§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I think the House will agree that it is right and proper that at the very beginning of a new Parliament the House should consider its responsibilities to the overseas territories under its supervision and that the Government should tell us what policy they intend to pursue in promoting the welfare of the colonial peoples.
We have considered the Queen's most Gracious Speech, but apart from the reference to the promotion ofpeace, security and prosperity of South-East Asialittle is said about the territories for which this House is directly responsible. It is said only that the Government will encourage economic development in the Commonwealth and Empire—I regret the official use again of that term, "Empire" —that support will be given to the Colombo Plan, and that the Government hope for further progress in establishing the British Caribbean Federation.
It is a commonplace that we are living in a rapidly changing world. There is in many of the underdeveloped territories a great clash of interests; much economic growth is actually going on; there is an upsurge of nationalism; and, therefore, many of our territories are a little troubled. It is important that we should know what are the principles underlying Government policy, what principles will apply to the administration of our Colonies in the course of this Parliament.
We have just received a very comprehensive Report on the Colonial Territories. It is an impressive document. Few of us have yet had the opportunity of studying its contents. Undoubtedly, our debate today will range rather widely. At its outset I should like to say that it is not our intention to introduce into it reference to the recent Report of the Royal Commission on East Africa. It is a very controversial and disturbing document, with remedies offered and a philosophy with which many of us may find ourselves in disagreement. However, 1153 I think we shall have, a little later, an opportunity of discussing this Report, and, therefore, until hon. Members have had the opportunity of digesting its contents, perhaps it will be better for us not to bring it into this debate.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
My right hon. Friend has suggested that we shall have an opportunity a little later of discussing the Report of the Royal Commission. Would it be possible to say now when that debate will take place?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Negotiations will go on through the usual channels, but I do not imagine that that debate can take place until quite a number of weeks have passed.
There is a second problem to which reference must be made but which, while it is not exactly our desire, it is undesirable we should discuss today. That is the problem relating to the Kabaka and the constitutional development of Uganda. One hopes that in this matter the Secretary of State will approach the difficulties with full sympathy. Certainly, many of us on this side of the House would like to see, and I would hope for, a very early return to his country of the Kabaka. But it is not our purpose to discuss this matter today.
I want, first, to turn to those territories which have been causing us some anxiety over the past year or so, and I would refer, first, to British Guiana so that the Secretary of State may tell us what exactly is happening there in regard to the Constitution. The Constitution is still suspended. There has been created an Opposition to the Government who formerly were in power. New economic proposals have been worked out in the interim and a number of inquiries have been instituted from this country into British Guiana affairs, but it would seem that we are marking time in that territory, and it is not likely, I gather, that we shall have the opportunity of considering whether a new Legislative Council should be established until about the beginning of 1958. What I would ask the Secretary of State is, what changes in the Constitution he has under contemplation, and how soon it is likely that the amended Constitution will be restored to British Guiana.
The second territory which has been a great source of trouble over a number 1154 of years is the Federation of Malaya. Security measures have brought a greater degree of security in that territory, but fierce fighting continues in it. Meantime, the Government have unfolded a programme of social and economic development, and the new Constitution is likely to be brought into operation at once and elections are to take place next month. One would like to know how much longer it is anticipated that this struggle in Malaya will continue, and whether all is now set for the establishment of a semi-democratic Constitution and its operation in the months immediately ahead.
I now turn to Kenya, which has been terribly troubled by the Mau Mau insurrection, and I should like to know, now that the surrender period is coming to an end, what the situation there really is in the eyes of the Government. How far is the multi-racial Council of Ministers succeeding? Of course, I regret that there is only one African in that Council of Ministers. One would like to know what is the progress made in the suppression of Mau Mau and whether the new constitutional arrangements are beginning to yield fruit.
I should like to express my own personal concern with the difficulties which are being experienced following the capture of terrorists during the last few years. It would appear that there are still many thousands of Africans in detention. Screening appears to be very slow. The exodus to new villages, of new entrants to rehabilitation, appears to be altogether slow. The methods which have been employed have been the occasion of some strictures in the courts—the methods and the unlawful practices. Indeed, one distinguished lawyer pointed out that in some respects the procedures were the very negation of the rule of law.
I would also ask the Secretary of State whether he considers that the time has not come when there should be a revision of the very severe penalties which are imposed on certain classes of people in connection with this trouble. It is difficult for us to defend any longer the range of executions of men who have been caught with arms and ammunition, and of men who have been charged with consorting with terrorists. It is very difficult, I say, to continue to justify such a wide range of capital penalties for 1155 crimes the commission of which sometimes cannot be properly proved by adequate evidence.
Now, after hundreds of these men have been executed for being in possession of arms and ammunition and hundreds for consorting with terrorists, it seems that it is carrying this doctrine of capital punishment to an extreme and that it is an administration which, at this time of day, ought to be abandoned. I ask the Secretary of State to give his most serious consideration to this matter.
I turn now to the subject of Somaliland. Here, again, we have as a nation condoned the transfer of what was protected territory into the control of another nation, Ethiopia, and apparently, as a result of this, there has been trouble in Somaliland and feeling has been running high. Consequently, the moderate element in Somaliland have not only sent a deputation to this country urging that something should be done about what they regard as a betrayal of their own integrity and their own rights, but also that the matter should be taken to the United Nations and from there to the International Court of Justice. I urge the Secretary of State, because of the difficulty of this issue, that he should not oppose this matter when it goes to the United Nations and that at least he will condone the transfer of this case to the study of the International Court.
I want to refer to some constitutional and political problems which have cropped up during the past year, some of them even as late as the last few days. As I said earlier, we are living in a world of very considerable political change. There is the rapid growth of the nationalist spirit in many underdeveloped territories and, consequently, the old imperialism no longer satisfies the situation and there is a steady undermining of the old colonialism. Moreover, these developments in our territories are buttressed by a great deal of international action. Every time an international body meets, some reference is made to the perpetuation by this country of what they term "colonialism."
A great deal of the criticism may be profoundly ignorant, but the fact is that colonialism is obsolete today as a driving force and the sooner we can throw this colonialism overboard the better for 1156 us. I think that it is the agreed policy of the people in this country to desire that our territories should pass as quickly as possible to self-government and independence. Therefore, we have to keep economic and social progress in line with political advance and to create the conditions for people to assimilate and work the political concessions made to them; and although some people here may regard these concessions as premature, the Government feel that they cannot withhold them.
What has been happening in the Gold Coast? We were hoping that that territory would move to complete self-government next year, and we had every hope that the Constitution which had been applied to that territory would produce a very happy and co-operative people, but at the moment there is dissension. Ashanti is not happy about her intended self-government. It would like to have more power devolved into the territory and see the form of the Gold Coast Constitution made more federal in character. I should like to know what line the Government are taking on this rather serious issue, which has already produced bloodshed and a great deal of agitation and feeling in the Gold Coast.
Several days ago the Secretary of State made an announcement about constitutional changes in Nyasaland. He is against the principle of parity on the unofficial side of the Legislative Council. Although he recognises that the non-African population is very small indeed and the African population is overwhelming, nevertheless he fears that the concession for which the Africans ask of parity as between Africans and non-Africans in the numbers of representatives in the Legislative Council is likely to encourage racialism in Nyasaland.
The reverse is likely to be the case. If racialism is likely to be encouraged, it is by giving unfair treatment to a people who are fairly intelligent. They are not so hopelessly backward as is sometimes supposed. In any case, experience in government by them would be of immense value, quite apart from its very considerable significance to the African people. It would be of value to them in the matter of status.
I have always taken the view that when Constitutions are amended, it is absurd for us to say that Africans ought not to 1157 serve on representative bodies because it is alleged that they are ignorant and cannot rise to the responsibility of the work which a legislative council has to do. I have always contended that the fact of representation is of vital importance to the majority of the population in these Colonial Territories, that it is of immense value in training and, further, that it permits of a status which when denied is apt to give rise to a great deal of trouble. I therefore regret that in the present arrangements the conception of parity has not been conceded and, further, that no African is invited to join the Governor's Executive. That is a pity.
The Secretary of State has told us that he is proposing before long to visit Nyasaland and discuss the constitutional problems with representatives of the people there. I would hope that consideration might be given to some such procedure as was initiated in the case of Uganda where Professor Hancock was invited to meet the Baganda and discuss constitutional problems. Then a report was brought forward which was the subject of a great deal of discussion and examination. It may be that some special difficulties in connection with representation—and I do not mean necessarily the representation of the races—in Nyasaland could be overcome in that way.
I rather regret, for a similar reason, that the same difficulties are apparent in the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia. Here, again, African representation seems to me altogether inadequate. After all, the territory is primarily concerned with African interests and problems, native rights and native developments. The big problems of major function have been transferred to the central Government of the Federation; therefore, it seems to me most desirable in the case of Northern Rhodesia that the Africans should have a bigger share in determining their own affairs and a bigger opportunity of knowing what government really means in their own territory.
Another constitutional problem which is much discussed in this country at present relates to Malta. I hope that a successful conclusion to the conference now in progress will be reached, that the Secretary of State will give very sympathetic consideration to the proposals which are being made to him, and that this constant difficulty will be brought to an end and, in 1158 some way, mutual satisfaction secured not only for the people of Malta but also for our own people here.
To turn to Cyprus, we had a debate on this territory at the end of the old Parliament and it seemed to some of us that this problem was becoming more and more acute and that the Government were drifting. There was no possibility of a new Constitution being taken up and it seemed as if terrorism would increase and that our own administrative difficulties would also increase in that island.
It is clear that the situation grows worse and, as far as I can gather, no discussions have yet taken place with representatives of Greece or of Turkey. We are aware that even international bodies and conferences are beginning to take a poor view of the line which this Government are taking. I noticed in "The Times" only yesterday a report of the Congress of International Jurists, at which this issue engendered a tremendous amount of heat. I therefore ask the Government to make a statement about the future of Cyprus. At least we ought to know what are the immediate steps being taken to meet the troublesome situation there.
Before I pass from constitutional points I would again press on the Secretary of State consideration of the creation of an Imperial Colonial Service. We have passed the stage when we can rely on our present arrangements; arrangements which often prejudice the position of a specific Colony because of the limitation of its resources and also sometimes lead to the appointment of not quite the right persons for jobs which command considerable thought and attention in the territory concerned.
The only way out of this difficulty is the creation of a service which can be subsidised by the British Exchequer and which will avoid the rather effete classification of Governors and others into grade 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, it happening that we cannot put a man of grade 5 to take on a grade 1 job or a man of grade 1 to do a job of grade 3 or grade 5. This classification seems to me to be perfectly senseless. What is required is a study of the real problems confronting the territory concerned and the selection of the right person in order that the job shall be done. Therefore I ask that this 1159 matter should now receive the further attention of the Secretary of State.
I want to refer briefly to a few economic and social problems. We recognise that at the end of the previous Parliament we carried a Colonial Development and Welfare Act. Under the new arrangements, programme-making will be for five year periods and it is probable that money will be made available for rather large schemes rather than the piecemeal schemes which have been characteristic of many of the 10-year programmes of the Colonies in days gone by.
However, there are certain Colonies where the allocation of Colonial Development and Welfare money is still comparatively small, Colonies where there are now administrations which are trying to put through a vigorous programme of work and yet are heavily handicapped because of the burden of finance which would fall on them, a burden which they cannot possibly carry. I ask the Secretary of State, where there are Colonial Governments which are seized of the importance of development and are applying themselves energetically to the task, and where the burden of cost is too heavy for the territory to bear, that more money should be made available so that some of their schemes can go forward. I am thinking now particularly of several of the territories in the Caribbean, certainly Jamaica and British Honduras, where many of the big plans cannot go forward because of the pecuniary difficulties of the territories.
I welcome the extraordinary growth in our territories of development corporations. In Uganda, Jamaica, the Gold Coast, and the Cameroons these local development corporations are doing remarkable work in the sphere of economic development. I still feel, however, that so far as the Colonial Development Corporation is concerned there is room for severe criticism because of the change of policy. Its present policy is radically different from the policy which was envisaged when this Corporation came into being and it is becoming much too narrow in its purposes.
The Corporation is forever seeking to escape all risks, and we cannot avoid risks in Colonial Territories. It is much too preoccupied with financing enterprise and it is evading the responsibility of 1160 undertaking enterprise itself or of undertaking it in conjunction with some of the local community interests. I ask the Secretary of State to look again at the terms of reference of the Colonial Development Corporation so that its policy should be pulled more into line with the requirements of the territories today.
There has already been raised this afternoon another matter on the economic side which I feel to be of some importance, that is the steady abandonment by the Government of many of the economic arrangements and controls which secured a guaranteed market and prices to the primary producers overseas. This has occasioned much heartburning, and although the Secretary of State has professed his profound interest in safeguarding the territories, it must be remembered that if we get back to the old conditions of free enterprise which existed in the years between the wars, the repercussions on some of the territories will be severe. For a long time to come they dare not be exposed to the vagaries of the markets. The effect on the farmers and on the producers would be very bad, and, also, the problems confronting the Colonial Governments would be almost incapable of solution.
I would have liked time to discuss other aspects of colonial policy today such as the problem of the low standard of living, the low labour conditions which operate in these territories, the vital importance to agriculture of the extension of co-operation, the fact, too, that this country ought to reconsider the taxation methods employed. I would also have liked to question the justice of the United Kingdom receiving that balance of taxation which is not chargeable in the territory in respect to colonial enterprise.
Likewise, one is a little disturbed at the suggestion that new immigration laws should be brought into force for a number of territories because that might threaten African interests. We should like to press for the extension of public control and ownership of some of the utilities and minerals in the territories and also a greater safeguarding of the land on behalf of the people and the establishment of ordinary leaseholds in the place of freeholds.
There are social problems which ought to receive attention. I am particularly 1161 concerned about university development in West Africa. We have reached the point when some of the universities we have set up in recent years are being endangered because the secondary schools are not producing students in sufficient numbers and of a sufficiently high standard to fill the places in the universities. That is the position in the Gold Coast, and it means that there ought to be much more energetic action in many of our territories about secondary education. I would urge that particular attention should be given to this question if we are to fulfil the objects we had in mind when we established these universities and university colleges.
I wish I had time to say something about the importance of community education and local government and, above all, of social welfare work on behalf of the youth who pass through the schools. It is one of the great problems in our territories that after school age a good deal of the schooling becomes of little avail because there are no opportunities open to youth. There are few opportunities for enjoyment of all those facilities which youth ought to have to retain the disciplines which are essential if they are to enter into the new conditions of the world now that tribal society has disintegrated.
I would conclude by a reference to the Bandung Conference, which took place a few months ago. That conference had a very considerable significance, and at our peril we will ignore it. For the first time the representatives of all the territories which are utterly opposed to imperialism and which were drawn from South-East Asia came together. A great deal of the burden of their discussions and their resolutions concerned imperialism and colonialism. These twin brothers were denounced, and virtually all the representatives expressed their opposition to the intrusion of that old spirit which in the past almost overwhelmed them and controlled the countries to which they belong.
There is a new political awareness in the world, which will not countenance any claim of superiority or the practise of racial discrimination. In our own territories we have a number of very formidable problems which have to be solved at any early date. There is the colour bar in the Copperbelt in Northern 1162 Rhodesia. We have, some way or another, to find a solution to that problem. We practise political discrimination in Central Africa and it is about time that that was brought to an end. We practise land discrimination at the expense of the Africans in East Africa, and this discrimination and these colour bars tarnish our record as an imperial Power. The sooner we get rid of these evils the better for us all.
I have not nearly exhausted the numerous questions I should like to bring to the attention of the Secretary of State, but I reiterate that we are living in a world that has profoundly changed. There are these great political movements which cannot be held in check. We are obliged, therefore, to give all the aid and assistance we possibly can to further development in the under-developed countries and particularly for those people for whom, as a Parliament, we are directly responsible. I therefore hope that we shall hear a report of general progress in our Colonial Territories. I am sure that all of us would wish the Colonial Secretary well in the difficult problems he has in hand and the difficult policies which he has to invoke and impose in the territories in the days ahead.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)
Although we have had many debates on colonial matters in the past two years—I think that Colonial Ministers have taken part in more major debates than those of any other Department—this is the first occasion that we have had a general debate on colonial affairs since 1952 and, therefore, I would hope to deal with some of the points which have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), while my right hon. Friend will be answering others this evening when he winds up the debate.
I propose to devote part of my speech this afternoon to a wider survey of the colonial scene and, in particular, I should like to bring to the attention of the House some of the progress made in the Colonial Territories—in most cases with the warm support and encouragement of my right hon. Friend and his predecessor and their advisers—in the fields of economic development, the social services and research.
1163 As chairman of the Secretary of State's advisory committees or councils on education, labour, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, I have a special interest in these matters. The fact that the Annual Report on the Colonial Territories, which deals in great detail with all these important matters, was presented to Parliament yesterday by my right hon. Friend, provides an additional reason for devoting some of my time to them today. I do not suggest for a moment that what I am going to say is a substitute for the Report which I commend to the House as a most valuable and important document.
I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield who once gave a definition of our aim in the Colonial Territories as follows. He described it thus:To guide the Colonial Territories to responsible self-government within the Commonwealth in conditions that assure the people concerned a fair standard of living and freedom from oppression from any quarter.I believe that that aim represents the views of all sections of the House; and it is as true today as when it was said by the right hon. Gentleman. Certainly, it is the guiding aim of Her Majesty's Government and I submit that it provides the basis for a bipartisan policy in colonial matters which it will be our object and, I hope, that of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to achieve.
Hon. Members will notice that the aim in this statement made by the right hon. Gentleman really comprises three separate objectives; that is to say, we seek to secure not only self-government but also a fair standard of living for the people concerned and freedom from oppression from any quarter. I think we have to bear in mind the threefold nature of this aim, for it is a truism to say that political advancement without an expanding economic and social advance is Dead Sea fruit and that, equally, the purpose of political advancement can be thwarted or distorted by oppression from whatever quarter it may appear.
In the political aspect, public attention tends to concentrate, and I think inevitably, on those questions which hit the headlines from time to time—what I might call the "trouble spots" in the Colonial Empire. Incidentally, I am not ashamed of using the word "Empire," as the right hon. Gentleman seems to be—although I noticed that afterwards he 1164 referred to an Imperial Civil Service. There is no need to look very far to see what are those great difficulties which we face—constitutional crises, insurrection, riots, bloodshed, Communist subversion, strikes, and, of course, natural disasters, too.
We find them, or have found them, in one form or another, in many parts of the Colonial Empire. We have experience of them in the Mediterranean territories, in the Aden Protectorate and British Somaliland, in the three East African territories, in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, in West Africa, in the Far East, in the West Indies and even down in Antarctica. I think one can say that it is only in the Western Pacific territories and some of the smaller island territories that one can contemplate a scene of complete peace and undisturbed progress over recent years.
On many of these issues in the trouble spots, active negotiations or discussions are taking place or will shortly take place. Some of these matters were touched on by the right hon. Gentleman when he opened the debate, and in the case of some of them—and Malta is one to which he referred—I feel sure that the House realises that it is not possible for my right hon. Friend or myself to give any fresh information this afternoon. My right hon. Friend will, however, have something to say about some of the areas—about Kenya, Uganda and the Gold Coast.
I should like to confine myself to saying this: while these trouble spots exist, I believe that it would be quite wrong, in considering them, to ignore the steady progress in constitutional, economic and social matters which is taking place alongside. It is, I think, both remarkable and a matter for satisfaction that in the past year new Constitutions or constitutional reforms have been proposed, or, in many cases, actually introduced, in all four of the West African territories, in all three of the East African territories, in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—although I understand that the form which they have taken there does not satisfy right hon. Gentlemen opposite—in the Federation of Malaya and Singapore, in the Leeward Islands and Windward Islands, in Cyprus—though, here again, other considerations come into the picture which have hitherto prevented progress—and, finally, in the Colony of Aden.
1165 Having regard to the fact that in some of these territories acute emergencies still persist, while in others economic or financial conditions or racial tensions present serious difficulties, I think it is a remarkable achievement and one of which we can be justly proud. If this is modern colonialism, I personally have no hesitation in saying that I am proud of what we are doing in this field.
Of course, it is true to say that any advance towards self-government, with the gradual transfer of power from the United Kingdom to the local authorities, the local Governments, which it implies, is bound to give rise to tension, no matter what the pace may be—and I understand that some hon. Members would prefer to go faster than others of us. While such transfers are taking place and power is shared between the representatives of the United Kingdom and those of the local people, strains and stresses are bound to develop.
That is happening in a number of territories and it calls for great patience, common sense and careful handling, particularly on the part of Governors and members of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service, to whom I wish to pay a great tribute this afternoon. I should also like to pay a tribute to the good sense, loyalty and co-operation of the peoples of the Colonial Territories themselves, for the realisation in most cases by those peoples and their leaders that they cannot hope to attain all their aims overnight—and indeed, that it is not in their real interests to do so—is one of the most remarkable features of present colonial development. I think that not less remarkable is the fact that, having gained power, the leaders have been very quick to realise its implications and responsibilities and have shown considerable courage in insisting on the need for the continued assistance of British officials and technicians for many years to come. The fact that we are today recruiting five times as many recruits to the Oversea Civil Service as we were before the war, though also due to other causes, is ample evidence of this fact.
I should like to pass from the constitutional and political aspects of this Report to the economic and financial side of it, which is to be found in Chapter III. It is evident that economic progress in 1166 the overseas territories is bound to be a long-term and continuing process, requiring very great efforts in many directions. The mobilisation of resources on the one hand, the setting of objectives on the other, the detailed programming of plans for the improvement of the basic facilities which Governments are able to provide, and then, finally, the seizing of opportunities by the local people to develop and to improve their own means of livelihood—all this is part of a process, and the same process requires, particularly in the circumstances of the Colonies, that there should be a positive attitude towards investments from overseas.
I am glad to say that all these things have been happening in increasing measure in past years. We can now claim that the decks have been cleared for action, that the routes for economic advance have been properly sign-posted and that the organisations exist to help the general forward movement.
At the same time, we must also recognise that a great part, if not the greatest part, of the general effort and initiative must come, and, in fact, has come, from many of the Colonial Governments and peoples themselves. They have managed, in many cases, to accumulate savings which give them the means to carry out development programmes on a very impressive scale. They have set up their own institutions, such as local development corporations, which enable them not only to develop individual projects but also to seek association with private capital, whether it is local or from overseas. Many of the surveys which have taken place by the International Bank, such as those in Jamaica, British Guiana, British Honduras, Nigeria and Malaya, have been asked for by the territories themselves and carried out under its auspices.
On our side, we have shown that we are eager to do what we can by the provision of funds from this country. As the House is aware, the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts have already furnished £140 million, and another £80 million has now been added to carry things on until 1960. The Governments have recently been informed of their allocations and, as I undertook in the House, a list of those allocations has been pub- 1167 lished and the Governments in question are in a position to take these into account when planning the utilisation of their own financial resources. In addition, they will have recourse to the London market and to loans as and when their needs require and as opportunity offers. We are anxious to encourage where we can loans from the International Bank and from private sources in the United States and elsewhere.
In the light of all this, it is unreal to pick out particular events of any one year, but there are several indications of progress which I should like to bring to the attention of the House. Development expenditure has maintained its momentum and the level of gross capital formation in the territories last year was about the same as in 1953, which was already at a very high level. During 1954, about £100 million of external public and private investment came into the territories of which about £35 million was public and £65 million private.
The volume of colonial exports of primary products set a new record in 1954, being about 5 per cent. up in 1953 and 40 per cent. above pre-war. The value of these exports showed an increase over 1953 in spite of the decline in the price of certain very important commodities such as sisal and palm oil. Although the value of colonial imports fell in 1954 by about 2 per cent., this was more than accounted for by the general fall in import prices.
I should not like to infer from all this that we feel that everything is plain sailing. It is certainly true that in a changing world individual territories must expect to see new obstacles to their prosperity arising from time to time.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I have not the figures available at the moment. I will look them up and send them to the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I do not have the exact figures.
In broad terms, the prosperity of the Colonies must be dependent on world 1168 prosperity and that, in turn, means a higher level of trade moving as freely as possible.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
When the Minister talks about colonial imports, I am not absolutely clear whether he means imports from the Colonies into this country, or imports into the Colonies.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I am sorry if I was not absolutely clear. I meant imports into the Colonies.
Just as we in this country have to face the question of increasing competition, so the Colonial Territories themselves have to consider facing up to the problems which a wider world market presents to them. They cannot simply attempt to stand still and rely on the traditional pattern of trade any more than we ourselves can. In one or two instances we recognise that we have been able to help the Colonies to lessen the impact of the liberalisation of trade to which I have referred.
We have in this country at the moment a delegation from Jamaica, headed by its distinguished Prime Minister, Mr. Manley, whom we are all delighted to welcome here. The delegation is discussing one of these questions in relation to bananas. I should like to make it clear to the House that we approach these problems with all possible sympathy, but, at the same time, with regard to the limitations which are imposed on us by some of our international commitments, which have been assumed in the general interest. Of course, we have recently obtained, in the form of a colonial waiver under G.A.T.T., a greater freedom which can usefully be invoked in these questions.
§ Sir Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
The Minister has just mentioned Jamaica. Jamaican cigars interest me rather more than bananas as a personal matter. Is the importation of Jamaican cigars growing and developing? It was usefully doing so during the war, but it fell afterwards.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
It is true that the importation of Jamaican cigars has fallen since the war and has been hit by the importation of Havana cigars. But, without raising any false hopes, I believe that the colonial waiver may enable us to do something to assist the cigar industry in Jamaica.
1169 I should like to take up one or two points on the economic side about which hon. Members have expressed particular interest and I should like, first, to refer to labour and industrial relations. The sections of the Report dealing with labour questions will, no doubt, be studied with great care. The salient fact is that colonial trade union organisation is continuing to show progress, but more towards the consolidation and strengthening of existing unions than in the direction of setting up new unions. On the whole, we think that this is a healthy sign.
A notable move in this direction was the amalgamation into a national union of all the industrial rubber workers' unions in the Federation of Malaya. That led early this year to the setting up of a joint consultative council for the Malayan rubber industry. That was an important milestone in the development of industrial relations in Malaya. Sound trade union management and leadership are, nevertheless, problems to which labour departments in the territories are devoting very much time and regular courses are now a feature in most of these territories.
Of course, work in this field, as in many others, presents particular problems in individual countries. In Kenya, for example, the trade union movement was seriously weakened by the association of some of its officials with Mau Mau activities, but the Kenya Government are doing all they can, through the Labour Department, to overcome this weakness. In British Guiana where, as all hon. Members are aware, special difficulties have had to be faced, we very much welcome the initiative of the British Trades Union Congress in making both funds and a resident adviser, Mr. Dalgleish, available to help trade union organisation.
The Report also contains special mention of Trinidad. Following Mr. Dalley's valuable inquiry into industrial conditions and labour relations, the sugar employers agreed, at the end of last year, to recognise for negotiating purposes the main sugar unions who, again, have grouped themselves into a federation. Subsequent negotiations, it is true, led to a deadlock and the Trinidad Government appointed a board of inquiry under Professor Jack. That Report has only just been received by the Trinidad Government and it is too early to say whether it will lead to a settlement. There is also an unresolved dispute 1170 in the Trinidad oil industry which has led the Government to appoint a second board of inquiry, this time under Professor Kirkaldy. This board has also reported to the Government and we are hoping that in this case, as in the case of sugar, these steps will lead to an early settlement in both industries.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield made a reference to the colour bar, I think he called it, in the Northern Rhodesia Copperbelt. This subject has frequently occupied the attention of the House and, here again, we have recently had the advantage of a visit from the Governor and now from the leader of the Unofficials, Mr. Roberts, whom we are pleased to welcome here.
§ Mr. Dugdale
What does the Minister mean by "the colour bar, I think he called it"? Does he not call it a colour bar? What does he mean?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I do not describe it as a colour bar, but as something which is different from that and which is not essentially a colour bar. Other factors come into it.
Hon. Members will remember that the African strike on the Copperbelt was brought to an end in March under conditions which guaranteed the re-engagement of all strikers on their former rates of pay and benefits. This action created pools of labour and has led to a certain amount of friction between union branches and employers, but we hope that these difficulties will subside without further unrest as the surplus labour is absorbed.
Another matter outstanding is the proposal for copper companies to recognise the Mines African Staff Association. That, again, is a feature of this problem. This proposal is being strongly resisted by the African Mineworkers' Union and I do not want to say any more at this moment, except to say that it is a matter of joint negotiation.
On the great question which has agitated the Copperbelt for several years past—the question of African advancement—the European Mineworkers' Union have made certain proposals to employers which I hope it is fair to construe as a more sympathetic attitude towards African aspirations. I understand that these proposals are to form the subject of talks with the employers, and I do not 1171 think that it would be in the interests of anybody concerned for me to comment further upon them at this stage.
In dealing with labour and trade union matters, I should like to make one comment about colonial representation at I.L.O. conferences this year. Hon. Members will remember that last year there was a tripartite delegation from the Gold Coast which attended the International Labour Conference with the status of observers. I believe that this was the first time in the history of the Conference that a non-metropolitan territory had been represented in this manner. This year, largely as a result of the initiative of Her Majesty's Government, similarly constituted delegations, headed in four cases by the Minister of Labour concerned and numbering 31 persons in all, are in Geneva at the International Labour Organisation Conference. They come from Malta, the Federation of Nigeria, the Gold Coast. Barbados, Jamaica. Sierra Leone and Singapore. Employees in these territories are directly represented by trade unionists, and I feel sure that the House would wish to welcome this development.
I wish to turn to another matter which is also dealt with in the Report, the question of co-operative movements. Here, again, this is a matter which many hon. Members, and especially hon. Members opposite, have very much at heart. As everyone is aware, the policy of the Colonial Office in these matters is very largely based on Lord Hall's dispatch of 20th March, 1946. That dispatch made it plain that in our Colonial Territoriesthe value of co-operative societies is no longer a matter of any dispute.That was the essential phrase. A long account of the activities of the co-operative societies in the territories will be found in the Report.
I wish to draw the attention of hon. Members to that account and also to what is said in paragraph 181 of the Report about the experiments in a wide variety of schemes for co-operative action among farmers which are proceeding in a number of territories. Broadly, the cooperative movement in the Colonial Territories today embraces about 7,500 registered societies, with over 960,000 members. The paid-up share capital amounts to over £6 million and the total 1172 reserve funds of co-operative societies of all types has risen to about £31 million. Deposits amount to £4 million, loans to members £7 million, and the value of the produce which has been marketed through the co-operative societies is no less than £32 million. There are now trained registrars in all of the larger territories and in most of the smaller ones.
It may be recalled that the eighth annual overseas course is being held at the Co-operative College and our thanks are due to the Principal and the staff for the efforts which they are making to help to develop this important movement in the Colonial Territories.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
May we be told whether any survey is being made of the co-operative ordinances? A year or two ago the ordinance in Uganda was very much broadened. Is that precedent being followed in any other Colony?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I could not answer that question without notice, but I would say that all Governments in the Colonial Territories are very much alive to the importance of the co-operative movement and to the need for developing it. If their legislation impedes it in any way I have no doubt that the Government's concerned are looking into the matter with a view to making a change.
I wish to refer to another topic which is of very great importance, and that is the question of communications in the Colonial Territories. It is an isolated topic, but it is one which is discussed in the Report and I should like to expand on it for a while. It is clear, and I think it always has been clear, to hon. Members, that communications present one of the most important factors in the expansion of the economies of our Colonial Territories. Where they have been developed the territories have gone ahead and where communications have been allowed to lag behind, so has economic development.
I have not time this afternoon to discuss all the various aspects of this subject in the form of construction of railways, the building of roads and the development of air and shipping services, but I should like to say a few words about civil aviation. The Report points out that during the period 1953–54 there was 1173 a steady increase in the volume of air traffic to and from the Colonial Territories. In particular, the trunk routes between the United Kingdom and the Colonial Territories were all either maintained or increased in spite of the drastic reorganisation which was necessary as a result of the withdrawal of the Comet aircraft. Alongside that there has been a steady increase in the tourist and the so-called colonial coach class services between London and West Africa and London and Gibraltar.
At the same time, we are encouraging the development of freight services, and preparations have now been made for the early introduction of freight services in East, West and Central Africa. There have been no spectacular developments in local and regional services so far this year, but the picture is one of steady progress. For example, for the first time in the West Indies, an internal air service is being established in Jamaica. Colonial operators have shown great enterprise in introducing modern aircraft.
Viscounts are being supplied to British West Indian Airways, Hong Kong Airways, and Cyprus Airways, Bahama Airways are acquiring de Havilland Herons, and some of these aircraft are also being supplied to the West African Airways Corporation. Plans for the opening of new airports in Singapore, Kenya, Jamaica and Hong Kong have been made and, as the House knows, my right hon. Friend opened the new airport at Dar-es-Salaam, in Tanganyika, in October last.
In dealing with the economic section of the Report I have tried to show the progress made in the direction of the aim to which I referred at the start of my speech of assuring our people in the Colonial Territories a fair and rising standard of living. We must, at the same time, also consider what is being done in the social field and see what advantages they are drawing and what is being done in the spheres of education, social welfare, community development, and so on.
I have time to mention only two aspects. The first is medicine. Although it is clear that we have a very long way to go yet in the provision of medical services in the Colonies, the Report shows very clearly that the medical and health services have not only been maintained but considerably expanded. In general, 1174 there is a growing evidence of mastery over some of the preventable diseases and of the increasing consciousness among the public in the Colonies as to the causes of these diseases and their willingness to take measures to deal with them.
I could mention many examples—sleeping sickness, malaria and yaws, for instance—but I should like to select one in which the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) has shown interest, and that is the question of tuberculosis. It is right to say something about this problem, because page 3 of the introduction to the Annual Report draws attention to it and, furthermore, we have sitting in London this week the fourth Commonwealth Health and Tuberculosis Conference, which my right hon. Friend will address later in the week.
More and more attention is being paid to the question of tuberculosis throughout the whole of the Colonial Territories. This is shown by the fact that my right hon. Friend has appointed Professor Heaf, David Davies Professor in the University of Wales, as consultant on tuberculosis. We have realised that it is much better in these matters to have doctors from overseas, whether they are expatriate or local, whether from the Far East, or Africa, or from other dependencies, and to have them trained in the treatment of tuberculosis in this country. We have a steady stream of medical officers coming over here to study for the diploma in tuberculosis diseases at Cardiff. Many of these doctors go back to their various territories and carry out work of a high order.
In many overseas territories tuberculosis hospitals are now being built, and small T.B. annexes are being set up in rural areas to supply individual local needs. Surveys have been made, and persons found to be tuberculin negative have been given protective vaccination. In Jamaica, for example, 636,697 people were tested and 99.6 per cent. of those found negative were vaccinated. This is probably one of the most successful campaigns carried out anywhere in the world.
Similar things are happening throughout the territories, and I could give many details to the House. It is happening in the Falkland Island dependencies, in Singapore, and also in Malaya, where the disease is very prevalent, and where 1175 about 20 per cent. of hospital beds are devoted to tuberculosis work. The new Lady Templar hospital at Kuala Lumpur will be staffed by personnel of high experience and standing, and will be devoted largely to research.
In Hong Kong, where, in conditions of extreme overcrowding, tuberculosis is a matter of deep concern, a strong tuberculosis department has been working with considerable success. In fact, ever since the end of the Japanese occupation a great deal of work has been and is being done. In East and Central Africa, in West Africa and in the South Seas, antituberculosis work is going on. At the moment, attention is being concentrated on this problem as never before, and I think that I may fairly say that the work being undertaken in the so-called underdeveloped countries under British tutelage will stand comparison with any work done anywhere else in the world.
The second item in the social services section to which I wish to refer is that dealing with the vitally important question of education. We are at last beginning to see some fruits of the very heavy expenditure made during the last ten years under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts for the furtherance of education in the Colonial Territories. For the most part, expenditure under these Acts has been devoted to capital equipment which, so far as education is concerned, means buildings and furniture. But the new secondary schools and teacher training colleges, and the new university colleges which have been provided with their physical equipment from funds voted under the Acts, are now, at last, producing their effect in the raising of the whole standard of education.
In the three universities and the four university colleges in the Colonial Territories there are now just over 4,000 students, an increase of nearly 400 on the previous academic year. In addition, over 10,000 students continue to come to the United Kingdom or to the United States for their higher education. From among these men and women will come the leaders in the academic, professional and public life in their own territories in the future.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Can the right hon. Gentleman divide those numbers and tell 1176 us how many come to the United Kingdom and how many to the United States? That would seem to be of some importance.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would put down a Question. Then I will give him the precise figures. It is my impression that about 6,000 or 7,000 come to this country and about 3,000 to the United States, but I may be wrong about that.
While referring to the work of the universities, I should like to take this opportunity to thank the universities in this country, in particular the University of London, for the indispensable part which they have played in this work.
In the field of higher technical education, in which the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) has often displayed great interest, there is a good deal of progress to report. The Kumasi College of Technology in the Gold Coast has been able to increase its enrolment to 580 of whom 62 are taking professional courses in engineering. Good progress is being made in the completion of the buildings of the Royal Technical College of East Africa, in Nairobi. This college has appointed heads of its departments of engineering, commerce, architecture and science. As a genuinely inter-racial institution, the college may be of profound significance in the development of the plural society of East Africa.
It is when we come to primary and secondary education that we, perhaps, find the most conspicuous progress. For example, in Singapore the numbers of children who were admitted to Government and aided schools for the first time rose from 9,000 in 1953 to 12,000 in 1954 and 18,000 in 1955. A new teachers' training college is being built to provide the staff to deal with the increased numbers of children in the schools.
Hong Kong has increased the enrolment of its schools by over 22,000. Its entries for the City and Guilds of London examinations have doubled. In 1953, they were 194 and last year they were 383. The Hong Kong school health service, which had 100 schools and 21,000 pupils in 1949, increased its coverage to 419 schools with 46,000 pupils in 1954.
Probably the most spectacular achievement is in the Western Region of Nigeria, where primary education has been made 1177 available for all who desire it. As hon. Members will appreciate, the administrative problem which this involved was very great. This is shown by the fact that the educational authorities at first estimated that it would mean an intake of 143,000 new children. In fact, it meant that 400,000 new children were registered. I think that it says a great deal for the efficiency and devotion of the Ministry of Education in the West Region of Nigeria that all the 400,000 children were taken into school and provided with teaching.
In the Gold Coast, which is also approaching the achievement of universal primary education, the emphasis at present is on the provision of trained teachers to cope with the increased numbers. There the Ministry of Education was able to increase its output of trained teachers from 1,109 in 1953 to no fewer than 1,528 in 1954. In working towards universal primary education, the Gold Coast Ministry has now reached the stage where its effort must be to emphasise the expansion of secondary education so as to provide more recruits for the teachers' training colleges as well as for other walks of life—a point which was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Wakefield.
Similar expansion is taking place in Uganda. There the output of trained primary school teachers was 362 in 1950 and 843 in 1954. In Northern Rhodesia, the Government increased their expenditure on African education by some 50 per cent. in 1954. Sixth form work has now been started by the Government African secondary school at Munali, which many of us have visited, so as to prepare African candidates for entrance to the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This school at Munali is also taking pupils from Nyasaland.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Can the Minister say any more about sixth form and secondary education, because that is the most serious bottleneck in African education? There are only about 70 pupils leaving the sixth form on the Gold Coast and none in Nyasaland.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I am well aware of that problem, and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we are not satisfied with the progress made in Nyasaland, but we are determined to keep up the pressure to improve the situation there and to 1178 achieve the result to which he has alluded. We are just as anxious as he is to do that.
As we study the work of education in these various Colonial Territories, one cannot help being struck by the fact that each branch of education helps every other branch. Primary education cannot be expanded unless there is expansion in secondary education. There, again, as the hon. Gentleman said, secondary education cannot expand unless the secondary school pupils are able to go on to university colleges. Again, the secondary schools and the university colleges cannot do their work unless the teachers are available. It is all part and parcel of one great problem.
As we see it, all this expansion of school education for children and young persons must be supported by an expansion of extra-mural adult education for the community at large, whether it is carried on by the extra-mural department of a university college, as it is in some cases, or by some such unofficial body as the People's Educational Associations in the Gold Coast and Singapore and in other territories. It has to be a long-term programme.
In addition to that, there is the movement of self-help, to which the right hon. Member for Wakefield referred, which we know as community development and which has achieved very great results in recent years among the illiterate or semiliterate people living close to the land. In a variety of ways their corporate initiative has been stimulated, and they have worked together to improve their systems of agriculture, their roads and bridges and their own social services. At the same time—and this is particularly true of the Gold Coast—there is connected with this movement a drive for achieving literacy which has been so spectacular in the Gold Coast and which is producing many thousands of new literates every year.
In what I have said this afternoon, I have tried to touch on some of the important matters in the economic field, in social and labour matters and in education, and so on, which are, so to speak, internal to the Colonies themselves. But in this modern world it is quite clear that no one, least of all our Colonial Territories, can live in isolation, and there are very few aspects of their life which have 1179 not some international repercussions or other.
In particular, the United Nations and all its Specialised Agencies continue to show a great and increasing interest in Colonial Territories. This, again, is dealt with at some length in the Report, and I recommend it to hon. Members. As far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned—
§ Mr. Rankin
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he not also say a word in praise of the great work which the co-operative movement has been doing in the Colonies in fostering all those things about which he has been speaking?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I spoke at considerable length about the co-operative movement a short while ago, as hon. Members will see when they look at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow. I made it perfectly clear that Her Majesty's Government were fostering the co-operative movement, and I went, perhaps, into too lengthy a description of what they were doing.
I would like to say a word or two about our action in the United Nations. We have co-operated and shall continue to co-operate to the best of our ability with the United Nations on colonial matters, and I say that in spite of the tendency of some delegations to use that organisation as a forum for airing rigid and doctrinaire views on the alleged evils of colonialism. At the same time as they do that, they seek, in many cases, to establish the right of the United Nations to make the administrating Powers accountable to it for their actions in the Colonial Territories.
We have made our position perfectly clear in the Fourth Committee and elsewhere on many occasions, and I need not enter any further into that this afternoon. This year the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly will have an opportunity for some very important constructive work in connection with one of the Trust Territories, work which began in New York in September last and in which we took some part.
I refer, of course, to Togoland which is under British administration. That territory is to be visited this summer by a special mission charged with advising 1180 on how the wishes of the people of the territory can best be ascertained concerning their future status once the Gold Coast achieves full independence. It is not for Her Majesty's Government to try to prejudice the conclusions of that mission or of the Trusteeship Council to which it will report, but, as is mentioned in this Report—and as I told the General Assembly last autumn—we make no secret of our view that, should the people at that time decide that they wish to be joined with a fully self-governing Gold Coast, the objectives of the Trusteeship system would have been happily achieved and the Trusteeship Agreement could be terminated.
In the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations, again, Her Majesty's Government have continued to play their part in numerous technical conferences and discussions, and I gratefully acknowledge the help which these Agencies have given us in those fields. Outside the United Nations, we continue to play our part in the various regional organisations in which our dependent territories are interested.
The Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa south of the Sahara, which is now linked by a joint secretariat with the Scientific Council for Africa—a very important body—has continued to consolidate and extend its activities in stimulating the exchange of ideas and information between experts working in similar fields in different territories, as do the Caribbean Commission and the South Pacific Commission.
Then we have our less formal contacts with our fellow administering Powers, both within and without the Commonwealth, which continue to be of a very happy character. My right hon. Friend's predecessor was particularly pleased to have an opportunity this year of meeting his opposite number, the Minister for Overseas France, as he was then called, an opportunity which my right hon. Friend hopes will recur this year.
I must apologise to the House for the length of my speech and for taking up so much time, but I believe that in view of the importance of this topic and the very great field to be covered, a field that has not, I think, been fully dealt with in this House for some time now, hon. Members will agree that the time has not been 1181 entirely misspent. I have sought to paint the picture as a whole; to put upon the canvas the broad features of political, economic and social progress and then to fill in one or two detailed items to bring out those features more sharply.
The last thing I would wish the House to believe is that Her Majesty's Government are in any way complacent about what has been achieved. We are not. Although the progress has been, and continues to be great we are all aware that if it is to go on and bear fruit every effort will be needed, both by Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of the peoples of the territories themselves to achieve all the prerequisites of success. Those include investment—I would say the maximum investment—not merely of financial capital but the investment of men and women from this country, whose assistance is absolutely essential if this great work is to be carried on.
In the last resort, the extent to which we can achieve success must depend on confidence. In the ensuing debate today, and indeed on all occasions when we are debating colonial affairs, I would urge the House to create the necessary climate in which that confidence can flourish; whether it is confidence among the peoples of the territories themselves, or among the British officials in the Oversea Civil Service or among the investors in this or in other countries whom we seek to interest in this task of colonial development.
As I said at the beginning, I feel sure that in this House there is almost universal agreement on the aims in colonial affairs. Let us, in this new Parliament, bend all our efforts to accomplish those aims, not in the interest of ourselves—although I accept the fact that in many cases we stand to gain by those developments—hut, above all, in the interests of the people of the Colonial Territories.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
The Minister has talked in general terms about a number of important political and social questions and he has made a non-controversial speech. There are, however, a number of burning political and constitutional questions which can be controversial but on which, if they are being kept to the end of the debate, hon. Members on this side will have no opportunity of commenting. When he winds up 1182 the debate, will the Colonial Secretary deal with the political and constitutional situation in Cyprus?
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
Although I think it is a little irregular to announce in advance what the Minister proposes to say, at the start of a new Parliament I have no objection to acting in a slightly irregular fashion—but limited strictly to what I am about to say.
I should, naturally, make some reference to Cyprus, but if the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker)—whose return to this House, on personal grounds, I think everyone welcomes—expects me to go much beyond what I said in the debate which we had just before the General Election, I am afraid that he will be disappointed. Perhaps he had better couch his remarks this afternoon in the knowledge of an almost inevitable disillusionment.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I should like not to anticipate my disappointment, but it is, of course, awkward for us when, in such a debate, important aspects of Government policy on which hon. Members on this side would like to comment are reserved to the end of the debate. It gives us no opportunity to make those comments. Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of that when we have another colonial debate?
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
Debates in this House on colonial policy are naturally very widespread. A great many topics are touched upon, with the inevitable result that few of them can be properly dealt with, but, speaking as a back bencher, I am sure that none of us is in any way disturbed by the amount of time which both right hon. Gentlemen have found it necessary to devote to their speeches, because this is such a vastly important subject. It would not, of course, be proper for us to follow them in their length of speaking, but, if I might, I should like to refer to one topic the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs mentioned both earlier in his speech and at its very end—the capital necessary for the development of our Colonial Territories.
I do not want to be too controversial on this point, but when being pressed to spend more money on such United Nations Agencies as deal with raising the 1183 standards of backward peoples, the Government have often tended to shelter behind the assertion that they have had so much to do in our own Colonial Territories. I agree that there is an immense amount to be done there. It is precisely because of that that I should appreciate it immensely if, when he replies, the Colonial Secretary could deal at a little greater length than his right hon. Friend has been able to do hitherto in this debate with this question of capital from other countries, as distinct from this country, to be applied for the development of our Colonial Territories.
There has been a feeling in the past—I hope that it is wrong—that there has been some discrimination against foreign investment. This afternoon the Minister made two statements which, I thought, did not in the least show that discrimination. If his right hon. Friend could enlarge upon that in any way when he replies, or indeed now—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
It would be very difficult to deal now with all the questions which I shall be asked, but may I say that there is no question whatever of discrimination with regard to financial investment without strings attached. From whatever source it comes, we gladly welcome it.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
I am glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that. My only other question on that is as to what is being done to get this capital. The Minister said that he is particularly anxious to get it, and that statement has been repeated now by the right hon. Gentleman. I should like to hear some definite statement on how the Government propose to attract that capital.
The one particular aspect of colonial affairs—indeed the one particular Colony—to which I wish to refer is that just mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker)Cyprus. I want to refer to it in a way which, while not in the very least disguising my profound disappointment at the manner in which Ministers have hitherto dealt with the problem, will at the same time show that I and those of my hon. Friends on this side who think like me have only one object in mentioning it—though perhaps it is one object with three aspects.
1184 We want to establish peace in the region in which Cyprus is situated, and we believe that the solution of the Cyprus question will contribute greatly to peace in that area. We want, of course, to see the welfare of the people of Cyprus furthered as far as possible, and we wish to see the honour of our country remain high and respected in every way.
Hitherto, as I say, I have been profoundly disappointed by the way in which Ministers have dealt with this matter. I remember not so long ago—in the last Parliament—the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs looking a little prim, as though he thought anyone who raised this question in the House of Commons was trying to help the Communists. Then there is the Colonial Secretary, who tends in his rather bluff manner just to sweep aside the whole question of Cyprus with the statement, "We cannot possibly discuss the question of the sovereignty of Cyprus." And then there is the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who whenever this matter is raised assumes an air of aggrieved surliness and, as it always seems to me, looks upon people who raise it as mildly unpatriotic, to say the least. In my submission, he has been proved so very sadly wrong about Cyprus in the last six months that the Government should make a radical re-examination of this matter.
For a year at least many hon. Members on this side of the House have been warning the Government that, unless something were done about it, the situation in Cyprus would become rapidly worse. I was rebuffed by the same right hon. Gentleman when I suggested to him that the failure to solve this question would lead to a serious deterioration in Anglo-Greek relations. He pooh-poohed the whole suggestion. Unfortunately, the fact seems to be that not only has the good will previously shown by Greece towards this country sadly diminished in the last 12 months, but Græco-Turkish relations have been far from improved and, as for the island itself, tension has been considerably heightened. Not only that; whereas six months ago there was merely tension there is now, unfortunately, a considerable and apparently growing amount of violence.
I submit that the best way in which Her Majesty's Government can make the Greeks to see reason in this matter is 1185 to bring them face to face with the Turks. I am thinking here not merely of the Cypriot Turks; I am thinking of the real Turks—the Turkish Turks, the Turks from Turkey. We could do this quite simply. At present there are five major parties to this dispute. There are the Cypriot Turks; the Greek Cypriots; the Greeks; the Turks, and our own people—all of whom are interested in the solution of this question.
At present, we are in control. If we went I do not think that anybody would care to be very dogmatic about what would happen in Cyprus, and, indeed, the surrounding region. The other four parties to the dispute would certainly find themselves at loggerheads. The danger is that they would not only find themselves at loggerheads but might easily find themselves at each other's throats. I do not want to see this happening—not only because one has a natural feeling against seeing one's friends at each other's throats, but because of the mockery which that would make of the whole defence situation in the Near East, Middle East, or whatever the region is now called in fashionable circles.
I do not believe that we are in Cyprus for any material benefit to ourselves. I do not believe that by hanging on to the sovereignty of Cyprus we gain anything material—financial or otherwise. We may have an interest there; we certainly have a defence interest, but the idea which is put about in certain quarters that we have something considerable and material to gain out of our possession of Cyprus does not hold water. It therefore seems stupid to put ourselves in the position of apparently being an imperialistic and exploiting Power in Cyprus. If we hang on to that sovereignty, it is natural that other countries should believe that we are doing so for our material benefit.
I bitterly resent the fact that this feeling should exist. In my submission, it is quite unjustified. I think that we should call together the two major parties to this dispute—outside Cyprus—and make a suggestion to them upon the following lines. At present, there is one Governor, appointed by us. Why should we not have three Governors, acting as a triumvirate. I know that that sounds clumsy, but the Government of Cyprus could carry on perfectly well with a British, 1186 a Turkish and a Greek Governor, who would have to act in concert. That would completely dispel the idea that we have some imperialistic and exploiting reason for remaining, because, if we attempted to exploit the Cypriots, the conjunction of the opinions of the Greek and Turkish Governors could easily outvote us. Yet, if they did not agree, we could, in our capacity as presiding Governor, see that fair play was done between them.
It may very well be that this idea is not a perfect solution as a permanency; but if it allowed passions to cool during this crucial time, when it is so important that there should not be a divergence of opinion, still less conflict, between Allies in this rather vital part of the world, it could do a tremendous service to the cause of world peace. And a permanent solution might even emerge from the happier circumstances which would then obtain.
I ask the Government to consider this possible solution and, if they do not consider that it is a good one, at least to produce a better one. What I beg the Government not to do is just to sit back and appear to do nothing. If an agitator has a real sense of grievance and is ignored he agitates all the more. Surely that is precisely what is happening in Cyprus, with such unfortunate results. Must this question of Cyprus be left for solution until Reason is entirely dethroned? At present Reason has one cheek on the throne. Must we wait until she is right on the floor before we attempt to find a solution? I ask the Government to show that this much-vaunted new Conservatism, about which we hear a great deal, is really different from the old Conservatism, which unfortunately led to so many disasters in the Imperial field.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)
The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) has been talking about what the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs called one of the colonial trouble spots. I want to call the attention of the House to another, namely, the Federation of Malaya. In so doing, I am afflicted with the diffidence which normally attacks hon. Members addressing this House for the first time. I should not normally have ventured to 1187 address the House so soon after the Election had brought me here were it not for the fact that this will be the last occasion upon which we shall be able to discuss Malaya before the elections which take place there next month.
Although I am not an expert on the Federation of Malaya, I want to say a word or two upon the subject of these elections, their timing, and the problems which will beset the new Government there. The House should realise how vital these elections are not only for the people of Malaya themselves but for South-East Asia as a whole. Malaya has initiated a new period in the long story of home rule, and it may also turn out to be the key which we have been looking for which may end the emergency.
It has been clear for some time now that the emergency can only be ended in one of two ways. The simplest way would be a broadcast over Peking radio. That would solve the problem overnight. I am not suggesting that the terrorists take their orders from Peking, because it is obvious that they do not, but the slightest discouragement over the Peking radio would send them home and send them to surrender. I do not think that broadcast is coming. When I was in Malaya a few months ago there was no sign of it coming.
Let us, therefore, look to the other way, which is to prove demonstratively to the people of Malaya that our ideas are better than the Communist ideas and work better. The only way in which we can do that is to set up a strong democratic, indigenous Government in Malaya. I am sure the House hopes that that is what these elections will do. There is a danger that it will be difficult to retrace our steps should we make a mistake or should anything go wrong. This is, I think, a one-night-only stand as it were. If these elections do not come off or anything goes wrong after the elections, it will be difficult to convince people that our way of living is better than the Communist way of living in that part of the world.
So far as the rest of Asia is concerned, the spectacle of a great colonial Power voluntarily surrendering sovereignty and voluntarily handing over to the people in whose interests we have been governing all these years will undoubtedly have an effect on nations in that part of the world, 1188 and may also, if these elections are a success, show people in that part of the world that it is possible to have a stable, democratic government in South-East Asia.
I wish to say a word or two about two problems which will face the new Government of Malaya—the one elected at the end of next month, whatever party may hold office. They are problems which will affect us in this House. The first is the constitutional question. The present Constitution of Malaya is, of course, based on the Federal Agreement of 1948. That was not intended for direct elections at all, and the Colonial Secretary's predecessor, Lord Chandos, was quite right in amending only that part of the Agreement which affected the elections and not trying to make a wholesale amendment to the Agreement. That must wait for the new Government to take in hand. They will be faced with a difficult problem of citizenship in Malaya. That is a delicate question and a controversial one in Malaya, but I must be as uncontroversial as possible today. I will only say that, in solving this question, I hope that the Government will place at the disposal of the new leaders in Malaya the good offices of anyone they choose to call upon—the present High Commissioner, his predecessor or anyone else they may care to call in to help solve this problem.
How is that to be done? I am not conceited enough to believe that any solution I can put forward will be acceptable, but I think that there are various ways in which this can be done. A Royal Commission or an all-party conference in Malaya has been suggested. But at some stage in the near future, within six months of this election, the question of Malayan citizenship has to be borne in mind. Remarkable restraint has been shown by the Malayan Chinese Association in not raising this matter before the elections. As the House knows, there is a great deal of feeling about that in Malaya, and it is a matter which has to be solved soon.
The other question which will have to be borne in mind, although it is not going to be so immediate, is the question of Singapore. The House is aware that the present division between Singapore and Malaya, although justifiable and inevitable politically at the moment, is 1189 geographically and, to a large extent, economically absurd.
At some stage the division, which is an artificial one, has to be brought to an end. Again, there are difficulties. There is a strong tide of opinion against it both in Singapore and in Malaya, and the recent unfortunate disturbances in Singapore have not made it very much easier to reach that end. I believe that within the next three years an attempt has to be made to bring together Singapore and Malaya.
At the moment, the position is that we have divided the head from the body and expect the whole to go on living. It is very difficult to go on living under those circumstances. Again, I do not wish to put forward any remedy, but the parallel of Northern Ireland crosses my mind as a possibility in this case.
In the immense tasks that will lie ahead after the elections, the basic political responsibility will fall upon the new Malayan leaders, but I believe that the British, while in Malaya, have as great a part to play in the future as they played in the past. I believe that this part lies much more in the social plain than in the political or economic. Developments over the last few years in the social sphere, such as in the great satellite town of Petaling Jaya, which many hon. Members may have seen, and in the national school institutions which are growing up, provide the way of welding together the two different communities in Malaya and making them one nation. That is the basic problem facing the new Government.
If we finance the schools and gently lead, as it were, the two communities to live together in places like the new villages and new satellite towns, remembering that one-half of the population of Malaya is under 21 and that if they grow up together now there is a prospect of peace between them for a long time, great progress can be made for the future.
There is one last word I should like to say. The election will be bringing to an end sooner or later direct British rule in Malaya. We have always said that our aim has been to build one united Malayan nation, and I believe that we have made great progress in that direction. The Malayan leaders have said that they do not wish the British connection to be severed altogether. They 1190 wish Malaya to remain with Dominion status within the Commonwealth. I think that is a great tribute to the body of men who do not get talked about very much but who have done sterling work.
The Malayan Civil Service has done great work under three High Commissioners, Sir Henry Gurney, Sir Gerald Templer and Sir Donald McGillivray during the last few years under great difficulties. The work which they have done has led us to a situation which we would never have believed possible five years ago, namely, that we could contemplate the holding of orderly federal elections in Malaya without the emergency actually having been brought to an end.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Grey (Durham)
One of the great features of this House is that when an hon. Member is making a maiden speech we sit and listen in silence. Although it has been our experience to suffer in silence now and again, I think that the greatest tribute I can pay to the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) is that we have listened in silence because we were deeply interested in what he had to say. He has shown great knowledge of his subject, and his speech was made with great fluency. I am sure that both sides of the House will join with me in paying tribute to him for an excellent maiden speech. We shall look forward to listening to the hon. Member again, and, although he may have raised some controversial matters, I am sure that he was being as non-controversial as possible.
The debate today has ranged widely over the whole of the Colonial Territories, and I do not want to lower the tone of the debate. I have had the happiest experience of again visiting Jamaica, and it is more or less on the subject of Jamaica that I intend to speak for a few moments. I realise that the problems of Jamaica are the same as the problems of the Colonial Territories as a whole.
I have visited Jamaica this year, and I did so in 1953. If I make criticisms about the situation there I do not want my hon. Friends on this side of the House to imagine that nothing has been done in Jamaica. The progress made has been welcome and steady and is very marked, but there is still a lot more to be done. During my visits I covered quite a cross-section of the community. This year I talked with all kinds of people and got a 1191 fairer picture of Jamaica than I did on the earlier occasion.
Despite the progress that has been made, shanty towns still exist, without water or sanitation. The problem of housing should be tackled with all the force necessary, so as to eradicate areas where disease might arise. The shantytown problem should be tackled promptly and effectively because of the need for decency and cleanliness. The only way in which we can have a decent society is for the people who live there to have healthy conditions.
In regard to education, schools are being built, but not in sufficient numbers to cater for the large number of children who need to be educated. Teachers have a difficult time, with classes sometimes numbering over 100. No teacher can do his job properly with that number in class. The problem is of how to cope with the need to educate more children and to build more schools to meet the needs of the increasing population. Because of the increasing population in Jamaica and elsewhere, the problem of education has to be tackled in a different way. I will suggest the way later.
I visited many light industries, including the bauxite industry, which is making a vast contribution to the economy of the country. I had a good look at the sugar factories and estates, and the banana estates, and I found that good progress was being made. I pay my tribute to the people there.
I made contact with the trade union leaders. If I dare, I will offer some suggestions to the people of Jamaica about the working of their trade unions. There are three trade unions. One is Communist dominated, one is run by Mr. Manley and the other is run by Sir Alexander Bustamente. The latter two unions are the main ones. Only in recent years have the people of Jamaica commenced to build up some form of trade unionism. Not all the employers are favourable to trade unionism, but many of them look upon trade unions as the best way to improve relationships between employers and employees.
In recent years, greater responsibility has been exercised by these two trade unions, but they have weakened themselves by fighting against each other. The struggle for power and for the right 1192 to negotiate with certain employers is always there. It would be difficult to merge the two unions. The only way for them to act with force would be to accept the status quo and the present line of demarcation with the people or the members which they have. If they knew the strength of their negotiating power which would follow I believe that they would act upon this suggestion. I say to my friends in Jamaica that they ought to promote peaceful co-existence between these two unions, each pursuing its own interest without fighting against the other.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
What is the name of the union which supports Sir Alexander Bustamente?
§ Mr. Grey
I do not see the relevance of that interruption.
I visited a country hospital and I decided that something must be done about such hospitals. I found 120 beds in the hospital I visited, and only one doctor. He had a private practice but he still had to do the hospital job as well as he could. The dispenser had to administer chloroform, even though he had no qualifications. This was disgraceful and I tried to follow up the matter privately with a person who was interested. He said to me, "When we advance economically these things will be put right." I disagree with him, just as I disagree with Government supporters in this House when they take that line. Good health is essential to any community and is not simply a by-product of economic advance. The hospitals in Jamaica need attention and I hope that the Secretary of State will look into the matter.
Constitutional government is a good thing in Jamaica. I found encouraging signs of the pattern of government in the future. Before I make any further statements about Jamaica I want to put two questions to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I understand that the Bustamente Government submitted a five-year plan, the total cost of which was £8 million, and I believe that plan was accepted. Since then, of course, there has been an election in Jamaica and another Government has been returned. That figure has now been reduced to 1193 £3 million. On the face of it, under a Government of a certain political colour it is possible to get £8 million—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Of course, it is not true. All who know Mr. Manley or who knew Sir Alexander Bustamente will agree that there would be no preference shown by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to the Jamaican Government whichever form it might take. I know that Mr. Manley, whose acquaintance I made recently and for whom I have the greatest respect, would not believe that there would be an element of truth in any such suggestion. What the hon. Gentleman possibly has in mind is that all the colonial Governments not unnaturally submit very ambitious programmes, and then, out of the relatively limited amount of money which the Secretary of State for the Colonies has got to disburse, he has to allocate it according to what appears to him to be the best criterion. The amount is frequently a great deal less than had been hoped for, but that would happen whoever was Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Grey
There is another point that I should like to raise. I think the right hon. Gentleman will remember that he said that he had intended to send a delegation to consider conditions in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Presumably it was not possible to send a delegation. Do I understand that it will go in July?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd indicated assent.
§ Mr. Grey
We have got to do quite a lot in Jamaica, but I believe I should also speak frankly to my friends in Jamaica. All the economic help that we can give to Jamaica will be sponged away if Jamaica does not realise her own responsibilities. Here I feel that I am treading where angels fear to tread, for I am referring now to the increased population of Jamaica. This is real political dynamite for any politician in Jamaica to touch, but somehow someone at some time has got to tackle this problem.
Whether by discipline on the part of the people themselves or by legislation 1194 which will enforce the registration of the father's name and make the father maintain the child, I believe that the Jamaicans themselves must do something to restrict the population and keep it at a reasonable level. I believe that the Jamaicans must admit that they themselves and not we must deal with this problem.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
I do not want to misquote what the hon. Gentleman has just said, but is he advocating either the practising of birth control by the Jamaicans themselves, or, in the event of birth control not being practised by the Jamaicans, some form of Government action to encourage birth control?
§ Mr. Grey
I do not want to cut across religious beliefs in this matter. I am not talking about birth control in the sense of enforcement by law. What I said was that this might be brought about either by discipline by the men themselves or perhaps by legislation to enforce the registration of the father's name. Whether it can be done in that way I do not know. It is a matter for the Jamaicans themselves. I ask that this problem should receive consideration, because it is having disastrous results.
There are large numbers of children living in shocking conditions. In the conditions which I saw, a mother has to be both mother and father to the child, and because of that children have to fight for their existence at a very early age. That is no doubt quite foreign to hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they have not experienced it. These children, at the age of 5, 6 or 7, have to fight for the sole purpose of existing, not living, and it is an obsession with them.
I came across a simple illustration of this fact. I saw a little boy of six or seven years of age selling newspapers. He sold me a newspaper and charged me 5d. I discovered that the price was only 3d. Hon. Members may say that some English boys would do that. Of course they would, but the point is that an English boy would know the difference. That Jamaican did not. He thought it was the correct thing to do. All he was trying to do was to get as much money as he possibly could.
§ Mr. Grey
A further example of the kind of existence that these children experience was related to me by a schoolmaster with whom I was acquainted. The master revealed to me the kind of human material which constituted his school. They had an arithmetic lesson, and the teacher said to one of the boys, "If you had five bottle tops and you gave me five, how many would you have left?" The boy said, "None, sir." The master then said, "If you had five marbles and you gave me five, how many would you have left?" The boy said, "None, Sir." Then the master said, "If you had 5s. and you gave me 5s., how much would you have left?" The boy said, "I would have 5s." The teacher said, "But cannot you see that this is only an arithmetic sum? If you had no bottle tops left or no marbles left after giving them to me, surely the same thing would apply if you had 5s." The boy said, "That is the trouble. I would not have anything left." The moral is that their economic environment invades the children's attitude of mind. If there is to be an unrestricted birthrate in these conditions, no economic aid that we can give can help these people.
My final point is on the question of emigration. I understand that 450,000 Jamaicans have emigrated to this country and that that figure is being increased by 120,000 every year. We have had the impression that they were coming here because they were unemployed, but the impression I got was that most of the people coming into this country previously had jobs, so that robs us of the argument that it was unemployment which drove them here.
The danger is this. If the best Jamaicans are leaving Jamaica, then they are doing the Jamaicans themselves a great harm, because what Jamaica needs is real capital investment, and what kind of an advertisement for the island is it to know that the best people are leaving Jamaica? Jamaicans themselves are doing Jamaica a great disservice by leaving the country.
I believe that the real cause of the emigration is the kind of attractive advertisement offering £75 trips to England, and the kind of talk that, when they come here, there will be television 1196 sets and all sorts of things, including free accommodation. There is no one to tell them that that is not the case. There is no one to tell them about the climatic conditions here, and about the difficulty of obtaining accommodation. The only attractive picture which they get is that of a trip to England for £75, and they mortgage everything they have in order to get here.
I believe that it should be the job of somebody to tell these people of the conditions which they must expect when they come here, to tell them how precarious is our present economic position and how difficult it is to get accommodation. I believe that that is the only way in which we can solve this migration problem, and I also believe that the Jamaican Government can do something themselves in that respect.
I would conclude by emphasising the great needs of Jamaica. The problems are very great, but I believe that, if they are tackled in the right spirit, these people will act spontaneously and prove themselves to be a great product of our Commonwealth.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)
I most earnestly hope that, as I venture upon this, my first ordeal in this House, I shall not stir up any of the controversial emotions which lie dormant in the hearts of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. I crave the indulgence of the House this afternoon, particularly as the subject on which I want to speak is on the borderline between Commonwealth and colonial affairs.
I realise, of course, that some hon. Members may think it provocative to start off by saying that I am a Scotsman, but I assure the House that we are the most unprovocative people. We who come from north of the Border from time to time suffer a great deal of misunderstanding from our friends who do not have that privilege, but you, Mr. Speaker, know perfectly well that we always suffer in silence.
Today, I speak not only as a member of that nation which has sent so many of its sons and daughters overseas to build up the Commonwealth and Empire, but I speak also as a citizen of Southern Rhodesia. I have lived there 1197 for seven years, and during that time I have taken part in all the everyday life of that country. So I think I have some measure of understanding of the problems that face this new but potentially great Federation, and I have some realisation of the problems that have to be solved in the whole of East, Central and Southern Africa.
I want to make only a very brief contribution this afternoon, and that contribution is in the form of a plea for ever deeper and deeper understanding of the magnitude of the problems that have to be faced. I admit that when I first went to Rhodesia, I had no idea at all that the problems that I would meet there would not be the ordinary problems which one might meet in any other part of the world, and it was only after I had been there some time that I realised that the basic problem in Rhodesia is one which hardly exists at all anywhere outside Africa.
I hope that the House will not jump to the conclusion that this problem is one of colour, because that is far from being the case. That there is a colour problem I admit, but it is only important in the sphere of inter-marriage between races and in the sphere of the production of children of mixed parentage. There is no reason why that should ever cause any strife in Africa, because it is frowned upon equally by Europeans and Africans alike.
The real problem is how to create one nation when the people within its boundaries vary in their degree of civilisation from the higher standards of European civilisation to the standards of those who think that it is unlucky to have twins in a family, and that, therefore, one of them must be instantly exterminated at birth.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that the backward element, although it is decreasing, is at the present time far greater than the more advanced, and by one other definite fact. That is that it is far simpler and a far quicker process to educate than it is to civilise. It is against that background that I hope the House will always consider the problems of this great new Federation when they arise.
Who are the people on whom the task of making a success of this great federal experiment must depend? I do not think 1198 there can be any difference of opinion about that. The task rests fairly and squarely on those people who have gone out from this country and have made their homes there. Their future and the future of their children are at stake, and nobody realises more than those people that it is only on the foundation of cooperation and friendship between the races that it is even safe or wise to build, while we in this country can only help or hinder. We cannot do their task for them.
What sort of people are these on whom so much depends? I know, because I was one of them for a long time. They are exactly the same sort of people as one finds in a constituency such as the one I represent. Some are country folk, and some are townsfolk. Before they left this country, some supported one political party, and some another, but all have taken with them the old British traditions of justice and fair play, and they do not cast aside these old traditions as soon as they leave these shores. On the contrary, when one lives in a distant land, one finds that these traditions are cherished and that they grow in strength and in meaning.
I should like to remind hon. Members that there has not been a single death from racial strife in Southern Rhodesia in the last 55 years. I hope that will convince the House that these men and women who are playing such a tremendous part in creating the pattern which civilisation will take in Africa in the future are not only worthy of the confidence of hon. Members but have a right to ask for their trust.
At the present time there is only one comment which seems to come regularly, week after week, from the Federation. It is to the effect that the people at home do not seem to want to understand the problems of the Federation and, in general, put very little trust in the people over there. When I first went to Rhodesia I did not appreciate the problems, and I did not understand that attitude at all, but after seven years there I know exactly how the people feel. It is a feeling which we must overcome, and it can be overcome by, not Governments, but the whole people having a far deeper understanding of the problems which face the people who have gone out there from this country.
1199 I do not think it is possible when talking about the Federation to end without saying a word about the Union of South Africa. If—I am sure it is the case—the British Commonwealth and Empire is today the greatest force for peace in the whole world, it is essential that we try not to alienate even one member of it. Everybody knows how easy it is, when differences of opinion arise, to antagonise, and probably lose, a member of a family for ever. This is truer in family life than in any other form of human relationship, and in family life it is essential to exercise extra restraint and self-control. There are times when it is even wise to withhold criticism altogether for a period if family unity is once again to be restored. That applies all the more when there are good grounds for criticism.
We should do well to remember that in all our dealings with the Union of South Africa. Tactless, ill-informed or ill-timed criticism will only harden the hearts of the people there, and it will never make them change their ways or alter their policies. I would ask hon. Members to remember that, not only in our interests and not only in the interests of peace, but because understanding and friendship are absolutely essential if this new African Federation is to develop and prosper.
Most of the problems which the Federation has to face are common problems, but, in addition, this large new Federation is completely landlocked and for all time many of its lifelines must depend upon the good will and friendship of its southern neighbours. I am convinced that if we adopt an attitude of understanding and restraint we shall be able to help both the Federation and the Union of South Africa, but if we cannot manage to exercise this self-control, I do not know what influence may in future gain the upper hand in Africa.
I have purposely refrained from referring to the Africans themselves. This is not because I do not fully appreciate the great and growing part that the Africans must play in Africa as time goes on. I have refrained for two reasons; first, because I know that if I started along that path I might break into controversy, and, secondly, because I know that the Africans already have the good will of all the people in this country.
1200 In conclusion, I should like to give the House an assurance which hon. Members must believe if this country is to keep its influence in the future development of central and southern Africa, and that is that the Africans also have the good will of all those people who have gone out from this country and today live in the Rhodesias.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn). He referred earlier to the fact that Scotsmen frequently suffer in silence. I was somewhat surprised to hear that, but today, certainly, we are very glad he has transcended his alleged customary suffering in order to make his maiden speech. He has certainly come through the ordeal very creditably indeed. If at times he noted, as we have all noted when making our maiden speeches, a terrifying silence on the part of the Sassenachs here, it was not due to any spirit of hostility on either side of the House but rather indicated a sympathy with him and our silent endeavour to help him make a success of his speech. We are very glad that he has made a success of it by his own merits.
I am very glad also that he has referred to the part of the Empire and Commonwealth where he has spent some seven years. I am certain he will speak to us from his experience on other occasions, and I assure him that all of us in the House will be most glad to hear him, for we know he will speak with sincerity. Although on future occasions we may disagree with him on certain points, we shall never doubt his sincerity or his integrity of spirit. On behalf of the whole House, I dare to say, I humbly express our appreciation of the splendid contribution which he has made to our deliberations.
I turn now to the remarks by the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, who expressed the hope that we might adopt a bi-partisan approach to colonial questions. I need hardly say that that is the general wish of everyone, because it is our desire to secure unity on these matters, though it must be unity on the basis of principle. I would certainly agree that some progress has been made, for there is far less today of the assumption which existed in the early part of my career in the House that the Colonies were our 1201 Imperial estate, useful to us in this country for our own purposes. We have gone a long way from that. We never hear that kind of note struck these days, and that indicates in some measure the great advance made towards a truer appreciation of the significance of our present colonial possessions.
On the other hand, the Minister of State demurred from the Labour rejection of both Empire and colonisation. I do not see why he should. After all, in its etymological origin "Empire" means "domination," and the Minister himself, because he believes that the Colonies must work towards self-government, therefore implicitly rejects the idea of domination.
When the various colonial areas now inside what is at the present time the Empire move out of it and at last reach the status of being self-governing, independent countries like India, Pakistan and Ceylon, obviously "Empire" will no longer he applicable. Certainly the peoples of the three areas which I have named would stoutly reject any idea that they belonged either to the British Empire or to any other empire. They are proud, I am glad they are proud and I hope they will long remain proud, of the fact that they are members of the Commonwealth.
That is precisely what the Minister of State surely implicitly desires in respect of all the other areas still remaining in what is technically an Empire rather than a Commonwealth. I cannot understand his logic in this respect. Although at the time the late Sir Stafford Cripps was decried and denounced for daring to suggest the liquidation of the Empire, nowadays both sides of the House are engaged in that process of liquidating colonisation and putting in its place the nobler conception of the free association of independent members of the Commonwealth.
The idea of colonisation is undoubtedly in bad odour in certain parts because at one time the Colonies—their resources and populations—were looked upon as chattels which we could use for our purposes. That is the traditional interpretation of colonisation. We have moved from that idea a great deal, and must move still further from it.
The Gold Coast, Nigeria and Jamaica will, in the course of time, I am sure, be equally proud members of the Commonwealth along with those members which 1202 I have named, and those other members, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, perhaps one day, a regenerated and transformed South Africa. They will no longer be Colonies, for colonisation will have disappeared. The Minister of State was woefully illogical in his argument. Instead of pleading for Empire, he should rejoice in the fact that on both sides of the House we are proceeding to try to replace Empire by the finer conception of a free Commonwealth of Nations.
I want to focus my remaining remarks more particularly on one part of the Empire to which reference has been made by another hon. Member in a maiden speech. I had the privilege, with four hon. Members of this House, of whom there are now only three, of going to Malaya, Borneo and other parts of South-East Asia, under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I want to pay tribute to the excellent work of that Association in educating and informing those whom it sends overseas, and also in offering hospitality to fellow Members in Legislatures in various parts of the Commonwealth and Empire.
I also most warmly express my appreciation of the kindness and friendliness with which I met from colleagues in every part we visited. I say that in respect of the governors, residents, the Commissioner-General, private persons, the various representatives of Her Majesty's Forces, and all the indigenous peoples. Wherever we went we found the warmest hospitality and the greatest readiness to show us all that we desired to see. They gave us memories which will never be effaced.
What I have to say about Malaya today, I assure hon. Members, is said in a spirit of appreciation, not only of those who live there, but of the very real difficulties which confront them. Malaya itself is fascinating precisely because it is a multi-racial community. In Malaya there are 2,800,000 Malays, 2,200,000 Chinese, 600,000 Indians, and 60,000 who are either aboriginals or Europeans, living in the Peninsula. As a previous speaker suggested, Singapore was artificially separated from the Peninsula, and in that island there are 1,100,000 people, of whom 80 per cent. to 85 per cent. are Chinese. If we take Singapore and 1203 Malaya together, the Chinese are numerically the largest community.
Certainly the great need of the whole of those two areas is to appreciate not only that they are multi-racial but that they must transcend the very great differences that there are between their various peoples. Those differences are very distinctive in religion, in function, in racial background, in social behaviour and the pattern of living.
Happily, I saw no sign of the colour bar. Sometimes I wish that some of our Commonwealth colleagues in South Africa might go to Malaya to live there for three months for the benefit of their moral, if not of their physical, health. If they maintain, as sometimes they do, that it is impossible for people of various types and of different colour to live together amicably, I would emphasise that in Malaya we have precisely what they say is impossible—the dwelling together of three or four distinctive races in a spirit of increasing co-operation and good will.
On the other hand, it should be appreciated by those who, like myself, wish to see Malaya ultimately a fully self-governing, independent country that precisely because of this multi-racial society one has to ask oneself to whom Malaya could or should be transferred? There are a number of indigenous sultans in Malaya with whom we have existing agreements, who maintain they are in fact responsible agents in those agreements. One cannot brush them on one side, whatever one's opinion may be of that kind of government. It remains true that for the time being they are the sultans recognised by us and by a large number of the Malays.
Apart from that, one has to ask the question, should one transfer Malaya, with complete responsibility, to a bare mechanical majority, in which case it might well be the Chinese would outvote the rest? Undoubtedly that would offer severe provocation to the minority of Malays, who were there before the Chinese, and also, of course, to Indians and Europeans. Although this fact is fairly familiar to us all, I mention it because it is essential that in the transition from imperial domination or guidance to the future complete self-government of Malaya the process should take 1204 place in a manner which will ensure racial co-operation and good will. We have time now to encourage that.
Fortunately, there is the political alliance of three different political parties, Chinese, Malayan and Indian, in Malaya at present. That seems to indicate the capacity of the peoples in Malaya to develop along lines transcending their racial differences. The Party Negara and the Pan-Malayan Labour Party likewise claim to be inter-communal. This gives much encouragement, but we have much to do still further to encourage those who are living in that country to appreciate they must abhor like the very devil any suggestion that because they happen to be a Chinese, a Malay, or British by background they must make their racial distinction paramount over all other factors. I hope and believe it will be possible, in days to come, irrespective of racial affiliation, to welcome the development of parties on that basis.
Equally I believe it essential that in the transference nothing should be done to damage the economy of the country. Malayan resources and per capita income are approximately twice as high as those existing in many comparable South-East Asian areas. Why is that? It is largely because of the rubber industry. Although in future the rubber industry may have to compete with synthetic rubber, it still remains, as in the past, one of the most important items of Malayan economy. If that were damaged, no matter what Government were controlling Malaya the economy would suffer grievously and, therefore, so would the people. Incidentally, it is well to appreciate, as I hope all parties and peoples in Malaya appreciate, that originally the Malayan rubber industry was due almost entirely to the enterprise of a British colonial civil servant, who, fortunately, is still living at the age of 99. It was he who initiated the rubber industry, without which Malaya would be so much the poorer.
In passing, I certainly must express my admiration of those who, during all these past eight years of severe strain and danger, have kept on with their jobs. The managers deserve every credit for their courage, their tenacity and their devotion to their work. In saying that, I include 1205 the wives of many of them, who have remained out there with their husbands.
Along with the managers, I would put another category whom I earnestly admire—the trade union organisers—who, after the trade unions had been broken up by the defection of Communist leaders, went to work to build them up again in face of equally great danger. Many of them, indeed, have suffered grievously in the process. One has only to appreciate the difficulties under which they have been working to admire the way in which, and against great odds, they have been building up a democratic trade union movement again. I only hope that they will go on with their job and earn the admiration, not only of this single voice in this House, representative as, I hope, in this case it is, but also of all the people in Malaya, and particularly the workers who should belong to trade unions.
I remember with my colleagues going through the jungle in Johore Bharu. As we went, with four armoured cars, I wondered why four of us should be thought such important people to require four armoured cars; but as was explained to me, the people out there did not want the responsibility of having four by-elections in this country. That gave us a glimpse of the hazards and dangers which have existed in the last seven or eight years.
It is well to appreciate that the "Communist terrorists," as they are called colloquially, and, I think, technically, have for the most part been Chinese. Of the number who have been captured or killed or who have surrendered in the past eight years, over 90 per cent. have been Chinese. We saw that for ourselves when we went to the rehabilitation camps and when we looked at reports. Possibly the figure today is even higher than 90 per cent. In other words, the Chinese community in Malaya and Singapore undoubtedly has been influenced very profoundly by what has been taking place behind the bamboo curtain in China.
We must appreciate that fact, because we know that the Chinese have, rightly, a very great pride in their ancient civilisation and are influenced thereby. Overseas, however, they still have a kind of dual nationality, even though they have been living in some other part of the world for many years. It is regrettable in some respects that more has not been 1206 done to clarify the position. Although certain remarks have been made by Chinese representatives from time to time to the effect that it is desirable for the Chinese to be law-abiding citizens in the country of their residence, I hope the Chinese Government will do much more, and will insist that the Chinese themselves who are overseas shall make up their minds whether they are to be Chinese citizens temporarily overseas, and, therefore, having no civic rights within the country of their residence, or whether, on the other hand, they are to be actual residential citizens of the country in which they are living. If only the Chinese Government would do that more explicitly, it would make a great contribution to greater peace in the Far East.
Undoubtedly, rubber is today facing the very great danger of severe competition by synthetic rubber. I was assured by those who should know that, with adequate capital, with modern methods and with encouragement, they could stand up to the competition of synthetic rubber. I hope that that is so. At the same time, I would also plead that the smallholders, who, I believe, help to cultivate approximately half of the rubber trees in Malaya, should be encouraged to come into large cooperative societies so that capital, which is not available when they are working on a small scale, might be available to introduce new trees, which can mature only after seven years, and to bring in fresh methods not only of planting but of latex processing, so that they, along with the great plantations, can develop their vital industry on modern lines.
I hope, too, that something may be done whereby more subsidies may be given than are being provided today to encourage modern methods of rubber production. But, still further, I would plead for a recognition that what Malaya requires more than anything else is to modify its reliance upon two main industries, rubber and tin. Highly important as they are, it is essential that a diversified economy should develop in Malaya. It is a strange thing that rice, which is one of the principal foodstuffs in Malaya, has to be imported very largely from abroad. Although I testify also to the very great work which has been done by Commonwealth Welfare and Development funds in developing 1207 irrigation, nevertheless that is still quite inadequate. I should like, therefore, to see far more done, both in the way of irrigation and in the stimulation of new industries, so that Malaya can depend less upon its two main vital industries.
Other developments are taking place in Malaya. Naturally, villagisation is at first often resisted by those who are compelled to live in the new villages; nobody likes being torn up by the roots. On the other hand, many of the people gradually come to appreciate that when once they live more closely together, many amenities can be provided for them, including maternity services, which cannot be so provided when they are scattered throughout the country. I hope and believe their experience of village life will encourage many of them to accept this transformation of their lives, and that they will settle down to villagisation with an appreciation of all the amenities that are then available.
Certainly, I entirely agree with what has been said earlier in regard to citizenship in Malaya. We have now a semi-democratic Constitution in that country, as well as in Singapore. We cannot stop there; we must go on. The inexorable logic is that we must proceed further until we have complete democratisation. That is why it is important that everything should be done to secure an acceptable basis of citizenship.
To do that, however, we must urge that this great problem should be solved by the people themselves on the spot. It is no good our trying alone to operate a solution. We can, of course, submit proposals and give encouragement in one way or another, but ultimately it is the Malays, Indians, Chinese and British on the spot who must work out the way by which they can arrive at a form of citizenship that is acceptable to all concerned.
A thousand miles away there is another fascinating area: Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo. Brunei, paradoxically, is a welfare State of some 54,000 people, half of whom, as in Malaya, are under the age of 21, with great wealth which, through the wisdom of the Sultan of Brunei, is being used largely to establish a patriarchal welfare State. But that only accentuates the contrast between the relative poverty of Sarawak, on the one side, and of North Borneo, on the other 1208 side. I hope that the wisdom and foresight of the Sultan will go even further, and that he will open up ways and means by which these neighbouring territories can benefit by the fortunes of the wealth from oil now available within his territory.
Still further, I hope the day will come when the whole of these three areas will be more closely associated, and perhaps with Malaya and Singapore as well, so that we have then a great South-East Asian federation on a democratic basis within the Commonwealth. That may not come in the immediate future.
We can, however, work towards it, and in doing so we can at least draw to ourselves the inspiration that although there are influences penetrating beyond the bamboo curtain from China, which are indeed leaving their mark in Malaya and Singapore, although far less so in Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak, yet, on the other hand, counteracting that influence are other influences, the democratic influences of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. How grateful we must be that we have these three inside the Commonwealth as friends. How grateful we should be to those who made that possible, so that the inevitable severance of these three lands from Imperial domination was done in friendliness, which today brings forth a very rich harvest indeed.
If only we can draw from the inspiration of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and spread it more richly throughout our South-East Asian territories, and if only we can pour more economic aid into that area, if only when we have an abundant Budget surplus, half of it were disposed of in that direction rather than to assist ourselves, it may very well be that that would deepen appreciation of the democratic way of life and enable it to outlast and outlive the world behind the Iron Curtain and the bamboo curtain.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)
I shall not follow all the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) has said, as I have not his knowledge of the East, but I should like to join with him in paying tribute to the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. There are many hon. Members who would not be able to speak with any personal knowledge in such debates as this on our overseas possessions but for that Association. 1209 It was that Association which enabled me to pay a visit to the West Indies two years ago. I am fortunate in having been able to pay a second visit this year to some of the West Indian Islands and to British Guiana.
I was in the West Indies shortly after the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret. I hope it is not impertinent for me to say that that visit was an outstanding success. It renewed in the West Indians the sense of belonging to this great Commonwealth. Without being presumptuous, may I say on their behalf that they hope that that visit is a forerunner of the visit which their Sovereign will one day pay to Her Caribbean territories.
In the Gracious Speech with which Her Majesty opened Parliament there was a reference to the progress which is being made in the establishment of a British Caribbean Federation, and I was delighted to see how much progress has been made in that direction in the last two years. The success of Federation depends on free movement of people between the territories of the Caribbean. When I was there the Movement Conference was held in Trinidad under the chairmanship of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. The House should know that that conference achieved a very great success, and it looks as if in due course we shall see freedom of movement between all the British territories of the West Indies.
Although our hopes are high of the success of Federation, we must not build too much on what it can do to cure all the ills rind troubles of the West Indies. It is not the answer to all the problems. For years to come the West Indies will continue to need our help—for generations, perhaps. They are no longer in a state of tutelage. They will still need our guidance, our wisdom, and our economic help to carry them along.
Federation, however, will bring many great advantages. For the first time the British West Indies will be able to speak with a united voice when their economic interests are involved. Those who know the West Indies know how many of the problems are social rather than political, arising out of the ancient wrong of slavery. There is, to my mind, great hope that the Caribbean Federation will create a new sense of nationhood amongst 1210 all those scattered peoples, which, perhaps, will finally resolve the sufferings of the past. In their pride in their new nation they will be able to forget some of their ancient grievances.
I visited British Guiana. I spent 10 days there. I had not been there since before the Constitution was brought in and before the crisis of 1953. I must say frankly that I came away with a not very happy impression of the situation in that country. The situation seems to be quiet: I think it is only quiescent, and the minds of the people are still very uneasy.
There have been some changes in the two years, and much progress with many schemes of development; some of them were started years before, even long years before, the P.P.P. came to power. There are some very remarkable housing schemes. I saw some of the best tropical housing I have ever seen just outside Georgetown. A little progress is being made with land settlement, but not enough.
I should like in passing to pay tribute to what I think is one of the most successful ventures there has been there, and that is the Credit Corporation which, by making loans to individuals, is quickly raising the standard of housing and is encouraging as a whole the spirit of self help, which we need in British Guiana. Not everything can come from outside. The Guianese have to learn to help themselves. Many agencies are working there, among them our own Colonial Development and Welfare organisation. I would pay tribute to one other, the United States Foreign Operations Administration, which, very quietly and very tactfully, is giving needed technical advice. There are many other agencies as well, but I wanted to mention that one particularly.
Generally speaking, however, in the country as a whole one gets the feeling of a lack of drive. I do not think the Government are getting the credit that is their due. They do not seem to be selling themselves to the people as they ought. I feel that leadership is lacking. There are not the leaders among the people, and I do not think leadership is coming from above. Politically, the country is a vacuum.
1211 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) referred to the future constitution of the country. At the moment, of course, there is a nominated interim Legislative Council, which is to last for four years. It is too early yet to go back to the status quo. I agree that we must keep our eyes on the aim of restoring full democratic government, but the time is not yet ripe, and we ought to give the interim Legislative Council a little longer to get on with the job.
Much has been made of the split in the P.P.P. between Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham. There are many opinions about what this split means. There appear to be as many opinions as there are people expressing them. I do not think we can yet build any hopes on that split. It may be a split on ideological lines; it may be a split on racial lines. We cannot say yet.
The most hopeful sign in the political life of the country is the work the T.U.C. is doing. The T.U.C. sent out first Mr. George Woodcock as a member of the Commission. He has been out there again, and also Mr. Andrew Dalgleish. The work the T.U.C. is doing through the £3,000 a year it is giving to build up M.P.C.A. is the best thing that has happened in British Guiana for a very long time. I hope that this work will be successful and that it will be the forerunner of further action on similar lines by the T.U.C., and I hope all the trade unions themselves will back up the T.U.C. in what it is doing.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
The hon. Member knows, of course, that the T.U.C. has voted considerable sums for this purpose and, therefore, the trade unions are backing it.
§ Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
Yes, but I do not think that what is being done is enough.
Now as to British Guiana and Federation. At the moment there are worthy citizens who have been nominated to the Legislative Council, but, frankly, they do not represent the electorate. It is the semblance of Parliament but not the substance. While I was there the great debate on Federation started. It lasted six days and I heard the first two days of it. Every hon. Member in the Legis- 1212 lative Council took part. It must have been a marathon debate.
At the end, a resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority in favour of Federation. There was only a small minority against it. Now that represents an astonishing change of opinion in two years. Two years ago one would have found no one who had a good word for Federation. Now there is only a small minority opposed, composed of those who want to say "I told you so" if anything goes wrong.
The position is that the Legislative Council cannot morally commit British Guiana. Therefore, we must consider the position of Her Majesty's Government in this respect. British Guiana is essential to a Caribbean Federation. It should be in it now. It is too important to be left out. There is a Clause in the draft Constitution to provide that it can opt into the Federation. I put it to the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether would it not be wiser if British Guiana were included now, with the addition of a Clause to provide that when full self-government is restored it might opt out of Federation. I ask whether it would not be wiser to do this so that British Guiana may be a full participant in the negotiations which will take place while the new Constitution is being implemented. British Guiana should take its rightful place from the start in the Federation and the making of this new nation.
Talks are now proceeding or about to begin between a delegation from the West Indies and Her Majesty's Government concerning a citrus and bananas agreement. It would be impolitic to discuss that matter in great detail while the negotiations are proceeding, but I should like to say a few words from the point of view of the West Indians. They are not asking for protection for an inefficient industry. The fact-finding mission which went out to study the situation of the citrus industry did not in any way find it inefficient—far from it. What the West Indians are asking for is the same status in their relationship with this country which other dependent territories have with their metropolitan protecting Powers.
They are not asking for help for ever. They are asking for help for their industries until they can be made viable and competitive. We have given them a definite pledge. I would remind the 1213 House of the words of the declaration made by Her Majesty's Government last year. The Secretary of State gave an assurance to the delegations that Her Majesty's Government, in recognition of their responsibility for the development and the welfare of the Colonial Territories, were determined to do everything practicable to promote the continued prosperity of West Indian agriculture, which looked to the United Kingdom as its chief market. The West Indians are asking only for the implementation of that pledge in the spirit and in the letter.
Let me say a few words, as it were, to the members of the West Indian delegation. They must not necessarily expect to get everything for which they ask. They must expect a Government which is responsible to the people of this country to consider all the interests concerned, and they must not necessarily be too disappointed if they do not get everything they ask for. But, from our point of view, we must look at the matter in this fashion—that what ties us to the West Indies is not just a cash nexus. The links between us and the West Indies are far more subtle, far stronger and far more binding.
These are our oldest Colonies. These are Colonies to which we have given much and which have borrowed much from us. Their way of life and their institutions are British. To many of us the fascination of the West Indies and the attraction in going there is seeing our civilisation grafted on to peoples of other races, and seeing our own way of life reflected there in a different climate among different people. I feel that the links between us and the West Indies are stronger and should be even stronger than those with any other Colonial Territories. We still owe them so much for our past errors. I think that this is the time to be generous.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Stan Awbery (Bristol, Central)
I listened with great attention and interest to the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs. He drew a very large picture of the administration of our Colonies. He displayed what I thought was a spirit of satisfaction and complacency about all that was being done. I am sorry, but I cannot share that feeling of satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman gave the im- 1214 pression that everything in the colonial garden was lovely. The flowers were blooming and the sun was shining. I wish that that were so. I should have been glad to have followed the right hon. Gentleman in the debate on those lines. I am sorry that I cannot do so, and I hope that he will listen to some of the points I propose to raise.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about some of the trouble spots in the Colonies, but he said very little about the troubles which exist in those spots. I want to make a serious examination of the problems, particularly as they affect Malaya. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) for raising the subject of Malaya and giving the historical background, but I am sorry that he did not say anything about the situation in Malaya today. I want to point out to the Minister what I think is wrong and to see whether we can put matters right.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the development of trade unions. He knows very well that there are serious strikes at present in Singapore and that trade unionists have been put in prison there recently for leading strikes. The Minister said nothing at all about that. Nothing was said about the emergency in Malaya. I want to examine the situation from that angle.
I should like to start by saying that I appreciate to the full what has been done for our Colonies and what has yet to be done. I do not want to undervalue or exaggerate the work that has been done but to draw a balanced picture. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that our purpose in the Colonies was to guide these people to self-government, to establish a high standard of living and to give them freedom from oppression from any quarter. Everyone in this House will agree with that idea, but how far are we progressing with this work is altogether another thing.
Some of the problems in Malaya are like the problems in other Colonies, and in putting before the House some of the questions from the Federation and from Singapore, I will also be dealing with similar issues from other Colonies. I am not going to apologise for mentioning Malaya once again. The position there is too serious and too tragic for us to 1215 be calm, silent and diffident about it. We ought to face up to it, and I want to look confidently to the future as well as remembering the difficulties of the past.
I hope that when the Minister hears my suggestions he will not jump to hasty, ill-considered conclusions but will rather subject them to lengthy meditation and scrutiny. The three points I want to put about Malaya—if Malaya interests the Secretary of State for the Colonies—are, first of all, the emergency that exists in Malaya, secondly, the strikes that are in process in Singapore, and, thirdly, the development or lack of development of the social services in this Colony and in some others.
This emergency has been going on for seven years, and it appears to me that we are no nearer the end of it than we were seven years ago. There appear to be no signs of any end. As I said in a supplementary question last week, the cost is impoverishing both this country and Malaya and cannot go on indefinitely. We were told last week that it has cost us £135 million up to the end of 1954, of which £83 million was paid by the Federation of Malaya and £52 million by our Government here. In addition, we have lost the productive power of the men now in the Forces, and I estimate that to be between £18 million to £20 million.
Then there is the loss of life, which I cannot estimate because I do not know what loss of life has taken place. There is an official estimate, but the financial one that I have received is that the cost to the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the special grants has reached £400 million. Can we afford to go on without taking some steps to bring this to an end? Do we want to end it? If we do, is it beyond our ability to bring it to an end? Are we satisfied to go on like this for all time, or are we accepting this as a training ground for men in our Forces, because that is the impression of some people, that we are continuing out there in order to keep our men in training?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will, on consideration, withdraw such an unworthy suggestion which, made at a time like this when so many families in this country and in Malaya are deeply concerned about the situation, is, I think, almost criminally reckless.
§ Mr. Awbery
I said it had been suggested that Malaya has been carried on as a training ground and I was giving an opportunity to the Minister to contradict that and to put the position frankly before us as he sees it. I did not say that it was so, but that there were people who were saying Malaya was being used as a training ground, and I was arguing that we should disabuse their minds—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] The Minister will disabuse their minds—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Would the hon. Gentleman tell us of somebody in Malaya or here who has given expression to such a slanderous untruth? Will he name somebody?
§ Mr. Awbery
I cannot give the details at the moment, but it has been stated—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] Probably I can get it later on for the Minister.
§ Mr. Awbery
At any rate it will give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to dispute it when he comes to reply to the debate.
§ Sir John Barlow (Middleton and Prestwich)
Would the hon. Gentleman say whether he supports this idea? Would he make it clear one way or the other?
§ Mr. Awbery
I am not satisfied myself that we are doing that. What I am trying to urge is that we should bring this emergency to an end by some other methods than by fighting.
There is no doubt in my mind of the urgent need for peace in Malaya. I should like the Minister to tell us whether the position there is improving or deteriorating. Are the number of terrorists increasing or decreasing, or are they being maintained at the same level as has been the case over the past seven years? The whole of Asia is watching our position in Malaya, and what we do is going to have an effect upon our Asian friends.
§ Mr. Awbery
I am careful about the selection of my words, because I want the Minister to deal with the problem as it should be dealt with. What exactly are the Government doing; what do they intend to do to bring this emergency to an end after seven years? There are unusual circumstances in Malaya, and they call for unusual measures. What unusual measures does the Minister propose to take to end the fighting?
I ask him to reconsider the question of an amnesty. I know that some hon. Members will come to the conclusion that I am standing by the rebels in suggesting this. I am not, but I want to see the thing ended as quickly as possible, because it means loss of money and loss of life. Will the Minister give serious thought to it? Will he reconsider the problem and see if something cannot be done from that angle?
It may be that we can bring about peace by negotiation with somebody. I said last week in my supplementary question that someone some time and somewhere has got to meet to bring this to an end, and the sooner that is done the better. A compromise or a concession may be necessary to do it. How far is the Secretary of State prepared to go in making concessions to stop this warfare out there? I suggest that we should tell these people that we are prepared to make peace in a spirit of good will. There are means of telling them, and if we do so, we may get a response. We may not do so, but it is worth trying. They should not be told scornfully and reproachfully what they must do, because whoever and whatever and wherever they are, they will refuse.
Then there is the question whether at this juncture in Malaya we can abolish the emergency regulations. It may be that we cannot do so. Will the Minister tell us if this is possible? Again, I think we should have that confidence in them which we expect them to have in us. The boys out there are waiting to come home, the mothers in this country are waiting for their boys to come home, and we are all waiting to hear from the Minister what is being done to make this possible quickly.
1218 What is the alternative? I have gathered from official reports, and from correspondence with people on the spot, that the alternative is an indefinite period of warfare in Malaya. There is a mounting feeling of frustration on the part of a large number of our people. There is the increasing cost that we can ill afford. There is the the bitterness which is being created between people, and difficulties are arising which will have to be faced by the British owners of the tin mines and the rubber plantations.
If this continues the end in Malaya may be as it is in Egypt, a humiliating scuttle. That was the word used by the Government when they were in Opposition. We want to maintain our prestige in Asia and Africa. That can easily be done if we treat Malaya as we have treated India, Burma and Ceylon.
Reference has been made to the recent Bandoeng Conference which the Minister told us condemned colonialism. But they were talking about the colonialism of 30 years ago. There has been a change since then. What did they say about colonialism? They said that colonialism in all its manifestations was an evil which should be speedily brought to an end. That was said at this recent conference of South-East Asian people.
We could create a good feeling among these people, because the Malays and Chinese in Malaya are willing to work in co-operation with us. Therefore we should stretch out our hand to help them. For instance, there is much more we could do to establish social services in Malaya and in the other Colonies than we are doing. It is not so long ago since the late Arthur Greenwood established the Beveridge Committee in this country to inquire into the need for social services here. Will the Minister set up similar committees in some of our Colonies to inquire into this question and make recommendations?
§ Sir J. Barlow
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, does he realise that most of the larger rubber estates had their welfare services long before this country had any? They had hospitals, schools and all the other amenities. Perhaps he would tell us the extent to which he knows Malaya before he speaks with such authority?
§ Mr. Awbery
It may be that we copied the rubber plantation employers in Malaya when we established our scheme but I do not think so. I visited hospitals and schools on the plantations when I was there and, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I appreciate what has been done. Perhaps I am magnifying the things we ought to do. Something has been done, but much more remains to be done, and I am asking the Minister to take action. For instance, he might consider setting up committees in some of the Colonies to consider education, since he spoke this afternoon about the increase in the number of children in Singapore from 9,000 to 12,000. However, the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us how many children were without school accommodation there. Would he tell us that?
I am told that there are 20,000 men on strike in Singapore, or there were a few days ago. This happened because the clerks of the port authority were on strike and the others came out in sympathy. I understand that the strike committee decided to call off the sympathetic strike but, two hours after that order was given, not only by the strike committee but over the radio, six leaders of the trade union movement were arrested and put in prison. Will the Minister let us know what is the position? Twenty thousand men do not come out on strike, in Singapore or anywhere else, unless they have a reason for doing so. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why the trade union leaders were arrested, and if they are to be brought to trial?
There is rather patronising recognition of the trade unions there, but that must change considerably if we are to establish a decent trade union movement in Malaya. I say without fear of contradiction that a strong trade union movement in the Federation of Malaya would be the greatest bastion against Communism we could have. If, however, we do not build up a virile, active trade union movement there, the alternative will be Communism. Therefore I ask the Minister to consider seriously whether we are doing enough for the trade union movement.
I am in close touch with some of these people, who write to me and let me know the official and unofficial views. Some time ago the Conservative Party here 1220 issued a pamphlet on the organisation of industry, and I was intrigued to read some of the things that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are prepared to do for the trade union movement in this country. The pamphlet said that the problems of industry are first of all human problems. If they are human problems in this country, they are equally so in Malaya and in every other Colony, and I want them treated as such.
The pamphlet said that continuous attention must be given to personal relationship between management and labour. If that applies to this country, let it apply to Malaya and other places. There was also reference to a spirit of co-operation and partnership, all in respect of this country. What is good enough for this country is good enough for the Malayans.
Is the Minister not prepared to extend to trade unionists in Malaya and other Colonies the ideas and principles contained in the Conservative Party's "Industrial Charter" for this country? The pamphlet said, and I agree, that trade unions are absolutely essential for the proper working of our economy and industry. I have been convinced for a very long time that if there were no trade union movement in this country we should have to establish one because it is so essential. Let us do that in Malaya, and let us give the trade unions there proper recognition.
The pamphlet also said that the Conservative Party was prepared to continue to recognise the status of the trade union movement in this country. Must I ask the Minister to do the same in Malaya?
The employers in Malaya are recognising trade unions in the patronising way in which it was done in this country 50 or 60 years ago. Trade unions were not recognised by a majority of the employers in this country until they became strong enough to force recognition, and it was only when the trade unions became strong enough that they could get the Government to move and place Measures dealing with them on the Statute Book. I urge the Government not to wait for that stage of development in Malaya. If they act now, they can win over the people of Malaya, and I believe that the people of Malaya will work with us in our great Commonwealth.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
It was not my intention to refer to Malaya tonight, but after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), I should like to address myself to the subject for a moment or two. Towards the end of his speech, the hon. Member said he would like to see our prestige retained in Africa and elsewhere, but I hardly think that the insinuations which he has made against our own race will help.
The hon. Gentleman said he would listen—I trust he will—to the reply by my right hon. Friend. I also hope he listened to the speech made by his hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) about Malaya. How different the two speeches were. The hon. Member for Leyton paid due credit to the bravery of our own men and women and all the races concerned in combating the terror and horror, but the hon. Member for Bristol, Central, by omission again and again, painted a very different picture.
§ Mr. Awbery
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman does not appreciate that my hon. Friend was painting one side of the picture and I was painting the other side of the picture so that hon. Members would have the complete picture before them.
§ Mr. Marshall
I am afraid that I could see no resemblance between the latter picture and the former picture.
The hon. Member for Bristol, Central generalised on the question of the social services here, to which all hon. Members in the House subscribe, mentioning the Beveridge plan and so forth, in relation to the rest of the Colonies. I would put one practical point to him. When one is dealing with actuarial calculations about retirement and so forth, one must know the date of birth of the persons concerned. In a great number of cases in the Colonies births are even yet not registered, and therefore in those parts of the Empire there cannot be the exact actuarial calculations that are possible here.
§ Mr. Awbery
Could not a new Beveridge Committee go into all these problems and report to the Minister?
§ Mr. Marshall
These problems are already being studied by colonial Governments.
1222 In every speech so far made the principle of expansion and development of the resources of our Colonies has been agreed. What worries and concerns people, and gives rise to conflicts of view from time to time, is how that principle is to be brought about. I am sure that the hon. Member for Bristol, Central would agree that if that principle could be brought about many of his objectives would automatically fall into the pattern which he desires.
We know that one of the things which, from a general point of view, a number of Colonies lack is communications, and we know that that is something upon which Her Majesty's Government must concentrate. However—I hope that the Secretary of State will pay attention to this point—taxation can stifle any real incentive on the part of the people within the Colonial Empire. I hope that my right hon. Friend will impose his will upon the Treasury and the Cabinet for the need for expansion in order to get the maximum resources from the Empire for the sake of the people in the Empire and for the sake of the world; and that at the same time he will make it clear that it cannot be sensible to have in existence any deterrent to attaining that objective. Our main objective must be to inject incentive to ensure that expansion occurs.
Therefore, I urge that in the next Budget, or before, action should be taken so that in cases where new development is occurring in any part of the Colonial Empire and the Government of the Colony have waived taxation rights, we should do likewise for a certain number of years, for that would lead to the injection of capital from this country into different parts of the Empire. That approach would provide far greater benefit than any form of grandiose Government scheme because pilot schemes would emerge, and they would ultimately be enlarged, and the final result would be that the particular form of production concerned would be to the benefit of the individual Colony.
I should also like to make a few remarks about the citrus fruit industry of the West Indies, to which reference has already been made. I was in the West Indies in 1953, and saw a good deal of the industry in Jamaica, British Honduras, Trinidad and elsewhere. It 1223 may be difficult for the Secretary of State to agree with a point I am about to make. I realise that negotiations are taking place and I do not want to embarrass him, nor do I wish to embarrass the people who have come from the West Indies, but believing as I do that the point I am about to make is right, I believe it right and proper to make it. I believe that the whole House agrees that in agriculture here at home it is right to help people who grow things from the earth and raise animals on the earth to help them by a policy that, first, gives flexibility so as to produce quality of the product that is produced, and, secondly, gives stability to the producer who is enabled to know that it is all right for him to continue producing.
More than anything else that applies to the West Indies and helps to decide what land is to be cleared, where to grow citrus fruits; then they are produced and harvested and ultimately shipping facilities have to be provided, and the places where the products will be sold have to be known. I do not think that it is right or proper for us in the United Kingdom to divorce ourselves from the agricultural possibilities within the Colonies. Therefore, I say to the Secretary of State that I should like to see support prices, which I think would readily be given from here by the people of the United Kingdom so that a healthy citrus fruit industry could be maintained in the West Indies, along with all the ancillary services that are necessary to maintain it in a healthy state.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) referred to an Imperial service, and I share his view. As each Colony and as each part of this great Commonwealth and Empire grows in stature and ultimately reaches self-government, so more and more must the stature of men who advise it and who have anything to do with it grow. I am not suggesting that the men and women in the past or present have not done magnificent work. They have done magnificent work in all parts of the Empire. We all know that qualities vary, and that people are human, and if at different times there is worry and anxiety about how long a man's position will last, that anxiety and worry must 1224 affect his outlook. If economic anxiety and worry enter the soul of a man, he cannot give of his best. I believe that an Imperial service is needed more than ever. In exactly the same way as the Foreign Service works, so would this Imperial colonial service work should it be carried out.
I have made the two points which I particularly wanted to make. I wanted also to refer to what the right hon. Member for Wakefield said. It is my belief that the British Commonwealth of Nations and the Empire play a major part in all the objectives of every hon. Member. It is only with the productive expansion of these people that the raising of their standards of life can be brought about and the standard of life of the United Kingdom can be maintained and enlarged. I do not refer tonight only to the responsibility which the Colonial Secretary has upon his shoulders and will have for perhaps five years, but also to one of the greatest opportunities that any Secretary of State has ever had.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
If the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) will forgive me, I will at once direct my comments to the Secretary of State. The Minister of State made what I might term a tour d'horizon of all parts of the world. He was slightly complacent, and before going on to deal with Nyasaland, I must say that I was slightly mystified when he said that he did not quite know what was happening about the colour bar in the Copperbelt of Northern Rhodesia.
I know of only two kinds of bar in Africa. One is cultural and the other is by colour. If the discrimination against black African workers in the copper areas of Northern Rhodesia is neither of these, I should like to know what it is. The right hon. Gentleman was unduly complacent about the subjects of medical services and of education. When one is handing out bouquets to one's Government and one's Department about advances in medicine, one should bear in mind that in Nigeria and the Cameroons there is only one doctor for every 90,000 people. Secondary education is vital in Africa, yet we have not more than 70 pupils leaving secondary schools in the Gold Coast for their University College at Accra, none at all from sixth forms 1225 in Nyasaland, and very few in Northern Rhodesia. So we should bend ourselves to these tasks; spend some more money, and get more teachers and schools in these African territories, the peoples of which are our wards.
Having said that, I want to turn to something which the Secretary of State said in a Written Answer last week regarding the new Nyasaland Constitution. On this side of the House we were very disappointed indeed, and there will be millions of Africans equally disappointed. The Colonial Secretary has said that he has not been to Nyasaland, but hopes to go in the near future. I hope that when he goes, which he should do at the earliest possible moment, he will meet people like Mr. Joseph Sangala and Mr. Manoel Chirwa, and find from them how they feel about this Constitution.
Before the proposed change, we had three Africans out of 21 members on the Legislative Council and now we are to have five Africans out of 23. The Secretary of State in his written answer said:At the same time there must be an eager—indeed, an adventurous—searching after some new form of constitutional arrangements which will assure security and opportunity to all.…" —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1955; Vol. 542, c. 13.]If the Colonial Secretary thinks that to put two more Africans on the "Legco" and make it 23 instead of 21 members is bold and adventurous indeed, I do not think so, and nor will the Africans themselves in the far-flung and beautiful Colony of Nyasaland.
The Colonial Secretary also said:I do not consider that the time has yet come for the inclusion of an African on Executive Council."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th June, 1955; Vol. 542, c. 13.]Why not? Tanganyika has one; Uganda has one; Kenya has one; Northern Rhodesia has one. Here we have the only "black African" State in these Federal Territories, and the Africans ask if they are second-class citizens, because all their neighbours can have one member on the Executive Council, but they cannot. There are fewer than 4,000 whites in the Colony and more than 2½ million coloured people. They say that it is a black State—unlike multi-racial Southern Rhodesia.
We hoped that this Constitution would go the same way, with modifications, as that of Uganda, but what hopes can we 1226 have of working with the people in Salisbury and Lusaka? We had an excellent maiden speech earlier from the benches opposite. It is not done to be controversial when commenting about a maiden speech but if we had more gentlemen in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland like the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn) we should be a lot better off than we are now; and people like Sir Roy Welensky would have more backing in their liberalisation of conditions in the Zambesi region.
I am disturbed when I look at the Constitution. Has the Secretary of State been at all influenced by consideration of the feelings of people in the Federal capital of Salisbury? Can he assure us that the white settlers of Nyasaland and even those of Southern Rhodesia have not been considered too much when he has been considering these "bold and adventurous advances" about which he spoke in his answer last Wednesday? I do not think so. We shall have to go much further than this if we want to convince Africans, particularly in the Central African Federation, that this wonderful partnership of black and white, which we talked about in the time when Lord Chandos was Colonial Secretary, will be carried out.
On this side of the House we were given guarantees and assurances that this would be a genuine partnership. This sort of thing does not look like it. I want to protest on behalf of those in the Nyasaland African Congress who cannot speak in this Chamber. I know what they have been saying in Lilongwe, Mlanje and Zomba, and I know what will happen when the Colonial Secretary goes out, and is asked if anything sinister occurred in the discussions about this alleged bold and adventurous Constitution.
Again, why cannot the Africans in Nyasaland have some form of franchise? The Indians in the Colony have got it, and so have the Europeans. Why cannot the Minister think in terms of Kenya? Why cannot we have something on the lines of the Coutts Commission going into Nyasaland and working out some kind of franchise for the Africans? If the whites and the Indians can have it, why not the Africans? After all, it is their country.
1227 If we do not give them a vote, again they say, "We are second-class citizens in our own land." They really must be given something substantial to convince them that, as an alien people in their country, we do mean to bring them along with us, quickly or slowly, according to local conditions. What has the Minister to lose by doing that? He will have no more and no fewer members of the "Legco" than he would have in any event. The Africans would merely be electing their own people—the same number that the Minister is allowing them in the new constitutional set-up. There is nothing for the Europeans to lose, either here or there, by giving to the Africans what they should have—a chance to elect their own people to the "Legco." There can be no argument about that if we are honest when we talk about being the guardians of the people out there and giving them the substance and the feelnig that we intend to play the game by them.
I also wish to comment on other small territories. There are 25 or more Colonies which, because of their geographical position, their lack of viability, or their multiracial society will never, or at least not for a foreseeable time, be independent like the Gold Coast and the Nigerias. What are we doing about them? Are the Government applying themselves to the question of the future of these territories? The Labour Party is. At our Conference at Scarborough last October, we said:For territories which are too scattered and too small to stand alone special arrangements will have to be worked out in agreement with their people for association with Britain in the Commonwealth.We all accept the need for domestic rule or local autonomy in Mauritius or any other small territory, but of course we should have to look after external affairs, defence, their relations with the Commonwealth and the big world outside. At the moment we have the representatives of Malta in London. I shall say nothing about the Malta talks except this: if anyone on the benches opposite intends to deny, or to object to, any argument that Malta should have three or four Labour M.P.s on these benches, I would say that they should look at their own back benches and think of the eight or ten Ulster M.P.s who have been saving their Government in the Lobbies in the past few years.
1228 If Malta cannot have Members here, then Ulster M.P.s also have no right whatever to sit in this Chamber. If it is denied to Malta, Gibraltar or any other place which may ask for representation in the metropolitan Parliament, then—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am not in the least pre-judging the discussions which I am now having with the Prime Minister of Malta and the Leader of the Opposition, but in fairness to Ulster I must say that it is part of the United Kingdom and has been for hundreds of years. That ought to be borne in mind. If there are no hon. Members from Ulster here at the moment, I think that I ought to say that on their behalf. I see that there is one hon. Member present from Ulster—and other parts of the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Johnson
I was about to say that if there were any argument about representatives from Malta. Gibraltar or any other dependent territory coming to this Chamber, then we could also attack the fact that Ulster has M.P.s sitting here. I was merely saying that, if one is justified, there is a good case for justifying the other.
I would also ask the Minister to consider the question of these 25 or more small territories like Gambia or Aden, and to bear in mind that in 1948 we had a conference which was a huge success. It was a conference of representatives from African Colonies. I suggest that the Minister should carefully consider, in the whole context of these small dependent Colonial Territories, convening a conference in London of representatives from the territories to consider how best they can further their future constitutional advance. It could be an all-party conference of Members of both sides of the House and delegations and deputations from each of the territories. The conference could consider many of these important questions which at the moment to the people in the territories seem to be a mystery.
The conference could make its own proposals. It might consider the advisability of a grand council, an advisory colonial council of the United Kingdom Government. One could also suggest that those of these distinguished colonial representatives who wished to do so—as, for example, has been the case in the past with 1229 a distinguished Indian—could take their seats in the House of Lords and initiate debates there, if they are denied representation in the House of Commons. Those territories which, like Malta, wish to send a delegation to the Lower Chamber, might perhaps be allowed to do so.
Economic questions could also be discussed. What about sugar? What about the Sugar Agreement, which is bothering many of us, or what about the lack of a sugar agreement in the future? Would not Mauritius want to discuss this with Barbados and other parts of the Commonwealth which will have a share in a future sugar settlement? I am merely thinking aloud, but I beg the Minister to think very seriously about this, and to consider convening a conference in London of all these dependent non-viable territories. I urge him to give his mind to this problem. We on this side of the House attach a great deal of importance to it.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
The opening speeches from the two Front Benches emphasised a little more than is usual at the start of a colonial affairs debate the extraordinary change which is sweeping over the Colonial Territories, change which is sometimes beneficial and sometimes disturbing: indeed, we are in danger sometimes of standing so near to events that we do not realise the speed of the change now sweeping over these territories.
It is certainly change of a peculiar kind which sees university colleges being established in territories where, 30 or 40 years ago, there was not even a primary school. It is change which sees all the apparatus of modern living, with factories rearing themselves to the skies, new mines sinking into the earth, cultured colonial doctors, lawyers and politicians all moving in their natural sphere and yet at the same time bewildered peasants being sucked into the modern wage economy, not quite understanding what it is all about, and millions more still left on the land, cultivating it in much the same way as their ancestors have done for centuries.
All this may make for what we call economic progress, but it is exacting a heavy price in Africa and also elsewhere—the disintegration of traditional societies, the undermining of traditional 1230 loyalties and the creation of what one might describe as a spiritual vacuum. Those who have read that moving book "Blanket Boys' Moon" will have some idea of what I mean. That book described in vivid terms the impact of European modern society upon the rural African. I wonder how many remember the pathetic lament of the Basuto priest:It were better to have lived in Lesotho a 100 years ago or to live a 100 years hence, than to live in these in-between times.While we talk about our achievements in the colonial field, it is foolish to ignore, as we do sometimes, the ferment in men's minds. I have often been hurt, as I suppose other hon. Members have been, by the way that intelligent Africans, after a recital of all the benefits that British colonial rule has conferred upon them, brush it aside and reward us not with gratitude but with misrepresentation.
For this there is a perfectly simple explanation. To those whose own society is disintegrating beneath them, who are seeking an outlet for self-expression, who are trying to find their self-respect in the modern world, our paternalism and half-concealed superiority is crushing, even when it is not meant. I would say that at the root of the ferment in the Colonial Territories is a struggle for status. That is natural and inevitable. It can be helped and guided. But it can turn sour, become bitter, and dangerous only—and this is what I wish to emphasise—when it is ignored.
That is why I believe in the colonial world the next five years will be crucial. That period will be just long enough to see whether the Caribbean territories, with our help, can begin to develop resources to match their population or whether they will fall victim to a vicious circle of poverty. In my judgment, that period will be long enough to see whether a multi-racial Government at the top in Kenya can inspire and establish real genuine trust and confidence between the races at the bottom. It is long enough to see whether the brave concept of partnership in Central Africa—to which reference was made in an outstanding maiden speech today—will become a reality, or whether it will prove a meaningless phrase.
In short, it seems to me that what happens in the next five years will determine whether the black man and the brown man identify themselves with our 1231 form of civilisation and are prepared to work for it and to make their distinctive contributions to it, or whether they will lose faith and join with those who would destroy it. I think also that we may expect, for perfectly natural reasons, that colonial affairs will thrust themselves more and more to the forefront of the world's stage.
All this will make demands on our qualities of leadership more searching than anything we have experienced before. I am particularly fortified by the knowledge that there could be few Colonial Secretaries who come to the task with so much exceptional grasp of these problems and, if I may say so, with such an understanding heart, as my right hon. Friend. He is faced with so many problems that I think he might be forgiven for not seeing the wood for the trees. I would humbly suggest, therefore, that there are three problems which demand his close and continuous study and a totally new approach.
The first was referred to by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). It is the future of the Overseas Service. The second is the pressing need for effective and drastic agricultural change to be brought about over nearly all the Colonial Empire. The third is the recognition that we must find some satisfying status within the Commonwealth family circle even for the smallest of the territories.
I think that the House would agree that perhaps the most important and valuable contribution which we are making to the advancement of the colonial peoples lies in the provision of highly-trained and devoted administrative and technical officers. The House may remember that last year I drew attention to the doubts which were beginning to manifest themselves in the Colonial Service and which were affecting its morale and recruitment. I believe that the White Paper which set out the proposals for the new Overseas Service went a long was towards removing those doubts. From my correspondence on this subject with knowledgeable people from all over the world, I conclude that these proposals did not go far enough. I think that we should act on the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Wakefield and have 1232 another look at the possibility of recasting the Overseas Service and creating a new service based entirely on the United Kingdom.
I know that my right hon. Friend, perhaps more than any of his predecessors, understands the necessity for raising the productivity of colonial agriculture. Obviously more food will be needed to sustain growing populations. There is a need also to raise dietary standards. But I would stress that it is important to improve colonial agriculture in a way which provides the right kind of social answer. I am aware that even if extensive efforts were made to raise the level of efficiency of peasant agriculture, it would always compare unfavourably with that of plantation production. It is true, for example, that in Malaya the output per acre of the rubber plantations is about double that of the peasant smallholdings. It is true of sisal and coffee in East Africa, of cocoa and palm oil in West Africa, and of sugar cane and citrus in the West Indies.
But, in our great adventure and great crusade in Colonial development, I do not consider that we should think solely in economic terms. The American constitution reminds us that the object of Government islife, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.So it should be. In my journeys through the Colonies, in the Caribbean, in Africa and in the Far East, I have observed that there is a world of difference between the man who has a direct stake in the land and one who sells his labour for wages or who works on a plantation. I have seen that for myself, and I am convinced that it is true. I believe emphatically that only by the encouragement of the growth of a new class of yeoman farmers, people with a stake in the prosperity and good government of their country, can we ever hope to erect enduring democratic institutions in the Colonial Territories.
I am quite well aware that quick results cannot be expected and that this magnificent Colonial Territories Report shows that an enormous amount of work has already been done. I am well aware too that, before new land settlement, there must be surveys of land use, conservation work must be carried out, the correct pattern of farming must be decided; and it can be decided only after a long period or trial and error. But it is still true that in a good many territories no one has yet 1233 an idea of what is the economic size of a peasant holding. I know that there are remarkable developments, and my right hon. Friend will remind me of what has been happening in Abyan in the Aden Protectorate: he will point to the interesting experiment in tenant farming at Nachingwea, and I myself saw some promising developments in the Nyanza Province of Kenya last year.
But the limiting factor, as I see it, is not so much the inability of the peasant to learn—because he has not to learn so very much in order to provide astonishing results—as the lack of people to guide and teach him. The limiting factor is the number of agriculture officers of all kinds. I am wondering whether my right hon. Friend can give us, first, an assurance that the highest priority possible is being given to the training and recruitment of agriculture staffs; that the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, and the departments of agriculture generally, are not being starved of funds and that agriculture education in all the Colonial Territories at all levels is being speeded up. In this latter connection, I know that my right hon. Friend shares my view that the creation of an élite divorced from the land would be a tragedy.
Now may I come to the third point to which reference was made by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). Not unnaturally, in this House our discussions tend to centre around the affairs of the larger territories as they march towards self-government and independence within the Commonwealth. I think however that there are two dangers in this. First, it may be thought that the goal of all Colonial Territories is independence within the Commonwealth, whereas, of course, the facts of strategic and economic importance make that goal quite unattainable in the case of a good many of the territories which the hon. Member for Rugby has in mind.
The second danger is, of course, that this neglect of the small territories may cause resentment in what are otherwise very happy little communities. There is a temptation—and the hon. Member for Rugby fell right into it—to try to find a tidy solution and to suggest that all we want is some great Council of State, some consultative body in London to which people can come. If the sugar 1234 industry in Mauritius wants to discuss matters of importance with the sugar industry in Trinidad or in Jamaica, it does so already. I do not think that that goes to the heart of the problem.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. All I did was to make a very sincere appeal to the Minister to consider inviting these 25 or more representatives of non-viable territories to come here and discuss their constitutional future.
The hon. Gentleman should know that, so great is their diversity, a good many of them have very little in common to discuss. Surely, what we have to find is a solution which takes account of their diversity. Of course, there is always a case for bringing representatives of the Colonial Territories to London. It is good for them and good for us. But I think that there is a danger of trying to think in terms of centralisation. To do so is a complete reversal of our traditional policy of encouraging natural individual growth instead of trying to impose a pattern.
Let me say straight away that I am not in favour of maintaining small units if with advantage to their peoples they can be merged with larger units. Quite obviously, economic interest and strategic considerations argue the case for large units. But I ask the House to consider that what appears to be sensible to us does not always appear to be sensible to others. Those who study African affairs are today witnessing the phenomenon that nationalism, instead of moving towards unification, is, in fact, tending towards fragmentation. That is not limited to the Ashanti in West Africa or to the Baganda, the Chagga or the Kikuyu in East Africa, because we even have some Europeans in Kenya thinking in terms of a small White Highlands State which, of course, is really too absurd to contemplate.
It would be tragic if this tendency developed at a time when even the great States of the Commonwealth are prepared to surrender some measure of their sovereignty because they recognise that the price of security in the modern world is the acceptance of some measure of interdependence.
§ Mr. Braine
Yes, like the United Nations, N.A.T.O., or anything else. Today the paradox is true that the price of independence is the acceptance of interdependence. I mention these things because I think that it would be most unwise, and indeed foolish, for us to ignore these warning signs.
I come back to my opening theme. What people are seeking in the Colonial Territories and all over the world is a satisfying status, a relationship which satisfies their own conditions and aspirations. If the task of statesmanship is to find the key to the hearts of colonial peoples, then, in my view, it cannot be done by ignoring people's innermost feelings.
I do not wish to tread on delicate ground by referring to the negotiations now afoot with regard to Malta, but I must say in all frankness that I do not think that the Home Office offer ever had any merit at all, because it does not provide a satisfying status. The transfer to the Commonwealth Relations Office would have been welcomed in Malta. Complete integration into the United Kingdom would, I think, be welcomed even more, but the Home Office offer is neither one thing nor the other.
Yet I think that there is a solution for the smaller territories. It involves the recognition that a new framework of relations must be devised. After all, the Colonial Office no longer runs the Colonial Empire. More than three-quarters of the Legislatures have unofficial majorities. All it does is to provide finance and to provide expertise and guidance in a way which I think is appreciated in the Colonies.
Indeed, the Colonial Office is really a bit of a misnomer. I suggest that we should change its name. I believe that we ought to get rid of the word "Colonial." It implies subordination, and it no longer has any relevance to the times in which we live. I think, too, that we should quite definitely hold out to all small territories which desire it the prospect of full internal self-government and the proud status of an island or city state.
Why should not the Falkland Islands, peopled with folk of British stock, be the Island State of the Falkland Islands or the Principality of the Falkland Islands? 1236 Why should it not be able to join, even as a small unit, in the honoured circle of the Commonwealth of Nations? Why not frankly acknowledge that even the smallest of peoples can reach an honoured and an appropriate place in our Commonwealth circle?
It is probably true that, unlike other colonial systems, ours has been more flexible. Unlike the French colonial system it does not seek unification at the expense of diversity. Nevertheless—and my argument, I hope, adds up to this—our system is not flexible enough. We are now entering a crucial and dangerous phase in which, I suggest, a far more imaginative approach and a much deeper understanding of the psychology of the colonial peoples is necessary. I am fortified in the knowledge that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary is, more than any of his predecessors, equipped to face such a period of change.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
It would, perhaps, seems a little ungracious to query some of the things which the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) has said, because he has said a great deal with which, I am sure, hon. Members on both sides of the House agree. But when he referred to the fact that he feared—to quote a certain gentleman—what are called the "in-between times," I queried that in my mind, because, in my view, all times are in-between.
I think that the hon. Gentleman was merely stating in another way a fact which I hope we all accept, that life itself is a continual development and challenge. There is nothing static about it. It is dynamic all the time, and the problems that face us today come to us not merely because they arise out of our own good will, and not merely because, in every case, we necessarily want to solve them. They come to us as a challenge from peoples who, in many cases, were conquered by force.
In most cases we maintained our power by force; and in most cases our presence in their territories was due to the desire for personal acquisition and wealth. That is largely true of the history of British colonialism. We now face problems arising from our seeking to undo many 1237 of the things which in the past we did badly and wrongly. We are trying, to some extent, to carry out a policy of reparation.
As I know that other hon. Members wish to speak I shall not further pursue the very engaging line of thought which the hon. Gentleman opened up for me. I am certain that were he and I to talk the matter over quietly he would not disagree a great deal or fundamentally with what I have sketchily put before the House.
§ Mr. Braine
I would not, of course, follow the hon. Member entirely. The profit and greed motive has not been entirely responsible for the establishment of the British Empire. The hon. Member forgets the work of his own great countryman, David Livingstone, in opening up darkest Africa.
§ Mr. Rankin
I agree; nor do I forget what followed in his trail. It is an historical fact that during the reign of Queen Victoria—over 60 years—we fought 40 wars in India, Asia and Africa, and so built up the British Empire. In that way we helped to lay the foundations of the Commonwealth. Today, I admit, we are largely animated by the desire to do good. How far that is due to conscience and how far to wisdom in the changing times in which we live I leave to the hon. Gentleman to decide.
§ Mr. Rankin
As long as we meet in the end I suppose we shall both be happy.
There are one or two items in the Colonial Office Report to which the Minister of State referred. I have already referred to one in a Question, and I shall have something to say about it later. The Minister of State outlined what had been done in the Colonial Empire for the development of civil aviation. We all want to see that service expanded, but one sees, in page 65 of the Report, the statement:In West Africa an experiment is being made with one-class services at the low rate of approximately 6d. per seat mile.Had it not been for the word "low" I should have made no comment. I have here an airways ticket for the journey from London to Glasgow. It costs £6 8s. If that ticket were sold at what has been 1238 called the low rate referred to in the Report the price would be £10. Is that a low rate? I hope that the Minister will be able to explain why it is so called. It is difficult to imagine that, at such a price, air travel can be largely patronised by the ordinary West Africans. It is a service which, having regard to their social conditions and wage rates as compared with our own, must in every sense be largely above their heads.
Page 76 of the Report deals with education—and here I am sure I shall have the support of the hon. Member for Essex, South-East. The Minister of State said that there is no great reason for complacency. I welcome that admission. There is not. The population of the Colonial Empire is about 60 million and, according to the Report, for that population of 60 million all that we are at present providing are three universities with a student roll of a little over 2,000 students. There are four university colleges, and that gives a total attending both types of institutions of 4,000 students.
No hon. Member can be complacent or feel happy about this state of affairs in the education of these people whom we want to lead to that state of political and economic advancement which will enable us to say to them, "You are now fit to run your own affairs in your own way." This is worse than a snail's crawl, when 4,000 students out of 60 million are presently being fitted to assume the great task of governing the nations to which, ultimately, they may belong.
In view of the obvious lack of education at the higher level, the question of extra-mural work in our Colonial Teritories which I have pursued on one or two occasions in this House, becomes very important indeed. We recognise that we cannot wave a wand and create a university overnight. We had a long time in which to do these things but until we had a great Labour Pary the conscience of Toryism was very slow to respond. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tut, tut."] That is the issue which faces us tonight, and to some extent we are paying for the years which the Tories allowed the locusts to eat away. I pay no attention to the hon. Member who said "Tut, tut"; he has not been with us long.
1239 Although we cannot create a university overnight, we can do something by way of resident tutors at places like Makerere. I have been urging that work on the extra-mural side should be expanded. As the Minister of State knows, in Uganda that is functioning very well indeed, and at present I believe the quinquennial estimates for Tanganyika are under consideration.
I hope that the appointment of a resident tutor for Tanganyika, attached to Makerere, will be favourably considered. It has been done in Kenya through the help of the Carnegie Foundation. There is no reason why we should not complete the process which is working well in Uganda and in Kenya, and carry out that beneficent work in Tanganyika also. I ask the Minister of State if there is any reason why it should not be extended to Zanzibar.
It is the avowed policy of the Government to make Makerere the instrument of higher adult education through the medium of English and, pending provision of university colleges and universities, there is no reason why we should not seek to expand the extra-mural work of the colleges. I urge the Minister of State to press that on the Governments of East Africa. I know that his power in the matter is somewhat limited, although I imagine that in Tanganyika it must be almost complete as Tanganyika is a Trust Territory and I take it we are responsible to the United Nations for what happens there.
I wish briefly to put a question on a point which was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) in opening the debate. That is the question of what is happening in Nyasaland. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) pursued that matter a little further. I wish to associate myself with the protest which has been made at the treatment of that African State. I think the proposals for the Legislative Council and the lack of representation on the Executive Council are to be deplored. I ask the Minister of State whether, before the proposals for Nyasaland were decided upon, the Central African Federal Government were consulted? Are they to have a say in future in determining the nature of 1240 whatever constitutional proposals may be embarked upon for surrounding States?
There is a point about Kenya which has not been touched on a great deal today. We all deplore the failure of the surrender talks with the Mau Mau leaders. We should note that these talks were started—or, at least, were offered—last January by the leaders of Mau Mau. I think it will be agreed that had they succeeded they would practically have ended the fighting, and the state of emergency would no longer be required. Those leaders who were engaged in the talks controlled a sufficiently large and cohesive part of Mau Mau to have prevented any further fighting had the talks succeeded.
What is the cause which has led to the end of the talks? I know that various reasons have been given. We have been told, for example, that the Africans asked for more time for discussion but were refused. Is that true? Did the Kenya authorities insist on unconditional surrender? Were the African terms rejected unconditionally? These are points on which we ought to have an answer tonight. Is it the case that when the African terms were rejected the military operations were immediately intensified?
Is it not possible to resume negotiations without loss of face? I know that the problem of authority always arises; someone has to give way and authority itself always feels that it lessens its power when it gives way. But when one looks at the tragic results of this war in Kenya, one sees that 278,560 people have been arrested, prosecuted and so on, up to 12th February this year. Eight hundred and sixty-one Africans have been executed, 266 of whom were convicted of murder. This means that during the period of the emergency 600 Africans have been executed for some sort of so-called crime created by the emergency itself and not associated with the capital offence of murder. The number of Africans at present under detention is practically 67,000.
When one thinks of the tremendous cost that that must be inflicting on the economy of Kenya, and of the fact that that is only possible because the British Government, by loans and by aid, have been maintaining the Kenya Government in carrying out this policy, surely, in view of all those things, it is possible, by some 1241 method or other, to try to ensure that these negotiations are not abandoned altogether and that this state of warfare, with its horrible consequences, is terminated in East Africa.
What terms did the Africans propose? Does the Secretary of State know? Can we be allowed to judge them? Can he tell us exactly what the terms were which have been rejected by the Kenya Government? I hope that when the Secretary of State replies to the debate he will give us some indication of what they were. I do not think that hon. Members in any part of the House are prepared—and I hope the Government are not—to prosecute this war on terms of unconditional surrender.
One of my hon. Friends, speaking about Malaya, said that at some time and in some place we should have to sit down to talk over these matters. I would say to the Government, about these Kenya negotiations which have broken down—for the moment I hope—"Do not abandon them altogether, and tell us exactly what the terms proposed were, and what was said in reply to them." I would urge the Government to resume the talks because East Africa, like the world, needs peace, and I hope that the Government will do everything possible to ensure that she gets it.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Sir Albert Braithwaite (Harrow, West)
I hope that the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the last arguments he put to the House. I am sure he knows he has the sympathy of everybody in the sentiments he expressed, and that we all hope for a very speedy termination of the difficulties that have arisen in Kenya. My object is to talk on the economic side of our colonial development.
I believe that we have an essential duty to do in the establishment of the means of communication and the preparation of industrial effort in order that we can raise the standard of life in the different parts of the world for which we are responsible. I believe that with this new Parliament we are on the verge of a new era, and I believe that the Secretary of State has a new duty to perform. We have to rewrite the charter of Commonwealth development, to write it in a new form, and to bring to bear on Commonwealth 1242 problems all the practical brains and finance that the Commonwealth as a whole has available to it.
I am astounded at the trade figures of the Colonial Empire: 80 million people do a trade of only £1,232 million, which is a bare 6s. a week for each of all those people employed. Why is it that we cannot do more? We are sitting on the biggest reserve of mineral wealth there is in the world, and it ought to be exploited to the fullest extent. Of one thing I am quite sure. Unless we tackle colonial development more vigorously than we are, we shall not maintain the Welfare State in this country. Those 80 million people have a great deal to contribute to our economy, as we have a great deal to contribute to theirs. If we can raise them to a new purchasing power, we shall find opportunities for better maintaining more people and more and more of our industrial activity at full strength here.
What are we going to do about it? I know that the Secretary of State and the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs have had to struggle in the past few years on very low rations so far as Government money for colonial development is concerned, but now we have a booming Britain and the world expects us to face our responsibilities in the Colonial Empire. There are so many things to be done. I speak from practical experience, because companies in which I am interested are working in some of the danger spots to which my right hon. Friend referred today. A company I am interested in is building the new base in Cyprus. I would say to hon. Members, do not be too alarmed at the Cyprus situation. My company employs more people in Cyprus than any other unit there. These people are very satisfied with the way things are going and would hate to see us disappear from Cyprus. They are getting good wages, proper hours and proper conditions. We are giving those things to them from this country. I say quite frankly that if some disorganisation there chased us out of Cyprus the country would be very much poorer for a very much longer time.
§ Mr. F. Noel-Baker
What is the purpose of having a military base in Cyprus when relations with our Allies in that part of the world are getting so bad that joint military exercises are having to be cancelled?
§ Sir A. Braithwaite
They are not getting too bad for that. There is a great deal of exaggeration in these statements, and it ill becomes hon. Members to exaggerate—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
The hon. Member ought not to intervene unless the hon. Member who has the Floor of the House gives way.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I thank the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) for giving way. Is he aware that at this very moment joint exercises involving our Forces, Greek forces and other forces, which should have taken place under the auspices of N.A.T.O., an exercise called "Medflex 3," has been cancelled, and that the Mediterranean Fleet should have been visiting Greek waters now and that that visit has been cancelled?
§ Sir A. Braithwaite
I am not aware that it has been cancelled for those reasons. I am saying from experience in Cyprus and experience of working with Cypriots that they are not unfriendly to us and that they like the way in which we conduct our relations with them in that island. I hope that we shall be able more and more to establish their confidence, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies will impress upon our Greek friends that they can help with his difficulties there if they are willing to do so.
In British Guiana, where we are building a new irrigation canal, I find, in spite of the difficulties of the British Guiana Government, that the people there are very friendly towards us and that they know that we are doing a job which will make that island very much more self-sufficient economically. They are, therefore, prepared to go to a great deal of trouble to try to help in arranging for these plans to be carried out. I have also the good luck to be associated with the building of the new Tema Harbour in the Gold Coast. There again, we are making friends all the time. It might interest the House to know that I have 60 people from the Gold Coast coming to this country to learn and to be trained in our administration in England. They are to be sent back to the Gold 1244 Coast with the experience which they gain here.
I want to impress upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies my belief that he has a unique opportunity. I want him to write a new charter for the Commonwealth during the next few years. A special responsibility rests upon this side of the House now, because we have a complete majority in the House of Commons to carry these things through—not that there is any division of opinion in the House on a scheme for colonial development. The Chancellor of the Exchequer must try to do his best to enable these plans to be carried out. We are certainly responsible for the essential services in all these places overseas, and without these services new industry cannot be built.
I ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies to consider also setting up a committee drawn from all the big business interests and trade unions in this country to advise him. A committee of that kind could see whether proper plans could not be devised for industrial developments in these territories. The present survey party is totally inadequate to carry out the necessary industrial services which are required.
I am perfectly certain that many of these great firms would provide my right hon. Friend with the staff to help discover where economic developments can be carried out to the advantage not only of the Colony concerned but of the world at large if finance is made available to enable those who are interested to go ahead. But we do need more opportunities for these trained and educated people from the Colonial Empire to go into industry on a broader scale. We shall never make anything of it if we leave them on the land. They have to be brought into industry, taught how to run it, and given a chance to develop.
I wanted to say one other thing to the Secretary of State. Mention has been made of the fact that it was necessary for our younger people to go out to the different parts of the Colonial Empire and assist in leading and training people. If that is so, we have got to make it a practical proposition for these young people. If we take them away from this country they leave behind the benefits they have built up in the Welfare State, and if they come back with sums of 1245 money which they have saved they find themselves subject to burdensome taxation.
In the Colonial Service pensions and special allowances are given for people going abroad. I should like to see some opportunities of relief in the same direction given to those young people whom industrialists are able to persuade to go abroad and help in this work, so that, if they save for the time, when they come home they will be able to enjoy that saving. It is vital that we should get the best elements from our young people to go out and do something of this character, but they will not leave what they have got here in the form of security for conditions which in many places are particularly difficult and sometimes disagreeable unless the conditions are made more attractive.
I am glad that this debate has taken place in the early part of this Parliament. If ever there were an opportunity for this country to show what it can do for our Colonial Empire, the time is now. There never was such unity in the House on what we ought to do. If we maintain the prosperity of this country on the present scale, we shall be able to do things which will stagger the world.
I am sorry to see that the Rhodesians had to go to America to try and borrow the money for the Kariba Dam, which is the basis of the whole future of the Federation. It is a great pity that these £40-odd million could not be raised in the City of London instead of having to go to the other side of the Atlantic, because, if one goes there, there is some quid pro quo.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I think it would be a mistake if the impression got about that we were not in a position or ready to raise money for these many important schemes, but the intense pressure on the market in London is such that there has to be a form of queueing, which is regrettable but inevitable. It does not argue any lack of interest or readiness.
§ Sir A. Braithwaite
I did not suggest my right hon. Friend had any lack of sympathy or interest in this matter, but I think there is a measure of impatience on the other side which has probably accelerated the drift to America to see what could be accomplished. I earnestly hope that we can do as much as possible 1246 in this connection, because every big project that we get means a lot of business for our heavy engineering industry at home, which we really need.
One-third of every job carried out by British constructors is in the form of plant with which the job is done. These are very big things about which I am talking tonight, and I know that serious consideration has been given and is being given to them by the Colonial Office. But I venture to suggest to it that the British constructional industry can carry out any of the major jobs of work in the world that are entrusted to it, and it is ready to do so. However, we do not always find it easy to get in when the finances come from other countries.
I conclude by wishing my right hon. Friend in this Parliament great success with colonial development. It is probably the most important thing that this Government will have to tackle. I know that they have the wide sympathy of people of all parties, not only in Parliament but throughout the country. I am sure that with the great experience, knowledge and adaptability of my right hon. Friend there will be a new era in this development and that it will be something of which we in this country can be proud.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
We on this side of the House have listened with some interest to the observations of the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) about colonial development and his plea for the British constructional industry, even if many of us have an approach to these problems rather different from his.
I do not want to introduce a controversial note into the debate at this stage, and I should like to thank the Secretary of State for the Colonies for the kind personal words he said earlier this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to indulge in what he described as an irregularity by giving us a little advance warning of what he would say at the end of this debate, and he indicated that he would make remarks about Cyprus which would disappoint me and some of my hon. Friends. I am afraid that if the right hon. Gentleman makes the kind of remarks that he indicated we shall not be the only people 1247 to be disappointed, and I am hoping that it may not be necessary for him to make a negative statement or merely to repeat the statement which he made in the last debate before the General Election.
We appreciate that this problem is a difficult and complicated one. We appreciate that the responsibility for its solution is divided between the Ministry of which he is in charge and the Foreign Office. We have had high hopes that at some stage in the near future Her Majesty's Government will try to make a new approach, to get a better atmosphere in the Eastern Mediterranean, and to give the people of Cyprus and our Allies grounds for thinking that this problem can eventually be settled in a satisfactory and honourable way for all concerned.
If that is so, we understand that the Government have to take their time, that they have to choose the right moment for whatever they intend to do. It might be unfortunate, therefore, if the Secretary of State were in a position tonight to make only a negative statement. Could I not ask him, with great humility, whether it would not be better if he made no statement at all? Certainly we on this side of the House, in anticipation of some move by the Government during the next few weeks, would much prefer not to have a statement which did not contribute to an easing of the tension in the eastern Mediterranean rather than to have merely a repetition of what has been said in the past. Therefore, I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to do what he can not to make a tense situation in that part of the world more difficult than it already is.
It is a lamentable fact that our relations with the Greeks have become rather bad, and I do not in any way condone some of the mischievous activities of organs of the Greek Government. It is a sad fact that their relations with the Turks have become very bad, that American relations with the Greeks have become bad, that military exercises of great importance in the eastern Mediterranean have had to be cancelled because of tension over the future of the island of Cyprus.
Therefore I plead once again with the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, if he is not able to give an indication of some new move, at least to confine 1248 what he has to say to as few and as helpful remarks as it is possible for him to make.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
before engaging in any controversial matters which I may raise, I should like to say how much I welcomed—I think all hon. Members on this side of the House did—the maiden speeches of the hon. Members for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) and Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn). Many of us agreed profoundly with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Gravesend, and I hope we shall often hear him again, particularly if he is going to take the kind of line which he took today. Of the other hon. Member, the unprovocative Scotsman from Central Ayrshire and Rhodesia, I will only say that if the delightful speech to which we listened was unprovocative, I think we are in for something remarkable when he ceases to make maiden speeches and really becomes provocative.
We are coming towards the end of our debate on colonial problems. It is strange that so far we have had no statement from the Secretary of State or the Minister of State on any controversial political issues. It may well be that the Secretary of State will bring them in later, in which case it will be rather unfortunate in that no one from this side of the House will have any time in which to answer him.
The Minister of State said that there was no great reason for complacency, but we had from him what many of us regarded as a very complacent speech. It was a quiet, peaceful and amiable speech. It is the task of Government to calm atmospheres and make everything plain sailing, and that is what the right hon. Gentleman did very successfully. I do not know what the Secretary of State is going to do, but if he starts any further controversy, I hope that at some future time there will be another debate in which we may have an opportunity of replying to him.
We have had this one-day debate on the Colonies. Since the new Parliament re-assembled, we have had a number of days of debate upon the effects of the General Election upon the United Kingdom. We are today discussing the effects of the result of the General Election upon 1249 the Colonies, which will be very definite and profound. The people of the Colonies did not take any part in the General Election and did not have an opportunity of voting in it, but their lives will be affected just as much as, and in some cases perhaps more than, the lives of the people of this country who returned a Conservative Government to power.
It is said that the aims of both parties in colonial problems are exactly the same. There is considerable doubt about that. The Minister said that there is universal agreement on the aims that we are seeking to achieve. There is indeed universal agreement that we all want increased prosperity in the Colonies, but I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite—I am afraid that we must sometimes remind them of it, although it is past history—that it is largely because of the lack of development before the war when there were Conservative Governments that the Colonies are as poor as they are today.
§ Mr. Dugdale
It is unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true. When money was available, it was not spent. It was only in the time of the Coalition Government during the war that the first steps were taken, by way of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, to give the Colonies the help they needed if they were to begin developing themselves.
I should like to deal, not so much with the question of whether there shall be prosperity in the Colonies as with the question of who is to share in the prosperity, because that seems to be a matter of profound importance. Just as in this country we have a policy of more equal sharing for all, so the Labour Party policy for the Colonies is that there should be a greater degree of sharing of prosperity than I imagine hon. Members opposite envisage.
We have all recently been concerned at the great railway strike. We have heard something about the conditions in which engine drivers in this country work. Whatever case there may be for an increase in the wages of engine drivers, and indeed in the wages of factory operatives and in the wages of farm workers in this country, it is, if I may say so, nothing when compared with the case for an increase in the wages of their opposite numbers in the Colonies.
1250 In Singapore, for example, the average wage of all manual workers in 1953 was £3 10s. weekly. But that was a princely wage compared with those in many other Colonies. In Sierra Leone, the wage of building trade workers is 18s. 7d. a week; in St. Vincent—to take three quite different parts of the Colonial Empire—suar workers work an eight-hour day for Empire—sugar sum of 4s. per day—that is for men—women get a lower rate than that. We think that these wages are not satisfactory, and we think that there is no reason why they should be as low as they are.
One of the reasons why they are low is because industry in the Colonies is not as highly developed as it is here. But that is not the only thing. In this country we have a great trade union movement that has been built up over a long period. The Minister said that trade unions in the Colonies were growing, and I have no doubt that they are, but we on this side of the House find it a little difficult to believe that we can trust the present Government to develop them in the same degree as we ourselves have tried to develop them in the Colonies and, indeed, as they have been developed in this country.
After all, we remember that when the trade unions in this country were just starting, the Conservative Party was not very helpful in building them up. The Conservative Party did not do very much, for instance, to help them in the middle of the nineteenth century, or even when it came to introducing the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act, 1927.
We have seen today a very revealing state of affairs in the discussion on the seamen's unofficial strike, when some hon. Members opposite seemed only too anxious to take every opportunity to see that not only that but other strikes were stopped by means which have never been used in this country before. Those are the people whom we find it difficult to believe will build up great trade union movements in the Colonies. It may be that they will, but we think it seems highly improbable that they will build them up in the way in which we would have built them up had we been in power after the election.
I turn now to consideration of social services. By and large, social services were started at the time of the war. There were very few before that. It is 1251 true that there were educational developments, but most were run by the missions, It is true, too, that there were medical developments, but most were run by missions and very few were run by the Government, as they are today. Let us think what it would have been if there had been real public, educational and medical services.
The hon. Member for Gravesend would no doubt have liked a situation in Malaya, as indeed all of us would, in which there had been such successful social services and such a successful wage system that there would have been no development of the unrest which we have there today. It is perfectly fair to say that had conditions in Malaya been better, as a result of these developments in earlier days, there would have been far less chance of the unrest that there is there today.
§ Mr. Beresford Craddock (Spelthorne)
The right hon. Gentleman has said a great deal about the low wages paid in the Colonies. We all want to see them increased but, as he knows, in the Kongwa groundnut scheme, a Government scheme, the wage paid to the workers in Tanganyika was only 1s. a day—30s. a month.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Generally speaking—and I think that the Secretary of State will bear me out in this—the wages paid by the Kongwa Development Corporation were the highest, and certainly those paid by the Colonial Development Corporation are the highest, wages paid in the district. They are not immensely higher, but they are the highest level of wages in the particular district.
I have referred to wages and to social services in Malaya, and I have mentioned the effect which they have had. I turn to another group of Colonies, the West Indies. We have all been very concerned lately at the growing number of immigrants arriving in this country from the West Indies. It would be as well, however, to put the matter in proportion. I understand that during the past three years 18,400 people have arrived from the West Indies, whereas 31,400 have arrived from India and Pakistan, and from something that is lumped together rather generally as "foreign countries"—I do not quite know what that includes—no fewer than 55,000 have arrived. 1252 That puts the position in a very much better proportion than it is sometimes put in some newspapers.
Nevertheless, this is a problem, and we must discuss why these people are coming here. The reason is plain enough. They see what conditions are like in this country. They see full employment and a system of social security, and they see that in their own country there is neither. They think, therefore, that they want to come over here, and who can blame them for doing so? It is a very natural reaction on their part. The only way in which we can stop their desire to come here in numbers which may be larger than we think we can absorb at once is by improving conditions in the West Indies.
We now have the great good fortune of the visit to this country of a Socialist Prime Minister of Jamaica. We on this side of the House think that it is unfortunate that he does not come to meet a Socialist Secretary of State for the Colonies; but he does not; he comes to meet the right hon. Gentleman. The Secretary of State says, and we believe him, that he will do everything possible to help him. I do not know what the Prime Minister of Jamaica intends to ask for. He obviously will ask for something which will cost a considerable sum of money because, without the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, conditions cannot be improved.
There are two things which I think he will want to do. I imagine that he must want the development of both private and public enterprise. I have no doubt that the Secretary of State will help him to develop private enterprise. I have a little doubt, considering the sentiments expressed by some hon. Members opposite, whether he will give him quite the same help in the development of public enterprise. Public enterprise can play a big part in development in the West Indies. There is already much taking place there, both by the Colonial Development Corporation and by different public enterprises in various islands.
I hope that there may be greater public development, and that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us that he intends to tell the Prime Minister of Jamaica that he will help as much in the development of public as he will in the develop- 1253 ment of private enterprise. The only answer to the Prime Minister of Jamaica which we can find in the Gracious Speech, however, is that the Conservative Party is pledge to end the bulk purchase of sugar. Bad as may be the conditions today in Jamaica and in the rest of the West Indies, we maintain that they would be infinitely worse had we never made the Agreement by which there is a guaranteed price for sugar coming from the West Indies and which gives a stability that never existed before the war.
I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like to be reminded of conditions before the war. But it was the exponents of Conservative freedom who said, "Let us buy in the cheapest markets and get the sugar where we can. It does not matter what happens to the West Indies." What happened to the West Indies was that there was an appalling amount of unemployment and great poverty; and as a consequence, the country has not been built up in the way in which it would have been, had conditions been better at an earlier date.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us the intention of the Government regarding guaranteed prices, and whether he intends to abolish the bulk purchase scheme. How does he intend to guarantee that adequate prices are paid? Will it be by some kind of subsidy, or in what way? I think that we have a right to know, and I hope that he will tell us.
Mention of public enterprise leads me to discuss the Colonial Development Corporation. When we introduced the Bill setting up this Corporation, hon. Members on this side of the House intended it to be a body which would engage in enterprises throughout the Colonies, particularly in places where private enterprise had failed. Strange as it may seem to hon. Members opposite, private enterprise, in fact, failed in quite a number of places. Sometimes, from what is said by hon. Members opposite, it would seem that the first failure by any kind of enterprise anywhere in the Colonies was that of the groundnut scheme. There were, in fact, plenty of private enterprise failures before that, and plenty of places where there was a failure to do anything at all.
We have all heard of the difficulties of The Gambia egg scheme—[Laughter.] 1254 Hon. Members may laugh but we did not hear of private enterprise doing anything to develop The Gambia: it left it to rot year after year.
We wish to know the policy of the Government regarding the Colonial Development Corporation. So far as we can see, instead of the Corporation itself developing concerns, it is now becoming a kind of banking organisation for the lending of money at cheap rates either to public or to private business. What is to be its future?
I will pass now to another matter about which we have some doubt regarding the bona fides of the Conservative Government. We have heard of the great development of the Co-operative movement. It is interesting that there should be such enthusiasm for it among Conservatives, considering what they have said about the Co-operative movement in this country. We remember the talk about taxation and how unfair it was that the Co-operative movement was "getting away with it" in regard to taxes that private enterprise had to pay. We wonder if there is any genuine love by the Conservatives for the Co-operative movement in the Colonies. It may be that there is, but we entertain grave doubts about it.
We do not rely on the Conservative Government to try to develop the Cooperative movement as we started to develop it during the term of office of the Labour Government. I agree that certainly there was some co-operative development. There was the famous Co-operative at Mount Kilimanjaro, due to the enterprise of a great man who did fine work there, and who was honoured in the whole of that district.
By and large, however, there was little development of the movement in the Colonies until the Labour Government sent out Co-operative officers to stimulate its growth. It has grown very successfully. I understand, for instance, that in Uganda today there are about a thousand co-operatives, many of which are quite large. I hope that I shall be proved wrong, and that the Conservative Government will develop these co-operative societies and will do as much as we should have done. Owing to their record on co-operative matters in this country, however, I find it very hard to believe.
1255 I have referred almost entirely to economic differences, but there are many political differences as well. The most important move made by the Conservative Government while in power, and one which had the most effect on the lives of the largest number of people in any Colony, was the move to set up the Federation of Rhodesia. I do not want to discuss that matter at length now because it has been discussed a great deal already.
§ Mr. Dugdale
The right hon. Gentleman says that it would be out of order, but I am not at all certain about that. I think that it would be quite in order to comment on it, but I see, Mr. Speaker, that you have come in, and I should not dream of doing it at the moment. What we want to be certain of is that this is not just the beginning of further acts of the same kind.
We believe it to be vitally important that the Government should make it abundantly clear that there is no intention whatsoever of setting up a similar federation for East Africa. After all, none of us can forget the speech made by Lord Chandos which did untold harm in East Africa. It was a speech which should never have been made, and one which cannot be contradicted too often. I hope that the Secretary of State will make it perfectly clear that the Conservative Government have no intention of once again imposing federation upon a group of Colonies against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the peoples in them, just because the overwhelming majority happens to be the wrong colour.
Now a few words on Cyprus. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) was wise in suggesting to the Secretary of State that it was better to make no statement at all than to make a wrong statement. We hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the people of Cyprus have as much right to eventual self-government as any other colonial peoples, and that they shall not be debarred from that right because military considerations are involved, as we gathered from the speech 1256 made by the Minister of State some little time ago.
We do not want the people of Cyprus to think that they are to be put into a special category and not allowed to have the rights enjoyed by peoples in other Colonies merely because of military considerations. It is surely better, as we have found in Egypt, to have military bases among friendly people than to impose them by force majeure on people who do not want them.
I hope that, when he replies to the debate, the Secretary of State will deal with the question of Cyprus and will say something to undo the harm done by the remarks of the Minister of State when he suggested that the people of Cyprus were to be put into this special category and deprived of rights similar to those enjoyed by other colonial peoples.
As I say, I have dealt mainly with economic questions and with only a few political questions, but I think that I have given enough examples to show that there is a deep cleavage of opinion in Colonial affairs, just as there is in home affairs, between hon. Members on this side of the House and hon. Members opposite.
I think that during the next four or five years that gulf will be widened. Tory reaction will undoubtedly develop—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course it will. What is the object in having this famous majority of 59 if it is not to do the things which the party opposite could not do when it had a small majority? That is what it is for. We shall see signs of it here and, I think, in the Colonies too. We shall fight this reaction day by day—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, we shall fight it. We know what Tory reaction is. We have seen it over and over again in the past, but the Tories have not, during the last three years, had a majority big enough to carry out the reactionary policy they have wanted to carry out.
In the case of the Colonies we shall fight Tory reaction in defence of many millions of people throughout the British Commonwealth who cannot defend themselves, but who must be defended in this House if they are to survive it.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
We have had a very useful debate, and there have been 1257 many excellent speeches. I hope that the form which the debate has taken, and its resemblance for most of the time to a Council of State, has not too much displeased the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale). I have recently seen one of his more vigorous effusions in the "Star" newspaper—"Opposition must get tough." That is, get tough with the Tories—a variant on the theme "Keep the Tories tame." We have now had an exhibition of the toughness, and I would ask any of my hon. Friends whether they feel very much the worse for it. I believe that it was the great Abbé Sieyès who, when asked what he did during the French Revolution, replied, "I survived." I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we can survive all the toughness in the world if that is all it is.
In this article the right hon. Gentleman said that it was a responsibility of the Socialist Opposition to oppose "all day and every day." May I ask if that is without any regard whatever to the merits of the Government proposals, to the issues that may be involved or to the places where the story may be worked out?
§ Mr. Dugdale
What I said was that that is what the Conservative Opposition did, and I think that they were very wise in doing so. That is what they themselves did.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I would not deny that in every task to which we set our hands we do it infinitely better than the party opposite. But that is not the only theme running through this article. To oppose all the day and every day without regard to the issues—what a very exhausting and, at times, thoroughly unprofitable exercise. In actual words, in this article the right hon. Gentleman derided responsibility and statesmanship as being not suitable to an Opposition anxious to get on. I must say that the country and, I venture to think, the vast majority of all the colonial peoples in every corner of the Commonwealth much prefer to the line advocated by the right hon. Gentleman some words recently used by his own predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Listowel, who was Minister of State immediately before him—and, I think, to 1258 the right hon. Gentleman now sitting beside him.There is no substantial difference"—said Lord Listowel only a week or two ago:between the Parties about the aims of Commonwealth and Colonial policy. That is a state of affairs which has continued for a considerable time;".It started, if I may say so, in what in some Colonial Territories they call the B.D. period—the before-Dugdale period. I have been the happy recìpient of many welcome tributes when I arrived in the A.D. period. The noble Lord went on:It is highly desirable, and I hope it will go on."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 15th June, 1955; Vol. 193, c. 159.]But he made it quite plain that where there was a genuine difference of opinion they would naturally take up their own independent line on matters on which they felt conscientiously. I certainly would not want an Opposition that never took an independent line.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I hope that we shall not get it. I say to the hon. Member, who is making a very cheery effort to buck up his right hon. Friend, that we never had any reason to doubt the vigour with which he holds his views, their sincerity or the sincerity of his tributes to those with whom he is at variance.
The right hon. Member quoted a great many figures about wage rates being paid in certain Colonial Territories. The effect of quotations of that kind is grossly misleading when there is no reference whatever to the local cost of living or any other local circumstances, but he is ready that people in his constituency and other areas should gauge those wage rates and judge them in relationship with the wage rates of the United Kingdom.
He also said that the social services in the Colonies virtually begun in the war, a most sweeping inaccuracy. That was a little libel on many thousands of devoted pioneers who, in comparison with the right hon. Member, have done a great deal to help forward racial understanding throughout the world.
§ Mr. Dugdale
What I said was in relation to public social service. I paid tribute to the missionaries, naturally, for the very fine work they did.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I do not agree with that either. We all are recipients of a social service, but I would be concerned about the quality, whether it was called a public or a private social service. We are all for raising public standards, but surely the cause of raising the standard is not helped by quoting odd figures of that kind or by some of the perversions of history to which the right hon. Member lent himself.
Having read history with the right hon. Member at Oxford and shared some of the same tutors, I am staggered at his ignorance of what really happened. No doubt the extra success I got in Imperial affairs by winning a prize at Oxford is due to the fact that the tutors must have concentrated on me as a more hopeful subject than the right hon. Member. I am all for a civilised approach to problems of race and colour, and I regret certain goings-on in the constituency of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich. I hope, despite this evidence that his presence there has not led to local education, he will not give up the good work but will do what he can there before he claims to set the world to rights.
A large number of questions have been asked in the course of this debate, and I will do my best to answer as many as I can. A great many of the issues raised dealt with matters which are now the subject of confidential discussions between my colleagues and I with welcome visitors from the overseas territories. At the moment I am engaged on many of these urgent talks. I believe that never before in our history have so many Governors and deputations been in London at one and the same time. That is not due to dissatisfaction—I give that to the right hon. Member, because he might have thought of it first—but to the fact that we have had a spring Election. During the period of the Election, it was naturally quite out of the question for those deputations to be given the serious attention they deserved. It was also due to another consideration, which I hope the right hon. Member would regard as a good constitutional one—that for a period before the Election I refrained from receiving deputations from the Colonial Territories wherever possible because I did not want to take any decision which, in the almost inconceivable event of the Election going wrong, 1260 might not be upheld by a Socialist Government, even if it were formed by people who so far as possible tried to keep colonial affairs out of party politics.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
That is not the view of this House by a majority, nor, I venture to think, the view of the majority of people in the Colonial Territories.
Now, we have over here—and I should like once more to welcome them and to welcome them collectively—a large number of most welcome visitors. I am at the moment in close consultation with the delegation of the two parties from Malta that are represented in the Legislative Assembly: the Government Party—the Labour Party—of Malta and its Prime Minister, and the Nationalist Party led by Dr. Borg Olivier. I welcome them very much indeed, together with their advisers.
We have also two official delegations from Uganda and I shall refer briefly later to their equally welcome visit. We have a delegation from the West Indies who are over here in regard to the undertaking by Her Majesty's Government to help forward the prosperity of the banana industry; and after a reasonable period, this delegation will be followed by a deputation from the West Indies dealing with the citrus industry. The delegation that is here now is led by Mr. Manley, whom we have all been delighted to meet and who, I think, has impressed his character and personality on all who have been in touch with him.
Coming next week is the deputation from the Government of Sierra Leone. Indeed, the Chief Minister, Dr. Margai, whom I was glad to meet recently in Lagos, is already here. Shortly afterwards there will be a delegation from Mauritius. In or near London today there are 12 Governors, with whom I am, naturally, having talks.
The Governor-General of the Federation of Nigeria has just gone to take up his immensely important post as the Governor-General of a Federation of over 30 million people under the British Crown. I know that the good wishes of all of us go to him—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and our congratulations go to the people of Nigeria who will now enjoy his services. I should like 1261 to say what particular satisfaction it gave me to recommend his name to Her Majesty, not only because of his own personal qualities, but also because of the splendid achievements of his service in the Sudan, one of the great monuments for British integrity and efficiency in the world.
He has gone to Nigeria, but we have here now the Governors of Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya and the Gold Coast, the High Commissioner of Malaya, the Governor-Designate of Singapore and the Governors of North Borneo, British Honduras, Fiji, Gambia, British Guiana and Barbados. Indeed, glad as I am to see them all, I searched for a reason why they should all be here now. I went, like so many of us have often done, back to the writings of Mr. Leo Amery, who, when he was Colonial Secretary in 1929, noted thatThere can be no doubt that the needs of the Service make it much easier for Governors to be in or near London somewhere about the first Wednesday in June. That date"—he added—affords special opportunity for the study of animal husbandry in action.I have certainly a great deal of work to do at the moment, and I am delighted to do it, but, like all my predecessors, I must share the feelings of Lord Milner, a very distinguished Colonial Secretary, that we work undera system which does not separate the local and Imperial, the great and the small, and under which the pressure of day-to-day work prevents Ministers giving continuous thought and study to the vital, being eternally distracted by the local and the temporary,not that any of the problems on which these visitors are engaged could be described as local or temporary.
One of the vital problems, I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), is the future of the smaller territories. I promise him and other hon. Members opposite that I will study that most important theme with care. I deeply appreciate the generous words of my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine). I assure him that we recognise how many of our problems are concerned with questions of status and with the absolute need to build up peasant proprietorship and a middle class in Africa and elsewhere.
I much regret that I cannot answer all the questions which have been asked, 1262 and if I do not deal with the Colonial Development Corporation, it is perhaps, because, the time will come before very long when we can deal with its Annual Report. However, I should not like Lord Reith, the devoted Chairman of that body, and his colleagues to think that I share in any way one or two criticisms—not very fierce ones—that have been made of the policy of the C.D.C. If I do not deal with it, I hope that that will be understood.
I am glad that our Colonial Office Report on the Colonial Territories has come out today. That is purely by coincidence. No doubt an opportunity will arise—it does not depend upon me—at some future date to deal with that Report.
We have heard many very good speeches in this debate, and two quite outstanding, indeed memorable, maiden speeches, of which my hon. Friends may indeed be proud, by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) and my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn). The former said that this might be the last debate before the new elections in Malaya. That may be so. It may also be—though this is not so important—the last debate before I myself go to Malaya—after the elections are over, I can assure the House I leave for the Far East at the end of next month and go to Malaya and Singapore, Hong Kong, Sarawak, Brunei, and Borneo. My hon. Friend paid a deserved tribute to the Malayan Civil Service, and I know we would all echo it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire spoke of Rhodesia, and in his moving account of the problems and of the opportunities open to all races, and not least our own, set the pattern for a civilised approach to the problems of the future.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), who opened this debate, very kindly said he would not expect detailed answers to a number of question which, he knew, called for searching examination. One such question was the Report of the Royal Commission on East Africa. However, I should not like this opportunity to pass without thanking Sir Hugh Dow and his colleagues for their very great contribu- 1263 tion to the study of those problems. I think it was Lord Bailey who said that whenever anybody came up to him and said, "I find your report on Africa massive," he knew that that person did not intend to read it. That is certainly not true of Lord Hailey's devoted disciples, and it is certainly true that Sir Hugh Dow and his colleagues, as, I am sure, all of us will agree, have presented a fascinating contribution to the study of the problems of those territories. However, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, it will require a great deal of thought.
The right hon. Gentleman also said to me that he would not expect any definite statement about Uganda. I should like, however, to deal with what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich said about some observations made by Lord Chandos, I think at an East African dinner, when he was Secretary of State. My noble Friend used the words on that occasion, "Nor can we exclude from our minds the possibility as time goes on …" and then he referred to East Africa. Out of that a great legend has grown. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have lent himself to reviving once again the suggestion that we may be trying to bring about or preparing to bring about a federation in East Africa against the wishes of the inhabitants.
Dr. Jowitt of Oxford said that the first thing one had to do if one went into politics was to verify one's quotations. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had done that. I should not refer to this or think it worth answering were it not that I fear that if I do not refer to it it may be misunderstood, and so I here again categorically reiterate that there is no question whatever of posing a federation in East Africa against the wishes of the people of any territory.
In regard to the visitors who are here from Uganda, I should like to make a very brief comment. Progress has been made in the discussions between my advisers, the legal advisers of the Lukiko, and the Uganda Drafting Committee on the draft of the new Buganda agreement. The draft raises complicated legal issues, and these discussions have taken longer than I had hoped, and the stage was 1264 reached only this week when I could start discussions with the Drafting Committee on the points arising out of the draft. I am sure the House will not expect me to make any statement until the current talks are completed. I have asked the Governor to remain in London to take part in the talks. I will, of course, keep the House informed as soon as I have anything definite to say.
A number of hon. Members have asked questions about Cyprus. All I can say is that I am not in a position to add to the statement which I made on 5th May, in which, after a great deal of care, I drew a picture of the scene in Cyprus and its rôle in world strategy today.
The hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) asked me a number of questions about Malaya and Singapore. I frankly say that I regret the tone of his speech, as I made plain at the time. As to Malaya, the hon. Member must know what is going on there. It is part of a Communist conspiracy and not what he would have us believe—a local insurrection responsive to local treatment alone.
The hon. Member ought to know that the proposals for an amnesty were put forward by the U.M.N.O.-M.C.A. Alliance and these were discussed at the Director of Operations Committee in January when leading members of the Alliance were present. The Committee decided unanimously that no general amnesty should be offered and that the present surrender policy should be maintained and greater efforts should be made to induce the remaining terrorists to take advantage of it.
I am glad to say that the situation in Malaya is definitely improving and that the squeeze so long exercised by the security forces is proving increasingly successful and the position of Communist terrorists is becoming more and more difficult. As the House will also remember, the hon. Member for Bristol, Central referred to the riots and strikes in Singapore. I am sure that the House would agree with me that in a matter of this kind very great responsibility rests on the newly-elected democratic Government of Singapore. That Government can rely not only on the support of the vast majority of the law-abiding citizens of Singapore, but also on the full support of Her Majesty's Government in any steps which 1265 they take to keep that authority and maintain law and order.
They are faced, as we are faced, with a strong Communist-inspired movement trying to get contact with the trade unions and control of the trade unions and Chinese middle-school students, and engaged in the most unbridled attacks on the police, and in physical violence. I wish every success to the Government of Singapore who have been elected by democratic means. They have our full support in the tasks that lie ahead. The hon. Member for Bristol, Central also asked about strike leaders who have been locked up. He no doubt knows that in order to save their faces the people who are responsible for this wicked conspiracy have referred to the Government statement that under Emergency Regulations the police have to make out a case against the arrested men within 14 days. That answers the question which the hon. Member raised about the time limit involved.
Several hon. Members asked me questions about Kenya. There is a very definite improvement there. There is a great reduction in the number of civilians and loyalists attacked, and the ordinary African people in the Reserves and the farms are showing more and more hostility towards the gangs and increasingly assisting the Government against them. There has also been great progress in building villages in the Reserves, an invaluable security and social operation. We also aim at closer administration of native land units in the interests of the vast majority of African people who have not been affected by this vile conspiracy.
Side by side with this is the steady transfer o-f Kikuyu Guard to tribal police, tribal police reserve and special watch and ward groups, and the steady building of police forces as well. Indeed, we are glad that the police, in collaboration with the Administration, are solely responsible for law and order in the districts of Fort Hall and Thika and are preparing to extend the work elsewhere. There has also been a steady improvement in the facilities for rehabilitation, which is of first importance. My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East quite rightly stressed the need for agricultural education, and I am glad to say that all but two of the 50 European staff required for the Swynnerton plan have now been recruited.
1266 Since the House has been engaged on other activities there has been a statement about the withdrawal of the surrender offer, coupled with an extension of the powers of forfeiture of land, which has my full support. It extends the provisions of the forfeiture of land ordnance and empowers the Governor to make an order depriving all persons named in the schedule to the order of their existing land rights and rights to land. Let us pray that the use of these very strong measures may help to bring home to those still in the forest and at large the need to make an early submission.
A number of questions were asked by the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) about the terms of the surrender offer. The negotiations broke down after the terrorists had been given an extension of 48 hours to make their surrender, which previously they had agreed to do. It looks as if there were a split in the terrorist ranks and that the hard core hierarchy were imposing their will on the remainder at the last moment.
Negotiations like this can only be carried out in secrecy, so I could not possibly make any statement about any future negotiations that will take place. I am glad to tell the House that in regard to Kenya the Glenday Report on screening has now been completed and I intend to place a copy of it in the Library of the House of Commons. I think all of us who are anxious about the good name of Kenya and of our people will be delighted at the tone and terms of the Report.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths rose—
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am sorry but my time is limited.
I should like to draw the attention of all Members of the House to the recent judgment of Mr. Acting Justice Law, who drew attention to the high standard of discipline in Kenya which had been attained by the tribal police and the home guards in the Central Province and of their reluctance to kill even obvious terrorists if there was a chance of capturing them, sometimes at grave personal risk to themselves. He said:This state of affairs reflects the greatest credit on these members of the Administration and Police responsible for the training and control of the loyal Kikuyu forces, and gives me the confident hope that in due course, when the affairs of the Kikuyu people come to be 1267 finally settled after the Emergency is over, this will be done in a spirit of fairness, humanity and justice and not in one of spite and revenge.In view of the many sweeping statements about the conduct of justice in Kenya, which often are grossly exaggerated, I hope that that tribute will be welcome by hon. Members on all sides of the House. The hon. Member for Rugby asked me a question about Nyasaland.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Will the Secretary of State say something about the use of the death penalty in Kenya?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I cannot deal with everything.
I gave the problem of Nyasaland most searching examination, and I arrived at my decision only after most rigorous thought. When the hon. Gentleman spoke of a bold and adventurous approach, I was not then referring to a mathematical increase in African representation, but an effort to find some alternative to parity in Nyasaland, which, as my answer shows, has become a sort of magic word conjuring up all the emotions on which racialism thrives. I hope there will be other opportunities for the hon. Gentleman and myself to have discussions on this matter both in public and private.
I can assure the hon. Member that the decision was mine and mine alone. I discussed it with the Governor of Northern Rhodesia, and, incidentally, there is no African on the Council of Northern Rhodesia. That is a point on which I did not correct the hon. Gentleman at the time, but it is a fact. I have to pay regard to the situation in the neighbouring territories, and I am obliged by statute to take counsel with the Federation, but I am not obliged to follow its advice. In this case I can assure the House it is my own decision and mine alone.
Finally, I should like to say a word of welcome to the various delegations, whom I am delighted to receive, that have come to Britain. How glad we were to see the delegation from the West Indies. I have been, as hon. Members must have been, deeply moved by the immense demonstration of loyalty and affection for the Crown so recently demonstrated in the Caribbean. The warmth and friendliness of the speeches that have been made here today by hon. 1268 Members when referring to the West Indies will find an echo in the hearts of all of us with any responsibility or any knowledge of that lovely part of the world.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham (Mr. Grey) made various suggestions regarding housing and education. He then got involved in inter-union rivalry, which is not altogether unknown in the United Kingdom but is much too delicate a subject for me to comment on either in Britain or in Jamaica. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I recognise my obligation and the obligation of the Government in regard to helping the conditions of sale for the primary products of the West Indies, which are of vital concern in planning and securing their economic future. I shall hope, in consultation with my colleagues, to be able to meet as much as is possible of the case put forward by our most welcome visitors and to leave them in no doubt of my sincerity in this matter.
My hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Vaughan-Morgan) in a most interesting speech about British Guiana, referred to its accession to the future Caribbean Federation. We would certainly wish to see the two mainland territories, British Guiana and British Honduras, as part of the Federation if it is the wish of their peoples that this should be so. The three Commissioners who have been appointed have been asked to take account of the possibility of the territories joining the Federation. These three Commissioners, the Fiscal under Sir Sydney Caine, the Civil Service under Sir Hilary Blood, and the Judicial under Sir Allan Smith, will be doing the vital preparatory work for the next stage in this most important project. The issues are complex and far reaching. They will work on them as quickly as they can, but they cannot be expected to present their reports before the autumn of this year.
After the reports have been considered by the West Indian Governments and by Her Majesty's Government, a revised Federal plan will be drawn up for consideration by a conference of representatives of West Indian Colonies who will, it is hoped, have power to act on behalf of their governments. It looks as if we shall not be able to have this conference before the end of the year.
1269 When the final plan has been agreed, the drafting of the necessary constitutional instrument will have to be completed and a Bill introduced into Parliament. We will do our utmost to carry out all the stages for which we are responsible with the utmost expedition. I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House view this approaching Federation with unanimous agreement and good wishes. No controversy is aroused by these proposals, and I hope our West Indian visitors will take heart from this and from the successor conference which will be assembling in a few weeks time—the feeling that one of the solutions of their problems is an agreed solution by the two major parties in the State—and, I feel sure, the Liberal Party as well—and is an indication of the unanimity of the goodwill with which the future of their territories is regarded by the people in these Islands.