§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
Those of us who take part in colonial debates of this general character, whether they be Ministers or Members, are faced with the same kind of dilemma. The field is so wide, the number of subjects that can be covered is so varied, that it is impossible within the compass of a single speech or the ambit of a single debate to do justice to this very important problem.
I should like to begin by apologising in anticipation for myself, and, I believe, for the Minister and all hon. Members, if perchance in the course of this debate one or other of the 50 separate Colonial Territories is not referred to. That will not be because we have forgotten them or are unmindful of them and their problems, but because we are compelled by the circumstances of time to be selective and to compress our remarks into as short a time as possible.
Our difficulty in this respect is added to in these days by the stream of literature that continually pours from the Colonial Office. I am sure that all who take an interest in these matters—an ever-growing number on all sides of the House—will join with me in paying tribute to the excellence of the literature from the Colonial Office. The difficulty is to find 2346 time to read all, or even only a part, of it.
There are the Annual Report and other reports. I will refer to only one of them. I hope that at some time in the future we shall have an opportunity of debating it. Recently there has been published one of the periodical regional reports which the Colonial Office publish. It is the regional report for the period 1939 to 1952 on the British Dependencies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, a very valuable document. I hope that in the not too distant future it may be possible for us to find time to discuss the affairs of this group of territories and, in particular, that we shall be able to do that when the Secretary of State has been able to arrange for the conference which is projected to discuss their future constitutional position and their relationship to one another.
I propose to confine my remarks to three subjects: Kenya, and its land problem; secondly, some aspects of the situation in Malaya; and thirdly, the problem of economic and social development in the Colonies, with particular reference to the future of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the Colonial Development Corporation, on the lines of a reference to a statement made by the Under-Secretary of State in another place which seems to me to raise very important issues.
On the question of Kenya, when I was in Kenya on a brief visit in 1951, I found there were two outstandingly important problems in that Colony of many problems, many difficulties and immense possibilities. There was, first, the constitutional problem, the urgent problem of seeking to build a unified nation out of three major communities—Europeans, Africans and Asians.
On the constitutional issue I found that their ideas about the future differed very widely indeed. It so happened that on the very day I left the Colony I called together representatives of the communities in the Legislative Council, and this is a paraphrase of what I said to them: "You have all submitted your ideas to me about the constitutional future of this Colony. They differ widely. I am very anxious that you yourselves should make the utmost efforts to settle your constitutional future by agreement among yourselves."
2347 If I may be pardoned for saying this after a very brief experience as Secretary of State for the Colonies, I would tell the Committee that we have reached the stage where we cannot rule by decree. We have gone far beyond that stage, and it is important that we should realise it. In the 20 months I was in office, we brought into operation 11 new constitutions. We have now passed a long way beyond the stage when we can enforce settlements on colonial peoples. We now seek to get them to agree to what is suggested to them, and I am glad to say they accepted the suggestion in this case that there should be adjustments.
The most important part of the adjustments, which we made immediately, was to bring into the legislative council an African member for the first time. We suggested that during the four years, which began this year, that the constitution was running they should utilise the time to come together and work out in agreement their future constitutional development. They accepted that offer, and it is my fervent hope that in the time available to them they will be able to work out in agreement their constitutional future.
Upon the land problem, with which I was confronted, I made no pronouncement; but I had discussions with various people in Kenya and with the then Governor, who undertook to examine the whole situation and to think of all possible solutions, and in due course to give to the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Government of this country the benefit of his advice, based on his long experience.
This land problem in Kenya has, in a sense, to be seen to be fully realised. It is a problem which cannot be understood unless it is seen in its own setting. Here in this Colony, as it appears to the visitor seeing it for the first time, we find what looks like a slice of England dropped into the middle of Africa. There are English farms and English farming; with 3,000 European farmers and 200,000 to 250,000 African workers on those farms They work in what seemed to me—I use the phrase as a descriptive phrase—to be a mild form of feudalism. Surrounding this slice of England in the middle of Africa are millions of Africans with their primitive agriculture. I believe it is true 2348 to say that 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the Africans in Kenya live in territories adjacent at various points to what are described and known as the White Highlands.
What constitutes a problem in Kenya, as in all the other undeveloped places in the world, is that the 'population is increasing. Perhaps one of the major problems of our day is that, with the marvels of modern medicine and the development of social services, we are saving lives far quicker than we are developing resources to feed mouths.
In Kenya the African population is growing and, in consequence, there is developing the problem of the serious overcrowding of what are generally called the native reserves. This increasing population, related to tribal customs, leads to a still further fragmentation of their holdings and a further deterioration of the soil, and this is creating a very serious problem of land hunger. I hope it will be recognised by everyone that it has become a very immediate problem.
We have on the Order Paper a Motion concerning land utilisation in Kenya and there is an Amendment to our Motion, but I hope it is common ground that none of us would dispute that there is a very immediate problem of land hunger. We cannot shut our eyes to it. We must seek to understand it and to find a solution. I suggest that we can all bend our energies to try to seek a solution by agreement and it is to that point that I wish to devote myself this afternoon.
I do not propose to seek to relate the history of this matter. What has been, has been. It cannot be recalled. But in Kenya we find that there are a large number of Europeans who were allowed to settle there, and indeed were encouraged to do so. They have made, are making, and will continue to make, a very important contribution to the economy of the country. It is right that we should pay our tribute to the contribution which they have made. But they are surrounded by Africans who are feeling increasingly the acute problem of land hunger, soil deterioration and soil erosion. There is not enough land for them.
Let us face frankly the problem which is confronting the Africans. They see quite close to them the White Highlands, large farms of 2,000 acres and sometimes 2349 even more than 2,000 acres. With this pressure of population upon the land and this consequenial danger of a reduction in the standard of life—let us realise that and put ourselves in their position—it would be the most natural thing in the world that the Africans should begin to make demands for some of the White Highlands for themselves.
I wish to explain briefly the approach that we make and the solution which we suggest which should be considered and which is embodied in our Motion. It is, first, that we should not on either side, European or African, or in this Committee, seek at this stage to continue the sterile controversy about past history. I do not think that will help at all. We should concentrate on seeking a solution by agreement. We say, first of all, if I may summarise the terms of our Motion, that the aim of agricultural policy and land policy in Kenya should be the transition, as rapidly as is possible and practicable, from tribal subsistence agriculture to a modern form of farming, without which there is no prospect of maintaining the standard of life of the people. We say that that should be the principal aim of our policy, and that we should take all steps open to us in order that we may be able to make that transition as rapidly as possible, bearing in mind all the while that we are really fighting against time because of the rapidly increasing population and the consequential land hunger.
We say that, with this end in view, there should be a rapid acceleration of the plans for the spread of modern knowledge and modern technique among the African farmers, and, in order to make that possible, we further suggest that there should be far more adequate provision that exists at present for agricultural credit. We further say that there should be active encouragement of the establishment of producer co-operatives amongst the peasants, and I should like to say a word or two about the latter point.
The problem confronting us is created by a system of agriculture under which tribal customs of living have cut up the land into small holdings. We are also confronted with the very deep attachment of the natives to their tiny pieces of land; and yet we know perfectly well that, unless we can provide for a larger area in which modern techniques can be 2350 applied and modern equipment can be used, there is no prospect of raising the standard of life or even of maintaining it.
How can that be done? Is there a means of achieving that objective without disturbing the Africans' attachment to their land? It is true that we have had to disturb it sometimes and, when we have done so, we have had a very difficult problem indeed, producing all kinds of repercussions. I therefore ask whether, without actually disturbing what I would call, descriptively, the tribal basis of holding land in agriculture, we can make it possible for modern technique and knowledge to be more widely spread? I think the answer is in the co-operatives, and we therefore urge, as part of the solution to this problem, that there should be more active and whole-hearted encouragement of the establishment of producer cooperatives, because I believe that they can make—as indeed they are making at present—a contribution to the spread of modern knowledge amongst the Africans.
As part of these plans, we make another suggestion, and I should like to read to the Committee the words in which this further suggestion is embodied in our Motion. The latter part of that Motion reads:urges Her Majesty's Government to seek agreement in Kenya for a policy which will permit Africans, and in particular African cooperatives, to own lands in the highlands and which will enable the Government of Kenya to acquire, as part of a general policy of agricultural development, unused land in that area for African use, with the necessary safeguard to secure proper conservation of soil fertility.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question? Concerning these suggestions which he has put forward, did he ask Sir Philip Mitchell for advice, and did they emanate from that advice? Secondly, in the estimation of the right hon. Gentleman, how much land was unused in the highlands?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The suggestions embodied in this Motion are suggestions for which my right hon. Friends and myself take responsibility, and to which the Executive of the party to which I am privileged to belong has given full consideration. We accept full responsibility for them, but they do not relate to Sir Philip Mitchell's Report, which had not been received when I left the Colonial Office.
2351 In reply to the hon. Gentleman's second question, I could not say how much unused land there is. I do not want anybody to put their claim too high here, because I have not found anyone in Kenya who would claim that all the land in the highlands is farmed as efficiently as it might be. I did not find anyone in Kenya who, looking at those thousands of acres of the highlands, would say that all of that land was farmed efficiently or was producing as much as it ought to produce.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the area to which he has referred represents only 5 per cent. of the whole of the Kenya territory?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I know that perfectly well, and I would say that we could easily have a controversy or a slanging match about this, but I do not want it. May I ask the hon. Gentleman this question? Let us suppose that we were in the position of the Africans in the circumstances which I have described, and in which all the time the amount of land available per person is getting less. Does anyone deny that? We should find that there was, so to speak, on our doorstep, the White Highlands with single farms of 2,000 acres. Is it not sensible to realise that in those circumstances, unless something is done about it, African demands for revision of all the treaties concluded in the past—for which I was asked—will continue and will produce an explosive racial situation which it is our bounden duty to seek to avoid?
§ Mr. Alport
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again, but he will realise that this is a very important point. It will affect, not only Kenya and East Africa, but African opinion generally. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to follow up his argument by placing himself in the position of the Europeans who have been responsible for the development of the highlands?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I thought I had been fair to them. I thought I had begun by paying a tribute to the European farmers and the contribution which they have made. What I am pleading for it that in this matter, as in the other outstandingly important problems with which I dealt when I was in Kenya, we should 2352 seek to find agreement, and not allow the present situation to go on until eventually it boils over. I am sure that all of us realise that, unless some solution is found, this situation can provide the dynamite in Africa five or 10 years hence.
I therefore say that, in this Motion, we have made a constructive approach to this problem. There is much more that I could say about it, and perhaps my remarks have suffered because I have tried to compress them. I say again that this problem of land hunger and the juxtaposition of the overcrowding on the African reserves and the thinly populated White Highlands, confronts the British Government and Kenya with a problem which I think it would be criminal of us not to recognise or not to bend all our energies towards its solution.
During my visit to Kenya, I met the leaders of the three communities, and I was privileged to be able to bring them together and to ask them to seek a solution of their difficulties by agreement, because all of them know in their hearts that they must try to solve them soon.
I leave Kenya and Africa and turn my attention to some aspects of the situation in Malaya. Four years have gone by since guerilla warfare and terrorism came to Malaya. The people of Malaya have lived for those four years under daily and nightly terror. When it is remembered that before the four years 1948 to 1952 during which this guerilla warfare has been proceeding there was a period of years during which Malaya was occupied ruthlessly by the Japanese, one realises that for a very long time the people of Malaya have lived under a very great strain.
I want to pay my tribute to all those who live and work and serve and endure in Malaya, without seeking to mention any particular group or any particular kind of service. I was privileged to visit Malaya over two years ago, and the Secretary of State was there recently. One has to go there to realise the setting. Here is a country in which the jungle is at everybody's back garden and people live in conditions where, at any moment of any day, and particularly of any night after darkness comes round about seven o'clock and the blinds are drawn, there may be an attack or an ambush.
I pay my tribute to all those who are living in Malaya and who are enduring these trials with so much fortitude and 2353 bravery. I hope that there is unanimous agreement in this Committee that we are resolved to stamp out terrorism in Malaya. Questions are put to me sometimes at meetings in this country asking why we do not leave Malaya. Implicit in those questions sometimes is the idea that if we left Malaya and our boys came home, freedom would follow in that country.
There would be nothing of the kind. It would he the imposition on the people of a ruthless minority rule. I begin, therefore, by saying that it is our duty to stamp out terrorism; and I say now what I said as a Minister—and I am sure that the present Minister will re-affirm it today—that we are determined to carry on until terrorism is stamped out. The problem is not whether we are agreed on that but how it is to be done.
The first thing which it is important for us to convey to the country and to people outside this country is that what we are confronted with in Malaya is not a national upsurge representing the people, but a movement sponsored, led and inspired by the Communists in order to try to secure control of the country. It is generally estimated that there are 5,000 to 6,000 guerilla fighters in the jungle who hide by day and ambush by night.
One of the apparently unchanging factors in the situation in Malaya in the last four years is that, as far as I know—and if the Secretary of State has other information, no doubt he will tell us—there has been no increase in the number of guerillas; and although there have been casualties, no one will say that there has been a substantial decrease in the number. They are able to replace their casualties from their supporters in the country.
I have heard varying estimates of the number of those willing to support them out of a population of somewhere between 5 million and 6 million. It is important to remember these figures for the sake of proportion. They number from 10,000 to the highest estimate I have heard mentioned of 50,000. It is right to say—and I believe it from my experience when I was in the country and from what I learned as Secretary of State—that this movement does not have the support of the vast mass of the people.
2354 In those circumstances, what are the problems? The first problem is that of protecting the people from the terrorists. When I was in Malaya two years ago, the major proposal to that end was the plan designed by Sir Harold Briggs and fully supported by Sir Henry Gurney. I should like to pay my tribute to the memory of Sir Henry Gurney and also to the work of Sir Harold Briggs. That plan was for the re-settling of from 450,000 to 500,000 squatters who had settled in Malaya and who were living, in a sense, outside the orbit of government altogether.
That is an immense problem. I saw it in process of being solved and the Secretary of State has seen it more recently. I believe that up to now, within a period of two and a half years, about 450,000 squatters in Malaya have been re-settled. The settlements are of varying character. The best are very good, but quite frankly some are such as to make one anxious, worried, and apprehensive.
It has been a major operation. I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to tell us whether this settlement scheme is now complete and what are the conditions in the villages and communities in which these people have been resettled. I hope that he will be able to tell us also whether one problem, which we saw looming ahead when re-settlement had been completed, is on the way to solution.
That problem relates to the question of the future security of tenure of these people in areas to which we and the Government of Malaya, as part of policy, have moved them, taking them away from the lands which they had made their own and had cultivated. It is very important for us to realise that this movement creates a problem. These people want to know whether they are re-settled with a reasonable degree of security of tenure to enable them to build their lives in the future.
This is not only a military problem. I expect that the Secretary of State has received deputations, as I did, from people in this country and, indeed, occasionally from people in Malaya who put forward this view. A good many think that they have the short answer to the problem. They have said that all that was required was to put the country under 2355 martial law and then everything would be all right. I have said already that part of the problem is to protect the people from the terrorists. But another part is how to invoke the willing cooperation of the millions of people in Malaya who do not support the terrorists, who are sometimes terrorised by them but who, so far, whatever may be the reasons, do not give us their active co-operation on this problem.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I think that the right hon. Gentleman should know that neither the Commander-in-Chief nor any civil authority, or any official authority, has ever suggested to me the imposition of martial law. I want to make that quite clear.
§ Mr. Griffiths
By delegations and deputations. I am not going to be drawn into saying by whom, but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that they were made.
This problem is the problem of invoking the aid of the population. Very frankly, my own view is that it is absolutely essential that if we are to invoke the aid of the people then, at the same time as we deal with the military aspect of the problem, we must deal with the economic, social and political problems. We cannot dissociate the economic, social and political problems of this area from the military problem. We have a dual task which is to beat the terrorists and to start building now for the future of Malaya. We have to work rapidly towards self-government in Malaya.
I should like the Secretary of State and hon. Members who give their time and thought to this problem to consider what I am about to say. We are going to win this battle, I am sure; and the sooner the better. When we have won it there will be an irresistible demand for self-government in Malaya. Make no mistake about that. The demand is growing. The war itself will add impetus, drive and urgency to it. We have to prepare Malaya so that there are the appropriate institutions which can make it into a democracy. That is what we have to work at.
2356 I should like to deal briefly with some aspects of this problem and to ask some questions about it. The first problem we have to solve is the problem of citizenship. Here we have 5½ million people. The effective political power is almost completely in the hands of the Malayans. The Chinese have no political authority and neither have the Indians. I should like to pay tribute to the work the Commissioner for South-East Asia, Mr. MacDonald, has done in his efforts to get agreement on the terms of citizenship. We marked an advance. There was an agreement upon the terms of a Bill to extend citizenship and to bring more Chinese and Africans into citizenship in Malaya.
I am told that that Bill which had been agreed upon is being held up and is not yet operative because some of the separate States are still proving obstructive. I ask the Secretary of State whether any of the States are still holding it up. If they are, I should like him to say which States they are. It is vitally important not only for the future of Malaya but for the immediate situation that this Bill should be put forward. It is criminal stupidity for any of the States to get in the way of this modest advance towards building a Malayan nation.
I come to the question of elections. I discussed this matter with the late Sir Henry Gurney when he was High Commissioner. I knew how his mind was working. I knew that tentative—I emphasise the word "tentative"—plans had been made. They could not be anything but tentative in view of the position in Malaya. The tentative plan which he had was to hold municipal elections last year or this year in some of the principal towns. Those elections having been held, he planned to follow that up by holding State elections in 1953, leading up to Federal elections in 1954.
I should like to ask the Secretary of State whether that plan is still adhered to and if so, the municipal elections having taken place, since the plan envisaged State elections within about a year or 18 months, whether he can say what arrangements are being made for elections within the States. As it was also agreed that elections for the Federal Legislative Council should take place 2357 after an interval of 18 months, have any arrangements been made for them?
I come to the economic problems of Malaya. A short time ago, in answer to a Question the Secretary of State said that he had discussed with the High Commissioner, when he was on a visit here recently, what steps had been taken to prevent the economic situation in Malaya deteriorating as a result of the sudden drop in the price of rubber. I wish to emphasise one aspect of that question. We are building up many institutions in Malaya. One which is of enormous importance for the future is the institution of trade unions.
One of the happiest memories I have is of meeting the Malayan trade union council with all their delegates representing all communities, Malays, Chinese, Indians and others. I saw in that the possibility not only of building up a strong democratic trade union movement, but of an instrument through which we could promote racial co-operation and unity.
But we find that this young trade union movement is now faced with a situation in which negotiations are taking place for wage adjustments because of the fall in the price of rubber. Though the price of rubber has fallen in Singapore—and that might be a reason for seeking to reduce wages—the cost of living has not fallen in Malaya. I ask the Secretary of State to consider the consequences to this democratic movement. Here is a country in which we must sustain and nurture every single piece of democratic machinery that we have. If we weaken it we are playing right into the hands of the guerrillas and the Communists.
I was deeply impressed by the leaders of this young trade union movement, who were young men from all the races working together. If they have now to go back to their members to say that, in spite of the fact that the cost of living is not going down but going up because of the higgling of the world market and the consequent fall in the price of rubber, their standard of life is to be depressed, I should regard that not as a contribution to victory in Malaya but as a contribution to defeat.
I hope that every effort will be made to ensure that these trade unions are enabled to maintain their wage rates, and 2358 if possible to increase them, and certainly to sustain and improve their standard of life. That is important, not only for the trade unions and the workers, but also for the country as a whole.
I turn to another aspect of the Malayan problem. When I was in Malaya I discussed with the late Sir Henry Gurney his plan, of which I warmly approved, which was put into operation later in 1950 for the setting up of a Rural Industrial Development Authority to promote development among the Malay peasants in the rural areas and to improve life in the kampongs. I ask hon. Members to think of the hundreds of millions of money which have been poured out of that country. Without it our balance of payments position would have been broken to bits. For that reason we have a responsibility. I say frankly—and I do not say it ffensively—that I came back ashamed of some of these kampongs.
Therefore, in our view, it is essential that something should be done. The Rural Industrial Development Authority was set up and a vote of 5 million Straits dollars was made to it for 1951. I gather from the Report which I have seen that 167 projects and schemes were approved in 1951 at a cost of 1,250,000 Straits dollars. Unfortunately, only about one half of this sum was spent though it was allocated for 1951. It is clear from the Report that once again this imaginative effort and this splendid plan is being hampered and held up by the part of the Malayan constitution which dogs the footsteps of—
§ Mr. Griffiths
For the moment, I am merely stating the problem. It is clear that when the plan was put into operation it began with a dispute about whether the officers who were to serve under the plan should be regarded as officers of the Federal Government or the State Government. This is fiddling while Rome burns. I make this appeal to all those responsible in all the States. In my view it is completely unjustifiable that this splendid plan should be held up by a quarrel about whether a man should be an officer of the Federal Government or the State Government. It is clear from the Report that that is one of the reasons.
2359 I should like to know from the Secretary of State whether those difficulties have been completely overcome and, if not, knowing of the difficulties, whether the Government are going to make a complete stand and say to all the States, "You must not obstruct this plan which is so vital to the country," in which statement the Government will have the full support of everybody in the House.
I have already spoken for a long time, but there is one other topic to which I want to come—the problem of economic development. I want to relate it to the problem of the future of the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds and the future of the Colonial Development Corporation. These two major agencies of Her Majesty's Government for promoting social and economic development in the Colonies were conceived, I believe, as being supplementary and complementary to each other. Indeed, I find in the Colonial Development Corporation Report of 1949 some words which set out fairly admirably what was intended to be, and what I believe and hope will be, the relationship between the Colonial Development Welfare Funds and the Colonial Development Corporation.
In that report we find these words:The indispensable foundation of development must be the provision of ports, roads and railways, schools and hospitals. These fall within the sphere of Colonial Government finance, assisted by the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. Upon this basis must be built the agricultural and industrial activities which will raise the level of production, living standards and exportswhich fall largely within the territory of of the Colonial Development Corporation.
We are now half way through the period for which the £140 million was provided under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. I see from the Report which was recently published by the Secretary of State that up to 31st March this year the commitments under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act total £95 million, of which £56 million had been issued. I would hazard the guess that by now most of the £140 million has already been earmarked and that there is very little margin left.
In paragraph 488 of the Report of the Colonial Territories for 1951–52 it is said that there are some Governments who may not be able to carry out their 10-year 2360 programme by 1956 because of shortages and of other difficulties. I should like to know whether it is the Government's intention to make any immediate addition to the sums available under the Colonial Develepment and Welfare Act. It was £120 million. During my tenure of office we added £20 million and made it £140 million. I guess that that amount is now earmarked, and I should like to know whether it is intended to make any immediate addition to the sum that is now available under that fund. I should also like to know whether consideration is being given to what is to happen—I know it looks a long way off—in 1956 when the 10-year period comes to an end.
I now come to the Colonial Development Corporation. The Colonial Development and Welfare Funds, whose money has played a not unimportant part, has had a fairly quiet life. The Colonial Development Corporation, on the other hand, has had its full share of publicity. Its failures and setbacks have been broadcast to the world. Even at Election meetings, the traditional rotten eggs of the old elections were replaced for me, and no doubt for others of my hon. Friends, by Gambia eggs. Having regard to all the publicity given to the failures, the setbacks and the mistakes, to me and I believe to many other people in this country, it will come as an anti-climax to find that the cumulative loss is only £4. million. We should set that loss against other factors, including contributions which have been made to the sterling area.
As for mistakes, I remember being told many years ago, "Do not be afraid of making a mistake. The only man who does not make a mistake is the man who never makes anything." There are others with a far greater knowledge of the Colonies than I have. Do any of them suggest that private enterprise can develop these Colonies without the risk of loss? Does anyone suggest that no mistakes were made before the Colonial Development Corporation began in 1948? The history of our relationship with these countries is strewn with mistakes, losses and muddles.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
Would the right hon. Gentleman relate the figure of £4. million of loss to the total capital already ventured? He will find 2361 that the picture is somewhat different. It represents a quarter of the total capital ventured.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Is do not wish to minimise it, but in view of the glare of publicity I think it is time we made clear that the total loss was only £4½ million.
I now want to come to the function of the Corporation. Again I want to quote from a Report of the Corporation, but for a different year by a different Chairman, as to how the Board saw their Rôle and their function. I quote from the Report of 1950 in which they used these words:Corporation investments should be so laid out as to attract other capital, and to stimulate capital accumulation within the colonies. They cannot be lifted out of the speculative sphere; the Corporation was formed to undertake work which others were not prepared to do and so pave the way for further development.I should like to know whether the Secretary of State and the Government still regard that as being the Rôle of the Colonial Development Corporation, and, if so, I should like to ask a few questions about a statement made by the Under-Secretary of State in another place on the Colonial Development Corporation—a statement which I believe constitutes a major change in policy. From that statement we glean that Her Majesty's Government have laid it down as a directive to the Corporation—I hope hon. Members will observe that the Government are now giving directions to corporations of this kind, not that I quarrel with that—that except in special circumstances, someone else besides the Corporation should share in the risk, whether it is local, or private enterprise or a Colonial Government itself.
I should like to know what are the special circumstances in which the Corporation will be entitled and empowered to carry out projects without sharing in the risk and the operation with private enterprise or with a Colonial Government. We gather from that statement that the Board had asked the Secretary of State that they should receive an allocation from the £110 million that was provided, of which £21 million has been spent; they asked that £20 million should be allocated to them for investigation of projects and for marginal cases. I understand that that has been refused.
What was important was a statement made by the Under-Secretary, which I 2362 took to be the reason why that application was refused. I will quote his words, if that is permissible, because it is an important matter of policy. He said:Investigation which is purely experimental and non-commercial in character is more properly the function of Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 28th May, 1952; Vol. 179, c. 1613.]Does that mean that the Colonial Development Corporation are not to undertake investigations unless they are of a commercial character? If non-commercial investigations are the functions of the Government, in what way is that to apply to the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund?—or is this an indication that whereas the Corporation are debarred from what are called non-commercial investigations, no provision is made in any other way for the Government to undertake them?
To this is added the fact—which was commented on in the Board's last Report—that the raising of the rate of interest from 3 per cent. in the old days to 44 per cent. in 1952 means that in future their earnings½ must average 61 per cent. after payment of colonial tax to meet interest; or more with overheads; more still if advances are to be duly repaid.The statements made by the Under-Secretary in another place constitute a very important change of policy. I hope that the Secretary of State will explain, comment on and amplify those statements. I think it would be a tragedy if, because we have lost £4½ million in four years, we now so completely change the character of the Colonial Development Corporation that, in effect, we shall be saying to the Corporation: "In future you are to act purely as a commercial concern." If that is the intention, why was the Board set up at all? It would be far better to finish with it than merely convert it into a financial institution, especially at a time when the whole world is becoming conscious of the fact that the problem of raising the standard of living of people in undeveloped areas is a major challenge.
This world cannot hope to become a peaceful one when two-thirds of its people are living in abject poverty—onethird rich and two-thirds poor. That situation cannot go on without a catastrophe developing. Discussions are going on in connection with this problem. We have 2363 the Point Four programme. As a Party we have sought to give our minds to the problem of how best we can contribute to the working out of a world plan for mutual aid. If I may inject a personal note, I was very glad and proud to see that a compatriot of mine—David Owen—who has been Under-Secretary of the United Nations for many years, and who is one of the most brilliant of the younger sons of the Principality of Wales, has been appointed to take over special responsibility for this part of the United Nations work. I wish him well.
I have always—long before there was any talk of Point Four or anything else—felt proud that through the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the Colonial Development Corporation we have in a modest way begun to show how the comparatively richer countries can use their resources in order to help the underdeveloped areas of the world. At this time, when the United Nations and the nations of the Western world are discussing and formulating plans to help the poorer areas, it would be a great pity if we pulled back and converted the Colonial Development Corporation into a purely commercial concern.
In conclusion, I would only say that these 50 Colonies, with their 70 million people, are all growing up. They are all on the road to self-government. We have the opportunity of building durable democracies, and if we do that we shall be doing credit to ourselves as a country; we shall be strengthening the Commonwealth and, I think, making a contribution to the well-being and peace of the whole world.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I should like to begin by thanking the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) for having let me know in advance the main subjects which he was going to raise. In a single afternoon and evening devoted to colonial affairs such selectivity is necessary if we are not to outwear the patience of the House.
It would be best to start with some of the economic considerations which were ventilated by the right hon. Gentleman, but before coming to the particular matters of detail I should like to give 2364 some account of the general economic background against which colonial development has to be furthered.
First, I hold the view—and I do not withdraw from it in any respect—that an imaginative and bold policy of colonial development will not only bring the possibility of much greater social services, health and prosperity to the territories but may do much to re-adjust the economic balance between the Old World and the New. That is my belief, and if hon. Members have not done so I think they would be very interested to read the Paley Report, which shows that the United States national production is expected to double by 1975, with all the extra imports of materials that would be involved.
Economically there is one new factor, which is a dominant one, and that is that within our limited powers of vision the demand for primary products, above all of food, appears likely to be insistent during the lifetime of the youngest Members of the House. If we are to believe the experts and the dieticians world famine is almost unavoidable. I take a different view. I believe that the ingenuity and enterprise of man will surmount these difficulties if he can be sure that the demand is there. I believe that that demand is likely to be insistent.
I am old enough to have been a member of the Colonial Marketing Board which sought, by publicity and other means, to find markets for colonial products which we could not sell or which were difficult to sell. Those people—not in this Chamber—who repeat the parrot cry that colonial development was entirely neglected between the wars should remember that no economic good is promoted by developing economic resources, the products of which cannot afterwards he sold. If we could have seen into the future the expansion between the wars would have been greater. It would have been very much greater between the wars if today's conditions of scarcity and prices had existed.
It is worth thinking of the astonishing advances which have been made in colonial development during the last 30 years. For instance, the production of bauxite has risen from a couple of thousand tons per annum to nearly three million tons. The traffic on the Kenya and Uganda Railway has risen from 2365 248,000 tons in 1930 to 4½ million tons at the present time, and the production of copper has risen from 150,000 tons to 313,000 tons annually. The same kind of figures apply to pyrites. I could go on quoting figures until the Committee called for mercy.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I like to be accurate, even if that is unusual. Hon. Members will find that they are not absolutely accurate, but they give the general picture.
I must turn aside to mention that, as soon as I was appointed to the Colonial Office, I caused two studies to be made. The first was, what contribution to world shortages in the short term could the Colonial Territories make? Secondly, what was the possible capital demand over a short term? The object of the first of these studies was to try to concentrate development on producing those commodities which would find the readiest market. That would be a way in which the inhabitants of those territories would get the greatest advantage from development.
I can refer only very briefly to the results of those studies. The first study, I may say, was completed on 12th November, 1951, and it stated, briefly, that there is some prospect of increasing supplies in the short term of copper, cotton, manganese, petroleum, pyrites, sugar, timber, vegetable oil and oil seeds—that is, nine commodities.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
No; there was vegetable oil and oil seeds, which are, indirectly, food. This is not a contentious point; this is what was found as the result of an objective study. At medium or longterm, the commodities were aluminium, iron ore, lead and zinc, tungsten, pulping materials, hides and skins, bananas, tea and tobacco—that is, 10 other commodities.
The concentration on the expansion of these commodities does not mean that we must not push on with the production of many of the existing crops, such as rubber. It means that here are commodities upon which a large part of our development must be concentrated if we are to get the best results quickly. The policy which is being pursued by Her 2366 Majesty's Government is to try to push on with the expanded production of these nine commodities.
They involve, as the Committee will realise, also improving the facilities of transport, the ports and roads so that they are able to carry this increased production and, above all, they involve increasing the technical and advisory services. The right hon. Gentleman referred to this point in speaking, particularly, of Kenya.
Of course, this problem of the technical and advisory services applies all over the Colonial Territories and is one of our most urgent needs. Indeed, I shall have something to say a little later to young men in telling them what fascinating careers await them if they devote their lives to this project.
I am sorry to have to do so, but I must say a word about the way in which primary facilities lag behind production and the very serious situation which exists in the Nigerian Railway—the very awkward position which we walked into there. I have been able to do something in the way of accelerating the delivery of locomotives, but the level of planning of production there has been altogether below what was required. Everybody has excuses. It may be that the railways have been too quickly Africanised, and certainly the number of unserviceable locomotives is far too high, while the ports are congested and the conditions in the workshops are not good.
I must tell the Committee quite starkly that nothing we can do will improve that situation this year. We came on to the scene too late to put it right. Nevertheless, I have taken a number of measures which I hope will make a noticeable impact next year, but the Committee must understand and must face the fact that there will be a considerable carry-over of groundnuts in Nigeria which cannot be transported. I do not want to make any offensive remarks, but I must pass the reflection that, if part of the money which has been spent on trying to grow groundnuts where they are difficult to grow had been spent on transport in an area where they can be grown, our situation would have been very much better.
The Committee will recall that I said I had caused two studies to be made, first 2367 of all of the commodities on which we should concentrate and, secondly, of what was the capital position.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very important statement of policy. Would he be kind enough to tell the Committee whether the Government have had in mind the necessity of growing food for the people who are to be transferred from food growing into the extracting industries?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Gentleman is quite right. This is one of the problems which exist all the time, and it is not only a question for the extracting industries. It is also a problem of the relationship between the cash commodities, such as groundnuts, and the subsistence crops. This is certainly a problem, and there is much evidence in West Africa, at any rate, that too much attention is being paid to the cash and export commodities and not enough to the subsistence crops upon which the population depend.
The other study, which is the study of capital needs for colonial development in the short term is much more of guesswork. The further away we get, the more guesswork there is. I must say that the result is somewhat surprising, and I believe it will surprise the Committee. I should say that over the next three years the shortages of capital will not be predominant factors in colonial development. There are shortages, but I think they are manageable. What is really happening is that the money cannot be spent quickly enough owing to the tight supplies of steel and delays in imported machinery, the shortage of skilled labour and the very indifferent organisation of the local resources. The plain fact is that many of these economies cannot absorb very large sums of capital for internal development in the short run.
Nevertheless, I want to say this very sincerely—over the next decade it seems to me to be axiomatic that we shall not have enough capital collected in this country to develop the Colonial Territories at the rate which we should desire. I do not know of any means, from a lifetime of financial knowledge, of how one can invest deficits in promoting development in under-developed countries. The 2368 deficits exist today. I hope they are short term, and I hope we shall have surpluses, but nevertheless, I think it is impossible to believe that our surpluses will be enough to invest in those countries at a rate which we all desire to see.
It seems to me, therefore, to be quite a sensible policy to try to bring in foreign capital and, above all, loan capital, provided that in doing so we do not sell our birthright, if I may use a popular term. In that way, by bringing in foreign capital, we shall be doing two things. We shall be accelerating development and, I think, we shall be pursuing what is a traditional and almost a classical economic policy, which is, trying to get the surpluses of the creditor countries invested, as they were in the days of our forefathers, in the development of undeveloped countries, who are the debtors.
If we have anxieties about this, we should look at the United States, many of whose primary facilities were developed by British capital. Look at them today; one would hardly think they have sold their birthright. On the contrary, that capital provided the irrigation which has opened up these vast lands to production.
Before I leave the economic background, I have something more to say about agriculture. I feel that I must say this. Of course, it remains the prime source of wealth in the Colonial Territories. Mineral development and the extracting industries, as the right hon. Gentleman says, have to go on and to be developed side by side with it. We must watch this labour balance. Secondary industries should be encouraged if they are natural and healthy, but they ought not to be artificially forced, and, above all, we ought to help those which serve primary production.
In Nigeria, for example, there is some prospect of having a large lead-zinc mine. There is sulphide ore. The roasting and smelting of those ores will produce sulphuric acid. We know that we have phosphate rock in Nigeria, 400 miles away from the mine, but if we can marry the sulphuric acid and the phosphate rock, we should get a superphosphate industry which, if present experiments are subsequently confirmed, will be very valuable in restoring the fertility of the soil after having grown many of these cash crops.
2369 The problem of agriculture all over these territories is one of low fertility, wasteful rotation, and the fact that mixed farming is in most parts of the Colonial Empire in its infancy. The possibilities are sometimes described as limitless. That is, perhaps, a hyperbolical epithet, but it is very nearly true: the possibilities in agriculture in the Colonial Territories are almost limitless. In this we must rely on the peasants. There must be emphasis all through on the peasant farmer, the peasant proprietor.
The peasant farmer is the man we must concentrate on trying to help in all ways we can—giving him advice, technical knowledge; hiring machines; and spending for him a little capital to enable him to get the greatest return from his labour. Our exception to this rule is cattle ranching, which requires large sums of capital, but the opportunities of plantation industries under a joint stock system are much more limited than the possibilities of peasant agriculture. This is the policy on which at the present moment we are concentrating.
The career open to agricultural officers coming from the colleges here opens up one of the most fascinating and constructive and satisfying lives a man can find. They are going to work among a population who are glad to see them, who are helpful and co-operative, and touchingly grateful for all that can be done for them. It is a fascinating life, and unless we have lost our touch—which I do not think we have—it ought not to be difficult to till the ranks of the agricultural services in many of these territories.
I should have liked to have referred to some very interesting scenes. I shall for one moment talk of the rice crop in Sierra Leone and Gambia, for that illustrates what I mean by the importance of peasant agriculture. The mangrove swamps on the sides of the rivers afford very good rice growing lands. One does not have to grow manure crops to reestablish fertility. The rivers themselves do that. They bring down the rich alluvials and replace what has been taken out of the land. In Gambia there have been built some access bunds not wider than about three feet. This provides access particularly to the women, because rice growing is a woman's industry in those parts, and these bunds enable the woman to get access to the swamps and to plant rice. In Sierra 2370 Leone swamps are mechanically ploughed and drilled increasingly rapidly. Then there is the British Guiana Scheme.
However, to return to West Africa, I hope and believe that in the course of the next five years not only will those territories become self-supporting in rice but that they will also be substantial exporters to others. As the Committee knows, there is a very precarious rice situation, and those supplies would be a very valuable contribution to world supplies.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves British Guiana, would he elaborate the scheme?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am talking now about Gambia. I only mentioned British Guiana, I have much ground to cover, and I cannot really go into great detail.
I turn now LO the subject of the Colonial Development Corporation, about which the right hon. Gentleman inquired. I want to be as succinct as I can. At the outset I would say quite candidly that, in my view, the original conception of the C.D.C. was not fully thought out, and that many of the canons which govern commercial enterprises were ignored. The object of organisation, whether it is Governmental, commercial, financial, or social, or whatever hon. Members like, is to present problems to those who are trained to solve them, and to no one else. If hon. Members will just chew that platitude over, I think they will find that there is a great deal more in it than appears on the surface.
The Corporation has been entrusted with the most heterogeneous business that has ever swum into my knowledge—one moment tropical agriculture, with its many sub-divisions of rice, sorghum, vegetable oils, and so on; at another moment cattle raising; at another real estate; at another cold storage; at another fishing; at another mineral exploration. But it is not only heterogeneous in character, but its geographical sprawl is almost unbelievable.
These undertakings are to be carried out in countries with very different climates in various stages of economic development, with differences of transport, labour and marketing. So Lord Reith and his colleagues—I want to make this absolutely clear—are faced with one of the most difficult organisa- 2371 tional problems with which any Board has ever been faced, and the chances of success depend upon many alterations in policy and practice which Lord Reith and his colleagues are now tackling. In these the Colonial Office and the Secretary of State, within their power, must help as far as possible. The right hon. Gentleman asked if there had been a change of policy. I do not know whether he will say so or not, but those views were laid down as salutary and necessary in the present situation.
There is a number of questions on this matter which hon. Members interested must constantly ask themselves, and if I try to answer them, perhaps, some light may be thrown on what is a very complicated and, let me say, largely unresolved problem. First of all, what is the field over which the C.D.C. is supposed to operate, and how does it divide from that of colonial development and welfare? The answer is, I think, that if a proposition is entirely uncommercial and is undertaken for the long-term benefit of the Colony—and much research and experimental work comes into this category—then it is outside the usual ambit of C.D.C. I think it would come under other funds.
C.D.C. is intended to act as a commercial concern, and has the advantage of raising money at gilt-edged rates, and it is supposed to use it so that it becomes self-supporting, without aid, and pay its way, taking one year with another. This line of demarcation is fairly clear, but I admit that there are here and there propositions, on which the return may be marginal or even negligible, which fall outside the area of colonial development and welfare and into the area of the Colonial Development Corporation. Equally, it is not the Rôle of the C.D.C. to risk the taxpayers' money in propositions where private enterprise is willing to take the risks without any help from C.D.C.
It is rather superficial, I suggest, to imagine that this is quite such a limited field as appears at first sight. The sums available to the C.D.C. are very large, and, as I shall mention later, they have supplemented—and are continuing to do so—risk capital in many instances. Nor, as a rule, in businesses so hazardous are private concerns willing to risk their 2372 money on returns so low as the C.D.C. would accept, and they would have to raise their money at far higher rates of interest than those at which the C.D.C. would be able to do. So I must say—I hope I shall not shock hon. Members opposite—that if a proposition is unlikely to yield the gilt-edged rate the Corporation as a rule should not be prepared to plunge into it.
It is not often realised that when a failure is made like the Gambia poultry scheme or the Atlantic fisheries, under a previous dispensation of the Corporation, not only is the taxpayers' money lost but the whole cause of colonial development receives a blow. It is not the amount of money that is generally lost that matters so much. I do not think that is so very important having regard to the whole of our economy. What is important is that it has been advertised to the world that risks have been taken which could have been avoided with the most ordinary commercial prudence.
There is no one in this Committee now who thought a year ago that the organisation of the Colonial Development Corporation was satisfactory. That is what I mean. It is not the sum of money, but the fact that risks have been taken that, with proper knowledge and forethought, could have been overcome. In these circumstances, private capital becomes nervous, and where we hope to get foreign loans or investments these things do not help. It is a pity they should get so much publicity.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Unfortunately, when ridiculous follies are committed and advertised one cannot prevent them from becoming known. It is one of the safeguards of democracy, and public opinion should not be prevented from being concentrated on them. In some cases it is not always helpful, but that is the world of free speech in which we live, and the right hon. Gentleman is the first to acknowledge his own right to pull up anything that is backward and to bring it into the light of day. In the long run, I think free criticism irrigates the wound and prevents it from becoming septic.
The next question relates to the area of responsibility of the Secretary of State. If he is charged with responsibility—
§ Mr. Griffiths
I understand that what is actually taking place now is a redistribution of powers and fields between C.D.W. and C.D.C. Is it proposed to cease to employ the Corporation in its present functions?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I would rather the right hon. Gentleman listened to what I have to say on this, and perhaps questioned me before I pass on to other subjects. I am afraid I have not finished with this point yet.
If the Secretary of State is to be charged with the responsibility in detail for all the schemes undertaken, for their cost and for the plans for developing the projects, then I can see no object at all in having a Corporation. Speaking personally, if I had the responsibility I should wish to have the direction. I must satisfy myself that there is a prima facie case for the project, and with Lord Reith's help I must get sufficient information—and not more—in order to form a judgment on the prima facie case. Lord Reith and his colleagues should know, and are entitled to know—and I have discussed it with them at great length—what are the criteria upon which capital sanction should be given by the Secretary of State in addition to his being satisfied that there is a prima facie case for these various projects.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Yes, and Lord Reith and his colleagues have assured me that before I arrived on the scene they were already proceeding on these lines and thinking in these directions. I have said that, save in exceptional circumstances, sanctions will not be given unless one of the four criteria I must mention to the Committee is satisfied. They are: First, is the Colonial Government in whose territory the project lies willing to participate in it if it has the money to do so? Secondly, where there is local knowledge and where there are local experts, have they been mobilised, so to speak, and are they to be on the board of the operating company in that territory? Thirdly, where there is local capital, has it been offered a participation and has it accepted? Fourthly, has the Corporation tried to associate with itself any company in the United Kingdom or elsewhere carrying on the same kind of business?
2374 I have not the time to dilate on the reasons for these four criteria, but I must shortly say that on the first one it is greatly to the advantage of any Colonial Government to see the C.D.C. spending money in its territory whether afterwards the money fructifies or not. If they share the risk, their attitude will be different. Secondly, on local expertise I need not dilate; the point is obvious. The third criterion is the local capital. It is not only desirable to get local capital, but desirable to have it known that our object is to try to get local participation in resources belonging to them.
The fourth criterion is also very clear. If we can get a United Kingdom company to take an investment which "hurts"—and I mean "hurts—a sum large enough to affect the company together with the Corporation, then the Corporation gains at one stroke a mature knowledge of the problem, and will get much useful advice. There are many examples of this kind to be found in the Corporation's latest report—hemp growing in North Borneo, timber extraction in British Guiana, and mining in Africa.
I am the last one to wish to rake over the failures of the past, but I must say that many of them could have been avoided before the present management took over by ordinary canons of commercial prudence, if local experts had been consulted and if the general outlook of the Corporation had been less hubristic, by which I mean, if it had not shown that species of over-confidence which can only come from despising past experience, and if it had not ignored past experience and all other commercial practice.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman will realise that on this board there were some very eminent businessmen.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The board is not the administrative instrument; it is the advisory one. There is the executive side of the board and the advisory side. I am saying that there is a great deal of difference between "know-how" and "know-better" and many of the mistakes could have been avoided if the "know-better" had not been at the root of these things.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich) rose—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The Corporation is served by a very loyal and capable staff and we must give them the support and the acknowledgment they deserve. We must pay proper attention to those of the Corporation's enterprises which are going well. We must not get into the attitude of the dog who always runs into the garden and brings in some unpleasant bones and deposits them on the drawing-room carpet. Such an attitude is not going to be helpful for the affairs of the C.D.C.
§ Mr. Griffiths
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there was some trouble inside the Board and I appointed a committee to investigate it. There has been a report, the subject of which I will not raise this afternoon, but the right hon. Gentleman has said a number of unpleasant things about this Board. On it were experts in Colonial Government and businessmen holding some of the highest places in the business world. Am I to understand that his castigations apply to all of them?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I have castigated no individual. I am merely talking about facts, but if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to defend a system which clean stumps 900 acres of land at a cost of £109 an acre and as a result of which the land is rendered infertile for five years, that is another matter. Those are the facts, and this mistake was made because local knowledge was not mobilised. I do not know how it came about, whether it was the fault of the executive or not. I only say that in that case local advice was ignored with the result that £1 million of the taxpayers' money was lost and 900 acres of land were rendered infertile for about five years. Could that have been avoided by ordinary commercial prudence?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The officers in the territory knew perfectly well that their advice was either ignored or not asked for.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
It looks as if that might be so. I have evidence of a letter which was addressed to the Corporation at the time.
There is another side to this. I am obliged to draw attention to the past mistakes in order to justify the laying down of these criteria for the Corporation and why they agreed to them. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at these criteria again, he will see that, if they are applied, there is a great chance of the more egregious mistakes not being made and of the Corporation getting into a much more useful field of development.
They have a mineral project about which I will not be specific, although perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will guess what it is. If it can be exploited, its capital value will exceed many times the losses already incurred by the Corporation. But that is not to excuse losses, nor to say that they could not have been avoided. I do not wish to be specific because the project is not yet in being. If it can be exploited, and it looks as if it might be—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman should not take such a pessimistic view before the chances of winning the coal are known. I only say that if this can be exploited it would exceed the loss many times, and we must not let it go abroad that the Corporation is only a loss-getter and has no reason for continued existence. There are some people who think that much more time is required before any judgment of this kind could or should be passed. I have talked with Lord Reith, and shall be doing so again, about our plans for achieving our common aim, which is to build up a system of separate companies under the regional controllers, and above all to try to impart a more functional organisation to the Corporation.
I must not detain the Committee longer than possible, but I do want to refer to the Kenya land subject raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and to the Motion standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends. I want to deal with this very shortly, and I do not think that what I have to say 2377 will prove to be at all controversial. If there are any questions on this matter upon which I have not touched, perhaps my right hon. Friend will when winding up devote some time to it. Let me say straight away that by making some amalgam—and I will not be too specific—between the Motion and the Amendment we get exactly the policy Her Majesty's Government are pursuing.
The task is difficult and expensive. I was a little nervous about the tendency of the right hon. Gentleman's opening remarks, because I thought he was going to end up by saying that the solution of the land problem consisted in taking some of the land from the Europeans, and imagining that that would be a solution. He did not advance any such argument. He stated it with great fairness. Of course, the task entails nothing less than the transformation of outlook and methods of the African farmer. It involves the difficult subjects of soil conservation and water conservation, and a large expansion of the agricultural and veterinary staffs.
I think that notable progress has been made. There has been a shift of African opinion on the subject, as far as I can judge. Many Africans are changing from primitive subsistence farming to more balanced systems of farming; the idea of the part played by cattle in farming is revolutionary to the African mind, but it is beginning to take root.
I am very closely in touch with the East African Government about this question of congestion, and all that the right hon. Gentleman said about its social and economic importance is absolutely correct, in my view. I agree with him that it is a very important matter, and I think we see more or less eye to eye on how the problem should be solved. But the land problem is not due to European settlement, nor is there any solution to be found by alienating land. A negligible contribution has been made by alienating land under cultivation in the Highlands. A great deal of work has been done, and on the subject of the White Highlands I should like to quote an article in the journal of the Fabian Colonial Bureau this month which very much expresses my view:Europeans who have settled in the highlands were deliberately encouraged to go there. They have been allowed to acquire land on the guarantee that it would be theirs. They 2378 bring up their children as citizens of Kenya and they cannot settle elsewhere in land reserved for Africans.That is a very forthright statement with which I agree, and I think the right hon. Gentleman does, too. It would greatly help the whole question if we realised that the solution does not lie in the perpetuation of tribal systems of agriculture but in concentrating on trying to improve methods, as the right hon. Gentleman said. There is no solution of land congestion by trying to hand back areas already allocated, and those unallocated in the White Highlands are a very small proportion—200,000 acres, if my memory serves me right—so that the alienation of that land will not make any notable contribution.
I want to say—and I shall be guarded in my language—that it is quite clear that a far-reaching inquiry into all the social and economic implications is called for, and called for urgently. I am not yet ready to make a statement of the proposed nature of such an inquiry—nor shall I be before the House rises for the Summer Recess—but I should hope to be able to do so in about a month.
The last question was that of Malaya, and this is the last part of the subject with which I shall detain the Committee. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has raised it. When I succeeded the right hon. Gentleman at the Colonial Office, I regarded the Malayan problem as the most urgent and obdurate in the Colonial Territories; therefore I visited Malaya as soon as I could. I must say quite bluntly that few of the instruments of policy with which we were then attempting to handle this exceedingly complicated delicate political and military problem were, in my opinion, adequate to the task, but the work of the British Army and British Commonwealth and colonial troops was of a high order and excited my admiration.
As in all human affairs, the political and social aspects of the problem over any long period are naturally of predominant importance, but at the same time we have to restore the country to a state of law and order, and in doing so we must never for a moment lose sight of our long-term political and social objectives. I shall come back to that subject.
When I had studied as intensively as I could the Malayan scene, I came to the 2379 conclusion that there were six matters, all involving major policy or major administrative matters, upon which we must concentrate, and I so reported to my colleagues. These are the recommendations upon which General Templer has, in the main, been working. In addition to my main six recommendations, there were 14 subsidiary matters of hardly less importance upon which I thought that urgent consideration and action must be taken. Clearly, I cannot go into them now, but I will pick out two at random to show the range of these subjects: the re-organisation of the intelligence, information and propaganda system and, in a widely different field, the prevention of tax evasion. These are two out of the 14 subjects.
The six points were these. First of all, the chain of command from the centre was imperfect. It was no good trying to deal with military and political matters in what was, in effect, two branches in Malaya as it was. Responsibility for both must be concentrated in one man, and now is. It is at the same time necessary that that man should be relieved of much of the civil administration, routine in particular, and should only have to consider civil matters—rather like a Cabinet—where they affect broad questions of policy and not detailed administration. It was for this reason that I pursuaded the Rulers to agree to an alteration in the constitution, under which Mr. MacGillivray was appointed Deputy High Commissioner, and he has relieved the High Commissioner of much of the civil work.
Secondly, the Police Force was in need of urgent re-training and re-organisation. It had expanded to an almost unbelievable extent, far in advance of any measures designed to control it, coordinate it or train it. Moreover, it was all committed to the field—as we say in military parlance—and I have to say that it was largely in a haphazard manner. The Committee knows that the number of armed terrorists is somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000—a figure mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I think there were fewer than 5,000. I doubt whether there are as many as 6,000, but that is a matter 2380 of conjecture. Let us take the figure as 4,000 to 6,000. There were no fewer than 60,000 regular police, of which 38,000 were whole-time special constables, and about 250,000 part-time police, including the Home Guard. Why I emphasise that these were all committed is to give the Committee an idea of the difficulties involved in re-training and regrouping such a large force. This matter has been tackled with the utmost energy and resolution and after four years there is some knitting together of these forces. Colonel Young of the City of London Police is in charge under the High Commissioner.
My third point is with regard to the organisation of a Home Guard. It is axiomatic that we must gain the support and help of the Chinese population and involve them much more deeply in the defence of a country in which they have so large a stake. Every hon. Member who is interested in the Malayan problem will know that one of the difficulties is that 95 per cent. of the terrorists are Chinese and 95 per cent. of the police were Malays. We are changing that. About one-third of the Home Guard is now Chinese and they are being encouraged to join the police. My latest reports are encouraging.
My fourth subject which was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman concerns the protection of what were originally known as re-settlement areas, and which have, I think wisely, been re-christened "new villages," because that is what they are. They have not only been rechristened, but altered. When I saw the state of the defences of these new villages it was deplorable. This matter, too, has been tackled with the greatest vigour, and although the defences are not yet complete, they are in an entirely different state from what they were at the end of last year. They are not completed yet, but when they have been completed the inhabitants can feel reasonably secure inside well-lighted and well-wired fences. This measure alone has obliged the enemy to split up into smaller groups, and he finds it increasingly difficult to get food at the point of the tommy gun by terrorising the inhabitants.
The next point is that of administration generally. I found that the conditions under which the Malayan Civil Service had to work could not be accepted. The housing shortage was acute. As an 2381 example, I heard of an officer, with his wife and two children, who, on returning from leave, had been posted to a new district. The only quarters they could find were over a Chinese shop, and I do not feel sure that the trade in that shop was entirely confined to inanimate commodities. One can think of the effect on the Service when those are the housing conditions.
The rapid rise in the cost of living had rendered the pay code, which was fairly rigid, unsuited to today's conditions, and exasperation among the Civil Service was mounting. I think their conditions are still hard, but they have been greatly improved. The Civil Service as a whole is very much over-strained, and while they were putting out super-human efforts during the emergency the machine had become clogged and paper-bound. I remember flying for 45 minutes in an Auster aircraft when going to Bantong in Pahang, and seeing some 20 or 30 planters and others, and being told that I was the only person from Kuala Lumpur, other than the High Commissioner himself, whom they had seen ever since the beginning of the emergency.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
If I may interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, I did exactly the same journey two years before.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman said he was the first one. I was over there myself two years ago.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The point I was making was clear; that they had seen no one from Kuala Lumpur—which seemed to surprise the right hon. Gentleman—since the beginning of the emergency.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I know all the difficulties, and I have spoken of the Civil Service and their problems this afternoon. But when I was there two years ago I went with one who was deeply involved and who is now dead, and that is why I intervened. Sir Henry Gurney, who was the High Commissioner, did go, and the right hon. Gentleman said he had not been to see them.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman could not have been listening to what I said. I said that these planters said they had been visited by no one from Kuala Lumpur, other than the High Commissioner himself, during the whole of the emergency.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
If the right hon. Gentleman had been listening he would have heard, and I appeal to anybody in the Committee to confirm that that is what I said—"other than the High Commissioner."
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman made an intervention in which he said. "I do not believe it." Is he suggesting that I invented this conversation?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I did not hear the right hon. Gentleman say the first time, "other than the High Commissioner." If he said that I am sorry, but I did not hear it. I spoke with some warmth, because I had a great regard for Sir Henry Gurney. He was a great man and gave his life for Malaya. I knew he had been there, because I went with him.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
It was obvious, under those circumstances, that a re-organisation of the duties of the administrative machine was long overdue. Further decentralisation, further recruitment and a quicker and more muscular organisation were as urgent as the other measures which I have outlined.
My last point, which is as important as all the others, is about education. If we are to win the war of ideas, and weld the widely conflicting interests and nationalities into a coherent whole, we can only hope to do it by pushing ahead as fast as we can with compulsory primary education; bringing the people together when they are children, and teaching them that they are citizens of Malaya first and foremost, owing their allegiance to the country of their birth and not the country of their parents' origin.
But it would be wrong, I think, to regard the effect of primary education only 2383 as long-term. Children coming back from school are evangelists, and convert their parents to our way of thinking. I could quote some touching instances. They provide much of the answer to the propaganda being whispered to their parents from the jungle.
I must not detain the Committee much longer upon the Malayan problem—
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he say what steps he is taking with a view to developing the educational programme and having schools built, and also the steps he is taking to get over the racial difficulty in the educational system?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The main difficulty, which will not surprise hon. Members, in getting an extension of primary education is the shortage of teachers. I have not brought the figures with me, but the most tremendous effort is being made in this direction and the figures have doubled during the last six or eight months. We are now really making an impact on the problem, and also upon the housing problem.
I would say this with regard to self-government. Those who regard self-government in this plural society as a means, or an instrument, for bringing the races together are, I believe, guilty of a great political misapprehension. Self-government in these plural societies must be the expression of a unity which must be built up—not an instrument for creating it. If it were to be, it would fall apart in our hands. I give as my considered opinion that were we to grant full self-government, so to speak as an instrument, to Malaya tomorrow the country would in six months be plunged into such racial strife, conflict and confusion as we have not yet seen.
All the races in private—and sometimes in public—are willing to acknowledge the binding and unifying effect of the handful of British subjects who are helping Malaya towards unity and self-government. They under-pin the whole structure, and keep a reasonable stability in political affairs. Do not let us forget them or their services to the country.
There are three other matters which were raised by the right hon. Gentleman 2384 to which I must refer. I apologise for detaining the Committee so long. The first is the progress of the elections, about which the right hon. Gentleman asked some questions. He will realise that this is closely bound up with the restoration of law and order. I hope that nobody thinks the cure-all for the ills of Malaya is to rush ahead with elections at all levels. There must be regular and orderly progress by building on the foundations which are now being laid in local government and in the new citizenship.
I turn aside on the subject of the new citizenship to say that it is not accurate to describe the Bill as being obstructive. It has been through the Federal machinery and three of the nine States have so far ratified it. I admit that the process is slow, but it is slightly different from obstruction. The machine is admittedly cumbersome. Nevertheless, I think we may expect to see it in force before very long.
I intend, with my colleagues, to help in every way possible the people of Malaya towards sound and progressive political institutions so far as the conditions allow, but some of the difficulties had better be mentioned. It has for a long time been our intention to hold the first State elections in Johore, but Johore has been, and still is today, the most unsettled State in Malaya, and I cannot say—I will not prophesy—when it will become physically possible to hold elections on more than a municipal scale.
On this general side I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the proceedings which took place in the Federal Legislative Council a fortnight ago, on 3rd July. That day may very well prove a landmark in the recent history of Malaya. No fewer than three Bills of the greatest importance were accepted that day by the Legislative Council. The National Service Bill, which originally provided only for the call-up of men during a period of war or national emergency, was amended by a Select Committee to embody the principle of two years' compulsory national service for all able-bodied men. The Select Committee consisted of five Malays, three Chinese, two Indians, a Ceylonese, a Eurasian and a European.
On the same day the Bill setting up the Federation Regiment was warmly welcomed by all sections of the Council and 2385 was passed through all its stages. Together with the expansion to brigade strength of the Malay Regiment, which has been and is doing such magnificent work, the formation of a Federation Regiment open to all communities makes a start in building up in Malaya a national defence force combining all its races within its ranks. To all those who know Malaya I need not emphasise the significance of these developments, and they are an answer to those carping critics who sometimes say that the political aspects of this question are being neglected in favour of the military.
That was not all that happened on 3rd July. A Bill to set up elected local councils to run the villages of Malaya also came before the Council. This is not so spectacular, I admit, as the other two Bills to which I have referred, but in the long run I believe that it is a development of comparable importance. It will lay the foundations of democratic government in Malaya in the villages.
There is one point about the fall in the price of rubber to which I must refer. It has come, of course—let us be quite clear about it—at an unfortunate time and it is bound to have a great effect on the revenue of the country and on general economic conditions. Matters with regard to wages and earnings—there is some slack that could be taken up in earnings—are now under negotiation. I know from personal conversations that all those concerned are fully aware of the political stresses which may be set up now, and I feel sure that they will act with a proper sense of responsibility. I do not want to talk in public about the negotiations at this moment, but I should not like it to be thought that I entirely agree with the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech. However, I think it would be better for me not to disturb the course of the negotiations by saying anything at the moment.
Generally speaking, there is no shortcut to prosperity or security in the rubber-growing industry. It has to live side by side with the synthetic rubber industry. It is completely superficial to imagine that that production has not come to stay. We must continually press the Americans, as we have done, on only one point, that synthetic rubber production shall not be artificially stimulated. The Americans 2386 have already gone a very long way towards understanding our point of view, but it would be childish to suppose that we can ignore that continual production.
The answer is that we have to try by a sensible replanting policy to reduce the cost of production and increase the productivity of the trees, and the opportunities are very great. But, of course, what we can do now will not help the immediate problem. I am not at all pessimistic about the long-term future of the rubber industry, but I acknowledge that it is going through a difficult period. I believe everybody will do what they can to prevent political stresses from being set up by economic causes.
Before I leave the Malayans—the Committee will be glad to know that I am nearly at the end of my remarks—I should be lacking in the commonest gratitude if I did not say how highly I regard the work, the spirit, the energy, the political foresight and the comprehensive grasp of all the kaleidoscopic problems facing him, of the new High Commissioner, Sir Gerald Templer. I make no prophecies today, but I can tell the Committee one definite achievement, and that is that the whole morale of Malaya has altered in the last five months.
Confidence is mounting, energy is tautened, security forces are being bound together, the police are being trained, the intelligence is being reorganised, information is coming in quicker, the casualties in the security forces are falling and those in the enemy forces are rising, the surrenders of bandits have increased, enemy morale has fallen, and many of those who were hedging or sitting on the fence now believe that we are going to win.
I cannot tell the Committee when the shooting will stop, for he would be a fool who would make a pronouncement on the point of time, but that we shall win I am absolutely confident, and that will probably be the only tribute which General Templer would himself wish to be paid to his work. Under him, Mr. MacGillivray has shown the highest qualities in pulling together and reorganising the administration. I have already referred to Colonel Young in regard to the police, and there are many others. They have one of the toughest jobs one can give public servants, and we can help them in their work by show- 2387 ing them that the House of Commons is wholeheartedly behind them.
I realise that in the course of these remarks, which, as I have said, have had to be selective, I have devoted very little time to political or constitutional matters relating to the Colonies all over the world. It is very difficult to compress a subject like this. In this matter we all have a common goal, which is to give an increasing measure of responsibility for their own affairs to these people, but in these matters it is extremely easy to describe patience as reaction, or rashness and rush as progress.
We have to be careful in the evolution of self-government to do it in such a way that each step is proved and firmly founded before the next one is taken. We must preserve at all costs the purity of the administration. We must preserve the impartial administration of justice, and we must keep government, ministers and officials free of any charges of corruption or malpractices.
Within these limits progress should be as quick as it could be, but we shall get nowhere if we rush into these things and imagine that colonial problems are solved the moment we sign an article handing over self-government to the local politicians, for very often they are only beginning. But if we keep firmly to the idea that self-government must be a gradual evolution and must be built up in the main from a local government basis, I think we have a chance in the next decade or two of forming a system which will be the admiration of the world and will add greatly to the strength and prestige of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle upon-Tyne, West)
It is not my intention to cover a very wide field of colonial problems. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I realise that it would be utterly impossible in a debate of this description to cover anything like the very wide field one would hope to do, and, therefore, it is my intention to confine my remarks to that part of our Colonial Empire in which I have been fortunate enough to spend some little time, namely, Malaya.
2388 I found myself extremely interested in the Minister's closing remarks. I regret that he introduced the tone he did when he inferred that it was desired by someone or other that self-government should be introduced into Malaya now almost by the passing of an ordinance. That creates a wrong impression in Malaya. There is a genuine desire in Malaya that self-government should be given to them, but there is general acceptance that some little time must elapse before all the nationalities in that country come in. At the same time there is a feeling among certain sections that this Government do not intend to work towards self-government in Malaya.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I hope the hon. Member will not give the slightest credence to those rumours, as I am sure he will not. All one can do is repeat what is our objective. The last time this was stated in public—and every citizen in the Federation knew it—was in the directive given to General Templer.
§ Mr. Popplewell
One does not dispute that, but what I am stating is the impression among certain sections of the community, and I think the Minister's remarks upon that subject today were ill-advised. One realises that there is a tremendous problem here, and the Malayans themselves also realise it, but they also want to be assured that the administration at home is behind them in the idea that within a reasonable period of time, and not in the distant future, they will achieve their goal. Perhaps I may come back to that a little later.
I should like to refer to the recent statement made by General Templer. The Minister emphasised the point about improvement, and I think all of us are pleased to know that the reports coming from Malaya show some general improvement in the particularly difficult situation of dealing with terrorist bands.
§ Mr. Popplewell
General Templer's statement suggested that there is a general improvement, but it would be wrong to suggest that this has all been brought about since General Templer went out there. The Briggs plan was produced as long ago as 1949, and everybody realised that it was a long-term 2389 measure. We on this side of the Committee realised it particularly. Indeed, it was felt by some people that it was too long-term, and some felt that far more effective steps ought to be taken, including full military operations.
How that was going to be done was not quite clear, because no account seemed to be taken of the difficulty of the terrain. Even if there is an improvement, it cannot all be attributed to one individual. We are pleased to learn that the plans envisaged by General Briggs are producing some results. We cannot, however, be complacent about the situation there, and we hope it is only a question of time before these terrorist bands are cleared up.
It cannot be just a question of military action. If we want to clear up the Communist-dominated bands, we have to show a very wide vision in our approach. Two world wars have done something to the Malayan people. They have aroused a spirit of independence among them, and they are determined that they shall look after their own destinies. Previously we had always given a pledge to them that we would hold over them the umbrella of protection, sheltering them from any outside foes. Particularly in the Second World War we found that that was impossible. There has developed, as a result, this nationalist spirit and awakening, and we have to guide and assist it into channels that will bring about a lasting settlement on very friendly terms. That is the problem, and we can satisfactorily settle it only if we approach it with vision.
The terrorist bands are not very large. They are in small groups and they are concentrated and isolated, but they are reasonably well organised on a guerilla-like basis. It is said there has been no great increase in the numbers so far as we can ascertain, but even these small numbers are going to keep us occupied and extended for a long period of time. It is difficult to know where recruits have come from. I do not think they have come from outside the country. There may be a small infiltration over the Chinese border, but I think the major recruits come from the Chinese villages, the squatters, and in some cases from the rubber plantations themselves.
We have to win the confidence of these people and give them some incentive to 2390 prevent them from joining the terrorists. In addition to protection, we have to give them a greater confidence in the future. The problem envisaged in the Briggs plan of developing a scheme for the re-settlement of the squatters is very useful indeed. I am glad to note that the term "settlements" for squatters is disappearing, and that we are calling them villages. We all realise that this cannot be an emergency measure, but that it is part of the long-term development programme of bringing these people out of the jungle.
The problem does not end there, and it can only end when these people are given some security of tenure on the land on which we settle them. Can the Minister of State indicate to us, when he replies—possibly it is far too short notice for him to be able to do so today—the number of titles to land already granted; how many of the squatters, mentioned as numbering 450,000, have applied for a permanent title, and the average length of time that it takes until their application to title is granted?
I think it is important to know that, because I know what has been taking place for some little time. Squatters were brought in and they made certain representations. There was a very lukewarm approach to this type of thing, and I hope that now there is a considerable reduction of the time between the application being made and the permanent title being granted. That is one of the ways in which we can play our part in giving confidence to these people, and letting these Chinese know that it is not a dodge on our side to get them to come over to us and then for us to manifest no concern in their future.
There is another important thing. When we brought these Chinese in from the jungle it was to be the policy to give them a few sheets of zinc and a few feet of timber, the zinc to roof their huts and the timber for building. The material was not to be sufficient to accomplish the building in its entirety, but just as an encouragement. Has any improvement taken place in that arrangement? What actually happens? The Chinese may have their hovels or dwellings in the jungle. They are brought into the settlement and we give them zinc, but they have to provide the timber. They have no land, and so it takes some time 2391 to cultivate a holding, and until the poultry or pigs are ready.
These people are therefore in real difficulty. The barbed wire entanglement goes up around them, but their land may be just outside. They at once resort to the local trader or shopkeeper, who is the moneylender for the area, and they get an advance. The stranglehold is at once placed round their heads. We know that the moneylending system is firmly ingrained in the life out there, and we do not under-estimate the difficulty of eradicating it. We have to face the problem with all the friendliness in the world and we have to get the confidence of the people.
How does the system work? The applicant makes his request for an advance in cash. The moneylender has a monopoly and he lends the cash. When the borrower produces his commodities he has to sell them to the moneylender at the price fixed by the moneylender. A vicious circle develops, from the shackles of which the borrower has the utmost difficulty in getting free. I ask the Minister what further steps have been taken.
As an offset against that system. I suggest that we develop the co-operative idea in Malaya. My information is that there are only about 20,000 members of the co-operatives. There are co-operatives in Africa, Sarawak, Burma and Ceylon, and, knowing the good work that has been done by them. I believe there is a vast field for developing the co-operative system in Malaya and so assisting its people.
What a lot could be done on a cooperative basis by way of extended credit, marketing, transporting, wholesaling and retailing of consumer goods, housing, etc. A real service could be done and great assistance could be given. It could have tremendous effect, not only in the squatter area but in the country as a whole, in winning the confidence of the people. The old system has been going on for a long time, I know, but with the newly-awakening development of the Malayan mind the old system is seen to have left misery and destitution in its wake. If we want to keep the good will of the people of Malaya and keep them away from the terrorist bands, we have to take active steps.
2392 These thoughts of mine are by no means original, as most hon. Members will know. Recently the Deputy High Commissioner, who was referred to by the Minister, speaking at the Co-operative Officers' Conference in May this year, I think, paid a tribute to these co-operative ventures. He expressed the need for sending out there people who were well-equipped, well-qualified and well-trained in these undertakings in order to give the assistance which is so necessary.
Another question I might pose to the Minister is whether he will make a further declaration of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to this matter. Is it the intention of the Government that co-operative ventures should be assisted and fostered to the degree that is necessary? If so, what steps is the right hon. Gentleman proposing to take to assist the Deputy High Commissioner and to provide trained personnel?
When the Minister is considering that point he might deal with another. When my right hon. Friend was speaking, the Secretary of State referred in an undertone, and rather scathingly, I thought, to the chairman of the Rural Industrial Development Authority. He was rather suggesting in that undertone that the failure of that authority was due to the chairman.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I must ask the hon. Gentleman to give way. There is not the slightest justification for that remark. The development of the idea has been slow, it is only fair to say.
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am delighted to get such a withdrawal, because that was very definitely the impression that was created. [An HON. MEMBER: "There was nothing to withdraw."] There was a lot to withdraw. In the undertone that went on about the chairman of the Rural Industrial Development Authority, the Minister was attempting to convey the impression that, because the chairman was Dato Onn, the R.I.D.A. was a failure. That was the impression. I hope I am wrong.
§ Mr. Popplewell
I hope I am. There is no need for the Minister to get annoyed about it.
Who is to give some indication of the steps the Government are taking to 2393 appoint more senior technical officers with agricultural experience to assist that authority? I know there have been considerable delays in its operation, and not just because Dato Onn was the chairman. Consider the constitution. Assuming that a scheme is suggested, it has to come before each estate council and it has to go to the central committee of the R.I.D.A. Then a sub-committee deals with it. That is the cumbersome machinery established in this set-up, and I suggest that it needs a considerable amount of overhaul.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Is the hon. Gentleman now advocating a new constitution and tearing up the present one which was arranged under the auspices of my predecessor?
§ Mr. Popplewell
I am suggesting that, in the light of the development, there should be some streamlining in this type of machinery. What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to get that machinery streamlined? We know that only about a quarter of the expenditure authorised for 1951 has been spent by the authority. This is just too bad for words. It is not that there is a fault here or there; the effect is cumulative, from a number of little things.
For instance, instead of the chairman of the association having the services of just an odd Malayan civil servant as his assistant—a very capable person and very conscientious—he requires much more technical assistance. Agriculture must play a big part out there, and he should have an expert on agriculture. One assistant cannot be an expert on everything. There is a need for further assistants.
Now I turn to another aspect of the Malayan situation. Recently the Secretary of State told my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) that there are 19 co-operatives dealing with the marketing of rubber and that none of them was specially organised to deal with the need for replanting. Today the Secretary of State referred to the need for planting trees, and I should like to know what has happened in this direction. In reply to my hon. Friend previously he indicated that the hoard set up to deal with the administration of the cess on rubber exports would consider replanting. Has that board yet issued any findings? Has it given any indication of a 2394 line of policy? Has any tangible scheme yet been devised?
This is important, especially for the smallholder rubber planter. The big combines can look after themselves but the smallholder requires advice and assistance. It is not sufficient to leave this in the hands of the board administering the cess on export rubber. There is a good case here for co-operative development for assisting those people. Indeed, replanting is essential to the national life out there. The big combines say that this represents great difficulties for them. How much more difficult is it for the smallholder rubber planters. They do not ask for charity, they want to keep their trees efficient bearing units, and that can only be done on the lines I have indicated.
While mentioning planters, I want to pay my tribute to them. Many of them live a difficult and lonely life. For some years they have been facing real dangers, not only to their own lives but to those of their wives and children. Not many of them agree with my political views—they are chiefly backward Tories—but, apart from that, they are a grand body of men and we ought to pay tribute to the services they have rendered this country. I mention the rubber planters because I received such a lot of hospitality from them, but it is the same with all the people over there. The trade union organizers, who have been trying to build up the trade union movement, have had to travel while the curfew has been in operation and have been subject to attacks. They, too, have done a good job of work.
Having offered that bouquet to the rubber planters, I shall now say something not quite so palatable. We have to keep the good will of the Malayans, and keep them on our side. Anything can happen when these troubles end—
§ Mr. Popplewell
I used the word "Malayans" in its wide sense to include the Chinese, because many Chinese claim that their home has been in Malaya for over 200 years but that they are still not accepted as Malayan citizens.
The big barrier to organised labour lies amongst many of the planters. They meet in their association, they agree to wage rates affecting the entire rubber planting industry, but when they return 2395 to their plantations they adopt the old feudal system of employment. In view of the new developments there, in view of the awakening determination of many people there to stand on their own feet, there ought to be a considerable reorientation of view in that respect.
Many of the workers on those estates have given up the old feudal idea and they resent much of what takes place. I know that many of the planters still look upon the trade unions as being Communist tools. Only time will eradicate that feeling. One can understand that feeling, having in mind what happened in the trade union movement prior to 1947, but new trade union leaders are coming into the forefront there under the skilled direction of Jack Brazier. It is also right to mention his assistants because they are doing an exceedingly good job and they are bringing to life a new feature that we must welcome—the spirit of self-reliance. That is a welcome change. Naturally the trade unions are making many mistakes. I am an old trade unionist and I have made many mistakes, although my trade union was well established before I was in it.
There is another big evil which I urge the Minister to consider. There should be an end of the contractual system in the plantations. It is shocking. In many instances it is used as an instrument of management. There are still contract managers working in the plantations who have complete control of the lives of entire families. They have a monopoly in the labour market, they function as moneylenders, they have their own shops where their gangs must purchase commodities. In some parts it is a shocking set-up.
If we want to win the good will of these people, equip them for self-government within a reasonable time and keep them on our side, these are some of the things which must be tackled seriously and I ask that special attention be paid to this matter in the labour code.
Turning to the political side for a few moments, I want to pay my tribute to the late Sir Henry Gurney. We all regret his loss, particularly under such tragic circumstances. As my right hon. Friend mentioned, he had hoped to get the election by the end of the 1953–54 session 2396 of the State Council. I ask the Minister not to be timorous about this. We realise the tremendous upset over there at present, but we also realise that it is possible to be far too cautious. We have to take risks for peace as well as for war. The Minister said that the 1956 Citizenship Amendment Ordinance has been adopted by three out of the 11 State Councils. I urge him to use all possible pressure to get the remaining Councils to adopt it. I think that that is necessary.
Then there is the recent Nationality Bill, which was intended to make it easier for the Chinese, the Indians and the Eurasians to acquire Malayan nationality. The Malay leaders have agreed with this in principle, although, perhaps, reluctantly, but a considerable delay is taking place before it is put into effect. Again, I ask the Secretary of State to use his pressure to get the State Councils to make an early ratification of this Measure. The right hon. Gentleman is doing a lot of murmuring, but this is his job and he is responsible.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I was only remarking to my right hon. Friend that it was a curious way of pressing on with self-government to argue that Her Majesty's Government ought to intervene in every detail which these countries are now trying to settle.
§ Mr. Popplewell
That shows a regrettable line of approach. These details are of tremendous importance, because if these proposals are not adopted the Malayan people, instead of being on our side, will go over to the terrorist bands and thus help towards the development of a Communist South-East Asia. That is why it is extremely important that we do not simply dismiss these matters by thinking that they affect only those countries and that we do not need to bother about them.
I should like to refer finally to events in Singapore. It is deplorable to see what is taking place there as far as the homes of the ordinary people are concerned. In 1951, Singapore had a record budget surplus of 45 million Straits dollars, while the port had a higher turnover of 7,250,000 tons as against 5,500,000 tons in 1950. And yet, in spite of all this, the social progress, instead of being developed, is being curtailed.
2397 During the year, 23 schools were projected to be built but only 11 have been commenced. As far as can be estimated, there is a shortage of over 50,000 houses. There are 84 children for whom no schools are available. Some 50,000 outpatients are attending hospital. In addition, sales have retarded through fear of inflation and prices have gone to terrific heights. In those miserable hovels in Singapore can be seen small houses, probably 12 ft. square, where room rent is paid and where mixed sexes lie down to sleep on the floor or on the wooden platform—and that is called "home."
We have to do something outstanding if we want to retain the good will of the people over there. There is vast wealth in the area, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to initiate some very much greater activities in raising the social standard and conditions of the lives of those people.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The Committee will, I am sure, be greatly indebted to the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) for ventilating these very serious matters concerning Malaya and Singapore. I hope, however, that he will forgive me if I do not follow him in that subject. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who opened the debate, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies covered a tremendous width of ground, a width which I do not have the knowledge to cover and which, the Committee will be relieved to hear, I do not intend to try to traverse again.
Generally speaking, there are, of course, the political and social questions affecting the Colonies as a whole, and the economic question. As to the political and social questions, I should only like to say that I hope we shall continue with the policy of building up a partnership with all the different races in the Colonies, a partnership which ultimately will lead to self-government all over the Colonial Empire. In that process we depend, as the Colonial Secretary said, almost immeasurably on the men who go out to the Colonies and who undertake all the varied work, both technical and educational, and the rather indefinite work of building up good will and the whole fabric of a united 2398 life in these very difficult and diverse territories.
I turn now to the economic question. It cannot be said too often in this country that today our position is not that we are able to hand out aid to the Colonies, but rather that we are very indebted to them and that the position of this country, serious as it is, would have been a great deal worse had we not been able to rely on the exports of our Colonial Empire. Even in the last half of last year, when we were running into a very heavy dollar deficit, the Colonial Empire was in surplus.
The Colonial Secretary has told us that the long-term outlook for the main products of the Colonies is good. As the late Lord Keynes reminded us, however, in the long term we are all dead. The right hon. Gentleman, I noticed, was not so optimistic about the short term. He said something about the situation facing the rubber producers, but is it not also the case that there has been a deterioration in colonial trade in general?
There was, for instance, a very sharp decline in the favourable balance for West Africa at the end of last year. No doubt that is partly seasonal, but I should find it of great interest if the Government could give a little more information about their views of the present and more immediate economic situation that faces the Colonies.
In the Economic Survey, it was assumed that provided world prices remained something like stable, the colonial part of the sterling area would continue to remain in surplus with the dollar area. But apart from the fall in rubber prices, is it not also true that there has been a steepish fall in the price of other commodities, including such things as sisal? How far will this affect the conclusions of the Economic Survey?
It seems to me that we have to look at the whole of the Empire, including this country and the Colonies, as one unit. It is not today a situation in which we are the beneficent and prosperous Mother Country and that the Colonies are all remote areas to which we are pleased to give a certain amount of our attention. To my mind, we are all parts of a vital area of the world, an area vital in economic affairs and vital in social and political affairs. We are 2399 working together as equal partners—certainly economically, and, I like to think, politically also—to try to give the rest of the world some of the experience, the political stability and the ways of Government which the British people have built up over the years. Economically we are inter-dependent.
If from that background one turns to the actual development of the resources of the Colonies, I cannot see how we can put into these backward areas the sort of scale of resources which is sometimes spoken of. What we have is a situation in which this country is rather short of capital goods, and where the capital goods that it does produce it is trying to export largely for dollars.
As the Secretary of State said, we are not a country which is in surplus; we are in deficit. I have heard figures quoted like £400 million as the type of help required annually in the backward areas. I agree that nothing is more important than that we should give help to those areas, and in those areas I would place our Colonies first. I think that, bearing in mind our present resources, we should concentrate all our help on those areas to which we owe such an obligation. But I should have thought it was a question of very seriously considering what can be done and choosing, as the Secretary of State indicated, the most vital and most remunerative enterprises. I do not mean necessarily commercially remunerative in the short run, but those which in the longer run are going to yield a dividend of welfare and happiness in the social field.
§ Mr. Wigg
Surely the hon. Gentleman realises that there is another limiting factor? It is not only the amount of money we can spend, but also the amount which the Colonies can absorb. In Nigeria, for example, if during the war more than £1 million was spent in a year on such projects as roads, bridges or aerodromes, it would have set off a runaway, raging inflation.
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree with the hon. Member. The point I was going to make was that not only have we to choose carefully the projects we are to help, but we should make as much use as possible of the existing channels of trade in the Colonies. For the reason the hon. Member has indicated, we cannot go out into 2400 virgin territory and build up at once all the fabric of social enterprise. I had a little experience of this in U.N.R.R.A. It is not just a question of allocating so much money or materials; you need a system by which to use it, a transport system and a legal system, very likely, as well as subsidiary industries and trades to make the fullest use of the money put into these areas.
That being so, I sometimes feel that we do not make enough use of the existing enterprises and companies which have gone out from this country and upon which the whole prosperity of the Colonies has been built. This might be the sort of question which could be debated more properly on the Budget. We probably deprive rubber and tea companies of capital which they require to keep their estates planted and replanted. I think I am right in saying that the area under rubber is about 3½ million acres and that last year about 45,000 acres were replanted. I am not an expert, but is that enough? Is not the easiest way of giving effective economic aid to a country to remit some taxation, not for the purpose of assisting owners or shareholders, but for the purpose of improving the capital in the Colonies themselves?
I am not in the least denigrating the work done by the Development Corporation. On the contrary, I very much admire it, but I was interested when abroad a short time ago to be told by a man that so far as he could see the tendency today not only of the British but of all Governments was to tackle the most difficult questions first, to plough the deserts and to enter on enormous irrigation schemes and so on, whereas in very many cases the easiest, cheapest and more satisfactory way is to raise output of existing land under cultivation and existing estates and enterprises within a country.
Another question which concerns me very much is, what is the state of trade in the Colonial Empire today? It seems to me absolutely vital that we should have an overall policy which should be watching the restrictions, for instance, put on the movement of goods. We must encourage trade by every means within the Colonies. I put down a Question the other day, and it appears that a very great deal of discretion is left to the individual governor. I can quite see that he 2401 should have some discretion, but is there an overall policy and has the Colonial Office a staff watching developments of trade in the Empire?
We come to the question of the United States, and I entirely agree that probably today we have to look forward to the time when the Colonies will absorb more capital than we can provide. We shall have to turn to the United States for some of that capital. But what is the good of asking the United States to put in capial if they are forever raising their own trade barriers and building up, for instance, an enormous artificial rubber industry in their own country? Are we always drumming home these points to the United States? Are we always working for more trade?
I feel that many Americans, much as I admire them, have a certain prejudice against the whole idea of Empire and simply believe that it is a sort of exploitation of backward peoples. We have to get that idea out of their minds and get them to come and trade with us because, in many respects, that is the best and easiest way in which they can help us. I also again stress the importance of technical training, both in this country and of the colonial peoples themselves.
I have tried to see the Empire as a whole and to see it as a body of people, perhaps of different races and colour, but united in a common effort, not only for their own welfare, but an effort to bring decency and what we in this country think are the better things of life in the world as it is today. I think we must continue to regard it as a whole. It would be disastrous if it were to break into fragments, either in our minds or in fact. To prevent that, on the political side we must place trust in the people and, on the economic side, we must develop a policy of doing the most practical things and keeping the longer term objectives in view, but not allowing them to blot out too much of the short term objectives.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Banbury)
We must all sympathise with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) when we think of him as a Liberal planner of U.N.R.R.A. based on the theories of Lord Keynes, but I would support what he said about taxation. The high prices received in the course of the last two years, which inflated company 2402 profits, have almost entirely gone in taxation either overseas or here, and in many cases the net result for producing companies has been a run down of their assets at a time when further development was required.
I should like to take up one point made by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell), who has left the Chamber. I agree with one or two of the things he said, particularly when he made practical suggestions, but I thought it unfortunate that he should suggest that my right hon. Friends are against continuing developments overseas which have taken place in the last few years. I am quite satisfied that when we come to the end of this Government, both the Secretary of State and the Minister of State, between them, on the economic and political side, will have produced a better balanced and happier state of affairs overseas than that when we took over at the end of 1951.
There was also a point on which I would congratulate the hon. Member—his reference to "permanent titles to land." That is a great advance on the ideas on "collectivised farms on a large scale" of which we used to hear so much in the 1945 Parliament. I am sure that many hon. Members will regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. W. Fletcher) is not taking part in the debate on a subject in which he usually takes part, and who the whole time has supported the improvement of the peasant cultivator in these developments overseas.
That brings me to the point raised by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and his reference to the complicated and difficult problems of land tenure in Kenya. I am not going into great detail on that question because I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) will catch your eye, Sir Leonard, and be able to follow up that matter rather more closely.
Contrary to what the right hon. Member for Llanelly said, we cannot disregard history. We have to look back on the whole development of the Kenya highlands: from the building of the railway from Mombasa to Uganda, not for the purpose of developing Kenya but of safeguarding the head-waters of the Nile in Uganda for the benefit of the Sudan and Egypt. Quite by chance that railway 2403 passed through the White Highlands, and since then groups of Europeans have settled in and developed this country to the great benefit, not only of themselves, but of the Africans who live thereabouts. These areas were largely uninhabited at that time, like other areas in Africa. The arrival of European settlers and the development of modern methods of agriculture led to a great increase in wealth and a considerable attraction of Africans to these areas.
I was glad to hear the reply which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave to his predecessor. We hope that this problem of the Kenya highlands can be resolved amicably on both sides. I have paid tribute in public before—and I should like to do so again—to the great service rendered by the right hon. Member for Llanelly when he went to Kenya just over a year ago. Before leaving Kenya, he appealed to all races to set aside fear and to try to get understanding amongst themselves. It would be most unfortunate, I think, if his action in supporting the Motion on the Order Paper should lead any element in Kenya to feel that he was re-introducing an element of fear when he has done so much to persuade all races to set fear aside.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I was urging very strongly all peoples in Kenya to seek agreement on this land problem, which is equally urgent and equally dangerous in many ways as the constitutional one.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
It is linked up together. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman's assurance will reassure a number of people in Kenya who were disturbed to find his name at the head of this Motion.
Much of what the right hon. Gentleman said in the course of his speech was true, for all Africa and not just for Kenya—as, for instance, when he talked about more adequate provision for agricultural credit and producer cooperatives. I believe that land banks and other agricultural credit is of the greatest importance. The right hon. Gentleman also said that we have to link the holding of tribal lands with modern husbandry. I believe that has been done must successfully in the Gezira scheme in the Sudan. It has led to a more complete control over the individual peasant 2404 cultivator than would be tolerated even by our long-suffering farmers in this country.
I believe that the linking there of private ownership with modern husbandry is an example which might well be followed in other parts of Africa. I believe, too, that in Kenya, with the land hunger which undoubtedly exists, this problem can be better solved by looking in other directions—to some of those areas, say, in Tanganyika at present infested by tsetse, but where we feel there could be large-scale settlement from the over-crowded areas of Kenya.
I have been warned by my hon. Friends that if I speak for long they will be very rude to me, so I must keep my remarks short. I believe that the Colonial Development Corporation, under the guidance of my right hon. Friend, is entering into a new phase of the transitional period which started after the war, and which will go on for another five years: it is now entering into something more closely defined than it has been hitherto. It is impossible to set rigid lines betwen colonial development and welfare and the Colonial Development Corporation. I believe that the C.D.C. has to be commercial and that, however much we may want to do good, that must be done through C.D. & W. and not through the C.D.C. The Secretary of State's new directive to the C.D.C. is, I believe, an admirable one, and will help to meet some of the needs of free enterprise where it lacked, through high taxation or other reasons, capital to carry on the proper expansion.
We in this country must remember that we have a very large debt to these overseas territories, which has piled up since the war. It is one of the functions of this country to act as banker to these various areas. Like the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, I think of this area as a whole. I should like to see it a free trading area. We are unlikely to achieve that, but there is no reason why we should not go on striving towards it. I believe that the position of the Colonial Secretary, apart from his many other responsibilities, is much like that of the chairman of a great company. There is the production side through the C.D.C., the welfare side through the C.D. & W. and, what is important in the next few years, the marketing side in 2405 which the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, export, taxes, tariffs and taxation are going to mean much.
Beyond that, I believe that the Secretary of State has a great opportunity in the next year to show how the C.D.C. is to work as an instrument of policy in the development of backward territories. As recently as 23rd June, at the United Nations Conference, the Economic and Social Council adopted two resolutions relating to the creation of an International Finance Corporation and a Special Development Fund. When one reads the reports of these proceedings, one sees that much of the thinking is linked up with the thinking of this House in the 1945 Parliament on the Overseas Resources Bill.
The successful development of the C.D.C., as one method of increasing production within the Colonial Empire, can then be used as a prototype for developments under the Colombo Plan; and even in other parts of the world where this British experience on the C.D.C. may prove of the greatest value.
I should like to refer again briefly to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the West Indies. I believe that on both sides of the Committee we give full support in principle to federation in the West Indies. By persuasion we have to hold the balance in seeing what we think is best for the greatest number. To my mind the question of federation in the West Indies is already decided in principle. It is now a question of how and how soon. We must, I believe, proceed in the belief and knowledge that the day of the small unit has gone. All are going to sacrifice something but all are going to gain immeasurably more by getting together.
The bargaining position of the West Indies sugar delegation was infinitely stronger than colony by colony. Equally, I believe, the development of communications by sea and air, so important in that part of the world, would be better carried out by a West Indies Federation Authority, as it is being carried out in Central Africa and East Africa. The framework exists. There is a Regional Economic Council. I think that most people are agreed on the idea of a customs union. But political teeth have to be put into economic development.
2406 I think that the lesson of the past few years is that we cannot get proper economic development without a degree of political control at the same time. Very properly, to my mind, the last Government through E.P.U. and O.E.E.C. gave away part of the sovereignty of this country. I think that was the right thing to do. I also think that these Colonies must consider giving a degree of local independence to a federal authority. Perhaps in the interim period some of the experience gained at Strasbourg will be of value to the West Indies.
To add a word about constitutional changes, we talk about self-government within the Commonwealth, but if we try to get people to define it, they usually end up by writing a booklet. It is a most difficult thing to do. There are all sorts and forms of constitutional development in the different territories, such as in Malta and Gibraltar, which have the "fortress content" in their status. I believe we can find answers to all these problems; there is a great deal of hard thinking going on in this country, as well as by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.
Finally, I should like to mention that the Minister of State had great experience in the Middle East before the war and an unsurpassed experience at Strasbourg, and I believe that he has unique experience in and knowledge of constitutional means which could be applied to the territories overseas. If he and the Secretary of State will continue to apply themselves to the constitutional and political, as well as to the development and economic, sides of the affairs of these territories, they will be playing a great part in making it possible to keep 50 million people in these small islands.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Dr. H. Morgan (Warrington)
I am very grateful for the opportunity of speaking in this debate, for which I have been waiting for some months, and I propose, with the permission of the Committee, to confine myself purely to the West Indian Islands.
The West Indies are really our best Colony, historically and in every way, and they have been the worst treated. As late as 1939 I was asked to go out to Trinidad by the Trinidad Labour Party and prepare evidence for a West Indian Commission. Later, the Commission 2407 issued a very valuable Report, but, except for the monetary part of it, which really means nothing, practically nothing has been done, and the West Indies remain today in practically the same position as they were in before 1939. For a country, 'Empire or Commonwealth which frequently boasts of its colonial interests, this is really not good enough. We have always treated the West Indies badly.
When Columbus first discovered what are now called the West Indian Islands, inhabited by Caribs, the civilised European nations of the time, under the standard of Christianity, proceeded to exterminate the Carib population, and they did that over a period of two or three centuries very successfully. From that there came the pretence or promise of trying to make them into excellent, beautiful Colonies, and to give the people there good government and everything which we had in our political life. Now, we have turned round and have left the West Indian Islands practically in a state of poverty, destitution and ill health.
I am speaking of what I know; I am not speaking from reading or hearsay. I spent the first 18 years of my life in the West Indies as a very poor youth. I was educated in a primary school with the blacks, and I loved it, and I will pay my tribute to what was achieved under the very poorest conditions. I was lucky enough to win scholarships from the primary school with the blacks to a grammar school, and I subsequently entered the Civil Service.
When I had saved some money, I launched out for Glasgow with a few pounds in my pocket in order to study medicine, and Glasgow was as decent to me as any other city in Great Britain. There were no restrictions, and I was readily welcomed—not like the House, where sometimes even one's friends give one the cold shoulder. I have the right to say that I have a deep racial and climatic interest in these Colonies, in which I want to see that justice is done.
Let us take the situation of the West Indies from the point of view of their political economy or their political constitution. Here are Colonies different in size, the supposed remains of a huge volcanic eruption which devastated the centre of what we now call America, leaving North America on the one side 2408 and South America on the other, and this group of islands fringing the Atlantic. These islands, which have been fought for by the European nations, are now left with an English civilisation paramount, and, though it is true that the British have done better than any other nation there, their best is a very poor one.
The inhabitants of these islands—not Caribs, but descendants of negro slaves imported from Africa, with the remnants of a few Irish, English, and, above all, a few Scotsmen—have remained there and built up a link both with the Atlantic and the Pacific which will stand us in good stead in any emergency.
I always tend to be general when I want to be particular, and I want to ask the Committee not to forget the West Indian islands, whose people are now asking for adult suffrage and equal suffrage for both sexes, as well as for economic development. They are also asking for a free hand in order to show that West Indians can do some of the jobs which imported Englishmen do so badly. Never once has a West Indian Governor been appointed to any island in the West Indies. For decades they have been asking for union or federation between all the Colonies, rich and poor, small and large, and yet these islands are still being left in the same difficulties as they were in before.
Commission after Commission goes out there and makes inquiries lasting for months, and their Reports are brought up again and again, while these long-suffering people are left without a vote and without any say in their Colony. So we proceed from year to year, while the people of these poor islands, on which the United States has its eye for a great naval station, and which give passageway through the Panama Canal into the Pacific, have done all they possibly could through every possible channel, political and economic, to get the British Government to do something for them.
Some hon. Members do not even know where the West Indies are. I have asked some hon. Members to tell me the names of some of the West Indian islands and something of their history, but they have looked at me blankly and said—well, I cannot repeat the exact language they used, because it was rather strong. They have said, "Where do these islands come in? We are concerned with the world 2409 and with Great Britain. We do not want to be concerned with these puny things." [An HON. MEMBER: "Who said that?"] I can tell the hon. Member privately. I cannot do it publicly; it would not be fair.
The islands want federation. They want to have these Colonies, large or small, rich or poor, welded together with one Government under a democratic constitution. They want the right to have a say in the government of their own country, in complete loyalty to the British Commonwealth and Empire. They are the most loyal people in the Empire, and have been so for many years. They have been most loyal to the Colonial Office, though under very humiliating circumstances at times.
When one talks to the officials of the Colonial Office they are full of references to bureaucratic complacency. When one goes to the Colonial Office—at least when I go—the officials pick up their pencils and start to take notes from the time the interview begins. They continue to the end, and in my case they are three officials to one against me. But this bureaucracy starts with officials who do not know anything about the economic, social, health, and other problems of the West Indies.
I ask hon. Members to consider where recruitment for service in the West Indies is carried out. When there was a vacant judgeship in Jamaica there was there a very excellent man who was born in the island where I was born. I knew him as a youth. He has been a judge there for six or seven years. His judgments are recognised to be sound, and when the post of Chief Justice became vacant I thought that here was an opportunity for the Colonial Office to appoint a native man who had given evidence of his knowledge of local circumstances and of the psychology of the people. But that man was left alone to continue in his minor judgeship while an imported English judge came to occupy the senior post. That kind of thing has been happening throughout the West Indies. It may seem nothing to us, but it means a great deal to the people there.
I should like to give another example of the same kind of thing in connection with education. There is primary education, with the religious difficulty always worming its way through the system—because there is the same difficulty with 2410 religions of all kinds in the West Indies as there is here. That difficulty also arises in the secondary schools. But it happens sometimes that students who have been educated in preparation of entering a pro-Session have to enter, for example, a British school of medicine for further training.
I know of a case from British Guiana, the mainland of the Caribbean. A successful businessman there had a daughter whose ambition was to come to England to be trained in medicine and then to return to her native land to practise medicine for the benefit of the poor women there who are dying from tuberculosis and other diseases. She wanted to demonstrate by example that she could come to Britain, through her father's help, and qualify in the medical schools in this country.
The girl has been here now for two years. She has learned to type and has worked in a London office to keep herself until she could enter a medical school. At last, through the help of the Colonial Office—and I pay tribute to some of the officials there—she has been placed in Birmingham. I introduced myself to the Dean of Birmingham University. I told him that I came from the West Indies and that I should like him to keep an eye on the girl and look after her welfare. He told me that she was one of the luckiest girls in the world to be at the university's school.
She had already passed the London matriculation examination; and the first year examination in medicine which she had already passed had been approved by London University. But in spite of that, the Birmingham University authorities were insisting that she should sit again for the examination which she had already passed before she could be accepted by the Birmingham University school, which is one of the most recently established medical schools. I wrote to the Dean and said that it was rather hard and unfair, and that if this was a typical example of the treatment of West Indian students there was bound to be a reaction in the West Indies.
What if the West Indies retaliated for these acts by not importing British goods? It might lead to Lancashire losing its market for textiles in the Caribbean. We hope that the West Indies will remain as loyal to the British Isles as they have 2411 been for years, but we cannot treat in this fashion this girl, whose career is being watched with considerable interest by other inhabitants in British Guiana and throughout the West Indies, without expecting some unfavourable reaction. These kind of things happen every day.
When this girl applied for a place—which was finally provided for her in Birmingham—London University and the Scottish universities had no place to offer. The British schools of medicine have now taken a total of only two West Indian students. Is that the way to treat the people of these very important Islands in the West Indies? Is it really fair that we who sit in the House of Commons—apart from many of us not knowing where the West Indies are—should sit here as legislators with dominion over the British Commonwealth and Empire and treat the peoples of our Colonial Territories in this way when they come here for education in preparation for one of the professions?
They come here for that education in cases where it is not provided in the West Indies—as it is in Jamaica, which possesses at Kingston the one university in the Islands. If this education for the professions is not provided in the Colonies we should see that arrangements are made in this country—even if it means providing special grants—so that these students shall not only have proper hostels but places ready for them in certain universities. We should see that care is taken of them there so that they can go back and do the work which they wish to do in their native land.
This may seem to the Committee a trivial subject, but I have seen the tears and the lonely waiting for months of men and women. The women especially have come to me, for a lonely West Indian girl in this country must obtain proper introductions to safeguard herself. The girl to whom I have referred has come back from the Colonial Office more than once and has said to me, "The lady at the Colonial Office is really trying, but the difficulty is in the medical schools." But the medical schools are not full. The trouble is that we do not supervise medical education properly. Incidentally, that is why differences exist between one medical school and another. All I can say is that it is the Colonial Office which is in charge of the advanced education 2412 of these little Colonies who have proved their worth time and again in spite of the disgraceful economic conditions in which the people are forced to live.
I have been to the West Indies recently when the British Medical Association sent me: my political enemies sent me there in 1950–51. There one sees the dreadful sanitary conditions, the low pay of the labourers on the estates and the disgraceful education offered to people who are willing to make any sacrifice to get it. [Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman opposite may laugh.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
I was not laughing at the hon. Member's speech. I always enjoy speeches by the hon. Member. There are many occasions when I laugh with the hon. Member, but I never laugh at him.
§ Dr. Morgan
I heard the laugh. I am sorry if I was mistaken and that it was a comment from one of his hon. Friends which made the hon. Gentleman laugh.
Conditions in the West Indies are pitiable and pathetic. I wish that more hon. Members could investigate them. I conclude by saying that I am grateful to the Chair for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the West Indies during this debate. I have not been lucky enough to be called for nearly 18 months. I wish to thank the Chair for the patience and decency with which I have been received and for the care which has been taken to see that I got an opportunity to speak of this occasion. I am most grateful.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. G. P. Stevens (Portsmouth, Langstone)
I have a feeling that the sort of case to which the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) referred of this unhappy West Indian student is less likely to arise today than was the case perhaps in the past. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, established a consultative committee for the welfare of colonial students. My right hon. Friend, who succeeded him, has carried on that consultative committee. I think that that committee, together with the excellent work which the British Council does, should eliminate entirely, or almostly entirely, these unhappy cases to which the hon. Gentleman referred.
§ Mr. Stevens
If the hon. Gentleman should come across such a case in future, if he refers it to me, or to one of his hon. Friends who is also a member of the committee, we shall be happy to refer it to the consultative committee.
What has struck me this afternoon is that in broad terms there has been a remarkable expression of unanimity of objective on both sides of the committee so far. Whether that objective be federation of the West Indies, to which the hon. Member for Warrington hardly referred at all, or the expression of our determination to achieve success in Malaya, it seems to me that the very fact that there has been such a high degree of unanimity means that in recent years there has been some change in the attitude of hon. Members opposite to questions of Empire and Imperial development.
In years gone by we could not possibly have achieved this high degree of unanimity. I believe that that very change of mind itself is a source of the greatest hope not merely for the people of this country but for the people of the Colonies themselves. We on this side of the Committee, and a good many hon. Members opposite, believe that considerable strength derives from having so far as possible a bi-partisan foreign policy. I believe that it is also a considerable source of strength to go forward together as far as possible in questions of colonial development.
But I want to utter a word of warning. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite—indeed, it would probably be true to say all hon. Gentlemen opposite—from time to time accuse Members of the Conservative Party, in colonial matters as well as in other respects, of being reactionary—
§ Mr. Stevens
I hear the echo—of being reactionary and of being opposed at all times to change and progress.
§ Mr. Stevens
As far as colonial matters are concerned, although again I 2414 hear the echo, I do not think that that charge can be substantiated when one considers the record of my party. I shall not weary the Committee, neither shall I take up as much time as some hon. Gentlemen have taken, by giving a catalogue of what the Conservative Party have done for colonial or other forms of Imperial development.
I propose to refer just for one moment to the Statute of Westminster, which nailed the flag of self-government firmly to the Dominion mast. That great and historic act of Imperial evolution was one in which the Labour Party played a great and honourable part, though it is true that it was a National Government with a Conservative majority which put it on the Statute Book.
The logical development of that way of thinking is self-government for the Colonies. But the word of warning which I want to issue now is that I believe that in the past certain people have done great harm to the cause of the future self-government in the Colonies by arousing in the minds and hearts of the people of the Colonies passions and hopes of self-government at a stage when other people believe that they are not yet ready for it. I have in mind at the moment the Gold Coast and, to a lesser extent, Nigeria.
If one reads the daily papers from the Gold Coast and Nigeria and if one meets people from those countries, one hears the slogans, "Cast off the Imperialistic bonds" and "Self-government now," and that sort of thing. I do not think that this does anything to create the right views in the minds of those whose aid is essential to the future well-being of those Colonies. I have in mind especially the great scheme to harness the waters of the Volta River in the Gold Coast, to produce 550,000 kilowatts of electricity and 200,000 tons of aluminium, to irrigate hitherto infertile plains, to provide for inland waterways and to provide also, as an incidental, more new roads and railways and a new harbour.
The imaginations of the people of the Gold Coast are fired with enthusiasm for that great scheme, as indeed is mine, but the cost of that scheme is estimated at about £100 million. I am certain that that total will be exceeded should this great scheme come to fruition. It is obvious that the Gold Coast alone will be unable 2415 to carry out that scheme, however desirable it may be. Plant, machinery, technicians, administrators, capital—all these will be wanted from outside sources.
When I say that, I recall clearly the speech made during the Budget debate by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies in which he pointed out that one cannot invest a deficit in colonial development. If that be true, it means that there must be outside co-operation, co-operation from outside the Empire. I am certain that there will be no outside co-operation unless there is confidence in the future political stability of that country. The warning of Abadan is a very recent one. I do not think that people with savings to invest, or people with future careers to think of, will "stick out their necks" when it is entirely unnecessary.
Self-government will come in due course in some form, as an hon. Friend of mine pointed out a few moments ago. There are many forms in which self-government can come, but self-government will only come or should only come to the Colonies when the Colonies are ready for it. Here we find a very genuine and understandable difference of opinion—who is going to be the judge of when a Colony is ready for self-government? Many hon. Members opposite and others, too, have said that, democratically speaking, the only people who can properly determine the system of government which they should have are the people of the country concerned, and that that is a proper democratic method. Other people say that this country, from long and wide experience, may perhaps have a better judgment in these matters.
I, personally, believe that both those categories of people are wrong. I do not think self-government should come to a Colony when the people of that Colony decide of their own free will that they are ready for it. I do not think that we in this country should be the final arbiters of when that time should be. Neither of those two should decide. The deciding factor should be outside world opinion. When the peoples of the outside world say, "Yes, the Volta scheme is a fine scheme; the people have a stable and responsible Government; our savings and our careers can safely be 2416 entrusted to them, and we are glad to be partners in a fine enterprise," that is the time when self-government should come to the Gold Coast. That is the time when self-government should go to the peoples of the different countries.
I do not believe that that time is yet, but just as I hope that no hon. Members or others will inflame passions which, once aroused, are not easily quietened, so I believe that if we in this Committee can achieve the greatest possible measure of unanimity and bi-partisanship in colonial policy, that, coupled with the progressive policy of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, will bring the greatest possible benefit to the peoples at home and in the Colonies themselves.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I was very interested indeed in the remarks of the hon. Member for Langstone (Mr. Stevens) regarding the time when a people were entitled to self-government. If I understood him aright, he said that neither the people of a country nor a Government in occupation such as ours is today has the right to make that decision, but that the decision should be made by some external agency.
§ Mr. Stevens
I do not think I used the words "entitled" or "right." I said that that was the time when they should receive it, obviously meaning that that was the time when they would obtain the greatest benefit from receiving it.
§ Mr. Brockway
I was very interested in that analysis, and I would only like to put this point to the Committee. I believe that the time when a people should have self-government should be arranged between that people and the authorities already in command. I believe the Trusteeship Council has adopted the correct principle in saying that the Governments which are now responsible for Trusteeship territories should seek to fix a target date when the progress of those peoples towards self-government should be attained.
I believe the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions is equally correct in accepting that principle, and I should like to urge upon this Committee, and particularly upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that if we are to secure the confidence, trust and cooperation of peoples in the colonial 2417 countries, the best way to do it would be in discussion, consultation and agreement with them to fix a target date when, in each respective Colony, the goal of full self-government should be secured. I believe that if it were possible to pursue that policy we would change the whole psychology of the colonial peoples.
§ Mr. Braine
I am very interested in the argument of the hon. Gentleman. Would he not agree that self-government which does not rest upon a basis of financial independence and reasonable standards of living for all the people is largely a mockery and a delusion? How does that fit in with the hon. Gentleman's conception of setting a date line?
§ Mr. Brockway
I am not going to pursue this argument in detail because I have a particular subject which I want to discuss, but I would only say this to the hon. Gentleman: If a country must be financial independent to be self-governing, this country has no right to be self-governing today because we are so financially dependent upon the United States of America.
§ Mr. Brockway
Secondly, I would say that if the hon. Gentleman applies the test of the economic independence of a people, that test must involve not only the balance of payments and so on but also the conditions of life of the masses of the people in a particular country.
§ Mr. Brockway
If that is what the hon. Gentleman said, I hope he is going to support those of us on these benches who are urging that at first attention should be given to the lifting of the standards of life of the people.
§ Mr. Brockway
I will resist the temptation to discuss those matters further.
I wish to discuss tonight the question of Kenya, and I do so because I regard the position in Kenya as potentially more dynamic for good or for bad among the British Colonies than any other Colony. The circumstances there are unique. We have four races within its territory. We have the African, Indian, European, and the Arab races, and if that Colony can 2418 be made an example of racial equality and co-operation it will be the greatest thing that has ever happened within the British colonial system. On the other hand, if tendencies are encouraged there which make for racial domination and conflict, Kenya may be a disaster to the whole of our colonial system. It is because I believe that those are the two alternatives that I want to spend some time in discussing the situation tonight.
When I returned from Kenya within the last two years I felt optimistic about those two alternatives. My own view is that the likelihood of racial equality and democracy is greater than the likelihood of racial domination and conflict. I base that view first on the fact that in Kenya we already have a greater degree of co-operation between the two numerically largest races than I have seen anywhere. The representatives of the 5½ million Africans and the leaders of the 98,000 Indians co-operate closely together upon nearly every public issue which can be raised within that Colony. So far as the European population is concerned, I met there a group of men of a moral quality, a personal courage and an intellectual breadth of view which I believe will, in time, secure the leadership of the whole European community.
I look forward to the co-operation of the different communities in Kenya on a basis of democracy and equality, and I think that every action taken and every statement made in Parliament should be a contribution towards that goal. If that goal is to be reached the social, economic and political relations between the communities in Kenya must be just. In a recent speech in the House I had an opportunity to discuss some of the social inequalities in Kenya; therefore, I shall not make further reference to those tonight. But I do want to refer to the economic and political inequalities. Among the 5½ million Africans land is life. They are almost entirely dependent upon agriculture. Today there is the most intense land hunger among hundreds of thousands of them.
Less than two years ago I saw something in Kenya which I did not believe could occur outside the conditions of civil war. I saw crops being destroyed; I saw the huts of Africans being knocked down by bulldozers; I saw soldiers setting those huts alight, and I saw 2419 Africans sitting among the smouldering ruins of those huts. When I described this incident to the acting Governor-General the following day he said that he had no knowledge of it but would secure a report upon it. When the report was made the conditions which I have described were acknowledged, but the action was justified on the ground that members of one African tribe had trespassed on the land of another African tribe. That cannot be the final explanation. The African populations are excluded from 16 million square miles of land in Kenya.
§ Mr. Brockway
I am sorry. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I should have said 16 million acres.
The point I was making was that when a large area of land is reserved for the European population and there is a crowding of one tribe—as there is among the Kikuyus—it is inevitable that there will be an overlapping of that tribe on to the territory which belongs to another tribe. What happens among the Kikuyus is that a portion of them overlap in that way, with the result that I have described, or they become squatters with no rights in the European Reserves, or are driven to become cheap labour in the towns and have to be housed in abominable conditions.
§ Mr. Brockway
Certainly. It occurred at Kibiku. It is in the shadow of Mount Gong.
On the Order Paper there is a Motion signed by 200 Members of Parliament. That Motion urges that land in the European Reserves which is unused hould now be placed at the service of the African population. To that Motion some Conservative Members have tabled an Amendment speaking of the contribution which the European farmers have made to the lifting of the standards of life of the African people generally. No one in the House is more appreciative than I of what European farmers have done for agriculture in Kenya.
2420 No one can have flown over the Rift Valley and seen those beautiful farms with their red roofs glistening in the sun and the carpet of green and gold of their extensive fields, or have gone to Nairobi and then to the north and seen the neat coffee plantations of the European farmers and then, when the European area ends, come to the rather rugged cultivation of the African farmers, without recognising the contribution which European farmers have made to Kenya. I am the first to recognise that; but when European settlers go to an African country they should be models in that country so far as new and modern techniques are concerned. They should not become monopolists of the land—and very often much of the best land—of those Colonies, as in the case of Kenya.
As long ago as 1923 the British Government declared that in the African Territories under their control:The interests of Africans are paramount where these interests conflict with those of any other race.If that principle is to be accepted, when our farmers take their modern techniques to the African countries they should do so rather as a model and a service to the African agricultural community than in order to become a privileged community upon a reserved area.
In an earlier speech discussing the Motion which is on the Order Paper. I think it was the Minister himself who spoke of the amount of land which is not used in the European reserved territory as being insignificant or small. I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having included in yesterday's OFFICIAL REPORT the figures on this subject. I agree that I gave him very short notice, but would he take note of the fact that the figures at the top of the table, in column 2143, refer to the area unallocated in the territory reserved for Europeans? That is not made clear by the form in which the figures appear, and it might well be thought that the total area unallocated was 207,000 acres instead of that being the area unallocated in the territory reserved for Europeans.
§ Mr. Brockway
I will repeat it. I have here a second copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT, and perhaps that could be 2421 handed to the Minister. He may remember that I asked in a letter what proportion of land in Kenya, reserved for European settlers, remained unallocated, and how much of this was cultivable. In response to that question, he gave the figures which are in the OFFICIAL REPORT this morning. That means that the column should have been headed, "Area unallocated in the territory reserved for Europeans." As it appears now, it might give the impression that the words "Area unallocated" referred to the whole of Kenya. If they had referred to the whole of Kenya, then the figure would have been very much larger than 207,000 acres. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with the point I am making.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
What the hon. Gentleman says is quite correct, but I thought it was impossible to make the mistake in the context. In fact, lower down, the reply goes intoThe total area of land alienated to Europeans in the Kenya Highland.I will, however, look into the point.
§ Mr. Brockway
I shall not delay on the point. I simply wanted to be sure that there was no misunderstanding. These figures indicate that in the area reserved for Europeans there are still nearly 208,000 acres which are unallocated. Of this, 141,000 acres are cultivable and 7,497 are arable.
§ Mr. F. Harris
I think the hon. Gentleman has the figures wrong. May I remind him that although the land to which he refers may be said to be cultivable, over much of it the rainfall is less than 20 inches; and one cannot make good agriculture under such conditions of rainfall.
§ Mr. Brockway
I shall be satisfied to make my point, and I am quite confident about the figures which I am quoting.
§ Mr. Harris
The figures are quite clearly,cultivable limited to grazing by topographical or climatic conditions…140,826."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1952; Vol. 503, c. 2143.]That is the point I am making. Much of that—indeed, the great bulk of it—cannot be cultivated. One can only graze cattle on it, and they may be subject to disease.
§ Mr. Brockway
I am not disputing that point; I am merely saying that 2422 207,000 acres of that land are not used. There is no doubt that a considerable part of it could be used.
§ Mr. Brockway
If even only a portion of it were used for arable purposes, it would be of great value to the Africans, who are mostly cattle farmers.
§ Mr. Brockway
I think I have given way fairly generously to hon. Members opposite. The point which I make, and which I am satisfied to make, is that there is still a considerable area within the European Reserve which could be used by the land hungry Africans. The second point—and I make it quickly—is that a considerable portion of the land which is now used for grazing could be placed under crops and much of it could be used by the Africans.
The third point I make is that there is a tendency in some parts of that area for land which is good for agriculture and crop growing to be converted into use for urban residences. When I went out from Nairobi to Tigoni, Karara and Kabete I saw good farm land converted to urban residences, whilst in the south-east of Nairobi, in the Embarkas district I saw a considerable area of waste land which could well have been used for these residential purposes. Fourthly, I want to urge that when European farms become vacant, they should be made available to Africans as well as land at present unused.
My fifth point is that over the large part of Kenya which is now desert and poor land there should be a great concentration of effort to make that land cultivable. It has been proved in Israel and Tripoli in Northern Africa that the most arid desert can be made into cultivable land, and I believe that we should make a tremendous effort on those lines so that there might be land available for the African population.
My sixth point is the need for the preservation and the best use of land through soil preservation, technical aid and agricultural credit, particularly by the encouragement of African Cooperatives. This new approach involves the withdrawal of the Crown Lands 2423 Ordinance and the Native Lands Trust Ordinance of 1938 so that Africans can be eligible to use land in any part of Kenya. I very strongly urge that policy upon the Government.
I am very sorry that I have been involved in a dispute about figures which leaves me very little time to make my last point, which is this. Just as we must deal with this land problem, so we must deal with the political inequality which now exist in Kenya. In the Legislative Council of Kenya there are 34 Europeans, eight Indians, eight Africans and three Arabs; and there is not a single elected African. The 34 Europeans represent a population of 38,000. The eight nominated Africans represent a population of five-and-a-half million.
There is shortly to be a Committee to consider a new constitution in Kenya, and I very strongly urge that the principle of a common electoral roll of all races in Kenya should be adopted. I think it is only by the adoption of the principle of a common roll that we shall overcome the difficulties of race inequality which now exists. These, with the abolition of the colour bar, to which I referred the other day, are the two essential changes—the opening up of land and the giving of a common political roll—to give hope of Kenya becoming a democracy with racial equality.
The most disturbing feature in Kenya today is the distrust and fear between the races. I can hardly deliver a speech in the House without receiving letters from Kenya expressing fear of the consequences of urging greater liberties and rights for the African people. I heard last night an African saying in this building that whilst there was fear expressed about the Africans in the Nairobi clubs, among Africans themselves there is also a fear of the future. I believe that we have to see a relationship between the races which will overcome that fear and overcome that discrimination. I believe the Europeans in Kenya must realise that they are living as a minority among the Africans, and that their greatest glory will be if they conduct such policies in Kenya that the great majority of Africans move forward to economic and political liberties, and have trust in the European minority there.
I make that appeal to the Europeans in Kenya, but I make a similar appeal 2424 to the Africans. The indignity of being regarded as inferior means a certain frustration which may easily lead to hatred, but if the Africans give way to hatred they succumb to the very racialism which they themselves condemn. I hope, therefore, that in their march towards freedom they will eschew methods of violence, and that they will concentrate on the methods of education, self respect, the proof of equality in constructive achievement, organisation as co-operators, trade unionists and in their political associations. This is the way to political democracy in Kenya, but we in this Chamber have got to make possible the conditions which will make that political advance possible.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
I am sure the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), who I know takes a very great interest in the subject with which he has dealt, will forgive me for not going into detail on matters he has brought to the attention of the Committee tonight. Many of the figures he quoted are contentious. All I would say to him is that he can rest assured that there are really only some 7,000 acres that have so far been unallocated in the White Highlands that can really be considered to be arable at the present moment. Much of the land cattle could graze over, but the difficulties are so immense that until science has proceeded much farther than it has done we cannot expect that land to be very easily utilised.
I make no excuse for carrying on the discussion on the Kenya land question, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who first spoke for the Opposition, put that item first of the three main subjects on which he spoke. I know he has a very considerable interest in this whole matter, but I do feel that he may not realise the fact that he is not helping the problem of Europeans, Africans and Asians with some of the suggestions that he put forward again tonight. I know that we are all anxious to keep these matters out of political argument and to try not to bring politics into our colonial discussions.
I have heard many times the case put forward, by people often in complete ignorance of the facts, that the Europeans should return to the Africans what they 2425 term stolen land. I feel that many of the African leaders often fail to recognise how the peoples should advance in present world conditions. They must really try to understand that not every man and woman can find a living on their own land, but that many, probably the majority, must seek their livings elsewhere and by other means. I would suggest that the answer to the African problem today is certainly not the one that is put forward in the main by their leaders, namely, that they should be given more land, and that, if that were done, in due course all would be well.
I would on that score right away take the time of the Committee on the question of density. If one takes the over-all population and the density of Kenya alone one finds it is only some 24 to the square mile, against England's 700 and India's 274. In the more crowded areas of Kiambu there is a population of some 420 a square mile, but in the Masai Reserve it is only some four to the square mile, and, indeed, in the White Highlands themselves the African population on the farms is still some 80 per square mile. I think on consideration it will be recognised that there is much to be said in regard to this question of density.
There have been demands, of course, for a Royal Commission to examine the Africans' wishes in respect of their land demands, but personally I do not think that a Royal Commission will serve any particularly useful purpose at the present time. I would definitely say that if all the White Highlands were handed over to the Africans, in due course, if they were to continue with their normal system of peasant agriculture, they would certainly be ruined, and even if they were handed over it would provide but temporary relief, so long as the idea persists that a man and his wife can get their means of subsistence out of the soil itself. I would put forward in support of my view that only some 20 per cent. of the European population in Kenya own any land at all at the present time, and I think it is often forgotten that the lands on which nearly nine-tenths of the African population reside also lie within the most fertile highlands of Kenya.
The economic and social problem confronting the Africans of Kenya is not due to any unfair or unreasonable division of the territory but to a variety of other 2426 reasons, the remedy for which does not lie in re-opening the question of land rights at all—not by numerous inquiries—but by other and more fruitful means. The area reserved for European settlement in the White Highlands is only a twentieth of 5 per cent. of the whole of Kenya Colony. When the European settlers first came, some 9,000 of their 12,000 square miles were completely unoccupied except for intermittent grazing by the Masai tribe. The remaining 3,000 square miles were uninhabited and it was the 3,000 square miles which have in the main provided the cause of the dispute which we are discussing today. In so far as this particular area is concerned there was admittedly room for some doubt whether there was any partial occupancy at all by any of the tribes.
What Kenya needs today, I submit, is not expansion of intermittent peasant agriculture but a development of other methods providing a livelihood and a measure of social security for the Africans. Many have endeavoured—the Colonial Secretary referred to this tonight—to expand secondary industries in Africa, and this has, of course, served, and will continue to serve a very useful purpose.
Many of us know Mr. Mathu, the leader of the Africans in the Legislative Assembly, very well. I should like to say to him and to his colleagues that this cry for land may be in many ways a convenient political cry, but that no kind of redistribution of East African land wilt ever provide a solution to the economic problems of that country. The progress and prosperity of the East African population of Kenya depends upon intelligent and intensive application of science to their own methods of agriculture on the abolition of pests, rotation of crops, better use of mechanisation and fertilisation, education, water supplies and so forth.
The proper development of Kenya in the best interests of all sections of the population depends upon its achievement of a balanced and progressive economy, in which there must be a certain amount of industrial organisation as well as agriculture. Such progress can never be achieved without the contribution which can be made by a lawfully established European community, since the development of such a Colony cannot ultimately 2427 depend upon unlimited financial support from our own Mother country.
I have often felt, particularly in Kenya, that the best way of dealing with some of our discontented and noisy African politicians would be to give the greatest possible measure of self-government to one of their own areas, such as Kikuyaland, and to leave them to run their own affairs with the minimum of interference from our own Government. If this was done, it would be without the aid of the British enterprise and influence which they often so wrongly and so bitterly criticised.
We have reached the stage when the East African in East Africa, and the African and Indian politicians, should realise two particular points. The first is that the European community in East Africa is there to stay by the proper right of their own achievements. The second is that the degree of participation by the Africans and Indians in the future government of Kenya must depend in the same way, and be won, by their own hard work and achievement, and not by any irresponsible and fiery words, about which we seem so very soft and tolerant.
I well remember the report a few months ago that the President of the Kenya African Union, Mr. Jomo Kenyatta, said:What we Africans want is complete freedom, so that we can do what we please.He was also reported as saying that Kenya belonged solely to the Africans because it had been so ordained by God, and that anybody who disputed that veiw was guilty of blasphemy. It is wrong to think that the African has any prior right of claim on the White Highlands because of previous occupation.
According to my information it was only in a few cases in the Kiambu District back in the 1900's that the Africans had any effective occupation, and not in the Highlands at all. Even on the fringe of the Kikuyu country, which has lately provided some of the most persistent land claims, mainly in Dagoretti and Fort Hall, there were hardly any native inhabitants at all. That was possibly because of the fear of Masai raids which were prevalent before our own British came in to provide administration.
I recall that the President of the East African Indian National Congress was reported to have made a speech in which he 2428 said that Indian and African opinion on all important political matters was absolutely identical. He understood that the Indians would do nothing to interfere with the land claims of the Africans. I believe it was in answer to this statement that Mr. Kenyatta asked the President of the East African Indian National Congress to tell the Indians that the Africans wanted their friendship but asked for it to be shown by deeds and not by words.
What is the real truth of this matter? The Indian section of the Asiatic community in Kenya is primarily interested in trading security. The Indian sees ahead to a time when in East Africa the African peoples may achieve large political influence and responsibility. The Indian agitator wants to be on what he thinks is the right side. He has come to Africa to trade, to practise his profession, to make money and to prosper.
I do not believe for one moment that he has come with a real desire to undertake the risks of colonisation. From my own limited knowledge I would go so far as to say that he has actually contributed very little to thought and experience in his approach to the tasks of Government and to the creation of the new society of what we today call darkest Africa. I think further that he fools his own community and himself into thinking that the African cannot see as far, maybe even sometimes a little farther, than he himself.
Soon considerable detailed information will become available which, once it can be sent to Members of Parliament, will give a more clear and realistic understanding of the present problems of Kenya. I feel that much of the lack of understanding and appreciation that may be in existence could eventually be eliminated if each one of us understood the problems facing all races in Kenya at present.
It has been reported in the writings of the African worker that Sir George Orde Brown, Labour Adviser to the Colonial Office from 1938 to 1943, once said:East Africa is barely able to support itself in food at the present time and would be a large importer were it not for the European farms.I do not think many of us who know the country would disagree with those words. And there were the words of the former 2429 Colonial Secretary, Mr. Creech Jones, who once said:Nor can European settlement be much modified without prejudice to the economic requirements of Kenya in financing its current requirements"—
§ Mr. S. S. Awbery (Bristol, Central)
The hon. Gentleman has told us how much we have put into the Colony, but how much have we taken out?
§ Mr. Harris
I would say very little in comparison with what has gone into Kenya, as I am sure anyone who knows that territory would agree. To continue with my quotation from Mr. Creech Jones, who is a colleague of the hon. Gentleman who has just interrupted me:and expanding for Africans the social services and the standards they require.Finally, Sir Philip Mitchell, the recent Governor of Kenya who has just retired, said that the problem will be facilitated to the extent that European enterprise is able to provide increasing employment and opportunity for the African.
I submit to this Committee that it should be obvious to everyone who is thinking of the real future and progress and development of East Africa that what the African requires is not restricted but continuing, increasing European settlement.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
All hon. Members, on both sides of the Committee, will congratulate the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris) upon the speech he has just made, particularly in view of his earlier indisposition. I hope, however, that he will forgive me if I plunge at once into my speech, because I should not be forgiven if I attempted to make a global survey in the time that is at my disposal.
I turn at once, therefore, to West Africa, first because I had the honour to go there on the Parliamentary delegation a few months ago and I have some first-hand knowledge of it; and second, because Nigeria, in particular, is so important. Many of us forget that Nigeria has the fourth largest population in the Commonwealth. It lies only behind Pakistan, India and ourselves, with 30 million people and an enormous market, particularly for Lancashire, if some arrangement can be come to with a gentleman named Mr. Nwapa, who has 2430 been over here. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is still here."] Many of us had the honour and privilege of meeting him. Nigeria is a very important land, and its difficulties and problems are typical of all Colonial Territories.
We all desire social services for the peoples who are our wards, in education, housing, and the like; but we must also under-pin those social services with secondary industries, otherwise there will never be the wealth and finance to pay for all the social services that are so badly needed by the peoples in our care.
The hon. Member for Croydon, North spoke, for example, about Kenya. Those of us who have studied a little the schools in Kenya know that it would take something like £10 million annually to give all the African youngsters in Kenya a full education. That is an awful lot of money to be got from the economy of a Colonial Territory like Kenya. We must examine, therefore, where we are to get this money and what we should do to find it. These are virile peoples on the march, especially in West Africa, and their constitutional advance in the last few years has simply whetted their appetites for more, particularly in education. They have a limitless thirst, which at present is being nothing like slaked.
In the past we have laid too much emphasis on academic education. In Nigeria, for example, less than one child in five goes to school. There is less than one place for each 10,000 boys in technical education. In many areas, schools are non-existent, and particularly in the North for girls. The schools are too academic, and, unfortunately, the African leaders which these schools have produced have tended to be somewhat aloof from their own people, which can be, and in the past has been, a distinct handicap to these virile parties that are on the march and already have taken political power in the Colonies.
The need of Nigeria, and of the Gold Coast and all these territories, is not so much for lawyers, but for the humble fitter at the bench. I need give only one example. I had the good fortune to spend a morning at the workshops of the Nigerian Railways at Ebue-Metta where at any given moment there are for repair something like 20 locomotives, and at 2431 Kaduna in the North and Enugu in the East.
Before the war, of those 20 locomotives in the shops, something like 12 per month could be sent back to the State Railways. That was sufficient to keep the hinterland supplied with locomotives and wagons with which to shift the peanuts and the other commodities down to the coast at Lagos and Port Harcourt. Today they are only moving something like eight locomotives per month into service on the lines. If they could have a few more skilled engineers back in the shops we would not see those depressing sights in the capital of the North; those awful modern pyramids of peanuts at Kano would be shifted to the coast quickly, and it would give wealth which would pay for social services such as hospitals at Lagos and schools at Enugu and elsewhere. But where are we to get the money?
I wish to put two points to the Minister tonight and I hope he will attempt to answer them in summing up. The first is the urgent need, through the Colonial Development Corporation or any other medium, to supplement what industry is there at the moment. We have heard about the population pressure on land in an area like Owerri. In the Delta there is a density of something like 1,000 per square mile; people who are tending the soil with hoe and matchet, living on the land. There are no factories and that density is much too great. It leads to malnutrition and people are coming in droves to the towns. Ibadan, for example, is the biggest African town in the whole continent.
If we are to take people off the land, we should push forward with secondary industries such as textile mills, but, more important than that, unless in Nigeria and similar Colonies we produce more wealth we shall not have the finance to pay for schools and hospitals. It is a sardonic commentary to make, but when I was in the tobacco factory at Ibadan where they make "Pioneer" and "Bicycle" cigarettes, I found that the chief source of national income of Nigeria is in Customs and Excise, and if the people of Nigeria each smoked one more "Bicycle" cigarette per day, that would relieve them of many worries in the matter of providing social services. This is a sardonic commentary, but in what way can we help the Colonies?
2432 Earlier we heard the Minister give his views about the future life, or future stage in the life, of the Colonial Development Corporation. I am very disappointed indeed with the C.D.C. in Nigeria. They have six projects and in the Mokwa scheme, the agricultural project is going well. They have shifted anthills, and cleared 7,000 acres at something like £12 an acre. They have the first village settled and it is a growing concern. They began in a modest way and are making a go of it. But it is in the fibre industries that I am disappointed.
In Nigeria we have a "Cotton belt," but only two power loom factories for weaving, and no spinning mill at all. The C.D.C. discussed setting up at Onitsha, both a jute sack mill and a cotton spinning mill. Both of these projects have, apparently, now been shelved. It is really fantastic that we have a Colony which grows cotton and sends cotton to the homeland, but the two power loom weaving mills are held up because the Department of Commerce and Industries cannot guarantee them 10 tons of cotton yarn per month from Duala in the French Cameroons. When I visited a mill at Lagos, I found the owner sitting on his bottom outside in the hot sunshine. The mill was held up for lack of cotton yarn. Let us speak once more to the C.D.C. about those two mills and see whether we cannot have many more.
I understand that Bengal jute is dear and capital overheads are heavy, but what land more than Nigeria will need sacks? Sacks are in such short supply in India that I gather they are exporting sugar in bulk. But one cannot export cocoa in bulk. All the Colonial Territories are greatly in need of sacks for exporting their final products of the land. It is, however, to the cotton spinning mills that I ask the Minister to pay special attention.
May I say a few more words about the Colonial Development Corporation? I have read their report in the staccato and striking language of Lord Reith. He talks about natural calamities, about the hazards and variations of the weather and about past managements. He speaks, too, about the new hazard in 1952, which was not there in the days of benevolent Socialism. It came as soon as the villain of the piece, sitting on the opposite side 2433 of the Chamber beside the Despatch Box, talked about the new rate of interest. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his wisdom or lack of it, will now allow the C.D.C. money only at 4¼ per cent. In the days when Labour sat on that side of the Committee, they got their money slightly cheaper—actually 3 per cent.
§ Mr. Braine
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not pursue that argument further, because the Report which he mentions refers to the year ending 31st December, 1951, and to the world-wide failures and frustrations which unhappily took place under the late Administration.
§ Mr. Johnson
I think that this is a matter of modern history. It is there in black and white. Whatever party we belong to, it is a physical financial fact that the C.D.C. are paying more for their money in 1952. I think that they are paying too much. This is a great concern which has to undertake marginal projects. Those of us on both sides of the Committee who looked with affection and much hope at C.D.C. 12 months ago and two years ago, regarded it as a capital super-contractor which would fill in the gaps and margins in those things which the local governments could not tackle, and which the captains of industry, who were once so intrepid in building up the Empire, would not even take a glance at today.
What is to be the future? When we look at the Report, we find that Lord Reith is shutting up shop in connection with three, four or more concerns. If the party opposite remain in power another year or two, there will be no C.D.C., so far as I can see. I hope that the Minister will take heed of these modest words of mine and will have another thought about this matter. I should like some of the members of the Board of C.D.C. to go and see what is happening. Only one of them, I believe, has had anything like an intimate contact with the Empire. That is Professor Arthur Lewis who, I gather, was born in St. Lucia, and who left there at the age of 10. Lord Reith himself has not been out to the Colonies since he took office. I should like to see some of the governing board going out to see what is happening in the field of this Empire of ours.
Lastly, Nigeria has a market for British goods. Mr. Nwapa has been 2434 here. He is the first Minister who has come here on behalf of this largest Colonial Territory that we have. He made a first-class impression. He has enhanced the prestige of his Government back in Lagos by his manner and his attitude towards us. He is as keen upon these ties within the Commonweath as any of us here, and so are his politicians behind him in Nigeria. I was lucky enough to go out there and see the activities of the Governor, Sir John Macpherson, who is perhaps the finest Governor we found anywhere in Africa.
Let us do something to help these people, but do not let us forget that Mr. Nwapa is a Nigerian and that he is looking after his own people. Do not let us forget, either that some of the poverty in this country has to be seen to be believed, because it is beyond the imagination of many people sitting in this Chamber. My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) spoke about similar conditions in Kenya, and we must remember that these African friends of ours are here to look after their own interests.
Nigeria has been asked to switch 15 per cent. of its imports away from non-sterling, non-dollar areas. They are perfectly happy to do this, if Lancashire can deliver the goods, but can she? On the West Coast, we find Japanese goods selling at 15 per cent. less than the cost of our goods, and their quality is not so bad as is sometimes made out. It is even as good as, and sometimes better than, the stuff we send out.
Some hon. Members in this Chamber have some old-fashioned ideas about the way in which the Colonial Office should require the colonial peoples to co-operate with us in this matter of buying and selling. The French do this, and, if we go to Senegal, the Cameroons or Togo-land, we find no Japanese goods admitted, because the French have always said that the metropolitan Power should pull into itself these outside territories. We do not hold these views, and I, for one, would not subscribe to them at all. We must deliver the goods and give the colonial peoples value for money, because they have played the game by us in the matter of sterling restraint over the last few years.
Let me now turn to a most congenial topic—that of beer. My hon. Friend the 2435 Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) is not sitting here beside me, so I can speak freely on this matter of beer. When we go out there, we enjoy enormously Amstel beer, but, apparently, we do not supply it to West Africa. May I refresh the memory of the right hon. Gentleman by saying that the town of Burton, over a century ago, found that the Russians of those days—long before the wicked Bolshevists—planted a tax upon the entry of Burton beer into what was then the Czar's empire. The Staffordshire men got to work and turned out a beer which could be exported to India. Nigeria spends something like £3,500,000 on beer. Why cannot our people here now produce a bottled lager which can be sent out to West Africa for the capture of that valuable market? Why not? We cannot send them stock fish as the Norwegians do, but we can send them beer, salt, commercial vehicles, and so on.
But ultimately we come back to Lancashire and textiles, because Mr. Nwapa has said that there is a market, for good quality, worth something like £30 million. Our commercial reputation rests upon supplying the Empire with good textiles. Lancashire has something to do in this matter. Can Lancashire do it? Not many people to whom I talk seem to think that Lancashire can, but I sincerely hope that the people of Lancashire will be able to do this. Nigeria has played the game in the past in the matter of sterling restraint, but neither Nigeria nor any other Colony can be expected to make sacrifices merely to subsidise Lancashire or any other part of these islands.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
I thought that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) made a point of first-class importance in the early part of his speech when he said that in a great deal of our education in the Colonies we have taught the people there that the thing to be is a lawyer and have forgotten to teach the importance and dignity of productive work at the works bench.
I should like to support the hon. Member and to urge upon the Government the real need to develop technical education in British Colonies as quickly as we possibly can. It is the work on the bench of the engineer, electrician and fitter 2436 which makes a definite contribution to the wealth of the world. We want new wealth in the Colonies which can be created only by hard work. If the people of the Colonies go in for engineering and similar work there, they will find far greater rewards than many of them find today in the legal profession. I thought that that point made by the hon. Member for Rugby was very good. I hope that it will be taken up by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State when he replies to the debate.
I was also interested in the point which the hon. Member for Rugby made about the Colonial Development Corporation. I do not want to follow him on that point at the moment, but I have a great deal of sympathy with what he said about interest rates. I believe that we ought to be able to do this development work without the Treasury asking for interest at all, for it is a national responsibility to develop these resources. We should not allow Treasury views on interest to stand in our way. On the other hand, in fairness I must point out to the hon. Member that the schemes of the Colonial Development Corporation which have flopped have not flopped because of interest rates but because they were bad schemes.
I want to give a litle comfort to the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan), who pleaded that we should not forget the West Indies. I do not want to forget the West Indies. I want to say something about them, too. I have a great deal of sympathy with much that the hon. Member told the Committee, though I do not agree with all that he said. I think he forgets that there have been tremendous changes economically and constitutionally in the West Indies since he was 18 years of age; and I do not think he has given credit to Governments and the Colonies for the work which has been done.
The hon. Member spoke of West Indian federation as if everyone wanted it except the House of Commons; but I understand that hon. Members on all sides of the Committee are anxious to advance that cause.
§ Mr. Robinson
The Secretary of State for the Colonies has tried very hard to convince some of the Colonies themselves 2437 of the need for federation. I can name important areas of the West Indies which have not agreed to come in.
§ Mr. Robinson
It is an important part of the West Indies, and, if one asks the people in Jamaica and Trinidad, one finds that they want a federation which will include British Guiana. We must consider the whole area. Federation must mean closer association. If we are to have federation we must do something to get the people closer together. In that respect I urge on my hon. Friend the necessity of developing communications in the West Indies. This is an island economy but it is not easy for the people to get from one island to another.
There are two ways available to them—to travel by sea or by air. I hope that my right hon. Friend will do everything possible to encourage the development of communication by air. There were in the West Indies a number of operators, but we now find that they have come under the auspices of B.O.A.C. I wonder whether the Colonial Office is watching that question carefully. We have heard of economies in the West Indies which are being effected by the B.O.A.C. in their desire to show an overall profit. I hope that the Minister of State will be able to say that this question of air communication is being closely studied and that the system will be developed. It is essential from the point of view of the overall economy of the West Indies.
I hope also that he will be able to say that we shall develop the airfields. I have a great desire to see the Comets running a dollar-earning service between New York and Nassau. Oakes Field is too small to accommodate such a service, but at the other end of the island during the war we had Windsor Field, which might well be used. I know that discussions are taking place now. I hope that they are successful.
But even more important for the West Indies is the development of sea communication. It is expensive to move about by air. The ordinary people of the West Indies cannot afford to go from island to island by aeroplane. They 2438 must have cheap transportation. It is important also for freight purposes. It is a matter of great interest that a large part in the development of these communications in the West Indies was played by Canada through the Canadian National Steamship Company's "Lady" boat service.
Before the war there were five of these "Lady" boats travelling from Canada to Bermuda, through the islands and finishing up in British Guiana. Now, following the war, there are only two. It was a matter of real concern to people all over the West Indies when the announcement was made that these services were to be cancelled on 1st October of this year. I understand that the cancellation arises because of the falling off of trade between the West Indies and Canada which has been caused largely by our need to restrict dollar imports from Canada, with the result that the steamship line is now running at an increasing loss and has decided to cancel the service.
This will affect the whole area. It is bad for the tourist trade from Bermuda right down to British Guiana. It will make it difficult for producers in the West Indies, because of fewer freight facilities, especially for the refrigerated trade. Above all, it will make it more difficult for the people to move about. Each one of these ships had deck space for 120 third-class passengers. That was one of the cheapest and effective ways of getting from island to island.
§ Dr. Morgan
Why not let us join forces to ask the Government to see whether they cannot give a subsidy to Canada to help her in any losses she incurs if she continues the scheme for another five years?
§ Mr. Robinson
I should be delighted to join forces with the hon. Gentleman to find a solution. Perhaps the real solution is to bring about an improvement in trade between Canada and the West Indies. We should liberalise this trade. For years there has been a great deal of mutual good will between Canada and the West Indies. We had expanding markets in both areas. It seems to me natural that a reciprocal trade between the two should flourish.
Canada has been a great market for West Indian sugar. It has taken almost all its requirements from there. But now, 2439 because Canada cannot get the trade it wants in the West Indies and has to develop other markets, the Canadian market is being opened to non-Commonwealth sugar. It is a big trade, and I hope the Government will consider liberalising the trade so that there is the work to make these shipping lines pay.
I understand that the Colonial Office are considering the matter and that consultations are now going on between the Colonial Office and the local governments in the West Indies in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport. I urge that this matter should not be overlooked, because it is of first-class importance to the general economy and well-being of the West Indies. I hope at the same time that we can develop still better services between the West Indies and this country, especially in the matter of refrigeration ships to bring fruit from the West Indies to this country. Here may be a first-class opportunity for the Colonial Development Corporation to make a really valuable contribution which would have its repercussions all the way round the islands and so improve the general economy.
Quite apart from transporting these articles, there is some fear with regard to competition from the United States. It is true to say that the United States is subsidising a large number of its exports of citrus products in competition with the West Indies. The West Indies do not like it, and I know a great many people there who would like our Government to invoke the terms of G.A.T.T. and ask the United States for a discussion on this matter, with a view to doing away with the subsidy. I hope that whatever happens the Americans will not feel so happy behind a subsidy that they will ask for still more, for that would be cutting their own throats by upsetting the West Indian economy and creating the necessity for financial aid. It seems to me that the most sensible way to approach this problem is to encourage a normal and natural trade.
I hope that in the development of the West Indies the Government will pay a great deal of attention to the need to improve the rice industry. I know that some steps are being taken in British Guiana, and I know, too, that for a long time negotiations have been going on between the Colonial Development Corporation and the local Government 2440 there with regard to the C.D.C.'s rice plans. Indeed, the Secretary of State for the Colonies mentioned it in answer to a Question of mine on 14th November last year. Negotiations have been going on, I believe, for over a year. Can we not try to do something to bring them to fruition, because while the talk is going on the needs of the people are growing every day?
I do not want to say much about the Colonial Development Corporation. I hope it works well. I believe it has a great and important function. It has a wide range of interests with 53 projects in hand at the present time. When I spoke of this last time, I said that I believed that the Colonial Development Corporation should be organised on a functional basis. A first-class agricultural man, supported by people who understand agriculture, can supervise the agricultural projects in different parts of the world. The Corporation should have advice on forestry from a forestry expert, on housing from a housing expert and so on, all the way through the great range of projects.
It seems to me that in the development of these plans today Lord Reith is tending more and more to develop them on a regional basis. He now has a number of regional controllers who, in any given area, may be responsible for agriculture, animal products, factories, fisheries, forestry, hotels, minerals, works and other services. What a wide range of things, and what a magnificent man of great power and ability there must be to be able to understand every one of these different problems. How in the world has Lord Reith found these wonderful people? I am sure that industry would have been willing to offer tremendous rewards to men who could handle this great range of subjects.
Surely that is the wrong way to do it. Let us have each function controlled by its own proper head. Do not let us lose control in the regions. Do not let us lose contact with the regions, but let the man who really understands it do the job. It is too much to ask any man to handle so many different projects of a kind that he cannot possibly understand. That may be a reason for the lack of success in some of these projects. If the work is done through a regional controller he has to have functional men under 2441 him and it seems to me that we are only building up our expense, because we are having to keep half a dozen development corporations, one in each area, under review. I do not think that is the best way to do it. Let us make the organisation a functional one.
I emphasise that it is important that we should not confuse colonial development and welfare with the Colonial Development Corporation. The Colonial Office should see that certain services are provided by the C.D.W. I think it is wrong for such essential services as roads, airstrips and communications to be charged up to any one of the individual projects of the Colonial Development Corporation.
The work of the Colonial Development Corporation will have my fullest support. I am a firm believer in the immense resources of the British Colonial Empire, and if we tackle these problems with courage and conviction, I think we shall play a great part in producing new wealth which can offer economic security to this country and can give to the people of the Colonies good wages and a really high standard of living.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I suppose that posterity will never know what it has lost by the fact that I have been given only three minutes in which to make my speech. I have to wait all this time for the chance to make one point. I want to refer to the Conservative Party pamphlet, "Britain strong and free." It has a section concerned with the Empire and the Commonwealth, which contains these words:New ways of informing public opinion at home and overseas must be sought. The story of the Empire should figure more prominently in the teaching in our schools. We want to see closer social and cultural contact between teachers, scientists, writers and students.Noble words. Let us just look and see what has happened as a result of the noble words contained in that manifesto—words which were used when the Tories were concerned only with deceiving the people and ensnaring them to vote Conservative.
Paragraph 582 of the Annual Report on the Colonial Territories—Command Paper 8553—reads:Colonial Service officers on leave or retirement joined with other speakers in a pro- 2442 gramme of over 3,000 lectures arranged by the Central Office of Information for the Colonial Office; they also took part in the imperial Institute's lecture service for schools. The former service is now to be discontinued for financial reasons.Command Paper 8578 deals with the Government's Information Services for 1952–53. This Government of the Empire; this Government which bases its policy on the leading articles in the "Daily Express"; these handmaidens or servants of Lord Beaverbrook, when given the chance to inform the people of this country about the Colonies and to inform the Colonies about the people of this country—having got their Parliamentary majority—cut down the estimate on Colonial Information Services from £55,000 last year to £27,000 this year.
The result is that this year no films can be made about the Colonies for showing in Britain. They have closed the Central Film Library, which means that even existing films will be given only a very restricted showing. There is to be no more money for new exhibitions or for showing to the people of this country examples of colonial products. That is the record of 10 months of a Conservative administration.
§ Mr. Braine
Of course I withdraw at once, but the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) was deliberately provocative in what has been an exceedingly pleasant debate until his intervention.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I am sure I am voicing the opinions of hon. Members on both sides of the Commitee in saying how sorry we are not to have had a further five, 10 or 15 minutes of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). No doubt both we and posterity have lost a great deal.
As the hon. Member from this side of the Committee to wind up the debate, I want to say what is always said on these occasions—that although there have been regrettably few people present, it has been a remarkably interesting debate and we have had contributions of very great value from both sides of the Committee. I want, in particular, to mention the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) and the speech delivered under very great difficulties by the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris). I did not agree with all the hon. Member for Croydon, North said, but I wish that if I were feeling as ill as he was I could still make as good a speech.
I will deal first, and briefly, with the political problems and then pass to the economic problems of the Colonies and deal with them at greater length. During the past few years there has been rapid political progress. Many Colonies have had new constitutions granted to them and have had an opportunity for the first time of beginning to run their own affairs. In particular, I would mention the Gold Coast, because that has been the most striking experiment of all, and it has been an outstanding success.
Frankly, I do not know whether the present Government would have introduced the Gold Coast constitution had they been in power at the time. I doubt very much whether they would, but, once it has been introduced, I am very glad that the Secretary of State has said he has no intention of changing it and, in fact, has gone a step further by making Mr. Nkrumah not only leader of Government business but Prime Minister in name as well as in fact. Mr. Nkrumah has shown a very remarkable sense of responsibility in his handling of the problems connected with cocoa disease. He has shown a much greater sense of responsibility than the Lord President of the Council here has shown in his handling of problems connected with other foodstuffs. I think 2444 the Lord President might well take a lesson from Mr. Nkrumah in this respect.
I would add only one caveat. The Secretary of State—and I am not sure of his exact words, although we shall see them tomorrow—said there should be no political freedom without racial agreement, or words to that effect, when speaking about Malaya. I would add this: they do not apply only to Malaya but also to East and Central Africa, and I hope that he will remember them when questions connected with these countries are under review.
The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech about Malaya, made, I thought, some very remarkable statements. His speech, if I may sum it up briefly, was on the same lines as that of a famous Roman general and Emperor many years ago who said, "Veni, vidi, vici." He went to Malaya, he found things quite appalling, he looked at Malaya, he spent 10 days there—maybe it was less—he came back and everything has gone all right since. I would certainly congratulate him on a very remarkable achievement, but I think he exaggerated some of the problems that were there before and equally exaggerated some of the achievements that have been accomplished since his visit.
I would turn to the economic problems. The Secretary of State said that much might be done now that could not be done because of lack of capital and of materials. How right he is. But what a tragedy it is that those things were not done when both capital and materials were available in the years before the wars.
At the risk of being accused of making what, I think, he called a "parrot cry," I would say—and I think it cannot be too often repeated—that the years before the wars showed a grievous neglect of the Colonies. Let us take the expenditure made from this country. There was, indeed, a Colonial Development and Welfare Bill—I think in the late 'twenties or early 'thirties—but what did it allow? It allowed an expenditure of about £1 million a year, and that was all that was given. What a difference today.
I would make one exception in criticising previous Conservative Colonial Secretaries. I think all of us do agree that very great work was done by the late Mr. Oliver Stanley—very great work 2445 indeed. But in what conditions did he do that work? Not as a Member of a purely Conservative Government, for the greater amount of his work was done in a Coalition Government when he had the backing of my right hon. Friends at every turn for the improvements that he made.
Today, instead of just an odd million or two being spent, no less than £250 million has been committed to Colonial Development and Welfare and the Colonial Development Corporation—£250 million at a time when this country is very hard pressed for finance. I think it is a great achievement—an achievement which shows that we have faith in our Colonial Empire.
The Secretary of State referred at some length to the Colonial Development Corporation. One of the remarks that he made was, I understand, that it was not the role of the Colonial Development Corporation to risk the taxpayers' money where private enterprise is willing to take the risk. That is all very well at first glance. But what does it amount to in fact? What it is apt to mean is that where private enterprise thinks there are some good pieces of business the Colonial Development Corporation will not step in. In other words, it will only go in when private enterprise thinks the business is not good enough. How is the Corporation possibly to make a profit in those circumstances? How can it begin to make a profit if it is to deal only with marginal cases—with the leftovers of private enterprise?
The right hon. Gentleman said in connection with the Colonial Development Corporation that what matters in cases such as the Gambia poultry scheme is not the loss of money but the loss of confidence. Who is responsible for that loss of confidence when day in and day out the party opposite spent their time running down the Colonial Development Corporation? Its difficulties were enough—heaven knows they were enough—without it being constantly attacked by the Opposition of that day, many of whom—this does not apply, of course, to the right hon. Gentleman—appeared to want it to fail.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that there are to be many changes made. Very many changes; but the four that he gave are all changes that were in process of 2446 being made when the present Government came in. They are nothing to do with this Government. If they are due to any one factor they must be due to the change in the chairmanship of the Board rather than to a change of Government.
He said it was proposed that there should be greater regional devolution, but that was already started before this Government came in. I think everybody in the Committee is in favour of it. I will go further. There should be not only regional devolution but functional devolution. I would go still further. It might be worth while considering whether there should not be two separate corporations, one to look after agriculture and the other after industry, mining and any other work that there was. The present Colonial Development Corporation is covering too wide a field, and it would be for the benefit of the Corporation and of the Colonies if its work were divided functionally as I have suggested.
The right hon. Gentleman said, and I agree with every word, that whatever the Colonial Development Corporation may do, or any other large enterprise whether Government or private, the basis of Colonial wealth today is peasant agriculture. Agriculture in the Colonies, whatever it may be in this country, is certainly not feather-bedded; very far from it. Imagine a farmer without adequate buildings, without fertilisers, without even a plough. Some farmers have scarcely got a scythe. Such conditions of farming are appallingly difficult. Imagine, above all, a position in which the farmers not only have not the implements but have not the knowledge of how to farm. That is the most serious aspect of the whole question.
I would therefore echo what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the immense importance of getting enough agricultural instructors, and I would add instructors in the co-operative movement who will show farmers how to co-operate to buy what they need and to sell their produce. If a sufficient number of these officers go out they will perform service of as great a value as any that could be performed by an Englishman today.
I would add a brief word on Kenya. The hon. Member for Croydon, North said that the highlands occupied only 5 per cent. of the land of Kenya. Of course, that is true, but they occupy a great deal more than 5 per cent. of the cultivable 2447 land of Kenya, and that is the great thing. Until I went to that country I did not realise how much land in Kenya was incapable of any cultivation at all, how much of it was virtually desolate. I think I am not far wrong in saying that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the whole country is practically desert. What we are dealing with is the remaining one-third or one-quarter of the country.
I agree that the settlers who have come to Kenya have done fine work. They have developed the land with great toil and often with great success. They have made their homes there and they have a right to some protection. But have they the right to the exclusive use of this land for ever without another African coming and having another farm upon it? In view of the fact that there are surrounding the highlands large numbers of people crowded into comparatively small spaces, each with a very small acreage, we think that the Africans have a right to be able to come in and use that land in the highlands if—and only if—agreement can be reached. That is what we say in our Motion. We think it is in the interests not only of the Africans but of the Europeans as well to reach that agreement. Only if it is reached can we get a satisfactory settlement, not alone of economic and agricultural conditions, but of political conditions in Kenya.
§ Mr. F. Harris
If the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for interrupting, he may recall that there are some million Africans living on the White Highlands, many of whom have their two acres apiece on the farms and who are living there under quite happy conditions.
§ Mr. Dugdale
But I still say that however many there are, there is room for more, and I hope that some solution can be found by which those for whom there is room can go there.
Now I pass to another subject. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had made an inquiry into the list of goods in short supply in this country which might be produced by the Colonies. I am glad he has made that inquiry, but I hasten to assure the Committee that 2448 the facts were known in the Colonial Office before and that we knew only too well the amount of goods that could be produced and the need there was to produce more. I think all of us will agree that anything we can do to prevent our being dependent upon the United States of America, as we are today, will be healthy not only for us but for the United States as well. If we can produce within our Colonial Empire many of the goods which today we have to import from the dollar area, it will be one of the greatest services that the Empire could render.
Referring to that list, one of the products where we have the greatest hope of being able to increase production, which in fact has been increased lately, is Nigerian cotton. I say Nigerian specifically because Nigeria alone within the Colonial Empire is able to produce a large quantity of cotton of American type. Before the war exports amounted to approximately 30,000 bales. After the war, in 1945, they dropped right down to 15,000. They went up in 1950 to 75,000, and it was estimated that in 1951 there might be exports in the neighbourhood of 100,000 bales. That would be something like one-tenth of the requirements of Lancashire for American cotton—quite a considerable contribution to a difficult problem. I hope that when the Minister replies he will be able to tell us whether the progress expected in Nigeria has come up to expectations.
Another venture which was started before this Government came in and which it is pursuing is the Volta River project. This project, if carried to a satisfactory conclusion, should result in the production of something like 200,000 tons of aluminium each year. It would be an enormous contribution to our dollar problem if 200,000 tons of aluminium could be produced in one of our Colonies.
Another development, which is not exactly a direct dollar saver or dollar earner, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, is the possibility of producing large quantities of coal in Southern Tanganyika. I quite agree with him that it would be folly to expect too much before we are certain that the coal can be produced, but if it is in fact produced, it may well be of considerable assistance to the Northern Rhodesian copper industry, which is constantly held up by a 2449 shortage of coal. An increase in our supplies of copper would be of immense importance, not only to our dollar problem, but to our general economic stability.
One of the things to which we must pay the utmost attention is ensuring that the Colonies get all the imports that they need. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby referred to West Africa and to its need to increase imports. There would today be serious inflationary pressure in West Africa were it not for the fact that large sums of money that are earned from cocoa, groundnuts and other products are held in the West African countries by the boards that are responsible for the sale of these products, instead of being distributed throughout those countries. If they were so distributed, we should find that West Africa was exceedingly short of the products that it needs—products which it would be buying from us if only we were able to sell to them. These products include, for instance, household goods, bicycles and, above all, cotton goods.
I hope that Lancashire will take the trouble to see whether she cannot find markets in West Africa. Last year we begged her to send cotton goods to West Africa, but she would not do so as at that time there were other markets. But now, Lancashire is in difficulty, and I beg of her to send people to West Africa and to do everything she can to see whether she cannot there replace some of the markets she has lost in Australia and elsewhere.
If we are to have greater wealth in the Colonies, we must see that it is adequately distributed. During the past five years, there has been a very big development of social services; they have developed out of all recognition. Before the war, there was in many Colonies poverty, illiteracy and disease. There is still poverty. There is still not enough literacy, and there is still disease, but we have made very great progress in the conquering of all three.
Take education alone. Before the war, scarcely 10 per cent. of the children in most Colonies had even an elementary education—that applied certainly to all the African Colonies. Today, the figure may be something like 25 per cent. That is a great improvement, but it is not enough. I ask the Minister, when he 2450 replies, to say whether he has had a report from the Education Mission which went to Africa to discover what can be done to forward African education. I hope that we shall not have a Butler axe on African children as we have had on the children of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "We have not."] Certainly we have. We have a rival in educational development in the Colonies, which we have to face—
§ Squadron Leader A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
The right hon. Member must not be allowed to get away with his reference to the Butler axe. We are spending more money on education in this country than ever before in our history.
§ The Chairman
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not start a debate on English education, which would be quite out of order.
§ Mr. Dugdale
No, I will not start a debate on English education; I was making a very brief comparison and expressing the hope that we should have certain conditions in our Colonies. We have a remarkable example before us today. In one Colony, in the Gold Coast, we have a Government which is running its own educational service, a Government which is determined to build up education as it has never been built up before. I hope that we shall watch what they are doing in the Gold Coast and see that we are not behindhand in our development of education in those countries which are not yet free.
In conclusion, I ask why it is that we want a better distribution of wealth, why it is we want better social services and a better educational system? Some people may answer that it is in order to prevent Communism. That undoubtedly is one answer. Undoubtedly there is less chance of getting Communism in countries which have a good system of social services, a good system of education and in which there is no malnutrition. Obviously there is a better chance of preventing Communism then. I wish people had thought of that before the war in Malaya. If they had thought of that the situation in Malaya might not have been as bad and difficult as it is today.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I must intervene for one moment. I had a great connection with Malaya before the war, and I think that on the whole it was the happiest country I have ever seen—and the best administered.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I only ask whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that they had before the war a system of social services of which they might be proud. If that is his idea of a system of social services of which he would be proud, it is not the idea of hon. Members on this side of the Committee.
I have said that one of the objects is to prevent Communism, but I hope it is not the only object. I hope we also want better conditions in the Colonies because we believe that we have a duty, and not only a duty but a great opportunity which has never been given to any nation before, of raising the standard of living of millions of the poorest people on earth whose fathers and grandfathers have lived in a state of misery and degradation which it is difficult for us to imagine.
Today it is in our power to bring them the benefits of modern science. But do not let us bring as well the misery that Britain endured in its early industrial age. Do not let us bring the misery of low wages and long hours in slum factories. Let us bring them instead all that is best in our civilisation. The opportunity we have today is great. Let us do this for them and let us not only do it for them, let us do it for ourselves as well. Let us never forget that without a generous and dynamic Imperial policy this nation cannot hope to survive.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)
We have had a debate today covering an unusually wide field even for a colonial affairs debate. A number of very helpful and informative speeches have been made from both sides of the Committee. I think that once again it has been shown that, possibly with very rare exceptions, the goal of all hon. Members in regard to the political development of our Colonies is identical. We may sometimes disagree as to methods and tempo, varying perhaps from one territory to another, but the aim remains the same—self-government within the Commonwealth.
2452 I think that within the economic field also it is clear that, in the interests of the inhabitants of our Colonies as well as those of this country—and sometimes people forget about the interests of this country in discussing these matters—colonial development is a thing which cannot wait. As my right hon. Friend said today, there are certain difficulties in the short-term and certain difficulties in the long-term, but it is something with which we have to press on.
A number of points were raised during the debate which I should like to try to answer. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) dealt mainly with Malaya, and he asked a number of questions. He is not in his place now, but I should like to deal with one of his questions concerning the grant of land titles, which I think is of general interest to the Committee. The position is that all the States and settlements have agreed to the principle of giving re-settled squatters long-term titles to the land they occupy. The process is necessarily a very lengthy one, but I understand that already some progress has been made. For instance, a few titles have been granted in the States of Penang, Kelantan and Perlis. Although I cannot give complete figures on the matter at the moment, the Federation Government hope to publish a statement on this subject in the near future, giving the position in the States and settlements.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) raised a number of interesting points, including the question of shortage of capital for rubber and tea plantations. He went on to deal with the question of taxation, and asked whether it was not possible for some British taxes to be remitted in regard to companies operating in Colonial Territories. I think that the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) also raised that point.
This is a matter which has been exercising the attention of my right hon. Friend for some time. As hon. Members probably know, there have been a number of double taxation agreements which have done something to help in this matter of taxation of companies operating overseas. At the same time, they have thrown into relief the fact that, whatever a company earns, the full amount of the tax will be taken either in 2453 the Colonial Territory or in this country. There are great difficulties in the way of doing anything to remit taxation for British companies operating in Colonial Territories.
I should like to draw the Committee's attention to the fact that the United Kingdom taxation only operates in the case of companies controlled in this country. If companies engaged in colonial enterprise care to set up locally-controlled subsidiaries for the purpose of conducting their colonial business, the United Kingdom tax will apply only in the case of profits distributed to shareholders in this country. In that matter the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given specific assurances that he has no intention whatever of allowing any section of previous legislation to impede this particular development.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Yes. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) spoke in moving terms about the West Indies. He was born in Grenada, and one can well understand his interest in those Colonies. I can assure him that the interest of the West Indies is certainly not forgotten. One of my colleagues has been touring those islands quite recently, and they are very much in our minds at all times. I myself have a particular interest in them, as my forebears for many generations lived in the West Indies.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lang-stone (Mr. Stevens) made a very helpful speech, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris), in spite of indisposition. I should like to join with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in congratulating the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Johnson) on his very helpful intervention, and I should like to say that certainly we appreciate the need for less academic forms of education in Africa. The difficulty there is that the Africans themselves, as on other matters on which sometimes African opinion is too conservative, are very difficult to convince that what is not going to bring the best results in life is some form of academic education, as opposed to the more practical form, which we think would be far more helpful to them.
2454 I should like to say what a pleasure it was to receive Mr. Nwapa, who had a most successful visit. As a result, Manchester knows a good deal more now of what Nigeria wants than was the case before.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. R. Robinson) referred to the need for more technical education, with which I have already dealt, and devoted most of his remarks mainly to the West Indies, and, in particular, to the matter of communications in the West Indies.
I think we all share his regret at the withdrawal of the "Lady" boats, which some of us knew in the days before the war and in the early days of 1926, but the fact remains that, when these five boats were originally introduced, they lost money at the time. It was thought by the Canadian Government that they would lose money, but afterwards they earned money, and now they are losing it again. We regret the decision to withdraw them, and we are, in fact, considering means of replacing them.
Now I come to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who was one of my predecessors in office, and who raised a number of important points. He asked about cotton production in Nigeria, and the figures he gave are quite correct. The number of bales rose in 1951–52 to 110,000, and, although we have not yet been able to estimate what production is likely to be in 1952–53, we hope there will be a still further expansion. I doubt whether at any time we could expect Nigeria to supply more than a certain rather small percentage of our requirements in American cotton in this country.
For the moment, communications and transport, particularly, are holding things up, but, even when these are improved, as I hope they will be as a result of the steps to which my right hon. Friend referred this afternoon, there will still be difficulties in increasing the amount of cotton grown in Nigeria to any very great extent. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, the cotton production of East Africa is far larger at the moment in some types of cotton, and has gone up by 415,000 bales in the 1951–52 season.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the Volta scheme, with its tremendous potentialities. He quoted a figure of 2455 210,000 tons of aluminium as being the ultimate aim, which is perfectly correct. It is a vast scheme. The reservoir above the dam alone is expected to cover no less than 2,000 square miles of territory, with all that that involves. It will be the biggest artificial lake in the world. It will flood a certain number of existing roads, of course, but at the same time it will open water communications up country, which will be extremely valuable and will provide irrigation for 500,000 acres of land lying in the neighbourhood of the reservoir.
This scheme, as has been reported in the Press and announced in the House of Commons, has been the subject of discussion both in London and Accra recently. Although no decision has been arrived at so far and neither of the parties concerned has committed itself definitely, the matter is being pursued very actively. There are parties out in the Gold Coast surveying the area in question and the right hon. Gentleman can rest assured that the Government will do their best to see that the scheme goes through.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to coalfields in Tanganyika. The recent progress of this scheme has been entirely satisfactory. Investigations are expected to be completed in the case of two out of the three fields this year. There has been a considerable increase in the proved tonnage of coal, most of it of high quality; but I cannot confirm the figure which the right hon. Gentleman quoted. The stage has been reached when serious consideration can be given to the actual exploitation of the coal.
A preliminary market survey was made at the beginning of the year. Samples of the coal are undergoing test and steaming trials on the railways, and the Corporation are exploring the possibility of developing coal in association with private enterprise in these fields. It must be remembered that the satisfactory development of these fields will depend on the construction of a railway. That, again, is being gone into, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite are no doubt aware, in connection with the joining up of the railway from Northern Rhodesia to Tanganyika.
The right hon. Gentleman asked whether I could tell him what has happened about the two groups who went 2456 over to undertake the study of African education in West and East Africa especially. Their reports have been received and are now under consideration in this country by the Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies, which considered them the other day. They will form the background of a conference on African education which will be held in Cambridge in September under the chairmanship of Sir Philip Morris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol. This will afford an opportunity for a very wide discussion of all aspects of African education. Members of the Colonial Office will be present, and also members of the Advisory Committee, whom the right hon. Gentleman knows, will be able to add their contributions to the discussion.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I cannot say offhand. I shall have to make inquiries about that. Certainly the discussions of the conference will be public, as far as I know. We are very greatly indebted to the Nuffield Foundation for their help in sponsoring the visits of these two study groups. The reports have been given only a limited distribution so far, but we will consider the question of publication which the right hon. Gentleman has raised.
I should like now to return to the question of land settlement in Kenya.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Before the right hon. Gentleman proceeds, may I ask one question? The Secretary of State promised an inquiry into the land problem in Kenya. Is the right hon. Gentleman who is now addressing the Committee in a position to make any announcement as to the terms of reference of the inquiry, the personnel and when it will be set up?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend has said. I shall be dealing with the question of land settlement in Kenya which forms the subject of the Motion on the Order Paper and the Amendment put down by my hon. Friends. It may be convenient if I try to outline the reasons which led my right hon. Friend to the view, which announced this afternoon, that there should be a sort of amalgam between the Motion on the Order Paper and the Amendment.
2457 As I understand it, the main aim of the Motion is that a policy of land utilisation should be carried out in Kenya which would ensure the full development of the resources of the Colony, and at the same time secure a higher standard of living for the Africans by a transition from a tribal form of agriculture to modern methods. On that point I think we all agree. It is, in fact, precisely the policy which is being Carried out in Kenya. The basic problem of adapting a system of African agriculture to the needs of a rapidly growing population is one to which the East African Governments have been addressing themselves for some years.
As my right hon. Friend said, it involves not only expense and investment but a radical change of outlook among the African farmers themselves. In recent years the Kenya Government have shown that, if the money can be found, the objective is not impossible of achievement. Funds have been provided by the Development and Reconstruction authority amounting to some £3 million for the period from 1945 to 1955, and further substantial sums have been contributed by African farmers themselves. Good progress has been made. Many Africans are already changing from a purely primitive subsistence cultivation to more balanced systems of mixed farming.
There is one difficulty in regard to cattle which has been mentioned in earlier speeches. The idea of cattle as an integral part of farming is entirely revolutionary to the African mind. That is something which has had to be overcome. It is, in fact, this problem of changing the African outlook and methods which presents the greatest difficulty in the realm of agriculture in Kenya. But in the opinion of the Kenya Government, it can best be solved in the ways to which I have referred rather than in any general re-settlement scheme which must fail if those re-settled persist in their old methods.
I propose to try to show later why, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the problem could not be solved by handing over the so-called White Highlands in whole or in part for African settlement, which appears to be involved in the Opposition Motion. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] By agreement, at any rate.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
There is no suggestion in our Motion that we should hand over the White Highlands to Africans. We suggest that some of the unused land might be used with safeguards.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
My hon. Friends, when they put down their Amendment concluded that the intention of the Motion was that part of the White Highlands should be handed over to the Africans.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Before I get on to the main question, I should like to say a few words about the question of the development of the producers' co-operatives to which reference has been made by several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), and also to the question of agricultural credit, which is referred to in the Motion.
As regards the former, the position is that the co-operative movement among Africans in Kenya has reached a stage where a halt had to be called to further expansion for the time being in the number of societies registered. The reason was to enable the lessons learned in the last few years to be applied. What has happened is that a large number of the smaller societies which were registered between 1947 and 1949 have proved incapable of managing their own affairs and they have had to be wound up.
I have not got the time tonight to go into all the details of that, but the fact is that for various reasons they have not worked, and consequently during the past year the main effort of the department in the Kenya Government dealing with the co-operative movement has been to try to concentrate on improving the quality of the existing societies while winding up those which have proved to be failures. The process has not yet been finished, but until it has no new enterprises are to be encouraged. Once that is achieved, however, the way will be open to concentrate on the areas where conditions provide the best hopes of success in increasing the number of cooperative societies.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I take it that that does not mean there will be any diminution in the number of co-operative officers? I take it that more will continue to be sent out as required?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
There is no indication of that at all. For the time being they have got to concentrate on improving the existing societies rather than on starting any more.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
The right hon. Gentleman recently sent me an extremely interesting report by the Registrar of the Co-operative Societies. Can he say whether it will be published, as it is of general interest?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I will certainly inquire into that. As to agricultural credit, it has not so far been possible to make available any large sums of money for this purpose owing to difficulties of giving private security by Africans for loans. Under the general system of land tenure Africans do not have individual rights of ownership in their land which they can pledge as security for loans, but a start has been made now by providing £10,000 for the purpose of loans for improvements, purchase of land, livestock and equipment and the establishment of co-operative societies. This sum has been supplemented by a further sum of £10,000 from African district councils.
We hope that this will be the beginning which will lead to further development with regard to the giving of agricultural credit. Certainly the Government of Kenya are fully aware of the importance of this matter, but they are feeling their way and are trying to cope with the practical difficulties as they meet them, in the hope of establishing agricultural credit on a firm and sound business foundation.
I now come to the more controversial part of the Opposition Motion whichurges Her Majesty's Government to seek agreement in Kenya for a policy which will permit Africans, and in particular African cooperatives, to own lands in the highlands and which will enable the Government of Kenya to acquire, as part of a general policy of agricultural development, unused land in that area for African use…That is a policy which I undertsood the right hon. Member for Llannelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) to say had been approved by the Executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
It was this sentence which provoked my hon. Friends into putting down their Amendment in which they rightly stressed not only the valuable work of the European farmers but the undertakings given to European settlers by successive British 2460 Governments in regard to European settlement in the highlands. In the first place, I would observe that there is a great deal of misconception about the size of the area which is reserved for European occupation and of the nature of the land, which is contrasted with that inhabited by the Africans.
The area of the European highlands is about 16,700 square miles, of which 4,000 square miles are forest. As compared with the figure of 12,000 square miles, the area in African occupation is 52,000 square miles. There is a further 150,000 square miles in the Northern Province occupied by 178,000 Africans with over one million sheep and about 400,000 head of cattle. There seems to be a popular idea that the White Highlands are healthy, beautiful, rich and fertile, while the land occupied by the Africans is all poor and low-lying, insalubrious and lacking in water. Nothing could be further from the truth.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
It is the implication which is generally given when people talk about the highlands of Kenya.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that some parts of the highlands have a rainfall of less than 20 inches and can graze only one beast on 20 acres? To say that it is all rich land is just nonsense.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Of course, there is land which answers the description I have given of the African Territories but at the same time I think that those hon. Gentlemen who know Kenya will admit that there is no land more beautiful, healthy or fertile than the areas round Meru, Embu and the Kikuyu districts lying along the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. It is true that there is a small area of the European highlands—some 208,000 acres—which remains unallocated.
Here I am afraid that I must take issue with the hon. Member for Eton and Slough who said that 141,000 acres were fit for farming. The fact is that they are not. They are fit only for certain types of grazing, and very poor grazing at that. Only 7,500 acres remain fit for arable land. The remainder is either useless or has been selected for public purposes.
2461 I do not understand from the recent article in the Fabian journal which was quoted this afternoon—or from the Motion—that hon. Gentlemen opposite would contemplate demanding the repeal of the Crown Lands Ordinance and the handing over of the highlands to the Africans. I assume—and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly has confirmed it—that they had in mind the allocation or use by the Africans, by agreement, of some of the land which has not so far been allocated.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Perhaps I may explain the position in one or two sentences. The problem is this: Here are the White Highlands. Around them are Africans on land which is daily becoming more over-crowded. That is the problem. We are making a constructive suggestion towards a solution by agreement.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
My right hon. Friend has made it quite clear that he is in touch with the two Governments on this point and he hopes to make a statement in the near future.
In conclusion, I wish to make a short statement which my right hon. Friend wanted to make in the course of his speech this afternoon. It is that the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds have given invaluable help to the Colonies during the past six years. Nearly the whole £140 million has now been allocated but much remains unspent. The rate of expenditure necessarily varies from one Territory to another. It is thus impossible at this stage to say what the position would be when the currency of the present Colonial Development and Welfare Acts of 1945 and 1950 come to an end in four years' time.
My right hon. Friend hoped that hon. Members would not expect him to say anything in detail about what would happen then, but he wished to assure the Committee that Her Majesty's Government recognise that the need which gave rise to colonial development and welfare arrangements will still exist after 1956, and they will, in good time consider in the light of past experience how the continuing need can best be met.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again"—[Mr. Kaberry]—put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow