§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I beg to move (under Standing Order No. 9), "That this House do now adjourn."
I move this Motion in order that the House may consider the action taken by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in deposing Seretse Khama as chief of the Bamangwato tribe. In my view, the statement made this afternoon by the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will have very severe repercussions in Africa, but, at any rate, there will be one thing to mitigate the effect of that statement. It is that the House of Commons, in the middle of debating one of the most controversial Bills of the Session, has found time to debate the problems of the Bamangwato tribe.
It cannot pass without notice that when we are engaged in very bitter political disputes about domestic matters, we should find time to debate this question. It is also significant that this British Parliament, which is responsible for many millions of Africans in Africa, should regard an issue affecting the Africans as being an issue of definite public importance. Tonight, in Serowe, the feeling must be not dissimilar from the feeling that there was in December, 1936, at the abdication of King Edward VIII, and it is appropriate that we should discuss it.
The statement made in the House this afternoon by the hon. and learned Gentleman on behalf of his noble Friend was the final chapter of a very long story, extending back two and a half years. If one looks at that story from the time when Tshekedi Khama was the Regent of the Bamangwato tribe, through to the time when Seretse Khama returned from England to become Chief, one can see a great variety of reasons for excluding either Seretse or Tshekedi.
In the first place, we were told that the presence of Seretse Khama in the 897 tribe would create trouble, that the tribe was very likely to suffer from disputes about the dynasty, and that it would be better if there was a period of rest and quiet. So, after an official inquiry, both Seretse and Tshekedi were excluded from the Reserve.
At that time, the last Government made a very bold move in trying to establish, in what was primarily a tribal community, a system of native councils. Those councils were to be operated under direct rule. Then, last year, there was pressure to return Tshekedi to the Reserve, and the present Government decided not very long ago that he should be allowed back as a private person.
Now, we are faced with the position that even the hon. and learned Gentleman himself is prepared to admit that Seretse Khama is very popular in the Bamangwato tribe and that he is not being excluded on the grounds that he is unpopular. He is being excluded for some other reasons, for reasons of high policy.
We know from the evidence of the observers who came back from Bechuanaland last year that the question of Tshekedi had to be considered in the same terms as the question of Seretse, and in the last reference to it in Mr. Lipson's report, speaking about the question of Tshekedi, these words appear:The chief fear of very many of those who were opposed to Tshekedi's return would probably be removed had Seretse also been allowed to return.I am not in dispute with the hon. and learned Gentleman or with the Government on this point, because in the statement this afternoon we are told that even though Seretse is popular, he is not allowed to go back.
Now, we are told that the tribe needs a chief. We are told that it is impossible to leave the position as it is at present and that there must be someone to guide the destinies of the Bamangwato. But Seretse himself has been excluded. One of the first questions I want to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman is, Why the hurry? What is the reason for making this statement at this time? Seretse Khama himself was only summoned four days ago to be told this decision. Last Sunday, he knew nothing whatsoever about the Government's intention. Four 898 days have elapsed from the first interview with Seretse Khama on this matter before the final banishment takes place.
Why the hurry? We have just had a change of Secretaries of State for Commonwealth Relations. Lord Ismay, who occupied the post, must have turned his attention to the question of the Bamangwato. Now, Lord Ismay has left that post to go to defend the liberties of the free world. Is he responsible for this policy, or is the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Lord Salisbury?
In the debate on Tshekedi Khama last summer in another place, there was a reference by the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to the whole question of the treatment of individuals, and among his remarks he had this to say:In the past, an individual, unless he had committed an offence, was not only secure against the deprivation of his civil rights and liberties, but he was entitled to the protection of the law. Now it seems, in Bechuanaland at any rate, that that is no longer true. If he is inconvenient to the powers that be, if he is unpopular, as is alleged in this case, or equally, if he is too popular in another case, he can be proceeded against by administrative order, though he may have done nothing wrong at all … That is a doctrine"—said the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—we are very familiar with in countries east of the Iron Curtain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 27th June, 1951; Vol. 172, c. 390–1.]Why the hurry? It is known that a delegation from Bechuanaland was to visit this country next week and that that delegation was to make representations to the hon. and learned Gentleman's noble Friend about the future of Seretse Khama. In fact, the hon. and learned Gentleman himself has admitted that passports were already issued. But not only was it announced publicly that this delegation would not be received by the Secretary of State; this decision was announced so as to forestall their arrival. We are entitled in the House to answers to these questions.
What I am concerned with for the moment is the statement made in the House this afternoon by the hon. and learned Gentleman. It was a very clever statement in that it suggested throughout that the present Government were simply following the lead given by their predecessors and by the previous Secretary 899 of State. If one examines it carefully, however, one can see that there has been a very considerable change of policy with regard to Seretse Khama.
First, the previous Secretary of State made it quite clear at the start that the tribe did not really want Seretse Khama. There is no doubt that at the time Seretse went back to become chief of the tribe, there was some confusion there in that he had married without their consent. That was true; that was one of the reasons given by the last Government for their policy. But now, the situation is totally different. Now, the Bamangwato tribe have rallied to their Chief and to his wife and to their child. That reason, therefore, holds good no longer.
Second, we are told that the present Government are following the policy of their predecessors. What about the question of the native councils? The previous Government believed that there was a possibility of introducing the beginnings, at any rate, of self-government in the Bamangwato. Now, however, we are told by the present Government that all that is to go and that there is to be a reversion to the arrangement by which there was a chief.
I see some sense in the policy of establishing native councils. Seretse himself made a statement at one stage in which he said that he would be quite prepared to renounce the chieftainship if he could serve his tribe in a new and more democratic set-up. It is along those lines that one might have expected some sort of an answer to be found. But contrary to that, the present Government have completely cut across the policy that was designed and organised by the previous Government.
Finally, one may reasonably ask why Jamaica was chosen as the place in which Seretse Khama's services might be of some use. We were told in the statement by the hon. and learned Gentleman this afternoon that Seretse at one time demonstrated his total incapacity for any office. We were told in the White Paper of March, 1950, that he demonstrated that "he was unmindful … of his public duty," and now, we are told that the Government hope that he will have a successful career in Jamaica.
Why is he not going back to serve the people of Africa in Africa? The 900 hon. and learned Gentleman knows the reason very well. He knows that if Seretse Khama set foot in Africa again, he would be hailed by the Africans as a national hero; and that is why there was the suggestion that he should be transferred to some other part of the world.
The truth is that all these debates we have had on the future of the Bamangwato tribe have had an air of unreality about them. We have been told we were discussing the question of mixed marriages; we have been told we were discussing the question of the arrangement of the tribe and its internal affairs and there is, of course, truth in all that. But at the same time, behind the whole thing lies the crisis in the Union of South Africa. Any consideration whatsoever of this matter which does not allude to South Africa is an unreal consideration and I very much hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will refer to this when he speaks.
First, we have the position of the High Commissioner in South Africa, a totally impossible position. He is responsible as the Supreme Commander for the Protectorates—that is part of his job—and he is at the same time our Ambassador to the present South African Government. It is an impossible position to put any man in and that is one reason why the influences of South Africa and South African politics are so strongly felt in the Bamangwato Reserve.
We know that the present South African Government feel very strongly about the question of the future of Protectorates and about mixed marriages. Dr. Malan, the Prime Minister, has made it clear time and time again that it is his intention, if possible, to bring the Protectorates back or bring them into the Union of South Africa, and after Seretse Khama married Ruth—after, mark you—it was made an offence in South Africa for a black man to marry a white woman, or vice versa. Those two issues, which are burning issues in South Africa, are bound to influence the position of the Government.
It is not as if we had any particular fetish ourselves about mixed marriages. To the best of my knowledge, it is no offence and is not looked down upon particularly in any other part of the Commonwealth for there to be a mixed 901 marriage. Certainly one of the big problems which South Africans face in South Africa is that there is a large section of the population which is the result of mixed marriages, although the marriages were not quite so evident in these cases as the fact that they were mixed.
That is the problem which faces them in Africa, and although I can see that the Government might make a case and say that in the delicate situation in which we find ourselves we have to consider South African opinion, in my view we have to look at the wider picture. Unless we look at the problem of the Bamangwato tribe and of Seretse Khama against the background of the whole of Africa and in the wider picture of the world as a whole, we are not going to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of this problem. Africa is facing this. It is either going the way of Apartheid, which we must remember Malan is trying to enforce in South Africa, or it is going the way which the last Government pointed, with I think the agreement of all sides of the House, that Africa should go towards native co-operation.
What effect is the decision announced today going to have on Prime Minister Nkruma in the Gold Coast? What is he going to think about it and of the intentions of a Government which bring it into effect? What effect will it have in Nigeria, in Tanganyika and as far north as the Sudan? What effect will it have on the African delegates coming to London next month to discuss the question of Central African federation? All these things to be considered by the Government if they are to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of this problem. I say to the Government quite frankly that they are playing the Russians' game; this is one of the ways in which we can convert people to a completely cynical view of the intentions of the Western world.
The truth is that the Tory Party have never understood the meaning of the new Commonwealth. It was Tory policy which lost us the American Colonies in 1776. It was Tory policy which could very easily have lost us India in the period after the war. We are seeing now Tory policy applied in this instance. The fact is that in Seretse and Ruth is the focus of the whole problem of Africa in two people. It is not an exaggeration to say 902 that a decision of this kind is going to affect far more things than whether the Bamangwato tribe themselves enjoy a satisfactory and effective development of their own life.
I say that this decision was unjust and unwise, and if it is the precedent for what we can expect from the present Government in their policy abroad, then the sooner they get out the better. If tonight this Government were to resign, it would be as welcome in Africa as it would be in this country.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I beg to second the Motion.
I should first like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) on his speech in opening this debate. By that speech he has been himself a very worthy son of his father. Lord Stansgate, in another place, is still standing for the ideals of liberty of which he was such a great champion in this House, and those of us who recall those days will remember him first in the Liberal Party, standing for the very essence of Liberalism, which is a belief in liberty, and, secondly, when we welcomed him into the ranks of the Labour Party, taking that mantle upon his shoulders. As one of the older Members of this House, I very sincerely congratulate his son upon that speech and say that in that speech he expressed all the best—and that is very great—in the record of his father.
In seconding this Motion, I do not think any hon. Member of the Government will complain that I adopted a different attitude when the Labour Party formed the Government from that which I am now adopting in opposition. I think I was one of the first hon. Members in this House to seek to move the Adjournment of the House when Seretse Khama was first excluded from his country, and I say frankly to the House that I think a very grave mistake was made by the Labour Government when it took that action. But that is no excuse for the hon. and learned Gentleman, speaking for the office of Commonwealth Relations, now to defend his action upon the White Paper which was then introduced because, as many of us expected, every argument in that White Paper has been repudiated by the events which have followed.
903 What was the argument in that White Paper? It was that Seretse Khama, because he had done perhaps the most fundamental thing of all human life in marrying the woman he loved, even though that woman was a white person, would be rejected by his tribe and that there would be disunity in it. Exactly the opposite happened. I regard that as an extraordinary advance for the principle of the equality of human relationships.
I know that there has been a colour bar on the side of the Indians and Africans, as well as on the side of the Britishers, but that the Bamangwato tribe should not only have endorsed Seretse as their chief but should have welcomed his wife, indeed should have come to admire the courage of his wife in those circumstances, and should have again and again endorsed their claim that he should be their Chief, is one of the greatest features of human advance and racial equality that there has been in this century.
If this House of Commans had had broad ideas about human equality and was thinking in the terms of a future human family in which racial differences would be abolished, the Government would have welcomed this declaration of the Bamangwato tribe and made it an occasion to allow Seretse and Ruth Khama to return to Bechuanaland, rather than have adopted the attitude which has been adopted by the Government on this occasion.
I wish to speak very frankly. Even when the Labour Government issued its White Paper, none of us believed that the excuses made in that White Paper were the real reason for the exclusion of Seretse. We all knew that the real reason was the attitude of the South African Government. What was true then is equally true today.
§ Mr. Brockway
I agree it is more so, because the Government have had the stupidity to choose for the occasion of this announcement a time when the issue of the colour bar is at its height in the South African Union.
From the Labour benches in this House it was argued that the more liberal elements in South Africa did not want Seretse to return, because if he did it would play into the hands of Dr. Malan. 904 The opposite is true today. By the Government of Great Britain endorsing in this disgraceful way the principle of the colour bar, it is assisting the South African Government at the very moment of the struggle against the Liberals in South Africa upon this issue of the colour bar.
I wish to say more than that. I would say to the Government, with some knowledge of the feeling in Africa, what I said to the Colonial Secretary the other day regarding the Central African federation, where the proposal is that the federation should be imposed despite the opposition of the African people; that by that he was endangering the co-operation of the African people. I say that the action of the Government today over Seretse Khama will alienate the whole African population in the British Colonies against this Government and against this country.
When Seretse Khama was excluded from Africa, I was visiting the Sudan and Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. Everywhere I went the people regarded the personal issue of Seretse Khama as embodying the rights and liberties of the African population as a whole. I say to the Government that its effect on the social conditions in this country has been serious. But historically the policy of the Colonial Office since the change of Government and the policy of the office of Commonwealth Relations will in the long run be a greater disaster to this country even than the social distress which it is causing; because it has meant the alienation of all hope of good will between African races and this country.
I would refer to the argument used by the hon. and learned Gentleman in his statement today, that there has been a vacuum since Seretse Khama was deposed, and that that can be filled only by some other African becoming Chief of the Bamangwato. I recognise that a vacuum has been created. But it has been created by the exclusion of Seretse Khama from Bechuanaland. I have had many conversations with him and I have conveyed the gist of those conversations to the Government. In them I indicated that he was quite prepared to play his part in a new democratic conception of the government of Bechuanaland.
Now the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that he must be banned forever as Chief. I say to him that will inevitably mean that the people of 905 Bechuanaland will first regard as an alien and an imposter any other Chief which this Parliament imposes on them, and secondly will make it much more difficult to establish the democratic constitution in Bechuanaland.
Then there is this proposal to send him to Jamaica. It is a degrading thing that a British Government, when it has done this wrong, should seek to buy off the victim, first by a promise of money, and second by sending him to an island in the distant Atlantic. It makes me ashamed of the sense of human values of this House and the rights and liberty of the individual.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite, when someone is deported from Russia or a satellite country of Russia, suddenly become Liberal and defend the rights of the individual. But when it is the case of an African in a British Protectorate, suddenly it becomes all right. Liberties and human values are the same in Africa or in Europe or all over the world. I hope the House will indicate by its attitude tonight that though this Government may do this shameful and disgraceful thing, the people of Britain do not endorse it and will show at the earliest opportunity—not only for the sake of our people here but for the sake of the people of Africa—that they will rid this country of a Government which is denying the fundamental liberties and freedoms.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
Every hon. Member of this House will agree with the opening sentences in the speech of the hon. Member for Bristol. South-East (Mr. Benn), when he said that it was a great thing that in the midst of a very important debate on another aspect of our affairs we should stop to discuss and argue about the rights and wrongs of a case affecting one person. That has always been one of the shining traditions of this House, and I am sure everyone will agree that our prayer will be that it may long continue to be so.
When I listened to the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, I recalled very forcibly the exclamation of Shylock:A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel! O wise young judge …I respectfully suggest to the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) that this evening we are here as judges of a very important 906 issue. Therefore, we should approach the matter in a sensible, straightforward and judicial fashion.
§ Mr. Craddock
I am sorry that the hon. Member does not see the point. I will not delay the House by trying to educate him now.
I turn to one or two of the questions raised by the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East. The first question he asked was, "Why the hurry?" I should have thought that, if he knew anything at all about Africa, if he had lived there, and if he knew the Africans, he would have found the answer immediately in the White Paper to which he referred—namely, the report of the Commission sent out to investigate the position.
I draw his attention to page 14 of the report of Mr. Bullock and Professor Macmillan, where it says:Perhaps our overriding impression is this, that the greatest need of the people of the Bamangwato Reserve is a period of peace to go about their everyday affairs freed from the distraction of continuing disturbances resulting from consideration of the affairs of the members of the chiefly house.I refer to the last sentence of Mr. Lipson's report, in which he said:Meanwhile, conditions in the tribe are deteriorating owing to lack of strong leadership.I respectfully suggest that that is the real importance of the decision which was of necessity given by the Government at this juncture.
§ Mr. Benn
I know that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. He will recall that one of the points I made was that this delegation which represents the tribal leaders was due to arrive in this country tomorrow week, and although the need for speed is strong, it must not be forgotten that delay, at least until that stage, might very well have eased any decision that had to be taken.
§ Mr. Craddock
I appreciate the point the hon. Member has made, but I must say that I still adhere to the view that this matter is so urgent, and that the conditions there have deteriorated so rapidly that, if anything, my right hon. Friend should have made this decision before now.
907 The next point the hon. Gentleman raised was why should Seretse be sent to Jamaica? Of course, Seretse is not being sent to Jamaica. It has been suggested that he can do valuable work there. Again, if the hon. Gentleman knows the conditions both in Africa and in Jamaica, he will agree that Seretse, with his African background, can do a very useful job in Jamaica. I should have thought that if he was to go anywhere, Jamaica would indeed have been a very proper place for him to go.
§ Mr. Benn
The hon. Gentleman has twice suggested that I know nothing about Africa. Perhaps I may just tell him that I spent over a year there and this included visits to Bechuanaland. I never suggested that Seretse was being sent to Jamaica. I simply asked why was Jamaica picked as the place for which an offer was made. My point is that he may do something in the Bamangwato Reserve itself. If he cannot do it there, there are plenty of other places in Africa which could take advantage of his talents.
§ Mr. Craddock
If I misquoted the hon. Gentleman, I am sorry. It was the hon. Member for Eton and Slough who asked why Seretse was being sent to Jamaica, because I took down the actual words.
§ Mr. Brockway
I accept that, but I put it to the hon. Gentleman that when a man is excluded from his own country—[Interruption.] If I may say so to the Government Front Bench, it is exactly that attitude which causes feeling on this matter. It is an attitude which expresses not only class superiority but racial superiority, and that is the thing which is ruining the world today.
§ Mr. Craddock
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough asked why Seretse was being sent to Jamaica. I am trying to follow the advice which I respectfully gave to the House; namely, that we should try to avoid emotion and approach this problem from a judicial point of view. But on every occasion when I have listened to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, not only in this House but outside, I have found it difficult to avoid emotion. He gives me the impression that everything he says and his whole line of approach is that everything that the British people in this country 908 and in this House do is wrong. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, indeed. That is my impression and I am entitled to form my own impression. Everything we do is wrong. It used to be the same before 1939. Everything the British Government do is wrong. Everything that every other Government does—including the attitude of the people in the Empire—is all right. I firmly object to that attitude.
I put it on record once and for all that having had the privilege, like others, of seeing and observing at close quarters the great work done in most parts of the British Empire over a long period, I believe that this country and our people have made a greater contribution to the scheme of things in this world than any other nation. I will not retract from that.
§ Mr. Craddock
The next question raised by the two hon. Gentlemen was that of mixed marriages. That has nothing whatever to do with the case of Seretse Khama. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It has nothing whatever to do with it. Then both hon. Gentlemen asked, "What is the effect of this on the Africans?" They asked what it would mean. They tried to paint a rather lurid picture. I believe that this rightful action of the British Government will have a very good effect on the Africans throughout the whole of the Continent.
Now that I know the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East has had actual experience in Africa, I think he will agree that one of the most important considerations to every African in every part of that great Continent is the tribe and the tribal life. At the moment in the Bamangwato Reserve the whole of the tribal life is disintegrating. This action will do more than anything else to restore the tribal pride of the Bamangwato.
§ Mr. Benn
The hon. Gentleman makes a great mistake if he supposes that in this matter I did not recognise the importance of tribal life, the importance of the tribal dynasty and indeed the importance of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) did in trying to superimpose some measure of representative native 909 council. But if the hon. Member says that the Africans do not know what is good for them—
§ Mr. Craddock
I think that the steps which have been taken will have nothing but a good effect, once more cementing together the whole of the Bamangwato tribe.
§ Mr. Craddock
No. I am sorry. I have given way a good deal already.
There is a further point I want to make before I get on to the general theme. It is a matter of great regret to me—and I hope that it will not occur again—that South Africa should be dragged into this debate. It will do infinite harm. South Africa has nothing whatever to do with this question of Seretse.
We have had many important debates in the previous Parliament on the question of Tshekedi Khama. Tonight, I suggest that the issue is a very narrow one, namely, the question of Seretse Khama, and, therefore, it is right and proper that we should dismiss altogether any considerations concerning Tshekedi Khama from this affair and concentrate upon the one problem of Seretse.
In order that we may have a proper appreciation of the state of affairs and judge properly the action of my hon. and learned Friend and of his noble Friend in another place, it is desirable that we should go back and consider briefly the background of this whole question. Hon. Members know as well as I do that it really started with the intimation by Seretse to his uncle Tshekedi that he, Seretse, was going to marry an English girl.
Not unnaturally, as we all appreciate, this must have come as a shock to Tshekedi Khama and to the members of the Bamangwato tribe; and, rightly, Tshekedi, in the position in which he was then, did the proper thing in suggesting 910 that Seretse should postpone his marriage to the English lady and go back to the tribe for consultation. The reply that Tshekedi received from Seretse to that proposition was that Seretse was already married.
Following on that, and I am jumping the interval in order to save time, the next really important thing that happened was that a kgotla was held—the first one, as the right hon. Gentleman will remember—to consider whether, in these circumstances, Seretse was still entitled to remain the Chief-Designate. I think I am right in that, and I see that the right hon. Gentleman agrees. In my view, what happened at the first kgotla—again the right hon. Gentleman agrees—was that Seretse was condemned by the whole tribe.
That, I believe, is where the great mistake was made in the whole of this question. If the right hon. Member for Smethwick, when he occupied a position in the Government, had at that juncture said that this was a question for the tribe to decide—as, indeed it is—and, if they had decided against Seretse, he would accept that decision right away, we should not have had any more of the trouble that we have had during the past two years.
§ Mr. Craddock
It was on one of my first days in the House when I heard the right hon. Gentleman make the announcement.
§ Mr. Craddock
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but it does not affect the issue. It was an action of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished representative.
§ Mr. Craddock
Therefore, the whole trouble arose from that particular point, and I respectfully suggest, and with conviction, that the real issue here has been brought about by the wrong action of the then Government, and that is where all this trouble springs from. It is 911 another legacy left by the Socialist Government to the present Government, and I believe that it was right and proper that, at the earliest possible moment, this Government should tackle and resolve the problem.
In supporting, as I do, the action that has now been taken, there are certain grounds for that attitude. Let us consider three points. What has been the effect of the decision of five years' banishment on Seretse himself? Every hon. Member in this House who knows Seretse, has kept in touch with his position and has been following the situation very carefully, will agree that Seretse is almost a nervous wreck today, and one can well imagine it. [Interruption.] I do not agree that that is silly. I have been in touch with all these matters concerning him; just as much as the hon. Member himself.
§ Mr. Craddock
I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
The effect of this banishment on Seretse himself has been very serious indeed, and I do not believe that today he would be capable of taking over his position as Chief, even if he were called upon to do so. If that is the case now, what will be the effect of another three years of this uncertainty? It is quite unfair to Seretse himself that he should be kept in suspense for nearly another three years.
Then, again, I have already commented on the question of the effect on the tribe. We have the observations of the Commissioners who went out there, and who reported that the whole position was rapidly deteriorating. Finally, and equally important, there is the effect on Her Majesty's Government. How is it possible for a Government to do all they want to do to bring about progress in this area if we have this very unsettled state? Hon. Members who know Africa will agree how very important it is, and how such things as these disturbances have a very adverse effect on every African in the territory.
I submit that it was not only right and proper, but that it was the bounden duty of H.M. Government to resolve this 912 unhappy position at the earliest possible moment, and I believe that they have taken the only step which they could take to do so. I admit, and everyone will agree, that it is unfortunate on Seretse, but I disagree with the hon. Member for Eton and Slough when he says that Seretse is an ordinary individual.
Seretse is not an ordinary person. He is a person of royal blood, and he has special obligations to fulfil. We well know that a person in that very special position in any part of the world has very great obligations towards the people over whom he is seeking to rule, and Seretse has been shown, in the statement made by my hon. and learned Friend today, that he has failed to consult with his people when he contemplated choosing a consort. His failure to do so, as my hon. and learned Friend's statement today says,betokened lack of responsibility in a potential ruler, and by his precipitate marriage he was unmindful of the interests of his tribe and of his public duty.I come back to the central question. This is not a question of mixed marriages at all. If Seretse or any other African came to me and said, "I propose to marry an English girl; what do you think about it?" I would say to him, as I have done in the past in similar cases, and as I should do again in the future, "That is a matter for you, but if you are asking my opinion, for what it is worth, I think it would be very unwise of you to do so."
Let us face up to it. It is not liked by a very large number of Europeans, and, equally important, it is not liked or looked upon with favour by the Africans themselves. That, I submit, is where the real point comes in—that Seretse made a great mistake in not considering the obligations which he would be called upon to undertake in due course, and, therefore, cannot now expect any great consideration from his people, or, indeed, from this House, in the unhappy situation in which he finds himself.
I am afraid that I must simply conclude by saying that I do feel most strongly that this difficult situation is an unhappy and unfortunate legacy left by the mistakes of the previous Administration, and that I believe that it was the duty of 913 H.M. Government to act quickly. In my view, they have acted rightly, not only from the point of view of justice and from every other consideration, but, I believe, in a way that will react to the best interests of the Bamangwato tribe themselves.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
Like many of my hon. Friends, I have taken a considerable interest in this issue from the start, and I agree with the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) that a tribal kgotla voted against Seretse Khama at the first tribal meeting when this trouble arose. Since then, however, the tribe have changed their mind and, as far as I know, tribes, like a Parliament and like anybody else, have the right to change their mind. Eventually, the tribe were in favour of accepting Seretse Khama and his white wife.
About a month ago, some of my hon. Friends and myself put down a Motion, for which time has not yet been found, suggesting that Tshekedi Khama, the uncle of Seretse Khama, should be allowed to return to his native land and that Seretse Khama should be allowed to assume the chieftainship of the tribe. That suggestion was turned down by the Colonial Secretary, who said that Tshekedi Khama would be allowed to return under certain terms and that Seretse Khama would not be allowed to return. I asked him a supplementary question on the point—whether that would introduce peace and harmony into the tribal territory; and his answer was that the Government expected that it would. What has happened? It has introduced discord and nothing but discord. Indeed, it was bound to introduce discord. That was why my hon. Friends and I put down the Motion which has not yet been discussed.
I am not concerned with the personality of Seretse Khama. I am concerned with the question of principle. Seretse Khama, in my opinion, did gievous wrong under the laws and customs of his tribe by marrying against his tribal customs and by marrying so precipitously without giving the tribe time to think the matter over. Therefore, I am not concerned with him. But I want to ask these questions—and I hope we shall have answers to them, because much depends on them. Has 914 any pressure been brought to bear upon Seretse Khama to abdicate—for that is what it amounts to—and to agree to the terms which the Government have offered? Was any pressure brought to bear on him?
§ Mr. Reid
I am glad to have been given that answer, which is at least something definite. It is important. We are considering Seretse Khama's future, and he has refused to accept what the Government have offered. That is a genuine answer from the hon. and learned Gentleman and now we know where we stand.
§ Mr. Foster
May I add, in order to help the hon. Gentleman, that the Jamaican offer remains open in spite of his refusal and that we hope he will accept it, but that is up to him.
§ Mr. Reid
The chief point is that he refuses the solution of the problem offered to him by the Government. That raises a very important point indeed. The first point is, therefore, that the chief person concerned objects to the proposed arrangement.
The next question I ask is, what about the tribe? It is not a tribe throughout the whole of Bechuanaland, which is a huge territory as big as half Europe. This involves the chieftainship of a very small tribe in Bechuanaland. The question is, what do the tribe want? After all, these tribal laws are not as definite and as rigid as our laws, but everyone agrees that the question of the chieftainship should rest with the tribe. The question is, were the tribe consulted before this offer was made by the Government, and have the tribe indicated in any way that they do not want Seretse Khama back?
§ Mr. Foster
If I may intervene—and I am using this method in order to assist the hon. Gentleman, for these points have been raised suddenly—the indications are that the majority of the tribe want the 915 return of Seretse. I think it is right that I should say so. Obviously, I have qualifications to add to that in the sense of an explanation of why, as in the case of the White Paper, the decision of the kgotla is, in our view, not paramount.
§ Mr. Reid
I thank the hon. Gentleman for replying so candidly, and that makes the position even more clear. According to the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has means of information which are not available to the ordinary hon. Member, Seretse Khama himself and his tribe object to the proposals put forward by the Government.
§ Mr. Foster
I do not think the tribe know of the proposals. All I can say is that in the kgotla, as last indicated, the majority of the tribe wanted the return of Seretse Khama. That is the latest information about the kgotla. They do not know about this proposal, and when I say "the majority," there are views about how big the majority is and how far the situation remains like that.
§ Mr. Reid
I am sorry if I over-stated the hon. and learned Gentleman's reply. What he says is perfectly true. As far as we know, the tribe want Seretse Khama back, although they are ignorant of the offer made by the Government. I suggest that the offer which the Government have now made will not bring the tribe round to their point of view. Of course, the tribe have not been consulted about this offer. I do not know why, then, the Government have decided to exile Seretse Khama from his country. Is it because they do not consider that he would be a competent Chief? If that is the reason, and assuming for the sake of argument that Seretse Khama would not prove an efficient administrator or an efficient Chief of the tribe, I suggest that it would be best to allow him to be tried in that position and to let his own people deal with him. If he proved to be a failure, then as far as I know the tribal laws, they could remove him.
The Government's objectives are no doubt perfectly good. They want to preserve unity and peace and harmony in the tribe, but I ask them: is this the way to do it, by deposing the lawful Chief of the tribe—for that is what it amounts to—instead of letting the lawful chief take his chance so as to see what he can do and 916 then leaving it to the tribe, if necessary, to depose him?
In India, this sort of case arose several times and the general rule was to allow the Princely chief to carry on. We had the paramount power and we could not allow Princes to mis-govern their territories very badly, because we were indirectly responsible. We therefore allowed the Maharajas and the Rajas to carry on until it was proved conclusively, to their subjects, that they were not fit to rule. Several of these Maharajas and Rajas were deposed by the paramount power, and in my experience in India I did not know a case where his subjects objected. First, however, we gave a chance to the lawful successor to the throne, and then his own people condemned him and we removed him.
I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he might clear up this point when he replies: why had we to step in like this and take the odium of this whole affair? Why should we create a lot of ill feeling amongst the Africans, where the situation will probably be mis-represented against the British? Why not allow the tribe themselves to deal with him? There might be some disorder, or there might not, if Seretse Khama went back as Chief, but why not risk that instead of taking the bigger risk of bringing the Government of Britain into odium and creating a lot of feeling in the African territories? I hope the hon. Gentleman will answer that important question when he replies.
The next thing which troubles me is this—and my hon. Friends have already referred to it: was this an opportune moment at which to make this new offer to Seretse Khama? Again, the Government have sources of information which I have not, but I confess that it seems to me to have been a very inopportune moment to bring forward such an offer. I am, however, only seeking information; I never reach decisions without knowing the facts as far as I can get them. It appears to me and to many of my hon. Friends to have been a very inopportune moment, and, quite frankly, the suspicion on these benches is that this trouble has been caused by South African interests. Whether that is so, I do not know, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will clear the point up in his reply.
Again, it has been said by some of my hon. Friends that a bribe, more or less, 917 was offered to Seretse Khama by offering him a job in Jamaica. I do not know whether that is true, but what post was offered to him? What is the nature of the post in which he can "perform useful service," and what are the terms? Is he to be paid by the Jamaican Government or not? We should like to know these things. Meantime, until these questions are answered, I do not think we can come to a realistic decision on this point; and I beg whoever is to reply to the debate for the Government to be frank and candid with the House.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
We have now reached another chapter in this very unfortunate story. I would say at once, in regard to a remark that was made by the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock), that he regretted that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) introduced emotion, that to me any question relating to the liberty of any man is bound to raise, in all of us, the deepest emotions.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman allow me? I am very much obliged to him. I agree that that is undoubtedly so. I could not agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman more. However, I respectfully suggest to him—and, as a member of the same profession, doubtless he will agree with me—that it is the duty of this House, as the judge, not to approach this thing in an emotional way, for the task of the House tonight is a judicial one.
§ Mr. Davies
Well, one may approach all manner of matters in a judicial way, but it is difficult to put on one side one's deep feelings when one is considering the liberty or the position or the rights of a fellow subject. One of the most cruel punishments that can be inflicted upon any man is the punishment of banishment from amongst his own people and from his own country—and especially if that man has done nothing that, so far as one can see, entitles anyone to condemn him even for the smallest offence.
I only wish that some of the speeches to which we have listened tonight had been delivered on other occasions when this matter has been raised in this House. I agree entirely with what was said by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough in 918 congratulating the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who, unfortunately, is not in at the moment, for his robust liberalism. I wish that that robust liberalism had found expression when we were asking that Tshekedi should be returned to his own people, for he had done nothing whatsoever except to look after his people for more than 20 years—and yet, nevertheless, was banished from them for trying again to safeguard their future. But the robust voice of liberalism found it best to be silent on that occasion. Perhaps it is just as well that those of us who still believe in it remain in the Liberal Party, and are not to be tempted by the profits of office in any party.
Reference has been made to the question of mixed marriages. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Spelthorne said that that had nothing to do with the present decision, whereupon there were protests from this side of the House. This has everything to do with the question of mixed marriages, and has had right from the very outset. It was the Government of the day in their White Paper who said that mixed marriages had got nothing to do with it. It is in the White Paper, paragraph 16:His Majesty's Government are fully aware of the very strong feelings that are aroused on the subject of the merits or demerits of mixed marriages, but that is not the issue which is here raised.
§ Mr. Davies
I really do not see wherein lies the difference. I think that it is a distinction without a difference. At any rate, it is one of the most hypocritical statements that was ever made in any White Paper. The question of whom any young man or young woman should marry is a question for those two and for nobody else, and it is not right that anyone should interfere with them. It is a question of their lives and their choice, and no one has any right to interfere with that right or that choice.
But what had happened here? Reference has been made to the fact that now there is a general call amongst the Bamangwato tribe for the return of Seretse, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) has directed particular attention to that now, and says that that is the position, and 919 that he has put down a Motion directing the attention of the House to that. But that call was made after his marriage.
There were three kgotlas. They are referred to in the White Paper that was issued by the then Government. In the first one they were against Seretse. In the second one there were more people voting for Seretse. I am not sure that they were not in the majority. In the third one, in June, 1949, when he returned to the Reserve, as is pointed out in paragraph 7:At a third meeting of the tribe in that month there was a decisive majority in favour of Seretse as Chief with his European wife.Nevertheless, the Government of the day banished him—and banished him for a period of years unnamed. It is made quite clear in paragraph 15. They had asked him to give up his rights voluntarily. Paragraph 15 says:Seretse was unable to accept that view, and His Majesty's Government had, therefore, to make their own decision which was announced in Parliament on the 8th March. It was to the effect that the High Commissioner had been instructed to withhold his recognition of Seretse as Chief for a period of years, sufficiently long for the disappearance of the present tendencies to disruption which threaten the unity and the well-being of the tribe.Then comes this sentence:The period required would certainly not be less than five years, and at the end of that time"—whatever that might be—the situation would be reviewed.It was then that the appalling decision was arrived at. That has been the cause of all the trouble.
Hon. Gentlemen now are saying that the paramount thing is the future of the tribe. I do agree, but they flouted the future of the tribe in 1950. I agree that Africans do not like these mixed marriages, but his own people, having met three times, said about the future of the tribe in June, 1949, "This man has married a white woman. Nevertheless, we should like him back, and we should like his white wife with him."
What did the then Government do? They appointed a commission of inquiry, and the inquiry was held, and it reported, in paragraph 11:His Majesty's Government must, however, state categorically that the Judicial Enquiry 920 unanimously advised against the recognition of Seretse. It expressed its belief that in these circumstances Seretse's absence from the Bechuanaland Protectorate was essential to the peace and good order of the Bamangwato Reserve, and that a period of direct rule would be in the best interests of the Bamangwato.Now, the date of the inquiry precedes the decision to banish him, and to banish him for an unstated number of years. That was a crime against liberty committed by the then Government. I do not remember a voice, except that of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough and some of my colleagues, being raised in protest.
§ Mr. Davies
I remember that, unfortunately, I was not present when the Consolidated Fund Bill was debated, and it was one of my colleagues who raised this matter for a short while.
§ Mrs. White
I believe he really is mistaken there. The issue of Seretse was raised on the Consolidated Fund Bill by Members of the then Government party, and the issue of Tshekedi was raised on a Supply Day at the discretion of the Opposition at that time.
§ Mr. Davies
I am obliged to the hon. Lady. I said I was not present, but I thought that I had left it to my hon. Friend to raise it.
§ Mr. J. Foster
What happened was that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) raised it; the right hon. and learned Gentleman's colleague the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) raised it, and the then hon. Member for Oxford, now Lord Hailsham, also mentioned it.
§ Mr. Davies
It was my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) whom I had in mind. Unfortunately, I could not be present, and I know that it was raised at a very late hour. At any rate I was right about this. When I 921 raised the much more straightforward case of Tshekedi, who was not Chief, who resigned from his position as Chief, I had to seek the assistance of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen now on the Government side of the House to get it even debated. When we did get it debated and divided the House, although there were many voices sympathetic with Tshekedi, hon. Members voted in the other Lobby in the main.
Now let me turn to another matter. There is one thing that is absolutely clear in my mind, and that is that no one has the right to interfere with these people except their protectors. No one from outside has any right to dictate; and certainly not somebody taking and upholding the views of the Prime Minister of South Africa, Dr. Malan. What he is doing within his own territory is bad enough, but at any rate he has no right to threaten anybody outside that territory. I am very glad to hear the protests that have been made about that today, and I hope that it is absolutely clear that that has nothing to do with what has happened since with regard to this.
§ Mr. Davies
Very well. That is something at any rate. There is a reference to it, though, in paragraph 17 of the White Paper:His Majesty's Government were of course aware that a strong body of European opinion in southern Africa would be opposed to recognition; but, as stated in the House of Commons on the 8th March, no representations on this matter have been received from the Government of the Union of South Africa or Southern Rhodesia.There is a categorical statement, but I cannot help reading that in conjunction with paragraph 10, which refers to the report of those who made the statement. They issued a report and delivered it to the Government of the day.
The Government then said they had considered whether the report should be published, and added:As the report and the accompanying evidence form only a part of the matters considered by His Majesty's Government they would present an incomplete and unbalanced picture.922 Even unbalanced and incomplete, at any rate let us have a look at it. We might be able to fill up the lacuna and add the bits for ourselves. But we were denied that. The White Paper goes on:Moreover certain arguments are advanced and views expressed in the report which are not accepted by His Majesty's Government, and with which they could not associate themselves. The danger that such parts of the report would be quoted without its being made clear that they had not the approval of the Government is so great that His Majesty's Government have decided that the report cannot be published.I asked in previous Parliaments what those arguments were, and I ask it again now. Would it not be in the interests of everybody if, even now, that report were published? Is it not obvious that those arguments were: "If Seretse is allowed to be accompanied by his wife, Miss Ruth Williams, a white woman, back amongst his tribe, there will be protests from South Africa and trouble will be caused by that." Was that the argument contained in the report? Is that the reason this report was then suppressed?
If that is so, it is hypocrisy now to say that Malan is not again interfering. He interfered at the time when this wrong was done in the initial stages. We should not be debating this now if this action had not been taken and Seretse and Tshekedi both banished. That is the position. What is to happen? Fortunately the new Government have seen fit to allow Tshekedi to go back home. I understand that efforts are being made for him to go back there quietly, and we all hope that he will.
Now comes the question: What is to be done with Seretse? Can he go back as Chief? It will be very difficult. Really he is treated by his own people, and rightly, as more than King: he is father, guide and leader, like the great Khama, his grandfather, before him, and like his uncle Tshekedi before him.
What has happened with regard to that young man? He was sent to schools, sent to colleges in South Africa, and sent to Oxford. Then, when he is about to take over and take a wife with him, with the approval of the whole of the tribe, along comes the Government here in Britain and says: "No. Go away. You are not fit to be Chief. Go away for a number of years. We can- 923 not tell you how long, but certainly not less than five." What is likely to be the influence of a man like that when he is brought back at the end of five years? The damage has been done. It was done then; that is the point.
I am not a bit surprised, therefore, that suggestions are made that Seretse feels the position is such that it cannot go on like that, and that he is ready to resign. I would hope that would be so. Then suppose he did—and this is why I was asking the supplementary question of the hon. Gentleman today. He has given up as Chief because the position has been rendered impossible, not by the present Government but by the action of the then Government saying plainly to the tribe: "You have unfortunately got a Chief who is not fit to govern you for at least five years."
I will not refer to recent events, but supposing this country had tried that suggestion with James II, I wonder what would have been the position? We would have said to him: "Go away. You are not fit to govern. Go off with your new Queen and little boy. Get away to Paris. We do not know for how long, but certainly for five years, and then we will have you back upon the Throne." It really is an impossible situation, and anybody who acts after that has to deal with the situation so created.
Now comes the question whether he could go back as a private citizen. He is entitled to. He is certainly entitled to go back amongst his people. His property is there; his home is there; they speak the same language. He is entitled to do that, but there is the difficulty that if he does go and there is a new Chief, to whom will the tribe then owe loyalty? That again is a difficulty that has been created.
I myself would wish to see him go back. Whether he could go back immediately or not, I really do not know, because of the situation that has been created by this action. My one regret—and I blame the Government for this—is that they have acted so precipitately in this way; they should have taken more time to consider the right thing to be done in the interests of everyone.
Someone rightly said that the paramount interest is the interest of the tribe. 924 Of course, along with that, naturally, is the interest of this young man and his wife and children. How can we best deal with the situation created now? I wish that the knife had not been brought down this afternoon upon this matter, and that more time had been given to discussion and finding better ways of dealing with the situation.
We are well aware that the whole of Africa, thank God, is awake. It is not a question now of merely South Africa but all the way from Arab belt to the Cape of Good Hope, and what we are doing in one place is now known in the others. What we want above everything now is wisdom, understanding and tolerance in dealing with these people—holding out the hand of friendship, helping them along the road we all wish they would go. I deeply regret that this action has been taken this afternoon, instead of waiting to see whether we could not devise some better way of getting out of the difficulty that was created on 8th March, 1950.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
I listened with pleasure and sympathy to the speech which we have just heard from the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). I agree with almost all that he said, but not quite all, as the next few minutes may show, but I do not think that he made out a very strong case for delay.
Seretse Khama married without permission, and not merely against the advice of his friend and uncle and Regent. I think that we may be inclined, in view of the great publicity which this matter has received, to see more in it and to attach much more importance to it than the matter really deserves. This is not so unusual in history. There are plenty of precedents among rulers, leaders and heads of families and other persons where an individual choice, freely made, has, nevertheless, led to consequences which have affected a career, and I think that we are apt to exaggerate the importance of this matter. It is, indeed, commonplace enough in the general pages of our history and to almost every people.
The last Government came to what was obviously an interim decision. They got out of their difficulties by banishing Seretse for a time. They may have hoped that swiftly, before it was too late, the 925 marriage would be dissolved or would have proved childless, or the second or third wife might come along, which would have been perfectly proper according to the morality of the tribe—and that is the relevant morality—and the matter have resolved itself in that way.
The Secretary of State in the Labour Government was not right to take that chance. But much time has now passed, much difficulty has arisen and much controversy has divided and thwarted this tribe. It seems to me that there is danger if a solution is not found, and that is why I think that the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery did not make out a good case for delay in case something should turn up. I cannot myself feel that anything is likely to turn up, and since the paramount interest is that of the tribe, I think that a decision was required, and Her Majesty's Government have shown courage in making a decision.
It has been said, "No one should threaten, least of all Dr. Malan." Let it be placed indubitably on record that Dr. Malan did not threaten to take a view about this matter or intervene in this matter. I think that it would be wise, as well as gracious, if Members of this House on both sides realised the sovereign independence of the Union of South Africa and left them to manage their affairs, as we would reasonably ask them to leave us to manage ours. I understand that Dr. Malan did not intervene at all, that he made no recommendations and no representations, directly or indirectly, and that the British Government did not ask for any advice or help from South Africa.
My own opinion is that that was a mistake on both sides. I consider that the relationship between Europeans and Africans and coloured and Indian peoples in the sub-Continent is such a vital matter that there ought to be consultations between powerful Governments, sister-Governments in the Commonwealth, upon all matters that touch their interests, and especially upon controversial matters like this.
§ Dr. H. Morgan (Warrington)
The hon. Gentleman has made a very important statement. He stated that to his knowledge Dr. Malan neither directly or indirectly has brought any pressure to bear in any way on this question at any time. I do not know whether the hon. 926 Gentleman was in direct personal contact with Dr. Malan, but I should like to know whether he can give us any information as to where we can get any authoritative opinion that Dr. Malan at any time kept aloof and did not make any statement of any kind on this matter.
§ Sir I. Fraser
I can only say that the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who was the Secretary of State at the time, told me personally that that was so, and the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has told me so today. I take their word for it. Nevertheless, I consider that to be a mistake of British policy.
I think that the relationship between Britain and South Africa is so important that in all these matters touching our interests, and especially matters of a controversial nature, there ought to be this kind of consultation. I think that, may be, a solution of this matter would have been much easier if there had been consultation, and if the difficulties and the apprehensions which may have influenced right hon. Gentlemen opposite had been frankly brought out into the open and, had they existed, clearly stated.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) said that the law affecting mixed marriages was altered quite recently since Seretse left Africa. I think, as a matter of fact, that is an error. The law affecting colour relationships between white and coloured people has been altered lately, but the law between black and white has been in force for a considerable time and outdates this controversy by many years.
I do not think that we can leave mixed marriages out of this matter, and I want to say a word or two about that subject in the hope that what I say may not stir up emotional feelings and but by its very practicalness—practical common sense perhaps—will lead to understanding. Let a man marry whom he likes freely, but if he occupies a position of responsibility, if his head wears a crown, or if he is the head of a State or a leader—perhaps a leader of a party—he must be careful whom he marries.
I have not the slightest doubt that if the Leader of the Opposition, through some accident to his present wife, were next week or next year to marry a girl 927 from the Bamangwato tribe, in spite of the friendly exhortations and the presence at the marriage feast of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, this event would undoubtedly hasten the advent to the leadership of the Labour Party of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Is that not a fact?
It is all very well to say that a mixed marriage 6,000 miles away is all very fine to us here, all white men in this Parliament, but it is when we bring this matter into our homes and into our families that we realise the depth of feeling which it arouses. There may be places in the British Commonwealth where mixed marriages are accepted, but southern Africa is not one of those places. Consequently, this question is a relevant one.
I said in the lifetime of the previous Government, and I repeat it now, that our leaders are right to bring this matter to an end because this man did not consult his tribe and did not listen to his uncle, Regent and guardian, and has taken a course which would be most difficult and most disagreeable to Europeans and Africans alike in the setting in which Bechuanaland is placed.
Under the arrangement made between this country and South Africa in 1925, and enshrined in an aide-memoire of that date, there is an obligation on this country and the South African Government to consult each other on the matters relating to the High Commission Territories. Therefore, we ought not to ignore the opinion of our fellow countrymen and our fellow Commonwealth folk, many of them our own kith and kin, of both races within South Africa.
Let it not be misunderstood and thought that the policy of separateness in South Africa is a policy of Afrikaans-speaking people. It is a policy of both the white races, and, in my experience, 95 per cent. of them. It is not a policy which will be broken down or changed in favour of some ideal solution by hot words and angry sentiment but only by working together over a long period of time.
The question is much simpler than it seems. The young man may marry whom he likes, but he cannot inherit if he marries such and such, just as the 928 Leader of the Opposition could not possibly lead the Opposition if he married a girl from the Bamangwato tribe. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Could he?
§ Commander Harry Pursey (Hull, East)
On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Gentleman opposite to make several references to private matters relating to the Leader of the Opposition? Surely he could take any other example he liked instead of making an attack on the Leader of the Opposition and bringing to this issue a party political matter.
§ Sir I. Fraser
There was no attack. I have the utmost regard for the Leader of the Opposition, whose private life is an example to all of us. I took that example because simple-minded hon. Members opposite would not understand this unless I brought it home to them.It was expedient that one man should die for the people.It is expedient that Seretse Khama—
§ Sir I. Fraser
This is a case where Seretse Khama, because of the choice he has made, which I hold him free to make, is not suitable, in the circumstances in which he is placed. It is a very simple issue, often repeated in our history, and there is no need for us to get fussed about it. The appointment of a Chief is an appointment of the Paramount Power. It must be so, because these people and similar peoples are not yet ready to appoint people by elections themselves.
§ Sir I. Fraser
Cetewayo was one of them, and he ruled in a manner which would do the hon. Gentleman a power of good, but it is hardly one which would appeal to the Fabian Society. Since we 929 have this responsibility, we must exercise it, and exercise it for the good of the tribe. Because the Labour Government, up to a point, and the present Government, in the difficult circumstances of the time, have acted in the interests of the tribe, I give them my full support.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
I hoped that nobody in this House would ever be putting forward the proposition that because Seretse Khama had contracted a mixed marriage, that fact alone should disqualify him from the chieftainship of the tribe. I was surprised and shocked to hear the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) do so.
This territory is under the protection of the British Empire, and it has for long been a doctrine for which the British Empire has stood that the colour of a man's skin should not stand in the way of his rights. If an African tribe said, "We object to this man because he has contracted a mixed marriage," the Imperial Power might feel it wise to defer to local sentiment; but that is not the position here. The tribe have made their views quite clear, and it is certainly not for the Imperial Power, the one that claims to have the wiser judgment and the longer view, to impose a racial barrier if the African people themselves do not wish to impose it.
What was in issue here was not only the mere fact that the marriage was mixed but whether it might have been contracted precipitately and without due regard for the people. I take it that we should all accept the view that somebody who holds a high and royal position must have regard in all his acts to the feelings and wishes of his people. If he is going to do something such as contracting a mixed marriage, which is bound to be the subject of a great deal of criticism, then it is all the more enjoined on him to exercise the very greatest care and consult his people first.
The late Government were faced with the situation that this was a mixed marriage, but that it was a marriage which had been contracted apparently with imprudence and precipitancy and without previous consultation with Seretse's people. Then side by side with that consideration came some other considerations.
930 In the first place, there was the question as to the mass of tradition which surrounds an African chieftainship being a suitable instrument for dealing with the problems of the 20th century, and whether this was not the time to make some alterations in that form of government of that territory which would be more suitable to the needs of the times. There was also the question of the relationship between the Bamangwato and what I believe are sometimes called the "client" tribes in the Bechuanaland Territory.
For all these reasons there was a case for saying, "Here we have a situation where sooner or later some alteration in the form of government or of the chieftainship will have to be made, and possibly a native council will take the powers of the chieftainship, or the powers of the Chief may be altered through the creation of a native council." At the same time all this coincided with the conduct of a particular chief, which was called in question.
Put all those factors together and it might not be unreasonable to say, as it has been said, that we should have a five-year trial period, during which we would be entitled to make certain alterations in the form of government of that territory. That was what was being attempted. It is entirely open to hon. Members in any quarter of the House, and it is perhaps particularly to the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), to say that the decision to have this five years' waiting period was all wrong.
§ Mr. Stewart
Yes, I said the right hon. and learned Gentleman has a right to say it, as has my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway).
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not wish to exclude anybody. The Members of the Government are in actual touch with the latest information from that part of the world, and it is certainly open to them to say that this peoriod of trial, in which it was hoped a new form of government would be created, is breaking down. They are the people in most immediate contact with the territory. It is certainly open to 931 any hon. Member who wishes to criticise the late Government to say that the five-year trial period was a wrong decision.
But anyone who says that imposes upon himself the responsibility for finding what is the right position. I cannot speak for any of my right hon. Friends in front of me, but I do not believe that they or anyone else who was connected with the late Government would in any way feel any resentment or any sense of injustice in hearing the present Government say that this five-year plan was wrong, but only if the present Government can come along and offer the right solution at the present time.
If that five-year trial period is rejected, then the only possible alternative to it is to accept Seretse Khama as Chief despite the risks that attach to that aproach, as they do to the handling of all these African problems. Certainly in many of them enormous risks hang on a decision. I repeat that the only possible alternative to the five-year trial period would be the acceptance of Seretse Khama as Chief.
What were the reasons advanced for the five-year trial period? The first one is that Seretse Khama acted imprudently and precipitously, and with lack of counsel in his marriage. That might be a reason for delaying his advancement to the chieftainship because he is a young man in whom imprudence, particularly in such a matter, is a venal offence, but it could not possibly be advanced as a reason sufficient in itself for excluding him forever from the chieftainship.
The other reason advanced was that it might be possible during these five years to develop an improved form of Government in Bechuanaland, but that is exactly what the Government say they cannot do without a Chief. The line may be taken that we do not care very much for African chieftainship as an intrument of government and that something more modern is wanted.
There are reasons for saying, "We cannot get along in managing the affairs of the African people without paying regard to the deep-rooted views of the African people." But this solution is neither the one nor the other. It is to be the solution of a chieftainship but a chieftainship which can have no roots in the people, nor can it have the influence and the sanction of tradition behind it. There is 932 no justification, either in justice or in expediency, for this solution.
I say to the Members of the Government and to their supporters behind them—"Be as loud and critical as you like of the late Government, but having rejected the solution which the late Government adopted and which we are now told is unworkable, you should seek a decision which does not offend human justice, as the permanent exclusion of Seretse Khama must do, and which does not offend against common sense, as does the attempt to create a kind of synthetic chieftainship, which has no reason or sense behind it.
We have been told with great emphasis by the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what the decision of the Government is. May I say here that we in this House hold the hon. and learned Gentleman in the greatest respect, and we know that he is anxious in this matter, as in all matters, to reach a right and just solution. That is why we were profoundly distressed to hear of this decision from his lips. He has told us that this decision has not been influenced by the wishes or policy of Dr. Malan, but the policy of Dr. Malan's Government in the Union of South Africa is one of the great factors affecting not only the Union of South Africa but African politics and African government throughout that country.
One may say, as did the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale, that Dr. Malan's governance of South Africa is for the South African people to determine, but we cannot divide the world up in that manner. A policy which affects the rights of the Africans is bound to create problems for us as the Power which rules over so many African subjects.
Nobody wants to point to the divisions of policy between the different countries of the Commonwealth with any pleasure but there is no good dodging the fact that the policy adopted by Dr. Malan's Government differs from the policy of any British Government, not merely in degree and in detail, but in a fundamental principle. It has always been the rule of our Government that we should work to a position where there is complete equality of rights between men, whatever the colour of their skins. Some may say that we have advanced towards that goal 933 too slowly, but at least we have held that that was where we were going.
Dr. Malan does not hold with that view. His Government is based on the principle of the permanent inferiority of the black man, and, by a horrible perversion of Holy Scripture, Divine authority is claimed for that. Anything that we do in Africa after a decision of this kind must inevitably be interpreted as a personal injustice to Seretse and an affront to his people who want him there.
It is bound to convince a great many Africans, who do not have the advantage, which we will have of hearing the Under-Secretary on this subject, that the policy of the Government as announced today is a victory for the doctrine which inspires Dr. Malan's Government, and to which any British Government, by their very nature, must be opposed. That is why the decision, if it is persisted in, is liable to have frightful consequences.
I am sorry to see the attendance in the House tonight. The decision we are making is one of the greatest that this Parliament has been called upon to make. We are now at a great watershed of history. I believe the Government are making a decision that will turn British Imperial development and human development down a wrong and disastrous turning. I beg the Minister and his colleagues in the Government to think again on the matter, and to think of the frightful consequences on African opinion that will follow from this decision.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
It is monstrous that the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), should accuse my hon. and right hon. Friends who form part of the present Government of making this decision to which he attaches such immense importance. The decision, as the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said, was made by the Administration of which the hon. Gentleman was a member last year and the year before. Therefore, if all these considerations were so important to his mind at that time, why did he not take the action that anybody would who felt strongly and sincerely on these matters and go into the Lobby with the Liberal Party, some of his own colleagues, and many others like myself from our benches?
§ Mr. M. Stewart
The decision taken by the present Government excludes Seretse permanently. That was not the decision taken by the late Government. I do not think the Government Front Bench would say that it was. If the hon. Gentleman says that the decision of the present Government follows logically from that of the late Government, perhaps he will develop the argument and show how that comes about.
§ Mr. Alport
The point is quite clear. Not only did the late Government make the decision, but they recognised, in the White Paper, that they were doing it. They said "at least five years," but there was every prospect, and they knew it perfectly well, that at the end of five years there would merely be another extension of five years. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
The decision that my noble Friend has had to make on this occasion has clearly been made in the best of faith in order to do right as far as possible both by the tribe and by the individuals concerned. It has been made necessary for him to do it because of the mishandling of the situation right from the beginning—not simply when the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) was in occupation of the office, but before that when his predecessor was in office.
Why did the tribe change, between the first kgotla and the second kgotla, from opposing Seretse to supporting him? The reason was the indecision in supporting the original decision of the kgotla. Had it been made clear to the tribesmen of the Reserve that they would get the support of His Majesty's Government, as it was at that time, I have not the slightest doubt that what was decided at that first kgotla would have held good to the present time.
What happened? The dynastic quarrel which had been going on in the Bamangwato for many years took a new turn. The opportunity had arisen to oust from his position Tshekedi Khama, one of the most outstanding Africans of our time, just as his father was one of the outstanding Africans of his time. It was an opportunity to get rid of Tshekedi, who was a firm governor and a firm father of his people to them, and of putting in the opposite faction. That is precisely what happened. Anybody who knows Africa, as hon. Gentlemen opposite 935 know it, will realise that it is easy in those places for quarrels within a tribe suddenly to change the point of view of the tribesmen, especially when, as in this case, the leadership of a not very popular but an exceedingly efficient and outstanding African was at issue.
What has happened tonight is that hon. Gentlemen opposite are taking sides, not so much on a great issue of principle but in a dynastic quarrel in a tribe in a British Protectorate.
§ Mr. Alport
No, I have only a short time. There have been a number of speeches from that side of the House and very few from this, and I have to sit down in five minutes.
What has been so unfortunate and unhappy throughout this controversy has been the fact that emotions which so often present themselves on the other side of the House when matters of this kind arise have inflated the problem from the real issue, which concerns a tribe, to the gigantic issue of race relations and the colour bar. That is not the basis on which we tonight should be judging this question. We should consider first of all the position of the tribe.
What, after all, would have been the situation in the tribe in five years' time had the ruling given by the previous Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations held? Does the hon. Gentleman really think that it would have been possible to put back Seretse after that long time? Does he really think that, in spite of all the lack of contact Seretse would have had during those five years, and with the changes and developments in the political life and institutions and point of view of the Africans, he would have been able to go back and become the effective leader which that tribe must have, particularly when that tribe, on the admission of the late Government, was restless and divided and would have continued to be so had this ruling held?
What really was happening was that the late Government, finding itself in a quandary, was merely postponing making an inevitable decision, hoping against hope that something would happen to get it off the horns of the dilemma on which it was impaled. What did the Government do? Not only did it do a 936 great injustice to the tribe but also to Seretse himself. If, as the Government knew, he could never go back there, why did it not have the courage to tell him so straight away? Why did it not make it possible for him, a young man not to waste a year or two years of his life, as has happened, but to get on with making a career for himself in some other sphere where his services might have been of the greatest value?
That, after all, is what my right hon. and noble Friend has done. He has acted fairly with Seretse. He has told him the truth as he sees it, in the interests of the tribe and of Seretse himself. What is more, he has issued to Seretse a challenge. I have never met him, so it is not for me to say whether he should take it up or not, but it seems to me to be a reasonable challenge. It is that in the event of his showing that he has all the capacities, if the situation is such that in due course his banishment from his own tribe—not from the chieftainship but from his own country—should not be perpetual, after an alternative Chief is securely established in the native administration, Seretse and his wife can return.
That, surely, disposes once and for all of the accusation that this is connected with the mixed marriage. This is an issue which affects the individual, the chieftainship and the tribe, and it is on that basis alone that we judge it tonight.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Driberg (Maldon)
I have promised to condense a number of points into a very few minutes, and so I hope I shall be excused if my speech is rather disjointed and I do not give way to interruptions.
I thought that a rather unworthy personal smear was made by the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) when he said that Seretse Khama is, or must be, by now what he described as a nervous wreck. That is completely untrue, as any who have had the pleasure of meeting Seretse Khama in the last few days, or even this evening, will know perfectly well.
I now come to the statement made this afternoon by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. There are one or two points upon which I should like to comment. It contains more than once, quite rightly, the word "promised," 937 "The White Paper … promised review …"Surely, it can be understood that to the people in Africa it is quite evident that Her Majesty's Government are breaking that promise. They do not distinguish clearly, as we do here, between one Government and another. They simply know that it is the British Government—His or Her Majesty's Government—that are breaking a promise once given.
My next point on the statement is that there is a somewhat dishonest understatement about halfway through it, where, as with an apparent concession, the hon. and learned Gentleman said:It is true that a considerable proportion of the tribespeople have on occasion demonstrated their readiness to designate Seretse as chief.Note the expressions, "considerable proportion," "on occasion" and "their readiness." In fact, that means, as I have no doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, that probably 98 or 99 per cent. of them demand him, and have demanded him, as Chief, not merely on occasion, but at every kgotla held since the British intervention.
There is a rather material point towards the end of the statement. I cannot help feeling that if a statement of this kind is being put out today, or whenever it may be, to the tribe, in a way the Government are trying to put a sort of bluff across the Bamangwato. The statement says that the Governmenthave decided that their predecessors' refusal to recognise Seretse must be confirmed and made permanent and final …I should have thought—I speak subject to correction by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has much more legal knowledge than I have—that it could not just be done by an ipse dixit of that kind but that an Order in Council would be needed, and that that in itself would not be an irrevocable act and could not be described as permanent and final, since, obviously, no Government or Parliament can commit absolutely its successors. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will deal with that point in his reply.
There are many things in the speeches made by hon. Members opposite on which I should have liked to comment. One thing that, surely, is quite clear is that it is true that all this trouble has had a bad effect on the unity and morale 938 of the tribe. They had been torn by dissension. But there is one thing, and only one thing, that does unite the tribe, and that is their demand for the return of Seretse. That is the only basis of unity. I, with some of my hon. Friends, have always maintained throughout the last year or two, throughout all this troubled business, that the only satisfactory solution of the problem was to allow both Tshekedi and Seretse to return.
Right at the end of the statement there is a slightly hypocritical indication or promise:that Seretse Khama should absent himself … until an alternative chief has been securely established with his own native administration.Will any District Commissioner in the foreseeable future take the responsibility of saying that the alternative Chief is so securely established that it is safe for Seretse to go back? I do not think that as things are he will, and I think the tribe will break up and rend internally into a number of groups of squabbling king makers if Seretse does not go back.
I understand that Seretse Khama refuses this job in Jamaica. His reasons for doing so are honourable. One of them is that he says Jamaica is, after all, a much more advanced country than Bechuanaland and there are many educated and skilled Jamaicans, and he does not see why he should do one of them out of a job which they could do perfectly well.
The whole statement and atmosphere of speeches of hon. Members opposite are nauseatingly hypocritical because everyone knows it is the welfare and interest of the tribe which ought to be paramount. But what has been paramount in this business throughout is the disgusting racial prejudice of Dr. Malan.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I regard the wider question, of which the statement we are debating tonight is a part, as a very difficult one. There have been divisions of opinion on our side of the House about this problem, and indeed on the other side, too, on some aspects of it. We are certainly not inclined to think that there is any easy and simple solution which would settle the whole thing in a moment.
939 But, although I make that approach to it, I can find no excuse for the unholy mess the Government seem to be making of this whole problem. The statement which the hon. and learned Gentleman read this afternoon has been very carefully drafted to try to tie up the decision which it announces with the previous decisions of the Labour Government. They are thereby trying to cover up the nakedness of what they are doing themselves. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), to whom we are very grateful for raising the matter, said, if we read the statement with any care we find there are, in spite of the careful drafting, extremely important departures from the policy of the previous Government.
There is all the difference in the world between saying, as we did, that it is a very difficult problem to face, so let us have an interlude of five years so that the situation may settle down and they may even choose a third chief—it is certainly a possibility—and we can look at it again in the light of events. There is all the difference in the world between saying that and what the statement says, that this is permanent and final and there is no more flexibility nor chance of adjustment.
Moreover, this has been done in a way calculated to make the worst possible impression in the tribe. The statement, in that it contains a studied disregard of the express views of the tribe, almost looks as if the Government were going out of their way to provoke the known views of the tribe in this matter. Here there is also a great and complete departure from the policy we announced and carried out on this side of the House. Our policy was to exclude both Seretse and Tshekedi Khama for a period of at least five years in order to give a chance for the tribe, which had been much troubled, to settle down and also to enable more representative institutions to be developed.
The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) asked what we would have done at the end of it all, but there has been a very great interruption of the course of things as we had intended and hoped they would go. I must say outright that the chances of the tribe settling down, the chances of developing representative 940 Government, were very gravely prejudiced by the other side of the House for party advantage.
First of all the Prime Minister took the Motion that the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) had on the Order Paper about Tshekedi Khama, changed it, and used it in order to try to beat the Government. On our side of the House there were clear views, and the Liberal party had extremely strong views. But on the other side the present Prime Minister was taking this as something which he thought he could use to beat the Government.
Then came the issue of this statement which has no relation at all to the sort of things they were saying in this House and in another place when we discussed the question of Tshekedi. The Motion was moved in this House, and in another place by the present Secretary of State who committed himself to a number of statements of principle about this very matter which he has certainly violated today. He said:A British citizen should not be deprived or restricted in his rights and liberties except as a result of some offence of which he has been convicted under the law.And he made great play with that. He said:We have to take into account far wider considerations than merely local administration.The whole of this White Paper disregards both those principles enunciated on 27th June in another place by the present Secretary of State.
I think those two debates were the turning point in the problem with which we now have to deal. Undoubtedly, the disorders which broke out in the tribe, the consequences of which we still feel, were connected with that debate, and the irresponsible course on which the present Government set itself for party advantage has led it to the present position in which it is. They have allowed Tshekedi Khama to go back, but Seretse Khama is kept out. That is awakening the alarm of the tribe. It is awakening a fear that the Government wanted Tshekedi Khama as chief if he was sent back while Seretse Khama is kept out. That was made clear in the reports of the observers and at a meeting of which I have a record between the High Commissioner and the leaders of the tribe in Serowe on 19th December.
941 Fears have been awakened by the acts of the Government of which this statement is the final completion. These fears cannot be resolved by mere words. Then after awakening all these fears that the Government will force Tshekedi Khama back on the tribe comes this decision, and it is against the background of all that that we have to consider the matter. This will confirm the very worst suspicions of the tribe.
My hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) said the White Paper containing provisos has been the one stable factor in the whole situation. Now it is, in effect, torn up, but the net result is that the tribe is getting the complete and total opposite of what they want and have constantly made clear that they want. Some things were disregarded before, but now they have everything opposite to what they want, and that is what the Government has done largely because of the position it took up for party advantage on an earlier occasion. I must tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that it makes the chances of another chief being chosen very slight indeed.
That is the basis on which this whole statement of policy rests, and the chance is now very slight. Indeed, if we take into account the steps which the Government have taken since they have been in office, they are really making nonsense of their own policy and showing themselves to be extraordinarily clumsy and inept.
I should like to say a few words about the offer of employment for Seretse Khama. There is much to be said for an offer of employment in itself. Of course, it is for him to accept it or not. I want to make two comments about it. First, there are many other places besides Jamaica, some of them far preferable, where offers of employment could be made. Secondly, and this is much more serious, to combine the offer of employment with a deposition—because that is what it amounts to, although it is not legally and technically that—from the chieftainship and all the rights of chieftainship, really is an offer which it is extremely difficult for any honourable man to accept.
This is putting forward an offer in a way which makes it practically unacceptable. There again, the Government are 942 contradicting their own policy. There is something to be said for making an offer of this sort: there is nothing to be said for putting it forward in a way which makes it derisory.
Again, I must ask the hon. Gentleman about the timing of the actual announcement. I mentioned this at Question time today. I cannot overcome my invincible suspicion that this is designed to forestall the deputation that is coming from the tribe, and to give the Secretary of State ground for the ill-advised decision that he took not to see this deputation which has already been announced.
I do not know, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us, whether or not this deputation has actually left, but it is at least on the point of leaving. That makes it all the more suspicious, if this statement goes out a day or so before they are due to leave, that this timing has this shabby end in view. It is really unworthy of the Government of this great country that it should time things like this in order to forestall deputations. In any case, the deputation ought to be seen.
On this side of the House we certainly do not necessarily identify ourselves with the view of the deputation. Indeed, nobody knows exactly the view of the deputation. But the deputation with strong feelings like this, and after all these troubles in the tribe, is ready to come over to this country at its own expense. When the Secretary of State who is responsible for them announces that he will not see them, and then issues a statement like this, which is in order to forestall their departure and to make their arrival nugatory, that really is most unworthy.
The decision not to see this deputation was made, of course, by the previous Secretary of State I hope that it might be possible, without loss of face, for the new Secretary of State to think about it again. This is not the whole big issue. It is only a small issue in relation to all the others, but it is a matter of some importance. We on this side of the House attach importance to it. If the Government do not change their minds, they will be going deliberately out of their way to flout the tribe; to flout their known views; to trample upon them; to give the impression that they really pay 943 no attention at all to them, and that they have no concern with their views.
That is the general impression given by the whole statement of the measures taken before it comes—that there has been a grave and dangerous flouting of the views of the tribe, that a situation has now been created which is calculated to have the worst possible effect on the tribe. I do not want to say anything more, because words can become misrepresented as they get carried across the world. We cannot possibly agree with, or associate ourselves with, the statement we heard this afternoon. It is in itself a very grave departure in very many respects from our own policy. It is in itself unwise, unnecessary and ill-timed. Even if we accepted the premises from which the Government depart, it is still contradictory and likely to be very dangerous indeed.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)
The debate has covered a number of varying arguments and has ranged over a fairly wide compass. I am not complaining about that. There is a genuine division of opinion among hon. Members opposite. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have different views about the way in which the problem of this tribe could be settled. It has happened in other matters also that this division has occurred.
I want, first of all, to deal with the matter on the footing that right hon. Gentlemen opposite accept the decision of the White Paper, and to see exactly what the Government have done today. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite sought to say that the decision of the Government today was entirely different from the one in the White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down was making that point, and so was the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg).
The decision of the White Paper was to exclude Seretse from the chieftainship, and to review that decision after a period which would certainly not be less than five years. During that period, the White Paper said that it was hoped that representative institutions would be developed of the sort described in the White Paper, and which the hon. Gentleman envisaged 944 when he spoke in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill last year; but it has been proved impossible to develop these institutions without having a chief. The object of the White Paper could not be achieved because it was found that, in the tribe itself, in order to form the African Council which it was the policy both of the previous Government and of this Government to form, nobody would come forward unless there was a chief around whom to group this council which the White Paper hoped would be formed.
One of the main bases of the reason in the White Paper for coming to this decision and leaving the chieftainship open was falsified, and the object of the Government today, which is the wellbeing of the tribe on the lines laid down in the White Paper, has been advanced along those lines. In my submission, the decision which has been reached today to make the exclusion of Seretse permanent is one that does logically follow from the decision of the White Paper, because the hopes which were expressed have not come true.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite also sought to say that one of the reasons why the Government had been inept or clumsy in this case was the timing. I would assure the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) that, in the period in which the previous Secretary of State, Lord Ismay, was in office, this matter took up more of his time than any other single subject in the Commonwealth Relations Office. There were more meetings and discussions about this than any other single subject.
§ Mr. Benn
May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman one question? If this matter was discussed so much, how is it that Seretse only knew that the matter was under consideration last Monday, four days ago; and, secondly, why, if the Secretary of State was so keen to reach the right solution, he announced that he would not meet the delegation from the Bamangwato tribe?
§ Mr. Foster
This Government regarded the matter as one on which they must make up their own minds, and in that they differed from the previous Government. With regard to the question of timing, the hon. Gentleman suggests that the same course should be followed by this Government as was taken 945 by the previous Government, namely, that they should oscillate and vacillate, not come down on any decision, but put it off. It will be remembered that, in the first kgotla of November, 1948, the tribe came down against Seretse. If it was right to exclude Seretse—and I am arguing this part of the case on the assumption that is was right—then this was the time, in November, 1948, for the decision to have been taken so as to end the uncertainty in the tribe.
The second occasion on which the Labour Government should have come to this decision was when the result of the Commission of Inquiry was known to them. As was said in the White Paper, they, too, came down on the same side and unanimously advised against the recognition of Seretse. Even when the White Paper was issued, a compromise was adopted of not making the decision final, with very bad results to the tribe. Instead of taking that final decision, the Government said it would be reviewed in five years and at the same time sent out three observers.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
The hon. and learned Gentleman has said something which I think is of profound importance. A question was put to him about it in the opening speech—why could not this matter have waited for two or three weeks, at the most? Why could not the Government have waited to make up their minds until they had received and heard the deputation? I gather that, in reply, the hon. and learned Gentleman said, "That is the difference between our Government and the last Government. We make up our minds." Does that mean that in all questions affecting the African Colonies the Government intend to make up their minds without receiving representations from the native populations?
§ Mr. Foster
The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. The question was in two parts and I was answering that part about timing. I will come to the question of the deputation in a moment. I need not recapitulate what I said, but it was in answer to criticisms suggesting that the Government had timed this decision in order to coincide with certain events in South Africa. The time-table was laid down before those events happened; it had nothing to do with them; it is not connected with them; and I 946 think the hon. Member concerned did a disservice to the well-being and the unity of the tribe by connecting the two things or imputing that, in the view of the Government, those things were connected.
In fact, I believe it can be said that some of the remarks made in the debate are not calculated to assist the tribe in the object we all have in mind—the achievement of unity and well-being. I do not mean that there should be no criticism advanced and no arguments, but I criticise the way of presenting them and I think that, in the case of one or two passages, it would have been better to have expressed them not exactly in that way.
The situation about the deputation is this. When I intervened, I said we knew that the majority of the tribe at present would almost certainly express their preference for Seretse Khama. The exact majority is, I think, a little more in doubt than the hon. Member for Maldon said, because it is a long time since the kgotla was held and he probably has not taken into account the followers of Tshekedi who are in the Reserve—those of them who were silenced by the rather energetic and vociferous minority. We might differ quite honestly about the size of the majority. The hon. Gentleman said it was 90 per cent. I should have thought it was lower.
I agree, as I did in my intervention, however, that probably a decisive majority, as is said in the White Paper, was in favour of Seretse at the previous kgotla. We know what the deputation would have said. They would have come along and said, "A decisive majority of the tribe want the return of Seretse Khama." I am dealing with the point of whether the deputation could have added anything new to the arguments or to our knowledge. We knew what they were going to talk about. They have their constitutional methods of making known their wishes through their district officers and the commissioners to the High Commissioner in South Africa. Their views have been expressed, and what they amount to is, as I say, that a majority of the tribe wish the return of Seretse Khama.
§ Mrs. White
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware that in recent discussions in December and January last with the Resident Commissioner and the 947 High Commissioner, representatives of the tribe, according to the records of this discussion which I have, expressed very strongly the feeling which they had that Tshekedi himself had always been received in London and had had his case very fully discussed in London—and as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, I have myself been a supporter of Tshekedi. It was, therefore, not unnatural, perhaps, for those persons to fear that possibly their views might not have received attention in London.
§ Mr. Foster
Obviously, that is a perfectly sound point, but the difference between the two has been explained to the tribe. The difference is this, that Tshekedi's views were excluded by the majority of the kgotla. They did not allow the minority to have any views. The hon. Lady probably remembers what I am alluding to—that when the observers went out Tshekedi's partisans and followers were not allowed to express their views. Therefore, to my mind, and, I hope, to the minds of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that is reason for allowing Tshekedi to come over here—
§ Mrs. White
May I carry my point a little bit farther? Tshekedi's views were not indeed expressed publicly in the kgotla of the tribe, but they were expressed—and expressed cogently, I believe—to the representatives of the late Government.
§ Mr. Foster
Yes, but they were not allowed to be expressed within the Reserve, and it was thought right that they should be allowed to be expressed here. Also it will be remembered that a distinction was made in the White Paper between Tshekedi and Seretse. In the case of Tshekedi, he was excluded only from the Reserve; in the case of Seretse, he was excluded from the whole of the Protectorate. I submit to the hon. Lady that the case was not at all the same, and that it was also necessary to have Tshekedi here in order to explain the terms that were offered to him. It could not be done at all that distance. It was necessary for the Secretary of State to see him, just as he had to see Seretse, and put forward the terms that he should go back to the Protectorate in due time, giving up all political activities.
948 Of course, that is again where—I am making no complaint about it—hon. Members opposite seem to differ. Some of them are in favour of the Government's decision to allow Tshekedi to go back; and some, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), are not in favour, because, as he argues, by sending Tshekedi back we shall give the impression that we are trying to make Tshekedi the chief of the Bamangwato tribe.
The policy which has been laid down by my noble Friends, is that it should be made perfectly clear to the tribe that there is no intention of allowing Tshekedi to assume the position of chief, or, in fact, any political position at all in the Reserve. I submit that that is one of the definite steps of the policy by which we are trying to achieve this unity, well-being and progress of the tribe. The first step is to remove an injustice to Tshekedi and allow him to go back, but taking no part in politics. The second step is to end the uncertainty of the tribe caused by the vacuum of having no chief round whom to group themselves.
I agree that this is the responsibility of the Government, and it is the responsibility of the whole Government and the whole Cabinet, and not the responsibility of one Minister or another. The second step is to support the conclusions in the White Paper as to the reasons why Seretse should not be chief of the Bamangwato tribe. But making the exclusion permanent instead of temporary is necessitated by the fact that until the Bamangwato have a chief round whom to group themselves they can be in no position to make the progress we want, and the administration must be faced with insuperable difficulties in their day-to-day administration of the tribe. It is for that reason that, ever since this Government came into office, my noble Friend has given such anxious and close attention to the situation of the Bamangwato tribe.
If hon. Gentlemen opposite suspect that there is any dark political reason, or the desire for party advantage, as the right hon. Member for Smethwick said, let us examine that. What party advantage could we get today by running into all this trouble from hon. Members opposite? Others have said that we were trying to carry out a manoeuvre for the 949 advantage of the party. If we are looking for a quiet life and the possibility of not raising any more arguments, opposition or criticism than possible, why not let the thing go for five years? Unless the reason was the good of the tribe, what earthly reason was there—
§ Mr. Foster
I will deal with that in a moment. What earthly reason was there for us to run into this trouble? The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) says that it might have been for the benefit of somebody else. By that I presume he meant the benefit of Dr. Malan. I imagine he means that, otherwise I cannot answer what he says.
§ Mr. Foster
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman, even with his fertile and twisting mind—I mean no disrespect to him; I mean one that is very subtle—can find any reason why—I am sorry the hon. Gentleman should leave the Chamber, because I genuinely did not mean any disrespect to him, except to say that he has got a very flexible mind, which sometimes approaches a thing from all angles.
§ Mr. Foster
I am only trying to apologise to the hon. Gentleman who has left, if he took any remark of mine as meaning any disrespect.
§ Mr. Foster
If the hon. Gentleman says it was clumsy, I admit it. I did not mean it that way. I think I ought to deal with the point he made. I do not think that anybody could imagine any reason why at this moment we should make the exclusion permanent instead of temporary to please any interest in South Africa. There is no advantage from that, and no possible reason why it would appeal to any people in South Africa more than the decision arrived at in the White Paper. That is the point I wanted to make to the hon. Gentleman, who I regret has left the Chamber. He cannot, I believe, give any reason why changing the decision of the White Paper from a 950 temporary but almost certainly permanent exclusion, subject to five years' review, into a permanent and final exclusion would be to the interests of South Africa.
Coming back to the main line of the argument before I was deflected by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, I should like to say that the reasons given by the right hon. Member for Smethwick in one of the debates for disregarding the decision of the kgotla are, in my view, just as strong today as they were then. He probably remembers the passage in which he put forward the view that the kgotlas were one factor but not the overriding factor. He said:We must give due weight to the kgotlas, but it cannot be argued that if we have the final duty of preserving good Government in this territory and of preserving its integrity, we must accept without question, the decision of a kgotla as if it were a Parliament in Britain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1950; Vol. 473, c. 352.]The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery also made a point that it was for the Protector to come to a decision. The views of the kgotla were one of the factors which must be examined, but if the reasons given in the White Paper for excluding Seretse from chieftainship were accepted, then the views of the tribe to that extent must be disregarded. The right hon. Member for Smethwick went on to say:It is perfectly fair to argue that we ought not, in the circumstances, to have ignored or overridden a kgotla, but it is not right and fair to argue that we had no right to do so and to come to the decision we did. I think the argument, therefore, must be upon the question whether we were, in fact, justified, as the hon. Member for Oxford said, in coming to this decision which we had a right to come to.The reasons for our decision are set out in the White Paper and I do not want to traverse the whole ground again. It is that, in our view, having taken all evidence we could, and having consulted all opinions we could, the unity of the tribe was better served by the suspension of the recognition of Seretse Khama as chief. In our view, there were and would be, if he were recognised, grave dangers of a serious, continuing division and split among these peoples."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1950; Vol. 473, c. 353.]So the decision which the Government came to was, first of all, to send Tshekedi back without taking any part in politics, and the second, to make the decision of the White Paper permanent instead of 951 temporary, and I think that hon. Gentlemen can well imagine how unsatisfactory a decision that was to say that a young men and his wife were not to know for certain whether they were to be permanently excluded or not.
If we look at the reasons in the White Paper—and I think the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), was dealing with that point, and there was some challenge back and forth across the House—I would draw his attention to the fact that the reasons given on page six on the White Paper included these words:The tendency in this tribe to disputes about the succession would be aggravated by uncertainty as to their future attitude towards the children of the marriage.There is nothing in the world in the five years which could have cured that. There is no development in the five years which could have indicated the future decision of the tribe before it was time to review the decision about Seretse. The other reasons given on page six of the White Paper were that Seretse had shown himself to be unmindful of the tribe, and that:Peaceful administration would have become increasingly difficult.It is a question of either coming to the conclusion that Seretse should be excluded for ever or of not having exclusion at all. There was no justification in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government for making this exclusion temporary.
The third conclusion in the Government's policy was, of course, a very important one—the one about the future and standing of Seretse himself. I should have thought that right hon. and hon. Members on the other side of the House would have taken the view that to make the exclusion of Seretse dependent upon this very ambiguous condition that it would be reviewed not until five years had elapsed was very hard on him as a human being.
Seretse came to London. He passed part of his Bar examinations, but he did not pass another part, and it may well be that not passing it was due to the uncertainty of his position. I agree with the hon. Member for Maldon that the description "a nervous wreck" does not fit Seretse. I have met him and enjoyed his company, and I have tried to help him pass his Bar exams.
952 A friend of mine, who is a fellow of a college, offered to tutor him in an honorary capacity. I also got in touch with the Bar Council, who are always glad to help the Council for Legal Education in showing where a candidate is particularly weak. They may say, "You are weak on real property but not on equity." I hope that if Seretse continues with his Bar exams, my small efforts will help him to success.
The Government was anxious that Seretse should have a successful and full career. I am still on the footing that the decision in the White Paper to exclude him was right. I know that hon. Members will say that the best way of fulfilling his career is to allow him to return to the Reserve, but I am dealing not with hon. Members who hold that view but with those who supported, and support, the decision in the White Paper.
The decision was to offer him employment in Jamaica. That was where there was a vacancy. It was not a question of creating a post for Seretse. It was a post which was vacant.
§ Mr. Foster
It was the post of an Administrative Assistant in the Colonial Service in the salary range of £770—£920, with a prospect of promotion to the post of Assistant Secretary, and after a probationary period of one year he would be established and pensionable, and he would, naturally, also have the rights of a Colonial civil servant with regard to the widows' and pensions funds, overseas leave and so on.
§ Mr. Griffiths
This is a narrow but very important point. Do I understand from the hon. and learned Gentleman that from the very wide range of the Colonial Service the only vacancy at this moment is in Jamaica?
§ Mr. Foster
No, but one has to choose a vacancy which one thinks is best suited to him and then offer it to him. It must be remembered that one cannot very well offer a whole range of posts at a given moment, because one has to—
§ Mr. Griffiths
In considering what post to offer, did the Government decide that no post in Africa could be offered?
§ Mr. Foster
The Government approached the matter in rather a different 953 way. They found the vacancy in Jamaica, which appeared very suitable. Arguments could be advanced either way. It might be said that if he were present in the African Continent the tribe might still look to him as Chief. I am answering the right hon. Gentleman's question on the footing that the Government's decision to exclude Seretse permanently from the chieftainship of the Bamangwato is right, on the footing that the tribe would continually look to him if there is any uncertainty or possibility in their minds of him going back. So the policy of Her Majesty's Government is to exclude him altogether and make it permanent and final subject, of course, to the right of subsequent Governments to alter—
§ Mr. Foster
Because if they do not do that the Bamangwato tribe will still be unable to progress in the way in which we want them to because they would be in a permanent state of unrest.
§ Mr. Driberg
The hon. and learned Gentleman rode off very airily with "subject, of course," and so on. That was the point I asked him about. How is this going to be put to the tribe? Is this statement being read to them today or tomorrow, and will they be told that this decision is permanent, final and irrevocable?
§ Mr. Foster
To my mind it would be the greatest disservice to the tribe to say that Her Majesty's Government have come to this decision, and then to say, Of course, you can always hope that some other Government will get into power and undo this decision." Hon. Gentlemen opposite know what the word "permanent" means in the context of a sovereign legislature.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman realise that Seretse Khama is going to Jamaica under a cloud, and can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us what steps are to be taken to dissipate that cloud so as to enable this gentleman to have a fair start and a fair chance in Jamaica?
§ Mr. Foster
I think he will, and the only slight cloud is what is in the White Paper. That is a question of record.
§ Mr. Foster
His expulsion, as the hon. and learned Gentleman calls it, follows naturally from the decision of the White Paper, and I should like to pay tribute to the Governor and his Council in Jamaica for the way in which they have welcomed the appointment of Seretse, and to say that in no sense can it be regarded as a bribe or anything degrading, both of which words were used in this debate. The offer of employment in Jamaica was made entirely bona fide, and it is an interesting job which Seretse Khama will have. In addition to his other income, he will have that from his property in Bechuanaland, and if he accepts the job as I still hope he will, it remains open to him—
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
Why is the offer confined to Jamaica? Was there no suitable opening in Saint Helena?
§ Mr. Foster
I do not think that that sort of intervention helps the well-being and unity of the Bamangwato tribe. As I said, hon. Gentlemen opposite are entitled to put forward their arguments, but to say that there are motives which are unjustified is against the good government of this tribe and against the cause we have at heart.
In the last few minutes I want to turn to the arguments of some hon. Gentlemen who ask, why not send Seretse back? Put in a nutshell, this Government thinks that the decision in the White Paper was correct, and it is for those gentlemen who disagree to take issue with their own friends and say, as some of them have said, that the decision was wrong and unworthy of the Labour Party.
I want to pick out an observation made by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, who said that Seretse had been sent to Jamaica. The intervention just made also indicated the same point, implying that Seretse had been banished, as Napoleon was. Seretse has not been sent or banished to Jamaica. He has not to go there unless he wants to. He can stay in this country. It is quite true that he cannot go home. We think that the decision of the White Paper excluding him from the chieftainship was right, and that the decision to make it subject to a review in not less than five years hence was entirely wrong.
§ Mr. Brockway
Since the hon. and learned Member has referred to me, may I ask whether Seretse will be allowed to return to Africa? He need not go to Jamaica and he can go anywhere, but will be be allowed to go to parts of Africa other than Bechuanaland?
§ Mr. Foster
I must say that I had not thought of that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] In the discussions, Seretse has not asked to go to other parts of Africa. When the question arises it will be dealt with. At the moment, the exclusion order applies to the Bechuanaland Protectorate. It may well be that he might be allowed to go to other parts of Africa, provided that the place is not such as to create uncertainty in the tribe.
§ Mr. Foster
Then the answer is that he can go there. We think that the decision in the White Paper was correct in principle, but was wrong in application
§ because it did an injustice to Tshekedi which we have remedied. I have not noticed any word of praise for that from those who otherwise approve of our action. Those who hold the view that Seretse should go back should realise that it would militate against the objectives which we all have in view, the wellbeing and unity of the tribe.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock
On a point of personal explanation. In regard to one remark about Seretse being a nervous wreck which I made in my speech, I hope that I did not say anything that was hurtful. I meant that Seretse was feeling very disturbed.
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 286; Noes 308.959
|Division No. 51.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Coldrick, W.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Adams, Richard||Collick, P. H.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Albu, A. H.||Cook, T. F.||Glanville, James|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gooch, E. G.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cove, W. G.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Crosland, C. A. R.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Grey, C. F.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Daines, P.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Baird, J.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Grimond, J.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Bence, C. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Benson, G.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hannan, W.|
|Beswick, F.||Deer, G.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Delargy, H. J.||Hargreaves, A.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Dodds, N. N.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hastings, S.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Boardman, H.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Healy, Cahir (Fermanagh)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Edelman, M.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Holman, P.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Holt, A. F.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Ewart, R.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Burke, W. A.||Field, W. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fienburgh, W.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Finch, H. J.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Carmichael, J.||Follick, M.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Foot, M. M.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Forman, J. C.||Janner, B.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Clunie, J.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Oldfield, W. H.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Orbach, M.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Oswald, T.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Padley, W. E.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Paget, R. T.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Keenan, W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Kenyon, C.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pannell, Charles||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Parker, J.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Kinley, J.||Paton, J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Peart, T. F.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheatham)||Poole, C. C.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Popplewell, E.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Lewis, Arthur||Porter, G.||Timmons, J.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Tomney, F.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Turner-Samuels M.|
|Logan, D. G.||Proctor, W. T.||Ungoed-Tthomas, Sir Lynn|
|Longden, Fred (Small Heath)||Pryde, D. J.||Usborne, H. C.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Rankin, John||Wade, D. W.|
|McGovern, J.||Reeves, J.||Wallace, H. W.|
|McInnes, J.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Watkins, T. E.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|McLeavy, F.||Rhodes, H.||Weitzman, D.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Richards, R.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||West, D. G.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Ross, William||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Manuel, A. C.||Royle, C.||Wigg, G. E. C.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Schofield S (Barnsley)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Messer, F.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Short, E. W.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Monslow, W.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Morley, R.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Slater, J.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mort, D. L.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Moyle, A.||Snow, J. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Mulley, F. W.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Murray, J. D.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Yates, V. F.|
|Nally, W.||Sparks, J. A.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Steele, T.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bossom, A. C.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Braine, B. R.||Crouch, R. F.|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Crowder, John E. (Finchley)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Maj. W. J.||Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Cuthbert, W. N.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Browne, Jack (Govan)||De la Bère, R.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Deedes, W. F.|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Bullard, D. G.||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr J. M.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Bullus, Wing Cmdr. E. E.||Donner, P. W.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Burden, F. F. A.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Barber, A. P. L.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Douglas-Hamilton. Lord Malcolm|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Carson, Hon. E.||Drewe, C.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Cary, Sir Robert||Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Channon, H.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Cole, Norman||Erroll, F. J.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Colegate, W. A.||Fell, A.|
|Birch, Nigel||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Black, C. W.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fletcher, Walter (Bury)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Fort, R.||Lindsay, Martin||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Foster, John||Linstead, H. N.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Llewellyn, D. T.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Gage, C. H.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Russell, R. S.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Low, A. R. W.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W (Rochdale)|
|Godber, J. B.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||McAdden, S. J.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||McCallum, Major D.||Shepherd, William|
|Gower, H. R.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||McKibbin, A. J.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maclay, Hon. John||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Snadden, W. McN|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Speir, R. M.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hay, John||Markham, Maj. S. F.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Heald, Sir Lionel||Marples, A. E.||Storey, S.|
|Heath, Edward||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Maude, Angus||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Maudling, R.||Summers, G. S.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Mellor, Sir John||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Molson, A. H. E.||Teeling, W.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Hope, Lord John||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hopkinson, Henry||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nicholls, Harmar||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Tilney, John|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Touche, G. C.|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Oakshott, H. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Odey, G. W.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Osborne, C.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)||Partridge, E.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Jennings, R.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Wellwood, W.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Kaberry, D.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Pitman, I. J.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Powell, J. Enoch||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wills, G.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Profumo, J. D.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Rayner, Brig. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Redmayne, M.||Brigadier Mackeson and|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Mr. Butcher.|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.