§ 12 noon.
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
I do not propose to detain the House long this morning as I want to make only a few general remarks on some aspects of the administration of Malaya. It is a country which we all realise in this House is of extreme importance and significance to us, not only because it earns so many dollars, but also because we are under an obligation to bring it to a state where it will be ready to govern itself and take its part, we hope, in the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The first question on which I would like some information from the Under-Secretary of State is how the general battle against the Communist bandits is going today, and whether my hon. Friend is yet in a position to give to the House any forecast of the length of time he feels it will take to eliminate this threat to communications and to the life and well being of Malaya. In other words, when will the Communist menace be reduced to perhaps the occasional shooting incident instead of the great scale on which it is at present?
Going on from there, I should like to know what security steps it is proposed to take in Malaya for the future. Assuming 2475 that the internal Communist menace is dealt with fairly soon, what steps are to be taken to guard Malaya against infiltration from outside, which may easily come from China under certain circumstances? It is widely believed in Malaya that a much larger police force will be required to guard against this infiltration than the country has supported before, and the cost of such a force may well be beyond the means of Malaya. If that is the case, what proposals have His Majesty's Government to make to assist in the payment for that police force?
Those are questions dealing with the problem of Communism on the negative side. This morning I want to deal particularly with tackling Communism on the positive side; in other words, making such progress in social reforms and in the promotion of the welfare of the people, and in giving them their full part in the life and control of their own country, that the attraction of Communism will thereby be greatly diminished. It seems to me that once the Communists cease lighting in the jungles, they will come right into civilian life again and will seek once more to take part in the movement to capture the trade unions and to carry out other forms of political activity and sabotage against governmental authority. Of course, one can always shoot Communists if one can get the arms and the men into the right places at the right time, but one cannot shoot Communism. One can only deal with that by putting in its place some form of machinery which is a sufficient answer to it.
The trade union movement is the major key to providing a bulwark against Communism in Malaya, and it is of vital importance that, when the Communists give up the shooting war, they should find that the trade union movement is strong and democratic and sufficiently well able to look after itself not to be captured so easily by them as it was before the outbreak of violence. Those who have read the report made by one hon. Member of this House, and by Mr. Dailey, on the trade union movement in Malaya, will realise that previously the Communists established control over the trade union movement by means of terror. It is important that they should not be allowed to do so again. So it is important that we 2476 should have in being a strong, sound, sober, democratic trade union movement, which is recognised and respected by all concerned, employers and Government, when the Communists give up the shooting war in Malaya.
I feel that this need is not sufficiently well realised by the Government officials in that country. To many of them, trade unionism is an unfamiliar concept. They have been long out of England and they are not familiar with how trade unions work and what their requirements are, and they do not pay sufficient attention to the problem. Intellectually they understand that trade unions are an important part of the democratic life of a country, but they do not understand that emotionally. All the time I was in Malaya, I was receiving complaints from trade union leaders and officials to the effect that their work in building up their trade unions was being frustrated. For instance, the Teachers' Union—not a union of red Communists but of sober, middle-class people—was refused registration for nearly two years because it did not meet in some minor respect the regulations—regulations which could have been waived. It was not until slightly unorthodox action in high quarters was taken that this union was registered. To delay the registration of a trade union for two years is to frustrate the hopes and aspirations of the people trying to build it up, and that should not be tolerated.
Again, the Telephone Operators' Union has been trying to make demands for increased wages for over a year. Maybe those demands are not justified, but at least the union is entitled to have an answer, which it has not had. If a Government Department deals with trade unions in such a summary way, how can they expect employers to take trade unions seriously? Again, the Army Civil Service Union has had 24 demands outstanding for two years. Many of them, I have no doubt, are quite unreasonable hut, nevertheless, they have never had the matter cleared up; the only thing they have secured by long struggle over the past year is a recognition of their trade union.
One could go on for a long time on that matter, and I want to hear from the Under-Secretary what he is doing to impress upon the officials in Malaya the vital importance of encouraging, emotionally 2477 as well as intellectually, the growth of an active and democratic trade union movement in Malaya. I hope also that my hon. Friend will impress upon the officials that there are two ways of interpreting regulations: one is to interpret them favourably to the cause in hand, the other is to interpret them unfavourably; and there has been far too much unfavourable interpretation of the regulations up to now.
It is also of great importance that we should show the people in Malaya that we have on hand considerable projects of social reform and betterment for the people. There have been few, if any, of these since the end of the war. For instance, there is a great need to grow more food there. Rice is now seven times the price it was before the war, and the rice ration is about half of what was eaten before the war. So it is important that substantial schemes should be put in hand, and shown to be put in hand, for growing more food internally.
Again, the people of Malaya feel rather bitterly that their economic life is controlled from London to a large extent. The markets of the two main commodities, rubber and tin, are controlled primarily in London. If either of these commodities goes wrong in the world market—and they can do so easily, for rubber is always in a perilous position with synthetic rubber being developed to the extent it is in America—they feel that they will be at the mercy of world conditions to which they cannot stand up for a moment. Very little effort has been made in Malaya to try to grow alternative crops on the rubber plantations. I think that an experiment is now on foot to grow cocoa; that is a good idea, but it needs to be pressed forward very much harder. I believe that there are, in addition, a number of other things which could be grown on rubber plantations, but so far very much greater progress in this direction has been made in Indonesia than in Malaya.
The people of Malaya are entitled to know that this is the sort of activity that we intend to develop. Even at the risk of some initial loss of efficiency, we should try to promote secondary industries in Malaya so that its people do not feel they are altogether a one- or two-commodity country but have other things besides. I am well aware that markets for, say, the assembly of motor cars in 2478 Singapore are not very large, but in the long run it is desirable psychologically and politically to develop such projects rather than to ignore them completely and have to deal with subsequent bitterness.
I pass now to a completely different subject. There is a tremendous demand in all sections of the community to learn and to study English. English is not only the language spoken in this country but it is rapidly becoming the main language of the world; and there is a very natural and understandable wish on the part of Malays and Chinese, who wish to learn about the new technical advance, and so forth of the West, to learn English. There is not a single training college for teachers in English in the whole of Malaya, yet plenty of people are willing and anxious to take on the job and very many more are anxious to be taught the English language. I feel that something might have been done in this way in the four years since the end of the war. I hope to hear from the Colonial Secretary that something is being done and that greater educational facilities in Malaya are being provided.
§ Mr. Skinnard (Harrow, East)
Is the hon. Member suggesting training colleges solely for turning out teachers of English? That is contrary to all the laws of educational practice. Training colleges should train teachers not only to teach in English but in all other educational subjects as well.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I am not anxious to restrict the existing practice; but there is not, in fact, any possibility whatever of getting instruction in teaching English, so I am told, in Malaya. This is a matter I should like to see looked at. I was somewhat disturbed when recently I asked a Question of the Colonial Office:in what ways educational facilities in Malaya and Singapore have been increased since the end of the war.I got this answer:I am collecting this information and will write to my hon. Friend."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st June, 1949; Vol. 465, c. 156.]Surely, if the Colonial Office had been taking an active interest in this matter and really had been seeing that educational facilities were being improved, they would not need to write to Malaya to find out what was being done; instead, they could have assured me that a tremendous amount had already been done and that further details would be 2479 forthcoming later. But all I got was the blank cold answer that the information was being collected and, apparently, was not available in the Colonial Office. I consider that such a state of affairs is somewhat alarming.
Another matter—of more considerable psychological importance, perhaps, than anything else—is the whole question of non-Europeans in the administrative services of Malaya and Singapore. In May, 1946—three years ago—the Colonial Office issued a White Paper (Cmd. 197) in which they said:If progressive advancement along the road to self-government within the framework of the British Commonwealth of Nations is to be a reality, the public services of the Colonies must to the greatest possible extent he staffed by local people.That is an admirable and proper sentiment, and was welcomed throughout the whole of the Colonial Empire; it certainly was welcomed in Malaya. But when I was there they said to me, "This statement was made three years ago but what has happened since? Absolutely nothing." There may have been, at the most, one or two promotions of non-Europeans; there have been extremely few, if any, direct entrants into the Civil Service from local inhabitants. All we can assume is that this statement from the Colonial Office was in the nature of eyewash, for nothing whatever appears to have been done to implement it. If that state of affairs continues there is bound to be increasing dissatisfaction among the Chinese and Malays, who are well able to do these jobs but are prevented from doing them.
To illustrate the sort of thing that happens, let me quote the case of a Chinese girl in Radio Malaya. Her superior recommended her for promotion to a higher grade, a grade not normally occupied by non-Europeans. After a long time there came the answer that she could not be promoted because she had a degree in only one subject. That reason was nothing but farcical, for the man who had recommended her for promotion also had a degree in only one subject, as is a very common occurrence. To bar a person in the Civil Service for that reason is too ludicrous for words.
Let me give another illustration. For some time the Malayan and Chinese doctors have been waging a war to get 2480 themselves treated on the same footing as Europeans. After a very long time the Colonial Office has at last made proposals for a unified Colonial medical service in the Straits; to set up only one service, so that both Europeans and non-Europeans will have the same status and be judged differently only according to their different qualities and capabilities. This is a most welcome advance, but it is to take effect only for new entrants. The old order, apparently, is to be maintained to a large extent for existing members, and there is to be a most peculiar system of parallel seniority lists running in hospitals, so that non-Europeans will be in one list and the Europeans in another. I should not mind guessing which lot achieve more rapid promotion than the other, and this is exactly the feeling of the non-European doctors. If these services are to be unified, it should be done completely and made to apply to people already serving.
Many people in Malaya rightly believe that local inhabitants are not as competent or efficient as Europeans for jobs in the Civil Service; I accept that completely. But if we are really sincere—and we are sincere—in maintaining that Malaya shall be self-governing, we must accept the proposition that when it becomes self-governing, the administration will for a time be less efficient than when it was ruled absolutely by the British; that is bound to be so. One must accept the principle that the greater the control by local inhabitants in some of these places, the more will efficiency suffer at the outset. We must gear ourselves down deliberately to that point. It is no good for the highly efficient and competent British officials to say "We really cannot promote so and so, even though they are Malays or Chinese, because the efficiency of the Department will suffer." We must accept the proposition that for a time the efficiency of the Department may suffer. The principle is much more important than the immediate efficiency of that Department and that is that wherever possible, the country should be governed and administered by its own inhabitants and not by us.
To show how litttle has been done in this respect, or to try to find out how much has been done, I asked a series of Questions of the Colonial Office not very long ago to find out how many Malays 2481 and Chinese held higher administrative posts in Singapore and Malaya. Of course, no Chinese can be in the Malayan Civil Service; that is because the consent of the Sultans has not yet been obtained to their admission into the Service. This is a very complicated subject with which I shall not attempt to deal now because of the shortness of time. Yet it is quite possible for the Chinese to be in the Colonial administrative service in Singapore, and quite a few of them are. But when I asked how many of them were in grades equivalent to 1B and 1A in the Malayan Civil Service and in staff appointments or were staff officers, the answer was "None." Those four grades are the top grades. There are quite a number of people in them, but none of them are non-Europeans. It is all very well for people to make charming statements in Command Papers saying that we must get the public services of the Colonies staffed to the greatest possible extent by local inhabitants, but when we look at the important posts we find that not a single one is so staffed, three years after that statement was made. The same applies to the question of higher grades in Malaya.
There is considerable local feeling on the point. The Under-Secretary was quite wrong when he assured me that there was no considerable feeling in Singapore. He must have read the Report of the Select Committee recently issued in Singapore, a copy of which has been sent to his office. The local inhabitants who sat on the Committee explained their resentment and irritation at the fact that they have very little control or say in the staffing of these local posts. The main point in the Report, which I hope the Colonial Office will do their best to implement, is that a Public Service Commission should be set up to supervise the filling of all the posts in the Colonies to ensure that regard is paid to local feeling in this respect. I fear that unless we have very much more vigorous action to promote non-Europeans in the Civil Service in Malaya and to encourage their direct entry into the Civil Service, we shall create a great deal of unnecessary frustration among these people who are willing and anxious to be our friends.
Another matter springs from the same tree. It is the general approach to political matters by the administrative service 2482 in Malaya. New constitutions are operating in Malaya and Singapore. Both are quite good on paper, but it is the way in which they are actually operated which really counts. Unfortunately, it so happens that all the people in charge are officials, and officials are not politically-minded people. They do not recognise a political situation when they see one.
There was an incident last November when the officials rather brusquely turned down a demand by non-official trade union members for a committee to examine the possibilities of social security. The officials were quite right in saying that there was no money, but they should not have turned down the possibility of a committee of all concerned who could consider the pros and cons. This was brusquely turned down, but that would not have been done by politicians. It would not have been done by the more enlightened hon. Members opposite, if they were in control. The proposal was a spontaneous attempt to learn more about the welfare and government of the country. These high officials ought to be ex-trade unionists or ex-businessmen with a wider experience of life than the normal officials have, or, alternatively, there must be appointed to each governor a political adviser who would be able to point out the political implications of administrative action in time, before frustration was created. I hope we shall hear something from the Colonial Secretary on that point.
In Malaya we have a great opportunity to build up trust, confidence and friendship and to keep the country in the Commonwealth, if only we act now and show that we are determined to see that they get control of their own country rapidly and that we are prepared to put quite a lot of effort into promoting schemes of social betterment for them.
§ 12.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
I must apologise to the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) for not being here in time to hear all his speech, but I was unable to overcome the traffic block outside. I think I have been able to catch his theme song fairly well from the latter part of his speech.
I do not think there will be very much difference between us on matters of principle, but the difference is entirely on matters of degree. He made rather an 2483 astonishing statement—I hope I am not misrepresenting him—when he said that the principle is more important than the actual efficiency for some time to come. If one takes Malaya as it is today, that was an astonishing statement to make. If we stick so keenly to principle and the immediate application of principle after it has been passed by this House and have not sufficient regard to the local situation, we may frustrate exactly the end we are trying to attain.
There is not the slightest doubt that in Malaya at the moment the greatest possible difficulties prevail. Apart from the question of the bandits, which I think is gradually being got in hand, an economic blizzard is blowing over Malaya which makes the situation very difficult. I think the hon. Member will be able to find more ex-businessmen than he thinks, because a great many people will be put out of business fairly soon by local conditions. To have no regard to that and to the budgetary and monetary situation of Malaya, and to look on the present as being exactly the moment at which we should, by a process of duplication, or even triplication, enormously increase the services to be provided, is to show a total disregard of the realities of the situation. Not only is the disastrous fall in the price of rubber, largely due to the increased impact of new and very much better synthetic rubber, having a great effect there, so that production costs are about the same as the selling price and sometimes very much higher, but the situation in regard to tin, the other great mainstay, is not too good.
Anyone who looks at the budgets of Singapore and of the Federation will see that there is very little in the pool. This is a moment to have some regard to these facts and not to have an enormous expansionist policy. No one knows better than the hon. Member and myself the need for all the services there, but no one knows better than he—although he did not say so in his speech—that the possibility of what can be done is very much less than we would like. He said there was a great deal of local feeling about higher official posts. That may be so, but what of the local feeling there is likely to be, when the true effect of the economic situation begins to make itself felt?
2484 I would issue a note of warning and point out the enormous strain, in a country which is far from being quiet and settled yet, which the hon. Member would impose on the existing Civil Service. Not only have they to carry on a very difficult and intricate administration, which is daily becoming more difficult, but at the same time they have to undertake a considerable degree of education of the new people coming in. If we look into the Federation and see the set-up, we find that many of the officials go to the man who is ostensibly in control, the officer who does three times as much work as before, and he has to carry the added burden. I am not complaining of that; it is very healthy and natural; but we should make it clear that the Civil Service in Malaya is under very great strain and it may be very unwise to add very greatly to it.
I do not believe there is any real difference in what we all want to do, but it is a question of not spoiling things by trying to run before we can walk. The situation is very much the same in the Dutch East Indies where there are many Malays who are very much akin to these Malays, and when the situation alters in Malaya, they will begin to cast their eyes on Malaya to see what is happening in that country. At such a moment there should be a steady consolidation and a very gradual handing over of the mechanics of self-government from those who have carried the responsibility so well and brilliantly and with great devotion, before we start importing into that area an enormous flood of people who, on the hon. Member's own showing, need a very great deal of education.
As to the question which the hon. Member raised about political advisers for the Government, I would refer to the two Governors and the Special Commissioner. The Special Commissioner has probably had politically as much education as the right hon. Gentleman and myself, he having been a Member of this House longer than either of us.
§ Mr. Wyatt
Of course the Commissioner-General, for whom I have the highest regard and admiration, has had a great deal of political experience. What I was talking about were day-to-day routine matters which have political implications, and which the Commissioner-General cannot possibly supervise, as they affect local questions. My view is that 2485 there should be the possibility of advice being available from a political adviser to point out in time, to the Governor concerned the political implications.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am obliged to the hon. Member for his intervention; he has now provided me with something on which I can differ from him fundamentally. It is totally wrong to think that the routine work that goes on in the Governor's office or in similar offices has to be considered from the point of view of its political implications. The more politics are kept out the better. The importation of a political angle is only required on a very few occasions. If there are to be political advisers whose job is to advise and who want to advise that "the political implications of this have to be thought out," administration will be slowed down. Administration must be separated from politics as far as possible. There are already sufficient politicians in Malaya. I do not think it wise to try to judge matters of routine administration from the point of view of their political implications except in a very small number of questions, and when that consideration is required there already exists in the wisdom of Governors, the Special Commissioner and high officials, quite a sufficient fund of political knowledge and wisdom to deal with such questions without any more appointments of special political advisers being required.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish deliberately to misunderstand me, but we are certainly at cross purposes. I was talking about political situations in their wider aspects. I am not suggesting the importing of a political angle but the pointing out of the political consequences of an action which might not otherwise be noticed by the Governor.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I must differ from the hon. Member in putting forward my view, which is that Governors, their high officials and advisers, colonial secretaries and economic advisers, never lose sight of possible political implications and that the higher ranks and their advisers are at present very well equipped without importing any special new appointments of the kind to which the hon. Member has referred.
Let us be careful at this juncture, when troubles in the Far East are flowing West 2486 from China and elsewhere, when the Indonesian and the Burmese situation has not yet settled down. Let us proceed step by step, agreeing in principle, but realising that exactly the opposite of what the hon. Member said is true—that there are a great many occasions when efficiency is more important than principle and when a steady control by experienced men will often keep in hand a situation which would easily get out of hand if less experienced men, however well meaning they might be, were put in charge.
§ 12.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I, too, wish to apologise for not having been able to be here when my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) began his speech. Since so much of the time allotted for this Debate has already been occupied, I shall speak for only a few minutes. I listened, as we all do, with great interest to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) because we know of his vast experience of these problems. There will not be on this occasion much fundamental disagreement on my side. I would point out what I believe to be an important factor. Before an administrative system can be made to work smoothly in the situation which at present exists in South East Asia, I, like the hon. Member for Bury, believe that we must take into account the volcanic situation which now exists in the whole of South East Asia. Much can be done from Whitehall. I deprecate the 16 months' delay that took place after negotiations originated in Malaya before the 100 million dollar loan was really considered. I believe that that delay caused much complaint in Malaya and in a way contributed to the setting back of some of our administrative advance.
In the time at my disposal I have not the opportunity to deal with some of the social problems, but I believe that one of the fundamental problems which needs to be faced in Malaya is housing and slum clearance. Some of this loan should be allocated to dealing with that problem as soon as possible. I would refer to one other economic point upon which the hon. Member for Bury lightly touched—the tin problem. He knows as well as I do that Mr. E. M. F. Ferguson pointed out, in his address to the shareholders, that so far as the tin smelting industry in Malaya was concerned, there were forces at work outside the control 2487 of this House, and that there was a danger, due to subsidised American ore being taken to Texas, that the entire 60 years' tin industry in Malaya might be undermined.
I believe that the situation in Malaya has reached a point at which it is already possible for the Government to look towards some kind of amnesty and some kind of negotiations in Malaya to bring the present situation to an end. If we do not do so, it is ridiculous to talk of smooth administrative control or of building up the economy of Malaya. I beg the Secretary of State to use all his good offices at once to look into this Malayan situation so that we can gradually approach the day when an amnesty can be granted or negotiations can take place. If that is done, we shall have peace; if we do not do that, we shall run the risk, as has already been pointed out, looking at what is taking place in Viet Nam and Indonesia, of reaching a situation which will destroy the entire set-up of Malaya as we understand it.
§ Mr. Davies
I raised this question in the House many months ago. The Government know as well as I do the people who can be approached. May I qualify my statement a little and say that I believe it would be possible to put out feelers for negotiations at the present moment, and that that should be done rather than that we should have the continued destruction of our wealth and an appeal to this House for another £5 million loan to meet the cost of the Imperial Forces in Malaya in 1948–49?
§ 12.38 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
I am obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) for raising this problem of Malayan administration. I would point out, however, that we hope to publish, in the space of a week or so, a review of the administrative problems of Malaya and a record of the work done over the last three or four years in order that the House may be in the possession of the fullest knowledge of the problems of the country and the background against which administration has to work, and be more conscious of the difficulty of solving the problems which have now to be solved.
2488 Colonial Ministers are often put in a difficulty when they have to carry responsibility for the details of administration and the actual application of policy to the House of Commons itself. We have been endeavouring for the past few years to devolve more and more responsibility in administration and financial control upon the colonial territories themselves, and to increase a sense of responsibility in the Legislative Councils and the Executive Advisory Councils to the Governments so that the degree of responsibility enjoyed may be real. Therefore, while the Colonial Minister is obliged to give an account of administration and the detailed application of policy in respect of the territories, he cannot be expected—nor should the House expect it of him when, to a great extent, apart from the broad lines of policy, the responsibility has been devolved upon the territory—to be able to justify and account for every detail of the machinery of government in the territories concerned.
Here I wish to pay a very warm tribute to the administration, both in Malaya and Singapore, for the quality of the work done under the greatest difficulties during the past two or three years. When one remembers the difficulties with which they were faced when the Japanese armies withdrew, when administration had to be restored, orderly government secured, police forces created, the reign of law established in the territory, and all the services reconstructed, then one can appreciate how tremendous was the task they had to tackle. When one looks at the territory today, one sees how well the work was done. Not only had they to restore something like orderly government in the country, but, at the same time, they had to reconstruct the whole constitutional life of the territory, create new political institutions, and try to bring together the various races which go to make up those territories into co-operation and goodwill in the working of the machinery of government. I suggest that all those facts, coupled with the tremendous economic recovery in the territory, justify my paying the highest possible tribute to those administrators and technical officers, and to the people of Malaya, for the work which has been so splendidly done.
I would further remind the House that during almost half of the period with 2489 which the administration has been occupied with this great work, there has been a revolt, a great degree of violence, and a Communist effort to overthrow the authority of Government, to create conditions of uncertainty and to break down the economic life of the territory.
It is against that background, I think, that one must judge the work which has been going on in Malaya for the last three or four years. When administrators and others are faced with difficulties of internal security, when there is an armed revolt, and when the security of the whole economic life of the country is endangered, then, obviously, Government becomes preoccupied with what are the basic problems of government—the maintenance of law and order in the territory. In such circumstances, it cannot be expected that they can give that detailed examination and attention to the important social and economic needs of the territory. Nevertheless, as I want to show, although the administration has been faced with these very grave problems, due to Communist violence, there is also a fine record of work in the social and economic field as well.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
While joining with the right hon. Gentleman in his praise of the administration, there is just one point—of some importance I think—which I would like to put to him. Should lie not also bring out the point that the fact that the territory was allowed to get into this state was, to some extent, due to a failure in the higher levels of local administration which should not be glossed over?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I am not prepared to admit that view. I do not want to argue it now, but I think that the administration in Malaya has been severely attacked, and that there is not too much justification for the view which the lion. Member has just expressed.
What I really want to emphasise is the fact that because there was a great deal of disorder and so much terrorism and widespread violence in the territory, it did obviously divert the administration from a great deal of the positive, constructive work which would normally have been done, and has hampered the development of political machinery, has created new difficulties as between one 2490 race and another, has intensified racial feeling, and has also diverted the flow of money which might have been available for reconstruction purposes, into the work of internal security and defence against the Communist threat. I accept to the full the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aston that it is no good trying to meet a Communist revolt in terms of negative action. It is not desirable that a policy of mere suppression should be pursued. Obviously, if there is the ground in which Communist doctrine can flourish, then something must be done on the constructive and positive side of government in order that the ground shall become more fertile for good work and good social growth.
In passing, therefore, perhaps I ought to say that we cannot state at this moment how long the bandits will carry on their terrorist acts. Extraordinary progress has been made in the past few months in dealing with these disturbances and uncertainties. I think it can be said that the progress is good, that the security authorities have the situation well in hand, and that we can look forward to the complete elimination of this trouble over a period which I hope will not be too protracted. In connection with this, a question was also raised about the maintenance of the police forces when the present trouble is over. Undoubtedly, the Malayan administration will have to maintain for quite a long time a force larger than that which was there when the disturbances began. During the disturbances, the existing forces have been completely reorganised, and I think that the internal security requirements will make it necessary for those forces to be larger than they were in 1946.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The problem of internal security and the financing of the necessary measures is fundamentally a matter for the Colonial Government themselves. That is a principle which has always been accepted as fundamental to the development of political freedom and to the development of the political life of the territory. If the tremendous financial demands are outside the capacity 2491 of the local Government, then, obviously, His Majesty's Government will look at any representations made to them with a view to discovering whether assistance is desirable, or can actually be given. On this point let me say that already His Majesty's Government have tried to meet some of the local needs during the past two or three years.
Under the Colonial Development and Welfare allocation, at least £5 million is made available for social and economic development. There will be another grant of £1,300,000 from the central fund under the 1945 Act. As the House has been informed, £20 million has been made available for war damage compensation and £5 million already contributed towards internal security. There have been other financial contributions of a substantial character. We have been mindful of the very difficult financial position into which local governments have been placed and we are trying to make it possible for their normal work to continue while they are coping with the grave uncertainties due to the violence of the bandits. It is no good any Government merely repressing rebellious action. One must build up a spirit of good will and co-operation among the public.
That brings me to certain of the points raised about education, the medical services and so on. First, I should like the House to recognise that the administrations have themselves been working on programmes of social and economic development on a 10-year basis. Many of the schemes which have been worked out have already started and in some cases substantial financial support has been forthcoming under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. I assure the House that in education there has been a remarkable recovery over the past few years. In 1948 the enrolment in all schools in the Federation was 512,000. That figure should be compared with the figure before the war, which was only 263,000. The number of schoolchildren enrolled is now double what it was before the war. The technical college enrolment has risen from 141,000 to 215,000. In Government and aided English schools the enrolment has risen from 32,000 to 81,000, and there is a wide network of teacher-training colleges which are now producing trained teachers. In September, 104 students passed the 2492 final and third year examination. We hope to have more teachers available in order to meet the demand in the schools.
I was surprised when my hon. Friend the Member for Aston said that there were no facilities for the learning of English. As I have already pointed out, the enrolment in the Government and aided English schools has risen to 81,253.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
There are teacher-training colleges. It surprises me to be told that in those training colleges English is not one of the subjects which has been taken, but that is a point about which I will make further inquiries. There is also a considerable amount of community work in the rural areas for betterment. The subjects include the growing of crops and instruction on the best methods. That work is expanding rapidly.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
There is one point about all these schemes. Is the right hon. Gentleman concentrating on spreading every form of education and social betterment, particularly in the country, because the defect so far has been the unbalance between rural and urban areas?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That is why I said that a great deal of rural development is in mind. We recognise the vital importance of keeping a balance as between urban and rural areas. In order that people for the professions and higher technical services should be made available for the country, we have been most anxious to get the foundations laid for a university college. Not only has Raffles College in Singapore started its work, but also the plans are now fairly well advanced for the establishment of a university.
I refer now to medical progress. Over the years we have been trying not only to restore some of the excellent health services which existed before the Japanese occupation, but to expand them in various ways. In 1947, which is the last year for which figures are available, 2,851,000 patients were treated by the travelling dispensaries which move about the countryside. A large number of the children in the rural and urban areas 2493 attend the child welfare clinics. Of the 480,000 school-children no fewer than 237,000 receive milk in the schools every day, and that is supplemented by cod liver oil, palm oil, and other foods. It is also significant to see the considerable drop in the death rate which was recorded at 16.8 per thousand in the first half of 1948. I believe that is the lowest ever recorded in Malaya. There are also new campaigns against malaria, and other steps are being taken to improve the health services.
I should like to meet the point raised by the hon. Member for Aston about the inadequacy of the information supplied to him in reply to a Question which he put to me last Wednesday. He asked for certain information about education, and, unfortunately in my anxiety that he should have the most up-to-date information in the fullest possible way, I thought it desirable not to give him out-of-date figures but to get fresh and vital information from the Governor. I have yet to learn that that course deserves the censure of my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
My hon. Friend also raised the question whether something more should not be done in respect of new industries. I will not go into the details of the efforts now being made to expand the production of food, the experimental work being carried on and new methods which are being tried. But I should like him to know that a number of new factories and industries are taking root in the territory as a result of the encouragement given that the economy should be much more diversified. I am told that there is a new cement plant, a glass manufacturing plant, a factory to produce dry batteries, a plant for the manufacture of plastics, and a pottery factory.
All these are new enterprises which have recently been started or are under consideration. Moreover, the Colonial Development Corporation have set up a subsidiary Corporation. It has its headquarters at Singapore, and they are considering at the moment some considerable projects in respect of fishery development, textile manufacture and housing development. I would make the point that we are conscious that this territory ought not to be exclusively dependent 2494 on rubber and tin. Not only ought we to encourage small production as well as large production with regard to the major projects, but we ought to introduce, so far as we can, smaller industries, and every encouragement is being given to that end by the local government.
This question has also been raised of the structure of the administration itself. I would like to commend the wise words which the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) said on this matter. I feel that his remarks are very relevant indeed to the problems which we have been considering this morning. What are the facts? It is quite true that the principle laid down three years ago is one which we wish to see applied in the services in Malaya. There is, of course—and everyone I think appreciates it—a very real difficulty because of the special position which has hitherto been taken in regard to the Malays and the anxiety of the Chinese also to play a more effective part, not only in the machinery of government but in the staffing of the technical and other services. That principle can only be applied with very great care. I think that things would have gone further if the preoccupation with the existing problems of violence and terrorism had not been there. It is not my purpose, because I have not the time, to describe the structure of government, and I would only say that I am in the completest sympathy with the objective which my hon. Friend has in mind. I think, as the hon. Member for Bury said, there is no difference in principle between us. It is a question of time and the using of wise discretion as to when certain of these things can be done.
May I add one word in regard to the administration itself. It is quite true that many of the persons engaged in the administration are tried servants of the pre-occupation period and undoubtedly many of them went through the most trying and terrifying experiences during that period. It may be that in some cases we cannot get quite that high quality of service which we would desire, but I think that on the whole we can congratulate ourselves that these men since they have resumed their duties have played a great part in getting the country back to something like normal conditions and in restoring the services on which the vital civil life depends.
2495 I hoped that I should have had time to say a word about trade unionism. I will only add that we are determined to do everything in our power to encourage a healthy trade union movement. We have demonstrated that desire by the whole series of steps which we have taken: by trying to get a Ministry of Labour official to occupy the important position of labour commissioner, by trying to get a registrar with an office staff of Asians, and by trying to get on the staff of the trade union adviser himself a group of experienced trade unionists who can help in the encouragement of a healthy movement. There have been a large number of other steps taken, and I feel that we are doing all that is humanly possible to get a virile, well-organised trade union movement which can protect and promote the interests of the people.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this matter, and I hope the House as a result of the report to be submitted to them in the course of a few weeks, will gain much greater knowledge with regard to these problems.