HC Deb 04 June 1954 vol 528 cc1664-91

2.25 p.m.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

I want to raise now the question of the declaration of a state of emergency in the province of Buganda. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) handed over the government of the Colonies to the present Secretary of State, he handed over the vast majority of them in a peaceful state. Not the least peaceful was the province of Buganda.

In Uganda there was a notable contrast to the conditions in Kenya. I was in East Africa during that time, and I went across the border from one place to the other. I noticed at once the difference in atmosphere. There was no atmosphere, as there was in Kenya, of frustration and, in many cases, hatred and bitterness. There was instead an atmosphere of friendliness, an atmosphere of a people who seemed to be basically contented. But in a very short time the Secretary of State managed so to stir up feeling as to make it necessary, according to him, to exile the ruler of the province of Buganda.

I do not intend to enter into a controversy as to the rightness or wrongness of the exile of the Kabaka. I intend to confine myself today to the present state of emergency. I would only say about the Kabaka's exile that the justification for it, so we understood at the time, was that it would re-establish peace.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies said on 2nd December, 1953: We have — been moved by one guiding principle, that of our desire to secure the continued advancement of all the peoples of the Protectorate, including, not least, the people of Buganda itself."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 1252.] That was the aim of the Secretary of State. That was why he took the action he did. That was why he sent the Kabaka out of the country.

The result is that instead there is a state of emergency, a state of emergency which, according to Mr. Speaker, when he gave his Ruling on Tuesday, is not a new matter so as to bring it within the Standing Order on the ground of emergency.

We have had it before"— said Mr. Speaker— and I do not find that it comes within the Standing Order. In other words, since the right hon. Gentleman assumed power, a state of emergency in Buganda has become, apparently, a fairly normal occurrence. That does not seem to me to be a very satisfactory state of affairs.

Let us examine the Secretary of State's case so far as we have heard it. I hope that we shall hear more this afternoon from the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs. I hope we shall hear, at any rate, an attempt to justify what seems the most extraordinary action to have been taken, because the Secretary of State certainly has not justified it in his statement.

The Secretary of State told the House that: This step has been taken because an attempted trade boycott is now being intensified by threats and intimidation to the public in Buganda. People were being told to boycott the buying of everything but 'bare necessities'. The right hon. Gentleman said that the boycott started fairly peaceably but that people have been forcibly prevented from selling and buying goods. … Intimidation has greatly increased, and criminal elements have been taking advantage of the situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st June, 1954; Vol. 528, c. 1090–4.] Criminal elements everywhere take advantage of difficult situations. That is not a reason for the right hon. Gentleman to introduce a state of emergency. We should like to know considerably more about what has been done of a criminal nature.

We on this side take the view that a peaceful boycott of businesses is a perfectly legitimate weapon to use. We want to know categorically from the Minister of State whether he holds that view, because on Tuesday the Secretary of State refused to answer the question when it was addressed to him by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly.

Is the boycott a general boycott? I understand that it is directed in particular at certain businesses those owned and controlled by the gentleman who is, I think, the Leader of the Europeans in the Legislative Assembly—Mr. Bird. Mr. Bird has a very profitable business in beer, and he has a small sideline in bicycles. It has been decided by some people in Uganda that they will not buy Mr. Bird's beer or bicycles, and I want to know to what extent this fact has made the Secretary of State determine that it is necessary to prevent a boycott. Is he concerned at Mr. Bird's loss of trade or the attack made upon him by way of a peaceful boycott of his goods?

The Secretary of State has given us what at first sight would seem a very powerful reason in favour of the action he has taken. He said in the House on Tuesday: The measures which the Government of Uganda have decided to take have the unanimous support of the unofficial Members of the Legislative Council, both Africans and others."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st June, 1954; Vol. 528, c. 1090.] If that is true, that is certainly a matter of very great significance, but I want to question the Minister on that. Is it not a fact that the members of the Legislative Council are selected and not elected? I understand that they are nominated by the Governor. It is not unnatural, therefore, that they should support any action of the Government. and their support cannot be taken as a guarantee that the people of the provinces are in agreement with that action.

I understand also—and here I am open to correction—that the members called cross-bench members, which is an interesting experiment the Governor has introduced, are nominated members, and on important questions necessitating what we in this House call a three-line Whip. they have to vote with the Government. If that is so, I suppose the imposing of Emergency Regulations in Uganda would be the kind of thing for which a three-line Whip would he necessary if one were issued at all.

Since then we have heard—and this has come to light only this morning—that there has been the dismissal of some eight chiefs. Some of them were important chiefs, some of them less important, but their dismissal shows that the action the Government have taken is not finished but is being pursued still further in the dismissal of people who have been appointed chiefs of their own provinces and districts.

I should like to put one or two further questions to the Minister. We know that Professor Hancock is due to go shortly to Uganda to report on the future constitution of the country. We hope his visit will not be postponed by the Emergency Regulations; that, in fact, he will be able to carry on his investigations in exactly the same way as it was intended that he should, and we should like an assurance from the Minister on that point. I hope the Minister will also re-affirm the Government's policy, which they have stated before, that they have no intention of forcing the people of Buganda to change their Kabaka. It may be that the Kabaka has been exiled and is not living in the country, but it is for the people of Buganda themselves to decide any change of Kabaka. We think it would be wrong to force such a position upon them, and I understand that the Secretary of State takes that view. I hope the Minister will confirm that that is the case.

There is a particular reason why I put this question to the Minister. Recently a Press statement was issued by Mr. E. M. K. Mulira, a representative of the Buganda Lukiko, which, I understand, was not very much used by the Press, although the intention was that it should receive full publicity in this country. The statement includes these paragraphs: The work of the British Resident Commissioner in Buganda is to advise the Kabaka of Buganda and his ministers on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. The present Resident, Mr. Birch, however, instead of advising appears to be intent on undermining our native custom and the authority of the Great Lukiko. After the Lukiko passed a resolution refusing to elect a new Kabaka, the Resident has tried to go direct to members of the Lukiko and persuade them to go back on their resolution. He has also backed elements in the country who are endeavouring to go against the wishes and decisions of the Lukiko in this matter. We protest very strongly against such a policy which aims at dividing our people into two rival factions. I should like to know whether it is the Minister's view that it is right for the Resident deliberately to try and persuade the people of Buganda to go back on a decision and to alter what their Lukiko has already decided to do.

I should also like to ask the Minister for some enlightenment about the position of the Under-Secretary of State, the Earl of Munster. I find it difficult to understand what his position is. It is reported in "The Times" that he was going to accompany the Governor on a visit to the northern part of Uganda. On the other hand, I am informed elsewhere that he is only stopping off for a moment or two on his way to Mauritius. It seems rather peculiar that at the moment when the Secretary of State declares a state of emergency the Under-Secretary should be in the district, half officially and half unofficially, and that nobody seems to know what he is doing. May we have some information about the presence of the Under-Secretary in Uganda during the declaration of the state of emergency?

This is a tragedy for Uganda. Whatever else may be said about it, it is something which nobody on either side of this House would have wished to happen. The Secretary of State may say that it was forced upon him, and we may say he forced it upon the country, but in either case it is a tragedy. Not long ago Her Majesty the Queen opened the great new dam at Owen Falls and it was hoped—indeed, it is still hoped—that there will be great developments in Uganda which will transform that country into one of the most prosperous in Africa. We do not want this hope of economic development to be bedevilled by political considerations, and we hope that that will not be the case.

But that it not all. We are concerned not only with the question of Uganda, but with the effect that this step will have on every Colony in the British Empire. We cannot take action like this without it having an effect upon other territories. The constant suppression of democratic government cannot be conducive to a feeling of good will towards democracy. Today democracy is on trial in many Colonies. It is a new experiment. It is something which the people of many Colonies think they might like to take up and try. There are many people outside the Colonies, and, in particular, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, who would only be too ready to persuade them against undertaking this great experiment in democracy.

If we are to persuade them to go on with democracy because it is the best system of government, then we in this country must show that we have faith in it. We hope in this case that the Secretary of State will demonstrate it at the earliest possible moment by removing the Emergency Regulations which in the province of Buganda have put a temporary end to democracy. We hope the emergency will soon be ended so that democracy may once again flourish, and the people of Uganda may go forward to that state of prosperity, happiness and contentment which we all desire.

2.40 p.m.

Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)

I am sure that the House was touched by the tribute the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) paid to his right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. Griffiths) and to his tenure of office as Secretary of State for the Colonies. He said that when his right hon. Friend left office he had left the Colonial Empire in perfect peace and had handed it over to my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State in that condition. Of course there was perfect peace in Malaya—

Mr. Dugdale

If I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman for a moment, I did not say that. I said that, generally speaking, there was peace in most territories. Of course there was not peace in Malaya, and I would not say anything as stupid as that.

Mr. Alport

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman admits it. As far as I know, there was perfect peace in Uganda but a few years before, in 1949, under the administration not of the right hon. Gentleman but of the previous Secretary of State, there had not been perfect peace. In fact, there had been serious riots. Those riots led to the creation of a state of emergency and, as a result, nine Africans were shot and 1.000 were arrested.

That was the result of the failure of the previous Government to take the action which has been taken by the present Governor of Uganda, with the consent of my right hon. Friend, to forestall similar happenings now. It is hard that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues on the other side of the House should condemn an act of policy designed to prevent the situation from deteriorating until it would be necessary for us to take the steps which they took in the circumstances of 1949.

I think 1 should begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) upon obtaining in the shape of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich another notable recruit to his group of experts on colonial policy. We on this side of the House will watch with great interest the progress of the right hon. Gentleman in his new position. I would tell him, however, that he has a long way to go before he will fulfil the exacting requirements in eloquence and misrepresentation which are so essential if he is to perform his functions as a spokesman of that group in this House.

At present he fails to get that subtle break in his voice which is so necessary when he refers to the brutalities of my right hon. Friend the present Colonial Secretary. What is more, he had some of his facts right, and it is well known that this is unnecessary when arguing in this House from below the Gangway the case against the Government and their colonial policy. There is, for instance, the classic example of the article in the "Tribune" which came from the pen of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough on British Guiana. In that article the hon. Gentleman said that the Government had sent 5,000 troops to preserve law and order at a time when a company of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the band, and the Regimental goat, had arrived in the territory.

However, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman may progress, and one of these days he may be made an honorary vice-president of the Uganda National Congress and thereby emulate the lead given to him by others of his hon. and right hon. Friends on that side of the House. If he wants some tips on how to undermine the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and how to do his best to encourage certain elements in Colonial Territories in their subversion and intimidation of law-abiding citizens, I would recommend him to study the various questions raised in this House at the time of the emergency in Uganda in 1949.

If the right hon. Gentleman does that, he will see that those questions were raised exclusively by two distinguished Members of Parliament, Mr. Piratin and Mr. Gallagher. One of his predecessors as Under-Secretary, now the noble Lord Ogmore, refused to make any statement. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, unless he allows his imagination to take full control of his integrity, he will never get the coverage in the colonial vernacular Press which is so essential to that group below the Gangway, nor will he get honorary mention in "Pravda" or "Izvestia."

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I happen to be sitting below the Gangway and certain aspersions are being made in general terms about those of us who are sitting here—

Mr. Alport

The hon. Lady, whose point of view I respect, knows as well as I do that I am not referring to her. Those "who sit below the Gangway" are all too well known, and the comprehensive designation is well known in this House and in the country generally.

What really is the issue at the present moment? The right hon. Gentleman talked about democracy in Uganda. I was in Uganda for a short time about two or three months ago, and I spoke with the present Senior Regent, Mr. Paulo Kavauma. He was receiving constant threats by letter and in other ways against himself and his family. He was one of those who were in responsible positions in the Protectorate, who was being pressed by the elements responsible for the creation of the state of emergency to follow policies with which he did not agree. He undertook a difficult political rôle in the present situation there because he believed it was essential that somebody who could show leadership should step into the gap created by the deposing of the Kabaka, and that he should hold the fort and try to tide his country over these difficult times.

He is a man whose integrity and honesty is not challenged in this House as far as I know. Not only is he himself being subjected to intimidation, but also his wife and family. And the right hon. Gentleman, who knows much better than that because he has been to Uganda, talks about the importance of keeping democracy going in Uganda at the present time. Does he regard that kind of intimidation, not merely the boycotting of goods, as being a proper weapon of democracy? It not, what action would he be prepared to take to prevent it?

Mr. Dugdale

I have said that I am waiting for the Minister to state what is the intimidation which has caused the Government to take the action they have taken. It is for the Minister to answer that question. I am prepared to hear what he has to say upon the matter and to note the facts that he gives.

Mr. Alport

I see; the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to take them from me or from the Senior Regent of Uganda. He is not prepared to believe any evidence except what he gets from the Minister. I have no doubt that the Minister has it at his disposal, but let me assist the Minister by giving some personal experiences and some evidence of the intimidation that is going on. The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question. Would he be prepared to support the creation of a state of emergency in Uganda at the present time? He knows perfectly well that if he were still Minister of State to the right hon. Member for Llanelly, he would do that. What is more, he would today be supporting the present Governor of Uganda in his attempts to tide his country over the present crisis; at least I hope he would. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman for Llanelly would be doing so.

What is the purpose of an economic boycott in Uganda? It is simple. There has been no fundamental unrest in Uganda during the last few months There has been no political agitation comparable with the political agitation necessary if those who are opposed to the present régime are to succeed in overturning it. The reason for it has been that this Protectorate is extremely prosperous economically. The people there have made large sums of money out of a successful cotton crop, out of an extremely successful maize crop, out of the present extremely favourable price of coffee. They are economically content, and therefore the object of those who wish to subvert the present régime must be to create a situation in which the present economic prosperity is replaced by economic distress.

Therefore, what could be an easier and more effective way of reaching their objective than to paralyse the normal peaceful trade within the Territory? There we have an example of the use of a political weapon, which is a familiar sight. We have seen it in many other parts of the world. It is a political weapon which is being used in Kenya at present. The object in Uganda is a much more practical one. It is to create conditions of economic distress which would enable agitators to make progress.

The question which the right hon Member for Llanelly, put, although a fair one, was not completely apposite to the present situation. A peaceful boycott or strike is something which we accept as part of life, but a boycott which is intended to create circumstances in which, in a prosperous country, agitation and subversion can thrive is not a movement that can be ignored by any Government. After consideration, the right hon. Gentleman will probably agree.

It is most unfortunate that every time action is taken by the Governor of Uganda to try to move the Protectorate forward to new economic and political development, his action, which is supported by the Secretary of State, is always brought into question by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. They must realise that it is their speeches in a debate of this sort which will be reported in the vernacular Press. The speech of my right hon. Friend in reply and even the speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly—and still less my speech—will never be reported in the vernacular Press.

All the time, it is the speeches of hon. Members opposite which are reported there. Whatever they say will go round Uganda. They will be believed to be speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, and they will be believed to be encouraging the activities of the Uganda National Congress. I can understand that in the case of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, because I understand that he is connected with that organisation, but a very severe responsibility rests upon the shoulders of a Privy Councillor, like the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, in lending himself to that movement.

What happens as a result of all this? It makes the position of the most progressive and liberal-minded Governor in Uganda, Sir Andrew Cohen, increasingly difficult. Sir Andrew is there, appointed as a servant of the Crown. It also makes it extremely difficult for men of good will, integrity and leadership, like the Regent, Mr. Paul Kavauma, to carry on his work of healing the wounds which have been caused during the last few months. I agree that such wounds exist, but I believe it to be in the interests of Buganda and the people of Uganda as a whole that tranquility and political progress should be restored to tie Protectorate.

It would be out of order to refer to the circumstances of the Kabaka's deposition because the matter is sub judice. However, whatever we may feel about it, it must be the wish of men of good will who have the interests of Buganda at heart to try to restore the position and help the people of Buganda towards more prosperous and more stable times.

It is a Protectorate which, I am sure the right hon. Member for Llanelly will agree, is one of the most promising in the whole of Africa. It is not impoverished. It has immense resources. It was the policy of the right hon. Gentleman's Administration, and it is the policy of my right hon. Friend's Administration, to move that Protectorate forward on democratic lines. Because of its basis of education and religious influence, of all the Protectorates in East Africa this one has the best chance of producing a model African democracy.

That is precisely what Sir Andrew Cohen went out there to do. Are hon. Gentlemen opposite sitting roughly in the area below the Gangway suggesting that Sir Andrew Cohen is smashing the objective of his life and the whole of his policy by some sleight-of-hand as a result of a warped attitude brought about by the Colonial Secretary? That is the sort of impression which hon. Members are giving out in Uganda at the present time.

Mr. Dugdale

Might I make one point clear? We are attacking the Government which is represented by the Secretary of State. We do not think it right that the Secretary of State, as I am sure the Minister of State will not do, should hide behind the Governor. We consider that he should recognise that it is his responsibility that these decisions are being made.

Mr. Alport

Nobody ever said that it was not the Secretary of State's responsibility. The Secretary of State is certainly not likely to hide behind anyone. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite must realise that what they do and say in this House does not just end here but goes out to Africa, and it makes the position of colonial servants, whether they are governors, administrative officers or district commissioners, increasingly difficult. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite should think carefully before they decide to take a line on a matter of this sort. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have held positions at the Colonial Office should take particular care about matters which may adversely affect faithful colonial servants Who are trying to do their best for the African peoples.

If we are not allowed to mention the fact that there is an interest attaching to the Governor of Uganda in this matter, who is to speak for these people? As the right hon. Gentleman said, it is not right for the Minister of State to draw the Governor's name into the matter. But surely there is no reason why a private Member should not do so.

We have had this debate time and time again. We have had precisely the same subject raised by different people. Sometimes it is by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, sometimes it is the hon. Member for Eton and Slough and sometimes it is the hon. Member for Oldham. Weft (Mr. Hale), but it is always the same theme, an attempt to show that Her Majesty's Government are wrong in every action that they take in the sphere of colonial affairs. it is an attempt to show that the Europeans out there are always in the wrong. Sometimes they are wrong—nobody denies that—but sometimes they are in the right.

Sometimes it behoves right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to be more careful about their action and their approach, because if they really believe in democracy and the progress of Africa and the Africans, the best thing which they can often do in order to help is to keep quiet instead of trying to score party points—as the right hon. Gentleman is apparently trying to do on his own admission—in this House at the expense of the future of the African Colonies as a whole.

3.0 p.m.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

I propose to take little notice of the ill-tempered, snobbish, patronising and unhelpful speech to which the House has just listened from the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport). I would only remark that the spirit of that speech is responsible for the growing absence of confidence by Africans and colonial people in the representatives in this House.

Mr. Alport

Do those remarks refer to Nigeria and the Gold Coast as well?

Mr. Brockway

My remarks were referring to the hon. Gentleman, and I can promise him that they will be very brief. Only two matters to which I want to make reference arise from that speech. One is his remark about my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies. I visited Uganda before my right hon. Friend was Minister and afterwards. He was responsible for an extraordinary change in that country by lifting the bans from political organisations and economic organisations, so that movements which were banned before he came to office were not banned at the end of it. I went to the Imperial Hotel at Kampala and representatives of the Government were meeting with representatives of the very organisations which had been banned. My right hon. Friend has no reason at all to be apologetic about the changes in Uganda during his administration.

The other remark I want to make has reference to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who was Minister of State for Colonial Affairs. I have rarely heard in this House such indecent patronage as was expressed by the hon. Member for Colchester in his reference to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, who has been in the Colonial Office and has served the Colonies. The hon. Gentleman has the impudence to rise on those benches and utter the kind of remark which he has done about my right hon. Friend. I hope that when the hon. Gentleman reads his own speech in HANSARD he will be as ashamed of it as many other hon. Members of this House are.

I now want to turn to the subject of today's discussion. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich that it is a tragedy that Uganda should be in its present position. It had been regarded as a model among our Protectorates. Those who have been there have seen the contrast with Kenya, as my right hon. Friend remarked, and noted the degree to which the population has become educated, largely as the result of the activities of both Anglican and Catholic missionary societies. We have been full of hope.

That this model Protectorate should now be in the position where, a few weeks ago, a state of emergency had to be declared, and now another state of emergency has been declared, where leaders of the very organisations who were being received by Members of the Government only 15 months ago are now being deported, and where meetings are being prohibited; that Uganda should have deteriorated to that position, must be a tragedy in all our minds.

That is particularly the case because of the neighbourhood of the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya. The violence, atrocities and obscenities in Kenya distress us. I assure hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench, even though I cannot convince Members on the back bench behind them, that in raising this matter our concern is sincerely for the good of the people of Uganda.

My first point is whether there was really a necessity to declare a state of emergency. I am sure that the Minister will agree that that ought to be the last step and not the first step when any struggle arises in the Colonies. We have read the statement of the Governor and have listened to the statement of the Colonial Secretary in this House. Neither of those statements convinces us that it was necessary to have a state of emergency declared at all.

There has been no evidence of personal violence. When I asked the Colonial Secretary in the House if he could quote a single case of physical violence against a person, he was unable to do so. The only suggestion that I have seen of personal violence is in the later statement by the Governor who remarks that one man's hand was cut off. We deplore that, but that one incident, in our view, does not justify the Government calling a special emergency.

I cannot help feeling that a very big factor in the declaration of the state of emergency has been the position of influence held by those who have large commercial interests in the Colony and in the Protectorate of Uganda. I draw attention to the report in the "Manchester Guardian" of last Saturday, that certain members of the Legislative Council had threatened to resign unless the Governor did five things: declared a state of emergency; deported the Congress leaders; dismissed disloyal chiefs; mobilised the police; and suspended native administration in Buganda.

We should bear in mind when the Colonial Secretary says that the Legislative Council had been unanimous in advocating a declaration of a state of emergency, that the members of that Council, to a large degree, represent the commercial interests in Uganda who are hurt by the boycott now being carried on by the African people. When the Colonial Secretary makes a special point of the fact that the Buganda representatives supported the declaration of a state of emergency, we should remember that those Buganda representatives are there against the wishes of the people of Buganda, against the determination of the Parliament of Buganda—the Lukiko— and that the people of Buganda themselves have no confidence and no faith in these nominated members of the Legislative Council.

Because of the short time available, I do not want to press those points further. I conclude by saying that there is a great danger that a situation may begin in Uganda which may deteriorate and which may ultimately become a situation of violence. As in other Colonies, there are two major streams of thought among the African people. One is represented by the Uganda National Congress. Again and again it has appealed to its members against methods of violence and insisted upon its members that they should not resort to violence. Not only that, but it has advised them to refrain from any kind of intimidation.

Mr. Alport

On a point of order. May I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker? When a Member has some interest in an overseas territory, and the subject is under discussion in this House, it is usual for him to declare his interest. If the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) has any concern or connection with the Uganda National Congress, would not it be right for him to declare that fact in this House while speaking on the subject?

Mr. Speaker

It is usual for hon. Members to declare their interest in any matter. I was not aware that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) had any pecuniary interest, or anything of that sort, in the Congress.

Mr. Brockway

I am very ready indeed to declare my interest. I have, of course, no pecuniary interest at all. I do happen to be chairman of an organisation to which the Uganda National Congress is affiliated, but not a single dime, or cent or halfpenny has ever come to me as a result of that.

Mr. Alport

May I ask if it has come to the hon. Member's organisation?

Mr. Speaker

That is not relevant.

Mr. Brockway

Again, I am willing to be perfectly frank. That body is affiliated to an international organisation which has representatives of that movement on its committee. They decide how the funds shall be distributed. I am surprised—no, I am not surprised because it is characteristic of the hon. Gentleman, but it was a remark which surely ought not to be relevant to a debate of this kind.

In Uganda, there are these two streams of thought. There is the stream represented by the Uganda National Congress, which deplores violence and intimidation and uses all its influence against them. On the other hand, one recognises that in Uganda there is a small minority who would resort to other methods.

The real case against the Government is that they are making enemies of the very sections of the African people with whom we should be co-operating and with whom, if we did co-operate, we could hope to progress towards self-government without conflict and without violence. The result of the policy which the Government are pursuing—the challenge to it and the resentment which naturally comes from it—is to strengthen the very forces of violence and intimidation which this state of emergency is supposed to preclude.

I hope very much that as a result of this afternoon's discussion, policies will be pursued by the Government which will make for the more co-operative development of Uganda in its social and economic progress towards its independence.

3.12 p.m.

The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)

In this debate on the imposition of a state of emergency in Buganda there is one point on which we would all certainly agree. It is a tragedy that Uganda finds itself in this situation. I do not want to reopen the controversy between the two sides, but 1 believe that speeches in this House—sometimes delivered more with thought to the opposite side of the House than to the outside world—have a very serious effect, on occasions, in these territories, and 1 think we must recognise the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport).

I should like to make it quite clear from the very beginning that the re-imposition by the Governor of Uganda of a state of emergency in Buganda has no direct, and little indirect, connection with the deposition of the Kabaka. Some people here seemed to think that it had, and some currency was given to that belief by the B.B.C. news bulletin of 31st May which, by an error, said that it was connected with the deportation of the Kabaka.

This step which was taken by the Governor—whom we all know, and whom I think we all, on both sides, respect—was not taken lightly, but after the very fullest consideration. It was taken to enable the Uganda Government to carry out their first duty, which is to maintain law and order, and to protect the law-abiding public from the activities of a small number of irresponsible people who had been taking certain action in connection with a boycott.

This boycott was initiated on 1st May by the Uganda National Congress against the Deportation Ordinance. It had nothing to do with the Kabaka. The object was presumably to secure the release of Mr. Kiwanuka, the acting President of the Congress, against whom an order had been made under that ordinance. I have been asked again, as the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) asked my right hon. Friend the other day, whether I object to a boycott as such.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

A peaceful boycott.

Mr. Hopkinson

Yes, a peaceful boycott. I do not propose, any more than my right hon. Friend did, to go into this matter on the question of principle, but I would point out that from 1st May until intimidation started to become rife, no action was taken against the boycott. The boycott went on.

I should like to tell the House something of the effects of this boycott. At first, it had very little effect and it failed to achieve any concrete results. It was not directed mainly against the businesses of big commercial interests as has been suggested. It was directed mainly against non-African trade, and especially against the small Asian traders—the small Indian traders. Those are the people who were largely affected; and, as they were affected, African shoppers were affected, too. In the course of time it spread to African shops as well. Recently its effects have been increasing, and in the last few days of May the situation became very serious. Criminal elements were beginning to take advantage of the position. I will have something to say about that a little later.

This deterioration was due to intimidation in a number of different forms. There were such things as the forcible prevention of selling and buying of goods. There was compulsion on people to return goods which they had bought. There was action consisting of breaking or throwing away goods which had been bought. There was some destruction of coffee trees belonging to people who had bought goods. There were threats to lives and property.

There were people who stood or sat outside shops taking the names of those who went in, and the right hon. Gentleman will know what sort of effect that can produce upon Africans. Two Baganda members of the Legislative Council have had anonymous threats made against their lives and properties. Another up-country African member of the Legislative Council who was making purchases in Kampala was followed all the while he did so. We all know what impression that sort of thing can create in the minds of people in Africa.

This deterioration took place roughly in the last week in May, and criminal elements began to take advantage of it. Reports were received from the countryside of people in those districts who were going in terror owing to threats of attacks by gangs of motorised thieves operating at night.

Mr. Dugdale

Were any attacks actually made? It seems to me to be important that we should know whether any attacks were actually made, or whether people were in terror of attacks.

Mr. Hopkinson

As far as we know, there has been no actual bloodshed or loss of life, but there have been robberies. To the extent that there has not been loss of life, the Government's action may be regarded in a sense as a precautionary measure.

Mr. Alport

Following information which I have received from a perfectly reliable source, may I say that there have been two Africans attacked in Katwe, and both have been taken to hospital. Therefore, it appears that there has been some violence.

Mr. Hopkinson

That may well be. I merely say that the official information is that there have been no attacks. I feel quite certain that no one in this House would desire that action in a matter of this sort should be delayed until innocent people have been killed or molested. I am sure that all hon. Members would agree that it would not be right that people should be hurt or killed merely because they are trying to go about their ordinary business.

While greatly regretting the necessity for this action, my right hon. Friend has made it quite clear to the Governor that he appreciates the need for it, and has assured him of his fullest support. The Government of Uganda have also received the support both of the Regents of Buganda and of the Legislative Council. There are 20 Africans in the Legislative Council, including six from Buganda. Among all these, as well as among non-Africans, there has been a strong feeling that action had to be taken. There was no question of a formal vote; there was a motion with regard to security in general and, following that, a series of private meetings between the Governor and members of the Legislative Council.

Mr. Bassude, who seconded the motion about security, and is a Muganda representative, said: Before I go any further, I should like to pay tribute to my own countrymen for the way they have conducted themselves under such trying conditions … I have always heard of cold wars with other countries … I do not know whether cold war is the correct description, but I do suspect that that sort of war is knocking at our doorstep these days. That was said by a Muganda representative in the Legislative Council.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the Minister of State answer the question which I asked before? Were these members from Buganda elected, or nominated by the Government?

Mr. Hopkinson

They are certainly nominated, but I think we can all trust Sir Andrew Cohen to nominate people who would properly represent the interests of Buganda.

The Regents of Buganda themselves were told in advance that the emergency was to be imposed, and the Katikiro, the Prime Minister, to whom my hon. Friend has paid such a well-deserved tribute, said in a broadcast that the situation was getting worse and that more threats were being made on the people. He said that Baganda Ministers had been asked to approach the Protectorate Government to ensure that something was done. In view of that, he said, the Governor's action must come as a relief to all responsible citizens. He said that the state of emergency would not interfere with the peaceful life of the people, but only with those who made trouble.

The second Senior Regent, the Omulamuzi, the Chief Justice, who led the delegation which came over here and who many hon. Members know personally, said in another broadcast, after giving examples of threats, and so on: … in view of that it was only proper for the Government to interfere before matters became worse. Prevention is better than cure. He went on to refer to what he called the need for preventing harm being done before people's homes were burnt down and their heads broken, and he appealed to the people to keep the peace and to remain calm.

Similar support has been given by people outside the Legislative Council: by editors of the more responsible newspapers—whom I could quote—and by a leading Buganda business man, who said that the declaration of a state of emergency would be welcomed by all African business men who were trading on honest lines, and that if its meaning were understood it would be welcomed by all law-abiding Baganda. He hoped that the Government would close its ears to irresponsible interference from overseas and get on with the business of Government.

These, then, were the causes which led to the imposition of a state of emergency, and the reactions to it by the more responsible elements in Buganda. It is still too early to form any precise assessment of the results of the action which has been taken, but the Governor reports that a more cheerful atmosphere already prevails among the commercial community—by which he means the Asian small traders at whom this boycott was mainly directed. In some areas there has been a marked improvement in trade, and things are quite normal. In others some African shops are closed, some are not. In some areas, there is practically a complete standstill of trade. However, the local reactions have been uniformly good, and in many cases native authorities have specifically applauded the Governor's firm action in the matter.

According to information I received just before lunch the latest reports that have reached the Governor establish that the deterioration in the situation that had been going on steadily has been arrested since the state of emergency was declared, and that there now seems to be some justification for cautious optimism that the situation generally is slowly but perceptibly improving. We cannot, of course, ignore the possibility of a setback, but this essentially precautionary measure will have succeeded in its object and will have been justified if it puts an end to the widespread alarm that undoubtedly has been caused throughout Buganda, among Africans as well as among Asians, by the increasing evidence of intimidation and of threats employed to enforce the trade boycott.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) put several questions to me, to which I should like to give an answer. He asked me about Lord Munster's visit to Uganda. The facts are simple. Early this year arrangements were made for Lord Munster to visit Mauritius, which has not had a visit from a Minister for some time. It had been suggested that I should go there, but, unfortunately, the Parliamentary position makes this sort of expedition except in moments of grave crisis, rather more difficult than they were when the right hon. Gentleman was in office.

Mr. J. Griffiths

We could offer pairs.

Mr. Hopkinson

I will take the right hon. Gentleman up on that.

Mr. Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends refused us the courtesies that would have made things easier for us.

Mr. Hopkinson

I will take the right hon. Gentleman up on that offer.

However, that journey was planned, and Lord Munster went off to Uganda and Kenya as part of the journey, and arranged to stay in both countries. The journey was fixed up in the middle of April, long before the present emergency developed. It is purely accidental that he is there at this time. He is spending several days there, and is making a short tour of the Northern Province with the Governor, who has to make a routine visit to it. Lord Munster is also hoping to visit the National Park. His visit to Uganda has no connection whatever with the present emergency.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked me about the possible effects of the imposition of the state of emergency on Professor Hancock's visit. We shall all agree about the importance of that visit. The position is that Professor Hancock is not due to fly out to Uganda until the 21st of this month. He has asked that no alteration should be made in his programme in consequence of recent developments, so the present arrangements will stand. As my right hon. Friend indicated last Tuesday, we hope that the measures that are now being taken to restore law and order will create a calmer atmosphere in which the visit can take place.

Mr. Fenner Brockway

Has agreement yet been reached regarding the Baganda members of the committee?

Mr. Hopkinson

I was just coming to that point. It has been announced that on Professor Hancock's initiative the Governor has withdrawn his opposition to Dr. Kalibala's membership of the Lukiko committee which is to have consultations with Professor Hancock, and that Messrs. Kironde, Mulira and Makumbi have, on their side, withdrawn their resignations from the committee. I think that that should do much to facilitate the talks, and will lead to their success.

I have been asked to speak of the Kabaka, but I do not think that matter comes into the subject which we are discussing today. The crisis which is down for discussion has no direct relation with the position of Kabaka and I could not say anything about his position without notice.

Mrs. White

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is aware of statements being circulated to the effect that one of the reasons for the declaration of the state of emergency was in order to pave the way for the election of a new Kabaka and that a great deal of pressure was being imposed on certain people to obtain support of a movement to elect a new Kabaka. If that is not true, perhaps he will say so.

Mr. Hopkinson

It is certainly the first I have heard of any such statements and I cannot for a moment believe that there is any possible justification for them. I have gone out of my way today to deny that there is any connection at all between the Kabakaship and this matter.

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) asked whether there was any necessity for declaring a state of emergency. I hope that what I have said will convince him that a great deal of intimidation had been going on and that nothing less than this would have been sufficient to deal with the situation. I am sure that he will agree that we should not wait until we have bloodshed before we start imposing drastic regulations.

The hon. Member had some comment to make about the position of the Uganda National Congress. I do not propose to enter a discussion about that today. They were responsible for initiating the boycott. I am not suggesting that they are the people responsible for the methods of intimidation. Indeed, I say nothing about that at all; I am not saying who is responsible for it. I do not want to enter into a discussion on what is and what is not the intention of the National Congress.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly wishes to say a few words and, therefore, I will not prolong this speech. I am convinced that the action which has been taken by the Governor of Uganda, taken by no means lightly, has the support of all the responsible elements in the territory. They were behind him before he took it, and since he has taken it they have come out openly and supported it. This strong action, which has my right hon. Friend's support, will, I believe, lead to an easing of the situation there and to the possibility of satisfactory constitutional talks with Professor Hancock when he goes out.

The support which we in this House give to this action will help the administration out there so that in due course it may be possible to withdraw the state of emergency, as was done a few months ago after the deposition of the Kabaka. As my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester said, Uganda has been remarkably peaceful these past few months. We all regret that the declaration of a state of emeregency has become necessary, but I have no doubt whatever that in the long run it is in the interests of the territory of Uganda and its people.

3.34 p.m.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

I must first say a word or two—they will be very few—in reply to the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport), who has given us a lecture on violence and intimidation. He need not lecture me or our party. Perhaps he will take advantage of the opportunity which is coming to us all of a much-needed rest and will go to the Library before he leaves the House today and obtain from the Librarian the history of the attempt of prominent members of the Conservative Party to organise a rebellion against a decision of this House. That was in my lifetime. He is, therefore, the last man to talk about violence and intimidation—belonging to the Conservative Party, as he does—for that was the nearest to a revolution in this country in my lifetime, and it came from the Tory Party.

Mr. Alport

In that case, as the right hon. Gentleman feels that he on his side of the House should show an example to our party, in view of our past evils, how does he now find himself in the position of supporting intimidation in the Colonial Empire? If he does not support it. his colleagues behind him do.

Mr. Griffiths

I join with the Minister in saying that the primary duty in these Colonial Territories, as everywhere, is the preservation of law, order and good government. If it becomes necessary to take measures—even measures like those today—they will certainly have my support. I would have done it myself. and I have said so on other occasions in this House.

In this case, it seems to me that there were circumstances in which the Governor was justified in his action, but our responsibility does not end there. Having admitted that, we have to recognise that it creates a problem for us Why did it happen? What is wrong? What is the cause of it? It is important that we should find an answer to these questions. I hope that peace will be preserved in Uganda. We have had appeals from both sides of the House—appeals which, I hope, will be listened to in Africa—to preserve calm and keep the peace, even in these difficult circumstances.

I asked the Secretary of State a question last week, because I thought it was important. So far as the Minister has spoken this afternoon, the evidence of violence and intimidation seems to have been very slender. It was, I thought, necessary for me to get a declaration from the Secretary of State, and today from the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, that a state of emergency had not been declared because there had been a peaceful boycott. That was the purpose of my intervention. A peaceful boycott, as I said last week, is a legitimate political form of action. The Minister, I understand, supported that view this afternoon.

Mr. Hopkinson

Surely the right hon. Gentleman would not suggest that it is possible to generalise on that point? Even if we qualify the word "boycott" by the word "peaceful," it cannot be possible to generalise.

Mr. Griffiths

The Minister said that the boycott had been taking place since 1st May, and while it was peaceful they did not declare an emergency. All I am concerned about is to know that the emergency was not declared because some people thought that they ought to engage in a peaceful boycott. The Minister supported that.

There are two questions which I want to ask. The Minister has said that this action, and, indeed, this controversy which has led to the emergency, has no connection, direct or indirect, with the deposition of the Kabaka. I accept that. But I urge him to pay attention to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White). It is being said that pressure is being brought to bear on people concerned about the appointment of a new Kabaka. I think that it is important that that issue should be faced and something said about it.

The Governor and the Secretary of State have said that while they would like to see the Lukiko appoint a new Kabaka, they will not bring pressure upon them to appoint a new Kabaka. I think that it is important that it should be declared by the Government that it is the position both of the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Government that while they would like to see someone appointed, they would not bring pressure to bear or impose a Kabaka upon them.

My second question is this. I understand that the boycott is not due to the deposition of the Kabaka. The reason given by the Secretary of State, when I asked him the question as to what was stated to be the purport of the boycott, was that it was against deportation. On that question, I hope that he will say something more. This question of deportation without a judicial process is a problem which has given concern to all Governments in the Colonies. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the climate of opinion is very much against this. The United Nations, in the declaration of Human Rights, and the whole trend of world opinion are against using measures of this kind without a judicial process.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that during my term of office I began discussion on this matter with the Governors. I sent a despatch to them and asked them all to examine the problems and submit to me proposals by which some form of judicial process could be set up before there was a deportation. I know that those inquiries are still being conducted. I hope that the Secretary of State will take a very early opportunity to make a statement upon the matter, for we have reached a stage in which, apart from circumstances as in Malaya and Kenya, there ought generally speaking to be a form of judicial process before deportation.

Mr. Hopkinson

I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman on the general question, but I take the point he has made. In regard to this deportation, Mr. Kiwanuka was the gentleman in question. He was expressly allowed to make representations to a judicial adviser selected by the Chief Justice, who could have advised the Governor to cancel the order. The judicial official heard all that Mr. Kiwanuka had to say and did not advise the Governor to cancel the order.

Mr. Griffiths

Perhaps in the OFFICIAL REPORT the right hon. Gentleman can give further information about that, but I hope he will give a full report at an early stage—perhaps one of my hon. Friends will put down a Question to elicit the information—as to what progress has been made towards what, I am sure, the whole House and the country would desire and also what is the undoubted view in the world today, that deportation without trial ought to come to an end and that there ought to be a judicial process.

I am very glad that the visit of Professor Hancock is taking place. I am glad that the investigation is to be conducted. I warmly welcome the decision, which, however, caused me some concern, that the Africans were to be prevented from securing the outside assistance which they felt was necessary and desirable. It is of the greatest importance that at this important stage in the history of Buganda we should use greater urgency in removing the clouds which have been caused by the deportation of the Kabaka.

Here is an opportunity to investigate the future of the Kabaka-ship, which has not been redefined since the early agreement. It is, therefore, a matter of great moment to Buganda and its people and to Uganda, and I am glad that the ban has been removed. I hope that the Africans will get the assistance which they think is essential to them to present their case and examine their issues, and we wish all success to Professor Hancock.

We all agree that we must put down violence, but it is not enough to do that alone. It is essential at all stages before we reach the final democratic stage that there should be peaceful outlets for people and organisations and political parties to express their grievances. That is very important. My questions the other day were directed to ensuring that in Uganda, as elsewhere, we do not prevent people expressing their grievances and organising action which is peaceful and legitimate in order to call attention to their grievances.

Uganda is at the beginning of a very important new chapter in its history. It is entering upon a new industrial era and new political experiments. There are concerns and there are anxieties, and we have had a declaration from the Governor and from the Secretary of State that Uganda is to be developed as an African State and that from the very beginning there is to be no industrial colour bar. The people of Uganda have a great opportunity. I hope that after the Whit-sun Recess the House will have fuller time to discuss not only this, but other problems in Africa and in the other Colonies. The time is due for an opportunity to review the situation in the Colonies, so that we can bring our experience and knowledge to bear and have an opportunity of raising questions.

In the meantime, I join in appealing to the people of Uganda to be peaceful and calm. I hope that the emergency can be lifted very quickly. While it exists, it is an acknowledgment of failure by all of us. Let it be raised quickly. Let Professor Hancock get on with his work. I hope that the Colony, for which no visitor can fail to have a deep regard and love, will develop into an independent democratic African State. I hope that the Secretary of State and the Governor will take the earliest opportunity, when circumstances allow, to lift the emergency and to restore normal constitutional procedure in Uganda, so that the Colony once more can march forward and, I hope, be a model to the rest of Africa in the years that lie ahead.