§ 3.31 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
I beg to move,That the Draft Order in Council, to signify Her Majesty's Assent to the Constitution Amendment Bill of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a copy of which was laid before this House on 31st October, in the last Session of Parliament, be not submitted to Her Majesty.I think it will be agreed that we on this side of the House today will be expressing the apprehensions and doubts of many people in addition to those who sit on these benches. Indeed, unless my memory is at fault, rarely has there been, on an issue affecting African politics, such a consensus of opinion, expressing itself from a wide variety of organs of opinion.
The Press this morning and during the weekend has expressed itself quite forcibly upon the responsibility which lies upon the Government today. The Times editorial referred to the heavy onus which rests upon the Government to make their case. The Observer said yesterday that the good name of Parliament was involved in this debate and called upon the House to reject the Bill. The Times this morning referred also to our good faith's being at stake in Africa. The Daily Mirror said:Approval of the Bill will look like treachery.This newspaper reflects the views of many people, and has taken a very courageous stand on these African issues.
The International Department of the British Council of Churches sent out a statement saying that as a body it had originally advised the Africans to accept Federation, but now felt bound to say that approval of the Billwill result in deterioration of race relationshipsin Africa. The Africa Bureau, an all-party body, has also spoken against the Bill. So has the Inter-Racial Society, in Salisbury. So has the Capricorn Africa Society. No body of opinion outside the Federal Government and the British Government has expressed itself in favour of this Constitution Amendment Bill in its present form.
Supporters of the Administration. I know, are genuinely concerned about this 809 matter. The Bow Group was good enough to send me a copy of its memorandum on the subject. Although it says that the Bill ought to be approved, it also says that, nevertheless, we must ensure that amendments are made in order that the Bill shall reflect more adequately the views in those Territories.
The tragedy of it is that we are unable to amend this Bill, whatever we may do with any other Bill. We must either accept or reject it, and I say to the Government that a very heavy responsibility rests upon them to make their case.
I read in the newspapers the comment that our party has sent out a three-line Whip without hearing the arguments of the Government. It has been open to them to convey those arguments to us at any time. They issued a White Paper which merely contained the objections of the African Affairs Board in Africa to this Bill and contained the response of the Federal Government. There was no reason at all why in that White Paper the Government should not have indicated their reasons for supporting the Federal Government in this matter.
Instead, we have been fobbed off—and I use the words "fobbed off" deliberately with an Answer in an obscure corner of HANSARD telling us that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations made a personal visit, that he was satisfied with what he saw, and that, therefore, the British Government proposed to go ahead with the Bill. The Front Bench opposite may be satisfied. I warn them that very few other people in this country are satisfied with what we have heard so far of the reasons in support of this Bill, and I propose to detail our objections to it as it stands at present.
There is nothing necessary about this Bill at all. Its major proposal is to increase the size of the Federal Assembly from 35 to 59. The Assembly has run quite well with 35 members for the last four years. It may be convenient to have it enlarged, but I am certain that it is not vital or necessary to have it enlarged at the present time. The Southern Rhodesian Assembly has had only 30 members since 1923, and they seem to have managed to get along pretty well.
The first objection I make to the Bill is that in the present state of troubled opinion in Africa the Government are 810 really pursuing a wrong course in adding to those difficulties and that trouble by supporting a Bill whose major purpose is merely to increase the size—however convenient that may be—of the Federal Assembly.
I go further. The Bill only just scraped home in the Federal Assembly—by one vote more than the two-thirds necessary for a constitutional majority: only one. Indeed, if somebody had not managed to rise from a sick-bed we should not be considering this Bill today. So there is no unanimous support in the Federal Assembly for this Bill, any more than there is throughout the Federation as a whole.
There is another reason that ought to appeal to the Government more strongly than this. I put it to the Under-Secretary of State. Did he ever expect, was it ever in his mind, during the discussions that went on in this House before 1953, that we should be considering a Bill of this nature in advance of the constitutional review in 1960? He nods in the affirmative, but that was not the impression given in Central Africa,
I have a letter here from a member of the Federal Assembly. It was sent to The Times, and I am therefore, free to quote it. It is from the Rev. Andrew Doig, a European member for African interests is the Federal Assembly, and this is his view of the situation:The Africans were given the assurance in 1953 that the Constitution would not be subject to any fundamental changes before a fully representative conference reviewed it between 1960–63. The Constitution did, of course, make provision for changes earlier, but it was clear that this did not refer to anything of major consequence nor to the basic principles of the Constitution. This was the only reassuring aspect that could be offered to Africans so fully opposed to Federation. Only in a sustained period of constitutional stability could there be any hope of a Federal Government allaying African fears. Yet here, in less than four years, is a Bill aiming at fundamental changeThat was his view.
Having again read through all the debates which preceded the Federal Constitution, I cannot find it suggested anywhere by any Government speaker, at any time at any stage of those proceedings, that we should he faced with a constitutional Bill of this order and nature before 1960. I should very much like to hear what authority the Under-Secretary of State can find if he is to tell us it was 811 the intention of the Government to introduce such a Bill. If that was their intention they should have told us so then. My own view is it was not their intention.
I conclude on this part, because I do not wish to be too long, by saying that to introduce a Bill of this nature, of such a controversial character, which is discriminatory and has been ruled to be discriminatory, while certainly not a breach of the Constitution—the Government are entitled to do it—is most certainly a breach of the undertakings and the understandings of what went into the making of that Constitution.
I come to the position of the African Affairs Board. This is the Board which was set up after prolonged discussion in the House to protect the interests of the African people. It is made up of three Europeans and three Africans. I have just quoted a letter from one of the Europeans, the Rev. Andrew Doig. Another, who is very well-known and respected, is Sir John Moffat. The third is Mr. H. E. Davies. In addition, there are three Africans.
The purpose of the Board, written into the Federal Constitution, is to refer back a Bill or Instrument by which Africans are subjected or made liable to any conditions, restrictions or disabilities disadvantageous to them to which Europeans are not also subjected or made liable. Everyone who has followed the proceedings of the African Affairs Board during the last three or four years will agree that it has carried out that part fairly and objectively.
The Board has made a number of proposals for the modification of legislation. I believe that on a number of occasions those proposals have been accepted. The Board has done its duty as it should have done. Now, for the first time in the history of the Federation, this Board, which I believe it will be agreed on both sides of the House has done its job well and impartially, has come forward and said that it regards this Bill as discriminatory, because it fails to live up to Article 71, which is the aegis under which the Board operates. It was never the expectation of the House that, if the African Affairs Board was to give such a ruling as this, Her Majesty's Government would disregard the ruling, and certainly not if the Bill 812 merely scraped through by one vote over the requisite majority. It seems to me that the Government are flying in the face of common sense and, indeed, of good faith on this issue.
To explain the reasons for the Board's objection, I must take up the time of the House by explaining what lies behind the objection. At present, there are three groups of members in the Federal Assembly. I will speak of the facts and not of the theory which underlies the facts. There is a group of Europeans elected by Europeans. I know that Africans could elect them, of course, but this is like the doors of the Ritz, which is open to rich and poor alike, and with much the same consequence. The practical fact is that Europeans elect Europeans for 26 seats out of the existing 35. In addition, there are the seats in which Europeans and Africans unite to elect African representatives and in which Europeans are in a substantial majority in those elections. Finally, there are four seats, two each in the two Northern Territories, in which African influence is exclusive in electing its own representatives. What the Bill does, in increasing the numbers in the Federal Assembly from 35 to 59, is to add to the influence of the Europeans in the election of African members, and to add to it very substantially indeed.
I should like to try to make clear what I mean, because this is a very complicated subject. Under the proposals that exist in the new franchise Bill, there are to be two voters' lists. The general list will be overwhelmingly European. If I may quote from the Bow Group's figures—and that ought to be acceptable to hon. Members opposite—on the general voters' list in Southern Rhodesia there will be 65,000 European electors and 1,600 African electors. These electors are to be responsible for electing 44 members of the new House of 59. Therefore, we have 1,600 Africans in Southern Rhodesia interested in those elections.
Now there is a second group of members, to be called the Elected African Members, who will number eight in all, in respect of which there is to be a mixture of European and African voters. In Southern Rhodesia, according to the Bow Group, there will be 65,000 European electors and 16,000 African electors in respect of these members. The Africans, 813 so the Bow Group says, are outnumbered by four to one. I do not know whether the Bow Group is right or wrong, but I thought it might appeal to hon. Members opposite if I selected figures supplied by their own supporters.
At any rate, whoever says that these figures are wrong will be hard put to it to substitute any others. It is very difficult to find any reliable figures, because they depend so much on a man's income, and as the African is not assessed for Income Tax nobody knows how many Africans have the necessary qualification. It also depends on a man's educational status. These figures, therefore, are liable to considerable error. Nevertheless, as we have these Conservative figures, I will stick to them.
In Southern Rhodesia, in eight seats out of 59, Africans in electing their own representatives will be outnumbered by four to one. The Observer, very unkindly, yesterday called these elected Africans "stooges". I, being a moderate and reasonable man, would not dream of using such a term, but it will be very hard not to avoid such a term being bandied about if this is the situation. In Northern Rhodesia, we are told, in the election of eight representatives, Europeans and Africans are about balanced. In other words, Europeans will have only 50 per cent. voice in electing African representatives. In Nyasaland, there will certainly he a majority of African electors.
It should be made clear that we are not now discussing the electoral roll for the election of 44 out of 59. We are discussing only the electoral roll for the election of eight miserable Africans, and it is in this small roll and concentrated field that the Government are proposing that the House should now accept that there should be a predominance of Europeans in Southern Rhodesia, an equality of Europeans in Northern Rhodesia and a majority of Africans in Nyasaland.
§ Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)
Will the hon. Member explain what he means by eight "miserable" Africans?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am much obliged to the hon. Member. I do not want the word to be misinterpreted. I meant that the number was miserable in relation 814 to the whole figure of 59. I hope that that was clear to the House. That is what we are talking about.
If the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in reply to the debate, does what the Manchester Guardian promises he will do and, to bewilder us about the figures, talks about each roll, I beg the House and Government supporters to remember that, when the hon. Gentleman gives the figures, he will not be referring to the 44 but to the tiny figure of eight Africans. It seems to me quite ludicrous, in circumstances like this, that we should allow the Federal Assembly to amend the roll, when it is increasing the number of seats, so as to bring in Europeans to vote for African representatives when they have not been included before.
This is justified on what I regard as the hypocritical ground that we are getting away from racial elections and that in this way racial voting will wither away. If there is any justification for that comment, and I wish there were, then, as the Bow Group so justly says, let those two rolls apply not only for the election of the eight but also for the election of the 44. Then we shall really begin to see racial elections withering away and racial voting departing from the scene, and nobody will be more pleased than my hon. Friends and myself if we can get to that position. However, to attempt to justify this on the ground that it is getting away from multi-racial voting is hypocrisy at its worst.
Now I turn to a further objection. The Bill proposes that if any African in the future should be elected amongst the elite 44, then one of the eight special African representatives shall disappear. It is silent on the question whether, if such an African is defeated in the following election, the special African should be returned. My awn reading of the Bill, which has not been denied, is that he will not.
I do not go as far as some of my hon. Friends, who think that it might be possible to put up "stooge" Africans in one election and defeat them all in the next. I do not think that that is what would happen. What I am saying is that this Clause is, in effect, doing what the Minister for Law in the Federal Assembly said would be done before the Federal Constitution was agreed, and which was 815 denied by Mr. Henry Hopkinson, as he then was, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.
I refer the Government to the paragraph that I have in mind. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) quoted on 24th March, 1953, from what Mr. Greenfield had said in the Federal Assembly and I will repeat part of that quotation. Mr. Greenfield had said:'…it seems likely that if the common voters roll were retained'"—that is the 44 in this case—'and it became apparent that by means of the common voters roll Africans were being elected among those…people'that is now among those 44 people—'…then a move would be made to change the Constitution so as to reduce the number of representatives chosen to represent African interests.'HON. MEMBERS: Shocking.
MR. GRIFFITHS: I did not want to make those quotations, but I felt impelled to do so.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (MR. HENRY HOPKINSON): Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that that is just the sort of thing that the African Affairs Board exists to stop and can stop?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th March, 1953; Vol. 513, c. 686.]
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that Clause 2 (2) of the Draft Order in Council does just exactly that? How can he possibly get up at the Box and justify a complete reversal of what we understood, and what the whole House must have understood, was a pledge that the Minister of State of that day was giving on behalf of the Government? I am sure that Mr. Hopkinson meant what he said at the time, but what he should have said was, "Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is just the sort of thing that the African Affairs Board exists to stop, and can stop, but which will then be reversed by Her Majesty's Government?
We were all led to believe, in the debates of 1952 and 1953, that the African Affairs Board was there as a constitutional organ to stand on behalf of the African people for their rights, and because it was expected to do, and has done, its job impartially, if it ruled that a Measure was discriminatory, Her Majesty's Government would not try to find legal sophistries to get round it. I say, Mr. Speaker, that the Government have a heavy onus on them in this matter, also. How will they defend this breaking 816 of what seems to be a clear pledge, if words are to have any significance?
How fast the clock goes! [HON. MEMBERS: "Carry on."] These are the major reasons for the African Affairs Board reaching the conclusions that it has done. I accept that the Government have the power to push through this Draft Order in Council. There is nothing illegal or unconstitutional in what they are doing. I say to them, however, as earnestly as I can, that this is folly in the present state of opinion in Africa. To achieve such a small victory at such a heavy cost is really not worth it for Her Majesty's Government or for the Federal Government out there.
I know that the Government have weakened their position by the agreement reached last April with Sir Roy Welensky and the Federal Government in regard to what has become known as a Convention. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the significance of that Convention. There was a joint announcement made on 27th April last about Article 29 (7) of the Federal Constitution. These are the words of the joint announcement:The Federal Prime Minister drew attention to doubts which had arisen in regard to the purpose and effect of Article 29 (7) of the Federal Constitution and to the subject of legislation in the United Kingdom for the Federation.This is where the fatal weakening started which has resulted in our being faced with the situation in which we are now in breach of our pledges today.
Article 29 (7) is certainly one of the most important parts of the Federal Constitution. It states, shortly:…nothing in this constitution shall affect any power to make laws for the Federation or any of the territories conferred on Her Majesty by any Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom.It will be seen that this article specifically reserved to this House and to the British Parliament the rights that it possessed in 1953 to make laws for the Federation or for any of the Territories. These powers are very wide, but it was clear from the outset that the British Parliament had no intention of using their powers of legislation in lesser issues concerning the Federation. But it follows from the fact that we never intended to use our powers in relation to lesser issues that we intended to reserve our powers on the greater issues of the Federation, such as, for example, the composition of the 817 Federation itself, because we are still responsible for two of the components of the Federation.
The joint announcement to which I have referred was signed by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and by the Federal Prime Minister, and I believe that the Secretary of State for the Colonies was one of the signatories. It stated:United Kingdom Ministers made it clear that the United Kingdom Government recognise the existence of a convention applicable to the present stage of the constitutional evolution of the Federation, whereby"—This is the significant part—the United Kingdom Government in practice do not initiate any legislation to amend or to repeal any Federal Act or to deal with any matter included within the competence of the Federal Legislature, except at the request of the Federal Government.I would like now to ask the Government what is the meaning of the words:…applicable to the present stage of the constitutional evolution of the Federation."?Does that phrase mean, as I think it must, applicable to the stage between 1957 and 1960? I take it that after 1960, when we have had a further review, presumably we shall then be at a new stage, and the Convention which is supposed to apply between 1957 and 1960 will no longer be applicable.
I must remind the House—and I particularly want my own hon. Friends to note this—of the reason why, in the view of the Federal Prime Minister, this Convention was brought into force. He was quite clear about it. When he returned to the Federation at the end of April, he was reported in The Times as having said:As a result of recent utterances by spokesmen of the British Labour Party, a fear has grown up here that, if returned to power the Labour Party would endeavour to inflict some of their half-baked ideas on us by legislative act. The Convention rules this, out.I must say that it is a very odd Convention. It reminds me of the signal made by an admiral during the war, somewhat to this effect, that as from 0900 hours on Monday next, the tradition is established of saluting the commander-in-chief's car on all occasions. I always thought that a tradition, like a convention, was based on past practice. Well, this Convention is not based on past practice. There has been no practice one way or 818 the other on this matter. The Federation is too young for such a practice to have grown up.
I say clearly that the Opposition obviously were no party to this Convention. We were not consulted about it. We were not made privy to the discussions which went on before it. The Government may have bound their own hands between now and 1960, but they have not bound ours. We do not recognise the existence of this Convention as applicable to us, and I hope that that is clearly understood. We rely upon and govern ourselves by the words laid down by Parliament in Article 29 (7).
No Convention can unwrite those words unless it is acceptable to all parties in Parliament. Let that be clearly understood. Because the Government Front Bench have bound themselves and, therefore, we are faced with this Draft Order in Council, there is no reason why Parliament should so feel itself bound. We have not, as a Parliament, agreed that we should feel bound, especially when the use of this Convention is forcing us into the position of breaching our own promises and will be regarded as such by millions of people in the Central African Federation.
We know why the Federal Government want to go head. They are in no doubt about it. The Federal Government wish to take over control of African policy in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. They do not like the Colonial Office. The Under-Secretary of State will not be surprised to hear this. They think that Colonial Office officials out there are standing in the way of the successful establishment of the Federation.
This view was put to me on my recent visit, and I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not believe that the Federal Party love them, either. I do not believe that they love them any more than they love us. Indeed, I was told on more than one occasion that they preferred us. They knew where we stood, but they were not quite sure about the bunch on the Front Bench.
I put it to the Government and to Conservative supporters: Are you prepared to take a step this afternoon that will take us one stage further along the road of handing over the control of the people in these two Northern Protectorates to the Federal Government 819 against the express wish of every articulate African in these Territories? That is what hon. Members will be voting about tonight. I believe that if every Conservative supporter were to hear this debate, Ministers would be compelled to withdraw this Draft Order in Council for further consideration with the Federal Government.
I wish that I could believe that right hon. Gentlemen opposite were open to persuasion this afternoon. I can only repeat my profound conviction: if they force this Measure through, no matter how they may justify it to themselves on legal technicalities, it will be regarded in Africa as further proof that the British Parliament has deserted the African people. We are their protectors. We are in a protector status with them. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. They have put themselves under our protection and have a right to demand that protection and say to us, "We are your charges until you have fulfilled the task you undertook, and which we always believed was the policy of both sides of the House, to bring us to a stage where we can govern ourselves". That is what the issue is about this afternoon.
We have been challenged to say what our policy is on this matter. Quite simply, we recognise the great value which the European has brought to these Territories. We recognise the economic advancement that has taken place. We also recognise that no minority group can for ever pretend to govern these Territories to the exclusion of the millions of inhabitants there. I believe, and still hope, that it will be possible for us to work out a solution under which the economic benefits of the Federation will be united with the political advancement of the African peoples. If the Government drive this proposal through with their majority opposite they must get ahead as quickly as possible with internal reforms for self-government in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to give the Africans more opportunity of government in those territories. I am bound to say that I reach the conclusion reached by the Rev. Andrew Doig in the final paragraph of his letter to The Times, in which he says:If the Bill is approved by the British Parliament, the African Affairs Board is seriously discredited in African eyes, confidence in the 820 desire or ability of the British Government to exercise its protection of Africans is further undermined and the prospects for the Conference in 1960 are dismal indeed.When hon. Members vote tonight, let them remember those words.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
Whatever the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) may say that the Manchester Guardian forecast, I was somewhat surprised to hear on the 8 o'clock news this morning the announcer say, during a reference to this debate, "It will end in a Division". I hope that the B.B.C. is wrong. I hope that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East and the Leader of the Opposition have not committed themselves to dividing the House without giving proper opportunity for the arguments for and against the Bill to be fully deployed. I believe very strongly that there is no doubt whatever about the justification for my noble Friend's decision to advise the Queen to give her consent to the Constitution Amendment Bill.
I fully realise, as the hon. Gentleman has said, that it is my duty to do my best to explain to the House the various aspects of the Bill. At the same time, I will endeavour to correct some of the fallacies which are current in the Press and elsewhere regarding this question; some have even crept into the speech of the hon. Gentleman. It is most important that as far as possible the House should not divide into two sides on this question, because it will create a misunderstanding of the situation in this country with regard to the relations between the British political system and the problems of race in Africa itself.
I would like to turn to some of the points which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned. In the first place, he quoted a distinguished correspondent in either Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland, who said that the impression there was that nothing would be done to make a fundamental change in the Constitution before ten years had passed.
§ Mr. Alport
Or before 1960, but I think I am right. The fact is that in Articles 97 and 98 of the Constitution specific provision is made for constitutional amendment and, in certain circumstances, for an amendment of the distribution of powers between the Federation on the one hand and the territories on the other. Therefore, it was quite obvious from the beginning that the Government would not put forward a constitution for the Federation containing the facilities for the amendment of the Constitution at any time after that Constitution had taken effect without the intention that the machinery for amending the Constitution should be used whenever it proved necessary. If we had said anything to the contrary or intended anything to the contrary, it would logically have been included in the Constitution. But that was not done. Therefore, it is quite clear that there is a misunderstanding.
I think that the British Council of Churches, in their statement on the subject, also admitted that there was a possible misunderstanding in Africa of the intentions of the Government. They said, rightly or wrongly, that the African believed that the Constitution would not be amended before 1960.
The fact is that that was believed wrongly by the Africans. I admit that it is extremely difficult for African opinion in Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia, for instance, to understand all the implications of a document which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen here find it difficult enough to understand, but the fact is that we cannot be guided in the decisions that we take by misconceptions and misunderstandings which may exist here or in Africa.
The hon. Gentleman quoted from Mr. Greenfield, who was referred to by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) during a previous debate, and the answer which was given by the then Minister of State, then Mr. Henry Hopkinson—now Lord Colyton—which referred to the withering away of African racial representation. I would make it clear that the African Affairs Board, in its letter to my noble Friend, does not object to the principle of the withering away of African racial representation in the Federal Assembly. That is not the ground upon which it asked my noble Friend to consider the legislation which had been 822 passed by the Federal Assembly with the assent of the Territorial Legislatures. Therefore, it is a misconception for the hon. Gentleman to introduce that issue, for it is not relevant to the present debate.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am not at the moment concerned with what the objections of the African Affairs Board are, although I think that its objections could have a different interpretation from that which the hon. Gentleman has put on them. This is not an issue between the Board and Government. It is an issue between the Government and the House. What we are referring to is the pledge which Mr. Henry Hopkinson gave on behalf of the House, not to any objection by the Board. What is the hon. Gentleman's explanation of the Government's decision to go back on that pledge?
§ Mr. Alport
Lord Colyton was at that time making a quick intervention in answer to a point which had been made. It was made clear throughout that debate that the function of the Board was one, and one alone, and that was, so to speak, to hold for consideration by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom legislation which it regarded as being differentiating. That was all that Lord Colyton meant on that occasion, that and no more.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I will quote the words used by Mr. Greenfield, because they are important:I cannot say that the common voters roll will persist and I cannot speculate as to what would happen if it were allowed to continue indefinitely…but it seems likely that if the common voters roll were retained and it became apparent that by means of the common voters roll Africans were being elected among those 26 people…then a move would be made to change the Constitution so as to reduce the number of representatives chosen to represent African interests.This is precisely what is done by this Constitution amendment, as has been pointed out by my hon. Friend, and it was in reply to that quotation that Lord Colyton intervened when I was speaking and said:Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that that is just the sort of thing that the African Affairs Board exists to stop and can stop? "[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th March, 1953; Vol. 513, c. 686.]That is the point. The African Affairs Board has objected, and now the Government are overruling it.
§ Mr. Alport
The right hon. Gentleman is wrong. That is not the point at issue. There is no question of a reduction of African representation or anything in connection with the common roll. If we were to accept the interpretation that the right hon. Gentleman puts upon what Lord Colyton said, we should be wrong. The right hon. Gentleman is certainly wrong in the context of this debate, which is concerned with the Bill and, as my hon. Friends and I fully accept, must take into consideration the proposals of the draft Franchise Bill which is before the House. The debate has nothing whatever to do with the point that Mr. Greenfield was making in his speech.
§ Mr. Alport
I have a lot to say. Otherwise, I would willingly give way. I know that a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to take part in the debate, and, therefore, I should like to proceed to answer some more of the points which were raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East.
The hon. Member quoted from a number of organisations and a number of newspapers about the issue before us. He said that, on the whole, all of them condemned the Government's proposals. I have, naturally, followed very closely the Press reactions to this problem, and I have noticed that where there has been condemnation it is based almost invariably upon a total misunderstanding of the facts.
Where the papers have understood the facts they have supported the Government's point of view and realised, as the Manchester Guardian did, that this is a step forward in bringing the Constitution of the Federation, and the representation in it, off a purely or mainly racial basis into something which is more closely allied with the normal party system which we should prefer to see in any democratic assembly anywhere in the world.
The hon. Gentleman referred to a point made by the African Affairs Board. It issued to the country and to all hon. Members a statement which purported to contain a quotation from a speech by the previous Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Chandos, to the effect that 824 the Government would not undertake constitutional amendments of the Federation without the agreement of a majority of all the inhabitants, including Africans.
§ Mr. Brockway
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Ought not the hon. Gentleman to be referring to the Africa Bureau rather than to the African Affairs Board?
§ Mr. Alport
I am obliged to the hon. Member. It is the Africa Bureau.
The statement was taken completely out of its context, as the Bureau now admits. It is an example of the way in which a responsible organisation can ask those who are interested in subjects such as this to form an opinion upon the basis of a complete fallacy, and do so, as far as I know, with the best intentions in the world. If the Bureau had read carefully the reference in the speech of Lord Chandos it would have seen that he was referring to the amalgamation of the Territories and not the amendment of the Constitution. In those circumstances, although rather belatedly, the Bureau has tried to put the error right.
In fact, it has not only misled opinion in this country, but has misled, and will continue to mislead, opinion in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It is precisely in that way that some of the misunderstandings which exist have arisen in the past. For instance, the hon. Gentleman said that the Federal Assembly has passed this piece of legislation by one vote over the two-thirds majority. Put that way, it seems as though it was a very narrow issue. What were the facts? The fact is that it was passed by a majority of 25 to 8.
Surely that is an adequate majority for any Government in an Assembly of that size to put through legislation. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are pouring scorn on the numbers of the Assembly, but the issue before us today is precisely to put that right, to increase the numbers in the Assembly so that there will not be what appears to hon. Members below the Gangway opposite to be a rather ludicrous situation.
The reason for this legislation is very simple. At present, there are 35 members of the Assembly dealing with the problems of a very large country and carrying very grave responsibilities indeed. It is clear that an augmentation of the numbers is urgently necessary. That has been 825 clear for some time. A situation could easily arise after the next Federal General Election in which, if there were a reasonably sized Opposition, the Federal Government would have a majority not only over the Opposition but over their own back benchers. That is a situation which my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary might frequently think was very happy, but for manpower and resources to be as limited as that cannot be conducive to carrying on efficiently all the multifarious work of a democratic institution such as exists in the Federation. That is the primary object of putting forward the Bill at this time.
As the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East said, it is not a very big change, and I therefore find it difficult to understand the logic of his argument that it is a major alteration in the Constitution of the Federation.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I said that the change does not bring any substantial results, but does create a great deal of trouble.
§ Mr. Alport
I have written down that the hon. Member did say that it was a fundamental change in the Constitution. It is not. It is something to enable the affairs of the Federation to be carried out more efficiently and effectively than has previously been the case.
My third general point is that it is not and never has been accepted that the African Affairs Board has the right, by requesting reservation of a Bill on the ground of differentiation, automatically to obtain the support of the Secretary of State in declaring the Bill void. A not dissimilar position has existed for many years with the reservation of legislation passed by the Southern Rhodesian Parliament. At no time when the Labour Party was in power was there an occasion when legislation, which may have been regarded as differentiating on the basis of the criteria used by the African Affairs Board respecting Federal legislation, was disallowed by a Socialist Secretary of State.
In all sincerity I am certain that had the decision which my noble Friend has been asked to make about the Constitution Amendment Bill presented itself to a 826 Socialist Secretary of State, he would have done precisely the same. I say that because, whatever the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East may have said about what may happen in the very improbable circumstance of his party's return to power, it is most important for the political tranquillity and progress of Central Africa that hon. Members opposite, when in opposition, should not advocate things which they would neither wish nor, sometimes, have the power to do if they were in office.
The fact is that it is the duty of the African Affairs Board to report a Bill as differentiating if it appears to it that the criteria in Article 71 (2) of the Constitution apply. The Board does that, without regard to the merits of the Bill, in the wider context of the political and social conditions of the day. For instance, if a Bill were introduced dealing on a differential basis with the issue or sale of alcohol to Europeans and Africans, whatever might be the merits of that Bill, the African Affairs Board would have to think very carefully and seriously about whether it was not its duty to declare the Bill to be differentiating.
The African Affairs Board makes this point quite clearly in its Report submitted to the Federal Assembly on 30th July, 1957. The Report said:The Board has various duties to perform. The most important of these is to examine Bills with one purpose and one purpose only in view—to decide on a question of fact; does a Bill differentiate against Africans in the manner defined in the extracts from the Constitution quoted above. If it does the Board must ask for reservation of the Bill. At meetings of the Board the likes and dislikes, the hopes and fears of individual members are irrelevant. The Board offers no comment either of praise or blame on legislation.Sir John Moffat, the Chairman, said on 6th August:It is perfectly possible for a member of the African Affairs Board to vote for a motion in the House because he considers it a good one and to vote for its reservation in the Board because he considers it differentiating.It is quite incorrect, therefore, to suppose that my noble Friend is under an obligation, merely because the African Affairs Board has asked for the reservation of this legislation, automatically to support this point of view. Nor is it logical, right or responsible for hon. Members opposite to suggest that he should do so merely to give Africans in 827 Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland confidence in the operation of the African Affairs Board, without any regard to the merits of the legislation concerned.
I want now to consider the merits of the Constitution Amendment Bill with which we are primarily concerned. Like the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, I also will refer to what is almost consequential legislation concerned with the franchise. The Constitution Amendment Bill increases the number of members in the Federal Assembly from 35—of whom nine, that is, six Africans and three Europeans, represent African interests—to 59, of whom 15, that is, 12 Africans and three Europeans, will specifically represent African interests.
That represents an increase of equal proportions for Europeans and for representatives of Africans and I find it difficult to accept the argument advanced by the African Affairs Board that the increase of the difference between Europeans and representatives of Africans from 17 to 29—which occurs through increasing the numbers from 35 to 59—is necessarily differentiating. It could be so only if it were assumed that the Federal Parliament would be permanently divided into two racial blocs. That was never envisaged in the past and is not true today. Federal politics are and, we hope, will continue to develop on a normal party basis. This can be shown in the formation of the new multi-racial party in the Federation and by the adherence of such men as Mr. Lewanika, a trade union leader in Northern Rhodesia, to Sir Roy Welensky's Federal Party.
The second of the arguments which the Board advanced is more significant. This argument relates not to the merits of the Constitution Amendments Bill, but to the method whereby the additional African members will be elected under the franchise proposals, which have still to be considered by the Federal Assembly. The African Affairs Board has stated on a number of occasions, in the Chairman's letter, that the new African members will be elected by rolls which are, and I quote, "overwhelmingly European." What we have to see is how far the rolls with which we are concerned will be "overwhelmingly European."
I think that the House is already aware of the general details of the qualifications which it is proposed should be required 828 under the new draft Franchise Bill. They are set out in paragraph 19 of the Memorandum of the Federal Government's case, which forms part of Cmd. Paper 298. According to these proposals, voters in the Federation will be divided into two categories—general, on the one hand, and special, on the other. Regardless of race, anyone who has the requisite property and educational qualifications is entitled to vote for candidates in the general constituencies and have his name registered on the general roll. These candidates may be either European or African. It is recognised—and I fully admit this—that for a considerable time to come the majority of these will be Europeans.
The second category—the special voters to which I wish to refer—will be entitled to vote for nine members, the four African members representative of African opinion in Southern Rhodesia, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, one European elected to represent African interests in Southern Rhodesia and two additional African representatives in Nyasaland and the two additional African representatives in Northern Rhodesia.
The qualifications required for this special roll are £150 a year income or the ownership of property to the value of £500, and simple literacy. That is, broadly, the ability to fill in a fairly simple paper and sign the name. The income in that case is based not merely on money wages paid, but in accordance with the custom of Africa as a whole, and certainly the custom of Central Africa, includes payment made in kind in the form of accommodation or of food. This will qualify a substantial number of Africans for the special voters' list.
Let me return to the phrase used by the African Affairs Board, "Overwhelmingly European". I admit, as the hon. Gentleman says, that it is not easy to calculate how many people will be entitled to vote for special roll candidates. Fairly accurate estimates are available for the general roll candidates, but I admit that only broad deductions are possible for the numbers who are likely to register either on the general roll or the special roll. Even so, I think that we can get a reasonably accurate picture. Her Majesty's Government have certainly done everything, in conjunction with the 829 Federal Government and the two Northern Governments, to produce the best estimates possible.
To take Southern Rhodesia first, the number of European and Africans eligible for the general roll is 88,000. These are Africans and Europeans, of whom about 3,000 to 4,000 will be Africans. The number eligible for the special roll is estimated at 30,000, of whom the vast majority will be Africans. En August of this year, the general roll, that is, the existing common roll in Southern Rhodesia, had about 54,000 electors, of whom only 1,000 were Africans.
Remembering that all four Southern Rhodesian Africans and the specially elected European will be elected on the new franchise, I think that it would be reasonable to say that the new representation of African interests will be more representative by far than at present as they will be elected by an electorate which contains not, as at present, 1,000 Africans but up to 30,000—possibly in the neighbourhood of 20,000.
I confess that that is merely an estimate, but it seems a reasonable estimate in the circumstances. The fact is that in Southern Rhodesia the ratio will be approximately two or three to one in favour of the Europeans on the special roll. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Taken together, it will be two to three in favour of the Europeans as far as the specially elected Africans are concerned.
Let us take the position in Nyasaland. The number of Europeans who might qualify for the vote is, on a generous estimate, about 3,500. It is estimated that the number of Africans eligible for the special roll is in the neighbourhood of 7,000. In fact, in 1957 there were under 2,000 Europeans on the territorial roll, that is, the existing roll. I think, therefore, that it would be reasonable to conclude in the case of Nyasaland that the ratio, that is, for the specially elected African members, will be between three to one and two to one in favour of the Africans. It will not, even in the most exaggerated terms, be overwhelmingly European.
Finally, there is Northern Rhodesia. Here again, the calculation is not easy. It is not easy to discover the number of Europeans who will be eligible, because 830 a number will be rendered ineligible because of their South African nationality, and it will not be easy to estimate the number of Africans who will be eligible both on a property and educational basis. I will do my best to give the figures which we regard as being as reasonably accurate as possible in the circumstances. The number of Europeans, including Afrikaners, which it is estimated at present would be eligible for the general roll is 37,000, but in 1957 there were only 16,000 Europeans registered on the roll in Northern Rhodesia.
From the income point of view, the number of Africans eligible may be as many as 48,000, but the literacy test will reduce this number, possibly to about 21,000. Even so, I think it not unreasonable, from the figures I have given, to conclude that so far as the specially elected African members are concerned there will be a balance between the Europeans and the Africans broadly on a 50–50 basis.
To sum up, the position is this. In Southern Rhodesia there is a very considerable improvement in the representational quality, so to speak, of the four African members and the European member elected for African interests; in Nyasaland, there is what could be called an overwhelmingly African basis for the election of the African members; and in Northern Rhodesia the position is about even, on a basis of fifty-fifty. Therefore, not by the widest stretch of the imagination can this be called election of these African members on an overwhelming European roll.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
On the estimated figures which the hon. Gentleman has given, it is quite clear that some African members who are now elected by a preponderantly, indeed exclusively, African electorate, under the new Constitution will be elected for some time from an electorate predominantly European. Is not that one of the salient points of the Board's objections?
§ Mr. Alport
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. He will realise that the only ones who could have a vote in the way he suggests are the two original special African representatives in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, but the form of their election is not altered by the proposal. The case is different with the additional ones, but not with the original ones. 831 The African representation is as under the existing circumstances, before amendment. It has not altered, except in Southern Rhodesia, where the Africans become substantially more representative than is the case at present.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The hon. Member has apparently shown to his own satisfaction that, at any rate in Norhern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, there is not an overwhelming preponderance of European voters in the election of Africans. We do not have to prove that there is; it is not our case. But if the hon. Member is to show that this is not differentiating legislation he must show why the Africans on lower roll are not able to vote with Europeans in the election of the 44.
§ Mr. Alport
The hon. Member is completely mistaken. I do not have to show that it is not differentiating. I spent some time in proving to the hon. Member that legislation which appears to the African Affairs Board to be differentiating must be referred to my noble Friend the Secretary of State, but that does not mean that he must declare unconstitutional any legislation that is called differentiating.
The fact is that what I am endeavouring to prove to the House is that the basis upon which the African Affairs Board regarded the proposal as differentiating against the African is incorrect. In the circumstances of the franchise Bill and of the future possible registration of Europeans and Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, instead of bringing the African disabilities, the Bill gives him opportunities, for the first time, of exercising a vote. Under the Federal legislation Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia will, for the first time, have a direct vote for the election of their members to the Assembly.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
The hon. Gentleman has given figures in connection with Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, but he gave no breakdown of the voters on the general roll. Can he tell the House whether, on his estimates, he anticipates that there will be any African voters on the general roll in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia and, if so, how many?
§ Mr. Alport
I can give the hon. Member the figures, but I would prefer to do 832 so after I have spoken. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I should have to look through the large amount of paper that I have here. I will willingly do so, if necessary. As far as I remember, there are between 200 and 300 on the general roll in Nyasaland. I cannot give the hon. Member the figure for Northern Rhodesia without further notice, but I will do my best to see that he gets it before the end of the debate.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Can the hon. Member tell us where he gets these figures? As he may know, the Northern Rhodesian Government carried out a survey in June of this year, and their figures do not coincide with his. He has given a most liberal estimate. Later, I propose to give figures which are nearer the facts than, perhaps, his are.
§ Mr. Alport
Whatever may be the case, the figures that I have given were produced in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Statistics and with the Governors and Governments of both Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. They are the best that we can get in the particular circumstances.
I have kept the House unduly long over a complicated matter, and I now want to make one or two very quick final points. First, under the agreement to which the hon. Member referred—made by my noble Friend, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the Prime Minister of the Federation earlier this year—the Federal Government accepted the right of British protected persons to vote in the Federal election. This is a most important modification of a principle well known in English law.
A British protected person from Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland would not be allowed to vote here, although an African coming here from Southern Rhodesia, as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, would. Therefore, it is not merely an empty concession on the part of the Federal Government; it is a very considerable and important one, in the interests of the Africans of the two Northern territories.
Secondly, I reiterate that to bring direct election by means of a vote to Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, even although there is a limited franchise, is surely a substantial advance in the democratic processes there.
833 Finally, I should like to quote from the Manchester Guardian. I took down the precise words of the hon. Gentleman, who said that he regarded the statement that this was a movement towards a common roll as being hypocrisy at its worst. On 20th November last the Manchester Guardian said:The great merit of the constitutional change is that by establishing common roles it takes a step away from communal electorates and communal politics.In the view of the Manchester Guardian—contrary to the view of the hon. Member—this is an advance towards a common roll.
§ Mr. Alport
I am not going into the question whether the Manchester Guardian understood it—or even whether the hon. Member understood it; perhaps he did not.
I admit that it is a complicated subject, but I think that the Manchester Guardian understands the position. In fact, this is a step away from the racial blocs and divisions of Federal politics, and towards the basing of a Federal political pattern upon a party system irrespective of race. In those circumstances, I say that it deserves the support not only of my hon. Friends but of those hon. Members opposite who, like the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) have always been protagonists for that point of view.
One other point. I regard it as a great advantage that the core of Africans who have experience, as Members of Parliament, of the running of a democracy and of the constitutional processes of Parliament should be increased, so that as many as possible can have practical direct personal experience not only of what is meant by the general idea of democracy, but of the practice of making Parliament and democracy work. I am sure that that is one of the strongest arguments in favour of the Federal Government's plan. It gives scope not merely, as at present, to six Africans but certainly to 12 of the leaders of African opinion, who will not be "stooges" but men of proven ability in all the Territories and who will be able to experience for themselves the practical problems of Parliament in Africa.
834 I again apologise to the House for keeping it so long and for having made such a complicated speech, but this is a complicated subject. I would merely say, with all the conviction that I can, that I hope that this debate will not result in a Division. I hope that hon. Members opposite will consider what we have said and will treat this matter not on a partisan basis, or in the light of preconceived ideas, but on its merits. I hope that they will keep in mind the interests of the Africans, because nothing could do more harm to Africa than that they, by their action in dividing the House tonight, should add to the tension and misunderstanding which is all too often the result of mistaken guidance from people in the United Kingdom as well as from elsewhere.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
The Under-Secretary of State said that he hoped we would vote, or not vote, on the Bill according to its merits. We shall, and we shall make quite clear to the African people what we think about the merits or demerits of the Bill by dividing the House tonight.
The Under-Secretary of State also said that Africans were wrong to believe that there was to be no change in the Constitution. If Africans were wrong in believing this it was for one of two reasons, either because the Government were confused and did not themselves make the matter plain, or because they tried deliberately to deceive both the Africans and the British Parliament when they originally brought forward the Bill for federation.
The Under-Secretary of State further said that Africans did not object to the withering away of racial representation. Nor do we, but the question is, what is to come in its place? This is not just a withering away of racial discrimination, but a deliberate attempt to hand over the election of Africans to Europeans. I will proceed to prove that point later in my remarks.
Another point made by the Minister was that the Bill was passed by an adequate majority. I leave aside the fact that the total majority was only one over the two-thirds necessary. But how was the two-thirds obtained? It was obtained by an overwhelmingly large number of Europeans being in that 835 Legislative Council. Had there been adequate representation of Africans in the Legislative Council the Bill would most certainly not have been passed by a two-thirds majority. In fact, it would not have been passed at all.
The Minister said that the object of the Bill is to increase the size of the Legislative Council. If that is its object, why not leave the method of election as it is at present? Why introduce something totally different? I do not think that we on this side of the House would quarrel a great deal about an increase in the numbers provided they were proportionate. I know one can argue whether it is better for a Government to have a small majority in a small House or a larger majority in a larger House, but I do not think that that is the main point. The main point is that the Government are completely changing the method of election.
How are the African representatives chosen at the present time? Let me quote from the African Affairs Board itself and not from the Africa Bureau, because I can assure the Minister that I know the difference between the two.
§ Mr. Dugdale
They are selected today by a body which,collectively, could be designated as representative of the five million Africans of the Protectorates who have no other vote.I do not think that anyone would disagree with that as a perfectly fair description of the method by which Africans are chosen.
In future they will be selected in quite a different way. The proposal is that additional Africans shall be chosen by electors on two rolls. The Minister gave us a long list of figures which it was, perhaps, not as easy to follow as it might have been, but that is no blame to the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps it was due to our own stupidity. It seemed to me that there was still a considerable majority of white people on the combined roll.
§ Mr. Dugdale
My right hon. Friend says "Two to one." I am not certain whether it was not even three to one.
It means that the Africans are not to be chosen by people representative of the 836 Africans as they are today according to the African Affairs Board, but by people the majority of whom are Europeans.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The only Africans chosen today by exclusively African bodies are those from the two Northern Territories. It is from those territories that the European predominance in the new combined roll will not apply.
§ Mr. Dugdale
We are considering the choice of the additional African members. They are being chosen to balance the additional white members, and, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the additional African members should adequately represent the Africans in the same way as, we hope, the additional white members will adequately represent the white people [HON. MEMBERS: "Why."] Because they are chosen by an overwhelmingly white vote.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I join with my hon. Friend the Member far Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who, in a brilliant speech, said that it was nothing short of hypocrisy to say that this was a step towards racial partnership. I can think of many steps that might have been taken in the economic and social fields towards racial partnership—the abolition of colour bars and of pass laws are only two examples. I could think of all kinds of steps that could be taken if we really wanted to show a genuine advance towards racial partnership. This, however, is a movement to get a group of Africans elected on a predominantly European vote, and whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not, many Africans will consider them to be stooges.
How is it that the Bill was passed at all? We are told that it was passed by one vote over the necessary two-thirds majority.
§ Mr. Alport indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Dugdale
It was passed by one or possibly two votes over the requisite majority.
Who made that majority possible? It was made possible by the two African representatives from Southern Rhodesia who were chosen in just the way that these new members are to be chosen today, if 837 the Government are to have their way. That is what happens when Africans are chosen by a predominantly European electorate.
What is the criterion today for getting a vote in Central Africa? We are told that so many Africans will get a vote and that so many will not. The criterion is, so we are told,valid standards of civilisation and responsibility.That sounds a magnificent criterion. I am sure we shall all agree that electors should have valid standards of civilisation and responsibility. They are to have education, property and income. Those, according to the Government, are to be the three standards of civilisation. They are to have a literacy test and are to be able to earn a sum of approximately £3 a week or else have £500 worth of property. Very few Africans will have £500 worth of property, and how many of them will earn £3 a week?
Do not let us think of wages in this country, but of wages paid in Africa. I should think it would not be wrong to say that the average African wage is certainly less than £3 a week. That means that the average African worker would be excluded by this provision. Some of them might get on the electoral roll if they have a secondary education. Such people are to get a slightly lower earnings test—£2 10s. instead of £3 a week. But the total number of Africans with a secondary education is 4,700 out of 7 million.
What strange standards of civilisation and responsibility these are, based on the ownership of property or on a minimum income. Does the Minister consider that Gandhi was a less civilised person than Henry Ford? On the Minister's basis, he quite plainly would have been. Personally, I think that Gandhi was much more civilised. What about Keir Hardie? Was he less civilised than the Duke of Westminster? Under this system Keir Hardie would not have had a vote. One cannot possibly compare standards of civilisation on the basis of income or property qualifications. That is what the standards are based on in the roll we are considering.
During the course of European civilisation there have been many poor writers, scientists, artists and musicians who have contributed much to it. Yet such men 838 as Rembrandt, who was in the bankruptcy court, and Mozart, who was given a pauper's burial, would be regarded as uncivilised and not worthy of having a vote on these standards if they really meant anything. But, in fact, they are simply a device to keep Africans from getting the vote because the Government of Central Africa never intend that they shall get it if that Government can possibly avoid it.
I should like to compare these proposals with proposals for the reform of the constitution of Kenya. It is not always that I find myself praising the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but his proposals for Kenya—whatever might be said about them and, naturally Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would not go into them in detail—do at least provide for an advance of some kind for Africans, whereas these proposals provide, not for an advance but a retreat. The noble Lord who is responsible for them might well consult the Secretary of State for the Colonies and ask him whether he does not think they are far inferior to the proposals produced for Kenya by the Secretary of State.
We are not surprised that these proposals have been brought forward by the Government of Rhodesia because, alas, this is just the kind of thing we thought would happen if the Federation was set up. Her Majesty's Government trusted the white minority in the Federation. They thought that minority really did desire a genuine partnership, but, in fact, it desired nothing of the kind. It desired power. It already has very considerable power, but, as the proverb says: "L'appetit vient en mangeant." The more one has, the more one wants. This is one way in which the minority can increase its power.
I think these proposals are dangerous in the extreme because they will sap the confidence of Africans in the good name of the British people. That is the most serious thing they will do. Africans believed in the British Parliament. They believed it when it said that the African Affairs Board was set up to see that there should be no discrimination. Whatever the Minister may say, that is what Africans believed and what we believed. The African Affairs Board has waited for a long time. It has not been an irresponsible body continually bringing things 839 to this House, but at the end of four years it has brought this one case. Africans are looking to see what this Parliament is going to do about it. I think I cannot do better than to end with the words, which I am sure hon. Members have read, in the Observer, which put the position quite clearly. That article said:The obligation to uphold African rights in the Federation resides neither with the Federal Party nor with the Dominion Party, which are both organs of the European settlers who have never undertaken this obligation. It resides with the British Parliament themselves.I hope they will carry out that obligation today.
§ 5.4 p.m.
Mr. Bernard Braille (Essex, South-East)
There were so many fallacies and so many imputations against our fellow countrymen in Africa in the speech of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) that I do not think the House will expect me to follow him.
When I was listening to the two excellent speeches made from the Front Benches, deploying the broad argument on which the debate was to follow, my mind travelled back to a day, three years ago, when, with a number of colleagues from this House, including the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), I was a member of an all-party delegation to the Federal Assembly in Salisbury. The occasion was the presenting of a mace to a new legislature. Here was a new Parliament in the heart of Africa, but one based upon the model of our ancient House.
As I stood there, facing Mr. Speaker Wilson, I observed that the parties sat opposite one another, the procedures were the same and the spirit which infused the whole was that of our House, but there was one important difference—there were six African Members of Parliament present. A generation ago no one in Rhodesia would have thought that a possibility. Certainly, south of the Limpopo it is not a possibility today. That ceremony made a very deep impression on my mind. It was a vivid reminder to me that the new Federation was founded on the concept of partnership between the races, however wide the gulf between them might be.
840 It was suggested this afternoon by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), and I think it has been implied in articles in the Press which have been referred to, that the Federal Constitution Amendment Bill is somehow a retreat from the position as we understood it when the Federation came into being, that it is a violation of the spirit of undertakings given in this House. If I understood the speech of the hon. Member aright, that is what he believes. The great question before us is whether this Bill does differentiate unfairly against Africans. The African Affairs Board has told us that it does. The Federal Government tells us that it does not.
It is perfectly true, of course, that the Constitution does not lay down that a differentiating Measure shall not become law. What it does provide is that if a Measure is considered by the African Affairs Board to be differentiating in its application to Africans it shall be referred to Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The African Affairs Board has not suggested—nor is it within its powers to suggest—that this Bill should not become law. Sir John Moffat, Chairman of the Board, made it absolutely clear, when speaking to the Federal Assembly last August—my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary quoted his speech—that a member of the African Affairs Board can vote in the Assembly in favour of a Motion because he believes it to be good on the whole, while, as a member of the African Affairs Board, he can vote for it to be regarded as a differentiating Measure.
Therefore, let us be quite clear at the outset as to what the Constitution empowers the African Affairs Board to do. It empowers the Board to do two things: first, to inform the Federal Assembly whether a Bill, in its opinion, is a differentiating Measure, and then, if the Federal Assembly goes on to enact legislation despite the advice given by the African Affairs Board, the Board has the right, if, in its opinion, it considers that the legislation still differentiates against African interests, to refer the matter to the Secretary of State. What is in issue here is whether the opinion of the African Affairs Board in this matter was correct and whether its views should have led the Secretary of State to some other conclusion.
841 I am not in any way criticising the action of the African Affairs Board. I believe that it acted sincerely and correctly, with the advantage that its action has enabled us to discuss the matter in this House. Moreover, in the sense that the Federal Government lowered the qualification for the African franchise since the African Affairs Board first said that the Bill was a differentiating Measure, the Board has had some success in securing more liberal proposals. It may well be that the Federal Government should go further—after all, they will have the opportunity when the Bill comes before them again—and be still more liberal with the franchise. For, just as we understand—I hope we all understand—the difficulties which the Federal Government experience in these matters, so I hope they understand that we in this House do not lightly regard our responsibilities for safeguarding African interests.
Naturally, I have been anxious about the whole matter, and I want to be satisfied about two things. First, I want to be satisfied that the grounds upon which the Secretary of State advised that the Royal Assent should not be withheld are reasonable. Secondly, I want to be assured that, on balance, the Bill represents not a retreat but an advance for the Africans in the Federation.
It seems to me that the case against the Secretary of State's decision, advanced by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, rests on two criticisms. The first is that the mere fact that the Bill increases the size of the Federal Assembly by two-thirds reduces the effective influence of the African members even though their numbers are increased, and so unfairly discriminates against them.
At present, there is a House of 35. There are nine members representative of African interests. That gives a numerical difference between the two groups of seventeen. In future, in the enlarged Assembly of 59 there will be 15 members representing African interests, a numerical difference between the two groups of 29.
What interests me is that the African Affairs Board has not argued that the differential of 17 should be preserved. On the contrary, it considers—this is very odd indeed—that the true answer should lie somewhere between the present 842 numerical difference of 17 and a straight proportional increase such as the Bill envisages. The Board does not say where equity resides. That underlines the difficulty in the matter, because if 29 is the wrong figure, so is 18, or 19, or 20. Surely, in logic, anything that alters the differential of 17 must be wrong.
Though I do not wish to criticise the Board in this respect—it had a difficult task—it is a pity, in a way, that the Board did not indicate what it would consider to be a fair figure. To my mind, this brings us to the crux of the matter—
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
Is the Board empowered to make a recommendation of that nature?
§ Mr. Braine
I am subject to correction, but I believe that the Board is extremely limited in what it can do. Nevertheless, I submit that, if 17 is the right figure, and if that is a differential which should be maintained, then for the Board to have suggested that the answer lies between 17 and a straight proportional increase, without stating where it lies, is, to say the least, most confusing.
I want now to get to the crux of the matter, because a great many opinions will be expressed in the debate as to the future of the Federation itself. There are those—I hope that there are not many in the House—who dislike the idea of Federation altogether. There are those who have opposed it from the very beginning, and who describe—we heard the remark made this afternoon by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich—some of the existing African members as "stooges" because they are elected on a common roll.
If we agree with them that the interest of the races in Central Africa are in conflict now and are likely to remain in conflict for all time, then, in all justice and equity, nothing short of a straight increase in African representation in the Assembly would meet the case, because we here have a responsibility for African interests whereas we have not got a direct responsibility for European interests.
But I do not agree with them, and I will tell the House why. I regard the experiment in partnership in the Federation—I hope most hon. Members similarly regard it—as one of the most exciting experiments in human relations in the world. If it succeeds, its influence 843 beyond the boundaries of Central Africa will be incalculable. If it fails, then I despair for the future of that vast continent.
The Federal Government, by this Bill, have set their face against an enlargement of racial representation, which they consider—frankly, I agree with them—can only accentuate and crystallise racial differences. I believe that the Federal Government are right. The Federal Government also are anxious to provide a framework now—not at some time in the future—which will enable more and more Africans to take an effective part in the direction of their own government as citizens of a multi-racial country and not as members of one race.
That is really the answer to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, who thought that this was hardly the time to introduce a Bill which merely enlarges the Assembly. His attitude was that the Bill has no other purpose. The point he misses is that time is not on the side of those who are seeking partnership. If we move forward without making provision now for Africans to think in terms of not only themselves but Europeans, and for Europeans to think in terms of not only themselves but Africans, then the differences between them will crystallise and harden and it will become impossible to build a genuine multi-racial society. I think that the time is ripe to act now. Indeed, it is arguable that it may have been left far too late, not only in Rhodesia but elsewhere in Africa.
There is a further point. The Board asserted that in Parliament it is the size of the majority that counts. I differ strongly from it on that point. In Parliament, it is the will to make the system work that matters. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) laughs. Does he dissent from that?
§ Mr. J. Johnson
Surely the hon. Member will admit that the size of the majority is a big help to a Government which wants to pass legislation.
§ Mr. Braine
I do not follow the hon. Gentleman's reasoning. Of course, all Governments have majorities; otherwise, they would not be Governments. So too, all Oppositions hope one day to secure a majority so that they may form Govern- 844 ments. In this country, however, we could not maintain parliamentary democracy for a day or a week if the Opposition decided to be fractious and to frustrate the passage of the Queen's business or if the Government rode roughshod over the rights of the Opposition. The secret of our parliamentary democracy is the readiness of individual Members, in their groups and parties, to make the system work, and that is what is important in Africa, too.
As my hon. Friend said in his notable speech, the narrow racial view of this matter completely ignores the fact that the Europeans in the Federation are already organised in parties. The same may well happen to the Africans. Frankly, I hope it will, because differences on a party basis are far more healthy and constructive than differences on a racial basis.
That brings me to the second main criticism, which was underlined, partly, I think by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, and, secondly, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich, namely, that the additional African representatives will not be truly representative of African interests. I have seen it argued that under the Bill's proposals the only Africans who will represent African interests in the truest sense will be the two from Northern Rhodesia, the two from Nyasaland, and the two Europeans who are specially appointed from the two Northern Protectorates, because they are elected by African bodies; as for the rest, because they are elected on a common roll—which, in Southern Rhodesia, at any rate, will have a majority of Europeans—they will be "stooges." In any case, it is argued, the influence of the six truly representative members will be far less in a House of 59 than in a House of 35.
I have never heard it suggested that the two Africans elected on the common roll in Southern Rhodesia have been indifferent to African interests. I have had the great privilege of meeting them and of talking with them. They are both men of exceptional character and ability, and the fact that they think with their heads rather than with their blood has made them, I suggest, all the more effective champions of the true interests of the Africans in their own territory.
I would like to throw out a challenge to those who say that this increased 845 African representation will not be truly representative of African interests. What do they really mean? Do they mean that a European member of the Assembly, or an African member of the Assembly should answer only to his own people; that he should reflect, in everything that he says and does, the fears, the hopes, and the prejudices, only of his own race? Or does true representation mean something else? Does it mean that each member shall be obliged, if he cannot be persuaded, by virtue of the nature of the electorate he represents, to consult the interests of both races?
It has not yet been said in this debate, but the interests of both races in Central Africa are now inextricably interwoven. It is impossible for them to be separated without grave damage being done to one race or to the other. That is why today, in this House, thousands of miles from Rhodesia, we ought to weigh our words very carefully indeed, and do and say nothing to make more difficult the task of those who are trying to work out partnership on the spot.
It is worth emphasising that the Bill does not provide that the 44 members other than the African elected members shall be European. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East gave the House the impression, I am sure unwittingly, that there were to be 15 members representing African interests on one side, and 44 members on the other side who were to be Europeans. One great change envisaged in the Bill is that those 44 are to be of unspecified race.
I quite agree that, in the early stages, it may be extremely difficult for an African to be elected among them, but my point is that the whole purpose behind the Bill is to create the framework that will make it possible, at a later stage, for a great imaginative leap forward away from racial representation. Indeed, as Africans get greater educational qualifications, as their wages rise, and prosperity spreads, so more and more will be able to qualify as voters; some will be able to stand for Parliament, not as Africans but as persons in their own right, irrespective of the colour of their skin—
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if an African were elected as one of the 44 it might, under these proposals, 846 result in a reduction in the number of Africans included in the eight?
§ Mr. Braine
I take the point, but think that it is all a matter of timing. If it ever happened, and I think that it will one day, that an African were elected among the 44, I do not believe that it would be one African only but a number. I believe that the Federation as a whole obviously will then be ready, public opinion will then be ready for a great leap forward and then, quite frankly, I should like to see communal representation disappear. Until that time emerges, I think that the best arrangement that can be made is that envisaged in this Bill.
I thought it extremely odd that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East was little concerned with the franchise proposals, which must be considered in connection with the Bill. It is the fact that a vast number of Africans who hitherto have not been able to vote will, from now on, be able to do so and have an increasing say in the government of the country. The criticism that might be directed, therefore, is that this is a step in the right direction but that it is not big enough, but that was not the hon. Gentleman's argument at all. If I understood his remarks aright, he wants a complete standstill which, in the light of everything I have said, would mean that federation would totter slowly to its fall.
The facts and figures were given by my hon. Friend, and some of them bear repetition. If we summarise exactly what the Bill and the franchise proposals taken together seek to do, we have this position. The African representation in the Assembly will be doubled. The proportion of African voters in the Federation will rise from a hundredth part of the electorate to one-third of the electorate. The qualifications for voting are such that as prosperity spreads and as educational standards are advanced, more and more Africans will automatically qualify for the vote. As it is, in the Northern Territories, British-protected persons will, for the first time, qualify for a vote. Hitherto, the qualification for a vote was British-subject status.
Lastly, we have a situation where, in Nyasaland, African voters on the special roll will be in the majority. Before very long they may be in a majority in Northern Rhodesia, and whereas, in Southern Rhodesia, about 1,000 Africans 847 have had the right to participate in the election of African members it would appear that about 30,000 will now have that right. This may be not moving fast enough, but I suggest that it is at least a move in the right direction. It is for that reason that I regard, as I hope the majority of the House regards, my right hon. Friend's decision not to advise the withholding of the Royal Assent from the Bill as correct.
May I just leave this final thought with hon. Members? The experiment that is taking place in Central Africa, with all its difficulties and drawbacks and all the things that can be said in criticism of it, is not merely the best, but the only hope of building a society in which, if I may use the words of Cecil Rhodes, there shall beEqual rights for all civilised men.It is right and proper for all hon. Members to remain vigilant in regard to African interests. I hope that as long as we have responsibilities in Central Africa we shall remain vigilant, but I also make this plea. We must understand the difficulties, the feelings and the susceptibilities of the men of our own flesh and blood who are grappling with these problems thousands of miles away.
I end as I began, by referring to the ceremony which I was privileged to witness in the Federal Assembly at Salisbury on 10th September, 1954. In a very moving speech the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Walter Elliot), handing over the mace to Mr. Speaker Wilson, said:Sir, the mace is a symbol of authority. Its presentation today symbolises the transfer of authority.We were transferring authority to those on the spot. He then went on to say:So we hand over the mace. Government is not a task which can be achieved for long at arms length from another Continent.I believe that those words become more valid with every day, week and month that pass. I beg the House, therefore, not to divide on this issue tonight, because I feel that that action would be completely misunderstood in Africa. Surely, on this issue, at any rate, we are convinced that there is only one way ahead, and that is the way of partnership, and I cannot see how this Bill can do anything but advance the Federation along that road.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I also was present at the ceremony in Salisbury some years ago to which the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) referred, and I share with him the hope that the experiment in partnership in Central Africa will be successful. It is because I have doubts as to whether the Measure before us is conducive to that success that I want to raise some matters this afternoon.
My first grave doubt about this is its timing. It is because, whether mistakenly or not, the majority of Africans in the Federation believe that the Constitution would not be substantially altered before 1960 that I think this haste in carrying out these proposals is bound to have a detrimental effect on confidence between the Government and the Africans in that country, and will also have a detrimental effect on the confidence of the Africans in the ability of Her Majesty's Government adequately to protect them.
I think it is a very great pity that last spring, when Sir Roy Welensky was over here, Her Majesty's Ministers did not suggest to him that it would be more statesmanlike, even at the risk of having a Labour Government at the next election, to wait a little longer before introducing a Measure which is, after all, very important.
The feeling of Africans in this matter should not be disregarded in the way in which it has been disregarded by those concerned, for reasons which Sir Roy Welensky has been remarkably frank about in public. I think it was the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers, when they had the opportunity early on in the first stages of these discussions, to have suggested that it would have been much wiser to wait until the whole question of the franchise and the numbers in the Federal Assembly and so on could be discussed in the general context of the constitutional talks which are due to take place in 1960.
It also seems to me to have been unfortunate that Her Majesty's Ministers should have made it so clear last spring that they approved of these measures before they even knew what the details of the proposed franchise were going to be, and certainly before the African Affairs Board had had an opportunity to pronounce one way or the other on these measures. I feel that there has been a failure in this 849 respect, particularly, if I may say so, on the part of the Colonial Secretary who has responsibilities for the two Northern Territories and who only recently suggested in Kenya, where circumstances are not entirely dissimilar, that it is the duty of the Colonial Office for the forseeable future to retain ultimate control. He seemed perfectly happy to hand it over in Central Africa.
I want particularly to raise one matter which has been only just touched upon in the debate, and if I stress it especially and overlook some other points it is because I know that there are many other Members who will speak. I feel that we are entitled to a much clearer explanation from Her Majesty's Government of what precisely they think the effect will be of Clause 2 (2) of the Bill. I referred to it in a letter which was published today in the Manchester Guardian. The point at issue is the second of the two main purposes of this Bill.
I will quote from the speech given in the Federal Assembly by the Minister of Law, Mr. Greenfield, when he introduced the Bill in that Assembly. He said that there were two main purposes of the Bill. The first was to enlarge the numbers of the Federal Assembly. I think one of the reasons for that is the purely domestic reason of party politics in the Federation, into which we need not go now. That may be one of the reasons why they are in such a hurry about it. The other purpose of the Bill, according to the Minister of law,is to increase the ratio of those members who are elected in the normal way"—the normal way being the 44 members, and the other way the specially elected African members.
He went on to say:The second purpose of the Bill is to provide a means whereby those members who are not elected in the normal way and those members who are there to represent a particular race will gradually retire from the scene, or, as it might be put in colloquial language, fade out, and be replaced by ordinary members not specifically there to represent any one particular race.Most of us in this House, I think, would be of the opinion that ultimately one would wish to have in Central Africa a common roll in the full sense of the word, and we would not wish to stand in the way of that development. But we have not yet reached the stage where we can accept that common roll pure 850 and simple is applicable. I think we ought to find out what the Government suppose is going to happen.
As I understand the provisions of this part of the Bill, if an African is elected among the forty-four members at one general election, at the ensuing general election one extra member will be added, making forty-five on that side of the account and one will be taken off the specially elected African members. That has certain circumscribing conditions in that one cannot put a member on to the elected members roll in one territory and take it off the African representatives in another. It has to be done territorially. If a seat is lost in Southern Rhodesia, it must go on in Southern Rhodesia. Therefore, there is some limit to what can be done between one territory and another.
Suppose, however, that at the ensuing election that particular African should not be returned and that, therefore, there should be no Africans among the forty-five members. There is no question of putting that seat back on to the African specially elected list. The Africans may, therefore, have completely lost one of their representatives. This process, which is envisaged both in the speeches made in the Federal Assembly and in the Bill itself, could go on until all Africans have been entirely eliminated. I am not suggesting that that is probable; I am only saying that it is legally possible.
According to this Measure, there is one disturbing feature. This provision applies not merely to these six extra ones who are to be added but also to the Africans who are now, by the present constitution unamended, sitting in the Federal Assembly. The original ones we agreed to in 1953 come under this provision, as also do the Europeans appointed to look after their interests. They can all, apparently, be eliminated by this procedure.
As I said before, I do not suppose that that will in fact happen in totality. I do not imagine that all fifteen who would have to be on the elected members side would in fact come on to this side for a considerable time to come, but I can very well envisage the possibility of it happening to, say, two African members in each of the territories. Certainly, in Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia it is possible, though I admit 851 that it is much less likely in Nyasaland, because there are so few seats that no European would be likely to give one away at any stage for a possible African candidate. In the other two territories, I can foresee the possibility of a situation arising in which two or more Africans might be elected on the elected members' side and then be eliminated on the African side.
This elimination might lead to political trickery. I am not for one moment suggesting that anyone in the present Government in the Federation is plotting any such thing, but one never knows what may happen in the future. In 1909, nobody in the House of Commons for one moment supposed that the present situation in South Africa would ever arise. It is, therefore, our duty in the House to make quite certain that we are not giving legal powers to the Federation which are open to possible very serious abuse. While Sir Roy Welensky is the Federation Prime Minister, we need expect no such thing, but we may exchange King Log for King Stork and have someone who would be perfectly willing to resort to a piece of political trickery and chicanery in order to eliminate African representation. This Measure leaves the way open for that.
We should not be carrying out our duty in the House if we allowed this Measure to go through, as it stands, without protest. It is very much more likely that African representation will not be entirely eliminated, but that "stooge" Africans will be put on to the elected side, the elected members then added to the elected side will be removed from the specially elected list, and the Africans who are not enfranchised at all will feel themselves deprived. After all, although this is a step forward in a sense—I am not denying that there are some very good things in the Act—the number of Africans who will be enfranchised under these provisions, compared with the total population, is still very small.
If is not only possible, but it is the obvious intention of the Federal Government, that Africans shall be removed from their own special membership. In addition, as the Federal Government say in their own White Paper, by the time all the specially elected Africans have disappeared, many of the special roll voters 852 will have graduated to the general voters roll. Though I do not at all deny that, there will still be left a residue of many hundreds of thousands of Africans not enfranchised at all, who will then not even have a special voters roll on which they can go, because it will have disappeared.
We really must have a much clearer explanation about this than we have had from Government spokesmen so far. It is the quite obvious intention of the Federal Government that the special African members are to disappear as quickly as possible; they keep on referring to it. It is not something in the distant future; the Federal Government obviously envisage this as practical politics in the reasonably near future. In my judgment, we should, by passing this, be betraying the large number of Africans who are not even to have a chance, if all which is provided for comes about, of being on the special roll because that special roll will have gone.
We must press for a proper explanation, particularly as to what Her Majesty's Government's attitude is to those members who should be safeguarded under the present Constitution. Is this Measure coming into effect only if there is some revision in 1960? There is nothing in it to say it is only then that it should come into effect. There is, so far as I can see, no barrier at all to the eliminations I have spoken of.
I stress these points because I feel very strongly that, while we need a move towards a common roll—I certainly am not against that—I do not believe that we have reached the stage in Central Africa where we can give up direct representation of Africans. The statement issued by the Council of Churches said:Genuine non-racial representation, however, requires a certain level of inter-racial understanding and confidence. It cannot be claimed that this has yet been achieved. The evidence on this point that the Department has received, particularly from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, is virtually unanimous.With that I most heartily agree. We have not yet reached a point where we can, with equanimity, talk of eliminating special racial representation, even though we may, at the same time, go ahead with some representation on a common roll basis.
What will happen if we do at this stage eliminate special racial representation or 853 whittle it down so much that it is ineffective and impotent? What will happen is exactly what has been suggested in the Federal Assembly by Europeans appointed to concern themselves specially with African interests. They have said that if matters are so arranged that there are no direct representatives of African interests in the Federal House, large numbers of Africans who regard their present representatives as their spokesmen will be left without any constitutional channel of expression. If that is done, it has been said, and if from these Africans is taken their proper constitutional channel for expressing themselves, we can expect that they will choose unconstitutional channels for self-expression. If Africans feel that they have no spokesmen of their own in the Assembly, how can we then be surprised if they take other action outside the Assembly to put forward what they believe their rights and grievances to be? That is what has been said by members of the Federal Assembly.
One of the main complaints by members of the African Affairs Board sitting in the Federal Assembly about these proposals is that there are to be two different kinds of representation. This is quite apart from any question of later elimination. In the first place, there will be two different kinds of African representatives in the Northern Territories; there will be two members directly elected by the African organisations and two others on a different footing, elected by a relatively small number of Africans, with European votes in the balance as well.
It is suggested—not by me, but by the European spokesmen for Africans on the spot—that this very division into two types of African representatives would mean that there will be more extreme Africans among the elected people than otherwise. In other words, the reaction against have what, whether one likes it or not, will be called "stooge" Africans, is likely to be that extremists will be sent to the House as elected members. If they are eliminated altogether, I can only suggest that there will be even greater extremism in the country, because people will feel that they have no channel of representation in the House.
§ Mr. Braine
I follow the hon. Lady's argument, but does it not mean that there is a danger also of white extremism? Is it not a fact that Africans and Europeans 854 in Central Africa are not living in a wholly African or wholly European environment, and that there is no future for either race unless loyalty to both be developed? Does not the Bill point in that direction?
§ Mrs. White
In general terms, I would not deny that the interests of both races are inextricably woven together, but I do not think that on the present basis the Europeans have very great cause for complaint that they are being under-represented compared with the other side. For a long time to come, therefore, I do not think that we have to worry ourselves very much about that.
One other point that I wish to make before concluding concerns the position of Nyasaland. These proposals increase the number of seats for the three territories proportionately to the numbers they had before, but when we consider the total population, not merely the European electorate, we find that Nyasaland, which has a larger total population than either of the other two, is very much under-represented. I am not suggesting that at the moment we should vastly increase the representation of Nyasaland, but this is a point that ought to be made.
One particularly irritating meanness in the proposed allocation of seats is that when the proportions of increase are taken, there is a fractional difference. One cannot have a fraction of a member sitting in any House. Surely, the benefit of the fraction should have gone to Nyasaland, which was under-represented. Instead, the benefit goes to Southern Rhodesia, which is, if anything, over-represented. That is a relatively minor point but it is not unimportant, because where Nyasaland has, I repeat, considerably the largest population of the three territories, under the new arrangement it will have only six elected Representatives compared with twenty-four for Southern Rhodesia. I know that the balance of capital and the like is in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia as compared with Nyasaland; Nyasaland is the poor relation and always has been. Nevertheless, we should mention in this House that Nyasaland should have a fairer deal than it has been given, and, in particular, that where an opportunity was presented of making a generous gesture to Nyasaland it has been missed.
855 I will not detain the House longer, because I know that many other hon. Members wish to speak, but I ask that whoever replies to the debate will deal especially with the points I have made concerning Clause 2 (2) of the Bill.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. C. W. Armstrong (Armagh)
I suppose this afternoon we are discussing a step in what has been called the endless adventure of governing men and, in particular, of how men of different cultures, different races and very different wealth can so order their affairs that they can live together in peace, in justice and prosperity, and so that the differences which arise between their respective education and wealth can be reduced.
This is not a new problem in history. Generally, these problems of diverse races living together have been solved by the domination of one race, more virile, more competent, more inspired or more ruthless, over the others—The good old rule, the simple plan,That they should take who have the power,And they should keep who can.Perhaps it is worth remembering that over a great part of the world that rule still applies.
I believe that the Governments which have put forward these proposals have rejected domination, at any rate as a long-term solution, and have embarked on what is, in fact, a new adventure in this endless adventure of governing men: that is to say, to try to evolve a society in which the races shall work together. It is a new venture, certainly, with races as diverse as those we are considering today.
It is right, therefore, that we should try our best not to make this experiment more difficult by unreasonable objections or interference and that we should judge these proposals not so much in detail but by whether broadly they help towards that state of society which, I think, we all want to see in Central Africa.
The African Affairs Board has carried out its duty, which is, I take it, to examine in detail proposals of this kind and, if there is any differentiation against African interests, to draw attention to it even though, as has been pointed out, the Board might agree that in broad outline the proposals were reasonable.
§ Mr. Callaghan
It is important to make this point. It has been said more than once that it is the duty of the African Affairs Board to point out something which is perhaps discriminatory, even though the proposal may be considered to be a good thing. I hope that the hon. Member will not lead the House to believe that on this occasion that has taken place. The members of the African Affairs Board who voted, voted that this Measure was discriminatory, both because it was and because they believed that in the wider context of political development it would be a thoroughly bad thing for Central Africa.
§ Mr. Armstrong
Let us examine the Board's actual objections. They were, I understand, two and two only. I found it difficult to attach much weight to the first, which was broadly that in a House of 35 a minority of nine in some way has less influence than a minority of 15 would have in a House of 59, although the numbers are proportionately the same. The Board goes on to say that in parliamentary government it is the size of the majority that matters. Surely, that is wrong. Many vital Measures have been passed in this House by narrow majorities and have passed into history.
Another aspect which seems to me to be more important is the influence that a group of 15 African members is likely to have in a House where there is more than one European party. It happens that in my own experience I have been in a situation exactly like this. About 15 years ago, I found myself a European elected member of the Legislature of Burma, which by that time already had responsible government, with a Burmese Prime Minister and a Burmese Cabinet. We were a small group, a good deal smaller relatively, I fancy, than 15 in an assembly of 59; but we found ourselves constantly in the position of holding the balance of power between the Burmese parties. It was often a position of acute embarrassment, but a Burmese Prime Minister who might have felt tempted to some irresponsible course of action was anxious to know what we thought and what our reactions to it were likely to be. On the other hand, if we had ever tried unreasonably to exploit our position we should have united the Burmese parties against us. It seems to me that at this stage, before the African members, as we hope they will, disperse into 857 non-racial parties, that is just the kind of situation in which they should wish to find themselves.
The only other objection, as far as I know, of the African Affairs Board relates to the method of election of the additional African members in the Northern Territories, because it contends that that method of election will reduce the African influence on those elections to less than the African influence on the elections of the original members. That I believe to be true.
However, it is fair to set against this the fact that these proposals will enfranchise in those Northern Territories thousands of Africans who up to now have had no vote. In the Report of the African Affairs Board it was suggested that these additional members would be elected overwhelmingly by European voters. Since the Board reported, the Federal proposals for the franchise have been altered, considerably increasing the number of African voters on the special roll, so that, as my hon. Friend has explained, it is now quite wrong to suggest that that electorate is overwhelmingly European.
Other questions have been raised. For instance, the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) spoke about what we may call the "fading out" of racial African members. I expect my right hon. Friend will deal with that, but surely it is not relevant, because it is not a point which has been raised by the African Affairs Board, and it is the Board's objections which we are considering.
§ Mrs. White
Surely we in this House have the widest possible responsibility? It is possible that for technical reasons the African Affairs Board did not feel able to put this into its memorandum, but that does not mean that as individual members of the Assembly they did not consider it. We here have a wide responsibility.
§ Mr. Armstrong
What we are considering is whether we should advise Her Majesty to withhold her Assent on the ground of the African Affairs Board's recommendations—
§ Mr. Callaghan
Let us try to get it right. The Motion is that the Draft Order in Council should not be submitted to Her Majesty. That is on the grounds thought proper by Parliament why it should not be submitted. They may and do encompass those advanced by the African Affairs Board, but there are others, including the assurances given by the Government to this House in 1953, which, we suggest, are being breached by the Government.
§ Mr. Armstrong
I still maintain that what we are considering here are the objections of the African Affairs Board.
In general, it seems to me that we should consider whether these proposals overall are working towards the kind of society we hope to see in Central Africa. I believe they are. I also feel that if African opinion could be satisfied by still further reducing the qualifications on the special roll that there might well be a case for doing so, but what I fear is that those who feel that universal adult suffrage is what would be really to their advantage, will never be conciliated by anything less; and if we agree to every proposal towards the common roll, on a basis which is workable under present conditions, being blocked by people with that consideration at the back of their minds, I am afraid we shall never see in Central Africa the kind of society for which we all hope.
I am very sorry that the Opposition feel that they must divide the House on this issue. In our own domestic politics we are accustomed to the recriminations which are cast from one side of the House to the other about what one side or the other did or could have done or did not do when it was in power or in Opposition. I think that to those of us who are not politicians by nature they are some of the more boring and unrealistic elements in our debates, but we put up with them because, I suppose, Parliamentary party government has less to be said against it than any other system that has been devised. When, however, we are dealing with people in far countries, surely that is not justified, and I wonder, 859 bearing in mind the economic future and the present state of advancement of the African people and the political and constitutional realities of Central Africa, whether the Opposition feel quite certain in their own minds that if they were in power they would reject these proposals out of hand.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I intervene in this debate for a few minutes because I feel passionately about the issue before the House. I would remind the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong) that it is not we who are forcing this issue into political controversy. We are merely, in attempting to safeguard the best interests of the Africans, discharging the responsibility of this House and fulfilling the obligation which we entered into when the Federation Bill was going through the House.
I have had a little experience of this matter. It is out of that experience that I wish to submit a few points for consideration. I opposed federation during the whole period when I was Secretary of State. I did so for a variety of reasons which I need not enter into now. In any case, I felt that such a measure was altogether premature and that there were other ways of building political life in Central Africa than by imposing federation on the majority of the people, who were utterly opposed to it. Nevertheless, once Parliament had determined that there should be federation, I was quite prepared to test federation in the light of experience. We have found no reconciliation by the Africans to the idea of federation and I think that all of us must agree that, so far, there have been few signs that the Preamble to the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Act, 1953 has been operated to any considerable extent.
We ought, therefore, in dealing with an Order in Council such as this, to bear in mind African opinion and to see that all Measures affecting the status of Africans in the Constitution are wisely and soundly conceived. The African Affairs Board, at the time of the passing of the Act, was stated to be the great safeguard for the Africans against discriminatory legislation. This is the first intervention by the Board that has come to the Secretary of State, and I feel that there is a very 860 real danger now of undermining the confidence of Africans in the British Parliament and real danger also of Africans losing faith in what was thought to be a safeguard of their interests.
I do not say that a Secretary of State should endorse every recommendation that comes from the African Affairs Board, but he should show a great circumspection on the merits of a problem before he reaches a conclusion which is calculated to create so much resentment and so much feeling among the African population. The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations referred to Socialist Administrations and seemed to suggest that if political power came to us on this side of the House we would not show any great consistency, that it was one thing to argue, in opposition, for a line of action and quite a different thing when one is in power. On this matter, at least, I personally have been wholly consistent in the line that I have taken, and I cannot imagine that a Socialist Government would depart from the line which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) took today.
There are, however, features about the Bill which commend themselves. I am not opposed to an enlargement of the House of Assembly in Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but the steps which are being taken in the Bill to eliminate African representation are ill-timed and ill-judged, for reasons which I hope to give in a moment. I am all for common rolls, and I utterly dislike communal representation, but in the Federation Parliament there is, a predominant and overwhelming European majority. It may be that there is a little division according to party, but no one can convince me that clashes of interest between Africans and Europeans never arise. Constant protests are being made against discrimination not only in administration, but in law. There is conflict in the Federation Parliament as between Africans and Europeans. Therefore, while the Federation Parliament remains predominantly European, it is important that there should be African representation and that Africans should be responsible to their own people at the elections.
The Under-Secretary of State suggested that the opposition which has appeared in a variety of journals, and has been voiced by a number of societies, is based on a 861 misunderstanding. I do not think so. I am opposed to the Bill, in the first place, because of African reaction to it. It is no use people telling me that the Africans are uncivilised and do not understand these constitutional problems. I would remind the Under-Secretary that it was my privilege some eight years ago to go on a tour throughout the whole of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia and to discuss constitutional problems with the Africans throughout those two great Territories. Even then I had far more intelligent discussions with African groups than I had with European groups. The Africans understood the problems that they were presenting to me. It is nonsense to assume that we are dealing with masses of unintelligent, barbaric people who do not understand some of the issues involved in these constitutional problems.
Therefore, while the African reaction is what it is today it is wrong for us to impose a Bill which flies right in their faces and undermines confidence in Britain and confidence in the safeguards which were built into the Constitution. Moreover, despite what has been said in the debate, I believe that if the African view is to be put over in the Federal House of Assembly it is a tremendous handicap when a large majority has to be convinced. There is a great deal of legislation which affects the Africans directly and which sometimes promotes the interests of Europeans. The European majority against African opinion is already big, but if we add to the numbers of that European majority it is less likely that the Africans will be able to influence and overcome the opposition, which, from time to time, they are obliged to bring against discriminatory Measures which may be introduced into the Assembly.
My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) lodged another objection to this franchise scheme. It is a perfectly valid one. The proposals lend themselves to electoral manipulation at the expense of African representation.
Finally in this connection, I am opposed to the Draft Order in Council because the Measure dilutes African representation. It widens the responsibility of Africans. They are accountable now, and will be in most territories in the future, to European opinion and less to their own people. It is because I think that Africans should be accountable to their own people and not accountable 862 to Europeans, who are already overwhelmingly represented in the House of Assembly, that I feel there is sound objection to be made to this Order in Council.
The Under-Secretary of State based part of his case on the elimination of racialism as one of the objects of the Act. Yet, as I have said, already there is racialism in the House of Assembly. There is an overwhelming European opinion which expresses the European viewpoint, very often at the expense of the Africans. So what is the use of talking about the perpetuation of racialism when we give Africans representation and already the overwhelming majority in the House of Assembly is European?
Then we are asked to express our gratification that the protected persons of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are given a vote. Here are Europeans coming into territories, who know they are coming into protected territories, who know the status of those territories, who come for a livelihood for a short period of their lives. They are given political power, political representation. On the other hand, the African millions whose territory it is, because they are protected, have been denied the right of election, the right of taking part in the political affairs of their country. Indeed, when I held office one of the problems which worried me quite a lot was how we could prepare a way for direct African representation and build a democratic system in these two Territories? There is no virtue in what is being done in giving protected persons a vote. We have often extended the right of the franchise to the inhabitants of protected States and to protected persons elsewhere. In this case, we have already conceded the right to vote to Europeans who have come in, so why should we feel so gratified that, at last, we have said that these protected subjects shall have the vote? I do not understand the argument.
Then we are told that in some cases, for some of these special seats, the African vote will predominate. This issue is not a question of numbers. It is not a question of balancing European as against African votes for these special seats. The Europeans will have their seats in the House of Assembly. We want to make absolutely certain that the Africans also have their seats in the House of Assembly. Yet African 863 representation is to be diluted by these proposals and, as I have said, Africans are to be responsible to Europeans as well as to Africans. In my view, at this stage of political advance, this will not constitute effective African representation.
Therefore, this is not a question of weighing how many Europeans and how many Africans will be on the vote for these special seats. What we are doing is to dilute the representation of Africans in respect of those seats. I do not doubt, too, that as Africans qualify to become ordinary voters under common law, the Federation Parliament will hold in its hands the qualifications for the franchise, just as in Southern Rhodesia, a few years ago, the qualification was raised to such a height that it was virtually impossible for Africans to be registered and exercise the vote.
So I ask why, then, do the Government persist in this policy in the face of African opposition and after such a shabby deal for the Africans? May I ask the Secretary of State, when he replies to the debate, to tell us whether he entered into any commitment with the Prime Minister of the Federation when talks occurred last April and when the British Government agreed that Sir Roy Welensky could go forward with this Act? I would like to know whether the pass was sold then; whether, in return for granting votes to protected persons, there would be a corresponding concession by Britain that she would raise no objection to the kind of thing proposed in this Draft Order in Council.
Before the Bill was introduced into the Federal Parliament it was considered by the Governments of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. The Secretary of State has a direct responsibility for these two territories because they are protected, and under the Federation Act his responsibility was not withdrawn. Did the right hon. Gentleman instruct the Governor and his Council in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia what attitude they were to take when the Bill was in draft before them? I would like to know, because I can understand now the attitude of the Government today if then, in April, instructions were given to the Protectorate Governments that they were to support the Bill.
864 The Government have proceeded along their course conscious all the time of African opposition. When the matter was submitted to Northern Rhodesia, the two African representatives voted against consideration of such a Measure. When it was introduced in the Nyasaland Legislative Council the African representatives spoke against the Measure and then walked out of the Legislative Council. When the matter was dealt with in the Federal Parliament, again the African representatives from the two Protectorates voted against the Bill. Therefore, faced with that opposition, I cannot understand why Her Majesty's Government felt that they must go forward with the proposals. Surely they would know how difficult their task would be in 1960, when they have to bring the experience of the Constitution into review. Surely they must know how they are increasing the resentment of the Africans in those Territories.
Already, the Prime Minister of the Federation has complained that he had not won, and could not win, the loyalty of the Africans. Their loyalty, he said, was not to Salisbury, but to London. I am afraid that they will have little loyalty to London quite apart from Salisbury in the days to come. I fear that their loyalty to London will be somewhat undermined.
There are, however, one or two suggestions to which I would ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies to give his serious consideration. First, is it not possible to increase the confidence of the Africans by a devolution of greater authority to the Legislative Councils of the respective parts of the Federation? After all, the Federal Government has tremendous power over the lives of Africans, and this partly accounts for African resentment. The Federal Government are in control of the whole economic structure and economic development of that vast federation. Africans feel that they are completely at the mercy of that Government however much or little power may have been conceded to the Legislative Councils of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. Therefore, can consideration be given, between now and 1960, to this suggestion of a transfer of some greater authority from the Central Federation to the respective legislative councils?
Further, in the light of what is happening in the constitutional field, the Secre- 865 tary of State should give his immediate attention to the question of the reform of the Constitutions of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. These are hopelessly outdated by events and by the developments which have gone on. I plead with the Secretary of State that this reform should be inaugurated, because 1960 is facing us, and it will be a sorry thing, when the two Governments of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia come to London in 1960 to discuss with the British Government the problems of the Constitution, if representation has not been properly conceded to the Africans. It would be unfortunate that their voice should be expressed either through officials or Europeans. I hope that the Government will urgently reconsider this matter.
I know that we cannot say very much except "Yes" or "No" in this House, but I think that it is possible even yet to play for time so that there might be further reconsideration of these proposals in the Territories. Otherwise, I fear that if this Order is endorsed, and the Act forced through, not only will it arouse enormous feeling in the African peoples, but it will create bitter resentment in 1960 and Britain will have virtually an impossible job to hold the Federation intact.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) has been connected with Commonwealth affairs for many years. I confess that I am very much of a newcomer, but I had the advantage of being on tour with a party led by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), together with one or two Members I see around the Chamber, in August and September of this year.
I am sure that it is to all of us a sorrow that members of that very happy party should tonight find themselves locked in what seems to be a sort of death grip of controversy. It was not like that at all when we were among the people we are discussing tonight. There was a very different atmosphere, and a very hopeful atmosphere. Although the right hon. Gentleman has been working in Commonwealth affairs for many years, if not decades, and although I am an extreme tyro, I cannot help feeling that if he had been there he would not have said, as he has said, that he wanted African members 866 to be accountable only to their own people, implying an extremely old-fashioned racial policy which, I assure him, the best of Africans in the Federation abandoned many years ago.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I dislike communal representation as much as anyone, but I think there comes a stage in political development when it is inevitable. I believe that is still the stage in Central Africa at the present time.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
There will still be communal representation, but an effort is being made gradually to get away from it. That is an effort which we should all welcome, because there has to be a start to all things. This is a very modest start, much more modest than some of the very high-falutin' things which have been said tonight. I thought that the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) put the issue very well. He said, like the hon. Gentleman, that he was in favour of increasing the size of the Assembly, and I think we are all agreed on that. He asked, "Why not leave the mode of election in the new and increased Chamber the same as it is at the moment?" The issue surely is whether we agree with that or the proposals before us, because we are not initiating this legislation. We cannot, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, East (Mr. Callaghan) reminded us, propose amendments. We are not doing it in this Chamber. All we can say is either "Yes" or "No." If we say "No," what it means is that the status quo will prevail.
I want to examine the status quo, because I believe that what is proposed is really an advance. It is not nearly as much of an advance as some Members on both sides of the House would like, but nevertheless it is an advance. That means that one has to weigh up the pros and cons of the new deal. It is, of course, a package deal. That is clear. Do not let us be mealy-mouthed about it. In defence of the measure put forward by the Federal Government, they say in paragraph 22:As stated in paragraphs 6 and 7 it is proposed to remove the nationality barrier which now impedes the path of British protected persons to the voters' rolls. The removal of this barrier could not he justified if, simultaneously, a racial barrier were to be erected against the Europeans' participation in the election of the additional African members.867 That is a frank statement of what the Federal Government have done. They have tried, as we have done since 1832, to adjust, weigh and balance all the different interests and to produce a measure which, although not satisfactory to everybody, is satisfactory to the majority.
I do not view this matter in the very high-minded way of some people, but I try to make up my mind whether on balance it is better that this Bill should go through than that we should remain as we are today in Central Africa. If hon. Members take that as their criterion and do not raise their sights too high, I believe that they will come to the same conclusion.
Unfortunately, the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) has just gone, but she had a good point. On balance, taking the pros and cons, she raised in our minds something of a con. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to allay her fears on that matter. I agree with her that it is most unlikely that the Machiavellian plot of gentlemen in Salisbury should go through what would be a most elaborate device over many years to whittle away African representation in the way it is proposed. Nevertheless, African opinion being very sensitive and often clutching at unreal and insubstantial fancies and inflating them into great Frankensteins, I think that the hon. Lady's point, made with such clarity, deserves an answer. As to the other criticisms of the package deal—it is not only the Bill; there are the other proposals as well—on balance there can be no question but that they are favourable to the African.
Let us take the Southern Rhodesian situation first, because that is remarkable. The right hon. Member for West Bromwich talked about "the African stooges", the two Africans at present representing Southern Rhodesian constituencies. In a sense he is right, because the number of African voters which has sent them to Salisbury is negligible. However, for the future something like one-third of the constituents of not merely the two old African members but all four African members for Southern Rhodesia will be Africans. Surely that is a very great advance. When right hon. and hon. Members opposite say that this is a terrible thing and that it is so bad 868 that the status quo would be preferable, they are condemning the Africans in Southern Rhodesia to the deprivation, almost premanently, of any influence over their own representatives at Salisbury.
Hon. Members opposite must face that, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East rightly said, we cannot amend this proposal. We are not proposing legislation here. We have to say "Yes", or "No". If we say "No" we are saying "No" to Africans in Southern Rhodesia who if we say "Yes" will get a very substantial say in the election of their four members for the new House.
As to the two Northern Territories, it is crystal-clear that when the Africa Bureau and the African Affairs Board said that the combined rolls in the Northern Territories which are to elect the two additional African members will be "predominantly" or "overwhelmingly" European, they were proceeding on a basis that is not true today. In my opinion, that is the nub of this debate. They could not know—because the franchise proposals have been liberalised since the Board reported. That being so, it seems to me that we ought not necessarily to adopt positions previously taken up on the matter, but should allow our minds to be influenced by the new proposals which the Federal Government have put forward.
I think this worship of the way in which the present African members in the two Northern Territories are appointed is, perhaps, a little overdone. Hon. Members have proceeded on a basis in their minds, though perhaps not in their words, as if at present the two Africans from Nyasaland and the two from Northern Rhodesia were elected in some democratic way by a roll of exclusively African voters. That is untrue. That is not what happens at all. At present, virtually no African in either of the Northern Territories has any vote for anybody. There is some under-the-counter method, which I have never altogether been able to discover, by which there is an electoral college, and I suspect very much, there being no ballot or anything of that sort, that the members so elected, or, rather, appointed by the Governor after consultation with organisations which appear to be interested, are not elected in any sense of the word that we understand.
869 Therefore, for the first time there will be Africans from the Northern Territories who are elected in a sense of the word that we can believe. There is a story—I will not vouch for it—that the body which ultimately recommends to the Governor of Nyasaland the two present members is a body of only twenty persons. I do not know whether that is right or wrong, but it is something which is not democracy in any sense. Now we are going to make a beginning of African democracy in the Northern Territories. It is only a beginning, but it is, anyhow, a start.
This is really an enfranchisement Bill for Africans. Although it is only a modest one, I do not understand how right hon. and hon. Members opposite could reject it in favour of the status quo. That is what a vote against the Bill would mean. It would mean that Africans in the Northern Territories would not be enfranchised at all. It may be that more proposals would come forward in due course, but I rather doubt it.
Let us think about that for a moment. The arguments in favour of this Measure are really in a very narrow compass, and, with the Manchester Guardian, I do not believe this is really a very big Bill. I thought the leader in the Manchester Guardian today, as so often in that paper, put the matter in absolutely the right proportions. It said that it was not a very big Bill but it had been blown up into a big Bill and ought not to have been so blown up.
What would be the result—we all have to face this when we cast our vote tonight—of throwing out the Bill? Does any right hon. or hon. Member think that the consequences of that would encourage the liberally-minded Europeans in the Federation? Does any right hon. or hon. Member think it would strengthen them? Of course it would not. Who would be strengthened if this modest measure of advance were thrown out by this Chamber tonight? It would immeasurably strengthen the very people that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike most in the Federation. It would strengthen those who say, "What is the good of our destiny being in the hands of these people 8,000 miles away when they will not even grant us this modest reform?" It would immeasurably strengthen the hands of those who want to go to the country on 870 the present restricted franchise in favour of greater independence, if not Dominion status. That would be the inevitable consequence of throwing the Bill out tonight.
Hon. Members say that the Measure would have a terrible effect upon Africans if we passed it. I do not believe that would be so, but I believe that it would have a terrible effect on the Europeans if we threw it out, because the movement towards liberality which those of us on the delegation found, particularly in Southern Rhodesia, is a new, tender plant, but it will be crushed under the heel of this House if we do not let those people do what they want to do now.
Therefore, I appeal to hon. Members to think not necessarily of what they themselves would do if they were the negotiating body, because we should probably all have produced Measures different from the one we are discussing, but of what will be the consequences of rejecting what other people have thought out. If they do not like all of it—I said that I did not like the point produced by the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East—do they not, on balance, think that this is a Measure which ought to be a first step towards greater enfranchisement for the Africans, because it enfranchises thousands of Africans in the South and thousands of Africans in the North? It would not be understood why we in this House should throw out a Bill which does that.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
It is not an easy decision which the House has to make today. Whatever decision is reached, the consequences are likely to be serious and far-reaching. That is our dilemma, and it would be foolish to pretend that it is an easy one to resolve.
If we were to consider political expediency alone, I think the case might be made for approving the Draft Order in Council. For example, I am very conscious of the fact that there are liberal-minded whites in Central Africa who wish to see closer co-operation between Africans and white settlers and who have tried to make these new proposals as liberal as practicable, and I am aware that some of them might be embarrassed by the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to approve the Bill.
871 I have taken all that into account, but when the wider issues are considered, especially the duty of the British Government to safeguard the interests of the people of the Protectorates, I am left in no doubt that it would be a serious breach of duty and good faith if Britain were to approve the Bill in face of the objections which have been put forward by the African Affairs Board and others.
I do not share the view of the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) that the point at issue is as limited as he suggested. Four problems have to be faced and are all closely related. First, will the changes contained in the Constitution Amendment Bill in fact discriminate against the African population and undermine the protection which it is our duty to provide, in particular for the Africans of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia?
Secondly, in view of the objections raised by the African Affairs Board, would it be right to approve a constitutional amendment which is undoubtedly regarded by very many Africans as discriminating against them? Thirdly, what will be the effect of any such decision upon the African population's respect for the British Crown? Fourthly, will the draft Order prejudice the review which is due to take place in 1960? I have tried to consider those four questions without bias, and I am bound to say that the answers to all four confirm me in my opinion that the Royal Assent should be withheld.
I want to refer to discrimination, because it is slightly more than merely a technical matter of differentiating. I am well aware of the argument that the proportions between Africans and non-racial representatives in the Assembly will be preserved and that the number of Africans eligible to vote may be increased and that a move to establish something approaching a common roll is a move in the right direction. I am not sure that I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) on that subject.
Unfortunately, those who base their case on those arguments in favour of the draft Order do not pay sufficient attention to the fact that in the new Assembly only four out of 59 representatives will have been specially elected by Africans, by the 872 electoral colleges. Whether we like it or not, we must face the fact that Africans who are elected by a body of electors in an area which is predominantly white are regarded as "stooges." I am sorry that that word has been used during the debate, but we have to be frank about it. The word has been used in Central Africa and has a special meaning, and we may just as well face it.
The introduction of this amendment to the Constitution will, I fear, weaken rather than strengthen the position of those Africans who are not directly elected by Africans. The Government have not paid sufficient regard to African feelings about Africans who have been called "stooges" or, for that matter, to the immense need for winning the confidence of Africans in the two northern Territories in the Federation.
We shall not gain anything by overlooking the reasons for racial representation. It was accepted as part of the framework of the Constitution in 1953. That Constitution recognised that a particular community, namely, the Africans, required special representation and the method adopted for the two Northern Territories was aimed at satisfying Africans that it would be honest racial representation.
Personally, I should welcome any genuine movement towards a common roll, but if such a movement is to have any success, two conditions must be satisfied—and it is on whether those two conditions have been satisfied that I differ from the views put forward in some thoughtful speeches from the Government side of the House. Those two conditions are that there must be confidence and that a change towards a common electorate must be accompanied by a sufficiently substantial movement towards electoral equality between the races.
I want, firstly, to consider the subject of confidence. Unfortunately, there is no adequate feeling of confidence at the moment. The introduction of this Bill is only an incident in a long series of events which go back over the years to a period before the Conservatives took office in 1951. I do not wish to dwell on the past, but it is clear that the last Labour Government must bear a heavy share of responsibility for the lack of confidence which existed at the time of the introduction of Federation. I fear 873 that mistrust has tended to harden since then.
The second condition of success, as I said, is a move towards greater electoral equality. I know that there has been a change, and I agree that there is a need for a change towards genuine non-racial representation, but it seems to me that the House is placed in an extremely difficult position. We are asked to approve the Bill, which is to be followed by the Federal Franchise Bill. I have listened very carefully to the figures given by the Under-Secretary. I have a mass of figures about the probable number of electors. I find it very difficult to get an accurate picture of what exactly will happen.
It is argued by the Federal Government that the Franchise Bill will substantially increase the number of African electors, but we do not know what the provisions of the Franchise Bill will be when it has reached its final stage in the Federal Parliament. It is that which worries me. We do not know what further changes will be made in the franchise, or what further qualifications or disqualifications will be added in future.
One of the main arguments for approving this constitutional alteration, namely, that the number of African electors will be increased, is based on information which is not officially before the House. The House is placed in an impossible position. This is not just a technical matter. We are being asked to approve the Constitution Amendment Bill and to take the Franchise Bill on trust.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
The hon. Member will appreciate that that has to be done. There is no sinister design. The Federal Government are obliged to take things in that order and there is no way out of that impasse owing to the forms of written constitution which, as we all know, are most frightful things to hang round one's neck.
§ Mr. Wade
I am not suggesting that there is anything sinister. I do not blame the Government in this country, and I do not blame the Federal Government, but that is the position. We have a proposal to amend the Constitution which is to be followed by proposals to alter the franchise. Some of us have grave doubts about whether the Constitution Amendment Bill should be approved, but we do not even know what the final form of the 874 Franchise Bill will be. That is at least an additional reason for hesitating before approving this amendment to the Constitution.
I agree that legally there is nothing unconstitutional in presenting proposals for constitutional changes now as opposed to 1960. The right to put forward proposals is permissive up to 1960. I am not disputing that. But the task of protecting the interest of this African population rests with the African Affairs Board, and after a Measure has been reserved the final responsibility rests clearly with Parliament in Westminster.
I do not want to see a Division. I appreciate the arguments of those who expressed regret that there should be a Division, but, after all, we have this responsibility placed upon us. We must say "yes" or "no". I think that some of us are feeling unhappy about this, but it would be quite wrong to refrain from voting merely to avoid a Division. We must express an opinion one way or the other. I believe that there should be overwhelming reasons for acting in contravention of the view submitted by the African Affairs Board. In this case, I believe that no such overwhelming reasons exist; rather is it the contrary.
May I take one quotation from an article in the Observer, which, I think, has not been referred to, by Mr. Guy Cluttenbrock on 17th November. I will quote two passages:The British Parliament at Westminster has thus to face a difficult decision, fraught with tremendous consequences. If it rejects the Report of the African Affairs Board and supports this amendment to the Constitution, it will reject the advice of the very body it has set up to safeguard African interests. It will increase the desperation of those in the Northern Protectorates who still look to Britain as 'Protector'….Not only seven million people in the Federation but millions beyond it will be watching to see whether the African Affairs Board is to be supported and African interests prevail, and the way paved towards real partnership between the races in 1960, when the Constitution will be reviewed.One of the things which disturbs me about this proposal which has been put forward this year is this. We have seen from time to time assurances given by British Governments. In the debate on the Federation Bill, I referred to the way in which the doctrine of paramountcy was gradually whittled away over the years. On the 9th June, 1953, I quoted 875 from a reply to a Question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) on 22nd September, 1948, which I felt had further modified that doctrine of paramountcy. We have seen too many cases of assurances given by Governments gradually modified and whittled away. Anyone who has studied this subject of Central Africa knows of the faith which the African people of Nyasaland had in the promise which they believe to have been given by Queen Victoria, not to mention the subsequent assurances by Colonial Secretaries. One thing is clear. Their faith will be seriously and possibly irretrievably shaken if the pledge given by the Colonial Secretary in 1953 is not adhered to.
§ Mr. Alport
I think that I should make it clear that that pledge, as I understand it, referred to amalgamation, and nothing in this Bill or in the Franchise Bill affects amalgamation in the least.
§ Mr. Wade
I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that the general spirit of the assurances given during the debate on the Federation Bill certainly led many people to believe that there would be no diminution of the protection given by the British Government to the Protected Territories.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The Under-Secretary has just made a most important statement. Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that it would be within the limits of the pledge for the Government to hand over the people in the Protectorates to the Federation?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I must, with respect, pursue this point. It is quite possible to hand over to a Federal Government without creating an amalgamated State, and that is what Sir Roy Welensky wants.
§ Mr. Wade
May I pursue the subject from a slightly different angle, because I do not want to detain the House. On 2nd May, I asked a Question of the 876 Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations about the conversations between Her Majesty's Government and the Prime Minister of the Central African Federation. In a supplementary I asked:Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the British Government have not committed this country in advance to any modification of the safeguards of the economic and political interests of the African inhabitants of these territories?The reply which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary was not entirely on the point. He said:I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I and my colleagues found the Federal Prime Minister, and his colleague, Mr. Greenfield, fully conscious, as we knew they were, of the importance of the African population in the Federation and of their obligations to them. There was no need for us to stress the need to see that responsibilities are properly discharged.Later the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East asked:Will the right hon. Gentleman give a clear answer to the question put by the Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade)…. May I ask the Colonial Secretary this Question? Is there anything in the agreement which has been reached with the Federal Government or anything in the impending legislation which will lessen the degree of protection which this House at this moment exercises in regard to African inhabitants of the Protectorates?The reply was:Nothing whatsoever, Sir."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1957; Vol. 569, c. 354–6.]I welcome that reply, but whatever may have taken place at the conversations in April, and whatever the strict legal interpretation may be of the legislation which is now being considered, I think it is clear that the review in 1960 is being prejudiced and, in the meantime, the existing safeguards will be weakened by the loss of confidence in the value and effectiveness of the African Affairs Board.
In conclusion, there are, of course, the economic arguments. It is true that Europeans will be reluctant to invest money in these Territories if there is doubt as to whether there will be a responsible Government in the years that lie ahead. I agree that the people of these Territories are in need of economic assistance and that there are great opportunities for development, but in the long run the essential condition for successful economic development is co-operation and confidence between the races and any step which damages the chances of such confidence and such co-operation may have a 877 disastrous effect, not only in these Territories, but through Central and Northern Africa.
When all the arguments for and against the proposals have been deployed and considerations of economic and political expedience have been carefully weighed up, there still remains one fact from which we cannot escape, namely, that during the debates in 1953, to which I have referred, the impression was certainly created that there would be no departure from the protection given by the British Government to the peoples of the Protectorates. I believe that that is regarded as a promise, and that the consequences of breaking it will be more serious than any of us can foretell. There is much truth in the words of the leading article in The Times, that Britain's good faith is at stake, and I therefore trust that the House will not approve the Draft Order in Council.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)
I believe that the fears expressed by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) about the Franchise Bill following the Constitution Amendment Bill are quite unnecessary. If we look at the latter Bill we see at once that the eight African members of the Constitution referred to as elected African members cannot exist if there is no Franchise Bill, and as that Bill must come before this House I think that we are firmly in control of the situation.
§ Mr. Wade
Do I understand the hon. Member to say that the Franchise Bill may come before this House? I presume that that will be as a result of its being referred by the African Affairs Board. If so, does not the hon. Member feel that this House would at least be in a very awkward position, if, having approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill, it did not want to approve the Franchise Bill?
§ Mr. Nairn
I may be wrong, and if I am the Secretary of State will probably correct me when he replies, but as I understand it, a new Franchise Bill would have to come before this House even if it were not referred by the Board. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If I am wrong, I apologise.
I would like to start by congratulating the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) upon the quiet way 878 in which he put his case. He is to be congratulated on keeping better control of his emotions than Sir Roy Welensky sometimes does when he gets excited—although I can understand Sir Roy Welensky's feelings when, having struggled to get liberal European policy behind him and feeling that he has succeeded, he receives criticism.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) has left the Chamber, because I found myself in much the same position as he did when this matter was under discussion in 1952 and 1953. He said that he was against federation because it was premature and because of the Africans' reactions to it. I voted against federation when I was in Southern Rhodesia for those reasons. But I believe that there has been a change. When I voted I also thought that we, as one of the Rhodesias then, would not be able to put across a sufficiently liberal franchise to satisfy the Africans. These latest measures cause me to think that I was wrong. I believe that the Europeans are going to be able to carry through a sufficiently liberal policy to get the Africans solidly behind them in the end.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield kept saying that we were making a great song and dance because we were giving British protected persons a vote in the Northern Territories. It is not we who are giving them the vote; it is the liberally-minded Europeans in the Federation who are initiating this proposal, and it is because of the action of those Europeans in the Federation that this House will be forced to amend the Constitutions of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It is nothing that we are going to do that has forced this change; it is the fact that the people in the Federation are liberal-minded and are introducing the Bill giving votes to British protected persons that is making a constitutional change in the North absolutely necessary. This House has little reason to take credit for that.
In discussing this matter, the big problem we have to face is that few people really appreciate the difficulties and problems of setting up a multi-racial partnership in Central Africa which will not only stand up to the strains and stresses of today but will go on to gain strength in the future. It would have been difficult enough to do this if common ground 879 had existed from which to start from the beginning, but even common ground has had to be built up and consolidated. I think that it will be agreed by most hon. Members, however, that there is common ground today—the common ground of the complete interdependence of the European and African races. They can start to build on that interdependence, and we can look forward to the future with reasonable confidence.
But there are dangers, and before we can examine this problem properly, we must consider those dangers. I believe that there are four main ones. First, the danger that the wave of African nationalism may hide from the Africans the benefits of co-operation and partnership; secondly, that the Europeans through fear of unwise outside intervention, may become less liberal; thirdly, that because of the primitive background and the superiority in numbers of Africans the Europeans may gradually lose the good will which undoubtedly exists for the Africans at the moment; and, fourthly, that the number of African voters may not he increased sufficiently rapidly.
The point that we have to consider now is not whether this is a differentiating proposal but whether the two Bills, taken together, will increase or lessen the dangers to which I have referred. We also have to decide whether they will help the Africans along the road to greater participation. I am convinced that they will lessen the dangers, but before I can ask the House to agree with me I have somehow to persuade it beyond any reasonable doubt that these Measures will, in fact, lead to greater African participation in the Government of the Federation.
Here we run up against two conflicting views. The Federal Government, supported by the two Southern Rhodesian African Members, passed the Bill in the belief that it would lead to progress for all, and they drew up the Federal franchise. The African Affairs Board, on the other hand, has given its opinion that the Constitution Amendment Bill is a differentiating Bill and will work to the disadvantage of the Africans.
Let us examine the two main arguments put forward by the Board. It says that it is unfair to the Africans that out of 12 of them eight should be elected by 880 a mixed roll and, secondly, that Africans will be worse off with 12 Africans and three Europeans looking after their interests in a House of 59 Members than at present, with six Africans and three Europeans in a house of 35 Members. I cannot find anything which makes me believe that Africans will suffer because eight Africans are elected on a multiracial roll.
Some reference has also been made to the incorrectness of the suggestion that Europeans will be in an overwhelming majority. In Nyasaland, we know that the Africans are likely to be in an overwhelming majority, and in Northern Rhodesia are likely to be evenly balanced with the whites. In Southern Rhodesia alone is there any likelihood of the Europeans being in greater numbers for some considerable length of time. I would remind the House that the economic progress of Southern Rhodesia is enormous, and it is very likely that the Africans there will progress much more rapidly than hon. Members at present believe.
Quite apart from these figures, and the number of voters, however, there is nothing to indicate that the Africans in Southern Rhodesia have suffered as a result of their members being elected on a mixed roll. There is nothing whatever to suggest that they have suffered. On the contrary, the complaint which we hear all the time is that progress in the North is not as fast as in the South and that education, housing and agriculture are all going ahead faster in Southern Rhodesia. The members of the delegation who went there recently said that liberal opinion seems to be growing faster in Southern Rhodesia than anywhere else.
If anything were wanted to make it clear that the Africans of Southern Rhodesia do not feel that they have suffered as a result of their representatives being elected on a mixed roll, it was made clear when Mr. Savanhu voted for the Constitution Amendment Bill and then felt that he had to resign and offer himself for re-election in order to learn what his constituents thought about it. Hon. Members may say that he knew that he would be re-elected by the Europeans, but the fact is that when he offered himself for re-election he had no difficulty in finding 25 African sponsors to sign his nomination form. No other 881 African was put up against him to say that Mr. Savanhu should have voted against the Bill. He was returned unopposed. Had there been strong feeling in the matter, the Africans would have put up someone to express their point of view.
Let me turn to the second point raised by the African Affairs Board, that the Africans will be less well represented by 12 Africans and three Europeans in an Assembly of 59 than by six Africans and three Europeans in an Assembly of 35. I considered whether there was anything in the argument of the African Affairs Board that they will suffer a loss in degree of power and influence, and I can find nothing in that contention. We have already been told that the ratio remains the same, but in the new House the Africans' interest will be looked after by 12 Africans and three Europeans instead of, as previously, by six Africans and three Europeans. The number of African members is being doubled and Africans are looking after their own interests in the proportion of four to one to the Europeans instead of in the proportion of two to one. Surely that of itself is a move in the right direction. It puts more power and responsibility in the hands of the Africans.
The African Affairs Board argues that it is unfair that the majority of unspecified members over specified members should be increased from 17 to 29. That argument is valid only if we look to the future of the Federation as a battle between two parties, a European party and an African party. Once or twice I wondered whether the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East looked to the future of the Federation as a racial battle. We all know that there could be no greater disaster.
It is not the true picture. Already, there are two parties, and one of the most encouraging signs is that Africans inside and outside Parliament are joining parties which started as predominantly European. We have only to take an example. Suppose that only two parties contest the 44 unspecified seats at the next election and suppose that one party wins 28 seats and the other party wins 16 seats; one might at once conclude that the party with 28 seats could form the Government. In fact, that is not the case. If it had the support of the 15 African special representatives, the party with 16 seats would 882 have a majority of three over the rest of the House. If, in this House, the Liberal Party was able to take from the Conservative and Labour Parties the same proportion as the number of seats the Africans are to have, this House would then consist of 269 Conservatives, 201 Socialists and 160 Liberals. The Labour Party and the Liberal Party would have a substantial majority.
§ Mr. Nairn
I believe that the fact that the Europeans are prepared to put forward a Measure which could create that situation in Parliament illustrates with startling clarity that they are prepared and anxious to carry through co-operation and partnership both in the spirit and in the letter.
Those are the answers to the negative contentions made by the African Affairs Board. Before I examine the advantages, I want to say a few words about the leading article which appeared in the Observer on Sunday. I do not believe that that article can go unchallenged. I believe that the article in the Observer and the African Bureau are jointly responsible for this horrible word "stooge", a word which has just been brought into the debate and which, I believe, has no justification in fact.
In my opinion, this article in the Observer is the most deliberately misleading article which has been published by a responsible newspaper for a very long time. It fails entirely to deal with the Constitution Amendment Bill and, instead, drags up every possible red herring it can to distract attention from the advantages which the Africans will gain from it. The article begins:Four years ago, Mr. Oliver Lyttelton said the British Government would be under an obligation not to amend the constitution in such a way as to affect the protectorate status of the Northern Territories.Nothing in the Bill affects the protectorate status of the Northern Territories, and it is utterly wrong to drag that into the debate.
Next, the article refers no fewer than three times to South Africa, the suggestion being that the Bill has something to do with the apartheid policy of South Africa. The difference is that in South 883 Africa the Government are taking away votes from the people, whereas this Bill is trying to give votes to as many Africans as possible.
The article suggests that the British Government is approving of the Bill as a matter of "bargaining" and "expediency." We support the Bill, in fact, because it is a truly liberal Bill leading towards partnership. Lastly, the article suggests that the Africans will be stooges. As I have said before, there is nothing whatever to indicate that either Mr. Savanhu or Mr. Hove are "stooges" in the Southern Rhodesian Parliament.
§ Mr. Nairn
He stood again and was re-elected. The truth is, to use his own horrible word, that the writer of this article has "stoogified" himself with his own prejudices.
Let me turn to some of the positive advantages which I think will flow to the Africans. I think that there are four. First, the number of Africans who will go direct to Parliament is doubled; there will be 12 instead of six, which means that more Africans will immediately start being given a chance to understand how Parliamentary procedure works and which also means that the African voice in Parliament will be far greater than it has ever been before.
Secondly, thousands of people who have never had votes before will be brought on the voters' roll. I wonder whether hon. Members realise how many voters in the Northern Territories had a vote at the time of the first Federal elections? There were three. Under this Bill, many British Africans will be enfranchised and thousands of Africans who are British protected persons, and who form the majority of the people, will also be enfranchised for the first time. If there is any differentiation in this Measure, it is that it creates a vast new pool of potential voters who have the special privilege of being voters without having to become British subjects.
The third advantage is that instead of the Africans in the Northern Territories being chosen by various councils which have already been described, thousands of Africans will, for the first time, actually 884 take part in voting for half their members. The other two will remain as at present. The final advantage is that it will be an immense benefit both to the Federation and to the Africans to have eight of the African members elected at this stage on a multi-racial roll, especially as in many constituencies the multi-racial roll will be predominantly African.
The African Affairs Board agrees, I think, that racial representation can have no permanent part and should go as soon as possible, but it states that African representatives should be entirely elected by Africans until a day of sudden change takes place. Does anybody believe that to be a reasonable or wise outlook? There must be a period of transition, with some Africans elected by Africans alone and others elected on a dual roll. I think that it would be quite outside the realm of possibility to expect 12 Africans, whose thoughts, through no fault of their own, have for several years been directed in narrow racial channels and who have been elected entirely by Africans for the benefit of Africans, suddenly, on the appointed day, to change into broad-minded statesmen capable of properly looking after their constituents—
§ Mr. Nairn
It is difficult enough in this House to find politicians even with a sufficiently democratic background capable of suddenly broadening their outlook.
I hope that there will not be a Division tonight. In my opinion, if the Opposition does insist on dividing the House, that action will be misunderstood by most groups of people in the Federation and will be misrepresented by one or two other groups. The extreme Europeans and the extreme Africans will jump to the wrong conclusion. They will jump to the conclusion that a Socialist Government will at once give the Africans complete control over the whole Federation, and their reactions might be violent. Liberal Europeans will jump to the conclusion that the Socialists have no trust in their good faith, and that all this effort to bring more African voters into the picture is not appreciated by Socialists at all.
One of the saddest effects would be that the progressive Africans, and there are 885 many, who really believe that the Federation will help them, would find their influence sorely undermined. A vote at the end of this debate tonight could do no possible good to the Federation—neither to the Europeans nor to the Africans—and could do a great deal of harm. I believe that it could put the Socialist Party into a terribly difficult, almost an impossible, position if it achieves its ambition to be the Government of this country.
I have no doubt at all about European opinion in the Federation. I am sure that European opinion, with the oldest settlers and their children in the forefront, is solidly convinced that there is no future for them in federation unless they co-operate with the Africans and build up a partnership with them. European opinion today can be summed up in the motto, "Progress in partnership." These Bills are a real endeavour to put that motto into practice. They are a new bridge across the racial river, and as the traffic across those bridges increases, in both directions, I am certain that it will be or enormous benefit and go far towards building broader and more substantial bridges in the future.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
We have had from the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn) another in a succession of smoothly soothing speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite. It would, indeed, be very nice if the situation were as comforting as they have tried to make out, but unfortunately the realities have an awkward way of being very different from the gloss which hon. Members opposite put on them. The hon. Member himself has just torn up with a great flourish a leading article from the Observer, which he has dismissed with scorn partly because it dared to mention in the same paragraph the Federation and South Africa—
§ Mrs. Castle
Yes, three times. And he assured us that far from the Federation having any South African tinge or being in any danger of getting a South African tinge, the tendency was all the other way.
From speaker after speaker opposite we have been given the impression that liberal opinion is dominant in the 886 Federation and is reflected in the Measure now before us, but we really cannot turn our backs quite so easily as that on the actual facts. Take the South African question alone. I wonder if the hon. Member who tore up that leading article is aware that immigration into the Federation of people born in South Africa amounts to nearly 50 per cent. of the total white emigration into the Federation—
§ Major Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
Would not the hon. Lady agree that the reason for quite a large percentage of the immigration from the Union into the Federation is that those people want to get away from the racial laws of the Union?
§ Mrs. Castle
Personally, I would respect them far more if they stayed and fought the racial laws in South Africa. I suspect that their reason is that they realise that the extremism of the racial laws there will bring violence or great difficulty, but think, no doubt, that the situation in South Rhodesia has been fixed in the Europeans' favour with rather more skill and more possibility of white supremacy being maintained without actual violence.
I believe that if the European policy continues as at present in the Federation there will be a disappointment of their hopes.
I have, however, been distracted from the point that I wanted to make. It is that Sir Roy Welensky himself has deplored the fact that such a high percentage of the immigration comes from South Africa and wants to see more from Britain, Holland and the rest. Yet we have this simple fact, which I discovered the other day in the issue of South Africa of 2nd November this year; that the immigration board of the Federation in London is almost exclusively staffed by ex-members of the South African police. Under the heading of "The Blue and Gold Tie", there was this interesting little news item:The close link between the Immigrants Selection Board for the Federation in London and the British South Africa Police was evident at a gathering at Rhodesia House on Friday last.The occasion was the presentation—
§ Mr. Alport
Perhaps the hon. Lady has not realised that the British South African 887 Police are the British South Africa Company's police, which is the official title for the police in Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mrs. Castle
If that is so, I stand corrected. I will, of course, defer tonight to the hon. Gentleman's superior knowledge on that point, and I withdraw it. The fact remains that the rate of immigration from South Africa is a matter of concern, and that being so, I think that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire was a little too light hearted in tearing up that leading article.
Many hon. Members opposite have advanced the argument that it is the liberal opinion in the Federation that is behind these proposals, and that if tonight we oppose the Constitution Amendment Bill and the Order endorsing it we shall be playing into the hands of extreme opinion and betraying that liberal opinion. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that a body which I should have thought was a reflection of that liberal opinion, the Inter-Racial Association of Southern Rhodesia, has circulated a memorandum bitterly attacking the Constitution Amendment Bill, and saying:The Government party in the Federal Assembly used its majority to steamroller its proposals through despite the fact that they were opposed by every section in the House, and refused to listen to requests by Sir John Moffat, the spokesman of the members representing African interests, for consultations to be held in an attempt to reach agreement.This surely highlights the answer to what, with respect, I must call the Under-Secretary's earlier highly dishonest argument in which he tried to suggest that the representations of the African Affairs Board which we are discussing were, in effect, purely routine representations.
§ Mr. Alport indicated dissent.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. If he looks in HANSARD tomorrow he will find that he quoted Sir John Moffat as saying that it is possible for a member of the African Affairs Board to give one ruling as a member of the Board and yet to vote in a different way in the House. Surely this is to ignore the fact that all four members of the African Affairs Board who voted on this differentiating Measure voted against its Third Reading on 31st July in the Federal Parliament. I refer to Mr. Chirwa, Mr. Yamba, the Rev. Andrew Doig, and Sir John Moffat. Therefore, 888 it is intolerable to tell us that we are faced with a routine objection from the African Affairs Board.
It has been suggested that the African Affairs Board Report was drawn up before Amendments were made in the Franchise Bill which would have met a good deal of their objection. Let us make no mistake, the African Affairs Board's representations to us are made with deep feeling and 100 per cent. conviction. I have here a letter from the Rev. Andrew Doig, dated 12th November. He says:I consider that we have reached a crisis in the affairs of the Federation. If the British Government are prepared to pass this Constitution Amendment Bill in the face of almost complete opposition of the African Affairs Board, then they'll pass anything in the future. It has always been my view that the Conservative Government at least would never refuse the Federal Government anything, and their agreement to the Amendment will not only be the end of any faint confidence the Africans had in the African Affairs Board, but opens the door to complete control in the end of all three territories by the Federal Government with the certainty of a negligible voting power in the hands of Africans.That is the voice of liberal opinion in the Federation. That is the true European liberal voice, and not those of the Europeans who have voted down that desperate appeal by a European responsible for African interests and taking his duty very seriously—a European, incidentally, who is a missionary associated with the Church of Scotland Mission and who has been associated with a body which always wished federation well. This body has never been destructive; it is not a critical body, but it hoped that Federation would work and now believes that the way in which the Europeans are handling the question of the Africans' rôle in the Federation and the way in which the Government are backing them up is bound to lead to the confirmation of their worst fears. As we expected, the Under-Secretary has produced in support of the Government's actions the argument that the figures show that far from this being a Measure which is detrimental to the African interests, it will be, as one hon. Member called it, a Measure for the enfranchisement of Africans.
It was the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) who fascinated me with his account of the amity which reigned during his recent visit on a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation. He told us what liberal 889 feelings they found there and how members of both sides of the House on that delegation were delighted to find this new spirit in Federation. I was rather interested to hear this eulogy, as I seem to remember that when my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) entered the most modest caveat on the question of the timing of the progress towards Dominion status, a neurotic howl of abuse from Sir Roy Welensky was flashed across the world to the effect that he had been abusing the hospitality of the Federation.
§ Mrs. Castle
No, but the hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that it was, at any rate, embodied in Sir Roy Welensky.
§ Mrs. Castle
I agree that the hon. Gentleman and I would probably differ in our definition of the term "liberal", but I find it very difficult to call that a reflection of a liberal approach towards the future of the Federation.
If we examine these figures, we find that they lead us to very different conclusions from those which the Under-Secretary has reached. In the first place, on his own showing in the figures that he has given to us it is quite clear that the Europeans will continue to dominate in Southern Rhodesia. Here again I am appalled at the way hon. Members opposite have twisted the figures which the Under-Secretary has given us in an effort to prove far more than can be proved.
The Under-Secretary told us—I took down his words, I hope correctly—that there will be 88,000 persons on the general roll in Southern Rhodesia of whom 3,000 will be Africans, and that there will be some 30,000 people on the special roll, of which a majority, unspecified in size, will be African. A majority of 30,000 could be 16,000, giving us, with the 3,000 Africans on the general roll, 19,000 Africans out of a total of 118,000. But when one hon. Member opposite said that the Africans will now constitute one-third of the voting strength, the only way in which that figure could be reached would be by assuming that all the 30,000 on the special roll—not the majority—were Africans, plus the 3,000, giving 33,000 out of 118,000, 890 Clearly, whether one takes the maximum or the minimum, there will still be European domination in Southern Rhodesia, which nobody queries.
One of the big anxieties of the Africans in the Federation is that Southern Rhodesia is moving forward from strength to strength with an increasingly powerful voice in the affairs of the Federation. This is one of the biggest causes of African alarm in the Northern Territories, that within the three Territories Southern Rhodesia not only dominates but intends to do so increasingly. This Bill strengthens that domination. It increases Southern Rhodesian representation from 17 out of 35 to 29 out of 59.
We are told that when these proposals go through the increased representation for Africans in the Northern Territories will be such that they will have for the first time elected representation, and that in Nyasaland Africans will dominate in a ratio of two to one in the voting on the special roll. Further, we are told that in Northern Rhodesia the proportion will be at least fifty-fifty. The whole of the Government's case today rests upon that.
We have not been given any details about where these figures have been obtained or about their basis.
§ Mr. Alport
I think I was pressed on this, and I did make it clear that they came from the Federal Department of Statistics of the Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, respectively.
§ Mrs. Castle
I, like many others, am at a loss to understand how such optimistic figures could have been obtained. Will the Under-Secretary deny, for example, that two years ago there were 8,000 African civil servants in Nyasaland, four-fifths of whom were earning less than £100 a year? Quite clearly, if anybody is to qualify for the special roll, it must be the professional people of that sort of rank, the civil servant and teacher, at that kind of level. Again, a teacher in Nyasaland, of two years' secondary education plus two years' teachers training, starts at an income of £78 per annum. He would therefore, 891 be below the minimum qualification of education plus £120 per annum. He would not even qualify for the special roll, I think I am right in saying. If these figures are wrong, they should be denied. It is vitally important.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
Perhaps the hon. Lady does not realise that at some stage—I am not sure quite at what stage—there was introduced also a provision that accommodation and food, which might in certain circumstances come up to 30s. a week, could be counted as part of the income. I am speaking without the record, but I think I am right in saying that somebody with £72 a year could, if otherwise eligible in literacy, qualify, and so, if literate, could his wife, if he enjoyed food and lodging to the value of 30s. a week.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Oh, no. I am not certain whether it is £72 or £75 a year. I think it is £72. That is the only thing on which I am uncertain. If my uncertainty is always limited only to that, no doubt the hon. Lady will be surprised.
§ Mrs. Castle
One uncertain factor is plainly the assessment of the value of payments in kind, which lend themselves, I should have thought, to be a great deal of manipulation.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
If people are making 30s. a week for board and lodging, and that board and lodging is counted among the wages, the wages being £70 a year, the board and lodging—£78 per annum—is greater than the wages, which is ridiculous.
§ Mrs. Castle
I must say that we are asked to base these recommendations on a most unsatisfactory analysis of the figures.
Once again, I should like to refer to the Report of the Interracial Association of Southern Rhodesia, which entered very serious doubts about the inclusiveness of the franchise. The Association pointed out, for instance, on the educational tests, that in 1956 only 3,564 out of 6,500 children in the Copperbelt of school age could be admitted to school, and that 46 per cent. of children were 892 deprived of all schooling. The Bureau suggested that the proportion is actually worsening, not improving.
As I have listened to the reports of my colleagues who have been to the Copperbelt on the visit of the delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the one thing which struck me with great force was the gross inadequacy of the educational facilities in Northern Rhodesia, and that the situation there in education is rapidly worsening.
There is another proviso in these franchise proposals which gives me cause for alarm. We are told that the income and property qualifications can be raised at any time by a tribunal making periodic assessments of the value of money and adjusting the qualifications accordingly.
We are, therefore, by no means as complacent about the franchise proposals as hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to be. But even assuming that the Under-Secretary's assessment is correct, giving the most optimistic interpretation to everything, assuming that, in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, we shall have large numbers of Africans qualifying not only now but in increasing numbers as the educational facilities develop, as incomes increase and so forth, in so far as this is all true—and certainly it is likely to be true earlier in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia than in Southern Rhodesia—it will mean that in the two former Territories the special representation of Africans will disappear first.
So far as Africans do influence the voting on the general roll to the extent of securing the return of Africans on that non-racial roll, what will happen is that representation of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia within the Federation will be diminished. If the situation is reached in which the special representation of Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia totally disappears, Southern Rhodesia will have not 29 seats out of 59 but 29 out of 49. It is in those very areas where African advance can be most expected that we shall find African representation diminishing first. This is surely the wrong way to deal with franchise developments which are supposed to be in the interest of the Africans.
Of course, we ought to be considering these proposals tonight not merely in the technical detail to which we have been devoting attention but in relation to the 893 wider issues. It must be a great consolation to the Government that the proposals are so complicated and difficult to follow that we tend inevitably to get lost in detailed arguments on the minutiae instead of concentrating on the broad pattern. We should be considering the problem against a wider background, not only in relation to the Federation, but in relation to Africa as a whole.
Those hon. Gentlemen opposite who have argued that we have been talking pure racialism and that what we ought to be working for is the common roll principle, the genuine multi-racial society, overlook this, that if they intend to steamroller through this House of Commons, as the Federal Government steam-rollered through the Federal Parliament, proposals in the name of the common roll which the overwhelming majority of Africans believe to be not an advance but a twist, they will be discrediting the whole principle of the common roll in the eyes of all Africans, and they will be gravely endangering the chances of advancement of the common roll principle in Kenya, where at this moment the constitutional position is precarious.
This is primarily and overwhelmingly a question of winning and retaining African confidence, but the African believes—and every development to date in Southern Rhodesia and in the Federation confirms him in his belief—that he is not being offered in the Federation the only goal that we as democrats in this House of Commons should offer: namely, the goal of ultimate full political equality with the Europeans.
We can argue about the timing of our progress towards that goal, but what we are considering tonight is not merely the details of franchise arrangements. We are considering the goal towards which we want federation to go. It is against that background that these proposals should he tested. Of course, the Colonial Secretary and the Under-Secretary chat throughout this debate—they are not interested; they do not regard it as important. This is the real crux of the discussion and the real division between us.
Not only is there the division between us on this side and hon. Members opposite. We on this side have stated in our policy document "Plural Society" that as democrats we must in all these multi- racial societies work towards the principle 894 of full democratic rights for all citizens without qualification. That is our goal. Hon. Members opposite are supporting the Europeans because they do not share our goal any more than do the Europeans. The division is not only between the two sides of this House. The division between liberal European opinion in the Federation and reactionary European opinion in the Federation takes place along this line.
On 12th August, there was a most interesting debate in the Federal Parliament on a Motion moved by Mr. Yamba, a member of the African Affairs Board. It was a simple Motion:That the House agrees that Dominion status shall not be granted to the Federation in any way until such time as the majority of all its inhabitants express their desire for it.That is one of the fundamental tests, whether we are determined to safeguard the status and future of the African. One would have thought that it was a matter on which there could be no division inside the Federal Parliament, instead of which there was a long debate, during which the Prime Minister had some scathing words to say about universal suffrage and said that the decline of the United Kingdom's standing in the world might be traceable to the fact that we had universal adult suffrage here.
The Federation Prime Minister said:universal adult suffrage is still something that has got to prove itself".He proceeded to define his interpretation of the grounds on which Dominion status could be granted as being that the Africans had been "consulted," in some way unspecified.
Who spoke out against the Prime Minister? It was not only the Africans, but Sir John Moffat, who declared emphatically that the phrase put into the Preamble to the Constitution to the effect that the desires of the inhabitants must be consulted meant what it said. He said:This particular phrase was put in for the purpose which it was intended to serve, and that is that the Federation would go forward to the attainment of a full membership within the Commonwealth when the inhabitants so desired…and the inhabitants are the people and not their representatives.There was a sharp cleavage at that time, ending in a vote, in which Europeans once again opposed that simple motion, showing that the European opinion is trying through the Constitutional Amendment Bill to maintain its domination in the Federation. In favour 895 of the Motion were again lined up the four members of the African Affairs Board—the Rev. A. B. Doig, Sir John Moffat, Mr. Chirwa and Mr. Yamba, with two others, in support of what seems to us to be a simple democratic principle and one on which the Federation itself was founded. The division, therefore, is fundamental.
When the liberal Europeans, through the African Affairs Board, appeal to this House of Commons tonight, they are doing so because this is one more test of whether we intend to reach the goal that we have set ourselves. If this House passes the Constitutional Amendment Bill Order tonight, we shall have served notice on the African that the goal for them is not democracy but white supremacy and black suppression.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Major Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) seems to me to be designed to do the maximum possible damage to racial relations in the Federation. We have heard a complete tirade against the Bill. Not one good word has the hon. Lady found in the whole of it. She said that she wishes a greater weight of African opinion to be brought to bear in the Northern Territories. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, in his opening speech, showed that the Bill is designed to bring a greater weight of African opinion to bear.
The hon. Lady queried the figures given by my hon. Friend. It looks as though she did not want to believe them. The key to her approach may be found in one of her sentences, in which she said that she regretted the Bill showed that the Europeans will continue to dominate in Southern Rhodesia. Does she really believe that in the immediate future Africans could dominate in Southern Rhodesia? If so, she must be living in cloud-cuckoo-land. I believe in the partnership between the races in the Federation as much as the hon. Lady does, but I believe that for the good of all races the European in Southern Rhodesia—and, indeed, in the Federation—must be the senior partner, at least for the immediate future and probably for a considerable period.
§ Major Wall
I certainly do not believe that universal adult suffrage is likely to be applied in the Federation for a very long time. If the hon. Member had had the privilege, as I have done, of looking at certain areas in the bush country, such as Basutoland, and had seen the power that witchcraft still has over the people, and had heard of the 80 cases of witchcraft, including cannibalism, and murders which have taken place during the past few years—
§ Major Wall
—he would realise that African opinion is nowhere approaching competence to judge on complicated subjects such as this.
I say straight away that there are a reasonable number of educated Africans who are as intelligent as any hon. Member of this House and their opinion should be listened to. They should have every opportunity to express that opinion. That goes without saying and that is what partnership means. It means that reasonably educated, intelligent people should become partners together; but in partnership there is not always equal balance between the partners. I believe that for the immediate future, for the good of all in the Federation, the European must be the senior partner.
Having said that, I must admit that I have had doubts about the Bill. They fall mainly under two headings. First, there is the doubt which has already occurred to the African Affairs Board that the special four Africans elected for the Northern Territories would be elected by a predominantly European electorate. Secondly, the psychological result of passing the Bill in this House might have dangerous results in the Federation.
My first doubt has been set completely at rest by my hon. Friend in opening the debate. He has pointed out—I say it again, because it must be pressed home, and I hope that it will be pressed home in the Federation—that the best possible figures which can be produced at this time show that these African members 897 will be elected by a majority of Africans in Nyasaland and will have equality with the Europeans in Northern Rhodesia; and I believe that in Northern Rhodesia, by 1961, there is also likely to be a majority of African votes.
In Southern Rhodesia, which has had the common roll for some time, the position at the last election was that the two Africans were elected by an electorate composed of 50,000 Europeans and 500 Africans. After the Bill has become law, as, I am sure, it will, the four African members in Southern Rhodesia will be elected by a maximum of 88,000 Europeans and no fewer than 30,000 Africans—an increase of from 500 to 30,000 Africans, who can then make their political weight felt in Southern Rhodesia.
Yet we are told that this is not a reasonably liberal Bill. I think that this in itself has demolished any doubt I may have had about the advantage to all races in the Federation of passing the Bill. The advantages are, of course, threefold. I shall not dwell at length on the essential requirement of having a bigger Parliament in the Federation. The difficulties of working with a small Parliament of 35 must be obvious.
What has not been stressed sufficiently by hon. Members opposite, or in the Press, has been the enfranchisement of the British protected persons, which it is quite a concession on the part of the Federal Government and was negotiated, I believe, with considerable difficulty. It means that in Northern Rhodesia, where virtually no Africans had votes at the last general election, about 21,000 will have the vote in the next, and that in Nyasaland, where virtually no Africans had a vote in the last election, 7,000 Africans and 1,000 Asians will have a vote.
These figures will only be effective if the African people bother to register. I do hope that they will not follow the example of the Africans in Kenya. We had a very interesting discussion about the first African election in Kenya and we wondered whether the franchise was liberal enough or not. In the result we found that very large numbers of Africans did not bother to vote, proving that they are far more interested in questions of land than in questions of franchise. Undoubtedly, the basis of the Africans' fear in both East Africa and the Federation is that their land will be taken away from 898 them and used by European settlers. I hope it will be stressed that in Nyasaland 3 per cent. of the land is and will be used by Europeans and in Northern Rhodesia 7 per cent., and that that cannot be altered by any change in the Constitution or franchise. I think that that is what really matters to the average African living in the bush and working on his shamba.
The object of the Federal Government is to introduce party instead of racial politics, and that has been accepted and approved by many hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken from the benches opposite. I believe that the minimum qualifications on the general roll, which are an income of £300 per annum or the ownership of £500 worth of leasehold or freehold property, plus four years' secondary education, will produce a reasonable number of educated Africans on the general roll and that they will participate in the election of the 44 members who are elected irrespective of race. I do not think that in the future these members will be wholly European.
I hope and believe that in the next general election but one a reasonably large number of Africans will be elected both by European and by African votes. That is the object, I think, hon. Members opposite as well as hon. Members on this side all want to achieve, and the Bill goes some way to preparing the foundations of the achievement of that object.
There is undoubtedly a liberal climate of opinion in the Federation in many quarters. I think that hon. Members who have had the advantage of reading the report of the United Rhodesian Party Congress this summer must have been struck by the number of Africans who not only attended it, but spoke. A middle class is emerging in Northern Rhodesia, where Africans can earn up to £50 a month, and that is an important factor which leads to the formation of moderate opinion and will lead to non-racial politics, which can be only of advantage to the future of the Federation. This is evident by the new party recently started in Northern Rhodesia, the Constitution Party, which is completely multi-racial in its set-up.
I now want to refer to the Federal franchise proposals, which can be criticised, although it may be that the merger of the United Rhodesia and 899 Federal Parties about to come about will lead to these franchise proposals being liberalised. One does not know, but one guesses that that may be so.
In fairness, it must be said that the qualifications, both educational and financial, are similar for both the Southern Rhodesian franchise and the Federal franchise except in one respect, which is the lower qualification for the special roll for which the Federal Government require an income of £150 a year, whereas the Southern Rhodesia requires £240. That makes the Federation proposals in this respect more liberal than those of Southern Rhodesia.
Where they differ is that the Southern Rhodesian franchise has a common roll. No one knows whether a person who has a vote in Southern Rhodesia, according to the new proposals, is on the general or special roll. There is, however, a safeguard, and I believe that there must he a safeguard, to sustain European predominance for the immediate future.
The safeguard in Southern Rhodesia is that the special roll must never be more than 20 per cent. of the general roll. Hon. Members opposite look horrified, but members of the United Rhodesia Party told us that this brake would never be applied because the general roll will increase so rapidly, due to immigration and improvements in African education, that the special roll would never reach its upper limit of 20 per cent. in the foreseeable future.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) quoted a pamphlet issued by the Bow Group, which hon. Members on both sides received in their post this morning. It is said by the Bow Group that it approves the Bill, but wishes the special roll and the general roll to be drawn together in the Federal proposals. The hon. Gentleman quoted but did not finish the quotation, and I should like to finish it now. It says:Everything should he done to draw the 'A' and 'B' roll voters together in a community of interest and purpose. If it is logical and right that they should vote together for the special African members, it must be equally Tight and logical that 'B' roll voters should participate with 'A' roll voters in the elections for ordinary members.The hon. Gentleman quoted that, but he did not finish the passage, which said: 900(In this context, perhaps an 'A' roll voter's vote should be worth 3 votes and a 'B' roll voter worth 1)That is important, for in the foreseeable future, certainly from the economic point of view of all the races in the Federation, there must be European predominance.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to reject the Bill, but what is the alternative? I think I am right in saying—my right hon. Friend will perhaps correct me if I am wrong—that we have to have a new Measure, since the Governor-General's power to adapt the franchise for the first general election has now lapsed. In any case, therefore, we should have to discuss some new form of Constitution and franchise for the next general election. I have yet to hear from any hon. Member on the other side, or to read in any newspaper, of an alternative to these present proposals put forward by the Federal Government in this Bill.
I dwell for a moment on what I consider the most doubtful part of the Bill, and that is the effect that its passing may have on African opinion in the Federation. First, the African Affairs Board has, for the first time, as has been repeatedly said in the debate, declared a Bill to be discriminatory. Unfortunately, for the first time the Board has to be overruled. It has been overruled mainly because it has been proved by figures, which, I gather, were not available when the Board stated its case, that it is not true that the new African members from the Northern Territories will be elected by a predominantly European vote.
Therefore, I suggest that any rejection of the proposals of the African Affairs Board is in no way a reflection on any member of the Board, and certainly not on the Chairman, for whom I am sure all hon. Members have the very highest regard.
§ Mr. Brockway
Is it not the case that what he is describing as untrue of the Northern Territories may be untrue of Nyasaland, but remains true, according to the figures given us today, of Northern Rhodesia?
§ Major Wall
It may be that it looks likely that in the next general election there will be a slightly greater European majority in the voting for these members but, at present, the Africans have virtually no vote, as the voting is done 901 through the electoral colleges and it is obviously a very restricted vote.
It is very important to underline the speech made by the Chairman of the African Affairs Board in the Federal Assembly as reported in the HANSARD of the Federation of 5th August when Sir John Moffat said:The only other point the hon. Member raised was in regard to this reservation by the African Affairs Board, and his statement that I, as Chairman, had put in this request for reservation, and the hon. Member therefore assumed that I had hoped that this request would be successful. This, to my mind, is a most improper suggestion.Later, Sir John said:But I have no hopes whatsoever that the reservation of the African Affairs Board will be successful, nor have I any hope that it will not be successful. I must emphasise that the function of the African Affairs Board is to try to lay aside all their hopes and ideas and their prejudices…and consider the matter as dispassionately as it is possible…on one point and one point only. Do they consider this matter is differentiating or do they consider it is not differentiating…I suggest that the Board's reason for considering the Bill to be differentiating has now been negatived by the figures put before the House this evening.
§ Major Wall
My last point relates to the effect of the passing of the Bill on African opinion. I was lunching not long ago with an intelligent and educated African and I asked, "What do you think of the Bill?" He replied, "I have not been in the Federation for the past few months, but this is the first time that the African Affairs Board has declared a Bill to be differentiating. Therefore, it must be a bad Bill and against our interests." That is the reason that one will he given in the Federation by the vast majority of Africans unless we are very careful. That reasoning, if accepted in the Federation, could do untold harm to the future of racial partnership in the Federation and, therefore, to the Federation itself.
I beg my right hon. Friend, therefore, to say tonight that he will do all he can to put over the fact that he has overruled the African Affairs Board because of the greater amount of information about the figures of voters which has since become available. I hope that he will put that squarely before the people of the Federation. I notice that the Federal Prime Minister recently proposed setting up an 902 office of racial affairs, In making the suggestion he said:The white man and, in particular, the Federal Government were criticised for having little contact with Africans…In another speech he said that he hoped that closer contacts between the Government and the African people would foster a better understanding of the Federal principle among Africans and would give the Federal Government a deeper understanding of the needs of moderate-thinking Africans. I sincerely, hope that this new office that is to be set up will try to do that and try and explain to African opinion exactly why this Bill is being overruled, and that it increases the Africans' say in the partnership existing in the Federation.
The hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. Foot) raised the question of the colour bar. I deplore the colour bar as much as he does, but I believe that it is dying. The influence of the churches and universities, and of various societies, are all sounding the death-knell of the colour bar, and the sooner the better. The Federation has advanced enormously economically. I know that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East will not mind my quoting a phrase he used very often in Africa and in this country, that it is necessary not only to advance economically—and I am sure he will agree that that has happened—but to advance socially and politically. I believe that the social work of the Capricorn Africa Society, of the Inter-Racial Society and of the churches and the university is making real progress and that this Bill is a step forward along the road of political progress in the Federation.
I would say to our friends in the Federation, be they white, brown or black, that what is happening in the Federation is far more important than the Federation itself. Two big problems face the Commonwealth today. One is to obtain sufficient money to build up, the Commonwealth economically and the other is to make this multi-racial experiment work. Therefore, whatever happens in the Federation will have an enormous effect in Africa and may affect the whole future of the Commonwealth.
I hope that the people of the Federation will ponder on that and not approach this matter on the basis only of what is happening in the Federation itself. 903 The question is far bigger and more important. I think that they will succeed in achieving real partnership, and when that happens they will have lived up to their motto, "Magni Esse Mereamur" which, translated, means, "Let us deserve to be great".
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
The hon. and gallant Member for Haltemprice (Major Wall) seemed to have very considerable doubts about the Bill originally, and if he is entirely satisfied on the basis of the figures now given, and if he thinks that the African Affairs Board might have changed its opinion if those figures had been available to it, I must say that I do not think that many would agree with him.
§ Major Wall
Would the hon. Member not agree that that was the main reason why the African Affairs Board declared the Bill to be discriminatory?
§ Mr. Albu
Surely the point is that we do not know how the figures have been obtained and whether they justify the hon. and gallant Member's change of opinion. In particular, I thought that he did not do himself justice on this issue when he referred to the relative liberalism of the Southern Rhodesian proposals and the Federal Government proposals. The hon. and gallant Member said that when he was out in the Federation he was told that the safeguarding Clause in Southern Rhodesia was unlikely to be needed owing to the fact that the number on the general roll was growing relative to the special roll and that because of the amount of immigration that was taking place and for other reasons, it would grow even more. If this applies in Southern Rhodesia, it will apply also to the two rolls of the Federal franchise. It seems to me, therefore, that they are anticipating that under the present arrangements it will be almost impossible, even if Africans satisfy the educational or financial qualifications, for them ever to become a majority in the election of even their own members.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite really do not help with the problems in Africa when they imply that hon. Members on this side of the House want to see universal adult suffrage tomorrow. It is just not true. No hon. Member on this side of the 904 House has ever suggested that. But if hon. Gentlemen opposite support those Europeans in the Federation who defend their proposals on the ground that it will not be possible for Africans to get a majority even if they advance their educational and economic position, it is not surprising that there is violent opposition by Africans to these changes.
We cannot consider this matter entirely in a legalistic or numerical fashion. We cannot consider it apart from the general political tendencies within the Federation. One or two of the speeches opposite have, I think, exaggerated the extent of liberalism among the Europeans in the Federation. Nobody doubts that there are many liberally-minded Europeans in the Federation, but, equally, no one can doubt that the vast majority of them are not liberally minded. There are serious dangers here. The dominating political tendency in the Federation amongst those who have any political tendency is to demand Dominion status. We cannot consider the present proposals, especially if we try to look at them from the point of view of the Africans, without thinking of them as a step towards Dominion status.
The Africans in the North are violently opposed to Federation because they fear domination by Salisbury. What some of us thought when we were out there was that if they could be assured that Dominion status would not be granted tomorrow they would withdraw their opposition. I did say myself to Europeans that they should not necessarily believe that they would get Dominion status on a plate from a Conservative Government. Now I am not so sure. As long, however, as Africans think it will come in the near future, they will continue their opposition. So any move of this kind that makes them fear that Her Majesty's Government at home are likely to give way to demands of the Federal Government for Dominion status too easily will increase their opposition.
Among the Africans themselves there is no doubt a fear that the new, increased African elected members who are to be elected by the new franchise proposals, because of the way they are elected, may be supporters of the European parties who stand for Dominion status.
§ Mr. Nairn
if I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman, I should like him to understand that the Measure in question has nothing to do with Dominion status. Some hon. Members on this side of the House who have spoken today would have taken a different attitude if this had been a Bill trying to introduce Dominion status.
§ Mr. Albu
This Bill might have had an easier passage if that had been clear, but I am beginning myself to have more serious doubts about the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. If I am right, then I think that the opposition of Africans to this change is more easily understood.
One of the main arguments of the Federal Government, and one used in its note on the reservation of the African Affairs Board, and which has been used by hon. Gentlemen opposite, is that economic and social advance will increase the number of African voters rapidly. To some extent this is a circular argument, because such economic and social advance very much depends on the goodwill of, at present, predominantly European voters. It is true that African education is a territorial matter, and that higher education is a federal matter. But higher education will play an increasingly important part in the Federation. Then there is the question as to what are the economic aims which the Federal Government are likely to pursue. Are they going to aim at the development of the country largely as a mining and large-scale farming area, increasing the production of commodities, or are they going to aim at economic advance for Africans by encouraging smaller scale farming and, in particular secondary industries?
I believe that at the present time there have been signs that the Federal Government would like secondary industries because of the present dependence on commodities. This is an important matter, because secondary industries can only be built on an African market and with the increasing use of African labour at higher degrees of skill. This implies the filling of the whole pyramid of economic employment by Africans. There can be no secondary industries based on a European market, because what is so ludicrous about the situation when we talk about partnership is that we forget 906 that this is not a European country but an African country. Anyone who intends to invest money in a secondary industry in the Federation would not think of the European market, which is a quarter of a million, but of the African market, which is 7 million. Those large companies which have gone out there so far are obviously basing their activities on an African market.
At the present time there is very serious opposition to Africans learning skilled trades, in mining, railways, building, and so forth. It is ludicrous that when the trains get to the frontiers of Rhodesia they have to change crews. I regret to say that some of the more recent immigrant workers from this country are among the most reactionary people in the territory at the present moment. This is a serious thing, because if in fact the increase of Africans on the electoral roll depends on their economic advancement it is very important that they should be able to have a very considerable say in the way the economic policies of the Federation develop.
They can develop in two ways. They can develop in a narrow and restrictive way with large profits and very high wages and salaries for a small number of people working in commodities, mining and large-scale farming, or they may be developed so as to make a much more balanced economy; but this can be done only on the basis of developing an African economy quite soon and the Federation becoming an African country. This matter is of very considerable importance. For Africans will need every intelligent voice they can raise in the Legislative Assembly to put forward their arguments. If the members representing them are, in fact, elected very largely by Europeans, it is unlikely they will have this point of view.
Even if there should be in the near future an African majority in the Legislative Councils of the two Northern Territories, and even if we should continue Colonial Office rule and responsibility in this House for those Territories, there is no doubt that the policies of the Federal Government could be aimed at slowing down the pace of that African advance which seems to me to be inevitable. It is too much to expect that Africans elected by European votes and in a 907 minority in the Assembly should be accepted as representative of Africans in this very crucial political struggle for social and economic advance.
Hon. Members opposite have said that if we turn down this Bill it will have the most disastrous effects in the Federation. I do not think that is the case. It is true that we are in a very difficult relationship with the Federation. In fact, it is the most complicated Federation that has ever been established, and we must remember the limitations of our own power; but Sir Roy Welensky recently, in making one of his usual nasty remarks about my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), said that if they did not get Dominion status in two or three years' time, it would not be such a disaster. If the House is quite firm in its determination to protect African interests even if it means on occasion turning down the legislation of the Federation, I do not think the results would be so disastrous, nor do I think objectively that the Federal Government could do much about it. It might, on the other hand, give the Federal Government the opportunity to do what Sir John Moffat asked them to do on the Third Reading of the Bill, when at the end of his speech he said—and I quote from the report in the Federal HANSARD—I wish to make a final appeal to the Government to agree to try and discuss, to try to find out the points of difference, to make some genuine effort at resolving those differences before any irrecoverable step has been taken by passing this Bill at a third reading.It seems to me that that is the opportunity that we could give to the Federal Government tonight.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
First, I should like to say with all sincerity, having listened throughout the debate, that rarely have I been privileged to hear speeches on both sides of the House of such a uniformly high and interesting standard to me as a student of these affairs. There was one notable exception, the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). As she has left the Chamber, I will not pursue the point. However, in view of the high level of the debate, it was a pity that she should accuse my hon. Friend and the rest of us of "dishonesty" and "twisting." 908 That was a lapse which, fortunately, was limited to one speaker.
§ Mr. Bennett
I am not altogether surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman say that. I have no doubt that if he had spoken I should have included his speech too among the exceptions. Generally speaking, my compliment, wished for or not, stands.
Starting to speak at this stage of a debate is always a little difficult when the issue, although of extreme importance, is rather a narrow one. In those circumstances, it is difficult not to cover points which have already been well made by preceding speakers. Consequently, I propose to try to limit my remarks almost to a summary of where we agree and disagree.
In the first place, I think it is generally accepted on this one narrow point—the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) was an exception—that it is time now for an increase in the size of the Federal House. The hon. Member said that 30 members had been enough for Southern Rhodesia and that just over 30 ought to be enough for the whole Federation. That was not up to the very impressive standard of the rest of his speech. If we wish to keep Southern Rhodesia as about one-third of the Federation, it is not illogical that the House for the whole Federation should be correspondingly larger. If we measure in relation to population, area of territory, portfolios and so on in comparison with other Commonwealth Parliaments, I do not think we should regard a membership of 59 as an unreasonable one for the Federal House. I think most of us are agreed on that.
Unless I were to find some aspect of the Bill which was definitely disadvantageous towards the African. I should welcome the Measure for one overriding reason alone. Like some previous speakers from both sides of the House, I am a wholehearted and unrepentant supporter of the common roll in our Dependent Territories. Nothing that I have seen in my travels is in my view more calculated in the long run to cause racial prejudice than the artificial creation of racial blocs which of themselves must start in due course to represent any racial strains between them. 909 One has only to look at the Caribbean, where that system has never obtained, to see what much better race relations can arise when one does not have the Parliament and the parties divided into purely racial sections.
Whatever we may think of details of the Measure, surely we must all agree that it represents a milestone—we may differ as to how significant it is—towards a non-racial common roll. The point has been made—it is perhaps, the most important point—that now British protected persons in the two Northern Territories are to be enfranchised. To repeat what was said by a previous speaker, we must not minimise the importance of this. My hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) referred to the Measure as a whole as a package deal. I concur with that, but would describe it, a little more kindly, as a compromise.
Many hard things are sometimes said about Sir Roy Welensky. I think they are sometimes too hard. He is, after all, a very loyal friend to this country. I do not think we should spend so much of our time abusing him even though he is sometimes rude about one or other of us from his side of the water. I do not think, for example, he had a very easy time putting through the enfranchisement of the British protected persons. This is to some extent a compromise, and all sides have contributed to it, and none can expect to get all he wanted to get out of it.
Looking at the existing African representatives in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland with their present system of election protected and maintained, there is no doubt that the new four representatives will be a definite improvement, if we look at it on the lines of a common roll, upon what previously existed. The exact method by which the present four are elected, or as some say appointed, is now comparatively unimportant. The fact remains that from now on four new Africans will be entering the Federal Parliament for these two Territories very much more freely elected than has ever been the case before.
It must certainly be agreed that the new method of election and the changes to be made in the franchise represent a marked advance in Southern 910 Rhodesia, perhaps not going as far as hon. Members opposite and even some hon. Members on this side of the House would like, but an advance, so that in future African representatives and Europeans especially elected to represent African interests will be more freely elected. However one regards the Bill, I should have thought that all would agree that, although for some of us it may not go far enough, for others nearly far enough and for others it is about right, the new Assembly of 59 will have a much larger element of a popular franchise than the one which exists today. I should have thought that that was beyond argument. For that, if for no other, reason this is another milestone towards a common roll, imperfect perhaps, but one which should earn our support.
I want to refer to an assumption which, I regret to say, stems from most of the speeches from the Opposition benches and which it is only right that someone should refute with as much force as he can command. It is that only Africans or Europeans especially appointed to look after Africans can fairly safeguard or look after their interests, I know of no attitude which causes more resentment, irrespective of party, in that part of the world. Some of those who will be voting and representing electors in the Federation but who are thought to be not capable of safeguarding African interests were voting for Europeans in our European Assembly here only a few years ago, yet we have never seen anything wrong in having a wholly European House of Commons representing a wholly European electorate administering the affairs of coloured peoples overseas.
This strange moral attitude of some of us, that a European electorate and a European House of Commons can be trusted to look after Africans and safeguard their interests but the moment those same people of ours go overseas they cannot be trusted and are incapable of exercising their duty fairly, infuriates our kinsmen overseas. Nothing annoys and bewilders them more than that. Hon. Members opposite have said that in certain aspects of general life of Southern Rhodesia there are still many reactionary facets. No one would deny that. It has also been said that some of the people responsible for those reactionary activities 911 are often not the much derided long-established settler but, unfortunately, people from this country.
That does not surprise me, because we have no special monopoly of goodness for looking after African or other coloured interests. As we know only too well from our postbags, and no one better than the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), there is plenty of prejudice in this country against coloured people coming here even in limited numbers. So we cannot wear a white sheet and set ourselves up to say that whereas our kinsmen overseas cannot be trusted to look after skins other than white, we in this country have a monopoly of the ability to do that. We do not have such a monopoly, and the less we continue to give that impression the better.
I began by referring to my over-riding reason for supporting the Measure. It was the fact that I thought that it was a milestone on the road towards a common roll. There is another milestone tonight which is perhaps not as happy. As some hon. Members know, this is a fear which I express in every debate of this type, and I do so unrepentantly again tonight. I am deeply afraid that the impression will again spread through our Dependent Territories overseas that the Opposition are the party to look after non-Europeans and that Conservatives are those who look after Europeans. I am not attributing blame for this at all. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An hon. Gentleman says "Hear, hear." I would only say to him that it would be a catastrophe—I am not referring to party politics, because there are very few votes to be won on this issue in this country—for our Commonwealth overseas if this impression gained any more strength than it has at the moment.
I am not saying whether, in some instances, we are not sometimes responsible for that. I am not saying that hon. Members opposite are responsible entirely for it. But it is a fact, as one continually knows from reading the newspapers and listening to speeches, that it is unhappily an impression that is growing. I think the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, who opened this debate, will agree with me that an impression is gaining ground 912 that when the party opposite are in office it can be trusted to set the clock back or forward, according to which way one looks at it, to help further non-European interests, whereas Europeans must rush through everything they can while we are in office in order to further the interests of the Europeans before their enemies on the benches opposite get into office. There is no credit to be gained on either side of this House or, indeed, in the Commonwealth if that impression continues.
It is my genuine fear that should we divide tonight we shall only strengthen that impression and it will thus be one more milestone. As regards the Division tonight, without being an old hand I am sufficiently experienced to know that impassioned appeals, more rhetorical than mine, from back benchers are highly unlikely to persuade anyone not to have a Division when, through the usual channels, it has been decided to have one and the party Whips have gone out. I will not waste my breath tonight on the lines of the appeals which have already been made against a Division. We all know perfectly well that, whatever anyone on the back benches can say, we shall have a Division tonight.
I want to dwell for a little while on that one prospect. It cannot be said too often that in the Federation at the moment there are thousands of Europeans with extremely liberal minds—I agree that there are also those in the opposite camp—who are facing an extremely difficult time in the Federation during the next two or three years before 1960 and afterwards. I would say that, other issues apart, it would be well worth our considering what effect our dividing tonight and our continuing to cross swords on this issue of constitutional advance within the Federation will have.
I would have thought that there was common agreement on both sides of the House that under these circumstances there was little doubt at all that the liberal-minded leaders in the Federation will receive a rebuff. I should not have thought that that was arguable at all. They have initiated this Measure. I am glad that an hon. Friend of mine pointed out that it is not we in this Parliament who initiated this new extension of the franchise; it is our kinsmen overseas, the European majority in the Legislature out there. Those are the people who have recommended an advance of this new 913 extension of the franchise, and if tonight we turn down something which in effect will give a vote to many thousands of British protected persons who never had it before and enable thousands of those in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia to have a vote who never had it before and cannot expect to have one if this Measure does not go through tonight, we shall undoubtedly weaken the powers and prospects of the liberal-minded element continuing to maintain itself, let alone strengthening itself during the years which still have to go before the whole Constitution is reviewed.
It will be an extremely tricky and difficult time. In due course there will be a demand for Dominion status. If, in this House, we show that we are prepared to concede what is reasonable and fair, and what gives a compromise balance to all races, with an extension of the franchise to the Africans, and show that we are prepared to work with our friends, it is at least likely that the demand for Dominion status will not grow in the interval.
§ Mr. Callaghan indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Bennett
The hon. Member may shake his head. Certainly all my Southern Rhodesian friends—and I have a substantial number, having lived out there for a time—show by their letters that they are unanimous in the view that if the feeling gains ground that there is nothing to be got by moderation, for example by putting up proposals which provide an extension of the franchise, whatever happens at the next elections it will not be the moderates who are returned but those who will step up the demand for Dominion states, and who will say, with the possibility of a Socialist Government in this country, "We must hurry through our legislation and get all we can."
If we continue our present programme of helping these people to get through a moderate Measure, as we are trying to do, we have a fair chance of deterring extremists. If we do the other thing, with the possible coming of a Socialist Government in mind, which, in the view not only of extremists, will retract some of the undertakings which this Government have given, I am sure that we shall have a greater degree of extremism developing as time goes on.
914 The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East made a highly impressive speech, and if I could have had my mind changed by anyone he would have been the one to change it for me. But there was one feature of his speech which I regard as being highly dangerous from the point of view of the argument that I have just put forward. He uttered what amounted to a threat that the next Socialist Government would not be bound by the undertakings given and the conventions agreed to by this Government. In this House we are all used to the Opposition of the day saying that it will reverse a Government's decisions. It is good fun. Sometimes we keep our threats and sometimes we do not. The argument applies to both sides of the House. But the threat which he uttered will be taken overseas as being, without any doubt, a warning that if the Socialists again become the Government the worst fears of the moderates in the Federation will be proved right and the hand of the extremists will be correspondingly strengthened. In that event we shall see a growing intention on the part of our kinsmen to get free of every possible shackle binding them to this country before the Socialists gain power.
The hon. Member gave a perfectly clear and explicit warning. He said that if his party got in the Convention recently entered into by this Government would not bind them.
§ Mr. Callaghan
What I meant to be understood as saying was—and I thought that it was quite clear—that we intend to be governed by the Act under which the Constitution operates, and not by any gloss which the present Government put upon it.
§ Mr. Bennett
It was actually the Convention with which the hon. Member was dealing at the time—the Convention set out by Sir Roy Welensky in the spring. That is what he was referring to in that part of his speech, and he was saying that he would not be bound by it. I ask him now what he would do if he were a Rhodesian and read that a prominent member of Her Majesty's Opposition had said that he would not be bound by undertakings given by the existing Government. If he were a patriotic member of the Federation, would he not say, "It is up to me to drive forward and get all 915 I can while I can"? An attitude like that in the Federation is not likely to make the task of existing or prospective Ministers easier.
For that reason alone—and even although, as I have said, I know that this plea is entirely wasted—I still hope that we may not, after all, give strength to those of our kinsmen abroad who are the least inclined to help us to achieve the compromise solutions of partnership that we all want to see.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I rise for a few moments to make only one point. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) said that he had listened to a debate on an exceedingly high level. That was before he spoke. The hon. Member has once more dragged in the stupid idea that the Labour Party is a party for the African Congress and that as soon as we get into power we shall sponsor an African nationalism. This is not so. It is hon. Members like himself, who make such speeches, who nurture this idea. To show how wrong it is, I want to quote a letter which I have received from one of the leaders of the new Constitution Party in Northern Rhodesia.
When I was out there, I constantly met the idea that we were the so-called African party while the Conservative Party would look after the Europeans. That is a complete fabrication. With my Labour colleagues on the last delegation out there, I did my best to scotch the idea that the Labour movement was out to give the Africans a system of one-man one-vote as soon as we were in power. It was time that it was scotched.
This is what was said in the letter written by the leader of the new Constitution Party:The recent sayings of English Labour M.P.s supporting a qualified franchise as a step towards universal adult franchise is so realistic that it gains wide support amongst moderate people.We as a party stand for ultimate universal franchise in the African State, but at the moment we stand for a very qualified franchise. Hon. Members opposite have smeared the Labour Party by saying that we shall give a blank cheque to African nationals. That is not so.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
This important debate began with a speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) which, I think, impressed everyone who heard it. He argued his case cogently; he discussed the Constitution Amendment Bill in detail; he was fair; he recognised that it has merits—in particular, the merit that it recognises the protected person as entitled under the conditions to franchise without sacrificing his protected person status; and he also discussed the demerits and mentioned some of the anxieties which have been expressed by other of my hon. Friends during the debate about the decision which Her Majesty's Government have taken.
In his reply, the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations appealed to the Labour Party not to divide the House this evening, and I want, first, to deal with that point in the context of previous discussions about Central African Federation. We had long debates, we had sometimes very heated exchanges, and we had sometimes bitter conflicts, and in the end this House, by a majority, came to a decision on the Bill then before us to establish the Federation in Central Africa.
In the closing stages of the Third Reading of that Bill, the then Secretary of State, now Lord Chandos, made an appeal to the House and, in particular, to this side of the House. It was an appeal that, having had our debates, our discussions and our Divisions, and a decision having been reached constitutionally by Parliament to set up the Central African Federation, we should give it time to settle down and develop and that we should give this experiment a full opportunity, with as little controversy as possible in the House and, we hoped, in Africa, so that, in time, the advantages of the Federation might become apparent to everyone in Africa and here.
It was hoped that by this interval of tranquillity and of working together on this new experiment, to begin with the economic advantages which everyone recognised would flow from the closer association of those territories would become manifest to all and would reflect themselves in a higher standard of life, particularly for the Africans. It was hoped that they would then realise that 917 on the economic side, at any rate, there were tremendous advantages from the closer union and integration of the economic systems of those Territories, one supplementing the other.
It was also urged that in due time the Africans would realise that the Federation offered them an opportunity for political advancement—first, within the Territories, because advancement there still remained the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government and of the Secretary of State—and indeed, within the Federation itself. It was mentioned, I think specifically by Lord Chandos in that Third Reading speech, that the Constitution itself provided for the people in Central Africa and this House of Commons to have a full opportunity of reviewing the whole of the Constitution at the end of a period of not earlier than seven years or later than nine years from the day upon which the Federation would come into operation.
The plea made at that time was that during this period we should leave well alone, that we should let the Federation go on and then, when we come to the Constitutional Conference, the whole of the provisions of the Constitution would be subject to review, and proposals would come from the Governments and peoples of Central Africa and from Her Majesty's Government. Meanwhile, the plea was, "Let the Federation develop and show itself in practice as being a worthwhile experiment"—indeed as an experiment that would help us to solve the greatest problem confronting us in Africa, which is how to get white people and black people to live together on terms of equity and friendship.
I put this to the Under-Secretary of State, who asked us not to divide the House tonight. The controversy in which we are now engaged in this House did not emanate from this side. The Government of the Federation have themselves recently taken two steps which have tended to arouse controversy. First, they seek to shorten the period during which the Federation has an opportunity of proving itself. That is brought forward in this Bill, and I shall return to it in a moment.
Secondly, they have asked Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Government have agreed—as they were perfectly entitled to—under the terms of 918 the Constitution, that a Constitutional Conference shall be called—in accordance with the Constitution of the Federation—within the earliest possible period. In other words, they are not to wait for ten years. The Conference is to be held in 1960.
I therefore ask the Under-Secretary to realise that Central Africa is being brought into controversy in this House and in Africa by the combined will of the Federal Government and of Her Majesty's Government. So it is that I want to make it clear that the responsibility for this now rests upon the two Governments, and that any attempt to put the blame or responsibility for the controversy on his side of the House has no justification.
Let me now deal with the other point. We realised on both sides, whether we voted for or against the original Bill, that there were genuine and widespread fears amongst the Africans that Federation would mean two things that they dreaded. First, and everybody who knows the Central African knows this well, there was a very deep fear amongst Africans in the two Northern Territories that their lives, their land and their countries—here I am expressing their fears—would be handed over to the domination of Southern Rhodesia. Everybody who knows the Central Africans knows that there has been in the Northern Territories that widespread fear of Southern Rhodesia's racial policy, pass laws and the rest. Their second fear was that the imposition of Federation would hold back and prevent their political advancement.
When we discussed that Bill in the final form in which it was enacted, Parliament provided two things, though not in the way many of us would have liked. In my view, safeguards were weakened in the course of the discussion on the Bill. In the end, there were two safeguards. First, there was the safeguard that the Protectorate status of the two Northern Territories would be preserved and that that would be enshrined in the Constitution; and secondly, and equally important in view of the 1960 Conference—which is not a long way off—that the amalgamation of the Territories either now or in the future could not be considered unless it was desired by all the inhabitants of the three territories.
It is important to have this on record because we may be confronted with this 919 matter in 1960. Amalgamation is ruled out—not unless the electors on any kind of roll desire it, however liberal the franchise might be, but unless all the inhabitants desire it. This was made quite clear in our debates, and it was emphasised at the time by the Secretary of State. Unless all the inhabitants desired amalgamation, it could not be considered.
I should like to put this to the Secretary of State, because it is important. If amalgamation is ruled out except with the desire of all the inhabitants, clearly Dominion status is ruled out because we cannot have Dominion status which contains within it two protected States. Speaking within the terms of the Constitution and according to the reservations agreed to at the Victoria Falls conference, amalgamation is ruled out except with the desire of all the inhabitants of the three Territories.
In the meantime, the Africans have been assured by this Parliament—because the decisions at which we arrived are the decisions of Parliament—that whilst this experiment was being carried out the safeguard for them was the African Affairs Board. I have read the Reports of all our debates and we have always expressed our fears and anxieties whenever we have been told that the African Affairs Board was the real safeguard.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East referred to a speech which was made, before we had our debates in 1953, by Mr. Greenfield, who was then a Minister in the Southern Rhodesian Government and who is now the Minister of Law in the Federal Government. He said that if the Africans get on to the common roll their racial representation would be reduced effectively in the whole of the House. I raised this matter and mentioned the fears which had been expressed to me about that speech, and the then Minister of State for Colonial Affairs said that that is what the African Affairs Board was for; it is to prevent it.
That is one instance. I can give others to show quite clearly that in 1953 when we discussed this matter the African Affairs Board was held out to the Africans as their shield and protector. This is the issue as I see it. The issue relates not to the details of the Bill or to its merits or demerits. The central 920 issue among the African people in these three Territories will be that the African Affairs Board, which they were always led to believe would be their shield and protector, has for the first time reserved a Measure for consideration by Her Majesty's Government. Among African people, this will be the central issue, and I ask the House to appreciate its vital importance.
The African Affairs Board has considered the matter. The essential points which the Board brings out in its report are contained in paragraphs 1 (i) and (k) and paragraph 3, all on page 5 of the White Paper. The Board is of opinionthat the removal of half the African members representative of the Protectorates from the provisions of article 13 of the Constitution and the provision that they shall come within the same category as the Africans from Southern Rhodesia…has the effect mentioned in paragraph 1 (h) above.That is, a "differentiating measure ".
I ask the House to remember and to reflect upon that reference to Southern Rhodesia. When Federation began, Southern Rhodesia insisted upon electing its African members into the Federal Parliament upon its own electoral roll, which is overwhelmingly European. The African Affairs Board points out that, in the minds of Africans, the proposal now before us will mean that Africans in the Northern Territories are to be elected in the same way as Africans have been elected in Southern Rhodesia. I do not want to use the term "stooge". I will put it another way. Africans in the Northern Territories have never accepted the African members in Southern Rhodesia as being representative of Africans in Southern Rhodesia. That is the essential feature, and that is the first point the Board makes.
The next point is in sub-paragraph (k):The Minister of Law confirmed during the Committee Stage of the Bill that, whereas in the present constitution, Africans in the Protectorates control absolutely four African members in a House of thirty-five, under the Constitution as amended, they will control absolutely four African members in a House of fifty-nine.Therefore, the Board thinks that the absolute control by Africans of members will be proportionately so much less under the new Constitution than under the old.
921 The third point is made in paragraph 3. The Board, as has been said already in this debate, welcomes any proposal, including this one, for taking steps—to use its own words—to ensure thatracial representation should wither away as rapidly as possible".What the Board says, however, is this. It uses a term which I hope we have all recognised as very significant, saying that, while racial representation remains, it is essential that it shall be "honest racial representation", in other words, that it shall be racial representation which is really representative of Africans and not of Europeans.
I know that the Under-Secretary would reply to that that the special roll providing for new African members being elected will contain a majority, or, if not a majority, a very substantial proportion of Africans. He gave some estimates. I suggest to the Under-Secretary and to the right hon. Gentleman that the members of the African Affairs Board are in a better position than I am, are in a better position than the Under-Secretary, and are in a better position than the Secretary of State, to estimate wheher there is a real fear that the African representatives will become European-dominated and not African-dominated.
If the figures prove the contrary, were they put to the African Affairs Board? The African Affairs Board is composed of responsible people. It is headed by one of the most distinguished Europeans in Africa, Sir John Moffat, who represents one of the great traditions of Africa, a kinsman of Dr. Moffat, the missionary, and of Dr. Livingstone. He is Chairman of the Board, having served under successive Governments and Secretaries of State as the European representing Africans upon Legislative Council in Northern Rhodesia. He is now one of the members in the Federal Parliament. He is the Chairman of the African Affairs Board. I and many hon. Members know him. He is not a racialist one way or the other. He is a man who is desperately anxious and has worked hard to bring about racial co-operation and unity and to create a society in which the races will live together on terms of amity and equality in Central Africa.
Sir John Moffat is the Chairman of the African Affairs Board and he expresses this anxiety. My hon. Friend 922 the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) quoted from the Third Reading of the Bill in the Federal Parliament before it came before the African Affairs Board. He quoted from a speech by Sir John Moffat on Third Reading in which Sir John pleaded to the Federal Government—I quote from memory—"Before you take the final irrevocable step, let us come together and discuss this matter and find out whether we can agree." He was speaking in the full knowledge that after the Bill had obtained its Third Reading and after it had been carried, as it was carried by a narrow majority from the constitutional viewpoint—one vote over two-thirds—it would then fall to him as Chairman of the African Affairs Board to consider the Measure and whether the Board should use its powers to refer it to the Governor and for the Governor to refer it to the Secretary of State and to this Parliament for consideration.
Why did not the Federal Government respond to Sir John Moffat's appeal? Why did they not postpone the Third Reading? Why all the hurry about this? My hon. Friend has already asked that question. The only answer we have had is that there was a danger that unless the Federal Parliament was expanded Ministers might be in a majority in the Federal Parliament. Are we really taking a step of this kind and rushing this thing through for the petty reason that it is necessary to increase the Federal Parliament, with all the consequences that would flow, for that purpose? Apparently, for all we know, the Federal Government did not respond to Sir John Moffat's plea to have discussions before taking the final step.
Her Majesty's Government have not yet taken the final step. This Parliament has not done so. If the Federal Government refuses to discuss the matter with Sir John Moffat, will Her Majesty's Government do so? Why not? The Government say that they do not want a Division. Whichever way we act, if the Government carry out their intention, the message that goes to Africa—this is how it will be interpreted—is that the African Affairs Board, upon which the Africans have rested for their safeguards, has on the first occasion that it has sought to protect them been set aside by Her Majesty's Government. That is the crucial issue.
The Under-Secretary said that Her Majesty's Government were not under any 923 obligation to accept automatically the fiat or the decision of the African Affairs Board—of course not. All that the Board can do is to express an opinion. It did express an opinion. It is under a solemn duty in the Constitution to do so. Members of the Board expressed that opinion before they did so as a Board. The Chairman expressed it in Parliament and the Federal Government rejected his proposals for consultation. The Board now expresses its opinion to Her Majesty's Government.
I am making a reasonable proposition, and I am offering the Government the way out. Let them withdraw the Order for the time being. Why not? If they withdraw the Order and agree to have discussions with Sir John Moffat and the African Affairs Board, we can have another debate when we have heard from them, in amplification of their Report, what are their anxieties. That will save us from dividing tonight. It will save the Government from having after only four years to turn down the African Affairs Board.
I was last in Central Africa, but only for a couple of days, in 1954, but some of my hon. Friends have been there since then. However, there is no question, it is clear from abundant proof, that, taking the Territories as a whole, the closer association has indeed led to greater and intensified economic development. But, in the political scene, the fears are still there, mistrust is still there. The Federal Government have not won the confidence of the Africans. I do not think anyone in Central Africa will claim they have. No one I have met will. Therefore, although there are economic advantages in the Federation the fears are still there. If our Motion here tonight is defeated, what the House will be doing will add to those fears.
There has been some talk in this debate that the Conservative Party is coming to be regarded as the protector of the whites and the Labour Party as the protector of the blacks. Sometimes that is our responsibility and our fault. I do not want to enter into a debate upon that. I do not get worried, and I do not think that my hon. and right hon. Friends get worried by the fact that Sir Roy Welensky makes attacks on the Labour Party, but I would ask him to realise 924 what, when he makes attacks on the Labour Party, the effect is on the Africans. Does he not realise, does the Secretary of State not realise, that if he attacks the Labour Party, then, by that very fact, the Africans are driven to think that we, the Labour Party, are their protectors, and the Africans at the same time are driven to think that the Conservative Party is the white man's protector?
Most of the speeches which have been controversial from the beginning of this problem have come from the other side. Almost as soon as the Labour Government were defeated in 1951 Sir Godfrey Huggins in Central Africa declared, "We have a realistic Government in Great Britain now." What was the effect of that upon the Africans, does he think? I can quite understand that for political reasons things like that may be said, but what is their effect upon the Africans? What is the effect upon the Africans when Sir Roy Welensky attacks the Labour Party?
If the House tonight votes our Motion down and sets aside the African Affairs Board and confirms this Bill, whatever its merits, whatever its demerits, we shall thus send a message out which the Africans will interpret as meaning that the safeguard written for them into the Constitution is no safeguard at all, that it has been whittled away, overthrown by the Government. That indeed would do far greater damage to our relationships to Africa than the mere fact of our having a Vote in this House.
There is a way in which we can avoid casting that vote, a way by which the Government can avoid turning down the African Affairs Board. It is to withdraw this Order for the time being, consult the African Affairs Board, take time, and come back and report to this House. That is the way, if the Government want to avoid a vote. The ball is at their feet. Let them take this opportunity now.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), in his opening speech, used words rather to the effect that this Bill of the Federal Parliament represented one step along the road to handing over the United Kingdom Government's control of the Northern Territories, and I have been aware of this feeling in the minds of a number of hon. Members who have taken 925 part in the debate. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) also made some reference to the Protectorate States and to the question of amalgamation.
We have made our position on both these issues absolutely plain. In a somewhat extended but interrupted tour of the Federation, in the early part of this year, I was conscious that in certain parts of the Federation I was regarded with some suspicion as the shadow of Whitehall, a rather tall shadow as was pointed out. I did not claim to be emulating Cecil Rhodes, of whom it was said that standing on the Cape his shadow extended beyond the Zambesi, but I made quite clear what my constitutional position was as Secretary of State for the Colonies and how I interpreted the solemn undertakings made by Her Majesty's Government and, in particular, by Lord Chandos, my predecessor.
We are not concerned this evening with the future of the Northern Territories, for which I as Colonial Secretary bear a particular responsibility, or with their constitutional position, but as there seems to be some misunderstanding on this subject I think that it would be advisable for me to say a few words about it. At the time when the Federation was being established, a pledge was given and it was enshrined in the Preamble to the Federal Constitution. Let me remind the House of the terms of that pledge. It reads:Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue, under the special protection of Her Majesty, to enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desire, the said Governments remaining responsible (subject to the ultimate authority of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom) for, in particular, the control of land in those Territories, and for the local and Territorial political advancement of the peoples thereof;".I should like to remind the House that my predecessor Lord Chandos made it clear that "peoples" in this context meant all The inhabitants of those Territories, including, naturally, the Africans. [Laughter.] It was hardly necessary to add that, but I remember being in the House at the time that the statement was made and I remember somebody from the other side of the House calling that out.
This is a commitment which, as I have repeatedly said, is fully accepted by Her Majesty's Government. Apart from this, there is no commitment whatever by 926 anyone, except to hold in 1960 the review of the Constitution by the five Governments for which the Constitution itself provides and, in the course of that review, to consider—I repeat "consider"—a programme for the attainment of such status as would enable the Federation to become eligible for full partnership of the Commonwealth.
Whatever thinking aloud about the possibilities may take place, the United Kingdom Government are absolutely uncommitted. The future, it was agreed by a joint announcement in April, will be settled by the five Governments. Neither I nor my noble Friend, nor the Prime Minister of the Federation, nor anyone else, can anticipate their decision, and, in any case, Parliament in the United Kingdom will have the final say. I hope that that will lay at rest any doubt that may genuinely exist.
I have also been asked a number of questions about the internal constitutional development in the two Territories for which I have a great share of responsibility—Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I fully recognise the need to make it clear to all the peoples of all the Territories that their constitutional development will be in no way held back by the existence of the Federation.
I made it clear while I was in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and I repeat it now, as I told the House on 6th April when I came back from Africa, that the Governors in the two Territories would hold local consultations and then inform me of the views they had formed as a result of those consultations, that is consultations on the form that constitutional development in their Territories should take. I have every reason to know that both the Governors are tackling this task with imagination and with a progressive and understanding approach. As soon as I am in a position to give the House any details, I will certainly do so, for I fully recognise the real necessity to show our good intentions in this matter, and I have nothing to hide, nor have Her Majesty's Government in this respect.
I have one other point to make about the Northern Territories. My hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), in the course of which I think we would all agree was an extremely stimulating, indeed outstanding, 927 speech, referred to the way in which the present African members from Nyasaland were now elected; that is, the Africans elected under Section 15 of the 1953 Constitution.
It is a fact that for the first elections of the Federal Assembly the Government designated the Nyasaland Protectorate Council as the body which should elect the two specially elected Africans from Nyasaland under the 1953 Constitution. As hon. Members will know, and certainly the right hon. Gentleman will remember, that Council was composed of the seven representatives of each of the African Provincial Councils, together with the African members of the Legislative Council. It is a body of a little over 20, as was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Darwen.
It is my view, and it is the view of the Governor, that this is somewhat circumscribed. I think that the House should know that the Governor of Nyasaland has today promulgated a new regulation under which the election in future will be in the hands of all past and present members of the three Provincial Councils, who will be entitled to vote, and that will, therefore, increase the electoral college to approximately 240. In so far as there has been criticism of a lack of representative nature as regards those elected hitherto, I hope that this also will meet the criticisms.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, who wound up the debate for the Opposition, gave the impression in his closing words that my noble Friend Lord Chandos, in commending the Third Reading of the Bill about four years ago, had suggested that there would be no constitutional changes until the major constitutional review takes place not less than seven or more than ten years after the passage of the Bill. That was certainly never his intention.
It was never the intention to give that impression. Indeed, Clauses 97 and 98 of the Constitution expressly provide for constitutional changes. A very elaborate machinery was laid down which has been scrupulously followed. I am not in the least blaming the right hon. Gentlemen for having to express a view on that matter this evening, but I think we are entitled to blame them for having expressed their view on what I genuinely 928 believe to be imperfect information, and before the case of Her Majesty's Government, and the attitude we have taken, had been placed properly before the House.
One further suggestion has been made in the course of this debate, that the Federal Government decision to enlarge the Federal Assembly was based on some desire to prepare the way for Dominion status. I have already said something about that, but I must make it absolutely clear that the proposals of the Federal Government were based solely on the manifest inconvenience of the present Assembly. The proposals on franchise are in line with their general policy of partnership, and they have never represented these proposals as qualifying them for independence.
In answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), there has been no agreement whatever with the Federal Government on the subject of a change of constitutional status since April of this year. A statement was issued on 27th April which the House will remember. Since then, there has been no agreement of any kind. I am well aware that to a number of hon. Members, in particular the right hon. Member for Llanelly, who made this point very strongly, the conception that we are in some way overruling the action of the African Affairs Board constitutes the gravest feature of this evening's discussion.
We are not overruling the African Affairs Board. The duty of the Board is to give its own opinion on whether or not certain legislation is differentiating. If it has formed that opinion and consequently requests, as it has done, the reservation of the Measure in question, the decision is then automatically transferred from Salisbury to Westminster. This is the right constitutional process and it has been scrupulously followed. The Board has acted fully within its rights, as we would expect any Board presided over by Sir John Moffat to do.
If the right hon. Gentleman is right that we should disregard the details of the Bill and confine our actions solely to the consequence of what may happen if, despite the reservation, we decide the Bill should go forward, we would find ourselves in a great difficulty. We would be transferring the administration of the Territory to the African Affairs Board. 929 If I understood the right hon. Gentleman aright, his argument was that we should disregard the merits of the Bill and, because it might be misunderstood by Africans if the Bill went ahead, we should, under the circumstances of the African Board's reservation, decide not to proceed with the Bill.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I made two points. First, I understood—and the words were quoted by one of my hon. Friends—that Sir John Moffat, on Third Reading, had asked the Federal Government to postpone the Measure and have discussions with the Board to avoid this procedure. The second point I made was that the Government might postpone the Measure and discuss it with the Board, so that they could find out the reasons why the Federal Government turned down Sir John Moffat's suggestion.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I proposed to deal with that point later, but I will deal with it now.
It would, of course, be quite unconstitutional to adopt any such procedure. The rôle of the Board is clearly laid down in the Constitution. The Board reported in a letter from the Chairman to the Speaker of the Federal Assembly which appears in Cmd. Paper 298. Her Majesty's Government would not be in a position without a grave breach both of the letter and spirit of this Constitution to initiate discussions on their own with Sir John Moffat or the African Affairs Board, but we have most carefully examined the reasons advanced by the Board for the reservation of the Bill, and we are satisfied that despite the arguments that they have used it is in the general interests of the, Federation and of the African population as well to proceed with the Bill.
The hon. Lady for Flint, East (Mrs. White) raised a point which excited some anxiety in the mind of my hon. Friend the Member for Darwen. This was the proposal that as and when, after a general election, African representatives appear among the 44 elected members with effect from the next general election, the number of elected members should be increased and the numbers of African interests should be correspondingly reduced. It is a fact that that particular aspect of the proposals was not adversely commented upon by the 930 Board as discriminating, but I will not make a great deal of that, although I think it is of considerable significance.
It might help the hon. Lady and the House if I give some illustrations of how this might work. Suppose that the Constitution as amended provides that 12 members of the Federal Assembly shall be Africans, four from each territory, and three members shall be Europeans representing African interests, one from each territory.
Suppose for the sake of argument, that of the 58, two Africans are returned in the two ordinary constituencies in Southern Rhodesia. I agree that this is singularly unlikely at the moment. This would mean that for the duration of that Parliament, namely, five years, there would be 14 Africans in the House. Before the 1963 elections, however, the number of elected members for Southern Rhodesia would be increased from 24 to 26 and the number of elected African members for Southern Rhodesia would be reduced by two.
Assuming, therefore, that the same two Africans, or two other Africans in two different constituencies, were elected in 1963, the number of African representatives would then go down to twelve. After five Africans had been elected from a Southern Rhodesian ordinary constituency, there would cease to be any reserved seats for Southern Rhodesian Africans or for the Southern Rhodesian European representing African interests, but the two other Territories would remain unaffected.
§ Mr. Callaghan
If all the members voted for by those on the lower roll disappeared, what happens to the electors on the lower roll? Are they then disfranchised?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am not sure that the Colonial Secretary appreciates the point. There is a lower roll, a special roll, of people below qualification who vote for these members. If Africans are elected on the higher roll so that the lower roll members disappear, surely the effect of this proposal is to disfranchise thousands of Africans who are now voting for Africans on the lower roll.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
By the time we reach the happy development when an African is elected on the ordinary roll on his own merits, and does not need the protection of the selected African seats, it is reasonable to assume that the economic and educational advance of Africans will have lifted them from the selected roll on to the general roll.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East made a point in her speech and in her letter which appeared today in the Manchester Guardian. In her letter to the Manchester Guardian she suggested that there might be a sinister conspiracy under which Africans would be put up for the seats and then a bribe, or something of that kind, would be administered and they would agree to stand down next time. Meanwhile, the other seats would have been abolished.
I would remind her that it must be remembered that when an African is elected to an ordinary constituency the number of special seats is not reduced until the next Parliament. Thus, if the "Machiavellian" Europeans wished to reduce the African special representation all at once, they would have to elect 15 Africans in ordinary constituencies, and then they would have for the time being, in that Parliament, 30 Africans out of the total membership of 59. I am sure that this is singularly unlikely.
In general, in regard to the fears expressed by the hon. Lady, if the sort of motives that she feared might actuate people in this matter did apply, I think that there would be very little hope for the prosperity of the Federation. Any Constitution of this kind depends in large part on the spirit in which it is worked, and I can assure the hon. Lady that there would be no question of any such possibility being more than an interesting academic exercise.
§ Mrs. White
Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear the position of the African members under the existing Constitution—not the new one—because they appear to be included in this peculiar provision?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
They would be included as well, but by the time there were Africans appearing in the ordinary seats we should have so developed a common consciousness in the Federation that there would be no need for the 932 protection of special seats, whether under the 1953 Constitution or that resulting from this Measure.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations gave certain very important figures about the likely number of those who would be eligible to vote in the three Territories. I can assure the House that we have gone into these figures with very great care. They have been discussed with the Federal Bureau of Statistics and with the two Governors and Acting Governor-General. Although, in all such things, there is bound to be an element of speculation, I am convinced that the figures give the fairest possible approximation of what could happen. I say expressly "what could happen" because all these estimates are dependent on those who wish to vote and wish to be regarded as eligible to vote taking the trouble to register.
To sum up the position as it was left after my hon. Friend's speech this afternoon: in Nyasaland, the additional African representatives will be elected by a predominantly African electorate at the next election. In Northern Rhodesia, African and European voters should have roughly equal shares at the next election and, so great is the progress being made in education and in economic life, that it is not unreasonable to say that at the election after the next, the one after 1958, there will be African preponderance also in the special roll. In Southern Rhodesia, the Europeans will outnumber the Africans, but while the ratio at the moment is fifty to one against the Africans, the ratio will fall by the next election in 1958 to two or three to one.
Those who have argued that these proposals should have waited until 1960 do not clearly envisage the loss of opportunity to a large number of Africans in Southern Rhodesia and the Northern Territories which would have resulted from any delay of that kind. As the House scarcely needs to be reminded, there will, of course, still to the two Africans from each of the Northern Territories elected on the old system.
I have been asked a number of other questions and I will do my best to answer those in correspondence with the hon. Members concerned. I draw the attention of the House, as I was asked about this 933 by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), to the decision in the two Northern Territories when there was put to them the proposal that the Bill should be introduced into the Federal Assembly. I was asked what instructions I as Secretary of State had given to the two Governors in the Northern Territories.
When I began to draft the Answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) on 9th July, I was at first inclined not to reply, because it is a time-honoured tradition that communications between Secretary of State and the Governors of Territories must be privileged and should net be disclosed except in rare circumstances.
However, I knew the interest which the House as a whole had in this matter, so I gave the full Answer to the hon. Member which can be read in HANSARD for Thursday, 9th July. In short, I told the Governor that Her Majesty's Government had no objection to the passage of a resolution—which showed that the two Northern Territories had no objection to the introduction of the Bill in the Federal Assembly.
Finally, I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn) whether the Franchise Bill would lie on the Table of the House for 40 days. That Bill, not being a constitutional Bill, will not lie on the Table of the House for 40 days, but, in view of its great importance, steps will be taken to see that the House has a full opportunity to discuss its provisions, although some part of it, of course, has already fallen under our review this evening.
In conclusion, I must repeat the earnest hope expressed by several hon. Members that the Opposition will not divide the House this evening. I honestly believe that the differences between us about Central Africa are very small, but a vote will be held in Central Africa and elsewhere to denote fundamental disagreements. We are all deeply anxious to give Africans more political experience. Under these proposals they will have it. The number of elected Africans will straight away be doubled. We are all anxious—and no one more than I, as Secretary of State—that British protected persons, who form the majority of the population in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, should play their proper part 934 and they will have the franchise under these proposals.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield dismissed their inclusion as something which should be taken for granted, but I can assure him that many responsible people in the Federation felt that all who should vote at the future elections should become federal citizens. They felt that very strongly and had they insisted upon that, electors could not have become federal citizens and qualified for the vote without losing their protected status. The fact that that has been conceded and that they can vote while retaining their protected status is a definite advance and one in the special circumstances of the Federation which do not obtain elsewhere. I am glad that that improvement has been made.
We are all anxious that Africans in all three Territories should be given increased opportunity. In the Northern Territories, substantial numbers of Africans will be eligible at once, almost a certain majority in Nyasaland on the special roll at the next election and the probability of a majority at the election after that in Northern Rhodesia and a spectacular increase in the opportunities for Africans in Southern Rhodesia.
We are all also anxious that Africans who have qualified should get a full value vote on the ordinary roll, and under these proposals they will. If our plans for Africans advance, there should be a steady increase in the number of Africans in all three territories who qualify for the ordinary roll. Above all, I think that we are all anxious to move away from purely racial representation in franchise arrangements. I believe profoundly, with my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong), that this is a new adventure in the endless adventure of governing men, and that by these proposals we are making a significant contribution to the political partnership which we all desire.
I would most earnestly hope that some hon. Members at least will find it possible, in this case, to see the wisdom of not associating themselves with the rejection of these proposals, but will join with us in giving these increased opportunities to many in Africa.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 245, Noes 301.939
|Division No. 13.]||AYES||[9.55 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Merlyn (Colne Valley)||Owen, W. J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Hamilton, W. W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hannan, W.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hastings, S.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Anderson, Frank||Hayman, F. H.||Parker, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Healey, Denis||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Paton, John.|
|Baird, J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Peart, T. F.|
|Balfour, A.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pentland, N.|
|Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Holman, P.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Bann, Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Holmes, Horace||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Benson, G.||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Beswick, Frank||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Probert, A. R.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hoy, J. H.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hubbard, T. F.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hunter, A. E.||Randall, H. E.|
|Boardman, H.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Rankin, John|
|Bottomley. Rt. Hon. A. G.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Reeves, J.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Reid, William|
|Bowles, F. G.||Janner, B.||Rhodes, H.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Jeger, George (Goole)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Broughton, Or. A. D. D.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Ross, William|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Royle, C.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Short, E. W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Champion, A. J.||Kenyon, C.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Clunie, J.||King, Dr. H. M.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Coldrick, W.||Lawson, G. M.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Ledger, R. J.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Smith Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Snow, J. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lever, Harold (Cheatham)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lewis, Arthur||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Cronin, J. D.||Lindgren, G. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Logan, D. G.||Steele, T.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||MacDermot, Niall||Stonehouse, John|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||McGhee, H. C.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McGovern, J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McInnes, J.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Deer, G.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stross, Dr. Barnet (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McLeavy, Frank||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Diamond, John||Macpherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Mallalieu E. L. (Brigg)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Dye, S.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Thornton, E.|
|Edelman, M.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Timmons, J.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mason, Roy||Tomney, F.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mayhew, C. P.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mellish, R. J.||Wade, D. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Messer, Sir F.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mikardo, Ian||Watkins, T. E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mitchison, G. R.||Weitzman, D.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Monslow, W.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Finch, H. J.||Moody, A. S.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Foot, D. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mort, D. L.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Moss, R.||Wigg, George|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Moyle, A.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mulley, F. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||W Frederick|
|Grey, C. F.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Williams, Rev. Llwelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Oram, A. E.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Grimond, J.||Orbach, M.||Willis, E. G.|
|Hale, Leslie||Oswald, T.|
|Winterbottom, Richard||Yates, W. (Ladywood)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
|Woof, R. E||Zilliacus, K.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Erroll, F. J.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Allan, R. A (Paddington, S.)||Fell, A.||Joseph, Sir Keith|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Finlay, Graeme||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fisher, Nigel||Kaberry, D.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Keegan, D.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Forrest, G.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Foster, John||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Ashton, H.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Kershaw, J. A.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Kimball, M.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Kirk, P. M.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Gammans, Lady||Lagden, G. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Balniel, Lord||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lambton, Viscount|
|Barber, Anthony||Gibson-Watt, D.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Glover, D.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Barter, John||Glyn, Col. R.||Leavey, J. A.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Godber, J. B.||Leburn, W. C.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Goodhart, Philip||Levi, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gough, C. F. H.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Gower, H. R.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Green, A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Black, C. W.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)|
|Braine, B. R.||Gordon, Harold||McAdden, S. J.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow. W.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.|
|Bryan, P.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hay, John||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Carr, Robert||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Maddan, Martin|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hesketh, R. F.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Cole, Norman||Hill, Rt. Hon Charles (Luton)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Cooke, Robert||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mathew, R.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Maude, Angus|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Mawby, R. L.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. G.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hope, Lord John||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hornby, R. P.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Horobin, Sir Ian||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Howard, John (Test)||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Neave, Airey|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Hurd, A. R.||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Hyde, Montgomery||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Iremonger, T. L.||Osborne, C.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, R. G.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. (Kelvingrove)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Pitt, Miss E. M.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Pott, H. P.||Soames, Christopher||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Speir, R. M.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Profumo, J. D.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Rawlinson, Peter||Stevens, Geoffrey||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Rippon, A. G. F.||Storey, S.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Robertson, Sir David||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Robson Brown, Sir William||Studholme, Sir Henry||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Summers, Sir Spencer||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Russell, R. S.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Teeling, W.||Willa, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Sharples, R. C.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Shepherd, William||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Oakshott.|