§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
The scope of the debate must obviously be very wide. It covers three important subjects of vital concern both to ourselves and to millions of people in the Asian countries and in our Colonies. There is the Colombo Plan, which at its inception during the existence of the Labour Government aroused the hopes of the Asian nations; there is the work of the United Nations Special Agencies, and there is also the question of what progress has been achieved in promoting economic development in our African Colonies, in the West Indies and in the Far East.
At the conclusion of the debate on the subject of the United Nations Special Agencies in June last year, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, West 2254 (Dr. Summerskill) commented on the evasive tactics employed by the spokesman for the Government, as she had asked several very pertinent questions relating to the activities of the Special Agencies and, in particular, the conduct of the Government. Unfortunately, the Minister of Health, who was the principal spokesman for the Government, indulged in a succession of evasions. Perhaps that was not surprising. But the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs combined with the Minister of Health most successfully in keeping hon. Members completely in the dark. My right hon. Friend's comment was:Absolutely disgraceful, and completely incompetent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1952; Vol. 502, c. 1676.]Those were apparently strong words, but I have read and re-read the debate and the comment was more than justified. No attempt was made by the Government spokesman to deal with the important matters which had been raised in the course of the debate. I hope that will not happen on this occasion. We have had enough of that. The Government can play that trick once but not twice. So on this occasion we on this side of the Committee—and, I have not the least doubt, some hon. Members opposite—expect clear, truthful answers to the questions that will be put.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Otherwise we shall be dissatisfied, and even annoyed, and I am sure that the Secretary of State for the Colonies would not wish to annoy us, for that is not characteristic of him.
At the outset, I wish to ask two questions. The first is: Are the Government conscious of the grim tragedy which is being enacted in the under-developed countries, where living standards are distressingly low, where millions of people suffer from malnutrition, and indeed, actual starvation, where disease exists on a vast scale, and where so many people die premature deaths? My second question is: Do the Government consider that enough is being done through the Colombo Plan and the United Nations Special Agencies, together with Government provision in our own Colonies, either in technical assistance or in financial help?
2255 I presume that there is no dispute in any quarter of the Committee about the facts of the situation. AH the reports from the United Nations and the deliberations of many of its subsidiary organisations, reports from the International Labour Office, and indeed statements in the House, confirm our belief that the position is very grave indeed. If the Government have any reservations about the matter, perhaps they will be good enough to illuminate our minds on the subject.
The original purpose behind the Colombo Plan was to help a population of nearly 600 million to raise its living standards. The programme required an expenditure of nearly £2,000 million, an enormous sum. Nevertheless, all that the programme, with its vast expenditure, could achieve, even if completed, is a standard of living equal to that existing at present. The reason for that, it is well known to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, is the annual increase in population in those countries. The fact is—I believe it was stated by the Minister of Health when we last had a debate of this character—that, while food production may be increasing, the growing population overtakes the increase in food production and leaves the situation very much as it was.
The Government have not been over-generous in the matter of financial provision for the Colombo Plan. I do not want to make too much of this—not that it is entirely irrelevant—but the fact is that the financial provision made by the United Kingdom Government for the Colombo Plan derives from sterling balances, and that is all. It is true that the Asian countries benefited from the expenditure incurred by this country during the war, and I would not seek to deny that, but, nevertheless, let it be clearly understood that our financial provision for the Colombo Plan derives from an adjustment of sterling balances.
I want to ask a question. I am not quite sure whether I am to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies or the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; however, the Government are sitting on the other side of the Committee, for the time being, and someone will answer.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
The Government always sit here.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The question I want to ask is what actual progress has been achieved. How are the schemes proceeding? In March, 1952, we had a report from the Consultative Committee on Economic Development in South and South-East Asia. It was presented to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in May, 1952. On the whole, the Report was optimistic in character when the scheme was in its early stages. Since then we have had no further report. One would have assumed that an annual report would have been forthcoming. I should like to know why not.
I believe that, as a result of some questions addressed to the appropriate Department behind the scenes, it was suggested that the Coronation had something to do with the delay. What had the Coronation to do with the activities of the Consultative Committee? Nothing whatever. There must be some reason for the delay and obviously, in the absence of a second report from the Consultative Committee, it is quite impossible to determine whether any real progress has been achieved in the last 12 months. I should be glad if the Government would inform us on that subject.
I now come to another subject which I regard as of considerable importance, namely, the Government's attitude towards the Colombo Plan. In particular, perhaps the Government would inform us what is the principle upon which they believe the operations can be conducted. I am asking that question because of a speech delivered by the Deputy High Commissioner for South-East Asia, Sir John Sterndale Bennett on 8th February this year. I believe it was reported in the "Observer," and as a result my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) directed a Question to the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The Under-Secretary of State informed him that he was misinformed and that his interpretation was faulty. I have provided myself with a full report of the speech, and perhaps I may be permitted to make two quotations from it. The first is this:Perhaps the most striking fact which emerges from the recent Economic Surveys is 2257 that standards of living in the region as a whole are appreciably lower than they were before the war.That confirms what I have already said. The speech goes on:This is shown conclusively by the fall in the amount of food consumed per head of the population.The position had deteriorated. The Deputy High Commissioner later said:But the development plans must go forward. In order that they may go forward without inflation, the various measures are needed. Each country will of course decide for itself to what extent and in what manner each of them will be applied.I would ask hon. Members to take note of this astonishing observation, particularly in view of the Deputy High Commissioner's analysis of the existing position. He said:In the first place, we suggest that measures are needed to restrict consumption in order to leave more money for development.That is not only a contradictory utterance, but most difficult to understand.
Are we to understand that this is the Government's position? If so, the sooner they come off that perch, the better it will be, because if the recipients are extravagant, are wasting resources or are causing inflation we ought to know, and I ask, what is the sense of asking people in those countries to reduce their living standards and to restrict consumption when they are already on a lower standard? I cannot follow the reasoning of Sir John Sterndale Bennett.
Further, are they to starve or die off in great numbers while long-term schemes are developed? Something must be done to keep them alive, even on a very low standard, while the development schemes are fructifying. I should be obliged if the Government would address themselves to this question.
I turn now to technical assistance. There was a paragraph in the "Observer" last Sunday, of which the House should know. It said:The future of the United Nations' Expanded Programme on Technical Assistance, which gives practical aid to under-developed areas in many parts of the world, is threatened by lack of financial support. Britain is among the defaulters; instead of supporting the 'expanded' programme, as she is pledged to do, she has contracted her contributions.The paper goes on to say that this will have an adverse effect on development schemes in the Colonies.
2258 There is no use talking about proceeding with schemes of economic development unless in the first instance we can provide the requisite technical staffs. That is the very basis of development activities. We are entitled to ask, why have the Government reduced the sums made available for this purpose? In the first year—I will relate the facts and if Government spokesmen do not agree with them, no doubt they will controvert what I am saying—or at any rate during the first 18 months—[Interruption.] I presume that the Under-Secretary of State agrees with what I am saying—the Government's contribution was £760,000 or about 103 per cent. of the budget. In the second period—presumably it was 12 months—it was reduced to £450,000, the percentage being 63 per cent.
In the autumn of 1952, no doubt because of some anxiety on this score, a committee of consultants drew up a preliminary budget on the basis of all the practical proposals which Governments had sent in. They discovered that the sum required on a practical basis would be £43 million. This was reduced to £25 million in December of last year and—I ask hon. Members to note this particularly—of this sum our Government contributed only £50,000 more, making in all £500,000 or a percentage of 56 of the budget. Obviously there has been a substantial reduction in our contribution.
The Secretary-General in April of this year reported on the United Nations Programme of Technical Assistance, and he said, after referring to the heartening account of the technical assistance administration:Against this encouraging development must be set the fact that at the very moment when the programme was getting into stride, its further growth has been at any rate temporarily curtailed by shortage of funds.In those circumstances, I think we are entitled to ascertain from the Government why the sum has been reduced. Moreover, all this creates uncertainty in the minds of those who would be available for work of this character. A firm figure must be stated for a period of years, as otherwise we cannot get the technicians whom we want, and certainly not those of a high standard. We need quality as much as quantity in this connection.
2259 Yesterday a report appeared in the Press—and it was confirmed in this morning's newspapers—to the effect that Russia has entered the arena. Her entry may be belated, more is the pity, but, nevertheless, better late than never. The report stated:Russia today announced her readiness to take part in the United Nations technical assistance programme for under-developed countries, and promised 400 million roubles—£350,000—for this work in 1953.That is a very heartening report, and it does not seem to me that the United Kingdom can drag its feet in this connection. I hope it is not going to do so.
I now turn to the subject of Colonial economic development, to which I attach considerable importance. I speak on this subject not for the first time—not recently, of course, but many years ago in the House, long before many hon. Members opposite even thought of coming here. I have always felt that, important as are self-government, democratic institutions and the application of democratic principles in our Colonial Territories, the very basis of self-government and of social well-being, and the like, is economic development. Nevertheless, the application of democratic principles is of vital importance. Indeed, I recall the speech I made on this subject during the war, and which was highly praised by the present Prime Minister. Not that that did me any good, because usually praise by the Prime Minister can get one into trouble. I merely point out the facts.
The Conservative Party's attitude towards development is truly astonishing. We have always assumed that they claim a monopoly of the Empire, what is now called the Commonwealth of Nations. But before the war hardly anything was done. Does anyone dispute that?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am not singling out the hon. Member for attack, so there is no reason for his interjection.
During the war, some of us made demands on the Coalition Government, and I remember a debate in which the late Oliver Stanley, who was an excellent Colonial Secretary, took part and in which we pressed him to spend more on economic development. What are the 2260 Government doing about all this? No doubt the Colonial Secretary will tell us.
Take the Colonial Development Corporation. I really cannot understand the Government's attitude towards that Corporation. The sum of £110 million has been placed at the disposal of the C.D.C. covering a period of years, and in a recent statement the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs said that the primary purpose of the Colonial Development Corporation is not to lend money, but to carry out development. That is an excellent statement, but it seems that the Government have now made profitability the principal test. Unless the Colonial Development Corporation can make schemes pay, and, what is more, recoup the Government for losses sustained in the past, and can associate themselves with private enterprise, then it seems obvious that the Colonial Development Corporation will be hamstrung.
Anyone who knows anything about the nature of colonial development must expect losses in the first few years. There has been a lot of talk about losses sustained in the course of the development of these schemes, but it is obvious that in these arid countries, where schemes always take a long time to fructify, losses must be sustained. What are the Government doing? They are adopting a policy of caution which prevents the C.D.C. from taking risks and indulging in any bold experiment. In other words, the Colonial Secretary is saying to the C.D.C, "Any development schemes on which you enter from now onwards must be confined to what is safe." That will not do. For them to proceed on these lines mean that there is a measure of uncertainty about it. They are cribbed, cabined and confined in their operations.
Why should not some of the dead capital be wiped out? Would not that be a good thing? Why should not the interest charges be reduced? In fact, they have been increased to 4½ per cent. Is development only to proceed on the basis of assured profits? If that is so, we might as well leave the whole of these schemes to private enterprise and be done with it. Is that the Government's intention?
I now want to ask about Lord Reith. I am not going to criticise him personally 2261 —of course not—but what is his position now? Why have the Government permitted him to undertake work outside the Colonial Development Corporation? Is it because there is not enough to do, or because they want the scheme to be tapered off? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to tell us. Or, again, is it on the basis that this is only a part-time undertaking anyway? I think we are entitled to know.
I should also like to know why Professor Arthur Lewis, who is regarded as a man of great repute, was dismissed by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am very sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but it is unfair to Professor Arthur Lewis to say that he was dismissed. The term of his appointment came to an end; there was no question of dismissal.
§ Mr. Shinwell
As my hon. Friends say, why was his appointment not continued? He was doing excellent work. I am bound to say that I am suspicious regarding the Government's attitude on this matter. I can only assume that they are soft-pedalling on the whole of these processes; and we do not care very much for that attitude. The fact is that the Tories, with some honourable exceptions—and there were some honourable exceptions—have paid lip service only to such developments. That must be changed.
I wish to direct attention to what actually transpired at the Commonwealth Economic Conference. I see from a periodical called "West Africa"—the right hon. Gentleman knows of it—that the question was asked, "What is development?" This related to the proceedings of the Commonwealth Economic Conference. Perhaps I had better read it. It says:The mystery about what is and what is not development continues to deepen. At the Commonwealth Economic Conference there was, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House of Commons on 3rd February, a slight difference of opinion as to whether all developments should be based solely on economic grounds with a view to helping the balance of payments, or whether in under-developed countries a degree of social development should be permitted to help the people of those countries.The Chancellor of the Exchequer posed a very interesting question, but so far as 2262 I know he has vouchsafed no reply, at any rate not a satisfactory one.
What was discussed at the Commonwealth Economic Conference? What conclusion was reached about future economic development? How do the Government interpret the term "economic development." Are we to understand that in future all those schemes are to be based on profit making, or that there is a recognition that in the interim period consumer goods must be provided to the people who require them and until such time as development schemes have been applied, so that the standard of life can be generally raised in an indigenous character and without further aid from external sources? We ought to know.
I should like to express a view which is, perhaps, not a party view but one that is worth throwing into the pool of discussion. My view is that colonial development is as much a matter for the Commonwealth countries as it is for the United Kingdom. There ought to be a Commonwealth economic council sitting in London with a competent and lively secretariat concerning itself constantly with such matters. I have come to this conclusion for many reasons, but there is one that occurs to me.
Suggestions have been made that, because we cannot provide adequate capital for economic development of the Colonies, either public or private in character, we should enlist the aid of the United States. That is an excellent idea, but if we are proposing to enlist the aid of the United States, why not enlist the aid of our Commonwealth countries—Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa—to a much larger degree? It may be argued that they do not have the available capital.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that both Australia and New Zealand are giving very considerable encouragement and practical help in the Colombo Plan. Canada is associating itself with the Volta project. That sort of thing is already taking place.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Anything that is being done under the Colombo Plan is on a modified scale; that does not touch the fringe of the problem. This forces me to say that there is no imagination in the Colonial Office about this matter, and 2263 certainly very little imagination on the other side of the Committee. This is one of the biggest projects facing the United Kingdom, for reasons which I shall give later.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The hon. Member has had one opportunity and that is about as much as he is entitled to. No doubt he will avail himself of the opportunity of speaking if he catches your eye, Sir Charles. I do not want to occupy too much time.
It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman—and this is not surprising—looks at every one of these questions, as he is bound to do—because he is, or was in the past, a big business man, whatever he may be in the future—from the angle of what profit can be made. That is his position. That will not do.
Now I want to come to a question that I have addressed to the right hon. Gentleman several times; that is, the question of transport, not only in the West Indies, but in Nigeria. I said a few moments ago that the very basis of economic development is the provision of the necessary technicians, but it also requires transport. What is the good of talking about agricultural development and the like unless we think of it in terms of how what is produced is brought to those who require it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad that hon. Members opposite agree with me. But what are the Government doing about it? We know that in Nigeria there has been a great deal of trouble about locomotives which are obsolete, and the rest, but what are the Government doing about it? They are just sitting down and doing nothing. I admit that that is a favourite pastime of theirs, but it simply will not do.
I wish I had time to deal in detail with the serious transport position in the West Indies. For some time the Canadian "Lady boats" were operating, but they have been taken off the routes. There is no direct passenger line between this country and the West Indies, our oldest Colony. The banana boats carry a few passengers, but they are most unsatisfactory for passenger accommodation. This simply will not do. Something must be done about it.
2264 The right hon. Gentleman will tell me that it can be done with a subsidy. Who is going to provide the subsidy? It is no use appealing to private enterprise. They do not provide subsidies; they want sure profits. I have a document relating to the position in various parts of the West Indies, which deals not only with the subject of economic development and the need for further transport arrangements, but with the subject of defence. If we are ever unfortunate to be involved in trouble in that part of the world, we shall find that the defence arrangements are hopelessly inadequate. That is the opinion of all the experts with whom I have discussed this matter. The right hon. Gentleman had better address himself to this subject.
My hon. Friends behind me will fill in the gaps and will do it very effectively. I have not entered into much detail because I did not want to occupy too much time. One could go on for a long time. There is a mass of material relating to this subject. I have been overwhelmed with material, including some from the United Nations Association, who have passed unanimous resolutions—and these bodies do not all consist of people from this side of the Committee. There is plenty of other material available.
There are people who say that we should help the so-called backward countries in order to ward off the danger from Communism. I do not agree that that is the sole reason. There are other and more valid reasons why we must regard these matters with the utmost concern. We have a moral obligation. It is the duty of those who are more favourably placed to help those who, through no fault of their own, endure much suffering, and it ought not to be done in any spirit of charity. We do not wish to make paupers of them, but to help to raise them to a higher economic level. This is mutual aid, because in due course it will bring benefits to ourselves. That is part of the purpose.
We cannot sustain this nation and its people unless we recognise the supreme importance of three factors in social and economic progress. The first is to increase food production at home; the second is to improve our industrial efficiency; and the third with which we are dealing in this debate, is to help other nations in a true spirit of co-operation, 2265 so that the spectre of poverty shall be banished from the world. That is our purpose.
Lastly, I direct attention to a pronouncement by President Eisenhower a few weeks ago. In the course of a speech to the American Society of News Editors, he said:The Government is ready to ask its people to join with all nations in devoting a substantial percentage of the savings achieved by disarmament to a fund for world aid and reconstruction. The purposes of this great work would be: to help other peoples to develop the undeveloped areas of the world, to stimulate profitable and fair world trade, to assist all peoples to know the blessings of productive freedom.Those are very wise words. How far are the United Kingdom Government going to respond? I recognise the need for a measure of re-armament, of undertaking defence preparations in order to promote our security, but if it is possible for the United States, equally concerned in defending the free world, to reduce its rearmament programme, using the margin saved for the purpose of alleviating the misery and poverty that exists among hundreds of millions in the Asian countries and elsewhere, it seems to me that that is a lead which this Government cannot ignore. We are entitled to an answer.
The Prime Minister expressed himself the day after President Eisenhower made that remarkable pronouncement. In a speech in Glasgow on 17th April this year, he said:We in Britain—and, I doubt not, throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations—have welcomed the massive and magnificent statement of our case made yesterday by President Eisenhower. He has set forth the range of practical issues which divide the world.Can we have an answer? Have the Government considered this? Have they come to any conclusion? This is a world-shaking pronouncement, and upon our decision as to the course we pursue, depends whether we are going to save the world for civilisation or allow it to disappear into the abyss of further impoverishment, suffering and misery. There is a responsibility on the United Kingdom Government. Nor is this a party matter. Every man and woman concerned with the well-being of their fellow men and women must address themselves to this subject, and I ask the 2266 Government to give us plain, fair, truthful and satisfactory answers to the questions that have been addressed to them.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
Let me begin by saying how much I welcome the re-entry—I think that was the phrase he used—of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) into debates on colonial matters. It is a pity that he has been overwhelmed by such a mass of information, none of which, I may say, peeped through more than occasionally during his speech, but I am delighted to see him re-enter these colonial debates in, perhaps, his less strident and vociferous manner. I hope that we shall hear very often from him in the future on these subjects.
It is also pleasant to see a skilful Parliamentarian throw in a few bricks without straw, and he certainly did that. On the whole, I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman made his speech and that he kept the discussion largely away from party lines. Let me say—I hope he will take it in good part—that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will deal largely with those matters concerning the United Nations Agencies and the Colombo Plan, and I shall confine my remarks almost entirely to colonial development. I think that will be the best way of fulfilling the task of taking up the challenge to give information, which the right hon. Gentleman has thrown down.
The Opposition, quite rightly, linked the matter of colonial development with that of the Colombo Plan and the development of the backward areas. It is true of this issue, certainly as much as any other, that we must try to divorce it from day-to-day or ephemeral argument and link it truly to a long-term and consistent policy to which the great political parties can subscribe. In economic affairs it seems to me that continuity is as essential as it is in matrimony. I propose to deal with the subject on the broadest lines and almost entirely on the colonial side of the question.
The right hon. Gentleman asked for information. I feel that the danger is one of giving too much. I seem to remember an article by Mr. Huxley in which he attributed the English word "bore" to the French word "bourrer" 2267 —to stuff. If I give the Committee too much information, I hope I shall be forgiven; it will be because the right hon. Gentleman has called for it.
I think it is necessary—indeed, it is not at all out of place—to begin by looking back 20 years in order to see the progress which has been made. I choose the period of 20 years because in that period we have seen Labour, Coalition and Conservative Governments. In 1932 most of the primary facilities were built or in the course of construction or were laid out. This is partly in answer to the right hon. Gentleman's rather wild statement that nothing was done before the war. Those are his actual words, and we shall see them in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow.
If those who planned and built them in those days could have looked into the future, I agree they would have laid them out on a larger scale. They could not, however, foresee first of all the great boom in primary commodities after the world war 1939–45, or the further boom which came as a result of the Korean war. I think it is true that the Labour Government between 1945 and 1950 had to handle colonial and economic affairs during a period of boom and of insistent demand for most of the products, but they found themselves hampered by the fact that many of the primary facilities were inadequate to the great new economic impetus which these unforeseeable events had brought in their train. Nor are Her Majesty's present Government at all free of these embarrassments. These are points which are of particular interest to the right hon. Gentleman.
What I mean may, perhaps, be illustrated—it is no more than a passing illustration—by looking at the figures of the traffic in the Port of Mombasa. In 1932 the traffic was barely half a million tons, and in 1952 the traffic has risen to about 3 million tons, six times as much. Both our predecessors in office and ourselves are acutely aware of these transport problems and of the congestion caused by this unforeseen and largely unforeseeable rise in the traffic.
It is, no doubt, prudent today, as it has been during the last six or seven years under conditions of considerable financial strain, to concentrate largely on the least spectacular part of our task, 2268 which is to increase the means of handling, transporting and shipping the commodities, mostly agricultural, produced in these countries. That, I think, strikes a note in the right hon. Gentleman's heart. I say "mostly agricultural," but developments in the way of metals and minerals have also been striking, and the tonnages to be handled are large.
I do not want to keep the Committee too long, but I should like to remind them of one or two facts. I am old enough to have witnessed the birth of the Rhodesian copper field—another striking example of something that was done during the period when the right hon. Gentleman says nothing was done. When I was first engaged in some negotiations, the Roan Antelope Mine, for example, was only a series of diamond drill holes. If I were to claim that I was one of the obstetricians who assisted in the delivery, it might be an exaggeration, but at least I was in the position of the Home Secretary at a Royal birth; I was in the next room. It is remarkable to me that such a striking development should have taken place within the working lifetime of somebody as young as I feel. Today the output of the Rhodesian copper field is at the rate of 350,000 tons, valued at over £80 million a year.
The story of oil is hardly less striking. Here is one of the great sources from which we can hope one day, if not entirely to right the balance of payments, at least to make a most massive contribution to this vital subject which is essential to the prosperity of the sterling area. Here again, there are figures which ought to fire our optimism and our hope. In 1932 the production of crude oil in the Colonial Territories amounted to 350,000 tons, and refined oil to 770,000 tons. In 1952 the figures were 3½ million tons and 6½ million tons. Apart from the great project at Aden, which is in the course of construction, there are possibilities of other refineries within the Colonial Territories, notably at Mombasa.
Again, the rise in the production of bauxite has been little short of astonishing, and this of course is directly attributable to the immense expansion in the use of aluminium. Here are the figures: 1932, 65,000; 1952, 2¼ million tons—nearly 30 times the production. I would round this off by referring to manganese 2269 and iron ore. In 1932 manganese production was about 50,000 tons and in 1952, 795,000 tons. Iron ore has increased from ¾ million tons in 1932 to over 2¼ million tons in 1952. Nevertheless, in spite of these startling figures for minerals, the economic present and future of the Colonial Territories is bound up with the prosperity and efficiency of agriculture. Our greatest task, and the one in which we should exercise our imagination and our energies to the full, is in the promotion of agricultural efficiency.
Even here there has been a great change. The Committee will recall the production of sisal, for example, which has risen by 165 per cent.; cotton by 150 per cent.; sugar by 100 per cent.; rubber by 90 per cent., and so on. I would here turn aside to say that there is no ground for optimism concerning rice, which is a serious problem particularly in South-East Asia. The Colonial Territories are dangerously dependent on imported rice. The rice-eating population of the world is increasing, less rice is coming into the world market than before the war and some countries from which it comes are in danger. I would remind the Committee that Her Majesty's Government have recently allocated £3 million for promoting rice-growing schemes in the Colonies. I shall touch on this matter when I come to the second part of my speech.
I have gone at some length—I hope the Committee will forgive me—into these comparisons merely to show what vast advances can be made in colonial development in the short space of 20 years, provided always that general economic conditions permit. I suppose there are few hon. Members present this afternoon who would dissent from the statement that the demand for primary foodstuffs is likely to be high as far forward as we can see. The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington were all in this tenor and I agree with him. That does not necessarily mean at today's prices, although a demand so great is a new and a helpful feature. It is true that already we can see some fall in the price of primary commodities and it is having an effect today on colonial economy. I am trying to outline the broad proposition that for many years, it may probably be for the 2270 rest of our lifetime, there will exist a large demand for primary food supplies.
Many years ago I was a member of the Empire Marketing Board. I do not know how long ago, but it is a long time. We tried to find an outlet for many primary products from the Colonies and a very difficult task it proved to be. A fact which is often forgotten—I say this in no controversial spirit—is that it is unwise to attempt to expand the production of commodities where the existing production cannot be sold. But this difficulty will largely be resolved for us owing to the shortages following the war and the increase in the population, to which the right hon. Gentleman drew attention, which the Pax Britannica has brought in its train. The rising population comes from better economic conditions and great advances in the science of health and medicine and, of course, from the abolition of many tribal customs, not least inter-tribal warfare, which enlightenment has largely banished.
I am sorry to go back on these illustrations of the upward trend over the past 20 years, but I am now coming to the present. But let me remind the Committee that the revenues of Colonial Governments reached a total of £357 million in 1952, compared with about £40 million in 1932. Looking back even further, it is remarkable to note that the revenue of Kenya and Uganda in 1902 was £133,000 and in 1952 it was about £35 million. The revenue of the Federation of Malaya and Singapore was £104 million in 1951, nearly twice the aggregate of all the Colonial Territories in 1939.
I shall now give more recent figures to answer some of the right hon. Gentleman's points. The figures of capital formation are very significant. I cannot give them for very far back, because they cannot be extracted. By capital formation, I mean in the main imported machinery, buildings and public works and development of plantations and mines. We estimate that in 1948 the capital formation in the Colonial Territories reached £190 million sterling. In 1949 it was £210 million; in 1950, £240 million; in 1951, £300 million, and in 1952, £400 million—it is no use the right hon. Gentleman looking so distressed. I 2271 can sympathise with him and I hope I am not boring him with too many statistics.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I was wondering what this has to do with Government policy in these matters. The right hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that the Tory Party, or previous Tory Governments, had very much to do with this outlay of capital?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I certainly suggest that they have had a great deal to do with it. I have already spent a long time explaining some of the developments before the war. The right hon. Gentleman, quite rightly, addressed a number of questions to me. He asked, "What is happening?"—" Why have we no information?"—"Cannot we be told?"—" Are these trends going on?" That was the tenor of his speech. But when I give the figures showing this remarkable rise in capital formation, he intervenes with some scepticism and tries to infer that I am drawing a red herring across the subject—a practice which he carried out very skilfully in his own speech, a very thin and flimsy effort. I am sorry that mine is so substantial.
I turn to the present day to try to tell the Committee how the problem appears to Her Majesty's Government. From what I have said, our first task must be communications—railways, harbours and roads; second, agriculture; third, the exploration and winning of minerals; fourth, the expansion of electrical power, particularly of hydro-electric power; fifth, the promotion of local industries; sixth, scientific research and development covering all these spheres. I hope the right hon. Gentleman does not dissent from that. These matters are all interrelated and cannot be placed in any strict order of priority, but we must classify them somehow.
Regarding communications, it is generally held—it is certainly held by me—that unless we stir ourselves we may get a bottleneck in transport in Africa. It is clear that this Government inherited a difficult situation. Planning had not been on a sufficiently wide scale in the past. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the railway and port system of Nigeria. We must have rapid and efficient expansion there to get the production out and into the markets of the 2272 world. Since I have been in office the Nigerian railway system has been a continual source of anxiety. The right hon. Gentleman asks what has been done, and I am going to tell him. In the last year the tonnage carried has been increased by 146,000 tons of groundnuts. 23,000 tons of imports and 21,000 tons of other exports. That is what we might call external—
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Per year. This is a continuous process.
That is the export part, the external part. The internal freight carried by Nigerian railways increased last year by about the same amount as the exports, 141,000 tons—an all-time record. I think this is what the right hon. Gentleman wished to elicit from me, and I am telling him; and I take the opportunity to congratulate the management on what they have been able to achieve. But I cannot accept and I do not ask the Committee or the right hon. Gentleman to accept a situation where there are groundnuts at Kano in store, and a great demand for groundnuts, and when the link between the supply and the consumer is insufficient to bring them together
Nevertheless, as the Committee know, railway systems cannot be re-equipped and reorganised in a few months. Longer-term policies are required, especially as the demand for rolling stock and locomotives has been so far greatly in excess of the capacity of these industries to supply them within a short time. We have completely replanned and recast the rolling stock programme and the permanent way programme of the Nigerian railways. I hope that before very long we shall begin to see even better results than those which the right hon. Gentleman has just now elicited from me.
The right hon. Gentleman referred, as I thought he would, because he rightly takes great interest in the question, to communications in the West Indies. We all know that, if we look even at the area of proposed federation, Jamaica is separated from Trinidad by over a thousand miles, even measured across the chord of the semi-circle of the West Indian islands. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the Canadian National "Lady 2273 boats" were withdrawn in 1952. They formerly provided a service between many islands in the Eastern Caribbean, so the position became acute. It is made even more pressing, I think, by the proposed federation.
It is not too much to say that federation would be a mere facade unless communications between the islands are improved. We began on the problem in September, 1952, and a survey of the shipping position in the Caribbean was made on behalf of a well-known shipping and trading firm. Their proposal called for an annual subsidy from the West Indian Governments. In June of this year, the Colonial Development Corporation reported that another well-known shipping and trading firm had put forward a proposal to float a company in the West Indies with capital provided in equal shares by themselves and the Corporation. This company would be a charter company, and would charter vessels which are already available. This scheme, too, would require a guarantee for at least the first two years. There are thus two schemes on the boards now, and the West Indian Governments are being asked to consider them.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
By the West Indian Governments. They are being asked to consider these schemes. The Regional Economic Committee is meeting on 11th August to consider these vital matters. Quite clearly, from the results of these two independent surveys, the operation of a regular shipping service will at the beginning be a most hazardous venture, and an improved service is unlikely to be forthcoming unless the Governments concerned are prepared to provide financial support at the beginning. If the West Indian Governments play their part, we will do all we can to help them.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is the right hon. Gentle man not aware that the French Government have two or three boats on a direct line to the West Indies? I do not know whether they are subsidised or not—
§ Mr. Shinwell
If that is so, it would be wise for the United Kingdom to assist the West Indies with a subsidy in order to get this project started as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I have dealt chiefly so far with internal communications in the Caribbean. I think that the West Indian Governments should undoubtedly consider very seriously the giving of subsidies, and I ended my remarks on the matter by saying that if they played their part we should do all we could to help. That is as far as I can go today.
§ Mr. Beswick
To what extent does the right hon. Gentleman expect air transport to play a part in the Caribbean area?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I certainly expect it to play a great part, but we want heavier freights carried between the islands. The two forms of transport are complementary, but I should say that at the moment shipping is even more important than the improving of air communications.
The Committee will remember that the second subject on which I touched was agriculture and agricultural development, of which I am glad to say I have seen a good deal during my tenure of office. We all agree, I think, that we must promote the fertility of the soil, to try to bring it up to the fertility of man, to increase the area under cultivation and to improve—there is an enormous field here—the efficiency of the farming of land already under the plough or already being grazed by livestock. Since more than 80 per cent. of the population of the British Colonial Territories is in Africa, the remarks which I have in mind deal largely with African problems.
Here we have first to do the less spectacular things. We have to engage in intensive research, and we are doing so. That research extends all over the agricultural field. At one moment it will be trying to increase the milk yield of dairy cattle or the weight of beef cattle. I have seen some results—they are only just beginning to pass research—and they are startling. I hope for great things in this field. Again, research is carrying on the fight against the ravages of disease, and I must pay a tribute to the work that is being done on insecticides and prophylactics. At another time—this is perhaps the most important of all—it is instilling into the African the advantages of mixed farming and a more economic rotation.
There are great areas of Africa where the system of agriculture is to grow a 2275 crop or two of maize on a strip of land and, when the soil is exhausted, to start cultivating another strip of bush. I have seen, in many cases, land which has been lying fallow for seven years before being recultivated. That is intolerable when considered against the background of the rise in population which improved health and improved economic prosperity have brought. To the African nothing is more precious than land, yet nothing is more often wasted. Looking back to the days before the European was there, the waste was on a far larger scale even that it is now, when certainly less than half and probably less than a quarter of the African land in cultivation is cultivated upon standards which cannot be tolerated on any scientific appraisal of the situation.
As increasing populations press, I say that the peoples of the African Colonies simply cannot afford misuse of land, their most precious asset. Much of this work cannot be done, nor can the African be persuaded, by the written word. That is one of the reasons why a great deal of patience is required. He has to see the experimental farm with his own eyes, and what can be won from a comparatively small holding by scientific agriculture. An enterprising chief will see what these experiments mean, apply them to a bit of his own land, and his tribesmen will gradually follow. I have seen this happening in a very interesting way in Sierra Leone, where areas of land were made available to the villagers. They wanted to take up an area about as big as this desk in front of me. An enterprising chief took up an area of about six acres, and the tribesmen followed. It is not a quick process but it is probably the best.
The problems of erosion and irrigation become daily more important. Mechanical ploughing, for example, is creating a new series of problems over soil erosion. There is at the moment a great field for irrigation by small schemes which we are promoting in various parts of the Colonial Territories. I do not think that the high state of discipline necessary to operate large schemes of irrigation has yet been built up. There again, we have to proceed by stages, and the small scheme is, I believe, the first step. We are doing that. I have seen this work going on all over the Colonial Territories, and 2276 I am convinced that it will yield striking results over the next decade.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Are these schemes being financed by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, or how?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I do not think that one can give to the right hon. Gentleman an accurate answer about the whole of the Colonial Territories. These Territories all have development schemes which have colonial development and welfare help over 10 years. That is rather too long a period; five years would be more realistic. To take at random the Gold Coast Development Plan of £75 million over 10 years, there will be appropriate allocations of CD. and W. funds.
I have already referred to rice. A great deal of very good work is being done over the mechanical drilling and sowing of rice. I say most earnestly to the Committee that in these matters we must concentrate first on the promotion of peasant agriculture and of teaching the African population how to make better and better use of their land. This is the main defence that we have against the haunting phantom of the rising population which the people see as they till the fields.
That is not to say that there is not a place for the plantation industries—if I may use the term—and the great plantation industries of rubber, sugar and sisal are examples. But in the main it is the promotion of peasant agriculture which should engage our greatest energies.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
I entirely agree that the cultivation of rice is essential. An acre of rice land produces more food than an acre of land sown with any other food in the world. But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that by sowing rice broadcast and letting it grow in thick clusters we get only about one-quarter of the crop that we should get if it was sown in the nursery and transplanted by hand. Are we teaching people to transplant? I know vast areas where rice is sown broadcast where, as a result only about one-quarter of the crop and about one-half of the straw is produced.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I assure the hon. Gentleman that this problem is very much in our minds. I have had the advantage of 2277 seeing some figures for the growing of rice in the Delta of the Amazon. They give any colonial agriculturist reason for thought. There the yields are in some cases three times what we have been able to reach in parts of the Colonial Territories. I have seen and come to admire the splendid work which the colonial agricultural officers are doing. They are right in the forefront of this problem of economic progress. I can imagine no more rewarding task than that to which they have set their hands.
Owing to the demands of the agricultural industry in this country, and other causes, we are woefully short of agricultural officers. I take this opportunity of pointing out to the young men who are now entering the universities the fascinating life which awaits them if they devote their skill and their brains to these tasks in the Colonies. I ask that very much greater numbers than we have now should be available to fill up the vacancies for agricultural officers.
Thirdly, I must say something about mineral development. Our aim is to increase the intensity of our geological survey. Opportunities of aerial survey have made the task of surveying Africa, for instance, much easier than it was; but it is still an immense job. We must try to open up more minerals. I can report good progress, but it is a long business.
Our fourth task is the expansion of electrical power. We are only at the beginning of hydro-electric power. Perhaps my thoughts turn to the Owen Falls Scheme. I am sorry to see that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) is not in his place. I expect that he also would have thought of the same scheme. The plan there is for ten generators each of 15,000 kilowatts of which the first one is due to operate in October and the next five at intervals of three or four months. Her Majesty the Queen has graciously agreed to inaugurate the scheme in April, 1954.
In the area of the proposed Central African Federation, there are the Kafue and Kariba schemes which are on a very large scale. Discussions are still proceeding upon the matter of the priorities of these two projects. Probably they will be resolved by the Federal Government. Nor should we forget the Volta River scheme. There is a preparatory 2278 commission at work on this. It is a very large scheme. When it is finally complete it will extend to the generation of more than 500,000 kilowatts.
I refer now to steam-generated electrical power. The Connaught Bridge scheme in Malaya is now operating at 40,000 kilowatt capacity and it will rise to 80,000. At Singapore the Pasir Pan-jang power station is planned to produce 150,000 kilowatt and it is now producing 50,000.
Our fifth task is the promotion of local industries. In almost all Colonial Territories we are faced with rising populations. The problem of feeding and occupying the inhabitants will be greatly eased if some industries can be built up to give employment upon reasonable terms to some sections of the people. The example of Kenya will be fresh in our minds. There we calculate that the population will double in about 30 years. These industries at first should be largely concentrated on those which serve agriculture or make products for local markets.
Under the first heading I give as an example the manufacture of hand tools for farmers or perhaps the simpler fertilisers like superphosphates. Under the second, I mention particularly the cement industry which is going ahead very quickly all over the Colonial Territories. A number of new productions are now coming to maturity and I think that it has a great future both for agriculture and for housing.
My sixth point is scientific research and development. This covers the whole of the field of the other five. Obviously, I can only say a few words about so vast a subject.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams (Droylsden)
On the question of industry, the right hon. Gentleman did not refer at all to timber. I have in mind Honduras and the Caribbean countries. Can he say something about that industry?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me. I am frightened of keeping the Committee for too long. I gave illustrations without attempting to cover the whole field. Of course the hon. Gentleman is right. I might also have referred to all sorts of other developments, including rubber, but I must necessarily pick out one or two 2279 significant features under the various headings.
I can only say a few words about scientific research and development, about such matters as the elimination of malaria, or the swollen shoot disease in the Gold Coast in the cocoa industry, the control and elimination of the tsetse fly which devastates so many vast areas in Africa, the development of strong stemmed rice plants which would permit of mechanical harvesting, or upon uses for by-products from the sugar industry. Here—and this is my sixth point—is the most potent instrument for promoting economic and industrial expansion.
I must pay tribute to the work of the various agencies of the United Nations in these great fields of research and experiment. The tasks are enormous and every helping hand is needed. I am afraid that I must detain the Committee a little longer to discuss the capital required for these schemes. This is part of the vital problem. As I have already told the Committee, when I came into office I had an analysis made of these capital needs. It surprised me to find that during the six or seven years after the war colonial development on the whole had not been held up by lack of capital. I thought that surprising. Some of the reasons for this, such as the injection of a great deal of Marshall Aid into our economy, are not far to seek. But other reasons are much less satisfactory.
Part of the reason why shortage of capital did not impede colonial development was because of long delivery dates. The money could not be spent. This became a feature of our post war economy, again, owing to very insistent demand for certain types of electrical equipment all over the world. Electrical plant is a striking instance. The present 10-year development plans of the Colonial Territories involve roughly £500 million, and these figures do not, of course, include private investment, and must not be confused, on the other hand, with the subject of capital formation. Part of these development plans are financed by loans, others by grants from Colonial Development and Welfare Funds and the rest by local savings.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The £500 million figure which I gave is roughly the total of the 10-year plan of these Colonial Territories. I think myself that 10 years is not a very happy period and that, when the Act comes to be studied again, it may be found that it is better to have two five-year periods than one of 10 years. The figure is roughly £50 million a year, and perhaps that will serve to answer the right hon. Gentleman.
Colonial public loans raised on the London market since 1945 are nearly £120 million, and I feel pretty sure that the phase where colonial development is not held back by lack of capital is rapidly passing. I think that during the next decade we shall be hard put to it to meet the need.
I must turn aside from my main argument to deal with a point raised by the right hon. Gentleman concerning the Colonial Development Corporation. The right hon. Gentleman asked what is the Government doing, and the first thing I want to say is that the right hon. Gentleman confused the position of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund with that of the Colonial Development Corporation. Those projects, which are of a general social nature and which are not related to ordinary commercial enterprise, should properly be handled by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, but, when we come into the sphere of commercial enterprise, I am reactionary enough to think that we do not serve the economic prosperity of the Colonies by investing the taxpayers' hard-won money in projects which are going to result in losses. It is very naughty, I know; but I still think so.
The right hon. Gentleman made some point about my business background. I make no bones about it. I think that the Colonial Development Corporation should go into enterprises and incur great risks, but always where there is a prima facie possibility of making a profit. Is that very wrong?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman has never been in business. He does not know that there is no business, other than nationalised industry, that can be conducted without risk. So permeated is he with the idea that the Government fix the price of the products of their own 2281 industries that he cannot think of a business being subject to risk. Well, it would be a delightful place to live in if that were so, but, of course, they have to take risks, and I only say that there must be a prima facie case that the business is likely to be profitable; that is all.
When the Colonial Development Corporation explore a tin mine, I ask them at what price the mine could live, and if that price is £200 or £300 above the market price, my answer is that capital support should not be given. We should not permit development of projects on which we know there is likely to be a loss. If the right hon. Gentleman wants any proof of the justice of that remark, let him look at the records of some of the projects in which they have been engaged.
I recently told the House about plans for the extension of Colonial Development and Welfare assistance after 1956, and I want now to speak on a slightly larger scale about capital investment. One cannot invest a deficit. In the 12 months preceding the time when this Government came into power, we were running an international deficit amounting to £600 million a year, and we cannot quickly develop Colonial Territories if that is our financial position. I am not going to be controversial; if the right hon. Gentleman thinks I am, perhaps he will say so, but that is axiomatic. Does he deny that?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I shall not quarrel with that at all, but I think it is quite irrelevant to the issue. I can express my opinion, although I am not a big businessman like the right hon. Gentleman. I am entitled to express my own opinion, and even the right hon. Gentleman himself cannot prevent me doing so, subject to the authority of the Chair.
Where I say the right hon. Gentleman is controversial is in the presentation of the position of the Colonial Development Corporation. I agree, of course, that one has to exercise some caution in this matter, and that we cannot rush into these things in an absurd kind of fashion. But what I say is hampering the schemes of the Colonial Development Corporation is undue caution, and that it will hamstring the Corporation in its further activities.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon; nothing is easier than to make a remark like that. Of course, he is entitled to his opinion, but 2282 he may be answered by the record which we inherited, which advised greater caution than perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would agree with. I had in mind the object of the Corporation, which was colonial development, and we cannot promote that by a series of schemes which result in losses. That also appears to me to be axiomatic.
I was talking about larger matters and was saying that, in the 12 months which preceded this Government coming into power, we were running an international deficit amounting to £600 million, and it is again axiomatic, and an answer to some of the criticisms, to say that we cannot quickly develop the Colonial Territories if that is our financial position. Now, we have an international surplus, but on nothing like the scale necessary for this task. It is therefore quite clear that the need for increased savings in this country, whether they are private savings, corporation savings or Government savings, is a matter of the first importance. I cannot see how, in the next 10 years, they are likely to reach the necessary level.
Expressed in other words, I should say that, upon our own resources, we shall have great difficulty in proceeding at the pace at which we should like to go. I say quite clearly that to promote the flow of foreign capital, above all by way of loans, is a prime matter of policy. In this field, the International Bank has performed most valuable services by the survey which it has made of some of these Territories, but, here again, the contribution which the International Bank can make by way of loan is really a very small fraction of what is likely to be required.
One of our great daily newspapers is anxious and even suspicious about a policy of trying to get the creditor countries to invest in the Colonial Territories, because they fear that these loans might lead to affiliations by the Colonies with foreign countries rather than with this country. I think these fears are ones which it is timely to express and they are certainly fears which we should guard against. We do not wish to sell the birthright of the Colonial peoples to other nations, but what we do want to do is to attract creditors' money, particularly by way of loans, into these various projects, while retaining the equity or proprietary part of the business as far as possible in their hands and ours.
2283 This, as I have suggested to the Committee before, follows the tenets of classical political economy—that the creditor countries lend their surpluses to the under-developed or debtor countries for productive enterprise. While their loans are being remitted from the lending countries, they ease the strain upon the exchanges, and if the money is reasonably well invested in profitable enterprises, the service of the loan should be reasonably easy and the residue will be left for the further development of the territory.
We must try to aim at a policy by which part of the profits, after the remuneration of those who have risked their money, should be devoted to further exploration and expansion within the Colony itself. The right hon. Gentleman said he was going to keep his remarks short, which I am afraid I am not doing, and I apologise, but he did not refer to the question of United Kingdom taxation on industry in the Colonies, and I feel it necessary to say something on that subject to the Committee.
I do not want to say much about the special problem of the taxation of pioneer industries to which local concessions have been granted. The Committee are no doubt aware of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Taxation in its interim report, which cover very complicated subjects. They are still under the consideration of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I cannot at this stage say anything more about them. But they are a relatively small part of United Kingdom taxation as it affects colonial development. Many firms operating in the Colonies are managed and controlled in the United Kingdom and are therefore liable to United Kingdom tax on all their profits. It is true that the Treasury of the Colonial Territory concerned has the first slice of Income Tax up to the level of the local rate, but there are other United Kingdom taxes, for example Profits Tax, which such companies incur on their operations in the Colonies.
It is reasonable that people in this country who receive dividends from overseas enterprise should be subjected to United Kingdom tax on those dividends. Moreover, often it may be desirable, when a company is formed to undertake a new venture, that it should have its 2284 seat in the United Kingdom, with all the advantages of access to the British investor—without which colonial development or any other industrial development is impossible—the Stock Exchange and the skills and commercial knowledge of the City of London. The facilities for shipping, insuring, banking and raising capital are sometimes powerful reasons for continuing a London registration even after an enterprise has been launched and established.
However, it may become something of an anachronism that the affairs of a company operating exclusively in a British Colony, and employing a large local labour force, should be directed by a board sitting in London. I think we shall see, indeed we are beginning to see, a change in the policy of companies in this matter. For instance, a number of important Northern Rhodesia copper companies have recently moved their domicile to Northern Rhodesia with the authority of the Government.
This policy of setting up locally controlled companies has two great advantages. First, and most important, it enables the directors to control the affairs of the company authoritatively on the spot in close touch with the local government and, above all, with the local labour leaders and local conditions generally. Secondly, it enables companies with local registration, while paying United Kingdom Income Tax on dividends remitted, to take full advantage of lower local tax rates, and thus plough back into the industry and Colony the residue and so help directly in the further development of the Colony.
I do not want to suggest that no new colonial venture should be started up in London, or that every company registered in London and operating in a Colony should at once emigrate. There are often overriding reasons of commercial or Government policy why they should not do so. Nor should it be taken as a blanket authority from this Government that any company which applies to transfer its domicile to a Colony will automatically be permitted to do so. Each case involves a loss of revenue to the United Kingdom, and each case will have to be considered on its merits. This is a most important subject very near the core of much of the colonial 2285 development. The Chancellor has assured the House and myself that, when applications are considered, the great importance of colonial development will be kept well to the fore.
I apologise for having kept the Committee so long, and part of the blame for that must rest on the head of the right hon. Gentleman who asked for information which I have tried to give in full measure. We shall not find, on the one hand, that social and political developments are possible on the scale I should like to see or, indeed, upon the scale which any casual traveller can see for himself are necessary, unless we can build up the economic prosperity to much higher levels. That to this Committee is, of course, a blinding flash of the obvious, but we must not neglect the other side of this matter which is less often mentioned.
We cannot get these economic results unless trade, industry and so forth, can be carried on under economic conditions which ensure efficiency in administration, which ensure that officials are not corrupt, and that generally good government is carried on. There are two sides to this question. The first is often stressed perhaps a little at the expense of the other. Nor can any of these questions be looked at in isolation. I say, in conclusion, that the correct and patient solution of all this complexity of problems requires not only a continuity of policy—which I firmly believe, with our record in this House we shall be able to achieve between the two great parties—but the exercise of the wisest statesmanship which this country possesses. If we can bring that to bear, we shall do a great work for all these peoples.
We shall lead them further away from the ravages of nature and the grip of famine and we shall be able still further to improve their health. We shall add further victories over disease, comparable to the ones which we have already recorded over malaria and smallpox, and we shall see, above all, literacy and enlightenment increasing over all these vast countries. These are the tasks which call forth the best we have to give and their accomplishment will be attained, I believe, through the continuous application by both parties of those principles on which I have touched.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that we are discussing an important matter and that the debate is bound to cover a wide area. Most of the discussions so far has been purely economic and financial. I do not complain about that, but these people in the backward areas have the same problem as ourselves, the problem of defence. They must either protect themselves from Communist aggression or depend on us to do it. It is communist aggression in the world which is imposing a colossal financial strain upon us, and I shall speak candidly in an effort to put this in a proper perspective.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington has not forgotten that he was partly responsible for bringing forward a Bill for £4,700 million for the defence of this country. That Bill would never have been presented to this House but for the menace of Communist aggression, which is also a menace to the backward areas, not merely our dependencies, but the independent states in those backward areas. Therefore, we are faced not merely with the problem of giving financial and economic aid, but of defending those territories against Communism, and the task before us is colossal.
We and our allies in the Atlantic and Pacific Pacts are the only people, with the exception of those of South Korea and Siam, who are willing to expend blood and treasure in the defence of liberty, and we are faced with a colossal expenditure and problem. Although I regret to have to say this, it is necessary to say that some of the countries concerned in the East and West are not playing their part or taking their share in this matter. A great many are revelling in and boasting of their neutrality. They will not say so, but in fact they are depending on the virile peoples of Atlantic and Pacific Pact countries to save them from aggression, and it is not to their credit.
Take the case of Egypt which is an independent country. Not only is it adhering to a policy of neutrality, but it is actually imposing a heavy financial burden on us and threatening to take away from us an essential military base 2287 which cost about £500 million. Then there is Persia, another independent country. Under the guise of nationalisation it is confiscating British property, again worth £500 million. These two countries, which are getting financial aid from America, are not playing their part in this struggle against poverty and insecurity. It is just as well to state that these countries, especially Persia and Egypt, would not preserve their independence for many moons if it were not for the Atlantic and Pacific Pact countries and their expenditure of blood and treasure. Our problem is an immense one. We have to save ourselves, save the world and save liberty, yet all the countries in the world who should have helped us are not doing so.
In this matter I do not think we can praise American generosity too much. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said that these vast sums which we and America are giving the backward areas are not given merely to prevent them slithering into Communism. Although that is a motive, there are humanitarian and long-distance economic motives. But, whatever the motives, the generosity of America is remarkable and most praiseworthy. We are also generous, but I think a lot of our generosity to these backward countries is taken as a matter of course. That should not be, because it is a terrible burden on the British taxpayer, one of the heaviest taxed in the world. I shall give a few facts to show what we have done.
Since 1920 we have given as free gifts to our dependencies, Colonies and protectorates and mandated territories a sum of nearly £450 million, and some of that was given when we were fighting for our lives during the war as, for instance, the £120 million in the Colonial Development Funds which the late Colonel Stanley brought forward. We are also giving money at a time now when we have not enough to pay for the upkeep of our roads. I think I am right in saying that the expenditure on the upkeep of our roads is only 70 per cent. of what it should be. Also we are not able to complete our great Health Service.
I should like to put to those to whom my words carry that the generosity of Britain is immense and should be recognised. During the debate the right hon. 2288 Gentleman gave facts and figures to show the enormous improvement which has taken place in colonial administration. Speaking from memory—I have studied these things a great deal and think I am fairly accurate and I have a religious reverence for facts—in 1937 the average revenue per head in all the Colonies was about £1. Out of that these wretched Colonies had to find expenditure for police, justice and everything else. Today the average revenue of all the Colonies is about £3. That is three times as much and is a great improvement, but we should realise that in our country now the average revenue per head is £80 and then one gets a glimpse into the appalling poverty of these vast territories.
Furthermore, in 1937 the amount expended on new schemes and development in our dependencies was about £65 million. Today—I am not quite sure of this figure and it may be 10 per cent. wrong—the amount expended annually on all our dependencies is about £400 million. We have undertaken a colossal task and we have been generous. Great achievements have taken place, especially since the £120 million was voted for the Colonial Development Fund.
I do not want to decry anything the right hon. Gentleman has said. His facts are all correct and he may be proud of some of the achievements, but they are only a drop in the ocean. If one goes through one of these territories by train or otherwise one finds vast distances which have a few miles of road here and there; but hundreds of thousands of miles of roads are needed. In the Rhodesias there has been a certain amount of railway development, but it is a mere bagatelle. The same applies in all these territories—a colossal task lies ahead. I shall make some suggestions later on how we should deal with that task.
In recent years we waived £11 million on loans made to the Colonies because they were not able to repay them and that was transferred to the groaning British taxpayer. In spite of that we are the sponsors, in fact we are at present practically the guarantors, for £225 million in loans to our dependent territories. The security is not too good. If someone questions that and says that we do not really guarantee them I agree that that is 2289 literally true, but in fact they are trustee stocks and for all practical purposes we guarantee them. They would never have been raised but for the guarantee of the British Government behind them.
I have met a lot of colonial legislators in recent times and I find that they have not the faintest idea of what Britain is doing for them. I hope that Colonial newspapers will publish some of these facts whose correctness I guarantee. They can then let these people awaken to the fact that they are under an immense debt of gratitude to the taxpayers of Great Britain.
In the £450 million of which I spoke I do not include the Colonial Development Corporation funds by which about £100 million has been pledged in risky schemes. They must be risky. I do not include that, but again it is practically a gift to the Colonies. In years gone by I remember reading a Commission's report, and being impressed by it, that it was absolutely necessary not to demoralise the people of the West Indies by throwing money at them for nothing. A lot of these Colonies have now come to the way of thinking, "We are in trouble and want help for this, that and the other. We can apply to the British taxpayer." That is a demoralising thing. I am not saying we should not help—far from it—later I shall say how we could help, but at this stage I suggest that the way we give money in the future should be by loans as a rule and not by gifts.
I have spoken to various people recently from African Colonies and every one has said that it is not right to expect the unfortunate British taxpayer to finance every need. If loans are given for good schemes—the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary likes good schemes—schemes which pay their way, they could be interest free for a time and the obligation should rest on the borrowers to repay. That would give them more self-respect and self-reliance. I say most emphatically that no matter what we do we shall never succeed in these territories unless their peoples themselves do the job. I know how backward and illiterate they are, but unless their morale is aroused and they take a hand in the matter we shall fail.
In this country there are 50 million people taxed to the bone and largely taxed because of the magnificent part we 2290 are playing in defending the liberty of the world against Communism. We cannot take on all these social services and all the colossal needs of 90 million people in our dependencies; it cannot be done. Either the right hon. Gentleman or my right hon. Friend referred to the appalling disease and malnutrition in the Colonies, and what was said is true. The task of providing the necessary social services is utterly beyond us. Even if we spent much of our revenue upon it we could not tackle the problem; it is so colossal.
I suggest, and the right hon. Gentleman can contradict me if he thinks I am wrong—although I have not the figures in my head, but I am sure I am right—that a very large percentage of the gifts that we make to the dependencies is spent on social services. I can quite understand how a colonial governor is at his wits end because of the poverty around him, and other things. He has no money, and so he uses the gifts that we make in order to build hospitals and schools and often to provide food subsidies. We have spent £2½ million in recent years on food subsidies in the Colonies. Now that the Colonies have three times the revenue that they had before, again in the interests of teaching them self-reliance, their social services should, as a general rule, be financed out of colonial revenues wherever that is possible.
On the other hand our gifts should be, as far as possible—a good deal of the money we have promised has not yet been spent—confined to the production of wealth by capital investment. We cannot have social services, which are a transfer of wealth, unless we first produce the wealth. We cannot give sufficient slices of the cake unless we first make the cake. As we know, not merely in agriculture but in other respects, we have to produce wealth and do it quickly on a huge scale if we are to stave off starvation in a great many of these colonies. I know about the unfortunate governors and the predicament they are in, having no money. I beg my right hon. Friends to press on the governors that they must not dissipate on current expenditure the sums which should be spent on capital expenditure.
We have about two dozen petty Colonies, such as townships or little islands scattered about the world. I am not going to deal with the political problems 2291 concerned with them, but the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary knows that I have had some dealing with them recently. I shall not deal with the financial aspect of these Colonies, but generally they are a burden on us. I take one, for instance, British Somaliland. I do not think it could ever have had a government or paid for a governor with out the British taxpayers' help. It has been "on the dole"—that is the term used in the Colonial Office—since it came into our possession, and it is likely to re main on the dole for good. There are various Colonies like that, some much smaller than British Somaliland. A lot of them are very near to Australia and New Zealand, quite close; far closer to Australia and New Zealand than they are to us. I can think of the Cocos Islands—
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
My hon. Friend just mentioned Somaliland. It is of the greatest strategic importance to us, and we have to maintain it for that reason.
§ Mr. Reid
I fully agree with my hon. Friend. I know the district well and it is of the greatest strategic importance in that part of the world, especially with the rise of air power, and we have to defend it. That does not affect my argument. I was talking of the Colonies that are near Australia and New Zealand. Why could not Australia and New Zealand take over those Colonies? They could manage them far better than we. They have immense resources. I think Australia has interests in Fiji. If these small Colonies joined with Australasia, the Colonies would still be under Her Majesty the Queen and under the Union Jack. We should, if possible, transfer some of these small Colonies to Australasia.
Now I come to the point which I have spoken of in this House year after year. I think I have helped to bring it home. It is the population problem. The right hon. Gentleman said that Kenya is now doubling her population every 30 years. There are parts of Africa doubling their populations every 25 years. Ceylon is doubling her population every 30 years. This population problem is such that no colonial administrator I have ever known can see the light about it.
2292 When we were in India, we knew the problem. When people say sometimes as they have said, that after all the years we were in India there were only 12½ per cent. literates when we left, and that this and other facts were a disgrace to our rule, I replied "Nothing of the kind." The reason was that the Indian people produced children more quickly than we produce wealth. We produced an enormous amount of wealth, but we were up against the fact that India produced children quicker than it produced wealth. We irrigated a tract in India as big as Britain and succeeded in other great economic achievements there: now Mr. Nehru has set up the Bombay Commission which openly said that birth control was absolutely essential in India. We knew that all along, but we were not believed. There are other Colonies, even places like Malta, where this flood of children comes forward every year, yet those countries flout any kind of birth control.
To show the attitude of some of the colonial legislatures. I was talking to a well educated and sensible legislator from the West Indies. We got to know each other very well and we got on to talking about the population problem in the West Indies where 70 per cent. of the children are illegitimate although their parents are all Christians. I asked him what they intended to do about it and he came down on the side of saying, "We will look to Great Britain to come to the rescue." I told him about the enormous expenditure that we were incurring by way of armaments and everything else. His answer: "You see, we are in a way your children." These people have to be taught self-reliance. Otherwise we shall fail in this matter.
The wealth-producing schemes of the Colombo Plan have been referred to. When the scheme as a whole was first brought out, the authors candidly stated that if all the schemes were successfully carried out in six years, as anticipated, at the end of the six years the amount of wealth produced would be about sufficient to provide fox the increase that had taken place in the population in the meantime. So again we are back to this population problem. I have urged former Secretaries of State, as I urged the right hon. Gentleman, to put this problem before legislatures in the Colonies and 2293 let them solve it, because nobody else can do so. We must put responsibility on the colonial people themselves.
Now I come to my final point. The right hon. Gentleman has told us today of the enormous expenditure that is going on, through loans, etc., to the Colonies. He drew a truthful and remarkable picture of the progress that has been made in recent decades, but, as I said before, it is only a drop in the ocean because our problem of preventing famine in the next few years is pressing in some territories. It is as bad as that. There is famine in every part of China. India has just been saved from famine by grants from America and Australia of wheat. I suggest to the House that the machinery that we, America and other countries have put into effect for solving this colossal problem of the backward territories is not sufficient.
In my opinion the only shoulders able to bear it are those of the United Nations. Hon. Gentlemen will say they are not a very united organisation; may be not. On these matters, apart from high politics, the United Nations Special Agencies have done very valuable work. If we hand over this problem to the United Nations they can do things in those territories which they would not allow us to do because they are very jealous of their independence in administration.
The United Nations is accepted as the friend of all peoples. I suggest that they alone can obtain the colossal funds which are required. They can, as we cannot, call on every nation in the world which has any self-respect to come to the rescue of these unfortunate backward territories. It is no use people criticising us in the Trusteeship Council and saying that we and America ought to spend more money. These suggestions often come from people who do not subscribe a cent themselves.
Let us be frank about it and admit that very often these international funds and other funds are wasted and misspent on the wrong objects and the wrong persons. We have heard some talk today about the need for technicians. It will be difficult to obtain them, but if the United Nations can promise, as they can, security to those that they employ and good pay, they can draw on all the world and can get a proper team of technicians to carry out properly selected schemes. 2294 We should have a scheme whereby the United Nations take charge and organise proper U.N.O. teams themselves to carry out the work. Our Government should take a lead in urging the United Nations to tackle this gigantic problem.
I am really speaking now of the policy of mutual aid which the Labour Party have advanced. We on this side of the Committee realise that what is now being carried out is not sufficient and that a united world must put its shoulder to the wheel if this problem is to be dealt with adequately. Our territories and the French territories are threatened in some instances with immediate famine. We should get to work to bring the United Nations into action where there is a threat of famine and the population of the world is increasing at the rate of 65,000 a day.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)
I am so strongly in agreement with most of the robust and sensible speech of the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) that I feel that I am hardly following him. He spoke of lack of self-reliance on the part of our fellow subjects in some of the Colonies and said that there has been too much of the habit of looking to us for assistance and not enough of reliance on themselves. I do not think that we should carry that too far. The Colonial Territories that I know are really very grateful for our help.
I had the honour and privilege of going on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Mission to the West Indies this year. The help that this country has given through the very dark years since 1939 is very warmly and widely appreciated there. I agree that there are some who perhaps do not appreciate that the funds from which we draw the help that we give are not unlimited. To a certain extent we are ourselves to blame. We have invested through the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund millions of pounds in some of these islands, but we are not very good at obtaining the right publicity for what we have done.
Just before I was in Jamaica, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister unveiled a tablet in the University College of the West Indies recording the fact that that University College came into being through the joint efforts of the United Kingdom and the West Indies. All over 2295 the Colonial Territories there are similar schemes, and it would be excellent if in every place where one of these schemes operated some plaque was put up to record the fact. Such a record would remind the peoples of the Colonial Territories of their ties with us as we, I hope, try constantly to remember our ties with them.
This debate is bound to be very wide. No doubt, like the debate last year, it will cover everything in the British Commonwealth and the whole world as well, from refugees to shipping in the West Indies. That is rather unsatisfactory for a one day debate. It is, I know, rather a sore subject in the Colonial Territories where it is frequently said that the House does not devote enough days to discussing their affairs. It has also been rubbed into me that those who come to listen to these debates notice that sometimes the attendance is rather thin. I am afraid that I always excused that, rather dishonestly, by saying that the attendance was thin because it was composed almost entirely of those who wished to speak and that the remainder of the House or Committee knew perfectly well that they would be able to read the debate in HANSARD next day.
I have also said that another reason for the small attendance was that there would not be a Division. I hope that I am right in that last respect today. It is perfectly fair to say that we do not have enough of these debates and that when we do have them we range too wide. I should have liked to see one day devoted to Colonial development and welfare and another day devoted to the United Nations Special Agencies.
I should like to say how much we appreciated the recent announcement by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary that the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund will continue after 1956. That early announcement of continuance will mean much to all those in the Colonies who may be endeavouring to plan their economies in the coming years. I also welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement of the special grant for the production of rice.
I was able to see one of the great rice schemes in British Guiana. In a world 2296 which is short of food we have in British Guiana the possibility of producing enough rice not only to feed itself, but also for it to become an exporting country. That scheme is paralleled by other schemes in Trinidad and Jamaica. I wish to pay my tribute to the work that the Controller of Development and Welfare in the West Indies is doing. It all flows from the great Report of the Moyne Commission before the war, which opened the eyes of this country to the great possibilities of what could be done by a development and welfare fund. But I echo what the hon. Member for Swindon said—that there should be rather more accent on development and a little less on welfare.
I do not want it to be thought that I am being reactionary and that I want them to turn their backs on schemes for social services, but it is only by developing the economic resources that improved welfare will become possible. It will then become a matter of pride to Colonial Territories themselves to run their own social services. Let them choose the priorities they wish to give the social services and do not let us choose for them. I hope that in the next generation they will concentrate as hard as they can on improving the standards of education. Let us concentrate on development and on those public works which are necessary to raise the average income.
I want to say a word about the Colonial Development Corporation. I, also, was privileged to meet many of their officers, and I formed a great admiration for them, as I still have for the organisation in this country. We should be very sorry for the Corporation. For yet another year they have had to report a staggering loss. They have suffered successive and mounting losses. The present officers and administration cannot be blamed for the faults of their predecessors. In the beginning, it was an ill-conceived project to have this vast Corporation spreading all over the world, with a finger in so many different pies, in so many different territories. It was impossible to find a man capable of running that organisation. I came across a quotation, which I thought was very relevant, and which runs as follows:There are very few men able to co-ordinate efficiently the activities of a combine with £30 million worth of assets or more, scattered 2297 over the face of the earth and producing a wide range of commodities.That is about as damning an indictment of the original idea of the Colonial Development Corporation as one could find. The Committee will probably be interested to know that it comes from a pamphlet published by the Fabian Society, called "Monopoly in British Industry," and the author is that well-known West Indian economist and former director of the Colonial Development Corporation, Professor Arthur Lewis.
§ Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
He was not dropped, but after that quotation I think he should never have joined.
The Colonial Development Corporation have taken a new trend. They have started to enlist local enthusiasm and local capital. They have begun to identify themselves with the local life and they have enlisted local directors to advise them. In the rôle of investment bankers they still have a great part to play in the future. None the less, I hope that my right hon. Friend will be chary of accepting a suggestion put forward in the last Report.
I should like to read a quotation from it. It is written in the curious, stark, staccato telegraphese which Lord Reith uses, and it runs as follows:Corporation however suggests that, to an extent approved, it should be able to finance projects that are of great value but unlikely to be profitable; that such investments should be separately recorded in the accounts; and their results judged on other than a profit basis.I hope that my right hon. Friend will not accept that suggestion, and that he will leave that kind of project to the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, who are far better equipped to carry it out.
From the figures given to us by my right hon. Friend, it is quite clear that a far greater amount of private capital investment has been going on than private enterprise has been given credit for in the last few years. When we arrived in Jamaica I was very struck by a speech, made at a luncheon party, by one very capable Jamaican Minister, who made a plea for investment of private British capital in the island. He ended by saying:There will be no 'Abadan' in Jamaica.2298 I think that is true, and that it is true generally in all the Colonial Territories. I hope it will act as an inducement for the investment of more British capital overseas.
Nowadays there are many pessimistic utterances about the future. We heard today of the continuing increase in population and the insatiable demands upon our food resources, but there is a golden mean between pessimism and complacency. As a slight antidote to the pessimism, I recommend hon. Members who are interested to read the World Bank Report on Jamaica, That Report outlines all the problems facing a small island like that, with a teeming population, and still undeveloped resources. They point out that within the last 20 or 25 years, even though the population has enormously increased, the standard of living has none the less gone up.
If we can go on with this mixture of private enterprise and investment, and public investment by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the Colonial Development Corporation, we can not only meet the demands of an increasing population but also raise their standard of living. The House of Commons, however, should have more opportunities of discussing the work of these agencies, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will continue to keep a vigilant eye upon them.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I am sure we are all in agreement with the last words of the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Vaughan-Morgan). There are far too few opportunities of discussing colonial matters, and today, when we are discussing so wide a range, not only of colonial matters but of international projects and associations, it is sad to think how little time is available for the subjects in which all those here are so deeply interested.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) spoke of the necessity for helping the Colonies. I am entirely in agreement with him on that, but it is right that we should also consider how the Colonies have helped and are helping us. I know that the present Government claim very great credit for the change in the economic situation today. They also claim credit for the change in the condition of the sterling 2299 area, but that change is largely due to the exports from the Colonies to the United States and the dollar areas.
I shall not weary the Committee with many figures, but it is as well to remember one or two key ones. In 1951, the Colonies had a surplus—not an export, but a surplus—of £171 million over the dollar areas. That is very nearly as great as the total exports from the United Kingdom to America. It is an enormous figure, but the disturbing fact is that in 1952 that surplus dropped from £171 million to £129 million. That is very serious. It dropped largely because of the reduction in the prices of goods produced in the Colonies. What of 1953? The price of tin, for instance, which a year or two ago was something like £1,600 a ton, is now down to £600 a ton. Prices have indeed dropped very appreciably; we want to see that they do not drop so far that the dollar surplus turns into a dollar deficit.
We want, too, to consider not only dollar earners but also dollar savers, which to my mind are even more important than dollar earners. Dollar savers are something which cannot be altered by United States policy. The United States can suddenly say they intend to put a tariff on some of the things which the Colonies are exporting; they can say they will make synthetic rubber and then cut down their imports of Malayan rubber; but they can do nothing to prevent us from buying an increasing amount of our goods from the Colonies, from buying goods and raw materials which we might otherwise have bought from the dollar area.
I am particularly glad to know that that trend has been continued during recent years. This year, I understand, there has been a very great increase in cotton production. The principal things which we buy today from the United States are cotton and tobacco and to a lesser extent, perhaps, sugar.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I do not think we can expect the Colonies to help us much in the production of films, for a little while at any rate.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I do not intend to get involved in an argument with my hon. Friend as to whether we should stop buying films. Personally, I very much like seeing American films from time to time, and I do not think we should stop buying them, but I think we could reduce our purchases of cotton if we produced more cotton in the Colonial Empire. That is what we are doing. In Nigeria, cotton production has gone up very considerably. I hope it will continue to do so.
I would even go as far as to say that I hope this Government will have more success than we had in inducing people within the Colonial Empire to produce more tobacco. If we could only smoke as imperially as some people think, we might get somewhere on that line, but at present the production of tobacco in the Empire is exceedingly small. I regret to say that, according to recent figures, it is even smaller this year than it was last year. The figures for production and exports are lower.
§ Mr. Follick
If tobacco production is extended in Rhodesia to too great an extent, people on the land will be prevented from producing food, which will lead to a scarcity of food in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I entirely agree. We have to keep a balance. We cannot simply produce dollar goods at the expense of food production in the Colonies. That would be foolish. Nevertheless, much can be done to increase the production of dollar goods without interfering with food production.
The Secretary of State spoke of the importance of agriculture and, particularly, the importance of peasant agriculture. I am glad to associate myself with him, as I am sure are all on this side of the Committee, in his tribute to the work of the agricultural officers and in his request that more people should join the agricultural service. Those who have been connected with the Colonial Office have seen the magnificent work that these officers have done and we know that, were it not for them, production would not be anything like as high as it is today in many Colonies.
Will the Under-Secretary of State tell us in his reply a little more about the future of mineral production? The Secretary of State said that it was being looked into, that something was happening and 2301 that more investigation was going on, but he told us nothing very definite about it. In the past, I know, there has been a great shortage of geologists. I hope that can be remedied and that we can have greater development of mineral resources than has been possible in the past.
I want to say a few words about investment in the Colonial Empire generally. I was glad to hear from the Secretary of State that some £50 million a year of Government money may be invested. Professor Arthur Lewis has made some reference to this. Incidentally, the Secretary of State says he was not sacked but that his terms of appointment came to an end. All we can say on this side of the Committee is that if the Secretary of State's terms of appointment come to an end, we will consider that as good as a sacking and be very pleased about it.
Professor Arthur Lewis said that a 2 per cent. increase in the African standard of living needs the investment of £100 million a year. That is for Africa alone, and to get a 2 per cent. increase in the standard of life, which is not a very big increase. It shows the great need for investment. According to him, that is something like 1 per cent. of our national income. Thus, if we invest 1 per cent. of the national income in Africa alone, we get this very small increase in the African standard of living.
Private enterprise will obviously play a very big part in this investment, but one of the things which unfortunately seems to be true of private enterprise today is that it is not quite so enterprising in colonial development as it was in the past. The Secretary of State spoke of the Roan Antelope Copper Corporation development. No doubt that is a remarkable development, but it took place a long time ago, and we should like to hear more examples of recent development, more instances of real vision being shown by these people in going out under private enterprise to carry out developments within the Commonwealth.
In particular, in this connection the right hon. Gentleman referred to taxation and said he hoped there would be an opportunity—indeed, I think he said there would be an opportunity—for firms to move and to have their offices in the Colonies in order that they might enjoy lower taxation. I quite appreciate the need for any firm starting in business to 2302 have low taxation, but let us be clear on this. The social services, education, the technical developments which must come in every Colony if these Colonies are to develop, are based to a very large extent on the taxation of people in the Colonies, and if companies going out there are to enjoy a very low rate of taxation it may well be that there will be less development not only of social services but of education, and basic services such as transport besides other things for which taxation provides the money.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)
I thought what the Secretary of State said was on quite a different point. He said companies would move out there in order to escape the heavy rates of Income Tax payable in this country. The taxation which those companies pay does not benefit the colonial peoples because the money is used in this country.
§ Mr. Dugdale
That was not the point I was making at all. I realise that that was what the right hon. Gentleman said. He said these companies are to go from the high taxation here to the very low taxation in the Colonies. I am only saying that there may be an argument for the taxation in the Colonies being rather higher than it is at the moment if those social services and other developments so necessary there are to take place.
The Secretary of State and other hon. Members have referred to the Colonial Development Corporation. To succeed, any corporation needs two things above anything else: the Government which created it must have faith in it and the chairman who is in charge of it must have faith in it. We want to be quite certain that both those things exist. In the past, many hon. Members from the back benches opposite have had grave misgivings about the Colonial Development Corporation and many may not have been over-anxious that it should succeed. I hope the Secretary of State will make it abundantly clear that he himself has faith in the Corporation and that he believes that, whatever its shortcomings may be—and of course it has shortcomings—he has faith in it, and has confidence that it will succeed.
As for the chairman himself, it does not seem to show complete faith in the Corporation if he gives up a large section 2303 of his time to running another corporation. As far as I can understand it, that is what is going to happen.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Before the right hon. Gentleman develops his argument, I should like to ask him why in the days of his party's administration they permitted Lord Trefgarne to have several other directorships. Nor is it true to say that Lord Reith is going to devote a large part of his time to managing other corporations.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I was only going to say that if he were going to devote a large amount of time to them, it would be unfortunate. If he is not, that is all right. I hope he is not going to, but if one hears that a man of Lord Reith's eminence is to be paid a very large sum of money by a private corporation, one supposes he is going to devote a large amount of his time to it. Maybe he is not. I am very glad to hear from the Secretary of State that in fact he is not going to do so, because it shows that he, at any rate, has great faith in the Corporation, and I think that basically, in spite of the criticisms that have come from time to time from the back benches behind him, the Secretary of State himself has, too.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Reigate said that he hoped that the suggestion contained in the paragraph he quoted from the Corporation's report would not be carried out. I do not think the Secretary of State was in when the hon. Gentleman spoke. Let me refresh his memory and the memory of the Committee by quoting the paragraph:Corporation, however, suggests that, to an extent approved, it should be able to finance projects that are of great value but unlikely to be profitable; that such investments should be separately recorded in the accounts; and their results judged on other than a profit basis.That is an admirable suggestion, and I hope that the Colonial Secretary will give it his support.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
The right hon. Gentleman is on an interesting point. I really am not asking this in a controversial way, but perhaps he would develop his argument about this, about the conditions of the C.D.W. Fund and the development of the Colonial Development Corporation.
§ Mr. Dugdale
There is room for both. As the right hon. Gentleman himself made clear, there is an immense field for development, and there is an immense field for work of a semi-commercial character, for projects that obviously will make a loss but which equally obviously are necessary. I should have thought that that would have been one type of work for the C.D.C.—work of a semi-commercial character, practically certain to result in a loss, but considered necessary; work such as the development of many small industries in the West Indies, which would, perhaps, be only partially able to pay for themselves; but would be of great economic benefit to the West Indies.
I should like to say a word about one of the great successes of the Colonial Development Corporation. We hear so much about their failures that it is just as well occasionally to remind ourselves of their successes. The Corporation have recently made investigations, as can be seen from their Report, into possible coalfields in Tanganyika, and I understand from it that they have discovered that there are some 216 million tons of saleable coal, and they indicate that there are probably something like 400 million tons of all grades. The Durham coalfield is a quite considerable coalfield, and this coal that has been found in Tanganyika is equal in quantity to two-thirds of the coal still in the Durham coalfield, which is a big development in a part of Africa where coal was not considered before and played no part in the life of the community, except in so far as it was imported.
I would ask the Under-Secretary of State to tell us when he replies what hope there is within any foreseeable future of having a railway, which is so necessary for the development of the coalfield and the export of the coal. I understand that there is no hope of developing those coal mines unless a railway is constructed, and I hope he can tell us that there is some hope of a railway in the foreseeable future, though I do not say immediately.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
First markets must be found for the exports, and they must be at a competitive price. That is a condition precedent to the building of the railway. 2305 Unfortunately, through no fault of the Corporation, the coalfield is not in a good place.
§ Mr. Dugdale
One way to make it into a better place is to have a railway by which the coal can be got out. That seems to me to be essential.
It is impossible to develop the Colonies economically as they should be unless the political atmosphere in which they are developed is right, and I think that the political development that has taken place and is taking place in certain Colonies today under this Government is doing grave harm to their economic development. I would refer, in particular, to Kenya where it cannot be said that economic development is benefiting from the results of events going on there today. In both Kenya and Nyasaland, I understand, work has been stopped in various places because the workers have gone off and refuse to do any more work. That is a bad state of affairs. We can get the best economic developments only in an atmosphere in which people feel that they are being governed for their good, and not for the good of somebody else outside, and in some Colonies under this Government that is not their feeling.
We have heard of a very unfortunate case, of which I should like to have an explanation. The United States was apparently going to make a loan to Kenya which it is not now going to make. I understand the United States is going to make a loan to Uganda and to Tanganyika, but does not feel inclined to make a loan to Kenya because of the political circumstances there today, and particularly because of the policy pursued there. I should like to know if that is in fact the case, because it is a serious thing if Kenya is omitted from the loans the United States are offering.
I would repeat, in conclusion, that the political policy of the present Government is doing considerable economic harm in many respects.
§ Mr. Dugdale
The hon. Gentleman may say "rubbish" as much as he likes, but it does not make it any less true, and I hope that, in order that we may see an improvement in the economic situation of the Colonies, we may before long see a change in the Government's 2306 political policy, because only in that way can it come about.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Law (Hull, Haltemprice)
I found it a little bit difficult to follow the train of thought of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) as he began to develop it towards the close of his speech. It may be that political developments in Kenya are unfortunate. They certainly are, but I do not see that it is possible to argue that to give Mau Mau a free hand would contribute materially to the economic development of the people of that Colony.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I really think I must be allowed to answer that, because I did not for one moment suggest that should happen. What I said was that some of the events in Kenya are indirectly the result of the policy pursued by this Government since they came into office.
§ Mr. Law
As I say, I found it difficult to follow the train of thought of the right hon. Gentleman, and I still find it difficult to follow. I should like to say this to him, that I believe that in our Colonial Empire we may have left undone things we ought to have done and we may have done things we ought not to have done, but, by and large, what economic prosperity there is and what social and political development has taken place in those countries and among those people they owe to us, and not to themselves.
I have not the practical experience of these matters that many hon. Members who have spoken in this debate have, but I have always been very much interested in the question of economic development of the backward areas, ever since I took part some years ago in the formation of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. I was very glad indeed to hear the reference which my right hon. Friend made in his speech to the one work that was started of that kind.
But it does seem to me that there are a number of heresies which had widespread currency in relation to this question of the economic development of the backward peoples, the undeveloped areas and Colonial development in general. We have not heard much of it in the debate today, but there is one particularly widespread heresy, and that is that poverty is the cause of Communism, and the real 2307 reason why we have to take active steps to promote economic development in the backward areas is to check Communism. I think that nearly everybody holds that view.
§ Mr. Shinwell
No. I did make a brief reference to it. I said that it might be regarded as a reason, but it certainly was not the only reason and not the most valid reason.
§ Mr. Law
I was not able to be here when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, so I did not hear him say that. If I had, I would not have expressed myself as I have done. But certainly outside the House, and, indeed, in the leading articles of newspapers and so on, there is a general expression of opinion that poverty is the breeding ground of Communism. Yet there is never any evidence advanced in support of it. Such evidence as we have is the other way round.
§ Mr. Law
China always had great poverty. China went Communist because the internal organisation of China broke down. Did Czechoslovakia go Communist because of the great poverty of Czechoslovakia? Of course it did not. Czechoslovakia was one of the most advanced States in Europe. There are more Communists in this country today than ever there were before the war—
§ Mr. Law
—yet nobody would suggest that we were poorer today than we were before the war. Certainly hon. Members opposite would never make such a suggestion. The plain fact of the matter is that Communism grows, not as a result of poverty, but as a result of disorder, and it is the breakdown of colonialism over Asia, a breakdown to which many well-meaning people on both sides of the Atlantic have contributed, which has, in my judgment, done more than anything else to advance Communism.
2308 Communism is not, either in Asia or Africa or in any country, an economic problem; it is a moral problem. The Communist threat is a real one, not because of physical impoverishment but because of moral and spiritual impoverishment, and because the free world has lost a great deal of faith which it used to have in itself. I hope we shall realise, all of us, that our Colonial Empire has been all over the globe one of the greatest bulwarks against the advance of anarchy, and the extent to which Communism has advanced in it is due very largely to the fact that we have relaxed and the old colonial system is being broken up.
Having said that, I do not deny for a single moment that poverty has its evils and that we must do everything we can to eradicate them in the Colonial Empire for which we are responsible and in the backward areas of the world for which we share responsibility with other members of the United Nations. There are, I suggest, two qualifications which we ought to keep in mind when we are thinking of our duty and our power to relieve poverty in the backward areas of the world.
The first qualification is this. We have to get out of our heads any idea that we have a moral duty to advance the standards of life of backward people unless they play their own part in advancing them, too. The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) dealt with that point very effectively. The other thing that we have to keep in mind is that this is not a problem that can simply be solved by the expenditure of public money or, indeed, of private money, because, as the hon. Member for Swindon said, the more we create wealth in these areas the more they create children.
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) suggested that we should devote 1 per cent. of our national income to Africa. I say to him that we could devote the whole of our national income to the development of the backward areas of the world and at the end they would not be one jot better off. Their standards of life would not have advanced one iota. All that would have happened is that the Western world would have been ruined. What these countries need far more than the pouring out of wealth, whether by the United 2309 States, by ourselves or by the United Nations as a whole, is a change in their social habits and, in particular, a change in their sexual habits. Sexual continence will do more good than any amount of philanthropy from the United States or from the United Nations.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that there is more inherent sexuality among the Asiatic and African peoples? Is it not rather that we adopt artificial means to prevent sexual results?
§ Mr. Law
Whatever the method, it is quite clear that unless there is a change in the sexual habits of these people, nothing which we or anyone else can do can avail them any good at all.
It seems to me, again speaking without the experience which many other hon. Members have, that if we are to help, we shall help them far more by the kind of modest proposals which my right hon. Friend suggested when he spoke of agricultural instruction and so on. We shall help them far more by evolving a taxation system which will encourage private investment rather than discourage it, and we shall help them above all by restoring order, and substituting order for anarchy. If we can go along the road he suggested, step by step, I believe that we shall do far more good than by embarking upon some grandiose schemes such as we have embarked upon in the last few years.
We want to improve conditions in the backward areas, not simply because we want to relieve the poverty there, although we want to do that, but also so that by an increase in international trade our own difficulties may be resolved. So there is one added goal that I suggest to my right hon. Friend, apart from the very admirable steps that he adumbrated, and that is that we should never lose an opportunity of clearing the channels of international trade and removing from them the obstructions which now clog them, to the disadvantage of all peoples but to the disadvantage of none more than to the people of this island.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law) complained that he had some difficulty in following the line of thought of my right hon. Friend 2310 the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale). I am bound to say I had some difficulty in following him. If I am giving offence, I do not apologise. His use of the term "backward peoples" was objectionable. The right hon. Gentleman used the phrases "backward peoples" and "backward areas." They are objectionable phrases anyhow. I have often found cultured coloured people who object to the use of those phrases. Never could they have been more objectionable than when they fell from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman, in view of some of the arguments that he used. If his speech could be broadcast so that it could be heard by some of the cultured coloured colonial people, I am sure he would drive them to Communism out of sheer impatience and anger. However, I do not want to follow his speech.
One thing which has emerged from the debate so far is that we are trying to cover too wide an area—
§ Mr. Beswick
Let me say one or two words first. The sweep of the Minister's speech in itself gave us food for debate for more than one day. He had not to apologise for being too long. When he was able to suppress his provocative urge, the speech was intensely interesting and not a bit too long. I only regret that under the various heads he was not able to expand in greater detail some of the matters with which he dealt.
§ Mr. Braine
Might I interrupt the hon. Member? He has a reputation for fairness. I wonder whether, in view of what I am going to say, he would withdraw the attack that he has just made upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law). I have in my hand the Labour Party pamphlet "Challenge to Britain" which speaks on page 6 of:The existing international machinery for assisting development in the backward areas. …All hon. Members on both sides of the Committee know what the term means.
§ Mr. Beswick
I object to the phrase "backward areas." I have heard friends of mine using it. I said—I do not withdraw it—that I thought that the superior way in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice used the 2311 phrase "backward peoples" was objectionable. I am sorry if I am considered unfair. I hope I shall not lose my reputation for fairness, but I would rather lose that than my reputation for honesty, because that is what I felt when the right hon. Gentleman was speaking.
I want now to speak about the cooperative movement in the Colonies. In view of all the matters about which the Minister spoke, I am sorry that he did not find it possible to make some mention of the co-operative movement, especially when he was referring to the development of local industries and agriculture. I thought it was agreed on both sides of the Committee that in the development of the Colonies the co-operative movement and co-operative principles have a very important part to play. When we are talking about co-operative development, we are not talking simply of economic development. Experience in co-operative enterprise means social and political development, too. Matters of self-help and self-discipline, social responsibility and the techniques of social administration are all to be learnt from the practice of co-operative principles.
It is important that we should understand just what has been the development of co-operation in the Colonies in recent years. It is about half a century since British administrators first introduced the principde to the peasant cultivators in India. It has since spread to Africa, to Cyprus and to Malaya. Ceylon is an example, and other examples are offered by most of the Colonial Territories in Africa. Some fairly recent figures might be useful to the Committee in helping us to appreciate the background. In 22 Colonial Territories there are now 5,527 co-operative societies with an individual membership of more than 660,000, and in 1951 they marketed produce worth more than £20 million.
The recent rate of growth of this movement in the Colonies is well brought out in the Colonial Office Report for 1951–52. Between 1945 and 1950 the numbers of registered societies and of membership have doubled; the paid-up share capital has nearly trebled; the reserve funds have trebled; the value of produce marketed has increased fivefold and the turnover by consumer societies has increased eightfold.
2312 Of course, to a very large extent the needs of the Colonial Territories differ greatly from those of the United Kingdom, and this has stimulated different forms of co-operative enterprise. Credit societies and thrift and loan banks have helped to drag the moneylenders from the backs of some of the peasant producers, co-operative supplies of seeds, fertilisers and agricultural implements have helped production. Co-operative storage, processing and marketing facilities have helped in giving many of the peasant producers a fair price and in dislodging many of the more rapacious middlemen. There is no doubt—I believe that the Secretary of State agrees with me in this, and I am sorry that he did not make reference to it—that the principles of cooperation have proved themselves in practice.
We are now discussing the tempo of colonial development and the need to increase it. The question is how we can help and encourage the wider and even more rapid development of co-operation in these areas. I suggest to the Secretary of State that we have now reached a stage when we might well review what might be called the general strategy of our progress. There is no doubt that excellent work has been done by the registrars in different territories. They have done infinitely more than simply register societies. Educational and promotional work has gone on. But if the Colonial Secretary deliberately makes a decision to step up the pace, as I hope he will, on what lines should we move? The position varies from colony to colony, but I want to make some general suggestions along three lines: first, education and training; secondly, the provision of finance; and, thirdly, the necessity for transferring the responsibility of tutelage from Government agencies to non-Government local bodies.
With regard to education and training, there is no doubt at all that the lack of adequately trained personnel is a limiting factor. Enthusiasm and initial faith, like patriotism, are not enough. We have as an example of what is wanted a very valuable training school, the School of Co-operation in East Africa. Mr. Maudsley, who was formerly Education Secretary of the Co-operative Union here, has undertaken the responsibility of leadership there. But the answers to 2313 some recent Questions I put to the Secretary of State suggested that we were not up to establishment in staff and students.
In any case I want to suggest to him that the excellent work done should be extended. There is scope for similar institutions in West Africa, in the West Indies, in South-East Asia, maybe in the Levant and possibly in some of the Oceania islands in the Pacific. We ought also to encourage the selection of more students for higher education and possibly they should be brought here to the Co-operative College at Loughborough or be given research and travelling fellowships. From these institutions more educational and propaganda material could be distributed. There is a need for documentary and instructional films, and in many areas radio could very profitably be used for educational purposes.
The fact is that in the last decade or so the technique of propaganda has gone on apace. In Europe unfortunately the word itself has been debased, and only too often propaganda has been used for evil purposes. There is, however, still the possibility of using it for good, clean and constructive purposes. I should like to see more done in some of our Colonial Territories. I am asking, for example, for posters, literature in the vernacular, and debates on the radio to stimulate interest in, and inform people of, co-operative principles. I believe that that interest can be aroused. For those who do become interested we have got to provide increased facilities for educational and technical training. From that point of view I have also suggested we want further training for selected students.
I wonder if more cannot be done under the joint action of the co-operative movement here, and the Colonial Office. I know we have an advisory committee on which valuable consultation takes place. But cannot more be done? The Co-operative Union in the United Kingdom have a very creditable record. They were giving advice and assistance years before it became Colonial Office policy to foster and assist co-operatives. Many good men, servants of the Union, men with a sense of mission, have gone into the Colonial Territories, and today at the Co-operative College in Loughborough there are students from the Gold Coast. 2314 Nigeria, Tanganyika, Malaya, Trinidad, Sarawak and Cyprus.
The fact remains that the resources of the British movement are limited. They cannot afford unlimited money for this class of work. But they could do much in the way of technical assistance if the necessary agreements were reached. When I talk of technical assistance, I am thinking of bookkeepers, storekeepers, stock-keepers and people like that who could go out into some of these areas for a limited term if suitable financial arrangements could be made. There might well be in some cases exchange of personnel, which, I am quite certain would be to the benefit of those of us here as well as of those people in the Colonial Territories. Some of us on this side of the Committee may well think that more could be done quite independently by the British movement. There have been suggestions that United Kingdom societies here could adopt societies in the Colonial Territories. I agree with many of those suggestions, but all I am doing here is pressing the Colonial Secretary to see what more he can do.
Then there is the question of finance. In some areas a good deal more could be done if the capital were available. I know there are especial difficulties here, and it is always easy to appear generous with the money of others. But I make one suggestion. I have recently put some Questions to the right hon. Gentleman about marketing boards and price stabilisation funds. I was really surprised to hear how great were the reserves built up by these funds. In total they run into millions. I estimate that they amount to not far short of £150 to £200 million altogether. Could not a proportion of this money be used for technical training?
The right hon. Gentleman told me that the Uganda Cotton Fund had, in very small part, been used for this purpose. I think in other cases some money might similarly be used not only for technical training in the sense of productive technical training, but in the provision of elementary instruction in accountancy and bookkeeping for some of the people who are trying to organise the societies out there.
Is it not also possible to use a limited proportion of this money to capitalise some form of credit institution, appointed by statute especially for the purpose of 2315 providing short and medium-termed credit for co-operative societies? Let us not forget, in considering this matter, that much of the money in some of the funds has, in the first place, been collected from the co-operative societies and from individual co-operators. Now that prices are beginning to fall, a good deal of the money will be spent for the original purpose for which it was collected, namely, providing a price cushion, but even so there are some very large sums there, and I think that co-operative credit institutions, administered by a board, possibly half to be appointed by the co-operative societies and half by the Government, could play a very great part in the development of useful industry and of agriculture in some of our Colonial Territories.
I also wanted to say a word about this possibility of reducing Government administration. We have reached the point in some areas when we must try and hand over to a greater extent the responsibility of tutelage from Government offices to native organisations. May I stress here that when I make that suggestion it is not intended to belittle the work of the Government officers, registrars and their staffs. Rather does it mean that in some places they have done their work so well that they can now step further into the background.
I have in mind the creation or encouragement of regional federations or unions which can themselves provide technical advice and assistance for new or struggling societies. In some cases this has been done as, for instance, in Nigeria and in the Gold Coast. In Jamaica there is already a Co-operative Union affiliated to the International Co-operative Alliance. That is the road along which we want to see others tread. We want more of these unions linked closely as equals with the international fellowship.
Obviously the speed with which we can create or encourage developments of this kind is determined by the availability of trained personnel, and on that we go back to the first point which I tried to make. Again I say that in what I am saying there is no criticism of the work done by the officers responsible to the Secretary of State. Both his advisers at home and his officers in the field have done magnificent work, especially since the war. But 2316 the fact that there is this goodwill; the fact that there is this growing interest in the British movement in the Colonial co-operative development; coupled with the great need in the territories, is a challenge for us. I hope that the Secretary of State will accept this challenge and that some reference can be made to the part that the Government feel the co-operative movement can play in the increased development of the Colonial Territories.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)
I shall follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) only on one point, a most interesting one, the funds of marketing boards. The danger is that although at the moment those funds may seem large, if there were to be any further slide of raw material prices, they could speedily evaporate. On the other hand, if those funds were invested in gilt-edged securities, it might well be possible, even on a small scale, to use the income from those investments for such training purposes as have been suggested in the period before any future slump may occur.
Turning to the central theme of this debate, what immediately strikes any student of these affairs is the number of agencies, committees, and other bodies which all appear to be trying to do the same thing. There is, for instance, the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, the Colonial Development Corporation, the Overseas Food Corporation, a variety of United Nations Agencies, and the most recently announced Commonwealth Investment Corporation. In order to simplify the work which these bodies are trying to carry out, there are surely three broad functions into which we ought to divide development of our Colonial Territories in the widest sense.
The first is strictly welfare, that is to say, helping those territories which, for reasons outside their control, are unable to be economically stable now or in the foreseeable future. I refer particularly to small islands which, for obvious reasons, cannot be economically stable units. For those we have a moral responsibility which we must carry out by a purely welfare function, and the money for this must obviously be provided from Government sources.
The second function is development in its long-term sense. The Secretary of 2317 State referred to the magnificent work which is being done in the development of the more basic communications and transport facilities, harbours, railways, and so on. There again we have to depend almost, if not entirely, on public money, for the good reason that no monetary returns can be expected for a long time. It is therefore hard, if not impossible, to get private enterprise interested in those projects. It is not fair, in this connection, for the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) to speak rather contemptuously of private enterprise not being able to fulfil such functions.
§ Mr. Bennett
It seemed to me that the right hon. Gentleman spoke contemptuously. It is not surprising that private individuals, whether Conservative or Socialist, whether they are members of trade unions or co-operative societies, want to invest their money where they will get a return.
§ Mr. Shinwell
That is not what I said. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman did not understand. It was probably my fault. Referring to the Colonial Development Corporation, I said that if these inhibitions were placed on their activities, we might as well leave it to private enterprise.
§ Mr. Bennett
Perhaps I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but if he did not say it on this occasion, it is often said from the other side of the House. I repeat that it is logical for anybody who wishes to invest his savings to want to do so in something which will give him a reasonable return for his money.
That brings me to the third broad development function, which is investment in its broadest sense. There profitability and risk must clearly be the guiding maxims. It is in this function alone that private money can play an effective part. Therefore I want to know a little more from the Government about what is happening with regard to the Commonwealth Investment Corporation, the formation of which was announced after the last Commonwealth Economic Conference. If that body follows the general lines of the International Bank in Washington, it ought to fulfil most of the 2318 profitability risk function about which we have been hearing today. It seems to me, however, that it overlaps in some respects with the work being done by the Colonial Development Corporation, and that some further delineation is necessary if we are to understand how those bodies are to work together without overlapping.
Finally, on quite another topic, I want to refer to the control of populations mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law). It is always difficult and embarrassing to speak on the subject of how people ought to control their family habits, but it is a regrettable fact at which we must not blink that in certain parts of the world the more money spent on conquering disease and in providing social amenities, the more there is an increase of population and a consequent growth of the economic problems.
One example is the island of Mauritius where malaria has recently been largely overcome. One immediate effect of that has been a spiral in the local population, with the result that unless steps are taken in the future, that island must have a decreasing standard of living in the years to come. It may be that in this case an answer may be provided by emigration but, without it, it is difficult to see how this particular problem can be overcome. I suggest, therefore, that we must take into account the difficulties of constantly increasing populations, and not shut our eyes to the rather embarrassing social problems which they present to this country.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but is it not a fact that malaria leaves a large population incapable of productive work, or with a greatly reduced productive power? Whereas, if we can get rid of malaria, it has been proved in many cases that we increase the total production? However, the people must also be taught how to farm their lands and do other things.
§ Mr. Bennett
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would not misinterpret what I have said. I did not advocate that malaria should not be cured. I said that in some parts of the world the cure of malaria and other diseases led to an increase of population and consequent diffi- 2319 culties, as in the case of Mauritius. It is not much good telling the population there how to farm their own land when it is so small that, if the present increase in population is maintained, there will be no land to farm.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Awbery (Bristol, Central)
I have listened carefully to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I want to congratulate him on giving us information and statistics which it will be interesting to read tomorrow.
Yesterday I put a Question to the Minister regarding rubber in Malaya, and I shall concentrate my attention today more upon that aspect than upon the money that is being spent on our Colonies. One hon. Gentleman opposite below the Gangway referred to the money we are pouring into the Colonies, and from that one might get the impression that we in this country are pouring all we have into the Colonies that have nothing.
In most cases the reverse is the position, and I shall deal with the Federation of Malaya and the Colony of Singapore. More money has been coming out of Malaya for a number of years than this country has ever put into it. The hon. Gentleman has so often said this that I think he is beginning to believe it, but he must disabuse his mind. It is true that there are a few places where we are giving help to those who need it, but, if they are Colonies of ours, we have a moral responsibility to see that they are looked after.
Rubber always has an effect upon me When I was a young man I remember reading a book called "Red Rubber." written by an hon. Member of the House, E. D. Morel. The author pointed out the tragic conditions of the people of the Congo and the book made an indelible impression upon my mind. That is probably one of the reasons I am taking an interest in rubber in Malaya.
Malayan rubber has saved this country economically. Had it not been for the rubber and tin from Malaya which we have given in exchange for the dollars that we required, we would have been in a precarious position long ago. We owe a debt not only to the owners of the plantations, but to the people who work them. What struck me particularly in the speech 2320 today of the Colonial Secretary was that, although he gave numerous figures one thing that he left entirely alone was the human element in our economic relations with other countries. I want to look at the human side of this economic picture and not only at the financial side. Every speech to which we have listened this afternoon has dealt with the financial side, and not one has yet touched the human side.
Hon. Members say that we have done a great deal for our Colonies, and I believe that we have. This nation of ours has written some glorious pages in its colonial history, pages which if put together would make a big volume. But we have written also some sombre pages which we would like to forget. We have done a great deal, and we have left undone a great deal. I say this not to condemn or chide the Government or anybody else. It is easy to pass blame on to somebody else instead of accepting the responsibility ourselves.
In the rubber plantations which provide us with our dollars there is unrest and dissatisfaction. I put a Question to the Minister yesterday asking why a ban has been placed upon the export of rubber from Malaya to China. The right hon. Gentleman's reply was reasonable and logical: as long as the war continues, we cannot export strategic material from Malaya and Singapore to China. At the same time, however, Ceylon—we are discussing the Colombo Plan—is sending to China 50,000 tons of rubber a year for the next five years. The contract has been made. But Malaya cannot send anything to China.
What will happen immediately the Korean war ends? Ceylon is already in the market, and Malaya is outside. The result will be that the Malayan rubber business will find itself in a tragic position, and this will react upon the workers in the Malayan plantations. I do not want that to happen. We have seen unrest, and I do not want to see Malaya made a distressed area because there is no demand for its rubber.
We have left out of our calculations the worker in the rubber plantations. Today he receives 3s. 4d. a day, and the price of rubber is approximately 1s. 9d. a lb. Two years ago he was receiving 3s. 8d. a day, and the price of rubber was 2321 approximately 4s. 0d. a 1b. That Malayan rubber worker is not satisfied. He wants what we in this country have got. He wants better wages and living conditions, reasonable social legislation, and decent workmen's compensation legislation, which the workers of this country won many years ago. He looks at us and he tries to do what we have done. When I was out there I pointed out that they could do what we had done, and that they could do it in less time because they had our experiences as a guide.
How are we to win these people? We have to win the colonial peoples if we are to do anything of an economic character. We can win them only by giving them our friendship and comradeship, and not by trying to buy them. We have tried this in the past by giving and giving, but that is not enough. I met a Burmese friend some time ago and spoke to her about what this country had done for Burma. "Yes," she said, "your country has done much for us and has given us much, but there is one thing you did not do: you did not give us your heart." That is what the colonial peoples want.
§ Mr. Awbery
That was some time ago. If we want to win the Colonies we must give them our heart. Had we given our heart to Burma 30 years ago, she would not be in the position she is in today. We did not give our heart, our friendship and comradeship as we should have done. What we did was to exploit these places. People do not like the word "exploitation," but there is no doubt that we exploited them, and now the reaction is coming.
We must face the fact that the day of imperialism as we knew it has gone. The people in our Colonies have awakened. They have been stirred up by the emotions of two world wars and are seeking something different from what we have given them in the past. When we talk about the economic position of the Colonies, we should think not only of the money side and how much we make out of them, but of what we can give to these people and what we can do to bind them to the mother nation.
2322 I should like to mention one or two things that the workers appreciate, and I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will mention these points when he replies. We have sent out trade union advisers to help those people to build up their trade unions on similar lines to our own. Those advisers are doing good work in binding the workers into a reasonable organisation and preventing them from going over to Communism. I differ from the right hon. Member who spoke from below the Gangway opposite and said that poverty and oppression do not drive people to Communism. I am convinced that they do. The more oppression and poverty that people suffer, the more likely they are to go over to Communism. If we are to win these people, we must give them direction, show them the way they should go, and help them along that road.
We have also passed labour laws which have been a considerable help to the people there. But what we are promising and what we are doing on paper does not coincide with what we do in practice. We encourage the development of the trade union movement in theory, but when it comes to actual practice we discourage it.
Quite recently there was a threat of a strike in the various Government Departments in Singapore. The men made an application for a variation in their rates and conditions months before, but it was put off and delayed until they came out on strike. It was only then that the trade union movement could get the Government Departments, the Admiralty, the military and the Air Ministry, together to discuss their problems. If we are always to wait for the men to threaten to strike before a Government Department moves, that is wrong indeed. We expect Government Departments in our Colonies to be an example to other employers. Other employers look to the Government as an example. I want the Government not only to give recognition to the trade union movement in theory but in practice.
General Templer is doing a good job. My last word to the Government is to send out to Malaya to advise him someone with bold, sound, solid, progressive political ideas. If he goes there, I believe he can win the people of Malaya and 2323 stop the trouble which is there today. I hope, therefore, that in our discussion we shall not forget the human element in our Colonies.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Sir Harold Roper (Cornwall, North)
I am not qualified to follow the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) in his very interesting remarks about Malaya, but I would make the comment that if his assessment of the position in Malaya is in line with that of the relationship in Burma, I feel sure it is sadly amiss.
§ Mr. Awbery
I want to point out that we shall lose Malaya the same as we lost Burma if we treat Malaya in the same way as we treated Burma.
§ Sir H. Roper
We did not lose Burma for that reason. The Burmese people, of all people in the Far East, are the most delightful and, individually, the European in Burma was very fond of the Burmese. I cannot believe that the poor relationships to which the hon. Member referred were more than superficial.
I wish to emphasise that the Colombo Plan, the Colonial Development Corporation and the measures referred to on the Order Paper, which uses the term "Backward Areas," are not an end in themselves. They are designed to provide a sound foundation on which to build an economic structure by private investment.
I suppose that of all the single economic problems of the world on this side of the Iron Curtain one of the most important is the necessity to expand food supplies for India. I should speak of the Indian Peninsula because we must couple with India, Pakistan and Ceylon. We have to keep pace with the ever-growing population and, when that is achieved, to try to raise the standard of nutrition of those many millions of people. What makes it so important is the vast population of India. It is often not realised that it is nearly double the total population of Africa.
The Colombo Plan deals with this problem. It covers also the whole of the Commonwealth countries of South-East Asia, but the fact that 73 per cent. of the total cost of the Colombo Plan relates to India and 15 per cent. to Pakistan is an indication of the immense 2324 importance of the Indian Peninsula in the matters discussed in the Colombo Plan. The proposals made in regard to India are not new. It is an old problem, and under British rule, in the past, we achieved great things. I have in mind one of our greatest achievements, which was rescuing India during the latter half of the last century from what was almost a chronic condition of famine. It is rather remarkable that the methods of the Colombo Plan bear a very close resemblance to the methods adopted at that time, although today our problem is not so much the method as the tempo at which we apply it.
This country is still concerned with India, as a member of the Commonwealth and as a participant in the Colombo Plan, and on general grounds of humanitarian treatment. But we are no longer responsible for it, nor for Pakistan or Ceylon. We have no direct responsibility for them. On the other hand, we are directly responsible for the other countries covered by the Plan—Malaya and British Borneo, and for the countries in our Colonial Empire elsewhere. As the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) remarked, what a colossal task it is. It is right therefore that while not overlooking the immense importance of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and particularly perhaps Pakistan, which, after separation, started from scratch, without a developed organisation, we should give even closer attention to the problems of the Colonial Territories.
The problems in the Colonies are basically the same as those covered by the Colombo Plan and basically the same today as they were 50 years ago. Everywhere the most important matter is agriculture. Through the Colombo Plan in India it is tackled, as previously, by increase of irrigation. I was extremely pleased that the Secretary of State emphasised the importance of agriculture and had such a gratifying tale to tell of the measures being taken to overcome these problems. As I say, the problems are basically the same as they were, though the conditions in which we have to apply them have changed, particularly in the need for quicker tempo.
The Colombo Plan indicates two main factors which are limiting development. They apply also to a large degree in our Colonial Empire. They are the need 2325 for capital and the need for technical skill. To meet the shortage of technical skill in the higher levels, it is necessary to take all practicable measures to train technical men overseas and to recruit where necessary overseas technicians for the purpose. But in the lower levels the training will naturally be done locally, as development proceeds.
As regards capital, the remedy lies in doing our utmost to encourage sound private enterprise, to look for capital locally where it is available, and where it is not to seek it overseas—in America, if necessary, but preferably in this country. In the past there has been a tendency to decry the British achievements in our Empire. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made some interesting observations on what we have done during the last 20 years. I was sorry that he did not go back further, because it is often suggested that for generations past we had been lacking.
I hope the Committee will bear with me if I draw attention to a few things which the British have achieved in South-East Asia. It was British capital that built the great Indian railway system; and, bearing in mind the importance of food supplies, it is interesting to recall that the Indian railway system had its origin as a famine measure. The first Indian railways were installed with British capital in order to transfer food from areas of surplus to areas of scarcity. Those railways are now taken over by the Government of India.
The great tea industry originated from British initiative and British capital, and now it is run largely with Indian capital. The jute industry was imported from Dundee. It started in India in comparatively recent times and it is now a vast industry, some 80 per cent. of its capital being Indian. Take the rubber industry. Within the lifetime of the older Members of the Committee there was no rubber in South-East Asia. Rubber for South-East Asia was originally developed in Kew. That great industry started in comparatively recent years, and now it is largely in the hands of Indian capital.
On a smaller scale, there is the tin-plate industry of India with which I personally have been associated. India needed tinplates. We bought the plant, we imported about 200 Welsh tinplate workers and we got a sound industry 2326 going. When I last visited that tinplate industry shortly before the war, it was practically 100 per cent. Indianised. There were a few senior supervisory Europeans and American supervisory staff, and the rest were Indians. What an achievement we have made in India.
In reply to those who speak of dividends, I would say that they were surely a small price to pay for the benefits which accrued to India. We must hope that such achievements will be repeated in the future, and at a quicker rate. Conditions today are changed. There is the need for capital. The Secretary of State dealt reassuringly with that subject. To encourage capital we have to provide conditions in these countries which will attract the capital, and, so far as this concerns the City of London, I believe that a real reduction in taxation in this country would be the greatest encouragement in attracting capital for overseas.
§ Mr. Awbery
Are we to draw the conclusion that money was invested in India because it was more favourable to invest it there than anywhere else, and not for the purpose of helping the Indian people?
§ Sir H. Roper
My argument is that the best way to help the Indian people is to get British industry going in that country. It is through industry that we ultimately bring the greatest benefit to these people.
§ Mr. Awbery
The object was not to help the Indian people but to get a satisfactory investment from the capital?
§ Sir H. Roper
My whole argument has been directed to showing what British enterprise has done for the people of India, and that we can continue to help the people of India if we get British capital or capital from elsewhere to go to India. One might add that the more we pay out for new hospitals, to which the hon. Member for Swindon referred, the less there will be available to finance development in these places.
Another factor is the growth of nationalism in these countries which is assuredly affecting development. No one in this Committee, I am sure, begrudges this growth of nationalism. It can be a healthy thing; it certainly is a natural thing, and it is not always healthy. We must be concerned lest in adjusting our methods 2327 to this new condition, false steps may be taken by ourselves or by the nationals which may hinder the material progress of the general masses of the people.
In recent years industrial courts have been developed in India. This is an instance of the kind of false step which we must try to avoid. To start with, reference to these industrial courts was almost automatic as soon as an industrial dispute arose. That has had the effect of bedevilling relations between employer and employee. I am glad that that is beginning to be realised in India, and I hope that the situation will right itself.
Then there are the problems of the colour bar, and perhaps most important, the application of the colour bar in the Copper Belt. I speak of the Copper Belt, not that I have ever been there but I have had long experience of very similar problems elsewhere. The problem in the Copper Belt is surely an industrial problem and, as has been said, an industrial problem which is not dissimilar from the problem of employing Italians in our mines in this country.
This is not a simple question. I can quite imagine that a high degree of skill is necessary in those copper mines, and on the one side we have the urge for a high standard of skill for economic and safe working, and on the other side we have pressure to advance the coloured worker, and perhaps to reduce that standard in order to provide him with employment. That is an industrial problem which has to be worked out, and it may take time to work it out. In my view, there is no specific remedy, perhaps no quick remedy; ultimately public opinion will decide it.
Then again in countries which are under pressure from the nationalist urge there are a variety of wage problems where more highly paid technicians have to be employed from overseas. They must be paid a higher rate; it is inevitable. We have to face that and work out a solution on the spot. It is not an easy matter, and a great deal of harm can be done by pretending that it is. It must be settled on the spot by sympathetic, enlightened handling, and always having regard, in these wage problems, to the ultimate wage picture, if one might so express it.
2328 I was very pleased to note the statesmanlike announcement of the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast which appeared in the Press a few days ago about British staffs. It seems that in spite of the political pressure to which he must be exposed, he has, to his great credit, stood firm in his decision that there is a point in Africanisation beyond which he cannot go without endangering the national interest. As with overseas staff so it must surely be with private capital, and this applies not with particular reference to the Gold Coast.
I should like to quote one or two sentences from the Colombo Plan It is stated, in page 41:In the long run, when the emphasis of the investment programmes changes from basic development to investment in industry and commerce, the need will best be satisfied by private capital. Indeed the progress of these countries in later years will depend largely upon the existence of a favourable atmosphere for private foreign investment.How true that is. Private capital is a shy creature, and unless we have that enlightened leadership in those countries which is prepared to face unpopularity in order to avoid those conditions which will frighten capital away, those countries will suffer. That is the lesson which I hope will be learned as these various countries advance towards control of their own futures.
Much attention has been paid to the Colonial Development Corporation. I wonder whether we have not expected too much of it, whether we have not been guilty of wishful thinking. I am sure that the Colonial Development Corporation can serve a useful purpose, which I think it would probably do best by financing commercial development in the various countries. But it should be used to prime the pump of private enterprise and not to be a substitute for it. That is the picture as I see it.
I have spoken longer than I had intended, and I will finish by again repeating that the Colonial Development Corporation and the matters which we have been discussing today are largely forming the basis on which we must build for private enterprise. As the Colombo Plan Report states:public development paves the way for private investment.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I am very glad that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Sir H. Roper) referred to the economic problems of the Indian sub-continent, because I want to say something this evening about impressions of those problems which I gathered while I was there during the winter. We have heard a great deal today about the Colonies, and it may not be out of the way to hear a little about the Asian Dominions tonight. Not that I am not interested in the problem of economic development in the Colonies: I am very much interested. Indeed I had some measure of responsibility for a time, when I was Paymaster-General in the last Government, for the determination of priorities in the allocation of our resources among all the competing claims upon them—the reconstruction of our home industry, the development of our exports and colonial development.
I paid a visit at that time to East and Central Africa, but it was not until last winter, when I visited India, Pakistan and Ceylon, that I realised to the full how urgent and pressing is this problem of the development of the under-developed areas. It is when one goes to Asian countries such as those that one fully appreciates the extent to which we are faced by the problem described by Thomas Malthus nearly 150 years ago—the pressure of population upon resources. I do not think, as Malthus did, that mankind is doomed inevitably to defeat in that struggle. I think that the battle can be won.
I think we can increase our resources, possibly modify the rate of expansion of our population at the same time, and keep the two in balance. I am sure it can be done in the long run but I am also sure that in order to do it in the space of time that seems to be at our disposal we have to put a tremendous amount of energy into the task. We are engaged in a race against time, and although it may be true that the battle will be won, it will not do to let our efforts to win it be made anything less than highly vigorous by that consoling thought.
The Governments of India, Pakistan and Ceylon are, so far as I could see, undoubtedly tackling these problems, 2330 within the range of what is available to them, with great resource and vigour. I do not think it true to say, as is said in some quarters, that they are slack or lacking in energy or good will in the drive to raise the standard of living of their own people and win this battle against the pressure of population upon very inadequate resources in their difficult climatic situation.
The right hon. Member for Haltem-price (Mr. Law) seemed to be in some doubt about just where Communism came into this picture. The answer is surely that in order to win the battle of resources against population in countries like India and Pakistan revolutionary changes have to be effected in the pattern and way of life in those countries. We have to change the habits of agriculture and production. We have to change the habits of thought and conditions of health. We have to make a revolutionary reconstruction in the structure of village communities and inspire new enthusiasm where it has not existed for a thousand years. The problem is to effect revolutionary changes by evolutionary methods.
It seemed to me that those Governments knew very well what was the problem. It has been most eloquently expressed in India by the Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, who is a great orator and inspirer of men. Wherever I went in Pakistan I was impressed by the extreme vigour and enthusiasm with which they are undertaking the construction of their new country; the speed with which they are building a new port at Chittagong; the rapidity of completion of the new projects at Dacca, and the great developments in the Thal area, where the sand has been turned into soil and wheat is growing out of what has been a burning desert for thousands of years. All these things are very inspiring. They do not lack enthusiasm, imagination or the will to work.
The same thing is true in many parts of India, but, from habits formed over thousands of years, Indian people are perhaps of a less resolute and energetic character than the people of Pakistan. Though even in India one can find doers as well as talkers, one gains the impression that normally people living near the mountains are a little more energetic than people living in the vales.
2331 I do not wish to be misunderstood however, and while there is evidence of the greatest enthusiasm in Pakistan, I found it also in India; though, as the Prime Minister never ceases to tell his people, in India they have some inertia to make up for. But there, too, we find young men resolved to create a new society, capable of giving leadership to their fellows and willing to work hard without thought of personal award.
Ceylon has a much more manageable problem, mainly because the climate is so much more kindly to mankind, and much is being done. But the fact remains that in the three countries taken together, not enough is being done. That is not the fault of these people, but they know and we know that a great deal more needs to be done.
The Minister gave some interesting news about the expansion of various types and kinds of production within the Colonies. But what he referred to mainly was increases in the production of raw materials. Copper, sisal and cotton were included in his catalogue. He was not able to give similar encouraging accounts of the expansion of output in agriculture. That expansion is the key to this problem. We find in the Colonies or the Dominions, or in under-developed countries in other parts of the world, that the key to the problem is agriculture, and the key person in this key problem is the peasant cultivator, the village producer.
In all the countries I visited there is no lack of vast projects for bringing new land under cultivation by the building of dams; the reconstruction of old tanks in Ceylon to bring water to land at present waterless; irrigation by means of tube wells, and so on. There are dozens of such projects, but in the long run, or at any rate in the 10 years immediately ahead, the winning of this battle will depend on the rehabilitation of the village cultivator. There is no time for these long-term projects to come to fruition. The most important part of the economic development in the Indian sub-continent at the present time are the community projects, where the Government have set to work to try to reconstruct the whole pattern and nature of village life, to make advancements in the level of village life and the ability of the villagers to produce more food.
2332 They have done so by attacking the problem on several fronts at the same time. They are attacking on the educational front; endeavouring to wipe out the large amount of illiteracy which makes it so difficult to communicate with the people in India, and to instruct them in some of the elementary subjects about which they need to know in order to adopt new methods of cultivation. Endeavours are being made to develop their technical knowledge so that they may use more up to date implements.
An attack is also being made from the health angle. Malaria has been proclaimed Public Enemy No. 1, both from the humanitarian point of view—because malaria is a crippling disease—and also on economic grounds, because endemic malaria saps the vitality of the human spirit and creates that inertia about which so many visitors to these countries have spoken. Progress is being made, with the help of the World Health Organisation, in trying to stamp out malaria and other diseases about which I will not weary the Committee.
Wherever the Government can afford to do so health centres have been established. These become not only places where injuries and illnesses may be treated and where facilities may be provided for mothers to bring their children into the world free from danger, but where there can be reasonable and sensible discussions on methods of family planning. That is all part of the policy of the Government of India at the present time.
They are attacking the problem of sanitation and so on. They are attacking on the agricultural front. Not by the publication of text books or the provision of university education—though that goes on—but mainly by carrying out demonstrations on the spot showing what can be done by fertilisation and so on.
Everyone knows that the land in India has been starved for thousands of years. What has been taken from it has not been put back. After the denudation of the forests it became necessary to burn cow dung as fuel, and so it has not gone back into the soil. But proper fertilisation, ley cultivation and the rest of it is being taught to villagers, still largely illiterate, by the method of practical demonstration which, as the right hon. Gentleman said 2333 about the African peoples, is always the best way to do it.
These immensely valuable community projects do not by any means cover the whole of India. That is not because the Indian Government do not wish them to do so, but because the necessary funds are lacking. These are the kind of economic undertakings which cannot pay cash dividends. They have to be undertaken by the investment of public funds. If the Indian people, of whom so many millions live at an appalingly low standard, have not enough funds to provide for these projects more funds must and ought to come from elsewhere, even if such projects pay no dividends. These countries have made use of all the agencies available. They have used the Colombo Plan. Do not let anyone say that there is no Colombo plan: there is. The New Zealanders, the Australians and the British people whom I met out there are doing a great deal of valuable work under the Colombo Plan. They have used Point Four. They are using in good measure the United Nations Technical Assistance Service.
But it is still not enough. I came back feeling that this was the most important task which confronts mankind today and that we who are the richer and more powerful are not yet doing enough. In the long run, what we do for them—if we can help them more than we have done—will be to our advantage no less than to theirs. When the Economic and Social Council surveyed this problem recently they set up a committee of experts to give them advice. The experts looked at the problem dispassionately without prejudice or party enthusiasm.
After suggesting six or seven different actions which needed to be taken they came to the final conclusion that what they recommended could not effectively be done unless there was established a world development authority. That is the real question that we want the Government to answer. Can it be said that all that might be done is being done in this urgent race against time? If the Government are not satisfied about that, are they backing this recommendation of the experts that there should be a world development authority?
The Minister may well tell me that the Russians have turned it down. I think I read that in "The Times" this morning. 2334 I was very busy, and I apologise for not having the quotation with me. If that is true, need that kill the suggestion? I hope not. Is there any reason why the Government, here and now, should not say, "It is true that we have a Colonial Development and Welfare Fund as well as taking part in the Colombo Plan and voting our funds to the Specialised Agencies, but even so, over and above that, in view of our great responsibilities and the part that we have played in the past, and in our view of our appreciation of the urgency of the problem, we will join with other nations in establishing this world development authority."
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Wentworth Schofield (Rochdale)
I shall confine my remarks to one aspect of colonial economic development, because it is one which could be profitably encouraged. I refer to the growing of more cotton in the Empire. I hope that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will give special consideration to this question. There is not the slightest doubt that the yield of cotton from colonial soil could be materially increased, to the great benefit of those who inhabit and live by the products of the Colonies. Development on these lines would add substantially to the economic resources of the mother country and of the Empire as a whole.
I need not emphasise the importance of raw cotton supplies to this country. Before the war more than half our total imports of cotton came from America, but we must remember that then American cotton was cheap and easily obtainable. There were no currency difficulties to impede its importation. During the war America continued to supply us under Lend-Lease arrangements, but since the war and the end of Lend-Lease the greatly increased price of American cotton, coupled with our own dollar difficulties, has limited the amount which we could buy from America.
In consequence, we have been compelled to look elsewhere for our supplies where currency difficulties were not quite so bad. Much of the cotton which has been supplied as a result came from colonial sources. It is noticeable that, whereas in pre-war years the percentage of Empire cotton imported was only 8 per cent., last year it had risen to just over 26 per cent. This increased use of 2335 Empire cotton, though I must admit that it has been one largely of necessity brought about by our shortage of dollars, has nevertheless done much to lessen the prejudice which was held by some English spinners against Empire cotton as compared with some other cottons.
As a result a golden opportunity is presented to Empire producers to persuade English spinners to use more Empire cotton from choice rather than from necessity. Before the war several attempts were made to popularise and stimulate interest in Empire cotton, but at that time American cotton was cheap, there was no dollar shortage and it was just as easy to buy from there as from Empire sources. Also we must remember that the American cotton industry is long-established and highly organised. The spinners could always rely on getting adequate supplies of the quality they wanted with the sure knowledge that there would be little, if any, variation in quality from year to year. On the other hand, Empire cotton growing and marketing was still a comparatively young venture not nearly so well organised either in marketing or in growing.
The handicap under which Empire producers suffered in those days was very real. Today, however, those conditions have completely changed. American cotton, at something like six times its pre-war price, instead of being cheap and easy to buy is now regarded almost as a luxury which swallows up dollars which could well be used for other purposes. I cannot say for how long we shall be faced with currency difficulties, but I cannot help feeling that the dollar scarcity is not just a passing phase but something which is likely to be with us for a considerable time.
Whether it is or not makes no difference to my argument, because every dollar saved is a dollar earned. Anything that can be done to help to overcome our dollar difficulties should not be lightly ignored. In looking to the Colonial Empire to provide us with an alternative supply of raw cotton, history is in a way repeating itself. It is just about 50 years since we first decided to look to the Empire as a possible means of supply. Until that time no serious effort has been made in the Empire to grow cotton.
2336 Fifty years ago our fear of losing our supplies because of being too dependent on America caused us to look to the Empire. Today our fear of losing supplies because we may not have enough of the particular kind of money to buy from America is again causing us to look to the Empire. At the turn of the century the cotton industry was expanding rapidly. It was only when the cotton spinners of Lancashire became perturbed at their growing dependence on the United States of America for supplies that steps were taken to explore the possibilities of cotton growing in the Empire. As a result, there was formed an organisation known as the British Cotton Growing Association, which was established under Royal Charter, the funds of which were subscribed by the various cotton trade organisations representative of both employers and operatives.
Later, in 1921, as a result of the findings of a committee especially appointed by the Board of Trade at that time to look into the potentialities of growing cotton in the Empire, the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation was formed, again under Royal Charter and with a capital grant of £1 million subscribed by the Government of the day. In order to supplement its revenue, British spinners agreed to pay a levy of so much on every bale of cotton consumed in this country. Today, that levy is still being paid, but it is now paid in a block grant by the Cotton Board through funds subscribed by the industry itself.
Hon. Members should not confuse these two organisations. Though both are working in the interests of growing cotton in the Colonies, both have different functions. While the British Cotton Growing Association is concerned with the commercial side of growing and selling cotton, the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation confines its activities to experimentation and research. Instead of trying to grow cotton on a commercial scale, it encourages others, particularly the native peasants, to produce cotton by providing experts and specialists who work in conjunction with the personnel of the agricultural departments of the various Colonies in giving advice to the native farmers on such matters as plant diseases, insect pests, soil and modern farming methods. In that way, they help the native peasants to increase their yield of cotton.
2337 Though the production of Empire cotton has grown steadily from just over 100,000 bales a year in 1921 to something in the region of one million bales a year at the present time, there is nevertheless still plenty of room for improvement, particularly in regard to the quantity of cotton which is produced. Unfortunately, in the agricultural departments of the Colonies, there is a great shortage of the trained specialists to whom I have referred, but there is not the slightest doubt, I am assured, that if there were more of these trained specialists available, who could put over to the native growers simple improvements in farming methods, the present level of the yield of cotton could be doubled without any increase at all in the acreage.
Though the Colonial Office have tried by means of a recruiting drive to obtain the type of man required, their efforts have not been very successful. They have not been able to get a sufficient number of the right type of man suitable for this specialist training. It may be—I do not know—that the young men of today have not the same pioneering instincts of their forefathers, or it may be that the terms and conditions of service are not sufficiently attractive to persuade them to leave the homeland for the rougher conditions of the Colonies.
Again, it may be that they shun the idea of spending the rest of their lives in hot and sometimes uncomfortable conditions, in which case—and I am glad to see that the Colonial Secretary has this in mind—the Colonial Office might have a better chance of success in their recruiting efforts if they could arrange for a periodic inter-change of these specialists, so that some of them might work for a certain length of time abroad and then be exchanged for people working at home.
Whatever the reason for the inability to secure these men, it is vitally important that, by some means or other, they should be secured, because I am assured by people on the spot that this is the very crux of the whole matter, and that, until the native is shown and can be persuaded to use these modern mechanical methods of farming, he will still continue to depend upon the somewhat antiquated method of hoeing, and, in consequence, the low yield of cotton will continue. It is not a question of increasing the acreage in order to get more cotton, but a question of increasing the yield per acre, 2338 and I am assured by those who have to handle this problem that the present yield of cotton in such places as Uganda and Nyasaland could be doubled.
There again, it is no use increasing the yield if, when the crop is grown, there are no adequate facilities for handling it. There are many complaints that rail, road and port facilities are quite inadequate to deal even with the present yield of cotton, and already it is known that considerable losses have been experienced because of the inability to move accumulated stocks. Unless there are adequate facilities for handling and moving the crop, there is not very much point in increasing the crop itself.
I am very glad, however, that the Colonial Secretary has given No. 1 priority to this question of port and transport facilities, but as the necessary rail, road and port facilities can be dealt with only by a Government, I submit that it is in that direction that the Colonial Office might very well and profitably cast their eyes. I hope that, as the Colonial Secretary says this matter has been given No. 1 priority, that priority will be maintained until this difficulty has been remedied.
In conclusion, may I say that this is one way in which we can help to foster Empire trade, and in that manner give profit to those in the Colonies and to ourselves by helping the African native to grow more cotton, so that he will then be able to take from us some of those cotton goods which have been so very hard to sell in these African markets.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)
The issues that have been set for the debate today really belong to the world, and particularly to the free nations, and it is with that conception in our minds that we are likely to do the most good.
I know that there is a temptation to score a party point or two in connection with this debate, and I want to avoid it, but I should like to say to the Joint Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs that those of us who have been in touch with the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations are bitterly disappointed that the Government, being one of the pioneers of those Specialised Agencies, thought fit this year to reduce our con- 2339 tribution to the Technical Assistance programme. In spite of the fact that the programme has been estimated for this year at £9 million, the Government have thought fit, in the name of this country, not in the name of the Tory Party, to lift our miserable £450,000 to only £500,000. That is not good enough when the programme has been fixed by the United Nations at a higher level this year.
I listened with great interest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Lieut.-Colonel Schofield) speaking about the cotton industry, but we shall not win the African people by regarding the Colonies as repositories of the raw materials that we need. That is the old conception. If anybody thinks that that conception will carry us very far in this business of world government and of striking the right relationships with the depressed peoples of the world he had better do some thinking again. There are 70 million people in our Colonial Empire. We are responsible for them, that is the trusteeship which we have inherited; that is our responsibility to the world.
It is primarily a problem of man management. What kind of future our children will inherit depends upon the way in which we deal with these 70 million people. What I have just said is a fair representation of what I regard as the modern challenge to the free nations of the world. Some of us in this Committee can recall vividly the awakening of India. Thanks to the good record of our Indian Civil Service combined with imaginative statesmanship, we were able to transform that great people from a subject people to a sovereign people and yet keep them within the Commonwealth. That was a great achievement. I read the books of the experts who said that that achievement was not possible without a violent revolution.
There are those of us who recall the history of China during the last 50 years. Is there anyone in this Committee now who, knowing the direction that China has taken in looking to the East and to Russia, if the opportunity recurred would not adopt a different attitude to the old problem of our position in China? Would we not have had second thoughts had we known the direction that China was to take? Had we known it, would we have 2340 supported Japan against the Chinese people as we did? We lost the good will of the Chinese people because they never knew us except as people who dominated them. The Chinese masses only knew British and other European people through their British and European employers and, as a result, China has looked the other way.
Today Africa is the challenge. Let us make no mistake about it, Africa has a powerful new slogan. It is "Africa for the Africans." I do not know whether the Committee will agree with me when I say that I cannot regard the Mau Mau atrocities as anything but a crude expresion of that innermost desire of "Africa for the Africans." I come back, therefore, to the first point that I made—that the direction of the new development in Africa depends upon our management of these 70 million people.
I want to pay a tribute to the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations. They are making a powerful contribution to peace. I should like to see the International Labour Office take a lead in relation to the African people and I should like to see that lead being inspired by our own Ministry of Labour. This is a question of developing the Colonies, of developing agriculture and industry and producing a greater output of raw materials but with the good will of the native people.
I was very glad to see in "The Times" this morning that the Soviet Union have decided to make a contribution this year towards the technical assistance programme. I believe that it is the first contribution that they have made to any Specialised Agency of the United Nations. I hope that it is a good augury and that the Soviet Union will play their proper part in the work of the United Nations Specialised Agencies. Everybody recognises the potential wealth of the Colonies but the issue that confronts us is how to relate coloured and native labour to the problem of development. We shall certainly need to acquire a better concept than the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Sir H. Roper) appeared to support as an old Colonial industrialist in Burma.
I want the Colonial Office, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour, to adopt an industrial charter for our own 2341 Colonies. I re-echo the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) and say that the development of the underdeveloped and distressed areas of the world will only come about mainly through the expenditure of public money. I want the money spent under the Colombo Plan, our own money from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the money that will come from the United Nations to be subject to a fair wage clause, reasonably interpreted and given a legal sanction, in the employment of native and coloured labour.
I know that the trade unions in the Colonies are weak and lacking in leadership. We must give them a helping hand. In such cases, the Colonial Office should take the lead, give them a helping hand, in establishing a permanent medical board whose job it would be to measure from time to time, in terms of money wages, what is necessary to maintain a man, his wife and children on a standard of subsistence which will at least maintain their working efficiency. That decision, when reached, must have legal sanction and become the irreducible minimum wage.
We must make native labour feel that it is securing an improvement in any colonial development for which we are responsible, or which may flow from the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations. I want to see our colonial development on the industrial side matched with reasonable development in the sphere of education. Through native culture we must do everything we can to produce leaders from among the native people. We must extend a sympathetic, understanding and charitable hand towards them in the interesting future we are facing, so that we may retain the good will of the African Continent in the same way that we have retained it among the peoples of India and Pakistan.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I find it difficult to follow fully the arguments of the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle). He says that we have exploited our Commonwealth. Has he been to see what has been done in the Marampa mines in Sierra Leone, the manganese development at Nisuta, or the work of the 2342 Cameroon Development Corporation in British Cameroons? Has he compared the standard of living given to the workers there with their native status? We are often inclined to forget what the Pax Britannica has brought to the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Moyle
I hope I did not cause the hon. Member to misunderstand me. I do not dispute the need for raw materials, but if we regard the Colonies merely as places from which raw materials may be extracted we shall be making a profound mistake, and we shall not be realising the primary question with regard to the Colonies, which is the proper management of the 70 million people for whom we are responsible.
§ Mr. Tilney
I fully agree with that. I hope that we shall accept the very statesmanlike remarks of the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast and sponsor that country as a member of our Commonwealth, but partnership depends on a balance, with everyone doing his fair share.
The Commonwealth, and especially the Colonies, were to some extent exploited when the great funds of the marketing boards, built up through the years succeeding the war, depreciated in terms of purchasing power, month by month and year by year. I hope that is now a matter of the past, because what we have to achieve is, as the hon. Member for Old-bury and Halesowen says, a partnership between the peoples of Africa and ourselves.
To that end we need to increase production, and to do that we must have the help of technicians. They are in short supply here, and they are in even shorter supply in Africa. The Inter-Parliamentary Union Annual Conference, which is to be held this autumn in Washington, is to discuss how the numbers of those technicians can be increased. One of the methods of doing so is by seeing that the budgets of the national governments belonging to and supporting the Technical Assistance Board should not be on a yearly basis. At the moment it is impossible to plan ahead.
We not only say we will pay, but do pay. There are countries who say they will pay and pay very late, and there are other countries who do not bother to pay at all or even say that they will do so. 2343 That fact must be accepted. If only we can increase the number of technicians both in agriculture and industry, how much will be achieved to improve the standard of living of the peoples in the undeveloped areas. Unless we further increase production, the forecast of the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) will come true, and the population will catch up with the increased production.
I suggest that the Secretary of State should look into the question of land tenure. He should continue—as he has already done in his speech this afternoon—to lay great stress on the importance of teaching the native husbander to create more agricultural wealth. Is not it possible to make a film of the great development in the Cameroons Development Corporation, or even of the Gezeira scheme in the Sudan? That co-operative effort should be applied all over West Africa, where land can lie fallow for up to nine years, and where no proper plan exists to deal with the matter. We want to give a lead in showing what should be grown or what should be produced.
I believe that can be done. Even now there is production in the hinterland of that country which should be brought to the markets of the world for the benefit of all the producers, if only our communications were better. In Lagos harbour, awaiting a berth, one can see five or six ships at a time, costing £500 per ship per day. Is it surprising that the cost of living remains so high? That job must be tackled, as must the question of international communications. Very little liaison takes place between the various so-called African Powers. There are rivers in Africa on which no money has been spent because the frontier runs down them. Here, surely, is a possibility for the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to get together for the benefit of the Atlantic community as a whole.
I hope that the United States, with her vast production, who have so generously given aid in the past, will consider long-term capital investment at low rates of interest. I believe that could be done, and it might be easier for her to do that than to accept our plea of trade rather than aid. If she does it, we can join together with our 2344 partners in Western Europe, with America and with Africa, in a long-term partnership of land, labour and of capital to the mutual benefit of all concerned—and what an answer that would be to the Communist beliefs.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) speak about the need for continuity in the budgets of the United Nations Technical Assistance Programme. I want to come to that point a little later and to ask some questions about it. Meanwhile, I find that the great difference which I have with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies and most hon. Members opposite is that on the whole they tend to believe that the great work of fighting the battle against world poverty is work which has to be carried on through, by and under the direction of private enterprise and big business. The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech concerned the making of opportunities by which private enterprise might do the work. I believe that this battle cannot be fought mainly on the basis of investment.
§ Mr. Braine
The assertion which the hon. Baronet has made is entirely inaccurate, not only in the light of what the Secretary of State said earlier today when he outlined in considerable detail what was being done to assist the colonial peoples through the medium of colonial development and welfare, as well as by other means, but also in the light of the views held by many hon. Members on these benches who would be able to put their views if some hon. Members opposite would be briefer.
§ Sir R. Acland
I would be much briefer if the hon. Gentleman did not interrupt. At any rate, from the speech of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Sir H. Roper), it appears that there is at least one hon. Member opposite who believes that the whole problem is one of creating conditions for private capital to flourish with lower wages, few hospitals, low taxation, no nationalism and all the rest. Let the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) read the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North. I did not intend to be drawn into this controversy, because my belief 2345 is that the battle against world poverty can be fought and won only as an international operation and that the financing of this operation will look much less like the financing of a typical business enterprise than like the financing of a war. This is, in fact, a war on poverty.
I want to join with my right hon. and hon. Friends who have called attention to the United Nations Expanded Programme for Technical Assistance and to ask one or two questions about it. We have had good news about this programme today from Moscow. It was the first indication of the answer to the question which the whole world has asked—whether the removal of Mr. Beria will lead the Soviet Union to be more forthcoming or more cagey. As far as it has gone—and it is the only outward indication we have had since that great internal event—one can take it as being more forthcoming. I hope it will be welcomed with open arms by all of us and that we shall see to it that Russian experts are soon widely scattered over the world to give advice on technical problems.
If a Russian technician should go into the Gold Coast before this time next year, the risk that he may teach the Ashantis a little about Communism is well worth running compared with the chance of the Russian learning something about freedom. I think there should be a word of thanks offered to my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), who, in the interviews with leading Russian statesmen, which he obtained through his very great personal initiative and enterprise, was able to say to them how important it would be if they made a contribution to this work.
It is a little known fact that the important work, developed under the Expanded Technical Assistance Programme, is now in danger of disintegrating because the expected and natural increase in the scale of the operations is not being matched by a comparable increase in financial resources. I should like to give figures to show this. In the first period of 18 months to December, 1951, the budget of the programme was 20 million dollars, and 20 million dollars was paid. Only 6½ million dollars was spent in that period because the programme was getting into gear. The British contribution was 10.3 per cent. of the whole. In the second period, which was shorter, 2346 the year 1952, the budget was again 20 million dollars, but as the work was getting under way 23 million dollars were spent and only 18 million dollars were received. The British contribtion fell to 6.3 per cent. of the whole.
In December, 1952, we fixed the budget for the third period, 1953, at 25 million dollars. That was not enough. The fixed budget was not enough because on 17th May there was a report, No. E24,150 of the United Nations, by the operating heads of the Agencies concerned and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in which they showed that the practical proposals and requests coming from the Governments of under-developed countries would require for 1953 the sum of 43 million dollars to finance them, and the budget was for only 25 million. The money actually promised was only 21 million, and the British contribution once again fell to 5.6 per cent. of the budget. Someone says, no, but that is true. It rose from £450,000 to £500,000, but that represented a fall from 6.3 per cent. to 5.6 per cent.; relative to the budget the British contribution for the third time went down.
Now what has happened? I had the advantage of meeting Mr. Hugh Keenley-side last week. He is the director of that part of the programme which is administered, not under one of the Specialised Agencies, but under the United Nations itself. It deals mainly with requests for technical advice about improving the efficiency of governmental administrative services, than which there could be nothing more important for these countries. He says he is currently having to turn down three out of four of the requests that he receives.
The F.A.O. position is similar. Of the requests that came in up to the end of 1952 four-tenths have had to be turned down and cannot be fulfilled in 1953. Of the requests that are coming in now to the F.A.O. almost all will have to be turned down and will not be fulfilled in 1954 unless there is a remarkable change in the availability of finance in order to put a stable financial foundation under this vital work.
The United Nations Association meeting last weekend passed a resolution urging the Government to contribute a further £450,000 to this year's budget and to make a promise of a firm £950,000 for each of the next five years. That is a 2347 request put forward by a non-party and very authoritative organisation. What defence has been offered at different times for reducing the British contribution from 10.3 per cent. first to 6.3 per cent. and then to 5.6 per cent. of this budget?
Some have said. "Look how generous we are to other departments of the United Nations budget." That answer will not do, because our contributions to other parts of the United Nations budget are not contributions which are volunteered. We are assessed by an international committee of which we ourselves are members, and assessed on a means test basis. The assessment varies slightly from year to year, but I think I am right in saying that this year we have been internationally assessed to contribute a figure I have mentioned already of 10.3 per cent. of the United Nations general budget. If 103 per cent. is our share of that why is it fair for us to pay only 56 per cent. on the Expanding Technical Assistance Programme budget?
Then again, it is said that we cannot be expected to be very generous towards Technical Assistance because of what we do under the Colombo Plan. By far the greater part of what we do under the Colombo Plan is to repay our war debts at half the rate we were repaying them before the plan came into operation.
§ Sir R. Acland
It is perfectly true, of course, that we did offer £2¾ million of new money for Technical Assistance to be spent within a three-year period—the three-year period which ends 16 days from tonight. Seventeen days ago we had spent only one-tenth of that sum. What went wrong? Cannot we get the experts, cannot we get the requests for assistance lined up? I do not know, but perhaps we can have an answer.
However it may be, we end up with this paradoxical situation. On the Colombo side of technical assistance, we have money offered, and for some reason no action; on the United Nations side of technical assistance working very largely in the same area, and at the same time, they are all lined up ready for action and they have not the money. That 2348 seems to me a paradox which ought to be put right.
What would we think of the Dutch if they told us that they could not be expected to contribute very much to international projects because of the wonderful things they are doing for Dutch Guiana. Would we think that a good excuse? Forgive my cosmopolitanism in these days of narrow nationalism, including narrow British nationalism, but the fact is that in this work of fighting world poverty international action is more important than action which is undertaken by one country direct to another. We can all see and feel why it is that unilateral American economic aid is somewhat distrusted in countries like Indonesia or Burma. Cannot we have enough humility to realise that perhaps our own unilateral action may not be quite so welcome among some of the underdeveloped countries as international action would be?
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
Would the hon. Gentleman tell the House some of the great things which the British people have done to help the economy of these countries in the last 100 years—India, Burma, China, Africa, and the West Indies?
§ Sir R. Acland
No nation can ever live in the present and future by eternally asking to be given a gratitude for what it has or has not done in the past.
The plain fact is we can go and ask any citizen of any of the underdeveloped countries and we will be told, as I have been told time and again, that the technical aid offered on an international basis is acceptable without the least element of suspicion whereas anything coming unilaterally from America, or wherever it may be, is always open to that element of doubt.
There are other things I should like to say, but for the sake of brevity I will leave them aside in order to end with three questions which I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to deal with, and which I have put to him in advance in a letter to his right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. At the Conference of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, which is currently sitting, what will be our attitude to the Report which will then be seriously 2349 debated called the Report on the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development, E 2381. That puts the proposal that there should be established a fund of at least 250 million dollars for carrying out capital works of a nonprofit-making kind. If we say that, alas, because of our present armament burden, we cannot contribute very much to such a fund at the present time, shall we make it clear that it is our opinion that every step should be taken in preparation for establishing that fund in case, as is already beginning to happen in the United States, world expenditure on armaments turns downwards?
At the September meeting of the United Nations Negotiating Committee for Extra-Budgetary Funds, at which next year's budget for the United Nations extended programme will be determined, what attitude shall we take? Shall we again participate with those who will try to hold the budget down to around the $20 or $25 million mark where it is running now, or shall we say that, as there are at least 40 million to 50 million dollars' worth of practical projects coming forward, the budget ought to be fixed somewhere between those two figures?
Lastly, in October or November, when the pledging conference comes along for the nations to pledge their contributions to the United Nations programme, shall we then give at least the 10.3 per cent. of the budget which, by the assessment of an international committee, appears to be our fair share of any work that is internationally done?
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Wakefield (Derbyshire, West)
I hope that the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) will forgive me if I do not follow his points, but time is short and I want to go directly to my principal theme.
The whole Committee probably agree that over a large part of the world there is a lamentable degree of poverty and misery. We no longer have direct responsibility for a large part of Asia, but we have responsibility for a considerable part of Africa. It may be worth considering for a moment how we discharged our task when, for a century and a half, we were responsible for the administration of India. Our responsibility ended in August, 1947. Was there still poverty 2350 in India then? Yes. Was there still starvation? Yes. Was there still ignorance? Yes. A vast mass of illiteracy, superstition and cruel social custom still survived after 150 years of British administration.
That would seem to be a somewhat shameful thing, but how did it come about? I am sure it was not the result of exploitation by the West, as some people suggest. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) put his finger on the spot when he said that population has continually been out-growing the increase in food production. In the last 30 years alone the population of the Indian sub-continent has increased by about 100 million souls.
When we ask ourselves how it is that that increase has taken place, history very quickly gives us the answer. In the course of their administration, the British eliminated, one after another, the principal checks on population. They eliminated the factors which prevent population rising; in the first place, some of the social customs. We stopped suttee, the custom by which a Hindu widow threw herself on the funeral pyre when her husband died. I sometimes wonder whether we were right to do so. Now Hindu widows go on living, but they are not allowed to remarry. Only too often a girl of 15, married to a man of 65, finds herself a widow at the age of 20, and for the rest of her life she lives secluded and half starved. But suttee has now been abolished and that may be one of the reasons there has been such a tremendous increase in the growth of population.
That growth, of course, is also due to the relatively wide suppression of female infanticide. In peasant communities in India females are not wanted in the family, partly because they do not contribute to the agricultural work and partly because when it comes to a question of their being married, they have to be provided with a dowry which their parents cannot afford. So what happened was that the female child would be exposed, as used to happen once in Europe. Indeed it was quite a common practice in Rajputana and the Punjab to place the child beside a creek where crocodiles lived, and in the morning it had gone.
Another thing the British stopped, or at least reduced, was famine. I do not know 2351 whether everybody in the Committee realises that some part of the Indian subcontinent is subject to famine almost every year. One hundred years ago people in the area affected died, but as the result of the growth of communications it became possible to move foodstufls to the affected area. As a result of the growth of communications there has ceased to be mortality from famine.
Thirdly, the growth of medical knowledge has prevented the spread of epidemics. Ten years ago I myself was in the middle of a plague-stricken area and the rats were dying by the hundreds, which was a sign that bubonic plague was raging; but because of the measures of inoculation which were taken, not more than half a dozen people died. Fifty years ago not half a dozen but half a million would have died from that plague.
So we have the paradoxical situation that a century and a half of efficient and humane administration has resulted in, not 100 million being miserable, but 400 million people being miserable; and this is a paradox which it is difficult to resolve. Writing 150 years ago Malthus said:… the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.Here is a difficult economic and political problem, and in the few minutes I have left there is little time to explore it. Perhaps, however, I may be permitted to refer to an article which a modern economist wrote on this subject a few months ago. Professor Arthur Lewis has already been referred to in this debate. I cannot quote him at length but he does make the point, with which I am sure we all agree, that to raise agricultural yields per acre all over the world must be one of the major objectives of the next half-century. He adds:One fear which inhibits us from tackling this problem is the old Malthusian fear that it is insoluble.He goes on to say that he considers this to be a groundless fear because, even if the world's population is increasing by one per cent., we can increase agricultural production by more than one per cent. and so keep production going faster than 2352 population. Then come challenging words:The best way to reduce the rate of growth of population is to increase production even faster. As the standard of living rises, the birth rate falls. Hence the solution of all the problems is to increase agricultural output by between two and three per cent. per annum.I wish I thought that that was the correct solution, but the Professor makes an assumption which, although western minds might accept it, anyone with knowledge of the East might hesitate to do so. He says, "As the standard of living rises, the birth rate falls." That is true, no doubt, of European countries, but I do not believe that it is true of Africa. Sir Philip Mitchell certainly does not think so because, in his famous despatch of November, 1951, referring to the rapid growth of the African population, he says:The reason for this increase is undoubtedly the removal, under British rule, of the population checks which normally operate in a primitive society, such as tribal warfare, famine, pestilence, infanticide due to superstitution, etc., and to the steady improvement in the standard of living which has influenced in particular the survival rate both in infants and aged people.In other words, he asserts that a rising standard of living is one of the causes of the increase in population. If Sir Philip Mitchell is right, Professor Arthur Lewis is wrong in supposing that in Africa the birth rate will fall as the standard of living rises.
I have no time to tell the Committee, as I should have liked, of some of my own experiences in India where the more eminent a man is the larger the number of his wives and the greater the number of his children. On one occasion the ruler of a large State died, leaving a considerable number of mahareenees and children. The new maharajah was so pestered by claims for pensions by his father's wives and for grants of land by the children that he went to the Viceroy and asked him to sort it out. I was deputed to do this task. I cannot tell the Committee of all the troubles I had, but, in the end, I had to classify the mahareenees into three categories—those who were genuinely married, those who mistakenly thought they had been genuinely married, and those who did not even think they had been genuinely married. The number in class A was 2353 three, the number in class B was 14 and the number in class C was 53; and there were 183 children who had to be provided for.
However, I have reached the limit of my time and I do not want to end on a facetious note because this is a matter of desperate solemnity. The logical conclusion of my argument should be that we ought to abandon any hope of improving living conditions in Africa and Asia because the moment we increase food supplies, that growth is immediately absorbed by the increase in population. But, of course, that is a deplorable conclusion, even if it is logical, and would be offensive to the conscience of all of us. Perhaps there is an alternative answer. If there is, I think it is to be found in education; education in the techniques of agriculture, education in new forms of production, in forestry, horticulture, and so on. Above all, education away from superstition, even if it is called religion, and away from cruel and evil social customs.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
This debate and many of the eloquent and able speeches that have been made have left me remembering what Abraham Lincoln said long ago:This Government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free.I believe that our civilisation cannot permanently endure if half our fellow men are slaves to hunger, poverty, ignorance and disease.
About 400 million people in 20 countries live in relative comfort. They have doubled their expectation of life in the last two or three generations. But in many countries which we call underdeveloped the expectation of life is still under 30 years. The people suffer from diseases which often kill and often cripple. Those diseases and malnutrition make large numbers of the population incapable of productive work. Two-thirds of the people or more live on the land, and a United Nations report described their precarious existence.Millions of people "—it said—of under-developed countries are dressed in rags, literally sleeping on the ground, hauling their daily water in heavy clay pots, and tilling and harvesting their crops with only a hoe and a sickle.2354 The average output per person in agriculture in those areas is less than one-tenth of what it is in the advanced countries. The results in industry and transport are no better.
The average diet in Britain and the United States is 3,000 calories a day. In many of these countries it is 1,600, and 1,800 is regarded as the minimum required for a healthy life. In Britain there is almost no illiteracy, in the United States 4 per cent. in Egypt 85 per cent., and in India 90 per cent. Infantile mortality in Britain is 32 per thousand, in India 150, in Egypt 170, and in many countries it is even more than that.
Far too much of this poverty and hardship is in countries which are still, or recently have been, British Colonies or Dominions. The Colonial Secretary told us—I do not complain; I am grateful—of the progress in economic development that had been made before the war; that £85 million worth of copper now comes from Northern Rhodesia and that the income of the budget of the Kenya Government was £130,000 in 1902 and £35 million last year. And yet we have the Mitchell Report, which the right hon. Gentleman published a few months ago, which describes the desperate land hunger and the desperate poverty of the Africans due to the low wage economy which Sir Philip Mitchell denounced.
Great wealth has been produced, but the peoples, alas, remain desperately poor. That was why the Labour Government set up the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund in 1945.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Let me say, in the cause of accuracy, that it was actually introduced by the late Mr. Oliver Stanley.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Yes; and I honoured Mr. Stanley for doing it, and I honoured the whole attitude which he took in these important matters.
That was why we set up the Colonial Development Corporation in 1948 and why we helped in making the Colombo Plan in 1950. It is for precisely the same reasons that we have always supported proposals in the United Nations for what is now called the Expanded Programme 2355 of Technical Assistance to help to develop the untapped resources of these underdeveloped countries.
As the Secretary of State has very rightly said, this is one world problem, and help from any quarter must be welcomed.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
While our duty to the Colonies and the Commonwealth, of course, is clear, our duty to the other under-developed countries is hardly less. Our interest in the success of all these ventures is the same, and it is our duty and our interest to give them vigorous, generous and constantly increasing financial and other practical support.
We believe on moral grounds that this ought today to be a major object of our national policy. We believe that on political grounds the case is just as strong. I cannot accept the view of the right hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Law). We are making great efforts and sacrifices to repair the disasters of two world wars and to build up a peaceful and free international society. We cannot do that by arms alone. We must do it by building up liberty and freedom, in the words of the Atlantic Charter, freedom from fear and want for all the men in all lands. Poverty, hunger, ignorance and disease are the Kremlin's fifth column—far more dangerous than the Communist parties which they pay and organise in their Cominform.
For us in this country the economic argument, as I think the Secretary of State agrees, is really more important still. We must buy abroad £1,000 million worth of food every year and £1,000 million worth of raw materials. We can only pay for them with our exports, but for more than 15 years, with temporary fluctuations, the terms of trade have been turning against us. It is vital to us that the world supplies of food and raw materials should be increased. In the long run, only by such an increase can we hold or improve the present terms of trade. It is only by increasing the output and the wealth—the purchasing power—of the under-developed countries that we can certainly ensure the expansion of our export trade. We are not yet quite sure we can avoid world slumps with resultant mass unemployment. A Report by a 2356 Committee of U.N. economic experts said in 1949:The problem of full employment cannot be solved except in the context of an expanding world economy of which the economic development of the under-developed countries would form the most important single element.Ministers and others sometimes warn us about the dangers of industrial competition from Germany and Japan. Everybody knows that if Germany and Japan are to become peace-loving democracies, their people must live by exporting manufactured goods. The answer is plain. We must increase the world demand for manufactured goods. We must build up the production of the poverty-stricken peoples in order that they can buy what they so much need and what we, Germany and Japan produce. Every success with our Colonial development and welfare schemes helps us to that end. So does every success of the economic work of the United Nations.
This U.N. work has other advantages. We pay a smaller proportion of the cost. If the supplies of food and raw materials are increased, and the world demand for manufactured goods is increased, we get the same advantage. We are still in grave danger from the dollar gap between the sterling area and the dollar world. The United States pay so high a proportion for this U.N. economic work, the purpose of which is to develop production in the non-dollar world, that both in the short-term and in the long-term it helps us in this vital matter. The dollar gap is really only the monetary evidence of a very dangerous basic economic fact, that we are still dangerously dependent upon North America for a large proportion of vital food supplies. If there were to be again a series of droughts in the Middle West, as there were in the 1930's, it might mean disaster to us. The expansion of food production in the under-developed countries is by far the best insurance we can make.
In some parts of the United Nations work we actually get a net gain on our balance of payments. Under the Technical Assistance scheme I believe it is true that we have supplied so many experts from the United Kingdom, so many people have been brought to this country and trained, that the payment from the fund which will reach us 2357 and our nationals in 1952 would total 3 million dollars against the 1¼ million we subscribed. There is the further fact that wherever British experts go, demands for British machines may follow. The United States very generously used the Boxer indemnity to give scholarships in American universities to Chinese students. As a result the United States secured trade in China which repaid their generosity more than a hundredfold.
There is one last vitally important advantage of the United Nations economic work upon which I insist, because I hope the Government will tell us that they will give it more support. It is that these Agencies of the United Nations bring right home to the common peoples of the world the fact that the United Nations exists and that it is co-operating for the common good. As it succeeds, and it is succeeding, this work is building up the authority and prestige of the United Nations upon which, in the end, our hope of a lasting peace depends. For all these reasons we urge on the Government—and I say it again—that their support of this total war on world poverty should be vigorous and generous, and not only sustained but constantly increased.
Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have dealt at length with the Colonial aspect of the problem to which I wish to make a brief reference. I understood from a recent statement by the Colonial Secretary that the Government consider the London money market will not always be able to provide Colonial loans. For that reason they are referring Colonial Governments to the International Bank, and they have increased by £50 million the sterling loans by the International Bank which they will guarantee. I think that £50 million is a modest sum compared with the needs of the Commonwealth as they have been described by the Colonial Secretary. In view of the great caution of the International Bank and the small risk attaching to such a guarantee, I think that the sum might reasonably have been much more. I hope the Minister will study a U.N. Report, published I think in 1951, on how to increase the total resources of the International Bank.
I was not convinced by what the Secretary of State said about the Colonial Development Corporation. The main purpose of the Corporation may well be 2358 thwarted if in everything they do they must act on a strictly commercial basis. In their last Report the Corporation say that that would meanthe virtual exclusion of some types of desirable development.We should remember what the Colonial Secretary said about agriculture when we consider what the Corporation go on to say:the chief casualty is likely to be agricultural settlement schemes.The Corporation urge that theyshould be able to finance projects that are of great value, but unlikely to be profitable; that such investments should be separately recorded in the accounts, and their results judged on other than a profit basis.I hope we shall hear the views of the Government on this matter. I believe that the usefulness of the Corporation may well be crippled if this policy is applied. It may do great damage to progressive development in the Colonies. I should like to know if it is true that the Corporation is restricted to projects which will bring in a certain annual return of 8 per cent. If that is so I regard it as indeed lamentable.
In the last Report it seemed that the Colombo Plan was going forward at least as well as we hoped that it would when we discussed it in Colombo in January, 1950. Indeed, remembering those discussions, its success up to last year was quite as great as we could have hoped. Other nations outside the Commonwealth have now come in. But it still needs great drive, great imagination and, it may be, sacrifices on our part. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us something about what has happened in the last 12 months. I would add that we cannot do too much to develop our work for the Colonies and the Commonwealth through the three Agencies of which I have spoken.
I turn now to the work of the United Nations which must in the long run inevitably become the major instrument in our total war on world hunger and poverty. That work is carried on through various agencies in various ways, but it constitutes, broadly speaking, a well co-ordinated whole. On most of it, the Government could now do a great deal more.
Let me start with the earliest and perhaps the most successful Agency of all. I mean U.N.I.C.E.F.—the United Nations 2359 International Children's Emergency Fund. The Labour Government played a major part in setting it up. I say at once that I wish that we had given more generous financial support. But now in 1953 U.N.I.C.E.F. has proved itself. It has proved that the work it starts for children—maternity clinics, child feeding, school meals, milk supply and the prevention of dangerous diseases—does not fade away but is carried on, once it is established, by the Governments of the countries.
It has firmly established the principle of "matching"—the principle that the receiving Government must spend at least an equal sum to that which is spent by the Fund itself. In fact, last year U.N.I.C.E.F. allocated in all £5,300,000 and the receiving Governments "matched" that with £8,250,000. U.N.I.C.E.F. in conjunction with the World Health Organisation is doing a great deal to get rid of those diseases, yaws, malaria, tuberculosis—which leave the community with a large number of unproductive people. They have saved several million children who suffered from yaws, which leaves them to grow up crippled and helpless through the rest of their lives.
Three questions about U.N.I.C.E.F. must be settled in the coming months. Shall it go on beyond this year? Shall its mandate, if renewed, be limited to a short period of time? What shall Britain's contribution be? I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us that the Government will press for U.N.I.C.E.F. to go on without a limited mandate of a small number of years and that they will greatly increase the contribution they give. At present it is a contribution of £100,000. We are the ninth in the list of contributors. On the basis of contribution per head of population, we are twenty-sixth. To the general budget of the United Nations we pay 103 per cent. To U.N.I.C.E.F. we have paid 1 per cent. of the total Government contributions. I hope that the Government will say that they will do better than that.
I wish to say a few words about refugees. This matter is now largely dealt with by the International Committee for European Migration at Geneva. Nothing could so certainly increase world production, nothing could so certainly reduce 2360 the dollar gap, nothing could so powerfully promote the prospects of peace in Europe as the movement of able unemployed refugees from Europe overseas. This year the Committee in Geneva will transport 120,000 refugees to overseas destinations. It could be more if there were more funds. We used to play a large part in I.R.O. We have not even joined the present committee. It is no policy for a great Power to be absent from such work. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us that we mean to join.
Last November, the Government proposed and carried by a small majority a cut in the budget of U.N.E.S.C.O. Some people criticised the work of U.N.E.S.C.O. in its early days, but it has a record of achievement. Mr. Eugene Black, the chairman of the International Bank, is a hard-headed business man who travels the world examining development schemes for which he hopes to make Bank loans, and the Bank have actually lent over £600 million, largely to underdeveloped countries. Mr. Black has said that the amount might have been much more but for the fact that illiteracy and ill-health hold up development in many ways. U.N.E.S.C.O. have begun a worldwide campaign against illiteracy, in which the late Director-General, M. Torres Bodet, had a wonderful record in his own country of Mexico.
It is vital to the good administration of which the Secretary of State spoke that, in these areas, illiteracy should be decreased. But the campaign has been seriously menaced and M. Torres Bodet driven to resign by the cut in the budget proposed last November by the Minister of Education. I hope that the Government are going to tell us that that cut will be restored, if necessary through an increased allocation from the Technical Assistance Fund.
I turn now to deal with that Fund itself and the extended programme of which some of my hon. Friends have spoken. My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) gave an explanation of how the Fund was started in 1949, and how we hoped that year by year it would increase. In fact, if funds had been available, it could have allocated at least 35 million—some people say 44 million—dollars to sound productive schemes in 1953. In 1954, the 2361 total ought to be at least 45 or 50 million dollars.
When the programme was started, we hoped it would grow from year to year, and such is the confidence and enthusiasm of the under-developed countries that it could almost certainly have done so. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend shows, our contribution has lamentably decreased. From 10 per cent. of the target in the first period, it dropped to 6 per cent. in the second and to 5.6 per cent. in the third. That has had a very discouraging effect on the other Governments, as it always must when a great and liberal Power like Britain takes such a line, and I therefore hope that the Government will recognise that the disastrous results of refusing these requests from the Governments concerned makes it urgently necessary to increase the Fund.
Let me now say a word about the results as they are shown in the work of one of the co-operating agencies—F.A.O., which is one of the most successful. F.A.O. has shown that very good results can be obtained in agricultural work without great capital sums. The Secretary of State said that there were three ways of increasing food supplies—by reducing the loss of food due to insect and other pests and to animal and plant diseases; by raising the productivity of the land actually already under cultivation; and by increasing the acreage which is farmed.
F.A.O. has calculated that 10 per cent. of world food supplies is lost by pests, and the Minister of Agriculture told me in an answer to a Question a little while ago that, in this country, rats still destroyed 2 million tons of food a year, equivalent to the work of 50,000 farm workers. In Egypt, experts have told me that the fellahin have no proper storehouses, but put their crops on the ground, covering them with a cloth or tarpaulin, and that insects account for 50 or 60 per cent. of losses. By very simple measures, without great capital expenditure, big results can be obtained and F.A.O. have begun upon that work. They are fighting animal diseases. They have wiped out rinderpest in Thailand, and they have started campaigns in Iran, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
They have done a lot to increase the output from existing farmland. They 2362 teach peasants, as the Secretary of State said, quite simple improvements in farming methods which greatly increase the crop. They have trebled the output of cotton in Afghanistan by teaching the Afghans very simple techniques. They have supplied a new hybrid rice seed which in Southern Europe, in the first trial period, increased output by nearly 250,000 tons. They have succeeded even better with a new hybrid maize. They have started factories for making fertilisers, and fisheries to increase the protein supplies. They have helped Ceylon and many other countries with water engineers to develop their irrigation schemes.
But the shortage of funds has meant that F.A.O. have had to turn down a large number of urgent development schemes. In British Guiana they have had to turn down a scheme for developing sea fishing, fresh water fish culture and fish processing; in British Honduras, which is very suitable for livestock, a scheme to combat animal diseases and to improve the breeding; in Ceylon a scheme for animal husbandry and pasture management; in India a scheme for processing perishable food and for increasing timber supplies; in Pakistan a big scheme for improving fishing, and in lordan a scheme to combat soil erosion.
In all these places the Commonwealth loses directly and indirectly by the rejection or postponement of these schemes. So it does by every curtailment of this United Nations Technical Assistance. It may surprise some hon. Members—I do not think that it has been mentioned in this debate—to know that even in the Colombo Plan area, South and South-East Asia, in whose prosperity we have a vital interest, the Colombo Council have 135 experts at work whilst the United Nations, under the Technical Assistance Board, have over 500. There is no rivalry but the fullest and most cordial co-operation in every way.
The Government must send a delegate to a Technical Assistance Pledging Conference in October this year. I hope that they do everything in their power to multiply and strengthen this work. I hope that they will promise at least to double what they have given this year. I hope that they will give pledges for three years ahead. Like the CD. and W. and the C.D.C. the Board cannot do 2363 their work properly if they depend for funds year by year. I hope that the Government will also press for ever closer co-ordination of the United Nations Agencies in all this work.
Finally, I want to support the plea, made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) in his very able and eloquent speech, for the new proposal which is being discussed this week in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in Geneva. This is the proposal for a Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development to carry out schemes of capital investment which are vital to the increased production of wealth in all under-developed countries, schemes which will certainly give a big social return but may not show a commercial profit.
This proposal is to do exactly what the Colonial Development Corporation said in their last Report they thought they should be allowed to do. The scheme is only to start if 30 countries will join in promising a 250 million dollars total Fund distributed among them for an initial period of two years. This new Fund, this world authority, is the next indispensable and, I believe, inevitable step in our total war on poverty.
Some day we shall get disarmament. We shall not get it by the increase of good will, leading to the spontaneous decline of armaments; that is unrealistic and wishful thinking. But some day we shall be forced, for our safety, to get disarmament by a general treaty for armament reduction, under stringent international control. When we get it, we can then make the large-scale switch from war industry to the peaceful economic development and expansion of which we dream. But we shall not be able to do it when disarmament comes; we shall not have the experts and the other lesser technicians—the foremen, craftsmen, mechanics and skilled farmers—unless we very quickly expand Technical Assistance and set up this new Special Fund.
I ask the Under-Secretary of State for a positive answer to all the questions I have raised. I ask him to tell us that the Government will let the C.D.C. do what they want; that they will increase 2364 the resources of the International Bank; that they are pressing forward with the Colombo Plan; that they will maintain the United Nations Children's Fund; that they will join the Refugee Committee; that they will increase their contributions to Technical Assistance, and that they will support the creation of this new world authority and its Special Fund.
I insist, again—the right hon. Member for Haltemprice is entirely wrong. This is defence expenditure. The success of this work will help immensely to reduce the risk of war. If the Government were to double every sum which they now pay to the United Nations and its Agencies it would only come to half of 1 per cent. of what we spend on arms. If the Government will answer yes to this, our very urgent plea, this Committee will have done a good day's work.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) has certainly given me a long catalogue of questions to answer, as have those who have spoken before him in this debate. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, in opening the debate, said that I, in winding up, would deal with the United Nations Agencies and the Colombo Plan, which is, indeed, a vast enough topic to cover in any debate. I undertake that those points which have not already been heard and marked by my right hon. Friend and the Minister of State for the Colonies, on the colonial aspects of this debate, will be drawn to their attention. I shall concentrate on the United Nations Agencies and the Colombo Plan.
This whole story of world development and expansion of resources is too enthralling to be spoilt by too many figures, but I am afraid I cannot answer the questions which have been put to me without giving a good many figures this evening, the more so because so many of my questioners, notably the right hon. Member for Derby, South, have suggested that the figures for the British contribution to the United Nations Agencies and to world development should be a great deal higher.
Let me begin by saying that I would not for a moment quarrel with the spirit and purpose which the right hon. Member's 2365 speech showed. As he said, expenditure of this kind is another form of defence expenditure—defence against Communism and against the things that breed and foster Communism—but I would rather agree with the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that that is not all we are concerned with. I go further and say that it is not only defence expenditure that we are considering tonight, but a challenge to our British sense of responsibility to other peoples. In short, it is a challenge to Britain as a leading world Power.
I agree—and I think the whole Committee agree—that it is essential that we should play our part in world development, and that that part should be a leading one. The Colonial Secretary's speech shows that we are certainly fulfilling that role in the Colonies, and I hope that I shall be able to show, equally, that we have nothing to be ashamed of, and a great deal to be proud of, in the way we have helped to develop and uplift the peoples in backward areas outside the Colonial Empire.
The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) certainly held this view when he spoke of the way in which we had given so much help, so much of it taken for granted, in a speech which I thought was full of realism. The right hon. Member for Easington asked me whether we were aware of the seriousness of the position of the under-developed countries and whether we were satisfied with progress. The answer to the first question is, "Yes," and the answer to the second question is that we are not satisfied that what has been done so far is enough, but we, for our part, are doing all we can.
Let us see how we compare with the other members of the United Nations on the list of contributors—and here I must weary the Committee with some figures. Our total contribution since 1945 to the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies places us second only to the United States and represents between 11 and 12 per cent. of all the contributions made. During the two financial years for which the present Government have been responsible, our contribution has been over £17 million. Our place in the list of contributors is again second and the percentage of the total is again of the order of 11 or 12 per cent.
2366 Added to that is our contribution to colonial development and to the Colombo Plan, and, over the past four years, regrettably, owing to the menace of increasing international tension, since 1948 a programme of defence expenditure many times greater than we have ever been called upon to bear in time of peace. That is what we have to bear as a nation to discharge our international responsibilities both in the field of defence and in the field of development.
This brings me immediately to the question whether we could do more for these Agencies and for other non-United Nations schemes for world development. For the moment—that is, for this financial year—I regret to have to say that the answer is that we cannot. The Colonial Secretary reminded the Committee that we cannot invest a deficit. Happily, what was formerly a deficit on our international account has been translated into a surplus. Our financial position is a lot healthier than it was when the present Government took over in the crisis of October, 1951, but it is not yet sufficiently stable or elastic to enable us to do more this year. We hope, of course, that it will improve still further and that next year and in the years to come we shall have better news for those who have spoken in the debate.
Before I leave the general issues and deal with specific questions which have been raised, I must answer one further general question: Are the under-developed territories suffering or likely to suffer because we cannot give more for their development? Undoubtedly, some projects have had to be or will have to be postponed. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned two. I would emphasise that the word is "postponed," not "abandoned." They will have to be postponed because of lack of funds, but it would not be true to say that the number of postponements will necessarily be in direct ratio to the short-fall in funds.
By more prudent spending, by cutting out waste and frills and, above all, by reducing the overheads—these tremendous overheads which result from the need for co-ordination between all these various Agencies, all doing very much the same type of work—it should be possible to save some, although not all, of the projects which at first sight may seem threatened with postponement.
2367 Let me turn to specific questions which have been raised and, first of all, the question which has dominated this debate—the Technical Assistance Programme. Perhaps I may first say a word about what the Technical Assistance Programme actually does, because there is some misconception of its functions in the minds of people outside the House. It is not, of course, a development agency. It is not of itself an operational unit, though it provides funds for other Agencies such as the F.A.O. and the World Health Organisation. It is the schoolroom and not the engineroom of world development. It does not itself operate the bulldozer but teaches people how to operate it by promoting technical education and knowledge in under-developed countries by schemes whereby fellowships are granted by certain of the contributing nations to enable those who do the developing in under-developed countries to come over and learn their stuff.
The fellows who are sent to this country are catered for by the British Council and go to universities and technical colleges where they either learn technical knowledge and skill or study, as some of them do, for by no means all of them are pure technicians, such subjects as public and health administration. At the same time the Technical Assistance Programme provides experts who teach in the under-developed countries themselves.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington mentioned the need for quality, quality in particular amongst those experts. I entirely agree with his view. The experts are selected in this country by a special department in the Ministry of Labour set up for this very purpose. This department consults industry, and, of course, does its best through consultation with industry to get top-class men to go out and do the job. That shows how seriously we take the need for our contribution to this Technical Assistance Programme.
What have we done in terms of money? In the first period of 18 months from July, 1950, to December, 1951, we contributed £760,000; in the second period of 12 months in 1952, £450,000, a reduction at an annual rate of £50,000 or about 10 per cent. This reduction has now been made up by our contribution 2368 for the 12 months of 1953 at the previous annual rate of £500,000.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington said that this still represented a substantial cut because the percentage of the total contribution which represented our contribution was less than it was in the first 18 months. I admit that on a percentage assessment we are lower than we were for the first 18 months, but that is not, I would emphasise, 5.3 per cent. or 5.6 per cent. of the total contribution, but 6.6 per cent. Our contribution is 1,400,000 dollars, or £500,000, out of a total budget of 21 million dollars. I worked it out three times and got the same answer each time; it is 6.6 per cent.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
But it is 5.6 per cent. of the target, and the target was not reached largely because we reduced our percentage, and it is absurd for the Under-Secretary of State to talk about an annual rate. Of course, everybody knew that in the first 18 months we would not begin to spend the money. It was expected we would spend it at a much greater rate as time went on.
§ Mr. Nutting
The suggestion made in the debate was that our contribution represented 5.3 per cent. of the total budget. I am giving the facts, and those facts are that it represents 6.6 per cent. It is at the same annual rate as the contribution given by the late Government. As with all Agencies together, this contribution was the second largest contribution. So much for the money we have given.
What is the achievement? Throughout 1952 we supplied from this country 245 out of a total of 1,700 experts. Again, this was the second largest contribution. We received 431 out of a total of about 3,400 fellowships in this country. I regret to say that in this financial year we can do no more. Our contribution for the following year will, however, be considered in advance of the meeting of the negotiating committee, but I cannot at this stage and at this moment anticipate what our offer will be.
We shall, however, do all that we can. We shall do it because we believe in this scheme and because we wish to help it. It has already done, as the Committee is aware, some useful work in Iran, where 2369 a team of technicians and water resources experts have used aerial geography and located 50 sites for wells. Saudi Arabia now, I am told, exports packaged dates for the first time in its history as a result of expert guidance and advice given by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. An iron foundry in Pakistan has increased its production by 44 per cent. as a result of technical advice given by a United Nations mission. Young Ethiopians are now flying aeroplanes and maintaining aeroplanes on the ground as the result of help given by I.C.A.O. Another example is that penicillin laboratories have been set up in India as the result of equipment given by U.N.I.C.E.F. and expert advice from the World Health Organisation. These are illustrations of how the Technical Assistance Programme has worked in co-operation with other United Nations Specialised Agencies to give help.
§ Mr. Shinwell
We are very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for this information, but he is making a case for increased assistance of this kind because this is so important.
§ Mr. Nutting
The right hon. Gentleman should also listen to the other side of the argument, where I am making a case for Britain's own contribution.
Several hon. Members have drawn attention to the shortage of funds at the disposal of this organisation. It is true that the Programme is now short of funds and no longer short of projects, but it is a fantastic exaggeration for the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) to say that there is a danger of this Fund and Programme disintegrating altogether.
The Committee will have read this morning with pleasure that the Soviet Government have at long last decided to make a contribution to this Technical Assistance Programme of roughly one million dollars which will put them fourth on the list of contributors for this year.
§ Mr. Nutting
Four million roubles at the rate of exchange, which I am told is not a very real rate of exchange, is one million dollars. The right hon. Gentleman said that we must not lag behind the Russians. I do not know what he would call lagging behind. We 2370 are 400,000 dollars ahead of them on the Technical Assistance Programme. What is more, this is the only Specialised Agency of the United Nations to which the Russians have contributed, and this is the first time they have contributed even that. So the right hon. Gentleman cannot say to a Government and to a nation which has spent over £200 million on the United Nations Specialised Agencies that we are lagging behind the Russians when they have given one million dollars to one particular thing.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The hon. Gentleman is misrepresenting me. I admit that this was a belated gesture on the part of the Russians but, nevertheless, a very welcome one. I also pointed out that we should not, now that the Russians have made this gesture, be lagging behind, not necessarily behind the Russians, but lagging behind generally.
§ Mr. Nutting
The right hon. Gentleman puts a very different construction on the proposition he made. He will see his words in HANSARD tomorrow, and I think that he will have to realise at the breakfast table that they bear the construction which I put upon them.
Nevertheless, whatever difference there may be as to what the right hon. Gentleman said, this is welcome news that the Soviet Government have at long last taken this step since of itself this step will put up the Fund to about 22 million dollars. I say "of itself" because the Committee will also recall that certain countries, notably the United States, have a system of matching contributions. They give a certain fixed percentage of the full contribution. I hope that, as the result of this Soviet move, the net gain to the Fund will be still more, and in these circumstances the Fund should not be as short as all that. I know that some 40 million dollars worth of help has been requested from various countries, but is the figure of 40 million dollars a fair one for comparison? It would be fairer to take the figure of 25 million dollars which the Technical Assistance Board regard as the target budget for the year.
§ Sir R. Acland
But it was in May, 1953, that the operational heads of the Specialised Agencies said that it should be 43 million dollars.
§ Mr. Nutting
It has been reduced by the Technical Assistance Board to 25 million dollars. That is what they consider correct, and have the necessary equipment to get on with. Taking this figure as the comparison, the short-fall, as now reduced by the Russian contribution, should not in my opinion be disastrous, and the number of projects which will definitely have to be postponed for want of achieving the 25 million dollar figure should not be very serious.
But when we are asked to pay more to help to make up the 25 million dollar figure, I must remind the Committee that even now, after the Soviet offer, there are a large number of countries whose contributions are little more than token affairs, and some of them reap considerable benefit from the Technical Assistance Programme and from other international bodies designed to assist in development. I have a list of the countries. It would be invidious to read it, but it may interest the Committee to know that only five countries now, with Russia added, make a contribution to the Technical Assistance Programme of more than 500,000 dollars. This is out of a total of 68 contributing nations. Only 20 contribute over 100,000 dollars. Therefore, 48 are left contributing under 100,000 dollars, of which eight are persistent defaulters, and of the eight, six receive aid from the Technical Assistance Programme.
Therefore, when we are asked as a Government to give more for this Programme, I really have to remind the Committee what the other nations should, and could, do to make up the target figure of 25 million dollars, and I must also remind the Committee of the other commitments that we have undertaken for this financial year. We are spending this year £7,956,000 on the United Nations and the Specialised Agencies. This is an increase of £850,000 over last year.
In the case of U.N.K.R.A., for reconstruction in Korea, we have nearly doubled our contribution compared with the figure last year of £1,800,000. It is true that that is in fulfilment of a previous pledge, but it is British money and British taxes, and does not come out of same mysterious fund which the late Government had before they committed their successors. Then there is Jordan, to 2372 whom, outside any United Nations obligation, we have lent £950,000 in the hope that it will assist the resettlement of Arab refugees from Palestine. Our direct contribution to the United Nations has increased, as has our contribution to technical assistance under the Colombo Plan and under U.N.IC.E.F.
Now a word about the Colombo Plan. First, I should like to reply to a statement made by the right hon. Member for Easington. He took up a speech made by Sir John Sterndale Bennett, Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore, stating that Sir John had said that measures were needed to restrict consumption in order to leave more money for development. The right hon. Gentleman should have read a little further. Sir John went on to say:Suitable changes in the tax structure, stronger measures to prevent tax evasion, increases in both voluntary and compulsory saving, all come under this head. These measures throw the burden on those best able to bear it, whereas inflation throws the burden on those least able to bear it.I should have thought that those were unexceptionable sentiments.
The right hon. Gentleman chided us for our lack of generosity in merely releasing sterling balances to the tune of £255 million over six years to India, Pakistan and Ceylon. He asked if we could not give other money. We are giving other money, and I will deal with that in a moment. The release of the sterling balances was the late Government's policy, and there has been no change in that policy. This is money with which goods and services can be bought and paid for by the Governments to whom the sterling releases are made. They get goods and services with that money, and whether these are debts which we formerly owed and accrued is surely beside the point.
In addition to that we contributed to technical assistance to the tune of £2½8 million for three years, which has now been extended to six. It is true that we have only so far spent £280,000 of that sum, but we have entered into commitments estimated at £951,000, and it would be reasonable to envisage future expenditure of the order of about £550,000 in addition to that on the flow of experts to South and South-East Asia and the provision of training facilities in 2373 this country. Projects involving the supply of equipment worth some £336,000 for training and research institutes in the Colombo Plan area are under detailed examination. So a good deal more work is going ahead as the Plan unfolds, and it is a right and wise extension to expand the technical assistance scheme to be co-terminous with that of the Plan, namely 30th June, 1957.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South asked me about U.N.E.S.C.O. It is true that we did not feel able at the last meeting of U.N.E.S.C.O. to approve the budget increase to the figure which Mr Torres Bodet required, namely, something over 10 million dollars. The budget remains about eight million dollars. Our present-day contribution is about 07 per cent. less than it was a year ago. I do not think that that is a very serious matter, or is anything about which we should necessarily feel ashamed. I think it was a reasonable economy, and certainly an essential economy from the point of view of the finances of this country.
§ Mr. Nutting
I have exactly three minutes left to cover about 10 points.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me about the International Committee on European Migration. I have nothing to add to what I said to him in reply to the Adjournment debate the other day. The matter still remains open, and we shall keep it under consideration.
A word about U.N.I.C.E.F., about which the right hon. Gentleman asked me. I can assure him of this, that we shall support the indefinite continuation of U.N.I.C.E.F. I entirely share the tribute that he paid to the invaluable work which this organisation has done. That is why we, for our part, in the two years in which we have contributed to it have raised the average per annum contribution by £25,000 over that which was given by the late Government. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman thought that the late Government's contribution was 2374 on the low side. We have contributed an average of £75,000 for the two years for which we have been responsible.
Finally, a word about the resolution tabled at the meeting of the Economic Social Council in Geneva yesterday on the question of the United Nations' fund for economic development. We cannot at this stage say what Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the United Nations' proposal will be when it comes before that body, but I can say that Britain supports and approves the resolution introduced into the Economic and Social Council yesterday for submission to the United Nations General Assembly, which pledges all who support this resolution tostand ready to ask our peoples, when genuine progress has been made in internationally supervised world-wide disarmament, to devote to an international fund for development and reconstruction a portion of the savings achieved from such disarmament.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington asked me what are our views about President Eisenhower's speech on 16th April. That resolution embodies the spirit of President Eisenhower's notable speech, and entirely reflects the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the future of world development.
In conclusion, I should like to say how much I welcome this debate. It gives me an opportunity, as it did last year, to re-state the part which the Government have played and are playing in helping to develop the under-developed territories of the world. It has given the Committee an opportunity to urge upon the Government the need for the utmost generosity in these matters. I can assure the Committee that the Government share this this view. We have nothing to be ashamed of in our performance, and for the future we shall do our best.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.