§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I am sure that the whole House, irrespective of party, will join in congratulating the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) on his successful introduction of his Decimal Currency Bill. There was one feature of the hon. Gentleman's speech which I am sure will have caused considerable distress on both sides of the House, and that was when he said that he was nearing the end of his Parliamentary career, for I think I express the views of all of us when I say that, when that time comes and he leaves Parliament, the House of Commons will be a much poorer place.
Not only on a host of matters which he has debated in great detail, and which may turn out to be rather more controversial than the subject before us today, but in many other things, not least when, only the other day, the hon. Gentleman spoke from personal knowledge of the Cocos Islands, he has shown us how full his life has been of worth while endeavour in a host of differing fields. I congratulate him upon his success, and, should his Bill unfortunately not reach the Statute Book, I hope he will not regard it as a sign that his colleagues on both sides of the House do not hold him in the highest possible repute.
This is, I think, an appropriate day on which to move the Second Reading of such a Bill as the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill. The Colonial Development Fund, which was not actually started until 1929, was a small imitation of the form which it has later taken. It was limited to £1 million a year, and was devoted exclusively to economic development. It was not until 1944 that the real beginnings of Colonial development and welfare could be seen as being the settled policy of Governments of all complexions in the House of Commons, and it was I think in large part due to the Royal Commission on the West Indies that the Act 1117 of 1940 was first brought before Parliament.
It is also an appropriate day for this Bill in that we are watching Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret in her tour of the West Indies, and we wish her success in meeting, as she will, so many people whose continuing and indeed passionate loyalty to the British Crown and connections is something of which we are all most deeply proud. It is also the day on which I have been privileged to make a statement on a definite step forward towards a Caribbean Federation; so that I think it would be difficult to find a more appropriate day on which to move the Second Reading of a Bill concerned with colonial development and welfare.
There is also this further reason. We are now in the midst of a Commonwealth Conference, attended by the Prime Ministers of all the self-governing Dominions, and by Sir Godfrey Huggins, who has been a Prime Minister far longer than many hon. Members have been Members of this House, and who is Prime Minister of the Federation of Central Africa.
While this gives all our thoughts at the moment an Imperial turn, I must confess that, as far as I am personally concerned, it places me in a slight difficulty in regard to my duties today. If, later in the course of this debate, I have to leave the House and go away altogether towards the end of the sitting, I hope hon. Members on both sides will acquit me of any discourtesy to Parliament or of any lack of interest in the matters in which we are engaged.
The Colonial Development and Welfare Acts of 1945 and 1950 voted £140 million for Colonial development and welfare from 1946 to 1956. I gave some details in the debate in December on how the money had been spent, and we have elaborated that theme in the White Paper—Cmd. 9375—which I think the House will welcome, and which was issued a few days ago.
The last Act is not due to expire until 31st March, 1956, but it appeared to us to be desirable, in order to ensure continuity in planning, and to avoid uncertainty in the Colonies, that there should be a year's overlap. This new Bill extends the life of these Acts until 31st March, 1960, and it provides another £80 million of new money, which, together 1118 with the unexpended sum of £40 million, provides a really worth-while contribution to colonial development and welfare.
Some hon. Members may well ask in a time of constitutional changes which in fact, are the Colonies to which this money is being devoted. The present Bill does not in this respect alter the definition at all, save to include within the Territories available for it the New Hebrides—the Anglo-French Condominium. The new Bill defines the Territories to which welfare aid may be given by inference in the same way as the old Bill; that is, any Colony—and the Acts under which we operate say that, for the purpose of the Acts—any British Protectorate or protected State, and any Territory in respect of which the United Kingdom exercises trusteeship duties, shall be deemed to be a Colony.
It is true that the Act of 1940 said that any Colony meant a Colony "not possessing responsible Government," but, as the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who I am glad to see present, know very well from close personal experience, these words "not possessing responsible Government," were taken out of their Act in 1950. The reason, as they will well remember, was that, despite the fact that the new Constitution of Malta had conferred on the Maltese Government internal self-government, there was some reason to doubt whether they were or were not legally a responsible Government for the purpose of receiving colonial development and welfare aid. There was a strong desire, as there still is, to extend the provisions of that Bill to Malta, and, therefore, the words "not possessing responsible Government" were taken out of the Act of 1950, and we do not propose to reinsert them.
In addition, in the lifetime of this Parliament, a new Federation has been set up in Central Africa, and special provision was inserted in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Constitution Order in Council to make that Federation also available for assistance.
As to the future, it is always unwise, in a field of human relations such as constitutes one of the strongest bonds of unity in the British Commonwealth, to attempt to dogmatise in advance of the development of any new situation. The question of whether any Colony moving towards self-government, when it reaches 1119 self-Government one way or another, should be eligible for colonial development and welfare money, would in our view have to be determined according to the circumstances of each case.
Clearly, if a Colony became wholly independent, if it became, in fact, a Dominion, it would not be proper that it should receive colonial development and welfare money, with all the obligations of accountancy to the United Kingdom Government that that carries with it. There may well be cases, however—half-way houses—between full Dominion status, full self-government, and the Colony status in the usual sense as we understand it today. I think any successive Government would agree that we must deal with each situation as it comes along, and deal with it ad hoc.
It would probably be desirable that any such Colony should remain legally eligible for colonial development and welfare money, coupled with the same obligations in regard to finance and accountancy as a full Colony has to follow. But we must also remember that, in cases of this kind, Territories that are approaching full self-government are on the whole Territories whose financial position makes the importance of colonial development and welfare money far less than it is in most other Territories.
I turn now to the Bill. Having been, like many hon. Members, on both sides, frequently critical of lengthy and complicated Bills, I hope it will not be considered inappropriate if I congratulate the draftsman of this present Bill, for he has contrived to produce, in a very short form, the requisite Bill for the scrutiny of the House. Clause 1 gives evidence of the conclusion to which we have come that in a world of uncertainty and changing costs, a 10-year period of planning is too long a period for the plan to operate. And so we have reduced the planning period to five years, exempting, as the House will see, research and inquiry schemes from any time limit.
Then, we have said that the amount of money to be voted from 1st April, 1946, until the end of the operation of the Bill shall not exceed £220 million, which, with the £140 million already voted means a further new sum of £80 million. This will enable us to have an annual 1120 expenditure from United Kingdom funds of £24 million a year.
The present expenditure being about £14 million a year, this is a 70 per cent. increase in annual expenditure provided by the United Kingdom Exchequer. In addition, we have also raised the ceiling that can be spent in any one year from £25 to £30 million, of which research can take up to £3 million a year. Clause 2, the only other really operative Clause, includes the New Hebrides within the Territories that are able to receive this aid.
All hon. Members who have travelled and followed closely the affairs of Colonial Territories know full well the immense importance in many places, and the considerable importance psychologically and otherwise in other places, of colonial development and welfare aid. I have just come back from a fortnight's tour in Nigeria. That is a Territory of well over 30 million people each one of the regions of which, with the exception of Tanganyika, is the largest single British Colonial Territory, and one of which—the Northern Region of Nigeria—has twice the population of the next largest Colony, Tanganyika. It is an enormously important Territory.
An indication of the value that we attach to our association with Nigeria and our recognition of our responsibilities to her is that since the regional plan was agreed to last year, each of the regions of Nigeria has come to be governed by a Governor. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) will know what I mean when I say that these Governors are accepted as Governors of first-class status in the Colonial Office.
Nobody who tours that great country, that lovely country of wonderful possibilities, can fail to realise how important a factor in its development has been, and will be colonial development and welfare money. Under the 1945 Act, some £23 million was voted for Nigeria under this scheme, but up to 1951 about £8 million of that had alone been spent. In 1951, the plans were revised and a separate development budget was then introduced. By the end of March of this year, it looks as if all but £3 million of that large sum which was voted will have been spent in Nigeria.
I saw a great deal as far as I could in a crowded, happy visit of two weeks, of 1121 the work that is being done. I spent a number of days in Lagos; I visited every region of Nigeria and the Southern Cameroons. I saw something of the money being spent under Measures of this kind on agriculture; on medicine and health, on rural water supplies—surely, one of the most important of all ventures; and on education, primary, secondary, and technical.
I followed there, as I try to follow everywhere I go, and as, I know, hon. Members on both sides of the House do, the rapidly improving aspect of technical education in the eyes of the people whom we so desperately want to enjoy it. I went also to Ibadan University, where, under previous Bills, £1¾ million has been voted from colonial development funds, and to the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology in its three different branches, which has already had aid up to £600,000.
I had many discussions with the Governor-General, with the three Regional Governors, with the Deputy-Commissioner in the Southern Cameroons, and with the various Ministers in the region—African Ministers—who are facing up to their responsibilities in a thoroughly competent way. I also saw Ministers at the centre, who are also approaching their problems with a full knowledge of their importance, and with a sense of duty and every sign of competence.
I was able to learn much of the problems of Nigeria, not least in the field of colonial development and welfare. I even spoke a few words in the House of Representatives. I was delighted to find, as Speaker in the House of Representatives, Sir Frederic Metcalfe, lately Clerk of this House. When addressing him in what was my maiden speech in the Nigerian House of Representatives, I felt something of the embarrassment that I felt 23 years ago, when I made my maiden speech in this House and he was then Second Clerk-Assistant.
Incidentally, all the three speeches that were made in the Nigeria House of Representatives after mine referred to the great value of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, and I saw that each of the three different regions, though they have very different financial positions, and though their needs differ accordingly—a fact that we must recognise, and 1122 to which I must pay regard in the allocations which I have now to make—found considerable attraction, to put it no higher, in colonial development and welfare money.
I also found a desperate anxiety on the part of African Ministers as to whether there would be technical officers able to help them to spend effectively the money voted, and to be voted, to Nigeria for her great development needs. Of all the recollections which I carried away. I think this is my most vivid one.
African Ministers in every region and in the Federal Council of Ministers pressed on me urgently the need in Nigeria for British officials, both administrative and expert in other fields—I hope none of us will tend to divide the work into administrative and expert for administration is an expert craft of its own. They urged me to do all I could to see that the people of our race, to whom we all owe such a deep debt of gratitude, stay in Nigeria during the coming difficult years, and encourage in every way other people to come too.
It may be that recent events in the Sudan have convinced them and others of the real danger that key men may leave at a moment of vital need. African Ministers pointed out to me continuously that the whole of their society, as it was now being fashioned, both administrative and technical, would be jeopardised if the British staff left and if others should fail to be recruited. Those who are inclined to think that we are unwelcome neighbours in many parts of the world would undergo a change if they went to Nigeria and saw the affection and respect with which our people are regarded.
The Africans made it clear that the grievous shortage of trained people, and the even more dangerous possibility of a greater shortage quite soon, may make all our paper plans of development and welfare sterile. They were at pains to say that British officials were wanted, and that if they would come, they would live among people who liked, trusted and valued them. The Nigerians would see that the work was made worth while, in the sense of being a job thoroughly worth doing. It is quite plain that the long-term security that everybody must expect in work of this kind would be most openly and completely assured.
1123 I found in Nigeria the utmost affection and good will towards the Crown and the British connection. I hope that it will be considered in order if, in concluding this part of what I have to say, I ask the House to remember how much of this affection is due to the work of the Governor-General, Sir John Macpherson.
He is nearing the end of his extended term of office. With great patience, wisdom, and human understanding, he has guided Nigeria through seven difficult and often stormy years. While many heavy problems will face his successor, and whatever the future may hold for Nigeria, both Nigeria and Great Britain will for long cherish the memory of Sir John's devoted and selfless service to our largest Colonial Territory.
While in Nigeria, I saw the value of colonial development and welfare work, but I also saw many of the difficulties that confronted it. By far the greatest is the grave, and in some cases the terrifying, shortage of trained people to see that the money is properly spent. Nobody in this House who follows these matters closely will ever think we have discharged our obligations if we merely vote money. The task of finding people to carry out the work is equally important.
I hope that hon. Members and others who make speeches about the British position in Africa will remember that the way in which they put the role of our people will largely determine whether our people will be ready to go out or not. Attempts are made from time to time to paint those who go out to Africa as anxious only to exploit the Africans. Using that sort of language carries the risk, if not the certainty, of putting back African development by many generations.
The figure of £120 million, of which £80 million is new money and £40 million is the carry-over, was arrived at by the Colonial Office after an examination of the outline forecasts submitted by the various colonial Governors, covering the cost of development as they saw it for the next five-year period. They take into account, as we must do, the money that can and should be available from their own resources and from loans.
Of course, it also has to take into account the physical limits of development, to the major one of which, shortage of trained men, I have already referred. 1124 I can honestly commend to the House this Bill as providing for a balanced programme which will help the Colonies to pay for a high level of service without forcing them into great dependence on the United Kingdom Exchequer.
Those of us who have genuinely put ourselves behind the policy of greater self-government in the Colonial Territories do not wish to make them more dependent than they are, because with that, political or other advance becomes a mockery. Our relations with the Colonies will, in the next few years, require more money by way of direct grant than in recent years, but despite that fact, and bearing in mind the strain on our own resources, we think that the figure we have arrived at is fair in every way.
We propose to continue, as both right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are ex-Secretaries of State for the Colonies, have done hitherto, the present allocation scheme system. This system is, of course, conducted by Statute, and it is the one way in which the Colonial Secretary can be answerable to Parliament for money that this House votes.
There was a danger, and there always is, that administration, audit, and accountancy difficulties might result from a multitude of small schemes upon which colonial development and welfare money was voted, and we have at all times urged the Colonies to concentrate this sort of help as far as possible on a series of large schemes. To those which, like Nigeria, have a separate development budget, we make grants according to a fixed proportion, under selected heads of expenditure. That has been the practice for some years, and we propose to continue it.
The allocation system is not hallowed by Statute, it is hallowed by tradition. The £40 million carry-over has already been allocated. The £80 million of new money will go in three ways: on a central reserve to meet unforeseen contingencies; on central services like research, surveys, higher education, and higher technical education; and lastly, but more generally, on the allocations to the Territories.
In this connection, the Territory's need must, of course, be the dominant criterion. I do not believe that anybody concerned with the field of human relations, while regarding this as much the 1125 most important criterion, would regard it as the only one. We are dealing with live people, with human beings capable of all sorts of misunderstandings and misconstructions of our actions; and while I proclaim that need must be the dominant—the main—criterion, it cannot be the only one.
In this, I think we must preserve a certain latitude. But those Colonies which receive these grants can plan, and count confidently and boldly on plans that they themselves will have chosen, and which have been later subject to our approval here.
It has been made plain by all my predecessors, not least by both the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and by my noble Friend Lord Chandos—and, first of all, by that good friend of all of us the late Oliver Stanley—and how conscious I am that I would probably not be at this Box today were he still alive—that this money cannot be regarded as the only source of colonial development and welfare. About 20 per cent. of colonial development and welfare money looks like coming from this source, that is 20 per cent. of the money likely to be expended by governments on development and welfare.
The other 80 per cent. of expenditure—leaving out altogether private investment, which still remains, and will for all time remain of enormous importance—must come from other Government sources. It looks as if, over the next five years, the total Government investment in British Colonial Territories may be about £600 million—£600 million invested by the Government of the United Kingdom and by the Colonial Governments themselves.
That figure excludes expenditure on the Central African Federation and on certain very large schemes like the Volta River Scheme, on which I recently had a further talk in my Department and about which I know the House is interested. I hope and believe that the main bias of the expenditure of this money will be on basic services—on roads, rail, electricity and water supplies.
In arriving at the figure of £80 million new money we have clearly had to take account of the other local resources. There has been a good deal of thoroughly worth-while speculation about the size of 1126 these resources, and at a time when the British taxpayer is being asked to vote more money it is quite right that we should look very carefully at the facilities which the Colonies themselves have for raising cash on their own.
I believe that it is true to say that colonial reserves and assets at the present moment total £1,400 million. That sounds a formidable sum—and, indeed, it is a formidable sum—but, of course, it is dispersed all over the place and is not necessarily in the Territories that today most need the pump to be primed. It perhaps might interest the House if, very briefly, I break up this large total of £1,400 million.
First, £300 million represents the London reserves of commercial banks operating in the Colonies. We are deeply indebted to them for their prudent management, but what they do with their reserves is clearly their own concern. Another £380 million represents the sterling holdings of colonial currency authorities.
This is the external backing for colonial currencies and ensures—as we all know when we travel there—their automatic conversion into sterling. Colonial currencies are backed at present 100 per cent. by sterling or by sterling securities. This occurs automatically, because colonial currency authorities issue currency against sterling and this accumulates sterling pari passu with the growth of the currency supplies.
In the debate in December, it was stated by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that I, as Colonial Secretary, and the Government, are quite agreeable, in principle—subject to a review of the individual circumstances of each Territory—to a small part of the backing being used to take up locally-issued securities. We are, of course, very anxious that that should not in any way affect the automatic convertibility of the Colonies' currency into sterling. We are determined that it should not do so, and anything we authorised would be based on our confident assertion that automatic convertibility would in no way be jeopardised.
I am in touch with the Colonial Governments concerned so that, in every case, we can see what it is reasonable to invest in local securities without jeopardising 1127 the fundamental importance of automatic convertibility and, in each case, on lines suitable to the circumstances of the particular Territory. But undoubtedly there is a worth-while fund there on which to draw to help further with colonial development.
Thirdly, among the many assets which the Colonies themselves have are the very large sterling assets of the marketing boards and of the price assistance funds. These total a great sum of money but, as hon. Members will know, they are largely centred in two or three rich Territories, and a good deal of the money is centred in Territories which do not need—either at all or in large part—colonial development and welfare money. Those sums cannot be used as a fund to be spread over the whole colonial field, for they are the property of individual Territories. They are also, of course, a cushion against fluctuations in prices.
While I was in Nigeria I saw something of what the marketing boards there had done to help to finance the regional production development boards of the different regions, and thereby to help thoroughly worth-while local industries. I understand that the Government of Nigeria are proposing to lend money from those funds for development programmes. In Uganda, the Government are financing the African Development Board from this source.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I think it is £140 million—but if I am wrong my hon. Friend will correct me.
Fourthly, some £550 million represents Government surplus revenues, and special funds such as sinking fund, savings bank, pensions, and renewals. The Governments of the Colonies which are desperately anxious for capital are investing these as they think prudent. This £550 million is made up of £240 million-odd special funds and £300 million comprising the uncommitted reserves of Colonial Governments which must be held against price fluctuations. Much of those reserves have accrued as a result of money coming into the Colonies during the period of high prices for certain primary products.
1128 Here I may say that, like any other Colonial Secretary, I watch with interest and anxiety the fluctuations of colonial primary prices, and, as a Member of this House with an active constituency, and as a member of a Government who are also anxious to keep down the cost of living—and remembering our programme, now being so triumphantly fulfilled—I try skilfully, and I hope without dishonour, to reconcile lower costs with higher prices for colonial products. We have watched the Colonial Price Index in recent months. With the exception of tin and sisal it has been pretty good, caused largely by the high level of industrial activity in Europe and by the improvement in the United States economy.
Finally, there are two or three other forms of aid on which the Colonies can call. There is the International Bank, and we are grateful for the help given from that quarter there is the immensely important field of private investment, though my duty is mainly to deal with Government investment.
There are, lastly, colonial loans, whether loans on the London market, local loans, or inter-colonial loans either taken up by the Crown Agents, or specially from one Territory to another, as in the case of the loans from Brunei to Malaya and North Borneo and the Uganda loan to the East African Railways and Harbours Board. All these things together will enable us to strengthen the economy of these territories for which are proud to have responsibility.
I notice on the Order Paper an Amendment to the Second Reading Motion in the names of the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) and the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg). I well remember, a generation ago, when the hon. Member for Gravesend either succeeded or preceded me—I cannot remember which—as President of the Oxford Union, motions similarly light-hearted appearing on the Oxford Union order paper. If the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development is to be a substitute for Her Majesty's Government's responsibility for our Territories, then I really do despair of the future. If, before that Fund can be raised, we must wait until there has been internationally-supervised world-wide disarmament, then I shudder for the future of the Colonial Empire.
1129 I hope that the hon. Baronet will not regard my failure to deal in detail with his suggestion as due to any lack of personal consideration for himself, but we have a task to do and we are anxious to discharge it. I therefore commend this Bill, with confidence, to the House.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
May I say to the Secretary of State, first of all, that we realise that during a week in which the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth are here, and he has the very onerous responsibility of representing, in any discussions that may be appropriate, the interests of the Colonies and their 80 million people, he will be called away to other duties this evening. I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say that we would[not wish to detain him here when duty calls him elsewhere.
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will remember something that I asked him earlier in the afternoon, when I said that I still hope that before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference breaks up it will consider it desirable to issue a definite pronouncement about future membership in the Commonwealth. We do not know when the next Prime Ministers' Conference will take place, but I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman leaves the House later, and has an opportunity of discussing it with the other Prime Ministers, he will convey that sentiment to them not only as my opinion but the opinion of many hon. Members and many people in the country.
We welcome the Bill. We will give it a Second Reading, and I hope that we shall be given time, not after 10 o'clock in the evening, but appropriate and full time, in which to consider it in Committee. It is not a very long Bill. We shall consider whether we wish to out down Amendments and, if so, whether they will be in order under the Money Resolution. There are a good many details which it might not be appropriate to deal with at any length on Second Reading and which we ought to discuss in Committee. I see the Government deputy Chief Whip here. I had the pleasure of his company in Africa not long ago. Perhaps he will convey to the usual channels the hope that we shall have adequate Government time to discuss the Bill in Committee.
1130 I join wholeheartedly, as does everyone else who is familiar with the work which has been performed under the aegis and with the assistance of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, in a tribute to the work that has been done during the past few years aided by that Fund. It is a commentary upon the country and upon our past rather shameful neglect of the Colonies that we had no such fund in 1929. Indeed, in 1929 it began in a very small way—£1 million a year—and it was not until the Second World War that we began to make anything like adequate provision for this work. It was not until after the Second World War that the provision that we made began to become operative.
It was clear from the beginning that the purpose of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund was to act as a priming of the pump of development. We are very grateful for the Report which we have had, but I think I am entitled to express our regret that a Report so interesting, valuable and important was not in our hands earlier to give us more time than two days in which to read it before the Second Reading. I realise that there may have been difficulties involved. However, the right hon. Gentleman will not be in his present position when the next Bill comes forward, so I will say no more on this point.
The Report says that the purpose of the Fund was to act as a nucleus to encourage economic and social development in the Colonies, and added that there was a great advantage in fixing for a future programme a specific commitment which would aid them and that we should enable them to plan for the future. I am not going to discuss whether five or ten years is the appropriate period; I will leave that to the Committee stage. What I do notice with great interest is that when the first Colonial Development and Welfare Act was discussed in the House it was expected that the nucleus provided by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund would be equal to one-third of the total expenditure. I can remember that as a kind of formula to which we worked. One-third of the money would be provided by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, one-third from local resources and perhaps one-third provided by loan. That was the general picture.
1131 In fact, as it has turned out from the Report available to us, the amount of money provided from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund has been not one-third but one-sixth. There are reasons for that, and one of the reasons has been the increase in recent years of the resources available to the Colonies. To that I will return later. Suffice it to say that we welcome this Bill because it continues a scheme which has already been sufficiently long in operation to enable us to appreciate its work, and because we believe that a continuation of the Colonial Development and Welfare service is, indeed, fully and amply justified by what has already been accomplished.
I therefore turn to some other aspects, and I want to begin by asking a question, namely, whether the sum provided is adequate. The Secretary of State has told us that the new Bill makes new provision for £80 million for the next five years. He has said—and the Report indicates—that there is available £40 million from the original £140 million, but he has told us this afternoon that some of this £40 million is already allocated. I think it is fair to say that what we are doing is voting another £80 million, and perhaps the Minister will say whether from now on we are planning on the basis of £80 million for the next five years and that the £40 million is already committed. That is my definite impression. It is some years since I left the Colonial Office, but I would be surprised if there were £40 million uncommitted money in the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund at the present time.
Perhaps we may also be given an answer to this other question. In the last 12 or 18 months, when Lord Chandos was Secretary of State, there were many grants announced to the Colonies, and, as I understood, those grants were, in part at least, to British Guiana and others were in part mortgaging the £40 million, if not some of the new provision. I hope we may be told very clearly by the Government whether, under the Bill, there is more than £80 million or actually £80 million if some commitment already made, such as the Kenya commitment, is to come out of the Fund.
Assuming that there is £120 million in the next five years, that is £24 million a 1132 year. That is certainly more than the £14 million a year provided under the 1945 and 1950 Acts, but we must remember that the real value of money has declined. What we are doing here is not merely agreeing to a Bill which provides money. I have previously said that if the work is to be carried out properly and is to mean something, it is a matter not of writing cheques and passing Bills, but of a real transfer of resources. I doubt whether the provision we are making is as generous as it was when we began, taking into account the fall in the real value of money and, therefore, the reduction in the real resources which the money will make available.
It means that what the people of this country are providing for all the work that we hope to do for the people of the Colonies under the aegis of the Fund in the next five years amounts to about 10s. per head per annum. I hope we shall not get self-righteous about it. I believe it to be woefully inadequate. When we distribute it among the 80 million people of the Colonies, it means that we are contributing a sum of about 6s. per head per annum towards their economic and social advancement over the next five years.
I believe that the country feels that we should do more than this, that the people are ready and anxious to do more. Because of the troubles that we have had in the Colonies in recent years, there has developed in this country a greater awareness of our responsibility, and the fact that there are grave problems of poverty and under-employment in the Colonies has been brought very sharply home to our people. This has been one of the effects of so many West Indians coming here to seek work. Wherever I go I find a really deep anxiety. Indeed, I think it is something more than that. There is something like a guilty conscience. There is a feeling that in the past we have exploited and neglected the Colonies. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members opposite may not share my view, but I am sure that many of their constituents do. There is a real desire on the part of the people to do more and more.
We welcome the Bill and its provision, and give it our fullest support, but I hope the Secretary of State and the Government will realise that the country would be even more pleased if as a result of our debate 1133 the message went out, "Thank you for this, but we believe it is not enough and that we ought to do more."
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
I am inclined to agree that more money should be provided. To help us, will the right hon. Gentleman say how much he would suggest?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I will come to that later. My first point is that we ought to do more.
The second question, which is even more important, is whether the provision that we are making is adequate to the needs of the Colonies and their people. The Report says on page 22 that Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that the provision which we are asked to make in the Bill, together with the other resources that are available to the colonial Governments, will enable the pace of development to be maintained. That is what is claimed, but I do not think that is all that we ought to seek to do.
I do not believe that for the next five years we should be satisfied with a provision which, taking it all in all—what we provide and what is available—will merely maintain the pace of development. The pace ought to be accelerated. All that we know and the experience that we have had in recent years clearly indicates that there is an urgent need to accelerate development. I hope we shall realise that all we are doing is providing sufficient money and resources merely to maintain the pace of development.
There are three reasons why the pace should be accelerated. First, in all these territories the population is rapidly increasing. Some experts have estimated that even to maintain the existing standards in Africa in the light of the increasing population—everyone knows that the standards are low—an increase in food production of 2 per cent. per annum is essential. Such an increase in food production in a Continent like Africa is a very big task, but unless we succeed, we shall go back. I contend that the increase in population makes it absolutely essential that development should be at an accelerated pace and that it is not enough merely to maintain the pace.
Secondly, there is growing, up everywhere a demand for higher standards of life. I believe that our future relationship with the Colonial Empire and its 1134 peoples depends upon our being able to satisfy this demand. There is a great human upsurge, a great demand for higher standards and a better status. A great new movement has been accelerating, particularly since 1945, which can be felt throughout the Colonial Territories. Unless we satisfy this demand for a higher standard of life we shall fail in the purpose to which the parties in the House have jointly pledged themselves.
There is a third reason, and it is one of the most important reasons. From these resources we provide help for the development in the Colonial Territories of social services in the widest sense of the term, and it is already clear that one of the problems now confronting the territories is that of recurrent expenditure. We help to develop their social services, building schools, colleges and hospitals and setting up health services, and so on.
Then, the Territories are faced with the recurrent costs. If they are to sustain their level of social services as they have begun—we know that once we begin to build up social services, they expand themselves and the costs expand—we must look forward in the next five years to the pace of development being accelerated instead of merely maintained. I say, therefore, that the Bill, much as we welcome it, is inadequate because I believe we could do more. I believe that the need is more and that the Bill does not provide for the acceleration of development which is essential.
I come to another aspect which I want to consider. Of course, there are other resources. We note with very great interest that out of more than £500 million spent on development in the period which, in a sense, we have under review in considering this Bill, colonial welfare funds amount to only £88 million and that during the past few years not all the Colonial Territories, but most of them, have had increased resources. It is important to know why.
Not only is it important, but it is cardinal to the future. The reason is that during the past few years they have had unexampled high prices for their primary products. Already, deep concern has been expressed—it is expressed in the Report—that the revenues in some of the Colonies, which depend so much on exports, Customs and Excise and all kinds 1135 of levies based on these primary products, are declining.
§ Mr. Griffiths
There is a deficit and their revenues are declining. It is of cardinal importance that in our economic policy in this country and in our international economic policy we shall do everything we can to maintain and promote these schemes. The fact is that bulk purchase and Commonwealth agreements have saved the Colonies in the last few years. An hon. Member opposite may smile, but that is true. Where would the West Indies have been but for the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement? The hon. Member knows perfectly well that there was an immediate reaction among the people of the West Indies when they thought the price would go down.
The Secretary of State knows that one of the worries is that as we have not had the sense to arrive at agreement by which to stabilise prices and markets, Malaya is facing a serious situation because the price of rubber goes up and then comes down with a bump. We may provide all the money we like under a Colonial and Welfare Development Fund but, unless we have a policy for ensuring and safeguarding prices for primary products, it may be all to no good.
I know that the Secretary of State has been a great fighter for tariff reform and protection. I am not going to argue with him today about that, but he knows that this is the best form of protection for primary producers all over the world. He knows perfectly well that if we go back to the chaos of the 1920s and the 1930s, when primary producers were the Cinderellas, we shall destroy all the good we have done in these Colonies.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
Will my right hon. Friend also agree that by the system of bulk purchase we have made sure of the growing of food, which never would have been grown otherwise?
§ Mr. Griffiths
When I hear talk of setting the people free I think often it means setting poverty free in many of these Territories. I am disturbed about this and I put it to the Secretary of State that many of the Colonies are, in respect of their revenue, over-dependent on the 1136 price of primary products and Customs and Excise and many of them—most of them—have not yet developed systems of direct taxation, including Income Tax, which I believe will be essential for them in future. It is not only essential for them, but also fair.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, when we vote this money we vote money which the British taxpayer pays and taxation is very high in this country. It reaches to levels of wage earners as it has never done before in our history. If we ask them to pay more we are under obligation to see that in the Colonial Territories those whose wealth is created there and those who have money there should pay a fair share towards the revenues of the Colonies, which they do not pay now.
There is too wide a disparity between Income Tax levels in this country and in the Colonies. People with very good incomes in the Colonies are not making a due contribution towards the development of those Territories. I hope that full consideration will be given to that aspect for in that way we can ensure that in the next five years they can develop as in the last five years. There is a nucleus there and by our combined efforts we shall be able, not only to maintain, but to accelerate the economic and social development of all these Territories and to raise their standard of living as quickly as possible.
I wish to raise again a question I have raised before, and about which the Secretary of State said nothing today. I have made a plea for better resources and for an acceleration of pace. At the same time, it is very important that in this field, where there are so many agencies at work, we should ensure that all these agencies work together. The work of the agencies we provide, the Colombo Plan and the agencies under the United Nations should be co-ordinated and they should complement each other. That is of enormous importance, because there can be overlapping and waste.
The Secretary of State has said nothing today about the Colonial Development Corporation. When C.D.C. was begun after C.D.W. it was clearly laid down that they were not to be regarded as two separate empires or agencies having nothing to do with each other, but that 1137 every effort should be made through the Secretary of State and the Government to try to ensure that the work of the C.D.W. and C.D.C., as far as possible, was made complementary and supplementary to each other. Reading an old Report—I think it is the first Report of the Colonial Development Corporation—I find that it began its task under this impression. I quote from the Report:The indispensable foundation of development in the Colonies must be the provision of ports, roads and railways, schools and hospitals which fall within the sphere of Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. Upon that basis must be built the agricultural and industrial activities which will raise the level of production of living standards and exports, partly by way of new undertakings, partly by the reinforcement, technical and financial, of existing enterprises and partly by the progress of ingenious producers in modern techniques.It was quite clear from the beginning that everything was to be gained by ensuring so far as possible that these two agencies should supplement and complement each other. That expectation has not been realised. We need to ask, why not?
The C.D.C. as it is now is not the C.D.C. conceived of and provided in these Acts and it is time we thought of its future. If all it is to do is to lend money do we want a corporation of that kind? It was created to promote economic enterprise in the Colonial Territories which private enterprise would not, or could not, do. What is its intention now, and what is its relation to this development? We shall unanimously vote a further £80 million and there is a sum unexpended of £70 million or £80 million which the C.D.C. can call upon. There was £130 million and £50 million has been spent, or thereabouts.
I thought that this afternoon the Secretary of State would have considered the whole of the relationship of C.D.W. and C.D.C. Are we to ensure that in future their work shall be woven and linked together so that in a sense they work together as one great effort by our people and country to aid economic development in the Colonies? I hope that that will be considered.
We on this side of the House think that the time has come seriously to consider the future of the Colonial Development Corporation, its relationship to the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the role which it is to play in the future. Quite frankly, we very much 1138 doubt whether, in its present role, a case can be made out for its continuance. But, as part of a general co-ordinated scheme for economic development in the Colonies, we believe that it still has a full role to play in promoting in the Colonies enterprises which private concerns cannot or will not undertake. I think it equally important that we should co-ordinate its work with such agencies as the Colombo Plan and the United Nations.
I come now to the last aspect of this matter about which I wish to speak. It is a matter which was not dealt with fully in the Report and which was only partly dealt with by the Secretary of State in his statement. What are the plans and what are the priorities proposed for the Colonial Territories during the next five years? Is it possible for us to be provided—if not now, then before the Committee stage—either in the form of a White Paper or of a statement circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT, with an indication of the plans forecast?
It is essential that, when we come to study this matter in detail, we should be given a sample of the plans which have been submitted by all the Colonial Territories, or, if that is not possible, by some of them, and upon which the Government arrived at the conclusion that £80 million would be required for the next five years. I hope that consideration will be given to the publication of information of that kind.
What are the priorities? Of course, there may be different views in different parts of the House on this question. My impression is that whereas magnificent work was done by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, it tended, on the whole, to consist of bits and pieces. I wonder whether, in future, those funds could not serve a greater and a better purpose, whether they could not provide a greater priming of the pump for colonial development if they were channelled into improving some of the basic services required in the Colonies. I hope, therefore, that when we know the plans for the next five years, we shall find that they include big drives in the provision of some of the essential basic services.
I am glad to see that the Secretary of State is reserving a sum of money—I hope it will be sufficient—for research. That is absolutely basic to the problem. 1139 There are so many unsolved problems. One has only to think of the danger which hangs over the cocoa industry which is of such immense importance to West Africa, and, indeed, to other territories. Everywhere, there are immense problems which need still greater research. Let us make the fullest possible provision for research. I hope, too, that we shall pay due attention to the need for such basic services as power, water and communications.
Having regard to the fact that the major problem in all the Colonies is that their populations are increasing at a more rapid rate than their production of food, I think that priority No. 1 must be the production of more food. Unless we can go on increasing food production at a very much faster rate than at present, we shall find in five years' time that the standard of life in all the Colonies is lower than it is today. If we cannot do that, then, I believe, our plans will merely be paper plans.
I cordially agree with the Secretary of State in what he said about the shortage of technical skill at all levels in the Colonies. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the people of the Colonies will welcome technicians from this and other countries who bring to them their knowledge and their skill. I believe that the biggest challenge confronting the world today is to find ways by which the skill and knowledge of the Western economic world can be harnessed to the needs of the peoples of the under-developed areas. But, in bringing such skills to their aid, we must be careful to do it against the background of a growing national consciousness, and, in all the provisions which we make for technical assistance, we must make it clear that our purpose is to train the technicians of the Colonies as quickly as possible.
I am glad that provision is to be made everywhere for extended technical education. I have said before, and I repeat it again, that I believe that, desiring, as we do, to help these people to build up a democratic independence as quickly as possible, and to build it on sound foundations—a desire which they themselves share—their greatest need is for more artisans and more technicians of all kinds. Private enterprise ought to accept as part of its obligation the training of colonial 1140 peoples in the skills and knowledge which they require. There should be more emphasis on technical education.
One of the things that has sometimes worried and disturbed me when I have been in the Colonial Territories is the fact that we have introduced into those Territories some of our own false values, and the false snobbery that a man wearing a white collar is more important than a man in overalls. Many of them, I regret to say, regard education as providing them with an opportunity to wear a white collar, to work in an office, and to use a pen. One of the things which we need to do in the Colonies, and, indeed, in our own country also, is to give a real sense to the dignity of labour. The African technician who works in an overall is making a bigger contribution to the future of his country and to his people than if he were a clerk in an office.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I was an artisan before I was a politician, and I hope that I am not a worse politician because I was an artisan.
The next five years will be crucial in the life of the Colonial Empire. We shall soon be welcoming the West Indies Federation, and West Africa is on the threshold of independence. We have been asked to vote for the Second Reading of the Bill, and I join in asking the House to give it a Second Reading, but I ask the House to do so in the realisation that we can and should do more than this, as the nation is ready to do, because we are convinced that in this great job we are undertaking not only a duty which our country owes to the people of the Colonies but one which will, if we successfully fulfil it, make a contribution to the peace and well-being of the world.
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
Would the right hon. Gentleman answer the question put to him by my hon. Friend, which was, what exactly does he mean by "doing more than is being done in accordance with the Bill"?
§ Mr. Griffiths
Yes, I will. I want to know what plans are submitted by the Colonies. It is clear from the Report that what are submitted are plans to maintain development. I believe we should have plans for accelerating development, and 1141 then we should find the money to do that. [HON. MEMBERS: "How much?"] Let them say what their plans are. If we think them insufficient we can send them back and ask them for other plans for bigger development, and then we shall see what they will cost.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Sir Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
I listened with great interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend for, in common with hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House, I welcome the continuation and expansion of the Colonial Development and Welfare scheme. I take note of the amount of £120 million for the next five years, and that we are spending more money on colonial development and welfare than we have yet done in the history of our country. I commend the scheme, too, because for once we have a five-year scheme instead of a ten-year scheme. A five-year scheme imparts a greater sense of urgency, and I think we all ought to have a sense of urgency in doing this work. I therefore support most strongly the shorter period.
I generally listen with a great deal of sympathy to the speeches which are made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who is leading the Opposition today in our consideration of this Bill. But at one stage I was very disappointed indeed with him, namely, when he saw fit to make an attack on the past record of the people who had gone out to develop the British Commonwealth. I feel that that was a great mistake on his part.
In Commonwealth development there is a great deal of which we can be proud, and I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House ought to pay very warm-hearted tribute to the really fine body of men and of women who have gone out into the British Colonial Empire and devoted their lives to the interests of the Mother Country and of the colonial peoples. When we denigrate the work they have done, often in very difficult conditions, it must lead to their feeling a sense of frustration. They need encouragement, for they have great tasks to do in administration. We need their help to produce the food and the raw materials and to train the technicians, and of these needs the right hon. Gentleman spoke.
§ Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)
Is it not incorrect to state that my right hon. Friend denigrated the efforts of those who were sent out to the Colonies to do this work in the years before the war? Was not the point that he made to the effect that the successive Governments of that period made totally inadequate provision to enable those people to do their work properly and to increase the number of the people sent out?
§ Sir R. Robinson
I cannot agree with the interpretation which the hon. Member places on his right hon. Friend's speech—
§ Sir R. Robinson
—but if the right hon. Gentleman would like, even at this late stage, to pay a tribute to the work which has been done in the past by those people, I am ready to give way to him to allow him to do so.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I have done that many times. I shall not withdraw anything I said. I speak of our country. Of course we have derived enormous advantages from the Colonial Territories in the past years. I have said before, I said it at our party conference, that a great part of the standard of life of all of us has been derived from the poverty of the people in the Colonies.
§ Sir R. Robinson
The whole point about colonial development is that there are advantages to both sides. Our interests are mutual. We help our Colonies in the common interest. That at some time this country has been enriched by what it has done is not to our discredit at all.
The right hon. Gentleman, while approving the principle of the Bill, said not enough was being done. I am not really surprised that he should say so. Parliamentary experience has shown me that if the Opposition disagree with a Bill they say that no money should be spent on its objects. If they agree with the Bill and like its purposes they always say that if they were in power they would spend more. I think that that is the spirit which the right hon. Gentleman showed.
He asked. "Is the sum adequate?" I would point out to him and the House that it is not always easy to spend money 1143 wisely within a limited time. It is the easiest thing in the world to throw money away. The willingness to spend is not always the same as the ability to execute constructional work such as the constructional works of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, which, as he knows and we all know, will take a great deal of time to carry out. The training of the technicians cannot be done in a matter of months. It takes a great many years to train a body of technicians of the size we want for this job.
I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about technical training. I think he will remember that when he was himself the Secretary of State I used to speak of the necessity for more technical training, and I said then that the best thing we could do would be to do what we all wish, put an end to the white collar tradition among the colonial people. There is, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, honour and dignity in doing technical work in the factories, in the use of one's hands. I support the right hon. Gentleman on that point.
With regard to colonial development itself, I think that the work of this Fund is only the foundation. It is part of a far larger picture. As the late Oliver Stanley so wisely said, this is only the "priming of the pump," which is done by the Government. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, there are other sources of finance, and I think one of them is the Colonies' own taxation, and another their utilisation of the surpluses which some of the colonial Governments have today.
I think we should pay tribute to those Colonies which help themselves. A man who helps himself is worthy of great help. Last summer, I had the honour of being a member of a Parliamentary delegation that visited Singapore, and I think that all five members of the party were delighted to find in Singapore one of the very finest anti-tuberculosis clinics we had ever seen. It was put up by the people of Singapore. In the main, the money was raised by voluntary subscription. When we see a Colony helping itself in that way we should give to it every possible assistance that we can.
Further money can be raised, I think, by loans on the London market, and, as 1144 was said by the right hon. Gentleman, we have the International Bank and the specialised agencies of the United Nations. The right hon. Gentleman opposite mentioned, though my right hon. Friend did not, the C.D.C. as one of the agencies providing this money. I am sure it was only an oversight on my right hon. Friend's part that he did not mention it, for we all know that a lot of money has been provided by the Corporation to help in Commonwealth development.
My right hon. Friend did not mention, either, the Commonwealth Finance Corporation. I hope that whoever replies to the debate will tell us whether the Corporation is giving real help to colonial development. Behind this, of course, is the vast sum of capital which comes from private enterprise, which was indeed the pioneer in colonial development throughout the Colonies.
The greatest purpose of the Government contribution is to give help where it is most needed and to help the Colonies along the road to self-sufficiency. So far, our policy has met with great success Quite a number of the Colonies are wealthy. They have good balances, and, financially, they can stand on their own feet. We in the House should be proud of their success. While not neglecting those Colonies, I urge the Secretary of State to see that the greater part of the money which the House is voting today is devoted to assisting other Colonies to obtain the same measure of prosperity and achievement as some of the wealthier ones.
The Colonial Development and Welfare Fund should meet urgent needs and it is absolutely axiomatic that those with the greatest need should have the greatest help. The proposed new Federation of the West Indies has been mentioned today. It will need a great deal of help. I hope that some of the Welfare Fund will be devoted to Jamaica and the urgent problems there, of which the House is so well aware, to British Honduras, to British Guiana and to territories like North Borneo and Sarawak, which are at present producing intelligent development plans of their own. I want to see the money used intelligently. I believe that it will be so used, and I hope that while strengthening the economy of the Colonies we shall see to it that the money spent meets the needs of as many people as possible.
1145 I have in mind a speech made by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) at 3.30 a.m. last week, when he spoke about Mauritius. He pointed out that we have been setting our sights too high in building for educational purposes in Mauritius and have been building too few schools of too high a quality. He said, and I think he was right, that possibly we should consider developing simpler buildings capable of serving more people. If we keep that in mind we shall do a very sensible thing in our colonial development.
I welcome the remarks of my right hon. Friend about the position of the basic services and I believe that the right hon. Member for Llanelly was with him on that point. I have always felt that one of the most vital things that we can do is to get going the communications of the Colonial Empire. Trade follows the route and if we do not open some of these vast spaces we can never hope to provide the work, the food and the raw materials which are absolutely necessary to meet the ever expanding demands of an ever increasing population.
There are within the Colonial Empire a large number of territories which have still to be opened up. If we can go out and give the people in the Colonies the opportunity to do the work and the opportunity to enrich themselves they will be in a far better position to assist themselves in providing that broad measure of social services which we know we all like to have in the long run. I hope that in considering this five-year plan the Secretary of State will always believe that the plans should be flexible and that he will keep an adequate reserve up his sleeve to meet unexpected and new demands. I have often found that the existence of a five-year plan has been produced as an excuse for doing nothing else and not tackling new problems as they arise.
I was very interested in the remarks of the right hon. Member for Llanelly about the need for closer co-operation between the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the Colonial Development Corporation. I agree wholeheartedly with him. We ought to be able to develop that co-ordination at all levels. If the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund resources can be taken out to the Colonies to open up communications, working side by side with the Colonial 1146 Development Corporation, the Corporation might then be able to open up a project which could pay its way. If the Fund and the Corporation work together there will be a far greater chance of success.
In the course of a visit to the West Indies I noticed that the Controller of the C.D. and W. Fund there has his head office in Barbados and the regional controller for the C.D.C. has his head office in Jamaica. If we are to have adequate co-ordination and liaison between them they should have headquarters in the same town and Colony, whichever is chosen as the right one.
This money could give us, especially in Africa, the opportunity to develop a really progressive and constructive water policy. We in this country are so used to it that we do not realise the great blessings that water gives us. The story is told of a West African chief who came to this country and was asked what impressed him most. He replied that it was the fact that wherever he went he could turn on a tap and see the water flow.
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
I could take the hon. Member to many places in my constituency where that could not happen. There are no piped water supplies.
§ Sir R. Robinson
I am sure the hon. Member does not suggest that people in the Colonies should stand back in the queue and wait until all his people have an ample supply. Surely we could take the two things side by side. There are thousands of villages in Africa where the water supply is still inadequate and still impure. I believe that in a great many places the fetching and carrying of water take away a large slice of the working day.
We have an opportunity for a progressive water policy, which is a thing that has been very much neglected. After 70 years of British control in Basutoland, officialdom said in 1953:Village water supplies will be put in hand as soon as the necessary planning can be done.It should be done now. In some places it is done. The Gold Coast has a far more vigorous policy, and a special department which is sinking 200 wells or 1147 boreholes a year. A United Nations Commission to Tanganyika said that about 50,000 dams or wells were needed and the present rate of construction was about 500 per annum. When we visited the State of Kelantan in Malaya, I saw what could be done by means of a progressive and sensible policy of water supply and irrigation in raising the standard of living and improving agricultural production. I believe that local people would be prepared to co-operate in water supply schemes. I believe that the Africans would be prepared to make a contribution and assist in making a great African water scheme into an economic reality.
Here, in so many of these colonial problems, we have a challenge which should stimulate our imagination and which calls for our united resources. Let us meet the challenge with vigour by bringing the blessings of modern science and engineering to the deserving people of the Colonies. I support the Bill and all it implies and feel that it is worthy of the wholehearted support of the whole House.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
I should like to congratulate the Colonial Secretary on becoming Colonial Secretary. I know that the office was his old love and I sincerely hope that he is finding it not quite so difficult and much more promising than breaking up the road transport organisation and trying to sell its lorries.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a matter of some importance, so I will refer to it although it is outside the scope of this debate. The Minister said that the Nigerians were anxious to have British staff. I believe that to be correct now, though whether they will hold that view in future I do not know, because there, as everywhere else, there is a great desire not to give jobs to outsiders. However, in that connection, I can tell my Nigerian and Gold Coast friends that the only way to get men of real merit and ability, and to keep them permanently, is to pay handsomely. The life out there is hard on white people, the climate is against them, and all the amenities of Europe are left behind.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to administrative officers. Many people have the idea that all that is necessary in these 1148 territories is to get experts in engineering, surveying, medicine, and so on, and then the job is finished. As the right hon. Gentleman quite rightly said, the greatest expert of all is the administrative officer. In the Indian Civil Service—the greatest bureaucracy the world has ever seen—the general opinion was that it took about ten years to train an administrative officer by giving him high and important appointments; because administration cannot be learned from books, only by practice. It is essentially an expert job.
Again, I would tell my African friends that, if they think that by getting a few engineers and surveyors they can administer their territories properly, they are under an illusion. I do not know whether they will be able to keep the trained British or native administrative officers, but I hope they can. I was once asked by some of my friends what were the prospects of success for the Gold Coast new Constitution. I said that they were nil unless the European staff could be retained. So those who are mad about racialism should remember that, and try to keep these splendid men, because we sent out from this country the pick of our universities and other institutions.
In a recent debate in this House it was suggested that the old system of appointing governors from the administrative service was wrong, that a new type of governor was needed, though what type now was not stated. It was also suggested that all the important governorships should be given to hon. Members of this House. That is on record.
§ Mr. Reid
During my service in the East, when governors were appointed from outside the Colonial Service or from the Colonial Office, I often heard certain remarks which, if hog. Members of this House had heard them, would have prevented them from making such a suggestion. At the time there were men in the Colonies of great ability who had learned their administrative and political jobs, who knew the native language and customs, but were passed over. It is monstrous.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we should try to keep these European officers in the service. I agree. But shall 1149 we keep them if they know that they can never aspire to be governors? A great amount of injustice has been done in the past in the Colonial and Indian Civil Services, but that is not really the subject of this debate.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that divine discontent has arisen in those countries and that the people are aspiring to a better standard of life. That is excellent, and we are responsible for it. It is the impact of the West upon those countries which has shaken them out of their apathy and fatalism and made them look for better things, because we have provided them under our administration with many things which they never had before.
If anyone seeks to blame us for the fact that these people have not had a higher standard of living, I would reply that there is no substance in that suggestion. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who is responsible?"] Wherever it is, whether in the Belgian Congo, the Dutch East Indies or in our Colonies, the amenities of life and the production of wealth have increased enormously under European Governments. And to my hon. Friend who has just asked me who was responsible, my reply is, the people themselves. Nobody else could be responsible, because they were given opportunities for bettering themselves which they had not had before.
For various reasons, however, whether hereditary, climatic, or through poverty or ignorance, many people could not take advantage of the opportunities, though others became rich, such as those owning rubber estates in Ceylon and Malaya and the coconut industry in Ceylon. However, we did not succeed in raising the standard of life of the majority to a desirable extent. Yet we were not responsible. We ruled magnificently in all our territories. It was the people themselves who were responsible, and I will explain why.
I know Southern India very well, because my administration covered it for many years. I can remember the pity which I felt for the unfortunate people, many of them Untouchables, who were like creatures of skin and bone; indeed, no doctor could understand how they remained alive. Apart from being so wretched, their lives were precarious, 1150 because, if the rains failed in Southern India, there was famine. We cured that. Famine used to settle the population problem in the East before we went there, but we brought out the Indian Famine Code, one of the greatest pieces of administration ever produced, which only a magnificent Civil Service could carry out so easily. And so we abolished famine and the population went up by leaps and bounds.
Anyone concerned with colonial problems should study the history of India. When we took over, the population was supposed to be between 100 million and 150 million. It was kept down by periodical famines and epidemics. When we left, the population was over 400 million and there was no famine. So those people who talk glibly about the wretched Indian Civil Service and what we did not do, should study history instead of listening to fifth-rate propaganda put out generally by Communists.
What we are discussing today is the means whereby we can look after this surplus population. Canada is not asking for help, neither is South Africa. This surplus population is due to the fact that in the Colonies the natives breed fecklessly, without restraint and without regard to whether they are even able to feed their children. These are proved facts. So, to my hon. Friend, who asked who was responsible—
§ Mr. Reid
I leave it to my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough, since he knows all about the decimal system. The people responsible were the people themselves.
I do not propose to examine the correctness of the £80 million, whether it is sufficient or insufficient, nor the policies giving effect to expenditure, but I agree wholeheartedly with my right hon. Friend who said that we should spend the money mostly on what he calls the basic services, such as irrigation, transport, and so on, capital investment to produce wealth.
Above all, I agree 100 per cent. with what he said about technical officers. There is a terrific problem in this connection. Boys in Africa and the East go to school and learn to read and write and then despise their fathers because 1151 they work in the rice fields or are carpenters, and so on. It will be very difficult to overcome that, but we need technical engineers and artisans badly.
The trouble in our Colonies and Dependencies is that the people produce children quicker than we produce wealth, although we have produced enormous quantities of wealth. Under our rule, a tract of country in India as big as Britain, which had previously been desert was irrigated, and in my time there it was growing two crops of rice a year. That is merely one example. I could talk for an hour about our enormous achievements in the Colonies.
Yet we were beaten. When we left India we were unable to pay for elementary education for more than 20 per cent. of the people because India was almost bankrupt; in spite of the enormous wealth we had developed there, her population had increased quicker than the wealth could be produced. What we are trying to do today is to help the people in the Colonies to produce wealth at least quickly enough to keep pace with the rate at which children are born, and quicker if possible. It is a colossal task.
§ Mr. Reid
My hon. Friend asks a very pertinent question. It is one which must be faced. The right hon. Gentleman made a very charming speech and was very enthusiastic, but there has not been a word in his speech or in the White Paper about the real cure for the evil, namely, birth control. Recently, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe went to Barbados, and he has written a booklet, a copy of which has been sent to me because he or someone else knew that time after time I have dealt with this question in the House. I seem to be a lone voice. I do not mind that. If people say that I am a bad boy, I do not mind that either.
Unless birth control is established in the Colonies to a considerable extent, as I have said previously in this House, all our efforts will be doomed to failure. Everyone knows that. Any ex-Governor who has spent 25 or 30 years in the Colonies will say the same, and, at the same time, he will say that he does not know how it will be brought about. It 1152 is entirely contrary to the habits and customs and, very often, the religions of the people concerned. Nevertheless, the problem must be faced.
In reply to a Question of mine the other day, the Minister said that there is not a single Governmental institution in any Colony attempting to teach birth control. He said that there were only a few unofficial efforts and that they did not come to anything.
§ Mr. Reid
I suggest to the Minister that, however well he manages the money and however much he gives, he will fail unless this problem is solved. The public of this country will begin to ask why we are pouring out hundreds of millions of pounds for people who refuse to limit their families. It is impossible to expect over 50 million of us, who all practise birth control and have only small families, to bring un our own families, and vote £1,600 million for our own and our Dependencies' defence to save the world from Communist imperialism and, at the same time, provide for the families of those who refuse to limit their numbers. It cannot be done; it will not be done. When the public begin to realise the facts—and I am giving the facts now, even if the newspapers are ashamed to publish what I say—in the light of their enormous burden of savage taxation, they will not go on paying taxes for a futile purpose.
The whole population problem is an enormous one. Our discussion is really all about population. The population of the world is increasing at the rate of 75,000 a day, and nearly all of that increase comes from people like those in our Dependencies. It is no use thinking that we can solve the problem by pouring out hundreds of millions of pounds; this help will be only a drop in the ocean unless the peoples limit their populations.
As a result of this situation there is vast unemployment in the world. I estimate that in our Dominions and Colonies alone on any one day in the year the unemployment figure is about 100 million people. These poor fellows are now in such desperation that they are fleeing from the countries where famine is impending and trying to get into any country where the immigration laws do not keep them out.
1153 It is not only to this country that they are coming. Take Algeria, for instance. Algeria is now part of France constitutionally, though that does not please some Algerians who want to get the French out of Algeria, though it would spell ruination. There are today 400,000 Algerians in France, and they are pouring in as fast as they can.
In our own Empire, Mauritius is grossly over-populated, having about 800 persons to the square mile. There are practically no industries there except agriculture. Nobody knows what is to be done there. All the time the population is going up by leaps and bounds. In Barbados, there is a population of 1,300 to the square mile and there are no industries. In Bermuda, the population is 2,300 to the square mile, which is almost incredible.
§ Mr. Reid
My hon. Friend is correct in saying that there is an enormous tourist industry there. Up to date the people have been able to live quite well on the gigantic tourist industry, but 25 years' hence, unless famine intervenes, the population will be 5,000 to the square mile. Will the tourist industry be able to support that?
Malta has a population of 2,600 to the square mile. To get out of their trouble, the Maltese, instead of reducing their population by emigration and birth control, are asking to be attached to the British Empire so as to share our wealth.
In the West Indies, although the people are Christians of one denomination or another, and are taught to revere the sanctity of marriage, 75 per cent. of the children are illegitimate. Is the British taxpayer to support that sort of thing? He will not do it when he gets to know the facts.
§ Mr. Reid
The aspect of the question with which we are dealing is what help the British taxpayer should Dye. I know the poverty and misery of many of these places, and not merely India; I know the conditions in other countries in which I have served. Common humanity demands that we should do what we can. We 1154 should stretch ourselves and give liberally, but we should not give to people who will not help themselves. That policy is demoralising and deplorable. These people are only too willing to receive help, but if we help them to get over their difficulties without any effort on their part we are only demoralising and ruining them.
The public have no idea how much this country has given in the past. By means of a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently I extracted the information that since the end of the First World War we have made three gifts amounting to £610 million. I have been fighting for years for the provision of a hospital in Swindon to cost £4 million; the plans, the scheme and the site have been approved by the Government, but year after year they say that no funds are available. Are the people of this country to go without hospitals and other things to support the sort of propagation of humanity to which I have referred? They will not do it. It will be best for the people in the Colonies if they refuse to do it, because then the people in the Colonies will have to take responsibility and act themselves.
Our colonial administration was excellent. So was that of the Dutch and so was the Belgian administration in the Congo. Politically, it was different from ours, but it has been most effective. But all these administrations had one fatal defect, they deprived the people of responsibility. The result is that the colonial people look to the metropolitan country for everything. They have been injured by being deprived of liberty. The leaders in those countries very naturally aspire to liberty, political self-respect and independence and even to jobs, as we do here.
The policy of my party, and, I think, of the party opposite, is to promote these people to self-government as soon as possible. There are risks. Self-government may be bad government, but they ought to be able to get it if they want it. They can set fire to Government buildings and practise sabotage of various kinds. The days are gone when one could put down by gunfire people who did not want to be ruled by us. It is nonsense to try to rule people against their will. Once they ask for self-government, although they may not 1155 be quite ready for it, our policy should be to advance them as quickly as possible, to take risks and bring them on the side of democracy against Communist imperialism. Once they get responsibility, the last thing the leaders will want is Soviet domination and tyranny.
Having dealt with the subject fundamentally, I will leave the details of the £80 million and the way of spending it to the Colonial Secretary and his critics.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Sir Victor Raikes (Liverpool, Garston)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) will forgive me if I do not follow his remarks on the population question; but I will just say in passing that in spite of the danger of over-population—and it is very great—any Colonial Secretary who tied himself to a policy of saying, "No money for colonial development unless or until you have a drastic reduction of population" might find himself with even more headaches than he has at present.
§ Sir V. Raikes
The hon. Member says he did not say that, but if he did not, I find it difficult to realise what the gist of the population argument really was.
I want for a few moments to turn to a slightly different aspect of expenditure under the Bill. Everyone has agreed about the need for increased expenditure. One thing of which I am quite certain is that if we are to increase expenditure, the money must be expended in such a way as to lead to increased productivity where it is expended. It is no use merely, for the sake of spending money, to have a long series of groundnut schemes and activities in that category. The money has to be spent on development to ensure that the goods which are produced by the people in the Colonies can be effectively sold outside. Otherwise it means nothing.
For a number of years, as the House is aware, the Colonies have been urged to increase exports so as to be able to import more, and by so doing raise their standard of living, and—this particularly applies to the West Indies—that they should also have a greater diversity of industry and of agriculture. The whole basis of this Bill and the earlier Bill is 1156 to be found in one passage in the Stockdale Report of 1945. It said:It is essential that financial assistance under the Development and Welfare Act should be directed towards the development of productive activities which will help to meet the existing situation and provide a greater measure of employment in the future.That is fundamental.
I remind the Minister of State—because that is also important in view of certain things which have been happening recently in the West Indies—that it was stated, in the recommendations of the Royal Commission which reported in 1945:Specialisation or concentration on a single crop—which in many of these Islands is sugar—is agriculturally undesirable, and is dangerous on economic and biological grounds. The great dangers of specialisation stand out clearly in West Indian experience, and their avoidance should be a cardinal point of future agricultural policy.The difficulty is that it is quite useless to encourage expenditure within our Colonial Territories unless the goods that are produced are saleable.
In recent times we have seen one or two rather alarming examples of what can happen if a Colony is persuaded, or encouraged, to produce certain crops and then, for reasons which the Colony could not have expected at that time, the normal export market for these crops is no longer available. The Minister of State will forgive me if I speak a little frankly, because when I come to Empire and colonial matters I am not particular which side of the House I criticise at any time.
§ Sir V. Raikes
I must not permit any form of red herring to divert me from my theme.
I feel very strongly that the premature purchase of Cuban cigars, for example, played havoc with the Jamaican cigar industry. I was also very much perturbed to find in recent times that a number of open licences were suddenly granted. That had the effect of seriously injuring—and I shall give only one or two examples—certain crops the growing of which has been encouraged in certain Colonies in recent years.
I take the example of Dominica. As the House is aware, lime oil was last summer put on the open general list by 1157 the Board of Trade. As a result, in that small Colony, where nearly half the population is engaged in the production of lime oil, there was a considerable amount of unemployment, because they were producing stuff which they were no longer able to sell to the Commonwealth and United Kingdom markets.
That position is arising to perhaps a greater extent with orange juice, which was put on general licence after lime oil. I give these illustrations because I want the House to remember that if one encourages Colonies to produce, one must ensure that what is produced can be sold, or the unemployment problem to which hon. Members have already referred will arise. Subsidised United States orange juice has completely cut out the West Indian product in Europe. On top of that there are signs that Israel is now making a great bid for the orange juice market in the United Kingdom, which is the only market left to the West Indies.
It is true that the Israeli citrus fruit can be sold under existing circumstances at a lower price than the West Indian product. It is also true, and something which we must face, that freight charges are lower from Haifa to London, for example, than from Trinidad or the Honduras to London. This citrus fruit is, in a sense, the basis of an industry encouraged in the West Indies so that they should not be entirely dependent on sugar and tobacco.
Last year, 200,000 cartons of orange juice were sold by the West Indies. For this year, encouraged to increase their production, they have probably built it up to a figure of 300,000. Already there are not only signs that they will not sell the extra production, but in many cases orders already placed are being cancelled. Those are problems which must be faced by any Government engaged in spending money on colonial development.
Reference has been made to the unemployment question, particularly in Jamaica, and to the West Indian immigration to this country. We all realise that such immigration through our great seaports is a bad thing. I do not know what other hon. Members feel, but I consider that it is difficult to say that it should be checked because it is inconvenient, unless at the same time we provide a stable market within the islands to ensure that these people, who are still 1158 our dependants, can find employment in their own country. If we are not prepared to do that, I do not think we have the right to exclude them from coming here, however deplorable the result may prove to be in many cases.
I understand that under various discussions going on at Geneva we shall be entitled to bring the problem of lack of trade in the Colonies before the G.A.T.T. Powers if a disaster occurs. In my opinion it would be far too late once a disaster had occurred. Until they come to full self-government these Colonies are not dependencies of the G.A.T.T. Powers but of this country.
We have a very strong case for ensuring that we should tackle the question of the production and sale of the produce of these Colonies within the Commonwealth and United Kingdom markets before we ask for advice or help from outside countries, however late in the day. We cannot sacrifice colonial employment for the sake of some kind of agreeable balance of trade between certain Powers at Geneva.
I wanted to put the matter very frankly, but having said that, I would add that I welcome this Measure. I welcome any Measure which provides an opportunity for improving the development and the welfare of Imperial and Colonial Territories. I feel that I am right in thinking that the Colonial Office is not out of sympathy with certain of the things that I have said about the employment position and trade in certain Colonies. I think that we are knocking at what is more or less an open door. It is an issue which must be faced.
In the future these countries will advance from being Dependencies to self-governing Dominions. During the development period it is our duty to ensure that these people receive the full support of this country and of the Empire, not only in developing, but in gaining, stable markets for their goods. Without such stable markets, how can we expect the ordinary people of those countries to develop? I wish, therefore, to urge the Government not to forget an issue which in my view is vital to the whole Imperial set-up.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Winterbottom (Nottingham, Central)
The hon. Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) provided factual evidence in support of my right hon. Friend the 1159 Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who argued in favour of the bulk purchase of primary products in certain instances. To the list he gave I should like to add one more, the cotton-growing industry in Northern Nigeria. When I was out there with the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) there was some concern about its future with the ending of the Raw Cotton Commission. I believe that we must give stability to these developing facets of agriculture as one aspect of this business of colonial development and welfare.
The way in which development capital has been granted in the past, and is to be granted under this Bill, has escaped the sort of criticism which has been applied in the past to other forms of development capital. The reason is comparatively simple, because this is giveaway capital, and no return is asked. Therefore, the standards by which, shall we say, the administration of the funds of the Colonial Development Corporation were judged do not apply particularly to this form of development capital.
Even so, from the little I have seen of the type of work done by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, I think that the moneys have been expended most wisely and have achieved the maximum effect within the ambit of human competence. From the university colleges at Ibadan and Legon to the small windmill systems in Northern Nigeria, everywhere the money had obviously been spent in a way which would secure the maximum effect.
Since the war the main stress has been on welfare rather than on development, and 17 per cent. of the funds have gone on education alone. Perhaps the most significant thing we have done as a colonial Power has been the creation of these great university colleges throughout the Commonwealth. That is something which, when I was there, the French in the French Cameroons considered was remarkable and very wise.
I think that we have passed through that phase. We have laid the basis of education, medical and research systems. We must now to a greater extent turn to the field of development. For that reason I am glad that both the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for 1160 Llanelly stressed the need for a bias of this type of development capital towards investment in the basic services. I think it important that that should be so. Ultimately, the limit to which we in this country can go under this type of Bill depends first on the strength of our own economy and, secondly—it is one aspect of the same thing—upon a favourable balance of trade in the sterling area as a whole with the rest of the world.
I remember the former Colonial Secretary—now Lord Chandos—saying that one cannot invest a deficit, and in all our thinking we must remember that fact. We must have a favourable balance of trade, or, in the long run, we shall not be able to maintain a continued flow of investment into these Colonies. My right hon. Friend said that we should do more, and with that I am in full agreement, but the effect that we can achieve with give-away capital, pure and simple, is limited. Everybody has said that its function is to prime the pump; it is the yeast which makes other forms of capital work, but we must seek out many other forms of capital investment if we are to achieve the most rapid rate of economic development in the territories for which we are responsible.
Considerable sums must still be applied for certain types of social and political aid, especially in the Colonial Territories, but our aim should be towards that type of investment which strengthens not only the economy of the Colony in question but our own as well. If, by a system of mutual aid, both economies are strengthened, in the long run the aid which we can give is markedly increased.
I think that all hon. Members would agree that the major way out of our difficulties in fulfilling our commitments lies in increased productivity, but since we are poor in raw materials a marked increase in our national output must depend upon our having access to raw materials, for which the world is hungry. The Americans are turning away from their own country to buy iron ore, manganese, columbite, tin and other materials from outside the dollar area, and so competing with us. The fundamental point in the development of our economy is that we must have constant access to raw materials. That is why I welcome the fact that paragraph 65 of the White Paper stresses the importance of geological 1161 surveys, which may be able to give us the raw materials necessary for our economy.
One of the most significant things that I discovered when I went to West Africa was that free world supply of columbite conies from the Joss Plateau of Nigeria. There, under very intelligent supervision, the most primitive part of Nigeria is being developed in a most interesting way. The Volta River scheme is an ideal form of that type of development. In that scheme the British and Gold Coast together put up the joint capital for a dam and power station, and Canadians are coming in to build an aluminium smelter. The sum total of this joint activity by three Commonwealth countries is a source of most important raw material in the sterling area.
Students from the Kumasi Technical College—which has been built out of commonwealth development and welfare funds—will probably find their first employment upon the dam and power station, and will then move on to the smelter. There will thus be an integrated development which will not only strengthen the economy of the Gold Coast, but also ours. Further capital must come from other sources, private as well as Governmental.
I want to make one further comment about West Africa, which is the only part of the world where I have been able to study this matter directly. There is general agreement among the Africans there that investment of private capital is necessary for the development of their territories, but, at the same time, there is a profound fear that this investment of private capital will lead to exploitation. The Africans have a split mind upon this subject and when we consider private investment in these territories we must take that fact into account.
It is highly desirable that the participation of Africans in investment should be encouraged. There are considerable funds in private hands in the Gold Coast and Nigeria which, at the moment, are being used mainly for trading and not for industry. If that private capital started going into development it would have a most important effect upon the future of those countries. Secondly, it is most important that Africans should be brought in to the highest levels of management, even on to 1162 boards of directors. The most intelligent companies in West Africa are doing just that, and it will have a very important effect.
It has been emphasised by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development that foreign countries setting up factories in Colonial Territories must institute on-job training for the Africans, so that they can be trained as artisans and then as higher technicians.
A further point which, rather surprisingly, has not yet been touched upon, concerns the function of the co-operative movement, especially producer cooperatives. The great problem which has to be faced by peasant economies is the fragmentation of land. Smallholdings can support a man and his family at a very low standard, but their productivity and, therefore, the standard of living of the people, cannot rise unless the plantation system of cultivation is practised. The only way in which the rights of landowners can be maintained while their technical efficiency is increased, is by the co-operative pooling of land and the use of plantation systems.
That is happening in Western Nigeria. Very successful work has started in persuading cocoa and palm-oil growers to bring their holdings together and work them as producer co-operatives, but further encouragement through capital and otherwise should be given to extend this movement. I was rather interested to see that the World Bank report on Nigeria strongly recommends the provision of money to encourage co-operative production by plantation methods in Eastern Nigeria. That money should also be given for the creation of a co-operative bank to provide financial backing for small producer co-operatives in that part of the world.
Fundamentally, the first step that must be taken by all these territories in order to become more prosperous and to increase national productivity is to make their agriculture more efficient. That point was well brought out in Professor Arthur Lewis's important study on industrialisation, which he did for the Gold Coast. The only source from which an independent Gold Coast Government can hope to draw its capital is from its agriculture. A prosperous agriculture is the basis of all industrial development in the Gold Coast, and by implication, in all other Colonial Territories.
1163 I should like the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs to tell us whether the figures of 10 per cent. in relation to research is sacrosanct. It has been 10 per cent. ever since these Acts came into operation. At present, just over 10.3 per cent. is being expended upon it, which shows that the demand for money to spend upon research is pressing against the limit which has been set upon it. There may be good reasons for holding this level at 10 per cent.; on the other hand, there may be a case for raising it a little.
The simple point of my speech is that from now on stress should be laid upon development rather than welfare, so that social service in these Colonial Territories can be supported upon the sound basis of a strong and healthy economy.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I am sure that all hon. Members will be largely in agreement with what has been said by the hon. Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winter-bottom). About a year ago he and I spent seven delightful weeks in West Africa, not only in Nigeria and the Gold Coast but also in the French Cameroons, Dahomey, and French Togoland. We had the opportunity to compare the two types of Metropolitan Government and I think that we were both proud of what had happened under the Pax Britannica.
We also saw what the old Colonial Development and Welfare Act had achieved, from the windmills of the North, and the roads, such as that running from Enugu to Onitsha, to the universities, research stations, technical colleges and the trade centres which are to be found in many areas. We were indeed proud of them, though I think a little surprised at how few plaques, written either in English or the local tongue, were there to commemorate the help that had been given. Many people must be completely unaware that money was given to provide the amenities which they use every day. It would be a good thing if some permanent record was placed there, for the sake of posterity, if not for the sake of the present.
We all welcome the new Bill, yet wherever one goes throughout the Colonial Commonwealth one gets a feeling that there is much more to be done 1164 by way of development. What is capital? It is only what we deprive ourselves of out of current income in order to put something by so that we can become richer in the years to come. Therefore it is very limited. Unless we are prepared to tax ourselves very much more heavily and to reduce the standard of living at home, the amount of money that can be set aside for the development of the Colonial Territories is bound to be limited.
One has to see the picture as part of the ideological world-wide struggle. I often wonder whether time is on our side in that. There is a vast programme of development. The under-developed territories must be tackled, and tackled quickly, and that may mean that we ourselves shall have to get some help to that end instead of doing the work purely on our own.
I happen to come from a Development Area. I wonder whether what we have learned in this country could be applied to the Colonial Commonwealth. There are some Development Areas in Lancashire where unemployment is lower than the national average, low as that may be. Cannot something be done to direct this limited amount of capital to areas where the need is greatest?
As reported in "The Times" on 1st February, the Archbishop of York said:As long as there is mass unemployment in the West Indies, the best and most active of their people will want to emigrate.It is the best and the most active of their people whom we want to remain there to help to improve the productivity of the area.
In the "New Commonwealth" of 9th December, it was stated:… it is far easier to spend money quickly on social and welfare schemes than on economic projects. Yet it is only from the fruits of economic development that enlarged social services can be sustained when external aid comes to an end.In order to get the higher standard of life that we want to see throughout the Colonial Commonwealth, I believe that the money from these C.D. and W. funds should be channelled more and more into work on the economic side.
Even in my home city of Liverpool, labour is somewhat immobile. A number of friends of mine would hate to take a house on the outskirts of Liverpool because their work is in the centre of the 1165 town, and their friends are there too. That applies in Mokwa where, in that beastly bush country which is quite useless and, for all practical purposes, as bad as the Sahara, there has been this great experiment. Admittedly it has been costly. Last year it produced a ton of corn to the acre in some areas, which enabled help to be given during the famine in Sokoto. Can they get the right type of men there? In the area of Kano there is heavy overpopulation, but the people there do not want to go far afield. This problem must be tackled, and it might be solved by offering some form of financial inducement.
Somehow or other this development must take place. Is it to be public or private? Is it to be agricultural, or, in the heavily overpopulated areas, is it to be industrial? The building of roads, railways and ports, the tackling of major projects such as the Gezira scheme in the Sudan, or what has been done by another C.D.C., the Cameroon Development Corporation, depends largely on land tenure. Something must be done about land tenure. That problem can be tackled only by some public authority, be it a regional development board or a "co-op." If wealth is to be increased, something must be done.
What would the production of British agriculture be if we still followed the Anglo-Saxon system of strip cultivation? The same theory can be applied in West Africa and in other parts of our Colonial Commonwealth, for instance, in the Rufigi River basin. Is it possible that it would pay in the end to spend a substantial sum of money in developing the area round the Tana River, in Kenya, thereby providing an outlet for the Kikuyu who live in overpopulated areas?
We all know that there is a great lack of technicians and, as a result, the emphasis must automatically be on greater agricultural production. Tremendous expense is involved in the big schemes which have been mentioned. Therefore, emphasis must be on the improvement of peasant agriculture. The developments which are taking place in the Gold Coast at Gonja are all very well, but they cost a great deal of money—not that that is always a bad thing. It is often wise to spend money on small pilot schemes to make sure that more money will not be wasted. Having proved that there is an 1166 area in the southern part of the northern area of Nigeria that could produce agricultural wealth, I suggest that a good lesson has been learned, and that it has been worth while spending part of the money which has been lost in Mokwa.
We are also inclined to forget, in a debate like this, what private enterprise can do. In passing, I would say that, although double taxation and the taxation of overseas profits that have not been remitted to this country have been dealt with in recent years, there still remains the problem of a company resident in this country which has to be taxed in this country but cannot take any advantage of the tax-free holidays or special depreciation allowances granted by colonial Governments.
I have to declare my interest in this matter as a director of a company which trades in British West Africa. There is no doubt about this, as my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) said in last week's issue of the "New Commonwealth," in which he quoted from the Royal Commission on the taxation of Profits and Income in its first Report:It does appear, therefore, that a corporation which is resident in the United Kingdom but trades overseas is subject to a different basis of taxation of its overseas profits from that which affects the profits of its probable competitors.It is my submission that, if my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his next Budget, can do something to stimulate private development investment in special areas in the Colonial Commonwealth, it is possible that there will be less need to spend public money there.
The House has already discussed the Colonial Development Corporation. It was given an impossible task. It was asked to look after what were nothing but marginal undertakings, and yet to pay its way. In fact, it had the "left overs" of private enterprise. It expanded too quickly, without sufficient forethought, and its directorate was too far away.
Nor, I believe, is it a good thing for a board of directors in this country to wish details of development from afar on to any particular local area. That development should really come from local initiative, and, therefore, I believe that the 1167 C.D. and W. system of financing has been really much more satisfactory than the C.D.C. form of investment.
That is not to say that the two should not work together as closely as possible, nor that the C.D.C. is not doing a very good job. In that form of merchant banker finance, it has lent money to Lagos for house building and to the Singapore Investment Trust also for the building of homes which are so very badly required. But if imperial maternalism is to give way to partnership, which I believe is the true course of events, expatriate technicians and administrators will always be required.
When the hon. Member for Nottingham, Central and I came back from West Africa last year, we were very worried indeed about the morale of the Colonial Civil Service; but Her Majesty's Overseas Service has gone a long way to raise that morale. Has it, I wonder, gone far enough? In this contracted world, we need able administrators to move about much more than they have done in the past, no longer anchored in a small part of Northern Nigeria or in the East, but able to be switched, possibly in liaison with world development bodies, to other Territories.
Is it not possible to set aside a portion of this vast sum of money to finance a corps d'élite among the Colonial Civil Service, the members of which, possibly, cannot be guaranteed a job for life, but which would underwrite anyhow the expatriate part of both their pay and pensions, so that they need not think in terms of their salary as coming from any particular Government, but can easily be switched throughout the Commonwealth and can be recruited not only from the United Kingdom but from all the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations?
Finally, is this a problem on which we should just "go it alone"? I have read with great interest what is contained in paragraph 93 of the White Paper, which says:It is hoped that Colonial Governments will be able to obtain some of this finance from such bodies as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and that further assistance will be made available by the Government of the United States of America.1168 That is the whole problem. As I see it, this country is a stalwart member of the Atlantic Community, and this problem should really be tackled as a Western problem, with finance to some extent provided by the United States, as well as by this country. By means of the "know-how" of this country, by the land and labour, and I hope ultimately the technical local skill, of the inhabitants of different parts of the Colonial Commonwealth, we can, I believe, build a partnership such as the world has never yet seen.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Gloucestershire, West)
The hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) and my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom) have given the House very interesting accounts of their experiences in West Africa, which I am sure we all much appreciate. I will not follow them there, because I do not know from personal experience the developments they have seen, but I have recently had experiences in East Africa, which might possibly be regarded as a useful contribution to our discussion on this Bill.
Personally, along with my hon. Friends, I wish to say how very much I welcome the Bill as being undoubtedly a means of raising the standard of living and of production, particularly agricultural production, in the Colonial Commonwealth. If I speak mainly about Africa, it is because what little I do know about this subject has been drawn from that quarter.
As the Secretary of State told the House in the debate in December last, only one-sixth of the money invested in the Colonial Empire is found from this Development and Welfare Fund. The rest is found in various other forms, including, to a very large extent, the resources of the Colonies themselves, but I think we ought to bear in mind that much of these funds comes from such sources as the taxation of exports of the products of that country, which is often a burden upon the Colony, making it difficult for it to compete in world markets.
In other words, I think it is our duty to relieve them as much as possible, particularly in times when their staple export products may be going down in 1169 value in world markets. I think that this amount of one-sixth of the total outlay is too low, and that we ought to do all we can to increase it, particularly in the case of those Colonies that are not well developed economically or which have some difficult temporary condition to meet. Nyasaland, for instance, is a relatively poor Colony, and we ought certainly to look to such Colonies as that to see what help we can give them. Others, such as the Gold Coast, are much better off.
Then there is Kenya, a Colony of which I have had some experience, having spent a portion of the Summer Recess there. We all know how in Kenya the authorities are struggling with the powers of darkness, and have been for two years, and what an effect that struggle has on the economy of the Colony. Mr. Vasey, the Finance Minister, was over here recently, and he told us that the emergency is costing the Colony £1½ million a month. In spite of that, the Government of Kenya are going on with the Swynnerton plan on which they envisage just under £7 million being spent—largely out of their own resources—for the development of the Colony.
I think that we could be of great help to a Colony like Kenya, faced as it is with this immense difficulty, and which it is bravely mastering, in enabling it to continue the plan of development upon which it has set its heart. We ought, first, to consider the means by which this help is given. I am very glad that in his speech my right hon. Friend he Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) referred to the need for greater co-ordination between the various funds engaged in colonial development.
It seems as if we may be in some danger of overlapping between all these Funds. There is the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, the Colonial Development Corporation and, in Southern Asia, the Colombo Plan, which, at any rate, seems to cover the Malay States. Then, apparently, another source of financing a new fund, to be set up under the Manila Treaty, for South-East Asia is foreshadowed—I suppose very much under American instigation. Finally, there is the International Bank. With all these sources of funds for colonial development we ought, I think, to be very careful to see that there is no 1170 undue overlapping, and, as far as possible, that the efforts of them all should be co-ordinated.
Again, as my right hon. Friend stated in his speech last December, I do not see why the C.D.W. fund should be confined only to enterprises which are non-profit making. I do not see why it and the Colonial Development Corporation should not work together on big enterprises which, in the long run, will make a profit, but which for many years will not. We cannot expect private capital to be put into such enterprises, because the return would take too long to mature.
I have in mind a particular enterprise about which I have heard something. It is the problem of dealing with the water sources of the Nile. The raising of the level of Lake Victoria Nyanza by five feet will be of tremendous value to the great hydro-electric schemes in Uganda. There are several falls which can be harnessed—
§ Mr. Price
Yes; and those which border on the Belgian Congo.
This is a project of immense significance affecting territory inside and outside the Commonwealth—the Sudan and Egypt—and my evidence is that it will probably give to the peasants in the Sudan and Egypt an extra source of water supply at least as great as they are now getting. This is a colossal undertaking of great international significance. Private capital alone cannot undertake it. It ought to be a combination of public and private enterprise. The International Bank could be brought into the matter which has important political implications.
But it is not only a question of finding the money, important as that is, for big economic projects for the future; for here we are dealing not only with materials, but with men, and with primitive men at that, who have primitive ideas and use archaic methods. We are concerned with the millions of people of Africa, some of whom are barely out of the Stone Age.
I believe that investment in education is a primary and necessary prerequisite of all attempts to raise social and economic standards in the Colony. I am glad to see that of the money hitherto spent out of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, nearly half of it has been allocated to social services. Out of £123 million, 1171 £53 million has been spent on social services. It is extremely important because it is to deal with a problem which runs right through the whole Colonial Empire, the problem of population to which reference has been made by various speakers on both sides of the House. The population is increasing at a faster rate than the food resources and the productivity of the land.
This problem can, of course, be tackled in various ways. I do not altogether agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) in his excursion into the question of birth control. That has serious implications with which I will not now deal, although I will say that I do not think it would be likely to have much effect, if attempted, among primitive tribes, who, up to now have been under the influence of witch doctors. That is the kind of human material with which we have to deal.
Among the Africans, as among the Asians and throughout the Middle East, we get the peasant, who has somewhat improved his condition and who wants to send his son to a technical school or otherwise to improve his education. If such a man has ten or twelve children, he will not be able to do that, whereas he might if he has only five or six children. That is the real answer.
The danger, of course, is that there is bound to be a time-lag between the effect of education in reducing the birthrate and the speed of increase in the food resources. A country might well founder in the course of the next hundred years or so if we cannot find means to reduce that time-lag. That is the serious problem which population experts see looming in the future. The problem of raising the standard of cultivation of the land is really that of getting adequate staffs of agricultural advisers and veterinary practitioners. That is particularly valuable for the African, and especially the East African, whose livestock industry is very large.
According to the Swynnerton Plan about 600,000 families in the Colony own livestock. If they were to raise the quality of their livestock by improving the types they could increase their annual income per family from about £10 to about £100, in other words a tenfold increase. That is the kind of improvement 1172 to which I should like to see some of this money go. It would not be the most spectacular use, but in a quiet way, and over a term of years, we should see results.
The trouble with the African pastoral tribes is that they reckon value in head of stock and not in quality. I met a headman whose family was supposed to be very rich indeed, because it owned thousands of head of livestock. I looked at the animals and found them mostly skin and bone. If the number of animals were reduced by half and increased in quality the real value would be far higher. An immense weight of prejudice has to be overcome among these primitive tribes. Another tribe I met were cultivators and not a pastoral tribe. They were growing wheat, and did rather well. On one farm I found a lot of farmyard manure lying about, and I asked, "Why isn't that on the land?" The reply was, "We have to keep some back to bury the older members of our family. We have an old grandfather who might die." That is the kind of problem with which agricultural advisers have to deal, but they are slowly breaking it down.
I was much impressed with the devoted work done by the band of agricultural and veterinary advisers whom I met out there. They are in the service of the Kenya Government and are all young men from this country. Many have university degrees and have been through agricultural and veterinary courses. They are stuck away in remote areas, particularly that wonderful country between Lake Victoria Nyanza and the Sudan-Abyssinia frontier. It is very isolated country, especially to the West of the Great Rift Valley. They are doing this devoted work, but they cannot do all of it by themselves. We cannot recruit enough people here to do work of that kind, which is so badly needed out there, so we shall have to train the Africans to be assistants to those experts and advisers. It is a question of education in those Colonies.
In page 61, paragraph 9, the Swynnerton Plan says:It is considered that much more attractive salaries will have to be offered in relation to other services to Africans, to encourage them to take up agriculture on which the economy of East Africa will be based for a long time to come, as a profession.1173 Similarly, I see that paragraph 37 of the White Paper which the Government issued to us says:The need for education is perhaps the greatest and the most urgent.That is why I urge that a large portion of this £120 million should go to education of the kind to which I have referred.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom) referred to co-operatives. I agree that producers' co-operatives are extremely important. In one tribe I visited, the Elgevo tribe near the Great Rift Valley, a number of families had got together into a cooperative to buy themselves a combine. They were growing first-class wheat, for which the advisers had helped them to get seed of the highest quality. At their previous harvest, the white settlers not far away had harvested it for them and, they said, had charged them too much. They had, therefore, formed a co-operative and had bought themselves this combine. They were getting on very nicely. That is the kind of thing which Government funds should help.
I return to the question of agricultural and veterinary advisers among the Africans. An extension is required of the existing training establishments, which are excellent. I spent a day at Siriba College, in West Kenya, where I found they were turning out 50 teachers a year for the primary and secondary schools, 25 agricultural instructors and 15 veterinary instructors from among the Africans, who were going out to do this work. We must try to speed up that process. There are other institutions, but that is the best one and it is doing the most.
We cannot get satisfactory technical education for the Africans unless we have enough entrants into the training colleges, and we shall not get them until we get enough teachers for the primary schools. We have, therefore, to start with fundamental primary education. Up till now, primary education in Kenya has been almost entirely in the hands of the missionaries of the three Churches: the Anglican Church, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church. They have done capital pioneering work, but the bulk of it should now be taken over by the State. The missionary schools can continue their good work but we must 1174 spread primary education into the tribal reserves to form the basis of the technical education which is so badly needed for the purposes I have outlined. In that way we shall produce a higher standard of life among the African population. The emphasis in this colonial welfare work should be primarily on education.
Important though health welfare work is, it is not enough. Indeed, it may aggravate the danger by increasing the population through a lowering of the death rate—particularly the infantile death rate—while not, at the same time, increasing agricultural production. That may lead mankind in Africa down the slippery slope. Health work must go on, but efforts must be made to increase productivity on the land in the way I have suggested. I hope that the emphasis on sound investment foreshadowed in this Bill will bring the results desired. If we show faith and initiative I am certain that we can solve this problem.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I am sure that the Secretary of State will have welcomed the warm reception which this Bill has received on all sides of the House. Having agreed to the excellence of the Bill so far as it goes, it is also fortunate that we are able to discuss the much wider aspect of colonial investment.
One of the things that impresses me most about the Bill is the excellence of the idea of continuity and availability of money to colonial Governments. Everyone who makes investments knows that the importance of this process of investment continuing without interruption lies not only in the cost of plant and other things being constructed, but also in the ability to make plans on a longer and sounder basis.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) suggested that the sums mentioned are utterly inadequate and that much more should have been provided. I think that his hon. Friends will agree that the British taxpayer is not prepared to reduce his own standard of living to make the lot of the African that much better. This Bill goes quite a way, but what we have to consider now are the wider issues of what more can be done. I am sure that my right hon. Friend would agree that the main achievement of this Government has been to make available the surpluses which may be 1175 invested in the Colonial Territories, either by Government or by private action.
A point with which I am sure we are all in accord is that made by many hon. Members and by the right hon. Member for Llanelly about agricultural production. When I was attached to the Colonial Office for a short period I saw something of that side. The one thing above all else that strikes one, whatever the technical possibilities of research stations may be, however easy, theoretically, one can increase with certain types of animal the national milk yield from 100 to even 400 gallons per annum, is that the problem is to get it across to the rather backward farmers with whom one is dealing. That is the main problem of the Colonial Service.
It is even possible that the Colonial Service demands too high a standard of some of the agricultural officers. The main problem is not so much technical as psychological; to get the individual farmer to co-operate not so much in a very advanced or the very latest method, but in the method which is practicable.
§ Mr. Philips Price
If I may say so, that is exactly what impressed me so much among the staff I met out there. They were not just theoretical people, but were trying to apply that very thing.
§ Mr. Fraser
I agree, but in the past those people have had to pass a very high standard of examination. If we are to recruit sufficient people we may have to accept some who fall short of that high degree. That point could possibly be borne in mind.
In the whole field of investment the main thing that this Government have done is surely in regard to the greater wealth which is now available. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State read out the sterling balances existing today, and I think that further economic assistance could possibly come from that source. As every hon. Member knows, the problem of investment in a comparatively backward area is not only the money available but the speed with which it can be invested. Professor Arthur Lewis has said, and everyone in the Colonial Office knows, that it is possible to invest money too fast. If that happens there is set up a whole series of problems which lead to inflation and upset the 1176 pyramid of business, of technicians and artisans, and of administration. The rate of investment, therefore, constitutes a problem.
Today, we are obviously faced with the further problem of the amount of money available. The steps which have been taken by my right hon. Friend in agreeing to release certain of the reserves backing currencies will make available considerable sums by the sale of British securities and their replacement by local securities and local bonds. That is a step forward, made possible only by our increased wealth in the last few years.
There are other ways in which real advantage can be derived for future funds for colonial development. I was surprised at the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Llanelly that, in certain Colonial Territories, taxation was not high enough. I would go exactly the other way and say that the drawing of the sums necessary into the Colonial Territories can only come from a low level of taxation here and in those areas. It is not a question of escape capital but of looking realistically at the risks and problems facing the capitalist who is investing in those Territories.
Taxation in the Colonies should be looked at in a special light and consideration given to the sums which will eventually need to be invested in them. The actual investment per head in this country works out at at least £1,000 per worker. With that in mind, one must think of the sums which will one day have to be found for the colonial areas to bring their people to a standard equal to our own. It may be in the far-distant future, it may take three or four hundred years, but the sums which must be found eventually will be colossal, and probably the only way of finding the sums necessary without imposing a cut in our own standard of living is by attracting capital which can itself produce the wealth.
In the last few days, President Eisenhower has sent a message to Congress asking for a special 14-point programme to assist Americans who are prepared to invest their money outside America. How much easier it should be for this country to give a concession to those wishing to invest in British Colonial Territories.
One hon. Member opposite spoke of the problem facing us, and the world— 1177 the raw materials problem. Hon. Gentlemen will have read the Paley Report—which had a great effect on America two or three years ago—which showed where the deficiencies would be; deficiencies in copper, in natural rubber and almost every natural product either grown or mined from the earth. At the moment British taxation on mining, oil production and a great many of the other extractive industries is fantastically disadvantageous to the entrepreneur compared with taxation in the United States of America. This is a point which the House should bear in mind.
It may be that the oil companies are making colossal profits, but it is also true that an oil company working in a British area compared with an American oil company working in that area is at a great disadvantage. There are no depletion allowances, nor any of the other allowances which are given to American operators. These factors are important for the future of the Colonies and of this country, because the sums involved are very large. If money is available for investment in these colonial areas, it is better that the investment should be made by British capital rather than foreign capital.
Another argument put forward by the right hon. Member for Llanelly was that bulk purchase was the answer to so many of these colonial problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) suggested that Imperial Preference was also vital to certain areas. I believe that what is much more important to the colonial producer than either bulk purchase or Imperial Preference is to ensure that the volume of world trade is high, and that is what this Government are attempting to do.
If we look at the prices of such commodities as cocoa, coffee, or even groundnuts or tea, we find that this spreading world trade is pushing up these prices and is making available to the people who grow these things, either as peasants or through co-operatives or plantations, a higher standard of living than has ever been available before. I believe that is a good thing. But also, of course, there are special areas. There is, I believe, a special area in the West Indies which has a special difficulty, but it is folly to think that through bulk purchase or Imperial Preference alone we can sustain those 1178 areas in the way we would like to see them sustained.
I am afraid it is true that the quality of production of many of the citrus fruits is poor. We want to see improved citrus fruit production. I hope that some of these funds will be devoted to seeing that fruit from the West Indies is better grown and better graded, so that it becomes competitive with the citrus of Israel, the United States and Spain.
It is not impossible that a system of a support price, such as is given to the British farmer for some of his products, would be infinitely better than tariffs or bulk purchase. I believe it might be possible to work out a principle to provide an inducement to quality production but to assume that quality production can be obtained behind protective tariff walls or as a result of bulk purchase is wrong. We have seen how it has failed. We have seen quality production going down. We have become aware of that, either through eating these commodities or dealing with them as merchants.
This Bill is an important step in the right direction. The needs of the Colonial Empire are enormous, and the only way those needs can be fully met is by developing an efficient industrial system in this country, by the encouragement of a high level of world trade and by the pursuit of reasonable policies of sound finance by Her Majesty's Government.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
An outstanding feature of this debate is that hon. Members on both sides of the House agree about the Second Reading of this Bill. We are also all agreed that one of the major problems of today is to bring the East and the West together in a common understanding, and to encourage the people in the countries which we seek to help through this Bill not only to be willing to receive help but also to use that help in such a way that they will help themselves and establish their own economic system.
One of the mediums which can be used to this end in the under-developed countries is the co-operative organisation. Reports have shown time and time again that the co-operative credit societies and co-operative agricultural societies 1179 have not only helped these people to establish better economic conditions but have also helped them towards an understanding of democratic control. The story of the co-operative movement in some of these countries has shown great initiative and new developments in many ways.
We should remember also that not only does the co-operative organisation give an improved economic standard to these people but, through their co-operative organisations, they begin to move towards the idea that they can themselves develop the social and welfare side of their own activities. During the last few months, in particular, we have seen in many of our Colonies political desires tending to outstrip technical and social developments.
That is quite natural because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said, many of these people, through past experience, have come to regard the white people as those who own not only economic strength but political power. We have in some way to try to mobilise the desires of these people for political improvement alongside the tendency, which we hope will develop, of social and technical development.
Through co-operative activities we have seen, in almost every country where this movement has taken root, people lifted out of their bondage of indebtedness to the moneylenders in those countries. As a result of assistance to these people to establish their co-operative credit societies, they have gradually worked towards greater freedom from those people to whom for generations they have been in human bondage.
In Malaya there are housing societies. We see the beginning of a desire among these people co-operatively to improve not only their workaday life but also the conditions in which they live—and so they start to build their own houses. We are told that nearly half of the vegetables produced in Hong Kong are marketed and handled by co-operative societies and farmers' collective societies. We see on the Gold Coast examples of the value of co-operative development. The Gold Coast Co-operative Federation has been organised for the purpose of trying to develop educational work in the Gold Coast.
1180 But it is perhaps in Nigeria where we see some of the most outstanding cooperative developments. There we have societies in which women play a very large part. Because of the activities of cooperative organisations we have seen developments on the social side. For example, there are four co-operative maternity societies. Looked at in relation to the great problem which exists of providing help for mothers, that may seem insignificant, but at any rate we see there examples of women trying to organise themselves co-operatively, not only in order to bring a better standard of health for themselves but also in order to ensure a better chance for the children about to be born.
I remember that in my early days as a member of a local authority we had to fight very bitterly in this country—in the pre-war days—to decrease maternal mortality and to provide ante-natal and welfare clinics. The results of these four cooperative maternity societies show that out of 372 successful births there was only one case of maternal mortality. The value of that kind of development lies not so much in the figures of the achievements but in the fact that it begins to lay the foundation for a desire amongst these people for better health and better hospital accommodation and provides a training in cleanliness and a freeing of the people in many cases from the superstition which has surrounded them in the past.
There are other examples one can instance in which school books have been provided through co-operative organisations. In Cyprus there is a co-operative school savings bank through which 55,000 children save £3,800 a week. That is no mean achievement in a place which will perhaps present some problems to us in the future.
I should like to see help given, perhaps to a greater extent than it has been given, towards co-operative development, not merely because it has lifted people out of the control of the moneylenders, which has existed in the past, but because it has trained them in good management, for they have to learn to manage their societies. When co-operative societies are successful, these people are trained in a sense of honesty and responsibility not only towards their organisations but also towards the people with whom they come in contact.
1181 Above all, this work lays the foundation of democratic training. If we are to solve the problems which confront us in many of our Colonies, we must encourage these people to realise that democracy and not Communism is the right way out for them. I believe that the co-operative movement offers an opportunity for that kind of training and organisation.
I should like to see co-operative societies, and the movement generally in this country, prepared to help this type of development to a much greater extent than at present. Hon. Members may be interested to note that a resolution has been put down for our Congress this year by which we hope to mobilise the efforts of the co-operative movement in this country in order to extend the work in our Colonies.
Lastly, I want to speak of the educational side, particularly in relation to the help which we can give to women in those countries. It has been said, "If you teach a man you teach one person, but if you teach a woman you teach a family"; and I think that is very largely true.
§ Mrs. Slater
I think it is true, because once the woman becomes convinced of what she has been taught, she tends to extend that teaching to her family and to people around her.
In Nigeria we have examples of cooperative development where women have organised themselves in order to improve their social conditions. There are about 10,000 women members of co-operative societies in Eastern Nigeria, and there are 96 societies of which only women are allowed to be members—although I am not sure that that is a good thing. The fact remains that women have tried to organise themselves through co-operative societies.
If we could encourage and help to develop the co-operation of the womenfolk in the work which we are trying to do, and sympathy with it, we should probably make very much greater strides than we are making at present. Of developments in Pakistan in particular, someone has written that if, in the early development of the underdeveloped counties, it is realised that women can contribute to the social and economic life, 1182 we should then assign to them a due share of the work, and, as a result, we should go a long way towards solving many of the problems which confront us.
I therefore ask that some of the money which we plan to spend on the educational side should be used so that we can give opportunities for women to be trained, educated, and organised. We should then find that women would be very useful in the development of societies, mainly of the cottage industry type. They would help, too, on the marketing side. The ability of women to organise would help considerably in thrift and good management.
I therefore plead for two lines of approach—co-operative help and help for women. While I realise that to a great extent the money which we are to provide through the Bill must be expended on large-scale planning, let us not forget that unless we have the support and the co-operation of the people themselves, and unless we train them in democratic government and in the control of their own organisations and social activities, we shall be failing in the work which we ultimately hope to do through the provisions of the Bill.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
I am more than pleased to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater), especially in view of the theme she was presenting—a feminist point of view, expressed in not too masculine a way. I much appreciate it, as a humble male, when such an occasion arises.
§ Mr. Williams
I will try to do it in a courteous way and maybe that will meet the purposes of both sides of the House.
I am also happy to follow the hon. Lady's references to education, because that is one of the most important themes that has come out continuously in this debate. For it is only through a further and more realistic education aimed at the right level that we can get the maximum results out of colonial development and welfare that we all wish to see.
Before I come to those points, however, there were certain issues raised by 1183 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) which should be answered in greater detail, and on which we should have more specific figures from the Opposition. One of my hon. Friends asked the right hon. Gentleman how much more the programme should envisage. We have been given in this Bill a figure which I think would be acceptable generally as reasonable, but the right hon. Gentleman painted, with a certain amount of Welsh oratory, a picture of flowing millions and grandiose plans—things which we would like to conjure up in our imaginations—but left obscure the details of how much that increase should be and how the increase should be provided.
I should have thought that if speakers on the other side of the House believed that, they should go into further details of how much more the Opposition is willing to say that this country should expend. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly said there was need for an increased programme. I would suggest to the Opposition that if there is to be an increased injection of British finances into colonial development, the net result, if it is over-estimated, will be to make Colonial Territories that much more dependent on this country, which surely is the reverse of what we all wish to see.
What we want to see is Colonial Territories growing up to be self-sufficient—interdependence perhaps, but not dependence, and not increased dependence upon the economy of this country.
§ Mr. Williams
The hon. Gentleman should have listened to his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who rebutted a great part of this rather wild charge that nothing happened in the Colonial Territories before 1945 except that water flowed downhill. That is true water did flow downhill, but other things happened as well.
I want to follow some of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) who made particular reference to the economy in the West Indies. No one here can be completely happy about the flow of people 1184 from the West Indies to this country. I am not suggesting at the moment that there is any need to prevent that movement, but we should examine in detail the reasons why it is taking place.
I suggest there are two reasons. The first is that we have full employment and a good standard of living in this country, which is an enticement. 'The second, which is just as important, and to which we should address ourselves this evening, is the poverty and the poor conditions existing in the West Indies. While on this side of the House we accept that much has been done in the past, let us not be smug about it and pretend that the position is perfect. Of course it is not.
As the Secretary of State said in opening this debate, this is a particularly appropriate day on which to hold it, in that this is the day on which my right hon. Friend has been able to make an announcement on Caribbean Federation. I should think that from this closer association, this gathering together of the Colonies of the West Indies, we stood the chance of developing a cohesive economy—
§ Mr. Williams
This will be an economy which will hang together and to which we shall be able to give better support, because it will be a unit and not a series of conflicting demands.
As the hon. Member for Garston said, there is need for a careful examination of our responsibilities and duties under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I would have thought that the position of the citrus industry in the West Indies was one for which we have special responsibility. After all, it was on the encouragement of the United Kingdom that the industry was initiated and developed. Now, at the moment of its fruition, this trade is faced with inability to sell in the market here because of surplus products from the United States and Israel.
I am not suggesting that we should so support the production from the West Indies as to encourage the production of poor-quality products, but the suggestion of a support of prices is one which bears examination. We want to make it easier for the West Indian producer to sell in fair competition with other countries in 1185 the market in the United Kingdom. I do not pretend that it will be a major step in solving the problems of the West Indies, but it will be at least a significant step in helping them solve their present problem, the sale and marketing of the products of an industry which we encouraged them to develop.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly mentioned the priorities discussed in this Bill. An hon. Gentleman opposite quoted from paragraph 37 of the White Paper as follows:The need for education is, perhaps, the greatest and the most urgent.That, as I said earlier, seems to be a continuing theme throughout this debate. We have talked repeatedly of the need for more technical education. I would carry that one stage further, and inquire whether we can be satisfied in this country that the students coming here to study are not coming in too great numbers to study law and various other of the professions, and in too small numbers to study the technical trades.
We should exert our influence, where it is most appropriate, to alter that balance so that a higher percentage of students who come to this country should come to study the technical trades of engineering and farming—
§ Mr. Williams
They do, indeed.
I am suggesting, however, that there should be a change in balance, that too high a percentage are coming to study the professions and too small a percentage coming to study engineering, agriculture, and the other trades which are of paramount importance if our work in colonial development is to bear full fruit in the field—in every sense of the word—of engineering, of the development of light industries, and, in time perhaps, of heavy industries also; and in the development of food production, which we know to be of vital importance in maintaining any population. I suggest that we should try to exert our influence to alter the balance in favour of those who come to study for the professions to a heavier balance in favour of technical trades.
The next priority after food production must be the development of better communications. I should have thought that British Guiana and British Honduras might well have benefited by a greater 1186 investment in communications at an earlier stage. I believe that even at this stage there is great need for further investment to improve communications.
In spite of the injection that we are giving the Colonial Territories by these funds, let us never forget that it is through private investment, coupled with Government assistance, that we can best achieve the type of development that we want. I should have thought that to pour scorn on those who invest in the Colonies was to cut off the chance of maximum development. I seriously believe that, when party points are cast aside, we should all welcome those who invest money in the Colonies, certainly so that they can make a profit, but also so that the peoples of those Territories may themselves benefit.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
There are other hon. Members who wish to speak, and as much has been said on this interesting subject I propose to occupy the time of the House for about 10 minutes only, which I am sure will make many hon. Members grateful to me for the first time in their lives.
We have been discussing a vast subject today, but it is encouraging that, notwithstanding criticism that has been made by some hon. Members opposite in respect of the failure of the Opposition to indicate by how much it wished the sum to be increased, we have only to look back to the early days of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund to realise how much more we are spending now than then. If it had been suggested 10 years ago that we should embark upon expenditure which I am sure we shall today unanimously sanction, there would have been many in the House who would have argued that Britain could not and should not afford it. Consequently, present criticism in that respect is rather unwarranted.
I believe we shall have to spend far more in the next few years if only because, having sown, we shall reap the harvest and, in so doing, find ourselves involved in still further obligations. It has been pointed out more than once today that as we progress in our expenditure of money overseas for colonial welfare and development, and in other ways, there come increasing demands for the very things which we seek to supply.
1187 This arises in two ways. There is the physical and practical side. As life is made more agreeable, and hygiene, medical knowledge, and sanitation development spread, so population increases at a greater rate. Consequentially, there is a further demand upon financial resources to meet the extra social services desired and demanded by the expanded population.
There is another factor, a psychological one. As colonial peoples begin to appreciate a higher standard of living, their tastes are stimulated. So long as they are accustomed to live in a simple way, their hopes and ambitions are very slight. When they begin to appreciate the benefit of education, communications, some rudimentary literature, better lighting, and so forth, their standards inevitably rise, and they expect more.
For these two reasons alone—first, practical and physical and, second, psychological reasons—we must inevitably anticipate still further investment from this country into colonial areas. However, we must not run away with the idea that this is an act on our part which is entirely philanthropic and beneficial or expedient and prudent. No doubt there are those elements which have spurred us to an ever-greater concern about overseas investment, but there is another reason—an appreciation that what we are granting by way of these funds is, in some measure at least, a return to the colonial peoples for the wealth that they have supplied to our own country.
In saying that I am not suggesting the wealth that we have accumulated from colonial sources has all been due to exploitation, a term which is very ambiguous, but into which I will not go now. I am not making that allegation, but I am stating that, both in a precise and a more general form, part of the wealth which is making us a prosperous country today has been derived, and is being derived, from the colonial areas. Therefore, what we are returning is part of the benefit that has already accrued to us.
I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that, while it is vitally necessary to spend these funds upon welfare and development, nevertheless our ultimate aim is to encourage the economies of the Colonial Territories. If that is not so, I am certain the peoples in 1188 the Colonies themselves will begin to complain that they are merely receiving benefits from overseas sources, and that their economies, basically, are still poor. They will then begin to ask why their economies cannot be made more productive than they have been in the past.
Occasionally the Territories are very fortunate. There is the case of Brunei, which I had the privilege of visiting recently. Sarawak and North Borneo, while not hungry countries, are relatively poor, and North Borneo has a deficit. Yet Brunei, between those two Territories, with a population of 54,000, half of whom are under 21 years of age, is almost as wealthy per capita as this country because of the presence of oil in great abundance. There may be a certain danger that the people of Brunei will feel they have no need to exert themselves to secure the presents from the Christmas tree, but, apart from that, this is an example of natural good fortune, and the people are benefiting accordingly.
Apart from such areas as that, and they are very few, the great majority of the people in the Colonies live lives of natural poverty, and are involved in the age-long primitive struggle for survival. Consequently, if they are ever to be raised above a very lowly level, there must be much greater internal production per head so that they can be able to redistribute the product of their improved economy to the benefit of their people as a whole.
I thoroughly agree with hon. Members who have suggested there are in this country and in the Colonies those who do not entirely appreciate the highly complex problems, psychological and otherwise, facing us in our attempt to overcome this natural problem. I am aware that some people here imagine the people in the Colonies are poor essentially because we are relatively rich. That is not so. There would have been poverty in the Colonies and elsewhere, probably even more acute than today, if Britain and other European powers had never visited those countries.
Malaya is an example. The relatively higher standard of life and the greater wealth of that Territory compared with some other Colonies is due largely to rubber and tin. Rubber was introduced into Malaya by an English colonial servant who, happily, is still alive. That is an amazing fact. It illustrates what I 1189 am trying to say, that Colonies are not necessarily poor because we are wealthy.
But while there is a natural poverty in some countries which can only be overcome by the application of industrial and agricultural science, I am certain that, unless and until there is an appreciation of the relationship of the economic problem to the political problem, one is not likely to secure either an appreciation of these complex problems on the part of the indigenous people or the necessary emergence of driving power on their part to enable them to expand their economy and to secure wiser and better distribution.
Only when responsibility is thus transferred can one bring home to the people involved that upon them will rest the obligation, not only to rearrange their economy, but to put in more dynamic energy and constructive planning than before. To give an illustration, I was heartened when I was in India recently to see, as a result of the five-year economic plan, that not only has India a surplus of grain for the first time for many years, but she is also developing hydro-electricity as in the impressive Bhakra-Nangal Dam, 200 miles from Delhi. Not only is India rejuvenating village life, but she is showing signs everywhere of the accumulating results, not merely of economic planning, but of people having that necessary dynamic incentive. It is impossible for us to separate the economic plan we envisage for the colonial areas from the realisation that there must also be a consistent solution of ways and means by which political responsibility can be transferred.
Nevertheless, I believe that the Colonial welfare and development funds already made available to colonial areas are beginning to be appreciated. I understand that a colleague of mine on the other side of the House, who visited Malaya and South-East Asia with me, bore tribute to some of the hospitals he saw. I want to bear one tribute from many I could give to the direct effect of the Colonial welfare and development funds and other resources provided from this country.
I saw the work of Malayan irrigation, resulting in paddy fields now being able to yield rice which they could not yield before in such measure. Irrigation is a 1190 tremendous service. It does not always yield an immediate result, but it does so ultimately. I am happy to bear that tribute; it is not exclusive, but I give it by way of a single illustrative example.
Reference has been made to the need for education. I entirely endorse that, and would say it has a prior claim, but again it cannot be separated from other claims. One cannot have diseased children going to school and benefiting from education while they are suffering from hookworm or tuberculosis. Therefore, along with education there must be development of medical services as well. Medical services must be extended to give children a chance to benefit from their education. But if the education is there, there must also be suitable jobs available, because if there are not, there will obviously be a psychological reaction of resentment, bitterness, and disillusionment.
There must be suitable employment, consequent on educational progress but this cannot be supplied unless there is not only increased production of consumer goods within the Colony but also increased exports. If one is to have increased exports, before long one may have the same problem in some respects as we had about citrus fruits. Increased production and export of citrus fruits may no longer be possible from some colonial areas because other producers of citrus fruits have beaten them out of the world market, and so increased production becomes a waste instead of a boon.
Obviously, therefore, there must be some control of production and some degree of planning. Whether we are Socialists, or non-Socialists, planning must inevitably extend systematically and steadily throughout our Commonwealth and further afield as well. Thus each aspect of colonial development and welfare interlocks.
I promised to speak for about 10 minutes and I think I have almost fulfilled my promise. I say finally, then, that I welcome what is proposed in the Bill, but we must recognise that it cannot be separated from other necessary developments if the Colonies are to be developed both physically and psychologically to the benefit of peoples alike in the Colonies and at home.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
I hope that the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) will forgive me if I do not follow him in very close detail, but I would like to say to him that I am sure that hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House share my very great satisfaction and, if I may say so, my surprise, at the delightful heresies he has been uttering.
§ Mr. Iremonger
We are most satisfied and pleased at the tribute he has seen fit to pay to the benefits which colonial peoples have derived from the way in which the Mother Country has for many generations discharged her responsibilities to them.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I have been saying this for years, long before the hon. Member began to think about it.
§ Mr. Iremonger
That is quite possible and I am delighted to hear it. I can say only that my acquaintance with the hon. Member's views has been formed from views he has published, and, unless I am labouring under an illusion, the views which he has published have very often been quite contrary to those he has expressed this afternoon. If I am wrong, I am delighted to apologise to him and I only hope that these views, coming as they do from that side of the House, may be propagated with benefit to the world at large.
I want, in welcoming the Bill, to draw attention to Clause 2 which enables colonial development and welfare assistance to be given to the New Hebrides. I think that I can rightly claim to be the only hon. Member who has been responsible for the administration of that strange corner of our Empire. Hon. Members who have read Mr. Tom Harrison's remarkable book, "Savage Civilisation" will agree with me that there is no stranger corner in our variegated Commonwealth, and none more in need of assistance for development and the welfare of its inhabitants.
As hon. Members know, the New Hebrides are an Anglo-French condominium—in the Western Pacific they are affectionately known as the pandemonium. The Supreme Court proceedings, for example, are carried on in two languages. All official communications 1192 are in triplicate and in two languages, English and French. In the Supreme Court there are two judges, one English and one French, and, to see fair play, there is a neutral judge who was at one time Spanish and could speak neither English nor French, and, into the bargain, was deaf. It was possibly the closest judicial approximation to the three wise monkeys ever achieved.
In the Island of Erromanga in the New Hebrides one can find an area of five square miles in which there are five separate tribes speaking five different languages, each one of which is incomprehensible to the other four. It is a unique country in that respect. It is unique in that in the Supreme Court there are the three judges and the two parties, each one having three interpreters. The country is unique also in that in the New Hebrides today I think we may find the sole surviving tribe within the British Empire which actively practises cannibalism. I am referring to the Great Mamba tribe. Indeed, the people of the New Hebrides can claim to have eaten more Anglican bishops than any other people on the face of the earth—
§ Mr. Iremonger
If the hon. Member for Leyton knows of any people who have eaten more, I will willingly concede the point.
§ Mr. Iremonger
The names have slipped me for the moment. But one name does not slip me. If I may deviate for a moment into, I think, Wesleyan Methodism, I would give the name of John Williams, that great pioneer—
§ Mr. Iremonger
No, he was not a bishop, as his Church was a non-Episcopalian institution, but were there bishops in the Methodist Church, he would have been one. Having eaten John Williams, I think that is a fair enough example to carry on with; but I will gladly supply the hon. Gentleman later with the details.
In view of the savagery of these peoples, one does wonder what unkind 1193 Johnsonian inspiration it was that originally caused their islands to be called the New Hebrides. Seriously, though, I wish to welcome the Bill with special reference to the New Hebrides as a notable step forward in empirical international co-operation in the colonial field. In this connection, and in passing, I should like to draw the attention of the House to the activities of the Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa south of the Sahara, which is an organisation of experts of different nationalities in their own colonial fields which, I think, constitutes an example which might well be followed in the problems which will arise in applying this Bill to the New Hebrides.
§ Mr. I. O. Thomas
Would the hon. Member include the teaching of electric cooking to the cannibals of the New Hebrides?
§ Mr. Iremonger
I think that the hon. Member would be well advised to bring with him his own interpreter when he comes to the House.
§ Mr. Iremonger
And that applies also to the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan), who ought to have a permanent interpreter attached to him.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I wish to ask four questions of my right hon. Friend who is to reply for the Government and I hope that he will be able to supply me with the answers. Three of these questions are in connection with the New Hebrides. First, for the benefit of the House, will my right hon. Friend please indicate the nature of the contemplated financial arrangements with the French Government in order to carry out the provisions of Clause 2 of the Bill? It is only an enabling Clause, and unless there are arrangements with the French Government for equitable financial disposition of the responsibility, this Clause will remain unimplemented. In fact, it will be a farce. I should not like to think that a Bill had been introduced into this House containing such a Clause without there being a prospect of its provisions being turned into a reality.
1194 Secondly, I wish to ask my right hon. Friend what he intends to do, when calling for plans for developing the New Hebrides, about the responsibilities of the South Pacific Commission? That Commission is comparable with the Caribbean Commission. It is one of those international colonial commissions which I believe have a great part to play. The staffing of this remote and curious condominium is such that one can hardly expect that there will be forthcoming from the officers on the spot the kind of thought which we might hope to have if we seek the opinion and advice of the South Pacific Commission, which has obviously been concerning itself over the past six years with the various problems of different territories in the South-West Pacific.
Thirdly, I should like to ask whether we might hope that in the development of the New Hebrides an opening may be found which might eventually prove a solution to the only, but the very considerable, problem in the Colony of Fiji arising out of the growing over-population of the Colony and the very great preponderance of Indians over Fijians which will be inevitable within the next generation. It is a problem about which we should be thinking seriously. We should not always wait for the kettle to boil over before doing something about it.
In Fiji, the Indians are now increasing at a rate which quite rightly causes alarm to the Fijian people, whose land it is and for whom we are responsible. The only outlet for surplus Indians—if one may call them such—is recruitment as labour in French New Caledonia, but I understand that that is likely to provide work for only a very few, and we must think in terms of providing work for tens of thousands for the next 50 years in other parts of the Pacific.
It should be possible to create conditions in other Pacific territories, such as the Solomons, or the New Hebrides, which will attract the type of Indian cultivator who has thrived so well in Fiji and whom Her Majesty's Government can wish nothing but well. I hope that the Government will indicate whether, having planted this cuckoo in the nest, we are now prospecting a suitable branch upon which to place him when he outgrows the nest, as he is in danger of doing during the next twenty-five years.
My fourth question is this. I was most impressed by what my hon. Friend the 1195 Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) said about his visit to Nigeria. He said that there one sees works which are the result of funds provided by the British taxpayer, and which provide amenities and benefits for the local people, and yet which never bear any indication of having been provided in that way. The Colonial Office might well take the initiative in impressing upon officers in the field the importance and value to the future relationships between ourselves and our wards of making known to them the nature of the assistance which our people so ungrudgingly give them. I should like to feel that some of these benefits, such as docks, harbours, wells and windmills, carried an indication to those who can read that they were installed as a gift from the British people, who are associated with the country in which they are situated at this stage in its development.
In addition to those four questions, there are two general points to which I want to refer. First, the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that he objected to the Bill because more funds should be provided, and many of my hon. Friends have invited the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) to be just a little more specific upon that point when he speaks. We should like to know what is meant by "more." I should like to know not only how much more should be given, but also in what form the extra sum should be raised from our people. This is a question which must be faced, and it would be interesting to hear from hon. Members opposite a concrete proposal.
As everybody knows, the Fabian Society has very properly concerned itself with this question, and has circularised its members about it. I believe it has said something to this effect, "Recognising, as we do, that we want to raise funds for the improvement of conditions in the Colonial Territories, how would you like best—or dislike most—to do it? Would you like to have those funds raised by additional taxation? Would you like to have them raised either by lowering, or halting the rise in, the standard of living of the people of this country; or would you like to have them raised by lowering the amount of defence expenditure incurred by Her Majesty's Government?" Those are three perfectly reasonable suggestions for raising these funds. It would 1196 be interesting to know the view of the Opposition Front Bench on this most important point with which, obviously, they must concern themselves.
I would say about the third point—that the funds might conceivably be raised by reducing the amount spent upon defence here—that some of us on this side of the House might feel that if one were to put that forward as a serious proposition one would be overlooking the fact that, in spending what we are spending upon defence, not only here but in the free world generally, we are, in fact, spending money in the defence of the colonial peoples themselves, in Kenya and in Malaya, for example. That is a definite and concrete contribution which we are making. To suggest that we might raise the extra money by withdrawing funds from our defence plans would be rather like going out to buy sweets for the children and leaving them in a house where there was fire in the thatch.
I hope that the Opposition Front Bench will take serious thought and let us know the results. I hope that they will tell us whether we may look forward to seeing the views expressed by the right hon. Member for Llanelly published in the Labour Party's election manifesto when the time comes for a General Election. Will they bring to the notice of the public this policy of theirs, will they proclaim that it is time that people realised that their money must be spent in that way? Let them say how much more we are to spend—another £120 million or £200 million—and let them say that it should be regarded as a contribution, either in the form of an increased duty on beer or tobacco or in some other form from the people of this country. Will they do that? It is a point on which we should like to be enlightened.
My second and last general point is that the Bill is criticised by those who adhere to a school of thought, the leader of which might well be the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), whose charm and gentleness in private life are exceeded in degree only by his ferocity and wildness in public debate. I hope that I take his views aright. He has suggested that the principle of the Bill is, if not fundamentally wrong, not as desirable as he would like. He would prefer that the resources which we make available for the development of the 1197 underdeveloped areas should be made available in the form of contributions through international agencies, such as those operating under the aegis of the United Nations.
That is a quite legitimate criticism to make, but, in my opinion, it is fundamentally misconceived. That is the division of opinion between us. No doubt the hon. Baronet will maintain his position. I want to establish the position for myself, to which I think many other hon. Members will subscribe, that we are right in upholding the principle that charity begins at home; that our colonial people are our first responsibility; and that if our contributions to United Nations agencies sometimes appear small we should not be slow to point out that our contributions to the welfare of our own people are correspondingly great, and rightly so. In fact, I am happy to think that we should concentrate first, and mainly, on Her Majesty's subjects throughout the Commonwealth, who are citizens of the greatest, most humane and most hopeful Empire that mankind has ever seen.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
The hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Ire-monger), who made such fascinating statistical claims for the high consumption of Anglican bishops in the New Hebrides, will forgive me if I say that I thought the most interesting speech from his side of the House was that coming from his hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), which was the only one to put this subject against the background of the main ideological challenge of our time, and which gave us a glimpse of the vast and teeming problems which we have to tackle. He spoke tentatively, but I think definitely, on the important question of whether it will really be possible for us to "go it alone."
That question brings me to the subject of the Amendment which my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) and I have put on the Order Paper, but which, I understand, is not to be selected. That, of course, does not prevent it being referred to, even by the Colonial Secretary himself, who did so briefly and disparagingly, but I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman committed himself to the view that an Amendment dealing with the United 1198 Nations Fund for Economic Development was of a frivolous and lighthearted nature—a view which will be noted by leaders of large numbers of people in the underdeveloped countries who are looking towards this Fund with ever higher practical aspiration.
I was also amazed that the right hon. Gentleman should think that he could correctly attribute to me and to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon the fantastic opinion that this Fund for Economic Development under the United Nations could only be established after we have achieved internationally supervised disarmament. That shocking and tendentious view was put forward by the United States, supported by this Government, as a means of postponing consideration of this Fund for 16 months; whereas the courageous view put forward by the Dutch is that this Fund for economic development could be established forthwith if the Western industrial nations would agree to contribute to it one dollar for every 340 dollars which they spend on arms.
I hope that, before 12 months have passed, Her Majesty's Government, either this one or another, will have sufficient courage to support the Dutch in their view. If our Amendment had been selected and carried by the House it would not have any limiting effect on the immediate prospects of any Colony, since £40 million is already allocated to the different Colonies, which would enable them to carry on for at least 12 months during which time Her Majesty's Government could put themselves right with the U.N. Fund.
I turn from what was said by the right hon. Gentleman to the speech of the hon. Member for Wavertree, because I think that he put the whole problem in relation to the challenge of our times, which is so well described in words recently used by Mrs. Pandit, the High Commissioner for India, who said:I have always thought that the two conflicting ideologies of East and West presented less of a threat to peace than the division of the world into the under-privileged and the privileged. Unless we can lessen that gap, it is going to be very difficult to prevent war.That, I think, is really the great problem which we are trying to discuss today, and the difference between my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and myself, on the one hand, and all other hon. 1199 Members who have spoken from either side of the House, on the other, is not that we think that colonial development and welfare by this country as a contribution to the immediate problem is wrong in itself, but that all those who have spoken have given the impression that that is the best way of tackling this problem which is so well described to us in the words of Mrs. Pandit.
They think that by going ahead on our present lines a little further and by expanding what we are already doing, we can solve the whole of this world problem, whereas my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon and I are of the opinion that, although this development work is a good thing in itself, it is not the best way of tackling this major world challenge, and that, however we expand and stretch ourselves along the lines of bilateral aid to individual Colonies, we shall never solve the problem in this way.
May I give some very rough figures, which may be 100 million out, which will not make much difference, though I do not think they will be more than 50 million out, to show how much of the problem falls to ourselves? When we speak of people who live in underprivileged countries, the number concerned is generally, given as a round 1½ billion. Of this 1½ billion, half a billion live in Communist-controlled countries, half a billion in independent countries—not as yet within the Communist orbit—and half a billion live in Commonwealth countries. Those figures, as I say, may be in error to 50 million, but they are near enough right to show us that approximately one-third of this total world problem is on our plate.
I ask the House to accept the view, tentatively suggested by the hon. Member for Wavertree, that we cannot "go it" alone, that, taking a long view—I am not talking about what may happen within the next 12 months, because, of course, a great international project cannot be undertaken overnight—there is no hope at all of our meeting this great challenge of our times unless we can bring in others of the privileged nations of the world as partners with us and with the under-privileged countries in a determination to solve on international lines. In the words of the Labour Party, we need a project of world mutual aid.
1200 Of course, it may be argued that to do that, we must, in the last resort, bring in the United States of America, and that, at the moment, the Americans, like our own Treasury officials, do not like spending money on economic aid to other peoples unless they can keep it under their own thumb.
That may be the immediate view of the Americans, but I was very glad indeed that on 24th March last, the right hon. Member for Derby. South (Mr. Noel-Baker). speaking for the Labour Party, expressed the view that we should go ahead with the scheme for a special United Nations fund and pay our share to it without waiting for the Americans to come in, because, in the present temper of the Americans, it seems to me that it would create a much better atmosphere if this fund were started, on however small a scale, with the Americans out of it, and to let them change their minds about it, and to show the world that they have changed their minds about it, and to come in afterwards.
Meanwhile, their leading statesmen might reflect on the offer made by Mr. Dulles and Mr. Harold Stassen on 7th, 8th and 9th December to give much larger sums of economic aid to South-East Asia on a bilateral basis, through agencies which would have been under American control, and that, in sharp contrast to what happened when a similar offer was made by General Marshall towards Europe, that offer has not yet awakened a single responsive word from any South-East Asian statesman.
The Americans might ponder, as might this country, the idea that if this great problem is to be tackled, it must, in the long run, be tackled on international lines, and not by bilateral grants from individual wealthy countries. As one can imagine, there is a great deal more that I should like to have said, but I am of the opinion that if I sit down now and leave it at that, one of my hon. Friends may have time to say something before the two winding-up speeches from the Front Benches.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I think that one of my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench wishes to get up at nine o'clock. I therefore have a very short time to say what I wish to say. I will not follow the line taken by my hon. Friend 1201 the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland). I have some sympathy with his point of view, but I would riot go as far as he does. For example, I do not think that the analogy is close between the offer of American aid to South-East Asia and our own help out of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund to countries within the Commonwealth.
I had the privilege during the summer of going to Nairobi to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, and that is one of the reason; why I wish to say something in this debate. We had with us representatives from the Parliaments of the Commonwealth, and we had several sessions on the subject with which we are dealing today. I wish I had time to pass on to hon. Members some of the views expressed by Commonwealth Parliamentarians at the conference, which was an unofficial conference in a sense. I would like to mention one point which was made several times during the proceedings, and was raised in this House I believe on 3rd December, when it was rather brushed aside by the Colonial Secretary.
The view was expressed by several of the representatives, of the smaller territories particularly, that there should be a colonial conference to discuss economic development. Prime Ministers of the self-governing territories, plus one territory which is not self-governing, are meeting in London, but the smaller and poorer territories, which are most concerned with development and welfare, have no chance of discussing matters of policy which vitally affect them. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman should have brushed the suggestion aside, and I hope that he will reconsider the matter.
At the conference we heard expressions of opinion from representatives of the Caribbean countries and some of the poorer territories like Nyasaland, who have very special claims. It would be all to the good to bring those people together to discuss questions like the allocation of funds among them and the reasons for it, and the co-ordination of the various methods of economic aid. None of us is quite happy al: the present position, in which many different agencies, Commonwealth, international and United States, give aid in one way or another. It is very puzzling to many 1202 people in these territories to know what are the priorities.
That was one of the most important pleas that were put forward. The speakers asked, for example, that there should be a Colombo Plan for the Caribbean. A Federation is just getting under way, as we were very happy to hear this afternoon, but that in itself will not meet the whole problem of economic development in the Caribbean.
Many of us feel that the amount that we are being asked to approve is less than it ought to be. I am fully aware that this is not the only way in which economic aid is given by this country to the Commonwealth, but it is one of the major methods. We have been told that we are to spend £120 million over five years, if we include the £40 million carry-over from the previous period. To put that sum into perspective, let me recall that within the last few days we have heard estimates of expenditure on railway improvement in this country, and that today we had an estimate on road improvement. We are proposing under the Bill to spend in the whole Colonial Empire over five years what we propose to spend in one year in this country on roads and railways alone.
Before we talk about undue sacrifices on our part we should realise that the amount we propose to spend throughout the Commonwealth territories over five years is no more than we propose to spend on two aspects of development here.
§ Sir John Barlow (Middleton and Prestwich)
Would the hon. Lady indicate the sum which she thinks should be spent over a five-year period?
§ Mrs. White
If one may say so, that is not altogether a reasonable request. I have not the technical knowledge to know whether or not one can bring the Shire Valley scheme in Nyasaland into the five-year period, but if that is technically possible it is the sort of project which I think should be brought in. The engineer's report on that scheme is in the hands of the Government, but has not yet been published.
I think the general argument that more should be spent is valid, particularly as many Members on both sides have stressed the importance of two types of investment, one on the physical, the other on the human side. We are all agreed that communications are of the most 1203 urgent importance in many territories. Another great imperial Power, the Romans, set a good example. When they went into a country the first thing they did was to build roads. We have not done the same.
There is the further point that the importance of investment in roads, railways, ports, and so on, is not dependent on the training of the local people. The work can be done by the big contracting firms, as was indicated by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) in the debate in December.
On the human side, an important subject for investment is education. If one looks at just those two things and realises their supreme importance, one feels that surely the amount we are being asked to approve today is less than it ought to be.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
The Government must feel gratified that the House today has given this Bill so interested and cordial a reception. This is a matter which is arousing, and has already aroused, very considerable national and international interest. Therefore, it is well that we should look at the Bill and ask ourselves whether it goes far enough, whether experience has taught us that we ought to approach development and welfare along different lines, and how far we can incorporate the lessons of the past in our administration in the days to come.
I think it wise that we should review our effort over the past 10 or 15 years—although, of course, one encounters a fair amount of cynicism as to whether our effort has been commensurate to the need in the Territories for which we are responsible. It is well, therefore, that we should recall the situation as it existed in 1940.
There had been a long period of neglect of and indifference to our Colonies. They could only obtain those services, those works, which they could afford out of their existing revenues. No grant could be made for education, for health, or towards recurrent charges, and Territories were left largely to paddle their own canoe in their own way, attaining what social standards they could and very often leaving to outside interests the exploitation of their natural resources.
1204 That was the criticism which emanated from the back benches, and I myself played my part in a good deal of that criticism. There was also a dispatch from Sir B. Bourdillon, the Governor of Nigeria, who pointed out the hopelessness of his task in developing Nigeria without some assistance from this country. There was also a series of reports from the West Indies about the economic troubles there.
I pay tribute to the Secretary of State for the Colonies at that time, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, for writing what I think is one of the most interesting State papers in the past generation. In that State paper he made it clear that the primary aim of colonial policy is to protect and advance the interests of the inhabitants of the Colonies, and it is on that basis that he shaped his policy, leaving a great deal of initiative to the Territories, and requiring Whitehall to place no straitjacket on the Colonies in dealing with their desires and problems with respect to their development.
We have heard today references to the late Mr. Oliver Stanley and the part he played in shaping the 1945 Act. But it was the privilege of myself and other colleagues to lay down the broad conditions which should govern the administration of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund under the 1945 Act. One of the things that we insisted on was that it should not be treated as patronage from the British Government. These grants should not come, as it were, from the paternal father. We required that the Colonies themselves should pay to the utmost of their resources, and it is an astonishing fact that over the years the Colonies have been contributing to every £1 which Britain has granted no less than £2 themselves.
Further, we asked that the programmes should be designed to strengthen the economies of the Territories so that they should sustain the services and the economic life there and achieve the revenues which were essential for their carrying on. We promised technical advice and help, but, above all, we asked that the Governments should act in the fullest co-operation and consultation with their peoples. We asked that the fullest co-operation should be secured from the inhabitants in any development work which was put in hand. We argued that development was not a matter for the 1205 Governments alone but that it was a matter in which the people themselves should be required to play their full part.
Faced, as we were, with the difficulties that confronted us in the shortage of supplies, capital goods, consumer goods, and technicians, I think the progress has been remarkable in the years that followed. A great deal of it is set out in the recent White Paper. But I should like to make one or two points about the achievements over those years.
First, we should pay a very warm tribute to our colonial administrators and technicians for the manner in which they have discharged their work in development and welfare over the past years. Secondly, we should remember that those things which have resulted from this effort have brought advantages not only to the Colonies but also to this country in terms of food, raw materials, and other articles which are necessary for the life and wellbeing of this country. Moreover, I think that anyone who visits a Colony must be conscious of the enormous human and economic advances which have been made since the war, largely as a result of the stimulus given by these funds.
One of the purposes of this money arose from the feeling that if, as a nation, we believed in democratic self-government and believed that that form of government was desirable in our Colonies, then it was important to work not merely so that the inhabitants of the Colonies secured the franchise but also so that they were competent to use that franchise in the best possible way. Accordingly, over the years there has been an integration of social and economic advance with the political progress which has been made.
The forms of help are well described in the White Paper, and I shall not detain the House in dealing with them. It is not only that a great deal of fundamental economic and social work has been done, but also that that work has been assisted by what was not possible before—the systematisation of a sound research organisation. We had to find answers to our problems. We wanted to know how environment, which was disastrous in so many areas, could be brought under suitable control. As a result of the research done, we have found some remarkable answers to the problems to which we addressed ourselves.
1206 Moreover, there has been the creation of a variety of central services on which the Colonies can draw. I have referred to the research work, but development is not possible unless there is an adequate surveying of these Territories so that we may know where the minerals are, how the water courses lie, and all the relevant information about the soil. A great deal of that work has been done.
Similar progress has been made in the training of people for responsibility. Our administrative and technical people who have gone to the Territories to serve have undergone courses of training, and we have brought hundreds of men and women to this country from the Colonies in order that they might be trained for the responsible duties which they would undertake on their return to their own Territories.
Similarly, there has been the mobilisation of an enormous effort in the field of higher education. Before it is too late I want to pay tribute again to Dr. Adams, who has acted as secretary to the Inter-university Council, which has had under its review the building of higher education establishments in the past few years. He has done a remarkable job. In any case, the founding of technological colleges as well as normal university colleges, in so many areas has been of immense importance, and is likely to prove of great advantage in the Territories in the days ahead.
There has been only one challenge to the work done by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. It came from the Select Committee on Estimates of this House in June, 1948. It was argued that the development schemes were far too piecemeal. It was suggested that greater emphasis should be placed on community self-help and community education schemes, and it was further argued that, in developing the economies of the Territories and meeting their requirements for development, there was not sufficient co-ordination of effort with this country. The demand was that there should be a greater association of the economies of the Colonial Territories with the economy of this country.
Those defects were put right in due course, and there has been a tremendous expansion of community education, of encouragement given to self-help, just as, 1207 with the passing of the rather bad economic conditions which came to this country in the years following the war, there have been released for the Territories more capital goods and more consumer goods in order that the work of development could go on.
But if a great deal has been done, we dare not be complacent when one recalls how vast is the work waiting to be done. The Colonial Governments have now been approached to submit their projects. However, before dealing with that I want to emphasise that I think the people of this country are prepared for the Government to do bold things in the field of colonial development. Do not let us forget that past Governments—and I confess my own Government as well—have sometimes been prone to overlook the basic rights of the Colonies.
During the difficult economic years we certainly attempted to control the economies of the Territories under our rule to a quite unreasonable extent. In war, we sometimes adopted measures which no one could describe as being just and right, and we certainly attended to our own needs before we made concessions to our Territories overseas in respect to capital and consumer goods. For instance, I do not think we have always been quite fair to those Territories which have contributed so much to the dollar position in the last 10 years.
It ought not to be forgotten that the Colonies have given as much to us in the earning and saving of dollars, in the advantages we have taken in regard to price levels, and in the regulation of their consumption as they have received from us in terms of colonial development and welfare. In all these respects the Territories have given as well as received. There are a number of well-known and sound economists who contend that, if anything, the gain is on our side and not on the side of the Colonies. Indeed there is a remarkable essay by Professor Hancock on the wealth of Colonies which makes the same point—that there is a doubtful gain on the part of the Colonies from the colonial development and welfare grants.
It has been pointed out in the debate that it is not only necessary for these funds to be effectively administered but that the right kind of policy 1208 should be developed in the Territory itself. The recent White Paper indicates some foreboding as to the future. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that in many respects, while recurring charges are rising, in some cases reserves are being exhausted and the prices of certain important goods are going down. It is clear from paragraph 92 of the White Paper that the Government have doubts as to whether the Territories will prove to be quite as prosperous as some of them have been during the past few years.
It is with these facts before them that the Government have drafted their scheme. In the words of paragraph 94 of the White Paper,Her Majesty's Government is satisfied that this further assistance, together with the full utilisation of their own resources and other available sources of external finance, should enable Colonial Governments to maintain the pace of development.The Government have apparently reassured themselves that, in spite of the economic difficulties of the future, the proposals in the Bill will prove adequate. That may be so in some cases.
Some colonial Governments have pursued enlightened policies, many of their important products have been controlled, and the Territories have retained for themselves the surplus profits made on their products in the world's markets. That has provided sound stabilisation funds and supplied capital which might be used for further development later.
I endorse the view which has been expressed about the importance to the colonial producer of guaranteed markets as well as guaranteed prices. I am confident that the policy of bulk purchase has been of immense advantage to colonial producers in stabilising their economic position. I also welcome the growth in the Territories in recent years of development corporations, and the fact that they have been able to assist small industries, encourage agriculture, and get a number of public works moving. In all these ways much more stable economies are being established in the Territories.
Some questions have been raised as to what the Opposition mean when we say that we doubt the adequacy of the amount provided by the Bill. My right hon. Friend pointed out that the value of money has decreased, and that we are not 1209 giving very much more than we gave in 1945. When one looks at the magnitude of the problems to be tackled and the important schemes which need to be launched, one is afraid that the Government may have to come back and ask, as was done in 1945 and 1950, for another Bill, so that further development work may take place.
One would hope, too, that as we have been priming the pump in the last 10 years, getting new works going and new services established, the water would at last begin to gush, and that, consequently, more money would be needed for the plans and the schemes which would come along as a result. It is, of course, argued that we must not proceed faster than the resources of the Territory will permit. Moreover, we must ensure that new services which are established can pay their way in the days ahead. There is a continuing fear on the part of colonial officials that, somehow, inflation will swoop upon the Territories, and that the last conditions will be very much worse than the first. I appreciate that development must keep pace with colonial resources. I also appreciate that one cannot get very far unless the technicians and trained staffs are there to carry schemes through. However, I feel that much too much has been made by our colonial officials of the dangers of undue inflation.
I want to ask some questions about the nature of the schemes which are to be adopted during the next five years. We have been told that big projects are to be encouraged. I should like further definition of what constitutes really big projects. I am conscious that even in an African village water, irrigation, and a little knowledge about agriculture are of immense importance in building up the standard of living in these villages. If development is to have any meaning, it must stretch not only through public works and utilities, which might be created, but back into the agricultural areas and the villages themselves.
I should deprecate the view that the building up of social services is not an economic development. It has been pointed out how important education is in the village and for the agricultural worker. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) pointed out, that 1210 there is little point in sending diseased children to school in the hope that they will profit from the education being provided. If we are to have economic advances, we have to see that these programmes are properly balanced. Social services should be developed and money made available for education, public health, welfare, and so on.
I also agree with all those who have spoken about the importance of the Govvernment securing whatever outside assistance is available for getting on with the work. Paragraph 93 of the White Paper sets out the need for greater use of the London market for raising loans and for greater use of international agencies so that some of the technical development work can go on. This question of development, as one hon. Member pointed out, is of such large proportions that it calls for something more than a national effort; it calls for international effort as well. It is important therefore, that technical aid and money, whether loans, or grants, should be obtained from the Specialised Agencies with the assistance of the International Bank and in any other way that will help this work to go on.
No reference was made by the Colonial Secretary to the Colonial Development Corporation. There has been a departure from the intention of the Act that created it. I should know, because I was in part responsible for it. Unhappily, I do not believe that the present policy will sufficiently contribute to development in the way that we thought it could when the Corporation was created in 1947. There is need for a definition of responsibility and duty between money available for Colonial Development and Welfare and that for development by the Colonial Development Corporation. A much more constructive approach could come from the Colonial Development Corporation if there were better co-ordination of its responsibilities with those now exercised by the Colonial Office over the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds.
Finally, I should like to stress, as all previous speakers have done, the vital importance of education and of trade and technical education. There cannot be enough of that at the present time. Likewise, I would stress how important it is 1211 that the confidence, goodwill, and knowledge of the colonial peoples should be secured in relation to all these developments. An hon. Member suggested that it would be a good thing if Africans, in the case of African development, could be associated more with boards of management, so that they might have a greater comprehension of the work going on and could participate in training.
I would emphasise how important it is that the co-operation of the people should be obtained, if this work is to be carried out satisfactorily. I wish again to impress on the Colonial Office and the Secretary of State the vital importance of more community development. It is not enough that these things should be left for Governments to do. We should encourage the initiative of the people themselves in doing some things for themselves through voluntary organisations.
I also endorse what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) about the place of co-operation in agriculture. I need not elaborate it, because the story of co-operative development overseas which she told is one that all hon. Members should know.
I agree with the further suggestion that we should look at the incidence of taxation in some Colonies. This may arouse a certain amount of feeling, but it is clear that in many areas the problems of taxation have not been sufficiently studied or thoroughly examined, and that there are sources which could supply Governments with a great deal of the revenue so essential in their task.
In the early days of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts there was set up a council or committee in the Colonial Office composed of distinguished experts of all kinds to vet the programmes from the Territories. I should like to know what procedure is now followed. If that council has been completely dissolved, who is responsible for the study of the schemes and programmes which will flow in from the Colonies? I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government still to observe several of the requirements in the early Acts. We then required facilities for trade union organisations in the Terri- 1212 tories which were to receive this aid. Is that still done?
We also asked that some of the I.L.O. conventions should be observed regarding the employment of women and children, and I should like to know if they are being observed in connection with the schemes made under the Acts. I also welcome the statement of the Secretary of State about the position of Territories reaching independence, in connection with grants from the moneys made available, and I hope that any future applications will be sympathetically considered.
Development is not merely a matter of voting money. It is much more than that. It is a social and political, as well as an economic, problem. If progress is to be made, and if the standards we want in the Colonies are to be built up, I believe it to be imperative that we should have not only the good will of this House, but also the full co-operation of the colonial peoples. I stress that, because at the moment, with the expression of nationalism now on an upward surge in their political life, it is imperative that they should also appreciate how vitally important to their future life is any economic and social development which this House is trying to encourage.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)
This is the second time in two months that we have debated development in the Colonies. The fact that there have been so many hon. Members desirous of speaking today, and the excellence of the speeches, testify to the importance of this topic and the interest in which it is held in this House.
We have just heard a masterly survey of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). I do not agree with everything that he said, but we appreciate his great knowledge and welcome the contribution which he made to the debate. Both he and the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) expressed some doubt whether the amount which Her Majesty's Government are asking the House to vote is enough for the job. The right hon. Member for Llanelly, in fact, described it as woefully inadequate.
That is not our view. The matter has been worked out very carefully. Over a 1213 five-year period the Bill will make available £120 million, including the £40 million carry-over. I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the £80 new money includes the advance commitments of £9 million required for special purposes by British Guiana and other territories.
Forecasts were made by colonial Governments and submitted to Her Majesty's Government. Before a decision was taken about the amount which we now ask the House to vote, three considerations were taken into account. First, there was the cost of development which it was thought could be carried out between 1955 and 1960; secondly, the amount which could be financed from the Colonies' own resources; and, thirdly, the amount which could be financed from loans on the London market. These estimates were considered in the light of the physical ability of the Governments to carry out the work.
Experience has shown that Colonies cannot suddenly increase their rate of carrying out new capital works. Staff has to be recruited, surveys undertaken, equipment built up, and so on. In the long view it is a steady effort over a period of years, and not a sudden, frantic burst of activity—which may have been inadequately planned—which counts. We have also had to consider to what extent the colonial Governments would be able to pay for the upkeep of the extensive capital works which have been constructed—more schools need more teachers, more hospitals need more doctors and nurses, more roads require more maintenance—and a too-rapid advance, especially in fields where the Government can expect no corresponding financial return, could easily lead to bankruptcy.
This does not mean that we do not intend to go on helping the colonial Governments with their social services and other matters which involve recurrent expenses, but the examination which was held into all these matters led to the conclusion that, while some Colonies would probably have enough resources of their own to finance development, they would, as a whole, stand in need of a rather greater degree of assistance from Her Majesty's Government than they have in the past few years.
It is difficult to prophesy exactly what this need will be—it varies from one territory to another—but as far as we can 1214 judge, even taking into consideration the fall in the value of money, £120 million, together with what the colonial Governments should be able to obtain from their own resources, should be enough to enable them to maintain the pace which they have achieved. In that connection, I would point out that the tempo has been speeded up over the past two or three years, and we are setting out to maintain that tempo.
In itself that would be no mean task, but we must also remember that this is not the sole source of help which comes from this country. There are loans; direct grants in certain cases; the reserves of the Colonies themselves which are held here and which, when drawn on, constitute a drain on our own resources; there are C.D.C. schemes; and there is also private investment. We believe that, on the whole, this is the right amount which we can afford and which the Colonies require.
An hon. Member referred to the remark of my noble Friend Lord Chandos about not being able to invest a deficit. I would remind hon. Members that the late Mr. Oliver Stanley, when introducing the 1945 Measure, said:Of course, it would have been very easy for me simply to have doubled the number I first thought of, to have put up a proposition not for £120 million but £250 million or £500 million and thereby, no doubt, to have got a good deal of kudos. But we have to think of the other side of the picture. We have to think of the taxpayer of this country, and of the future of this country, because neither £50 million nor £100 million would really be a very good bargain for the Colonial Empire if it was accompanied by the bankruptcy of the Mother country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1945; Vol. 407, c. 2101–2.]That is a factor which we must bear in mind.
The right hon. Gentleman made the point that part of this money is old money—money already voted by this House. It is important to remember that there should be no distinction between new money and old money. The "old" money has not yet been spent. The Colonies still have to build the roads, the schools and the hospitals. It is not right to distinguish between old and new plans. All development forms part of one continuous process. What matters is that the Colonies will now have £120 million to spend between 1955 and 1960.
1215 I was asked whether we could arrange for the publication of plans, or a forecast of plans. In this matter we have done exactly what the former Government did in 1946. We asked the colonial Governments for their general ideas about what they thought they might be able to spend. These necessarily were extremely general ideas. We have taken full account of these forecasts in computing the amount for which we ask the approval of the House.
These were confidential calculations based by the various Governments on different hypotheses about what they might or might not be able to spend, and they certainly are not in a form suitable for publication. We are now working on definite allocations which will be worked out Colony by Colony. Then, in their final form, they will be published in a manner similar to that followed by the then Secretary of State, in November, 1945, in the form of a circular despatch.
The colonial Governments' own plans will be calculated on these allocations, though in some cases the plans will be far wider and larger than any allocation which they might receive. These plans will normally be published as they are adopted as part of their normal development plans, so that they become known to the public and to this House.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me about bulk purchase, and I think he said that the Commonwealth Agreements have saved the Colonies money. I think we are agreed about the great value of some of the Commonwealth Agreements, but we are not agreed on, and I would not subscribe to, the view of the right hon. Gentleman on bulk purchase. The real prosperity of the Colonies depended five years ago, and will depend in the future, on the creation of favourable economic conditions in the Sterling Area as a whole. The aim must, therefore, be to strengthen the reserves of the sterling area and to avoid world inflation. In short, the welfare of the Colonies themselves must depend upon a healthy world trade.
Reference was also made by the right hon. Gentleman to the question of taxation in the Colonial Territories. I must inform the House that, in almost all the Colonial Territories, there have been increases in taxation, some of them considerable, since the war. Income Tax has 1216 come to be a normal feature, and I think that, although we may be helping the Colonial Territories, as we intend to do in this new Bill, we ought to be a little careful in trying to lay down what taxation colonial Governments, especially those in an advanced stage of development, should or should not impose upon themselves. In one way or another, taxation, either direct or indirect, in the Colonial Territories is fairly high, having regard to local conditions, and we must also bear in mind the need not to drive away capital from the underdeveloped Territories.
The right hon. Gentleman and several other hon. Members on both sides of the House mentioned the relationship between the Colonial Development Corporation and the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. One point I must make here is on the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the C.D. and W.F. as being an agency. Of course, that is not so. It does not exist as an individual agency, but operates through separate Governments and through different departments of the Colonial Office over a very wide sphere. There is no one organisation which could be merged with the C.D.C., which, of course, is a separate entity. It was set up by the party opposite to work in the commercial field, and was required to break even over the whole field of its activities, taking one year with another—a phrase which we now know so well. The C.D. and W.F. is devoted to basic Government services, and does not enter into the commercial field at all.
Therefore, the two projects—one is an organisation and the other is not—have quite separate functions, and each has its contribution to make. What I can say is that, in making its plans the C.D.C. does of course have regard to what colonial Governments are doing in their own field; and, naturally, colonial Governments are aware of what the C.D.C. is doing. There is a constant interchange of views and information between the two. I think that any suggestion for merging the two, and still less for suppressing the C.D.C., which, I gather, was the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I did not suggest that they should be merged. I did say that, when the C.D.C. was set up, it was after 1217 the C.D. & W.F. had begun its work, and an early statement by the C.D.C. declared that each would work to supplement and complement the other. My view was that the co-ordination hoped for had not been realised in practice, and that the relationship of the two bodies ought to be reconsidered.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
In so far as individual schemes carried out by the different Governments are concerned, the C.D. & W. Fund and the C.D.C. are aware of what is going on, and each fits in its plans to work in with those of the Governments concerned.
A number of hon. Members, as well as the right hon. Gentleman, suggested that perhaps the emphasis today should be on basic services, and the right hon. Gentleman himself referred to communications and ports, and to agriculture in particular; in other words, there should be a switch of emphasis from the social side to the economic side, in present circumstances.
To date, over 50 per cent. of colonial development and welfare money has been spent on social services, of which, I believe, 21 per cent. has been spent on education. I believe that we were absolutely right to spend that money on education, on schools and universities, and on the hospitals in the early stages of the operation of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. I am equally certain that we must not slacken in the help we are giving to the social services in the Colonies, in particular to education, because on that must depend their whole economic future as, I think, the right hon. Member for Wakefield indicated in his speech.
At the same time, I agree with the right hon. Member for Llanelly that, on the economic side, agriculture is, perhaps, the most important topic on which we must concentrate, in particular, having regard to the need for stepping up food production. Hon. Members will have seen the amount of space which was devoted in the White Paper to agriculture and to the numerous aspects of agriculture which are being dealt with under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. They include mechanisation, soil conservation, bush clearing and various schemes such as the Corentyne and the Boerasirie schemes which I saw in British Guiana last autumn.
1218 In my recent visit to the Aden Protectorate, a small territory, and perhaps one of the most backward of our territories, I was able to see the marvellous success of the cotton scheme in a wadi in which, only five or six years ago, tribal fighting was going on. In the first year, it produced a cotton crop worth £115,000; and this year cotton to the value of £2½ million—and of the highest grade, better than the Sudan cotton and almost equal to the best Egyptian grades—is being exported. Within a few years, we hope to double that amount. That was done on money loaned from the colonial development and welfare funds on the lines that hon. Members know so well of the Gezira Scheme and the Gash Board in the Sudan.
I could go on giving details of plans and developments in agriculture which I think correspond with the ideas which the right hon. Member for Llanelly stressed this afternoon when he spoke about the need to develop along those lines. Several of my hon. Friends raised important points in the course of their speeches. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Sir R. Robinson) raised a number of important points. I think that the most important was, perhaps, the question of water supplies.
I do not think that the figure is given in the White Paper, but, at the moment, water supply schemes in Africa amount to £7 million out of a total C.D. and W. commitment for water supplies and sanitation of £10½ million. These water supplies are not only in our Colonial Territories, but also in the territories of the South African High Commission, and other schemes are being examined in detail as also a proposal for creating a centrally coordinated plan for developing water supplies in Africa.
Reference has been made to the co-operative movement in a number of our Colonial Territories. I have information about that which I should like to have been able to give to the House, but I have not the time to go into detail on it. Her Majesty's Government are just as alive to the importance of developing co-operative producers' schemes in the Colonial Territories as any other Government would be, and we are giving them every encouragement.
I would say a word about the position of the High Commission Territories, because I think it is important. They 1219 come under the Commonwealth Relations Office, but they are provided for under colonial development and welfare schemes. In the period 1946–56, they have received £3½ million in C.D. and W. grants. We hope that the rate of expenditure will be at least doubled in the new development period. Although in those territories part of the money has been devoted to social services, it has, in the main, been concentrated on economic projects which will increase the wealth of the territories and make it possible for them to expand their social services in due course.
It has been found more convenient, having regard to the natural resources and the particular economies, to deal with colonial development and welfare grants in that way, and we hope that African advancement both social and economic will continue by means of these grants throughout the whole of these territories.
Reference has been made indirectly to the position in the West Indies and, in particular, in Jamaica, and it has been suggested, not only here but outside this House, that if we had done more to improve conditions in Jamaica we should not have had the flow of immigrants coming to this country in search of work. There was a development plan drawn up in 1945 which amounted to about £21 million, of which we contributed £6 million in colonial development and welfare money. A new plan is now being prepared. Mr. Manley, who is expected to take office this week, has emphasised very strongly his intention to go ahead with production.
The proposals embodied in the Bill, and which I believe have the support of the very great majority, if not all, of hon. Members, represent a further stage in the process of social and economic development of our Colonial Territories. It was launched in 1940 and has been carried on by Governments of different political colours ever since. We are asking the British taxpayer, who already shoulders a very heavy burden, to undertake this further effort on behalf of the undeveloped territories and the peoples of the Colonies.
There are, no doubt, many ways in which we should be only too glad to spend this money ourselves, but the right 1220 hon. Member for Wakefield is quite right when he says that no one would begrudge the payment of this money to our Colonial Territories. The White Paper shows what has already been done. The advance is not always spectacular, but I do not think anyone can read this Paper, seeing the record of survey work, education, health development and the constant battle against natural handicaps, ignorance and disease in these 30 or 35 different territories, without being thrilled and proud of the work that has been done. Scarcely a week passes that we in the Colonial Office do not find ourselves faced either with a new constitution or a change in an existing one. Without economic and social advance, political advance can have no value. This Bill represents the Government's proposals for such development parallel with the political advance which we foresee. The Bill is, therefore, of great importance in furthering that process.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Kaberry.]
§ Committee upon Monday next.