§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 10, to leave out "sixty" and to insert "fifty-eight."
During the Second Reading debate some doubt was expressed by hon. Members on this side of the Committee as to the inadequacy of the moneys provided by the Bill if development and welfare work is to go forward at the pace which hon. Members on this side, at any rate, desire. We find that possibly the only way of raising this issue is by asking for an alteration of the dates within which period the moneys provided should be spent. Accordingly, the Amendment suggests that instead of 1960 the date should be 1958, in which case the moneys provided by the Bill would be spent over a period of three instead of five years, thereby making a larger sum available each year in the immediate future.
I gather that it is unlikely that another Amendment associated with this one can be moved, but in view of the feeling among hon. Members on this side of the Committee and the scepticism expressed by hon. Members opposite as to whether we were in a position to name a figure, or on what grounds we regarded the figure provided in the Bill as inadequate, we put this Amendment down. It was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that in our judgment the money provided is inadequate, largely because in this field of development we are ceasing to deal as generously with the Colonies as we have done under previous Bills, the value of money has fallen, and the schemes which are now coming to fruition are making demands for additional money if they are to be sustained in the Territories. That situation will and does call for a more generous response from this country. Indeed, the Colonial Office, in the White Paper which was presented to the House, stated quite clearly its own doubts about the future.
1591 5.30 p.m.
It pointed out that in a number of the Territories, revenues have fallen, and, in some cases, are still likely to fall, that recurrent charges are rising, and that ordinary expenditure is rising as a result both of increasing costs and the residual expenditure arising out of past developments: for example, the cost of running new schools and other social services.
Nevertheless, in spite of these fears, the Minister informs us that the Government are satisfied that this further assistance, together with the utilisation of their own resources and other available sources of external finance, should enable the colonial Governments to maintain the pace of development. These words "the pace of development" should be noted. We are satisfied that, now that a great deal of priming has gone on as a result of the operation of the Acts in the last 10 years, greater demands than ever are likely to be made and the pace of development scarcely maintained let alone accelerated.
In these circumstances, we urge the Government to look again at the amount of money made available under the Bill. We recognise that, obviously, development can proceed only so far as the Colonial Territories themselves are actually associated with it. That means that their own resources have to be called up to help the work forward. One knows that there are limits to which the poorer Territories can go. It seems to us that that is all the more reason why this country should be as generous as possible in helping the colonial Governments forward in the task of building up their countries.
We appreciate, too, that there is a shortage of those special skills—those technicians and other professional classes—on which development depends. We know that to a great extent this shortage hampers the work which would otherwise go forward. What we are proposing is that there should be a much greater drive on the part of the Government and of the colonial Governments in the training of people in those skills and technical work which development calls for. Instead of merely making the pace in the light of present circumstances, we should go all out to alter circumstances, so that technicians may come into the field, and the skilled labour called for 1592 should be there so that the work may be done.
It is difficult for us on this side of the House to measure the requirements of the schemes and programmes likely to be adopted, but it seems to us, as we look at the tremendous need for development in the Colonial Territories, that they include the improvement of health the expansion of educational facilities, the construction of utility and public works, and the great work which must go on in agriculture, the building of new works, such as irrigation, and so on.
All this must depend on a very comprehensive programme, and we cannot imagine that the limited amount of money made available in the Bill for the next five years will meet the case. It is because we are conscious of the desperate need, of the expectations of the people, of the pressures which are being applied in this country to go forward faster than we are now doing, that the Amendment is submitted.
During the discussion on the Second Reading of the Bill, I said that we had good cause to congratulate ourselves on the way in which social and economic progress had been made over the past 10 years. I thought that, to some limited extent, social and economic progress had kept pace with political development. I would remind the Committee, however, that in the colonial world today there are the greatest forces and influences at work building up and driving ahead in regard to political development. If political development is to be genuine and real, these social services must be established and economic development achieved by which independence or self-government can be secured.
Therefore, it is all the more important that, because of the pace of political growth and the upsurge of nationalism in these Territories, our social and economic progress should be related to these political advances. Therefore, because of the desperate need in all these Territories, because of the fact that many of the Colonies are reaching the limit of the contributions which they can make, we ask that the provision of the Bill should be larger than it actually is in the sense that the £120 million now available can be utilised in the next three years. I therefore trust that the Government will accept the Amendment.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I wish to support the arguments put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). When we discussed this matter in general terms on Second Reading, I thought that we received a very unconvincing defence from the Government on why they thought the proposals in the Bill for expenditure were adequate. We have had 10 years of post-war experience in this matter of colonial development and welfare. There was some development during the war, particularly in the West Indies, but we have had recent experience covering a period of 10 years.
When we began with the 1945 Act, it was true to say that there were considerable difficulties in the way of advance—shortages of raw materials, of machinery, plant and equipment, and so on. There were also shortages, to which my right hon. Friend referred, of persons experienced in these various fields and of specialists of one kind or another, from engineers to geologists. There was also a certain lack of experience, in the administration of the Territories themselves, in dealing with this type of development, which has varied from one Territory to another. Some had long been living on a shoestring, so that their administrators never had much hope of carrying out schemes which they had kept in their pigeon-holes for many years.
Surely, these conditions have now changed, or should have changed, after this experience of the last 10 years. We have now, to a fairly considerable degree at least, overcome the shortages of the early post-war years, on the purely physical side; and we ought by now, through the experience gained, to have been able to recruit more people on the technical side. Therefore, on this ground alone, we should be in a position not merely to maintain the pace but to increase it, and that is the burden of our argument.
We are perfectly well aware that the full amounts available in the period which is just coming to an end have not been spent. That has been due to the abnormal conditions which have prevailed during the past 10 years, but that is surely no argument for suggesting that the same conditions should handicap advance in the coming five years. Therefore, it seems to me that we should have from the Government a far more convincing 1594 defence of their proposals than we have had heretofore.
On Second Reading, the Minister of State said that all the schemes had been very carefully considered. I have no doubt that they have, but is the right hon. Gentleman fully satisfied that every Administration is really prepared to undertake all that it should in the next five years, and to have some consideration, as my right hon. Friend suggested, for the quickening pace of political consciousness in some, at least, of the Territories concerned? For us to be satisfied in the next five years with the pace of development which has been sustained during the past 10 years is surely a defeatist attitude.
The White Paper makes it clear that in at least some of the Territories it will not be as easy for them by themselves, with their own resources, to provide as much as hitherto. Therefore, there are certain Territories which will need extra help. In the few paragraphs in the White Paper which refer to future policy, mention is, of course, made of other assistance. But I am not sure that the House has ever been fully informed of the full scope of this other assistance.
I wonder if the Minister can tell us just how much assistance we receive for Colonial Territories from the United States of America. I shall be interested to know what that figure is and how that aid is distributed among the different parts of the Colonial Empire. We have, of course, the reports of the International Bank and can find out what assistance it is prepared to give, but I think that we should be told why it is that today we are not in a position to overcome many of the difficulties which undoubtedly faced us in earlier years.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication as to how matters now stand on the technical side? Surely, we must have made some progress with some of the types of technical assistance which we found it very difficult to supply earlier. Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any information regarding research and development work proper? I know that we had to get geologists from the United States for research work in Africa. Have we been able to train any geologists in the Commonwealth? I think we should know that before simply agreeing to the suggestions made by the Government for 1595 what we consider to be an inadequate programme for the next five years.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
I am all for flexibility in planning. One deals with so many imponderables where the Colonial Territories are concerned that it is desirable to have flexibility. I remember that when the world rice situation became desperate in 1951, 1952, and 1953, the present Government made special provision which might have been put under the heading of colonial development and welfare, but which was additional to the moneys already voted by Parliament. In other words, if a special need arises one can, I think, rely upon the present Administration to recognise it, and to act accordingly.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Can the hon. Gentleman say why, when the rice position in the world is so much easier, Mauritius has to pay £56 a ton for it? As perhaps the hon. Gentleman knows, this fact has been criticised by the "Financial Times," and yet he says that in the past the Government gave subsidies to keep down the cost of living in the Colonies.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Braine
The hon. Gentleman will recollect that during the period of the rice crisis, rice was being exported from Burma at between £70 and £80 a ton. Indeed, it was Government trading in rice, plus, of course, the extraordinary shortages which were an aftermath of the war in South-East Asia, that, in the view of many experts, caused such acute difficulties in those years. I do not want to be deflected from the—
§ Mr. Braine
If I followed the right hon. Gentleman into that kind of partisan argument, then you, Sir Charles, would very quickly call me to order.
§ Mr. Braine
Of course, one of the reasons for the increase in the price of tea is the export duties which producing countries have been slapping on in order 1596 to ensure that they get a larger return out of a commodity which is in short supply. In that connection, they have been taking the advice of the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) and of other hon. Members opposite.
The difficulty over rice was, of course, that the producers were holding up consumer countries—particularly Malaya—to ransom at a time when the rice production in Siam scarcely warranted it. An extremely difficult situation arose, and, as a consequence, resulting from pressure from, I think, both sides of the House, the Government took special measures in 1952–53 to step up rice production in the Colonial Territories. I merely use that as an illustration of what can be done to meet a special need should it arise.
The case for this Amendment is that more money can and should be spent. The limiting factor in colonial development during the past 10 years has not been the availability of money. The two right hon. Gentlemen opposite know full well that the limiting factor has been, and, to some extent, still continues to be the availability of administrative, technical and specialist expertise. The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) very properly referred to a shortage of geologists.
Of course, one reason for the shortage is the immense expansion in all the technical services of the Colonial Territories and the fact that the demand is outrunning the supply. Nevertheless, there have been numerous schemes, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite will remember, which have been delayed and held up, not for lack of money but for the lack of the right kind of expertise at the right time. Other schemes have been held up by the lack of the right equipment and became of delays in the delivery of machinery and plant.
I agree, of course, that the pace of economic advance in the Colonial Territories is quickening and that we should adjust ourselves by way of the aid that we are here giving to see that that pace is not retarded. The great problem which faces us in the Colonial Territories is to ensure that their economic and social change is speeded up so as to keep pace with their political change. Political leaders in the Colonies do not take much notice of the economic and social realities. If self-government, when it comes, does not rest 1597 upon the basis of a viable economy and a reasonable social organisation, it is likely very quickly to become a snare and a delusion.
All I ask is that, in regard to this Amendment, we should look at the situation in perspective. Gross capital formation in the Colonial Territories has doubled since the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) was Secretary of State for the Colonies. That, of course, is due to the greater inflow of private capital that has been taking place in recent years which, in itself, is a sure sign of confidence in colonial prospects.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the problems about capital formation in the Colonies now is that it is not as well distributed as it ought to be? Look at the way in which capital is flowing into the Copper Belt. That has nothing to do with Colonies but with the world situation. Is not the problem that there are areas where private capital is flowing in all the time and other areas where it is not flowing in? Does that not mean that we ought to have more funds available, and to distribute them to areas which do not attract private capital?
§ Mr. Braine
I do not quarrel with that statement. We get sterling reserves and the surpluses of development boards and marketing boards concentrated in those Territories where the pace of development is quickest, but those are precisely the Territories where it is envisaged that the demand will become even greater.
I agree that our planning should be sufficiently flexible to make allowance for increased demand from the poorer Territories. That is the whole object of colonial development and welfare legislation. All I am saying is that I think that this Amendment is unreal because, in the last 10 years, out of the £140 million voted by Parliament, only £100 million has been spent. In other words, more money has been available than the Colonies—both the rich ones, where progress is greatest, and the poor ones, where progress is retarded—have been able to use.
Under the Bill, we shall have available the £40 million unspent balance of the £140 million originally voted by Parliament, plus £80 million of new money to 1598 be spent in a period of five years. That means that we are proposing to spend more than twice as much money in the next five years than was spent in the last 10 years.
§ Mr. Braine
Yes, proportionately we are spending at twice the rate at which we have been spending in the last 10 years. An hon. Gentleman says, "Why not?" The answer to that is that those responsible for framing this policy have taken all the factors into account and adjusted the figures accordingly.
§ Mr. Braine
Because we are dealing here with realities.
The other point which I think is important is that this is not the only money being spent on development in the Colonies. It is fashionable in some circles to think that only public money is of any importance in the development of Colonial Territories. In fact, for every £1 which we are to devote to colonial development in the next five years under the Bill, the Colonies themselves, out of their own public funds or by way of loan, will contribute £4. That is an indication of their growing health and vitality.
Yet that in itself is only a part of what will be undertaken. Private enterprise itself—not only the great expatriate firms operating in the Colonies but local industries, too—is getting under way.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Does not that look as if more money is required, and is not it better, in that case, to employ public money rather than private investment, which is going to rake off the good of the results?
§ Mr. Braine
I do not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument.
I should have thought that if health and vitality are to be brought to the Colonial Territories and the living standards raised, there should be both public and private investment. The economy should be broadened as widely as possible. If it is possible for local African business men to establish businesses, to expand businesses and to save money, surely that is all part and parcel of the larger job, 1599 to which we are lending ourselves, of equipping these people to stand on their own feet in the conditions of the modern world.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I do not object to private enterprise investing its money in speculation or development. I was raising an entirely different point. The hon. Gentleman was arguing that the sum now mentioned in the Bill is sufficient and that more money is not necessary. He then proceeded to argue that more money would have to be found, and that one of the components in providing that money would be private enterprise, about which I do not object. I am asking, in those circumstances, if money is to be forthcoming and is required, why should a little more money from public funds not be provided. Instead of the profit going into private pockets it would then go for the benefit of colonial development itself.
§ Mr. Braine
I do not propose to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman in that kind of argument.
The sole purpose of my intervention was to say that it is not the amount of money that matters; it is the availability of the resources for development. Past experience has shown that it has not always been the amount of money which has determined the rate of development; it has been the availability of the necessary resources. If the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot seize that point, he has not followed anything which has been said in the debate so far.
All that I would say is that there is considerable evidence—I have given some of it in the course of my remarks—of growth and expansion in the Colonial Territories. There is obviously a limit at any given time to that growth and expansion, and, having regard to the fact that we are to spend in the next five years at double the rate that we have done in the last 10, I see no cause whatever for accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that while we have been spending in the last five or 10 years in the light of our programmes of development, we have been hampered all along the line because of the shortage of capital and of the kind of materials, 1600 equipment, and consumer goods essential for development? We have not been able to spend fully. Therefore, when he suggests that we are now going to spend twice as much as we spent in the previous period, his argument falls to the ground. We did not spend in the previous period—and Parliament criticised us for not spending—largely because the necessary equipment and capital goods were not available.
In regard to the point about the resources of the Territories, surely the White Paper of the Government points out that in some Colonies the local resources are now reaching a limit, and with new recurrent expenditure great difficulties are bound to arise. Therefore, it becomes all the more necessary that more capital and money should be available from outside to carry forward development.
§ Mr. Braine
The important point is that under the Bill not only is more money made available, but the very nature of colonial development and welfare legislation allows that flexibility which will take account of the other factors which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind.
We all know that British Guiana received last year and the year before more C.D. and W. money per capita of the population than Nigeria. I do not know the basis upon which one Colony is selected for more favourable treatment than another. I can assume only that the interests of British Guiana were regarded at that time as greater than those of Nigeria, and I see no particular reason to fear that those Territories most in need will not receive more favourable consideration from the Government under this scheme.
I cannot see what the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are getting at. More money is made available under this Bill. Let us see how we go along from here. Merely to vote large sums of money which bear no relation to the realities of the situation, which are two-fold—the availability of expertise and equipment and the capacity of the Territory to absorb capital—would make nonsense of colonial development. I suggest, therefore, that there is no case whatever for the Committee to accept this Amendment.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
I was delighted to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine). As he went along he seemed to me to be, metaphorically, crossing the Floor. He has now become a member of the school to whom pounds, shillings, and pence are meaningless symbols, and he has arrived at the position at which we were when we were in power from 1945 to 1950.
§ Mr. Braine
The hon. Member will remember that that was the doctrine of the Greenwood school. It was under the Dalton school that pounds, shillings, and pence became meaningless.
§ Mr. Johnson
I hope, at any rate, that the hon. Member gets a song in his heart in the same way as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton).
Nobody would deny the hon. Gentleman's main thesis that, in a given moment of time, the amount to invest in a Colony will be determined by the capacity of the Colony to bear it. Take the case of a Colony like Nigeria where, in the Northern Territory, there is one veterinary surgeon for 20 million animals. Of course, we should get more. We would like more, and I want to tell the hon. Gentleman why I think we ought to get more. Again, at Lagos, there is one European surgeon—an Irishman—in the hospital, when, of course, we need a dozen doctors.
A few moments ago the hon. Member asked why Guiana got more money than Nigeria. He is not quite so simple as all that. He knows as well as anybody that if a Colony has a little bit of bother and becomes awkward, then at once we give our attention to it. It is not for philanthropic reasons that Guiana has got £8 million in this connection, and if he wants to know why there are not more district officers and a thicker administration on the ground in the Colonies, let him turn his mind to Kenya. Kenya is disturbed and, in the past, there was not so much spent there as some of us would have liked. Kenya today needs 100 more district officers, and it deserves them. It is getting them today, but they should have been available years ago, particularly in the Kikuyu land. It seems to me like cloud-cuckoo-land that these Colonies should get the materials such as steel 1602 for docks and harbours after we have had to discipline the native population, as, for example, in Guiana.
Let us look at last Wednesday's debate. The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) interrupted my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) to say:I am inclined to agree that more money should be provided,unlike his hon. Friend the Member for Billericay sitting below him—To help us, will the right hon. Gentleman"—that was, my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly,—say how much he would suggest?When we were in power we had a lot of questions about doing more put to us by the present Prime Minister.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
As a matter of fact, I think it is in order for me to harness the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) in support of the Amendment we have put forward suggesting that we should spend this money in three years, and I anticipate that he will be with us in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
I have learned a little in the last five years. I remember that in the last Parliament, when the then Labour Government announced charges on teeth and spectacles, I heard appalling speeches from the supporters of the then Government condemning them, and afterwards they went into the Division Lobby to vote for the charges. I have learned a bit since.
§ Mr. Johnson
We are discussing colonial development and welfare. This is not a hypothetical case about teeth or spectacles. The hon. Member is on record, and we hope that he will later get on his feet and walk into a certain Lobby with us. He suggests spending more money, and here is an Amendment which should suit him. We hope to be able to telescope into three years what it is proposed to spend in five years. That shows how urgent we think the matter is and how keen we are to spend this money.
1603 There are arguments against going too quickly in the light of local conditions. There are some economists who would argue that if we spend too much too quickly in a particularly undeveloped area we are liable to have galloping inflation. That may be so in some parts, but I should like to hear the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) on this subject, because he has had valuable experience in such territories. I should like to have his valuable and personal experience of how much a particular territory can absorb.
Last week, the Minister of State gave vent to these statements:Staff has to be recruited"—Of course it has and, if Kenya can have it soon, then the other Colonies can go up the queue and get their staff sooner than expected.… surveys undertaken, equipment built up and so on.What about engines to get to the coalfields of the Southern Provinces of Tanganyika and opening up the hinterland where so much wealth is?
The right hon. Gentleman said: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.Whose fault is that? I thought it rather queer for the Minister to talk about inadequate plans. I thought all these Colonies had plenty of plans made by competent, capable men on the spot and that it was really only a question of the time to start and, of course, getting the materials wherewith to do the job. I should not have thought that in any of the Colonies—certainly not in the ones I know—a start would be made on a scheme "inadequately planned." I should have thought they had been waiting so long that they would know exactly what to do when the time arrived.
Then there is this argument about inflation. Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, now Lord Chandos, has often been quoted as talking about investing in a deficit. Who wants to invest a deficit in a Colony? If a Colony is hard up, there is no deficit in the United Kingdom; and hence the whole point of the Colonial Development and Welfare Scheme is that if there are deficits in territories like Gambia we in the United Kingdom, who are more 1604 happily endowed with coal and other resources, should give some of our surplus to the Colonies needing them.
Again I want to quote what the Minister said last Wednesday when he put forward his old bogey that we could not afford it. I was really staggered to hear him quoting the late Mr. Oliver Stanley when he introduced the 1945 Measure. He said, quoting the late Mr. Stanley, that it would not be'a very good bargain for the Colonial Empire if it was accompanied by the bankruptcy of the Mother country.' … That is a factor which we must bear in mind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1955; Vol. 536, c. 1137, 1217, and 1218.]Does anyone really think we shall bankrupt the United Kingdom because we spend another £10, £20 or £30 million on the Colonial Empire? I should not have thought that there was anything in that argument at all. It is true that it will mean some denial, some abstinence on our part; if we are to help those territories, we shall have to tighten our belts in some way or other. If any hon. Member opposite does not believe our sincerity on this side, I advise him to look at the proceedings of our annual conference in Scarborough in October, when Mr. Sam Watson of the National Mineworkers' Union put the position quite clearly before the people of this country.
We on this side are determined that more money shall be spent. By telescoping the period to three years we mean to indicate to people here and in the Colonial Territories our sense of the urgency of this job which has to be done.
§ Sir John Barlow (Middleton and Prestwich)
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) said that there would be galloping inflation if we spent too much money too quickly in a poor territory. If my economics are correct, provided sufficient consumable goods arrive in the territory, there will be galloping consumption as well and no harm done to anyone. Provided that there are sufficient consumable goods to meet the expenditure, no great harm is done.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
This is a travesty of my argument. I said that if one invested capital in a backward territory and paid paper money in wages on the spot to the local population, one might cause galloping inflation if goods were not available. If we cannot send Lancashire 1605 cotton goods, for example, let us send Japanese goods to take up the slack.
§ Sir J. Barlow
I shall not answer that point now but come to it later.
As the Committee knows, I have been engaged in colonial development in different parts of the world for probably 30 years. The subject is very near to my heart. The rate of expenditure is a most difficult problem. During recent years it has been almost impossible to spend as quickly as the House would have desired, owing to the difficulty of getting the technical experts and the goods required on the spot. That position has gradually changed, but I still think that the suggested raising of the amount to be spent from £25 million a year to £30 million a year is quite sufficient for the next five years.
It seems a little strange that in many of the Colonial Territories we are pouring forth money—quite rightly—in welfare and development of various kinds in a comparatively short period when, in many cases, we are likely to give those territories self-government. I should have thought that the proper thing would have been to lend the money rather than to give it as outright gifts now. According to the Colonial Secretary, much of the money will be spent on roads and communications and electricity, as well as on universities, education and other things.
That is a very valuable contribution to colonial development. I suggest that it would be only just that, after a period of years when the country concerned is greatly enriched by that expenditure, it should recompense us in some way. The proper way would be to charge a suitable rate of interest after, say, five, seven or 10 years. That has not been mentioned, nor will I pursue it, as it might be rather wide of the mark in this debate.
Referring to the point raised by the hon. Member for Rugby about consumable goods, I can assure the Committee that it is a little difficult for some Lancashire Members to substantiate the expenditure of these vast amounts of money when some of the Colonies—and I specifically say some—immediately renounce Lancashire textiles and open wide their doors to the cheapest Japanese and other textiles available. It is very difficult for the Lancashire textile voter to appreciate 1606 that point, and I hope that the Government will bear it in mind later on.
In many cases, Lancashire people are very magnanimous, and only too anxious to help the Colonies to develop, but it is most difficult for them to see the rightness of first giving away this money and then seeing the doors of some Colonial Territories closed absolutely to Lancashire and other British goods.
§ Mr. Johnson
Can the hon. Member point to any Colony where the door is closed in the way he suggests? Where Lancashire cloths or goods are dear or unavailable, surely Japanese or Indian goods could come in. They need to come in. Would the hon. Member deny poor people access to supplies?
§ Sir J. Barlow
I think that it would be out of order to carry that argument very far, but I can assure the hon. Member that there are markets—such as Singapore and certain African markets—which, to all intents and purposes, are closed to Lancashire goods even when readily available in the quantities required.
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
The hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) said he had played a large part in the development of various Colonial Territories, but in this country he is far more interested in farming. I recall that a few months ago the Minister of Agriculture said that the deficiency payments and production grants would amount this year to substantially more than £200 million. Ten days ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the amount would be over £250 million. I do not contest that they may be necessary but if we can afford these substantial grants to the home farmers, surely we ought not to be so niggardly as to quibble about £25 to £30 million for the 90 million people in our Colonial Territories.
I should have liked the Minister to have produced a balance sheet showing how much, over recent years, this country has benefited financially from its connection with our Colonial Territories and how much, in proportion, those Territories have really benefited from our grants. For all the arguments which have been adduced on this side of the Committee I have every sympathy, and I support the Amendment.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)
As the Amendment stands, its purpose is to increase the volume of C.D. and W. assistance over a period of three years, but the right hon. Gentleman has been very frank in admitting that the Amendment is an attempt to produce more money for the scheme. In other words, the suggestions made a few nights ago for increasing the total amount of money to be provided are to be put over in this way by making its expenditure effective for three years.
The principle which governs the sums which are to be provided under the C.D. and W. Acts is that no more should be provided than it is estimated can usefully be spent in the period in question. On that basis the Amendment would imply that £120 million could all be spent in the three years 1955 to 1958. That brings up the average from the present £14 million a year to £40 million a year.
The total Governmental development expenditure in the Colonies is now running at a rate of £110 million a year. In the view of the Government, it would be physically impossible to boost C.D. and W. expenditure from £14 million a year to £40 million a year immediately—that is to say, unless we were to take over on C.D. and W. funds charges, such as charges on loans and so on, which are only properly carried by local resources. In fact, if we tried to set about spending £120 million in three years we should have to start by spending £20 million in the first year, £40 million in the second year, and build up to £60 million in the third year.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
What does the right hon. Gentleman mean when he says "loans and so on which are only properly carried by local resources"? What sort of things has he in mind? Surely a loan is one alternative and a C.D. and W. grant is another.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
There are certain charges which have to be met by the local government. The servicing of loans is one that I had in mind.
The suggestion here is presumably that we should take over these charges and pay them from C.D. and W. funds. We believe that that is undesirable. With total Governmental development expenditure in the Colonies running at £110 1608 million a year, C.D. and W. funds would soon be meeting nearly 50 per cent. of the total. I cannot believe that that really represents the view of the Opposition. Certainly it can hardly be the view of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who the other day asked why the Colonial Territories did not undertake more taxation of their own.
The next question I should like to ask the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) is this. Is it his intention that the same scale of C.D. and W. assistance should be continued after 1958? Would we continue on the same scale? If we were suddenly to drop back to £14 million from £20 million it would make it impossible for the Colonial Territories to plan. The most important thing from the point of view of the colonial governments receiving aid from C.D. and W. funds is that they should know ahead how much can be drawn. That is the object of providing in this Bill for an amount of £120 million over the next five years.
The Amendment, as I see it, disregards, first of all, the physical limitations on the rapid expansion of colonial development up to a figure such as is contemplated. We must have reference not only to the physical assets but also to the training of officials and technicians to whom the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) referred. They are certainly more plentiful than they were, but we are still short of them in a great many fields. The hon. Lady will see, in paragraph 65 of the White Paper, that more than 200 geologists, geophysicists and chemists have been recruited since 1945, which I think is a good figure.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
We are speeding it up, but we cannot accelerate it to a point at which we can move from £14 million to £40 million in one year.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
Is it not possible to get Germans or Americans or other non-nationals to come in? I think some have been obtained. Is there a wider field to be explored?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
We have always been perfectly willing to facilitate the recruitment of foreign technicians for work for 1609 which they are suited, such as irrigation engineers and so on. We are very glad to get them, but we are still very short of technicians.
The Amendment also disregards the limitations which are imposed by the burden of residual recurrent charges arising out of existing development and, of course, future development, especially expansion of the social services. It is a real danger to press on too fast with that development if it is to be impossible for the Colonies themselves to carry it on. We must not disregard that point.
Then I think we must consider that many Colonies are able, from their own revenues and local resources, to meet the cost of their own development. That is particularly true of the Territories which are nearing self-government. I have in mind places like the Gold Coast which it is only right should bear an increasing part of the cost of their own development.
Again, much of the development is, and properly should be, paid for by the loans to which my hon. Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) referred. He spoke of the need for increasing the number of such loans. I think he had in mind not only loans which are raised in the London market but also loans directly from Her Majesty's Government. In fact, those are given from C.D. and W. funds for particular purposes. The Amendment would be exaggerating the rôle which C.D. and W. funds ought to play in colonial development. In our view, there is no case for the grant of assistance on the scale which this Amendment suggests.
Quite apart from the question whether the Amendment could be made to work, I should like to say something on the general question of finances, to which reference has been made today. As I said just now, the most important thing is that Governments should know what funds will be available for a reasonable period ahead. The question of how long that period should be is no new one. It has been discussed in the past, and five years has been chosen as the most suitable period for this purpose.
I would remind the right hon. Member for Llanelly that, following the advice of the Conference of Financial and Development Secretaries of the various colonial Governments which he convened 1610 in London in June, 1951—and it is no secret, because reference to the conference has been made in "The Colonial Territories 1951–52," Cmd. 8553—the decision was taken that five years was the most appropriate period for the C.D. and W. funds to run. If the period were only three years, we should very soon have Governments asking whether they could look ahead beyond that period, and asking, for example, about the future of the Swynnerton agricultural plan for Kenya. In fact, it would make complete nonsense of the whole conception of statutory periods if we were to adopt a period as short as three years.
§ Mrs. White
I think the right hon. Gentleman realises that this period of three years should not be taken too literally. It is simply that within the terms of the Money Resolution this was the only way open to us to suggest that more should be spent.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
That may be so, but I must be allowed to take Amendments put down by the official Opposition as being seriously intended, because that is how they will be read outside the House.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Opposition have been handicapped in this matter because he and his right hon. Friends drew the Money Resolution so narrowly that we are prohibited from putting down Amendments in the form which we should like.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I will return to the argument which has been put forward—the argument which was advanced by right hon. Gentlemen opposite the other day and which has been stressed again today, that £120 million is woefully inadequate. We do not believe that that is the case.
We have not given the matter consideration in an airy way, as the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East suggested; the matter has been gone into over a period of months in consultation with the different Governments, who have put forward their ideas and their forecasts of what they might be able to spend on the basis of various hypotheses. From a study of this information we have been able to arrive at what we believe to be the right sum. It is a sum which is based on need and on what can reasonably be spent over 1611 that period, and it allows for an increase of 70 per cent. in annual expenditure over the present rate of C.D. and W. expenditure.
We were asked the other day whether we could provide information showing how this sum was calculated. As I have said, it was based on the ideas of the colonial Governments themselves, on their general forecasts and on their own development plans. Those plans are going along independently of C.D. and W. assistance, and although they take into consideration what the Governments may receive from CD. and W. funds, they also involve finance from a great many other sources, such as loans, in some cases the Colombo Plan and in some cases American technical assistance, to which the hon. Lady referred.
I want to stress our gratitude to the United States Government for the help which they have given us, both in financial assistance—which, during their financial year 1953–54, amounted to £1¾ million and which has also involved a loan of £2,390,000 for development at Mombasa and Tanga—and also in technical assistance by the provision of experts to different Colonial Territories. Last autumn, I saw a team of American experts at work in British Guiana, with their administrative director, their agronomists, their construction engineers, their husbandry officers, their soil survey technicians, and so on. In this case the University of Maryland is running the scheme.
We are grateful for this technical assistance from the United States Government, and I want to take this opportunity of expressing the thanks of Her Majesty's Government for it.
§ Mr. Dugdale
While I agree that we are rightly grateful for this technical assistance, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain why he is grateful for receiving a sum of money from the United States when he says we have enough money and need no more? The two statements contradict each other.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Had the right hon. Gentleman listened to what I said he would have heard me say that the bulk of that money is in the form of loans for specific purposes, such as large schemes. I referred to schemes at Mombasa and 1612 Tanga. Above all, it is in the form of technicians and experts, and I have already explained that we are extremely short of technicians and experts. We are most grateful to the United States Government for making these gentlemen available.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) referred to C.D. and W. aid to British Guiana, which, as everyone knows, has been speeded up in the past year. I should not want anyone to go away with the idea that it is only the bad boys who get the money and that it is only where we have trouble, as for instance Kenya or Malaya or British Guiana, that money will be spent. That is not the case. A great deal of money is being spent elsewhere.
Admittedly an emergency of any kind is bound to lead to expenditure, although not necessarily of C.D. and W. money, but I want it to be understood by other Colonial Territories that that idea does not enter into the Government's mind in any planning which we do. We certainly discriminate in favour of the poorer Colonies, such as British Somaliland and other places, but the allocation is not on the basis of bad behaviour.
The hon. Member for Rugby also said that we must tighten our belts. I entirely agree with him. If we are to give the help which we wish to give to our Colonial Territories, we shall have to tighten our belts and be willing to make sacrifices. We cannot expect to have higher wages in our Colonies or any of the other under-developed countries without an increase in the price of their products. That should be borne in mind when complaints are made from time to time about the rise in the cost of tea, for instance, although that has nothing to do with C.D. and W. funds. Let us bear in mind that the workers of Ceylon and India have had great increases in wages over the past years which have had a good deal to do with it.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I think that is quite outside the scope of the Bill.
I have tried to deal with the main reasons for which, in the Government's 1613 view, the Amendment is unacceptable. I hope I have convinced the Opposition that the Amendment would not achieve the purpose which they have in mind and which we commend. We all want to help the Colonies as best we can. There is no dispute between us on that point. But we are convinced that it is not possible to spend money on the scale suggested in the Amendment, and we therefore hope that it will not be pressed to a Division.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The purpose of the Amendment is to underline in Committee and to seek to write into the Bill the major suggestion we made on Second Reading. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), my hon. Friends and I devoted our speeches in the main to saying, first, that we welcomed the Bill and that we thought that this instrument of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act had proved its value in practice; and to adding that, on looking to the next five years against the background which we put before the House, we believed that development ought to be speeded up.
I think it is essential in Committee that we should briefly repeat the argument. First, we said, all that happens if development merely maintains its pace is that in five years time the Colonies will be poorer than they are now. Nobody will deny that. If it merely keeps pace with the present rate and if populations are increasing at a rate which means that they will be 10 per cent. to 20 per cent. higher in five years time than they are now, then the Colonies will be poorer. That is the first point.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I should like to make clear what I said in my winding-up speech the other night. Although the rate is not rising and the speed of development will not be increased, in fact the tempo has already been increased. What we have to do is to maintain this increased tempo. That will not mean that at the end of the period the Colonies will be poorer. It will mean that they will be richer because the increased tempo has been maintained.
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is where we disagree. I think this is one of the major problems of the world—that in all the under-developed countries the tempo of increasing population is exceeding the 1614 tempo of economic development. I do not want to pursue that further because it might be out of order, but the United Nations have a document on this subject and I thought it was beyond question and was regarded as one of the major challenges to our democratic world.
As I understood it, the view put forward by the Government is not that they are against voting more money because they object to giving more money or giving more help under C.D. and W. The Minister used words which we shall see in HANSARD tomorrow, and which I hope do not represent the view of the Government. He said it is possible to exaggerate the value of Colonial Development and Welfare. Does that mean that public development must have some pre-determined relationship to private development, or is the sum we are discussing now to be considered in relation to what can be spent with the resources and staff available?
In my view, the most important kinds of development needed in the Colonies in the next five years are the kinds of development which private enterprise will not undertake. I am not moralising; it is a fact. The most important development needed is increasing agricultural production, increasing production of food. In African Colonies, even if they are to stay as they are—even to maintain the existing standard of life of the population we will need a 2 per cent. increase in food production. Whilst private enterprise might be all right for cash crops, what we have to do is to improve resources very quickly in the next few years, for production by peasant farmers in the Colonies. The biggest contribution that can be made is by the development of co-operation in all its forms among the peasant peoples.
We begin, therefore, by saying that against that background there is a need for stepping up the pace because of the increase in population. Secondly, everywhere in all these territories there is a demand for a higher standard of life. I think we all accept that. Our success depends on whether we can meet that demand. The whole world is deeply worried about poverty in all these underdeveloped areas. This is not a purely colonial problem. It is to be found in its most acute form in territories which, in the technical sense, are not Colonies, but it does exist in the Colonies as well.
1615 If we are to keep pace with the increasing population and meet the demand for higher standards, it seems essential that we should increase the pace of development. We found in the White Paper that Her Majesty's Government were satisfied—I am summarising, but I hope I am quoting fairly—that the amount of money provided under the Bill with the other resources, loans and so on which would be available to Colonial Governments would enable them to maintain the pace of development. This comes down to the view we put forward and seek to cover by this Amendment that, having regard to the increasing population and the demand for a higher standard of life, to maintain the pace is not enough, but we have to increase the pace.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I read the same phrase in the White Paper after the speech of the right hon. Member and took it that the pace of development meant, not the velocity of production, but acceleration in production. I think he has misread the phrase to refer to the ordinary velocity of production.
§ Mr. Griffiths
If I have misread it, all I can say is that I put that interpretation on the paragraph in the debate on Second Reading. It was my privilege to follow the Secretary of State, and my interpretation was not denied or contradicted by Ministers on the Front Bench.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Very well, do we understand that the pace is to be increased in the next five years? It must be one or the other. It has either to be maintained or to be increased. If it is to be increased, is the increase we suggest in our Amendment too big? We have to remember that this is not the comparison between £14 million per annum three years ago, five years ago, or six years ago and now. What we are voting is money which has to be converted into resources, plant, equipment, schools, hospitals and other things. We have stressed in all our discussions with our people at all our conferences and elsewhere that when we say we are going to help people in the Colonies and under-developed areas, that does not mean simply to vote money in a Bill, but to give them resources, perhaps resources which we should like to use at home.
1616 6.45 p.m.
As I have understood, the case of the Government so far has been that we cannot spend more. For that reason I ask, as we asked before, although I do not think we have had a complete and satisfactory answer, supposing the Colonial Territories were asked, "Can you use more resources and increase the pace of development in the next five years," am I to understand that the answer is "no" and is "no" in regard to all of them? When development is needed by us we can get it very quickly. I am not complaining about that but asking the Committee to realise it. If it is a question of getting more copper, what stops us? Nothing, of course not—that is one of the problems. The Minister knows perfectly well that it is an imperative need, and I am not criticising it. What we see is that the Colonies which can provide things the world needs are developing more quickly than those which cannot do so, and it is of the utmost importance to have some balance in the matter.
I am sure the real bottleneck is in technical skill. I know this is a problem, and I asked about it on Second Reading. I pointed out how important it was to get all the steps taken by C.D. and W, the Colombo Plan and the United Nations and all working in this field using what is a rather scarce commodity—technical skill at all levels—taken in the closest collaboration in the use of available resources and technical skill. It is very important to use these agencies of U.N.O., the Colombo Plan, C.D. and W. and C.D.C., which also has technical skills in this field, and to see that there is no overlapping or waste.
My hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) will be dealing with this problem specifically later. I only mention it and will not develop it now. The need for development grows all the time, and it will grow more in the next five years. I need not remind hon. Members of the Committee that in the next five years our relationships with the Colonies will be perhaps the most important we have ever had. The Gold Coast and Nigeria are perhaps in their last five years or decade as Colonies. Surely it is essential in these final stages to step up development. Their success as democratic, independent nations is not only a matter of real concern and pride to this 1617 House and the country, but for the whole world.
We heard with pleasure last night that the efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield and his colleagues and continued by the present Government for a Caribbean Federation are nearing fruition. I think we can look to a future in which they will form a Dominion in, say, five years, or 10 years. Does not that mean that we should make a special effort to increase the pace of development in the Caribbeans? Do we want them to be a Dominion under their present structure, basis and standard of life? Is that not another reason, a political reason, of immense importance and significance why we should increase the pace? For all those reasons, I think we ought to increase the pace of development.
We ought to speed up very quickly the training of technicians in the Colonies. We have not done enough, and we are still not doing enough. We ought to be doing very much more.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
If it is agreed, as obviously it is, that we are spending more in the Colonies today and will spend more in the future, surely, if the right hon. Gentleman feels that we should spend even more than that, he should give the basis for his figures.
§ Mr. Griffiths
What we say is that this money should be spent in three years instead of five years. I have already asked the Minister this question. Will he say that this is all that the Colonies can spend on development—in other words, that if we vote this money, all that the Colonies need and think they can do in development in the next five years will be completely fulfilled by this programme? I do not believe so. The figures are an estimate, as they have got to be. I am convinced that there ought to be a drive and an urge for quicker development and that we ought to take urgent steps, which can be taken, to quicken the pace of development.
Against the background of increasing population, of a demand for a higher standard of life and of quickening political tempo, I can only add this. Members of the Committee will know that originally we voted £140 million and that there have been occasions when we have come here to make other grants—for example, 1618 for British Guiana, British Honduras and Kenya. That ought to show us all how essential it is that we should take all the steps available to us, in every way possible, to quicken development.
It was for that purpose that we moved the Amendment. It was not in the form in which we should have liked to move it. Therefore, I was not deploying my case that I could prove that we could spend this money within three years. It was because we believed that within the years, which will be the crucial period, we could spend more.
One has only to look at the White Paper and to remember what happens with all these plans. In the first year, we spent £6 million. The figure grew until in 1951 we were spending £14 million, and last year we spent £14 million; the figure has not gone up in the last three years. If expenditure has risen from £6 to £14 million and the pace has continued to grow, because the material and political needs are present, I think that we could, and should, be able to spend this money in the three years. I believe that if we set about it, we could do it.
When the need arises elsewhere, the pace quickens very rapidly. I want to see us devoting the same urge to quickening the pace of Colonial development as we do when there is need for the raising of our own welfare, for our own future and our own safety. It is for those reasons that we move the Amendment in the only form in which we can do it, emphasising in Committee what we emphasised during Second Reading, that in our view we ought to do everything we possibly can to quicken the pace of development.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, at the end to insert:(b) in the case of schemes for providing education, health services, housing and water supplies, twelve million pounds.During the discussion on the Money Resolution, I drew the attention of the Committee to the need for expenditure on the social services. I move this Amendment to elicit much more information than one was able to get at that stage on how much of the grants which the Government intend to make during the next five years will, in fact be devoted to the social services.
1619 The words in the Amendment which describe those social serviceseducation, health services, housing and water suppliesare taken from the White Paper, and are the words in which the expenditure for the last eight years was summarised on page 8. That expenditure represented, as the White Paper shows, 40 per cent. of the total expenditure in the eight years from 1st April, 1946, to 31st March, 1954. As the Committee will see, my Amendment suggests a similar proportion.
The £12 million mentioned in the Amendment is 40 per cent, of the £30 million which is the total named later in the subsection relating to expenditure. In absolute terms, it is roughly double the expenditure per annum of the previous period. As we have already heard, that is what the Government propose—an expenditure roughly double in each year.
I have not done what I might have liked to do by proposing an actual increase in the monetary expenditure on education, health, housing, and water supplies beyond what, as far as one can guess, the Government may intend. I have moved an Amendment suggesting the same sort of proportion. Although I should have liked to suggest a larger sum, I did not wish to be met by an objection that I was proposing so much to be spent on social services that there would be nothing left for economic development. I do not, of course, want to do that.
I think, however, that the question of the proportion that the social service expenditure bears to the expenditure on the more specifically economic subjects, like communications, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and so on, merits a good deal of examination. I should like to know what the Government's intentions are about it.
The "Economist," at the week-end, contained an interesting article on this general subject and on the White Paper in particular. In the course of that article, the "Economist" said:On the whole, economic development has been given priority in the plans. This principle has not always been pushed as far as some economists would like; the relative allocation to social and welfare objects, compared with such directly productive ends as agriculture or roads, has sometimes drawn adverse comment.1620 That is true; it has sometimes drawn adverse comment, and there are economists who have argued in that way.
The "Economist" sums up the kind of argument which is used:that a very modest investment in bringing medical science to bear can be balanced only by a far heavier outlay in raising agricultural productivity by modern technology.The "Economist" itself, apparently, does not hold that view. Its article does not support the argument that we ought to beware of social service expenditure at this time lest we greatly increase the population thereby and make our problem of economic development all the more serious.
The "Economist" seems to reject, without specifically saying so, the argument that we ought to cut down—or, at any rate, maintain at a low level—all our health and education expenditures, and particularly the health expenditures, in order not to encourage too rapid an increase of population. I hope that tonight the Minister will tell us that he certainly rejects that argument too.
These expenditures on social services are not only humanitarian. They are not only justified because they save lives or prolong life. They are justified from a more economic point of view, especially because they help to produce healthy and educated workers. It is common ground among everybody who discusses these subjects that one cannot maintain an actively productive community, really beginning to approach the tempo of the 20th century, unless the workpeople have a decent education and are free from the debilitating effects of tropical diseases like malaria and yaws which have hitherto beset them. Therefore, social service expenditure is worth while on that ground.
It is also worth while economically as an incentive in itself. I did not appreciate that until some years ago I went to Africa and was especially asked about incentive goods by the residents of the various communities which I visited. I was told that the local population, having so little upon which to spend their wages and their time, were perhaps not inclined to work as hard as they could have done, and I was asked what we were going to do about it. When I inquired on what they wanted to spend their incomes, I 1621 found when I spoke to the workers themselves, and not to the shopkeepers, that above all they wanted education.
This passionate desire of the people in our Colonial Territories for education should be taken into account, even strictly from the economic point of view. The education of women or of girl children is bound to contribute an almost untold quality of value to ensuring social stability and a progressive outlook in these developing communities. Its importance cannot be exaggerated economically or socially.
The huge increases of population which have taken place in some of these Colonies in recent years have increased the social needs before they have provided the labour to satisfy them. The mouths to be fed increase before the hands that go with the mouths are able to produce. Therefore, for the next few years at any rate, one surely ought to contemplate an increased proportion of social service expenditure as against more strictly economic expenditure.
I would plead particularly for the smaller Colonies, about which a great deal has been said today. The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs said in our previous debate, and again today, that no more money should be provided than can be applied usefully in the period. He said again today that the sums are based on need and on what can reasonably be spent. I want to know whether that is literally true of every one of the smaller Colonies. Have the sums allocated to them for the coming five-year period in respect of social services, education, housing, water supplies, and medical care in no case been cut below the needs, and below what can reasonably be spent?
Do they adequately cover what can reasonably be spent, or has there been any trimming down of requests put forward by the colonial Governments? I can only illustrate what I have in my mind by giving a particular example. As I told the Minister that I should do, I draw it from British Honduras. It is known that the leaders of the majority party in the Legislature there, the People's United Party, when they came over to London in January, came to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies for more money than was provided for in their coming plan for 1955–60.
1622 The first question is whether any more was given. Did they get something more than had been originally provided? Did they get all that they asked for? If they did not, why not? If they did not get any more, why not? Were their requests all "off the mark" altogether? Were they all projects that were not needed, or upon which money could not usefully be spent? I should like to know.
I find, for example, that in the memorandum which these leaders circulated to hon. Members who met them when they came here, they said:The Education grant sought would be used to provide better physical surroundings for primary schools and secondary schools, assist secondary schools in securing qualified staffs in suitable numbers …I presume that they would not have put that in the memorandum if there had been provision in the previous plan for doing these things.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am not certain what argument the right hon. Gentleman is developing, whether it is a specific case or, as he said at the beginning, an illustration. He seems to me to be developing a specific case which goes beyond the Amendment.
§ Mr. Marquand
It is an illustration which I hope is very much to the point and which will be valuable to the Committee in showing precisely, as a specific example and not in generalities, the kind of request which can be made and which, as far as one can see, is needed by the smaller territories the future of which is being planned under the scheme which we are discussing today.
I certainly wish to use it as no more than an example, supplementing that, if I may, by asking the Minister if it is true that up to the present in that territory no assistance at all has been given to secondary education from C.D. and W. funds. If that is an example of expenditure where C.D. and W. funds fail to meet the needs, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman's argument that the sums for which he is asking are based on need and on what can reasonably be spent is shown to have been somewhat inaccurate, and that there is some hole in his argument that what he is asking is all that is reasonably needed.
It was also argued by the right hon. Gentleman in an earlier speech that there 1623 was no need to provide any additional money for any of these purposes because the limiting factor was not money but resources. His argument was that we were not placing these limits on proposed expenditure because we were not agreeing to grant the money but because the resources are not there on which to spend the money. I wonder whether that applies to his proposals with regard to the provision of medical care and the feeding of children in schools. Is it true, for example, that there is not sufficient milk available in this country for him to buy dried milk and send it to British Honduras and other tropical territories where it is sorely needed to preserve and save the lives of children who cannot get milk because there are insufficient cattle?
At present, there is no public sanitation in Belize. Is it true that insufficient resources are available to provide for the draining of that city? We all look forward to the possibility of increasing the population of British Honduras very greatly, possibly by immigration. Draining the city would rid the people of disease which is caused by the throwing of excreta into public canals; there are at present 800 deaths a year from gastroenteritis.
Cleaning up the town would make it a more attractive place to would-be immigrants. Surely we have resources—perhaps the plan provides for this—for a comparatively simple scheme of that kind. I believe there is only one qualified member of an engineering institution in the whole of British Honduras. Surely it would be possible to provide one or two qualified people to go there from this country for a time to help to improve the amenities of Belize.
I have quoted these examples—not at too great a length, I hope—to show the doubt that exists in my mind as to whether the amount of money, so far as we can guess it—the Amendment is a probing one with the object of ascertaining the amount—provided for the next five years under the Bill for social services is sufficient, and whether in many instances the resources exist but the money has not been provided.
It was in order to ask questions of that kind that I put down my Amendment. I should like to know what proportion of the total sum to be provided is likely to 1624 go to social services—I realise that a specific answer cannot be given—and whether need could have been satisfied if the right hon. Gentleman had made money available.
§ Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)
I rise to support my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand). It used to be my view, until I had practical experience, that the people who were undertaking development enterprises, whether public or private, in our Colonial Territories ought in very large measure to be responsible for the social services referred to in the Amendment. I took the view that organisations going into primitive countries to start developments with the intention either of making money out of them, or of creating a situation which was advantageous to the country from which they came, should take on the burden and the responsibility of providing the houses, schools and hospitals for the colonial peoples who would work in those enterprises.
I have changed my view. I believe that the provision of the social services should be—in fact must be—the paramount responsibility of the Colonial Development and Welfare fund. For reasons which I am about to give, they should not be the responsibility of either private enterprise or public organisations.
When a large-scale development is started in a colonial country, it is reasonable to assume that it is done at the expense of certain tribal habits and customs, that it interferes in some way with the community life which has been built up over a long period of years, and that certain customs and, indeed, taboos are altered. I suggest that it is far too dangerous a thing for these changes to be made by people who do not start off with a proper understanding of and sympathy for the historic reasons why local conditions existed. People who go in to exploit a country for either public or private interests ought not, therefore, to be charged with the responsibility for interfering so materially in the lives of the people as social services are devised to do.
The Colonial Development and Welfare fund is the instrument for insuring that the social services in Colonial Territories are improved. I almost said "maintained," but if they do not exist they have 1625 to be inaugurated. One of the most important developments is water supplies. Few social installations give so much employment both to people at home—although that is not a consideration about which we should worry at this stage—and to people in Colonial Territories as water supplies. Few social installations create wealth so rapidly as this one does.
In the Masai country in East Africa, I have seen Masai herdsmen driving their zebu or humped cattle for several days from their grazing grounds to a water hole and then for several days from the water hole to their grazing grounds. The age of maturity of such animals is often ridiculously late—six, seven and even eight years of age—because of inadequate water supplies. I believe that, roughly speaking, if one has the money, one can find water almost anywhere Water engineers tell me that one can get it in the Sahara if one is rich enough. That is an exaggeration, but water is available in the Masai grazing grounds if one will only spend the money on sinking the wells and building dams and reservoirs. Proper water supplies would mean that the cattle would calve more regularly and come to maturity quicker, and there would be more for the people in the Colony to eat. I am never tired of repeating that, on the whole, colonial peoples are better off physically and mentally when they have enough to cat than when they do not have enough.
§ Sir L. Plummer
There is a belief among some people in this country that a coloured colonial can get along with much less to eat than a white man can. There is a tradition that a handful of rice is all that some people require. The fact is that the installation of a water supply can rapidly make a material change in people's lives. My right hon. Friend gave the example of British Honduras. He was quoting some examples of what he has seen there. It would be worth the attention of the Committee for a moment to consider the position of Jamaica.
Some of us in London are having constituency problems because of the mass of Jamaicans coming to this country for very good reasons. They are coming because at best they have 24 per cent. unemployment and at worse 44 per cent. unemployment in Jamaica. There are 610,000 1626 workers out of a population of 1½ million. They have terrible seasonal unemployment in the sugar industry, and they get charity to the extent of 2s. to 3s. a week.
The conditions of the water supply in Jamaica are bad. One has poor water supplies and high unemployment. I suggest that concentration on the provision of these necessary things, like water supplies, could have three beneficial effects. It could help with irrigation and so provide an alternative crop to this monoculture which is killing so many of our Colonies; it could contribute to helping to solve the unemployment problem and add to the happiness and the health of the people.
I see from the latest report that we are spending some £250,000 on the provision of water supplies for 1½ million people. In the rural district council in which I live, there are 10,000 people and £600,000 is to be spent on a water scheme. It may be necessary for us to cut down some of our demands, as the Minister said in the discussion we had on the previous Amendment, in favour of that policy.
I want to deal with the necessity for education, technical education and agricultural education. I believe that we have to step up both. In countries where black men are beginning to work side by side with white men, as in the Copper Belt in Northern Rhodesia, we cannot continue to preserve a situation where the black man is only to be the most humble hewer of wood and drawer of water and is to be denied for all time the chance of becoming a skilled worker, owning a motor car and living in a house with a refrigerator. We know that he cannot get these things until he has the technical education which enables him to do the work which brings him those rewards.
We may send out Mr. Dalgleish to Northern Rhodesia, or British Guiana, or any other country, and he will give us his expert, first-class advice. Indeed, he produced a magnificent report on the situation in the Copper Belt in Northern Rhodesia. But unless we support that with really imaginative schemes of technical education and deny the argument that there must always be a submerged black proletariat which does the humblest of jobs and gets the lowest subsistence rate, we just entirely and utterly fail in our purpose.
1627 The amount of agricultural education that we have to provide is enormous. I heard the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations a little while ago saying rather soto voce that encouraging peasant producers is encouraging private enterprise. Look what we are doing in Tanganyika today in providing education for peasant farmers. A bright boy is taken away to be educated at a mission school. If he is very bright and gets the opportunity, he can go to a better school, where he is taught the rudiments of scientific agriculture. At least he is taught to understand that it is better to plant one's seed when the soil is ripe than to rely on a couple of crossed-sticks lying in the light of the moon, or voodoo of that kind.
He is taught that there are certain things one can do to see that one produces a successful small farm, or shamba as it is called. The boy goes home from the school and goes to the farm and starts to put into practice that which he has learnt at the school, which is probably 300 or 400 miles away. He has no follow-up, no extension course. There is not a sufficient staff of agricultural advisers to come and see what that chap is doing.
So he operates this farm with the education he has had against the laughter, sneers and jeers of the elders, who believe it is all absolute nonsense. It happens that this fellow loses a crop one year, not because he has behaved badly, but because the weather has failed. At once the elders of the tribe say, "Of course you lost it. We all lost it. It is because we did not put the cooking pots into a certain position at a certain time of night."
Back that boy goes to becoming an ignorant peasant cultivator, because we invested a little money in his education but we were not prepared to invest that amount of money needed to make sure that he became a convinced agricultural scientist, if one can use that term of a peasant cultivator, to teach him properly and sustain him with his knowledge and support him with his own propaganda among his own villagers. That cannot be done by private enterprise. That has to be done by an authority, by a Government authority, and the backing for that authority should be the Colonial Development and Welfare fund.
1628 Those of us who have had the good fortune to travel to the Colonies know that our medical services are deplorable. There are areas of our Colonial Territories where there is one doctor for every 100,000 people, or even more than 100,000 people. Great medical work is conducted, not so much by the Colonial Governments, who are unable to do what they want to do, because they do not have the money, but by missions. That is the case in East Africa.
That is not enough. Private enterprise and public enterprise have both tried to make their contribution in medical services and both, by and large, have failed. One of the reasons is that they have had to compete in an unplanned manner for the doctors, medical orderlies, surgeons, opticians, gynaecologists and other staff who are wanted not only in the Colonies, but in this country, too.
Therefore, I come back to the original theme that this essential, vital work of housing, water, technical education and medical services falls entirely and properly into the orbit of the Colonial Development and Welfare fund. In these cases the demand on the material resources is not so great. One does not have to build great concrete schools in which to teach people in tropical countries. One can give them good education in huts. There is no need for expensive installations. Good hospitals and first-aid centres need not be as permanent as in this country.
The requirements of water supplies are different of course. What is required is a determination by the Government to spend the money and ceaselessly to search for the technologists and scientists who are absolutely necessary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East has made the case for greater expenditure, and he has put the figure at £12 million. I do not think that he meant that £12 million is one penny more or less a fixed figure. He is trying to preserve of the money to be spent a proper proportion for the social services.
I believe that if we are to go ahead on the basis of over-emphasising expenditure on industrial and agricultural development and neglecting proper expenditure on the social services, we shall create such a discontent that we shall fail in our object of creating fine, healthy, intelligent and able workers and craftsmen; so 1629 much so that much of the effort and money which we are now saying should be spent on Colonial development will be lost.
§ 7.30 p.m.
I am glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) because, for once, I agree with a great deal of what he said, especially regarding agriculture and agricultural education.
When one goes round the Colonies and visits various places, one realises very quickly that probably the most important and crucial point is the increase in agriculture and the increase in food production, whatever the crops, in order to improve the standard of living of the people of that country. As it happens, most of our Colonies are primarily interested in agricultural crops, whether cattle, grain, tea, rubber, and so forth.
When I am in a Colonial Territory, I try to visit the agricultural research centre and demonstration farms which usually exist. If one spends a few hours with these people, one can see what is likely to be the standard of nutrition for the inhabitants of that country in the next 10 years.
I regard the question of agricultural education as probably more important than any other kind of education, more important even than any other welfare work. If we get people with a greater understanding and knowledge of agriculture, the other knowledge will follow in its wake. It was my good fortune a few days ago to be in Entebbe. Although I was there for only two nights, I was invited to visit the agricultural research centre. I must say that I was greatly impressed with what I saw there.
Of course, they have the difficulties of dealing with all kinds of cattle diseases to which cattle in this country are subject, and many tropical diseases as well. The difficulties of the veterinary surgeons in these countries, first, in finding a remedy for these diseases, and then in disseminating the information among Africans in all parts of the country, are very great indeed.
Although I was there for only a very short time, I was greatly impressed with what I saw, and I feel that the standard of living of Africans generally depends very much on the calibre of the personnel 1630 working at the agricultural research centres and the experimental farms. For that reason, I hope that the Colonial Office will pay great attention to this side of the problem. I do not want to develop the matter, but only to mention it briefly, because I agree with the hon. Gentleman—I think that on both sides of the Committee there is general agreement—that, when we really consider the matter, agricultural education is most important.
§ Mrs. White
I want briefly to support the Amendment. The Minister will realise that we are trying to be more specific and more closely analytical in this Amendment than we could be on the more general Amendment which was discussed earlier.
The Minister tried to give the impression to the House and the country, and, presumably, to the Colonial Territories, that everything that can be done physically is done, and that there are no financial barriers in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman is shaking his head, but that is the impression which he tried to give in reply to the debate on a previous Amendment—that the barrier was not finance. He said there may be other barriers, such as supplies of raw materials, but that it was not largely a matter of finance.
I really think that that assertion ought to be challenged, because, while it certainly may be true in some parts and in respect of some schemes, it is not universally true, and it would be wrong for this complacent attitude to go unchallenged. I should like to give one example. We have been discussing the great importance of education, particularly education in rural areas. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the former Colonial Secretary, Viscount Chandos, when the emergency in Kenya became acute, agreed to the expenditure of a fairly considerable sum on agricultural development, but refused, or said he was not in a position to offer—perhaps because it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who refused—the money which was asked for at the same time for education.
It was required particularly for education in rural areas of Kenya, including the education of women. I am certain that anyone with a superficial knowledge 1631 of Kenya, and of the Kikuyu country in particular, will agree that until the women there are better educated, we shall not get the economic incentive which we need, among other things, to improve the standard of life.
The Government then said they found themselves quite unable to find the £6 million asked for on that occasion. I remember questioning the former Colonial Secretary upon this matter in this House. That was not a situation in which the people on the spot, who, quite properly, should be consulted on all these schemes, felt that the money could not be spent; quite the contrary.
So much do they think that the money can be spent that they have gone across the Atlantic to ask for it, and I hope they will get it. They are laying particular emphasis on this matter of the education of women. I believe that discussions are now going on, and I very much hope that they will be successful. That is an instance which we should bring forward publicly to show that there are occasions when the people on the spot believe that money should be spent, and that it would be spent on an objective which we all think is desirable. A positive request was made for funds to carry out the scheme, and that request was not met. I think that is an example of our having not, in fact, fulfilled the demands which have been made upon us.
It is true that we have voted fairly considerable sums for agricultural development in Kenya, which we hope will be spent over a fairly short period, and that is very interesting. When I was out there last summer, I discussed the rehabilitation of some of the people detained in the camps for suspected complicity with Mau Mau. The officials in charge were discussing the possible resettlement of some of these persons in land settlements which were to be made available, because now, at last, they had the money with which to undertake irrigation projects.
I believe it is fair to say that, had it not been for the political emergency there, they would have had to wait a good deal longer to realise schemes which they said they had been wanting to carry out for years, but which, when they had a political emergency, became suddenly physically possible to carry out. There- 1632 fore, I wish to reinforce the plea we have made that we should not wait for that kind of emergency before we make certain whether we have completely exhausted our physical efforts, and that we do not place any financial barrier in the way.
Turning to another territory in which the Minister knows I am interested—Nyasaland—I have looked at the figures of expenditure during the past eight years, which are given in Table 4, and I observe that we have spent, or rather contributed, only some £42,000 for technical and vocational education for eight years, and that for a country with 2½ million Africans. That is really not very much. It is the cost of a couple of classrooms in this country. In fact, even on primary education, to which we contributed rather more, our contribution was less than the cost of one technical college in my own constituency.
Over a period of eight years we spent £6,000 on higher education, including scholarships. That is rather an interesting figure, because one of the chief complaints which I heard in Nyasaland was this precise difficulty of obtaining educational facilities for the admittedly relatively few people who at the moment possess anything like the necessary qualifications. I think I am right in saying that, at the moment, there are only two students from Nyasaland in the United Kingdom at public expense. They are two girls taking domestic science courses at Bath.
Only last week some of us in this House were given information about two young men from Nyasaland who, believe it or not, had walked from Nyasaland to the Gold Coast, and who were there assisted with a passage to London by interested people. They are now attending evening classes in London, and are earning their living by day. They, evidently, are sufficiently qualified to attend evening classes in London, but cannot get the same facilities in Nyasaland, because otherwise it would be hard to believe that they would undertake such an arduous journey.
I do not believe that there need be any barrier to further educational facilities in Nyasaland, and I endorse what has been said about the extreme necessity of spending on education as much as we can possibly afford. We must spend in this direction until it hurts, because, if we do 1633 not, we are going to be faced with the difficulties which we have already encountered in one or two of our territories, where the political aspirations far exceed the capacity of the peoples concerned. We are anxious that that should not happen, particularly in countries which do not possess very great resources of their own.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) made a very interesting speech on Second Reading about the need for bringing education to the special areas in the Colonies. Quite emphatically, there are some that are poorer than others and where the possibility of economic development is not so rapid as in some of the others. I am sure that in those territories we should be spending more on these services than we are spending at present.
§ Dr. H. Morgan (Warrington)
Although one day I want to speak at length in this House on the West Indies, I think that tonight, after the very good speeches which we have heard in this debate, one should be brief.
In the last decade, the Colonial Office has done magnificient work in connection with the West Indies. I am not saying that conditions in the West Indies have changed completely, but great progress has been made, and the farther we get down towards Venezuela and South America the more I know about that part of the world. The work done by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and by his officers during the last decade in the field of education, in improving the condition of the Caribbean workers, and in the vocations which they follow, especially that of agriculture, has been truly magnificent. Excellent work has also been done in social development and in health.
My brother was a medical officer in Grenada, where I was born and where I spent the first 20 years of my life. In his last letter to me before he died two years ago, he wrote about the great change that had taken place during the 10 years that he was away qualifying, rather late in life, as a doctor. On his return to Grenada he noticed what a wonderful change had taken place, especially among the workers. He said that the higher classes still stood practically where they were, but that the bulk of the labouring 1634 classes, agricultural and manual workers, had progressed magnificently.
He said that it looked as though the policy laid down by those who pleaded for the benefit of the workers—and confirmed by the Royal Commission on which were such men as Lord Moyne and Sir Walter Citrine, now Lord Citrine—in spite of all the drawbacks of climate, of poverty and of the depth of resentment felt in previous years, had borne fruit, and that there had been a remarkable improvement from the point of view of the health and education of the people, and that their general appreciation of other countries was a remarkably fine piece of social development.
I think that these things should be said by one who for many years was a severe critic of the Colonial Office. I know that since I first came to Parliament I have not led the Colonial Office any too nice a life, because I thought that it did not deserve it. But its appointment of officers during the past half decade and the way in which it has appreciated the advice given to it by those men makes me want to say quite publicly in the House of Commons that all concerned have worked magnificently.
The Island of Grenada in which I was born has progressed appreciably. The development of the Colony, the work of the higher officers who have been sent out and the appreciation of the local officers, who are also worthy of attention, has been excellent. The West Indies now stand a great chance of becoming an example of what the British can do in the way of colonial affairs as compared with South America, on the one hand, and, if necessary, North America on the other.
I hope that I am not going outside the scope of the Bill, but I desired to give praise where praise was due because, as a critic, I have often turned upside down those responsible for colonial affairs. Owing to the way in which the West Indies are being developed, I am certain that in another decade or two they will be able to stand as an example of Western colonisation. Trinidad has been immensely helped in its social conditions, in spite of the exploitation of the oil industry. It is the one place in the world in which asphalt can be found, developed and exported to this country. Oil, in conjunction with asphalt, has enabled 1635 great progress to be made in Trinidad and in the rest of the West Indies. The other islands not so richly endowed by the gifts of God, for example, the Leeward Islands of Antigua and Dominica, have been developed out of all recognition, and the development in the Windward Islands—Grenada, St. Vincent and St. Lucia—has been great.
Anyone who saw Granada, as I did nearly 20 years ago, and saw it again much more recently—or any of the Windward Islands—will realise the magnificent work which the English public officials have done there. I used to say that only the local people could do it. I now say that the men chosen in the last two decades by the Government here have done magnificent work and devoted themselves to improving local conditions, thereby setting an example for future civil servants who are sent to the West Indies. Their work will never be forgotten.
I can only hope that the dream that many West Indians had, and still have, of a united set of islands—a federation of all the islands—each with its own Government because of its peculiar difficulties, but each united into a joint federation system of islands under one supreme head, will one day be realised. That alone will be a magnificent feature which will lead to the development of the West Indies. It will set an example—we are setting it now—to the tyrants who run South America and to the money-powered individuals in North America and the United States.
I have made these remarks without any preparation because I felt that it was my duty to make them and to give this re cognition to those whom I have criticised so often in the past. I want to let the Committee know that what I have read and heard from my friends, acquaintances and relations shows me that the work done has been superb and worthy of the highest praise.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) for the praise he has bestowed on the Government and Government services in the West Indian Islands. I feel that it is well-deserved and that it will be appreciated by them that the House shares his view in the work they have done during the past 10 years.
1636 The Amendment was I think intended to enable the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) to argue in favour of an increase in the money available for social services. In fact, if the Amendment were passed it would have exactly the opposite effect. By setting a ceiling of £12 million, that is to say 50 per cent. of the average annual rate of £24 million which we are contemplating, it would hamper expenditure on the social services, because for the next few years, as we see it, there will be a building up of C.D. and W. expenditure to a higher figure. If we limit the expenditure to £12 million a year, then in the later years we would be getting less for social services than for other parts of the programme. Therefore, we hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not feel it necessary to press the Amendment to a Division; but, if he should do so, we ask the House to reject it.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman really wanted to emphasise interest in the social services as part of the C.D. and W. programme. In doing so, he launched the argument as to whether we were spending too much on the social side of the C.D. and W. programme and too little on the economic side, or vice versa. As he said, there was an article in the "Economist" on that point last week. The division of opinion is very wide. Probably in the House there are those who would argue both ways. What, in fact, has happened over the past nine years is that about 50 per cent. of the C.D. and W. funds has gone to the social services, and the rest has gone to economic or semi-economic programmes.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) the other day rather stressed the economic side as being more important at this stage. I think that one has to remember that in drawing up development programmes Colonial Governments themselves tend to emphasise economic work. That is where the money which they provide from their own resources mainly goes—to enable them to meet the recurrent charges arising from expanded social services. It has been rather left to Her Majesty's Government, through C.D. and W. funds, to provide for the capital cost of social services in various forms.
I would not disagree with anything said by the right hon. Gentleman or by hon. 1637 Members on both sides of the House regarding the need for maintaining and improving the programme of social services, and particularly of education, in the Colonies. I emphasised that point the other day, and certainly that is the view of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me in particular to say something about British Honduras. It is rather a good example, and I can answer his question as to how much money is to be spent on social services as compared with economic development. What happened when the new Government took power in British Honduras? They drew up a plan for colonial development and welfare assistance of £3 million for five years, and also sought assistance outside the plan for road construction, relief of loan charges, housing and provision for a sewerage system in Belize, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
The view of the Colonial Office and of my right hon. Friend was that British Honduras was over-estimating its physical capacity to undertake these development works. We have to remember that the whole territory includes only 70,000 inhabitants. There was discussion between my right hon. Friend and the delegation which we were glad to see here. They were, I think, very much impressed by what they saw, and they returned to British Honduras in good heart. As a result of the discussions my right hon. Friend was able to announce in the House on 4th November that, subject to Parliament making provision for the necessary funds, which is what we are doing now, an initial allocation of £1¼ million would be made for the next three years to enable the territory to carry on and, if possible, to improve on the present rate of expenditure on development. To this was added £300,000 from the existing allocation.
The plan itself was considered to be sound and well-based, and no part either on the economic or social services side has been cut out. In fact, the Colony are going ahead with the plan in the hope that they can show that they can profitably and efficiently spend the money which has been allocated to them for the first three years. It includes £930,000 for social services, about £250,000 of which is to be spent on education, and the balance 1638 of the programme is for economic schemes. Housing is included, though not perhaps on as large a scale as those of us who know Belize would like.
As yet, there is no provision for the construction of a modern sewerage system in Belize. I have no hesitation in endorsing what the right hon. Gentleman said as to the importance of that particular work, and I hope that it will come in the second phase of this plan. But it was felt that there were more important things to be done and these were included in the first phase. The right hon. Gentleman also asked about increasing the number of qualified engineers. That depends on education and the funds available for that purpose in the Colony.
§ Mr. Marquand
If the right hon. Gentleman is about to depart from what I said, I hope he will say something about secondary education. It is, after all, essential to have secondary education in order to produce the technicians, engineers, architects and so on. It is unfair continually to say that these skilled people do not exist if we do not try to produce them. Is it not true that in this Colony there is no Government grant at all for secondary education and that in consequence a very large proportion of the money for that purpose is, in fact, coming from the United States of America to one denomination? Would it not be better and wiser to provide some Government funds for all types of secondary education for all denominations?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I regret I am not in a position to say whether any of the £250,000 is intended to be spent on secondary education. I know that in the past secondary education in the Colony has been provided by missions, very largely, as the right hon. Gentleman says, by the Roman Catholic mission from the United States. It has done very good work there, too, but certainly I am in entire agreement with him that we have got to increase secondary education in British Honduras. It is essential if we are to carry out the sort of work we have been discussing and which we favour. I will see that the point is noted in the Colonial Office.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), who spoke so clearly 1639 and so persuasively, as he always does on these matters. Quite frankly, I do not think I disagree with a single word he said, except on one subject when he described the medical services in the Colonial Territories as deplorable. I do not think that that is fair on the Colonial medical services. Certainly in some parts doctors are few and far between and dispensaries are poorly equipped, scattered, and too few in number, but in the main I believe that great work is being done by the medical services in our Colonial Territories.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way if only to afford me an opportunity to amend what I said, if I gave the impression that the medical services as a whole were poor. I was referring in particular to some parts of the Colonies, especially to some parts of Tanganyika. I did not mean to refer to all our Colonial Territories, but I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that in some of them the medical services leave a great deal to be desired.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I am glad to hear that, because I was a little disturbed when I heard the hon. Gentleman speaking on the subject originally and I know it is not true from our own experience. This White Paper proves what is being done in eradicating malaria and many other diseases.
Apart from that, I would not disagree with anything the hon. Member said about the need for improved technical and agricultural education, and about giving what he described as the submerged black proletariat a chance to go ahead and become expert technicians so as to carry on agricultural and other kinds of development in these territories. He described the small farmers in Tanganyika and the need for expansion. I have noted what he said and we shall pass it on to the proper quarter in Tanganyika.
The emphasis in the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) was also on education. I do not think I can go into the particular suggestion which she mentioned—that £6 million should be spent on women's education in Kenya. During the height of the emergency certain things needed 1640 to be done and in addition money was required for agricultural purposes. It was not felt that a very high proportion of the money then available for Kenya could be given for education. But the Government of Kenya have got very much in mind the need for, and improvement of, education in the Colony.
As regards Nyasaland, over the past 10 years expenditure on education has seriously lagged behind. Those of us who have been to Nyasaland can testify to that. One of the great and encouraging things which has come from what I prefer to call the Rhodesian Federation, rather than the Central African Federation, is the enormous increase in the revenues of Nyasaland and the prospect of spending far more on education—which is already being done. We can look forward to a spurt in education in Nyasaland in the near future.
I think I have dealt with most of the points raised by hon. Members and I would only return to what I said at the beginning, that I believe the right hon. Gentleman will be defeating the cause which he has so much at heart if he presses his Amendment to a Division, because I believe it would have a contrary effect to that which he intends.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
I apologise for the fact that I was not in the Committee when the Amendment was moved, but I felt that I wanted to say a few words on it because it is an Amendment which is concentrating on money for the social services. I have no knowledge of the British Commonwealth and its Colonies with the exception of British West Indies, but I feel it would be a desirable thing if we earmarked money for the specific purpose of the social services.
I sympathise to a large degree with my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) in his statement about the improvement which has taken place in these matters during the past 10 years. He has more knowledge than I have of what the situation was 10 years ago, but I am still concerned lest his reference to an improvement should make us complacent about the circumstances.
§ Mr. Royle
My own knowledge and experience of the British West Indies teach me that there is an awful lot still to be 1641 done. The Minister of State has just referred to British Honduras where I had the opportunity of spending a few days. I am concerned that the sewage scheme is to be postponed. The vulture which they call Jim Crow is at present a protected bird because it is the only means of clearing away the refuse from the streets of Belize. It is appalling that a city has to depend on vultures to clear it of its refuse. It is very necessary that the sewerage scheme should be proceeded with at the earliest moment. In view of the terrible circumstances which prevail, my only surprise is that there is so little disease in that Colony.
Those of us who have visited Belize know the hospital. It is terribly grim. When I was there a Polish doctor was fighting very hard to provide services in what was, in effect, the only real hospital—and real is a poor word; perhaps I should say the only hospital in the whole Colony. The conditions in that wooden building were beyond description. In Antigua, in the glorious Leeward Islands, there was a similar hospital where a tremendous fight was being won by doctors and English nurses.
A more important Colony in that part of the world is, perhaps, Jamaica. I hope that Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret will see some of the things that I saw there. It might do a world of good if she did. There is the shanty town on the Spanish Town road; those thousands of twin dwellings with very little provision of water supply or sanitary conditions. Thousands of Jamaicans are compelled to live there. I was shocked to read in the Press the other day that the frontages were being painted in various colours lest Her Royal Highness should see those shanties in their very worst condition. I am told that, in a recent tuberculosis test carried out amongst the population of Jamaica, 37 per cent. of the many thousands who were tested returned a positive result.
We need to concentrate very large sums on social services. Reference has been made, for instance, to education in British Honduras. Good as it is, I am a little concerned about the secondary education provided there by United States Jesuit priests. I was very interested to hear them teaching history in that college. To boys in a British Colonial school they were teaching not British but American 1642 history. I agree that we should know a lot about American history, but if there is to be a complete concentration on American history to the detriment of knowledge of this country, we cannot expect those boys to grow up with any high regard for Britain which is, in the main, responsible for them.
I listened with deep interest to the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) when he advocated concentration on farm education. I sympathise with him very much. At the same time, I think that the Colonial Development Corporation in its schemes throughout the Colonies might help farm education to a very great degree. That, to some extent would liberate money which could be concentrated more on the social services, so that some of the dreadful conditions in the Colonies might be alleviated. I have intervened in this debate because I fear anything like complacency with regard to our Colonies.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
In view of the Minister's patently sincere remarks about education, perhaps the Under-Secretary of State, in the Minister's absence, will forgive me if I turn more particularly in this matter to Central and East Africa. It is more important that we should spend money there than in any other Colony on building up secondary education. It is there that we have begun—or shall begin—the multi-racial university college at Salisbury, but at the beginning and for many years the pattern of students, European and African, in the university college will not be a correct reflection of the pattern of population inside this new Federation.
The Minister has just spoken in quite glowing terms about the amount of money to be spent in Nyasaland, consequent on the economic benefits of the integration of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland.
§ Sir L. Plummer
May I draw your attention, Sir Charles, to the fact that, in an important debate, there is only one hon. Member sitting on the benches opposite?
§ Mr. Johnson
The Minister spoke in enthusiastic terms about the benefits, particularly educational, consequent on the integration of Nyasaland and the two Rhodesias. I estimate that, at the beginning, in the new university college, the proportion of students will be no more than one African to four Europeans, consequent, of course, upon the number of school leavers from the sixth forms of secondary schools. If we mean what we say about partnership and working out our way together in this new Federation, I hope that we shall spend money and really do something about Nyasaland and the Rhodesias in this respect.
I can fully bear out what my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said about higher education in Nyasaland. At the moment there is only one young man in the United Kingdom on a British Council scholarship, and, as the hon. Lady so rightly said, only two young ladies are here, taking domestic science at Bath. This is not good enough. We must build up secondary education in order to lift the students to the higher stages at university college.
A word about Mauritius. On Wednesday last, in the Second Reading debate, the Minister—and of course he is obviously sincere in everything he says; I do not disbelieve that for a moment—said that we needed more schools, more teachers and hospitals and so on. Then he said:… a too-rapid advance, especially in fields where the Government can expect no corresponding financial return, could easily lead to bankruptcy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1955; Vol. 536, c. 1217.]Would it bankrupt Mauritius if we built one teacher training college there, or spent a few thousand pounds more on the school population? Surely if the money is United Kingdom taxpayers' money, that will not bankrupt the Colony. I cannot see the strength of that argument.
Instead of spending more and expanding education in Mauritius, we have cut the school-leaving age from 14 to 11 years. We are not now taking in youngsters under five years. It is a six-year course for children from five to 11 years of age. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) spoke a moment ago of a teaching school in Belize, British Honduras, where, instead of British or West Indian history, the students were being taught American 1644 history. In Mauritius, I have just been informed, the teaching of English in the first year has now been stopped, and French is taught instead. I should have thought it vital that anyone beginning school life in a British Colony should be taught the British language.
These facts stick out a mile to hon. Members on this side of the Committee when the Minister speaks complacently about the expenditure of more money on advances in this sector of education and that; and then speaks of the danger of bankrupting the Colony, if more of the U.K. taxpayers' money is spent on the social services there. I wish to emphasise the vital need for secondary education, particularly in Central Africa; so that the coloured inhabitants can be equipped for university education, and take their place beside their white cousins in these multi-racial Dominions that are now beginning to emerge.
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
I have not a word to say against our colonial system. I have nothing but praise to utter for it because I happen to have been in a Negro territory which was never a Colony. In December and January I visited nearly all our own Colonies in West Africa, and the French possessions there, including the Sahara and Liberia.
§ Mr. Follick
Liberia has never been a Colony. It was founded as a Negro republic. Whenever I hear anything about the white exploitation of the Negro, I advise people to go to a territory where there has been no white exploitation, and where they will find that the Negro exploits the Negro far worse than ever the white coloniser did, and without giving anything in return.
§ Mr. Follick
We may have exploited territories, but we do put something back in return for what we take out.
In Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, there is no street. There is a little bit of asphalt road, about three miles long, which the American Firestone Company put there, leading to the port. There was no bank in Liberia until the Firestone Company needed one for its staff, and that company opened the Bank of 1645 Monrovia. We hear complaints of education in our Colonies, but there is no education worth mentioning in Liberia. I know that I am being very severe, but I spent some time in Liberia, and I have the right to make these comparisons.
When one leaves those miserable people and goes to the Gold Coast and sees that happy race of people there, one is able to say that whatever Britain took out she put back. On the Gold Coast are the finest university buildings I have ever seen in my life—and I have seen a good many university buildings. The people there are proud of that university. They say, "We have paid for this ourselves, and only the best was good enough for us." They have the best talent that Britain can supply to help them to build up this fine university. They were telling me there, "We bring the boys from the villages to this university, and when they go back to the villages they will never be satisfied again to have the villages as they were." That is the purpose of the university, to improve those parts of the territory which need improving.
I have been in a great number of our Colonies, including British Honduras, and I have written books about them. Some of my books are in the Library here.
§ Mr. Follick
Sometimes my colleagues here read my books and talk to me about them, but they do not seem to buy them.
We have nothing to be ashamed of in our colonial system. Anyone going to East Africa and seeing that lovely city of Nairobi appreciates what Britain has done for East Africa. East Africa has only been a Colony for about 50 years. It started with the Uganda Railway. In Nigeria there is the largest African city, with its new university: Ibadan. People are proud to be British there, and it is evident when talking to them that they are certainly not ashamed of being British.
I had talks with high Ministers on the Gold Coast, and I asked them, "What is it you do not like?" They said, "There is nothing we do not like, but we would like independence." I said, "What sort of independence do you want—to go back 1646 to what Liberia is, or to go forward on the way that we have set for you?" The Ministers said, "We shall require British help for a long time, but when we are independent we shall have from Britain the help that we require and we shall not have that help imposed upon us."
There is no feeling of animosity towards Britain in those Colonies. One cannot talk about the Colonies as though they are all our enemies. They are not—neither Nigeria, the Gold Coast nor any part of West Africa. It is true that we get such ritual proceedings as Mau Mau and the same sort of thing in Basutoland, but we have to cope with that. We have to educate these people. We have to show them what Britain has done for the world. It would have been far better if America, instead of dumping these shiploads of released Negro slaves in Africa—
§ Mr. Follick
I am trying to show how the amount of money we have spent in those Colonies has brought them—
§ Mr. Follick
It is the social services of which we are proud in those countries—social services for which we have paid, many of them from our own taxation in this country. I should therefore like to add, in conclusion, with your permission, Sir Rhys, that he who decries the British colonial system does not know what he is talking about, and probably has never been to the Colonies.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Marquand
The Minister of State has no doubt gone to seek some well-deserved refreshment. He has been extremely patient today. I also thank him for the reply he gave to the short debate on the Amendment I moved. His reply considerably modified—and I was glad to note it—his earlier argument that expenditure on colonial development and welfare was restricted only by the needs and the resources. The whole of his reply showed that there were points at which expenditure was restricted by monetary considerations.
1647 He is on sound ground, however, in saying that my suggestion for a £12 million maximum per annum would defeat its own purpose towards the end of the period. Incidentally, that argument probably applies also to the £30 million mentioned in paragraph (b). We will let that pass.
Before I say the words which obviously are expected of me, I want to refer to one or two comments made about education in British Honduras. It is very easy, when we speak here, to create some misunderstandings which do a great deal of harm in Colonial Territories and cause a great deal of heart-burning and injuries. Having been to British Honduras since my hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Royle), I can tell him that things have undoubtedly changed a great deal since he was there. If he visited St. John's College today I do not think he would have cause to make the criticisms which he made this afternoon. My remarks about the money were intended to indicate that in my opinion we should spend more of our own money, as well as have the Americans spend their money, but the particular criticism which my hon. Friend made is no longer applicable, and I am sure my hon. Friend is glad to hear it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Colonel O. E. Crosthwaite-Eyre (New Forest)
During the debate there have been many remarks from both sides of the Committee on the principles of economic aid which hon. Members wish to see extended to the Colonies. The one thing which I believe is clear is that hon. Members in all quarters realise that it is not possible to provide a complete answer by any one single Act.
Many references have been made, for instance, to what may be achieved by the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts, the Colonial Development Corporation, and such other sources as private industry or private enterprise. But the one point which emerges from the debate 1648 is that although by way of the colonial development and welfare funds we may provide a basis on which the Colonies may hope to produce a future themselves, it is useless—and this was brought out in the speeches by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and others—to believe that by voting these sums of money we shall introduce a sense of security to the Colonies concerned. We can only provide the means.
Having listened to the Second Reading debate and to most of the arguments advanced this afternoon, I regret that it was felt that the limited sums of money which we are voting this afternoon can be the only means to a permanent end. I am certain the Committee will realise that that is not so. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies referred to this Measure as being a means of "priming the pump." I should like to view it as a basis on which both sides can agree. Let us remember that the end to which we are agreeing is something which is not covered by the Bill; therefore I am not going further into that matter.
There is one great point in this Bill with which I think we should deal. That is the necessity to see that the Colonies themselves use the balances at their disposal for their own use. We have heard particularly this afternoon many remarks about rich Colonies and poor Colonies. We have heard people talking glibly about West Africa and of glowing opportunities, and we have heard remarks about other less fortunate Colonies, particularly Somaliland. What is really the point is that we should see that the wealth now in our Colonies should be used to the best advantage to help the ends to which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have set their minds.
Before dealing with any figures, I would remind the Committee that it is only a short time ago—in 1949—that the sums available for this purpose totalled only £670 million. By 1952, they had risen to £1,222 million and today they are £1,400 million. If we examine that sum we are told that the reserves due to colonial banks and marketing boards total £440 million. If we take the sums which my right hon. Friend said were sums the Government needed, in addition to keep for their own particular purposes—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The speech of the hon. and gallant Member appears now to be a Second Reading speech. The debate is limited to what is actually in the Clause itself.
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre
I had hoped it was in order—if not I hope I shall be corrected—to say what were the sums available under this Clause and how they should be distributed.
The whole purpose of my argument was to say that the sums available under this Clause should be distributed to those Colonies which could not undertake expenditure out of the figures which I have mentioned to this House. I must apologise, but I thought it necessary to state those sums in order to develop my argument. If I may put it in the shortest form, there is £650 million available outside the provisions of this Clause. I want to see that the money now provided by this Clause is properly applied to those Colonies which cannot, out of their own resources, afford the necessary amount. That is the whole purpose of my argument.
We have, for instance, Colonies which are subject to currency boards. At the moment they have to provide 100 per cent. cover against whatever local note issue they may make. I think that is unnecessary. I think that this is not only necessary but quite apart from any known economic theory. So far as I know, it has never been the rule for any currency, except in this instance, to require 100 per cent. cover. Even in the days, we may remember, when we were on the gold standard it was never necessary for any central bank to keep more than 40 per cent., or, in some cases, 22 per cent. or 23 per cent., of coverage against their issue. Why should it be necessary for these Colonies which we are discussing now to keep 100 per cent. coverage?
My right hon. Friend, no doubt, will reply that he has made provision by saying that 20 to 30 per cent., as I understand the figures, may now be covered by investment in local issues. But even so, those local issues have in turn to be sponsored by the Crown Agents for the Colonies and supported through the Government market in London, which produces no relaxation of this amount of 1650 credit which, I feel, should be available to the Colony concerned.
Table I in the White Paper sets out the figures in respect of grants to the various Colonies under the Bill. I find it difficult to believe that the sums that have been already authorised and are to be authorised under the Bill are really in accordance with the needs of the Colony concerned. We are told by my right hon. Friend that there is the residue from the marketing boards amounting to £140 million, and that there are other reserves.
Looking at Table I, I suggest that far too little has been given to the poor Colonies and far too much to the rich Colonies. A great case can be made that the sum mentioned in Clause I should be devoted in its entirety to those Colonies that are not supported either by the reserves of a marketing board or by the other reserves which are included in the £550 million which my right hon. Friend mentioned on Second Reading.
We are considering how best to spend this limited sum of money which will total, over five years, £120 million. It is equally clear from the figures that a sum of £650 million is available from the Colonies themselves. Let us see that the money which we are voting will be made available to those Colonies which need it most.
My right hon. Friend has referred to the Somaliland Protectorate. We see from Table I that that is one of the few Colonies in which nothing has been provided from local sources or from Colonial Development and Welfare funds. That is a pattern to follow, because the money which it is proposed to spend can only provide a background for future economic development. It is no good pretending that anything more can be done. Education, technical opportunities, and the rest are all very well and good if there is the economic background to support our proposals. We can build schools, hospitals, railways, roads, and anything else, but without an economic background they mean nothing.
I am again very worried when I see from Table I that in Dominica, for instance, just under £1 million has been spent and we have nothing to show for it. Only a one-phase industry of lime oil was produced, and it failed. It is no use spending money in a Colony—from whatever source that money comes—if the 1651 results of the expenditure do not fructify and make a proper and balanced economy for the Colony concerned.
Therefore, I hope that I am in order in saying that when we spend money under this Bill we should be certain that the money spent is really going to add to the wealth and welfare of the Colony concerned. Let us not spend too much time in talking about social advancement without being certain that the economic advancement which should lie behind that social advancement is there.
Before we approve of the Clause, we should have certain assurances from the Minister. The first is that any plans which are designed to promote social welfare are correlated and integrated with the C.D.C. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not take it amiss when I admit that I was rather unhappy when he said in his Second Reading speech that he was aware of the need for the C.D.C. and the C.D. and W.F. authorities to confer. That is not what I want. I desire that the bodies concerned shall not only be aware of what they are doing but that their plans, for hospitals, hostels, or anything else, shall be integrated to provide for a real, live community.
We should get rid of the outworn idea that the sterling balances which are held by these Colonies should be so held because of some outmoded desire by the Treasury to have a standard which bears no relation to the facts. I have mentioned the gold standard. I would only mention that in the old days these local currencies were designed to meet the immediate trading interest of a Colony which had a major port, and where the only real trade was between the merchants of the port and external traders. There was no use of the currency inland among the natives and inhabitants generally. All that has gone and the currency is now as much a valued unit of money as our own banknotes.
Why should we now demand the holding of these reserves when the Colonies could use them? These reserves were built up not only from the Colonies' own natural wealth but out of marketing boards and the like. Why should not this money be used to give greater credit and a greater opportunity to develop to 1652 these Colonies? I am certain that we in this Committee are only too anxious to help develop the Colonies, but I am sure that there is no hon. Member on either side of the Committee who would not agree that the first job is to enable the Colonies to help themselves. We can do that by releasing these reserves and making it possible for the Colonies to use them to their own advantage.
Let us see that the money which we are voting tonight is used in those Colonies which most need it. Let us see that the reserves which the Colonies have accumulated are used for their own benefit. Above all, let us see that whatever money is spent is spent in accord with other organisations—the C.D.C.—towards a complete, unified, social structure which will in permanence benefit the Colonies concerned, and not, alas, as was often the case in the past, merely produce a one-sided economy which fails and then adds to the future problem.
§ Sir L. Plummer
The hon. and gallant Member for New Forest (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre) properly said that we do not contribute to the security of any Colonial Territories simply by voting sums of money here, and he has the agreement of all hon. Members on this side of the Committee in that remark. As to his argument about the use of the reserves of Colonies, I think it is best to leave it to the right hon. Gentleman to reply, and I have no doubt that the Minister will deal with the economy of the Colonies with his usual lucidity and knowledge. I am glad that I do not have to debate that issue with the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
One hon. Member argued earlier that one of the inhibiting factors in colonial development was the obtaining of the necessary experts to carry out the work that has to be done. Owing to the fact that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said, the Money Resolution was drawn rather narrowly, I was unable to move an Amendment about the sum of money which should be spent on research. I know that I should be out of order if I discussed the matter in great detail now, but on this occasion I wish to say that I consider it to be the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to ensure that the Government emphasise to the Colonial Governments the importance of research.
1653 I believe—I have said it previously—that research must precede schemes of development, and local services must also precede such schemes. I believe that we do not begin to understand the problems that face us in our Colonies until we have undertaken the geophysical surveys which are vitally necessary if we are to launch future schemes with chances of success. We know too little about the rainfall in our Colonies, and far too little about the soil. We know almost nothing about the insect and parasites and crop diseases in some parts of the Colonies.
The people who know these things are not, I regret to say, in sufficient supply, and adequate steps to train them are not being taken. Training does not start simply by putting an advertisement in "The Times" to say that a scientific worker or a technologist of one sort or another is required.
§ Sir L. Plummer
What I am trying to do is to say that the amount of money provided for in the Clause—£3 million to be expended in any one year in promoting research or inquiry—should, when the Bill becomes an Act, be supplemented by a general overall instruction from the Government to the Colonial Governments indicating the way in which part, at least, of the sum should be spent in research.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Might I direct your attention, Sir Rhys, to Clause 1 (1, c), which contains a provision for money to be made available:… for the purposes of schemes for promoting research or enquiry …I should have thought that, in developing the paramount need for research, my hon. Friend was speaking within the terms of the Question.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
That is not so. The Clause provides a sum of money for research, but a detailed discussion about the scheme of research cannot take place on the Clause.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Very well, Sir Rhys. Then I submit to the Government that they may yet require to have second thoughts as to whether £3 million a year for the next three years will be sufficient to supply the necessary amount of research and inquiry to be undertaken if the rest of the money provided by the Bill is profitably to be spent on the enterprises for which it is designed. It may not be too late, in another place for example, for the. Government to alter this figure. I must come to the point I was trying to make, which is that if this £3 million is to be properly spent, people must be trained to do the work and the Government should start training immediately. In fact, there has been a fair lag in time.
If I am dealing in a general form with the point of research in this country, let me put the quandary in which the Government and indeed any Government will find themselves in trying to spend this £3 million on research. If students of newspapers read "The Times" this morning, they will have found that the public appointments column was full of advertisements calling for scientists, research workers, technologists and technicians to be employed in the Government service abroad, in the Government service at home, in private enterprise abroad, and in private enterprise at home.
Each Department of Government is competing to find these necessary men. In so doing the Government are spending some of this money, this £2½ million or £3 million, in a fairly vain effort to get the men to do the work for which the sums are being made. This is a vitiation of the resources.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I am coming to that point, and I am glad my hon. Friend is paying such close attention.
During the war there was a central scientific committee—I think that was what it was called—which was a committee of the Ministry of Labour and which was presided over by Lord Hankey. He had to make a survey of the scientists and technologists and those coming out of schools and universities. A register was 1655 kept in London of those available and a proper summary kept of how their successors were being trained.
It would be a very good thing if the Colonial Office, in considering how to spend this £3 million on research, consulted those who had experience of this central scientific registry during the war to see if it is not possible to revive it and if it is still in existence to give it the necessary funds and staff. The picture so far as the Colonies are concerned could then be studied from a global point of view and the competition now going on between private enterprise and Government Departments for scientists and technologists would cease.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for New Forest (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre) raised an intricate question affecting the sterling assets which is of the greatest importance. I shall ask the Committee to bear with me while I deal with it in some detail. I could not quite follow the figure of £650 million, the figure to which he referred as being that from which we would be able to draw for investments in various forms of activity.
The Colonial reserves and assets of all kinds now amount to nearly £1,400 million, but of course for various reasons that is not by any means available for expenditure. Over £300 million consists of London reserves of the commercial banks which, of course, are liable to be drawn on at any time.
Then, there are the sterling holdings of the colonial currency authorities, which amount to £380 million. This is the external backing for colonial currencies, and it ensures their automatic convertibility into sterling. As my hon. Friend said, they are at present backed 100 per cent. by sterling, but, in December, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations informed the House that the Secretary of State had agreed in principle that, subject to a review of individual circumstances in each territory, a part—it will only be a small part—of this backing could be used to take up locally issued securities. They would be locally issued securities, and not securities issued in London, as my hon. and gallant Friend seemed to suggest.
1656 I do not think anyone in this House would suggest that we should do something which would in any way throw doubt on the automatic obligation of colonial currency authorities to exchange local currencies into sterling. Any level of fiduciary issue which caused a loss of confidence in colonial currencies would immediately discourage investment and slow down the rate of colonial development.
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre
May I ask my right hon. Friend two questions? When he talks about local issues, are they not placed through the Crown Agents? Secondly, suppose he were to reduce the backing to 50 per cent. of any local currency issue, does he think there would be any effect on the stability of that issue?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
As I understand the point—which was raised unexpectedly, as far as I am concerned—these issues are local issues, not placed through the Crown Agents. As regards the amount of currency for which it is necessary to maintain sterling backing, I do not think any figure has been given at all so far, and the figures which my hon. and gallant Friend mentioned are purely guesswork, as far as I know. In any case, I am certain that, from the point of view of preserving confidence in the Colonial Territories' currencies, it is essential that a very large part of the currencies should be covered by the backing of sterling assets.
My hon. and gallant Friend referred to marketing boards. There are about £140 million of sterling assets in the reserves of the marketing boards, various price assistance funds and so on. The main purpose of these funds, as hon. Members are aware, is to provide a cushion for primary producers against severe and sudden changes in price. A fair amount of their assets must be held in liquid form to enable them to meet claims which may be made upon them. Only a part of them can be made available for long-term development, but this is being done, both in the Gold Coast, and now, I understand, in Nigeria, where the Governments are intending to borrow from the marketing boards for financing their development programme.
The remaining Colonial reserves and assets amount to £550 million, including £240 million in special funds, such as 1657 sinking funds, and savings banks, pensions and renewal funds. Some of these can be, and are, used for financing these developments, but the amount must depend on the nature of the fund and the purpose for which it was established. I think all the Colonial Governments are now aware of the need to invest as much as they can—or as much as they prudently can—of these funds locally, because they must always be ready to meet any possible claims against them.
Finally, there are the general uncommitted reserves of some £300 million of the Colonial Governments, such as general revenue balances, development funds, and so on. These have to be held against fluctuations in prosperity. This question, which has been raised by my hon. and gallant Friend, has been mentioned in some of the financial papers. It has been gone into carefully by my Department, and I feel satisfied myself—and should like to assure my hon. and gallant Friend that it is so—that from inquiries we have made, subject to minor fluctuations and changes, the maximum possible of the money available is being used for development purposes.
§ Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre
On the question of the funds which my right hon. Friend has just referred to, I think he will find that they are invested in medium and long-term securities, of which the redemption is from one to 20 years. If there were an immediate fear of convertibility, or that any local currency might have to be converted to sterling, why is it that currency authority boards have on the whole invested the bulk of their funds in medium and long-term securities?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I have no information on that subject before me, but my impression is that my hon. and gallant Friend is wrong, that these sums are invested in short- and medium-term securities. However, I should prefer to look into the matter, and I will write to him about it if it turns out that I am wrong on that point.
The hon. Member for Deptford referred to the question of research, on which he placed great emphasis, and its great importance, to which he very rightly drew attention. A great deal is already being done in the matter of research, and I think that the White Pa per shows how much has been accomplished in 1658 quite a short time. At the moment, the amount is running at something over £1¼ million a year, and the suggestion is that the ceiling should now be raised to £3 million a year.
As we see it, the amount which we can spend on research will have to be stepped up gradually, in line with the whole of the stepping-up of development under these programmes. According to my information, it would be very difficult to step it up in such a way as to use as much as, say, £4 million a year in the next five years. As in all these matters, it is bound to a great extent to be a question of guesswork.
We have arrived at the best figure that we can get. There is no reason to say £3 million, £4 million or £5 million should be spent on research if we do not think such a figure would be practicable. Having gone into it as carefully as we can, £3 million a year is the sum which we estimate to be right. For that reason, I would assure the hon. Gentleman that we hope that this amount will, in fact, be sufficient in order to attain the object which he has in mind.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Will the Minister pay some attention to the necessity of im7 pressing upon all the available young men and women who in these days and in increasing numbers are undertaking new courses at universities and colleges the paramount importance, in their desire to serve their country, of undertaking the training which is necessary in order to turn them into research workers of all kinds, particularly in the field of agriculture? I think that the best way of doing that would be to ensure that the bigger proportion of those given opportunities for higher education were trained for this work. I have the impression that very often research is held up owing to the shortage of the middle group from the secondary schools.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I regret that, important as those matters may be, they do not arise under this Clause.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his suggestion, which I will certainly bear in mind.
One further suggestion came from the hon. Member for Deptford which was that there should be a central scientific register. There, again, I shall certainly 1659 look into the suggestion in order to see if it is something which we can profitably use or develop. I think that I have dealt with all the points raised in this part of the debate, and I hope that the Clause may now be passed by the Committee.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.