HC Deb 14 April 1960 vol 621 cc1481-504

12.15 p.m.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

We have just been hearing a statement on the situation in Nyasaland, which is critical for the whole of Central Africa. I want to draw the attention of the House to three territories whose situations are equally critical in relation to South Africa. These territories are the British Protectorates of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland. Their geographical position makes their situation critical, as does the political situation.

One of them—Basutoland—is entirely surrounded by South African territory and the others are, in effect, enclaves of the Union of South Africa. It is inevitable, from their geographical position, that there are two alternatives for these Protectorates. They can either be assimilated into the apartheid system of the Union of South Africa, or they can influence South Africa towards the creation of an inter-racial human society. Which of those courses the Protectorates take will depend largely upon whether our policies are weak and appeasing to the principle of apartheid, or constructive and bold in the assertion of human equality.

These territories are also in a critical political relationship to the Union of South Africa. The Preamble to the South Africa Act gave the Privy Council power to transfer the Protectorates if the Parliament of the Union of South Africa made that request. It was only because of very strong opposition in this House that the Government gave an assurance that the British Parliament and the inhabitants of the Protectorates would be consulted before a decision to hand them over was made.

Recently, the Government of the Union have not hidden the fact that they are preparing to make the demand that the Protectorates should be transferred to them. I therefore ask the Minister of State to give us an assurance on the matter; this is the first request that I shall make of him. I want him to say not only that the inhabitants of the Protectorate will be consulted before there is any proposal to transfer them to the Union, but, also, that it will be necessary for those inhabitants to give their consent. We have been warned of what could happen by the events in Central Africa, where we were content merely to consult the inhabitants. The great majority of the inhabitants were opposed to the European-dominated Federation, but we did not require their consent. It is because of that that the present difficulties in Central Africa have arisen. We desire to avoid them in the High Commission Territories.

If we are to pursue a policy which is to save the Protectorates from assimilation into the system of apartheid in the Union, there must be a considerable change in the historic policy of our Government towards them. I am not at this moment arguing from a party point of view. I can remember how, because we were ready to appease the Union of South Africa, even under a Labour Government Mr. Seretse Khama was expelled from Bechuanaland only because he had married a white woman. That is only one instance of the way in which we have appeased the Government of the Union in relation to the Protectorates.

There is now a common system of defence and that system, with the imposition in the Protectorates of much military equipment and technique, has been strongly opposed by the representatives of the people. I have drawn the attention of the House to how in Basutoland—

The Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he said "much military equipment and technique". I should like to know what information he has, because I am certainly not aware of anything to substantiate what the hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Brockway

I am thinking of the radar stations and all the arrangements which have been made by which the Protectorates can be used by the forces of the Union of South Africa both in Basutoland and Bechuanaland.

Not only in defence, but also in the economic field concessions have been made to the interests of the Union of South Africa. I have drawn attention in this House to the economic concessions of the mineral rights in the diamond industry in Basutoland to South African interests and against which the organisations of the African people have strongly protested.

I am pleading today for a new policy in those Protectorates—a policy which will challenge the whole philosophy of apartheid and which will seek to make those Protectorates models of racial equality and of African advance, politically, educationally and economically. The hon. Gentleman should have received a good deal of encouragement from the way in which public opinion has reacted to recent events in the Union of South Africa. I am quite confident that the British people would support him if this new policy were pursued in the Protectorate.

I want to ask questions which have arisen from these events. A fortnight ago, I asked how many citizens of the Protectorates had been killed, injured or arrested during recent clashes in the Union of South Africa. I received a reply that inquiries were being made. I am very glad indeed that we now have information about the number of citizens of the United Kingdom who have been arrested. We have, so far, had no information at all about the citizens of these three British-protected territories. I say to the Minister that they are protected persons under our protection. It was just as urgent to obtain information about them as it was about citizens of the United Kingdom.

I urge the Minister to assert the independence of these territories from the Government of the Union in relation to those who are seeking asylum there. I ask him today four things, and I ask him to do them quite definitely. First, that he will grant asylum in the Protectorates for all refugees from the present Administration in the Union; secondly, that he will make provision for them. When people were cruelly crushed in Hungary we made the utmost provision for the refugees from those territories; we have a still greater responsibility in the case of a country which is within the Commonwealth. Thirdly, I ask him to facilitate their coming to this country. Fourthly, I ask that if any of them desire to go to the United Nations and give evidence there they should also have those facilities.

I want particularly to ask the Minister about the cases of Mr. Ronald Segal and Mr. Oliver Tambo, which have frequently been raised in the House. If I may say so to the hon. Gentleman, his answers to questions yesterday on this matter were not at all clear. He said: Both the latter are in the Bechuanaland Protectorate and there is no objection to them remaining there. In a subsequent question which was put to him, he was asked: … may we have an equally categorical assurance that such persons are free to leave and go to any other country they wish if they so desire? This is the hon. Gentleman's reply, and I am asking him to clarify it because I cannot understand what it means. He said: …as far as I know, there is no obstacle to anyone leaving the Protectorate that he is in provided that he is in possession of the requisite travel documents. Let me add to that. It is not, of course, necessary for them to be in possession of these documents simply for the process of leaving the Protectorate." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th April, 1960; Vol. 621, c. 1282–3.] I confess that I do not understand.

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

Nor did the Minister.

Mr. Brockway

I am asking the Minister if he will make it perfectly clear that Mr. Robert Segal and Mr. Oliver Tambo can come to this country, and not only that they can come but that, as a Commonwealth Minister, he will enable them to have facilities to come. They would have to pass through Central Africa. He has some responsibility as Commonwealth Minister for these territories. Can he give us an assurance that they will be allowed to pass through the Central African Territories? If not, is he prepared to provide facilities by which they may reach this country in other ways, for example through the Belgian Congo and Ghana?

I urge that in seeking to make the Protectorates models of racial equality and African advance, we should end in those Protectorates the apartheid which has already penetrated to them. I give one example, again concerning Mr. Ronald Segal and Mr. Oliver Tambo. Oliver Tambo, because he is an African in Bechuanaland, a British Protectorate, is forbidden to stay with his friend, Ronald Segal, in the Lobatsi Hotel, because the colour bar is applied there. It is for Europeans only. Oliver Tambo must live in a Government hostel reserved for Africans. We have segregation in our own British Protectorates. It is accepted by the Government. A separate hostel has to be provided for African persons. How can we possibly be sincere in denunciation of apartheid in the Union of South Africa if we permit it to be practised in our own Protectorates?

I want particularly to refer to segregation in education. I was shocked by the Minister's reply to my Questions on this matter the other day. We have segregation in education for the different races in all these three British Protectorates. In Bechuanaland, there are separate schools for European children and African children. In Swaziland, there are separate schools for European, Eurafrican—that is, children of mixed races—and for African children. In Bechuanaland, there are separate schools for European, coloured and African children.

I say to the Minister that the experience in Bechuanaland indicates that this segregation in the schools by race is entirely unnecessary. In his reply to me, the Minister said that in Bechuanaland half of the coloured children and some of the Indian children attend African schools. There is no difficulty at all in these coloured, Asian and African children being taught together. In addition, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned that two coloured children attend a European school. I was aware of that. Those two coloured children are the children of my friends Seretse and Ruth Khama. If they can go to a European school, why should there be any restriction at all upon other African, Indian and coloured children attending those schools? I have just been to America and have seen the amazing change there in the de-segregation of the schools in the Southern States. Surely we ought not to be behind America in this matter. We ought to end the racial colour bar and segregation in all our schools.

The situation, however, is even worse than that. I also asked the Minister for the comparative costs of educating Europeans, coloureds and Africans. These are the extraordinary figures which he gave me in his reply to Questions which I put on 24th and 31st March as to the cost of education per year per child: in Basutoland, the expenditure is £34 a year for a European child and £4 14s. for an African child; in Swaziland, it is £56 10s. for a European child, £15 10s. for a Eurafrican—a child of mixed race—and £5 4s. for an African child.

When the right hon. Gentleman gave that answer to me, I misheard him and I said that three times as much was being spent on each European child as was spent upon an African child. In fact, it is not three times as much; more than ten times as much is being spent on each European child's education as upon the education of an African child.

In Bechuanaland, it is even worse. The expenditure there per European child is £77, on the coloured child £12 5s., and on the African child only £6 3s. In these territories, which are African territories under our protection, we are not only applying segregation in education; we are spending £77 per year on the European child and only £6 3s. on the African child.

I want to give other Members an opportunity to speak, and, therefore, I am not going into details on education generally. However, I should like to point out that there are many African children, particularly in Bechuanaland and Swaziland, who have no opportunity even for primary education. The position about secondary education is appalling. In answer to my hon. Friend, the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson), on 14th March, the Minister said that in Basutoland, which is the best of the three territories, of 62,000 children between 15 and 19 years of age, only 2,800 are receiving education at secondary level.

I put it to the Minister that it will be impossible to build up these territories so that they become self-governing, so that the African people are able to take part in administration, unless secondary education is rapidly extended there. The Surridge Report last year shows that only 17 Africans in all these three territories are in the professional, administrative and educational sections of the public service in which Europeans serve.

Finally, on economics, I wish to emphasise the poverty of these people. It is a little humiliating to find that they must go to the Union of South Africa to seek a livelihood. My figures are approximate, for it is difficult to obtain exact figures, but I believe that there are 10,000 Africans from Swaziland who have gone to the Union for a livelihood, 25,000 from Bechuanaland and 65,000 from Basutoland. This is partly because they have been agricultural territories, but now minerals are being discovered. Asbestos is to be found in Swaziland, diamonds in Basutoland, and copper, coal, gold and silver in Bechuanaland. I ask the Minister to determine that the conditions which exist in Johannesburg and the Union of South Africa generally shall not be repeated in those territories.

I admit that wages are comparatively high in the Union. They should be still higher in our own Protectorates. In the Union, an African is not allowed to do a skilled job. From the very first, in our own Protectorates, the Africans must be trained for skilled jobs. In the Union, Africans are not allowed any trade union for negotiating purposes. From the beginning we must have trade unions in the British Protectorates, with full negotiating rights. In the Union, there are shanty towns or the new towns miles away from the Africans' place of work. In the Protectorates, we must have good housing estates near the peoples' work, with schools and clinics. We must build a new civilisation. Otherwise, we are likely to repeat in those Protectorates the horrors of our own Industrial Revolution and the horrors which are associated with the mining industry in the Union of South Africa.

I have long taken the view that the most effective way in which we can influence the Union of South Africa to accept new policies, to end apartheid, would be to make our own Protectorates in Africa examples of racial equality and of the advance of the African people. I plead that that shall be done. Do those things, and the Protectorates will create the pattern of the future South Africa. Fail to do those things, and South Africa will determine the pattern of the Protectorates.

12.40 p.m.

Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) on raising this subject and upon the way in which he has, over the years, consistently worked for the improvement of conditions in the High Commission Territories. His case has gained a new urgency and significance as a result of the awful events taking place in the Union, which all of us in the House, without exception, deeply deplore.

We have had from the Minister of Justice in the Union, Mr. Erasmus, the statement that the Government there intend to send away all Africans who are surplus to their requirements. This will mean that many of the British-protected persons from the three High Commission Territories who have gone into the Union to seek employment will, during the next few months and years, be sent back to their home countries.

The numbers involved are very large indeed. From Bechuanaland, about 18,000 people a year go to the Union to seek employment. From Swaziland, about 8,000 people a year go, and from Basutoland, which, as my hon. Friend said, is completely surrounded by the Union, there are at the moment about 154,000 African men and women working in the Union of South Africa, about a quarter of the total population of Basutoland.

There will be a very severe strain on the economies of the three territories, particularly Basutoland, if those people are returned without preparations being made for them to be reabsorbed in their home territories. It is, therefore, very important indeed that economic development in the three territories should be accelerated. I very much regret that the Government have utterly failed to put into the three territories the amount of help, capital assistance and technical advice which is needed to build up their economies.

The figures speak for themselves. In Swaziland, during the last three years, a mere £3,600,000 has been made available in grants and loans for development of all sorts. In Bechuanaland, over the last three years, the figure has been £2,900,000. In Basutoland, the country which needs the help most because of its very large population, the amounts for technical assistance and grants during the last three years have been £200,000, £200,000 and £300,000 respectively, a total of a mere £700,000. This is a niggardly sum in the light of the great needs of Basutoland.

I ask the House to compare those figures with the figures in respect of Aden, with a smaller population. During the last three years, Aden has received in grants and loans and technical assistance £8,200,000. I am very glad indeed that that amount of money has been made available; the Aden Colony and Protectorate sorely needs such assistance. But I wonder whether assistance has gone to Aden in such comparatively large amounts because of the strategic position of the Aden Colony and the need to have a military base there for the United Kingdom and the West. If the strategic position of Basutoland had been of greater significance to the United Kingdom, perhaps the people there would have had more assistance than they have.

The grand total of assistance given to the three High Commission Territories during the last three years is £7,200,000. This is far too small. We hope that the Minister will be able to indicate today the Government's future plan for assisting the economic development of the territories. The amount which has been spent is equivalent to about one-sixth of 1 per cent. of our defence expenditure. That puts it into perspective and shows just how little regard we have had for our responsibilities towards these High Commission Territories. To give another comparison which is, perhaps, of more significance to the Minister, the amount which we have spent in the High Commission Territories during the last three years represents about one-tenth of what the Government have wasted on Blue Streak.

It is vastly important that economic development should take place. As my hon. Friend has said, there are potentialities. In Swaziland, the production of sugar can be developed and there are farming irrigation schemes which should be pressed forward. In Bechuanaland, the production of manganese and asbestos can be developed. In Basutoland, agriculture can be developed and, in addition, as has previously been suggested in the House, secondary industries should be set up such as, for instance, a blanket factory.

The amount spent in the territories on economic and agricultural developments is very small indeed. In Bechuanaland, the amount spent on agriculture yearly is only £34,000. The veterinary services there have £228,000. These amounts are far too small compared with the great need for development.

Turning to the work of the Colonial Development Corporation, work which we all very much applaud, we find that in Swaziland £9 million of capital has been approved. In Bechuanaland, the figure is £3 million. In Basutoland, the territory which desperately needs this capital, the expenditure approved is nil.

I come now to the position of the High Commissioner, which is really very anomalous indeed. He is the United Kingdom representative in the Union of South Africa. Some people have been very greatly concerned about the way in which he has carried out his duties during the last two weeks. The Questions which have been asked day after day in the House are, indeed, a reflection on the way his duties have been performed. I do not wish to make any comment at all on that matter, but what I do say is that the High Commissioner in South Africa is likely to be very fully engaged with his diplomatic duties in relation to the Union of South Africa and it would be vastly in the interests of the High Commission Territories if another Commissioner or administrator could be appointed to be directly responsible for the three territories, the responsibilities which the High Commissioner in the Union now exercises towards them being removed from him.

One of the anomalies is that, according to the statement made by the Minister of State in the House yesterday, the High Commissioner is responsible for deciding who will be allowed admittance into the three High Commission Territories as political refugees. This is a very difficult matter for him, in view of the fact that he is also our High Commissioner in the Union. The only way to put emphasis on the political and, particularly, the economic development of the three High Commission Territories is to have a separate Commissioner who can devote all his energies to speeding up these important developments in the three territories.

12.50 p.m.

Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)

My hon. Friends the Members for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) and Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) have already traversed so much ground and asked so many questions that I realise that it may be a little difficult for the Minister of State, when he replies, to answer every question that has been put to him. I therefore want to speak as briefly as I can, but I am bound to add some other questions to those which my hon. Friends have asked. We rarely get an opportunity to talk about these High Commission Territories. If we cannot have all the answers orally today, perhaps we may have some of them later.

We want to show our very great interest in the present situation and the future prospects of these High Commission Territories. It is particularly important at present because of what is happening in South Africa, where, as my hon. Friends have reminded the House, very large numbers of the inhabitants of the High Commission Territories work. It is not an exaggeration to say that the High Commission Territories, or at least two of them, Bechuanaland and Basutoland, depend economically on the employment opportunities which their inhabitants get in the Union at present. Those employment opportunities are severely threatened.

In the Guardian of 13th April it was reported that statements have been made by the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice in South Africa portending a deliberate effort to restrict the amount of African labour used in the Union. Mr. Erasmus, the Minister of Justice said—and here I quote from the Guardian—that South Africa's whole system of cheap black labour would have to be drastically revised…. The report states that he also said: The need to send back thousands of 'superfluous Africans' and 'idlers' from the cities to African areas, where they would be kept under strict control was necessary.

There is evidently a feeling on the part of the Government of the Union of South Africa that they want to become less dependent on black labour. Without going into the merits of that, we have to take account of it.

We must also realise that Africans normally working in South Africa who have other homes to go to may, in present circumstances, very much want to go back to their own homes. They may feel that it is better to give up a job of work in the deplorable conditions that they have to work under in South Africa at present, with the pass law, discrimination and the general prevalence of a reign of terror, and go back home. If there is a movement of that kind, either because of the deliberate policy of the South African Government or the natural wish of these men to get back home, the situation in the High Commission Territories will obviously become very serious. We therefore want to know what preparation is being made to meet this sort of eventuality.

What needs to be done? First, obviously, the administration needs to be strengthened, because if anything of this kind happens the need for a strong administration is very great. There must be those there who are able to make suitable arrangements to ensure that people returning home in a condition of unemployment are properly looked after, and so on.

Above all, there is the need to build up the economy of these territories at a much more rapid rate than has been done hitherto, so that they can support a much larger population. I realise that it may be difficult to improve the economy of these territories to such an extent that they will be able to give employment to all the male labour which at present has to seek work elsewhere, but it is clear that we ought to be pressing ahead as hard as we can and as fast as practicable to build up the economy of these three territories. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us what is being done in that respect.

How far has there been a survey of the natural resources of the two territories, in particular, which are the poorest and worst off, Bechuanaland and Basutoland, from which the great majority of labour goes to the Union? We know something about the agricultural resources of both these territories. The main occupation of their people is agriculture. Apart from agriculture, has any survey been made of the other natural resources which might be available to develop industries like mining, and so on?

What steps are being taken to increase the cadre of African administrators within the territories? My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough has referred to the very small number of people who have been trained to take responsibility in their own country. What is being done to extend that sort of training? What is being done to press on with the conquest of public enemy No. 1 in the High Commission Territories, which evidently is soil erosion? To tackle the problem of soil erosion and to prevent this waste of the main natural resources of the territories requires not only the application of a great deal of skilled knowledge by persons coming in from outside who have dealt with similar problems elsewhere, but a great deal of education of the indigenous population.

Is it true that the agricultural demonstration service in Basutoland is very short of staff? What attention has been paid to the recommendation which, I understand, was made not long ago by Professor Lewis, and which may well have been made by many other people that a community development programme should be built up in these territories? Much has been done in building up community development programmes in other British territories overseas. For example, some years ago I came into contact with the excellent work being done by the University of Maryland, in British Guiana. Is anything of that kind being undertaken in these territories? If not, could not we once again enlist the help of American universities which have specialised, as a result of the experience of the Tennessee Valley Authority, in community development? There is a science of community development now. It leads not only to leading a better life in the community, but to enlisting the enthusiastic support and co-operation of local inhabitants in the task of improving agricultural productivity.

I can find very little information in the Estimates to enable me to know what are the answers to these questions. I observe that the grant-in-aid to Bechuanaland is to be increased this year over last year by 24 per cent.—from £650,000 to £800,000. A similar increase, but larger proportionately, I am glad to say, is provided for Basutoland. These are described as "Expenses of administration, etc." Can we derive from those few words the belief that the administration is to be considerably strengthened? They are not very large sums of money, although the proportionate increases are great, which suggests an awareness of the problem which I have attempted to outline. What provision is to be made exactly? We should like to know, if possible.

When we look at the colonial development and welfare grants for these territories, Class 2, Vote 10, we find that expenditure in the High Commission Territories is lumped together with expenditure in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. That is about all that we are told. There is remarkably little explanation, except that, unfortunately, there is apparently a decline in expenditure on research schemes from £82,000 to £60,000. There is an increase from £1,225,000 to £1,657,000, an increase of £432,000, in the general vote for colonial development and welfare.

An increase of £432,000, if it were in the High Commission Territories, might be regarded as a substantial advance. We might say, "Could you not make it more, but at least you have done something." As, however, it is lumped in with the Vote for Rhodesia and Nyasaland, one cannot be sure whether this is so. Is this colonial development and welfare money which is included in that Estimate expenditure mainly upon the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland? I should like to know. I am all in favour of expenditure on the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but what about expenditure on higher education in the High Commission Territories themselves?

We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough that although there is a substantial amount of primary education in Basutoland and about 60 per cent. of the children there are able to get to primary schools, there are severe bottlenecks later in the educational process. There are comparatively few secondary schools—there are only 1,400 children in secondary schools—and, as we know, these are recently established institutions. When we look at the reports of the experts who have been out there, we find that there is need for greatly improved teacher training until a satisfactory standard can be reached. To improve the secondary education by providing better-trained teachers, we need a university college.

The odd sort of fact about educational development in oversea underdeveloped territories is that the roof has to be put on before the rest of the building is built. One has to start with the higher education provision to produce a sufficient quantity of teachers and other technically-qualified people to administer and carry out the educational and other administrative services in the territories.

I want, therefore, to turn particularly to the one institution of higher learning which exists in High Commission Territories. It is quite clear that the inhabitants of the High Commission Territories are now to be cut off entirely from university education in South Africa. That is bound to be so, arising from the most regressive law which has been passed in the Union of South Africa about university education.

There exists one institution of higher learning in the High Commission Territories which will now have to cater for any inhabitants of those territories who might formerly have gone to Fort Hare College in South Africa, or any other university in South Africa and which will have to undertake the job if there is to be satisfactory education in those territories. There will never be satistory agricultural and other development unless there is satisfactory education, which will have to tackle the whole job of providing the leadership in these territories.

There is one college there, the University College of Pius XII, about which I asked a Question some time ago. It is true, as its name implies, that this institution was founded by one denomination, the Catholic Church, but it has 14 nationalities and six different religions represented in the membership of its faculty. Although, naturally enough— one cannot help feeling, rightly enough —it will preserve its religious character, having been founded in this way as a religious institution, as so many universities have been all over the world, it has given what, I am sure, the Minister would regard as entirely satisfactory undertakings that if it is to develop, it will not be a proselytising institution and that it will continue gladly to enrol teachers and students from all sorts of countries and different religious demoninations. It will not seek to bias its teaching in favour of the teaching of any one denomination. The undertakings are reasonable and acceptable.

As the college has received notice that in March, 1961, it will be severed altogether from the association which it has had with the University of South Africa, we now have a special responsibility to see that it is encouraged, fostered and developed. It has not, of course, reached the highest academic standards—it does not deny this. Indeed, it is remarkable that founded, as it was, as a missionary enterprise and supported, as it has been, by voluntary funds, it has reached standards which are so high. They have received the highest praise from Professor Lewis on his visit of investigation. They may not yet be fully up to the standard which some of the university colleges elsewhere have achieved—that cannot very well be. That, however, is no reason for not aiding the college. On the contrary, it is the best possible reason for giving more aid.

At present, I understand, the college receives no aid from us or from our colonial development and welfare funds. It needs £50,000 a year to raise its standards, to improve its teaching, to develop its specialities in various directions which at present are imperfect and to recruit teachers at better rates of salary in order to attract people from outside. At present, its rates are very low.

I hope that there will not be any stuffiness about this or any suggestion, for example, that the college should reach higher standards before it can qualify for grant. In all the circumstances, it would be absurd to say anything of that kind. I hope that at an early stage it can be associated with a British university, not necessarily the University of London. The University of London is doing a great deal in the Colonial Territories in this way. Perhaps it could have special sponsorship from some other university, possibly from the University of Edinburgh, or even from the University of Wales. The University of Wales is a rather poor institution and might find it hard to tackle the task, but I am sure that it would be willing to do so.

It might also be considered whether an institution of this kind, with its special background, might not receive aid and assistance academically and even financially from a university in Canada, where there is a large Catholic population and where a great deal of sympathy for this institution might be found. At least, I hope that we shall hear from the Minister this afternoon a rather more forthcoming reply about the needs of this college than we had when I asked him a Question.

I have rather concentrated on that issue because I did not want to traverse the ground any more. The questions which have been asked by my hon. Friends about the movement of persons who have taken refuge in High Commission Territories are extremely important, as are many of the other questions which they have asked, and I hope that I am leaving the Minister sufficient time to cover at least a good deal of the ground.

1.9 p.m.

The Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)

I always welcome the occasions on which the House of Commons holds a debate on the problems of the High Commission Territories, because in the past the House has, perhaps, given them too little consideration. At the same time, however, too little consideration has been given to the success and progress which has attended the United Kingdom administration there during these last years. I am glad, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) took the opportunity of this Adjournment to raise this problem.

I am sorry, however, that he and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednes-bury (Mr. Stonehouse) took the occasion to give what I think is a completely distorted picture of the situation in the Protectorates and of the progress which has been made. No doubt their words will give great satisfaction to our many critics, particularly in southern Africa, of the progress and achievement which our administration of the High Commission Territories represents. Certainly, in many cases they will not be any contribution to the progress of the territories themselves.

At the same time, I know that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eton and Slough is one of the few Members of this House who has, over a long period, taken a close interest in the problems of these Protectorates, and, as I say, I always welcome that anybody should pay attention to these territories. He asked me a large number of questions, and I will do my best to answer some of them; others must wait for further consideration and for further time and another opportunity.

The hon. Member asked me, first, what was our attitude to the question of the transfer of the High Commission Territories to the Union of South Africa, and he referred, I think I am right in saying, to the passages in the Act of 1910 which refer to this problem.

Mr. Brockway

To the Preamble.

Mr. Alport

To the Preamble. I would draw his attention and that of the House, as has been done on many previous occasions, to the exact wording of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) in April, 1954. This is what he said: There can be no question of Her Majesty's Government agreeing at the present time to the transfer of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland to the Union of South Africa. We are pledged, since the South Africa Act of 1909, not to transfer these Territories until their inhabitants have been consulted, and until the United Kingdom Parliament has had an opportunity of expressing its views."— [Official Report, 13th April. 1954; Vol. 526. c. 966.] The position as set out by Sir Anthony Eden and the present Prime Minister is a repetition of this statement and still represents the view of the Government at present.

Mr. Brockway

"Consult" not "consent "

Mr. Alport

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will restudy the statement, when he will see that the first of the sentences of that statement is very germane to his problem, but it is perfectly true that "consult" is the word used in the second sentence.

The hon. Gentleman asked also about the position of Mr. Tambo and Mr. Segal. I did my best to make clear the position in so far as the authorities in the High Commission are concerned, that is, the Government of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and that is that there is no impediment to their leaving the Protectorate. I cannot, however, be responsible for the position that may arise in the journey forward, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in answer to a Question earlier today, made it quite clear that there was no impediment to their entry into the United Kingdom. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will study further the statement which I made yesterday—not necessarily the answer to the supplementary question, but the main statement I made, and I hope that that may be of some interest to him.

Mr. Brockway

Because of the shortness of the time available to the Minister I do not want to interrupt, but would he say, since he is Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations, whether he will seek to get the facilities for these two to pass through the Central African Territories?

Mr. Alport

The question of their moving into the Federation is a matter for the Government of the Federation, and that is not a matter which falls within the competence of my noble Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Stonehouse rose

Mr. Alport

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to continue? I have a relatively short period of time, and there will be complaints if I do not answer as many as possible of the questions that have been put to me.

Mention was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury of the position of the High Commissioner. I should like to say to him that I hope that, on further thought, he will agree that his statement—any statement—that there is any reflection upon the activities of the High Commissioner in the Union of South Africa as a result of what has been said in this House, or, indeed, the evidence of his activities in the Union on our behalf and on behalf of all those people with whom he has been associated, is, in fact, completely unfounded. There is no reflection. The High Commissioner, during the course of these last few days and weeks, in circumstances of intense difficulty, has carried out his duties with immense skill, tact and effectiveness. I can only think that it is due to the ignorance of the hon. Member with regard to the position of the High Commissioner that he should suppose there was any reflection upon Sir John Maud.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Minister of State aware that it is precisely because the High Commissioner has so many serious problems to contend with in his duties in the Union of South Africa itself that we ask that another commissioner should be appointed purely to administer the High Commission Territories?

Mr. Alport

That is a different matter. I have answered twice in the last ten days, and it has been always the Answer right from the beginning, in regard to this situation, in which substantial burdens fall upon the shoulders of one individual, that we are satisfied, after having given this very great thought, that there is no alternative method of conducting first, our diplomatic relations with the Union Government and, at the same time, the historic responsibility for the government of the three territories.

There is no other way of carrying these out except as at present, through the services of a single individual centred in the Union of South Africa. We have given great thought to this particular problem over the last two years, and we have the advice of the High Commissioner upon this matter, and we are seeing how we can ease his burden to the best of our ability, but that does not mean that we consider that there is any alternative to continued combination of these two posts.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough both referred to the possibility that there might be restrictions upon the movement of labour out of the High Commission Territories into the Union and that the prospects of employment of the inhabitants of the High Commission Territories might in future be gravely restricted.

I have seen newspaper reports of the statement of one of the Union Ministers, but I think that the House should remember that it is, I know, generally agreed that the quality of work of these Basuto working in the Union is outstanding; that, as we saw on the occasion of that recent most unfortunate tragedy in the mines at Coalbrook, a very large number of Basuto are employed in the South African mines; and that, indeed, they are regarded as being the best type of workers and the core of the South African mining industry's labour Therefore, I do not think that, so far as Basutoland is concerned, about which the anxieties of the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member were the greatest, we need have too great fears that there will be any substantial restriction of the opportunities available for employment in the Union. In Swaziland itself, I think I am right in saying, there is also a deficiency of Swazi labour. A substantial number of Africans come over from Portuguese East Africa into Swaziland. I do not think that there will be a substantial problem there.

The movement of labour from the Bechuanaland Protectorate into the Union is to some degree marginal and to some degree related to the mobility of African life as a whole which takes people from their home territories to a distance, and has done for many generations, merely for the experience. I do not think that there is a strong economic need, certainly not as strong as it is in the case of Basutoland, for the movement of labour out of Bechuanaland into the Union. Therefore, I am not as anxious perhaps as the hon. Gentleman may feel that his first reactions to it should have made me about the possibility of these restrictions taking effect.

The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East once again asked me about economic surveys. I think that he is already familiar with the fact that an economic survey of the three High Commission Territories has recently been completed under a chairman nominated by the World Bank, Professor Chandler Morse, and I hope this will be published perhaps at the end of June or possibly in July. As I understand, it is a most comprehensive survey of the economic potential of these three territories, and we look forward to having the advice and, if I may say so, the support which an authoritative report like that invariably gives to the Administration.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

Will the House of Commons have a copy?

Mr. Alport

It will, of course, be available. It will be published both in South Africa and in the United Kingdom. I should be very glad—I know that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are extremely interested in this—to let them have copies when it is available.

This is an important juncture at which a report of this sort should be prepared, because I have no doubt that, quite apart from the relation of events in the Union of South Africa to the High Commission Territories, the High Commission Territories themselves, economically, are on the move. In the case of Swaziland there is no doubt that there is very considerable economic potential. We have seen, first, the development of the sugar industry there in which the C.D.C. has played a substantial and important part as well as private interests in the Big Bend area.

Secondly, there is the maturing of the important forests there, again a combination of enterprise both private and by the C.D.C. Anyone who has seen those great forests, the great stretches of land covered by the forest trees, must feel that in Swaziland there is a source of wealth which a few years ago was unforeseen. As the House knows, there has been a new agreement between Messrs. Courtaulds and the C.D.C. to establish a pulping factory in Swaziland to process the timber as it matures, which, again, will be a great advantage to Swaziland.

I have no doubt that with the prospective mineral resources of the territory and its agricultural potential—cattle, sugar and forestry—Swaziland's economic future, if not assured, is at any rate far better than it has ever been since our first contact with that territory.

I would merely say—I think that this was in the mind of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough—that the changes which are coming in Swaziland are changes which we must ensure do not disrupt and destroy the traditional patterns of life of the Swazi nation— we fully recognise our obligations to them—and we must make certain to the best of our ability that any changes that take place do so at a tempo and in a way which bring the greatest advantage to all the communities which are in that territory.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the increase in the number of African civil servants. We are deeply conscious —I know that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary is also—of the importance of ensuring that Africans are made available to take part not only in the government of these territories, but in the Administration, not only in the Parliaments as Members of Parliament or representatives but also as skilled, competent administrators in the Civil Service. I fully accept that the progress which we have made in the Protectorates in this respect is not as quick as we would like, but the problem which we are facing there is the problem which has been faced throughout Africa.

If one is to have skilled and competent civil servants one has to have a long background of education, and education in places where no education has previously existed must start at the primary stage. We have—the right hon. Gentleman has acknowledged it—done a good deal in primary education in all the Protectorates, particularly in Basutoland.

Secondary education has followed much more slowly, for many reasons which are not exclusive to the Protectorates and are not really connected with lack of money. Higher education has followed more slowly still. I fully accept the emphasis which the right hon. Gentleman places upon the importance, first, of providing an educated, trained and skilled Civil Service, and, secondly, of ensuring that there is in the High Commission Territories an institution which is capable of providing them with the necessary education and training.

Therefore, I accept the importance which the right hon. Gentleman attaches to Roma. In his speech he set out very fairly I thought, some of the problems which are associated with this. There are problems because of its denominational nature, and we should not boggle at that fact. I believe that, with tolerance and broadmindedness on all sides and in the light of the fact that this institution has already made great progress having regard to its recent start and the difficulties which it has faced, we can help. I fully accept the obligation that we have of ensuring that the opportunity which it provides for those in the High Commission Territories should not be lost but should, indeed, be fostered and strengthened by every means in our power.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked me about the strengthening of the Civil Service. I fully accept the importance of strengthening the Civil Service not only with regard to its African content, but from the technical and expatriate points of view, because, in the long run, it is most important that these territories should have skilled and expert administrations at this present difficult and trying time. One of the objects of the grants in aid to the Bechuanaland Protectorate, as, indeed, of the expanding grant-in-aid, as I hope and believe it will be, to Basutoland, is to ensure that they have the administrative apparatus which they must have particularly in Basutoland, if I may say so, at this moment when we are engaged there in one of the most promising and, I believe, one of the most interesting political experiments in the whole of Africa.

Although I realise that I have not answered all the questions put to me— I hope that the House will understand that it is difficult to do so in the time at my disposal—I would end on this note. Within the last few weeks, quite apart from the economic problems and quite distinct from the social problems which are involved in Africa, we have seen in the political field in Basutoland, with the inauguration on Moshesh day, 12th March, of the new Basutoland National Council, the beginning of a new experiment in political advance in Africa which, I believe—this is a point which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough made—may be an example not only for us, but for others who are wrestling with this great and difficult problem of finding a means of bringing political progress along democratic lines to the African peoples.

Simultaneously with the inauguration of this new Legislature with special powers for the Basuto nation there has been the presentation to the people by the High Commissioner of a new and young Paramount Chief. While I pay tribute to the work over seventeen years of the previous Paramount Chief Regent, I would like to feel that the House, on this occasion, when it is considering the problems of the territories, would send to the Basuto people and to Constantine Bereng, the young Paramount Chief, its good wishes for the political progress which we believe the new Constitution represents, and for the Paramount Chiefs successful service to his people in the years to come.