§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now able to announce the decision which His Majesty's Government have arrived at in connection with the Colony of Kenya?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLON IES (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, I am very glad that my noble friend opposite has given me the chance of making a short statement this afternoon. I am confident your Lordships would not wish me to go in detail through the long history of this melancholy and unhappy controversy, nor would your Lordships, I think, wish me to refer at any great length to the proposals which have been placed before the country by the Government. It would be possible, of course, to analyse them fully, and I shall be only too glad, if I can, to answer any questions which may arise during the debate, but I prefer to do so at the end of the discussion rather than make a long statement at the outset.
1430 There are two or three guiding principles to which I think your Lordships' attention ought to be directed. In the first place, the issues which were raised in this controversy are not of a local character. No doubt, in connection with the various races domiciled in Kenya, there are many questions of a local character, but if the controversy had been con lined to the purely local questions I believe that those problems would have been solved long ago, and without much difficulty. Many of your Lordships who have held high and distinguished offices, not only in India but in many other portions of the Empire, will appreciate that this is a question which extends far out side the limits of any one Colony, and has considerable imperial connection and interest. I hope there is no occasion to assure your Lordships that we as a Government have given careful and prolonged consideration to the various aspects of this complicated problem. I trust your Lordships will appreciate the fact that the decisions which have now been arrived at are not those of a Department or an Office, but are the decisions of the Government as a whole.
I wish also to assure your Lordships that we do not regard the solution which we have ventured to place before your Lordships as a compromise. We did not seek to solve this question by balancing one claim against the other, and by giving concession on one point as a set off against another point, but we have steadily maintained in view one guiding principle which I hope asserts itself throughout the whole of the Report, and that is the British trusteeship of the Africans. We are there, and it is our responsibility—a responsibility which can be brought home to whatever Government may be in office through the House of Commons, or through your Lordships' House. It is to this broad and, as I believe, unassailable principle that the several points at, issue have to be related.
I am afraid the decisions which have been arrived at by the Government cannot give satisfaction to all interests concerned. Your Lordships are fully aware how strong the feeling has been on many of these questions. Conflicting claims have been pressed with considerable vehemence and I can only trust that the solution which we put forward, if accepted, will mean the opening of a brighter and happier era for the Colony. 1431 It is a matter of genuine regret that we have not been able to meet the wishes of the Government of India on several material points. Their views have been brought to our attention by deputations and also by the Secretary of State for India. We regret that we are unable to meet all their views and wishes, but we trust that in the solution we have propounded some of their fears and apprehensions will be relieved.
There is one further point to which I ought to take this opportunity of referring. Earlier in the year it became very evident that a considerable number of misunderstandings had arisen and that the only satisfactory method of dealing with them was to ask for the personal co-operation of many of the parties concerned. Accordingly I asked the Governor, Sir Robert Coryndon, to come home, and at the same time I asked the white settlers and the Indians domiciled in Kenya to send over their respective deputations. I received very valuable assistance from Sir Robert Coryndon, his knowledge and experience being of material assistance to the Government in arriving at their conclusions, I also wish to express my appreciation of the patience and moderation displayed by both deputations from Kenya. In that connection may I also express my gratitude to the deputation which came from India, and which I received on the invitation of my noble friend the Secretary of State for India? I am afraid we have delayed the return of these gentlemen to their homes for a very long period, but on a subject of such vast and far-reaching importance I felt that we had to explore every avenue before arriving at our final decision. I trust and believe that with good will and a spirit of co-operation the decisions taken will bring to all the communities domiciled in Kenya an opportunity of working together in the development of peace, order and prosperity in that Colony.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, your Lordships have listened with the deepest interest to the statement made by the noble Duke on behalf of the Government. We know now, what indeed is apparent in the nature of the case—this is a matter which is not really of a limited or local character—that this is not a Departmental 1432 decision at all but the decision of His Majesty's Government after taking into its purview the needs of the Empire at large, and trying to balance conflicting difficulties and overlappings which take place. I do not think any student of our contemporary politics can fail to marvel at the scale and variety of the duties which now devolve on the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Problems which arise in Baghdad, in Dublin, in Jerusalem and in Nairobi—and that is only a scrap of the list which can be quoted—have to be submitted to the noble Duke and his colleagues at the Colonial Office. I doubt whether any more difficult or thorny problem has arisen for a long time than the one which is dealt with in the White Paper now in your Lordships' hands. The fact that it has been dealt with so carefully, with an historic résumé and an endeavour to put the whole facts before us from the Imperial standpoint, is a matter for which we should be profoundly grateful. It affects the inhabitants of three continents, and, indirectly, many people outside those three continents.
As one who has studied this question a little I should like to congratulate His Majesty's Government, and the noble Duke in particular, upon the pronouncement which is now in our hands. It was quite impossible in a matter of this kind to arrive at any solution without, of necessity, going against opinions strong, reasoned and fairly arguable. But I think the decision which has been reached does, on the whole, steer with fairness and skill among the shoals and difficulties which surround the overlapping problems of the development of British settlement in East Africa, the susceptibility of Indians, and, above all, the care for the African natives to whom the matter is one of primary concern. I rejoice in recognising the way in which practical expression is here given to what is laid down in the famous Article of the Covenant of the League of Nations which deals with the problem of mandatory work in the world on the part of nations to whom these Mandates are committed.
The Covenant of the League of Nations states, in regard to races which are not yet fully developed, that there should be applied—The principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred 1433 trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.They are embodied in the Covenant, but we have not yet seen, we have had no opportunity of seeing, it exhibited in practical operation in different parts of the world. We have hero a case where that duty had to be taken in hand, and I rejoice that not merely has His Majesty's Government considered the needs of the native races, the African people, but that they have gone out of their way to say it, and reiterate it, in the document itself, so that it shall remain on record that what is now being attempted is something which primarily affects the people to whom the land belongs; that other people who come into it, from whatever part of the world, are, after all, immigrants, and that the real responsibility which rests upon the Government is to see that nothing shall be done that does not tend to the well-being of the African people themselves.
Nothing could be better than the following statement in the White Paper which is in your Lordships' hands:—Primarily, Kenya is an African territory, and His Majesty's Government think it necessary definitely to record their considered opinion that the interests of the African natives must be paramount, and that if, and when, those interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail. Obviously the interests of the other communities, European, Indian or Arab, must severally be safeguarded.…In the administration of Kenya His Majesty's Government regard themselves as exercising a trust on behalf of the African population, and they are unable to delegate or share this trust, the object of which may be defined as the protection and advancement of the native races.I consider it to be of the highest advantage that we should have had that statement, in words which His Majesty's Government could not have bettered, in dealing with a problem of this kind.
To give effect to the principle there laid down is by no means an easy matter. It is well known to all who have studied the literature of the subject that those who have stood out as spokesmen for the British interests, if we may so call them—though I would rather describe them as the interests of the British settlers who have done so much for the development of East Africa—have again and again stated that the object which they have 1434 really cared about most is the development of the African people. I hope that is so. I am not quite sure that, if we take the exact record of that which has passed in East Africa, this would be apparent to all of us unless they had told us so in such emphatic terms. We know what has been done with regard to native labour, and the various laws which relate to it may possibly be interpreted by a good many people as having a different bearing from that which they describe to have been their aim—the well being and development of the African races—and when we look at the comparative amount of money expended on the education of these people, and in other matters, we are again a little surprised to find that those spokesmen claim that to be representatives of the well-being, progress and development of the native races is their primary consideration. But if it be so, they must be very pleased with this statement. They must feel that His Majesty's Government have done that which they themselves told us was their principal object, and that the statement is of a kind which they ought to welcome as giving effect to those wishes on their part.
As the noble Duke has already said, it is obvious that Indian opinion, which has expressed itself very forcibly on this subject, cannot be entirely satisfied with the solution which has been reached, and yet I cannot help believing that when those highly cultured and thoughtful representatives of India who have spoken on this matter look at the subject, as a whole, with this full statement which the White Paper provides in their hands, they will feel that the settlement is, after all, upon the whole not an unreasonable one in the present circumstances. I do not think they can reasonably regard themselves as aggrieved with regard to the immigration proposals which it contains, with regard to the segregation clauses, or even with regard to the question of the reservation of the highlands in certain areas which is put in such a form and leaves such an element of liberty as I think ought to satisfy their reasonable desires.
The difficulty which will arise, as I need not tell your Lordships, is with regard to the franchise and the representation which is allowed to immigrants from India. In that respect, of course, the nervous susceptibilities 1435 of the Indians have been aroused and awakened to a remarkable extent. They have declared that this is to be taken as a test case respecting the genuineness of British declarations of our desire that citizenship of the Empire should be within the reach of our Indian fellow-subjects in its fullest development. But while they have, naturally enough, expressed themselves keenly upon that point I have found, in such intercourse as I have been allowed with representatives of India, that they are not unaware of the fact that, however far-reaching their influence, however deep their knowledge, however keen their patriotism, they have not had the experience as generations have passed either in the task of government, by representation or otherwise, or even in the exercise of the franchise under a representative system which enables them readily to adapt themselves in such numbers as have immigrated to Hast Africa to such conditions as are now in prospect in that Colony. I cannot help believing that if it be necessary to retain a representative character, even indirectly, in the government of the country, the solution reached is one in which the Indian may acquiesce without loss of self-respect, even if we do not find them enthusiastically supporting it.
The position has been one of extraordinary difficulty, and the problem of the communal franchise appears equally difficult when one looks into it. My personal desire would have been to see the Government itself undertaking entire responsibility, and the representative character of our institutions being postponed for a time. That has not been felt to be possible to the extent that some of us would have desired, but in a large degree the Government has made it clear that the notion of a representative character being given to the Government of the Colony as a whole must be postponed. That being so, the Indian difficulty is considerably reduced in scale. I believe that substantial justice has been shown in that which has here been done, that the plan is a workable one—a result which I had hardly hoped to see until I read the Paper in its entirety—and that the settlement (for I decline to call it a compromise) of these difficulties among the rival schemes and the rival rights, as they undoubtedly are, which have been 1436 put forward, is one upon which we may congratulate the Government.
Everything must turn, however, upon the manner in which this scheme is going to be worked in practice. It is one thing to have on paper a scheme which seems fair, which meets various difficulties in a logical way and in a manner which cannot be fairly impugned, but it is another thing to see it carried out in practice. I have great confidence in the administrators to whom the scheme is now going to be entrusted, and I believe that with the knowledge that watchful eyes are upon the working out of this plan, both from England and from India, it will be worked fairly, as I believe it is capable of being worked. It cannot, of course, be denied, and it would be an affectation not to remember, that those who have educational, social and financial advantages in a much greater measure than many of their Indian fellow-subjects have an opportunity, if they desire to use it, of bringing to bear pressure such as is impossible to others upon governmental authority, but this will be reduced to a minimum if governmental authority will keep a watchful eye upon this matter. I, for one, am perfectly prepared to believe that the Government are taking this question up fairly and have put it into the hands of wise and just administrators. I look forward very hopefully to the issue of an extremely difficult and tangled problem.
§ LORD HARDINGE OF PENSHURST
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships, like myself, have listened with the greatest interest to the words of the most rev. Primate, and we all realise that those who are acquainted with this very difficult controversy must appreciate at their full value the efforts successfully made by the Government and particularly by the noble Duke, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to arrive at a just and equitable solution. It was inevitable that a settlement could only be arrived at by concessions on both sides, and although there has been a certain amount of breezy talk by protagonists on either side, it is to be sincerely hoped that both will now readily accept the decision of the Government and give a fair trial to their policy.
As the most rev. Primate has already stated, the one great advantage that may be regarded as the outcome of this controversy 1437 is that the fact has now been made clear that the future of Kenya is not for the white or the Indian settler but for the African native, and that the administration of Kenya is a trust and obligation for His Majesty's Government to develop Kenya in the interests of the African native. At the same time we must not forget that it is incumbent upon our administration in Kenya to deal fairly with our Indian fellow-subjects who may be established there, remembering that in 1921 the Imperial Conference declared itself in favour of the equal citizenship of Indians, and that our prestige and domination in India are not based upon force but upon British justice. The Indians are one of the few races that I have met with who understand gratitude—a very noble and unusual characteristic—and I know from experience that we have only to play fairly and squarely by them to reap our reward.
There are two points in the settlement upon which I would like to say a few words. The Government have decided to give Indians in Kenya a communal franchise instead of a general electoral roll. I fully recognise that this will be disappointing to many moderate Indians, but I do not honestly see how they can reasonably claim, in a British Protectorate under the direct administration of the Colonial Office, a system of franchise which they do not enjoy in their own country. On the other hand, their representation in the Legislative Council may be regarded as not only some compensation but a legitimate concession to the importance of their interests.
There is still the question of the highlands of Kenya. Lord Elgin, in 1908, for reasons of administration, announced various restrictions of Crown grants in the highlands to British settlers, but at the same time declared that there should be no statutory restrictions of a racial character imposed upon any community. Obviously this would apply to the transfer of land. However, in 1915, under Martial Law, the transfer of land to Indians in the highlands was prohibited by Statute, but this prohibition does not apply to aliens. Is it right or just that in a British Protectorate our own fellow-subjects should be denied a right which aliens are permitted to exercise? It seems to me all wrong, and that Indians have a legitimate grievance when aliens are 1438 granted privileges that are denied to our own Indian fellow subjects. I do not criticise the privileged position of British subjects in the, highlands of Kenya, for I know from my own experience in tropical climates that it is incumbent to provide conditions for Europeans by which their energy and health will not be impaired, but in my opinion the transfer of land should rest entirely under the control of the Administration of the Colony, and that any statutory objection to the acquisition of land in the highlands by Indians should be at once, removed from the Statute Book. There are, I imagine, very few Indians in Kenya who are agriculturists and anxious to obtain land in the highlands, and it seems to me that this is probably more a question of sentiment than one of practical utility.
§ VISCOUNT CHELMSFORD
My Lords, I wish to trespass on your time for a few moments because this matter came up during my Viceroyalty in India, and the Despatch which was sent by the Government of India at that stage really furnishes the Government of India's ease on this very difficult question. The first point that I wish to make this evening is that this is a very striking illustration of how a mailer, which in its initial stages might have been dealt with departmentally with the minimum of friction, has, from want of Haison between Government Departments, become a matter of Imperial magnitude.
The Ordinance of 1919 by the Colonial Office was never communicated to the Government of India, and they did not know of it until they heard from the Kenya Indians themselves that such an Ordinance had been published. In our Despatch we bring out clearly that this Ordinance was passed without consideration of our views and, indeed, without our knowledge. I entertain the belief, quite seriously, that if we had been consulted we might have introduced such modification in the original Ordinance as might have prevented a good deal of the friction which has arisen. For instance, take the question of segregation. We might have pointed out with great force that Indians did not want to live in the same quarters as Englishmen, but that if you are going to tell them that they are not to live there, like Englishmen, they would resent it strongly and immediately ask to be allowed to do so. 1439 There are, various other points upon which, I believe, we could have obtained modification from the Colonial Office.
Let me make it clear at the outset that India has always recognised the position of the African native in his own country, and in our Despatch, written long before the question of the African native became prominent, we said that we fully recognised the necessity of maintaining the official majority, in order to safeguard the interests of the natives. We put that in the Despatch, and while the main object of the Despatch was naturally taken up with the position of the Indians, we recognised that the African natives in their own country had to be considered first. What we did claim on behalf of India was that the views of Indians should be adequately considered, and is that really an unreasonable claim? It is an indisputable fact that if you were to debar at the present moment every Indian from Kenya, the life of the community would come to a stand-still in that Colony. They are performing indispensable services. I fancy the railways, for instance, for the main part, are run by Indian guards, and Indian clerks and engine drivers. Many of the small services of trade are performed by Indians. This is because Europeans are too expensive at the present moment, and the natives of Africa have not yet been trained.
In the second place, Indians pay a considerable portion of the taxes which are raised in Kenya. I will only take, as an instance, the municipal taxes in Nairobi, where I see that the Indians, who are not half the population, pay almost half of the municipal taxes. I may be told that all this is common ground. But is it really so? This question has been so overlaid with prejudice, and feelings have run so high, that really the elements of the case have very largely been lost sight of, and preposterous views have been put forward by the extremists on either side. And I think the general public has been, in fact, puzzled as to what they ought to believe.
Let me very briefly touch on the proposals of His Majesty's Government. Segregation, I am glad to say, has been absolutely abandoned. That was the position we took up in our Despatch, and if we had been able to modify the original 1440 Ordinance in that direction it would have largely diminished the protest which was made in India on the subject. Turning from that to immigration, I welcome with the most rev. Primate the initial sentences of the Memorandum of His Majesty's Government on that point. I think nothing could have been more admirable. But I do sincerely trust that the proposals which are going to be made on this subject of immigration will be very carefully watched by His Majesty's Government, because I am afraid that there may be a suspicion in India that the very admirable sentiments expressed in the early part of that portion of the Memorandum dealing with this subject may be whittled away by administrative action. In such case the last state would be worse than the first, and, as a country, we should incur a charge of breach of faith.
For my own part, I regard the apprehensions that have been expressed as to a great flood of immigrants going from India into Kenya as really a bugbear. I happen to have the figures of the last five years, and I find that while the immigration into Mombassa was some 17,000, the emigration from Mombassa to Bombay was some 19,000. So, as a matter of fact, in five years, 2,000 more Indians went out of Kenya than into it. And really Indians are not going to Kenya because they are going to get the franchise there. That is not the thing that will put something in their insides. They go to Kenya in response to an economic demand, and the question of economic demand will rest largely with Kenya itself. If Kenya trains its African natives to do the work, then there will be no demand for Indians. Indians go to Kenya because Kenya wants them, and because Kenya cannot get on without them. If this matter were left alone I am confident that it would solve itself through the stern logic of facts.
Now let me proceed to touch very briefly on the subject of the highlands. My noble friend Lord Hardinge has preceded me with this, and has made the few points that I wished to make. This question also, if it had been left alone, would have solved itself by the stern logic of facts, because Indians do not care to live at great heights. I am confident that if they had not been told that they were 1441 not to live in the highlands they never would have wanted to live there. Consequently, there would have been no need of anything savouring of racial discrimination. For myself, I fully recognise the pledges which have been given by His Majesty's Government at various times to the settlers on this matter, and the settlers have believed that they have received full consideration, and I have urged upon my Indian friends that they ought to appreciate the difficulties of His Majesty's Government with regard to this matter.
Another point, to which my noble friend Lord Hardinge alluded, I wish again to impress upon the noble Duke. I do think that the Indians have a just cause of complaint when they see aliens, such as Greeks and Italians, preferred to them, who are British subjects, in the matter of the highlands. That has, time and again, been brought before me as a substantial grievance, and when we are dealing very largely with a matter of racial discrimination I think we ought to be careful in a little thing like that, which shows that it is because they are coloured people and because they are Indians that they are not allowed in the highlands, though they see aliens allowed to go in.
Let me touch very briefly on the question of the franchise. I have never been able—apart, of course, from the question of racial prejudice—to see the objection to a common electoral roll. People talk about Indians dominating the electorate and dominating the Council. Do let us look at the facts of the case. It has been agreed that all the Europeans who have manhood suffrage at the present moment will retain their present franchise, and that will give them a figure of something like 7,000 votes. It is more or less agreed that the total number of Indians who might get the franchise under a common electoral roll would be ten per cent. of the total number, which would be 2,000; and, as regards future qualifications, if there was a common electoral roll a high standard of possession of property or a high standard of education would be required. If those future qualifications were introduced the vast majority of Europeans who came into Kenya, probably ninety-five per cent. would at once get the franchise. On the other hand, probably only five per cent. of the Indians would do so. It would tell directly against the 1442 Indians. In that way it is perfectly obvious that the Europeans would retain a considerable and a decisive majority under the system of a common electoral roll.
Then take the question of the Council. According to the figures that appear in the White Paper, there are to be eleven non-official Europeans and five Indians. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that you took those sixteen as the only non-official members, you then must have seventeen official members at least, who are to maintain the supremacy of the Government. In a Council of thirty-three, then, supposing the Indians were to get five seats under a common franchise, you would have five Indians, and are they going to dominate a Council of thirty-three? It seems to me that this argument will not bear the light of day. But, of course, the difficulty of the situation is that it is not a question of facts; it is a question of racial prejudice.
I have touched on the salient features of the Government Memorandum, and I believe that, in view of the difficulties, the prejudice, the heat, and the bad blood that have been engendered by this long controversy, it represents a very creditable attempt at a solution of this very difficult problem. I am sure anybody who has taken an interest in the subject must feel a deep debt of gratitude to the noble Duke for the obvious fairness with which he has endeavoured to solve it. But it must not be imagined, I fear, that this is going to be received gratefully in India. It still bears, as the Indians will say, the mark of racial discrimination, and I trust that your Lordships will remember that this feeling is not confined to political extremists. Last year I happened to be at Geneva as the senior representative of India at the League of Nations, and I remember that an Indian colleague of great distinction and acknowledged loyalty wanted to bring the matter of Kenya before the League. I communicated with my noble friend the Secretary of State, and I was assured by him that a solution of this matter had almost been arrived at; I refer, of course, to what is known as the Wood-Winterton Agreement, an Agreement which, as far as India is concerned, certainly would have been accepted with open arms.
I quote this case only because I want to show that it is a matter that goes very 1443 deep in Indian thought on this subject, and that from the Princes at the top down through all the stages there is this feeling that they do not wish for racial discrimination. I recognise, for my part, the very great advance that has been made by this decision of His Majesty's Government on the Ordinance of 1919, which is really the cause of all this trouble. I only wish it had been possible to eliminate from this decision just those portions which seem to savour of racial discrimination.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, I approach this subject from an angle different from that of my two noble friends, the last two Viceroys. I approach it mainly from the African point of view, though I shall have something to say before I sit down upon one aspect of the Indian point of view. I think that my noble friend the Secretary of State and His Majesty's Government have taken up very strong ground. They have altogether refused to allow this question to be considered as a sort of tug-of-war between Europeans and Indians. They have put it on its true basis as a question affecting Kenya and the people who inhabit that Colony, and they have refused to attempt to patch up the dispute by means of a compromise. They have definitely arrived at a solution which they believe to be wise and fair.
I most heartily congratulate my noble friend on this piece of work, first and mainly because of the stand that he has taken against the premature grant of responsible government. It is quite impossible for 10,000 Englishmen, or 20,000 Indians, or 10,000 Englishmen with 20,000 Indians to govern wisely and fairly an African population of two and a half millions. It is a task which is altogether beyond their strength. I have had experience of this. I have seen in South Africa what a tremendous task it is for more than a million white men to deal with six or seven millions of natives. I saw Natal with a very small white population, though it was vastly larger than that of Kenya, really overwhelmed by the responsibility and difficulty of dealing with the Zulus. When I was in South Africa that Colony had to face a Zulu Rebellion which, in my judgment, never would have occurred at all had South Africa been a Crown Colony. And it was a matter of immense 1444 relief to all those who cared for Natal, and I cared deeply, when the Union of South Africa took place and the whole of South Africa became responsible for the native problem in Natal.
If I may diverge for one moment to a kindred subject which is also within the responsibility of my noble friend the Secretary of State, I do not conceal from him or from this House that I regard the immediately pending grant of responsible government to Southern Rhodesia with anxiety on this score. Our fellow-countrymen there are a splendid population, but they are a mere handful and the natives are very numerous. I think they would have an extraordinarily difficult task to fulfil in governing on their own responsibility tribes like the Matabele who outnumber them in such great proportion. That is my only misgiving. I have the greatest possible confidence in the people of Southern Rhodesia, but I know from the experience of Natal what a terrific burden it is upon a small white community and how hard it is for them to be wise and fair.
But all these communities vastly exceed in numbers, if I may use that expression when the total numbers are really so small, the white population of Kenya. Therefore, I rejoice that my noble friend has said quite definitely and quite bluntly that there can be no question within any future that he can foresee of giving responsible government in Kenya to the present white population or the white and Indian populations taken together. I am quite sure that is in the interests of the Empire. It is in the interests of the Africans inhabiting that country, and, in the long run, it is in the interests of our own fellow-countrymen, that splendid class of settler that is now in Kenya, and of our Indian fellow-countrymen there.
Now I come to that aspect of the Indian side of the question as to which I must differ from my noble friend Lord Chelmsford, who has just spoken. I inadvertently cheered him. I thought he was praising the communal system of representation; but I discovered that, owing to some difficulty in hearing, I was mistaken and that he had been describing the common electoral roll. I should like to examine that question for a few moments. It is very unfortunate that an attempt is being made in certain quarters 1445 to represent the communal system of representation as something inferior to the common electoral roll—as something not really consistent with the true principles of democracy and, therefore, as a somewhat inferior thing. I believe those statements to be fundamentally untrue. Every system of representation is, after all, only a means to an end. There is no one hall-marked pattern of representation.
The ancients had quite different systems of democracy to ours, and our system of geographical representation with the electoral roll is a mere accident. It arises from the fact that for a long period there was only one interest that had voted in this country, and that was the landed interest. The easiest method of dividing the voters into constituencies was territorial. But the circumstances of modern democracy are very different. I regard this invention of the communal roll as a great contribution, and one of which more and more advantage will be taken in more and more places as the years go on. And this great contribution is an Indian contribution. It was made—if I am not correct in this my noble friends on the Cross Benches will correct me—the solution by the Hindu and the Mahomedan of their different aims and interests in the matter of representation in India. They invented the communal roll, and when I had the honour of presiding over a Select Committee of the two Houses of Parliament which dealt with the Government of India Act I was surprised to find that some of the very supporters of the system were apologetic for it instead of being proud of it. They put it forward as a temporary expedient. I do not believe that it is a temporary expedient, either in India or in Kenya. I believe it is going to spread, and I will tell your Lordships why.
When I was in South Africa it was very often my part to argue with my South African friends about the absence of all representation of the African native, even the civilised native, and my South African friends used to say: "Oh, but the white man represents the African interests." It is not true. It is perfectly impossible for the white man in South Africa or anywhere else adequately to represent the Africans. The psychology of the two races is different, the point of view is different, and the standards of civilisation 1446 are different. Take the case of Kenya. The African there has not begun civilisation. It is impossible to pretend that a white man can represent his interests in any real or reasonable sense, and it is equally impossible to suppose that an Indian can represent the African's interests. That is equally true of the Indian and of the European. In any circumstances is it possible to say that an Englishman can represent Indian opinion I Of course, he cannot. Nor can an Indian adequately represent British opinion.
Why? Because they represent two completely different civilisations, not inferior or superior civilisations, but different civilisations. The Indian is the older, and God forbid that I should for one moment put forward western civilisation as superior to the eastern. It is quite sufficient to state, what never can be refuted, that they are fundamentally different, and if they are fundamentally different it is certain that no Englishman could adequately represent the Indian point of view, and no Indian could adequately represent the English point of view. Therefore, the solution for them, as for the African, is the communal roll, which, in any Parliament or in any Legislature composed of three different races, or more than two races, is the only method, I believe, by which the real opinion of those races can be adequately and permanently protected and expressed. Therefore I am surprised and sorrowful that any of our Indian fellow countrymen should be ashamed, or appear to be ashamed, of the communal system of representation which they invented, and which I believe is going to play a great part in the solution of many of these problems of popular Government in the future.
I have only one word more to say, and that is in respect of a very old friend of mine whom my noble friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies mentioned, Sir Robert Coryndon, the Governor of Kenya. I had the privilege of getting to know him very well in South Africa. He served under me, and I found him always a very strong, wise, efficient and loyal public servant. I am sure that the task he has had to fulfil has been one of immense difficulty and responsibility, and I was very glad to hear what my noble friend said, because it is a great encouragement to our great public 1447 servants and our Governors in these distant Possessions when their work is thus recognised, when they are supported by their chief, and have such recognition as that which was so ably expressed by my noble friend.
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
My Lords, perhaps at this point you will allow me to say a few words. The two noble Lords, both of whom have held the very high position of Viceroy in India, have already borne eloquent testimony to the strength of Indian opinion on this subject, and, if I may say so, I entirely agree with what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Chelmsford, as to the vast amount of legendary matter that has grown up and associated itself with what is no doubt a complicated question, but of which the lines are comparatively clear. I have always represented, when I had the opportunity of speaking to our white settlers in Kenya, that this theory of theirs that they were going to be overwhelmed by vast masses of immigrants from India, coming there apparently for the purpose of overwhelming them, was a complete myth, tested either by common sense or by figures. Obviously the Indians from India would, like other people, enter the country for economic reasons, in order to get a living, and if they could not get a living in the country they would go back to India, and see if they could not do better in their own country.
Everybody will recognise the extraordinary difficulty of dealing—at least, of dealing in such a way as to please everybody—with the conditions in Kenya with 10,000 white men, 2,500,000 Africans, 22,000 Indians and 32,000 Arabs. I should like to say that on this question the Government of India—and it is only fair to them to say so—have shown a most vivid consciousness of the interests of India and have been most active in presenting the case of India in all its bearings, and in all its different aspects, to His Majesty's Government through myself. I want to emphasise, if I may, what has been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Chelmsford, for I expressed it very strongly to a large Committee of the House of Commons whom I addressed on this subject. It has been said by one of the settlers in Kenya that this was only a question that interested some of the friends of Gandhi, and some of the extremists 1448 in India. I said: "If that were so I should not be here to address this Committee of the House of Commons."
Interest in this question is universal in all political India, as has been shown repeatedly by the great organs of political expression in India, and by the Assembly and the Council of State. We have had the advantage also of having the whole case vividly presented to us from the Indian point of view by the deputation that came over from India, entirely unofficially, in the persons of Mr. Sastri, Mr. Jamnadas Dwarkadas, and Mr. Kemat. The treatment of Indians must be looked upon in the light of the great ambition of political India to earn a place as an equal partner among the Dominions of the British Empire and to share in the ambitions, the historical traditions, and the splendour of the Empire. They are deeply interested in what I may call the corollaries of that decision. Lord Hardinge has alluded to the Resolution of 1921 and much has been said on that. Certainly the deputation which came from India did not so much rely upon that—there were various interpretations and limitations put upon it—as they did upon what they called the broad and general equities of the case.
I should like to add this. Unfortunately and wrongly as I think, this settlement is denounced, so far as I have been able to see, in many of the Indian papers as being unfair to Indians at every point. All I ask them to do is to wait until they have seen the full text of this Memorandum, and when they have studied it they will see how unfair such a description is. Let me allude to one or two points in the White Paper. My noble friend Lord Selborne made a most eloquent defence of the communal system. It was so eloquent and earnest that I thought that he, as Chairman of the Joint Committee, must have been the author of it. I am sure it will interest him to know that although that system in many ways has prevailed in India there is in the Assembly and in the Council of State a very strong feeling against it.
Although the noble Earl says it is an Indian invention they do not seem to be so proud of their own offspring. They say: "We do not look upon it as a great invention. We think that where it can be avoided it should be avoided. We prefer the common roll." I agree with my 1449 noble friend that nobody can say that the communal system is any badge of inferiority. It is another method of arriving at the same basis. I differ from him in this—that I do think, in the peculiar circumstances of the Colony, it might have been better if you had had representatives who represented both Britons and Indians. That mingling of interests would have been of the greatest value. But I recognise that there are advantages in this communal roll in two ways. One is that the great system of African representation might fit more easily into it and, the second, that in the present strong division of opinion in Kenya it would be difficult for one race to represent the interests of the other.
May I express my sympathy with one point alluded to by Lord Hardinge when he said—I felt there was much force in it—that here are Indians prevented from acquiring land in the highlands, assuming it to be important that the highlands should be reserved for white settlers, while that privilege may be enjoyed by citizens of other States who are not citizens of the British Empire? I hope it may be possible to reserve the transference and grant of land to European British subjects.
It is entirely untrue to say, as the Indian papers suggest, that the scales are weighted against them in these decisions. Though they may criticise some portions of the Memorandum there are four points with which they are in the strongest 6ympathy. They agree with all that has been said by the most reverend Primate and other speakers as to the orientation of British policy in the protection of African races. Lord Chelmsford has told us that there has never been any difference of opinion in India on that subject, and if I may bring that information up to date I should say that both deputations, and especially that which came from India, strongly assented to that view and felt that the first consideration in Kenya must be those two and a half million Africans. They felt that it was a great thing to secure that there should be a majority of British officials, in whoso justice they could trust, upon the Assembly. They assured me over and over again, and it is a belief that will never be contradicted or shaken, that 1450 whatever their feelings might be about local administration they had the fullest confidence in the justice of the Central Government of the country.
The declaration that the grant of responsible self-government is out of the question within any period of time which need not be taken into consideration is very satisfactory. In the light of that, whatever differences of opinion there may be about franchise and votes have less importance. If they are not to be considered in the light of responsible government or leading up to responsible government they lose weight and importance. The question of segregation has been satisfactorily dealt with. I take note, and it is one of the most important declarations in this White Paper to which I desire to draw the particular attention of my Indian friends, that—Such racial discrimination in immigration regulations, whether specific or implied, would not be in accord with the general policy of His Majesty's Government…In the light of that declaration it will be imposible for intelligent Indian opinion, when it has carefully studied this document, to maintain the first impression which seems to have obtained, that this Memorandum weights the scales unfairly against Indians. They will find, when it is studied, that there is much of value in it and that both races in Kenya Colony will be able to work under this Constitution. The representative bodies, the Council of State and the Assembly in India, will recognise that the British Government has not dealt unfairly with this most difficult question.
My Lords, I will only detain your Lordships for one moment on this question. I had intended to offer some observations on the subject because I have had the advantage of visiting the country in question—admittedly, a long time ago, but the essentials of the problem have not changed at all—and also because I have been studying it with great care for some time past. But owing to the transference of the debate at short notice to to-day I, like a number of your Lordships who have been following this Question, was not able to be in my place and hear the earlier speeches and the statement of the noble Duke. Therefore it would be somewhat discourteous for me to offer any lengthy remarks now However, I should like to refer to one point, and one point only.
1451 I think it was Lord Milner, in the debate on July 14, 1920, who said that there was no question the reasonable consideration of which had been rendered more difficult by exaggerations. We have seen during the last two or three years, on the part of both white settlers and Indians, statements which can only be called very exaggerated. Both sides have repudiated certain lines of settlement in advance, and it would seem that the opinion which the noble Viscount has just expressed that there should be a period of waiting before decided comment is made is most apposite in the interests of the full settlement of this question. 1452 Whatever views may be held as to the details of the settlement, I think no one can deny that all parties have received a very full and careful hearing in this country, and consequently I hope, apart from all the details contained in the White Paper, that special attention may be addressed to the words with which it concludes, expressing the hope of His Majesty's Government that "a sincere effort will be made to restore in Kenya that spirit of co-operation and good will so essential to its welfare and development."
§ House adjourned at a quarter past six o'clock till tomorrow at eleven o'clock.