§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans
In conclusion, I want to refer to the wider question of the defence of the Commonwealth as a whole. Up to now we have given the Colonial peoples to understand, more by implication than by statement, that self-government had no strings attached to it whatsoever and that it implied the unchallengeable, right to leave the Commonwealth, whatever might have been the effect not only on themselves but on the Commonwealth as a whole. Today factors of security must be in our minds, and I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman, in his reference to Malaya, make it quite clear that in his mind self-government meant self-government within the Commonwealth. He has taken exactly the same attitude with regard to Cyprus, and in the recent declaration with regard to the plebiscite. It says in the Report:Since there was no question of any change in the sovereignty of the Island the issue on 1431 which the people of Cyprus were being asked to exercise a choice did not in fact exist.We should have no hesitation in saying that. The Americans have not in Hawaii, Porto Rico, in the bases in the British West Indies, the Panama Canal, and now in the Caroline Islands. We ought not to hesitate to say that some things are, for the time being, anyway, undiscussable subjects.
There is another reason for this. If we want the moderate elements in the Colonies to co-operate with us, we shall not get that co-operation if we let the impression grow up that we are about to leave the Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman himself made it quite clear—I think after his visit to Malaya—that almost everybody said one thing to him: "We are not worried about constitutions. We are not worried about trade unions. What we want to know is, are you going to get out?"
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I hope the hon. Gentleman is not saying that nobody discussed these other things with me, such as trade unions. A large number of people did.
§ Mr. Gammans
I should not like to say anybody did, but I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the impression he gave the Committee was that nearly everybody who addressed him while he was was there wanted to know whether we were going to stay in the country. If they know that we are, they will co-operate with us. If we are not, they will have to make the best terms they can with the Communists.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I only want to get it clear. The hon. Gentleman seems—if I am wrong I will withdraw at once—seems to be misrepresenting what I said. What I said has no relation to what he is saying now.
§ Mr. Gammans
I should not like to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. Let me put it in these words. I do not think I am misrepresenting him when I say that the enormous percentage of people in Malaya were anxious to know whether the British were going to leave Malaya or not. What the percentage was, I do not know. However, that was the impression I got from what the right hon. Gentleman said—and not only from what he said but from the local Press, also.
1432 We are today reading a Report which very largely deals with our successes, and we are all proud of them; but do not let us forget that we have had our failures. To my mind, the largest single failure in the British Colonial Empire is that we have very largely failed to carry the intellectuals with us. To that type of man the British connection has always been regarded, I am afraid, as something temporary, and, to a certain extent, it seemed to them to imply a status of inferiority. Our success or failure surely depends on our creating such a state of affairs as this, that a man from West Africa can get up and say, "I am a British subject," and mean the same thing and with the same pride as we when we say it ourselves. The King cannot have first-class and second-class subjects.
I think there are many reasons for this failure, perhaps. Perhaps it was colour consciousness both here and in the Colonies. I am glad to hear of what the right hon. Gentleman is doing for the colonial students here in London. There is no more important job today than to see that these young men and women who come over here should see the best of our way of life. They will not see the best of our British way of life at the wrong end of Tottenham Court Road. It may be the system of education itself. If we are going to see the British Empire continue, we must take account of our failures as well as our successes. One of the reasons, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington pointed out, is that we have given undue weight, I think, to the town dweller who could talk, while forgetting the peasant who did not know how to express his case.
Someone has said that the British had three Empires and that we are now making our fourth. What I think we have to learn today is that, as a result of Communism becoming a world force, as a result of the heady wine of nationalism, as a result of all the upheavals that have taken place in the world, the old ideas may no longer suffice; whether it be in the making of constitutions, the growth of trade unions, or the relations of the Colonies with each other, in defence and other things, I hope we shall never lack the courage to break new ground if and when it is necessary.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I think that all of us were glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that this is not the only occasion on which we shall be discussing this extremely wide and important problem of Colonial affairs. There has been a certain amount of adverse comment on this side of the Committee, and also among people concerned about Colonial affairs outside this Chamber, that this Debate on Colonial Affairs, the choice of the day for it lying with the Opposition, has now, I think for the fourth—I am certain that it is for the third and I think it is for the fourth—year in succession come on a day when many hon. Members have social duties elsewhere.
On this occasion it is not a Royal Command; but it has happened in previous years; and it may seem an unfortunate coincidence that the subject of Colonial affairs should, year after year, come up at a time when hon. Members have other preoccupations, and when some of them have their wives with them who also demand a little attention. It creates a slightly unfortunate impression among some of our Colonial friends.
§ Mrs. White
I am very glad that it did not come on the day of the Garden Party this year, but it has happened in previous years that this Debate has coincided with social occasions. Today, we have not a Royal Command, but we have an invitation from Mr. Speaker and his lady that many of us regard as being next only to a Royal Command.
In the few remarks I can make in the time which I intend to take up, I would take as my text a sentence in paragraph 56 of the Report, which says:In the ultimate issue the Commonwealth must stand or fall by the way its people feel about each other.I should like to emphasise the point already made by my right hon. Friend and by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), that we have a special and a most urgent duty towards the colonial students who are in 1434 this country. We have at present some 4,000 students, of whom approximately 1,500 are on public scholarships; the others are private students. That is a large number. They are here mostly for a very short period; some for one, some for two, and some for three years. The urgency of the problem is this: that when they return to their own countries, they will, of course, be regarded in some sense as leaders, and if they should go back feeling that they have in any way been treated in an unfriendly or unfair way in this country they will be potential disturbers of the peace out there—I do not mean in any sense of violence, but in the political and social climate out there.
I believe that many Members of this Committee will have read that interesting report of the National Union of Students which they undertook, in Manchester, on the conditions in which overseas students live. I very much hope that the National Union of Students will continue the work which they have started in Manchester, and extend their inquiries to other university centres, not only because I think it is a very important thing to focus attention on this problem of the social conditions in which students live, but also so that some misapprehensions in the minds of the overseas students themselves may be cleared up.
Some of the grievances which they have are not, in fact, necessarily peculiar to them, but apply to other students as well, and it is extremely important that they should not feel, every time they have some little slight, that it is necessarily based on race prejudice. For example, the Report speaks of the difficult question of lodgings and private landladies, and makes it clear, that difficulties in obtaining such lodgings in Manchester were not always due to racial prejudice. My right hon. Friend may be interested to know that certain landladies were quite prepared to take coloured students, but would not have Polish or Welsh students on any account.
I think there may be some advantage both ways if we throw a little more light on to these student problems in this country. I am glad to say that, from such inquiries as I have made, the change of responsibility from the Colonial Office to the British Council for the immediate administration of student welfare seems 1435 on the whole to be a success. As far as I can learn, there have been definite improvements. I am extremely glad to know that in London the new university hostel is to have a proportion of our own students living with the overseas students, some of whom will themselves ultimately, we hope, be joining the Colonial Service. They will therefore have an opportunity here in this country of making friends with many of the African and other people with whom they may later work.
There is another aspect I should like to stress, if I may. I do not, as a rule, make feminist remarks, but I strongly feel that we must pay considerable attention to the education of women, because I am certain that some at least of the social difficulties—and they are considerable—in the Colonial territories are due to the fact that we are educating the men and changing their mental outlook in many ways, sometimes very rapidly, while the women are not always keeping up with them.
I understand that in, for example, West Africa, the Gold Coast Government are now encouraging the wives of scholarship holders in this country to come to this country for a time so that at least they will have some personal knowledge of conditions here, and will be able to be much better companions for their husbands when they return home. I know that that cannot always be done, for family reasons, but I think it is an important consideration, partly for this reason: that whatever we do in this country—and it is of the most supreme and urgent importance, and the responsibility of every one of us here—it is also very important to consider the social conditions these students may expect when they return home.
The hon. Member for Hornsey said, very truly, that we have failed, by and large, to capture the allegiance, loyalty and faith of the educated classes in the overseas territories. That is surely largely because of social conditions, and I should like to give just one illustration. Last week, I was discussing the problems of colonial education with a member of the staff of one of our British universities, who, last year, visited a part of West Africa and wished to discuss problems with his own former students—students 1436 who were themselves graduates of a British university. He said that his European host would not invite these students to his home; this man was not able to meet them at the club, where there was no room set apart for entertaining African visitors; he could not take them to the hotel; and in order to discuss problems with his own students he had to walk up and down the street. We cannot expect loyalty, faith and allegiance when educated people, graduates of universities, return home to those conditions.
When I was discussing further the social contacts between Europeans and Africans my friend said, "There is among the younger generation, in particular, a considerable desire to increase social contacts with Africans, but you must remember that on both sides one of the difficulties is the women." As I have said, the African women are not always educated up to the standards of their husbands. In addition, the wives of our young colonial officers go out there not necessarily because they feel they have any mission in the Colonies, and I am certain that a good deal of the social difficulties which arise is due to the attitude of the wives of colonial administrators.
Now I know that is not an easy problem to tackle. These appointments to the Colonial Service are not joint appointments, and I suppose we have no right to demand that the wives of colonial administrators should undergo training themselves. But, in so far as anything can be done unofficially, and not too obtrusively, I think it is most important that it should be done, because we have not much time to lose in this matter. We are bringing more and more students to this country, and consequently more and more are returning to their own territories feeling that they have social rights as well as the right to exercise their intellectual powers, but they are being frustrated in that regard.
I hope that we shall not only do our duty on this very important question of colonial student welfare in this country, but that we shall impress upon all our administrators, and indirectly upon their wives too, that these people are educated people, that they are products of our own universities, and that they should be treated as such in their own territories.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
There are just two points made by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) that I should like to take up. The first is the question of the day chosen for this Debate. I am bound to say, knowing the Colonial Empire and the British Empire fairly intimately, that it has always been a surprise to me that we were allotted only one day to debate this most important subject. Being a new Member I do not know much about how these things are arranged, but if the Opposition give up one Supply Day I should have thought it might have been possible for the Government to give another day of their time, because we are discussing the Colonial Empire, which is one of the most important problems of British administration today, and which will increase in importance. I hope that perhaps in future we may have more time allotted.
With regard to the hon. Lady's suggestion about the wives of officials, I can assure her that the wives of officials in the Colonial territories have enough to do in looking after their husbands, who lead a very strenuous life in their work. It is very difficult for wives, particularly, to take part in social activities as suggested by the hon. Lady. It may well be desirable, but there are very great difficulties. I sincerely hope that there will not be created the impression that the majority of the wives of colonial officers have any objection to such social activities. The real difficulty is that they really do not have the time.
§ Mr. Wigg rose—
§ Mr. Craddock
I cannot give way because I want to be very brief, and to talk as quickly as I can, devoting all my remarks to East Africa only.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey touched on a most important problem, and as far as East Africa is concerned I feel that it is the most important problem facing us today—the lack of administrative officers. I find that most disturbing. I think that every hon. Member who knows and has seen at close quarters the Colonial Service will agree that these officers are a first-class body of men. The principal administrative officer is the district commissioner, assisted by the young assistant district commissioner. There are not nearly enough of those officers, or, indeed, of the most senior 1438 officers, the provincial commissioners, in East Africa. That has been the situation for a long time. What is the result? I feel very strongly that the fact that there are not enough of those officers going about the territory is one of the main reasons why there is so much unrest in East Africa, and, indeed, in other parts of the Colonial Empire. I stress most strongly to the Secretary of State hat everything must be done to bring up to strength, and even to increase, the quota of administrative officers. In my view, that is the most important factor in.he whole administration.
Next in importance in East Africa are agricultural officers, and then the veterinary officers, and I shall say why when I leave the administrative side and come to economic development. In my view that is the order in which we should concentrate on these matters. First and most important are the administrative officers. Give them the most attractive terms of service possible because they are the Key pin to the whole scheme of things in East Africa. Next there are the agricultural officers and then the veterinary officers. I do not decry the need for scientific and technical officers. These are undoubtedly necessary, but they cannot perform their work properly unless the administration is working smoothly, and we can only get that by choosing men of the highest calibre, as we have done in the past, and by making the service properly attractive. I believe that we can get them in the very near future, and I suggest that that should be done as quickly as possible.
I turn to the economic development of East Africa. In my view, from six years' experience in that territory, in business covering a very wide field. I am strongly of the opinion that economic development must primarily be agriculture. That, I believe, is the whole basis of the economy of that territory. Believing that, I am rather surprised to find that there is very little mention made in the report of a most important subject. It is only mentioned briefly in paragraph 250, namely, the important question of soil erosion. That is one of the great problems that faces not only East Africa, but the whole of the African continent.
It may interest hon. Members to learn of a very small experience of his tremendous menace which came under my own notice. One of my activities 1439 was in connection with the ginning of cotton, and one of my ginneries was in the North-East province of Uganda. When I first went there, in 1931, the manager of that ginnery had his bungalow in the compound and a very nice garden. In 1937, when I was on the point of leaving, that garden had completely disappeared. The desert had crept around it. I was absolutely staggered, as I think anyone would be. There we have this very grave and tremendous problem of soil erosion. I hope that we can obtain an assurance from the Secretary of State that particular attention is being paid to this most important question.
I was interested to read in the Report that experiments were being made with fertilisers. That is an ancillary problem and these experiments would help with the major problem of soil erosion. There has not been, in my view, nearly enough experimental work done with fertilisers in East Africa. I think that is one of the most important matters connected with agricultural economy.
May I give one example from my own experience? Apart from cotton ginning, I was growing tea, rubber, coffee and also tobacco, and the manager of the plantation carried out a most interesting experiment with fertilisers and its effect on tobacco growing. We put down a blank experimental plot and three other plots with various types of balanced fertilisers obtained in conjunction with the research department of a very important firm in this country. From one plot with a special balanced fertiliser we obtained no less than three crops of tobacco a year as against one from another fertilised plot and only half a crop from the blank plot which had not been treated with fertiliser. That is a small experiment, but one which I regard as of great significance, and an example of the importance of developing fertilisation by artificial means.
I do not propose to talk about the groundnut scheme at the moment. I am hoping that at some later date that may be fully discussed in the House. But there are other crops upon which that money could well have been spent to help not only the European growers, but also the African growers. In East Africa, tea is a most important product, grown mostly 1440 by European planters and by some of the great companies in the country. There is also the question of African crops grown by the Africans themselves. Groundnuts are by no means a new crop in Uganda for the Africans have been growing them there for a long time and know a lot about them. That is why, in my opinion, if we are to start a new crop it should be mainly from African growing with scientific officers helping them in research and experiment to adapt the best methods of cultivation.
May I ask for information? It may be that the Secretary of State will not be able to give it to me quickly because I have not given him notice of the question, but if he thinks that it is important enough, and he cannot get the information today, perhaps he will let me have it later. I would like to make a point with regard to the principal industry in Uganda, namely, cotton. The Report states that the cotton crop for 1948–49 was 380,000 bales. This year, owing to the drought, there will be a substantial loss, and the crop will probably be round about 300,000 bales of 400 lbs. each. This is not a very great advance, because 16 years ago the crop of Uganda cotton was roughly in the region of 300,000 bales, and that seems to indicate that there has not been enough concentration on this most important crop, in fact, the most important crop in Uganda at the present moment.
I read with surprise that last year's crop of something like 380,000 bales had been sold to the Raw Cotton Commission and also to the Government of India. I would like to have seen all that cotton coming to Liverpool, because it is quite suitable cotton being between American middlings and Egyptian. Surely, in these days, every ounce of material which we can get for the textile industry should have gone to our own textile industry and not to India, where, I presume, it is an unrequited export.
Before leaving the question of the cotton industry, may I say that I was delighted to learn from the Under-Secretary the other day, in answer to a Question of mine, that the price stabilisation fund stands at just over £7 million sterling? When the cotton pool for East Africa was formed in 1934—and, incidentally, I know a good deal about it, because I played a leading part in its formation—its purpose was to build up a fund from the cotton prices and cotton 1441 ginning to help in the welfare of the Africans themselves.
The Under-Secretary has said—and I was very glad to hear it—that the Africans in Uganda had started their own ginnery, and I understood him to say that part of this money was to be used for that purpose. I am delighted to hear that that experiment is being tried, and I hope that it will be properly supervised because the Africans in Uganda have tried, from time to time, to do their own ginning and have lost a tremendous amount of money. I hope, therefore, that the experiment will be carefully watched by the agricultural department of the territory or by the Administration. It is a very important experiment, and I hope that it will meet with great success.
§ Mr. Brockway
I only wanted to say that I am in touch with these Africans, and that they will very greatly welcome technical aid and assistance.
§ Mr. Craddock
I know them from my contacts with the Africans there. I used to discuss this problem with them from time to time, and I hope—I have always advocated this—that they will get supervision because the cotton ginning end is a very tricky business. It is not so tricky now on the selling side, because there is no hedging, because the Liverpool Cotton Exchange has been foolishly shut down. I hope that every opportunity will be given for the Africans to make a success of their own ginning.
The second field of advance for African economy lies in its mineral wealth. I confess that I am in slight disagreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Frederic Harris), here. He was in favour of the development of secondary industries, whereas I am doubtful whether any secondary industries would be really prosperous in East Africa. There was a suggestion at one time of having a textile spinning and weaving industry, but the real trouble about the development of secondary industries is the small local market. I doubt whether any secondary industry would be a great success for that reason.
1442 I come now to the social and constitutional question. There has been a tremendous amount of work done by Government officials, by the mercantile community and by missionaries of all denominations, on the social side. I believe that that work should be allowed to continue and should be encouraged, and that any work done by the Government should supplement the excellent voluntary work that is done by these people. I stress that the social and constitutional development of East Africa can only follow strong and sound economic development. That is the right way to tackle this most important problem. It would be wrong to allow the East Africans to be led to think that they will have self-government in a very short time. That would not only be wrong but quite dishonest. We should make it very clear that the aim of the British Government is to bring the Africans along with us in a real partnership. That is the right way to develop constitutional progress.
In passing, may I say that although it is true that the Secretary of State stressed the importance of being very careful in what was said about the important question of immigrants, he rather disturbed me in what he said? I hope it will be made plain that the British people, the Government officials, the missionaries and the mercantile community have made a great contribution in that part of the world, and that there must be no question of going back and looking upon the British settler, who, in Kenya, has now reached the second or third generation, as an immigrant. I was very disturbed at the tone of the Secretary of State's mention of this very important point.
The real way to social and constitutional development in East Africa is through the old but wise expression "hasten slowly." I regard the Africans as a very great people. They are kindly, lovable and possess a great sense of humour. Above all, they are loyal to the British people. I will give one example which is rather interesting. If one talks to the older Africans in Tanganyika territory who were under the rule of Germany years ago and ask them what they feel about the British people and the Germans, they always refer to the Germans as "Bwana Boche" and to British rule as "Bwana King George." When one asks whether they would rather be under Bwana Boche or Bwana King 1443 George, they always reply, "Bwana King George." When asked why, they say, "Because Bwana King George is kind and just." That is the greatest tribute that can be paid by these great people to the people of this country for the work we have done and, I hope, shall continue to do.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
The enemies of democracy and of this country have had a very good afternoon if they care to use the speeches which have come from Members opposite, from which I do not exempt the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. G. B. Craddock), who has just spoken. His ideas about the Colonial Empire are conditioned, of course, by his experience there. Members opposite always seem to assume that any Member who speaks on this side knows nothing at all about Africa, has not been there, and ought to be very careful in what he says lest he tends to disturb the respectful blacks who pull their forelock and say "Yes, Bwana."
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) who quoted Freud. He need not have gone back so far. He need only have gone back to Hitler. His gospel was that of the herrenvolk. The hon. Member does not need to worry about Freud. The same race theory was put forward, although not in the same crude way, by the hon. Member for Spelthorne.
§ Mr. G. B. Craddock
Is the hon. Member suggesting that I am taking the line that Hitler would have taken in regard to the African people?
§ Mr. Wigg
What the hon. Member does not understand, and what the Tory Party do not understand, is that the difference between the philosophy of one class born to rule and the rest to serve, and the philosophy of one race born to rule and the rest to serve, is the difference between 11½d. and 1s. When the hon. Member talks about the "Bwana" business, he is talking about the master race attitude towards a subordinate people.
§ Mr. Craddock
The hon. Member is entirely wrong. "Bwana" is a courtesy term, the same as if I met the hon. Member outside I would call him "Mr." That is a courtesy which I have always been brought up to respect.
§ Mr. Wigg
The hon. Member for Spelthorne knows perfectly well the circumstances in which the white settler lives, and that when the black boy calls the white man "Bwana" it is not just a mark of respect. I know what happens to the black boy if he does not call the white man "Bwana," and I know what happens in India if the Indian did not call the white man "Sahib." I have seen it happen many times. I have been in Kenya and Uganda, as well as in India.
The speeches we have heard this afternoon were extremely interesting, and I hope my hon. Friend, when he replies, will repudiate the conception of colonial administration which has been put forward, and specifically the ideas which were put forward by the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), because I am quite certain that we have no future at all in looking after our colonial peoples if we do not repudiate specifically the ideas which are being played around with in South Africa, and which are dependent upon the permanent domination of the white race over coloured people.
I remember perfectly well the words of the hon. Member for Spelthorne. He hoped that the day of self-government for these Colonial people was a long way off. Those are not the sentiments of the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley). He was Secretary of State for the Colonies away back in 1943, and I have paid my tribute to the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman, when, on behalf of the Conservative Party, he honestly and genuinely meant to lead the backward people along the road to self-government. The opening words in this Report are not the words which were first uttered by a Socialist Colonial Secretary.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West, is not here, may I say that I am sure he would feel that he would not wish to receive a tribute at the expense of misrepresentation of my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Wigg
I do not wish to qualify what I have got to say by anything which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) might say, and I am not paying a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, West, because I think he wants it. He does not want it. He is my political opponent and I would destroy him if I could. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hitler."] Of course I would destroy him politically. I pay him that tribute, because I believe that during his period as Colonial Secretary he laid the foundations upon which Mr. Creech Jones built. I would go on and say that I hope it will not be long before he is well enough to be back again in the House.
§ Mr. Wigg
If the right hon. Member for Bristol, West, is Colonial Secretary and he puts forward a policy similar to that enunciated from the benches opposite this afternoon, then the end of the British Commonwealth of Nations is not very far off, because if it is thought that the African can be held in permanent subjection on the basis of the philosophy put forward by the hon. Member for Spelthorne, and the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale, or indeed on the philosophy of the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris), hon. Members opposite are making a great mistake, and they are completely out of touch with the forces working in a modern world.
I entirely agree that one has to be cautious when one is talking or starting off on schemes which are either a political or economic experiment, but we have got to keep our eye on the goal of self-government, and not only that, but translate words into deeds. As my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said earlier, one of the great tragedies of British administration is that while we seem to have a flair for arousing and retaining the confidence of people who are just emerging from ignorance, and people who have made their first impact on modern civilisation, there is something missing when we come to tackle the more difficult, more complex, problem of handling and guiding people along the last road, which leads to self-government and Dominion status.
1446 I hold the view that if the Labour Government in the last five years had done nothing for the people of this country and had not secured speedy and easy demobilisation, history would say that it succeeded beyond the wildest of dreams of those who support it by bringing India freely inside the British Commonwealth of Nations. That may well be a decisive factor in world peace. I speak with the utmost sincerity when I say that I genuinely regret some of the sentiments which have been put forward from the benches opposite today.
I am very sorry that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) is not here, because I should like to say a word about his comments on the extremist Press in West Africa. A year ago in the Colonial Debate I tried to point out that the Ziks of this world fulfilled a very useful function. It is perfectly true that their newspapers are not the usual newspaper standard which we expect. They become a little boring if they are the only source of news. They are scurrilous broadsheets, but I should not want to repress them.
I reminded the House a year ago that anyone who looked at West Africa in 1945 must have thought that if trouble was going to come it would come in Nigeria. It rather looked as if in the Gold Coast the post-war transition would be carried through easily, and its economy was sufficiently sound to expect that. It had an able governor in Sir Alan Burns, who enjoyed the confidence of the people, and it was possible that a scheme for constitutional reform would be put through. But the lid first blew off in the Gold Coast, and not in Nigeria.
I think the reason that happened was because Zik came to this country with the money he collected from his tour around Nigeria and in so doing acted as a safety valve. He certainly let off steam before he came here and when he got back to Nigeria, but by letting off steam he gave the people an opportunity of saying what they felt. They thought that Zik was going to put things right when he came to this country. There were great hopes from the results of the deputation which he led. The fact that he spent £10,000 which had been collected from the people out there was a matter between the subscribers and Dr. Zik, but I believe that he fulfilled a use- 1447 ful political function, and if there had been some Ziks at that stage a couple of years ago in the Gold Coast, we might have avoided the trouble which ultimately came.
I regret very much that the Governor has put the Opposition into prison. I think it is deplorable that Nkrunah and his associates are now in prison. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington asked questions on that subject and he wondered why it was that Dr. Danquah, who in 1945 was regarded as a rather dangerous person, is now thought to be a Right-wing reactionary. That fact is due to the aptitude of the Governor and his advisers for managing to create a situation where there is nothing to the Left of Dr. Danquah because Nkrunah and his friends are behind iron bars.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Cooper (Middlesbrough, West)
Does my hon. Friend think that the attacks made by "West African Pilot" can be looked upon as vapourings?
§ Mr. Wigg
Yes. The "West African Pilot" is produced for a public in just the same way as the "Daily Graphic" is produced for a public in this country. If I were asked to choose between the "West African Pilot" and the "Daily Graphic" I would choose the "Pilot." They are both produced for an empty-headed section of the community, and indeed, whilst such sections exist, somebody like Dr. Zik or Lord Kemsley or Lord Camrose will come along and turn out the appropriate kind of paper that those people want.
It is highly dangerous to walk about suppressing or even thinking of suppressing papers of this kind, because they do a job in a democracy. That is the rôle which a newspaper or, indeed, a politician plays. The reason the Hitlers, the Mussolinis and the Stalins of this world must have a secret police force is that there is no opposition Press and there are no opposition political parties and they do not know what is going on, and in order to find out they have to employ a police intelligence service.
We ought to treat Nkrunah and Zik as responsible people; not that we shall get much change out of them, because they never will be responsible. For Heaven's 1448 sake let the Secretary of State for the Colonies think twice before he considers shutting down the Press or putting people like Nkrunah and Zik in the "jug," because he will have to let them out. We had to let Nehru out of the "jug" before we got a settlement in India. Before we can settle anything in the Gold Coast, Nkrunah must come out of the "jug." I recommend that policy to the Secretary of State and the Governor.
§ Mr. Wigg
I said "out of the jug." Perhaps my hon. Friend has led such a secluded life that he does not know what "the jug "is. Mr. Nkrunah and his associates know what "the jug" is; they are in it at the moment. The quicker the Secretary of State gets them out, the better it will be for the Gold Coast. There is no certainty that when they come out they will stop out, but I hope that my right hon. Friend will realise that the whole of the opposition is in prison.
I want to say a word or two about the Enugu Report. I am not lost in admiration of the report or of the Secretary of State's reaction to it. In some ways the report is not awfully well informed, I regret to say, and the Secretary of State is also not awfully well informed. For example, the report makes a point about the failure to enlist the services of the Ngwo Clan Council. The extraordinary thing is that the Secretary of State thinks the same. That is really quite surprising. I can understand a Commission going out to sit in Enugu not knowing about the relative importance of the clan council but the Secretary of State, with his staff of advisers, ought to know the set-up around Enugu.
After all, Enugu is not only the place of the wild men of the mines. A few miles away is Udi where Mr. Chadwick earned the confidence of the local folk and did a great community service which is an example not only to the rest of our Colonies but also to the rest of the world. The Ngwo Clan Council is quite a small and irresponsible body. It consists of only a few hundred people none of whom, or very few of whom, were miners working in the pits. They counted for nothing locally. Their political influence was about nil, and the idea that the situation 1449 would have been more amenable if the Resident had gone along and consulted the Ngwo Clan Council seems to be a piece of nonsense.
After all, that is only a minor point compared with the far wider issue of the unfortunate shooting of November last which cost a number of lives, which all hon. Members regret. It was due to a backlog of ill-feeling which had existed in that area right back to 1915. The immediate incident which led to this situation was connected with the removal of explosives; not the actual removal but failure to take ordinary measures to ensure that the explosives were removed with the utmost dispatch and in a way which could not be interfered with. The history of that operation is a perfect example of how an operation of that kind should not be carried out. But having said that, it is my belief that there would have been no loss of life, no trouble and maybe no strike at all if the Government at Lagos and the Government at home had done something about building up confidence on the part of the workers, not only in Enugu but also in other parts of the Colony.
But what happened in fact? A spot of bother occurred, and it was said, "Let us send out a labour officer." When the labour officer got out there he found that he was required to do almost anything except the job he was sent out to do, and the result has been that labour relations in Enugu and around the mine were left in the hands of the mine manager. I am prepared to believe that he is an excellent technical man and that he has done a first-class job, but having read the Report and also having taken the trouble to read some of the evidence, I say that that man should never have been allowed to handle any human beings. He had not the flair—this is not being unkind to him—for handling other human beings. Certainly he does not seem to have taken the trouble to understand that there were very special labour relations problems in Enugu. Therefore, this lack of goodwill which had existed for 30 years reached boiling point.
Of course, it is true that there was an utterly dishonest labour leader. Mr. Ojiyi was a crook. That is true, but that is the way in West Africa. The members of the miners' union made no provision at all for the upkeep of Mr. Ojiyi and his family, so Mr. Ojiyi, in accordance with the good old 1450 West African tradition, made the provision himself. He did rather well out of it. It is no good calling him names. I am prepared to believe that he was a very good labour leader and a very good trade union official. He got all he could for his men and he also got all he could for himself. It is no good the Opposition saying that this is an argument for going slow in the development of trade unionism. What we have to do is to throw up a breed of men who are sufficiently honest and disinterested to want to serve their fellows and not do what Mr. Ojiyi did.
That brings me to another point about which I feel strongly. We cannot get healthy labour relations, effective trade unions, political advance and economic advance in Africa unless we tackle the problem of education. Africa is full of the graveyards of young men who went out there in a hurry. Africa will not be hurried; it will come along at its own pace. The measurement of the speed of the advance is in terms of educational advance. The Opposition are critical about some of the things that we have done or have not done, but they left us one legacy. In Sierra Leone they left us 95 per cent. illiteracy. In vast areas of Nigeria and the Gold Coast it is 100 per cent. If we cannot hurry forward as fast as we should have wished along the road to self-government the fault is not here it is the result of the years of misrule when the party opposite did nothing about it.
We have to move very quickly because Africa is beginning to move a little quicker than it moved in the past. Africans value education. They may not value it for the reasons we do. Africa may not want education for the purpose of increased cultural activities; they may want it in terms of a better job; but that is not wholly a bad thing. However, I am sure that the starting-off point is not only the tackling of the youngsters; we have also to tackle the parents.
In this country the trade union movement and the labour movement grew out of a virile adult education movement. I remember well a conversation I had with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary who talked to me about a report on adult education published at the end of the First World War and presented to Lord Addison in the Ministry of Reconstruction. The Secretary was my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood). The 1451 Foreign Secretary said that when he went to the Ministry of Labour he based his policy upon what that report contained. It said that if you wanted to get a democratic adult society you had to throw the whole of your weight behind a vigorous adult education movement.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies said some nice things about what is being done in the field of adult education in West Africa. I am not so happy about the situation there. In 1945 a number of my hon. Friends and myself tried to draw up a scheme which would be useful. I am not at all sure that the two university colleges, particularly the one at Ibadan, have a concept of adult education which would commend itself to the more experienced of my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee who have been practitioners in that field. I do not think there is an understanding of what we have done in this country during the last 100 years, nor is there the imagination to use that experience and apply it to West African needs. I am not so silly as to think that we can pick up a thing in this country, dump it down in Africa, and just hope for it to work. Indeed, any hon. Member who thinks that possible should go to the Library and read the evidence of the Fitzgerald Commission and learn of the experience there of Whitley Councils.
Whitleyism in this country did a great job and was a useful piece of machinery which we would not be without, but it failed completely in West Africa and in Enugu, and if one picks up the product of adult education experience, such as the tutorial class or the extension lectures as used by the older universities in this country and try those out in the Gambia or the Gold Coast, they will fail. The guiding principle must be that which has pushed the Labour Movement along over the years, the fact that individuals have a life to live and that we should all count equally one with another. We reject lock, stock and barrel, the conceptions put from the benches opposite this afternoon. We do not believe in the superiority of one race or class. It is the job of the Labour Government to go on pushing as hard as it can along the road to self-government, but that can only be done by free citizens freely playing their part in working for the better world they want.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
This has been a wide Debate and it is difficult to try to follow many of the lines of thought opened up, but I propose to try to follow the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and talk about West Africa, in particular Nigeria.
I think it was my right hon. Friend who referred to the desire of the predecessor of the Secretary of State for the Colonies—and no doubt it is now his as well—that so far as possible these Colonial Debates should not be the occasion for too much party controversy. The hon. Member for Dudley, as I am sure he will realise, is not the least provocative Member of this House and therefore one has to exercise considerable self-restraint in not pursuing some of the themes he opened up. However I certainly believe that in dealing with the matters under discussion we should not be animated by any feeling of race superiority, but purely with the desire to do the best for all concerned. The observations I shall put forward will not be palatable to the hon. Gentleman, but they will be put forward for those reasons.
First, a word or two about the Enugu inquiry and the Fitzgerald Report. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams) is here, but we would all pay tribute to him for the great physical endurance which he showed. I saw him in hospital in Enugu in conditions of considerable suffering, attempting to go on with the work of that Commission. He had a very bad time indeed from the health point of view, yet he stuck to his job and it is only fair to him that that should be said of his work in this connection.
I am a little doubtful, however, about the wisdom of the width of some of the statements in this kind of report. So far as the Aiken Watson Report on the Gold Coast was concerned, that dealt adequately with the actual disorders, but when it got on to political and constitutional grounds it made certain observations which were a little short of laughable, and it required the Coussey Report, which was produced by a Committee solely of Africans, really to put the Aiken Watson Report right.
The most striking thing about that all-African Report was its insistence upon a 1453 sound system of local government being an essential condition precedent to sound democratic government. I am perfectly certain that which one of my hon. Friends said about hastening slowly is very much in point there. Unless we can construct a sound system of local government it will be difficult to get anything such as we recognise as a democracy functioning in any of the West African countries. It would be a tragedy if in the Gold Coast a small group of extremists were able to sabotage the substantial advances at present being put into force by the Government in that territory. With regard to the Enugu Report, paragraphs 15 to 20 of Part III which deal with political trends in Nigeria contain some general observations couched in debatable terms. Without going into them, I do not accept some of the things which appear in that part of the Report.
With some of the things which the hon. Gentleman has said I agree. Surprising and mortifying though it may be to him, I think that on certain matters—which I do not want to specify for good reasons—he said things which are very near the truth. But until one has had an opportunity of studying all the evidence, it is better not to go too much into the actual facts of that sad business. However, I want to say a word about one gentleman who has not been mentioned, Senior Superintendent Philip. He, of course, was not a police officer stationed in Enugu but came in from outside, from Onitsha, to do his best in all the circumstances. Paragraph 119 of the Report reads rather strangely, particularly the comment about waiting until a definite physical act of obstruction had taken place before taking any preventive action. I do not think that finding is in accordance with the evidence or with some of the findings of fact in the Report itself. It shows a curious lack of reality, but I suspend judgment until there has been an opportunity to study the evidence in full.
However, it should be said now, because this is the first Debate there has been upon this matter, in fairness to this police officer and to other police officers, that I suspect a very much worse disaster would have happened if the order to fire had not been given.
§ Mr. Bing rose—
§ Mr. Lloyd
I propose to finish the sentence. I believe that the relatively 1454 small force of police would have been over-run and that hundreds of lives might have been lost before order was restored. It is my own opinion that justice has not been done to this officer, and we must be careful not to make him a scapegoat. I thought the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies) spoke in temperate terms of his position. He was placed in an exceedingly difficult position with a hard decision to make. I am not satisfied with the findings of the Commission on this matter and I hope there will be another opportunity, when hon. Members have had an opportunity of studying the full evidence, to debate the matter.
§ Mr. Bing
Has the hon. and learned Member read the evidence? The evidence shows quite clearly two things. The first is that nobody was armed at all the policeman was mistaken in that view; and secondly, the next day all the explosives were removed, without any loss of life whatsoever, by an unarmed party.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I have not read the evidence in full. I have read certain portions. I do not at all agree with what the hon. Member has just said. As he will know, when one is discussing a considerable mass of evidence, various people come to different conclusions about it. In this case there is no court of appeal which can sift the evidence and arrive at the true facts. I disagree with the points the hon. Member has put forward and I am simply—because this is the first time there has been an opportunity of doing so—entering my personal caveat that I do not accept the findings upon this matter. I think that should be said in fairness to this officer, and I hope that there will be an opportunity of debating the matter fully at a later stage.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is economic development. I shall not follow my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) who went into the appropriate fields of public and private enterprise, but I think that not sufficient importance has been paid to—and I hope that this is the right phrase—the logistics of transportation. The railways, harbours and roads are 1455 really inadequate to carry this new increase in traffic which is being built up. The resources of the Government and of the Colonial Development Corporation should be put into the improvement of communications, and the rest of the job left to private traders. There is the example of Takoradi Harbour on the Gold Coast. There a £2½ million scheme is being put into operation which, when completed, will only just enable the harbour to carry the traffic already available. It will not be completed for two or three years, so that it will already be behind the times when it is completed. There was another alternative £7 million scheme put forward to build a new harbour alongside the present one, which was rejected; and that is the sort of matter which I feel offers appropriate scope for Government action.
So far as the railways are concerned, I was told that the allocations for, I think it was the month of December last year, were 18,000 tons and the applications were 75,000 tons. It is no use developing up-country if the communications of the country just will not take the increased traffic. That applies particularly to groundnuts in Nigeria. We know the difficulties—
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Lloyd
With respect to hon. Members, I know that a great many of my hon. Friends want to speak and I think we shall get on with greater speed if I do not give way. We are agreed that in Nigeria there was the difficulty of transporting the groundnut crop. I heard when I was there that the agriculturists had very high hopes of enormously increasing the output of groundnuts in Northern Nigeria, but if the railways cannot carry the increased crop it is like putting the cart before the horse, if I may use that term. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to the transportation problem, including harbours, railways and roads.
With regard to what I think are more controversial matters—though that does not appear to be accepted—that is, political and constitutional issues, I thought when I was in Nigeria that there was a feeling of grave disquiet. I thought the atmosphere out there was not very happy and that the unhappiness 1456 was most marked among those whom I would describe as moderate Africans—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tory Africans."] I hear the usual comment, "Tory Africans," but I am trying to be fair about this. I do not believe that those to whom I was introduced were solely Tory Africans or that the people responsible did not introduce me to a fair cross-section of African opinion. I will prove that in a moment or two. There were doubts whether they were ready for Western democracy in its fullest form. It was said of one side that either we ought to stay and govern firmly or else it would be better to go.
Another comment was, "Why do you let this small group of extremists dominate the situation?" There was a feeling that we had lost interest; that we were defeatists about retaining our connection with West Africa, and that we were about to make a quick departure in the same way as we had gone from India or Burma. I think it is vital that we should disprove that attitude of mind. We must not allow a small group of extremists to poison the relations between Britain and the Nigerian peoples. I say "peoples" advisedly, because the right hon. Gentleman knows there is no such thing as a Nigerian people. It is a concatenation of a considerable number of different peoples.
How are we to deal with this disquiet? I suggest that the first matter to be dealt with is the apparent success of extremism. There is a great feeling that if the extremists shout loud enough they get something. If a time-time has been fixed for constitutional advance and if the extremists agitate enough, they will get the Government to go back on the time-table laid down. I think it is very important that any time schedule for constitutional development should be adhered to.
Then we come to the Press. The hon. Member spoke of a safety valve and about blowing off steam. I saw the editor of an extremist newspaper in one town in Nigeria, and I had a long conversation with him. He was an extremely pleasant and amiable person. We talked over the whole matter of self-government and the rest of it; Dominion status, the gradual formation of adequate local government and the process along that 1457 road. His actual complaint really came down to the non-co-operative attitude of certain very junior British officials. The very next day in his paper was something which was a direct incitement to bloodshed.
He was talking of the year 1950 and he said it would be a year of freedom, or it would be a year of bloodshed, and so on, in very much more grandiloquent terms. To people who are primitive—I do not use the word in any offensive sense—who have not had a thousand years of constitutional development, let us put it that way—language of this sort is highly disturbing. It is not blowing off steam, it is an incitement to bloodshed and that sort of writing, appearing in almost every African newspaper, leads to incidents such as at Enugo.
§ Mr. Wigg
The hon. and learned Member must realise that the circulation of those newspapers is very limited indeed, and that there is a very high percentage of illiteracy, so that clearly their influence must be limited. If they are suppressed, which I understand is the view of the hon. and learned Member and some of his hon. Friends, then all that would be achieved would be the driving of this dangerous force underground.
§ Mr. Lloyd
So long as we are on common ground that that sort of thing is not desirable, I say that the Government must take some action. It is very difficult problem to know what the correct action is, but I think there must be some sort of control. I agree that we do not want to abolish the Press or to suspend all the newspapers, but I think there must be some means of controlling language which is likely to lead to bloodshed.
The point about trade unionism has already been well made and I will not deal with it at all, but there is an almost pathetic belief that trade unionism will solve all the problems. I was told by one experienced employer, who was not in private service, that he had been trying to build up trade unionism in his organisation. During the three years he had been dealing with them he had had three different sets of trade union officials. He got the thing going and organised a system of joint negotiation and discussion, and 1458 gradually trained the officials. Then at the end of the year, they were turned out by their fellows for not being sufficiently extremist. He had to start with another lot, and so it would go on. That is what is happening. I welcome very much the sending of this Commission and I hope that they will have some constructive proposals to make. It is foolish to think that the situation is satisfactory.
It is necessary for us to have are statement of our principles. The restatement should be on these lines. We will not be hustled out of our responsibilities. We have as much right to guide the constitutional development there as any little group of West Africans, because we have produced law and order and we have spent great sums of money and great resources in human lives, and we are the only defence against anarchy, civil war and Communism
Therefore, we should say, with the approval of 95 per cent. of the people there, that we will stay in Nigeria to preserve the peace and to help and guide West Africans to an increasing share in the management of their own affairs within the framework of the Empire. There is nothing patronising in that. It has taken us 700 years with our Parliamentary institutions to get where we are today, and we are by no means perfect. I do not think that there is any conflict of interest because, without European help, both administrative, technical and financial, Nigeria would collapse. There is scope for every technical and professional man which Nigeria can produce and for every one we can afford to send out there. There is no conflict of interest at all. There is ample opportunity for all, both African and European.
I ask hon. Gentlemen to consider the figures of African students given by Mr. Frank Samuel in a recent speech. Of private students now studying in the United Kingdom, 182 are studying law; 170, medicine, and 37, engineering. Of Government students, nine are studying law; 32, medicine; and 45 engineering. I am a lawyer, but I am certain that that ratio of private students is not in the best interests of Nigeria. Therefore I suggest that in this task, on terms of equality and co-operation, we should go forward with all Africans of good will to produce what one hopes will be a very fine country and a very fine civilisation. It will be a 1459 tragedy if our relations are bedevilled by a small group of vociferous extremists.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
It is almost a shock for me to be called upon to speak when I see so many experts on this side who are anxious to address the Committee. There are two points which I wish to discuss. The first concerns planning, particularly in Africa and especially in that part and in those latitudes which have been termed earlier today the central dominion or, as some people call it in much more picturesque language, Capricornia. We have heard about these astronomical sums which are to be invested—£120 million under the C.D.N. Acts, £110 million by C.D.C. and £55 million by O.F.C. I ask hon. Members to look at paragraph 279 of the Report which stresses the need for research and survey in the Empire. If we are to avoid South Sea Bubbles in future we must study with care that paragraph of the Report, because it is disturbing.
The ancients had a sayingex Africa aliquid semper novi,and Africa is still a dark Continent which does need much survey. There is a great need for good topographical maps. I have attempted in the fast few days to find information about soil and geological surveys in this part of the world. It surprises me to find that Northern Rhodesia exports something like £29 million worth of ore and base metals and has not yet had a geological survey. Above all, we need surveys badly before we start investing money on a large scale.
Establishments are woefully inadequate. My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price), talked about geologists. I think that we only have about 110 in the overseas geological department, of whom very few are experienced. That applies for all overseas work in New Guinea, the West Indies and in Africa especially.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
Would the hon. Gentleman allow me to emphasise his point, if that is not impertinent? Is he aware that the Government are employing American geologists and surveyors to carry out this work, and that that has its dangers?
§ Mr. Johnson
My next point has been made for me. I hope that with help from President Truman's "Fourth Point" and E.C.A. we shall recover from this lack of geologists in our colonial possessions.
Before I became a Member of this House I studied the debates carefully and I read some most nonsensical claims made for the future of Central Africa. I read accounts of Detroits and Pittsburghs in the Zambesi Valley. I am awed by these terrifying statements. We all know that Sir Miles Thomas discovered a 30-ft. coal seam at Wankie; but Uganda. Kenya, Tanganyika. Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia are deficient in coal, iron ore and oil, which are essential for all industrial development. For example, Northern Rhodesia mines something like 147 tons of iron ore annually, which is worth about £74.
I turn to agriculture, in the same context. We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West, about the possibilities of developing these large areas of Central Africa for pastoral farming and the production of food. We were told last year that there were 4,500,000 square miles suitable for agricultural development. We were told of the use of antrycide the new drug, to deal with the tsetse fly. Without quoting ecologists and others. I would point out that in many parts the tsetse fly is a balance in nature. If we were to clear or to over-graze many of these places we should upset the balance of nature as it has been upset in Kenya by the Masai. We would find ourselves creating dongas and there would be all the evidence of large-scale erosion, the beginnings of dust bowls and the creation of desert conditions like those in the Middle West of the United States.
Before I leave this geographical dissertation, I believe that there is beginning a long-term change of climate in Central Africa. I think that the Zambesi Valley is coming into a period of desiccation in the same way that in Northern Europe we are coming into a period of milder climate. The glaciers are retreating from the coastal belts of Greenland and North Norway. I suggest that we are entering a period of desiccation in this part of Africa. The water table is sinking. I have kith and kin in Nyasaland and other parts of Africa, and I am told that the water table is sinking not merely in Kenya and in the table lands east of the Great 1461 Lakes, but in other parts also. I always try to point that out when people talk to me about these terrific developments being possible, and about this area becoming a vast milch cow which will supply these islands and their 50 million people with food and other materials.
§ Mr. Alport (Colchester)
The hon. Gentleman is making a most interesting point, which I am sure is fully appreciated by the Committee. I would ask him whether he does not think, from his own knowledge, that one of the reasons for the reduction in rainfall in Central Africa is the destruction of the forests there, rather than any cycle of the weather?
§ Mr. Johnson
I would agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I could also talk of 19th century imperialism and the exploitation of the Empire. There is a lot that we could say about the development of the Empire in the last 100 years, but it is true to say that deforestation was followed by erosion of all kinds.
May I close on this note? I have talked about material things; let me now talk about people. We cannot change people as we can change things, but the impact of the white man in Africa has led to disruption of all kinds and a sense of restlessness among the native people. These people are pressing forward, and their emancipation is implicit in history—the same thing is happening in monsoon Asia now—and, sooner or later, we shall have to give them self-government. We are faced with the classical dilemma of all capitalist colonial Powers. We have democracy here and we give these people civil liberties, which, as we were told earlier, they sometimes abuse with their scurrilous broadsheets in West Africa. But, when we refuse even legitimate requests, we cause suspicion in their minds, and their leaders go to their masses and create distrust of the white people.
Many of these claims are legitimate claims. May I give two examples where, in education alone, the native peoples are showing glaring contrasts? Let us take Northern Rhodesia, where something like £29 million worth of metals are produced annually. There is, I believe, a potential school population of 320,000. They have one secondary school with some 70 1462 youngsters entering it, and only five finish their course in the fifth form. There is an enormous demand and enormous scope for serving these people.
There is the same thing in Nigeria. The Northern province of Nigeria has a population of something like 18 million people, and we have founded there recently a university college. I am told that to date there is only one university graduate in the whole of Northern Nigeria. That is shocking, but that is the position, and it shows that there is a legitimate demand being put forward by these people.
My last word is this. We went into Africa a long time ago. We made the most of this situation. It is our job to solve it. While I am saying that we must not shirk our difficulties and obligations, and that we must do all we can to help, I say, on the other hand, that this task will mainly rest on the black peoples themselves. I would be much happier if some black people, some of our coloured cousins, in Nigeria and elsewhere, would turn their backs on the glittering prizes of law and commerce, and even, I would say, upon the tinsel show of politics, too, and would dedicate themselves to the service of their fellow-men.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will welcome the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), who recently joined us in this House, and I hope that, possibly, the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who always seems to take the opportunity to produce extra controversy in our discussions, will read the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby and take note of the constructive suggestions which he made.
I would like to stress a point raised by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who was supported by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price), on the question of overpopulation, and to suggest to the Colonial Secretary that he should look into the suggestion that, somehow or another, the problem should be brought more clearly before the peoples of those territories.
However much we may increase economic and political development, it can never overtake, at the present rate, the growing population of these territor- 1463 ies or alter the basic fact that they are not producing enough food for themselves at the present time. If, in the next 20 years, the populations of these territories are to be doubled or trebled, heaven alone knows where the food is coming from. It is interesting to hear some people say that such and such a territory will have to import food from outside, but where are the exporting areas of the world today? Where will they be in another 30 or 40 years' time?
This question of over-population is one of the most fundamental, in which the Colonial Secretary might do a great service by putting these facts before the various territories. I think that some of the visitors who came here from the West Indies in the last month or so were thinking very hard about these food problems. They are some of the greatest sufferers, and I think they would benefit by such help as the right hon. Gentleman could give them.
This brings me to the first point I wish to make, which is, to ask the Secretary of State whether he can give, as time goes on, a bit more information about what is happening on some of these international commissions, such as the South Pacific Commission and the Caribbean Commission. A lot of work has been done and a lot of energy expended on these commissions, and I think that the point has now been reached when we can see along what lines there can be useful co-operation. With great respect to those concerned, I think there have been a lot of people from other parts of the world who have taken this opportunity of inquiring into and attempting to disrupt a lot of the good work done by this country.
We have reached the point where, despite the propaganda which has gone on against this country, a good deal of constructive work has been done. We have reached the point where we can check up on the activities of these commissions, cut them down in some respects, and develop them in others. I believe, as some of my hon. Friends have pointed out, that the Colonial Office has changed quite a lot in the last 10 years or so, and that there is great scope for development on the scientific research side of the Colonial Office and for the application of that central research infor- 1464 mation to the various territories overseas. All can be linked on to these commissions.
It is obvious that there are always two tendencies in the political difficulties which face us—the centralising one, and the decentralising one. As far as centralisation is concerned, more and more of our defence affairs are being determined internationally. In Korea, for instance, the decision was taken so quickly centrally that it might be said that in defence we are sharing our sovereignty with other nations. As the world gets smaller through modern science these great issues of defence are becoming more centralised.
At the same time, there is the wish, not only in the Colonial Empire, but even among Scotsmen and Welshmen, to take a greater part in their own affairs and to get various details away from us here in Westminster. Speaking as an Englishman, I am delighted to see these activities taken away from us if that is thought better, so that we may have more time for these centralised issues which affect us so much. I believe that the Colonial Secretary can do a great deal by encouraging these territories overseas to group themselves regionally. I have mentioned this point before in these debates. Regional grouping should be encouraged, not only from the point of view of our own territories, but from the point of view of the United Nations and general cooperation in the commissions which I have already mentioned.
With regard to Capricornian Africa, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Rugby, I know that the Colonial Office have done much work in connection with transportation, health, and so forth. It is also high time to have a look at the area of the Congo Basin Treaty. It is in these regional groupings that a lot of work can be done in future. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) pointed out, people visiting this country from the West Indies felt that they were much stronger in coming as a West Indian group and not as representatives of their territories. As he also pointed out, we do not wish to force any federation or union, from this country, upon those territories.
I believe it will be, in their continued interest for five or six large groupings to be developed in the world each under the aegis, maybe, of a governor-general 1465 who would carry out some of the functions of the Secretary of State—who would always remain ultimately responsible—closer to the sphere of action in which policy decisions here in Westminster would be put into effect.
I think that those who have studied these affairs will support the Secretary of State in pointing out the immense responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in this country. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol. West (Mr. Stanley) pointed out, when the right hon. Gentleman addressed this House for the first time as Secretary of State for the Colonies, many of us believe his office is the most important office under the Crown. When one remembers that it covers 42 territories and 65 million people, including all Departments of State, and that something like 60 to 70 per cent. of the dollar earnings of this country come from Colonial territories, one realises the vast importance to this country of the areas with which the Secretary of State for the Colonies is concerned.
Finally, I should like to support the remark which the Secretary of State made about stable markets. I believe that another most useful task his Office could do is to make proper market surveys to see what are overall needs of production in these territories overseas. It is high time, too, that the Government made more clear to private enterprise the sphere of public responsibility and the sphere of private responsibility in the field of economic development. Until this is clear, we will not get proper help from the Americans under President Truman's Point Four, or in any other way.
These market surveys, linked up with the definition by the Secretary of State of where the relative spheres of private enterprise and Government activity lie, would lead to that bound forward in financial development which, in his own Report, he says is lacking at the moment.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)
I am sure that all of us not only appreciated the opening statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies in this Debate, but also the constructive proposals put forward by several hon. Members, including those by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). I am sure that the Committee 1466 extends to him its appreciation of an excellent and exemplary speech, particularly because of its precision and brevity. While the Secretary of State, obviously, had a very great task in trying to compress, within less than an hour, the whole of the Colonial territories for which we are responsible, it is even more difficult for minor Members of this House to try to say all they would wish to say in approximately 10 minutes.
We could deal with the philosophical, political or economic aspects, or take some particular territory or problem, or deal with points put forward by hon. Members on the other side of the Committee, and even sometimes by hon. Members on our own side. But I will confine myself to three brief references. The first concerns a remark made by an hon. Member opposite in the earlier part of the Debate. He said we were now spending a good deal of money on colonial development part of which was "charity," though he did not use that word in a repugnant sense. I asked him a question, the full point of which he did not seize. Therefore, may I emphasise it as one of the three points in my intermission?
It has already been implied, in the speech of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), when he said that about 70 per cent. of our dollar earnings come from the Colonies. Therefore, the less we talk about "charity" with regard to those Colonies the better. In other words, we give back to the Colonies only a small proportion of their economic resources which we are using for our purpose. There is a long way between that and what we ought to do in regard to our so-called colonial possessions.
§ Mr. Gammans
It was I who made the remark to which the hon. Gentleman refers. If he will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow he will see that I made it clear that I meant charity in the good sense and in no offensive sense.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I said that; I said the hon. Gentleman did not use the word in a repugnant sense. I think that is a fair paraphrase of what the hon. Gentleman said. I was not trying to quote him in any offensive way.
I was merely trying to point out that although we are glad that we are spending a certain amount of money in the colonial 1467 areas we are, in fact, only paying back a small portion of what we have secured from them. I go further than that in this connection, and say that I entirely agree with the other Members who have urged that we should seek co-operation between ourselves and our colonial brethren. But I would submit that it must be co-operation on the basis of equal status and the recognition that however backward economically or politically some of our friends may be in the colonial areas, nevertheless, what we are aiming at is a free and not an, enforced co-operation.
We all recognise that the various Colonial areas are in various stages of development and of social and other kinds of evolution, but that does not alter the fact that in an increasing number of these areas the demand is being made by colonial peoples that even if full democracy cannot as yet be established in our territories and, therefore, a minority must govern, there is no reason why the minority should not be a colonial minority rather than a white one. I cannot see any answer to that. It is up to us to persuade our friends to recognise that the advantages they will secure by continuous association with us are advantages which we shall not impose upon them, and that we wish to co-operate with them in an atmosphere of equal respect and of fraternal relationship.
As to the encouragement of real co-partnership between ourselves and the colonial peoples, I must say that I am disappointed that the colonial development that has taken place in the last few years under the auspices of the Colonial Development Corporation has given us little evidence of that real fundamental cooperation to which some tribute has been paid today. It is interesting to realise that on the Colonial Development Corporation and on the subsidiary bodies, of which I think there are five, there is only one indigenous representative, and he from the West Indies. I cannot believe that there are no other colonial peoples—so-called native peoples, although I do not like the term. In the whole of the colonial area there is only one such person whom we can select to sit on the Colonial Development Corporation in co-operation with people appointed from this island.
On further examination we discover that it is laid down in the original Act that those on the Colonial Development 1468 Corporation must be persons of experience, or, to quote the actual words,shall be appointed by the Secretary of State from amongst persons appearing to him to be qualified as having had experience of, and having shown capacity in, matters relating to primary production … and in making such appointments the Secretary of State shall have particular regard to the need for securing that adequate experience of those matters obtained in Colonial territories is at the disposal of the Corporation.In other words, the Act lays down that the directors of the Corporation—the Chairman and the Deputy-Chairman—shall be appointed from those who have had real experience of colonial work, have lived there and have had some years of experience there. Yet we find that possibly only two who completely fit into that category.
I come to my next point. I should like to elaborate it in more detail, but I cannot do so. The committees which are envisaged as necessary to be set up within a short time, and whose task it would be to pay particular attention to the needs and interests of the people in the locality, have, in fact, never been set up. I asked a Question about this and the answer was entirely unsatisfactory. I should like to hear from the Secretary of State, or whoever is to reply, why those Committees, which were deliberately proposed by the Act two-and-a-half or more years ago, have never yet seen the light of day.
Another point—is it not true that nearly all of those who are controlling the Colonial Development Corporation at present are drawn from big business? I am not saying that they may have not had great industrial experience and I am not trying to denigrate their services or their sincerity, but if we are to prove, by deed as well as by word, our desire to be associated in equality with our colonial brethren, I see no reason why we should not make it perfectly clear by appointing far more people than we have so far on to the Development Corporation who have had real experience of colonial life and, in fact, belong to the Colonies. I wish I could have spent more time developing that point, but the time is not available.
My last point concerns events at Enugu. I am sorry that more has not been said about it. Psychologically, I think we all agree that it was a disaster from the standpoint of the confidence we had been trying to nourish between ourselves and not only the Nigerians but 1469 others as well. That being so, I would simply express my appreciation of the fact that at this time labour experts are going out to Nigeria who may be able to improve the trade unionism of that district and re-establish confidence.
It may be true that trade unionism in the Colonial areas is not the same as trade unionism here. It may be true that it is more difficult to get some Colonial people to appreciate all that is meant by trade unionism. It is equally true that trade unionism may be dangerous, but so is everything else and, after all, it is we who go into the Colonial world, and having disturbed the traditional policy and economy of the African people for good or ill and we cannot say. "You are going into the industrial sphere; you are being employed in mines and other concerns; but trade unions are not good for you." I submit that one has to recognise that, for good or ill, trade unions represent the only means in the industrial sphere by which industrial and other workers can not only defend themselves but develop a sense of industrial responsibility.
I cannot understand why it is that, locally, more regard was not paid in the Enugu area to the disastrous position of the finances of the trade union. It was a registered trade union and there should have been regular audits of the accounts. That was not done and it reflects upon someone somewhere. If the audit had taken place it may well have been that things would not have got into that mess and that the unfortunate gentleman who was the secretary would have been, if not exposed, at least recognised as what he actually was.
I pay tribute to the Commission for its impartial work. I do not agree with what was said by one hon. Member opposite, but I should like to know why it is that in spite of the very severe criticism made of certain people in the administration, apparently nothing more has been done. I am not a vindictive person and I do not want to be vindictive, but I suggest that, if there were these severe strictures by an impartial inquiry, something more should have been done than merely leaving it there. After all, someone is responsible and something should be done to make it quite clear that persons have not just perpetrated this error and got away with it.
1470 I conclude after having spoken for just over 10 minutes, which is a fair compression of a much longer speech which I could have made. I congratulate the new Seceretary of State on the work he has done and I hope he will continue to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and, in a spirit of honest and true co-operation, help to remove the tragic tensions and suspicions which exist in many parts of the Colonies. Out of that we may get that real spirit of fraternity which at last will make the Commonwealth a reality.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Dr. Morgan (Warrington)
I am very glad to have an opportunity of speaking in a Colonial Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "We want to, also."] I have tried very hard all day to behave myself in as gentlemanly a way as I possibly could, despite all the remarks I have heard round about me and on the other side of the Committee with which I disagree. I want to concentrate on one particular part of the world, namely, the West Indies, which I happen to know; and whose people I know, amongst whom I was born and lived for the first 17 years of my life. I learned to love those people, and I have often told them personally that I regard them as my people, and I have always fought for their advancement, politically, economically and socially.
Far from agreeing with many of the things that have been said by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I can say that from the point of view of the West Indies, the British Government—any British Government—have no cause whatever to feel any sense of shame for the work they have done there since the abolition of slavery—and in spite of capitalistic exploitation. There is much more that could be done, but both sides of the Committee have produced very fine Colonial Secretaries. I am very sorry that the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley), is not here today, because, personally, I have always found him the most courteous, the most patient, the most painstaking Colonial Secretary I have ever come into contact with in the whole course of my Parliamentary career.
§ Dr. Morgan
Surely my hon. Friend can let me pay a tribute to an opponent without interrupting me. I know about my right hon. Friend. I have told him 1471 what I think of him privately, and he knows what I think of him.
Let us take some examples of what we have done. I take some pride in the nursing services in the West Indies, for instance. West Indian girls have become trained nurses and do excellent, useful work. I gave the Colonial Office some advice about the nursing and health services, and I must say that my right hon. Friend's predecessors—not his immediate predecessor, but his predecessors in Labour Governments—did take up the idea, and now we have done a very fine piece of work for nursing and the health services for the West Indian population. We have these West Indian girls as missionaries, so to speak, carrying forward new ideas of public health and medical work into the Colonies. That is a very fine piece of work. It is a very fine piece of social welfare work.
I come to a point where I think we have failed. At the present time, when colonial development is proceeding at such a rapid rate, whenever there is a conflict of ideas—and rather materialistic ideas are being spread about the world—I hope the British Government will do something especially to reduce the amount of capitalistic exploitation in the West Indies. The West Indians are a fine people capable of great intellectual development, as they have proved. They take their scholarships; they come here; they do brilliant work; they go back and do brilliant work; they go into the Services, they go into the professions, they do a great—I wish the hon. Member would keep quiet and let me speak. I do not like an accompaniment behind me when I am speaking.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
On a point of order. Would my hon. Friend specify to whom he is referring? There is no interjecting going on immediately behind him.
§ Dr. Morgan
I want to get on. I do not want to specify anyone. I can see the hon. Member afterwards and tell him, and I can tell him quite plainly, too.
As to financial exploitation, especially with regard to the plantations and sugar estates, the Americans are now coming into the Leeward Islands, and they are 1472 not recognising trade unionism. They are coming in with new ideas of social and racial discrimination and the colour bar, and saying: "Whatever the British Government may say, whether or not they recognise these organisations in this British Colony, we as owners of this plantation"—foreigners, if you like, in a British Colony—"are not going to accept that, and will have nothing to do with these organisations. "The Colonial Secretary should make a firm statement to the effect that these foreign owners of British lands and plantations in these Colonies must obey the British laws of the Colonies. One of the aspects of social welfare is the recognition of trade unionisms, and these foreign firms must follow the rules that British and local planters have to follow.
On this question of financial exploitation, I come to my favourite topic, the St. Kitts Sugar Factory Company. For nearly 20 years they have been paying an annual dividend on their original capital of 1,000 per cent. I make this statement now because I have been challenged in a report by a Conservative appointed by one of my right hon. Friend's predecessors. To think that a Labour Government should have appointed a well-known Conservative to a position of this kind, knowing his intolerant views! But they did it, and in this report he tries to ridicule me, saying that what I said about this factory being the quintessence of Satanic finance is quite out of place and absurd, using financial jargon to try to disprove my statements. I say again that either that company should alter its policy or be nationalised, as it would be if it were here under certain conditions: nationalisation for us, but not for them.
I beg the Colonial Secretary to look at this problem again, to see whether they cannot do more for this poor Colony where disease is rampant—not only venereal disease, which the foreigners brought in, and which they cannot help, but malaria and tuberculosis; all these are rampant. I am in constant touch with the doctors there, and I am going out there in January, at the request of the British Medical Association, to take part in a Caribbean medical conference—provided it takes place during the Christmas Recess, so it rather depends on the Chief Whip.
1473 In spite of what our opponents may say, I ask my right hon. Friend to remember that when they first started in this Colony the wages of the labourers were 1s. a day, and even now the wages of a labourer do not amount to more than £60 to £70 per annum, on which they have to keep their children.
That reminds me of the first incident I remember in my life when I was a small boy in the Colony. I saw the pathetic scene when, two hours before a black woman delivered her tenth baby she was cast out of her home by the white man who owned it, and I remember her black husband saying to this man: "Massa, you no believe in God." That has stuck in my mind for all these years.—"Massa, you no believe in God." I still remember the sight of this white Christian doing this unchristian act. In spite of all the good Governors and good civil servants, in spite of all the native-trained and native-developed men who have done governmental work, not supremely good, but at least moderately well, considering their limitations at the time, with a great desire to do good under very distressing conditions, that remark has stuck in my mind and has remained one of the guiding lights of my life.
I ask the Colonial Secretary to carry on with his good work, to continue with such work as that of the nursing service, which is really excellent, and to build up a really fine medical service. Let him take care that there is not that desperate exploitation by British financiers and speculators in the City of London. Let him prevent monopolies of sugar factories who combine sugar estates in a syndicated group, thus controlling the sugar of the whole island, and the Americans coming in and not recognising the trade unions of the island. I ask the Colonial Secretary to do something to try to reform the conditions among the people whom I respect and love, and for whom I desire to do something.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)
The hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) has early associations with the West Indies, and, indeed, enjoys many of those engaging qualities which have always endeared people from the Caribbean to Members on all sides of the Committee. I also imagine that he has 1474 Welsh associations, and in this he certainly shares a common background with the new Secretary of State. I should like to welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his most important office and to wish him every success in his tenure of it. All that we have known of the right hon. Gentleman in past years makes us confident that he will bring great industry and great integrity to problems which will demand both those qualities to the full.
In welcoming the right hon. Gentleman, it is no reflection on him to say that I believe that Members on both sides of the Committee regret the departure of his predecessor. It is rather strange that the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State, although he held office for three years five months, actually held it longer than any other Secretary of State since 1924, and that is a rather sinister commentary on Colonial Office administration. It is no reflection on the right hon. Gentleman to say that we regret the departure of his predecessor, but it is, I think, ironical that his predecessor who had made a study of the Colonies and who while engaged in the task of educating many people in the Colonies, enjoyed a great deal of education himself, is no longer a Member of Parliament, while his Under-Secretary, who so often did what no one in the House wants—except perhaps the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg): turn Colonial Debates into political demonstrations, is still, although clothed in the ermine of another place, a Member of Parliament.
In any Colonial Debate at this time, everyone's thoughts must go first to Malaya. No Debate on the Colonies can have any reality until we have settled the war in Malaya. I was very glad that the right hon. Gentleman did not use the words "bandits" or even "guerillas" but quite openly called our enemies in Malaya the Communists which they undoubtedly are. We wish every success, I believe on both sides of the Committee, to all who are fighting this menace, and to Sir Harold Briggs, on whose shoulders, as director of operations, the greatest responsibility must fall. We would like, too, through this Committee, as I am sure would be the common wish on both sides, to give our good wishes to the people in Malaya who are fighting that battle with us.
1475 We have lately had the pleasure of a visit here of the Sultans of Pahang and Perak and Johore, and we would like to thank them and their people, and all the people of Malaya, for all that they are doing—the hundreds of thousands of Malays who are joining with us in fighting this menace, and the large number of Chinese whose only fear is that if Great Britain shows weakness they may be left to the mercy of the Communists. To these people we would like an emphatic assurance to go out that we have no intention in this country of withdrawing from our permanent partnership with the people of Malaya.
As to Hong Kong, the one area of order and security in China, an entirely British creation, we rejoice that its trade, its university, and its connection with the Mother Country are all alike flourishing today.
My right hon. Friend drew attention, in regard to Malayan trade, to the strange fact that in the Blue Book, which has provided most of the material for this Debate, there is no reference to the great contribution made by the Colonies in helping to close the dollar gap, a contribution which has always been important and has become still more important since devaluation. Nor did the Chancellor of the Exchequer make any reference to this when claiming, as a Government achievement, the large improvement in our position in regard to gold and dollar balances. The truth is that Malaya, while fighting a real war, is at the same time doing more than any other part of the Empire to win the dollar war for us as well.
Malaya and the other Colonies are making a three-fold contribution. Not only are they supplying large quantities of much-needed raw materials to America, raw materials which will always be needed unless the Great American industrial machine is to close down, but they are also limiting their own imports of dollar goods, a gesture which many people in this country rarely realise. In addition, in cotton and tobacco, in particular, the Empire is also providing alternative sources of supply to dollar goods.
I should like, on this question on Empire trade to which I shall briefly 1476 return, to make some reference to the problems and difficulties of the West Indian sugar Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman spoke eloquently about these Colonies, but I do not think the Government can claim to have been very happy in their handling of the problem. There have been one or two maladroit actions in this matter, but I have no doubt that their heart is in the right place and that they also wish to help these Colonies with which our fortunes have been largely involved since the 16th Century. The Minister of Food did make honourable amends for a statement about the failure of the West Indies to carry out their obligations. He recognised on second thoughts that that was wholly unjustified.
The delegation, which has now largely returned to the West Indies, conducted their negotiations with skill and behaved with great dignity under difficult circumstances. This augers well for the future of that part of the world. We cannot but realise that the time may come when Imperial Preference will once more be of vital concern to the Caribbean. When our own supplies increase, or, the world supplies of sugar increase elsewhere, they may well find themselves in difficulty. The Committee cannot forget the agreements entered into at Geneva and Havana, under which we have in part tied our hands and prevented ourselves from giving aid to these Colonies which may one day be desperately in need of it.
I should like to ask the Minister a question of which, I am afraid, I have forgotten to give him notice. If he cannot give me an assurance now, I should be grateful if he would take an early opportunity to do so. Before the House reassembles in October the International Conference on Trade and Industry will have taken place at Torquay. At the present moment, the undertaking which prevents us from giving further preference in our Colonies can be renounced at 60 days' notice. There is a motion on the agenda of the Conference to extend this agreement to three years. I hope that the Government will do nothing to pledge us to such an undertaking without first securing the authority of Parliament for such an action.
It is the usual convention that all parties are bound by treaties entered into by the Government of the day. However, in view of the very narrow margin that 1477 separates the parties and in view of the widespread doubt and uncertainty in the minds of Members on both sides of the Committee, I do not think it wrong to say that no future Government of another complexion could feel themselves obliged to continue an agreement of that kind if it had been carried through without Parliament having an opportunity of expressing its own views.
In regard to the great problem of federation, on which my right hon. Friend spoke earlier this afternoon, obviously that is the eventual solution of one aspect of the problem of the Caribbean, but as has been pointed out from both sides of the Committee, the impetus must now come from the Colonies themselves. We cannot forget that to many of them the United Kingdom is nearer in spirit than the other Colonies in the Caribbean, and perhaps it is not realised that it is about 1,000 miles from Jamaica to Trinidad. Trinidad is suggested as the capital of the new Federation, and not the least of the difficulties involved is that a large number of people, who up to now have given good local service in the government of their own territories, would find it quite impossible to travel distances of that kind. These things have got to be weighed in the balance.
None the less, there are dangers ahead if there is not federation and if some nations there achieve almost complete independence within the Empire before federation has been accomplished. I feel that this great problem is right outside party politics, and any action taken by the Government to smooth the way for a free decision by the Colonies themselves will have the fullest support of His Majesty's Opposition.
I should like to say a word in regard to constitutional development. I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman began his speech by talking about economic development. I can assure hon. Members on the other side of the Committee, who may be suspicious of the motives of the Opposition, that when we stress the need for economic development we are not hoping to postpone inevitable political decisions, but it is because we realise that without economic independence any self-government within the Empire becomes not only an illusion but a positive danger. So we try to stress first of all the need for economic independence.
1478 I was rather alarmed when the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, used this phrase:The movement of political and constitutional advance never pauses and never halts.I do not know of any country in the world where the art of self-government has been successfully achieved where advance has never paused and has never halted, even in those countries where for generations the whole nation has been composed mainly of one race. I was a little alarmed at the phrase he used. The rest of his speech, however, did not give any indication that that was what the Government really means to follow.
In regard to political development, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) welcomed the whole of the Blue Book, but in particular the first paragraph of the first part, which stresses the prerequisites of self-government, which were five in number. He added another, that when power was handed over it should be to the country as a whole and not to a small unrepresentative oligarchy. In regard to those prerequisites, the Committee cannot forget that if they had been demanded when the Burma Bill was before the House of Commons, it would not have been hurried through as it was.
I should like to mention on this issue of self-government the position of three African Colonies where the problem is very complex. Reference has been made to the Gold Coast and the Commission sent out from this country after the lamentable riots of a year or so ago. Reference was made to the Report of the first Commission, the Watson Commission, which took the opportunity of going far beyond its actual terms of reference, and indeed attacked the whole conception of chieftainship in Africa. It ridiculed the suggestion that the African chiefs have a useful function to fulfil under new constitutional forms. It was left, strongly enough—but it was a very good thing that it should happen this way—to a commission composed entirely of Africans, led by Mr. Justice Coussy, in a Report which was rightly called in another place a declaration of faith, to affirm that there is still a considerable role for the best qualities of chieftainship in the Gold Coast and a big part for the chiefs to play in the future constitution.
1479 Indeed, it would be surprising if this were not so. The British have been in Africa for only 50 years, and the tribal system is far older than that. Indeed, in the Gold Coast itself the requisite which we and the Committee as a whole demand, that power should be handed over to the people as a whole, finds signal need when we think of the Ashanti and the people of the Northern territory who are desiring today to build up a barrier between Accra and themselves behind which they can live the life to which they are accustomed with the advantages which Britain has brought in her train.
In regard to Sierra Leone also, it is vitally important that in any future constitution the 150,000 people in Freetown and the neighbourhood should not be allowed to dominate or outweigh the two million people in the Protectorate who look to us for aid. So often it is the district officer from this country in territories like that Protectorate who knows more of what is passing in the people's minds than the urban dwellers on the coast whose roots are very different and whose interests are very often completely opposed. In the case of Nigeria, though the Report rather skates over the complications, we all know that there was a threat of dissociation from Nigeria itself by the Northern district unless they are granted parity with the Eastern and Western regions. After all, Nigeria has only been a country since 1914; it was two countries before that.
In all these tasks it is our belief that there is a paramount duty for Great Britain to fulfil. Of course, we could clear out, if we felt like that and were that sort of people, and try to play a purely trading role and turn tropical Africa, or the East and West coasts of Africa, into other Liberias so accurately called oligarchies and unhappy hybrids. But that is not the British rôle and we have no intention of doing that, and we will not be hurried into any action of that kind by agitation from within or agitation from without.
Our duty demands a faith in ourselves, and we have that faith, though I must confess that it is scarcely aided or proved when, as we understand, recently in Tanganyika 311 sorts of associations and individuals were asked semi-officially what form the new constitution ought to take. The Africans of Tanganyika might 1480 well be surprised when they heard this and begin to doubt our instinct for government. For it remains true—this applies whatever party is in power and however many changes may happen in the world—that of all races, as has been said, the African values leadership most. We have heard so often and we know so well from people who have spent their lives there that principles, however lofty are no substitute for direct personal contact, and it is our task to provide that contact to bridge the gulf between the man the African knows and trusts and the principle of which that man is the dimly understood living embodiment. Certainly in Tanganyika, of which I know something, the people most trusted by the Africans are those who say that a firm declaration that Britain intends to stay in Tanganyika and make this a permanent partnership is the best thing for the Africans themselves.
What a small proportion of our population are maintaining our honour and standing in the world. Leaving out Kenya, with its large European population, there are only 25,000 Europeans, most of them British, in the whole of the British tropical African Empire—one to every 1,600 Africans. This is a significant fact and it is one which the House in all the security of London today can ponder with pride.
And if there are those who think they are friends of the Africans and believe that the departure of the British will mean a golden age for the humblest people in Africa, I would commend them to have a look at Albert Schweitzer's book "On the Edge of the Primaeval Forest" with its picture of what can happen to generations of hard work by irresponsibility and ignorance largely born of the climate and disease for which they cannot be blamed but which are factors that have to be taken into account if we are to justify our position as a conscientious power.
We feel that if only half the effort now put by the younger people in Africa into political effort could be put into improving their economic and social conditions, what a continent we jointly could build up. It has been pointed out already in this Debate that of the African students, West Africans in particular, there are as private students five times as many lawyers as there are engineers but, on the other side, there are five times 1481 as many engineers as there are lawyers holding Government scholarships from West Africa, which shows that the Government are fully conscious of the problems we have to face.
As to the great problem of recruitment for the Colonial Service, the fact that so many people want to go to Africa into private business, and so few into administration, calls for renewed thought on the part of the Government and cannot be dismissed as the consequence of full employment at home. Indeed, in some ways the figures today are worse than they were last year, though in others there is an improvement.
But, of course, when we talk about what we can do in Africa and the sort of people we want in Africa, we are assuming that we have our best people still to send. No one would want to send second-rate people from this country to carry on the heritage of the past, but the history of our association with Africa and other parts of the Empire is studded with great names and that entitles this Committee to ignore some of the petty criticisms that has been made from time to time.
If I might mention two names—it is a little invidious but they both came in recently for a certain amount of public notice—one was that of the Bishop of Central Tanganyika who died only a few weeks ago and of whom one man in Africa quoted the old saying, "The white man in Africa with education and no religion is like firewood for hell," and then went on to show something of what Dr. Wynn-Jones had done in Central Tanganyika with the coming of a great industrial scheme into Africa disturbing the beliefs and views of centuries of African life.
Those are the sort of people who are upholding our authority and influence in the world. In a different field I would like to comment—no doubt all those interested in Malaya have already noticed this—that Mr. Ridley, who is 94 this year, has just received the Linnean Medal for 1950. It was he who, nearly 60 years ago, as Director of the Botanical Gardens in Singapore, first acclimatised rubber throughout Malaya, and can be said today to be the man who is doing more than anyone else to help us close the dollar gap.
1482 Now the task which we can jointly do is one of immense importance, its problem is increasing every day. The great rice problem cannot escape the notice of the Government. Some six to seven million tons of rice used to be the annual export of the rice exporting countries. This year it is expected to be two million. The population of Africa is growing far faster than their ability to feed themselves, and anybody who regards Africa as something that can be tapped without regard to an increase in production is wholly ignorant of the problem. If they think, for example, that the future lies in the Nigerian coalfields and that this will settle all their problems they should realise that if the production of coal in Nigeria, important as it is, were quadrupled, it would only equal four days' production in the coalfields of the United Kingdom.
And while this is happening, while the population is increasing, the Budget in Africa has gone up since 1938 by 500 per cent. What will happen if world prices collapse, or if alternative sources of supply are found, or American stockpiling ends? The answer must be in increased production in Africa itself, and this can come about only by the partnership of the European, the Asiatic and the African. We are thankful to feel that there are people in Africa today who are making this quite plain and who understand the responsibilities that are theirs.
I do not wish to keep the right hon. Gentleman from his answer to this Debate, but I think he will agree that something of value has emerged from all this discussion. There is so little about which we disagree. In the chaos of the world as it is today, events will affect the British way of life more than any other. As Pericles is once quoted to have said:We have more at stake than those who have no such inheritance as ours.We have certain disagreements over Imperial policy with the Government, but they are trivial compared with the measure of agreement in the colonial sphere. We like them, believe that the future destiny of the British Colonies is self-government within and not outside the British Empire. We believe that nothing else can be contemplated in the world as it is today. But, subject to this, we are in favour of the fullest extension of self-government. 1483 In this task we have to carry the people with us.
It may be necessary to make a new approach to the problem of propaganda. It would be futile to suggest that the papers in West Africa, for example, must always be treated as if they were serious and reputable pamphlets or newspapers. It may be that a new approach to the law of sedition or the law of libel may be necessary. Whatever the Government think necessary in that field we would certainly support, but we must carry the bulk of the people with us.
In this task we have many of the most excellent of our fellow citizens on whom to depend; and the world as a whole, not least America, is beginning to realise the contribution which the British Colonial Empire can make both materially and morally. We associate ourselves today with the message of goodwill to the Colonial Service and to the Ministers who are for the moment in charge of that great Department.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Dugdale)
It has almost become a truism to say that while Colonial Debates are not always as well attended as they might be, they do reach an exceedingly high standard and this one is no exception. I think everyone will agree that from hon. Members on both sides of the Committee we have had contributions which were thoughtful and constructive.
I would add my humble tribute to both those people who have been mentioned by previous speakers. Of the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) I would say that if there must be such a thing as a Conservative Colonial Secretary—and it seems that, due to our Constitution, possibly there may have to be from time to time—I cannot think of a better one than the right hon. Member, for whom I have the greatest possible respect.
Of Mr. Arthur Creech Jones, who was until recently the Colonial Secretary, I would say this, which is the highest tribute I can pay. I came to this office in a quiet way, having taken an interest in colonial affairs from time to time, and having had ideas of my own of what ought or ought not to be done. Time and again 1484 I thought "This is something which should be done, let us go ahead with this." And time and again I found it had been done by the right hon. Gentleman. He had carried on in his quiet and unassuming way, which often made people think he was not doing as much as he really was; but he accomplished what was little short of a revolution during his tenure of office.
The speeches have been divided into three categories, and I should like to divide my reply into three categories—political, social and economic. Naturally, some hon. Members have touched on all three. I should like to deal first with the political category. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) dealt with the question of the colonial Press. He raised a difficult point of very great importance. It is true, as the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) said, that we can exaggerate the importance of some of these publications. Some of them are of an almost ludicrous character. Whatever we may say about our own Press, its exaggerations and its extraordinary stories, they cannot compare with some of the articles which appear in the colonial Press. I was informed today that in one colonial paper there was a headline in large type which said:Woman gives birth to seven foot snake.That was a piece of information which was apparently vouchsafed to the people of the Colony, and which they had to believe. Even our strangest and lowest newspapers do not do that.
It is the firm belief of His Majesty's Government, and of the Governments of all colonial territories, that the solution of this difficulty does not, in the long run, lie in repressive laws or in any form of Press control. We must avoid that somehow. These measures are distasteful to any of us who are concerned with the welfare of our Colonies, just as they would be distasteful to anybody concerned with the welfare of this country. Subject to that, we must ensure that mischief of an irreparable nature is not done by these various organs of the Press.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington also spoke about elections in the Gold Coast. He referred to the statement which had been made by the C.P.P., that they did 1485 not intend to take part in government and that they intended rather to do their best to break it up. I can only say that it is impossible to say anything about this until they should come into power. I hope they will realise that if they do such a thing as to try to break up the Government they will do untold harm, not so much to this country as to their own country. I hope that, if they should get responsibility, or when they get it, it will be brought home to them, and they will realise that that is not the way to carry on any Government.
Our information about the elections is somewhat contrary to that of the right hon. Gentleman. There may have been exceptions here and there, in the somewhat strange cases such as the right hon. Gentleman described. But, on the whole, the elections were conducted in an orderly manner and, by and large, the ballot was secret in spite of the possible exceptions about which the right hon. Gentleman may have heard. I am glad to reassure him on that point. That is our information, such as it is.
I turn now to the social problems in the Colonies. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies) made a most helpful speech on the subject, and he and the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), all referred to the trade union conditions, with particular reference to the unfortunate events which took place at Enugu. We agree emphatically with my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North, that there should be no whitewashing and that we must ensure that such conditions obtain throughout all our Colonies that events like those at Enugu can never occur again. That is not just a pious generalisation. We are, in fact, taking steps to that end.
Since the war, efforts have been made to build up labour departments in most Colonies. For example, most Colonial Governments have introduced a fair wages clause. That is something which did not exist in the years before the war. In 1947, Mr. Creech Jones sent a circular to all Colonial Governments briefing them on every aspect of wage-fixing machinery in the United Kingdom, so that they could understand how to carry out negotiations. Since 1945, particular 1486 attention has been drawn to the training of trade unionists, so that we hope to find them acting with as great a sense of responsibility as do the leaders of the great trade unions here. So much for the trade unions and the problems connected with Enugu.
The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) made what was, in the middle of an otherwise excellent Debate, a most unfortunate contribution. I am afraid that I must use very strong language about it. It was reactionary and harmful, and I do not think it was representative of the hon. Member's own party. I would only reaffirm that racial discrimination does not play any part in the colonial policy of the Government. It never has done.
§ Sir I. Fraser
Would the right hon. Gentleman allow me to say, in view of his considerable charges against me, that I am not aware that I made any racial discrimination whatever? I indicated the facts, as I see them, but made no racial discrimination.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I do not want to get involved in discussion of Governments outside the Colonial Empire, but I only say that the hon. Gentleman did, I gather, say that he was in favour of what is known as the principle of apartheid, and that is a principle of which the Government, so far as the Colonial Empire is concerned, are not in favour.
§ Sir I. Fraser
These are very important charges which the right hon. Gentleman has made against me. I did not say that I was in favour of it. I only said it was applied on the Continent of Africa, and should be taken into account by any sensible Government.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am very glad to know that the hon. Gentleman is not in favour of it and I would gladly withdraw, but, so far as I heard—and I shall be interested to read his speech tomorrow—it was definitely in favour of what I could only call racial discrimination, and totally out of keeping with all the speeches made by his hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Of course I was here, and I say that that speech was totally out of keeping with the speeches of the hon. Member's hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate) rose—
§ Mr. Dugdale
I have not got much time; I cannot give way. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire asks if I was in the Chamber; I certainly was, though not at the time when the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) made her speech, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State told me it was an excellent speech and that I had missed a great deal by not hearing it. I cannot reply to it as fully as I would have liked to do, except to say that there is now an assistant in the department dealing with the education of women, and that that assistant is a woman. That is a relatively new appointment in the Colonial Office.
I pass now to the economic side. A number of hon. Members dealt with this matter very fully. My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) made a very powerful speech in which he dealt with the operation of pilot schemes designed to set up farms in which colonial peoples could take part, maybe, in small groups, in what the Russians call collective farming. These are, in fact, being set up and are meeting with considerable success. We are trying pilot schemes of one kind or another in different forms of agriculture, and we intend to extend them as rapidly as possible.
My hon. Friend also mentioned, as did the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) the question of geological surveys. That is a matter of very great importance indeed, but I am sorry to say that there have been in the past relatively few geologists engaged on this work. I am not trying to make a party point, but it was the fact that there were not many geologists, and we are now trying to expand the geological service, which is still far behind the geological service in this country, that of America or any other highly developed country.
We have done all we can to enlist the American geologists. The Americans have offered the help of their geologists, but we have had some difficulty in securing the number we need. Those difficulties are being overcome, and we are gradually obtaining the services of American geologists to add to the number of our own geological staff. I hope, therefore, that this important work can be continued.
1488 The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington spoke particularly about locust control.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am sorry; I should have said the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Frederic Harris). But if the right hon. Gentleman has not thought about it, I will now tell him about it. As the Committee is aware, the desert locust survey has been working out a number of plans for dealing with locust control in the areas northwards of East Africa. Dr. Uvurov, who is the director of the Locust Research Committee, is now in Nairobi to attend a conference which will consider what steps can be taken to meet this serious threat.
§ Mr. F. Harris
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it appears to have got out of control again?
§ Mr. Dugdale
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman means that the scheme has got out of control, or whether the locusts have got out of control. The scheme is, in fact controlling the locusts.
§ Mr. Dugdale
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington—I know I am right this time—dealt particularly with, and asked me particularly to reply to, the question of the development of North Borneo and Brunei. There has been very considerable development there. There is a 10-year plan which includes the development of roads, port facilities, and, what I know everyone will recognise as being of vital importance, rice production by mechanical means. It includes also the development of health and educational services. The sum of £7,500,000 will be spent on those three services, and the money will be raised by taxation, loans and grant. Therefore, I think that the right hon. Gentleman can be reassured that considerable development is taking place in that part of the world.
The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. G. B. Craddock) and also my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby—in what, if I may be allowed to say so, was an exceptionally fine speech—dealt among other things with the subject of soil erosion in East Africa. I can only say that I have myself read a very remarkable book. "The Road 1489 to Survival," which dealt with soil erosion all over the world. I am as fully seized with that problem as any amateur can be, and I hope to learn more about it in East Africa, and to see what can possibly be done to prevent what is a very serious menace, not only to the British Colonial Empire, but to large parts of the world.
A number of hon. Members, particularly the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire, referred to the dollar problem and to the great contribution now being made by the Colonial Empire to the earning and saving of dollars. I do not think it is always recognised just how great that contribution is. There are two different aspects; the one is the earning, and the other is the saving. With regard to the earning, there are, of course, the well-known examples of rubber and tin from Malaya and cocoa from the Gold Coast. But there are also a number of smaller dollar earners which do not receive much publicity, but which, in their own way, contribute a great deal.
For instance, there is the arrowroot produced in St. Vincent which, I think I am right in saying, satisfies the whole of the supply of the United States. Then there are canned fruits, preserved ginger, and Turkish tobacco from Northern Rhodesia, kyanite from Kenya, salt from the West Indies and asbestos from Cyprus. Each is doing its part in producing something or other to help in the dollar crisis. Not only that, they are each—what is of just as great importance—dollar savers. For example, there is sugar in the West Indies, coffee in Northern Rhodesia, cotton in Uganda and Nigeria, to say nothing of large quantities of oils and fats, hides and skins. All these contribute enormously to our ability to switch from dollar imports to imports from the sterling area.
§ Mr. Eden
It is, of course, very interesting to hear about dollar earners, but I asked whether the Government could let us have figures of the contributions which each of the Crown territories made to dollar earning. They would be very interesting to the Committee, and encouraging to the Colonies themselves.
§ Mr. Dugdale
That is a point for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has the overall survey of our dollar position. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman, if he wishes, can take an opportunity of asking the Chancellor 1490 whether he is willing that such an overall figure should be given.
The Colonial Empire, in short, is doing an immense amount of valuable work in helping to solve the dollar problem. I have dealt with the political, social and economic points that have been raised by various Members. It is a very big task upon which we are now engaged. The whole Colonial Empire is, in fact, engaged on what is nothing more or less than a major economic revolution. It is slow; perhaps it is very slow sometimes, but it is profound. It may not show much this year; but in 30 or 40 years, maybe even before that, we may find such countries as Uganda, Malaya, and Nigeria, to mention only three, as highly industrialised even as Australia is today. It is not past the bounds of possibility—and that in addition to their very great agricultural development, and to their increasing development of minerals.
It is vital that this development should take place in an orderly manner, and that it should not be the old scrambles of early capitalist development in this country. It is vital that it should bring prosperity and happiness to the native populations, to the inhabitants who built it, and not poverty and degradation, as happened very often before.
Our aim—and I am not ashamed to say it—is to help to build up social democracy in our Colonies as we are building it up here. Our aim is to see that the people of Nyasaland, of St. Lucia and Fiji—to mention three about as far apart as they well could be—have the same opportunity as we have to live full lives, to see that their children can go to schools, and that their houses are not hovels to live in. Our aim is to see that in all these developments, social, political and economic, they themselves shall play an ever-increasing part, and that they themselves should do it without distinction of race.
That is our aim. It cannot be achieved overnight. Indeed, I think it is the aim of a very large number of people on both sides of this Committee. It will take years, it may even take a decade, but we intend to achieve it. It is the task to which we have set our hand, and we are determined not to look back until that task has been carried out.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Is it proposed to publish the report of the Colonial De- 1491 velopment Corporation in time for there to be a debate before we adjourn? Many hon. Members have deliberately kept off this subject in the hope that it would be so.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I, too, have refrained from dealing with this for the same reason. The report is to come out shortly. Whether there can be a Debate on it is a matter to be settled through the usual channels. The report will be out very shortly indeed, in time for there to be a debate if a suitable date is chosen.
§ To report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.—[Mr. Sparks.].
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.