§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
I do not think the Committee will expect anything in the nature of an apology if we turn now from the issue which the Committee has just decided, to examine the situation in Malaya. I think the Committee will feel that we have a duty to pass events there under review from time to time, if only in justice to those who are serving there—and I use "serving" in the widest term to cover the planters and tin miners as well as the Forces themselves and the police.
It is about three years now or more since in Malaya there has has been constantly a state of war, by whatever more agreeable name we may care to disguise it. I feel that we need to make known the part which has been played by our own people, by the people of Malaya and by those who have worked with them during these last three years. We need to make it known, not only for our own purposes here at home, but in the wider world interest. I find, for instance, that many of my American friends are singularly lacking in information about what is going on. I do not blame them for that, but I think we should do everything which lies in our power to make the world understand the extent of the contribution we are making there. For three years or more our planters and the tin miners, the soldiers and the police, the Malay population—or large portions of it—and also the Chinese, have been living under a constant strain and under conditions little different from war.
During that time, and despite all this, they have made a signal contribution to the restoration of our economy and to our balance of payments with the United States. I do not propose to weary the Committee with figures tonight, but I have one here which I think I should give. I think I am right in saying that last year the value of the exports from Malaya to the United States alone, not including Canada, was about £122 million. As against that, they spent £10 million themselves in the United States leaving us with a favourable balance for the Sterling Area, in respect of that territory, of £112 million. That is a very remarkable achievement, particularly bearing in mind the conditions under 1996 which they have to work, and I think the Committee should pay tribute to that and to the men wo have made it possible.
A special tribute is also due to the troops. They have had a long test of endurance in an extremely exacting climate, and during that time each of the distinguished and famous regiments out there has added lustre to its annals by its achievements. I think tonight we might both think of them and thank them for what they have achieved. Equally, I am not forgetting the Gurkhas, whose record has been a brilliant one, or the Malay Forces and the police. Only yesterday morning I read of the losses which befell the Worcestershire Regiment in an ambush. The toll continues all the time and the fact that it seldom catches the public eye does not mean that the strain is any the less upon the men who have to be constantly on the watch.
I was glad to hear that we are to increase the Malay Regiment. That is a wise step to have taken. When we discussed the matter in the House last summer I spoke of the loyalty of the Malays and of the great majority of the Chinese in that country. I believe that still to be true of the overwhelming majority of the population. Since we last discussed the matter the Briggs plan has been brought into operation, and I hope the Secretary of State can give us some information tonight about the progress of that plan. How is it affecting security and the daily life of those who have to live and work in Malaya? What progress is being made with the regrouping of employees on plantations and in the mines, which, I understand, forms a large part of the resettlement plan? No doubt there is full consultation with the plantation and mining interests, but we should like to know about it and how it works.
Is the plan easing the strain which, let the Committee remember, grows more severe with the passage of years and not less severe for those who have been there all that time in that climate? What of the problems of resettlement, particularly in respect of the Chinese? When we last debated the matter we were told that one of the difficulties in the resettlement of the Chinese was the language question —the shortage of Chinese-speaking officers. Are we in a fair way to mending that state of affairs? Is progress being made there?
1997 The same language problem also arises in relation to the Malay Regiment, to which I have already referred. The arrangement is not the same as that which used to apply in the Indian Army, where we had officers who spent their whole lives in India and in one Regiment. In this case these officers are seconded, as I understand it, much as are the officers of the King's African Rifles or in West Africa. That is a perfectly good system, with which I do not quarrel, but it means that an officer must learn the language before he can make any contribution at all. Have we now enough Malay-speaking officers for this purpose and, if not, what progress is being made to meet that quite essential need?
If what I have said is true of the military situation, it is equally true that it is vital to strengthen the civil administration. It is no use the Army and the police killing Communists in the engagements which constantly take place if the home front is not strongly held. In that connection I was rather disturbed to see a report in "The Times" the other day, written by their correspondent, about the equipment of the police. I hope the Secretary of State can tell us that this state of affairs is being mended.
Here, in a very objective report, are these words about the police:The lack of trained officers…"—that we know about—but the dangerous lack of arms and equipment is not easy to explain,It certainly is not easy to explain after three years. The correspondent continues:…especially as shortages were forecast by the police many months ago. These shortages will be more keenly felt when the first drafts of recruits conscribed under the new manpower regulations report to the depots.The correspondent then lists the shortages which, he says, includesmall arms and ammunition.Why should there be any shortage like that? His list includes:jungle-green uniforms and web equipment. Orders for delivery this year, which are urgently needed now, have not yet been supplied. This is affecting the patrolling and will restrict the ability of the force to clothe and equip speedily the new jungle companies. Only one-third of these can be equipped from stocks.1998 It is rather disturbing to read such a report at this time of the day, after more than three years of these operations in Malaya, and I hope that we shall have some information about the position from the Secretary of State before the end of the debate. I hope he will not say that the position is getting better, because we have been told that once or twice before when we have asked about equipment shortages. It is time that it not only got better but that we could be told that the situation was satisfactory from the point of view of the forces who carry out these operations, be they police or be they military.
Another point in connection with the home front is this. What inducement, if any, is being offered to men of outstanding experience, who have served in Malaya, to stay on? I should imagine that in the present difficulties there must often be instances when the Secretary of State or the authority in Malaya would like to induce some men to stay. Can they make them offers to do so?
That leads me to another problem which was certainly much in mind when I was in Malaya, as I suppose it is today —the question of war compensation. Before anybody on the benches opposite becomes angry or indignant, let me say that this is not just a matter of paying large sums of money to rich rubber companies. It is much more difficult and much deeper than that because, as the Secretary of State knows very well, many of these claimants are not wealthy men. They are not even British, if that be a crime—I do not know—when these claims are made. Many of them are Malays and Chinese and people of comparatively small means, and it is certainly not good for morale that, when these men have claims against His Majesty's Government for war damage which occurred so many years ago, those claims should not now be met. I hope the Secretary of State will be able to tell us something about that.
Will he, or someone else, later in the debate, also tell us about the administration in Singapore, because the account of the rioting last December, which we all read, cannot have been very heartening reading for anybody. It seems that the casualties were 16 killed and 159 injured and that for a considerable period it was impossible to move about the city. That is the position as I understand it, and it 1999 is a fairly hard blow to confidence, especially if what happened in Singapore has its inevitable reaction further north. I know that a commission of inquiry is sitting, and I am not asking the right hon. Gentleman to lift the veil in that respect, but I should like to know that the immediate lessons which must have been learned from what happened in Singapore are being applied now, even while we are awaiting the report of the inquiry.
Let me sum up the position as I see it. It seems to me that we have three tasks in Malaya: first, to win the jungle war; second, to maintain the morale and stability of the home front in Malaya; third, to win the war of ideas. If we are to repel the Communist creed, as well as stop Communist infiltration in the military sense, we have to put forward our faith in a positive fashion and not merely be content with denunciations of the Communist creed.
This brings us to one of the most important aspects of the situation in Malaya, and that is the question of the war of ideas. The greatest care has to be taken and the greatest energy has to be shown in what is being done in our publicity, on the same lines of what was done by the Political Warfare Executive during the Second World War. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will show a little of what is being done there. It cannot do any harm, because, presumably, others know what is going on.
Radio Malaya, I am told, is doing a pretty good job; but I have also heard —it may be wrong; I hope it is—that they are rather short of staff. If so, I should hope that extra staff would be provided, because, however eager we may be for economy, it would be the worst possible economy at a time like this to be cheeseparing in a service on which depends our conveying our message to those people. I am told—I do not know if it be true—that in Northern Rhodesia a quite considerable number of radio sets have been distributed by the Colonial Office or its authorities to the population there. I do not know if that is true, but if that be so, then I should think that there is an even stronger case for doing that in Malaya than there is for doing it in Northern Rhodesia, so that there may be a chance of the people in Malaya receiving our message—if it be a good 2000 message, as I hope it will be, which is being put out to them in that part of the world.
If publicity is important, and propaganda, so is education, and I must say that I was a little disturbed to read that, in those recent riots in Singapore, among those arrested was a lecturer at the new Malay University in Singapore. Of course, we are used to students kicking over the political traces in all parts of the world, but it is a little more considerable if dons are to start doing that. I do not know how far that happened, but it is a little disturbing that this should have happened, this new university having just been launched, with the good will of universities here, which sent out help to it.
I am not suggesting that we can avoid Communists being here or there in any university—even here in this country, perhaps: I would not know—but in that particular territory, where we are using a university to extend to the young people knowledge of what is our kind of way of life that we want to see established for them, and faith in a future free democracy, it seems a bit unfortunate if one of the lecturers turns out to be on the other side. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us that this is not symptomatic but merely accidental, and that the Government will try to see that it does not happen again.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
As I understand it, the professor to whom the right hon. Gentleman has referred has not yet been tried. If that is the case, it seems to me a little doubtful whether statements of this character ought to be made, while the case is still sub judice.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. James Griffiths)
He is being detained under the emergency regulations.
§ Mr. Brockway
Within the last 10 days I asked my right hon. Friend, in 2001 a Question, whether a trial is to be accorded, and his reply was that this matter is still being considered. That being so, I fervently hope that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Learning-ton (Mr. Eden) is not right.
§ Mr. Eden
I am certainly technically all right, in that if somebody is being held under emergency regulations, I am allowed to make observations on it in this Committee. I am relieved to find I have not transgressed to the extent that, for a moment, I thought I had.
Now I want to say one or two words, very briefly, about the wider scene in which the Malayan problem is set, because it is of little use examining the position in Malaya apart from this wider scene. I hope that the Secretary of State will, if he can, give us some indication of how co-operation is now at work with Siam to the north, and of the kind of relations that are established with the French in Indo-China. I know that this question of Indo-China is one which causes a ferment, but I submit that we have to make up our minds where we are in this business, and we have only two alternatives that lie in our power to follow in Indo-China at the present time—unless we are to enter upon a campaign in Indo-China, which I do not suppose hon. Members want us to do.
We have either to assist the régime which seems to be working with a greater measure of public support as the months go by—as I hope it is—or else we have to face it that the other alternative is to help the forces which are, in fact, Communist. That is the Communist alternative. I do not think that that can be challenged by anybody. We have to make up our minds where we stand on this question, and I hope that I may know from the right hon. Gentleman what is being done in this sphere in co-operating actively with the French. The commander in chief, General de Lattre de Tassigny, is a man of outstanding energy and ability, and I hope that our commanders are in touch with him, and also with Siam on the frontier, and that good arrangements are now being made.
I go back to where I began, and repeat this to the Committee. The most important thing of all, the most important contribution that we can make in this situation now, is, I believe, to make it 2002 quite plain that we intend to see this business through in Malaya; and the most damaging thing to do is to appear to hesitate, waver, or have doubts. I have no reason to think the Government have done that, but I hope very much that this debate will enable the Government once more to show that they are determined to see this thing through in the interests of the people who live in Malaya, Malays and Chinese alike, and that nothing will deter them from that. If they make that plain they will encourage our friends, and they will daunt our foes, which is the best way to handle this business in the anxious and challenging times in which we live.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Williams (Wigan)
I think I ought to say, with regard to the last few observations made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), that, if I am certain of anything at all, I am utterly and completely certain that this Government intend to see this thing through. I am absolutely sure, too, that, if it were possible that any Government would not see it through, then they would forfeit the moral leadership of the world on this particular point. That would be so, not because of any economic interests, great and important though they are, but because at this moment, the situation in Malaya, as must surely be clear to all, is that if this country abdicated its position at this time, then nobody would suffer more than the people of Malaya. I think that that is recognised, and recognised fully, in Malaya.
On the other hand, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would probably agree with me that it must be made equally clear that, while we are going to see it through, we are going to see it through in the sense that we shall go right through to the end, which is the independence of Malaya under her own people, under her own Government, within, I devoutly hope, the British Commonwealth. There is a great job ahead, full of complexities and difficulties, but if we tried to find any other solution we should be betraying the people of Malaya.
A few months ago I was in Malaya with a delegation, and I am delighted to see three Members of that delegation on the Opposition benches tonight. I hope their presence there this evening does not 2003 mean they will engage in factious or fractious opposition on any question which may arise respecting Malaya, because the situation there is so serious that no point should be made the subject of party controversy. To do so would mean grave danger to the people of Malaya. That is not to say that I agree with every proposition hon. Members opposite might make in relation to Malaya. There were one or two propositions—perhaps more than one or two—made when the delegation was in Malaya upon which the Committee will not be surprised to know we were not in complete agreement. If that be regarded on this side as an understatement, I do not apologise. Still, while we were there we did make an effort together to investigate the facts and to get rid of some of our preconceived ideas as much as possible.
I wonder whether the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington would agree with this?—and after making my observations on this particular point I hope he will not regard it as a discourtesy if I do not follow him further in his argument. He said that, as he saw it, there were three aims in Malaya: one, to win the jungle war; two, to maintain morale and stability on the home front; and three, to win the war of ideas. Needless to say, putting his observations in that way, he found it necessary to number them so that the points could be put tidily, but I hope he will agree that they are cumulative and concurrent, and not consecutive ideas. For instance, the third aim, to win the war of ideas, is an essential part of winning the war in the jungle. If we do not win the war of ideas, whatever military force we bring to bear will be futile.
In attempting to win the war of ideas we must be able to show to the people of Malaya that we have something far better to offer them than anybody else has, and to do that we must break very sharply with some of the ideas which have obtained in the colonial field for so many years. We must, as the very basis of our approach to this problem, accept and advocate, wherever we have any influence, that there is no longer any question of racial superiority that as we proceed we are aiming for equality in racial relationship; that we recognise the 2004 dignity of the people of Malaya and the great place they will take in the future.
If the matter is approached from that standpoint we shall soon get into a little trouble with some of the things that we find in Malaya. If I have some criticism to offer I beg the Committee to appreciate that there is nothing carping about it, and that I concern myself, not with individuals and what they ought to do, but rather with what I observed in relation to tendencies.
First of all, I refer to the misgiving which I have concerning the field of industrial relations. I know it is tempting to think of our experience in this country, and to say that if it is not found in another country, that other country is necessarily inferior to us in some way. When there are no strong powerful trade unions, those of us with a trade union background feel that there is something wrong, not because we say that what we have in this country can be superimposed upon another culture but because we feel that in the development of a self-reliant labour force, trade unionism has its great place.
In Malaya I found that such trade unions as there were, were good; they were strong, enthusiastic, anti-Communist in outlook and manned by brave and vigilant men. They were manned by men who certainly knew their job, and if the trade union movement reaches a sufficient size in the economy of Malaya it can be one of the most important factors in winning the battle of ideas. I ought to make it clear that I am not asserting that a good strong trade union movement in Malaya would solve the problems which beset the people there. Far from it. But I would put it the other way round and say that the problems cannot be solved unless there is a strong powerful trade union movement.
It is important to bear in mind certain points raised in the Annual Report of 1949 concerning trade unions. I listened in complete agreement to the observations of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington regarding the sacrifices which people were making in Malaya, the threats with which they were faced and their courage in facing those threats. I do not in the least blame him for not referring specifically to the trade 2005 union side, but as other hon. Members might not have had the advantage which I had of getting into touch with the trade unionists there, I think I should draw the attention of the Committee to these very significant words on page 14 of the Annual Report:There is no need to stress the physical and psychological problem facing a voluntary trade union officer who after completing his normal day's work wishes to visit workers on the estate or mine, either to organise a meeting or to collect subscriptions, particularly if this has to be done at night. Not for him the armed escort or special security arrangements to allow him to carry out his legitimate and lawful business. He must make his way and take his chance as best he can.That was brought home to me very vividly when I addressed meetings of trade unionists in Malaya, knowing as I did that some of the people who came to the meetings had come through bandit-infested country knowing full well that the bandits had them down as marked men because they were obviously the enemies of the Communists and were prepared to say so to the workers themselves wherever they had any influence. It should be known by this Committee that that great work is going on under the most awful conditions and in face of the greatest difficulties. I would not put the bravery of these men second to the courage shown by any other section of the community out there. Equally, I acknowledge the great courage that is shown by other sections of the community.
I have spent some time in referring to trade unionism in Malaya and the importance of giving it every possible encouragement because I must say, quite frankly, that I found in Malaya a line of thought which I quite understand and appreciate, but about which we must make up our minds if we are to talk of the prospects of winning the war of ideas. I refer particularly to the paternal relationship system which exists on the rubber estates. Speaking without reference to the official report in front of me, I am open to correction if I give a wrong figure, but I am under the impression that one in 40 is the number of trade unionists on the rubber estates. That being so, I considered it necessary when I was out there to look a little more closely into this question, to see why trade unionism, whilst strong in the cities and in Government service, was not 2006 strong on the plantations; in fact it was very weak indeed. I was told there was no mystery about that, and that I was rather wasting my time if I thought that trade unionism was the appropriate form of industrial relationship.
I was told that it did not suit the Asiatic and that he did not like this form of organisation, that it was a Western thought and he was not very interested in it. I was told that the worker on the plantation looked upon the planter as his father and his mother to whom he took all his personal problems, that it was an intensely personal relationship, and the great rubber industry and other industries in Malaya had been built up on this paternalism. I was told that there were great things associated with it, such as welfare schemes, in so far as financial sources permitted, hospitals on the estates and all sorts of other amenities, and that they were set up by men who were not just "chancing their arm" in a political argument but who deeply and sincerely took the view that this form of paternalism was the right type of industrial relationship, especially in Malaya. I think that I have put the case for paternalism as clearly as I can, but I see a great danger in it, for this reason.
I come back to the battle of ideas to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. If these agreeable, cap-touching, charming individuals who are the labour force on the plantations look upon the planter as their father and their mother, they will quite obviously look upon the Communists as their father and their mother if the Communists ever get into power in that country; whereas if it is possible to get a self-reliant labour force organised into trade unions, there will be a bastion against the advance of Communism and a great victory will be won in the battle of ideas. So I ask Members of the Committee to consider quite seriously whether or not this pre-trade union type of organism is any defence at all against Communism and whether this attitude of mind may not be at the root of one of the great difficulties which we have in facing the Communist onslaught.
I want to refer to the position so far as the legal and judicial work of the government out there is concerned. I was impressed by this. I did not like the arbitrary arrests and the idea of detention camps, but I recognised that these grim, beastly necessities were forced on the 2007 administration by the emergency. I wanted to see how the legal and judicial side reacted to the state of banditry and whether there had crept into the courts an attitude of counter-banditry, and I am delighted to say that I found that was far from being the case.
I found that while certain adjustments had been made and that the court of summary jurisdiction preliminary inquiries had been cut out, in the case of the bandits caught in the act and where witnesses could be brought forward so that the case could proceed for trial, they got a fair trial in accordance with the principles of British justice, with the presumptions in the favour of the accused, and they also had the benefit of being able to select their own counsel to conduct their defence. If that can go on while the most ghastly crimes are being committed up and down the country, then I say that that, too, is something which is important in winning the battle of ideas.
I beg Members of the Committee to be patient with me, because I am afraid that when I start talking about Malaya I do not keep an eye on the clock. Before concluding my observations, I think that I ought to refer to the great work which could be done by co-operative enterprise in Malaya. In particular I should like to remind hon. Members of the plight of the Malaya fishermen who, although they are excellent fishermen are not very good in carrying out trading activities. In consequence they are unable to break the price rings out there. They are in a state of destitution and appalling debt, at the mercy of money-lenders, and it is difficult to see how it is possible to solve this grave problem without co-operative marketing organisations.
This grave economic problem affecting so many people in Malaya is referred to in the Annual Report of 1949 in very strong terms indeed. On page 25, these words appear:It is to be feared that no real improvement of the fishermen's lot can be made until the very powerful marketing ring is broken. The whole question of fish marketing is receiving the attention of Government. Until a solution is found the fishermen will remain in the clutches of the middlemen.That is, I think, a clear indictment, and hon. Members will, I hope, take note of it.
2008 Finally, I hope that in the course of his many duties it will be possible, at no distant date, for my right hon. Friend the Minister to go out to Malaya again. There were many people in Malaya who, rather to my surprise, did not consider our Government to be the greatest that this country had ever known. They had an entirely different idea. In fact, they were particularly outspoken on the subject. But they were all agreed that my right hon. Friend was a man of great human experience whose attitude to these matters won their respect and admiration, and I hope it will be possible for him once again to add his great influence and advice out there on the spot to the men who are dealing with these great difficulties.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Carlton)
This is one of the most difficult subjects, I think, upon which to address the Committee. One is almost equally caught up with diffidence if one has recently spent a week, or even a month in Malaya, or if it is a very long time since one saw a Malay. Yet our debates would become quite otiose and futile if everyone who took part in this, sort of subject was compelled to proclaim some kind of direct knowledge of it.
This is, in a sense, the extreme case of the colonial question. Here is a country where we took the population there, or brought the population there. We brought there almost all the things that matter to the population. We brought the rubber. We made it possible to clear the jungle and to use it for agriculture. We did not bring the tin, but we brought the value to the tin. There could not be an extremer case in one sense of the obvious beneficence of the outside power. That is one side of the matter.
But there is another side of the matter, that we did not do these things without our own interests being involved—nor was it right that we should. Nor would it be either convincing or intelligent for us to pretend now that our concern about this territory is wholly a concern for other people. I suppose it is pretty plain, to those who believe that power is still a part of politics, that the question of what Government is to continue, how and for what purpose, in this territory is one of the key questions of power not only for Asia but for all the world.
2009 We had better not be mealy-mouthed about that, or pretend that that consideration is not in our minds, although I think that possibly some Members opposite might perhaps be not ill-advised to offer some apologies if not for their own expressions, at least for the expressions of some of their predecessors in title on earlier occasions [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I agree that apologies are due from both sides, but I am making this speech. There are not very many Members present who remember, for instance, the sort of things that were said in this Chamber after the fall of Singapore, the kind of rejoicings there were from some Members. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] Oh yes. Hon. Members can look it up in HANSARD. I can assure Members that this is an important matter.
I do not, with respect to my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams)—I always try if I can to avoid military metaphors, although one slips into them—I do not frightfully like the "war of ideas"—[Interruption.] I could try to explain what "idea" means and also what "war" means, but a "war of ideas" is a very difficult expression. But I entirely agree with the intentions of those who have spoken before me that it is, in a sense, the most important thing before us here.
When we face that, we have to face the fact that we did commit the crime most difficult to forgive in an imperial State. We failed to protect; and that failure is much the deepest thing in the political experience of the people of whom we are talking. I have been rebuked before in this Chamber, and from the highest quarters, for having said that. I say it in no way to criticise the Government at the time of the fall of Singapore, or the Army, or the Navy, or the Air Force, or anyone else. But the fact is we failed to protect; and that is the deepest thing in the minds of that population, and the thing we have most to consider when we think about ideas and sentiments in this connection. That is what we should most apologise for, and that is what we have somehow to try to put right.
What is the situation in Malaya? I shall try to put it as shortly as I can. I admit that I have no direct information. This is the best I can do from hurried cross-examinations of persons who seem to me honest and expert. First of all, 2010 let us look at it from the European angle. There are something like 1,200 planters and something like 500 mine managers or engineers, each on the average responsible for something like 1,000 acres and something like 200 men. The result of all their efforts, as has frequently been said, is that more of all the dollars we have to spend is due to their effort than due to the efforts of the whole of the industry of these islands in which we live —an important consideration.
These men have been living, and much more their wives under the extremest strain. For long they have had to hear Secretaries of State telling them that it was not for want of effort at this end and that everything asked for had been sent out, although we have rather dropped that lately. How many of them have been hurt? I am told something like one in 20 has been killed or wounded, which is a very high rate of casualty. I do not know how many Members opposite would have proceeded to come here during wartime if in the space of two years or so one in 20 had been killed or wounded by bombs. I should have hoped that we would have stuck it out—[Laughter.] I do not feel so sure about myself, and Members may guess for themselves.
That is the situation under which they have been living. They have suffered much heavier casualties than their enemies have suffered. I hope that I shall be corrected if I fall into any error, but I am told that of the bandits something like 1,600 have been killed, something like 1,700 have been captured and something like 166 have been condemned to death, making a total of 2,466 in all, whereas the casualties which I hope even the most broad-minded Member opposite will allow me to call "on our side," have been 4,000—that is very much more than 2,466.
The result is that now there are beginning to be difficulties of recruitment. There are beginning to be difficulties for the obvious reason—I do not say this to attack anyone, but with the utmost sincerity—that some, very few, of the older people are beginning to say that they cannot face this. I would not blame them—I should be the last to do so, What is much more important is that young men cannot be recruited to go out and do these jobs. That is not as a result of their being afraid of stopping 2011 bullets. To do them justice they are probably as well prepared to take such risks as their fathers and grandfathers before them. It is because they feel that if they go into this career, in one, two, three or four years' time, the career may come to an end, and that therefore it would be foolish to embark upon it. And so there are great difficulties of recruitment.
Incidentally, I am told there is special difficulty in recruiting schoolmasters. I should also like to be corrected on this if I am wrong. I am told that a special concentration has been made on loyal schoolmasters and that there has been a specially high rate of casualties among schoolmasters. Is that true? I do not know whether it is or not.
That is the situation to meet which the Briggs plan was designed. I will not try to explain it elaborately to the Committee. It has done various things, and again I beg the right hon. Gentleman to correct me if I am wrong. I am told that it has resettled something like 120,000 squatters. That is to say, about 120,000 people, who by the Japanese or by subsequent disturbances had been turned out of their normal homes and situations and ways of earning a living, and had squatted, generally in places where they were most a nuisance from every point of view—other than their own, poor creatures, I am not blaming them. Those 120,000 have now been resettled where they are better looked after, where they make better livings, and make administration simpler.
I am told that there are left something like 300,000 such people who have not yet been settled. I tell the Committee these figures to give them some indication of the size of the problem involved, and I ask the Secretary of State whether my figures are about right. Secondly, because we are all accustomed nowadays to what are called, again in a military metaphor, targets, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what is now the hope about the completion of that process; because after what is it now—is it 2½ years?—of what might reasonably be called war, and before that something not awfully different from war, and before that again war, if we are to continue to claim to be the Government of 2012 this country, we must be able, we must begin to be able to say, "Next year, or the year after, or the year after that, these things will have been done."
I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can without complacency or optimism give us any kind of reasonable guess about that? I think he had better be able to do so. I seldom quote "The Times," and I rarely agree with it, but it contained a remark in December which seemed to be about right. It was:Malaya, if not settled soon, will be lost.Does the right hon. Gentleman think that is true? Does he think that Malaya, if not settled soon, will be lost? and if not, what can he now tell us about the probable time-table of settlement? I am told that the most serious shortage is that of administrators, especially of Chinese-speaking administrators. I should like to ask what is being done about that? Where are they now being sent to learn Chinese?
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to pay a tribute of gratitude. I have no interest whatever in any of these matters, tin, rubber, pineapples or anything else direct or indirect, nor so far as I know has any relative or acquaintance of mine. I say that for the benefit of the giggling Gentlemen opposite, who think that immediate private profit is all that ever moves anybody. I do not know where they find that if not in their own heads. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to pay some tribute to the mining and planting enterprises, because I am told that in this matter of the shortage of administrators, the Government have to an enormous extent fallen back upon them.
I do not say this in order to complain; I am quite sure that they would not complain. But the fact is that there has been a great deal of what really amounts to taxation of them, and a very great deal of putting on to them of work which the Government find themselves incompetent to do. I do not say that that may not have been necessary in the circumstances. What I do say is that if the party opposite, with its record in these matters has done that, and is not now generous in its acknowledgment of having done it, it will have upon its conduct sheet after its demise, in some six weeks or so, a sin even worse than those of which the 2013 Secretary of State for War is known to be guilty.
All sorts of administrators' duties have been upon these people—registration, special police work, the centralisation of labourers and squatters. Is it true, am I right in saying, that there are not Government administrators to do this work, that it is being done upon invitation by the private enterprises in that country? Is it true? If it is not true, I hope that we shall be told who is doing this work. I hope that it will be remembered that these men are, in these dangers, doing that work with no relaxation, no public holidays, no week-ends, nothing of that sort; and in this respect it is not only the Europeans of whom I am speaking.
I should like to ask a question about special constables. I do not wager my reputation—as it will be remembered the Foreign Secretary did on a famous occasion—upon the following sentence, but I think that it has enough prima facie verisimilitude for me to ask a question. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether it is true that special constables are now receiving 70 dollars per month, which is the wage fixed long ago, and fixed then in relation to the earnings of tappers, whereas tappers are now earning some 200 dollars per month? Is that true? Because if it is, persons who serve as special constables are quite obviously so serving by accepting upon themselves a very heavy taxation which they could avoid. They might do tapping and what not and earn three times as much. Is that true? When was that last put right?
I should like to ask a question about the cost of all this. I read in Mr. Oscar Hobson's column in the "News Chronicle" the other day—I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite all read that column, which seems meant to perform the odd task of making it intellectually impossible to read any of the other columns in the "News Chronicle"—the following:Any real improvement in the security of Malaya and Indonesia would bring a quick collapse of tin and rubber prices.Do the Government share that view? because if so, that would give us all some measure of the Government's concern about the importance of this problem? What are the indirect costs in prices—certainly, there is money in everything? I am sorry I have aroused no laughter by that observation. There is nothing that 2014 can be wholly reckoned in money, but there is nothing that can be wholly reckoned leaving out the money side of it. I should like to know whether the Government agree that one great advantage to the whole world which any improvement in the security of Malaya would tend to bring would be a great decrease in tin and rubber prices? Do they take that view?
What is the so-called emergency costing? Do they know? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us. I am told that it is costing the Malayan Government over £30,000 a day, and that does not include the costs of the British Army, or the costs imposed upon the estates and upon private persons in the ways I indicated a few minutes ago? Do the Government agree that that is about the cost?
I turn to the last matters about which I wish to speak. It is certainly true that all governments are hateful. It is even more true that all Chinese hate all Governments even more than I do. Yet there are some Governments which are tolerable and legitimate, and a great deal of learning and metaphysics have been wasted on discussing which are such Governments. I will tell the Committee. The Governments which are tolerable are those which are taken for granted. Regimes which are not taken for granted are not tolerable, and do not endure.
Therefore, it is of enormous importance that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom should somehow manage to make it plain to all the world and to the inhabitants of all races in Malaya that this Government is permanent there and that its decisions are decisions. They should not again have a mess like the silly mess over the rubber duty the other day. I am not arguing whether the rubber duty ought to be three times as much as was first suggested, or what it ought to have been, but the way in which it was done and the determination one day that it ought to be X and three days later that it ought to be Y, which was a very much lower figure—we cannot go on governing upon that sort of basis.
The nonsense about taking the Chinese Protectorate into the Labour Department and then deciding, as everybody told them before, that it was nonsense and ought to be re-arranged, and then putting the Chinese Protectorate back in another way again; the nonsense about the trade 2015 unions—I am not arguing whether trade unions are or are not a good thing in the Kingdom of Heaven, here, or in Malaya, but the way the thing was done, the haste with which trade unions were almost forced upon people who did not want them and did not know what they were all about—I do not wonder the hon. Member opposite found some people a bit shy of it. They had seen their money go down the drain. They had seen the organisation which they had been invited, or almost pushed, into, go Communist, and then have to be de-Communised with great difficulty. I am now told that on the whole and in the main the thing is not going too badly. But the shifting and tergiversation and indecision did great harm.
§ Mr. R. Williams
is the hon. Gentleman addressing these remarks entirely to the history of trade unionism in Malaya or is he making a criticism of the efforts which the trade unionists are making there today? I am putting my question upon the assumption that he has acquainted himself with the efforts which they are making.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I have done my best and I think I have made myself quite plain. I think, on the whole, as far as can be told, they are working usefully and honestly. The thing was done in the name of democracy and self-determination; that is the imbecile paradox in which hon. Members opposite are caught out. In the name of democracy and self-determination they are continually pushing down people's throats what they regard as the ideas which have made them what they think they are. They think them good ideas. The rest of the world does not take it for granted.
The next question I have to put concerns the hurry towards self-government. I suppose everybody would agree that the Malays as distinct from the Chinese would be pretty hopeless if there were no administrative control. I suppose everybody would agree that that is true who even exaggerate the effect when one section in a society is financially preponderant. Now, therefore, it may be necessary to persuade everybody in that country that we honestly desire, as for my part I do, that in sufficiency of time they should be a society and manage 2016 their own affairs and be equal partners with us. What is much more important and infinitely more urgent is that we should persuade them that that is not going to lead, and cannot possibly lead, to any very great change of régime in any very short period; because unless we can persuade them of that, we are not going to get the taking for granted of the regime by 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. of the population, without which neither this Government nor even competent administrators can ever get a country running straight again after a revolutionary situation.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Awbery (Bristol, Central)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn), who asked the Minister questions the answers to which I could find quite easily if I went to the Library.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
It is because hon. Members opposite think the answers are so easy that we are in this mess.
§ Mr. Awbery
I am probably the only one in this House who has met and spoken to a large number of the bandits who are now in the jungle of Malaya. I was invited to go there in February, 1948, to inquire into the development of the trade union movement. That was before these men went into the jungle. I met them in various committees up and down the country from Penang to Singapore, and I obtained from them their opinions and aspirations as far as Malaya was concerned.
I want to deal with this point because I feel that in dealing with the bandits of Malaya and in wiping them out, as we propose to do, we should also consider and remove the cause of the trouble; otherwise, we shall only get into the same trouble again. These men, when I met them in their trade union committees, were demanding in particular three things: first, a higher standard of living for the working people of Malaya. As the hon. Member for Carlton said, there are 30,000 planters in Malaya who ought to receive the gratitude of my right hon. Friend. But there are 350,000 working on the plantations and in the tin mines who also should receive the gratitude of the Minister. The second thing which they desire, and which the hon. Member for Carlton ridiculed, was self-govern- 2017 ment, with which I will deal in my remarks. Third, they demanded that there should be a compulsory system of education throughout the country.
These men found that they could not achieve what they wanted. There was a feeling of frustration among them and they went on strike. There is little difference between a strike and the war in the jungle. They thought that they would achieve their objective this way instead of striking. They have not learned to use the industrial machine, and the hon. Member for Carlton does not want them to learn to use the industrial machine as we have learned it in this country. These men went into the jungle to achieve their objective.
Let me examine the matter in detail. The first demand was that they should govern themselves. I know that the Opposition will say that they are not fit to govern because they have not been trained and know nothing at all about democracy. Did not the Opposition say that about the Labour Party 20 years ago? [An HON. MEMBER: "They were right."] They said that we were not fit to govern, that they were the people who were born to govern. They governed us into three major wars in my life-time, and they would govern us into another one if they had the chance. I am hoping that the people of this country will never give them their opportunity.
The people in Malaya and in the other countries are moving very fast. The danger is that we are not prepared to recognise that they are progressing. We want them to stand still while we move on. It is a logical development in the Colonies, because conditions are ripe all over the world. I would put this point to the Minister. In Singapore we allowed the people to elect six of the 27 representatives of the Legislature. I understand that the six have been increased to nine, and I congratulate the Minister upon that progress. In the Federation I understand that there are approximately 67 representatives in the Legislature, not one of them democratically elected. Is that democracy? Or, are we trying to palm it off on the people of Malaya, the Chinese and the Indians, as democracy? They will measure our democracy not by what we promise, but by what we do. So much for the demand for self-government.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
Does the hon. Member really think that people are ready for full democracy when, as he has told the Committee, they have not yet learned to distinguish between the strike and violent, fighting action?
§ Mr. Awbery
I am not complaining about that, but we are not helping them to get ready for democracy by training them. The hon. and gallant Member shakes his head. We have been in Malaya for 150 years. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Sir Stamford Raffles went to Singapore in 1821, and Penang was leased to us about 1826. In Malaya we were there a century ago, and we have not yet trained the people in democracy. So much for the effect on the standard of living of these people. The fundamental basis of the trouble in Malaya is the low standard of living of the working people. It is somewhat better than it was, but I believe that it is still very bad. The last thing that people see when they go from this country to the Colonies is the working and living conditions of the people, who are underpaid, underfed men and women, with no security at all.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Has the hon. Gentleman read the report of his own Government? It says that in British Malaya the standard of living is the highest in the Far East.
§ Mr. Awbery
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to develop my argument. I shall try to prove that Malaya is much the same as many of the other Colonies. It is better, and it has been gradually growing better since the Labour Government have been in power. Underfed and underclothed men and women, without any security, are a fruitful soil for the development of Communism, and that is why Communism has developed. If the present Government had been in power 50 years ago and had helped these people, as we are doing today, there would be no Communism.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
How can the hon. Gentleman explain the fact that hundreds of thousands of Chinese left China to go to Malaya and Hong Kong if they thought 2019 they were going to a place where the standard of living was so much worse?
§ Mr. Awbery
Why did the people leave the depressed areas of South Wales? Because economic conditions forced them to do so to seek employment elsewhere. That was why the Chinese went to Malaya. The Chinese owned the tin mines, and they were employed there.
§ Mr. Awbery
The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) referred to the £120 million worth of rubber and the £21 million worth of tin exported from Malaya. I am glad that this has helped the dollar position, but while we are taking all these millions from Malaya the tapper who was referred to a few minutes ago gets only one and a half dollars a day, which is equal to 3s. 6d. and the piece-work tapper gets two dollars a day, which is equal to 4s. 8d. That is the position of the workers on the plantations.
§ Mr. Awbery
The position of these men has been so bad that it has driven them to Communism. If we want to destroy Communism we must remove the cause and improve the standard of living of the working people. There is a stirring among these people, and I hope it will continue.
Who are the bandits? Are they the riff-raff of Malaya? They are not; and I hope to prove that they are not, not by my own statements but by statements made by officers in our own Army during and after the war. Our job in Malaya is a very difficult one, for 40,000 of the 53,000 square miles are jungle, which provides good hiding places for the enemy and for the friends who supply them with water and food. That is why these men have carried on so long. They are fighting for an ideal. Whether the ideal is true or false is another thing, but when a man fights for an ideal he is the hardest of all fighters. They are the men who were said by an hon. Member just now to have lost faith in our Government in 1940, when we lost Singapore. They were 2020 told that Singapore was impregnable and that Great Britain could hold the fort in Malaya, and afterwards their confidence in us and our military machine was destroyed.
What have we done for these men? The Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in Malaya armed them in 1941 and asked them to remain behind in the jungle to fight the Japanese in the rear. The general secretary of the Malayan Communist Party met the British general and made the arrangements with him. British officers gave these men lectures when they were in the jungle. One officer said that he was impressed by their enthusiasm and that they were probably the best material he had ever had in a training school. He said that it was impossible to find men keener to learn.
These men were taught to use the weapons left behind by our people. Eight guerilla groups were formed in Malaya which we fed and clothed, and manuals on guerilla weapons, demolition and tactics were distributed to them. Of course, their policy, discipline, routine and ethics were imported from somewhere else. We paid £3,000 a month to feed these men, and when they stopped fighting we gave 7,000 of them medals and presented each with a cheque for £45 so that they could rehabilitate themselves in civil life.
So much for the men we are fighting. We must be prepared to meet these men. What is the solution for us? What appears to me to be the solution is a clearer and more sympathetic understanding of the problems of Malaya, and a speedier application of the remedies we propose to apply. We ought to retain some of the finance which is now being exported, and to use it for the social uplift of the people who produce it. We ought to tell the Malayans that we will prepare them now for self-government, and that at some distant date, maybe in five or 10 years, we shall be prepared for them to have it. Even now there should be a system of land reform. The land is in the hands of the planters. We took the money there—
§ Mr. Awbery
At least we took some of the trees there 50 years ago. We must 2021 introduce land reform so that the people will realise that they have a stake in their own country.
§ Mr. Awbery
The hon. Member for Carlton said that we took the rubber there and that because we did that we had a right to the rubber and to the produce of the land.
§ Mr. W. Fletcher
May I remind the hon. Member that 50 per cent. of the rubber in Malaya is produced by the native owner of the land, and not by the European-owned plantation?
§ Mr. Awbery
I am glad the hon. Member has mentioned that, because most of the small producers in Malaya who work their own little plot of land at the present time are in the hands of the moneylenders.
§ Mr. Awbery
What we have to do is to regain the confidence of the people of Malaya. If we promise them some of these things and endeavour to carry them out, we shall regain that confidence. The chief thing, I say to the Minister, is speed, speed, speed.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
The task of tracking the guerilla in the jungle is extremely difficult and exacting, but it is mere child's play compared with trying to follow the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), in the illogical career of inaccuracy with which he has just presented us. Let me take one or two points. The hon. Gentleman said that the jungle provided food and water. Well, now, really. The jungle may provide shade, but it certainly does not provide food and water for the bandits. That is provided by a class of squatters who are being handled with great skill now under the Briggs plan.
§ Mr. Awbery
Thousands of these men lived in the jungle for five years. They came out in the evenings and got their food in the villages.
§ Mr. Fletcher
The food in the village is not exactly the same as the food in the jungle. May I remind the hon. Gentleman that I had something to do with Force 136 and with those who were directly concerned. I shall make some comments on what he was saying about the bandits. I met some of them many years before he did, and under slightly different circumstances.
Let me point out another gross inaccuracy, and a self-evident one, which the hon. Member, with his reputation and knowing that he has been quoted in Malaya, should never make. How is it possible for him to bring forward, at the moment when so many of his colleagues are talking of the high price of rubber, the stupid and untenable thesis that anybody who produces rubber today is in the hands of the moneylenders? That is self-evidently not true. Let me point out to the hon. Member that the native producer, considerable quantities of whose rubber I handle out there in my normal type of business, is not in the hands of the moneylenders, but is earning very good money and is using it wisely and is not causing inflation. It is a total travesty of the truth that the hon. Member has presented to the Committee.
§ Mr. Awbery
I do not say that all the people who produce rubber are in the hands of the moneylenders, but a large number of the people with small plantations or their own small allotments are in the hands of the moneylenders.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Since then, rubber has gone up from 1s. to over 5s. per lb., and that has entailed certain consequences with which the hon. Member, with an idée fixe which seems to haunt him in these matters, absolutely refuses to reckon. It is a great pity that at this moment, when understanding between the Malays and the Chinese is more necessary than ever before—and when actually it is worse, for reasons which I will explain—inflammatory speeches of the nature to which the hon. Member has treated us should be made.
At the moment, we have to think rather differently about Malaya to what we have done in the past three or four years. Three or four years ago, I remember 2023 making a number of speeches warning the Government of what might happen. Most unfortunately, those predictions of woe have come to pass. Today there is undoubtedly an improvement in the internal situation in Malaya—and nobody is more pleased than I am to admit it—but it is not a very great improvement and it is not fundamental, and it does not take into account some new and very disturbing factors.
The first thing that I should like to say is that the reason why the pace and volume of our success are not what they might be and what we could all hope they would be, is that even now so many Malayans, whether Chinese or Malays, do not yet think that we have either the will or the means to protect them from an invasion which they still fear. The Government are progressing—I am fair-minded enough to say that they are progressing—and the visit of the right hon. Gentleman was certainly helpful, as were the visits of a good many colleagues on both sides of the House; but there is still not yet evident in the minds of those who inhabit Malaya a definite feeling that we desire, and are able, to protect them.
On that, ground, their eyes—this is the theme of what I wish to say this evening—are turned outward from Malaya. The Malayan problem cannot possibly be taken on its own and circumscribed in the geographical limits of Malaya. What happens in Korea, and, even more, what happens, in Indo-China, is dominating the minds of the inhabitants of Malaya. The acid test of that is, undoubtedly, the volume of intelligence that we receive.
Within the last 48 hours I have heard evidence from a most reliable source in Malaya that since our success in Korea, and, even more, since the success of General de Lattre de Tassigny in Indo-China, the direct result is a greater volume of intelligence from many of the inhabitants of Malaya who have been forced to become very adept fence sitters —many of them have a natural inclination and aptitude for that—but they have not fully made up their minds as yet which is the winning side. A greater use of propaganda and the increased volume of success in dealing with the squatter problem would help. One of the most 2024 difficult problems, one of the hard core problems that cannot be got rid of very easily, is undoubtedly that of the deportees whom we wish to get rid of. That is a very difficult question on which the Government have received much advice from all sources. They are unable to carry it out yet, but it will undoubtedly increase the confidence of those still wavering in their minds when they see its successful achievement.
It reinforces the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) that the defence of Malaya is taking place today just as much in Indo-China as it is in Malaya. I follow these things very closely because I must confess to having an interest in most parts of the Far East, particularly in Indo-China, and the complete transformation which took place in Indo-China within a fortnight of the arrival of General de Lattrede Tassigny is a remarkable instance of what firm leadership and a great personality can do, particularly among people who are very sensitive to personality.
But it is far from being certain that final victory has been achieved in Indo-China and perhaps a slight investment on our part, visible investment in the way of troops and arms such as America is making to help in Indo-China, might pay a very good dividend. It is the finest insurance policy we could take out. The loss of Indo-China means inevitably the loss of the whole of the rice-growing area, which is really the most important single economic factor in the whole Far East. If only we can squeeze out a little extra help it will be greatly appreciated in France which, since the Pau meeting last year has made an enormous advance in getting Viet-Nam on its side and put Ho-Chih-Minh and his troops in a very difficult position. It must not be forgotten that Indo-China is not Chinese but Indo-Chinese and is presenting to us an opportunity for that resounding success quite near the doorstep of Malaya from the very place from which on the last occasion disaster fell on us. With a little imagination and a little extra effort, there is there the finest possible investment to be made.
I now turn to something which is not so palatable and does not show any such encouraging signs for the future, both near or distant That is the continued feeling between Malay and Chinese. 2025 Committees have been formed on a high level but that is not attacking the real problem. I am not saying who is right or wrong in this controversy, but the Chinese have a distinct feeling of injustice in not having received a fair do from the franchise point of view. Malays, owing to the greater rate of breeding of the Chinese and the great onrush towards economic domination, have a feeling of fear that what they have been given they might not be able to retain.
There is a situation in which real danger lies and the real danger must be realised by His Majesty's Government. That is that we may not be faced in a' few years with a small localised bandit and guerilla war in Malaya, but may see Malaya the battleground between the Chinese influence on one side and the huge 80 millions of Malays living in Indonesia on the other, called in to help. That is a possibility and it must certainly not be disregarded. Looking back to the history of Indo-China we see that over three centuries—and if anyone wishes to go to the great temples at Angkor he can see the living proof of it—a swaying battle between Indian and Chinese civilisations which in the end destroyed Indo-China.
There is a possibility that this may be repeated in Malaya. There were disquieting signs in the last few weeks and the last few months of pressure coming over the narrow Straits of Malaya from Indonesia into Malaya and there is a heightening of the temperature. The Bertha Hertogh incident, on which I shall say nothing because it is still sub judice, has its significance quite apart from the right or wrong of the case. It did show a disquieting degree, not only in Singapore itself, but throughout the whole of Malaya, of a readiness to receive propaganda form their fellow countrymen in Java and Sumatra.
Indonesia itself is in a chaotic condition. Let us hope that we are able before this possible, even probable clash takes place, so to establish in the minds of the Malays the justice of our Government. The proper pace at which it is safe to hand over self-government, taking into account that it is not the most vociferous or those who get elected who are the most effective, but the man in the street and the woman going down with her water pot in the village in the evening. 2026 Those are the people who appreciate Pax Britannica. They want to see that the new government which gradually replaces that gives an equal quality of justice and impartiality. Let us remember that it is a difficult policy which can be carried out only step by step and let us hope it will be at a sufficiently advanced stage before this possible great clash from outside may use Malaya as its battle ground.
In the economic situation of Malaya there is a greater opportunity for putting through many requirements, and for increasing expenditure to many desirable ends than anybody guessed, even 12 months ago. It is undoubtedly the task of the government, with the assistance of hon. Members on this side of the Committee, to make, not spectacular progress —[HON. MEMBERS: "Why on that side?"] Why on this side? Because a great many hon. Gentlemen on this side have just as much mind and heart and feeling for the people of that country as hon. Members on the other side of the Committee—
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am complimented by the hon. Gentleman, but let me turn again to the more serious note I was attempting to strike. It is absolutely vital that the right pace in achieving this objective should be taken; not necessarily the most spectacular steps, not those we can talk about here, because they may not come to fruition for a good many years. But here is the opportunity of seeing and of gradually getting a basis on which all the peoples of Malaya will fit in their place. I see that hon. Gentlemen opposite are eager to get into the debate for which I do not blame them, but I beg the right hon. Gentleman, when he makes his reply, not to strike the note of the previous speaker, which is out-moded by years and no longer fits in with the facts, but to rely very much more on his own experience and the more up-to-date information at his disposal.
§ 8.58 p.m.
Mr. Gammons (Hornsey)
There is only one speech in this debate which has not lived up to the high level set by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and that was the speech of the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery). I do 2027 not think he has done his Government and party any good by talking of the inhabitants of Malaya as being underfed and underpaid.
I would have had more respect for the hon. Member in using those phrases if he had taken part in the debate last week on the groundnut scheme where we had the duty of making exactly the same remarks with regard to the Africans who are working there. The hon. Member said that about the planters, police, miners and the people of Malaya. He made excuses for the bandits who are shooting them down, but he paid no tribute to them whatsoever.
There are two main reasons why we on this side of the Committee and, I hope, in all quarters, welcome this debate on Malaya. It gives us the opportunity of bringing the hot war in Malaya into the perspective of world events. It gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to the planters, miners, the men of the Army and R.A.F., the police, the Ghurkhas and all the people in Malaya who have stood so firmly during these three troubled years. The other reason why we welcome the debate is that it will give the Secretary of State for the Colonies the chance to satisfy the Committee that all that could be done is being done. Later, I want to ask him one or two specific questions.
From time to time the Government complain somewhat peevishly that our American Allies do not appreciate fully that for the past three years we have been fighting in Malaya exactly the same Communist enemy as their troops are now fighting in Korea. I agree that it is absolutely essential that our American friends and the people of the Commonwealth, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, should appreciate what we are doing. But what I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman is what is being done by the British information services in America to make known not only the extent of our war effort in Malaya, but what it all means.
Has it ever been suggested, for example, that British planters and tin miners, while they are on leave, should go round lecturing to the Rotary clubs and to other similar organisations in the United States? Has it ever been suggested that 2028 Asian members of rotary clubs in Malaya should address fellow-members of Rotary clubs in the United States and Canada'? Have the Government ever considered inviting a delegation of American Congressmen to go to Malaya? Not only should we like them to see exactly what we are doing, but I think that we have a great deal to be proud of in what that country has done in the past 50 years. I hope, too, that it will not be long before there is another Parliamentary delegation from this country.
It is essential that everyone here at home should realise the sort of life that the Malayan planters and tin miners are living. I do not know whether even hon. Members realise that, unless they have been to Malaya. The planters live in their bungalows surrounded with barbed wire, with are lights shining on the wire, and with the telephone ringing once every hour when the police inquire whether the man and his wife are still alive. That is the sort of life that these men and women have lived for the past three years. I wonder whether people in this country fully realise that. I wonder whether they realise the danger that a planter or a tin miner runs when he leaves his estate and goes down a lonely road and runs the risk of being ambushed.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Learning-ton referred to what Malaya has done in the economic sphere. This debate should remind us that the very welcome change in bridging the dollar gap is not primarily due to the efforts of this country. It is chiefly due to the producers of primary products throughout the Colonial Empire and the Commonwealth. My right hon. Friend gave us the figures of Malayan exports for last year. Perhaps I might put them in rather different words. Exports from Malaya last year earned for the sterling area 360 million United States dollars. Exports from this country earned us 316 million United States dollars. Therefore, it is because of these 2,000 planters and tin miners that today the pound is able to look the dollar in the face once more.
§ Mr. Harrison (Nottingham, East)
To complete the picture, would the hon. Gentleman tell us to what extent we exported goods from this country to enable Malaya to earn those 360 million dollars?
§ Mr. Gammans
If we take the figures, we find that it is the primary producers of the Empire who have filled the dollar gap. We ought to realise that. I hope that the Government realise, though it is rather out of the scope of this debate, that this will cause them a most difficult problem in the next 12 months, especially in connection with re-armament in this country. When we think of what has been done by the people of Malaya, we ought to realise, and others in this country ought to realise, that, but for their efforts, our finances today would be very different from what they are.
Now some questions. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to be quite frank about the operations of the Briggs plan. Are things in Malaya better or not? That is what we really want to know. Some time ago, we gathered the impression that the bandits were really being brought under control, and then we got news of a new outbreak of murders, and we wondered whether the situation was, in fact, much better than a year ago. How many squatters have been removed, and how many still have to be removed? Why was it that the destruction of the bandit nest in Selangor a week ago was put out by the local government in such an extraordinary way that the "Manchester Guardian" referred to it as "a second Lidice"? Why is it that that operation could not have been explained to the public better than it was?
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
How does the hon. Gentleman explain the public eviction of people and setting fire to their houses?
§ Mr. Gammans
I would not describe it as "a second Lidice." At least, the people were taken out first, and were not murdered or burned to death in the houses, as they were at Lidice. I am sorry the hon. Gentleman did not get a chance of addressing the Committee, or he might have been able to explain his point of view.
Only last week, the Secretary of State admitted, in answer to a Question by me, that there is still a shortage of jungle green equipment, and we were told that 20,000 suits of jungle green had had to be borrowed from the Army. What has happened to all that equipment? In preparation for this debate, I went today to Wilton Road, at the back of Victoria 2030 Station, because, only a few months ago, I saw that some shops there were full of jungle green equipment. I asked the people in one of the shops if I could buy this equipment. I was told, "You could have bought all you wanted three months ago."
What sort of planning is it in which the Ministry of Supply sells jungle green equipment at one end of the scale, while the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies is trying to buy it at the other? We have had this matter brought up in this House several times, and it does seem extraordinary, whether we are considering re-armament generally or the war in Malaya, that equipment which is available and in first-class condition can still be bou—grt in our shops.
With regard to arms, what is the meaning of this phrase, which was used in the House last week:The latest requirements of small arms and ammunition for the Malayan Police and Security Forces including the Home Guard, are being despatched to Malaya shortly"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 58.]Shortly, indeed? What has happened to the six or seven million rifles with which this country was supposed to have finished the last war? I must say that the Government can take very little credit indeed for the way in which this campaign in Malaya has been waged.
I want to ask one or two questions on a rather wider scale about the war in Malaya in regard to the anti-Communist war everywhere. If this were only a civil war in Malaya, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. W. Fletcher) remarked just now, it would be comparatively easy to put it down in a short time, but the danger in Malaya today is that it might be attacked from outside, and this fact prompts me to ask several questions. First, what are our contacts with the French in Indo-China and with the Viet-Nam régime? We are both fighting the same enemy, and, if the Communist forces should over-run Indo-China, Siam and Burma, overnight we should be faced with a first-class, full-scale war on our own frontiers. I agree with my hon. Friend that to the extent that we can help the French in Indo-China to that extent we are putting 2031 off the risk of having to fight that war on our own doorstep.
Second, I hope the Government have made it quite clear, not only to our American Allies, but also to the Peking Government, that we will never agree to a local settlement in Korea which does not take into account the Far East generally. What we want is not merely that the fighting there shall cease tomorrow on any terms. The only terms satisfactory to us would be guarantees for the security of Hong Kong, Indo-China and Malaya, because, if we patch up an armistice in Korea, the Chinese, in their present frame of mind, will merely transfer their armies further south to fight.
Third, what is our long-term security policy in South-East Asia? I feel that we should strive for a Pacific Pact as comprehensive in its scope and obligations to Asia as is the Atlantic Pact to Europe. Let us see what we have now. We have the United States fighting in Korea and the United States pledged to defend both Formosa and the Philippines. We ourselves have large Forces in Malaya and in Hong Kong. The French are in Indo-China in strength; both India and Pakistan are, presumably, very interested in what happens to Burma, and Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon would be all directly affected if the Red tide should come further south.
But all these are individual efforts; all these defence arrangements are individual defence arrangements, without any sort of central planning. What, surely, is wanted is some co-ordination of effort and some acceptance of joint commitments so that an attack upon any one part of this vast perimeter will bring the aid of all the other countries affected, as well. I suggest that the forging of what we might call the Grand Alliance for South-East Asia is, in the long run, as important as the forging of the Grand Alliance for the defence of Europe, and I would also suggest that that is primarily the responsibility of His Majesty's Government.
I want to ask about the stockpiling of strategic materials. I do not mean stockpiling in this country—a matter which we are to discuss later this week—but the stockpiling for our enemies. I want to know why we are stockpiling our potential 2032 enemies with the tin and rubber which Malaya produces. In the last six months of 1950, China imported, roughly 70,000 tons of rubber from Malaya. In the corresponding period a year earlier she imported 16,000 tons. Therefore, the quantity of her imports increased nearly five times. When I put that to the Prime Minister two weeks ago, he admitted to the House that the Government regard China as being in exactly the same category as Russia and her satellites for the purpose of strategic exports.
The question I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman—and I hope he will answer it—is whether he thinks it right that we should go on asking Malayan planters to risk their lives to supply rubber to a Government whose agents are daily doing their best to murder them, with the knowledge that that rubber is going to Korea to be used on Chinese lorries with which to fight the British Army. That is, of course, a matter of high policy, and may not affect the right hon. Gentleman directly, but, surely we cannot go on like this.
I know the difficulties, and there is no need for the right hon. Gentleman to tell me what they are. I know that we are not the only country producing rubber; I know that it comes from Indonesia, Indo-China and Siam. But we ought to try to evolve a plan with our American Allies to see that only that quantity of rubber goes to China which is reasonable and which bears some relation to her previous requirements, and that she is not stockpiling either for herself or for Russia.
Before we leave strategic materials, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us something about the rubber conference which is now being held in London. It is the most mysterious conference of which I have ever heard. They do not seem to be prepared to give any terms of reference. Am I not right in saying that there are no representatives whatsoever of the rubber interests, either Asian or European? Am I not right in saying that the only people representing Malaya are two Government officials? What is the object of this conference? Is it to try to get some agreement on stockpiling ourselves and stockpiling our Allies? Is it to try to get some agreement on prices, or is it about the denial of strategic materials to Russia, and her allies?
2033 I want to say a word about constitutional progress. It has been referred to by one or two hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the right hon. Gentleman always makes some reference to it in every speech he makes on Malaya. We on this side, of course, do not dissent for one moment that British Colonial policy is based on the principle of the attainment of gradual self-government within the Commonwealth. So far as Malaya is concerned we have entirely welcomed, and do welcome, recent political advances that have been made there. What I would most earnestly remind the right hon. Gentleman about, and remind his hon. Friends, is that what Malaya wants today is not a new constitution but the restoration of law and order. What it wants is conviction that we have the will and the power to defend the country against external aggression. Malaya is not suffering from constitutional unrest but from deliberate attempts by agents of an outside Power to destroy it and all for which it stands.
The greatest hope we have is for the Chinese to co-operate with the Government. If they did that this whole business would be over in three months. The best way to obtain that co-operation is to make them feel that they are going to be on the winning side. I hope that before we talk too loosely about the constitutional changes in Malaya—and the hon. Member for Bristol, Central, talked about constitutions as though it was a matter of just putting out paper constitutions and hoping for the best—let us realise the fundamental difficulties that have to be faced.
Are we being quite frank about this? I do not know how Malaya is going to attain self-government. I cannot begin to see the pattern, because we are dealing with two races—Malay and Chinese. They are equal in number but they differ in everything else—in religion, in culture, in mechanical aptitude, in business knowledge, in fact in everything except that they live in the same country. We have had some very interesting examples in the history of this country and the Empire, since the end of the war, of the difficulty of reconciling plural societies when it comes to the attainment of self-government. In India and in Palestine there were two races, but the unity of the country could not be maintained in either case 2034 as soon as British power was removed. Exactly the same problem faces us in Malaya.
I do not want to go into great detail in this matter, but I want to utter this warning—that with the very best of motives the Government can do untold harm in Malaya by unwise and precipitate action. Unless we can get a form of self-government that reconciles the interests of these two races it will not be self-government at all. We shall witness a bloody civil war. All I can do is to express my own belief, that the only hope of Malaya evolving towards some form of self-government without risk of civil war is that in some capacity or another Great Britain remains a third and permanent partner.
It is not my business tonight to suggest how that will work out. That would be quite beyond the compass of this debate. But I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that to talk of self-government without taking into consideration the position of these two races, and to refuse to acknowledge where the real danger lies, is not doing good either to the Empire or to the people of Malaya.
For more than ten years the people of Malaya, both Asian and European, have been living most difficult and dangerous lives. They went right through the period 1939–41 feeling that Japan was likely to attack them. Then there were all the horrors of the Japanese occupation. That occupation was scarcely over before we had this banditry. I suggest that the best message we can send to the people of Malaya, whether Asian or European, is not only appreciation of their courage and endurance, but proof of our determination to stand by them and with them in the days to come.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. James Griffiths)
I welcome, as did the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and other hon. Members, this opportunity of discussing the problems of Malaya. I want to begin —as the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington began—by expressing, I am sure for all of us, whatever differences we may have about questions of policy in Malaya, our deep appreciation of the courage and fortitude shown by all its people. For close on three years they 2035 have been living in daily and nightly terror and it is impossible to appreciate the circumstances in which they have to carry on their daily life unless one has seen and experienced them oneself.
I pay my tribute to everyone who is working in Malaya—to all the people in Malaya, to the planters, the tin miners, the soldiers, the police, the administrators, the officers and the vast mass of the people who are continually in daily and nightly peril. It is indeed a great tribute to them and, if I may be allowed to say so, the basis of sure confidence for victory in the end that, in spite of what they have endured for two-and-a-half years, they have not given in or collapsed in the face of this terror.
May I say, first of all, that I appreciate what was said by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington and by other hon. Members, that we cannot wrench the problem of Malaya out of its context of Far Eastern problems generally. Indeed, all those who have worked in Malaya or who have followed the situation there know perfectly well that the barometer of morale, if I may use the term, goes up and down with events in the Far East generally. We are all fully conscious of the effect of events in Korea and, perhaps even more, the effect of events in Indo-China upon the people in Malaya.
Indo-China is the other side of Siam, and Siam is next to Malaya—and that is how the catastrophe came in 1941. It is, therefore, natural that they should see the problem in that way. I want to reassure the House that there is a very close association between ourselves and those who are fighting the same battle in Indo-China, both on the military side and on the political side. There has been close co-operation with Siam, for example, all the time, but I think it has improved immensely in the last year or so. There has been very close co-operation between the authorities on the Siamese side and those on the Malayan side. That is shown by the way in which the border has been safeguarded. Similarly, we are in close touch with Indo-China; there is close association both militarily and politically.
It has to be appreciated that we are fighting on more than one front in Malaya. As I see it, we have to do three tasks in Malaya, and to do them at the 2036 same time. First—and this has a first priority—we have to win the battle against the terrorists. That must be given first priority, and it is given first priority, in all the activities of the Government and the people in Malaya. That must be first, and I assure the Committee that it is first.
Second, there is the task, which has been a continuous one since the end of the war in 1945, of the rehabilitation of the industries that suffered for so many years under the occupation of the Japanese, for the Japanese lived on the country, pillaged it, and robbed it of those resources. The job of economic rehabilitation from 1945 onwards has been a very big one indeed, but the major industries have been rehabilitated, and the contribution they are making now to the prosperity of the whole Sterling Area is an indication of how well and how courageously that task of economic rehabilitation has been tackled and successfully accomplished.
There is the third one, consequent on a fact that all of us have to realise. The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) said something about this, with which I agreed, in a speech with most of which I disagreed; but he said something with which I agreed, and it is the first time that I have ever heard him say anything in this House with which I did not disagree.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The effects of the late war are profoundly disturbing, and have given rise to a great awakening in Asia. Do not let anyone imagine that in Malaya or anywhere in the Far East we are going back to where we were in 1939. Let me say, with great respect and kindness, that this is one of the facts we must realise. Let me say, also, with the profound admiration I have for everyone who is working in Malaya, that we must not have a nostalgia for the old days and let it affect policy, because the old days are not coming' back. Therefore, we must win what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington called the "battle of ideas"—and I join him in using the phrase, although the hon. Member for Carlton did not like that term. This battle is going on, and what we have to show is, if we can, as I believe we can—and if we can then I 2037 think we ought—that in Malaya, in addition to fighting the emergency and beating back the terrorists, in addition to maintaining the economic production of the country, which is so vital to the rest of the world, we can take steps—as we are taking steps—economically, socially and politically to build a new Malaya for the future. All these things are essential, and we are trying to do all those three things at the same time.
Now, as to emergency itself. At the end of last year the High Commissioner and General Briggs were over in this country, and we took the opportunity of their visit to London to discuss the whole situation with them, and to re-assess, in the light of the experience we had had since the middle of the year when the Briggs plan had been put into operation, the effects of the Briggs plan, and whether the Briggs plan was a sound plan; and we came to the conclusion that it was. We then discussed what further steps should be taken to expedite the operation of the Briggs plan, for if it is a sound plan the essential thing is to push it forward and carry it through with drive and vigour as quickly as we can. It had begun before the visit of the High Commissioner and General Briggs; since then it has been, to a large extent, completed.
We have made certain very important changes in the machinery of Government in order to ensure that the machine is such that it can make quick decisions and follow them up. At the Federal level there has been established a Federal War Council, which is presided over by the High Commissioner, and upon which there are representatives of the Malays and of the Chinese, and a representative of the planters, Mr. Treble, whom it has been my privilege to see and whose hospitality I enjoyed in Malaya during a week-end. There is this Federal War Council which is given authority to make decisions and to operate them.
At the district level there are several war executives, who are also representatives of the communities, whose duty it is to carry through and put into operation the decisions of the Federal War Council as quickly as possible. Therefore, there has been—if I might use a word which has become very current—a streamlining of the machinery, and the Federal War Council now has full authority from the Legislative Council.
2038 This is not an imposition. All this has been agreed to by representatives of the Federation of Malaya at the Legislative Council in the sense that they have for the purposes of the present emergency delegated their powers to the Federal War Council. To ensure that decisions arrived at by the Federal War Council are put into operation without having to go through a complicated machinery—inevitably complicated because of the federal structure of the Government in normal times—and to prevent their being held up for financial resources to put the plans into operation as quickly as they decide them, they have, by a decision of the Legislative Council, been authorised to spend at any given time up to one million Straits dollars, and 10 million dollars have been put into a fund at their disposal.
We are satisfied, therefore, that to begin with, both at the centre and in the district, there is a machinery of government which can act and which is acting quickly, and which has the financial resources with which to put into operation all the plans it desires. Our information is that the machinery is now working as satisfactorily as we believed and hoped it would when we set it up.
§ Mr. N. Macpherson
Would the right hon. Gentleman complete the picture? Is there anything between the Federal War Council and the districts? Is there no corresponding State organisation?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I omitted that. There is a corresponding State organisation. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman made that interjection, because there are federal, State and district organisations.
Secondly, it was agreed to be essential that we should now take certain other steps to be sure that the emergency had the first call upon the resources of the people and of the country, and a certain number of regulations have been passed and are now in operation. I admit at once that perhaps it might have been done before, but anyhow it has been done now. There is complete control over building of all kinds in Malaya to ensure that all building necessary for the purpose of the emergency gets first priority. They have taken another step of very great importance, and that is to pass regulations to enable them to conscript labour.
2039 The regulations have been passed and a director of manpower appointed. He is Mr. Foster-Sutton, whom those who have been to Malaya will probably know and have met. He is carrying out his new job with great energy and drive. It has been decided to register those in the age group 17 to 24, although it is not intended at the moment to call up those registered in the 17 age group. Between 250,000 and 300,000 in this group will be registered. In the first call-up, which would take place in the very near future, it is proposed to call up only 20,000. This was a very big decision for the Federal War Council to take in the circumstances in Malaya. It was taken with the full approval of the Federal War Council, and has, indeed, been supported by the Legislative Council, so that it is taken with the full accord of representatives of all the races in Malaya.
In our view, the machinery is now of such a character that decisions can be quickly arrived at and quickly implemented, and resources are available by which they can be put into operation quickly.
§ Mr. Griffiths
They can be called up for service. The regulation does not say that they can be called up for a specific purpose, but for service in an emergency. In the main it is the intention that the first 20,000 to be called up shall be directed to serve in the police. A selected number will be trained to operate with the jungle police and some pari-military organisations. The regulation empowers them to be called up for service in an emergency.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Yes. Those called up will be entitled to appeal to a tribunal which will decide in each case whether the call-up shall stand or whether the appeal against service is sustained.
Now I come to the assessment of the situation. I will be fair and frank with the House about the operation of, the Briggs plan. There has been some im- 2040 provement, but it is perhaps not clearly shown in the figures, which fluctuate sometimes from week to week, of the number of incidents. It is of the greatest importance that the situation should not be assessed purely on the number of incidents. One has to distinguish between major incidents and minor incidents of which there can be a very large number in the aggregate. There has been some improvement, but not the improvement for which I hoped. I think that perhaps the biggest test of whether or not there has been an improvement is whether it is now easier or more difficult for us to get information, which is so vital.
§ Squadron Leader Burden
Is it expected that the Briggs plan will show any spectacular results before the squatters, from whom the rebels obtain much of their ability to carry on the fight from the point of view of provisioning, have, in fact, been segregated?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am coming to the question of squatters.
I have already warned the House against expecting any spectacular results either from the Briggs plan or in any other way. I am not holding out hopes of any spectacular results. If we could get all the terrorists out together into the field and our forces into the field, then the result would be spectacular and we should win. In the circumstances in which this battle in Malaya has to be fought, there can be no spectacular results.
The test to which I attach the most importance—and I do not want to put it too high or to exaggerate—is that the information is coming in better, and that means that slowly—and I emphasise the word "slowly"—but surely confidence is growing. I think that one can draw encouragement from that. As information increases, I think confidence will go on growing and that information will come to us in ever-increasing quantity and in increasing quality. I believe that there will be ground for believing that there has been some improvement and that the improvement made is sound and solid and upon which we can build our hopes for the future.
§ Mr. Griffiths
That, I believe, is most encouraging. There is a sign of increasing 2041 confidence among the Chinese and an increased willingness to co-operate with the Government.
Air Commodore Harvey
The right hon. Gentleman says that there has been some improvement. I imagine that he is referring to the casualties. Has there been any diminution in the number of rubber trees that have been slashed or telegraph wires that have been damaged? Will he give us some information about the physical aspect of the problem?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I prefer not to make the analysis entirely on the number of incidents but, taking the comparable three months of the year before, there has been a slight reduction in the number of incidents. I am not basing my confidence about the future upon the incidents, but upon my information that there is a growing confidence which is giving us more information which, in turn, is making it possible for us to operate much more successfully.
I come to the biggest problem of all, resettlement of the 400,000 squatters—in round figures—who have been all the time open to terror and from whom, partly through terror and partly because they have had supporters among them, the terrorists have derived sustenance of all kinds. Resettlement is one of the major contributions which we can make towards eventual rehabilitation. There are two ways in which this problem can be handled. The first is that all these people could have been taken from the squatter villages and put into detention camps. We could have made resettlement purely a military operation. I think that would have been a mistake and would have been a boomerang that would have come back on us. I am sure that we have the right policy and the more I study it the more convinced I am. I was also very much convinced by what I saw.
We can make this not only a resettlement of the squatters, but we can take them from unprotected areas and house them in protected areas, giving them better security and a better standard of life than they have had before. This great social change has been in operation during the emergency, and already 120,000 have been resettled. There are still about 280,000 to be settled. We hope that in the southern part of the Peninsula we can give priority to this matter. We hope 2042 that resettlement will be complete about May of this year. I would not like to give any target date for this class of resettlement, but I can say that it is proceeding satisfactorily. It is being done in a way that will bring an end to the emergency and will lay the foundation for greater accord in the future.
Now I would say a word about one other part of the problem, which is to get officers with a knowledge of Chinese. At the moment, the most pressing need is to secure resettlement officers, responsible for the great operation of resettlement, who can speak Chinese. The High Commissioner was in this country and he met the missionary societies and put the question before them, quite frankly, that here was a great piece of social work as well as emergency work. We said that if any of them felt that their great experience could assist us, we should be very glad to avail ourselves of their services. We believe that they will do a fine job as resettlement officers.
In recent months we have been able to secure, partly from this field and partly from other fields, 30 resettlement officers who can speak Chinese. We get large numbers of applications from people who feel they can do this job and we fall back upon them whenever we cannot get people who speak Chinese. The most difficult problem is to get officers who have a knowledge of Chinese, and if hon. Members know of any I shall be glad to hear of them. If I could find 100 officers who know Chinese and who could go to Malaya, it would be one of the biggest contributions which we could make.
§ Mr. Driberg (Maldon)
My right hon. Friend referred just now, in passing, to detention camps. Could he say a little more about detention camps, and, in particular, could he say whether there are now many more people detained without trial than there were last October when the number was 11,000, including many squatters and many admittedly innocent people?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I have not got the figure for the total number of detainees at the moment. I do not think it is very substantially bigger than the 11,000 which my hon. Friend mentioned. Let me admit at once that I do not believe it is possible in any system of detention, even with the best will in the world and the best machinery, not to find some innocent 2043 people detained. We had experiences like this during the war. What is taking place in Malaya is 18B procedure, just as we had it here. I would not claim for a moment that we have not made mistakes and have not detained innocent people, but the people who are detained have the opportunity of appealing to a tribunal which is representative of all the racial groups in Malaya.
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. Friend wrote to me and told me that he had found that some of the detainees did not know that they had a right of appeal. I want to reply to him publicly and say that I have been in communication with the High Commissioner, that I have pointed out that I regard it as absolutely essential that these people shall know the full rights of appeal which they have, and that I have asked him to take special steps to see that this is done.
On the subject of equipment, one problem is that of providing green jungle cloth as quickly as we would like. I noted with some interest, but almost with incredulity, that the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) said that he had been to a shop in the West End which had green jungle cloth.
§ Mr. Griffiths
We have probably bought a lot of that and sent it to Malaya. This has been one of our most difficult problems. The Army authorities have helped us considerably and recently they have agreed to release 20,000 jungle green uniforms from their own rather limited resources. This is one of the most difficult materials to secure. We are not showing any kind of delay in buying the material, but the difficulty is that such material is not available. The productive capacity is not equal to the demands. I believe that on the whole we have now got on top of the problem and I hope that we shall be able to secure all the jungle green that is possible, but it is certainly a major problem.
Generally speaking, we are able to meet the demand for other items of equipment. The last report we had said that the supply position had improved immensely 2044 during the last few months and that the only deficiency which was likely to become serious in the near future was that of jungle green cloth. If we can overcome the problem of jungle green cloth I am reasonably satisfied about the equipment position.
The right hon. Gentleman asked if we were seeking to induce persons who are serving in Malaya, and have experience of the country, to remain there Yes, we are. We are doing this on a selective basis. Those who have experience of key posts, who even go there on retirement from their present positions, can serve as, for example, resettlement officers or in any of the new important posts made essential by the emergency.
On the propaganda side, which is of immense importance, we have asked Mr. Carleton Greene, who had wide experience of political warfare in this country between 1939 and 1945, to go to Malaya to take on this big task. He has been there now for about six months. He asked us for two assistants. We secured them. He has asked us for more assistants and we are doing our best to supply those, too. In addition to propaganda he is also responsible for broadcasting, and the reports we have had during the six but crowded months during which he has been at work are that he is making a really big contribution to this side of our work. All those who have been to Malaya pay tribute to him in this respect.
Therefore, in the past few months there has been steady progress. There is growing confidence, and on that we can build for the future It is a tough job. The battle is not yet won. I do not expect spectacular results, but I believe that by continuing the efforts we are making we shall win through.
Now I want to repeat once more what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, what I myself have said at this Box and also in Malaya and what I regret having to repeat again. With great respect to hon. Members opposite, when they continually ask us to reaffirm our determination to see this thing through, do they not see that they are causing doubt? Here, we can play our party politics if we like; here, we can say, "I don't like the Government," but all hon. Members' Questions about Malaya are repeated in Malaya. If, 2045 almost every week, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Prime Minister or any other of my colleagues, is asked, "Will you please repeat again that we intend to see this thing through?" what is thought outside is that hon. Members opposite think that we do not intend to see it through.
§ Mr. Eden
I hope the right hon. Gentleman is not going to say anything of that kind. I did not say one word that could possibly be interpreted in that way. I was speaking for the party I represent on this side of the Committee. All I asked the right hon. Gentleman to do was to tell me. I have at least as much experience of international affairs as he has, and there is never any harm in repeating a good thing a good many times eventually, people will believe it.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am not blaming the right hon. Gentleman. He has not been here during the whole course of the debate, and hon. Members on his side of the Committee have asked that question. I am glad to have it from him that when they do ask for this assurance, they are not speaking for the party opposite.
Certainly, we intend to see this through. We are determined, in collaboration with the people of Malaya, to beat down this terrorism. I want to go further and express not only my view but my conviction. I do not think it is enough to win the emergency. Nor is it enough to win the day after the emergency. There is something more than that, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said. That is, that not only are we determined to stand by, and work with, and help and assist with all the resources at our command to see this thing through, and win this fight against the bandits, but we also intend to help the people of Malaya in their economic development.
One of the most encouraging and imaginative things which has been done in Malaya is the setting up of the Rural Development Board, with Dato Onn in the chair, to raise these peasants from their poverty and illiteracy in the Kampongs. Who can see a kampong in Malaya without experiencing a burning desire to replace it with something better? There is the desire to improve education. Look at the facts. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ask about education. Ten years 2046 ago there were 240,000 children in the schools; now, there are 640,000. But even now, only half the children go to school, in schools in which double shifts are operated, with one set of children in the morning and another set in the afternoon. There is a growing passion everywhere for education, for new schools and for new training colleges.
The development of trade unions is very important. To hon. Members opposite, who sometimes think that I emphasise it too much, let me say this about trade unions. Remember what we do when we take rubber there, or when we develop tin—or any other industry in any other Colony. We take the workers away from their own native organisation, from their Kampong, and unless we replace it with another organisation we leave a vacuum which the Communists will fill if we do not do so. That is why, once an industry is brought into a country, it is courting disaster to leave the people unprotected by an organisation of their own.
For that reason, when I was in Malaya I made it my business to meet and to encourage the trade unions. People in this country who are interested in Malaya and in the rubber industry—I say this not in any way disrespectfully, but kindly yet firmly—can be more co-operative by encouraging the people on the spot to recognise that trade unionism can work for their benefit.
Equally, with regard to constitutional development, the problem of the future of Malaya is a very big one. There are some 5½ million people; 2½ million are Malays, about 1¾ million Chinese, and half a million are Indian. It is we, by our development, who have made this Malaya, with all its advantages and with, all its problems. It is we who have brought the Chinese there to work; it is we who brought the Indians there. The Malays were there already. The present-day Malaya, therefore, is a creation of 19th century capitalist development.
Here is the problem: how can we build a unified community which is now, in a sense, three communities, with separate religions, languages and divisions and, very often, separate communities? We have been working on this problem, and the Commissioner-General, through his liaison committee, has been working on it. The hope of the future of Malaya 2047 is that on the basis of racial co-operation we can bring together all these people, who share Malaya as a home, to build it together.
I should like my last words tonight to be to send a message to the people of Malaya that we shall stand by them right through to the end, until we have beaten this terrorism and until law and order and peace are restored to Malaya. Thereafter, we shall be with them, to guide and to help them and to assist them in their economic, social and constitutional development until, eventually, they are parties with us in this great Commonwealth of Nations.
That a sum, not exceeding £929,264,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the Civil and Revenue Departments and for the Ministry of Defence for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1952.
§ Resolution to be reported Tomorrow: Committee to sit again Tomorrow.