§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I beg to move,That this House deplores the decision to continue the banishment of Tshekedi Khama from the Bamangwato Territory without hearing or inquiring into the grounds for such banishment; and calls upon His Majesty's Government to rescind the order of banishment and allow him to dwell freely within the territory of his tribe.Tshekedi Khama, who is mentioned in this Motion, was for some 23 years the acting Chief of the peoples who occupy the Bamangwato Territory. The Bamangwato Reserve is part of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and the Bamangwato area covers some 40,000 square miles and has a population of over 100,000. Up to about 100 years ago, there were disputes, troubles, quarrels and wars within this area.
These people were, however, very fortunate in having a remarkable man who came forward as their Chief and leader when these people. for the first time, came 1191 into contact with a white man. His name was Khama, and he was a man of outstanding personality, who guided the fortunes of his people for something like 50 years. He had first come into contact with the white man 100 years ago, and in 1862 he was baptised as a Christian.
From the early 70's he became Chief, and he had to deal not only with the troubles and difficulties and wars between the people in the Bamangwato area and the neighbouring tribes, but also with a new problem which inevitably arose with the coming of the white man. It will be remembered that he came over to this country in 1895 with two of the neighbouring chiefs, who asked that their peoples in that area should be taken under the protection of the British Crown. Then he visited Queen Victoria and was received here, and we have taken over the protection of that area ever since. He has been rightly described, in the White Paper which was issued last year, as one of the great African rulers.
In February, 1923, Khama died and he was succeeded by the elder of two sons, Sekgoma, who was then over 50 years of age. Sekgoma had a small son, then about 18 months old, namely, Seretse, who was born on 1st July, 1921. Khama had another son who was then about 19 years of age who had been sent to the African School, Lovedale, and was then at Fort Hare, which is the college for Africans. That son was Tshekedi Khama, the subject of this Motion. Sekgoma did not long survive his great father. In November, 1925, he died, leaving Seretse who was then 4¼ years of age to succeed him as chief.
During Seretse's infancy his uncle. Tshekedi, who had been asked to return home from the college at Fort Hare, was asked by the people to become acting Chief. His age at that time was about 20 or 21. He took up his duties at once and he has carried them through faithfully and well from that moment onwards. He owed a duty first to the small boy, his nephew, to guide him, train him and give him the best education to prepare him for the day when he would have to assume the responsibility of Chief of his people. Secondly, he owed a duty to administer the country as best he could and to guide his people and improve their conditions and education.
1192 In this he followed the great traditions of his father. He himself, of course, had been brought up in the Christian faith. He is a total abstainer and, like his father, did his best to enforce prohibition in his area, especially among his own people. He was fair in his dealings with the white men who came to dwell among his people and he has at all times gained their respect; so much so that General Smuts regarded him as the ablest of the African chiefs. A tribute from such a source is one that cannot be lightly disregarded.
He has done a great deal to improve the conditions of his people and especially their food production, their agriculture generally and their education. With regard to education, when he succeeded his brother there were only two small primary schools in the whole area. Thanks to him, there are now five schools in Serowe and some 20 schools in the rest of the area. They are only primary schools; they are not good, he admits, and nothing like as good as he would like them to be. He has been anxious to see his people take a prominent part in the conduct of their own affairs and he has been anxious to see more responsibility given to his fellow Africans, not only in his own area, but throughout Bechuanaland.
In all matters he realised how essential it was to work in the closest accord with the High Commissioner, the Resident Commissioner and, of course. with His Majesty's Government. In everything he did he consulted them and put before them his proposals. Long before the war he put forward a scheme for secondary education. The war, of course, necessarily postponed the carrying out of any proposals, but he took them up again as early as he could. He put all his proposals before the Government. They were accepted, and his secondary school was built. It was rather remarkable that he put before them not only his scheme and plan but the method of raising the money. There is only one area of which I know throughout the world where a similar thing happened. The people subscribed voluntarily as much as £100,000. The school has now been opened. There are some 250 pupils there, but the building will accommodate some 700.
One could also go into a number of other matters, especially the part which 1193 he took when he came to London and heard that a chartered company was to be formed and that the mineral rights in the area were to be placed in their charge. He came to see the Government of the day. Mr. J. H. Thomas was then the Minister. He persuaded the Government that those rights should not be taken away from the people and given to a chartered company but that they should be reserved until his own people would be in a position to develop them if and when they were so minded.
That is the man who guided the affairs of his own people for 20 years and who has been described in this very White Paper by the Government in this way:His rule had been firm and enlightened,…And that is the man who now has been banished from his home and his people. He has committed no crime. He has done nothing wrong. He has never by word or by deed challenged the authority of the Government. He has been banished, his home has been burned down, his cattle have been stolen and his property has been damaged. That is the man who won the admiration of all who came into contact with him. He worked steadily and unsparingly for the good of his people and yet without trial, without any charge, that is the man the Government have now banished from amongst his own people.
For that purpose the Government used the power which had been given to them by a Proclamation of 3rd June, 1907. which gave power to the High Commissioner to banish a man, not after trial, not upon any evidence, but merely if he was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for believing that peace among the peoples was in danger. The banishment order said:Whereas it has been shown"—it is not said by whom—to the satisfaction of His Excellency the High Commissioner that there are reasonable grounds for believing that Tshekedi Khama, a person for the time being living in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, is dangerous to the peace of the Bamangwato Reserve in the said Protectorate.In exercise of the powers vested in me by Section 3 of Proclamation No. 15 of 1907 and on the instructions of His Excellency the High Commissioner, it is hereby ordered that Tshekedi Khama shall confine himself in so far as his movements within the Bechuanaland 1194 Protectorate are concerned, outside the limits of the Bamangwato Reserve, for a period of one year…and so on. It is signed by the Resident Commissioner and dated 27th March. 1950.
I thought it right to read that to the House. That Proclamation still stands and with it the power given under it in 1907 in this area and in Swaziland, but it has long ago been removed from Kenya and from Northern Rhodesia and no man can be banished from either of those two Territories today without an accusation being brought against him before a judge. The case is heard and the judge has to give his decision. The only somewhat similar power that one recalls recently in this country was the power given during the war under Defence Regulation 18B. All that is needed is that the High Commissioner shall have satisfied himself that he has reasonable cause to believe that there is a danger, and then the man has to go.
What led to this order of banishment'? I have said that one of Tshekedi's duties was the education of Seretse and his preparation for the chieftainship. Tshekedi carried out those duties with the tender care of a father. He was, in truth, a father to this boy and he was so designated and he is so called today, I believe, by Seretse. When the boy was 10, Tshekedi sent him to Lovedale School for African boys, where he himself had been. He sent him later to Adams College in Natal and then to Tiger Kloof in Cape Province, and from 1941 to 1944 he sent him to Fort Hare which is, again a college for Africans and where Seretse took his degree. Then he sent him to the African University of Witwatersrand, where he took up study of the law.
Seretse was now some 23 or 24, and Tshekedi felt that the time had come when he should return to his own people and take up his duties as Chief. But when he came home, Seretse turned to his uncle and asked whether it would not be possible for him to be sent to England and to Oxford. Quite frankly, Tshekedi did not care for that; he thought the time had come when the young man should take up his duties. So strongly did he feel on the subject that he said, "I cannot authorise you to go; this must be put to the people themselves so that they may decide what they think ought to be done."
1195 The people were called together in what I understand is called Kgotla, the ceremony of the people; and Tshekedi put the matter to them. The people came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to let the young man go to Oxford. Tshekedi had thought otherwise, but he accepted the decision of the people and said, "Very well; I will do my best for you," and he got into touch with people whom he thought might be of assistance to his nephew and sent him to Balliol. He was there for some three years. He also joined one of the Inns of Court.
Having finished at Oxford and having come back to London, Seretse received a letter from Tshekedi who said to him, "Come home. You have been a long time away from your people and I want you to take your position as Chief. If you have passed your examinations, all well and good; if you have not passed them, nevertheless come home. You can continue your studies and I am sure arrangements can be made whereby your examinations can be taken and you can pass them."
That was the act of a man who is now accused, and who has been steadily accused, of trying to get the chieftainship for himself. Sir, was that the act of a man ambitious to keep power in his own hands? Before this young man came to England, Tshekedi was doing his best to urge him to take over the chieftainship. He said to him, "Take over now while I have the chance of being alongside you." After he had been to Oxford, Tshekedi was telling him, "Come home now; it does not matter about your examinations."
What was the answer? To his consternation the answer was that the young man had met an English woman and wanted to marry her. When he received that information, Tshekedi was undoubtedly disturbed, because there was a significant passage in that letter from Seretse conveying that message to his uncle. It is rather noteworthy that the letter begins, "Dear Father" and ends "Your loving son, Seretse." In it was this rather striking passage:This thing, my marriage, will not please you, Father, because the Tribe will not like it, and I do not know what the Tribe will say.1196 Seretse was right; Tshekedi was disturbed. Why? Well, it was his first experience of the desire of a Chief to marry a white girl and he knew of the prejudice which these mixed marriages created. But that was not the matter which really weighed with him. It was something entirely different; it was the future. His people are polygamists. That is their custom. They are not all polygamists, and especially those who have become Christians are not polygamists. He and Seretse were Christians. Not any son of any wife can succeed to the chieftainship, but only the elder son of the principal wife, and according to Tshekedi the custom of the tribe was this: that the chief decides that he is now desirous of marrying a woman who is to become the principal wife and the mother of the future Chief. He brings her before the people and submits her to the people for their approval.
Tshekedi said, "This has not been done." He asked Seretse to come home and explain to the people—and what was the answer? That the marriage had taken place. The point which was troubing Tshekedi throughout was this: what will be the position? Of necessity this marriage will take place in a Christian church, he thought. In fact, it did not. It was to have taken place in a Christian church and in a letter Seretse said that the banns had been published, but the marriage took place in a registry office here. Very well, says Tshekedi; he is marrying an English girl, so there can be no question of polygamy, no question of who is the principal wife. That was the problem which worried him. That was why he asked Seretse to come home before the marriage.
Seretse did not do so. He married and then went home. The people were called together. On the first occasion the question was put to them, not whether Seretse should be Chief—there was never any doubt about that; there never has been any doubt about it, for he has been accepted as Chief by all and especially by the uncle who trained him and educated him for that position. The point which Tshekedi was asking was, "Will you accept this English woman as the principal wife and as the possible mother of future chiefs?"
At the first meeting of the people, in November, 1948, they voted against that. 1197 At the second meeting, in December, the vote against was not so strong. Then Seretse was allowed to go back to England. He returned and there was another meeting in June, 1949. At that meeting the people accepted the English wife as the principal wife and therefore as the possible mother of future Chiefs. As I have said, at none of those meetings was there any challenge whatsoever thrown out against Seretse's right to be Chief.
There was another matter. Between the two meetings—December, 1948, and June, 1949—Tshekedi heard that meetings were taking place at which it was being suggested that he was objecting to Seretse for one reason and one reason only—that he wanted the chieftainship. What was his action about that? Hush it up? Say nothing? Encourage such talk? No, Sir. What he did was immediately to write to the District Commissioner to tell him what was taking place and to ask him to take action, saying that unless immediate steps were taken to stop these rumours it would be more difficult to deal with the matter later.
The meeting of June, 1949, was unanimously in favour of accepting Seretse's wife as the principal wife. It is now suggested that it became unanimous because of the fear which the people had that Tshekedi wanted to be Chief. The truth of the matter was that Seretse was loyal and faithful to the wife he had married and that he made it plain to his people that if they did not accept her he could not remain. He could not have used a stronger argument with these people. They are anxious to have him as their Chief and they are anxious to have him with them, and they felt, "If we do not accept the wife, we shall lose him." That is why they voted so unanimously in favour of accepting the wife.
That left Tshekedi still worried, not as to the immediate position but as to the future. Would this decision be accepted when Seretse died and the question of the succession then arose? What did he do? He said, "Let the Government hold an inquiry." Inquiry into what? Not the status of Seretse or his position, but the status of the wife. The question was, is this in accordance with native law and custom? The desire was to settle once and for all whether it has been accepted 1198 according to the law that her children shall undoubtedly be the true successors. Secondly, he said, "Knowing that there are these rumours that I am ambitious, will you inquire into that and put an end to these rumours once and for all?", there was again no question with regard to the position of Seretse. There was no other question that he wanted decided.
Let us see what happened. Rightly or wrongly, he thought that the best way in which rather to force the hand of the Government to hold this inquiry was to withdraw himself temporarily from his own area, therefore rather compelling the Government to appoint this Commission and make the inquiry that he had asked for. He did withdraw to a neighbouring territory. He went straight to the Chief of that territory, who made provision for him to remain. That, I understand, is not unusual. It was purely temporary until the Commission was appointed and until it had reported.
The Commission was appointed, but when its terms were brought to the notice of Tshekedi he was distressed to find that the Commission was to inquire into whether Seretse was a fit and proper person to be Chief. What did he do? He at once protested against it. In order to show that he had no objection whatsoever to his nephew's being Chief, he sent in a written declaration to the Government renouncing for himself and his children all claims to the chieftainship. What more could a man do? What more?
The Government never even acknowledged receipt of his letter. They sent him a letter asking him to give evidence as plaintiff against Seretse as the defendant. He said, "I will do nothing of the kind. I am not a plaintiff in any way, and he is not a defendant in any way. All I am concerned about," he said, "is the future, and the status of the children." The Government's reply was that the terms of reference were wide enough to cover all those points, and that therefore the Commission was to go on.
Tshekedi was called, and for some reason or another he was in the box for three whole days. What for? He was a man whom the Government, after he had been banished, described as having ruled well and firmly, and against whom no accusation of any kind could be brought. The inquiry was held. The 1199 report was made. But none of us—nobody in this House—has ever seen that report. It has been kept by the Government, and it has never been allowed to see the light of day.
There was never, so far as one knows, the slightest complaint against Tshekedi even when, very rightly, he firmly dealt with a white man. I am not going into that incident, but the High Commissioner of the day took action against him at once, because he had ordered the banishment of that white man; but within a month Tshekedi had been brought back and reinstated. It is also interesting to note that when an inquiry was made into his conduct on that occasion, in dealing with that young man who was behaving badly then—admittedly badly, amongst the women—the chief witness against him was the then Assistant District Commissioner, a man called Germond, to whom I shall have to refer again a little later.
As I say, the Commission was held, and it reported, and as a result Seretse was banished for five years and Tshekedi was banished under the order which I have read to the House. What is said? It is now said that Tshekedi is unpopular with the tribe, and that if he returns there trouble will arise. It is interesting to note that since he was banished he has been allowed to go back and be with his own people on five separate and distinct occasions. I need not trouble the House with all the details, but he was there on five occasions between 22nd August and 10th December, 1950, with the knowledge of the Government; and no trouble arose with anybody. That is the man who is supposed to be a danger—supposed to be so in the mind of the Commissioner who issued that order.
One other thing. The man who is now acting as the African Chief, having been called there since Tshekedi had to go away, is a man who belongs to a family that have been all along antagonistic not only to Tshekedi but to his famous father, Khama. What is also interesting is this. A meeting of the people can be summoned only by the African Chief or acting Chief. It cannot be summoned by an English or South African Commissioner. What is more interesting is to find the 1200 instructions that were sent by Mr. Germond to the acting Chief on 29th December telling him precisely what to do when the Secretary of State should arrive at Serowe.
The Secretary of State went there, and he arrived at Serowe, and there he was met by what he described as the greatest meeting of those people that there ever was. It is interesting to read the instructions that were sent out by Mr. Germond. I am not going to read them all, as they comprise a very long document, and they are very detailed instructions. Remember, they were sent by Mr. Germond to the man who was acting Chief. They contain these words:My Friend, for record purposes and for your information I am setting out hereunder the result of our discussion on the subject of the Secretary of State's visit. The Secretary of State will arrive in Serowe on Thursday, 1st February at 9.45. He will be accompanied—and so on.I will come to the Kgotla just before 10.15…and I will receive him—and so on.You will then lead the party to the platform and get them seated. … The choir of school children will then sing a song of welcome. I will introduce to the Tribe the Secretary of State. … You will then stand up and read the written address, and when you have done so you will introduce—and he names the main people from nine districts.You will then call upon the chosen speakers to speak, explaining to the Secretary of State that each speaker represents a district and that Phethu Mphoeng represents the grandsons of Sekgoma. When the speeches are over the Secretary will reply. Pula—that is, "Cheers," I think.You will make a very short reply to the Secretary of State's speech. Pula. The choir will sing a song and then sing God Save the King.Now comes the really important part:Now, with special reference to speeches, as agreed by you and your advisers, the main heads which speakers must confine themselves to—and those words are underlined: "must confine themselves to"——are four in number. 1. The speakers will say that they have accepted the banishment of Seretse and that they do not intend to refer again to it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes——until the period of five years is over; that during this time they are prepared to co-operate 1201 with Government and get on with the development of their country. 2. That the people have accepted the principle of councils—I shall have something more to say about that in a moment.—they wait for Government now to teach them how these councils will work; that they have appointed Keaboka Kgamane to be their representative before Government 3. That they ask that—and this is the important item with regard to Tshekedi—Tshekedi he ordered to stay out of the Reserve until such time as the period of Seretse's banishment is over, and that he should he made to appoint an agent to look after his property within the Reserve in the same way Seretse has. 4. It has been said by Tshekedi that the people like him and that it is only his cousins who persuade the Government that he is not wanted in the Reserve. It will be for the speakers to say what the truth is and whether they want him or his heirs as Chief.That is the letter which was sent to the acting Chief. How could one read a letter of that kind and pay attention to the statements that have been made by the Government in this country? How can we possibly rely upon the statements that have now been made? The Secretary of State. without a doubt, trusts the District Commissioner to give him a full account, and this is the way in which the District Commissioner prepares the meeting which the Secretary of State is to attend.
The Secretary of State met Tshekedi in Mafeking and arranged to continue the talks with him in London. I agree that the Government have assisted Tshekedi with regard to his expenses, both legal and otherwise; and since he has been in London the Secretary of State and his officials have seen Tshekedi on many occasions. A fortnight ago the Minister made a statement to the Overseas Association, in which he stated that he had offered limited and conditional access to some of the cattle posts to Tshekedi. He offered further to develop a large area near where Tshekedi now lives and to bring water supplies to that area. That is quite right; so he has.
Tshekedi gave all these matters his most careful consideration but he refused to accept them because, first, he was to live far away from his own people—and, apparently, to live there permanently; to establish a permanent home away from them—and, secondly, he was to be deprived of the right of visiting part of the ranches occupied by his own cattle.
1202 The whole offer was to fall to the ground if he did not remove his cattle from the North, where his own people were, and bring them to the South; and if he wanted to visit his cattle posts he had to be accompanied by a Government officer. He was treated exactly as if he had lost all his rights, to either his land or his property, and was to be excluded from amongst his people—for what! What wrong had he committed? Why put him under these conditions? What had he done—the man who had up till then been praised and trusted by the Government?
The Minister says that he offered to allow him further to state his case before a full Kgotla if he would accept the decision of the people there assembled, and that Tshekedi refused. It is difficult to know how anyone could accept that offer now, when one knows how the people are called together, and what instructions had been handed out to them. Since when have the Government regarded the wishes of the people as paramount? In open Kgotla, on the third occasion they expressed their approval of the English wife of Seretse unanimously, but the Government turned it down. Indeed, they say, "If the Kgotla does not accept you unanimously, Tshekedi, we will say that the people do not want you, and you have got to go away."
There were suggestions that he wanted to divide the territory. There is not a tittle of evidence with regard to that. They are quite untrue. Suggestions were also made that because of his rule people had left the territory. The truth is that the Government held a Commission of Inquiry with regard to the people, and the High Commissioner himself said, with regard to the people that have left the territory, that the sub-Chief should be removed from a certain area; and, secondly, that certain others were to be excluded from that area under the Proclamation of 1907. Thereupon these people, rather than obey that, left the area and went into Rhodesia.
Finally, I should like to give two quotations about this man. Sir Evelyn Baring, the High Commissioner, writing about this man and his heirs, said:I have examined the report on the accounts of the Treasury of the Bamangwato prepared by Mr. Walters, the Financial Secretary of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. The Ngwato 1203 Native Authority under the leadership of Chief Tshekedi Khama has in recent years shown great enterprise and initiative.That is the man who is condemned.A real attempt is being made to perform services and to carry out works with funds from the Native Treasury and the Native Authority is becoming a genuine organ of regional self-government"—regional self-government—and has developed beyond the stage of being merely a salary paying machine. This is a most welcome development since the Bamangwato control is far the most important Native Authority in the Bechuanaland Protectorate and their Treasury receives the largest revenue.Then, during the negotiations that have taken place between Tshekedi and the Minister, the Minister offered to issue to the Press the following statement:The Secretary of State has confirmed that the decision that Tshekedi Khama must reside outside the Reserve for a period in no way reflects on his record or achievements as Regent of the Bamangwato for 23 years, of which he can be justly proud.A testimonial from the right hon. Gentleman himself.
That is the position, and that is the case. I ask this House, exercising its honoured position as the High Court of Parliament, to say that this man has not had justice. He has quite obviously been sacrificed for expediency, and I ask that this House say that, without any charge being brought against him, without being guilty of any wrong, he is entitled now to go home and dwell freely amongst his own people.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire)
The banishment order on Tshekedi Khama expired on 29th March last, and it is the refusal of His Majesty's Government to rescind that order that has brought about this debate. This debate deals, as the House knows, with the conduct of a man who has served his country and the Empire loyally and efficiently, and who, under circumstances of the greatest possible difficulty, has, like his nephew also, behaved with dignity and restraint. I think the whole House will be grateful to the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) for having raised a subject which touches very closely the honour and good name of Great Britain, not only in Africa but throughout the world.
1204 This is a debate on a single and, it seems to us, a simple issue: on the banishment without trial or inquiry of a former Chief, who gave services of the highest order for some 23 years, who has neither committed any crime nor been charged with one, who has expressly renounced any claim either to the chieftainship or to his previous status, and whose visits since his banishment, extending over a period of some five and a half months, have not been accompanied by any disorder at all. I ask the House to remember that the course of the last 15 months, over five of which Tshekedi Khama has spent in the Reserve, follows swiftly on all the complications and troubles that arose over the marriage of his nephew. Now that a year has passed, greater restrictions still are being imposed upon Tshekedi than were imposed on the morrow of the events of 1949.
This is not a debate on the future of the High Commission Territories. It is not a debate on whether the office of High Commissioner in the Union should be separated from that of the High Commissioner for the Territories. It is not a debate on whether the administrative offices should be moved from Mafeking. or whether the Colonial Office or Commonwealth Relations Office should be responsible for the administration of Bechuanaland, though in fairness to the Department of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State I must remind the House that of the last four Resident Commissioners in Bechuanaland all were recruited from the Colonial Service.
Nor, again, is it a debate on Seretse Khama. It is unfortunate for Tshekedi, whose affairs we are debating today, that justice to him has been delayed and confused by becoming entangled in the affairs of his nephew. On this I will content myself by saying that it seems to some of us that many difficulties would have been avoided if in the case of Seretse Khama it had been made plain at the start that the marriage of a Paramount Chief is not only a personal matter, but an affair of State.On this, Tshekedi—and all who know him well and who have known him well in previous years will. I think, acquit him of any personal ambition in this matter—certainly showed more sense of urgency 6,000 miles away than seems to have been shown by the Commonwealth Relations Office here in London.
1205 However, events have moved on, and we are now confronted with quite different situations. We are today engaged, as I said, on the discussion of a simple problem, and all who hope that justice will be done to Tshekedi are anxious that other great issues such as race relations in Africa, which are not at all relevant to this single simple issue, will not be debated under conditions which may make a calm and happy solution more difficult.
We are—and I think this goes for the country as a whole—happy to see a long and honourable association between the United Kingdom and South Africa within the British Empire, South Africa with its immense resources, its perplexing and often baffling problems, with its power to advance the wealth and happiness of mankind; and East Africa as well with her large European population, and Central Africa where the House has been heartened by the recent talks on closer association.
Many races have made their homes in Africa, South and East. Some European families have been in Southern Africa for two centuries, as long as many Africans, and the:: have, it seems to us, as much right as any race to regard Southern or Eastern Africa as their home. They have as much pride in their own race and in their own customs as Chief Tshekedi has always shown that he has in the race and customs of his own people.
Great problems lie ahead in Africa which will demand high statesmanship, patience and understanding. One of the contributions that we can make to these problems is, it seems to us, to remain true to our own conviction that the right to personal freedom of a British subject, or as in the case of Tshekedi Khama, of a person enjoying the protection of His Majesty, unless such a person is charged or convicted of any crime after a hearing by a proper judicial tribunal, is absolute. This is a right whatever the race or colour of the person may be, and no considerations of administrative convenience should be allowed to stand in the way.
We do not believe it right to banish or to exclude from a territory people who have committed no crime, but whom it may be politically inconvenient to have in the territory. I would ask the House to look for a moment at this issue once more.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I was at pains to say that in our view exclusion should not come into operation without a judicial inquiry. I should not be in order on this Motion in going into the judicial inquiry which took place on Seretse Khama. Our opinion is that there has been no judicial inquiry into the case of Tshekedi, and that, in the absence of such an inquiry, it is monstrous that an exclusion order should operate.
§ Mr. Sorensen rose—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am sorry, but I cannot give way again to the hon. Gentleman. The argument I am trying to develop is a very important one. This will be a long debate, and there will be plenty of opportunities later.
Let us consider for a moment the situation that confronts us. Tshekedi Khama has been acting Chief of the Bamangwato tribe for 23 years, and by all accounts he has discharged his task faithfully, honourably and efficiently. One of our senior civil servants to whom I spoke lately said:In a long colonial career there are not a great number of people of whom I could say that if they gave me their word of honour that something would be carried out I would have no doubt that would he so. But I can pay that tribute to my friend Tshekedi Khama.An inquiry was held, but, as the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) knows. that inquiry was not into Tshekedi Khama or his administration. It was an inquiry into the fitness of his nephew to be Chief. It is true that it was not an inquiry for which Tshekedi or his followers asked. They had asked that there should be a clear declaration of the law and customs of the tribe on the question of the marriage of the Chief. They also asked that the attention of the judicial inquiry should be directed to what seemed to them and us to be wholly unfair charges that Tshekedi was a rival claimant to the chieftainship and refused to install his nephew. However, though the terms of reference were different from those asked for, the inquiry took place.
Tshekedi Khama attended that inquiry and gave evidence. He had no conception from start to finish that his own conduct also was under scrutiny, and there is no 1207 evidence in the reports of that inquiry which are in the Library of this House to show that at any time references were made to the conduct of Tshekedi himself. Yet, after the conclusion of the tribunal, the Government published their declaration which was to banish the nephew both from the Reserve and from the Protectorate and to banish the uncle from the Reserve.
I must stress once more that the conduct of Tshekedi had never been called in question before that inquiry. He had no idea that the inquiry was roaming over him as well, and he had no opportunity to answer any doubts or hesitations in the minds of those carrying out the inquiry. When he was banished, he was banished under a Proclamation of the Protectorate of 1907, which Proclamation carries with it no right either for an inquiry or for an appeal.
There is a more recent Proclamation of 1943, and though I will not read it in detail, the House may be interested to know that under it, if the High Commissioner is satisfied that grave disturbances of the peace may arise unless the Chief is exiled outside the tribal area, the Chief can be exiled, but a judicial inquiry must take place within six months, as otherwise the Chief is allowed to return unhampered to his Reserve.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Gordon-Walker)
The 1943 Proclamation could not have been used in this case because it referred to Chiefs, and Tshekedi is not a Chief.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I was coming to that. The contention of the Government is that this Proclamation could not have been applied to Tshekedi as he is not a Chief and as he had already resigned. Tshekedi denies that this is so. I am not going to make too much of the point, but it is, to say the least, unfortunate that action was taken, if it had to be taken, under an order which did not allow for an appeal or an inquiry when a more recent order would have allowed an inquiry to be held.
In regard to this vexed problem of banishment in the Colonial Empire, it is desirable that one or two words should be said from this bench. There is a right in many Colonies to banish citizens of that Colony to another Colony. This right has been very rarely exercised, and 1208 many of us do not think there is much purpose in retaining it.
But there is a right also, apart from that, to move a citizen from one part of a Colony to another, and all who have had experience in the Colonial Empire will know what this rustication means. In all such cases where an order to rusticate is made, the Government of the Colony must report to the Secretary of State. There are many difficult cases, as most hon. Members will realise, where there is everything short of legal proof of some intention to create disturbance or of some disturbance having been committed, and it may be that the person who has done so is in a position to intimidate the tribe or his neighbours and no legal evidence is forthcoming.
It seems to those of us who are concerned about these affairs that the right to rusticate must be preserved, but we hold that there should be in all such cases a judicial inquiry before this right is used, or anyhow within a reasonable period of the right being used, which judicial inquiry might under certain circumstances obviously have to take place in camera. I commend to the House the example of what is now happening in Trinidad, where the judge hears evidence, the accused knows what he is charged with and he is put in a position to answer.
To revert to the case of Tshekedi Khama, after the inquiry, which inquiry had nothing to do with him, he was ordered to reside outside the Reserve for one year, which year, as I said, expired at the end of March. He has now been told that the order cannot be rescinded. Yet, I would repeat once more that in the period since he was first excluded he has spent over five months in the Reserve without any serious trouble or, in fact, any trouble at all arising, and only for 14 days of the five months that he has been in the Reserve has he been accompanied by a Government official. There has been no trouble. Yet the Government have gone further than the White Paper, which White Paper was accepted by the House on many sides with doubts and uncertainties.
In a speech to the Empire correspondents recently—on 14th June, I think—the Secretary of State said that he had not made any new decision. He said—and these are his exact words—I have not found it possible to alter the policy laid down in the White Paper.1209 Yet he has altered it, and he has altered it very considerably to Tshekedi Khama's disadvantage. This is some 15 months after the first exclusion order was made, and it has been altered to his disadvantage in a number of particulars.
I shall not weary the House with all the evidence. Indeed, in a case of this kind hon. Members who have studied it must have wondered which points to bring out in the House, so overwhelmingly strong does the case appear to be, limited as it is to the position today of Tshekedi Khama. The White Paper, for example, made no provision at all as to the date from which the exclusion was to operate. Yet in the proposed Press statement, if the talks between the right hon. Gentleman and Tshekedi had been successful this announcement was to have appeared:Tshekedi must be excluded from residence in the Bamangwato Reserve for a period of not less than five yearsfive more years—and 15 months have already gone by since the White Paper.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
That is one year better—but that has not been made plain up to now. The right hon. Gentleman in his talks with Tshekedi told him that he would be excluded altogether from even periodic visits to some of his ranches. He was told, again in a Press statement, that he must arrange for the care of his property in the Reserve by agents and could be granted permission only in the most exceptional circumstances to appear in the Reserve. Yet, in a period when tempers might be expected to be higher and emotions more sharply aroused, he has spent 5½ months out of the last 15 months in the Reserve. Now he is told that he can only go in the future in most exceptional circumstances, and nothing has happened to entitle his position to be worsened from what it was a year ago.
Again, he is told that that on all future visits he must be accompanied by an officer of the Government, and if he goes alone all his visits are to be halved in length. He is finally told that he will be assisted in water development in the South provided that he undertakes to move his cattle continually from the North, and if he refuses this requirement all other privileges, including the right 1210 to re-enter at all, will be forfeited. He was asked to sign a paper at the same time which would have had the effect that he agreed that his presence in the Reserve constituted a danger to the tribe.
There is a case here which the Government have to answer. It is leaving an unpleasant feeling in the minds of many people. This disquietude is increased by what appeared to many of us to be the almost frantic efforts of some Government apologists to find further arguments to justify an action which we think was untenable at the start. All sorts of new charges are now being brought into play against a Chief whose administration has won golden opinions from all who know him well. The dispute between uncle and nephew has been magnified and, instead of being calmed, it seems to have been excited—a dispute which was mainly, if not entirely, over the constitutional status of Seretse's wife and their children.
There is much talk today of a great tribal split, and it looks from some of the recent appointments in the tribe as if the old split, which is some 50 years old, has been revived by the very action which has been taken in recent months by His Majesty's Government. It is said again that Tshekedi, if he is allowed to return to his home, would revenge himself on those who have taken action against him —a curious charge to make against somebody against whose administration when he had all the power no charges whatever had been made.
It is said, again, that he is very unpopular. The Government know as well as any of us that Governments which stay a long time get unpopular. It is the fate of any ruler or Government after 23 years to have some enemies. But that is no argument for exiling the Government. Some Governments that we know contrive to make enemies even quicker than Tshekedi Khama, but no suggestion has been made that they should be exiled.
It is said that at the Kgotla attended by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations recently, every indication was given that Tshekedi was unpopular, but the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has read out some curious passages from a letter written by the District Commissioner, Mr. Germond, to the acting 1211 tribal chief Keaboka, which will have surprised and pained the House. The letters, which no one would deny, showed that ideas were put in the minds and mouths of the speakers which cannot possibly allow us to regard what they said as a spontaneous reaction of the tribe.
I will not read again the phrases which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has quoted, but at the conclusion of his second quotation to the effect that Mr. Germond suggested or ordered that the speakers must confine themselves to four main heads, and thatIt will be for the speakers to say what the truth is and whether they want him or his heirs as Chief,I hope the House noticed once again that a Government spokesman has encouraged the idea that Tshekedi is still a competitor for the chieftainship. This is despite the most emphatic assurances he has given, which assurances all who have worked with him in Africa confidently believe he would most honourably keep. This is indeed an extraordinary letter—this letter from Mr. Germond—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will find time to deal with it. It is almost as extraordinary as the statement made by the Secretary of State himself when talking of the tribal suspicions against Tshekedi Khama that:In the last resort it does not matter whether or not the tribe are right in their views—what matters is the fact of their ineradicable suspicion.Surely it is the duty of the Government to see that justice is done and that unjust suspicions are eradicated.
Again, the charge now is made that the presence of Tshekedi as a private citizen in his own territory would lead to disorder. That is surely a most extraordinary argument. Having failed to bring home the charge that he would himself promote disorder it is now contended that his mere presence would excite disorder. Surely that is an argument to increase the protection of the law and not to exclude someone who has committed no offence.
When certain citizens of London recently took direct action on the front door of the late Minister of Labour's house, the Minister of Labour was not exiled, but the police near his house were increased in number. This illustration may give us some idea of how 1212 similar problems should be dealt with in Bamangwato. Again, it is said that a certain tribe, quite recently, in 1947, sought refuge from what is hinted was the harsh treatment of Tshekedi. How can this be reconciled, if it is true, with the statement which was to be issued under the signature of the Secretary of State if the talks with Tshekedi had been successful? The statement would have run as follows:The Secretary of State has confirmed that the decision that Tshekedi Khama must reside outside the Reserve for a period in no way reflects on his record or achievements as Regent of the Bamangwato tribe for 23 years of which he can justly be proud.I think that the House was uneasy that new and trivial arguments were enlisted to condemn a man of whom His Majesty's Government are prepared to speak in those words. Nor are the tributes of the Government confined to words. We heard recently of the high post that Tshekedi was offered by the Government with regard to economic development in Basutoland. As he said:I was to be head of a new department but as I am banned from one-half of the Territory my advice would be nonsense.In this case, he seems to have a more complete sense of his duties as adviser than some European advisers in other countries have shown. All this has happened despite the fact that 15 months have gone by and Tshekedi was prepared to negotiate with the Government for a restoration of his partial freedom.
He was prepared to accept an undertaking to allow him access provided that he kept out of populous areas and provided he lived with the Bakwena Tribe and provided, as he has always shown himself ready to do, that once more he renounced publicly and before his people any claims to the chieftainship.
I think that the whole House will be sorry for the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the very difficult task which he is called upon to face. He inherited this problem from his predecessor. The delays and procrastinations of earlier years are part of the inheritance of the right hon. Gentleman, but that is the fortune of life in the House of Commons and in administration. We have no doubt whatever, although the rôle of the right hon. Gentleman is a difficult and 1213 painful one, where justice lies. The Secretary of State has recently written a book which he has called "Restatement of Liberty." I have read it. It is an extremely difficult book to read. I think, indeed, that purely intellectually it will justify his membership of the Labour Cabinet, although he must find it very difficult to find colleagues with whom he can carry on conversations on that level.
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the title of the book is a little inopportune at the present time. It is a difficult book from which to quote. Indeed it is always very hard to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is evolving a philosophy of his own or recounting one of his predecessor's in order to dismiss his contentions. One thing that he makes clear is that, while anxious to deny that every activity of State is to that extent a diminution of liberty, and while always anxious to put the rule of law into what he thinks is its proper place, the right hon. Gentleman concedes that the doctrine of the rule of law that every man equally shall be subject to known open law is an indispensable part of democracy, if that word is to retain any meaning at all. I would refer him back to that passage in his book. We do not feel in this case that, while the letter of the law in Bamangwato has been observed, justice has been done. We on these benches join with the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery in commending his Motion to the House.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Gordon-Walker)
I would like to say at the beginning that I am glad that my book has found at least one reader, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman bought his copy.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
Then I hope that he will buy one.
I am very glad to have this opportunity to state the case of the Government and to give at reasonable length the grounds of the decision that the Government have reached. There has not been, in the nature of things, any proper occasion to do that yet, and it is, of course, right that it should be done in this place.
It is, of course—and I never concealed this—a very difficult case. We have had to 1214 do what is one of the most difficult things to do, namely, to balance private interests and public will and public good, and to do that against an African background which is not easy to understand, and which does not always approximate to the ideas which we take for granted here. There have, naturally, been misconceptions about this, and I will try to correct some of them as I go along.
I would like to deal with one point—not a very important one—which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) made about the use of a Proclamation of 1943. Tshekedi Khama had resigned his Regency by letter to the High Commissioner on 13th March, 1950, which was before the date of the exclusion order and, therefore, that Proclamation did not apply any longer.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
Under the constitution, the Native Authority could be the Native Authority alone and the Native Authority with council, and although Tshekedi had resigned his Native Authority with council, he was still the Native Authority alone in line of succession.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
If he had resigned the Regency he could not possibly be, in any sense of the word, the Native Authority.
It has been said that I have been making charges against the good name and reputation of Tshekedi Khama. That I deny. I have said, and I repeat today, that I think he is an extremely able man with a very fine record of government. That does not mean that he is more of an angel than the rest of us, but he is a man with a very great and good record. It is very remarkable, and gratifying that so many people have recognised that—people who, a year ago, when we were discussing a somewhat related matter, had hardly a good word to say for Tshekedi.
It is not I who have said, for example, that Tshekedi Khama is going for the chieftainship. What I have done, and what it is my duty to do, is to keep an eye on certain matters, and on the views of the tribe, and it is not a question, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) seemed to think, of convincing the House whether Tshekedi is wanting the chieftainship or whether his renunciation is genuine or not. The question is to convince the tribe, and 1215 the tribe's views on this matter are very important indeed. That is one of the factors that we have to take into account. As I say, I do not know whether the tribe are justified in reaching their decision.
In the same way it is not just that Tshekedi has become unpopular in the course of these things, and certainly not, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire kept on repeating, a matter of administrative convenience. If it were a matter of administrative convenience, we would not stand in the way of Tshekedi ruling. What we have here to deal with are the dangers of disorder and that a constitutional advance in the tribe by getting rid of direct rule can be held up and impeded. We have to deal with the major and important things of disorder and the continuation of direct rule instead of getting rid of it. It is not whether Tshekedi is unpopular or a matter of administrative convenience.
These dangers in the same way do not necessarily arise out of Tshekedi's own acts or his own intentions. Naturally, the questions of disorder and failure to cooperate with the Government by the tribe themselves are questions of the intentions of the tribe. They do not, in fact, accept that Tshekedi's renunciation of the chieftainship as genuine, and in any case they have said that they do not want him back whether he has renounced the chieftainship or not. They say that, if he returned, they are frightened that he will go back on his renunciation of power, that he will secure power and that he will revenge himself upon them.
I have said—and I repeat it because the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire laughed at me when I said it—that it is not for me to say whether these views are wrong. The question is whether they are held, and if they are held they are very important facts in this matter. I should say that in arriving at their views the tribe have the advantage, which we have not had, of having known Tshekedi at close quarters for 23 years. What does matter here is, what views are, in fact, held: and, secondly, what consequences would flow from a disregard or flouting of those views of the tribe. They have said, quite clearly, that the results would be, first, disorder; and, second, non-co-operation 1216 with the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are 'They'?"] I am coming to that question. We have to remember that because of these views there would be the danger of disorder and the practical certainty of non-co-operation with the Government.
In my view the evidence in the matter —and I will set it before the House—is overwhelming. First of all, we have the evidence of all the men on the spot, including Sir Evelyn Baring. I should like to take this opportunity, as Sir Evelyn is giving up his appointment this week, to pay a tribute to his very great work for seven years as High Commissioner, and particularly to his work in the High Commission Territories, to which he has brought a new spirit and a new hope. Certainly nobody can say he has anything but the interests of the Territories and the tribes who are in them at heart.
All the men on the spot support this evidence. There is also the evidence, for what it is worth, of my own visit. I went to great pains to discover the facts. I did not go with a closed mind, but with an open mind. I met many Africans and I talked with neighbouring chiefs in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, with the chiefs in Basutoland and Swaziland, and with our officials and with the people living in those areas. Then I had the opportunity of attending a great Kgotla, of which I will speak in a moment. That is a piece of evidence of the views of the tribe itself, which they quite clearly expressed on different occasions.
I should like to say in reply to a point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that right from the beginning, when the question of Seretse's marriage was being considered, the tribe had turned against Tshekedi, and showed what had not been suspected up to then, that he was very unpopular already. Then there is the Kgotla, to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred, which dealt with Seretse's marriage. At that Kgotla the choice put to the people was not really whether they would accept a white wife and the children of such a union; but the real question put to them by Seretse was:"Do you want me, Seretse, or Tshekedi?" It was that which was really settled at that third Kgotla.
I should like now to come to more recent evidence of the views of the tribe, although what I have referred to was only 1217 a year or so ago. On 6th December, 1950, Tshekedi was paying a visit to the tribe and he was for a short time in Serowe itself. Immediately a deputation went from the Kgotla to the District Commissioner. Having heard that Tshekedi was in Serowe they asked that he be immediately removed and required to appoint agents to look after his cattle. If this were not done, they said, a campaign of non co-operation would be renewed. There already had been one earlier. They added:If the Government is incapable of controlling Tshekedi, the Government should say so and we ourselves will deal effectively with him in our own way.Then in February, 1951, a deputation of nine headmen went to the District Commissioner and said that if Tshekedi's followers continued to behave in their present truculent manner there would be disorder. Similar views have been expressed at a number of different Kgotlas.
On 1st February this year at the Kgotla which I attended in Serowe, and at which 10,000 people were present—one in ten of the whole population—the main speech made this point quite clear, and it was reiterated in all the other speeches. I think that there were eight or nine other speeches made at that Kgotla. This was said in the main speech, and it was actually written down and read out:We do not want Tshekedi back in our country. We welcome his banishment by the Government and we request that he be excluded altogether from our country.They went on to say that his cattle and his followers ought to be removed, and then they ended:By our inimitable restraint we have thus far managed to avoid incidents which could have very regrettable repercussions and are inevitable if we are left to rub shoulders with them daily.I am not arguing about those views, but trying to establish whether they are held or not.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
What I am trying to establish, and what it is important in the first place for us to know is, whether these views are held by the tribe, and secondly, what the consequences would be.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
Is this the same meeting that the right hon. and 1218 learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) referred to, where Mr. Germond wrote some advice beforehand?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
It is the same meeting, and I will come to the point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in due course. On 28th May —this had nothing to do with the Kgotla—the Government's present decision was announced, and a Kgotla spokesman said that under no circumstances would the tribe willingly allow Tshekedi to stay within the Reserve.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery quite rightly said that a Kgotla cannot be paramount. It is quite true that a Kgotla cannot take decisive or final decisions in the way that an Act of Parliament here would be decisive, but when views are expressed in a whole series of Kgotlas one after another, indicating that if certain actions were taken disorder and non-co-operation with the Government would follow, at least one must give very great weight to such expressions of opinion.
There is a distinction in certain circumstances between not doing something that a Kgotla asks to be done, and, on the other hand, forcing on a tribe something that Kgotla after Kgotla has begged should not be done. Surely we ought to consider that these views of the men on the spot, my own inquiries and the expressions of the tribe by the headmen and under the authority of a Kgotla should be taken into consideration. There is also the evidence of Tshekedi's own actions, which throw a very significant light on the attitude of the tribe and are, therefore, legitimate evidence. We have to establish what are the views of the tribe.
At the time of Seretse's marriage, Tshekedi went into voluntary exile. He did so, as he said, to avoid splits and dissensions in the tribe. The right hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), with what evidence I do not know, said that this was a temporary withdrawal, but Tshekedi published what he called a public declaration on this occasion, in which he said:I am leaving the Bamangwato country to ally myself to a neighbouring Chief and become his subject.This was in July, 1949, 10 months before the exclusion order which, I should 1219 remind the House, made compulsory what was a voluntary and, on the evidence, a permanent exile. To say that he was going to make himself the subject of a neighbouring Chief is very good evidence that the voluntary exile was permanent. This "public declaration." which was issued in July, 1949, by Tshekedi, is very significant in this connection. I would like to read part of it to the House. He said:It is our express purpose to avoid a division in the tribe and as proof of our intentions, in spite of the fact that a substantial number of people, including men of our rank and status, is leaving the Bamangwato country with us, we have not worried the Government to allow us to settle on Crown land or to find us land in the Bamangwato country as has been done in past tribal disputes.He also said:In olden times there would be civil war amongst our tribe today.Finally, he said:We feel it will be in the interests of the tribe for us to remove ourselves to another area.That was two years ago. Today, of course, we are told a very different story of what would be the results of Tshekedi's return to the tribe. We surely cannot ignore the evidence given by Tshekedi, set out in the public declaration of two years ago, about the consequences in the tribe of his presence there. Two years ago he said he would not ask for land in the Bamangwato Reserve and that he would remove himself in order to avoid a state of tension which he himself described, two years ago, as bordering on civil war.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I think it is against the views which he now expresses. Things have changed since July, 1949. One of the most important changes is that tribal temper against Tshekedi has grown more bitter and explicit. It has been said in a number of statements, some in writing, that it is largely because Tshekedi has had this liberty, or relative liberty, of entry. as shown, for example, when he turned up in Serowe. The immediate reaction was that he be excluded and a threat of non-co-operation if he was not at once excluded. If in July, 1949, on Tshekedi's own admission, 1220 there was a danger of civil strife and if the only remedy, again on Tshekedi's own admission, was to withdraw himself from the tribe, all the evidence from the tribe today shows that there is greater danger of civil strife and, therefore, greater need for the same remedy.
The great difference is that in July, 1949, Tshekedi both accepted and proclaimed that he was then prepared—and it was much to his credit—to submit his private interest to the public good and to the unity of the tribe. He said, in so many words, that that was the reason why he was going into exile to set himself up with the neighbouring chief. Today, his claims are different. Tshekedi, I would point out to the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, has very much confirmed that his voluntary exile was a complete severance from the Bamangwato people, because he has become a full member of the neighbouring tribe. There is also no doubt that, according to native law and custom, he established his full membership of the neighbouring tribe before the exclusion order was issued.
In October, 1949, Tshekedi went out of his way to sign and to file a document—nobody ask him to do it. He went out of his way to do it—for public record. in which he said:I have now been accepted by the Bakwena as a member of that tribe.One of the claims of the Bamangwato people is that Tshekedi is, therefore, no longer one of them. He has gone into voluntary exile, has proclaimed his intention to become a subject of the neighbouring chief and has published and signed a document saying that he has been accepted, and is a member of that tribe.
§ Mr. C. Davies
The right hon. Gentleman heard me say, on behalf of Tshekedi, that this temporary withdrawal from the tribe and joining another one is not unusual. Does the right hon. Gentleman know that when Tshekedi went to the neighbouring tribe the chief called his people and said: "This man has come here for our protection. Do we agree that we protect him?" That is all that has happened.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
It is not all that has happened. Besides that, there is the statement that Tshekedi was to become 1221 a subject of the neighbouring chief and the statement which I have read out that he had been accepted by the Bakwena as a member of their tribe.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
if it was confirmed that the acceptance was complete and the right hon. Gentleman knew of it before the order exiling Tshekedi was made, why was the order made?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I am coming in a minute to the sort of parallel action of the exclusion order and native law and custom in this matter, and I would be grateful if I might develop my argument. The Bamangwato tribe have the right to their own views on native law and custom. In July, 1950, nine headmen went to the District Commissioner and told him that in their view the fact that Tshekedi had gone over to the Bakwena tribe meant that he had forfeited the right to discuss Bamangwato affairs.
When he was the Regent, Tshekedi had very clear views as to the consequences of voluntary exile and leaving the tribe to seek protection with another chief. He held that, under native law and custom. if a person went into voluntary exile in this way and joined another tribe, all his private property left behind was forfeit. This view was held by Tshekedi in 1947, just about four years ago, when a number of people left the tribe and went to Southern Rhodesia. He held that the property left behind was forfeit, and he argued that in the first place the property should go to him in his capacity as native authority. In the end, that property was put on deposit. The essential point is that all property left behind by people who went into voluntary exile in 1947. as Tshekedi left his property behind when he went into exile two years later, was to be forfeit. Nobody has held against Tshekedi this doctrine that he enforced when he was himself in power.
It is, at the least, very doubtful, in native law and custom, whether Tshekedi has not so completely severed his connection with the Bamangwato people that he has forfeited, according to native law and custom, the right to reside and move at will in the Reserve without the permission of the tribe. It is true that under native law and custom it is always possible for someone who has gone into voluntary exile to reverse it, come back and submit himself to the tribe, apologise, 1222 and publicly ask to be taken back. This is said to be a perfectly regular way of doing it, to submit himself to the tribe, apologise and ask to be taken back. Of course, Tshekedi can do that any time he wishes. If he submits himself to the tribe—that has not been done—it is then for the tribe to decide whether someone who has gone into voluntary exile shall be taken back. A person who goes into voluntary exile cannot himself decide whether it shall be temporary or not. If he goes into voluntary exile he then has to submit himself to the tribe if he wants to return, and the tribe alone has to decide whether he can come back.
It has been said a great many times that all Tshekedi Khama wants is to live in his own country. There is now a doubt which, under native law and custom, is his own country, whether it is the Bakwena, to which he attached himself and to whose chief he is subject and by whom he has been accepted as a full member, or whether it is the Bamangwato, and whether to establish his right, under native law and custom, to go back to the Bamangwato territory—there is doubt on this matter—he does not have to submit himself in the ordinary way to the Bamangwato people, and ask for their forgiveness and to be re-admitted into the tribe. I say that his own voluntary withdrawal to avoid what he described two years ago as a state bordering on civil war and great dissention, and his setting up membership of another tribe is additional evidence which supports the views of the tribe which I have given.
Another of Tshekedi Khama's actions must seem to the tribe—and we have to look all the time at the reactions of the tribe—to confirm their fears. When he-was talking with me, Tshekedi Khama both in discussion and in written memoranda which he left with me, put forward for my consideration two proposals. One was to federate the Bamangwato with the neighbouring Bakwena, where he resides, and where he has great influence. The other was to split the Bamangwato into two so that he could return to the southern part.
I have said that it is not for me to decide or even to know all the motives of the tribe's views or to decide whether those views are right. My duty is to establish what the views of the tribe are 1223 and put them before the House. But it is difficult to blame the tribe if they put proposals of that kind—the splitting of the tribe in particular—against Tshekedi Khama's renunciation of the chieftainship and of any desire to come back to power. It is difficult to blame them if they fear that his intention is to come back to power if he has that sort of idea in his mind.
Doubts have been cast on the genuineness of the tribe's views. It has been said that the Kgotla that I attended was stage-managed. It is said that the views it expressed were put into its mouth by the District Commissioner. I think that is very unjustified. Attacks have been made on this District Commissioner, who, being a civil servant, cannot reply for himself. Therefore. I ought to say a word in his defence—[Interruption.]I will come to the letter in a moment. Other charges have been made against the District Commissioner. He is a colonial civil servant of long standing who has served in various places including the Solomon Islands. He speaks the Sechuna language very well, and he is a very able and successful administrator.
When this trouble first started it is known that his views were favourable to Tshekedi. On his return and reappointment to his present post in the Bamangwato Reserve Tshekedi Khama expressed to the High Commissioner his gratification that this man had been reappointed to the post. Three charges have been made, two of them in the House, about the Kgotla I attended. It was said that it was rigged by the Sekgoma faction, which is in rivalry, as happens in these tribes, with the Khama faction. That was certainly one element in the situation.
There are these dissensions and disputes which have their effect on these tribes, particularly on this one. There are many other elements of tension in this tribe; and there were many other elements besides that faction present and taking an active part in the Kgotla. In particular, there were chosen speakers from each of the eight or nine—I believe it was eight —allied tribes who spoke, not Sekgoma people at all, and not previously within the administration of the tribe. As I say, eight spokesmen of the allied tribes, who have nothing to do with, and are not 1224 related in any way to the Sekgoma nor under their influence, spoke at this Kgotla.
Both the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire have raised questions about the letter that the District Commissioner wrote, containing, it is said, instructions and dictatng the views of the tribe. I have not long since seen this letter and have made very careful inquiries into it. The position is that the District Commissioner is at the moment the native authority. We have direct rule in this tribe until we can get a new African Native Authority. He has to attend meetings of leaders as the Native Authority. It is his duty to do so, particularly when meetings like an important and decisive Kgotla are being held.
In his letter he recorded the decisions that were reached by the leaders. The letter was read to the House by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It starts off "for record purposes." It does not contain any dictation to the leaders, it contains a record of their own decisions on such matters as chosen speakers. That does not mean that they were speakers chosen by him or, indeed, by these other leaders. In this case he is referring to speakers chosen by the allied tribes to speak for them—[Interruption.] Even in this House it is sometimes known who is to speak and in what order.
§ Mr. C. Davies
But they must confine themselves to these four points—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—I have a conscience.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I agree that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has every right to say that he does not agree with the decisions reached by the leaders, but the decision that they must keep to these four points was that of the leaders which was recorded by the District Commissioner. It is entirely wrong and extremely unfair to reach the worst conclusions and put the worst construction on what was done by a very able civil servant. It is possible to put a true interpretation on this letter, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made no attempt to do. He went out of his way to put the worst possible interpretation on it. In any case the letter needs to be—
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
The right hon. and learned Gentleman read the letter with a good many comments.
Another charge has been made, and although it has not so far been mentioned in the debate it is bound to occur so I may as well deal with it now. It is said Tshekedi Khama's followers were excluded from this Kgotla and, therefore, it was not a fair and proper Kgotla. There are—it is important to follow this if one wishes to understand this matter—two sets of followers of Tshekedi. One set, who are in the tribal area of the Bamangwato, are fully entitled to attend the Kgotla, and no hindrance of any sort was put in their way. They had every right to attend the Kgotla and so far as I know they did so.
There are also followers of Tshekedi who went into voluntary exile with him into Rametsana. I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that no order or threat of exclusion was made against any of these other followers; I do not know whence he got his information on that point. Those who have gone into voluntary exile to Rametsana with Tshekedi have, like him, severed their connection under tribal law and custom, with the original tribe, and it is at least very doubtful whether they have the right to attend a Kgotla of the Bamangwato.
This matter might have been considered. It was known for weeks that my Kgotla was to be held. Had they wished to attend it would have been possible to raise the matter so that the tribe could be consulted on a matter of native law and custom. As a matter of fact, the request came by telegram 24 hours before the Kgotla was due to be held. There was no time whatever to discuss this complicated matter of tribal law and custom with the tribe, and there was also at that point a danger of disorder. If a lot of people, perhaps 100 of Tshekedi's followers, with doubtful rights to attend which had never been looked at, had suddenly turned up in the very height of a Kgotla of several thousand people, there might have been disorder, and there was no opportunity of collecting extra police at 24 hours' notice.
So, for these excellent reasons—because of doubt whether they were 1226 entitled to attend and the danger of disorder—their request was turned down. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the request was put forward at the last moment—when there were weeks during which it could have been put forward—in such a way as to court a turning down. I can assure the House that the only people who were prevented in any way from coming to that Kgotla were the Rametsana followers of Tshekedi and not those who were in the tribe and had every right to attend the Kgotla.
Because I knew that Tshekedi and his Rametsana followers had severed their connection with the tribe and were living in the Bekwena tribe, I made arrangements to meet him and his followers, and I did so at Mafeking and had a long talk with them. And, of course, also because they were members of the neighbouring tribe, they attended the Bekwena Kgotla at which I was present, so they were represented twice over. There was no question of their case not being put. I must really put it to the House—everybody who knows about this must know that it is impossible for a European officer to stage a Kgotla of 10,000 people and to put words into their mouths. It cannot be done.
The story is now being put about that the leading people of this tribe are weak and pliable; that they will do anything anyone tells them, that a European officer tells them. But it must be remembered that these men boycotted the Kgotla nearly two years ago which we wanted to meet. We did on that occasion use our influence, but the Kgotla was totally boycotted. It will be within the recollection of the House. They also conducted, I am sorry to say, a pretty succesful non-co-operation campaign against us soon after the time of Seretse's marriage. They refused to attend Government meetings, they refused to obey veterinary orders—which is a serious thing because foot and mouth disease is connected with that—and they succeeded, to a large extent, in not paying taxes.
On top of boycotting the Kgotla, on top of the non-co-operation campaign,. these people then staged a record Kgotla. Whatever anyone may say about it, there has never been so big a Kgotla held in this tribe. All these things have been done by people who, I am told, are 1227 pliable, stupid, weak people and whose views we are told we must ignore. I say that with people who can do this sort of thing, who show their determination, who show that they have practically unanimous support behind them in the tribe, it would be very foolish if we were high-handedly to ignore all those feelings and facts and just thrust our views upon them against their own views.
There is, therefore, on all the evidence a grave danger of disorder in the tribe if Tshekedi is forced back against the will of the people. And I need not remind the House that the danger of disorder is particularly grave in these territories which exist in the middle of another country. Disorder in territories there, with this peculiar geographical and political situation, is more serious than disorder in other Colonial Territories.
Therefore, we have to take more seriously, I urge upon the House, and not less seriously than we otherwise would, threats of disorder and evidence that disorder will follow if a certain line of action is taken. I urge the House to remember that if any action taken here does lead to disorders—and there is a great deal of evidence that it might if it were taken—there are graver consequences to disorder in this case than there would be in other parts of the Colonial Empire.
A great deal of the case I have put so far rests upon the evidence of the views of the tribe. I have read them out, I have put them before the House, I have no doubt myself that they truly and accurately reflect the views of the tribe. I say that if the views of the tribe are like that, if they are saying that there will be disorder and non-co-operation—if that is so, then there is a powerful case for the line of action that the Government have taken.
I have no doubt myself, after going into it with great care, and after the tremendous inquiry we have made into it, that those are the views of the tribe and that those would be the consequences. But, clearly, there is some doubt in the House whether these are, in fact, the views of the tribe. The Government are prepared to invite the tribe to hold one more Kgotla as soon as possible to determine whether or not it wants Tshekedi Khama back. This is the real crux of 1228 the case, whether or not the views of the tribe are as I have put them before the House and as the Government accept them to be. It is very important that this action should be taken quickly. I urge upon the House the grave dangers of endless delay. The tribe is very disquieted by the endless delay that is going on, and if we go on with it we shall have difficult administrative problems to meet.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I should be grateful if I might finish my point.
The Government are also willing, if the House wishes, that two Members of Parliament should attend the Kgotla as observers, one from each side of the House, to see that the Kgotla is correctly reported. There are some doubts under native law and custom of Tshekedi's rights to attend such a Kgotla. I say that the exclusion order will not operate as a bar to his attending. After all, that is all the Government can do in this matter. I would go further and say that I personally think it would be right that he should attend. But it is not for me and, I suggest, neither is it for the House, with propriety, to over-ride high-handedly native law and custom and the regular and normal way of doing these things. We must pay some attention to that.
It is certainly in accord with the rights of the tribe under native law and custom to decide whether a man who has left the tribe and now joined another can return. I urge upon the House the great danger of trampling upon the traditional and accepted rights under native law and custom. Apart from the question of disorder, there is a further consideration which has great weight with the Government and. I hope, will be seriously considered by the House.
We have to build a more representative and a fully African Native Authority in this tribe. There is a misconception, that has been sedulously spread about. that Tshekedi Khama was deliberately excluded so that we could establish direct rule. That has been said in many newspapers. For example, one went so far as to say that the establishment of direct rule is an experiment that has failed. This is totally untrue and typical of some of the quite irresponsible things that have been said in the course of this controversy.
1229 Our policy in all the three territories shows that the last thing we want is to introduce direct rule in place of indirect rule. Our whole policy is based upon indirect rule through the chiefs aided by the councils. In the Bamangwato Reserve, we had, unfortunately, to introduce direct rule at the time of the original trouble. We want to get rid of it as quickly as we can. We want to establish a fully African Native Authority and this is one of the reasons for our decision about Tshekedi. One of the reasons why there has been delay in setting up this African Native Authority has undoubtedly been the uncertainty in the mind of the tribe about the future of Tshekedi and whether or not he is coming back to them.
There is a special need in the case of the Bamangwato. There are 20,000 Bamangwato and they have up to now monopolised the rule of the Reserve. There are 80,000 people in allied tribes who, practically speaking, have been excluded from a share in their own administration. This can certainly lead to tension. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire mentioned the example of 1947 when one of those tribes took flight and settled in Southern Rhodesia. I do not know whether it was right or wrong, but it felt that its rights were not properly looked after. These tensions can arise again, and it is important that we have a fully representative African Native Authority to include all these tribes and people.
The Bamangwato people have made two things clear in this connection. First, they have made it clear that if Tshekedi returns there will be non-co-operation. That has been made clear in a number of Kgotlas and meetings of the head men and the District Commissioner. If there is non-co-operation it is totally impossible to build an African Native Authority. If there is non-co-operation we shall not get away from direct rule. If they say, "If Tshekedi comes back we will not cooperate," if we then send Tshekedi back and they do not co-operate, it is the people who send them back who will be responsible for the continuation of direct rule. It will then be just words if they say that they are against direct rule and in favour of indirect rule.
At the same time the tribe has made it clear that if Tshekedi does not return, 1230 they will co-operate in the setting up of councils. At the Kgotla I attended—in which, of course, they begged me not to let Tshekedi come back—on the assumption that he was not coming back, they said:We have accepted in principle, Sir, the establishment of a Council to improve our system of administration and we shall look to Government for direction and guidance.Our intention in this matter, which we are explaining with great care and patience to the Africans, is to set up a system of local councils under what are called chiefs' representatives from which these local councils will then send delegates to the Central Council. As anyone knows who has had anything to do with this, it is always slow work to persuade Africans in these sorts of conditions to accept a council system. But it is not true that no progress has been made. Three chiefs' representatives have now been established in consultation with the leaders of the tribe and I hope that steady progress will now be made in the setting up of a system which will represent all the tribes in this area and will give us an authority to which we can hand over all the powers which are appropriate to an African Native Authority.
I should tell the House—and, incidentally, this is to the credit of the District Commissioner, who has been mentioned and who has been somewhat maligned—that the relations between the people and the administration at the moment are very good indeed and better than they have been for many years. It is not true, therefore, that we are doing things which are not acceptable, that we are falsifying what the tribe want and putting things into their mouths, because there is a great deal of evidence of the happiness of the tribe and of their co-operation with the administration. The tax collection has this year reached a record. [Laughter.] They are, of course, in one way fortunate; they do not have to have all-night Sittings before imposing the taxes. The rate of tax collection, which turns a great deal on co-operation, is a very good indication of the attitude to the administration. Tax collection is a record this year.
The meetings with the government which not so long ago were being successfully boycotted, are now better than they have been for many years—better than before all these troubles started. There is another indication which is significant 1231 and which will be recognised as such by those who understand these things, that this year one thousand head of cattle have been contributed voluntarily to the fund to pay for the school which the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned. Of course, any voluntary provision of head of cattle for that sort of thing is a very good indication indeed of the happiness and co-operation of the tribe. As I say—and I should like to repeat it—this good record of administration is to the credit of the District Commissioner.
This state of affairs in the administration augurs very well for the successful setting up of the council and, therefore, for getting rid of direct rule as quickly as possible, but there is no doubt that if Tshekedi went back we should not only not make further progress in this direction but should lose the progress which we have made and risk destroying these excellent relations, risk finding non-cooperation in place of these good relations. We should risk, too, finding ourselves landed with direct rule for a very long time to come.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
Before my right hon. Friend proceeds with this part of his speech, may I say that it appears to be in contradiction to some extent with the offer which he has already made? I should have thought it would be most unfortunate if a statement of the Minister responsible for Commonwealth Relations went out to the effect that he suggests that the Kgotla should be called together but that he himself considers that the return of Tshekedi would have the effect of dichotomy on the policy now being pursued.
Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to explain the offer which he has made? First of all, would he be good enough to take into consideration that perhaps three Members and not two should go? In the second place, would he allow a decent interval to elapse between their arrival in the country and the holding of the Kgotla so as to get rid of the suspicion that may arise that the atmosphere and climate of opinion were prepared beforehand by tendentious propaganda?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I cannot accept the charges that British administration in this area is tendentious, malicious, and So on.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. I misunderstood him. I may say, however, that that sort of charge which I was attacking has been very loosely thrown about in many places. I quite agree that my right hon. Friend did not make it and I beg his pardon. Whether two Members should go or three Members is one of the things which could be discussed through the usual channels. The question of the time interval is a different matter.
Just before I came to the House I received a telegram which perhaps I should read to right hon. and hon. Members, because the situation is very difficult and there is a state of great tension in this tribe. If we are to keep them in doubt and uncertainty in this matter, we shall have to answer for any consequences that follow. This telegram reached me just as I came to the House:Wireless and Press news"—that is, of the debate and the Motion which was put down—is causing apprehension in Serowe owing to fear of Tshekedi's return and tribe have asked to meet District Commissioner and say if this happens"—that is, if he returns"—the tribe will scatter.Scattering is a thing which was used in the days when these tribes used to attack one another. When the Matabele attacked this tribe they used to scatter and this is an instinctive—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who sent the telegram?"] The telegram has come from our office in Capetown. It is from the Resident Commissioner and it says that the tribe have said this—it is not what my office have been saying. The tribe have asked to meet the District Commissioner and say that if this happens the tribe will scatter.
§ Mr. Braine (Billericay)
The right hon. Gentleman is using the term "the tribe" 1233 loosely. Can he say who is the tribe? How is the authentic voice of the tribe made to be heard?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
In this case, although I have not the evidence—this particular telegram is a very urgent and brief one—I have no doubt that these are the leaders in Serowe. Serowe has a population of 30,000, which is about a third of the total population of the country. It is a very decisive place and always, like Paris in France, has dominated this tribal area. If the population of Serowe scatter that is a scattering of the tribe, that is a third of the tribe leaving the capital and disappearing into the countryside. I beg the House not to take these sort of things lightly. I beg them at least to regard the possibility that these things might happen through actions they are going to take because they would be very serious and grave actions.
To come to the point raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it is, of course, necessary that we should balance the two things together. Perhaps they do not understand very well and they are very perturbed from the evidence and if there is further unnecessary delay in getting them to repeat views, if that is what they are going to do, which they have already given, or to be given an opportunity to deny them, I am worried what the result will be in this situation.
I think, therefore, it is necessary that the Kgotla should be called together as quickly as is reasonably possible. The normal notice for calling a Kgotla together is something like 10 days or two weeks. That is the normal time for a big Kgotla, a Kgotla which has to be brought in by lorries from outlying parts. This is a matter which can be considered, but it would be stupid to ignore the need for speed and to run the risk—
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I will certainly make sure that it is a reasonable time, but we have to bear this other consideration in mind.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I said that I was not quite sure whether, under native rule and custom, Tshekedi had a complete right, but as far as we were concerned the exclusion order would not stand in his way and we would remove any obstacle in his way. But I certainly thing it right that he should be there, although it is not for me to decide this matter. The tribe must judge in its appropriate way. Therefore, I cannot answer that question until we know something about the attitude of the tribe on this matter.
If I might now come back to the main theme of my argument, it has been said that we ought to allow Tshekedi to go back in a private capacity. It is not possible to distinguish—particularly in the case of a great man like this—between his private capacity and his public capacity. If it were possible, and I wish it were, none of these problems would arise—if it were possible to distinguish in the eyes of the Bamangwato Tribe between private and public capacity. But I submit that it is quite impossible to draw this distinction between private and public capacity and there is much evidence to bear this out.
The tribe itself have frequently said they would not recognise, for example, a reconciliation between Tshekedi and Seretse under which both might return in a private capacity. In February, 1951, nine headmen went to the District Commissioner and said that they would not recognise any agreement between Tshekedi and Seretse or any arrangements for their return as private persons. If they will not recognise the return of both it would be quite impossible to expect them to agree to the return of Tshekedi when Seretse leaves.
In May, 1951, at the Kgotla when the Resident Commissioner announced Tshekedi's decision, the speaker said:We reject in advance any reconciliation between Tshekedi and Seretse.There is also the evidence of Tshekedi's own actions and I want to make it clear that in bringing in the question of Tshekedi's exile and acts of banishment I was not seeking in any way to attack Tshekedi. It would be totally illogical in defending a banishment to say that he was wrong. All I have done it for is to show that when in authority he found it impossible to make a decision between private and public capacity.
1235 There is also the question—the vexed question, the right hon. and learned Gentleman called it—of the powers to banish and I am hoping to extend the inquiry the Colonial Secretary is undertaking and to see if it is possible to have a wider inquiry into the use of these powers. I would certainly widen it to these three High Commission Territories with their special problem, although I noticed that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire was in favour of rustication, which applies in the case of Tshekedi, and against exile in the case of Seretse.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I agree. I was not saying that it was wrong. The exilings, although at the instance of Tshekedi, were done by the High Commissioner and all the political parties. But these banishments were done at the instance of Tshekedi and show that it is sometimes necessary—and at quite recent dates—to exile a person just because a distinction cannot be drawn between public and private capacity. Tshekedi himself, by his own action, has given conclusive proof that that is true.
In 1926 four people were exiled at Tshekedi's instance who disputed his right to be the Regent. They committed no crime, there was no trial or formal inquiry and the exile was confirmed by the then Secretary of State, Mr. Amery. In 1931 an agitator, who was causing a great deal of agitation and trouble against Tshekedi, was exiled at his instance and again there was no trial and no form of inquiry. There was an appeal made by the man to the High Commissioner who told him that exile was no punishment and residence in the tribe would probably cause trouble and the exile was maintained. That was confirmed in 1931 by the then Secretary of State, Mr. Thomas. In 1937 Tshekedi's ex-wife and two others were exiled and, shortly after, three more persons who were the focus of intrigue, and that feeling in the tribe was very strong was the reason given then. That was confirmed in June, 1938, by the Secretary of State, who was then Lord Stanley.
In 1945, there was a rather complicated dispute with one of the clans of an allied tribe and in this case Tshekedi 1236 issued an order of banishment against the headman on his own authority under Section 11 of the Native Administration Proclamation, No. 32, of 1943, giving as his grounds that it was in the interests of the tribe to remove the man to Serowe. There happened then to be a riot and an administrative inquiry was held by two administrative officers very much the same as the inquiry we are holding. This recommended the banishment of 35. Tshekedi recommended not 35, but 98, should be exiled and expressed himself as dissatisfied with the leniency of the Government. He said:The rights of Mswazi have been over-emphasised, I fear, to the detriment of public peace. Their individual liberties may well result in chaos and anarchy.That was in 1945, five years ago. It was held that some of these men had committed no crime at all, seven of them were exiled because they were merely senior to the new headman appointed. This was confirmed in 1945 by the then Secretary of State, Lord Addison.
Therefore, we have had to try to balance this public and private interest and conflict. I submit that there is overwhelming evidence of the public interest here. There is a danger of disorder and a failure to set up an African Native Authority if Tshekedi goes back. On the other hand, there are Tshekedi's very large property interests in cattle. Whether or not he is entitled under native law and custom to reside in the Bamangwato, he certainly had very large numbers of cattle there.
The Government gave very careful and anxious thought to this problem, which is not an easy one to solve, and they authorised me to make an offer to Tshekedi which would enable him to some extent to look after his interest. The offer was that, first of all, he should have limited access to his cattle posts. In reply to a question which I was asked, the reason why the offer is not so full as last year is that evidence has steadily accumulated that his relatively free presence in the tribe has led to greater and greater complaints and threats by the tribe. That has been the cause of the trouble and of the rising temper of the tribe.
Then I offered to open, at Government expense, the large area in the south. I should point out that it was never a part 1237 of my suggestion that the cattle should be moved from the north. We felt that the cattle should be left in the north, and I offered Tshekedi access to the north under limited conditions, such as that the cattle should be moved from the middle part. One of the difficulties is that Tshekedi has very large cattle posts within 30 miles of Serowe and very near the area where his enemies are certainly very strong.
I was urged by the tribe not to do the two things that I offered to Tshekedi. They said when I offered him limited access to look after his cattle, "We do not want his livestock and other things." They said that at the Kgotla, and they asked that he should be requested to remove all of them in the shortest possible time. As regards concentration in the area in the south, they said, "We have reason to believe that Tshekedi is planning to secure for himself and his followers a portion of this reserve and we seek an assurance from our Government that there is no intention of allowing him to do so."
I went against the express wishes of the tribe in this matter. I felt that they should make some concession to Tshekedi's private rights and I also felt that some conditions should be imposed if there was not to be disorder and non-co-operation. As it was, I was prepared to urge some reason for these things happening. That is why I made the conditions that there should be entry for a limited period, that Tshekedi should be accompanied by a Government officer and that he should not enter into political activity. Tshekedi Khama totally rejected the offer, as was his right; the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire has said that he would be prepared to accept some other arrangement.
I certainly got no authority to speak on behalf of Tshekedi Khama. I said that at some stage during the negotiations he was prepared to negotiate along those lines.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, although I understand that it has been said in some quarters. The only information I can give about that is a letter from Tshekedi Khama totally rejecting the offer and saying, as he is entitled to say, that he must 1238 have unlimited right to go into the tribe and that he will certainly exercise his political rights, and so on. The Government felt that we had no choice in these circumstances but to re-affirm the policy in the White Paper.
I would draw to the attention of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire the fact that the White Paper gave reasons why both Seretse and Tshekedi must be excluded from the Reserve for a time, the interests of order and constitutional advance being said to depend on the exclusion of both of them. It is not a new decision that the Government have reached today but a re-affirmation of a decision reached a year ago. What we are now debating is what was done a year ago and was published in a White Paper and was known to the whole world. We are now debating the same policy that was laid down a year ago.
I now come to a matter to which we attach very great importance, namely, the effect of all this on African opinion in Africa. It is a very serious and very grave aspect of the problem. It seems that there is a distinction to be drawn here between the opinion of responsible Africans near the scene who know what is going on and what is at stake and Africans who live further afield and are, I presume, to a large extent drawing their views about this from what is written and published in this country. I hope that Africans further afield will learn as a result of the debate what are the views of responsible Africans near at hand who really know the conditions and circumstances, know how the minds of the people concerned work and know how they re-act to things done to them from outside, even by the House of Commons in its sovereignty
I have dealt with the views of the Bamangwato, who are most closely concerned. I have also consulted, and officials have talked with, other chiefs in the Bechuanaland Protectorate who are the nearest neighbours to the Bamangwato. One of them told the Resident Commissioner that he had no doubt that we had. to stick to the White Paper, that Tshekedi's reception in the tribe would he hostile and that if we went back on our decision it would leave the tribe bewildered and distrustful of government for many years.
1239 The same argument applies to the suggestion about holding a full inquiry. It would leave the people bewildered and distrustful of government, especially after we have announced the decision and the Kgotla has welcomed it. To go back on it either directly or by having an inquiry into the whole matter again would, in the words of the Chief, leave the tribe bewildered and distrustful of government for many years. I beg the House to be careful before it does that sort of thing.
Another chief gave the simple view that, if he were the Secretary of State, he would banish Tshekedi from the Protectorate altogether. Perhaps it is as well for him that he is not. Other chiefs representing a substantial majority of the people of the Reserve have made the same remarks. In the presence of her advisers and in public, the Paramount Chietainess of Basutoland made the following statement—this is the Paramount Chieftainess of Basutoland, a neighbouring similar area, the people of which are very much concerned arid are very well informed about these matters:We are gravely concerned about the marriage of an African chief to a white woman, which we consider disastrous to the purity of African tribes. We have expressed a wish for legislation to prevent such marriages. We consider that the Bamangwato should refuse to accept Ruth, and if Seretse does not agree he should he required to abdicate.[An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I do not know why a right hon. Gentleman opposite should have that to say.
The statement went on:Meantime, Seretse should be excluded from the Reserve and Tshekedi also so long as Seretse is not allowed in.That is all part of a connected view, the beginning of which a right hon. Gentleman opposite was cheering.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
What was the date of the statement and how was it obtained?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
The statement was made a few days ago to our officials by the Paramount Chieftainess in council, in the presence of her advisers. It is a perfectly proper and normal way of making a serious and considered statement. These views have often been expressed before by the the Paramount 1240 Chieftainess of Basutoland. The Paramount Chief of Swaziland, Sobhuza, a very able man, has expressed identical views. These are considered, weighty views which the House ought not to ignore. They are given by Africans in a very formal way and they should be taken seriously into account by hon. Gentlemen who, quite rightly, say that African opinion in this matter is very important. We should not lightly ignore the opinion of Africans who really know the conditions and the probable reactions of the people.
I realise that very deep feelings and emotions have been aroused about the matter. I should like to ask my hon. Friends why this Government, with its magnificent record in Commonwealth and Colonial affairs, should lightheartedly—[Interruption.] This is a very serious matter and I have tried not to make any party point in it. I am merely addressing a few words to my hon. Friends, and I ask them why this Government, with its magnificent record in Commonwealth and Colonial affairs, should lightheartedly or high-handedly take an oppressive or unnecessary decision and one which is clearly bound to be open to misunderstanding and misconceptions. Why should we do that in a casual or highhanded or malicious way? This has not been a hasty, ill-considered or unconsidered action. It has been most carefully weighed by the Government at all stages. It is, in the view of the Government, without question in the interests of the people.
But we have now to decide on the Motion before the House which demands, or which says, Tshekedi must be returned forthwith to the tribe. If it were carried, this Motion would mean that the House was acting against the overwhelming views of the people concerned. It would mean that we were violating established native law and custom. It would mean that we were running the risk of disorder. It would certainly mean that we were perpetuating direct rule, because we would have open non-co-operation. It would be putting the interests of one man against the will, whether good or not, of the people. It would be a highhanded act that could have the gravest consequences.
I would remind the House of that telegram which has recently arrived indicat- 1241 ing the expression of fear of the tribe and that they would scatter if this Motion were passed. In effect, that is what they are saying.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
This is a very serious and important point. The right hon. Gentleman has repeatedly said "they." May I ask him, out of my ignorance and for my own information, if for the information of no one else, who is the spokesman of the Bamangwato Tribe? Who is "they?" May I have his name?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I have already answered this question. I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Gentleman was in the House a few minutes ago when I answered that identical question. I said that this is a very short and urgent telegram. I have not all the details, but I have no doubt, from previous experience, what it is. The nine chief headmen of Serowe have met the District Commissioner, which has happened often before, and they have in great agitation said to him that they have heard that this Motion. or whatever they would call it, was before the House, that Tshekedi might come back, and that if this does happen they will scatter. I have no doubt that that has been the point of the eight or nine of ten headmen who are the leading people in Serowe, which, I would remind hon. Gentlemen, is the capital of the place. There are 30,000 people living in it, which is a very high proportion of the population.
I say, therefore, that if this Motion were carried we would be in grave danger of a real abuse of the authority of this House. This House clearly has the authority, and is sovereign, and can say whatever it likes as to what should happen in this tribal area. But if we do it we will be flying in the face of these people and running very grave risks indeed. I beg hon. Members to consider this, not in any party way, but in accord with the responsibilities of the House. It would be a high-handed act and a real abuse of the House to do this.
If the Motion were rejected we would pay attention to the clear will of the people and we would be setting up the public will above the private interests of an individual, as Tshekedi Khama himself said sometimes ought to be done, and, as when he went into voluntary exile, he himself said he was then prepared to do.
1242 I confess that this is one of those unfortunate occasions when it is right that the public good and public will shall prevail over individual interests, however able and however powerful the individual might be.
I would repeat the suggestion I made, that I would invite the tribe—it is not for me to dictate to them—to have one more Kgotla to be held as soon as possible in a reasonable time to settle this issue, which is really at the bottom of the whole thing, as to what is their attitude to the return of Tshekedi; and that two, or three hon. Members of the House should go out as soon as possible and arrange to act as observers at that Kgotla. As I understand it, and as I suggest, their duty would be to make sure the Kgotla was properly held, and that the views expressed were the views reported to be expressed—
§ Mr. McAdden (Southend, East) rose—
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I have given way to everybody so far.
I would beg the House to take all this into account, and to reject this Motion. The passing of the Motion tonight might have very grave consequences. Even if one put it no higher, it would be a very grave thing indeed to do. I beg the House, in the light of what I have said previously, and my suggestion about a further Kgotla to be attended by some Members of Parliament from both sides of this House, to decide that we ought to reject the Motion.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
The right hon. Gentleman has gone a certain way in meeting the Motion moved by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), but I am bound to say that while it is for the right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved this Motion to decide what he will do later in the evening, the offer which the Secretary of State has made does not satisfy me in this very important matter.
When the right hon. Gentleman made his statement first in this House on 8th March, 1950, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) castigated the whole thing by saying that it was a very disreputable transaction. Despite what the right hon. Gentleman 1243 has said, I cannot feel that he has done a great deal to remove the strictures then applied by my right hon. Friend. The Secretary of State has made great play this afternoon with the fact that it is not for him to decide whether Tshekedi should go back to the Bamangwato Tribe or not.
The right hon. Gentleman has emphasised that it is for the tribe to decide and not for His Majesty's Government. That sounds a rather specious argument to me in view of the fact that on 8th March in his statement the right hon. Gentleman himself said:Whilst the chieftainship is in suspense, Tshekedi, whose regency will have to come to an end, will be required to reside outside the Bamangwato Reserve, and will not be allowed to enter the Reserve unless special permission should be given."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 287.]It seems to me that what he was stating on that occasion was the decision of the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of His Majesty's Government that Tshekedi was going to be banished during this period of five years. It seems strange that the right hon. Gentleman should now say that it is not for him, or the Government, or this House to decide, but that it is a matter for the tribe. Those things do not seem to tie up at all.
Then the right hon. Gentleman in the whole of his speech gave me the impression that he felt that he had made a wrong decision on 8th March, 1950, but that he really did not have the courage to say that he had done so. He spent a long time today overplaying his hand. As Shakespeare would say:… the lady doth protest too much.He emphasised that there was some doubt whether Tshekedi could return in view of the fact that he had gone to join the Bekwenas. That is a rather specious argument.
The right hon. Gentleman made great play about what Tshekedi had done in the past, but I think that I am right in saying that he had real cause to take the actions he took when he was Regent. There were definite crimes under tribal law—I use the word "crime" quickly, not thinking carefully. There were definite charges against the people whom he banished. There was evidence that he was justified during his Regency in banishing certain of these people.
1244 But there is no evidence that Tshekedi has done anything to justify his banishment. What astonishes me—and it is extraordinary—is that for 23 years he ruled that area with distinction and with success. Then we are led to believe that suddenly every one of the members of the tribe, in which I think there are 14 clans, have turned against Tshekedi and want nothing more to do with him. I must say that in the light of his previous record of 23 years' service, it is astonishing that this tremendous change should have taken place in the brief period of three years. I view that with the gravest and greatest suspicion.
Every right hon. and hon. Gentleman who knows Africa will agree that it is not at all difficult to change the opinions of the Africans when the majority of them rely on what they are told by their own chiefs. Even today, as we all know, the chiefs in almost every part of Africa have great power over their followers. I am not at all satisfied that this sweeping change against Tshekedi is really a genuine one. Before I conclude I shall, with great respect, suggest a course of action which I consider would be the fairest to all concerned, and particularly the fairest and most just way of dealing with this matter as far as it concerns Tshekedi Khama himself.
That is the issue. Was an injustice done to this man in March, 1950? I do not think there is any doubt, and I have no hesitation in saying that I think that there was a grave injustice done to him. What is the best way in which to overcome that injustice, not only in the eyes of this country but in the eyes of the people on the spot in the Bamangwato Reserve and throughout Africa.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I understand that the hon. Gentleman said that an injustice was done against Tshekedi a year or more ago. Did I gather that there was any protest against it at that time?
§ Mr. Craddock
My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford criticised the whole matter. I have quoted it once, but I will quote it again. He said:It is a very disreputable transaction."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 295.]
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I think it is true to say that the right hon. Gentleman was referring to Seretse and not to Tshekedi. I have read that passage very carefully
§ Mr. Craddock
I admit that it may be liable to that interpretation. Nevertheless, in my view and because of subsequent opportunities which I have had to learn to what my right hon. Friend was referring, I am satisfied that he was saying that the whole thing—whether Seretse or Tshekedi—deserved the epithet "disreputable transaction." I will not be drawn into the question of Seretse today. That is entirely another matter.
§ Mr. Craddock
I disagree. We are discussing a Motion about the banishment of a man who has committed no crime whatsoever.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton) rose—
§ Mr. Craddock
I cannot give way any more. I promised Mr. Deputy-Speaker that I should only speak for a short time. Many other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate, and I trust that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not object if I do not give way.
Again I refer to 8th March and the statement of the right hon. Gentleman when my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), asked under what statutory authority the right hon. Gentleman was acting. The reply was:… the Foreign Jurisdiction Act gives us complete control over the people who live in the Protectorate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1950; Vol. 472, c. 291.]I assume that the right hon. Gentleman was referring to the Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1890. That is the codification Act.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker indicated assent.
§ Mr. Craddock
I have read that Act most carefully, and the impression I have gained is that the whole tenor of that Act is to the effect that an Order in Council should only be made if there is some real justification for it. That may be a wrong interpretation in law. It may be that some of my more learned Friends will disagree with me. If I am wrong, and it means that, for no cause whatever, under that Act of 1890, His Majesty's Government have power to bring in an Order in 1246 Council for banishment, without any reason whatever, I suggest to this House that the sooner the Act is changed the better. I do not like it at all.
I should like to explain my approach to the whole problem. Having said that I am dissatisfied with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and in order to explain my approach to this problem, I should like to repeat what I said in this House a year ago when we debated the Report on the Colonial Territories for 1949. That was in June of last year. I mentioned to the House that if one went today to Tanganyika and talked to an African in that territory who has had experience of rule before 1914 under the Germans and asked him, "Would you rather be living under Bwana Bosch or under Bwana King George," that African would reply without hesitation, "Under Bwana King George."
If one said, "Yes, you are only being pleasant in telling me that," he would say, "No bwana. The reason why I say that is because Bwana King George" —that is the British people—" is fair and just." That is a great tribute to all the work we have done there. When I approach the action of His Majesty's Government in regard to Tshekedi Khama from the angle of whether they have acted in a fair and just manner, I must say that I cannot agree that they have.
What are we to do? The right hon. Gentleman has gone a certain way towards meeting the objection raised in this Motion, but I do not believe that his suggestion is the right one. I cannot believe that it is right that another Kgotla should be held very quickly after nearly three years of propaganda against Tshekedi. I think that would be most unwise and, even if every hon. Member of this House were at that Kgotla observing what was happening, I do not think that in the short time in which the right hon. Gentleman says the Kgotla should be called—10 or 14 days—we should get a fair decision.
All this propaganda against Tshekedi appears to be most suspicious. I emphasise that it has all sprung up in the last two or three years and it just does not ring true. It would not give complete satisfaction to this House, to the people of this country, to the Africans out there, and, above all, to the man who has been 1247 injured—Tshekedi Khama. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should accept the Motion moved by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), should take this banishment off Tshekedi and allow him to go back freely as quickly as he likes to the Reserve. I would give him three months, after which he might hold the Kgotla and decide, in the light of what is decided by that assembly, whether Tshekedi should be allowed to continue there or not.
I think that is a very fair approach, particularly to Tshekedi Khama himself. It does remove all suspicion that there has been this sort of propaganda over the past three years against him. I believe that that is a very reasonable solution to this very difficult problem. I appreciate that, when the right hon. Gentleman made the decision which he did make on 8th March, 1950, it required courage to do it, but I respectfully suggest that it requires greater courage to admit that he made a mistake and made a wrong decision, and to act in the light of the Motion which has been submitted this afternoon. There has not been much courage displayed by His Majesty's Ministers on great problems in the last four or five years, but here is a chance for the right hon. Gentleman.
I respectfully suggest that that is the line he should take, and that, in doing that, he will remove all suspicion of injustice or unfair play against Tshekedi. I believe that, by acting as I suggest, allowing Tshekedi to go back now and holding the Kgotla in three months, every African throughout the whole length and breadth of this Continent, and I know it fairly well, will again be quite satisfied that Bwana King George—the British people—still stands for fairness and justice.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget (Northampton)
This is a Motion set down by the Liberal Party, and it is not out of step with their general irresponsibility that they do not even take the trouble to have someone to man their benches. I can well understand this as a Liberal Motion. The Liberal Party have what they are pleased to call their principles—principles which are culled from an advanced democratic society, and 1248 which, for the last 200 years, they have wished to apply in inappropriate places throughout the word, thereby being an almost continuous nuisance.
Amongst these Liberal principles we have heard pretty often is the principle that the native is always right and that the British administrator or official is wrong, is oppressive, is corrupt and has a sinister motive. These principles, we can see, emerge constantly from behind this Motion today. But what in the world is the Conservative Party doing supporting the Motion? They have had the responsibilities of government, and we sometimes gather that they expect to have those responsibilities again. Of course, we know very well what they are doing. In fact, to try and get a political victory over the Government they are prepared to espouse any cause, however disreputable; but can they really sink to supporting this one?
I would ask the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) one or two serious questions. Has he anything against Sir Evelyn Baring? Does he doubt that Sir Evelyn Baring is a highly responsible, highly experienced, and, indeed, most progressive servant of the Government? Does he doubt that? If he had responsibility here, would he reject the advice of Sir Evelyn Baring? Does he presume that he knows more about these Reserves and Territories than Sir Evelyn Baring does? Does he imagine that he would get decent service from the Colonial servants throughout the Empire if he were to reject serious advice, such as that telegram, without a substantial reason? But it does not stop there. Has he anything against Mr. Germond, again a very experienced public servant? The Liberals certainly are prepared to put any twisted interpretation on anything that a public servant does. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to do that?
Again, let us look at the opinions of the tribes. We have the opinions of the tribes here expressed, as we have been told. We have the opinion of every neighbouring chief, whose advice coincides with that of Sir Evelyn Baring, and, over and above that, we have Tshekedi's own opinion. When he left this Territory, he said:In olden times, we would now be in civil war.1249 He knew very well that such was the state of the division in the tribe. He said:I am going, because otherwise the tribe will be divided.Is there the slightest evidence to show that the tribe would be united? All the evidence goes to show that there is further division among them. Is the Conservative Party seriously going to say, in the light of this united and unanimous advice from the men on the spot, that they, if they had responsibilities, would throw aside their servants—the men who will bear the brunt of the trouble if it comes?
Let us just turn to one other aspect of this matter which makes it unwise at present to reject the advice of the men who are there and who know what the situation is. If hon. Members opposite consider geography for a moment, and consider the position of these Protectorates, they will see that they are in the middle of another country—South Africa. It is quite impossible to administer these Protectorates without the co-operation of South African Government, unless some hon. Members are proposing to put on an air lift.
§ Mr. Paget
In those circumstances, is riot the possibility of maintaining these Protectorates, which is a pretty great responsibility to this nation, not inconsiderably hindered if the Government take it upon themselves, gratuitously and against the advice of every responsible person, to stir up trouble in the face of which—
§ Mr. Drayson
Would the hon. Member take the responsibility of handing over these Territories to South Africa?
§ Mr. Paget
I most certainly would not. The point I was making is that we have the responsibility to protect these natives. That is a responsibility we have taken on, and we are not protecting these natives if in defiance of advice we receive from every man on the spot we create a situation that is only too liable to invite trouble. This Motion is not merely a question of irresponsibility in neglecting 1250 all informed local advice, but in dealing here at Westminster with the tribal system of a fairly primitive community.
I do not pretend for one second, and I would not be fool enough to pretend, that I have understanding at all as to how this tribal system or any other tribal system works. All I claim is that it is a system different from that to which we are accustomed in an advanced democratic society. One cannot apply the' same reasoning in a primitive tribal society as one can apply in an experienced and evolved democracy. Whereas we think generally on the lines of logic, they think generally on the lines of fetish that is the method of thinking—the looking for the superstitious rather than the logical reason for the events. If one has known Africans at all one becomes accustomed to that sort of thinking. Again, what is justice within a tribal system is not necessarily justice to us. There are different conceptions of these things.
Here we have the best evidence of all on what this tribe think on this sort of question, and that is Tshekedi's own evidence and the evidence of his administration. It is the idea of justice in this tribe that those who will break it or who are thought to be likely to break it or disturb it must be banished or go into another tribe. The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. G. B. Craddock) said that when Tshekedi banished somebody he had committed a crime or an offence. I do not know what offence. It may be the offence in tribal eyes of being one of seven people senior to the man who was appointed head man. That is why Tshekedi banished seven people from this tribe. Banishment is not conceived as a crime or punishment. It is the custom of the tribe, and it is the tribe which decides who resides within its borders.
This tribe has decided Tshekedi shall not live within its borders. The tribe having decided, we are being asked irresponsibly to override that decision. If the Conservative Party had the responsibility they would not dream of doing such a thing. I give them that credit. That have had the responsibility of Empire, and their behaviour today in sponsoring this piece of nonsense on behalf of the Liberal Party is disreputable and shameful even for the conservative party.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
I cannot say that I agree with the conclusions of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), but I found the high Tory background and philosophy of his speech very encouraging. I hope that he will forgive me if I turn from his remarks to the arguments deployed by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. As I understood it, the most positive proposal which emerged from the Minister's speech was that of holding a fresh Kgotla in a short time at Serowe to reconsider the question whether Tshekedi should be allowed to return.
What the right hon. Gentleman gave with one hand he took away with the other. The whole of his speech was such an indictment, directly and indirectly, of Tshekedi that it must prejudice the decision that the Kgotla will reach. Indeed, I thought it rather striking that he did not reply to that point when it was raised by his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan). We were told about the proposal of Tshekedi to split the Bamangwato territory. That is not really very relevant to the subject we are discussing; but it must prejudice opinion when the Kgotla meets at Serowe. We are given a long list of earlier banishments undertaken at Tshekedi's orders, but that is not really very relevant to our discussions and again it must prejudice opinion at the Kgotla.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
Does the hon. Member suggest that those facts are not known already—about the exiles and so forth—to the tribe?
§ Mr. Amery
I am not suggesting that for a moment. What I am suggesting is that when the tribe learns the importance the Secretary of State attaches to those facts they will draw their own conclusions as to the attitude and wishes of His Majesty's Government.
Worse still, I have not the text on me but there has been an expression of opinion on the part of the Secretary of State—to which his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale drew attention—in which he said that in present circumstances he would regard Tshekedi's return as nothing less than disastrous. He has painted a picture of a man who in his opinion seems to have been a tyrant unworthy of the tributes paid by men as divers as General Smuts and the Reverend 1252 Michael Scott to the service he has given to his people over 25 years.
Then there is the question of the opinion of the tribe. The Secretary of State has told us—and I do not dispute it—that today it is the English Representative out there who is the native authority. But I think I am right in saying that there is also a kind of native authority represented by a Bamangwato leader named Keaboka. He is a nephew of Khama the Great, that is the son of a brother of Khama. His family have been strongly opposed to Khama's family and to Tshekedi, and possibly to some extent to Seretse. I may be wrong, but I think there is a definite impression in some quarters that the opinion of the tribe has been conveyed to His Majesty's Government by a source which in the very nature of things is prejudiced against Tshekedi.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
The District Commissioner is the native authority at the moment. He consults with leading people in Serowe, as is his duty, and amongst them is Keaboka. Keaboka has no special position. He is not recognised as Acting Chief or Deputy Chief or anything like that. He, amongst others, gives advice to the District Commissioner and there are others, not connected with Sekgoma, also among the leading people.
§ Mr. Amery
I realise he is not recognised as Deputy Chief, but I think I am right in saying that in the line of dynastic succession he would stand next after Tshekedi and Seretse and that as a result his influence among the people is very great. This would naturally tend, in a tribe more than in any other community, to colour their reactions and their feelings.
Then we have the question of the opinions expressed by other tribes. I understand from the reply which the right hon. Gentleman gave to an interjection from this side of the House that those opinions had been very recently expressed. Were they expressed in answer to an inquiry from His Majesty's Government? Did His Majesty's Government seek to learn the opinions of those tribes perhaps for this debate? Can the right hon. Gentleman answer that?
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
The views of these people have been known for some time. They have been expressed on various occasions. I asked the Resident 1253 Commissioner, I think it was, to inquire whether their views were the same as they have been in the past. That was a right and proper thing to do, because the views might have changed.
§ Mr. Amery
I quite appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's motives, but there is a tendency in dealing with people of all kinds and more particularly of this kind, to find that they say the things which please their inquirers.
Then we had the legalistic argument about whether Tshekedi's retirement to another tribe deprived him of Bamangwato membership. I do not know enough about native law and custom to be able to say whether a son of Khama the Great could cease to be a Bamangwato. What I say is that we did not hear anything about this argument last year when this matter came to a head, although Tshekedi had already been in retirement in the neighbouring tribe for some months. All this has been produced at the last minute. It is an argument we have never heard used before.
There were other remarks which the right hon. Gentleman made which struck me as a little disingenuous. At the beginning of his speech he said that so far it had not been possible to convince the tribe that it would be a good thing for Tshekedi to return. Has the right hon. Gentleman tried to convince the tribe? Have his agents in Serowe tried to persuade them that it would be a good thing? Why does he use this phrase, "It has not been possible to convince the tribe that it would be a good thing for Tshekedi to return"?
At the conclusion of his speech the right hon. Gentleman used an argument which I confess alarmed me. He said that a fresh inquiry would bewilder the tribe. It is not the first time that that argument has been used. It has been heard before. It was heard notably in the French Republic at the time of the Dreyfus case. When it was discovered that Dreyfus had been unjustly condemned and it was proposed that he should be liberated or that an inquiry could be instituted into the case, the argument opposed by those responsible at that time was that it would bewilder public opinion.
What is the truth behind all this? I am not convinced, and I do not think many hon. Members either on this side of 1254 the House or on the other side of the House are convinced, by the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman gave. What is the real truth—the real motive which has underlain the banishment of Tshekedi? I do not pretend to be able to tell the story in its entirety, but since the Government have refused to publish the report of the original inquiry perhaps I may be allowed to try to interpret the facts, in so far as I know them.
Going back to the past, I think there can be very little doubt in anyone's mind that the Government decided to banish Tshekedi's nephew, Seretse, because of his marriage to a European woman. They were anxious to avoid giving offence to South Africa and to Rhodesia. This afternoon we are not called upon to judge the propriety of that decision. They may have been right, they may have been wrong. But whether they were right or wrong, they certainly lacked the courage of their convictions. Instead of frankly stating the real reason for the banishment of Seretse the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to find an alternative explanation, and one more likely to be accepted by the House.
Accordingly, he seized upon the difference of opinion which existed between Seretse and Tshekedi and magnified it, puffed it up, until he could pretend that it threatened the unity and good order of the tribe. Then, to lend verisimilitude to this pretence, he banished not only Seretse but Tshekedi as well. This is not an occasion on which to deal with the wrong done to Seretse. It has been enough to say that the grounds on which he has been banished correspond neither to any ascertained facts nor to the motives which have guided the Secretary of State.
But what of the injustice suffered by Tshekedi? He was no party to the original cause of the crises—his nephew's marriage. In so far as he took up a position over it, his position corresponded with that of the right hon. Gentleman. At no time did his words or his actions exceed the bonds of constitutional propriety, even as it is understood in Bechuanaland. For all this he has been sacrificed. Sacrificed for what? To provide the right hon. Gentleman with an alibi against the charge that he was appeasing racial prejudices in South Africa.
1255 I recognise that when this crisis arose the Secretary of State was new to his great office. It was perhaps not unnatural that he should be influenced by the advice he received at the time, even if that advice was based on considerations of administrative convenience. A charge which he has repudiated—but which I should like to repeat and support was that made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd). Nearly 18 months have gone by since the original decision was made, and the right hon. Gentleman has had plenty of time to admit and to repair the wrong that was done to Tshekedi. Yet he seems determined to persist in his errors.
What is the real explanation? It has been suggested that Tshekedi is an overmighty subject, that he was something of an autocrat in the past and that if he were allowed to return to his tribal territory he might not long remain in private life. I do not know how far those suggestions are well-founded. I do not know what reasons the right hon. Gentleman has for dis-believing the word which has been given by Tshekedi. But even if it were true that Tshekedi might exercise political influence, is that to be accounted a crime against him?
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has shown very little inclination to remain in private life since the election of 1945, but I do not think even his most extreme critics on the other side of the House would regard either the extent of his personal influence or his unconcealed intention to lead his party back to power as a cause for banishment. There has been a lot of talk about introducing democracy into Bechuanaland. We had better begin by seeing that the rights of the individual are respected. This is the only real foundation of a free society.
It has been suggested that Tshekedi's return—and this was a point on which the Secretary of State dwelt most strongly—might create disorder in the tribe. I am not convinced by the evidence he has given. I have heard evidence from that part of the world, on very good authority, which suggests that neither the return of Tshekedi nor for that matter the return of Seretse would produce serious disturbances. Yet even if it were true, I wonder how much importance we should attach to that consideration. I ask the Secretary 1256 of State, "Are you going to commit injustice in the interests of maintaining order?" That is a doctrine which leads to very pernicious conclusions. It is a doctrine which would strike at the root of British rule in every part of the Colonial Empire, and nowhere more than in the Protectorates.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton mentioned that our position in Bechuanaland is not unchallenged. I do not want to go into the rights or wrongs of who should govern the protectorate today, but I would say to the Government, "If you are no longer able to see that justice is done in the Protectorate, and if you cannot maintain order without resorting to arbitrary measures and without punishing innocent parties, then the justification for British rule in Bechuanaland is at an end."
In the work which I have recently been doing on the papers of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain I found an account of his visit to Bechuanaland in the Spring of 1903, just after the conclusion of the Boer War. In the Colonial Secretary's honour, the chiefs of the tribes of the Protectorate at that time held a great indaba. Tshekedi's father, Khama the Great, presided. Many speeches were made, and Mr. Chamberlain replied in these words:You have been loyal to the King and have done good service against the King's enemies. You have been friends to the English and the English do not forget their friends.May we be true to that pledge.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House are deeply concerned about the matters which we have been discussing this afternoon, but I must confess that the way in which the Motion we have been discussing reached the Order Paper makes us wonder how far principles and how far politics have entered into this debate.
I am afraid that I myself by no means share the sentiments of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in his opinion of the Liberal Party, because in my view the Liberal Party have been absolutely sincere in their attitude towards this question from the very beginning. Many of us on this side of the House, unfortunately not including my hon. and learned Friend the Member for 1257 Northampton, consider ourselves the heirs of the great radical tradition of this country.
But when it comes to the unholy alliance of the Tory Party on this matter we begin to have our doubts. The original Liberal Motion on the Order Paper was withdrawn and in its place a Tory-Liberal Motion was substituted. We understand that this was secured in return for the gracious granting of some Tory Party time. Had the Tories really been so enthusiastically co-operative in the cause of civil liberties, one might suppose that they would have supported the Motion by the Liberal Party or possibly have tabled an Amendment.
We are also a bit cold in our reception of the sentiments expressed by the party opposite when we find that the principal mouthpiece of those sentiments is a gentleman who to the end of his days will be known as a friend of Franco. As far as I know, he has made no representations on civil liberties in Franco's unhappy country. Were we convinced of the genuine regard of the Tory Party, including the Leader of the Opposition, for civil liberties, instead of feeling that they regard this as a chance of adding to the discomfort of the Government, we would take the words which they utter a bit more seriously.
Having said that, I will also say freely that there have been many Members on this side of the House who have been very deeply concerned with the principles involved in this issue. I would say further that, in my view, a great deal of the disquiet, uneasiness and agitation which have been aroused by this case might have been avoided had it been handled from the start in a different manner.
What disturbs us most is this: Here is a very complex case, and I say that, having done my best to read all the documents and papers available. It is a very complex case in which to arrive at the truth as to the facts, let alone the matters of opinion and conjecture as to what might happen in the future. But that being so, surely it is all the more necessary that it should have been dealt with in a way that provided for all this complex and very often conflicting evidence to be treated in a judicial manner.
I accept the argument of the Secretary of State that owing to the fact that Tshekedi Khama was not technically a 1258 chief, the ordinance of 1943 did not apply and the ordinance of 1907, therefore, had to be used. But surely there was nothing to prevent the Government, even though the legal basis of their action had to be the ordinance of 1907, following the intention of the ordinance of 1943 and granting to Tshekedi an inquiry before persons to whom evidence could be brought, where some cross-examination of witnesses might take place and where, when the evidence conflicted, there could be an impartial weighing of the factors on both sides.
The difficulty in which everyone has been placed in this case is, I think, largely this: where no such inquiry has taken place, where most of the discussions—not all, but most—have taken place as private conversations, where a conclusion has been reached which for one reason or another is not satisfactory to the principal party concerned, then there is no proper method of appeal. It is not a judicial process in the strict sense of the word and there is, therefore, no court of appeal. Therefore, the only way in which a party who feels himself aggrieved by this method can seek to obtain redress is to work up political agitation. There is no other course open to him. He certainly cannot be blamed for having tried the only method which was open to him, and, if I may say so, having done it very successfully. But surely it is an unsatisfactory way of dealing with matters of this kind.
I was glad to hear the Secretary of State declare rather more emphatically today than he did in answer to a written Question from myself a week ago that he was prepared to consider, in common with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, this one question of arbitrary procedure with respect to exile and banishment. So long as we follow this kind of procedure it seems to me inevitable that we shall be faced with difficulties of this sort in which it is extraordinarily hard for Members of this House with the best will in the world to reach a satisfactory conclusion. This is a debating assembly; it is not a judicial assembly in which we can weigh evidence in the manner in which it ought to be weighed.
Further than that, it seems to me a most unsatisfactory procedure because it puts the Minister himself in an ambiguous 1259 position. If his decision is not acceptable he then becomes in effect counsel for the prosecution. He ceases to be a dispassionate arbiter. He is then obliged naturally to try to prove his case and to use such arguments as he can to do so. He then lays himself open to the charge—not necessarily proven—of bringing up facts which appear to be irrelevant and which may be damaging to the personal reputation of the principal party. All of this seems to me a very unsatisfactory way of dealing with matters of this kind, and I very much hope that this case will be a lesson to all Governments that this is not the way in which our affairs should be conducted if we are concerned not only that justice should be done but that it should appear to be done.
I think we would all wish before this debate closes to know a little more about the proposal which has been made as to a means of reaching some kind of conclusion to this unhappy affair. It has been suggested that a fresh Kgotla should be held at which Members of this House should be present. When the Secretary of State referred to two Members, if he had intended by that a Socialist Member and a Liberal Member that would have been very fair. However, if he would include one Tory that might be in keeping with the traditions of the House. We should like to know a little more about the proposal. The Secretary of State used two different phrases about the Kgotla. In one he said that the Kgotla is not a decisive body, and in another he said it is a decisive body.
We would wish to know what exactly is to be put before the Kgotla. I am sure we are glad indeed that Tshekedi should be given a chance to state his case to the tribe, which he has not had since his own voluntary action was turned into a statutory banishment. That, I think, is in itself all to the good. I am sure it is essential that he should have the right to speak to the tribe. If there is a difficulty of tribal law and custom in this, I still hope he will be permitted to do so. My only regret is that he was not permitted to take this step sooner because by now feelings have been aroused one way or another and it seems to me that it is not going to be easy to see that the two points of view—for undoubtedly there are two points of view—are adequately and fairly expressed.
1260 We then want to know whether this Kgotla is to be a decisive body, or a body at which Tshekedi makes his case and then, in the light of the reception given to it in general terms, some further decision is to be taken. There will obviously be the vexed question of whether any of Tshekedi's followers who are now at Rametsane should or should not be allowed to attend. I know that this is a much disputed point; there are two views of what really is tribal law and custom on this matter.
There is also, of course, the all-important question of what preliminary steps will be taken to prepare the agenda. I, myself, have not subscribed to all that has been said about the letter which has been quoted. Nevertheless, if Members of this House go out it is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said, important that they should at least go out sufficiently early to be on the spot when the preliminary arrangements for this gathering are made. It is essential that we should also know what opportunity Tshekedi himself would have to consult with any of his own friends or supporters, and whether he would be able to bring in friends or supporters—without prejudice to the general question of who might be allowed to attend—to give any supporting evidence that he might wish to produce.
These are all questions which are very difficult to resolve, but I am very glad to learn that the Government have at least reconsidered this matter of allowing Tshekedi to state his own case to his own people, because clearly nobody can state that case as effectively as he can himself. One of the difficulties so far has been that his case, so far as it has been stated at all, has been stated at second hand. I think that, while we should like to have more information, we all welcome this proposal. We hope that it will be carried out as fairly as possible, and that Tshekedi himself will feel able to make a statement to his own people which will convince them of the rightness of his cause.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
I thought that my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery), put his finger on the point when he indicated his belief that there was a confusion between two issues here. 1261 I have the greatest sympathy with the Secretary of State, who has great difficulties. As the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said, we cannot judge people like the tribesmen under consideration today by the same rules of either equity or law as we would apply to ourselves. What may be justice here may not be justice there.
I also have the greatest respect for Sir Evelyn Baring, whom I know personally, on the spot so to speak, in his work in those territories, and for the men who work under him. But it is not impossible that all of these gentlemen, and the Secretary of State himself, have got into a jam, and I believe that they have got into a jam for exactly the reason given by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North. They have sought to avoid the issue about Seretse's marriage by mixing it up with the quarrel between uncle and nephew. I will not elaborate that, because my hon. Friend dealt with it so well.
It seems to me that there are two principles which should guide us in these maters in Africa. One is consultation and regard for the views of South Africa and Rhodesia, because they are powerful developing countries, with knowledge of local rights and customs. Especially is this important in the case of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland, because those three Protectorates border on, or are enclaves in, the Union of South Africa or Rhodesia. Having regard to the history of these territories and to their possible future, it does not seem possible not to take into account South African and Southern Rhodesian opinion. Taking that into account, as I believe the right hon. Gentleman did, the Secretary of State should have the courage to say so, and I think he shirked that issue.
This man Tshekedi is obviously an outstanding leader of his people. In some respects he is a little like my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill)—head and shoulders above the rest of the politicians; a statesman amongst his own folk, but excluded from office as my right hon. Friend was, by all sorts of arguments. They say,"He could not be trusted to do this. We cannot have him now"—exactly what the Whips in the Tory Party said for 10 years before the last war. In the recol- 1262 lection of those who survived those days, that is what occurred.
Now messages come from Serowe—messages of very recent origin which the Secretary of State has quite naturally called to his aid. There are messages coming from all quarters which have been sent for, whistled for, within recent days by the Secretary of State to support his case, and I cannot help thinking that all these messages also mix up the two issues, which are really quite separate.
I do not think that the anxiety, which I know is a real one, which the Secretary of State feels about trouble ought to stand in the way of applying to Tshekedi the terms of the 1943 proclamation. Had they been applied to him, had he only been banished on public grounds and after judicial inquiry, I would not have felt that this was a matter that should come to a vote here in the House of Commons. It was not so treated, on the purely technical ground that he was not a Chief. He was more than a Chief: he was one of the greatest men amongst Africans.
They are rare men, these, and the British and all Europeans interested in South Africa ought to try to co-operate with these great men. They are capable of giving us enormous aid, and my own belief is that when Seretse put himself out of court, as he did—
§ Sir I. Fraser
The hon. Gentleman must ask his right hon. Friend. I am not judging the case. Some African opinion, some European opinion, and certainly the opinion of the Secretary of State, put Seretse out of court, I am not arguing that now. My only argument now is to show that, because the young man was put out of court was no reason for rejecting the advice and co-operation of the older man. Indeed, it was a powerful reason for retaining him and his Government, and for all those reasons I hope that the Secretary of State will yet change his mind.
This public trial by Kgotla is not fair. in all the circumstances. I will not say it will be rigged locally. Hon. Members 1263 will go out to see that it is not. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) will be sent there. I cannot imagine anything more helpful to the Government than to have him there for two or three weeks. Whoever goes, I do not expect it to be rigged on the spot and at the time. But it is already rigged to the disadvantage of Tshekedi.
All that has been said today by the Secretary of State, all that has been done by his servants getting messages from here and there, have already judged it in advance. It cannot be a fair trial to put this to those people, aided now by all the politicians who do not want Tshekedi back, and who are there in possession, operating with all their whips, such as they are—different from our own—with all their local influences working away to make the Tshekedi case go by default, or to cause it to fail at any Kgotla. The only thing that would satisfy me would be the application of the 1943 technique, that is, no banishment without a judicial inquiry.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)
May I with some temerity congratulate the Leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), on putting so powerful a case before the House today, backed up as it was by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) in a very persuasive way. But may I also add that every hon. Member looking at the matter disinterestedly and impartially must appreciate the complex difficulties with which the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has had to deal.
I some times wonder exactly what Members opposite would have done had they been in my right hon. Friend's position. I rather think they would have done much the same thing, and, in spite of much that has been said about the necessity for observing high principles and freedom, with all of which I completely agree, I would point out that if it is simply a question of moral principle, then I would like to know why nothing has been said about the return, not only of Tshekedi, but of Seretse also? The reason why Seretse has been banished is because of political expediency, and hon. Members opposite would endorse that 1264 even though they want, as I do, the return of Tshekedi.
If it is purely a question of principle, then both must go back. If, on the other hand, there is discrimination between the two, if a case can be made out for Tshekedi, as I think it can, and if, on the other hand, no case can be made out for Seretse, I should like to know why that is so, if it is merely a question of moral principle.
We all recognise that very little has been said this afternoon about a ghost. The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) referred to it in the earlier part of his speech. It is, of course, the ghost of South Africa. Let us be quite frank about it. While there is no reason why we should go into any great detail, we know that anybody on the Government Front Bench would have to consider that ghost all the time. That is why I said earlier that if any hon. Member opposite had stood in the place of my right hon. Friend, he would have had to consider much the same sort of problem. He would have had to consider the ghost at his back—the repercussions in the Union of South Africa.
§ Mr. Sorensen
That makes my case all the stronger, because, if it is a reality, why have people not been dealing with it instead of keeping it out of the discussion? I realise that there are reasons for not discussing such matters more openly.
We are all conscious of the difficulties. We know full well that there are reactionary and liberal forces out there, and we do not want to play into the hands of the more reactionary forces. I dare say it is some such factor as that which has been in the minds of hon. Members on both sides. Although I appreciate that, I would urge that we have to think not only of the two and a half million white people in the Union of South Africa, but also of the 60 million people in our Colonies and of the 40 million in our South African Colonies and Protectorates. We must consider what they are thinking, and what are likely to be their reactions.
Over and above what I think is the deplorable policy adopted by Dr. Malan and his Government, we have, on the 1265 other hand, to take a long-term view of what is most likely to commend our policy, our Government, and our way of life to the people in our African Colonies whom we wish most earnestly should reach full political maturity and freedom and should remain with us in the Commonwealth.
Although I appreciate that this is a most difficult and delicate situation, and understand all the repercussions that have to be borne in mind by my hon. Friend, I do suggest that there comes a stage when we must stand for something which I would term ethically emphatic and when we must be prepared to take the consequences of so doing. If Tshekedi and Seretse do not go back, then is it not likely there may be considerable political disturbance in Bechuanaland or, for instance, in the Gold Coast or Nigeria? On the other hand, if they do go back, there are also likely to be serious political repercussions. Therefore, we are in a dilemma, but in such circumstances there is something to be said for taking our moral courage in our hands and doing what we know to be the right thing.
I should like to see Tshekedi and Seretse return to Bechuanaland. Although I know there are dangers in that, I believe that if the balance of opinion on both sides of the House were to be flung on the side of toleration, law and order it might have a good effect both among the Bamangwato, in Bechuanaland itself and in the Union as well. Related to that, there is the other problem with which we are all confronted. It is not impossible that the Kgotla which is going to be held will, in the end, reverse its previous decision or alleged prejudices and will allow Tshekedi to go back to his own country. But if at the same time they say, "We also want Seretse back," what will be the position of the Government and this House? It is most unlikely that the Kgotla will come to the decision to ask Tshekedi to come back and not also press for Seretse.
On the other hand, what would be the attitude of hon. Members were the Kgotla to consider in their wisdom that it was right for Tshekedi to go back, but, on principle, not for Seretse to go back? That would also put us in a further moral dilemma. Therefore, we had better say to the Kgotla, which I am glad is going to be held, "We await your decisions, and we will abide by them." But we should 1266 point out to them the dangers and depend on them to carry out a wise and generous policy. Surely, we can say to the Bamangwato people, "Here are two very fine sons of your tribe. You may have a difference of opinion over Seretse's marriage, but, at least, Seretse Khama has had the influence of his well esteemed uncle and both have fine qualities and want to serve their people."
There is really no fundamental quarrel between Seretse and his uncle because his uncle has renounced any suggestion of wanting the chieftainship, and Seretse has accepted that renunciation. Therefore it is possible further to say to both of them, "Use all your influence to bring this dissension to an end. In the interests of your people that must be achieved, as, otherwise, dire consequences may befall them."
I am glad the proposal has been made by my hon. Friend that the Kgotla should take place. I entirely agree with some doubts already expressed as to whether it is wise to hold it within 10 days or a fortnight as suggested. It does not give sufficient time to think things out. Feelings are still high and effervescent. Why not postpone it for six weeks or two months, and, at the same time, as a necessary condition of that, urge the Bamangwato people to allow Tshekedi to go back so that he can consult with his friends?
It is most unfair merely to say, "Hold this Kgotla in a fortnight's time. If you like to ask Tshekedi back, do so," and leave it there. We must help them to see why he must go back to put his case. Therefore, an obligation rests on us not only to make this new offer, but, further, to see that proper conditions prevail when the Kgotla takes place.
Firstly, we should see that the Kgotla is not held in such a short space of time as a fortnight or three weeks, but only after a month or two and, secondly, we should urge the Bamangwato people immediately to allow Tshekedi to go back forthwith, with proper safeguards which he no doubt will offer, so that he can consult with his people and have proper rational discussions with them. Thirdly, whatever decisions may be made by an effective Kgotla, both in respect of Tshekedi Khama and Seretse Khama, we shall abide by them.
1267 I admit that there are grave risks whichever way we look, but we have come to a pass now where for the sake of African opinion as a whole, and not merely for the sake of the important opinion of the 2,500,000 white people in the Union, we should do the bold thing, which is also in this case the morally efficacious thing to do. I am sure that this will have a great effect amongst the Bamangwato, in Bechuanaland, in the Union and on ourselves as well, and I beg the Government to consider this possibility of taking their moral courage into both hands and looking forward hopefully to the future.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
I have listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), and if I follow him only in certain points it is because I do not want to broaden the issue but to take up only those points which are set out in the Motion and directly relate to the case of Tshekedi Khama.
I do not think that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations was really quite fair when he said that this Motion meant that this country was going to force Tshekedi Khama back on his tribe. I understand that the Prime Minister will wind up the debate. I would ask him to look again at the Motion. It merely deplores the position—as, I think, hon. Members can, and as, I think, it is necessary that they should. Many of us thought a year ago that there was a great deal more to know about this matter. Then the Motion calls on the Government to rescind the order of banishment. It is not saying that we must force Tshekedi Khama to go back, or force the tribe to accept him. The Motion is drawn in the widest terms.
I should like to put these somewhat narrow but, to my mind, fundamental points before the House. The point that both my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) made was, that there is banishment without a judicial inquiry. That is the difference between the case of Tshekedi Khama and the case of Seretse Khama. In one case there has been a judicial inquiry, although the details of it have not been 1268 published. In the other case there has not been a judicial inquiry, and to our minds—certainly to mine—that is a most important point.
I think hon. Members on both sides of the House—I think that the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said this, too—regard it as being of fundamental importance that in the middle of the 20th century there should be banishment of this sort without proper judicial inquiry into the reasons. I appreciate that in the Protectorates there is no system set up which could have taken the action of inquiry. They are the last parts of our overseas territories in which there is not that system.
Another point I should like to put to the Prime Minister is one which the somewhat tortuous and sometimes rather wide and irrelevant arguments put forward by the Secretary of State seemed to disregard, and which is fundamental in a case of this sort, and that is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire pointed out, that in the last 12 months Tshekedi has been five months on the Bamangwato Reserve without any disorder occurring. If that is so I cannot see how many of the things that the Secretary of State said really can be maintained as being based on reality. He said that the tribe had not accepted this renunciation of the chieftainship, and that there were fears that he would go back, and that there were threats that the tribesmen would deal with him in their own way. He has been back five months and nobody has dealt with him—whatever that means.
The right hon. Gentleman feared a lack of co-operation from the tribe. If we in this country thought there was much value in such threats we might refuse to co-operate with the Inland Revenue Department, but such threats of lack of cooperation do not produce any results in this country, and they will not there. We cannot let it get about that all people have to do to get away with anything is to say, "We shall not co-operate." We cannot let that sort of thing get about when we are trying to establish the rule of law. A belief that people can get away with anything they like by means of such threats would have great repercussions on the whole of our overseas territories. I do hope that the Prime Minister, when he winds up, will explain the fact that Seretse Khama has been five months with his people without any problems arising.
1269 Finally, I should like to put forward a proposal entirely on my own initiative but which. I think, may be useful. All of us on both sides of the House have seen problems arising in the Commonwealth, and we do feel that there is the tremendous problem of race relations within the Commonwealth and Empire. I think that the time has come when we should have one Secretary of State only responsible for all the Commonwealth and Empire business. There are other reasons why this may be a good thing, but I do believe that a lot of the problems which may arise in the future could be dealt with better if they were handled by one Department instead of two.
The Commonwealth Relations Office has primarily a diplomatic job. Without any disrespect to the Commonwealth Relations Office, I believe that if this matter now before us had been handled by the Colonial Office, the problem would never have arisen because it would have been anticipated, and there would have been a proper judicial inquiry. I think that the work of these Departments should be unified—just as my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) organised the Departments concerned with defence under one Ministry of Defence. I put forward this suggestion as I think it may be helpful in solving many of the problems that face us in the Common-wealth and that may yet arise in the future.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
The very short intervention I propose to make in this debate will be very different from the speech I had intended to make, not only in length but in matter. The change of front is due to the statement which has been made by my right hon. Friend and the proposal which he makes that there should be a further Kgotla at which Tshekedi Khama shall be able to express his views and put his case before the tribes over which he once ruled.
I want to say straight away that I am one of those who would like to see Tshekedi Khama and Seretse Khama back in their own country at the earliest possible moment. It is now 20 years since I first had the honour of knowing Tshekedi Khama. All that time I have followed his career with great interest, and, if I may say so, with admiration. I feel that there is a great work to be done 1270 in his country, to which he can contribute more, perhaps, than any other single person.
Let me, having said that, say how very glad I am that my right hon. Friend has now decided that not only must he do justice but that justice must be demonstrable. We are now to have a meeting of the Kgotla especially to hear Tshekedi Khama's case. This brings me to a very important point.
A large part of my right hon. Friend's speech today consisted of assertions which, I am bound to say, I personally could not possibly accept. I am not saying that my right hon. Friend has been acting in bad faith. I am quite certain that he is doing what he believes to be right, and it is a very difficult situation in which he has to act; but there is room for a difference of opinion on quite a number of the things in the dispute which has given rise to this debate. And I am going to suggest to him that the same reasons which have caused differences of opinion on what should be easily ascertainable facts, are going to apply when this new Kgotla is held. Surely when the whole of the organs of expression of a tribe are in the hands of enemies of Tshekedi Khama —and they are virtually in the hands of such enemies at the present time—these enemies are going to be able to form the expression to which these organs give rise.
It seems to me now that we have this great opportunity of the new Kgotla perhaps to resolve difficulties which have been worrying so many of us for so long. It is incumbent on the Secretary of State —and I am sure he will want to fulfil his duties in this regard: my only doubt is whether he will see them in the same light as I and some of my hon. Friends—to see to it that the Kgotla meetings—to decide whether or not Tshekedi Khama is to be allowed back or whether or not the tribe wishes him to come back into what was his own territory before his exile—will have been so prepared that he will have a fair hearing. He must not just be condemned out of hand—by the very people, it may be, if we are right and the Secretary of State is wrong, who have been concocting evidence of unpopularity against him.
The present District Commissioner has to act through the chiefs and headmen of his territory and those headmen are 1271 almost without exception men who have been hostile to Tshekedi Khama. Here we have a great opportunity, and I am sure that he would like the conditions of that Kgotla, so far as humanly possible, to be such that when Tshekedi Khama, with great courage, and, I have no doubt, great skill presents his case there, if he is so minded to do it, he will have the fairest possible hearing.
That is not a question of sitting down and waiting for that fair hearing to come. I submit that everything possible must be done by my right hon. Friend to make these conditions fair, in advance. I was very glad to hear him say that he personally hoped that the tribe would allow Tshekedi to go back and state his case in spite of the fact that there was some doubt as to his legal right to do so. It may be right that there is some doubt. I have not myself studied these questions for many years, but I was under the impression that there was no doubt whatever under native law and custom that he could go back and state his case before the Kgotla.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has stated that he wants Tshekedi back there and that he wants him to have his case fully stated before the Bamangwato people. I hope that he will do all that he can to ensure a fair hearing is arrived at. Whether that hearing is in three weeks or three months, I do not know; the right hon. Gentleman has to decide that; that is his responsibility. I dare say that there are not many of us who would care to bear that responsibility. I am sure that he will do his best to ensure that whatever can be will be done to achieve a proper hearing, so that justice may demonstratively be done.
Banishment is a thing I am sure which no Labour Government would wish to exercise at any time, and I cannot imagine that it is one which any Government would wish to exercise at this time, when Asia is on the march and Africa is stirring and when we have played such a fine part in the leading of hitherto exploited and subject peoples towards a fuller freedom. Anything which leads to a return of Tshekedi Khama to this 1272 country is something which I welcome because I believe that we have here a simple, orderly people who have put their trust for 50 years and more in the righteousness of our intentions. I think that they can be led to a much fuller freedom and nationhood by us if we give them the right example at the right time.
We certainly do not want to turn Tshekedi Khama into a sort of modern Caractacus, being trailed around the Imperial City, because he has spent his life, and indeed himself to a large extent, in the service of his people. That must be avoided at all costs if it is possible to do so. It is with that feeling in mind that I welcome so much the statement made by the Secretary of State this afternoon. Amongst these primitive people we have a great task to perform; and I believe that we can achieve it, if this man is returned to his own, for he will work there with us for a great ideal, which is the bettering of the conditions and the giving of a far fuller freedom than ever before experienced, to these simple people.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Alport (Colchester)
I must confess that I came here this afternoon not intending to ask the indulgence of the House to intervene in this debate. I do not entirely agree with the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) that this particular case looms as large in the minds of Africans as he suspects; nor do I believe that, at any rate so far as Central and East Africa is concerned, it looms very largely in the minds of Europeans.
What I personally feel about this debate is that it at least illustrates to this country and to the world that this Parliament is still a court to which even somebody from a rather remote—and perhaps hon. Members opposite will accept the word—primitive tribe, who has rendered good service to his own people and to the Empire can come to seek justice in a matter which affects his rights, and that, even though the political expediency of the time may be, so to speak, in opposition to those rights, he will, from all parties get the best justice that we can humanly provide.
I was sorry, when listening to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), that he interjected into the debate a virus which had not been there before—the element 1273 of purely party abuse and attack. The reason why I have taken these few minutes of the time of the House is because of the speech of Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. It seemed to me that the arguments and points that he made had, for the mind of ordinary people—for the minds of a jury, so to speak—very little weight indeed.
The right hon. Gentleman was asked by more than one hon. Member from this side of the House to explain who "they" were and who "the tribe" was, because obviously a great deal of what he said depended upon "they" or "the tribe" being really representative of the point of view of the tribe as a whole. Gradually it was traced down, by means of question and answer more than anything else, as to who exactly "they and the tribe" were.
It appears that "they" are the nine headmen of Serowe, and it appears, equally, that these nine headmen—and I quote— "are the enemies of Tshekedi." It is possible to get a tribal decision, and it is possible for the district officer to get deputations of headmen coming to assure him that anything that Tshekedi may do, if he returns, will lead to unrest and disorder if these headmen and deputations consist of enemies of Tshekedi.
Life being a real thing, these enemies of Tshekedi are aware of the fact that he is a very wealthy man. They may equally be aware that it is a custom of the tribe that anyone who is banished and has left his possessions in the tribal territory automatically forfeits those possessions. Why, therefore, should not those enemies of Tshekedi see an admirable opportunity of expropriating the property of their enemy, and enrich themselves as presumably his successors in the local Native Authority.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
They have never suggested that. What they did suggest was that the cattle should be driven out of the territory, but they never suggested that it should be appropriated by anyone.
§ Mr. Alport
I have only spent some four years in Africa, and I do not pretend in any way to understand the mind of the African. One thing I do know, and that is that the mind of the African works in a very devious way indeed, and I would 1274 only say it is as much a possible explanation of what has happened and the advice upon which the right hon. Gentleman places so much reliance as is the explanation which he himself advanced.
I should like to turn to the other important point which was introduced by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) about the letter which a district officer wrote to those taking part in the third important Kgotla. I think I would be right in saying this— and the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that at the time the letter was written direct rule was in existence in the territory. Therefore, the district officer was in a much more direct position of authority than he had been previously or he would be normally. His views would carry far more weight with the head men—and this I am sure is true of Africa as a whole—than would even be the case in the past when Tshekedi was Regent and indirect rule was the normal method of Government in the territory.
It may well be that the letter to which the right hon. Gentleman referred and tried to explain away was merely a record of a meeting between the district officer and the headmen. We do not know, but I do not think it is unfair to the district officer to raise this matter, because we are trying to do justice to Tshekedi. We do not know what went on at the meeting, of which that letter is a record, and we do not know how far the views which were contained as to what should be done at the Kgotla were, in fact, the views given by the district officer to the headman, or alternatively the views which the headman gave to the district officer, those headmen themselves being the same enemies of Tshekedi as those to whom 1 have referred earlier. Therefore, I think that the right hon. Gentleman's attempt to explain away the significance of that letter is not at all satisfactory.
If I may turn to another point, I think the right hon. Gentleman used unfairly the quotation from a letter from Tshekedi referring to civil war in the olden days. "The olden days" in Africa are a lot nearer to the present than they are here. The olden days there refer perhaps to 50, 100 or 150 years ago, whereas we would think in terms of the Middle Ages. It would just be the same if we said that some mediæval king did something, which would lead to civil war in the olden days. 1275 I feel that the Secretary of State on more than one occasion used the phrase "civil war in the olden days" when taken out of its context, and in a way extremely unfair to Tshekedi. That in my mind threw a general suspicion upon the whole case which he advanced to the House, and I should like to suggest that hon. Members here are in some ways acting as a jury—
§ Mr. Alport
I was referring not to the immediate quotation that he made, but to the other several occasions in his speech when he used the phrase" civil war." I think that we are justified in this case in considering the whole attitude that the Secretary of State has taken to this case in his speech as having a bearing upon the good faith of the Government in this matter.
The use of the terms "they" and "tribe" without defining exactly what "they" and "tribe" meant, as well as the use of such phrases as "civil war" and others which he used, suggested to me that there was something unreal, unfair and unjust in the attitude which the right hon. Gentleman has taken, and in the attitude which the Government as a whole have adopted towards Tshekedi's case. I think further that we have a right to do what a jury normally has a right to do, and that is to judge the man as we have seen him and talked to him. I believe that anybody who had the opportunity, as a great many Members of this House have had, of meeting and speaking to Tshekedi cannot but be impressed by the evidence of his ability, his moderation and those qualities which we ourselves like to see in our public men.
I believe that Africa in some ways is the key continent of the future, and that great problems of the world are going to be centred or are centred there. These problems can only be solved with the help of men and women in their capacity as leaders, thrown up by the various races which dwell in Africa. Each of the races in Africa—African, European and Asian —must help to solve Africa's problems, and today they must have leaders of 1276 moderation and genius for the purpose. I do not think it would be out of proportion in any way to say that, whatever the political expedients of the moment. Africa can make use of the valuable powers of leadership which in my view Tshekedi possesses.
I hope that the Government will reconsider their whole attitude to the question and will not allow the decision to rest simply on a meeting of the Kgotla, collected hurriedly, influenced obviously very greatly by men whom the right hon. Gentleman admits to be the enemies of Tshekedi, and probably reaching a decision which, after the mature thought which is so necessary in all matters of African public life, the tribe might not like at all. I hope therefore that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government will reconsider the suggestion which they have made in this debate.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)
The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) said he was glad that this Parliament was still a court to which anyone in the Commonwealth could appeal. We are all glad of that. The only thing that some of us are sorry about is that on this occasion it is a court the Members of which might be influenced in the decision they make by the political advantage they might get out of it. The best court is not one in which the jury may secure a considerable political advantage by voting one way or the other.
I am certain that when the spokesman for the Liberal Party put this Motion on the paper he and his hon. Friends had in mind some much more judicial form of inquiry than this. The right hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) made very serious charges against a distinguished civil servant. These are not things which we can argue out in this House. The charges which have been made ought to be judicially investigated. I hope that there will be some judicial consideration of this matter.
The House ought not to be too impressed with what was said by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) against exclusion orders. There are hon. Members on this side of the House who, for five or six years, have been arguing that exclusion orders and the exiling of somebody without trial were quite wrong even in the United Kingdom. 1277 but we never had one word of support from the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire for that protest. I would make the suggestion to the Conservative Party that perhaps they might like to give to British subjects the same liberties as they suggest for African chiefs.
Now let me turn to the arguments put forward in the long and valuable speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. He was very fortunate to have received a telegram just before the debate began, but in view of the rather unfortunate history of such telegrams which have influenced our debates on more than one occasion we should not place too much reliance on it.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) is not here. I happened to be in Bilbao in the Spanish Civil War, engaged in a matter which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire knows something about, when the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington received a telegram, during a debate, from a ship saying that it was quite unsafe for food ships to go into Bilbao. The telegram had a great effect, and it was not until some time afterwards that it was discovered that the telegram had been dispatched from Hamburg. We ought to look at this matter in a more serious light than that of a chance telegram turning up fortuitously to reinforce what some hon. Members may regard as a rather weak argument.
My right hon. Friend said that we should balance private interest with public good. I do not know whether that is quite the way that some hon. Members look at this matter. We think that the public interest is far wider than the Bechuanaland aspect and that the real public good in this matter is connected with private interest. For it is our reputation for fair dealing in Africa which is at stake.
I hope that when this Kgotla comes to be held, my right hon. Friend will see that one or two things are done which will give it a reputation for fair dealing. He said that Mr. Keaboka, who is the rival claimant to Tshekedi and rightly thinks that his position is prejudiced because of the return of Tshekedi, is just one of a number of others. If that is so, will my right hon. Friend, or the Prime 1278 Minister when he comes to reply, say that Mr. Keaboka, the rival claimant for the throne who has a long history, will not be the person to preside over the Kgotla.
It is all very well my right hon. Friend saying that Mr. Keaboka is just one of the people now employed in the Government of the tribe; what disturbs us is that if he is merely one of the people in the background in this matter how did it happen that he was the person to whom the District Commissioner had to write the letter which has been so much criticised in the debate? If Mr. Keaboka is merely one among others who are in a position of authority, why was it decided by the District Commissioner that he should prepare the list of those who were to speak at the assembly which was to give my right hon. Friend an impartial view of the whole matter? Suppose it is decided that Tshekedi cannot be heard at the Kgotla, for some reason or other. Would my right hon. Friend consider, in those circumstances, having a judicial inquiry?
One of the difficulties in regard to the Kgotla is that there is no vote, as we know it. What happens is that the officer who presides gives a general impression of what has been said. That puts a great deal of power into the hands of the presiding officer. It is very necessary to know who is to be the acting-chief presiding at the meeting where there is no vote and where the speakers are chosen by prior arrangement with those in power. It is difficult to get a fair consensus of opinion in those circumstances. It was for that reason that my right hon. Friend refused to accept the decision of the Kgotla which decided to accept Seretse as chief, and decided to have a judicial inquiry.
We are discussing justice to a very great African. We have heard many criticisms of him from the leaders of neighbouring tribes, but they are not people whose names are so well known as his, and the criticisms were not made in the days when Tshekedi was chief and was showing the way forward. They are criticisms made by people after he has been removed from all his offices and exiled from his lands. We should not put too high a rating on such criticism. In this House we ought not to allow my right hon. Friend to put forward un- 1279 corrected—however much he may wish to defeat a political argument from the other side of the House—a number of arguments which must sway the minds of the Kgotla when it considers the matter.
The speech of my right hon. Friend covered a number of points to which those who have tried to study this matter know there are a number of answers. I will take three of those points. My right hon. Friend said that it was Tshekedi's plan to split the tribes. What was the origin of that plan? The matter arose and was discussed in the judicial inquiry. The memorandum which Tshekedi submitted to my right hon. Friend was requested so that he could expand the views that he put forward on that occasion.
§ Mr. Bing
Whether it was asked for or not, it was a memorandum produced in expansion, and the argument can be seen by hon. Members during an all-night Sitting when they can afford to go through the 13 volumes of the evidence before the Commission
My right hon. Friend referred to a number of cases in which people have been exiled without any form of trial. He referred to cases arising out of Tshekedi's divorce. This was a particularly tragic and unhappy affair. It was said that, through the influence of the dynastic feuds, Tshekedi's wife of that time administered a poison to Tshekedi's mother, who subsequently died. That matter was investigated, because the people concerned were tried and convicted. To say that they were banished afterwards without any investigation is an entirely different idea, and it is not on the same footing as this matter.
To turn again to the matter which my right hon. Friend pushes aside so lightly, the native administrative ordinance of 1943. There is a long history in Bechuanaland of the exile of chiefs without a proper inquiry. A very famous chief was exiled—I am sorry to have to say this to the two hon. Members who represent the Liberal Party at the moment —during the regime of the Liberal Party. There was an attempt by habeas corpus, to bring Lord Crewe, the Liberal Secre- 1280 tary of State, to book on that account, but he pleaded that he had complete and absolute authority. It was just to deal with that sort of thing and to see that people who understood the responsibility of government should not be arbitrarily banished that the ordinance of 1943 was introduced.
That ordinance clearly provided that no chief could be judged without his case being submitted to the tribunal; but Tshekedi's case was never submitted to the tribunal. It was never submitted to the Seretse inquiry, and the only thing with which they were concerned was the position of Seretse. Yet there was no question that Tshekedi was not at that time the chief, because, as my right hon. Friend has just told us, he did not resign his position as chief until 13th March, 1950, and the inquiry took place in the latter part of 1949. In complete disregard of our own ordinance, which governs the conduct of these inquiries, the inquiry, without hearing evidence, as it was compelled to do by law, proceeded to recommend the banishment of Tshekedi.
That was how the matter first came to be raised, and indeed the White Paper puts forward as the reason which the Government originally gave for the banishment of Tshekedi that it was recommended by a judicial inquiry. But it was never recommended by a judicial inquiry; it was a matter which was excluded from the terms of reference of the judicial inquiry. For my right hon. Friend to say that because Tshekedi resigned his chieftainship he should not be entitled to an inquiry of this sort is a little thin.
Tshekedi did not resign his chieftainship until after my right hon. Friend had made a statement in the House of Commons on 8th March saying that, on the basis of what had been decided by a judicial inquiry, the Government were proposing not to allow him to return to his tribal area. Tshekedi then resigned from the chieftainship, and the Government then said, "What we could not have done before we will do now because you have helped us out of this difficulty."
We on this side of the House consider this to be a very grave and serious decision. I do not accept what many hon. Gentlemen opposite say, that this is not an important matter for African opinion. It is a very important matter for African 1281 opinion. I believe that the future of Africa lies with the Africans and not with the Government of South Africa, and what is at the back of the minds of so many hon. Members on this side of the House is that in some way this case is a departure from the principles which we have so triumphantly carried out in West Africa. It is against that background that we look at it.
My right hon. Friend has suggested a way to deal with the matter. I should like to urge the Liberal Party, who have performed a very useful service in bringing the matter forward, not to press the matter to a Division now. To do so would be to prejudge or to attempt to prejudge the officials in the Protectorate. It would be an attempt, without having heard any of the evidence, to condemn or acquit people whose conduct can only be judged by some form of impartial inquiry. It would be an attempt to prejudge in advance the native meeting which will discuss the whole issue. I sincerely hope that in the circumstances the Liberal Party will not press the matter.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will ask the Prime Minister to deal, when he replies, with three or four points. First of all, when the Kgotla meets, will it be ensured that someone who is impartial will preside over it and that we shall not have as the presiding officer Mr. Keaboka who, rightly or wrongly, is suspected of being a leader of a movement to oust the Khama dynasty? Secondly, will the Prime Minister see that a reasonable time is given to Tshekedi to return to his country and for his views to become known? Thirdly, will the Prime Minister use his influence to see that meanwhile nothing is said on either side here to prejudice the issue and to lead people to believe that they should decide the matter one way or the other?
Only in that way shall we arrive at a decision which is consonant with the very great liberal reforms which we have made in other parts of Africa. Such a judicial inquiry would be completely in keeping with the policy which this party has pursued throughout its colonial relations and would do more than anything else to raise us in public esteem throughout the whole of the African world.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
This is the kind of infrequent but wholly admirable debate where, for the most part, 1282 hon. Members are speaking from their hearts rather than from the dictates of party political motives. On the whole, most of the speeches have been made in that way, and it is certainly in that light that I wish to contribute a few words to this discussion.
The House is in a great difficulty, and, I think, the country is in a great difficulty, about this matter. On the one side, we have had from the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) an able, impassioned speech, setting out the principles of individual liberty, principles to which none of us can take any exception at all, but principles which, however admirable when examined, as it were, in cold storage and unrelated to the facts of the very complex situation, are not entirely the answer to the queries that are in our minds.
I do not think that one can in this case, any more than in the middle of a war, set oneself entirely upon the pedestal of individual liberty. In war, individual liberty has sometimes to be set aside, and it may well be here that similar considerations have to be taken into account. That is on the one side.
On the other side, we have the speech of the Minister this afternoon. I was very deeply impressed by the concluding part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement. I do not see how this House, listening to those grave words, uttered no doubt after much consideration, with all the knowledge at his disposal, can simply disregard them and say that it is not true that there may be a dispute, trouble and chaos if this man is sent back. I cannot, therefore, myself vote tonight for the Motion, because, frankly, I am not convinced. Conscientiously, I could not go into the Lobby in support of the Motion.
What, then, are we to do? The right hon. Gentleman attempted to meet the troubles which, I think, all of us feel. In effect he said," I will give you an inquiry. I will give you a new Kgotla. I will give you three Members of Parliament to go out, examine and report, and come back to this House to tell us what the position is." In fact, the right hon. Gentleman accepted, I think, in principle what is in the Motion. But with very great respect to him, I do not think that that is good enough. I am not myself convinced, and I think I speak for a good many other hon. Members on this side of the House 1283 tonight, that that is an adequate method of getting at the facts.
In this matter we are faced not only with a conflict of opinions—I have never known a case of more sharply conflicting opinions—but on the facts also there is the greatest conflict on all sides. Hon. Members on the opposite side of the House have not accepted the statements made by the Minister. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery made the most serious charges. Nobody has contradicted him. I do not know the facts, and I believe that I speak in this case, for once, for perhaps the great majority of hon. Members on all sides. I am not satisfied that that form of inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman has suggested is adequate.
And yet, at some time or other—and not very far off—we must come to a conclusion about this matter. What, then, is the answer? I think we should have to revert to the old practice of this House of seeking the guidance of wise men whom we ask on our behalf to go there, to inquire and to report. Of course, it is not for me to suggest who those wise men— the personnel of a commission—might be, but the kind of men I have in mind are, for example, Lord Samuel, a man of great repute, who has served his country in great offices in different parts of the world —a man of great wisdom; the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who has served this country also in different parts of the world in high offices, and who has great experience of these matters; and the noble Lord, the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) could claim equal and—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
I am sorry the hon. Member took my name in vain. Nothing on earth, not even the receipt of £100,000, would induce me to go out there.
§ Mr. Stewart
I cannot say that I would be very keen to go out there myself, but I am only indicating to the House the kind of men who we might perhaps, by agreement on both sides of the Chamber, ask to go out there to inquire and guide us on these very important matters.
Hon. Members will have read the various letters by Miss Margery Perham in "The Times." Those of us who know Miss Perham and have met her, as I have, 1284 in parts of the Colonial Empire, know very well that she is a lady of very exceptional knowledge, experience and wisdom in these matters. She has asked, as this Motion asks and as every speaker on both sides of the House has asked, for a real inquiry. That is common ground among Members in all parts of this Chamber. I do not think that the Secretary of State has given us what most of us want, a real inquiry.
I therefore think that there should be no vote tonight. I do not think the matter should be pressed to a Division. This Motion is altogether too brittle for a complex, dangerous situation like this and I therefore plead for greater information. I know how dangerous it is to speak of the effects of all this on surrounding territories in South Africa and Rhodesia, where I was not very long ago, but for the House to pretend that the views of those two great countries do not matter, is surely putting our heads into the sand in an exceptionally stupid way.
These are the kind of problems to be considered, as well as the personal behaviour of Tshekedi Khama and of the local official who acted on or did not act on some telegram which was sent. This is such a big problem that I feel the House must get better advice than it has so far obtained. It cannot be acceptable to the House that the right hon. Gentleman makes a serious statement which his own friends challenge and the right hon. and learned Member makes a statement which no one can challenge and which has to go by the board and we forget about it.
I plead for the sending out of a commission of the wisest men we can persuade to go out and act for the House and make a proper inquiry. Let not the House think that this is an isolated problem. What we are considering here is a matter which will have profound effect on the whole Colonial Empire. If we do not act wisely on this matter, we may feel the results for long years to come.
Here is a test case, here is a challenge to the House to do what is right and honourable, but the House is not yet properly informed and even at this late hour I beg that the right hon. Gentleman will reflect again and, before the debate is over, indicate his agreement to the setting up of a real commission of the best 1285 men we can find: and in those circumstances the matter should not be pressed to a Division.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton (Brixton)
I cordially endorse the plea made by the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart) in which he suggested that the Motion now before the House should not be pressed to a Division. The speeches made in the course of this debate have, in my view, shown quite conclusively that the Motion has become more and more meaningless and will lead to no useful result if it is carried by the House.
I am not going to embark upon the legalistic arguments which have been adduced by various hon. Members in the course of the debate. I start off with one or two very broadly stated propositions. The first is that the social revolution now going on in Asia and Africa is the dominant fact of the 20th century. In the light of that dominant fact I submit that if we get bogged down in the feuds of families, however important, the social, political and economic development of the mass of the people must inevitably be greatly impeded. I am sorry to think that the difficulty of the situation which has now arisen and is under consideration at the moment has been the result of family feuds which, in the opinion of people accustomed to Western civilisation, are completely out-of-date but which, unfortunately, loom large in the eyes of people living under different conditions.
The proposal that has been made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in my view has rendered much of the discussion that has taken place since then rather meaningless and rather futile. In what way can we test or try out what will be the best solution? Surely it must be the case that the happiness and unity of 100,000 people of the Bamangwato and allied tribes must be the paramount consideration. They must take precedence in our minds and in our hearts over the rights and privileges of individuals, however important those individuals may be.
I shall not dilate on some of the details mentioned by the hon. Member for Fife, East. He suggested that some of the arguments adduced by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) were not answered. They could be answered, and it is quite easy in the 1286 difficult circumstances which prevail for anyone to make a biased and selective speech in support of a particular argument. If our long-term and short-term policy is the happiness, unity and future welfare of the Bamangwato tribe, we must consider the simplest and easiest way of resolving this difficult situation.
My right hon. Friend has made a proposal, which apparently did not find favour in all parts of the House. But in what other way is it possible for us to know what the ordinary people in the Bamangwato tribe are thinking? The case of Tshekedi Khama has been more than adequately stated. He has come to this country with the help of the present Government, met all the people he wanted to meet, and had every opportunity of giving his views to the Press. The only people whose story we have not heard are the ordinary people of the Bamangwato tribe. In my view our primary responsibility is to them.
In those circumstances, as has been suggested by the hon. Member for Fife, East, this Motion should not be pressed to a Division. It will serve no useful purpose if a vote takes place, because those who press it to a Division will be committing the very crime of which they are accusing my right hon. Friend, that of pre-judging the issue without taking into full account local opinion on the subject. I hope that this tribal assembly will take place at the earliest possible, moment.
Some hon. Members have suggested that some time should be allowed in which arrangements could be made for the tribal assembly to take place; some time in which, presumably, the contending parties could embark upon an election campaign. I have had some little experience of election campaigns but from my experience the defeated party is always dissatisfied. What guarantee should we have that, even though the tribal assembly expressed itself on this matter, hon. Members who were dissatisfied would not continue to agitate against whatever decision the tribal assembly may arrive at?
I think the suggestion put forward by my right hon. Friend should be adopted. It is not ureasonable to ask Tshekedi Khama and hon. Members of this House to accept in advance what the decision of the rank and file of the Bamangwato tribe 1287 would be. Whatever may be the interpretation which we can place on the individual acts of District Commissioners or Tshekedi Khama or any other people involved, the fact remains that it is quite impossible for this House, or any assembly of people in this country or in any other part of the world, to force a group of people elsewhere to accept some individual who, whether for right or wrong motives, is unacceptable to them.
We must take into acount, therefore, the decision of the tribesmen themselves, which I hope will be obtained in the fairest and most democratic way that it is possible to organise in the circumstances. Whatever decision is finally made in this matter must inevitably be bound up with all kinds of risks, doubts, and difficulties. There is no easy way out, and the rights and wrongs are not all on one side or the other. There are risks, doubts and difficulties. We have to try to ensure that what I hope will be a temporary difficulty will be surmounted with the least possible and disruption among those Bamangwato tribesmen whose welfare must be our primary concern.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles (Down, North)
It has been said often in this House that no speech influences any vote at all, but I must admit that the speech of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has influenced me this afternoon. I came into the House knowing little or nothing about this subject. I had only read about it before: I had never heard it debated fully. I have heard a very good debate today in which there have been some excellent speeches.
First, I congratulate the Liberal Party for having raised this matter. I may not agree with them, but I believe that matters like this should be brought into the open, and that good and not harm should result from our discussion of this matter. In the conclusion at which I have arrived, when I find myself at difference with many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, I am modest enough to say to myself, "Am I wrong? I must be wrong." But when I hear the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) taking an opposite view to my own, I feel confident that I must be somewhere near the right side. The only thing that might 1288 shake me in my decision is the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), in which he seemed to start not from any argument but with the idea of trying to do his best to insult the Conservatice Party. Of course, that would help to drive me into the Lobby with my own hon. Friends.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton mentioned that Africans generally were ruled by fetishism. Of course, witch doctors exist today, but, from the little of I have seen of Africa, I submit the numbers in 1951 being ruled by fetishism is not the same as it was 50 or so years ago I have very great sympathy with Tshekedi. I cannot imagine a worse fate than being banished from one's own homeland, even to a country which is very close territorially. There is a foreign country which adjoins my own county Down—I would regard it as an evil fate to be banished there. I sympathise with Tshekedi Khama.
In his speech, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations pointed out again and again that the views of the Chiefs are still the same. He has given way to this House and to the Opposition in that he has promised to have another Kgotla. I think that that is a wise action. I support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart). It is time that we had a judicial inquiry. I noted that the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) said that not even £100,000 would tempt him there. But there must be someone to whom £100,000 is still a temptation. If we sent out a judge during the vacation, one might not tempt him with the £100,000, but if one paid the expenses of the judge and his wife, which would not be subject to Income Tax, that might be a far greater temptation than a large sum of money.
§ Earl Winterton
What I really meant to say was that I happen to have some interests in Northern Rhodesia, and that I thought it would be very improper for me to take any part, because I should not have impartial views. I hold very strong views, which are not those generally held, about the position of Europeans.
§ Sir W. Smiles
I think the noble Lord, from what he has said, would not be able, if he was a member of a judicial inquiry, to help acting judicially. I can remember 1289 him as a member of the Simon Commission and of the Round Table Conference on India.
Every suggestion that has been made and all the evidence put forward today has been in favour of what the Secretary of State has said. I believe in the district officers. I was for years in a country which was ruled by district officers, and they ruled me very well. They did not always find me right, but nevertheless, I have great confidence in the district officers whom I met in Basutoland. I am quite sure that, in what he said, the Secretary of State was on firm ground, and that he can trust Sir Evelyn Baring and the district officers. I think they have displayed exemplary patience in this matter.
On the geographical question, of course, South Africa is interested in this matter, and Rhodesia as well, and practically everyone of our Colonies will take note of what happens in Bechuanaland now. A judicial inquiry can do good, and cannot possibly do any harm. When I hear statements made in a backhanded way about South Africa, I must say that what impressed me very much out there was to see the high standard of education for Africans which has been provided by the Government of South Africa in their universities—a better university education than in any part of the Continent. From what I saw and have learned since. I think that real progress is being made in our three Protectorates in South Africa.
I would hope that the Prime Minister, when he winds up the debate, might amplify and extend what the Secretary of State has already said, and will also say that he will make this inquiry a judicial inquiry, because, no matter how good 640 Members of Parliament may be, I am inclined to think that I would prefer to be tried by lawyers and by judicial inquiry if I was in trouble myself.
§ Sir W. Smiles
My answer to that would be that I have made up my own mind, and that I believe in the judicial inquiry from what I have heard in this House today.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Two different factors have conspired to alter the speech which I was going to make today. The first is Father Time, because the time available to me has been cut down. People speak for far too long in the House. The other factor is the Secretary of State.
I listened to my right hon. Friend's speech with attention, and, as I heard him, I felt that there were hon. Members on the other side whose views would be altered by what he said, and the last two speakers have both said that their intention was to support that view. When I looked at the Opposition, I could see that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had put them on the spot. Contrary to what was thought 24 hours ago, I think there will be many more abstentions among hon. Members of the Opposition than there will be on this side, if there is a Division.
I should like to comment on an interjection made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) during the speech of the Secretary of State. I think he said, "I have a conscience." May I assure Liberals opposite that there are many liberals, with a small "I," on this side. There are many to be found among my colleagues behind me. We have consciences also, and, to me and to many of my colleagues, banishment is an evil thing—an evil and a cruel thing. To banish a man and send him far afield from his home and family is a savage thing and there are many, and not only Liberals, who have always thought so.
Deportation in Colonial Territories is a matter that needs examining very quickly indeed. Early in the beginning of this century we passed laws about deportation when hon. Members of this House had not the conscience they have now towards colonial peoples and when colonial peoples were less articulate than they are today and most of them did not comprehend what this sort of legislation meant. The Government in peace-time have for a long time had powers of banishment which, in democracies, we only give to Governments in war-time.
But since 1920 there has been a change of policy. I think the Leader of the Liberal Party mentioned that in 1923 we had passed an ordinance in Kenya and 1291 in 1933 a similar ordinance in Northern Rhodesia dealing with deportation. It means now that in those two Territories one cannot have deportation without a judicial inquiry. In Northern Rhodesia in 1933 an ordinance was passed similar to that passed in Kenya whereby a judge of the Supreme Court may order the arrest of a person if he conducts himself in such a way as to be a danger to the peace of the territory and after inquiry may recommend to the Governor the deportation of such a person from one part of the Territory to another or to any other of His Majesty's Dominions with the concurrence of the Secretary of State.
If these laws suffice for maintaining law and order in Northern Rhodesia and Kenya why cannot they suffice in every other part of His Majesty's Dominions? I think we ought to overhaul the whole of these laws on deportation throughout the Colonies. If banishment is even deserved how much more savage it is in the case of Tshekedi Khama when we are told today that there is nothing that can be shown to be adverse in his past conduct or his present behaviour? How must he feel when he is today many miles from his own people and from his home and his cattle?
We have been told by the Secretary of State what might happen if he returned. There is the danger of disorder. But I have listened to people saying that in the five months during which he was back in Bechuanaland there has been little of this disaffection. I have yet to be convinced that if he did go back there would be any more disaffection than there was during the last five months of the winter of last year.
Another point which I should like cleared up is the distinction between the public and private capacity of colonial subjects. We are told one cannot dissect the nature of a Bechuanalander or any other colonial subject in his capacity as chief or if he goes back as an ordinary individual. I have been told that a similar case has happened in Swaziland where a past chief was deported and went back and is now tending his cattle in the same manner as is suggested would Tshekedi if he were fortunate enough to have his desserts and go back again to Bechuanaland.
1292 We have been told what the Paramount Chief of Basutoland thinks about this affair. We have been told that he is in favour of the action taken by the Secretary of State. [HON. MEMBERS: "She."] I beg her pardon, but that makes things even better, for I have great respect for feminine intuition.
We have been told what the Africans in the geographical vicinity of Bechuanaland think about this, but I beg the Secretary of State to bear in mind what Africans are saying a little further afield. If we have white nationalism under Malan we have black nationalism not so far away, on the Gold Coast, and people like Kwame Nkrumah, who are the leaders and who have the faith and support of their own people, will call a conference not merely of Africans from the Gold Coast and Nigeria but will link it with other Africans in the Portuguese and Belgian Empires in the event of Tshekedi's banishment being continued— which many of us would not like to see.
I beg the Secretary of State to bear in mind the wider implication, for it is not just a matter of some hints about the ghost behind our shoulder in the Union. There is a much more substantial and, to my mind, more important section of the African population, which has a different colour but which is within our Empire, to which I hope he will pay much more heed than to some of the arguments advanced about the Union of South Africa.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)
I agreed with a remark made by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson)—as, indeed, I did with several points he made—when he claimed that around him, but not too close to him, were some hon. Gentlemen who had consciences. There has been a claim from the Liberals that they, too, have consciences. I am sure I can claim for my right hon. and hon. Friends that we have consciences as well —and I expect that there are consciences on the Government Front Bench; but I have yet to hear the voice of a conscience today.
This is a most difficult matter. Anybody who has listened to the debate will know how keen are the arguments and how divided are the opinions. As I shall attempt to show in my speech, the case 1293 made out for this Motion at the beginning by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) has been well made again, has been sustained and justifies a strong vote for it.
This matter involves emotion, suspicion, our personal honour and the honour of our country; and it involves our position in Africa. It involves, too, something very close to our hearts and minds— a matter of the fundamental liberties of man. On the personal side it also involves a man with a very fine record of service on behalf of Britain in the Bamangwato Reserve—Tshekedi. It involves officials working under His Majesty's Government, who also have fine records and great experience.
But the subject we are discussing tonight is not the conduct of officials but the wisdom or lack of wisdom of His Majesty's Government from time to time, the justice or lack of justice shown by them—in fact, their ability to handle what is certainly a very complicated but very important matter. At one time the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery asked why it was that with all these things which matter so much to the House this subject was not raised in the House a year ago. I can tell him that from my point of view it was because I had no opportunity of finding out the facts nor, indeed, had public opinion in this country been given the full facts.
It is only recently that we have had access to the facts of this case, and even though he may say that we have brought this matter up late it is surely as well that we have, when we have brought from him the statement he has made, and when we have had the speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on all sides of the House, showing us different points of view, different aspects of the facts and the different interpretations of what is going on.
Some of my hon. Friends—the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), and the hon. and gallant Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles), were two of them—pressed, in the light of this, for another judicial inquiry; a judicial inquiry into exactly what, I am not aware. It is not only because we are in doubt about the facts of this case that we are 1294 worried, and that I hope my hon. Friends —and others, too—will vote for this Motion; but it is because this matter concerns the rights of an individual—a matter for which this House has always shown the closest regard. I do not think that another judicial inquiry at this moment on the broad question of this tribe will affect that matter. It may be necessary at a later time, but I do not think that it deals with the main point of this Motion; and it is to that to which I shall now come.
The Government and the right hon. Gentleman have frankly stated that this is a case where, in their opinion, public good must prevail over private rights; but the right hon. Gentleman has made it quite clear that what he means by public good is what he thinks is the public good; and it is because he has not shown to my satisfaction or, in my opinion, to that of the House that there are over-riding interests of the public good of the Bamangwato Tribe that require the continued exclusion of Tshekedi Khama, that I consider the Government's policy in continuing the exclusion order is entirely wrong.
The right hon. Gentleman from time to time in his speech appeared as if he was falling back upon the tribe's decision in this matter, but this really was not at any time a decision taken by the tribe. It was a decision taken under the instructions of the Government; and, in any event, the Government are the paramount authority in this case, and are surely responsible, at any rate, to this House and to mankind for seeing that justice is done.
It is certainly true that there are occasions on which the fundamental liberties of a man have to be sacrificed to the security of the State or, in certain circumstances, to the requirements of public morals, but we must be very careful to see that, on every occasion when this is done, justice should be done; and, try as hard as the Government can, they cannot deny the fact that Tshekedi Khama was excluded from his territory without a judicial inquiry.
It is good to know that the right hon. Gentleman is considering altering the action of his Department so that judicial inquiry will always in future precede rustication or deportation. I understood that that was the purport of his remarks when he said that he was going to join 1295 his territories in the inquiry being conducted by the Secretary of State for the Colonies into deportation orders.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire has already made it clear that we on this side of the House take the view very strongly that there should be an arrangement for judicial inquiries before these rustication orders are carried out. There is no intention on my part in supporting this Motion to support the case—the absolute case—against the rustication order. That is not the argument tonight. Supposing there had been a judicial inquiry, while I know that there is evidence of opinion, what proper evidence is there that the result of Tshekedi Khama's return to his tribal area would be disorder, or would necessarily be a slowing down in the political development which the right hon. Gentleman has planned?
I would say that there is no evidence whatsoever that Tshekedi Khama is considering the commission of any crime, the formation of any conspiracy, or the active doing of anything himself which is likely to result in disorder. No charge has been brought against him, and my hon. Friends, particularly those who have been considering the importance, to their minds, of another judicial inquiry, should remember that at the background of this case there is the position of a man who has committed no crime, who has been charged with no crime, and who has had no allegations made against him that he himself is going to do anything likely to be criminal or contrary to law, or which is likely to result in the loss of public order.
Nor is there any evidence that Tshekedi Khama will oppose the developments the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. There is no evidence that he objects to the formation of administrative councils.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker indicated assent.
§ Mr. Low
Indeed, I think it is far otherwise. What is it that worries the right hon. Gentleman? It is the opinions of his officials and the reports from the Kgotla, or decisions which indicate that it is the view of the tribe that disorder will result from this man's return, and that it is the view of the tribe that they will institute non-co-operation with the Government and will, therefore, delay 1296 the achievement of the reforms which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind.
There is one point on this fear of disorder which I should like to bring to the attention of the House. In his speech this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman made much of this. He built up a spectre of bloodshed and disorder following this man's return. He has never made so much of it before. In fact, in his early statements—and I remember one on 25th May, because that happens to be my birthday—he said that there was a fear of disorder, but the implication was that he was not satisfied. I do not think he said he was definitely satisfied that disorder would follow. He said there was a fear of disorder. He has gone a long way from that today. What is it that has happened?
The House will remember that less than a year ago Tshekedi Khama was able to spend 152 days in all in his tribal area, and that no disorder followed. There was certainly a complaint that he was there from certain people who are, to put it at the lowest, opponents of Tshekedi Khama in his tribe. But is that really unexpected, with the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge of the problems of this particular tribe? There was, however, no disorder. Then there was the fear expressed in May that there might be disorder.
In a very strong speech the right hon. Gentleman has suggested that the return of this man to his tribal area will result in disorder. What has happened? I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he has over-stated his case, and I give this as a reason for it. In the last six weeks he has been considering, with Tshekedi Khama, a form of conditional visits by Tshekedi Khama to his tribal area, and he must presumably have taken into account the probability or improbability of those visits, even with officials, being followed by some measure of disorder.
Furthermore, he has definitely made an offer to Tshekedi Khama of the job of, I think, economic adviser to the Government in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Did he mean when he made that offer Tshekedi Khama was never to visit Bamangwato Reserve? I cannot conceive that that was at the back of his mind. We must assume that gradually over the past few weeks something has 1297 happened which has built up in the mind of the Secretary of State a greater fear of disorder. I wonder whether that has been built up upon evidence or upon rather frenzied and frightened information from certain people in that area.
This threat of disorder is, of course, at the root of the matter. The whole House is conscious of their responsibility to all the members of this tribe and, indeed, to all the tribes in the Protectorates and High Commissioners' Territories. They would not likely do anything by their votes which would add anything to the chance of real disorder. For the reasons which I have just given I consider that the Secretary of State has greatly overstressed to us tonight the danger of disorder.
If the danger of disorder is so high, following immediately upon the return of Tshekedi Khama, how conies it that the right hon. Gentleman is able to recommend to the House the proposal that Tshekedi Khama should go as soon as possible to a Kgotla which will be hastily gathered together? How comes it that the danger of disorder at that Kgotla is less than the danger of disorder that would follow Tshekedi Khama going back to his residence, going round his cattle posts and continuing his business? I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that Tshekedi Khama was prepared to give an assurance that he would take no part in the administration of the tribe. I believe that he was prepared to give that assurance: if not I should like to he challenged on that point.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
In a letter which Tshekedi Khama sent to me, he made it clear that he would not accept any such conditions and he must have his full political rights in the tribe.
§ Mr. Low
I understand that there is a difference of opinion upon this matter, and I will leave it there. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will find, if he looks into it, that Tshekedi Khama has expressed the view that if it was the Government's wish and instruction, he would, having got there, keep out of the administration of the tribe, at least until the end of the five-year period.
I want to come to the Kgotla proposals. First, I would say that the Kgotla is by no manner of means a judicial body.
§ Mr. Gordon-Walker
I have turned up the letter which Tshekedi sent to me. He says:In these circumstances I have no alternative but to claim my full rights as a private individual not only to continue my personal business of ranching, but to take such part in the political and administrative life of the tribe as is open to any other private individual.
§ Mr. Low
I do not want to get involved in the point which the right hon. Gentleman made this afternoon about ex-Regents being people who resume the mantle of a private individual. I will leave it there.
The Kgotla is by no means a judicial body, neither by Western standards nor by custom. I think that it is thought by some hon. Members that the Kgotla is a proper, native judicial body, but I am instructed that that is not so. I do not see how the House can expect to get out of the Kgotla a judicial decision in any circumstances whatever. In these circumstances—[Interruption.] The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has already, by his speech this afternoon, showed how little account he is taking in this matter of the importance of justice, and I am not surprised that he does not consider it necessary to have any judicial inquiry or approach to this particular problem.
But I do consider it necessary if we are to decide, as I understand this Kgotla is to decide upon the continued banishment or exclusion of Tshekedi Khama from this Territory, that there should be at least a judicial approach. Even if under normal circumstances there is not a judicial approach, I do not think in the present circumstances, with the prejudice raised on the subject, and by the right hon. Gentleman's speech that there is any chance at all of a judicial approach.
From the evidence we have had that it is quite clear that there are no authorities in high circles in the tribe who have formed a definite view against Tshekedi. All the reports that the right hon. Gentleman has given about the resolutions that were given to him when he visited the tribe or the telegram which he read to us this afternoon do not show anything more than a very prejudiced view by the opponents of Tshekedi against his return.
Let me come to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He more or less invited the House to approve the idea of a Kgotla 1299 and he said that Tshekedi ought to go to the Kgotla. He did not say anything about his followers. I hope that the Prime Minister will tell us whether his followers are to be allowed to go. I think they ought to be, for it will be a very poor Kgotla if half or more than half of his followers are excluded.
Furthermore, the right hon. Gentleman made certain statements about Tshekedi which must prejudice him in any Kgotla. He gave his own interpretation of Tshekedi's use of the powers of banishment, to which I am going to refer. He also said that there was great fear of the risk of disorder. He seemed to expect, and he said so in so many words, that the return of Tshekedi would be a disaster. For the Secretary of State to have said such a thing like that is quite incredible if he had at any time approached this matter from a judicial point of view.
I want to refer to the question of banishment. As I understand it, Tshekedi banished certain people because they committed crimes, but only after there had been inquiries or trials. The crime in one case consisted of an attempt at assassination of himself and in another case of poisoning one of his relations. In all cases the banishment was supported by the High Commissioner. The remarks of the Secretary of State were highly prejudicial.
I still believe His Majesty's Government have given no justification—they have given their excuses—for excluding Tshekedi Khama in the first place from the native territory. Everyone from the other side of the House, with the exception of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), has only supported the Government because of the mistaken view of the Kgotla proposal. I would ask the House to look at this matter not only from the short term and the fear of disaster in Africa, but from the long term. In the long run as well as in the short run the future of our country and its Commonwealth and Empire depends very much upon the confidence with which the Africans regard the way in which we deal with them.
We shall not carry them with us in our fight again Communism if they have no confidence in us. We shall forfeit that confidence if we allow a stain to fall upon our reputation for leadership over all for 1300 whom we have responsibility. We shall not help them towards self-government by setting before them an example of the arbitrary use of power to destroy a man's fundamental liberty. The Secretary of State may have been well-meaning, but he has shown himself, to the satisfaction of the House, to be injudicious. He has not emphasised the importance of the fundamental rights of Tshekedi. Well-meaning he may be; that is no defence. Conscious of the problems of State, he has forgotten the greatest problem of the State, the rights of man.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said that this was not a party matter. I fully agree with her. Sp did the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). It is not a party matter.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
However that may be, the issue is the liberty of the individual, and that is not a party matter. The issue, as the hon. Member for Rugby said, is one for all hon. Members of this House, in whatever quarter they may sit, because the personal liberty of the individual must be the concern of everybody. That is the issue.
Perhaps no more strange story has ever been unfolded in this House since the story was unfolded in Westminster Hall of Warren Hastings' warrant for the arrest of a prominent India leader. It is an extraordinary story, and it raises vital issues of different kinds. It raises the whole issue of banishment, and the right of banishment. The second issue it raises is whether this particular banishment is justified. Those two issues, though they are related to one another, are distinct and separate.
The right of banishment is a matter for this House. This House is the proper authority, and indeed the only authority, to discuss that problem. It is first and foremost a political problem, and whether this particular banishment was justified or not is first and foremost a legal problem. There is this difference between a legal and a political problem, that the legal problem is concerned mainly with the issue of truth or falsehood and rests upon a matter of evidence, and that the political problem is first and foremost an issue of 1301 right or wrong, good and evil. We are concerned with the first issue.
Banishment is one of the most formidable weapons that can be put in the hands of the State. Hon. Members will remember the scene in "Romeo and Juliet" when the friar enters Romeo's cell to announce the sentence of banishment, and Romeo says:Ha! banishment? be merciful, say—death.For exile hath more terror in his look,Much more than death: do not say— banishment.When we turn to our own common law we find that exile has never been a part of the common law of this country. If I turn to the language of Blackstone, he says this about exile:No power on earth, except the authority of Parliament"—that shows the responsibility that rests upon our shoulders. He says: "No power on earth"; not the power of the Crown, not the power of the Government, not the power of the right hon. Gentleman and not the power of the Prime Minister, but the power of Parliament—can send any subject of England out of England against his will.No, not even a criminal, for exile has never been sanctioned by the common law of this land except in the case of abjuration.
If we turn to the cases of banishment in this country we find that they are all based upon statutes, either statutes of Queen Elizabeth or statutes of George IV. What is interesting, when we examine the statutes, is to find what banishment was only possible in those cases where the criminal committed not merely a crime but a crime of such gravity that he had lost the benefit of clergy and therefore was subject to the sentence of death. Banishment in those cases and under those statutes was, without exception, an act of mercy mitigating the severe penalty of death. Those Acts have all gone by the board. This banishment would not have been possible except for the Act of 1907.
Now the first issue that arises here— and this is the appeal I am making to the Prime Minister—is that banishment should be abolished within the whole of the British Realm. I make that appeal with all the greater confidence because we are signatories to the Declaration of Human Rights, and the Declaration of Human Rights provides that no one shall 1302 be subject to "arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."All rights set out in this Declaration shall apply equally to the inhabitants of trust territories.This is a trust territory. The Declaration applies to that trust territory. We have signed that Declaration. Then we should implement it. I ask the right hon. Gentleman and his Government not merely to satisfy the demands upon this side of the House, but to satisfy the demands equally upon that side of the House, to satisfy the demands of all those who care for the liberty of the individual, wherever they may be in the world, to have this blot upon our legislation removed. That is the first point and that is the most important point.
I ask him for that with greater confidence still because there sits the Colonial Secretary. And already in the Colonies under his office this power which was in existence until a short time ago is being gradually removed. Why is it not being removed here? Why not make a clean sweep and come into line with our pledged word, with our pledged signature to the Declaration of Human Rights?
Now I come to another point. I do not want to keep the House very long. I can put these points, I hope, simply and clearly. Even granting the power of banishment, is this banishment justified? I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles) felt doubtful when he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). It is not often I agree with him either, but today I think the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch was right in the points he made about the form in which this banishment took place. The first we heard of it here was in the White Paper. Banishment of whom?
Under our own statutes we should only banish a criminal, a criminal who could be subject to the sentence of death. But we are banishing from this trust territory, despite the Declaration of Human Rights, a man who has committed no crime. Far from having committed a crime meriting death, he has committed no crime. Far from that he is a man whom the right hon. Gentleman has given today, as he has always given him, the highest character, a man who has ruled fairly and well for 23 years.
1303 And note this about the fears of disorder of the right hon. Gentleman if he be returned—the character of the tribe cannot have changed very substantially since Tshekedi left. If the tribe is a turbulent tribe today, ready for disorder, that must have been the character of the tribe for the last 23 years. But he ruled it without disorder; ruled it with firm and enlightened rule. This man, of the highest character, is banished, and in what form? It is not merely without trial, but a sentence in paragraph 9 of the White Paper, setting out the object of the judicial inquiry which is there referred to, says that the object of that judicial inquiry was to inquire into the case of Seretse for his fitness to chieftainship.
But even the findings of that judicial inquiry are rejected by the Government. They so fear, indeed, a substantial part of its findings that they decline to publish them. There is no suggestion even in the White Paper that any charge is made against Tshekedi. The first mention of Tshekedi's name is in paragraph 11, in which it is stated that Tshekedi should be kept out of the Reserve also—without even a charge formed against him.
Can anyone defend that form of trial? Can anyone defend that form or basis of banishment? Does that conform with anyone's sense of justice? Does that satisfy even an elementary sense of justice, apart from the common law, of any form of trial in this country? No one would attempt to justify it. It is a very striking thing to do. I have listened to the speeches in the House. There has been no justification of the action of the Minister or of the Government at all upon judicial grounds.
What is being offered? A new Kgotla—a political or quasi-political, body to deal with a judicial body. That is not a satisfactory body. A legal problem should not be dealt with by a judicial problem. Let this House deal first with the issue which it is fitted to deal with: whether banishment should be retained. If the House in its folly decides to retain banishment, then the only thing that can remain is a proper judicial authority.
Can any one deny that everything about these circumstances claims and demands a judicial inquiry? Can any one condemn a man with this record without a judicial 1304 inquiry? Can we put him upon trial in a mixed political body, even if we sent out Members of Parliament from this land to try him? Would any one say that this House, composed as it is, would be a judicial body to try anybody under these circumstances in this country? Clearly, it is not fitted. That is a matter for the judicial body. This body is not the body to try it.
I appeal to the Prime Minister to tell us tonight that this matter will be disposed of by this country and the Government honouring its pledge under the Declaration of Human Rights. Make no mistake about it, justice withholds its approval; reason rebels against these proceedings, and conscience without qualification condemns them. Let the law of 1907 be swept aside. There is, after all, a higher law than the law of 1907, a higher law than that law that will be determined in the Division Lobbies tonight; it is not by the numbers in each Division Lobby.
I hope that the Prime Minister will dispose of it without a Division—he can. He can dispose of it without a Division by saying that the Act of 1907 will be swept aside, that banishment will no longer obtain wherever British rule exists. If he does not elect to do that and it goes to a Division, the matter will still not be disposed of and it will be, indeed, a division, as the speeches on the opposite side testify. This is not a matter of political advantage. It is not a matter of balancing a public good against a private right. A judge has said that when you start riding that horse, you do not know where you are going.
This is not a problem in casuistry, that deep modern science which raises duties according to their relative order. If we once begin to resolve duties into doubts by drawing arguments too fine we cannot do anything but trespass on human liberties. Let the Prime Minister do what his followers want and which every freedom-loving person wants. A unanimous decision by this House would be the best answer to South Africa.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Woodford)
I shall not stand for more than a very few minutes between the House and the Prime Minister. We have had a deeply interesting debate and I think I may say that 1305 I have rarely listened to a debate which has caused more heart searchings on both sides of the House than this. The problems are difficult, they are undefined and we all of us want to give a right, honest, sincere, truthful opinion upon the issues which are before us.
The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) has unfolded with a considerable sweep the broad conceptions of human liberty which we cherish in our hearts and which, whatever the divisions, party divisions, between us, we should in the ultimate issue all stand and die together to preserve. Then there was the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party. It was not without very careful consideration that I and my colleagues on this Bench came to the conclusion that we ought to associate ourselves with the Motion, or with a version of the Motion, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had placed on the Order Paper and ought to use our facilities for securing an opportunity of it being debated by the House. We considered the matter very carefully and I must say it seemed absolutely right to make the affirmation of the opinion of Parliament which is expressed by the Motion upon the Order Paper.
A Motion of the House on a subject like this is not an executive act, although it is a strong act of guidance, a signal to the Executive Government, and leaves many solutions open to them, but it does give an opportunity for a true and fair expression of the opinion of the House upon the issues involved. I came down to the House with the intention of voting for this Motion and I am bound to say that what has occurred this afternoon in the speech of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations only makes me feel that I have no choice whatever but to carry out that purpose.
Everyone recognises the ability of the right hon. Gentleman and his courage and the frankness, candour and mastery of the subject which he presented to the House was admired in all quarters. But I did not like this last minute, alarmist telegram, the authority for which had not been fully presented to the House. I did not like that; one does not know how much that really represents and I do not think that after all these weeks and months of discussion the House 1306 ought to let itself be stampeded by a message of that kind and scattered by a message or that kind, read out at the last moment.
I did not like the alarmist telegram, but much worse than the alarmist telegram were the new proposals. How anyone with a clear conscience could possibly vote for the new proposals, put forward as a sort of sop and way out of difficulties to those on the other side of the House who have difficulties, I cannot imagine. A special Kgotla is to be set up, and two or may be three Members of Parliament are to go out there beforehand. Undoubtedly the Kgotla would, by its decision, have the absolute power to decree what would be the perpetual banishment of Tshekedi.
Tshekedi is undoubtedly a distinguished African and, whatever may be the inconveniences of his continuing to live in this world, like so many of us have to do, the fact remains that while he is here he has his rights and is perfectly entitled to due and proper consideration. But the proposal is that he should be invited to go out—dared to go out—and present himself to this gathering of 10,000 or 12,000 people. which is to be assembled by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and all his undoubtedly most impartial aides-de-camp on the spot and his assistants, and that this body is to pronounce whether this man is to be banished without his having committed any crime. For Parliament to commit itself to accepting a proposition of that kind is far worse than anything that we have been asked to consider today.
All of us here agree in loathing methods of Communism and Communist terrorism. I am told that in Communist China people are tried by a howling mob of many thousands and are then led off to be shot. Naturally, no one who has the decency to be a Member of the House of Commons would be responsible for that, but, nevertheless, there is something in the idea of a mob decision, of a violent decision, which is to inflict immense injury upon an individual without an appeal of any kind, which makes the whole of the proposal abhorrent and places the policy of the Government in a much sharper position of contrariety to our views than anything which we saw before.
1307 For this reason, I and my colleagues on this side of the House see no reason to change the opinion with which we came down to the House, namely, to vote for the Motion which has been so ably supported by speakers on this side of the House from both the Conservative and the Liberal Parties. We see no reason whatever to change our view on the subject. On the contrary, we propose to record it in the Division Lobbies.
We cannot compel the Government to take any particular executive action, but we hope that the fact that the Motion is placed in and recorded upon the Journal of the House of Commons as a decision of Parliament and as an expression of the modern view of the House of Commons will have the effect of stimulating the Government into finding some far better means of coping with the difficulties of the situation than that which the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has placed before us this evening.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
We have had a very interesting debate, characterised by speeches of great sincerity from all sides of the House. I think it is all to the good that, in the midst of present world affairs, this House should devote a day to the affairs of a small tribe in Africa, and concern itself with the rights of individual citizens. This is a non-party matter and it is a very difficult problem, on which opinions may well differ yet be opinions sincerely held.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations had to take a difficult decision in this matter. He went out to ascertain the facts for himself, to collect the views and to find out what was the position in this tribe. He stated fairly the conclusions he reached and the reasons for them. I think it a little unreasonable that when he has taken a decision which is challenged he should be thought to have prejudiced the case by stating what were his reasons and what was the evidence before him on which he acted.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition complained that he gave to the House the substance of a telegram he had received which came, so far as we can make out, at all events, from this tribe. I think it would have been unfair if, before a debate of this kind, the right hon. Gentleman had had a telegram of 1308 that kind and he had suppressed it. I think he was right to give it. It is not easy to deal with a matter of this sort, because we are dealing with a tribe which is still in a fairly primitive condition. We cannot judge of these things exactly as we would judge matters in a highly developed country such as ours.
A great deal has been said about the question of banishment. It has been found necessary over a number of years to have this power. Whether it should be continued or not is a matter which is now being considered by the Colonial Secretary with regard to the Colonies; and we are quite willing this should be considered also in relation to these Territories. But this has been a power which was found necessary. Incidentally, I think that the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who has great knowledge of these matters, was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies when this particular power was taken in 1907. I am not complaining in the least. It was found necessary, and it has been used by successive Secretaries of State for the Colonies, for the Dominions and for Commonwealth Relations on certain occasions. It may well be that this has to be examined, but it has been used also in support of tribal custom.
I would ask the House to realise that in these matters we are endeavouring to deal, not only with the rights of one individual, but the rights of all these individuals. We have to consider not only the individual, but the tribe, and we are dealing with a very small and concentrated community. We are dealing in this matter with a person who has been chief of that tribe over a very long period of years.
If we look back into the past we find that in small communities, at certain stages, banishment has been used. We all remember the case of ostracism in Athens. There was no complaint against the moral character of Aristides. Indeed, quite the contrary. But there were strong beliefs in this small community and, as a matter of fact, he was exiled for a period. There was a system in this country, when it was a small community, of outlawry, and there were occasions where a ruler, or a past ruler, or a member of a ruling house, had to be excluded in the interests of the peace and quiet of the community.
1309 In this matter there has been no judicial inquiry. There is no charge whatever against Tshekedi. I do not think that this is really a justiciable matter. It is a matter in which one has to consider the tribe and the people who ought to belong to it. I agree that this matter has to be dealt with very carefully. My right hon. Friend is not laying down that because the Kgotla reaches a conclusion, it must be carried out. But it is right that the opinion of the people most closely concerned should be sought.
I do not really think that a matter of this kind could be dealt with by a judicial inquiry. The hon. and gallant Member for Down, North (Sir W. Smiles) made a very interesting speech. He thought that there could be a trial. I do not think that it is a case for a trial. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford is quite wrong in suggesting that a Kgotla would be taking a judicial decision of any kind. They are not accusing Tshekedi of a crime. A Kgotla is a meeting of a whole community in which they decide whether they ask that a certain person should be chief or should not be chief, or that a person should be excluded.
§ The Prime Minister
Yes, or even exiled. This is not a matter in which it has been suggested that there should be a total exile, but, because of the controversies in the tribe, the conclusion was reached that the leading personality should be excluded for a period of years. That is the position that has been taken.
§ Mr. Churchill
If, for instance, Tshekedi was very ill-received by the Kgotla and booed and howled at, and so forth, and there was a great demonstration of hostility, would that be taken as justifying the Government in enforcing upon him exile for any period, prolonged or otherwise?
§ The Prime Minister
Not necessarily. That undoubtedly could be taken and considered as an expression of opinion. [Interruption.] Certainly. That is the point. I am sure that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have had the responsibility of dealing with people in various stages of civilisation must know that one has to consider opinion and native custom. One cannot just ride roughshod 1310 over them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad to have that expression of opinion, because the Motion before the House does ride roughshod over them.
The whole argument has been that this House should decide that Tshekedi should be received back by the tribe. A good deal of point has been made about unjustifiable fears of disruption expressed by my right hon. Friend. This is the opinion given to him by people on the spot. It has been said, "But Tshekedi was allowed to go into the Reserve for some time." The fact is that during that time there have been increasing apprehensions and increasing representations made about him. That may be right or wrong, but that is the information which my right hon. Friend has been given.
I was sorry that there was an attack on the Civil Service. I think that our civil servants out there have a very difficult task. They are doing a good job and I do not think that it is right to suggest that if a Kgotla is called it will be rigged by the Civil Service. Undoubtedly, the replies that were given were certainly not the replies which the Government would necessarily have looked for. I understand that these people take a very independent line, and it is suggested that this is a matter of some particular jealousy between different sections of the family, but, there again, it is very difficult to ascertain that. It is not often easy to find out what it was, though there was undoubtedly some trouble between sections of the Khama family, but that does not alter the fact that, where we get these difficulties between ruling families, they do create a very difficult task for the administrator.
We have suggested that the opinion of the tribe on this matter should be taken again, because doubt has been cast on whether my right hon. Friend did get a fair view of the wishes of the tribe. He took endless trouble, he went out there and talked with everyone he could meet, and he came back convinced that this was the view of the tribe. Whether or not it is thought that he is wrong, or that he desires reinforcement of that, we suggest that certain hon. Members should go from either side of the House. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman opposite poured scorn on that, because I have heard him say that there are no better 1311 people for forming a judgment than experienced hon. Members of this House.
This is not a judicial question on which you send out a judge. It is essentially a question of ascertaining the views of people, for which we need trained political minds. This has been done before. There was the question of Sarawak, on which an hon. Member from each side of the House went out to ascertain the views of the people of Sarawak. They came back and reported, and it was extremely useful. On another occasion during the war, three hon. Members of this House went out to Newfoundland, not for the purpose of giving a decision, but for informing the House about the matter.
After all, a Kgotla is not just summoned by a district officer; it is summoned by the tribe itself under the tribal laws. We should certainly see that Tshekedi should be given every opportunity with regard to his followers. I think his followers inside the tribe should come, but it is a matter of tribal law whether people who have left the tribe and have joined another tribe should take part in this Kgotla. My idea is that there should be the fullest opportunity given to him of stating his case at the Kgotla, and that there should be the fullest opportunity for the Members of Parliament present to ascertain just what the views of the tribe are, not only at the Kgotla itself, but by going round and in any other way.
I think we have fairly met the criticisms on this matter. It does come down to a question of administration, and I think that some of our lawyers make a mistake in thinking that it is possible to administer great colonial areas by a process of judicial decision. A judicial decision is for a certain purpose, but there is the matter of administration, in which the administrator has to act and take decisions. Here, in these three Protectorates, we have three places of vital importance to South Africa. Their people have done good service, as we know, in two wars. They are very loyal people. It is our hope to lead them on steadily to increasing self-government.
In the past, the Bamangwato tribe have been ruled very largely by one man and we are now trying to get a greater degree 1312 of democracy without breaking up entirely the tribal organisation—and I would stress that point. I think that everybody who understands the position in Africa knows the great danger of "de-tribalising" the peoples of Africa before anything adequate can be put in its place.
Therefore, we have been endeavouring to maintain the native organisation while leading them on to what we think is a fuller democracy. In this matter we have had these grave difficulties with the ruling family—the Seretse case and the Tshekedi case. Let me make it perfectly clear that the Government have never formulated any accusation against the character of these people. My right hon. Friend himself has paid tribute to the great service done by Tshekedi, but he has come to the conclusion, having been out there and having talked to the tribe and all the people, that there is a grave danger of disorder and the setting back of the tribe if Tshekedi again takes his position in the tribe. It is a difficult thing—everybody knows that—where a ruler comes back and tries to be a private citizen. It is extremely difficult.
My right hon. Friend went a very long way to try to meet Tshekedi in every possible manner. It is rather odd that when he did that hon. Members chastised my right hon. Friend by saying, "If you let him do that or let him have that, why did you not let him do this or that?" My right hon. Friend went as far as he possibly could to try to meet Tshekedi and he failed to get agreement. I suggest that the method proposed, by which the opinion of the tribe in full Kgotla be taken again with full opportunities for the case being put and with two or three Members of the House as observers, is the right way of dealing with this, and I ask that the House should not proceed with this Motion which, in my view, seeks to enforce a decision on the tribe against their will.
Question put,That this House deplores the decision to continue the banishment of Tshekedi Khama from the Bamangwato Territory without hearing or inquiring into the grounds for such banishment; and calls upon His Majesty's Government to rescind the order of banishment and allow him to dwell freely within the territory of his tribe.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 279; Noes, 300.1317
|Division No. 150.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McKibbin, A.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Maclay, Hon. John|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Gage, C. H.||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Arbuthnot, John||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Galbraith, T. G. D (Hillhead)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W)||Gammans, L. D||Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries)|
|Astor, Hon. M. L.||Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Maitland, Cmdr. J. W.|
|Baker, P. A. D||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr J M||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Baldwin, A. E||Glyn, Sir Ralph||Marples, A. E.|
|Banks, Col. C||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Baxter, A. B||Granville, Edgar (Eye)||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maude, Angus (Ealing S.)|
|Bell, R. M||Grimston, Robert (Westbury)||Maude, John (Exeter)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Maudling, R.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N)||Medlicott, Brig. F|
|Birch, Nigel||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Bishop, F. P||Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Black, C. W.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Monckton, Sir Walter|
|Blackburn, A. R||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C (Wells)||Hay, John||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Boothby, R.||Head, Brig. A H||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Bossom, A. C||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir Cuthbert||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Heald, Lionel||Nabarro, G.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Heath, Edward||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nicholson, G.|
|Braine, B. R.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W W.||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nugent, G. R. H|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Odey, G. W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Hirst, Geoffrey||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Bullock, Capt. M||Hollis, M. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W D|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Burden, F. A.||Hopkinson, Henry||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon Florence||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Perkins, W. R D|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Shannon, H.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)||Pickthorn, K.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N J||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W)||Hurd, A. R.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Clyde, J. L.||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Colegate, A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com Clark (E'b'rgh W)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hutchison, Col. James (Glasgow)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert (Ilford, S.)||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hylton-Foster, H. B.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Corbett, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow)||Jeffreys, General Sir George||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jennings, R.||Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Jones, A. (Halt Green)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon L. W||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Kaberry, D.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley)||Keeling, E. H.||Russell, R. S.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Cundiff, F. W.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Saiter, Rt. Hon Sir Arthur|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Sandys, Rt. Hon D|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lancaster, Col. C. G||Savory, Prof. D L|
|Davies, Rt. Hon. C. (Montgomery)||Langford-Holt, J.||Scott, Donald|
|Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Shepherd, William|
|de Chair, Somerset||Leather, E. H. C.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|De la Bere, R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lindsay, Martin||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Linstead, H. N.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Donner, P. W.||Llewellyn, D.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's N'rt'n)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Stanley, Capt. Hn. Richard (N. Fyide)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Low, A. R. W.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Storey, S.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Erroll, F. J||McAdden, S. J.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Fisher, Nigel||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Fletcher, Walter (Bury)||Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Fert, R.||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Taylor. William (Bradford. N.)|
|Fester, John||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Teeling. W|
|Teevan, T. L.||Vane, W. M. F.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)||Vosper, D. F.||Williams, Charles (Torquay)|
|Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Wade, D. W.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Thorneycroft Peter (Monmouth)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)||Wills, G.|
|Thorp, Brig. R. A. F||Walker-Smith, D. C.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Tilney, John||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Touche, G. C.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||York, C|
|Turner, H. F. L||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Turton, R. H.||Watkinson, H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||Webbe, Sir Harold||Mr. Grimond and Mr. Drewe.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Driberg, T. E. N.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Adams, Richard||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Albu, A. H.||Dye, S.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Edelman, M.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Keenan, W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Kenyon, C.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Baird, J.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E|
|Balfour, A.||Ewart, R.||Kinley, J.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon, A. J||Fernyhough, E.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Bartley, P.||Field, Capt. W. J||Lang, Gordon|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Finch, H. J.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Follick, M.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Benson, G.||Foot, M. M.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Beswick, F.||Forman, J. C.||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lewis, John (Bolton, W.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Lipton, Lt.-Col M|
|Blyton, W. R||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Logan, D. G.|
|Boardman, H.||Ganley Mrs. C. S.||Longden, Fred (Small Heath)|
|Booth, A.||Gibson, C. W.||McAllister, G.|
|Bottomley, A. G||Gilzean, A.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Glanville, James (Consett)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Gooch, E. G.||McGovern, J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||McInnes, J.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mack, J. D.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Grenfell, D. R.||McLeavy, F.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Grey, C. F.||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Burton, Miss E.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Gunter, R. J.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Carmichael, J.||Hale, Joseph (Rochdale)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Manuel, A. C.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Clunie, J.||Hamilton, W. W.||Mayhew, C. P|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hardman, D. R.||Mellish, R. J|
|Coldrick, W.||Hargreaves, A.||Messer, F.|
|Collick, P.||Hastings, S.||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Collindridge, F||Hayman, F. H.||Mikardo, Ian.|
|Cook, T F.||Henderson, Rt. Hon Arthur (Tipton)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.)||Herbison, Miss M.||Moeran, E. W.|
|Cooper, John (Deptford)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Monslow, W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham)||Hobson, C. R.||Moody, A. S.|
|Cove, W. G.||Holman, P.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Morley, R.|
|Crawley, A.||Houghton, D.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Hoy, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Hubbard, T.||Mort, D. L.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Moyle, A.|
|Daines, P.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Murray, J. D.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.)||Nally, W.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||O'Brien, T.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Deer, G.||Janner, B.||Orbach, M.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jay, D. P. T.||Padley, W. E.|
|Diamond, J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Paget, R. T.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Donnelly, D.||Jenkins, R. H.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Pannell, T. C.||Slater, J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Pargiter, G. A||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Parker, J.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham. S.)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Paton, J.||Snow, J. W.||West, D. G.|
|Peart, T. F.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wheatley. Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Poole, C.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Popplewell, E.||Steele, T.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Porter, G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Wigg, G.|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Wilkes, L.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Stross, Dr. Barnett||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)|
|Rankin, J.||Sylvester, G. O.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Rees, Mrs. D.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Reid, William (Camiachie)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)|
|Rhodes, H.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Richards, R.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. A.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thurtle, Ernest||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Timmons, J.||Wise, F. J.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)||Tomney, F.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.||Woods, Rev. G S|
|Ross, William||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Royle, C.||Usborne, H.||Yates, V. F|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Vernon, W. F.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wallace, H. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Watkins, T. E.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks.|
|Simmons. C. J.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|