HC Deb 16 July 1962 vol 663 cc31-66

Order for Second Reading read.

The Minister of Health (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

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.

3.31 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hugh Fraser)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

This year marks the centenary of the discovery of the source of the Nile, by the explorers Speke and Grant and one hundred years later, almost to the day, and after so many years of darkness, Uganda will achieve her independence. During these years the history of her ancient kingdoms has become linked with our own destiny. The first few years of our protectorate were marked with events as turbulent as the cataracts of the Owen Falls themselves, but since then there has emerged a period of steady, indeed startling, progress, as hon. Members Who know Uganda will agree.

We came to find warring kingdoms; we leave a Christian country whose peoples have learnt from us the benefits not only of our civilisation but of our institutions. Wealth has increased; much has flourished; but, above all else, I believe, there has emerged a sense of political unity, and aspiration towards an Uganda nation.

Those who worked at the last two conferences, in September and October of last year and the conference so recently concluded, have all been impressed by the determination of the peoples of Uganda to work out a system of government which will safeguard the identity of the nations and tribes within it and yet, at the same time, give these peoples collectively sufficient cohesion and strength to enable Uganda to stand forth as a nation in the modern world.

I think that all those who took part in these negotiations will agree that they have not been easy—neither for us, nor for the new African central Government, nor for the kingdoms and the districts. Last October the main framework of the future State was settled, and for this I think that the House owes a debt of gratitude to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

The essential success of that conference was that Buganda accepted its rôle inside a Uganda State. Great credit is due to His Highness the Kabaka and his advisers for the wise decisions they then took. Nevertheless, a further conference was necessary to tie up the details of the relationship between the central Government and the kingdoms, and to make the final arrangements for the transfer of our authority, and that conference which has just ended, has completed that task. For the success of this conference I would pay high tribute to Mr. Obote, the Leader of the U.P.C. and of the Coalition Government, and also to the delegates of the kingdoms and districts who accepted compromises in the interests of Uganda as a whole and for the achievement of early independence.

The House has before it this afternoon two documents, the Report of the recent conference, Cmnd. 1778, and the Independence Bill. The conclusions of the conference do not find a place in the Bill, but will find one, of course, in the independence constitution which will be enacted by Order in Council. It is only because full agreement was reached at the conference on the provisions which the Constitution will contain that Her Majesty's Government are able to bring forward this Bill today.

It was made clear and has been accepted that the time has now come when the individual kingdoms and districts can no longer look to us to safeguard their particular interests. This responsibility will fall inevitably, after independence, upon the Uganda Government themselves. In return, the new Constitution will contain much fuller provisions safeguarding the positions of the kingdoms. Thus, at the periphery the traditions of the peoples, tribes and rulers will be protected, whilst at the centre the independent Government of Uganda will have all the powers which they need to govern effectively.

Whilst general agreement was reached on constitutional matters there was one matter on which, as the House will know, it proved impossible to obtain an agreed settlement. This was the boundaries dispute between Buganda and Bunyoro. Hon. Members will have read Lord Molson's Report on this problem. This Report, which was, I believe, a model of brevity and good sense, called on Buganda to cede to Bunyoro two counties in which there is a majority of Banyoro people. Much time during the conference was devoted by my right hon. Friend to trying to get an agreed solution between the Kabaka's Government and that of the Omukama of Bunyoro; and in this we failed.

Some hon. Members may suggest that, as we were unable to implement the ideal solution put forward by the Molson Report, the date of independence should have been delayed. I must disagree, and disagree most strongly, for here, I think, two matters must be paramount in our minds, first, the desire of the 6½ million people of Uganda to proceed swiftly to independence, and, secondly, looking back at history, the necessity of avoiding a civil war.

It was for this reason that the Secretary of State decided that both countries, whilst remaining within the boundaries of Buganda, should have their administration taken over by a third force, the central Government. By doing this, I believe that we shall give the 60,000 people who live there security for the immediate future, and neutralise the threat to peace and good order in Uganda during the first years of independence. A period of impartial administration should create conditions in which a referendum can one day be held.

Now I turn to the Bill itself. Clause 1 is common form for dealing with a territory which is wholly a Protectorate. The only special point I would make here is that subsection (3) contains a reference to the Second Schedule by which agreements with the various kingdoms are ended. This is similar to the provisions of the India Act and the Act which gave Burma its independence.

Clause 2 refers to citizenship, and this, again, is in common form, the example here being that of Tanganyika. Clause 3 is, again, standard form, and Clause 4, as in the Tanganyika Independence Act, refers to the East African Common Services Organisation and makes the necessary provision, by which funds can be made available under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1959. That, then, is the Bill.

In conclusion, I would just say two things. First, I am sure that the House will join me in paying tribute to all the British civil servants—Lugard, Sir Harry Johnston and our own contemporaries— who have done such great work in bringing forward Uganda to the state it finds itself in today. It is not only the great civil servants, contemporary and past, but also the missionary societies of all denominations to whom a special tribute should be paid. Of all our territories in Africa, Uganda has perhaps the most advanced and successful education system, and in this the missionaries have played a powerful and important part. I believe that the intelligence and determination of the people must stand them in good stead.

Proudly, too, I might remind the House that the recent conference expressed the unanimous wish that on attaining independence Uganda should be accepted as a member country of the Commonwealth and that the Queen should remain the Sovereign of its people as Queen of Uganda.

The difficulties which lie before Uganda are considerable. Clearly, there is great need for restraint, the sort of restraint which we saw at the recent conference. The aspiration of so many peoples, with different histories towards unity is something which must be nurtured carefully. I am sure that, with her political leaders, with the spirit of compromise which was achieved and with the potential wealth of the country —the fact, for example, that there is no land hunger compared with adjacent countries in that part of Africa—Uganda, well-governed and well led, and bearing in mind the Christian objectives of faith, hope and Charity, especially perhaps charity towards each other, can play at the centre of this part of Africa, at the head waters of the Nile itself, an important and vital part in our Commonwealth destiny.

3.42 p.m.

Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)

Like the Minister, we on this side of the House welcome this occasion as an opportunity to congratulate Uganda on her achievement of independence and to wish her well in facing the many problems of the future in that part of Africa. Many of us on both sides will hope that Uganda's independence is the second step towards building a great English-speaking East African federation of nations which, by pooling their resources, will be able to raise their living standards more quickly than would otherwise be the case.

With one exception—the issue of the lost counties—which the Minister has dealt with and which I should like to deal with in more detail in a moment or two, I think that the former Colonial Secretary, the Prime Minister, Mr. Obote, and all those who took part in the recent constitutional conference deserve a great deal of congratulation upon the large measure of success which it managed to achieve. I do not think that looking at Uganda a year or two ago one would have thought that it would have been possible as quickly as this to create a federal structure in which great kingdoms like Buganda would have accepted a place within a framework of central government, and due tribute ought to be paid for that achievement.

The progress in Uganda over recent years—I am glad to see the Leader of the House here, because he enjoys his share of credit for this—has been fast and fascinating. The main difficulty lying in the way of freedom has been not the reluctance of the metropolitan Power to withdraw but the fact that inside Uganda there has been an entirely indigenous African conflict of ideas between modern political nationalism and traditional tribal patterns of government. I confess that sometimes, as a Socialist, I have found myself irritated at the reluctance of the kingdoms in Uganda to fit into a more modern pattern of development, and than I have remembered that, as a Scot, I find these prickly loyalties to kingdoms within a larger framework extremely understandable. Provided that the right sort of progress is made, the kind of loyalty that these kingdoms enjoy is an important element in stability—but I stress, provided that the right sort of progress is made.

The struggle between these two sets of ideas in Africa has been sharper and at times more dramatic in Uganda than it has been in other parts of the continent. But I think that what has developed in Uganda, and what one hopes will develop in future, will be of very considerable significance for other countries. How Uganda succeeds in reconciling these different concepts of African society will influence other parts of the continent. All who wish Uganda well will echo the final words of the Minister, voicing the hope that there will be enough tolerance, generosity and charity on both sides to bring about a successful synthesis.

It would have been a greater encouragement of those hopes if the independence agreement had also included an agreement about the vexatious dispute between the kingdoms of Buganda and Bunyoro about the lost counties. We had an indication of how much that dispute is still with us at the beginning of our sitting this afternoon, when the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), introduced a petition from Bunyoro people in the lost counties. In the petition they appealed to She Government even at this late date to accept the recommendations of the Molson Commission which would have returned two of the five counties in dispute to Bunyoro.

In discussing this it is important to appreciate that, from the Bunyoro point of view, the proposition in the petition was, in fact, a compromise. Bunyoro found the finding of the Molson Commission disappointing, as Buganda did. I myself would echo the words of the Molson Commission—I am afraid that now they must be quoted with some disappointment—when it said: We hope for a generous act of statesmanship on the part of Buganda. We can conceive of no other single act which would add more to the stature of Buganda within Uganda, or would contribute more to the stability of the Protectorate on the eve of independence. Looking over the history of this matter, I think that, although, in a legal sense, Buganda no doubt has a great deal on her side, she has been unwise to stick to the letter of the law on this matter. It would have sent the new Commonwealth country of Uganda off to a splendid start if only Uganda had been able to leave this dangerous dispute behind her.

I do not think that Her Majesty's Government can escape a considerable share of the blame for the fact that it has not been possible so far to solve this dispute in advance of independence. The lost counties problem was born in as naked an act of colonial annexation as one will find in the archives, and I am afraid that it is ending in an atmosphere of delay and indecision on the part of the Government which in its way is as deplorable as the excessively arbitrary nature of the original annexation.

It is a long time since my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) raised in this House the issue of the lost counties. It is more than a year since the Munster Commission recommended that the matter should be dealt with by a referendum. At the conference last October it was decided to send out the Molson Commission, but there were delays in appointing it, delays in getting it out there, and even longer delays in publishing its Report.

That Commission issued a very grave warning to the Government It said that there might be dangerous consequences if its recommendations were not implemented while we still held the ring in Uganda in advance of independence. Paragraph 106 of its Report says: We think it therefore an integral part of our scheme that the transfer of territory shall have taken place before the 9th October, while the Governor is still in office. The Commission was a small one. It included people of such great distinction as Lord Molson, a former Conservative Minister, and Earl Listowel. Men of that character do not lightly issue a warning of that gravity. A Government who delay until they have no room left for manœuvre on this issue are taking upon themselves a heavy responsibility. Although we look forward to a prosperous future for Uganda, we have a duty to underline this problem on an occasion like this.

What the Government finally put forward at the eleventh hour, in the recent constitutional conference, was the proposal that there should be a minimum cooling-off period of two years in the lost counties, under the central Administration, to be followed by a referendum. But the Government did not state any maximum period within which the referendum should be held. I understand that the Mukama of Bunyoro has written to the Colonial Secretary suggesting that a maximum period should be inserted. The people of Bunyoro have an understandable fear that without some limiting period during which a referendum must take place they might find themselves in the same sort of situation as exists in Kashmir, where the promised referendum has been indefinitely postponed.

I have great faith in the integrity and ability of the present Prime Minister, Mr. Obote, to find a successful and peaceful solution to the problem, but the further request from the people of Bunyoro, put in a spirit of compromise, should have careful consideration from the Government, and I hope that the Minister will say that it is possible to discuss this matter with Mr. Obote and the others concerned in Uganda. It is also of importance that if the Bunyoro people are to be reassured there should be more precise information than we have had so far about the way in which the central administration of these disputed counties will be carried out, and what it will mean in terms of police administration and the appointment of local chiefs. I hope that the Minister will give the House more information on this matter in winding up the debate.

I have expressed my disappointment at the lack of magnanimity on the part of Buganda on this issue, although I understand the internal political difficulties which its leaders have to face. It is also fair to say, on the side of Buganda, that it has its own substantial complaint about the way in which the Government have dealt with the matter. Its people had understood from the Government, over the years, that this was a closed issue. My information is that at the October conference Buganda understood that the Molson Commission did not have within its terms of reference any discussion of a change of boundaries.

I understand that Lord Molson himself felt in some doubt about this and took the matter up with the Prime Minister. Indeed, he refers to this fact at the beginning of his Report. I further understand—and I shall be grateful for correction if I am wrong—that Lord Molson received a letter from the Prime Minister saying that his terms of reference did include possible changes of boundaries. This letter from the Prime Minister to Lord Molson remained a private matter for many months, until it was suddenly exposed at the constitutional conference.

Here again, we have an example of the Government engaging in what the parties to this dispute are bound to feel to be rather devious dealing, and it is extremely unfortunate that the Government's participation in the matter should at this point have been less successful and less creditable than their general achievements in respect of the whole constitutional development of Uganda.

Having said that, we must face the fact that our responsibility for the future political shape of Uganda ends on 9th October. But our responsibility for the future economic welfare of its people by no means ends then. Indeed our responsibility in this respect is likely to become greater rather than less in the years that lie ahead, if we are to match the obligations imposed on us. We are getting away from the concept that when a dependent territory becomes a new and indpendent member of the Commonwealth, at midnight on independence night a magical change takes place, and that all the kinds of help that we formerly gave, under the auspices of the Colonial Office, cease upon the stroke of twelve, or, if they continue at all, have to be reshaped under different conditions. The House and the Government are beginning to accept that there must be a great deal more continuity.

The last time we discussed this question was in our debate on the Jamaica Independence Bill, just over a month ago, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) pointed out that one form of continuity could be achieved if the Colonial Development Corporation became the Commonwealth Development Corporation, so that it was able to carry on new projects in the formerly dependent territories where it had operated with such success.

We hope that out of the tremendous turmoil now taking place in Government circles we may have, as one of the new ideas coming from the new Conservative Government, a realisation of the fact that a decision on this matter is long overdue, and that Uganda will be one of the first places which is able to enjoy the expanded operations of a Commonwealth Development Corporation, based on the foundations of the work done by the Colonial Development Corporation.

Uganda needs a great deal of sympathetic economic help from this country and the developed world generally. Uganda, perhaps as much as any other part of the underdeveloped world, has seen its standard of living falling in recent years because of the drop in prices of its basic commodities. Uganda is a striking illustration of the fact that by far the most important form of economic help which developed countries can give to under-developed countries is to buy their products at stable prices. Figures taken from the World Bank Survey recently carried out in Uganda show that during the period 1952–60 the volume of exports from Uganda— the goods that Uganda sold to the rest of the world—doubled, but that during the same period the value of those exports dropped by about 8 per cent.

Uganda is dependent on coffee and cotton. Together, they account for nearly 90 per cent. of her exports, and one-third of her revenue. I understand that Uganda produces more coffee than Tanganyika and Kenya put together. According to the Colonial Office Digest of Statistics, coffee prices have been dropping rapidly in recent years. They were running at 278s. per cwt. in 1958, but are now down to 140s. per cwt.—a drop of about 50 per cent.

Uganda is a strong reminder to us not to forget that the average developing country earns five-sixths of its foreign exchange through trade and only one-sixth through foreign aid. I repeat; Britain should take the lead among the developed countries of the world in trying to arrive at some form of stable commodity prices. This, far more than anything else, is the basic way to provide economic aid.

But this does not mean that we do not also have an obligation to provide direct financial assistance, and particularly direct technical assistance. The Minister may have had an opportunity of studying the World Bank Survey which has recently been published. It provides some staggering figures, showing how poor Uganda is in the various forms of expertise needed for a developing country. To give one example, I understand that there is today only one trained African electrical engineer in Uganda.

The Minister mentioned that the educational development in Uganda bore favourable comparison with educational development in any other African territory. If that is so, it does not say a very great deal for what is happening in other African territories. The World Bank Survey says that only 1 per cent. of the 14 to 17 age group in Uganda enjoys any form of secondary education at all. Professor Arthur Lewis, the leading expert in this field, has laid down that the minimum for a developing country in secondary education should be 4 per cent. of that age group. That 1 per cent. is a very generous estimate, and includes everybody who could possibly be included in secondary schools.

The World Bank Survey also says that there were in 1961 only 40 African graduate teachers in a population of 6½ million. In 1959 out of 246 rural grant-aided schools all but 28 of the teachers there were expatriate teachers. Here is a legacy of educational poverty which demands continued help from us on a very generous scale of assistance indeed. The World Bank team has done its usual competent job on development planning in Uganda, and has produced a draft five-year development plan. This would involve altogether development expenditure of about £34 million, and the World Bank says that about half of this can be produced from local resources, which is reasonably good, and is in many ways a tribute to the work that has gone on while Uganda has been the responsibility of the Colonial Office.

The Report goes on to say that there will be a gap, which will need to be met from foreign sources, of between £9½ million and £15½ million. It will be £9½ million if the United Kingdom completely fulfils all its terminal obligations to Uganda, and gives aid of about £9½ million. It will rise to about £13½ million if the United Kingdom gives aid on a minimum scale of only £5½ million. I hope that we shall get some information from the Minister, before the debate ends, on the scale of the financial help which we are to give to Uganda, and if we are to play our part in helping to achieve the target laid down by the World Bank.

In conclusion, I want to mention one institution in Uganda which particularly interests me, and which, I think, is an outstanding creation of the period of colonial rule there. I refer to Makerere College, Which I hope will soon be one of the principal parts of a new university of East Africa. Makerere has the largest library in East Africa—over 100,000 books and pamphlets.

I mention Makerere not only because I hope that we shall give all the encouragement we can to continuing development there, but because it is at present a training ground for a large number of young British and American graduates, who have gone straight out there from university to take their teacher training and to go on to commit themselves to spending the first year or two of their professional lives as teachers, giving the educational help which is so badly needed in that part of Africa. Makerere seems to be in many ways setting an example of the kind of mutual help which we ought to be developing between the advanced countries and the emerging countries of the world.

I think that Uganda can take that fact that there are these young people out there at the start of their lives as a sign of the keen sense that exists in this country and in America that the ending of a dependent colonial empire and its replacement by an independent Commonwealth does not mean that our sense of obligation to these countries will in any way be diminished. I hope that Her Majesty's Government, in giving assistance of various sorts to Uganda, will live up to the spirit that is being shown today by these young graduates at Makerere College.

4.4 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)

I should like to add my voice to those from both sides of the House in expressing a welcome to Uganda as an independent member of the Commonwealth. If I have one or two criticisms to make, it is not in any way because I feel that this independence is not deserved, or should nave been delayed, but rather that I believe that Her Majesty's Government should have been able to solve these problems before now, and before we were presented with this Bill, which gives Uganda its independence.

On a number of occasions in the House, I have made the point that it is very easy to give independence to a colonial territory, but it is not so easy to ensure that the country will be able to stand on its own feet when it becomes independent, and will face the stress and strains which we know so well await in the world of the 1960s. It has been said by those wiser than I that there are certain criteria to be fulfilled before a country can become independent, and five have been suggested. They are: there should be a national Government acceptable to the people; there should be a common loyalty and an ability to live as one nation; there should be economic self reliance and an expanding economy; there should be an efficient indigenous, and, if necessary, expatriate Civil Service; and, finally, there should be a true development of education producing an informed electorate, as well as national leaders.

I should like to apply these criteria to the country whose independence we are debating today. The first and most important is a national Government, acceptable to the people, and a common loyalty. Uganda has been bedevilled for many years by two important constitutional disputes. The first concerns the position of Buganda, which is the largest and most powerful tribal area in the country, and the second is that of the lost counties. I should like to discuss these two problems separately.

In the post-war world, we have had trouble in Buganda in one form or another in 1945, in 1949 and in 1953. This was ended by the 1955 agreement, in which the Kabaka returned to his country as a constitutional monarch. In spite of the agreement, two years later, Buganda boycotted the national Legislature from 1958 to 1961. In 1961, registration took place for a general election, but in Buganda, out of 700,000 people who could have registered, only 35,000 actually did so and considerably fewer actually voted

We may say that this is because of their loyalty to the Kabaka and his Government, or it may have been due to intimidation, but, as a result, the Democratic Party won 20 seats in Buganda with a very small number of votes and 24 seats outside Buganda. The other national party, the Uganda People's Congress, won no seats in Buganda and carried 35 seats outside, and the result was that the Democratic Party became the elected Government and its leader, Mr. Benedicto Kiwanuka became the first Prime Minister in the history of Uganda.

We come now to the 1961 constitutional conference, at which it was agreed that Buganda could have the alternative of making direct or indirect elections of its representatives to the central Government. That, straight away, put Buganda in a position of controlling the central Government. That is what was forecast by the Government delegation, and I would remind the House that the Chief Minister at the time, in Cmnd. 1523, which is the Report of the Uganda Constitutional Conference, 1961, recorded his emphatic dissent from the proposal that Buganda should be allowed to have indirect elections to the central Government. He objected particularly, in paragraph 87, to … the Secretary of State's intention that this law, made by the Uganda legislature, should be abrogated by an Order in Council without reference to the people of Uganda. He considered that this would be tantamount to disenfranchising the electors in the Buganda constituencies. After that constitutional conference, the Kabaka-Yekka, the Kabaka's party, was formed, and at the recent general election in 1962, we find that the U.P.C. won 37 seats, which was two more than previously, and that the Democratic Party won 22 seats, which were two less than previously, all outside Buganda and Kabaka-Yekka won all 21 seats in Buganda. Now, we have the position which Kiwanuka feared would arise, at the time of the constitutional conference, that one party, which is the only party allowed in Buganda, holds the balance in the central Government.

This could be dangerous. I will put it no higher than that I believe that I shall receive the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House in saying that we rely on the good sense of the present Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to find a way round these very great difficulties in which we have left the central Government.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon., North)

Can the hon. Member explain what he means by saying that only one party can take part in the elections?

Mr. Wall

If the hon. Gentleman has been to Buganda he will realise that what the Kabaka says goes. There was considerable intimidation, as I implied earlier, in 1961, and it was virtually impossible for the other panties to register or be elected at the last general election.

Mr. Thorpe

That is not true. It is completely untrue.

Mr. Wall

The hon. Gentleman and I may disagree, but the people of Buganda and the people of Uganda know that it is the truth. Members of the U.P.C. and of the Democratic Party know that it is true. One of the points which the hon. Gentleman forgets when he talks about Africa is the extent of the intimidation which has existed and which still exists.

Mr. Thorpe

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A grave charge has been made against a country, namely, that political parties are not allowed. This is factually incorrect and I call on the hon. Member to withdraw.

Mr. Speaker

If it factually incorrect, that characteristic cannot raise a point of order.

Mr. Wall

To correct any possible mis-impression which I may have given to the House, may I say again that I believe there was considerable intimidation in Buganda in 1961, and again in 1962, which prevented either the U.P.C. or the Democratic Party from registering voters or of voting for members of those two parties in those elections. In the years since the war or, rather, in the years since the Kabaka returned to his country, the whole history of Buganda shows that the nominees of himself or his Prime Minister have carried the day. That is largely because of the intimidation which they are prepared to use.

I wish to go on to the second point, the recovery of the lost counties. This dispute started in the last century, or at the 1900 agreement, and is still a live issue, after over sixty years. So it is a matter of considerable importance to the people of that country. In 1961, the Munster Report said, about this dispute: While feelings remain as they are at the present, the dispute is likely to make it impossible for Buganda and Bunyoro to co-exist amicably. In the next paragraph the Report states: There is also a distinct danger that the dispute over the 'lost counties' might become a casus belli involving other parts of Uganda. Those are serious warnings from a well-informed Commission which went on to recommend a referendum to settle the problem.

In 1961, came the constitutional conference, when the Kabaka rejected the idea of a referendum. The Secretary of State suggested a Commission of Privy Councillors and the Bunyoro representatives walked out. One can, therefore, appreciate the difficulty of the task of trying to get an agreement. However, the Secretary of State, rightly, carried on, and appointed his Commission of Privy Councillors. I should like to quote from the Report of this Commission, which stated: We must again emphasise the dangers of the present situation and the possibility referred to by the Monster Commission of civil war…. Civil strife would gradually develop into civil war, which would not be confined to the disputants if the Bunyoro succeeded in enlisting the support of neighbouring tribes. On 16th June of this year, as a result of the Report, The Times had this to say: Bunyoro, however, has sympathisers and the Buganda are sometimes unpopular, and the Privy Councillors reported that the quarrel should be resolved before independence lest there should be bloodshed afterwards. Can that advice be set aside? When we study the Report of the 1962 constitutional conference we find that the advice was, indeed, set aside. There is to be no transfer of the territories. Administration of the counties is to be taken on by the central Government. That is perhaps a reasonable compromise, but the Report goes on to say that after not less than two years from the date of transfer the National Assembly will decide on the date for a referendum. In other words, we are washing our hands of the problem until after independence—a problem that two Commissions have already said could lead to civil war.

I believe that we are right in creating a federal set-up for Uganda. But I believe that because of expediency and a desire to cut our commitments, we are leaving a position where one part of the federation holds the balance—and perhaps may prove predominant—in the central Government. We are also leaving a dispute which has been simmering for sixty years and could break out after independence. I beg my hon. Friend to listen to the appeals made from both sides of the House to fix a definite date for this referendum. If he does not do so, I think it is extremely doubtful whether the referendum will ever take place.

I suggest that the precedent which we are creating is a dangerous one. We have left the most powerful tribe in Uganda in a strong position to bid for power over the whole country. Whether they will do so, history will show, but they are being left in a very strong position. Will that be the precedent for Kenya? Shall we leave the most powerful tribe there, Jomo Kenyatta's Kikuyu, in the same position? Or shall we ensure that the difficult federal, regional and tribal problems are settled before independence? If they are not, we may have more than a civil war on our hands.

I wish to move from constitutional issues and to mention one or two other matters. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) underlined the importance of the economic help to be given to newly independent countries. We know that Uganda has a £54.2 million five-year plan. My figures may not quite agree with those quoted by the hon. Member, but I understand that this country has promised £10 million up to 1964 towards financing that plan. About £2 million is being obtained from other international sources and the rest will be raised in East Africa. This, it would seem, will place a heavy burden on the finances of Uganda and I hope that the Minister will be able to give more details about the financial help which Uganda will need and which, I am sure, hon. Members will agree that we have a responsibility to give.

This is particularly so in view of the fact that 1961 was an extremely bad year for the country because of the weather. The cotton yield was the lowest for fourteen years. The coffee crop has been poor. Not only that, but coffee has had low world prices and the Uganda export quota under the International Coffee Agreement has been reduced. Again, because of the weather, copper, the third of the most important exports, is down by £750,000 in value, compared with other years. Therefore, Uganda had a rather bad year in 1961 and I hope that we shall be as generous as possible.

To look on the bright side, there is the new steel mill which is to be ready this year. There is also a new fertiliser factory and the Owen Falls Dam is undoubtedly paying enormous dividends and Will provide cheap power not only for Uganda, but also for Kenya. This seems the time to bring out the point that the economic future of Uganda is bound up with that of her neighbours. She is already supplying electricity to Kenya. She depends on one railway line, one road and one port, Mombassa. From an economic point of view the only thing which makes sense is a federation of the four territories of East Africa. That must be decided by the people on the spot, rather than by this House of Commons. I hope that both sides of the House will join in saying that we hope the leaders of these countries, as they assume responsibility for their own affairs, will give even more serious consideration to an economic federation than they have given in the past.

I wish to ask the Minister about the Civil Service. It is vital, particularly during the transitional period between dependence and independence. What is the present position in regard to expatriates? In Tanganyika, 75 per cent. of the civil servants have stayed on after independence but since then the picture has not been such a happy one. Many civil servants have left and the repercussions on Uganda and Kenya are bound to be serious. Can my right hon. Friend say what the future looks like for expatriates, both those who are designated and those who were recruited locally?

My hon. Friend stressed the importance of education. In 1960, 18.5 per cent. of the total income of the country was spent on education. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will welcome the honour recently paid to the rector of Makerere University, Sir Bernard de Bunsen. The work of the missionaries has also been stressed. Much of this educational progress has been due to missionaries of all Christian denominations who have helped Uganda to move from the old world of tribalism and witchcraft into the new world of the 1960s.

Uganda is a rich country full of happy people. I think that in Buganda she has some of the most skilled negotiators in the world. I am very sorry that we in this country have not been able to solve all the problems associated with the constitutional advance of Uganda before giving her full independence. In spite of that, we have done a good job in that country. We all wish her well and hope that perhaps she may be one of the few African countries which will prove that a Parliamentary democracy can be maintained on the pattern which we in Westminster know, by having both a Government and an Opposition. It looks as though she is setting forth on the path of Western Parliamentary democracy and we all wish her well.

4.22 p.m.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

I do not wish to follow the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) in detail into the question of controversy between the different sections in Uganda. In general, I Chink that the Government have been right to give independence even though these problems are not yet solved. It is the same decision as had to be made in India. There were differences of opinion there between one section and another, but the Government decided that the country should be given independence even if it meant that India would be divided into two parts. The right idea is to give freedom and let people there build on it.

Mr. Wall

That might be a dangerous parallel. Although I agree that we should give independence to Uganda, we should remember that in the case of India it led to over 1 million deaths. We do not want to see that in Uganda.

Mr. Dugdale

We do not want to see that, but we also do not want to see countries held in subjection because they have not solved all their problems. That would be a wrong principle. It is not the principle which the Government are pursuing. I think that the Government are right in the action they are taking and I welcome the Bill.

It is now between sixty and seventy years since it was announced at Westminster that there should be a British protectorate over Uganda. Those years have seen very considerable success, much greater success than we have seen in some other countries which we have controlled. First, there is a greater degree of prosperity in Uganda than in most countries of East Africa and in many other African countries. Secondly, there is no race prejudice there.

I remember, when I went out there in 1950, on behalf of the Government, the difference I found between Kenya and Uganda. I remember what a joy it was to go to Uganda and leave behind all the race prejudice which existed in Kenya at that time—I do not say it is there now—and to go to Uganda, where there was no race prejudice. The principal reason was that it was rightly decided at that time that there should be no white land ownership in Uganda. There could have been exactly the same position as there was in Kenya, but that decision was taken. I think that it was rightly taken. The Under Secretary himself spoke of the fact that there is no land hunger in Uganda. One reason is that the land belongs to the Africans and there has mot been a large section given to the white population. I think that that was wise.

As others have done, I wish to pay tribute to the work of the civil servants who have made such a success of their task while we have been in control of Uganda. It is because of their work that Uganda is in the state of prosperity it enjoys today. We owe a debt of gratitude to them. I hope that they will be treated as well as possible both by this Government and by the new Uganda Government and that they will not fail between two stools in the way in which many civil servants have done in such circumstances in the past.

I wish to refer, again, to the prosperity which exists in Uganda. In spite of the fact that there are no British farmers there, much of the land is very well farmed, having regard to the limited tools and skills which the people have. It is well terraced and well looked after, and generally it is fertile land, very much more so than in Tanganyika and other parts of East Africa. As hon. Members have said, the country depends basically on two main crops. That is always a very serious thing in the economy of any country, and I hope that we shall be able to introduce some kind of system by which their prices can be stabilised. That was done with considerable success in Ghana when that country was the Gold Coast and it has been carried on in other countries by bulk purchase and the levelling of prices through a commodity board. I hope these things can be done and continued in Uganda.

Mr. H. Fraser

The problem is how to stabilise commodity prices on a falling market. I must point out that in Ghana the matter was comparatively simple. It was a question of giving stabilised prices on a rising market and money was put into the "kitty".

Mr. Dugdale

That was because the decision was taken at the right moment, when prices were rising. Obviously, it would be much more difficult to do it now in Uganda. The moment to choose is when prices are high rather than when they are low.

In spite of all the prosperity we have given to Uganda she has achieved independence only after a struggle, as has been the case in all countries of the Commonwealth. The first time I went to Uganda I went as a representative of Her Majesty's Government, and was escorted by police. The second time I went I was also escorted by the police. This time it was not to protect me, but to see that I did no wrong, because I was there at the invitation of some of the people of Uganda and it was quite a different visit. Some of the people I visited were at that time in prison. They have now come out of prison and are occupying positions in the Legislative Assembly. That is an excellent thing and it is in keeping with the best traditions of modern British colonial rule.

One person whom I visited in particular, Mr. Mulira, was in prison then. I understand that he is now a representative of the Legislative Assembly on the African Common Services Organisation where, I am sure, he will be able to do very good work. Even when he was in prison I had an example of the kind of methods by which Britain carries on. I visited the Governor and took with me the wife of this gentleman. She said that she ought not to go to see the Governor because her husband was in prison, and she would stay in the car. I mentioned to the Governor that I had someone waiting for me in the car and he asked who it was. I told him and he said, "Oh, it's Rebecca. I must see her at once."

That is an extraordinary sort of thing to happen in any Colony, and I do not think that it happens in many Colonies other than our own. Mr. Mulira is, as I have said, now a representative on the African Common Services Organisation.

I very much welcome Clause 4, which appears to me to give wide powers to help that organisation. It is a good thing that that can be done, and may possibly make up for the fact that the C.D.C. cannot help countries which are free. I hope that this problem will be overcome before long, because I think that later —not in connection with this Bill—there may be some proposals to make it a Commonwealth and not a Colonial Development Council. C.D.C. has done considerable work in Uganda. It has helped in the Kalinde copper mines to great benefit, and it should be of even more benefit if permitted to help.

The Minister also mentioned the Uganda Development Corporation—a very good form of public enterprise— which we on this side of the House like very much, and I am glad that some hon. Members opposite also like it. It has been responsible for many activities, including the production of cement and the processing of fish, both of which have been done with considerable success. Uganda again has great resources in power and the Government scheme of the Owen Falls dam has been developed by the Government and could not have been developed otherwise. I am glad to know that industries are being started near it on a wide scale.

How can we contribute to all this? In the first place, presumably we can give money, and I hope that we shall do so through every possible channel in order to provide the capital needed to develop these schemes. We can also provide technicians, and I hope that we shall send there men with the skill to run some of these schemes.

That brings me to consider the question of education. It is undoubtedly true that while the Africans are better educated in Uganda than in many other parts of Africa, the level of higher education cannot possibly be called high and should be very much higher. I pay my tribute to Makerere, but it deals with only a very small number of students, and I hope that we shall continue to help, particularly through the Commonwealth education schemes which are now developing, in teacher-training and scholarships. I hope that in this way we shall help Uganda to develop her education service still further. In the past, much of the education has come from the missionaries, and I pay tribute to the missionaries of all religions for the fine work which they have done in education. But we cannot depend on them indefinitely, and they must be helped if we are to have a modern system of education there. I hope that that will be done.

Uganda is a country with very great charm—a charm which is felt by everyone who goes there. I would say that it has more charm than many other countries in Africa. Sir Andrew Cohen described vividly his feeling when, sitting in New York, with all the skyscrapers around him, of longing to be back in Uganda with all its beauty. Many of us have had that feeling. I once met a teacher who was arriving in Uganda by aeroplane and said to her, "Are you not sorry to leave England?" She replied, "Not at all. I fed that I am coming back home to Uganda". She was a British teacher, but she was glad to get back to Uganda because she liked it so much. Whatever our feelings may be about the lost counties and any other disputes which have occurred, all of us join in saying to the people of Uganda, "We give you freedom. May you live in prosperity and 'peace".

4.35 p.m.

Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I am very pleased to have the opportunity of taking part in the debate, especially as I have presented a Petition to the House about one aspect of the Bill. We have had two able speeches, giving a great deal of detail, by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), so I do not intend to go into as much detail as they did, but will make one or two points in particular.

The history of this territory is fascinating. A series of tribal states have come together, mostly in agreement with Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and now they are forming a country which is to acknowledge the present Queen, and is to become an independent country within the Commonwealth. More than any other territory in Africa, there has been documented history of Uganda. Many books have been written, and tremendous interest has been shown in the territory. Going back to the days of Speke, there was discovered a very highly civilised Kingdom of Buganda and also the rather larger Kingdom of Bunyoro. The fact that today we are able to bring these together with the other kingdoms shows bow far there has been careful consideration and hard work between all the peoples, to make this possible.

I should like to pay tribute to the Christian missions, all of which have done outstanding work in this territory, probably more than has been done in any other territory of Africa. At one time education was left entirely to the missions. They have fulfilled a very great rôle, and I hope that they will be allowed to go on working in an atmosphere of peace.

I also pay tribute to the voluntary workers, having been connected with voluntary work in Uganda, particularly work for the blind. I think that Uganda was the first State to undertake work in this way through realising that the blind were human beings, working out schemes for earning their living. I sincerely hope that this work will continue.

In this territory the work done by women has been far more advanced than elsewhere. Women's clubs have played an important part in the education of older women, and young children in the informal manner. I have toad pleasure in visiting them, and I know the part which they have played in placing the education of the older women on a firm basis. I join the hon. Member for Dundee, East in praising the work of Makerere College, and I hope that in the future this College will keep its doors open to other students within Africa. One of the great pleasures of going to this college, where I have on more than one occasion addressed the students, is to find that the students are integrated there and that one can see people from Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Kenya. I hope that this practice will continue after independence.

While in no way opposing the Bill, I should like certain safeguards to be placed in At, following the Petition which I have presented on behalf of the people of Bangamazzi and Buyaga. In Clause 1 (2) line 17, it is made quite clear that no action can be taken by this country about the future affairs of Uganda after October, 1962. I feel that before we agree to the Bill in its present form we should make some further recommendations. It is essential that action is taken prior to full independence to do justice to the people of Buyaga and Banganazzi. This was mentioned in the Munster Report and the Molson Report, which have been quoted by my hon. Friends. I agree with the recommendation of the Molson Committee, and I should like to see some action taken in the Bill. The Molson recommendations for independence should be implemented at once or Her Majesty's Government should give full and cogent reasons for refusing to implement those recommendations. We in the House are entitled to have some reasons why they are not being implemented.

Otherwise, they should have a referendum at once while the British are there, and not, as it is stated at present, mot earlier than three years after independence. Alternatively, a date should be written into the Independence Bill and, if the referendum does not take place by that date, the peoples should have the right of appeal to the Privy Council, as paragraph 34 of Cmnd. 1778 says that there is to be a right of appeal direct to the Privy Council. These people must have their future safeguarded, and I hope that these points will be considered by the Government.

I further hope that, if it is considered that a referendum should take place, either before or after independence, the roll of voters to be used for the referendum will be that used in the general election held in the two counties in March, 1962. It would be fairer to use this roll, as we know that it is a fully compiled roll and therefore cannot be altered.

Paragraph 89 of the Molson Report says: It strikes us as being most significant that while Banyoro on both sides of the boundary were prepared to acquiesce under protest in the 1900 settlement while British Administration was still firmly in the saddle, the course of events since 1955 has shown clearly that they are not prepared to tolerate the present situation after independence. There were three very able men on the Molson Commission. They were sent to the lost counties for the purpose of finding what the people of the Territories thought. They put this, in their Report, and it is something of which we should take special note. The paragraph continues: Even during the later stages of the British, Protectorate it has been necessary for the Governor to ask the Katikiro of Bunyoro to make an appeal for order in the sazas, which he did with success … We will go so far as to say that after the withdrawal of British Administration, it will be an impossible task for the Buganda Government to maintain law and order in Buyaga. Paragraph 90 contains these words: It is vain to hope that any improvement in social or economic services, or even a generous measure of internal self-government within Buganda, will mollify emotions so strongly felt. We know that national emotions are very high all over the world. There is a fear that these people, because of their national emotions, may find their outlet in some form of civil war, as has been said by one or two hon. Members.

It is very unwise of the Government to wash their hands in this very important matter. The Government are saying, "All right. You can have this referendum, but not when we are there to safeguard the position". There is, moreover, no certainty that the referendum will ever be held. Therefore, it is our task in the House to ensure that some Amendment is made to the Bill to try to safeguard the position.

Paragraph 157 of Cmnd. 1523 says: Bunyoro claims that historically a wide area in the western part of Buganda, comprising six counties, formed part of Bunyoro. that a large proportion of the population of the area are Banyoro, and that under Buganda's rule this section of the population has suffered discrimination. The area in question forms part of the territory of Buganda under the terms of the 1900 Uganda Agreement. There were six counties, and all that is in dispute now are the two counties, so there has been a very generous settlement on behalf of the Banyoro. Therefore, I suggest that we should ensure that their rights are entirely safeguarded in regard to the two counties under discussion.

Paragraph 158 says: The Munstar Commission emphasised the danger that other parts of Uganda might become involved in this long-standing dispute, and even foresaw that it might lead to civil war. The Munster Commission was looking at this matter only as a sideline; it was not its main object. Following this I presume that the Government were so worried that they agreed to send out another Commission made up of two Privy Councillors.

Paragraph 159 of Cmnd Paper 1523 says: The Secretary of State discussed the problem with His Highness The Kabaka of Buganda and R.A. The Omukama of Bunyoro. The Kabaka was unable to agree that a referendum should be held. If he was unable to agree then, what will be the pressure put upon the Government later not to have a referendum in the future?

The paragraph continues: The Secretary of State therefore suggested to the Conference that he should invite the Prime Minister to appoint a Commission of Privy Councillors to investigate the present position and to submit recommendations. We have had the Commission. Surely we sent it out because we could not get agreement before? We sent it to try to get some definite recommendations. We have now got the definite recommendations but we are ignoring them. It was useless to send out the Molson Commission if it was not the Government's intention to follow its recommendations. Therefore, in welcoming the Bill, I hope that we shall see that justice is done to some people who obviously the Government must have been worried about after the original conference, otherwise they would not have sent out the second Commission. I hope that ways will be found to write into the Bill some safeguards or, if for some technical reason this cannot be done—my hon. Friend may tell me that it is not practical—that some agreement will be drawn up between the parties concerned before independence inserting a definite date for the referendum, so that, if that date is not adhered to, they can under the Constitution have the right of appeal to the Privy Council. I hope that ways will be found to protect these people of the lost counties. It would be not only for their benefit but I feel that in future we shall be very sorry if there is trouble there, because I think that we have been very weak on this occasion and not provided the proper safeguards for the people concerned.

After saying this, I should like to wish Mr. Obote and his Government every success in the coming years. We shall look forward to further co-operation between this country and Uganda and also between the four territories, Uganda, Tanganyika, Kenya and Zanzibar, I hope that these counties will form a very happy unit in the future.

4.48 p.m.

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)

I want to make only one or two remarks in support of the comments which have been made by my hon. Friends the Members for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) and Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers). Up to very recently it was commonly accepted in all parts of the House that the greatest danger to emerge in Africa was fragmentation and Balkanisation of the various countries. There were two ideas current at that time as to how the problem could best be coped with. Her Majesty's Government until comparatively recently leaned towards the view that the best way to prevent fragmentation was to pressurise the maximum degree of centralisation on the countries concerned and to resist, as far as possible, any tendencies towards tribalism or federalism appearing in the constitutions.

It is now fair to say that there has been a change of understanding about this problem, one aspect of which has been manifested in the case of Uganda. Only a few years ago this Government on the advice of those on the spot were strongly recommending a strong central unitary form of Government for Uganda as being the only one which could possibly suit the country. Now we hear precisely the apposite, but I am glad that it is thought that a federal form of Government is best for that territory. I hope therefore, that when the other remaining African countries, such as Kenya, have their constitutional future considered we shall not again have to learn the painful lessons we have learned in Uganda.

The best way to prevent balkanisation in Africa, where tribalism is a reality, is to give to the various racial and tribal groupings—which had loyalties long before the colonial Powers appeared on the scene 60 or 70 years ago—sufficient grounds for believing that if they joined a central Government their own ways of life would be perpetuated, and that those groupings would not be under pressure to accept something they did not want. We are getting to the paradoxical position in East Africa that the more we allow federalism to develop the less chance there is of fragmentation taking place.

In the context of my earlier remarks, Toro is a magnificent tribute to what can be done if there is good sense on all sides, an understanding that economics demand some form of central authority and, at the same time, that one cannot ride roughshod over strong feelings which, Whatever we may feel about them, do exist in the smaller African areas. For instance, were we not to permit a degree of autonomy to Toro and the other kingdoms, there would not be a chance of a united Uganda emerging to independence in October.

I support what has been said by my two hon. Friends about Bunyoro. Some of us may regret that the Molson recommendations were not implemented, but I am realistic enough to appreciate that the day has passed when we could get a total reversal. Nevertheless, I cannot think why, if there is good faith, as I am sure there must be, on the part of Mr. Obote and the central Government, the suggestion made by my hon. Friends and myself that there should be a maximum time limit as well as a minimum one should not prove acceptable.

Unless it is proposed to delay indefinitely, there is no possible reason —or, if there is, I do not know what it is, and I hope that my hon. Friend will enlighten me—why a period of years cannot be fixed. I have no quarrel with the declaration of a minimum of two years—it is probably a good idea to let things quieten down for a time—but a period of not more than three years may prove too short.

I am interested to discover whether my hon. Friend will tell me that he will insert in the Declaration an amendment making the maximum period four years, or even five. If I hear that, I shall be content, as, I believe, will be the people of Bunyoro. I do not see any great risk of constitutional difficulties preventing that being done. As I said when I started, if there is a real determination to have a plebiscite in a given period, what possible objection can there be to showing good faith to the world by putting in a maximum as well as a minimum period?

4.54 p.m.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

I must apologise for coming in for this debate so late, but I was delayed by public duties elsewhere. I shall speak only briefly, but I can hardly let this debate pass without saying a few words, as I have taken a great interest in Uganda over a very long time, and on more than one occasion have raised matters affecting it in this House.

We all wish Uganda well, of course, though we all anticipate that it will not be one of the easiest countries to govern. Those who have taken an interest in Uganda's affairs over a period of years, recognise that there one has in a very acute form divisions caused by both tribal and religious differences, and one can only hope that the good sense and resilience of the people will be sufficient to see that the ship of state keeps afloat.

I wish that there had been a rather longer period of internal self-government before complete independence was granted. It is regrettable, though understandable, that, because other countries in East Africa were gaining independence, like Tanganyika, one should have speeded up in Uganda the process towards independence to such a pace. Obviously, we all desire independence, but to have internal self-government in March and complete independence in October causes me some doubts.

There has always been the argument —we have had it in certain other territories, and we may have it again in, for example, British Guiana—that if the point of complete independence is not reached, those persons concerned in the government of the territory will not bring themselves to face realities, but will all the time be prepared to put some responsibility on Her Majesty's Government. I recognise the force of that argument, but March to October seems a very short period in which to put the full strain of responsibility of independence on persons who have had so little experience in the art of government.

That is no derogation whatever of the ability of those concerned—I have great respect for Mr. Obote and his colleagues —but government is not so simple as all that, and some experience of it would have been advantageous. However, that is now history. It is not often that we on this side complain of the Government being in too much of a hurry, but I think that in this case they have been.

I raised the very difficult and distressing problem of the dispute between Buganda and Bunyoro a number of years ago in the House. At that time one had the usual Government stalling —that nothing really could be done; that the time was not opportune, and all the other clichés one gets when raising such matters. As a result, that problem has been left as a very awkward legacy for the now Government. It has not been dealt with but, given more resolution and foresight on the part of Her Majesty's Government, it could have been dealt with in the past.

It is monstrous to have two Commissions and then to leave things as they are. I should have thought that the import of the Molson Commission's Report was definite and sensible. The Commission made a very careful study on the spot. It is quite right, as the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport said, that the Munster Commission had other matters to consider and that this particular dispute was only one part of the study it had to make, but the Molson Commission had only that as its terms of reference, and I find it very difficult to appreciate why Her Majesty's Government would not take a somewhat stronger line. One can recognise that it will be very difficult for Mr. Obote supported, as he is, by the Kabaka's party to do other than take the view of Buganda on this but, as things are, we shuffle off the responsibility for sorting this matter out.

I would assume that the Government's reason for not proposing to insert a final date for the referendum, but only a date before which it shall not be held, is that they have some notion that the two counties should remain in perpetuity in charge of the central Government. If one is to have a date I should have thought that it would have been better to have it sooner rather than later, otherwise the people concerned will be left in a state of uncertainty, with the possibility of undesirable propaganda and intrigue occurring.

A limit of three, four or even five years has been suggested, but to adopt that would be unwise. If a decision is to be arrived at, the sooner the date the better, unless one is really aiming at having the two territories not included in either kingdom but having them remain as a sort of "Danzig corridor" indefinitely. I do not desire to make matters difficult by commenting further. I think that the people of Bunyoro have had a raw deal in this matter. As the weaker territory, they could have looked for greater support from Her Majesty's Government and we, the British Government, are failing to accept our responsibilities for something which does not go back to the mists of history, but only to the time when British rule was first established in Uganda.

We were parties, in the first instance, to this division. It is for that reason that we have a definite moral responsibility to see that the matter is sorted out before we give up any sort of trusteeship. I am deeply disappointed at the way this has turned out. I do not entirely blame the former Colonial Secretary for what has happened in the most recent negotiations, but I do blame the Administration in general for not having grasped this nettle more firmly earlier. We cannot now put right that omission of duty, but it would not be right if this Bill were passed without an expression of regret that this was not done.

5.2 p.m.

Mr. H. Fraser

I find on these occasions of independence that two of my most formidable critics are the two hon. Ladies the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers). Before dealing with the wider questions that have been asked I will dwell on the matter of the dispute about the two counties.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) elaborated the case, which was further elaborated by other hon. Members, that this was a dereliction of duty on the part of Her Majesty's Government. They stated that we should have forced acceptance by the people of Uganda of the recommendations of the Molson Report. What stood out clearly from the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee, East, and from the Conference, was that neither Uganda nor Bunyoro was satisfied with our decision.

Hon. Members have spoken of indecision on the part of the Government in this matter. If hon. Members really study the question they will see that a decision has been taken to take these two counties away and to put them under a neutral administration, the administration of the central Government. This decision was not well received by the Bunyoro delegation. It was equally ill received by the Buganda delegation and there has had to be a sacrifice by both sides.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East talked of a Kashmir situation developing, but it is precisely to avoid such a situation arising that we have taken the two counties away from the two participants in the dispute and have put them under the control of the central Government. The hon. Member for Devonport suggested that in the Constitution a minimum or maximum period before which there must be a referendum should have been laid down. I would make two points on this matter. First, paragraph 98 of Lord Molson's Report states that the idea of having a referendum within a short while is not practicable on security grounds. Secondly, when a country goes independent it really does go independent. Independence means independence and decisions as to when things like referendums should be held must be taken by the Government concerned.

The person or body to "carry the can" and to deal with this problem is the central independent Government of Uganda. I am sorry if I appear to be getting slightly vexed over this, but occasionally the tone of some hon. Members' speeches seems to suggest that when a country goes independent we still have some residual responsibility by which we can exercise control. That is not what independence means.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

The hon. Gentleman is saying with some heat that decisions as to when a referendum shall or shall not be held must be left to the independent Government concerned. In this case, however, Her Majesty's Government are a party to the referendum on the question of when it shall not be held. Why should not the Government be an equal party, before surrendering their responsibilities, and create a time limit at the other end?

Mr. Fraser

Because it is clear that if a referendum cannot be held now the time when it shall be held must be the decision of the central Government of Uganda. This is clear and necessary. It is the central Government which must deal with these matters. It is those who are responsible for running an independent territory who must decide on these matters. In fact, we have laid it down that when the central Assembly so decides, a referendum shall be held. I do not think that it is possible to ask Her Majesty's Government or the central Government of Uganda to go further at this stage, and on this I have the full support of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale).

Mr. Norman Pannell (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

Is it a fact that Her Majesty's Government have stipulated that a referendum shall not take place within two years?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, but this has been stipulated with the agreement of the central Government and also on the ground that it would be improper and unlikely that there could be a peaceful referendum until there have been two years of orderly, independent government in these two counties.

The right hon. Member for West Bromwich and others raised the question of commodity price stabilisation. It should be remembered that at a time of falling markets this is a difficult thing to attain. Since the 1950s there have been arrangements by which the Uganda Government have put aside the money obtained from high cotton and coffee prices to meet these difficulties. But, alas, these funds are nearly exhausted. I agree that not only the British Government but Governments generally should now consider this problem. Stabilising world commodity prices is not an easy matter. It is difficult enough when prices are rising, let alone in other circumstances. It is indeed a challenge to the West to see how we can cope with this problem.

When my right hon. Friend who has just ceased to be Colonial Secretary made his first speech in that office he referred even then to this problem. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he will now be in a better position to do something about it, and equally about the points raised in connection with the C.D.C. The House must know my views on this subject. They persist.

Regarding terminal obligations, as the House knows, there was a statement last March setting out what Her Majesty's Government could do. If my memory does not fail me, it was stated that a settlement of about £14 million was agreed with the Uganda Government. We hope, too, that, after independence, a technical assistance agreement will be negotiated.

One other point was raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House— the question of the European expatriate civil servants. As hon. Members may know, a compensation scheme was introduced in March, 1962. One hon. Member referred to the adverse effect which past events in Tanganyika may have had on some of the civil servants in Uganda. Of course, such an adverse effect is to be deplored. The reports available at the end of May showed that slightly more than one-third of those concerned had given notice of their intention to retire, which, considering the problems involved, is not too bad.

I would draw the attention of the House to Mr. Obote's statement. He gave a solemn promise to all those in the service that their conditions of service would not be altered, adding that expatriates who decided to stay on would not be merely tolerated but would be most welcome. That is a statement which I know will give pleasure to the whole House.

In conclusion, I wish to apologise if I have not been able to meet my hon. Friends and the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East on the question of the lost counties. All will have been impressed by the burning pursuit of justice which is so rightly undertaken by hon. Members. Governments, alas, have to decide not on the question of expediency but on what is the course which will benefit the greatest number. I believe that had we taken the choice either of leaving matters as they were in the lost counties or of handing them over to Bunyono we should have been faced with the grave risk of civil war. Looking back at the history of Buganda, this is the one thing that we must seek to avoid.

The decision of the Secretary of State, which cannot be changed by alterations in the Bill and which met with neither the support of Bunyoro nor of Buganda, was a judgment, if not of a Solomon, then of a wise and courageous man and is, I think, the best thing we can do. We must leave it to the people of Uganda, with the good wishes of the House of Commons, to work out their own, I trust, successful, destiny.

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.