§ 3.41 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
The Colonial Secretary has a peculiar difficulty today in addressing the Committee, because, in the aftermath of war, all colonial territories have been anxious that their affairs should receive the close attention of the British Government, and the last few years have been years of unparalleled activity. I have tried to put the Committee in possession of a great deal of information regarding colonial development and policy over the last decade, and hon. Members will have in then-possession a report on the working of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, a report on the research committees which have been examining many of the difficult problems with respect to colonial administration and the problems of the territories, and also a review of the years since the last report was published for the information of the House, 1939 to 1947. There is a further report available to hon. Members on the West Indies in regard to development work in that part of the world. I think it will be generally agreed that these documents represent a creditable record of effort and of solid 264 achievement over recent years, and I would like, at the outset, to pay my tribute, and I am sure my predecessors in office would also desire so to do, to our colonial services and the staff of our Colonial Office for the excellent work which they have done over the last decade.
The period since the war has been one of special difficulty, because of the troubled background in almost all regions of the world. We have had, in the Colonial Empire, to transform the territories back to normal peace-time conditions, to adjust their individual economies, to absorb their military forces, to restore the ravages of war, to review the colonial services, to cope with neglect and disturbance and grievances, to satisfy the claims of nationalism and expanding freedom, to discuss the highly controversial problems of international policy, to deal with planning in conditions of fluctuating economies and to make practical demonstrations, in spite of the shortages of manpower, materials and skills, of our desire to serve the colonial peoples in peace as in war.
It will be appreciated by the Committee that colonial progress is not a matter merely of directives from the Colonial Office or the Government of the day. We have to get implemented in our territories our principles and policies, it is true, but, at the same time, in all our efforts, we have to remember that our territories are advancing to some degree of responsible self-government, and, accordingly, we cannot impose our will. We have to persuade them to build up their own institutions with the acceptance of the sound policies which we feel will make for the betterment of the colonial territories. If the Colonial Office is to perform its important services, it is essential that it should have the requisite knowledge for the work in hand, and our object is to transform the dependencies in the Colonial Empire to responsibility, and to exercise a trust so that each blossoms into a partnership of disinterested service and friendship. We try to give what practical aid we can in achieving the social happiness and well-being of the colonial peoples, and, at the same time, to help the colonial peoples to make their contribution to the larger life of mankind itself.
With that in view, over the past years, we have tried to improve our organisation 265 at the centre of Government here in London, and, in the past year, we have strengthened our advisory machinery, appointed women advisers in nursing, in education and labour, appointed new advisers in the field of co-operation, social services, transport and surveys, and we have developed functional organisation in connection with economic problems, labour co-operation and the welfare of the colonial peoples. In Britain, we have reorganised our public relations department in order that a better service of information may be made available to the British public and to foreign States, and also that some contribution may be made in regard to the relations in the colonial territories themselves. We have carried forward our research arrangements with special committees now covering agriculture, health, economics, social services, fisheries and so on, and here, in passing, may I pay a special tribute in the field of research to Lord Hailey for the contribution he has made unfailingly from his very great knowledge over so vast a field in recent years.
We have also built up a strong survey organisation, with geologists, surveyors and draughtsmen. Here again I would like to thank the Royal Air Force for the contribution they have made in mapping out regions of the Empire which were hitherto indifferently mapped, thus giving us a great deal of knowledge about geology, water and so on. Finally, we have completed the arrangements for refreshing and renewing colonial staff after the strain and difficulties of the war years.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
On a point of Order, Major Milner. It is really impossible to listen to what the Colonial Secretary is saying because of the humming noise from the amplifiers in the Chamber. Can we have this science turned off somehow? It just makes noises as if we had a high fever, like high-ringing bells.
§ The Chairman (Major. Milner)
I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member, having suffered from it for the past two days. I will see what can be done.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I was referring to the refresher training of the Colonial Service. We have adopted the proposals of the Devonshire Report and have 266 begun to operate the conditions which were set out in the White Paper when that report was published. As a consequence we have had 120 colonial cadets in training at Oxford and Cambridge universities. They have now gone in for and are taking their second course of the first session, and others are taking their first course at London University just now. I would like, because of the excellent work which the Universities have performed in making colonial studies possible to the cadets, to thank them, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, for this important contribution. I would also like to inform the Committee of the excellent quality of the new recruits in the Colonial Service. The teachers of these men and women, the university authorities and all those who are working with them, pay tribute to the very high quality, the energy, the initiative and the intelligence of the men who are now joining the service.
It is of interest to know that in the general recruitment, by which nearly 3,000 men and women have been brought into the colonial services, a large number of them have come from varying walks of life. They are not men straight from the schools or universities. Among the administrative people only one half of those recruited have come from the universities. At least 40 per cent. have come from the fields of local government, finance, industry and commerce, and so on. The quality of the cadets is, beyond question, very high.
I would now like to turn to political developments during the past year and to make a number of references to constitutions which we have reshaped. We have entered a phase of colonial history in which there is a widespread demand from the colonial people, or at any rate from the vocal elements of them, for more practical evidence of the sincerity of our oft-proclaimed policy of conferring self-government on the colonial communities. I am convinced that in this modern age, with its forces of nationalism and freedom, its economic changes, its spread of education, and the political and social awakening which is going on, we must adjust ourselves to a much quicker tempo of constitutional development than would have seemed practicable a few years ago. We have to experiment boldly, though not necessarily rashly, and to recognise that 267 while the transfer of power to people not fully trained or with adequate experience or traditions to exercise it will lead to mistakes being made, it is only through actual experience in the exercise of responsibility that people can acquire a sense of duty and of service. The process may be a painful one, but the alternative of increasing bitterness and tension in the relationship of the people to the Government would be disastrous.
I want first, then, to refer to Ceylon. She will shortly move, when her new constitution has come into operation, her new government is set up and a number of outstanding matters with us settled, to fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations. The new status will differ in no respect from what we have been accustomed to call dominion status. Ceylon will be the first colony to achieve this new status since the relationships between the members of the British Commonwealth were expressly defined by the Imperial Conference of 1926. She will, I am sure, fully enter into the spirit of co-operation which is characteristic of the relationship of members of the British Commonwealth with one another. Here, it would be just that I should take this opportunity of expressing our gratitude to those who have contributed to the success of this development. My thought goes back to the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) when he was an official of the Ceylon Government, to Lord Soulbury for his more recent contribution, to Sir Drummond Shiels for the work that he did, and particularly more recently to the Ceylon leaders themselves, Mr. Senanayake and Sir Oliver Goonetilleke.
As the Committee are aware, the Governor of Cyprus has summoned a constituent assembly to discuss the future constitution of that country. It is unknown as yet what success will meet the invitations which have already been issued, but some substantial progress has been made in Cyprus in economic schemes and in local government. The Governor has our completest confidence in the policy which he is energetically pursuing in that colony. In Mauritius and the Seychelles, the new constitutions are finally drafted and will I hope be agreed, and come into operation very shortly. In regard to Malta, the preparation of the instruments to give Malta responsible government in the domestic sphere, in 268 accordance with promises made by His Majesty's Government in 1943, is in an advanced stage. It is hoped that the new constitution will be enacted in time for the first elections to be held in the autumn. During the final stages of drafting, my legal adviser visited Malta for discussion with the constitutional committee of the Malta National Assembly. I am glad to say that all outstanding points have been cleared up in those discussions.
I would like also to refer to the West Indies, because here again a great deal of political activity is going on and changes of importance are occurring. The Jamaica Legislative Council has already expressed the desire to bring into review the working of the constitution in anticipation of the first five years operation of that constitution. Barbados is engaged in a very interesting experiment in respect of executive government and responsibility to the legislative body. British Honduras has just sent a deputation to London, and I have had the privilege of discussing with them the changes which they feel necessary in their own political arrangements. The discussions between the Leeward and Windward Islands for the union of these groups are still going on, and I hope before very long to be able to announce that success has attended these discussions and that union will become a fact.
In regard to British Guiana, the franchise has been extended and a commission will shortly be going out to examine there the problems of settlement and questions relating to development. In Trinidad the first Legislative Council on the basis of adult suffrage has been created and they are now looking forward to further changes in their constitutional arrangements. But perhaps the most important development of all, following the circular of my predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), to the West Indian Governments, is the calling together of a conference in September and October to discuss the problem of federation, or at least closer association between the West Indian territories.
I turn now to the Far East. In Sarawak the administration is steadily winning the confidence of the people. It is giving attention to health and education problems, and steps are now being taken to 269 associate the people more closely with the Government, and new local government institutions are being created. In the case of North Borneo the new administration has replaced the Chartered Company, and it is hoped that the arbitration proceedings between the Company and the Government will be heard later this year. In the case of the constitution of Hong Kong, the despatches from and to the Governor, Sir Mark Young, have now been placed in the Library, and the Legislative Council has been modified and a new municipal council, more representative of the people, created.
The Committee is acquainted with the discussions which have been going on during the past year or so in regard to the future constitution of Malaya. These discussions have been proceeding with the Malays and the non-Malays in the Peninsula, and at last certain conclusions have been reached. They achieved His Majesty's Government's main policy of establishing in Malaya a strong central government and securing the basis of common citizenship among all the peoples who make Malaya their homeland and the centre of their loyalties. I recognise the difficulty of discussing these proposals in the Committee today, and I hope that after the Recess it may be possible, with the consent of the Leader of the House, for an opportunity to be found for the Committee or the House to make observations on these arrangements. I would again like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the Governor-General, to Sir Edward Gent, the Governor of the Malayan Union, and to Sir Harold MacMichael for his early work with regard to the constitution there. I would like to thank them and to pay our tribute to the services they have rendered in bringing about this happy result. At the same time, we would like to express our deep appreciation of the spirit which was brought to this task by the Malays and the rulers of the Malays themselves, as well as the non-Malay communities.
Singapore will have its new constitution as well. That will come into operation either at the beginning of the year or not later than 1st April, but it is important that I should say, although a statement is included in the White Paper I have recently published, that if at any time after the inauguration of the new constitution the Government of the Federation of Malaya or of Singapore wishes to 270 press that Singapore should join the Federation, it will be wholly free to do so and to request formal consideration of this subject. It will then be for the two Governments to agree on appropriate means of examining the proposal. No doubt joint consultative machinery would be devised for the necessary negotiations. This is a matter to be settled primarily by the Governments and peoples of Malaya and Singapore. Clearly, no decision involving a change could be taken without the consent of the Governments and Legislatures of both territories.
I regret that I have not the time to discuss the remarkable political and constitutional changes which have occurred in Africa during the last few years. There have been changes in the structure of most of the Executives of the colonies there, an increase in responsibility by the inclusion of Africans, a growth of local government and of municipal life, an adaptation of native administration to carry increasing burdens of services which minister to the well-being of the people, and a development of native provincial councils. All this work in the field of constitutional development is going on and great political changes are resulting, but I would say that the problem of local government and the adaptation of native administrations is one of very special difficulty. Next month it is our purpose to hold at Cambridge a conference of colonial officials who are especially concerned with this work in the colonies in order that there shall be an exchange of views on the future development of native administration.
The time is also ripe for discussion by all concerned in the colonies, with London, on basic problems of administration and development. There are various questions concerned with economic development, social services, the growth of political institutions and problems of local government which call for closer examination and an exchange of views between London and the African Colonies. Accordingly it is our purpose in November of this year to summon a conference in London of the Governors of the African territories in order to exchange ideas, and then in the late spring or early summer of next year to invite to London unofficial members of the Legislative Councils in order to discuss with us some of the problems I have mentioned.
271 Before leaving the political problems of Africa, I want to make a passing reference to Colonial Paper No. 210 to which some reference is made in the OFFICIAL REPORT yesterday in reply to a Question put to me on the subject. All of us who know anything at all about the problems of East Africa are conscious of the importance and the urgency of building up some inter-territorial organisation there for the fuller development of the economic needs of that part of the world. Accordingly, it is proposed to set up a central assembly. In the first instance, this experiment will be made for four years, but at least it will permit of some public control in the development of certain services which at present are under the direction of the Governors and are in no real sense answerable directly to public criticism. The final responsibility, of course, for the development of East Africa will continue to rest with His Majesty's Government through the House of Commons, but these proposals will not involve anything in the nature of closer union in. the political sense.
There has been some misunderstanding and some misrepresentation in regard to the nature of the central assembly of this inter-territorial organisation. As we announced previously in Colonial Paper No. 191, which was the basis of much discussion in East Africa, our purpose was that there should be in the central assembly equal representation of the various communities in that part of Africa, and that they should be equally represented from the three respective territories. That principle we have not abandoned. What we have done, instead of the high commission set up under this scheme appointing four nominated persons to serve on that assembly, is to ask the unofficial members of each Legislative Council to select one of their number to represent the territorial interests of their colony, and he will sit with the three representatives of the respective communities and represent, as against racial demand, territorial needs. I hope that in its final form this scheme will have the goodwill and the full co-operation of all the communities in East Africa.
I want to pass for a few minutes to the consideration of some of the problems of social development, because if democracy is to be a reality in our colonies, we have 272 to do something much more than create suitable political institutions. We have to see that good social life is possible, that there is good health, good facilities for education, good housing and all those conditions which help to build up the life of a people. There has been much criticism in the past about the negligence, about the squalor, the disease, the ignorance and the rest in regard to our colonial territories, and we are all conscious that our task is largely to create in these territories the whole apparatus of modern government and to build up from scratch a whole series of new social services.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That work cannot be done in a day. It takes a long time to build up, if these conditions are to be of permanent value in the life of these territories. I would say, too, that although we recognise the magnitude of this task and the solidarity of past achievements, we enter into it and shall attempt to discharge it, in no complacent spirit. We try to look at this problem of social growth in all its aspects and try to relate every part of our activity to bringing these things together so that we see the pattern whole.
I would like to make reference to education and the work during the past year in the field of higher education. I want to thank the universities for the service of many of their vice-chancellors upon the Inter-University Council created last year, and also for their contribution in respect to the Grants Committee which is supervising the financial needs of the university institutions that are being brought into being. As hon. Members know, we are creating in the principal colonial regions a series of university colleges. Already the Principal of the West Indies University College has been appointed and has been at work. The Principal in West Africa has been appointed and is now in Nigeria preparing the way. Developments are occurring in the Gold Coast. We are discussing the future of the University of Hong Kong. We have had a mission to South-East Asia for the purpose of settling the basis of the University in Malaya, and also a commission has gone to Makerere in Uganda in East Africa to develop the higher education institution in order to meet the needs of higher education there.
273 It will probably surprise hon. Members to know that there are no fewer than 1,500 colonial students in this country at present, most of them attached to our universities, who are preparing for their life in their own colonies. That means, of course, that there is a considerable demand for higher educational facilities in all our territories, and we have to hasten forward with the provision in the territories if the peoples are to make a satisfactory contribution to the developing life about them. I want to refer also to another aspect of education which is of particular importance at this stage in colonial development. We have had in this country for colonial peoples a study scheme of further education and vocational training, and no fewer than 1,530 colonial people, men and women, have availed themselves of these facilities and are studying professional subjects, trades, and other studies in order to return to their country better fitted to join in the economic life
§ Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)
Could the Secretary of State say whether either the 1,500 colonial students at universities or the 1,530 having vocational training in elude those at the Inns of Court, or are they additional?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
So far as the Inns of Court are concerned, I believe there are about 184 in addition to the numbers I have mentioned. There has been in the colonies, too, a tremendous amount of trade and technical training for ex-Service men on demobilisation from the Army, and they should make a valuable contribution in the days to come to the economic life of those territories.
§ Mr. Harrison (Nottingham, East)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves that question of higher education in the colonies, may I ask if the Colonial Office has taken into consideration the possibility of so developing the educational O.C.T.U. on the higher level as to be out of all proportion to the general economic educational facilities that can be developed in the colony generally, and so prove a source of danger to the development of the ordinary life of the colony?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
No, the building of the university colleges will be done from moneys provided out of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, but the maintenance of these colleges will undoubtedly 274 fall in part on local colonial funds. We hope that with the further economic developments going on in the territories these additional costs can be sustained, but higher education development is properly related to the general educational development as a whole.
§ Mr. Harrison
I do not think my right hon. Friend has quite appreciated my point. Is there a danger of the development of an educated hierarchy in some of our ill-developed colonies, which in the long run will prove a nuisance in the development of those territories?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
No, this point is often put, but, in point of fact, we cannot get very far with the economic development of a colony, or build up its social life, unless we have higher educational institutions. That is to say, we cannot get teachers in secondary schools or primary schools, unless we have higher educational institutions, and all this is part of the education system. There is no danger, I think, of the product of the higher education system getting out of relationship with the other parts of the education system. In the Colonial Development Fund £1 million is also set on one side for the training of colonial civil servants or members of the colonial services who had their origin in the colonies themselves. Our universities here will be receiving men who have not had normal facilities to fit them for administrative and technical work in the colonies in the services to which they belong.
I must pass over the work which is going forward in regard to primary and secondary education, the build-up of training colleges, and efforts which are being made to extend girls' and women's education. Some of that development is referred to in the White Paper on the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, where the 10-year plans of the respective colonies are discussed. I had also hoped that I could say a few words with regard to what is popularly called mass education. In the past year, in the light of our experience in the colonies, we have issued a further paper to the Colonial Governments indicating more concrete lines of advance in regard to this aspect of education. But I must leave this fascinating subject to the Under-Secretary to deal with at the end of the Debate.
§ Squadron Leader Donner (Basingstoke)
Is this a paper which has been made available, or a new paper, and if it is a new paper, could the right hon. Gentleman indicate what the concrete lines are?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will wait for the Under-Secretary who will make a statement on that. The paper has not been published, but has been sent, of course, to the Colonial Governments.
I also wish to make passing reference to health. Here again the inadequacy of our health arrangements is freely admitted, and very widely known. Apart from the importance of curative medicine, we attach the greatest importance to preventive medicine, and in the 10-year programmes recently submitted by Colonial Governments, which have been considered by the Colonial Office, a great deal of thought has been given to the improvement of water supplies, sanitation in the villages, nursing services, child welfare and maternity and, of course, of more suitable housing provisions. Today I cannot describe the very considerable schemes of housing development, slum clearance and town planning which have been adopted in many of our territories. Great attention has also been given to the problem of nutrition and by way of illustration of that fact there is the presence in the Gambia of a special team made up of workers in the medical field, in agriculture, and education, combining in an attack on this problem.
I also wish to refer to the attention given to social welfare. Here again in recent years there has been great development due largely to the impetus of bringing the people over to this country a few years ago to study the work of voluntary societies, and the social services of this country, in order to inspire some of the younger people in the colonies who work with the voluntary organisations in their social services. In almost all our colonies social welfare officers have been appointed, and increasing attention has been given to the needs of youth and adolescents. We are about to appoint a new Adviser on Social Welfare, and an effective committee has been at work on the problems of welfare. One of the sub-committees of that main committee has given very much attention to the treatment of offenders, conditions in 276 prisons and the problem of juvenile crime.
I also wish to refer to the growth of co-operation in the colonies. We owe a great deal to the pioneer work which was done by Strickland and others in Cyprus, Ceylon, and elsewhere, and that work is going forward in East Africa, West Africa, and the West Indies, and most of the colonies today have co-operative departments. Most of the colonies have passed ordinances for the protection and development of co-operative practice, and we have appointed an Adviser and set up an advisory committee to follow the development of co-operation, and to offer advice, and have made arrangements for young men and women from the colonies to come here to study co operation in practice. The co-operative movement here has made arrangements at Loughborough College for special colonial courses to be adapted and brought into operation.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate training these persons in production, distribution, or both, because the co-operative movement in this country is largely a distributive movement; and in the past it has not had a very great success in production?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
In these studies we cover the whole field of co-operative practice. It is quite true that the colonies so far have been mainly concerned with production, credit and thrift organisations, but in the range of studies the problems of distribution will be included. At the same time, there is a special demand, particularly in East Africa, from the Africans themselves, that they should learn something of the principles of trade and commerce, and particularly of distribution through co-operative stores.
I also wish to refer to the growth of the labour departments in the colonies. We have now 19 experienced trade unionists operating in the colonies and they are of great service in trying to get the trade union movement established on firm and proper lines. The Trades Union Congress itself has been of great assistance to us in providing training for some of the local officers, and a more comprehensive scheme, including practical training, is nearing completion with the Trades Union Congress for the better training of trade 277 unionists. There has also been a considerable extension in the field of welfare provision. We may claim that in most of our colonies we have today on the statute book, ordinances concerned with wage regulation, conciliation, workmen's compensation, trade union rights and inspection of labour conditions. I know that the Committee will join with me in expressing their deep regret at the passing of Sir Granville Orde Brown. All of us appreciate the contribution he made over a period of years to our knowledge of labour conditions in many of the overseas territories. We have also enjoyed the services of a number of experienced trade unionists in regard to special industrial problems in the colonies. Mr. Dalgleish was able to study the problem of native labour conditions in Northern Rhodesia and the problem of the colour bar there. Mr. Dalley went to Trinidad, and was able to be of some practical assistance to the Labour Department also. The Committee will appreciate how difficult has been the background of this work. With fluctuating prices, a rising cost of living and a certain amount of food shortages, the work in regard to conditions of labour has been exceedingly trying in the past few years, but we are very glad of the remarkable progress already made in regard to labour inspection and labour protection.
I now turn to economic development. It has become increasingly important to this country that our territories overseas should be more fully developed so that they can make their contribution to the general life of the world in much more ample terms than has been possible up to now. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1945, was an important contribution to colonial economic development. It was a marked advance on the limited provision made in 1929 and in 1940. We are conscious today that there are still marked possibilities in the colonies, and that failure to develop them becomes intolerable when those colonies could make some substantial contribution to the present needs of the world. As I have said, the 1945 Act made, in the social and economic field, an important contribution to the well-being of the colonial peoples, and also in laying the foundations upon which future economic development could build. It was necessary that some balance should be preserved as between expenditure on social 278 services and economic needs, but it is clear that no line can be drawn between social expenditure and economic expenditure, because social expenditure adds to the efficiency of a people. If education and good health are given to a people, economic production is, as a rule, more effective and much more efficient. We have, however, always to look ahead, so that in the building up of social services there is sufficient economic development going on to sustain the new services which are created in the field of health, education, housing, etc.
Under the 1945 Act a great deal of work was done in the field of physical planning, surveying, exploration of agricultural development, and planning the development of communications and other utilities. We have been receiving the ten-year programmes from the respective colonies. These have been examined by the Colonial Development and Economic Council, and I would like to thank that council for the work which they have done in the past eight or nine months in bringing to our notice the deficiencies of certain of those programmes, in criticising proposals and in putting up suggestions for the improvement of those plans. Lord Portal was the chairman of that council, and we are indebted to him and all its members, for the work they have done. The 1945 Act made available a sum for loans and grants amounting to £120 million over the next 10 years for social and economic growth, but it should be appreciated that that £120 million was, and is to be, supplemented by local funds, local reserves and local taxation. If we add what it is anticipated can be raised by local efforts, the total sum available for development work is in the neighbourhood of £300 million over the 10 years, that is, £120 million subscribed by Imperial funds plus roughly £180 million which will be created in the colonies out of their own funds and by loans of various kinds.
For instance, if one looks at the development of Nigeria, it will be seen that the plan is made on the assumption of an expenditure of £55 million, of which only £23 million is to come from funds under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. No less than £15 million will be raised by Nigeria from its own revenue, and £17 million will be raised by way of loans. In the case of Kenya, we anticipate over the ten years an 279 expenditure on development plans of £20 million to £21 million. Only £3½ million of that will come from Imperial funds under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. No less than £10 million will come from their own local revenue and reserves, and £7 million from loans which they intend to raise.
I would ask the Committee to note that the main economic expenditure under the 1945 Act so far is in respect of agricultural development and roads and communications, expenditure on utilities of various kinds, surveys, railways, and so on. There is comparatively little money available for new enterprise, new crops, etc. Today we are making a very big effort in the colonies to increase production in all directions. We have various missions overseas examining production on the spot for the purpose of increasing it and discovering whether new methods can be applied and whether certain public works can be created to make production much more fruitful. We have an inter-departmental committee at work on all primary commodities produced in the colonies. Various commodities are being studied, including tobacco, timber, manilla hemp and so on, for the purpose of seeing what can be done to get increased production from the colonies. Again, we have been pressing all our Colonial Governments to go ahead with new agricultural production of such things as are in short supply here, including linseed and soya beans. We are improving the facilities for the training of our technical staffs in these fields and also we are going ahead with new research organisation.
Hon. Members are aware that already a big production scheme is on foot in East Africa, concerned with groundnuts. It is anticipated that for food development no less than £50 million will be behind that corporation for the work it has in hand. I made an announcement in the House a few weeks ago that a new corporation, the Colonial Development Corporation, would be created with £100 million behind it.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
Does that £100 million include the £50 million already referred to in connection with groundnuts?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
No, the £50 million will be behind the Overseas Foodstuffs 280 Corporation. It is quite apart from the £100 million which it is now anticipated will be made available for the work of the Development Corporation.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
Can the Minister say what is the optimum target figure, in tonnage, of groundnuts that is being aimed at?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Obviously I cannot answer that question without notice. Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will be able to supply that information when he replies to the Debate. In regard to the corporation, all the preliminary work is going forward. Obviously we cannot discuss the corporation today. I hope that a Bill will be introduced in the new Session. At the moment we are doing all we can to encourage existing enterprise. I am certain that the corporation will be able to give additional encouragement and practical aid to both private and public enterprise and itself will be able to finance and undertake important operations. I would also add that, of course, these developments must be designed to improve the economies of territories overseas. We are not approaching this problem of increased production merely in terms of colonial exploitation. We regard the contribution which the corporation will make as important in building up the permanent economies of the territories concerned. What will be done will be done in co-operation with the Colonial Governments. It will be done in harmony with their development schemes, and I hope that it will have the full co-operation of the colonial peoples themselves. Indeed, the fullest consideration will be given to the welfare requirements of the colonial peoples.
Apart from all this public effort, there is also in our Colonial Empire at present a very considerable amount of other private and public effort which ought to be mentioned. It is of great importance to notice that many of the big private corporations themselves are thinking in large terms in regard to some of the development schemes they are adopting in certain of the territories—Messrs. Tate and Lyle in regard to sugar development in Jamaica; Booker Bros in regard to their development in British Guiana; the United Africa Company in respect to West African timber and, in East Africa, in a number of other respects In addition.
281 there is the enterprise of Messrs. Barclay and the Standard Bank of South Africa. All these are indications of the awareness of certain private interests of, the importance of building up sound colonial economies. In addition, on the public side there is the establishment of the Cameroons Corporation which will be responsible not only for the production of bananas, but of other fruits and the possibility of the production of such things as cotton or tobacco in that part of West Africa. Again, there are big schemes for the building up of the manufacture of fertilisers in Tororo, in Uganda. In Kenya they are going forward, with a big agrarian policy. Big experiments are also being made in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia in the production of tung oil. There is a new food yeast factory coming into production in Jamaica, there is a large meat export factory in East Africa, and there are other developments which I could mention.
In some territories some remarkable discoveries have been made recently and it is hoped before long we can get increased lead production from Tanganyika. We have agreed to the construction of a railway in order to facilitate the opening up of the mines for lead. Further, there is the very remarkable discovery of diamonds in Tanganyika. In this connection, I would like to add that, following conversations between the Tanganyika Government, the Tanganyika diamond producing companies and the Diamond Trading Company Limited and Diamond Corporation, the two last named companies have agreed to buy from Tanganyika producers in 1947 and each of the following four years a quantity of diamonds equal to 10 per cent. of their net sales in the year in question. The share of each Tanganyika producer in this contract will be proportionate to his production in 1946. Tanganyika producers have undertaken in consideration of this agreement not to sell diamonds to any other purchasers. There are other matters with which I would like to deal——
§ Mr. Keeling
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of economic development, perhaps he will answer a question. He said that one of the main purposes of this development, especially the two big corporations, was to further the economic welfare of the colonies. Does that mean that fair prices 282 —that is to say, world prices—will be paid by the Ministry of Food and other Departments of the Government who buy these products in bulk.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Yes. The hon. Gentleman has anticipated a point which I was about to develop. Before doing that I wanted to say that there are other matters on the economic side which I wish I had time to develop and which are concerned with the railway system of Rhodesia, the mining royalties of Nigeria, the building up of great power stations, the development of power in East Africa, Malaya and the Gold Coast, and other problems associated with production generally in the field of water and electricity. I ought also to make it clear that there are other sums available for the development of particular crops. As the result of the buying schemes in a number of colonies sums have accumulated which can now be turned to account for improved production and the improvement of conditions of the primary producers and their village life. That is true in respect of the considerable surplus available in the case of cocoa, cotton, coffee and a number of other commodities where considerable surpluses are now available for the use of the producers.
If production goes forward it is obviously important that we should be able to guarantee reasonable prices and markets to those who are encouraged to expand production. We have given much thought to this problem and while, because the time has gone, I am unable to give details of the various schemes we have worked out in respect of colonial commodities, I want to assure the Committee that this vital matter has received our fullest consideration in recent months. Indeed, it is of vital importance that if new capital is being sunk in fresh development there should be some reasonable anticipation of a fair return. Accordingly, in the making of contracts in regard to certain commodities we have tried to assure the primary producer a fair price and in many cases a certain market over a set period. Sometimes, too, there are various devices for maintaining a price level—stabilisation funds and so on—but I have not time to go into that just now. There are other matters I should have liked to tell the Committee about economic development. It is of such importance that it is a pity that we have 283 so little time to do justice to this aspect of colonial administration.
In conclusion, I would say a word concerning our inter-territorial relations inside the Empire and our international collaboration with other powers. I have been unable to inform the Committee of the work which has been done in connection with the international specialised organisations—food, health, trade, education, labour, and so on. Nor can I discuss the work of the Caribbean Commission, or the creation of a new regional council in the South Pacific, or the work of the Central African Council and the West African Council. All these bodies are doing excellent work, but during the last year or so we have developed new contacts with the colonial powers in Europe on the subjects of colonial administration and technical co-operation. We have been developing, as I have said, direct collaboration with the other colonial powers, and an important step forward in our co-operation with France and Belgium in African affairs was taken at a meeting in Paris between representatives of the three Governments towards the end of May. Agreement was reached on a three-years programme of conferences in technical matters between the British, French and Belgian Colonial Governments in Africa. A programme of eight such conferences of technical experts has been agreed on to take place in various African centres—British, French and Belgian.
Some of these conferences will be preceded by meetings in London, Paris or Brussels, to prepare the ground for the conferences in Africa. As the result of these conferences, which range over soil conservation, forestry, rural economy, nutrition, labour, education and health, the problems of the tse-tse fly, trypanosomiasis and rinderpest, and so on, international collaboration is already working splendidly. Participation in the conferences in Africa will not be confined to the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. Other countries which are directly concerned with the subjects under discussion will continue to be invited, and we shall arrange to include Africans themselves among our representatives wherever practicable. The programme drawn up in Paris is to be spaced over the years 1947–1950. The Paris meeting revealed a large measure of identity of views between the Colonial Ministries of the three
284 powers concerned. This development is of particular interest, not only because of the needs of the larger world outside these colonies, but also because of the importance of closer collaboration in Africa for colonial development, and also the special needs of Western Europe in the light of the recent conference which took place in Paris.
My last word is that however comprehensive our planning may be in regard to colonial development, whatever enthusiasm and zeal we bring to the task, we cannot get far unless we have the co-operation and the understanding of the colonial peoples themselves. With the growth of responsibility in our overseas territories it becomes increasingly important that everything possible should be done to help the colonial peoples to an appreciation of our own disinterested service on their behalf. That is a problem of public relations as well as of the colonial service. We believe that we are not in our territories for our own limited material advantage. We are there in the general service of the colonial peoples. We hope that there will be a common appreciation and understanding of our efforts. With the recent developments of our public relations department in the Colonial Office, it is our hope that our schemes and plans will be recognised as designed to that end and we shall secure greater understanding with the colonial peoples. It is not only that they themselves are demanding their place in the sun; it is that we have the privilege and the honour of helping them forward to that realisation. They are able by our service to make a contribution to the larger life of mankind.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
I am sure that the whole Committee is grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the careful, indeed relentless, survey of Colonial affairs which he has given. If, occasionally, there has been some obscurity about his chronology and it has not been possible to determine quite accurately whether the development to which he refers belonged to the year we are discussing, to the two years of this Government, or may even, perchance, draw their origin from a still earlier period, we on this side will have no complaint. I should particularly like to congratulate him on an eloquent peroration. It is the first time that I 285 have heard in this Chamber a peroration based upon a change in the public relations department of a Ministry. I am not under the same obligation as the Secretary of State to go so carefully over the whole field of Colonial policy, and I want, therefore, to exercise the power of selection, which is always a very difficult task when there is so much from which to choose.
There is one matter, however, in which I shall imitate the right hon. Gentleman. The Secretary of State, no doubt with intention, made a speech of no inconsiderable length on Colonial affairs without mentioning the word "Palestine." It is not my intention to discuss that matter today. I agree that one cannot really discuss security without policy, just as one cannot discuss policy pending the meeting of the United Nations organisation. From the right hon. Gentleman's silence, I am assuming that he had no further information than that which we already know to give to the Committee on certain distressing incidents of which we are all aware today. Although I think that it is the general wish of my hon. Friends not to discuss this matter, they and the whole Committee, I am sure, would like to join with me in saying that this Committee watches with anxiety and with sympathy the position of our men in Palestine, and that we regard with horror the dangers to which they are, I think, quite unnecessarily exposed. Nor shall I attempt to deal with the question of Malaya. We depend upon the right hon. 'Gentleman's promise that in the next Session an opportunity will be provided for us to discuss this rather specialised matter, which I think needs discussing. From a cursory glance at the new proposals—although I am by no means averse to them—it would appear that they depart very considerably from the fundamental principles which were laid down only a year ago.
I should, however, like to say one word, as, indeed, the right hon. Gentle man did, about the proposals for the two development corporations. It would clearly be out of Order for me to discuss them in detail, as they are the subject of legislation, and no doubt we shall have a proper opportunity of doing so in the next Session. At the same time, it is very difficult to discuss—and most of us want to—the economic problems of the 286 colonial territories without some reference to them. There are only one or two quite broad matters to which I want to refer. In the first place, we must realise that these new proposals are quite different in character, though they may well be complementary, from those of the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund. That fund was a free gift from the people of this country to the colonies, to be used directly and solely for the benefit of the colonies, although, no doubt, indirectly, through the improvement of colonial conditions, they will redound to the advantage of this country.
These new proposals involve a large sum in loans, the primary purpose of which is to help the consumers in this country, though, undoubtedly, if this money is carefully spent, it will have the secondary effect of helping the territories in which these schemes are to be executed. That difference involves certain dangers, and when the appropriate time comes the House will have to discuss in great detail the safeguards which are to be provided against what the right hon. Gentleman terms "exploitation," because exploitation can come just as well from a Government Department in another country as it can from the fabulous monster of private enterprise.
Secondly, I should like to make this point. We on this side of the Committee are entirely in favour of these corporations; we hope they will succeed. We realise, and, indeed, all hon. Members must realise, that in this matter success does not depend upon saying that there is a certain amount of money or credit behind the corporations. What matters is what priorities are to be given them for the capital goods and the skilled advice which will be necessary for the development. We hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to take a high place in the queue, and that he will not allow himself to be pushed out by more vociferous Ministers. At the same time, we should give every credit to the Government for what they have done, and we should be grateful to them. It may be true that the original idea did not originate with them—that the ground nuts scheme was thought of by executives of the United African Company, then employed by the Ministry of Food, and that the original plan for the Colonial Development Corporations came from the 287 Economic Council under the chairmanship of Lord Portal. But the Government took up both ideas, and are prepared to push them through against the risk.
At the same time, it is only fair to make it plain that the conditions which make this new venture possible today never existed in the past. For instance, we all know that during the war the labour, the transport and the machinery would not have been available for a scheme of this character. But to have spent £50 million before the war in making available a further supply of groundnuts at a cost which, in those days, would not have been the lowest world cost of production, would simply have been throwing money down the drain at a time when our chief anxiety was to find a market for the existing products of West Africa in face of the growing competition from the Dutch East Indies.
There has been a complete change in the economic condition of the world which has made these schemes possible. Indeed, so long as the conditions of scarcity exist, these schemes would appear assured of success. I am sure that, in launching them, those responsible for the corporations will always bear in mind that, some time or other, these conditions may change, and will not venture too far upon production which may appear economic today, but which could not survive when lower postwar costs of production are restored. I now give the right hon. Gentleman notice of a fact which, I hope will be agreeable to him—that, when this Bill comes before the House, we on this side intend to oppose the responsibility of the Ministry of Food for one part of this programme. We do not think it right that the responsibility for executing this programme should depend upon the Ministry of the ultimate consumer. It would obviously create tremendous difficulties if, inside a colonial territory, a particular Ministry, such as the Ministry of Food, were responsible for the production end, while the Colonial Secretary still remained responsible for the effects of that production upon the welfare of the colonial people. We believe that not only the Colonial Development Corporation, but also the Food Corporation should be responsible, 288 not to an alien department, but to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who, therefore, will have in his hands both the responsibility for the production, and also the powers to provide the safeguards.
I want, if I may, to follow the right hon. Gentleman's plan in dealing quite briefly with the three main items into which the annual report on the Colonies has been divided. Incidentally, may I say that we on this side of the Committee postponed this discussion until that report was published. Now that it is published, I am not sure that I feel it was worth while postponing the discussion. It is something to have any report published after the lapse of the war years, but I hope that this report is not going to be the model for future years, because, quite frankly, it is not particularly informative, and anyone who has taken an interest in colonial affairs would find that he had already received all the information contained in it from speeches which have been made, from questions that have been answered, or from papers that have already been circulated. If the right hon. Gentleman would just compare the Annual Report on the Colonies with the paper issued at the same time by the West Indian Commission—Sir John Macpherson's Commission—I think he will realise the difference in the two. I hope it is the latter that he will take as a model for next year's report.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
it is intended to have a rota of reports covering the various regions of the Colonial Empire. One year there will be a report dealing with the West Indies, another year the African Colonies, another year South East Asia and so on, so that there will be regional reports supplementary to- the Colonial Office Report.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am very glad to hear that from the right hon. Gentleman. That will be very valuable; but, of course, it will take quite a long time for any region's turn to come round.
§ Mr. Stanley
That does not seem to me to exclude the necessity for making more informative the Annual Report which, three out of every four years, will be the only information we shall get on three-quarters of the Colonial Empire.
289 May I now follow the right hon. Gentleman's example in dealing briefly with the political, social and economic divisions of this report? I read the political part of the report with Considerable care, and I must confess that, having listened today to the rather high-flown sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman on the political side when he talked of the need for a quickening tempo and bold experiment, I did not find it easy to reconcile that with the actual record of the last two years. I have taken that period as being one of a lull—a period of assimilation. The preceding period had, for various reasons, been a period of rapid constitutional advance. We cannot give new constitutions to the same colony every month; we have to make certain that we are on the right lines. We have to give experience and develop a sense of responsibility in the people concerned. In fact, after any period of constitutional advance, there must always be a period of assimilation, and I have regarded the two years which are dealt with in the second part of this Report as such a period of assimilation. Indeed, compared with the big departures in Jamaica, the Gold Coast and Nigeria, the announcements which the right hon. Gentleman made today were not of spectacular importance. However, there are one or two matters to which I should like to refer.
There is, first of all, the question of Ceylon. I confess that when the right hon. Gentleman made his announcement on that subject a few weeks ago, I did not find it very easy to understand exactly what was meant, because in the course of that announcement the term "Dominion status" was never used. However, it has been used today by the right hon. Gentleman, and I understand, therefore, that the effect is that, that whereas under the previous constitution—a constitution which was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, and which is now going to be altered without ever having come into effect—matters of defence and foreign relations were to be dealt with by legislation, they are now to be dealt with by treaty. I would like to know whether any progress has been made in treaty negotiations with the present Ceylon Ministers, in order that we may know what will be the conditions both of foreign relations and defence under this new provision.
290 Next I would like to refer to Paper 210 to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. All of us who are interested in East Africa must realise the vital and urgent need for some measure of co-operation between the territories. It is impossible to return to the prewar situation which, in view of modern economic problems and modern rapidity of communication, is completely out of date. The wartime arrangements, although they worked fairly well during the war, could only function in conditions of crisis which war brings. Therefore, it was vital that in peacetime there should be some new proposals. I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman is able to announce that Paper 210 has had a better reception than Paper 191, and that he hopes it will now be acceptable to all. He has made considerable changes in the new paper and, as is usual when such changes are made, the result appears to have been that the people who supported Paper 191, now oppose Paper 210, and the people who opposed Paper 191, now support Paper 210; but, apparently, he is convinced that on this occasion the support is more formidable than the opposition, and he is, therefore, prepared to go on with the scheme. I am sure that all in this Committee wish the scheme the greatest of success. So much for what I have time to say, though not what I would like to say, on the political side.
I now wish to say a few words on the social side. Although I do not think he meant it, I thought the right hon. Gentleman was a little ungracious when he referred to the work of other members-past and present—of the Colonial Service, and said that on the social side he had to build up from scratch.
§ Mr. Creech Jones indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Stanley
I took the words down at the time. I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman meant them in that way, because later on he went on to speak of the solidity of past achievements. I hope he did not mean to convey what he certainly conveyed to me and to other hon. Members on this side of the Committee.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I think the right hon. Gentleman rather misunderstood what I was trying to say. I may not have said it clearly. What I wanted to make clear to the Committee was that it was very easy for accusations of negligence in past years to be hurled at the 291 British Colonial administrations, but that although a great deal of work had already been done, there was a vast amount of work still waiting to be done, and we were still in the elementary stages in many of the services which are regarded as vital.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. The word "scratch" is such a striking word that it remains in my memory. However, it might be possible to make any necessary correction, which I believe is sometimes done by Ministers. I would like to deal with many of the social questions to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, such as health, co-operation, trade unions, social welfare and so on. There is not one of those important subjects upon which some conference had not been summoned or some adviser had not been appointed, and I sincerely hope that when the Under-Secretary replies he will say whether health has improved, whether co operation is progressing and whether trade unions are functioning more satisfactorily in some areas than they did in the past. The right hon. Gentleman really must not refer me to the report, because it is just this kind of subject of which it tells us absolutely nothing. It is only in this Debate that we shall hope to learn something of it. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman when he replies will be a little more expansive on it.
I want to say a few words on education, not because I take that as being necessarily the most important, although it is certainly the part, of the social services, in which I have always taken the greatest personal interest. I had intended to say something on mass education, but it is a little difficult to do that in view of the fact that we are told that a statement is to be made at the end of the Debate by the Under-Secretary of State. I only hope that he will, in the course of that statement, be able to tell us that now, some three years after the publication of the report on mass education, effective steps are being taken to implement its recommendations. I, therefore, shall confine myself to a few words on the question of higher education. I thought that the hon. Member for East Nottingham (Mr. Harrison) made a very pertinent interjection when he pointed out the danger of developing higher education beyond the capacity of the 292 lower stages of education to support it. That is a danger that has always to be kept in mind.
On the other hand, I think that there is a very great danger in having the increasing call for higher education in the Colonies—a call which must increase as we improve their political, social, and economic status—met solely from the universities of this country. The figure of 1,500 is in some ways an appalling figure, because I cannot believe that there is healthy development in Colonial territory—or, rather, a group of Colonial territories—so long as they are forced to seek their higher education outside their regions. It would be as if everybody in this country had to find his higher education at the Sorbonne or Harvard, where he would have excellent education, but where he would miss the whole feeling of home environment—the feeling that it was part of his own. That one can get only in a university in one's own country or region. Nor do I believe that the age at which many of these people go, not only to a new climate, a new country, a new education, but a wholly new social conception, a wholly new tradition, wholly new conventions, wholly new manners—I cannot believe that that age is the best age for making a great experiment of that kind; and it seems to me that the help we can give in this country in the way of higher education to the Colonies in the future will have to lie far more in the range of postgraduate education than in the range of undergraduate education.
So it was with some disappointment that I listened to what the right hon. Gentleman had to say on this matter. He referred to a discussion somewhere, to a mission somewhere else, to a commission which had gone to, I think, Makerere. But, behind the mission and commission there was a significant omission, and that was to tell us whether in the last two years in any of the projected new universities any building has been built or started. Have any staff been appointed or recruited? Have any new students been enrolled? In other words, is there yet any practical result of the arduous labours which he himself undertook four years ago in West Africa? Perhaps, the Under-Secretary will tell us something of the bricks and mortar, the staff and student side of this problem.
293 I want to say a few words on the economic problem. The right hon. Gentleman had many interesting things to tell us on this subject, but he did not, in the careful survey he had to give of actual developments, have time to deal with the broad problems which are facing all colonial administrations on the economic side, and I do hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to devote some of his time to that tonight. In discussing the economics of a colony today one would always put first agriculture, before the other component parts of its economy, industry and mining; because, in the vast majority of colonial territories, it is still on agriculture that the population in the main depend, and good or bad agriculture will be what chiefly determines good or bad standards of life for that population. It is in agriculture that, I think, every student of colonial (natters will admit we have reached the most critical time. There was for many years a belief among those interested in colonial agriculture that it would be quite possible to maintain the existing systems of land tenure, and of social relationship, the whole tradition that had been built up in the past, and yet by new agricultural education, by careful progress, so to improve agriculture in the colonies, even on those old traditional lines, that the standard of life could not only be maintained but be improved. I am afraid that that is now recognised by most people to be an illusion.
During my time at the Colonial Office I realised that, as far, at any rate, as the export trade was concerned, when it came to the production of crops to go to the world market. But I still believed that as far as subsistence agriculture was concerned, it could work; and so long as it could work, that it would avoid all the ill will and misunderstandings which arise if we once begin to tamper with the traditional land tenure systems of the various peoples. But many of us now—I think nearly all of us—are coming to the conclusion that it is not new wealth of the colonial peoples, it is not improved standards of life, it is their actual subsistence, their security from starvation, which depend on the possibility of introducing a wholly new agricultural system. Alas, the progress of erosion, of loss of soil fertility, has gone far quicker than any advantage which it is has been possible to gain 294 from improved education and from new methods.
I want to ask the hon. Gentleman it he has thought out the answer to that problem. What are the new proposals? The groundnut schemes are not the answer. They depend on taking people to a new bit of land on which there are no inhabitants at all, or very few, and by agriculture there to give a livelihood to a limited.—a very limited—number, of new inhabitants. But that is not the answer at all for places like the Kikuyu Reserve, the eastern province of Nigeria; no answer to the places of teeming millions where the land is becoming rapidly exhausted. There were proposals in my time for dealing on a basis of co-operative management plus individual ownership with, at any rate, the palm oil industry of Nigeria. I should be glad to know how those experiments have gone, and also what further plans are projected.
I now turn to industry. I do not believe there is any opportunity at the moment for vast industrialisation of colonial territories, turning them into a sort of Black Country; they have not the location of minerals, the location of markets, and the particular skill of the industrial population which would lead to any such agglomeration. But I have always believed that there was a future for secondary industries—industries based on the processes of the local products, or fitted to meet the particular local markets. This report is singularly silent on the progress of such secondary industries during the last two years. There is quite a lot in it about development commissions being set up, but nothing about factories being set up. I should be glad if the Under-Secretary could tell us what has been the progress in the last two years. Are there today more factories in the Colonial Empire than there were two years ago, or, as I believe, are there less? My information is that some of the factories such as the vegetable canning factory in Kenya—which were set up for war purposes have since had to close down, and no corresponding new development has taken their place.
Finally, mining. The right hon. Gentleman is the author of some new mining regulations, some of which are comparatively harmless, and some of which are designed to bring the not very successful ideologies of this country into the colonial 295 territories. Yet, it is not only not very wise but perhaps not very fruitful to urge the nationalisation of the actual mining industry. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman's experience is the same as mine, but certainly in my time the fact that the coal at Enugu was the property of the Nigerian Government did not seem to save them from quite as much industrial trouble as any establishments belonging to private industry. Then again, I think it is going a bit far to nationalise prospecting. I cannot think that prospecting for minerals is a trade which is particularly suitable for the filling in of forms in triplicate, and for reference back to higher authorities. The Colonial Secretary referred to the lead and diamond finds in Tanganyika. They were the finds of the old-fashioned prospector, and I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman would have been able to refer with pride to developments of that kind had it depended upon a Government office to find them.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Surely, the right hon. Gentleman is aware that many of the most fruitful colonial mines were discovered by Government geologists?
§ Mr. Stanley
That certainly is not the case in Tanganyika. Nor, on the whole, has it been the case. Obviously, prospectors have been able to go beforehand to Government geologists for information about the geological formation of areas. I challenge the Under-Secretary to deal with this when he replies. He will have plenty of time to look it up before doing so. Will he look at the gold mining industry in the Ashanti, the copper industry in Northern Rhodesia, and the tin mines in Bauchi, and tell us whether they were discovered by Government officials or by individual prospectors? The right hon. Gentleman has talked about geologists. That is one way in which the Government can really help, by pressing on with the geological survey. I listened with great care to what he said about it this afternoon, but it struck me that what he said I could have said two years ago.
§ Mr. Stanley
Well, I could have said we had the R.A.F.; I could have said that we had a geological committee; I could have said we had an arrangement with the 296 R.A.F. for the surveys to be made. All that remains now is for the Under-Secretary to tell us what the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us, namely, what surveys have been made during the last two years. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will make good that omission.
Being in the unfortunate position of having no public relations department, I have to look elsewhere for a peroration or else go without one. I think I shall adopt the latter course, merely saying that the importance of the Colonial Empire to this country is greater today than ever it was. Modern developments have made its economic, its strategic and its political worth to us far greater. At the same time as its importance is greater, its problems are more difficult, because the more progress the more complex the situation becomes and the more difficult are the problems they and we have to meet. It is of immense importance to the people of this country, as well as to the people of the colonies themselves, that we should, within these next few critical years, solve some of those complex problems. They can, I think, be solved but it will take from us and from them all the qualities of statesmanship. In this particular case I believe those qualities to be, first, patience, because it is no good thinking that the result of years can be upset in a day; second, firmness, because we must go on the lines which we believe right and not on the lines on which we are driven by vociferous opposition in this quarter or another; and, finally, sympathy, because we must convey to the colonial people that the brave words we' use about the future of colonial territories are words which we sincerely mean, and that it is our purpose, with the best will in the world, to do all we can to translate words into action.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
I am fortunate in being able to follow the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) with whom, in the past, I have very often agreed on the main points. I am glad to note that today he has laid down a challenge to the Socialist Government by decrying the Socialist policy adumbrated by the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Member for West Bristol has very carefully pointed out that it is not desirable to have nationalisation of the mines. He 297 says it is very difficult indeed to carry on agriculture on traditional lines, but he does not say how it is to be carried on, without detriment to the welfare of the people concerned, unless it is conducted on traditional lines. That, I agree, is a matter which has to be left to the future, but it must be carried on for the benefit of the people as a whole and not for the benefit of those who wish to exploit the land, even for the very desirable purpose of providing food for this country, or for the purpose of providing an export industry with materials to enable it to function in colonial areas.
I must say, I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has thrown down this definitely Tory and anti-Socialist challenge with regard to the Government's policy. However, I must agree with him in one thing, and I must protest, if I may, politely, to my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary against the difficulty in which all hon. Members of the Committee find themselves in considering the immensely wide area he has been obliged to deal with in order to cover the report on the Colonial Empire after a very considerable period. It is practically impossible for anybody—and I am sure the right hon. Member for West Bristol will agree with me in this—to cover the whole of this vast subject in a one-day Debate. We really must have more time for this; or, if we cannot get more time, then it must be sectionalised or regionalised, or divided into subjects, so that we can grasp one thing and deal with that fully. I say this because when I was thinking of the possibility of my being privileged to be called in this Debate, I thought I would confine myself to one particular subject, the Far East area, which I visited as recently as January of this year, and where I had an opportunity of seeing very closely at first hand some of the things that were going on. If it were possible to concentrate our Debates more on one area, or one subject, it would be better for the Debate as a whole.
Having been to Singapore, Malaya and Hong Kong in January this year, and having seen conditions there at first hand, I must congratulate the Colonial Secretary on the vigour of the new movements which have been started—the improvements to Singapore university, the improvement in the economic position in 298 Malaya, and the appointment of the trade union advisers in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. With regard to trade union advisers, those who are sent out to places like Malaya, Ceylon or Hong Kong without knowledge of the language which the workers speak, or knowledge of the psychology of the workers, are under a very great handicap indeed in getting any solid work done. It has been a great advantage, I agree, to have these trade union advisers on the spot, and I gained extremely valuable information from them, but I suggest that it would be an advantage if, in addition, we could send Indians, Chinese and Malays to this country to be trained as trade union executive officers, so that they would understand more fully what is the trade union position when they return to their countries. As an example of the difficulties I would point out that in Ceylon there are four different varieties of trade union movements competing one with the other, and all in need of guidance.
I would also pay a tribute to the work of the administrators whom I saw. They entertained me, and I was in intimate contact with the Governors and lesser officials, who are all doing a splendid job of work in their own ways. The standard of the public service is remarkably good. Many of these men were imprisoned by the Japanese, and one naturally found that their high quality of character had shown itself under these conditions. It was an experience to have lunch with a bishop, presided over by a person of high degree, who told us what it really meant to be hungry. He told us that a man in the same camp in which he was interned spat out a piece of gristle which he, the bishop, picked up and ate because he was so hungry. That gives an idea of the experiences which these men had to go through, and such instances could be multiplied many times. Men who have been through such experiences are in close touch with the realities of the situation, and are doing a good job of work.
As a result of generations of capitalist development, practically always under Conservative rule or direction, there is now going on in the Far East and elsewhere a definite industrial revolution of a capitalist type, which is having disastrous effects in many ways. It is true that the 299 business organisations in the Far East are very good. I flew practically over the whole of the Malay Peninsula, and saw vast rubber estates almost undamaged. I also saw the immense exploitation of the land for the tin mines. The production of rubber and tin means the exploitation of the country's resources for the benefit of Western civilisation, and not for the people of Malaya.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
Is the hon. Member aware that at least 50 per cent. of the rubber production in Malaya is in Asiatic hands?
Although I do not contradict the hon. Member, I do not accept offhand his figure of 50 per cent. My point is that this is ordinary capitalist organisation, instead of the Socialist organisation I want to see developed. The hon. Member says "Ha, ha" because he sees the difference, but so do we on this side of the Committee. The democratic development in Malaya and Singapore has been very poor. The economic condition of the masses of the people is miserably low. The administration is good, but it is very expensive, and per haps the Under-Secretary will be able to thrown some light on the problem by telling us why there are so many Governors in Malaya and Singapore. There is the Governor of Singapore, who is a very efficient and able officer. He was imprisoned by the Japanese, and he gave a magnificent example, by his conduct, of how a man should behave under those conditions. There is the Governor of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur, who is another man doing splendid work. There is also the Governor-General, Mr. Malcolm Macdonald, who lives at Singapore. There is a fourth gentleman. Lord Killearn, who is not a Governor, but does in fact, perform the functions of a Governor. We then have a Governor connected with North Borneo. Why should there not be one Governor-General for the whole of this area with subordinate officials, men of first-class administrative experience, to occupy executive positions wherever necessary? That would cut down a considerable amount of expense. If money were no object, it would not matter so much, but at the present moment money is a prior consideration, and, therefore, administrative expenses ought to be cut 300 down. There could be a considerable saving if there were co-ordination.
I have now reached the point where my congratulations cease. I now come to commiseration with my right hon. Friend, because the job to be done in Malaya and Singapore is absolutely colossal. I want to give a short picture of what I saw of the condition of the people in Singapore. There are four main communities. First, we have a small number of Europeans who economically, socially and politically are all-powerful; second, a large Chinese community; third, an Indian community which is not very large; and, lastly, the Malayan community. The Malays are allergic towards industrialism, and they have my cordial sympathy. These different communities all have their different viewpoints. The English community are thinking about home, this beautiful land, and when they will get their pension. The Indian community are thinking about India and are saving up to buy valuable presents to send to India. The Chinese community are either members of the Kuomintang, or of the Chinese Communist party.
All of these communities, except the Malays, are thinking about something outside the country, and there is very little co-operation between them at the present time. How it will operate in the future under the new constitution, I do not know; I merely wish it success. But this division of the people is one of the reasons for the disaster which occurred when Singapore fell. As to the conditions of these people, I paid a visit to the large Singapore dockyard, where I saw thousands of Asiatic workers. I asked one of the medical officers what these men were like when they were examined on coming into the service. He said, "We do not examine them then." I asked why, and he replied, "If we did we should get no workers. They all have tuberculosis, and we could not admit them if we examined them." I said that this was nonsense, but after considerable argument I was forced to believe that something like 50 per cent. of the Asiatic workers who were there in January of this year were suffering from tuberculosis as a result of wartime conditions, bad feeding, and so on.
Conditions there are very bad indeed, because food is deficient and its cost is high.
301 I was informed, on the authority of the man who authorises" payment of wages, that the wages of Asiatic labourers employed by the Services in Singapore—which has a population of about one million people—had to be calculated according to the black market price of rice. That is a blot on our colonial administration, and I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to say what is being done about it. Rice is available in Siam, as I know from what I consider to be absolute first-hand authority. It is being hoarded by the small farmers, but it could be obtained. The difference between the black market and the controlled price is not great. It is disastrous that there should be insufficient food for workers, whose constitution is undermined by tuberculosis because they cannot obtain adequate food. There is opium to be obtained. This, among other things, is smuggled in, and I was told that it was possible to buy practically anything in Singapore if a person has the money. But that does not apply to the ordinary worker.
Then there is the question of the people employed on the rubber plantation, Chinese, Indians, and others. Comparatively speaking, the Chinese get good wages according to the low standards prevailing, but the Indians receive much less, because they are not so well organised economically and because the agencies connected with the rubber industry—and if there are Members here representing those agencies I hope they will say something on this matter—forbid the Indians' wages to be raised while allowing the Chinese' wages to be higher. It was so difficult on plantations that when managers were ordered not to pay the Indians the wage the Chinese were able to obtain they overcame the situation by falsely entering the names of Indians as Chinese on the pay rolls. This discrimination against Indians is politically undesirable and economically indefensible.
Conditions of this kind make one realise that we should take steps to control capitalist activities in the Far East in order to prevent capitalist control of labour and economic conditions in this underhand way. I can say on good authority that it is not only a question of there not being good trade union organisation among Indian and Chinese 302 labourers, but of resistance put up capitalist owners in some places, to pre vent trade union organisation altogether I have it from one trade union organiser that he was offered personal violence when he attempted to organise some these workers. Being a man of resolution he was able to deal with that matt satisfactorily, but this is a serious point and, certainly, capitalist organisations should be controlled in the interests the general development of our colonial areas.
I want to say a few words on the subject of Japanese prisoners of war When I was in Kuala Lumpur there was an epidemic of that horrible disease know as scrub typhus. I had never seen this disease, and I went to a camp near Kuala Lumpur where I saw 109 people with this typhus, and others with other diseases. I was given the piece of paper which I have in my hand by a Japanese medical officer, who wrote in English a account of the people who were ill on 7th January, 1947. I have rarely see a more deplorable, badly organised, an insanitary hospital in my life. It was entirely under the control of the Japanese The buildings were inadequate in every possible way. There was no control over the Japanese, who wandered about a they wished. They were as free a German prisoners of war are today in this country. Without the permission of the Secretary of State, they had taken wive unto themselves in Kuala Lumpur, am they visited their families at week-ends I imagine that the majority were engaged in black market activities. There were about 12,000 of these prisoners around Kuala Lumpar, and they were a serious danger to the health of the community Although they were doing some work which was useful, I suggest that it is turn these prisoners were sent home.
It is necessary to apply in the colonies a very radical Socialist policy. The food problem must be tackled; adequate food must be produced for all the people there who require it. In Malaya, a country with a small population, an enormous amount of land is uncultivated. A great area of land is given to the cultivation of rubber plantations, and only a small area to food. I had a talk with the economic adviser to the Governor of Malaya, who told me that more food plantations were being started. They ought to have first 303 priority, to take priority over any further production of rubber. I have referred to trade union organisation and wages, and to plantations, and I hope that the Colonial Secretary will call for a full report unless he has already had one. There should be good wages and good food for all workers. Good food can be grown easily if attention is turned in that direction, instead of in the direction which favours Western capitalism. The public health service should be enlarged, because it is very deficient in Singapore and Malaya. The Director of Medical Services there told me that Singapore, with a population of approximately one million, had 75 medical establishments, excluding the College of. Medicine.
January of this year. In addition, there is very little hospital accommodation; in fact, so little that a special private institution, has been brought into existence under the control, unofficially, of some naval officers, who look after some of the unfortunate Asiatic sick, contrary to Admiralty regulations, I understand, because they could not bear to see these unfortunate people dying. The hospital is not a place where people are cured; it is a place where people are allowed to die quietly. These are rather grim facts, and they may be paralleled in other parts of our Colonial Empire.
When we talk about higher education, mass education, and all the finer and better things of life which we hope in future may be extended to the Colonial Empire, let us not forget that unless there is food, clothing and reasonable housing, we cannot build a structure which is well-founded. The housing in Singapore, the streets of which look superficially bright and clean, and the housing in Kuala Lumpur, which looks an attractive town from the. outside, is shocking and abominable. It is not a question of how many people will have beds in a room or how many on the floor of a room; it is a question of whether there is room on the floor of the room for the people to sleep at all. In both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur many people were sleeping outdoors at the time I visited those two towns.
304 While I sympathise with the desire to improve the constitutional position of Malaya and other parts of the Colonial Empire, improvement of the constitutional status without an improvement in economic conditions of a drastic character is a very sorry pretence. We want to get real improvement in the economic conditions of the workers. Are economic improvements being made pari passu with these constitutional improvements and are we giving the people not only political but real economic freedom? That, it seems to me, is the important thing. I have never agreed that the colonial people should be treated as inferiors and not be represented by members of their own communities, and that they should be regarded as not being fully responsible for their own development. I believe that it would be very desirable at this stage and would signalise a new development of the Socialist policy of this Government if we invited to a conference in London from all the colonial areas, not only officials and representatives of the Colonial Office, but men and women appointed by the tribes in Nigeria and the Gold Coast, the peoples of Malaya and Singapore, and the peoples of all the countries in which we had colonies; and that these people, elected by their own tribal authorities, should come to this country and speak on equal terms with our colonial representatives here and - the colonial representatives from the colonies. We should have a real colonial conference of a new type. It seems to me that a conference of that type would bring a new life into colonial affairs.
The language of that conference would undoubtedly be like the language of the Asiatic Conference in Delhi this year; it would be English, because English has become an international language. I think that we could at such a conference discuss methods, not of introducing industrial revolution by slow stages, but of avoiding industrial revolution. There is no reason why any colonial people should go through the horrors that have devastated Lancashire and Yorkshire in order to create wealth. [Interruption.] Oh, yes, Lancashire and Yorkshire. I have lived there. There is no reason why we should not skip the interval between the primitive conditions in many of the colonial areas and the 305 Socialist conditions in which undoubtedly they will be in the future, under our guidance if we are wise, with our co operation if we are wise; but against us and by independence movements if we are not wise. I urge the calling of such a colonial conference as a first-class measure of statesmanship which, I believe, will signalise a great advance in our Labour Party policy.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner (Basingstoke)
I agree with the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) that there is much greater leeway to make up in the social and economic field than merely in relation to the machinery of government. That indeed is a point which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) a year ago. I agree with the hon. Member also that time presses this afternoon, and this alone prevents me from following him in detail, as I am tempted to do, because I believe that in a great number of his observations he was misinformed, and that in a great number of others he suffered from too many delusions.
The Colonial Secretary, in his opening speech, foreshadowed an announcement tonight—an important announcement—concerning developments in the field of mass education. I only regret that that announcement should be made in the last speech of the day and that we are thereby deprived of any opportunity of discussing it. Last year, I ventured to draw attention to the opportunities, as well as to the dangers, which must inevitably follow the introduction and application of the technique of mass education in Africa, unless we take adequate measures to provide suitable literature in proper quantities, in Other words, on a tremendous scale. The Colonial Secretary, winding up the Debate a year ago, was also much pressed for time, and he offered to answer questions put to him by hon. Members individually, which he did by letter, but on account of his impending departure for East Africa, he was unable to answer the particular points I raised in regard to mass education. I venture, therefore, without apology, to raise the problem again, particularly as it is made urgent by references to the experiments now taking place and which appear in the Colonial Report just published.
306 There is a vacuum, a mental need, which is being created among the new literates in Africa. I emphasised a year ago that if measures were not taken to satify this new mental need, it would be satisfied by immoral literature and by an African yellow Press, which is in itself immoral. If there was any truth in that assertion a year ago, there is more truth in it today. I would appeal to the Colonial Secretary to deal effectively with this problem before it is too late. No one would wish to see a further spread of the yellow Press in Africa; nor would any of us wish to see the appearance in Africa of those pornographic advertisements, which have for so many years characterised the Indian yellow Press, reproduced perhaps a millionfold in Africa as a principal influence on African minds.
I ventured a year ago to advocate certain measures to safeguard the untutored African mind from immoral, degrading and seditious influences, and I am confident that the Colonial Secretary will deal with this matter with sympathy and interest. I, therefore, ask him bluntly this question: Is he now prepared to increase substantially the paper allowance for the Christian missionary societies? Those of us who are aware of the magnificent work of such societies as, for instance, the United Society for Christian Literature, ask ourselves why such admirable work should not be stimulated and assisted by Government subsidy. This is a Christian assembly, and it seems to me that such a policy should commend itself to every member of this House. The Government spend hundreds of millions of pounds annually—some of us perhaps think that money has been spent recklessly on occasion—so why should they boggle at a few tens of thousands? If the Government are prepared to swallow the camel, why should they strain at a gnat?
Again, are they prepared to use the wartime cinema vans which were such a conspicuous success in Kenya and other areas? Are they prepared to resort to this method of dealing with this complicated problem and of reaching and satisfying the African mind? Are the Government prepared to employ experts handling films and broadcasting? Are the Colonial Governments encouraged to employ trained journalists and make official gazettes and newspapers not only more attractive but even readable? Are they 307 encouraged to appoint a committee of trained journalists to advise in regard to the problems of news collecting in order that these papers may record facts of interest and events in the lives of these communities? I hope the Colonial Secretary will seize the opportunities which mass education provides in. abundance so that the peoples of Africa will be safeguarded from the debased and poisonous journals which are already springing up both in East and West Africa. After all, there can be no reason why a promoter of a vernacular newspaper in a colonial territory should not be required to deposit a substantial sum which could, if necessary, be impounded by the courts in cases of conviction of grave criminal offences.
Most of us who have some knowledge of the Colonies recognise to the full the difficulties of this problem, but most of us are satisfied that, given good will and determination, they can be overcome. The background factors themselves constitute a challenge both to Government and to missionary publishing. We have to bear in mind the cumulative effects on the African mind not only of motorcars, radio, planes and migrations covering sometimes hundreds of miles, but the cumulative effect also of Christian missions, native churches and the new outlook of returned soldiers whose mental horizons have been immeasurably widened by wartime experiences. It would be unreal to ignore these things just as it would be unreal to ignore the influences on the African mind of witchcraft, nomadic habits or the tenets of Islam.
In considering this problem, I am sure that the Colonial Secretary will agree with me that when we survey Africa as a whole, the first impression is perhaps one of the force and violence of the European impact. When we look more closely I think most will agree that we are impressed by what might be described as the resistance of Africa, a resistance derived from the immense variety and localised character of every territory and of almost every tribe. The difference between those tribes is as great as, if not greater than, the differences which exist and divide the family of European nations. Therefore, if one finds oneself in the heart of Africa looking at a village ceremony in a remote vernacular-speaking village one surely recognises at once that one is looking at people for whom 308 practically all their values and beliefs, and, indeed, the whole pattern of their lives have been formulated by forces and traditions other than those of Europe. Those concerned in mass education, whether it be Government or missionary publisher, must, take account of age-old beliefs, customs and peoples as they now are and as they differ radically from each other.
In the educational field the Government must surely steer a middle course, avoiding the danger of disturbing prematurely age-old customs and beliefs to which the native mind is passionately attached, and at the same time avoid the danger of neglecting our fundamental duty of, in the first place, helping the African to adopt the moral values of civilisation, and, in the second place, adjusting himself to that era of change from which he cannot escape. The Government are dealing with a period of ferment and transition which affects the group mind of the African whether it be in Islamic Africa or non-Islamic Africa. It is against this background which I have sketched rather hastily and very inadequately that the new technique of mass education has to be applied.
I believe that this technique of mass education provides a supreme opportunity to teach the principles of sanitation and personal hygiene, as well as improving the health of millions by striking at the very roots of the greatest evil in the Colonial Empire, namely, disease. At the same time, it provides a wonderful opportunity of prising loose the African mind from many of the disastrous beliefs and cruel practices. There is need for caution in forcing the educational pace, but paradoxically the danger is less if it is fully forced, as it can be by mass education, because in that way it avoids creating a gap between the older and younger generation and removes, therefore, the tensions and strains and stresses which must come into being between an educated younger generation and their unprogressive elders. I would ask the Under-Secretary of State when he winds up to give an assurance that the Government are prepared to face the dangers as well as the opportunities of mass education, and that they are prepared now to take effective measures to satisfy the need of the new literates in Africa for readable matter and provide appropriate and religious literature in adequate quantities.
309 I should like to turn briefly to two points in regard to the West Indies. The first is in connection with the shipping facilities between this country and the West Indies. There is no passenger carrying ship regularly available now for the run to Barbados, to Trinidad and the Lower Caribbean. Surely something can be done to improve that deplorable situation?
The second point I wish to raise is rather more complicated. There seems to me to be a direct conflict of interest between the Colonial Office on the one hand and the Minister of Food on the other arising from this Government's policy of bulk purchase. The Minister of Food buys at the lowest possible price in the interests of the United Kingdom consumer. The Colonial Office theoretically should protect the interests of the colonial producer and ensure that he is not exploited. The Ministry of Food "buys in the lowest possible market. Therefore, it seems to me that it ought to be watched like a hawk by the Colonial Office. That applies very particularly to the West Indies where the cost of living has made life very difficult indeed. The cost of living has increased by 10 or 15 per cent. as a result of the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar. There is another reason why this applies particularly to the West Indies, and that is that the price of their main export commodities there have not been brought into relation to. the price of the imports which the West Indies have to pay.
It is, therefore, more than ever important that the Colonial Office should ensure that the Minister of Food should take no unfair advantage of the colonial producers whether they be in the West Indies or anywhere else. Unfortunately, the evidence available would appear to show that the Colonial Office in this matter is not an effective watchdog. I would ask the Colonial Secretary to establish a more effective liaison than at present exists between the Colonial Office and the Ministry of Food.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
Let me give an illustration of what has occurred in regard to the Grenada cocoa. Negotiations were started and concluded, I think, on 31st October for that portion of the Grenada cocoa crop which was to be sent 310 to the United Kingdom. That portion is very nearly half of the total crop which emphasises the importance of this to the Grenada producer.
The price fixed was virtually the figure at which cocoa had been controlled in the New York market. One week before the price was fixed the New York controls came off and during the week that followed there was very little change in the price. Subsequently the price rose and the difficulty in which the Grenada producers found themselves was that, isolated in their island with far more limited knowledge than that possessed by the Ministry of Food they were not in a position to assess such world factor as would influence price trends. During the period when the cocoa had actually to be delivered to this country the price rose and now stands, I am told, substantially in excess of that paid by the Ministry of Food.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale) rose——
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
May I just complete the argument, and then I will give way? In my submission it is no argument to say that the Grenada growers or merchants went into this contract with their eyes open, and that they gambled on the future price for cocoa and lost, because the point surely is this. Why do not the Colonial Office ensure that the information at the disposal of the Ministry of Food regarding world markets and trends is placed at the disposal of these Grenada growers? This leads me to ask a question to which I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give us a reply, since it raises a very important principle and is deserving of a reply. Is it the policy of the Colonial Office that the Minister of Food, negotiating on a bulk purchase basis with our colonial producers, and considering only the interests of the United Kingdom consumer, should take advantage of colonial producers who do not possess comparable knowledge of world trends and factors and, in consequence, conclude deals which are disadvantage to them?
§ Dr. Morgan
I happen to know this particular problem very well because Grenada is the island in which I was born and I have many friends among the planters. May I point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that many of 311 the cocoa negotiating concerns in these small islands have agencies both in New York and in London, and that every facility and all possible information available in this country were available to these firms through their agencies——
§ Dr. Morgan
I am not asking a question. I rose to correct the hon. and gallant Gentleman on a point he was making and he gave way.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
May I reply to the hon. Gentleman? I do not accept the contention at all that a particular set of producers in any part of the Colonial Empire can at any time have the full information at their disposal that is available to the Ministry of Food as regards world markets, world trends and all the innumerable factors which influence prices. Even if it were the case, as the hon. Member contends, that in this particular instance the Grenada producers or merchants did have a great deal of information on the subject, that in no way vitiates the principle which I adumbrated just now and in no way undermines the importance of the question I put to the Colonial Secretary as to the principle upon which the Ministry of Food should act in dealing with Colonial producers. According to the information I have, the Colonial Office has so far failed to protect the Colonial producers.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
The hon. Gentleman says that that is not true, but if he will refer to HANSARD relating to Question time in the House this June with regard to Jamaican oranges, he will see that the producers in Jamaica received 5s. a case and that when freight, insurance and handling is included the cost of such packages to the London Wholesaler was 25s. 4d. a case, and that, these cases were sold by the Ministry of Food to the British consumer at 41s. each. This reveals that in relation to the price at which they are sold in this country there is not only exploitation of 312 the grower but a 61 per cent. profit, to the Ministry of Food, which constitutes exploitation of the United Kingdom consumer. It is a price charged to cover bulk purchase losses in other directions. That is a melancholy and a squalid story and one which should not be allowed to be repeated. Indeed, it reminds one of many speeches to which we on this side have listened in the past from hon. Members opposite, usually without any foundation at all, alleging capitalist exploitation of the colonies. Nor is the position made any better when, now that we have clear evidence of exploitation of colonial territories by the Ministry of Food, hon. Gentlemen opposite see fit to remain silent merely because they approve the political complexion of the Government.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Heywood and Radcliffe)
At the beginning of his obviously sincere but at times tendentious remarks, the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) refused to be tempted into replying to points made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest). He will, therefore, excuse me if I show the same resolution and refuse to follow him in the stimulating and provoking remarks which he himself made, but prefer to concentrate on a problem about which I feel better qualified to speak and one which, so far as I can tell, has not engaged the attention of the present Parliament during its lifetime. I refer to the problem of tuberculosis in the Colonial Empire. I can well understand the pride which my right hon. Friend and, indeed, the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) feel When they refer to the great progress which has been made in health matters in the Colonies since the days immediately before the war, because the progress has without doubt been staggering. But because of the general progress that has been made, there may perhaps be a temptation now to minimise the importance of tuberculosis in the Colonies.
I do not think that accusation could be levelled against my right hon. Friend. Those of us who had the privilege of hearing him address the Empire Conference on tuberculosis at the beginning of this month are able to appreciate that in the Colonial Secretary we have' a real 313 humanitarian and a good Socialist, and what I have to say on this problem is in no way a reflection on the right hon. Gentleman or on his attitude to this matter. I know that he realises its importance, but I am not sure that the Colonial Office or the Colonial Governments are equally seized of its importance, and I feel that tuberculosis in the Empire is essentially a British responsibility, because tuberculosis is a disease of civilisation. Investigation into the problem has shown that although the white races have developed a comparitive immunity to tuberculosis, native races are particularly prone to it, and have a very dangerous tendency to incur it in a most virulent form when they come into contact with the white races. Further, it has been shown that although natives may stand up to it reasonably well in their own natural surroundings, in the more trying conditions of industrial and urban life which at times we have inflicted upon them their resistance to it is almost nonexistent. That is why I say that it is peculiarly a British responsibility.
Unfortunately, there has never been the same glamour about the fight against tuberculosis that there has been about that against leprosy and malaria, but it. is a much more widespread disease than either of those, and it is one of the principal killing diseases throughout our Empire. There is a very real danger at the present time, with improved communications and the various schemes of Colonial development, that the problem of tuberculosis in the Empire may become worse. Already in the West Indies, one out of every six deaths is attributable to tuberculosis, and on the Gold Coast one out of every 10 deaths is caused by it. In Nigeria, a colony which, the Committee will remember, has 20 million population, there are only 14 beds specifically set aside for the treatment and care of tuberculous patients. That situation can be paralleled in many parts of the Colonial Empire, but we must always remember that health statistics throughout the Empire are, unfortunately, extremely unreliable.
Many colonies have made advances, as in the case of Ceylon, Aden and Cyprus, but many other parts of the Colonial Empire have made no progress of any importance. I suspect that we in this country cannot be wholly innocent of responsibilty 314 for that state of affairs. The return relating to schemes under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts up to March this year shows that out of 107 new welfare schemes only two, relating to the Solomon Islands, and Zanzibar, mention tuberculosis at all, and that there is only one supplementary scheme, in respect of Nigeria, which refers to the disease. The second portion of the return relating to research shows not a single reference to the problem of tuberculosis, although it is true that a number of schemes to be developed will have indirect repercussions upon that problem, such as schemes for the improvement of nutrition and housing, and for industrial research.
In Cmd. Paper 7151, on Colonial Research, it is shocking to find no reference to tuberculosis—not even in the second annual report of the Colonial Medical Research Committee. In the third document to which I want to refer, Cmd. 7167 on the Colonial Empire, some slight improvement is shown, because a paragraph is devoted to tuberculosis, not, however, to the achievements of the Colonial Office and colonial governors, but mainly to the achievements of the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, a body of which I have the honour to be a member. From these facts it seems that we are not stimulating sufficiently the Colonial Governments into undertaking full responsibility for research into this problem.
The solution is clearly one for experts, and in drawing attention to the problem I merely want to emphasise the need for both a long term and a short term approach to this important subject. For the long term approach there must be schemes of social improvement of the kind to which the Colonial Secretary referred, such as for improvements in nutrition, the improvement of working conditions and, I hope, in the case of projects like the groundnuts scheme, plans for supervising the health of the workers employed from the very beginning. So far as tuberculosis itself is concerned, clearly there must be far more research than has been conducted in the past and far more schemes of training for nurses and doctors from the colonial territories themselves.
For the short-term approach it is important that we should have in every colonial territory a specialist tuberculosis 315 officer. Let us be clear that a tuberculosis scheme need not be an elaborate and expensive business. It is far more important to start with dispensaries and clinical services than to start with a sanatorium. Formerly, we made a mistake and set up sanatoria first before we knew from clinical research to what extent they would be required or without having the necessary dispensaries in the localities to back up the work of the sanatoria. We also need health visitors throughout the Colonies. I hope that the Colonial Governments when recruiting these visitors will have recourse more and more to people from the islands themselves with a knowledge of local conditions and the superstitions which sometimes exist in these countries.
The solution of this problem is not altogether simple, but it is up to the Colonial Office and to the Colonial Governments to see that that solution is put into effect. If, as I think he will, my right hon. Friend will stimulate his Department and the Colonial Governments into grappling with the problem of tuberculosis he will earn the gratitude of many millions of colonial people.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Sir John Barlow (Eddisbury)
I am sorry that the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) is not in his place. He dealt with certain aspects of life in Malaya, and I wish to reply to him as best I can. Obviously, he speaks with authority on Malaya. He told us that he had been in Singapore and that he had flown from one end of the country to the other and back again. It is only fair to say that I first visited the country 25 years ago, that I have done so periodically ever since and that I have had close business connections with it throughout. The hon. Member suggested that certain matters were not very well organised in that country. He had seen it from the air. Unfortunately, I have only seen it from the ground.
He went on to say that on many plantations, a lower status was given to the Indians than to the Chinese and in many cases they were employed at lower wages. I would not agree with that statement. The object on rubber and cocoa-nut plantations is to secure good regular labour and workers who do not come and 316 go too quickly, and plantation experience is that Chinese will often do twice or three times the work of Indian labour. It also happens to be a fact that on some estates Chinese labour is available and Indian labour is not. Sometimes very high piecework rates have to be paid to get the work done satisfactorily. Possibly the hon. Member can vouch for members of his profession and can say what they do or do not do. All I can say is that I have never heard of the introduction of fictitious names nor the practice to which he referred, in regard to Indian labour. Before leaving that part of the subject I would like to say that before the war the social services on plantations in Malaya had a far higher standard than was found in similar agricultural estates in other parts of the world. Almost every estate of any size had its hospital, school and crêche, and a whole-time medical attendance and regular visits from doctors. There were also extra meals for young children, and clinics for women expecting children. I hope those social services will be restored as quickly as conditions allow.
I will deal briefly with two or three other aspects of the matter. Reference has been made to the very great shortage in Malaya of food and of rice in particular. Everyone knows that rice is much more essential to those people than bread is to us. It is the beginning and ending of almost all their food. I see that in February, 1946, owing to a shortage of cereal foods, in Hong Kong the amount per person was reduced from 22 ounces per day to 11 ounces. The ration in India was reduced from 16 ounces to 12 ounces. The Japanese who had surrendered and were in internment camps received ten ounces a day, but in Malaya the amount allocated to people was eight ounces per day of which only 4½ was rice and the remaining 3½ was wheat flour. Wheat flour does not in any way take the place of rice to the Malayans, and that should be borne in mind.
A vast amount of rice has been held up in Siam. For various reasons it has not been brought down. Might I suggest again, as has been suggested repeatedly to the Colonial Office, that it should be a practical proposition to get the rice out of Siam one way or another. They were very short of consumer goods and I maintain that it was possible to send consumer 317 goods in one form or another into Siam and get that rice out. The whole of the life of Malaya—and it is a very important part of the world now, politically and agriculturally—rests on an adequate supply of rice.
There are two other small points to which I should like to refer in regard to Malaya. I believe that soon after the Japanese occupation ended there was a large amount of piracy and banditry, especially round about Penang. I have asked questions about this but it has never been admitted that piracy did exist. I would like to ask the Under-Secretary to give us some information. I am told, and I believe, that it was for many months quite impossible to ship the all-important copra up to Penang for transhipment for this and other countries. It was so difficult to ship it in that area by local small ships and junks that no reputable insurance companies would insure the copra for the voyage. I suggest that that is a very serious state of affairs when it happens in British waters several months after the war is over.
Unfortunately, appalling conditions exist at the docks at all the principal harbours in Malaya, Penang and Singapore in particular. The organisation of the wharves has undoubtedly been most difficult after the war owing to the large number which were bombed and broken up, but the amount of thieving at those docks would indicate that the policing of those cities is entirely inadequate. I should like to mention some figures to support my views. The marine insurance from this country to Singapore or Penang before the war was 4s. 3d. per cent. After the European war started, in 1940 and 1941 it went up to 16s. 9d. per cent. Immediately after the war and immediately after the Japanese were evacuated, the rate in May, 1946, was 21s. 9d., but the thieving was so appalling in those ports, and it got worse shortly afterwards, that in August, 1946, the marine insurance rate was 51s. 9d. compared with 4s. 3d. prewar. That calls for action on the part of the Minister, and I hope that he will investigate it. Before I close, may I say that I regard it as very unfortunate that when people visit countries for a few days and get impressions which may or may not be true they sometimes appear to speak with authority. I must say in all seriousness that I have seldom listened to such a half hour of unparalleled nonsense 318 as I heard from the hon. Member for North Islington.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams (Croydon, South)
We have listened today to one of the usual surveys that we have once a year from the Secretary of State, followed by a survey, equally wide, from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). I said last year and I repeat today, that there is very little value in Debates of this kind. They are far too wide, and the time has come when we should have regional Debates covering various parts of the Colonial Empire and dealing with those alone. I know from my own knowledge that in various parts of the Colonial Empire the inhabitants are feeling that we neglect them in this House to a large extent, and they point to this one unsatisfactory day as one of the reasons for that feeling. I believe that it is quite right that we should amend our Parliamentary system in order to deal with the importance of the Colonial Empire.
We are now in the transitional period, as has been pointed out by the right hon. Member for West Bristol, and we are moving from the laissez faire of the 19th century into the more dynamic period of the 20th century. The colonies cease to be places to which we merely give a certain amount of protection. We protected them from outside dangers, we kept order internally and we expected them to provide us with a certain amount of goods in return. They are now as much a part of these islands and of our economic system as are Scotland or Wales, and we must realise their new importance to our economy. We have heard today of the advances towards self-government throughout the various territories, and I for one am glad that those advances have been made, but I would insist that unless we take the people with us in those constitutional advances, they will do more harm than good. I would like to recall to the Committee what a former hon. Member of this House—Thomas Babington Macaulay—wrote many years ago on the question of paper constitutions:Constitutions are in politics what paper money is in commerce. They afford great facilities and conveniences. But we must not attribute to them that value which really belongs to what they represent. They are no power, but symbols of power, and will, in an emergency, prove altogether useless unless 319 the power for which they stand be forthcoming. The real power by which the community is governed is made up of all the means which all its members possess of giving pleasure or pain to each other.I feel that in many of the territories we govern from this House we must not break up too rapidly the present fabric of society; we must not exchange the sub stance for the shadow. They have old systems of government amongst themselves, well-tried systems, which they understand, and before we lead them into new paths we must be quite sure that they understand what they are doing and what we are offering. If we give them that means of understanding, they will appreciate that they are being led forward into more democratic practices, but unless they are clearly convinced of the need for the political development we offer them, more harm than good will probably be done.
With regard to the economic position, much the same applies. For instance, in the new Crown Colony of Sarawak any development which has not the support and the understanding of the people may have serious consequences. They are not used to development of any kind. It may be of interest to the Committee to know that in Sarawak 92½ per cent. of the rubber estates are under two acres in extent. Therefore, in the development of coal, for example, which is proposed, we must be quite certain that people understand and share in the development which takes place.
I agree it would be better not to discuss the Malayan political situation today in view of the offer which we have had for next Session. However, I would like to say something about the economic position already touched upon by the hon. Baronet the Member for Eddisbury (Sir J. Barlow). We must realise in this Committee that the position regarding food in Malaya is serious. In fact, it is worse than that. The people are on the verge of want, and there will be serious agrarian and industrial trouble in Malaya if the rice position is not dealt with quickly. I do not know whether hon. Members realise that the ration of rice there is one-third that of Japan—our late enemy—and one-eighth of the ration in Burma. That is a most serious situation. The hon. Baronet stressed the importance of Malay to this country, but it will never be of any importance unless 320 the people are fed, and it is no use talking of other types of food. The Asiatic wants rice. It is no good offering flour, or cereals, or anything else. Rice is what he wants and, if he does not get it, he does not eat. We must concentrate on the home production of rice which, as I pointed out last year, had dropped from 33 per cent. of the consumption prewar to 25 per cent. I ask the Under-Secretary of State what is the percentage today? How much of that leeway has been made up? Unless the home production of rice is increased, it will be difficult to increase the ration depending on rice from outside.
I would also suggest that no country which produces enough rice to provide eight ounces per head per day of the population should receive more rice from the International Food Committee which deals with rice. Until the Malayan ration is made up to a reasonable standard, it is not just that other countries which have eight ounces should, in addition, get from the central pool further rice to increase that ration. I would also say that no ex-enemy territories should receive an allocation of rice from outside until the territories they have despoiled get a proper allowance Why should the Japanese get rice from outside to make their ration three times that of the Malays and the Chinese in Malaya whom they dealt with so badly during the occupation? It is not just or right. With regard to rubber, which is one of the staple pro ducts of Malaya, we know that the Americans have put an embargo on the importation of rubber into the United States——
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
For the sake of correctness, may I point out to the hon. Member that the United States have not put an embargo upon the import of rubber They have laid down a certain percentage of synthetic rubber that must be used in American products. That is not quite the same thing.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
I was the one who asked the Question which received that answer. An embargo is an embargo, call it by what name you like; whether you do it by restriction in that form or in any other way, it is an embargo as far as Malaya is concerned. There is difficulty about the sale of rubber to the United States, and this will undoubtedly affect the purchasing power of the people of Malaya.
321 In Sarawak, as I have said, there is very little large-scale production of any commodity. It is a purely native form of economy and one which we shall now, I take it, in some small measure alter. There is a coalfield in Sarawak which previously produced high quality coal, but it was abandoned because it was difficult to work and to get the coal away to the docks. We are now investigating whether it would be possible to reopen that important source of supply in the Far East. I would like to know from the Secretary of State under what conditions this coal is to be worked. Is it to be a company on lease? Is it to be some form of nationalised industry? How does he propose to work this valuable mineral? Also, what is the future of oil in Sarawak? When the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) and I visited that country, we were told that the oil field of Sarawak had been practically drained dry and there was very little left. I doubted that, and I believe the hon. Member did, too. We doubted whether big installations that have been put up recently in the oil fields would have been put up for an oil field which was worked out. I understand that there are vast fields of oil there which can be developed. What are the proposals in regard to those particular fields if it is true that oil is there? I would emphasise that in regard to Sarawak, more than Malaya, we have a trust and we must not do anything in that country which will harm the native people, the indigenous people. If we do anything that will harm them, either by too rapid political or industrial advancement, we shall pay for it, and it will be on our conscience. It is up to us to see that the country is properly run.
Last, with regard to Hong Kong. I would like to see the colony developed as a shop window of democracy. I believe that Hong Kong can offer in the Far East, as Singapore can in South East Asia, a very good opportunity for showing the people of other countries how social, educational, political and other development can be made in the right and proper way. I know that the people of Hong Kong are doubtful as to what are our intentions, and I would like to know from the Secretary of State what the Government intend to do with Hong Kong. I believe that the democratic element in China does not want to see Hong Kong handed over to the Kuomintang Government; they would 322 like to see Hong Kong maintained, developed, and that it should eventually achieve self-government within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Whatever their long-term view may be, that is certainly their view for the next few years. Therefore, I feel that we can offer to the people of the Far East both in Hong Kong and Singapore two shop windows of democracy where our physical and spiritual goods can be displayed for all who wish to see them.
In the main, I feel we have had a very stimulating and encouraging report from the Colonial Secretary today, and the few criticisms which I have made are not to be taken as meaning that I criticise his work as a whole, because I think that in very difficult circumstances he and his Department and officials at home and abroad have done a good job of work, for which we ought to be grateful.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
We on this side of the Committee are grateful to the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) for such an authoritative statement of what his views are. He must carry many hon. Members on the other side of the Committee with him on the future of Hong Kong. We had some doubts on what the Colonial Secretary and Government would do about Hong Kong, but I hope that the Under-Secretary when he replies can give some support to what the hon. Member for South Croydon has said.
I think we all agree with the hon. Member for South Croydon that we would be very glad to have more time to debate this vast subject, dealing with an Empire of 60 million people, in 60 dependencies, and which we try to cram into a few hours debate each year. In the course of the speech of the Secretary of State, I could not see any indication of how he is steering the course of any individual colony, or group of colonies, to keep it in the future framework of the United Nations. I cannot expect the Under-Secretary to give an answer, because it is obviously a very vast and complicated subject. But one hopes that as time goes on, some indication will be given to the House, and to the country, of how constitutions are to be developed, particularly the economic aspect,' so that we do not find when the time comes for British control to be withdrawn, as it 323 has been in the last two or three years from certain other parts of what used to be called the British Empire, that disintegration has set in. I believe it is possible today to avoid some of the difficulties we have had in certain countries, which I think it would be difficult and invidious to name at present——
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Ivor Thomas)
The hon. Member spoke of the United Nations. I take it that he means the British Commonwealth of Nations?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
No, I do not. I believe we are working towards setting up certain standards which will enable us to retain in the British Commonwealth certain bits of the Empire, which will be in the United Nations. For instance, in Africa, south of the Equator, the British have set standards which others might follow. Rather than see those drift away, and set up separate kingdoms or republics, our aim should be to keep them together inside a unit which can remain, as it were, a full unit Of the United Nations, with immediate loyalty to the British Empire. I hope I have made myself clear to the Under-Secretary. We have set political standards in the Empire which we should ensure are followed by other countries who have joined the United Nations. I am one who believes that we have nothing to be ashamed of in the past 100 years in bringing those countries to a certain standard, and we should not allow others to set standards but should persuade them to adopt our standards.
My second point is on the economic side. The Secretary of State dealt fairly fully with that, but there are still certain aspects which it is most important we should consider. No doubt a number of hon. Members on this side of the Committee have read Sir Philip Mitchell's despatch on agriculture in East Africa, and they will agree that he is one of the greatest colonial governors this country has produced, and that particular despatch is likely to be most important in the future. Briefly, it recommends that we cannot go on with the previous agricultural system of the hoe and the goat and so on, but must adopt up to date agricultural practices. This postulates, as I see it, European supervision 324 in some form or other. We cannot expect the African, although the Askari had a lot of experience in the war, to jump from the hoe state of agricultural development straight on to the tractor. We believe it essential to have a considerable degree of European supervision in time to come in the immediate, middle, and even in the distant future. I wish to ask the Under-Secretary to give some indication of what lines the Government are proposing that that agricultural development should follow. Probably he will reply that in broad terms it is education, but I believe it is so important a problem that there must be certain directions given so that those individuals who have taken plantations and are working a plantation system can be assured that they will have support in the future. I believe there are great opportunities—not only needs as the despatch points out—for proper European supervision of agricultural development for ex-Service men, and so on.
It seems to me that the Abrahams Report cast some doubt on the intentions of the Government for attracting European supervision, particularly ex-Service men, to work in the Empire. We have an area containing 60 million people, and we should try to form this unit into one great free trade area, if possible, with us in this country. The strength of the United States and Russia is that they have a free market of 150 million people. We should try to do the same by bringing in all these countries, which are mainly producers of primary products. But to do that, we must have European supervision, and there are considerable doubts in certain directions as to what is the policy of the Government. The Abrahams Report, which still is difficult to get in this country, has placed a certain amount of doubt in people's minds about the intentions of the Government on future European settlement in some of these areas.
The White Paper on colonial mining policy also leaves some doubts in people's minds as to what the Government are intending. It would be invidious to give the Colonial Secretary specific details of companies which I know are holding back on colonial development until they get a greater assurance of what their future is to be. Capital can be raised in this country or elsewhere, but it has to be turned into mining machinery and so forth. There is quite a lot available, not only in this 325 country but in the Dominions. People are anxious to get to work to get the minerals out of the ground in quite a lot of areas all over the world. There is, however, a considerable element of doubt in the minds of individuals whether the Government are going to allow those people to go ahead and get some reasonable reward for their efforts.
I again stress the request to the Under-Secretary to let us know what is the attitude on immediate and long-term European settlement in the colonies, and secondly, to say more clearly what is the attitude of the Government towards mining and getting minerals from those areas?
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Younger (Grimsby)
In spite of the thin attendance this afternoon, the flood of Questions with which the Colonial Secretary is faced every week shows the interest which has been taken since the war in colonial matters. I cannot help feeling that that interest has been aroused largely because, in conditions of world shortage, one's attention is drawn to the potentialities of the vast backward areas for the production of raw materials and food Therefore, we have to be careful, when we consider colonial development, to ensure that this new interest does not open the way for a new phase of exploitation exclusively in the interests of European people. I would have been a little more impressed by what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) it I felt that the past record of his party in that respect was rather better than I do. Nevertheless, I go with him to the extent of considering that whenever anything like the Grenada transaction, to which he referred, comes to our notice, It is extremely salutary that it should be aired. It is right that everyone should be vigilant about it, and I hope that when the Under-Secretary of State replies to the Debate, he will be able to clear up any doubts which might otherwise exist.
A large proportion of these colonial areas happen, for historical reasons, to be within the Colonial Empires of a small number of Western European nations which, in the past, have had differing colonial objectives. They have had varying successes in different directions. I believe that they can co-operate and help each other and 326 I am glad that some suggestions of that kind appeared in the speech of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), who I am glad to follow in the Debate, because we have spoken in conjunction with each other three times in this House already.
I would like to give a word of warning about what I believe will be the effect of the activities of the United Nations in respect of the colonial territories. I believe that the most important part of the Charter will turn out to be, not that part which prescribes international trusteeship for what may well be a limited number of territories, but the chapter in which all administering Powers undertake obligations to the peoples in the areas which they administer, and the obligation which they also undertake to tell the world, through the medium of the United Nations, what is happening there. There is a natural tendency to view with cynicism genera] expressions of good intention, but there is a very real sanction behind the obligation which colonial powers have undertaken under the Charter. There are coloured peoples represented as members of the United Nations, and there are other States which, to put it mildly, are suspicious of all colonial Powers, and which may even find it convenient to make political capital out of criticism of colonial administration. We may be certain that year after year there will be, in the General Assembly, no lack of champions of the colonial peoples. Pressure is already great, it will grow, and it may even be responsible for a rapid advance towards racial and colour equality, and towards self-government in the Colonies. The United Nations may prove a stimulant to self-assertion by colonial peoples themselves, because it will give them at least once a year a world platform with a highly sympathetic audience. We were largely responsible for proposing this machinery, and think we should welcome it, but we must recognise what ceaseless effort and what sustained imagination will be called for on our part if we are to keep pace with world opinion on this matter.
I spoke of co-operation between the European colonial Powers. This has grown up, particularly out of the strategic needs of the war, in Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. In the two last-named areas, permanent machinery in the shape of commissions, has been set up to 327 enable us to carry on that co-operation. I wish to call attention to two aspects of the work of these Commissions. First, I think I am right in saying that the projects so far undertaken have been purely technical matters of communications, of health and combating of disease, measures to improve food production, and I would mention one particular interest of mine, the improvement of fisheries, which we are undertaking on a large scale in our own colonies. I am proud that in the Nautical School in my constituency, Grimsby, colonial fishery officers are being trained very successfully. I do not think that in the future technical co-operation will be enough Now that the avowed objective of all colonial administration is the welfare of the peoples administered, there will develop a strong case for encouraging certain common institutions, social, educational and economic, on a regional basis, rather the kind of thing envisaged by the hon. Member for Banbury. After all, the boundaries set up in some areas are artificial ones, set up for European and not for African reasons, and these boundaries do not necessarily make sense when they are examined through African rather than European eyes.
It is interesting to speculate what the effect on colonial economies might be if the present Paris discussions were to result in some kind of economic unification or customs union among the Western colonial Powers. Would the colonial resources of those European Powers be put into the pool? If so, what guarantees would be necessary to ensure that African interests were properly safeguarded, if African resources were called in to aid a plan which is primarily for the reconstruction of Europe? It is too soon for uninstructed back benchers to answer a question of that kind, but there may be a great problem there. The second aspect of these Commissions in the Caribbean and South Pacific to which I would like to refer relates to the ancillary bodies, the Conferences—the West Indian Conference and the South Pacific Conference—advisory bodies where, for the first time, the representatives of the peoples themselves come to represent their countries. Some of them are chosen in fully democratic ways by their legislatures, others, where no democratic legislatures exist, by different methods.
328 I believe that these bodies may not only give useful advice in the immediate future, but will be much more important as schools for self-government for the peoples concerned, for bringing up the more backward peoples to the standard of the more advanced peoples, and also as a safety valve for awakening nationalism.
It is vital that we should not underestimate the force of nationalism in the colonies—as far as I know in all colonies, certainly in nearly all colonies. In Western countries we are apt to think of nationalism as a curse and a barrier to a saner and wider world order. In backward areas which have been under foreign domination, or which perhaps have never known nationhood, nationalism is an inevitable step in the general movement for liberation, for self-government and eventual independence. It is a natural aspiration, with which we must show sympathy. We must seek always to be ahead of it, even when we think it is moving faster than is either safe or wise. I believe that so far, our postwar policy can stand that test. But the tempo will be constantly increasing, and there is never likely to be a moment when we can sit back quietly and leisurely to consolidate the advances made.
In congratulating my right hon. Friend on the work he has done to date, I say to him, echoing the words he used in his speech today, that when history judges his policy, mistakes of boldness will be forgiven him. Indeed, as each colony approaches readiness for full self-government it will be found, as it is now being found in India and Burma, that it is upon stretching boldness to the uttermost limit that the permanence of the ties of the British Commonwealth will ultimately depend.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Several hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the Committee today have spent time contrasting the shortness of this Debate with the vastness of the subject. Indeed, one hon. Gentleman went so far as to remind us that he said last year that he thought these Debates were useless and that he still thought so this year. I can quite understand his having that feeling when listening to the speeches of his colleagues. I have one small suggestion to make for saving time another 329 year, and that is that another year perhaps it might be possible that the Minister's peroration should be sung and that the rest of his speech should be printed and circulated in the morning. That, I reckon, would save us about 80 minutes.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I shall waste time for every interruption; otherwise, I shall be very brief. That, I reckon, would save about 80 minutes. I am not saying this at all unkindly. I think it is almost necessary, almost inevitable, that the ministerial pronouncement on an occasion of this sort must take a vast sweep and could hardly go over any particular subject in any very exciting detail. I wonder whether it might not really be possible that one way of streamlining Parliamentary procedure might be by some such method as that.
Then, Sir, I want to say one thing about university education, particularly in Africa. I approach it with very great diffidence because the thing I want to say is rather difficult to say without appearing to show something of patronage or condescension. I do not mean it in the least that way. I myself, as the Secretary of State knows, had a good deal to do at one time with this subject, and I have never had any feeling of superiority in the matter at all.
What I am trying to say is this. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) spoke, I think very justly, of the danger and bad effect in an educational system of feeling all the time that for the top education, for the best, one had to go outside the system. He spoke of that apropos of the two or three thousand Africans, particularly, who are now at British universities. I think that is a warning very rightly and properly given. There is a rather similar warning, which, as I say, is a little more difficult to give without offence, and which I do not think can be given either to Africans or to British teachers and administrators in Africa, except from the Colonial Office. Therefore, I wish to ask for reassurance that the danger which I am now approaching is clearly recognised in the Colonial Office, and that they have got the courage to keep on warning people in the Colonies of it. The danger is that 330 when trying to teach somebody under one's own level in that subject—like teaching a small child to ride a bicycle or to swim—one is bound to say, "You can do it now by yourself" before that is quite true, though of course one must not do that too soon.
There is a danger arising from that that people may be induced, with results eventually most disappointing to themselves, to believe too soon that their universities are as good as Paris was in the 15th century, as good as Oxford in the 20th century, and so on. That, in my judgment, is, in the long run, the greatest of all dangers to colonial education—the danger of the beginning to believe too soon that Achimota is better than Oxford and that Makerere is almost as good as Cambridge, and so on. On the other hand, there must be care not to let them think they are getting something second rate, and immense trouble must be taken all the time to improve what they are getting. But, for the contrary danger, I am sure that for good and bad motives, almost everybody engaged in running this education is very much tempted to overcall his hand. And though it requires great courage and discretion on the part of the Colonial Office to correct it from time to time, that is one of the services which is absolutely their duty. I should like to be reassured that that is one of the dangers of which they are conscious.
I want to move to an entirely different subject; I am afraid that in this Debate one is bound to be rather disjointed. We cannot discuss the new Malayan constitution today, but I should like to ask one or two questions about administrative and political decisions which must be taken before we can discuss that constitution, as I understand we may hope to do in the autumn. One is this: the great reality, I suppose, in Malaya is the melting pot side of it. The Malay is something like 40 per cent. Chinese, about as much Indian, I have forgotten what, say, nearly 20 per cent.; add every race you like for the last one or two per cent. Every attempt to get a new constitution to work, therefore, must depend on that, and on immigration. I should like to know what are the views of the Colonial Office. Is it intended to regulate immigration, to have some sort of racial quota? Also, is it intended to regulate the acquisition of 331 citizenship by immigrants of the first or second generation?
Here, there is a very important question. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) thought that nationalism was all right for the lesser breeds without the law, but that he and you and I, Mr. Beaumont, if we run fast enough, might keep ahead of it. I am not quite sure that that is a very useful conception; at. any rate, there was this advantage about nationality as we have known it: it has given a certain political predictability, the territorial nationality of Europe, where everybody occupying a particular territory, has the same citizenship and allegiance and where something like 60, 70 or 90 per cent.—at the best times 99 per cent.—can be trusted to have exactly the same loyalty. That is made far more difficult if there is a large community which has, or thinks it has, a double citizenship. I do not want to talk about Palestine, but we have seen enough of it there. Somewhat the same thing is true also about the Chinese. I believe that very few Chinese ever believe honestly in their souls that in one generation, or even in two, they become British, American or Malayan subjects and cease to be Chinese subjects. I believe the Chinese Government still maintain that all Chinese owe allegiance even if they have been three or four generations in Malaya. It is no use blinking that. I do not want to be unkind either to Chinese in China or in Malaya, nor in the least do I want to make things difficult for the Colonial Office. Has the Colonial Office a policy about this? Does it believe anything can be done to persuade the Chinese Government to give up the claim, and can anything effective be done to educate the Chinese in Malaya out of the assumption of double nationality? If so, what does it think can be done to these ends, what is being done and with what hope of success?
I think it has this immediate relation to administration under these Estimates, that unless something can be done effectively and it can be shown to the Malays that it is being done, the temptation to Malays of going Pan-Indonesian—to use a rather horrible expression—is much greater. There is that temptation to Malays to think of themselves as having an overriding allegiance, to some 332 Indonesian possibility, to something outside, something in their hope eventually including Malaya; any chance of the new constitution being a reality would seem to me thereby to be very much reduced. I should, therefore, like to have the Colonial Office views and their plans about that.
Thirdly and lastly, what is their view about trade unions in Malaya? How much is being done or can be done? I quite see that if we want a trade union to be a real trade union and democratic, obviously the whole essence is that we must let them run it themselves. If we come in from outside and run the thing, we are making nonsense of our own conception. What do they think can be done to try to make sure that these trade unions are real trade unions? My information, which I beg right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to believe is good information, from a very, very wise and very liberal man, is something like this: that it has been extremely depressing during the past year or two to see one solid trade union after another cave in as violence or the threat of it apply. Practically all of them are now nothing better than collections of yes-men and so on, and in a place where as far as organisation goes the Communist is the strongest party. This may be a slight exaggeration; if so the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary can correct me at the end. If that is at all so, it must be an end of trade unions one way or the other. That must land them in a position where they become more or less than trade unions.
It may be that there is nothing that can be done; but I should like to know if it is believed by the Colonial Office that the danger which I am indicating is a real one, or will they tell me that I am wholly misled by my correspondence? I think they cannot do that, and I do not think they will, and on that assumption will they tell us what it is hoped can be done by way of avoiding that danger also?
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
I hope the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) will pardon me if I do not follow his, as usual, rather cynical and especially conceited remarks, which were rather like those of a schoolmaster masquerading from a high pinnacle before the small boys beneath. I noticed that 333 the hon. Member did not speak of a group of colonies of which he ought to know something, and where he, as well as I, was born—an island of the Caribbean. I know that the hon. Member thinks he is rather superior, but I do not, and I have always expressed my admiration for the native population of the West Indies. I think they are a very fine type, and I have always tried to impress upon this House that this British civilisation is the spearhead of a new civilisation, not like the African, sometimes left without contacts, until quite recently, with European civilisations, but an Africo-British civilisation with contact's of over 300 years or more with all types of European civilisation and additionally with the American civilisation, which is an offspring from the British civilisation.
I want to congratulate the Secretary of State. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I am usually very critical of colonial policy. I have looked for years to see whether there was any turn or twist being given to the colonial situation from the point of view of helping the colonists as brothers, rather than putting ourselves in the rather narrow legalistic attitude of being trustees or senior partners or curators for their welfare. I have always said that welfare is not enough, that money is not enough, that development is not enough. There must be real co-operation between the mother country, as they call it, and the colonies, and a real democratic constitution and co-operation saturating them with our traditions, methods of government and with every phase of our life. Particularly. I want to see, in the Caribbean, with which I am particularly concerned, more character-building towards citizen ship, with a real development on democratic lines, as we have it in this country.
At last I am beginning to see that the Secretary of State, after having been left a huge legacy of chaos and capitalist confusion, is trying to get the administration into order and to work according to a planned scheme, but I want to warn him still against certain faults in his administration. The Colonial Office is still too shy of new blood, too frightened of any new ideas, and of any infiltration into its own specially chosen advisory committees. There are, as I have said, two hon. Members of this House who were born in the Caribbean—the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University 334 and myself. The native peoples should be given more information and should be kept more closely in touch with colonial administration by being given, much more frequently, the opportunities of taking part in the work of the Department, and it should not be confined to one party, but open to all parties. An hon. Gentleman opposite said something about wanting to set a standard. One of our Dominions—South Africa—has a standard in regard to racial administration which we in this country cannot regard as our standard.
I want to ask my right hon. Friend what is the land policy of the Minister, in particular, in the Caribbean? I hope he is not going to move, as I know he is being pressed to move, in the direction of capitalist land exploitation in the smaller colonies, rather than create a situation in which the Government will be owning the land, which the indigenous population could rent in return for security of tenure. I know that there is a move on foot in certain directions to wards capitalist exploitation, and there are people who hope that there will be this capitalist exploitation of the land, rather than the Government owning the land and giving the natives leases and security of tenure. Certain clergymen in the West Indies have spoken of the Government ownership of the land and the granting of leases, and have said that this is a wrong policy, and, on religious grounds, they have maintained that it is right for people to own the land, though I myself do not maintain that. I think it is wrong that the land should belong to any private citizens, except in certain particular circumstances. I want to ask whether, in regard to the nationalisation policy which we are pursuing in Great Britain, the Colonial administration has considered the question of the nationalisation of the central sugar factories in the Colonies, especially in the West Indies, not so much the actual sugar estates or the allotments of the cane farmers——
§ Dr. Morgan
Well, I do not mind, if the hon. Member wants it. There is no reason why it should not be done, as it is done in certain colonies, where the Government buy the land and split it up into small lots for planters. Capitalists do it in Trindad. They have two methods. They secure the cane from the larger 335 estates, and they have it from the small cane farmers. Why should not the Government set up a factory on modern lines and take the cane from the cane farmers for the making of sugar? I want to impress upon the Government what I have tried to tell them so often in the past. It is the case of the central sugar factory in St. Kitts, and I want to know why this concern cannot be nationalised, with its 1,000 per cent. profit per annum over 20 years, the figures of which cannot be doubted. When I handed those figures to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), when he was Colonial Secretary, he told me that the figures were doubted by the directors of the companies, but I asked the right hon. Gentleman where they were doubtful and where they were wrong? Hon. Members can ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol himself.
St. Kitts is a small island where the population is decreasing, where the wages of labourers are low and where housing is almost a scandal because there is no land on the estates on which people can build houses. I do want to know whether the Government have been requested by the St. Kitts' Legislative Council to build a central sugar factory there, or nationalise this factory or go to arbitration on it for compulsory purchase. The same thing applies to oil. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has seen the contract which has been made between the Trinidad Leasehold Oil Company and the Standard Oil Company of America or some U.S.A. subsidiary for the purpose of getting over the present economic tangle. Arrangements were being made whereby it will become almost an international company so that they could carry on in all fields, but the people or workers of Trinidad had no say in the matter. Last night, when I tried to interrupt my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) when he was speaking on nominee shareholders being known in the capitalist infiltration of companies under the Companies Act, I wanted to prove that it was necessary to have control over and publicity for nominee holdings, because I know that in many of our colonies, nominee holdings by foreign shareholders or businesses have control of companies.
336 I want now to come to the political aspect. We all want to see these colonies develop politically. As my right hon. Friend knows, I have always been keen on that being done. However, I am rather shocked at the way events have turned out in Jamaica. The right hon. Member for West Bristol gave a very excellent constitution, a democratic constitution, to the people of Jamaica. Hon. Members opposite also know how the election was manipulated by those on the Conservative and business side. Many of the facts in connection with the election have yet to come out. I have seen letters from people high up in official circles, the contents of which, if known, might create a scandal. Mr. Bustamente, the present Prime Minister of Jamaica, has great experience of Mid-American despotic states and their constitutions as contrasted with the democratic constitution of this country and of Jamaica which should be observed constitutionally by the Jamaican Government. Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is true that Mr. Bustamente recently burst into a room in which were the Governor and the Parliamentary Secretary, brandishing a revolver, which he pointed menacingly at the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Hugh Foot? I have evidence in my pocket to this effect, and, if my right hon. Friend would like to see it, I will gladly let him have it.
If such a thing happened, then we ought to take a definite stand, and say that the democratic Constitution of that country is being violated. We should send observers there, with armed forces, if necessary, to see that any election is conducted in a democratic way. We should never allow that sort of thing to happen. I see that hon. Gentlemen opposite are laughing. No dictatorship should be permitted in a colony with a democratic constitution or indeed in any colony.
§ Dr. Morgan
No, the hon. Gentleman may not. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite are laughing at the alleged falsity of the story, or at the fact that a democratic constitution was drawn up which apparently is not being observed?
§ Mr. Gammans
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Bustamente is the leader of the Jamaican Labour Party?
§ Dr. Morgan
That sounds very funny, but fancy asking me such a question? I would tell the hon. Gentleman that a name means nothing. Mr. Bustamente only cribbed the title because he wanted to use it with an electorate who did not know its right meaning. The leader of the People's National Party chose the name "People's National Party" because he did not want to frighten an in experienced voting population, and owing to Conservative propaganda in the island about Socialism and the Labour Party. I am prepared to go to his constituency and fight the hon. Gentleman on such an issue. Fancy the hon. Gentleman asking me a question of that kind; he must think I am a bit of a "softy." There is another problem in Trinidad about which I want to say a few words. I promise not to be long in doing so, Mr. Beaumont. I say that in case you may be feeling a little apprehensive.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I am not apprehensive about the time which the hon. Member may take to make his speech, but only about the threats he mentioned in it.
§ Dr. Morgan
I am sorry, but I would never suggest fighting you, Mr. Beaumont, in a place where you are so strongly entrenched. Actually, I was referring to the hon. Member opposite.
In -Trinidad there is another demagogue known as Mr. Butler. I want to be sure that, if Mr. Butler raises another riot with his Bible teaching, the chief of police sent to quell the riot will not be the brother-in-law of the chief legal adviser to the most influential oil company there. Such a thing rather complicates matters in the Colony. I am not making any suggestion that there should be interference one way or the other, but I do suggest that that was an indiscreet move to make. I believe that the chief of police is a perfectly honourable man, but, from the point of view of the strikers, it was a most injudicious form of tactics to adopt.
I will now come to the colony of Grenada. I am sorry that the hon.
338 Member the senior Burgess for Cambridge University is not present because he was born within 200 yards of where I was born on the island. I want to refer to certain very tendentious, very offensive, and very hard comments which have recently been made in a certain newspaper about this particular island. They were made by Mr. John Walters, a journalist, who writes for the "Daily Mirror." He writes on matters, ranging from New York to the Caribbean, and even as far as South America, of which he has practically no knowledge. He wrote recently about the ravings of a crazy native doctor, a medico temporarily employed in the island from Canada. Hon. Members opposite are laughing, but I can prove all my facts; I am not letting them rattle me, but I do not like to see the frontispiece of the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) shake so much. This journalist describes Grenada as a "colony of dying men."
I have the statistics here. I obtained them from Sir William Maclean's office. He is an encouraging courteous man from whom to get information at the Colonial Office; he is a good Scotsman. I like to pay a tribute to a man who deserves it. I do not always wish to be critical. I like to give credit where credit is due, and I must say that he is one of the finest Colonial Office officers I have ever met. When I went to see him, he was willing to give me every piece of information it was possible to give. I have here the figures dealing with the last 12 years, and I obtained them through the kindness of Sir William Maclean and the Colony's senior medical officer. They show that for the last 10 years the incidence of all the diseases specially endemic in the Colony has steadily fallen. Yet the journalist to whom I have referred, circulated in a journal the statement that this is a dying colony. I cannot imagine that a migrating journalist should sink so low into the "sewage" of journalism as to publish information of that kind. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the newspaper?"] It is the "Daily Mirror." I have criticised newspapers before, and sometimes harshly, but really, this is sinking to the lowest level in journalism which ever existed in this country, and I hope it will not happen again. The acting senior medical officer described as old in this diatribe, was up to date, as he, to my knowledge, took a severe study course in 339 modern medicine in 1938. But why bother with this tomfoolery?
I ask the Under-Secretary to pursue his attack on all fronts, from the point of view of federal unity of all the Caribbean Islands, in spite of the opposition of the business interests and in spite of the reference by the hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) to bulk buying by the Ministry of Food. I know for a fact—and I have the papers at my home to prove it—that the business men who dealt with the Colony were prepared to do the deal through a long-term contract at a certain price, but when they found that the American prices were rising on a short-term contract, they were sorry that they did not wait a little longer and get the benefit of the higher prices. But they knew what they were doing. They had all the facts and prices from New York and London sent to them, and the contract was arranged by the business men for the purchase of the cocoa crop in Grenada.
On the political front I want the hon. Gentleman to pursue the policy of federation. On the economic front I ask him to push ahead with the policy of building up co-operative businesses. He should encourage this policy from the point of view of producers co-operation as well as of consumers co-operation. The Islands are being exploited by British and United States capital, and sometimes by French capital. I ask the hon. Gentleman to put forward the co-operative way of life, of each co-operative member having a right to vote in the direction he pleases. With regard to the minor industries, such as plastics and things like that, I ask him to try as hard as he can to raise the status of the women in the Caribbeans. As the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) once wrote, "This is a hustling urgency." We should give scholarships from the primary schools to the secondary schools, and from the secondary schools to colleges in Great Britain, in the ratio of three females to one male if necessary. We should encourage the women at every turn. The right hon. Member for West Bristol will remember the scheme which was set up for the training of West Indian nurses, in collaboration with the L.C.C., with which I think he will admit I had a good deal to do I do not wish to say that I originated 340 the idea, although the first document certainly came from me, and the right hon. Gentleman worked it up. That scheme is proving an excellent one, and later on will produce valuable work from the trained nurses who will return to their own people in the West Indies and teach them the elements of nursing.
I wish the Under-Secretary would approach the British Council from the point of view of culture and art, because there is a huge field in that direction. I would like him to ask the British Council to select three or four men who have the interests of the people at heart, and send them out there on a good lecture tour with cinematographs and phonographs in order to give them a continued study and ideal of British traditions and of European and international art and culture, to develop and encourage them to give expression to their artistic sense.
I know my hon. Friend has the very best intentions, and I know that he works hard, both inside and outside his office. But he had a very good example set him by the right hon. Member for West Bristol. I hope my hon. Friend will beat him in the race. I can only wish him God speed in his work in trying to reform conditions in the colonies—the British Colonies, in the Pacific, in Africa and in the Caribbean, which could feed Britain to the extent of half her needs if they were properly developed. They could supply us with oil, food, fish and all sorts of other commodities. Let us develop them, not in the sense of exploiting them by capitalism, nor by teaching the black capitalists to exploit the natives, but by dealing with the whole matter by a co-operative movement, from the point of view of politics, economics, culture, character building and the building up of all the British traditions. By so doing, my hon. Friend will place his name on one of the finest records of Colonial history which has ever brightened this country.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
I know that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) will forgive me if I do not follow his speech, because there are so many other hon. Members who wish to have an opportunity of speaking that it would hardly be fair to do so. I must also draw an "iron curtain" around myself and refrain from speaking about Malaya, 341 except to say two things. First, the question of rice as outlined by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) is of over-ruling importance. Between now and the next Debate—and I mention it now because it is a matter of extreme urgency—the Under-Secretary of State must see that an even greater effort is made to overcome the situation which results in a four-and-a-half ounce ration of rice being supplemented by purchases of three times that figure in the black market. Two hundred thousand tons of rice are in the possession of the Brazilian Government which has broken away from the I.E.F.C. The second thing I ask the hon. Gentleman to do regarding Malaya is not to answer piecemeal questions on that subject which have been put to him today. I do not think it would be fair if we are to have a full Debate later on, because hon. Members who have now restrained themselves from going into the Malayan question would be at a disadvantage.
§ Mr. Rees-Williams
The hon. Member is speaking of the political aspect. I, personally, want an answer on the economic aspect.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I should like to turn for a moment to Hong Kong. In the Colonial Secretary's very interesting opening statement, he did inform us—we knew, of course, before—that there had been a change in the set-up of certain councils in Hong Kong—that is to say, a greater degree of native representation. That is a thing to which, I think, in principle we all now give a great deal of adherence, but I would point out that it is an extremely dangerous moment in Hong Kong to do such a thing. According to the figures that the right hon. Gentleman has given to me in the House, there has been an influx of rather over a million people from the mainland of China into Hong Kong. They have come into Hong Kong partly as a tribute to the excellence of our colonial administration, and, the greater attractions of living under the British flag than those of living on the mainland. They are new in that colony, and they cannot in any way fulfil the qualifications laid down in Malaya for citizenship, and I think the greatest care must be taken to see that the new Council and the new form of franchise in Hong Kong do not get overthrown to some extent by this infiltration and influx of 342 those who cannot be considered proper citizens of Hong Kong as yet.
I should like also to mention three other issues on Hong Kong. First, with regard to the university there, which, as the right hon. Gentleman knows—and I know he has very deep sympathy with this—has such dire need of books for educational purposes, I do not believe there is a single Member of this Committee who would do other than support a plea for the most urgent and high priority for the reconstruction of Hong Kong University. Another thing is to think of the future. The right hon. Gentleman now has great sums—and he may have even greater sums—at his disposal for development in the colonies. The future of Hong Kong politically has been discussed, but its economic future is a difficult one. It is a non-productive area and cannot support its own population by growing what it wants, and must have the means to obtain what it wants. Therefore, the development of secondary industries in Hong Kong is a matter which should have his particular attention. There are no people in the world—and I speak from some experience of this—more apt for the job of working in secondary and even in primary industries.
A good start has been made with ship repairing, and with a wonderful effort to get the big dockyards going again. It has reached a certain level, but cannot go ahead owing to steel and other shortages. If secondary industries are developed on a large scale, with partnership between private enterprise and the Government, then the future of Hong Kong, and its stability, and the influence it will have on the area around it—today chaotic—will be very great.
The third point to which I should like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention is that of the moratorium which holds good there just as it does in Malaya and in other parts of the Colonial Empire. It was originally imposed in order to prevent a considerable degree of financial chaos, but under cover of it two rather bad things are happening. One is that many people during the Japanese occupation took advantage of the situation to do great harm to others; and that applies to a great many very poor people whose money was in trust out there, and who are being put in a very false position because they cannot sue and have the matter put right.
343 The other is regarding those who have claims against the Government and wish to use the courts to get redress. They cannot sue. It is surely a wrong, un-British, unfair state of things that the Government should prevent themselves from being sued by those who wish to sue, by maintaining a moratorium which prevents those people from making proper and democratic use of courts of justice.
I turn now to Africa. I served in the East African campaign in 1914–18, and lived in East Africa a good many years afterwards. I was engaged in growing groundnuts—long before the present groundnut scheme in Kenya came into being. Though I am a great believer in that scheme, and wish it success I believe it will encounter more, dangers than existed before. Let us believe not too much in what can be its utility. The highest total world crop of groundnuts—excluding that of the Netherlands East Indies and China and Manchuria; which in times past were some great contributors—in 1945–46 was 4,740,000 tons. This scheme which, at its optimum, can reach 750,000 tons, will produce only about 10 per cent. of that. To think we are going to get a sort of groundnut millenium is a mistake. I have seen so many agricultural projects in the colonies which started out extremely well fail, always for the one reason, that in the end there was a better scheme. It may well be that the native, taught and educated not to abuse the soil, is possibly a better economic unit on his own than when employed by a big corporation, whether Government-owned or privately-owned; and I foresee a possible danger in this scheme in the fact that when we get lower prices again it will be the native, trained and, I hope, weaned away from some of his primitive and bad methods of agriculture, who will become the direct competitor of this Government controlled scheme.
What will happen at that moment? It may well be that the Government to support their own scheme and the large amount of public money which is invested in it, may give themselves undue priority and allocate to themselves all sorts of privileges and advantages that will not be available to the native producer. I have seen this happen in various other commodities. Take the case of rubber alone, where the native producer is now very 344 very much on the upgrade and produces just as good rubber as the plantations; and over half the rubber produced comes from that source. I am afraid that in their enthusiasm and keenness for this groundnut scheme the Government will be overlooking some of the new problems.
I want them to think in practical terms. Today in Northern Nigeria there are 200,000 tons of groundnuts—not future groundnuts, but present-day groundnuts, so badly needed to turn into margarine and other things in this country. They have not been moved since last season, and cannot be moved. Why? Because of the transport difficulties on the way from Kano to Lagos. Chiefly those difficulties consist of an insufficiency of engines. Why are there not sufficient engines? Because in the Estimates for 1946 they were, unfortunately, by an error, I believe—I am open to correction on this—omitted. The fact remains that the engines were not put there and not sent there; and, therefore, the 200,000 tons of groundnuts, so badly needed—and in a sterling area where no dollars are required—are at the present moment static instead of being mobile. Practical planning in a matter of that sort may well take priority. It will not in any way harm the long-term groundnut scheme on which the right hon. Gentleman is so keen, and in which he has support from all sides of the Committee.
I should like to say one or two words about Ceylon. Just before the promotion of Ceylon to Dominion status, there have been certain events there which give great weight to the Colonial Secretary's remarks about growing pains in Colonial countries and the various processes to be undergone before they arrive at complete self-government and Dominion status. If we look at the question of the copra and oil seeds in Ceylon there was something akin—and I am using this phrase quite advisedly—to sharp practice. Owing to a mistake by the Ministry of Food in not putting a clause in the contract about the export duty being for a smaller amount, a 50 per cent. export duty was suddenly clamped on, and this country made to pay £16 more for copra per ton on a five-year contract which had only run one year.
The same happened with rubber, to some extent, just after the end of the war, when we had to pay 1s. 7¼d. to 345 Ceylon; it happened with tea, in regard to which the price has been jacked up against us. These are not manifestations of a Government which is fully ripe, or fully realises its responsibilities to the world, as well as to itself, with self-government. Names Rave been mentioned in this Committee, and tribute has been paid to certain gentlemen from Ceylon. I will not mention their names, but the tribute I pay is that they have taught us a very valuable lesson, namely, that we have to watch very carefully in dealing with countries which, while passing through this period of growing pains, have to be taught that the responsibility of dealing on the highest possible level in international affairs is a prerequisite to taking a seat at the international table as a fully responsible unit.
I thought the Colonial Secretary was a little ungenerous—and other hon. Members opposite have been infinitely more ungenerous—on the question of what had been done in the past. We have had so many attacks on the ground that nothing had been done during the previous so-called capitalistic era. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) called it a laissez faire period. Let us divide that phrase into two. I think the word "faire" is the one that matters. It was a period when things were done But we are now in the laissez" period, when we have to go before any number of permissive committees—because the speech of the Colonial Secretary was notable for one thing: it mentioned more committees, more new bodies being set up, and more administrative bureaucratic forests in front of us, than I have ever heard in any previous speech.
§ Dr. Morgan
"Laissez faire" is only a summary or contraction of a well-known French quotation. Why not give the full quotation?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I would like to point out what did happen in that wicked period. There were created in the colonies both rubber and tin industries; created by partnership, to a great extent, 346 between native and capitalist—usually 50 per cent.—thus producing two industries with an aggregate capital value in the region of £2,000 million. The right hon. Gentleman's £125 million and £50 million are splendid starts, but they must not be allowed to deceive the public of this country into thinking that they are enormous when viewed in their true relationship to what private enterprise has invested and done in the colonies in the last 25 years. Uganda is a model of development—and I had something to do with the starting of development there in 1919. When talking of social and medical development, let the Colonial Secretary and other hon. Members opposite look at Uganda, and they will see that in that country there has developed over 25 years a model medical service which has succeeded in reducing V.D., when it was rampant to an enormous extent before, by training the natives, and by doing all those things which we are now told are typical of the new era.
It is only right that these facts should be known, and that tribute should be paid to those—whether or not they were unlucky enough to do it in the capitalistic era—who actually did those jobs, created those organisations, and produced those results. The time has come to say that, while we wish the right hon. Gentleman well, in every possible way, in these new plans, inherited and carried on with enthusiasm by him, we should not allow this cheap, unthinking and unfounded attack to be made on the enormous job that was done in the previous period for the development of the colonies, of which we are today reaping the benefit. That attack should not go unrefuted—an attack made by hon. Gentlemen who have not spent as many years as I have in the colonies; and I have refreshed my memory by travelling in them since. A tribute should go out of this Committee, to the memory of those who have made just as big a contribution to colonial development as is being made today.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)
To my mind the most important fact which has emerged from this wide Debate has been the recognition, on both sides of the Committee, that the greatest problem before the Secretary of State is that of adequate nutrition for the colonial 347 peoples. His success or failure in that job, and in that job alone, will mark him as a good or bad Secretary of State for the Colonies. In his speech today, recognition of that fact has borne ripe fruit, and I think it is evident from both his and succeeding speeches that the problems of nutrition cannot be solved by medical means alone, or, indeed, by the doctors. No matter how much doctors may contribute to our knowledge of the diseases which cause malnutrition, it is team work which will solve the whole problem, at the base of which is economic rehabilitation. The only thing which can permanently re-establish the colonies in self-sufficiency is a sound economic system with a much higher standard of living. Therefore, not only those engaged in medical work, but all those concerned with food production, secondary industries, management, education, welfare and general administration must work together as a team to the general end, that the people shall have a sound economic life, and through that, fair and adequate nutrition.
I have not lived in the Colonies, but I have had an opportunity quite recently to see something of our fellow citizens in the West Indies and West Africa. I can claim, without offence I hope, that I do not keep my eyes shut, nor my ears closed, when I go among the people, and that I try to hear both sides of the picture, to find out the difficulties of those who are blamed for insufficiency, and to listen to the complaints of those who think that they are being badly treated. I do not think it is a question of praise or blame. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is right, although he was deemed to be tactless, when he said that in so many things we are starting from scratch. Therefore, collaboration and co-operation have to be the key words, and not old distresses and present hurts.
For some time, many of us who have been interested in the plans being made under the colonial development and welfare Acts have thought that we are trying to plan prosperity through welfare, instead of welfare through development. Somehow or other these two things have to be reconciled. Due care must be given to welfare, because if we have not got welfare the people cannot adequately work for their own salvation; on the other 348 hand, unless people work, they cannot achieve that economic development which will pay for the welfare services. Welfare services cannot constantly be subvented from resources voted by this Parliament. Consequently, some of us were worried because we felt too much accent was being put on welfare in some of the ten year plans presented by the various colonial Governments. To our satisfaction some of these plans have been amended to preserve a better balance.
Recently we had the great pronouncement about the imminent formation of the Colonial Economic Development Corporation. That marks the right motivation and shows how this Government approach their work. The Government realise that they have not only to hand out advice and build hospitals and schools, but that there also has to be adequate public finance in every colonial territory. I hope that when the Development Corporation gets going it will be as decentralised as possible, because to me it has a secondary possibility, almost as important as that of economic development. It is that the colonial peoples, whose idea of education has hitherto been academic—the ideal being an administrative job in a secretariat—can be made to see that the job to be done in their own backyards, so to speak, the real job to be done in the world, is the job of production. We learn by sore experience that all of us live on the man who digs the ground and grows vegetables and corn, and the man who digs coal, that compared with these men white collar workers are of only secondary importance. Even my hon. Friends and I in this Committee are really of only secondary importance, doing a service for the primary producers. That is not understood in the colonies, where a wrong attitude has been engendered, naturally and innocently, by the type of people selected to lead in the colonies. In the five or six colonies I have seen lately I have been much impressed by the leadership, intelligence, initiative and, above all, friendly attitude of the young colonial appointees; but often I have found a lingering reminder of a tradition which is already dead in this country among the highest officials.
This can best be illustrated by what happened at Opobo in the Eastern province of Nigeria. My colleagues and I of the Parliamentary delegation were asked, at a moment's notice, to receive 349 a deputation of local Nigerian civil servants. We agreed, and found that their grievance was about the type of houses being built for them by the Government. They considered that they were inferior and unsuitable to their requirements. We went to see these houses, and I said, "If I had one of these in Buckinghamshire, it would solve my problem of overworked weekends." They were surprised. They pointed to a big house nearby, which was the District Commissioner's house, and said, "Surely you live in a house like that?" They considered that the white administrator was the beau ideal of manhood. The houses we saw were not at all unsuitable; in our opinion, they were extremely well built; but the whole idea was that the bigger the man the bigger should be the house in which he lived, and the taller should be his white collar. Such a man was considered to be of greatest importance to the community. That is a conception outmoded in this country. Why is it perpetuated in the colonies? The greatest simplicity on the part of those who lead the colonial people—those sent out to teach and help them—the greater the approximation by white officials to the best kind of life we can afford for the governed, would be a wonderful example in solving the problems there.
That leads me to the great difference in the treatment meted out to administrative officers and technical officers. The crying need in every colony is for technical advice, for manual assistants Doctors, dentists, railway engineers road surveyors and chemists are the people who are needed most, because they are there to set welfare and development on its feet. Two general managers of railway companies told me that it was not so much a question of rolling stock which was worrying them as the fact that minor railway officials, who had been induced into the colonies on the promise of a good job, were treated as an inferior caste when they got there and resigned almost immediately. They discovered that because they were technicians, they would have to live in a class three house, with no running water or water-closet, only the unpopular thunder box. In one European club there was a well-marked caste difference in the geography of the place. Promotion, as it were, took one to the next part of the club. I hope that this is not general, but these are some of the 350 things we noticed and felt were wrong. They are not wrong because perhaps they carry on a tradition; they are not wrong intentionally, I feel sure, but we have to have a new spirit in the white men who go out to the Colonies if they are to achieve that collaboration and co-operation of which I spoke. Increasingly, there is smaller recruitment to the Colonies on the part of the technical people who are in such great demand. As self-government proceeds, there will be fewer appointments on the administrative side as well.
§ Mr. Skinnard
I inquired whether it was the badness of the pay, and I was told categorically that that was only part of the reason; it was inferiority of status as being a worker with one's hands, as against what the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) has described as the "pukka sahib."
§ Dr. Morgan
I have no connection with the "pukka sahib" type. It was an hon. Member on my left who said that. I would not be so disrespectful.
§ Mr. Skinnard
I am sorry if I attributed the remark to the wrong Member. It came from somewhere in that direction. Since there will be a smaller recruitment of the necessary technicians, the emphasis on education in the colonies should be on the provision of technicians, agriculturists and experts of all kinds, who can help themselves and their lands. It is a sad thing to notice that in Sierra Leone at the moment they are lamenting the shutting down of the one diocesan technical school, and they are longing for a technical institution of their own as is Gambia. I do not think that we need worry too much about some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), because if there is one thing which we do not want in the Colonies it is imitation Oxfords and Cambridges; they are no longer valid in the scheme of things.
One of the results of experience, I am told, has been that on the Gold Coast welfare officers and labour officers are to be trained on their own territory rather than sent over here for training. I welcome that decision. Men whom I saw at work, and whom I had the privilege of 351 knowing as students, are having to learn all over again the work for which they were trained in the environment in which their new duties now take them. Although we have appointed trade union officers and labour officers they are sometimes misemployed when they reach the colonies because of ignorance on the part of the Government authorities. I found a man doing a good job managing a housing estate. He was making a really good job of it, and the housing estate was excellent, but he was not sent there to manage housing estates. If we want someone to manage houses let us send out a housing officer, and leave the labour officer and the trade union officer to do the jobs for which they were trained. I should like to emphasise the importance on educational authorities of mass education.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
Did my hon. Friend not find that the authorities in the colonies did not want the natives to be taught the trade union system?
§ Mr. Skinnard
No. On the contrary what I felt was that they misunderstood what we understood by trade union work, but they are up against extraordinary difficulties in that in many colonies they are only beginning to learn trade unionism and trade union organisation. One of the trade union officers I knew had built up a well-organised trade union congress. What I was trying to point out was that labour or trade union officers who are assigned to a particular job should go to that job and not to something else. I am sure that when such cases are brought to the notice of the Secretary of State they are righted, but in London he cannot know what every appointment is doing at any given moment, and he has to take for granted that the colonial Governments understand his motives in making the appointments. I have already said that I think the universities in the colonies should have a vocational and local bias so that they should not be purely academic places. The great necessity today is to get the colonies on their feet as self-sufficient producing units. If that is not possible with some individual colonies, then they should be in a group of colonies, or regional federation, so that they can interchange surpluses and make themselves self-sufficient.
§ Dr. Morgan
In other words what the hon. Gentleman is advocating is the establishment of colonial technical schools rather than colonial universities with their cultural aspect?
§ Mr. Skinnard
Not at all. If we set out to have colonial purely cultural universities, that surely is the wrong way of going about it, because culture is as natural as it is indigenous. What I am anxious is that there should be good engineering schools and first-class agricultural colleges in every big colonial territory, and I think the culture of the people can look after itself if that is the case. Culture does not die as skill does. Skill can die through disuse, but the culture of the people manages to survive in spite of many difficulties, as is evidenced in the Negro colleges of the Southern States of America.
§ Mr. Skinnard
The last point which I should like to introduce, though it is rather late to put forward this matter, is that of indirect rule. There was a time when the Northern territories of Nigeria could rightly claim to be in advance of the Eastern and Western Provinces. That is not so today and I feel that that is largely because of the continuance of indirect rule after the fulfilment of its purpose. Men like Lord Lugard never intended that the expedient of indirect rule which he used should go on in the form in which he left it after conditions which it served had changed. Therefore, I would urge that consideration be given to the development of native administration, not necessarily on the lines of Western democracy. There should be given to the Colonial peoples that experience in Government which comes from doing a job. Some of them are already learning in the co-operative societies and in local produce associations, but in many of the oldest administrations there is the dead hand of tribal tradition which is no longer valid or useful. If these native administrations could be gradually transformed I am sure that half the problem would be solving itself.
Some reference has been made to mass education and the Under-Secretary has been asked if he would state anything that has been done in that line in his reply. I can at least testify to the fact that in the Udi district of Nigeria such a transformation has been effected by mass education 353 that they now have in the villages of that district a sort of local education and health service on co-operative lines. People, old and young, are literate because it has been the pride of the young literate to teach the old illiterate, and it has become a code of honour to go to school however old you are, to learn to read and to prepare your own books
The hon. and gallant Member for Basingstoke (Squadron-Leader Donner) asked about literature and newspapers. In Udi they have actually solved the problem by printing their own, and they are the simple technical books they need to assist them to rehabilitate their district. Self-help is the basis. Patronage is all very well, but the thing that endures is the thing one does oneself, and I think that the best way we can help the colonial people is to help them to help themselves, offer them guidance, give them expert assistance, and trust to their own pride and honour to do the rest.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Colonel Ponsonby (Sevenoaks)
Nothing could be more harmful than for these Debates to afford political parties the opportunity for snatching credit for different items of development in the Colonies. It must be admitted by all—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman admits it as much as any one—that the present developments are all the result of work that has been done by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors. In some cases those efforts are coming to fruition, and I am sure that the Minister will also admit that continuity of administration and continuity of development can be maintained only if, as far as possible, or almost entirely, the development is not hampered by party politics.
§ Colonel Ponsonby
The hon. Member has been on a flying trip to Singapore, and I am sure he would be the first to admit that it is absolutely essential to have the same policy running through administration——
§ Colonel Ponsonby
—otherwise it is impossible for the people on the spot to know what they are doing and what they may have to do.
§ Colonel Ponsonby
I know that the hon. Gentleman has been very badly bitten by the bug of capitalism, but I would only say that it has bunged up his eyes and clouded his vision. It is essential to be constructive, and I want to make a few remarks connected with the groundnut scheme about which we have heard so much. Here is the scheme put in the fewest possible words, and I mention it because one or two Members have asked for information about it. The scheme is to spend £25 million, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned £50 million, but let us leave it at £25 million, in six years to reclaim and to start cultivation of 3,200,000 acres at a cost of £7 10s. an acre. The groundnuts to be produced are estimated at 850 lb. per acre, at a cost of £12 15s. per ton shelled groundnuts, or £14 5s. per ton f. o. b., and the figure to be aimed at is 600,000 tons a year. Here is a peasant crop now going to be dealt with by scientific, mechanised methods. It is a huge scheme, and it is only possible for a Government to start it. It is also a great speculation. Many of us who are going to put our money on a horse take an interest in the name and pedigree of the horse. In this case, the horse is "Speculation" by "Government" out of "Necessity." Undoubtedly, it is absolutely necessary that we should have the groundnuts, and the scheme is speculative because it depends upon a number of uncertain factors, such as labour, weather and because it is being put into operation in a large way without any pilot scheme at all.
I should mention that this is not the only scheme there has been of this kind. It is a rather interesting historical fact to recall that in 1904 an American called Leigh Hunt wished to start some scheme by which he could bring unwanted negroes back from America to Africa. He went to the Sudan and obtained a concession to grow cotton. The scheme developed and he was helped by Sir Frederick Ecksteim and ultimately this became the Sudan Plantation Syndicate. Slowly and surely the scheme took shape. It consisted of 30 blocks of 15,000 acres each. The Government took an active part in the scheme and they agreed to, or guaranteed, loans amounting to £13 million. I mention the scheme because I should like 355 the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether the groundnuts scheme ultimately might not follow on the same lines.
It was a co-operative scheme. The Government took 40 per cent. of the proceeds of cotton, the tenants took 40 per cent., and the syndicate who managed and to some extent financed it took 20 per cent. As hon. Members may be well aware, that scheme has been a great success. The groundnut scheme is well worked out. Those of us who have read the White Paper would say that it is a most excellent prospectus. Nobody minds the scheme being called a speculation, provided it is clear that it is to some extent a speculation. I would like to mention two or three of the battles in which the promoters will have to engage. First, there is the battle of mechanised science against the forces of nature. I know that these areas are spread and that, therefore, there is a fairly good chance that while rain does not fall in one district it may fall in another, but I was looking at a Bulawayo newspaper the other day and I found that in Rhodesia this year the rainy season amounted only to 14.6 inches over the whole country. We have to face the fact that in Tanganyika, which is not so very far to the north, the rainfall may not be there when it is wanted. According to the prospectus, we ought to have from 20 to 25 inches. That is one of the troubles.
Again, there are pests and game. The Sudan plantations, as hon. Members are aware, consisted of absolutely arid desert till it was irrigated and planted with cotton. Those plantations were miles from any other cotton, yet in a few years that cotton was suffering from cotton pests. The same may happen with groundnuts. Then there is the tsetse fly. This can only fly 200 yards. It is therefore clear that in great tracts of country one can drive the tsetse fly back into the forest and ultimately free that forest altogether of the fly, a very necessary thing, because from the fly comes sleeping sickness for humans and bovine trypanosomiasis for animals.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Would the hon. and gallant Member agree that the best plan is the abolition of the present game preservation laws?
§ Colonel Ponsonby
That would all come in its time. I was going to refer to game. Even if one put up wire six feet high, the kudu can jump that with ease and in the initial stages this will be a considerable trouble to the groundnuts. It may be, as has happened in many other places, that the game will go, but as a game lover I hope that suitable national parks will be left so that any of us going there in future may see those beautiful animals in the best surroundings.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. and gallant Member is on a point with which I intended to deal. Would he not agree that the white man has rid himself of the game and has landed it on the black man?
§ Colonel Ponsonby
That is quite incorrect. The only reason why that impression may have arisen is that the white man has cleared the land and developed it, whereas the African, as the hon. Member will be aware, drifts about from one place to another in the forest, quite uncontrolled. The second battle which the promotors of the scheme will have to face is the battle with competitors. I will call it a competition rather than a battle. With regard to the Ministry of Food and the Colonial Office, I hope there will be no disagreement there. At the moment it looks to the outsider very much as if the Ministry of Food have taken charge of this proposition and that the Colonial Office have been sidetracked to some extent. I know that the right hon. Gentleman will watch that position, because, after all, he is very much responsible for what happens.
But there are other people to consider. There are those who run the sisal industry—in which I am interested; railways—there will be a great deal of railway building—and mines. All these industries want materials and labour. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to let me know sometime—I will not ask him for it tonight—how the cement which is being shipped into the country is distributed. What proportion is going to the sisal industry which has a great deal of building to do not only of factories but also of villages like those of the groundnut scheme, and how much is going to the groundnut scheme? It is rumoured that the Ministry of Food are claiming very high priority and snatching everything in the way of machinery and materials that 357 they can lay their hands on. As regards labour, as hon. Members may know, the sisal industry in Tanganyika produces 100,000 tons a year, valued at about £3,800,000. It employs roughly 90,000 people and wants another 20,000.
There is a good deal of talk about labour being diverted from this established industry, which means so much to the country, to the ground-nuts scheme. All I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to do is to appoint a Committee of all the different industries, with an independent chairman, so that all the labour which has to be recruited comes through one source and is evenly and fairly distributed.
Then I wish to say one word about the last battle which might be called the battle of sentiment. Let us picture to ourselves what will happen in five years, when we hope to see between 30,000 and 40,000 Africans housed in model villages with good houses, water, sanitation, cinemas and other amenities; this in a country now bush and infested with the tsetse fly. We must remember that 50 years ago the labour we drew came from wandering and fighting tribes, consisting of peoples who feared only famine and war. As the hon. Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) said just now, the white collar is doing a great deal of harm. The Governor of Uganda said this in a speech the other day:In one vital respect our administrators, educationists and others, have signally failed. They have failed to eradicate the belief that physical labour is socially degrading.We have to be careful about that in the future, and we must remember that the majority of these Africans are not inclined to work hard or to submit to the discipline which will be necessary. They are not healthy in a great many cases. We can get much information by seeing what has been done by the Union Minière in the Belgian Congo. They have concentrated not on education, not entirely on welfare, but on health first of all. In reply to what the hon. Member for East Harrow mentioned, I would also say that the idea of indirect rule will begin to go by the board. One cannot imagine Africans coming to live in model villages with modern appliances going back to their tribes and living in the primitive surroundings in which they were brought up. That will be the beginning of the end of indirect rule. The old order is changing.
358 This scheme will make it change all the quicker, and we must be quite ready to meet it. We must be prepared to meet criticism in this House if the people who used to criticise the direction of labour, do so in the future. The only hope for this scheme is good, disciplined work.
Lastly I would emphasise that the most important thing is the choice of the best man to run this show. The ordinary African is not interested in going to a place where there is electricity and water and cement floors to his house. He will go where there is what he calls" a good Bwana "—a good white man. Therefore the best men, who know the Africans, should be chosen to run this scheme. It may mean a revolution in the economy of East Africa. It has great possibilities, and I am sure hon. Members on all sides of the Committee will wish it every success.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Dr. Segal (Preston)
There used to be a famous Finnish long-distance runner who had a habit of running a race with his watch in his hand. I feel rather like that at the moment, speaking at this late hour in the proceedings. There is, how ever, one point which I would like to put. It is in connection with the constitutional changes that have taken place in our colonies in the last few years. I am rather inclined to the view now that many of these changes might already have lost their significance.
One colony of which I can speak with some little knowledge, Nigeria, which in itself, comprises one-third of our total colonial population, actually boycotted the elections to its regional council in the capital city of Lagos. With the establishment of the Regional Council and the Legislative Council, there has been coincidently a very great interest in the nationalist movement in Nigeria, the."Zik" movement. I would like to bring to the notice of the Under-Secretary of State a fruitful line which might be followed in this matter. At the moment the "Zik" movement finds itself against an irremovable resistance. The possibility might perhaps be explored, instead of dealing with the local administration out there, of its having direct access to our administration in London. I would illustrate that by the constitutional developments which have taken place in 359 the French Colonial Empire. As a general rule I am not altogether a complete admirer of French administration, but today in the. National Assembly of France, out of 619 members, there are no fewer than 35 who sit in that Assembly representing the various French colonies.
A little while ago some of us had an opportunity of meeting members of the French Council of the Republic, which used to be the Senate. There we were greeted officially by the President of the Council, who happened to be a Frenchman born in the State of French Guiana. As we walked about the libraries we met senators who were black as coal. We discovered that one came from the Ivory Coast, one from Gabon, one from Senegal and one from French Equatorial Africa. Shortly there is to be set up in France a third assembly, the Assembly of French Union, and there 120 out of 240 seats will be occupied by representatives of French overseas territories and the Colonial Empire. Without developing this idea too much, I suggest that there is an effective means today of relieving a great deal of the strain on our colonial administration in various territories if we constituted here, in the heart of our Empire, not as an instrument of government but as an advisory representative assembly, some form of colonial representation.
Our present Colonial Secretary has made gallant efforts to lift the colour bar from the boxing rings of this country. Let us not only make the negative effort, but let us put it in positive form. At present the Boundary Commissioners are engaged on a report, an essential part of which will be to reduce the number of Members of this House from 640 to 615. Here perhaps is an opportunity, on a small, limited, scale of bringing our colonial friends to sit among us as a constant living testimony of our colonial dependencies. They could come here not necessarily in a legislative capacity, but in a representative capacity, so that they might acquire a new dignity and status and contribute to their full towards the wealth and prosperity of our great Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)
Although this is one of the last Supply days, there has been surprisingly little party controversy in this Debate. The reason is clear. It is that the present 360 Government are largely carrying out the Colonial policy of the Coalition Government, which was itself the logical development, both in its constitutional and economic spheres, of the Conservative Colonial policy of the past. We have moved very far from the old days. We no longer hear the President of the Board of Trade say that it is fundamental to Socialism that we should liquidate the British Empire as soon as we can. We no longer, of a morning, open the "Daily Herald" and read, as we used to do, that the British Empire having fulfilled its historic function, must disappear. We are no longer advised, by a Cabinet Minister, to look at the pages of British Imperial history and hide our heads in shame that we are British. On the contrary we are now advised, and quite rightly advised, by the Under-Secretary of State, to hold our heads up high, as he did, recently and lustily in the Trusteeship Committee a few weeks ago. We are told that we ought to believe in our Empire and in our Colonial mission. He asserts, and we do not deny it, that the fundamental freedoms are more adequately safeguarded in the British Colonial Empire than in many sovereign States.
Times have indeed changed, and we hear very little now of Colonial exploitation. It is true that from time to time hon. Members like the hon. Member for Rochdale (Dr. Morgan) come out with stories of fantastic profits from some particular Colonial venture, but on the whole the tendency now is to agree with Lord Hailey, who received well merited approval from the right hon. Gentleman, that if all the money invested in the British Colonial Empire in the last 50 years had instead been invested in Government securities, the yield would have been just about the same. There has been a great and welcome change, a change which we, on the Conservative benches, who appreciate that the British Empire and the Colonial Empire are more important than any party politics at home, can do nothing but welcome. In this change, the right hon. Gentleman himself has, of course, shared. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said in his speech that the only way to teach people the capacity to govern was to give them the experience of doing so, and he said that this process might be a painful one. The process is equally necessary and 361 equally painful for Cabinet Ministers as for native peoples.
There are one or two awkward moments still, no doubt, when the right hon. Gentleman, for example, has to weigh the merits of a minority report, which he himself signed, and a majority report which, on reflection, appears to have the bulk of the arguments on its side. There may be difficulties in explaining the monopoly selling of diamonds in Tanganyika, or as when, earlier this evening, the hon. Member for Rochdale leaned towards him, and proceeded, with a glorious disregard of Question Time in the House over many years, to speak approvingly of Mr. Butler in Trinidad and disparagingly of Mr. Bustamante in Jamaica. We have no quarrel with this change. The process of educating our masters is one which the British people have learned over many generations.
The right hon. Gentleman has a great trust, a great responsibility, and it is one in which we will help him all we possibly can. His task is to reduce want, insecurity and disease among the 60 million people living in vast territories, to lead them, via trusteeship, to full partnership, making political and economic changes not outrun each other but move in harmony together. We hope that this conversion, as it seems to us, of the right hon. Gentleman and his party, will be a permanent one. We hope that if will survive any changes that may happen in the future, that it will survive, for example, the ending of our immediate food crisis or the dollar shortage which, quite naturally, has been one of the prime reasons behind the groundnut scheme in East Africa; or that it will survive, in the Dominion sphere, a change of Government in Australia and New Zealand; or survive, in their own sphere, any change of the side of the House upon which they happen to sit. I think we are all agreed that we have much to be proud of and much on which we can unite in the past, the present, and the future of the British Colonial Empire story.
As we are actually considering the Colonial Empire Report, without stressing it over much, as we have had many opportunities of referring to it before, I would like briefly to remind the Committee of the story unfolded in that blue book about the war contribution of the Colonial Empire. We shall not forget 362 the 470,000-odd colonial soldiers, sailors and airmen, the vast majority of them coloured people, the Fijians in the Pacific, the West Indians all over the place and, above all, the Africans who provided an astonishing number of volunteers. We shall not forget all the work they did. Those of us who knew the Royal Navy and the Merchant Service in the war are not surprised to read that one in six of all the British merchant seamen killed in the war were colonial people, and the vast majority of them were coloured people. That makes the colour bar even more repellent today than it used to be before.
We would remember also the colossal construction tasks they carried out in various colonies and also, in distinction to many European countries, the almost complete absence of any fifth column movement in the colonies when our fortunes were at the lowest ebb. On this we can all agree, and it is a good augury for future unity. We agree also on the broad lines of the Government's colonial economic development policy to which later I would like to refer again. I hope that we all agree, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary certainly agree, that nothing must be done at Geneva, at the trade talks now progressing there, to whittle away that Imperial Preference on which the prosperity of the sugar islands of the West Indies and many other parts of the Empire very largely depend. The immense increase in sugar production under the shelter of Imperial Preference shows the importance of that policy to Jamaica. We cannot forget the words used by the Governor of Jamaica some time ago that:Without Imperial Preference, the Island will become one big poor house and burial ground.We hope that we are all agreed that in a desire to secure what may be only temporary agreement with the United States in the fiscal field we shall take no steps to whittle away Imperial Preference to the colonies, thereby disrupting, perhaps for all time or for many years, their whole agricultural economy. While warning ourselves against this danger and not regarding Imperial Preference solely from the point of view of the mother country or the great Dominions, let us also remember how it is possible to whittle away Imperial Preference without a direct attack 363 upon it, as in the case of Imperial colonial tobacco. There though the Preference remains, it is a specific preference and not an ad valorem preference. The rise in the duty against American tobacco has now brought down the preference from 25 per cent. in 1919 to three per cent. today. So much for the field of agreement in that particular limited but vitally important field.
We are almost ready now because of this wide field of agreement to overlook some of the suggestions that have appeared in certain Socialist newspapers—though not, I must say, from the right hon. Gentleman nor, I suspect, from his Under-Secretary—that all this is something that has happened quite recently and that the present Colonial Secretary is perhaps the greatest holder of that office since Mr. Joseph Chamberlain—if we are still allowed to claim some credit for his particular tenure of authority. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it has been pointed out that both in the constitutional and in the economic field much of this work, the foundations of it, had been completed before, and a great many of the things to which he referred in his speech, and for which some of his supporters claimed credit, are actually the result of previous tenures of office, notable among them being that of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley).
In the constitutional field, how wide the area is. We realise that it covers every constitutional advance and economic development. The new constitution in Jamaica, the Soulbury Mission and the Constitution in Ceylon, the decision to set up a Legislative Council in Aden, the constitutional development in the Gold Coast, the admission, for the first time in our history, of Africans to the Kenya Legislature, the developments in Northern Rhodesia and Uganda, some of which I was privileged myself to see some time ago, the proposals in Nigeria, in March, 1945, the widening of the franchise in Barbados, the unofficial majority in Guiana and Honduras, the new developments in Trinidad, and the first proposals in Malaya—these and many other proposals were either first thought of, conceived or carried out before this Government was elected. To enter a little more controversial field, the application of Income Tax in some 12 colonies goes to
364 the credit or discredit of an earlier administration. In the field of inter-territorial discussions and arrangements, the Central African Council, the various Governors' Conferences and bodies of that kind all show that we were well ahead of the task when the responsibility rested with my right hon Friend.
So much for the constitution and the social changes of the last few years. In the field of economic policy, I say that we regard this present policy of the Government from their various recent announcements and proposals, as very largely a continuance of the policy which we had already put in hand. It is, however, quite true that my right hon. Friend did not write the Colonial mining policy directive which was sent out to the various Colonial Governors, and I am rather glad, looking at some of its woolly and rather naive wording, that he did not write it. I should not think that he would have committed himself to a phrase like, this: "The mines should be run efficiently." I should have thought that the governors might be assumed to have recognised that fact. I am sure, also, that my right hon. Friend would not have said this:The undertaking must not be so small that the burden of overheads is greater than it would be if the size of the unit was increased, nor so large that the operator lacks sufficient inducement to operate to the full economic capacity.Nor the rather hopeful suggestion of its concluding paragraph, suggesting that, in such a risky business, with all its hazards, the governors should operate where private concerns are unwilling to take the risk of investment. My right hon. Friend did not write that report, but the present Colonial Secretary can claim full credit for it. He can also claim full credit for some of the more egregious errors in bulk buying, which have characterised the purchases of his Department and of the Ministry of Food in the last few months. I do not believe that, if the Coalition Government had been continued, we would have fixed the copra price in one colony at £19 per ton below the world price, when we wanted to get increased production, or in another colony that we would not have provided against a possible export levy of £15 per ton. That was bad business, which, if it had been undertaken by private people, would have landed 365 them in the bankruptcy court. As to the cocoa scheme, the errors of that scheme in its present application have been pointed out recently in a Prayer in the House. I do not think that anybody can believe that to pay the West African cocoa grower £60, and to raise the price to the consumer to £119, is the way to get either full native cooperation or an efficient business organisation. But allowing for these differences—and they are big differences—how wide is the field of business here in the economic sphere?
The right hon. Gentleman, as has been pointed out, is living in a period when the full development of our colonial resources is not only of paramount need to the Colonies themselves, but also to the mother country as well. In earlier days, he himself was generous enough to recognise that schemes like these would, in time, flow from the Development and Welfare Act which was passed in 1940. Many of us were away at that time. I was here for the last week that I spent in this House for quite a long time, and I very vividly remember that Debate. I remember, when a later Bill was introduced by the Coalition Government, the right hon. Gentleman the present Colonial Secretary saying:It is epoch-making legislation… It marks an enormous step forward in British Colonial policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 16th February. 1945; Vol. 408, c. 544.]Let us consider the conditions under which the 1940 Bill was brought forward-not when the mother country was hungry. It was brought forward in the week beginning 19th May, 1940. On the Sunday previous to that, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had made his first broadcast to the nation as Prime Minister. Two or three days before, the Germans broke through the French defences, France collapsed, and, within a day or two of that Debate, the guns pounding Calais could be heard in Kent. Invasion seemed imminent, and no doubt short-sighted people felt that was a curious moment to choose to bring forward a Colonial Development Plan which would mature when all those horrors were over. But it was brought forward as the first business of the Coalition Government—the very first Bill. It would, indeed, have been brought forward on the actual day that the Government of the 366 late Mr. Chamberlain fell had it not been replaced by that particular Debate. From this Bill all the rest has ensued, in particular the amending Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend when he was Colonial Secretary—which became the Act of 1945—a Bill which, I think we all agree, laid the foundations for this good colonial development now. From it comes a Colonial Economic and Development Council, and the groundnut scheme.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) made an admirable speech in regard to that scheme. Although we are not allowed to discuss in detail the new corporations, we are entitled to say that we have always advocated, and will now agree with the Government, that the proper way to develop our colonial territory is by partnership between the State provided capital and the managerial capacity and experience of private enterprise. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol said, in the course of an earlier Debate, and before there was a corporation, that there might well be development corporations and schemes run by the Colonies. Let us hope that these admirable schemes are matched with an equally admirable drive in carrying them out. This Government have shown considerable ability in visualising problems, as, for example, our present economic situation, but they have failed to suggest remedies for the problems which they have so accurately analysed. It may be said that analysis is the work of their advisers, but the practical steps fall to them to take. Let us hope that they will now take practical steps, and we will give them our full support.
It is on the quantity of the work done, and not on White Papers issued by this Government that they will be judged. We will give them our full support, because we are confident that we have their wholehearted support in not surrendering the British Empire to any international body, which will substitute for direct guidance a mass of muddled and confused counsels, or for not surrendering it to any other Power in the world. For we know, and know that they now know, that if we did relinquish our Colonial Empire it would not pass into cleaner hands, and mankind would not be better served.
§ 9.20 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Ivor Thomas)
I believe there are still alive ten former Secretaries of State for the Colonies, and six former Under-Secretaries. Whatever the office of State they may have subsequently held, I feel certain they would agree that there is no more fascinating department in the Government. It is particularly fascinating at this time when such immense developments are in train. I have noticed in the speeches of right hon. and hon. Members opposite, particularly those right hon. Gentlemen who opened and closed for the Opposition, a certain anxiety to maintain that what is now happening is not a new development but the natural consequence of what took place under previous Administrations. That theme will, perhaps, serve to give a framework for my own remarks in closing this Debate.
As I see the developments of the past 12 months, I should put in the first place in logical order the fact that the United Kingdom is making its full contribution with respect to the colonial territories in the work of the United Nations, and I should readily admit that if right hon. Gentlemen opposite had been in Office they would not have acted differently from the way in which we have acted, for I believe that support of the United Nations is certainly above party in this House. The United Kingdom has played a very prominent part in the setting up of the trusteeship system which has now taken the place of the mandates system. We ourselves have placed our three African Mandated Territories under trusteeship; we have taken a full place in the trusteeship council itself, and in the debates which led to the setting-up of that council. We have also played a very prominent part in the declaration which now forms Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter, to the importance of which my hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) has particularly referred. It is true that on occasions the United Kingdom delegation to the United Nations has had to prevent this Chapter from being abused. On the basis of our great colonial experience, we have had to point out exactly what it contains, and make sure that it is not used as a basis for trying to secure a general supervision over all non-self-governing territories, such as exists over trust territories. But let it not be forgotten that Chapter XI is now in 368 the United Nations Charter at the instance of the United Kingdom, and that we have always taken a most prominent part in trying to secure acceptance of the doctrine that colonial territories are a responsibility in the face of the world.
The second development to which I should draw attention is that of regional association with other nations. Here again, I should not claim any particular credit for the idea, though I think that this Government can claim some credit for the action taken. I well remember how the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) threw out this idea in 1943 when he was standing at this Box at the end of the Debate, as I am now doing, and none of us was quite certain whether it was a considered policy or an after-dinner suggestion. It has turned out to be considered policy, and we have given effect to it in the Caribbean Commission and in the South Pacific Commission, to which reference has already been made. Effect has also been given to this idea in the Anglo-Franco-Belgian co-operation which is now going on so warmly, and to which my right hon. Friend referred in his speech.
It is, indeed, one of the most significant changes in the modern world that the Colonies, which used to be a source of friction between the great Powers, are now a bond of unity. It was as recently as 1898 that Colonial questions were almost a cause of war between Great Britain and France. We may reflect with much gratitude that in recent years there has been such close co-operation between the. Colonial Powers in respect of the territories which they administer. It is of the utmost importance both for the relations between the Powers and, still more, for the well-being of the territories which we administer. The problems which we have to face are the same. The locust and the tsetse fly do not recognise the frontiers laid down by men; and the conferences which are now to take place between the various Powers about the African territories promise much fruit in the well-being of the peoples of those territories.
The next development which, I think, follows in logical order is the integration of groups of our own Colonies. Here again, we could not claim any originality in the idea, though I think we can claim some credit for action taken in pursuance 369 of that idea. In Central Africa, there is the Central African Council, and in West Africa, there is the West African Council, over which I had the honour to preside in the absence of my right hon. Friend last March. In East Africa, as my right hon. Friend has announced, we hope now to bring to completion ideas which have been discussed for almost 20 years. The necessity for some closer integration of services common to our East African territories has long been manifest, and we believe that the time has now come to cease the talking and to bring this into effect. The proposals in Colonial Paper 210, which, I am glad to think, have the general blessing of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, will now be carried into effect. As the Committee also knows, discussions are to be opened in Jamaica before long, under the presidency of my right hon. Friend, for closer association in the West Indies. This also is a subject which has been discussed for a very long period, and, therefore, we can claim no originality for the idea; but we certainly hope that we shall be able to achieve—if not finality—at any rate, we hope to bring it somewhat nearer to finality at this conference.
Then there is Malaya, where, also, His Majesty's Government have sought to achieve a closer degree of integration between the various States and the Settlements. This is in line, as I have said, with previous policy. I do not propose to discuss the constitutional questions, for the same self-denying reason as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the Committee—that there may be a Debate on this subject later. But various other questions have been raised in regard to Malaya, with which it would, perhaps, be convenient for me to deal. Anyone who has been to Malaya—and it was my own good fortune to spend some little time there on the way back from the South Pacific Conference early this year—must realise that the fundamental problem in Malaya today is food. And food in Malaya means rice.
There would, I think, be no disagreement among hon. Members who have any experience of Malaya. I confess very readily that the rice ration in Malaya today is not one with which we can feel any satisfaction; it is, in fact, only about one-third of the quantity which is considered satisfactory. But when we come to considering means of increasing the 370 rice ration, it is not so easy to see a solution. The hon. Baronet the Member for Eddisbury (Sir J. Barlow) and other hon. Members have asserted that there are large quantities of rice available in Siam, but I wish they could prove to us that that is the case, and show us some means of getting at this rice which is alleged to exist. I can assure the Committee that we have gone very carefully indeed into the question of the availability of rice in Siam. It may very well be the case that statistics are imperfect, and that quantities of rice are going in one direction or another about which we do not know, but to the best of our information there are only 400,000 tons surplus to local requirements in Siam which compares with 1,400,000 tons surplus before the war. The fundamental problem is one to which I shall recur later in my remarks if I have time; that is to say, the population of the world—especially that part of the world—has been increasing a great deal, and also the standards demanded are rising, as we should hope they would.
The allegation has been made that there are too many governors in South-East Asia. Perhaps it is convenient for me to deal with that while I am on the subject of Malaya. At the end of the war it was essential that Malaya and Singapore should have their separate governors, or no constitutional progress could have been achieved. Likewise, a governor of Sarawak was inevitable, and also a governor for the chartered company territory in North Borneo. A Governor-General became necessary for the proper correlation of these British territories, and everybody who has been out there recognises the excellent work that the Governor-General, Mr. Malcolm Macdonald, has done. But obviously these arrangements, although necessary for the time being, are of a transitional character. The special international problems of South-East Asia, and the food problem in particular, also call for special treatment, and Lord Killearn undertook this work, but it was never conceived as a permanent arrangement. Right hon. and hon. Members may, therefore, expect that in the course of time there will be some other arrangements which will, I hope, give them satisfaction.
Mr. Ivor Thomas
I could not say this evening how soon it will be. The senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) referred to trade unionism in Malaya, and appeared to think that I might disagree seriously with what he was saying. I can assure him that that is not the case. It is the desire of His Majesty's Government to encourage trade unionism—by which I mean genuine trade unionism—throughout the Colonial Empire, and we have taken many steps in that direction. Trade union advisers have been sent out from this country, and arrangements are being made for Malayans to come to this country to study trade unionism. It is undeniably the case that in the unsettled condition of Malaya, which suffered severely from the war, there has been a great deal of violence, a great deal of intimidation, and a great deal of what is not genuine trade unionism passing under the name of trade unionism. It is certainly the case that the Communist party in Malaya is very strong, as he alleged, and its influence has not always been in a beneficial direction. I do not, therefore, seriously contest what he said. Various measures have been taken by the Government of Singapore and the Government of the Malayan Union to deal with these labour problems. For example, trade unions in Singapore are now required to register, and trade unions in the Malayan Union may apply for registration. This is not at all unwelcome to genuine trade unionists, and it does afford some check on the kind of things which the hon. Member has in mind. The wearing of uniforms and drilling have also been prohibited, and the power of banishment has been revived.
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
Is that the policy in the other colonies, and will the public relation officers of the colonial Governments concerned try to bring to the notice of the public cases of intimidation as and when they are proved?
Mr. Ivor Thomas
The conditions in Malaya are very special. As I have said, Malaya was over-run by the war. I should not like to make a general statement on that subject. The hon. Baronet the Member for Eddisbury referred to piracy in Penang and thieving in Malayan ports. There was a certain amount of piracy and thieving, but I am happy to say that information from the Governor in May showed a considerable 372 decrease, and the position is now very much better.
Another general development, to which I should like to draw attention in this logical order I am trying to follow is the general advance towards self-government in our Colonial territories. This is not an idea for which we should claim any originality. It has long been accepted British policy to lead the Colonies towards full self-government within the British Commonwealth. I was a little surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, strongly supported by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), assert, if I have taken down his words correctly that the last two years might be described as two years of lull in comparison with the advances of the previous administration.
Mr. Ivor Thomas
I can understand that sentiment, but I cannot accept it "approvingly." I should have thought it was the other way round, without any desire to belittle the great catalogue of achievement which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedford read out—and it is a great catalogue of achievement. I should have thought that the tempo of this movement had been accelerated in the past two years. My best test is the extent to which the legal department of the Colonial Office is overworked at the present time. There are something like 20 constitutions being revised, and we have had to create a queue for the assistance of the legal adviser because we dare not make a mistake on these legal questions. Although I do not claim any originality for this idea, which is platitudinous in British colonial policy, I do say that we have pursued this advance towards self-government in a manner which has not been seen before in the history of the Colonial Empire.
Two general points were raised in connection with this question, one by my hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest), who asked for an association of local inhabitants with the Government, and, in particular, suggested a conference of unofficials. I think he must have overlooked the statement made by my right hon. Friend, earlier today, when he announced that the question of a conference of unofficial members in London had received 373 careful consideration. The real value of such a conference depends on the problems of the separate regions. Unofficial representatives of the West Indian Legislatures are coming together in the Caribbean Conference in September to discuss their problems and, in particular, federation or closer association. But the moment is not ripe for a conference of unofficials from South- East Asia, as all who have accepted what I said just now will acknowledge. The Mediterranean territories have special individual problems. In the case of Africa my right hon. Friend announced not only a conference of African Governors in London, in September, but, in the early summer of next year, a conference of unofficials from the African Legislative Councils to deal with political, social, and economic problems.
This leads me to another matter, the question of indirect rule raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard). This is, indeed, one of the most important questions in the Colonial field at present. I think we should all agree that at the time it was introduced indirect rule was definitely the best line of progress. It was democratic in the best sense of the word at that time, and it was also convenient, but I think that the time has probably come now when We ought to review this whole question. I am not suggesting any conclusions, because we have not yet begun the studies that are necessary, but this will certainly be one of the major questions to be discussed at the conference of African Governors and unofficials next year.
I should like to pass, under this general heading of the advance towards self-government, to certain territories that have been mentioned. In the first place, I must put Ceylon. My right hon. Friend has said that the advance of Ceylon to fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth—which he defined a little more precisely today—is one of the most notable events in the history of the British Colonial Empire. In many ways it is a model of development. I am sure that the Committee would wish me to pay a tribute to our Second Clerk Assistant, Major Fellowes, from whose good advice most of us have benefited at one time or another, and who was good enough to go to Ceylon to give advice on Parliamentary procedure. I think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol did not appreciate 374 that the new constitution has actually come into operation, that the elections are now taking place under it, and that the new Government is about to be set up under that new constitution. It is now proposed, when the new Government is established, to negotiate with that Government—before fully responsible status is granted—agreements on a number of matters. Subsequently, a Bill will have to be considered by Parliament designed to confirm the new status and responsibility.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley
When the hon. Gentleman said the new constitution, I take it that he means the constitution announced a year ago, not the modification announced in the last few weeks, will be dependent on these treaties being negotiated?
Mr. Ivor Thomas
It would perhaps be less ambiguous if I said instead of the "new constitution" the "Soulbury constitution." The Government that will come into office as a result of the elections now taking place will be under the Soulbury constitution. It is therefore not quite the case that the constitution will be still-born; it will have a short lease of life.
The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. Rees-Williams) invited a statement about Hong Kong. Considerable progress has been made in introducing a stable regime in Hong Kong; indeed it is a place of refuge to which thousands of Chinese flock every week, imposing on our own services severe burdens. We have shaped a more democratic constitution, including a municipality, appointed a trade union adviser and a political adviser, studied the future of the university, prepared our ten-year programme for social and economic growth, and taken all the necessary steps to obtain stability and a feeling of security for all private and commercial interests. It is our intention to enhance the reputation of Hong Kong as a first-class Colony and for the administration to hold high the best traditions of Great Britain.
The hon. Member for Preston (Dr. Segal) raised the question of Nigeria in his remarks, which I was very sorry he had to curtail owing to lack of time. He mentioned that the elected members for Lagc3 had not taken their seats. I would suggest to him and, indeed, to them, if my words should reach so far, that the 375 present constitution in Nigeria is a very great advance on anything that Nigeria possessed before, and those who desire to see Nigeria advance along this road towards self-Government should not boycott the Legislative Assembly, but take their place and do their best to make it a success. Many of us, from time to time, feel dissatisfied with the bodies with which we have to work, but we know that the method is not to boycott them, but to take our full part in their work, and try to shape them nearer to our heart's desire. I have been dealing in the last few minutes with the general advance towards self-Government in the Colonies.
Mr. Ivor Thomas
I will come to that. We must point out, as, indeed, other hon. Gentlemen have done, that this advance towards self-Government demands a concurrent advance socially, educationally and economically. It is necessary to advance along the whole front at once or the campaign will not be won. There have been many advances socially, and, in a sentence, I should like to make mention of five new conventions applicable to non-metropolitan territories which have just been approved by the International Labour Conference, and which are satisfactory to the United Kingdom and, indeed, in whose shaping we have played a very great part.
I will accept the invitation to make some reference to tuberculosis as desired by my hon. Friend the Member for Hey-wood and Radcliffe (Mr. Anthony Greenwood). The way to treat such diseases as tuberculosis is by what is called social medicine. I am not a medical man, but I imagine that there is a great fund of knowledge already about the nature of tuberculosis, and what is needed in the Colonies are preventive measures. We are taking those measures by spending large sums of money on the development of housing, the securing of pure supplies of water and so on. We believe that it is in this manner we shall be able to tackle the great problem of tuberculosis, to which he so properly drew attention. It is for such reasons as this that he will find so little in print about tuberculosis, but the importance we attach to this subject must not be measured by the paragraph or two which it receives in the 376 published documents. I think his speech was a very thoughtful and helpful contribution.
It self-government is to be achieved, there must also be a great advance educationally, because it is a commonplace that one of the worst misfortunes is an uneducated democracy. Education and democracy must go hand in hand and here again there must be advances along the whole front. There' is a tendency to talk about universities because they are more spectacular and more easily talked about and because more is known of them, but there have been in recent years very great developments from the bush schools right up to the universities. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol appeared to suggest that there was little going on but missions, commissions and conferences.
Mr. Ivor Thomas
Yes, in the field of higher education. With his great experience as an administrator he would, I am sure, not belittle the necessity for these missions, commission and conferences. The setting up and bringing into effective operation of the machinery of the Inter Univerity Council for Higher Education in the Colonies and the Colonial University Grants Advisory Committee has been in itself a major piece of work. The missions to West Africa, East Africa, the West Indies and Malaya have been an essential part of the machinery of planning for which distinguished university men and women from this country have been prepared to devote their time. The setting up of university colleges cannot go ahead without these missions, but I should like to point out that more progress has been made with bricks and mortar and staff than the right hon. Gentleman would apparently be prepared to admit.
§ Mr. Stanley
My point was that there was no reference in the Report to anything that has been done nor was there in the speech of the Colonial Secretary. All I did was ask a question for information.
Mr. Ivor Thomas
I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman's intervention and to supply such information as I can. So far as staff are concerned, the following persons have been appointed as principals: Dr. Taylor, West Indies; Dr. Mellanby, Nigeria; Dr. Allan, Malaya; 377 Dr. Lamont, Makerere. Other distinguished staff in the West Indies are: Mr. Sherlock, a distinguished Jamaican, as director of extra-mural studies, and Mr. Bernard Williams as Dean of the Medical School. As regards buildings, in some cases new buildings are not necessary, because in Singapore, for instance, it is a question of taking over the Medical College and Raffles College and making a university out of them. A grant of £300,000 has been provided for Makerere from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote mainly for this purpose, together with grants totalling £150,000 from the East African Governments for capital purposes. I could give more details, but I see the clock is out-racing me.
It was promised that I would have some remarks to make about mass education, and, therefore, I must fulfil that promise. I fear that some hon. Members may have gained the impression that I was to make some momentous statement. It was simply that my right hon. Friend had no time in his speech to say anything on the subject and he has asked me to say that the Advisory Committee for Education in the Colonies has been pursuing this subject, which it originated, and has prepared a report making concrete suggestions to the African Colonies. This report has now been sent out to the African Colonies. Some mass education officers have been appointed in the Gold Coast and in Tanganyika, and team units are working in many territories in such matters as health, welfare, labour and agriculture; and in the Gold Coast there are 12 rural teams at work. The British Council is co-operating by providing literature in most Colonies, and so is the Central Office of Information, which has helped in such productions as the magazine "Today." Extra-mural work is going on in the West Indies, as I have indicated by my reference to Dr. Sherlock's appointment, and the Oxford University Board of Extra Mural Studies is also helping very considerably in West Africa. Most interesting experiments in midwifery are going on in Sierra Leone and numerous schemes are in progress for increasing literacy. Journalists are being invited to come to London to study methods here.
I come now very briefly to the economic development which, as one hon. Member 378 has so rightly emphasised, must be the foundation of any true self-government.
§ Squadron-Leader Donner rose——
§ Squadron-Leader Donner
Are we. not to have an answer to the point I raised both today and a year ago?
Mr. Ivor Thomas
I beg the hon. and gallant Gentleman's pardon. He now reminds me that he raised the matter last year, and I appreciate very much the point that he made about the necessity of safeguarding against a yellow Press and pornographic literature. He will realise, however, that he came perilously near to suggesting that we should attempt to control the Press. With regard to his practical suggestion of more paper for missionary societies, we are working in the closest association with those bodies and if he will get in touch with me I will do my best, subject to other requirements, to see what can be done about it. Recent economic developments are really so radical that they may be justifiably regarded as a new departure for which this Government can take credit. At least, I will not claim credit for this myself because I think there is a better witness I can quote. The "Daily Express" of 26th June had an article whose invigorating language is a tonic to read. It says:Turn from Europe, where the victors squabble over heaps of rubble to the Empire, where the Socialist Government announces its vast £100,000,000 scheme of development amid the waste lands. Breathe that ampler air. Refresh your eyes with that happier scene. For a while, turn your gaze from the spectacle of despair to a landscape bright with hope and destined before long to be busy with constructive energy. All this might have been planned and accomplished by the Tories. But they would not listen to sound counsel. They were too busy—or too timorous. And where the Tories were idle and neglectful, the Socialists have snatched the policy from them.However, I desire to make no party point in this matter. The great task of Colonial development now in hand is one in which we can all legitimately take pride. Not only this Parliament, but the whole nation can take pride in this work.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, THE CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again tomorrow.