HC Deb 16 March 1951 vol 485 cc1970-2067

11.16 a.m.

Mr. McKibbin (Belfast, East)

I beg to move: That this House, remembering the splendid service given during two world wars by His Majesty's subjects in the Colonial Empire and noticing with disappointment the decline in the numbers now serving in His Majesty's Armed Forces, regrets that the Government has failed to facilitate in consultation with Colonial Governments the additional use of colonial volunteers in defence of the cause of democratic freedom. Since I was lucky in the Ballot on the third occasion on which I had my name down, many hon. Members on both sides have asked me, no doubt jokingly, whether I intended to bring Ulster into this Motion. I have no intention of doing so. Ulster Members in the Imperial Parliament are not so parochial that they are interested only in Ulster. When it comes to discussing manpower and resources in rearmament, Ulster's contribution in the last two wars, in loyal volunteers and in the output of her shipyards and workshops, speaks for itself; and today the Royal Ulster Rifles are fighting in Korea.

The main subject of this debate was raised in 1947 by the hon. and gallant Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Brigadier Mackeson), who received considerable support from both sides. In fact it met with a considerable amount of approval. It was brought up again in defence debates in 1950 and 1951, but nothing was done about it except to make speeches. Once again, I have brought it out of cold storage in the hope that it will meet with a better fate, because today we are faced with a possibility of war with a combination of countries possessing limitless manpower, and I consider that the time is overdue for something to be done about it, apart from just talk and talk.

Many people think that wars can be won just by bombing, and there is no doubt of the importance and unpleasantness of bombing; but the last two wars, and the present one that is going on in Korea, Indo-China and Malaya, have proved that we still need the P.B.I., who have to go in and dig out the enemy with their personal weapons. In our present straitened circumstances we cannot afford to take many men out of industry or agriculture for this purpose, if we are to maintain, even on a reduced scale, the social services and way of life that we have built up, which are dependent mainly on exports, and at the same time make arms and munitions. We are thus driven to considering how the great resources and manpower of our Colonial Empire, which are very considerable, can best be used.

In May, 1945, we had 42,000 troops in our Colonies under arms, excluding Ceylon, Palestine and Transjordan. If an imaginative approach can be made to the matter, I can envisage once again such forces on a voluntary basis—I would stress that they must be on a voluntary basis—being built up to be used in the main to defend their Colonies but which could, should an emergency arise, be used in tropical areas outside Africa and for relieving British units in tropical stations. The East and West African Divisions served with distinction against the Japanese and the Italians in the last two wars. I would never suggest that they should be used in Europe, for reasons which are very obvious to me, at any rate. I will not go into the other reasons, but one reason which is very obvious to me is the effect of the climatic conditions upon them. I saw the effect of a Belgian winter on Indian troops in the 1914–18 war.

I believe that these colonial troops should be enlisted for three years, with six years on the reserve, and during the last six months of their training they should be taught such subjects as veterinary service, agriculture and simple plumbing and sanitation, which would be useful in the districts in which they live. If they were also taught the evils of Communism and the advantage of belonging to and helping to defend the British Commonwealth, we should, broadly speaking, be achieving the object of raising the standards of living and education of our fellow citizens in the Commonwealth and Empire.

The principal object of building up these Colonial Forces would be to replace the Indian Army, and Africa is the only place where we have the available reservoir of manpower to do so. The population of British West Africa is 31 million, and Eastern Africa, including Northern Rhodesia, 15 million. But I realise, of course, that this could not be done overnight. Equipment would be one of the principal difficulties, and, also, an agreement would have to be come to with the Colonies on their financial contributions. The Indian Government met the full cost of the forces serving in India and also of the Indian Army. It must also be remembered that India produced a vast quantity of weapons and equipment, and, although large quantities of up-to-date weapons were obtained from Great Britain, every year brought nearer the time when India could have equipped and maintained her own forces with modern weapons. I am not overlooking the provision of officers and N.C.O.s for training, but somehow or other all these difficulties must be overcome in the face of the existing menace to freedom.

I do not know the answer, but I selected this Motion because I considered it very important to create an opportunity for the experts on both sides of the House to tell the Government how these great resources can best be used to help the United Kingdom, the Colonies, the Empire and mankind. I am glad to see that there has been sufficient interest in the Motion for two Amendments to be put down. One is sponsored by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) who, with his usual pawky Scottish humour, informed me in advance that he would put down an Amendment which would improve my Motion. The other is sponsored by the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and supported by an imposing number of his hon. Friends.

11.25 a.m.

Lient.-Colonel Hyde (Belfast, North)

I beg to second the Motion.

I feel that it is a very great privilege for me to do this, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. Since my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin) and I are colleagues and together represent half the City of Belfast, it is an honour for us to bring this forward and also an honour for the city. I hope that the selection of this subject for discussion today will, as my hon. Friend suggested, demonstrate that Northern Ireland Members are not exclusively preoccupied with affairs concerning Ulster, and that, when there is an opportunity of discussing a question of this kind which concerns the welfare of the colonial peoples and the Commonwealth peoples, we can show that it is a question that we have very much at heart. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that, in moving the Motion, my hon. Friend showed considerable knowledge and sincerity and displayed a spirit entirely free from prejudice and partisan animosity.

The Motion refers to the splendid service which the Colonial Forces have rendered in the past. Of course, that service goes back long before the two world wars. It goes back to the 18th century and earlier, when old colonial regiments like the West Indian Regiment rendered gallant service in the wars of that period. That record perhaps reached its peak in the Second World War. The largest contingent of the Colonial Forces came from the African Continent, but there were many units from other Colonies. I had some experience of them in the Mediterranean and in the West Indies. There were contingents from Cyprus, Mauritius and particularly Fiji. Wonderful service was rendered in the Pacific by Fiji. The Maltese defended Malta, and in the Far East Malay and Hong Kong bore their full share of the fighting. The West Indies provided over 5,000 men for the Royal Air Force, on both ground and flying duties.

But of course the great bulk came from the Colonial African Forces. Something like 374,000 were serving in regular military units at the end of the war in 1945. They distinguished themselves against the Italians in the earlier African campaigns and later against the Japanese in Burma. They sent two full divisions to Burma—a wonderful record. In addition, thousands more served in pioneer units and other formations in other theatres of war. One brigade was even chosen to serve in General Wingate's picked Chindit force.

These troops made long journeys overseas and became accustomed to new conditions. Not only was their mental horizon extended, but many of them acquired considerable technical and mechanical skill in specialist occupations such as wireless telegraphy. Many of them rendered yeomen service in the Merchant Navy, and in the later stages of the war 15,000 colonial seamen were on duty, many employed in the engine rooms of the old coal-burning ships, and they suffered heavy casualties, certainly over 5,000. During this period many of them, both officers and N.C.O.'s, earned well-deserved decorations in all three arms of the Service, including two V.Cs.

My hon. Friend referred to the strength of the Colonial Forces at the outbreak of the war in 1939 and gave the figure as 42,000, but if he excludes Ceylon. Palestine and Transjordan, that brings the figure down to 37,800. That figure rose in the five years of fighting to the astonishing figure of 422,000—a twelvefold increase—but after 1945 the corresponding decrease was very marked and very rapid. In 1947 there were only 87,800 colonial troops, and the latest figures for this year which I have been able to obtain from the War Office show a drop to 47,800. Of those approximately 35,000 are from Africa.

The cost is frequently advanced by hon. Gentlemen opposite as one of the difficulties of maintaining colonial troops on a large scale. During the war the Colonial Forces which were so greatly expanded in size and strength came under the strategic and financial control of the War Office. Each colonial Government made a contribution to the cost of forces raised in its own territory although, of course, that contribution in many cases formed only a small part of the total cost. For instance, before the war the cost of maintaining the West African Frontier Force was£500,000 a year; today it is in the region of£2½million, and that is much more than the West African Colonies can be expected to bear in time of peace. Units such as the West African Frontier Force are transferred from one Colony to another as necessity arises, and, since the war they have been equipped on a modern and therefore on a more costly scale as part of the general plan of Imperial defence.

It is generally agreed that the cost of the internal security requirements of the Colonies should be met where it can by the Colonies themselves, and that any additional contribution in respect of Imperial defence should be divided between the Imperial Exchequer and the Colonies, where they can afford it. In the case of East and West Africa, 125 per cent, of the expenditure of 1939 is contributed. I mention this question of cost because of the difficulties which were advanced in respect of finance and equipment. In my opinion, however, the Government have taken too narrow a view. They have insisted on treating this strictly as a colonial question rather than as an Imperial, a Commonwealth, or even an international question.

If we ask what has been done to recruit colonial manpower since the international situation began seriously to deteriorate 12 months ago, the answer is rather disappointing: practically nothing at all. To illustrate that, I shall make a brief review of what has happened in respect of this question during the past 12 months. In the Defence White Paper which was presented to this House exactly a year ago, the following appears in paragraph 17 under the heading "Colonial Forces": A review of the colonial forces by the Chiefs of Staff Committee has been followed by consultations with the Colonial Governments concerned, and, in the case of the East and West African colonies, by a conference in London. The basic difficulty is that the cost even of the forces required for internal security is often beyond the means of the colony. Means of bridging the gap are under consideration. That was 12 months ago and the means still seem to be, to use that notorious and hackneyed phrase, under consideration.

The question has been raised frequently, both by hon. Members on this side of the House and in another place, during the past 12 months. During the debate which took place on that White Paper in another place last year, shortly after its issue, the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, raised this question and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander, in replying for the Government said: The noble Viscount is asking at the present time that we should consider going in for a large expansion of the use of Colonial manpower for military purposes, outside the actual military forces required for internal colonial security. That, of course, raises a number of issues. I would say at once that I should welcome—if the financial and other conditions could be made—the opportunity of having such expanded Colonial Forces. But, with all the other necessities which are pressing upon us in the military budget which we have, perforce, to present to Parliament in present world circumstances, it is extremely doubtful whether we could get an expansion of the size the noble Viscount seems to indicate. The question was raised again in the defence debate in this House last July. The right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said: Have the Government given consideration to the use of colonial troops, in particular in Malaya? I am told—I have no first-hand information of it—that there is sufficient trained manpower in East and West Africa to enable us to create, say, a division of jungle-trained troops to be made available for Malaya.

Mr, George Wigg (Dudley)

Will the hon. Member forgive me for interrupting for a moment? Will he face up to the difficulty experienced by the Leader of the Opposition during the war about the formation of East and West African divisions because of the opposition from South Africa? Is he aware that the order was given for the West African Brigade fin East Africa to withdraw and to return to West Africa? The point is brought out well in the second volume of the History of the War written by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill).

Lieut-Colonel Hyde

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman but I do not think that what he has said is strictly true.

Mr. Wigg

Does the hon. Gentleman advocate the formation of a division?

Lieut-Colonel Hyde

Perhaps I might complete the quotation which the hon. Member interrupted: Obviously if that were so, it would provide a most valuable reinforcement and a relief for our own troops. In that same debate the Prime Minister said: As I am advised, our colonial troops in Africa are about sufficient only for the internal security services that are needed. While I know that some of the African troops did magnificently in the Burma campaign, it must not be assumed that, because people are non-Europeans, they can necessarily serve better than other troops in Asia. We keep a careful watch on this matter and take the advice of our military advisers on the extent to which we can use colonial troops, and where they can best be used."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 514 and 600.] That was not really satisfactory, and the question was raised again by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington in the defence debate of 14th September. Replying for the Government, the Minister of Defence said: We have considered whether it would be possible to increase the number of units of colonial troops, but there are financial and other difficulties about that. For example, there is the difficulty of making such colonial troops agreeable to all the people in any particular theatre to which they may be sent.…We shall not close our minds to the proposition the right hon. Gentleman makes to us, and if and when, in our judgment, we feel it is desirable to increase the number of units in our Colonial Empire and from our Colonial Empire it will certainly be done. "— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th September, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 1387.] Five months passed and it did not appear that anything was done. The question was raised again in the defence debate on 14th February by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) who said: Why is it that the Government steadily refuse to consider raising a colonial army? They are calling up for two years young men in this country—a thing we have never done before in peace-time—and even when we have done it we are unable to provide the Forces which we regard as adequate to our needs; and yet we reject, almost without any consideration, the great reservoir of loyal, capable fighting men in the Colonial Empire. What is behind this attitude? Why is it that after five years of being pressed continuously from this side of the House the Government will do nothing about it? The hon. Gentleman then went on to indicate what function a Colonial Army could fulfil, mentioning the provision of garrison troops and the freeing of our British garrison troops in Colonial Territories for other duties. Then he went on to say: I do hope that when the right hon. Gentleman"— that is, the Secretary of State for War— replies to the debate he will not trot out the two usual alibis which we always hear when we mention this matter. One is that the matter is 'under active consideration.' We have had that for five solid years. The other is that it is no good to recruit men unless you have the arms ready for them. If we were to raise long-service troops from the Colonial Empire we could get them into formations, trained and disciplined, and supply them with the arms afterwards. The Indian Army is no longer available and under our command, but there is a great reservoir of officers from the Indian Army who would willingly take service in a colonial Army. When the Secretary of State replied, he said: The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) thought that a solution might be found in Colonial Forces. That subject has been discussed very often in the House. I think it is a question of degree. There are, of course, what are in effect non-British forces—Gurkha forces, the Malay Regiment, the African forces; and they are very valuable; but I think it would be a mistake to think that any quick solution could be found by a rapid increase in those forces, for the obvious reason—of which the hon. Gentleman was impatient but which is none the less true—that equipment is very largely a limiting factor."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 426 and 456.] That is all very well. We appreciate that equipment is the limiting factor, but that seems no reason why colonial troops should not be trained and developed and put into correct formation, without necessarily the use of arms and equipment. I know it is the custom in some quarters to sneer at a proposition of this kind. As recently as 3rd March the paper "West Africa" had this to say on the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey: A colonial army raised in this way might perhaps be called 'Gammans' own,'to distinguish it from the army raised by the late Mr. Fred Karno. It is all very well to sneer like that, but history can give examples where forces were raised and trained without arms because arms were not at the time available, and subsequently rendered useful service. I would refer only to the Ulster Volunteer Force or, more popularly, "Carson's Army", which was raised in 1912 to protect Ulster from the danger of being put out of the United Kingdom.

For two years the Ulster Volunteers were trained and drilled without any arms or equipment at all. It was only at the beginning of 1914 that they managed to get some arms, and almost immediately after that, when we were involved in the First World War, the Ulster Volunteer Force joined up almost to a man. They were out in France in very rapid time, so rapid in fact that when Lord Kitchener saw the first units embark he said to Sir Edward Carson, as he then was: "Your Ulster Division is the finest set of men I have yet seen." My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East, was, I am sure, too modest to tell the House this, but I will state for the benefit of the House that not only was he an original member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, but also of the celebrated Ulster Division.

This question was raised as recently as 10 days ago by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble), who asked the Minister of Defence what plans he had for the further use of colonial manpower. The Minister of Defence gave this now stereotyped reply: Considerable developments in Colonial Forces have taken place in the last decade. Nevertheless, the Government have by no means closed their minds to the possibility of further developments in this direction, despite the practical difficulties referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War in the defence debate on 14th February."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1951; Vol. 485, c. 436.] For the past year or more, as I have endeavoured to show, the Government have been stone-walling on this vital and important issue. Is it not high time that the Minister of Defence adopted a less negative attitude than that of not closing his mind to the possibilities of making use of these great reserves of colonial manpower for defence? Is it not also time that he did something positive about it? I hope that when the Secretary of State for War makes his reply for the Government, we shall hear some rather more encouraging news than we have heard in the past.

I would stress one final point, which is the voluntary aspect of colonial recruiting. I am sure that both sides of the House are agreed that there should be no question of conscription being applied in the Colonies at the present time. It is important in this context that the Colonies should realise that their acceptance of responsibility for their internal security must be accompanied by a willingness to contribute in men and resources to the defence of their Colonies and the Commonwealth, in defence of the cause of democratic freedom. This means the ultimate acceptance by the Colonies themselves not only of colonial and Commonwealth responsibilities, but also of United Nations responsibilities.

In my judgment, the Government have delayed overlong in this matter. They have had a great opportunity, which has been slipping away. They still have a great opportunity, through the tapping of this reservoir of colonial manpower, to make an essential contribution to the mutual defence of the freedom-loving peoples of the world. In so doing they will give a new meaning to that concept which guided the ancient Romans and which, in a later age, inspired some of OUF own leaders in the greatest periods of our history, the concept expressed in the words "Empire and Liberty."

11.46 a.m.

Captain Field (Paddington, North)

I beg to move to leave out from the second "the" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: Colonies and Dependencies invites the Government, in consultation with the Governments concerned, to investigate the possibility of raising further forces amongst His Majesty's subjects in the Colonies and Dependencies to-serve in the cause of democratic freedom. Superficially, there may not appear to be a great deal of difference between the Motion which has just been moved and the Amendment. In the time that I shall take this morning, I hope that I shall be able to persuade the House that a difference does exist and that this is very largely a question of the way in which the two sides of the House view this very great problem of our colonial responsibilities.

It is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite thinking that the Colonies should automatically contribute to Imperial defence as they have done in the past. The essence of the problem appears to be something which has not been mentioned at all or even touched upon by the mover and seconder of the Motion, namely, that we cannot rightly and morally expect the native peoples of the Colonies to make a contribution to Empire defence without making them feel that they have a real stake in the Commonwealth and have something to defend. It is not only, as it appears to hon. Gentlemen opposite, a question of the replacement of the Indian Army in some way or the saving of manpower at home. There are very many problems involved.

My intervention in the debate is based upon actual experience in the West African Colonies for two years during the recent war. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion used the words "colonial volunteers." The operative word there is "colonial." A good deal of my argument will be based upon this point: If the principles which obtain in the British Army were carried into effect in colonial areas, all would be well, but in fact this is not so. When I went to serve with the West African Frontier Force, one of the things which first came to my notice was that very few indeed of the soldiers were real volunteers, at any rate as I understood the word. The usual practice was for a government to indicate to the native rulers roughly how many men they expected their provinces to produce and the native rulers, who always show a desire, of course, to keep in with the central Government, merely farmed out their quotas among their village heads.

Mr. Niall Macplierson (Dumfries)

Would the hon. and gallant Member say whether that was during war-time, or in peace-time?

Captain Field

My experience is based on the facts as I knew them during the war, but I believe the same method obtained before the war. I shall be pleased to hear whether anyone has experience to the contrary. These village heads would in turn select from their villages all those men who, for one reason or another, they wanted to see out of the way. I am sure the House will appreciate that a Colonial Army recruited in this fashion presented some very curious problems to the European element sent out there to look after it. However, I am bound to acknowledge to the House that there was a small percentage of real volunteers who were attracted into the Service because of the regular pay, or the conditions which obtained, or the attractive uniform which the Army had to offer.

Of all the motley collection of natives of different tribes and different religions—the number of religions and tribes running into many scores in Nigeria alone— that came into the Colonial Army, I doubt very much whether one in 100 had the remotest idea of what the war was about or why they were being called upon to serve, or indeed, why they ultimately would have to go to Burma and maybe lay down their lives in that theatre of war. Therefore, before we make any hasty proposals for increasing the Colonial Forces and sending them to Malaya and other places overseas, we should deal with this fundamental problem of how to obtain the support of the African, freely given after he himself has judged of the issues and given out of a real belief in the cause to which he is being asked to contribute.

I have dealt very briefly with the problem of the recruitment of native soldiers and I wish to tell the House about the selection of the European element of the West African Forces. If there is to be any very great expansion of the Colonial Forces, there may be a difficulty in meeting the demand for European officers and N.C.O.'s, which must necessarily arise, particularly if the Forces are to be retained on their present basis.

Anyone who has been in the Army will appreciate that during the war there was a most unhappy tendency on the part of the units in England and the record offices in England to pick out for colonial drafts all those officers and N.C.O.s whom they wanted to see out of the way. Indeed, I freely confess to the House that I was sent out to the White Man's Grave because of a slight misunderstanding that I had with my commanding officer, which had a political tinge, and after that misunderstanding, I have never seen anyone posted so quickly in my life. I have no doubt that someone got on the phone and asked, "Which is the most dreadful place to which you can send an officer?" and they automatically thought of the West African Coast being, as it is called, the White Man's Grave.

I submit that it is not right that officers and N.C.O.s with the very great additional responsibility of serving in our Colonial Forces should be chosen in this extraordinary way. In some cases the results were deplorable. Some of the officers and men who were sent out had not the right temperament. [Laughter.] say this quite freely and leave it to the House to judge whether hon. Members are right in laughing at that point. They did not have the right temperament and this, coupled with the very difficult climate, led to some grave incidents which, although they may be forgotten by us here, are not forgotten by those Africans, who were affected by them. We must be quite certain that the officers and N.C.O.s who are sent out to do this very difficult and exacting job in a most difficult climate are fully suited in every way to the work, because it is directly upon them that the success or failure of a project which has the support of both sides of the House, will ultimately depend.

Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)

Does the hon. and gallant Member agree that they also should be volunteers?

Captain Field

I cannot answer that. I should think it would be very much better if there were selected volunteers, but I do not know whether the right number would be forthcoming. West Africa still has a very bad reputation, which in my submission is quite misjudged.

My experience was that the discipline and efficiency of the African units was directly linked with the trouble that a commanding officer and his subordinate officers were ready to undertake to try to appreciate the necessarily totally different outlook upon life of the African. For instance, when the time came for the 82nd Division to be sent to Burma, some units in that division had very large-scale desertions of native soldiers, those native soldiers being literally terrified, not of the rigours of active service, or the job they had to do in Burma, but of the long voyage over an ocean which the majority of them had never seen. The commanding officer of a unit near mine, who took very great trouble to explain the voyage and the journey to his Africans, was rewarded by having not one absentee, but other units, whose officers did not take the trouble had very large desertions.

Mr. Braine (Billericay)

I also served for nearly two years in West Africa, but my experience was not quite the same as that of the hon. and gallant Member. I wonder whether he could tell the House the percentage of desertions from combatant units? If my recollection serves me aright, the number of desertions was very small indeed.

Captain Field

I am open to correction, of course, but as far as I was informed, in the 82nd Division, which I was supplying at the time, there were some pioneer units whose desertions were upwards of 50 per cent.

Mr. Braine

But a pioneer unit is not a combatant unit. Will the hon. and gallant Member kindly inform the House, if he has the figures, of the percentage of desertions from first-class fighting units that were sent overseas?

Mr. Alport (Colchester)

How many pioneer units were on the establishment of the 82nd Division?

Captain Field

That is the point I was going to answer. If the hon. Member served with the West African Forces, he will know that the number of pioneer units in the 81st and 82nd Divisions—particularly in the 82nd Division—was greatly increased and was an integral part——

Mr. Alport rose——

Captain Field

Just one moment; I am going to answer. Jumping about like a lot of corks on a rough sea will not do any good.

Mr. Braine

But surely it is important to know the percentage of desertions which took place. What were the figures?

Captain Field

I am trying to explain to the hon. Gentleman—he ought to know if he was there—that the number of such units in the 82nd Division particularly was greatly increased so that they could act as head loaders in Burma, since the experience of the 81st Division indicated that the supply lines would be absolutely dependent on those head carriers.

It was most important that the pioneer troops should be of good quality and, as I pointed out, the desertions were not on account of poor quality troops but were, on the contrary, due to the fact that the officers in charge of units did not take the trouble to create sympathy and understanding in their units. My experience was that where the officers took the trouble to do that, they had very few, if any, desertions. My point is simply that we have to take a great deal of trouble, far more than we take with our Forces at home, in selecting the personnel for these units; otherwise the whole scheme will fall to the ground.

Another problem which we have to tackle in building up our Colonial Forces—and perhaps the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) will confirm this— is the great distrust that many British, particularly those in the Colonies, have of the educated native. That is my experience. After all, was not the British Empire, as envisaged by the party opposite, built up upon the prestige of the white race? A few people scattered over the whole world with a minimum of armed forces have in the past been able to maintain order and obedience under the most trying conditions. Such a structure could last only so long as the white man retained his hold on the key to that situation, which was education.

For example, Nigeria, where I served, has a population of upwards of 20 million people—[An HON. MEMBER: "Twenty-five to 30 million."]—well, let us say 24 million, but that does not alter my argument. Before the war—and as my analogy is drawn from before the war, perhaps my figure of 20 million is not far out—that country was administered by about 2,000 whites. It seems to me that those white people realised that if we could from those 20 million blacks, obtain 2,000 educated natives to take their places, they would be out of their jobs, and the whole basis of the system based upon white prestige would 'be undermined. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."]

What we on this side of the House are trying to do is to replace that outmoded system by one based upon co-operation, and this point must not be lost sight of in considering the problem of raising Colonial Forces. I submit that in this new system the Colonial Forces can play their proper part, but only if the problem is tackled in a way totally different from the way in which it was tackled before the war.

I would mention the great disparity which exists between the rates of pay for the African and those for the European soldier, which is based not upon efficiency or educational attainments but upon colour. In my own unit I had two or three African clerks who had matriculated and were most efficient at their work, but they received far less total pay than some of their European counterparts who did not come up to their standards of education or efficiency.

Then, too, in West Africa, and so far as I know in the other colonies, there exist side by side two systems of military discipline. As the hon. Member for Billericay may know, the commanding officer in the West African Forces has extremely limited powers over his European troops—no greater powers than he possesses in this country. The maximum he can award summarily is seven days C.B.

I would ask the House to note the great powers which the commanding officer has over native troops in dealing with them summarily. For example, if the person charged is a private—and this is without court-martial, this is how he can deal summarily with them in his orderly room— he may award imprisonment with or without hard labour for any period not exceeding 42 days. He may dismiss the offender from the regiment in lieu of or in addition to any other punishment. He may impose a fine not exceeding 10s. a day, levied by stoppages from the offender's pay in lieu of or in addition to any other punishment. He may award the punishment of confinement to barracks for any period not exceeding 21 days. He may, in addition to any other punishment, order the offender to suffer any deduction from his ordinary pay required to make good any loss or damage he may have caused.

In the case of an offence by a soldier on active service—and during the war all these units were considered to toe on active service—he can award up to 28 days' field punishment. I should mention that just before the war he had the power to award summarily corporal punishment up to 24 strokes. That, of course, was abolished just before the war.

Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)

No, it was not abolished before the war. It continued during the war, and I brought the matter up.

Captain Field

I am willing to accept what my hon. Friend says. I can only say that when I was in West Africa that punishment did not obtain in the area in which I was serving.

That state of affairs is most undesirable because if we are to succeed in getting educated Africans into the Army, both in the ranks or as N.C.O.s or officers, we shall have to offer them equitable conditions of service. It seems to me quite wrong that an African, who can be admitted into the British Army here on terms of equality with Europeans, is placed in a greatly inferior position in his own country.

I am afraid that the problem, as I have sought to prove to the House, is not the easy one which the mover and seconder of the Motion tried to make out. It is perfectly true, and I would like it to go on record, that African troops did splendid service during the war, both in Abyssinia in the early stages of the war, and in Burma, in the 81st and 82nd Divisions'. That was under conditions where the men could be kept fully occupied, and when they were led by a large proportion of European officers and N.C.O.s sent from England. But it seems to me that the usefulness of these Colonial Forces will be somewhat diminished if we are to furnish in the future a high proportion of European officers and N.C.O.s whom we can ill-afford to spare at present, particularly having regard to the far greater turnover which is necessary in the case of Europeans in that difficult climate.

Therefore, what we have to do is to create the proper conditions in the Colonies and in the Colonial Forces which will enable Africans to enter those forces at all levels—as privates, N.C.O.s and officers. That is bound to take time, and it is bound to be linked up with the social and constitutional reforms which are at present being carried out by this Government. I submit that the colonial native must be treated as an equal citizen in this Commonwealth of ours. He must feel at home in his own country, and he must feel that the Government of his country is his own Government, responsible to him, and that it is not a kind of fatherly trustee which goes back to the Secretary of State here in Whitehall, whether it be the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Secetary of State for War or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. In the same way, if in the present unhappy state of the world we desire Colonial Forces to assist us in defending democracy and freedom, which should be common to us all, we must be sure that this democracy and freedom is part and parcel of those Colonial Forces.

I am reminded of an incident which took place in the magistrate's court at Lagos, I think it was in 1942. At that time the magistrate there was a native woman called Miss Stella Thomas. One morning a European merchant seaman was brought before her for being drunk and disorderly. It took this man some time to realise that he was, in point of fact, being dealt with in a court of law, and—horror of horrors—the presiding magistrate was not only a woman, but a black woman. When he realised this, his abuse knew no bounds, and I should think it took fully five minutes to complete the extent of his vocabulary. When he had finished Miss Stella Thomas turned to the gaoler and said, "Take this man away and put him in the cells until he is sober; and above all, until he realises that justice is neither black nor white."

Mr. Dodds-Parker

He must have been a Socialist.

Captain Field

I submit to the House that it is upon this principle that we want to lay the foundations of our Colonial Forces.

12.12 p.m.

Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)

It is a great pleasure for me to second the Amendment which, as I am sure is the opinion of hon. Members in all parts of the House, was so ably moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field).

Mr. Dodds-Parker


Mr. Bing

I am particularly pleased to do so because my Army papers, like his, were marked "P.A.F." which hon. Members on this side of the House will know, stood for "prematurely anti-Fascist." If I did not join my hon. and gallant Friend in a West African frontier post, it was only because I was sent on a mission to North Africa so secret that neither I nor anybody at the North Africa end was ever informed of its nature. And if I had no opportunity of taking part in hostilities elsewhere it was owing to the mistake of being appointed a colonel when I was in North Africa which naturally necessitated my immediate recall and being degraded to a more proper rank in which I could serve in North-West Europe. But I have, since the war, had the good fortune to visit West Africa; indeed I have spent six times as long a period in West Africa this year as I have spent in Northern Ireland. It may be that that reveals the measure of importance which I feel that the House should give to the contributions of those two areas.

Mr. McKibbin

I presume that is why the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) knows more about West Africa than he does about Northern Ireland.

Mr. Bing

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman should have interrupted me in this way, and just at the point where I was about to congratulate him on his speech, which was, if I may say so, a most able precis of the editorial article of 3rd March in "West Africa." I regret that on the other side of the House where the hon. Gentleman was most audible there were not more hon. Members present, but those on this side who were in the fortunate possession of a copy of that periodical were able to follow his argument without being able to hear him.

If I might turn to his two digressions from "West Africa," so far as I was able to pick them up, his first suggestion was that the real fighting must be done by the "P.B.I." but that it would be better if the people of this country were engaged in industry rather than fighting, they being more suitable for this, and therefore we should have considerably larger contingents from the Commonwealth. Hon. Members know how much it is resented when, for example, it is suggested in the American Congress that it will be the duty of this country to fight any aggression, while it will be the duty of the United States merely to sit at home and provide the materials. When it is realised how much that is resented, it is easy to see how foolish it is to make such a suggestion in regard to the Colonies.

I think the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin) was one of the hon. Members who did receive a letter of support from the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). Northern Ireland Members are in that respect—very properly I think—divided into two classes; some received their letter, and some did not—the reasons I will not go into for the moment. But if he is one who received such a letter, then I wonder did he consult the right hon. Member for Woodford before he made his speech which, I understand, represents the policy of hon. Members opposite? He really should look at the books of the right hon. Member for Woodford. They are most instructive and very valuable. They contain secret documents which one would think would not normally be published. We are fortunate, therefore, to have the directive for the Minister of Defence on 6th March, 1941. There the right hon. Gentleman says: The three East African divisions and the West African division should not be organised in formations higher than brigades or small mobile groups adapted to the duties they have to perform. In fact, at that time the view of the right hon. Member for Woodford of the use to which our Colonial Forces should be put is that which now the French think suitable for our defeated enemies, the Germans. Is that really so? Because the point will have to be faced by the hon. Gentleman, or perhaps by some other hon. Member from Northern Ireland who answers upon the matter. I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir R. Ross), the military expert, is present. He knows how to deal with this aspect of the matter. In a message to General Wavell on 26th January, the right hon. Member for Woodford explained the reason why it was undesirable to use colonial troops. He said: I hope indeed that both South African Divisions now in Kenya will be in a few months moved to the Delta and that the West African Brigade will be sent, as promised, back to Freetown. On no account must General Smuts be discouraged from his bold and sound policy of gradually working the South African Forces into the main theatre. This is the issue upon which hon Gentlemen opposite must declare themselves. Do they prefer a defence of the Commonwealth by Colonial Forces or are they going to sacrifice the recruiting of those Colonial Forces to the racial prejudices of the Government of South Africa? That is a question to which we are entitled to an answer from hon. Members who put down this Motion which is, I take it—it not now being last night, Mr. Speaker—a serious proposal.

The hon. Member for Belfast, East produced a second reason why we should recruit Colonial Forces on this basis. He said it would be advisable to do so, in order that they might be taught the evils of Communism; and also he said, as my hon. Friend reminds me, that after they had learned this they could also be instructed in elementary plumbing. Would not it be better—and I should like to hear, and would willingly give way to, any hon. Gentleman from Northern Ireland upon this point—would not it be much better that they should be taught the terrible evils of racial intolerance and the terrible evils which can result from religious discrimination? Is not——

Professor Savory (Antrim, South)

Surely, Mr. Speaker, there is no religious or racial discrimination in Northern Ireland whatsoever?

Mr. Bing

I do not know if that was a point of order but if the hon. Member would like me to follow it for a moment I do not mind. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Londonderry present because there was a speech made in the election campaign for his election to this House by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Teevan) who, I notice, always leaves the Chamber when I get up to speak. So long as the hon. Baronet is present, I do not think that we need mind because the other hon. Member is absent. In an election campaign speech the hon. Gentleman defined treachery as giving a house or a job to a Roman Catholic. I do not want to be diverted into arguing that sort of thing, but when we come to deal with Malta, the George Cross island, we must remember that 96 per cent. of the population are Roman Catholics. The hon. and gallant Member for Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde) said a few words in praise of Malta. Does he believe that a Maltese should be allowed to occupy any position of authority if he is a Roman Catholic or if he possesses a foreign name?

Lieut-Colonel Hyde

Most certainly.

Mr. Bing

I am glad to think that there is a division in the Northern Ireland party; but that is not what they say in their official publications dealing with who ought to be elected to this House and who ought to have control of the Forces. They give one short direction to the electorate. They say: Watch the candidates who are being adopted to contest your constituency at the General Election. Ask them if they are Roman Catholics. Watch whether they have truly British names.

Mr. Speaker

Is it necessary to talk so much about Northern Ireland when really we are debating the Colonial Dependencies?

Mr. Bing

I appreciate the point perfectly, Mr. Speaker, but you did not stop the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Professor Savory) when he interrupted on this subject, and it is extremely relevant, when we are invited to ask people to fight for a democratic cause, to inquire exactly how we propose to present that democratic cause to them. The Colonial Empire does not consist entirely of Christians. It certainly does not consist entirely of Protestants. It consists of a great number of religious faiths. If we are to present any cause which those people think worth fighting for, surely we cannot ask them to come and defend a Christian civilisation, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford is only too anxious to do, and then say, "You ought to come in and defend this great Christian faith though you are not yourselves Christians; but, of course, come to us and we will tell you which are the right sort of Christians."

I turn to the other Amendment on the Paper in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) in line 4, to leave out from "Empire" to the end, and to add: and having regard to the increasing destructiveness and barbarity of the weapons, machines and explosives on which His Majesty's Armed Forces are now relying, is opposed to the recruitment of men and women from any part of the Commonwealth in which the conditions of complete democratic self-government do not exist. It is possible that that may not be called by you, Mr. Speaker, but I should like to say a few words about the general argument in that Amendment. While I do not see eye to eye with my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North on one point—that is, the extent of refreshment that one might be permitted—I usually find myself in general agreement with his views. In this case, I think that his opposition, and that of one or two of my hon. Friends, to our Amendment is a little misguided.

I hope that he will accept it from me that it is impossible in the African Continent to defend Africa from all these forces which might subvert the real policy for which this Government and the party to which I belong—I do not know about hon. Members opposite—are fighting. After all, it is not safe to say that we will not, in any circumstances, raise any Colonial Forces and that we will not see that they are officered and commanded by people of their own colour and people of their own nationality, when there exists in Africa a military State which has very often proclaimed that it would be prepared, disregarding entirely the rules of the United Nations and matters of that sort, if necessary to subvert by force the constitution in other parts of the Continent.

It is of the utmost importance that we should not, from sheer grounds of theoretical pacifism, leave undefended against what I consider to be—and these are the strongest words I can use—a regime which is even more objectionable than that of the hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent Conservative Northern Ireland; and that is the one which exists in South Africa. We drew up this Amendment—indeed, we took it off the Order Paper and altered it specifically, in order that hon. Members opposite, who no doubt feel very strongly on the Irish question, should not necessarily feel themselves called upon to defend all the time the position of Northern Ireland and so that they could put forward one or two constructive suggestions.

I regret that they have not done so yet, but I should like to refer the House to the Report of the Watson Commission into Disturbances in the Gold Coast. That illustrates perfectly the difficulties and problems which we face, and which must be faced if we are to raise democratic Colonial Forces. I take it that that is what hon. Gentlemen opposite are looking for—a democratic force and not an army of janissaries or mercenaries. The Watson Commission Report said: By far the most serious problem which the Administration has to face in the Gold Coast is the suspicion which surrounds Government activity of any sort. Its origin, apart from political propaganda, is disperse and often obscure. It does not attach to persons or individuals in Government service. It is an attitude of mind based on no one specific grievance. That it exists we had evidence on all sides. That it must be overcome is the hard core of the problem of healthy relations between Government and governed. Unless that problem is solved, there is no means of raising a Colonial Force; or, if a Colonial Force were to be raised, it would only be one which would in itself discredit this country and those associated with the raising of it. Our Amendment does not mean that my hon. Friends and I believe in increasing the number of head hunters in the British service. We do not believe in recruiting the most backward of Colonial peoples. What we do believe is that an African Army, or any other army anywhere else, which is officered and commanded by the people of the country, can give the people a healthy self-respect, which can, of course, be secured in other ways, but to which it is a powerful addition.

The Watson Report reveals exactly the dangers which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford foresaw, exactly the dangers which he was determined to guard against even at the cost, in the height of the war, of not making full use of our colonial manpower in the services of freedom. I much regret that not all the countries of the Commonwealth, or all the associated countries like, for instance, the Republic of Ireland, joined in fully in the war against Fascism. I much regret, for example, that it was impossible, through the conditions created, to have the same form of National Service in the North of Ireland as we had here.

Professor Savory

It is perfectly well known that the Government of Northern Ireland, all the Ulster Members and the whole of public opinion in Northern Ireland, were in favour of applying conscription. It was the British Government who refused to apply it, and the British Government had the power to refuse it.

Mr. Bing

Yes, but the difficulty with the hon. Gentleman up till now—and this is an interesting departure—is that he has always been in favour of maintaining the British connection.

Professor Savory

I am only explaining that it was impossible to introduce conscription in Northern Ireland in spite of the wish of the people and the Government and of the Ulster Members because the British Government refused it.

Mr. Bing

It was for the Prime Minister of the Coalition Government to set his own value on the team of Members available for the Coalition. While I do not want to criticise the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford in this respect in any way, he did not see fit to include any hon. Member for Northern Ireland, so perhaps the Northern Ireland point of view was not put as fully as it could have been. The effect of the argument which we heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford—and I use it as an illustration—is that if one attempted to enforce conscription in a country which had been divided between a ruling class and either a majority or a minority which they oppressed, this would produce an explosion which would make it impossible for one to secure any military support from that area.

Sir Ronald Ross (Londonderry)

The hon. and learned Member has complained that conscription did not apply to Northern Ireland. The Socialist Party voted that it should not apply to Northern Ireland. The Ulster Unionist Members all spoke in favour of the same rule on National Service applying to the entire United Kingdom. We not only spoke against the Socialist Party but I spoke and told against my own party because I thought we should bear the same burden in war and peace as was borne by the rest of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Bing

I appreciate that point. It illustrates a point which I have made for some time in this House. Even the Front Bench opposite see rather further than does the hon. baronet the Member for Londonderry the consequences of what they so rashly advocated. But I do not want to be drawn into discussion of Northern Ireland affairs. If the hon. Member for Londonderry desires to discuss them he should put a Motion on the Order Paper. He should approach the Leader of the House to give a day for it. Why should he try to intrude Northern Ireland into a debate on colonial manpower? I am prepared to give way to the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Professor Savory) or to the hon. Member for Londonderry but, in view of the fact that we drew up this Amendment so carefully to avoid any comparison between parts of the Commonwealth, it is unfair of them to introduce Northern Ireland affairs in this way when they do not try to secure a day for a debate.

If I may return to the arguments I was just pursuing, when one looks at the overall attitude of hon. Members opposite to any colonial problem one sees that while on a specific issue they may vote against the sort of ideas for which the hon. Member for Londonderry stands, they are always advocating those ideas. The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) in an article in which I am sorry to say he had the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. G. Cooper) advocated a course in the Gold Coast which would have made perfectly impossible any co-operation with the people of the Colonies on the basis of the Motion now before the House.

How can the hon. and gallant Member for Belfast, North, persuade Colonial people to come to the defence of the cause of democratic freedom if one pursues the course advocated by the hon. Member for Hornsey and deprives those people of all democratic liberties at home? Just before the election in the Gold Coast the hon. Member for Hornsey was making an attack on the bona fides and good will of the leader of the party which has provided the Government for the Gold Coast. Does he think that that approach is going to lead to a ready supply of volunteers?

It is no use saying that the Government were to blame. I do not know whether it was due to a page dropping out of his brief or to second thoughts, but the hon. Member for Belfast, East, in moving the Motion, made no reference at all to his censure of the Government, so far as we could hear on this side of the House. But the real basis of censure of the Government, if there is any, is that we have not dissociated ourselves sufficiently vigorously from the policy pursued with regard to colonial people by the party opposite and some of their more vociferous spokesmen.

I want to put a number of questions to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I hope to the hon. Member from Northern Ireland who will wind up this debate on behalf of the Opposition—and let us hope they chose one who has received the endorsement of their party. On what basis is this force to be raised? Is it to be raised on the basis of racial equality? Are we to say that whatever the colour of the person concerned, he is equally entitled to serve in the forces or are we to say that when he is defending democracy and equality his colour is a fatal bar to promotion? Are we going to say that his religion is to be taken into account when giving him a job? As I take it that the Conservative party support the Motion before the House, it is important that they should realise it is moved by people who are elected to power on the slogan that one religion should predominate over the other.

Sir R. Ross


Mr. Bing

It is no use the hon. Baronet trying to say, "nonsense." He will attempt to bring this subject in.

Sir R. Ross

Ha! ha!

Mr. Bing

Let the hon. Member for Londonderry read the speech made in his own constituency by an hon. Member of this House in support of his candidature.

Sir R. Ross

Mr. Speaker, may we have a debate entirely on what happened in my election campaign, or shall I be in order in discussing that in due course?

Mr. Speaker

We are getting very wide of the subject.

Mr. Bing

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to argue with your Ruling, because I do not take quite the same view as hon. Gentlemen opposite I think took last night as to the position of the Chair. As I understand, hon. Members opposite think it is the duty of the Chair neither to swerve to partiality on one side nor to impartiality on the other. Therefore, after I have made my submission, I shall be only too pleased to bow to your Ruling.

With all due respect, and I raise this as a point of order, hon. Gentlemen opposite, having come forward and been elected to this House upon a certain platform, now advocate a course in regard to raising forces in the Colonies which, according to their own Motion is …in defence of the course of democratic freedom. If we are to pass this Motion we would have to say to colonial peoples, "This is the type of democracy we want you to defend." The point of order which I want to put to you is this, Mr. Speaker. I will not mention any names, so as to make the question purely hypothetical, but suppose it had been said by an hon. Member closely connected with the Motion that it was treachery to give either a house or a job to a Roman Catholic, surely it would be relevant to inquire whether he proposed that that policy should only apply within the United Kingdom or whether it should be extended to the Colonies. After all, 96 per cent. of the population of Malta are Roman Catholics, and such a policy would prevent the raising of any Maltese force officered by Maltese people.

Mr. Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)

I think it is most improper of my hon. and learned Friend to make that sort of hypothetical case. Who said that?

Mr. Bing

Perhaps I might be allowed to deal with that intervention, because I would not like that there should be any injustice or suggestion of impropriety. It was the hon. Member for Belfast, West, who said that, speaking in the constituency of the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry, in a speech which was directed, and successfully directed, to securing the election of the hon. Baronet to this House. He said: When I said…that I felt that if fewer houses and jobs were given to Roman Catholics the position could be remedied, I was immediately subject to a bitter attack from the opposition. But I am not going to desist from my statements in this connection, for I firmly believe that it is due to the treacherous policy of allowing houses, farms and jobs to go to our opponents that we find ourselves fighting for our lives today. This Motion relates to circumstances in which we might find ourselves fighting for our lives, but who are "our opponents"? Is it the idea of hon. Members opposite that this force should be raised to fight against the Roman Catholics? For what purpose is the force to be raised?

I leave this point because it would be undesirable if we were to allow the well-known religious prejudices of hon. Members who have tabled this Motion to deflect us from the far more important question of racial discrimination. As far as the Colonial Forces are concerned, racial discrimination is a much more important issue than religious discrimination. It is perfectly true that the same people who defend religious discrimination are always the foremost advocates of racial discrimination, but I hope that if some of my hon. Friends speak later in this debate they will make it clear that any proposals which they put forward in accordance with the Amendment which my hon. Friend and I have proposed, will be put forward on the basis of a really democratic force—a force in which a pension will not be denied to a man because he does not happen to-worship in the same church as the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry, a force in which a job will not be denied——

Sir R. Ross

That is a singularly foul attack. I have been a Member of this House for 22 years, and the hon. and learned Member with his muck rake could have found out anything I had said offensive to the Roman Catholic religion if there had ever been such a statement by me. It is entirely against the principles of this House to make these foul imputations without any basis whatever.

Hon. Members


Mr. Bing

Hon. Members opposite should contain themselves for a moment. I know that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) would support General Franco, as he did in the past when he was supported by the enemies of this country. Therefore, I do not pay any attention to his interruption. I shall be perfectly prepared to withdraw provided the hon. Baronet the Member for Londonderry will repudiate, and will say that he had no part in or knowledge of and entirely disagrees with, the speech made at his own election by a member of his own party in his own constituency.

Mr. Speaker

We had better get away from the subject of Northern Ireland. It is quite irrelevant to this debate.

Mr. Bing

I appreciate that. Mr. Speaker, and I apologise to you for allowing myself to be drawn by hon. Members opposite on to that subject at all.

Mr. N. Macpherson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Some 10 minutes ago you gave a Ruling and said that the hon. and learned Member was getting far away from the subject in hand. For the last 10 minutes he has been on that subject. I ask for your Ruling.

Mr. Speaker

I have just given it again, and I hoped that the hon. and learned Member would abide by it.

Mr. Bing

I had left the point entirely, but the hon. Member for Belfast, East, half rose to his feet.

Mr. McKibbin

That speech was never made at the election of my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry. No such speech was ever made.

Mr. Bing

It was made on the 28th January, 1950.

Mr. Speaker

There is a suggestion on one side and a denial on the other. It has nothing to do with this debate and we had better leave it now.

Mr. Bing

Very well. It was published and it has never been denied. I have a photostat copy of the speech.

Perhaps I may now return to the main issue after this provocation by hon. Members opposite. I will turn to the main point. I am certain that the House as a whole does not endorse religious intolerance, and we can dismiss it. I should like to know whether hon. Members opposite also repudiate racial intolerance. We have heard various theories advanced about education, and we have been told that one should be judged by education and the like. But what is the use of denying education to Africans and other people on racial grounds and then condemning them as unworthy of democracy because they do not possess education?

I have spent rather a long time seconding this Amendment—[Interruption.]—but the time has been well spent. Therefore, I take a moment more to sum up so that my main points may be detached from the rather irrelevant and unfortunate attempt to drag the debate on to another topic. I hope that whoever is to reply will deal first with this racial issue, secondly with the issue of equality, and thirdly with the general concept that this should be a democratic force, a force where there can be provided real education and not, as has been suggested by the hon. Member for Belfast, East, merely some slight knowledge of plumbing. That is not the reason that the African Colonies should associate with the Commonwealth—to obtain in return for six years armed service a slight knowledge of plumbing. What we wish to see is a really genuine democratic force, and we think it would be better served if the House were to pass the Motion as amended, rather than in the unfortunate form in which it was drafted by hon. Members opposite.

12.50 p.m.

Mr. Gammans (Hornsey)

When I saw the name of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) on the Order Paper I did not imagine that it was there because he wished this morn-to express any great pride in the record of the Colonial Empire. I have not been mistaken. I thought it was there so that he could utilise his very great skill in logic chopping to try and bring in by a side wind his two pet theories; one is Northern Ireland and the other is the Government of South Africa. May I congratulate him upon the skill with which he has done it? He said his speech had been worth while. I, too, think it was worth while because it amused his hon. Friends——

Mr. Wigg

And annoyed you.

Mr. Gammans

It cheered up his hon. Friends and if there is one thing which is required today it is that the Government should be cheered up a little.

Nevertheless, I would much prefer to deal with the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field). Let me assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that we on this side of the House entirely agree with him that there can be no colour bar in a Colonial Army. The King cannot have first-class subjects and second-class subjects according to their colour. If there is to be a great Imperial Defence Force it must be on the basis of equality.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)

If that is a statement of the fundamental principles and beliefs of the Opposition, why were not those principles put into operation in the Colonial Forces during the time when they were in power in the years before the war?

Mr. Gammans

Those principles have been put into operation. There has never been a bar to Africans attaining commissioned rank.

Captain Field

Can the hon. Gentleman substantiate that statement? During the whole of the time when I was in West Africa I did not hear of anyone attaining the King's commission. There was, of course, the Governor's commission, of which a few were held. The brother of the magistrate whom I mentioned, who was a university graduate of this country, had to come from his own country to England to enter the Royal Air Force. In fact, he was the first West African in the Royal Air Force to fall.

Mr. Gammans

I shall deal with that in a moment because I want to criticise the Government's attitude over the Royal Air Force. The hon. and gallant Gentleman can take it from me that we on this side of the House do not support and would stoutly oppose any colour bar in any one of the Colonial Forces. What distresses me about hon. Gentlemen opposite is this. Not only in the speeches we have heard today, but in so many of their speeches they do not seem to bring themselves to express any pride in the record of the Colonial Empire. They talk about the future but they cannot seem to express any pride in the past. I should have thought that whatever might be our politics, whatever might be said against our pre-war and our war record in the Colonial Empire, there are two important things which can be said for it—

Mr. Bing rose——

Mr. Gammans

I cannot give way. The first is that the Empire stood by us in two world wars. I look back with pride, as I hope do hon. Members opposite, to the winter of 1940 when our fortunes were at their very lowest ebb and when even our good friends in the United States did not give us one chance in 10 of survival. Even at that time there was not one single Colony in the British Empire which did not rally to our side. If our record had been as bad as is supposed, that was a time at which they could have severed their connection with us. But not one single Colony failed to come to our help. Cannot that record arouse some pride in hon. Members opposite? What greater test could we have of the basic soundness of our policy?

Captain Field rose——

Mr. Gammans

The second point I would make is this. If at the moment the pound can look the dollar in the face it is not because of what we have been able to do about exports from this country but because of the exports from the Colonial Empire. That is why the dollar pool has filled. Surely those two facts can arouse some sense of pride in hon. Members opposite. Is it quite impossible for any one of them to get up at any time and say they are proud of the record of the British in the Colonies? This is not a record of any one party; it is the record of all the people of this country. Is it not possible—[Interruption.]—is it not possible on some occasion like this for them to express some satisfaction in what we have done?

Captain Field

Why cannot the hon. Member give way?

Mr. Wigg

He is not telling the truth.

Mr. Gammans

I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is not here because I want to talk not only about the Army but also about the Navy and the Royal Air Force. However much we may differ, there are three things upon which I hope we can all agree at this time— and the first is that we and the people of the Colonial Empire face a common danger. If Russian Communism were to spread across Europe or any of the other continents, it would not merely destroy our way of life but it would at the same time destroy every hope the people of the Colonies have of self-government and a higher standard of living. If there is a Third World War it will be world-wide in every sense of the term. There is no Colonial Dependency, no island in the far Pacific, which could possibly escape. Therefore do not let us talk about our fighting for the Colonies or the Colonies fighting for us; we are all in it together and either we all survive or we all go down together.

Secondly, in the Colonial Empire there is a great reservoir of knowledge. I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, North, that men entered the Colonial Forces only because they were forced to do so or were bamboozled into it or because some chief told them to join. I do not know what his experience has been——

Captain Field

On the spot.

Mr. Gammans

It must have been limited and singularly unfortunate if he has returned from his Colonial service feeling that people fight for us only because they are compelled to do so or because there is almost an element of trickery involved. I hope the hon.

Gentleman, who I am sure has every good wish towards the Colonial Army, will have another and better opportunity of seeing something of the traditions of the Colonial Forces and of understanding how deep is their loyalty to a common way of life and how fundamental is their loyalty not only to this country but, in particular, to the Crown.

Thirdly, at this great moment of crisis we certainly need additional manpower and resources from somewhere, not only in the military sense but also in the industrial sense. I wonder whether anyone appreciates that, even with a two-year conscription period—a thing we have never had before in peace-time—all we are placing at the disposal of General Eisenhower is four divisions, and they will not be ready for another year. The total strength of our long-service Regular Army is to be only 10 divisions, and of those 10 divisions the strategic reserve in this country is to be only one and one-third division. That is all we have in fully-trained, fully-mobilised troops, not only to defend this country against a sudden air attack; that is all we have as a strategic reserve to send to any part of the world.

At the moment trouble threatens in Persia. If we are asked to supply a contingent for the Middle East, we can send only men from this one and one-third division of Regular troops. I believe that never before in our history have we been in the peril which we face today. Before 1939 we did not have to fear an airborne invasion. At that time we had under our control the magnificent Indian Army of long-service, well-trained men. Without that army in the war we should not have held the Suez Canal and we should probably have seen the Japanese and the Germans joining up somewhere in the Valley of the Tigris.

I have only one comment to make on the Amendment put down by the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson). If the only armies which are to be recruited were from completely self-governing countries, the subject would no longer be the concern of this House.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

Order. The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is not entitled to read a newspaper in the House.

Mr. Wigg

I am sorry. I am following the hon. Gentleman's speech, but I am referring it to an article in this paper. My sight is not as good as it was, so I have to hold the paper close.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That may be, but there are ways and means of checking accuracy without appearing to read a whole newspaper in the Chamber, which is not allowed.

Mr. Wigg

With very great respect, I am sorry. I have not my glasses with me, so I was holding the paper up to see it, because I wanted to check what the hon. Gentleman was saying against what he had written previously.

Mr. Gammans

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reading my articles. I hope he will continue to do so.

Mr. Wigg

I follow the hon. Gentleman's articles and words with very great care.

Mr. Gammans

I am very glad to hear it.

Mr. Wigg

He should take care that I do not have occasion to stop.

Mr. Gammans

The other point I want to make is this. I cannot see why the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) should wish to deny to the loyal subjects of His Majesty in the Colonies the chance to defend their own countries. After all, we, too, are recommending that only voluntary enlistment should be considered. Why should we deny the opportunity to our fellow British subjects overseas to serve in the army if they want to do so? I do not know where the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend spent the last war, or spent the First World War, or whether they have ever had the chance to fight side by side with the men in a Colonial regiment. If they had had that fortunate experience, I think they would realise that the Amendment that they have put down is not only wounding to the sense of loyalty of the Colonial Empire but insulting as well.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

The hon. Gentleman has been discussing my Amendment. Do I understand that that Amendment is going to be called?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

As I understand it, Mr. Speaker has no intention of calling any other Amendment than that at present before the House.

Mr. Gammans

I think I am entitled to refer to the hon. Gentleman's Amendment even if it is not to be called. I am sure he would not wish to insult or wound the Colonial Empire, but that is what he is doing.

Mr. Sorensen


Mr. Gammans

He is, because his Amendment is wounding to their sense of loyalty.

There are four suggestions I want to make about the better use that could be made of Colonial manpower resources. First, in industry. Why is it we think of setting up armament factories only in this country. In the West Indies, for example, and particularly in Jamaica and the Barbados, there is, unfortunately, a surplus of labour. I am not suggesting that the West Indies can make tanks and aeroplanes, but would it not be possible to set up small arms factories in the Caribbean? In the old days in India we used to have small arms factories in India, where they made 303 ammunition and rifles. Why can we not do the same thing in the West Indies?

It is not only a question of making weapons, but of making military equipment. There is a boot and shoe factory in Jamaica. Cannot it be enlarged to make boots for the Army? How about in Malta, where again, there is, unfortunately, a surplus of labour? Cannot we deploy some of our factories in these Colonies? Singapore, for example, has considerable machine and engineering capacity. Can anything be done there, not only on the military side but on the naval side as well? I do not want to suggest how it should be done—by shadow factories, perhaps; or, perhaps, by enlarging existing factories—but I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies to the debate, will say whether these things have been considered, or, if they have not, whether he will promise that they will be.

The second point I want to make is this. I have always believed that we could raise at least one division of Colonial troops, primarily for garrison purposes. When the Prime Minister told us in the House the other day about our 10 Regular divisions he did not use the phrase that the 10 divisions had been actually "formed"; he talked about the "equivalent" of 10 divisions. I suppose he meant that in these 10 divisions are these odd battalions and odd batteries of British troops scattered all over the world. There is one battalion in the West Indies; there are several batteries in Gibraltar there is a battalion or two in North Africa and in Eritrea.

These men are doing garrison duty, without ever having a chance to be brigaded with other troops, and without ever having an oppdrtunityof being trained with really modern weapons. The proper place for those men, in my submission, is Germany, or the strategic reserve in this country. The duties they are at present called upon to undertake could be done, in my opinion, by long service Regular men recruited from the Colonial Empire. That is garrison duty.

In the third place I want to show that we could have fighting troops as well. I believe we could very quickly recruit one complete division of fighting troops, with the chance of more troops later on. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Paddington, North, has paid tribute— I think quite righdy and eloquently—to the gallantry of the African divisions in Burma. The fighting qualities are there, the ability is there; and while those men may not be suitable for European conditions, or conditions in cold countries, they are certainly very suitable for the tropics and semi-tropics—and have we not a first-class war going on at the moment in Malaya? I believe that we can raise this force, and that we can do it very quickly.

Captain Field

Would the hon. Gentleman deal with the point I raised, namely, that these soldiers should have at least 6ome knowledge of the cause for which they are fighting?

Mr. Gammans

I do not think they are so simple that they do not know what they are fighting for.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)

The hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, North, is insulting.

Mr. Gammans

They are not as simple as all that.

Captain Field

How does the hon. Gentleman know?

Mr. Gammans

How does the hon. and gallant Gentleman not know? What, I think, the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not realise is that there is such a thing as the simple loyalty of simple people—something, possibly, that he has never envisaged—a loyalty to the Crown, loyalty to the Empire.—something that does not necessarily require a knowledge of algebra.

I want to suggest that we should try to recruit these men very quickly, but I am hoping that we can set up somewhere in East Africa a great military centre— a sort of African Aldershot—where we could very quickly produce part of the strategic reserve. I am going to suggest to the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, North, that it is very misleading to think of Colonial troops only in terms of his own war-time experience.

I would certainly postulate two things for the Colonial Forces. The first is that the men should be long-service men. The second is that they should have the very best officers. Those are the two conditions. I do not myself like the idea of officers in the Colonial Services being seconded from the British Army. I think it would be far better if we followed what we did in the Indian Army. In that Army the officers came into the Service knowing that they would serve the greater part of their time with the men whom they were going to command.

I do hope we can persuade the War Office not to be too hidebound over this. I have never forgotten my own experience with regard to the formation of the Malay Regiment. In the years I was in Malaya, we had a battalion of Sikhs, and a battalion of Mohammedans, and then a battalion of Burmese. The question was asked, why not raise a Malay regiment? Out came the standard War Office answer, that Regular military service would not appeal to the Malays because of their particular temperament. However, at last, someone was prepared to do something about it, and, as the House knows, the first battalion of the Malay Regiment did a wonderful job of work in the retreat to Singapore, and today there is more than a brigade of Malay long-service troops fighting in Malaya. That experience has always taught me that we should not necessarily accept what I call the standard hand-out from the War Office.

My fourth point is this. I think that there is scope for labour battalions—with better results, I hope, than those which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Paddington, North, would have us believe, from his experience, obtained during the war. If we are to re-arm throughout the whole Commonwealth there will be lots of jobs, such as building aerodromes, roads and water supplies, that can be done by men of labour battalions who have not perhaps the stamina or the aptitude for ordinary military service.

Is there not great scope too for the direct enlistment of men from the Colonies in all three Services of the Crown? Do we still recruit Maltese stewards for the Royal Navy? Could anything be more depressing than the answer given in this House on Wednesday last to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) who asked whether men from Jamaica could not enlist in the R.A.F. The Secretary of State for Air said they could if they came over to this country to enlist. Does that mean the Government does not really want them? That is really what it boils down to? If we want men from Jamaica, or any other Colony, to join the R.A.F., is it not possible to have them medically examined on the spot? Is it not possible to send a trade board out there so that they can be what is called "trade tested"?

The truth is that up to now the Government have never thought of the possibilities of direct enlistment in the three Armed Forces of men from the Colonial Empire. Why not? Why should we not do it? Are there not many jobs that could be done by them? For example, in Germany today we are dependent on the Germans for officers' batmen, for driving motor lorries, for manning telephone exchanges, and for a vast variety of jobs. In fact, without the Germans, the British Army in Germany would be completely immobile. Could not those jobs be done by men from the Colonial Empire? Could not that principle be accepted?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin), who moved this Motion, expressly stated that these Colonial troops could not be brought to Europe because they could not stand the climate.

Mr. Gammans

I would point out that the Colonial Empire is not comprised only of people from the tropics. In any case, I am only giving that as an illustration of the sort of jobs that could be done. If the Germans can do them, why should we not get our own kith and kin to do them?

We were told the other day that there are no fewer than 168,000 non-fighting elements in the British Army. I do not know what a "non-fighting element" is. I suppose it means the fat tail of a modern Army. With imagination, many of those posts could be filled by volunteers from all parts of the Colonial Empire so that we could get more than four divisions of fighting troops in Germany, and so that the strategic reserve in this country could be more than one and a third divisions.

I should like whoever replies to tell us quite frankly what the policy is on this question of direct enlistment. Is direct colonial enlistment into the Royal Navy possible? I would guarantee to go out to the West Indies and raise the crew of a sloop from the Cayman Islands alone. These are men with a long tradition of the sea and great loyalty over many centuries. If only there was that sort of imagination we could have great reinforcements to all these Services.

Those are the four specific recommendations that I want to make, and I say this in conclusion. If ever there was a chance for a great Imperial enterprise, surely it is here, in the first need of us all, and that is the need of defence. This country by itself cannot defend its own shores, and it certainly cannot defend the Empire. But with the Colonial Empire by our side or in a voluntary capacity we can face anything. It is time that we thought sometimes not only of the forces which are against us but of the enormous forces that can stand by our side if we have the energy and the imagination to produce them. It is no good the Government talking about raising a standard of living, and doling out constitutions all over the Colonial Empire so long as the Colonial Empire stands the risk, which it runs today, of being overrun by Russian Communism.

My last point is this. Just as in the two great world wars we managed to gather to our side this great effort of loyalty to a common cause, to the Crown and to the Empire, so now that opportunity is once more offered to us, and I hope that the Government will not fail to take advantage of that opportunity through either timidity or lack of leadership.

1.15 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

There is no Member of this House who has done more harm to the prestige of this country in the Colonies than the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans). [HON. MEMBERS: "You have."] In my opinion, there is nobody who has done more damage to the cause of this country in the Colonies than that hon. Member, and I now propose to tell the House why. I must say that on hearing him use the phrase "simple loyalty of simple people" I almost boiled over with indignation, because there is no one in this House whose mind is more tortuous, more tricky or more cunning than that of the hon. Gentleman. On 17th October last he wrote an article in the "Daily Telegraph." The memory of that article is burned in the minds of the people of the Gold Coast, and I want to say a word or two about it.

The hon. Gentleman went out to West Africa in the company of a Mr. Sayers from the Conservative Central Office, and their expenses were paid for by Major General Spears. As a result of that article, the shares of the Ashanti gold company, of which General Spears is chairman, fell from 35s. 6d. to 29s. in 14 days. At the end of 14 days the profits of that company were announced——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

The hon. Gentleman is now going beyond the terms of the Amendment.

Mr. Wigg

It is very necessary, Sir Charles, if the hon. Member for Hornsey comes down to this House and talks about the simple loyalty of simple people, and urges the people of the Gold Coast to defend the cause of this country, that I should expose the hon. Gentleman for what he really is, and that is what I propose to do. I intend on a future occasion to raise the matter in this House again. I now pass on.

The hon. Gentleman—with his usual fairness!—said that no hon. Member on this side of the House ever paid any tribute to the Colonial Forces or spoken in commendation of their record during the war. That is not true. He specifically challenged hon. Members on this side, and in particular my hon. Friends who put down the Amendment, as to why they did not say a word in support of the Colonial Forces and their record during the war. My first word in this House in my maiden speech in 1946 was to commend the gallantry and loyalty of the Colonial Forces, and I pleaded that the Government should take steps to build up the Colonial Empire and the Colonial Forces. Of course, the difference between myself and hon. Gentlemen opposite is that I do not see a Colonial Army as a substitute for the Indian Army; I do not see the Colonies as a vast reservoir of manpower to be drawn on purely in the interests of this country.

At the last Election I had an opponent who is one of the Tory Party's great authorities on the Colonies, and he made statements which were never repudiated, although he was visited during the Election by the right hon. Member for Alder-shot (Mr. Lyttelton). These were the words he used about the Colonial people: It is difficult to convince a Socialist or a missionary that most negros are on a lower human plane than the white man, but there is no doubt that such is the case. I fought the Election on that. I believe that it is a bestial anti-Christian belief. Neither during that Election nor since has that been repudiated by the party opposite, although they were specifically challenged during the Election in a letter in the paper which has been referred to so many times during this debate. They were specifically challenged whether they stood by that doctrine. And they now come along and talk about raising Colonial Forces to defend the cause of this country on a voluntary basis. The hon. Member for Hornsey talked about using Colonial manpower for industrial purposes. This is what my opponent said: The native population is not dense, but at least for the present there is an adequate supply of cheap manual labour. The Tory Party has never repudiated that statement. It meant presumably that this labour force could be used in the Colonies in order to undercut and undersell, and eventually put on the breadline, British workers. As far as I know, that view has never been denied by the Tory Party.

Mr. Gammans

Could the hon. Gentleman tell us which attitude he is adopting? Is he suggesting that African workers should be paid less or paid equal to British workers to put them out of business? Which is it? I am not quite sure.

Mr. Wigg

I want to do everything possible to raise the standard of life of people throughout the Colonial Empire, because I believe that only in that way can we get the economic and social stability which will begin to appeal to West Africans, and to East Africans for that matter, to defend the cause of democracy.

May I now turn for a moment to the question of the Indian Army? It is quite clear that this is one of the major heresies held by the Conservative Party. During the defence debate, the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Brigadier Smyth) charged the Government by saying that we built up no Colonial Forces to replace our Indian Army. Then again, on 8th March, the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) suggested the formation of an African division. He said: I think we ought to form colonial divisions to take the place, to some extent, at any rate, of the Indian Army."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1951; Vol. 485, c. 753.] What hon. Members opposite do not seem to realise is that the Indian Army was not all Indians. Tied up with it was a considerable amount of British manpower. In India at the outbreak of war there were some 50,000 troops serving in British units, and in addition there was a very considerable number of British officers and other ranks actually serving with the Indian Army.

Another point touched on by the hon. Member for Hornsey was that in India there is growing up an armaments industry which, within a reasonable period of time, could be expected to be able to equip the forces there arrayed, whereas with a colonial force we should have to rely upon our own equipment. What hon. Members opposite do not realise is that a study of the military history of this country shows that never at any time have we been caught out only by shortness of manpower.

Goodness alone knows, in 1914 our Forces were small enough, but by the end of September, 1914, it was not only men we were short of but small arms ammunition, entrenching tool handles, high explosives, and all the articles of equipment a modern Army uses. At the present time, what holds off the building up of forces for the defence of Europe is not only men but materials, and if we did what the hon. Member for Hornsey has just suggested, and tried to raise a colonial division, it could only be done by taking that equipment either from ourselves or from other formations associated with us in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer


Mr. Wigg

Another consideration to be remembered is that the Indian Army was an advantage to us because India paid the bill, not only for all Indians serving in the Indian Army and all British officers and N.C.Os. serving in the Indian Army, but also for the non-effective charges for the 50,000 or more British troops stationed in India, whereas if we raise colonial forces of any size the bill has to be paid by this country.

We have no right to expect these Colonies to pay for more than the cost of maintaining their own internal security. It is obvious to anybody who knows, that places like Gambia have not the resources to pay for anything, let alone paying for any forces which could be raised there. It is an absolute fallacy to charge the Government with neglect because they have not built up a force that is comparable in any way to the Indian Army. It just cannot be done, and in any case it would be a very long-term policy. Certainly, even to begin to do it one has to remove from one's mind completely any idea of using the Colonies merely as a reservoir of manpower. The days for that are gone. They are damned and dead, and thank goodness for it.

May I turn now to an article which was written by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport)? It was a very interesting article which appeared in the "Evening Standard." He put various points but with very great respect to him I would say that he does not seem to begin to understand the fundamental aspect of this problem. I hope the House will forgive me if I dwell on it, although I have referred to it in previous speeches.

At the outbreak of the war there was an Inspector-General in East and West Africa in charge of the forces in this Colony. The control was completely under the Colonial Office, but, the Inspector-General with a very small number of British officers and N.C.O.'s trained both the West African Frontier and the King's African Rifles. They were seconded from the Army, and their pay, allowances and non-effective charges were borne on the Colonial Office Vote. In fact the responsibility for British personnel passed from the War Office to the Inspector-General.

In West Africa there happened to be a very great soldier, General Giffard. I have paid tribute to him before and I shall do so again. Without the genius of this man we should never during the war have been able to raise the forces that we did raise. Be it remembered that before the war we recruited in West Africa a very inconsiderable number, judging by the demand made by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The number was about 8,000. All those men were drawn from the Hausa-speaking people. It was the policy of the Colonial Office that British personnel should learn Hausa. Officers were sent out for a sufficiently long tour, about three years in all.

When war came General Giffard had then to begin recruiting en masse, which was subsequently done up to a ceiling of between 150,000 or 200,000 men. To do this he had obviously to go outside the Hausa-speaking people. As a result, he had to recruit men from places like Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast and Nigeria. He decided, after consultation with the powers that be, that the lingua franca should be English. I know that the hon. Member for Colchester will not like a lot of what I have said, but this problem is a basic one. I remember only too well that I went out to both West and East Africa, not, I hope, for the reason which caused my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field) to go there—but one never knows. I remember being told that misunderstandings had occurred in action because of the inability to understand English. Although General Giffard pushed his policy of using English as a lingua franca, not very much was done about it.

I am sure that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Paddington, North will agree that that was so. The war-time problem is still with us. If we want to get a West African force of any size, we must decide to adopt English as the lingua franca. This will give advantage not only to ourselves but to the West African Colonies. I said this is my maiden speech. I have not taken the trouble to bore myself by re-reading my speeches, but I have said three or four times in the House that the teaching of English is the core of the Colonial Army problem. We have to make up our minds on a point which the hon. Member for Colchester appears to have completely overlooked when he urged that officers who join the Colonial Forces should learn native languages.

Mr. Alport

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that my experience is rather in East Africa than in West Africa, and that there are some differences.

Mr. Wigg

Yes, that is so.

Mr. Alport

I fully agree with the hon. Member that English must be the lingua franca of any Colonial force.

It was as a result of action taken at the end of the war, when we realised that it was contrary to the whole tradition of the King's African Rifles, that it was introduced for that purpose. At least as far as East Africa is concerned, it is absolutely essential that two languages should be available. One should be the lingua franca of the Africans themselves, Swahili or Chinyanga, and the other should be English. It is a great advantage if the British officer or N.C.O. is able to speak the African language as well.

Mr. Wigg

I entirely accept that. There is a great difference between East and West Africa. I will come to the matter of East Africa in a moment. I am happy if I can take the hon. Member with me this far, that as far as West Africa is concerned the language ought to be English. The reason why some of us are eager for English to be adopted is simple. I have inquired into the number of languages in Africa, including dialects. According to one authority there are in Nigeria alone over 100 languages and dialects sufficiently distinct to be on the borderline of being regarded as languages, and the vast majority of them have no alphabets.

The Gambia, a strip 300 miles long and about five miles across, has no fewer than five, and I suppose that does not include French, which is spoken by a considerable number of the people. In Sierra Leone there are eight, and in the Gold Coast 17, and of those in Nigeria 43 are officially recognised. In no single Colony have all these languages an alphabet. If we want these men to join the forces, they must be taught to use modern weapons. They performed very great technical service, particularly in connection with anti-aircraft, during the war, and I am sure that they could do that again, but to learn the use of technical weapons they must have access to the training manuals, which are in English.

In East Africa we are up against a different problem. I agree with the hon. Member for Colchester that the tradition there is based on Swahili and Chinyanga, but I remember that during the war when the battle was being fought out as to whether the language should be English or not, the necessity arose because the units were raised from a wide area and there was also the problem of cross-posting. As a result, it became necessary to use English for the East African Forces, and that decisoin was taken, but there were terrific political differences and there was definite political discouragement by the white settlers.

Mr. Alport

I am sure that the hon. Member, who has raised a very interesting and important point, would not like to misrepresent me. There was no opposition in East Africa to the decision taken by the G.O.C. to make English the language of the K.R.'s. The reason for the decision was not because of cross-posting between Africans of Chinyanga and Swahili regiments but because the new officers and N.C O.s coming from Britain were unable to learn the native languages sufficiently to carry out their training effectively. There was no opposition by the Europeans.

Mr. Wigg

That may be the view of the hon. Gentleman, but it was my duty during the war to go to East Africa and to talk about this problem, and my recollection does not tally with his. I remember a decision being taken while I was out there. By the time I got back to London I found that, because of pressure being applied at a very exalted level, the decision had been reversed. I am not doctrinaire or dogmatic about it. I understand very well, and have some sympathy with, the feeling of people in East Africa, and, while I do not approve of it, I understand it. I do not expect this language problem to be put right overnight.

I hold the view that the battle between East and West will be fought out in Africa, China and India. I am not one of those who are over-persuaded of the importance of Europe, although I realise that it is important. I believe that the battle for the souls of men will be fought out in the African, Asian and Indian continents. One of the ways in which it can be fought is by using the armed forces as an instrument of social progress. I shall probably get hoots, whistles and sneers from my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) on that point—I have had it all before— but I hold that view. I said it when I first came to the House and I repeat it now.

On the other hand, I believe that some hon. Members opposite, although they may not agree with the emphasis which I put on my priorities, are at one with me in the object I am pursuing and that is to keep men whose culture and colour are different from mine inside the British Commonwealth on terms of absolute equality and equal partnership and equally sharing responsibilities and rights. But we cannot do that on the basis of racial discrimination.

I read to the House an article published at the time of the General Election by my Conservative opponent, in which he said that the black men are not human beings in the sense that white men are. I believe that view to be wholly unacceptable to many hon. Gentlemen opposite, but the impression is abroad that there are hon. Gentlemen opposite who are much near to the racial ambitions of South Africa than they are to the concept which I have put forward. The Conservative Party were challenged about this at the General Election, but in the height of such a battle it might not be convenient to repudiate it. However, I should be very glad if today some hon. Gentlemen opposite, even on their own behalf, would specifically repudiate those words.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

Did the hon. Member read a newspaper report, or was it from the candidate's actual address?

Mr. Wigg

It was an article written by Major Farren, and it had wide circulation in the Midlands and attracted very considerable attention. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) knows all about it. It was never repudiated. The Conservative Party were challenged in a colonial newspaper to repudiate it, but that was never done. I understand why, but I think that they ought to repudiate it. I am not making party capital out of this. The gentleman who wrote those words is no longer an official candidate for the Conservative Party. But the Colonial people have long memories and it would be a very substantial contribution to colonial well-being if the words were repudiated. The words were: It is difficult to convince a Socialist or a missionary that most negros are on a lower human plane than a white man, but there is no doubt that such is the case. May I turn now to my pet theme of using the forces of the Crown as an instrument of social progress? I remember during the war reading with great interest the report of a Committee set up by the late Oliver Stanley on mass education in Africa. Hon. Members who read that report will find in it a great deal about what happened in Russia and China. I was impressed by the fact that those two countries managed to compress into a decade social and educational processes which would seem to us to take a thousand years.

On my return I tried to find out how it was done. I discovered that in the case of the Soviet Union it was done by the Red Army. I am not advocating methods used by the Soviet, nor am I advocating the methods used by China, but I make the point that the raising of armed forces need not necessarily be wholly bad even to those who, like my hon. Friends below the Gangway, have pacifist views. An army called up, understanding the purpose for which it is called up, engaged in operations of which it approves, can be an instrument for social betterment.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Would the hon. Member apply that to Korea?

Mr. Wigg

There may have been mistakes about Korea, but I am discussing a serious subject. I am accepting the views of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House who urge that we should do something about raising Colonial Forces; with this proviso, however, that we should always have in mind the social and political effect of the action we take. I hold the view that we cannot speedily set about the task of removing illiteracy and of introducing social discipline, in a society which for countless centuries has been static but which, under the influence of two world wars, has begun to move. One can see how much it has begun to move by looking at the growth of the population in the great towns of West Africa. There has been a breaking down of the tribal system and a movement away from the backward areas into the towns.

It is our job to find the industry whereby these people can earn a living. Also, we want to fire their imagination with the great task of raising the standard of life themselves. It cannot be done exclusively by this country. Even if we wanted to do it, we have not the teaching and industrial staffs available. It has to be done by Africans, and we have to find some simple instrument with which to do it- It may be that I have my head in the clouds, but I know of no other instrument which can do it as well as the Army. I found that even the most diehard settlers in Kenya have a real affection towards the coloured people there. I do not approve of their paternalism, and there is a lot I could condemn, but at bottom they want what I want.

Having said some hard things earlier in this debate, I want to convince hon. Members opposite that from the time I came into this House I have been utterly genuine in wanting to raise the standard of life, and I am prepared to use the Armed Forces of the Crown to secure that object. I hope, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen opposite will appreciate my sincerity.

1.45 p.m.

Mr. Alport (Essex, Colchester)

It is, I admit, with some surprise that I find myself agreeing with certain sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Dudley Mr. Wigg). Surprised, because I have disagreed with him in the past just as passionately as he himself said he had disagreed with me. I deplored equally strongly, as I am sure other hon. Members on both sides have done, the exhibition we had earlier from the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). Nothing can be more calculated to assist the cause of those illiberal elements existing in certain parts of Africa, than the sentiments of that contribution.

I disagree however on one point which goes to the bottom of the argument of the hon. Member for Dudley. He said that we on this side of the House were anxious to raise a colonial army in order to defence the cause of this country. That is something which had not crossed my mind and I do not think it has crossed the minds of my hon. Friends. We would hope to raise a Colonial Army in order that the colonial peoples might make their contribution to the common cause which is ours as much as theirs. We on this side of the House feel that we in this country are perfectly able to look after the security of our own homes. What we want to ensure is that that security, those freedoms, and the improving standard of living which we believe our way of life can produce, will be equally secure to the colonial peoples who are associated with us, and that they would not only want, but are entitled, to take part with us in the defence of this cause.

Mr. Wigg

I am glad to hear the hon. Member say so. I hope he will go on saying that at the top of his voice. I was not trying to make a party point, and I did not want to be unfair, but I studied this matter with some care. If the hon. Member will look at the debates on Defence and on the Army Estimates, he will find that many of his hon. Friends said, "Why have you not had a Colonial Army to replace the Indian Army?"

Mr. Alport

May I take up one other point made by the hon. Member, the quotation from some article from the period of the last election which has not been brought to my notice. If the hon. Member cares to contact me afterwards, I will show him an article written by an hon. Member of this House which, by inference, repudiates those sentiments. If he sees that, I think he will be satisfied that his point is answered.

Mr. Sorensen

Before the hon. Gentleman continues, did he not appreciate that some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) could be interpreted as meaning that one need for an increased Colonial Army is that we could draft some of the personnel into Europe, not for African colonial purposes at all?

Mr. Alport

I, like many other hon. Members in this House during the last war, fought the cause of England, of Europe, of Western civilisation, of Africa, of Asia in many parts of the world. If a war should come and is centred in Europe, it would not be unreasonable to expect people, from whatever part of the world they come, to join us here. In my view it would not be centred simply in Europe, and there would be plenty of opportunity for service in many other parts of the world as well.

I want to make one protest as sincerely as I can. Hon. Members opposite are constantly attacking my hon. Friends and myself for our attitude towards racial problems. I have heard expressions used by speakers opposite—particularly by the mover of the Amendment which sent a shudder up and down my back. I heard the hon. Member refer to "a motley collection of natives" as a description of men who had come, many of them purely voluntarily, to enlist in the' West African Army. Just as other hon. Members who use the term "blacks" should refrain from doing so, hon. Members should refrain from using these terms, which might not seem much to us but which are regarded as terms of contempt by Africans.

Those of us who have followed the discussions on this subject during the last 12 months have noticed the very great reluctance and the constant evasion of the problem which has characterised pronouncements the Government have made. In a recent defence debate the Secretary of State said: I think it would be a mistake to think than any quick solution could be found by a rapid increase in those forces. He was referring to the Colonial Forces generally. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde) has shown, so far from there being even a gradual increase in the number of the Forces, the size of the Colonial Forces has substantially decreased, even during the last year, and we see from the War Office Estimates that whereas the establishment for 1950 was 69,200, in 1951 it is to be 65,400. So that, instead of any expansion or improvement in the situation, we are in fact going back. The reason the right hon. Gentleman gave for this development was, that this was for the obvious reason …that equipment is very largely a limiting factor."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 547.] We have reached a very serious situation indeed if, in spite of the enormous decrease in the number of men under arms in this country and the very substantial rundown of Colonial Forces there is not a sufficient stock of equipment and arms available even for the limited demands of an increased Colonial Force.

It is common knowledge that there were in East Africa very substantial supplies of equipment, and after all we are not needing, nor do we want to deal for this purpose with, highly technical ultramodern equipment. What we should be perfectly content to have, if we were expanding as I believe it is essential we should expand, would be the same sort of equipment as was available to the East and West African Forces at the end of 1945. What can have happened to the equipment, which certainly was available then?

It would be monstrous to think that it was taken out of East Africa, because the expense of transport would certainly not justify that, and it would be ridiculous to suppose that that could have happened because that was the time, as the right hon. Gentleman will recollect, when his predecessor was in process of building a very large supply depot at Mackinnon Road in order to supply the needs of forces in the Indian Ocean zone and to act as a reserve supply base for the Mediterranean. So far as we know this equipment was not taken out. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to say where it is now and why it cannot be made available for the East African Forces for their expansion.

There is a very strong feeling amongst those who have served in African Forces, those in this country and also in Africa, that there is a prejudice in the War Office against an African Colonial Force. It is a prejudice which I believe to be entirely wrongly based. If the right hon. Gentleman will get up and deny that that prejudice exists, we shall be delighted to hear it. But I can assure him that the idea that it does exist is felt very strongly at present.

It is believed, and I think this is a reasonable way of putting it, that African Colonial Forces are in fact difficult and rather a nuisance from the administrative point of view. But they are no more difficult and offer no greater problem, indeed in many cases considerably fewer problems, than those which were produced by the Indian Army. Although I deprecate any tendency to try to regard an African Colonial Force and the old Indian Army as parallel problems—because they are not—at the same time I am convinced that we could, by quite different methods and quite a different approach, get at any rate as good a standard of performance from African formations as we got from the great Indian Army in the 1939–1945 war.

What would be the advantage of having a Force of this sort? Here I agree with certain points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) that the East and West African Forces would have four roles. First it would provide a general strategic reserve and there is nothing to make us suppose, particularly in view of very recent happenings, that the only danger spot in the cold war of a very important nature, is Europe. The Persian Gulf, and Malaya obviously are alternatives and the existence of a strategic reserve on the eastern Coast of Africa, would be of the greatest advantage to us.

Mr. Bing rose——

Mr. Alport

No, I am arguing seriously, and I do not want to be interrupted by the hon. and learned Member, who earlier made such an exhibition of himself regarding Northern Ireland.

The second role is the security of the Indian Ocean. Here we have very large areas of comparatively sparsely populated territory including a large number of islands for which it is essential that security should be maintained. There does not exist at present, as far as I know, any strategic reserve west of Singapore and east of Suez. Therefore, we have a vital area in the strategic heart of the world which in my view is ineffectively protected at present.

The third reason for expansion and the third role of an East and West African Force would be to provide a cadre for expansion. I have, said more than once in this House that one of the grave weaknesses from which both Forces suffered during the whole of the last war was that we had insufficient experienced African N.C.O.s and men on which to expand, particularly the technical units we had to raise. Therefore, if we could only ensure that there was a sufficient peace-time cadre of the African Colonial Forces, any future expansion in the case of war could be undertaken far more effectively and with far fewer heartbreaks than was the case in the last war.

The fourth role would be to assist in providing anti-aircraft defence for the Suez Canal and Aden and also to provide security elements, garrison battalions if necessary, for Eritrea. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it has been the practice of the East African Command for many years past to send Nyasaland units to British Somaliland in order to assist in the garrisoning of that territory. There is no earthly reason why that principle should not be extended further up the Red Sea into Eritrea while our responsibility for that territory still remains.

Mr. Snow

The hon. Member mentioned four roles of this Force. Would he consider that a fifth role might be the defence of Protectorates such as Bechu-analand against possible aggression by a racially minded Government like that of the Union of Africa?

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

Be serious.

Mr. Sorensen

It is serious.

Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)

It is very serious indeed.

Mr. Alport

That is another example of a kind of remark made in this House which is well calculated to assist the cause of the Malanist Government. I have listened so often to interpolations of that kind, which can only be to the hurt of Africa even though they may be supposed to produce immediate advantage for the party opposite or to the individual making them. I am sure that hon. Members will join with me in deprecating that kind of remark.

I turn to another problem which must be faced, and which I am sure is faced by Members on both sides of the House who are interested in colonial affairs, namely, that the manpower resources of Africa are by no means unlimited. We have always thought of Africa as being a colossal continent with a population of about 160 million. We know that in Nigeria there are 30 million people and in East African territories about 14½million, and we assume that the manpower resources are far greater than they are. There are certain reasons why that is not the case.

There is the existence of endemic debilitating disease which renders unfit for service considerable numbers of those who would normally be available for service. I would add that one of the contributions which the Army made during the last war to social problems, and here I agree with the hon. Member for Dudley, was the immensely improving physique of all those men who served in the Army. It may be deplorable that the standard of nutrition outside the Army is low, but that does not detract from that contribution.

The second reason is that there are certain tribes which are so warlike that they are not very useful for forming part of a modern Army. For example, the Somali and Masai can be and are properly excluded from recruitment to the East African Forces. There are other tribes so unwarlike that for the opposite reason they are not suitable for military recruitment. The consequence of this is that the burden of military service falls on a limited number of tribes inhabiting a comparatively small or restricted number of areas—the Angoni, the Wakamba, the Nandi and others, all of which have always provided the bulk of the recruits for the King's African Rifles; and it is those tribes to whom we would and must look in the future.

I disagree with the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey that we should regard as a principal role of the colonial peoples the role of providing labour battalions. It would be very wrong and would psychologically be a wrong approach to tackle the matter in that way, or to assume that that should be their role because, although the pioneers of East and West Africa, and indeed of the Protectorates, made a great contribution to the war effort, particularly in the Middle East, during the last war, I should hate Africa as a whole to get the impression that we or hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that labour battalions were the only kind of role the African was fit for. The African is fit to take a courageous, disciplined and valuable part in any military organisation.

As I have spoken about some of these tribes, I might make one remark in reference to the Amendment to the Motion in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)? He seems to think that the African is unaccustomed to warfare, but I assure him that it is probably true that the great Zulu chief, Chaka, was responsible for destroying six million people during his reign. It does not really matter whether one is annihilated by an atomic bomb or a Zulu impi, but the fact remains that the annihilation comes to the same thing in the end. Therefore, the argument which the hon. Member's Amendment uses about the increasing destructiveness of war is really quite irrelevant to the question of whether the colonial people should be asked to take part in the effort not only to bring about security but to prevent war from breaking out.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

The hon. Member has quite misunderstood my argument. I do not regard the Zulus as uncivilised people. I believe that they are far more civilised than the Western people.

Mr. Alport

I am glad that the hon. Member knows that, and knowing it, feels that the African would be able to make a contribution.

I now turn to the problem of the leadership of the colonial Forces. There is no doubt, as the hon. Member for Dudley said, that it is a most important element. The sources of European leadership available are, first, the United Kingdom. During the last few weeks I have had many letters from officers and N.C.Os. who served in East and West Africa during the war, particularly in East Africa, who would be prepared to volunteer to go back for service with an East African formation on a Regular basis. I believe that if the right hon. Gentleman made such an appeal he would find that it would be answered by men who could not only help to meet the manpower limitations which he has to face at present, but who would do an extremely good job of work in East Africa.

Local sources and enlistment from them provide the second source. Hon. Members opposite always go out of their way to abuse the settlers, the European population of East Africa. Hon. Gentlemen may disagree with their point of view, but they should bear in mind that the most effective regimental officers, the officers who were most admired by the African soldiers during the last war were those K.A.R. officers in the Regular service, who had been out there for a considerable period, and the officers and N.C.Os. who had been recruited from the settler community. As one who was neither, I can assure the House that they held their men's respect and gave effective leadership to a far greater degree than officers and N.C.Os. sent out from this country. That was because they had sympathy with and knew the African, and regarded him with a far more liberal attitude even than we often hear advocated from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am sure, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will welcome the re-formation of the Kenya Regiment, which can help to assist in providing the sort of leadership we require.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will also think of one other point which has been in the minds of many people for a long time. I refer to the importance of beginning the training of African officers for the East African Forces. It would be very sad for the East African Forces if the time should come to appoint commissioned African officers either on the King's Commission basis or on the Governor's Commission basis without the individuals who were to fill those appointments had been properly trained beforehand.

It is not a simple question of turning an African sergeant-major into an officer. One must provide the whole basis of education and background which he requires. That can be and should be done by beginning an Army faculty or Army class, or whatever it might be called, at Makerere. That idea has been mooted for many years past and I am surprised that the Government have not got on with it, because obviously, had it been put into practice in 1946 we might already have African officers who had passed through the five years which is the least required at Makerere, and who would be available for service now. As it is, if the problem is to be tackled effectively, at least another five years will have to ensue before it is done.

This question of race is not such a simple problem of black and white as so many people seem to think. In East Africa which I have taken as my example, we are dealing not simply with the question of black and white or European and African. We have the third or fourth element of Arab and Indian. When hon. Gentlemen say that the rates of pay for the African and European should be the same not only is there a fallacy about the conclusion they draw, but they would have to ensure that the Indian rates of pay were the same as the African and European; that there was a flat rate the whole way round. Arguments on that basis do not help forward either the cause which they may genuinely have at heart or the interests of the communities there as a whole.

There is among Europeans resident in these Colonies both East and West a new liberal attitude to this whole question of race relations. That new attitude will be stopped and killed if hon. Gentlemen opposite and their sympathisers throughout the country continue constantly to deride the people responsible for this revolution in the attitude of the European to the African. I implore them, not only in the interests of this country but in the interests of solving one of the greatest problems in the world, which is the colour problem, that they should try to use moderation and sympathy for the difficulties of all sides. That in my view, is the only way that this major problem of the world can ever be solved.

2.14 p.m.

The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. John Dugdale)

It is perhaps appropriate, as one Minister responsible for the Colonies, that I should say a few words on this situation, although naturally the main burden of the reply will be undertaken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War.

The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) found himself surprisingly in agreement with points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). I find myself surprisingly in agree- ment with many of the points made by the hon. Member for Colchester. In particular, I am very glad that he made the point that we are not asking the African, or indeed any other person from any other Colony, to come to join the Forces simply to defend this country. We are asking them to defend their section of the Commonwealth and indeed to take part in the whole defence of the entire Commonwealth. I think it important that we should impress upon them what it is they stand to lose in not doing so—the opportunity of a steadily improving standard of life, and also the loss of the right to choose what kind of life they will have. Let us make no mistake about it; had the Gold Coast been occupied by another Power, they would not have had the opportunity they have had of choosing their own way of life.

Mr. Enirys Hughes

Would my right hon. Friend apply that argument to Cyprus?

Mr. Dugdale

There are many complications in Cyprus and many people in Cyprus who hold different views, some one way and some another. We have to judge between them.

The other point made by the hon. Member for Colchester with which I was in full agreement was that it was wrong to consider that the African is fit only for a pioneer corps. We believe they are fit to take any part in any Service, whether it is the Army, the Navy or the AIF Force.

The original Motion referred to the decline in the numbers now serving. I consider it important that I should say a word about the actual numbers that are in fact serving. It is true that during the war there was a very large number serving in East and West Africa— hundreds of thousands. But we do not expect the same number to be serving now; any more than we expect the same number to be serving in this country as were serving during the war. Taking the figures before the war and today, we find that in East and West Africa there were 19,000 serving before the war and there are 35,000 serving now. Therefore, it is not right to talk about a decline.

It is true there has been a decline in the numbers in the Caribbean and Bermuda, and certain of the smaller territories, that amounts to some 7,000 or 8,000; but taking it all together, there is a definite increase in the numbers rather than a decrease; not a very great increase maybe, but a definite increase over the numbers before the war. My right hon. Friend will be speaking of the considerable numbers for which he has direct responsibility, but besides those Forces which are administered by the War Office, there are also Regular Forces administered and financed entirely by the Colonies themselves, in Aden and Malaya and, as the hon. and gallant Member for Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde) reminded us, in Fiji. Beyond these there are part-time Forces administered by the Colonies in various places, as various as Hong Kong, Fiji and the Falkland Islands.

I have spoken about the Military Forces, but in addition there are Naval and Air Forces. I am informed that the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) asked about colonials joining the Royal Navy. The position is that they can join the Royal Navy if they are resident in this country. They can then not only join the Navy but rise to any position.

Mr. Gammans

Why do they have to come to this country? Why cannot they join from home?

Mr. Dugdale

Because the Royal Navy is based in this country. That seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable argument.

I think I have said enough to show that the Colonial Forces are by no means unsuitable for Defence. The African soldier is, in fact, thoroughly good, as was made manifest in the very fine speech from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field). What of the officers and men who make up these forces? They are of a high standard and include men from many races. The hon. Member for Hornsey said that we should stoutly oppose the colour bar. In this case, both he and the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) were in agreement—one of those rare occasions. The hon. Member for Hornchurch spoke in particular about racial intolerance, and I submit that the Armed Forces of the Colonies are an example of racial tolerance. In them are to be found soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers of all races.

We do not like the kind of intolerance which prevents a man from associating on equal terms with another man, just because the colour of his skin happens to be different, which prevents him from going to the same place of entertainment, travelling in the same railway carriage or eating in the same restaurant; or which prevents him from working on the same terms in the same job. We are determined that no such intolerance shall exist in the British Colonial Empire.

We desire a Colonial Empire where men of all races shall have equal opportunity of serving their country and of expressing their own individuality. It is in that spirit that we administer the Armed Forces of the Colonial Empire, and we hope that those forces will grow steadily and reasonably and that they will continue to be administered with tolerance and with a freedom from racial intolerance. We hope that the Motion moved by the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin) will be defeated and that we shall be able to continue with our policy of increasing the Armed Forces at a reasonable rate and not having to rush into it in the manner in which the hon. Gentleman suggested.

Mr. Gammans

Will the right hon. Gentleman say something about small-arms factories?

Mr. Dugdale

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will deal with that point.

Mr. Bing

In view of the large number of Roman Catholics in the Caribbean and the unfortunate decline in the recruiting figures, will my right hon. Friend expressly place on record, on behalf of the Government, the fact that they entirely repudiate the policy of refusing either jobs or houses to people on account of their religious faith?

Mr. Dugdale

Certainly. I have no hesitation whatever in repudiating that suggestion.

2.22 p.m.

Mr. Braine (Billericay)

I wish to repudiate at once the view advanced by certain hon. Members opposite—a view often advanced by them in colonial debates—that any of us on this side of the House are animated by racial prejudice.

Mr. Bing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Braine

It would be better if the hon. and learned Gentleman heard my argument first. I do not intend to waste a great deal of time on the somewhat scurrilous contribution he made to the debate earlier today. If he will hear my argument out, he will be able to judge for himself whether or not it is worth while intervening. I was about to say that it was quite contrary to my outlook and philosophy—and I believe this to be true of hon. Members on this side of the House—to judge a man of any race, creed or colour by anything other than his quality of manhood. We yield to none in our desire to see His Majesty's colonial subjects advance along the road towards self-government under conditions in which they can enjoy real freedom. It was a great pity that the hon. and learned Mem-for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) marred this debate by a speech which was as irrele-vent as it was offensive.

Mr. Bing

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me?

Mr. Braine

I intend to make only one reference to that speech——

Mr. Bing

The hon. Gentleman has made a personal reference to me.

Mr. Braine

It would be a mistake if one point that the hon. and learned Member made was to go unchallenged. He spoke of the withdrawal of a West African Brigade from East Africa in 1941 and of its being sent to Sierra Leone, as though behind that action there was an ulterior motive.

Mr. Bing

There was.

Mr. Braine

There was not. I speak with some little experience, since I was privileged to go out to West Africa in 1942. I stayed there for nearly two years, and during that time was responsible in Seirra Leone for recruiting and training West African troops. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that in 1941, the year in which West African troops were sent back from East Africa, and right up to the time of Alamein, there was a real danger that British bases in West Africa would be attacked by Vichy French forces. Indeed, had the hon. and learned Member pursued his study of the works of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), he would have read, on page 577 of the third volume, a paper prepared by my right hon. Friend and sent to President Roosevelt, dated 16th December, 1941. My right hon. Friend wrote: A campaign must be fought in 1942 to gain possession of, or conquer, the whole of the North African shore, including the Atlantic ports of Morocco. Dakar and other French West African ports must be captured before the end of the year. The decision to send back to West Africa, West African troops, which had served with such distinction and gallantry in the East African campaign was a strategic decision taken for excellent reasons.

Mr. Bing

How does the hon. Gentleman explain the reference to General Smuts which follows immediately? Why should it concern General Smuts if this was done on purely strategic grounds? Surely, the reason is that South Africa would not allow her troops to be associated with those of the British Commonwealth.

Mr. Alport

Is my hon. Friend aware that East African, West African and South African troops were all fighting together in the Mediterranean and that, in fact, at Tobruk, East African prisoners were taken together with the South African prisoners, fighting in that same very gallant effort?

Mr. Braine

I am grateful for that intervention by my hon. Friend. I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin) on having had luck in the ballot and on laying before us so clearly the case for enlisting colonial manpower in the defence of the Commonwealth as a whole. It is necessary, however, to get this question into perspective. My war-time experience in West Africa leads me to believe that it is impossible to raise vast colonial forces. Nothing is more misleading than to try to base estimates of what might be attained on population figures, and to assume that, because there is a population of between 60 million and 70 million in the Colonial Empire, there is a huge reservoir of manpower which may be mobilised for this purpose.

I believe it is true that the population of India before the war numbered about 380 million, yet the Indian Army, composed of superb volunteers, never exceeded more than two million men, and it was sustained at that level with some difficulty. Similarly, although the population of the Colonial Empire in 1946 must have numbered about 60 million, if one excludes the forces raised in Palestine and Ceylon—a Crown Colony which has now become a Dominion—the total colonial forces never exceeded 422,000 men, of whom 374,000 were raised from the African Colonies and even then from those 374,000 no more than three divisions could be raised. I was astonished to find on reading Admiral Lord Mountbatten's despatch from South-East Asia that by April, 1945, the total number of African troops in South-East Asia was no more than 38,000 men out of a total of about one million engaged in that theatre.

It is relevant to this debate to mention some of the reasons for these somewhat disappointing figures. Firstly, I submit that an effective fighting force can only be built up rapidly on the basis of existing cadres imbued with existing traditions. Certainly such traditions existed at the outbreak of the last war in West Africa and East Africa, and exist today. Why the Minister of State should say that Africans are fit to take part in combatant duties I do not know. That was a somewhat naive observation when one bears in mind the distinguished fighting record of the Royal West African Frontier Force and the King's African Rifles in the First World War. But those conditions—the existence of cadres and a long fighting tradition—do not exist elsewhere in the Colonial Empire.

The second limitation to raising a very large number of colonial troops lies in the fact that, as in India, the bulk of the men presenting themselves for enlistment come from a relatively few fighting tribes. In West Africa one can almost draw a line across Southern Nigeria, the southern parts of the Gold Coast and the southern parts of Sierra Leone and say that below that line it is impossible to get suitable recruits in substantial numbers. I think I am right in saying that in the Gambia a very high proportion of men presenting themselves for enlistment did not come from British territory at all. They came over the border from French territories, adding to the language difficulties which were mentioned in an interesting passage in the speech of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg).

I remember watching infantry training up-country in Sierra Leone and observing a European sergeant giving instruction in English to a squad. An African sergeant translated that instruction into two languages while a recruit in the squad translated what he had been told in one African language into yet another.

Mr. Snow

What was the result?

Mr. Braine

I was about to give way because I thought the hon. Member had an intelligent observation to make; but I see that I was mistaken. It is also true that a high proportion of the men presenting themselves for enlistment were deficient in physique and were rejected on that ground. Moreover, almost all the men presenting themselves for enlistment during the war were illiterate in English. I stress the words "in English" because it did not always follow that such men were incapable of writing their own language, though I readily agree that a very high proportion of West African languages cannot be written down. But even an infantry battalion must have its proportion of literates, and constantly we found that there was a limitation on the numbers of units and formations which could be established because of that fact. We had the greatest difficulty in securing an adequate number of literates for the technical arms.

There is another objection which I am somewhat surprised has not been mentioned earlier in the debate. It is that, quite clearly, if too many men are taken away or enlisted from villages which practise subsistence agriculture, there can be a very grave disturbance to what is a peasant economy. The same objections obtain today as obtained during the war when the economy of Nigeria, Kenya, Tanganyika and Northern Rhodesia had to be safeguarded by the conscription of labour for essential purposes.

Several hon. Members have said in the course of this debate that the number of units and formations which can be raised is limited by the availability of European officers and N.C.O.S. That is true but it is not new. There was always a shortage of them during the war. I remember, and no doubt the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field), remembers the time when, because there was a shortage of good officer material, we had several hundred Polish officers seconded to us on the West Coast.

It is not just a question of manpower. The handling of African troops requires leadership of the highest order. The African responds instinctively to good leadership, but he is very quick to recognise bad leadership. It was certainly true during the war years, and I am sure it is still true today, that the African on the West Coast has an immense respect for the European. But he could sum up a European much quicker than the average European could sum up an African. There was a saying along the coast, when a European failed to measure up to the standards expected of him, that he was a "so-and-so European."

Having said that, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that well-led African troops are of the highest quality. I have heard distinguished officers who have served with Indian and African troops saying that the best African troops are as good as the finest units in the Indian Army. I remember what was said of Sierra Leone troops not only by Europeans who had experience of them in the First World War, but by Nigerians and men of the Gold Coast who tended to look upon them with a certain amount of contempt. As luck would have it, the first elements of the 81st West African Division to engage the Japanese in Burma were elements of the Sierra Leone regiment. They acquitted themselves splendidly and from that moment there were no more criticisms levelled at them. The whole question is one of leadership.

These are some of the limitations we must bear in mind when considering to what extent we can expand the Colonial Forces. Nothing I have said means that we could not raise three divisions in Africa alone for service in that Continent, or elsewhere if the need arises. We should ask ourselves, however, whether such a policy would run counter to the best interests of the Colonies. I believe—here I find myself at one with the hon. Member for Dudley—that providing care is taken not to disturb the African peasant enonomy by accepting too many men for enlistment, there are distinct advantages in our raising additional forces in Africa. The Army itself is an effective instrument of education. In the past it produced a superb type of African non-commissioned officer who, on completion of his service, went back to his village and invariably played a prominent part in its affairs.

The hon. and gallant Member for Pad-dington, North, I thought, made a somewhat unfortunate observation in an otherwise interesting speech. He said that in his experience the bulk of the recruits offering themselves for enlistment during the war did not know very much about the origins and objects of the war. An election has just been held in the Gold Coast, where a high proportion of the electors were, by our standards, illiterate. Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that they did not know very much about the objects of the election?

Captain Field rose——

Mr. Braine

May I finish the argument first? I do not wish to be unfair to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I would say that by the end of the war, those who had served in the West African Divisions in South-East Asia had had their minds broadened, had seen more of the world and were better equipped to face the task of looking after their own affairs and the affairs of their community than they would have been had they not enlisted in our Forces.

Captain Field

Surely the hon. Gentleman realises the great difference between the origin of the war which had its roots in Europe, and the internal economy of the Gold Coast about which presumably the natives should know something? I am reminded of an argument I had with a West African when I was in that part of the world about the benefits of Western democracy. I was completely baffled by the answer which he gave me when he said, "If the results of Western civilisation are what is going on in Europe at the moment, then give me my savagery."

Mr. Braine

I am certain that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that the Army in war-time took in human raw material—primitive and, in many cases, under-nourished folk—and fed them. One almost saw recruits growing in stature and physique in the first few weeks of their training.

Captain Field

That was only incidentally.

Mr. Braine

The Army taught them the simple rules of life. It taught them hygiene; in large numbers of cases it taught them to read and write, and in some cases it took them overseas and showed them the larger world beyond their own country. What is more, it taught them self-reliance.

As I understand it, our purpose in colonial administration is to help the colonial peoples advance towards self-government and to have control over their own affairs. But surely self-government requires, first of all, self-reliance. It requires not only self-reliance but the acceptance of a large measure of responsibility. I should not think it impossible to persuade responsible African political leaders that the defence of the African continent is a responsibility in which Africans themselves must share and, indeed, should be proud to share, and that the participation of African volunteer troops in Commonwealth defence adds to the status of Africans themselves. Of course, that applies equally to the West Indies.

Let me say, in passing, that I was surprised to hear yesterday that no facilities exist in the West Indies to recruit men on the spot. Why should this be so? Why should His Majesty's loyal subjects, wherever they may be, who wish to take active part in the defence of their own region, not be able to enlist in their own countries in the Armed Forces? I should have thought that if the war in Korea and Malaya proved anything at all, it showed that there is a need for tough, well-trained infantry, able to move with ease through thick jungle or over rocky terrain. If the general situation today proves anything, surely it is that though it may not be necessary to have more divisions than one's potential enemies, it is imperative to have them in the right place. No one can dispute the strategic importance of the Middle East. I suggest that common prudence dictates that there should be a strategic reserve in Africa charged primarily with the task Of safeguarding our lines of communication in and through that continent. For that reason, I support wholeheartedly the Motion.

2.46 p.m.

Mr. Sorensen (Leyton)

There are still others who wish to speak and, therefore, I shall not detain the House long, but in my few remarks I should like to say that at one point in the speech of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine), I almost assumed his argument was that the main purpose for recruiting more Colonials to our fighting Forces was to give them better food, train them in hygiene and in fact, give them a kind of temporary university experience. We know, as a matter of fact, that that is not the case. Incidentally, I quite agree that many who were recruited in the last war by one means or another did benefit both physically and mentally—sometimes in rather disconcertingly embarrassing ways. I am sure there are many instances of colonials who, having joined the fighting Forces, had their first introduction to political ideas which they began to express when they went back to their own colonial areas.

Apart from that, although one detected a great difference of approach as between the hon. Members for Billericay and for Colchester (Mr. Alport) on the one hand, and the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) on the other, yet I would maintain that the reason why we are discussing this matter today is not because we are primarily concerned about the conditions of colonial people or because we want to raise an army for their defence, but because we ourselves feel in danger and want what is called this reservoir of labour on which we can call. Let us be frank about it.

Mr. Braine

I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to be unfair. Would he not agree that unless adequate steps are taken to safeguard the Colonial Empire, the great social, political and economic experiment upon which we are engaged there now would be threatened and might, indeed, come to naught?

Mr. Sorensen

I appreciate entirely the intelligent approach of the hon. Gentleman, if I may say so without presumption. What I was trying to suggest was that between his approach and the approach of others in his party there is a considerable divergence. For one thing, I observed that in the speeches of the mover and seconder of this Motion there was hardly a reference to or an expression of concern for the wellbeing of the colonial peoples themselves. The whole emphasis in both cases was explicitly and implicitly," We are short of forces. We must have more. Here is"—to repeat the metaphor—"a great reservoir upon which we can draw. "I am sure that anyone who heard those speeches will acquit me of any attempt to misrepresent them. I am sure that, quite innocently, the mover and seconder did not think for a moment that there should be any other approach but that approach.

Certainly, we must be very careful lest we give the impression to the colonial peoples that we are now only interested in this matter of increasing the colonial fighting Forces because we feel ourselves to be in danger. I know there is the other argument, which I appreciate. I am simply saying that I cannot get away from the startling fact that the mover and seconder of the Motion made scarcely a reference to the colonial peoples themselves except in so far as those peoples may suit our purpose.

I think we should appreciate how this causes repercussions in the minds of intelligent colonial peoples. It is quite true that the hon. Member for Hornsey, rather artificially I thought, suggested that we did not sufficiently appreciate the virtues of what he called simple loyalty. He must not regard us as being so simple in that respect. After all, we cannot have it both ways; if at one time we argue that the people of the Gold Coast and elsewhere are too simple to understand great political issues and cannot, as a consequence, have any great advances towards self-government, we cannot at the same time also contend that, while they are too simple for self-government in the authoritative sense of the word, nevertheless they are quite suitable to be enlisted in His Majesty's Forces. The issue of simple loyalty requires an analysis for which I have not time today, but we must remember that to many people simple loyalty is a synonym for blind loyalty and ignorance.

I come to my third point, which is this. It is highly dangerous to press on with an expansion of Colonial Forces without at the same time doing far more than we are doing to develop both the economic and political life of the Colonies. We have to remember what deduction very many colonial peoples will draw from the debate today. I do not say it is justified; though perhaps in some cases it is justified. The deduction they may draw is that although they may be grateful for the extension of economic assistance and the colonial and welfare development which has taken place; although they may appreciate the advances which have been made in Jamaica and the Gold Coast and, we hope, before long in Nigeria; nevertheless the constant assertion of many hon. Members and perhaps of the Government is that we cannot go further, especially on the economic side, because of financial limitations.

If we were now to suggest that there should be an almost unlimited expenditure of money to build up a vast Colonial Army—and it is certain to mean that, if the Army is to be at all extensive—what a contrast that would provide. On the one hand there would be our familiar and characteristic eagerness to spend money on training people to fight while, on the other hand, there would be our much greater reluctance to spend similar sums of money on developing the economic resources of the country. I do not say that that is entirely fair or justified; I simply say that that is the deduction which many of the Colonies will draw, and we have to fight that lamentable and unfortunate deduction.

That being so, our best policy is to be far more concerned at this juncture with the economic and political life and well-being of the people than with trying to increase the number of recruits to our Colonial fighting forces. Today there are between 60,000 and 70,000 trained men drawn from our Colonies in our fighting forces. Why not leave it at that and presume that the ordinary processes of recruitment will draw a few more along? If we go beyond that we shall be in very dangerous waters indeed. In spite of what has been said, quite genuinely and sincerely, about this recruitment being primarily for Colonial purposes and for the benefit of the Colonial people, and although I agree that it must be in the minds of many people, I am quite certain that it has not been in the minds of the mover and seconder and a number of hon. Members who have supported this Motion and what lies behind it.

I was surprised that one or two hon. Members opposite appeared to be indignant when reference was made to South Africa. We were chided by an hon. Member opposite for introducing that issue today—I do not know why. We must appreciate that it is not only the people of South Africa who are concerned but that some of the white settlers in East Africa may become alarmed if there is too extensive a development of the Colonial Forces in East Africa. What will they say if, in the course of 10 years' time, there should grow up a large East African Army, consisting not only of rankers drawn from the indigenous people, but also of officers drawn from those people?

I know that that cannot take place for some time but I wonder how far some of the white settlers and others in East Africa will contemplate that possibility with satisfaction. On the contrary, I think a good many of them will be profoundly disturbed. They will not mind having African regiments or battalions or divisions doing the subordinate or menial work, with a commission given here and there, but certainly some will hardly wish for anything like a development within the African Colonial Forces which would mean that there would be not only rankers drawn from the Colonies but their officers as well. At any event, that is the position as I judge it.

Major McCallum (Argyll)

Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that the white settlers of Kenya, most of whom served with the African Forces during the last war and the previous war, would look with dismay at an increase in the African military strength in that area? He does not know what he is talking about.

Mr. Sorensen

I have stated what is my impression. We have all read in the East African Press comments by some— by no means all, or indeed the majority—of the white inhabitants there expressing great apprehension with regard to the development of East Africa towards political self-government. On more than one occasion we have read comments indicating that a few of those white inhabitants of East Africa have much the same sort of outlook as that of Dr. Malan in South Africa. I do not say that that is true of everybody, but I repeat that there is apprehension on the part of some in East Africa lest there should be too rapid and too comprehensive a development of indigenous East African fighting forces, officered by East Africans, in case this would interfere with the prerogative and the superiority of the white settler.

Major McCallum

Is the hon. Gentleman referring to British settlers in East Africa or to South African settlers who-settled in the highlands of Kenya? I happen to know something about this. The settlers about whom the hon. Member speaks are wholely unrepresentative.

Mr. Sorensen

I am sure the hon. Member will agree that the type of person to whom I refer does exist—both British and non-British. We have only to read the African Press to appreciate that. Let us appreciate there could be a development in the recruiting of colonials into the fighting forces which might cause alarm and even despondency in certain reactionary quarters. I should not mind that at all, because I feel that if there could be such a development it might be for good, even if it did cause such alarm and despondency.

But I deplore the fact that, in spite of what some hon. Members opposite have said, those who opened the debate gave no indication that the Motion they introduced was introduced in the interests of the colonial people themselves. The whole stress was on the advantage it would be to ourselves and to the Western world. I say still further that unless something is done to redress that, by demonstrating far more effectively than we have done that our interest in the African and other Colonies is not the good they can do us but the good they can do for themselves, then, despite all our sincerity, we shall leave a most lamentable impression on the Colonial world.

2.59 p.m.

Mr. Dodds-Parker (Banbury)

I am afraid that the lamentable impression left on me and that will be left on the Colonial world springs from the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House—a small group of Members who are entirely unrepresentative of this House. I know that the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) speaks with sincerity, but there are a number of hon. Members on the other side of the House who make destructive speeches which are not representative of the views of the House as a whole, not even of the Government side. In saying what the views are of the people in East Africa, they have not given us any names or any other verification in support of what they have been saying. There are individuals out there who do make that sort of speech, but they are equally unrepresentative of opinion out there as a whole, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Leyton, with his knowledge of that part of the world, will agree with me.

Mr. Sorensen

I said it was a minority that I referred to, but if the hon. Gentleman is going to chide and criticise and lecture this side of the House, will he not apply his strictures to some of his hon. Friends on his side?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

That is not my job. The point is that I have heard for a long time now the sort of speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite that we have listened to today—speeches bringing in matters which—I was going to say were irrelevant, but I suppose they must have been relevant, for I suppose you, Sir, would not have allowed them to go on had they not been.

As for their criticisms of my hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Motion, I should like to point out that we cannot in these debates go through the whole gamut of what we on this side of the House stand for. I hope that hon. Members opposite do us the honour that we do to them. We do read their publications. I hope that they have read our "Imperial Charter" and, therefore, do know what we on this side of the House stand for. We cannot in these debates go through the whole of a policy like that, when we have picked out what we wish to be a somewhat narrow matter, for we cannot have proper debates in this House if we do not have particular matters to consider.

Well, I was among those who were fortunate enough to serve in the war in Africa. For a large part of the war I was out there, and, particularly, in those early days. We had not got very much then, and the whole world had collapsed save the Commonwealth and Empire, which stood out. The thing that did strike us in those days was the determination of those fighting Forces, who came from all over Africa to join in the East African Campaign, to fight on. There was not any wavering among any of those Forces. Those Forces were composed of men who came from East, Africa, West Africa and South Africa, and they were all fighting together, and whatever certain individuals may have said in the back areas about not wanting to fight, the fact was that we were all fighting together in that theatre of operations, and very successfully, too.

I myself regret that more publicity has not been given to that campaign and to the battle of Kirin—to the magnificent efforts of the Fourth and Fifth Indian Divisions that went up that well nigh unscalable escarpment of 4,000 feet. Then we were all fighting together without any thought of the colour of our skins. It was the colour of our hearts that mattered in those days, and it does still today, too. I think it was deplorable that the mover and seconder of this Amendment from the Government side of the House should have said that the Armed Forces out there did not want to fight and did not know what they were fighting for, and that they were lined up by their chiefs and sent to battle.

Captain Field

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I can assure him that I did not say that they did not want to fight. I said that my experience, which was extensive, led me to the conclusion that they had not the remotest idea of what they were fighting for, and I stand by that claim.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Well, the hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks for himself, and he said just before that they preferred savagery to what they saw going on in Europe.

Captain Field

A soldier told me that.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

What was going on in parts of Europe was National Socialism, which I was against then, as I am opposed to it today. That is why I am opposed to this Government.

That brings me to the main point I want to make, and that is the argument that the people did not know what they were fighting for in East Africa. They knew what they were fighting for and they knew what they were fighting against, too. They were fighting against Fascism. They knew that in 1938 and 1939. Sometimes when I was coming home on leave, passing by the House on my way home, I would come in to the House and I would find hon. Members opposite, who were then on this side of the House, opposing re-armament. One did not find that spirit in East Africa. They knew what they were fighting against, and they also knew what they were fighting for, because they were proud of their association with Britain in the past. They felt that pride that I, for one, regret is never voiced on the benches opposite.

3.5 p.m.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Strachey)

We have had what seemed to me a most interesting debate. It has left me with a great many points with which I shall try to deal, and perhaps a general theme will emerge from my remarks in dealing with those points.

Dealing first with the speeches of the mover and seconder of the Motion, I should like to try to clear up what is, I think, a genuine misconception about the numbers, which probably accounts for the fact that in the Motion they regret the decline in numbers, as they think, of the Colonial Forces. These numbers are very complicated, and I think there are two misconceptions. The numbers of what may usually be referred to as Colonial Forces are this year not, as I think the hon. Gentleman supposed, 40,000 or 42,000. but 66,000.

The difference is accounted for, first, by locally enlisted personnel. I think it is perfectly fair to count those as part of His Majesty's subjects in the Colonies who are taking part in the military effort of the Colonies. They are not usually in British units. One sees them as I, and no doubt others have done lately, serving in R.E.M.E. workshops, R.A.O.C. units, or the like—usually technical units of that sort, but not necessarily so—in Malaya for example, living and working very closely side by side with British troops. They are, therefore, in a rather different position to Colonial units as such, but I think they are a part, and a very valuable part, of the force which we do at present actually raise in the Colonial part of the Commonwealth.

It was chiefly the hon. and gallant Member for Belfast, North (Lieut-Colonel Hyde), who felt, generally, that we were doing too little and had been cheeseparing in our financial policy on these matters, and he wanted a rapid and bold expansion of those forces. He, I think, used the phrase "replacement of the Indian Army." With great respect to him, I think I ought to say at the outset that that is just the conception that we on these benches have not got of what we ought to do in this matter. We do not think, for both practical reasons and, if I may so put it, political reasons, that is a fruitful or possible approach. We do not think, for practical reasons—many of which were given by the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine), who put them very forcibly and very well—that any rapid expansion of our Colonial Forces is possible, and that it would produce the most frightful friction if we attempted it. To approach it in the spirit of "Oh, well, we have lost the Indian Army and we must now find something to replace it," would be most unfortunate. I am, therefore, bound to say that it was not in the speeches of the mover or seconder but in some of the other speeches from the Opposition that I found points with which I could agree.

The other reason for the figures appearing different from what they really are is that the figure of 66,000 is lower than two years ago, when it was something of the order of 90,000. That decrease is much more apparent than real. It is a curious fact, but it is a fact, that in the figures two or three years ago the Arab Legion was included; for instance the Trans-jordan Force and the Sudan Force. They are not now put—I cannot quite see the reason why they ever were put—among the Colonial Forces. That rundown is almost completely accounted for by the absence of those forces from the present figures, but it does not mean that the forces themselves have disappeared. Quite the contrary.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Are we to understand that the two items, the Transjordan and Sudan Forces, account for at least 25,000?

Mr. Strachey

There have been several other changes in the balance sheet. It is not as easy as that, but they account for the great bulk of them, something in the neighbourhood of 20,000, which is the main difference in the figures. I only make that remark in passing, in order to get the figures clear.

If we cannot accept the concept of the mover and seconder of the Motion, do we close our minds to any development in this sphere? We do not. We think that it is something to be approached with caution, and that the difficulties are very real and considerable. Nevertheless we think, for reasons which have been developed very well on both sides of the House, that the case on balance for a careful and wise development of military forces in various parts of the Commonwealth is a sound one. In so far as we can overcome the difficulties and obstacles, we mean to proceed, as we are doing, with such a development.

I am not unmindful of the sort of point raised by the mover of the Amendment, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field). He reminded us—in contradistinction, I thought, to the last speaker, he was right to remind us—of the seamy side of the Colonial Forces—their recruitment, enlistment and terms of service— and unless the utmost care is taken in this matter that side is only too apt to predominate. If it does, far more harm than good is done. As I understand it, there is no doubt from the terms of the Amendment that in spite of that, and in spite of the dangers which he pointed out, my hon. and gallant Friend is in favour of the raising of these forces, as and when we can overcome the difficulties, and their development and augmentation. We think there will be opportunities in the coming months and years for such an augmentation.

My hon. and gallant Friend spoke, and this has been discussed by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and other hon. Members, about the two related questions, the character of these Colonial Forces and the political development of their members—whether in war they know what they are fighting for and whether they have a sufficiently high degree of political consciousness to appreciate great world issues, democracy and the like. It is very desirable that they should have, but the real fact is that it is impossible to generalise. Men from one tribe, even from one Colony, will be in an entirely different state of political and educational development from men in quite a near part of the area which is still in a primitive condition.

On the whole, while that type of political development is most important and we ought to foster it wherever we can.

I should have thought that the simple things like pay, conditions, discipline and equal treatment of the ordinary soldier, the chances of promotion, and freedom from racial discrimination of any sort, are probably most important of all. I cannot stress too much that if we are to go in for this development with all these difficulties—probably we should—we must take the utmost care to see that it is done on the lines pressed for so strongly by the mover of the Amendment.

I do not think that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) will expect me to follow him in the argument which he put before the House, but I should just like to say that, lying behind that argument and the paradoxes with which he entertained the House, seems to me to be a point of very great substance and importance. It is one that I am bound to refer to. It is that, if we are to go in for this development, it means that we must bethink ourselves of our own racial and religious attitudes in every part of the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom. We cannot raise forces of Africans, Malays, Asians or the men of the Caribbean without these issues of perfect racial and religious tolerance and equality being very strongly brought out. Although it would cause us all difficulties—none of us is perfect in these respects—and inevitably cause difficulties in various parts of the Commonwealth, it is worth doing. I would almost go so far as to say that one of the advantages would be that it would drive us all to purge our hearts and minds of unworthy feelings of religious or racial intolerance.

Mr. Gammans

If the right hon. Gentleman expresses that view, will he say why it is that the Government are putting every obstacle in the way of men from the West Indies enlisting in the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Bing

That is not true.

Mr. Strachey

I do not accept that statement for one moment. It is outside my Department, but if there are unnecessary or undesirable obstacles—I can quite believe that some may inevitably be necessary—those are just the sort of things which no doubt ought to be looked at, because these questions are inevitably raised.

Mr. Braine

Why should the right hon. Gentleman say that we should have to readjust ourselves to this when in the Indian Army we gave the world in general, and India in particular, a magnificent example of racial relationship and tolerance?

Mr. Strachey

Yes; but anyhow, I do not think we have always been perfect in this respect——

Sir Herbert Williams (Croydon, East)

Lots of people have been worse.

Mr. Strachey

Yes, lots of people have been very bad indeed. It is a point worth making that racial intolerance is not exclusively, even within the Commonwealth, a phenomenon of British or white intolerance of black or brown or yellow. One has only to look at Malaya to see that there is racial intolerance between other races of which we are not one. That can exist, too, and in a very complex worldwide multi-racial Commonwealth like our own, these are very difficult questions.

The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) asked some questions, one of which was an important one. He thought that we ought to develop for defence purposes not only the manpower but the productive, and particularly the industrial, potential of parts of the Commonwealth. That is highly desirable on defence grounds and every other ground, but at this stage and at this balance in the economy of the world, I should have thought that—with certain exceptions no doubt; there may be opportunities in the Caribbean and in Hong Kong and in certain parts of Africa for direct industrial development—the big thing was the development at the fastest possible rate of primary production such as the primary production of minerals and primary agricultural production.

If anyone murmurs the word "groundnuts" at this point, I certainly accept it. The production of groundnuts, for example, in the British Commonwealth is of the utmost importance, and it would be tragic if we allowed the fact that we failed to do it in one place by one method to prevent us from pursuing that theme. Primary industrial, mineral and agricultural development is what the world needs from vast areas of the British Commonwealth.

Mr. Gammans

My point was with regard to the Caribbean. Would it not be possible to set up a small-arms factory or a boot factory either in Barbados or in Jamaica, where there is a surplus of labour?

Mr. Strachey

I do not pretend to have the specialised knowledge for answering that question. No doubt it would be possible, but whether it is desirable or not my right hon. Friend would have to say. In general, it is the primary production that seems to me to provide the big opportunity and the thing which. I should like to see developed rapidly, rather than an attempt at industrial production. On the whole that is something that Europe and America can do. The British Commonwealth is the natural, and perhaps the only, place where tropical products and the raw materials which we and America desperately need can be obtained today.

I was interested in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley. I cannot go through all his points but he stressed the conception of Armed Forces as a instrument of social progress. I know it is an unwelcome view to some of my hon. Friends, but they can be an important instrument of social progress. They are not always such, it depends on how the Forces are handled.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Not in Korea.

Mr. Strachey

My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is confusing two things. A war is seldom an instrument of social progress, though social progress may arise even from wars. The devastation of war and the things such as have happened in Korea, may lead to the most frightful social regression. Here we are talking about the raising of Armed Forces which we sincerely hope will help us to prevent the outbreak of a war. As a by-product, if you will—but a most important by-product—they can help to establish, in under-developed, relatively primitive territories, the general educational and social development of those areas very much indeed.

These points were made by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport), who said many things with which I am sure all hon. Members on this side of the House would agree. The hon. Member, as well as other hon. Members, made the sound point that we must not look on Colonial Forces such as we have raised, and probably increasingly shall be raising, as mere labour battalions, as hewers of wood and drawers of water. There again, if that conception were found to be behind our motives in this development, I am sure it would go far to defeat us.

There he and other hon. Members touched on a point which is of primary importance, and is a reason why development cannot be very fast. If this is to done successfully, one of the first things we have to do is to develop a network of schools for our future non-commissioned and commissioned officers. It may be said that this ought to have been done before. But it has not been altogether neglected. Anyone who has seen the Malay Regiment, the fifth and sixth battalions of which are now being raised, and has had the pleasure, as I have, of being entertained in messes by Malay officers, knows that it is far from the case that officers of non-European origin are not being developed in parts of the Commonwealth. That process is going on in many places, but if we are to get a more rapid development, then it is true that probably as big a limiting factor as any—as equipment or finance or all these things we have touched on—is the development of the indigenous officer and N.C.O., because their training will take quite a long time.

We cannot tackle this problem successfully without these things which, if hon. Members like so to regard them, are a by-product, but which will be of immense value to the peoples in the territories themselves. What could be better for these under-developed parts of the world than the establishment of schools and things of that sort which will give education of a much more advanced kind than instruction in conning? And, of course, technical education is extremely important. I would not want to denigrate that for a moment. It is true to say that the man of primitive race hardly becomes a free man of the modern world until he has some technical education and can take down and maintain an internal combustion engine, for example, and that is of great use and importance. Certainly with officers we have to go a long way further than that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) reminded us—and I think it is a fair point—that when we stress these things we are only stressing byproducts. That is not the reason we are discussing this matter today; it has not a direct concern with African or other education. It is because we are faced with this challenge in the world and we want every part of the Commonwealth to help us to face that challenge. It is true, and it is a fair point, but nevertheless they will derive great benefits by the effort we put in and the joint effort we can bring to facing that challenge. That is surely the way of the world. If we are lucky, we will get good out of the terrible evil of the present international tension in the world. Let us at any rate grasp with both hands, if we can, the very great opportunity for bringing forward the under-developed parts of the world which meeting this challenge gives us.

The last thing I want to say is simply to return to the theme on which I touched at the beginning. Quite apart from the educational technical advantage which raising these forces will give them, there-is, of course, something bigger than this. If we get what becomes something like national formations of trained and armed men in these territories, that is one of the big steps towards nationhood in these territories, quite as much in many ways as democratic institutions, as has been done in the Gold Coast. I would not like to say that one is more important than the other, but history shows that in this rough world both are indispensable steps towards nationhood.

Therefore, when we set ourselves to the task, which both the Motion and the Amendment recommend to us, of developing these Armed Forces, let us face the fact that we are hurrying forward the development of these territories towards nationhood. We hope it will be nationhood within the Commonwealth, but that in the end will be something which these nations will decide for themselves. I do not raise this as any objection to the course which we are asked to take. I think that it is, on the whole, an advantage, but we should do it with our eyes open. So, while for the reasons I have given, we cannot accept the Motion, we do recommend the House to accept the Motion, as amended by the Amendment moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Paddington, North.

3.30 p.m.

Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)

The right hon. Gentleman, like his colleague the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, who spoke earlier this afternoon, has informed the House that the Government are unable to accept the Motion which was moved, I think so well, by my two hon. Friends the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin), and the hon. and gallant Member for Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde), but without giving the real reason why they could not accept it. The Motion regrets that the Government has failed to facilitate in consultation with Colonial Governments the additional use of colonial volunteers in defence of the cause of democratic freedom. The right hon. Gentleman never gave us any reason why the Government have failed in the past in that way. All he did was to tell us that he accepted the need for some development, but he never gave us any ideas that I could follow which would show that the Government intended to do anything.

We have for some time had in debates very genial statements from a variety of Ministers that they accept the importance of Colonial Forces, and we have been very glad to hear that. Sometimes those statements have been more vague than other times. I think they have never been vaguer than when they have been made by the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Alexander, whose answers on this subject have been very nearly as vague as the old oracles used to be. We should have liked to hear some far more concrete reasons as to what was holding things up, and we should have liked to hear that the Government were really going to do something.

Towards the end of my remarks I shall deal with the Amendment, which the right hon. Gentleman has stated he is prepared to accept. Meanwhile I wish to invite the attention of the House to the subject as a whole for it is to us at all events, and I think to the whole House, a very important subject. It is a matter both of defence policy and colonial policy. The one right thing which the Government have done has been to put up a representative of the Colonial Office and a representative of the Defence Departments to intervene in the course of the debate, and I am sure that the House is grateful for that.

It was stated by the Secretary of State for War that too little attention had been paid by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East, to the effect upon the Colonies of the part this matter played in colonial policy. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) answered that point ably and briefly—unlike some of the long speeches we had from the other side of the House at the beginning of this debate. My hon. Friend reminded us that we could not all say everything in our speeches, but that we must be thought to have at the back of our minds the policy of the party we represent.

I would remind the mover of the Amendment in particular of the words in the statement on Imperial policy that we issued two years ago, which really very much echo the good part of his speech. We there pointed out how important this matter of Colonial Forces was not only to the Empire as a whole but to each part of the Empire. We used words very similar to those used by the Secretary of State for War a few moments ago. We said: This is just as much a part of the preparation for nationhood within the Empire as is the development of their political experience and standard of living. We also said: There must be no colour bar or discrimination in any shape or form to prevent the attainment of the highest commissioned ranks by men and women from the Colonies with the necessary qualifications and powers of leadership. If the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington, North (Captain Field) will do us the honour of reading that I think he would be able to make just as good speeches, and may be perhaps a little shorter.

Captain Field

I can assure the hon. Member that, having belonged to the Junior Imperial League at one stage in my career, I am perfectly well aware of all the claims made by the party opposite with regard to Imperial Policy. But the experience, which led me to change my mind, was the extraordinary difference between what they preach and what they do.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

As there is no colour bar in the party of the hon Gentleman, may I ask why Dick Turpin, the coloured boxer, was refused admission to the Conservative Club at Leamington?

Mr. Low

When we consider our record in connection with colonial policy and Colonial Forces we have only to look back on the part which the Colonial Forces played voluntarily, and so willingly, during the whole of the last war.

Captain Field rose——

Mr. Low

No, I cannot give way, I must get on——

Captain Field

The hon. Member mentioned my name, surely he ought to give way?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

What about my question?

Mr. Low

There will be occasions on which we can deal with Dick Turpin, but this is not one of them. In criticising the speeches made by my hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Motion, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the emphasis that is often placed on the importance of replacing the Indian Army. I quite agree with what has been said by one or two of my hon. Friends, that that point can be overdone. But we now no longer have the Indian Army to help us in the garrisoning of our Imperial communications, or necessarily to help us in the defence of Africa and the Middle East. We hope that they will be with us. In fact, I think, we can say that we have more than hope". But the fact remains that in peace-time we have not got them to rely upon. When thinking out our Imperial strategy there is a need either to accept that we are never to have anything to fill that gap or to do something to try to fill that gap. That I take to be one of the points which my hon. Friends had in mind when they mentioned the Indian Army.

The right hon. Gentleman seems rather to underestimate the value of the Indian Army, both from the political and from the practical point of view. I do not think he need be ashamed of the political results of our experiments in the Indian Army. If he spoke to the Indian ministers, and men who know Indian public opinion today, he would find that they were fully conscious of the great value to India of the Indian Army. If he had taken the advice of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff on this matter he would have said some more congratulatory words about the value, political as well as practical, of that Indian Army. But I agree that it is seldom right to practise exactly the same methods in Africa as in India, for example, or even in Malaya as in India. However, we should remember that we have had good experience with that Indian Army and we can make use of many of the lessons we learned, and perhaps of some of the men who have had that experience.

I come now to the present position of the Colonial Forces. The point has been made by several hon. Gentlemen that in the past few years the strength of our Colonial Forces has been decreasing rather than increasing just as the international tension seemed to increase. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be advising the House that there had not been a decrease, and that most of the discrepancy in the figures during the last few years was due to the fact that in the early days the Sudan Defence Force and the Arab Legion were included. I should like to give some figures. In 1948–9 there were 151,000, including Gurkhas. It is likely that those figure included the Arab Legion, and possibly the Sudan Defence Force as well. For 1949–50 the figure was 94,000. It seems likely that between those two years these two forces were omitted.

For 1950–51 the figure was 71,000 and for 1951–52 the figure is 67,000. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman, though he did not remind the House as I thought he ought to have done, that the figure of 67,000 includes 10,000 Gurkhas so that the actual figure for the Colonial Forces is 57,000, as opposed to 37,000 which was the approximate figure in 1939 just before the war, and the figure of 428,000 which was the approximate strength at the peak stage of the war. Surely, those figures justify our contention that the Government have allowed the strength of our Colonial forces to dwindle.

Mr. Strachey

The figures are complicated. Actually, they are like this. The figure of 90,000, included the Arab Legion, the Ceylon Forces and the other main forces which have gone out of the figure although they are still in existence. They amounted to 32,000. I think it is true to say that, since 1948, there has been no perceptible net decrease in the Colonial Forces. The Gurkhas have been in the figures and out of the figures, but I think it is true to say that they are included in both those figures. Of course, there has been a great decrease compared with the war-time figure—no one would contest that—but I do not think it could be argued that since 1948 there has been a decrease.

Mr. Low

I agree that, if that is so, the figures are very complicated indeed.

Mr. Strachey

They are.

Mr. Low

I have merely taken the figures which appear in the Army Estimates. I am not able to take any others. Judging from them, and from the figures in the Army Estimates published the other day, there appears to have been a constant drop at a time when there ought to have been a constant increase. Surely, that is the point. I said that there ought to have been a constant increase if His Majesty's Government were really going into the problem of our Colonial Forces and Colonial defence in the context of Imperial or Commonwealth Defence. At a time when international tension was increasing, they ought to have done something other than to allow these figures to decrease every year.

It is generally accepted that, at last, the time has come when that process should be reversed and when there should be some development, as the right hon. Gentleman put it. He reminded us that development should not be very fast. That is out of accord with his principles about the development over groundnuts, though I hope that the results will be equally out of accord with the results which he secured over groundnuts. Why is it that it is generally agreed that some expansion is desirable? I will talk about the amount of the expansion later. It is agreed, first, because of the local defence and internal security of the Colonies themselves; secondly, because of regional defence of the area; and thirdly, because of the wider demands of Commonwealth and Western Defence, whether in the Fat East or the Middle East.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) about the importance of an African division playing some part in a Middle East reserve. All that will help the general strength of the Western nations. It will help the feeling in the Colonies that they are taking a share in the defence of the West. It will also have an indirect result on Western defence, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), in that it will release for Europe British troops who, to a certain extent, are now being wasted in garrison and other duties. That point has been made on all sides of the House, and was made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in a notable speech on the Army Estimates last year. It is a point we should by no means under-estimate at this time.

What should be the extent of the expansion? The Secretary of State for War and the Minister of State, I think quite wrongly, seemed to think that we on this side of the House were out for a rush expansion to very large figures indeed. I do not know where he had that idea. I think he was trying to imagine some great difference that existed between himself and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde) who moved and seconded this Motion.

We are as conscious as he is of the difficulties. It has been explained by many of my hon. and gallant Friends who have had experience with West African and East African troops. I think the same difficulties would apply to Malaya, in different ways. What we want to see is the building up of an extra division in Africa and the creation of more regiments in Malaya. The right hon. Gentleman has said he wants that too. We are at one in what we want, but we do not want anything to be rushed or disorderly. But whenever the Government are asked to move quickly they always say they are being rushed. We remember we have had great difficulty in getting the Minister to come to that Box and say that he is going into the question of development. We have been told for many years that it is a good idea, and we have now reached a stage further.

We should like to see another division in Africa, for example, and more battalions in Malaya. We should like to see an increase in the figures in other Colonies, at least up to the 1939 figures. The Minister of State pointed out that in some cases the figures were below that level. We should like to see those figures restored and, if possible, increased. We are conscious of the difficulty, but having accepted that there are difficulties we should try to overcome them. I think they can be overcome.

The first difficulty is money. All Forces, of course, cost money and we cannot expect that Colonial Governments can pay for an increase in their Forces when it is already understood that they are not able to pay the full cost of their Forces today. But we know that there is an agreement between His Majesty's Government and the Colonial Governments—and we understand that that agreement can be altered from time to time—as to how the cost of the Forces is to be shared between the Colonial Government and His Majesty's Government. It would seem that money spent by the British taxpayer on increasing such Forces is money well spent from the point of view of the taxpayer himself.

I come now to the question of equipment which the Secretary of State for War used as an excuse in February. I thought then, and I still think, that it is a very bad excuse. These Forces want rifles, some artillery perhaps, some vehicles and some infantry weapons. Are we really short of these things? Where have they gone? Where is the equipment used by 400,000 colonial troops in 1945? We need perhaps only one-fifth of that equipment today. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks about that excuse he will realise that it holds no water at all.

Then there is the much more difficult problem of British N.C.Os. and officers who are required to lead these forces and look after them until the forces themselves can produce a full complement of commissioned officers. We know that that is bound to take time. Of course, we are short of British officers and N.C.Os., and the right hon. Gentleman's Under-Secretary in the Army Estimates debate pointed out that since there is that shortage it might be wise today to use available officers and N.C.Os. for British Forces rather than for Colonial Forces. We do not take that view. We do not think we need be so short of British officers and N.C.Os. We think that if proper terms are offered to suitable selected officers to join West African or East African or Malayan Forces we shall get the men we want, provided the terms are proper terms.

There is a spirit of adventure still in this country today, and we shall get those men if we give them proper terms and show them that they are going to do a proper job. That spirit gave us officers in the Indian Army. That spirit will give us officers for Colonial Forces, but we must pay them properly. We must give them proper allowances, and I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that we must not subject them to British tax when they are serving us as part of West African Forces. There is the language problem, and this is a problem not only with British officers but with the Forces at large—a problem so well illustrated by one or two of my hon. Friends. We accept it as a problem, but surely it can be solved.

Now I should like to say a word or two about the Amendment. The Amendment seems to me far better than the speeches with which it was moved.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Which Amendment?

Mr. Low

The Amendment which has been moved and which is now before the House. I should like to ask the mover of the Amendment a question about one point which is not absolutely clear from the wording of the Amendment. It refers to the possibility of raising further forces… Does that mean raising volunteer forces only, or does it include conscription? We should not like it if it included conscription.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Why not?

Captain Field


Mr. Low

I take it that it refers to volunteer forces only.

Captain Field

I dealt with the recruitment of Colonial volunteers in my speech.

Mr. Low

I have already pointed out to the hon. Gentleman that there was a difference between the wording of the Amendment and the speeches made in support of it, and this is one of them. The other differences were in an opposite direction.

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

Do I understand from the hon. Gentleman that the party opposite is opposed to the principle of conscription?

Mr. Low

We are talking at the moment about raising Colonial Forces; I am giving it as my opinion that I do not wish to see the principle of conscription applied to Colonial Forces at this juncture, and I believe that to be the opinion of right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House.

Mr. Bing

I suppose the hon. Gentleman realises that conscription is applied in parts of Rhodesia to the white inhabitants? Does he condemn that?

Mr. Low

We are talking at the moment about raising Colonial Forces, and I have asked what is meant by the Amendment. I have got one view from the mover, and I gather I am having another one from the seconder. Since the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) made such a scurrilous and really mischievous speech, I do not think we need worry too much about him. I wish he had been speaking to the House in the frame of mind in which practically every other speaker in this most important debate has done. It was not only to a large extent a waste of time, but I think it did some damage to this important debate that he should have introduced these more than controversial problems relating to his views on Northern Ireland.

Mr. Bing

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would place it on record that he entirely repudiates the view that houses or jobs should not be given to people on account of their religious beliefs. That is all we require.

Mr. Low

That might be a very interesting matter to discuss and a matter on which my view might be extremely important on another occasion, but this is a debate on the importance of Colonial Forces——

Mr. Bing rose——

Mr. Low

The hon. Gentleman shows once again that he is not really interested in the spirit of this debate. If he were he would not be trying to waste the last few minutes in dealing with a little petty problem of his own.

Mr. Scholefield Allen rose——

Mr. Low

I think the time has come when I should bring this speech to an end. As I have said, the wording of this Amendment is different from some of the speeches which were made in support of it. I shall ask my hon. Friends to accept the wording of the Amendment, but before I do so I should like to remind the Government, who have accepted the Amendment, and their supporters, who have moved it, that it is a criticism of, an attack upon the Government; it invites them to do something which they said they had done a year ago.

In the course of the Defence White Paper of 1950 they said there had been a review of the colonial forces by the Chiefs of Staff Committee and that this had been followed by consultations with the Colonial Governments concerned and, in the case of the East and West African colonies, by a conference in London. That is just the process which we are inviting them to repeat. It seemed to be a singularly fruitless process when it was first tried. We hope that on the second occasion when we have this conference?something will quickly result and that by this time next year there will be an expansion of the Colonial Forces which will, in itself, assist the development of the Colonies, will assist the defence and security of the Colonies and will play a great part in assisting in the security of the Western world.

In conclusion, let us remember that the object of building up these Forces is that of preventing war—of deterring aggression wherever it may be. I invite the right hon. Gentelmen on the Government Front Bench to give their earnest attention to the early expansion of these forces.

3.58 p.m.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

We have heard a most interesting argument from the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low). He has argued that he is against conscription for black people while presumably he is in favour of conscription for white people. Thus, for the first time, we have a discrimination here. The party opposite are in favour of conscription for us and opposed to conscription for the coloured races.

The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) and myself regard both the Motion and the Amendments as objectionable.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedfordshire) rose in his place and claimed to move,

"That the Question be now put,"but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question, as he thought the House would soon be willing to come to a decision without that Motion.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question, "put, and negatived.

Proposed words there added.

Main Question, as amended put.

The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes 3.

Division No. 61.] AYES [4.0 p.m.
Adams, H. R. Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C Mulvey, A.
Allen, Scholcfield (Crewe) Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Murray, J. D.
Alport, C. J. M. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Nally, W.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Grey, C. F. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Bacon, Miss Alice Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Paget, R. T.
Balfour, A. Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange) Pannell, T. C.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J Grimond, J. Pargiter, G. A
Bartley, P. Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Paton, J.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon F. J Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Pearson, A.
Benson, G. Hall, John (Gateshead, W) Peart, T. F
Beswick, F. Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Poole, C.
Blenkinsop, A. Hamilton, W. W Popplewell, E.
Bossom, A. C. Hannan, W Proctor, W. T.
Bottomley, A. G Hargreaves, A. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Bowden, H. W Harris, Reader (Heston) Reeves, J.
Bower, Norman Hastings, S. Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Herbison, Miss M. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Braine, B. R. Hewitson, Capt. M. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Holman, P. Ross, William (Kllmarnock)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Holmes, Horace (Hemsworn) Royle, C.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Houghton, D. Russell, R. S.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N) Savory, Prof. D. L.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A (Saffron Walden) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Shinwell, Rt. Hon E
Callaghan, L. J. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Simmons, C. J.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Slater, J.
Cattle, Mrs. B. A. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Champion, A. J. Janner, B. Snow, J W.
Channon, H Jay, D. P. T. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank
Chetwynd, G. R Jeger, George (Goole) Sparks, J. A.
Collick, P. Jenkins, R. H Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Conant, Maj. R J E Johnson, James (Rugby) Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Cove, W. G. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S) Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne) Kenyon, C. Sylvester, G. O.
Crosland, C. A. R Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Crossman, R H S Kinghorn, San. Ldr. E. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Crouch, R. F. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Cundlf, F. W. Lennox-Boyd, A T Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Dalnes, P. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham N) Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lindgren, G S Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
de Freitas, G. Linstead, H N Thurtle, Ernest
Deer, G. Lipton, Lt.-Col M Tomney, F.
Delargy, H. J. Low, A. R. W. Turner-Samuels, M.
Dodds-Parker, A D Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S) Ungoed-Thomas, A. L
Donnelly, D. Macdonald, A J. F. (Roxburgh) Vane, W. M. F.
Driberg, T. E. N. McKay, John (Wallsend) Vernon, W. F.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W Bromwich) McKibbin, A. Wallace, H. W.
Duthie, W. S. McLeavy, F. Webbe, Sir Harold
Dye, S. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Weitzman, D.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Edelman, M. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E) Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Evans, Edward (Lowesloft) Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. Wilkins, W. A.
Ewart, R Maudling R. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Follick, M. Messer F. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Foot, M. M. Middlelon, Mrs. L. Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Fort, R. Mikardo, Ian Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon H. T N Mltchison, G. R Wyatt, W. L.
Gammans, L. D. Moeran, E. W
Ganley, Mrs. C. S Moody, A. S. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gibson, C. W. Morley. R. Captain Field and Mr. Bing.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Mr. Emrys Hughes and
Sorensen, R. W. Mr. James Hudson.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved: That this House, remembering the splendid service given during two world wars by His Majesty's subjects in the Colonies and Dependencies invites the Government, in consultation with the Governments concerned, to investigate the possibility of raising further forces amongst His Majesty's subjects in the Colonies and Dependencies to serve in the cause of democratic freedom.