§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
The Opposition made a request for this debate today, and the Government immediately conceded it, with a special purpose in mind. On comparatively frequent occasions we have debates on particular colonial subjects and Colonial Territories, but there have been very few days recently when we have had a general debate which has enabled us to discuss a number of territories in which there is neither revolution, war, subversion nor unrest.
It seemed to us highly desirable that we should have an opportunity for a debate that might be limited, with the assent of hon. Members—who are, of course, free to debate anything which they choose—to a number of areas which do not commonly hit the headlines. Indeed, there is a lot to be said for having a debate about them before they do hit the headlines. We therefore asked 643 the Colonial Secretary, and he immediately agreed, that we might discuss some of the territories in the Colonies with that in mind.
Although nothing I will say can limit the area of the debate at all, I would just like to express my personal view that it would be very useful if, for a few hours, we could discuss the affairs of those territories which are not necessarily large, but which rarely come into the main news in this country. There are three or four such territories about which I should like to make some comments, and I am sure that some of my hon. Friends will want to talk about others. Then, perhaps, we could have some discussion about our general arrangements for handling colonial matters.
The first territory about which I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary to make his policy clearer is Tanganyika, because some reports and protests have been reaching London about the treatment of one of the political parties there —the Tanganyika African National Union. I understand that Mr. Nyerere, who leads that party, may not address open air meetings, although, apparently, he is allowed to address meetings if they are held in a hall. It is said that the dangers of public disturbance are very much reduced in that way.
That, in any case, is a matter of opinion, but what did alarm me when I asked for an explanation of that restriction was to be told by Lord Perth, for the Colonial Office, that what had alarmed the Government was the tone and delivery of Mr. Nyerere's speeches as much as their content. I must say that it is a new form of censorship to say that open air meetings should not be held because of the tone and delivery of a leader's speeches as distinct from their content. I am extremely surprised that the Governor should take this view. I suppose that he has reached it because he finds it difficult to bring any complaints against the Tanganyika African National Union about the content of the speeches.
I am told, for example, that a tape recording was made of the speech by Mr. Nyerere on this particular occasion, and that that recording is available to the Governor at any time he wishes to 644 challenge any of the comments that have been made by Mr. Nyerere. Whether or not the Governor has heard that tape recording I do not know, but it seems very odd indeed that, on the basis of someone's tone and delivery, an injunction of this sort should be laid on the Tanganyika African National Union.
What is quite clear is that there has been no breach of the peace. I cannot trace there being any disturbance at all at these meetings but, apparently, reporters have been going back to the Governor and have been telling him that some of the contents of the speeches are extremely dubious. Some of the complaints which are made are so childish that I can hardly believe them, but I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman just what reliance he places upon the reports brought back to the Governor by persons who may or may not be accurate in their recollection. After all, all of us in this Committee have had the experience of being reported by skilled reporters and not all of us would say that the results are always accurate.
I must say that I think that the Governor, according to my information at the moment, is making much too heavy weather of the reports which are being brought back, especially as Mr. Nyerere himself does not, glory in the charges made, but repudiates the sentiments which he is alleged to have uttered. He indicates that, so far from behaving in an unconstitutional way, it is his desire that the progress of the Tanganyika Union should be on a constitutional basis.
I understand that on 18th January last there was a trial of an African member of T.A.N.U. who had claimed that the Tanganyika African National Union had obtained full self-government and that, therefore, everybody had the right to disobey the Native Authority. He was charged with sedition, found guilty and sentenced. That seems to me to the proper way of dealing with a situation of that sort. But with a leader of Mr. Nyerere's standing it seems to me to be rather short-sighted to deny him access to open air meetings, and to deny him access—if my information is right—to particular provinces without any charges being brought against him at all. This seems to me to be the way to turn a constitutional leader into something quite different.
645 If I may sum up his policy as he has expressed it to me, it seems to be this. First, he does not say that foreign investment is unwelcome, which is one of the complaints made against him, though that complaint could be heard frequently from time to time in this House. What he does say—and here I have a great deal of sympathy with him—is that South African investment is unwelcome. There was a proposal to bring a South African company into Tanganyika, and I can understand the fears of any political party in any other part of the Continent of Africa at the proposal to bring South African capital into East Africa. That, I understand, is his attitude towards foreign investment.
Mr. Nyerere complains that the policy of multi-racialism as it is being interpreted is a policy to prepare a white minority to govern the indigenous majority. His case is that minorities should not have more influence than majorities. He is claiming equal representation between the majority and the minority. None of this seems to me to be very revolutionary. It seems to be in full accord with the natural development of a country in which there are 8 million Africans and 50,000 Europeans. I cannot understand why the Governor, on the very slight evidence that has been published, should have indulged in this rather heavy-handed action which is denying the leader of one of the largest political parties access to certain parts of the country.
I should also like to comment on the news that is published in the newspapers this morning that the Franchise Bill, which was to have extended the franchise to some parts of the country, has now been withdrawn by the Chief Secretary because of the opposition of unofficial members of the Legislature. I thought that the Chief Secretary, if he is correctly reported, adopted an unnecessarily military attitude. He says, in rather threatening tones, that unofficial members must accept responsibility for the withdrawal of the Bill. They are, of course, pressing that the franchise should be more widely extended. It seems to me to be a quite natural desire and proposition to be put forward by a body like the Tanganyika African National Union.
I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary for what purpose has this proposed extension of the franchise been 646 withdrawn? Is it intended that there should now be new negotiations started with the leaders of the Tanganyika African National Union in order to get agreement on the franchise, or has it been withdrawn out of pique because they cannot get agreement? If it were the second, it would be reprehensible. I cannot believe that a Governor would behave in that way. In that case, there must be some other explanation, and I should like to know what it is.
I am bound to remind the Under-Secretary that the Governor and the Government here have been very slow in introducing any extension of the franchise whatsoever. It is five years since Professor Mackenzie reported on the possibility of extending constituencies on a single member basis with a communal vote. Five years have gone by, and we have now reached this stage in which a Bill is introduced into the Assembly and is almost immediately withdrawn because opposition is proposed to it.
Certainly, the franchise was to be withdrawn on a very narrow basis. I am told that it excluded both grade 2 school teachers in the primary schools and African nurses. If neither of those categories are worthy of being included in the franchise, it cannot be expected to meet with much acquiesence on the part of those who are most directly involved in the legislation. The qualifications, I am told, are that one must have property of £500, or an annual income of £200—the average income is £13 a year, so there will not be many Africans included in that basis—or education up to standard 12.
I should like to pass to the subject of West Africa. The conference on Nigeria is about to start and, therefore, I should not like to say anything that would make the task of the Colonial Secretary more difficult there. I should, however, like to say how pleased we must all be that the Nigerian delegation is coming here to speak with a united voice. At one time it seemed unlikely that the North, West and East could agree, but now they seem to have reached agreement. That must be a source of satisfaction, and it must make it very easy for the Colonial Secretary to handle this problem to have unity on the other side.
I should like to say a word about Sierra Leone, where the results of the elections are coming in. The new House of Representatives is being formed as a result 647 of these elections, and I am bound to say, without taking any sides in the political struggles out there, that all of us ought to be glad that the national parties seem to be thriving rather than those based upon particular sections of the community or geographical sections of the electorate. It seems far better that we should have a national expression of opinion than regional or sectional expressions of opinion.
I should like to know whether the Under-Secretary will raise with the new House of Representatives the unnecessary rule which prevents candidates from taking their seats if they have been disqualified at any time from practising their profession. This, I understand, is an indefinite disqualification. The matter has been raised in the House here. The candidate concerned stood for the election and was defeated, so that for practical and immediate purposes the issue does not arise, but there is an issue of principle here.
The rules of candidature, I understand, as drawn in this way are more rigid than they are as drawn for membership of this House, and it seems to me quite wrong that somebody should be indefinitely prevented from taking his seat in the House of Representatives, even if elected, because at some time in the past he may have been disqualified for any period, however short, from practising his own profession.
Indeed, the Sierra Leone Bar Association has sent a deputation to the Governor asking that this disqualification should be removed. That seems a reasonable proposal, and although the Under-Secretary may argue that it is for the House of Representatives to take the initiative, I hope he will not leave it in that way. This is something on which we ourselves might state our views before the appropriate members of the Sierra Leone Legislature. The Colonial Office will be having constitutional discussions with Sierra Leone as a result of these new elections, and we must be prepared to see them take further steps along the road to self-government, and indeed we should welcome those steps forward.
As far as I can gather from the programme of the party that has won the election, both roads and taxation are in the forefront of the programme. These 648 will need a very sound economy, and the fact that the economy seems to be turning over from a peasant economy to more reliance on mineral exploitation may help them to raise the revenue that they must have if they are to push these reforms forward, and we shall have a substantial responsibility in this matter.
May I say a word about Singapore? While we were delighted with the formation of the new self-governing States within the Commonwealth—and we welcome the agreement that the Colonial Secretary reached—I wonder why he had to put the sting in the tail at the last moment. There was apparently one major disagreement. Apart from the request by the Chief Minister that Singapore's affairs should be handled in this country by the Commonwealth Relations office—they are left with the Colonial Office—there was only one major disagreement, and that was about the condition that persons who have been engaged in subversive activities shall not be eligible for election to the Assembly. The Times reported that the delegation protested at the unilateral imposition of the constitution.
Singapore Ministers will have full responsibility, as I understand, for preserving internal security and for preventing subversion. Why, therefore, was this barb thrust into an agreement which would otherwise have been acceptable? Is it true that it was introduced at the very last stage, right at the end of the discussions? If it was, why was it left until then? Why was it brought in when the delegation was about to go from this country, and when it would make more dubious the chance of acceptance of the proposals by the people of Singapore? Quite apart from the reason for that— and I hope we shall be told the reason why that condition was brought in at that stage—why was it brought in at all?
Anyone who has met the Singapore leaders feels that they are quite capable of looking after themselves and of dealing with the Communists, if they feel they are likely to be a danger. There is nothing more likely to weaken the authority of the Ministers there, as I see it, or of the leaders of the non-Communist parties, than the suggestion that they are not capable of handing some of their own people themselves. Certainly, the view of Mr. Lim Yew Hock, who has expressed it publicly, is that the electors 649 would take care of those people, anyway. I say to the Colonial Secretary that it was a mistake to bring this condition in right at the last moment, without, so far as I have heard, any previous intimation of it.
I understand that on 30th April the Legislative Assembly approved the agreement, but refused to accept the condition that "subversives" should be prohibited from contesting the 1958 elections. It is not too late to reconsider this proposition. I understand from the newspaper reports, which are all we have to rely upon in these matters, that Mr. Lim Yew Hock intends to raise this matter again, and to come back again to see the Colonial Secretary. I ask that in that event, in the event of further negotiations, the Colonial Secretary should reconsider this issue. He is completely safeguarded, and there is no reason unnecessarily to humiliate the leaders of political opinion in Singapore in this way.
I turn to the last of the Colonial Territories whose affairs I wish to raise today, and that is British Guiana. Elections are to be held in August, I understand.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I would say, in parenthesis, in view of the interjection of my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), that no doubt a number of my hon. Friends will want to deal in greater detail than I shall with some of the problems that I am going to raise, and they will, perhaps, re-emphasise some of them and, perhaps, present some of them rather differently. I do not think that that will necessarily weaken the debate; I think it will strengthen it, even though it may mean that there will not be continuity of theme in the debate.
A number of us are disturbed by the situation in that Colony where elections are due to take place in August. The question which arises there, and which is causing dissatisfaction, is: how does the Governor intend to use his powers, after the election, to nominate those members of the new Assembly for whom he is responsible? I believe that there are 14 to be elected, three official members, and 11 to be nominated by the Governor. It is quite clear, is it not, to us all that the Governor could so use his power of nomination as to frustrate the will of the electorate? That is quite clear. Even if 650 one party got all the elective seats he could use his powers to nominate 11 members to frustrate the result of the election.
In Trinidad, a similar situation arose, but after the election it was decided that those who were to be nominated by the Governor should broadly represent the wishes of the electorate, as they had been expressed. I also understand that in the agreement which has been reached for the forthcoming elections in Mauritius it has been promised that the Governor will not use his powers of nomination to frustrate the will of the electorate.
I ask the Colonial Secretary if the Governor will undertake so to use his powers in British Guiana that the will of the electorate is not frustrated. I fully understand the difficulty of a situation in which Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham are competing in this election. I have read Dr. Jagan's speeches. In particular, I read that very long speech which he made at his annual conference last year. It seemed to me to be a perfect repetition of Stalinist thinking. I would say that he is one of the last of the Stalinists.
However, if we are to have an election we really cannot hold it on the basis that we shall concede the results of the election only provided that a certain party does not win. If we have decided to hold the election we have got to go through with it. It seems to me that, having decided to take this next constitutional step, the Colonial Secretary, whatever the results of the election, must allow the people of that country to determine their future. We do not know that Dr. Jagan will win the election, but, suppose, he does, I am not saying that if he does, and takes up office, and then proceeds to govern in a way which makes a second election unlikely—in other words, if he tries to establish a totalitarian régime— the Governor should not use the considerable powers he has in reserve.
However, I do not see how we can at this stage try in this way to tie the results of the election so as to ensure that even if one of the Communistic parties gets a majority we prevent it from functioning by the Governor's nominating sufficient people to ensure that that party has not a majority. If we are to have this election we must take the risks of it. We must have a certain amount of trust. 651 We have to see what the result is. I would, therefore, appeal to the Colonial Secretary to take this risk and to announce now, or have it announced by the Governor, that he will not frustrate the victory of any political party through his own nominations.
I would quote what Mr. McKitterick, who has recently been there, wrote in an article recently in the Manchester Guardian:The real strength of Dr. Jagan and Mr. Burnham lies in the economic frustration of a country where the pressure of population is rising and where so little is being done.The burden of his argument was that the Government were lethargic and that no real steps were being taken to open up the country or to raise the standards in a great many areas of the country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sedge-field (Mr. Slater), who has recently come back from that territory, has given us a most graphic account of the absence of road communications, which are a necessary beginning to opening up any territory at all, for there must be communication with the interior. There is no doubt there is a great deal to be done, and the sooner we have a representative Government to get ahead with the work the better it will be for the people of British Guiana.
For the last five minutes of my speech I should like to make some general remarks about our own arrangements in the House of Commons for handling colonial affairs, and the relationship between the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. We have had two recent examples of the way in which it is becoming increasingly unsatisfactory. Mr. Lim Yew Hock, when he came here from Singapore, asked that the affairs of Singapore should be transferred from the Colonial Office to the Commonwealth Relations Office. That request was rejected by the Government. I do not complain of that, but I mention it to show that there is complaint about which office handles some of these affairs. Sir Roy Welensky has asked that a special office should be set up to handle the affairs of the Central African Federation.
I have been turning back the records, and I see that, as recently as 1930–31, the same Minister held the joint posts of 652 Commonwealth Relations, or the Dominions Office, as it then was, and Colonial Secretary, and, apparently, the separation into two offices is a comparatively recent innovation. I well understand, and I think we have to be very careful here, that every African, or every member of a territory that has not yet fully achieved self-determination, should regard himself as completely protected, and that no alteration in our administrative machinery here should give him the feeling that that degree of protection is lessened. That seems to me absolutely cardinal, for in politics symbolism is extremely important.
Nevertheless, I can see that an unsatisfactory relationship is being created in our Commonwealth and colonial affairs. First, in the Colonial Office, even under the energetic administration of the Colonial Secretary—and whatever other adjective I might apply to him, I would never say that he was not energetic— obviously, he is working himself out of a job. He is in a declining office.
On the other hand, the functions, or at any rate the responsibilities, of the Commonwealth Relations Office are increasing. The Commonwealth Relations Office is not one of my favourites. It never seems to me to be much more than a post office, and it seems to have a purely negative conception of its relationship to the Commonwealth as a whole. I am sorry to say this, but the hon. Gentleman who is at present Under-Secretary of State has not been there long enough to bear any responsibility for it. [An HON. MEMBER: "He was at the Post Office."] Perhaps that is why they transferred him.
This seems to me to warrant a fresh look at the relationship between these two offices. There is something to be said for looking at the staffing of both these offices, and I should like to see the Commonwealth Relations Office injected with a little of the vigour, energy and positive Commonwealth conception that undoubtedly inspires the Colonial Office. There is a feeling in the Colonial Office that there is an end in view and an objective, and the Department is trying to work towards it, but I cannot see anything like that emerging in the Commonwealth Relations Office.
Therefore, without reaching any conclusion, because I am bearing in mind the 653 whole time that we should recognise our very great obligations to the coloured members of the Commonwealth, who feel that they are in need of our protection, I ask that we should re-examine this relationship. It seems to me to be quite absurd that one's status at the Prime Ministers' conference or in the Commonwealth itself should depend to some extent, according to a common view, upon who deals with one in the home Government. That seems to me to be nonsense.
I come now to another matter—Parliamentary Questions. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who is a great arithmetician, worked out the other day that the Colonial Office receives 800 Questions a year. They appear on the Notice Paper on only one day, and, because of the way in which the Departments revolve, for Oral Questions, that means that the Colonial Office comes up for questioning only every three, four or five weeks. That seems to me to be increasingly unsatisfactory, and I understand that the Colonial Secretary is not unsympathetic to that view and that he would like to appear on more frequent occasions so that he could defend his policy.
There are, I believe, some conversations going on at present, and it is the view of this side of the Committee that there should be an additional day devoted to Questions to the Colonial Office, and that it should be arranged in such a way that Questions should appear for Oral Answer every week, so that we can have the opportunity, as these matters arise throughout the Commonwealth, to present the Colonial Secretary with them at no longer than seven-day intervals.
Another matter which I want to raise, because of the growing importance of Commonwealth and colonial discussions —and I approach it with some reluctance and hesitation—is the committee system. I am no lover of the committee system as such. I do not want to see it grow unduly in the House, because far too many of us spend far too much time in committees now and not enough on the Floor of the House, but I think there is a case for considering here, to put it no higher than that, whether we do not need another forum outside this Chamber in which the affairs of these territories can be considered at regular intervals and in which information can be obtained.
654 I fully realise that, in what I have said about the territories I have been discussing, I am relying upon newspaper reports and on the voluntary work done by a number of devoted persons who spend their time in gathering this information in order to provide an informed opinion both in this House and in the country. This is really a rather slapdash way of doing it, when we have responsibilities for about 80 million people in 47 different territories, and I am, therefore, putting the thought—it is not a proposal —to the Committee that we ought to consider whether there is not a better way of organising our affairs so that the problems of the territories overseas could be brought before hon. Members of this House more regularly and more officially than they are at present.
I would add a comment on what I regard as an absolutely ridiculous situation, which is the infinitesimal sum that we spend every year on hon. Members of this House visiting our Colonial Territories and our Commonwealth Territories. It really is quite monstrous that, where we have the responsibilities of this House being exercised at the moment for 80 million people, we should last year have spent, or the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association should have spent, £7,000 on visits by Members of this House to overseas territories. I cannot believe that I am pressing against a door which is firmly shut. I imagine that the Colonial Secretary would welcome an extension of these visits; at any rate, I hope he would.
At present, if I may put it in this way, we spend on these visits, in 12 months, one-tenth of the sum which an Italian football club was prepared to pay to secure a footballer a fortnight ago; or, shall we say, it is equal to one of the smaller prizes in Littlewood's football pool in a bad week. This is the way in which we are governing, or attempting to govern, our great territories overseas.
If, because of the failure of information to percolate here, trouble arises in three, four or five years' time, there will be no hesitation on the part of the Ministry of Defence to send a battalion of soldiers, and we could get 1,500 out there without hardly blinking an eyelid. I think that a visit of three Members of Parliament today is worth many companies of British soldiers in four or five 655 years' time, and that we should forestall a lot of trouble if we were prepared to extend this system.
Speaking for myself, I have got to the stage when I prefer to stay at home, but I hope that nobody will think that there is any intention in this matter to get jaunts round the Commonwealth. It seems to me that it really is part of our duty that there should be regular contacts between parts of the Commonwealth for which we are responsible and ourselves. I was ashamed the other day to hear that when Uganda wanted four Members of Parliament to go out to visit that territory the territory itself paid all the fares and expenses. Is not that a rather shabby way of running the Commonwealth? There is much more here that the Treasury ought to do, and I believe that it would be the wish of the House of Commons that it should.
May I conclude with a reference to scientific research in the Commonwealth? The Reports of the Government's Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy are extremely valuable, and I will only mention that both the Eighth and Ninth Reports, published during the last two years, have commented upon the inadequacy of scientific research in the Colonial Territories. I understand that we have throughout the whole commonwealth only 450 scientists, one-tenth of the number we have in this country, and yet, as is pointed out in these reports by Sir Solly Zuckerman, who presided over one of the working parties, the great problems that confront the Colonial Territories today are the pressure of populations and food supplies.
We really cannot claim that we are doing our duty to the people of the Colonial Territories unless the advantages that they are securing in the way of better health, caused, for example, by the abolition of a number of the dreaded diseases that used to afflict people in these territories, are followed up by positive proposals and measures for increasing the access to food and the capacity for producing crops and also for reducing the pressure of population. I believe that we ought to follow these matters up very much more than we have been doing so far.
I know that there are some colonial research workers in a number of these 656 territories. The Report recommends, for example, the institution of an institute of tropical agriculture in this country, which should form a centre from which research could be directed and information could be channelled and to which people working in the tropics could come to see what is being done and then go out again. I understand that this Report went to Ministers in November. I should like the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to tell us whether he has any information about the decision reached on this issue.
In the last six months, during which I have been making a detailed study of colonial affairs, I have marvelled more and more at the devotion with which a number of hon. Members give practically their whole time to following the affairs of our fellow-citizens in our overseas territories. A great deal of devoted work goes on in the House of Commons among hon. Members of all parties which rarely comes to the surface and is rarely acknowledged. It is valuable work in preparing the people of the Commonwealth for self-government and in making relations between us and them easier than otherwise they would be.
As one who has joined this company, for the time being, at least, I should like to say how much I welcome the privilege of working with all those hon. Members who are doing their best to ensure that the approach of the people of the Commonwealth to self-government is made in a way that does honour to us all.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Profumo)
I am sure that the Committee has listened with very great interest to the thoughtful and constructive speech which has been made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan).
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that because our deliberations are, of necessity, frequently concentrated on those trouble spots and parts of the Colonies that hit the headlines, there is the possibility of an impression being created that Parliament is not sufficiently concerned with the problems of other territories to whose people our responsibility is equally great.
Therefore, we on this side of the Committee are grateful to the Opposition for giving us a chance of having a debate 657 today so that we may consider progress in some of these territories upon which the limelight does not so often fall, and also to survey the Colonial Territories as a whole and, indeed, our general policy.
I shall hope to show that in British colonial policy today we have one of the most inspiring endeavours which has ever been undertaken in the whole history of humanity. We are involved in an enterprise in which we and our colonial partners can justifiably take immense pride. We are building new nations throughout the world, we are leading people of all races, creeds and colours to a state in which, we hope, they will be able to stand on their own feet, politically independent and economically prosperous.
I think that the Committee will agree that, apart from the policies of successive Governments here in the United Kingdom and, indeed, the interest to which the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East referred, of large numbers of Members of Parliament, the credit for the successes which have been achieved is chiefly due to the colonial administrators, the doctors, teachers, engineers, agriculturists, missionaries and many others in all walks of life who have given such devoted service to the colonial peoples, and, indeed, to the fundamental intelligence, reasonableness and capacity to learn of the colonial people themselves.
Let us consider some of the more recent achievements and some of the developments which are now in progress in various Colonies. The achievement of Ghana's independence has been of significance not simply to the people of that territory, but throughout the whole of Africa and, indeed, all our Colonies. In August, the Federation of Malaya is due to celebrate the inauguration of independence within the Commonwealth.
Later this month, my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will preside over a conference of delegates from Nigeria, which will decide the next steps to be taken in the constitutional progress of that territory. In Tanganyika, the Governor has recently announced further steps towards constitutional advance. My right hon. Friend will be dealing more fully with the affairs of that Colony later in the debate.
Only last Thursday evening I was able to give some information about recent 658 constitutional developments in Zanzibar. Elections for the Legislative Council are to be held there for the first time on 21st July.
As the Committee will remember, a series of meetings was held at the end of February between delegates from Mauritius, the Governor, Sir Robert Scott, and myself to discuss the new constitution to be introduced in 1958. A report on this conference has already been given to Parliament.
Mauritius, with its multi-racial and multi-religious character, is not an easy country for which to devise a constitution which will prove fully acceptable to all in every detail. I was much impressed, however, by the willingness of the delegates to try to reconcile their differences. The Governor returned to Mauritius last month and he is now arranging for the introduction of the Ministerial system which is the first stage of the main changes to be introduced in the autumn of next year.
It was not possible at the meetings in London to reach agreement on the system of voting to be adopted. The question was whether or not to have single-member constituencies. It was finally agreed that a committee of three people from outside Mauritius should be appointed by my right hon. Friend to look into the question. This commission will examine whether it is possible to divide Mauritius satisfactorily into single-member constituencies. If the commission finds that it is not possible, it will proceed to settle boundaries for 11 three-member constituencies. All the delegates from Mauritius pledged themselves to cooperate in working whichever of these systems will be introduced. My right hon. Friend is now taking urgent steps to appoint the members of the commission so that it can get to work as soon as possible.
The task of the recent Singapore Constitutional Conference was to find a solution which would accord to Singapore the fullest measure of self-government, short of independence, and, at the same time, place no unnecessary obstacles in the way of eventual merger with the Federation of Malaya, reserve to Her Majesty's Government the right of occupation, control and use of the base, and provide the necessary machinery for consultation on matters of mutual interest.
659 Agreement was reached on a constitution which will confer full internal self-government on Singapore, leaving the United Kingdom Government responsible only for the defence and the external affairs of the territory, for which purpose they will have the right of occupation and use of the base. In recognition of its advanced status, Singapore will be known as the "State of Singapore". It will have a Malayan-born Queen's representative and will have local citizenship equal in status to that of fully independent members of the Commonwealth. The Committee will have been glad to have heard that the agreement has now been endorsed by the Singapore Legislative Assembly.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East mentioned one point on which agreement was not reached. As a temporary condition, Her Majesty's Government have insisted that people who are in prison because they have been engaged in subversive activities should not be eligible for election to the first Legislative Assembly of the State of Singapore. It is vitally important to get the new constitution off to a good start and we felt that some temporary restriction was necessary to prevent the forces of Communism, known to be strong in Singapore, from using the democratic machinery to destroy democracy.
No one can seriously think that people who are known to be engaged in subversive activities are fit and proper people to play a responsible part in the first legislature of this self-governing State. Safeguards against the abuse of this provision, exist in the form of an appeal tribunal, and in the fact that the Governor will continue to have reserve powers until the introduction of the new constitution.
Incidentally, there have been indications that the public reaction to the "subversives" clause is not as unfavourable as that of the political parties in Singapore. A leading article in the Singapore Standard has stated that… the provision would he supported unreservedly by all intelligent and loyal citizens "—and thatits inclusion was of prominent importance to the future peace and welfare of Singapore.Another newspaper carried the headline:A big cheer for the U.K. clause on the ' bad-hats'.660 It went on to say that the clause would be welcomed by the man and woman in the street.
Conditions really are very different in Singapore from those in this country. Singapore is in the front line of the battle with Communism, and politics there can mean life or death. My right hon. Friend must hold himself free, if he is convinced that it is necessary, to do what he can to ensure the growth and emergence of the democratic principle and, indeed, to protect it.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I appreciate the action of the hon. Gentleman. He has used the phrase "subversive persons in prison." Could he tell us whether this reservation also applies to persons in detention who have not been placed on trial?
§ Mr. Profumo
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has picked me up on that point. I do not wish to mislead the Committee. I am sorry I used the expression "prison." Yes, those who are detained for subversive activity and are in detention are debarred, purely as a temporary measure for this first election, from standing as candidates.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
Does the hon. Gentleman mean people who are detained in prison at the time, or people who are detained in prison at the time of the coming elections?
§ Mr. Blackburn
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that during the past year the Singapore Government have had difficulties to contend with, but that they have handled them effectively? Surely they could be trusted to handle this problem effectively, also.
§ Mr. Profumo
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have a chance of elaborating his points. I want to place on record, out of respect for what the hon. Gentleman has said, what the Committee wants to know, namely, the reasons why my right hon. Friend and Her Majesty's Government have felt compelled to take this step at this time.
In Sierra Leone, a new and enlarged House of Representatives is now being elected. My right hon. Friend has agreed that should the new House wish to put 661 forward proposals for changes in the composition and formation of the Executive Council, and other related constitutional matters, he will be prepared to consider them. The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the question of disqualifications for election to the House of Representatives. As these disqualifications were introduced at the request of the Sierra Leone Ministers, my right hon. Friend did not think it would be right for him to overrule them in a matter which, in the Governor's view, was designed to secure high standards of integrity in public life.
Nor did my right hon. Friend think that it would be right to ask the Governor to postpone the elections to allow the petition which was put forward to be further considered. The life of the late Legislative Council has already been extended for six months. However, my right hon. Friend has undertaken that if, after the General Election a different view about these disqualifications is expressed in the new House of Representatives, he will be prepared to consider the matter afresh.
My right hon. Friend also proposes, in consultation with the Governor, to take up the matter again with Sierra Leone Ministers when they have settled in after the elections are over. I hope that answers a point which many other hon. Members may also have had in mind.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Of course, the House of Representatives will be composed of a majority which is opposed to the Leader of the party who is so disqualified. Therefore, I hope that the Minister himself, as the hon. Gentleman says, will take the initiative and will not necessarily wait for it to come from the House of Representatives.
§ Mr. Profumo
I have indicated that. But if this had been a really serious problem in the minds of the people in Sierra Leone I believe that it would have had a wider reflection in the results of the election.
§ Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)
Is it not a fact that the petition was signed by over 5,000 citizens? Is not that considerable support?
§ Mr. Profumo
That petition was signed by a large number of people, but it does not appear to have been the major political issue at the time of the election or we would have found that some of 662 these people would have been returned, and that it would have had considerable effect on the behaviour during the election. So I do not think it was as serious as it has been made out. None the less, my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider the matter with the Governor when the elections are over.
Now a word about the West Indies. The most important current political activity in the West Indies concerns the federation of those territories which decided to unite at the conference held in London in February, 1956. The Standing Federation Committee is holding its third meeting this week in Trinidad, where it is expected to reach final agreement on proposals for a draft constitution. The Committee has already decided that the Federation shall be known as "The West Indies", and on its recommendation a nucleus of senior federal officers has been appointed. An interim, part-time Public Service Commission is now being set up.
There is still a considerable amount of planning to be done before the full establishment of the Federal Council in the spring of 1958, following the first elections to the Federal House of Representatives and the appointment of members to the Senate. Some of it must await the assumption of office of the Governor-General in the coming autumn, when the interim provisions of the Federal constitution will come into effect. Our earnest hope is that the Order in Council, incorporating the constitution which is now being prepared, should be accepted by early affirmative Resolutions when it is laid in draft before both Houses of Parliament in the course of the next few months.
In British Guiana, we have recently made important progress in the direction of a return to democratic institutions. Under the Order in Council of 19th December, 1956, there will again be an elected element in the Legislative Council. The arrangement gives considerable flexibility within the constitution in allowing, without further amendment of the constitutional instruments, future variations upwards in the number of elected members, and downwards in the number of nominated members. For the first elections on 12th August, however, the number of elected members will be 14. The matter of the nominated members 663 is one for the Governor, as the Committee will recognise. I have no doubt that he will be guided in his decision about nominations by the attitude of the political leaders when the time comes. I know, however, that the Governor is as anxious as any that this should be a successful step towards the return of democratic Government in the Colony.
What we have done here is to amend the interim Constitution so as to allow for a very large stride forward. The Constitution still remains interim in character. It is certainly not the idea of Her Majesty's Government of what should be a settled constitution for British Guiana, but we cannot entirely put out of our minds the events of 1953, and we must show caution in following the uphill road to fully representative Government once more.
However, we were anxious that the period of marking time, which was recommended by the Robertson Commission, should be brought to an end at the earliest possible moment, and we are satisfied that this moment has arrived. What is now immediately ahead of us is a testing time during which we sincerely hope that the political parties in British Guiana, and particularly the elected members, will show, by a sense of responsibility in the conduct of public affairs, that they can safely and properly be trusted to shoulder yet more responsibilities, and so earn the right to further steps in the direction of self-government.
§ Miss Lee
Just for the sake of clarity, does the hon. Gentleman mean that some time has to elapse after the election in August when one has the elected members on probation? At the moment, we are left in a great deal of doubt. Cannot it be left entirely to the Governor to decide what is to be done immediately following the August elections? Or can we have an answer to the question already asked by my hon. Friend, whether the wishes of the electorate will be respected?
§ Mr. Profumo
I have already tried to answer the question which was asked by the hon. Gentleman. I want to be absolutely frank. The matter of how the nominated members are nominated must be left to the discretion of the Governor. Therefore, my right hon. Friend and I cannot say any more about it.
664 What I was trying to say was that the Governor is anxious that there should be a real advance. It would be wholly wrong for us to say anything by way of committing the Governor or Her Majesty's Government as to how the nominations will be made. All I would say is that we appreciate what the hon. Lady and the hon. Gentleman have in mind, and we are confident that the Governor will take the right decision.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. He says that consideration will be given to the attitude of the political leaders "at the time." In the event of the election resulting in a clear majority for one party, could he not undertake now that the nominations procedure will not be used in such a way as to frustrate the will of the electorate? After all, such an assurance has been given in respect of the Mauritius elections to take place later this year. What is the difference in this case?
§ Mr. Profumo
The hon. Gentleman has held office and knows that it would be wrong for me to give hypothetical undertakings. I do not take his question badly, but I must not give hypothetical undertakings. I fully appreciate how hon. Members opposite feel about this, and I am not trying to hide anything. I am sure that what has been said is clearly understood by hon. Members on all sides. I do not necessarily mean "agreed", but I hope it is understood.
I should now like to say something about recent developments in Aden. Since my right hon. Friend's statement on 6th March, there has been a further succession of frontier incidents in the Western Aden Protectorate near the border with the Yemen. These have been more in the nature of irritants than serious threats to security. The Yemeni authorities have continued to concentrate on the subversion of tribesmen inside the Protectorate. Meanwhile, negotiations have continued with the Government of the Yemen towards holding a meeting between representatives of Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Yemen to restore peaceful conditions.
In Aden Colony itself an informal arrangement has already been brought into force whereby each of the unofficial members of the Legislative Council has assigned to him one or more departments 665 in the affairs of which he will specially concern himself and about which he will be provided with the fullest possible information. An additional unofficial member of the Executive Council has been appointed from the Arab community, and a committee has been set up to consider ways of speeding the process of appointing Adenis to fill Government posts.
The closing of the Suez Canal, as hon. Members will realise, caused considerable disruption in the economic life of the Colony, including some unemployment, particularly in the port, which both Government and employers took steps to mitigate as much as possible. It is now hoped that the restoration of shipping through the Suez Canal will restore the previous prosperity of the port.
Despite these troubles, the labour situation has remained quiet, but I ought to tell the Committee that I realise that there is scope for the improvement of relations between employers and employed and for guidance to the emergent trade unions. For those purposes, one of the Secretary of State's labour advisers is at present visiting Aden with Mr. James Young, a prominent ex-United Kingdom trade union official, and Mr. Dunning, of the Colonial Section of the Trades Union Congress.
Mr. Dunning will stay in Aden for some time and will advise the local unions on day-to-day problems of administration and organisation. We are most grateful for the ready co-operation which the T.U.C. has given in this effort, and I should also mention the valuable advice and help which has been received from the Secretary of the Overseas Employers' Federation, who visited Aden last year.
In the Somaliland Protectorate a Legislative Council has been established consisting of the Governor as President, three ex-officio members, five official members and six unofficial members. This Council is due to have its first meeting on 21st May. Hon. Members will probably wish to join with me in extending good wishes to all members of this new Council.
In October, 1956, Sir Christopher Cox, the Secretary of State's educational adviser, visited the Protectorate, and, in consultation with the Protectorate Government, submitted recommendations, in consequence of which a comprehensive 666 plan for expanding the educational services has been prepared. Separate provision is being made for scholarships for study abroad. These measures, I think, will enable the Somalis to play a steadily increasing part in the government of their country.
A large-scale plan for water development is being considered, and schemes for the extension of agriculture, forestry, irrigation and soil conservation are being carried out. It is also the intention to press ahead in the near future with the improvement of Berbera port. Finally, it is hoped that a large commercial enterprise will soon begin oil drilling operations in the Protectorate.
The livelihood of the nomadic inhabitants of the protectorate depends substantially on their enjoying access to the Haud and Reserved Areas of Ethiopia. In April, 1956, discussions were held in Addis Ababa between representatives of Her Majesty's Government and the Ethiopian Government on a number of topics including difficulties which had arisen in the operation of the 1954 Agreement. Some of these problems were ironed out, and other difficulties were referred to the British Liaison Officer and the Ethiopian Government's representative in the area, and their talks are still continuing. Meanwhile, I am happy to tell the Committee that the situation in the area since last autumn has been quiet.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
Is the land on which there will be prospecting owned by the Government, or by whom is it owned? To whom will the royalties go should any oil be found?
I would rather have notice of the details of that question, and I will write to the right hon. Gentleman. I am not absolutely certain of the conditions. I do know, however, that it is being done by concession, and I imagine that it will be done by concession in the normal way. I have already said that it will be done by private enterprise. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will permit me to write to him, which will enable me to get the facts right.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Might I ask the hon. Gentleman a factual question about the dispute in the Haud? 667 Can he tell us whether he intends to increase, or has already increased, the number of policemen on our side? I believe that we have only 220 police, yet under the terms of the Treaty we could increase the number to 700. Has the number of police risen since the dispute was at its worst last year?
§ Mr. Profumo
All I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that the number is that which has been asked for locally. I cannot say whether it is as high as the figure that he has quoted, but we have not been asked to increase the number.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The real test is whether the tribesmen are able to move freely across the boundary without hindrance from the Ethiopian authorities. Can the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that that is so?
§ Mr. Profumo
I cannot give that assurance, because that is one of the problems which was not ironed out and about which discussions are still going on. It will be difficult if there are too many interruptions. Other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. My right hon. Friend will be speaking later and will be happy to deal with these other problems. If I try to deal with them I shall take too much time, and I already have to deal with a number of matters which the Committee may like to have on the record before the debate continues.
I was about to deal with one or two other aspects of general colonial development. There has been a really remarkable development of education in the Colonies. This is, naturally, most noticeable in countries in which formal education did not exist until comparatively recently. In Africa, there has been a striking increase in the facilities which have been made available for the vast population of school age. This is well illustrated in, for example, the four-fold increase since before the war in the enrolment in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria and East Africa. The rate of progress is being maintained, and since 1948 enrolment in these territories has doubled.
The number of girls attending school in the African and certain other territories is still not, of course, equal to the 668 corresponding figure for boys, but the encouragement given to their education has begun to take effect, and during the last five years the rate of increase in enrolment has been 25 per cent. higher for girls than for boys.
In the Far East, a similar, or even more striking, increase in school enrolment has been achieved. There has been a four-fold increase in Singapore and the doubling of enrolment in Malaya in the last ten years. In territories such as the West Indies, where the percentage of children enrolled is high, efforts have been concentrated on secondary education. In Jamaica, for example, enrolment in grant-aided secondary schools has doubled since the end of the war.
Progress in the schools depends to a very large extent on the provision of teachers and all overseas Governments have made great efforts to expand facilities for teacher-training. That is particularly true in Africa. Both in West and East Africa the number of teachers under training has doubled in the last six years, and elsewhere there has been similar progress. In Singapore, the rate has been even more striking, more than threefold.
I propose to say a few words about colonial students who come to this country to study. At the end of 1956, there were 12,622 colonial students in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, very nearly three times as many as there have been six years before. Of those colonial students, 3,170 were here on scholarships compared with 1,450 six years earlier. That seems to me to be substantial progress.
§ Mr. Profumo
It includes all students, including, I am glad to say, engineers. The Committee may like to know that since the end of 1946 about 34,000 colonial students have arrived in this country to take courses of full-time study and of those approximately one-third have come on scholarships, the remainder as private students.
Finally, I should say something about recent economic developments in the Colonies, because without that my picture will not be complete. The Colonies have made steady economic progress in 669 the last few years. Since 1950, the total value of goods and services produced in the Colonial Territories has risen by more than one-third and there are particularly striking figures in the output of bauxite in Jamaica, copper in Northern Rhodesia, diamonds in Tanganyika, and coffee in Uganda.
Colonial cement production rose from less than 100,000 tons per annum in 1950 to more than 500,000 tons in 1955. In the same period output of electricity more than doubled in the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanganyika, Trinidad and Uganda. The value of exports rose by about 14 per cent. between 1950 and 1955 and a further 6 per cent. in 1956. Imports increased by nearly one-half between 1950 and 1955 and a further 9 per cent. in 1956.
There has been considerable expansion in the rate of capital investment in the Colonies. Expenditure on such things as machinery, plant, equipment, buildings, and public works nearly doubled in value terms between 1950 and 1955. After allowing for price rises, there was an increase of more than one half in real terms over the period and a further substantial increase in 1956. The rate of expenditure by colonial Governments on development roughly doubled over that period. The Colonies' external reserves rose by more than three-quarters between the end of 1950 and the end of 1955.
The possession of these large assets is, of course, an important factor in the development planning of the Colonies and enables them to think and plan on a larger scale than would otherwise be possible. The revenue and expenditure of colonial Governments roughly doubled over that period. Her Majesty's Government are, of course, fully aware of the importance for colonial development of United Kingdom companies trading overseas and I am sure that the Committee will share my view of the value of the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his recent Budget to grant these corporations tax relief.
I hope that I have said enough to give hon. Members some idea of the progress we have been making recently in different territories and in different fields. I have touched on some of the difficulties and some of the problems which we have to solve. I do not want in any way to sound 670 complacent. Indeed, complicated and weighty problems still lie on the road ahead. I have no doubt that hon. Members will have criticisms to make. That is right and proper and my right hon. Friend would not have it otherwise, for such criticisms can certainly be most helpful to us in the discharge of our responsibilities. But, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the British people have achieved and are achieving in our formerly dependent territories and those which are still dependent things in which we have the right to take a very real pride.
Before I sit down, I should like to remind the Committee of something which seems to me of great importance in the world today about our colonial policy and about the success which we are achieving in it. As everybody knows only too well, the world is divided into two ideological camps, the Western peoples and the Communist peoples. They are facing each other with hostility and suspicion. It is vital that we should convince the uncommitted people of the world, particularly the many millions who live in Asia and Africa and others who are now involved in what Mr. Adlai Stevenson has called "The revolution of rising aspirations", that their future lies with the West and not with Communism. Our success or failure in this will depend very considerably on British colonial policy. I think that I have said enough to remind the Committee that that policy has not been wholly unsuccessful.
Our colonial policy is also of the greatest significance in our relations with the Communist world itself. I wish that I could have the chance of asking some of those who still subscribe to Karl Marx's view of colonialism—some of the more open-minded, if there are any open-minded, inhabitants of Russia and other Communist countries—to consider what has happened in India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Malaya and elsewhere in our Colonial Territories and to compare British colonial policy with Russian colonial policy, to compare our achievements in Ghana with theirs in Hungary, ours in Malaya with theirs in Eastern Germany, our activities in the Caribbean with theirs in the Baltic States, our treatment of the people of Nigeria with the way they have treated some of their subject peoples in Central Asia.
671 I should like to ask them to say sincerely and honestly whether they believe that British colonial policy today coincides more closely with Karl Marx's view of colonialism than does Russian colonial policy. I believe that if we could convince some of the Communist people, at any rate, that we are not the exploiting imperialists which they have been taught to believe, but that we are engaged in our Colonial Territories in a very great human endeavour for whose aims they themselves should have sympathy, we should perhaps come closer to achieving that mutual understanding with them upon which the lasting peace of the world depends.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) I welcome this discussion, a discussion which covers territories not normally covered in colonial debates, a discussion which is particularly designed to cover territories which are not the subject of tremendous controversy between the two sides of the Committee. I hope that we shall be able to pursue the discussion in that spirit, as we have done already; I myself certainly hope to do so.
In the first place, I want to refer to my hon. Friend's remarks about the Commonwealth Relations Office. Many of us are inclined to agree with him that it is steadily becoming more and more a simple post office. I realise the difficulty, as the decision does not lie with us alone. I notice that the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations is laughing at the thought of his transfer from one post office to another. I agree that it is a much bigger post office.
It is not only our affair, but the affair of other members of the Commonwealth, but I suggest that we should take the lead in proposing in some way to try to integrate a little more those nations which have now got their freedom and which, until now, have been concerned with disintegration in the sense of getting freedom and being allowed to go their own ways. Is it not now time to try to see whether we cannot get them to agree to work together a little more than they have done hitherto? I know that they work together in spirit, are part of the great Commonwealth, and pay tribute to 672 Her Majesty the Queen, but that is not enough. It would be very much better if we had some form of co-operation.
We have been told that there is great need for financial development in the Commonwealth, and we all agree about that. Cannot there be some kind of pooling of Commonwealth brains? Cannot some kind of organisation be set up to deal with this problem, so that all the financing will not be left to London but will be spread among all the members of the Commonwealth?
United Nations organisations are very often financed by many different countries, both rich and poor. The rich countries give a great deal, the poor a little, but each makes his contribution, and the result is a combined effort. We might have something on those lines in the Commonwealth. It would be a great help if we did. I ask the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to consider asking his noble Friend to make representations to the Prime Minister along those lines, so that at future Prime Ministers' conferences, something more positive may be done than has been done up to now.
I now turn to the question of visits by hon. Members and Ministers to different parts of the Commonwealth, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend. Although I represent a constituency which places football upon a very high level, I still agree with my hon. Friend that we are doing far too little in contributing towards the cost of hon. Members' visits to Colonies only one-tenth of the amount which the Italians have paid for a famous footballer. I hope that more money can be given, because it would be a great advantage to the Colonies, to this country, and, indeed, to the Government.
I also hope that the Government will consider whether it would not be right to appoint another Minister to the Colonial Office. I know that Scotland is a very important country, but even so I do not think it right that more Ministers should be responsible for Scotland than for the whole of the Colonies. There is a case for having more Ministers, so that they can pay more visits and see for themselves what is happening in the Colonies.
I think that I am the only Minister ever to visit one part of the world which I know the right hon. Gentleman would 673 himself immensely like to visit, if he had the opportunity, namely, the Pacific islands. We have recently had many discussions about one of them, but they have been in connection with only one activity, and that not a very constructive one, namely, the detonation of a hydrogen bomb. Many other considerations affect the Pacific islands and the lives of the people who live in them. They are not merely some islands in an area which is to be the scene of the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.
The island in which the bomb is to be detonated is only one among the vast number of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. I once asked an official in the Colonial Office if it would be possible to go to Christmas Island and also Ocean Island. "Yes," he said, "it is quite possible. We can certainly make arrangements for you to do so, but you realise, of course, that the two islands are 2,000 miles from each other." There is, in fact, a distance of 2,000 miles between two islands in a group governed by a system of remote control, with a governor in one island who, quite obviously, could not know as much as he would like to about what was happening in the others. Strange to relate, however, these islands have brought into being one of the best co-operative systems in the world, and I hope that the Secretary of State will tell us what is being done to help them develop it.
I turn from those islands to Fiji, which is a very happy island. I hope that because the island is happy we shall not say that we need not bother about it. As my hon. Friend said, it is worth while taking trouble in advance rather than waiting until trouble is upon us. I believe he said that two Members of Parliament in time were worth a regiment too late, or words to that effect. I heartily agree. I hope that Members of Parliament and Ministers will be able to pay sufficient visits to that island to see something of its problems. A real problem in Fiji arises from the fact that the Indian population is growing so fast that it surpasses the local population of Fijians. That problem must be remembered. At present, there is very good feeling among all races, but we must be certain that we do not find ourselves suddenly in a difficulty there, before we realise what is happening.
674 I now turn to some of the most beautiful but also most poverty-stricken and certainly most remote islands that I have ever seen, namely, the Solomon Islands. I should like to know what is happening in regard to the new organisation there. A Governor has been sent to the Solomon Islands, charged with the duty of looking after their interests, which was previously the responsibility of a High Commissioner for the whole Pacific. Is the Minister certain that we are not spending too much money in building imposing-very often hideously imposing—Whitehall offices for the Governor and his staff rather than concentrating upon developing the social services and helping the economic development of the islands?
In particular, is the geological survey complete? If so, has it shown any results? If so, can they be exploited? Will it, for instance, be possible to exploit upon a large scale the extensive forests there? I hope that it will, but I think that hon. Members should hear something about it. They should also be told something about a subject in relation to which I have frequently corresponded with the right hon. Gentleman, namely, the hospital. I agree that I saw it at a time when I and my hon. and right hon. Friends were responsible—and the right hon. Gentleman can quite fairly say that it was our fault—but it was then in a most terrible condition, and one which I thought a disgrace in any Colony. I hope that conditions are better now. I gather that improvements have been made. I hope that people can now go there without having showers of rain pouring on to their beds.
What is being done about communications? When I was there, they were appallingly bad—so bad that I suggested that any Governor who was appointed must, as a sine qua non, be a good sailor and never be seasick. I made that suggestion because it is not easy to journey from island to island in a small boat. In spite of all we have read about the Kon Tiki expedition I know that it is very difficult to go from island to island in a small boat. It would be better to have a reasonable system of communication between the islands.
I now turn to quite another part of the world, namely, the South African Protectorates. We should probably all agree about their very great importance. 675 First, they are important because of their size. Any guide book will tell us that Bechuanaland has an area of 275,000 square miles, compared with only 93,000 square miles in the whole of the United Kingdom, but that there are only 300,000 people in Bechuanaland as against 50 million in these islands.
I may be told, "Yes, but Bechuanaland is largely desert." That is quite true, but for all that something can be done about it. Today is the anniversary of the independence of Israel, and it may be a suitable day upon which to remind hon. Members of all that is being done by the Israelis in reclaiming their deserts. Can we not do something to see that the large areas of Bechuanaland are reclaimed, and that Bechuanaland becomes more prosperous than at present and capable of supporting a greater population? That can only be done if it gets help from the United Kingdom.
At present, I do not think that Bechuanaland is getting enough help. I would ask, first, for help to develop irrigation, because of the fact that so much of it is desert, and, secondly, for help to develop its communications. The Colonial Development Corporation wants, I understand—in fact, it says so in its Report—to carry out great developments in Swaziland. It is unable to do so at present owing to the lack of communications. It seems, therefore, to be of the utmost importance that adequate communications should be provided.
Not only do we want to see the economic development of these territories, but also the development of social services. Up to now education has been primarily the task of the missions—I think the Minister will agree with this— who have done it very well as far as they could with limited resources. It is not enough. We must see that the people have an adequate system of education.
When we come to the matter of health, the question is perhaps even more serious because there has been a considerable amount of tuberculosis there. Can the Minister say what is being done to combat this disease? What help is being sent from this country? I know that much has been done recently, and I do not want to give the impression that nothing is being done, but we cannot 676 do too much there. It is of the utmost importance that everything that can be done should be done to improve the conditions of these countries.
I pay tribute to the Colonial Development Corporation, which has invested no less than £6½ million in the Protectorates and made great progress with its work there. But now that the Corporation is losing Ghana, and may well lose other territories when they become free, it may be that there will be more money to spare for the Protectorates. I hope that there will be some reorganisation of the Colonial Development Corporation so that it can cover those territories which it is now losing, such as Ghana and, may be, Nigeria and others. For all that, I hope that in any reorganisation there will be an adequate amount of money available for the Protectorates, and certainly more than there is at present.
As I have said, the Protectorates are important because of their size, but that is not their main importance. Their main importance is, surely, that they are today an oasis of humanity in the midst of the desert of cruelty that is South Africa—
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
§ Mr. Dugdale
—and that we must do something to see that that oasis is managed to the best of our ability so that it can set an example.
I notice that the Minister shakes his head. If he does not think that the South African Government are a cruel Government, I shall be very surprised indeed. He will be one of the very few people in this House who does not think so.
We want to see the fullest possible development of the territories contiguous to South Africa so that they may show in every possible way not only that they are humanitarian and democratic, but that economic and social help can be given by a great nation to small nations that live in such surroundings as do these territories. I hope that everything possible will be done for them and that we shall play an every-increasing part in helping them to show to the South Africans and to the rest of the world what democracy can do.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner)
§ Lord Balniel
As you have called me to speak, Sir Leonard, I will not raise the point of order. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] May I seek your guidance, Sir Leonard, as to whether it is in order in this debate to discuss the Government of the Union of South Africa?
§ The Temporary Chairman
No. The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) was out of order, but he remained out of order for so short a time that I had no opportunity of calling him to order.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Further to that point of order. May I call your attention. Sir Leonard, to the statement in the Press this morning to the effect that the South African Government are coveting High Commission Territories for which we are responsible? Is it not necessary that a firm declaration should go out from this House that in no circumstances will they be allowed to take them over?
§ Lord Balniel
The Committee is very fortunate in the choice of subject for debate this afternoon because it enables our discussions to roam over the whole field of the Colonial Dependencies and Protectorates. Like the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), I would agree that all too often, owing to the great pressure of work, debates in the House on the Colonial Dependencies tend to be debates on a particular Colony that is involved in a crisis or on one which is patently heading towards a crisis, or, alternatively, a Colony where, through delay and neglect, the problems have become almost inextricably complicated. All too rarely is it possible for the House to debate the wider principles of policy which should govern our attitude towards the Colonial Dependencies which we are trying to lead forward to self-government. 678 Some of them will, in due course, achieve self-government and independence, but many of them do not contain within themselves the ingredients of sovereignty.
I confess that I am not full of confidence about many of the blueprints which are put forward to chart the course of the non-viable Colonies. I do not think that they serve a very useful purpose. I believe that the variety between the Colonies which are not viable is so great that they can only be treated on an ad hoc basis. It is in that spirit that I wish to look at two of the Colonies which, so far in this debate, have not been mentioned, but both of which I think, contain in themselves the ingredients necessary for sovereignty.
I wish for a moment to look at the constitutional changes which are impending in Uganda. It is our purpose and our policy to develop Uganda and to help it forward so that, in the fullness of time, it will be able to take its place as a self-governing territory. But it is also our purpose that Uganda should go forward and develop as a unitary State, not as a State based on any theory or concept of federalism, nor as a State consisting of a whole series of loose and uneasy agreements between the Lukikos of the various territories.
I think it is clear that if we are to achieve this ideal of forging a unitary State out of Uganda which will continue in existence when the indigenous populations are governing themselves, we must achieve a much better relationship between the various tribes in Uganda than exists at the present moment. We must do what we can to diminish the antagonisms, jealousies and ill-feeling which undoubtedly exist. Any hon. Member who knows the area will know, for instance, of the claim of the Bunyoro to what they call the five lost counties in Buganda. It is that kind of traditional jealousy which it is very important to help abate. In that sort of matter, our hands are tied and our powers are limited to persuasion because, of course, it depends in the last resort on the good will and co-operation of the indigenous peoples themselves.
One sphere in which Her Majesty's Government can play a part in helping to forge a unitary state of Uganda is that of constitutional advance. If we are trying to build a unitary State, surely it 679 stands absolutely to logic that we should try to secure that constitutional advance in Uganda should be on a uniform basis throughout the whole territory.
I welcome most warmly the agreement reached by my right hon. Friend on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in 1955 with the Buganda Government under which direct elections will take place this year in Buganda if the discussions at present proceeding with the Uganda Protectorate Government about the qualitative franchise come to a satisfactory conclusion.
While I welcome that agreement, however, I regret with equal sincerity that it has not been possible for Her Majesty's Government to make provision for similar advance in the Constitution for the other territories within Uganda. I realise some of the reasons why Her Majesty's Government did not think that this was possible, but it is to me regrettable that there will be no direct representation of the other territories in Uganda until, I think, 1961. That seems to me to make our task of forging a unitary State in Uganda far harder than is really necessary.
I regret it for two other reasons, one of which is that it seems to me to be inequitable between individuals. If there is an individual of a certain standard of intelligence, with a certain standard of literacy, owning a certain stake in the country, living in Buganda, then this year, if all goes well with the discussions, he will be entitled to direct representation in the Uganda Protectorate Government this year. If, however, there is a similar individual, with a similar standard of intellect, with a similar stake in the country, with a similar standard of literacy, and yet living just outside the borders of Buganda, he will not be entitled to direct representation in the Government, at least until 1961.
I also regret that it has not been possible to accelerate this constitutional advance outside Buganda because it increases and accentuates the disparity which exists in Uganda between the Baganda people, who, after all, form only 17 per cent. of the total population of Uganda, and the remainder.
I should like my right hon. Friend to explain the reasons, not of administra- 680 tive convenience but of principle, why it has been necessary to seek constitutional advance in Uganda on that basis, which is not uniform throughout the country. I should also like to ask him, although with, I admit, a less optimistic feeling of getting a satisfactory answer from my own point of view, whether there are any grounds for hoping that he might be prepared to reconsider the position of the territories outside Buganda with a view to putting forward to a date before 1961 the direct representation of the other territories to the Uganda Protectorate Government.
In saying this, I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no wish in any way to delay the constitutional advance of the Baganda, but I have every hope that it will be possible to make a bold advance in the constitution of the territories outside Buganda.
I should now like to look across the borders of Uganda at the Constitution in Kenya as it now exists. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the very firm and definite statement which he made last week that he would not authorise any constitutional change in Kenya before 1960 without the agreement of all the communities in Kenya. While welcoming that statement, however, I hope that my right hon. Friend would agree with me that if agreement could be reached between all the communities of Kenya, it would be very desirable to alter the Constitution of Kenya before 1960. If the Constitution of Kenya is not altered before then, I foresee that the lines of political advance there will be fraught with difficulty and, indeed, possibly with danger.
§ Lord Balniel
African elections have been held this year for the first time under the Lyttelton plan, and everyone, I think, would agree that that is a most desirable step forward towards self-government. It is none the less desirable in spite of the fact that the African members who were elected under the Lyttelton plan have now decided to opt out of the operation of the Lyttelton constitution. I hope that that is only a temporary decision on their part.
From now onwards, all sections of the community in Kenya will be voting on a communal franchise. The European will 681 be electing a European; the African will be electing an African; the Asian will be electing an Asian; and the Arab will be electing an Arab representative.
We can all see very clearly the advantages of a communal franchise. They are very well seen and clearly appreciated in Kenya itself, particularly the advantage of protection which it gives to the minority groups in Kenya, especially in a country where there is not that sense of mutual confidence between the races which is so desirable or where there is, indeed, a mutual subconscious fear between races.
While these advantages of the communal franchise are very apparent indeed to people living in Kenya, less apparent to them but none the less real are the disadvantages accompanying the communal franchise, including the disadvantage that it is hardening and perpetuating political thinking on racial lines in a country which we wish to see developed on multi-racial lines.
As I am not optimistic that agreement will be reached between the African elected members and the European elected members, I hope that my right hon. Friend might consider it possible to use his good offices to try to achieve some kind of agreed change in the Constitution. I think it is absolutely necessary that we should continue with the communal franchise as it exists at the moment if we are to protect the minority groups. If necessary, the communal franchise should be extended, but we should also try to create some kind of bridge or superstructure on a common roll basis between the various races in the constitution.
If agreement cannot be reached before 1960, two elections will have been fought on a purely racial franchise, and on a racial franchise in which the grooves are getting deeper, in which the European members look solely to, and act solely on behalf of, the European electorate and the African members look solely to, and act solely on behalf of, the African electorate. As the years go by, those grooves of racial franchise will grow deeper and deeper, and will make difficult the lifting up of the Constitution of Kenya and the basing of it on the multiracial lines which we all want to see.
If I may pass from constitutional matters, there is something which I would 682 call to the attention of my right hon. Friend. Progress in Kenya is advancing at a tremendous pace. The atmosphere is one of advance and progress, with a vitality and confidence in the future of Kenya which is very remarkable indeed. Everywhere there is a demand for more widespread and more intensive education. Everywhere there is a clamant demand for more money to be spent on roads, water supplies, health centres, and land consolidation; indeed, on almost every facet of everyday life.
To me, the most remarkable feature is that this sense of exhilarating advance and progress is most marked in those areas which, only during the last few months or years, have shaken off the horror of Mau Mau. It is marked also among those people who, only a few months ago, were engaged in the obscene and bestial conspiracy of Mau Mau but who have now confessed and have found that their souls have been lightened of a terrible burden of guilt. They have been passing out of the very well-run and successful rehabilitation centres and returning to their homes in ever-increasing numbers and with a wonderful sense of expectation and great hopes for the future.
It would be tragic if those hopes were to be turned sour through frustration and disillusionment. These people have great hopes that land consolidation—which is the bringing together of individual strips of land into one consolidated unit—will do much to raise their standard of life. Of course, land consolidation by itself, unless followed by agricultural reform, is a complete snare and delusion. It offers the opportunity of raising the standard of life, but unless it is followed by the same close administration which exists in Kikuyu land at the moment and by agricultural reform, it will by itself do little to raise the standard of life.
While the people have these great hopes, it has to be remembered that land consolidation also brings great difficulties. It increases the difficulties of the older people who in the past would have retired on a small strip of land which they owned. Through land consolidation, we are creating a landless class. My right hon. Friend would do a very great service if he would emphasis to the Kenya Government how very serious is the problem which might be created by the developing of a landless class. It would be too 683 tragic if this land of the Kikuyu were to become a reservoir of unemployment and discontent.
It would be well worth overhauling and looking again at the policy which is followed in Kenya of diffusing industry into the provinces and into provincial towns such as Kisumu and into the new and larger villages which have been created in Kenya as the result of the emergency.
It was a great act of faith by this Government and this country to provide, for the use of the people who have so recently been involved in the conspiracy of Mau Mau, a very large sum of money. Everywhere in Kenya, in every section of every community of every race, one finds the certainty that that money has been well spent and that the act of faith by this country has been well justified. I ask my right hon. Friend to ensure that that act of faith does not falter or fail now for lack of money.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I am happy to follow the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel). If, as we are often told, there is need for a bipartisan approach to these problems and for clear and honest thinking, I am glad to say that we have had a speech with both those characteristics. I enjoyed listening to the noble Lord talking of the danger of a landless class in Kenya. I must not say much about that matter because I intend to talk of Mauritius; but I left Kenya less than a fortnight ago, and I could not agree more than I do with what the hon. Member said about land consolidation schemes and the possibility of the Swinnerton agricultural plan for absorbing this future landless class.
I would say one thing to the noble Lord, with all kindness. He makes a big mistake if he thinks that the Africans will change their minds about the Lyttelton plan and about their non-participation in the Government. I am sorry to say so. I spoke about it to Africans at a meeting in the Pumwoni location in Nairobi, and there is no doubt that they have never accepted the Lyttelton plan. The Colonial Secretary may not like my saying it. Although Mr. Ohanga went forward as a Minister with the consent of the African members some years 684 ago, the majority of Africans have persisted in saying that they do not wish to enter the Government. That is their view, and we ought to accept it. We ought not to indulge in wishful thinking about it. As I understand the position —and I was with the Africans in Nairobi a short time ago—they are clear in their own mind about what they want. I should like to believe that what the noble Lord said is correct, but he may be making a big mistake about it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) spoke about delegations of Members going overseas to see what is happening there. My last two visits to Africa have been private enterprise, so to speak. It is a bit shabby financially when an hon. Member has to go to two Colonies—they were Somali-land and Northern Rhodesia—as a guest of Africans. It is a fine thing to be invited as their guest, but I wish there were more chances for more Members to make visits overseas to investigate matters on the spot.
I should like to see teams like the delegation that went to Kenya in 1954. Let us use this weapon which was forged by Lord Chandos when he was Colonial Secretary, of sending out Government-sponsored, fact-finding delegations on an all-party basis, with Members picked by the two sides of the House of Commons, to do a job.
Such a delegation is not always looking over its shoulder, as a C.P.A. delegation must be when it goes on a goodwill mission. It is difficult for it to pass critical comments about a Colony overseas; it is unfair to expect a C.P.A. delegation to make a fact-finding critical survey. The Government should send out representative delegations to make honest factual surveys; I should like to see more of that done in the future. One place to which the Lyttleton type of team could go is the Seychelles. Some Colonies are not so sweet as they might be, and do need careful looking into.
Now I wish to speak about Mauritius. The Colonial Secretary today is almost overwhelmed. He has, on the one hand Malta, which hopes to be integrated, and on the other hand, Cyprus, which wants just the opposite, Enosis. He is perhaps happy about the Caribbean Federation in the West Indies, as he ought to be, but, on the other hand, Honduras and 685 Guiana do not want to come into that Federation and may hive off into independence. The Central African Federation is not too happy; Kenya has its "passive wing" of African resistance, too. The colonial shoe is pinching here and there, but in one Colony it does not pinch, and that is Mauritius. It has given the Foreign Secretary a lovely pair of carpet slippers.
The Mauritius Labour Party came here, signed an agreement, and made a concession. It has been most co-operative and statemanlike. Quite often, the complaint is that these coloured nationalist bodies do not make concessions, but this was one which came in a so-called "civilised fashion", discussed matters tolerantly and compromised on lines for which the Colonial Secretary often must wish, but often complains he does not get. Important concessions were made by Dr. Ramgoolam and his colleagues.
I wish to ask one or two questions on this subject. As the Under-Secretary has said, under that agreement a mission is to go out to the island, and with luck—a lot of luck will be wanted—having looked at the map, will demarcate the island into 40 constituencies. I think that the task is almost impossible. I say that advisedly. It is almost impossible to make 40 divisions in that island, which is not so large as Surrey. Each of those constituencies is to have about 5,000 voters. We know the history of Mauritius and the unsavoury behaviour of some of the people in Port Louis elections. I am afraid that in a small constituency, with 5,000 votes there is danger of corruption and the offering of inducements to sway those votes. Hence it might be better to consider making 25 constituencies which would have larger numbers of voters.
I am not altogether happy about what is the suggested alternative. If this three-men fact-finding mission goes out and, as I believe, does not find it possible to have 40 small constituencies, the alternative, as the Minister said, will be to have 11 multiple-member seats. We have been told that due attention is to be paid to minorities. We have also been told:all the delegates from Mauritius pledged themselves to use their good offices, to cooperate, and persuade the members of their parties to co-operate, in the acceptance and working of whichever of these two systems was introduced…686 If the mission turned down the proposal for 40 seats, there would be 11 three-member constituencies. In that event, there would be difficulty in getting a clear-cut decision.
The Labour Party, which had on overwhelming win in the last election, might get 20 or 21 of the 33 seats. Having a majority against the 12 or 13, it would be the dominant party in the Assembly. Having received the most votes, it should have the larger say in the Government, but we find that in the Legislative Council there are to be up to 12 nominated members. I hope that the Minister will give a pledge or a guarantee, that what has been said earlier will happen in British Guiana, will not happen in this case.
I hope that the Governor will not feel himself forced to hold a balance between these minorities and the dominant Labour Party, and hence find that he must nominate 9, 10, 11 or 12 members to hold the balance for the anti-Labour faction. I trust that it is quite clear that in this case, there will not be juggling with the nominations as has happened in the past; but that if there are 20 or 21 Labour members returned, 8 or 12 nominated members will carry over the accent of the elections, into the Legislative Council.
This is most important in view of what we have heard earlier in the debate about the danger of thwarting the will of the people, the necessity for having democratic elections and not having a "phoney" constitution in which the Governor can act in an executive position and deny the will of the people. I know this may sound platitudinous, but it is most important. If we have elections by which the people are to be able to choose their leaders to govern their own affairs, we must go through with this to the end, and not in the final analysis thwart and baulk them when it comes to the actual governing of their country. I hope that we shall have it made quite clear that if and when the elections take place, the Legislative Council and the nominated members will be a reflection or mirror to show the accent and emphasis, the dominance of the elections, revealed by the people through the ballot box.
There are to be nine Ministers. Are they to be a loose, inchoate coalition of nine in a ministerial set-up and not those pale shades—the former liaison members? Are six of the 687 nine appointments to be Labour members? Are we, in Port Louis, to have a faithful reflection of the people's votes shown in the Government mechanism? The Mauritians are not unfit to look after their own affairs, as some people allege Africans are. They have a high standard of culture and are a society of people who can talk and debate. They know what they want. They are not in the "bush", as we are commonly told the Tanganyikan or Northern Rhodesian people are. They are people of higher levels than people in Africa are commonly said to be. We hope that when the elections are over, there will be a definite constitutional decision, and people will know clearly what is to happen to them.
When the elections are over, two other things should be looked at. First, there is the danger of unemployment. That has arisen before. There is the difficulty of finding jobs for people in small densely populated islands where, as in the case of the Barbados, employment is dependent on sugar cultivation. With an expanding population, thousands, indeed tens of thousands, will want jobs in five or ten years' time. What is being done about that? I understand that there are 126,000 acres of land on the island which, at the moment, are owned and used by a small number of people for such dubious purposes as stag hunting. If the Government could open up those acres for use as smallholdings and farms for landless people who desire land there, that would be a good thing. The 126,000 acres are not by any means on steep, inaccessible hillsides.
There is today a population of 560,000 people. What is being done about emigration? A government committee was set up some years ago, and it was hoped to send some of those people to Tanganyika. I believe that 200 "pen-pushers", if I may use that term, found jobs in Dar es Salaam and there were hopes of people going to Borneo and Madagascar, but there have been difficulties. Ethiopia has no inhibitions about colour, and has large areas of undeveloped land. I understand that in the last few months it has taken some Indians. Will the Minister explore that possibility and see whether there is a chance of Mauritians going to Ethiopia? They are not averse to going there on a voluntary basis—and I am 688 reliably informed that that is a possibility. It is quite possible that the Mauritius Government may have to ask some of their people in the future to go to places like Ethiopia or Madagascar. Let us look carefully at that to see whether it is possible.
I should like to close on this note. I think that islands like Mauritius will give us quite a headache in the future if we do not do some planning now. Fiji is another similar island with a large plural society. For those islands, which, in the past have always been peopled by peasant farmers, it is difficult to find secondary industries, owing to their lack of power, minerals, and raw materials. What do we do about those places?
I heard earlier a somewhat sombre if not sinister note from the Under Secretary—why it was introduced I do not know—when he was talking about the danger of Communism. I do not know what was its context in this debate. I think that he was speaking about British Guiana. I beg of him to look at islands like Mauritius where, at the moment, we have a very orderly, well-behaved, decent Labour movement. Do not let us do anything which may make them go further Left and be a nuisance, as has happened elsewhere.
If the Colonial Secretary is a little anxious about Guiana and other places, let him take steps in time to do something for the population of islands like Mauritius. I hope that he will pay attention to this because at the moment things there are peaceful and comfortable. As I said earlier, the Colonial Secretary has a pair of Mauritius carpet slippers to walk in today, and not a pair of shoes that pinch him; but the shoes may pinch in the years to come if he does not take steps in the near future for the welfare and development of this beautiful island in the Indian Ocean.
§ 5.42 p.m.
Mr. C. W. Armstroug (Armagh)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), because I remember that he followed me in my maiden speech and was kind enough to refer to me as his hon. Friend. I am sure he will forgive me if I do not follow him into the intricacies of Mauritius, of which obviously he is a master, because I cannot hope to compete with the detail in which he has dealt with that subject.
689 I should like to consider for a few moments the kind of overriding problems that these territories emerging into independence will themselves have to deal with over the next two, three or more generations, and whether we are giving them all the help that we should to enable them in the future to face these problems.
What are they? First, there is the problem of the relationship between peoples. I think it is true to say that after outside control has left those territories, and even perhaps after the tensions between coloured and white have somehow or other been resolved, they will be still faced with very great difficulties of relationships between peoples. Here, I am thinking primarily of Africa, although possibly what I have to say may have some application to other territories as well.
I am sure that in Africa for many generations still society will be mainly tribal, with all the difficulties that that brings. Even in this country and in this House, after centuries of union, would it not be true to say that national issues still sometimes trouble us? It is only a matter of decades since the Irish Members in this House tried, and almost succeeded, to bring parliamentary institutions in this country to a stop. In Africa there is a still greater potential menace to the Continent as a whole, because in the north of Africa there is a great Moslem population with its ancient traditions of conquest, of organising and administering great territories and to the south of them there are pagan and Christian populations with none of these traditions who, because we have taught them, are better educated and rather more technically advanced. Surely there is a great problem that they will have to face alone.
Another problem obviously for these territories is how to provide the revenues they must have to educate and advance their people. To do this they must somehow or other exploit their own resources: they will need vast sums of capital and technical knowledge which they do not possess. Nearly the whole world wants capital to develop its resources. These emerging territories will be faced with the most appalling competition in finding the capital and the technical knowledge to develop.
690 A further problem, which faces all Governments to some extent, but perhaps very particularly these emerging Governments, is the relationship between freedom and justice, freedom and security, freedom and progress. Perhaps there is no better example of what I mean than what has been happening since the emergency in the Kikuyu country of Kenya. As we all know, the progress there has been astonishing, but, quite clearly, it has been made at some sacrifice of freedom. In many of these territories, perhaps that appallingly difficult choice will arise over the matter of population. One of the freedoms that has hardly ever been suppressed in any country in the world has been the freedom to increase the population. In some of these countries that freedom may conflict with the protection of the people from famine. It is problems of this kind that these countries have to face.
The overriding needs of all of them to enable them to face these problems are wisdom, experience and integrity. It seems to me that we do a great disservice to the people living in those countries if, for whatever reason, we encourage the wilder and more impatient ambitions of the African politician who is barely beginning to understand these things.
Surely it must be wrong for African politicians in these territories to keep looking over their shoulders at the state of party politics in this country. Surely it must be wrong that politicians should force the pace in their own countries when they think that perhaps they have a sympathetic Government here. Surely it is wrong that they should drag their feet and refuse to co-operate in the hope that later they will find a more sympathetic Government in this country.
When the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) opened this debate and mentioned a committee on colonial affairs, I hoped that he was proposing to develop that into some approach to a bipartisan policy in colonial affairs. It is my belief that the greatest boon this House could confer on the emerging territories would be a bipartisan colonial policy. I have followed the correspondence in the Press which put forward the difficulties very fairly. But I do not believe that they are insuperable. We all know that there are differences of opinion inside parties, but 691 that, somehow or other, it is possible to devise a policy which the whole party can support.
Surely the whole spirit of this debate this afternoon has shown what an enormously wide area of common agreement exists between both parties in this House. I beseech hon. Members on both sides of the House to consider this very carefully, because, I repeat, the greatest boon that this Parliament could confer on the territories which are now approaching independence is a bipartisan colonial policy.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I have a great deal of sympathy with what has been said by the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) about the need for a bipartisan approach to colonial matters. Of course, we cannot go all the way. For instance, from one point of view nothing could be worse than to have a pro-Pakistan party on one side and a pro-Indian party on the other. That is the sort of thing we should avoid. But I think it inevitable that an emerging nationalism, an emerging people, tend to look to a party whose policy is in measure pledged to change, as against a party who, in its name at least, is pledged to conserve.
I think that from the very nature of things an emergent colonial people will tend to look to this side of the House of Commons and it may be that a greater responsibility lies on this side not to encourage them to an advance which might be disastrous for their countries if it is too fast. I do not think, therefore, that in this field an entirely bipartisan approach is possible.
I wish to speak particularly about Kenya and to refer especially to some of the things said by the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel). In Kenya, we can see a most remarkable civilisation in physical terms. We can see the great city of Nairobi now one of the metropolises of Africa, which came into existence within less than half a century. We can see roads and houses, and farming of a very high standard. Let us recognise and, indeed, pride ourselves upon the fact that what has been achieved in Kenya has been the work of a very few English people. The development of Kenya is a tremendous physical 692 achievement for which those responsible have every reason to be enormously proud.
In a society which had not moved for tens of thousands of years there has been built up a modern civilisation, and it follows that we cannot go back. The African, however much he might wish to —I do not know whether he does—cannot go back to a tribal society, if only because he has multiplied too much. He has become involved in that new society and his future, his existence, depends upon that society continuing to run; upon the new economic machine on which he now lives continuing to work. That is the first proposition. A modern civilisation has been created in Kenya, and upon that modern civilisation and modern economy the people of Kenya must depend for their existence.
The next proposition is that Kenya is an African country and will inevitably remain so. The proportion of the population is 200 Africans, three Asians and one European. On those proportions, even if one wished, nothing on God's earth can prevent Kenya from being governed by an African majority. That will happen, and in all the discussions I had with people in Kenya and from every point of view, I found nobody who challenged that proposition. It is the inevitable, and once that is faced, one must consider how it should be arrived at. One must prepare a constitutional road to enable the civilisation which we have created to continue on a multi-racial basis as power passes to the Africans. The alternative to a constitutional road is a road to revolution, and that state of things could come about very quickly.
Once the African gets organised-having learned the lesson of Mau Mau, that violence is not his best means—he has only to withdraw his labour to bring the Colony to its knees. Kenya is not, I do not think it is likely to be, an economic asset to this country. I believe that the people in Kenya should be warned, and should realise, that if it came to a show-down with the Africans in nonviolent terms, in which it was not a question of having to go to the rescue of people being massacred, the white population of Kenya would not receive the support of this country. We here would not supply the means of repression. In that sense, the Europeans in Kenya are 693 very much on their own and they should realise that fact.
What, then, is one to do which would be best in the face of the stark realities we are up against? So far, we have been shown the Lyttelton plan. I believe that the fatal error in the Lyttelton plan is the communal electorates. Unlike the noble Lord, I would totally abolish communal electorates because I believe they will be fatal to the civilisation we have created. The trouble is that if we have a communal electorate forming a Chamber and forming a government, it is not a government or a chamber of the particular races, but is the Government of Kenya and the Legislature of Kenya, and if we elect the members on a communal basis then, every time there is an election, every member must appeal to the selfish, sectional interests of the race which he represents.
So, as one sees in practice, at each election those people who have been working together quite satisfactorily before come apart as the election approaches; and men like Blundell, who had been talking really good sense when the election was a little further off, have to talk what, frankly, they know to be nonsense when the election comes. Surely that is wrong, and it will immensely worsen when we get the African communal roll. The Africans know the overwhelming powers of their numbers.
Before these elections, Mr. Coutts was asked to prepare proposals for an African communal roll. The first thing that Mr. Coutts found was the rather surprising fact that the African did not want the vote. That seems quite odd. Africans are very much like Conservatives. They do not feel that a leader should be elected but that he should emerge. It is curious that the Conservative Party and the Africans are at one on this. In this part of the world, the Africans have never had a chieftain system. They have had the system of the age groups, and within the age group the leader emerged, and became the leader in war. He was somebody who had emerged, and the idea of a man going on a platform and saying, "Vote for me" seems, to the African at present, to be gravely immodest. It has not, at present, achieved his approval.
Therefore, when it came to the registration for that election, there was the gravest difficulty in getting people to 694 register. It is true that we got quite a high registration—about 35,000,I think it was—in closely-administered areas like the Kikuyu Reserve, where the district officer could really use all his powers to make the people register, but in Nairobi, what was it? About 2,500 out of, probably, 50,000.
That was the position a year ago. I think that it might be very different today, because, once it has started, the African communal vote will acquire a momentum which will be irresistible. I believe that the Africans, on the basis of a communal roll, will win political power long before they are capable of running the economy, or remotely capable, of providing the capital that that economy requires, and capital just will not come if Government does not inspire confidence. I should, therefore, like to make the following suggestions.
First, I think that in any multi-racial society we will never get a satisfactory constitution by consent. I do not think that that will ever happen, because a constitution by consent will have built into it so many bargains that it will be unworkable. The constitution which will work is one which we shall have to impose. I know that the right hon. Gentleman is committed up to 1960, but what he can do is to say, "In 1960, we shall do so-and-so—prepare for it." He should also say, "In 1960 there will not be any communal rolls at all; there will be one common roll"—'but that common roll must have a fairly high property and educational standard in the initial phase.
I believe that that property and educational standard should be arranged so that, in the initial elections there would be approximately the same number of voters of all three races, and, even if it involved having parts of constituencies which were not contiguous, each constituency should be arranged so that there was a substantial vote from all three races. Each constituency should return three members, one of each race, and every voter should have three votes, one of which he would have to give to each race's candidate. That would mean that nobody of any race could get elected unless he got other races to vote for him. In other words, a machine would be created which would get the racial 695 moderates elected, because only they could draw votes from the other races.
A further consideration, perhaps the most important of all, would be that it would make parties necessary. For instance, if I wanted to get elected, I should require an Asian and an African running mate to ask their supporters to vote for me, in the same way as the African would require an Asian and a European. Thus, we would create by that machine parties which were necessarily multi-racial, and in the process both of getting elected and of working Parliament they would have to work together. Every African would have required the aid of other races to beat a fellow African and so would every Asian and European. To make this acceptable, to the Africans at any rate, one must draw conclusions and say where one is going. I believe that it is necessary to make something different from the original Devonshire declaration, and to make a declaration that this is a method designed to provide for African majority government; that the qualifications imposed will never be raised without African consent; that, as more Africans qualify—and, of course, they will in this developing community-more seats will be provided for them.
That would mean that in the second stage it would not be one European, one Asian and one African in each, or in some constituencies, but two Africans, one European, one Asian. None the less, the second African, if he wanted to get in, would almost necessarily have to join an existing party. He would have to go in with a colleague who could draw the votes of the other two races, and would come in to an organisation which had been evolved for running the society and the economy instead of coming in as one of a nationalist party, pledged to destroy them.
Eventually, there must be three Africans in each of these constituencies. There must be an African majority. That is where the road must lead. It is going to happen, but it will be an African majority coming into multi-racial organisation, which has got the experience, which has become involved in and which has acquired interests in the economy and in the way of living that exists.
696 This, I believe, is the best chance of making a multi-racial society within Kenya, which recognises the reality of the overwhelming majority and also recognises the necessity to that majority as well as to everybody else of a civilisation created by a small white minority continuing and continues on tolerable terms the contribution of the immigrant races to that economy. I believe that the time available for this is very short indeed.
The noble Lord the Member for Hertford suggested that a common roll should be superimposed on a communal roll so that we should have some people on the common roll and some on the communal roll. I discussed this matter with Tom M'Boya. He was quite favourable to the idea. I then said, "Which would you stand for—on the common roll or on the communal roll? "He said," On the communal roll, of course; it is only the communal roll which would represent the Africans."
That is the danger. Once we get an African communal roll established—and it is not really established yet—that African roll will be a party. It will be a racial party, against the other two parties, and it will inevitably overwhelm them. It will overwhelm them on terms of having won against the other races, instead of having built itself up to a majority position with the other races.
I warn the Government, my own party and my friends in Kenya, that if there is a hope for a multi-racial society in Kenya —and I believe the whole future prosperity and way of living for black, brown and white in Kenya depends upon that achievement—we must not allow an African communal roll to establish itself, because such a roll will inevitably become a party and will turn politics into a racial conflict.
I ask the Government to announce that we are going over to a common roll, to send a commission and to announce what the qualifications and constituencies will be. We have to wait till 1960 before we put this into effect, and we have that time in which to organise multi-racial parties. The Government should give the people time to know all about this by announcing the intention. The intention may not be operable until 1960, but it should be announced well in advance. 697 That is where the real hope of Kenya lies. It is probably the last hope of multiracial society in Africa.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
Many politicians all over the world and many emerging politicians will read about this debate, and I think it is worth while underlining for them one of the characteristics of our Parliament which is often overlooked, and that is the way in which from time to time we can approach matters such as foreign affairs and colonial affairs on a non-party basis.
Anyone who has heard the last two speeches will realise that all kinds of points of view have been put forward from both sides of the Committee which might not have been expected from those quarters. One speaker has said—and I echo what he said—that no more valuable contribution can be made by this ancient and experienced Parliament to those who are hoping to take part in legislative government all over the world than this thoughtful, non-partisan approach.
Another speaker said that there should be some sort of amalagamation or, at any rate, greater identity of interests between the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. He almost criticised the Commonwealth Relations Office for not functioning so vigorously and so actively as the Colonial Office. Let us remember that these two offices have entirely different functions. The name of one of them indicates that it is not the Commonwealth Office, but the Commonwealth Relations Office. It is concerned with relations between members of the Commonwealth and not with the functions of its members. It would be a gross interference if the Department were to concern itself with the functions of the Governments in Australia. South Africa or Canada. It is only in the field of relations that it comes into play at all.
The Colonial Office, however, is entirely different. It is a mother and father to the less advanced peoples, and at least a step-father or a continuing trustee for the more advanced peoples. The functions are entirely different and should not be confused in our minds or in the minds of politicians all over the world.
Another speaker on the benches opposite spoke about the governor—I am not talking of any particular governor: I am 698 referring to the theory which the hon. Gentleman had in his mind—frustrating the apparent will of the people by appointments. It is a necessary reservation of power amongst emergent people that the apparent will of the people, expressed through a machine which is hardly understood and about which there is certainly no experience, should be—I will not say frustrated, but guided.
In my judgment, it would be fatal in the extreme to go straight from a tribal system or an authoritarian system such as we must have in our Colonial Empire and which must occur amongst all uneducated or slightly educated peoples. There must be the phase of authoritarian government or management of the people by the few governors, who, generally, will be Europeans. To emerge from that stage directly into elections in which the apparent will of the people must, in all circumstances, be given free rein and a halt called only after the horse has run away would seem to me to be quite absurd.
We have learned from experience that it is possible to go too fast in this matter. The horse can be frightened into running away, and then the consequences have to be faced. He either goes over a precipice, or he is brought up with a jerk. Far better is it to let the idea of voting sink in in controlled conditions so that not until it is understood and the consequences of power begin to be realised does the power become absolute. That surely is the justification for governors' reserve powers, whether they be powers in emergency or whether they be powers of nomination to mitigate the full consequences of a sweeping election.
It has become a commonplace for people to say government should be of the people by the people for the people; but any student of politics and history must know that that is claptrap. The people cannot possibly govern in any circumstances, not even in a sophisticated country like this. The one thing they can do is to choose at rare intervals who shall govern for them. Fortunately, they do not choose all of them. We in this land are blessed with a Civil Service which stays. Indeed, I think the civil servants are the ones to be praised for their good governance and we are the ones to be praised for daring to come forward and to take the knocks. Without them and without 699 us the system would not work at all. I often tell my friends overseas, when they say they fear what may happen in consequence of a change of Government in Britain, "No Tory Government in Britain is ever as good as we hope, and no Labour Government is ever as bad." I believe that is true, and it must be a great comfort to people overseas.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) spoke about the Protectorates, and I agree with him that these important territories in southern Africa require more money. I shall speak about one of them and its needs a little later, but I should like to correct the right hon. Gentleman's geography. He was in Government office, and he ought to know better. Neither Bechuanaland nor Swaziland is in South Africa. Basutoland is an enclave in the middle of that country, but Bechuanaland and Swaziland are not. Perhaps he did not mean that, but that is what he said: oases in South Africa. he called them. He is wrong. They are outside it.
I spent the week of Easter in Basutoland, two days in the capital and three days riding Basuto ponies over the mountains and fishing the mountain streams, and talking to the chiefs and headmen; and very agreeable, too. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, well watered, with rich valleys, splendid sheep lands, and more rainfall and a steadier rainfall than have many other parts of that varied southern continent. I and my family have known this country for eighty years, and I declare an interest, because I am concerned with a very considerable business which operates in that country and in the Free State and in Johannesburg. While I do not speak for the interest, it does cause me to know a little about the country.
There is a people who, only a hundred years ago, had their own ways of doing things which were different from those which we would approve, who now. under our guidance, as they would be the first to admit, are benefiting by progress. As the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has just said, the progress which is taking place in that country, as indeed in the whole of southern Africa, is due to the White settlers and the brains, experience and 700 capital which they have brought there. Without them the roads, the stores, the plantations, the methods of farming could not exist on the scale or at the standard at which they exist today.
Someone else in this debate referred to the increase in population and the problems which that sets. Indeed, it is a problem. In Basutoland, for example, the black population is increasing very rapidly, and by their old methods they could not be fed. The successive Resident Commissioners and their agricultural officers and other officials from this country, inspired by the British colonial tradition and trusteeship, and with money from outside the territory flowing in, nave changed it so that it very nearly can feed itself. In good years it can. This year it will. Last year it did. But even so, not every year.
By teaching primitive people to plough round and round instead of up and down, by encouraging them to conserve water by every possible means instead of wasting it. by building roads, and by introducing education, and better stock, agricultural and animal, we—the British-have done much to make that country richer than it could otherwise be. Even its institutions which are gradually beginning to emerge are on an English model and based upon our experience and our wisdom.
It should be remembered that that country of Basutoland is not viable. In no circumstances can it become self-governing in the sense that an island in the Pacific could. An island in the Pacific might well be brought up to be self-governing in the local sense, provided it were attached to some great Power for defence and foreign affairs. An island in the Caribbean may join with other islands to have local self-government with foreign affairs and defence and other overriding considerations vested in some federation. Basutoland, however, is in the centre of Africa, in the same way as Rutland is in the centre of Britain, and the one is no more viable than the other.
The Basutos cannot grow enough in some years to feed themselves. They have no market of their own, only Johannesburg and the greater Union towns as markets for their meat. If they have a surplus those are the only places in which they can sell it. They have no 701 outlet to the sea, no means of communication whatever. They have a Customs union with the mother country, by which I mean the surrounding country which mothers them, which protects them, which nourishes them, and sometimes feeds them.
That is their situation. It is very like a South African native reserve, and the conditions for both Europeans and Africans are very similar in the two countries. Land is reserved to the natives and cannot be purchased or occupied by the Europeans except under licence and by permission of the chiefs and the Governor. It is the same in Zululand and many other South African territories as it is in Basutoland. There is a great similarity between the way of life of the countries, and it is well that it is so, because we could not very well have one small fraction, 0.6 of a million people moving along too different a road from that upon which 9 million people surrounding them are moving. Inevitably, the disappointment and clash in the end would be so great.
I should like to report to the Committee, because I think it is fair to the colonial servants, that, in my opinion, for what it is worth—and I say this without reserve and, at the same time, as an amateur visitor's opinion—that the Government in Basutoland are an admirable one. The Resident Commissioner there, the headman of this territory, is a wise and sensible man, and he has gained the confidence of both the Europeans and the Basuto people alike. If there were any difficulties at the beginning of his regime because he happened to be born in South Africa the Basuto people were far too realistic to allow that to do more than flutter the dovecotes for a few minutes. The Basuto people realise, as I daresay some hon. Members of the Committee do, that if you are a bull calf it is not your fault where you were born, because you have to be born where your mother happened to be; but yet you could still turn out to be quite a good bull, as, indeed, Mr. Chaplin has.
Let us remember that this territory is not viable, and that the relationship between Great Britain and South Africa, in many matters outside this debate, is an extremely important one. May I express the hope that the friendship between Britain. South Africa and 702 Basutoland may long continue? Then is no reason why we should exacerbate feelings, and anyone who does so render; no service to the Basuto people. More over, as sure as anything, he will be found out, because the Basutos are vers sensible, and quite as sensible as some of those who either go to Eton or represent Eton and Slough.
The crops in Basutoland are the main sources of wealth, but there is also a large income coming into the territory from the mines in South Africa, as 40,000 or 50,000 Basutos go to work in the mines and they bring back considerable wealth. This migration of labour, contrary to the belief of many people, suits the Basuto people, and if one were to tell the Basutos who work in the mines that they could take their wives with them, they would give the same answer as would the average sailor if invited to go on board a ship in which the sailors' wives and children went, too.
I think that the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Government ought to make it clear, during the period, which may be now approaching, when constitutional development may be expected in the Protectorate, that the Europeans who have been there for a very long time also have some status, some position and some rights in the country in which they have been brought up and in which they live. They are British citizens, too, as are the protected persons in these lands, and they have employed their capital, their wisdom end experience there, and they also serve.
I would ask that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations should choose some appropriate time to say, in relation to these territories in South Africa, just what the Colonial Secretary said in Rhodesia the other day about the Europeans there. There is a very good relationship between the Europeans and the natives in Basutoland, and the paramount chiefs and the Government there are working with the Resident Commissioner to maintain this good relationship, which is of very great importance, not only to the happiness and comfort of the people in these territories, but also to their material well-being.
As another speaker, I think the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, 703 has said, there must be substantial investment, whether that investment be made by the Government or by private persons, because it will be a very long time before such investment can possibly come from the local African people themselves. They are not of a saving disposition, and they have not the opportunity of saving large sums of money. To take Basutoland, for example, and this might well apply to other territories for all I know, tremendous water supplies are running to waste in that country, and a few million pounds would preserve this water, fertilise vast areas of land, and leave a tremendous surplus to be sold to the Union of South Africa and to control the Vaal River in one instance, or to supply most of the fertilisation of a large part of the Free State in another instance.
An enormous amount of capital is required. There is a road running into the heart of Basutoland which has been left unfinished when, for the sake of a few hundred thousand pounds, it could be finished and would provide a route straight through to Natal. Anyone who knows the country or who looks at a map will see how vitally important that would be to these territories. If one wants to go from a place in Natal to a place on the other side of the Drakensberg Mountains, which will be familiar to all who have read the Vortrekker story, which is a distance of only about twenty miles by helicopter, though a helicopter will not fly at this height, it will involve a journey of 200 or 300 miles round the mountains.
In all these things, there should be an understanding of the problems of this country and a recognition of the vital companionship between white and black which has existed for so long, of a community which is so contented and happy and which will remain so provided that the meddlers do not get their way—all these things should be realised, so that the state of present contentment in that country may long continue.
I have nothing but praise for the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office, and for the officials of those Departments whom I meet here and elsewhere, and I think that this Committee should take the opportunity, on a Vote of this kind, of registering its approval of their work.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), particularly because he made a personal reference to myself, but more especially as I want to speak about the Protectorate which has been the main subject of his speech. We are today discussing not only a Vote of the Colonial Office, but also a Vote of the Commonwealth Relations Office, and, therefore, what I say about the Protectorates will, I hope, be in order.
The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale argued that the Commonwealth Relations Office had the duty of maintaining relations between our Government and the self-governing Dominions, and yet the Protectorates in South Africa also come under its control. They are the Cinderellas of the Commonwealth Relations Department—only 1 million people, only 7,000 whites, wretchedly poor Africans, vast parched and arid areas in Bechuanaland. It may be thought that these territories are of little importance compared with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, India, which are other parts of the Commonwealth, but I venture to say that the future of the Protectorates will very largely decide the future of race relations in the Continent of Africa.
The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale resisted the idea that these territories are in South Africa. It is true, of course, that only Basutoland is entirely surrounded by South African territory. Swaziland is surrounded by South African territory except for a small border on Portuguese East Africa.
§ Mr. Brockway
Bechuanaland lies between the South African Union, South West Africa and Southern Rhodesia. What happens in the British Protectorates under our administration will largely determine whether the policy of the Union Government of apartheid, of race discrimination and segregation, of the outlawing of the African from what is regarded as the civilised white community, becomes the pattern of southern Africa, or whether we give such an example in the Protectorates of race equality and of African advance in education, in social affairs, and in the 705 economic and political spheres that it will be impossible for the white minority in South Africa to retain their present domination, politically, socially and economically. The Protectorates may be small and may be poor, but upon their future will depend the great British conception of human values, of racial equality, and of liberties, in that part of the world.
I do not want to go over old ground, but I should not be honest with myself or with the Committee if I did not acknowledge that one of the Protectorates in the quite recent history of the British Government, Labour as well as Conservative, has practised race discrimination in a way which has made Bechuanaland a symbol of the colour bar throughout the continent of Africa.
I need not emphasise that now, because not only is Seretse Khama back in Bechuanaland but Tshekedi Khama is able to take his place in public activities. I mention this particularly because what has happened in connection with Seretse Khama and his white wife Ruth will be the theme of my speech. Not only has Seretse gone back, but the white wives of Bechuanaland, who had been taught that a mixed marriage was an outrage upon human relations, have been conquered and won over by Ruth Khama. They now accept her and welcome her. The Khamas little daughter Jacqueline is in the exclusive European school. The South African Government turn African children from the schools; but Bechuanaland is now giving the example of the daughter of a mixed marriage being taught in a European school by a South African headmistress.
The whole of my appeal today is that we must make our administration of the Protectorates in South Africa models and examples of racial equality and of the social, educational, economic and political advance of the African peoples. If we do that, it will be impossible for the Government of South Africa to retain the principles and policy of apartheid in its midst.
I must acknowledge that sometimes we are a little hypocritical in our references to the Government of South Africa. We have isolated instances of the colour bar in this country. We have racial segregation in Kenya. We have both racial segregation and discrimination in the 706 Rhodesias. South Africa has some right to resent an apparent attitude of superiority on our part. It has the right to resent that, particularly when thousands of Africans from the three British Protectorates, Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland, have to go to the South African Union to earn a livelihood. Their conditions of labour in the three territories are so poor that they have to go to the Union of South Africa which we condemn.
There are 9,000 Africans from Swaziland employed in mines, farms and domestic service in South Africa. From Bechuanaland, 24,000 Africans cross the frontier each year into South Africa, and from Basutoland 33,637 Africans are in the mines in South Africa and 28,013 in other work. They go there to get a livelihood because of the wages which we tolerate in our own British Protectorates. In Bechuanaland, the average wage of an agricultural worker is £2 a month. In Basutoland, the labourer's wage is from 2s. 3d. a day to 2s. 9d. a day. Worst of all, and here the Commonwealth Relations Office is itself responsible, in the Public Works Department in Swaziland unskilled workers are paid from 9d. to 1s. 5d. a day. When we have wage conditions like that in our own British Protectorates, can we be surprised that Africans have to seek a living across the frontiers in South Africa.
§ Sir I. Fraser
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt? Why should it be assumed that it is either a crime or a disadvantage to seek a living in another country? Many Scots come to England because they do better. Why should not Africans from Basutoland go to the Union? They do much better there because conditions are infinitely better there. Why should they not go? They enjoy it.
§ Mr. Brockway
—and I was indicating that it was our duty to make conditions in our own Protectorates better before we have the right to condemn the South African Government.
§ Mr. Brockway
Because they are the most infamous reflection of the colour bar 707 on the face of the earth. Nevertheless, the South African Government have every right, when they face the criticism of our country, to point out that the Africans in our own British territories have to go to South Africa to get a livelihood.
I recognise that these conditions in the British Protectorates reflect the underdeveloped economy there. Those territories are mainly agricultural, cattle-rearing, although there is asbestos in Swaziland. Against that underdeveloped economy, and with the gold, uranium and diamonds in the Union, standards of payment can be higher in Johannesburg.
Yet a new situation is arising. There are new, rich mineral discoveries in each of these three British Protectorates. In Bechuanaland, there is copper, coal, asbestos, gold and silver. In Swaziland, there is iron ore and coal. In Basutoland, there are diamonds, uranium and thorium. If these new mineral resources are used for the benefit of the populations in those territories, within a generation they can be raised to a standard that is beyond present recognition.
There are also dangers. The industrial revolution is now beginning in those Protectorates. We have in our history memories of our own Industrial Revolution. One can see the possibilities in Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland of those horrors being repeated, of mines being developed with shanty towns around them, of wretched conditions for the African labourers, with compound systems such as there are in Johannesburg.
I want to make a plea this afternoon that with the discovery of these new minerals in the Protectorates we should decide, here and now, that those resources should be utilised for the benefit of the peoples of those territories. I should like to see corporations established which should be public trustees for the people, and which would ensure that the wealth obtained from the new mineral developments should be used for their benefit.
The mineral rights are mostly in the hands of the tribal authorities, but there are five things which we must do if we are to protect these people from the exploitation of our own Industrial Revolution. In a speech last Friday I dealt 708 at some length with these, and, therefore, I do not propose to repeat them now. I suggest, however, that if there are concessions to private capital the concessions should be short-term. I also suggest that there should be minimum wages, progressively rising, that Africans should be allowed to enter skilled work and be trained for management, that they should be allowed and encouraged to join their trade unions, which should be recognised, and that around these developments there should be great housing schemes to prevent the insanitary conditions of the shanty towns of Johannesburg.
Next, I want to see that the land should be inalienable from the African population. It is so in Basutoland.
§ Mr. Brockway
It is largely so in Bechuanaland, though there are two concessions of 2,478 square miles to the British South Africa Company and to the Tati concessions. In Swaziland, there is a mixed ownership. It is a little pathetic that the chiefs there have started a fund to repurchase for the Africans land which was tricked and cheated out of them by the first British traders who entered that territory.
I could speak of other needs. There is soil erosion and the need to train African agricultural experts in conjunction with farmers' co-operatives. As regards irrigation and water development there is the Gaitskell scheme for Bechuanaland, which has only been partially put into operation. I could speak of the need for roads and railways. The tarred roads in Basutoland are only three miles in length, in Bechuanaland one mile, in Swaziland half a mile. There is the need for railways. In Swaziland there is none, in Basutoland only one mile, in Bechuanaland there is a single track of 492 miles, but that only because it is the main route between south and north.
I want to emphasise the need for education. When the South African Government are excluding African children from European schools, when they are excluding African students from universities where there are Europeans, surely we should be setting an example of broader conceptions in our British Protectorates?
709 I recognise at once that in Basutoland education has developed far, but in Bechuanaland there is only one primary school for each 1,225 African children. There are no facilities for higher education in Bechuanaland or Swaziland. In Basutoland, there are only two technical schools, and it is an indication of the purpose for which the 371 students are trained when I say that 239 are taking courses in domestic science so that they may become domestic servants in European homes.
We need more primary schools in Bechuanaland and Swaziland. We need secondary schools in each of these three Protectorates. I would even make a plea for a Protectorates' university. When Africans are being excluded from the universities of South Africa, it would be magnificent if we could begin the establishment of a university in the Protectorates.
I draw attention similarly to the medical needs of these people. In Swaziland, there is one doctor for 18,420 people. In Bechuanaland, there is only one doctor for 19,400 people. In Basutoland, there is one doctor for 21,600 people. My plea is that we make these Protectorates examples of what African life can be, and if we are to do that we must do it for the health and the education of the people as well as for the economy, about which I have spoken.
As to the cost, investment of private capital is likely to be attracted by the mineral resources, but capital should also come from the colonial development and welfare funds, the contributions from which are now woefully small. The hon. Gentleman may have later figures than I have, but in 1952–53 the total contribution for Swaziland was £130,986, for Basutoland £167,235 and for Bechuanaland £182,639. As for the contribution from the Colonial Development Corporation, it was for Swaziland and Bechuanaland only, and of the £9,700,000 allotted only £5,400,000 was used. There was no help at all for Basutoland.
What about efforts through the United Nations? What about the possibilities of the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development? I beg the Minister to use all these means to lift the standard of living of the people of the Protectorates to one which will be an example to the territories around.
710 I want to say a final word about the political situation. The Protectorates are the only areas in the whole of the British Commonwealth and the British Colonies where government is still by the proclamation of the High Commissioner and where there is no legislative body whatsoever. The High Commissioner issues decrees, and those decrees become laws. We criticise the South African Government because they exclude Africans and other coloured persons from political rights. We should make a beginning with legislative bodies in the Protectorates. We must make a beginning with district councils and press on to the formation of legislative councils
There must be no transference of those Protectorates without the consent of the peoples living in them. The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale asked why we should regret that African workers from the Protectorates have to earn a livelihood in the South African Union. I will tell him why. It is because in the South African Union they are not treated as though they were human beings. They are not allowed to enter the same railway carriage or bus as Europeans. In the parks they are not even allowed to sit upon the same seats as Europeans. They are excluded from equal social life with Europeans. Before those territories are transferred to the South African Union, which behaves in that kind of way to the African population, we must go further than the present decision of Her Majesty's Government, which says that that shall not be done without consulting the people. It should not be done without the consent of the people.
Today, a cablegram has come from South Africa saying that the Minister for External Affairs proposes at the coming Conference of Commonwealth Ministers in London to raise privately with representatives of the Government the proposal that the Protectorates should be transferred to South Africa before South Africa becomes a republic. It is not enough to say that the Africans shall be consulted. They were consulted in the case of Central Africa, and a decision was taken against their view. We say that the Protectorates must not be transferred without the consent of the peoples. So long as the South African Government practise their policy of apartheid. 711 colour bar and domination of the African people by the minority of whites, the peoples of the Protectorates will never be ready to amalgamate and join such a Union.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
The Committee may consider it appropriate that I should intervene in the debate to reply to the many points which have been raised in the speech to which we have just listened and in earlier speeches about the three Protectorates which fall to the responsibility of my Department. I should like to say how much we welcome the decision of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to include a discussion of the affairs of these three territories in the debate. I am certain that it is of the greatest importance that, no matter how small or how lacking in great resources a territory may be, the affairs of such territories should be the constant concern of the House of Commons and should from time to time be debated here.
I will indicate later in my speech some of the progress which has been made, both political and economic, in these three Protectorates, but I want to make it clear right from the beginning that my noble Friend and I are by no means satisfied that more could not be done for the economic development of these territories and it is the anxiety of the Government that practical methods of bringing forward that development should be undertaken. I accept—indeed, I welcome—the spur to greater efforts provided by the speeches of hon. Members during the debate. It is a question of ways and means. It is a question of the problems which are created, not only in the Protectorates but throughout Africa, by lack of natural resources or the maldistribution of the resources which are available.
Let me make it clear that I am not in any way blaming the Administration. Indeed, the members of it whom I have met and whose work I have watched from a distance for a period fully deserve the tribute paid to them by my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser). I know that the Protectorates and the Government and people of Great Britain are very well 712 served indeed by the administrative officers in the three Protectorates.
§ Mr. Dugdale
While I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is important to pay tribute to those who are working well in these Protectorates, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to tell us how often the Governor goes there in his capacity as Governor of those territories? I understand that the greater part of his time is spent in Pretoria on his other occupation as High Commissioner of the Union of South Africa, which is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs.
§ Mr. Alport
I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman a detailed anwer to that question, and he will not expect me to do so, but every facility is given to the High Commissioner, who, I am sure, in view of the reputation of the present High Commissioner, carries out his responsibility of keeping as closely as possible in contact on the spot with the problems in the Protectorates. Indeed, to make the facilities greater, he has a private aeroplane at his disposal.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Governor's predecessor visited the Protectorates for 34 days during a year? Does the hon. Gentleman consider that enough?
§ Mr. Alport
Perhaps I may continue. because there are many points to which I must reply.
The reasons why, in some respects, the Protectorates appear to have lagged behind developments which have taken place elsewhere in Africa, such as in the Union—the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) admitted it on the economic side, although he had strictures to make on the political side— are due to many things, but primarily to the lack of the exploitation and development of natural resources up to the present.
They are due, also, to the very great conservatism of the people. I know that from the study which they will have given to the character, background and history of the peoples of these three Protectorates. hon. Members will realise that it is important that the progress which is made is made with their assent and co-operation and not against their wishes and will. The speed is not always the speed of development which we would like to see here. In our duty as a protecting Power 713 of these peoples we must take proper consideration of their long-established interests. Changes are taking place and I should like to begin by dealing with some changes in the political sphere.
In Basutoland, as has been said in the debate and admitted by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, education has made some considerable progress. Within the last eighteen months the National Council of Basutoland discussed the possibility of obtaining increased powers which would enable it to undertake certain legislative functions. My noble Friend has told the Council that he will consider proposals whereby the Council would be given powers to make laws in regard to matters affecting the Basuto people alone and he has asked the Council to submit proposals on that score.
The Council has applied itself to that in a most practical and businesslike way. It has established two committees, one to deal with the problems of the chieftainship, and the other to deal with constitutional arrangements. The members of the latter have spent some time collecting information throughout Basutoland and I know that they are now studying the information which they have obtained through that process.
We believe that when the proposals come forward, through the High Commissioner, they will be of value both to my right hon. Friend in the decisions he has to make and to the Basuto people themselves. That is the answer to one of the points made by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough about the expansion of legislative bodies in the Protectorates. These things must come slowly and I am sure that the Committee as a whole will agree that it is wise that they should come with the willing co-operation and, indeed, as a result of proposals coming forward from the people of the Protectorates themselves.
In Bechuanaland, we have already made some progress in the first stage of the creation of tribal and area advisory councils. Gradually, but steadily, an increasing number of councils, after discussion with tribal peoples and chiefs, have come into being. The Committee will be glad to know that in the Bamangwato Reserve, since the return of Seretse Khama and Tshekedi Khama, a committee consisting of seven Africans, including both Seretse and Tshekedi, and 714 two European officials, has come into being to discuss the constitution of a tribal advisory council for the Bamangwato. Good progress is being made in those discussions and we will receive through the African Advisory Council in due course the proposals which this committee wishes to put forward.
The approach to the problems in Swaziland is less immediate, simply because the established institution of the paramount chief with his council, representative of the Swaziland people, as far as we are informed meets the wishes of the Swazi people themselves. It is surely right and proper again, whatever may be our ideas of what should be regarded as an adequate constitution, that the wishes of the Protectorate people and their existing institutions, as long as they can serve the needs of the present time. should be retained.
I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale that the legitimate and proper interests of European communities in the Protectorates will also be carefully observed by my right hon. Friend. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen would not wish this matter to be dealt with on a racial basis, but that all races, minorities included, should properly have their interests safeguarded.
I turn from the political for a moment to deal with social and economic progress. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) asked me to say what we were doing to combat tuberculosis in the Protectorates. Commonwealth development and welfare funds are to be used within the immediate future for the addition of three T.B. blocks at three separate hospitals in Bechuanaland. Similarly, T.B. wards will be added to existing hospitals in Swaziland, and additional hospital accommodation provided in Basutoland will contribute to a proper nursing of patients suffering from that disease. I fully recognise that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee wish to see greater progress in the provision of the facilities which are required—the social progress, the improved health and education facilities—in the Protectorates.
However, there is one thing which all of us who, in our various ways, have studied colonial progress over the last few years will agree. It is that unless social progress is matched by the development 715 of economic resources it will, in the long run, become meaningless. We are, therefore, most concerned that every action should be taken to provide the development of the resources of the territories, but we must, at the same time—and, again, I am sure that the Committee will agree—carefully consider the impact of that development upon the lives and institutions of the peoples themselves.
Let us make no mistake about this. It must mean the introduction of a substantial addition to the European community, because, without the technicians, this sort of progress will not take place. If it happens too fast, it may produce an immediate return in the shape of money, but it may do very great damage to the long-term interests of the people themselves. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough referred to mineral developments, for instance, in Bechuanaland. As he said, mineral rights in Bechuanaland in the tribal areas are vested in their respective chiefs. So that applications for prospecting and mining rights may be dealt with efficiently, the Resident Commissioner, with the agreement of the chiefs, has, in each reserve, set up a small mineral development committee consisting of Government and tribal representatives.
The first meeting of the Bamangwato mineral committee, of which the Native Authority, Rasebolai, is a member, together with Seretse and Tshekedi, was held in February this year. It was attended by a geological consultant, Dr. Mackay, who comes from this country and whose firm is well-known in London. An application for prospecting and mining rights in the Reserve has been received by that tribe from another firm. That will be considered by the committee. There are many of us who are acquainted with the wisdom of, for instance, Tshekedi Khama and I know very well that the interests of the Bamangwato people in relation to any developments which may take place will, through the methods adopted by the Government, be very properly safeguarded.
I do not think that we shall get exploitation, in the older sense; instead, I think that we shall get a development of these mining rights, ensuring not only that they are effective but also that the interests of those concerned are properly safe- 716 guarded. It must be remembered that mining in Africa is always a very chancy business.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Has any suggestion been made that public funds might participate side by side with private capital in the development of these resources?
§ Mr. Alport
I know of no reason why, if the Colonial Development Corporation, for instance, were to feel able to take part in it, there would be any difficulty or obstacle in its way; indeed, I am sure that that sort of participation would be very warmly welcomed. I must make it clear, however, that I am speaking without being fully prepared for the question.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough spoke in severe terms of the fact that the C.D.C. had played no part in Basotuland. If the C.D.C. finds, in Basutoland, a project which commends itself to the Board we should welcome any form of investment there—or, indeed, in any of the other territories—which will be for the long-term advantage of the people concerned. The only reason why the Corporation has not entered that area is that up to the present it has had difficulty in finding the right sort of project for its purposes.
In other areas the Corporation has played an important part. In Swaziland, there are the Usutu Forests and in Bechuanaland there is the Lobatsi abattoir. After difficulty in the early days, these projects are running successfully and showing a profit. In addition, through the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts we have made substantial contributions not only to the development of social services, but also economically. During the period of the two post-war Governments, and up until 1960, nearly £6½ million will have been made available for the Protectorates. I am sure that many hon. Members would like to see more money made available, but there are other claims from all parts of the Colonial Territories as well as those for which the Commonwealth Relations Office is responsible, upon the sums made available for this type of development through the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. In the circumstances, I do not think that we have been ungenerous to the Protectorates for which we are responsible.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Can the Minister say a word about irrigation? Surely that is something which cannot bring any destruction to African civilisation. It can only be wholly good.
§ Mr. Alport
That is quite true. I think I am right in saying that the Corporation is in the process of developing a scheme in Swaziland. Thought has also been given to methods of irrigation in Bechuanaland. I quite agree that the proper control and distribution of water supplies, the improvement of road and rail communications, and the provision of power are as essential to the development of the Protectorates as to any of the countries throughout Africa.
We are undertaking a substantial programme for the development of road communications in Swaziland. In the recent past we have also investigated the question of the development of railways. These are large undertakings and represent long-term investments, which very often produce only small immediate returns. If this money is to be spent it must be spent wisely and after the proper research and preparation. We have never had sufficient money to throw away on ill-considered schemes. It is, therefore, our practice to see that the proper preparations for the application of this money are made. I fully agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough that it is along these lines that the greatest need lies in the Protectorates.
I now turn to the question of wages, which was also raised by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough. There is something familiar about this controversy over African wages. Nobody supposes that they are as high as either the recipients or many hon. Members would like, but it has been my experience, and probably that of most hon. Members, that wages are never as high as the recipients or others would like. The figures given by the hon. Member—just as in the case of the figures given in connection with the controversy over wages in Kenya—did not take account of the fact that the money wage was paid in addition to the provision of food. It is, therefore, incorrect to lead people to suppose that the figures quoted cover the whole remuneration of the workers: they do not.
718 I should have thought that by this time the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, who is familiar with labour practices in Africa, would not again have fallen into the same mistake that he made three years ago.
§ Mr. Brockway
The hon. Member surely will not say that even if food and housing accommodation are provided a wage of 9d. per day for an employee of a public department can be defended by the Government.
§ Mr. Alport
I am glad that the hon. Member has raised that point. The question of the wage paid to public works employees is under review by the High Commissioner. In Basutoland, certain categories of wages paid to public works employees have been doubled. I do not say that there is no room for improvement—and we will continue to keep the matter under review—but I remember a previous occasion when an hon. Member stated that the average wage paid in East Africa was 10s., when the Parliamentary delegation which included the hon. Member for Rugby and myself discovered that when housing accommodation and other factors were thrown in the average wage was about 77s.
That may not be a strictly comparable case, but we must realise that when we give figures in relation to labour problems in Africa we often tend to mislead people as to the actual conditions under which labour is employed there. The hon. Member was quite right in saying that the reason why higher wages were paid in the mines of Johannesburg was that that part of the country was prosperous. That is the answer I give to the point raised by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich about the South African Government. If the South African Government's policies were as bad as he says they are—and everybody is entitled to his own opinion in these matters-there would not be large numbers of men going not only from the Protectorates but from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland into the Union to find employment—and going not once but many, many times.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough said that conditions in Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland were driving people out of the Protectorates. He is an expert on Africa and should know that the whole history of Africa has 719 been one of the migration of peoples. The people of Africa move not only to get higher wages or to leave their homes, but because there always has been this movement of population, all over Africa —East, West and South.
It is, therefore, wrong for the hon. Member to draw false conclusions and to mislead people as to conditions existing in the Reserve—because people do pay attention to the things that he says. What happens is that having made their money these people go back, in the end, to rejoin their families in Swaziland, Bechuanaland and Basutoland.
I do not want to take up too much time in my reply, but there was another point raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East and repeated by other hon. Members. Let me put it bluntly; it was a stricture on the Commonwealth Relations Office. I landed back only about four hours ago, having spent ten days in Ghana. One of the objects of going there was to assure the people of Ghana whom I met, and perhaps to illustrate it as graphically as was possible to those responsible for affairs in Ghana, that the United Kingdom does not "govern the Commonwealth". I use the words used by the hon. Member.
If I may say so with great respect, I feel that anyone speaking for the Labour Party in a debate of this sort, and referring to the relations between the United Kingdom and free and independent members of the Commonwealth, should be extremely careful of the terms he used. To suggest that the United Kingdom has a responsibility, whether it be through the Commonwealth Relations Office or any other Department of State, for governing the Commonwealth, to him may be a mere slip of the tongue or a loose expression, but to others not understanding these things so clearly, it would give a sign that there is still a desire on the part of the Opposition, the "progressive" party, to exercise control over the policies of these free members of the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Alport
I took down the hon. Member's words very carefully; the hon. Member did use that phrase. I know that he did not realise it and did not 720 mean it in those terms, but that is exactly how everyone who listened to him in the Committee heard it and how anyone outside would have understood it.
§ Mr. Callaghan
What is it that the hon. Gentleman is saying I am supposed to have said—that the Commonwealth Relations Office governs or should govern the Commonwealth? That is absolute nonsense.
§ Mr. Alport
I know it is nonsense. That is the point I am making, but that is what the hon. Member said. If he looks at HANSARD tomorrow he will see that he used those words, "govern the Commonwealth." Unless I have got it wrongly, that is what he said—
§ Mr. Callaghan
I want to clear this up. The hon. Gentleman said he may have got it wrong. He is now putting in my mouth an expression, which he says I used, that the Commonwealth Relations Office governs, or should govern, the Commonwealth. If he is trying to withdraw that, what is he accusing me of having said with which he disagrees? Let us have it accurately.
§ Mr. Alport
I say that in reference to the relations between the United Kingdom and the free and independent countries of the Commonwealth the hon. Member used the three words, "govern the Commonwealth." That is the point I want to make as to the value of the Commonwealth Relations Office.
We have to be extremely careful in ensuring that there are no misunderstandings, such as might have arisen from a phrase of that sort, between the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Relations Office has not the function of a post office, but of a diplomatic office, and that is what it is. We act to the best of our ability to ensure that the liaison between policy in this country and understanding of policy by our fellow members of the Commonwealth is as complete and accurate as possible. I can assure the hon. Member and others that the functions of the C.R.O. are extremely valuable—
§ Mr. Alport
The Commonwealth Relations Office. I realise that the hon. Member is new to his present position and I apologise for using terms with 721 which he is unfamiliar. The C.R.O. is extremely valuable in times when there may be differences of opinion and in many other ways.
The hon. Member chided us for failing to make our policy on collaboration with other Commonwealth members clear. One of the best examples of Commonwealth co-operation which has come about was the Colombo Plan. That is an example of an idea coming, not from the United Kingdom—the initiative did not come from the United Kingdom—but from one of our Commonwealth friends and as such it shows the great value which this free and equal partnership can have where everyone can make an independent contribution. In this, the United Kingdom is not responsible for governing the Commonwealth.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)
Many of the points I should like to make have already been made very ably and eloquently by some of my hon. Friends. In particular, I was interested in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), because he made a number of fundamental points I intended to deal with the conditions of workers in the Protectorates.
The major point to which my hon. Friend referred has not been replied to by the Under-Secretary of State. We do not suggest that we can impose on any Protectorate or any underdeveloped territory anywhere in the world artificially high wages. We know from experience in the trade union and labour movement that wages have to be earned and can only be earned if capital is applied to the natural resources of the countries where those living standards are enjoyed. No one on this side of the Committee expects in any foreseeable future living standards to be increased in the undeveloped lands of Africa parallel to the living standards and conditions in Europe. What we do suggest, however, is that unless there is capital for those countries so that they can get water, unless there is capital brought into those countries and developed in a way that they can balance their economies, we shall live to rue our failure to develop the natural resources of those great territories.
In the past, the unbalanced nature of those Colonial Territories has been mainly 722 due to the fact that they were single-crop economies. If anything went wrong with the single-crop people starved, or were driven to some other country in order to maintain a physical hold on life. The tendency now is for big business capital investments to concentrate on pure mining. Most of the American capital in our Colonial Territories is in mining. They are extracting valuable scarce raw materials out of land and ploughing very little capital back—developing no kind of manufacture—and the economies are still in a state of unbalance. There can be a very considerable unbalance of an economy even when mineral wealth is being extracted from it, but if industrial production commensurate with the wealth which is being extracted is not built, there is a very artificial development.
If we are to maintain ourselves as an important force in the world, we have to find means of developing the countries of the Colonial Empire economically and politically until they become part of the Commonwealth. To do that, we have to start to develop a number of new ideas as to how we can get this kind of capital. There is a great deal of capital that can be collected from the people if the appeal is majestic enough, but we are not trying to do anything about it. We should be helping to develop the Protectorates of the Colonial Territories in ways which have already proved a great success.
For example, during the last ten years the outstandingly successful development in all the Colonial Territories has been undoubtedly that of self-help and mutual aid through the co-operative movement. The co-operative form of organisation is actually the most successful aspect of any kind of social development in the Colonial Territories. Indeed, if we look at some of the figures it is amazing how far the co-operative technique of self-help has advanced since 1945. In 1945, the number of co-operative societies in the Colonial Territories was 1,181. Ten years later, in 1955, the number had increased to 9,440—that is, an increase in self-help, because that is what this means. self-reliance, mutual aid, voluntary cooperation—an actual percentage increase of 402 per cent. in ten short years.
The membership of co-operative societies in those ten years has increased by 347 per cent. The number of co-operative marketing societies has increased by 723 745 per cent. and the number of co-operative consumer societies has increased by 1,730 per cent., while the sales from co-operative organisations have actually increased by 3,387 per cent. So it is clear that this is the way in which the people of the Colonial Territories want to develop if they have the opportunity, and this is the best way for them to develop.
My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough mentioned the dangers of artificial, quick industrial organisations in Colonial Territories and the dangers of the industrial revolution. That is perfectly true. We can have an artificial development which creates great evils, but if we have this co-operative method of development—this coming together of simple people doing things along the lines of voluntary organisation, mutual help, accepting new responsibilities over a wider and wider area that they have never had before, building up their own democracy—then, of course, they will be more ready for the political democracy which is bound to come later.
Having made these two points rather quickly and crudely, because I know that other hon. Members want to speak, I should like to conclude with one point which I consider is very important. There has just been a General Election in Sierra Leone. That General Election took place, in my view, against a background of suspicion and discontent which should not have existed.
Two months ago, I asked the Minister a Question about the ordinances that had been carried by the House of Representatives at Sierra Leone. He suggested that he could not do anything about it, as the matter was being discussed by the House of Representatives and an amendment was before the meeting and he would have to wait until the debate had taken place.
Later, when the debate had taken place, I asked the Minister a further Question about the matter, and he said, "We cannot do anything about this. We have to wait until the election and if the new representative wants to make changes we shall be ready to have a look at the matter." I think that is an unusual way of explaining democracy to the people. What were those ordinances? They made it impossible for a man who had been suspended from his profession for a period or who had appeared in 724 court and had been fined or imprisoned from being elected to any municipality or to the House of Representatives.
It seems to me that we do not learn from history, either ancient or modern, because most of the great leaders of the Commonwealth countries which have recently won their freedom were men who came out of prison. For patriotic reasons —their own kind of patriotic reasons— they broke the existing law which, to them, was legalised tyranny and they went to gaol. In doing so, they were performing a patriotic function for the people they represented.
§ Mr. John Tilney(Liverpool,Waver-tree)
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a difference between going to prison for fraud or something like that and going to prison for patriotic reasons?
§ Mr. Edwards
Of course there is a difference. That is the point I am making. If one goes to prison for fraud, it may be that there is some reason why one should not be allowed to be elected to an assembly, but if one goes to prison one does not suffer for life for something which one has done.
These ordinances condemn a man or woman for life. If people have been suspended from their professions for doing something which they should not have done, they may be reinstated according to these ordinances which still exist in parts of our Colonial Empire and stand for election but, if elected, they are not allowed to take their seats. That, indeed, happened in the General Election in Sierra Leone. The leader of the opposition party was not elected, and it is quite obvious why he was not elected. It was because, if he had been elected, he would not have been allowed to take his seat.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I do not think that can be assumed to be the cause of his defeat. Indeed, the secretary of the delegation which came over to see me and saw my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary recently was also decisively defeated, although he suffered under no such ban. It would be a mistake if it should go out that it was that particular regulation, made in the interests of high standards of integrity, that led to that particular defeat.
§ Mr. Edwards
The fact is that if there were any danger of this man losing the Election because of this regulation that is a blow against democracy and democratic practices. The fact is he was elected to a rural council in 1947 and he polled 500 votes. His opponent polled only 50 votes. But there was a petition against him and he was denied the right to take his seat. His opponent took his place and sat for two years.
§ Mr. Edwards
Of course, the Irish have a history of political struggle and they usually send people to this House because they have been in prison and so are denied the right to sit here. There are not many people in the world, like the Irish, who think in that way, and that attitude arises out of decades of political struggle.
I do not wish to belabour this point, but it appears to me a curious way to encourage people to operate the machinery of a free democracy. I consider that this Government should have intervened when an obvious injustice was being done in Sierra Leone. We do not know how many people were involved. This Leader of the Opposition, Rogers Wright, is a barrister, who was suspended by his colleagues for a year. Because of that, for the rest of his life he is to be denied the right to sit in the House of Representatives or in a municipal chamber; although his colleagues reinstated him and signed a petition asking that this ordinance should be removed from the law. Although this man was denied that right, he actually served as the solicitor for the municipality of Freetown.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I hope that we can get it straight that this is no action of mine as Secretary of State. This was an action taken locally in Sierra Leone after similar regulations had been made regarding the Freetown Municipal Council. It seemed to me wrong that I should overrule what was carried by a large majority in the House of Representatives in Freetown, and what was a genuine attempt 726 to attain a high standard of integrity in public life. But I made it clear that if, after the election, which is now nearly completed, they came to a different conclusion, I would look at the matter again. But I thought it would have been very blameworthy if I had over-ruled them in their attempt—such things are not too frequent in the world—to have a high standard among those who serve in their national assembly.
§ Mr. Edwards
I appreciate the point made by the Colonial Secretary, and I am grateful for the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to examine this matter again. But these good people have petitioned Her Majesty and obtained 7,500 signatures. Surely, before that debate in the House of Representatives the Minister could have asked that this severe regulation be amended. It exists nowhere else in the British Commonwealth, or the Colonial Empire. It amounts to a ban for life. A simple principle of our law is that a person is not punished twice for the same crime. But this is a ban on a person for life, and I do not think it good enough to say that it is necessary to wait for a new party to be elected before democratic principles are operated.
To me it appears better and just that this House, through the Minister should give an example of the way to work out democratic principles; and to say that this is a severe regulation which is contrary to democracy and that this House would welcome its amendment. That is how we should give leadership in democratic principles. We should not just wait for an election to take place and then say that we will have another look at these ordinances.
I am sorry to have taken so long, but I was determined to make this protest which I have been trying to make since March. Having heard what the Minister has to say, I hope it will not be too long before this stain on our democratic principles will be wiped away and removed for all time.
§ Mr. Callaghan
As we are in Committee, I wonder whether I may be allowed to make clear that the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in his speech, did not accurately interpret the comment which he said I made. I had left the discussion on the 727 relationship between the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office and had gone on to discuss the number of Questions addressed to the Colonial Office each week. I had passed from that to a discussion on what I regard as the paltry amount we spend and the sums allocated for the purpose of hon. Members visiting overseas territories. I concluded that passage by saying, "And this is the way in which we are governing, or attempting to govern, our great territories overseas."
I was not referring to the relationship between the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office in any way at all, and I should, therefore, be glad if the hon. Gentleman would withdraw.
§ Mr. Alport
I willingly and gladly withdraw. I only hope that I have been able to help the hon. Gentleman by preventing my misunderstanding of his words from spreading further. But what I thought he said was certainly clear in my mind.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I wish to add my thanks and appreciation to those expressed to the Opposition for choosing this debate on Colonial Territories and. in particular, on—I will not say the less important Colonies; that would not be true—the less controversial ones. We are all grateful for the chance afforded by this debate, not merely because we desire to talk about territories which we may have visited and in which we are interested, but because it does a tremendous amount of good if what we say about these less controversial Colonies in our debates is read in the Colonies concerned. I am sure that the reports of this debate will be read avidly in those Colonies.
I agree with the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) that another thing which would register in the minds of the people of those Colonies as an expression of our interest in and concern for them would be to send more hon. Members of this House out to the Colonies. The hon. Member was quite right in what he said, and I hope that the 728 Government will take note of the suggestion.
I wish to say something about the West Indies, because since the crisis in British Guiana, in 1953, we in this House have had little chance of debating West Indian affairs. With the fruition of the federation next year they are assuming a new importance and significance for us. We all believe that they have a very important future as a new Dominion within the Commonwealth. They are, also, or they should be, a matter of great pride to us, because they are a very good example of a multi-racial community which really works, a community where the colour prejudice, which we have been discussing this afternoon in other contexts, does not exist. I will not say that there are not individual cases of a colour bar. Of course there are. I noticed certain hotels and clubs where the influx of American tourism, which is so much welcomed on economic grounds, has brought with it a certain element of colour prejudice.
There are also cases of officials—not Colonial Office officials, but, perhaps, junior business executives—or, more likely, their wives—who bring with them a certain colour prejudice which is very much to be regretted. I think that even those cases could be eradicated if only such people were properly briefed beforehand as to the extraordinary importance of their attitude when they arrive in the Colonies.
There is no colour problem in the West Indies, but there is a racial problem in the Eastern Caribbean. In British Guiana, nearly half the population are East Indians and in Trinidad they represent about 30 per cent. of the population. When I was there, there was an atmosphere of tension existing between those of East Indian and of African descent, but I think that we may hope that federation will bring with it a wider West Indian patriotism which will, in time, take the place of the sense of Indian nationalism which has developed there in recent years.
Economically, of course, the Carribbean needs capital investment, and needs it very badly. The standard of living is still very low, and unemployment—due mainly to over-population caused by the absence of birth control—is still very high. In recent years, I freely admit, the British Government have spent a great deal of money there. Large sums of money are 729 being spent there at present and, bearing in mind that we can only invest a surplus and not a deficit, the amount that has been done is rather remarkable.
A good deal more still needs to be done. Housing is much improved and is improving all the time, but in some areas it is still very primitive. In many Colonies more and better roads are essential, and secondary industries are needed to bolster the precarious island economies, so often entirely dependent upon agriculture. The need for technicians to administer the development projects is nearly as great as is the need for cash to finance them. There is still a great deal to be done, but a lot has been done, and economic and social conditions are improving all the time.
In the private sector, I think that the reform introduced in the last two Budgets in relation to overseas companies will be a tremendous help. When I was there, business people and local political leaders were alike unanimous that it was a very important reform not only for the sake of the companies concerned, but for the sake of the Colonies themselves. Until that reform was introduced. we had the anomalous position that American companies in a British Colony were very often paying a lower rate of taxation than British companies. I am glad that that has been put right. Hon. Members opposite, naturally, tend to criticise Her Majesty's Government and even some of my hon. Friends, while quick to exhort are sometimes slow to thank, so I would like to express the gratitude which many of us feel.
Politically, things are now going very well, very quickly. The strikes and riots of ten or twelve years ago are almost forgotten, and there is no doubt that adult suffrage, a bold step at the time, has been a tremendous success and is now accepted, as it should be. The democratic system is working very well in the West Indies, and in Jamaica, with its two-party system, it is working almost as perfectly as is possible.
Everywhere, the gift of political responsibility has produced a sense of responsibility in local leaders. The extremist agitator of yesterday is the statesmanlike political leader of today. Many of us who have met the more distinguished of these West Indian poli- 730 ticians, such as Mr. Manley and Six Alexander Bustamente, of Jamaica, and Mr. Grantley Adams, of Barbados, recognise that we are talking to men of very high political and intellectual calibre. The fact that that can be so in such a comparatively short time as ten or twelve years is a tribute not only to the men themselves, but to the system which made it possible.
In only one West Indian Colony has there been a serious reverse, and that is in British Guiana. I hope, and think, that the set-back there is only temporary, because I do not believe that the people of British Guiana are any more Communist than are the people of Great Britain. Like the people in other West Indies territories, they went through their period of agitation and unrest, but the popular leader who emerged there was not just an agitator who would learn, as others did, by experience, to work democratic institutions. He was a Communist. That was pure bad luck for the Guianese. They did not vote for Communism, but for better living conditions.
I have met Dr. Jagan in British Guiana. and, like other hon. Members, very recently again here in London. His words now are mellifluous and moderate. and he seeks to give an impression of sweet reasonableness but, although he says that he will work a democratic constitution, I have my doubts. He was certainly a Communist in 1953, and so was his very attractive and highly-intelligent American wife, and I do not think that the principles and policies of either have changed very much since then. The hon. Member for Cardiff. South-East (Mr. Callaghan) described him as the last of the Stalinists, and I think that that is a fairly accurate description. We cannot work with the Jagans in British Guiana, and I do not believe that the other leaders of West Indian opinion will work with them either.
Mr. Burnham, Dr. Jagan's former colleague, says that he is not a Communist. He has split with Jagan, and formed his own party. I do not know how genuine that split is. Both are opportunists especially Burnham, and they might well re-form their coalition if it seemed expedient to them to do so. As we know, elections under a limited constitution are to be held in August. I think that Dr. Jagan will certainly win seats in the 731 country districts, and Burnham will win some, perhaps four seats, in Georgetown. He has announced that he will not accept office in the Executive Council under the new constitution, but he is an ambitious man and might change his mind when the time comes.
When I was in British Guiana there was no sign of the emergence of any united moderate party which could command sufficient electoral support to hope to form a Government. At that time, there was really no alternative to either Jagan or Burnham, or Jagan and Burnham Since then, Mr. Lionel Luckhoo has formed his National Labour Front, which is certainly the most stable and constructive party which will contest the election. I think that it is a genuine, moderate Labour Party, quite untinged with any Communist leanings. It is somewhat difficult to assess its electoral prospects. but I think that, if elected, it would provide a stable and progressive Government. I do not think that the same can be said, with any confidence, of a Government led by Dr. Jagan.
British Guiana certainly needs stable Government, and it also needs capital development. It needs more and better roads, it needs drainage and irrigation and land settlement and greater industrialisation. We ought to finance these things, but I should feel much happier about doing so if I could be sure that there was a stable Government to put the funds to proper use. I do not quite see why the British taxpayer, who is probably the most heavily burdened taxpayer in the world, should pay for these very expensive projects if they are to be misused by a Communist Government in a British Colony.
Nor do I think that private capital, which is also very much needed there, is likely to flow in from Great Britain, the United States or Canada if Dr. Jagan is in power. Frankly, I do not see why it should. Greater political security and stability are really essential prerequisites for the investment of further private capital. There is a shortage of capital in the world, and I do not think that one can blame industrialists if they look at an area to see whether there is a measure of political stability before they invest in it.
732 Dr. Jagan is not clear on whether he intends to nationalise or, if he decides to do so, whether he will do so with compensation; but, whatever one's views on the merits or demerits of nationalisation, one cannot blame industrialists for having these factors in their minds before they put private capital into these Colonies.
Of course, the Guianese want to govern themselves, and that is a reasonable aspiration in which we should assist them. But Dr. Jagan has had his chance, and I do not think he is the man best able to teach them how to do it. I believe that the Guianese are realists, and that while they want self-government they also want progress, development and a better standard of living. They would rather back a party which could have some hope of bringing those things to them, than a party which cannot.
Dr. Jagan's strength hitherto has been his assertion, in which there is just a sufficient element of truth to make it sound plausible and convincing, that Great Britain can be forced to spend money in British Guiana through his technique of agitation and unrest. He says that we have only sent money there in the last few years because he made so much trouble for us in 1953, and inasmuch as we have spent a lot in the last four years, that sort of argument makes a great deal of sense to the Guianese.
What I would say to the Guianese is this, "We will tax the British people to finance the things that you need, but we would be happier in doing so if you would elect a stable and progressive Government with which we and the rest of the West Indian Colonies can work and which will itself seek to work the Constitution we have offered". If that were said, I believe that the Guianese, being realists, would probably be much influenced in the elections which are to take place in August.
The next step would be the restoration of the Waddington Constitution, or something very like it, to which we all want to come. But that cannot be restored if Dr. Jagan and his friends are elected, because they cannot be trusted not to abuse it as they did last time. At least, I would not feel happy about it. Following the elections, I hope very much that the whole question of British Guiana joining the West Indies Federation will again be seriously canvassed. I am sure 733 that that would be in the best interests of British Guiana and also of the West Indies as a whole.
Federation for the British Caribbean is a terrific step forward. It is a most exciting new development, for which many people here and in the West Indies have worked hard and selflessly for many years. We all wish it well. It is a natural, necessary and inevitable development leading to Dominion status for the West Indies. I am sure it will be a success, and I think its establishment will create a new multiracial nation of which we and the West Indies themselves can be justly proud. It will have an important future in the British Commonwealth and in the free world.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
In a debate of this kind one is tempted to range as widely as the debate itself has gone, but one must resist that temptation. I should very much like to say something about the Protectorates, but I will confine myself now to saying only that I was very glad that the Under-Secretary reassured us of the desirability of Commonwealth Development Corporation participation in any mineral or similar development in the Protectorates.
I only hope that Her Majesty's Government will ensure that the C.D.C. has adequate funds so as to participate, because we have heard some disquieting remarks in the latest report from Lord Reith that it may not have sufficient funds at its disposal for major developments which may be required in some of the development areas of which we have heard today
While we welcome such progress as is being made towards more representative systems of government, in Basutoland particularly, I cannot help thinking that in Bechuanaland matters are going a little more slowly than need be the case. I cannot see why the council which is being discussed there cannot have certain possibly limited legislative powers and be responsible for certain executive functions. The time has passed when they need be purely advisory functions. People like Tshekedi Khama, Seretse Khama and Rasebolai are capable of something more than giving advice. I think we are unnecessarily cautious in our advance in those places.
We have had several suggestions today to the effect that we ought to be bipartisan 734 in colonial affairs. At the moment that is a very popular line which is taken in a number of journals dealing with colonial affairs. All I can say is that it is easier to be bipartisan with some people than with others. For instance, I find it very difficult to be bipartisan with the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser). On the other hand, I would go quite a considerable distance with the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), and I would go some distance with the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balneil), with whose remarks on Kenya to a large extent I find myself in agreement.
To my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), who is not here at the moment, I would say that it is impossible for a delegation sent by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to take an objective view of affairs in countries to which they go, but I would grant him that they suffer under the disability that such conclusions as they may come to are confined to a private report. That is something which cannot be discussed in this Committee, but it seems to me unfortunate that when we have a delegation such as the recent one to Kenya, of which I was a member, which has very valuable opportunities of study, in which it has spent a great deal of time, and which was given considerable help by the Government of the territory to which it went, its conclusions should at least in theory be private. In fact, what happens is that if they are of some interest and importance, they leak. It would surely be desirable that if they are to be published at all they should be published in their entirety and not indirectly or by surmise or inaccurately.
I should like to say more about Kenya, but, after all, we have had other opportunities of discussing East Africa, and I will confine myself in that context merely to urge again upon the Colonial Secretary not to miss the tide in the affairs of Kenya. I know very well that there are many other territories which have very strong claims on Her Majesty's Government for funds. One need only go over the border into Tanganyika to see that.
On the other hand, there is a certain momentum in Kenya at the moment, and it would be a great pity to miss this 735 opportunity and allow that momentum to slacken. There is a timing in these things in which theoretic justice may perhaps not play its part. Therefore, I would urge the right hon. Gentleman seriously to consider whether it might not be desirable to give even a little more to Kenya for agricultural and educational development at this moment.
I should now like to turn for a few minutes to another East African territory which the noble Lord the Member for Hertford mentioned, and that is Uganda. It is only too true that in Parliament we are apt to discuss countries at times of crisis and to leave them alone when things are going relatively smoothly. We had several debates about Uganda some while back when there was a difficulty and some controversy over the Kabaka. Now we have relatively few Questions in the House and few occasions for debating that extremely interesting and, in many ways, very attractive country.
Having recently been there for a short visit—altogether I have been there two or three times—I must confess that I was a little disturbed about some of the aspects of life in Uganda. We all know that the people of Uganda are relatively wealthy by African standards, and in many ways they are making excellent progress. They have the promise of elections for their Legislative Council.
However, one cannot avoid the impression that there are very deep divisions still among the different peoples in Uganda. It will be difficult for them to work a democratic system of government successfully unless they can show a rather greater tolerance one of another than they are inclined to do at present. I know that these differences are very largely historical and that it will probably take a very long while for them to be worked out. After all, it is true that in the United Kingdom we have occasional differences among ourselves. I am speaking now as a Welshwoman. On the whole, however, we manage to sink those differences sufficiently to work amicably together for the general good. One hopes that that will happen in Uganda.
One of the major problems there is the peculiar position of Buganda. It has, up to now at any rate, been generally regarded as the most developed of the territories in that Protectorate, but I 736 would say with the greatest respect to my friends in Buganda that they must at least be aware that the people in the other territories in the Protectorate are beginning to catch up and that they cannot for ever, by the enjoyment of fairly considerable natural resources, continue their air of superiority which has served them adequately in the past. It behoves them to pay more attention than at the moment they do, I think, to the feelings and aspirations of the people in other parts of Uganda.
As one example of this, I mention what for many years now has been a matter of difficulty, and that is the relationship between the Baganda and the Banyoro. The noble Lord the Member for Hertford said that this was something about which the Government here can do nothing and that it must be left entirely to the peoples concerned. To some extent, of course, one must agree with him. Unless these peoples can themselves come to some more amicable agreement no one else can do much for them. However, no Government in this country, of whatever political complexion, can possibly ignore the provisions of the Buganda agreement, the earlier agreement and the revised agreement of 1955. It would be no kindness to the people of Bunyoro to suggest anything different from that.
After all, we have given our pledged word to the agreement. There may be some provisions in it we should have preferred to have had otherwise, but we cannot unilaterally abrogate one or another clause of the agreement, for if we do so we shall obviously open the door for the other parties to that agreement unilaterally to set aside certain clauses which they do not care for very much. Whatever one may think of the past history of this matter, therefore, and whatever one may think of the merits or demerits of the fact that the "five counties" are incorporated in Uganda I cannot see that the Government can simply set aside those clauses in that agreement. Such a change in the legal status of these counties should come about only by a tripartite agreement between Her Majesty's Government, the Baganda and the Banyoro.
Having said that, so as not to arouse any false hopes or fears as the case may be in anybody's mind, I nevertheless say that the present state of affairs is far from happy or satisfactory and I have some 737 sympathy with the people who are of Banyoro descent who live in these counties and who say, with perfect propriety, that, after all, Buganda is a Protectorate and that they also are protected persons, therefore, and that their general life should be protected and that we in the United Kingdom have a certain responsibility to see they do not suffer any oppression.
We have recently delegated to or conferred upon Buganda certain specific responsibilities, for instance in education. Primary education has fairly recently been largely transferred to the Government of Buganda. As far as I know we took no steps, when making that transference, to make any special provision for the wishes, still less for any rights, of the people who do not speak Luganda. It has been put to me that children from Bunyoro speaking families are being required, even in the very first stages of their education, to be taught in Luganda. It is a fairly well-known principle of modern educational practice that a child should be taught in its earliest years in the language of the home. It has not always been so.
Again, I speak as a Welshwoman. In Wales, we have this bilingual problem. Two or three generations ago Welsh speaking children were not only forced to take their schooling in English, but they were punished if they dared to speak Welsh in the schoolroom or even the playground. However, that was years ago, and modern educational practice is that the child should be taught in its home language, and that is especially important in the first few years of the child's education. Thereafter, the second language of the country comes into use.
The Government at present are spending many pounds on Welsh primary schools, some of them for very small numbers of children, and we find the controversy the other way round in one part of my constituency, for instance, where English speaking children are having to learn Welsh.
§ Mrs. White
My hon. Friend will agree with me that they do not have to start their schooling in Welsh if they do not speak Welsh at home. The burden of what I am saying—
§ Mrs. White
—is that a child ought to start its education in the language which is its home language.
The Government of the Protectorate are spending money on broadcasting in both languages. They recognise that 'there is a real distinction between the languages. Therefore, I think there is some legitimate grievance on this score.
I am also told that it is extremely difficult for a pupil living in Buganda and who is of Banyoro origin to attain scholarships for higher education. I am told that only one has been able to get as far as Makerere College and he is financed not by the Buganda Government, but by the Omukama of Bunyoro.
What the reasons for this may be I do not know, but it is quite clear that the people in these counties feel that it is due to discrimination and that they are not getting a fair deal. They also say that in order to qualify for such a grant a person has to declare that he is a Baganda and that they object to having to do this. This is a very difficult problem, because we seem to have resigned some of our power in matters of education, without apparently making certain that we were looking after the affairs of certain minorities.
There is also the difficulty that there are judicial privileges in Buganda which do not extend to other parts of the Protectorate. I am told that if one is sentenced to less than five years' imprisonment or the equivalent fine for certain offences one has no right of appeal to the Protectorate court but only to a court in Buganda. If that is so, it is quite clear that there is at least a possibility that there may be some miscarriages of justice, and the people concerned tell me that in their opinion there have been such miscarriages of justice and that they are without redress.
I will not weary the Committee by going into further details, although I hope to send them to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that I have said enough to suggest that there do appear to be certain serious difficulties. Some of them, I grant, are of long standing between these two groups of people in Uganda, and I will conclude this part of my remarks by making an appeal to those with influence in Buganda, including the 739 Kabaka himself. He is now in the position of a constitutional monarch, and therefore should not normally interfere in the day-to-day administration of the Government, but, clearly, a man in his position has very great influence, and it would be a most statesmanlike thing that a man in his position should show magnanimity and generosity towards people who, at the moment, feel that they are in some ways being oppressed.
It would win him the good will, not only of the people within the territory of Buganda, but also of their relatives and friends in the neighbouring kingdom of Bunyoro, and I think it would be a much better augury for the future of Uganda as a whole if some greater generosity could be shown by people of influence in Buganda. Therefore. I hope that the Kabaka himself will use his own very great personal influence to see that some different attitude is adopted in this matter, because if he did so he would be showing a very fine example and would, I am sure. win the gratitude and praise of all concerned.
Having dealt with one particular Protectorate in one corner of the Commonwealth, I now wish to turn to another country, which is not very often discussed in this House, again, apparently, I am told, because it is a quiet and peaceful country. I am referring to Gambia. I had the great privilege some time ago of paying a visit to Gambia, and I think that other hon. Members have been there. It is a most attractive small country, with a very happy and friendly population, who get on very well indeed together—all races. communities and religions. Of course, historically, it is something of an anachronism. It is the result of quarrels between the French and ourselves. very largely, and economically it is a very difficult territory indeed to administer. being a narrow stretch of land on each side of about 200 miles of river.
I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary one or two questions about the progress which is now being made in Gambia. I should be glad if he could tell us something about the present situation concerning education. There were some difficulties not so very long ago in the matter of education in Gambia, and I understood—I have been trying to get 740 up to date, because we did not have very long notice of this particular debate—that the Director of Education had resigned and that the position has not yet been filled. There were also some differences of opinion as to the best method of administering education in Gambia, and it seemed as if the responsibility for education in the territory as a whole was being divided in a way which I should have thought was disadvantageous.
I am very glad to know that progress has been made with the teachers' training college in what was the old egg farm, and the number of teachers has, I believe, been very considerably increased. I am told that, in spite of this progress, there are still far too many children, even in Bathurst itself, having only half a day's education at each school working the double shift system, which is not a very satisfactory basis for education.
There is also, of course, a housing problem in Bathurst, and I should be glad to know whether further progress has been made with the interesting scheme projected there. The primary difficulty in the Gambia, however, is economic. I should be glad to know whether further progress has been made in trying to find some sort of variation in the country's economic basis.
I am glad to hear that the recent crop of groundnuts has been better than earlier ones. I was delighted to read in the latest report that by means of propaganda by word of mouth and films the Government have been able to get the men to share the work of rice cultivation, which traditionally was exclusively the work of women, because the ambitious rice scheme started by the C.D.C. had to be very much cut down. I believe that since then there has been a good deal of progress in growing this extremely valuable food crop. There has been progress also in other directions, for instance, in a minor but useful form of mineral development.
Those who know the Gambia and have affection for its people must remain anxious about its economic future. On the political side, it seems to be developing reasonably rapidly and satisfactorily, but it is one of the small territories that we discuss from time to time which from its very nature is not likely to be able to be completely independent in the future. It is one of the territories about 741 which, sooner or later, the House of Commons must make a positive proposal. These territories are progressing in internal self-government and, ultimately, the time will come when we must consider what is to happen to territories like the Gambia. I do not think that federation is a suitable solution for it. I have found from my inquiries that the people of the Gambia would prefer not to be linked closely with other African territories. We are faced with the problem of what is to happen to territories of this kind, but this is a rather big subject which we have hardly time to discuss now.
I should like to use the opportunity of this general debate to touch on another subject—the question of the Crown Agents. On several occasions during my recent visit to East Africa I had complaints made to me of the unnecessarily wide powers given to the Crown Agents. I am not speaking merely in terms of appointments, where I recognise they may perform a useful and very necessary function, but they have power extended to other things, in particular, the purchase of books for schools.
It seems ridiculous that headmasters of secondary schools and training colleges in Kenya, for example, are obliged to order their books from the Crown Agents. They complained to me of long delays in getting what they wanted. They said, "We could go to Nairobi and buy them tomorrow, but we have to go to the Crown Agents and it is months before the books may reach us." I must declare an indirect interest, because my husband works for the Oxford University Press. Curiously enough, a week or two ago, not having previously mentioned it to him, he said to me, "Cannot you do something about the Crown Agents?" I asked, "What do you mean?" He said, "They are absolutely strangling the book trade in the Colonies."
The restriction placed on the purchase of educational books is that the ordinary private retail bookseller, with whom hon. Members opposite may have some sympathy, is quite unable to make a living because his bread and butter books, on which he normally depends in this country, do not pass through his hands at all. They have to go from the Crown Agents to the schools or technical colleges. I am not speaking of 742 university colleges, which, I assume, are independent in this matter.
There is a real lack of a live and healthy book trade in the Protectorates because of this restriction. It may seem to be a small point, but books are one of the tools of civilisation, and if booksellers cannot make a satisfactory living because they are denied a very necessary part of their stock-in-trade, the chances of the rest of the community obtaining an adequate supply and a reasonable selection of books is thereby diminished. So I hope that the Colonial Secretary will look at this small problem.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
I regret that I cannot follow the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) closely because the only "colony" she mentioned of which I have personal knowledge is Wales, and I am not too well briefed about that. I thank her for keeping me up to date about the egg farm. I have always had an affection for it. Years ago, in elections, I made many speeches about it which went down very well, and I wondered what had become of it.
I want to refer to the West Indies and to welcome, as have other hon. Members, the progress which is being made in that part of the world towards some kind of federation. When I was there recently I was told that much of the good work Which is being done by the politicians and statesmen, now emerging as such successful and powerful characters in that part of the world, was learned at the economic conferences of the area instituted by the colonial development and welfare organisation. It was while they were learning to work together on those practical details that they realised how much better and easier it would be to work together in politics as they are doing now.
May I express one slight anxiety which was represented to me there, of which I am sure my right hon. Friend is aware? How will it be possible to run the federated Government on the salaries remaining uncommitted, so to speak, of 6 million dollars a year? It is a very small budget for a Government, and I believe that a certain amount of anxiety is being felt about it. Of course, much water has to flow under the bridge before this comes into operation, and it may be that the difficulties will not be so great as people now think.
743 In particular, I want to talk about British Guiana, and for two reasons. First, because I was there recently. Secondly, because I anticipate that this will be the last occasion before the elections are due to be held there on which the House of Commons will have an opportunity to debate its affairs.
As the Committee knows, British Guiana is alone amongst the Caribbean territories with land to spare. At first light one would think, if that is so, that this would afford an outlet for others and a means of prosperity for itself. Unfortunately, there are great difficulties. The cultivated land is below sea level and has to undergo tremendous drainage and pumping works before it can be used. There is little room for an energetic man with a spade because, while it is possible to go out with a spade, it is not possible to dig without finding water. Therefore, large private or Governmental works have to be undertaken before a large amount of land can be brought into cultivation.
Behind the narrow strip of cultivated land there lies the rain forest. The difficulty with it, as with all rain forests, is that one cannot cut down trees and grow anything else because of the mineral shortages in the soil. Although timber is exported and exploited, and the C.D.C. has done a lot to help in that way it would be idle to suppose that the timber industry can be the foundation of the prosperity of so large a Colony as British Guiana.
Behind the difficult barrier of the rain forest there lie the savannahs. These are miles and miles up-country and at present there is no proper road along which to bring down the cattle which can be bred there.
Also, in this very large territory we have the peculiar situation that overpopulation is already a difficult problem. Malaria was abolished ten years ago, and since that time the population, which for centuries has been maintained by importing workers from all other countries in the world, has risen by one-third, and pressure on schools, housing and social services generally is immense. The result is that plans for social services and improvements which appeared reasonable and all that was required about two years ago are steadily getting out of date day by day.
744 I mention these facts, which I am sure are very well known to those hon. Member at present in the Chamber, for most of them are experts in the matter, not merely to lecture but to call attention to the physical difficulties which confront the politicians who will shortly be taking over, we hope, in British Guiana and to suggest to them that, while it is natural for a non-self-governing peoples to criticise their Government rather more than to praise it, it will be wise for politicians who will shortly bear responsibilities not to deny the existence of physical difficulties with which they will shortly have to deal themselves.
My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) said what bad luck it was that Dr. Jagan was a Communist. I agree with him, and I think we all do. Dr. Jagan is obviously a man of ability and could run a department or a Government with technical excellence. We in this country are not afraid of British Guiana going Communist and becoming a threat either to the West Indies or to this country, for she is not large enough to constitute that, but we have a responsibility to the people who live there, and it seems to me that if we hand over the Government to a man who is proposing to run it on Communist lines we are not doing our duty or performing our responsibilities by the very large number of people in the Colony. They are not Communists, or anything like it. Like most other people in the world, they wish merely to earn their living, keep their families, and live their lives in peace. It may be that, induced by promises, they may vote for a Government of whose full evolution they have no idea and which they would not wish to have if matters were explained to them clearly.
I think that one of the principal difficulties to arise will be the threat to capital investment in British Guiana. It will certainly be the ruin of sugar, which is the largest revenue earner in that part of the world, and it would have an equally catastrophic effect on the Canadian bauxite firm, which is the next most important. When I was there I found a general opinion among the Guianese that British capital was not being energetically enough invested there. It may be that other countries have a little more capital to export from time to time than we have, but the impression is abroad that 745 we actually try to prevent American and Canadian capital from being invested in Guiana. I should be grateful if my right hon. Friend would make it clear that we have done nothing to prevent capital from being invested by anybody who has a sound scheme and wishes to invest money there.
Here, I would mention that, although the Canadian bauxite company is investing a very welcome 60 million dollars in a new aluminium plant up river, it is worth adding that the taxpayers of this country have in the last two years invested 20 million dollars in British Guiana. and will not require any return by way of dividend or anything else from the Guianese. Nevertheless, we must in fairness ask ourselves whether we are doing enough for Guiana and the Colonies in the West Indies generally. One can understand that they do not like merely to be offered money. That puts them in a slightly humiliating position and they would prefer the aid, which they know they require and wish to have, to be offered in another way.
One way in which we could offer it would be by subsidising the salaries earned by technical experts required to carry out work in that country. The salaries of the experts who come from this country are normally paid by Guiana and paid on a scale which that country thinks it can afford. It very often happens that experts, especially those in Government service, are enticed away by the very much higher earnings which they can make in private enterprise.
I was told of a mining engineer who was offered twice the salary which the Government was paying him. Very nobly, he refused because he knew that the Guianese Government were very short of mining experts and that he ought to carry on his work. Not very long afterwards he was offered three times his salary to work in Venezuela.
A man with a family often finds it very difficult to resist offers like that and this country could assist Guiana considerably by subsidising to some extent the salaries offered to those experts. In passing, I mention that the salaries paid to our civil servants in Guiana are not so very great, allowing for the cost of living there. It is no secret that the only civil servant in the whole Colony who can save a penny piece after the 746 year's work is done is the Governor; and I do not suppose that he saves very much.
In spite of the difficulties in Guiana, a great deal has been done for which some credit should be given here and now. Since 1950, progress in housing has been spectacular and is there for everybody to see. Progress in keeping up with the enormous increase in the population of the children in the schools is very creditable, although everybody will admit that a great deal remains to be done. Very large works of drainage are taking place and although they take a long time to come to fruition, very shortly we will see very important extensions of cultivated land in that part of the world.
Surveys have been made, but it is a matter of the deepest regret that, in spite of popular superstition to the contrary. there is no oil in British Guiana. There is said to be some about 50 miles out to sea, but no one has been brave enough to go and look. Secondary industries have been started recently and are providing a fair number of people with employment. Something has been done to stimulate the proper organisation of trade unions and also to stimulate local government.
I should like to see a great expansion of those efforts about local government. The thing is starting up now, but much could be done with experience of local government and the responsibility of running local affairs in that part of the world, where the country is so much divided into counties because of the rivers which run between them and because of local patriotism which is greatly developed, to make a training ground for the political game later
Lastly. I hope that as much as possible will be done in land settlement. I know the difficulties and I have indicated them. They come from the terrain which is extremely difficult to cultivate, but land hunger among the Indians there is simply ferocious and, unless satisfied to some extent as soon as possible, we are certainly heading for trouble. Much is being done, but the faster we can go, the better it will be. The Committee will especially wish that British Guiana should go to self-government as soon as possible not only because that is our aim in all Colonial Territories, but also 747 because we will not get the full cooperation of the Guianese unless we are able to allow them to run their own affairs.
Nevertheless, I agree with the reservations in the constitution which is now to be put into force. The difficulty is not that the Government which is elected will be incompetent, or will do things which this Committee might not entirely agree with or take a view about certain matters of which we would disapprove. They are quite entitled to do all those things. The difficulty here is quite different from that anywhere else. It is that the elected Government may be absolutely unwilling to work the constitution, or may deliberately wreck it.
I hope that that fear is not well-founded, and that the elected Ministers will be willing to work the constitution for the time being, and will show that they can work it properly. If they do that I am certain that we shall be only too ready to match with our co-operation and confidence the work that they are prepared to do for their people. I know that we all wish to see a free and happy Guiana as soon as it possibly can be arranged constitutionally.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
Although some of us may feel that the discussion has been a little discursive, none the less it has been a good thing that Members have had the opportunity of raising the matters about which they feel keenly and have drawn the attention of the Secretary of State to a number of problems which are worrying them. We have had a great variety of subjects under discussion, and have visited many places throughout the world. I feel that this ventilation of problems is helpful and that it reveals the very genuine interest of Members and their strong feeling for the future of the dependent Commonwealth. That is true even if the attendance has not been what some of us would have liked.
During the debate we have been reminded of the changing character of the modern world and the consequential changing nature of the territories for which we are responsible. Even the conception of Empire has undergone radical changes. The lively influence of nationalism has made itself felt. It is due 748 to the criticism to which our stewardship has been subjected at the United Nations and at other international conferences; the growth, throughout the world, of a strong anti-colonial feeling, sometimes a great deal misdirected but, none the less, to be reckoned with; and, above all, the growth in ourselves of a strong anti-Imperial feeling and the development and application of our own liberal sentiments.
With it has come a changed view of our own responsibilities in respect of the territories which the legacy of history has brought us, and a new sense of responsibility and service in regard to those territories. It may be that now and again we have our lapses. I rather fear that that is the case in regard to Cyprus, and I certainly felt it was so in the case of the federation which was imposed upon Central Africa against the majority wishes of its inhabitants. None the less, as a colonial Power our course is set. In spite of the differences in the respective political philosophies of the parties in the House there is a great deal of common agreement and a large area upon which common action might be taken.
During the course of the debate many Members raised the question of the formulation of a bipartisan policy in colonial affairs. I do not want to discuss that aspect of our debate, but I want to emphasise that there can be no doubt that there is a great deal of common ground in the House in regard to many colonial matters for which we are responsible and with which we have to deal.
Perhaps our respective philosophies differ and, sometimes, our approach to certain issues is also different. Of course, it is the duty of the Opposition to challenge the Government from time to time, to probe certain problems which are before us, and at times to be somewhat critical in our approach to some colonial issues. It is a little unfair, however, that those who talk most about bi-partisan policy should address their criticisms to the Labour benches. I try to read most of the speeches made by right hon. and hon. Members about colonial policy, and I find that there is just as great a proneness among hon. Members opposite to exploit party political ends as on this side of the Committee.
I feel, I think with all hon. Members of the Committee, it is desirable that so 749 far as possible we should try to find that common ground and speak with a common voice to the territories overseas and see in what way we can help their political, social and economic progress. At the same time, it must be understood that no disservice is rendered—indeed, I think a great service is rendered—when from time to time policies are criticised and the point of view of liberal opinion, certainly on this side of the Committee, is expressed.
Undoubtedly, as a great nation with colonial responsibilities we are obliged to face the increasing demand for responsibility and self-government in our territories overseas. We cannot escape it. We cannot run away from the more vocal demands made by an increasing number of educated and responsible people in those territories, but I wish to express a word of caution about what sometimes looks too ragged a retreat before the dynamic forces of nationalism, a retreat often before our own constructive work is completed in some of the territories concerned. It is true that as a Power we cannot very much longer dominate, either economically or politically, the lives of the inhabitants of the territories for which we are responsible.
It is obvious that with this increasing dynamic spirit of nationalism we cannot operate what were the old tests in regard to the ability of a people to take over their own affairs and be responsible for their own destiny. In days gone by, when we talked of self-government and independence, we inquired whether the territory was economically viable and could stand on its own feet in matters of defence, whether it had built up a great framework for its administration. Tests of that kind, we felt, were absolutely essential before a territory took over its complete self-government and independence was conceded to it. Those tests no longer apply in the modern world.
As a power we are witnessing and have witnessed, sometimes a hasty withdrawal, even before we have discharged our responsibility to the protected people under our care and sometimes before the economic framework of the modern State has been built. We have also been obliged to abandon development schemes because of the enormous pressure of nationalism 750 and the demand for self-government from the people in our control. I suggest that if this is a correct analysis of the situation, as I believe it to be, there is room for an appraisal of our colonial policy in the terms of the territories which are struggling now for self-government.
I have difficulty, I confess, in indicating the new emphasis which ought to be brought into the policy which Governments should pursue. Certainly, there are many things, as recent experience has taught us, where nations are reaching independence or are clamouring for it, which need to be done, particularly in the case of those Colonies which hope before very long to secure full, responsible self-government. I would, therefore, emphasise the greater importance which we ought to attach to the building up of local government in the territories concerned in order that responsibility may be learned and people may know how to deal with their own affairs and make decisions for themselves.
Moreover; if self-government is to come to these territories, we must stress far more greatly than we have done the vital service of education. We cannot hope for self-government to move towards democracy unless there is an educated body of people in the territories concerned. They must know how a Government works, understand something about public affairs and how their country is run if public opinion is to be enlightened and intelligent and is to be brought to bear on the affairs of government. That, of course, means that in all our territories we ought to go all out—much more than we have done so far—in respect of information services, the build-up of the Press and of all the means of communication which bring enlightenment to local inhabitants.
Therefore, I think that we ought to stress even more than we have done, although we have done excellent work in this field, the importance of training in administration and technical services. We are conscious that in a number of territories now reaching independence the framework of administration is not nearly as strong as it should be, particularly because of the withdrawal of expatriate people who have gone to those territories from this country, and also because there has been inadequate preparation in the country itself for administrative work and 751 insufficient local people have been trained for the discharge of the new duties which responsibility brings. Therefore, we must stress much more in the future the importance of training local people in administration and in the technical services.
Of course, we cannot hope for new territories to discharge the high calling of responsible government unless there is an appropriate economic framework. We must do all in our power to build up the economic life of these territories; to get a mixed economy wherever possible and help to develop the natural resources of these countries, so that when they establish their social services, at least they can be sustained by local economic resources.
I wish also to draw attention to a few matters against the background I have already indicated. I join with the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in paying tribute to those who have contributed to the progress so far recorded in our Colonial Territories. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying that although Ministers sometimes imagine that they do a great deal in achieving some aspects of this progress, it is the patient work of administrators, technical staff, officials in the Colonial Office and overseas, missionaries, traders, agricultural workers, farmers and others who make possible the progress which has been attained. I think it right, therefore, that the Committee should pay tribute to the enormous contribution which our own countrymen have made in great civilising efforts in various parts of the world.
During the debate today a number of hon. Members questioned the future of the Colonial Office in relation to the Commonwealth Relations Office. May I assure the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that on these benches there is no ignorance regarding the functions of the Commonwealth Relations Office.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Then I beg his pardon.
Sometimes we wish that we could better group the territories under the control of the respective Departments. I often wish 752 that the South African Protectorates could come to the Colonial Office. On the other hand, there has been a close liaison between the two offices regarding the dependent territories for which the Commonwealth Relations Department is responsible. Because the functions of the two offices are mainly different. I feel it would be a great mistake—at any rate for a long time to come—for a merger of the two Departments to take place.
The depository of experience and of knowledge in the Colonial Office regarding administration and executive work in the territories is of such vital importance that it should be preserved and used for aiding the dependent territories. I should not welcome any suggestion that the number of dependent territories for which the Colonial Office is responsible should decrease, except those reaching independence. As I have said, because of the quality and experience and the expert skill of the Colonial Office, it would be a great pity for that Department to be merged, and also for one Minister to be responsible for two widely different sets of functions.
Although my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) paid a tribute to the work of the Colonial Office, I think there is still a suspicion that it is a somewhat moribund office. There used to be a feeling that it was the "Cinderella" of all the Government Departments. I think that that feeling arises from a profound ignorance of the functions of the Colonial Office. I speak with experience extending over a number of years in that Department and can testify to the magnificent quality of its officers; to their alertness and imagination, and to their desire to effect change when change was felt to be necessary.
Of course, the Colonial Office never stays still It is always adjusting itself to the changing needs of the dependent Commonwealth for which it has responsibilities. If one studied the scope and the work of the office over the last twenty years one would see the extraordinary adjustments that have been made from time to time in the Department's duties and responsibilities. There are still a whole variety of services to be performed which are of immense importance to the Colonial Territories.
753 My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East referred to research work. The Colonial Office has organised research. When I left the Colonial Office it was spending, in what was, I think, a most profitable way, over £2 million a year in seeking answers to many of the baffling problems that confront the territories—animal health, the ordinary physical health of the people, the health of plants and the like; a whole variety of subjects which are of vital importance to administrators and technicians. There is also the surveying of our overseas territories; the discovery of water supplies, the collecting of geological information and the charting of territories —all that was then going forward under the aegis of the Department.
Higher education is another subject. The question was asked during the debate, "Why not have another university college established for the Protectorates?" Already, in the last decade, six or seven new university colleges moving forward to university status have been established. That work is going on with extraordinary good results. Then there are the Colonial Office training schemes, not only for training people to go out to the territories, but also to enable people from the territories to acquire the skill necessary for the discharge of higher responsibility.
That work is of immense importance and, if I may say so, I was extremely pleased to note that it is now not limited to the Colonial Office but is going forward for the independent territories under the aegis of the Commonwealth Relations Office. The announcement made in respect of Ghana—the interchange of students, the training in technical skills which is to be provided, some at our own expense and some at the expense of this Government and that of Ghana—records a remarkably important advance which I very much hope will be applied to other territories becoming independent.
To conclude this catalogue of some of the services of the Colonial Office, which are not always appreciated, there is the astonishing list of advisory committees composed of some of the best brains and some of the most experienced people. They meet repeatedly to deal with the various problems of the Colonies and to advise the Secretary of State and the colonial Governments. All that 754 work is of supreme importance, so do not let us minimise it. There are also the periodic meetings of officials from various parts of the Colonial Empire to compare notes and to see in what respects they can improve their service and how they can gain from the experience of people of other Colonies. Therefore, I hope we shall not lend an ear to the kind of criticism that is sometimes heard that the Colonial Office is not discharging its great responsibility for the Colonial Territories.
I should like to refer to colonial development, because here again there is a danger that some of our work in the Colonies in the field of development may become limited as a result of certain decisions recently taken. I do not want to go over the old ground of pleading that the emergent territories should have the facilities which are made available to the dependent territories under the Colonial Development Corporation and the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. I hope the Government have taken sufficient notice of the very strong criticism both in this House and in another place, and of the disappointment which has been felt in countries like Ghana as well as in Malaya, because certain schemes which might have been developed have had to be abandoned or projects dropped prematurely.
But a point is now being reached with regard to the credit that is available to colonial development when either further projects will become impossible, or alternatively the Treasury will have to concede that more credit should be made available. The point is well brought out in the recent Report of the Colonial Development Corporation that they have now almost reached the £100 million which was set in the 1948 Act. The capital approved is already £85 million; £15 million will be required to bring existing projects to fruition. Thus, the £100 million has almost been reached and the need for more credit has therefore become desperately urgent if new projects under the Colonial Development Corporation are to be considered.
I now pass to two other points. One is concerned with economic development in our territories, which is quite apart from the two points which I have mentioned in connection with the Colonial 755 Development Corporation and the position of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. I mention this point because it is exercising some concern among most of us. In recent years there have been some radical changes in the marketing arrangements of our Colonial Territories. Many of the controls which during the war and subsequently proved of immense importance to the economy of these territories are slowly being abandoned.
I hope that the Secretary of State will have something to say about this problem, because many of these controls, much of this machinery and various economic devices were created to safeguard the economy of the territories. If they are removed, when another world slump comes or the trade cycle goes round again, there is real danger that these Colonial Territories will suffer and production in the territories will be severely diminished.
Further, on the economic side, I should like the Secretary of State to tell us whether the question of the effect on our Colonial Territories of the policy concerned with the Common Market in Europe has been considered, and what are the conclusions of the Government with regard to safeguarding the position of the Colonial Territories if such a policy is further pursued. I shall not deal with the problem of capital for colonial development as that was discussed on Friday last.
The second point causing some of us concern is the difficulties which are being experienced by certain Powers at the United Nations through the machinery of that body. I do not remember that we in this Chamber have ever had a debate on any of the White Papers issued by the Foreign Secretary each year about the discussions which take place at New York regarding dependent and other territories. It may be that there are certain practical difficulties in extending international accountability. On the other hand, the work of the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations is of immense benefit to all dependent territories, whether they are Colonies or not.
Under Chapter 11 of the Charter, as the Secretary of State well knows, there are emerging new difficulties, not difficulties connected with the question of 756 extending the principle of international accountability, but difficulties because of the failure of certain Powers now to exercise the necessary duties and responsibilities entered into under that Chapter. We see that the Belgian Government, with vast colonial power, have refused further to take part in the machinery under Chapter 11 of the Charter. Spain and Portugal, which are important colonial Powers, regard their overseas territories as extensions, as provinces, of the metropolitan countries, and they are not prepared to operate the machinery which has been erected under that Chapter 11.
I notice, too, that the worthy governor who has represented this nation for many years at the United Nations, under Chapters 12 and 13, has a great deal to say about Chapter 11 in his recent book, and the advice which he offers is that we should follow the example of the Belgian Government and ourselves leave the machinery erected under that chapter and walk out like the Belgians. I personally feel that that would be a profound mistake.
None the less, there are certain practical difficulties which have to be faced, and I ask the Secretary of State whether it is possible for us in our deliberations at the United Nations to take a much more constructive and positive view than we have been taking in recent years Our difficulties have been, and are, great. We, a great colonial Power, seem frequently to put ourselves morally in the wrong, although technically we have been quite right in the voting stand we have taken. However, there is in all this a very real problem of some concern to some of us.
I conclude with a reference to the High Commission Territories, because I want to emphasise what has already been said, that we ought in no circumstances to surrender to the demand of the Union Government. I feel that that would be a gross betrayal. I think it imperative that the peoples themselves should be allowed a say if such a decision is to be taken. We know what their answer will be. I will also echo what my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) said in respect to mineral development. I want to see controlled development, and I should like to see the people of the territories associated with that development, and also 757 the revenues arising from the minerals being used for native welfare.
I feel that I have only got through about half the things that I would like to say, and I know that I should give way to the Secretary of State, but so many problems have been raised today and there has been so much discussion on the smaller territories that I think that our debate has been thoroughly justified. It has been well worth while that this opportunity has been given to us to ventilate the grievances and the feelings of the millions of people for whom we in this Committee have a very grave and difficult responsibility.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
Towards the close of his very interesting speech— and I am grateful to him for sitting down before he had really finished—the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) raised what is probably the most important matter that this Parliament will have to consider. It would not be possible for me, in the time available, to deal even inadequately with it, but I must mention it in passing, since the right hon. Gentleman has raised it. It is the question of the Common Market and proposed Free Trade Area.
Needless to say, I, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, and all my colleagues, are very conscious of our obligations in this matter towards the British Colonial Territories. We are concerned with two things. The first is the signature of the Treaty of Rome, and that is now a reality. We must, therefore, see what steps it will be necessary for us to take to mitigate any possible adverse consequences that may come from the signature of that treaty to the British Colonial Territories for which we are responsible.
The second issue concerns the Free Trade Area, and, naturally, we have been giving very close consideration to the position of the British Colonies in this matter. As I have said, if I sought to deal with this question even inadequately now, I shall have to leave unanswered the mass of other interesting points raised in the debate, to which it would not be possible to give more than a passing reference.
When the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and I first got 758 to know each other fairly well, I was Minister of Transport and he was in charge of the Labour Party's Transport Committee. Here we are again, and I am very glad that it should be so. It is a curious fact, as he has raised the question of Parliamentary Questions and the volume of the work that the House expects from the Colonial Office, that the two Departments with which we have been associated—Transport and the Colonial Office—should figure amongst the first three Departments to be most heavily questioned in this House. I do not think that there is any connection between them, because the hon. Gentleman is himself limited, though this may be very regrettable, by the rule preventing him from putting down more than three Questions on one day.
Last year, the Colonial Office was asked, on the Order Paper, 958 Questions. The Foreign Office came next with 898, and the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation next with 728, but there is this difference. While the Foreign Office answered orally 486 out of the 898 Questions, I, as Colonial Secretary, and my colleagues, were able to answer orally only 208 out of the 958 asked. So, naturally, I sympathise with hon. Members who feel that at least a new look at the situation is desirable. The Government are well aware of this problem, and it is now under discussion through the usual channels.
I know that hon. Members will realise, or should realise, that between 70 and 80 per cent. of all the Questions addressed to the Colonial Secretary and his colleagues in the Colonial Office have to be referred to colonial Governors before they can be answered. If we are able to find some way out of this difficulty, I entreat hon. Members only to ask those Questions which they really feel justified in asking in view of the exhaustive work of the various colonial Governments in preparing the necessary Answers.
I have refrained on many occasions when I have been sorely tempted from stating that I could find out the facts, but that I did not believe that the finding of those facts would justify the labour involved. I would much prefer to leave it to hon. Members themselves, but if we could meet their convenience in this way we could perhaps bring into effect something which, in the unlikely event of 759 our ever being in opposition again, we would do our best to follow in later years.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East also raised the question of the varying responsibilities of the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. Much thought is being given now to the best machinery for dealing with Commonwealth affairs. The hon. Member himself rightly stressed the very particular trust reposed in the Colonial Office and the words "Colonial Office" in certain Colonial Territories and that we must be exceedingly careful not to disturb that trust. Consideration is being given to that, and, of course, it has been stimulated by the representations made, for example, by my friend Mr. Lim Yew Hock from Singapore and by my friend Sir Roy Welensky from the Federation of Central Africa.
Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will agree that this is one of the best colonial debates that we have had for a very long time. My hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) said that emerging territories need above everything else wisdom, experience and integrity and that it would be a great disservice to those territories if we encouraged unduly wild ambitions.
The question has arisen from time to time during the debate, and it was raised in particular by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), whether Members of Parliament should not travel more in the Colonies. My answer to that would be, "Most certainly, yes, if they genuinely go on factfinding missions, but most certainly not if they go with preconceived views which, in total ignorance of local circumstances, they then proclaim to the world when they arrive in the various territories."
I could wish that hon. Members would always speak with the same candour when they are overseas as they do elsewhere. I have the greatest respect for the hon. Member for Rugby. He has lately been in the Central African Federation. I have done my utmost to follow Press reports of his various speeches. I may be unjust to him, becase I have not read everything, but to the best of my recollection he made a friendly reference to the idea of a qualitative franchise when he was in Salisbury 760 and he made no such reference when he was in Lusaka; but, of course, it is in Lusaka that it was important that friendly reference should be made to a qualitative franchise.
But I shall not pursue that point. There will be many opportunities of discussing the relative value of the hon. Member's journey in the Federation and of mine.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
It is for you to say, Sir Charles, but I will refer to the matter a little later.
The best friend to the territories sometimes is the candid friend. I listened with great interest to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw), dealing with the problem of British Guiana. He said that nothing should be done to frighten off capital from British Guiana. I can assure him that there has been no hindrance of any kind put in the way of worthwhile investment in British Guiana. I join with him in watching with the closest interest the progress of the development programme for the current fifth year period in British Guiana for, which there is a total sum of £19 million.
There are a number of other points on the bipartisan approach that I should have liked to develop, but it will probably be more worth while if I deal with one or two of the great issues that have arisen in this debate. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield about the vital necessity of encouraging local authority and Native Authority government as the best possible foundation for eventual self-government in the territories, and I wish that we had all felt that way in earlier years.
There is one other general issue, raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East in his reference to the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. I fully endorse what he said about the extremely good quality of that Report and the valuable nature of its advice. It is a Report to my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, but after it was published the then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies had two long talks with Sir Solly Zuckerman. We are looking carefully into the proposal that there should be a centre of tropical agriculture, and I can promise him that the Report 761 is being treated with the seriousness it deserves.
The hon. Gentleman raised a number of questions, of which perhaps the most important was that of Tanganyika. I hope that hon. Members who raised issues concerning other territories will forgive me if I give what may appear to be a disproportionate amount of time to the three East African Territories, namely, Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya though, if time allows, I will do my best to deal with one or two other points as well.
The Governor of Tanganyika recently announced in the Legislative Council further steps towards constitutional advance in the territory, and a Bill to provide for the introduction of elections, based on a common roll and a qualitative franchise, was placed before the Legislative Council and was considered a few days ago. It was hoped to hold the first elections early next week, and the Government spokesman indicated that the intention would be to confine elections, at the outset, to three or four constituencies.
During the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill, however, it became clear that there was a strong body of opinion in favour of deferring elections sine die until they could be held in all constituencies to enable the Government to consider the views which had been expressed. In moving the Adjournment, the Chief Secretary made it clear that delay in the passage of the necessary legislation would make it impossible to hold elections in 1958. The Governor is now in consultation with me on the next step to be taken, but I can assure the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that those steps will not be taken out of pique.
Further innovations, which have implications of great importance to Tanganyika, are contained in the proposal for the introduction of a ministerial system and the appointment of six unofficial assistant ministers which the Governor, with my approval has placed before the Legislative Council. I heard yesterday that the Governor has now appointed four Africans, one Asian and one European to these posts as being the persons best fitted by experience and interest to address themselves to the aspects of Government concerned.
All these are really positive steps forward towards a non-racial approach to a greater measure of self-government in 762 Tanganyika, and I am sure that the whole Committee will welcome them. It is unfortunate that the atmosphere should have been clouded by recent activities of the Tanganyika African National Union. I had hoped to be able to develop at greater length the case for the action that the Governor has taken recently in regard to that union with my full approval. May I say, however, that there are evident signs that, particularly in the Tanga Province, attempts had been made to instil an attitude of contempt for authority, and that the idea has been spread abroad that the Tanganyika African Union is above the law and that their native authorities and their courts no longer have any responsibility or jurisdiction.
Neither the Governor nor I am prepared to tolerate the growth of that idea. and the action he has taken with great regret has, as I say, my entire support.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I understand that Mr. Nyerere is anxious to go to Tanga Province to put the position right. Why is he denied access to it?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
As the hon. Gentleman knows, it has been held impossible, and I think rightly, that there should be large scale, open-air meetings. If Mr. Nyerere has any particular proposal to put as to how he can undo some of the mischief that has been caused, he has many opportunities of contact with the Governor, whose approachability in all these matters is well known. At his house on more than one occasion in previous years I have met Mr. Nyerere.
My noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) asked about Uganda and its future as a unitary State. I can assure him that all he said was of the greatest interest to me and to my hon. Friends. As the Committee knows, the future of Uganda as a unitary State is one of prime concern to Her Majesty's Government. As the Committee will also know, a Motion about self-government was recently debated in the Protectorate Assembly and the result of that was a fairly clear indication of the general feeling of people in Uganda about premature political advance.
We are all very concerned with the need not to stand still in this matter, but to keep moving forward consistent with the learning of lessons at every stage. I am confident that under the vigorous 763 leadership of the Governor, Sir Frederick Crawford, proper progress will be made. I hope that an opportunity will arise for me to be able to deal in greater detail with the steps being taken in Uganda, but for reasons which the Committee will readily understand, I am afraid that that is not possible tonight.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) referred to the "lost counties" in Bunyoro. I can assure her that I sat under a tree near Government House in Entebbe, two years ago, and gave my personal assurance to the Omukhama of Bunyoro that I would examine that problem afresh. I did so and I came to the same conclusion as right hon. Gentlemen in previous years, that it was impossible to reopen the question. The hon. Lady mentioned a number of cases where she felt that discriminatory action was taken against Bunyoro citizens in Buganda. I will certainly see that the attention of the Governor is drawn to all her comments and to one or two others addressed to me privately on the same issue.
The hon. Lady and my noble Friend the Member for Hertford also referred to Kenya, and I very much welcome the speeches they made. It would not be proper for me to comment on the Report submitted to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, except to say that as a member of that Association I have read that Report with the greatest possible interest. Opinions may vary about what should be done about reports of that kind, but I urge all hon. Members who do not already belong to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to join at once so as to have the privilege—if there is no other way to find out what is in the report, which is unlikely—of reading the Report.
As the Committee knows, we have lately suffered in Kenya what I hope is only a temporary constitutional setback. A feature of the 1954 settlement was an understanding to arrange direct elections of African representative members who were previously nominated from candidates present by indirect elections. This was a further step forward in African political progress. Elections were held in March and only two of the existing members were returned. Immediately 764 after their election, eight African representative members declared their intention not to participate in the Government as now constituted. They came to regard the 1954 settlement as dead and urged the immediate creation of 15 more African seats on the Legislative Council.
The effect of such an adjustment would be to increase African representation nearly threefold and at one jump to bring it up to equality with all other races taken together on the representative side. It is clearly impossible for me to accede to such a unilateral demand. As I have explained before, the pattern of development which I and my colleagues have fostered is one of inter-racial co-operation on which the hopes of a peaceful and prosperous Kenya depend. For the African members, at this stage, to fling down a racial challenge to the Government is quite incompatible with the basic principles which my predecessor and I have thought most appropriate in the present phase of constitutional development in Kenya. I do not propose to absolve any member in the legislature from his clear responsibility to negotiate with other groups if he desires early changes to be made.
An opportunity already exists for an examination of the structure of the Legislative Council in the announced intention of the various groups to consider the need for additional seats. That my mind is not closed to change—I was asked about that by one hon. Member—was made clear by my acceptance of the agreed proposals made to me last year, but until this discussion has taken place and recommendations have been made to me I cannot undertake that any further changes will be made.
I welcome the recent extension of African representatives and the opportunity which was given for the Africans to elect their own representatives. It is now for these representatives to show a due sense of responsibility to their own people and to look to their overall interests, which are directly affected by the day-to-day conduct of affairs.
They cannot discharge their duty by throwing a sterile challenge at the Government. Rather will their interests be furthered by the representatives who take their place in the councils of Government and do their utmost by democratic 765 argument to advance African interests, at the same time looking also to the interests of Kenya as a whole, and playing their part in maintaining a cohesive, confident Government which can tackle in harmony the many pressing problems of the Colony's development. If they persist in their attitude the Government of Kenya will, nevertheless, go on. I cannot regard these obstructive demands as making the existing Constitution unworkable. Ways will be found to make multi-racial government work in Kenya, and I earnestly hope that all will co-operate to this end.
I listened with the greatest interest to the speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), with much of which I was in agreement, and, in particular, when he enlarged on the real dangers of politics becoming racial and developing along communal lines. I was glad that he took a leaf out of the Tanganyika plan, in that under his proposals each candidate would have to command support from people of all races so that it might be hoped that moderate candidates would emerge.
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) raised a number of most interesting points in regard to the Pacific Islands. I hope that all those who live in those lovely territories will not think that, because their affairs are not frequently discussed, their interests are far away from the hearts of those of us in this Committee. I think that the right hon. Gentleman forgot that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who was then the Minister of State, paid a very hasty visit last year to Fiji, the New Hebrides and the Solomon Islands Protectorate. At present, representatives from Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom are meeting in Canberra to review the work of the South Pacific Commission which was set up by agreement ten years ago. Our representatives include the Governor of Fiji, and the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, and the leader is a senior officer from my Department who has visited the Solomons and the New Hebrides on his route to Canberra and will go on to Fiji and the Gilberts on his return.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me certain questions about aspects of life and development in the Solomon Islands. I 766 will write to him in detail about the various points that he raised. However, I am glad to tell him that the geological survey has made substantial progress and has yielded thoroughly worthwhile results, that forestry development is progressing satisfactorily, and that the new central hospital at Honiara is now built and, in the words of one of my officers, the authorities have made a magnificent effort and have produced a hospital which can well, I think, develop into one of the best hospitals in the Pacific Ocean. I will write to the right hon. Gentleman privately about the other points he raised about the Pacific Islands.
The hon. Member for Rugby asked me a number of questions about the Haud and Reserved Area of the Somaliland Protectorate. I ought to make it clear that the Ethiopian authorities are not at this moment making special difficulties for such tribes as may now be in the Protectorate, and the object of the talks that are going on is to remove one of the principal causes of dissension in the past, which is the dispute between the British and Ethiopian authorities as to what are British tribes in the Protectorate and what are Ethiopian tribes.
Authority has now been given to increase the strength of the Illalo force by another 100. I can assure the hon. Member that if the Governor presses for further increases I shall see that nothing stands in the way, but it is essential that those recruited for this very delicate job should be most suitable and of the highest quality.
The hon. Member for Flint, East asked one or two questions about Gambia. The territory has had a long and honourable association with Great Britain, and I am at all times anxious to make it clear to its people that the House of Commons is keenly concerned with their welfare and development. The hon. Member asked about housing in Bathurst. I am glad to say that the Gambian Government are now considering a report by the housing adviser to the Secretary of State —Mr. Atkinson—recommending a model estate on reclaimed land in Bathurst, and we shall press on with that with all expedition, subject to some of the financial difficulties of which the hon. Member is fully aware.
If I may turn to economic development, there is a very promising agricultural improvement scheme, assisted by 767 colonial development and welfare funds, in Kombo St. Mary. A new head of the educational department has been appointed from Northern Nigeria and although he has not yet arrived I am sure that when he does so—which will be soon—he will put new life and vigour into the educational development of Gambia. As the hon. Member rightly said, one of the chief difficulties is finance. We are glad that this year there is a record groundnut crop of over 70,000 tons—the best crop for thirty years. This has been bought by the marketing board at £31 a ton, which is £6 a ton more than last year.
Almost as important from the human point of view is that the production of the main subsistence crop—rice—has been greatly increased in the past few years, mainly as a result of the energetic programmes of bunding, which is bringing large areas of swamp land under cultivation. As a result, the hungry season—the period between the sowing of the new rice crop and its reaping, when stocks of the old rice become exhausted—has been abolished. The House should give its warm congratulations to Sir Percy Wyn-Harris, the most enthusiastic and enterprising Governor, whose personal drive has been in large measure responsible for this worth while result.
I realise that I have left a number of points unanswered. I had hoped that on this occasion I would escape the charge of leaving certain issues unresolved. I see that I still have two minutes unexpectedly available, having completed my Gambian journey, so I can tell the hon. Member for Rugby that I also listened to what he said about Mauritius. I left it out of my original plan because the Under-Secretary of State referred to it in his opening remarks.
I can tell the hon. Member—as he probably already knows—in regard to 768 nomination that, as was stated in the Press announcement made after the recent talks with the Mauritius delegation, the nomination would not be used to frustrate the result of the elections. It would be used where appropriate to ensure the representation of special interests of those who had no chance of obtaining representation through elections.
In the case of the Executive Council the object would be for the nine unofficial seats to reflect the composition of the Legislative Council. I believe that the plans we have suggested to the Mauritius delegates and the proposed Commission which I hope will be able to take up its work fairly soon will provide hope in the constitutional field. I am aware that this debate has been taken up largely with constitutional discussions, but we should all realise more and more that the foundation of successful constitutional development is the economic development, and for that political stability and confidence are essential.
One good result of the debate will, I hope, be to show our friends and fellow-citizens throughout the British Colonial Empire that there is such a wide measure of agreement that although we might not be able to call ourselves a Council of State we get somewhere near it when we discuss this sort of problem and get away from the hustings, either here or overseas.
§ Whereupon Motion made, and Question, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again—[Mr. E. Wakefield]—put and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress: to sit again Tomorrow.
§ Resolved, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. E. Wakefield.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at one minute to Ten o'clock.