§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Constitution) Order in Council, 1953, be made in the terms of the Draft laid before this House on 14th July.I am afraid my first duty this afternoon is to go through a number of items in the Order in Council, particularly from a legal standpoint, and I am afraid that I must ask hon. Members to follow me through one or two rather technical points. I shall conclude by making some remarks which I hope the House will not think out of place about the lines on which we shall try to promote partnership after Federation has become a fact.
The document is divided into two parts. The first part, which is the Order in Council proper, consists of 15 sections containing all those measures necessary to set up the Federation and to enable it to begin its work in the interim period. The Annex to the Order in Council consists of 99 Articles and two Schedules and contains the permanent provisions of the Constitution, under which it will continue to work after the interim period has passed. The tables at the end of the document, pages 55 and 56, show, paragraph by paragraph, how each of the provisions of the Federal Scheme has been translated into the constitutional instrument.
I think I should point out here that in paragraph 42 (2) the Federal Scheme lays down that the Governor-General will be required to reserve certain types of Bill by the Royal Instructions which he will receive. This provision is therefore omitted from the Constitution. I am advised that it would not be possible or constitutionally correct to present to the House a copy of the Royal Instructions since these cannot be made by the Queen until after the Order in Council has been made, but the House can be assured that these provisions will be inserted.
May I turn now to the more general features of the Statutory Instrument? By comparing the scheme with the document, hon. Members will see, I hope, that 900 we have fully carried out our promise that the Statutory Instrument would faithfully reflect the Federal Scheme, but I think the House will expect from me some general explanation of how the four main points on which the Africans require reassuring, and upon which undertakings, were given in the final communiqué of the Victoria Falls Conference, have been met. In this, as in most constitutional instruments, I believe, the documents specify expressly the things which the Federation can do, without enunciating a list of the things which it cannot do.
The Constitution is framed and constructed so as to preclude the Federation from dealing with matters outside the field specifically allocated to it in the Constitution, and I hope the House will agree that it is the only sensible way of proceeding. It has been proved by experience to be the best way of dealing with these matters. We lay down exactly what the Federal Government can do, we then have the Concurrent List where, if the Territorial legislation should conflict with the Federal legislation, then the Federal legislation governs; and everything else in the field of government not contained in the Federal or the Concurrent List is automatically and solely in the field of the Territorial Governments.
I hope the House will agree that it would be clearly unwise to attempt to define all the things which the Territorial Governments could do and all the things which, by the nature of the Constitution, the Federal Government cannot do. That would, of course, require a list of all the existing and potential government functions which fall within the ambit of the Territorial Governments and I think it would be beyond the wit of man, and even beyond the wit of those supermen, the Parliamentary draftsmen, to ensure that every government function and every possible activity had been laid down by attempting to define all the things that Territorial Governments could do. Inevitably some would be left out, and that would be embarrassing. The plan is to circumscribe the functions of the Federal Government and of the Concurrent List, and all other government functions which remain undefined are solely within the power of the Territorial Governments.
I think it appropriate that I should deal in particular with the four main subjects which the right hon. Gentleman the 901 Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has referred to in our debates sometimes as the "four fears." I hope we have already done something to make the word "fear" too harsh an expression. I prefer to say that they are matters upon which the Africans are entitled to reassurance. First, of course, is that the Protectorate status of the two Northern Territories should be preserved. For the reasons I have already stated, the Constitution does not contain any express provision to the effect that the Federation will not have power to interfere with the Protectorate status of the Northern Territories. That would not be an appropriate or effective way of safeguarding their status.
The effective way, which we have adopted, is to safeguard the Protectorate status of the Northern Territories by constructing the Federal Constitution in such a way that these Territories remain separate and distinct political entities independent of the Federation within their respective spheres, and continue to be under the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and, too, subject to the authority of Her Majesty in Council under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act. This, I can assure the House, the Federal Constitution certainly does. I say in the clearest terms that it will not be competent to interfere with the constitutional position of either of these Territories, or, for that matter, of Southern Rhodesia. So much for the Protectorate status.
The effective method of preventing amalgamation except in certain circumstances is to secure, as the Federal Constitution does, that Her Majesty's Government and, in certain circumstances, Parliament, have the last word on constitutional amendments. This Government and future Governments will be under an obligation not so to amend it unless they are satisfied that a numerical majority of the people concerned are in favour of it. These intentions are clearly set forth in the Preamble, the fourth paragraph of which makes it quite clear that without a numerical majority of the people amalgamation is ruled out. The effective safeguard, however, is that Her Majesty's Government and Parliament have the last word on constitutional amendments.
I now turn to the third matter, which is that of political advancement. I cannot repeat often enough what I have said 902 in this House before, that the Federal Constitution gives the Federal Government no power either to retard or to accelerate the political advancement of Africans in any of the constituent Territories; no power to interfere with the Territorial Governments on this matter. I am thinking particularly, of course, of the two Northern Territories.
For example, as the House probably knows, we shall be discussing alterations of the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia in September this year—in six weeks' time. These discussions will be carried out and decisions reached without its being necessary to obtain any agreement from the Federal Government. Of course, they will be only an interim Government then, but the same will apply when the Constitution is in full vigour. It would clearly be only sensible that their views should be sought, but I assure the House that their concurrence is not necessary for anything we may decide. I give that as an illustration to bring home the point.
I turn now to the fourth matter, which is, of course, land. This is a matter which must be more directly mentioned. Here, again, we have fulfilled the undertakings about the inviolate character of African land. The Federal Government must have the power to acquire land for public purposes. It would be a farce if the Federal Government could not, for example, acquire a wayleave for a power line or, for that matter, a research station, but this power is to be specifically limited. It can be exercised only subject to the existing Orders in Council and subject to other legislation relating to African land in all the three Territories, and no land so acquired can be used for European settlement.
Thus the four major measures upon which Africans are apprehensive have been successfully dealt with in the Constitution, and our promises have been fulfilled at every point.
I was reading a reply which I made in the debate on 24th June to an intervention by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), and although what I said was technically correct I think it gives a misleading impression, for which I apologise to her. The Preamble is embodied in the Order in Council, but since it has no legal force 903 it would be misleading to describe it as part of the Constitution. I rather think that was the hon. Lady's point. I think she may have gained the impression from my answer to her question that a more direct constitutional device than that which we have employed was contemplated. I hope she will take it from me that what I said is technically correct and still remains a true description of the effect which has been secured by framing the Constitution as we have.
I must leave to my hon. and learned Friend the task of answering the questions which I do not cover, because clearly the House would not expect me to go into this in much detail, but there are one or two matters about which, I think, I should try to inform the House in advance of any questions which hon. Members may wish to raise.
The first concerns Chapter V of the Constitution and the judiciary powers within the Federation. There has recently been some mistaken criticism on the ground that these proposals abolish the right of appeal—or, perhaps, I should say the right to ask for appeal—to the Privy Council in this country. That is not the position. I may explain in this way. A litigant first has to exhaust his local remedies before coming to the Privy Council. If, after an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court, he is not satisfied, then it will be open to him to ask for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, either as a right under Federal law, or, if the Federal law confers no such right, by special leave of Her Majesty in Council.
I have one matter to clear up upon the African Affairs Board. It was urged by the Opposition at one stage of our discussions on the enabling Measure that the Board could be restrained by the courts from construing the definition of differentiating measures in a particular way despite the fact that Article 74 of the Constitution provides that if a Bill is, in the opinion of the Board—and these are the operative words—a differentiating measure, then the machinery for reserving it must come into force.
I have taken further legal advice upon this matter, and since all that the scheme requires is that the Board should be of the opinion that the measure is differentiating, it would not be open to the 904 courts to question the opinion; the courts could not lawfully restrain the Board from expressing its particular opinion or declaring any opinion. The reason is that once it has formed its opinion it has an unrestricted right to make its report under Article 74 of the Constitution.
Before I leave the details, I should draw the attention of the House to the definition of the Federal Legislature's powers over external affairs. They are concerned only with such external relations as may from time to time be entrusted to them by Her Majesty's Government. They are also entrusted with the carrying out of existing treaties, conventions and agreements with other countries or organisations. This power is subject to two limitations. It does not include relations between the United Kingdom and any of the Territories, and under Article 34 it is not competent for the Federal Legislature to make laws to carry out anything in an international agreement that relates to something within the legislative powers of the Territories without first obtaining the consent of the Territory.
Lastly, upon defence, I may say that the effect of this item will be, speaking broadly, that the Federation will be able to provide for such matters in connection with defence as it can afford to pay for. The item does not, however, give the Federation the power to declare war.
There is nothing, I think, that I can usefully add upon the Order in Council, but I think that I should say a word about the time-table. If the draft Order in Council is passed today, it is our intention to present the draft Order to Her Majesty at the first Privy Council after the Affirmative Resolution—that would probably be about 1st August. At the same time, Ministers would present to Her Majesty a further Order in Council, naming an appointed date for the coming into force of these provisions set out in Section 1 (2) of the Order in Council, and we should also make the necessary arrangements for the appointment of the Governor-General.
The effect of this would be to bring into force what are called the interim measures necessary for setting up the interim administration, between the passing of the Constitution and the 905 holding of the Federal elections. The interim administration we should hope to do by September. The further step, which brings the whole Constitution into vigour, will be when the Governor-General appoints, by proclamation, a date for the permanent provisions of the Constitution to come into force. Shortly after this, the First Federal elections will be held, and the Federal Assembly will meet. The approximate date for both these events will be 1st January, 1954.
I apologise to the House for having taken them along some of the dusty parts of the highway, but it is a highway which, I believe, leads to a noble goal. All these safeguards and checks in this as in every other Constitution preserve to Africans and to the Europeans who live beside them in these Territories, first of all the position as it now is, and then the hope of great advancement. It goes further, because in one stroke of the pen it gives greatly increased African representation at the centre in the Federal Legislature by giving Africans or those elected to represent them a quarter of the Legislature. They have not got that in any of the three Territories.
Furthermore—I am thinking specially of Africans—I must remind Africans, particularly in the Northern Territories, that if they attach so much weight to the word and shield of Her Majesty's Government when they are spoken or wielded today, they have now got many of the unwritten safeguards with which we exercise our power written into the Constitution.
It has always seemed to me—I have said this before—that it is paradoxical, although flattering to us, to attach an unbounded confidence in the unwritten word of Her Majesty's Government, because Her Majesty's Government could, after all, if it were the wish of the majority of this House, impose all kinds of conditions upon African life which would differentiate against Africans or be detrimental to them. It is, I say, anomalous to attach such an unbounded confidence in the unwritten good intentions of the British Government, and at the same time attach no confidence whatever to those safeguards and to the exercise of those powers which are inherent in the Government when they have been 906 written specifically into the Constitution, and when the intentions behind them have been repeatedly enunciated by Her Majesty's Ministers in this House.
Although this Constitution marks, as I say, a definite advancement for Africans, it cannot by law assure partnership between the races. We cannot by law ensure that there is no racial discrimination. Indeed, the facts of today are that there are not enough Africans fitted for these responsibilities—fitted to take more responsibility than they are being asked to take under the Constitution. But I affirm, again, that it would be intolerable if we all thought or if we all worked to leave it at that.
I state with deep sincerity, as I have stated before, that the first task after the Federation comes into being is, by education, to create first of all leaders for African opinion in sufficient numbers for the Africans to be worthily represented: that is, leaders upon whom Africans will rely and who will be competent to state African views. There is one instrument by which it can be done, by education—by primary and secondary education and by higher education in a university.
Even if that university were exclusively African, it would go a long way towards achieving our first objective, but I see no reason why we should not try to do two things at once; first to create a larger class of Africans with the equivalent of home university degrees, and also to secure that while they are gaining these degrees they will have a multi-racial university, and that the two main races concerned should work closely together during the formative period of their lives. The plans for a multi-racial university, which I announced to the House in the debate on the Third Reading, have been advanced since that date, and notably by the gracious speech which Her Majesty the Queen Mother delivered during her tour in Salisbury.
I go on from universities and education to the crying need for creating a class of craftsmen and artisans among Africans. Criticism may have been heard in the past that our education has been too much the education of doctors and lawyers. No reflection is intended on any hon. or hon. and learned Member, but perhaps we have a little overdone this.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
I think that we have to try, and we are trying, to pay more attention to the education of such people as surveyors, architects, electrical engineers, civil engineers and so forth. The subject of building up an artisan class is a little different from this, but the need for that class is no less urgent. I hope that I am not out of place if I say some of the things which I think we ought to do after the Federation becomes a fact.
Bound up with this matter there is, of course, the promotion of trade unions and co-operatives. I think that the House knows where Her Majesty's Government stand upon these matters. I think that it is hardly necessary for me to say that, with some experience of industry in this country, I have never departed from the view that it is impossible to build up a healthy economy on any modern lines without a strong trade union movement. I have seen nothing in my industrial experience which has not reaffirmed that view. Wherever we can avoid it, it is most undesirable for a Government or for any other machinery to interfere in the arrangements between the employed and their employers on wages and working conditions.
But this is, in many of these Territories, still only a goal. In many of the Colonial Territories the trade union movement is in its infancy. The leaders are inexperienced and the membership often insufficient to represent the body of the industry. Employers, too, have not yet fully realised their common interest in a good system of collective bargaining and are themselves not organised, but so far as the Government can use its influence now, when the Federation is just coming into force, it will be to promote sound organisations both of workers and employers. It is necessary, too, in some cases to have wages councils and negotiating machinery other than that based on voluntary bargaining if the practical needs of the workers are to be organised. I regard these as interim measures whilst we are advancing towards, I hope, a clearly stated objective.
Equally, I take the same stand on the subject of co-operative societies. It may 908 be that some hon. Members who are particularly interested in co-operative societies pitch their hopes of them too high. If they do, I think this is a very constructive fault, and in my experience progress has been advanced quicker by optimism, or, if I may say so, by wishful thinking, than by pessimism and by thoughts that see only the dangers and never the benefits.
I think it is quite clear that in many of these countries, and in the three of which we are thinking particularly, capital formation and the command of working capital will be slower than the opportunities open to capital. I am thinking particularly of capital formation among Africans. Just as the joint stock company in the early days of our industrial history replaced the family craftsman and the individual workman, and thereby brought the small and, at that date, ineffective saving of the people into a mobilised force of capital, so we may expect that the co-operative movement can perform a great service in bridging the gap between the savings of the peasant cultivator or proprietor and his needs at a time when he cannot, from his own funds, provide the necessary capital for the improvement of his land and for sowing, growing and harvesting his crops, either by hand tools or, at a later stage, by mechanical means. Nor should the position of co-operative societies in distribution be neglected and our thoughts be turned only to producer societies. In distribution, both in grading and marketing, and above all in efficient bulk selling, the peasant-producer will gain by having co-operative societies.
I am merely touching on these matters because I believe they are the ones which, when the Federation comes into being, will particularly engage our attention. I do not want to continue too long on the subject, nor to labour the point; I wish only to indicate a number of directions in which our idea of partnership can be fostered once the Federation is formed.
That leads me to say, in conclusion, a word about racial discrimination. There is no law which can be passed which can compel harmony in racial relations. There are many things that can be done, and have been done, in this instrument to secure in the constitutional and legal field that this discrimination will not form part either of government or of the law, but 909 they cannot regulate personal relations—if I may use the term—between one race and another, nor between one person and another. Nor has the Mother of Parliaments in many centuries of experience yet been able to frame a law which will ensure that a man and his wife live in amity and affection all the days of their life.
But we are here dealing with a practical dilemma which cannot be eliminated by emotion, however much we may admire and, indeed, share the emotion. The first horn of the dilemma is this. Once imagine that the rôle of the European is to remain permanently dominant—for example, suppressing in advance any African representation—then one of the first principles of democracy, government by consent, would at least be eroded and might be destroyed. On the other hand, the other horn of the dilemma is that if Africans are now to have the representation in the Legislature and in the Executive to which, under a modern system of democracy and franchise and in a fully literate society, their numbers can be shown to entitle them, then European influence would be destroyed, and the progress which has been so marked during the last 50 years would be arrested.
It is not only the flow of capital into these countries of which I am thinking. I am also thinking of the intrusion and expansion of our ideas of law and order, of the equality of all before the law; it is the banishment of superstition and witchcraft and its replacement by what the Bible calls charity, greater than faith and hope. Swamp the European minority at this time, and we shall sweep away the bridge across which alone can pass the ideas of our modern civilisation into that Continent.
I say again that there is nothing in our record which should lead any hon. Member to suppose that, in the exercise of these powers and of these functions in this Federation, the humanity and experience of the British race, which has written democratic institutions into the pages of history will suddenly be thrown aside in Central Africa. Look at the free institutions of the world; one finds that they often derive from the example and practice of this country and of this House. The race that invented Magna Carta and enshrined Parliamentary institutions after the Revolution of 1689 is not one which 910 is likely to reverse the trend which it has imparted all over the world. Surely we are not now trying to form governments, institutions and laws upon systems which have always been repugnant to our ideas.
There are other reasons, and we must acknowledge them—perhaps we must sometimes deplore them—for certain discrimination between the races, because the races are very different. The more backward have to be protected. Nor can we expect that those whose civilisation is age-long will readily accord a spontaneous equality to those who are beginning to learn some of the first lessons of an ordered and civilised society. Only harm is done by pitching our aspirations for no discrimination between the races too high at the present moment or by suggesting that there is some magic formula by which one of the great problems of these countries can be solved in the twinkling of an eye.
But if the present discrimination, which, as I say, may in some respects be inevitable, is believed to be an integral part of European thought regarding the Africans, then the chances of building a multi-racial society will indeed be small, and the essay upon which we are now starting to build such a society will fall in ruins about our heads and about the heads of those whom we are trying to lead towards democratic institutions.
But I have faith that the spirit which has animated our race in the past will continue to animate it in the Federation. I believe that today marks a milestone in African history. It marks the moment when we have a chance of building these countries up into political maturity, into economic prosperity and into human tolerance, and of founding a society which respects and cherishes men of any race who can play their part in the march of human progress.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
From the very outset of our debates upon the proposal for Central African Federation my right hon. Friends and I have indicated to the House that we recognise very fully the economic advantages which could flow from the closer association of the Governments and peoples of the three Territories, but we have also from the outset insisted that, if those advantages were to be ensured now and in the future in Central Africa, any scheme should be 911 able to meet three tests. The three tests have been the theme of many of the speeches that we have made from these benches in the course of our long debates.
First, we have laid down that, at the present stage of African development in the three Territories, any scheme of Central African Federation must contain safeguards which are adequate to the purpose of protecting their interests.
Secondly, we have also indicated, not only in this case but also in the case of other multi-racial societies, that until such time as conditions are established in which we can be reasonably certain that the Territory will develop into a multiracial democracy, it is essential that any scheme for federation or any contitutional provision in connection with a multiracial society should leave sufficient power in the hands of Her Majesty's Government to ensure that it develops in the way we desire. In the context of Central Africa, we have laid down that it is essential not only that the Protectorate status of the two northern territories should be enshrined in the Constitution but also that there should be provided in the Constitution adequate power for Her Majesty's Government to continue to fulfil its responsibilities as a protecting Power.
Thirdly, we have laid down that within the Federal structure and the provisions of the Constitution there should be an opportunity for the Africans to advance economically, socially and politically towards full equality with the other races which inhabit those Territories.
Those are the three tests which we have applied, and because we were convinced that the scheme put forward by the Government and agreed to between them and the Central African Governments failed to meet these three tests adequately, at varying stages we registered our protest in the Division Lobby against the scheme. That scheme is now embodied in the Order in Council, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies has moved a Motion asking the House to approve that Order in Council.
That draft Order contains in substance and in essence—I reserve for the moment the right to ask questions about the details—the scheme that we have already discussed in the House. We took the 912 opportunity of discussing it fully during our debates on the enabling Bill, and because the scheme embodied in the Order in Council is in substance the scheme which we found unsatisfactory for the reasons I have given, we feel that we must continue our protest against it in the Division Lobby tonight.
Before referring to some of the things that the Secretary of State said, I want to deal with some changes in the text of the Order in Council which cause it to differ from what appeared in the Federal Scheme. I want to mention one or two such changes, and no doubt some of my hon. Friends will want to mention others. So if I refer only to one or two, it is not to be assumed that they are necessarily all. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will make a note of the points I am going to raise, and will deal with them when he replies.
The first of these is contained in Article 14 (2, (d)), of the Constitution. The last words of this Article are as follows:… or has within the said five years been awarded, such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended. …It seems to us that those words have been added to the Order in Council and were not in the Federal Scheme. I have searched for them in the time at my disposal and have not found them. Perhaps we could have an explanation of that.
The second change is the provision that was in the Federal Scheme, page 20 paragraph 28 (4). This has relevance to the specially appointed European members who are to sit in the Federal Legislature with special responsibilities for African interests. In that paragraph we find these words included:Such a member will be appointed for the duration of a parliament, that is to say he will (like a Specially Elected Member) vacate his seat upon a dissolution of the Federal Assembly; and his seat will also become vacant in such other circumstances as would cause the seat of a Specially Elected Member to become vacant.The point I want to put to the Under-Secretary is that in the Federal Scheme there was provision for the specially appointed member to be appointed for the duration of the Parliament. That seems to be absent from the Order in Council, and I should like to ask why:
The provision in the Federal Scheme that the specially elected member was 913 appointed for the duration of a Parliament gave him a sense of security of tenure which would enable him effectively to discharge his responsibilities towards the Africans and to protect their interests, for which purpose he is specially appointed to the Legislature. If that drops out, are we to understand—this is rather an important point—that the specially elected European member who represents African interests is to sit in the Legislature at the discretion of the Governor without any security of tenure at all, and can be dismissed or pushed out at any time?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)
I can answer that now if the right hon. Gentleman wishes.
§ Mr. Foster
I appreciate that the words have been left out, but if the right hon. Gentleman will look at Article 15 of the Order in Council, he will see thatThe specially elected European member … shall vacate his seat in the Federal Assembly on a dissolution of the Assembly.That is the same thing as his being appointed for the duration of the Parliament, as stated in paragraph 28 (4) of the Federal Scheme. The actual words are:Such a member will be appointed for the duration of a parliament, that is to say he will … vacate his seat upon a dissolution of the Federal Assembly.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The paragraph to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has called attention indicates the circumstances in which a specially elected member shall vacate his seat. It clearly lays down dissolution as one of those conditions, but that is not the point that I was making because it is obvious that every member of the Legislature vacates his seat at a dissolution. I repeat my question. In the Federal Scheme a specially elected member was to be appointed for the duration of the Parliament; why has that been dropped out of the Order in Council? Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at that.
The only other point to which I should like to call attention—reserving for my hon. and right hon. Friends the right to put other points on this matter—arises on 914 Article 29 of the Order in Council. I will read the part in question, and then I will put my query. I am referring to paragraph (6) of that Article, which reads:For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that, subject to paragraph (3) of article eighty and paragraph (2) of article eighty-two of this Constitution, a law of the Federal Legislature may make provision for part only of the Federation or may make different provision for different parts of the Federation.I should like to be told what law was envisaged that would apply to one part of the Federal Territory and not to the other, and would apply in different ways to different parts of the Territories that are brought together in this Federation. It may be that a provision of this kind is desirable and I am sure that in the framing of this Constitution there was some law in mind. What kind of provision was thought to be necessary?
We did our best in the Committee stage of the enabling Bill to try to embody in it some Amendments to improve the scheme from our standpoint and, in particular, to strengthen the safeguards for Africans. All our Amendments were rejected. The invariable answer given by Ministers speaking from the Box opposite, even when we put forward Amendments which were within the terms of the scheme embodied in the White Paper, was that the Government could not accept those Amendments, even though they were desirable, even though on merit the Government would not be against them, because the Federal Scheme was the result of negotiations with the three Governments in Central Africa.
Have there been negotiations since then? Have the Central African Governments been consulted about these changes? The hon. and learned Gentleman says they are minor changes, but if it has been possible, since the days not so long ago when we had discussions in the Committee stage, to get into touch with the Governments in the Central African Territories and agree upon changes of words—in our view changes of some material importance—and embody them in the Order in Council, then the Government might have taken an opportunity of consulting them about some of the Amendments which we put forward and which would help the scheme considerably.
915 At this stage I shall not discuss the Constitution in detail, but will say a few general words, since this is perhaps the last opportunity we shall have to discuss this matter. In the Second Reading debate my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition used words which have been quoted here and, indeed, misquoted in other places. He said:… if this becomes the law of the land it is the duty of all of us to try to make it work to the best of our ability. …That is the statement of a democrat and one which we accept, but I urge the House to consider what my right hon. Friend said immediately afterwards. He made this appeal to the right hon. Gentleman:… even at this eleventh hour I urge that it is worthwhile delaying so that we may get some tangible proof of a new relationship which will bring the Africans into harmony with the scheme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1953; Vol. 515, c. 427.]We made that plea several times in the course of the debates upon this matter and it was rejected by the Government both in debate and in the Division Lobby.
None of us can doubt, however, that the other need for which my right hon. Friend pleaded and which he urged in that debate still remains, namely, the need for a tangible proof that there will be a new relationship in Central Africa. I think it will be common ground between us all that it is upon the creation and the development of such a new relationship that this scheme offers any prospect of developing towards the eventual multi-racial democracy which is the declared policy of this country in its Colonial Territories. This afternoon, therefore, I want to suggest some further tangible proof which can be brought into being in the months between now and September when the first Appointed Day will be fixed, and also between now and 4th January of next year when the scheme will come into full operation if this House approves the Order in Council by approving the Motion this afternoon.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has referred to two of these tangible proofs. The first, which we welcome wholeheartedly, is the decision to establish a multi-racial university in Central Africa. We welcomed it when 916 the announcement was made, we welcome it now, and we hope that every step will be taken to bring it into being at the earliest moment. Secondly, we welcome the initiative taken by one of the companies in the copper belt to open discussions with the European Mineworkers Union with a view to seeking their agreement to remove some of the racial discrimination which now exists and which is embodied in an agreement between the union and the company.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am sorry, one group of companies. I have noticed in the Press with interest and appreciation that one meeting has already taken place, that it has been adjourned for a week, and will then be resumed. I hope it will succeed.
If we are to build modern democratic communities in Africa and Asia, the creation of an artisan class is essential. Artisans represent the middle of a modern democratic community and without them it cannot be built. At present in the copper belt, and in other industries in Central and East Africa, one of the obstacles to the creation of an artisan class amongst Africans and to their advancement is racial discrimination. After all, becoming an artisan is part of industrial advancement, and if they are to play their full part it is essential that all the barriers now standing in the way of their technical progress and industrial advancement should be removed.
I appreciate that this is not an easy job. We have here, as in so many aspects of life in Africa, what I described at a conference last week as a curtain of fear; that is to say, the white worker is afraid that his standards and his privileges will be overwhelmed if the African advances, and the African becomes resentful because there is withheld from him the opportunity of advancing in accordance with his ability. I agree with the Secretary of State that, if it can be done by agreement between the two unions concerned and the firms in question, so much the better. The matter has been under discussion for a long time now and efforts have been made, in Northern Rhodesia in particular, by my predecessors and myself to bring the 917 sides together in order to reach a voluntary agreement. Unless we can get that now, I do not think we can go on much longer allowing this kind of agreement to prevent the development of Africans, upon which the success of everything we are trying to do in Africa depends. However, we welcome the steps that have been taken so far.
Now I come to make one or two other suggestions, and I make two in particular: to the Federal Government when it comes into operation, and to its leaders now before it comes into operation. The first suggestion is that they should now make a firm declaration that when the scheme comes into operation, the African Affairs Board will be used to the full to safeguard African interests. Inadequate as we think are the powers of the African Affairs Board in the present scheme, weak as we think its composition is as compared with the original scheme, it is the centre of this Constitution and it still remains the one instrument by which Africans can be ensured that their interests are protected.
The Secretary of State knows that if we are to have this new relationship, it is essential to have a firm declaration from the leaders in Central Africa that when the Federation comes into existence, they will make the fullest use, not only in the letter but in the spirit, of the African Affairs Board, and are determined to see that its powers are used to the maximum in order to safeguard African interests.
One of the factors that has added to African fears in the past few months, whilst we have been discussing here and whilst they have been discussing this Federal Scheme out in Central Africa has been the statements that have been made seeking to denigrate the African Affairs Board and seeking to undermine it and to say that it does not mean very much. It means, and will mean, everything to the Africans. I hope that we get a firm declaration of the intention to use the Board's powers to the maximum, for that is important and essential.
My second suggestion concerns the time when they come to discuss the franchise. The Secretary of State ventured a definition of partnership in an earlier debate and said that he would regard partnership as being established in Central Africa when a European would be elected in a constituency in which the 918 majority of voters were Africans and an African would be elected in a constituency in which the majority of electors were Europeans and whites. We are very far indeed from that state of affairs yet in Central Africa.
When the Federal Legislature meets, one of its earliest tasks will be that of considering and of formulating the Federal franchise. It may be, perhaps, the first major measures that they will have to consider, and the first major Bill they will have to pass. Here is the opportunity of expressing partnership in something bigger than words, in a franchise. Here is the opportunity of providing, right at the very beginning, a franchise that will contain within itself, not only the hope, but the certainty, that in due time there will develop in Central Africa a real, effective partnership. I express the hope that upon those two matters, in particular, the leaders in Central Africa will give firm declarations, for I believe that those firm declarations would do much to allay the anxiety and the fears of the Africans, which are still widespread and still very deep.
Finally, I wish to say a few words about what can be done in the ensuing six months by the Secretary of State, by Her Majesty's Government and by this Parliament in regard to the Protectorate status of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. I urge one or two things upon the Secretary of State. First, I notice that in the Order in Council there are set out in very specific terms guarantees for the Paramount Chief and people of Barotseland. Those provisions are made in an Order in Council because one of the forebears of the Paramount Chief made an agreement with the British Sovereign and Government at the time. That agreement is preserved and protected in specific terms within this Order in Council.
I ask the House to consider this. We do this for the Paramount Chief and we do it for his country, his Protectorate, specifically and specially. But the Paramount Chief of Barotseland is not the only one who has agreements with Her Majesty's Government: there are others, too. The Secretary of State, the House and the country know perfectly well that there is still continuing deep anxiety and deep hostility to this scheme in Nyasaland and that that hostility is based upon the 919 fear that their Protectorate status will be impaired and that the agreements which their forebears made with the Government here are not adequately protected.
I ask the Secretary of State whether, even now, at what is nearly the twelfth hour, it is not possible to write into the Constitution some protection for the chiefs and people of Nyasaland equivalent to those that are written into it for the Paramount Chief of Barotseland. In principle, I see no difference whatever. I hope, therefore, that that will be considered.
We all know perfectly well that in Nyasaland there is still deep anxiety and deep opposition, and that the people are still afraid. The Secretary of State has carried out fully the undertakings given at Victoria Falls and afterwards that the Protectorate status in general terms shall be preserved in the Constitution; but we have gone beyond that in the case of the Paramount Chief of Barotseland. We have done it specially for him. In view of that, and in view of the continuing anxieties in Nyasaland, I hope that consideration will be given to making such a provision in this Order in Council; or if that is impossible—and it will be once the House decides this evening—I hope that consultations will take place between the Secretary of State, Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Northern Rhodesia to see what other steps and measures can be taken in Nyasaland to give further assurances to the people in Nyasaland. None of us is under any illusion that those further assurances are very necessary bearing in mind the present and continuing anxieties in Nyasaland.
Now I come to the second point that I ask the Secretary of State to consider. He has told us that in September there are to be discussions between him and the representatives of Northern Rhodesia, in particular representatives of the Africans there, about further political changes in the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia. I fully agree with the Secretary of State that in the circumstances it was desirable that these discussions about future constitutional changes in the Territorial Government in Northern Rhodesia should be held over until after the question of Federation had been settled. Once it is settled, the talks can 920 begin, and they are due to begin. I gather from what the right hon. Gentleman said, during September. I do not want to prejudge those discussions, but I make an appeal to the Secretary of State.
This is a further opportunity to give tangible proof of partnership. It has been said from both sides of the House when this matter has been discussed and argued, that in this scheme most of the matters which intimately affect Africans are left within the province of the Territorial Government. If that is true—and I appreciate it—I urge upon the Secretary of State that it makes it all the more desirable that the relative position of the Africans in the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia should now be improved; that they should have added representation in the Executive Council and in the Legislative Council.
This is an opportunity to the European elected members and to the Government in Northern Rhodesia to indicate that within what is left of the powers of the Territorial Government, the Africans will be more fully safeguarded and more fully represented. I hope, therefore, that there will be early consultations with the Africans upon political advancement within the Territorial Government. Now is the opportunity, in the context of Federation, to give them that increased representation upon the Executive Council and upon the Legislative Council.
Another point I would urge is that it is more than a year now since the Governor and the Government of Northern Rhodesia published a statement on partnership. I do not propose now to read the proposals in that official statement, but it is more than a year since it was issued and no really tangible step has been taken to implement a single one of the proposals. While we have been speaking of partnership and this official statement of Government policy has been in existence, not one really tangible step has been taken so far as I am aware. If any step has been taken, I have not heard of it. I urge that the proposals be implemented now and certainly in the next few months.
If the House approves the Motion today and the scheme comes into operation, that does not end our responsibilities. We shall still have responsibilities 921 in this House. We shall still have responsibilities for the Federal Government and for the Federal Legislature and I hope that before the end of this debate the Under-Secretary of State will answer this question. Has he sought any advice from the appropriate quarter as to whether, within the terms of this Constitution, it may be permissible to ask Questions in this House about the activities of the Federal Government and the Federal Legislature? Will it be in order to discuss how the Federal Government and Federal Legislature are working from time to time? Will it not still be a Government in respect of which we have not only responsibilities but opportunities of ensuring that those responsibilities are being carried out by Her Majesty's Government?
In seven to nine years we shall have to review this matter and what the House and the country do then will depend on what happens in the meantime. None of us can look upon the African scene in these days without anxiety. In the next seven years, up to 1960, the fate of Africa will be determined one way or the other. It has been said of Africa that it is the only remaining uncommitted Continent in the world. We want it to take the democratic way. There are others in Africa who want it to take another road.
The democratic road can lead to one end—a society in which all men have equal opportunity and are not only equal before the law, as the Secretary of State said, but equal in all phases of their life, in industry, in society and in their political life. That is the end to which we must work. If Central African Federation develops towards that multi-racial democracy, it can succeed, but if it does not, it will fail.
We have been asked to exercise an act of faith in the people of Central Africa. It is more than an act of faith. They may very well have the future of Africa in their hands. There is this upsurge of national consciousness in Africa and elsewhere; it is a great dynamic force which, if we seek to keep it back, will sweep us out of the way; but if we make ourselves its allies, it can go along the democratic road. That is the challenge; I hope they may be equal to it.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
I hope the House will forgive me for intruding on what has become, for all practical purposes, a family affair limited to a small number of Members. I hope I shall be allowed to follow some of the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
I hope I do not trespass on the time of the House in doing this, but, first, I should like to pay a small and, perhaps, belated tribute to the former hon. Member for Sunderland, South, the late Mr. Richard Ewart. Although I was of a different political opinion from him, although I differed deeply and fundamentally from him on political grounds and although I only knew him slightly in the course of one General Election campaign, his deep sincerity in his cause and in what he believed to be right was something which would never fail to impress people of all parties. I should like to take this opportunity of paying this tribute to him and recording my appreciation of the work of the late hon. Member for Sunderland, South.
Hon. Members, I hope, will forgive me for interrupting this debate because on several occasions I have sat listening to hon. Members on both sides of the House who, to my mind, have been going over the same arguments again and again. If one may make the comment from very nearly without this House, it seemed to me that the relative positions of either side of the House were these. We were at an historic moment for Africa—the right hon. Member for Llanelly made that quite clear—and the attitudes of the two sides of the House were also quite clear. One seemed to be a bold, trusting and confident attitude, confident in the ability of the people living in the Territories concerned to carry out development plans and to increase the responsibilities of the Africans living in those Territories.
On the other hand, there seemed to have been a frame of mind among hon. Members opposite a timid and controlling frame of mind which pleaded over and over again for delay—delay which I believe would be fatal to this great plan which was initiated by right hon. Members opposite and developed by this Government. It seems to me that to call for further delay at a time such as this, at 923 this time of decision, would be fatal to this great plan and to the future of any development in Africa itself.
I was greatly saddened by the initial remarks of the right hon. Member, saying that there would, in fact, be a Division on this issue. He has referred to "the curtain of fear" and has referred to African fears about political advancement. I believe that the majority of those fears are quite unwarranted and unfounded. I am quite willing to place my trust in the ability of those who live on the spot to develop partnership. However much we may talk in this House about partnership and about great and noble ideas, it is those who have to live on the spot with the problems who in the end will have to solve the problems.
I believe very sincerely that now is the time for decision and that to continue opposition to this new Constitution at this moment would do no more to stimulate the political fears of Africans, which are quite unwarranted and unfounded. In debates which have gone before we have heard of a request for gestures, for demonstrations of some tangible proof that this Government and Europeans in Central Africa are moving along and thinking along what probably we would all like to call the right lines. We have heard reference today to the establishment of the inter-racial university. What we have not heard about is the formation of the new Federal Party, which is welcoming within its ranks Europeans and Africans on equal terms. That seems to me the line of advance which is taking place throughout Central Africa today.
The right hon. Member referred to discussions going on with certain mining companies and the trade unions. We welcome these discussions. They are all part of a developing theme that partnership can be brought into existence not solely by the high and lofty ideals of this House but by those living, working and practising on the spot, who are living with these problems and trying to solve them.
I should like to follow the remarks of the Colonial Secretary that any development of partnership must in the long run be based on education and, in the next stage, on technical education. These seem to me to be practical lines for advance which can be supported by the House and which are being pursued on 924 the spot. It seems to me that dividing the House this evening on an issue like this will draw out the political differences which may exist—whether they are warranted or not may, I believe, still be open to debate—which will perhaps set this new child off to an unfortunate start. I, and, I think, those who are sincerely wanting the right solution in Central Africa, have hoped that support could have come from both sides for this venture and that it could have come in the form of a welcome to the new State which is being created.
I believe this to be a great new British venture in democratic development and that it will only be a successful start on a future pattern for partnership if we get the support of Members on both sides of the House. I express again my regret that there should be a Division on this issue because it seems to me that that continues a sore which may develop into a running sore. If we can do anything in this debate to reduce differences and make partnership into a reality the debate will be serving a useful purpose. For my part, I welcome the introduction of the new Constitution. I believe that it serves the present needs of European and African in Central Africa, and that through this Constitution partnership can be achieved.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), and on behalf of us all, to congratulate him on his maiden speech. He won a victory for his party at Sunderland, and I am sure that in this House he will continue to give good service to his party and service to the country too. We on this side of the House were particularly pleased to hear his gracious observations about his predecessor, who was so dear to us all. I hope that we shall on many future occasions see that—was it a Celtic?—fire I seemed to observe burning? and that he will take part in what he called this family affair. I am sure that all Members of the "family" will be very glad indeed to welcome him He spoke in a forthright manner about this Order and his speech was certainly none the worse for that.
I wish to make my criticisms of the proposals. I should like first to refer 925 very briefly to the method which has been adopted in bringing these proposals into operation. They have been made without the concurrence of the people most closely concerned and affected by their operation, namely, the Africans. I can understand that happening in the circumstances. What I completely fail to understand is that when this happened particular care should not have been taken to see that the Committee stage of the Measure in this House was a reality and not a sham.
These proposals were simply pushed through the Committee stage by majority vote, by the operation of the party machine, and we had not a single Amendment accepted in Committee. I gather that there have since been discussions between the Government and Sir Godfrey Huggins and Sir Roy Welensky—I do not know; perhaps we shall hear about them. We should like to know whether the proposals put forward in the Committee stage were discussed with those gentlemen, and, if so, what has been the result of those discussions. If I may return to the definition of "differential measure," does Sir Godfrey Huggins accept the interpretation of that provision which was given by the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations?
I pass from procedure to what to my mind are the major criticisms of this scheme. First, and the point has already been mentioned by my right hon. Friend, there is no positive provision in the Federal scheme for the development of the Africans. That has been mentioned and developed in previous debates, and I shall not spend any time over it now.
Secondly, there is a division here between the central powers and the territorial powers, as there must be in every Federal organisation, but the danger, the peculiarity, of this particular division is that there is allotted to the Federal organisation matters of general interest affecting property and peoples in the various Territories as a whole whereas there are allotted to the Territorial Governments matters of particular concern to the Africans and the Africans only. In other words we have a separation of powers between the Federal and the territorial organisations on lines of racial interest and racial Government. I do not want to exaggerate it unduly but there is a danger there.
926 It is a peculiar principle of demarcation to adopt between a Federal and a territorial Government and one which, so far as I know, has never been adopted before in any other federal organisation. If the Federal Government were to fall into the hands of people who were affected by Afrikaner ideas, this might very well play completely into their hands and lead easily to an aparteid form of discrimination, and government.
The third point, which I have previously mentioned at an earlier stage in our debates, is the extraordinary provision in the Constitution for the police and responsibility for enforcing the Federal laws lying with the Territorial Government. We have the British Government still sovereign in the last resort in respect of the Federation, then at a lower level a Federal organisation set up under the Federal Constitution, and finally the territorial organisations in two of which the British Government are responsible for administration. So we have the British Government as the sovereign authority, and at the bottom the British Government again as a territorial authority in two of the Territories, responsible for enforcing the laws passed by the Federal Legislature. The British Government is under this Constitution underwriting the settlers, with their majority control of the Federation, as against the African population.
We have seen what has happened in Ireland in the past. There we had the unhappy experience of the British Government underwriting an ascendancy against the native population. I hope we shall not have that experience repeated here. It is a very real danger in the extremely anomalous position which arises from the form of Constitution adopted in Central Africa.
I wish to come now to the more hopeful aspects of this scheme. In my view it is a misbegotten and a misshapen scheme but from the very deformity and defects in the scheme there may come some good. The defects are so obvious that I trust everybody will administer this scheme with the most tender care. It depends entirely on the way it is to be administered.
There are two important safeguards in the scheme. First, there is this country's power of veto. The other 927 is the power to which I have already referred, the power which resides in the Government of this country, as the Government responsible for those two Northern Territories, for the policing and enforcing of laws in those Territories. The very fact that it is, in the last resort, British police, British power, British force, which is responsible for order in the Northern Territories makes it quite impossible for the veto in this Constitution to be regarded as merely a nominal constitutional device which may never be put into operation.
I am sorry the veto is to be exercised apparently by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations rather than by the Colonial Secretary. I think that is a mistake. I hope we all realise that because of our responsibility for order in the Northern Territories, because of our responsibility for policing the Northern Territories, we in this House have vital interests in the exercise of the veto where appropriate occasion arises.
I would reiterate the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) about whether there will be opportunities in this House to question the Commonwealth Secretary about the exercise, or the non-exercise, by him of the power of veto which lies in this Constitution and if not, why not? Why should not we in this House call the Commonwealth Secretary to account for the way in which he exercises the power imposed on him under this Constitution? I trust we cannot at this stage be told that that is merely a purely nominal matter and that, of course, he would not exercise it any more than he would exercise it if such power were obtained in the case of a country which had already achieved Dominion Status.
The positive powers we have handed over to the settlers. We retain only purely negative powers. I think that a great mistake. All the powers of positive initiation and action, of positive responsibility for the development of the African within the Federation Constitution as contrasted with the territories themselves, we have handed over to the white population. What is needed now is an actual practical demonstration by the white population of the fact that they will take seriously the development of the Africans toward responsibility, toward democracy and a 928 full participation in the democratic Government of the country to which they belong.
What then should be our future attitude? I would put it briefly in this way. We in this country should do everything possible to encourage and develop the policy of partnership. I welcome the observations made this afternoon by the Colonial Secretary. They seemed to me to be a new departure on his part, and if the settlers administer this scheme in the spirit of the speech he made today it would go a considerable way to allay fears and anxieties about it.
Not only should we encourage the settlers to take practical steps towards partnership, but also we should encourage the Africans to respond to these steps wherever they are taken. I hope sincerely that we shall have mutual co-operation between settlers and Africans within these Territories. In the last resort—I hope it will never arise—it is our responsibility, as the Government of this country, as the House of Commons, as the power responsible for the Northern Territories and for enforcing the Federal laws in those Territories, and as the Sovereign Power, to exercise the Veto and every power we have to prevent Central Africa from becoming another South Africa. Let us make no mistake about that, though I hope the occasion will never arise for any such action. Our attitude towards the scheme in the future will, as my right hon. Friend indicated, depend entirely upon the practical steps taken in Africa toward winning the allegiance of the Africans and establishing a true multi-racial community within Central Africa.
There is one reference I would make to the rather wider issue of policy connected with this Central African development. It is the general attitude which we in this country should adopt towards the development of Dominion Status. As we all know, Dominion Status was based on the Durham Report written some 130 years ago. That report was made as a means of satisfying the cry "no taxation without representation" in a world where communications were bad. It was the only means of reconciling democracy and distance. Nowadays the distance has disappeared, but the problem remains for this country to ensure democracy through- 929 out the Colonial Empire—without necessarily adopting in every single case the solution of the Durham Report.
In the laissez faire days it was common for constitutional lawyers to talk of the development of the Empire as fruit ripening until the time when the ripe fruit would fall from the tree. What we are here doing, what we have been doing in Central Africa, is not to wait for the ripe fruit to fall from the tree. We have been hacking off the unripe fruit. We have been putting into force this Central African scheme, contrary to the will of the vast majority of the inhabitants in that area——
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
That matter has been dealt with on several occasions and I will not be led off——
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
It was dealt with very fully by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) in his closing speech during the first debate on this issue.
I am in favour of local government for local affairs, but we have reached the state in communications and the development of our Empire when what is needed is a closer integration of the various parts of the Empire, where the emphasis should shift to integration rather than disintegration. Our problem is to make the Empire as it is democratic without necessarily in every case decentralising. This involves a great deal of deep thinking. Nobody can produce a solution overnight. It requires a slow and practical application.
I am fully aware of the dangers involved, but I hope that every opportunity will be taken, by the Colonial Office in particular, for closer consultation with the inhabitants of all these Colonies to see, by conferences like one which has taken place within the last 12 months, that we gradually develop the Empire democratically by practical steps without necessarily in every case leading along the Durham Report line of development.
This is a huge problem. In Central Africa at this stage it was premature to have introduced Federation before the vast majority of the inhabitants wanted it. I sincerely hope that it will succeed. It 930 will be a disaster for us, for Africa and for the world if it fails. I hope that we do everything possible to make it succeed; but the key to it all lies with the settlers in Central Africa. If they will give practical demonstration of a sincere wish to develop the Africans and to have partnership and friendship with them, I am certain that they will have a response from the Africans and from all sides in this House as well.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
I was not sure when the debate started whether we should be entitled to roam rather widely, as we seem to be able to do, on this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) made an excellent maiden speech on this the last day of the debates on Federation, a day which is making a page of history. I had hoped that the Opposition would have taken the line which the leader of the opposition to Federation in Southern Rhodesia took. He opposed it until the end. After the referendum which decided for Federation he gave the scheme his blessing and said that he would endeavour to make it work. I had hoped that the Opposition would have taken the same line. It is a great disservice to Federation that we should have controversy today and a Division at the end of the debate.
Today we have heard much the same as we have heard on previous occasions. The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) more or less attacked the settlers and Sir Godfrey Huggins. We have heard similar attacks on many occasions during the last five or six debates on this question. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke about the veto which Her Majesty's Government would still have on anything in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I would remind him that the Government of the day have had the right of veto over the Southern Rhodesian Government for the last 30 years, but the steps which that Government have taken have been such that the United Kingdom Government have never felt it necessary to exercise the veto. Why after 30 years of good service it should now be thought that the people of Southern Rhodesia have changed, I fail to see.
A great deal has been said about partnership. I was sorry to see that "The 931 Times" took up the question and was critical. Criticism has been made throughout the debates that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has not said what he meant by the term. It is not for us in this House to say what is meant by partnership. The people who have to work the partnership are those in Central Africa. They have proclaimed in no uncertain voice what they mean. But, apart from what they have said, let us look at the history of the matter during the last 60 years. I will deal with Southern Rhodesia because that is the territory which has been attacked more than any other.
Partnership does not necessarily mean advancement in the political field. Partnership which is most beneficial is partnership in the economic field. I suggest that Southern Rhodesia have done more to further partnership than has been done in any of the Colonial Territories. Criticism has been made of various activities there. We have heard a great deal of criticism about education. I was sorry to see that Miss Margery Perham, in a letter to "The Times," criticised what had been done in the field of education. The position is that there are over 2,000 primary native schools for 200,000 pupils. There are 7,000 teachers and all but 350 are Africans. They are now starting not only a multi-racial university but also an African university. If those are not practical steps towards partnership, I do not know what the word means.
Let us consider the employment position and the building up of the artisan class which has been advocated. In Southern Rhodesia there are 1,000 more Africans self-employed than there are Europeans. Surely some of them must be artisans. There are some Africans in Southern Rhodesia who earn over £1,000 a year by running their own bus services. I suppose that some of them are also artisans. The police force is largely African. There is a rapidly increasing number of African clerks. A wide range of Government posts are open to Africans in education, health and agriculture. These are practical steps towards partnership.
The housing situation has also been the subject of criticism. I refer now to something which was seen by the hon. 932 Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) and myself—I think that he was with us—when we went to the township of Umtali. We saw a swarm of Africans building houses for themselves under the supervision of one European. They were completing houses at the rate of one a day. In the last four years they have built houses for 11,000 Africans. They had there a sports field for Africans which would be the envy of many of our provincial towns.
The Director of Education there said that the citizens were proud of their township; they were law abiding; and crime was practically non-existent. How many towns in England could show the same record? This again is a practical example of working partnership. When speaking of education I forgot to add that what is being done for the African ought to be recognised in this country. The African is not merely taught academic subjects: he is also given technical training. The deputation saw Africans being given technical training in many useful subjects. This also is a case of partnership.
Then there is the question of health. The hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) mentioned in one of our debates that he had received a letter from the wife of a missionary who had been told by somebody who had been told by someone else of some terrible thing which had been done in a hospital which was unnamed. We visited hospitals when we were over there. What is the position? They have over 10,000 hospital beds, a ratio of one to every 230 Africans. There were 250,000 in-patients and 3,500,000 outpatients treated in 1950. Surely, that is something of which Southern Rhodesia can be proud, and we should not criticise her hospital service.
I want to mention the common roll. Here, again, I think that the way to get partnership is through the common roll, which has been criticised because it has been said that, as soon as too many Africans qualify for the common roll, the qualification will be raised. That may be so, and I do not think that Sir Godfrey Huggins has disputed the fact, but what he has also said, and what I think he is right in saying, is that he wants to see the day when the common roll is so constituted that white and black on that common roll vote according to policy and not according to colour. That day will come, in due course.
933 It cannot be said that Africans on the common roll have no effect on the decision in their elections. There are only a few hundreds of Africans who have taken the trouble to register, although there are several thousands who could qualify to be entered on the common roll. If every African who is qualified to enter the common roll did so and exercised his right of voting, Africans today could bring about a great effect on decisions taken.
There are only two parties out there, and it is up to the Africans to get their names on the register, and, when the opportunity comes, to vote for that particular party which they think will best further their own interests. If they had taken their opportunities in the past, Africans could have influenced considerably the voting at the last election.
I know that great play is made about the qualifications, which are laid down for black and white equally. I am not sure that the provision of certain qualifications before the vote can be exercised is not a good one. Even in this country, if we had some slight qualifications, if only to the effect that an elector should be able to write his or her name and could count up to 10, before exercising the right of voting, it would not be a bad idea.
With regard to opposition from the Africans, I could quote a large number of cases of influential Africans in Southern Rhodesia who are prepared to help to make Federation a success. They have declared their intentions to that effect, and they have welcomed the scheme. I know that isolated people are against it, but there are plenty of Africans in Southern Rhodesia who want to, and who will, make Federation work. I have no doubt myself that, if we leave Central Africa to manage its own affairs, the Africans, black and white, will manage them just as well as, if not better than, we can from a distance of 6,000 miles.
It has been asked whether we in this country should have the right to put down Questions about the way in which the Central African Federation scheme is functioning. I sincerely hope that my hon. and learned Friend, when he replies to the debate, will say that we shall not have that right. I think that carping criticisms and innuendoes in Questions in this House do a great deal of harm to partnership between black and white in Africa. When our people go out to Africa, they do not change their colour, 934 and, consequently, they are still as democratic as we are, and it would be a very good thing if we realised that and left them to their own devices. Western civilisation has given Africans the chance of rising from blood-stained chaos, and has helped them along the road from squalor, disease, and cruelty. I hope, that from now on the carping criticisms which we have made in the past will cease.
I have every confidence in Sir Godfrey Huggins, Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Malcolm Barrow. They are liberal-minded and broad-minded men who realise that there is a great future in Africa for both black and white, but that there will be no future at all for them if they do not both pull together. I therefore hope that tonight the House will give the people of Central Africa the opportunity of carrying on and minding their own business, while we in this country mind ours.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfred Paling (Dearne Valley)
I was glad to hear the Secretary of State for the Colonies recite the list of qualities that exist in Southern Rhodesia. I am very glad to hear it, because there are some on the other side about which I want to say a few words. I am glad to find that there are some virtues, because I am hoping that some of the difficulties and disabilities that exist there may be removed, so that there may be a better chance of Federation becoming a real success.
First, I should like to ask a question of the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. The Colonial Secretary made a statement the full import of which I did not gather, but it was to the effect that any question of amalgamation would be decided by numerical majority of the people. What people? Does that include the Africans?
§ Mr. Paling
I am very pleased to hear it, because I listened with a certain amount of pleasure to the right hon. Gentleman's speech today. I think that if he had been as careful about his approach to this question in the past as he has been today, he might have created a better atmosphere both in this House and among the Africans, too. However, I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having improved.
935 On the question of numerical majority, it appears that the right hon. Gentleman himself does believe in the majority deciding these things, because he said with some pride that amalgamation will not be decided without a numerical majority. Why could he not have decided the question of Federation on the same basis? Why not approach the Africans to see if we can get a majority? The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) has just said that there are Africans who are ready to take advantage of the opportunity, and who have indicated their willingness to help Federation, and they are Africans who know something about it.
Why not settle the dispute and avoid a lot of criticism? The right hon. Gentleman could do it if he could obtain a concensus of opinion in the two parties, and decide by a majority, in which the Colonial Secretary believes. I think it was a mistake that he did not do that, and I am sorry, because he might have avoided a lot of the trouble that has cropped up since.
I now turn to some of the things upon which I should like to comment. I think that if Southern Rhodesia, particularly—and this is the nigger in the woodpile—eliminated some of the disabilities which Africans suffer, it would make for the success of this scheme. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the question of trade unions, in which I was interested, but the reference to trade unions which I find in the White Paper says this:Save as provided in paragraph (2) of this article, the Federal Legislature shall not have power to make laws with respect to—They only have power in regard to trade unions in the case of Federal employees. Presumably, the question of trade unions will lie with the Territorial Governments, but this is one of the main causes of complaints against Southern Rhodesia. Let me read what is stated in the White Paper on the Central African Territories (Cmd. 8235), paragraphs 73 and 74:
- (a) trade unions or other like associations; or
- (b) the settlement of disputes between employers and employees,"In both Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, African trade unions are legally recognised and some successful organisations exist. In Southern Rhodesia, no legal provision exists for the recognition of African trade unions. …936The Southern Rhodesia Government considers that African labour has not yet become sufficiently stabilised, and the African himself is not yet sufficiently advanced, to be capable of organising and managing trade unions successfully with a due sense of their proper purpose.If that is so, then they seem to do it in Northern Rhodesia, and, to some extent in Nyasaland, and in a good many of the other African Territories also. If they can do it in those territories, some of which are no further advanced, particularly with regard to industrialism, than is Southern Rhodesia, why cannot they do it in that Territory? If the Southern Rhodesian Government want to prove that they desire to do everything possible for these people, why do they not remove these causes of friction and irritation among the people there?
This kind of excuse has always been used against trade unions. It was used in this country. But trade unions have grown up and had shown their usefulness, and today even Ministers on the Front Bench opposite have nothing but praise for them—at least on some occasions. I hope that the Southern Rhodesian Government will take heed of what has been said in this House this afternoon and will eliminate the causes for the unrest.
Then there is the question of the wages paid to African labour in Southern Rhodesia. If an industrial democracy is to be developed in Southern Rhodesia, there will be a dependence on Africans for the necessary labour. If the Government there want to give the African a sense of being well treated, they must not only provide him with work, but they must let him see that he is having a fair deal. I suggest that it is difficult to make any man believe that he is having a fair deal when he is drawing the kind of wage paid in Southern Rhodesia today.
The average wage paid to a native agricultural worker is 32s. 6d. a month, and I think I am right in saying that in some parts of Africa the working month used to be something like 30 working days. It is quite true that a food allowance is paid in addition, but, even with that, the wages remain miserably low. Hon. Members will remember that only a few weeks ago a huge increase in wages was given in Northern Rhodesia, where the workers have trade union representation and where the trade unions played a big part in getting that increase.
937 Is the reason why Southern Rhodesia do not want trade unions because they wish to continue to pay these miserably low wages?
§ Mr. Baldwin
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman wants to be fair. Is he aware that wage rates in Southern Rhodesia are higher than in any of the three Territories and that there is a big migration of labour from Nyasaland into Southern Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Paling
I am aware of that, and, also, that there is no work of this kind for these people in Nyasaland. But Southern Rhodesia is relatively well advanced in this, and if she gave trade unions the right to negotiate wages she might eliminate some of the present trouble.
I now want to say a word or two about the land question. The Colonial Secretary went to some trouble to say that the land of the Africans was to remain inviolable. I am glad to hear that, but I doubt whether it is enough. In Southern Rhodesia there are some 130,000 white people in about 75,000 square miles, whereas there are millions of Africans living in about 50,000 square miles. The land of the Europeans there has been protected to a very large extent. Listen to this:As to the European area, the Act states (Section 26 as amended by Section 3 of Act No. 14 of 1945) that'Subject to the exceptions provided in this Act—That is protecting the Europeans all right. Is the same measure of protection to be given to the African? Is he, in particular, also to be allowed access to this land in Southern Rhodesia? That is one of the questions that need answering and one of the things to which the Southern Rhodesian Government can attend. If they want to create this multiracial community and to live in peace with the Africans, then I suggest that they should attempt to deal with some of these things now without waiting for Federation to be put into operation.
- (a) no native shall acquire, lease or occupy land in the European Area;
- (b) no owner or occupier of land in the European Area, or his agent, shall—
- (i) dispose or attempt to dispose of any such land to a native;
- (ii) lease any such land to a native;
- (iii) permit, suffer or allow any native to occupy any such land"."
938 The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon talked about the university, which is something everybody welcomes, but, again, listen to this:Restrictions are imposed on Africans in Southern Rhodesia regarding the possession of liquor and they are not admitted to European hotels save by special arrangement. Separate accommodation in trains, buses and taxicabs is provided for them. They mix freely with Europeans in shops, but are not admitted to European cinemas. In the larger centres there are separate entrances and counters for Africans in post offices and banks. Africans are debarred from participating in State lotteries and from betting.Looking after their morals, I suppose. These are the kind of things that operate in Southern Rhodesia, and if they and the other Territories want to make a success of Federation they should attend to them.
I was pleased to hear the guarantees read out by the Colonial Secretary this afternoon. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember—he probably does—a Tory Colonial Secretary stating that In any dispute between Africans and Europeans the interests of the Africans should be paramount. Have they been? Can anybody say that they have been or are paramount today?
Speaking in the debate on 6th May, the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said:What stronger guarantee could we have than was contained in the Order in Council setting up the new State of Southern Rhodesia and giving it self-government? It is a tremendously strong one, but it did not afford protection to the Africans. When we look at the Order in Council of 1923, Clause 28, we And that nothing shall become a law, but that it shall be reserved by the Governor'whereby natives may be subjected or made liable to any conditions, disabilities or restrictions to which persons of European descent are not also subjected or made liable.' "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1953; Vol. 515, c. 445.]How does that read in face of the colour bar? What protection, up to now, have these guarantees been to these people?
Whenever this business of federation has been discussed, particularly in Southern Rhodesia, some people have shown by their speeches a cynical disregard for all these things. If they want to make a success of this, let them begin now and show some proof that they want to make Federation succeed.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
The right hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wilfred Paling) has spoken with the sincerity and strength of feeling which we expect from him. If there was as much cause for indignation as his speech suggested, it is rather surprising that the Government of which he was a Member was the first to raise this question of Central African Federation. He touched on the differences of trade union policy between the two Northern Colonies and Southern Rhodesia, and there is some substance in what he said. Let me remind him, however, that although trade unions are not legally recognised in Southern Rhodesia, the trade union on the railways does receive de facto recognition. I think that both sides of the House, and no one outside the House more than Sir Godfrey Huggins, will have savoured his reference to Southern Rhodesia as "the nigger in the woodpile."
The Order in Council which we are asked to approve brings to an end discussions that have been going on for a generation. Although our debate has been calmer and more formal than previous debates, the decision that we are taking is of the utmost significance to the whole future of the African Continent and perhaps even of the Commonwealth. I do not want this evening to go into a detailed argument, but to consider for a moment what responsibilities we have assumed, and what are the next steps we have to take.
It is fair to say that in the years between the wars the three Central African Territories were a peaceful portion, I might almost say a passive backwater, of the Commonwealth and Empire. With the war, all that changed. The intensive development of the Copper Belt and the post-war migration of European settlers and European capital, revolutionised the social and economic conditions in the three Territories. At the same time, political developments in the South African Union and in West Africa projected their shadow over European and African alike in Central Africa.
These developments were producing a situation which would have crystallised sooner or later around some issue or other. They were brought to a head by 940 the action of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in raising the question of Central African Federation. Had he not moved in this matter the situation would perhaps have remained dormant a little longer, but not for much longer. The moment he moved, he set in train a process which neither he nor anybody else could have stopped.
The thing that struck me most when I went out in 1951 on the all-party Parliamentary delegation to Central Africa was that a point had been reached where a decision had to be taken one way or another. If the Governments of the United Kingdom and of Southern Rhodesia decided to go ahead with Central African Federation the project would go through, but if one of those two Governments decided against it, the project would be killed stone dead. The decision was not an easy one to take, as I think hon. Gentlemen opposite who fought this matter out at some length upstairs will agree.
There were a few of us on this side who thought from the beginning that Central African Federation was right, and a few hon. Members opposite who thought from the beginning that it was wrong; but most of the House approached this question in a mood of uncertainty and inquiry. It was very natural that they should. The economic and social considerations all pointed in favour of Federation, as the right hon. Member for Llanelly said a few moments ago. But the political considerations were more uncertain. Vocal African opinion and a substantial minority of European opinion were against Federation. The experts were divided. There was the great problem whether we, as democrats, should do what the majority of the people on the spot, the inhabitants, wanted, or whether, as trustees, we should do what we thought best for them.
In face of these perplexities and uncertainties it would have been awfully easy for the Government to have hesitated and to have tried to postpone a decision. To have done so would have been very popular politically, both with the Opposition and certain sections of opinion in the country; but it would have been thoroughly dishonest because it would have meant not the postponement of Federation but its abandonment.
941 It is sometimes rather invidious for back benchers to pour praise upon Ministers, particularly at a time when the Press is talking about a Ministerial reshuffle. Nevertheless I would congratulate the Government most heartily on having made up their minds on a very difficult matter, and having stuck to their decision once they made it and seen their decision through. All of us who have any experience of the Colonies will have heard provincial or district commissioners say at one time or another, "If only the Government had a policy." On this matter the Government have had a policy. They have known their own mind and have made their mind known. That is a great deal.
Central African Federation is, of course, only a beginning. We know the starting point of our journey and we think we know the direction in which we are moving; but whether we shall reach our destination of a great new British Dominion founded on a partnership of all the races no one can say. No one can say because the issue depends not on the contents of this Constitution but on how all the different parties concerned bear themselves in the years to come. We on this side of the House, and hon. Members opposite who have supported the idea of Federation, have put our trust in Sir Godfrey Huggins and Sir Roy Welensky. We believe that they are liberal-minded Englishmen who, had they lived in this country, might well have found their places in this House, on either side. I do not doubt that they will be worthy of our trust; but much will depend upon how far those who come after them will live up to the standards they have set and the principles on which their policies have been founded.
So far the signs have been encouraging. Reference has been made to the multiracial university and to the action of one of the mining companies in raising the whole question of breaking down the industrial colour bar. I would refer also to the decision of the same company to set up a chair of race relations at one of our great universities to stimulate inquiry into this difficult matter. Here I should like to make a suggestion of a different character.
One of the first decisions that the Federal Parliament will have to make will be to choose a Federal capital. It 942 does not seem a very great point, but there is an important symbolism about the location of a capital. I am told that the decision is likely to fall an Salisbury because it is the most developed and, from the European point of view, the healthiest situation. At the risk of being thought fanciful, I should like to press the claims of Livingstone. To call a country "Rhodesia" after Rhodes, and to call its capital "Livingstone" after David Livingstone and situate it by the noblest of African rivers and in sight of the greatest waterfall on earth—these are things which might well inspire the imagination of all the people in Central Africa and perhaps of the countries outside it. "Rhodesia, capital Livingstone, by the Victoria Falls," would not be a bad entry for the encyclopaedia.
A heavy responsibility will fall not only on the Europeans in the Rhodesias but on the African leaders. Whether Federation is, in the long run, to advance or retard African development has been a matter at issue between us, between both sides of the House. Whatever view we take on that matter, there can be no doubt that one of the first results of Federation will be to extend the sphere in which Africans will be politically active, in so far as it creates new posts for Africans to work in politically. I should like to pay my tribute to the very responsible attitude adopted by the African trade unions. I hope that their example will be followed in due course by the African political leaders. They have not followed it yet, but we must not blame them too much. We have to remember the encouragement they have received in their tendency to resist from at any rate some hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House.
Another body which has a great responsibility is the Church. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, in opening this debate, said very truly that nobody can legislate for every aspect of inter-racial relations. This is something that individuals have to decide for themselves and carry out by moral and personal discipline and self-control and here the Churches might be more active than perhaps they have been in the last.
The ultimate responsible for this undertaking rests upon us here, upon the Government and the Opposition. For the Government the setting up of the 943 Federation will present altogether new problems—problems of relations with a dependency which will be neither a Crown Colony in the old sense nor yet a Dominion in the accepted sense; a dependency which will need and will benefit from our influence and guidance, but which would bitterly resent our intrusion or our interference. Whatever views any of us may have taken on this controversy, I am sure that the new Governor-General will enter on his mission with the good wishes of all sides of the House.
May we hope, too, that the Opposition will accept the new situation and do their best to make it work? May we hope that they will show patience and restraint before passing judgment on the first steps of the new Federation? I should like to pay tribute, if it is not embarrassing to them, to those hon. Members opposite who have supported the idea of Federation. It has not been always an easy decision for them to take. It has been unpopular with their own side and, what is even worse from their point of view, popular with our side. But if one day the party opposite again assume office it will have the salutary effect of making it easier for them to start good relations with the new Central African dependency.
I regret the decision of the Opposition to vote against the Government tonight, but having voted, I hope that whatever their fears for the future, they will at least accept that those here and in Africa who have advocated and devised the Federal Scheme have been inspired by the faith that in Central Africa there should arise a new state, in which men of different races who have made the country their home, shall live and work together in a genuine partnership, founded upon Cecil Rhodes's conception of equal rights for all civilised men.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I do not intend to intervene for more than a few moments. The sole question before us today is whether the House, by affirmative vote, will propose an humble Address to Her Majesty praying that Her Majesty will be pleased, by Order in Council, to bring this scheme for the future Government of Central Africa into being.
944 The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies has fulfilled completely the promise that he undertook to this House from the outset, namely, that he would lay the Federal Scheme before the House for its information and that the matter should be debated by the House. It was debated and then he brought in an enabling Bill which then had to be taken through all its stages. That Bill contained the provision that the scheme could only come into effect on an affirmative Resolution by this House, and that is all that is now before us.
From the outset, when I first heard of this scheme two years ago, I have protested against this form of Federation. I have voiced my protest in this House and outside on every possible occasion. There is no more that I can say about it. This is now the beginning of a new era for Central Africa, in which there will be involved the fate of six million people. All I wish to add is that I sincerely hope that all my forecasts will be wrong and that the forecasts made by the Government will be right.
I hope, also, that these people, beginning upon their new career, will succeed in what is expected of them. No words of mine will be used to prevent them from succeeding. All that I can do now is to record for the last time my protest, but I do not utter any word which will make the position more difficult.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
I am sure that the House will have listened to the last words of the Leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) with relief and satisfaction. The climate in which this new ship of State is to be launched is of immense importance. We have had our debates, they have been prolonged and very searching and I, too, am sorry that my party are going into the Division Lobby tonight. I have been a good soldier all my life, but tonight I shall be a defaulter because I feel very strongly that Central African Federation will provide conditions in which African advancement can be accelerated. In no other way can what we all wish to see, the speedier improvement in the lot of the Africans, be brought about.
945 Therefore, although I shall not go into the Division Lobby against my party I shall certainly not go into the Division Lobby with them. [An HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] The hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) need not worry about those of us on this side who do not take the party line on this occasion. We belong to the most democratic party in the world. Our views upon this subject have been known for some time, and although I would not go so far as to say that they are welcomed in some quarters I do not think they are severely frowned upon.
It is very important that we should all realise, especially our friends in Central Africa, that the clock cannot be put back. There has been talk here today about the new artisan class springing up in Central Africa. If Africa is to make progress inevitably there will come into being a new African middle-class, consisting of technicians, managers and administrators. These will provide a new African middle-class and they must be conceded freely and gladly that position in society to which their talents, their energies and their character entitle them. Let us make no mistake about that.
It would be a grievous error if any of our friends in Central Africa looked upon the passage of this imaginative project through this House as providing them with a hammock in which they can relax for the next two decades. Rather must it be a springboard, because we who have supported the Government on this matter feel just as strongly as any of my hon. Friends about the necessity of this partnership of which there has been so much talk. We all require to make an act of faith at this moment.
I think, with all respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wilfred Paling), that the Southern Rhodesians have taken time by the forelock. The no-colour-bar university is a tremendous stride forward. It will be one of the death blows to racial discrimination. I am sure that the question of the trade unions, which my hon. Friend raised with considerable feeling, he being a distinguished ornament of the trade union movement, will be taken care of in the not too distant future.
We must not forget that there are a certain number of Afrikanders in Southern Rhodesia whom Sir Godfrey Huggins was not able to ignore entirely if Federation 946 was to be accepted. Then there are the black Africans. I do not like talking about settlers and Europeans. We should talk about black Africans and white Africans. The black Africans must make an act of faith that the promises which have been made in this matter of partnership will be implemented. If I may say so to some of my colleagues, who have been very forthright in their criticisms, an act of faith is due also from them. This is a very bold project. A multi-racial society is the only hope of Central Africa.
Some of the speeches to which we have listened during the past 12 months have not been very helpful. Their inference has been that the black African has nothing to look forward to and no hope except through the direct intervention of United Kingdom influence. That is a bad thing. It casts a slur on our people, the people who, in Africa, found tribe exterminating tribe, the tyranny of witchcraft and the cruelty of slavery. In a comparatively short time our people have gained the confidence of the Africans by their fair dealing and their character, and they have created a measure of civilisation in Southern Rhodesia and have brought to these Territories a degree of prosperity hitherto unknown. These are the people about whom some very savage things have been said inside and outside this House.
I hope that whoever winds up the debate for the Opposition tonight will bless this scheme, as indeed the Labour Leader in another place did in very striking and statesmanlike language. I am surprised that his remarks have not been quoted in this debate. Speaking on 14th July the former Labour Lord Chancellor used the word "fervent." He said that there would be nobody more fervent in their good wishes for the success of this Measure than those on his side of the House. He said that great good could come out of the Bill. He hoped and expected that all men of good will would bless the Bill. He himself certainly blessed it. I thought that that was a very courageous and statesmanlike utterance, and I hope it will find its echo on the Labour Front Bench in this House tonight.
Whether black African suspicions of white Africans' intentions are justifiable 947 or not will soon be put to the test. I, personally, think that the white Africans will stand up to that test. I do not think there was ever a time when our white African brethren were more in a mood to move towards genuine partnership, and that is very important because there is no doubt that unless the barriers standing in the way of African social and economic advancement are removed the educated African will be a very ready prey to agitators.
I was very glad to learn of the cordiality with which these opening talks between the representatives of the mine owners and of the white African trade union in the Copper Belt had opened. I have thought, on occasions, that this trade union was a body like my friends at the N.F.U., and that they were in some danger of sacrificing real security for a security that would turn out to be illusory. I believe that the emergence of this African middle-class of which I have spoken is inevitable, and I think that all in Central Africa, including Mr. Dendy Young and our friends in the white trade union, would be wise to face this fact now.
I am glad that the Government have gone on with this scheme. I am glad not only because I think it will bring about speedier African advancement, but because I think it reveals signs in this country of a renewed grasp of the simple essentials of power. I believe that it marks a turning point in what, for me at any rate, has not been a very happy period. No nation can be great without the capacity for greatness. I believe that in partnership with the Africans—using the word in its full sense, and speaking as one who will feel himself betrayed unless steps are taken in the direction of a real partnership—we can, as was said by the hon. Member for Preston, North, create in Central Africa a multi-racial society which is an example to the world.
§ 618 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
This is certainly not an occasion for anything of the order of a party speech. Indeed I think this debate has been noteworthy in the main for the absence of party contention. I suggest also that neither is it an occasion on which we should be reading lectures to those on 948 whom we are about to ask Her Majesty to confer this new Constitution. The way in which we give our blessing to this Constitution today is of tremendous importance.
I very much regret that the Opposition consider it necessary to vote against this Motion tonight. After all, Parliament has already passed into law the Act under which this Order in Council has been made. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has said that the Order in Council carries out the scheme that has been prepared. He also asked several questions, but he left the House in no doubt that he agrees that is what this Order in Council is doing. If so, why vote against it?
The former Solicitor-General thought that closer integration between the various parts of the Commonwealth was something which we ought to have in mind in dealing with this matter of Central African Federation, but that closer integration must surely continue to be, as it has been in the past, a matter of consultation, of common feeling, and of overdeveloping common interest between the different parts of the Commonwealth.
I rather regretted the attitude of the right hon. Member for Llanelly. He seemed to be saying, "There are from seven to nine years in which this Constitution has time to prove itself. We are going to watch how the settlers behave during that period, and then we shall have another look at it." The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) said that all the time there is this threat of British veto. He laid emphasis on the question of the veto, and on the fact that the Territorial police, who are to enforce the Federal law, are to remain ultimately under the control of this House.
Surely that is not the right way to send forth from this House this Constitution? What we are doing here is to put into the hands of the people out there the responsibility for their future. Certainly the Secretary of State will be available to guide and to advise but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) said, the more we try to force them along certain lines of action the less likely we shall be to get the kind of response that is desired here and throughout the Commonwealth.
949 The fate of this Central African Federation will lie fairly and squarely upon the shoulders of the people out there. There will be many difficulties to face. There is the great initial difficulty of bringing into line the voting systems of the three Territories. At the moment, one of the Territories has a common electoral roll and the other Territories have something more like communal electorates.
I want to express one slight misgiving in connection with that part of the Constitution which leaves to the Governors of the Territories of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia the task of designating one body for the election of the special African representatives. That seems to come too close to a system of communal representation which will be diametrically opposed to what—judging by today's debate—both sides of this House are aiming at, namely, a common electoral roll. I welcome the fact that a conference is to take place in September with regard to the electoral system of Northern Rhodesia, and hope it will bring nearer this aim.
In parting with this Order in Council, which is the culmination of so many—some may even think too many—of our debates, I want to add my fervent prayer that this Constitution will prove to be the beginning of a great experiment which will lead Africa towards greater prosperity and greater spiritual and moral welfare.
§ 6.25 p.m.
Sir Frank Sosfcice (Sheffield, Neepsend)
I venture to intervene at this stage for, amongst other reasons, the reason that we have on the Order Paper other matters, relating to the British Transport Commission (Compensation to Employees) Regulations, which I know many of my hon. Friends—and, I feel sure, many hon. Members opposite—are anxious to discuss. It therefore seemed to me that it might be convenient, if the House are nearly ready to come to a decision on this matter, to indicate the advice which, speaking from this place, I would venture to tender to my hon. Friends and to the House.
We have now arrived at the concluding stage of a series of, perhaps, the most momentous debates, in their import upon the future of millions of people, that we 950 have had for many years. This scheme for Central African Federation, if put into operation, marks an enormous change in the destinies of untold numbers of people. As has been said on many occasions in this debate, its failure could spell immeasurable disaster; its success would bring great good.
We on this side—and when I say "we," I speak subject to some exceptions—have sought to indicate, with deep sincerity, the forebodings which have haunted us for a long time as we have considered the form of this scheme. We now say, with equal sincerity, that we profoundly hope that those forebodings will turn out to be wholly unfounded. Nobody would be more delighted than my right hon. and hon. Friends who have voiced these forebodings if it should turn out, in the result, that they were without foundation; but we still entertain them.
Nothing has transpired during recent months and weeks which gives us reason to think that the view we have formed is the wrong view. There is still opposition to this scheme. Nothing has yet been done on a large scale to conciliate the fears which Africans undoubtedly entertain with regard to this scheme. The position remains substantially unchanged in that respect. We are greatly heartened at the project for the university which is to embrace all races. We are equally heartened by conversations which may seek to point the way towards some real implementation of the idea of partnership. Without exception, wherever we may sit in the House, we are all agreed that without real partnership this scheme is bound to fail. Therefore, anything which can lead, in however small a degree, to the idea of partnership is welcomed by us as much as it is by hon. Members opposite.
That is all speaking of the future, however, when this Order in Council has been approved by Her Majesty the Queen after we have resolved that it shall be presented to her. Events then must lie in the hands of those on the spot and those here who will shoulder responsibility for the future progress of this scheme.
What we have before us tonight is the question whether we should vote for the approval of the Order in Council. It is 951 on that point that I respectfully desire to tender my advice, which is the same as that which has already been tendered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). When the law is finally formulated, it will be our duty, as good democrats, to abide by that law and do our best to make it prevail. As long as the Order in Council has not been approved, the law has not been finally formulated, because the Order in Council is part of that law.
Throughout the debates we have voiced our objections to the scheme, and the Order in Council is simply that very same scheme. It is almost exactly as it was presaged in the scheme in the earlier White Papers put before the House. Nothing has been changed; it is simply that scheme; and as we disliked that scheme, so equally we dislike the Order in Council. We have very carefully compared it with what was foreboded in the scheme. All the provisions concerning the Africans Affairs Board which we criticised, we hope searchingly, find their place in the Order in Council. All is exactly as the Government indicated it would be. There are minor changes—changes of wording here and there which may be discovered on a nice comparison between the two—but the scheme is simply reproduced in the Order in Council, and as we opposed the scheme, so we must now oppose the Order in Council.
We sought to remove the objectionable. features in the Committee stage of the enabling Bill, but none of them has been removed. That was the occasion for us to put forward our individual objections to the scheme, and we did so. We were met on each occasion, as my right hon. Friend has said, by the answer that the scheme had already been negotiated and that nothing could be done. Nothing was done, and the enabling Bill found its place on the Statute Book. Now, the child of the enabling Act is the draft Order in Council. Consistently with the attitude which they have hitherto adopted, I recommend to my hon. Friends that they must now oppose the Order in Council as they have opposed the scheme. The Order in Council is simply the scheme put in formal language. It is in no way improved.
May I add my word of welcome and congratulation to those offered to the hon. 952 Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams). Glad as we were to hear his very valuable and sincere contribution, I would answer him, when he suggests that we would do well no longer to oppose the Order in Council, that this is the final stage in our debates and, just as we made clear our attitude towards the Government's proposals in previous debates, we must, consistently with that attitude, up to the eleventh hour and the last minute, and in conformity with the duty which we have felt upon us, register in the Division Lobby our disapproval and dislike of the scheme. I hope my hon. Friends will agree with me in doing that when the Question is put.
This is a moment of the utmost significance for vast numbers of people. We on this side of the House have done our best to make known what we regard as the real dangers inherent in the Government's proposal. We can do no more but go into the Division Lobby and, by our votes, for the last time record our protest.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
It has been a splendid thing that so many debates have taken place on this subject, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends have carried their opposition through these debates. Have the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues on the Front Bench considered the reaction to this vote in the Territories—the fact that the Socialist Party, who have shown so much sympathy towards the coloured races, now vote against this Order in Council? It will divide opinion and discourage the men out there who carry the burden. I still think that at the last moment the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends should think this over.
§ Sir F. Soskice
That is a very lengthy question. Of course we have considered most earnestly whether to vote for or against the scheme and, for the reasons I sought to indicate, after that long and earnest consideration we think it is our bounden duty to vote against it.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)
I want to start by adding my congratulations to those from all quarters of the House to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) on 953 his first speech in the House. He made a very valuable contribution and we look forward to hearing him frequently make equally valuable contributions in subsequent debates.
May I, at the outset, take up the question with which the right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) ended his speech, namely, the attitude of the party opposite in deciding to divide the House against this proposed Order in Council? He justified that decision on the ground that it is necessary to register one more protest. I should have thought that the expression of his good will to the law, if it is passed, would have been more suitably given in not dividing and that it would have given a better send off to the law of Federation if, on this occasion, he had decided not to express yet one more protest. Everyone is quite well aware of his misgiving. I make that plea especially to the Leader of the Liberal Party. He has protested again and again. Surely his good wishes to this venture will be more suitably expressed by his voting in favour of the Order in Council.
I want to deal with three or four particular points which were addressed to me from the benches opposite. The first is the question on which I tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to intervene earlier when it was necessary to look at two parallel texts—namely, the omission of the wordsfor the duration of a Parliamentafter the words in relation to the specially elected European member. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that by omitting those words it looked as if the European member would not be appointed for the duration of the Parliament. We are entirely at one in what we seek to do and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be satisfied by the explanation.
Article 15 of the Order in Council, to which I drew his attention, gives a list of the cases in which the specially elected European member vacates his seat. One of these is when the Parliament comes to an end. If one of the reasons for vacating his seat was the cessation of the term of his appointment, it would has been stated there. The fact that it is excluded shows that the object of the scheme has been achieved in exactly the same way and, incidentally, in exactly the 954 same language as is used in Clause 28 (4) of the scheme. I drew attention to the fact that that passage goes on to say:that is to say, he will … vacate his seat upon a dissolution of the Federal Assembly.I think that if the right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend is seized of the point he will probably agree that it is exactly the same.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly also raised the question of a suspended sentence and asked why there had been introduced in the disqualifications in the Order in Council, and not in the scheme, the words "a suspended sentence of imprisonment." The reason is that there would have been a contradiction between the qualifications for being elected and the reasons for vacating. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the scheme he will see that it is provided that a specially elected European member shall cease to be a member if he suffers any sentence of imprisonment. That would cover a suspended sentence.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Would the term "a suspended sentence" include suspension without trial? Suppose a man were detained under emergency regulations without being sentenced. I take it that it is clear from the wording of the Article that such detention would not be included in the words used.
§ Mr. Foster
I think not. There must be a conviction, and then the sentence is suspended. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find it is necessary to bring the two qualifications or disqualifications into line.
I was asked either by the right hon. Gentleman or by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) about the provision which said that the Federal Legislature could legislate for the different parts of the Territory, and he assumed we had special legislation in mind when this provision was put in. I can assure him that that is not so. It was put in, perhaps, out of a lawyer's caution, but I should have thought that that kind of provision might have been necessary, to apply different laws to different parts.
For instance, in the United Kingdom we may have to legislate differently for the East Coast when it suffers flood damage. Unless we have that provision 955 in it might be objected that laws were not of universal application. I do not think it is an important point at all. I am not saying that it should not have been raised, but I do not think that this particular section is of any other than technical importance. I think that in providing the legislative powers of the Federal Legislature it is right to say laws can be different in different parts of the country.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-East drew attention again to his point about the police, and he raised the argument again that it was wrong to provide that the police who, as he put it, were under the ultimate control of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom should be called upon to enforce laws which were Federal. He based his argument on this contention that the laws which the Federal Government might pass might not be popular in the Territories, might be contrary to the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, and that, therefore, we should have the Territorial police, under, as he said, the ultimate control of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, enforcing those laws.
I think that his criticism is misdirected. I should have thought that what has emerged at successive conferences is that one of the cardinal safeguards for the Africans and for the Territories and for the status of the Protectorate is that law and order is a territorial subject and that the police should be territorial, and that though the Federation might have the right to establish a police force at the request of the Territories the Federal police should not go into the Territories except at the request of the Territorial Governments; that would be the alternative to his proposal. The alternative to his proposal would be that the Federal police would have to go into the Territories, already be in existence in the Territories, be imposed on the Territories, for the enforcement of Federal laws to which the Territories objected.
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
The hon. and learned Gentleman will realise that I am not arguing for the establishment of the Federation police as against the Territorial police. I am merely pointing out the anomalous position that results, and 956 on this occasion as on the previous occasion I was pointing out that this raises the need for the Government of the United Kingdom and this House to have a really effective veto over the Federal Legislature legislation. That is the point I wish to make. I do hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will come to the point as to how effective the veto will be, and of what control this House will have over its operation.
§ Mr. Foster
With great respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman, he has slid off the point which I wanted to make. [Laughter.] Yes, it is the point of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He is objecting to Territorial police. Unless his objection is to Federation as a whole there must be some police. The police must enforce the Federal law. If he does not want Territorial police, I will leave it to the House to judge what police he does want. It must be Federal police. Therefore, I suggest to the House that that is the point he has to face, and does not face even in his intervention. He said he was not proposing to have Federal police. Evidently he is not proposing to have police at all. Probably, that would make the Federation not work.
He did not put it on this ground, either: he did not say, "I am in favour of a Territorial police, but in the execution of their duties by the Territorial police we have to be very careful to see the Federal laws agree with the temper and wishes of the inhabitants of the Territories." I could have understood a point put like that, but on the previous occasion and on this occasion he came all out against Territorial police having the enforcement of Federal law. I face him squarely on that, and I say that it is intended that the Territories should have responsibility for law and order, and to that, under the system, any alternative is impossible.
Further to the subject of the hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention, the Constitution provides two cases in which what he calls the veto of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom shall be entitled to operate. I would differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman as to the emphasis being on the Government in the United Kingdom keeping a tight rein on what the Federation does and does not do. We are anticipating and hoping that the working of the 957 Federal Constitution will be such that these clashes will not occur. As to a difference of opinion that may arise about some particular piece of legislation, it has been found from the experience of Southern Rhodesia that negotiations between the parties concerned avoid the clash, and I think it would be regrettable if from this debate the idea went out that the Government are anticipating that there will be serious divisions of opinion about legislation, and that the reserve powers of the Secretary of State will often be called into operation.
In this connection, both the hon. and learned Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman asked about the responsibility of Ministers in answering Questions. It is not a matter on which I can give any authoritative answer or one on which I can bind the House or Mr. Speaker. I can only hazard what I think would be the position. The question of whether any particular Question can or cannot be answered is, naturally, for Mr. Speaker, probably seeking advice from the proper quarter; but I should have thought that the position is fairly clear and depends on well-established principles, and that in so far as Questions are about the responsibility of the Government with regard to the two Northern Territories and the Protectorates, those Questions would be answered by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, because they would be within the sphere of his responsibility.
With regard to Federation Questions sought to be put on those matters, I should think that they would be adjudged as being for the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if they affect his responsibility, and could be put; where he has not got responsibility, not got control, the Questions would not be allowed to be put. I think that in one's experience of Questions about Southern Rhodesia that principle works very well. Naturally, there are always borderline cases which may cause particular difficulty, but the broad lines of the position are clear.
Where a Question is addressed to the Secretary of State, we will say for Commonwealth Relations, about his responsibility, or about the Governor-General or the Governor-General's responsibility to him, I should think, without expressing anything more than a personal opinion in 958 order to try to help, because I have been asked this question, in that case, as his responsibility would be involved, it is likely that Mr. Speaker would apply the principle and allow the Question.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
Does that not mean that the position will remain as it is now in respect of Questions asked about Southern Rhodesia?
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman say whether this veto is to be an effective veto or is to be treated as something nominal which, as a matter of constitutional custom or convention, will not, in fact, be exercised? That is what we are concerned about. We all hope that there will not be clashes. But will this veto be treated as an effective veto or merely as a nominal veto which, as a matter of constitutional convention, will not be exercised, and will it be possible to ask Questions in this House about the exercise of this veto?
§ Mr. Foster
The antithesis on the question about an effective or non-effective veto, I do not accept. The duty of Her Majesty's Government is to live up to their responsibility. If, for instance, legislation has been reported by the African Affairs Board to the Secretary of State, his duty is to examine the reasons given by the African Affairs Board, to consider all the circumstances, and to do his duty. I do not admit that any Government, either Socialist or Conservative, would do otherwise than do its duty according to the Constitution and according to the provisions which had been laid down.
I was also asked questions about the constitutional development in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. The right hon. Member for Llanelly, in a very interesting observation about the future of the Continent, asked about the political advancement in these two Territories and whether anything was likely to be done, or what steps had been taken. I would remind him—he knows this quite well, but for the information of other hon. Members of the House—that in Nyasaland already extra representation of the Africans has already been provided, as a result, I think, of a state- 959 ment which was made in May or June. Provision was made for the appointment of one more African to the Nyasaland Legislative Council.
The situation in Northern Rhodesia is that the principle of extra African representation in the Legislative Council has been accepted. The talks will be resumed in September in the light of that principle and on that basis. So I think that the right hon. Gentleman can be satisfied that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies is fully aware of the need for the gradual political advancement of the Africans in these two Territories, consistent, of course, with all the circumstances which justify that advancement.
I was also asked what negotiation had taken place since the enabling Bill and before the final draft of the Order in Council. The reason for those questions was, of course, the argument from the benches opposite that, if they had put forward sensible Amendments why could not those sensible Amendments be incorporated in the Order in Council by negotiations with the Government? I think that I am putting the argument fairly. I would, first, deny the premise of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not say that the Amendments may not be sensible taken in the abstract—that is a matter for discussion. But what I do say is that in none of the cases in which Amendments were so forcibly argued by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on the occasion of the Committee stage of the enabling Bill was I personally satisfied, nor, I believe, were my right hon. and and hon. Friends, that those Amendments were an improvement to the enabling Bill.
In many cases they ran directly contrary to the whole framework of the scheme in which it was designed to have an enabling Bill, as has been done in other constitutional provisions, to allow Her Majesty's Goverment to bring out a constitution in the form of an Order in Council. Since the enabling Bill was passed, there have undoubtedly been negotiations in the sense that there have been meetings of officials to deal with the wording of the Order in Council. As the right hon. and learned Member for Neep-send said, the scheme is translated into legal language in the Order in Council. 960 There have been no changes of substance, because I am quite sure if there had been right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite would have been the first to draw the attention of the House to any change in substance.
Two questions put to me by the right hon. Member for Llanelly and the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East, show, as the right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend said, purely changes of wording, and it was on those changes of wording and some others to which hon. Members opposite have not drawn attention, but all equally ones of legal phraseology, that meetings of the officials took place to get agreement as to the slight technical changes.
That is the position tonight. We stand ready to go into the Division Lobby, unfortunately, at the wish and request of the party opposite on the matter of this Order in Council. Hon. Members opposite have, on the whole, made temperate speeches. They have wished the Federation well. I only regret that the right hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wilfred Paling) saw fit to launch an indiscriminate attack which was an indictment of his own party when they were in power, because he made wild accusations about the Africans having been betrayed. They were wild accusations against his own Ministers when he was supporting them. It must be regretted that that kind of speech should go out to the world when we are trying this great experiment. We can only hope that the world will give it the amount of attention and the amount of weight which it deserves.
We come, at various moments of history, to a great constitutional departure in Commonwealth matters. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) alluded to the abolition of the slave traffic. This is a landmark in the administration of the Commonwealth. It is satisfactory to see that, as the Leader of the Socialist party in the House of Lords said, it does go forth with the approval of the party opposite in the sense of their approval to make it a working success. I would remind the House that the Leader of the Socialist party in the House of Lords said that it was to be worked by men of distinction for whom he had expressed great admiration, and he welcomed the appointment of the Governor-General.
961 In these circumstances, while regretting the decision of the Socialist Party to divide the House, I will ask them to note the size of the majority, to show that they have been mistaken perhaps as to the unanimity of hon. Members both on the Front Bench and behind them to support them in Federation, because, in my submission,
§ there are many who do not. I therefore commend the Order in Council to the House, and I urge the House to pass it with a substantial majority.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 242.965
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Constitution) Order in Council, 1953, be made in the terms of the Draft laid before this House on 14th July.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.