HC Deb 23 February 1954 vol 524 cc212-5
The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)

I wish to make a statement on the future of Uganda.

The long-term aim of Her Majesty's Government is to build the Protectorate into a self-governing State. In working towards this we shall ensure that Africans play a constantly increasing part in the political institutions of the country, in the Civil Service and in economic development. When self-government is achieved the government of the country will be mainly in the hands of Africans.

The advancement of Africans, and the economic development on which that advancement depends cannot take place without the help of the other races. When the time for self-government eventually comes Her Majesty's Government will wish to be satisfied that the rights of the minority communities resident in Uganda are properly safeguarded in the constitution, but this will not detract from the primarily African character of the country.

I have put in the Library copies of two speeches made by the Governor to the Protectorate Legislature on 20th November last year and on 5th February this year. These speeches set out the comprehensive measures which the Protectorate Government are taking for African advancement, and I commend them to the attention of the House.

Some fears have been expressed that the development of Uganda's economic resources will bring in large numbers of permanent immigrants. These fears are groundless. We must expand mining and secondary industries in order to diversify the economy and to pay for the expansion of social and other services. For this, outside capital and technical skill are needed and must have their proper reward. But there will be safeguards to ensure that the future interests of the Africans are not prejudiced.

There will be strict control of immigration and of the alienation of land, and the Uganda Government and industry itself will train Africans for higher positions, and ensure proper conditions of labour. No industrial colour bar will be tolerated in Uganda. The Governor is ready to discuss with African representatives any suggestions they may make to help allay any fears, if such still remain.

It is too early to forecast the form of the constitution of Uganda when self-government is eventually achieved, though it is clear that only as a united country will Uganda be strong enough and prosperous enough to meet the growing needs of the people. There are, however, constitutional questions relating to Buganda—in particular the future relations between the Kabakaship, the Ministers and the Great Lukiko, and the Legislative Council—which must be looked at now so that we can decide on what lines it is best for these relationships to develop.

The Baganda themselves should clearly take a leading part in working out these problems. To help in this, the Governor and I have agreed that an independent expert should be invited to go out to Uganda. He will consult with representatives of the Baganda and with the Protectorate Government to help reach agreed recommendations for her Majesty's Government to consider. In the meantime I have agreed that the Buganda reforms announced in March, 1953, need not be held up.

In Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole, the Councils are becoming more representative. I do not think that there will be any difficulties, but the Governor will arrange for the expert to talk over with the rulers of these districts their future relationships with their councils, if they so wish.

The Governor will pursue these matters on his return to Uganda, and as far as Buganda is concerned will discuss them with the Regents and will make an early statement to the Lukiko.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The Secretary of State has made a very important statement which we shall want to consider in detail. May I say how much we welcome his reaffirmation of the long-term policy on Uganda which he and the Governor outlined some time ago? In particular, we welcome the assurances contained in his statement, and amplified in the speeches to which he has referred—which I hope all hon. Members will read—that in the progress of the economic development there will be such measures taken as will allay the fears expressed by Africans.

May I ask the Secretary of State a question about the discussions on the future relationships of the Great Lukiko with Buganda and Uganda? We welcome those discussions. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us the name of the expert who is to accompany the Governor and have discussions? I gather that he will have no terms of reference, but will discuss the situation generally, having regard to any necessary revision of the old agreements. I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to assure us that those discussions will take place in the immediate future.

Mr. Lyttelton

I am not in a position to give the right hon. Gentleman the name of the expert. At the present moment we are conducting a very violent courtship of an expert, and we hope that he will succumb to our blandishments. The idea is that he should go out there shortly—perhaps in two or three months.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider having further discussions with the Kabaka in the light of the admirable statement which he has just made, which might possibly alter the Kabaka's views?

Mr. Lyttelton

No, Sir. I must make it quite clear that our decision in the matter is final.

Mr. T. Reid

Knowing, as he does, the grave defects in the Kabaka's character, will the right hon. Gentleman see that on no account is this man imposed as ruler in Buganda?

Mr. Lyttelton

There is a legal action pending, and the less I say about the matter the better, but I must make it quite clear that the decision of Her Majesty's Government is final.

Sir R. Acland

Can the Minister indicate now, or publish a statement later, showing what are the points on which the Kabaka is unwilling to share Her Majesty's Government's views about the future development of the country? If those points turn out to be quite unsubstantial, could not this matter be reconsidered? Must the door be closed, in view of the most serious representations which were made by the very able deputation which came to see us from that country in recent weeks?

Mr. Lyttelton

No, Sir. I am afraid that the matter is now closed as far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned.

Mr. Fenner Brockway

I appreciate the general principles of the right hon. Gentleman's statement. May I ask him whether, at the end of the discussions about the relationship of the Kabaka to the Baganda, the Governor and the Lukiko, it will be possible for the Lukiko to have a free choice of their Kabaka?

Mr. Lyttelton

We must await the outcome of the discussions. I have frequently asked the hon. Member not to cast me for the role of a prophet.

Mrs. White

On the economic side, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether steps will be taken to see that those in managerial positions in industry and commerce in Uganda underwrite publicly the principles set out in his statement?

Mr. Lyttelton

That is quite another question.