§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I beg to move (under Standing Order No. 9),That this House do now adjourn.I wish to draw the attention of the House to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the decision of the Government to depose the Kabaka of Buganda and to require him to leave his territory.
I think most of us in the House were shocked when we heard the statement by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on Monday. We were aware that in Uganda there was a growing demand for self-government by 1960. There is a Governor in Uganda whom I think hon. Members admire, and for whom, I hope I may say, I have a personal friendship. I would suggest that the events which have taken place indicate that even in Colonies where we have the more progressive Governors today they cannot keep abreast with the tempo of African advance within the framework of the present colonial administration.
During this discussion we shall raise some doubts about the legality of the action which the Government have taken, but I propose to leave that to others who are greater authorities than I am in matters of law. I wish to begin by emphasising that I believe that we shall make a mistake if we regard this matter as one of a recalcitrant King. There is no doubt that in the attitude which the Kabaka has adopted he is reflecting his people and is reflecting the decisions of the Grand Council in Buganda, the Lukiko. The right hon. Gentleman said on Monday that the Lukiko is an advisory body to the Kabaka and pays the closest attention to his wishes. No one in the House will take the view that the Lukiko is a tame body doing just what the Kabaka advises.
I have been to Uganda twice. On the first occasion, four years ago, I met the elected members of the Lukiko. They were men of very decided views and they were not only critical of the Governor of that time but were also critical of the policy of the Kabaka in not being sufficiently advanced, and the House can take 1230 it for granted that if the Kabaka of Buganda has taken the action which has been described it is because he knows that the people of Buganda and the Lukiko, which is its Grand Council, are demanding that these steps should be taken.
I should say that the development which the right hon. Gentleman has announced has arisen from two fears among the people of the Buganda. The first is the fear that Central African Federation may be followed by East African federation. The second is the fear that the Uganda, which has been traditionally and historically an African State, may cease to be an African State.
In June, the right hon. Gentleman delivered a speech to the British Africa Club, in London. That speech was little reported in the British Press. Indeed, one had the impression that he had made an incidental and unconsidered remark. In fact, that speech was a carefully considered statement. I have a verbatim report of it in my hand. It began by arguing the political case for a larger geographical area; continued by urging the military case; concluded by advocating the economic case; and then that speech, which occupies two full pages in the "East Africa and Rhodesia" of 2nd July, ended with a much more elaborate declaration than the Secretary of State read to this House on Monday. I will read the exact words:You have seen in the controversies over Central African Federation where Her Majesty's Government stand in these matters. That Federation, both politically and economically, will be of immense benefit to the three Central African Territories is, I believe, an established and unshakable fact. Nor should we exclude from our minds the evolution as time goes on of still larger measures of unification, and possibly still larger measures of federation of the whole East African territories. This is the sort of idea which the man who gave his name to the Rhodesias would, I believe, have supported.That speech was blazoned in the whole Press of East Africa. [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] There were great headlines in the "East African Standard." I hold in my hand a copy of the "East Africa and Rhodesia" which says:Secretary of State Favours East African Federation.I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman understood what a dynamo of discontent that speech would start in East 1231 Africa where, at present, the overriding fear is one of a federation which would be under white domination?
In Central Africa, the fear of the African population was domination by the whites in the Rhodesias. In Uganda, the fear of the African population was domination by the whites in Kenya. In Uganda, there is little colour bar; in Kenya, it is rife. In Uganda, little ownership of land by Europeans; in Kenya, the White Highlands. And the fear of the people of Uganda, who have been given every ground for thinking that they are moving forward to the establishment of an African State, of a federation which would place them under white domination—that is the first source of the discontent which finds expression in the action of the Kabaka.
The very name federation has become so unpopular in Uganda that even social and economic organisations which included that name in their title are now striking it out because of their fear of unpopularity. The first issue of a new paper of the Uganda National Congress describes how, before a great meeting in Kampala, a book was publicly burned because it advocated federation. That is the background atmosphere to this situation, and for that atmosphere the Colonial Secretary is more responsible than anyone.
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he has given a reassurance to the Kabaka which the Kabaka has accepted. I will only say this: if the Kabaka is now satisfied with that reassurance, the people of Uganda have not yet been reassured, and because I want to make constructive proposals tonight, my first proposal arising out of this analysis is that a firm declaration should be made by the Government that East African federation is not intended by the Government or, if it is intended at a later stage, that it will not be imposed upon the people of East Africa without the consent of the African population through their representative organisations.
The second fear is that Uganda will not remain an African State. Already in that Protectorate there are 40,000 Asians and 5,000 Europeans. Now, because of mineral discoveries, such as the discovery of copper in the Mountains of the Moon, 1232 there is a fear of still further immigration, and it is in that situation that the African population is disturbed as to whether the advance, which has always been promised, towards becoming an African State, will be recognised or not.
These two fears have led to the two demands which have been voiced by the Kabaka. The first demand is a time limit for the independence of Buganda. The second demand is for the transference to the Foreign Office. I must say at once that I should regret the separation of Buganda from the rest of Uganda. If that demand has now arisen in Buganda, it is due to the fact that the two fears which I have described—of a white dominated federation and of a change in Uganda from its advance towards an African State—have closed the people in and retracted them upon themselves.
I do not believe that the secession of Buganda from Uganda is the real issue which we are discussing tonight. Other provinces are also demanding independence in the same way as Buganda has demanded it. The kings of other provinces have gone to the Governor with the same demand. I say, with some knowledge, that if the principle of full self-government were recognised for the whole of Uganda and a political plan negotiated with Africans to apply that principle, there would be no fear of any secession of Buganda. My second suggestion of a constructive kind, therefore, is that the Colonial Secretary, in further conversations with the Kabaka, should make this proposal to him. If this proposal were made I am quite sure that the danger of the secession of Buganda would be removed.
The second demand is for transference to the Foreign Office, and that demand arises because the original agreement of 1900 was made with the Foreign Office. I do not think it is a serious issue. One might say that the Foreign Office have done a very good job in the neighbouring territory of the Sudan, and I regret that in the recent elections they have not been more fully rewarded for it, but if Uganda or Buganda are to go forward to full self-government, the Commonwealth Relations Office would obviously be more appropriate for them than the Foreign Office. I have no doubt at all that if the principles which I have been urging in this situation were accepted, 1233 there would be no difficulty about this matter.
Finally, the complaint against the Kabaka is that he has declared his intention of refusing to nominate members to represent Buganda on the new Legislative Council. In that respect he is emphatically reflecting a popular view and a view which has been endorsed, indeed initiated, by the Lukiko itself. There is one small constitutional point which enters into this decision by the Lukiko. Under the Agreement of 1900, the Lukiko has the right to object to legislation passed in the Legislative Council, and the fear of the Lukiko is that if it has representation in the Legislative Council, that power of effective criticism will pass.
I am not pretending that that is the fundamental objection. The fundamental objection arises from the profound disappointment with the proposals which have been made for the new Constitution in Uganda and for the new Legislative Council. Let me give the composition of the Legislative Council, as it is now and as it will become. At present, 17 officials; in the new Legislative Council, 29 officials. At present, four Europeans; in the new Legislative Council, seven Europeans. In the present Legislative Council, four Asians; in the new Legislative Council, seven Asians. In the present Legislative Council, eight Africans; in the future Legislative Council, 14 Africans.
Summed up, that means that, apart from the official members, 5,000 Europeans will be represented by seven members, 40,000 Asians will be represented by seven members, and 5¼ million Africans will be represented by 14 members.
These proposals caused the profoundest disappointment in Uganda and encouraged the fear that there will not be an advance towards an African State. The figures give the 45,000 Europeans and Asians the same representation as the 5¼ million Africans. There had been a general hope among the African population, particularly under the new Governor, that an advance would be made so that the vast majority of the people might have a larger representation than the two minorities.
I therefore make my third suggestion to the Minister, which is that a new 1234 Constitution should be prepared, with a common electoral rôle on an educational basis. That would not mean that every African would be enfranchised, but it would mean that every African who passed the educational test would be placed in the same position as a European and an Asian. If that proposal were made in the conversations with the Kabaka, that the new Constitution, in January, should be followed within a limited period by an extended Constitution of that kind, I am quite sure that the Kabaka would change his view.
My concluding remarks I make with some reluctance, but I feel impelled to make them. I do not take a personal view of politics. I recognise that tonight we are criticising not only the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, but also that of the whole Government. But the right hon. Gentleman has a special responsibility. He has the responsibility of making recommendations to his colleagues and of initiating policy. I also feel that he has a special responsibility because many hon. Members of this House have come to the view that his personal attitude and his mishandling of one colonial question after another have now become a disaster to this country.
I believe that that policy is disastrous to the reputation of this country, to the well-being of the peoples of the Colonies and to the racial harmony of the world. Therefore, I propose to repeat tonight the words of one of the right hon. Gentleman's Conservative predecessors, addressed to a Conservative Prime Minister. This is what Leopold Amery said, quoting what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought that it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation:You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
A few weeks ago there was one place in Africa which could be regarded as a very contented Colony. It had almost the attributes of a potential earthly paradise. It had tremendous resources of flora and fauna, and the people were happy. I had the privilege of meeting out there, and at home, Sir Andrew Cohen and Lady Cohen. I regard Sir Andrew Cohen as 1235 one of the ablest and most liberal-minded men who have ever gone to a Colonial Territory. I have had the privilege of meeting the Kabaka out there, and of attending in Uganda the sort of meetings—which would be quite impossible in Kenya—where African, Asian and European can meet together in the same hotel in happiness and exchange views.
That sort of thing is utterly impossible over the border in Nairobi, and everyone must know, who knows anything of East Africa that the haunting fear that menaces Uganda is the possibility that at some time or another the rule of Uganda may pass under the control of the white settlers of Kenya. I am not at all biased about this matter one way or another. I am not particularly a monarchist. If it is any consolation to the right hon. Gentleman, I may say that in the last dispute, as between a king and an Oliver, I am on the side of Oliver. I, therefore, approach this matter with some show of impartiality.
It really is a tragedy, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) has said, that in this Parliament, with its tolerance, good government and first-class administration, that the right hon. Gentleman should on this subject decide to make a speech without apparently any prior consideration. I have typed out a short and relevant extract from "East Africa and Rhodesia." Slap-happy as the right hon. Gentleman normally is, he was hitting sixes all over the field, and those who went to retrieve the ball found that they were going in all directions. At the East Africa Dinner, on 2nd July, 1953, he said:To my mind the age of small political and small economic units has passed.After that general kick at our smaller allies, he said:We have to have in the modern world large agglomerations of political influence and power, countries—to put it bluntly"—and no one has a greater capacity than the right hon. Gentleman to put things bluntly—…who can do something, if not all, to defend themselves if they are assailed from outside, and who do not have to rely entirely upon outside resources to defend them, whilst at the same time vehemently protesting that they are to be free of outside influence.1236 That goes for Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. He then went on to say,You cannot on the whole build political independence upon the foundations of defensive dependence.Having just attacked the Atlantic Treaty, he then decided to turn his attention for the first time to colonial affairs and to deal with Uganda. On 30th November, he said:Nor should we exclude from our minds the evolution, as time goes on, of still larger measures of unification, and possibly still larger measures of federation of the whole East African territories."—[Official Report, 30th November, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 783.]There is no doubt what that means. There is no doubt that it is a suggestion for the federation of Uganda and Tanganyika, both of which are happy, and of Kenya, with the fears that brings to the whole of the African people. Then, as if we had not said enough to disturb African feelings, he thought that the moment to say:This is the sort of idea which the man who gave his name to the Rhodesias would. I believe, have supported.It is not part of our debate to talk about the policy of Cecil Rhodes, but he is remembered in Africa as the author of the Jameson Raid, and the man who said, "I would annex the planets if I could."
Then, as for his social reform, it is hardly possible to find in history a more ham-handed statement about such an extremely delicate matter at such an unfortunate time. The right hon. Gentleman came to the House on 30th November, Monday last, and, without prior warning and without any suggestion to anyone in this House that anything had happened in Uganda, and without any suggestion of any possibility of debate, made a statement in which he said—and I want to be as delicate with the right hon. Gentleman as I possibly can, but there are moments when he handles facts so lightly that he almost verges upon inaccuracy—It is with great regret that I have to inform the House that Her Majesty's Government have been obliged to withdraw recognition from the Kabaka, the Native Ruler of Buganda, which is a Province of the Uganda Protectorate. The relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Baganda are regulated by an Agreement signed in 1900.There we get the first matter which is rather new. The relations between ourselves and the Kabaka of Buganda are regulated by the Treaty of 1904 and by 1237 the Agreement of 1900. There are the instructions under which the Resident Governor was sent out in years gone by, and I would particularly call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the Treaty of 1894, which is important. He went on to say that the Kabaka had addressed his letter to the Governor, and:Before my reply could be given, these same two requests were presented in a memorandum attached to a resolution opposing federation adopted by the Lukiko or Council of Buganda. The Lukiko is an advisory body to the Kabaka and pays the closest attention to his wishes"—[Official Report, 30th November. 1953; Vol. 521, c. 783.]I do not know what those words mean unless it is to suggest that the Lukiko—the right hon. Gentleman was referring to the great Lukiko of Mengo, and not the smaller Lukikos—is a mere tool or shadow of, or body to be controlled by, the Kabaka. Nothing can be further from the truth. Lord Hailey in his statements on this matter has called attention to the diminishing power of the Kabaka and has suggested that the day has come when the Kabaka dare not sack one of the three Ministers he has the power to sack, because today the Lukiko is a representative body selected on manhood suffrage from a series of councils, including the Kampala council and other important councils. It is a highly complex, very distinguished democratic body. Everyone who has observed it has said that it is one of the real democratic organisations in Africa, one of the real effective local government organisations dealing exclusively with major affairs. It has a revenue of between £250,000 and £260,000 a year, has large affairs to run, has a vast area of land and has vast local problems. It is regarded as a model of its kind.
If that be conceded—Lord Hailey has said that it is so—we then have the position that, whether the Kabaka be right or wrong—from my point of view, it is not relevant to the issue tonight—whether he be wise or unwise, whether his suggestions are crude or well-considered, he has put forward as a democratic constitutional monarch the proposals of his Parliament which have been considered by his Parliament.
He had no option but to do that. Surely that is the situation. It is said that when these things were explained to the Kabaka, when he was told that some of these things were unacceptable, he refused 1238 at once to withdraw them. He had no powers to withdraw them. The great Lukiko of Mengo meets tomorrow, and that is the time when the King could have reported back to his Parliament what the Governor of Buganda had said. That is the time when he could have gone to his Parliament and said, "These are the facts. There has been misunderstanding. The speech was perhaps made without consideration. The right hon. Gentleman has explained that he did not really mean all he said and that it was merely"—
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I wish to register the fact that during the last three or four minutes he has entirely departed from the facts, which I will deal with later on.
§ Mr. Hale
I am very much obliged, but the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me at the point where I was saying that he had now said that he did not mean all he said. That is in every document circulated by the Colonial Office. It has been said that the talk about federation was a mere pious expression of a possible future ahead, had no relation to the facts of the day and was not intended to be enforced. If the right hon. Gentleman has gone back on that, he is making another volte face for which we have to be prepared.
It is then said—I should have thought, with great wisdom—that the Kabaka has said he would prefer Buganda to be handled by the Foreign Office and not the Colonial Office. If that is a ground for deposing a king and deporting a British subject from his home, family and land, the thing is laughable. There can be different views about this. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to a debate about Buganda in this House in 1900 when the distinguished hon. Member for Northampton, who was Mr. Labouchére, said on the same subject that he hoped Britain would evacuate Buganda one day. He said that his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had complained that Buganda was under the Foreign Office and not under the Colonial Office, but he thanked God that it was not under the Colonial Office, for if it had been, we might have found ourselves engaged in war with France. Belgium and Germany, all of whom had 1239 adjacent territories in Africa. He also said that, although he could not agree with what his right hon. Friend had said in that part of his speech, he would vote with him.
I do not suggest that I necessarily agree with those sentiments. I quote them, not with approval, but merely to show that it is at least reasonable to say that varying views may be held about the desirability of coming under the Foreign Office or the Colonial Office. If I were the inhabitant of such a territory, I should prefer to come under neither of those Ministries.
I referred to the Treaty of 1894 which was made between Mwanga and Henry Edward Colville, the British Government representative of the day. There are some facts which are relevant when we are considering the utility of the treaty. Many hon. Members wish to speak, but we ought to consider the facts. These are, briefly, the facts. The first treaty between Mwanga and the British Government was made with a representative of the British East Africa Company, in 1892. That was a reciprocal treaty in which Mwanga was guaranteed protection. At the time the treaty was signed, the British East Africa Company also indicated its intention to evacuate East Africa altogether.
Mwanga had lost his hope of obtaining African support by signing a treaty with the British, and so he was faced with the prospect of evacuation and, therefore, with the necessity of making the best terms he could with the British Government. So he signed a provisional treaty in 1893, which was duly ratified, and re-signed in 1894 in virtually the same terms. The treaty said that Her Britannic Majesty had been graciously pleased to bestow on the King of Buganda the protection he had requested in the Agreement. That is the origin of the word "Protectorate." Mwanga sought the protection of the British Crown and the guarantee of the security of his kindom. He made many concessions for it.
How can we determine what Mwanga really thought of it? After all, the agreement was never translated into the Buganda language. It was an English document. We have a contemporary document translated. We have seen the language in Mwanga's letter to the Queen 1240 after the signing of the Treaty on 29th August, 1894. He said:To my glorious Friend who is very good. I salute you much, together with all my chiefs in my country. I thank you very much. Thank you for helping me and my country. Thank you for saving us from all wars between ourselves. For my part, I accept the treaty between you and me. I agree to befriends with you always, and your flag I accept. All the things I have in my possession are yours and yours are mine.There were wars in Africa after that. On careful examination, they appear mostly to have been between the Catholics and the Protestants or the Catholics and Protestants and the Mohammedans, and they were supported by African troops, and Mwanga ended his days as a deportee in the Seychelles Islands. Mwanga was a Mohammedan during the Mohammedan occupation, a Roman Catholic during the Catholic occupation and a Protestant when the treaty was signed, and, although it is not on record, I should think that when he was deported to the Seychelles he was regarded as a militant agnostic. There are points about his record which will not bear the closest examination, but he did try to come to an agreement to get protection.
Mwanga was the degenerate son of a very great king. Mutesa, his father, was one of the great kings of Africa. The family with which we are dealing is one which can trace its way back for generation after generation in the history of Africa. This is one of the few areas of Africa which has a history going back through the centuries and a history of modest civilisation.
Mutesa saw the establishment of Christianity in Buganda. He saw the Church Missionary Society come in and save Buganda when private enterprise was about to evacuate it. He saw the Church Missionary Society raise money in this country in the days when people were keenly interested in colonial affairs. He saw this even when the machine gun was about to be invented and used for restoring law and order in the African territories. Even then, the heart of Britain would have been moved over a matter of this kind. Even in those days there were people who packed meetings and subscribed money to try to spread civilisation and law and order throughout Africa.
1241 I have said what I had to say in seconding this Motion with, I hope, moderation. I have tried not to say one word which would exacerbate the situation. I have tried not to assert rightness of one side or the other on the merits of the case. But I should have thought that there was one comment which would have the support of the whole House—that never before was a king so swiftly deposed with so little reason for so doing, and never before has a man been deported from the country of his origin with so little semblance of law and with so little justification being shown. Even at this late hour, I challenge any hon. Member opposite to tell me under what law, under what rule, under what treaty or under what agreement these powers are exercised.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Lionel Heald)
Paragraph 6 of the Uganda Agreement contains these words:So long as the Kabaka, Chiefs and people of Uganda shall conform to the laws and regulations instituted for their goverance by Her Majesty's Government, and shall co-operate loyally with Her Majesty's Government in the organisation and administration of the said Kingdom of Uganda, Her Majesty's Government agrees to recognise the Kabaka of Uganda as the Native Ruler of the province of Uganda under Her Majesty's protection and over-rule.The Governor, with the approval of the Secretary of State, has decided, upon the facts before him, that the Kabaka is not co-operating loyally with Her Majesty's Government in the organisation and administration of the territories of Uganda. In those circumstances, there is no longer any obligation on Her Majesty's Government to recognise the Kabaka, and the Government do not so recognise him.
§ Mr. Hale
When the Attorney General intervenes we expect him to give us some opinion on the law. I am talking about the deportation of a British subject without trial from British territory, from the land of his birth and the land of birth of his fathers. He is a man who occupies an office of great distinction and who was exercising his constitutional powers. Will the Attorney-General be so good as to intervene and tell me where his authority for the proposition of expulsion comes from?
Let me conclude by referring to the agreement to which the Attorney-General has referred. He quoted the opening 1242 words, almost in the form of a recital, of one of the operative clauses. That is followed by a clause that provides payment to the Kabaka of Uganda, and it is, of course, clear that we can cease making payment if we feel that he was not behaving himself. But Clause 20 says:Should the Kingdom of Uganda fail to pay to the Uganda Administration during the first two years after the signing of this Agreement an amount of native taxation equal to half that which is due in proportion to the number of inhabitants; or should it at any time fail to pay without any just cause or excuse the aforesaid minimum of taxation due in proportion to the population; or should the Kabaka, Chiefs or people of Uganda pursue at any time a policy which is distinctly disloyal to the British Protectorate; Her Majesty's Government will no longer consider themselves bound by the terms of this Agreement.It does not say that the Colonial Secretary sitting in Westminster can sweep him off the throne.
I said that I have spoken in terms of moderation, because I still believe that this matter can easily be reconciled. I still believe that a little sensible talk could put it right. I still believe that had there been a little sensible talk to start with, it need never have happened. I hope the time is coming when the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies will really talk round a table with people about affairs, will try to reconcile conflicting views and will try to bring about a little peace. We have heard much talk from the other side about the liquidation of a great Empire. In the last two years we have seen seeds sown which will hasten that liquidation. They threaten the African Continent, and that Continent may well be liquidated in flames.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) have tried to make moderate and constructive speeches. I think it is my duty to set out the whole of the facts and I will do so and deal with nearly all the points which both have raised, including the inaccuracies with which the speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, West was, unfortunately, interlarded.
Several months ago, in the middle of August to be precise, we became aware that a crisis might develop in Uganda and I had the advantage of seeing the 1243 Governor, Sir Andrew Cohen, on a recent visit. The developments of this crisis have caused the Governor, Her Majesty's Government, and myself grave and mounting concern during the past six or eight weeks.
As soon as I heard of these events, that is to say, last August, I give the House my word that I was determined not to take action except in the last resort, and then only when I was quite sure that the future of Uganda was at stake. I assure the House with the greatest sincerity that throughout these many weeks I have endeavoured by every means that I could to avoid the drastic steps which, in the event, have proved necessary.
I was prepared to take any means available to me to bring the Kabaka into agreement with Her Majesty's Government and with the obligations which are governed by the 1900 Treaty. I was prepared to concede any points which did not affect vitally the future of Uganda. Throughout the whole of this period I have been in constant, almost daily, touch with Sir Andrew Cohen on what were the best methods to pursue with this object in view. I mentioned this long period and the constant consultations that have taken place in order to rebut the remark by the hon. Member for Oldham, West that these decisions were made in a frivolous, abrupt, hasty and inconsiderate way.
First, let us be quite clear about the nature of this crisis. Quite simply, the fact is that recognition has been withdrawn from the Kabaka because he has declared himself determined publicly to oppose the considered decisions and the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government. In places, the hon. Member for Oldham, West was grossly inaccurate as when he was talking about this particular point. What we sought to get from the Kabaka on this point was a declaration that he would not, in the Lukiko, openly oppose the policy of Her Majesty's Government on this matter of a unitary State. I shall come to that in a minute.
Not only was this attitude a denial of his solemn obligation under the agreement of 1900 which has in the main since regulated the relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Buganda Government, but if he had been per- 1244 mitted to carry out his intentions into action, the orderly and progressive administration of Buganda would have been made impossible. By the attitude which he adopted and by the persistence with which he clung to it in the face of all our efforts to dissuade him, the Kabaka demonstrated quite unmistakably that he was resolved to break the Agreement of 1900.
Here, I must say a few words about that Agreement. As the House will recall, this was a compact freely negotiated and signed by the representatives of Her Majesty's Government of the time and the Buganda Government. On many occasions since it was concluded both parties to it have shown the high importance which they attached to the scrupulous observance of all its terms. For more than 50 years it has remained unaltered, save in matters of detail, and these minor amendments have only been made with the approval of both parties.
I forget whether the hon. Gentleman quoted Article 6 of the Agreement. He will forgive me if I am repeating it. It reads:So long as the Kabaka, Chiefs and people of Uganda shall co-operate loyally with Her Majesty's Government"—No, it was the Attorney-General who quoted it, but I must read it again—in the…administration of the said Kingdom of Buganda, Her Majesty's Government agrees to recognise the Kabaka of Buganda as the Native Ruler of the Province of Buganda under Her Majesty's protection and overrule.The Kabaka had provided clear evidence of his intention no longer to co-operate with Her Majesty's Government and with the Protectorate Government in the administration of Buganda, and it was upon these grounds that we have been obliged reluctantly to withdraw recognition.
The individual issue at stake may be stated quite simply, but first, I must dispose of the suggestions that the crisis has arisen over the matter of federation. The words which I used—which still seem to me very vague—on 30th June at the East African dinner undoubtedly raised apprehension in the minds of the Kabaka and his Ministers and of the Lukiko. I therefore thought it necessary to give categorical assurances on this point, and I gave the Kabaka the assurances in the following terms with which, I fear, I must trouble the House: 1245Her Majesty's Government has no intention whatsoever of raising the issue of East African federation either at the present time or while local public opinion on this issue remains as it is at the present time.Her Majesty's Government fully recognises that public opinion in the Protectorate generally and Buganda in particular, including the opinion of the Great Lukiko, would be opposed to the inclusion of the Uganda Protectorate in any such federation; Her Majesty's Government has no intention whatsoever of disregarding this opinion either now or at any time, and recognises accordingly that the inclusion of the Uganda Protectorate in any such federation is outside the realm of practical politics at the present time or while local public opinion remains as it is at the present time.As regards the more distant future, Her Majesty's Government clearly cannot state now that the issue of East African federation will never be raised, since public opinion in the Protectorate, including that of the Baganda, might change, and it would not in any case be proper for Her Majesty's Government to make any statement now which might be Used at some time in the future to prevent effect being given to the wishes of the people of the Protectorate at that time.But Her Majesty's Government can and does say that, unless there is a substantial change in public opinion in the Protectorate, including that of the Baganda, the inclusion of the Protectorate in an East African federation will remain outside the realm of practical politics even in the more distant future.The Secretary of State is confident that you will agree that in this statement he has gone as far as he possibly can and has given you safeguards which cannot fail to be regarded as satisfactory.What the hon. Members for Eton and Slough and Oldham, West forgot to mention was that at that time the Kabaka himself was entirely satisfied, and still remains entirely satisfied, with these assurances. That, I think, should dispose once and for all of the suggestion which was hinted at—in fact, stated categorically today—that the crisis which has led to the deposition of the Kabaka has anything to do with the question of federation; it has not.
After the Kabaka had expressed himself as satisfied with the assurances that I had given him on federation, there remained three points at issue. The first was that responsibility for the affairs of Buganda should be transferred to the Foreign Office. I explained that such an arrangement would be quite inappropriate, and although I do not think the Kabaka was satisfied with my reasons for rejecting the suggestion, he did not pursue the matter at the time and has 1246 certainly not done so since. We were left then with but two points outstanding, but they concerned matters of such vital importance to the future of the Protectorate that failure to resolve them must inevitably lead to crisis. The first was the refusal of the Kabaka to co operate in the appointment of members to represent Buganda on the Legislative Council.
Perhaps I might for one moment turn aside to correct the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, whose facts were not correct when he gave the composition of the Legislative Council. There will not be 29 officials in the new Legislative Council, there will be 19 or 20. The balance of the Government side will be made up by a cross-bench—eight or nine members—composed of the chairmen of the statutory boards and of prominent members of the public, including Africans.
The members of the cross-bench are free to vote and speak as they like, except on a three-line Whip. This is the creation of Sir Andrew Cohen's ingenious and liberal mind, and this proposal for the new Legislative Council was as far as he wished to go and received my approval at the time he put the proposals forward. I thought it as well to correct the hon. Gentleman on these rather vital points, on which he was so much astray.
Under the new Constitution which is to be introduced early next year, there are to be three Baganda members, and the intention was that as in the past the Kabaka should put forward names for the approval of the Governor. He made clear that far from nominating members, he would actively oppose the appointment even directly by the Governor, of any Baganda members at all. Thus Uganda would have been left without representation, and when matters vitally affecting the interests and well-being of the people of Buganda were being discussed in the Legislative Council, they themselves would have been left without the means of voicing their opinions or their desires.
This was a serious, indeed it was a critical matter for the Baganda but, when I turn, as I must, to the demands that Buganda should be made an independent State—a demand which the Kabaka has 1247 not withdrawn, but has continually repeated—the House will see that the whole future of the Protectorate of Uganda is involved. I would go further and say that the whole future of Uganda is manaced.
It is necessary for me at this point to touch quite a bit on the background against which I say this. The House remembers that there are four provinces in Uganda—North, East, West and Buganda itself. The Western Province includes three native States with separate, but similar agreements, referred to generally as Agreement States. Buganda is also a native State, but is much the largest in the country. It comprises about 17,000 square miles out of the 80,000 which is the area of Uganda and it has over 1,300,000 inhabitants.
Regarding the relationship between the Baganda and the Protectorate as a whole, Article 3 of the Agreement of 1900 recites this:The Kingdom of Buganda in the administration of the Uganda Protectorate shall rank as a province of equal rank with any other provinces into which the Protectorate may be divided.Clearly, it was the intention from the very beginning that Buganda should be an integral part of the Protectorate. Indeed, as recently as March this year the Kabaka publicly joined with the Governor in stating—and I quote:The Kingdom of Uganda will continue to go forward under the government of His Highness the Kabaka and play its part, in accordance with Article 3 of the Agreement, as a province and a component part of the Protectorate.Thus, for more than 50 years, Buganda has been administered as a unitary State and, as everyone here knows, it has shown steady progress. That progress has been greatly accelerated in recent years and the progress applies equally to social, economic and political matters. All the efforts of the British Administration have been to make Uganda grow into a prosperous State with advancing political institutions. I must mention these things, because they are the things that are threatened by the present crisis.
On the political side, I need only refer to the enlargement of the Legislative Council, the development of local government, and the plan to hand over to the Buganda Government responsibility for 1248 certain important services. These are proposals for which Sir Andrew Cohen has been responsible, and which I have approved. On the economic side—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), in many of these matters, has played a worthy part—there have been great advances.
Eight ginneries have been made available to the African co-operatives to gin their cotton. The Government are engaged in reorganising the coffee industry to give Africans an opportunity to play a part in the processing of their own crops. On the social side, a vastly expanded programme of education, which will cost no less than £10 million in the next eight years, has been initiated.
I am sure that it is not necessary to dwell very long upon the disastrous effect of trying to split up what is already a small enough country into smaller pieces. Buganda lies athwart the main lines of communication from the west to the east coast of Africa, which run up the Congo and the great lakes, through Buganda, and down to Mombasa. Every season there is large-scale migration of workers from the Congo to Kampala and the industries of the Eastern Province. I need not emphasise its key position athwart the communications.
Further, the Owen Falls power station lies astride the Victoria Nile, one end of the dam is in the Eastern Province and the other end of the dam and the power station are in Buganda. The commercial capital of Uganda is at Kampala, which is in Buganda. The political capital and the airfield are at Entebbe, also in the Province of Buganda. Both have grown up in the belief that Buganda would remain the geographical centre of the country and an integral part of the Protectorate. Kampala's commerce has close ties with Jinja in the Eastern Province, which is the chief port on Lake Victoria.
All the chief services of the Protectorate are centred in Kampala or Entebbe—Makerere University College, Mulago Training Hospital, and the main European and Asian hospitals, the Roman Catholic and Anglican cathedrals, Kampala Technical School, which is still being constructed, and the Community Development Centre at Entebbe, which is also under construction. I apologise for developing what I know most hon. Mem- 1249 bers are familiar with, but, in short, the prosperity and expanding national life which I predict, and for which we should all work, would receive a fatal blow if Uganda were split up into more than one State.
Here is the crux of the whole matter. Could the Kabaka be allowed to state publicly that he intended to separate from the rest of Uganda? It was on this point chiefly that the discussions, with which I have been kept constantly in touch, took place between the Governor and the Kabaka. I want to go into some of the circumstances in order to rebut any ideas that hon. Members may be harbouring that these matters were hastily discussed and dismissed summarily.
As soon as I heard about this crisis I wondered whether I should fly out to Buganda, and I think the House would acquit me of any unwillingness to fly out to the scene of trouble, but I reflected very deeply whether I should use that particular method on this occasion. The Governor was very much against it, and I agreed with him. I reluctantly abandoned it. The reasons seemed to me then and still seem to me valid. They were that it would greatly increase the local tension if the Secretary of State went out and was known to be engaged in this kind of discussion. I therefore abandoned this course, though with some reluctance, but I know that that decision was right.
Then it occurred to me to consider whether it would be suitable to ask the Kabaka to fly here and have discussions with me. I wish to explain now why I rejected that alternative. If I had been successful in persuading the Kabaka to work with Her Majesty's Government and not against them, then, of course, all would have been well and the Kabaka could have returned and the tension would have rapidly disappeared. But supposing I had not been successful, what then? The Governor advised that in that event it was out of the question for the Kabaka, having openly set himself in opposition to Her Majesty's Government, to return to the territory without the gravest fears of civil disturbance.
The unanimous view of the Governor and all his advisers was that in that event we should risk a serious upheaval. In other words, if the Kabaka had not agreed I should have had to inform him in this country that he could not return to 1250 Uganda. I considered that this would not be treating him fairly and that I must either give him a guarantee that he should return to Buganda, or that I should not ask him here. I thought that that was right. In short, I decided that the negotiations with the Kabaka must take place in Uganda, and must be conducted by the Governor.
It is unnecessary for me to tell hon. Members that in Sir Andrew Cohen who, when I first took office, was Head of the African Division of the Colonial Office and the Governor-designate of Uganda, we have a man with a long record of fruitful and enlightened work for Africans, a man of wide and liberal views and of outstanding ability and intellectual force. I reached the conclusion that if anyone was likely to persuade the Kabaka, it would be the Governor. Moreover, it was known to me that on some other occasions, before I took office, when the Kabaka was in minor disagreement with the Colonial Office, Sir Andrew Cohen had acted in the most friendly manner to the Kabaka, and had conducted the negotiations with marked success.
I think that this disposes of the suggestion that these negotiations were quickly and brusquely dealt with. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Governor had six long interviews with the Kabaka. He first saw him on 27th October, then on 29th October, again on 3rd November, again on 6th November, again on 27th November, and for the sixth time on 30th November. I became increasingly concerned at the obdurate nature of the Kabaka's opposition, which had persisted and, indeed, had become more pronounced during these five weeks of discussion, and before his meeting on Friday last I sent an urgent telegram to the Governor.
In that telegram I told the Governor that—and these are the actual words—as "a high matter of policy" the Kabaka should be persuaded to comply with his obligations under the Agreement and that he should be persuaded not to withdraw from the very clear position that he had taken up in March. I said, in that telegram, that I relied upon the Governor to use once more his very best endeavours to persuade the Kabaka to respond to my appeal. At the same time, as the House knows, I sent the Kabaka a personal message which I circulated on Monday in the Official Report.
1251 I next laid down the procedure, to which the Governor agreed, and I told him that on no account was he to take no for an answer at the meeting of last Friday but should give the Kabaka my personal message, together with any arguments which he thought suitable at that time. He should then allow a period of two or three days to elapse, and it was only then, if the Kabaka persisted in his refusal, this extreme step should be taken. Before he set in motion the machinery for the final act he told the Kabaka specifically that his persistence in his attitude would involve a breach of the Agreement and would entitle Her Majesty's Government to withdraw recognition.
The Governor asked the Kabaka whether he understood this and he replied that he did. All our efforts to persuade the Kabaka failed, but I can tell the House with absolute sincerity that nothing was left undone which might have induced the Kabaka to repent of the errors of his ways and take his proper part in the development, both of his own territory and its inhabitants, and of Uganda as a whole.
It remains for me to inform the House, briefly, of events since the Kabaka left Uganda. Yesterday, the Katikiro—that is the Prime Minister of Buganda—broadcast to the people of Buganda and called upon them to remain calm. This, according to my reports, they have done and the Governor has told me that he does not expect any trouble at the present time. The Katikiro also informed them that the meeting of the Lukiko would be held today. I have not received a telegraphic report of that meeting, but I understand from the Governor—whom I telephoned about half-past one this afternoon—that the Lukiko wished to send a delegation to meet me in London. I will be ready to see them.
This morning I had a long talk with the Kabaka. I did not wish to press him into further discussion of political matters beyond what he wished to say himself. He was alone, and he feels severely the loss of his sister, which I am sure the whole House deplores. This conversation could not have been more friendly. It was extremely painful to me because of the dignified and correct bearing of the Kabaka in all these matters. It was the 1252 more painful to me because he was a member of my university and of my regiment, and a friend of my son's at Cambridge. I was able to assure him that no personal matters arose at all, but that I had a clear duty in these matters which, however painful, I must fulfil. In that conversation it was made clear to me that the Kabaka fully understood the nature of the two issues upon which this action had had to be taken and that no compromise compatible with my duties was possible.
It remains my unshakeable belief that the people of Buganda and the other peoples of the provinces of the Protectorate could not achieve that political, social and economic progress to which they aspire and for which the Governor has done such notable work unless the unity of the Protectorate was maintained, preserved and proclaimed at this moment. Unfortunately, the proposals of the Kabaka were in direct contradiction to that aim. He wishes to divide Buganda. In the past, it has sometimes been a jibe against the British, as against the Roman Empire, that their motto was "Divide and rule." In this case, as in that of Nigeria, our object is to maintain and knit together a unitary State.
I conclude by saying once more that the personal aspect of this affair is particularly painful. The action which was taken has not been taken with any haste. In fact, it has been delayed until every opportunity had been given to the Kabaka to revise and reverse his decision. We have, I believe, acted rightly and we have certainly been moved by one guiding principle, that of our desire to secure the continued advancement of all the peoples of the Protectorate, including, not least, the people of Buganda itself.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
In spite of the statement which has just been made by the Colonial Secretary, we are still very much in the dark as to exactly what is the situation in Uganda at present. The Secretary of State has given us certain immediate facts leading up to the present situation, but he has given us no picture of the background of the situation as it exists in Uganda, if indeed it is the case that this is anything more than a current difficulty that has arisen between the colonial administration in this country and the Kabaka.
1253 I want to make it clear at the beginning of my speech that I am in no way prepared to take sides in this matter. I know very well that in Uganda there has always been a very widely held point of view in very responsible circles in that country rather contrary to the view indicated by the Secretary of State today of the purpose expressed by the Kabaka on this occasion of re-establishing the hereditary rule of the Buganda Kabaka over the whole combined Territory. That, as far as my experience goes, has been the main demand among the Baganda tribe—not the separation of Buganda from Uganda—but, on the contrary, the unity of Uganda under Buganda with its old hereditary chiefs.
I do not know whether it means that there is in Uganda at present a very strong section of opinion which would not be in favour of the attitude taken up by the Kabaka. It has not been illustrated how far the Kabaka has the support of any element in his kingdom for the attitude which the Secretary of State assured us has been taken so rigidly by the Kabaka during the negotiations. All we can be concerned about at present is the immediate action that has been taken and how far that action can be justified in the context of the rather sketchy picture as we have seen it.
On this side of the House, and I think widely throughout the country, there is very grave concern. We fear that this is merely another incident in the tragic history of the present administration of the Colonial Secretary, particularly in Africa. I remember clearly in 1951, when the present Government were elected, the reception that that event obtained in the African native Press. I remember headlines which said, "Goodbye to colonial freedom." I remember articles written in many African newspapers pointing out that now we were entering on a new phase in which all the progress which the Africans recognised had been made under the Labour colonial administration would be in peril if the Conservative Administration was going back to the old Tory imperialist conceptions of colonial administration.
They may have been right or wrong, but at least that is indicative of the kind of feeling which was already alive in Africa at the beginning of the present 1254 Administration. Since then we have had the Central African situation, we have had the Seretse Khama issue, we have had the British Guiana situation, and we have had the complete mishandling of the situation in Kenya.
Even though the Secretary of State has assured us that the Kabaka, and the Lukiko presumably, are now prepared to accept the assurances he has given them in regard to the intention of the present Government with reference to an East African federation which would embrace Buganda as well as the other three Territories, whatever they may have said about acceptance of those assurances they may well have been uneasy in their minds—to put it mildly—before they got the assurances, and they may be a little uneasy now. Certainly, before that, the natural reaction in any Territory in Africa to the merest whisper of the possibility of a new enforced administration, after the Central African developments, would be the creation of great unrest among the people of such a Territory.
Therefore, I wonder whether the Colonial Secretary, even if he tried on this occasion to act differently from what he has done on other occasions, with all the sincerity that he protested about over and over again in his statement of a few minutes ago, and the way he endeavoured to reassure the Kabaka, has been successful in reassuring all the elements which have been disturbed by the unnecessary and harmful talk in which he engaged at the notorious dinner and which carried the implication that the Africans took.
The right hon. Gentleman told us that he had left nothing undone and that everything had been done, before he took the final, serious step, in trying to reconcile the Kabaka. He has already told us that everything was left to discussion between the Governor and the Kabaka in Uganda. He told us that he had considered the possibility of flying over to Uganda in order to discuss the very serious situation with the Kabaka, but he dismissed that, for quite understandable reasons. Then the right hon. Gentleman considered the alternative of bringing the Kabaka over here but he dismissed that also because he said that if the Kabaka would not change, we should have to tell him that he could not go back to Africa. I quite understand the position up to that point.
1255 This matter is of such importance to Uganda and to the prestige of this country in the international field that the right hon. Gentleman might surely have considered the possibility of inviting the Kabaka as a final step, in order to impress him by the gesture and by the discussions that he might have with the Colonial Department, away from the atmosphere in which he had been carrying on those discussions hitherto. If then he still took the same view, surely it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility to allow him to go back to Uganda before taking any further action. I do not think that would have been impossible, in view of the importance and the seriousness of the matter, and it might well not have been considered.
I am more concerned about the extent to which the action which has in fact been taken by our Government and by the Colonial Secretary has legal standing. We had an interesting intervention from the Attorney-General, who was asked whether we had any authority to dethrone or depose, and then to expel, the Kabaka. The 1900 Agreement was quoted by the Attorney-General. The amusement which was caused on these benches when he did so was entirely justified, because it was a most naïve explanation. Article 6 of the Agreement says that as long as the Kabaka, chiefs and people of Ugandashall conform to the laws and Regulations instituted for their governance by Her Majesty's Government and shall co-operate loyally with Her Majesty's Government in the organisation and administration of the said kingdom of Uganda, Her Majesty's Government agrees to recognise the Kabaka of Uganda as the Native Ruler of the Province of Uganda under Her Majesty's protection and over-rule.Well, all right; under the agreement we are entitled to withdraw recognition of the Kabaka as ruler of Uganda. That is all right up to that point, but there is no mention of deposing him as King of Buganda or of the right to deport him, and certainly no mention of any right by ourselves as one party to an agreement—which the Colonial Secretary assured us was freely entered into by the two Sovereign authorities, Uganda and ourselves, in 1894—which was freely entered into by the two parties not only to depose but to expel the Kabaka, and above all to 1256 take over unilateral control of the other party's territory. The Agreement says in Article 20:Should the Kabaka, chiefs or people of Uganda pursue at any time a policy which is distinctly disloyal to the British Protectorate, Her Majesty's Government will no longer consider themselves bound by the terms of this agreement.What are the terms of the Agreement? That we shall recognise the Kabaka and, in return for certain privileges which we enjoy under the Agreement, shall extend certain privileges to the Kabaka and his people. We shall allow him to have a salute of six or nine guns, we shall pay him and his mother a certain salary and shall extend certain other advantages under our protection, and in return we shall have certain rights and privileges. To say that we are no longer bound by the terms of that Agreement can mean nothing more than that we shall refrain from giving those advantages to the Kabaka and his people as provided in the Agreement, until an alternative arrangement is made.
The Agreement in no way provides—and I challenge the Attorney-General to show it—any right on the part of one contracting party when disagreeing with the other not only to withdraw from the Agreement but to take over unilateral control of the other party's territory and to expel the Kabaka. If the Kabaka had tried to take over our own ruler and expel him from the territory, we might have got a test case. I hope that this point will be answered, because the Secretary of State might be in serious legal difficulties over this action.
I do not want to say much more on this point. The Colonial Secretary has told us, and we welcome the announcement, that the Lukiko has asked for a delegation from it to be received in this country by the Minister and that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to receive it. Presumably it will come over, and there will be discussions. I gathered from his statement that he was prepared to discuss earnestly and seriously with it some way of overcoming the difficulties that have occurred in its territory. I hope that is going to happen. I hope that before the delegation comes the Colonial Secretary will withdraw the statement that he made in the House of Commons on Monday. 30th November, when he was asked if he 1257 would invite the Kabaka to meet him and he said:No, I said I would see the Kabaka if he wished to see me.He went on:I must make it quite clear that this decision is final."—[Official Report, 30th November, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 788.]If this decision is final, that we are deposing and expelling the Kabaka presumably for all time from that territory, I do not see how we can enter into reasonable, sensible, peaceful negotiation with the Lukiko, particularly if that body, or a majority or the major part of it is behind the Kabaka on this occasion. I do not see how we can possibly hope for any kind of agreement from it unless the Colonial Secretary is prepared to make a statement in advance that he does not now contend that the decision that has been taken is final and irrevocable.
If that is not done, I should say that the visit of the delegation of the Lukiko to this country is not likely to achieve very much. There is no gesture that would give more reassurance to the delegation when it comes, or to the people of our own country who are interested in this matter, as well as to many millions of people abroad who are probably watching this terrible story of the progress of Tory administration of our Colonial Territories, than a clear statement by the Colonial Secretary that he is prepared to meet this delegation on a fresh basis and to reconsider, as a result of any agreement he may be able to reach with that body, the decision that has already been taken with regard to the deposition of the Kabaka, provided that the Kabaka is prepared to play his part. I appeal to the Colonial Secretary to make such a statement before the evening is out.
There is nothing more that I want to say about this matter because, as I and other hon. Members have said, we have not yet enough information about the real story behind all this to enable us to go deeply into it. But we are very seriously concerned, not only because of the apparent mishandling of this case, but because this happens to be one more in a long series of what appear to be classic blunders on the part of the Colonial Secretary in the administration of these Territories and elsewhere upon which depends so much the future and the prestige of this country.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
I am sure that the House will join with me in regretting that the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) devoted such a large part of his speech to an attack upon my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. I felt, after the speech made by my right hon. Friend, that that aspect of this debate seemed wrong and quite out of tune with the mood of the House as a whole.
I do not think that I am called upon to comment upon the criticisms made by the hon. Gentleman, but I think it fair to say that in Colonial Territories all over the world there are men who are called upon to carry the burden of administration, to do the dull routine work of trying to ensure that these Territories move forward to better things, and who know that there is at the Colonial Office a man who will not sacrifice them on the altar of political expediency or on the lesser shrine of his own political reputation. There is no man who knows that better, or who is more grateful for the fact today than the Governor of Uganda, Sir Andrew Cohen.
The origins of the present trouble in Buganda are laid at the door of my right hon. Friend because of a casual allusion by him at a dinner in London to a closer union with East Africa. I was surprised to find myself recognising some of the phraseology used by my right hon. Friend on that occasion. It was taken direct from one of the essays in a book published by the Fabian Society in 1944, in which it is said that the era of the small, isolated independent States is over.
I am only sorry that my right hon. Friend did not at the same time make reference to the origin of his remarks. It is quite clear that it has been the policy of the Socialist Government, as it has been of the present Government, to try to ensure co-operation between States which are not themselves economically or politically viable. That, after all, is the whole principle behind our approach to the problem of Nigeria and to that of the West Indies.
I think it fair to remark that in a very interesting leading article, the "Manchester Guardian" pointed out these two major successes for the colonial policy of the present Government. If that is 1259 true of a bigger political unit, then surely it is equally true of a smaller unit such as the Protectorate of Buganda, with which we are dealing at the present time.
I cannot think that the statement made by my right hon. Friend at that dinner departed from the general line of policy which has been worked out through the High Commission, and which Lord Faringdon held out during the controversy over federation as the right, proper and tactful way of ensuring the advantages of closer union without incorporating any of the features which he objected to in Central Africa.
Therefore, there is not only a prima facie case for not accepting the allegation that this incident arises from the speech made by my right hon. Friend, but, also, that there is other evidence as well which appears in a statement made by the Governor immediately after the deposing of the Kabaka. In his statement, Sir Andrew Cohen says:Finally, in his message to the Baganda people the Governor has expressed his deep distress at the grave action which the Kabaka's attitude has made unavoidable. He has referred to the special efforts which he had made from the first moment he arrived in the Protectorate to be on terms of friendship with the Kabaka, who, however, did not give the Governor his confidence.It is clear from that statement that, as far as the Governor is concerned, this problem of the relations between Her Majesty's Government in the Protectorate and the Kabaka's Government is one of long standing, going back for perhaps two full years.
Let me try to outline what I think is the background to this. It is quite clear that Sir Andrew Cohen went out to Uganda with the highest hopes, as well he might, for the future of the Protectorate. He saw the opportunity of experimenting in democratic, progressive forms of government in a Colony in Africa which, on the face of it, would appear to be far better adapted for that form of experiment than any of our Colonies there. He went there having served with the greatest effect and value in the Colonial Office.
When he arrived, one thing he clearly came up against straight away was the problem, which every administrator in Uganda has come up against in that 1260 Protectorate, the special position claimed by the Baganda nation. It has been pointed out that the Baganda are, themselves, only roughly one-quarter of the population of the whole of Uganda. They have, for various reasons been, and have regarded themselves as, superior to the rest of the Protectorate. This is very clearly illustrated in the statement of the Great Lukiko itself. There, it reads:Long before the coming of the European Buganda had achieved an undisputed supremacy over her neighbours. The monarch"—that is, the Kabaka—was accepted as the supreme ruler by the other tribes surrounding Buganda, and they owed allegiance to him.Right from the early days of Speke, the Baganda have had a position of superiority in the Protectorate. It is a position which has resulted, partly fortuitously, because they happened to be the centre in which the missionaries settled first of all and, therefore, benefited from the advantages of education; and partly because there was already established in Buganda a strongly developed feudal system based on the Sasa and Gombolola chieftaincies, and the Baganda have always claimed, vis-à-vis the other Africans in the territory, this position of superiority.
It has been quite clear since 1946, partly as a result of the policy of the party opposite and partly as a result of our own policy, that the position of the Baganda, vis-à-vis the other members of the Protectorate, has been weakened. The position of the feudal families in the Great Lukiko itself has also been weakened. It has been an inevitable part of the democratisation of the institutions of the tribe and of the Protectorate. For instance, in 1946 there were no elected members of the Great Lukiko. After 1946, 36 elected members were included, and that number has steadily risen to the present figure of 60.
Further, in the Legislative Assembly it self, the representation of the Baganda has been proportionately reduced. Up to the present, the proportion of Baganda representatives is two out of eight, which is 25 per cent. After 1st January next year it will be three out 14, which is just over 20 per cent. It is clear, therefore, that the class which ruled the Baganda people for perhaps two or three hundred 1261 years, and the Baganda people, themselves, in respect of the other tribes surrounding them in Uganda, are gradually feeling that their grip on the situation is loosening.
That has brought out a tribal nationalism, if I may put it that way. That is represented in the unrealistic resolutions of the Great Lukiko. Nobody who has followed the speech of the Secretary of State can believe that Buganda can remain a little isolated enclave in the middle of Africa and survive. Surely it is clear that the Baganda people as a whole cannot believe that either. It is completely unrealistic. But it is a natural reaction to the gradual evening up of influence among all the tribes, with such peoples as the Bunyoro and all the rest in the Uganda Protectorate.
What is so curious is that this problem of tribalism is not exclusive to Uganda. Mr. Nkrumah, in the Gold Coast, is facing exactly the same problem. There, he has decided that the privileged position which was enjoyed by the Ashanti will no longer continue. It has led almost to a split in his party. It has produced very strong feelings among the Ashanti. He is, therefore, facing the same problem which will be faced in other parts of Africa and which exists in Buganda today. That is the reversion to the tribal loyalties during a period when events and the whole of present day political influences are moving towards a linking of tribes with tribes, and a general levelling of their respective customs, traditions and power.
I feel, approaching the problem from that point of view, that it is absolutely clear that the Secretary of State could have taken no other decision in the circumstances than the one he has taken. I believe that it is in the interests not only of the Baganda people themselves, but of the Uganda as a whole. It is most unfortunate and unhappy that the Kabaka should have taken the stand that he did. He may have had his own private reasons for doing it. We do not know. Many of us who met him when he was over here during the Coronation were greatly impressed with his personality and dignity. But in these matters—and we know it from the experience of our own history—one has to take into consideration not merely personalities but the interests of the community, of the nation as a whole.
1262 I am quite sure that in these circumstances my right hon. Friend's decision will enable the Governor to continue with the reforms which he intends to introduce and to bring nearer the day when we shall find in Uganda a model experiment in democratic government, which will hold out hope not only for East Africa but for Africa as a whole.
I would remind the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that if he takes this matter to a Division he will be criticising not my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary but primarily the Governor of Uganda. I cannot believe that those of us—and I am sure there are many here—who know the Governor of Uganda, who know his liberal and progressive point of view, would be prepared to go into the Lobby tonight in support of a Motion of censure upon such a very distinguished servant of the Crown.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport), referred early in his speech to the need for co-operation between the small units of the Commonwealth. Personally, I should entirely agree with him. I think that the difficulty is in the method by which to achieve that co-operation and the speed with which it is brought into being.
The disagreements over Central African Federation were not upon the desirability of federation so much as upon the need to carry the Africans with us, and to ensure that we were going some way towards solving the social difficulties which exist in multi-racial communities. Later in his speech he very pertinently drew attention to those difficulties—the tribal traditions, the supremacy of one tribe, and the trouble which arose when one attempted to mingle with those traditions our traditions of Western democratic government and progress. He may very well have put his finger on one of the chief underlying causes for the trouble in Uganda, but I was not entirely convinced that, having pointed to those causes, he was justified in saying that the solution found by the Secretary of State was the only possible and desirable one.
There are very serious difficulties in this territory. As the Secretary of State has said, the Kabaka refused to appoint 1263 representatives to the Council, and desired to secede and so break up Uganda. I do not think that anyone in this House would approve either of those steps. The Secretary of State, in turn, has taken a most serious step in depriving this man of his liberty and deporting him from his territory. That is, possibly, as serious a step as sentencing him to imprisonment.
§ The Attorney-General
My right hon. Friend is not depriving him of his liberty. There is no justification for that statement.
§ Mr. Grimond
Many of the Attorney-General's distinguished predecessors would take a curious view of his argument that freedom exists for a man when he is banished from his country. The classical writers of Greece and Rome would surely have held that banishment is incompatible with freedom.
The Secretary of State should have told us more about the reasons which led the Kabaka to propose these serious steps, such as secession. It may be that for diplomatic reasons the right hon. Gentleman was unwilling to go into them in too great detail, but the hon. Member for Colchester has indicated what many of us thought might be one of the underlying causes of this difficulty. The Secretary of State merely told us that the Kabaka had refused to co-operate. Presumably the Kabaka advanced some reasons for his refusal, and the House is entitled to know more from the Government as to what his arguments were. Why did the Kabaka want to come under the Foreign Office? If any of his reasons or arguments are justifiable, what is being done, or what can be done, to rectify the matter? This debate will not have fulfilled its chief purpose unless these questions are answered.
We are bound to point out to the Government that the Commonwealth has suffered some very serious shocks recently. Our people are a little bewildered, when they wake up in the morning to find that the Constitution of Guiana has been suspended, and the Kabaka has been deposed and, in a different context, to learn of the events in the Sudan. These difficulties cannot be attributed to individual Members. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) or the 1264 Colonial Secretary wants to break up the Commonwealth.
These difficulties arise from deep, continuing and underlying causes which concern us all. We are all concerned to see the Commonwealth become more united and strong. The differences between us do not lie in that direction. They lie in the methods by which we are to achieve greater unity and strength. That is the only point in these debates. The difficulties and stresses of multi-racial societies cannot be solved in a day. I think that both sides have to make concessions, we and those who have different traditions. I personally think that it is an error to attempt to export our particular form of Parliamentary democracy and to assume that people brought up in a tribal form of life will necessarily work it successfully.
It may be foolish, in the 20th century, to expect that we can say to a smaller country, be it in South America or in Africa, "We do not want to influence you. We leave the decision to you. You can decide whether you will be completely independent or not." I would go so far as to agree with the Colonial Secretary, even though his recent speech in its particular context may have been wrong, that the fact remains that any small country of this kind is going to be drawn into some larger unity, economic and military, and the choice of complete independence is really not one that can be offered to each colonial people in the world today.
The choice we should leave them is, between the larger unities, which is to influence them? I believe that we should encourage them by all reasonable means consonant with our traditions to join the British Commonwealth and the Western tradition, but I also say that to do that we have got to treat them socially with respect, gradually eliminating this bar between people of different colour, trying to weld their own systems, tribal and otherwise, with ours, and bringing in the other nations of the Commonwealth as far as we can into this general process.
I do not believe we can solve this problem by sending troops, or by the deportation of individuals or the suspension of their rights.
I do not know whether we shall hear from the Government a further explanation of the underlying causes which, in 1265 their view, led to this situation, or of the steps that they intend to take in this territory to eradicate them and reassure it as to its future, but, as I have said, they seem to be the matters with which this House should be concerned, and it is after hearing their views on these matters, I personally feel, that we should make up our minds whether to go into the Division Lobbies or not.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
We heard from the Colonial Secretary tonight a very lucid account of the events recently in Uganda, but I feel that the right hon. Gentleman missed a very great opportunity because he failed to give the kind of assurance that, I think, would have any effect at all upon the Great Lukiko and upon the people of Uganda. He failed, in other words, to give any indication of what, in the eyes of the Government, is the ultimate future of Uganda. We have had disclaimers from the right hon. Gentleman of the suggestion that he inadvertently made that Uganda might be included in some form of East African federation. He has now stated categorically that there is no such intention on the part of the Government unless the antagonistic feeling in Uganda towards this proposal should be radically reversed.
One may suggest that the remark itself was a little tactless on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, to say the very least, if he recalls the previous references to this very subject made by his predecessors over a very long period of time. There has been nothing which has aroused greater suspicion for many years past in Uganda than this suggestion that it may be drawn into the orbit of other East African Territories. We have in the statement of the Great Lukiko itself references to a number of occasions on which the people of Uganda did make it very clear indeed that they regarded any such proposition with the utmost disfavour.
However, I am not proposing to pursue that line, because we are told that the Kabaka, at any rate, has accepted the assurance of the Government, although obviously one must recognise that the suspicions aroused by that statement of the right hon. Gentleman are bound to colour the general attitude of the people in Uganda towards any assurances that may be given.
1266 What concerns me more is the position in Uganda, to which the right hon. Gentleman did not refer. It is relatively easy to take the legalistic line on this matter, although my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) has already cast doubts upon the position of the country under treaty obligations. One can easily dismiss the suggestion that Uganda might revert to Foreign Office administration. It is not unnatural that the idea should have occurred to them, because, after all, they have heard that if people are under Foreign Office administration they at least have the opportunity, even if they do not use it to the best advantage, as in the Sudan, of deciding their own future. The suggestion that they might revert to the Foreign Office is therefore not unnatural, although it is one which we on this side of the House obviously cannot support.
But that does not touch the fundamental matter, which is indicated in a paragraph of the statement of the Great Lukiko, in which they refer to the policies of trusteeship and partnership and try to point out that in their eyes there is a difference between trusteeship and partnership. Their view of their position vis-à-vis Her Majesty's Government, they suggest, is that Her Majesty's Government are in a position of trusteeship, which means that the people should be allowed to develop in their own way and along the lines which seem best to them. The lines which seem best to them are against a constitutional development which would make them a multi-racial partnership State.
That seems to me to be the fundamental fear in the minds of these Africans, for they have been brought up to regard Uganda as being different in character from, for example, Kenya or from Southern Rhodesia, which are multi-racial States. They have been brought up to regard themselves as an African State, with some Europeans there—missionaries, traders, civil servants and so on—and with an increasing number of Indian business and commercial interests, which quite clearly they regard with apprehension; and until very recently they have considered themselves as being in all essentials an African State in contradistinction to a multi-racial State.
Under the new constitutional proposals, which are certainly an advance in 1267 democracy in one sense, they see themselves being asked to adopt a constitution which makes certain changes in the representation in that territory, including this proposal for the Governor's cross-bench, which, of course, is a device which is already used in Kenya. I suggest that one of the fundamental apprehensions which underlies the unrest in Uganda is that they feel that they are willy-nilly being drawn along this road towards being a multi-racial community, which they do not wish to be.
It is perfectly true that there are other factors in the situation. There is a good deal in what the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) said about the Baganda having regarded themselves as persons in a privileged position, and the analogy drawn with the Gold Coast and the comparison with the Ashanti are reasonably fair, but what interests me above all is that by his failure to reassure the people of Uganda upon their ultimate future, the Secretary of State appears to be doing in Uganda what he has already most unfortunately succeeded in doing in Nyasaland and other parts of Africa—uniting the traditional rulers, of whom the Kabaka is the most notable example, with the politically-conscious Africans
They are united in their feeling that they wish to oppose a system which is likely in their view fundamentally to affect their future status. It is not only the Kabaka and the Great Lukiko who have been agitating in Buganda in recent weeks. I have a quotation here from the local Press in which it is perfectly clear that the Uganda National Congress and representatives of the Co-operative organisations and so on have also been deeply disturbed by the trend of events in Buganda.
So, although there are certain particular problems in relation to the position of the Kabaka himself and the traditional rulers of Buganda, they are by this kind of action being brought into a partnership with persons who have very different social positions and social influence, but who equally feel with them that the future of Buganda as a society is being threatened by the kind of developments which are proceeding—partially this constitutional development and partially the 1268 economic development—which, advantageous as they are in many respects, also bring with them, naturally enough, an influx of people—European technicians and foremen, for example—which is introducing a fresh element into the pattern of Buganda society.
That is obviously a necessary corollary for industrial development in a country which cannot itself produce technicians; but, as we have seen in many other parts of the world, it is an extremely frightening development for the local people, who feel that their own position and their own independence is thereby being threatened, although it may bring them certain material advantages.
I think that this is the real clue to the uneasiness in the territory at the present time, and I am fortified in this opinion by reading an extremely interesting article in "The Times" of 21st November, written by their special correspondent, in which I thought he made very clear the underlying causes of unrest in Uganda. He concluded upon a note which seemed to me to be most emphatically the right one, that the only thing that would really meet the needs of the situation at the present time was a clear declaration of the goal towards which Uganda is to move.
That is not a statement by any Left-wing politician in this country or any agitator in Uganda. That is a considered statement from a highly-trained observer, working on the staff of "The Times," and I would most earnestly suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if he hopes to have any success whatsoever with the deputation which is to come here, he should take into account not only the matter on which he touched this evening—perhaps I might have the attention of the right hon. Gentleman for one moment, because this is a serious matter.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The hon. Lady must not think that I was not paying attention because I was speaking to my right hon. Friend. She might like to know that I consider that she is on one of the most important points in the whole of this subject. This gives me an opportunity of saying that we regard the future of Uganda primarily as an African State with the proper safeguards for the minorities. I think that she is on a perfectly sound point.
§ Mrs. White
I am glad to have that assurance. If the right hon. Gentleman is so fully aware of this point, why did not he emphasise it in his own statement? If it has to be drawn out of him accidently by intervention in debate, that seems to me to show that he has not got the matter in full perspective, and if he was thinking of leaving it to whoever is to reply, I think that it is a statement which should have been made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government by the senior Minister responsible for this matter.
I conclude by re-emphasising that none of the arguments about the position in Buganda, the difficulties of democratisation, the diminishing number of representatives proportionately with Uganda in the Legislative Council, is of itself of fundamental importance. All permit of discussion. However, it is clear that unless the Government are prepared to give the kind of assurances which will convince the Africans on this major question, they can look forward only to a series of extremely difficult situations in this territory, which we all believe should be one of the most prosperous territories in the whole of Africa.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
As there is not much time left, I shall not reply to the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White). However, it is not unreasonable to say that I regret that she should spoil what is admittedly a perfectly genuine point by trying to inject into the debate a small particle of venom against my right hon. Friend.
It is very noticeable that the personal attack upon my right hon. Friend has diminished in vigour, if it has not, as it ought to have done, disappeared. When the news of the very grave step which my right hon. Friend has taken was first announced it was greeted with howls. Nothing could have been more emphatic than the challenge to resign which came from the Opposition. As to the attack which was launched today, I am sorry that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) has not been in the Chamber to see how it has been followed up. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) launched the attack with considerably more restraint than might have been expected 1270 from some of the utterances previously made. Anyone who heard the speech of my right hon. Friend, in his own defence, must have realised that once that speech had been made the pith of the attack had gone.
I wish to say, very sincerely, that it is impossible to separate such an incident as this in Uganda, with its sad consequences, from the rest of the colonial picture such as in Malaya—
§ Mr. Peyton
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wait before he cheers. I should be very much obliged if he would listen and give me a chance to develop an argument which is not exclusively a party point.
§ Mr. Peyton
The serious point is that this is the sort of thing which has developed all over our Colonial Territories. In Malaya, Kenya and Guiana we have seen very similar occurrences.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
Does the hon. Gentleman not think that the cause of the trouble in Malaya and Kenya is entirely different from that in Africa? Is not the one Communism and the other nationalism?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The discussion on the Motion must be confined to the terms on which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brookway) received the leave of the House to proceed. It is not in order to discuss wider colonial questions on this Motion.
§ Mr. Peyton
I was trying to indicate that the factors which operate in this case also operate in many other fields. None of these problems is a short-term one. They are all serious long-term problems.
As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) knows only too well, these problems are not born overnight, but live a long life before they emerge into the light. The right hon. Gentleman who, I hope, will give some attention to these matters, will be the first to admit that no one who has occupied the position of Secretary of State for the Colonies can entirely dodge responsibility for the present-day problems of the 1271 Colonial Empire. On this particular point I deeply regret that hon. Members opposite should be so precipitate on these colonial problems as to launch attacks before, as they admit, they have the adequate information on which any attack can be based.
§ Mr. Peyton
I do not think that the solution to this problem or any of the others to which I would not be in order in referring to now will be found if we allow in this House a situation to be created under which, in an emergency or any reversal in colonial progress, one of the main parties in the State feels it encumbent upon itself to launch vicious and personal attacks upon whoever is the Minister at the time.
The solution to these great problems will be found only with patience, good will and hard work. In this part of Africa, as in others, we are witnessing not the effects of the political policy of any one party; we are witnessing the effects of the launching upon a barely awakened Continent of the full virus of Western civilisation. The problems which we will be called upon to face in the future are immense, and I very much hope we in this House will be able, somehow or other, to reach a point where we can put colonial affairs genuinely above party politics.
I do not for one moment seek to impugn the sincerity of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, but I ask him, in the name of colonial peace and in the name of those people whose interests he advocates with such eloquence, to be careful and to pause before he gives the appearance elsewhere, which doubtless he does not intend, that this is a political matter and one which can be used in British party politics.
§ Mr. Brockway
My concern is not a conflict in British politics. My overwhelming concern is the interests of the peoples in the Colonies, and one has got to express one's views in this House otherwise all over Africa they will be turning against this House and against the Government.
§ Mr. Peyton
I fully appreciate the view and the aim of the hon. Gentleman, but 1272 what I am saying to him is that sometimes he is in danger of releasing something very different from what he intends by these repeated assaults upon the Minister, which come so monotonously and which, as in the case of today's debate, are unfounded. I think the hon. Gentleman's own sincerity might lead him very far astray.
§ Mr. Grimond
While the hon. Gentleman may deplore the form of the debate—I do not say anything about that—surely it is a perfectly proper matter to raise and debate in Parliament. If we should not discuss important questions, such as this, there is little left for us.
§ Mr. Peyton
I hope I have not given the impression that I deplore the fact that this matter should have been discussed in this House, but what I am deploring—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) should have misunderstood it, because I had hoped it was very clear—was that these difficult matters should not be made the vehicle of a vicious and venomous attack upon my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Peyton
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was in the House when I started my speech. [An Hon. Member: "Where was he?"] If the hon. Gentleman, who helped to launch this debate, is interested in its progress, he has not been very conspicuous. [An Hon. Member: "Ask him where he was."] I will repeat one thing I said at the beginning, which was that when my right hon. Friend announced this decision earlier in the week it was greeted with an exceedingly venomous response and action from that side of the House, and I thought that was to be deplored.
The position which faces us in Buganda and the rest of the Colonial Empire is this: Parliament is the trustee of these territories and none of us, no matter what benches we sit on, can escape a slight measure of responsibility in a matter 1273 which deeply concerns the welfare of all races and of all colours. It ill becomes us in this House, with those great responsibilities, to face them in a mood where party gain outweighs them. I believe, too. that it is most unworthy of any who are conscious of the larger picture to seek to use this issue as an attack on any Minister, no matter to what party he may belong.
I accept the very sincere speech which was made by my right hon. Friend to night and I hope, I believe with reason, that there are many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who, when they search their own hearts and minds on this difficult matter, will feel that he has acquitted himself with great distinction and with great credit.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
I propose to be brief, Mr. Speaker, because I know that both sides of the House are anxious to hear the concluding speeches. This is the first time that I have taken part in a debate on colonial affairs, and I would not seek to do so now were I not deeply concerned at what has been happening in recent days. The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) made a speech of some heat and, although he might not have meant it, along party lines, begging the House to approach the matter in a non-partisan spirit.
I wish to raise three points. First, I think it is clear to the House, as it will be to the country, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State made a colossal blunder in the speech which he delivered during, I think, the month of August, but certainly some time ago. Being conscious of the trouble that was caused in Africa, he felt it necessary to send an explanation to the leaders of the people and to assure them that his speech did not mean what he said.
I feel that ordinary people in this country have had their consciences aroused at the repeated outbreaks of trouble within the Colonial Empire. They are asking where next trouble will arise. It can hardly be a coincidence that all these troubles follow in the wake of the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ Mr. Thomas
I confess to being a Socialist and I approach this matter from a Socialist angle, and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's name is striking a chill of fear in the minds of coloured people. That is why I feel that as long as he holds his office there is a likelihood of trouble. It may well be that other hon. Members think that the right hon. Gentleman does not deserve the name and reputation which he suffers or enjoys.
§ Mr. Thomas
It is not in my imagination that a king has been dragged out of his territory and brought here, that he has been deprived of the right to go back to his people, and that the Secretary of State is saying to one who has enjoyed the confidence of his Government and his own people that he should no longer have the right to enter into free dealings with the people of Buganda. I feel convinced—and that is why I sought permission to speak tonight—that we are seeing a recrudescence of a spirit which was fashionable before the First World War but which is resented in increasing measure by enlightened people throughout the world today. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, who may be convinced that he has acted rightly in this matter, is none the less responsible, by his blundering speech earlier in the summer, for the trouble which faces us today.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
When on Monday afternoon I heard the statement by the Secretary of State for the Colonies announcing the decision which he intimated to the House, I confess that I was shocked and dismayed. It was my very great privilege and pleasure two and a half years ago to go to Uganda for a very short visit. At the time that I went there, the people in Uganda were deeply concerned about a trouble that had been growing more acute month by month.
Uganda is an important cotton-producing country. The cotton is grown by the Africans, but the ginneries were practically all owned by members of other races, in the main Asians. Over the years there 1275 has been trouble, sometimes serious trouble and even bloodshed, about this economic dispute which often became entangled in racial disputes. I met representatives of all the people. I met the Africans and asked them, "What do you want, what are your demands?" They said that they felt that they, as the producers of the cotton, ought to be allowed to gin it themselves and not see their product handed over to others who made big profits while they lived in comparative poverty.
I discussed this problem with them and we eventually arrived at what I thought then and still think now—and here I believe we are at one with the Secretary of State—was not only a solution but a great venture, for the future success of which I hope that we all give our very best wishes. It is the method by which Africans, through their co-operative societies, have their own ginneries. By that means we have begun to remove what for many years has been a source of contention oftentimes threatening the peace of Buganda.
Some time later it was also my privilege to recommend the appointment of Sir Andrew Cohen as Governor of Uganda. I believed then, and I believe now, that it was a good choice. I have the greatest regard for him, for his ability, for his character and for his deep devotion to the African peoples and his deep desire for their progress. For these personal reasons, when I came to the House and heard that trouble had broken out in Uganda, and that this action had been taken I realised that this seemingly one peaceful spot in Africa was now to follow the others. I must say to the House, to the country and to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), that the country is deeply disturbed about Africa.
§ Mr. Peyton
The right hon. Member has referred to me. All I was attempting to say in my speech was that these problems are not immediately caused but have their roots well back in the past. I say to the right hon. Member that it is less than fair when he refuses to admit that there is some continuing responsibility in these matters.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Of course there is continuing responsibility for everyone. I admit that; is that what the hon. Member wants? For the moment what I want 1276 him to say is whether he is happy about affairs in Africa.
§ Mr. Peyton
The right hon. Member asked me a question. I did not want to interrupt him, but he asked whether I am happy about affairs in Africa. My answer is what I tried to say in my speech. There are immense problems in Africa about which no one could be happy, but which will not be solved without universal good will in this country.
§ Mr. Griffiths
All I say is that if this House does not at this time express its anxiety about Africa, it loses its right to speak for the British nation because there is deep concern which is widespread and not confined to one party, one section, or one class.
But we thought that Uganda, at any rate, was immune from all this. When the decision was made I did my best—[Interruption.] We all listened quietly and with attention to the Secretary of State, but since I began to speak there have been murmers from the other side of the House. I questioned the Secretary of State on Monday. My anxiety at this stage in this very unhappy conflict was that the Secretary of State and the Government should not close the door. I made a suggestion, in a question to the right hon. Gentleman, which I hoped he would accept. He did not accept it. I repeated that suggestion to the Prime Minister in the hope that he would accept it, but he did not accept it either. I wish they had done so, for my anxiety was that before this matter reached a stage in which final decisions were made with consequences that no one, neither the Secretary of State, myself nor anyone in this House, can envisage, action for a settlement in Uganda should be taken.
It is very important for us to try to understand why the Kabaka, the Lukiko and the people of Buganda have taken these steps. Unless we understand why they have taken these steps, we shall not know what is the problem that we have to solve. I have done my best to seek to understand what is behind this and why they have put forward these proposals. We must realise that they did not put forward the proposals until August of this year—not last year nor the year before. The Secretary of State said this evening that this crisis began to develop in August. I therefore sought every oppor- 1277 tunity I had to find out why. I have come to the conclusion that the root of this trouble lies in fears and that what we have to do is to apply ourselves to the problem of removing those fears.
Let me begin with August, and with the speech of the Secretary of State. That speech was made in London and was scarcely publicised in this country, but it was blazoned in every newspaper in East Africa, the English newspapers to begin with. It was reprinted in other newspapers published in the native languages. An English newspaper said right across the front page:A new Dominion envisaged in East Africa.It went on to describe how the Secretary had made this statement and had looked forward to the future when there would be a federation in East Africa. We must realise that the speech was made in July and was widely publicised in East Africa at a time when Africa was disturbed about the Central African federation, by controversies and fears, and by the view that we were setting up a federation against the wishes of the Governments there. In that atmosphere it comes out that Her Majesty's Government envisage that there would at some time be a federation in East Africa.
Reference has been made to the memorandum that has been submitted by the Great Lukiko of Buganda. They may have interpreted the speech of the right hon. Gentleman wrongly, but that is not the point. It is essential to our relationship with a people of this kind to understand how these fears have been aroused. Let me quote the Memorandum:We, the undersigned, to wit, the members of the Great Lukiko of the Buganda Kingdom, on the behalf of the people whom we represent and on our own, wish to bring both to Her Majesty's Representative in Uganda and to Her Majesty's Government at home the great alarm with which we received the words of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, which were reported in the issue of the "East African Standard" of 2nd July, 1953, to the effect that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government in future to federate the three East African Territories, Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika. The people of this Kingdom were alarmed because of their well-known dislike and fear of the federation of the three Territories. They demanded that the Great Lukiko should give expression, through all possible legitimate channels, of their feelings about this subject.Then they proceed to put their demands. They say that the speech was taken by the people of Uganda as a 1278 declaration of policy by Her Majesty's Government and as a declaration of their intention to bring about federation. Please remember that they were not thinking of federation in a vacuum but in the context of what was happening in Central Africa. That is the first fear. It is not the only one. There are others. This is the problem we shall all have to face, and it is very important.
An hon. Gentleman opposite referred to the virus of Western civilisation. The fact is that Uganda is at the beginning of a new era in its history. In a few months Her Majesty will open the Owen Falls. There are resources, and it may well be very rich resources, in Uganda. Is that the beginning of a great industrial revolution? The immigrant population at the moment is not very big, but there is the fear that as the Owen Falls hydroelectric power scheme comes into operation, and industries, including such basic industries as steel, expand, so the immigrant population will substantially increase.
It is important for us to realise how the Africans visualise this development, and we must try to see that, as far as possible, their economic and political development march side by side. There is deep concern among the Africans as to what their position will be vis-à-vis the immigrant population when this industrial development comes about.
We know what economic development has meant in the other Colonial Territories for which we are responsible. We know that in the main all the important posts have been in the hands of the immigrants, mainly Europeans, and that the Africans themselves have had to take a subservient place in their own economic development.
These fears are very real at the moment, and we cannot hide that fact from ourselves. Such fears have their political impact. The Africans know that for some time to come the immigrant population would occupy all the key posts in any such development, and would therefore achieve ever greater political importance and power in the country. Whatever blessings industrial development might bring, in the end it would mean that Uganda would follow the same pattern as that of other multi racial communities in which there is a dominant and a subservient race.
1279 I now return to the subject of the new Constitution which, basically, does not differ from the Constitution which was in operation when we on this side of the House were the Government. The figures were given by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), and let me say that in opening this debate my hon. Friend put his case forthrightly and honestly, as he was entitled to do. He instanced the inference behind those figures. [Hon. Members: "They were wrong."] They were slightly wrong, I know, but they did not destroy the basic principle, which is that the Africans themselves say that they have now achieved in their own country the position in which they and the immigrant population share political power. They accept that at this point in their development as a necessary transitional stage.
The Colonial Secretary said earlier in an intervention something which was of very great importance. I have discussed it since with people from East Africa. It is that the Africans want to be assured that Uganda will eventually develop into an African State; in other words, into a democracy; and in regard to these multi-racial nations, if our policy is to succeed there has to be democracy, and if there is democracy, then all of them, in that sense, will be African States. They are deeply concerned about this, and it is this background that explains what the Baganda suggested, and the proposals which they put forward which led to this crisis.
Let us see what they fear. It was the fear of penetration, and of economic developments leading to political changes which would give them a subservient place, which led them to make this decision. First, they say in this memorandum, if I may paraphrase it, "If this is the future of Buganda, if it is going to be federation with the other territories, with all that that means, if it is going to develop politically in such a way that we shall occupy an inferior position, we must take steps now to safeguard ourselves." And that is what these proposals mean. They go back to 1894. Why? Because in the Agreement of 1894 Buganda was separate from, and outside, Uganda. They say, therefore, "If Buganda is to develop into a State other than an African State, in which we 1280 shall be subservient, our defence is to go back to the 1894 Agreement and preserve our independence as a kingdom."
Secondly, they say that they want responsibility transferred to the Foreign Office, and the reason for that flows from the first. Since they have those fears, and they believe in them quite sincerely—we should be doing ourselves a grave injustice in the House if we did not realise that—they believe that the way for them to defend themselves against what they believe will be the developments is to go back to the Kingdom of Buganda and the 1894 Agreement. It was, then, rather natural that they should suggest, "Let us go back to the Foreign Office" because in 1894 the Foreign Office was responsible for Buganda.
I believe that I have stated what is at the root of all this, beginning in August, following the speech about federation, and followed up by the fears of economic developments and their political consequences. Let us all remember that these Baganda constitute a very old African State. The present Kabaka is, I believe, the 37th of his line. They have their own form of Government, they have a Lukiko, which was a council of chiefs, and which has, with the consent andagreement—not always, but generally, given—of the Kabakas, become democratised, and is to be further democratised. Here, therefore, is an old kingdom, with old traditions, which felt that these affairs were beginning to involve it, and the natural protection was to go back to the position of a separate kingdom.
Those are their fears, and we have to address ourselves to the problem of removing them. We may think their fears unreasonable and irrational, but there they are, and unless we can remove them, then quite frankly there can be neither in Buganda nor elsewhere the progressive evolutionary development which we want, and we shall have conflict all the time.
The Secretary of State issued a statement which was accepted by the Baganda concerning the position in regard to federation, but there were words in it—and I hope that the Minister, when he replies will deal with it—which, I believe would better not have been used then, 1281 and would better be not used now. There is reference to the future and to the desire of the inhabitants for federation. I beg the House to realise that putting in words of that kind, saying we shall not commit ourselves about the future, is not enough.
What is wanted is a categorical assurance that federation will not be imposed upon the people of Buganda unless they themselves, the Africans, want it and desire it and express their views on it. I do not think that any other assurance would remove this difficulty. In addition, we ought to get a declaration from the Government, supported by this side of the House, that the future which we envisage for Buganda is that of a democratic State within the British Commonwealth, and a democratic African State. If we can do that, we shall do a great deal to remove this difficulty.
I now come to the future. The Kabaka is in this country. He has seen the Secretary of State. I have had the opportunity of meeting him and talking with him during the day. I understand that there is a possibility, indeed a probability, that the Secretary of State will see him again. I do not think I am misrepresenting him when I say that I think he is anxious for a settlement. We all are. How dangerous it is to say, "This is our final word; this is our decision." There are times when that has to be said, but surely in a situation of this kind we should take every possible opportunity of arriving at a settlement before we say our final word. I hope that the Minister will say now that the final word has not been said and that the matter can still be discussed.
I wish to make a suggestion. I understand that the Secretary of State has had a request from Buganda that a delegation should see him. The Kabaka is here and a delegation is prepared to come here. I wish to make this suggestion to the Secretary of State, sincerely and on my own responsibility, and I also make the suggestion, across the seas, to the Governor, for whom I have a deep personal respect. I suggest not that the delegation should come here, but that the Secretary of State, taking the Kabaka with him, should go to Buganda and settle this matter. I hope that that 1282 suggestion will not be turned down without consideration.
If the Kabaka and the delegation are here, what will happen in Buganda? This is a stage of vital importance. We do not want this affair to develop as matters have developed in other territories in Africa. Surely it is in the interests of ourselves and of Buganda that we should take every step we can to prevent this matter developing into such a serious crisis that we can see the possibility of the whole of Africa going up in flames. I therefore suggest, on my own responsibility, that the Governor himself should invite the Secretary of State and the Kabaka to go there and resume discussions in order to see whether the matter can be settled.
For those reasons, I ask that the Government will say that they have not said their final word. Speaking for my hon. Friends, and for a very large part of this nation, I can say that there is deep concern about African affairs and it is our intention to ask that an opportunity be given to the House to express its grave concern at the handling of African affairs by the present Government. We shall do that at the appropriate time. We shall accept the responsibility of deciding when to do it.
We do not want to do anything at any time which would prevent a possible settlement of the problems and difficulties of Uganda. We shall bear that in mind in deciding when the time has come to bring before this House and the country what we feel very deeply and sincerely—and what we believe the country feels, too—our grave concern about the way things are going in Africa and the way in which the Government are handling African affairs. We should not do so at a time which would make it impossible for a settlement to be arrived at.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Is the right hon. Gentleman really suggesting that any Government can leave on the Order Paper a Motion of censure until the right hon. Gentleman chooses to move it? He has already put it down.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I ask the Secretary of State to wait. One of his difficulties is that he never can wait. What disturbs me is not that he speaks like that to me. That does not hurt me. What disturbs 1283 me is that he may sometimes speak in that way to people for whom he is responsible.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a very simple question? He says that he does not want to censure the Government at a time when a settlement is possible. Is it his intention to take off the Order Paper the Motion which he has put down?
§ Mr. Griffiths
If the Secretary of State had waited I was about to say that we would take the Motion off the Order Paper—[An Hon. Member: "It is not on."] I understand that the Motion is not on the Order Paper, but if it were we would take it off so as to give every possible opportunity for this question to be settled.
On Monday I made a gesture, a suggestion, an offer to the Secretary of State. He spurned it. Whether or not he spurns this gesture, I shall advise my right hon. and hon. Friends not to move a censure Motion for the time being in the hope that there will be a settlement. But we shall seek the appropriate moment to move such a Motion, for we believe that we speak for the nation in this matter, and that unless there is a change in the spirit of the administration of Africa we shall lose the whole of the Continent.
§ 9.54 p.m.
The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkins on)
I could not possibly add anything to the very clear, detailed and, I thought, moving account of this painful affair which my right hon. Friend gave to the House this evening. I thought he made an overwhelming case, which completely demolished the whole of the attack. Watching hon. Members opposite I felt quite sure that a large majority of them were convinced not only of the sincerity of that speech, but of its justice. It proved conclusively that in this matter no other course was possible for Her Majesty's Government, the Secretary of State and the Governor.
I have very little time, and I shall try to concentrate on the main points which the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) made in his final remarks. He said that we were all anxious about Africa. Of course we are all anxious about Africa. It is a great, developing 1284 Continent, where nationalism is growing in various ways. We share that anxiety with him. What the right hon. Member was attempting to do, in his speech, was to show that this particular action by the Kabaka at this time was due to the speech which my right hon. Friend made on a totally different occasion in June of this year.
It should be noted, first of all, that it was the Kabaka himself who first took that matter up early in August. The Great Lukiko did not discuss it at all until the end of September, and then merely repeated the three demands which the Kabaka himself had made nearly two months earlier. The Lukiko was, in fact, reflecting his views. It was not in any sense a spontaneous development on the part of the Baganda people which was embodied in that memorandum.
I think that the truth is that, although there may be, in wider circles among the Uganda people, fears of a multi-racial State, the Baganda people themselves fear more the loss of their very privileged position which they have held so long. This fear arises from constitutional reform, from economic developments, and in many other ways.
On the concluding remarks of the right hon. Gentleman I must make one thing perfectly clear. My right hon. Friend has said that he will receive the delegation of the Great Lukiko when it arrives and discuss all the problems which arise out of these unhappy events, and, certainly, he would again see the Kabaka on any matters which he wishes to raise with him in regard to his future.
But the Kabaka has been given repeated opportunities of withdrawing from the position which he has taken up on these two vital points. He has been given repeated chances. He has talked with Sir Andrew Cohen, who has told us that he has done everything to create confidence in the mind of the Kabaka, to create trust and foster good relations between them. But Sir Andrew Cohen has told us in terms that he has had no success at all.
I should not be doing my duty by the House if I did not say, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, that the possibility of the Kabaka's being able to return to Uganda must be discounted. [Hon. Members: "Shame."] It is painful to us to have to say this, but that is a fact.
1285 I think that whatever views hon. and right hon. Members in all parts of the House may have about the merits of this sad affair they will all agree that it is tragic and painful that this young man, born in the royal family of Buganda, with all the advantages of education, and of an honoured father who co-operated loyally with the British Government, who has been given opportunities by the Government to participate in constitutional and economic and social developments in Buganda and in the Protectorate as a whole, should have thrown all this away—[Hon. Members: "Oh."]—should have thrown away all these opportunities of service to his country—
Mr. Hopkins on
—and have done so out of obstinacy and a misguided conception of his duty. He has done this by means of an attempt to violate the 1900 Agreement in certain vital respects 1286 which can only damage the interests of his subjects and all the rest of the Protectorate of Uganda.
I do not know whether it is the intention of the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends to divide the House on this issue, but if they do so I shall certainly ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to go into the Lobby against them not only on the merits of this case, but in the belief that the vast majority of the Members of this House are now convinced that this is in the interests of good government—
§ It being Ten o'clock the Motion for the Adjournment lapsed, without Question put.