to be the superiors of the peoples of the East. If the peoples of the East—the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians—get the opportunity to develop their own country, we shall get better conditions in Malaya, than we can get through a Bill of this kind.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)
I think the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallaeher) has not only not read his Maxwell, but, also, has not studied the past history of Malaya, because it is not so long ago since the Malays in their various States were fighting against one another and piracy was rampant in the Malacca Straits. It was at the request of the Malayan rulers—or some of them, at any rate—that we took over the control of that country and shared with them a better form of government. That is why we are there today.
Passing from that, I want to say a word or two about the question of Malayan citizenship. I have twice visited the Malay States and stayed in the country for several months on each occasion. The first thing that struck me about that country was that it was the happiest part of our Colonial Empire in which it had ever been my good fortune to stay on prolonged visits. There was no question 1561 of either the Malays, Chinese or Tamils wanting to have anything to do with self-government. They were perfectly happy as they were. One interesting incident happened to my son, who has been for many years in the Malayan Civil Service and who, after being a prisoner in Japanese hands for three and a half years, got his release. With others he left the prison camp to walk into Singapore, surrounded by thousands of cheering Malays and Chinese. The burden of their rejoicing was this: "Come back and govern us as you did before. We in this country knew then what real peace and happiness were, and the sooner you get back and take control again the better." I ask the Committee, is that not much better testimony than the sort of nonsense we have heard from the hon. Member for West Fife?
There is this danger. We are all anxious to see the Malays given every right in their own country, but there is a danger, which we must be careful to avoid, in dealing with the Chinese. The Chinese in Malaya are a race who have done the bulk of the hard work in the country. They are first-class mechanics and good in civil engineering, whereas the Malay native likes to lead an easier life. He will drive a car, operate a lift, or do a little gardening or something of that sort, but he does not like much physical exertion. He is one of nature's gentlemen. We have the third influx—the Tamils—who have come over on contracts for two or three years, to work on rubber estates, make a bit of money and go back again, and, perhaps, in a year or two renew their contracts. But what did the Chinese do? I was astonished the last time I was there, when staying in Singapore, to see at one quay ships coming in with loads of Chinese, and at the other quay ships 'going out with Chinese returning to their own land from Malaya. I could not understand this at all. It was a time when there was a slump. What has always been behind this Chinese immigration and emigration is that, when times were bad in China, a great many wanted to go toa rich country like Malaya, where they could earn big money and stay there for two, three or four years, accumulate what they thought was sufficient for the time being, and then go back to their own country. There were, of course, a number of Chinese capitalists who, years ago, invested their 1562 money in the country and accumulated considerable wealth, and some of them have made the country their residence for life.
There may be a great change in the future. We all hope China will become a prosperous country, and if she does, there may not be this desire on the part of the Chinese to go into Malaya. I hope when these consultations take place in Malaya to decide the basis of citizenship, very careful consideration will be given primarily to the arguments put forward by the Malays themselves. After all, it is their country; they have no desire to keep other people out, but they do not want to run the risk of being overruled by races whom they look upon as aliens.
§ 4.45 p.m.
Mr. Creech Jones
I feel it necessary, at the outset, completely to repudiate any criticism that has been made of the manner in which the Government have handled this particular problem. I do not accept the criticisms which have been made in various parts of the Committee, in the Press and elsewhere, as to the "unseemly haste" which the Government have shown, and the "unfortunate manner" in which they have tried to secure a verdict on this broad policy. There has been no attempt at "smart business" as was suggested by the hon. Memberfor Hornsey (Mr. Gammans). On the contrary, every effort has been made to get our proposals widely known, to secure the maximum discussion of them and to find a solution to an admittedly difficult problem, which could only be solved with the general good will of all the people involved in it.
A number of questions have been put to me, which I shall try to answer. So far as I know, no Sultans have been called home. A question was raised a little while ago as to whether facilities could be given to the Sultan of Kedah. Those facilities were made available to him. The Sultan of Johore, of course, is in this country already, but, apart from those two Sultans I know of no general request by the Sultans to come to this country for the purpose of discussing these matters. I was asked about the financial implications of this policy. If the hon. Member who raised the point will turn to the Statement of Policy on the future constitution, published in October, and also to the precis of the proposed Orders in Council, he will find 1563 whole sections in both papers concerned with this problem—the financial issues involved and the question of assets and liabilities—and I do not think when he has read those passages, he will have any undue apprehension as to the policy which the Government propose to follow.
Mr. Creech Jones
It is not my desire to delay the Committee. There is a whole section which hon. Members have read, and I think it would be a waste of time to read half a page containing several paragraphs of a document which has been in the hands of hon. Members for the last six months.
I come to the question raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). He wanted to know what would be the juridical status of the Malayan Union. The answer is that it would be a Protectorate. The powers of jurisdiction would be ceded under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act. A further question was asked about the making of the Order in Council, and the validity of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act in regard to the Order. It will be appreciated that the Order in Council which has to be made under the Bill, will draw its validity from two Acts of Parliament. So far as the Straits Settlements are concerned, it is the British Settlements Acts, which are involved So far as the Malay States are concerned, it is the Foreign Jurisdiction Act which gives the necessary powers.
A further question was put in regard to educational policy. This Bill is essentially a Bill concerned with the constitutional problems involved, and educational and social policies are matters which obviously would receive the closest examination of the Government in the light of the new conditions in Malaya. Indeed, for some long time educational policy has received very, very careful thought and attention. There is no intention that the Department should abandon the very great interest which it has always taken in this particular aspect of social policy. The hon. Member for Hornsey took a somewhat gloomy view as to the effect in Malaya of the publication of this statement of policy. I do not take that gloomy view, for the reason that the reaction to the policy among Malayans has been to create, for the first time, a Malayan consciousness in regard 1564 to Malayan problems. Today we are witnessing amongst the Malayans the emergence of their own representative people who are voicing their views in regard to government, and demanding that they shall play an effective part in the building up of the life of the Peninsula. We, the Government, welcome the emergence of this new opinion in the body of Malayans, those Malayans who with great loyalty to Britain, and sometimes with great courage and devotion, are prepared to apply their minds and their energies to the work of reconstruction and rehabilitation. If this policy is adopted, I think greater opportunities than ever before will be available to them for finding a way to the solution of many of their problems.
I was asked about the problem of commoncitizenship. Let me repeat the words I used in the earlier part of the Debate on this Clause. I said that the Government cannot abandon the basic principle of common citizenship; that is to say, the basic principle which demands' that political rights in the Malayan Union should be extended to those who regard Malaya as their real home and as the object of their loyalty. Many points have been raised in regard to the interpretation of "citizenship" and what is really meant by "common citizenship." Numerous points have been put regarding relations with other powers, and the interpretation of "citizenship" with respect to China, India and so on. I have no desire to be drawn into these discussions because of the pledge which I have already given the Committee. The whole question of citizenship is one which will be explored very thoroughly by the Government and by the Governors, in consultation with all interests. For the moment I think it wiser that I should give no undertaking to the Committee beyond the one which I have already given.
There is only one other point I wish to make, namely, that in the Order in Council which must be issued a number of immediate matters will obviously have to be attended to. There is not only the question of the appointment ofa Governor and an advisory body, but also the setting up of the Sultans' Advisory Councils in the respective states, the setting up of the central body for the Sultans to advise the Governor, and a body in regard to religious legislation, which will be outside his responsibility.
1565 It will also be necessary to appoint a supreme court, subordinate courts and a chief justice in order that the administration of justice may go on. The Order in Council is essentially a framework; it is a scaffolding around which the other parts of the constitution will be built. I think I have answered most of the points which have been raised and I hope that now the Committee will give us the Clause.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.