§ Ordered for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
On a point of order. I should like to ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, upon the Debate which is about to take place. Since this is a Development and Welfare Bill, I suggest that it would be a great help to most of us if you could indicate to what extent one might refer to the contribution made to development in the Colonies by the Colonial Development Corporation. I hardly think that we could exclude it, but you may wish to guide us in the matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
I should like to see how we get on. As far as I know, this should be a pretty wide Debate.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. John Dugdale)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I think that hon. Members will agree that during the past quarter of an hour or so we have had an exhibition of friendliness from both sides of the House which almost surpassed any previous Thursday discussion on business. I hope that this Bill, non-controversial as I think it may be, will be debated in that atmosphere. This is a short Bill but it is important to a large number of people. I should like to make it clear at the outset that the moneys for which we are asking, and the moneys that have been granted by way of Colonial development and welfare by His Majesty's Government here, are only a part of those moneys which are in fact, devoted to development and welfare. Two-thirds of the money for colonial development schemes is provided independently of the Government, either by the Colonies themselves or by loan. The other one-third is that which the Government grant, and it is that which we are considering today.
The existing Act of 1940, which was amended in 1945, makes available the sum of £120 million during the 10 years from 1st April, 1946, to 31st March, 1956. The new Act does not extend this period, but it raises the total from 1136 £120 million to £140 million. The £120 million agreed to in 1945 was not enough for the essential requirements of colonial development up to the end of March, 1956. After the war we made a slow start. It was inevitable that there should be a slow start after the war-time dislocation. One could not immediately launch forward all the great development schemes which the Colonies wanted and to which they were entitled.
The start was slow, but the pace was rapidly accelerated. Today we find that, of the original £120 million, £85,500,000 has already been allocated to individual Colonial Governments, and £23,500,000 has been allocated to various services such as research and other services which could best be co-ordinated or directed from the centre. All that money has been committed. In addition, £11 million in the general reserve is almost all committed. Therefore, although somewhat less than half the total provision will have been spent by 31st March, 1951, when the 1945 Act will have run half its course, there is every reason to suppose that the remainder which is already fully committed will be absorbed by 1956.
To what use will this money be put? In the first place, it has already been announced that a sum of up to £1,500,000 will be given to Malta in furtherance of such schemes as she may ask help for from time to time as a result of the Schuster recommendations. In the second place, we intend to continue the very important research work which is carried out in various Colonies under past Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. Thirdly, we want to make provision for any new schemes that may arise. After all, any Colony is likely, from time to time, to have some new scheme which it thinks of the utmost importance, and which His Majesty's Government may think to be of the utmost importance to the development of that Colony and, in so far as it helps that Colony, to the development of the whole Empire.
There is one difference we propose to make in the distribution of these moneys. Instead of allocating the greater part to individual Colonies, we shall keep most of it—indeed, all of it—in reserve for allocation. Rather than allocate the money to individual Colonies, it will be 1137 kept in reserve from the start to be used for individual schemes as they develop in whatever Colony it may be.
Clause 2 removes a restriction which might prevent giving help to territories which have had it up to now. I quote Malta as an example. This was previously regarded as a Colony possessing responsible Government within the meaning of the Act, and a special Section had to be inserted in the Malta Reconstruction Act, 1947, enabling the Colony to continue to be eligible for colonial development and welfare grants. This Bill provides consequentially for a repeal of that Section. As further constitutional progress takes place in the Colonies, similar situations may arise again. It is undesirable that territories should be excluded automatically from colonial development and welfare assistance when they have acquired responsible Government or that special legislation should have to be enacted in each individual case.
Moreover, and this is a point to which we attach very great importance, the term "responsible Government" is exceedingly difficult to define. It is most difficult to define whether a Colony with an advanced constitution is or is not excluded from the benefits of this Measure by virtue of having a responsible Government. We think that it is better that the provision should be kept flexible, since the Secretary of State, by virtue of Section 1 (1) of the 1940 Act—which is carried over into the 1945 Act—is enabled, but not obliged, to make schemes of colonial development when he thinks them suitable.
In that way, it can be left to the Secretary of State to decide whether any Colony should or should not have such assistance, whether it has responsible Government or not. Naturally, so far as the Secretary of State himself is responsible to Parliament, the ultimate responsibility rests with Parliament, but the Secretary of State, acting through his own powers, will himself make such allocations as and when he thinks necessary.
We intend to pay special attention to schemes designed to strengthen the economy of each Colony; for example, opening up new areas and the growing of cash crops, which would be encouraged in order to earn or save dollars. In this connection it is important that I should 1138 make clear that we are aware of the very great contribution which the Colonies have already made to the dollar problem. In 1947, the dollar earnings and spendings of the Colonial Empire were roughly in balance; in 1948 and 1949, the Colonies were net dollar earners to the extent of 150 million dollars a year. The present estimate of the net dollar earnings of the Colonies for 1950, based on complete figures for the first six months of the year, is over 300 million dollars, a very considerable sum.
I should like to give a word of warning. When we come to consider requests which some territories will no doubt make from to time for additional funds, we shall feel bound to have regard, no matter how admirable the purpose for which the money is sought, to the ability and willingness of these territories to increase their own taxation within the limits of their capacity. We attach considerable importance to this.
I had hoped that my remarks might be non-controversial, and they would have been had it not been that last week the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), who I think is speaking for the Opposition today, spoke of what he alleged to be the Government's shortcomings in respect of the Empire. The hon. Gentleman also spoke of the wonderful work which he said his party would do for the Empire were they to be returned to power. I can only say that, to adopt the old phrase, deeds speak louder than words. Including the Act passed by the Coalition Government, since 1945 this country has set aside, through the Colonial Development Corporation, the Overseas Food Corporation and various colonial development and welfare schemes, no less than £270 million of public money for the development of the Colonial Empire, a very considerable sum. What a pity it is that the Opposition did not do this when they were in power before the war, but the fact is they did not.
Finally, I would add that the money proposed in this Bill will come from the 45 million people who live in these islands. It is a deliberate sacrifice on our part of the immediate satisfaction of our own needs for the sake of the further development of the resources of the Colonial Empire and the improvement of the conditions of those who live in it. 1139 The Bill, like its predecessors, is an act of faith in the Empire, and, as such, I commend it to the House.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State for the Colonies must have profited almost unduly by the reintroduction yesterday of the Ten Minutes Rule. Though that should act as a sober warning to us all, I am afraid that I cannot undertake myself to be quite as brief as that, but I shall certainly undertake to be a good deal briefer than I was on Friday last, for on that occasion there was an opportunity for making a declaration of faith, as indeed the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State himself did, in circumstances that particularly lent themselves to rather spacious argument.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very brief speech, in which he said that he hoped that the harmony shown at Question time might prevail throughout today's Debate. May I express the hope that the harmony at Question time today, which, I agree, was almost unsurpassed on a Thursday, was due to general friendliness on the part of the Government, and not, as I venture to think, to the fact that the Government are no longer the masters of Parliament but have to appear and act warily in this House of Commons.
Today, we are to discuss a Colonial Development and Welfare Bill, and, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, there is no political controversy in this or similar Bills. I personally hope that, on both sides of the House, whatever the chances and changes that the future may bring, there will be no political disagreement on the need for Measures of this kind. So we wish this Bill a speedy passage through both Houses and useful achievement in the Colonial territories themselves.
However, I think it is desirable at the start to point out one fact in particular. We are asked today—and we willingly do it—to grant more money for colonial development and welfare, but we ought not to lose sight of the fact that there has been a steady fall in the value of money for the last five years, and that fact, indeed, is one of the reasons why more money is wanted now. After all, 1140 this Bill must be read in the light of the general financial policy of the Government. The Government have only actually spent in the Colonies one half of the money which Parliament has allowed them to spend, but, at home, lavish and often inconsidered expenditure has robbed what has been spent elsewhere of a great deal of its effectiveness. Incidentally, how many of our calculations of what we are, in fact, doing for the Colonies through this and other Bills are valueless because we are quite unable accurately to gauge the value of what we are doing today?
When the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill of 1945 was introduced, £17½ million was to be spent annually, and £120 million in ten years. Four years later, the annual sum was raised from £171 million to £20 million. Today, the annual sum is to be raised to £25 million, and the ten-year sum to £140 million. All this is very desirable. But we must remember that, largely because of what the Government have done in other spheres, where unhappily they have been more active than in this colonial sphere, the value of the pound has fallen to 16s., and so the £120 million that was allotted in 1945 is now worth only £96 million. I do not think it is unreasonable to point out that fact at the start, because it must be remembered when we discuss this Bill today.
There is general agreement about the need for this Bill. I believe that all hon. Members would agree that it is a consequence of the original Act of 1940. We have heard today a very sombre statement about the need for air-raid and other precautions in the event of another war, and the Bill is introduced today under the shadow of possible impending danger. The original Act itself of 1940 was introduced in the very darkest moments of the World War. It was indeed brought into this House—it was actually the former House on this spot—when the enemy were at the Channel ports and invasion was daily expected. It was the first act of the war-time Coalition, and it was definitely an act of faith, for the whole project depended on our assurance that we were going to triumph in the end.
Later, we had the Act of 1945 which increased the sum. It has always been our view that the Colonial Welfare and Development Act and the fund that it 1141 provides are one way, but by no means the only way, in which we can get much needed capital into the Colonies. Indeed, the British taxpayer is, unhappily, quite unable to do all that we would like to do for colonial development, and it would be a tragedy if our duty in the Colonies was frustrated by lack of capital. The Government's recent report on the Colonial Territories contained a very significant phrase; indeed, it is the first time I can remember such a phrase being used. It said:The time has almost come when finance may be regarded as a major limiting factor in colonial development.My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley), when commending the 1945 Act to this House, said there should be a fund of this kind available through the Colonial and Development and Welfare Bill, but he also mentioned various other ways in which much needed money might be invested in the Colonies. He mentioned development corporations, the normal sources of current revenue and reserve funds in the Colonies themselves balances which the Colonial Governments could build up, and private enterprise.
I think it is the duty of this House to try, as far as we can, to create the conditions under which all these various sources can flourish and play their part. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of what was largely, I agree, an uncontroversial speech, made a jeer at the Conservative Party on the grounds of our failure, for example, to set up development corporations and similar bodies in pre-war years. I will not—and I doubt whether I should be in order if I attempted to do so—detain the House by going in detail over the long and wholly honourable story of many generations of help in colonial development, but I must remind the right hon. Gentleman of this fact, that the mere granting of money is not the only test.
We know that £165 million have been given to the two great corporations, and £55 million to the Overseas Food Corporation, but £32 million of that £55 million has already gone on the groundnuts scheme, and where are the groundnuts? But, much more important than anything else, where now is the confidence of that African population, brought from far afield to Kongwa, for whom, for 1142 example, a gigantic modern European hospital was built at Kongwa, when they see the greater part of this elaborate scheme dissolved. Whatever the conclusions that may be reached by the working party now investigating the matter, it will take a wholly different form from that which first brought these people away from their homes and planted them at Kongwa.
I do not think that, in the long run, it will be held that the best friends of the African people are those who spent £32 million on the groundnuts scheme and then have to confess that it was very largely a disaster. It may well be that the honourable sons of this country who first started the great copper works in Rhodesia, the rubber and tin undertakings in Malaya and the cocoa growing in West Africa, even though they did it, in a large part, for profit, may, in the long run, turn out to be better friends of the colonial peoples among whom they lived and worked than the theorists who talk so much about their own immaculate attitude today.
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that despite the shortcomings of the groundnuts scheme, much of the expenditure in connection with that scheme ought really to have belonged to the development and welfare scheme? I mean the provision of basic services—the docks and railways. Surely, the people of Africa will be grateful for those things?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
We hope to have an opportunity soon of going into the actual accounts when, I am afraid, the taxpayer will find that there has been a tragic expenditure on facilities that will never be needed for any other enterprise in that district. The conclusion I would draw from this particular episode, into which I would not have ventured had not the right hon. Gentleman himself made some references of a partisan character, is that Ministers of the present Government, when wandering about East Africa and surveying the consequences of State enterprise, should both in that, and, indeed, in many other fields, walk a little more humbly and a little less arrogantly than they might otherwise be inclined to do.
The second source which I said should be available to help in the Colonies was 1143 the revenue raised in the Colonies themselves. As hon. Members will know, there are very large sums at the present moment to the account of the various produce marketing boards in West Africa and elsewhere. These boards buy the crops from the local growers; they pay the producers less than the market price, and they put the difference into a fund which is to be a cushion against future falls in price. The reasons for this wholly honourable scheme are largely twisted and misrepresented, and the suspicions of local growers are largely exploited. The Conservative Party have no doubt whatever that the original policy was quite right. At a time when consumer goods were in desperately short supply, it would have been fatal to have done anything else. But now we are glad to hear from the colonial reports that consumer goods are in freer supply. Therefore, one argument at any rate can no longer be quite as strong as it was.
None the less, it is still very necessary to have some cushion against a fall in price, and this, as everybody interested in primary production knows, is by no means impossible in Africa or elsewhere. Nevertheless, these funds do appear to be getting out of hand. They are already well over £100 million, and it is calculated that by the end of this year, in West Africa alone, they will be equal to the entire sum of £140 million voted by today's Colonial Welfare and Development Bill.
The Government boards are not, in the strict sense of the word, responsible to Parliament. If Questions are put down as to what is happening, I believe the probable result might well be that while the Ministers would answer on questions of principle, on questions of day to day management Members would be referred to the board. The most serious thought should be given to what is to happen to these funds which might well be turned to creative tasks in the territories from which they have been drawn. While in no sense advocating the sudden unloosing of vast sums of money in the areas concerned, I think it might well be considered whether some part of these funds could not be put with advantage to tasks for which the taxable capacity of the British people at home is today, alas, inadequate.
1144 Another source which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West, in his speech on the Bill of 1945 was private investment. I must confess that I am more concerned about private foreign investment than about anything else at the moment, because many of us did hope that there would be quite considerable investment, both private and public, from the United States in the British Colonial Empire. We were amazed to read in the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation a few months ago that only 2 per cent. of money invested from private scources by United States investors was, in fact, invested in the British Colonial Empire.
We would very much appreciate it if the Secretary of State were able, at the close of this Debate—if he cannot I quite understand his difficulties—to give us some indication as to what is happening in regard to American investment. We have had the announcement of a number of commissions from America to the British Colonial Empire, and reports of the United States Chamber of Commerce and their Department of Commerce, and we have seen singularly little result. As far as I can make out, it is largely the difficulty about the transfer of earnings and capital which is holding up investments and also, in large part, political uncertainty.
It is a curious thing that the E.C.A. Act of the United States, for European aid, protects the United States investor against what are called the two chief political dangers in European investment, namely, currency difficulties and the confiscation or seizure of property. I believe that at the moment it is being considered by Congress in the United States whether some protection should not be extended to investments in Dependencies in Africa and elsewhere of European countries. But this is not a very satisfactory or honourable solution and we ought to be able to give better security than that ourselves.
Seeing what has happened, for example, to the Irawaddy Flotilla Company in Burma, where only a fraction of the claims on the company has been paid, or to the Rangoon Electric Company, or to one-third of the timber concessions throughout Burma, which have been taken, I must say that the investors in America are not being unreasonable when 1145 they are a little prudent about colonial investment. I hope we shall give them the encouragement they need by an indication of our own views in the matter.
I have only one other observation to make, and that deals with a particular Clause in the Bill over which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State skated rather lightly. This was Clause 2, and unless hon. Members have taken the trouble to read the Bill carefully they may not be altogether conscious of the importance of Clause 2. I am not necessarily disagreeing with the insertion of that Clause, but it does raise a great question of principle, and in some ways raises a new problem, or brings into focus a new problem.
Hitherto, all the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts have granted large sums to Colonies under the definition of a Colony in the 1940 Act. In that Act the expression "Colony" was defined as "A Colony not possessing responsible Government." There has never been a definition of "responsible Government," and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we want to keep our institutions flexible; and a society like the British Empire lends itself very ill to precise definitions. I should not wish to see in a society of States, of varying degrees of personal responsibility, a rigid definition which would appear to divide people arbitrarily.
However, the Colonial Secretary's predecessor did attempt a definition, in a debate a year or two ago, and some of the 'difficulty has arisen from that definition. He said responsible Government existed when Ministers in a Colony had been appointed to handle the affairs of the territory and were responsible to the Legislative Council for their actions. Hitherto, the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts have excluded from their ambit Territories that have responsible Government, whatever that may mean, and the only definition was that given by Mr. Creech Jones some years ago.
When, years ago, Malta needed special help, the Malta (Reconstruction) Bill was introduced to the House, in 1947. It was generally acclaimed on all sides, though there were differences as to aspects of it, and I am glad again to feel that today, as a result of Sir George Schuster's mission, some further help is being given to that most deserving island. But because Malta had Ministers who were responsible for 1146 internal affairs, and because the Governor of Malta had no reserve powers on internal matters, special Bills were thought to be necessary in regard to Maltese affairs. Today, by Clause 2, all Colonies, whatever their status, will be entitled to colonial development and welfare grants.
I think it would be generally agreed that, when any attempt is made to define what is a responsible Government, the Colonial Secretary should be guided by certain considerations. These were put pretty clearly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West, in the Debate on the Malta (Reconstruction) Bill, and I should like to remind hon. Members briefly of what he said. Though it was applied specifically to Malta, it does apply also, and will apply in future more and more, to other Colonies moving towards more responsible Government. My right hon. Friend said:Nor do I think that it is wholly satisfactory that a Government which has got real self-government and responsibility should be in receipt of annual payments … from this country. This country will have no means at all, as it will in all the other Colonies, of checking how the money is spent, on what purposes it is spent, and whether the expenditure, when it has been carried out, has been wise. Nor does it foster a feeling of self reliance, which is a necessary accompaniment of governmental and ministerial responsibility, that it should be possible for a responsible self-governing Colony to draw upon funds of this nature."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th January, 1947; Vol. 432, c. 532.]I think those considerations should be in the mind of the Secretary of State when considering grants in future under this Bill. We are not asking him, nor do we want him, to define responsible government, but those considerations should certainly be in his mind. If it is argued that this country has given no less than £72 million since the war—half of the whole sum under this Bill—to Burma which has left the Empire, I must remind hon. Members that a large part of this—in the latter years—was done and, in future, it again will be done, by separate and conscious Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament, as, for example, in the approving of the Anglo-Burmese Treaty of 1947. When Parliament signed a cheque it knew exactly what it was doing.
I think we should all agree that in a general Bill of this kind, giving the Secretary of State wide powers to give 1147 money for many purposes and to any Colony which, for obvious practical reasons, cannot be specified in the Bill, we shall not thereby be considered, in this House, as authorising him to make grants where he himself as Secretary of State does not retain ultimate responsibility as to how these grants are spent. Subject to that qualification, and that alone, I commend the Bill to the House and hope it will have an easy passage.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
I hope that you will feel, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that a closer association between North and South Rhodesia and Nyasaland, if it can be achieved on grounds that will commend themselves to all parties concerned, will be of sufficient importance to the development of those lands to allow me for some brief moments to comment on the supplementary questions asked on that issue when the announcement was made in the House yesterday.
I am sure that I and some of my hon. Friends who asked questions from these benches would all like to say to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State that, in asking those questions, we did not for one moment doubt his resolute determination to safeguard the interests of the African peoples which are very much the concern of the Colonial Office. May I assure him that we were asking the questions in order to indicate, not to him but to many others concerned, that in this House there are large elements who feel most deeply on these points and want to make sure that development is not impeded by arousing suspicion or going against the wishes of African people.
Coming to the Bill which we are considering, I am particularly glad that my right hon. Friend, in introducing the Bill, said that the new moneys would very largely be held in reserve to be allocated to certain definite schemes, and would not be, as it were, given out to the Colonies pro rata according to their size or population and then just used as earlier moneys were used, rather as a little bit of additional finance for a large number of schemes which the different Colonies would like. If these moneys could be used much more for strategical purposes 1148 than for tactical purposes, I am sure that would be an advantage.
I should like to refer particularly to a situation to which our attention is drawn on page 55 of the recent Annual Report of the Colonial Development Corporation in relation to the British Honduras and the various islands in the West Indies near to that Colony. It is pointed out in the Report that the really chronic situation of over-population in the islands cannot be met unless there is a very large development of some of the under-populated mainland territories, andThe rate at which developments such as these can be pushed forward will depend more upon the construction of roads and railways than upon any other single factor.I wonder whether my right hon. Friend will be able to inform us what is at this moment the state of preparedness of any large-scale plans to construct roads and railways in that part of the world.
I should like to follow up some of the things which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) said about the possibility of our finding other funds for general colonial development. I wonder whether we should not look again at some of the very large profits which must be accruing to companies which deal in products whose world price has rocketed enormously in recent years. When saying this, one naturally has in mind rubber, tin and gold. Looking back on things I have said in the past, I recall remarks of mine which were very disparaging to the actual technicians and servants of big companies, who go out and work in the mines, plantations and so on—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
With respect to gold, I think the hon. Baronet is a little ungenerous. For example, in Malaya from which I have just returned, a great complaint is that gold is fixed by international agreement at a price which does not give them a reasonable profit, while they have to compete in the open market for rubber and other materials which they may need, against people who are allowed to charge the world price.
§ Sir R. Acland
I wish the hon. Gentleman had waited a moment before interrupting. I was in course of saying that I look back with regret at statements which I have made in the past in disparagement of technicians and such 1149 people who work in the mines, plantations, and so on. I feel that these people are doing a very wonderful job of work for the whole community. But when we see prices rising, when we see that the prices of rubber and tin, for example, are so high, I cannot help feeling that we ought to look carefully and ascertain whether out of the very large profits received, we ought not to ask for some special contribution for the development of the Colonies concerned. I apologise if I am wrong about gold in Malaya; accept the hon. Member's detailed correction, but I am informed that the gold companies operating on the Gold Coast have recently declared quite unprecedented profits.
I want to deal next with yet another of the alternative funds to which the hon. Gentleman referred—namely, the very large funds which are accumulating in the hands of the marketing boards which have recently been set up, particularly in West Africa and also in Uganda, and maybe elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman said that we—I take it that he means we in this House—should consider what should be done with these funds. I am not sure that that is correct. These funds are in the hands of marketing boards in Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Gambia, and Sierra Leone, and those marketing boards, quasi-Government corporations as they are in so far as they are responsible to a Legislature, are not primarily responsible to this House. They are responsible to the Legislative Councils of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Gambia and Sierra Leone. Surely it is not going to be for us to say what is to happen to this money. It is their money. It has accrued owing to the rise in the world price of their produce. It should be spent as they want to spend it and when they want to spend it. It is for them to decide, and not for us.
Already they are spending some 10 per cent. to 25 per cent. of each year's annual favourable balance on education, research and development. If, indeed, there be no world slump, they will very soon be in a position to spend the whole of each annual surplus. As I said when we debated the Colonial Development Corporation Report, the important issue for us, in our straitened circumstances, is going to be to spare the man-hours and materials to manufacture all the goods which they will want to buy for their development when 1150 they begin to spend these very large sums of money.
I would not pursue the point on which I just touched in the Debate on the Colonial Development Corporation, about the relative achievements of private enterprise as compared with such organisations as the Overseas Food Corporation and the Colonial Development Corporation, except for the fact that the hon. Gentleman himself took it a little further in his own speech. I suggest to him that in developments of an agricultural character—developments which are concerned, not with mining operations or setting up factories and so on, but with the better use of the land—private enterprise as understood by the party opposite is an entirely unsuitable instrument for doing the job.
§ Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester) rose—
§ Sir R. Acland
If the hon. Member will let me give my reason, I will then give way. As far as I can understand it, the private ownership of large areas of land on which such development may take place is something which is very largely not understood in terms of African tradition. Private ownership of large estates is something which we understand and often almost take for granted because we have had it for some 300 years. To them it is something quite new, however. It may be a surprise to some hon. Members opposite to know that the land on which the most promising development of the present time is going forward—that is, the Niger Agricultural Project in Mokwa—is not owned by anybody. To our way of thinking, that is a quite extraordinary fact.
Is it owned by the Emir? No, it is not. Is it owned by the Government? No it is not. Is it owned by the Project itself? No, it is not. Are there any title deeds? No, there are not. The land is under the most marvellous form of common ownership one can think of, because nobody owns it. There has simply been an agreement amongst the large number of people concerned as to the way in which the land should be used, and the idea that this Project could be taken over and run, or that a similar Project could be set on foot, by what anybody can call private enterprise, is a misconception and misunderstanding of the ways of African folk.
1151 If one said that such a project could be initiated by the rural district council or that, when the C.D.C. have got it going, it should be hived off and taken over by the rural district council, then one would be using language which at least would have a meaning, but to say that private enterprise could do this kind of thing is quite wrong. The Germans did that kind of thing in their plantations in the Cameroons before we came there, but it is not possible now.
There is another subject which I must mention and which I believe is crucial to this question. It will not be any use providing the money or sparing the material and the man-hours necessary to manufacture the goods which the West African development boards might wish to buy unless we are also able to recruit enough of our own people—technicians of all kinds—who will have a sense of a mission to serve the people of the Colonial Empire. I am convinced that the situation in connection with recruits, such as agricultural officers, is critical in many Colonies. That is not an exceptional case, for the same thing applies to veterinary officers, forestry officers, school teachers, engineers, surveyors and every branch of administration.
I wonder whether a little of the money which we are now voting ought not to be spent on an investigation into how we could improve this position. I am pretty sure that what I say here is entirely non-controversial and that hon. Members opposite will agree with me completely.
§ Sir R. Acland
I am glad to see the hon. Gentleman indicating assent from the Front Bench opposite. Based on that assent, I want to ask: supposing we went to the secondary schools, public schools, agricultural training colleges, universities, and other similar institutions in this country, am I satisfied, or is any hon. Member here satisfied, that the men and women in those schools, training colleges, and so on are even aware of the fact—am I putting it too high?—that the future prospects of the values which our civilisation holds to be important may depend on whether we can send out to the Colonial territories enough people with 1152 enthusiasm to do all the manifold jobs which have to be done there? Is there an awareness of that state of affairs amongst the men and women in these schools and technical colleges? I very much doubt it? I suggest that the Government need to take steps to ensure that we go and tell them.
There is a question I should like to ask—I confess that I ought to know the answer, but I do not know it—and it is this: do we exempt from military training young men who, at the age of 18 or whatever it is, commit themselves definitely to the Colonial Service? If we do, I am glad; but if we do not exempt them, is it not something which we ought to do at once? Have we gone to the schools and training colleges where the likely recruits are to be found and have we, in all humility, tried to find out from them what it is that, at the moment, is not attracting them to or is even repelling them from the Colonial Service?
Some people say that they do not get enough money, but I do not think that is the answer. I think the answer must be found in something else. Is it insecurity? Hon. Members opposite nod their heads and, beyond doubt, that must be an element. Ought we not to reconsider the need of giving security to our people? I think this is, in a way, a vicious or a beneficent circle, according to which way it happens to turn. If we do not get enough people into the Colonial Service, then the colonial situation will turn bad all round, will lead to chaos, and we shall get blown out in one way or another. If, on the other hand, enough people do go out, the situation should develop promisingly and progressively and for long years to come the African peoples will welcome our assistance and will give proper remuneration for it.
Ought we not at least to consider some way of giving an assurance to those who are recruited that, if the worst comes to the worst, if major disasters occur, then to the best that we are able we shall safeguard their position? I feel that this is a matter which requires urgent consideration at a time when we are dealing with a Bill for the development and welfare of the colonial peoples and, subject to that, I commend the Bill most strongly to the House.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
Like other speakers in this debate so far, I do not intend to be controversial. Indeed, this is not a Bill upon which any part of the House could feel controversial, because it is a continuation of a policy which was started some years ago by a Conservative Government, which was carried out by a Coalition Government and which today is being continued by a Labour Government. I hope that any remarks I may make, either of an inquiring nature or as criticism, will be looked upon as a constructive contribution to the debate.
The first question I should like to ask is whether this sum of money which is being requested today will be adequate for the purpose for which it is intended. I remember that when the Act of 1940 was passed through this House, we were in a very difficult time in our history, and a very courageous step was taken at that time to look after our colonial affairs, although at the time our own fate was in the balance. In 1945 I was asked, with some colleagues, to go as chairman of a delegation to visit certain Colonies. I had just left the Forces at the time. We visited half-a-dozen Colonies in the Caribbean. There we found a very great welcome. They had not seen anybody from the home Parliament throughout the war. We also found certain apprehensions, and questions were asked, especially in connection with this move for colonial welfare and development.
The question which was asked in one or two Colonies was—what was going to happen in 1945 when the Act of 1940 expired? During the war they had been unable to spend hardly any of the money voted for colonial development and welfare and they wanted our assurances that the Measure would be extended and that the money would be provided for another period. I was unable to give them that assurance but, at any rate as far as I was concerned, I promised to recommend it. In fact, I did recommend it when I returned home and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) was wholly sympathetic, well understood the situation, and introduced the Bill of 1945, which not only increased the sum to £120 million but also provided that any money accruing over one year might be spent in the succeeding year. That point was one of the defects 1154 of the old Bill. If the money was not spent in the original year, it could not accrue. It had to go back to the Treasury. I am very glad that that has been put right.
In spite of that, however, I found, as a Member of a Select Committee of this House, reporting on Colonial Affairs in 1948–49, when we visited certain of the Colonies, like Nigeria, and took evidence, that in spite of the 1945 Act and the gratitude it gained, the schemes were still held up; and complaints were made, as appeared in our Report, to the effect that the job of colonial development and welfare was not being pursued. The reasons given were that the raw materials were not available, the technicians were not available, and schemes put forward under the 10-year plan were held up too long by red tape—in the Colonial Office in particular.
In the Report of the Estimates Committee for 1948–49 on the Colonies there are some excellent recommendations in connection with colonial development and welfare and other matters. I ask the Minister whether he has examined those recommendations and conclusions in that Report on colonial development, and how many of them he has accepted and put into operation, because in all those conclusions and recommendations there is matter for urgent consideration by the Colonial Office. I shall not go into them all now, because I want to make my speech as brief as other hon. Members have made theirs, and give a chance to everybody else who wants to talk in this Debate. I simply commend this Fifth Report of the Select Committee to the Minister and to the Colonial Office, and I trust—
§ Sir P. Macdonald
The Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates on colonial development. The hon. Member can get it from the Vote Office.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I think the number is 181. Anyhow, it is the Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, 1948–49. I strongly commend its recommendations to the Minister.
1155 Apart from that, what are the sources and means for the development of our Colonial Empire? Certainly, this legislation, as my right hon. Friend who introduced it in 1945 pointed out, was only to be considered as a pump primer. Other means of raising revenue, of course, must be found, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), such as local taxation and other things. It is obvious that we are not going to develop the Colonial Empire by a fund provided by this House. It must be done by other means—the Development Corporation, for instance. The contribution of the Overseas Food Corporation so far has not been very great. Certainly the groundnut scheme is not to be looked upon as a great measure of colonial development. I hope, if it is, it will not be succeeded by others of the same nature.
Other means must be found, and I have always maintained in the speeches I have made in this House—and I have always been supported by the Government, at any rate in their speeches—that we must encourage private enterprise to the utmost to invest in the Colonial Empire or we shall not have a Colonial Empire, any more than we should have a British Empire today if it had not been built by private enterprise. What encouragement are those engaged in private enterprise getting—for instance, from this Government—to risk and invest their capital in colonial enterprises today? I do not think they are getting very much.
A number of people whom I have met when travelling through Africa and other parts of the Empire have complained to me that when they put up schemes or ask for licences from the Government, they are held up very often for a long time, and great obstacles are put in their way. If we want to develop the Colonial Empire, we are not going to do it that way. We must cut red tape to the minimum and give every encouragement not only to Government enterprises—the Development Corporation enterprises, which in their own way are very valuable—but also to people who are prepared to risk their capital in the Colonial Empire.
My hon. Friend has told us that the amount already invested by the Americans is something in the nature of 2 per cent. Yet we were told by the late Colonial 1156 Secretary that he hoped for and looked forward to American investment in our Colonies. Why have they not invested more? I know quite a number of Americans who were anxious to invest in our Colonies, and made surveys of our Colonies with a view to investment, and who have been discouraged for one reason or another.
Two reasons were given by my hon. Friend. One was the uncertainty about currency, and the getting of dividends, if one had any, out of a Colony owing to exchange restrictions. The other was political uncertainty in some of these Colonies, and the frightening speeches made by some of the wild men in politics in some of our Colonial Territories. Quite frankly, when one considers what is going on in some of our Colonies today, and the treatment meted out to people of our own kith and kin who have invested their capital in those territories. I do not blame the Americans for hesitating to invest in those lands.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)
May I ask the hon. Gentleman a question? I understand his argument is that there are various kinds of obstruction put in the way of private enterprise. Can he then explain, if that is so, how it is that the United Africa Company has become so great a commercial power in Africa?
§ Sir P. Macdonald
—long before we got these politically minded people we now have demanding control of Government—
§ Sir P. Macdonald
They are still there, but, believe me, they are not as happy today as they were in the past, and I will tell the hon. Gentleman why. I will give one illustration of what discourages people in other countries today from investing capital in our Colonies. We have only to look at the way our own people who have invested their capital, who have invested their whole lives, in building up industries in those countries, are being treated today.
I will give one illustration. The Gold Coast has a new Constitution, and the Report on the Constitution 1157 suggests that some representation ought to be given to those who have a large amount of capital invested and accruing from certain industries. It is suggested that the Chamber of Mines and the Chamber of Commerce should be represented on the Legislative Council. Well, one seat has been offered to the Chamber of Mines and one seat to the Chamber of Commerce in the Gold Coast. Both the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Mines think that quite inadequate representation—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—considering what they represent in the territory. When we consider what they have done for the Gold Coast—
§ Mr. Sorensen
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to ask him another question? On the same showing, would he advocate, therefore, that the Americans should have representation in this House because they have given economic assistance to us?
§ Sir P. Macdonald
Not at all. But we are not dealing with Americans. We are dealing with our own British subjects in British territory, and they said—and rightly said—that they did not consider one representative of the Chamber of Mines and one representative of the Chamber of Commerce to be adequate representation for them, considering the enormous amount of interests which those Chambers represent in the Gold Coast. It was eventually agreed by the Select Committee that they should have further representation. But what has happened! They have been allowed three members each, making six members in all, only one of whom is allowed to have a vote. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite cheer.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
The fact remains that that is a comparatively new precedent in the history of the British Constitution; it applies in no other legislative Chamber in the British Empire, and it is a very dangerous precedent indeed. What is being done? In a country built up entirely by Europeans, whose capital, investment and enterprise have built up the mining industry, the cocoa industry and the commercial interests—
§ Mr. Awbery rose—1158
§ Sir P. Macdonald
Please let me finish. These people are being discriminated against today in this new assembly. This is the creation of the colour bar in reverse. Imagine the humiliating position of white men sitting with Africans, the Africans having the vote, and some of them probably having no experience or interests there, except in the tribe they represent. To ask them to legislate is ridiculous. These British representatives are expected to sit in the same assembly with those Africans, but only one of them is allowed to vote. They have protested violently against this and I support them.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
The same situation arises in Nigeria, where a new Constitution is being considered. The same proposition was put forward there, but it has been rejected. I should not be surprised if the Colonial Secretary overruled that objection as he has overruled the objections in the Gold Coast. But I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is piling up a store of trouble for himself if that is the way he is going to try to administer the Colonial Empire, and Africa in particular, in future. If he is going to discriminate against the white European in favour of Africans who have no administrative experience whatsoever, some of whom cannot even read or write—
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. James Griffiths)
Perhaps I might intervene for a moment. In a sense we discussed this problem of the Constitution last Friday, and I do not propose to go into it again in detail because it would be repetition. I must say, however, that there is no discrimination against anyone. This is an admission of specially interested representation in the new Legislature in the Gold Coast. That is not discrimination. That is recognition.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I think the hon. Gentleman has been going too wide of the Bill. He really must relate his remarks to the Bill before the House. The matters to which he has referred are not so related, and I therefore hope that he will not pursue this topic.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I apologise if I have gone outside the scope of the Bill. I was asked to give illustrations of what is 1159 discouraging people from investing in our Colonial Empire. I have done that, but in view of what you say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will not pursue it.
As I said at the outset, unless some encouragement is given to capital investment from outside sources, including foreign sources such as dollar investors in America, and also from dollar investors in Canada, who are very anxious to invest money in these enterprises, particularly in the West Indies, we shall not get any dollar investments at all—and I do not blame them in the present circumstances. What must be done is to remind these people, who are clamouring for greater political advance and demanding more and more freedom in self-government, that they cannot have it both ways. When I was in the West Indies, they were querying this question of colonial welfare and development, and I can sympathise with them. They were not able to derive any benefit from it during the war, and I said I would see that, as far as I could, I would try to have it put right. It has been put right, but the second thing they demanded was that they should have a new Constitution—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is again departing from the Bill. The Bill has no relation to the Constitution of the West Indies or elsewhere. He must relate his remarks to the matters contained in the Bill.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I am sorry if I was again departing from the Bill, but I was leading up to the question of where welfare starts and where it ends, what is political development, and what is colonial development and colonial welfare. That has not been defined to me yet, certainly not by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I hope that, in winding up the Debate, the Secretary of State will give us some indication of what he considers "welfare" in this Bill means, where colonial development starts and ends, and whether the question of grants of this kind to self-governing Colonies has been raised before. What is a self-governing Colony? I hope the Minister will define that as well, in order that we may have some indication of what colonial welfare and development means in present and changing circumstances.
1160 I did not intend to introduce controversy into this Debate, but I have had these matters brought to my notice very forcibly by people who feel very strongly about them, as I do. Knowing these territories myself, I, like others, commend this Bill to the House, and I hope that it will achieve all the objects for which it is intended.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
With the permission of the House, I shall not deal immediately with what the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) has said. However, if he is staying in the Chamber, I hope he will listen to some things that I have to say later on.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) referred to the Act of 1940, and he gave us the impression that that was the parent Act; that it was the first statute which provided for annual sums of money to be devoted to colonial development and welfare. As I understand it, that is not so, because in 1929 the Labour Government introduced a Bill. Certainly it was a Bill of very modest dimensions, and had not in mind solely the development of the Colonies. It will be recalled that the condition of the country then was very poor; there was much unemployment, and it was hoped that that measure to help the Colonies would incidentally provide work for the unemployed of this country. Indeed, that loomed very largely in the discussions at the time.
At that time £1 million was set aside. This sum was to be made available for 10 years, but the schemes then under consideration were what I might describe as more of a material character. They did not provide for the social services. They dealt with a vast list of items such as the building of means of communication, improvements of internal transport, the construction and improvement of harbours, the development and improvement of fisheries, forestry, surveys, reclamation—a huge list of things. It seemed to me to be a very ambitious list. The ideals were all right, but the money to do it was very inadequate for the purpose. We found that, owing to world conditions in the 1930's, the Colonies who felt the disadvantage of that condition of poverty were not able fully to utilise even those modest resources.
1161 In 1940, as the hon. Gentleman said, we had a new Act, which was introduced by Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, then Minister of Health and previously Secretary of State for the Colonies, under which it was proposed to increase the sum from £1 million to £5 million, and £500,000 was set aside for the purposes of research. As the hon. Gentleman did not fail to point out, there were certain snags about that Act. One as the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight said, was that unless the money was spent in a given year, it was returned to the Treasury. There was no carrying forward of a surplus or balance until the next year or subsequent years, and obviously that had very great disadvantages, because when we are considering development, all the expenditure is not likely to occur at the same level in any given year. One starts one's plans, and the expense is build up as the scheme takes shape.
I was glad to notice, however, that when the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) introduced his Act in 1945—and in parenthesis may I say how much we regret the absence of the right hon. Gentleman from our debates in this House, and even more the reason for it, because this is a subject very close to his heart, and we hope that we shall soon have the advantage of his presence—the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, he took note of what his hon. Friends and others had said and abolished this principle of returning any surplus balance at the end of the year. It was arranged that in future such surplus as remained should be available to the sum of about £17½ million throughout the scheme.
The 1945 Act doubled the amount which had been made available by the Act of 1940, and also extended the term, which was originally ten years, from 1941 to 1951, to 1956. In fact it more than doubled the amount, and the figure was £120 million to be spread over 10 years. It has been asked already by some hon. Members, whether the sum that we are proposing today is enough. We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman that it is proposed to increase the amount which is available in one year to £25 million. We find that in 1949 we had to give powers to increase the sum from £17½ million to £20 million, and, in the cause of research, the House empowered the Department to spend £2½ million.
1162 Today, when we are asking for further money, we must ask ourselves certain questions. Is this money enough for the job confronting us? Is it necessary? There is no doubt that the money is necessary. Are the Colonies doing what they can to help themselves? Are there other sources from which the money to do the job could be raised? Let me take the last point first. The Colonial and Development Welfare Scheme is not a sort of large national assistance board which purports to fill in the gap when there are no other means available. As I understand it, the idea is to enable the colonial people to get on to their own feet and to help provide the basic services.
As we learnt from the last colonial annual report, the amount of money which is made available under this Bill and under previous Acts is supplemented very considerably by the territories themselves. In fact, we are told that no less than £400 million worth of work in connection with some 300-odd schemes are on the books and taking shape. Certainly we should look to the individual territories to help themselves, and some of them are no doubt doing so, but obviously the ability with which they can do it varies from territory to territory. For example, territories in the South-East Pacific are much more wealthy than some of the territories of tropical Africa.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the fifth annual report of the Select Committee on Estimates. In that connection, he and I had the opportunity of visiting Nigeria, the largest of our Colonies, and we were able to see for ourselves some of the frightful problems which confronted the administration there. There were few basic services in terms of water, health, sanitation and hygiene. There was nothing near universal education. There were not sufficient doctors or dentists. All these elemental considerations, if I may term them such, could not be overtaken.
Dr. Ormiston, Regional Deputy Director of Medical Services, told us in 1948, when he was asked to say what was the worst obstacle to health in the Colonies, that it was undernourishment. The people were starved or half-starved and had not the physical energy to produce more goods and more food. However desirable it is to have railways, docks and harbours, development of minerals, and so on, in a country to lift up the standard 1163 of life, the individual, as a human being, as a brother, and as a fellow citizen in this great Empire of ours has the first right to know that in terms of bread and butter, to put it no higher, he will be able to live with some measure of security and also have such things as water supplies and decent hygiene in his village—in fact, all those things which are necessary if there is not to be a spread of epidemics and dreadful diseases and a shortening of life.
These were the deplorable conditions in some of the Colonies. These things, if we hope to continue in partnership with our brothers overseas, must be made our first consideration. Nevertheless, there is an obligation on the people on the spot, with their modest resources, to do what they can to help themselves. So far as I know, the Government are not opposed to individual territories raising loans, as, indeed, the Nairobi Corporation did recently, with some success, and are not opposed to well-meaning private people putting in money, provided that they observe the proper conditions of employment and see that the workers who are employed are real partners in what is going on.
As the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight said, some of us are very apprehensive about the economic development taking place in some of the territories today. I have in mind tin, rubber, copper and all those other commodities which are such a profitable source of income in some of the Colonies. When we remember that tin is being sold at £1,100 per ton, it seems fantastic that in Nigeria, for example, men are getting only 1s. 6d. for an 8-hour day—it was raised recently from 1s. 3d.—with some welfare services thrown in. I have had the opportunity of seeing some of these men at work. It is no use seeking to exorcise Communism if great fortunes are being made in these Colonies and the workers are deriving no benefit from them.
Under the leadership of my right hon. Friend, much is being done, I am glad to say, to set up collective organisations in the shape of trade unions, but is he certain that the right type of man is always being sent out to do the job? Some of us read about the disturbances in the Eastern Province of Nigeria, where some 20 miners were shot, and we were 1164 very unhappy about what happened. It seems to us that something might have been done. I do not wish to exacerbate feelings on the matter, because we have to show a due sense of responsibility, but I think that we should keep an eye on the type of person who is given the opportunity to work a concession, and see that the interests of the workers are protected.
I do not see anything wrong in sending people from outside Colonies to give a hand in the development of these countries, provided that they do not exploit the people. The problem is to what extent these countries can help themselves, and to what extent private capital and corporations from outside can help. The money we are voting today is sadly inadequate to meet the needs of these countries. While we cannot afford any larger sums, we need to take into account the fourth point President Truman made some time ago. The problem of developing these countries is getting beyond national confines. The development and welfare of the Colonies and of the rest of the backward areas should be a matter for the better-off nations of the world.
I was much impressed by what is being done for the Colonies under E.C.A. Some negotiations have gone on to supplement the grants given under the Colonial and Development Welfare Fund. The Colonies have also done much to help themselves within their narrow confines. Help has also been provided by people from outside. The fact remains, however, that even if this sum were three times the size, it would be sadly inadequate to do the job. Reference has been made to the fact that this is a burden carried by the people of this country. It is a tax on the people of these islands, and we should rejoice at the opportunity to give a hand in this work. But the dimensions of the problem are such that it is beyond the capacity of any one country to carry the burden.
I hope that the Foreign Secretary—I hope he will accept the invitation of the gentlemen in Moscow—will, with his knowledge of working-class conditions and of trade-unionism, take into account the possibility of nations working together, not only in a political and economic sense, but, as Mr. Reuther has 1165 suggested, in the sense of the rich nations of the world allocating some part of their national income for the improvement of living conditions of the backward people everywhere. That is the real answer to our problem.
It is no use, when trouble breaks out in Malaya, Nigeria, The Gambia or Sierra Leone, saying that it is Communism and putting a few chaps in prison. If there are hungry bellies, people will resort to desperate measures. We have to listen to what is reasonable, and do what we can to improve the standard of living. Let these people recognise that in us they have someone who is not seeking to exploit them, but someone who abhors war and is anxious that mankind can live in peace. Let us recognise that we shall find it more profitable, instead of blowing our money on war and destruction, to devote our resources to an increasing extent to improving the lot of people throughout the world.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
I am delighted with the remarks that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies) has just made. I am sure that they will be noted in the appropriate quarters, particularly across the Atlantic. There is no shortage of goodwill on either side of the Atlantic or of the House for helping our territories overseas. The problem before the House today is to decide what type of help can best be given to these countries.
The first point I should like to put is one I raised with the Secretary of State some three weeks ago, that we should clarify the position as between various Government Departments and private enterprise. The question of the Colonial and Development Welfare Fund is before us today. "Welfare" is something which is clear to us all Under "development" I should like to see non-profit making development, by which I mean roads and development on the non-productive side. By and large, on the Government side, production should be carried out by the Colonial Development Corporation, and the actual work of production done by the Corporation, and private enterprise. If only the Government would set out clearly where the lines are drawn as between these various types of agencies, it would result not only in an outburst 1166 of enterprise, but in an increase of cooperation from the other side of the Atlantic.
The main question with which I want to deal is scientific development. Those who have studied this problem realise that the population of Africa is likely to double in the next 35 years, with no hope of Africa producing the quantity of food required in the same few years by the traditional methods of food production. Therefore we have to call in support of our production considerably more scientific assistance than we have used hitherto. As the hon. Member said, food and diet are absolutely fundamental, as is the research on diet going on in this country and elsewhere. In addition, there is the production of raw materials and, to some extent, the development of secondary processes in these territories.
For instance, between Lake Victoria and where the Nile enters the Sudan there is hydro-electricity available equivalent to the total output of this country in 1937. When that is tapped over a considerable period there will be an enormous quantity of cheap electricity. I am not thinking in terms of five or 10, but 50 years ahead. We must seek to attract certain types of production to that part of the world and further south, on the Zambesi—we might process iron ore, using hydro-electric power, and then we can export semi-finished materials.
But we shall not be able to achieve such results unless we call to our aid modern scientific ideas. May I mention one or two which will make a difference in the future? Grass leys are being developed at Birmingham University, for pasturage in the U.K and in overseas territories. Then there is the production of B.12 which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Roland Robinson) and I mentioned a month or so ago. There is also the production of soya bean for vitamins. By chance, I crossed the Atlantic recently with an American expert on diet. He told me that investigations show that soya beans with certain vitamins, form a vegetable protein which can replace the shortage of animal protein, which is one of the diatetic deficiencies in all these underdeveloped territories at the moment. This sort of scientific knowledge could be of the greatest use there. If I may interpolate here one point which is 1167 probably controversial, the policy of the Ministry of Food at the moment in Africa on soya bean is such as to discourage its output at the very time when we ought to be developing the output of these oil seeds. I know this, because I am interested as a producer.
Again, the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) mentioned in the Debate we had a month or so ago a certain process for making building blocks. The same process can be used for making roads, and is being tested in this country. When it has been successfully tested, the application of this knowledge to some of these territories overseas might be of vast importance in opening up inexpensive second and third class roads of an all-weather nature. One point which might be of more topical interest is the production of newsprint from sugar cane bagasse. Also, in the Upper Nile there are vast swamps full of papyrus. Use can be made of these raw materials, but only by the intensive application of scientific knowledge, because these projects have been under consideration for 30, 40 or 50 years. Of course, papyrus has been used for paper for centuries, but a modern method of producing satisfactory newsprint from these raw materials needs more urgent application of scientific knowledge.
Much has already been done on these lines. For instance, the Wellcome Tropical Laboratories have been operating overseas for 50 years, and the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation with its plant studies and plant scientists have made tremendous contributions to the scientific development of these territories. In the United States the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Department of Commerce have a vast fund of knowledge which is available to individual scientists on that side of the Atlantic. Individuals in Government service who have worked in the Embassy at Washington are, in fact, in personal contact with what has been developed there. We have to get this scientific knowledge and apply it more to our dependent territories.
One of the hopes of this country for the future is to remain a great centre for higher education and research. The Colonial Office must have its own strong scientific service in order to spread scientific knowledge to other parts of the 1168 world. So I ask the Secretary of State to tell us what is being done to strengthen the scientific service under the Colonial Office. We know plans have been made because they are mentioned in passing in the Command Paper produced on 11th July last. Directly and indirectly one knows there is a growing scientific service under the Colonial Office, but is it being assembled quickly enough? Are the top scientists being attracted into its service? Is it being sufficiently co-ordinated with what is being done under the Lord President's office?
I believe, too, that when knowledge is made available it should be published in simple form. For instance, "Time" magazine often has quite useful short articles on medicine and other topics which I have found useful. That kind of short article reproduced for the layman overseas would be helpful. Do not let us keep this scientific knowledge to a few technicians, but let us spread it abroad among many people who can make use of it. Only the other day I was discussing with the Minister of Food for Ceylon the problem of soya. I discovered that he had the same experience as I had in Africa 15 years ago, that while people were prepared to grow it, they were not prepared to cat it! So it is not alone a question of production but of education in the broadest terms in order to teach people, to eat these foods once they are produced. If that gathering of scientific knowledge can be brought into this country, and then spread amongst our dependent territories, it will do more than many paper constitutions in the next 40 or 50 years to solve the real problem which faces us all.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Awbery (Bristol, Central)
Up to now we have listened to a harmonious discussion of development in the Colonies, but I shall strike a discordant note. I shall deal with the welfare of the people in those Colonies. When we come into this Chamber we take our places on a rubber seat. We have been told that the Woolsack was stuffed with wool in order to remind statesmen that wool was the staple industry of the country. I have wondered whether these seats are made of rubber so that we shall continually remember the men working on the rubber plantations in Malaya and other countries.
1169 So far we have been discussing the development of the Colonies from the capitalist point of view. For instance, the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) said that people will not invest their money in the Colonies because we are treating them badly. All his concern was for the investor.
§ Mr. Awbery
I shall come to the question of 1,000 per cent. in a moment. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) has convinced me that we are not increasing the amount we are to give to the Colonial Department. He said that the original £120 million agreed to in the development scheme is now worth £96 million. If, however, we add the £20 million we are discussing this evening to the £96 million, we get £116 million; that is, £4 million less than we decided four years ago. The amount of money that we are giving to the Colonies by the Bill is infinitesimal. It is not sufficient to meet the elementary needs of the people of the Colonies. There are 40 Colonies and 60 million people concerned, and I have worked it out that this money averages £2 6s. 8d. per head over the 10 years. It is not a great amount.
As long as we own these Colonies we are the custodians of the welfare of the people. However much we may dislike it the welfare, the prosperity and the happiness of the natives and the people of the Colonies should be our first objective, rather than the making of profit. I would support the Bill with greater enthusiasm and zeal if the money that we are voting tonight were not £140 million but at least £240 million.
§ Mr. Smithers
If profits are not to be made, would the hon. Gentleman tell the House where we are to get the extra £100 million?
§ Mr. Awbery
I shall come to the question of profits in a moment. In the meantime, I hope the House will allow me to develop my argument. We spent £60 million on the Singapore Base in 20 years, and there was never any question where the money was to come from.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
If the hon. Gentleman had been in the House at the time 1170 he would know that there were a good many questions about it.
§ Mr. Awbery
The money was obtained. The point I am making is that there is no difficulty in finding the money when it is required for military bases. I have come to the conclusion that the amount which we are voting tonight is chicken feed, a flea-bite, and is quite inadequate to meet the human needs of the colonial people. Those needs have in the past been a secondary consideration to us, but we must now make them a first consideration, otherwise we shall lose the Colonies—I make that prophecy. We have to win the confidence of the people of the Colonies, not merely establish profit-making machines there.
I want to explain the insufficiency of the money by taking one Colony, Nigeria, as an illustration. What applies there will apply more or less to all the Colonies. The need for welfare schemes there is shown by the fact that they have one doctor for every 133,000 people. In this country we have one doctor for every 1,000. They have one hospital bed for every 3,700 people and here we have one for every 250 people. They have 10 dentists for 23 million people. Their infantile mortality is 110 per thousand while here it is 40. In Nigeria, T.B. is the cause of 10 per cent. of the deaths. One of my hon. Friends has told the House that in his opinion tuberculosis is caused mainly by malnutrition.
Let me turn to the education of the Colonies, where only 660,000 out of 8 million children of school age have any kind of elementary education. There are 10,000 in secondary schools, which means that only one child out of every 800 children of school age is able to attend a secondary school. I think that I have said sufficient about Nigeria to prove that the money we are voting is quite inadequate to meet the needs of its people.
While I am talking about Nigeria I would ask the Minister why the Tudor Report of 1946, which dealt with the question of the trade union movement of that country, was not implemented in order to encourage the trade unions. I know that we are encouraging it to some extent, but we have to encourage it more because it is becoming part of the social structure of the Colony as trade unionism has done in this country. The Tudor 1171 Report said that the trade union movement of Nigeria was still in its infancy, but was capable of taking a lead in the formation of a strong economic and social framework in that country, and that we should give it precedence over any political cry or slogan. I suggest to hon. Members that they should get that report and read it.
Paragraph 86 of that report says:If the Nigerian trade unions are to get quickly and satisfactorily through their teething troubles they need not only sympathetic encouragement but the sort of help given in the 19th century to the British working class movement by great humanists. It is important that the power and influence of the Nigerian trade unions for good or ill should not be under-estimated. If their organisational strength is small, what may be termed their operational strength is great.If the recommendations of that report had been put into operation and the trade union movement of Nigeria had been encouraged, we should have got on much more quickly, and probably we should have avoided the strike which took place in the coalpits there quite recently. I am not suggesting that we have done nothing. We have done something to help the colonial people, but we are taking a lot from them too, and we ought to give back something of what we are taking. A little help given two decades ago might have prevented the mountain of trouble that we are experiencing today. Our record of omissions in this field of social welfare has proved fruitful soil for both unrest and Communism.
Let me turn to Malaya. I believe that it is because of our neglect in meeting the requests and the pleadings of its people that they have turned to extreme measures, and that they will do so again in the future unless something is done.
§ Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)
Is the hon. Member, in the statement which he is now making, contradicting what was said by Mr. Malcolm MacDonald that the troubles in Malaya are Communist-inspired throughout? Is the hon. Gentleman saying that they are due to our social and economic policies in the past?
§ Mr. Awbery
I do not believe that Mr. MacDonald believes that all the troubles in Malaya are caused by Communists—but I shall come to the question of the troubles in Malaya in a few moments, if 1172 the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) will be a little patient. We must give reforms to those people, and the more quickly we do so the better. The fewer reforms we give the more troubles we shall have. If the Tsar of Russia had given the reforms that were demanded by the people of Russia before 1917, he might have avoided the Russian Revolution. It was because of his tardy methods of meeting the demands of the people that the revolution was brought about.
We must do something for these people. They do not want only our monetary help. They want our love, comradeship, fellowship and understanding, and they want us, out of our political and industrial experience, to help them create social services and industrial conditions and organisation in conformity with the age in which we live instead of an age two or three decades ago. If we want to provide these reforms, we can always find the means to give them, but if we do not want them, we can always find an excuse for not providing them. It is hypocrisy and a sham to talk so much about our desire for reforms in the Colonies and yet, although we possess the power, refuse to bring them about.
While I wish to discuss conditions in the Colonies generally, I want to say something in particular about Malaya, which I have visited. The spotlight at the moment—
§ Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
This Bill provides money only. The administration of Malaya is rather beyond the scope of the Debate.
§ Mr. Awbery
The money has to be spent in the Colonies, so each Colony will in turn have a share. At the moment the spotlight is on Malaya primarily because of the fighting there. The measure of our failure to deal with these guerillas is the measure of the success of our military training because it is as a result of the training given to these people in the jungle by our officers during the war that we are in our present situation. The spotlight is also on Malaya because of rubber. We were told in reply to a Question last week that the price of rubber had jumped from 1s. to 3s. 10d., and now it is 5s. or 5s. 2d. per lb., and the wages of the rubber plantation workers have risen in two years by 24 per cent.—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member will look at the Bill he will see that his remarks are very wide of it.
§ Mr. Awbery
I am trying to point out that the conditions of the workers in Malay are responsible for our troubles and that we want to help them by means of the contributions which we are proposing to make in the Bill. We have certainly done something here. An hon. Member has already traced the history of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act from 1940, when the amount involved was £50 million, to the present time. I am concerned about the conditions of the workers in Malaya; we must help them. In 1930 the Labour Government which was in power sent a despatch to the Colonies urging upon them the desirability of introducing legislation on the lines of the 1871 Act to recognise trade unions.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Is it not also true that in the 1930's the price of rubber fell to 2d.? Is not that one of the things which makes the business so precarious and the high prices now often so well deserved?
§ Mr. Awbery
When the price of rubber was very low, the burden of that low price fell mainly upon the workers of Malaya.
§ Mr. Awbery
Now that the price of rubber is very high, the Minister should ask the employers in the plantations to set aside a reserve fund from the present profits so that when the slump comes—they anticipate that it will—its impact will not fall immediately upon the workers. I want to say quite clearly that some employers are fair and reasonable. I have met some of them. They are trying to do the right thing in the present circumstances. We have out there three trade unionists, Mr. Brazier, Mr. Caddock and Mr. Wilkinson, who are helping the trade union movement, and the employers are working with them. The workers are grateful for what we have done in the past—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have twice asked the hon. Gentleman to confine his remarks to the Bill. He is going very wide of the subject with which we are dealing.
§ Mr. Awbery
I shall try to confine myself to the welfare of the Colonies. 1174 After all, it is the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill. The Gracious Speech last week said:The development of the Colonial Territories and the welfare of their peoples will continue to receive the attention of My Government. …
§ Mr. Awbery
I am just making a reference to the Gracious Speech because it deals with welfare. What I want to point out is that among the peoples in all our Colonies there has been a great awakening—there can be no question about that—and that it is not all Communist-inspired, as some hon. Members suggest. There is an honest desire among the workers in our Colonies for a higher standard and for social development. We should not wave it aside saying that it is Communist-inspired, because the people who want these things are honest men. The war created in them a wider outlook and nobler aspirations than they had before. It brought about revolutionary changes in their minds. We must not forget that during the occupation the Japanese inculcated an anti-British feeling into the Malays. The Communists in the jungle preached Communism and how Malays should be governed on Communist lines after the war. We have to break down that anti-British feeling. If we win the tin and the rubber and the profits but fail to win the peoples of the Colonies, we shall lose the Colonies altogether. We cannot disregard the rising aspirations of these peoples.
There is also the question of the fitness of these people to govern. [Laughter.] Yes, this money will help them to educate themselves to govern. An hon. Member opposite said that these people are not fit to govern and that they are illiterate. Is not that a reflection upon us? We have been in Singapore since 1821 and in Malacca for over two centuries, and if the peoples there are still unfit to govern, it is a reflection upon us as well as them.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
May we just get this straight? I was not laughing at the statement of the hon. Gentleman just now but at his ingenuity in bringing constitutional arguments into the Debate.
§ Mr. Awbery
There is no ingenuity about it. The education of the Colonial peoples is a part of the welfare scheme, I believe, but I may be wrong. However, I was talking about their fitness to govern. They are fit to fight for us. This afternoon we were talking about establishing regiments of Africans. They are fit to fight for us; they are fit to make profits for us; they are fit to die for us; but they are not fit to rule themselves. Is that the argument we are facing? These people are more satisfied if they govern themselves badly than if they are being governed well by somebody else.
Here is what I suggest the Government should do. I suggested earlier in my speech that they should establish or encourage the employers to establish a wages fund so that if a slump comes there will be something for the workers. I also suggest that the Government should proceed as far as possible with health and social services, including unemployment insurance. The T.U.C. should send experienced men to the Colonies to help and advise the natives there on the formation of trade unions. A start has been made by the T.U.C. They are sending people to help to build up sound trade unions.
§ Mr. Awbery
Yes, there are about 10 of them in Malaya doing this class of work. Another suggestion I have to make is that the Government should take care of the youths who come here. There are a few hundred young men who are being trained in this country, but they are in danger of falling into the hands of people who do not believe in our way of life, and they go back to their own countries with a distorted idea of what we believe in here. I ask the Minister of State to invite large trade unions here to adopt trade unions in the colonies. The railwaymen in this country have adopted—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I would ask the hon. Member to keep to the Bill, and if he persists in going away from it I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
§ Mr. Awbery
I shall wind up what I have to say. We enjoy the good will of the people in the Colonies, but we have to show ourselves worthy of it by enlarging on what we have already done. Let 1176 us strengthen our friendship with these people by developing social schemes, and at the same time ensuring a more equitable distribution of the wealth that is being won in the Colonies. A higher standard of life there will do more to combat Communism than militarism. We cannot destroy Communism by militarism any more than we can destroy a plague by power; it knows no frontiers. But we can destroy an ideology by a better and a nobler one. The position is not easy, and if we take the wrong step now all the friendship and good will towards us will be turned to bitterness. How great will be that bitterness no one can foretell.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Baldwin (Leominster)
We have just listened to the speech of an idealist who completely refuses to look at the realities of the position. The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) talked glibly about increasing this grant by another £100 million. Obviously the hon. Member thinks it is possible to pick that £100 million from a tree. There is no such thing as wealth as such; wealth is only obtained by confidence and by hard work.
Speeches we have heard in this House during the last two or three weeks have been sufficient to destroy the confidence of our Colonial Empire. It is disastrous that speeches like that to which we have just listened and others to which I am going to refer may be taken little notice of in this country, but will hit the headlines in these Colonial Empire papers that ought not to be allowed to be printed at all. Anything I may say will not be taken much notice of here, but I hope some papers in the Empire will take notice that statements made in this House have been repudiated by at least one Member.
I agree with what the hon. Member said that £20 million is only a fraction of what is necessary to develop the Empire. What we must have is confidence in the future of our Empire, which will draw hundreds of millions of pounds from other countries as investments in those colonies, because from such investments wealth will be produced. It is not the slightest good taking taxpayers' money out of this country for welfare schemes around the Empire unless those parts of the Empire are prepared to make good.
1177 The money we are voting tonight should be devoted, not to welfare and social service schemes, but to development in those countries where such development will be worthwhile. I particularly refer to roads and railways. If roads and railways are constructed in countries which can be developed, development will take place through private interests. It is through such development that social services can be paid for by the country. In this country a vast sum of money is spent on social services which is much more than we can afford, and we are depreciating the value of our pound in order to get the social services in their right perspective. To suggest that we organise social services around the Empire is fantastic.
I particularly want to refer to railways and what happened when the Canadian Pacific Railway was laid across Canada. Immediately development began to take place, and the wealth of Canada sprang from the making of roads and railways. One of the most important things we can utilise our development fund for is a railway right across the African continent, from east to west. In my opinion it is important from the point of view not only of the development of that great land, but of finance.
Has the attention of the Minister of State been drawn to the resolution of the Federation of Rhodesian Industries? They ask the Government to take immediate steps to secure territory in Bechuanaland and in South-West Africa to be used for an east to west railway. That is following up the suggestion made two years ago by the Development Coordinating Commission, presided over by Sir Miles Thomas. Their report laid down what was necessary to develop Rhodesia. What has been done to implement the recommendations in that report? Whether the east to west railway should be through Bechuanaland and South-West Africa or through Angola is a matter of opinion, but the important thing is that we should proceed with the scheme.
I said before that development in those countries can only come if we create confidence in them, so that the white settlers, when they make money and put it back into development, will realise that there is safety not only for themselves but for their children and their children's children, 1178 and that the things which are being said in this House are not creating a suspicion that we are on the way out. I had a letter recently from a young farmer who went to Kenya. He said, "I am doing very well. I am making money. What shall I do? Shall I go on and further develop my land, which I can do, or shall I exploit and get out, because the statements that are made in your British Parliament are such that it makes me think that there is no future for my children in this country?"
§ Mr. Baldwin
I told him to stop there. I said that I did not think it mattered what we said in this Parliament, because if we carried on as we were doing in this country, it would not be long before Kenya was part of the United States of Africa and would break away from this country altogether.
§ Mr. Baldwin
What happened to the United States of America? Why, exactly the same thing—a dispute which grew up into the Boston Tea Party; and that same thing can happen in Africa if we are not careful in what we are doing.
§ Sir R. Acland
Does the hon. Member take account of the possibility that the white people might be turned out of Africa altogether some time? That element was not present in the United States.
§ Mr. Baldwin
We cannot have the confidence which is necessary for us in the Colonies if statements are made of the kind which we have heard. Let me quote what was said by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale), last Friday, on the question of Dominion status for Rhodesia. He said:I am afraid, with the utmost firmness, that, as long as the colour bar is written right across the flag of Southern Rhodesia, we would not support any proposals for the creation of a new Dominion there.…"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 3rd November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 473–4.][HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That statement gets applause on the benches opposite, but let me remind hon. Members that Rhodesia has the least trouble of all African Colonies with the colour bar. A friend who wrote to me the other day said—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We cannot develop an argument on the colour bar. The Debate is on a quite simple Bill.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I thought, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that we were discussing the development of our Colonies, and I wanted to show that when these—
§ Mr. Baldwin
What I want to say about the Bill is this. It is no good our pouring our money away in this scheme of development if we cannot at the same time create confidence in those countries that the money is to be used properly and that they will remain part of the British Empire. The statements which are made are giving rise to this lack of confidence.
I should like to refer to something which was said by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway). He said that the British had turned off an African, with whom he was living, from his land.
§ Mr. Baldwin
It may not be, but the Bill is one for the development of the Colonies, and as long as these statements are made there cannot be that development.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I most certainly do. It is not true. There are over 2,000 Africans growing coffee in Kenya.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
I do not deny that, but I lived with this farmer and he was prohibited from growing coffee because his farm in the highlands was contiguous with a European farm. That is all I said, and it is true.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Gentleman said more than that. He said also that he would send me the details of the case, but he has not done so.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
I made that statement four days ago. I have not yet supplied even the Colonial Office with the details. When I do so, I shall supply them to the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Baldwin
It would be interesting to know whether the hon. Member for Eton and Slough stayed with Koinange senior or junior, because the latter has spent a certain portion of his life in a Communist country.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
If the hon. Member would read my speech he would see that I referred to ex-senior chief koinange. Perhaps the hon. Member will do me the honour of reading my speeches before he makes misstatements in the House.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I certainly read that speech, and I wondered why the chief was an ex-chief and an ex-magistrate. We do not want statements like that being made. Let us think of what is being done by the white people in Kenya.
§ Mr. Baldwin
In 70 or 80 years we have stopped slave trading and we have taught the people hygiene, and in 25 years we have doubled their population. [Laughter.] I do not know how that is funny to hon. Members opposite. We have taken steps to prevent death by disease and by tribal warfare, and the population has risen by 100 per cent. in every 25 years. We must direct our attention to the whole problem. Walking out of Kenya simply means that we shall put the country back once again into the period of darkest Africa.
I suggest to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough that he might have taken a lesson from the former Secretary of State for the Colonies, who was a Fabian. He went out to Africa full of Fabianism, and was viewed with suspicion by the people of Kenya on his arrival, but by the time he left he was viewed with respect and affection.
§ Mr. Baldwin
The former Secretary of State for the Colonies said:The more I travel in East and Central Africa, the more I appreciate the contributions which European thought and enterprise have made, and can make, to African development.That is what the former Secretary of State said. A little more of that spirit is necessary from the Minister of State. I refer again to the recent visit of the right hon. 1181 Gentleman to show the harm which is done by these visits and by the statements which are made by responsible Ministers. Many people at home are refusing to recognise what is being done to break down the old colour bar. There is growing up in the Colonies a different generation of men who want to get on equal terms. At the very moment when the Minister of State was having a quarrel at Arusha, a meeting was taking place in Nairobi. I should like to ready a copy of a letter, which will appear in East Africa and Rhodesia, from a doctor, enclosing a note of some remarks by the Minister of State, who said:I believe that many Europeans would gladly see an end put to this discriminatory practice, so that, for instance, European, Indian and African members of some official or other body could, if they wished, have a cup of tea together.That is what the Minister of State said. At the same time that he was sowing this discontent, there was a large meeting of the British Medical Association in Nairobi, which was attended by 20 Indian doctors and their wives; and two days later, in the New Stanley Hotel, 11 Indians, four Africans, and, I believe, 25 Europeans sat down to dinner together.
§ Dr. Morgan (Warrington) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) does not resume his seat, no other hon. Member must remain standing.
§ Mr. Baldwin
That is a great move, and shows what can happen, and I ask hon. Members to be careful in what they say, both here and elsewhere, on this question so that that spirit can be encouraged.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I am not minimising what I am saying, because it is disastrous for the future of white men in Kenya and in other Colonies if statements of this sort are made, as, for instance, "The best land that has been taken, has been taken from the African." Are hon. Members opposite aware that in 1932 the Carter 1182 Commission carefully decided the whole question to whom the land should go? The matter was carefully thrashed out and a decision made. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, when staying with his friend, the ex-chief, went into the Makueni area, where development is taking place, and—
§ Mr. Baldwin
I wanted to say in regard to this development of which I am speaking—I got the word development in just in time—that there is a tremendous scheme of development going forward so that Africans can be settled on the land, and these development and welfare grants can be used to assist that process. May I ask the hon. Member for Eton and Slough if he went to the model African village in Nairobi where they have an entertainment hall which is difficult to equal in our country districts?
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
Yes, I did go and expressed the very highest appreciation of it. I think that the work which the housing and health commission are doing in Nairobi is one of the finest bits of work done in the Colonies today, and I said so there.
§ Mr. Baldwin
How much better it would have been if the hon. Member had said that here last week. The pottery industry is being developed by bringing pottery workers into Nairobi; is that nothing? Nairobi is a land which has been developed from an area which was only fit for wild beasts; is that nothing?
I want to warn the country of this. Colonialism has played a great part in the development of the world in the past. It is on its way out; there is an upsurge of feeling for self-government. That self-government should not come until all races can agree together to govern their own country and to try to hasten that situation is going to bring disaster to those countries. As Sir Philip Mitchell said to the Africans in Kenya:Do not think you can get something for nothing, you have to work your passage.We are endeavouring to get these African boys fed better so that they can help to work their passage and if hon. Members would allow evolution to play its part, as it is playing its part at present, it would be better.
1183 What I should like to see sent out to our Empire is not money, but more of the people who live in this overcrowded little island. There are vast resources in Africa, large resources of untapped minerals. I want to see our people going out there and manufacturing the minerals into products and exporting the completed article from the territory. It is all wrong to bring the raw minerals out of that country and manufacture them here; it is better that it should be done in the country of origin. That would get some of our population from this overcrowded island, which would be in a very dangerous position if ever war should come.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)
I am sure we all sympathise with the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) in the restrictions of the Rules of Order which prevented him from condemning, as no doubt he would have done, racial persecution as it takes place in South Africa. We all know the many speeches he has made on that subject, but with that comment, and one other comment that I think at this stage of the Debate we might recall that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) actually reproved my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for arrogance—I will return to the subject of the Bill.
The object of this Bill, as was said by one hon. Member, is pump-priming, but the House should know how extensive that pump-priming may be. It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to be prepared to spend great quantities on war, but they should understand that we are prepared to spend money on peace and it may be better to spend it on peace than on armaments.
§ Mr. Gammans
Will the hon. and learned Member say what he means when he says that those on this side of the House are prepared to spend large sums on war? The Government introduce the Budget, not us.
§ Mr. Bing
What the hon. Member said was that it would be quite impossible to spend twice as much but, when the question came forward of spending twice as much on armaments, we did not find the hon. Member for Leominster jumping up with his economic arguments. Oh no, he reserved that for money that is required for welfare. We ought not to delude ourselves about the extent of the problem, or its difficulties, but realise that with the resources we have, we can solve the very great problems which exist at present in the Colonial Empire.
Perhaps I can explain that by saying a word or so in relation to Africa. So far as the Colonial Commonwealth area of Africa is concerned, it is about one and a half million square miles and there live in it 45 million people, rather less than the number who live in the British Isles at the present moment. In other words, with 16 times the area there is rather less than the population we have here. If one looks at the population, one finds it is not evenly divided. There are densities of up to 100 to 200 to the square mile and then huge areas of unoccupied, or very sparsely occupied, areas. There is no essentially climatic reasons for that at all.
§ Mr. Bing
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to go on. The average rainfall over all the area is something in the neighbourhood of 25 to 60 inches. The reason the population is not evenly spread is a geological one, that the subsurface conditions which conserve rainfall are not found evenly over the area. For example, in Tanganyika Territory only about 15½ per cent. of the total territory is of that geological formation in which one finds springs and an easy source of water supply and that contains 84 per cent. of the population.
§ Mr. Braine (Billericay)
I do not know what the hon. Member knows about East Africa, but is it not a fact that the main reason five-sixths of the population of 1185 Tanganyika Territory are hemmed into one-sixth of the land territory is the prevalence of tsetse?
§ Mr. Bing
I was coming to that, and perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to develop my argument. May I quote what Mr. Gillman wrote in the Geographical Magazine in 1936? He said:The presence or absence of a permanent domestic water supply in a form of comparatively shallow ground water within the reach of primitive tools and skill determines the pattern of population.Therefore the solution, which is, I think, generally realised, is that the prime need of Africa is some form of irrigation, some form of rural irrigation. Let us look at a document to which I am going to refer in a moment and to which we should pay a tribute—the type of survey now being produced all over the Commonwealth. I have here the Sokoto Survey, 1948, which puts rural water supply first in the plans for development.
The difficulty is that at home we do not often realise the full difficulties involved in the problem of the supply of water. It is not only a matter of civil engineering, but any development must change the physical environment of the inhabitants and this change of environment must affect public health and thus may change the productivity of their labour.
If I may give just one example from our own experience, production, for example, will not be increased by building a mill if the people who come to work in the mill live in such insanitary conditions that they are disabled from working because of diseases they contract from their environment. Therefore, it is necessary not only to provide capital, as hon. Members opposite seem to think, but also to provide, as we know in this country, an adequate medical service in order to see that the disease and the conditions which cause it do not arise. It is necessary to provide an administration which enforces sewage disposal and so forth. It is necessary also to have education so that the people there understand and are prepared to observe rules which are intended to promote their health. While that is very obvious to everyone in this House in regard to industrial life here, it is not perhaps so obvious in regard to the problems of rural irrigation, and the problems which arise from rural irrigation in Africa.
1186 When medical skill falls behind engineering ability, we see a series of terrible tragedies. I will give the House one example from another part of the Commonwealth and from a much earlier century. The old irrigation systems invented in Mesopotamia were extremely well developed by the 12th century by Ceylon. Ceylon was able to maintain a population of 20 million by means of an irrigation system of dams, some of which survived, holding water, until the beginning of this century. Those dams did not breed malaria owing to the irrigation level being continually altered. War came, the levels remained the same, mosquitoes bred and it is estimated that in a generation or so the population of Ceylon fell from 20 million to less than two million people, who have since been herded together in the hilly south-west corner of Ceylon to which they retreated at that time.
We now know how to control malaria. We are not likely to fall into that difficulty, but we are likely to find all sorts of difficulties in regard to malaria when we come to discuss and deal with wholesale schemes for irrigation, which is the essential problem in the development of Africa. In America, after the construction of the dams in the Tennessee Valley scheme, there was 30 per cent. incidence of malaria among the people there. That matter was dealt with and the malaria incidence in the Tennessee Valley was reduced to less than.15 per cent. by a series of measures—by altering the level of the water, by the spreading of insecticide and the scaling of the sides of the dams. But these are matters of considerable expense involving considerable public expenditure, and it would be wrong to suppose that by providing comparatively small sums of money this sort of irrigation project in Africa can be carried out in a cheap or easy way.
It is not only in that respect that one must face the problem. In Africa at the moment malaria is endemic. If it is eliminated merely in one area, the difficulty has to be faced of the people who live in that area, and have lost their immunity, going into another area. Those people can be dealt with only if there is a sufficient level of education for them to take some anti-malaria drug such as paladrine or mepacrine. That can be done only if their standard of living is 1187 raised sufficiently to enable them to purchase those drugs or else by providing funds to—
§ Dr. Morgan
Is there any justification for the lay view that there is a development of immunity from malaria under any circumstances, even after repeated attacks?
§ Mr. Bing
I do not want to become involved in a medical argument with the medical adviser to the T.U.C., but I was advised to that effect when I discussed the matter with medical officers in West Africa. No doubt when my hon. Friend goes there he will be able to impress them with his contrary point of view.
Turning to a point which was raised by an hon. Member opposite, there are two other great difficulties which will have to be faced in any system of irrigation, any system of dealing with the development of African agriculture, which must be the basis of any general development in Africa. The first is the presence of two other diseases, one of them bilharzia and the other the tsetse-borne diseases—sleeping sickness and the nagana disease which affects cattle. Here, again, is an illustration of what happens in cases in which sufficient care is not taken in keeping all the sciences working together in this matter of development. In Egypt, for example, the system of irrigation used to be the old one of allowing the Nile to flood. A series of dams and irrigations was substituted. There existed in Egypt for a long period a worm disease. Medical people know from examination of mummies that it existed even in the time of the Pharaohs, and was probably the one from which King Herod died. It was comparatively rare—
§ Mr. P. Smithers
The hon. Member seems to be under the impression that what he is telling us are new discoveries. Are all these discoveries of his enshrined in the article in the "National Geographical Magazine" or from whence have they come?
§ Mr. Bing
To ordinary people, who review the medical, scientific and general engineering considerations which affect matters of this sort, as well as the political and general ones, these things are fairly well known. I am glad that the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Peter Smithers) is so well acquainted with them. What a pity it was that for all those years the people on the benches opposite who were acquainted with them did nothing about the problem; for during their period of office the Egyptian Government were encouraged in this disastrous course. What happened was that where there had previously been an incidence of bilharzia in some villages, of as low as two per cent, there is now an incidence of something like 75 per cent. in cases where there have been investigations. I give that illustration to show that unless we ensure that the School of Tropical Medicine works together with all other types of research, and unless we approach these problems in a general broad way, we shall not arrive at a satisfactory solution of the various problems that affect development in Africa or anywhere else.
Hon. Members opposite have mentioned the tsetse question. There are two types of tsetse fly: one, the water type, lives in shaded water courses; the other lives in the bush. In the case of both, what is required is the destruction of the vegetation on which they live. In neither case can that be done unless a general congregation of people can be secured there. It has been worked out—the figure was given by Professor Macdonald—that where there was a density of as many as 75 people to the square mile, the bush tsetse was no longer found. If that is to be done, it is a problem not only of medicine but of town planning, administration and engineering.
Therefore, we should not think that there are all sorts of short-cuts to these things. We had a short-cut presented to us some time ago in the case of antrycide. That did not turn out to be anything like the short-cut that people had first thought. But even if antrycide was as good in dealing with the tsetse problem as was originally thought, we still have to train African personnel in our veterinary service and to persuade people to make use of it by ensuring a general level of 1189 education; and that is why we in this country must, if we are to make any real progress, face a considerable amount of unproductive expenditure. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to talk about preserving the rights of the white settlers in various parts of Africa, but the problems of Africa are not to be settled by transitory white settlers. One great problem of Africa—
§ Sir P. Macdonald
Why should the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) refer to white settlers as being transitory? Some of them have lived there all their lives and intend to stay there.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I took part in this Debate before the hon. and learned Member came into the House.
§ Mr. Baldwin
The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch should have listened to what I said. He is assuming from what I said about the settlers whom I advised to stay that I was talking about transitory settlers. There are those who have been there two or three generations and they are not prepared to be ruled from this country very much longer, especially if this kind of thing goes on.
§ Mr. Bing
Both hon. Gentlemen opposite should study history a little more before they take part in debate. One hon. Member was good enough to say that it was the Europeans who introduced gold mining. What nonsense! The Gold Coast contains the oldest gold mine in the world. The town of Elmina was so called by the Portuguese because of the gold mine which existed there long before any European arrived there. If the hon. Member does not know his history, he ought not to come into this House and take part in debates, because this House has a great historical tradition.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I did not know that the Portuguese were African natives; I thought they were Europeans.
§ Mr. Braine
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. A large number of hon. Members wish to speak on the Bill. May I inquire from you whether the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch is in order?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I wish all hon. Members would endeavour to speak to the Bill and I am doing my best at the moment to listen to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch with that in view.
§ Mr. Bing
If the hon. Gentleman had given his advice a little earlier to hon. Members on his own side of the House, we might have got to matters a little more close to the basis from which the Debate started. I do not want to be drawn any further, and I do not wish to delay the House for more than a moment or two longer.
It is said by hon. Gentlemen opposite that what we need is more private capital for the purpose of developing Africa. The great problem has been that there have been so many extra-territorial companies which have taken profit from Africa and have not re-invested it in Africa. It has been said by hon. Members opposite that we ought to spend this money on building railways and roads and that we ought to leave the profitable side to the extraterritorial companies. What, in fact, they are saying is that the taxpayers of this country should pay for everything else and leave the profit to them. I am sure that that is not the purpose of this Bill or the way by which we ought to approach colonial development.
We in this country will be judged by our methods of colonial development, and I only hope that this Debate has shown one thing, that there is not such identity of view as hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House sometimes like to pretend when they see the colonial policy pursued by my right hon. Friend and his predecessor. There is the greatest difference in the world between the attitude of the two sides of the House; and if hon. Members doubt it they ought to read the speeches of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight and the hon. Member for Leominster.
§ 6.55 p.m.
Mr. Gammons (Hornsey)
I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing) will not think that I am lacking either in courtesy or belligerency if I do not try to controvert some of his statements; but I will endeavour to bring him back from King Herod and the Nile to the Bill under discussion.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) pointed out, we are, in fact, not being asked to find any new money at all. The addition is only £20 million which does not make up for the loss in the purchasing power of the original grant. What I would like to ask the Minister to tell us in his reply is why it is that the Government are not asking us to vote any more money? Is it because he thinks the money is not needed; or is it because he is going to tell us—as well he might—that this country cannot afford any more money?
If he is going to tell us that, I would like to ask what is the meaning of the other development schemes, which were referred to as plans for the economic development in South and South-East Asia, to which this Government is committed? Is there to be any money voted for that, and if so, is it to be at the expense of the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund? I suspect that in fact there are no spare resources that this country has. If there are, where are they? At the present moment we cannot build more than 200,000 houses a year and we have many other checks on all development. Does it mean that we simply cannot afford to put more money into colonial welfare and development?
I was rather disturbed to hear one or two hon. Members on the other side of the House who seem to assume that the money must come from the United States of America. I hope that the Americans will invest money in the Colonial Empire, but I do not know that I particularly want to ask them to invest money in welfare and development schemes in the Colonial Empire. We are asking the Americans to feed us at the present time. We are asking them to arm us, and now, apparently, we are to expect them to develop the Colonial Empire.
§ Mr. Gammans
Hon. Members opposite said that. When it comes to talking about the need for money for this or that, it is always the Americans who are supposed to put it up. If ever we get to the stage where we are not able or willing to develop our own Colonial Empire, then I do not think we deserve to have one.
I wish that we on this side of the House and hon. Members opposite could agree on one thing, because it would make our debates so much easier, and that is that the public purse is not limitless. If we spend money in one direction we cannot spend it in another. If we waste it on something we cannot spend it on anything useful at all. I will be quite frank with hon. Gentlemen and the Government. I am jealous of the money spent in East Africa on the groundnut scheme. I would have liked to see it spent on projects like this. I am jealous of the money that this Government has given to Burma since she left the Empire. No less than £70 million, half of the total of the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund, has been spent on a country that left the Empire, and in so doing expropriated every British interest. I am extremely jealous of every penny piece spent in directions like that.
§ Sir R. Acland
Would the hon. Member go further and say whether he would have refused that £70 million for Burma?
§ Mr. Gammans
If I had the choice between spending £70 million on loyal British subjects, for whom we have responsibilities, and spending it on people who have left the Empire and expropriated every British interest, then I would spend it on British subjects.
§ Mr. Gammans
I wish to raise now the question of how the money is spent. As hon. Members may know, I have just been to West Africa, and I was very disturbed to find how few educated people in the Colonies to which I went had ever heard of the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund. The West African Press pours out drips of poison against the British but never mentions that we are willingly making sacrifices to help the colonial people. A sum of £22 million has been put into Nigeria, but one seldom hears 1193 of a Nigerian politician who is prepared even to acknowledge that fact.
Last week I asked the Colonial Secretary why, on any project which is financed largely out of the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund, there should not be some plaque or other notification that that building, or perhaps that bridge or water works, was the gift of the British people. The right hon. Gentleman refused. I do not see why. What is there to be ashamed of when we are putting up money for such purposes? It would be a means of maintaining a permanent partnership between us and the colonial peoples if, more and more, they realised what we are trying to do to help them.
My next question is whether we are spending the money on the right things. In Uganda they have decided, with the right hon. Gentleman's permission, to spend the colonial welfare and development grants to balance the local budget. That is what it amounts to. Is that a new and desirable principle?—because if it is to be adopted, I want to make a somewhat unorthodox suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman. If these grants are to be used to balance local budgets, a very useful direction in which the money could be used would be to help pay the expatriation allowances and the leave passages of European officers.
The right hon. Gentleman may think that that is a queer suggestion. It is not one which I would have made two or three years ago, but, as he knows, local public opinion in many Colonies is always abusing the idea of these special allowances for Europeans. In meetings of the local legislative councils these allowances are brought up for discussion, and some hurtful and wounding comments are made about the European officers. Perhaps that is one of the reasons there are nearly 1,000 posts in West Africa, which are normally filled from this country, for which applicants cannot be found.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I should be grateful if hon. Members would be good enough to leave these matters to the Chair.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That may be, but when hon. Members frequently call the attention of the Chair to questions of order the Chair is merely embarrassed and not assisted.
§ Mr. Gammans
This Fund was not created for purposes like this, but if it is to be used to balance local budgets and the Colonial Office want to get more European officers from this country, it may be a direction in which expenditure may be justified.
While we are talking about the use of the money, I suggest that the greatest help which this country can give to the Colonies is not necessarily by giving lump sums of money but by creating the atmosphere in which the colonial peoples can help themselves and develop character. As the House knows, I was for many years Registrar of Co-operative Societies in Malaya. There I learned a bitter lesson which I have never forgotten. We started co-operative marketing boards and banks and, as a result, the income of the people in the villages was considerably raised. We raised their incomes but we did not raise their standard of living because, the more money came in from the rubber and the rice, the more they spent on the weddings or the funerals.
The acid test whether this money will do good is whether it creates the conditions in which the colonial people are prepared to help themselves. I suggest that the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, which is pure charity, may be not only useless but demoralising. The acid test is that it should be character building. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman read the letter in the "Manchester Guardian" last Thursday written from the West Indies by a woman in Dominica. She said:Are the millions allotted to welfare in the British Caribbean being wisely spent? Is a firm foundation being laid for the future moral, social, and economic improvement of the Caribbean race? Twenty years from now will there be anything of lasting worth to show for the time and money spent?Then she pointed out:One of the worst moral results of the old days, when the slaves were not permitted to marry, is that today more than 80 per cent. of the British Caribbean population has no regular home life.1195 She states that the majority of the children are born out of wedlock; then she asks, quite rightly, whether in those moral conditions we can ever build a really healthy society. I think it is well worth the right hon. Gentleman's while to consider what she says. We shall not raise the moral or the economic level of the Colonies merely by doling out money as charity.
It should not be thought that, in passing this Bill today, we can raise economic standards if political conditions deteriorate. One of the fallacies of this age is that we can fill political sieves with buckets of economic help, but the truth is that without sound politics we cannot have sound economics. I should like to use, purely for the sake of illustration, the situation in South-East Asia. The division of India into two—I do not say whether it was necessary or not; that is beside the point—has in fact lowered the standard of living of the people to such a degree that no amount of help from the Western world can possibly raise it. In Burma, for example, rice exports are a quarter of what they were before the war, and Burma is actually importing oil.
I want to use those as two vivid illustrations of our own time to show that if our politics are not right, if there is not stable government, if there is not the confidence for which my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) pleaded, the task of raising economic levels is absolutely beyond us. In the Gold Coast, for example, if the political constitution does not come off, it is perfectly obvious that the standards of that Colony will fall. It is no good our voting sums of money in this House to try to raise them.
My last point is that we are all on both sides of the House committed to this great and imaginative scheme. It is a thousand pities that we can afford to spend so little on it. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will clear up what to my mind is a great ambiguity, namely, how the Government are to deny payments under this scheme and at the same time to pour large sums of money into South-East Asia.
I hope that we shall never hesitate to examine the results of these schemes from time to time to satisfy ourselves that the money is being wisely spent. Last Friday in this House I made a plea that the right 1196 hon. Gentleman should consider the formation of a great Council of Empire on the same lines as the Council of Europe. It is that sort of body, which would bring the colonial peoples and the representatives of colonial legislatures into consultation with us, which could investigate how this money is being spent and advise us on the best way of spending any further help that this country may willingly give.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
I am sure that on all sides of the House there is a desire to see this money spent wisely and to see it bring some lasting benefit to the Colonies. This, in a way, is Marshall Aid in reverse, and I appreciate that the sort of speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) is oft repeated in the United States when they are discussing their aid to Europe. Nevertheless, I agree with him that it is not by money alone that this great mission of improving the standard of life and the development and welfare of the colonial peoples will be achieved. But there are some tasks that cannot be achieved without money. Many of the schemes to which these funds will be applied undoubtedly will require the resources which we alone can give.
I wish to refer to one aspect of colonial welfare and development which has only been very lightly referred to in the debate so far. My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) referred to over-populated Colonies and suggested emigration from the populous Colonies—and he mentioned particularly British Honduras—to those which require more manpower for greater development. He suggested that that was one way of meeting population pressure, which is growing alarmingly in the Colonies of the Caribbean. The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) suggested that the large-scale construction of railways and roads in under-populated Colonies would enable them to support larger populations, while maintaining and improving the standard of life, and the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) referred to the need for scientific development in order to enable these territories to produce the maximum amount of food and other resources necessary for the maintenance of life.
I want to refer to another remedy for the problem of population pressure. I 1197 do not pretend that it is uncontroversial, but, at least, the controversy does not divide the parties but runs right across them. I wish to refer to the need for accompanying the health services with enlightenment on fertility control and limitation of families and the urgent need for some check to the increase in the population.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not see how the hon. Gentleman relates his present remarks to the Bill before the House. If he suggests that the moneys provided by this Bill should be used for these purposes, that may be in order, but it is not in order to discuss subjects, unless they are related to the Bill.
§ Mr. Houghton
May I suggest, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that it is no good our voting additional money under this Bill if the benefits are to be swallowed up by an increasing population, leaving no improvement in the standard of life in consequence?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member would put the matter in that form then its relevance would be clear. So far, he has not, in my view, made it clear.
§ Mr. Houghton
I will do my best with this difficult and delicate subject.
May I refer the House to the Report of Major-General Sir Hubert Rance, entitled "Development and Welfare in the West Indies," and I presume that this Report is on the expenditure of some part of the money which has already been voted under the original Bill. In paragraph 38, if I may quote it, the Report says:It is impossible in present circumstances to comment upon the West Indian situation without realising the serious economic implications of the excessive rate of population growth. The total population at 31st December, 1948, was calculated as 3,023,063, and it is estimated that the population will increase by 40 per cent. in 25 years.The Report draws attention to the outstanding characteristic of the age structure of the population, which is the great concentration in the age group below 14 years, which alone accounts for 37 per cent. of the total. So it appears that some of our Colonies in the West Indies are like the old lady who lived in the shoe. Their population is increasing rapidly, and the pressure on the resources of the Colonies is thereby increased. The rapid 1198 growth of the child population means that not only is there a great strain on the health visitors and the health services, but there is an ever-present liability for maintenance and for preserving child life.
The facts are unhappily clear. Under the impetus of the development of health and welfare services, the mortality rate has practically halved in the last 50 years, whereas the birth-rate has by no means fallen correspondingly, and is still very high throughout all the Colonies in the West Indies. That is why this warning is a repetition of previous warnings given by authorities which have investigated this problem in our Colonies, and I beg the House not to ignore, for reasons of taste, religious convictions or prejudice, one of the plain lessons to be drawn from what is happening in the West Indies, which is that, if the health and welfare services go on without being accompanied by enlightenment on family limitation, then family increase, stimulated by the health and welfare services that are created in these territories, will eventually replace some tropical diseases by the diseases of malnutrition and all the evils of poverty.
I desire to ask my right hon. Friend if, when he comes to reply to the Debate, he will courageously and frankly declare the attitude of the Government towards the encouragement, in the health and welfare services in each of the Colonies, of this necessary knowledge, without which I fear we may be pouring money into a bottomless pit, which will swallow up the benefits of these services because of the increase in pressure of population. This problem was, in fact, referred to as long ago as the West Indian Royal Commission of 1938–39, and I see on pages 245 and 246 of their Report it is stated:A reduction in the birth-rate must be regarded as in one sense the most pressing need of the West Indian Colonies. … Where public opinion is in a mood to appreciate the importance of the question, it is possible that the establishment of birth control clinics might fulfil a useful purpose. … An awakening of public opinion is indeed the indispensable condition of a solution of this problem; and every body and organisation that seeks, in whatever sphere, to guide or influence opinion should recognise the responsibilities that rest upon it to assist and not to obstruct the process of public enlightenment.What has been done in all the years since that recommendation was made? 1199 I forbear to quote further extracts from the Report which deal specifically with the religious aspect of the matter and the opposition of religious bodies in the West Indies to any development of these services. I hope that it will be possible to bring within the scope of this expenditure, that we are so willingly offering to make, some services of this kind. Why should it be taboo? Why should the island medical services of Jamaica discourage the use of contraceptive devices? The only birth control clinic in Kingston, Jamaica, at present is a voluntary one, and it is in serious difficulties owing to lack of support. The Catholic Church, especially, is opposed to any education in these matters being given to the people in the West Indies, and the Legislatures are apathetic.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said in his opening speech, the people of this country are asked to supply additional resources from their own efforts to assist their friends and fellow subjects in the Colonies, and at the same time wish to have placed before them, quite frankly and categorically, the issues involved in over-population and the effects which will flow from it. Are we disposed to offer them some enlightenment and education on how to limit the size of their families and how to space their families in order to give the best opportunity to the children they have?
I apologise for introducing a topic which in this House, I believe, is rarely discussed, and which is by common consent usually put behind us. Whether right hon. and hon. Members fear the reactions of their constituents regarding this matter, it would be an impertinence on my part to judge, but as to the importance of the position and the repeated grave warnings of the seriousness of the matter given by authoritative bodies, and underlined and emphasised by the latest report put in our hands a few days ago, there is no doubt whatsoever. I beg my right hon. Friend to regard this matter as one about which some hon. Members—and probably more than he thinks—feel strongly that we should do all we can to encourage the over-populated Colonies to check this alarming growth in their populations which will only lead to further difficulties and further economic and social problems.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
There was no need, I am sure, for the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) to apologise for raising this subject. I think it was completely right and proper that this most important, though delicate, subject should be raised in a debate of this kind. Although I do not myself feel competent to offer any judgment upon it, I must testify that when in the middle of the war I toured the West Indies with some Parliamentary colleagues, we found in every island a very strong body of opinion which said exactly what the hon. Member for Sowerby has said tonight. Therefore, it would not be at all out of place if the Secretary of State for the Colonies felt disposed to deal with the matter in his reply.
Like others, I welcome this Bill. It can be argued, as some have argued this afternoon, that it does not go far enough or offer sufficient money to bring about the improved welfare of the people. Anybody who has been to any of the Colonies in the West Indies, Africa, or elsewhere knows that there is an almost endless amount of work to be done. One has seen the need for education there in the most staggering form. Schools are cluttered up in a way which makes our congestion in this country seem like nothing at all. One knows the awful need for houses in all parts of the Colonies, and one knows the requirements regarding health.
But, with respect, I think it could be equally well argued that this Bill, so far as it stresses welfare rather than development, probably goes too far. The truth is that up till now the funds produced by this Welfare and Development Act have, for the most part, been spent, in the Colonies as a whole, on welfare and not on development. That is confirmed in the last Report of the Chairman of the Development and Welfare Organisation in the West Indies. It says:In practice, however, the tendency has hitherto prevailed of concentrating on much-needed improvement of social and administrative services, of which the economic benefits are indirect and often delayed, while concrete projects of greater and more immediate economic significance have been postponed, frequently for technical reasons.I recollect vividly part of the speech of the now Secretary of State for War when he introduced the Colonial Resources Bill in 1948. He pointed out at the time that 1201 it was really no good building up our welfare service unless it was based on a sound development of the economic side of the Colonies. That is accepted by all. One hon. Member opposite spoke with great emotion tonight about the need for welfare services and the raising of the standard of living in the Colonies. I would invite him to consult the speeches of his own leaders.
It is on the economic development of the Colonies that I wish to speak tonight, and I desire to raise two points. One is a somewhat narrow though technical point, and the other is one of broad principle. It is admitted by all that one of the major developments needed in the Colonies is that with regard to agriculture. In this age, native agriculture, just like our own, depends for its proper development on the application of machinery. There is no doubt about that. Fortunately, we have had presented to us the report of a survey of the problems in the mechanisation of native agriculture, produced by the Colonial Office the other day. We find in that very interesting report an examination of the need for the mechanisation of agriculture throughout all areas in Africa, and what applies to Africa applies equally to other parts of the Empire. This report finishes with an interesting suggestion. On page 68, it says:It is of the utmost importance that full information of all the types of machinery that are available at any time, together with detailed information on their suitability for particular conditions, should be provided for the use of Agricultural Departments.On the next page it says:In England a special Machinery Advisory Bureau should be set up to deal with inquiries from the Colonies. The functions of such a bureau would be first to answer questions from all Colonies (not Africa alone) on the types of machines likely to suit particular requirements and the types available on the home market. In addition it would collect and collate the results of experimental work carried out in the Colonies and circulate resumés to Agricultural Departments, and at the same time keep the Colonies in touch with interesting developments at home. In other words, such a bureau would act as a clearing house for inquiries and also maintain a close liaison with manufacturers and research workers in this country.I understand that the Colonial Office are probably favourably disposed towards those recommendations. I very much hope so. I wish to put a constructive suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman. At present, 1202 there is no direct link between his Department and the agricultural machinery industry in this country. There are contacts, of course, and the Colonial Governments are informed in some way of what we are doing here, but there is no direct communication.
At this time, when there is such a vast amount of development going on in mechanisation, I submit, with some slight knowledge of this matter in Africa and elsewhere, that the agricultural machinery industry in this country, which is the greatest in Europe in size, technical qualifications and experience, has a great deal to contribute. I earnestly suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, in establishing this bureau, he should seek to make a direct contact with the industry. That industry is now exporting to different parts of the world machinery to the value of £30 million a year. Before the war it was something like £2 million a year. The expansion has been remarkable. It is an industry which has an output of machinery to the value of upwards of £100 million a year. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to make direct contact with the export department of that industry.
I pass now to my second point, I think that the Colonial Office is faced with something of a dilemma. There is no doubt that without substantial, and I would say much larger, schemes of economic development in all the Colonies, we shall never make any real progress. Up to two years ago all these economic developments were carried through either by local government—in the West Indies or in Africa, for example—or by private enterprise, or by the two together. Two years ago we brought in the system of corporations, which was foreshadowed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) some years before.
I most strongly support the Colonial Development Corporation. It is a splendid idea, and what it has done it has done well, so far. While the work of some sort of body like that is vital, the truth is that the Colonial Development Corporation is already getting too much work to do. It has grown too big, too quickly. It has now enormous responsibility. I have said before, and have ventured to write a letter to "The Times" about it, that I do not think it would 1203 be wise to force this particular body to develop any more quickly, or more extensively, than it is now doing.
In the last Debate we had on this matter, I suggested that, in its own interest and in the interest of the Colonies, the Corporation should pause for a time for some measure of consolidation. I was very interested a week later to find in the current issue of the magazine of the Colonial Development Corporation that they themselves talk about a period of consolidation. They say:Pending some new policy, there is something to be said for a temporary slow-up and greater selectivity in the admission of new undertakings.They say there should be a "period of consolidation."
§ Mr. Stewart
It is the editorial, therefore, I presume, it is the voice of the Chairman of the Board. Earlier on, in the same editorial, they suggest the possibility of the creation of "one or more new brother Corporations." This brings me to the conclusion, which I had reached before seeing this article, that if, indeed, we need to create large, well-managed instruments of economic development and if, at the same time, it is unwise to ask this particular Colonial Development Corporation to undertake these expansions in all parts of the world, would it not be wise to consider appointing one or more additional corporations or breaking up the Colonial Development Corporation on some sort of territorial basis? That is to say, would it not be wise to make one corporation for the West Indies, British Guiana and so on, another for Africa, and another for the Far East?
§ Mr. Stewart
I hope I speak with due modesty when I say again that I speak with some little knowledge of those great organisations working in various parts of the world. Unilever, with which I served for some years, is a very great firm. As a piece of organisation it is a very fine effort. But it grew slowly and carefully. I am sure it is wrong to allow the new C.D.C. to grow up too rapidly and to extend too far. I must earnestly ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider 1204 inviting the Corporation to enter now into a period of pause and consolidation. At the same time, because of the present grave need for big well-managed, well-controlled economic developments, I suggest the alternative proposal of dividing the earth into its component parts for these great corporations.
In that way the Secretary of State would get well-managed, centrally controlled corporations, gathering great capital and getting all the advantages of a large organisation while, at the same time, avoiding the danger of allowing the thing to get out of hand and having another frightful groundnuts calamity. He would be moving then according to the traditional lines of good business, and that would be to the best advantage of the Colonies.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)
There has been wide agreement with this Bill. We have accepted its main principles on all sides. But I would say to some hon. Members, who rather suggested that this was a matter of charity, that it is nothing of the kind. On one side, it is a very useful, valuable long-term investment for the benefit of the people in whose area the money is to be invested and for our benefit as well. But it is not charity. On the other hand, it is not only a very valuable long-term investment for the benefit of all mankind, but I would say to those who assume we are sacrificing our own resources on behalf of the Colonial people—a sentiment expressed more than once today—that we ourselves have secured great advantage from the Colonial peoples in the last 200 years.
If, even in the present time, we care to assess the substantial economic value we receive from West Africa alone and put alongside it the relatively few millions we are advancing to West Africa, we should not be quite so ready to say that we are sacrificing a great deal—and that out of charity to somebody else. In fact, it is a long-term investment of a very necessary and valuable character; and I do not altogether agree with the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart), who suggested we were going too quickly, though there may be something in the suggestion that we should break up the Corporation.
It is one thing to suggest that we should break up the Corporation in the way he 1205 indicated, but it is quite a different thing to suggest we are going too quickly. In fact, all that this Bill enables us to do is to spend £120 million over a long period of years. That is a very small amount compared with the total amount required. I entirely agree with one or two other hon. Members, mainly from the Opposition side, who pointed out that it is useless for us to talk about vast schemes of social welfare, unless, at the same time, there is a parallel economic development.
Let us consider Nigeria alone, the largest of the Colonies with some 30 million people. I make a rough estimate and conclude that if there are to be modest social services to meet the needs of good health and education in Nigeria something like £500 million has to be secured over and above what is being spent today. One has only to think of the tremendous need of the lepers. There are between 400,000 and 500,000 of them in Nigeria alone, and only a small proportion are receiving either out-patient treatment or in-patient treatment in the hospitals. That alone makes us appreciate the tremendous task that awaits us in the development of the health resources and hospitalisation of Nigeria. When one also takes into consideration the cost of providing effective education for the whole of the Nigerian population, on top of that other necessary service, I suggest that my estimate of £500 million is by no means exaggerated.
That being so, this Bill is all the more urgently necessary because, unless there is economic development steadily expanding through the oncoming years, then whatever we do on this side will make little difference to the appalling amount of human need that exists in the Colonial Territories. I suggest that it is quite a fallacy to try to divide into almost antithetical departments, welfare development, political development and scientific research. They are all inter-dependent.
As an illustration, let us take economic development. How can we have economic development unless we have an ever-increasing number of educated colonial peoples? Without such people it would not be possible, for example, to have agricultural mechanisation. How can there be other forms of economic development without a large proportion of the colonial peoples being not only literate but also sound and well physically? A 1206 perpetual drain on economy due to tuberculosis or leprosy or cholera, counterbalances to a great extent whatever economic advantages may be accruing from future industrial development. One interlocks with the other.
I should like to make a passing reference to the political issue. Unless one can in some way satisfy the political consciousness of the peoples in these areas, and assure them that they are going to share in the development of their country politically as well as economically, one does not have the morale, confidence or response which are imperative if these developments are to take place in the years ahead.
I noticed that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), in his remarks today, referred slightingly to the "mere theorists" as distinct presumably from the practical people. Surely he is labouring under a fallacy in this respect. After all, even private enterprise, even such a vast and impressive scheme as that advanced by Unilevers, which is now the United Africa Company, began as an idea, a theory. It is not that we have practical men on one side and theorists on the other, but rather that we have theorists on both sides and they try to work out their theories in practice. Private enterprise begins with a theory which is worked out often very successfully, as in the case of the United Africa Company.
What we are trying to do, and what hon. Members on both sides of the House are now supporting, is, without any disparagement of private enterprise, to say "We can only go forward in our Colonial Territories and help to build up their economic resources to their greatest capacity if this kind of development takes place on a vast scale under public control." In this respect I am sure most hon. Members opposite will not object to our claim that controls must continue. I repeat that we have here in this Bill a theory which is accepted on both sides of the House, that unless there is public control and public planning in the interests of the community, the job will not be done properly. We may have a certain amount of spasmodic economic development without such control and planning, but not that kind of development which can satisfy the best interests 1207 of the community as a whole both in the Colonies and in our own country.
Although undoubtedly in the past under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act money has largely been spent on welfare, the main functions of the Corporations deal with the economic rather than the welfare side. That is not to say that this Bill does not cover a certain amount of economic development, but the bias is inevitably towards welfare, which in turn is complemented by the work done by the Development Corporations as well as by the money raised by the Colonial Governments themselves. I ask that the Ministry should consider ways and means by which the Colonial peoples themselves can share in the responsibility for this economic development. We on this side of the House are merely drawing up plans, with the best intention in the world, to assist the Colonial peoples, but if we ignore them, I am positive that they will regard it as a slight on their capacity, to put it at its worst, and, at its least, they will read into it an ulterior motive, an attempt by us to dominate them by some collective means.
I ask the Minister to bear one point in mind. Whether by means of this Bill or by means of the Development Corporations or the marketing boards which have done splendid service—and, incidentally, have retained for the benefit of the Colonial peoples tens of millions of pounds which otherwise would have gone into private pockets—by whatever means it is done I ask the Minister most urgently to remember that if he wants to encourage the confidence of the Colonial peoples and wants them to appreciate that we are doing this for no ulterior purpose but for our mutual benefit, he should put an increasing number of Colonial people in position of responsibility on these boards and Corporations. If he does that it can truly be told to the world that this development is taking place not as a patronising act on our side, but as an expression of the desire among the Colonial peoples and ourselves to cooperate to our mutual advantage.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
Our discussions on the Second Reading of this Bill have certainly ranged over a wide variety of subjects. The hon. and learned 1208 Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) departed from his usual practice and gave us a most interesting lecture, partly geological, partly economic, partly sanitary and partly hygienic. I am sorry he is not in his place now. I am not certain how much of the information which he imparted to us came from his own imagination or knowledge and how much came from much diligent work in the Library.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I think that any Bill for colonial development would commend itself to all Members in all quarters of the House. I hope that when the Secretary of State replies he will deal in some detail with the very important point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) in respect of Clause 2. While I do not think anybody would wish to restrict the money which the Secretary of State is authorised by Parliament to spend solely to those Colonies which have not yet achieved responsible government, I do see great difficulties in Parliament voting money to Colonies enjoying responsible government without being able to discover, and if necessary to criticise, the way that that money is being spent.
Perhaps he will tell us to whom the Secretary of State is accountable once a sum of money has been voted under this Bill to a Colony possessing self-government. Is he accountable to this House, as he should be, and, if so, can we put down Questions about the administration or the success or otherwise of any such scheme, without incurring the criticism that we are interfering with the affairs of a self-governing Colony?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
The hon. Member says this has been done for years, but here is a new departure under this Bill, and we ought to be certain where we stand. If, in fact, it has been done for years, then there can be no reason to have Clause 2 in the Bill.
Be that as it may, I welcome the Bill and I think that it is good that we should have a very full and wide discussion on it. Sometimes I wonder whether we spend 1209 quite enough time discussing colonial, matters in this House. I wonder whether, if we were to devote a little more time to discussing colonial matters, there might be a little less misunderstanding the world over, and particularly on the part of our friends in the United States of America, about what is happening in the British Empire.
I was disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State should once again have played that old and rather scratched record about how much hon. Members on this side of the House neglected the Colonial Empire when they were in power. This theory that all progress in the Colonial Empire started from 1945 wears a little thin. Hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that 1945 was a date of importance second only to the events described in the first chapter of Genesis, although I think that most of us who have studied the Old Testament would guess that Moses would have approached the problem of growing groundnuts in a more practical way than the present Secretary of State for War, several thousand years later.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
This Bill is not a new chapter at all; it is merely an additional paragraph in a very old chapter, and throughout the history of the Colonial Empire the curve of progress has been fairly constant. Long before any hon. Members opposite sat on those benches, enormous sums of money were invested in the Colonies, at no cost to the taxpayer at all. I believe that the capital value of the investments in Malaya in rubber, for example, are much greater than the sum of money we shall vote tonight and these investments were no charge on public funds. They were made often at great risk and great benefit was derived both by us in this country and by the inhabitants of Malaya. Some hon. Members opposite, who previously never lost the opportunity of making disparaging remarks about the rubber planters in Malaya, sing rather a different tune now that they have discovered that the rubber planters are earning rather more dollars than all the rest of the exports of the United Kingdom put together.
§ Mr. Sorensen
No doubt the hon. Gentleman would include in that eulogy the fact that the inhabitants of Malaya 1210 are doing something to produce rubber, as well.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Certainly. The point I was making is that all the great benefits which we are now receiving from the dollar-earning capacity of rubber are not only improving the standard of living in Malaya but, in fact, have helped us here enormously in our economic difficulties.
The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), unless I am misquoting him, took the view that the money which was to be voted under this Bill for development in the Colonies would, in effect, be by far the best and cheapest bulwark against Communism. Roughly speaking, I think that was his argument—not in his actual words, but I do not think that is a misrepresentation of what he said. I beg him to follow that argument to its logical conclusion, because those who take the view that any economic development is in itself the principal bulwark against Communism must see where that argument leads. In my view, it is no good talking in one breath about raising the standard of living in Malaya or in West Africa or in any other of our overseas territories and then, in the next breath, advocating the granting of political independence in territories which are in no way ready for it. Those two arguments are, in fact, completely contradictory in terms.
Of course, it is easy enough to create chaos and call it independence. That is an act of political cowardice and not an act of statesmanship. I was interested in a letter written to "The Times" on 30th October on the question of the development of the Colonies. It was written by that great authority, Sir Harold MacMichael, and perhaps the House will permit me to quote two very short sentences referring to economic development, in which he said:Given driving power and vision and due care and caution in management, economic development can be made rapid—and safe. The same is not true of political development. … To clear the mind of trash, to produce a sense of responsibility and unselfish public service, to teach experience and wisdom require many decades.1211 I would commend those sentences not merely to the present Secretary of State for the Colonies but, more especially, to his right hon. Friend the Minister who opened the Debate. I believe it is the duty and the obligation of every generation of British people to do their utmost to raise the standard of living in all their Colonial possessions—to do that as far as it lies within their economic power; and I believe that, by and large, each generation has fulfilled that obligation as the years have gone by.
But let us not suffer from the delusion that the provision of agricultural machinery, or the provision of modern industrial plant, or the provision of new hospitals or new schools or new universities, admirable as they may be—and we all agree about that—will necessarily melt the hearts of those in the Kremlin or make the task of the Communist agitator less easy.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
On a point of order. Many hon. Members on both sides have been called to order tonight. Is the hon. Member in order? He does not seem to refer these matters to the Bill under discussion.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I think he was linking up his argument with development.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Development in the economic sphere in our overseas possessions, which is the subject of this Bill, must go hand in hand with sound administration. Several hon. Members opposite have linked the former with the threat of Communism, so I think I shall be in order if I refer to it as an illustration. I was saying that the mere provision of up-to-date plant and machinery does not make the task of the Communist agitator less easy, and the experience of more industrialised countries in the West proves that point.
I agree with the hon. Member for Bristol, Central, that we are the custodians of our overseas possessions but, of course, we are the custodians for all the inhabitants and not only for the vociferous minority. We have an obligation to our friends who are not merely 1212 fair-weather friends—those who stood by us in the lean years as well as in the good years. I believe that the doubts which exist in some quarters as to our future policy in many of the territories which will be covered by this Bill do great harm in all directions. In the first place, I think these doubts dissuade large numbers of young men, suitable in every way, from joining the Colonial Service. Secondly, they certainly dissuade the American investor from investing much-needed dollars in those areas. If full benefit is to be derived from the money which we are voting under this Bill, I believe one essential condition must be fulfilled—economic development must be accompanied by sound administration and the preservation of law and order.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Dr. Morgan (Warrington)
At this late hour I intervene only to make a very short speech. I must refer to certain views which have been expressed in the latter part of the evening, although I did not intend to refer to this subject at all. Recently there was published a booklet on the population problem in the Caribbean. It was a very fine booklet by Professor Malcolm J. Proudfoot, and is worthy of very great consideration. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) brought it to my mind when he said that something must be done about the question of the population in the West Indies. I want only to say that I hope that this Parliament and the British electorate will never tolerate the introduction of birth control in the West Indies.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) talked about white men meeting black men in hospitality at dinners, and gave the impression of how disgraceful it was.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
My hon. Friend is not here, so perhaps I may say that that is a completely erroneous impression. What my hon. Friend was anxious to show was that while transitory visitors from this country were making dogmatic statements, people on the spot were attempting to get over the colour difficulties.
§ Dr. Morgan
I am very sorry if I got the wrong impression, but the impression conveyed to me—and at the time I nearly interrupted the hon. Gentleman—was that he was saying that this was disgraceful. That was my impression.
§ Dr. Morgan
Of course it was at the back of my mind, because I have seen it so often. I speak as a West Indian. I was born and bred in the West Indies and I have lived with the West Indians. I have seen British officials behaving in the way which was described by the hon. Member. I am sorry he is not here. If he had remained here I should still have raised this point which I am raising now. However, I do not want to dilate upon it, or to take up too many other points which have been made, because I have much to say.
I am proud I lived with the West Indians. I am proud of the fact, just as I am proud of the fact that I was brought up strictly in the Catholic faith. So I know what it means if the black people of the West Indies who are Catholics are taught secrets of birth control—and new secrets of birth control. To put a condom into their hands is a wicked thing. If they are uneducated and simple folk, who have had no chance of education as we know it in Europe, and a doctor pretends to show them how such things are used—that is a wicked thing, and it is not Christianity. I hope that this subject is not going to be taken up in any welfare schemes by this or any other Government. If the Government want to fail in the country at the next election, they have only to include birth control in any welfare scheme, and I know for certain what many sections of the British electorate will say about such a proposition.
These Colonial people have lived in conditions of great poverty and destitution. I want to speak particularly of the West Indies, and not of other parts of the Empire—Nigeria, elsewhere in Africa, and so on. I want to deal particularly with the West Indies, which I know. The West Indies have suffered from many diseases—leprosy, venereal disease, hookworm disease, malaria—apart from the ordinary infectious diseases. Much has been done to combat these diseases. Great Britain 1214 should be proud of her record during the last 30 years—and both the parties here, especially my party, because they passed the first welfare legislation for the Colonies. We have had a fine record in the Colonies since Labour views have had an influence on colonial policy. It is only since then that we have seen the great benefits that are now accruing to the Colonies from these schemes. The Conservative Party had a long period of power and opportunity, but they did not use it. Democracy had not advanced in Great Britain so much as it has now.
However, I would say this in passing, that the best Colonial Secretary I have known, and the best Under-Secretary for the Colonies I have known, have been two of the Conservative Party—the right hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley) and the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan). Whenever I went to see the right hon. Member for Bristol, West, I was received with the greatest courtesy, and he listened to every case I put to him. He used to say to me, "Are these facts correct?" I would say, "Yes, so far as I know." Without the slightest doubt he gave me help, and gave consideration to what I said. With the then Under-Secretary, the right hon. Member for Bromley, the same atmosphere pervaded every visit I paid to the Colonial Office in his day there. Both right hon. Gentlemen were my political opponents and differed from me, but they gave me every courtesy then. I am receiving the same now from the present Colonial Secretary. He has been a friend of mine a long time. By his nature he would not be anything else but courteous. He listens to cases, too.
We have a great record, and good work is being done at the present time through all the provisions of these Acts, which are excellent schemes. However, much research work can be done apart from medical research. Although I agree that medical research is very important, there are other things which are akin to medicine but are not purely medicinal—public health work, for example, which is still practically in its infancy in many of the Colonies—in which research should be made.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight—I am sorry to have to refer to him again because I do not want to be jumped on again—referred—I think I am right; I 1215 do not want to do him any injustice—to the fact that many of the Colonies wanted more railways. That may be all very well in British Honduras or British Guiana, but there are other West Indian Colonies where railways are not of the first importance. One is the island in which I was born—Grenada: one of the prettiest in the West Indies, and only 16 miles by 18. What good is a railway there? We want something more than that—means of easy transit, yes: good roads, and the introduction of motor cars. But to start building railways all round the island for the development of the Colony is just child's play.
So each Colony must be taken separately, and developed separately, in its own way and on its own lines. What we ought to do in the West Indies is not necessarily what is done in Rhodesia or Nigeria—or the Isle of Wight. The Institution which is being set up for the Caribbean is doing magnificent work. The amount spent on that is trivial compared with the amount that should be spent. I hope it is only a preliminary to what will come later. Indeed, many of these excellent schemes are only initial stages of progress, and will develop more and more. What we have to do is to implement the Estimates Committee's Report and other recommendations.
When I first came to Britain in 1903 I was looked upon as though I were a devil from the South Seas. I came to study medicine, and when I said I was going to Glasgow, to a Scottish University, I was asked, "Why leave London to go to Glasgow?" I said because Glasgow was good for medicine. These Colonies are on the verge of coming into the Commonwealth. They will no longer be the Colonial Empire; they are coming into the Commonwealth. There are schemes for federation among the islands, politically and in every other way, and for all the services, including medical services. They are hoping and dreaming politically and socially. There is very little colour prejudice in these islands, because money counts for a lot. I have known many a white man very nearly proposing to a black woman who had plenty of money, and who would make his life very comfortable. It is surprising how colour pre- 1216 judice can cease in the face of the prospect of a good economic livelihood.
I ask the Secretary of State not to be perturbed by the remarks of hon. Members opposite. I want him to go on with this very good work. However, I do make one request of him. In the island of St. Kitts there is a sugar factory. Our policy should not be "Nationalisation for us but no nationalisation for them." If the policy of common ownership of a good concern is one which can be handled in Great Britain, then it could be handled colonially, while there are still colonies. My statements here will stand challenge from anywhere, because I have turned this thing inside out in examining it. I have the official report from the former principal of the School of Agriculture in Trinidad which shows that on the original capital with which this company was formed and built up—a company which now caters for all the sugar of the island—over the last 20 years, in a very small colony with an illiterate population of ill and sick people, they made 1,000 per cent. profit every year. I defy any Conservative here tonight to deny that my figures are wrong, because I can substantiate what I say.
When a financial concern in any small Colony becomes, so to speak, a bleeder of the resources of the Colony—and there are English shareholders involved—I urge that that is a case for welfare, if only from the financial point of view. Let us use some of the money that we have in our Colonial Welfare and Development Fund, whether in this particular case it is called "development" or "welfare." I do ask that in a case of that kind, in order to stop this continual bleeding of the Colony, these people should be helped. Wages which once stood at 1s. 6d. a day are now up to 2s. 3d. or 3s. How can these people be expected to be educated and to be able to read books? How can they be expected to take an interest in life? No wonder people grumble at their high birthrate. That is their only amusement. What else can they do?
§ Dr. Morgan
I am sorry if I am out of order in speaking of a very human problem, but this is the way the men themselves speak to me about it. They 1217 say: "What are we to do? We are illiterate. We cannot read. We cannot write. We cannot play cricket because we cannot afford a bat. We cannot even afford to buy a ball to throw in the air and catch it. What are we to do after we have finished work?" The answer, put to me quite politely, is, "Develop our homeland." [Laughter.] I hope that in those few remarks, which the House has treated with some hilarity—though I myself am deadly serious about it—I have made my point. I have seen poverty. I have seen women dying in childbirth because they could not get medical attention. These islands form the most loyal colony in the British Empire. When they have riots, as they had in 1939, it is simply because they cannot help themselves. They suffer, and suffer, and suffer. They are the most loyal inhabitants of any British colony.
On that account I ask the Secretary of State to continue in his good work of pressing on with this welfare work as fast as he can, devoting himself, especially in the next decade, to education and to raising the young children from the primary schools to the secondary school. Do not concentrate so much on scholarships from secondary schools to Great Britain. We want to raise the children from the infant primary schools to the secondary schools, for that is the best way to achieve more rapid educational progress. I am grateful to the House for having listened to my speech, and I hope that I was not, unconsciously, too humorous.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Wakefield (Derbyshire, West)
The House has listened this afternoon to the most extraordinary farrago of truths, half-truths and untruths. It is not within my capacity to deal with all the untruths, but I should like, if I may, to enlighten the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) on one or two points that he made. I do not do so with any arrogance, because his own address to the House was made in a most modest and unassuming manner.
The hon. Baronet observed that the private ownership of land was not understood in Africa. That, of course, is perfectly true. It is equally true of undeveloped parts of India or Arabia. It is true of anything in this world which 1218 has no value. The air in this country has no private ownership because we do not value it. There is no private ownership in the air that I am breathing at this moment because we do not value it. Similarly, in India, there were great tracts of desert area which were valueless until water was brought there, but the moment irrigation schemes were developed and the land became potentially valuable, there was a most enormous scramble for the right of private ownership.
In recent years I myself have seen exactly the same thing happen in Arabia. There were great tracts of desert with no private interest at all, except in occasional patches of grazing or in oases where water could be obtained. There were private rights in the water and in the grazing, but in other land there were no private rights at all because it had no value until they discovered oil, and I have had the unpleasant task of having to decide between the conflicting claims of various sheiks who claimed private ownership in this land because their camels and sheep and those of their forefathers had travelled over that land in the course of centuries. It is when land becomes valuable that claims to ownership are established.
§ Sir R. Acland
Land in Africa is extremely valuable, and different peasant farmers may have carried on a certain kind of cultivation in quite small patches, but anything in the nature of the private ownership of a big estate, with great palm groves or rubber plantations such as exist in Malaya, or such as the Germans established in the Cameroons, would be entirely contrary to the African way of life. Therefore, the development of a major agricultural product by private enterprise, as it is understood on this side of the House, is something that cannot happen without destroying the whole life of the community.
§ Mr. Wakefield
I ask the hon. Baronet to examine the history of the Sudan Plantations Syndicate which is a complete answer to that.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think that we shall have less trouble if the hon. Member will return to the Bill.
§ Mr. Wakefield
There is one other point relative to development which was 1219 also raised by the hon. Member for Gravesend. He referred to companies making a fortune because of the rise in value of raw materials—tin, copper and so on. Although these companies do already make an enormous contribution to our Exchequer, part of that money is returned, and rightly so, in such grants as we are now discussing. The contributions made by these companies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer have become so great that, in practice, we are driving these companies from this country. Less than three weeks ago, I read of five rubber companies which had transferred their headquarters from London to Rhodesia. The loss to this country in taxes may be £2 million or more.
§ Mr. Wakefield
I wish that they would come back. The loss to this country is not only a loss of millions of pounds to the Exchequer in taxes. The connection of those companies with this country has been broken and the loss in employment is immense. I have lived most of my life abroad, and I know what happens when one of these companies operates abroad. Their employees are recruited from colleges and universities in the home country and when machinery has to be ordered, they order it from the firms with which they are acquainted. When they want to buy shirts, socks or vests, they place their orders with the companies which they know, and so, by the transfer of the headquarters of these companies from here to abroad, we are losing much more than merely money. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could give some inducement—
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
Is it in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for the hon. Gentleman to discuss the transfer of these companies from this country, which has nothing to do with the Bill?
§ Mr. Wakefield
Before referring directly to the Bill, may I make one point with regard to the contribution of the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), who referred to private 1220 enterprise companies exploiting native labour and the bad conditions in which the natives had to live. It is true that in some cases native labour is housed in appalling conditions. It is also true that in many cases the natives are extremely well looked after. From my recent experiences in the Persian Gulf, I would say that the employees of His Majesty's Government are infinitely worse located than the employees of the private enterprise oil companies. During the war, I had to live and work throughout the summer in a house in which there was no form of air-conditioning. The employees of the British and American oil companies lived in air-conditioned houses.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am listening very carefully, and I will stop the hon. Member if he gets out of order.
§ Mr. Wakefield
To avoid causing you embarrassment, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will conclude on that point by saying that the American oil companies provided air-conditioned houses for their poultry, though His Majesty's Government's representatives did not have any such amenity.
I should like to touch on the point made by the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) in regard to health, and the extent to which these funds should be used for promoting health and general welfare. Any liberal-minded and generous person wants to see disease eradicated, but the problem does not end there. In India, by the devoted work of doctors, plague, cholera and dysentery were controlled. By the development of an immense system of roads and railways, famine was countered. We did all these things with the best intentions. Now the population has grown so rapidly that all that we have succeeded in doing is to lower the average standard of living. So these health measures must be accompanied by economic and educational measures, which raise everything together.
May I now come directly to the question of colonial development and the attitude which should be adopted towards 1221 it? It seems to me that one attitude which has been exemplified in certain speeches in this House is wrong. That is the attitude of the materialist. An example was, I think, when the Minister, in his opening speech, referred to £270 million as the measure of what the Labour Government had done, and compared it with the neglect of previous Governments. It is materialistic and wrong to suppose that merely by pouring money into these countries we shall raise the standard of living. If we pour money in too rapidly, we may create results exactly the opposite of what we intend.
We in this House know what happened as a result of the Industrial Revolution in this country. Those of us who have been in Johannesburg know the appalling conditions of labour in that city. Wealth grew too rapidly, and I myself more recently have seen the appalling results to society through too rapid an accumulation of wealth in those centres of Arabia where oil was discovered and gold was poured in before society had grown to a state which enabled it to use it properly.
We must beware of materialism and of a materialistic attitude. We must equally beware of what a recent writer has described as emotional humanitarianism. I have some difficulty in dealing with this subject because some of the men who plead for it are men whom we respect. After all, emotional humanitarianism springs from something good and generous, but in its application to undeveloped areas it can have disastrous results. I myself prefer to call it sentimentalism. May I give an analogy? There are many people who attribute to animals, particularly dogs, instincts and tastes which belong only to human beings. A woman will feed her dog with bits of cheese and chocolate. It is done from good motives, but it is stupid because these things are not suitable to the digestive systems of animals.
I have seen inspectors in Africa insisting on boys sitting on benches at desks to do their writing, when their nature is to prefer to squat on the ground and write on their knees. That is a form of sentimentality, which is inappropriate though well-intended. That attitude, when it is applied to racial differences, can have most serious results. In fact, it alienates the white settlers, makes them more rigid in their views and even more 1222 determined to maintain their position of privilege. It insulates them from the more liberal atmosphere of this country. It makes them less amenable than they were before to external influences. It actually widens the gap between the races rather than closes it. It has the opposite effect to that which was intended. This attitude, though well-intended, is wrong. In place of sentimentalism we should have idealism, and by that I mean that whatever we do we must never lose sight of the main objective, which is the moral and material progress of the people of the Colonial Empire.
Our attitude should also be one of realism. When I use the word "realism," I find it difficult to explain exactly what I mean. Perhaps I can put it in this, way. As Christians we believe that all men are equally valuable in the sight of God. That is our faith. We believe in the individual sanctity of the human being. That is true, but it is not true to go on to say, as many of us do, that because men are equal in value, they are equal in capacity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am not accusing hon. Members opposite; I am arguing a general theme. I know there are people who say that as everyone is equal, everyone must be treated alike. But there are differences in capacity and understanding, and we have to take account of those. It is wrong and unrealistic not to take account of them.
§ Mr. Wakefield
I have tried to avoid the subject of colour, because I am the last person to speak with authority on it. I have no colour prejudices and am unable to understand those who have. What I say is that human beings have merits which God gave them, irrespective of colour. There are black men who are far better than some white men, and there are some white men who are far better than others. That is all I intend to say on that subject.
If I may resume the thread of my argument, we must help those who are: less advanced or less efficient than ourselves to help themselves. Whether this Government or that Government contributes most to the welfare of these territories seems irrelevant and unimportant. 1223 What really matters is the extent to which we can help these people to help themselves. I deplore the fact that there are something like 1,000 vacancies in the Colonial Service. If the Secretary of State for the Colonies can fill those vacancies with men educated in the liberal atmosphere of our English universities, men who have breathed the air of freedom, men who will go out to serve and not to rule, then he will have done far more for the development of our Colonial territories than could be done by the expenditure of even a thousand million pounds.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I am sure that the House always listens with great interest to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Wakefield), and I do not wish in any way to misinterpret any of his sentiments or to question the sincerity of his approach, but since he has referred to the nature of children in certain backward areas being such that they prefer to sit on their haunches rather than on seats, I believe that if one of those children was brought up in Western, advanced society, together with one of our own, it would grow up naturally and would come to like school desks. I hope, therefore, that some of the money the allocation of which we are now considering will be devoted to the provision of decent little school buildings—most of those I have seen are shacks—with some form of seating for the children.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd), who opened the Debate for the Opposition, and the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) referred to the fact that the principal object of the Bill was to increase by £20 million the existing sum of £120 million because of the fall in the value of money. Then they added a party crack to say that the fall in the value of money was due to the fact that we in Britain had introduced social services. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I believe I am right in stating that—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The hon. Member has no right to say that. I did not specify the reason for the fall in the value of money. In the view of a large and growing number of people, the real reason for the fall in the value of money is the actions of the Chancellor of the 1224 Exchequer before the last, the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
§ Mr. Davies
It is right that we should have that clarified, because when hon. Members read HANSARD tomorrow, they will not see what has just been said. I am glad therefore of that clarification and that there is no denigrating the honesty of effort of the Government in increasing the sum of money available.
Hon. Members on both sides, however, know that the sum which we are considering is only, so to speak, a drop in the ocean, and they will realise that if it were within their power the Government would like to give, perhaps, 10 or 100 times that amount for the natural development of the Colonies and backward areas. I intend, however, to be brief, in order to give other hon. Members, who, like myself, have sat nearly six hours through this Debate, a chance to speak.
I want to see that this "pump priming" goes into the right places. I do not intend to go through the history of how many people die each year from tuberculosis, either here, there or anywhere else—that could go on for hours. But on the general question, can we be certain that we are tying up our technical co-operation? I was extremely interested in the suggestion of the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart), when he asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether real cooperation existed on the question of agricultural machinery between the Colonial Departments and Departments in this country.
§ Mr. Davies
Yes; I meant in the trades. I hope that that suggestion will be followed up.
I am not over-enamoured of the possibilities of huge amounts of American dollar investments in our Colonies, for the same reason as the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West, mentioned. The E.C.A. organisation in the United Kingdom have made a bilateral agreement for the investment of 20 million dollars in the Colonies, but as far as the investment of dollars or of pounds is concerned, we must heed a warning: we might create the very thing which we do not want to create, namely, inflation.
If we withdraw masses of labour from the production of food in backward areas 1225 for the production merely of capital investment, without a current increase in consumer goods, we might create a situation in which, paradoxically, although we are pouring money into certain areas, the result will be to generate the very Communism of which many people are now more terrified than ever. In other words, we must be sure that, with our Colonial development and welfare funds and investments in the Colonies, we are, at the same time, trying to preserve a pro rata development of consumer goods.
In Command Paper 6175 issued in 1945, one of the outstanding phrases was that the object of our Colonial Development and Welfare Acts was to promote prosperity and the happiness of the Colonies. Somebody contradicted one of my hon. Friends tonight when he suggested that Mr. Malcolm MacDonald had said that the cause of trouble in South-East Asia was not only Communism. If any hon. Member likes to read Mr. MacDonald's broadcast, he will see that he pointed out that political changes, economic upheavals and the desire for nationalism are really the main problem in South-East Asia and backward parts of the world.
Whichever party is in power—it is the same in France—all the Western imperialisms are having to learn the lesson of the coloured man. The coloured man is refusing to stand on the sidelines of European imperialism any longer, and these underfed, sweating, ill-paid bodies are going to give history a shove. Unless we can control that movement by intelligent development and intelligent canalisation of their desires, I am afraid that all this talk about running Colonies the way they have been run in the past will merely disappear in an explosion.
Food, after all, is the main issue. May I give a figure which Mr. MacDonald gave on the radio the other night? He said that in England 60 people live on 1,000 acres of cultivated land, but in South-East Asia, taking the whole area, 900 people live on a 1,000 acres of land. There in a nutshell is a part of the problem of the backward areas of the earth. Although there are vast open spaces, 900 people are living on 1,000 acres of land in South-East Asia.
How are we to employ technical development so that while we are investing 1226 money we do not create inflation? This is a problem about which the House should have some discussion in the future. I am not being mealy-mouthed about this. I believe some of the money should be used for decent Christian teaching or childbirth and birth control methods in the backward areas of the earth. If there is one thing that needs attacking at the moment it is this uncontrolled development of population. I want these mothers to have a chance. Let some of this money, for once, seep through to the most lowly persons in those areas. Let it be used for institutions like women's institutes and birth control clinics such as we have in this country. I believe more women should be recruited into the Colonial Service for that purpose and they should not all be drawn from the Colonies.
We on this side of the House welcome this Bill and I hope the money will be spent in the wisest possible way. I am, certain the House will keep an eye on the spending of the taxpayers' money.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
I have listened with very great interest to every speech made in this Debate and I am glad to have the opportunity to make a few comments on one or two of them. I listened with special interest and at times a great deal of enjoyment to the speech of the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan). I must say to him how much we on this side of the House appreciated the very generous tribute he paid to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley). It was really appreciated because we believe, as does the hon. Member, that here is a man who really has in his heart the welfare of the whole of the Colonial peoples and we are sorry that my right hon. Friend is not here to play his part in this important Debate.
I listened with interest to the argument between the hon. Member for Warrington and his hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). It is not news to us on this side of the House that the peoples of the Colonial Territories are increasing in numbers. We have known it for years. It was first mentioned in this Debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), who pointed to the vast increase in the population of Africa; he said it would double in 25 years. This is no 1227 new phenomenon. It is not entirely due to the fact that the birth-rate of the Colonial Empire is increasing. There is another factor, namely that the expectation of life throughout the Colonial Empire is increasing all the time. It is worth pointing out to hon. Members opposite that that has not happened only since 1945. It is one of the blessings of civilisation taken out by British pioneers and carried on by British Governments for a good many years, not only in the last five years. We have brought them British medicine and British hygiene.
We on these benches face up to that problem, and our approach is rather different from that of the hon. Member for Sowerby. We do not want to decrease the population of the Colonial Empire. Our plan is, by intelligent development and intelligent welfare, to help them to increase the fertility of their soil and the productivity of their land so that there is food and a good way of living for an increasing number of people as the years go by. We should tackle our colonial development in that spirit. In that spirit we shall achieve success.
Another speech which interested me was that of the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery). I felt at one time that his speech was one of many contradictions. At one time I thought he was against the Bill. His theory seemed to be, "What is the use of it anyhow? The colonial peoples would be better off badly governed by themselves than well governed with British help." Then he changed his tune and said that this sum of money was too small, that it was chicken feed. It is dangerous when politicians discuss well-thought-out schemes and call them chicken feed. This Report, this well prepared document, shows that it is not chicken feed but that it represents years of hard intelligent work by devoted and loyal servants of this country in the Colonial Empire. It is dangerous to use terms like "chicken feed" because they rebound.
It is not so much a matter of the amount of money that is spent but how it is spent. A lot of money was wasted on the groundnuts scheme. It was not good because so much per head of the population was spent. Similarly the hon. Member cannot judge this work by saying that it represents £2 10s. per head of 1228 the population and therefore is not enough. The real point is whether we are, using the money intelligently and whether we are, by the use of the money, creating the necessary opportunities for the colonial people to better their position.
We need many brains to help. The hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) was quite right when he pointed out that we wanted more people to go out into the Colonial Territories. I was in one respect sorry about his approach. I believe that to encourage men to go out there we should let them know that they can be proud of a good job well done and that their fellow men will be proud of them and will not say "You are exploiting other people." That and the fair incentive of a good reward and livelihood for his wife and family is the sort of incentive that is required, not that of the hon. Member for Gravesend, who said, "If they go out let them be excused from military service," Compulsory military service was introduced as a national duty imposed upon all and the basis of it would be destroyed if we said that if a man goes out to the Colonies he need not contribute his share to national defence. That is a wrong approach. I believe that a better approach is the one I have indicated.
I wish to stress to the Secretary of State the point that if our colonial development is to be successful we must have far better communications in certain parts of the Colonial Territories than exist today. My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) was right when he said how much of the development of Canada came with good communications. The same thing happened in the United States and in South America. The first requisite for development or welfare is the ability to get to the spot. It is no good saying that we will have, for example, malaria control in the interior of British Guiana if we cannot get there. We must get there first. We must take the roads or railways there. A good deal has been spent already but I believe that we shall have to spend more, because once communications are opened in the big territories of British Guiana and Tanganyika we shall have the opportunity of creating wealth which will give a better standard to our colonial people.
I urge very seriously this question on the Secretary of State for the Colonies 1229 and I would ask him how far this form of development by means of opening communications has been carried out in consultation and in partnership with the Colonial Development Corporation? We all know that it is not the work of the Corporation to provide the roads, the railways and the airports. But when the Corporation goes into the big territories to which I have referred, for instance, in British Guiana where they are operating in timber and gold, is the way into the interior to be made available to them, so that they may move in modern machinery to do this kind of development? If that is not done, then I believe that many of the projects of the Colonial Development Corporation may be in great danger.
A couple of years ago the Evans Report spoke of the necessity of the migration of the population from the overcrowded island of the West Indies into the hinterland of British Guiana. The first requisite of the recommended scheme is that there should be proper roads into the interior, otherwise people cannot get there, but I believe that with the provision of roads, railways and airports they will go.
The Colonial Development Corporation are spending a fair amount of money in prospecting a coalfield in Tanganyika territory in the Ru Hu Hu river basin, and they hope to develop there a large coalfield. But if that is to be successful they must have the means of communication and at the moment there is no all the year round road or rail going to the territory. The matter is being considered but has the right hon. Gentleman said to the Corporation that if they prove sufficient coal in Tanganyika communications will be developed so that they can get it out; and is he now preparing plans for the necessary survey so that the whole plan may be successful? I would urge upon him this important question of communications, because if there are no communications to these great areas all other things will fail.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. George Jeger (Goole)
I am quite sure that this Bill will be passed unanimously, and the suggestions made to the Secretary of State from all quarters of the House will be received by him as most encouraging in the excellent work going on in the Colonies.
1230 I wish to talk, not on the question of material welfare and development, but rather on the more spiritual or social side of the work which is going on in the Colonies. I wish to refer to an extract from the Jamaica "Daily Express" of 15th September of this year, in which there is an account of a speech in the Jamaica Elected House by one member, a Mr. Nethersole. He is reported in the headlines of this paper to have reduced the politicians in that House to tears.
§ Mr. P. Smithers
On a point of order, Mr, Deputy-Speaker. I see no reference to the Jamaica "Daily Express" in the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) has just started his speech and I am listening to hear what he has to say.
§ Mr. Jeger
This is a question of welfare and I should have thought it would have been obvious to the hon. Member, whose interest in the Colonies is so well known. This matter in the Jamaica "Daily Express" report has given me a certain amount of concern, because I understand that the Jamaica "Daily Express" has no connection whatever with a newspaper of the same name published in this country, and therefore its reports may be considered reliable.
I have neither the capacity nor the intention to attempt to reduce this House to tears by the repetition of the same sort of statements as Mr. Nethersole made in the House in Jamaica. The gist of the case which he presented to that House is that about a year ago—the date is given—a Mr. Mason Vernon Hutchinson, a young man, was going home from his work when he was arrested on a charge of fraudulently selling cigarettes. He was taken to the police station and there subjected to a beating-up which landed him in hospital for some time afterwards. Later he was acquitted of the charge on which he had been arrested and, on taking the case to court and filing an action against the police, he was allowed £40 with costs amounting to £60.
The Government repudiated responsibility for the false arrest and for the damages and costs awarded, and they saddled the matter on to the police officer concerned. He promised to pay at the rate of 15s. a month. Unfortunately, 1231 although the matter was settled in the courts well over a year ago, Mr. Hutchinson has not yet received a single payment, and all attempts on his part to obtain any compensation at all have failed.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have been listening very carefully, but I cannot link up this matter with the Bill.
§ Mr. Jeger
I submit with respect that it is a matter of the welfare of the community there, of the attitude of the police and of the administration of justice. We are considering further supplies of money to the Colonies, including Jamaica, for the provision of social justice, prisons and the administration of justice generally.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Yes, I think that is true; but going back to what happened a year ago is going rather beyond the increase in the grant that it is proposed to give.
§ Mr. Jeger
I gave that as an example of what happened a year ago to show the lack of justice for this individual and others, and the necessity for impressing upon the Government of Jamaica the need for expending a little of the money which we are voting today on more social justice, and, indeed, the necessity of ensuring justice in Jamaica. This young man Hutchinson has since been found to have developed tuberculosis directly as a result of the injuries received while in the police station It is said that the doctor who conducted an X-ray test found that it showed that the man had contracted tuberculosis caused by a broken rib which rested on his lung.
My argument is that with all the money that we are to vote for the Colonies for the development of material resources, we shall not gain the respect and support of the friendly and loyal people there if they are to be subjected to the maladministration of justice in the way I have outlined.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
In order to help the House to understand the position, will the hon. Gentleman say whether this charge has been substantiated? Did the Chief Justice of Jamaica repudiate it or did he accept it?
§ Mr. Jeger
This case was tried by the courts there. The man was acquitted on 1232 the charge on which he was falsely arrested and he was actually awarded £40 damages and costs amounting to £60 which, unfortunately, he has not been able to recover. The Government repudiated responsibility and settled it on the police officer who made the original arrest. That is not in accordance with our code of justice. I ask that the Colonial Secretary should bring the matter to the attention of the Government of Jamaica and implore them to bring their own conception of justice more into line with ours, so that, just as we continue to advance their material development, so we will assist them to bring a proper sense of respect and justice to their own people in their own land.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
I am honoured that it should fall to me to cross swords tonight with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but let me hasten to assure him that the duel has only been arranged in this way because we thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to open the Debate and not wind it up.
I wish to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) in expressing general approval of the Bill before us. Like him, however, I must express regret that the additional expenditure incurred does not result from any constructive proposals but merely from the fall in the purchasing value of the pound from 20s. to 16s. While, therefore, we applaud the Government's decision not to allow the development or welfare schemes in the Colonies to suffer from the inflation, we must altogether dissociate ourselves from the Socialist financial policies by which that inflation has been so largely brought about.
§ Sir R. Acland
Has it not taken place correspondingly in France and Belgium, where there have not been Socialist Governments?
§ Mr. Amery
I should have said that we were dealing particularly with countries in the sterling area.
It is, indeed, a melancholy reflection that the provision of these additional moneys will increase the already heavy burdens on the British taxpayer, without supplying any corresponding benefits 1233 to the colonial peoples themselves. I hope that, in asking for this extra money, the Colonial Secretary will make quite sure that the equipment on which it is to be spent is indeed available. We are prepared to vote money for work that can be done, but do not want to be told, in a few months' time that the money has not been used because of the rearmament drive. I should like to associate myself with the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), who asked why it was that the sum that we are voting was not rather larger. On this side of the House, we welcome the decision of this country to co-operate in the Spender Plan, but if we are to find money for the development and welfare of independent Siam, of Burma, which has left the Commonwealth, or of French Indo-China, it seems a pity that we cannot find an equivalent amount for our own Colonies.
In Clause 1 of the Bill, it is proposed to set a ceiling of £2,500,000 to the money that can be spent each year upon research. I wonder whether this limiting provision is altogether wise. We are faced in the Colonial Territories, and especially in Africa, with revolutionary developments without precedent in history. Millions of human beings are passing, in a single lifetime, from the most primitive, tribal and pastoral way of life into the industrial twentieth century. Growing prosperity and the fight against disease are all leading to rapid increases in the population, and my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) has told us that the population would double in the course of this generation, without the chance of finding sufficient food for them. New problems are arising, both material and psychological, the importance of which is not yet fully comprehended by any of us.
In these circumstances, it would seem to me to be the duty of the Government to look ahead, and I can think of no more practical method of doing this than by intensifying the work of research. Last year, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire urged the Government to lift the annual ceiling on research altogether and sweep it away. May I repeat that advice to the Colonial Secretary tonight?
1234 We have made it clear that we on this side of the House shall require some elucidation of the meaning of Clause 2 before we can give the Bill, as it now stands, our support on the Committee stage. In my view, the central principle to be safeguarded is the accountability of the Secretary of State. The moneys which we vote under this Bill are in the strictest sense a trust, and it is the very essence of a trust that it should be rendered accountable and even made to cease totally when it is used for purposes substantially different from those for which it was called into being.
This trust was derived from the British people through the House of Commons, and it is to the House of Commons that account of its fulfilment must be given. We do not want to be told one day that the Secretary of State is either unwilling or unable to answer questions in connection with the operation of colonial development or welfare projects on the ground that they are the responsibility of colonial governments over which he has no jurisdiction. It was, after all, one of the objects of the 1945 Act to prepare the Colonies to assume the responsibility of self-government, and we must remember that if moneys voted for that purpose are to be spent on Colonies already enjoying self-government, then the rate of constitutional advance of the other Colonies will be correspondingly delayed. The total sum, after all, is not unlimited.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. R. Robinson) about the importance of increasing communications in the Colonial Empire. Although I have not sufficient expert knowledge to pronounce, it was my impression, on looking through the figures in the Blue Book, that the amounts to be spent on communications are small in comparison with what is to be spent on other projects. In particular, I should have thought the time had come to revive the attempts made in the past to subsidise existing or set up new shipping lines operating between this country and the West Indies. I believe that by doing so there is a possibility of promoting the prosperity of those islands as well as facilitating a good deal of trade in citrus fruits and sugar with this country.
Another point I wish to make is this. Is any provision being made in the 1235 Festival of Britain to draw attention to what we in this country are doing in the way of colonial development?
The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) was, perhaps, the outstanding example of those who try to widen the gulf on this issue which stands between the parties. He said that in making these moneys available to the Colonies we were only giving back to them what we had taken from them in the past. He compared the colonial régime of the past with that of the Tsar of Russia. From listening to him, one would gain the impression that before the European cast his shadow on the scene, the native in Africa was enjoying full freedom, prosperity, Elysian happiness, and the pursuit of admirable customs. But what were those customs? Slavery was one, ritual murder was another, and cannibalism was another. Of course, there is still a lot more to be done. We are well aware of that.
When I said a moment ago that I hoped the Secretary of State would elucidate the meaning of Clause 2 and the question of his responsibility to the House, I did not mean to suggest—and I should like to make this clear—that we should never provide moneys for development or welfare in Colonies which already enjoy the responsibility of self-government. It seems to me, however, that when such cases arise they should be the subject of separate legislation, as in the case of the Malta (Reconstruction) Act, 1947.
Colonial development and welfare has been urged as a necessary antidote to Communism. No doubt the threatening character of the international scene today demands that we should press on with this task all the more urgently, but let us not forget the more positive consideration by which our policy in this matter is inspired. In my submission, the development of the Colonies and the welfare of their peoples remain the justification of direct British rule just as they are also the condition of all ordered progress towards responsible self-government. [An HON. MEMBER: "A chip of the old block."] The Minister sometimes seems to us to be in danger of forgetting that to give advanced constitutions to people still living in ignorance and poverty is to run the risk of making a mockery of self-government, and to issue an open invita- 1236 tion to anarchy. Hon. Members will no doubt have read the article of my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) written in co-operation with the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. G. Cooper) on the other side of the House. We associate ourselves with the anxieties expressed in their article and only hope that our anxieties may be exaggerated.
Economic and social development must go hand in hand. Health is essential to hard work, and education is essential to the handling of modern machinery. It is, however, important to remember that, to some extent, welfare must be limited by the economic possibilities of the Colony concerned. It is no use saddling a Colony with expensive projects, and then, when the operation of this Act comes to an end, finding the Colony has not the resources to keep the project going. Welfare expenditure must thus be limited to economic possibilities, and in the same way the rate of progress towards constitutional government must be limited by those two factors.
I wish I felt more convinced that the Government had a coherent policy for each Colony in which economic possibilities, welfare needs, and constitutional advance were all carefully related one to another. It often seems to us that there is evidence that overseas, as sometimes here at home, they are merely stumbling from one expedient to another. Sound administration remains the indispensable basis of all successful development and welfare work in the Colonies. We must not forget, however, that the introduction of 20th century techniques into the Colonies—of large-scale public works and measures of the Welfare State type—throws a heavy additional burden upon the administration.
I am here endorsing the view expressed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) when I say it is essential, therefore, for the success of schemes of development and welfare and of all ordered progress towards self-government that, while progressively associating the colonial peoples with the work of administration, we should maintain and, if possible, increase the British administrative element. But it is no use, of course, recruiting a British administrative element unless we get the best type of man, and we cannot get him unless we create the 1237 necessary conditions, material and psychological. I am not convinced that we are paying the King's servants in the Colonies the rate for the job. This applies especially to the senior officials. In the past, a great many of them had means of their own but now, for better or for worse, that situation no longer prevails. If we are to maintain the high standards of administration which were our pride in days gone by, we shall have to re-examine the whole question of the remuneration of the higher Civil Service.
But the question of pay is not the end of it. There is the question of confidence also. The Government must make it clear that they regard constitutional advance not as the liquidation of British responsibility in the Colonies but as a progressive expansion of the partnership between the British and colonial peoples. We are not, I hope, a merely transitory element in Africa or elsewhere. But there is, of course, another side to this matter. I believe much more could be done by way of exchanging what, for the purpose of argument, I may call native civil servants between the different Colonies, so as to give them a broader horizon and the feeling that not only is the Englishman their partner in their particular Colony, but that they are his partners in the whole Commonwealth and Empire.
This brings me to a problem of growing importance, especially in East Africa; the problem of the relationship between European and African, from which I do not think we can separate this question of colonial development and welfare. We should try to return to Cecil Rhodes' conception of "equal rights for all civilised men"; we should substitute, in fact, a culture bar for the colour bar. I know that I shall be told that the conception of a property or an educational qualification is undemocratic, but frankly I am not persuaded that majority rule is in all conceivable circumstances the best type of government.
§ Mr. Amery
I understand that that is the case, although I do not think that any hon. Member who is not on the Front Bench can commit his party. As I was saying, I am not persuaded that majority rule is in all conceivable circumstances the best type of government. There have been 1238 a great many types of government in the world, and there have been cases where majority rule is not always the best. The Gaderene swine, after all, acted with a unanimity which would have delighted the heart of any chief whip. But who shall say that they went into the right lobby?
We must not forget that in this country, where democratic government has been developed perhaps more successfully than anywhere else in the world, the extension of the franchise has always followed the extension of the educational system; it has never preceded it. The conception of "equal rights for every civilised man" recognises the fact that the great mass of the African people are still sunk in primitive conditions; but it also proclaims not only that racial equality is the ultimate goal but that the work of partnership between white and black can begin here and now, if only on a limited scale.
§ Dr. Morgan
Does the hon. Member agree that the moment he introduces the word "civilised" it means that one must have a standard or some explanation or some definition of what is called civilisation?
§ Mr. Amery
I think the hon. Member has put his finger on the difficulty. Of course, that is so. Nothing of this kind in life is very simple, but it seems to me to be a great step forward from the colour bar as we know it today. I hope the Government will bear this conception in mind, and I hope not only our Government but the Government of Rhodesia, when the time comes to consider such conclusions as may emerge from the forthcoming conference of which we were given notice yesterday. I would also appeal to hon. Members opposite who have some influence with the trade union movement to use their influence with the white trade unionists in Africa to take a broader view of this whole problem.
The Colonial Development and Welfare Act can be likened to a scaffolding, thanks to which the Colonies can undertake those tasks which they could not accomplish by themselves alone. It is not, however, intended to be permanent. The economic development and health schemes which are fostered under this Act must one day be made self-supporting. That is to say, they will have to be financed out of colonial revenue, and revenue depends, above all, on the level of prosperity. If 1239 they are to endure, development and welfare projects must form part of an overall colonial policy which embraces investment and trade. So far as investment in the Colonies is concerned, the Government have shown considerable initiative, if with rather varying results. Indeed, it has been one of the silver linings, as I see it, to the dark cloud of Socialism that high taxation here at home has sent a certain amount of capital to work in the building of the Colonial Empire.
But of course, it is no use increasing production unless we can be sure of disposing of the goods produced. What is wanted now is a trade policy for the Colonies. It is, of course, very difficult to plan in detail for the future world consumption of primary produce. The fluctuations in price levels are too great. A considerable measure of risk is bound to attend the operations of those who invest in the Colonies, and they accept it, but if we cannot insure against those risks by making exact plans, we can at least proclaim the principle and the policy which will determine the Government's broad attitude towards the problem of marketing colonial produce.
What should this policy be? In my submission the Government should undertake, within reasonable economic limits, to give priority in the British market to the colonial producer as against the foreign producer. There are many ways in which this can be done. We on this side of the House have always preferred the method of a preference upon a tariff. We regard it as the most liberal and flexible method of influencing the flow of trade.
In this connection I want to say that I strongly support the declaration which my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire has made on more than one occasion from the Opposition Front Bench—that we, on this side of the House, could not consider ourselves bound by any long-term agreements in respect of preference which may be entered into at the present conference at Torquay. I hope his words have been noted not only by Ministers but by the other delegates at Torquay. They should certainly give encouragement to all those who have invested or are contemplating investment in the Colonial Empire.
1240 But I do not think that this should be a party matter. It is not only Empire preference which is under fire at Torquay. State trading and subsidies are also being attacked. The respective merits of those measures, as against Imperial preferences, are very proper subjects upon which Socialists and Conservatives may differ. But it seems to me that we ought to be able to agree on this principle then, by one method or another, the Government of the day, be it Socialist or Conservative, should, within reasonable economic limits, give priority to the colonial producer as against the foreign producer.
I am deeply convinced that the success or failure of the development and welfare schemes which we are debating today depends upon our maintaining the right to pursue a policy of unfettered mutual economic co-operation within the whole Commonwealth and Empire. The road to social reform and development cannot lie for long, in the Colonies any more than here, in the re-distribution of existing wealth, whether between individuals in a society or between nations in a Commonwealth. In the long run it can lie only in the creation of new wealth, and, in the circumstances of today, that new wealth will only be created, as I see it, by the expansion of Commonwealth resources and Commonwealth markets. I would go so far as to say that a policy of Empire development and welfare cannot succeed unless it is accompanied by a policy of Empire preference.
I trust that in the operation of the Act the Government are taking steps to keep the other nations of the Commonwealth informed of what we are doing in the Colonies. We need their investment, we need their support, we may also need their co-operation in defence. It may even be possible to associate the Commonwealth nations in some of the work which we are undertaking under this Bill. Canada, after all, has very close ties with the West Indies, and if Australia is interested in and prepared to contribute to the economic and social development of Siam, I can hardly believe that she will not also be interested in what is happening in East Africa. In the same way, I hope that the Government are consulting closely with the other colonial Powers in Europe. There is room for much closer co-operation between us, especially in Africa and in South-East Asia.
1241 In giving our support to the Second Reading of this Bill, we on this side of the House are continuing in the line of policy which has been ours for more than a century and a half. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State, in what, I think, was the only partisan observations which he made today, admittedly in a brief speech spoke of the large sums which have been spent on the Colonies since his party came into power. Hon. Members on the Government Benches sometimes give the impression that they think there was no colonial development or welfare before 1945. With your permission, Sir, I should like to read one quotation to the House which I think has some bearing on this matter:If we listen to the voice of reason and duty, and pursue this night the line of conduct which they prescribe, some of us may live to see a reverse of that picture from which we now turn our eyes with shame and regret. We may live to behold the natives of Africa engaged in the calm occupations of industry, in the pursuits of a just and legitimate concern. We may behold the beams of science and philosophy breaking in upon their land, which, at some happy period, in still later times, may blaze with full lustre, and may illuminate and invigorate the most distant extremities of that immense continent. Then may we hope that even Africa, though last of all the quarters of the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the evening of her days, those blessings which have descended so plentifully upon us in a much earlier period of the world. Then also will Europe, participating in her improvement and prosperity, receive an ample recompense for the tardy kindness (if kindness it can be called) of no longer hindering that continent from extricating herself out of the darkness which, in other more fortunate regions, has been so much more speedily dispelled. … It is in this view, Sir—it is as an atonement for our long and cruel injustice towards Africa, that the Measure proposed by my hon. Friend most forcibly recommends itself to my mind.These words are not taken from any contemporary speech or any speech by any exponent of Fabian doctrines. They were spoken by the younger Pitt in 1792. His words, and the abolition of the slave trade which followed the debate from which I have quoted, may well be taken as the starting point of a policy of welfare in the Colonies. The conception of trusteeship, after all, upon which this whole Bill is based, was first propounded by Burke.
Colonial development and welfare in the modern sense was not started, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies), suggested, 1242 in the 1929 Act. It was started, I suppose, in the modern sense, by Joseph Chamberlain. His work for the development of tropical medicine and for the reconstruction of the West Indies by grants-in-aid marks the beginning of the policy of constructive Government intervention in the problems of development and welfare. The House will, I hope, forgive me if I take a certain filial pride in-later achievements in the same sphere.
Tonight, however, I wish to pay a special tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Stanley). The House knows well the part he played in developing the conception of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. We wish he were with us tonight. But I think that no message we can send him tonight can be of greater comfort to him than the knowledge that his work is continuing, and that, in a dark hour, more moneys are being voted to see that it is maintained on the scale he intended.
But, if we take pride in our own achievements in the past, we do not wish to withhold a just appreciation of the work which has been done by the present Colonial Secretary and by his predecessor. We welcome their achievements—with all the greater warmth, perhaps, when we remember the attitude of some of their colleagues towards colonial problems in days now, happily, gone by. Recent debates in this House on other matters have shown that the gulf which yawns between us has grown, in many respects, very deep. Tonight, however, our discussion has shown a remarkable degree of unity. Let us hope that, in these great matters of Imperial policy at least, that unity will steadily continue to grow.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. James Griffiths)
I am grateful to Members in all parts of the House for the reception they have given to this Bill, and I hope that in a very short time we shall give it a unanimous Second Reading. I am also grateful for the many very interesting, informative and constructive speeches we have listened to, again from every part of the House; and I am glad to have the privilege of speaking after the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery), who is following a family tradition—for his father was one of my distinguished predecessors very many years ago; and I listened with great 1243 interest to his speech, though disagreeing with a great deal of what he said and a great deal of what he implied.
In the nine months in which I have had the privilege of occupying this very important and difficult office, this is the fourth Debate on colonial affairs. I think it is almost a record that within nine months we have devoted, if not four days, at least three-and-a-half days to colonial affairs. That is a development which we all welcome, and which will be welcomed not only in this House but in the Colonial Territories themselves and amongst the colonial peoples. I hope that in future years there will be further opportunities in this House of discussing these important and difficult problems which are centred in our responsibilities for carrying out our policy for these territories.
One of the great, and indeed insurmountable, difficulties in replying to any kind of debate, even a debate upon the Second Reading of a Bill which might have been confined to the terms of the Bill but which on this occasion has roamed very wide indeed, is that it is physically impossible in the time available for anyone to reply adequately and to deal with all the individual points raised. Therefore, if in the course of my reply in the time available I do not deal with every point that has been made—and sometimes individual cases have been raised, such as that referred to by the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. Jeger), about which I want to say there will be an inquiry—I do not want it to be understood that we are in any way unmindful of individual cases brought to our attention. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State did reply to that one individual case yesterday, and said it was being investigated.
The Colonial Development and Welfare Act which we are today amending in this Bill, and whose funds we are supplementing, and the Colonial Development Corporation have now become by common consent, on both sides of the House, the major instruments for the furtherance of that part of our policy in the Colonial Territories which aims at establishing the economic and social foundations upon which responsible democratic self-government within the Commonwealth can be based. Those two are supplementary and complementary, and the way in which the Colonial Development and 1244 Welfare Act and the Colonial Development Corporation supplement and complement each other's work was brought out in the words which I should like to quote, for they express it very clearly and lucidly, in the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation for 1949. These are the words:the indispensable foundations of development must be the provision of ports, roads and railways, schools, and hospitals. These fall within the sphere of Colonial government finance, assisted by the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. Upon this basis must be built the agricultural and industrial activities which will raise the level of production, living standards, and exports, partly by way of new undertakings, partly by the reinforcement, technical and financial, of existing enterprises and partly by the progress of indigenous producers in modern techniques.I think that expresses what is the purpose of these two great instruments which we have used now for some years, and which it will be agreed have made a notable contribution towards the development of the resources of these Colonial Territories.
The Colonial Development and Welfare Act and, indeed, the funds available to the Colonial Development Corporation are not intended completely to replace private investment in these Colonial Territories but to supplement them and to complement them. Perhaps I might be allowed to say—and I say this not in any party spirit, because I think any examination of the problem shows it to be true—that in addition to supplementing and complementing private investment in the Colonial Territories, they also are an effective instrument to correct some of its evil legacies, for let me begin by saying that private investment, urged on by the profit motive, often accompanied by adventure—and I do not want to argue the merits or demerits now—have played a notable part in the development of these Colonial Territories in the last half of the 19th century and in the first quarter of this century.
At the same time anybody who knows the problems of those Colonial Territories knows that they left evil legacies too. Let me mention one or two. Production, development and expansion were undertaken because of the profit motive. What has it left out there? It has left us in almost every one of these territories with ill-balanced economies through over dependence on one or two 1245 basic commodities. We saw, particularly in the 1930's, some of these Colonial Territories reduced to terrifying distress because the one or two basic commodities on which they were dependent fell into serious depression. This brought about the almost complete wreck of their economies with almost appalling political consequences. That is one of the evil legacies which is beyond dispute.
The second is that, quite frankly, there was, and sometimes is now, a failure to plough back into the development of the territories themselves a fair proportion of the profits made in those territories. The Minister of State, speaking earlier when introducing the Bill, indicated that in future we shall ourselves, in considering schemes for these territories, attach considerable importance to the fact that the Colonial Governments themselves are using the resources available to them, including what they can raise by taxation, to the utmost limit of their capacity, as we are doing in this country now.
One last legacy, which it is very important that we should correct, is this. In any case, the good and bad effects of the old time economic development of these Colonies failed in one thing. It was developed by outsiders who never made any attempt to associate the people in the territories with the development which was taking place.
§ Sir P. Macdonald rose—
§ Mr. Griffiths
I have to reply to a large number of speeches and to close before Ten o'Clock because of the Money Resolution.
It is, therefore, in our view, part of the functions of these two great instruments to correct these defects and to supplement and complement our investment and not replace it. In the future, we shall see in the economic and social development of these territories that this kind of collective and private investment both play their part. I shall return to that theme when I consider the future development of these territories.
What this Bill does is to add a certain sum to supplement the existing resources made available under the existing Act. I would refer hon. Members in every part of the House to Appendix IIIB, page 153, of the Colonial Territories Annual Report for 1949–50, which is my annual report to the House. There they will find 1246 a statement indicating some particulars about the approved 10 years' development plan in these Colonial Territories up to a certain date. It indicates that the total provision for schemes under the 10 years' plan submitted by the Colonial Territories amounts to £177,335,000. I would particularly direct the attention of hon. Members to the classification in this table which indicates the percentage of that total to be spent on varying accounts and provisions.
For example, 19.4 per cent. is to be spent on communications, 23.5 per cent. on economic development, 47.2 per cent. on development and social services, and 9.9 per cent. on development of miscellaneous services. It will be noted that until recently a fairly large proportion—nearly one-half—was planned to be spent on the development of social services. The fact was that in most of these Colonial Territories the provision of social services—let me be quite frank—was appallingly inadequate—the provision, for instance, of schools and hospitals, the fight against disease, ignorance and squalor. Therefore, it was not only inevitable, indeed it was desirable that in this first period a very big proportion should be so spent. I say that because I want to say a word about this further sum for future development.
It is very important not only that we shall develop the social services as we have been doing, but that we should also strengthen the economic foundations on which these can be sustained and upon which their expansion depends. Drawing on my experience as Minister of National Insurance I can say that once social services are created they tend to grow by themselves, and it will be so in the Colonial Territories. Expenditure will grow, and, therefore, primary consideration will be given to schemes that are designed to strengthen the economic foundations, which we believe, looking ahead, is the greatest need.
That does not mean that by any means we have yet anything like adequate social services. Indeed, they are still deficient, but at the same time I am anxious to see development take place on strong grounds. I do not want a superstructure of social services, which will at some time collapse because the economic foundations under them are not sound. We shall attach considerable importance and give 1247 prime consideration to schemes intended to strengthen the economic foundations.
Let me now turn to the Clause which was referred to by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) and the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery). We shall have more opportunity on the Committee Stage to discuss this matter, but I should like to say now that I do not propose to attempt to define what is meant by responsible Government either in the context of this Bill, in the Act of 1940, or anywhere else. I can remember my old minister in my village stating that he never found a definition of character which pleased him, but he knew a man of character when he saw him. I am not going to define "responsible Government" though I think I shall know it when I see it.
The reason why we have introduced this Clause is not for theoretical considerations, but because of what happened three years ago when we came to make some provision for Malta. We were then advised that it was essential to include a Clause in that Act to enable us to make the money available even should there be constitutional changes in Malta, which would result in responsible government, and, therefore, might place the island outside the scope of the Bill. In the Colonial Territories we do not want any constitutional changes to interfere with this scheme. I do not want to refer in detail to the question of constitutional advances, but we are going towards self-government in many areas. It is very difficult for anyone to pinpoint something and say that at a given stage of development, "This has become responsible Government as defined in this Bill."
I am sure I carry with me the Members on both sides of the House when I say it would be a very great pity indeed if, having approved this scheme and having told certain colonial territories to get on with the scheme and that we should help them in their finances, a constitutional change should take place which would prevent us from giving any money out of this fund on the grounds that the country was now enjoying responsible Government. I believe it is far better to remove this from the 1940 Act, and that is what we propose to do, in that way leaving it to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who is responsible to Parliament, to decide 1248 this without having to pull himself up and say, "Can I pay this money because of the constitutional change that has taken place?"
I accept quite fully the responsibility for seeing how the money is used which is voted out of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. All of it is voted for specific purposes, for schemes that are vetted, examined and approved, and it is my responsibility to see that those moneys are spent on the projects for which they were approved. If I may leave the matter at this point for the moment, we may be able to discuss it further, if that is the desire of hon. Members, when we come to the Committee stage.
Another point which was raised by more than one hon. Member is the provision under the Bill and through the Colonial Development Corporation for private investment. Questions have been raised today about other sources from which help can come. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire and others also raised questions about the moneys that are—"available" is the wrong word; of the surpluses that have been accumulated by the marketing boards in West Africa and elsewhere. I am sure that I carry the House with me when I say that I have encouraged the development of these boards and of produce boards. I want to see them developing more and more upon co-operative lines. Indeed, I look forward to the development of co-operation playing a very big part among the peasant agricultural communities.
I come from the county of Carmarthen, an area which is partly coal, partly tinplate and partly dairy farming, and I have seen the enormous change and the greater security which has been brought to the farmers by the development of marketing organisations and, particularly, the Milk Marketing Board. I want to see a tremendous development of producer co-operation in every Colonial territory. I have therefore encouraged these marketing boards. They are accumulating funds to act as a cushion in case falls in prices and depression were to come again, and I think that they are right. The funds now accumulated are very substantial, amounting to several tens of millions of pounds if all the boards were aggregated together. I want to pay my tribute to the fact that many of these boards have used some of 1249 the funds which they have accumulated to assist in research and development. They have made very generous gifts to some of the new universities which have been founded in Africa.
I want, however, to say this. Marketing boards work under ordinances. The funds which have been accumulated can only be used for purposes defined in those ordinances. I am sure that the hon. Member was not suggesting—I want to get this clear—that the Secretary of State or the Government here should seek to raid those funds. It is essential to get that clear here and elsewhere if this Debate is reported. All that has been asked, I understand, was whether these boards themselves might use some of this money for further development, even if it is development outside the industry or the product in which the sums have been accumulated.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
To make it quite plain, let me say that the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of what I said is quite correct.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am sure that the hon. Member did not mind my putting it in that way, because I, too, wanted to get it correct. We shall certainly encourage the use of as much of these funds as is possible, wise and prudent, in development. At the same time, I agree with the policy of keeping a cushion, because nothing could be worse, if once more depression came and prices fell, than the primary producers being reduced to poverty. It is good to know that a cushion exists which gives them a sense of security. This is absolutely essential, not only for economic development, but also for political stability, for what creates political instability more than anything else is not some speech which might be made, but economic insecurity, distress, poverty and the rest.
In regard to other sources of investment, there is no discrimination against investment, from America or elsewhere—no discrimination whatever. If money is invested in these Colonial territories it will be welcomed, but in addition to private investment, I am certain that what we are doing here in a collective fashion is absolutely essential.
At the same time, I want to make clear that we are not in any way, and neither 1250 are Colonial governments, using any kind of discriminatory power against private investment. Suggestions have been made about political instability, as it is called, which I suppose means the fact that all these Colonial territories are in varying stages of development towards self-government, and that because we are in this transition stage private investment will be kept away. I beg hon. Members to realise what words of that sort may mean to those people on the march to constitutional development. Is it suggested that, with investment, they should cease asking for self-government? One thing I have learned in nine months is how important it is when we speak in this House or elsewhere about Colonial Territories for us to visualise and realise how words we use can be, perhaps, misinterpreted.
Everyone, those interested in private investment and everyone else, must not think in 1950 that investment can be secured by bargaining about political powers and political advance. It would be the most dangerous thing to do. Believe me, that is the way to hand the world over to the Kremlin. I am only saying that that is the possible impression—
§ Mr. Griffiths
We welcome private investment, we are seeking to supplement it, but it must be private investment and public investment by us as a country and nation. None of us must say, I think it is wrong for us to say, I think it morally wrong and political inexpediency of the worst kind to attach terms of the kind I have mentioned.
I wish to say a few words about the very important point raised to the effect that in all these schemes trained personnel and recruitment is of the utmost importance. I am also concerned about the ex-patriate officer. I want to find out in what form and way he can be given security. I am giving very serious attention to this problem. I am very anxious about this, and here I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland). Successive generations of men have left this country for the Colonial Territories imbued with a sense of adventure, missionaries and others. If young men and women of this country go out to work in any sphere in these Colonial Territories they are rendering a great service to this country, to the Common- 1251 wealth, and to the world, for they are helping to ensure that they develop as democratic countries and not as other countries.
I make a plea to those in the Colonial Territories who come over here and go to the universities to train. To be perfectly frank, I am somewhat perturbed about the proportion who want to be trained for the professions and want to be lawyers. I should like more of them to want to become engineers, scientists, technicians and artisans because, if we are to build a democratic State, we must have all these varieties of skill and achievement.
My time is up, and I have left many questions unanswered. This has been a very wide Debate, and I was anxious to give the broad outline of the work and purpose that lie behind this and the other Measures. However good our plans may be, we shall fail unless as these plans develop we increasingly associate with them the people in the Colonial Territories until development becomes a real partnership with them, that it is not being done because we are doing it for them. That is why I reject the suggestion of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) to have a plaque put up saying "This is a gift from the people of the United Kingdom." I do not want the people in the Colonies to look upon what is done as a gift. I want them and us to look upon it as a great partnership, in which here in the United Kingdom and in the Colonial Territories we are all working together through these instruments whereby their resources may be developed and their social services and standards may be built up so that they may ultimately become equal partners in the Commonwealth. That is the purpose of this Bill, to which I hope the House will give a unanimous Second Reading.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Sparks.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.