HC Deb 01 June 1956 vol 553 cc656-80

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.]

2.37 p.m.

Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)

I do not know the Minister's views, but I think that, like myself, he will welcome the extra time we have for this important subject, but I assure him that I will not wander out of Central Africa, which is a large place, and will not anticipate next Wednesday's debate on Kenya.

Some months ago, Mr. Harry Nkumbula, who is the leader of the Northern Rhodesia and African National Congress, came to the House on behalf of his people. He hoped to see the Colonial Secretary, but unfortunately the Minister, acting upon the advice of the Government of Northern Rhodesia, felt unable to see him. I think that was a mistake, on many grounds, not least that if the Minister sees any leader of a nationalist movement he prevents the leader from making false capital out of a Minister's lack of desire to see him. Nevertheless, that is what happened.

In Northern Rhodesia there are about 2 million Africans disenfranchised there, and of course, disenfranchised here, like all other colonial peoples. In a modest way. may I take up the cudgels on their behalf and outline one or two of the circumstances and conditions of their life? I am sure that the Minister will be sympathetic and I hope he will give me some helpful answers.

Like Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia is a Protectorate. It does not like the scheme of Federation, under which at the moment it is linked with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. That view is shared by Congress in Nyasaland. They fear that later, in 1962, there will be amalgamation, and they fear, rightly or wrongly, that they will be dominated by Europeans, to their discomfort and handicap. Some people do not share this view. In his last speech, Mr. Harry Nkumbula made some comments on conditions in Northern Rhodesia and on his fears for the future:

Northern Rhodesia is the darkest spot in the whole of the British Colonial Empire. Its social colour bar, racial discrimination, intimidation and ostracism are worse than those being experienced in the Union of South Africa. Its educational policy and health services cannot be anything but deplorable. The discrepancies in the conditions of service between the European and African Civil Services and between the European miner and the African miner are shocking. Not all will share those views in their entirety. Some will say that Mr. Nkumbula paints a lurid picture.

People like myself—and I am sure all hon. Members on this side of the House —will welcome the award in the Honours List to Mr. Prain, the forward-looking leader of the Rhodesian Selection Trust. He was awarded a knighthood two days ago for his services. Not the least of those services was the munificent gift of over £2 million to the Protectorate Governments of both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia for African welfare and advancement. There are, therefore, at least some good deeds in this naughty world of Central Africa. But let me see if Mr. Nkumbula's fears are justified and if his statements are correct.

In this context I am worried, and I should like the Minister to take particular note of this, by a speech made by the Governor to a gathering of business and professional women last month at Lusaka, in which he said:

I want to get rid of the Colonial Office in Northern Rhodesia as quickly as possible. Those are his words. I have met Sir Arthur Benson when he was Chief Secretary in Lagos, Nigeria. I have a high opinion of him. I am a little disturbed, and I am sure Africans are even more disturbed, by his words.

In that connection I will quote here a very famous man indeed, who until lately was the Leader of Her Majesty's Government. I refer, of course, to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). In his book "My Africa Journey ", Mr. Churchill, as he then was, discussing the position of Africans vis-à-vis Europeans in Africa said:

It will be an ill day for the Native Races when their fortunes are removed from the imperial and august administration of the Crown and abandoned to the fierce self-interest of a small population of white settlers. White settlers, of course, are perhaps not what they were half a century ago, but there is still substance in that statement. Of the Governor's speech, I will only say that it is a pity that the Governor spoke as he did. It need not have been said at all. One knows the psychology of Africans. Reading those words, Africans will say, "There you are, we will soon leave the protection of Parliament." There is no doubt that they have a protection, when Questions can be asked in this House about their affairs. It is a protection for them still to be able to look to Westminster and not to be cut off, as they might be in less than ten years' time if they were to be joined with Southern Rhodesia. What are the Government in Lusaka doing to allay the fears of Africans in this matter and to develop multi-racialism? I may say here that I do not like the term "multi-racial." I think "non-racial" is a much better term. The Government have appointed a Committee to investigate racial discrimination as practised in shops and other business premises. It has done a very good job indeed. It is an official Committee and has published its findings. It sat in Lusaka, but moved about the territory. It must have had about 67 memoranda to look at and must have taken evidence from 150 or more witnesses throughout the territory.

The Committee reported that shops, particularly bakers' shops, had too many separate counters, too many separate queues, and hatches through which they served goods to Africans. It must be remembered that after half a century of white contact there is now arising an African middle class of decent, cultured men and their wives. They do not like this discrimination, particularly in butchers' shops. In the Copper Belt a boycotting and picketting of these shops by Africans has done some good, and has now been called off. I must point out that it is not only an affront to the dignity of decent people, whatever their colour may be, to be served from hatches. Even more important, it is a disservice to the shopkeepers themselves because, if not in the short term, then certainly in the middle or long term, they will lose cash business with this emerging middle class of Africans, many of whom are now earning up to £40 a month—and will shortly earn more—in the copper mines.

The Committee said, and I hope the Minister will make a statement about this. this these hatches should be abolished from all shops. In one case an African went to a shop to buy a bed. He was told "Please go to the hatch." In Scotland, I know, beer is sold off-licence through a small hatch, but it is certainly a job to examine a bed, and have it delivered, through a hatch only a foot or two square.

It might be said that one cannot do much with shopkeepers because they are individuals who are independent and settle their own affairs; but I suggest quite sincerely that we can do something about post offices. Even if we cannot at present abolish the hatches in shops, or even in all post offices, may I ask the Minister to "vet" future plans of post offices and, indeed, any other Government buildings to be put up in the Protectorate in order to ensure that it is impossible to have hatches built into them whereby one gets such discrimination and segregation of Africans? All the post offices should be bigger; more should be built, and more African assistants should be employed inside the larger post offices so that everybody can be served within a short time and not have to queue in separate queues, or with Europeans and Africans going to the top and bottom of the queues, respectively.

To my knowledge Africans in Northern Rhodesia do not complain about the services at garages, petrol filling stations and the treatment they receive from the motor industry generally. But they are not admitted to hotels.

It is interesting to note that there are now only two hotels in Northern Rhodesia which admit Africans. In comparison there has been an enormous change in Kenya, since I was last there two years ago. The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, the Tors Hotel and the New Stanley Hotel, now admit Africans who have, so to speak, attained a level of culture which will enable them to mix not only with Asians but with English, Scots or anyone else.

If Kenya can do this, why cannot Northern Rhodesia? If the miners in the Copper Belt leave Northern Rhodesia and go to Kenya they can mix in the Norfolk Hotel; why cannot they mix in their own land in places like Lusaka and elsewhere? It could be done and to me it is rather scandalous that people like Mr. Nkrumah, the Gold Coast Premier, who, within a few days, may be attending the conference of Dominion and Commonwealth Ministers, Dr. Azikewe, the East Nigerian Premier, and even the Kabaka of Buganda would not be allowed to enter hotels in the Copper Belt in Northern Rhodesia.

What are we to do about this? This Committee upon Racial Discrimination, which is a statutory Committee, recommends that the Governor—and, of course, the Government there—should appoint a permanent advisory committee to advise the Government, to take evidence and make an annual report about colour discrimination. However, it is all very well to talk about this and that committee or this and that law, but in the long-term sense the only real answer is more and better education. Perhaps here I may quote this Committee's Report before I leave the social ascept of African life. This is what the Report says, and I do beg the Minister and all hon. Members present to listen to this, because it is an all-white Committee speaking about their own people. One of the biggest educational problems is what to do with children who in Europe would dig ditches, hew wood and draw water. This type of European knows that his white skin is his biggest asset and doesn't want it to mean any less than it does now. He has a vested interest in racial discrimination. On the other side of the picture we find some Africans who seem to go out of their way to provoke incidents. It is not all one side of the medal. Such men invite rebuffs which they receive for a display of bad manners and for the aggressive attitude which they adopt towards Europeans. As anybody knows, there are faults on both sides. It is mainly a matter of education. It will be a slow job but we can help in some ways, especially in post office and Government buildings, to give a lead because there, of course, we can do it definitely by executive action.

Conditions are improving. People who go to Northern Rhodesia can see a change from year to year, and we welcome that. The long-term solution is to close the gap in cultural and living standards between black and white. That can be done only by the better education of both races. A valuable experiment is being carried out in Lusaka where there is the Kabulongo, a mixed inter-racial club to which Mr. Harry Nkumbula has been elected, much to the editorial disgust of the Central African Post, which does not like him following his boycott of European shops, and which says that he should have been blacklisted. There are in the club 250 Europeans, 150 Asians and over 100 Africans. It is a most interesting and imaginative experiment.

What is happening in the sphere where we can do something in this House, by votes, by action and of course by money —that is the sphere of education? A distinguished Colonial Secretary, Mr. Leo Amery, once said that there is no more supreme task for any Government in Africa than to expand the field of education. Let us consider what is happening in Northern Rhodesia, which is an exceedingly wealthy Colony which exports about £100 million worth of base metals annually. It is not a poor, backward Colony like Somaliland or the Gambia. It is a wealthy Colony, and what does it spend on education? There are 2 million Africans and perhaps fewer than 50,000 Europeans. There are about 175,000 African boys and girls, mainly boys, in the junior or elementary schools, and in the year 1954–55 we spent only £1,100,000 upon African education.

There are just six junior secondary schools and really these are "intermediate" schools. There are fewer than 500 African boys plus a few girls there. Lastly, there is one upper secondary school in the whole of the Protectorate and there are fewer than 500 boys who are taking a three-year course to fit themselves for the higher school certificate and to enable themselves to go on to the new university in Salisbury. May I tell the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that we all hope that the new venture will be an enormous success?

We wish it well and we also wish Mr. Walter Adams well in his difficult task as Principal; but may I point out to the Minister that in Northern Rhodesia there were only fifteen boys last year who were competent to tackle the two-year course for entry in 1957 to the new university college. Of those fifteen only eight took the chance of coming back to take the course. If all eight pass, we shall have only eight boys who would enter the new university at Salisbury. It will be some years before we can think in terms of a large accession of boys to the new university.

What about the girls? The education of women in Africa is most important. At present there is a shocking state of affairs, and when I say "shocking" I really mean it. In the Colony there is not one secondary school for girls. All there is is a "junior secondary" school, which I would call an intermediate school, at which there are fewer than fifty girls. It is a Methodist Mission school at Chipembe to which is attached a teacher training centre, and it is said that they have only candles for light to work. There is no domestic science course and no science accommodation.

If only eight boys will be able to go to the university next year, how long will it be before girls are able to go there? Not only is technical education important, but even more important is the education of women in Africa. One of the sad features about the African is that he is conservative, with a small "c". He is backward and apathetic in his view of the progress of women. Our biggest obstacle in the way of providing education for the girls and women is the African man himself. We must fight this. We shall never have an educated, cultured African middle-class until the womenfolk catch up and live alongside their men in the new life now opening before them.

Can the Minister tell us whether we can expect Northern Rhodesian boys to come as students to the United Kingdom in future? In the past, when higher education was our responsibility, boys of 18, 19 and 20 years of age could come here. Four or five are here now, of course, but now that higher education has become the Federal responsibility of Salisbury, will these boys come to the United Kingdom? I do not know. The Africans fear that they will not.

All the Africans I know wish to keep up their contacts and to come to the United Kingdom, especially to the University of London, for higher education. It would be a sad thing if they were not permitted to come here but were to be educated solely in Central Africa, or perhaps in the Union. My last word on education is to say that technical education is also more than important. Will the Minister please say something about the plans for the expansion of the Hodgson Technical College? There are about 150 places there, and when I asked the Secretary of State about this in March he told me that he thought that was adequate. It satisfied demand, he said.

Today in Africa the demand for education is fantastic. Africans believe they can be like the white man if they can only get education; it is to them the white man's "ju-ju "; they want it, and their thirst is impossible to slake. Yet the Secretary of State told me he was satisfying their demand by this one technical centre, the Hodgson Technical Centre, with some 150 or 180 places. May I say, with respect, that Africa is second only to what Scotland was in the nineteenth century in the people's desire to educate themselves for their future life. Really, to say the facilities are adequate is sheer poppycock; I just cannot believe it.

What do I and, indeed, most Africans think about the European and his education? The answer is quite simple; I am appalled, as is anyone who goes to Africa, at the European's lack of knowledge of Africans and the African way of life. I am appalled also by the European lack of interest in the African way of life. I make this suggestion, not only as regards Northern Rhodesia but as regards any other Colony, that if the European had to learn a language in school other than his mother tongue that language should be an African language. What language will be learnt will depend upon the locality. For example, in Kenya he would learn Swahili, in Northern Rhodesia it could perhaps be Bemba; but it must be at the exclusion of any other language, including French or Latin.

If we cannot, in Northern Rhodesia, have an African language as a compulsory subject in European schools, then I would say we should stop giving the European Afrikaans as his other language. Living as he does in African territory, it is fearfully important that the European should know something about his fellow men and know their language. That is the first and most important step, that there should be taught as a compulsory subject, in all European schools in all the Colonies of Africa, one of the African languages.

Perhaps the Minister would care to indicate to the Governor of Northern Rhodesia that Europeans and Africans should mix more in their schools. Does he not think it would be a good thing if the boys at the Gilbert Rennie School could play football against African schools? Would it not be a good thing, since we talk about a non-racial society, if boys in the sixth form at the Gilbert Rennie School could, together with boys in the same class at the Munali Secondary School, be taught the lessons which they will need at that stage in their education? In two years or so they may be going to Salisbury, to the inter-racial University, and they could, while in the sixth form at the secondary schools, be taught those subjects which they will study together later. It would be an excellent thing, since they are to live together in the University, that they should take those lessons together in the sixth forms which they will be sitting for later at the advanced level. If we are to talk about partnership, and the European settling down in an African community, then let us do something about it; let us do something in our schools for which we vote the money and for which we are responsible in the Empire.

May I now ask one or two questions on the subject of land? Africans have great anxiety about the alienation of land by Europeans. I will mention three places, about which the Minister will perhaps make inquiries at some time— Kafue Flats, the Chirundu sugar area, and the Fort Roseberry mines. I would say that there is a need for the Government of Northern Rhodesia to consult with the African Advisory Board before they go into any schemes for giving to European immigrants—they may even be Dutch or German immigrants in the future—any permission to alienate African land.

The Minister may perhaps have seen the Report of Dr. Weizman, who was sent to Rhodesia by the Inter-Government Committee for European Migration to advise Rhodesia upon immigration of Dutch and Germans and other Europeans. What he says in his objective survey of land in the Rhodesias is quite simple. He says that while it might have been a very good thing in the poineer days for white men to have large expanses of land, 20,000 acres or more, he now finds something which is far from good. I will quote his figures; he finds that of about 30 million acres in Southern Rhodesia, only I million are cultivated in the hands of Europeans. In Northern Rhodesia, of 4½ million acres only 5 per cent. are cultivated by Europeans.

Despite the land hunger of Africans, we see the alienation of desirable places where the white man wants, for example, sugar to be cultivated or, sometimes, mining to be undertaken. I beg the Minister to look at this question—I will give him more detail later—because it is an important issue which causes more anxiety, disturbance and upheaval amongst Africans than anything else. There is the example of Kenya, for instance, with the Mau Mau since 1952.

Will the Minister also say a word about the evacuation of Africans from the Kariba Gorge hydro-electric scheme? I understand that a Scottish colleague of mine—my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin)—hopes to raise this matter on the Adjournment later. There is anxiety on two counts. It arises not so much because the people are being moved, but because of the place to which they are being sent. Will the soils be better? They fear it will be worse than what they have. Will the land be above flood level?

I have two questions to ask concerning the constitutional changes to come in 1958. At the moment, the Africans have four African members for 2 million of their own people. The Europeans have twelve members elected by 12,000 Europeans. In 1956, this is a little farcical. I know that it will be altered before 1958, when the next change is due.

In Tanganyika we have parity. In Kenya there are to be more Africans, certainly by March, 1957, from the African elections. In all the Colonies, more and more Africans are coming into the Legislative Councils. We want more Africans in the Legislative Council, and it would be a good thing if the Secretary of State were to think in terms of parity. as prevails in Tanganyika and as will surely come later in Kenya.

In the matter of the franchise, the Minister might also look at Kenya, Zanzibar and Tanganyika, think about gentlemen like Mr. Coutts, and send a commission to consider the question of the vote for Africans in Northern Rhodesia. No vote has been given in either Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland. When Africans are in a communal electorate and voting only for their own people, what have the Government to lose by giving Africans the right to vote? No more Africans would be elected by vote than are nominated, if there is a certain number in a communal division. I implore the Secretary of State to think in terms of a commission for Northern Rhodesia headed by Mr. Coutts.

Allegations have been made about victimisation and ostracism of African chiefs who happen to be members of the African National Congress, Mr. Nkumbula's organisation. I can give chapter and verse on the forbidding of assemblies at places like Gwembe and elsewhere. I hope that we shall not, as in some other Colonies, forbid assembly merely because we do not like what Africans are saying. With a good case, we should not be afraid, whether on the question of evacuation of the Kariba Gorge or of franchise. Let us face up to comment by the Africans. We govern them, and they pay their taxes. Sooner or later they will govern themselves. Let us give them a fair hearing and not forbid assembly because it is inconvenient to hear what Africans have to say about our administration.

On behalf of Mr. Harry Nkumbula and of Mr. Manoah Chirwah of Nyasaland, I extend to the Secretary of State an invitation to make a long overdue visit to both Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. The right hon. Gentleman would be popular if he went, and would get an enormous welcome. I hope, therefore, that the Minister of State will convey this invitation to the Secretary of State to visit the two Protectorates, where the people look forward to his coming at the earliest possible moment.

3.10 p.m.

Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester)

We are very fortunate, as the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) said, in having a little extra time today in which to discuss this subject. I had not intended to make a speech, because I did not think there would be an opportunity, but now that, after all, there is one, I should like to make a few observations upon what the hon. Member has said.

Of course, the range of social and political problems about which he has been speaking, particularly in Northern Rhodesia, would be so easy to tackle if it were not for two difficulties. We have on the one hand the racial difficulty, if it is correctly so described, and on the other the time factor. If we had all the time in the world I have no doubt that the communal problem would present us with no difficulty. On the other hand, if we had only one race the time factor would not cause us much difficulty.

I found, when I was in Northern Rhodesia with my right hon. Friend's predecessor, and attended some seventy meetings with Africans throughout the territory, discussing the setting up of the Federation, that the Africans were constantly asking for time. The African's fear is of being hurried into a modern world for which he is not ready. He fears that if he were hurried into that modern world in company with European com- munities he would find no sufficient place in it, and he also fears that by the time he is sufficiently educated, and sufficiently firmly established in the social and economic structure of his country, it will then be too late for him to achieve equality with the European.

If we think only of the African's desire for more time, and say to ourselves that we must not hurry the evolution of this Colony or the development of this part of Africa at a pace faster than the African would like, we have to consider whether Northern Rhodesia herself, by delay, may not lose her place in the modern world, may not lose the opportunity which is now open to her producers of great raw material resources, and find herself outstripped by other raw material producers in other parts of the world. If we paid too much attention to the African's desire to go slowly we might find we had lost for Northern Rhodesia the great opportunity of this generation, which would be a loss which she would never make up, and which would result ultimately in a lower living standard for Africans.

So one has to try to make some kind of compromise between the need of the territory to become an effective, viable modern State or part of a modern State, the Federation, as quickly as possible and the natural desire of the African for protection until he has reached what he feels to be adult citizenhood. It is most encouraging that there is such a ready admission amongst Africans in Northern Rhodesia that that is the posi- tion. The African is willing to admit quite openly that he has a great deal to do before he can catch up with the European, and can compete with him upon an even footing. That much realism is of very great importance and help to us.

I want to consider the disparity between the races, for such undoubtedly it is, and ask whether it really is a colour problem with which we are dealing. I think that the hon. Member for Rugby will agree with me that it is essentially a difference in standards and not a racial problem. Wherever one looks in other parts of the world where different races have lived together for a long time, whether in Mexico or Jamaica or anywhere else, one finds that the so-called racial problem has gradually passed away and has been solved and forgotten because of the process of which the hon. Member for Rugby spoke—the rise of a new middle class among races which for the first part of the period suffered a low standard of education.

Mr. J. Johnson

Did the hon. Member mention Mexico? If so he should be careful. We might be talking of miscegenation, because in Latin America the Spanish and the Portuguese have mixed with the indigenous Indian stock. That has not occurred in Africa. Perhaps the hon. Member visualises it, but it would not commend itself to Mr. Welensky or Lord Malvern.

Mr. Smithers

I do not suppose that it would, and I am not expressing a view on that. Whether or not miscegenation, that rather tiresome word, has anything to do with it, the problem is solving itself in Mexico, which I happen to know very well, because the standards of living of the different communities have approximated to one another, and social distinctions hardly exist any more. I think that that will happen in Central Africa, and particularly in Northern Rhodesia, but it is a question of time.

It seems to me, therefore, that what we have to do in our generation, when we have to live with this uncomfortable racial problem, is on the one hand to try to show the African what I would call the light at the end of the tunnel, and try to make it perfectly clear to him that he is moving forward steadily and on the whole remarkably rapidly towards a situation which he can contemplate with satisfaction. At the same time, we must ask ourselves whether we are doing all that can reasonably be done to hasten the process of bringing the African up to a level of living which is intellectually, socially and economically comparable with that of the European community.

The hon. Member for Rugby began by quoting some things said by Mr. Nkumbula about the deplorable state of the health service in Northern Rhodesia. Anybody who has been to the Copper Belt and has seen, for example, the magnificent new hospital there, with its splendid equipment, far better than anything in my constituency, would realise what nonsense Mr. Nkumbula is talking. Anyone who looks at the progress made, as well as what still remains to be made, must realise what a tremendous achievement it is.

African leaders such as Mr. Nkumbula do harm and not good to their own cause when they look simply on the worst side of the picture and make statements like that which can quite easily be shown to be unbalanced and misleading. Therefore, we must ask that African leaders, in urging faster progress, will at the same time give far greater credit to the people responsible for the considerable progress that has already been made.

Mr. Johnson

To be fair to Mr. Nkumbula, who is not here to speak for himself, I would point out that the hon. Member is speaking merely of a small urban centre inside the copper mining area. He should speak about the 2 million Africans of the rural areas who lack cottage hospitals, clinics and the like, outside the two or three copper mining centres on the railway line.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I have been over the hospital to which the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) refers. Is there not something actually distasteful in a show-window hospital on that scale, which is perhaps better than any hospital in England, being established against a background of total lack of hospitalisation for 99 per cent. of the population?

Mr. Smithers

Is the hon. and learned Member arguing that the hospital should not have been built because there is no national health service in a country where it would be utterly impossible to have it or any hospitalisation scheme in a country where in present circumstances it would be a practical impossibility to extend it to the remotest places? If that is his argument I think that few Africans would agree with him. I certainly should not.

Mr. Paget

No, that is not my point. My answer is that if a person has a limited amount of money to spend, if he is amusing himself he provides a luxurious toy for a few people, but if he is really trying to serve the country he provides something with a vastly larger capacity, on a much lower standard, which is more useful to many people but does not look as nice to visitors.

Mr. Smithers

I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is being extremely superficial in his comments. I should have thought that if we are to have an effective health service in the remote parts of a territory, the first thing to do is to have really good central hospital facilitles around which it can function. I have a teaching hospital in my constituency, the significance of which relates not to my constituency but to an enormously wider area. I do not see how we can hope to have any medical care in Barotseland or in some far off portion of the Luangwa Valley unless somewhere in the territory we have a really first-class centre to which it can look.

It seems to me to have been a sensible policy to have erected this first-class hospital in the most heavily populated centre of the territory as an example of how things should be done, and as a place where people can go to learn, and afterwards go out from, in order to minister and teach in the administration of health matters. So I cannot see any logic in the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman.

To return to my argument and to the remoter parts of the Colony, I heartily agree that the problem which we have to cope with is the administration of health measures in the villages all over that enormous territory. I am saying, however. that it is unwise for African leaders, or for the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), to neglect to give credit for the very good start which has been made. A great deal has been done, and that fact ought to give encouragement to further efforts which we all desire to be made.

The hon. Member for Rugby quoted some words of the Governor to the effect that he hoped that Northern Rhodesia would get rid of the Colonial Office as soon as possible.

Mr. Johnson

indicated assent.

Mr. Smithers

We should look at this in perspective. The fear of the African is that the Colonial Office will be withdrawn from his territory prematurely. I have heard a number of Africans say, "Queen Victoria promised us her protection, and we claim it now". I agree with all those Africans, who have often said those things to me, that the Colonial Office is serving a great purpose there, and is of great value to them in the services which it provides. So far as I understand what the Governor said, I do not think that he made any proposal for hastening progress unduly and unwisely. But to say that the Colonial Office should never withdraw from the territory—if that is the implication of the hon. Member's objection to "as soon as possible "would be a counsel of despair. I am sure that the Africans there would be the first to say that they envisage the day when their own territory will be part of a fully self-governing State.

Mr. Johnson

Surely all that I said was that, in the context of the fear and suspicion of Africans and the psychological state they are in, it was something that need not have been said, that it was pointless to emphasise that at the earliest moment possible we should leave the territory, particularly in view of Federation and the campaigns that there were before and since and which are still proceeding.

Mr. Smithers

I hope that any African reading the debate will note that the hon. Member is not himself alarmed by what the Governor said, and will take that as some reason for not being alarmed either.

Education in Northern Rhodesia is an appallingly difficult problem. The hon. Member has, as I have, been to Munali, probably more than once. Boys are educated there up to the age of 20 with great care in an excellent school. In spite of the considerable size of the school and the care with which the education system is administered, there are still only very few who reach a standard suitable for entry to a university. That is a terrible state of affairs. It ought to make us realise the extreme difficulty of the problem. But it would be a mistake if anything were to go out from the debate which indicated that the result achieved so far is, in all the circumstances, a bad one. I think that it is a good one.

Considering the very short time that education has been able to operate in Northern Rhodesia, and bearing in mind the excellent quality of the lads who come from Munali—even though they may not necessarily be university professors, they are still good stuff, a very great improvement upon their fathers, and a totally different product altogether from their grandfathers—we ought to give some credit to the people who built up the education system.

The hon. Member referred to the education of women. I agree with him that the situation is even more difficult in that respect. Not only have women, generally speaking—there are, of course, honourable exceptions—no desire whatever for education, but very often their husbands, prospective husbands or fathers would be extremely angry if the authorities tried to take them away. It is necessary to start by educating the men about the necessity to educate the women. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend, who also knows that part of the world very well, having, I believe, spent a great deal of his life there, will agree with me about that.

I now want to say a word about the European. The hon. Member pointed out that there are in the territory Europeans who are holding on jealously to jobs which, perhaps, in perfectly free competition, they might not be able to hold down. He referred to the hewers of wood and the drawers of water. What he says may be so, but he ought not to complain unduly that there are people in Central Africa holding on to jobs if they can do so. I have noticed a good many people here and there in our own country holding on to jobs for dear life, and to say that they have a vested interest in doing so is no discredit to the people concerned. Everybody has a vested interest in keeping his job. It is not discreditable if the European in Central Africa does not want to lose his job.

I hope that some day we may be able to look at the position of the European in Central Africa a little more through the eyes of the European himself. I sometimes think that we in this country are tremendously smug, living in this highly developed, complicated, and, on the whole, very prosperous white community, about the thoughts and emotions of the European living in that remote and simple community as a very small racial minority. We need to make plenty of allowance for the difference between our circumstances before condemning him as being motivated by vested interests, which are, goodness knows, powerful enough in our own country.

I see the problems to which the hon. Gentleman has referred as all part of this great dilemma: the need for the African to catch up, the need for him to have time to do it in, and on the other hand, the need for Northern Rhodesia, as part of the Federation, to advance rapidly and take her place as a great State in this modern age. I think that the machinery of the Federation is specially designed to meet that dilemma. It is something unique—something new.

Considering the gloomy forebodings when the Federation was introduced, and the amount of opposition which it undoubtedly has had to face, the results so far are remarkably promising. If we can have, on the part of Africans, a little forebearance and a little readiness to give credit for the great things that have already been achieved, and, on the part of Europeans, the same forebearance and readiness to make ample allowance in respect of the position in which the African finds himself and the limitations from which he still inevitably suffers, we shall be able to achieve the two objects of enabling Northern Rhodesia and the Federation to become a powerful and prosperous modern State, in which the African would enjoy a good standard of living and good social services in due course, and at the same time gain time for him to take his place as an adult citizen.

3.32 p.m.

The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. John Hare)

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) and the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) will agree with me that it is a pleasant surprise to be able to have sufficient time to do justice to the very important points which the hon. Member for Rugby made in his opening speech. I should like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester for the very thoughtful and constructive speech which he has made. It is my duty to answer as many as I can of the very large number of questions which he put to me. I assure him that if I do not answer them all today I shall be only too delighted to do so later on.

At the end of his speech, the hon. Member for Rugby said that it would be a very good idea if my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary paid a visit to Northern Rhodesia and to Nyasaland. I am happy to say that my right hon. Friend hopes that either he or I will be able to visit both these territories before the end of this year. I am glad that the invitation was couched in such welcome terms by the hon. Member for Rugby.

At the beginning of his speech, the hon. Member for Rugby did, I think, rather overdo the fears that exist as to Her Majesty's Government's intention concerning the future of Northern Rhodesia. I think that the hon. Gentleman tried to infer that in some speech which the Governor made the Governor himself added to these uncertainties. The Governor, I am sure, was making quite clear what our colonial policy is and that it is our duty to bring up these territories to such a state that they can stand on their own feet and enjoy the benefits of self-government without guidance from the Colonial Office.

So far as the future of Northern Rhodesia is concerned, the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that Her Majesty's Government and this House have pledged themselves that the political status of Northern Rhodesia shall not be altered without the consent of the majority of the inhabitants of that territory, and that pledge naturally still stands.

I should like to say something about education, because the hon. Member for Rugby asked a number of important questions about that subject. He was especially interested in the problem of secondary education for girls. I agree about the difficulties that exist there. He thought it was very shameful in view of the richness of the Colony that so little money was spent on education. It is only fair to point out that it is only in recent years since the development of copper mines that Northern Rhodesia has enjoyed the prosperity which she sees today; in fact only a few years ago Northern Rhodesia was certainly not one of the more forward Colonial Territories.

So far as girls' secondary education is concerned, I can tell the House that no girl who qualifies for secondary education is refused a place. Only two years ago there were not enough girls to form even one class. Those who wanted secondary education were given bursaries to schools outside Northern Rhodesia. As soon as enough candidates were available—that was two years ago—facilities were provided within Northern Rhodesia itself for the first time.

The hon. Member for Rugby will appreciate that perhaps the main obstacle to further development of that sort is what he himself mentioned—the traditional reluctance of African parents to allow their girls to stay at school. Every effort is being made by Government propaganda and personal persuasion to overcome that reluctance. I hope that anything which he and I say in the House will increase the propaganda drive which is being undertaken by the Northern Rhodesia Government in this connection. We are providing facilities and we shall continue so to do, and I hope that more will take advantage of them.

May I now take boys' secondary education? In 1954 the Northern Rhodesian Government added a sixth form to the Munali Secondary School with the express object of fitting boys to enter the proposed University College. As the hon. Member said, nine boys were enrolled then, a very small start. The number of boys enrolled in March of this year was 24. It is true to say that the facilities for secondary education in Northern Rhodesia at the moment have actually outrun demand, because in 1955 367 vacancies were available and only 336 pupils enrolled. That happened even though it had been found necessary to lower the standard of the entry examination because of the shortage of Africans for these vacancies. In spite of that the Northern Rhodesian Government are planning to increase over the next few years the number of places in secondary schools from 750 to 2,480.

The hon. Member for Rugby will probably agree that primary education is really the main problem facing Northern Rhodesia. I am happy to say that vigorous measures are being taken to increase the number of children at primary schools. To give an example, the number of places in Standard VI, the class which takes the secondary school examination, is being raised from I,500 to 6,000. The number of candidates for the Standard VI examination in May this year was about 4,000 compared with 2,000 last year, so we are making considerable progress. The number of girls was 700 and 200, respectively.

Mr. J. Johnson

Will the right hon. Member kindly look into conditions at Chipembe Girls' Secondary School and my allegations about them?

Mr. Hare

I certainly will, but the hon. Member will not expect me to be able to give an answer straight away.

Considering the length of time needed for erecting school buildings in these rapidly growing towns and also the shortage of teachers and the length of time needed for training them, I doubt whether even if more money were available much more could be done at the moment. The main weakness is that children still leave school too early. I regard it as of great importance that the Northern Rhodesian Government should make a success of their propaganda campaign.

The hon. Member referred to the Hodgson Technical Centre. I understand that there were 16 empty places there a short while ago. That would surely indicate that facilities are adequate to meet the present problem. The maximum capacity is 400. It has not been reached, but when it is reached a further similar institution is proposed.

I move on to say something on technical education. At the moment. there is no lack of technical schools in Northern Rhodesia. I am told there are 11 trade schools run by missions, eight by local authorities and one by the Government, making 20 in all. Although the existing schools are not filled to capacity, six new trade schools are contemplated.

The hon. Member expressed concern about the fear of alienation of land, and I should like to deal with that matter. I wish to assure him that the anxieties that he expressed on behalf of others— he indicated that he was speaking for others—are really groundless. Permanent European settlement in the Colony is possible only on Crown Land, which comprises a mere 6 per cent. of the land surface of the Colony. The other 94 per cent. consists of Native Reserves and Native Trust land. Land in Native Reserves, except for public purposes, cannot be granted to any non-African save on a five-year lease. Although the Governor has power when it seems to him to be in the general interest to grant rights of occupancy of Native Trust land to non-Africans, in practice no non-Africans occupy Trust lands except missionaries, traders and Government servants and they are very few indeed. The Native Trust lands are extremely sparsely populated and there is certainly no shortage of land available for Africans.

The hon. Member mentioned the Kafue Flats, which is a large area of low-lying land, half Native Reserve and half Crown land. The possibility of retaining part of it for wheat growing has been investigated but neither the Native Reserves nor Native Trust lands were affected. The hon. Member mentioned the Chirundu Sugar Scheme for growing sugar in the Zambesi Valley. Because of the difficulties of transport it is proposed to build a sugar factory close to where the sugar is grown and, for the sake of efficiency, initially it may be run by a European firm. That may lead to difficulty over African land rights, but no decision has been taken and nothing will be done without full consultation with the Native Authority. I think that probably covers what the hon. Member said about the alienation of land.

I hope the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not touch widely on the subject of the franchise. Discussions arc taking place in Central Africa on this subject, progress is being made, and I do not think it would be in the public interest for me to make a statement at present while those discussions are going on.

I was glad that the hon. Member mentioned the very imaginative and generous loan from the Rhodesian Selection Trust to the Government of Northern Rhodesia; as the hon. Gentleman said, it was a loan of £2 million. It is to be applied to African developmental projects in rural areas which otherwise would have been difficult to finance, as they are not revenue earning. It is the intention of the Government of Northern Rhodesia to devote at least twice as much from their own funds, and about £6 million is therefore to be made available.

The money will be used in an attempt to redress the disturbance in the economy which the very success of the copper companies has caused. Many parts of Northern Rhodesia, particularly in the North-East, are seriously depleted of young men. As a consequence, villages are growing poorer, which in its turn hastens the drift of able-bodied people to the towns. That is a vicious circle which this £6 million project is designed to cut.

The Governor has ideas for developing certain areas centered around market towns; these towns will be under the control of Native Authorities, which will acquire a new dignity and a new source of wealth. There will thus be incentives for African farmers to stay in their rural areas and in their farms and for Africans to enter into local government service. This money will be spent in a large number of useful and constructive ways.

I was very glad that the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations was here during the debate and was able to hear a number of points which are covered by his Department rather than mine. I hope that I have answered most of the questions which the hon. Member put to me. I am very glad that he raised the subject in the House this afternoon and if I have omitted any points I will write to him and try to deal with them afterwards.

3.47 p.m.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

I apologise to the House for arriving extremely late for the debate. I had imagined that it would start at 4 o'clock.

In spite of that, I want to say a few words on the subject, although I hasten to say that they will be of a relatively non-controversial nature. I was very glad indeed to hear the Minister speaking of the developments which are due to take place in Northern Rhodesia, because I think that in the past, both under this Government and, I say quite frankly, under our own Government, there has not been as much development as there might have been, nor as great a spreading of wealth among the people as a whole as there might have been.

There has been, particularly in the copper fields, a great development of wealth, but much of it has failed to find its way down to the people, and I hope that a great deal more will be done in the development of social services, and that generally, by various means, attempts will be made to spread the money which arises from the wealth of Rhodesia more widely among the people.

We have perhaps tended in recent years to think only of the Federation and to forget that a great many residual powers remain with the Governments both in Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland. Among these are powers to improve racial relations, and I hope that they will be used more than they have been used either by this Government and indeed by our Government when we were in power. Much could be done by the Government setting an example. For instance, I understand that in post offices in Rhodesia—I hope that this has been altered—there are still separate queues for white and for black people. That is something which should exist no longer in a territory for which the Colonial Office is responsible.

What happens in Salisbury is quite another matter, but I think that we should give a lead to rather than take the lead from, Southern Rhodesia and Salisbury. It was, perhaps, unfortunate that the new university was set up in Salisbury in the kind of atmosphere that exists there rather than in Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland, where there is an infinitely better atmosphere.

I hope that the Government will use to the full the powers they have both for improving the economic position of the two countries for which they are responsible and for improving racial relations in those countries, and in that respect giving a lead to Southern Rhodesia, and indeed, if such a thing is possible, to South Africa.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at nine minutes to Four o'clock.