§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I have it in Command from the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place Her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
The object of the Bill is to provide for the independence of Trinidad and Tobago, and I have no doubt that it will be welcomed unanimously on both sides of the House. I think that we all welcome very much the fact that at the recent conference not only was agreement reached on the form of the constitution for independence, but, also, that there was a unanimously expressed desire both that Trinidad and Tobago should remain within the Commonwealth and that they should continue in allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen as Queen of Trinidad and Tobago.
I think that it is about 160 years since Trinidad was ceded to the British Crown, and since then the population has risen from 18,000 to over 800,000, and, of course, there have been very large developments in the economy of the islands. Whereas sugar was originally the mainstay of the economy, there have been subsequent developments of cocoa, and very effective development of the citrus industry. There is the famous pitch lake which provides so much of the world's road surfaces, and the very important development of oil which has now become one of the main supports of the economy of Trinidad and Tobago; and perhaps I should not fail to mention the other products in which Trinidad has a world monopoly, Angostura bitters.
Over a wide range of products, some small and some very large, there is no doubt in Trinidad and Tobago the basis for a strong economy. Indeed, this new country will enter into independence 542 with a stronger economic basis and better economic prospects than many countries already independent.
In addition to those basic industries, there has, of course, recently been a substantial development in industrialisation which has been encouraged by the legislation of the Government there, and there are many thriving and expanding industries now in Trinidad making their contribution to the welfare of the people.
In the social field, also, there have recently been great strides in education and in housing under the energetic leadership of the Premier, Dr. Williams, who, I think, all recognise as a man of quite outstanding intellect who will make a great contribution not only to the future of Trinidad and Tobago, but to the whole future of the Caribbean area.
For many reasons, I think that we can all feel confident that Trinidad and Tobago will enter on independence with good prospects. Of course, there are problems still to be solved, and we recognise that the problem of unemployment is one of them. Also, there have been problems, and they remain, in the constitutional field. I must say frankly that when I visitied Trinidad earlier this year, and up to the time of the constitutional conference, I was very much aware of the possible development of racial tensions within the island, and the possibility that politics in the island were polarised between the Government party largely supported by people of African background, and the opposition party largely supported by people of Indian background.
That, to my mind, was a very real danger. I was worried about it when the constitutional conference started, but I believe that we have made a big contribution towards its solution. In the first place, the constitution agreed on by the conference provides considerable safeguards for minorities and individuals. Secondly, I should like to pay a very sincere tribute to the statesmanship of Dr. Williams and of the Opposition leader, Dr. Capildeo, for the way in which they handled the conference and the way in which, at the end of the conference they united in determination to work together, both Opposition and Government, to make this one country with one nation. This effort on their part 543 deserves, and I am confident will receive, its reward in the progress of a happy and united nation.
I do not think that I need trouble the House long with the description of the Bill itself. It follows lines which have I think become familiar in recent years and is closely modelled on the Bills providing for the independence, for example, of Tanganyika and Sierra Leone, and other Bills which have been passed by the House recently. I do not think that there are any particular points to which I need draw the attention of the House at this stage.
Finally, I am sure that the House would wish me to pay a tribute to everyone concerned in developing Trinidad and Tobago to this present time when they can launch out on independence, and, in particular, I should like to pay tribute to the many civil servants both on the islands themselves and in this country who have played such a large part in this progress.
I suppose that the population of Trinidad and Tobago is as mixed in racial origin as almost any in the world, but I believe that for that reason the people of Trinidad and Tobago will have a special responsibility in the years ahead to prove what can be done in a relatively small island with a very mixed people by common sense, prudence, and good leadership. I think that I need say nothing more, in commending the Bill to the House and proposing that it should be read a Second time, than to say that with the independence of Trinidad and Tobago go the good wishes of every Member of the House to the people of the islands.
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
This is one more of a remarkable series of Bills which have been passing through this and preceding Parliaments by Which by far the greatest Empire of modern times is being transformed into a Commonwealth. Of course, we wish that in the case of the West Indies it was not so many Bills. We wish that it could have been done in one Bill, with one Federation, but this was not to be, and it is no use crying over spilt milk.
This Bill, like the Jamaica Bill which we considered the other day, sets up one more unit, and we hope that this one, 544 like the Jamaica unit, will prove viable both politically and economically. The Secretary of State for the Colonies has given an optimistic picture of the economic possibilities of these two islands as an independent country. Of course, independence is simply an opportunity in itself. It does not raise the standard of life for a single inhabitant of the country which becomes independent. It puts on the shoulders of the new Government many responsibilities.
I think that these two countries, which have reached a certain stage of development, should be able to accept that opportunity and make something of it and raise the standard of life. That is really putting it too narrowly. I should have said raise the whole level of civilisation and well-being of their peoples. But we must recognise that they face very great complications and difficulties in doing so, and we must still be intimately concerned to help them.
The Secretary of State has said that, on the whole, Trinidad and Tobago have stronger economies than have some other parts of the West Indies, and I have no doubt that that is true. But they have also more complex economies. I do not pretend to have an intimate local knowledge of these islands, but from simply reading about them I am impressed with the degree to which the economy of this new Commonwealth country depends upon one economic factor— oil. Dr. Williams emphasises and re-emphasises this dependence.
It is a wonderful asset in many ways for a country to have oil resources crude in the ground beneath it, and beneath the seas surrounding it, and also, in this case, to have a major refinery which can process not only its native oil, but oil brought to it the whole way from the Near East. Nevertheless, to those who have heard Dr. Williams, or read his statements, it is clear that in his mind this is very much a complication, as well as being an asset.
How can it be otherwise, when the future of these communities in the Caribbean and many others in the Middle East, both inside and outside the Commonwealth, is bound up with the outlook in the world oil trade, and when that trade is dominated by a handful of great international corporations— the most enormous examples of what is 545 anachronistically called private enterprise? They are hardly that they form some of the vastest corporative entities in the world.
They are enterprises founded, and necessarily still conducted, essentially for the profit of their shareholders. That is their whole character. I do not blame them for that. It is inevitable that they should have been founded and conducted in that way. But the House should take note of the fact that they have now become so vast that they dominate the economic future prospects of communities such as Trinidad and Tobago.
This is no place to suggest a remedy nor have I any quick, easy, or glib remedy to suggest. But I doubt whether the world can go on indefinitely with this gigantic enterprise of oil, which, on an economic scale, is different from any other commercial enterprise in the world, and is entirely in the hands of a great oligopoly— to use the economists' term— of oil companies, with their peculiar pricing policy.
This policy may be right or wrong. It has much to be said for it from the point of view of oil producers. But the price is not a natural one. It has nothing to do with the marginal world price of a ton of oil. It is quite artificially fixed. These companies have elaborate relationships, by way of royalties, with the Governments of the countries from which the oil comes. I simply want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that, upon this country becoming independent, we have the creation of another independent oil State, whose whole future is deeply bound up with the vast, world-wide question of the conduct of the oil industry.
This is nothing that Her Majesty's Government can settle or alter on their own; it is essentially an international question. But it is of great importance to realise that the operation of the industry purely for private profit is becoming steadily more and more a world-wide anachronism.
The Secretary of State has mentioned several other economic sources of Trinidad and Tobago which they will be anxious to develop. There is sugar. That at once raises the question of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement just as did the independence of Jamaica. This is a question of the utmost importance. 546 When I was Minister of Food I took part in the negotiation of the agreement, and I am naturally, especially interested in it. Apart from that, every West Indian Prime Minister emphasises that it is the linchpin of his country's economy today. In respect of both oil and sugar the future of this new independent member of the Commonwealth is closely bound up with the Common Market negotiations now going on in Brussels.
On more than one occasion Dr. Williams has expressed concern for his export outlet of oil to the European Economic Community, and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement is also very much in question in those negotiations. We should deal very poorly with this new member of the Commonwealth if, at the very start of her career, we did not do our utmost to protect and foster her interests in the Common Market negotiations. I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to reassure us on that subject.
One other economic aspect is of very great importance. I repeat what I said on the Jamaica Independence Bill: this Bill seems to provide another opportunity to press the issue of the extension of the powers of the Commonwealth Development Corporation to initiate new schemes in independent members of the Commonwealth. The C.D.C. is doing wonderful work throughout the world, but it will become more and more stultified as each territory and Colony becomes independent if that independence simply freezes its activities, so that it is unable to put forward new schemes in these territories.
Such a development would be exceedingly unfortunate for private profit-making enterprise in these areas. It is the universal experience of these countries that the activities of the C.D.C. have been an enormous help in the development of ordinary private profit-making activities, because they lead to the provision of capital and the creation of confidence. Far from stultifying private enterprise in these areas, the activities of the C.D.C. give enormous encouragement to its development.
I have pressed both the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations on this subject. So far, we have had sympathetic replies, but nothing has been 547 done. There is still no sign of the new legislation which I understand to be necessary. We had more luck with the Under-Secretary the other day. He made a most forthright statement, but I was left wondering whether or not he was committing the Government.
We should like to know. He told us that it must be done. But we should like the Secretary of State, or some other Cabinet Minister, to commit himself in the same way. Even more, we should like the appearance of legislation. This is really important. The months go on and more and more members of the Commonwealth become independent and the issue becomes even more urgent. We have pressed and I give notice that we shall continue to do so on every possible occasion, for new legislation, and that the C.D.C., which has had a most successful year, shall have removed the shackles which seem more and more tightly to constrict its activities.
Those are only some of the extremely important and complex economic issues which face this interesting new member of the Commonwealth. The Minister referred to the political issues. All who have heard or read Dr. Williams's views must be impressed by his grasp of political themes, with his understanding of the working of political democracy and with his determination to make Trinidad and Tobago a working democracy if he can possibly do so. As the right hon. Gentleman said, it will take some doing, with that extremely mixed racial composition of the islands. Nevertheless, a most promising start seems to have been made.
I was very impressed by his account of the degree of popular participation in constitution making and the consideration of the Constitution, and his racy description of the discussions on the Constitution which, he tells us, go on in the rum shops of the islands. And why not? After all, a great deal of our own political discussion is done in the "pubs" of this country, so there is nothing new about that. It does sound as though the people of the islands have reached a point at which they can make reality of democracy and not have a mere paper Constitution.
548 The Bill seems straightforward. There are involved legal Clauses for clearing up naturalisation questions and the like, but I am sure that we can leave such questions as need clearing up either to the Committee stage or to further debate this afternoon. It remains only for me to say farewell to another Colony and to welcome another independent member of the Commonwealth.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
On behalf of hon. Members on the back benches on both sides of the House, I should like to say how much we welcome the Bill. Many of us who believed sincerely in the idea of a Federation of the West Indies had hoped that Trinidad would find her independence as part of the independence of a wider Federation. But that was not to be. The referendum in Jamaica destroyed that hope.
I believe that Dr. Williams was quite right when he commented that ten minus one does not leave nine— it leaves nought. I think we accept that. It does not make the idea of federation wrong. I am quite sure that it was right. But we accept that, under present circumstances, the decision of Trinidad to "go it alone", like Jamaica, was probably the one that she felt obliged to take. Some of us had hoped last December that Trinidad might have given a lead to the smaller islands, to the other eight, no doubt helped financially by the United Kingdom. But as things have turned out, the concept of a unitary State was not agreeable to the eight smaller islands and the concept of a federation of the remaining nine was not agreeable to Trinidad.
We must accept that. If there is one thing which we have learned by now, I hope, in the school of experience— and, incidentally, I hope that we have learned it in relation to Central Africa as well— it is that, however desirable economically a federal system of government may seem to us, it is not likely to succeed unless it is acceptable politically to the people of the component units of the Federation. It is no use imposing federations from the top. We have learned that they must grow by consent through the hearts and minds of the people. So we see Trinidad and Jamaica walking alone and independently on to the world stage.
549 I do not think that their parts can be very large ones yet, and they are bound to be rather expensive parts for the actors, more expensive individually perhaps than they would have been as a combined West Indian effort. But they may well be very influential parts, particularly at this time, both in the Commonwealth and to the whole world. if they can illustrate, as I hope and I think that they can, to the larger nations how multi-racial communities can live and work together in friendship. This is a lesson which the whole world has yet to learn— how to find the solution to this most difficult of our problems in this half of the twentieth century. I believe that Trinidad's influence in illustrating the solution of this problem could be very important for us all.
If she is wise, Trinidad is especially fitted to give this example. There can be few nations, large or small, which contain such a wide racial diversity within their own boundaries. The old animosities between a white ruling class and a coloured subject people have gone. But they have given place to other racial difficulties between those of African and Indian descent, as we all know, and it seems to me that this is a great opportunity, indeed a duty, for Trinidad to reconcile these differences and to create a united nation of patriotic Trinidadians, whatever may be their racial origins. I am quite sure that Trinidad is capable, economically and politically, of running her own show and guiding her own destiny. There is no doubt about that.
As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) pointed out, economically she is fortunate in possessing that almost priceless commodity, oil, which places her in a far better position than her sister islands, which are mainly dependent on agriculture. That is not to say that Trinidad does not rely a great deal on sugar and citrus for the employment and prosperity of her people. Of course she does. But I think that I am right in saying that she depends upon oil for 40 per cent. of her revenue and 80 per cent. of her export trade. Because of oil Trinidad has a higher standard of living, not only higher than the other Caribbean islands, but higher 550 than many of the Latin American countries and most of the African and Asian countries of the Commonwealth.
As a producer and refiner, Trinidad's prosperity rests on the export of oil. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal will bear this in mind in his negotiations with the Common Market countries of Europe.
Politically, we in this House have been very careful never, if possible, to take sides between different parties and Governments in our Colonial Territories. We have tried to leave that to the democratic wishes of their own peoples. Nevertheless, without wishing to breach that convention, I should be doing less than justice by the Government of Trinidad if I did not say what I honestly believe and have seen for myself. It is that Trinidad presents a very different picture today from what she did seven or eight years ago, in 1955, when I first visited the island.
I remember going there two years ago from British Guiana. British Guiana is a country of great charm, character and fascination, but to go from Georgetown to Port of Spain is like going from a provincial town to a great, active bustling capital city full of activity and purpose, and one cannot fail to be impressed by it. Whatever criticism there may be of the Government of Trinidad — and, of course, there are criticisms of any Government, however excellent, even the United Kingdom Government at the present time— Dr. Williams's Government in Trinidad has been an effective, a successful and an honest Government.
I have many friends in both the main political parties in Trinidad, but, at the risk of annoying some of them who sit on the Opposition benches in Trinidad, I must say that in my view Dr. Williams, for whom I have great personal regard, respect and admiration—and, I hope he will not mind my saying, a personal affection—has done a very fine job as Premier. He is certainly a man, as we all acknowledge, of undoubted ability who has done very much for his country during these last few years.
The Constitutional Conference held recently in London was not a particularly easy one. It was not nearly as easy as 551 the Jamaican one, where almost all the difficult and controversial points had been agreed in Jamaica before ever the political leaders came to London. That was not the case with the Trinidad Conference. When the Trinidad Government published the first draft of the Constitution, letters poured in to me every day from distinguished people in Trinidad complaining about various aspects of it. I know that many hon. Members on both sides of the House had the same experience. Distinguished citizens of Trinidad who happened to be in this country at the time came to see me in genuine anxiety and distress. I had qualms myself about some of the points in the Constitution; but I think that most of those fears have now been allayed.
The draft Constitution was widely distributed throughout Trinidad and Tobago and comments were sought from individuals and representative organisations of every kind. The Constitution was discussed, as Dr. Williams told me personally, and as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State mentioned, quite seriously in every rum shop in Port of Spain! Then there was the great conference to debate the draft at the Queen's Hall when amendments and modifications were proposed and accepted. Even so, there were still genuine apprehensions when the conference met in London and a solution acceptable to both political parties and to the two main racial groups still appeared difficult. I pay my tribute to the work of everyone at that Conference. Dr. Williams was most statesmanlike in his offer of many compromise suggestions and the Opposition leaders, Dr. Capildeo and Mr. Ashford Sinanan, met him half way, in fact more than half way, in moving towards an agreed solution.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary played a valuable and most important part in helping to bring the two sides together. The outcome is certainly a credit to everyone, the Colonial Office and the political leaders alike, and we congratulate them upon it. I think that our hopes for the future of Trinidad can be justifiably high. Economically, if we go into the Common Market, as I personally hope we shall, we must try to achieve associate status 552 for her. We must safeguard her oil interests and the basis of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, on which all the West Indies territories so greatly depend for their employment and prosperity.
Politically, from now on it is up to Trinidad herself. If she can resolve her own racial problem, which is the most difficult of all, I am sure that she will have a hopeful and happy future. Given good will and understanding, I am sure that she can do that. It will require tolerance and statesmanship from the leaders of both races. I want Trinidad to prove that she possesses these qualities, as I am sure she does. I want her to set an example to other nations, larger nations, faced with this same problem. We are all gratified that she is staying within the British Commonwealth of Nations and that she will continue to owe allegiance to the Crown. These are unifying features for the future which in no way diminish her status as an independent member of the Commonwealth but which exemplify the loyalty and good will which, although independent, she still feels for the Commonwealth and this country and towards Her Majesty the Queen personally.
Knowing as I do the breadth of vision of Dr. Williams and many others in Trinidad, and their feeling for the unity and co-operation of the whole Caribbean area, I am certain that she will play her full part in working the common services and other unifying influences in the Caribbean and building upon for the future of the West Indies. I go further — and I have heard Dr. Williams say this himself— and say that a cardinal point in Trinidad's foreign policy will be to integrate not only the British Caribbean, but the whole area of the Caribbean in a wider and even more significant unity Whether it be only economic or ultimately political, we cannot yet tell. In that work and in every other aspect of her endeavour, whether within her own boundaries, within the Caribbean, within the Commonwealth, or on the wider world stage, I know that we in this House, on both sides, because both panties have contributed, wish Trinidad very well indeed in the future. We can be rightly proud to have brought her to the independent nationhood which now unfolds before her.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
In welcoming the Bill, hon. Members on both sides of the House will join the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) in paying tribute to Dr. Eric Williams. Apart from the leadership he gives to his country at the moment he has the solid achievement of having brought modern politics to Trinidad. He has brought to Trinidad the concept of modern political parties with a careful philosophy and a balanced programme and he has carefully worked out a development plan and all the trappings of the best type of modern government. He brought that almost de novo to Trinidad. That is one past achievement and he is now bringing it into full flower, but his greatest achievement has yet to come.
If Dr. Williams succeeds, as he may well do in the long run, where we have failed in creating a greater organisation of States in the Caribbean that may well be something of which he can be very proud indeed. As the House should know, he has started consultations with Surinam and he has just come back from Europe where, it has been publicly announced, he has been talking about the future of Martinique and Guadeloupe into some sort of wider association in the Caribbean. This man loses no time. His country's independence is only just around the corner, but he is already busy in seeing how the future of the Caribbean can be achieved where British attempts have failed. If he succeeds, very good luck to him and all admiration to him for the effort he has made.
The danger in talking about Trinidad is that in one way we imitate Dr. Williams, who does something which we cannot do. I have seen him, but I have not heard him. I wish I had. Occasionally he has addressed his Legislative Assembly for five hours at a stretch, presenting his Budget proposals. This seems to be a feature of Trinidad life; one can develop in extenso every feature of political and economic government. I shall be much briefer than that.
Nevertheless, there are four urgent and important questions, at least, which I want to raise at the end of my remarks. They are questions about the continuing responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government in this area. The dangers too often in giving independence 554 to various parts of the Commonwealth is that after the debate we tend to think that nothing more remains for us to do. There are four very important matters about which I want to hear from the Government in connection with our responsibilites.
Let me say, however, that I believe that Trinidad is ready for independence. Hon. Members have mentioned the fortunate position which arises largely from the possession of oil, and it is worth recording that the gross national product of Trinidad per head in West Indian dollars is about 900 dollars per annum, compared with 500 in Jamaica and 250 in the Leeward Islands, part of the British West Indies. If one has 900 dollars compared with 500 dollars or 250 dollars, one has a good head start, and this is Trinidad's important beginning on the road to independence. Her economy is off the ground, so to speak, and on that basis she has a good prospect of a reasonable future.
It goes further than that, because in a quotation which I have given before, but which is worth mentioning again, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, when it made a £ 40 million loan recently to Trinidad for electricity development, paid glowing tributes to the economic situation in that island. In one section it said:With a per capita income of about 850 West Indian dollars, the people of Trinidad enjoy one of the highest standards of living of any Afro-Asian community. Trinidad is one of the most prosperous places in central and South America. While population density is high— 430 per square mile—and population growth is rapid, there is yet no pressing land shortage. A system of universal primary education has resulted in a high degree of literacy. Free secondary education has recently been introduced and certain types of university education are now available.It refers to the existence of a substantial middle-class and to the fact that the P.N.M. Government's record has been good. It adds:Social services and public utilities have been expanding. The five-year development programme begun in 1958 has been the instrument of these measures and has been financed in large part by budget revenue surpluses.This is some tribute from an international body of such repute as the International Bank, and it shows that Trinidad has been wisely governed and has a good basis on which to start.
555 With a secondary education population today of 18,000, it is possibly the best-educated island in the Caribbean in that sense. There is a higher proportion of secondary education than anywhere else, which is an achievement of the present Government.
May I say a word about the political ripeness of Trinidad for independence? This has been well said already. Not only was the new Constitution widely discussed, but one of the fascinating things which I found in Trinidad was that when the P.N.M., the ruling party, made up its mind not to go along with the Federation, there was an enormous manifesto, going into such detail as we should not dare, as British politicians, to present to the British people.
This is an enormous document, which starts like a legal document, with the word whereas" at the beginning of twenty-two separate paragraphs. There is one long piece of economic argument after another and it says, "Whereas" twenty-two times. It ends:Be it Resolved" that we shall not for these reasons continue the Federation of the West Indies.This is high political education, and something which we should not dare to put across in Great Britain. All credit to the P.N.M. party, or any other party of Trinidad, if it can bring its people to swallow the real stuff of economic and political decisions which have to be made in modern communities.
I want to ask a number of questions about Trinidad's future which depends a great deal on our responsibilities. Let me take, first, the agreement about the base at Chaguaramas. The agreement in respect of this big American base in Trinidad was signed by Her Majesty's Government and it is our responsibility that the base exists. There is a new recent agreement between Trinidad and America, which I understand that we counter-signed and, therefore, to some extent we are responsible for it. Under it, the base is to be reduced in size and the period of the operation of the agreement is to be reduced. In return for the base, the United States Government were to undertake five big development projects in the Island of Trinidad.
I am concerned to hear that, pending independence and all the previous nego 556 tiations, none of these five projects has got under way. These are very important to Trinidad. The position has gone so far that the Trinidad Government have accused the United States Government of dragging their feet in putting this agreement into operation. I do not know whether that is true, but I should like some indication of what communications there have been with the United States Government as a result of our responsibility in the matter, and whether it is expected that at least some of these projects— for example, one is a road between Port of Spain and Chaguaramas— are to be put under way quickly. It must not be allowed to drift or to fall by the wayside after independence.
A more important aspect of that agreement was the American agreement to build the College of Arts, which is to be the Trinidad end of the university of the West Indies. I understand that this should have been opened later this year, but that the building has not been started. Something is going very wrong here, and it is important that the Under-Secretary, on behalf of the Colonial Office, should give us an assurance that inquiries will be made of the American signatories to this agreement, as part of our responsibilities, to make sure that the agreement is to be carried out and that there will be no more undue delay in putting the tangible parts of it into quick operation as a contribution to the development of Trinidad. These matters are important out there.
The second problem which I wanted to raise was that of economic aid for Trinidad. This was mentioned in the debate on Jamaica—the problem of C.D.C. investment. There is, however, another aspect. Trinidad has never had colonial development and welfare aid. We are due to do something in Trinidad associated with independence. Because the standard of living is higher than in other parts of the Caribbean, it does not mean that the Trinidad problem is easy. Trinidad has 12 to 15 per cent. unemployment and 12 to 15 per cent. partially employed. There are very often explosive mixtures of hope and fear in a developing community, and we must do something to help Trinidad during the next stage of economic development.
The crying need — and meeting it would most contribute to a construction 557 boom and thus jack up the economy of Trinidad through its next stages— is working-class houses. We can get money to some extent—I have done it myself—for Caribbean houses, but the trouble is that we can get British money, British mortgage finance and British industrial interests only for middle-class housing. There is no chance of getting private enterprise money for Trinidad working-class housing, nor for Jamaican working-class housing, for that matter. Trinidad now needs a construction boom of anything like 20,000, 30,000 or more houses in the £ 1,000 range. This is its crying need. With the standard of living, there are ready purchasers for such houses. They are not, in the main, houses for renting. That is not the the Caribbean tradition. They need houses for sale at about £ 1,000.
I have tried to raise money in Britain for similar projects in Jamaica in that price range. I have failed. There is no profit in it. There is not much in it to interest a private investor. The production costs are cut right to the bone to sell houses at that price.
It is important that we should help Trinidad with loans to enable her to undertake working-class housing on that scale. It is important not only to jack the economy up by a construction boom but also to keep quiet the inevitable anti-democratic forces which exist in a community with 12 per cent. to 15 per cent. unemployed. This would be a great stabilising force in the island. We should offer help in any way we can.
There is also a poor part of Trinidad. That is Tobago. Tobago, as the report of the International Bank shows, is getting a fair share of development finance. Nevertheless, it remains a poor area. I should be delighted if we could allocate some loans to help the development of Trinidad, particularly Tobago.
My third question is about the Common Market and Trinidad's position. We should have an assurance from the Government that the particular requirements of Trinidad will be safeguarded in any agreement about British and Commonwealth association with the Common Market. The key point is that the agreement linking nearby Curacao with the Common Market is based on a production quota of refined oil. This is no good to Trinidad, because she is a 558 producer of oil as well. The amount of oil coming from Trinidad is bound to increase. They are exploring under the seabed as well as in Trinidad itself.
Therefore, any agreement with the Common Market must make provision for an expanding contribution of oil from Trinidad and must not be based on a quota system related to past production. This is important, just as the safeguarding of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreements is important in the future of the Common Market. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us that these things will be borne in mind, particularly in the negotiations about the Common Market.
My fourth question is a simple one, which I referred to at the beginning of my remarks. I refer to wider association in the Caribbean. Dr. Williams is starting where we left off. He is trying to build something new in the Caribbean. He is talking with anybody who is willing to talk, whether it is about political association, economic union, or common trading areas. He is exploring from the beginning. He has explored already with France. I understand that he has had a reasonably good reception in Europe. Indeed, a French mission is going to Port of Spain soon, and I understand that it may discuss the future of Guadaloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean area with Dr. Williams.
We want an assurance from the Government that they will keep happily in touch with Dr. Williams and anybody else and help forward the building of something larger in the Caribbean. We have a great influence in the area, even after independence. We shall have influence with the little Eight. We shall have influence with everybody else, because of our long-standing historical position. We must be assured that at every stage the wider objectives, the wider horizons, and the more imaginative ideas for the Caribbean, will always be kept in mind by Her Majesty's Government and that they will do everything they can to help the Island of Trinidad when it begins to take the lead in exploring the future.
I have said as much as I need. I hope that I shall receive satisfactory answers to the questions I have raised. Like other hon. Members, I end by 559 saying what a pleasure it is to be supporting the advent of Trinidad as a new independent member of the British Commonwealth. Her history, her achievements, and her probable economic future all point to the fact that we are making a wise decision today in giving her independence.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
As I have very recently had the opportunity of visiting Trinidad and Tobago I should like to say a few words. Unfortunately, I have not the detailed knowledge of my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) and the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman). I remind the hon. Member for Northfield that it is not only Ministers who have the opportunity of speaking for a long time in Trinidad; even back benchers have three-quarters of an 'hour. If their speeches are agreeable to everybody there are cries of, "Go on" and they get another half an hour, which I found a little too much.
I support the hon. Member for Northfield in the points he raised about the American bases. I will not go into the points the hon. Gentleman so ably made. I hope that we shall receive satisfactory answers to them.
I want to say something about the help which might be given through colonial development and welfare funds. If we are to give any form of farewell present, I suggest that we should do something to help the educational programme. It is true that Trinidad has more pupils in the schools than some of the other islands, but the overcrowding in the schools in Trinidad is fantastic. I went to schools where it was practically impossible for the young girls or boys to write, at the same time because they were so crowded and I hope that this situation will be remedied, perhaps with some help from this country.
As I said when I spoke on the Jamaica Independence Bill, I trust that we shall continue to do something with regard to housing, perhaps through the Colonial Development Corporation, because there is still a pressing need for this.
I was interested to learn that the original name in the local language for 560 the islands of Trinidad and Tobago was "the Land of the Humming Bird". This is a delightful sounding name, rather appropriate when one considers the type of population now in the island. It is the second largest of the Caribbean Islands, and as my right hon. Friend said, it has a highly cosmopolitan population. There are French, Spanish, English and Chinese backgrounds to a great many people in the island, and at least 35 per cent. of the people are East Indians. The rest are of African stock.
They begin with one advantage which many other places which have recently become independent have not got, they all speak English as their first language. This should have a unifying effect, as they do not have to learn English, with the possible exception of a few Chinese, as their second language in order to unify themselves. English is their national language.
It has been pointed out that this area is a very rich one. The Pitch Lake will be celebrating 100 years in the hands of one firm. From the early days it has brought considerable prosperity to the island. This unique lake has perhaps concentrated the eyes of people on this island more than would have otherwise been the case.
It is interesting to find that the island's exports have risen from £ 37 million in 1950 to £ 103 million in 1960. If exports continue to increase at this rate— there does not seem to be any reason why they should not, in view of the very rich soil, oil, timber, etc.— there should be plenty of chance for the future prosperity of the island.
I was recently rather interested to read a book describing Trinidad's history. At one time, apparently, it was suggested, that some elected members might be added to the then House of Representatives, but that was not considered possible because it was said that it would be "perilous in the extreme for this heterogeneous and educationally backward Colony". That was in 1890, yet today we are welcoming the independence of these two islands.
We have been reminded this afternoon that they have formed a democratic type of Government on the lines that we have here in the United Kingdom, and that Dr. Williams has pushed forward with modern methods, but I hope, too. that he 561 and whatever party is in power will remember the safeguarding of minorities. There is real fear— perhaps political fear, because we know that political parties can engender fears for their own political reasons— amongst the minority races as to their future.
When I was in Trinidad and read the draft Constitution I found that there were thirty or forty instances of power being vested in the hands of the Prime Minister of the day. It is still felt that there are too few members of the minority races in the police, in judicial posts in the Civil Service and the Army.
I hope that, in future, due opportunity will be given to all races to serve in those posts if they so wish. One does not, of course, wish to force them to join. They may not have been so keen to join in the past, but it would be very advantageous to an independent Trinidad if all races could play their part in the service of their country—
§ Mr. Fisher
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I know that she appreciates that there is no racial difficulty about this at all. In the police, the Army, and so on, it is simply a matter of attaining certain physical standards, in rather the same way as in this country. That is the main limiting factor. I do not think that anyone has been excluded from public service on grounds of race.
§ Miss Vickers
I thank my hon. Friend, but that is what I have heard.
I think it rather astonishing that there should be such a considerable number of those descended from negro, African and not of other stocks who are considered to be physically and educationally fit. That should be watched very carefully, because I cannot see why those of one race should be so predominantly better physically than the others, when all have been brought up in equal surroundings. Perhaps, as I say, some of these people have not been so keen on joining but, with independence, they are now more eager.
I was in Trinidad when Dr. Williams made his radio speech, which I found intensely interesting, about the Constitution. It was a very wise move. I hope that the many suggestions received will be considered and that there will be full co-operation, such as I understand there 562 has not been so far, by all political parties in drafting the Constitution. It is no good putting forward suggestions and then refusing to attend the meetings at which those suggestions are discussed. This led, rightly, to criticisms of non-co-operation. I hope that when Trinidad becomes independent all will do their best to get rid of political divisions based on race, as this will be most important for the future of the country.
I raised one point about nationality when we discussed Clause 2 of the Jamaica Independence Bill and the same thing is similarly stated in this Bill. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary was kind enough to reply to me on that occasion. It seems that the question of whether citizenship should be conferred on such persons as I there referred to is a matter of consultation with the Government of Jamaica, and that in this case it will be a matter of consultation with the Government of Trinidad. It is extremely important that, as there are common law marriages, no young persons shall be deemed not to be citizens because they were then born out of wedlock. If we cannot safeguard their position here, I hope that a safeguard can be written into the Trinidad Constitution.
Many of the women's organisations are very politically conscious and have taken great interest in the future Constitution of the country. They have raised the question of dual citizenship. They feel that there may be people born in this country who have taken up their work in Trinidad or Tobago, who wish to live there, and who now regard themselves as local people. At the same time, they do not want to opt just for Trinidad citizenship, but would also like to keep their British citizenship. Will it be possible for them to have both British and Trinidad citizenship if they so desire? It is thought that many people who have given valuable service in many walks of life may, fearing loss of British citizenship, want to return to this country. They would be greatly missed in the country concerned.
The hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and I were in Trinidad at the time of the dissolution of the Federal Parliament. In fact, we attended a luncheon which was, I believe, the last official function of that Parliament. We 563 felt very sorry about the dissolution, but quite understood the reasons for it, but, with the hon. Member for Northfield, I feel that there may be an opportunity for Trinidad to take a lead in the Caribbean area in the future. Geographically, Jamaica is very far away from Trinidad, British Guiana and the Little Eight. It may be simpler and easier for Trinidad to take the lead. This would be very advantageous for the future.
We must all commiserate with Lord Hailes over the failure of the Federation. I think that it is in order to mention him in connection with Trinidad, because that was where he was stationed. It has been a very great disappointment to him that his mission did not succeed, but I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton that one cannot force any form of federation on an unwilling population. Nevertheless, credit must be given to Lord Hailes for the way in which he worked for it, and it is no discredit to him that it did not succeed. I hope that we may pay full tribute to him for all that he did in a very difficult job, as he has left the islands with the respect and, I think I may say, the affection of all concerned.
I join with right hon. and hon. Members in wishing Trinidad and Tobago a very successful future as a member of the Commonwealth, and I hope that we shall be able to have an even closer co-operation and understanding with them in the future.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
Most of the points I wished to make have already been touched on and, as the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devon-port (Miss Vickers) said, the only adverse criticism we had to make was about the length of speeches we experienced in Trinidad and Tobago. I hope to set a good example and to be brief.
I am delighted that the recent conference on the independence provisions has ended, as far as one can judge, in the spirit of co-operation and amity. When I was in Trinidad recently I could not help feeling certain doubts about this because of the very poor state of relationships that existed between the Government and the Opposition at that time. There was a great deal of friction and far too little co-operation. This 564 friction had been engendered partly because of the experiences at the last election. We heard a great deal about voting machines, and so on.
I am happy to note from the general provisions in the White Paper that there is to be in the future more formal arrangements for consultation between the Government and the Opposition. During the interesting visit we paid to the Trinidad Legislature we were able to put a number of questions to Members there. It struck us that the "usual channels" were more than usually conspicuous by their absence. There seemed to be no provision for formal consultation, even in day-to-day Parliamentary business, and if a degree of co-operation can be established it will be all to the good.
It was particularly encouraging to learn at the end of the discussions in London that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition together pledged themselves to future co-operation. I hope that there will be co-operation between the two sides so that the new Constitution will work and that prosperity will come under independence. We realise, of course, that there are bound to be differences of opinion.
To be brief in my remarks, I will merely underline some of the points made by other hon. Members. It is clear that the West Indies will follow with the closest attention the provisions that are made by Her Majesty's Government should we enter the Common Market. We are all aware of the need to safeguard the sugar industry in which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) said. Trinidad has a special interest. This also applies to oil agreements. Dr. Williams made it clear when in London recently that they will be far from satisfied with the sort of quota arrangements now in force with the Netherlands West Indies and that something more flexible is essential for the prosperity of Trinidad. I would issue a warning to Her Majesty's Government that we shall pay close attention to this matter.
I strongly support what has been said about education and housing, the two most difficult social problems in Trinidad. The courageous efforts that have been made to improve secondary education are, indeed, worthy of respect 565 and we all wish well to the proposed new college of further education. Like the hon. Member for Devonport, I was deeply concerned at the fantastic overcrowding in the primary schools. I have visited schools in various parts of the world, but I do not think I have ever seen such overcrowding as exists in the schools we visited in Trinidad. They may, for local reasons, have been particularly bad examples of overcrowding, but I cannot see how teachers can teach or pupils learn in conditions where the children cannot even write because they cannot move their elbows, so closely are they packed together.
Three teachers were trying to teach simultaneously in a room that was so crowded that they could not move between the desks. Only a flimsy screen divided the classroom from the next, in Which three more teachers were trying simultaneously to teach in a similarly overcrowded room. Anything that can be done by teacher training and other schemes to assist in providing more teachers for this territory would be a useful contribution we could make, even after independence.
I, too, was much impressed by the initiative of Dr. Williams in trying to enlist the interest of the ordinary elector in constitutional and other political matters. It was a fascinating exercise in adult education to see the way in which he has tackled the discussions on the Constitution. A purist in Parliamentary government might suggest that it was not in the most sophisticated Parliamentary tradition to go to the highways and byways, asking all and sundry to send in their comments on a draft Constitution. As a method of enlisting interest it was, as far as I can judge, a successful operation.
Like the hon. Member for Devonport, I heard Dr. Williams's broadcast on the subject of the Constitution. It was a masterly effort and although there was considerable disquiet among certain elements in the Opposition in the way he was proceeeding, he was at the heart of the matter and was justified, considering the circumstances, in going about it in the way he did. I hope that, with the improvement in feeling between the Government and Opposition parties, we may look forward to seeing in 566 Trinidad the development of a political system which will be a model of democratic government in that part of the world.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Pannell (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
It is unusual on these occasions to strike a discordant note. I do so with considerable diffidence because I have not had an opportunity to visit this territory. It is an extremely small one, the two islands comprising less than 2,000 square miles, with a population of just over 800,000. It will be the smallest independent unit in the Commonwealth, with the exception of Cyprus. There were special considerations concerning Cyprus which do not apply in this case.
Considering that we are now heading in the direction of very small independent territories, I completely admit that Trinidad and Tobago are more advanced and have greater economic self-sufficiency than many territories that have recently achieved their independence. But many of the smaller territories are in Africa. There are former French territories, colonies such as the Gaboon and Congo Republics, both with populations of less than half a million. But there is a difference in that these countries continue to be linked with metropolitan France in matters of culture, economics, finance and defence.
We in the British Commonwealth act differently. We make a clean cut. We cut the painter and let the small craft adrift on the troubled waters of independence with only the tenuous connection of inter-commonwealth relations to maintain any influence we may have. It was only two years ago that we thought that Sierra Leone, with a population of 2½ million, was a marginal case for independence. Things have moved fast since then and today we are applauding the granting of independence to a community of less than 1 million.
I ask myself where the process will stop. There are many other territories in the Commonwealth with populations approaching half a million and which may aspire to independence. To mention a few, Mauritius, Fiji, and British Guiana. I think that it will not make for the strength of the Commonwealth if we have the Prime Ministers of these 567 small countries conferring on equal terms with the Prime Ministers of the giants like India, Pakistan, Canada and Australia.
I have said that only to express why I feel no great enthusiasm for this Measure, although I admit that it may be inevitable. The Federation of the West Indies was a bold conception which has failed. We now have Jamaica made independent and we shall shortly have Trinidad independent and we hope that there will be a grouping of the other eight small islands into another independent State. There will, therefore, be three small independent communities, a sort of balkanisation of the Caribbean which I do not think is to be specially welcomed.
I join with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), who expressed a hope that some time in the near future there will be some regrouping and some larger association of these independent states on perhaps a federal basis which will give more meaning to independence and will give them greater power and influence in the world. In saying that, I would not exclude the possibility of some French islands such as Guadaloupe and Martinique joining such a federation.
Reference has been made to racial differences in Trinidad and I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend's assurance that these differences have been overcome. Apprehension was strongly expressed by the Indian element, representatives of which recently visited this country. I do not know the details of the guarantees which have been given. There is a reference in the White Paper, Cmnd. 1757 to the entrenched clauses safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of the individual irrespective of race, and so on.
But I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied that the apprehensions of the Indians in this respect have been fully allayed. Many considerations which we felt in the past were necessary before the granting of independence have been abandoned long ago. The one which I feel must not be abandoned is the protection of minorities in the countries for which we have relinquished responsibility.
568 I would refer with some hesitation to my right hon. Friend's statement that Trinidad will not only remain within the Commonwealth, but will continue to owe allegiance to the Crown. That in itself is welcome. It has been welcomed on many occasions in this House when independence has been granted to colonies in recent years. I hope that in this case it will not be followed in a few months by a declaration of intention to declare a republic. This would be unfortunate. I know that disrespect is not intended, but the world must think that it implies a certain disrespect. I should have thought that if there were that possibility the country embarking upon independence should be given the choice, on achieving independence, to elect for a republican status from the beginning, instead of accepting allegiance to the Crown only to reject it in a few months.
§ Mr. Chapman
The hon. Member is acting quite properly in raising this matter. But I would point out that the White Paper carefully sets out most of the points which would need an amendment of the Constitution to change the present form of allegiance to the Commonwealth, such as the office of Governor-General. These are specially entrenched parts of the Constitution needing two-thirds and three-quarters affirmative votes in the Legislature to enable the Constitution to be changed. Is the hon. Member, therefore, not raising a problem which probably would not arise?
§ Mr. Pannell
This has occurred in other territories, when a campaign is started which causes people generally to want a republican Government. I am not criticising that, and I am not disputing that it would need a 75 per cent. majority in the House of Assembly in favour of a republican Government to make a change. All I say is that if that possibility is likely to arise and if there are elements in a country which is emerging towards independence who are strongly in favour of a republican form of Government that opportunity and option should be given to the country before we abandon control.
This concludes my remarks except to say that despite the criticisms which I have voiced I should also like to express 569 my good will to the new independent State of Trinidad and Tobago and I hope that it will be able to overcome its problems and become a worthy member of the Commonwealth of nations.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
I am very glad that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell) concluded his remarks by expressing good will to the emerging new nation of Trinidad and Tobago. I am sure that he was quite sincere in that respect even though he prefaced those remarks by a certain amount of morbid foreboding. May I ask the hon. Member a simple question? What would he propose should have been done instead of the course which has been taken?
§ Mr. Pannell
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I said that probably what we were doing was inevitable. I excused myself for not expressing enthusiasm at the inevitability.
§ Mr. Sorensen
I appreciate the hon. Member's further explanation, but I should still like to know, going further back in time, what he would say would have been the right course at that juncture. However, I will leave it at that.
I am glad that my apprehension at the hon. Member's remarks was dissolved at the conclusion of his speech, and I am sure that all of us here, whatever our criticisms of the past may have been, or still may be, will agree that we cannot hope for an emerging new nation like this to set sail and navigate its course successfully without the best wishes on the part of all of us. I therefore earnestly hope that although this is an experiment and a great adventure, nevertheless it will be a great success.
Earlier, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) referred to the fact that there was much political discussion in the rum shops of Trinidad and he gave a parallel between that and discussions in our own homely "pubs". I have not had much experience of discussion in that atmosphere, but on the few occasions on which I have entered these historic hostelries I must say that I have not been over-impressed by the cogency of the political discussion. Rather, I 570 have been troubled by the diffuse and dissipatory nature of what I have heard.
I think that developments in Trinidad and Tobago have not been due so much to the forums to which reference has been made, but rather to the courageous experiment made by Dr. Williams some years ago. He is an extraordinary man, and I have great sympathy with him, because apparently he began his public career in Trinidad in much the same way as I began mine many years ago, by simply getting up and speaking in the open air.
I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Williams in the "University of Wood-ford Square". On that occasion, as on previous occasions, he supplied a vast amount of material to his listeners which took a long time to digest. Not only was his eloquence extensive in more senses than one, but it was also loaded with a tremendous amount of erudite matter which I would not have been able to analyse properly even in as long a time as he took to deliver it. I should like to pay tribute to his remarkable politically educational work, but we must not forget others as well.
There is Dr. Capildeo, to whom reference has already been made. There is the worthy and weighty citizen Mr. Gomes, and we must also not forget the significant figure of Mr. Leary Constantine, who was for many years in our midst but who went over there for a while and who, I am glad to say, is now so ably representing his people in the Metropolis here once more. These four names have been selected almost hazardlly from a variety of politicians and, indeed, statesmen.
I had the opportunity, when visiting Trinidad, to listen to a political convention. Indeed, I was asked to say a few words, which I did in a characteristically diplomatic and perhaps ambiguous fashion. My words none the less received substantial applause. As I watched the convention at work I was struck not only by the eloquence, but also by the ability— for I know that the two are not necessarily synonymous—of all those assembled there. Also, I was struck by the multiracial nature of the convention. It was symbolic of the Trinidad and Tobago that are now emerging— a microcosm almost of the world.
571 I noticed an absence of Caribs. I understand that there are a few remnants of this indigenous race still in Trinidad, but they were supplanted by other races, and although I know that Dr. Williams has from time to time criticised Britain severely for having introduced other races to that island, I would say, on the other hand, that the diffusion and dispersion of peoples is a characteristic of the whole human race the world over. This is due not merely to the pressure of imperialism, but to the driving instinct of many peoples to settle elsewhere than in their birthplace.
Anyhow, we have in Trinidad and Tobago this wondrous mixture of negroid people and perhaps Caribs, Chinese, Indians and elements of Spanish, French, English and Scottish. There they all are, and that is why, in particular, one hopes earnestly that Dr. Williams will be able to steer, with others, this new venture to a successful conclusion, and in a small way within its own limitations thus to offer an example to the world.
Dr. Williams and all who are associated with him start with certain economic advantages. Reference has been made more than once to the substantial economic resource of oil, but I am sure that we would all advise him not to put too much reliance on that predominant present element of the economy. So far as they can, I am sure the Trinidad Government will diversify that economy lest at some time there comes a change in the economic life of the world which adversely affects the predominance of that commodity. I believe there is a capacity amongst the peoples of Trinidad, educated as they have been to face economic facts, now to deal with their economic life soundly and wisely and to look far ahead.
There will be political difficulties. There may be side winds that blow from the near mainland of Venezuela. I hope earnestly that Dr. Williams and the men and women who are to be representatives of this small emerging nation will themselves know how to deal with what may be those embarrassing pressures from Venezuela or elsewhere.
We do not know positively that this venture will remain on the democratic 572 path. We know that with great optimism other communities have started off democratically, but have had to modify their democratic structure. They have had to embark later, I am sorry to say, on an authoritarian, although not necessarily a totalitarian, regime. I do not stand in criticism of them, because one does not know all the circumstances. What one can do, however, is to hope profoundly that here, at least, there will be no aberration or deviation, and that, instead, those who are to be responsible for these 800,000 people will do their utmost to see that the essence of democracy, if not the precise pattern that we have in this country, is preserved for all time. I hope so, for thus Trinidad and Tobago will serve a wider area than the Caribbean.
I trust, too, that in the course of time an association of the various small communities of the Caribbean will emerge. We all deplore the collapse of the last great venture, but I am certain that in course of time experience, expediency and imagination will compel these varying communities to find some appropriate association in the days to come. For that reason we shall not bemoan too much the abortive attempt that was made.
It is true that 800,000 is a very small community, but we have to deal with matters as they are. Therefore, I trust that the most powerful note which will be echoed from this House in Trinidad tomorrow when they read the Press will be one of confidence and hope—confidence that those who are now in charge of their destinies will be wise, balanced and far-seeing and will in that spirit see to it that they preserve not only their democratic structure, but integrate the various racial components into one national community; and hope that here at least in this area of the Caribbean the Trinidans and the Tobagans together will ensure that they show promise and good will to all the others who dwell in that part of our world.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hugh Fraser)
I should like to echo warmly the concluding sentences of the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen).
Before I turn to some of the points raised in the debate, perhaps I should 573 clear up two or three misconceptions which have emerged from an extraordinarily well-informed debate. The first misconception was my own, which was that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell) was going to end up on a discordant note, but he avoided that and we seem to be unanimous in our good will to this new independent country.
The next slight misconception arose on the question of dual citizenship. I know that we keep on bombarding the House with independence Bills, but if my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devon-port (Miss Vickers) will read Clause 2 (3) I think she will find that dual citizenship is clearly covered under paragraph (a) which states that a person whose father or grandfather is a United Kingdom descendant can hold citizenship both of Trinidad and of this country.
§ Mr. Fraser
On the question of the mother and that of illegitimate children which she raised, I should like to cover those points in correspondence with her. To adjust the British Nationality Act would be a clumsy way of proceeding, and there can he and will be provision in the local constitution, as in the constitution of Jamaica, whereby if the people of Trinidad so request persons born illegitimately outside this country or another colony or Trinidad can be legitimised. This is the legal situation.
Lastly, there was the slight misconception on the part of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) regarding the Chaguarama Agreement. There were two stages in the negotiations. One was the negotiation between the United Kingdom and the United States regarding the basic agreement, and in addition there was a negotiation, with us acting as honest broker, between the United States and the Government of Trinidad. At this stage, when Trinidad is on the verge of independence, it would be rash of me to try to enter into any discussion on that point. It is far better left to the Governments of Trinidad and of the United States who will, I hope, satisfactorily work out whatever differences there may be on these points. I believe it is possible that there will emerge in Trinidad a successful multi-racial society which can 574 be an example to many others in the same sort of situation throughout the world. I believe that the accord between Dr. Williams and Dr. Capildeo, between Government and Opposition, which emerged from the recent conference is a fair portent of what can happen. Difficult though the situation could be, I think that we can permit ourselves some confidence.
Hon. Members have spoken about the part that Trinidad, under the exceptionally far-seeing leadership of Dr. Williams, can play in the Caribbean. The hon. Member for Northfield asked whether we would give a favourable wind to any suggestion of wider association. We as the British Government, of course, not only would welcome most warmly but would do everything we could to assist the building up through the Caribbean of trade and wider associations during the years to come.
In opening the debate, the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) spoke about the oil industry. It is not for me to argue with him about his views and the dissertation he gave us about whether it was a good thing that the industry should make profits. I think that it is better that the oil industry should be run on a profit-making rather than a loss-making basis, and it is vital that the oil industry should be international in conception rather than purely national in outlook. Dr. Williams and the Trinidad Government face considerable problems on this score. As many hon. Members have said, an oil economy is a dangerous one, and no one is more aware of this than Dr. Williams. Clearly, there is a chance of diversification, bringing forward plans for developing agriculture, for instance, even further than it has been developed already.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke also about safeguarding the interests of Trinidad in the E.E.C. We have been fortunate in Brussels that Trinidadian officials have been actually sitting with our people just before the talks there. The House will know also that Dr. Williams is tomorrow to see the Lord Privy Seal and have further discussions. At the Prime Ministers' Conference, Dr. Williams will be here as a Prime Minister. To add to the remark made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale, I am quite certain 575 that, whatever be the size of the island of Trinidad, in the Prime Ministers' Conference a man of the intellectual calibre of Dr. Williams will have more than a contribution to make.
As regards the aid settlement to which several references have been made, I as Under-Secretary of State have made myself perfectly clear on the subject of the C.D.C. I think that my thought reflects, perhaps rather like a moon, the views of those with greater influence and power. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman and the House in saying that the sooner we can get an announcement on this and a clarification the better.
On the subject of aid, talks are going on in Trinidad, but I must remind the House of what I said when we discussed the question of aid to Jamaica. Whatever it might wish to do, the United Kingdom must be limited by its responsibilities to the infinitely poorer territories of the world. The hon. Member for Northfield said that there will be no C.D. and W. allocation to Trinidad. This is not correct. About million has been paid out over the past series of years.
My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) struck what seems to me to be the most important note in the debate, that here in Trinidad, with its leaders and its people, we have a chance to show how a multiracial society, which is multiracial by its very nature, can by good will, by perseverance and by leadership be made to work.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House— [Mr. M. Hamilton.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.