§ [THIRD DAY]
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [1st November]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.59 p.m.
The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Duncan Samlys)
This is the first occasion on which I have had the honour to address the House in my new capacity as Commonwealth Secretary, and today we are to discuss one of the most difficult and important issues within my sphere of responsibility.
I am glad to see that the Opposition have not tabled an Amendment to the Motion for an Address on this particular aspect of Government policy. I do not interpret that as meaning that they have no criticisms to make. I have no doubt that they have criticisms to make and will make them during the course of this debate. But I do interpret it as implying that they recognise the gravity of these issues and the importance of dealing with them in a manner free from the atmosphere of party political controversy. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, I can assure the House that that will be my approach to these difficult and awkward questions.
My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has asked me to say to the House how sorry he is not to be able to be here for the debate; he had thought, perhaps excusably, that the debate might start a little earlier. As I think the House knows, he is heavily engaged in the current conference which is dealing with the West Indies bases.
At the request of the Opposition, we shall be discussing today the problems of the Federation of Rhodesia and 371 Nyasaland. Nevertheless, I am sure that hon. Members would like me to take this first opportunity after the Recess to express our good wishes to the latest new member of the Commonwealth. Coming at a time of grave crisis in other parts of Africa, the calm and dignified manner in which Nigeria has assumed her independence, and her attitude of warm friendship towards Britain, which came out so clearly during the independence celebrations, have, I believe, made a deep impression on the whole world.
With her 35 million people, Nigeria has a larger population than any other State in Africa and she will undoubtedly play an important part in international affairs. As we can see, she has already produced her own leaders, men of high calibre. These include statesmen like her Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar, whose first address to the United Nations undoubtedly made a powerful impact on the Assembly.
We can, I think, be very proud indeed of the part that Britain has played in leading the peoples of the Commonwealth to independence. There are now eleven member States with a combined population of nearly 700 million people—about one-quarter of the population of the whole globe. Not only have we given these countries independence; we are continuing to give them to the utmost of our ability economic and financial aid to help them develop their resources and so raise the living standards of their peoples. That is our answer, if answer be needed, to the empty charges of "colonialist oppression and exploitation." Moreover, the process still goes on. Before long, other British Colonies, headed by Sierra Leone, next April, will be following Nigeria along the road to independence.
I come now to the main topic of today's debate—the future of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I expect that most speakers will express their views on the recommendations of the Monckton Commission's Report. I shall have to be an exception.
The Conference which will shortly be held to review the Federal Constitution will be of critical importance. The principal parties and racial communities have already publicly expressed diametrically 372 opposed views on some of the most important issues which will have to be settled there. Since it will be the task of Her Majesty's Government to try to reconcile the conflicting opinions, it would, I am sure the House will agree, be a great mistake for Ministers here to adopt firm attitudes in advance of the Conference. I shall, however, listen with interest to the speeches of other hon. Members who will be able to speak with greater freedom than I.
On Tuesday, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked for an assurance that the delegations to the Review Conference from the Northern Territories—that is, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—would include Africans. The delegations will be chosen by the Governments of the respective territories. I can assure the House, as the Colonial Secretary has already done, that the delegations from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, for which Her Majesty's Government are responsible, will be as representative as possible and that leading personalities from the principal African parties will certainly be invited.
While it would be unwise for me to comment on the Monckton Report, there is, I think, no harm in my telling the House how I myself see the problem in the light of the impressions which I formed during my recent visit to the Federation.
It is, I think, important to recognise the nature of this problem. Basically, it is the problem of reconciling the interests and aspirations of peoples of different races with entirely different backgrounds living together in the same country. But this problem cannot be understood entirely in terms of interracial friction and rivalry. The issues are much more complicated than that. In part, they are economic; in part, social and psychological; and, in part, political.
On the economic side, there is the age-old conflict between the haves and the have-nots. A relatively small number of people are enjoying a standard of life incomparably higher than that of the rest of the population. Wherever that situation occurs, even among people of the same stock, it breeds envy and a sense of injustice. When the differences in economic standards coincide with differences in the colour of men's 373 faces, then mutual mistrust and prejudice are inevitably accentuated.
That is the economic background against which we have to consider our present problems. To recognise it is not necessarily to blame anybody for it. It is a situation which is bound to occur when pioneers from an economically advanced country go and settle in an economically primitive country with a large indigenous population. Moreover, I think that it would be unfair to dwell only upon present differences between the living conditions of Europeans and Africans. It is right to remember, also, the differences between the living conditions of the African population as they are today and as they were only sixty or seventy years ago, when the European settlers arrived.
It is one of the prime aims of Government policy in all three territories and in the Federation to improve the economic conditions of the African population and, what is equally important, to raise their standards of education. The ultimate objective must clearly be to bring these up to the level of the Europeans. It would do nobody any good—I think that this must be accepted by all—to try to level down the standards of the Europeans. The only practical effect would be to drive out the Europeans and to frighten away overseas investors, whose capital is so badly needed for the economic expansion of the country. Far from helping the Africans, it would set back their prospects of economic and social advance by at least a generation.
There is no good imagining that there is any quick and easy way of removing economic inequalities between the races. It certainly cannot be done just by passing laws. An immense increase in the national revenue will be needed, and this can be found only in one way—by developing the natural and industrial resources of the country. Anyone who visits the copper mines and the Kariba Dam or the new industries now growing up can see how much is now being done. African leaders, I believe, well understand that their country's continued progress depends upon constructive co-operation between the races. It would be very helpful if they would explain this more frankly to their supporters.
374 Then there is the problem of the social and psychological barriers which divide the races. Some are due to lack of understanding between communities with widely differing ways of life. Others arise from the practice of racial discrimination which grew up in earlier times. This is, undoubtedly, the cause of great resentment and bitterness, and we welcome, all of us, I am sure, the steps taken by the territorial Governments to reduce racial segregation in public places and to amend restrictive property laws.
I sincerely trust that the recent troubles will not lead to any reversal of this trend. On the contrary, I hope that early opportunities will be found to extend and to accelerate the process of eliminating discrimination, for there is still a very long way to go.
Finally, there is the political aspect of the problem. The African population see that political power is concentrated in the hands of the Europeans and they inevitably contrast this with the achievement of full independence by other African peoples elsewhere in the Continent. Most Europeans accept the fact that with 8 million Africans and only 300,000 Europeans the Europeans cannot expect indefinitely to retain exclusive control of the country's affairs, and that the Africans must assume an increasing share of the responsibilities of government. But European and African ideas about the possible rate of advance are, of course, very different indeed.
The grant of a new Constitution to Nyasaland and the promise of political advance to Northern Rhodesia have provided the practical evidence, of the attitude of the Government here in Britain. But I am certain that many Africans simply do not believe that the Europeans in the Federation and in Southern Rhodesia have as yet reconciled themselves to any substantial shift of political power within any reasonable time. That, I think, is the root of African hostility to the Federation which they seem to regard, rightly or wrongly, as a device to keep the white man permanently on tap and to Prevent future Governments in the territories from ever getting full control of their own affairs.
On the other hand, the Europeans are, not surprisingly worried by African demands for immediate universal suffrage 375 and dissolution of the Federation. Moreover, in the background of African political activity, there is the weapon of intimidation and a tendency to violence which naturally increases European apprehension. If once the Africans could feel assured that the Europeans accepted the inevitability of political change, and that the issue is not "whether", but "when", then I would hope that they might adopt a more realistic attitude on their side about the possible rate of political advance.
Equally, if the Africans would make it clear that they recognise, which I believe they do, that stable administration and economic progress will require, for a long time to come, the talents and experience and financial support of the Europeans, this would undoubtedly make the Europeans much more ready to welcome increasing participation by Africans in the responsibilities of government.
At the root of the problem is the absence of confidence between the races, for reasons which are understandable on both sides. To dispel some of the mutual anxieties and suspicions, to create a belief in the good faith of both races, and of their genuine desire to work together on honourable terms—that will be the main task, and a very difficult task, of the Review Conference. If once an atmosphere of trust could be created, I do not believe that the practical problems should be incapable of solution. It will call for a good deal of patience and restraint on all sides, and I am well aware of the responsibilities which rest upon Her Majesty's Government.
Britain has honourable obligations towards all of the peoples of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. We have a solemn duty to the Europeans, mostly of British stock, who went to settle there with the encouragement of successive British Governments, who brought up their families there and made their permanent home there. We have an equally solemn duty to the Africans, who constitute the bulk of the population and for whose progress and well-being we have assumed responsibility.
We respect the rights and the aspirations of Europeans and Africans alike, and we shall do our best, faithfully and fairly, to discharge our obligations to 376 them both. But it is essential that they, too, should recognise that they have not only rights, but also obligations towards one another. I do not accept that the interests of the two races are basically incompatible. With a little more realism and flexibility on both sides, I believe that a solution can be found which will offer not only an acceptable compromise but a positive gain for both Europeans and Africans, for the fact is that they both need one another.
Some may think that the difficulties before us could more easily be resolved if the Federation were brought to an end and the problems of each of the three territories tackled separately. A great deal has been said lately, as we all know, about the right of secession. I can well understand the strong feelings on this issue which are held by those who want to preserve the Federation and by those who want to break it up. I certainly do not propose to make any pronouncement on the subject today. It is far too prickly an issue. All I will say is that we must recognise that, whatever clauses one may or may not write into the Constitution, the strength and stability of the Federation must, in the long run, depend upon its ability to win the confidence and loyalty of all its peoples.
The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created because practical experience and long study showed it to be desirable. Already, before the war, the Bledisloe Commission advised that the three territories should be linked together. In 1945, it was decided to form a Central African Council with loose co-ordinating functions. This Council, perhaps because it lacked political powers, failed to secure the co-ordination that was needed. Consequently, in 1950, the then British Government initiated discussions with a view to creating a closer political association. Eventually, there emerged the Constitution of 1953. We, like our predecessors, were convinced that closer political association would, as is stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, help to promote the advancement and welfare of all the inhabitants. Whatever may be thought—I know there are differences of opinion on this—about the way in which the Federal Constitution was introduced and the way in which it has worked, nothing, in my opinion, has happened to make 377 close co-operation between the three territories any less desirable today than it was seven years ago.
If I am asked what is the value of the Federation, I do not think that I can do better than quote from the Monckton Report which, in paragraph 51, says that the main arguments for Federation are economic:First, a common market embracing eight million potential customers is much more valuable than three separate markets each embracing less than three million. Second, this larger unit with all its potentialities is very much more credit-worthy than each of its constituent parts. Third, the economies of three countries are complementary.The Report goes on to say that to abandon Federationwould cause the economy of the area to suffer a set-back from which it might take years to recover.On the consequences of the dissolution of the Federation, the Report says this—with which I fully agree—in paragraph 71:It was an expressed intention of Federation to build up a partnership between the races. … A dissolution would gravely prejudice the attainment of this aim. In theory, there is no reason why policies based on racial partnership should not be pursued by all of the Territories individually. Nevertheless, the immediate reaction to the dissolution of the Federation, both inside and outside the area, would be that a great experiment in race relations had failed.It goes on to say:To break it up at this crucial moment in the history of Africa would, we believe, amount to an admission that there is no hope of survival for any multi-racial society on the African continent and that differences of colour and race are irreconcilable.It is surely in everyone's interest to prevent the Balkanisation of Africa. Many small and weak States are springing up on the African Continent, and it cannot be wise economically or politically to add to their number. On the other hand, the Territories of Rhodesia and Nyasaland together possess the scale and resources to become a strong and stable nation in their own right. We still firmly believe that these three territories should be linked together in some form of federal association. Changes will be necessary, and they may have to be quite extensive. But I must not speculate on what those changes may be. That is something which will have to be agreed, if we can, at the Review Conference.
378 It may be asked, "What will you do if the Conference fails to agree? Will the Federation just go on without any change, will it be dissolved, or will a new Constitution be imposed?" Naturally, I have given a great deal of thought to this problem, but it certainly would not be wise for me to try to give an answer in advance. All I can say is that, if we fail to reach agreement at the Conference, all the courses open to us will be highly distasteful and highly unsatisfactory. This, I think, only emphasises the acute difficulties and gravity of the problem and the importance of doing everything possible to secure an agreed solution.
The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is not just a convenient administrative machine. It is the expression of a thigh ideal. The Federation was set up with the aim of creating a political system based on a real partnership between the races. Whatever disappointments there may have been, whatever changes may be necessary, we believe as firmly as ever in the rightness of the federal concept and of the principle of partnership on which it was founded. If we fail to find a solution, it will be not just failure of individuals or governments or institutions. It will spell failure for the hopes of all who have worked to create a civilised relationship between Europeans and Africans.
To abandon this noble objective would, indeed, be deplorable. Such an event would cast its shadow across the whole of the African Continent. So spectacular a breakdown of this great experiment would come at a particularly unfortunate moment, when the whole world is watching other quite different approaches to the racial problem in neighbouring territories. Let us make no mistake about it. The whole concept of a multi-racial society is on trial. Neither the Africans nor the Europeans or anyone who cares about human progress can afford to let it fail.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
I am sure that the whole House wishes success to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the tasks he has undertaken, particularly the one on which he has spoken this afternoon. It was interesting to hear him speak about circumstances in which 379 some of our former Colonial Territories had gained their independence. I did not recognise all the history he gave, but at any rate perhaps there is hope for something better from him than we had from his predecessors in the matter of economic aid.
When the right hon. Gentleman takes credit for the fact that Britain gives economic aid to these territories after independence, I wonder whether I can persuade him to look at something which I have endeavoured, without success, to persuade previous Commonwealth Relations Secretaries and Colonial Secretaries to consider, that is to say, the position of the Colonial Development Corporation. I will not say that there is a majority opinion on the right hon. Gentleman's side, but there is certainly a considerable number of hon. Members on his side, as well as on this side, who believe that it is absolute folly on the part of the British Government to deny the Colonial Development Corporation the opportunity of operating in these newly independent territories to the extent of putting in additional capital. Why it should be cut off we have never understood. [Interruption.] I am glad to have support, at least on this point, from the other side of the House. I doubt whether I shall get much later on. But there is a very strong view in the House on this matter, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look into it, because this is an additional way in which he could give more economic aid at a profit to the British taxpayer. If it is possible to do both at the same time, that ought to appeal to him.
The Gracious Speech comments on three major issues. There is the question of the review of the Federation, to which I shall refer later. It speaks of the Bill which it is proposed to bring forward to enable Sierra Leone to achieve independence. May I say on behalf of the Opposition how much we shall welcome such a Bill. I think that Sir Milton Margai, Prime Minister of Sierra Leone, and his colleagues, when they have been in this country, have shown us that there is every prospect that Sierra Leone will embark on the path of independence as successfully as Nigeria has done recently. As I said, 380 we shall certainly support the Bill when it comes forward.
I must say to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that we are not satisfied with the Government's handling of the Malta situation. Perhaps I ought to be saying this to the Colonial Secretary, but he is presiding at an important conference and I fully understand why he is not present. However, we welcome the new Under-Secretary of State, who had previous experience as P.P.S. to Lord Chandos. I shall have some harsh words to say about Lord Chandos later, but that does not lessen our welcome to the Under-Secretary of State.
We should like to see the Maltese Labour Party, under the leadership of Mr. Mintoff—who undoubtedly speaks for most of the Maltese people—give evidence before the Hilary Blood Commission. We think that nothing would be lost and that conceivably something might be gained if that were to happen. I hope that it will give evidence. However, we can only express our views. It is up to Malta to take its own decision. We say to the Government that they will have to bring forward their constitutional proposals on Malta at a very early date, and we hope that there will be no attempt to delay them.
I fear that the Maltese economic position is not at all well founded. I know that a great deal of the blame on the economic side attached to the attitude of Mr. Mintoff. However that may be, there are people who follow the situation closely who think that the pennywise approach of the Government on economic matters, particularly in relation to the conversion of the dockyard, has helped to precipitate some of the economic difficulties which exist there. We shall want to follow that matter up in the course of this Session, because there is a considerable amount of disquiet about the possibility of Malta securing full employment through the shipyard.
The third question is that of the Conference to review the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations said that he could not say much about the Monckton Commission's Report. I thought that he might have said, "Thank you." I remember 381 saying at this Dispatch Box, when the announcement that Lord Monckton was to head the Commission was made, that we could not have had a better choice of someone who would approach this matter in an entirely dispassionate way, and I see no reason to change my view now. I feel that especially as the analysis made is one in which I hear echoes of my own past speeches over many years, but that only goes to show that Lord Monckton is a very wise and eminent man, especially when supported by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
However, it is a valuable Report. What place it has in the Conference discussion I do not know, but it will undoubtedly stand, as the Devlin Commission's Report stood, as a classic document on the history of the last seven years and on the recommendations which it has made for the future. I accept the view which the Commission puts forward that, on the economic side, the Federation has been a success. We have never denied that, although, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) has pointed out more than once, those economic benefits have been unequally distributed; and, if there is a criticism to be made of the Monckton Commission's Report, it is that it has not brought that out sufficiently enough and that perhaps those who needed most help have not had help from the undoubted economic development which has taken place. I shall let that pass for the moment. There is no doubt that material progress on the economic side has been made since the existence of the Federation, but it is not the economic side which is the most important. The Secretary of State fully recognised that in what he had to say.
We shall not get anywhere in this matter and we shall not bring this long series of debates to a conclusion unless we recognise the truth of the conclusion at the end of Chapter 3 of the Monckton Commission's Report, where it is said quite categorically:… Federation cannot, in our view, be maintained in its present form.This is the starting point. Unless the British Government, the Federal Government, and all the other three Governments and Europeans and Africans in those territories recognise that as the starting point—that the Federation as we know 382 it at present cannot continue—there is no prospect of a happy or peaceful solution of this problem. Therefore, as this is my starting point and the starting point of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I wish to spend a little time analysing why it has failed, because unless we know why it has failed we are not likely to get the right advance and to build on our own failures.
The Monckton Report gives a number of reasons why federation in its present form has failed. There is, however, one which I think it fails to give, and I will mention it in passing because it is extremely important. As far as I can see, it finds no place in the Report. One of the major reasons why federation failed was that it was conceived by the Federal Prime Minister and other senior Ministers as a means of ridding the territories of Colonial Office control at the earliest possible moment. Because this was understood by the Africans only too clearly, the whole concept of federation, with its accent on getting ahead and removing Colonial Office control, found very great disfavour in their eyes right from the very beginning. I say to members of the Commission present that I add this to the list of explanations and reasons they gave for the conclusions which they reached.
Let us consider for a moment some of the reasons which it gave. I want to do this in a tripartite form, and I hope that it will not annoy hon. Members opposite too much. I want to examine what the Government's attitude was, what the Opposition's attitude was and what the Monckton Report says in relation to a number of problems. Let us see who was nearer to the truth on some of these issues.
On 24th March, 1953, my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) moved an Amendment to the proposal that the Federation should come into existence. He is not here this afternoon because he has an important engagement in his constituency. The official Opposition Amendment stated:That this House, whilst recognising the advantages which may be expected to accrue from the Federation … cannot approve the Federation scheme … which does not contain adequate safeguards for African interests, and opposes the imposition of the scheme against the will of the African people.383 That was the official Opposition Amendment at that time. The Government wholly resisted this view. Mr. Henry Hopkinson, now Lord Colyton, summed up the Government's attitude in a number of debates, but his general line expresses the view of the Government all the way through in this phrase:… the overwhelming proportion of the Africans know and care nothing about federation.Therefore, the Government said, unlike the line which the Secretary of State took this afternoon, "We can afford to ignore African opinion. Of course, there is opposition expressed, but it is not representative opposition. Therefore, we will ignore it. We think that federation is a good thing. We will impose it." That is not an unfair short summary of the line taken by the Government throughout those debates.
Let us see what Lord Monckton says. What is his conclusion? I quote from paragraph 33 thatFederation was imposed against the will of Africans in the Northern Territories … there is no doubt that it has been one of the greatest obstacles to the Federation's success.Who was nearer the truth? The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations said this afternoon that it is his task to reconcile conflicting views. I welcome that statement. I wish that that had been the attitude of Lord Chandos in 1953. If it had been, we should not have gone through the last seven years.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The hon. Member is quite right. The attitude of the Labour Party has been consistent throughout this matter in regard to federation.
§ Mr. Callaghan
When I have told the hon. Member what our position is he can challange it. Our position has been quite clear, and it was expressed in the Amendment in 1953, that we believed there was a good case to be made for federation. We believed that it could not succeed if it was imposed against the will of the Africans, The hon. Member does not wish to challenge that?
§ Mr. Thorpe
Now that the hon. Gentleman has kindly given way, may I ask whether we take it that he is overlooking the visit of his right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and of his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) in August, 1951, when, in the teeth of African opposition, the Victoria Falls Conference was held, with no African representative from Southern Rhodesia and with arrangements being made for the London Conference the following year? Can the hon. Member point to any statement by the Labour Party that to the Labour Government African consent was a condition precedent to federation?
§ Mr. Callaghan
The hon. Member really should look up his references. I assure him that I have looked up mine. There are references by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), when he was Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, making it clear more than once in this House that whatever conferences were held and whatever technical discussions took place, no Measure to introduce federation would be brought into this House unless it had the consent of the Africans. This cannot be challenged by anybody who has read the records, and I advise the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) to go away and do so.
§ Mr. Callaghan
In that case, the hon. Member wants to understand them. [Interruption.] I am not cross with the hon. Member. I am much more cross with the Government. It is their responsibility. The hon. Member is merely dragging a red herring across the trail.
If the Government had always taken the view, which the Commonwealth Relations Secretary now takes, that their task was to reconcile and not to impose, they would not have brought forward the scheme and we would not have had to put down the Amendment. The first thing I want to say, therefore, is that the Monckton Commission has confirmed the view that we on this side have consistently had that federation was imposed against the views and opinions of the Africans and that this has been one of the major obstacles to the success of the Federation.
385 What was the second line that the Government used to take? They used to say, "It may be that there is opposition, but it will die away when federation is established." Mr. Lennox-Boyd, now Viscount Boyd, continuously harped on this point of view. We said that our evidence was that the opposition was growing stronger and not weaker. When we said that, we were accused of stirring up racial hatred and unrest because we represented what we believed to be the position. There are hon. Members now sitting on the benches opposite who used that sort of argument.
What is the verdict of the Monckton Commission? Its verdict is that some believe that evenIf it were made clear now that federation broadly in its present form was an established fact, opposition would melt away …Apparently, that is what some people believe. What is Lord Monckton's view? I quote:We are convinced that this view is wrong … opposition to Federation which, as we have seen, was strong at the time that Federation was introduced, has gathered further strength by African disappointment in the manner of its operation.Who was nearer the truth? Was it those who said and endeavoured faithfully to report to this House and to the Government that opposition was mounting because of the way in which the scheme was being operated, or was it those who said that we were stirring up racial hatred and unrest? Some hon. Members opposite would do well to preface any speeches which they make today by an apology for some of the things they have said.
I now come to the next point, concerning the electoral legislation of 1957. In 1957, the Federal Government brought in a Measure amending the electoral law. That Bill was reported upon by the African Affairs Board as discriminating against the Africans. The African Affairs Board was an essential integral part of the Order in Council setting up the federal scheme. This was the first major occasion—I emphasise "major occasion"—on which it had reported that legislation which had been passed through the House was discriminatory against the Africans.
The Measure came to the House of Commons for approval. We considered 386 seriously what we ought to do and we took a step which, I understood from the authorities of the House at the time—I was responsible for it—was unprecedented. We opposed the Draft Order in Council. That had never been done before. We opposed it for a serious but simple reason. We believed that nothing could do more to undermine the Federation than for the British Government to overrule the very body which had been set up to protect African interests and which had declared that it was so doing. Hon. Members opposite voted us down. The Colonial Secretary was almost contemptuous in the way in which he dealt with us and certainly in the way in which he dealt with the African Affairs Board. I have never wavered in my view about that.
Some time ago—I apologise for transgressing in this way—I wrote an introduction for a very good book called Race and Nationalism by Professor Tom Franck. This is what I wrote some time ago:I believe this was the turning point at which African suspicions about federation hardened into certainty. After this it was too late to win them to the federal idea for they became convinced it was rigged against them.That was my view. What was the view of the Monckton Commission, written much later? I quote from paragraph 36 of the Report:any hope that African opinion would, in time, become reconciled to Federation in its existing form was seriously jeopardised by the electoral legislation of 1957 and the circumstances of its enactment … we have no doubt that the effect of its passage on politically minded Africans was profound.Who was nearer the truth, the Government or the Opposition? It is as well that we should get these facts on the record.
We on this side have been consistently attacked, our honour has been impugned and our patriotism has been smeared for many years by hon. Members opposite on these matters, but when we come to sot our analysis alongside the Monckton Commission, there are no major points on which Lord Monckton disagrees with the case which we have consistently putt in this House.
I charge the Government, and especially Lord Chandos, Viscount Boyd and Lord Home, with ignoring the facts of the situation, which were brought to 387 their notice and which, in their arrogance and complacency, they entirely ignored.
Although we were supposed not to be interested in this problem except for the sake of making trouble, we in the National Executive of the Labour Party issued a statement on 28th March, 1958, in which we tried to set down our considered views about the situation. I have read it again and there is nothing that we need withdraw from it. We said then:Dominion status shall not be conceded until all the inhabitants of the Federation have expressed their desire for it…Sir Roy Welensky commented on this in a speech at Broken Hill on 1st May, 1958, when he said:The Labour Party spokesmen really surpass themselves. The only way this unanimity could be achieved would be by a Soviet style election which presumably would be satisfactory to the authors of this document.One sees the technique of the smear and the dismissal at the same time. He went on to say in the same speech, which was designed as a complete answer to the Labour Party's proposals and its analysis of the situation which has been confirmed by the Monckton Commission, that he intended to press for independence for the Federation because that meant the withdrawal of the Colonial Office from any part of the Federation. He said this without any rebuke at all from Viscount Boyd.
We asked Viscount Boyd at the time to give a clear assurance that Colonial Office control would not be withdrawn. It was not until after the riots in Nyasaland that the Government could get their hearts high enough to say that. All the time the situation was simmering and the Federal Prime Minister was failing to understand what was taking place under his nose.
On the question of secession, this was our view:Africans must be assured beyond any possibility of doubt that their territories are free to opt out or to remain in the Federation when they come to enjoy representative government and can choose for themselves.What was the Government's view? "Federation is settled policy." That was Lord Boyd's view at the time. He stated it more than once at great length and great speed in reply to debates in 388 this House, overwhelming us with his eloquence. Lord Home constantly said he was opposed to it.
What are the words of Lord Monckton? They are almost the same. Paragraph 298 says:… a declaration of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to permit secession by any of the Territories … would have a very favourable effect and might be decisive in securing a fair trial for the new association.Who was nearer the truth?
I come to another matter, constitutional reforms in the Protectorates. On 28th March, 1958, we asked for immediate constitutional reforms in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and we set out how they should be fulfilled. We asked Questions in this House time after time. We raised the matter in debate. What happened? Nothing. Nothing at all, until the riots in Nyasaland, and then things started to happen pretty fast. One of the reasons why the riots broke out in Nyasaland was the absence of any constitutional means of expression by the Africans there, when they could see Sir Roy Welensky pushing ahead with proposals for a constitutional conference which would remove Colonial Office control.
Lord Monckton agrees. Indeed, he recommends something we asked the Government to do a year ago. That was to push ahead with Northern Rhodesian constitutional progress. A week before the Monckton Report was issued, the Colonial Secretary asked us to go to see him—or did we ask to go to see him? I cannot remember which way round it was—and he said he was proposing to push ahead with constitutional reform for Rhodesia. What a coincidence that he should have beaten the Monckton Report by seven days.
We said on the same date:There must be revision of the Federal franchise to ensure genuine African representation.Nothing has been done, and Lord Monckton says in paragraph 88:… we are convinced that Africans must in the immediate future have a much higher proportion of the seats in the Federal Assembly.Again, we called forthe rapid elimination of racial discrimination in both social relations and industry.This was three years ago.
389 In Southern Rhodesia, I wish to put on record what is not generally acknowledged, there has been some progress in this matter. There have been some legislative acts which, in my view, do begin to remove some of these very irritating pinpricks. Very important, there have been trade union advances not fully recognised by the Africans in Southern Rhodesia. That is a matter I will take up a little later, perhaps.
But what is the verdict of Lord Monckton on the racial position even making allowance for improvements which have taken place? Paragraph 221 says:… no new form of association is likely to succeed unless Southern Rhodesia is willing to make drastic changes in its racial policies … they should remove as quickly as possible from their laws and practices all instances of unfair racial discrimination.When we said this three years ago, when the situation was much worse, what was the reaction? The Federal Prime Minister said:The Labour Party has both feet firmly implanted in mid air.That was the way in which all our suggestions were met at that time. When I look back on the record of the last seven years, I must say that I know where I would like to plant my feet at the present time.
But this attitude has been the downfall of the Federation experiment in its present form, this unwillingness to concede that anybody could know anything about it except, of course, the British Government in the person of Lord Boyd and in the person of Lord Home and in the person of the Federal authorities. And no one else; because these criticisms were not confined to us. It was not just the Labour Party. They came from the churches, they came from universities, they came from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation of which the Minister of Power was a member, and also the Government Whip, the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble).
We made the same criticisms, and every criticism was construed as an attempt to stir up racial hatred, and it was dismissed as being all that the Labour Party was interested in. I am content to let the future decide who had the root of the matter in him, because I have not the slightest doubt, if the Monckton Report 390 is accepted as a fair analysis of the situation, that everything which the Opposition did during the last seven years, no matter what was the misrepresentation with which it met, was undoubtedly right and designed to help and not to hinder and to promote racial harmony and not to destroy it.
I come to the Minority Report and paragraph 7, because I think it is probably the biggest single issue with which we have to deal. What is says in this, and I think that this is probably the key sentence:Federation involves a political association with Southern Rhodesia. It is this that we find objectionable.I think that it is in that sentence that we find the whole dislike of the Federation summed up, and this is the reason for it. Therefore, I think that we in our turn, when we are considering the prospects of the conference, have got to look at the prospect for Southern Rhodesia.
I said before, just a little earlier, that I thought that in the trade union field in Southern Rhodesia there have been a number of advances—in matters of organisation; in training; the Rhodesian railway workers' union has recently opened its ranks to Africans; the Industrial Conciliation Act enables Africans to organise themselves in their own unions or to join a European union. There is in this field a marked advance.
But there is no doubt that Southern Rhodesian policies are still abhorrent to Africans in the two Northern Territories. And is it to be wondered at? One could name so many examples—the exclusion of Africans like Dr. Chidzero, the lecturer who has been appointed to the Federal University and who was found to have married a Canadian wife and was not allowed to go to teach there; and what happened to Mr. Patrick Matimba, the young African storekeeper who married a Dutch girl. All these are the sorts of personal relations which really matter so much more than a great many of the constitutional issues which we discuss, because these illustrations really go round the houses and go round the villages, and they are known to be illustrations of the attitude of the Europeans there, or are thought to be the attitude of the Europeans and of the Governments to these problems. Indeed, 391 there were Europeans who were denied elementary rights in this matter.
I want to Put to the Government a point on which I believe they could help if they so wished. Joshua Nkomo is at this moment languishing in London. His compatriots, Mr. Nyandoro, Mr. Chikerema and others, whom many of us know, have been in detention in Southern Rhodesia for a very long time. This means that Southern Rhodesian Africans are without any political leadership of any sort and when people are without political leadership there will be outbreaks of trouble. Mr. Nkomo is returning to Southern Rhodesia because he has been appointed president of a new political organisation that has been set up there. I ask the Commonwealth Relations Secretary if he will represent to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia that he should not arrest and detain Nkomo when he gets back to Salisbury.
I believe that a detention order was made against Nkomo in March, 1959. The same thing happened to one of the Nyasaland people who were in this country. When he returned to Nyasaland the Governor of Nyasaland did not put the detention order into force. I ask the right hon. Gentleman that he should consider the same action being applied in the case of Nkomo, so that when he goes back he may be judged not by reference to what took place before March, 1959, but by reference to the new political situation and that he Should be allowed for the time being to carry out political organisation there.
There are other things—territorial mobilisation, military occupation of African townships, the Vagrancy Act under which if one is unemployed one is arrested for not being able to maintain oneself, and last and possibly worst of all, the Law and Order (Maintenance) Bill. Was ever a Bill more misnamed? This has caused the resignation of Sir Robert Tredgold, who has said of it thatIt outrages almost every basic human right.Anybody who knows Sir Robert Tredgold knows what a high sense of public duty and responsibility that man has. He is second to none in that respect, and if a man of his responsibility, for whom I have great admiration, feels 392 compelled to use words like these, things are reaching a climax in Southern Rhodesia, and they are reaching a climax at a time when the Government are about to hold the Federal Review Conference.
I should like to ask the Commonwealth Relations Secretary whether the British Government have examined the Royal Letters Patent of the Southern Rhodesia Constitution. It would be almost unprecedented, but nevertheless there is no reason why we should not make a precedent. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this Bill needs to be assented to by Her Majesty's Government and that if it does, it should be no formal assent.
If a Bill is being presented to the Government which, in the words of the Federal Chief Justice, outrages almost every basic human right, the Government should give to the House of Commons their conclusions on such a Bill. I therefore ask for an assurance from the Commonwealth Relations Secretary that if the Royal Letters Patent have not yet been examined they shall be examined as a matter of urgency and that he should not undertake to give approval to such a Bill until he has reported on this matter, if he finds that his approval is needed.
Southern Rhodesians must choose the path that they are going to tread. I agree with The Times editorial of yesterday thatThe time has come when a total break with the past will be forced upon Southern Rhodesians by the mere course of events outside their control. This they cannot escape. But they still have time to choose the nature of what this break shall be. They have not yet lost the initiative.I think that that is true.
It is still possible for Europeans in Southern Rhodesia to step back from the course upon which they seem to be embarked. We know that there are divisions of opinion there. We know of the great disquiet that exists among many people about the path that they seem to be treading. They will have to Choose between association with the Northern Territories and their own racial policies, with all the consequences that flow from them—the increasing isolation, the undoubted break-up of the Federation, which cannot be sustained if Southern Rhodesia pursues her present racial 393 policy. They must make their choice. The choice for them is which they value the more—their racial policies or their association with the two Northern Territories. The situation in Southern Rhodesia is so critical that the British Government should call a conference, widely based, of the Southern Rhodesian Government. They should ask that there should be included in that conference representatives of all the political parties there, leaders of every opinion, like Sir Robert Tredgold, the churches, and the trade unions. Above all, the Africans should be brought in.
Let us have quiet and, if it is preferred, private talks between Her Majesty's Government and the Southern Rhodesian Government about where Southern Rhodesians think they are going with their racial policies. I believe that such a conference and such a conclusion are imperative if the Federal Conference is to be successful. I cannot conceive of the Commonwealth Relations Secretary getting beyond first base with his conference unless there has been a preliminary decision by Southern Rhodesians on where their future really lies. Does it lie in association with the Northern Territories or in isolation or perhaps some linking as an appendage with South Africa, with all the consequences that will flow from that? The Times is right. They still have the chance to take this decision.
The British Government have kept out of the ring for a long time, but the situation is now serious. Moreover, we are responsible for the Federation. We shall be responsible and we shall have to bear the burdens if the Federation breaks down. There is a responsibility, therefore, on the British Government to step in in a situation that is almost unprecedented. I throw out that thought. There may be better ideas in the course of the debate, and I claim no particular proprietorship for this one. If anybody has a better idea, let us hear it. This situation is so serious that anything must be tried if we are to avoid a second South Africa arising.
In connection with the forthcoming conference, leaving the Southern Rhodesia issue aside, I should like to see how much agreement there is between the Government and the House on certain principles laid down in the Monckton Report. They are contained 394 for the most part in Chapter 5, "General Conclusions As To A Solution". Let us consider paragraph 75. Do the Government agree that it is out of the question"—I use the Commission's own words—to hold the Federation together by force? If the Government intend to keep "mum about this—and they would be well advised to tell us their attitude—at least they should know what the House thinks. We have the right to tell the Government what we in the House think about it.
My own conclusion is that of the Monckton Report. There can be no question of holding the Federation together by force. I believe that the House of Commons should say this, because the consequences of not saying it would be of the gravest character. On the subject of the same paragraph in the Report, I should like to ask the Government and the House whether we agree that if the Federation is to continue there must be a general willingness to accept it. This is the view of the Monckton Commission. I should have thought that if we are to get anywhere at all in the difficult situation out there we ought to say that this is our view about it.
This is why I welcome the fact that the Commonwealth Relations Secretary seemed this afternoon to be stepping back from the position which has been occupied for so long by his predecessors in office of always appearing to side with the Federal authorities. This will not be the right hon. Gentleman's job at the conference and, from the tenor of his speech today, I think that he realises this. He has to move from that position back to a mediatory, central position and see what is the maximum amount of agreement that he can obtain.
The Government should be prepared to tell us what they think about paragraph 81 of the Report, but what does the House think? Is there agreement that there must be a major operation to reduce the powers of the Federal Government and to increase the powers of the Territorial Governments? This is in direct opposition to all that Sir Roy Welensky has been claiming, at any rate up to the publication of this Report. The purpose of the 1960 Conference, he has always told us, was to secure the remaining powers and to lay down a programme under which there could be a 395 move forward to independence. Lord Monckton is asking that the engine shall be put into reverse and saying that, so far from the Federation getting more powers, the only likelihood of success is if the three territories take back powers, particularly education, agriculture and so on. Is there agreement among us about that? It would be a very good start indeed if we could say that there was.
I turn to the next question, in paragraph 82. It is one of the most difficult of all. Does the House agree that there must be an opportunity for the individual territories to withdraw from the Federation? This is Lord Monckton's view He says that he does not think that there is any prospect of success unless they are given that opportunity. I believe this is right. I say that on behalf of the Opposition. Despite the difficulties which have been raised about it, despite the fact that it runs entirely counter to previous Government policy. I believe that if they want to save the Federation they have to be prepared to give up something. It is the same old story. If one opens the cage, maybe the bird will not want to fly out. I shall never forget the example of Cyprus and how we were told time after time that we should not give them the right because they would leave the Commonwealth. Who would have thought that they would have stayed in the Commonwealth? But they did. I believe there is a great case for saying—this is Lord Monckton's case—that if one gives people the opportunity of leaving, they may well decide to stay.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has some knowledge about the present status of Cyprus which the rest of the House does not have?
§ Mr. Callaghan
No, Sir; I have not. The hon. Gentleman knows that I have not. All I know is that Archbishop Makarios has indicated many times that he wants Cyprus to remain a member of the Commonwealth.
I now turn to paragraph 88 in the next chapter. Do the House and the Government agree that Africans must immediately have a much greater number of seats in the Federal Assembly and that a greater number of Africans must be 396 placed on the voters roll? This should have taken place a long time ago. How are we going into the conference? I want hon. Members to express their views on this matter straightaway. It seems to me that, even if we cannot get it out of the Government, the House must go on record saying what our views are about this question.
I have no doubt in saying again that Lord Monckton is right. There must be immediately a much higher proportion of seats in the Federal Assembly given to Africans I am not under-estimating the opposition the Government will find from the Southern Rhodesian Europeans. Of course, there will be opposition, but the Government will have to come to a conclusion sooner or later about these issues, and I want us to express our views about them.
I think that these questions, coupled with the question of the racial policies of Southern Rhodesia, are absolutely fundamental to any chance of success in the negotiations that lie ahead of the right hon. Gentleman. He said that what was needed was trust. That is true, but that is a platitude, and he will need more than platitudes and lamentations. On the African side, trust will develop when they feel that there is no likelihood of their being dominated and that federation will not be used as a means of dominating them.
How will trust develop on the European side? I find this much more difficult to answer. I have a great deal of sympathy with Europeans living out there, who have made it their home, who are enjoying a relatively high standard of life and who say that they wish to preserve the standards of administration which they always knew when they lived in the United Kingdom and to live under that sort of government. I understand and sympathise with that point of view; but I do not think that they will be able to do it.
I think that this is one of the basic changes to which The Times refers which they have got to make, and that they will have to choose the nature of the government under which they are to live. I think that their best hope will be if they will accept the same sort of situation as is developing in Kenya. I believe they will then have a much better prospect of living their lives out there and 397 earning their living in the way that most Europeans want to. They are not terribly interested in politics. At present it is a matter of their clinging to the principles of race superiority, which has dogged them so far.
The Opposition are in favour of the principle of federation, as we always have been. I agree with what the Secretary of State said when he took over President Nkrumah's phrase about the Balkanising of Africa. It would be absurd to break up these small States into even smaller fractions. I am not going to say that it must be this combination of territories in a federation, because I do not accept the view of the Secretary of State that this is a natural unit.
I must make my position quite clear. This Federation exists. Therefore, it is the duty and responsibility of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the months that lie ahead to try to make it work, and this should be his first task. We would support him in trying to make it work, subject to the principles that I have endeavoured to lay down, which I believe are cardinal to success. But I would not go on to say that the Secretary of State must in all circumstances consider clinging to this particular combination of territories. Maybe he will succeed. I wrote down a series of "ifs" under which he might succeed, and I will outline them to the House.
If Southern Rhodesia reforms her race policies, if she accepts immediately equality in the Federal Assembly with an African majority within a short period of time, if the federal powers are redistributed somewhat along the lines that Lord Monckton proposes—though obviously that is a matter for negotiation—if the right to secede is given, then I believe that there is a prospect, and I think the Africans should then feel that the federal experiment could be made to work on the basis of a free, voluntary and equal association. I am confident that it will not work on any other basis.
The Secretary of State said that he was being asked what was to happen if the conference failed. I do not think he should look as far ahead as that. He will have to come back and tell the House when that situation arises, because it will be a most serious situation 398 that we shall all have to face. He should, in my view, endeavour to act on the principles that Lord Monckton has laid down, which I have endeavoured to interpret and enunciate, and if he does that and adopts a mediatory rôle and fails, history will not lay any blame at his door. But I believe that it is certain that if he is to succeed he must adopt these basic principles, and if he does, then millions of people living in the Federation will have great cause to thank him for his period of office.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
As a member of the Commission, it would be improper for me to discuss the merits of the Report. It must speak for itself. My sole object in addressing the House, briefly I hope, is to dispel, if I can, certain misunderstandings which have arisen and thus to help to achieve the result which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister urged us to seek on Tuesday, that this great Commonwealth problem may be discussed, so far as is humanly possible, in a calm and reasoned spirit.
I say definitely "so far as is humanly possible" because I know there are many people for whom it is very difficult, and, indeed, almost impossible, to consider such a matter calmly. They have far too much at stake. Many of us in this House have friends and relations—I have some very near relations—whose life and home is in Rhodesia. When the Commission was there, we visited a large number of British families in the third generation, and sometimes even in the fifth generation. They are among the most loyal of all Her Majesty's subjects, but they are also proud to call themselves Rhodesians, and the future of their country is of the greatest possible concern to them. We must never forget them and must never overlook their point of view. I believe it is absolutely essential that they should understand that there is no truth in the accusations, which have been given wide circulation, I regret to say, in this country as well as elsewhere, that the Monckton Report is a sort of conspiracy hatched in the United Kingdom in order to destroy federation.
Many people do not read these Reports and there might even, I suppose, be one or two in this House who have 399 not read the whole Report, but certainly there are many who will read none of it and they can be very easily misled. I think it may be desirable that one should dispel that story which is a very dangerous and damaging one by just stating very briefly how the Commission was composed and just what it did report.
Twenty-three out of the twenty-five members of the Commission signed the Report. Three of those were Africans and ten came from the United Kingdom. We can leave those out of account altogether for present purposes. But ten others were there. One was the distinguished Australian, Mr. Frank Menzies, the brother of the Australian Prime Minister. Another of them was Professor Creighton from Canada, a distinguished authority on constitutional law. That left eight. The remaining eight were all Europeans from the Federation itself appointed after consultation with the Federal Territorial Government.
Let us see if they could reasonably be described—as we all have been—as "enemies of the Federation" and "impractical and ignorant idealists." Two of those gentlemen came from Northern Rhodesia. One was Mr. Woodrow Cross, a lifelong resident of Northern Rhodesia and one of the best known farmers in Central Africa. The other was Mr. McCleland, a director of the Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and a very prominent member of the trading community. Then from Nyasaland we had Mr. Gerald Hadlow, another director of the Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, a pioneer in the tea industry, a former member of the Central African Council and one of the best respected men in the whole of the Territory.
Coming to Southern Rhodesia, we had Mr. Justice Beadle, a senior judge of the High Court and a very popular figure in private life, and, incidentally, a distinguished big game hunter. Then, also from Southern Rhodesia, we had Mr. Ellman-Brown, a former Member of Parliament of Southern Rhodesia and now a prominent private banker.
From the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland there was, first of all, Sir Victor Robinson, until recently Attorney-General, Mr. Robert Taylor of Costains, 400 one of the main contractors concerned with the building of the Kariba Dam, and, finally, last but by no means least, Mr. A. E. P. Robinson, chairman of Central African Airways and High Commissioner elect for the Federation in London.
I doubt whether any of those gentlemen would recognise himself under the designation of a "starry-eyed visionary". Certainly those of us who met them and who made friends of them would be surprised if they were so described. Yet, without exception, those eight men from the Federation signed the Report in which they stated without any qualification that while they regarded it as essential to preserve the Federation association, if that were humanly possible—they believed it was—but that could only be achieved if there was drastic amendment of the Constitution of the Federation and radical changes in the attitude and policy of the Government towards the Africans.
I believe that everyone in the House will agree that those gentlemen, considering who they were, have shown great courage and integrity in acting as they did—men in their position, coming from the Federation to join with all of us and concurring in findings which must be very unpalatable to many of their friends and colleagues there, who have not had the advantage which they had of studying the problem on the spot. I can assure the House, and I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) will agree with me—we knew them well and made good friends with them—that they felt their position very deeply indeed.
Surely the presence of those men as signatories of the Report is the best answer to the very unworthy attempts which have been made to drive a wedge between the United Kingdom and the Federation on this matter. I suggest that we might try to forget such things and work together for a solution. All our energies will certainly be needed for that.
There is another damaging misunderstanding—I will not say misrepresentation because I do not wish to be controversial—that concerns the position of the Federation as a matter of constitutional law. Some people have suggested—I even saw it attributed to one hon. Member of this House, but as it was in a 401 newspaper report at secondhand I will not mention his name because it may not be correct—that the Federation's Constitution is no longer the concern of the House of Commons and that we ought to pull out of the whole area at once, leaving the control of all three Territories to the Federal Government. That is how it was quoted.
Now I come to the Commission, and I hope that the House will allow me a moment or two to quote from the Report. The Commission states the true legal position quite concisely and, as I believe, undisputably correctly in two passages. First of all, on page 98, the Commission says in paragraph 288:The Federation was established and its constitution was defined by an Order in Council made by Her Majesty under the authority of an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament (the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Act, 1953) Section 1 (2) of which expressly reserves the right of Parliament to revoke or amend the Order in Council. Thus Her Majesty's Government retain unfettered power to make provision for the future of the Federation in any manner they may think fit.Then on page 109, paragraph 334 it says:The United Kingdom Parliament has inherent power to legislate for any part of Her Majesty's dominions except in so far as this has been qualified by the Statute of Westminster. As far as the Federation is concerned, the Statute of Westminster does not apply and the overriding authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is not affected either by the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation Act, 1953, or by the Order in Council made under it.Paragraph 335 states:In the Joint Announcement of 1957 it was stated: 'The United Kingdom recognised the existence of a convention applicable to the present stage of constitutional evolution of the Federation, whereby the United Kingdom Government in practice does 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.'Then—I think that this is the important passage—it states:This Announcement refers only to powers conferred upon the Federal Legislature by the Constitution and it cannot affect the legislative authority of the United Kingdom Parliament to provide for the future constitutional development of the Federation and, for this purpose, to make any necessary amendments to the Constitution itself.And the conclusion of that, which I think is a very material matter for us as Members of Parliament here today, 402 is stated in paragraph 294 in the following words:The outstanding consideration is the existence of an unfettered right in the United Kingdom Parliament to control the future destinies of the Territories, and its consequent responsibility for considering and giving effect to the views of the inhabitants.That, as we understood it, is our duty in Parliament, and I do not think anyone can seriously dispute that that is the constitutional position.
Here again one finds it misleading, and rather sad, when these statements are put about which speak of "unjustified interference in the affairs of the Federation by ignorant outsiders". That is the way in which the sort of statement I have just read has been described by certain propagandists. It is a very unfair way of approaching it and one which I do not think the House will approve of very much.
Of course, the Government of the United Kingdom must consult all the Governments concerned, especially the Federal Government; after all, that is what the Preamble is for. But the ultimate decision is the sole responsibility of the United Kingdom Government, and we should be failing in our duties as Members of Parliament if we allowed anyone else to make it for them. To say that involves no attack or reflection on the Federal Government whatever; it is simply a statement of our inescapable duty in this Parliament.
Apart from anything else, we must remember that to hand over Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to the Federal Government at this stage without the consent of the people would be nothing less than a betrayal of the trust which is involved in the Protectorates themselves, and the Preamble, of course, reinforces that. I think it is right to say, as was described in the Report, that we found, particularly in Northern Rhodesia, a tremendous sense of loyalty to the Crown amongst the chiefs, and time and again they told us that any compulsory transfer of allegiance from Her Majesty the Queen to another authority would be regarded by them as a grave breach of faith and would be resisted to the utmost.
That is what we were told by men hundreds of miles away from civilisation. They were quite determined in what they said. I cannot believe that this House 403 would ever contemplate agreeing to such a thing at this stage, nor do I believe that the Federal Government would seriously demand it. Here again, I feel that what we must do is refute the propaganda that is being put round and which is calculated to drive, intentionally or unintentionally, a wedge between the Federation and ourselves in this country, and so make it more difficult to reach any kind of agreement.
Finally, I want to say something about the terms of reference. I can only confirm my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's statement that the Commission had nothing from him or anyone else except the terms of reference. It was for us, as it always is for any Commission, arbitrator, inquiry or tribunal of any kind, to construe our own terms of reference. Unless we had some doubt about what they meant we had no right to refer to anyone else, and we had not the slightest doubt as to what they meant.
It is right to bear in mind that what the terms of reference, beyond dispute, did require us to do—one can look at them in the Report—was to advise the five Governments, in preparation for the Review of the Federal Constitution provided for by the Constitution itself, on any possible constitutional changes that might assist in strengthening and maintaining the Federation. That is precisely what the terms of reference were, and it is precisely what the Prime Minister said in this House. I remember hearing him say it.
We considered in the Commission—and came again to a unanimous conclusion—that certain constitutional changes were desirable to achieve that end, and one change was the provision for a possible right of future secession. In these circumstances I would ask the rhetorical question: how could we possibly leave that out? If we were told to say what possible changes we thought were necessary why should we give five and leave out the sixth?
It may be a good or it may be a bad proposal, but one thing which I confess I have never been able to understand is how anyone could say that it is outside the terms of reference. It is a complete misunderstanding to blame the Prime Minister for this. If anybody is to blame it is the Commission. I do 404 not think the Commission is to blame. It was asked to do a job and did it. It was interesting, here again, to note that the eight European members from the Federation had not the slightest doubt about it any more than Lord Monckton or I or anyone else had. I hope very sincerely that it will be possible for that particular matter to be regarded as disposed of.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I did not raise this matter, and I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is conducting a discussion with someone somewhere else. If he is going into this matter, perhaps he could tell us what he knows, if anything, about what passed between the Prime Minister, Sir Edgar Whitehead and Sir Roy Welensky, when he went to Salisbury, because it was Lord Shawcross who said that if he reached the conclusion that he must recommend secession he would not hesitate to do so. The two Prime Ministers were so disturbed that they put out a Press statement on 14th January saying:We feel so strongly that we have informed the Government that this is a matter we wish to discuss with the Prime Minister on his arrival in the Federation.There was never any confusion over their view. If secession was in the terms of reference they would not take part. How can one have two different shades of agreement?
§ Sir L. Heald
I am not suggesting that the Commission came into discussion, and what the Prime Minister said to Sir Edgar Whitehead is no more evidence than what the soldier said in the well-known—[Interruption.] I am afraid I cannot enter into that. The hon. Gentleman said that I was conducting an argument with somebody. I was trying not to conduct an argument with anybody. I will go on trying not to conduct one, even with him, which is sometimes very difficult.
I sincerely hope that that particular issue may be regarded as very nearly dead. I have never myself been able to understand it. I have the greatest respect for the legal advisers of the Federal Government. After all, they entertained us very hospitably on one very special occasion and on other occasions individually, and I would be the last person to dispute their competence and ability. I cannot conceive that if this particular 405 point had ever been put to them they would have missed such an obvious point.
I wonder whether perhaps there is another explanation of it. Possibly this point about the terms of reference was never put to the legal advisers. Perhaps it was put to somebody else. Nowadays, some people do not consult lawyers but people called public relations counsellors. I wonder if this was put to them. It might have been, and, of course, sometimes that has rather awkward consequences. Although these people are, no doubt—I will not say public conveniences—a great convenience to the public, they are not always the most suitable people for this kind of thing, because everybody agrees that they have a very loud voice, but they often have very little vision.
Finally and most seriously, as a humble member of the Commission, may I express the hope that in the coming weeks before the Review takes place all men and women of good will in the House, in the country and in the Federation will do everything they can to help those who are coming to the Review Conference to assemble in friendship and co-operation and with a real determination to find a solution for this problem, which must be solved in the interests not only of all the inhabitants of the Federation, but of the Whole Commonwealth.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
Perhaps as a result of the reminder of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State that he had not even mentioned any thanks to the members of the Monckton Commission for their good work, we had one of the Commissioners themselves putting it on record. To that extent, the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) rectified the omission of the right hon. Gentleman. However, I thought that such a list of credits, as it were, would have been better left to non-Commission Members who could have paid tribute, as indeed we do, to the members of the Monckton Commission who gave up much of their time to investigating this extraordinary situation on the spot. They were out there for twelve weeks, or thereabouts, and they must have done a good deal 406 of work, sometimes under trying conditions and not always in the pleasant social conditions which the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned.
In addition to the Monckton Commission, some hon. Members have been afforded an opportunity, at no expense to themselves except in time, hard work and inconvenience to their own affairs at home, to see for themselves on the spot what is happening in the Federation. I am one such Member, and I make special reference to this matter today because last week I promised the House, when I intervened on a point of privilege raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), that I would give further details both as to the auspices under which we went to the Federation and our impressions of it. There are two hon. Members sitting opposite this afternoon who also went, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North (Mr. G. H. R. Rogers) and my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Deer).
I have given my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton notice of my intention to raise this matter and I shall do so only briefly in order to put into proper perspective the views which those of us fortunate enough to be called will express. I assert that they are our own individual views. We express them independently and we are not subject to any inducement. Indeed, no inducements were offered to us, except those of "blood, toil, tears and sweat", because we travelled hundreds of miles over the Federation by aeroplane, getting up at all sorts of unearthly hours to reach our destinations. They are views derived from our impressions an meeting many people, many of whom were witnesses before the Monckton Commission. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would recognise the names, but I will not read out the list which includes both Africans and Europeans, many of the latter now calling themselves Rhodesians.
I have read the Report, spending a week-end doing so, and I find myself in agreement With much of the argument and many of the conclusions. I do not go all the way with the Report. For instance, I shall have something to say about secession.
It was alleged by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton, in raising a point 407 of privilege involving a national newspaper, that the six Members who went to the Federation went on the expense account of a business company, Voice and Vision. I had never heard of it until I was asked by a member of its staff, who used to be a Lobby correspondent, if I would go. Indeed, there was no reason why I should go, for, unlike the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey, I have no friends or relations in the Federation. However, I wanted to see for myself what was happening out there. I had heard a lot from my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) and others, and I hope that my hon. Friend will not misunderstand me when I say that I do not always accept his point of view.
§ Mr. Bellenger
So my hon. Friend will understand that the view I am expressing is my own and not his.
What I complain about is not the point of Privilege raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton, on which Mr. Speaker has already given his Ruling, but the implication in my hon. Friend's words. From column 2158 of HANSARD for 25th October it will be seen that my hon. Friend said that we went out at the expense of a public relations firm and—my hon. Friend put this very subtly—that that public relations firm, in the words of the newspaper which he mentioned, had had some influence on the moulding of our opinions. Indeed, my hon. Friend went on to say that, if what the newspaper had said were true, this business firm might have succeeded in influencing hon. Members. All hon. Members know that it is one of the most grievous crimes of any hon. Member to impute motives to another hon. Member, especially unworthy motives. I do not know whether my hon. Friend did it wittingly or unintentionally, but I suggest that the stigma in his words should be removed.
My hon. Friend has put down a Motion on the Order Paper asking that this matter should be referred to the Committee of Privileges. If it were, I would welcome it, because I for one have nothing to hide and I would like to say 408 many things to that tribunal so that it inquires not only into this instance but also into the numerous instances when hon. Members from both sides of the House have travelled at the expense of foreign Goverments, some of them not too friendly to this country, in order to make trips all over the globe.
I do not impute any mala fides to any of those hon. Members, but if we are to be put in the dock merely because we accept the invitation of the Federal Government, not a public relations firm, to go to the Federation at that Government's expense—and considerable expense it was—then I cannot understand why all those masses of hon. Members who go at the invitations of foreign Governments should not also be included. Indeed, it is very remarkable that this matter has been raised this time when it has not been raised before.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that in regard to the Federation it would be valuable for such a Committee to consider questions of exclusion as well as inclusion?
§ Mr. Bellenger
I know that that is a matter in which my hon. Friend is very much interested. I have views on that subject, but I will not now take up time explaining them.
I wish that Her Majesty's Government would place more facilities at the disposal of all hon. Members so that all hon. Members could travel to all parts of the world as a very fortunate few do at present. I cast no reflection—I would not think of doing so—on the Chair, but we all know that the Members who are selected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association are vetted, if not approved, by Mr. Speaker himself.
I have no objection to that. I am not making a claim to be considered favourably when next a deputation goes out. All I can say is that so far I have been very unfortunate in not being one of the favoured few, so far as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is concerned. That is why I say that it is the duty of the Government to do what other Governments, particularly the United States Government, do, and provide opportunities for right hon. and hon. Members to travel at the expense of Her Majesty's Government and see for 409 themselves what I and others saw on this occasion.What does he know of EnglandWho only England knows?I am, therefore, very grateful that the Federation gave me and my colleagues this opportunity of going out there.
I can speak only for myself about what we saw and heard. The first thing is that the evidence of prosperity in Southern Rhodesia is there for everybody to see. When one remembers that only seventy years ago Salisbury was a jungle, and when one remembers the conditions experienced by the pioneer settlers, it is remarkable what has been achieved in material prosperity in that town.
I will say nothing about the distribution of that prosperity. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East that the distribution is inequitable. But that is something about which we who have had a longer history than seventy years and who have had to fight for a more equitable distribution between the ruling classes and those who have been producing the wealth of this country know.
It is small wonder that some of those who are out there, having the sins of Adam, are carrying on the same traditions which I say the ruling classes in this country carried on for centuries. That is one reason why I warn the House that the mere giving of political rights to Africans will not achieve in a short space of time all the progress and advancement, particularly in education and housing, that it has taken us generations to achieve in this country.
We went to Northern Rhodesia, and, naturally, we were taken down the copper mines. It was a strenuous job for some of us who are not as young as we used to be, and, indeed, without giving names, the journey knocked out one hon. Member. He had to retire incapacitated for the rest of the day after having been down the copper mines. Nevertheless, it afforded us an opportunity of seeing the tremendous mineral wealth in that territory. This wealth is being developed by companies—one of them with considerable American capital—and a portion is set aside to raise the standard of education amongst their workers and the wives and children of 410 those workers. I am sure everyone approves of that.
When we went to Nyasaland we saw nothing but poverty such as I have never seen before. We saw poverty in the houses or kraals in which the people live—conditions in which many people in this country would not even house a dog. We saw ignorance and poverty which only those who go out there can see. If my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton is right that 150 more hon. Members are being taken out there, good luck to them. I wish that the whole House could transfer itself, as the Monckton Commission suggests that the Parliaments of the three territories of the Federation should from time to time, to Nyasaland, and enable hon. Members to see for themselves sights which I cannot adequately describe.
Unlike Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland has no valuable mineral resources. She has none of the prosperity and the valuable tobacco crops, for example, which one finds in Southern Rhodesia, and if she seceded—and make no mistake about it, the Africans are determined, from what they said to us and to members of the Commission, that they will secede, as they say, now and not in five or seven years—there would be intensified poverty in that country. It is a lamentable fact that some of the African witnesses who spoke to us admitted that there would be poverty if the Federation were broken, but nevertheless said that they were determined to break it up as soon as possible.
Those are some of the things we saw. We saw—we felt it in the air—that there was colour discrimination. We had the opportunity of meeting all sorts of people. We met official people, and private people. We sometimes met private people in their houses, and I am bound to express my gratitude for the hospitality they extended to us and for the frank opinions which they gave us. If hon. Members could hear some of those private opinons about the British Parliament, they would not feel so complacent as some of them do on these matters.
On one occasion a lady said to me: "Mr. Bellenger, what are your opinions now that you have come to Rhodesia, compared with what they were before you came?" I said: "Madam, I do 411 not know that I had any settled opinions before I came here". She immediately rounded on me and said: "You, a Member of the British Parliament, and you are not interested in this part of the country?" I said to her: "Well, madam, I only wish that I could say wholeheartedly and truthfully that the great British public is interested, or even that certain sections of that public know where the Rhodesian Federation is". That is what I am complaining about, the lack of facilities for hon. Members to go and properly inform themselves about what is happening.
Dealing with education, it will take generations before these Africans, with all the money that can be placed at their disposal and with all the teachers that can be found—because they are not in the Federal Union and will have to be induced to come in from outside—are lifted from the negligible standards which they have today to even a primary standard such as we have in Britain.
The only occasion on which we were received in an unfriendly way was when we met the executive of a white miners' union in Northern Rhodesia. Their views about the Government and British Members of Parliament are unprintable. They expressed them in a way which we who represent mining constituencies can well appreciate They are intolerant of us, and I regret that they are intolerant, too, of many of their African colleagues who work side by side with them in the mines.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
Is the right hon. Gentleman referring to those members of the ruling classes about whom he was traditionally complaining a few moments ago?
§ Mr. Bellenger
They are members of the ruling classes. The Monckton Commission says so. There are only about 300,000 of them compared with 8 million of the others. I go so far as to say that if those members were in this House or in this country they would be repudiated by every trade union here. That was the unfriendliness, the bitterness and the intolerance which we met. It was not limited to one class. I can well understand why there is this attitude. They are afraid that their own high standards will be prejudiced if Africans are given the same opportunities as they have.
412 In spite of all these disabilities, excellent work is being done not only by Government organisations but by voluntary organisations. It did my heart good to see, in outlandish places, the number of people—many of them Scots people; the Scots seem to travel all over the world and settle in all countries—who are doing yeoman service in trying to improve the health and education of the Africans. The wind of change is blowing out there. My only complaint is that it is not blowing strongly enough.
The only time I expressed my views publicly was when I was out there and when I came back. Certain of the Members who were with me expressed their points of view more forcibly and generally than I did. My only comment was that I thought some form of federation was necessary. I still think so. I would go so far as to say that if there is not some form of federation the outlook for Nyasaland will be terrible. That confirms the view of the Monckton Commission. Nyasaland has about 2 million or 3 million people who are not far removed from the jungle from which they came, and this House has a responsibility to do all it can to see that those people have the opportunity to improve their standard of living—and at the expense not only of the British taxpayer but of some of the prosperity which exists in the Federation, especially in Southern Rhodesia.
The House will know from the Monckton Report that the Federation today contributes to the Nyasaland budget about £3½ million more than the Nyasas pay into it. If the other parts of the Federation are more prosperous, it is surely a good thing that they should help to support their weaker brethren.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East that Federation should not stop at its present limits. I do not see why it should not be possible to bring in Tanganyika, to the North-East. The Federation has the Congo, which is supposed to have its own independence, to the north-west, Portuguese Angola to the west; and the Union of South Africa to the south. Tanganyika could come into the Federation under certain conditions, and it might strengthen it. At present 140,000 Nyasas work in Southern Rhodesia, and we have 413 to think what might happen to those people if the Federation were broken up. The ironical fact is that if the Federation were broken up and those people were sent back to Nyasaland, Southern Rhodesia would be able to solve its unemployment problem.
Undoubtedly, intense bitterness exists, based on many of the considerations advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East. I do not know how it will be overcome, but unless the position is ameliorated through the constitutional discussions which I understand are to take place I can see no real future for at least one of the Territories concerned.
As for secession, I would only say that if it has to come it had better come earlier rather than later. The Monckton Commission based its hopes on its proposal for possible secession within five or seven years, and I imagine the Government are doing likewise. They hope that in that time the Northern Territories will see the advantage of belonging to the Federation. But they have already had seven years of it, with what result? I agree that conditions might be improved, but Federation has done a lot to develop intense bitterness and hatred towards Southern Rhodesia.
I want to say a word about Sir Roy Welensky, the Prime Minister of the Federation, and here I address my remarks particularly to some of my hon. Friends. We had an opportunity of talking with Sir Roy in private, in his office and in his own home, and he struck me as a person who could qualify as much as any of my hon. Friends for a claim to proletarian origin. He was a member of the railway trade union out there, carrying a trade union ticket. His ancestry proves—he is not ashamed to say it—that he has come up the hard way. I will not say that his ancestors' circumstances were similar to those of many Africans, but they were circumstances with which we are all familiar in this country. He came up from a lowly and humble origin, with very few educational opportunities.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I hope that my hon. Friend is not using them as an illustration 414 of my argument. Sir Roy Welensky is a statesman, which Hitler never was; Hitler was a maniac. I have met many Prime Ministers in my time, both at home and abroad, and I would say that Sir Roy has a broad outlook. Like all Prime Ministers, perhaps even our own, he has colleagues who have different points of view—sometimes reactionary points of view. That is not unknown in British Governments.
I say, on excellent authority—and I am not quoting Sir Roy himself—that when he comes to this country for discussions with Her Majesty's Government they will not find him so intractable as some people believe. They will find him responsible and ready to try to reach a solution, so long as it is a reasonable one. That is why I am not without hope of the outcome of these constitutional discussions, although the Government will probably find many difficulties during the course of them.
I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman himself could have given us a little more information about what is passing through his mind. I realise that he must keep many of these matters for negotiation—I do not know whether the discussions will be in public or in private—bat at least the House of Commons ought to know something of what is in the Government's mind. It should be told whether the Government accept the Monckton Report generally, or repudiate it. If they repudiate it, or part of it, in a way that we do not approve, we shall have some different remarks to make to the Government from those made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East this afternoon.
Although my hon. Friend had many criticisms to make—and I think that he was justified in trying to explain the policy of the Opposition in the past, when, as he said, we were ridiculed and perhaps even jeered at on occasion—he was friendly in his attitude to the Minister, if "friendly" is the right word to use in present circumstances. We have to be careful when we talk about friendliness between Opposition and Government, but at least my hon. Friend was friendly to the point of view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman to the extent of saying that his remarks represented some advance upon the views of his predecessors.
415 Those who have been to the Federation—both the Commissioners and more humble folk—know that the road will be long, and that at times there may be tremendous difficulties. Having been there and seen and spoken to all sorts of people—even some of the extremists—and heard from their own lips proposals which I believe might conduce to some sort of compromise, I am not unhopeful. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is aware of those proposals. If he is not, I shall be pleased to inform him of them. I believe that there is some possibility of a compromise being arrived at, and in those circumstances I should like to wish not only those Territories but also Her Majesty's Government the best of luck. They will need a lot of luck if they are to come through successfully.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Sir Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
The House has listened with very great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), and I think that I can fairly say that we all have a great deal of sympathy with him in the position in which he has been so unfortunately placed. I think that I speak for my hon. Friends as well as for myself when I say that we have no doubt at all of his integrity, or the honesty of the views which he puts forward. The right hon. Gentleman has great experience in this House, and is a good judge of people when he moves around.
I agreed with him very much when he said that the more that hon. Members from this House visit the Commonwealth the better it would be. The only real way in which we can learn is by seeing for ourselves, by knowing the countries, and by knowing the people about whom we wish to speak in this House. I hope that, at the same time, the Government will see fit to step up the grants to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, generous though they are, so that many more hon. Members may visit Commonwealth countries under official auspices.
I should also like at this time, on behalf of my hon. Friends on this side, to express our very good wishes to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations on his first 416 appearance before the House in that office. I feel that this afternoon he made a very thoughtful and serious contribution, and that in his words he showed a real interest in the Commonwealth and its people. Indeed, it was in very refreshing contrast, certainly to the opening part, of the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). In the first half of his speech, the hon. Gentleman, in my opinion, was more interested in seeking to score off the Government than in considering the good of the people of Rhodesia, but I suppose that he ought to be excused because for well over an hour he had to listen to his colleagues "having a crack" at each other, and probably thought that it was about time that somebody "had a crack" at the Government instead.
We were interested in what the hon. Gentleman said about them, but I would remind him that in politics one should not confuse honest disagreement with arrogance and complacency. Those were the words he used, and I believe that arrogance and complacency are ill-fitting words to use about Secretaries of State who have made great contributions to the Commonwealth in their time. The hon. Gentleman also spoke to some considerable extent about racial discrimination. I think that we should make it clear that we on this side have no time for racial discrimination at all, but recognise that in some places we have a great task before us in seeking to change the hearts and minds of men. We are setting ourselves to it, and we shall not rest until racial discrimination disappears within our Commonwealth altogether.
This is not the first time recently that we have discussed the problem of the Federation. I well remember taking part in a debate in the House about fifteen months ago, when we were considering the setting up of the Monckton Commission. In those days, it did not have such a name, and it had not been decided who would take part in it, but, looking back on the speech I made then, I can tell hon. Members opposite that I would willingly repeat today anything I said that day.
Since then, I have had the advantage of visiting Rhodesia and seeing something of its people and of the country. I had met most of the leaders before in 417 this country, but one has an advantage in seeing them in their own background and talking to them under their own conditions. Like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when I went there I was filled with admiration for that country and was inspired by the massive development work which has taken place in the great cities and in industry and agriculture. To stand on that great Kariba Dam reminds one forcibly of the great triumphs of man in the world of engineering, and in the betterment of the physical conditions and the well-being of the people. There has undoubtedly been great development in that country, and it is our wish and our policy that these developments should be preserved and should be expanded.
In my opinion, this development is being checked by the fears and uncertainties of man. In the sphere of African politics, one of our great tasks is to rid ourselves of fear. Fear has undoubtedly increased since the trouble in the Congo, and it is a fear held not merely by the Europeans, but by Africans as well. Both of them, in their own way, want security and betterment of their people. I think that there are lessons to be learned from them. We should learn sensibly not to go to extremes. That is the thing, above all, to be avoided.
There are lessons to be learned from what has happened in other parts of Africa, and one of them is that economic development alone is not enough. Much more has to be done in the field of human dignity. In addition to the economic position, we have to consider the social and political rights of the people in all of these countries. I believe that we should quicken the pace at which they are recognised in some of these territories, and that it is our duty to do everything possible to see that the people of Africa are trained as rapidly as possible to responsibility.
That is the policy that we have tried where we have had full control, and in my opinion it has been an outstanding success, especially in a country like Nigeria. It is quite true that the African himself has his fears that federation will block his way to political progress. It must be made abundantly clear to him as forcibly and as quickly as possible that we wish him to make political progress and train him so that he is able to take on responsibility.
418 The Europeans, too, especially following the trouble in the Congo, have their own fears, which were intensified by the rioting in Southern Rhodesia, with the calling out of troops, culminating with the Law and Order (Maintenance) Bill before the Southern Rhodesian Parliament, which has been referred to by hon. Gentleman opposite, followed, as it was, by the resignation from the position of Chief Justice of the Federation of that very able and honourable man, Sir Robert Tredgold. In my opinion, action of this kind should only be used absolutely in the last resort, and, having been there recently, I cannot believe that the position has deteriorated so much that legislation of that kind was necessary.
Indeed, after the riots and the burning of a few houses in Harare, I went there with my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. Bennett) to see what the situation was. The Territorials had been called out, the troops were there and it was exceedingly dull. We saw men throwing balls over fences to little boys, but we did not see the kind of sullen faces which one sees when rioting and increased trouble are imminent.
I believe that handling that situation in a different way might be more helpful, because one must always remember that force begets force and intimidation. I accept the view of Sir Robert Tredgold that firm government could be made available without the sacrifice of basic human rights. I feel that this is a time for courage and for vision and not a time for fear.
Referring to the Monckton Report, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) spoke well when he dealt with its composition. All of us who have been in the Federation since the issuing of the Report know that we as a country have been attacked because so many people who disagree with it regard the Report as a British Report. I think it quite right that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should point out that it was a Commonwealth Committee and that not only the United Kingdom but Canada and Australia had their representatives, and that there were representatives of the Federation and the three territorial Governments as well. I feel that they have performed a very useful service. When we come to the conference in London we shall have a first-class advisory brief which is what 419 this Report really is. It was a Commonwealth Commission and it should be clear that it is not the policy of the United Kingdom Government but an advisory brief which can help us all.
I am sure that the Government would not want to accept all the recommendations about which the members of the Commission themselves had so many minor disagreements. It is our job, surely, to look carefully into all the points of disagreement. I for one, as, I think, were a great many other Parliamentarians, was surprised to read the suggestion that there should be a perambulating' Parliament moving from one territory to another. What confusion there would be in this House if we, and the staff, and all the facilities going with it moved for one session to Scotland and the next to Wales.
§ Sir R. Robinson
There is a certain amount of confusion in South Africa, too. What happens is that Parliament sits in Cape Town, the Executive meets in Pretoria and the legal end is elsewhere. That is a very confusing situation, but it is not the Parliament that moves about. That would appear a most impracticable suggestion.
Possibly one of the biggest troubles in the Federation regarding the Monckton Report arose from the use of the word "secession." I believe that in the first excitement and in the heat of the moment many people of good judgment lost sight of many of the good and valuable things in the Report. I accept that the Commission was well aware, as it must have been, of the facts of the political life there, having travelled round Rhodesia, and it was justified in taking notice of them. But what was very clear was that it came down most firmly on the side of federation. I believe that one cannot emphasise that too strongly. I should have liked the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East to have done so, but he did not, in my opinion, emphasise it strongly. I am "going for him" on a matter of emphasis.
In paragraph 76 of its Report, the Commission states:The advantages of Federation are great and ought to be maintained…420 In all the quotations which he made the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East did not quote this:… A dissolution would bring hardship, poverty and distress to many, and entail sacrifices for all.To me, that is one of the key matters in the Report when we are considering what is to be done.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State rightly pointed out that in Clause 51 the Commission has especially gone in to the economic advantages of federation. Obviously, they are enormous. As my right hon. Friend said, and as the Commission stated, a common market of 8 million instead of three smaller markets of less than 3 million must have an immense value to the people concerned. We can see what is happening in that way in Europe.
The Commission pointed out the greater opportunities of world credit far a Federation. Today, in the development of a country like that, capital is needed more than ever. The Commission said—again, it was not emphasised very much in the House—that the economics of the three territories were complementary. That, economically, is a very sound and good argument for federation. The Commission stressed, as it went on reviewing the situation, that there had been some advances. It spoke of Kariba and the fact that the figure for social services which, in 1953–54, was only £8 million had now risen to £15 million a year.
The Commission spoke of the development of the non-racial university-college of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. These things are taking place and we must recognise that things have been done which are greatly to the credit of all concerned. However, on certain aspects of racial policy, we can still reserve the right to say to them, "We feel you should be more generous, and be more generous quickly." The Government of Southern Rhodesia have been under attack. Much as I disagreed with many aspects of their policy, I well remember that when I was in Southern Rhodesia there was an announcement in the Press that they were right away starting a new programme and spending £1 million on African housing. So there are good works being carried out both 421 ways and the House ought to remember that.
To quote once more from the Moncktn Commission, it stated:… we have no doubt that the continued association of the three Territories is of vital importance to their inhabitants and we regard with great concern the possibility of a break up of the Federation. Far from encouraging this we seek to secure the greatest possible measure of support for a new form of federal association …When one goes into a conference one recognises that there must be some change, but I say that if, at this stage, we are to consider the break up of the Federation, it is the counsel of despair. The economic advantages are so great that I feel that even at this stage, before the London Conference, perhaps our Government, perhaps the Federation Government, or others within the Federation, should take active steps to let the Africans know what are the benefits of federation to them and to their people. We should tell them the economic facts of life and then offer them political help. If they know those facts they must make up their mind about what they want from their own social point of view. But I think that they should be in no doubt as to what are the economic advantages.
I hope that all those attending the conference will consider the position of the Federation in the light of conditions in Africa today and, indeed, in the light of opinion throughout the whole world. Whatever happens there will effect everyone. The time has far gone when Southern Rhodesia, or Nyasaland, or Northern Rhodesia can shut itself within its own confines and say, "I can stand alone."
I urge the Secretary of State not to be pressed too hard at this stage to take up any firm attitude or to enter into firm commitments. If the conference is to be successful not only the United Kingdom but the Governments and parties in Africa must avoid taking up attitudes and going to the conference too firmly committed. Its only hope is that men go with open minds and with a flexibility of view so that they can really go ahead and reach some kind of agreement. I believe that flexibility in entering the conference is probably one of the most important attributes we can bring to it.
422 On these negotiations let us not be too impatient. In the words of the Secretary of State, patience and restraint on these things are forever necessary. Let us remember that it takes time to reach an agreement and it takes still further time to reach the necessary social developments and training to bring it into effect. Not long ago it was my privilege to listen to a speech in Nigeria on independence, made by its Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. It was, I believe, one of the finest, most generous and most constructive speeches that I have ever heard made. He was then considering the question of the apparent delay there had been in Nigeria's independence and he said:History will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace. It has been thorough and Nigeria now stands well-built on firm foundations.Later, he said:Each step of our constitutional advance has been purposefully and peaceably planned with full amd open consultation, not only between the representatives of all the interests in Nigeria, but in harmonious co-operation with the administering power which has today relinquished its authority.That, in my belief, is the way that success can come in the Federation as well as in Nigeria. I accept the view that the races in Nigeria need each other. I firmly believe that we have here one of the last oportunities of building a real and lasting partnership between the races in Africa. Let us show the world that we can do it.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
The whole House has been moved by the sentiments with which the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir R. Robinson) concluded his speech. I also think that the House was moved by the sincere and humane speech the Secretary of State made in opening the debate this afternoon. I felt that both the speech and the spirit in which it was made, although I could not agree with all the emphasis, particularly at the end of the speech, have helped to banish the echoes of earlier speeches made at the Dispatch Box opposite on this subject.
I do not want to rake over the embers of controversy of the past. I do not think it is helpful to try to dig up all that has happened in the last seven years to prove who was right and who was 423 wrong. I am satisfied that my party has been consistently right in its regard for democratic principles in the Federation, but I am quite prepared to recognise now that the future of 8 million people in Rhodesia and Nyasaland is something with which we are all genuinely concerned. I am grateful that "the winds of change" have been blowing in the Conservative Party and that there has been such a change in the attitude of the Conservative Party towards the future of Rhodesia. I believe this will have—in fact, I am sure it will have—a profound effect on the future relationships of Britain with the whole of Africa. I am glad that these changes are occurring.
The Monckton Commission, in doing its work, had to operate within a context of public opinion and also of Governmental acts initiated from Britain. I believe that the courageous, far-sighted and, I think, extremely sincere, way in which the Colonial Secretary has handled his particular responsibilities in the last few months, have helped to create that spirit. I congratulate him on his political wisdom and skill in bringing about an agreement in Nyasaland, which I believe has helped to convince the Africans of that territory that we mean good will towards them.
The Monckton Commission Report makes four main points. The first is that association between territories is useful for economic ends. That we have always accepted. Secondly, it makes the point that it is quite obvious in the Federation, as the Devlin Commission indicated in regard to Nyasaland, that the overwhelming majority of the population is opposed to federation and also that it cannot be imposed by force. It then goes an to say that some method must be worked out for federation being agreed to by the majority, and it proposes some firm, if not sufficiently detailed, recommendations to that end. It recommends a Federal Assembly of 60 members with parity between black and white. It recommends that secession should be possible after a further trial period. It recommends, also, the transfer of responsibility from the Federal Administration to the Territories.
In discussing this subject, I feel a little compromised because a year ago I 424 wrote a book on some experiences I had in the early part of last year and put forward a number of proposals which I thought would help to achieve the good will and understanding which is so necessary if federation is to succeed. I put forward points which correspond very closely to the points which the Monckton Commission Majority Report now recommends. I suggested a Federal Assembly of 60 with parity between black and white, but with four Asian seats. I recommended a period of trial of between three and five years. I suggested that responsibility for health, as well as immigration, should be transferred to the Territories. The Commission did not agree with me about immigration, but it had something to say about the necessity for the Governors in the Protectorates having an expression of view about the prohibition of any person who is on the banned list of the Federal Administration. I welcome that acknowledgment of the need for the Protectorates to have some say on the question of who should or should not be admitted.
Since these views have been expressed, even since the Monckton Commission's Report has been made public, there have been certain developments both inside and outside the Territories which we cannot ignore. There have been developments in Tanganyika which I think most impressive. I was there a few weeks ago and saw the introduction of a non-racial Government. I do not use the term "multi-racial"; "non-racial" was the term introduced by Sir Richard Turnbull a year or so ago and is much to be preferred. I attended a demonstration of 40,000 people at which Julius Nyerere, the Chief Minister, introduced Ministers who were not only Africans but Europeans and Asians as well.
Hon. Members opposite will be interested to know that one of those European Ministers, elected with African support, was a former Conservative. He was a vice-president of the Conservative Association at Cambridge University. He went out to Kenya as a white settler, moved to Tanganyika, and then realised that if black, white and brown are to live together in real understanding the minority races must accept democracy and democratic rule by the African majority. We have seen, and I was privileged to see at first hand, just what 425 that has meant in Tanganyika—real friendship, real understanding between the communities and a complete absence of the arrogance and snobbery which comes about when a white minority or a brown minority is given the impression that in various grades it can have certain privileges over the majority.
It must also be recognised that other recent developments, particularly events in the Congo in the last few months, have made Africans in Central Africa consider that attempts at compromise with the whites are too late. I therefore think that we must go a little further in our approach to the African population than the majority of the Monckton Commission recommend. We have to keep their confidence, and I do not think that we can keep it if at this stage we suggest parity between black and white. I believe that we must have a clear African majority or, possibly, a Federal Assembly which is composed of a number of reserved seats for Africans, a number of reserved seats for Europeans and a larger number of seats in the middle to be elected without any racial qualification at all and from a common roll, with a low franchise, in order that the majority will rule and decide who their elected representatives shall be. That system might bring about the cross-voting between races which is essential if we are to get the non-racial understanding which is a necessary first step towards universal adult suffrage and the complete wiping away of any racial distinctions.
I believe that we must think in terms of giving the African people a guarantee that there is no possibility that the European minority, which has been so well entrenched, particularly in Southern Rhodesia since 1923, will seize control. We must avoid giving the impression that, although we give voice to many platitudes about equality in the far distant future, in the short run it might be possible for the European minority to seize complete political power, which it is obviously the intention of some of these Europeans to do.
In my opinion, the key question in considering the Federation is what happens in Southern Rhodesia. I completely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) in the point which he made on this.
426 Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will have African majorities, and they will have home rule, and even if we do not allow them the right to secede as a result of the constitutional review, if they establish their own Governments there will be no stopping them from demanding and obtaining the right of secession at some date in the future.
Southern Rhodesia is the key, and we owe a responsibility to all the people of Southern Rhodesia as great as the responsibility which we owe to the people of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), whose speech I applauded, made reference to the unfettered right of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate for the future of the Federation. That unfettered right applies no: only to the Federation but also to Southern Rhodesia, and the United Kingdom Parliament should assent its responsibility towards that country, and assent it now, so that there is no shadow of doubt in the minds of the Europeans in that territory that we feel that our responsibility to all the people, not only the whites but also the blacks, is so great that we cannot let the minority dictate the solution for the territory.
In that sense I disagree with an interpretation in my hon. Friend's speech, when he gave the impression that it would be possible for Sir Edgar Whitehead and the mainly European electorate to decide that they would go it alone and not be in the Federation. It is not for the European electorate to decide this point. As the Monckton Commission points out in chapter 16, paragraph 309—the chapter dealing with secession—it is not for the electorate or the Government of Southern Rhodesia to decide whether secession should be undertaken by Southern Rhodesia. It is for the majority of the inhabitants to decide, and, according to the Commission's recommendations, it will be for Her Majesty's Government to decide whether the inhabitants' wishes have been correctly and genuinely ascertained. This could possibly be done, they say, by a referendum requiring a 60 per cent. majority. This idea of a referendum is tantamount to accepting the validity of "One man, one vote".
I welcome the recognition of the responsibility of the United Kingdom 427 Government and Parliament towards the future of Southern Rhodesia, and I am glad to see that this is confirmed in paragraph 311, in which the Commission writes:By the term 'the inhabitants', we do not mean merely those inhabitants who happen to be qualified for the Territorial franchise at the time when their wishes are to be ascertained".The key question is Southern Rhodesia. This country has very clearly defined responsibilities towards that territory, and I hope that they will be exercised. In particular, I should like to ask the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations this question: will he ensure that the African population of Southern Rhodesia is represented at the forthcoming constitutional review talks? He may reply that it is for the Governments to decide the composition of the delegations which they sand to that Review Conference, and that the composition of the Southern Rhodesian delegation is, therefore, beyond our sphere of influence.
I put it to him that if it is the responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate for the future of the Federation, as the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey said, then surely it is our responsibility to ascertain the genuine wishes of the inhabitants of each of the territories concerned. If the Southern Rhodesian Government chooses not to include the National Democratic Party, which represents the overwhelming mass of the Africans as well as a minority of Europeans, in its ranks, surely it would be appropriate for Her Majesty's Government to invite the National Democratic Party and other parties to discussions concurrent with the Federal Review Conference. I hope that that point will be considered, because I believe it to be vitally necessary that we should keep the confidence of the Africans in each of the three territories as we go forward to the next stage.
I very much liked the remark made by the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey at the conclusion of his speech, because I think that the activities of a public relations organisation on behalf of the Welensky Federation are reaching a degree which is becoming improper. Members of Parliament are being invited to go on trips. I do not disagree with this, because I think that 428 Governments are entitled to invite people to partake of their hospitality.
I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) that Members of Parliament are at a severe disadvantage in not being able to get around the world and see at first hand the problems of territories for which we are responsible. Like him, I have never been a member of an official delegation. Unlike him, I have never accepted travelling facilities and hospitality from any State, foreign or Commonwealth. But I readily admit that if a Government invited me to take a trip to their country I should most likely accept, and I am not criticising him for accepting an invitation. I admire his integrity and honesty in putting forward his point of view. But where I question the activities of this certain public relations organisation relates to the way in which certain hon. Members are chosen. This can be tied up with the fact that other hon. Members are excluded. It is quite improper that certain Members of Parliament are unable to visit the Federation because of Governmental prohibition.
I shall not dwell too long on this topic, but my own position is only too well known to the House. On a recent trip to Africa, I attempted to visit the Rhodesian Federation. Before leaving, I acquainted the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations with full details of my plans. I very much appreciate the help they gave me. I appreciate particularly the fact that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations conveyed to the Federal Government the details of the trip which I intended to make.
Notwithstanding the fact that I did everything in my power, through proper channels, to inform the Federal authorities of my intention to visit the Federation, the Federal authorities saw fit to prevent me from visiting the Federation. They even went to the extent of warning an airway company that if it carried me on one of its aircraft from Dar-es-Salaam to Blantyre the pilot would be arrested and the plane impounded.
I do not want to dwell on this subject, because there may be an opportunity to discuss this topic further when the House considers the Motion in the name of my 429 hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles). However, I want to refer to the attempted brainwashing of the British public, in particular the "top people" who read The Times. The Times this morning contains a half-page advertisement boosting the achievements of the Federation. There is, first, a reference to the Kariba scheme. The advertisement contains these words:Without Federation, a project of this scale would hardly have been undertaken.Everyone in the House will know of the tremendous achievement of the Owen Falls Scheme, which has been created in Uganda, to serve not only Uganda but Kenya across the border. It did not need a Federation of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika to achieve that. It did not need a Federation to achieve a customs union between those territories. It did not need a Federation to achieve a friendly understanding between the three territories, which has now reached the stage when there will be very close understanding between the two major political parties in Kenya and Tanganyika.
The Times advertisement also says that African workers are doing extremely well in the Federation. This can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Africans do better when industries are established and they are able to have jobs and earn a cash income. Work in the mines is much better for them than scratching a living on poor soil.
What worries the Africans in Central Africa is the way that the economic cake is divided. The Africans have the smallest slice of the cake and the Europeans, who are the privileged aristocracy, as my right hon. Friend said, are the ones who want to keep political power in order to ensure that the African workers cannot organise themselves effectively to demand a fair slice of the cake.
My right hon. Friend referred to past history of this country. He may remember that it is only because the workers in this country have organised themselves politically that they have been able to demand a proper share of our national cake. In Rhodesia, a European minority gets most of the reward. The Report says that the wages and salaries for Europeans, Asians and coloureds, the Asians and the coloureds being a very small factor in this, amounted to 430 £130 million in 1958, whereas the wages and salaries of African workers, who exceed the Europeans in number many times over, amounted to only £83 million.
By referring to the tables of company profits, remembering that the companies are mostly, if not entirely, European-owned, we find that in each of the last six years of federation, with the exception of one, European company net profits have exceeded the total wages paid to African workers. The Federation could well be looked upon as a capitalist paradise, because the relationship between profits and wages there is such that shareholders in and owners of companies receive a much larger proportional slice of the reward than in any other well-developed economy.
The Library has been kind enough to produce for me the figures for this country and the United States. In this country wages and salaries represent five times the net profits of companies. In most of the years since the Federation came into existence, wages and salaries, even including wages for Europeans, were only 50 or 60 per cent. more than the total net profits of companies. This is the sort of thing which makes Africans suspicious of economic advance in the Federation, because they think—there is some justice in their suspicion—that the main advantage from the economic development of the Federation will go to a European minority of workers and a European minority of shareholders.
In the Report by the Committee of Officials which was given to the Commission, Cmnd. 1149, there are figures of average African daily wages in the various territories. I shall not go through all these figures. I will content myself by quoting a few figures from Table 52 on page 356. The African daily rate for unskilled workers in the tobacco grading industry rose from 1s. 4d. in 1953 to 1s. 5d. in 1958. The net result of federation for an unskilled labourer in the tobacco grading industry is precisely 1d. per day over those five years. This will not appeal to the Africans in Nyasaland. It is not likely to convince them that there are great advantages in economic development.
We also see from the table that the highest figure, which is earned by 431 building and construction workers, is 6s. 1d. a day, which means an income of less than 35s. a week, whereas European workers in all three territories automatically receive a much higher income and certain skilled jobs are reserved exclusively for them. Africans are denied access to those jobs.
We should try to work out a system of co-operation in Central Africa which will enable an association between the three territories to continue but one in which racial economic discrimination is stopped. In supporting the continuance of association, I disagree with many of my African friends from Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland who believe that Federation should now be completely broken up. I believe that it will be much easier to save Southern Rhodesia from a completely reckless white dictatorship if it remains in association with the two northern territories, but I do not think that it is possible to achieve any form of association between the territories unless Her Majesty's Government make it utterly clear to all concerned that we will exercise our responsibilities towards Southern Rhodesia just as much as we do towards the two northern territories, and that we will insist that there shall be reforms in Southern Rhodesia to ensure that the Africans have a proper voice in their own affairs in that territory.
I was very glad that my hon. Friend referred to the holding of the Constitutional Conference. I believe that the calling of the conference is made all the more urgent and necessary by the resignation of Sir Robert Tredgold and his new appeal for a national front in Southern Rhodesia. It is unlikely that Sir Edgar Whitehead will respond to that appeal; in fact, he has already said that he will not. Therefore, the initiative must now come from Her Majesty's Ministers, and I hope that they will listen to the plea being made to them by liberal whites in Southern Rhodesia who see the dangers of trying to impose a white dictatorship on a black majority that is only too aware of what is happening outside its own borders. Her Majesty's Ministers should also listen to the pleas made from their own back benchers and, in particular, read again the speech made by the hon. Member 432 for Nottingham, West (Mr. Tapsell) on 26th July, when he appealed in most eloquent terms for the calling of a constitutional conference.
I think that there can be a great future provided that it is made clear to the Europeans in Central Africa that there is no possibility, not the faintest hope, of European domination in Southern Rhodesia or in the Federation. The Europeans must accept that. If they do, they will have a future in those countries. I know that the African political leaders want Europeans to live among them. They welcome them, as I saw in Tanganyika, where the African political leaders who a few months ago may have been making violent speeches against the Europeans are now Ministers and are begging for expatriates to go to that country to serve in the administration and to build up industry, communications and so on.
The Africans in Southern Rhodesia will respond in just the same way if we show them that we are genuine about democracy and democratic rule and give them the political responsibility. They will then be able to show real good will towards the European minority living among them. That is the advise contained in an excellent book, which I recommend to the House, by Philip Mason, "A Year of Decision".
Its final chapter puts this point right before the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia. It advises them to accept the position of a minority ruled by a majority, and not to ask for any particular privileges. They will then be secure and stable, just as the Europeans in the West Indies are secure in a democratically-governed part of the world. That should be the message going from this House today to the European minority in Southern Rhodesia.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) in his reference to his troubles and travels in Central Africa, except to say that I have no doubt that the resultant publicity afforded him some compensation for his troubles. At the beginning of his speech, the hon. Member spoke of the wind of change on these benches, but the wind of change has certainly blown on the other side of the Chamber today. For 433 the first time, I think, I have heard the Federal Prime Minister praised from the benches opposite—
§ Mr. Stonehouse
I am sure that the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) will wish to do us justice. He should recognise that none of us on this side has spoken against Sir Roy Welensky, or any other European figure, in a personal way. In fact, if the hon. Gentleman reads the documents that we have written on the subject he will find that we have recognised Sir Roy's personal abilities, but object to his political policies.
§ Mr. Wall
I have just been reminded that someone on the other side has in in this debate compared Sir Roy with Hitler, or Mussolini, and it is in the memory of hon. Members on both sides that unpleasant things have been said about Sir Roy Welensky in the past.
I believe that both sides of the House agree that in Central Africa we want to evolve a non-racial society. What divides us is that we on this side want to keep the standards up; we want to level up, and we feel that the danger of the courses proposed by the hon. Member for Wednesbury would mean a levelling down. The hon. Member would accept federation provided the black Africans had the majority in all the three territories and in the Federal Government, but that at present would mean a disastrous lowering of standards throughout the Federation. That state of things will come, but to push it without any regard to timing would meet only with complete disaster.
All who have spoken today have praised and welcomed the Monckton Report. It has been pointed out that it is a valuable document, and a valuable background to the Constitutional Conference. I think that it would be fair to sum up the Report by saying that its conclusion is that the Federation has been a great economic success and a political failure. Many hon. Members on both sides will probably agree with that.
Perhaps I might refer to a delegation, composed of hon. Members on both sides, which went out to the Federation in 1957, and from the report of that delegation I should like to quote just a paragraph to show that this warning was given quite a long time ago but, 434 apparently, was not heeded. We then said:In order to succeed, the Federation must not only go forward economically; it is equally important that all the races in the three Territories should believe that partnership is a reality and that there are solid advantages to all in making it work. All races have obligations, but the main burden for initiating this success must lie with those who are now in the position of responsibility.That was said in 1957.
As the Monckton Commission has said, the Federation has virtually been a political failure. It serves no useful purpose today to apportion blame. Tie Europeans in Southern Rhodesia are usually blamed, but do not let us forget the share of African politicians and nationalists, and the degree of intimidation that exists in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. And let us not forget those colonial officials, a number of whom have never really supported federation or tried to make it work since its inception in 1953.
I submit that the Monckton Report is an excellent one, but I also submit that its conclusions contain two fundamental errors. The first is the question, of cessation in five or seven years. I believe that this would be utterly disastrous, both politically and economically. The idea of secession in a finite number of years must immediately cast doubt on the permanence of the Federation, and no one will invest in it. That has been proved since the Report was published. The reaction of the nationalists—the racialists, if that word be preferred—both black and white is immediately to say, "If I am to run the show in five years' time, why should I not run it now?" That has been made clear by Dr. Hastings Banda, Kenneth Kaunda and others.
I suggest that another error of the Commission is to suggest that the Federal Government should be 50 per cent. black and 50 per cent. white. That would mean perpetuating racial division, which is the one thing that we on this side have tried to avoid in all the Constitutions that have been introduced. We have tried to introduce political parties and a common roll and to avoid the formation of parties on racial lines.
On those two issues I believe that the Commission was wrong, but I think that it was justified in making the proposals because, as I look at the Report, it says 435 that it will really be so difficult to make the Federation work and be accepted by the Africans that we must go as far as possible to try to persuade them to accept it. In my view, however, the Commission has gone far to far, because to go that distance would bring disaster to the Federation itself.
Her Majesty's Government have to face the facts which, as I see it, are as follows. Either the Federation can never work for racial or other reasons and must, therefore, be broken up now, or it must be made to continue in some form; and I think that we have to accept the fact that that form is unlikely to be reached by agreement. In other words, the United Kingdom Government will have to give the lead.
Let us consider for a moment what the break-up of Federation means. Though the non-racial Commonwealth has been a success on the international scale, it would mean that non-racial government has failed on the national level. It would mean that 140,000 Nyasa Africans now working in Southern Rhodesia would be ejected and, although Southern Rhodesian Africans would welcome this decision, as it would help to solve their unemployment problem, it would make the position in Nyasaland more desperate. The only person who could then pull the people of Nyasaland out of this economic disaster would be the British taxpayer, who already has many commitments throughout the Commonwealth.
There is another danger. I do not think that we can treat the Southern Rhodesian politicians as if they lived in Kenya. Southern Rhodesia has been self-governing since 1923. The economy is based on light and heavy industry; it is not an agricultural economy like that of Kenya. If they are pushed too far they will initiate the break-up of the Federation. I believe they would do so unwillingly, but if too much pressure were applied I believe they would decide to cut their losses and "go it alone". I think that they could "go it alone", although economically and politically it would be undesirable for them to do so.
If we agree that we must do everything we can to maintain some form of 436 federal association, the basis must be one of maintaining standards. We must consider standards rather than colour. We are the trustees for the vast mass of Africans who do not understand or bother about these issues at all. We must maintain a strong economy in the Federation. Otherwise, we cannot produce the education, the technical equipment and everything that is necessary for a modern State, and we shall never produce Africans in any number to take their place in a modern State. The hon. Member for Wednesbury wants them to take over tomorrow, and I want them to take over the day after tomorrow. Not only will investment dry up, but the civil servants will not be able to continue to operate unless we can maintain high standards. Perhaps we can learn a lesson by looking at what is happening in Kenya at the moment. Maintenance of standards must be the basis for the future.
To be constructive, may I suggest one or two things that might be done. My suggestions do not go so far as the Monckton Commission's Report, but I believe that they might be acceptable to black and white. No one in the House can be certain that we shall succeed in maintaining a federal structure, although we all want to try to do so. We could give more power to the territorial Governments so that, eventually, the two Northern Governments could work up to the present status enjoyed by Southern Rhodesia and enjoy full internal self-government. This would mean less power for the Federal Government, but we could compensate for that by giving the Federal Government full jurisdiction in their own sphere, not subject to detailed examination by this House, thus making the people of Central Africa look towards their own Government. This would entail a much wider franchise in the territories and a restricted franchise on the federal level. Possibly a senate could take over the duties and responsibilities of the African Affairs Board.
Finally, on the question of secession, I sympathise and agree in principle with those who say that it is not possible to maintain federation in the ultimate without the consent of the people. I therefore suggest that the secession question should only be introduced when the 437 Federation is on the verge of independence. If we say to the people of the Federation, "When you are ready for independence it will be given to you either as a whole or as three individual partners", I think that we shall then make all races in the Federation work to maintain the Federation, because they will all want independence as soon as possible. If, on the other hand, we introduced secession before that time, we should lead to the political and economic consequences which I have already outlined.
The main factor is one of confidence. The Monckton Commission's Report has been a shock in this country, and an even bigger shock in Rhodesia. Perhaps it has made people realise the facts of life as they exist in the world as we know it in 1960. I therefore suggest that to try to make people in Central Africa appreciate Changed conditions and to restore confidence it might be considered that this conference should be held in Central Africa rather than in London. The people in their own surroundings might be led to understand these facts of life, whereas they might feel that these ideas were being pushed upon them if they were to come to London and that people in London were exerting undue pressure upon them. I therefore suggest that, at any rate, the beginning of the conference might take place in Central Africa. A clear lead must be given by the Government to show that they intend, as far as humanly possible, to maintain a federal structure for the reasons given. The methods of doing it—here, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Sir R. Robinson)—should be flexible, but this lead must be given now.
May I refer to another territory in the Commonwealth which has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. I refer to Malta. I mention Malta now because I foresee more trouble there in the future. I am sure that we all hoped that when the Constitution was suspended every opportunity would be taken for laying a firm foundation for Malta's economy, and that she would get away from a defence economy and create a diversified economy. We in this country have done everything we can.
The Secretary of State, in answer to a Question in May, stated that this country 438 was putting as much money, if not more, into Malta as we did in the heyday of Mr. Mintoff's Government. That fact, however, is not appreciated by the Maltese people. The dockyard is fie centre of Malta's economy. The fact that the conversion of the dockyard has not started to any large extent is having an unfortunate effect upon Maltese opinion. A colonial Government have to be very careful not only in what they do, but in what they appear to do, because there is no means of criticising as long as there is no Maltese Parliament. There is a considerable amount of criticism over the failure to start building a hotel and casino which creates anti-British propaganda alleging, unfairly, that we do not wish other European capital to go into the island because we want to keep it all to ourselves.
The terms of reference of the Constitutional Commission for Malta are restricted and will obviously only serve to introduce an interim Constitution. I hope that Her Majesty's Government are giving thought to the future. Is Malta still to be primarily a base? If not, should not Malta take her full place in the Commonwealth? Is it possible to give Malta some lower status when we have accorded full independence to Cyprus within the Commonwealth? I must not labour those points now, but I hope they are in the minds of Her Majesty's Government and of hon. Members on both sides of the House.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I am tempted to follow the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) in his remarks on Malta, but I shall refrain from doing so. I should like, however, to make one comment on another part of his speech. I think it would be disastrous if the conference were held in Salisbury rather than in London. I cannot think of anything more likely to introduce the maximum amount of friction. It is very much better that it should be held here away from all friction and controversy. There would then be some likelihood of it succeeding. An hon. Friend reminds me that in any case there might be difficulty in finding accommodation in the hotels in Salisbury.
I should like to refer to a remark by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). He said what others have said 439 before, that the Labour Party started the idea of federation. I should like it to go on record that all that the Labour Party did—and I was one of the Ministers in charge at the time—was to have an official committee sitting to discuss federation. The Committee reported in favour of federation and the Labour Government said that they commended the Report as a basis for discussion.
It would not be far wrong to say that the present Government and the Secretary of State, who made a very carefully restrained speech, might be said to have commended the Monckton Commission's Report as a basis for discussion. That does not mean that he believed in it, but that he regarded it simply as a good basis for discussion. That is as far as the Secretary of State went today.
I personally welcomed the Report, and I should like to pay my humble tribute to the members of the Commission. I think that it is a most remarkable Report; even more remarkable for the fact that to many of us, and certainly to myself, it was wholly unexpected. Imagine a Commission, composed of a large number of people living in Rhodesia, excluding completely all the Labour Party in this country—I know that they excluded themselves, but they were nevertheless excluded from it—and excluding, also by their own wish, all the militant Africans. Imagine that Commission to be presided over by an ex-Tory Minister and one might well suppose that their Report would have been a white-washing report, saying that Rhodesia was going along very well, everything was all right, and with a few little alterations it would be quite satisfactory to settle for another five or ten years government similar to that which had been going on before.
But it did nothing of the kind. What was its biggest recommendation? I think personally that its most important recommendation was the recommendation for parity. It is a very brave recommendation, but I am not sure that I altogether agree with it. There are certain practical difficulties in it. The nearest that we have had to parity in this Parliament was when the Labour Government had a majority of six, and we all know the difficulties that were 440 involved. I experienced them once when I had to come to this House, against doctor's orders, when I was just recovering from pneumonia. My Government driver told me afterwards that the drivers were having bets with the policemen as to whether or not I should live through the Division.
We cannot imagine having that kind of thing constantly, with everything decided finally by the Speaker's casting vote. I do not think that the Speaker would have an easy time and it would make government extremely difficult.
I am more in favour of the proposal made by Mrs. Huxley and other members that we should have a twenty-twenty-twenty basis—twenty Africans, twenty Europeans and twenty who would be chosen from a joint electoral roll. I am in favour of it only on one condition, and that is that the roll is so made that Africans can have at any rate a reasonable chance of securing a number of seats. I do not suggest that there should be complete African franchise or that they should have an absolute majority and get all the seats, but they must at least be enabled to get some of the seats, and that must be dependent on African votes as well as European votes. It would be disastrous if Africans were elected by a primarily European vote, because there would be only those Africans most convenient for the Europeans to elect.
One of the recommendations to which I attach very great importance, and which I am glad that the Government are beginning to follow out, is the recommendation that in the two territories for which we are responsible there shall be African majorities in the Legislative Councils. I think that is of the utmost importance. The Secretary of State for the Colonies is already taking steps towards that end in Nyasaland and is, I gather, considering taking further steps in Northern Rhodesia. I hope that he will take such steps and that these two recommendations will be carried out.
I turn to the question of the economic situation. It has been said by a number of people that the main reason for carrying on the Federation is the economic one. It is said that federation has brought immense benefits to the Africans. My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) had several very 441 important things to say on that. He described, for instance, how one African got a penny a day extra pay as a result of federation. That is not very much. I should like to quote one or two figures. The gross national product per head, which is quite a good thing to judge by, went up from 1954 to 1959 by 30 per cent. in Rhodesia. At first sight, that sounds very good, but in Nigeria it has gone up by 35 per cent., in Kenya by 44 per cent. and in Sierra Leone by 66 per cent., so we cannot really say that Federation has had such a wonderful result when we see other countries which have not suddenly had this great change brought about equally increasing their standard of living and gross national output.
My hon. Friend talked about wages. African wages have gone up by 23 per cent. from 1954 to 1959, and that again is quite a large increase, but the pay of people working on subsistence farming has gone up only 12 per cent., half that amount. I think I am correct in saying that two-thirds of the people working in Rhodesia are working on subsistence farming rather than for the payment of wages. That does not seem to me to be a very big increase.
Although I personally am in favour of federation and hope that it will continue, I think that it can only continue if it satisfies the Africans on a number of very important points. The economic advantages are not sufficient for us to want to continue federation unless it will satisfy the Africans on these points. The most important is that of racial discrimination. The Secretary of State said that the African looked upon federation as a device to keep the white man on top. How right they have been in the past to do so. That is what has been so disastrous. This curious concept of partnership has been invented in order to pull the wool over the eyes of Africans for a number of years and make them think that in some way they were getting a partnership when in fact they were getting nothing of the kind.
The Commission has some interesting things to say on racial discrimination. On page 75, it says:The reference to 'partnership' in the Preamble to the 1953 Constitution led Africans to believe that discrimination would quickly disappear. The fact that it did not, and that the term itself has remained undefined, has resulted in growing suspicion and disillusion.442 That is certainly not an over-statement. Unfortunately, the Africans thought that the Preamble really meant what it said. Many of us feared that it did not mean what it said, and we have been proved abundantly right.
Again, the Commission states:Throughout our tours of the three Territories we heard much evidence of racial discrimination … It follows that no new form of association is likely to succeed unless Southern Rhodesia is willing to make drastic changes in its racial policy.These are very strong words indeed, words which I would never have expected from the Commission, but words which I am delighted to see, nevertheless. The Commission speaks of discrimination, of pass laws, discrimination in cinemas, hotels and even public lavatories. Discrimination in all these ways is something that means much more than many big political constitutions mean. After all, why did we lose so much good will when we were in India? It was not so much because of our political policies; it was largely because of the intolerant attitude taken by a number of white people in India—not by everybody by any means—and I think that they were responsible far more than any Governments were for the ill-will that was felt for us during much of our rule in India. The same thing is happening in Rhodesia.
I come now to the subject of safeguards. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) stressed how important it was—I echo his words—that the Government should really use the African Affairs Board, which is not being used today, and that they should not only use it but should take steps to use what powers they have—and they have powers—to control legislation in so far as it affects racial discrimination in Southern Rhodesia also. They should do both those things. If they do, there may be some hope of improvement in regard to discrimination.
One matter on which there is more discrimination than anything else, and which is not a matter of legislation, is differences in pay. There is no equal pay for equal work there, nor is there equal chance of promotion. Why is this so? It may be said that the Africans are not able to do the work and most of the important jobs must go to the Europeans. I agree, of course, that very many 443 Africans are not able to do all the top-level jobs which are done by Europeans today. But why is this? I will tell the House.
In Nigeria, 6,000 students went to the United Kingdom in 1959. During the same year, the total number from the whole of East and Central Africa was 847. Of those, 300 came from Uganda, so the total from the whole of the rest of East and Central Africa was only 547. Students can, of course, go to the University in Salisbury, and a few of them have gone.
§ Mr. Dugdale
My hon. Friend says the number is 50, not very many. Unless students are able to study and learn law, agriculture, education and so on, one cannot hope to have the material one wants to fill the higher positions. It is vital that we ensure that Africans are rapidly trained for these positions.
We have heard a great deal lately about the Congo, and we have been told that the Congo presents an example of how freedom should not be given too suddenly to a country. Sir Roy Welensky has pointed to it as an example of what might happen if Rhodesia were set free. The trouble in the Congo, of course, was that the Belgians never gave any opportunities of Africans to work in important jobs. In the Army in the Congo, for instance, there was not, I understand, a single black officer. But there is not a single black officer in the Rhodesian Army either. Matters have gone even further recently in that a completely white Rhodesian force has been formed in which there are not even black privates, sergeants or sergeant-majors. Everyone is white. I cannot believe that that is good. It is something which we should alter and which we must see is altered if the Federation is to continue.
The most important sentence in the whole Monckton Report, in my view, is on page 37 where it is said thatTime is not on the Federation's side".Why did the Monckton Commission recommend secession? I shall not discuss whether it was entitled to recommend it or not. That has been dealt with already. It did recommend it. Why? I think the reason was that it knew that all the African people or, at any rate, 444 the vast majority of them, want to be able to secede if possible. They want the power to secede. In 1953, when the Federation was set up, the Government said that time would show the success of Federation and the Africans would like it. Things would get better, they said, and the Africans would see the advantages of Federation and more and more of them would come to support it.
This has not happened. The very reverse has happened, as many of us feared it would. In fact, the Africans dislike it more than ever. The Monckton, Commission saw that the only possible way to preserve federation, and they wanted to preserve it, was to allow secession in five years and, in the meantime, to see to it that discrimination was abolished as rapidly as possible. That is what the Commission wanted to do. That is the plan they have set out. I believe that, if the Government support the Monckton Commission's findings, generally speaking, when they go to the conference, federation may yet be preserved. If they fail to do so, it will undoubtedly disappear.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I am very glad to have an opportunity to take part in this debate, because I have only just returned from more than a month's stay in the Federation. I was there when the Monckton Report was published and, naturally, I heard everyone's reaction to it, from the most extreme white settler, on the one hand, to the most extreme African Nationalist, on the other, with every possible shade of political grey in between.
I shall not waste the time of the House by discussing the terms of reference of the Commission, which have been referred to already today, because, whatever the rights or wrongs of that, I do not believe that the issue is any longer relevant. The fact is that the opt-out suggestion has been made and, as a matter of political reality as opposed to moral recrimination, all discussion now starts de novo from there.
For the Africans, the Monckton Report has now become the minimum that they will accept. For Sir Roy Welensky, it goes, perhaps, beyond the maximum which he is willing to concede. That is really the dilemma which faces the London Review Conference. Broadly, 445 I agree with almost every hon. Member who has taken part in today's debate in saying that we should accept the Report as the basis. Together with other hon. Members, I congratulate Lord Monckton and the other Commissioners, including my right hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), on the excellence of the Report.
The proposal for the devolution of functions from the Federal to the Territorial Governments seems to me to be sensible and inevitable. In fact, this proposal was very little discussed by anybody when I was in the Federation, and I am quite sure that an acceptable compromise on the lines of the Monckton Report can probably be reached.
The racial parity proposal, the 30/30 in the Federal Assembly, with one vote-less Asian—rather an odd proposal, I thought—did not really find favour with anyone I spoke to. It seems to perpetuate and to underline the racial approach which the whole of the rest of the Report seeks to avoid. For myself, I hope that it will just be quietly dropped.
All the discussion in the Federation was concentrated, of course, on the proposal for secession. I believe that the possibility of a solution turns very largely upon Sir Roy Welensky's attitude when he comes to the constitutional talks. When I was in Salisbury, he was, not unnaturally, very cross and very disposed to be uncompromising on this issue. I hope that he will be more accommodating in London, because I agree with other hon. Members who have said this afternoon that one really cannot force people to federate if they do not wish to do so. It is really a contradiction in terms, and inimical to the very meaning of the word, Federation. Apart from force, I have heard no single constructive alternative for keeping the Federation in being other than the suggestion made by the Monckton Commission.
In my view, the political argument in the Report leading up to the secession proposal is intellectually almost irrefutable. Nevertheless, as almost every hon. Member has emphasised, the economic advantages for everybody concerned, particularly, of course, for Nyasaland, are so great that I think it is our duty to keep the Federation in existence if we possibly can. That is precisely what the 446 Report is trying to do. It is trying to persuade instead of force the Africans to stay in at least for another five years in the hope—perhaps it is only a slender hope—that in the meantime, given some personal experience of Government, men like Dr. Banda may come to see for themselves the enormous advantages there are in federation and may elect in the end not to exercise their right to opt out.
It may not work that way, but at least it buys time and it may salvage something from the burning. After all, anything can happen in five years. But although I support the suggestion and the Report, I doubt whether in the end the Federation will in fact be saved. The key to that view lies in the one word used in the Report that the hatred of federation by the Africans has now become almost "pathological". If that is so—and I believe that it is so—I do not know whether, in a period like five years, this very strong feeling can be changed. I still think that it is worth trying. It is essential to try, but I am not particularly optimistic. I am particularly pessimistic if, in the meantime, the racial policies of the Southern Rhodesian Government have not undergone a radical change.
The truth is—and we might as well be perfectly frank about it—that there is no African leader in any one of the three Territories who does not hate and fear the Southern Rhodesian Government. I cannot find it in my heart to blame them. I believe that I should feel the same if I were an African. Think of the situation—2¾ million Africans in Southern Rhodesia and about 250,000 Europeans, but not one African in the Southern Rhodesian Parliament. There is a rigid colour bar and complete housing segregation so that no African is allowed to own or even to lease a house, shop or office in the City of Salisbury. To me, it is a tragedy that the Europeans, who have made Central Africa, who have created it out of nothing, are now engaged, through their racial policies, in the unedifying task of destroying their own creation. That is really what it amounts to.
Race relations in Southern Rhodesia are deteriorating very rapidly indeed. That was my strong impression when I was there. The fact that a motor accident in Highfields, which was 447 nobody's fault, could spark off what amounted to a race riot is symptomatic of the whole racial atmosphere which at present exists in Southern Rhodesia. The fact that the Army is mobilised and is picketing the African townships night and day, and the fact that Sir Robert Tredgold, the Chief Justice, has just resigned from the Bench because he cannot in conscience implement the repressive legislation which has just been rushed through the Southern Rhodesian Parliament mean, if they mean anything at all, that the United Federal Party Government have missed the political bus. For years they have paid lip service to the idea of partnership, but their implementation of it has been much too little much too late.
I do not quite agree with what the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) said about the pinpricks. If, two or three years ago, the colour bar in hotels, restaurants, cinemas, and so on, had been removed, and if then instead of now Southern Rhodesia had begun the repeal of the Land Apportionment Act, the impact on African opinion would have been very considerable. But I believe that it has gone beyond that. I believe that the removal of the pinpricks today is no longer enough, and that is the tragedy. We have got to the point where an improvement in the franchise is about all that even the moderate Africans are really interested in.
In theory, there should be ample scope for compromise between the African demand for one man, one vote now and what the U.F.P. might be willing to concede of one man, one vote one day—maybe twenty years. There should be a meeting ground in the middle, but the terrible thing is that I do not know whether that meeting ground exists. The more moderate of the N.D.P. leaders would compromise, I think. I am not altogether sure that the present leaders of the U.F.P. in Southern Rhodesia are prepared to meet them half-way. If they do not, there is a serious danger that the moderate Africans will soon be replaced by much more extreme men who will not even see the need to compromise on issues of this sort; and, therefore, it will again be too late and the opportunity will have been lost.
448 One of the difficulties is the quite inexplicable reluctance of many of the European leaders even to meet the African politicians. I do not take any credit to myself, but I was told quite seriously and on good authority that in just over a month I had met more African leaders than the leaders of the U.F.P. had bothered to meet in years. If that is so, it is a very serious and lamentable lack of leadership on the part of those men. I should have thought that Sir Roy Welensky, who is able, attractive, charming, and a most impressive personality, could have won almost anybody over in private contact, at any rate to the point of getting on friendly personal terms. Once one is on friendly personal terms with someone, there is always scope to talk and negotiate, and there is a better atmosphere in which to do it.
The fact is, whatever the cause, that no African has the least confidence that the present United Federal Party Leaders will ever genuinely implement a real policy of partnership. Personally, I would not advocate universal suffrage now. I do not think that is "on" at all. Top-level African leaders are still rather few and far between, and I think the educational and intellectual standards of some of the others are roughly comparable to those of Ghana about 30 years ago. I do not therefore advocate universal suffrage now.
The fact remains, however, that there are some very good Africans. Anyhow, they can be taught. One of the sad things is that they are not being taught. Not enough effort is being made in this direction. Although 85 per cent. of the African children in Southern Rhodesia get some sort of primary education, only 1 per cent. get any secondary education. There are only fifty Africans in the Federal universities. Yet it is essential and, I should have thought, the whole object of the exercise, to educate, build up and bring on an Afrcan middle class which can take responsibility in the future.
Basically, it seems to me that the dilemma for the European is whether he is to try to maintain his position by force and in the process incur the hatred of the African, or whether he is to aim genuinely at equality, which involves the 449 sacrifice of political power. The right-wing Dominion Party in Southern Rhodesia has obviously decided for domination. The middle-of-the-road United Federal Party has, I think, decided for partnership, but the trouble is that it has probably decided too late and in so doing has lost the good will without which it is almost impossible to make it work. The only party which would give partnership now is the Central African Party which, since the collapse of Garfield Todd, is virtually without a leader or electoral support. It may be that Sir Robert Tredgold will enter politics as the leader of enlightened European opinion, which is growing in Southern Rhodesia, particularly among the younger businessmen. That was one of the most encouraging features of my visit.
But there are problems about that. Sir Robert may be too liberal to command the majority support of the Europeans and, perhaps, not liberal enough to command the majority support of the Africans. He is universally respected and it is just a chance; but it really is last-ditch stuff when the Chief Justice has to resign and go into politics to save the political situation.
I must say that the picture is depressing politically, and because it is depressing politically, it is not too good economically either. Businesses are not expanding, new capital is not coming in and new employment and wealth are not being created as they were a few years ago. I believe that if we can get agreement at the Review Conference a lot may flow from that and investment will begin to come in again, because outside capital will see that things are on the right lines and there will be more confidence. If we cannot get agreement at the Review Conference, I am sure that for some time the economy will continue to stagnate.
Northern Rhodesia, I thought, was much more hopeful, because there, unlike in Southern Rhodesia, we in Britain have the power and we can set the pace. It must not be as fast a pace as a lot of the Africans want, because I do not think they are quite ready for it yet. On the other hand, it must not be as slow a pace as most of the Europeans want, because that would be to fall into the same error as has been made in Southern Rhodesia.
450 We are engaged upon this terribly difficult exercise of the devolution of power to an African majority and we have got to get the timing absolutely right. I have the greatest possible confidence that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will get it right, and I think he is, in fact, getting it right. Meanwhile, one thing of which I am sure, is that we must spend far more money on educating and training the Africans, to whom we shall transfer power, than we have ever contemplated spending before. That is one of the highest priorities.
It is difficult to tell in merely one personal interview, but of the African leaders I think that Kenneth Kaunda is politically the most significant. He seemed to me to be reasonable and moderate in conversation and he seemed fully to understand white fears of what an African Government might do. I am sure that he has no intention Whatever of interfering with the great copper-mining companies under European ownership and control. He is not such a fool as to do that. He hopes that the Overseas Civil Service will stay on to teach the Africans how to run the administration, and that is essential. We must do almost anything in the way of pension guarantees, and so on, to make it worth the while of these people to stay on. This is of vital importance. It would cost a little money, but it is well worth while.
Laurence Katalungu is another African leader who impressed me enormously. I gather that he is now likely to enter politics as an A.N.C. leader, and I hope that he will. He is moderate in his views. He will work with Europeans and through the chiefs. I thought him a most sincere and able man. For an African, who intends to enter politics as a nationalist leader, to have signed the Majority Report of the Monckton Commission was not only an action of great responsibility, but also showed a most remarkable degree of political courage.
Lastly, there is Nyasaland, where Dr. Banda is, of course, the key. He is supreme with his own people, the Messiah figure who has come across the seas to lead his people to freedom. I hope and think that he will come to England prepared to compromise on the basis of the Monckton Report. It would be much easier for him to do so had 451 it been possible, which, I imagine, it no longer is, to hold the review talks after the Nyasaland elections instead of just before To have come as the elected representative of the Nyasaland people instead of merely as the leader of the Malawi Party would have made a great difference to the scope which he would feel was available to him if it were necessary to reach a compromise in London. Nothing can be done about that now, however, and much the best hope of agreement lies in the faith and confidence which Dr. Banda undoubtedly has in my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. That is an important factor in the present situation.
People say that there is a great deal of intimidation in Nyasaland. There is so much first-hand evidence of it that there is no doubt whatever that it is true. A man's hut may be burned down, his bicycle may be stolen, he may be threatened, abused, and socially ostracised. All these things happen, not, I believe, by Dr. Banda's orders, but they nevertheless happen and the cumulative effect may be fairly influential.
On the other hand, it is possible to exaggerate that sort of thing. I do not believe that except, perhaps, in a highly organised, modern police state, it is possible physically to intimidate 1,122,176 people, which was the Malawi Party membership in September this year. There is no doubt, too, that the dignity and the authority of many of the chiefs is being undermined by members of the Malawi Party. In the past, those men have loyally co-operated with us and they feel that we are letting them down—and, of course, we are. That is one of the personal human tragedies that inevitably accompanies the transference of power. I do not see how we can avoid it, but it was certainly an embarrassing attitude to have to answer, because I felt it to be true. It is rather difficult for the provincial commissioners and the district commissioners who have to work this problem on the ground to see it happening all the time before their eyes.
All this we are doing in the cause of the sacred cow of democracy, which is probably not even the system of government which Dr. Banda will choose when he comes to power—not that I criticise that. It will probably be a one-man, 452 one-party Government as in Ghana. I do not criticise that. I am not sure that democracy is really an exportable commodity to the African Continent.
It is true also that the mass of the Nyasaland people have no idea whatever of the great political issues or what federation is about. It is true that there is intimidation of the chiefs and ignorance of the issues, but these things are really irrelevant. The only political reality is that Dr. Banda is supreme in Nyasaland and can command the unquestioned support of his people. That is the position, at least at the moment. Whatever may be said about intimidation, great crowds of people walk many miles simply to hear Dr. Banda, even when he does not speak their own language. His power is extraordinary. So he is the man with whom we must deal.
To sum up, we must try to save federation if we possibly can. In my view, the Monckton Report is the best—indeed, the only—way of trying to do so. If we cannot salvage the Federation, I am very gloomy indeed, because without federation Southern Rhodesia will "go it alone", inevitably and increasingly looking south to the Union for support, with all that that implies. I am sure that the majority of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia do not want that. It would be a tragedy.
In that event, Central Africa, which, as many hon. Members have said today, is the testing ground and focal point of our whole Colonial and Commonwealth policy, will have failed in this attempt to build up and evolve a genuine partnership in a multi-racial society. I hope very much that we can solve this great problem. In my view, it is just about the most difficult problem that we have ever had to solve in the whole course of our imperial history.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) is the last of a whole string of hon. Members on both sides who have helped the House very much in its discussion of these problems with their experience of visits to the Federation. I have also had the opportunity to visit the Federation, but in my case it was in 1957 when I was a member of the all-party delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
453 That was almost halfway through the history of the Federation, which began in 1953. I approach these deliberations on the future of the Federation feeling a certain amount of humility about it. After all, one's experience three years ago was three years ago, and in a rapidly changing country such as Africa it is very dangerous to draw on experience as old as that. But I am bound to say that when the Monckton Report came out the more I read it, the more I found myself saying, "That is precisely what we thought in 1957". In many cases it is precisely what we said, and in some cases what some of us would have liked to have said but did not dare to.
I think it is pitiful it should be a tossup, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said, whether this great experiment of federation which most of us agree it was, will survive and that the probabilities are against that survival. It is a terrible commentary on the history of this seven-year experiment that we should fail so lamentably.
I do not think it is possible to look at the future constructively unless one pays some attention to some of the mistakes which were made, and I should like particularly to draw attention to five errors of judgment which were made by European politicians within the Federation. The first, which was mentioned in the Monckton Report and which is something which we mentioned in our report as already beginning to happen, was the failure of the Federal Government to try to make federation live to the Africans, and particularly to the Africans in the outlying parts of the country. We thought then, and the Monckton Commission says very much the same thing, that there was no great effort made to stimulate interest in the Federation and to stir the imagination of the people.
We recorded in our report that the Federal Prime Minister had just made a journey into Nyasaland to speak about federation. We welcomed that. I was a little uncertain whether he was encouraged to go there by an enthusiasm to meet Africans in the remoter parts of the northern province or by a reluctance to meet my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) in Salisbury. However, he went, and I think that that was about the only attempt which was made to put across federation 454 as an idea to the Africans who were being asked to accept it.
The second point, which has already been mentioned, is that they failed to make racial partnership a reality. That expression "make it a reality" was used in our report in 1957, and precisely the same words were used in the Monckton Report. They failed to get across, by a real improvement in racial relations, to the Africans the feeling that the progress of federation was going to be real and genuine progress towards racial partnership. The Report mentions the kind of thing—I think the Commission used the word "indignities"—that happened to people coming into the federal capital, the indignities which they suffered there. That was the kind of thing one could see going on then, and the kind of thing which, as I say, the Monckton Report still has to mention in 1960.
The third one was that they decided to press on with the constitutional changes and with the franchise changes at a time when African fear and suspicion was growing at an enormous rate. The one thing which was necessary was to have some degree of stability, some degree of awareness among Africans that they were not going to be stampeded, and in between the beginning of federation and the review in 1960 to have made constitutional changes, however defensible some of them may be, was, I think, a major error of tactics.
The next point was the obsession, which, I think, is the only word one can use, which many European politicians had about independence. Any person who visited the Federation, such a person as the hon. Member for Surbiton described, the man of common sense who goes around talking to people of different types and of different political outlooks, found, what, I think, everybody found, that independence was just not a real thing at that time. The Monckton Report say that the insistence upon independence was a very serious handicap to the progress of federation. We used the words in our report that it wasimpeding the stability of the experiment.We said that at that time.
Unfortunately, it continued, and, of course, it had particularly bad effects in 455 an area where there was sympathy with federation, Barotseland. One had only to meet the Paramount Chief and his advisers to feel a warmth of sympathy and a desire to keep up relations with us, but, at the same time, a fear, not so much of federation as it was at the time, but of federation in the terms in which it was presented, as meaning independence very soon. I feel that what the Monckton Report suggested was right, that the linking of independence with the exercise of the choice about secession is the only possible way that that difficulty can be overcome.
I think the Government have made two major errors. There may have been many others, but there were two in particular which struck me in the past years as being absolutely disastrous. The first was the joint declaration of 1957. Against this atmosphere of suspicion, against the fear of many Africans that they were being pushed ahead away from British protection, the distress of discrimination, the fear of economic exploitation and so on. The Government agreed to the joint declaration accepting the convention that they would not interfere with federal legislation. That was done before the future of the Federation was to be considered. It was an attempt, as it were, to scramble the eggs before the final review was to take place, and I think the effect of that upon African opinion was disastrous.
The other, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East, was the virtual sabotaging—for that was what it amounted to—of the African Affairs Board. Whatever may have been the arguments in favour of those franchise changes, that was not the important point. The important point, as my hon. Friend said, was that, for the first time on a major issue, the African Affairs Board, in which the Africans were expected to have confidence, reported against the legislation, and the Government refused to uphold the Board. If they had upheld the Board there would have been a major constitutional row with the Federal Government, and possibly with the Southern Rhodesian Government as well. Of course there would; but they would have created the feeling among Africans that the African Affairs Board really had authority and had the confidence of 456 the Government in this country, and that would have helped to re-establish African acceptance of the federal outlook.
I remember quite well coming back from the Federation and going to the Commonwealth Relations Office and seeing the heads there. I do not want—it would be an abuse to do so—to repeat the conversations and discussions which took place, but I can say that I came away with the impression that a deal had been done with the Federal Prime Minister about this long before the African Affairs Board's Report came to this House for consideration, that the Government's hands were tied and they could not, even if they had wanted to at that stage, have turned down the legislation. If I felt that, how much more was it felt by the Africans. They were terribly suspicious. They felt that the European politicians had the ear of the Government here whilst they had nobody to whom they could put their point of view.
I can only say that I would hold this against the present Foreign Secretary, more than anything he has done in his political life. He made a crashing error which had a devastating effect upon the future Federation and something from which we have never recovered. He holds a great deal of responsibility for the bad mistakes made during that year.
I have not come here only to blame the Government for the mistakes that they made in 1950–57. As the Commonwealth Relations Secretary said so very wisely in his opening remarks, the root of this problem is the absence of confidence. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman put his finger on the problem, which is how we can build confidence among the Africans. However good our proposals are and however wise our suggestions, the African is a very suspicious person at the best of times. When the course of action which I have outlined has been enough to arouse the worst suspicions in a simple innocent like myself, it will certainly arouse suspicions to a much greater extent in the African.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers and colleagues that when they go to this conference they should be prepared to show their independence of Federal and Territorial Governments in these matters. At the risk of having a 457 political row, they must be prepared to demonstrate to the Africans that they are not fixing things before the conference starts. The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) was obviously a little upset about the rough passage that the Monckton Committee has had over its recommendations. I do not think that he need worry about that. Anyone who has tried to talk objectively about the problems of federation has had the same rough passage as the Committee's rcommendations have had.
If the Commonwealth Relations Secretary wants some advice and a demonstration of the best way to turn the other cheek to Sir Roy Welensky, he should take the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East who is a master at doing that. Anybody who has tried to put forward a critical view will have experienced the same reception as has been experienced by the Monckton Committee. The Government must keep in their mind all the time that they must give a real impression of their absolute independence of the Federal Government in these discussions.
Another major error that was made was over exclusion. It is one of the ironies of the whole of this business that the more unskilled people are in the art of politics the more complicated are the franchise and Constitution that they have to work. We in this country, with centuries of political experience, have a straightforward system of unitary government with a universal franchise and it is all quite easy, but backward countries have the most complicated electoral systems to work and an obscure franchise which nobody understands. This requires great delicacy of handling.
The trouble about the issue of exclusion is not simply that the Federal Government were a little discourteous to hon. Members and that they have behaved in a foolish was towards certain distinguished people but that they have shown that they have no sense of the need for this delicate handling of a carefully-balanced Constitution. For the Federal Government to use the powers that they did under the Constitution to exclude my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) was as ill-advised as somebody trying to use the Obscene Publications Act to get rid of Lady Chatterley's Lover. It is the obscenity law that goes. If the Federal 458 Government are not prepared to work with Her Majesty's Government over here and are not prepared to regard this whole experiment as a partnership with this country, the whole system of federation will break down. These mistakes will be very difficult to overcome.
I believe that it is perfectly true that the Federation has been a success economically. I thought that in 1957. One can argue about the degree of success, but, generally, I believe that it has been a success. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations mentioned particularly the advantages of having a common market among 8 million people, but it must be remembered that that is a common market predominantly of Africans and that the economy of the Federation depends upon developing an African market within the Federation. If instead of having a stable market we are to have bloodshed, fear, riot and disorder, that economic advantage will be destroyed. Therefore, political stability is as important as economic stability, because it is a condition of economic stability.
I should like to join issue with the hon. Member for Surbiton about Southern Rhodesia. I do not suggest that he was so throughout his speech but I would suggest that it is dangerous to be too hypercritical about the Southern Rhodesians. When I was in Africa I did not feel that in Northern Rhodesia they had all that to shout about in their handling of race relationships or the development of social services. I visited the Copperbelt, where less than half the children were getting a primary education. I doubt whether there has been a substantial improvement since then. That is not the position in Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Fisher
Is the hon. Member aware apart from Government expenditure on education, of the really munificent gifts towards African education made by the great copper-mining companies of the Copperbelt? They include £2½ million for primary education and a further £320,000 recently for secondary education, which is really a considerable extra help over and above money supplied from the budget.
§ Mr. MacColl
My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury quoted some figures relating to the margin out of 459 which the copper companies could provide these generous gifts, and it is about time that some of this money was ploughed back into education. I was not being so much critical of Northern Rhodesia as saying that I saw as many signs of imaginative appreciation of these problems among Europeans in Southern Rhodesia as in any other part of the Federation. We have recently had a report on land tenure, and before that there was an extremely interesting report from the Urban African Affairs Commission which was an excellent exposition of the problems in the urban setting of Africa.
I happen to know the present Minister of Justice, Mr. Reginald Knight. He is a very old friend of mine. It might interest the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) to know that when I first knew Mr. Knight he was a leading light among the Southend Young Liberals. Therefore, anyone less like a jack-booted race-conscious Fascist I can hardly imagine.
I believe that the problem in the Federation is not really a problem of a lot of wicked people trying to hold back or prevent the emancipation and development of African political power. I think that it is the case of very frightened people facing a very alarming situation. It is difficult, when one is in a minority, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East said, and one is faced by these difficulties, to keep one's head and always be wise in what one does.
That puts all the more responsibility upon the Government here to see that this attempt to salvage the Federation does not go by the board. I agree that this is our last chance. If we do not succeed in salvaging the Federation now, multiracialism, as the Monckton Report says, has gone for ever in Africa.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Captain Henry Kerby (Arundel and Shoreham)
I hope that the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail. In my opinion, the Federation has an unanswerable case. It stands for British law and order in Central Africa—yes, even today, after the resignation of Sir Robert Tredgold. It stands for educational and economic advance in Central 460 Africa. It stands for those standards which the white man, and the white man alone, has given to the black Continent and which are the only hope for the future of Africa.
The Federation stands also for ever-growing partnership between the races. Those who abuse the Federation, who wish to destroy it, stand for a Congo-United Nations solution, which is no solution at all, which is a madhouse leading to murder, rape, pestilence, hunger, poverty—in a word, anarchy.
What is the choice before us in British Central Africa? It is either an advance into federal prosperity or a retreat back into the jungle. A long, intensive, subtle and sinister campaign has been waged, and is still being waged, in Britain against the white man in Africa. This psychological warfare, this war of nerves, is aimed at the engineering of consent to the breaking up of the Federation and destruction of the last major British bastion. A blueprint for this operation is now available, in the guise of the advisory Monckton Report.
This document is a masterpiece in the Pavlovian technique of subjective conditioning. As I see it, Nyasaland is to be permitted—encouraged may be the more correct term—to opt out of the Federation. Indeed, the Malawi Congress Party is de facto in control in Nyasaland today, and this despite the fact that Dr. Banda does not speak the language of the Nyasa people whom he is to rule de jure if the Colonial Office has its way.
The British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia will then, no doubt, be accorded its so-called freedom and this will leave us with a truncated Southern Rhodesia. Luckily for itself and for its 211,000 Europeans, Southern Rhodesia is a self-governing Colony and will be able—indeed, compelled, in my view—to make urgent common cause with the republican Union of South Africa.
Meanwhile, two more new and "phoney" African States—Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia—will apply to join the United Nations and will forthwith come under United Nations protection—trusteeship, I believe they call it—and Fred Karno's United Nation's army will go in a la Congo. The basic tragedy is that the British Government seem to believe that by selling our own 461 white kith and kin in Central Africa down the river we can appease a tiny handful of black professional African agitators and self-seekers, and somehow gear them and their makeshift and "phoney" allegiance to the British Commonwealth. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Appeasement and expediency will fail in Africa as they have failed everywhere else in history. Part of the Pavlovian technique is to depict the clash in Africa today as one between black and white. History will prove this to be nothing of the sort. The real collision coming in Africa is one between black and black. Look at the Congo, at Kenya and Uganda. Look at that little fellow-travelling dictatorship in Ghana. Our tragic haste in handing over administration and government to a handful of self-seeking Africans who cannot administer and cannot govern is betraying tens of thousands of our own countrymen, women and children into the hands of, at best, primitive peoples, or, at worst, of savages.
Nor is this all. We will be sentencing simultaneously tens of thousands of black innocents, men and women, who will surely be butchered at our going. In Africa today a tiny handful of foreign-trained black agitators scream for political freedom, but political freedom is something that the mass, the overwhelming millions, of utterly childlike, simple, illiterate and intimidated Africans—intimidated by other Africans—do not understand and do not want. In any case, freedom is something which cannot be enacted into being by legislation. A three-line Whip never brought freedom to anybody, least of all, perhaps, in this House.
The basic problems in Africa today, alas, remain massive poverty, hunger, stupendous ignorance, disease and the lack of communications. What Africa needs today and will need for decades to come is not political freedom based upon the shifting sands of the United Nations, or upon Mau Mau oaths, or even upon Malawi terrorism or Dr. Nkrumah's form of government. What Africa needs today is education and more education, health services and housing, massive economic investment and development.
462 That is something for which both races, black and white, should and could work together. In the beginning, they were as parent and child; today, they stand as teacher and pupil. Eventually, in the future, but not for decades to come, they may become, and I hope most sincerely that they will become, equals and co-partners. That is precisely what the Federation is sincerely trying to achieve in British Central Africa today. Our over-riding duty in this country and in the House is to sustain and support them in every possible way rather than sabotaging them, as I believe we may do unless we are very careful.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. H. R. Rogers (Kensington, North)
The hon. and gallant Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) will forgive me if I do not follow him any more than he followed my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). The hon. and gallant Gentleman and I had many discussions on his point of view in Africa, as he well knows, and he knows that on this issue I think that, compared to him, the late Sir Waldron Smithers was a Communist. He will not, therefore, expect me to follow in detail what he said. He was a very good companion when we were in Africa and he gave us an opportunity to sharpen our points of view on his diametrically opposed view.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) dealt with the issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) in which my right hon. Friend thought that a stain had been left upon our integrity by the suggestion contained in the Motion which my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton has put down for referring a matter to the Committee of Privileges. I, too, feel a little sensitive about it, but, as time is getting on, I will say only that if anyone thinks that my advocacy can be bought by a free trip to Africa, he seriously under-rates the price of my corruption. I think that we had better let it go at that. I will add only that at no time during our visit did anyone attempt to slant our views in the direction of federation.
It is amazing that when we came back, and said that we thought that some form of federation was desirable, we were met 463 with considerable criticism from some quarters, but, having listened to the debate, I have found that almost every hon. Member has spoken in favour of some form of federation. It seems that we were only anticipating a common opinion on this issue.
§ Mr. Rogers
Perhaps we were behind it. It may be that the publication of the Monckton Report altered some points of view from what they had been prior to publication.
If there is one issue which requires wisdom and not passion it is this subject, and every speaker in the debate has Shown great restraint and responsibility in dealing with it. From my first visit to that part of Africa I was immensely impressed by the need for all of us to be extremely responsible and as wise as our limitations would allow. Goodness knows, there is enough passion in Central Africa without there being any here.
I am told that the altitude of 5,000 feet, at which the people of Central Africa live, has strange effects upon the emotions. I read in one newspaper that at 5,000 feet a mild flirtation becomes a violent love affair. It may be that political emotions are equally stimulated by that unusual altitude and we may have to subtract something from the words and actions of the people who live there. At least, I got the impression that there was an undue degree of pessimism in the whole area. Central Africa has a great future if only men on both sides of the fence would act with wisdom and restraint and out of mutual regard for each other instead of in hatred, as so many political issues seem to be determined these days.
Until I went to Central Africa, I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) was the most unpopular man in Central Africa. I had to revise my opinion very rapidly, because I found that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonial Secretary were far more unpopular, especially among the white settlers. Words were used about them which even as a political opponent, would never have dreamed of selecting. There is no doubt that if they 464 wisih to raise the reputation of the Conservative Government in that part of the world they have to act with exceptional wisdom.
I was particularly struck, if I may use a strong word, by the evil influence of the Afrikaaners in that part of the country. Of course, in Central Africa they have refugees from the ideology of the Afrikaaners, but they have also a large number of people from South Africa who have gone into the Rhodesias—particularly the Copperbelt—and other parts to make their living in a reasonable period of years; and then to retire to South Africa and buy a farm and sit on the stoop, or whatever they do when they have retired. In talking to these Afrikaaners I did find what is perhaps one of the main emotional reasons for the racial differences in Southern Rhodesia. For example, we went to one big ranch there and one of the men said to me, "I don't call them Africans, I call them Kaffirs. They always were savages and they always will be."
That was the extreme point of view, but I found far too much of this among those people from South Africa. I did say to one of the politicians there that if they wanted to make prohibited immigrants it would be a good thing if they put some restriction on the number of people coming from South Africa who held these apartheid views. It was my impression that they were causing a good deal of mischief among the extreme parties in the Federation.
I was struck, too, by the varying standards of payment to the African. Of course, the standards in the Copperbelt are, as everyone knows, much higher than anywhere else in the Federation. But from the relatively high wages in the Copperbelt one can go to the extreme poverty of 1s. 3d. or 2s. a day of the Nyasa in Nyasaland and the wage in Southern Rhodesia, which is somewhere between the two. In one factory in Bulawayo the managing director told us that, with overtime, the African worker earned as much at £2 a week. I was told that a committee had been set up and had reported that Africans in that part of the country needed £14 10s. a month as the minimum on which to live; so that there is a big gap between what the African gets and what he ought to have to live at anything like a reasonable standard.
465 Like my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury, I felt that the economy of Central Africa would be much more stable if steps were taken immediately to raise the standard of the African workers. It is all very well to say that the national cake is not very large and that it is no use increasing purchasing power unless there are sufficient slices of the cake to be handed out, but the fact is that they will never provide a market or stimulate businessmen to go there unless there is a bigger home market than is represented by the low standard of the African. One step they could take to improve their economy is to provide a reasonable increase in the standard of the African.
Even in the Copperbelt I found, by discreet inquiry, that there was quite a considerable margin of profit in the price per ton of copper and the expense of producing it, which would allow for quite a considerable increase in the remuneration of the copper workers. I was told that 10 per cent. of the African workers in that part of Northern Rhodesia own motor cars and I must say, quite categorically, that many Africans earning far inferior wages to the white men there were much better off than the Jamaicans in my constituency who earn the same salaries as white men.
That is a remarkable fact. Of course, because the climate is different they do not need so much clothing and their food is different and cheaper. Some of the people in my constituency, black and white, but I am referring to black at the moment, and who live in the slums of Notting Hill, have no bathroom or kitchen. Some have one room for which they pay very high rent. They are less well off than these Africans in the Copperbelt. The Africans there have a far better standard of living than many of the Jamaicans in my constituency. That is a thought we ought to bear in mind when we consider what has been done for them. Quite clearly, in other parts of the Federation there is a great deal of room for improvement in standards.
I was particularly struck by the condition of the women. I am quite sure that if some of the ardent feminists in our country could see the way in which the African treats his women their views on the problem would suffer a very sharp 466 change. We were told in Southern Rhodesia that the African whose standard was improving was not bringing his women along with him. Many came from the bush and got a job in a town and, as polygamy is permitted, a man would then take another wife, and there would be more children. He did not improve the condition of his original wife and children back in the kraal. I asked about this in Bulawayo and other towns and they said that it was true that the African was not bringing his woman along with him.
I was even more struck in Nyasaland when we drove hundreds of miles along the roads by the sides of which there are always many Africans. One would see a man strolling along and behind him would be his wife with a baby on her back, a bundle on her head and carrying other bundles in her hands. I asked the Africans what they wanted and they said, "One man, one vote", but no one said, "One woman, one vote". The only African I questioned seriously about why they did not want equality for women and votes for women said, after a moment of silence, "Well, they are not ready for it". That I thought a little sad in view of the fact that so many say that the African male is not ready for it yet.
I want to say a few words on the subject of federation. I, like all who were on the visting delegation, became quite independently convinced, as everyone else has been, that federation is extremely desirable for the future of the areas. I agreed with it when it was first proposed by the Labour Government, when the word was first used. It appears to be right; it is the way mankind is developing all over the world, closer co-operation, harmony and integration of States for economic and political purposes. I thought it a good thing. When I heard the opposition to it, my allegiance to the idea wavered somewhat. Having been out there, I can see that the idea is absolutely right for that part of Africa. As all the other hon. Members who have spoken have said, I think that we ought to make a real effort to save it, but, like the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), I do not know whether we can, whether it is not too late.
I have a feeling, as some other hon. Members have, that there is a great deal 467 of unnecessary misunderstanding between the three territories. I found, for example, that the Southern Rhodesians thought that Northern Rhodesia would immediately secede if given the opportunity, as well as Nyasaland. I found in Northern Rhodesia, at least among the people we saw, those prepared to continue federation with Southern Rhodesia even if Nyasaland decided to opt out. In Nyasaland, I found equal misunderstandings of the point of view of some of the leaders in Northern Rhodesia. It would do a great deal of good if whites and Africans throughout the whole territory got closer together, for I am sure that they would find that they have points of contact and understanding which they had not previously realised.
One interesting fact which I found out was that the reasons for opposition to the Federation in Northern Rhodesia are much deeper and of longer standing than many people realise. I was told, for example, of the ancient conflict between the tribes of Northern Rhodesia and the Matabele, and the fear of the tribes, when Lewanika appealed to Queen Victoria for protection against the warlike Matabele. There is no doubt that amongst the Africans in Northern Rhodesia this tribal history has something, although not everything, to do with their opposition to federation with Southern Rhodesia.
By and large, however, I agree with hon. Members that the opposition to federation was largely because of their fear and hatred of Southern Rhodesia. We met many liberals in Southern Rhodesia and we also met a number of reactionaries. I met people who thought that the liberals were gradually gaining the ascendency in Southern Rhodesia and that Sir Roy Welensky could have taken bolder steps towards partnership than he has taken in the past. I am not capable of judging whether the rate of progress has been as fast as it could have been, but it certainly seems to have been far too slow to satisfy African opinion.
My opinion about secession is that I do not see what it will do. If the demands of the Africans are not met, then, clearly, the continuance of the Federation, with the option of seceding after five years, will mean only that the African parties will step up their agitation 468 in the next five years and eventually the territories will secede. It will mean that business, which is now at a standstill, will deteriorate. This is causing unemployment, which, in turn, is causing disturbances, and all this will get worse. The position can only deteriorate in such circumstances until the time secession takes place.
If, on the other hand, the demands of the Africans are met, then possibly, in that climate, to offer the possibility of secession after five or seven years may be useful, because if the Africans are satisfied with what they have, they will not want to secede. Unless we succeed in getting some agreement at the conference, however, it seems to me that it would be far better to break the Federation up now and to let the force of events and the economic interdependence of the three territories bring them together at some later stage.
I make my next remark with all modesty and diffidence, because I do not pretend that I know enough about the subject to be dogmatic—and I should be a fool to be dogmatic; but my feeling is that before any steps are taken to discuss secession a great effort ought to be made, particularly by Southern Rhodesia, to give the greatest possible concessions to the Africans. At this stage, such concessions as the abolition of colour discrimination, equal social rights and parity in representation in Parliament need to be made in a spectacular way if the Africans' suspicions and hatred is to be broken down. If a generous measure of concessions such as those were made, it might change the climate so that we could then proceed to discuss the question of the continuance of the Federation and, if we liked to do so, to leave in the agreement the possibility of secession at a future date.
I think that there is no need to despair. With the right degree of wisdom on both sides, federation can continue, provided that the fundamental rights of the Africans are met. After all, who imagined in 1953 that the Northern Nigerians and the Southern Nigerians would in 1960 be in such harmony as is the case today? We all remember when the Southern Nigerians booed the representatives of Northern Nigeria. I remember a friend of mine, who was in the Nigerian Civil Service, saying at the 469 time that there was no possibility of the North and South coming to agreement. They have done so. Everyone in Africa says that Nigeria offers brighter hopes for the development of a State than anywhere else in the continent. Therefore, we need not despair. I am sure that the sense of responsibility which hon. Members have shown in discussing this question augurs well for the action the House will take when it has to decide.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
The even tenor of the debate and the sense of responsibility to which the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. G. H. R. Rogers) referred have been disturbed only twice. The first occasion was a most unfortunate reference by one hon. Member opposite to the Prime Minister of the Federation, which I think will not appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT and, therefore, I will not refer to it, except in passing.
§ Mr. Edwards
The hon. Gentleman was referring to a statement I made in the debate when analysing a man's background.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. Let us get on with the debate.
§ Mr. Fell
I was quite willing to allow the hon. Gentleman to put his foot in it. He made the interjection without rising, and I had hoped that such a disgraceful interjection would not appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I may be wrong.
The second thing which disturbed the even tenor of the debate was a suggestion, which I thought unworthy of a Conservative Member of Parliament, made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald). He may have been trying to be funny; I do not know. I am sorry that he is not here so that I could say this to his face. He seemed to say some very odd things about the Federal 470 Government and whether they had given the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission to their legal department to look at. He suggested, in the most facetious manner possible, that they had probably only given them to a public relations company. I thought that this statement was, first, not worthy of a Privy Councillor, and, secondly, an odd thing for a member of the Monckton Commission to say.
Before I go any further I have an apology to make. I have not read anything like enough of the Monckton Corn-mission Report. I managed to obtain my second copy only when I came to town this week. There was an unfortunate accident with my other copy. My daughter has a large Great Dane—large even for a Great Dane. It eats an enormous amount, has an iron constitution, and never suffers from indigestion. It was very hungry one night and ate my copy of the Monckton Commission Report. It was immediately sick all over one of my carpets. I am not sure whether my story has a moral in it, but I use it in defence of the fact that so far I do not know by heart every paragraph of the Report. In many ways I am glad that I do not.
I must now say a few words about the terms of reference. I do not know whether all hon. Members have had a chance to read the speech made in another place by the Marquess of Salisbury. Referring to the terms of reference, he said that it was most regrettable that the discussion between the two Prime Ministers had not reached any conclusion and the situation had not apparently been cleared up to anyone's satisfaction. He asked for the communications between the British Prime Minister and Sir Roy Welensky to be published. I hope that this difficulty will be cleared up.
I think that any reasonable person reading our Prime Minister's explanation on 1st November would have got the impression that the Monckton Commission did go outside its terms of reference. Whether or not that be so, the fact is that there is obviously a misunderstanding between the Federal and the British Prime Ministers. It seems to me to be most urgent that that misunderstanding should be cleared up immediately, if possible, but certainly before the Constitutional Conference takes place.
471 The damage, of course, is now done. Some people seem to wonder why Sir Roy Welensky is a rather angry man. My heavens, if I were in his boots I would be angry, too; angry to see something for which I had been working for seven years—indeed, for many years before that—wrecked almost overnight by the publication, the inadvisable inclusion in this sort of Report, of the suggestion that secession should be considered; that the countries of the Federation should be able to secede, perhaps, after five or seven years.
Anybody who understands anything at all of the Federation knows that even on the appointment of the Monckton Commission the fantastic prosperity that the Rhodesias, and especially Northern Rhodesia, had had up to that time started to go down. Investment started to go down, and the prosperity, in a general sense, of the Federation started to go down. On the report that the Monckton Commission might refer to secession, prosperity took another kick. Investors were not terribly keen to invest in the Federation.
The fact that the Report has been published and that the Government have accepted the fact that the Commission was able to report on secession has doubled the blow, so to speak. What is the investor who has been spending millions in the Federation now to think? Will he invest money in something that may blow up? Is he likely to invest in something that may come to an end in a few years and about which there is no certainty? That is the madness of it.
We have had an almost somnolent debate this afternoon, although my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) did waken the debate up a little. He said things that some did not like, but, in my belief, he probably spoke more straightforward, down-to-earth, basic common sense in a quarter of an hour than had been spoken during the whole afternoon by every other hon. Member.
This is not a somnolent situation. It is not a situation in which we can sit here and talk quietly about what is going on out there. There must be something more wrong than the Government apparently admit. I realise, and say so perfectly sincerely, that the Minister is 472 in a very difficult position in view of the forthcoming Constitutional Conference, and has to be very careful what he says, Nevertheless, the fact is that out there in the Rhodesias the British Government—and almost Britain—have managed to make themselves thoroughly unpopular with, almost hated by, the vast majority of the whites in both Southern and Northern Rhodesia. There is little respect for us amongst the blacks in any of the territories except in so far as the bad ones among them can gain power aided and abetted by the British Government.
There is no real law and order any more in Nyasaland. What are the British Government going to do about Nyasaland? Upon what principle are we going to base our future colonial policy? Are we going to base our policy on the rule of law or upon the acceptance of the rule of fear? Are we going to stand up for those people who have stood loyally by us in Nyasaland, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) referred this afternoon? Are we going to stand up for those people who have been loyal to the British Crown all these years, or are we going to let them down?
What is said in Nyasaland? What do our district commissioners have to tolerate? What is said to them by the chiefs? I have been told one or two pretty hair-raising stories, and I should like to relate one of them. It concerns a district commissioner. Incidentally, who are these district commissioners? They are, on the whole, young people of various types, not well paid, who have a very hard job and continue to do it only because they have a sense of duty and, in many cases, a love for the African.
A district commissioner said, "I had to call my chiefs together yesterday morning to tell them of the statement of Dr. Banda, in which he said that he did not condone violence and intimidation, for which he got a quid pro quo in the form of the release of a number of political prisoners." When the district commissioner had finished, his chiefs said, "But, Mr. District Commissioner, Dr. Banda's men of the Malawi Congress Party come to my people in lorries and say, 'You must join the Malawi Congress Party because when Dr. Banda gets into power he will not tax you any more. You will no longer be subject to laws, because 473 your chiefs will no longer be there.'" If they do not agree to become members of the Malawi Congress Party, if they have the temerity or the loyalty and decency to say "No, I would rather stay with my chief", what happens? As like as not, they have their houses burned down or they are beaten up after dark. What sort of democracy can be founded on a party of that nature? What sort of democracy is Britain going to support with a leader of that nature?
§ Mr. Fell
Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has not been present very long, will allow me to make my own speech.
This is a situation in which Britain has dithered, and, I fear, will dither again. We seem to be paralysed; we seem to be unable to make up our minds between the awful difficulties that face us on all sides. Why cannot we make up our minds? Surely, we know perfectly well the right course of action in Nyasaland, despite the winds of change—the hurricanes of change—we know, and that all the talk and guff about freedom, independence and democracy means nothing. Surely we know what is the right course of action there. The right course of action is to keep the Federation going at all costs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] At all costs, I said. At least I know what I believe, and I am prepared to state unequivocally that we must keep Nyasaland in the Federation at all costs, spend more money, and bring the Africans along until we reach the stage where we can have decent African parties and decent Africans running affairs in Nyasaland.
Who discovered Southern Rhodesia for the Africans, and Africa for the Africans? It was the British and some other Europeans.
§ Mr. Fell
This is not funny; this happens to be true. It is difficult for some hon. Gentlemen who have tortuous minds on these things, because they have been wrestling with themselves for so 474 many years, wondering what they ought to think about things, and are so affected by the winds of change that it is terribly difficult for them, having got themselves into this sort of dilemma, to make up their minds on anything.
I happen to believe that our first duty is towards those for whom we have direct responsibility. The people for whom we have direct responsibility in those territories are Africans as well as Europeans. There is no gainsaying that. The people who happen to be capable of administering all three of these territories at this moment happen to be Europeans, and there is no gainsaying that. Neither is there any gainsaying the fact that the possible result, and I would say the likely result, of our running out on our responsibilities in Nyasaland and the Federation generally is that tens of thousands, may be hundreds of thousands, of Africans will suffer, and a great many of them will die of disease, murder, rape and all the rest that goes with a country going back to tribal warfare.
Many people laugh when it is suggested that what has happened in the Congo can happen there. By heavens, it can. If the United Nations goes on making as much of a mess of things as it is making in the whole of the Congo, and particularly if the United Nations manages to wreck Tshombe, as it is coming close to doing now, then I would not give 2d. for the southern part of Katanga not relapsing into tribal war brought down from the rest of the Congo and having bloody murder, rape and all the rest that goes with it on the borders of Northern Rhodesia.
I am told that if it gets that far, there is nothing that Northern Rhodesia can do to stop it from infiltrating into Northern Rhodesia itself. If at the same time the British Government hold elections far Dr. Banda, and Dr. Banda, having won the elections through the democratic processes of intimidation, coercion, and everything that goes with it, then says. "I want secession now, or else", what will the British Government do? I will tell the House. The British Government will say, "You cannot have secession now".
What will the Opposition do? At first, they will back the British Government. A little later, because something awkward happens, they will withdraw 475 their support from the British Government. A little later, when matters become more and more awkward, what will the British Government do? Dr. Banda will say, "I must have secession now", and the Government will give it to him. In one, two or three years, the whole of the Federation will collapse, and we hall have deserted our responsibilities and run out on the very people whom its our job to protect—our friends and those who loyally support us.
When shall we learn the simple lesson of politics today? We have got ourselves into this state when we are paralysed by inaction, and we try to compromise with everything to such an extent that, in the end, we always do the wrong thing because we try to ride two horses at once and we fall down in between. In other words, would it not be a good idea to be moral enough to say that it is our duty to support law and order in the world, to stand out against the rule of fear wherever it may arise?
§ Mr. Fell
Yes, certainly Suez, and in Cuba, Tibet, and all round the world, wherever we see an increase in the rule of fear.
I am sorry to have been led on to this. I shall sit down in a moment or two. To those who laugh at the terror which has taken hold of my mind at least, I say that I am more afraid that the Communists will have their way by an increase in the rule of fear than by atom or hydrogen bombs. I am more afraid that in the end my children will become servants to the rule of fear than that they will be wiped out by hydrogen bombs. I would rather the latter than the former.
I hope and pray that the British Government will have the strength to support Sir Roy Welensky in his determination to keep the Federation going. I hope and pray that we shall now decide at long last to stand by our servants in Nyasaland, to stand by the Africans in Nyasaland, and to stand by the Federation which we set up.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
The hon. and gallant Member 476 for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) spoke from the extreme back bench and the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) spoke from the extreme front bench below the Gangway, but I imagine that we all thought that we heard for a moment or two the authentic voice of the backwoods.
The hon. Member for Yarmouth old us that he had had very little time to read the Monckton Report. While he spoke, I wondered whether he had had time to read the signature to the Report. The interesting fact about the very remarkable document which we have been debating today is that, although it comes to its conclusions seven years after the creation of the Federation by the Government opposite, it is signed by four right hon. Gentlemen who were members of the Government at that time.
The Report deserves, therefore, to be taken very seriously, particularly as it comes to the conclusion that the Federation then set up by those four right hon. Gentlemen and their colleagues in 1953 cannot be maintained in its present form. This is a serious matter which deserves to be debated and discussed in serious vein. The signatories of the Report can be wrong, but I think that hysterical argument will not take the matter very far.
The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir R. Robinson) criticised my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) for going over the history. Surely, in face of a conclusion like that, signed by four former Ministers, that the policy which they supported when in the Government seven years previously cannot now be continued, my hon. Friend was right to inquire how we could have reached this pass.
How is it possible that a Federation, embarked upon with such enthusiasm by right hon. Gentlemen opposite in 1953, should now be in such a parlous state that it cannot be maintained in its present form? I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East was thoroughly justified in asking that question and in examining how this situation came about. After all, during all that period, he paid close attention to these problems and took part in 477 all the debates in this House. He was completely justified in spending a small part of his speech in considering why the Federation had failed; because this is, in effect, a statement that it has so far failed and must somehow be reconstructed if it is to succeed for the future. In the remainder of his speech my hon. Friend put forward many constructive suggestions and asked very many important questions, and we are looking forward to hearing an answer to them from the Minister of State later.
As we have heard during the debate, the Federation had two main objectives: one was economic advance and the other the creation of partnership. I agree with the hon. Member for Blackpool, South when he says, as other hon. Members have said, that economic advance was the less important of the two and that far more important was the attempt to create in Central Africa an association of free men, black and white, of different racial origins, living together in peace, learning to understand one another and acting as partners in the conduct of the government of their country. I will come in a moment to discuss how far that may or may not have been achieved.
While I am on the point that economic advance is a good deal less important than partnership, let me say that it seems to me, having read the Commission's Report very carefully, and the other documents available on the subject, that the Commission, like many hon. Members in this debate, was inclined to exaggerate the importance of such economic advance as has taken place. I do not deny for a moment that there has been economic expansion, but has that expansion been so important and so creative and has it resulted in so much additional welfare as is sometimes supposed?
For example, I think that the Commission accepts too easily the assumption that the mere creation of a common market for the three territories is bound to be of value to all three of them. Here, the temptation is always to argue by the United States analogy. But in that country, with its enormous area, its vast resources and its large and highly talented population, overseas trade is a marginal item in the total economy of the country.
478 For the three Central African Territories it is absolutely important. It is far more than marginal. They depend entirely on overseas trade for everything except bare subsistence living. They must export their tobacco and their copper, and I think that it is true to say that 56 per cent. of their domestic product is the result of that overseas trade.
In an area like this, surely the essence of economic policy must be to sell as well and as dearly as one can the products which one sends overseas and to buy imports as cheaply as one can. What has happened in this Customs union which has been created? It has not resulted, for a large part of the area, in a widening of the market. For the northern portions of the area which were, before the Federation came into operation, working their economy under the Congo Basin Treaty, it has meant not a widening but a narrowing of the market. They have been cut off from their natural markets, from their natural trading partners of India and Hong Kong, and forced into the Rhodesian market.
The consequence is that whereas, before Federation, the duty on an ordinary shirt was 8d. or 9d., it is now 3s. 6d. The duty on shoes was formerly 8d., but is now 1s. 6d. The duty on an enamel washbowl, which Africans use in large quantities, was 1d., but is now 1s. This direct bad effect upon the cost of living of the African peoples seems to have been ignored by the Commission.
It is in the interests of the underdeveloped areas of the world, such as the northern parts of the Federation—the whole of Nyasaland and parts of Northern Rhodesia—to trade with the other underdeveloped nations of the world. Since federation, trade between Hong Kong and India, natural trading partners of these territories, has been severely reduced. That is a bad result of the Customs union which is part of the Federation.
Southern Rhodesia has been the beneficiary of this diversion of trade. Small manufacturing industries have grown up in considerable numbers and are earning good profits in Southern Rhodesia as a result, but at the expense of an increased cost of living for the people of Nyasaland and certain parts of Northern 479 Rhodesia. The figures of investment from overseas—which has been the major economic benefit from federation—are not as happy as has always been made out.
To quote one example only, in the five years from 1954–59, 59 per cent. of Federal capital expenditure was in Southern Rhodesia, 35 per cent. was in Northern Rhodesia and only 6 per cent. in Nyasaland. This is a distribution of capital investment inside the Federation which is far from proportionate to population and confirms one's impression that the economic benefits, although they have been considerable, have been most unfairly shared and have redounded far more to the benefit of Southern Rhodesia than to the benefit of the poorest parts of the Federation.
There has been a share-out of wealth through taxation and Federal expenditure and both Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia have gained to some extent at the expense of the wealthy territory of Northern Rhodesia; but, whereas Southern Rhodesia has become a boom country, Nyasaland remains a very poor one. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) described vividly the conditions of poverty which he saw in Nyasaland after seven years of federation. The net output of manufacturing industry between 1955 and 1958 rose by £12.8 million in Southern Rhodesia, by £2.1 million in Northern Rhodesia and by only £900,000 in Nyasaland. I admit that Nyasaland has made some gain in annual income through association with the others, but she has not had her fair share.
Why politics is so much more important here than economics is that Nyasaland could only have got her fair share had she had a fair share of political power within the Federation. It is because she did not have a fair share of political power that she has not received a fair share of the economic gains which have resulted from federation and its increased creditworthiness in the money markets of the world.
It seems to me, therefore, that, whereas it was clear at the outset that some economic advantage would accrue from a much closer association of the three territories than existed before, because we would have a central Government 480 who planned the economy, nevertheless it has not been and could never have been so great an advantage as to justify a federal political structure which was wholly unacceptable to the African people.
This, I think, was the major error made in the Congo as well. The hon. and gallant Member for Arundel and Shoreham and the hon. Member for Yarmouth reminded us of the breakdown of government and of the horrors which have taken place in the Congo. It was due, of course, to a breakdown of the administration after the Belgians left the Congo. Why did it happen? Because the Belgian administration in the Congo had acted throughout its tenure of power there on the assumption that economic advancement would satisfy the Africans and that they need not have political advancement at the same time, that it could be a substitute for the right of free men to govern themselves. This was the fundamental error.
Some may say that it was because the Belgians failed to train administrators, that they failed to train Africans in the practices of democracy, that they failed to encourage them to become political leaders of their own people. All that, no doubt, is true, but that failure arose from the fundamental error that one could use the African as an economic producer, and give him by degrees a higher standard of living, and that all would be well. But it has not been well, and it is this fundamental assumption, this fundamental error in Belgian administration, which seems to have been copied at any rate by some in the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland.
The same assumption seems to have been made, that as long as we give economic advance we need not worry about the politics. It arises from the fundamental inability to recognise the individuality and human dignity of African people. Many hon. Members have referred to these things in their speeches, notably, besides hon. Members on this side of the House, the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher).
I well remember a visit to Southern Rhodesia some years ago and being taken through the town of Bulawayo by a charming, very friendly, very helpful, thoroughly decent individual, a white 481 man, and as we went through the streets, looking out of the windows of the car. I naturally asked, as one so often does in those circumstances, "What is the population of Bulawayo?" "Oh," he said, "it is 30,000." I looked out of the windows and I said, "But surely it must be more than that." "Oh, yes," he said. "If you count the natives it is 100,000." That answer was symptomatic of an attitude, and it is clear from all we have read, and all that we have heard in this debate today, that it still remains.
The hon. Member for Surbiton described very graphically the feelings of Africans about this ignoring of their personality, about the bland assumption that if they get a better house or get another pair of trousers or get some extra food they ought to be satisfied. They will not be. They cannot be.
In a document, which, I suppose, has been sent round to all hon. Members, a newsletter from its head office in London, the Malawi Congress, a short time ago, said:We wish Lord Monckton knew that we in Nyasaland would rather starve to death than accept £100 million from Salisbury.I think that it is the main merit of the Monckton Commission's Report that it does recognise that fact. The Malawi Congress is wrong in saying that the Monckton Commission does not recognise it. I think that it does. Despite the fact that the Commission overestimates the value of the economic advantages of federation to the African people it nevertheless dismisses the argument that the advantages are so great that, if a firm declaration of intention to maintain federation in its present form were made, opposition would melt away and there would be growing appreciation of its benefits.
The Commission says:We are convinced that this view is wrong. Ultimately, federation must rest on a general willingness to accept it, or it must be preserved by force.That is the answer to the hon. Member for Yarmouth and the hon. and gallant Member for Arundel and Shoreham. What they are arguing for is nothing but war, because the conclusion that they have reached is that we must not attempt to create willingness to accept federation by offering secession and, therefore, we must face inevitably the consequence of war.
482 It is this that led the Commission to propose that the right to secede was an absolute condition of securing that willingness, and the Commission said:To declare the Federation indissoluble … would be seen again to involve the imposition of federation.It is the imposition of federation on unwilling Africans that has caused this calamity during the last seven years.
The Colonial Secretary said in a speech yesterday, most of which is recorded in the newspapers today, that he did not believe that economic confidence would truly return until political stability had been achieved. The right hon. Gentleman is right. This is the right order—not to say that we should have economic advance first and then political acquiescence would follow. Let us say that we should create political stability first by granting human rights to the African people and then the economic edifice can be created on that foundation. Since the right hon. Gentleman has recognised this, he must also recognise the rightness of the conclusion. Finding what it did, the Commission had to say what it said about secession. Therefore, we should not be content with an academic discussion at the Review Conference.
I suppose that the Government will feel tonight that they cannot say it even now, and we understand that, but when it comes to the Review Conference the message that has come out from the great majority of speakers tonight clearly has been that the Government must say to the Conference that the case for secession as a condition of willingness to keep the Federation in existence is made out. It must be discussed at the Conference. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has given us a demonstration today, as he has done before at the Dispatch Box, of Suaviter in modo. When he gets to the Conference I also hope that he knows how to give a demonstration of fortiter in re. He must be firm on this. If he is not, the conference will be useless and will fail.
The Colonial Secretary said yesterday that when he came into office there were emergencies in Kenya and in Nyasaland. He said that he did not rely on emergency powers. When disturbances came to Northern Rhodesia he said, happily, that he had been able to get through that 483 difficult period without relying on emergency powers. We were glad to hear yesterday, and I welcome his declaration, that his set objective is not to rely on emergency powers any more. He wants to rely—and he has shown himself successful in doing it—on political accommodation. I hope that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations feels the same, because he has an emergency on his hands now. It is true that he has not himself created it, but there is an emergency at this moment in Southern Rhodesia and in recent weeks Sir Edgar Whitehead has been arming himself with the powers of a police State.
Sir Edgar has imprisoned, as we know, politicians to whom a tribute was paid by me a short time ago and tonight by the hon. Member for Surbiton. Politicians of marked moderation are in gaol. This has produced in the African people a very marked reaction. I wish that I had the time to quote from the newsletter which the Southern Rhodesians here in London set up.
The result of this reactionary move, on the part of the Southern Rhodesian Government, of imprisoning people without trial, sending their troops into townships where they opened fire, and of introducing reactionary legislation, has been to convince the Southern Rhodesian Africans that there is a conspiracy afoot to maintain the Federation by force, provoking the Africans to some sort of violent action which will then be put down so that the Federation can be restored to power by force.
I do not believe that there is such a conspiracy. I am reassured by some of the things which have happened in the last day or two. The Republican Army has at last been banned, and that is good. Better still, Sir Robert Tredgold has taken that courageous action of resigning his position as Chief Justice and coming out into politics, demonstrating what many of us know very well—that there are in Southern Rhodesia enlightened, intelligent, well-educated meta who do understand these problems and do not approve of this reactionary policy which Sir Edgar Whitehead was trying to embark upon.
I have been told tonight that it has been announced that he is now to amend 484 his Law and Order (Maintenance) Bill. I hope that the Minister of State, when he replies, will answer the questions which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East put about this point.
This brings a chink of daylight into the surrounding darkness of Southern Rhodesia and some ground for new hope. If it is true that Kenya and Central Africa, as the Colonial Secretary said yesterday, are the keys to the future of Africa, then Southern Rhodesia is the key to the future of Central Africa. Without doubt, it is from hatred of Southern Rhodesian practices that the chief opposition to federation arises, and a change in these practices, if made rapidly, may just save things in time.
The Colonial Secretary spoke yesterday of his belief that men of all races can and, indeed, must live together in peace and partnership and friendship. We believe in that ideal just as passionately as he does. We want to see men of all races living together in peace, partnership and friendship in Africa. We do not want to see people driven out. We are not a party of black African national extremism—certainly not. We want these things to happen, but time is running out, as the Secretary of State said this afternoon, and is running out very quickly.
We say, therefore, to the Government that they should appeal to the Review Conference, when it meets, to act quickly, to act generously and to try to make a quick change in the existing situation. There must, particularly, be a change in the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia. We pleaded, during the last Session, on three or four occasions for it, and up to 28th July—the last time we did so—we had no answer as to when or whether Sir Edgar Whitehead is coming to London to ask for a change in the Constitution.
Sir Edgar wants a change to take away our powers to protect Africans. We want a change the other way and to see the Constitution considerably democratised as an evidence of faith by Her Majesty's Government in the recommendation of the Commission, which has been signed by four former member of that same Government.
There is no chance whatever of carrying on the Federal Government for another five years with the prospect of a 485 right of secession at the end. In the prevailing temper, at any rate, that is quite impossible. The Government should opt for the other alternative of the Monckton Commission and say that secession will be an open option as soon as self-government is attained. Their duty now is to ensure that self-government is attained as soon as possible, to do for Northern Rhodesia what has been done for Nyasaland, and to press the Southern Rhodesian Government, if they can, to do the same for Southern Rhodesia. Then it may be possible not even to have to wait years for a referendum. It may be possible to put that alternative to those Governments now. The quicker it can be done, the better the chance of success.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
Without reading his closely reasoned arguments in the earlier part of his speech. I am not sure that I would be prepared to go all the way with the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), because it seemed to me that his argument was that in future, unlike what has been so often said about the Central African scene before, European economic incentives and standards are not sufficient to enable Africans as a whole to be attracted by the Federal experiment. It may well be, although I am not in any way convinced of it, that European political incentives and standards are not sufficient, either.
However, I want to explain the difficulty, as my right hon. Friend has already done, about any Government spokesman at present making comments on the proposals of the Monckton Report. It would certainly be wrong for me to attempt to do so, and as the debate has been almost entirely about the Monckton Report, the House will recognise that I find myself in some difficulty. The truth is that we did not want a Ministerial wind-up speech, so that we could enable more hon. Members from the back benches to take part in what, by general agreement, has been a most valuable and interesting debate. For instance, I am sorry that the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who speaks from the Liberal benches, has been crowded out.
486 However, the Opposition insisted that there should be a Ministerial wind-up speech, but I must say that I was glad of the assurance of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House earlier when he said that every time a Minister spoke he made himself more popular. That has not been my invariable experience up to the present, but we are no doubt entering a new era of political and Parliamentary history and I therefore face it hopefully.
In that connection, may I say to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan)—and we have faced each other often enough—that I am sorry about his disappointment this afternoon and that I hope that he will, in the immortal words of his leader, "fight, and fight, and fight again".
§ Mr. Callaghan
I propose to co-operate with the leaders of my party to the fullest extent of which I am capable.
§ Mr. Alport
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave a clear indication of his thinking on this subject. It is my duty, within the limitations necessarily imposed upon me, to do my best to answer some of the questions and comment on some of the points which have been put forward by hon. Members on both sides of the House in the subsequent debate.
I begin by saying how very much we all welcome my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) back to the House. We are glad to have his counsel and presence among us, together with those other right hon. Members who served with him on the Monckton Commission. Hon. Members especially should express their sense of gratitude, because we know well the arduous work involved in all the months that the Commission was sitting. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that the one charge which in future can never be levelled at the House of Commons by its many critics, who no doubt exist in Central Africa and elsewhere, is that we have never taken the trouble personally to go and find out about the problems of the countries which we have been discussing. There has been no debate in the whole of my experience here in which more hon. Members have come back from recent visits to the Federation and elsewhere in Africa and been able to give 487 us the immediate impressions which they have received there.
In particular, I should like to say what great value we derived from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and the interesting analysis he gave of the large number of personal contacts which he made during his visit to the Federation. The special point he made and which he carried out in his own practice was that he made those personal contacts.
I think I am right in saying that in Salisbury at the present time there is an Indaba being held at which it is hoped to bring together men and women from different political parties and points of view to talk together about the problems of that part of Africa. The idea goes back to one of the great historic moments in Rhodesia's history when at the end of the Matabele War Cecil Rhodes went out alone to make personal contact with the Indunas of the Matabele in order to get straight the disagreement existing between the two sides and to renew confidence. He believed that could be done only on a personal basis.
The mantle of Cecil Rhodes has passed to others over a period of time, and his words and wisdom are very often used to guide opinion in Rhodesia at the present day. I often think, and have thought during these last years, that it was not only the wise words of Cecil Rhodes but also the practical application of his belief in seeking to make that personal contact and to establish that understanding with men of different races, with whom he had been in conflict with his followers a few weeks before—an action taken at great personal risk to himself—which produced a tremendous achievement and laid for Southern Rhodesia the foundations of an internal peace for some seventy years.
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton is absolutely right in what he said about the great importance of maintaining or renewing, increasing and improving that basis of personal contact between people of all races, not only in Southern Rhodesia but throughout the Federation. I am equally sure we are indebted for his speech to the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. G. H. R. Rogers) 488 and for the very moderate and wise words which he addressed to the House.
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) asked whether there would be African representations from Southern Rhodesia at the Federal Review Conference. I would remind him that, under the Constitution, when the Conference takes place the delegations will be chosen by their respective Governments. Therefore, the decision as to the composition of the Southern Rhodesian delegation will be a matter for the Southern Rhodesian Government. That is in accordance with the Constitution as it exists at the present time.
I am grateful to the Minister for dealing with this point, which I did acknowledge in my speech. I went on to ask, would not it be appropriate for this Government to hold concurrent discussions with the African representatives?
§ Mr. Alport
No, I think that if the review is to take place it must be carried out in accordance with the accepted Constitution. What representatives the Government of Southern Rhodesia intend to include in their delegation will be a matter for that Government. But, naturally, the representative nature of the delegation will have for them an importance, just as it will have for the other Governments that take part.
I may say to the hon. Member that I spent quite a bit of the Recess studying various phases of his visit to East and Central Africa. I was somewhat surprised to hear that the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl)—I was not here at the time—likened the prohibition of the hon. Member from the Federation to the banning of "Lady Chatterley's Lover". Whether this is fair to the hon. Member I do not know, as I have not yet read the book, but it may be another example of the poacher turned gamekeeper.
§ Mr. Alport
I turn to some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. We have heard from the benches opposite a great many compliments paid to the Moncloton Commission. The right hon. Member for 489 West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale)—I paraphrase his words—said he was extremely surprised that a Commission produced by a Conservative Government for this purpose should have reached conclusions which he found represented many things which he believed to be very true and right about the situation in Central Africa.
I would remind the House, particularly hon. Members opposite, that when my noble Friend the then Secretary of State and the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs first put forward the proposal for this Commission in the form which it eventually took and announced the membership of the Commission, not only was he but the members themselves subjected to a great deal of criticism and abuse. We cannot forget that the party opposite had so little faith in the integrity of the proposals put forward by my noble Friend that members of the Opposition themsleves refused to take any part in it. I think they will regret that now. I think they regret that they played no part in what—whether we agree with the Commission's Report or not—cannot but be regarded as a great and constructive contribution to the study and analysis of a very difficult problem indeed.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I should like it to be quite clear that the reason we did not take part in the Commission was known to those who took part in the discussions at the time. It was because we could not get a clear answer from the Prime Minister to the question of whether the Commission would be free to discuss secession. That has caused other difficulties with Sir Roy Welensky and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, it was the major reason why we could not take part in the Commission.
§ Mr. Alport
The fact is that if the hon. Member and his colleagues had greater faith in the integrity of the intentions of the Government in regard to the whole of this matter they might have been honoured to have taken part in an extremely important phase of the history of Central Africa.
I should like to answer to the best of my ability one or two of the questions the hon. Member has asked me. First, he asked whether it was the intention, or whether it was thinkable, that we should hold the Federation together by force.
490 I think it is generally recognised in this House, and certainly has been recognised in the course of this debate, that over the long term the possibilities of anything of that sort are out of the question. The truth is that it has been generally recognised that if it is not possible for all those whose interests and life and future are in Central Africa to come together on a basis of partnership, in the end the experiment will not work.
That continues to be the only logical approach to the whole future, not only of the Federation, but to relationships between Europeans and Africans throughout the Continent of Africa. Therefore, this is not a question which I regard as other than hypothetical. If one argued it on the basis of political history, one could argue whether any central Government have a right to try to maintain the integrity and unity of their territories by means of the exercise of that Government's political power. But that is not a question which we can go into or one which it would be of any value for us to consider at present.
The hon. Member asked whether we agreed that there must be a major operation to transfer functions from the Federal Government to the Territorial Governments. One of the main purposes of the constitutional review, as I have always understood it, is to ensure that, after a period of experience of working the Federation and of the division of the powers of the Federal Government from those of the Territorial Governments, we should, with the Governments concerned, consider Whether the existing division of powers was right or wrong. Whether this means a transfer of powers from one to the other is something which only the Review Conference can decide. The hon. Member also asked me about secession and an increase of African representation in the Federal Parliament. He knows that, again, both those subjects are for the Review Conference to decide.
He asked me about changes in racial policies in Southern Rhodesia, and I thought that he paid a very fair compliment to the progress which has been made in Southern Rhodesia in the last few years. When one thinks back to seven or ten years ago and considers the considerable acceleration in the process 491 of the development of partnership in important sections of Southern Rhodesian life, one would clearly be wrong to underestimate the general willingness on the part of Southern Rhodesian public opinion to pay what is undoubtedly the price for partnership and, therefore, for the continued political stability of the whole of the country. Again, this can be decided only by the people on the spot and by the Government of Southern Rhodesia.
It may well be, as we have seen from the arguments put forward by hon. Members on both sides of the House, that there are different views as to the timing and nature of the changes in Southern Rhodesian racial policy which are necessary, but fundamentally that development will come only if there is a continuance of confidence, and indeed an increasing degree of confidence, amongst the people in Rhodesia. When these issues come before public opinion in Rhodesia and are understood by the people there, I have never known them, in my experience, to reach a decision which is other than moderate in the circumstances which they face.
We have had a most valuable debate.
§ Mr. Alport
That is a question not to be answered at the very last moment of the debate but perhaps by Questions in the House.
I hope that this debate will be studied not only in the United Kingdom but in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I hope that the people there will regard it not as any wish on our part to mislead or to misrepresent but as showing that we in the House of Commons are desperately interested in their problems, desperately concerned for their future and determined to the very best of our ability to make certain that the future for them is one such as we should wish for ourselves.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. Noble.]
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.