HL Deb 28 June 1922 vol 51 cc76-8

My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government how they reconcile the inclusion of mandated territories in the scope of the Empire Settlement Act with their statement that these territories do not form part of His Majesty's Dominions. I think I can best make my point clear if I read two short extracts from the OFFICIAL REPORT. The noble Duke representing the Colonial Office said, on June 21— Broadly speaking two important distinctions should be drawn between British Colonies and territory a Mandate for which is entrusted to His Majesty. First, no such territory is part of His Majesty's Dominions. Secondly, the Government exercising the mandatory authority does so on behalf of the League of Nations. I would ask your Lordships to compare that statement with the statement made by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, who introduced the Empire Settlement Bill, and who, on May 30, said— Clause 2 extends it to mandated territory or to territory under His Majesty's protection—in fact, to a Protectorate—and I think it would be a great pity if that power were withdrawn from the Government. In no ease can it or would it be exercised without the assent, and the cordial assent, of the Oversea Government concerned. There is no mention there of the League of Nations. The noble Earl continued— There are certain portions of Africa which are eminently suitable for settlement, notably, portions of what was German East Africa The position appears to be this. These territories are not part of the Empire but administered on behalf of the League of Nations, and yet the Government proposes to fill a portion of them with British settlers wider the Empire Settlement Act. I know a great many people who think that the whole mandatory system is nothing more than a solemn farce, and from these two statements I can only conclude that the Government are of the same opinion.


My Lords, the status of mandated territories was explained by me on June 21, and I do not think that that explanation is in any way inconsistent with the terms of the Empire Settlement Act. If the noble Lord will look at Section 2 of that Act he will see that it expressly recognises the fact that mandated territory does not form part of His Majesty's Dominions. Section 2 says— His Majesty may by Order in Council direct that this Act shall apply to any territory which is under His Majesty's protection, or in respect of which a mandate is being exercised by the government of any part of His Majesty's Dominions as if that territory were a part of His Majesty's Dominions, and, on the making of any such Order, this Act shall, subject to the provisions of the Order, have effect accordingly Section 2, therefore, makes it quite clear that by Order in Council mandated territory may be treated as part of His Majesty's Dominions purely for the purposes of migration or settlement schemes.

It may, of course, be desirable that it should be possible to apply certain legislation in respect of mandated territory in the same manner as in respect of His Majesty's Dominions. The noble Lord will find instances of legislation framed on this basis in the Finance Act, 1919, and the Administration of Justice Act, 1920. The reasons for the adoption of this course in the case of the Empire Settlement Act were explained very fully to the noble Lord by my noble friend the First Commissioner of Works, who conducted this Bill through the Committee stage in my absence on May 30. There; is nothing in this Act that conflicts in any way with the Covenant of the League of Nations. They have no locus standi at all in this matter. Nor is there anything that will conflict in any way with the Mandates which have been issued, or which will be issued. For instance, take German East Africa, or Tanganyika Territory as it is now called. It is mandated territory and a very strong case in which migration under the Empire Settlement Act might be most desirable and necessary.


I am afraid the answer of the noble Duke leaves me still in doubt whether these territories are His Majesty's Dominions or not.